Friday, 31 October 2014

Why I hate Halloween

Please skip on to the next blog in your reading list if the title of this post offends you.

Skip on if you don't want to read through what may end up being a wordy post with no pictures.

I won't mind.

I was talking to someone earlier today about why I hate Halloween and got called a grumpy old woman. I laughed it off but it's been playing on my mind.

My experience where I live of Halloween is that children I don't know at all turn up on my doorstep expecting me to provide them with something. Sometimes these are little children accompanied by an adult, sometimes this can be a group of teenagers on their own, not even dressed up.

I live alone. I don't put any decorations outside my house to indicate that this is welcome. I have over the years resorted to turning off all the lights in rooms at the front of the house and sitting in the back. They still ring the doorbell.

For me, with my life experiences I can find it odd that adults are teaching kids to approach and beg from complete strangers, I can also find it intimidating and threatening.

A year and a week ago a woman was attacked on my doorstep by a complete stranger who threatened to kill her. Eventfully I was able to get her inside my house and the police did catch him. For months I was really distressed and jumped ever time the doorbell rang. As you can imagine, Halloween then was really upsetting so close to the attack.

This year, the whole thing makes me angry. I'm angry that my choice not to participate is disrespected by people. I'm angry that for this night I feel I can't live as I want to in my own home. I'm angry that I am mocked for this, that my I feeling unsafe with strangers coming to the door is mocked. Those feelings are not just based on what happened last year but are a product of a childhood of abusive relationships.

So for anyone still reading, if you find yourself calling someone a killjoy for not wanting to get involved I hope you will stop for a moment and think that they have that right. There may be a great deal going on for them that you don't know about.

And yes, this was a wordy post, I did warn you at the beginning.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Scrap loving

If you've been a long time reader of tis blog you may have picked up how much I love using scraps.

Well I'm not the only one and my friends Leanne and Nicky have created a new linky party to share the love. Somehow with the wonders of technology they have worked out how to have the same linky party from two separate blogs but go and check them both out.

I've entered my all time favourite scrappy quilt, called appropriated enough Scraptastic and I blogged about it a long time ago.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Finish a long Qtr 4

It's time to declare my aims for the rest of the year. I have no idea if I will get anything much finish or just follow the example of the last quarter where I just started lots of new things. First, all I need to finish on Migraine is the binding.
The same for my kinky bee quilt, it also only needs a binding.
This charity quilt needs some work with unpicking some quilting and then binding.
The must do though is this mini quilt for the Instagram mini swap as the deadline is December.
And another must do - because it's been a Wip for over two years and I want to give it to my Mum for her birthday in a few weeks is this shawl.
I'm going to leave it at that. Hopefully I will achieve more but I'm not going to pressure myself.
For lots of other targets, check out Katy's blog.    

Monday, 6 October 2014

Finish a long Q3 progress

Well I didn't do very well at my list.

In then end I managed to complete only a few things on my list.

First was my Neon mini which only need a hanging sleeve for Festival of Quilts.

Next was Ice Cream Parlour which also needed binding for FoQ.

I did finish some boxy pouches as well for FQR but forgot to take a pic.

I seem to have been starting all sorts of different things rather than finishing anything the last few months.

Ah well, you can see more productive people over at Katy's blog

Thursday, 2 October 2014


No! I'm not being rude, this post is all about balls.

Nice balls! Pretty balls! Decorative balls! Balls that use up scrap fabric.

For ages I've been reading up on Temari and Kimekomi and over the last few months I've given them a go.

Kimekomi is decorating a balls with fabric, you draw a design onto a styrofoam ball, cut the lines and prod the fabric into the ball. I found great tutorials here.

Temari is a bit more complicated, but it is a great way to use up all those various threads hanging around. Again, I've been using a styrofoam ball, but you can build your ball up from any old fabric or wadding as well.

There are lots of instructions and tutorials for different designs here. I've only touched ideas from the beginners category but they are very effective.

And here are all my balls together, aren't they pretty?


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Bit of this, bit of that

For some reason I haven't been able to focus on one thing at a time lately. I've been doing a bit of this, a bit of that. Very little is actually getting finished.

I completed the stitching on this needlepoint, but it needs to be finished into a cushion.


I started both of these tops at the Fat Quarterly Retreat and finished them off, but haven't started quilting them yet.


I also made this bonus top from scraps.


And this one from some candy.

I did turn some lovely hand printed scraps Karen gave me into this mini and pencil case.


I also started playing with balls! Insert any cheap joke of your choosing here.

Temari and Kimekomi balls using syrofoam shapes. These are fun and a relatively quick finish.


Until I get my focus back, I'm going to keep faffing around with whatever takes my fancy.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Giveaway winner

Mr random number generator has spoken


And the winner made me laugh out loud with joy at being able to make something for my long time blogging buddy Shay who was one of my first blogging friends and she probably is still the nuttiest out there.

Thanks all for entering.


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Questions about process

My last post I promise because of the weekend at festival of quilts.

The oddest thing I found being in our display booth was hearing people discussing my quilt. It felt like I was eavesdropping on private conversations but because I made it I couldn't help myself.

However I had some brilliantly fun and engaging conversations over it as well and it brought up a lot for me about the process I use to make a quilt.

The short response is I don't have one. But that not completely true. However I don't plan in advance at all.

This quilt has been a long time in the making. Back in the 90's when I first got interested in quilting (even though I didn't try it for another decade) one of the first books I bought was Jinny Beyers Colour Confidence for Quilters.

This is where I first discovered tumbling blocks and thought they were fantastic. They appealed to the part of my brain that loved doing technical drawings at school with perspective. I never forgot that. When I did start quilting I realised that all those Y seams would be a nightmare.

Last year I had a tidy up of my stash and found a kona roll up that I had forgotten I had bought from Simply Solids years ago. It called to me and for no particular reason I thought I would use 3 strips to make some tumbling blocks which I did.

Somehow at this stage in my quilting career it wasn't as scary as I had thought it would be. I machine stitched them and didn't mark dots or any of the other things I had read about but I managed to judge the spot correctly to stop and start. I was so happy with them I did a few more.

I then went to my newly installed design wall and laid them out. I knew then I was going to keep going until I finished the whole roll. So I did.

Then I had to decide how to sew them together and I fumbled my way through that by doing them in sections. When I had them all done I thought about leaving the edges zigzag, trim the blocks or insert triangles. I'm not a fan of zigzag edges, couldn't stand the thought of cutting the blocks I had pieced so inserts were the only option.

I found a suitable solid in my stash and finally I had a top I loved.

It stayed like this for about 8 months and then finally I had time to quilt it. I purchased a frame last year and felt I had got used to it enough to start playing with this top.

I knew I wanted to go a bit mad on it and do lots of free form feathers. I had it loaded up for about a week during half term and I just had fun. I did all sorts of feathers and now and again tried something else.

No plans to it at all. It was like doodling over an enormous big sheet of paper. And when it was done and I unrolled it off the frame to see it all in one go I was delighted. The fun and joy I had in making it from that first tumbling block was there to see. I know there are flaws but I don't care. I see them and smile to myself and remember how relaxed I felt making it.

And that maybe is the biggest lesson for me. I made it purely and totally for myself just because I could. I didn't ever anticipate it would be shown, never mind at the festival of quilts. It had no purpose, it didn't have to be something that met a set of criteria or be technically proficient enough to be judged. I don't think I can work like that because it would stress me out entirely and my anxiety would be too much.

I work organically and see what happens. I know that is terrifying for some people, I know I met them this weekend. I'm not saying my way is better, but it is the way that works for me.

And in this case, it didn't turn out too badly did it?

By the way, I use a Juki TL-98 P on the frame. It's got a bigger harp which give me more room. I could have done this without a frame, but I loath basting which was the main motivator for me buying it.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

300th post

I was planning a different post still on the theme of the festival of quilts but that can wait until tomorrow as I noticed just in time that this is my 300th post.

When I hit 200 it was around my 2nd blogiversary - well it's taken over 2.5 years more to get those next 100 posts done.

I did stop for a minute wondering why I had slowed my posting down so dramatically then I remembered - I went back to school and trained to be a counsellor in those years so my lifestyle changed completely.

But I feel like celebrating and I'm going to follow the same format I used last time. Just comment on this post naming a colour choice and I will make you a mini quilt. I can't say when I will get it done or what style it will be, it will depend on whatever takes my fancy at the time.

To give you some idea what to expect the Last time, Amanda asked for turquoise and red and I made her this. Sorry it's a crappy photo, somethings haven't changed over the years.

I will leave it open until a week today and find my old friend RNG on Wednesday evening 20th August.



Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Stand at FOQ's

After all the words in the last post, its time for pictures of our gallery space at Festival of quilts.

The mini in this pic with the new york beauty used patterns from this great link

Dorothy's quilt on the right uses the Lotus pattern from Jaybirdquilts
My tumbling blocks quilt - more on this in my next post.
My tumbling on the left and in the bottom right my mini "Neon"
Its hard to photograph the effect of the variegated thread
This quilt of Judi's was made using a design by Kati Spencer at
The entrance. I made the hanging logo with Dorothy who also designed it. Wasn't it a great idea. We needed the flag to differentiate us from the London Canada guild! Yes that has been a problem.
The guild baby quilt which I assembled and quilted. All the blocks used patterns from the link at the top of this post.
Claire's mini in the middle there is from Julie Herman's Skip the Borders book - the pattern is White Stars
Judith's Single Boy is a version of Denyse Schmidt's fabulous quilt.
There are three EPP's from Dorothy there that she started at last years Fat Quarterly retreat designed and taught by Katy Jones

Festival of Quilts

I spent Saturday and Sunday at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC. The LMQG was very lucky to have been offered a gallery space so I spent most of my time there talking to the many many visitors we had.

Sadly it meant I didn't really see much of the rest of the show because I was so knackered I didn't have the energy or brainpower left at the end of the day on Saturday to look at much, but it also meant I didn't have time to spend much either so that was very good for my bank balance.

I got to talk to so many wonderful people and if any of you are stopping by here, thank you so much. I enjoyed talking to you all but it did become a complete blur.

The experience left me thinking about a few things in a lot more detail than I have ever done before and I will address a couple of them here.

What is modern quilt and is there any different really to traditional or contempory quilting?

The answer to that is I don't really know. I found it very hard to define it and I believe the display we had showed such a variety of quilts that they couldn't all be simply lumped into a set of rules and definitions. While there is an aesthetic element to it, I also believe there is a state of mind around it.

Yes, it's about solids and modern prints and negative space and functionality and putting a twist on traditional blocks or not having a block structure at all. However, I'm sure what was being done in the 70's was considered modern to the generation before and likewise going back in time. I remember some of the Victoria quilts at the V&A show had prints that would be snapped up today as designer fabrics they were so bright and funky.

So as a title I've never felt very comfortable with it and that came home to me this weekend why. In another 20 or 30 years what we do will be old hat and the next generation will be wondering why we call what we did "modern".

But I mentioned a state of mind as well - this I think ties into the next question that came up a lot. Why did we form our own guild and not join the established ones?

When I first started quilting I explored my local guilds. Apart from the fact they all had waiting lists, their meeting arrangements didn't suit me. Either they met on weekdays or weekday evenings. Not suitable for someone working full time, especially as I frequently work away from home and stay away all week.

I learned to quilt on the internet and then became part of a quilt community on the internet. Eventfully I want to meet people in the real world as well who shared my passion. Who didn't think it was weird if I stroked a cushion in a shop and who could gets as excited as I did over new prints and designs.

The established guilds near me didn't seem to be offering me the sense of community I was looking for. I went to a show near me which was lovely but I had an experience which put me off. They were asking people to hand piece some 9 patches at a table and I sat down to do one. A very nice lady who was there volunteering told me how I should do it. And I mean it when I say she was nice, but she also assumed that I needed telling and didn't ask me. I knew how to nest my seams, I had learnt it on the internet. It became clear to me that as nice as people were there, I didn't feel I fitted in even if their meeting schedule was suitable for a working woman.

I dont need to attend a guild to be taught things. Apart from some classes at the fat quarterly retreat and some workshops at FOQ I have never been to a class for any craft. I have alway taught myself but the rise of the internet has made it much easier to find new ideas and different techniques.

I have the mindset that there is no right or wrong way to do anything, just the way that works best for me. I love quilting and it is a total passion, but I do it for fun and it would not be fun if I felt there were rules I have to follow.

The LMQG has given me the opportunity to meet people who feel the same way as I do. We use social media to share ideas around the world and also get to stroke fabric together in real life. It's about being part of a community that I feel I fit into.

This has become a lot wordier than I intended so thank you if you are still reading. I wonder what modern quilting means to you and if you are part of a guild what you get from it?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Fat Quarterly Retreat 2014

Last weekend was the 3rd Fat Quarterly Retreat. Now like a muppet I didn't take many photos and still haven't sorted out my goodies or anything.

Thankfully others are a lot more organised than I am and if you check out the linky party you will be able to read a lot more about it.

I had an absolutely wonderful time over the whole weekend.

I did two different classes with Jen Kingwell. One on hand quilting and the other on hand piecing and appliqué based on her Green Tea and Sweet Beans pattern. She was a great teacher and I learned loads as well as being down to earth and just plain lovely. Having her on our quiz team was very amusing when her shop was an answer.

Jen also provided all the attendees to her classes with a finger pin cushion.


I also did two classes with Karen Lewis of Blueberry Park. The first was on screen printing and I had great fun and left with lots of ideas.


The second class was one where she stepped in at the last minute as the planned tutor wasn't well. I've always wanted to make one of Charlotte's fracture quilts and now I have finally started it. All the fabric for this class was very generously provided by Oakshott and it was great fun working out a colour palette.

My last class was with Lynne herself and was a great little class on the app Touchdraw. I've been using this for a while but I was hoping to get some hints and tips and boy did I! I've been squealing ever since over one particular feature which I will explore in more detail later on.

For me though as great as the classes were, it's all about the people. Spending time with old friends, getting to know some better and making new ones. I loved it. The energy helped reinvigorate me as I have been running on empty for some time, laughter really is the best therapy.

And talking of therapy, the main reason I have been so depleted is that after two years I completed my HPD in counselling and psychotherapy, I am now a qualified counsellor. Over the last term the stress and anxiety had been really getting to me and although my course ended the week before the retreat I hadn't been able to unwind until the retreat. That's when I was able to finally relax.

I'll post later on the goodies I came away with.