Drive by blogging…

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My poor neglected blog hasn’t got a look in lately for a number of reasons.

Have been unwell, a mix of viral infection, insomnia, fibromyalgia and inner ear infection has seen me down for the count for way too long… though I am starting to feel a bit more human.

As a consequence, not a lot of crafting going on… and what I am doing, is secret squirrel business for swaps, so I couldn’t show you anyway.

So what’s a girl to do when she needs to lie prone, but she can’t sleep… she reads… a lot!   Have read 9 books in the last month… averaging a book every 3-4 days.  

So it’s very timely that Pip at Meet Me at Mike’s has started to compile a list of must reads and that Alicia at Posy Get’s Cosy has produced a Children’s Summer Reading List.   I’m in bookworm heaven… as I have quite a few of these books sitting on shelves to read.   Pip’s list is still being compiled so I’ll post a link to it when it’s finished.    By the way, both these blogs are required reading not just because they love books but they also love a lot of things I do to!
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Will be back later in the week with some photo’s of Flossie’s recent finished items… nice to know someone in the family is being productive.   And will show you the photo’s of one of the secret squirrel swaps which has arrived at it’s destination.

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Best laid plans…

Well my planned Friday Night Sew In was a bust…

Have been struggling with insomnia for the last 10 days, with resulting fatique, headaches and general aches and pains.

Lucky if I manage 4 hours sleep each night… so by Friday I was literally running on fumes… and woke up Friday morning to ear ache, sore and itchy eye and blocked nose… but only down the right side of my face!

A very late start at work, mean’t a very late finish… so I went home and curled up under a crocheted blanket and watched a repeat of Agatha Christie and then a soak in the tub with the hope of getting some sleep.

Didn’t quite work out that way… still awake at 5.00am, but when I did go to sleep I slept through until the phone woke me at 12.30pm.

My weekend was a write-off really… though I did manage to do some work on the Butterfly wallhanging on Saturday night.

Where, oh where, have I been…

I’ve been to London to visit the Queen… yeah right!

Have been away in the land of pucky, sneezy, sleepy, mopey etc. with a recurring viral infection, migraines, gastro etc.   Still not 100% but getting there.

That’s not to say that I haven’t actually been doing anything, have quite a few photos to share on my work prior to getting sick and others work in progress so will be doing a series of blog posts over the next little while to play catch up.

Also working on some secret squirrel stuff for an online swap – will post some sneaky peaks soon.

So stay tuned!

Butterfly and Blossoms…

Another finish… am on a roll here!

This littly doily was a kit provided to us when we did Girl’s Day Out at Country Thyme Patchwork with Leanne, Rosalie and Melly in 2009.

It’s one of Leanne’s designs, I didn’t start it on the day, but much, much later, and was another project dug out at Easter time and had the stitchery finished in between my sniffles at the screen while watching the last two seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.

Mum helped me put it together last weekend, and while we had a slight problem with catching the ric rac down, I’m happy with it… it’s going to live under one of my bedside lamps.

See, I told you I have no interest in quilting at present… am besotted with fancy work/ stitchery/ embroidery – particularly if they’re a bit on the vintagey side, using bright clear colours or crochet!

Flossie’s Flaunt…

Well, as Jasmine has quite rightly said in a comment here, what am I doing and why aren’t I talking about it here?

I was going to do a post earlier in the week, but have spent the week doing a bit of a reorganisation of the blog and some other stuff.   Blog pages now sorted out into different crafty endeavours, quilting, stitchery and cross-stitch and updated the status of various works in progress etc.

Mum, Flossie, stayed last week, and spent the week diligently on the machine putting things together that she’s been working on over the last little while.   Funny how by coming to stay here (which is only 10 minutes by car from her house anyway) she gives herself permission to just go for it – whereas if she stayed home, she’d feel the need to do a load of washing, or stop to cook a meal.

We had great plans to work all day at machine, cutting mat and ironing board, and then break at dinner time, head out to one of the many options for food nearby and then come home to a night of sitting in front of the TV with DVDs and some handwork.   Unfortunately the time of year nixed that idea, when most of the local cafes/ takeaways closed for the holidays!

I should explain, my Mum is a former seamstress, who made her living for a number of years making children’s and babies clothing that we sold at various local markets and stores.   So, she’s a production line quilter… she works through various stages of a process on a variety of things, i.e. prepping, cutting out, sewing individual pieces etc.   For instances, it’s not unusual for her to have a dozen different bags cut out at once and then she gets them all finished in a major run (actually she did make about 10 bags leading up to Christmas that she gave as gifts to neighbours and people that she interacted with during the year – the council cleaner, the social workers at her local “huff n’ puff’ group).   Therefore, its not unusual that some of these projects go back a number of years.

So without further ado….

I LOVE BLUE – buttonhole hearts using scraps of blue fabrics.  Stitched over 12 months and put together last week.   Only details we have is on the pattern pack which makes reference to an obsolete website called Crafty Patterns?

COUNTRY DAYS – one of the early Blocks of the months Mum bought, this project has been on the go for a long time – probably at least 5 years if not longer.   The designer is Robb-n-Graves and you can see from the attached link that it was meant to be a 12 block quilt with an appliqued final border.   Unfortunately, the supplier of the BOM was a bit stingy with her background squares, and after appliqueing some of the blocks came up much smaller than the 10.5 inch required.   Mum’s kept those 3 blocks and will turn them into either a runner or cushions.   She didn’t like the supplied sashing and border fabric, so we bought something else, that works really well and she’s decided to not do the final applique border, but some fancy quilting instead.

This lovely is humongous!   The central Dresden plate block measures 32 inches.   When it’s final border is put on it will measure 81.5 inches.  Made from Mum’s reproduction stash, using a lovely caramel/tan background print I bought for her at Threadbear in 2008 – I rang and we auditioned fabric over the phone (luckily she liked it!).    This is a Leigh Latimore design called Autumn Magic printed in APQ Vol. 15 No. 6.    Some initial dramas with this one as after cutting and piecing the individual plate shapes Mum couldn’t get them to fit together – she’d gone off a little in her seam allowance and hence bubbly plates – so some major frogging required and heavily basted while she hand appliqued them down.   Top put together while she watched the Hopman Cup!   Will need to take a better photo once the final border goes on.

And talking about Dresden Plates!   I bought from ebay a few years ago a kit of precut Dresden plates for Mum… having sewn up all of the individual petal shapes she was having major trouble with randomness in putting them together, so I sorted them into individual sets for her and she’s put half of them together.

Feathered Friends, this is a Melly and Me pattern – one of the patterns we received at Country Thyme’s Girls Day Out last year, and the fabric is a kit I purchased there.   I did all the stitching, and Mum made up the bag for me.

This was a Rosalie Quinlan pattern – meant to have an applique on the front, but instead Mum used some fabrics I picked up ‘just because’ to make the bag on the left for me, and some oriental fabric for the bag on the right for her.

Quilter’s Pockets.   Made from a Blue Willow Cottage pattern.  I love the Blue Willow Cottage accessories patterns – we’ve made quite a few.   The 30s print one is mine, of course.   The reproduction print one, Mum’s, made from scraps from both collections.   These is a fantastic little bag that is perfect for the hexagon mat and cutter we received in a Blue Willow Cottage class we did at one of the craft shows last year!

That pretty much covers Mum’s activity, apart from some applique and handquilting done each evening – will post photo’s when those projects are finished.

As for me – apart from acting as hostess, I worked consistently on some blocks for a swap, which I’ll post photo’s of next week – prepping applique, cutting fabric for 9 patches etc.

As well as finishing the stitching on another of the Country Thyme Girls Day Out kits, except I’ve misplaced the pattern to finish off Rosalie’s bag and needle case, so didn’t get it finished.

And some more cross-stitch – still a work in progress, more photo’s to follow.

Apart from that, I’m reading lots, currently reading Pride and Prejudice, and have been to the movies at least once a week, if not more often and generally having a lovely time.

Staycation Day 1 – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Yesterday was Day 1 of my 6 week ‘staycation’ and I’m hoping to do a blog post each day monitoring my progress towards my goal of using needle and thread every day!

I spent the majority of the day doing shopping, as another goal of this break is to get into a better ‘eating’ regime.   Spent the afternoon at Mum’s basting a quilt top to take to our hand quilting class at Needle and Pins last night.

This was the 2nd and last class with Kaye – last month we worked on a practice piece learning Kaye’s technique involving using your thumb and a very loose quilt.   I wanted to have a go at working on something bigger, so have started handquilting a quilt made for me by Anjii from QDU several years ago… can’t show photo as I left the quilt at Mum’s last night to do some work on tomorrow.

Zen De Jour for Staycation 1

Have made a start on my Blackbird Designs Stockings Series which I am doing as part of a year long Cross Stitch Chrismas Stitch along organised by Yoyo at Dragon My Needle.   Each of the monthly patterns include 3 stockings, and I am hoping to get at least 1 stitched each month.   This one is  Winter Carnation.   Using Stitches and Spice Wintered Marble 32ct Belfast Linen and Gentle Arts threads.

Also still progressing on the South Seas Lace SAL, though Claire and Sandra have finished their’s awhile ago!   It’s coming along, a little bit at a time.

Viewing De Jour

While doing this work, I’ve been watching Season One of the X Files – I loved this show back in the day, one of those programs where I’d seriously debate going out if it was X files night!   So, have been enjoying watching these again, and realising that some of these still are really creepy!   Have watched about 7 episodes over the last week.

Reading de Jour

Finished Book 8 of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Series – Dead to Worse – having read 1-8 over the last 2 weeks.   These are ok, not as great as other Harris books, but fun and easy to read.

Am hoping to do a fair bit of reading or re-reading over this break.   Though this year has already been a major reading year for me.

Only other thing to show is these Christmas decorations I made for a group of friends last week.   The 6 of us worked together between 1990-1995 and have regularly caught up since, usually for brunch several times a year and an annual Christmas get together.  I’ve missed a lot of the catch ups this year, so it was lovely to see them all last weekend – and as has become tradition – I made them all a hand stitched ornament.   These designs came from a vintage book of iron on’s – I had wondered if they’d still work – well they worked so well not only did they iron on to the fabric, but I also each image imprinted on my ironing board cover!   There are about 50 designs in the book, and I’ve decided to do each of them onto blocks next year to see about incorporating them into a quilt – as they were fun to do!

Now!  Regarding that blog title.  I usually go all out decorating for Christmas, but since moving into the place I’m in I haven’t been motivated at all – hence Christmas decorations – of the santa and angel variety – have been kept in the garage for the last 2 years.   Mum, on the other hand – transforms her house each year – there is usually some new stitchery project or quilt, plus the old ones – to the point that she’s running out of room.   So below – a tour of Flossie’s Christmas living room!

The mantle – filled with homemade stockings.

Redwork Santa – a design from a McCalls Quilts for Christmas Magazine

Technicolour Christmas – a Row by Row swap we participated in – sorry for the blurry photo, and the colours are a lot more vibrant then they appear – all Moda Marbles fabrics,

Another blurry photo – Various redwork Christmas designs – made by Mum about 6 years ago – still one of my favourites!

A variety of stitcheries.

Below are Mum’s projects from this year – one a little stitchery, the other a English paper pieced Christmas tree – she was still working on this when I took the photo’s last weekend, but it’s now finished and up on the wall.

And each year Mum makes a Christmas themed T-shirt for my sister and herself (much as I love the craft – I ain’t going to wear patchwork or applique!!!).   These are this years efforts.

And finally – one my favourite of the Mum’s Christmas decoration – she’s made lots of these over the years!

She’s making a list and checking it twice…

Put away the books, we’re out of school
The weather’s warm but we’ll play it cool
We’re on staycation, havin’ lots of fun
S-T-A-Y-C-A-T-I-O-N in the summer sun

Can you tell I’m getting a little excited?   Only 16 more sleeps before I go on leave and I don’t go back to work till the end of January – 43 days off – woo hoo!

This will be the longest continuous break I’ve had since I was diagnosed with glandular fever 20+years ago, and I spent 5 weeks at home feeling cruddy and the only energy I had was to cross stitch while getting addicted to Santa Barbara and Days of Our Lives (I watched the first episode that Patch appeared in and was hooked, lol).

But like then, I’m going to be predominantly housebound, apart from some small trips and a quilt class or two… and a friend coming to stay for a few days.   May actually be forced to be housebound, as my nephew’s car is off the road and he’s regularly borrowing mine to get to and from work.

Flossie (Mum) coming to stay for the 1st week of the New Year, we’re going to have a ‘bee’ between putting together some quilt tops and finishing off some small projects like wallhangings and bags.

It’ll be the usual deal of her using the machine, and my cutting and pressing…though I am thinking of getting her to help me make a start on either one of these gorgeous quilts by Roslyn of BloomSimply a Bloom or Sweet Menagerie.

A bit inspired by Blessed’s version of Simply a Bloom and the bundle of Allspice Tapestry Charm Squares and Jelly Rolls I found when sorting out the stash for the sale of surplus items!

Both of these seem like relatively simple projects for someone who is less than comfortable on the machine, as it’s just straight sewing…

Am busy getting organised and things prepped with the intention of sewing something every day!

Things I must do while on staycation:

  • Get my blocks finished and posted to Aunt Pitty Pat for the Holly Jolly Christmas Block Swap – have got all my backgrounds cut, just need to sit down this week and start to prep the appliques, I’m doing Christmas Wreaths, Plum Puddings and Christmas Ornaments

  • Make softie book/s of this panel – I commented on the Busy Thimbles blog and as a result the panels arrived today and I get to have a play… already have ideas swarming through my head
  • Finish my South Seas Lace cross-stitch… as usual I’m lagging behind behind on this SAL, both Claire and Sandra have finished theirs… and I’m still stitching on mine, making slow progress… got bored with the narrow border and wanted to see what the final border looked like.

Actually, check out Sandra’s Grand Marquoir finish post… isn’t it gorgeous?   This is another project I’m lagging behind on, I’ve done 3 letters…sigh…

  • Keep up to date with The Parsonage Dresden Plate Exchange – I’m working on Kylie’s at present … you can see one of her blocks below, I didn’t make this one, Jules did.    I’ll also have Jules handed over to me in the next fortnight.

  • Start my Blackbird Design Stocking Series – I’m hoping to be part of Dragon My Needle’s Christmas Design SAL – a year long stitch along working on particular Christmas Designs.  I got the January 2009 kit from Stitches and Spice for these gorgeous little stockings, and hope to get the rest of the series during 2010.  So the aim is to stitch at least 1 stocking a month during 2010.

Things I’d like to do while on staycation (and more likely towards the end of my 43 days will be getting lots of things prepped so that I can just pick things up and work on them once I get back to work… including:

  • Prep Aunt Millie’s Garden blocks – I’m using a white with black pindot background and lots of spotty/dotty/striped bright fabric
  • Prep Love Letters blocks – I’ve got 2 lots of fabric for these, deep navy, burgundy, browns on tan backgrounds for Mum, and the 3 Sisters Chocolat range that was used in the original quilt for me.   Not going to make both – will get the blocks ready for Mum to stitch hers, and will prep and applique mine

  • Organise cross-stitch patterns for Aury’s Bride’s Tree SAL.  The Bride’s Tree is a German tradition. It is believed that a couple’s Christmas tree needs twelve specific ornaments for happiness in their life journey together. My eldest nephew and his girl get married in November 2010, and have asked us to give them money towards their honeymoon in lieu of gifts as they are funding the wedding themselves.   This seemed like a nice idea, to make them 13 ornaments for their 1st tree as a married couple, and I thought I’d look for quakerstyle patterns for each months theme, and have found some freebie patterns already i.e. the quaker heart to represent true love and love of family.

I’d also really like to aim to do a blog post a day… either a progress report on what I’m working on, or maybe dragging out some WIPs/PIGs and posting in more detail, in an attempt to shame me into progressing some of these.

Anyway, off away to do the dishes and to bed… coming home tomorrow night to progress the embroidery on some Christmas ornaments for a catch up with some girlfriends weekend after next.

Will blog a Christmas themed post at the weekend, hopefully to show the finished ornaments, and my first blocks for Holly Jolly as well as some show and tell as Mum has started decorating the house today, and I realised none of her Christmas quilts are recorded on the blog.