Saturday, 28 May 2011

Good things come in 2 ounce packages

scrap vomit

This last couple of weeks I've been driven by a new obsession - to reduce the two carrier bags full of fabric scraps I've been hoarding into 2.5" squares. Oh yes, bring on the scrap vomit. I loved the idea of this quilt ever since I saw Katy's post and mock up over at I'm a Ginger Monkey, and the finished quilt is beautiful. Then there's the name, of course, which seems to have inspired admiration and revulsion in equal measure, for me it's a complete winner; how could anyone not want to make a quilt called 'scrap vomit'?

There is something immensely satisfying about trimming down all those offcuts of fabric and being left with a towering, multi-coloured, pile of fabric squares. That's the beauty of scrap vomit, all those mismatched squares come together in a glorious riot of colour. If there's pleasure to be found in lining up those edges on the grid of my cutting mat and ruler edge and neatly cutting them to size, I'm even more delighted by the 100-square stacks I've been making. And, I discovered a stash of little ziplock bags, the perfect size to accommodate them, each package weighing in at around 2 ounces; the husband has been wildly amused by my bagging them and weighing them at the dining table!

scrap vomit

At 623 squares (and a full 342 - or 7 ounces - short of the 965 I'll be needing to complete even the lap-sized quilt, there's a danger I'll be compelled to reduce all my yardage to 2.5 inch squares, which is really defeating the scrap-busting point of this quilt.

Any one else scrap vomiting? There's a scrap vomit appreciation society group over on flickr, and the finished quilts are all looking gorgeous. I can't wait to get sewing now, once I've carved up the remaining squares.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


It seems I picked a bad week to blog daily, as blogger had a bit of a wobble and went into read-only as well as deleting various posts and comments. Though the venture was probably doomed to failure, it's nice to be able to blame the technology instead of myself for a change.

So let's draw a line under last week. Back to today. It's been a busy Sunday, as Sundays always seem to be. It started with a frantic tidy-up ready for a house viewing. A house viewing where I managed to speak Welsh with the viewer (there's a lot of us ex-pats up and down the Thames valley). I also distinguished myself by saying 'this is the front door' after coming back through the house from the garden. It was as if I thought he might have become disorientated having walked through the whole house. Let's be clear, we haven't got a West wing or anything, we live in a very compact house (I mean, err, very spacious, light and airy blah blah). I managed to giggle only slightly before regaining estate agent-like composure.

boy hair cut

Today I also cut a small boy's hair (the resident small boy, not a random small boy from the street) and the husband's hair. I upset the small boy by using a wet comb on his head and unnerved the husband by laughing most of the way through his, but they both seem to have come through unscathed.

avant garde baby dinner

This afternoon, I defrosted some ice-cubed portions of food I had made up for the baby. I thought she was getting pasta bolognese with a side order of sweet potato, which was maybe ever-so-slightly not masterchef. It transpired she was getting pasta bolognese with a side order of cod and sweet potato: definitely not masterchef.

bread surgery

This evening I performed bread surgery, making incisions in 3cm thick slices to make Bill's ham and gruyère French toast. It was very very good. A bit radical serving a breakfast dish for dinner, but I'm nothing if not radical (witness the bolognese and sweet potato with cod).

Tonight I ignored the ironing pile for so long that the husband is now working his way through it as I type.

Hope you had a good weekend.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Start them young!

I really love seeing my children getting excited about making things. Over Easter they suddenly both had a burning desire to sew. The girl wanted to make a pretty lavender bag for the tooth fairy (she chose a fairy-flimsy Japanese gauze) and the boy wanted to make a little purse (Japanese car print fabric and precisely 5 blue buttons). They were very definite about their ideas and choices, and they were totally focused on their work.



It seems the whole stitching thing and a general appreciation of things handmade has been seeping in to them through some kind of osmosis for some time. Witness my 7 year old's homework over Easter: sentence 3 "I knitted a tea cosy". Atta girl!


Then I found some abandoned sheets of paper featuring her designs for purses:


You will need
gold (thin) t[h]re[a]d
Any lov[e]ly fab[r]ic
Flower lining
Any nice but[t]on


Got to love "Any nice fabric (not shown)"!

There was also my 5 year old's homework a little while back. He chose to draw his oldest teddy in her handknitted dress.

a 5 year old boy's homework, Jan 2011

Let's be honest here, the reason he chose Nee Nee was that she's white, so he thought he'd have less colouring in to do (ever the pragmatist!), but I did grin when I read his text:

This is my teddy bear
Her name is Nee Nee
I got her from my Grandad
My Great Nana knitted the dress
Sadly she isn't alive any more

We're building up quite an archive of the cute stuff! Gold stars all round!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

AOB: A make a month in 2010

Phew. Day 2 of tying up those loose ends and I'm still here. I nearly forgot, but not quite! Thanks so much for the quilt appreciation, I really enjoyed working with a different colour scheme and definitely need some more orange in my life now.

So, remember back in January 2010, I had this bright idea, A Make a Month in 2010. I set up a flickr group and had a blog button and everything. Anticipating a bit of a setback in my creative output after the birth of my daughter in May, I thought this might keep me on the crafting straight and narrow; the guilt of keeping up with everyone else would surely keep me going! I even managed to keep it up until around June ... I am quite possibly the worst sewalong starter in the world. Thanks to Ruth for taking the reins when I was off snoozing, rocking and feeding! I have to say though, even though I fell behind in the blogging and flickr uploading, I was still with you all in spirit and managed, by the skin of my teeth to complete my 12 projects. It's been fun seeing everyone else's makes too.

Here's my finished mosaic of makes. If you click on the pic, you'll go to my flickr where you can see all the individual makes. Anyone else fancy sharing a mosaic of their 12 (total or favourite!) makes in 2010? You can link in the comments and upload to the group. I'm going to close the pool by the end of the month, so a bit more time for late finishers like me!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Finishing what I started

I've been so neglectful of my blog just lately. There are 101 things I'd meant to blog, but somehow time passed and I hadn't got around to it. I don't like leaving things unfinished though; witness my recurring nightmare of being in the final year of my degree, a week before my final exams and realising I have neither chosen my special authors, nor read any of their novels. I can feel that deep dread in the pit of my stomach just thinking about it. I think the dream is born of an anxiety about not finishing things (as well as not starting things I said I'd do!). So in the spirit of starting and finishing, I'm planning to post each day this week just to tie up those loose ends, like the AOB section of an agenda.

zig-zag baby quilt in bright oranges and pinks

First up is the 2010 zig-zag quilt piece-along I signed up to 16 months ago. I'd been inspired by Lina's gorgeous zig-zag quilt in sunny yellows. Evidently, I failed to sew a zig-zag quilt in 2010, but I had the perfect excuse to start one this Spring for a best friend's new baby girl. All I knew was that there must be lots of orange, as it's always been her favourite colour, and I thought I'd throw in some bright pinks for extra zing, though steering well-clear of the classic baby pastel pinks.

zig-zag baby quilt in bright oranges and pinks

I've seen a great tutorial by crazymomquilts on how to make a zig-zag quilt without piecing any triangles, but in the end went for a different method, piecing pairs of two triangles from two 5" squares, then assembling the zig zags in horizontal rows.

And here's the finished quilt

zig-zag baby quilt in bright oranges and pinks

It was made with 5 fat quarters of fabric (all used, almost to the selvedge), a metre of fabric for the backing, and a few inches of solid quilting cotton for the doubled binding which I had leftover from a previous project. The whole quilt is playmat-sized, using a craft-sized pack of warm & natural wadding. All materials were ordered from the lovely Jo and Fran at Saints & Pinners (all the dolce fabrics are now in the sale).

zig-zag baby quilt in bright oranges and pinks

I'm very happy with this one, and as ever, enjoyed handstitching the binding on to frame the finished quilt and seeing it become a thing rather than a pile of fabric squares. My friend's baby (who is totally gorgeous!) has already tried it out for size and had a lie down on it on a picnic-in-the-park meetup, and I hope it'll hold up to lots of use (the beauty of such a brightly patterned quilt is that you can throw pretty much anything at it!).

Sunday, 1 May 2011

new things on the horizon

Once again, I find myself apologising for a long blog absence. There's been a whirlwind of activity around here, since, a few weeks ago, my husband got a new job. He's a teacher, so at least the timescale is a bit kinder than it might be, but even so, having to be moved out and moved in by the beginning of September means that we've been under pressure to get our house onto the market as soon as possible.

I may have mentioned on more than one occasion what a poor housewife I am, so it's going to be quite a struggle keeping the house in order for viewings! For the time being, I'm trying not to stress about chains, new schools for the children and saying our goodbyes here, but taking one step at a time.

The move is something we'd always planned in the longterm; we're heading West, back to the homeland for me, and nearer to family in South Wales and the West country, which has been the main reason behind it all. Of course, there's all the guilt about uprooting the children, but so far so good, they're excited about having castles, mountain centres, seaside and grandparents on their doorstep and seem to think they're going to be permanently on holiday. So far, I'm the only one who's disgraced herself by shedding tears at their classroom doors when telling their teachers we'll be leaving!

This has been a bit of a word-heavy post, so I'll leave you with a few pictures taken by the children on a recent idyllic day out at Kew Gardens with Joanne and family. We had a wonderful time roaming the vast gardens, exploring the giant badgers' set (actually Joanne and I sat that one out; the advantage of taking husbands along is that they can do all the gung-ho, crawling around in small dark spaces things!), and admiring the giant compost heap (it takes a considerable amount of time for a small boy to appreciate its splendour).

From the viewfinder of my daughter, budding nature photographer ...

by my 7 yr old girl
by my 7 year old girl
by my 7 year old girl
by my 7 year old girl
by my 7 year old girl

And Joanne mentioned 'extreme closeups', so I just had to post this picture my boy took here.

close up peacock by my 5 yr old boy

Somehow, I forgot my son was only 5 and didn't anticipate quite how close to the peacock he would go to take his shot; there must have been a number of people that day who took photos of a beautiful peacock and the back of a small boy holding a canon powershot about a foot from its beak!
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