Friday, 13 September 2013

Stitchy hooky happenings...

Hello there!
Well I finally worked out how to link my facebook page & my pintrest boards up with my blog! (After how many months???!!) Please do come & visit me using the buttons to the right hand side of the page. I think it's also time for a new banner photo at the top...hmmm..... it's good to do a little cyberspace housekeeping from time to time isn't it?
Although much of my head recently has been buzzing with The Big Quilting Project I have been taking little breaks & spending some days doing other things. I have tried to ensure I take out my big cross stitch UFO The Wave at least once a week. Some days I find it easier to get into the groove with this one than other days, do you find this sometimes too? I am making progress with it, but it is going to be a long time before I have even one finished page out of the four (& even longer if it sits untouched for days on end...). Well this is how far I have gotten with it now...
There's a whole lot more of the sunset filled in now & I am thinking it's about time to add some more of the horses down below. On the days when I can hit that groove I am enjoying this, but it is definitely easier to work on without the distraction of the TV/ other humans around!
Now while I should really be concentrating on this project (and I did try to be good!) I ended up starting something new! A trip to Aberdeen resulted in me finding the perfect fabric for a cross stitch cushion project that has been on my mind for a couple of years...
 It was one of those charts where it was love at first sight, you know? It appeared in an issue of Crossstitcher magazine in 2010 & the threads & fabric for it  have been sitting waiting for some time now so when I spied this fat quarter I couldn't resist any longer - I just had to start it! Here it is... 
I slightly changed the reds in the cowboys' shirt to better match the red in the fabric as I'm not sure at this stage if I shall use that fabric just to make the back of the finished cushion or to frame the stitching on the front as well. I have really been enjoying stitching this, I've never used 25 count fabric before but I'm liking the slightly chunkier look of it worked over two with three strands of floss :-)
I have also been busy knitting (both sleeves of my sweater are now finished!) and crocheting, particularly in the evenings. It has been a while since I've had a blanket on my hooks so a few weeks back I thought it was about time to remedy that. As it has been so beautifully warm this summer I wanted to make a blanket square by square rather than bake under an ever growing row by row blanket - the only problem was which one of the many lovely blocks out there to pick! In the end I decided on the squared version of the African Flower which you can find here - this is such a pretty block! I have also been admiring a lot of the rainbow colored and stained glass effect projects on Pintrest &, while I'm not a big fan of working with black yarn, I found two balls in my basket bought some of this dark purple at a local shop back in the January sales. I thought that it would provide a suitably dark substitute for black in this project...
Once again some of these colors aren't accurately captured by my camera - the lilacs & jades on the bottom row are not so "washed out" looking in the flesh but I have always had problems with jade greens for some reason! (any suggestions gratefully received!) This isn't going to be a HUGE blanket, I'm thinking more of a lap blanket size, probably somewhere around 63 squares (that would be 7 x 9 rows) plus a border. I currently have 11 squares finished so have quite a ways to go! Again that is no problem, as with the last blanket I am in no hurry with this one, there is no deadline hanging over my head & it's all about the journey...
Thank you for stopping by today, I hope you enjoyed your visit! Wishing you have a lovely weekend however you are spending it :-)



   

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A custom quilt for a unique young man

Hello there!
A big welcome to everyone, especially to my new followers, I hope you will enjoy the time you spend in my little corner of Blogland :-) Today I have another quilting project to share with you. This is my current Big Work In Progress which some of you will have had a sneak peak at on facebook (I know, naughty me, I should have been more restrained & waited until I'd posted here... )
The initial idea was to make a quilt for my younger son to take to uni with him, something that "was" him in the same way as the Winnie the Pooh quilt is a perfect fit for my daughter. Now I do realise they have central heating in Edinburgh, maybe it's a kind of reverse nesting instinct ? but this summer I have had a strong urge to make sure he was equipped with at least one handmade blanket & a quilt for going away! I started looking online for bold, bright designs & one thing led to another (as internet searches so often do) & I ended up here. I had never even heard of paper piecing until a few clicks before arriving on this page but once I saw this site I knew it was something I was going to have to learn! Basically paper piecing is a quilting technique which enables you to make much more intricate and accurate designs with fabric than you would otherwise be able to. It opens up a w i d e variety of possiblilities - try putting "paper piecing" into Google images & marvel at what comes up! I showed the Fandom in stitches website to my son, a big smile spread across his face, & he set to work picking the blocks he wanted for his quilt. Meanwhile I started planning how this would all go together...  
I decided on 8" blocks surrounded by 2" sashing strips (basically a border round each block like a frame). By arranging them in 5 rows by 7 rows I will need 35 blocks in total for this quilt. I started looking out fabric...
Eventually the time came when I knew I would have to stop procrastinating take a deep breath & try making one of the blocks to see if I could wrap my head around this paper piecing thing, so I printed a couple of the simpler looking patterns out & got out my damaged/ marked practise fabrics. In the end I found it really is one of those things that is easier to actually do than to explain! Two big things I learnt pretty quickly - you want to use a really short stitch length in order to make removing the paper easier (around 15-20 stitches per inch), & pins are helpful for joining sections of a design together but not for holding the small pieces of fabric in place as you build up each section - Pritt stick is your best buddy for that! After completing two practise blocks I felt ready to cut into some of the actual fabric I wanted to use for this quilt -would you like to see? OK then....
Taadah!! One Gandalf from Lord of The Rings! (The green is a brighter jade than this photo shows, I have fiddled with the camera but am still having issues with accurately capturing some of the colors...) 
So after a successful Gandalf I decided to try my hand at some of the Harry Potter blocks on my request list... 
The Hogwart's Crest (again, that green hasn't come out right)... 
One cauldron for Potions Class... 
One Sorting Hat (more camera issues with the background fabric, grrr) 
One Hogwart's Castle...
...and one Fawkes the phoenix. 
Next it was time to try a couple of video game themed blocks. These are from a game called Legend of Zelda that my son played a lot at one time. Despite being a much simpler block this one gave me more problems than any of the others up to this point, & despite unpicking & re sewing the central join (which is a nightmare when using such a tiny stitch length!) it still doesn't meet up right on the front (the back looks perfect of course!). I think this is to do with the way the pattern printed out when I had enlarged the scale from the original 5" block to an 8" block? (Although all the Harry Potter ones were similarly enlarged with the help of a handy table for adjusting the scale of the patterns here).  Anyways this is apparently called a Triforce symbol...
This is also from Legend of Zelda (although I it could equally well be a pirates treasure chest)... 
Back to the films again for the only Star Wars square my son chose...
This is the droid we were looking for (sorry, couldn't resist)...
By now I felt a lot more confident & ready to tackle the biggest block on my list - The Halls of Khazad Dum from Lord of The Rings...
This is a real whopper of a block, it's 8" high like the rest of them but 26 3/4" long! It will take the space of three blocks in one of the rows in our quilt. By this point my son & I decided that I need a longer deadline so I am now aiming to have this quilt finished for him for Christmas (I am trusting he won't freeze in his student accomodation before then ;-) ). There are a lot of helpful resources for learning all about paper piecing, but in addition to the help page on Fandom in Stitches I think this is a good place to start if you fancy giving this a go yourself? And I would heartily recommend being brave & trying it! If you do then please get in touch - I would love to see/ hear how you get on :-) I hope to be back with some cross stitching & crochet news soon - in the meantime I hope you have the opportunity to spend some creative hours in these last days of summer :-)