Sunday, December 25, 2011

No Cats Were Harmed

What a nice collection of presents! Thank you to everyone whether you've sent gifts, cards,emails, tweets or blog comments, or even just holiday vibes! It's been a nice year full of quilty crafty friends and family!

Here's a photo of a selection of the gifts ... a tasty stack of chocolate, namely some bars of Dairy Milk and a box of Thornton's mints, which I have tested and can confirm are very tasty, indulgent and definitely very more-ish! My spies tell me that my mum and dad got themselves a box too, to make sure they were good enough quality ... don't I have considerate parents?!

photo of some of our Christmas gifts.

There's a bamboo bowl which comes collapsed in its stand, so you swivel the bowl and let it unfold and then the stand is a rooster! I know, that sounds a crazy description,and my first thought was "does it come with instructions" ... I mean, how hard can a wooden bowl be? lol

There's also a very cute wooden coaster set from Cyprus, well actually it's from mum and dad but they got it on one of their jaunts to Cyprus! The coasters are nice, but doubly so is the wooden teapot shaped stand they come in!

And the sharp eyed amongst you may notice a furry animal! Well I am informed it is synthetic (no cats were harmed in the making of this hat) ... it's a hunter's style hat with ear flaps and believe me you need that kind of headgear in these temperatures! I have a woolly hat with ear flaps already and vowed that I will never be photographed alive in it ... I feel pretty ... pretty silly wearing it that is, but can't escape the practical necessity! ... you are unlikely to get a photo of me in this furry one either, because you will spend the rest of the day, if not all next year, laughing at me!!

So here's a photo of the Christmas cake instead!it's always a race to see which comes first, the last crumbs or the New Year!

photo of a Christmas cake, brimming with fruit and nuts and a good dollop of brandy, and plety of marzipan atop. Yum!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Power Up That Snowing Machine

According to the local radio, the chances of a white Christmas have diminished to pretty much zero. Bearing in mind that this comes from a radio host who has been known to make up her own forecast when the previous day's has transpired to be way different from the official forecast, this could be subject to change!

The temperature has however been a good dozen degrees higher than usual, though that's not saying a great deal ... hot it's not! In fact for the last couple of weeks I've been wearing my beloved warm winter coat. This was bought in Swansea, South Wales, many moons ago, but it was handmade somewhere in South America... Peru is most likely. I can always imagine myself as a shepherd in the Carpathian mountains of Romania, huddled in my coat in the middle of the night, watching for bears and wolves ... ok, with my eyes I don't think the sheep will be feeling too safe, but you get the idea!

So here's a picture of me in the coat! I've got the brown Levi's cord trousers on that I picked up in the recent post where I'd almost lost my phone ... and then my Perry Ellis patchwork style jumper - a combo I think that complements the coat well!

photo of me wearing my thick white woolly coat which has a few thick dark brown stripes running horizontally, and then my brown patchwork effect jumper and brown cord trousers

Talking of warm, here's a quilting idea from quilt club! I haven't been involved in these yet, but they make quite a lot of quilted covers for the local meals on wheels service deliveries! They're apparently very popular, and quick to make, and I have to say it sounds a superb idea of a useful charity project! ... Once I've tried making one I'll post instructions!

Well that's about all my news ... no snow in the forecast! I'm done with work for a few days and go back on the 27th ... I'm going to enjoy the time off, and maybe I'll make a dent in some of my planned quilting projects! ... Step one has got to be mastering the basics of this sewing machine ...

And as an extra note, I was getting very frustrated because my new free screen reader wouldn't insert images in Blogger using either IE8 or Mozilla. So I upgraded to IE9 and that still didn't work. Neither did anything work with my Jaws screen reader. So in desperation I tried Chrome, which to this point has been totally inaccessible to Jaws, but to my surprise seems to work perfectly with the free screen reader! So that's the way forward, at least when I need to write a blog post! Three cheers for Chrome, hip hip, hip hip, hipopotamus! And a merry snowy Christmas to you and yours if I don't speak to you before the big day!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chocolate Pudding

I forgot to mention! ... if you're following my health progress which I sometimes mention .. I haven't done an update since I had minor surgery to bury a catheter just under the skin in my stomach, ready for when I need to start dialysis. (If you want to know more about this variety off dialysis, ask Wiki about peritoneal dialysis) .. when my kidneys have no useful function left the doc will make a small incision and pop out the catheter and I'll be good to go!

So I had my latest set of blood tests last week, and the kidney doc called yesterday and said that since I'm not experience any symptoms (which can include lethargy, nausea and excessive itching from high phosphate levels) then there's no need to rush into the dialysis yet.

My kidney function has slowed from 12 in September to 8 and now 6.5, so my simple linear regression suggests they'll stop working effectively in January or February next year! ... not complicated mathematics that one!

In the meantime the only noticeable side effect is that my feet swell a bit, which is making it tricky to put my shoes on ... but apart from maybe a bit of extra shoe shopping (and how bad is that?!) it's not a bad problem!

So there you have it. to be honest I'd rather get hooked up to the dialysis system and in to the new routine of being connected to the system overnight ... rather than wondering when I'm going to have to fit in the training sessions and whatever else is involved! ... but the doc said I can just increase my diuretic pill to reduce the swelling in my feet / ankles, and if that's the only symptom I won't complain!

It can be very odd feeling sometimes having the catheter under the skin ... some times it's barely noticeable and others you can feel it through a thick sweater! Magpie Mimisuggested it probably reflected how much chocolate pudding I had in my tummy, and I suspect she is very correct on that!


I read on a blog I just followed, that there is a Fabric Tuesday group! I may have to join in on that one, because my rate of fabric aquisition is putting my rate of actual sewing to shame! ... and I don;t mean a kind of gentle embarrassment I mean a deep red flush and the feeling that there's nowhere big enough to swallow you up!

This is not only an emotional issue, it also has practical consequences! Firstly my cute little picnic basket is only so-big, and before long I can see a point where the lid ain't going to close! Secondly, not really being able to see what's what, means I have to work on some kind of organisational system! ... and anyone who nows me knows that I'm great at organising things in spreadshheets, but in ractice you're much more likely to find something in a nice neat pile on the floor!! ... so the more fabrrics I get the less likely I am to be able to remember what colors and patterns are on each, nor where in the pile they actually are or what will compliment them!

But it was sew night at Irondequoit Quilt Club last night and I did get through a dozen squares, which isn't a bad rate of hand stitching for a couple of hours work. :) .. it's a block for a charity quilt and I suspect I'm lagging way behind other block makers! I'm also horribly unaware of exactly how to construct my block ... I'm just pairing up squares at the moment, but should I be sewing 3 together in a line so that I can then do 3 x 3 squares to a block? This whole block system is new to me and I don't really know wat I'm aiming for!! any suggestions would be super helpful! :)

Meanwhile, a woman who sleeps in a cupboard asked me, and a few others have wondered similar things, about how easy it is to learn to recognize people when you can't see them (or in my case can't see enough detail to recognize their faces ... I just see a general outline, even as close as over the table) ... so here's is a little insight into why I'm liable to walk past you in the street unless you shout out and say "hi, it's Ms So--and-Sew from quilt club" ... or unless you wave a piece of cake in my general direction, in which case I'll stop on a dime or a sixpence, depending in which country this is happening!

Anyway, enough of the rambling, here's what I said ... and then you can get back to your cups of tea, your cakes and biscuits, and even a bit of weekend quilting, if you're not heading out to buy more fabric ....

As with everything there are some
blind people who are really good and quick at learning new voices. It
took me about 6 months at work until I really started recognising most
of the people (obviously the ones in my little team I learn more
quickly) ... the biggest challenge really is recalling which name goes
with which voice - once you begin to identify the voice you've
forgotten the name it originally came with! ... it's very helpful if
people say " hi, it's ..." rather than just hello, because often I
just end up saying hi back without really knowing who I'm talking to!
If they stop for a conversation I can ask the name but if they're just
walking past I really have no idea!

I think people who have been blind from birth are often much better at
remember all kinds of things, I guess simply because that's what you
have to do. For somebody who has been sighted most of their life, it
can take a while to train your memory to work in that way!

Thanks for taking an interest! :) :) :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Will the Quilter in Red With the Fluffy White Beard Please Stand Up

So on Monday I went to the Irondequoit Quilt Club Christmas pot luck meeting, armed with a large bowl of pasta salad with sundried tomatoes (purchased not made I'm ashamed to say), and the Free Motion Machine Quilting book by Mr Quilt for the Secret Santa game.

Let me start by saying I still haven't started to be able to put voices to names, so I don't really have any idea who is who at QC meetings! ... I guess this is the blog entry that reveals to them that I can't see a jot! (unless they've noticed the white stick ... haha, yeah, I guess there's not much doubt about that!)

Let me also say that next year I'll be aware that the $10 value suggestion for Secret Santa gifts is pretty much followed ... my book was a $25 value, even though it was 50% off, it still seemed a bit extravagant compared to most other items! However I certainly don't feel hard done by because I picked up a lovely selection of random gifts from a few people who shall remain nameless (see above) and I was very happy with what I came home with in exchange for my book!

I'll describe everything first and then give you a photo of the collection. First up I was given a fat quarter. It is a dark background with widely spaced pairs of lines, a bit like narrow railway tracks. I'm told it's a red fabric with gold lines. I'm sure it will complement either one of the black / white fabrics that Thearica from Pigtales and Quilts sent me in a giveaway, or with one of the fabrics in the photo from my recent sale shopping session (see Cyber Shopaholic recently) ... then I was given a bag of home hand-dipped pretzls (which I can confirm on tonight's tasting are yummy!) and a jar of peppermints and chocolates, and finally a lovely lovely handmade snowflake... I can't remember what technique was used to make it, but it's very pretty and I believe took a couple of hours to make each one... I'll be hanging it on the tree when I finish writing this!

Finally the Secret Santa game! All the presents were spread across 5 different tables and we had to stand at the table our gift was on ( or which we were told it was on and kindly directed to!). Then we counted around the table so we each had a number. Number 1 opened a present, then number 2 opened a present and decided if they wanted to keep it or exchange with number 1... this continued aroundthe table with each subsequent person deciding whether to keep or swap with a previous gift. The only rule that once a gift had been swapped twice it couldn't be swapped again. In reality this proved quite complicated to grasp so most people kep what they opened! I got a little box containing a reel of thread, a needle threader (was of a type I haven't tried before) and a pack of needles ... now if the threader proves to be one I can operate, that might be very handy! and a few more needles and thread will never go to waste!!

So here is the photo ... a pile of fabrics recently purchased and a collection of lovely Christmas gifts sitting on top. If I ever found out who made the pretzels I may have to hold them hostage for a few more bags!! ... right, now I'm off for a soak in the bath before bed, night night!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pot Luck

No photos tonight because it's getting late! I just wanted to do a quick post so you didn't think I'd been kidnapped by aliens looking for quilts! (it can get cold in space apparently!!_

I've still been very idle on the quilting front ... haven't done anything since my last post! Even my best intentions to participate in Thearica's 24 days of Christmas block-a-day counting down to Christmas! I do hope to catch up, but as the days slip by the odds aren't improving! lol

It's the quilt club pot luck Christmas night tomorrow (Monday) which should be fun! I'm taking a pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes and I have a book for the Secret Santa ... I'd quite like to have kept it for myself butI don't think that's in the rules!

We went bargain hunting this afternoon ... there's a rather nice Goodwill store out at Macedon (not sure how that's spelled!) ... I got a nice blue Perry Ellis shirt with white stripes and cufflink cuffs (I'm really liking this designer's clothing . I also got a blue jumper range!) with a shallow v-neck (I'm not a big fan of v-necks, but this seemed nice, and at $2.50 you can't really go wrong can you!) ... and I also got a pair of brown Levi cords, so that was a nice haul for less than $10!

When we got back I found I'd lost my phone, and a process of simple deduction revealed I'd probably left it in the store fitting room! We called the store and nobody had turned it in :( ... however a bit more deduction revealed it was happily snuggled in the pocket of those brown cords I'd been trying on at the time! Yay!

So I'm going to be a party animal for the next 2 days (it's the work do on Tuesday!) ... so if you don't see me you know I'm out enjoying lots of good food and soaking up the Christmas spirit! :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Shopaholic

Ok, I couldn't resist ... Poppy Seed Fabrics, who I've been following since I think it was a tutorial they did on Madam Sam's Sew We Quilt blog ... well, they announced a 24-hour sale for Cyber Monday. So, all items were 25% off ... and I do love a bargain, and they had some lovely fabrics!

So I now have an etsy account and a bundle of fabric winging its way to me! It's kind of an early Christmas present! ... I found a total of $27 in fabric, saved a wonderful $7 (almost) on the order ... which nearly covered the $9 postage! ... but all in all I think I've got a good deal, even if the postage costs are always the downside of mail ordering!

So here's what I bought... fingers crossed the thumbnails will work even if I've snapped the last sale yards of an item! ... we shall see!

I picked these 2 Robert Kaufman greys. I've always fancied that line of fabrics (they sound nice quality) At $3 each for half a yard of each, you can't really go wrong - $5.50 for a yard of Robert Kaufman after discount!

As for what I'll use them for, well I have no idea, but I thought they might come in handy! (when I die my epitaph will read "I knew this hole in the ground would come in handy one day ... now where's that pillow I was hanging on to?")

Then there was this in the sale section... Tanya Whelan Dolce Bamboo Garden in PINK, 1 YarD for $7. I thought it looked really nice (I could see the pattern on it, even if I can't really tell the colors any more).

Another sale item... Tina Givens-Opal Owl, TRELLIS IN CHOCOLATE, 1 yard total for $7.75 ... though I'm not quite sure what the total means - there were about 4 different thumbnails on the item page, so it might be I get owls, or it might be I get Japanese style huts, or maybe something else entirely! They all seemed nice though so I thought it well worth the price (about $6 after discount).

And finally, another sale item! (I do like a sale!!) ... Poppy Seed Fabric have quite a lot of Japanese fabrics, and I'm after a few which might work together. This one is little GEISHA DOLLS japanese import , 1 yard for $7 ($5.25 after discount)

So there you have it, a productive Monday's shopping!Hopefully I can put these, plus my recent prize threads, and maybe a pattern or two out of my growing library of (3) quilting books! And don't forget, you can never have too many bits of fabric!!! (or cups of tea!)

Sunday, November 27, 2011


My, this update is long overdue isn't it?! (that's definitely rhetorical!)

So, over the last 2 or so weeks I had some nice luck! First of all my 3rd place prize from Men Quilt Too competition arrived on the doorstep! It was this:

photo of a plastic box containingg maybe a dozen reels of Aurifil thread!

A lovely box full of Aurifil thread! I'm sure these will keep me going for about a year!!

And then, I was one of The Chosen over on Sarah (Narcoleptic in a Cupboard)'s blog! And my prize was this lovely book - Dare to be Square by Boo Davis . which is full of pictures, many of which I can see (or see enough of to get the idea! all the patterns are bold colours which means I can see the contrasts!) of quilt patterns using squares! ... I always knew it was hip to be a square, and this book proves it ... even if I am a little dodecahedral at the edges!

Talking of books... yesterday I went to Joanne's to look for something $10-or-less for the quilt club Secret Santa. The only restriction was no fabric! I found this book marked at $10, Free Motion Quilting, From Practice to Perfection (I think that's the title!).95 and thought it would be perfect! So when we got to the checkout it turned out to be $24!!!! now that's a pretty price for a book no matter how nice! But, I had a 50% off coupon so bought it anyway ...

Now I'm having second thoughts because it is a bit much value for the Secret Santa and I don't want to be not in-keeping with the other folk ... so I might take it back ... pennies are a bit tight, what with having to replace the Jeep a couple of weeks ago (and then the wheel bearings last week!), and with all the medical bills and Christmas coming up... I can't really afford to keep it no matter how much I'd like to. lol, but I shall try photographing it and OCRing the pages before I return it... whether that will work is anyone's guess, but it might!

Apart from that I'm afraid I haven't done much quilting ... I did get a new pack of the self-threading needles yesterday, and they do appear to be a lot sharper which is what I wanted, so maybe I'll have a productive week with my new needles :) ... I haven't forgotten that a couple of you asked about those needles and I did try to take a photo but without any success... but there is information on the web and this link ... and here is more general info for those who are visually-challenged or just find threading needles tricky! (apparently they are very good for burying your thread ends inside a quilt - when you finish with a piece of thread you don't knot it, which can create a noticeable lump- you just leave the end loose and then thread it onto one of these needles, and you can then sew it into the center of your quilt! ... or something like that ... Google it if you want instructions, there's lots of pages about it!)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Between Now and the End of the World

I've noticed a lot of you more-organized-than-moi bloggers making lists of all your projects. So, here's my list!

I'm not assigning any priority to this list, it's just a list of things I'd like to accomplish sometime... and since the world is due to end in 2012, I've nominally selected the end of the world as my target date, or whenever the cups of tea and biscuits run out, whichever happens soonest.

If this post appears garbled as you first read it, bear with me... there's going to be lots of links to other blogs or pictures, so it's quite possible I'll need to make corrections if I type the code wrong or miss out a quote mark for example! In fact, I'm far from sure I've got all the links to the pictures right, so sorry if there's some random photo which doesn't relate!

So here goes.

Between Now and the End of the World I would Like To Finish:

  • My second quilt, based on the Rainy Day Quilt posted by Quilting in the Rain as part of Madam Sam's 3-month series on Sew We Quilt. My version has lots of fabrics with clouds, raindrops, yellow duckies and rainy day sayings, but I don't have a photo yet, so here's the original:
  • Charity block for Irondequoit Quilt Club. This is simply a 9x7 square block of a wide variety of colors, each one alternating with a lightly patterned white square. I've been making decent progress with this over the last couple of weeks! Sorry, no photos yet!
  • Now for the ones I haven't even started yet... Coasters, as designed by
    Laura from Quokka Quilts. I'm really looking forward to creating many of these, and some of you lucky folk may be on the receiving end one day! I'm just struggling to pick out appropriate fabrics, though this week I decided that one of the lovely black and white fabrics that Thearica from Pigtales and Quilts sent me would work nicely, so I just need some less-busy fabrics for the rest of that set... I'm thinking some subtle patterned pink and grey would work well.
  • Flowers, as featured in this tutorial on Sew We Quilt. These sound so pretty and easy and a great use of scrap material... though I'm finding the step-by-step instructions to be a little confusing... mainly because I can't really see what's going on in the photos. I may be picking your brains for some tips in due course! I've already started collecting leafy patterns and bright flowery colored fabrics for these! Here's the original pic
  • More coasters! Another tutorial from Sew We Quilt, the style of which seems quite similar to the squares I'm doing for my Rainy Day Quilt, with the borders around the squares. I like the apparent simplicity of these and will probably try a couple of sets!
  • Black and White Quilts. I stumbled across these from a comment left on my blog from a reader of the Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side. These 2 quilts are from Eileen's Ladybug Lovelies blog and I can see the contrasting patterns. I love the simplicity of the Bountiful Baskets quilt, and if I can manage a Supernova quilt I'd like to try that too! First photo is the Supernova and here's the Bountiful Basket ... and here's an alternative Supernova in a step-by-step that Sarah from Narcoleptic in A cupboard told me about.
  • Bowls - another from the Sew We Quilt tutorials. This quilted bowl (which I can't find the link to...) struck me because it seemed an unusual thing to make by quilting! I'm not sure if I'll get around to this one, but maybe, time permitting.
  • I have a design idea for a belt, well more a sash. I would bow to you ladies if you don't think it would work! Imagine a small square, say 3 inches square, or even slightly rectangle seems to look quite nice. Attach thin strips to two opposite ends (like the individual squares in my Rainy Day Quilt). Now, imagine as you are putting the quilt together, you sew each one in turn, pairing two of them with a layer of batting between. However the batting is only as wide as the center square, so you sew / quilt along the sides of that center square, and then you finish the border strips separately, so they have no batting inside. Them. Then you turn them to make a diamond shape and in the point of one of the borders you make a button hole in one of the strips and sew a button in the point of the other strip. Repeat, and when you've finished you can join all the individual units together, buttoning one to the next, forming a belt or sash that you can wear around your waste! (or if you're a gunslinger you can wear it across your shoulders and stick your bullets to it, for that stylish mercenary look). No pics for this yet, it lives only in my wild imagination!
  • and I'd forgotten about this until I was going through the list of Sew We Quilt tutorials again.... a quick and easy drawstring bag, which I liked the sound of )I've always liked drawstrings!)
  • Finally, and this is unlikely to see the light of day, but I had an idea for a modern Christmas table runner, many of which you all were making for the Crafty Christmas Club I think. I thought a modern style runner but with a snowflake-like jagged piece of lace-type material attached to the back, and another piece attached to the front and kind of overlapping the gaps of the back strip might look nice. Of course this might be fiddly to make, even assuming I could find suitable material, but it's an interesting idea and I'm sure it'll keep until next year, assuming the world doesn't end as planned...
Hope you enjoyed that scenic detour into my ideas! If I achieve a couple of these I'll be happy :)

Do tell me what you think, especially any suggestions, even if it's a "it'll never work" lol.

Oh yes, and at some point I want to make things with triangles and circles, and maybe one of those lovely Dahlia designs as a medallion quilt ...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What a Hoot!

Well isn't this a nice surprise! I discovered from BillieBee's Blog that there is another quilt show, with a particular emphasis on telling the story behind the quilts.

Those of you who know me know that I am legally blind and therefore those descriptions and stories behind quilts (and any other fabrications!) is what matters most to me!

So I jumped straight on to my blog to write this entry! The show is Blogger's Quilt Festival (Fall 2011) over at Amy's Creative Side so get on over and look at all the lovely quilty things, and if you've got one of your own to show and tell, go write your own story post for the festival!

Hopefully this code will put a button to blog in my post:
Amy's Creative Side

So here it is, my first quilt. It's the only one I have to show, though quilt number 2 is well in progress! I was thrilled when it recently took 3rd place in the Men Quilt Too! show on Pigtales and Quilts blog, and although I've rambled about it on my blog, I haven't really sat down and told its tale succinctly in one place!

So let's start with the quilt. Here it is,

Owls All Around


photo of the quilt with a sneak peek glimpse of the reverse shown in a superimposed circle

another photo of the quilt top, looking from a standing perspective at it laid out on the lounge floor

and finally a photo of the reverse of the quilt, showing the material with many owls alternating with apples. From what I recall the owls are various colors and the apples are kind of a cross-hatch pattern

It measures approximately 72"tall by 45" wide. The top is hand stitched, and then I used my Brother sewing machine to do some basic quilting in the ditch, and then adding the binding. I began this quilt back in Atlanta where I was at the end of some vision rehab training helping teach me how to do daily things and work tasks with my limited sight. I have played the piano for around 30 years, and had recently been realising that I would find it difficult to play that well now I couldn't really see the music or the keys! When the center's quilt club re-started it was perfect timing for me to get back into doing something creative, so I signed up!

It was great to be part of a quilt group, especially one where the other attendees had similar visual difficulties to me. With the help of a couple of sighted supervisors we all managed to make great progress with our projects! They selected a bunch of squares for me, based on my color preferences, and helped me pair the squares up and start sewing them together.

A couple of weeks and in I was exploring Intown Quilters, a nice local quilt store in Decatur, GA, and found a fat quarter with some very cute owls on in colors that complemented my quilt squares. So they became part of the quilt top, and when it came time to do the backing I selected an owl fabric to make the quilt reversible and that's how the quilt eventually came to be called Owls All Around!

Of course I'm jumping the gun a little... shortly after starting the Atlanta club I got a job way up north in Rochester, NY so quilting got put on hold while we packed and moved and settled in to our new apartment!

Jump forward into September and the deadline for Thearica's Men Quilt Too show was looming, and I managed to get all the final touches done and my quilt entered in the competition! It was one amongst almost 30 entries from male quilters, and it was fantastic to meet so many other men doing great quilty things! I can't wait for next year's show!!

So this quilt celebrates a lot of things. It's the result of wanting to find something creative that I could do even with little sight... and as time goes on I'm managing with less and less help... but it's also the result of having lots of help and encouragement from people, friends and family, some of whom I've known a long time and others just a matter of months having met them through their blogs!

And obviously it's my first quilt so has to have a special place! I love its littered mitred bindings, the abundance of owls, but most importantly all the people who helped me get it made, and the fact that it's opened the door to the world of quilting for me!

I've enjoyed getting to show and tell about the quilt at Irondequoit Quilt Club which I've just joined, and talking about it to other quilters at the Elma Quilt Show, and hopefully at the forthcoming Lockport show (Nov 4-6).

You can follow the whole process of my Owls All Around quilt by reading back through the older posts in my blog, Touch And Sew and please, if you follow me, do leave a comment because that makes it much easier for me to find your blog so I can follow you back :)

Happy quilting!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Just because the best tailoring you've ever seen is above your f***king appendix doesn't mean anything!"

So I made it to the hospital in time for my 6:15am check-in. By 8:30 I was ready and waiting to be wheeled back into the OR. 5 minutes later it was sleepy time and then 2 hours later I was awake. I got a $50 discount because when I told them I was a quilter they let me sew myself up, so I used a bit of free motion quilting and hopefully the stitches will hold ... ;)

Unlike the last surgery I had (on my left eye in Atlanta) where my blood pressure esclated into the 200s after the anaesthetic wore off and it took me maybe 5 hours to get through recovery... here I warned everybody who would listen that my BP might do that and so they were able to control it and I was out and home by 2pm! :)

Boy am I sore now! Well I'm not in any great pain, but the area of my stomach feels it whenever I inadvertently stretch it... my throat is sore from the breathing tube, and oddly my shoulder blades ache something chronic! I wish I'd booked tomorrow off work, but I thought this would be a bit quicker and easier procedure... and plus I really need to keep hold of my meager days off because I'm sure I'll have a need for them when I need training for dialysis and goodness knows whatever else!

... I might call in sick though tomorrow if I'm really sore in the morning. We shall see. I've had a handful of sick days in 10 years of working, so it's not something I like doing, but if I'm aching too much I will do!

In other news the loss adjuster adjusterised the Jeep... and despite my fears of what value the insurance company would use, they didn't use the low trade-in value, and they didn't use the middle value price a private seller would charge... they took the mid-point between the private seller and the dealer price, which is a huge relief! That means we've about $5000 to look for a replacement vehicle with, about the same value as what we paid for the Jeep. There seem to be a choice of the same model we had, a slightly smaller model, or possibly some some 2-wheel drive options... most are year 2000 with around 140,000 miles, about the same as the old Jeep... but there's a 2003 with slightly higher mileage, and similar permutation!

We have a week to find something and then the insurance company stop paying for the rental car. If we can find something local our nice mechanic will give it a quick inspection gratis if we can stop by on a test drive... very kind indeed (though I'm sure a vehicle of that age and miles will be headed to him for attention at some points of its time with us haha!)

BTW, the quote is from the film "Withnail & I".

Righty ho, that's it. Thank you all for your kind wishes for the surgery.Send me some ache-relieving vibes if you get a moment :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Snip Snip

Well here's a story of sharp objects! Today I got a nice snazzy haircut after work. I'm a big fan of haircuts at salons... I know most men don't pay $35 and up and visit a salon for their hair cuts... but I had long hair for 14 years back in my uni days, and when i took the plunge and got it severed, I went to a nice posh place, Ken Picton's in Cardiff Bay and I've never looked back!

In Atlanta I frequented Oh La La in Decatur and here in Rochester I've found Michael Avery hair salon, and I've liked them all!

Here's the results of tonight's attack of the scissors...

photo of me with a slightly spikey new haircut

So what happens now? Well I'm going to have a nice long hot bath in case it is my last one for a while... I go for surgery tomorrow so they can instal a catheter which I will use for dialysis in the near future. They tell me "no baths" ... which I'm not quite ready to take litterally yet... me, being me, thinks there might be some work arounds, like using anti-bacterial Fairy Liquid (dish soap) instead of bubble bath, even if it only works if I don't tell them!

... and after that long hot bath, which can't really be too long because it's 9pm and I have to be at the hospital at 6:15 ... so I have to draw a line on my stomach / waist where my belt goes, and then they'll probably put the catheter just above it. It'll take 2 weeks to heal and then I'll be able to start using it whenever I need to start dialysis... I'm tempted to draw a little pair of scissors at the start of the marked belt line, though I'm a little worried they might take it seriously and just amputate my whole torso by mistake!

... I've just supped a cup of tea ... I think there's time for a couple more cups before bed. And I also just polished off a rather tasty lemon meringue pie - well if it all goes wrong... well what if they forget what they're doing and sew up my stomach? I'd want my last food to be something yummy!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Competition Climax

After 3 weeks of a fantastic Men Quilt Too! show, the voting closed yesterday and the results have just been announced! ...

Let me just say a big thank you to everyone who voted for me, and for putting up with me badgering and cajoling people with incessant regularity on here, FB and Twitter ... and special thanks to Amy (Magpie Mimi), Sarah, Narcoleptic in a Cupboard), and Rhonda (Quilter in the Gap) for mentioning the competition and my quilt in your blogs and podcasts, and for getting all your friends to vote for me too! ... another special thanks to the people who helped me get my first quilt started and all the way to finished... the lovely folk at the CVI quilt group in Atlanta where I learned to quilt, all my bloggie friends who often answered my questions, and of course Michelle for unpicking all my errors, keeping my machining in a straight line, and threading probably 100 needles!

It was a great show and I've met a lot of new lovely people through it, which is surely the most important thing! I've tried to follow all my new followers back but sometimes it's difficult for me to track down your blogs... I'll do a post listing those that I'm yet to find and maybe y'all can point me in the right direction!

So yes, I think any of the 20-odd quilts would have been worthy winners... and I'm just thrilled for all the votes I got ...

haha, stop prodding me, I'll tell you now how I did ...

I finished third! and I win a load ofwonderful threads, which will be brilliant as I have at least half a dozen projects, including quilt number 2 and a fairly sizeable charity block either on the go or planned!

Feel free to urge me to return the favor and vote for you if you've got quilts or other sewing projects entered in any competitions!

And finally, another big thank you to Thearica at Pigtales and Quilts for putting on a magnificent show... if you don't follow her blog already you should head over and do so now! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Squish Squash Sandwich

First, a public service announcement:
It's almost the end of the Men Quilt Too! competition on Pigtales and Quilts...Thanks to everyone who has voted. I'm biting my nails wondering if I'm in the top 4, the prize positions! I just hope I get a respectable number of votes and don't finish last ;) If you've voted you can rest assured, I won't be sending the hitmen round to help you remember to cast your last minute vote :)

Voting closes on the 22nd so if you haven't voted yet, just send your email saying "I'm voting for 14. Owls All Around!" to ... and a huge thank you to Thearica for putting on such a great show and exposing us male quilts to the world :)

OK, onwards and upwards... there's rainy clouds in the sky... well, rainy fabrics! The rainy day quilt is progressing well. I did several more squares whilst listening to Quilter in the Gap's latest podcast. If you haven't listened to the previous one which interviewed me, do go check it out, it's number 13, and the new number 14 is full of more Rhonda quirkiness and enjoyable ramblings about quilting and life.

It's sew night again tomorrow, so I'll be hopping on the bus and taking my bag of quilt tricks to do a couple of hours quilting after work. I'm going to concentrate on the charity squares since I haven't made a start on that multi-colorod assortment of fabrics yet! I'll post photos this weekend of the fabrics I'm working with.

In other news... I managed to thread my first needle tonight! Well not my first ever, but first since I became blind. I'm using the neat needles with tiny hooks at the top and which divert the thread into the eye of the needle. I'm very happy about this, it feels like a new kind of freedom!

On to the subject of today's post... bye bye Jeep. It became a squished sandwich between a car which stopped with warning and a big Chevvy truck which totally failed to do the same. So it's a write off :( I wasn't on board, and luckily Michelle and Tazzie dog are both ok... aching from the whiplash, but no serious injuries. Keep your fingers crossed that the insurance decide the value of the Jeep is a respectable amount else we will be struggling to afford anything that will work in the big snow we get up here... I suspect it will be a couple of thousand dollars short of what we really need... life sucks sometimes :(

And final news... I've got my appointment next week to have the catheter put in to my stomach ready for dialysis in the near future. I have the surgery on Thursday, full aneasthetic, but if all goes well I should be discharged by lunchtime... You all know me, I'm not very good with doctors, needles etc, so wish me luck because I'll need it! :)

So that's it, all my current news... now go vote if you still haven't done so! ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hot Stuff! Everyone wants a bit of the male quilters!

If you've been following Men Quilt Too! competition page, you'll no doubt notice the ever-increasing link list of blogs by male quilters. It's tremendous how male quilters are out there quilting and doing some great quilty things!

At a local quilt show in Elma, NY the Carriage Quilt Company stall owner was telling me about a quilt club in Canada that is in fact men-only and has a large membership - maybe 400, though I may be making that number up!

And now I saw a link to this on Ye Olde Twitterphone... there is more info on their web page but it says not to copy it without permission, so I'm just quoting the bare essentials:

"Bengal Tiger," a fabric piece by Rob Appell, owner of The Cotton Ball quilt shop in Morro Bay, is part of the "Men Quilting!" exhibit at the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula.
Guys demonstrate their skills with needle and fabric in the "Men Quilting! Quilts Made by Men" exhibit at the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula, on display Sunday through Feb. 5.

The 13th annual Heritage Valley Festival of Quilts exhibit will showcase the creations of male quilters from Ventura County, Los Angeles and Morro Bay.

read the full story here

* * * * *

And don't forget to vote (if you haven't already) ... voting is open until October 22 in Men Quilt Too! and there are more men linking up their blogs / websites every day.

Seems like men are hot stuff in the world of quilting at the mo... heh, remind me not to take myself too seriously (like there's any chance of that! happening, I mean, c'mon ;) )

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


On Monday I had my second iron injection and I've been so full of energy I've been zipping around, haven't slept a wink, pins and needles jump out of the pin cushions as I pass and stick themselves to my arms.....

erm, or not! I can't explain it but I've been shattered this week! I get home from work and promptly take a nap before dinner! weird... where's the extra energy boost?! maybe we'll give it a week and let it catch up with me.

Don't forget, anybody who hasn't cast their vote in the Men Quilt Too! competition, hop along and send Thearica an email with the name and number of your favorite quilt... that'd be number 14, Owls All Around ... there's a lot of cute little owlies on that quilt and they all need a vote, so tell everyone you know to adopt an owl! ... if you vote I'll even tell you which owl is yours when the competition closes!

... and there have been several more male bloggers linking up on the blog listing too, so go check out their blogs... seriously, there are some really talented guys there and some have been quilting for a long time and have some fresh ideas about quilting :)

In other news I tuned in for the #TALKNT chat on Twitter last night. This is a 2-hour chat about all things quilty and sewingy, and frankly it moves at one heck of a pace! I struggled to keep up - even setting the speed of my screen reader (which is called Jaws, so I'm going to start calling it that because it's so much shorter than "my screen reading software") up a couple of notches to the "motormouth" level, even then I was mostly 5 minutes behind the latest tweet!

I enjoyed the conversation and threw in a couple of comments. However, does anybody else do the TALKNT chat? I visited the blog page about it but couldn't find the "Add" button anywhere to show that I was participating... I think that's how you get entered in the sessions giveaways... the night seems to be often sponsored by the great Fat Quarter Shop :)

... if anybody has any insights as where I'd find the add button so I can appear on the list of chatters, please please please point me in that direction!

I think I'm going to turn some of my attention to the charity quilt block I've said I'd do. Watch out for some pics of the fabrics for that, and also some progress shots of the Rainy Day quilt which is becoming a neat little stack on my desk as I sew squares whilst listening to the likes of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Coco Before Chanel ...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"There are so many colors in a flower, so let's use every one"

I thought this was a very good quilt show by the quilters of Des Moines, Iowa ...

Blind People 'See' Quilts At Exhibit - Des Moines News Story - KCCI Des Moines

when I went to Elma quilt show I ran my fingers lightly over the exhibits to get an idea of the patterns and stitching... I hope nobody minded... well, they didn't say so if they did ;)

So here's a challenge for you... when you're thinking about your quilting, try to make at least one quilt with a tactile difference - that could be in the choice of fabrics, using applique (fabric textures or I've seen some people use little bits of batting to make the applique puff out a little for example), designs using beads or things that would stick to the fabric (sequins), I'm sure the thread could be used in imaginative ways so that it is noticeable to the touch... really, the possibilities are as wild as your imagination!

And if you have a local quilt show, please do encourage your fellow quilters to encourage any blind visitors to touch your quilts and really appreciate all the work that's gone in to them!

... and don't forget to tell your local vision rehab organizations that your quilt show will be blind-friendly! :)

And here's a link to the song from which the title is taken, with a rather cool animation which I can see most of :) on YouTube

And here's a poem about colors and some of the ways they can be seen:


Because everything touches and leaves a little differently every time

Colours are the way you feel,
The tickle of grass under your feet
Is green, emerald when it's warm, darker when it's wet
The skies are blue
Singing with birds and be-anything clouds
Grey are the paths and brown the park benches
On which linger the people you've never met
The conversations you'll one day have
The future you do not know quite yet

Yellow is the warmth that wraps an arm around
Your shoulders, quiet and happy,
Simple, and simultaneously profound
Whispers, in orange
That tomorrow is going to be fine
And never let you down;
Black is the unknown
The enptiness of someone gone
The fears we do not like to own

Pink is a birthday, immediately unwrapped
Giddy with ribbons and party friends
The kind of day that runs until we're super tired, then ends,
Collapsing into purple shades and closing eyes
Your favorite bed
With freshly laundered pillowcases to rest your head.
And lavender, the scent of tiny bags
Exquisitely capturing the garden
Where we walk, hand in hand.

The stories and the dreams, white
The sheet of paper, the field of snow
Wating for footprints to bite
An open canvas to scribble or write;
Curl up, share the flickering fireside
Dancing with gold and ochre and violet
Or the gentle candle light
This heart, red like nothing else
The essence of love and life.

Friday, October 7, 2011

20 Questions

Let me start by saying, I deny everything! haha! Go to Quilter in the Gap's blog and look for Episode 13 of her highly entertaining podcasts! In this episode she's interviewing some blind guy who quilts with the help of his tearaway cat... yep, that'd be me!

So go and look for the link to listen either on iTunes, or to the web player, or if you prefer to download the mp3 there's a link for that on the web player page too.

I enjoyed answering all those questions, and Rhonda's ramblings and insights into quilting are as fun as ever. So definitely set aside an hour this weekend to listen while you're doing your quilting and sewing! For all my new followers this is a great way to find out a little more about me and my quilting! Don't forget to leave a comment and let me (and Rhonda) know you enjoyed it :)

... and while you're online don't forget about the Men Quilt Too! show and competition over on Pigtales and Quilts blog... if you've already voted you'll still find lots of great blogs from male quilters listed in the link-up, several more have come and added their blogs since the start of the competition, so do check back (and leave a comment to say hello!)...

And if you haven't voted, please do so! There are some great prizes for the winning quilts, and if you leave a comment there are great daily prizes for you too - so comment every day until Oct 15 if you like! You can only vote once though, so please don't forget to do that... pretty please with cherries on top!

To vote you can look at all the entries by following the Competition Album link, and then cast your vote by sending an email to ... simply state the number and name of your favorite quilt (hint: mine is 14. Owls All Around)

Tonight I go to the first sew night at Irondequoit quilt club, so I'm looking forward to spending a couple of hours working on my Rainy Day quilt, and maybe the charity block I'm doing too :)

And if you're a new follower, do leave me a comment with the name of your blog so I can follow you back... with many it's hard for me to get from your name to your blog in my list of followers!

And finally, thank goodness it's Friday :) :) :)

Monday, October 3, 2011


It's been a busy day of doctors appointments, mostly involving my arms so I was too tied up to do any quilting! first off it took 2 hours to do the paperwork ready for me to have a catheter put in (minor surgical procedure) for my looming start of dialysis... this involved some not-very-papery things too, namely chest x-ray, EKG, and the obligatory blood test.

After a couple of hours gap, next up was an iron injection, tying up an arm again as they did it like a blood transfusion, taking about an hour again (including the half hour observation period to make sure I wasn't going to react badly to the jab ... not sure what they expected me to do, run around madly quilting?)

But that was that, all went smoothly. i get another iron shot in a week, and should get an appointment for the catheter surgery in a couple of weeks. What a hectic month!

Time for some quilting news! Here are some pics from the Elma quilt show which we went to this last weekend. The theme was very definitely triangles, and this first one was one of my favorites

Blue Dahlia
Blue Dahlia

And here are a couple more:

Jess & Lou's Wedding
Jess & Lou's Wedding

Prairie Flower Patchwork
Prairie Flower Patchwork

My Grandmothers Rose Garden
My Grandmother's Rose Garden

Back to work tomorrow... more rain in the forecast! Looking forward to sew night at Irondequoit Quilt Club on Friday - I need those hours behind a needle, I've got lots to do and today's needles didn't help! ;)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Elma Quilt Show

First of all, thanks to everybody who has already voted in the Men Quilt Too! competition, and a double thank you if you've been telling people about the show... and a triple thank you if you ask your friends to vote for my quilt ;)

Next, a big hello to all the new followers who have found my blog through the competition! I am in the process of trying to follow you all back, but Blogger is far from friendly to my screen reading software and it can be very difficult for me to actually find out what your blogs are! Sometimes it'll let me go to your profile page, but more often than not it won't, so I'm just left with your posting name and no way to get to your blog! .... grrrr to Blogger!! .... I'll get there in the end though!

Yesterday Michelle and I went to a local quilt show in Elma, NY, somewhere on the road to Buffalo. It was really well attended, with lots of quilts being exhibited. The preference certainly seemed to be for triangles - there were many examples of triangular and diamond patterns... very few circles or hexagons!

The day certainly started well - there were door prizes and I picked up a fat quarter size of a velvety / fleece type fabric of a purple color along with a selection of 8-or-so hand colored threads, and everyone was able to take a small Christmas tree ornament, so I picked up a red one with a teapot on!

Then I went shopping! First stall was Carriage Quilt Shoppe, and I had a nice chat with the owner. I picked 5 fat quarters since it was buy 5 and get 1 free... and then on hearing about my quilt and the Men Quilt Too! competition she let me choose another fat quarter for my next project! ... and when I gave her the link to my blog so she could go see my quilt, she said she will print a copy and display it in the shop! how awesome is that?!

I have a vague idea that the fabrics I got might go with the selection of black and white fabrics that Thearice of Pigtales and Quilts sent me when I won a giveaway on her blog! The one on top of the left-hand pile is the extra free one I chose! ... the green batique (if that's how you spell it) might come in handy for the quilt flowers I have in my future projects queue!

photo of my fabrics, the stack from Carriage Quilt Shoppe is on the left, a mix of blues and purples mainly, and a green fabric, one with images of dump trucks on it, and another with dogs are on the right

I had a nice bowl of French onion soup and some cheesy bacon fries on the way home, but when we stopped to pick up a coffee I couldn't resist challenging myself to beat this Mile High Cheesecake too! mmmmmmmmm, I won!

photo of a very large slab of cheesecake, topped with some berries and custard sauce!

I also brought home a tasty rice krispie treat with chunks of minty Orea cookie in it... I'd show you a photo of that too, but nomnomnom it's gone! that was breakfast ;)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Male Quilters - Shout About Your Blog!

I know I don't have any male readers (yet), but if you know any other male quilters, please do tell them it's not too late to link up their blogs on the Men Quilt Too! listings page.

Men Quilt Too! logo

Entries for the competition itself are obviously closed now that voting has started, but the listings page is still open, so send any and all male quilters over and get them to shout about their blog! :)

And thanks again to Thearica for organizing such a fab quilt show! and to all of you for your awesome support and help!

Friday, September 30, 2011

An Englishman in new York... Quilting

icon of a pencilPen Portrait
Name: Giles
Age: 38
Hometown:Harrogate, England
Current City: Rochester, NY
Quilting Since: March 2011

I grew up in England, spent my early adult life in Wales, and moved to the USA in 2007 when I married Michelle and we moved to Atlanta, GA. I began quilting earlier in 2011 and have just finished my first quilt - the one I've submitted in the Men Quilt Too! show.

Men Quilt Too! logo

I've been legally blind since 2008 and I began quilting largely because I felt a bit remote from the creative things I used to do when I could see more. I began this blog to be able to talk about my progress, about the challenges of doing it blind, and to meet the wonderful friends who also quilt and blog!

photo of me surrounded by rows of fabric (in Joanne's

I'm just starting a second quilt and I've got several projects lined up which I can't wait to try my hand at - including quilted flowers, bowls and bags. I joined the local Irondequoit Quilt Club and am contributing a 9x7 square block to one of the charity quilts, so those are all things that will be mentioned in on this blog between now and Christmas!

Outside of quilting I enjoy all kinds of music - I play a bit of jazz trumpet / flugelhorn and classical piano, and I used to write and blog about all types of pop, rock and electronic music! I love books and writing, and I'm very partial to a cup of tea (hot with milk, not iced) and a slice of cake!

Thhanks for stopping by. You'll find a good dose of humor, as well asquilting stories and photos, and lots of good advice from others on this blog. If you want to know more then look out for the podcast by Quilter in the Gap - there is an interview with me in the next edition, anticipated on October 5th... and of course feel free to follow me and leave a comment to let me know the name of your blog too!

See you soon!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How Many Quilters Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?

Last night I got the mobility bus from work and headed off to quilt club. There were half a dozen of us blindees on the bus, everybody else heading home after another hard day in the sweatshop... I mean in the call center ;)

Most drivers are nice but don't provide more than the minimum help that you need to get on and off the bus... but last night the driver, when he heard I'd not been to this venue before, he got out, went in and checked it was where I needed to be... and then he came back and guided me in!

It was the first monthly meeting after the summer break, but even so I was surprised to see so many people. I'd guess at least 50 quilters. By coincidence I got the same driver home tonight, and in all seriousness he said there must have been 150 to 200 people there!

I'm intrigued to discover if that's a reflection of it being the first meeting after the break, or whether it'll be a similar turn out next month!

Everybody was very friendly. I stood up and introduced myself with the other new members. Several people said they are keen to see my first quilt, and I managed to pick up a 9 x 7 square block to do for a charity quilt!

I was very happy with the lighting... very bright, thanks to a project with the local power companies, where the church (that was the location) paid 33% and got a whole energy outfit of bulbs for the hall... but hmmm-crikey-that-many-thousand-dollars???!!! well, I suspect it's worth it, all those energy saving watts and it sure helped me see a little bit of what was going on! ... the quilt gang voted to contribute some money to the cost, which seemed fair since it really is a huge benefit...

so that's how many quilters it takes to change a lightbulb: 200. Fact.

Next Irondequoit Quilt Club meeting is actually a sew night, 6pm 'until whenever', on October 7th. I'll be there :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quilt #1

I just ate the fortune cookie that came with my dinner... "A palm can say a lot, especially when it smacks." ... that's not a fortune, that's a threat! Oh dear!

Well, it's 11:15pm as I'm starting to write this post, but the deadline for the Men Quilt Too! competition is 9am tomorrow, so I made it! My first quilt, finished and in time for the competition!

I missed posting a photo of the binding tape, but suffice to say, Friday night we got that ran through the little manual bias tape maker, and ironed (without running over my fingers!)... and this evening I sat down with the sewing machine and attached it to the quilt. It was harder keeping it straight because the seams and edges I had to line up with the quilting foot on the machine were a lot less pronounced than the ditch I sewed in when doing the main quilting... but with a little help (especially at the corners!) I think it is done and looking fine for a first quilt! ... what do you think?

photo of the final quilt, the top corner is turned over to show the reversible underside which is a pattern of owls and apples.

So that first photo shows the main random patchwork of the top, in blues, beige and red type colours. The reverse is a backing of lots of owls and apples, in colours which should complement the top. And then there is a tan coloured binding of about 1 inch along the edges, with mitred corners for a nice fancy edge!

Here is a close-up of the edge detail:

photo close-up of the quilt showing the edge binding

So there we have it! The Men Quilt Too! show and competition starts on Oct 1st until 15th, so I'll remind you when it's time to vote. If you see anything that I could do better or differently then do let me know your suggestions! Tomorrow night I go to my first quilt club meeting at Irondequoit Quilt Club... I'm not sure if it's a meeting night or a sewing night, but I'm looking forward to it all the same!

And if you get the fortune cookie that says "you will do well in a competition" eat it for me ;)

Once I've finished this cup of tea it's surely bed time!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Red Hot (But Maybe I'm Biased!)

So these are my red cords, bought for the princely sum of $4.50. And this is the Perry Ellis jumper... it's a little roomy so might need to try and shrink it in the wash, although knowing my luck it'll end up too small! It's not too big that I can't wear it though, and being woolly it's nice and warm!

And how about that bias tape scarf... the book I started listening to is a bit turgid, but I got my strips joined together while listening to it.

photo of me wearing my red cord trousers, brown squares jumper by Perry Ellis, and the bias tape I made this afternoon draped around my neck

"Gentleman, Start Your Engines!"

Men Quilt Too! logo

It's about a week until the deadline for entries to the Men Quilt Too! blog show hosted by Pigtales and Quilts, October 1 - 15... and I'll be entering my quilt and calling on everyone I know to vote! haha!

I don't expect my quilt to win, but it will be great to be featured alongside other quilters, many of whom I suspect have been quilting a lot longer and have far fancier quilts to enter into the competition!

I'll get a bio, well I think I get to write a post on my blog and put a link to it on the profiles page for people entering the show. So my tasks for the next 7 days include sewing the strips of fabric into one long strip of binding fabric... buying some more fabric tomorrow because there isn't quite enough... running it through the bias tape making device, sewing it all around the quilt, and writing my bio blog post!

I've been having a terrible day with technology battling against me (and winning most of the time)... as the sharp eyed amongst you might have noticed when this post got published comprising of a single letter 'c'... yep, I hit CTRL-C to copy it before publishing and promptly replaced everything I'd written by the letter c when the CTRL key failed to register... so I've just finished re-typing it and hopefully it'll work this time!

Oooh, but in better news, yesterday I got a nice pair of red cord trousers for half price in the Goodwill store, that's less than $5! I've wanted a pair of red trousers for only about 10 years!! ... they have a rather nice rocking chair for $25 too which is proving quite hard to resist... maybe if it's still there next time...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quilty Hilfblogger

Around mid day I ventured onto the sewing machine for the first time! The big question, as was right back in blog post number 1, was: can I sew a straight line?

Armed with the spare row of quilt squares I attempted to sew in the ditch, that is positioning the machine needle in the little groove where the hems of two squares join.

And I'm delighted to say I could keep my fabric lined up, by resting my finger at the edge of the sewing machine foot and using my finger to line up the hem line with the gap in the center of the quilting foot.

I admit I had help to keep the large bulk of the quilt straight and not bunching up while I fed it through, but overall I am very happy with how much I was able to do!

Here's a photo of me (in my Quilty Hilfblogger jumper... what you can't see if my legs under the table, one sock on, one sock off because the sewing machine pedal doesn't run away from me so much if I don't have a sock on that foot!)... you'll also note I found sitting side-on to be helpful. That enabled me to feed the fabric through, or rather pull the fabric through with my left hand, while using my right hand to feel that the fabric was lined up... it was difficult to do that and push the fabric through while sitting directly in front of the machine.

As with everything when you can't see, it's a question of adapting until you find a way that works for you! I'm really glad that there is a way that works for me to use a sewing machine... I'll probably stick to hand-sewing my quilt tops because I enjoy doing that, and then use the machine for all the assembly stages.

let me stop rambling, here's the photo!
photo of me in my Tommy Hilfiger jumper, sat side-on at the sewing machine with my quilting in progress.

So now I'm just waiting for my 2-inch bias tape maker to come from Joanne's mail order... it turned out that what I bought before was the tip for one of the electric machines and not the nice little manual bias tape makers, so I'll crack on with quilt 2 while I wait for the postman :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's a Stick Up!

Everything is stuck to the floor! the quilt top is masking taped to the floor, the batting is adhesive sprayed to stick it to the quilt top, and then sprayed again to stick it to the backing fabric... the spray fumes were rather intense and maybe we'll try a different method next time! I admit, I didn't do any of this assembly!!

Ok the pic will follow soon - I'm having technical difficulties of a screen reader kind! it won't let me insert images... in fact while I've been struggling I gather I've already got one comment... so I'll finish writing and worry about the photo later!

Here is the photo, better late than never!

So everything is stuck to the floor! I am actually pondering hand-sewing the edges, which I can definitely do in one day if I set my mind to it. I'm going to have a go with the sewing machine, but maybe on the quilting part... but we shall see!

I might give up on the hand-sewing idea if I get too infuriated with the clear nylon thread which isn't nice to hand sew with! (not when you need the tactile feelings from the thread that the super-slick nylon thread doesn't give)

This morning I've finished listening to my book (Promise Canyon by Robyn Carr) and sewed 3 squares of my next quilt (Rainy Days) while doing so!

this afternoon I fancy a bit of second-hand record shopping :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Loot

On the recommendation of Quilting Revolution we took a trip out east, to an Amish quilt store called Spring Lake Fabrics in Savannah, NY... I can't say I actually needed these fat quarters, but needed can be such a vague word can't it!

photo of half a dozen fat quarters and a 1 yard piece that might come in handy!

The ducks with the umbrellas will find a place in my in-progress Rainy Days quilt, either to replace or do half-and-half with the ducks fat quarter I got the other day. The tractors will probably form a quilt of some description for my 4 year old nephew who loves tractors. And the rest... well they seemed like they might be useful at some point in the future! :)

I also got a 1 yard piece of check fabric - I could see enough to tell there are different shades around the squares and I liked the effect... again, I've no idea what it'll be used for but at $4 / yd you can't really go wrong can you?!

On the way home we passed a sign advertising worms for $1.75 / lb... I mused that worms probably taste like chicken, so maybe you could make a very cheap "wriggly chicken stew"... but I don't think I'll be running any further with that idea... times ain't that hard yet ;)

Righty-ho, I better stop picking up more fabric and get a move on with my current projects!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hello Kitty

So after yesterday's frustrations, this afternoon was a success! I finished stitching together the extension strips and joined them to my backing material, so now it should be as wide as the quilt top (though this remains to be tested!)

As you can see, Maggie cat was a great help!

Photo of me sat on the floor pinning a long fabric strip to the backing material, with Maggie cat sat on the backing fabric trying to help!

photo of Maggie cat sprawled out on the backing fabric!

In the photos you might be able to see the first long strip of extension fabric attached to the far side of the backing sheet.

I have to say I'm finding these strips of fabric fiddly! And these are 2.5" wide... the thought of making a quilt out of a jelly roll of 1.5 to 2" strips sounds horrendous!! I think I'll stick to squares and just use strips as borders! ( my next quilt has those - strips on 2 sides of the squares!)

Maggie cat is going to be a terror when it comes to taping and spraying the various layers, which is the next step!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Not Very Grown Up

Today was supposed to be a day of sewing some 2.5 inch strips together to form a 2-yard strip, which in turn would be sewed as an extension to the owl backing fabric to make it as wide as the quilt top, ready for binding.

So I pinned the first 2 pieces of strip together and did a nice neat stitching job... pinned the next strip to it and... made a complete hash of joining them!

I somehow didn't have all my thread pulled through, and had a weird loop where I'd done something odd in the process! So I unpicked it... or rather struggled for about 15 minutes! It wasn't easy to get to the ending knot I'd done and not being able to see I didn't want to risk chopping up the fabric in the process!

Eventually I succeeded and re-stitched the strips together. And made an even worse hash of it!! Firstly there was a gap where I'd gone through one piece of fabric but not the other. Second there was a yucky wrinkle or bunching in the hem... so I knew I'd need to un-pick and re-sew again.

At the point where I couldn't get hold of the knot I gave up and threw the whole mess on the floor! So what if that's not very grown up! It made me feel better about it :)

photo of the long strip of fabric, in an ungainly heap on the floor!

Friday, September 2, 2011


I deliberated long and hard, but in the end the bank manager wouldn't let me splash out on an electric bias tape maker... so I've got one of those cheap $8 manual ones that you feed the fabric through and it creases it in all the right places, and you iron it as it comes out the other side.

So, this weekend I'll mostly be making bias tape!

Actually I have to sew 2 strips of 2.5" wide fabric up each length of the backing fabric because it's 43" and my quilt top is 48"... once I've done that the bias tape binding will attach to the top and those extension strips.

I was a little puzzled why my 6" squares hadn't lost 1/2" each in their seams, giving my 8x 5.5" strips, or 44" quilt top instead of a 48" one... but measuring a square revealed each square to be 6.5" - so they did lose their 0.5" seam width, but unfortunately not making them a little bit smaller! ... I will make my quilt tops a better size for my backing next time maybe!

Happy long holiday weekend to my American readers (and me, yay no work on Monday!!!!!)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Not the Sharpest Needle in the Pin Cushion

Recently Magpie Mimi said she felt dumb because her "broken" sewing machine seems to apparently be fine and so has sat unused for several weeks! She asked if anybody else had those moments of feeling a few sandwiches short of a picnic...

Boy howdy! For the last month I've been trying one of my blood pressure pills in patch form, so instead of 3 pills per day I could have a nice smooth constant delivery throughout the day. I've been dutifully applying these patches every Sunday, and I have to admit I've not really noticed any benefit. Nothing to make it worth paying for the patches since I still need the pills too.

But it came to the end of the month and I realised on Sunday just gone, that I was going to be out of patches. So I rummaged in the box in case there was a spare lurking inside... lo and behold! 4 spare patches!

So I read the box. Contents: 4 patches and 4 extra adhesive plasters (band aids for my US readers)... guess what I'd been wearing for the last month - the 4 adhesive tops!! Doh!

So yes, I wasn't feeling like the sharpest needle in the pin cushion!

But I perked up today when I discovered I'd won a copy of Sue Patten's book, "Quilting Possibilities...Freehand Filler Patterns... thanks to Pigtails and Quilts blog! ... see, you can tell I'm excited because I've actually made the blog references hyperlinks so you can just clicky click click over on to read their great blogs too!

Right, off for a bath and to listen to some of my book! Happy sewing :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Frilly Edges

This morning we ventured out into the frilly edges of Hurricane Irene! Apart from a bit of gusty wind there's not much sign of the stormy weather here yet, though I imagine we'll see some rain later today... nothing like the poor folk along the coast have seen.

But venture out at 9am we did, so I could get some more fabric! Well I must get the borders done if I'm going to get my quilt finished for the male quilters competition entry deadline on Sept 26!

I found a nice tan Kona cotton for $6/yd, so I got 3/4 yd of that, which should be enough to cut 4 or 5 inch strips, either straight (along the width of the fabric) or bias (diagonal up the fabric)... the online calculator says 2/3 yd is enough for 4" wide strips, but I'd really like to use 5" strips since I'm making up for the backing of my quilt being 43" and the top being about 48"... so, I'm intending to center the backing so there's 2.5" of quilt top over hanging it, so the border will stretch the 2.5" to where the quilt top ends, plus about an inch to go up the side of the backing / batting / quilt top, and maybe an inch to give a little border to the top...

all that mathematics seems to work in my head, but we shall see in practice! I'll be doing a dry run measurement with some fabric scraps first!

I also got a can of adhesive spray for attaching all the quilt layers together ready for pinning and then sewing. I got a heat one, that you apply, position the layers, let dry and then iron to fuse. At $16 per can it's not cheap, but a 40% coupon helped bring the price down to under $10! I'll report back on how well it works!

In other news, here's some pics from the beginnings of quilt 2! ... it will be made up of rectangular blocks each with a white strip border on 2 sides, so that's what I'm hand stitching together at the moment. There's quite a few of these (about 30) so I may get to experimenting with the sewing machine before long! :)

photo of a pile of strips of white fabric which form the borders of each square, a pile of half a dozen squares which have borders sewed to 2 sides, and a pile of a dozen squares which have yet to be done! there is a fabric with raindrops, another with clouds and rain sayings, and another with umbrellas, plus today's purchases of a fabric with yellow ducks and a purple one with polka dots!

It's a rainy day theme and so far I've got 5 or the 8 patterned fabrics that the pattern calls for. Today I picked up the polka dots and rubber duckies ones!

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Sticky Bears are Nine Pence"

Here's a quick survey! What do quilters prefer when it comes to sticking the different layers (quilt top, batting, backing) together ready for quilting? I think my batting may be fusable, so in which case should I combine with any tape or spray, and if it isn't which is cheapest and easiest, bias tape or a binding spray?

So, more concisely:
1) fusable batting alone
2) fusable batting with either bias tape or spray
3) bias tape alone
4) adhesive spray alone

Just lingering in the coffee shop before heading to work for my last 1 - 10pm Friday night shift! After this I'll be switching to a more conventional 8:30 to 5:30 shift... though that does mean I'll probably get less quilting done! ...

I've made a start on my second quilt, sewing borders onto 2 sides of my individual squares, and that's what makes up the blocks for the pattern. So far I did 3 squares on Monday, another 3 while listening to Quilter in the Gap's latest podcast (number 9! go check it out!... I get a mention!!) ... and I've got a half dozen more squares which I might be able to get done tonight!

... and because I know some sharp eyed reader is going to point it out when I post pics... yes, I know they're rectangles and not squares! (stop nit-picking or I'll start calling them oblongs, which is a much better word than rectangle if you ask me! ;) )

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How Long is a Piece of String?

I just had to do a second post to share this link with you! First let me update you with the results of today's shopping trip!

There was a HUGE storm at 1 o'clock, so we waited till the rain had ceased and the thunder had gone to growl at somebody else, and then we set off for Joanne's armed with a tasty 50% off coupon!

In the end I used the coupon to bring a $22 roll of cotton / poly batting down to $11, and then got some fabrics at the in-store discount of 30% off: 2 and a quarter yards of an owl fabric to back my quilt, and 2 fat quarters which have rainy images that will work a treat on my next quilt!

As I'm now at home musing about the fabric for the binding, I looked to see if there was a computer version of the Robert Kaufman quilting calculator phone app (available for Android and iPhone, as mentioned by Quilting Revolution's blog!)...

and yes, I found this website which not has all the same calculators (size conversions, piece calculations, borders, binding and batting etc), but it also has slightly better descriptions about what is being calculated, along with some example calculations, so it's much easier to understand!

I think I'll be using this link a lot!

Roly Poly

I found the missing photo of all the rolls of batting at patricia's fabrics! Blame a faulty phone sim card! So here it is... I'll need to decide what variety to use very soon!

about a dozen rolls of batting materials to choose from!

I found some owl fabric that would work for backing the quilt. It was 30% off in Joanne's ... now if only I could get them to sell me it at normal price so I could use a 50% off coupon and bring it down to $4/yd!

It's been a busy week in blog land! I've met a few new people, had conversations with others, and entered a couple of give away competitions! Some people have given me some really useful lists of links to online fabric stores, podcasts and I will be checking out all of those for sure!

Hope everyone is having a nice fabricky weekend :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Topsy Turvey

So, a little over 5 months after my first quilting class (an event most memorable for the horizontal direction of my stitching), my hand sewn quilt top is assembled!

It didn't really take me 5 months to get this far. the distraction of moving from Atlanta to Rochester, NY kept me out of quilting action for a couple of those months. I am very pleased to say that my stitching has improved over the course of doing this quilt top, and I now can sew two full rows together in about 15 minutes. Not too bad :)

So here it is, my very first quilt top.

I do have a name for the quilt (as all quilts must have) but I'm not going to reveal it until it's finished. From here it needs backing and stuffing, the real "quilting" stage... so keep watching for that process and the naming of the quilt!

In the meantime I'm going to start my next project, which is either going to be a quilted basket (I got the pattern from a website associated with Quilters World magazine, which I'm expecting a trial copy of), or a second quilt, a pattern from Quilter in the Rain in Seattle (also on blogspot)! ... or maybe both :)

today I go for an information session - 3 hours of learning what my kidney dialysis options are. I've just about got my head around the fact of needing dialysis soon, and am thinking positively that it'll give me extra time for quilting!! As long as I can do the "at home" option and keep working then I'll be ok.

In other news I had an ultrasound on my kidneys the other day, which showed them to be "as expected" (or "mostly ok" as the doc said)... but it did show "a mass" in my bladder, so I'm waiting for an appointment to go have that looked at with a camera and a biopsy taken if necessary... it may just be a natural thickening of the bladder wall (according to the kidney doc), but it's a bit of an apprehensive time until I get to see the urologist and find out what's really going on... wish me luck!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

who's in to bat?

I went to get my kidneys ultrasounded yesterday.... turned out to be a not unpleasant experience! though I'm not expecting any great joy in the results! Anyway, afterwards we stopped by Patricia's Fabrics, mainly to exchange my recently-purchased metal thimble for a soft one I liked more!

Of course I couldn't help coming away with a couple of fat quarters and a couple of pre-cut squares, 8 squares of each I think... all the fabrics will go with a centre panel I got with cats and sewing motifs on... that's going to be quilt #2 I expect!

we also got to see their long arm machine, and I think I may well rent that to put my quilt top, backing and batting all together... though at $18 per hour it's a little pricey. I also know that the quilt club I'm going to join in September has a quilting machine - I don't know for sure if it's a long arm thing, but I can wait to find out since it'd be free to use! :)

I could think of lots of cricketing puns (all bad) relating to batting, but I'll be good and spare you all the cringes of that! So here's a photo instead, the rows of batting I could choose from at Patricia's! ... except it appears to have vanished! well, suffice to say, there were about a dozen different kinds and thicknesses... I didn't see any cotton / bamboo mix which I'd read about and been a little intrigued by, but lots of cotton and cotton / poly mixes.

Had a productive night at work. The phones were quiet and I got to sew 2 pairs of rows together - that gives a section that is two thirds of the whole quilt! The remaining 2 rows are ready to be sewed together and then joined to the 4-row section to complete the quilt top!

here's an unrelated question: those of you who like to quilt, what size of individual squares do you like best? My first quilt has 6" squares, but I see some fabric bundles online using 5" and 10" bundles and I wondered which you like the look and feel of best...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Long and the Short of it

So, I have spent some happy time this week stitching 2 pairs of my quilt rows together whilst listening to Quilter in the Gap's first 3 podcasts (which are very good!)... and I reach a point where a decision needs to be made!

At the moment the quilt is 5 ft long by 4 ft wide. I have enough squares left to add either 1 more row to make the quilt 6 x 4, or one more column to make it 5 x 5... or I could leave it at 5 x 4.

I admit I got a little bewildered at the description of putting it all together - the top, the backing and the batting, and using a frame to facilitate the sewing it all together process.

I have half a mind to wait until the local quilt club (complete with quilting machine) starts again at the end of next month so i can seek advice and see what would work best with their machine...

But I'd also like to carry on, either hand stitching it all, or running it through my sewing machine if possible... I just don't know which size would be either easiest or most useful as a quilt!!

At 5 x 4 it fits as a throw, about the size to sit on top of the matress; at 6 x 4 it'd fit more fully over the bed, and at 5 x 5 it'd be a bigger lap quilt quite nicely,though it would be fine at 5 x 4 for that!

Any of my expert followers have any suggestions? i have no overwhelming preference for the use of the quilt, so that probably makes practicality of assembling it the key factor in the decision!