Thursday, 22 December 2011

Xmas Cake-athon Part 2

And with over two months prep may I present my completed Xmas cake...

Recipe and design taken from the Pink Whisk

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Xmas Cake-athon

(Picture heavy)
For the first time this year I decided to make a Xmas cake courtesy of the recipe from The Pink Whisk.

The making process started over 2 months ago with the soaking of the fruit.

Then there was a lot of tin preparing before the cake could make it into the oven.

The cake cooked up beautifully...

...and having had to trim bits up to make it flat, it seems to taste ok too.

The next steps were to marzipan...
...and royal ice it (the icing only got stuck to the surface once and when I last checked it had a lovely smooth finish with no cracks).

And now its firming up for 24 hours before the final decoration.  It's a surprisingly time consuming process but seems to be worth it so far.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Apologies for the cheesy (and probably somewhat overused title) for this blog, but I have finally managed to decorate for Xmas although I have a feeling more sparkly stuff is needed.  I am very pleased with my tree this year.

I love Xmas and I bought this tree and started collecting the decorations at least ten years ago.  I buy a couple more decorations each year.  They're themed (mostly) -trees, stars, snowmen, santas, angels and reindeer.  I'm aiming to totally cover the tree.  Some are cheap, some are glass, some are foreign - its a real mix of things.  Unfortunately one needed a little repair this year and one has its paint chipping off, but they've both made it to the tree.  Will be watching out in the sales for a couple more decs.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Friday Night Sew In Results

Very pleased with what was achieved last night, although because they're presents much can't be shown or said yet. I managed several more rows on the stole for my mum - although the chabces of this being ready for Xmas is slim. I sewed together a cryptic gift for my sister, which made it into the post first class today so should appear under the tree.  And, after being somewhat shocked by the large quantity of scraps I have accumulated  in a short time,I whizzed up a little useful gift (abstract glimpses below as the recipient may read this).

Hope everyone else had a successful Friday Night too.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Perfect Timing - 2nd FNSI of December

To coincide perfectly with my having time to craft again ( and lots of craft planned) Heidi is hosting another Friday Night Sew In on 16 Dec.  Its a great way of getting come sewing done and then sharing your efforts with loads of other bloggers.

If you're interested in signing up visit Heidi's sign up page. I already have and have a essential, quick finish, Xmas present lined up (could make sharing the fruits of my efforts on Saturday morning a bit tricky!)

And on that note I'm off to do some more work on a knitted Xmas present, there's nothing like being all last minute!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

Sorry I've been so quiet - I've not been busy working away on secret Xmas projects, I'm on a two month work course which is sapping all my spare time.  On a positive note this has coincided with a sudden increase in weekend social engagements.  All in all I've gotten next to no craft work done (not even the shawl that is supposed to be complete by Xmas!).  I have managed to teach my mum to knit with beads and do basic fairisle so my hands have not been completely idle.  I may manage a post at the weekend to detail a recent trip to the big smoke but otherwise don't expect much from here till mid December, when, considering the fabric I've been hoarding and the season, there should be a sudden spate of posts.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Random Fabric Collection

Whilst visiting family and friends in North Wales I took the opportunity to pop into Aberkhan Fabrics - a fabric mill which sell seconds fabrics by the kilo.  This usually works out fairly cheap as long as you don't want a specific fabric and in the sales the reductions can be excellent...but anyway what did I get this time?

The green fabric and button are destined to be parts of Xmas presents for sometime readers of this blog so I can't say more yet (although there is plenty of the green so expect it to make repeated appearances!); the blue is winter themed with snowflakes and stars and should be perfect for the back of a Xmas themed quilt I want to make; the white isn't actually white but this was the best my camera could manage today - its off white and covered in gold glitter (I have a piece of its silver glitter twin) and is also destined for the Xmas quilt; The black and which is for the back of my sister's quilt which is not a surprise but considering the amount of questions I've been asking about designs and fabrics I bet my sister wishes it was!

Unfortunately non of these fabrics are to finish off any of the items on my WIPs list but are destined to add to that list!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Forgotten Finish!

I mentioned making a raggy quilt a while ago and then went to the course to learn how to make it; bound and tumble dried it and then promptly forgot to post it here!  Lucky the weather's getting cooler or it may never have made it to the blog.

I still love this fabric and how the quilt turned out, although I don't think Val and Sue at the quilt shop believe I am going to keep it for myself - but as I said in an earlier post I have had a very long attachment to Padding ton Bear.

And I managed to find some marmalade-esque binding.  This quilt will get plenty of use of the winter when I'm curled up on the sofa knitting.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Great South Run 2011

Sorry for the lack of posts - it will be like this for the next few weeks as I am on an academic course and the workload is high, so blogging and crafting will have to take a back seat for a while.

Luckily I still have fairly free weekends (barring my unusually busy social life!).

Last weekend I took part in the BUPA Great South Run.  I have run it twice before, using the term run fairly loosely.  It is a 10 mile fairly flat course and I enjoy it.  I managed to run almost non stop (excepting for water breaks as I can't run and drink) but unfortunately I finished it in my slowest time yet.  So I am going to apply for next year's and I am determined to get under the 2 hour mark.

A thankfully small shot of me approaching the finish line.

 I have rewarded myself with some new running trainers and am determined to re-loose some weight as I think this affected my time, that and the fact I run slowly!

Sunday, 23 October 2011


After writing a post suggesting everyone sign up to the Friday Night Sew In guess what I forgot to do...

Yep that's right I didn't sign myself up!!

I did however get some sewing done so I will share it now

It's not a huge amount but trimmed round my 6ft ish square quilt and started the epic handstitching of the binding.  Wish meluck this may take some time!

Monday, 17 October 2011

October Friday Night Sew In

It's here October's Friday Night Sew In...

Handmade by Heidi

The perfect way to welcome in the weekend and to craft with many others.

The rules are simple:

1.  sign up at Crafty Vegas Mom's Blog below with your blog/web address.  blog about it and invite everyone you know!
2.  on friday 10/21/11 make something FUN.  get your comfy clothes on and CRAFT until you cant go anymore.
3.  saturday 10/22/11 be sure and blog about your project.  post some pictures, talk about your night, surf other blogs to see what everyone else did. 
4.  sunday 10/23/11 check back at Crafty Vegas Mom's blog for the lucky winners picked by
I thought I didn't have anything to do for this FNSI as my finishing off is going well but then I spotted my UFO list - I'll be busy!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Pinwheels Polished

Well the baby this quilt was created for is now four months old and I've eventually finished her quilt - which is lucky as I'm meeting her for the first time next weekend.

The pattern was from the free ones at and the fabric is mostly Makower Spectrum.  I've quilted diagonal, straight lines either side of the seams on the pinwheels and straight line between the pinwheels with white cotton. The stippled white border was done in a variegated primary colours type of thread.  I'm really pleased that this quilt has ended up looking just like I planned it would.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Postman Calls...

And left...

 A very bright, somewhat squishy and fairly heavy parcel.  Looked like my fabric order from Hancocks had finally arrived.

I'd spotted Julie Paschkis' Catkin range (to the left of the picture) ealier in the year and had fallen in love with it.  But I patiently waited until free shipping appeared at Hancocks and pounced.  I've treated myself to pretty much half a yard each of the whole range (although I'm sill waiting for three back ordered fabrics with crossed fingers).  I haven't quite decided what to make with the fabric (so possibly I shouldn't have bought it) but it'll definitely be a quilt for me.   To make up the minimum spend amount for the free shipping I added the red fabrics (to the right of the photo) to the order.  These are eventually destined for a scrappy red and cream Farmer's Wife Quilt. I was amazed, even taking into account exchange rate and the commission for using me credit card on an overseas purchase how cheap the fabcric worked out compared to uk prices.  Add in the pretty quick service and I think I'll be taking advantage of this fabric shop again.

(Apologies for the slightly poor photo quality - I've had to use my I Pod as I don't have my camera with me.  Though I do think it makes a fair substitute)

Friday, 14 October 2011

No More Cold Hands

Sorry about the lack of posts this week and it's not as though I hadn't got anything to update the blog with.  Seem to on a finishing off jaunt at the moment.

The finished items for this post are the surprisingly quick and simple Debbie Abrahams fingerless mitts.

I was really pleased when I found out we were making these at the class as I suffer from very cold hands and tend to wear fingerless gloves alot.

I'd tried fairisle knitting before but not quite as neatly as on these mittens and I have fallen in love with beadwork - who'd have guessed it was so simple!

Think some more of these need to be made!

Monday, 10 October 2011

A Long Term Work In Progress

So my family came to visit this weekend and my sister brought along the French knitting we have been working on, on and off, since I was six.  I think it was given to me to do partly to keep me occupied and partly because we'd found some wooden cotton reels at my grandmother's house.  It also helped that my mum had a huge stash of double knitting wool oddments I could use for it.

When it arrived the French knitting was wound into a ball about 6 inches in diameter.  I set to laying it out in the rug shape we'd eventually like it to make - that took a fair while.

On completing this task I'd learnt a few things...
- Trying to lay out what is essentially a coil of string on top of a duvet covered bed neatly and accurately is nigh on impossible
- My mum and sister weren't joking when they said we didn't have enough knitting for a rug yet - the coil in the picture is definitely less than a metre across
- On a rough estimate we need to knit about the same amount againg to create a decent (smallish) rug for my sister's room! (Hopefully this will not take another 24 years to achieve!!!!) 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Another Quilting Course

It's a dangerous thing paying a visit to my LQS, I'd only popped in to get details for the Debbie Abrahams knitting course when I found myself signing up to the raggy quilt course the weekend after.

This is actually a course I've wanted to do since I started quilting but the classes and my free time have never coincided.  It looked like that was going to be the case with this course but I was, just that morning, informed that my family wouldn't be arriving at my house the Saturday of the course until 4pm at the earliest (that probably actually means 6pm). It seemed to be fate so I signed up for the course, and then realised I wasn't supposed to be buying any more fabric after spending a small fortune at Hancocks (with free international shipping and cat themed fabric I couldn't say no).

A little browsing of various shops' discount lines and I think I've found the, in my opinion, most perfect raggy quilt fabric ever...

Beautiful Paddington Bear fabric courtesy of Doughty's (who managed an inspired bit of fabric subbing via a phonecall - the top right hand turquoise fabric was selected by their staff)

This quilt is all for me; I love Padddington bear - I fondly remember my Paddington bed covers and curtains, I enjoyed the stories, and marmalade sanwiches have been a lunchtime staple for years.  I am really looking forward to this quilt.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I'm Late, I'm Late for A Very Important Small Blog Meet!

For the first time ever I'm joining up with Lily's Quilts Small Blog Meet a get together held by Lynne once a month for those of us with blogs with less than 50 followers to share our blogs with each other and to find some more excellent crafty blogs to while away our evenings with!

For those who've popped over from the small blog meet link - Hi! Feel free to have a look around this somewhat erratically updated blog.  I've only been blogging a year but have been crafting in one form or another for as long as I can remember - finger knitting does count as a craft?!  Hopefully, if all goes well, I'll be able to introduce you to one of my first ever proper craft projects (and still a UFO!) next weekend.

If you want to visit some of the other small blogs or check out Fresh Sewing day the click on the Small Blog button (it may work!)

Small Blog Meet

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Winter Mitts During Autmn Heatwave!

On being told a few weeks ago that during the Debbie Abrahams led fairisle and beadwork knitting class at Nimble Thimble I would be working towards a pair of mittens I thought what a lovely autumnal project that I'll probably be very keen to wear at the end of the day!

I didn't count on the temperature, on Saturday, during the course being 29 degrees centigrade (hotter than any day this summer.

Luckily the high temperatures did not do anything to dampen my enjoyment of the course and they gave me the perfect excuse for an ice cream break!

Debbie Abrahams is a very friendly and enthusiastic teacher; I learnt more than expected during the day and managed to get further throught the mitten than I imagined possible.

This was what I had to show by the end of the session.
Not only have I leant how to incorporate beads into my knitting, to strand and weave the back of fairisle properly, and to keep the whole lot untangled.  I also found out that I have been doing the thumb cast on wrong for the last 20 years - I had wondered why this supposedly stretchy cast on wasn't so stretchy!

I am definitely hooked on beads and colourwork and Debbie's designs, and spent the rest of the weekend poring over the copies of her books which I have had for years trying to figure out what to try next.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Boozy Weekend!

Unfortunately (!) none of the booze has, as yet, been consumed by me.

It has become apparent in recent days that Xmas is creeping nearer.  I adore Xmas but I hate the fact that the shops have already got seasonal food and advent calendars and such like in stock.  That said it hasn't prevented me preparing some Christmas treats.

During a run one lunchtime last week myself and a friend came across a Sloe bush (can't remember if its a Hawthorn or Blackthorn) and so Friday lunchtime saw us out with plastic bags picking sloes.  And so, after freezing them, Xmas treat experiment one commenced on Sunday afternoon.

And now I have my first ever bottles of sloe gin and sloe vodka doing whatever they do and being agitated daily for the first week.

Experiment two is my first ever attempt at making a Xmas cake.  And no simple fruit cake for me! I just couldn't resist this recipe on The Pink Whisk blog.

It smells lovely after just one day, if I remember rightly its got to soak for 6 weeks.  For this first week it needs stirring everyday.  It's going to take a lot of will power not to keep sampling the fruit!

Hopefully these treats will be successfully completed by Xmas Eve. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Squishy Loveliness

I adore coming home and find out some yarn I have ordered has been delivered.  Especially when on opening the packaging you are greeted by...

(which isn't quite how it looked as there were a couple of stitch markers attached to the bow but I removed them before I thought to take a photo). 

And then it just gets better and better when you open the package...

All the yarn is from an online shop called Five Moons

The pinky orange laceweight is for a lacy scarf I've bookmarked on Ravelry as I'm really enjoying knitting lace at the mo.  And the mini skeins of double knitting wool is going towards a French knitting project that has been a UFO for 22 or maybe even as much as 24 years and has been worked on by myself and both my sisters (obviously with very short attentions spans) over the years.  Hopefully when my sister comes to visit me in a couple of weeks she'll bring it with her and we can figure out how much more there is to do (and I'll get some photos for the blog too).

Monday, 19 September 2011

Stitch and Unstitch

Considering a lot of my weekend was (pleasureably) used up by a curry night with work colleagues and a shopping trip to Swindon (a suprisingly good place to shop) I have achieved a lot this weekend and I squeezed in a Saturday afternoon nap!

I finished off the quilting of the technicolour baby quilt with in the ditch quiting in the border.  I wasn't sure if this was entirely necessary, especially when unpicking at least half the quilting due loopy stitching on the reverse (must remember to actually delint my machine once in a while and replace the quilting needle more frequently!).  But, now I've seen this picture on the big screen it was definitely worth doing it and doing it properly. I really love this quilt.

I also (finally) finished the quilting on my log cabin quilt, which has been ongoing for over a year but got waylaid by baby quilts and gifts.

I'm now looking forward(!) to a week of handstitching binding and sewing in ends, as well as trying to do some significant progress on the lacy scarf.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Almost Hexies - A Crafting Review

Been a bit quiet on here as I have been having some work done on my flat and consequently felt a bit guilty crafting.  And then last weekend, when I had lots of crafting time and got the squiggles done, I found I'd forgotten to bring my camera - there will be a sudden burst of photos in the nearish future showcasing my house improvements and craft achievements (barring the knitting which I have been doing obsessively but is destined to be a family present in the winter).

For now I'm going to have a little craft retrospective and update everyone with my slow progress on my hand sewn tumbling blocks quilt.

It hasn't grown much but I've just started on the third row, having added about half a rows worth of blocks.  To give a sense of scale (and to explain why its folded over) this quilt is destined to be suitable for at least a double bed, possibly a kingsize bed.  I have a cunning plan to increase the size of this quilt least two or three rows (possibly as many as five) have already been completed and sewn together.  These are currently somewhere in my mum's house so I have put a plea in with her to track them down and send them to me and then I can get a real feel for how far I have got with this quilt.  In optimistic hope I'm starting to try and figure out how it should be quilted and planning in a trip to buy backing fabric.  Judging on current progress that trip may not be until 2014 but you never know!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Kindle Cover Take 2

In one of those weird happenings I managed to loose my sparkly Kindle cover in a B&B room a few weeks ago. Annoying though this was it has give me the opportunity to (a) try making a better fitting Kindle cover and (b) buy and use a gorgeous fat quarter of fabric.

Unfortunately the tutorial I used before has disappeared but a bit of thinking, measuring and seeking inspiration seemed to do the trick.

I seem to have mostly failed with part a, it fits width ways but is too long and saggy and the bottom. I have decided that off centre buttons are going to be my Kindle cover trademark.
But it is most definitely a gorgeous fat quarter and a beautiful coordinating mother of pearl button, all purchased from my restrained shopping trip at the Festival of Quilts.

Speaking of the FoQ I have found the site of the lady who made an absolutely stunning quilted version of the Bayeux Tapestry - Pam Holland's Bayeux Tapestry.  I'm glad to have found this as the FoQ catalogue seemed somewhat light on info about this amazing quilt.

And while giving my Kindle a new protective wrap I decided to personalise the Kindle too ...

Think the zebra print goes sooo well with the oriental print fabric!!!!!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

To Squiggle or Not To Squiggle?

This post is purely to give a feel for how the free motion quiliting looks on the quilt. I would love any feedback on what you think (the pics may need clicking to make them more viewable). I think the free motion bit is breaking up the whiteness as I wanted,but I don't know if it's a bit too much for a baby's quilt or whether it's fair to use my somewhat wobbly quilting on a gift for a friend (who does appreciate bright colours). I'm taking break from the quilt now, maybe for the rest of the weekend, just to make sure it is definitely the right thing for the quilt - unpicking a whole quilt's worth of quilting is not worth thinking about.

Right where's my stash of UFOs?

FNSI Results

Posting this a little later than I intended to as I had to make a dash to the post office before it closed.

Had a very productive FNSI and completed the quilting on the centre of my baby quilt.

I'm fairly pleased with the back of the quilt - the pinwheel stripe looks good against the grey, unfortunately the number of pleats I've accidentally sewn into it don't look too good. Unfortuntely they don't seem to be just have been caused by only one or two lines of stitching but I'm not sure I can live with them. I will have a think whilst I get on quilting the borders - fingers crossed for my first serious attempt at free motion quilting!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Oh Heck!

Why the title? Well...

...firstly, I have just entered myself in a half marathon - I am not the world's keenest or most dedicated runner - but it's not until March.  Maybe I will be better behaved than when I have previously entered (shorter races) and actually do some training!  Did 3 miles this evening in the drizzle - see how long that motivation lasts!

...secondly, my chilli plant is going mad, the six chillies I originally had have gone red and there is at least half a dozen more baby chillies evident.  I have no idea when they are ready for picking and I don't think I've ever used fresh chilli before.  Looks like I'm going to have to frequently in the not so distant future! I'm loving how nice the plant looks with its white flowers and red chillies.

...thirdly, after deciding that I simply had to make the Farmer's Wife Quilt (courtesy of some wonderful tutorials from Lori at Bee in My Bonnet) I decided to work out whether I already had too much on the go (craft wise) to actually go and buy some fabric.  Well it turns out I have (insert embarassed cough here) 9 crafty projects (knitting, sewing, cross-stitch) in progress, 1 project on hold but definitely in progress.  And the materials and patterns ready to go for another five projects.  This does not include any fabric or yarn I've bought just in case!  I definitely need to get some finishes under my belt before I even consider doing anything about the other half dozen or so projects that have attracted my attention.  And before my sister points it out, I almost definitely shouldn't have started all those projects until some of the others were done!

And on that note I'm off to attack one of my WIPs and watch Torchwood - whilst ignoring the ironing pile!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Festival of Quilts 2011

Firstly apologies - this is likely to be a long and picture heavy post (if it isn't then I've decided to make two separate posts).

After visiting the quilting museum in York I made my mind up to visit the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham at the NEC.  Wish I'd made my mind up earlier as could've saved a bit on the tickets and maybe  pre-booked a class (some classes were still available on arrival but not the ones I'd been interested in - lesson learnt!)

I hadn't a clue what to expect, the instructions simply said to get off the train and go into the NEC, when  finally got there I discovered that the NEC is HUGE (at least compared to anywhere I've ever been) consisting of 20 large barn sized halls, conference rooms and at least one arena.

Any how I finally hiked to the halls and it was well worth it.  So many beautiful quilts from all round the world, by junior and senior quilters, professionals and amateurs.

One of the prize winners - Octopussy (Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga) - I overheard some fellow viewers commenting that this had been done by an amateur in amazement (this is just a small proportion of the quilt.

Other eye-catchers were...


Billie Joe Armstrong by Charlotte Bailey, which for those of you caught by the hexies bug was constructed of nothing but...

Can't remember the actual size (and the brochure has no details).

(Back to centralised pictures can't force Blogger to do what I want!)
This one is A Little Bird Told Me by Rosalind Jones, I just loved the deceptive simplicity of it with the straight line quilting.

Living Adventurously by Judith Caroline Lynch, e mails from her son's gap year free-motion quited.

Blue Like a Wedgwood by Kumiko Frydl, no dimensions but a minature quilt wholecloth with trapunto and free motion quilting.

And finally (and barely scraping the surface of the approx 100 photos I have!) a work record breaking quilt from Czechslovakia...

A six metre long 2 metre high Sulky House quilt.

Along with all the quilts were all the vendors stalls...I resisted pretty well (although I know which stands I liked and have noted their online addresses for future reference!).  That's not to say I came away empty handed - some fabric and a button as a souvenir to replace my missing kindle case, a log cabin paper piecing book which I'm itching to try out, some heat resistant wadding (which may have been a bit of an impulse purchase but I do have a use in mind for it) and a moda Xmas jelly roll for the Xmas quilt I've been wanting to make which I found at the lovely Simply Solids stall reduced significantly - and it was just the range I wanted!  For me quite a restrained fabric shop.

I'll definitely be going again next year better prepared now I know what the Festival of Quilts is like.

PS I think I've managed to keep myself to just one post on the Festival!
PPS I'm not sure of quilt blogging etiqutte but I'm assuming it's polite to include full details about a photographed quilt if I have them?