Monday, 21 July 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Hello, all. The always happy, always playful, (and always organised), Val, from Val's Quilting Studio, has invited me to take part in an Around the World Blog Hop. This blog hop is a way of getting to know bloggers from all around the world just a little bit better. You can check out Val's Blog Hop post here.

So what kind of person am I? I'm the kind of person who would click back and back and back… and back, through many, many posts, just to find the origin of this Around the World Blog Hop. Yep, it is my unique combination of curiosity and procrastination that makes me a special kind of time waster. If anyone else is interested in the ancestry of this particular line of the blog hop, it has actually changed quite a bit over time and had a number of name changes along the way. I came to a dead end here, so I'm guessing it was the beginning, where it was known simply as...





... and involved authors of Young Adult and Children’s books answering 7 questions about writing. It quickly dropped a few questions and expanded to include authors of any genre for any age group, and became known as the Writing Process Blog Hop along the way. Now it has evolved so far from writing, that it includes sewing and other crafts and has morphed into the Around the World Blog Hop.

I found this rather interesting because I would love to be a writer (if I had any talent in that area, that is). Sometimes I tinker with ideas, even to the point of trying to combine quilting and story telling...



... but it's all pipe dream type stuff.

OK, let's get to answering these blog hop questions before I get even more off track...


1. What am I working on?
Everything and nothing at all. I spend most of my time doing non-creative activities like surfing the net, doing housework (occasionally), and taking care of my family, but I have many a WIP and UFO, not to mention countless ideas that are whirling around in my head, just waiting to get out.

I'm not currently working on any quilts (only because my sewing machine has broken, I've been too lazy to get it fixed, and I am yet to embrace hand sewing). I do, however, have a list of 6 or 7 quilt ideas. Seriously, I've written a list. (Val, you must be rubbing off on me).

I have no other sewing plans, either. Time to get that sewing machine fixed, I think.


I have been knitting, though...



... these ones are for my husband, but I'm currently knitting a pair of slippers for myself.


I enjoy doing just about anything arty or crafty. I like drawing and painting, too, but I never seem to complete any artworks that I start...




... this one is over ten years old now, and still not finished. It is one of my oldest UFOs (but not the oldest) .


I've also tried encaustic art ('painting' with melted dyed waxes). Here's a picture I started of my grandmother...



... it was looking OK at this point. I had only truly finished the jacket, neck and hair. The rest was still a work in process. I have since fiddled with it, and it no longer looks like Nana. Perhaps if I keep on trying, I can fix it. Although this painting is quite a few years old now, too.


Like I said, I have lots of WIPs and UFOs of many varieties.



2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
This is a tricky one. I don't put much thought into how what I am making is different or similar to what others are doing. I would say I don't really have a signature style, I'm not really interested in one thing over another. I think my style changes from one project to the next. Even the ideas that I have for future projects don't seem to have anything in common. If you can tell me how my work differs from others, I would love to know.

The only thing I can think of is that I do enjoy making things that tell a story...



... or that hold a particular significance to me or the recipient...




3. Why do I write/create what I do? 
Because I wanna. That's the simple answer :) For the love of making. 


4. How does my writing/creating process work?
Generally speaking, I do a lot of thinking and umming and ahhing, occasionally a bit of planning on little scraps of paper that tend to float around for a while before getting lost. I change my plans about a million times before implementing them, and a few more times while working on the project. 

I like learning the very basics of how to do something and then figuring the rest out on my own.

I'm not a fan of following patterns, but I am learning the benefits of doing so (for example, following a pattern is a good way to learn new skills, and nearly always guarantees a good looking finished project).

And now that I've said all that, sometimes none of what I said is true.

The End

Thanks for reading along. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know me a little better. 

Now, I'd like to introduce you to two lovely Aussie girls, Ros and Keera, who will take part in the blog hop next week, Monday, 28th July. Until then, why don't you get better acquainted by popping on over to their blogs for a visit today :)

Ros from Sew Delicious
Ros recently admitted to committing sewing crimes, but you wouldn't believe it by looking at her beautiful creations. Visit Sew Delicious to find out more about Ros, the seamstress, quilter, cook, crafter, mother and avid reader.

Keera from live.love.sew
Keera is an all-round crafty girl. From pretty stitching, to practical sewing, to quilting, knitting, baking and decorating - Keera does it all with style, and then shares it with us at live.love.sew.

I look forward to reading their Blog Hop Interviews.

Thanks, Val, for this fun opportunity.


P.S. You may have noticed I'm having some issues with my blog posts today.  The text size and colour, and the picture placement, seem to be doing what they want. Blogger is not functioning how it it usually does for me, and I don't know how to fix it, so I will just grin and bare it
:)  <---  see

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Slippers and the Seamingly Endless Stash of Yarn

Let's start with the slippers...

A while ago, Val, from Val's Quilting Studio, shared her mum's slipper pattern with me. To begin with, I decided I was going to knit just one slipper to test out the pattern. I considered it my practise slipper, so I used some crazy coloured acrylic yarn on its second incarnation (it was previously a half-finished crochet project from years ago). Because the yarn looked pretty thin, I knitted with two strands at a time. The only knitting needles I had available at the time were too small, but I thought they would do for a practise run. What I ended up with was a very thick slipper, too small for me and too big for the kids, but, I guessed, just right for my mum. 

After knitting one slipper, I decided it was worth knitting a matching one. I was hoping desperatly that I had enough yarn, and luckily I did. If the patteren had been a row or two longer though, it would have been another story - I would have had a Franken-slipper on my hands (or feet, as the case may be). Anyway, I ended up with a matching pair just in time to give to my mummy for Mother's Day... 






... it reminded me of when I was a little kid and always gave something that was very obviously hand made for a gift. These slippers are a crazy kind of ugly (because of the yarn, only - the pattern is great), I made a couple of little knitting mistakes, they ended up too thick and they are 100% acrylic, so I imagine Mum probably gets sweaty feet, but she says she loves them :) 


Now we are in the middle of winter and Mum is not impressed because I am walking around bare foot. She insisted that I make a pair of slippers for myself, so I did - I finished them yesterday... but they were too big! They did fit my husband, though... 






... He thinks they are too feminine, but I don't agree. In any case, who is going to see them except me (and anyone who has access to the Internet)?... 









See the lap blanket? I made it for my mother-in-law, using this scarf pattern (but obviously much wider)...






... I got my husband to model with it, just so that you can get an idea of my seemingly never-ending stash of this browny-greyey-pinky-greeny yarn. I bought plenty of it a couple of years ago with the intention of knitting my husband a jumper, but he changed his mind about the jumper when it occurred to him that it may take me a year, if not two, to make it (he would be correct in this assumption), and instead decided he would like me to make him a scarf. And so I did. I made him a very long and wide scarf, using moss/seed stitch. I started knitting it at the start of that winter, and finished knitting it by the time the weather had warmed up again. Oh, well... 


Since then I've used the remaining yarn to crocheted my son a beanie, knit that rather large lap blanket for my mother-in-law, make a pair of slippers for a friend of mine (using this pattern), plus the pair for my husband, plus crocheted a coaster that you can see in the photo below, along with the start of my original attempt at a lap blanket for my mother-in-law...






... (crocheted basket stitch, which I thought looked too manly). I'm sure I've knitted even more things with this yarn - it seriously seemed like it would never run out. I even found another ball of it out of nowhere the other day. But all things must come to an end - this particular piece of basket stitch is the last of my seemingly endless yarn, and it is currently in the process of being unravelled and knitted back together again. In its next reincarnation it will become a pair of slippers for myself. I'm crossing my fingers that there will be enough (and that the slippers will fit). 


P.S.
Can you imagine how matchy-matchy we must all look? Blerk.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Airing of the Quilts - Sunday

DAY 3 - Quilt 3

The Colour Wheel Quilt

The third and final quilt that I have ever made is the Colour Wheel Quilt...




Here is the back...




... third time's a charm. Finally, I made a quilt I can be proud of.

OK, now that it is nice and aired out, I will give you the backstory...

Quite a while ago I bought a book called 'Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts' by Joelle Hoverson...




... although it is a great book, full of excellent projects, I bought it mostly for the Color-Wheel Quilt pattern. I love this pattern, and I knew instantly that I wanted to make it for someone who would really appreciate it.

When one of my life long friends (who studied visual arts at university) got married, I thought this quilt would make an excellent wedding gift. There were only two problems with that idea: problem one, it turns out that the Color-Wheel Quilt is actually quite small, more of a baby sized quilt, really; problem two, I had approximately zilch skills or experience in quilting at that point in time, so to turn it into a queen sized quilt (like I wanted to) was beyond my abilities.

Anyway, a couple things happened that finally pushed me to get around to making this quilt. Firstly, my arty friend became pregnant. Yay! The quilt was baby sized. Secondly, I won a rainbow bundle of fat quarters when Laura, from Little and Lots, held a "pay-it-forward" giveaway. Coincidence? I think not.

I set to cutting up my prize straight away, along with all of the other suitable fabrics that I owned...




... and I still needed more.

I bought lots of new fabric and decided against using some of the fabrics I had already cut up. 

When I finished the quilt top... 





... it kind of pocketed out in the middle, so I had to give it a bit of a re-measure, re-cut, and re-sew (no Ugly Quilt rules for this quilt). 

I decided to make the back out of diagonal strips in the same fabrics, and in the same colour order, that I used in the colour wheel...




... I thought it would look good, and would be more baby-friendly than the plain white backing that the pattern suggests.

I also went with 'rainbow' binding instead of the plain white binding used in the pattern. My binding was made up of little strips of each of the prints I used in the colour wheel. There were 52 different fabric designs used in the colour wheel, and 50 of them made it into the binding (two were trimmed because I made a little excess binding).

The quilting was done in a rough spiral inside and outside of the colour wheel, and by stitching in the ditch between the 'spokes' of the colour wheel...






I had planned to buy white thread for the quilting, but, in the spirit of keeping with my goal for this year, I used a variegated blue Aurifil thread that I already had, instead...







I didn't prewash any of the fabric or the batting, I just threw the finished quilt in the washing machine and hoped for the best - and the best happened :)

Remember that winning the Little and Lots "pay-it-forward" giveaway was just the catalyst I needed to get started on this quilt? So, of course I paid it forward. I held a giveaway on my old blog when I finished the Colour Wheel Quilt in January. The prize was my copy of 'Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts' by Joelle Hoverson (the book that the pattern came from), plus 52 rectangles of coloured fabric (one of each of the 52 fabrics I used in my colour wheel), cut just big enough (roughly 4x12 inches) for someone to make their own colour wheel. The winner was Sisbabe from SisbabeStitching.

By the way, my friend loved this quilt! And I loved that she loved it :)



WHAT I LEARNT: Following someone else's pattern doesn't have to be boring. Spiral quilting can lead to puckered fabric that then gets sewn down on top of itself. Quilting ruins my little sewing machine.

WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:  I would probably enlarge this pattern and give it as a gift for an adult (there is too much white on it for a baby, I can't imagine it staying white for long - even as a lap blanket, or wall art, it would be inclined to get dirty).

FINAL THOUGHTS: By far my favourite quilt that I have made - I think it turned out great. Plus it was received with so much enthusiasm that I felt extra good about making it and giving it.