Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Labour of love

A long time ago (about 6 years) I pieced a quilt top using a pattern in American Patchwork and Quilting. It's unusual for me to slavishly follow a design, but I loved this quilt so much that I used exactly the same colour scheme as the magazine and ended up with this gorgeous and very traditional quilt top.

It was about this time that I decided that it would make the perfect wedding quilt for Mr Q and I. It was pieced, pressed and ready to quilt when Mr Q told me that he didn't like it very much. As you can imagine, I was pretty upset by this news, because you can't really have a wedding quilt that one half of the marriage doesn't like very much. And so the quilt top was put away, languishing in a box waiting for Mr Q to have a change of heart.

I'm not sure that the change of heart has happened just yet, but earlier this year, Mr Q suggested that I start finishing some of my unfinished projects. He thought it would be a good idea if I quilted some of the tops that have been cluttering up my sewing room for some time. And so I dug out the quilt and started thinking about how I could quilt it. I spent lots of time in meetings at work doodling possible quilting designs. In my mind, such a traditional quilt needed a traditional quilting design like feathers, and all my design ideas were pretty feather heavy. I kept putting off the quilting, nervous that I couldn't do my vision justice, worried that I wouldn't be able to pull off feathers in each of the 2-inch half square triangles. And then, last week, I just bit the bullet and went for it.

first feather

first block

I am so pleased with how this is turning out so far. It is nerve wracking and time consuming, but I am confident that this labour of love will be worth it.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A very good vintage

It was my birthday on Friday, but I've been celebrating for about a week. The fun started last weekend when Mr Q and I ventured into Manchester for the Vintage Home Show at the Victoria Baths. The building itself is truly spectacular and is currently undergoing restoration to return it to its former glory. Highlights include scores of stained glass windows...

...beautifully tiled walls and floors...

wall tiles in the 1st class male entrance hall

floor mosaic in the 1st class male entrance hall

...and plenty of original fixtures and fittings...

changing cubicles in the 1st class male pool

1st class male (or gala) pool

There are three pools (1st class males, 2nd class males, and females) each with their own entrance hallways so that the clientele would not need to mix. The most opulent is definitely the 1st class males pool and entrance hall, with my favourite decorative feature the fishy mosaic floor.

The vintage fair was held in the 2nd class male pool and there were plenty of stalls to peruse.

Mr Q's favourite was a stall offering restored old-style telephones is full working order. I was pretty restrained - we have reached the point in our house renovation where we need to change carpets and paint walls so buying extra pieces of furniture, lights, crockery and the rest will probably have to wait a little while. I contented myself with a handful of vintage buttons and a cute tin.

However, the real highlight of the day came when we visited the cafe for a warming cuppa and shared our table with a couple in their eighties. The lady told us how she had swum at the pool as a teenager, and described what Manchester had been like when she was growing up. The gentleman made us laugh with his sharp sense of humour. After about an hour of chatting, we got up to leave and the gentleman took me to one side. Nodding towards a somewhat stubbled Mr Q, he said "I know he's a foreigner, but if you get a quiet moment, tell him it is possible to buy razors here!"

As for my actual birthday, I was at work on the day itself. By mid morning, a student had been sick on my feet (nerves at having to give a talk, apparently), but thankfully the day improved after that. The students sang happy birthday in my lab class and I received a couple of fantastic presents from my sister and mum. I feel very loved.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Taking my hat off to you (again)

A little while ago, I mentioned that I was knitting a second trilobite hat using this pattern on Knitty, after the first incarnation met with an unfortunate fate during a storm :-(

Trilobite two/too is now complete and ready to be worn on chilly autumnal days.

Here's some time-lapse photography showing my progress...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sizing up Sizergh Castle

Last weekend, Mr Q and I decided to relax after a long and busy week at work by heading up to Sizergh Castle in Cumbria. We had briefly visited once before but hadn't had time to look around the garden, so that's where we spent most of our time.

fantastic foliage in the rock garden
the apple orchard
It was a beautiful, crisp autumn day and after running around on the lawn, an exhilarating game of croquet (which Mr Q won) and a one-sided game of quoits (which I won), we made our way to the tea room to warm up with tea and scones. A perfect day out!

Mr Q making shadows on the lawn
Mr Q winning at croquet

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Six down, six to go

At the start of the year, I challenged myself to complete 12 quilts this year. I'm a little behind schedule, but in my defence it has been a busy year, with more field classes to teach than usual, my parents-in-law visiting for 7 weeks, and a new schedule at work that means I'm having to teach one of my modules twice before the end of the year.

Still I have managed to quilt 4 quilts for charity, and completed 6 quilts that have been lurking in the work-in-progress pile for a little while.

My latest finish is a quilt for a friend's baby girl. I started with some prints from Cloud 9's organic My Happy Garden collection and added a few Kona solids. Then I arranged them in a Trip Around the World design.

Once the top was complete, I had a lot of fun freehand quilting the solid fabrics with swirly heart-shaped leaves, and the prints with stylised flowers. I love how this turned out. It's like springtime condensed into quilt form.

That's number six complete. Time to delve into the work-in-progress pile again.

Friday, 14 September 2012


Our annual holiday took us to Wiltshire this year. Mr Q has always wanted to visit Stonehenge, so with his parents in tow (visiting us from Australia for 7 weeks) we packed up the car and headed south. The traffic was awful but once we arrived in our rented holiday cottage near Devizes all that was forgotten as we settled into our rural idyll.

We had a great week, were lucky with the weather and visited a number of places I hadn't been to since I grew up in Bristol.

Highlights included...


Avebury Stone Circle

Silbury Hill

Westbury White Horse

Stourhead Gardens

Lacock Abbey

Royal Crescent, Bath

Bath Bun, Pump Rooms, Bath

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

What a bind!

I'm taking a little break from exam marking to tell you about the quilting I've managed to get done recently. Sadly, I have not finished my fifth quilt of the year, so I am now behind my target of finishing  a quilt every month, but as you'll see, I should be able to catch up with myself soon!

I finished quilting my Made in Cherry star, now known as "Made in Blueberry". Just the binding to go now.

I have also quilted a small quilt for the Siblings Together project that Lynne at Lilysquilts has organised. The top was sewn by Rhonda and I used the Butterfly Charm pantograph from Willow Leaf Studio. Just the binding to go now!

Finally, I have also been quilting another quilt top for Siblings Together - this one pieced by Katy at I'm a Ginger Monkey. Unfortunately I have had some tension issues and have had to unquilt a big piece of it :-(. Here's the start of take two!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Knit happens

That's right, knit happens. Sometimes at the expense of sewing and quilting.

Recently, I've been working on a couple of small knitting projects. I do like small projects. They are portable, which means I can do something on my daily commute on the train. They are quick, and I really do like instant gratification!

I finished this headband made from the Bamboozled pattern that I found on ravelry. I've knitted it from Donegal Yarns' Aran Tweed and it should keep my ears warm with my hair tied back when I'm on fieldwork. I'll be taking it to Donegal next month - taking it home, as it were!

My next project is a second trilobite hat, since I lost the first in a rainstorm almost as soon as I'd finished it :-( The yarn I've picked out for this is gorgeous - Austermann Alpaca Silk Yarn in a beautiful heathered green shade. My cabling technique has improved since I completed the first ill-fated trilobite hat and I'm happy that I've chosen a smoother yarn to show off the textured trilobite. I'm hoping to get this finished before my upcoming field class next month. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Merrily we quilt along

Earlier in the year, I told you about a couple of quiltalongs that I was taking part in. Since I haven't mentioned those quilts in a little while, I thought a quick progress report might be in order.

First up, the "Made in Cherry" quilt. When I last showed you this, I had just completed piecing the top. That top is now gracing the quilt frame, and I have started quilting it with Patricia Ritter's Whole Lotta Love pantograph. I love how the quilting looks on the linen background.

Secondly, the "Swoon" quilt. You should see some of the Swoon quilts in the Flickr group - they are absolutely stunning. I was persuaded to take part in this quilt along by my good friend Ruth. On Friday, we spent the day together sewing. She was working on her Swoon blocks, while I was cutting sashing strips and putting my top together. Here is the result of my industrious afternoon...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


Or perhaps that should be Four! That's right - I am managing to keep up with my target of finishing 12 quilts in 12 months. Number four is complete and we're not even halfway through April. Woohoo!

I started this quilt a long, long time ago. It was a sample for a class I taught at a quilt shop, based on Ricky Tims' Convergence Quilts. I finished the top in an afternoon, but then it sat unquilted for nine years! I just couldn't decide what to do - embellish it with appliqué? with sparkly threads? with beads? - I just couldn't decide.

In the end, I used a thickish Sulky cotton thread is variegated shades of blue and green that I had on hand. The quilt top had always looked like light filtering through water to me, and I finally decided on the Oodles of Doodles pantograph by Patricia Ritter which reminds me of diving among kelp forests.

And as always, as soon as it was finished, it was requisitioned by Bonnie (aka The Barnacle). Here she is trying to catch fish on one of the prints!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Brighton Rock

After my week of fieldwork, I was ready for a little R & R, so Mr Q and I packed our bags and headed down to Brighton for a few days. My sister had been working down there and wanted to share it with us whilst she still had the keys to a fabulous flat in a modernist block on the sea front. We had a great time...

We walked along the front and admired the stark beauty of an architectural gem - the burnt out West Pier.

We visited the Palace Pier and played silly games like Air Hockey and Dolphin Derby. And we admired Brighton Pavilion from the outside.

For a little culture, we visited the National Trust property, Standen - an Arts & Crafts treasure designed by Philip Webb and decorated by Morris & Co. I loved it! And I am now inspired to use some William Morris wallpapers in a couple of the rooms in our house. I wonder if I can get Mr Q to agree.

the conservatory at Standen

the gardener's cottage at Standen

And then there were retail opportunities, at Quilty Pleasures...

...at Purl...

...and at Utility and Inhouse Space (where the Aussie owners knew Mr Q's hometown). Finally, there was plenty to eat and drink, including a fabulous seafood Italian restaurant in Hove, a North African restaurant, also in Hove, and lots of stops for tea, coffee and a chat.

latte from Small Batch Coffee Company

waiting for brunch at Ethel's Kitchen