Sunday, 18 May 2014

Print and pattern

Some time ago, I wrote up instructions for some of the quilts I've designed. Finally, this week, I did something with a couple of those patterns. "Room with a View" and "Accrington Brick" are now available for purchase from my new Craftsy pattern store.
Accrington Brick
Accrington Brick
Room with a View (version 1)
Room with a View (version 1)
Room with a View (version 2)

Sunday, 16 February 2014


In the week that contains Valentine's Day, it seems appropriate to show you the little heart I've been tatting on my daily commute.

The pattern is Small Tatted Heart by Betsy Evans, tatted in size 20 Plum Tickled hand-dyed thread by Lady Shuttle Maker.

I hope you are all surrounded by love, from family, friends, pets, significant others.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A long time ago, in a faraway land...

Let me tell you a story.... A long time ago, in a faraway land, I started a quilt.

The year was 2000, and I was about to leave Oregon and return to the UK permanently, having spent three years working as a post-doc at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. That's right, I was moonlighting as a marine biologist! I'd been quilting for a few years, and thought that as fabric prices in the States were so much more reasonable than the UK, I could buy all the fabrics I needed for a large bed quilt that would remind me of my time on the Oregon coast.

So one weekend, I headed south to Quilter's Corner in Port Orford. It was one of my favourite stores, with a huge selection of pretty florals perfect for colourwash and watercolour style quilts. I was armed with my copy of the Colorwash Irish Chain pattern by Heatherworks, and the idea that I wanted fabrics that would remind me of Oregon. After an hour or so of deliberation, I picked out the perfect range of watery blues and greens, many with a Japanese type vibe.

Fast forward a couple of months, and the finished quilt top was pinned on the wall of my living room in Edinburgh, where I was working on a second post-doc. It had an ephemeral beauty that I thought would be perfect on my bed. But then I stalled. I just couldn't decide how to quilt it, and although I had successfully quilted a number of king sized quilts on my domestic sewing machine, I was really worried that I would ruin it. I came up with quilting plan after quilting plan. I even considered hand quilting it, and made a cushion cover to develop my ideas.

hand quilted rose and trellis in a north country quilting style

As I'd contemplated the quilt top over the years, my mind had often drifted to a haiku by Basho: "Spring rain - under the trees a crystal stream" and I realised that I wanted a natural watery or leafy design for the quilting. Last month, I finally overcame my nerves and quilted it in a freehand large leafy vine pattern, and thankfully I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

And at the weekend, on the first rainless day for weeks, Mr Q and I headed out to the park to take some photos.

The twist in the tale is that while I still love this quilt, the colours I want in my house have changed, and I know that this quilt won't be used very much by us. So, I've decided to pass it on to my PhD student who successfully defended her thesis last month. I hope she will enjoy it.

Fresh Poppy Design

Linking up to Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Small steps

Father Christmas arrived a little late in our house. In fact, he finally delivered my present from Mr Q on January 2nd (a.k.a. our wedding anniversary). I'm so delighted with what he brought - a 1955 Singer Featherweight 222K.

Isn't it beautiful? I've wanted one of these since I first learned of their existence 10 or 15 years ago, but there have always been more pressing things to spend money on, like replacement windows or central heating. I was thrilled to receive this - Mr Q had done a lot of research and ended up buying the exact model that I would have bought for myself. I am a very, very lucky girl.

This machine, now known as Freda, will get a lot of use. It will be perfect for taking to sewing days of the quilting group I belong to. It is perfect for patchwork and is small and portable. I've already sewn some blocks together and also pieced some binding strips for the first quilt I plan to finish this year.

Speaking of finishing - I didn't manage to do too much of that last year. This year I plan to concentrate on process rather than progress. I figure that if I sew, stitch, knit or tat a little everyday, things will end up getting finished, almost by accident. I think it's working, we are eight days into the new year, and I have managed seven sewing sessions of at least 15 minutes each. Tonight I will be sitting down to start hand sewing the binding on a quilt. Expect to hear about my first finish soon.