CRAFTING THANKS

Many of you may have heard me refer to my ‘American mum’ on my various social media platforms. Debi Pedersen is the real-life mum of Stacey, a very dear friend of mine, and somebody who I’ve grown close to in the 8 years I’ve known her.  She and her husband Jim were kind enough to put us up when my partner and I embarked on a tour of California with Stacey, back in 2008.  We had such a great time and vowed that we would keep in touch.  In the years that followed, we’ve met up in London and they have stayed with us here in Cardiff when they visited to celebrate Stacey’s 30th birthday. They really are awesome people and have done so much to support my growth as a quilter that it was only natural I’d want to repay them in the best way I know how.

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Now, I’ve been known to use the Pedersen’s residence as my own personal post office. If I make a purchase or partake in a de-stash and the seller won’t ship internationally then Debi kindly let’s me have fabric and other notions sent to her for storage.  I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve done this and I inevitably end up with a towering pile of purchases waiting to be collected. I always envisage that one day I’d return to CA and collect it all, but more often than not Debi surprises me and has it posted out.  So thoughtful!  On one of these occasions she included in the package some blueberry-themed fabric she had picked up for herself at a local store, asking if I might be able to make something for her with it. Shamefully, that was about 2 years ago.  Life got in the way and the fabric fell ever-deeper into the stash.  It took a house move and a load of unpacking for it to resurface and prompt me to get a move on. The heart of Debi’s house is her kitchen.  Both her and Jim and amazing cooks and she has such a passion for all things culinary. With that in mind, I decided that a table runner, rather than a quilt, would make for a more fitting gift. Refusing to keep her waiting any longer, I liased with Stacey to get some secret table measurements and set about making!

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The resulting runner makes me smile, not only because I know it’s going to a deserving person, but also beacuse I had such fun making it. As always, I indulged in the fabric pull. Using the blueberry fabrics that Debi had sent as my inspiration, I mixed them with some stash favourites, including some new L’s Modern Garden by Lecien, various Carolyn Friedlander prints and some coordinating Kona solids. The background is Essex linen in steel. I kept the construction simple, making a load of stitch and flip blocks before trimming them down to squares using my trusty Sizzix Big Shot.  Then it was a case of arranging them into a long lightening bolt shape and sewing them all together.  For the quilting, wavy organic lines compliment the angular piecing. I used Aurfil 50wt against an amazing First of Infinity print for the backing.  It had been waiting patiently in the stash for its moment to shine and I think that it has found it! With a text print from the Architextures collection, the runner was done.

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In the weeks since completion, the runner has crossed the Atlantic and arrived safely in the States. I’m pleased to report that Debi and Jim love it and I’m so glad that I’ve finally been able to thank them both in some small way.  I love that a small piece of me is in their home and their hearts and hope that they’ll continue to love and use it for genrations to come.

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Thank you guys!

NGAQB II – MEDALLION ROUND ROBIN

True to my word, I held off from joining anymore swaps for about, oh, I don’t, five minutes! In my defense, the latest thing to lure me with its charms is the second incarnation of the No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee, which this time takes the form of a round-robin-style medallion swap.  Pretty hard to resist, right?

You may remember last year when the hashtag #NGAQB popped up all over Instagram.  It was such a fun and creative experience that there was no way I couldn’t be involved the second time around. This year, John Adams took charge to round-up seven male quilters to partake in what promises to be an awesome swap.  No different to any round robin you’ve seen before, each month will see one quilter add to another’s quilt before sending it on. Fun, fun and more fun!

I’ve spent the last few days pulling fabric and making my centre ‘square’ (a term I apply very loosely). I’ve chosen a saturated palette of deep teals, mustards and red-purples (surprised?) with accents of greys, blacks and beige neutrals.  I went for an improv approach, sewing and slashing with abandon to come up with something I hope the others guys will find inspiring.  I want each future round to reflect the quilter who added it, and instructed them that anything goes!

This first part is en route to Scott, along with a bunch of fabric, some I used and some I didn’t.  I hoping that snippets of the centre block’s fabrics scattered throughout the quilt will add some continuity and bring all the additions together.  The pile is full of Tula Pink, Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander and many more of my favourites. So much great stuff to play with!

As for my first addition, it’s going to be on a Molli Sparklified unicorn. Yes, you heard right. I’ve already got an idea of what I want to do and cannot wait for it to arrive.  Watch this space!  Have any of you experienced a round-robin swap?  Tell me all about it!

BLOGGER’S QUILT FESTIVAL – TOTEM POLE QUILT

For the first time, I’m going to enter a second quilt into the Blogger’s Quilt Festival.  I’ve always admired the quilts in the ROYGBIV category but never had one to share.  Well, that all changed this year with my contribution to the Rainbow Mini Quilt Swap I participated in.

Of all the quilts I’ve made recently, my Totem Pole Quilt has been the most fun.  I had a great time choosing fabrics from my scraps to piece the pattern, which I designed myself. You can read all about this quilt in the original post here.  You know you’re on to a winner when the repetition of piecing paper pieced blocks doesn’t get to you.  I can honestly say that each of these blocks was a joy to make and I’m looking forward to experimenting with a second version some time soon.

You must all know the drill by now, so go forth and browse this and all the other festival categories.  If you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate any votes you want to put my way.  Thank you!

A RAINBOW MINI QUILT SWAP QUILT

Quilt swaps are a great way to become engaged with the online quilting community.  You make friends, learn a thing or two and, at the end of it, come away with a lovingly, hand-made quilt.  You may remember I participated in a second Schnitzel and Boo swap and the Instagram Mini Quilt Swap last year.  This year I’ve signed up to three swaps, with the first being the Rainbow Mini Swap, organised by Kate Basti through Instagram.

If the hashtags for these swap (#rainbowminiswap and #rainbowteamred, green, blue, yellow and for the individual groups) are anything to go by, nothing is more inspiring than a rainbow of fabric made into a quilt.  There are some really amazing quilts to be seen, each unique and beautiful to look at.  Despite the swap name, the minis didn’t have to feature a rainbow of colour but rather take inspiration from it.

I began the process with a quick sketch.  For whatever subliminal reason, I had the image of a totem pole in my head.  I imagined bands of colours across a Joel Dewberry wood grain fabric that I had buried in the stash.  In the end, it turned out to be not quite enough, so I luckily sourced some more from Simply Solids.  I made some more sketches before deciding upon a design which I turned into a paper pieced pattern.  I decided that would be the best way to make the blocks.  With the pattern good to go I began construction.  I wanted to arrange the blocks in colour wheel order, so began with red and ended with pink-red.

I can honestly say that choosing the fabrics was the best part of making this quilt.  I had 16 coloured piles of scraps that would form the bands of the totem poles.  The background would be a mixture of crosshatch, Essex yarn dyed linen and solids to give a scrappy looks.  For the colours I went straight to my favourites; Tula pink, Alison Glass and Carolyn Friedlander, all mixed with an array of Kona solids. I also included some hand-printed fabrics by the talented Karen Lewis of Karen Lewis Textiles. I’ve long admired Karen’s work on Instagram and this was the first time I’d gotten my hands on some of her screen printed cotton.  Her designs are perfect for this sort of project, even in small pieces, and I knew I wanted to include some from the project’s earliest conception.

The quilting stumped me for a long while on this one.  I still didn’t have an idea when I was sat at the machine with the basted quilt on my lap!  In the end I just placed the quilt sandwich under the foot and went for it, ending up with and all over meander which I think brings all the piecing together.  I chose a light cream thread so’s not to distract from the colours of the blocks.  The binding was simple; a small-scale black and white print from my LQS.

This one was a hard one to give away, but I have the pattern at least so I can always make another.  Paper piecing is something I enjoy and I love the challenge of designing my own patterns.  Before I sign off, I have to share this picture of Samuel’s reaction to the quilt.  I already posted this on Instagram but what the hell, it’s funny!  Thanks for visiting!

QUILTING FOR MY COMMUNITY

A few months ago, a close Instagram friend, @theorginaltrash, mentioned to the IG community that her daughter had been invited to represent the UK at the World Scout Jamboree in Japan this August.  It’s an opportunity to participate in cultural exchanges with Scouts from all over the world and undertake community projects to benefit the local area of Yamaguchi City.

We were asked to brainstorm and find ideas to raise money to help fund the trip.  Of course, the online quilting community is a great bunch, so the suggestions soon came flooding in.  Owning to my great affinity for Japan, I wanted to do something extra special to help, so I offered to make a quilt that could then be used as a prize in a raffle or drawing of some kind.  At the time I wasn’t sure what type of quilt it would be, only that it would be quite me!

Earlier this week, with the deadline for the trip fast approaching, I though it best to get moving and make the thing.  I decided upon a mini, not only due to the time constraints I had, but also because I thought it would be easier to send to the eventual winner. I had no plan, only that I wanted something improvisational, with lots of the colours and fabrics that I love.

After a fabric pull comprising of Kona Solids in teal greens, Oakshott cottons in rich, mossy greens, some Tula Pink Acacia, bits of black Essex Yarn Dyed from Robert Kauffman, Carolyn Friedlander and some contrasting purples, I got to work stitching and slicing.  I started with strips, piecing them into chunks before slicing angles into them and sewing them back together so the colours were offset. I added some pieces of the purple fabrics to some of the blocks before sewing them all together.  It was both freeing and fun, and the top came together very quickly.  The quilting was a simple wavy line from one edge to the other; not quite matchstick but enough to give some lovely texture. For binding, I deliberated for a long time before chosing a lime green bee print from Flora and Fauna by Patty Young for Michael Miller Fabrics.  This has been in the stash for a while and you may remember I used another colour way in my second Schnitzel and Boo mini quilt last year.

I’m very pleased with this one and can’t wait to send it on its way to its new owner.  To be in with a chance of winning the quilt, visit the Go Fund me page for all the details of how to donate and to learn more about the fantastic opportunity.  Thanks for visiting!

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – JUNE

Quick, somebody call the police, because I have been robbed…of time!  Where in the world did July go?  Was it something I said?  Please, come back!  I swear I’ll be better, make the most of you and give you the attention you deserve…no…you’re truly gone and you really can’t turn back the clock?  Damn!

I can’t believe that we are over half way through the bee.  I’m disappointed in my self that I’ve fallen behind, but hey, life’s an attention seeker.  This weekend, having cleaned and re-organised the attic a while back, I was ready to jump back on board and tackle some of the guys’ blocks.  technically I’m still behind, with July’s fabric still languishing in a pile, but for now let’s talk about Mr. June, AKA Chris Jones (a wonderful Welsh surname) and his block du mois.

Chris was originally an extra member of the bee but owing to another member’s need to leave stepped up to take June.  Like all the others, he gave the group this FAQ so that we might get to know him better.  Read on!

Do you have any nicknames, or go by any other name?

I used to be heavy into online gaming (Everquest and World of Warcraft) so I have a few character names that people still call me. Typically, Chris is good enough to get my attention. I’ll answer to just about anything you call me though.

Did you go to College? What did you study?

I started college with the expectation that I would get a biology and chemistry degree, and move on to work in a hospital as a phlobotomist or in a research lab. I was three classes shy of my biology degree when I took a psychology class on a dare. That one class changed everything that I had planned for my life; I ended up graduating from college with dual degrees. One in Psychology with an emphasis in Depth and Archetypal psychology, and one in Sociology with an emphasis in Anthropology.

One day I’ll make it back to school and get my Masters in counseling. I want to either be a licensed counselor, or teach psychology and anthropology on a college level.

What do you do now?

Right now I’m a SQL Developer/Data Administrator for an online book company (nope, not that one – not that one either). I’ve been with the company for fourteen years; I started with them two weeks after I graduated college. I started in the Customer Service department, and quickly moved up to CS Manager. I’ve held a position in just about every department within the company, and if I haven’t worked there, I work closely with them to generate reports or import data.

When did you start quilting?

I didn’t actually pick up quilting until I was in college and living with my mom’s family. She has a strong lineage of quilters, and I thought I might enjoy it. I grew up with my grandmother, who was a seamstress. She taught me how to sew, crochet, cross stitch, embroider and many other things.

When I graduated from college, I stopped quilting for a while. I was sucked in to the world of MMORPG, and barely had time for anything else but work. I picked up quilting again at the suggestion of a great friend at work. She introduced me to hand-piecing and I was in love again. I’ve done quite a few small projects, but I’ve yet to actually quit a top yet. I’m hoping that I’ll get to take some valuable time-off soon and try my mom’s new long arm or free motion quilting machines.

What other hobbies do you have?

Outside of sewing/quilting, I love to cook, can, and garden. I just picked up canning this year, and I love it. There’s nothing more awesome than taking the things that you grow and preserving them to eat throughout the year. Though I don’t typically eat it, I love making jam, the stranger the flavour profile, the more fun. So far I’ve made mulberry jam, strawberry balsamic jam, grape jelly, wild berry (strawberry, blueberry, mulberry) and apple butter. I’m trying out recipes for pineapple rum jam and mulled red wine jelly. They will likely be part of the family Christmas presents this year.

Do you have pets?

Yep, I have three furbabies that are the love of my life. A scottie named Finnigan, a Cairn named Ursula and a German Shepherd named Zahara. Ursula and Zahara were both rescues. We’re currently taking Zahara through obedience school right now.

What is your favourite animal?

Definitely a wallaby, with a giraffe coming in a close second. I want to make it to Australia one day so that I can see wallabies bounding around the countryside. (And I promise not to be freaked out by the drop-bears :))

What is your favourite color?

Orange, definitely orange. From pumpkin to safety vest, I love it all.

If you could pick your own name, what would it be?

For a long time I wanted to change my middle name (no, I won’t tell you what it is, but if you guess correctly, I’ll let you know) to Xavier. I’ve always loved that name, and I’m not really sure why.

Which season is best?

Fall will always have a special place in my heart. I love the color of the season. But now, because I really enjoy planning gardens, and digging in the dirt, I’d have to go with spring. The smell of the air right after a spring rain….it’s invigorating.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be?

I’d love to see my grandfather again. He was such an amazing person. He was a short-order cook in the army, a recorded musician that wrote music, played the guitar, banjo and fiddle, and spent the greater portion of his adult life as a taxi driver. His routes ranged from around the block to across the country. He loved life, and never had a cross word for anyone. He, like my grandmother, really taught me how to “be” in this world and I love him for it. I’d love to see him again.

How would you best describe yourself?

I never know what to say with this question. I think the best thing that I can say is that my Meyer’s Briggs personality type is INFP. I’m introverted, usually very quiet and reserved, or in my own world. Feelings and emotions are important to me, and I am usually overflowing with them. I like to daydream, and don’t like strict rules.

If you could be any fictional character,who would it be?

I can’t narrow it down to one. I’d like to think that I’m equal parts Mindy Kaling, Aquaman, and Captain Jack Harkness in a candy-coated Lord John Grey shell.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I probably have too many to mention here. I have a touch of an OCD streak that rears its ugly head from time to time. Right now the biggest thing that bothers me are leaves. I was out in the snow raking them the other day because I couldn’t stand seeing them all over the ground. As far as peeves from others, though, I don’t like people who use others for their benefit. Gets in my craw every time.

Do you have siblings?

Yep, I have a half-brother and a step-sister. Both are grown, though my brother still lives with our parents.

What kind of music interests you?

I will listen to just about any type of music, except modern country. I just can’t get into it. As far as favourites…the sugarier the pop, the better. As of late I’ve been bouncing between Bollywood hits and electronica.

What book/movie/tv show can you not live without?

TV is a guilty pleasure of mine; I watch way too much of it. I’m a card-carrying fandom member for Supernatural and Teen Wolf – can’t miss an episode. I don’t read as much as I should, but I like fantasy, historical fiction and romance books. Bernard Cornwell, Gregory McGuire, and Diana

Chris blogs at adandyman and is Kailichi on Instagram, Pinterest and twitter.

For his month Chris choice a diamond stack block.  I have to admit that when I first saw this I was a little worried.  I mean come on, look at all that bias.  In the end it wasn’t that bad, although my second block came out decidedly better than the first.  Chris had no specific colour requirements, only that the first border around the diamonds be white, other than that, the crayon box was ours to command!  I naturally gravitated towards my colours of teal, mustard and purple, throwing in some favorites such as an Architextures crosshatch and some Tula Acacia Foxfield.  Though I bitched at the beginning, these weren’t that bad to make and I think I’d happily do them again…maybe…with wine…and hard liquor.

The #NGAQB hashtag is blooming now, so be sure to check out all the marvelous male-made things.  Also, I think we’re going to have our first completed quilt top soon.  Mr.January, Sandy, has finally gotten around to making his last few blocks.  Yay!

STASHING #22

I’ve some real beauties for you this week.  A few weeks ago, after a rummage and reordering of the stash, I began to lament on how little of the Architextures collection by Carolyn Friedlander I had left.  The crosshatch prints, also featured in her follow-up collection Botanics, are such useful additions.  They’re great for binding and make awesome backgrounds and negative space.  A little black and some of the text print made up the sum total of my remaining pieces.  This needed rectifying.

So, as I’ve been known to do in the past, a friend and I went all out and hunted some down, and not just stopping at the crosshatch prints either.  I wanted it all, the full house, something I sorely missed out on last time.  I knew the collection was going to be reprinted but had heard rumours that some designs would be left out.  Imagine then my delight as I saw more and more prints popping up for sale!

Now, in the space of a week, the only print I’m missing is the black blue print.  Instagram has been wonderful in allowing me to replenish my stock of this most beloved fabric, owing to all the great and sometimes rare things that pop up on the destash hashtag.  These are the first delivery, which I tore into a few days ago.  A rainbow of crosshatch and those to-die-for text prints.  The rest, which includes the more of the ledger and topography colourways, is due any day now and will be the stars of a feature Sunday Stash.

I’m linking up with Handmade by Mary Emmens for today’s Sunday Stash.  Go look at all the goodies and enter her great giveaway.  I shall imminently, after I’ve petted the Architextures one more time.