Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Blue Wednesday

It doesn't take much to cheer me up. Today has been a blue day and I'm not feeling down!

I noticed these brave pale blue muscari peeping through the ground in a sheltered flower bed in the front garden. I hope the promise of colder weather this week does not kill them off. Today is pretty overcast but at least it isn't raining.

I travelled to see one of my new friends from the blogosphere for coffee this morning. Gina blogs at The Occasional Quilter  and lives just a thirty minute drive away. We have exchanged tweets and comments on each others blogs but never met. Gina has been quilting for a long time and had so many beautiful, multi-coloured quilts to show me. She seems to have covered every technique in the book. I only hope I can be like that in time.  She also makes the most amazing cake. I was totally overwhelmed when she presented me with a pretty blue and white mug rug. She knew I was just learning to do foundation paper piecing and so had used that technique for the block. I had a great time asking questions about quilting and meeting a fellow crafter so the morning flew by. Thank you Gina!

Finally on the blue theme, I have washed and blocked a lacy card for Isobel. It is almost dry and just needs a button and then it is good to go.

Have a great day,


Sunday, 26 January 2014

A rat's nest of WIPs

I'm linking up today with Janine of Rainbow Hare Quilts with an update on my yarn projects.

I've finished the jumper for Isobel and it's looking good. That left me with time on my hands yesterday to dig to the bottom of my knitting bag and see what else was lurking there.

The card in the middle is Playful Stripes by Alana Dakos. The link is to her Ravelry page. I have knitted this before in a larger size for Alexandra and once the garment is washed and blocked it looks gorgeous. Only thing is that there are so many ends to tidy up!

Playful stripes for Alexandra

The bottom photo is the unfinished lacy card for Isobel. The pattern had been started in 2012 for Alexandra then stayed at the bottom of the bag until last October. I pulled it out and continued knitting it, this time for Isobel, but I started the knitting in a different size. I only realised last Thursday and so 'frogged' the lot! Now I'm off again but this time in the right size, age 1-2 years. The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly baby Bamboo. It's 80% bamboo, 20% wool and lovely to knit with. The card has short sleeves and will be lovely over summer dresses.

Last and not least, (can you hear the trumpet fanfare?)… my crochet homework. Please don't laugh at my 2 granny squares….

I'm still working on getting my Ravelry link going in the side bar but this works in the meantime. I only wish I had discovered Ravelry sooner. So many projects not recorded.

Right, well that's it for my Wool on Sundays link, I'm off to cut out the block for my machine piecing class on Thursday and maybe some more Hummingbird blocks.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

My first Hummingbird blocks

Such a busy day today!

I've joined in the 2014 Grow Your Blog Party  run by Vicki of 2 Bags Full and have started to read some new blogs as well as the ones I follow already. I'm going to try to visit 10 new blogs a day and hopefully, maybe, possibly, I'll have a few more followers. I love the 7 I have but would love to meet people all over the world.

The weather here today in Wales is pretty mixed; one minute sunshine but cold, the next blustery showers. Roll on Summer! I spent the morning in the conservatory cutting pieces for my Hummingbird Quilt. It's for Alexandra, my 4 year old granddaughter who is a lover of all things pink and rabbits. I hope this is moving a bit away from baby pink but still girly.

Secret Garden fabrics plus a couple of new solids
The first blocks came together quite easily once I had made sure that the seams met exactly. I love the way the points are (quite) sharp too. I have a Kaffe Fassett fabric that is really bright that might do for the backing but I'll wait until I have done most of the blocks before deciding this time. I have 9 metres of fabric that I chose for my first quilt and none of the 3 were right.

I think it will be really pretty and just right for Alexandra.

I'm rather in awe of all the stylish blogs I've visited today and would welcome any ideas to tidy up this blog and make it more attractive. There is such a lot to learn!

Have a fantastic weekend, no matter what the weather is like,


UPDATE:  I've linked into Celtic Thistle Stitches with the "New to me in 2014 party". I think I'll be linking a lot. So much to learn, so little time. New to me on this post are the foundation paper pieced hummingbird blocks. My first try at FPP. Not too bad if I say so myself!

Now joining the fun at Grow Your Blog Party

Good morning everyone and thank you to Vicki for organising the great 2014 Grow Your Blog Party

I'm really enjoying writing my blog and 'meeting' other bloggers online. Only problem is that I'm so new and only have a few followers so far. I love the ones I have got but would like to meet more patchers, quilters, knitters, sewists and crochet friends online. I love all the inspiration, friendship and support the crafting community give each other.

I am married with two daughters and a lovely step-daughter (but I think of her as my daughter too). They each have 2 adorable children ranging in age from 8years to 11 months. I have knitted forever, took up sewing last year and started patchwork last Autumn. I live on the edge of the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales and just 10 minutes from Cardiff.


  • my first hand-pieced and hand quilted sampler quilt. Basted and in the process of quilting
  • my first machine pieced quilt (currently taking a class for this)
  • Classic Meets Modern QAL
  • Hummingbird quilt for my eldest granddaughter Alexandra, age 4
  • Lacy cardi for Isobel, age 11 months
  • Playful stripes cardi for Isobel, almost finished
My first hand sewn quilt

Fabrics for machine piecing class

Classic Meets Modern QAL

My first blog was published on January 5th this year. That's how new I am. Please help me get started by following through the Grow your Blog Party!

Looking forward to linking up


Friday, 24 January 2014

A very nearly successful trip to Bath with a couple of quilty links

January is such a dismal month so I planned a day trip with Mike to the wonderful city of Bath to see an exhibition at the Holburne Museum. The exhibition was by the artist Joseph Wright of Derby who lived in Bath between 1775 and 1777.
Everything went well until we arrived at the museum to find that the exhibition starts tomorrow, Saturday January 25th and runs until 5th May. I will be returning! We had visited the museum before and seen most of the permanent exhibition but I spotted the following large oil painting of "The Stapleton Family" by Thomas Beach, painted 1789.

In the close up you can see the detail of a pale blue quilted petticoat.
If you are ever in the Holburne try the Garden cafe which is fab. We had very good coffee and florentines to cheer ourselves up.

Then I decided that the Fashion Museum in the Assembly Rooms would be worth seeing. It was only about a twenty minute walk. However when we got there we found most of the costumes were being arranged for a new exhibition starting,… you guessed it… tomorrow! The exhibition is called "Georgians - Dress for Polite Society" and I am sure will be worth a visit. We saw a very small selection of costume and I loved the details on the following.

jacket with Wedgewood medallions, beads, crystals and embroidery

Beautiful cross-stitched Georgian gloves
Embroidered and embellished gloves

Dior cut-off ball gown, silk flowers, pearls and gemstones.

Mike had booked lunch at Allium,  a restaurant in the Abbey Hotel. We had taken the train so decided to have a drink in the ArtBar before lunch. It was meant to be an alcohol free January for us so that was the end of my New Years Resolution. Wonderful martini in a very comfortable bar. The food here is super and I can highly recommend the set lunch menu at £15.95 for 2 courses.

While I was in the hotel reception I picked up a leaflet for a Kaffe Fassett exhibition which is to be held at the fantastic American Museum in Britain from March 22nd-November 2nd 2014. The title of the show is "The colourful world of Kaffe Fassett"  This will be well worth a visit  (as long as you get the date right!) I saw an exhibition of his work in Lampeter last autumn and I will go to this even if it is the same. There was too much to take in on one visit.

There was just time to fit in a visit to Country Threads in Pierrepoint Place. I was looking for some low volume or plain fabrics to tone with my Nel Whatmore Secret Garden fat quarters for the Hummingbird quilt. I bought fat quarters of Stof quilters shadow style in a bright raspberry, an orange spotted fabric, and Moda grunge in Rosemary (a shadowy lime). There is a good selection of notions and threads in this shop too as well as my favourite Kaffe Fassett.

We flopped into our train seats having enjoyed a good day out despite missing our exhibition.
I'm all set to continue on my patchwork this weekend.

Happy sewing,


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Foundation paper piecing

I've been impressed with some of the blogs using this technique and thought I'd try a new technique to me. I came across the Hummingbird block and quilt made by Rita at Red Pepper Quilts and it seemed it would kill two birds with one stone. A new technique for me and using up some scraps from my stash that were left over from making bunting for my granddaughters.    

The instructions were fairly easy to follow and I made a few practice blocks. It seems counter-intuitive to cut pieces larger than needed then trim afterwards but I have to agree the results are pretty good. Accuracy was all in our beginner's class…... 

…...After thinking things over last night I've decided to make a single bed quilt for my eldest granddaughter Alexandra. She's four now and my daughter has ordered her a French style daybed. It should have arrived before Christmas but will be here in February. She is having mostly white bedlinen so I think that a feminine quilt on top would look fab. I have ordered a Nel Whatmore Secret Garden Fat quarter pack in the linen colour way and some Spectrum Plain in latte to tone with it. I like the look of the Secret Garden; feminine but not too much of a baby pink. Pink has been Lexies favourite colour to date. Should that be discouraged? I'm not so sure.

So, waiting for the fabric to arrive…..

I'm sitting in bed enjoying my breakfast this morning. A treat from my dear husband. I can see frost on our neighbour's roof and I'm in no hurry to get up. The joys of retirement - not that I do it much!

Browsing through links on blogs I came across the following post and as I agree so much with Catherine who blogs at Knotted Cotton I am going to join up.
I think I am a bit of a Type A, obsessive personality and when I find a new interest it tends to take over my life; knitting, family history, sewing, quilting and now blogging. 

Crochet class tonight so I'd better have a practice doing a couple of squares and trying to remember all the stitches. Don't want to be the dunce of the class and hold them all up!


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sunday morning with hints of Spring and an almost finish.

What a beautiful start to the day. Not a breath of wind and in the sun it feels quite mild. I decided to take a few photos in the garden to remind me that Spring is not too far ahead.

View at 9am from back garden

Daphne buhloa in bloom

I've decided to link up with Wool on Sundays at Rainbow Hare Quilts this morning. I spent all yesterday hand quilting until my finger tips would stand no more so I decided to see what knitting projects I had forgotten about at the bottom of my basket. I came across this jumper I started knitting for Isobel who is now nearly 11 months.

I had picked up 4 balls of Rowan Cashsoft baby dk in a sale last year and started knitting this in late October. The pattern is a Lace Edged Round neck sweater taken from Baby Bamboo too (346 code B).

I'm not sure why it wasn't finished but it could have had something to do with Christmas. Anyway, all it needed was the neckband and sewing up. I just have to graft the last sleeve on now and block this afternoon.

We live in Vale of Glamorgan but only live 10 minutes from Cardiff city centre. We get the best of both worlds. Beautiful situation and all the amenities of the city too. One of the many attractions of life in Cardiff is the Riverside Farmer's Market held every Sunday morning from 10am to 1pm. Fresh vegetables, meat, cheeses, preserves and the most amazing bread- what more could you ask for? It's an absolute foodie heaven.

Choosing some venison for a pie

The Millenium Stadium

Despite the fact that it feels so mild this morning it is still only 4°. Time to go home and eat the Welsh Cakes with some coffee.

Enjoy your weekend


Thursday, 16 January 2014

Starting a new course in machine piecing

I was so excited to start the machine piecing course today run by Sue from Busy Bees Patchwork It was great to see many of the people who had attended the initial hand sewing course.
The basis of the class is to make a medallion sampler and started today with basics such as rotary cutting and safety aspects as well as checking our machines could sew an accurate ¼" seam.

I had chosen the fabric at the end of last year. Since taking up quilting no trip away is complete without a fabric shopping session and so when my husband decided that we should go to Devon for my 60th birthday in October 2013 I decided that we should also go to visit the Cowslip Workshops in Launceston, Cornwall. We used a satnav (big mistake) and ended up down a rutted single track lane on the wrong side of Newhouse Farm where the shop and cafe are situated. After a phone call we backtracked and eventually found the right entrance to the farm. It was worth it. There is a wonderful fabric shop and studio for courses and a cafe with delicious food. A range of fabrics by Lynette Anderson called Wildflower Wood caught my eye.

Initial fabric selection
The photo is a bit dark as we had such low light levels this morning.
The very dark purple fabric at the bottom of the pile is the backing fabric, Marys Blender no.32034 by Mary Kovas for Windham.  I chose Kona Solid Snow again as the background fabric.

Once I cut the first block though I could not put my finger on why I was not happy with it. I tried various layouts then decided to try a pale grey, Spectrum Plain Slate patchwork fabric, instead of the Kona snow.
I think it works well now as all the prints have some grey in and it provides more of a contrast to the pale cream background of the small prints.

The fabrics with Kona Solid Snow top right

Spectrum Plain slate top right. Decision made and more fabric ordered!

I think I'm going to have to think about a photography course soon. It's so difficult to get the lighting right for the photos at this time of year and I'm a bit of a point and shoot girl really at heart.

Do other people dither about fabric choice like this? I ordered 3 different fabrics for the backing of my first quilt until I was satisfied. Making mistakes with fabric choice and ordering is an expensive business. Will it get easier?? please say Yes!


Update: Final, final fabric choice and layout for first block:

I decided to add in some Oakshott in Monza (the shimmery purple at the top). I think it provides a better contrast.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A little bit of crochet homework and a walk

I'm not doing anything new today on the quilting front so I thought I would post a few photos of my nearest small town, Penarth, in South Wales. We are lucky enough to have a fantastic pier with an Art Deco pavilion which has recently been restored thanks to the efforts of many local people.
The pier was built in 1895 to improve communications with Cardiff and originally had a regular ferry service.
The Pavilion building was designed in 1929. The back of the building is reminiscent of an ocean liner but there are also classical influences too. It has had many uses over the years including concert hall, snooker hall and dance hall but it fell into disrepair.
The building has now been transformed into a modern exhibition space, cinema and cafe. It was opened again to the public in late 2013 and is run by Penarth Arts and Crafts Limited.

Penarth Pier on a cold January morning

Rear of Pavilion building with cafe

Mosaic floor in the entrance hall

This mosaic was designed by David Pritchard

A detail in the mosaic showing Penarth's shipping heritage with poetry from Gillian Clarke,  National Poet of Wales 

Original plasterwork has been retained in the entrance hall

an artwork in the exhibition hall

I'm off to my crochet class tonight with my home work complete. Its meant to be sewn into a corsage but I'm taking it to class like this to have my stitches checked. I feel like I'm eight years old again!

Happy Quilting,


Sunday, 12 January 2014

My first completed machine pieced block

The house is full of the most delicious smell of my marmalade simmering on the stove and the kitchen is steaming up. It's so cold outside today. We've had such a wet but mild winter so far.

I finished my (Polar) Bear Paw block last night for the Classic Meets Modern QAL and I am really pleased with it. It is a complete contrast to my sampler quilt both in colour and I hope in style. Its as modern as I can make it at the moment. I've looked at a few blogs and the possibilities seem endless but I'm going to leave doing improv etc until I have more experience with the actual machine piecing.

I'm hoping the block can be counted as modern because it features mainly solids with a sprinkling of a large modern print and the colour palette is cool and looks modern to me.

My very first machine pieced block
Even though I tried to cut accurately and sewed very slowly it came up nearer to 12" than 12.5". This was the reason I had to email Erin to check that the seam allowance was included. I'll have to see how the next blocks shape up. If they all come out a 12" I don't think there will be a problem but I may need to sew it again if all the rest are more accurate. That all said, I LOVE, love, love it!

So, wherever you are, keep warm, keep dry and have a good day.


My favourite January thing!

I spent the morning preparing Seville oranges to make marmalade to Nigel Slater's recipe from 2009. I had a look at his 2013 recipes but I really wanted a more traditional light marmalade and I have used the 2009 version before. There is something really calming about cutting the peel up. Its all ready now to be cooked tomorrow.

My fabric choice for the Classic Meets Modern QAL

I'm really pleased with the fabrics I chose online from Cottonpatch.  They were pretty close to the colour palette I had used.  

  • Background: Robert Kaufman Kona Solid Snow
  • Solids:     Spectrum Plain Slate, Spectrum Plain Vintage Blue, Robert Kaufman Kona     Artichoke, Classic Blenders 83(dark grey), Wickerweave 11 (dark blue)
  • Patterned fabric: Tula Pink Fabric Salt Water: Sea Stripes, Aqua
  • Backing fabric: Annali, Scribble Lines, White on Light Grey.
The order was ready and I had plenty of time to choose the patterned fabric.  Staff in Cottonpatch are so pleasant and helpful too. It's a great place to browse the beautiful fabrics without being hurried. I had the great pleasure of meeting the winner of the Great British Sewing Bee, Ann Rowley, in the shop too. I recognised her when I went in but was too starstruck to say hello. However we both got to the till at the same time and she commented on my very bright stripy scarf. She said how beautiful the colours were and we chatted for a minute or two.

The first block chosen by Erin was the (Polar) Bears Paw. I spent the afternoon cutting and assembling the block. I was pleased with the result until I realised I had not allowed for the seam allowance when cutting out. 

What to do???? Should I leave it and make the same mistake in all the blocks?  I've emailed Erin to see what she thinks. Even so, for my first attempt at machine piecing it's not too bad, if I say so myself.

Erin got back to me and the seam allowance was included so alls well that ends well!

Friday, 10 January 2014

A visit to the Cottonpatch shop is planned for today

Off to Birmingham today to visit my daughter and her family. Jacob is nearly three and Isobel is one in February.
While I am there I am going to Cottonpatch in Hall Green to pick up the fabric I ordered for the
Classic Meets Modern QAL run by Sew at Home Mummy I was lucky enough to get gift vouchers for Cottonpatch in my Christmas stocking so that covers a lot of the cost.

 I've decided to make blocks mainly with solids. I have been using Design-Seeds for palettes recently when I need some colour inspiration. I came up with a sea urchin inspired palette of soft greys, bluey-greens and artichoke hues with Kona snow for background and a scribble print of white on soft great for the backing. I've also added a slate colour. I'll post the fabric selection on Friday before I start the first block.

I'm not sure how to put the "modern" twist on the blocks. I might buys fat quarter of a modern print or do some fussy cutting. I'm not quite sure what makes a quilt modern. Any ideas? I would love any comments or help.

Happy quilting!


PS. Just want to say thank you to the Help Desk at Blogger who sorted out the code for the Bloglovin button. It wasn't me at all. There was something wrong with the widgets.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Must watch! and some very good news

Just found this link on Quiltville's snips and snippets blog. Fantastic!

Astronomical Block Challenge with Karen Nyberg

Just had some good news too. I attended my first patchwork class at Busy Bees Patchwork in Newport, South Wales last autumn. The beautiful shop was burnt down in an awful fire just before Christmas. I felt devastated, not just for myself but for Sue and Sandra whose life it was. They had worked so hard to build up a successful business and it was the heart of the quilting and crafting community here in South Wales. Sue and Sandra, helped by many friends, ran open days this week in the local community centre to gather information from as many customers as they could. All stock, beautiful fabrics, threads and, above all, records had been lost in the fire. It is wonderful that they have found the strength to do this.
This morning Sue emailed to say that they will be running the beginners machine patchwork class starting next week in the community centre. I can't wait! Please have a look at their blog or website and send them a friendly message. I know it will be appreciated.

Have a great quilting day!


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New skill for 2014

I joined six other newbies last night on a beginners crochet course at Calon Yarns Craft Studios in Cardiff. The course is run by the owner, Lynne, who possibly has the best craft teaching technique I have come across. The shop is light, bright and comfy, with coffee and tea offered and the most wonderful selection of wools and crafty paraphernalia.

It turned out we had a wide variety of skills between us. After introductions, Lynne began with the basics of forming the foundation chain and over the course of two hours we attempted double crochet, half treble, treble and double treble stitches. For most of the time silence reigned as we concentrated on mastering the techniques. I soon found a comfortable way of holding the wool and keeping the tension right (once I had frogged my first tight chain!). I'm looking forward to the rest of the course immensely.

My first attempt at different crochet stitches
I thought that at this point I should look at the various projects on the go at the moment.

  • Hand quilting and binding my Sampler Quilt- ongoing
  • Classic meets Modern QAL.- fabrics ordered and the first Bears Paw block planned for the weekend
  • Key to My Heart quilt using a jellyroll of Road 15 by Sweetwater for Moda
  • Beginners machine patchwork course starting next week.
  • Practising my crochet and possibly attempting a simple corsage this week
  • Finishing 2 cardigans for my 10 month old granddaughter Isobel
My Ravelry name is CathP53 
I'm still trying to figure out how to place buttons on the blog but I will not let it beat me!
Have a great day!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Frustrations and some progress with quilting

Struggling with blogging!  

I hope no-one saw the above sentence which I published by mistake this morning. Still trying to add the Bloglovin button properly but other issues resolved blogwise.

I spent an hour this morning folding the edges of my Sampler quilt in and tacking down. Then I tried multiple distraction techniques in order to put off the dreaded start of hand quilting.

Quilting techniques had been covered in the last lesson of the course I attended at Busy Bee Patchwork in Newport. I had practised for an hour in class on an orphan block with very little success. I could not seem to catch the backing, the thimble kept coming off my middle finger and I felt like I had no hope of ever conquering my demons.

I am determined to make this quilt totally by hand even if it is the last time I do this. I tried a few different marking techniques and decided to use 1/4 in. tape for most of the blocks. I will do some echo quilting around the appliqué shapes with outline quilting of the geometric shapes.

It was as well there was no-one else around for the first hour as I got increasingly annoyed with my attempts. The stitches were now catching the backing but were uneven and too large. I kept referring to my books for tips and eventually I got into a rhythm and my stitching improved. I managed to quilt just about half of one of the 12in. blocks and once the quilting is finished I may return and re-do the first bit.

Quilt top at last session of beginners course

Quilt top after basting

The colours look quite different in the two photos The basted top is nearer to the actual quilt as the photo was taken in the conservatory. I used a daylight lamp as the weather has been so awful today.

I chose Kaffe Fassett fabrics with some Moda Crackle in green for the background. The Kaffe Fassett fabrics are Guinea flower in yellow and Lotus Leaf in antique. On reflection it was not the easiest colour palette to work with for a beginner. In fact it was challenging! Bright colours seem to appeal to me. These fabrics just leapt off the shelf and I could not put them down. I chose a Kaffe Fassett broad stripe for the backing. Fortunately this goes surprisingly well with the top.

Enough for now, time for dinner…...