Monday, 29 November 2010

Finished and half-finished.

Well, I managed to finish this today in spite of having a rotten cold, sinus pain and no voice. I didn't go into work as I was feeling so bad when I got up but, as often happens, I got to lunchtime and felt a lot better. Now it's evening and feeling awful again! I'm really pleased with this little runner and am now going to make a few coasters to go with it. If I've time I think I'll make one of these for my mother - I'm not going to be in England with them at Christmas so am planning to send a box of German goodies and one of these runners would be a nice addition. I shall play around with coasters tomorrow if I'm feeling better.
And here's the progress on the cross-stitch, which also has to be finished (and framed) before Christmas for my pride's sake because I said it would be...

Off to do some steam inhalation, have a hot shower, a hot toddy and a hot mug of tea (see the temperature theme there?) and see if I can shift stuff in my head. Never had sinus problems in my past and this is a new and painful frustration. Snow outside and more to come. Hope everyone keeps safe in the wintry weather.

Oh, and a message for Nancy if you drop by: thanks for telling me that you upload photos first and then write afterwards - SO much easier. I feel like such an idiot for doing it the other way round, getting into a muddle and not being able to work out that the opposite method would be more sensible. Fixed ideas are a danger at my age!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Super fast quilt!

Every quilt I've made has been a slow process; I'm just not one of those people who can turn out a quilt a week, nor would I want to work at a fast pace all the time. But, having set myself some challenges (three cross-stitch Christmas embroideries and a Christmas quilted table runner) and only five weeks to do them in, I needed the quilted runner to be quite simple. Found a very quick and easy pattern (free) on the Quiltbug website. The actual sewing of this took less time than the cutting and tomorrow I should get it sandwiched and machine-quilted and bound. I love hand-quilting but this is a project which will suit machine quilting better - the middle square looks a bit bare so I will either quilt it with a circular complex feathered wreath or put an applique star there and echo quilt it. Don't know yet but it is a lovely feeling knowing that this was just a few pieces of fabric this morning and is now something pretty and useful. I bought a nice black candle tray yesterday and I think it will look good on here.

Right, back to the embroideries before bedtime.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Wild windy wet weather and cosy sewing

It is unbelievably warm here, so the heavy rain and wild wind are not bothering me, despite being slapped in the face by a large wet leaf - twice! - on the morning dog walk. The trees are so huge that we've been walking through thick multi-coloured carpets. It's actually quite dangerous getting into my car because the parking bay has so many leaves that you can't see where the kerb is, so I've seen several neighbours doing what I do - dip their toes in the leaves until they can feel the road. Why don't we clear them up? Because we pay for landscaping of the community parkland in our rent and the parking bay is out on the street and I suppose none of us want to sweep the public street, especially as it is quite a way from our appartment.

Anyway, Stuart is in Lisbon, enjoying some very sunny business meetings and I'm tucked up cosily doing different bits of sewing. Here's the progress on the Christmas cross-stitch:

I've also done some of the stand-up Santa but at the moment he has half a pink face with no features and looks a bit scary, so I shan't photograph him until he looks a bit more human.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Goodies from Kreativ Welt, Wiesbaden

We had a very good day at the Wiesbaden Craft Fair. It was the first day and very busy - we thought we might have to eat our lunch standing up in the restaurant but did find seats in the end. I think there were a lot of people who had finished lunch but were giving their feet a rest before entering the fray again.

There were lots of stalls I wasn't interested in, scrapbooking, jewellery-making, beading, dried flowers, etc, but there was plenty to attract me, both quilting and cross-stitch. There was a small exhibition of quilts with some real beauties. I hadn't taken my camera so I had to stand and make design notes and descriptions in a small notebook - deciphering these and trying to remember the quilts in my head has taught me a lesson: always take the camera wherever you go. As usual, the ones that attracted me were very traditional patterns but with a little twist.

I could have spent a fortune on embroidery stuff - I've spent so much time quilting over the last few years that I forgot how much I love cross-stitch and was like a child in a sweet shop. The first thing that attracted me was a Christmas pattern but although the stall had loads of individual patterns this one was in a book, which of course I had to buy.

This is a German country-style company and to be honest, there are only a few things I would make from the book but I just had to have this pattern and when you look at the cost of cross-stitch kits, this book still comes out cheaper. Here is a (not very good) photo of the pattern.

I'm not impressed by the fact that part of the stave is missing in the bottom line - not very professional when it is illustrating the book! Also, the position of the notes varies between the pattern graph, this picture and another version in the book done as a wall-hanging. I do think that if you are going to make it look like a piece of music, you might as well get the notes right. I had to play it on the piano and then alter bits where it was wrong! I don't like it done on this oatmeal-coloured linen and the one on display was done on white, so that's what I'm doing.

I actually was tearing my hair out when I began this yesterday because I hadn't realised that this company only use a particular brand of embroidery thread and I only have access to DMC and Anchor. I'm sure you know the feeling that you just MUST start immediately and I did not want to waste time ordering this special brand online and waiting. I should have. Instead, I went shopping and chose colours from Anchor. That took a while. Then the shop didn't have the right thread count linen so I came home frustrated again. I checked all my pieces at home and none were the right count or could be adapted to this pattern (about an hour of experimental adaptations and stitchings told me this). In the end I took the linen from an old Danish sampler kit I had bought years ago and never got around to starting. Right thread count, beautiful quality and white. Only problem is that it wasn't quite big enough. Should I have ordered some online and waited? Yes. Did I? No. I persuaded myself that it is big enough as long as I only have a narrow edge round it when framed and then went ahead. I think it will be alright. Here's the start of the middle part (the wonkiness is because the linen is not quite straight in the frame.)

I also bought a couple of little Christmas cross-stitch kits done on plastic canvas, which I've never used before. The tall Santa is cone-shaped when finished (hence the plastic canvas) and stands up.

The other one I think I'll find a place for on the front door as it has a nice little black 'welcome' hanger.

Then I found a kit that I wanted but there was only one left and that was in someone else's hand... She and her friend both wanted one and had looked all through the kits but couldn't find another. The friend took her second choice and they left. I kept looking around and asked the assistant if they had any more. She said no but then did a double check in a box behindthe counter and found one.

It does look a bit too brown, brown, brown in the photo but the tones are lovely and there is a metallic copper thread in parts of it that make the brickwork look beautiful.
I didn't neglect the quilting stuff but my friend Renate is due to visit this week with lots (and I mean lots) of fabrics that I ordered from the US a while back and I just don't need and cannot justify any more at the moment. But - there's always a 'but', isn't there - I couldn't resist these jelly rolls on one stall which were very good value and I love these colours.

Don't want to unwrap them yet, so here's another view!

And just in case nobody believed me, I have finished Olivia's quilt and here it is, just needing a label on the back.

Oh, and I bought a pretty scarf as well...