Saturday, 18 February 2012

happy crappy scrappy

Chopped my hair off this morning. Ha! Looks a bit silly, but feels so much better. First thing Jude said was 'So you going to the hairdressers now to sort it out?' Pregnant women shouldn't really be allowed near sharp scissors in a hair crisis.

Last of the sun-bleached tresses
Jessie was four on Wednesday and has been having great fun with her presents. My parents bought her a keyboard with hundreds of noises on it, so she loves that. We splashed out on a little camera for here which she is thrilled by, though she can't quite figure out that the pictures she takes is what shows on the screen....

She spends a lot of time just randomly pointing at things and clicking the button whilst looking elsewhere!

We've all been horribly ill lately - me especially, like I need anything else to make me grumpier - with a particularly vicious cold which has literally had me by the throat for the last few weeks. I sound quite like a less smiley Mariella Frostrup. I spent the whole of yesterday in bed (thanks Jude) so I feel slightly more human today.

Bought a new (old) car at the weekend. Jude is continuing his happy bachelor tradition of buying crappy old cars and scrapping them a few months later. He can't even remember how many he's been through, whereas I had my trusty Golf for years, though it was decidedly worse for wear by the end with more than a few dents and a mouse living in it - I kid you not.

The quilt is coming along - three squares pieced now:

I spent some time today scratching through my scraps as I was starting to worry about not having enough material.... I think I might have enough after all.

Though now I need to spend a few hours checking through it and ironing so I can see what's actually there. The squares inbetween the ladders will be plain white, but I had originally thought it'd be nice to applique old embroidery scraps onto these:

BUT after frisking the house I can't find the damn stash of old linens I had in mind.

Granny and Grandad are coming down tomorrow to celebrate Jess and Jude's birthdays so we'll all go out for a nice meal somewhere.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend :)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Jacob's Ladder update

Ooooh, I LOVE my hour on my own when both girls are at nursery - it is blissful. I have quickly learnt to ignore absolutely everything that screams for my attention as soon as I walk into the house, from washing up the breakfast things to baskets of laundry waiting to go upstairs or come down. Milly's only in for two mornings a week at the moment, which is a pain as I have to do the journey there and back three times, which divides the whole day into hours between driving.

However, as a result of that little bit of time to myself, I have made good progress on the patchwork:

although I am a bit cross with myself for duplicating a print already by accident: a really silly niggle, as it will hardly show in the end! It was intended to be a different way round but I didn't notice until it was beyond rectifying - I really dislike going backwards. I may have to add some stitching to it at a later date....   English paper piecing is really growing on me, simply because once the hassle of putting the tacked shapes together is done, it can all be bundled up and worked on anywhere, without having to be constantly ironing seams: a winner for juggling handsewing & children!

Some other people's ladders:

Jacob's Ladder traditionally should be a more simple palette of plain white/unbleached cotton with just two shades, usually dark brown triangles and red squares, but I wanted it to look as scrappy as possible, whilst still having some order to it. I didn't quite get this one as balanced as I'd like, I didn't think it all through properly, but again, that's just my perfectionism interfering as usual. It's easy to get tied up in knots over fabric choices: I spend a lot of time squinting to see which are really light enough/dark enough to fit in. The name Jacob's Ladder comes from Genesis 28: 11-22, but it has also been called Stepping Stones, Road to California, Gone to Chicago, Trail of the Covered Wagon and Underground Railroad, all of which obviously refer to journeys with the latter in particular most probably referring to slaves escaping from Kentucky to Canada via Ohio's underground railroad. It's not recorded prior to the American Civil War.

Whilst I'm really enjoying using all these lovely checks and florals, I'm still hankering to release a wilder side of myself and do something a lot more free-form and random: I've yet to work out exactly what this will entail, but it will definitely involve lots of colour and movement and texture. I feel I have to get this old-fashioned stuff out of the way before I can really let myself go off exploring new territory: kind of like learning the fundamentals of drawing and then flying off into abstractism.

Jude rarely thinks of anything to say about my projects apart from well-meant niceties, but he said about this piece that it looked like it had been 'stitched by little elves', which I think is the nicest thing he's ever said.

Twelve more 9-patches to go and then I have to work out how I'm going to do the spaces inbetween...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Busy hands

So here are the first few pieces of the new quilt. 

 I'm trying out English paper piecing for the first time, just to see what difference it makes to the patches. I'm following some brilliant directions by Karen Turner on her blog which make perfect sense, but I just don't 'get' it yet.  I had originally wanted to make stars but couldn't in the end face all the angles, having struggled with a prototype I put together a while ago. So I found this book which as well as providing plenty of detail about quilting in general also has patterns to copy, which is far easier than trying to make them from scratch, and I've decided on Jacob's Ladder, which should be fairly straightforward as it's just squares and a few triangles.

The girls have been busy too, Milly is obsessesed with 'sticking' at the moment - she actually prefers to do the cutting whilst I do the sticking - and has asked to do this nearly every day. She takes little squares of coloured paper I've cut up for her and very very carefully cuts and tears them into tiny pieces which I then glue down. Luckily we both find it quite restful to do!

We've also had some fun painting sessions:

Love this triumphant gesture!

Such good fun getting covered in paint!

Anyhow, back to the sewing :)

Friday, 3 February 2012

marvellous motherhood

It's funny how pregnancy for me seems to be one unfunny fat joke after another: as soon as the nausea subsides, the pelvic girdle pain kicks in closely followed by horrendous insomnia. Add to the blend of raging hormones a good dose of bleeding gums, heartburn and good ole varicose veins and you wonder what the hell women put ourselves through this for. Oh yeah: to spend the rest of our days, feeding, cleaning, clothing, nagging and worrying over the little bundles of joy that result.

My I'm full of the joys of motherhood tonight.

Yet we all had a lovely day in the sun today with very few cross words (read screaming tantrums) between the girls for a change.

Don't get me wrong, I love my girls; they have saved me in so many ways and honestly I feel so absolutely blessed by the miracle of their existence, their beauty and intelligence: they fill me with joy with their funny comments and random kindnesses.

It's bloody hard work though.

A zillion threads!

I wanted to share this lucky charity shop find with you - five boxes of threads all carefully sorted onto plastic widgits for the princely sum of £20! Although that is a phenomenal amount for me to spend on a single purchase I feel it is justified by the sheer glorious quantity of colours I now have for all my future projects.

I've been collecting thread for the last few years, mostly from car boots: usually they are like this, all carefully wrapped round cereal box spindles (fruit n fibre seems a common choice) so now finally I can transfer my tinful of these scraps to

this gorgeous spread, and then finally into their new, carefully organised home, where I'll be able to find and use them when I finally get going on all my future plans :)

I still have this stash as backup for when I get through the boxfuls!

There is something so joyful about such an array of colours. I also love the fact that someone worked so hard to put all of these threads into order and that they've come into my hands and will be cared for in exactly the same way. It represents for me what is missing from my own background; a history of women passing down their skills and knowledge to their children, and what is sadly missing from so many people's lives these days. I guess that is why there always seems to be waves of interest in hand-made goods as people periodically rediscover the value of creating objects with their own hands in this age of mass consumerism.

Happy days!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

First gift for baby nearly complete

Two sunny sunny days make me so happy!!!! It's terribly cold, but the sunshine does me so much good and lovely to be able to get the girls playing outside too after so much rain. Mil can spend hours playing with water in the sunshine.

I haven't posted for a while mainly due to feeling exceedingly tired, but I have plenty to write about - at least I think I do until I sit down and try to access it - so I'll try to get a few posts out in the next few days.

My first proper crochet project is nearing completion: a blanket for baby 3:

Hanging in the hedge, as our clothes line has snapped!

Detail: you can see the joins more clearly here (as well as my belly getting in shot as usual)

Each row was made separately in treble crochet and then they were all sewn together with a seam of double crochet added afterwards. I didn't follow any patterns as I just wanted a bright patchwork effect, and although I am really pleased with it, there are a few things I learnt along the way! The main problem with using such a variety of yarn is trying to match the squares up at the end, as they're all slightly different sizes. Next time I would use a similar weight throughout to help keep the squares in proportion. Also, to keep the seams really loose: these were way too tight, adding even more to the crazy ripple effect!

I could probably ease it all into a better shape by blocking it, but I can't be bothered! I'm quite happy with it as it is, plus I'm eager to get going on the next piece as I would LOVE to make a multicoloured blanket for our bed. Especially now I've learnt (on the final strip of this blanket of course!) how to add in new wool without leaving a zillion scrappy ends hanging out which take FOREVER to work in at the end - yup, I still haven't finished them all, yawn.

I've also added a double crochet border in the same dark blue edging yarn just to tidy it all up, and I am wondering now whether it would be overkill to add a pretty scalloped edge as well... I haven't found a decent tutorial yet, so I wouldn't know where to start, but I guess I could probably figure it out.


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