Wednesday 12 June 2013

a rather random catch-up

Been a while huh?

I've been slowly making things inbetween children things and the endless moving of stuff round the house from one place to another in some sort of effort of tidying which seems futile at best. This is the latest piece, which I'm pleased with: I wanted to call it something like sunshine dancing through the flowers but that seemed a bit too silly. It's definitely a joyful, happy piece though!

This is a poorly photographed pic of another birthday gift I recently made which again, was fun to do, and I've sort of adopted it as a business logo for my yet-to-be-a-reality ChloeQuilts project. More on that another time.

Lots has been slowly going on. The girls are growing fast and summer has all-too-briefly shown her colours and today we are back to rain.

Tula is doing brilliantly and I've been having fun catching photos of her with my new toy in the pauses between walking around with her endlessly...

The biggest news however is that unexpectedly I have found myself pregnant with number four. As Tula has her rare genetic condition, this poses some questions regarding this newest little creation. Yesterday I had chorionic villus sampling, an invasive test that is performed between ten and twelve weeks antenatally, to determine the DNA of the baby. Luckily, the placenta was well placed so the consultant was able to access it easily and take some of it to be tested. The whole process took about ten minutes and was uncomfortable rather than painful. I feel OK, just a bit cautious with my body and Jude did everything for me yesterday, which was fantastic and I forced myself to properly rest and take lots of Arnica. However it has been back to normal today and thankfully I still feel fine. It usually takes 48 hours to fully recover. There is between 1-2% chance of miscarriage with this procedure, although I was assured that the hospital I was in was proudly 10% less chance than this - my maths not being great I reckon that means like .9-1.9% but that is kind of gibberish to me. Small, anyhow, but there nonetheless.

Obviously most people who have this test then have to make a decision based upon the results as to whether to continue with the pregnancy. I am confident that whatever we do will be right for our family, but this is not an easy time, and we will still have to wait up to a month for the full results to come through.

This is my very favourite photo taken so far with my camera: it reminds me of everything I love about photography; the colours, the familiar object made unfamiliar by canny composition - due to luck more than skill I have to say, but then most of my best shots have always been like that.

In the meantime, I am very slowly preparing for my birthday party in a couple of weeks' time, a Mad Hatter's Tea Party to celebrate my 39½ unBirthday (my real birthday is in winter - definitely not the time for a garden party!) which will be great fun, but right now feels like more work than I can really handle. I'll post again with my party creations thus far. Come back sunshine!

Enjoy your week xxx

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Nearly finished

The quilting is done and I'm just finishing up the stitching of the border. The first quilt I made 2ish years ago, I bound by just folding the back over the front edge and machine stitching all around, mitring the corners nicely, but this time I decided to follow the excellent instructions I found on the Silly BooDilly's blog for facing a quilt. Facing just means that the binding doesn't show on the front, which I think works well for the Sunshine Quilt, as having another pattern on the front would have been a bit too much. I can see that it would be brilliant for small art quilts where you don't want a border to show.

I used a pure cotton batting which I found in the local art shop, but it's incredibly thin. It's nice that the whole quilt is 100% cotton, but it would have been great if it had a bit more loft. Perhaps I should have doubled it up. I was tempted to use the super-special 100% wool heirloom batting I bought a while back for the ongoing hand-pieced Jacob's Ladder but resisted!

As usual my biggest problem has been making all my lines straight! No matter how hard I try, they just won't stop wriggling about. So I think I have to just accept that I am a natural-born wriggler and leave it at that. At least until I have a better machine/proper table to work on rather than an old plywood door balanced on drawers which bounces as I stitch... ho hum.... Oh yes, the other big problem I encountered again with this quilt was keeping the bottom layer from getting rucked up when all sandwiched together. Instead of basting the whole thing before starting to quilt, I used safety pins this time to hold everything together,  but every place that was held seemed to pinch up as I was sewing. I think the answer is mainly just to keep practicing, as the more I worked on it, the easier it became to hold the material flat and away from the needle, but I still can't work out what the best way is to keep the layers together at the beginning.

So all I have left to do is finish up the hand-sewing of the border to the back of the quilt and it's all done. I am so pleased with this quilt, I can't stop gazing at it and I am ITCHING to get going on the next one.... but I have neglected Jude and girls for long enough so it'll have to wait! I'm thinking I might make a smaller 'arty' quilt for my sister whose birthday is fast approaching.

Meantime, preparations are beginning for Jessie's birthday.....

Hope you're having a lovely week xx

Friday 8 February 2013


A finished quilt top (despite promising myself not to start anything new till the damn blanket's finished - gah!) This is the Sunshine Quilt, which I've promised to Milly, as she's next in line for one despite it's huge size. Also finished the back for it as well, so now I just need to go and buy the middle!! And I've decided to quilt it with simple diagonal rows, so hopefully I'll get it finished pretty quickly. 

We all went to Jessie's school this afternoon to see her receive a WOW (Worker of the Week) award which she is very proud of :-D The certificates are handed out every Friday to those children who have excelled in some way during that week and this is Jess's third. Her teacher said that she has been particularly impressed with Jess this week, and it's great that they are encouraging the kids to value positive attributes like kindness and helpfulness along with the usual academic stuff. Of course it vanishes as soon as she's back home with Milly...... bicker, bicker bicker!! Poor Jude, having to put up with all of us girls! 

On a slightly gloomier note, Jude's back home as his great new job seems to have fizzled out. Long story but basically the company he's been working for seem to be incapable of running their business effectively, and have lost a couple of jobs which he was meant to have been working on - and to cap it off, haven't made any effort to communicate with him about it. He's very depressed to be back at square one, signing on, when he thought that this was going to be good for years. I'm trying to encourage him to look at this time positively, to get things done in the allotment, but he is very down.

So, we're getting through the days as best we can. Brighter news is that the latest hen in our flock, Lottie, found wandering on our track last week, is settling in well with the others - she's the pretty Rhode Red (I think) with the red/orange head and neck above. She's living in the greenhouse until the other girls get a bit more used to her, and she's already given us a few eggs, which I turned into fairy cakes for Jess to take to school  -  must make more this weekend for us!!

I've realised that I'm going to be 40 this year, which was quite a shock, as I don't think of myself as being a proper adult, but 40 seems pretty seriously grown-up so I guess I have to accept it now. So anyway, as my birthday will be in deepest darkest winter I've decided that I'm going to go all Queenie and have TWO birthdays this year and celebrate in style with a Mad Hatter's Tea Party in June!!! Yay!! And invite all my far-flung friends to come and push me over the hill. I've already started collecting china for it....... any excuse for more pretty old china teacups!! You can hear Jude sighing in the background I'm sure. Can you believe he threw not one, but TWO disco balls into a skip during the last job he did, clearing out an old bar.... I still haven't forgiven him. Not just for not recycling them on Freecycle, but not bringing them home for me!!!!

Here are the other two, chillin' on the sofa together...

Back to the knitting.....

Have a lovely weekend!!


Friday 1 February 2013

Sunshine Quilt

It's kinda blurry, but you get the idea! Still some cutting to do :-) And look! That's real sunlight on the floor!!!

Well another quilt is underway... I couldn't resist my colourful cotton scraps any longer! I have been saving these for some years now, all of them are old clothes or scraps I've been given or bought at car boots or charity shops. I finally tipped the whole stack out and started cutting up all the clothes that until now I'd still been dithering about whether to keep intact or not. Frankly the chances of re-making them into something wearable or trying to squeeze into them when the weather warms up are slim to say the least, as I no longer am ;-)

At first I thought I wanted to have little four-patches inbetween the larger squares, but (and this is the great thing about being able to lay the whole scheme out) once I could see the big picture it just looked way too much, even for me! And I would love to have stuck to my original idea of it being completely rainbow coloured, but that would have meant going out and buying fabric specifically for it, which goes against my ethos of just using scrap. Mind you, I had to go to Tavistock the other day and have to admit that the lovely Spring green was a skirt I bought just for this project! I couldn't resist the colour, and actually I think the whole thing would have had a completely different feel without it. I seem to buy an awful lot of pink and purple....

I'm still undecided as to how to actually put the whole thing together. I was very inspired by a raggy quilt I saw recently which had each square hand-quilted with a simple cross before being sewn together. I am going to have to bite the bullet at some point though and learn how to machine-quilt OUT of the ditch which, with such square pieces inevitably means curves (which I naturally do when I'm trying to make straight lines, but have a morbid fear of trying to do deliberately!!)

Along with the newly blooming snowdrops, we found a little feathered friend wandering on our track who we've persuaded to come and stay with us... I'm guessing some hard-hearted person decided they no longer wanted to keep a chicken and decided to release her into the wild. Luckily we have plenty of space for another hen in our mis-matched flock. Poor thing was starving. I think she might be called Lottie. She's very beautiful. 

I am very pleased that Spring has finally started to visit us at last in rain-soaked Cornwall even if it means I have to abandon my indoor pursuits for some long-awaited hard digging and weeding in the allotment! 

Happy Imbolc to you all (read more about this lovely pagan festival here)
Here's to Spring and sunshine in February :-)

Thursday 17 January 2013


So happy to find plants quietly flourishing in the allotment at this time of the year. Quince flowering at the top, then an unknown plant Freecycled to me a couple of years ago flowering for the first time and I've included the Bronze Fennel too, just because it's lovely. All those pretty feathery fronds sprouting from the base of the dead stalks. At some point I'm looking forward to getting out there and having a good clear out of all the winter debris and seeing what other gems are lurking in there.

Monday 14 January 2013


Yes! We finally had some sunny days at last.... We made the most of it, spent a lot of Sunday at the beach with all the other smiley folk and their dogs liberated from their rained-in indoors lives... Jess had her first go on a proper bike without stabilisers which I'd picked up a few weeks back on Freecycle and was full of her achievement! Milly also had fun scooting about on the little bike outside for a change (she normally cycles through the house). And I spent a good hour knitting in the sun while Tula snoozed in the car. Win win! 

A stray ray of sun striking my heart!
I'm finally at the stage of sewing the long strips of blanket together using mattress stitch. It's a very slow process so I'm glad I still have a little knitting left to do for when the novelty has worn off. 

I'm quite pleased with my progress so far; I don't mind the odd wobble, it's part of the joy of handmade, after all! It is a little frustrating that so much of the blanket is knitted purlwise because it is recommended that instead of picking up two stitches at a time from each side (as you would for a knitted side) it's best to pick every row, so obviously it will take twice as long! Still aiming for June...

And on a slightly random note, I was admiring this jar of macaroni in my larder the other day and wondering whether it might turn into something quilty... I love all those circles!

Have a good week! xx


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