Monday, 30 August 2010

More swatching

And, a beginning:

School term starts again next Tuesday, whereupon I will be back into routines that allow for regular crafting. I sincerely hope.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


There's been a little knitting-related activity here recently.

This lovely Spindrift yarn arrived from Jamieson's

It's all produced in Shetland, from sheep to ball. I bought it online, and now wonder if the bright blue (bottom right in above photo) may be a little too bright for my purposes. I find colours are not always represented exactly on my screen.

I also did some swatching:

If you think the colours in this swatch are slightly reminiscent of the festive season - you'd be right! I'm trying to plan ahead a little.

More on these planned projects in due course.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Quiet in here...

... isn't it?

I've not had much time for blogging this week, or anything else much, owing to work deadlines.

My anticipated free Saturday was also rather ruined by having to take dh to A&E after a hammock malfunction. No need to worry, as he is only bruised, but he has to take knock-out painkillers now and I seem to have ended up in sole charge of all family members.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Utility sewing

Dh and ds were away last week visiting irish relations. You'd think that would mean lots of crafting time, but actually, I had to work five days, plus dd was still at home with lots of ferry-ing around requirements. Also, I seem to be in-between projects. So, I took the opportunity to catch up on a few necessary sewing tasks.

To tell the truth, I don't love utility sewing and so it does tend to stack up. Still, now I've sewn name tapes in new school uniform, hems on work trousers both new and old, swimming badges on ds's towel - which have been in my work-basket for months - I do feel a sense of relief that nothing else remains on my must-do sewing list. At least for now!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Pins in the garden

I blogged recently about my plan to sew more. This month my plan has not gone quite to, er, plan, as rather than working from recent Sew Hip issues, I ended up sewing a project back from issue 11, which is rather a good one. (The woven quilt was in that issue too.)

Without further ado, I present my August small sewing project - a garden pincushion

I pretty much followed the Sew Hip instructions, but I did add a few felt flowers. The original just had leaves:

I also adorned my version with lovely handmade glass and acrylic flower pins, as shown below. If you like them, you can find them on etsy.

I already own several pin cushions, but perhaps you can't have too many?

ETA: Shared at Tea Rose Home Link Party No. 23.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Nicoise for two

In the quest to use our glut of french beans, I made a variation on salade nicoise yesterday, using fresh tuna steak rather than canned tuna. It turned out rather delicious, so I'll share the method here.

Make some vinaigrette dressing according to your preference. For my version, I use 1 part balsamic to 5 parts olive oil, with a crushed garlic clove, a little black pepper and chopped herbs from the garden:

Hard-boil one egg per person and remove the shell.

Cook some french beans for about 3 mins in boiling water. Drain.

For the tomato and bean salad: I like to make this salad on a plate, just because it looks pretty. Slice a few large tomatoes and arrange on a plate with the cooked green beans. You could add some capers or black olives if you have some. Pour over the dressing. Leave to marinade while you cook the tuna.

For the tuna: brush each tuna steak with a little olive oil and either grill or pan-fry to your liking.

To serve: put each steak on a plate with one shelled hard boiled egg on top, and serve the salad separately for people to help themselves. French bread is good alongside to mop up any spare dressing.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Country-style quilt

I finished this about a week ago, but waited to post about the finished item as it was a gift for my mum and I wanted her to see it first.

I made this from a pattern in Sew Hip issue 11 - woven quilt design by Carolyn Forster.  It was recommended for beginners, as it uses straight-line quilting. I haven't tried free-motion quilting yet - another thing to add to my to-learn list.

Making this quilt involved making 16 9-patch blocks, cutting each block into four, then re-sewing four pieces together to make 16 final blocks, which were then pieced together for the patchwork top. The cutting and re-sewing created this woven effect:

The patterned fabrics are mainly Moda Verna, except for the brown with tiny flowers in the woven sections, which I found in the local Oxfam shop (in England we say charity shops; overseas the expressions are Op Shops or Goodwill, I think).  In total I used about half of a Moda layer cake cut up for the patchwork, two 1-metre lengths of printed fabric for the woven section and 1/2 metre for the binding. I used cotton wadding for the inside layer, and to keep costs down, plain white sheeting for the back and border. (Having now discovered how much the materials for a full-size quilt can cost, I have a different appreciation for their price in the shops.)

Things I liked about this project:
  • The fabric colours, and I think the white border gives a lovely summery feel to the finished item
  • Success in completing my first ever full-size quilt - previously I've only made crib-sized, and it was a real step up to make a double. 
  • I especially loved the magical effect of sewing the binding and watching the quilt metamorphose from something still half-finished, into something really pretty. 

Things I could have done better:
  • In spite of all my efforts to cut accurately (yes, I do have an acrylic patchwork ruler, and a rotary cutter)  not all my patches were quite the same size, so I had some difficulties lining up the pieces.
  • As a result, some of my quilting lines are a little bit wonky. Hopefully I will improve on this with further practice.
Carolyn has another two quilt designs in other issues of Sew Hip and I'm now trying to decide which one to tackle next. I already have all the blue-based Moda Verna fabrics from the Layer Cake, plus half a metre of striped fabric and some more brown and white printed fabric in anticipation.