A week or so on, and the shingles are thankfully easing up on their effects. Sure, I still have to wear my fleecy pyjama tops because they are SOFT, but as they look quite like casual tops anyway, I don't feel like a social outcast from Cardiff when I go to the supermarket. (For the unaware, there was a 'name and shame' campaign a while ago about undesireables from certain parts of Cardiff going to their supermarkets in their pyjamas and onesies ;-) I am not one of these, honest. Although I do think that in comparison to some of their 'normal' clothes, pyjamas and onesies are probably considerably more modest. )
In the meantime, I have not been sitting around demanding Henry ap Troll peel grapes for me as I disport myself on a chaise longue with the latest novel and a few cocktails. Much as that idea is appealing on a superficial level, 'Idle hands are the Devil's playground' was my Nanna's favourite maxim and sadly I cannot delete that phrase from my memory bank. Now, those of you in the know will know that I use EQ7 to design my quilts and whilst I absolutely adore the software as it's so easy to use, it does, like any software, have a few (thankfully a very few) issues. One of these is that SOME colours in the Bella Solids range and quite a few in the Moda Marbles range, do not come 'true' when on the screen. As I am a bit anal about getting colours absolutely 'right', this means I tend to test all the block which have this problem. So, given I simply was not up to attacking piecing and quilting with my usual energy, I did a couple of such test blocks. These are two from my 'Sparks and Cinders' design, and I am really very happy with the results.
It's also been a busy time on the pussycat front. Both our lovely blue tabby girl Gandi (Narviks Propaganda) and one of our 'home-grown' black tabby girls Mabel (Halubka de Velogny) have had kittens by the large, lovable but very stupid red boy, Andrew (Invicta de Velogny). Here is one of Mabel's boys, who is a real thug!
OKOKOKOKOK, I know it's been a while... but I have had an excuse, and 'O Excuse, thy name is Shingles'. I am feeling VERY sorry for myself just now, as this is the second time I have had it and let's just say I will not be ranking it No 1 on my List of Life Experiences any time soon. The only tiny chinks of silver lining are firstly that it is nowhere near as bad as the first time, and secondly it has not touched my eyes, which would have meant staying in a darkened room.
In three weeks' time I am off to Cornwall again, and frankly it can not come soon enough. Much as I love my home, the experience of keeping it running, ensuring the smaller Troll has calories chundering towards his ever raging hunger, and dealing with the million other small things making up daily life have been issues I Could Have Done Without Just Now.
The biggest good thing about this entire period has been I have got some more designing and pattern making done. Not something to be sneezed at (OR SCRATCHED IN MY CASE)....
Normal service will hopefully be resumed soon!
Regular readers will know I am a bit lazy and I send my quilts, wadding and backings off to my LQS (Local Quilt Shop) to be layered and basted on their longarm machine. In fairness to myself, most of the reason for this is because I ALWAYS seem to get 'back wrinkles' whenever I layer up myself, no matter how many pins I put in or how careful I am: which makes the hours of crawling about on the floor putting the flipping pins in even more resented! For me, the additional cost (which isn't as much as you might think) of this process is WORTH IT, the main issue being I have to get myself organised and make sure I have the tops and backs ready to bring across to the UK with me. It's OK once I get into the rhythm of 'drop off' the ones to be layered and 'pick up' the ones I left last time but I admit it has meant an extra page on my 'To Do' list so I can check I AM actually where I think I am with things hehe.
Anyway, on the latest trip back to the UK it was a fairly equal 'drop off 4, pick up 4' exchange, so I have a fair amount of quilting to do now on my 'big girl' Janome Horizon 7700 (also known as Geraldine for reasons lost in the mists of time). Or I would, were THIS not the case...
Yes, Gauloise and Centi seem to fondly imagine I have been kind enough to get them a comfy, extra-large cat bed...
... and the saddest thing?? I didn't have the heart to turf them off, and instead went to do something else ....
How can I possibly describe the joy the almost-two-weeks-of-retreat gave me? As the weather was not brilliant, I did not have an excuse not to quilt (as if I needed one!) but no matter what the elements threw at me it was just such a pleasure to be able to look out of the window and see THIS
See why I'm so crazy about the place now?
This picture was taken when the sun was shining, but the weather was mostly pretty dire - what do you expect for early February? I really was quite happy about this because it meant I could sit with a crackling log fire, a hot cup of tea and piece away without thinking I should be outside enjoying the scenery. After all, I do go to Port Isaac principally to piece!!
As I got that quilt finished quite quickly I had several days left and so decided to do a rather simpler quilt, the materials for which had been sitting around for a while. I have a theory that 'quilts know their own birthday' and this particular bundle of fabric certainly 'spoke' to me on this occasion! I originally designed it because I had heard a lot about 'South Western colours' but everything which was designed around them seemed very dark. I wanted to create something using that palette but which was a bit lighter and 'sparkly'. Also, because I am quite fascinated by the Clovis settlements in the US - blame my subsidiary studies in anthropology during my first degree for that one! - I was sort of led towards a more 'tribal' feel .
So... this is 'South West Lite'. Although I don't normally use this palette, I'm really happy with the results and I do think it has a bit more of a 'primitive' persona than my usual designs, a bit like cave paintings? Some things do not change, however, because this is another one my son wants to appropriate. If I let him have ALL the quilts he likes, I doubt whether he could get into his room, still less SLEEP!!
It's back to reality now, and I am feeling so much more energised and positive after my 'time off'! I'm also feeling the creative juices stirring so... watch this space....
Things have been a bit quiet here over the last couple of days and this is the reason why. I got 'into the zone' as regards the Ice Crystal quilts, and - after the absolutely necessary things were done - hunkered down and got on with them. So... they are finished in good time to be taken to the UK next week, to be layered up and basted for me by the redoubtable souls at Midsomer Quilting. I will be using a lovely light, bubble - and yes 'icy' backing for both (Northcott Artisan Spirit Shimmer which looks like this - and I can't wait to quilt them, as I'm going to experiment with some Aurifil variegated threads!
Down, Zelda, down... that's a way off and you haven't even ordered the threads yet....
So now it's a question of thinking of packing what I need for my retreat... Oh the choices!
Do I sound excited?? Whatever gave you that idea??
I'm the first to admit I'm not a great housewife.
I know some people really love to clean and tidy. I don't. I'm naturally a clean person, but, equally naturally also, an untidy person, and yes, the two things ARE different! I just don't have 'the knack' of keeping things neat, outside my craft activities, and I decided some time ago that I'm not wasting my time beating myself up about it any more. To me, housework is a soul-destroying, repetitive activity that I could be doing 18 hours a day and it still wouldn't be finished - so why do more than is absolutely necessary when there are so many more creative, exciting things out there which would give both me and the people around me genuine joy? I'm not going to be lying on my deathbed wishing I'd spent more time doing housework, after all!
Cooking is another matter. I could happily spend days at a time at the oven, and indeed often have when 'big things' are happening in terms of celebrations etc. So, don't worry - we might die from the weight of cobwebs falling on us, but we will die well fed from my cooking and warm, wrapped in my quilts!
This is my latest way to avoid doing the housework. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I'm making my Ice Crystal design, but because nothing is ever simple with me, I'm making TWO of them because I double-ordered the fabric. I figured that making double of everything at the same time was probably going to be easier than finishing one completely and starting the next afresh.... I STILL think that is probably true. BUT facing doing 48 pieced sashings I admit is a little daunting, even for me. We all have our limits - what's yours??
I've had a bit of a spurt as regards my quilting this year - not entirely voluntarily as most of it has been the result of having a bug and therefore not being able to do more active stuff. Looking for the silver lining, however, it has meant I've got a couple of things done which have been on the 'to do' list it seems like forever. So it's not all bad!
This is a case in point... keen eyed readers will spot my 'In the Night Garden' design. It came together quite quickly - there are advantages to only using simple techniques when you design! - and I'm really looking forward to quilting it now. Currently it is sitting in a box somewhere in France, though, as I have to post it to the redoubtable ladies at Midsomer Quilting who layer and baste my quilts for me. Now, before anybody starts thinking what a lazy besom I am for getting somebody else to do this for me, I'd make the following points:
1. I AM a lazy quilter - that's why I only use simple techniques when I'm designing. Life's too short and there are too many quilts in my head to spend aeons swearing my way through a time-consuming process. Well, that's my excuse anyway.
2. I have NEVER layered and basted a quilt myself which didn't have a crease at the end of it. As I can get a bit OCD about stuff like that, I find it soul-destroying. The ladies at Midsomer Quilting get perfect results every time, and don't charge very much, comparatively speaking, for doing it. So why not?
3. I did my knees in FOR MONTHS the last time I layered and basted. Suffering for my art is not something I find appealing (see comments about lazy quilting above...
4. My attitude is, I've spent all that time piecing the top, I'll spend just as much time quilting the thing, and then it will - hopefully - last decades. I owe it to the quilt to do the best I can to make it perfect! Also, do I really want to be irritated by my wrinkly backs for that length of time?
So there you go... totally unrepentant ;-)
In the same parcel is another top for the same treatment (picture below) - this is a sort-of commission insofar as it's for a friend who recently had her first grandchild. She paid for the materials, and specified the theme and colours she wanted, and I just got going with the software and sewing machine. I am quite pleased with the result, and I know there's one little baby out there who will love crawling round on this cheerful quilt!
Right... the bug's getting better, but I'm in the zone now and cracking on with making my Ice Crystal quilt top. There's another story behind this, but would you expect anything less from me?? For reasons I won't bore you with, but which have to do with various sizes of Troll distracting me (enough said), I double-ordered the fabric for this design
Ooops....especially as the larger Troll isn't exactly sympathetic about the cost of quilt fabric at the best of times! So... to try to make lemonade from lemons, I'm going to make the two tops at the same time; keep one and try to sell the other. We shall see how this goes... this will be the first time I will have actually sold a top in a hard commercial way, so I'm a bit unsure about the whole thing, truth be told. I'm telling myself that at the very least it will be a learning experience!
My Janome is calling me....tell me all about your 'New Quilting Year' if you have five minutes - it's nice to see what everybody else is up to!
Following on from yesterday's post about how I've been designing, most people who know me know there is usually a story behind any design I do. It might be quite trivial, like just seeing something which 'set me off', or it might be more complicated, like today's tale.
I have lots of friends, most of whom I sadly don't get to see much of because I am in France and most of them are in the UK. SOME of my friends go back literally decades and are actually old school buddies - yes, there are people out there who have stomached my madness for more than 30 years hehehe. One brave soul in particular has recently has taken up diving; I kind of get the impression after a fair bit of armtwisting from his partner , who is a very experienced diver. Now, gentle readers, I confess I am not a very brave person and although I swim well, diving is one activity which gives me palpitations just thinking about it - my attitude being if humans were meant to breathe underwater, we'd have been given gills. Suck that up Jacques Cousteau.
So, although I would never admit this to his face, I am totally awestruck that my friend would even think about putting himself through this experience just to keep his other half happy. Obviously our alma mater gave him the moral fibre it so consumately failed to deliver into my psyche because, dear friends, there is NO WAY in a million years I would do something which scares me shitless just to please Troll... I am on the Becky Sharpe rather than the Miss Melly spectrum when it comes to self-sacrifice, I'm afraid.
Anyway to explain why this convoluted tale is relevant to my designing , my pal has recently been in Tenerife and, en passant, mentioned that he had been night-diving, This was something which wound its way under my skin and gave me an evening of bizarre terrors during the little sleep I got - thanks sweetie! However, not all is lost, and working on the principal you can learn from anything, here is my attempt to make good from bad. As it's largely put together from Moda Marbles, the shades do not run quite true on the PC, but they are all 'jewel colours' in honour of the hours of psychedelic fun to which my subconscious treated me. Entitled 'Night Dive', I might even make one for the silly old queen whose adventures inspired it
Hello everybody, and I hope you all had a great festive season, return to work and are now ready to take on 2015!
I have had a less than fabulous start to the year as The Bug has struck and I've spent much of the last 10 days either in bed or sitting by a log fire and quilting. The Bug does have its positive points, I just wish I could get to do both those things without the accompanying sore throat, screaming headache and shivers... ah well, we never get EVERYTHING we want, do we?
Anyway, my time hasn't been wasted as I have got a sizeable amount of piecing done and I've finished the top for one commission quilt which has been hanging around for far too long, and also the one for my 'In the Night Garden' design. Better pictures will follow, but here's half the pieced top for the latter; I think it's looking good!
I am already SOooooo looking forward to my planned 'retreat' at my favourite escape venue in the world - Port Isaac in Cornwall. This isn't happening until 30th, but the 'don't forget' lists are already up and I have the cutting out done for two tops already (I do have exaggerated expectations of my piecing speed at times hehehe)
I've also taken the opportunity to do some more designs... I will blog tomorrow about the 'Night Dive' one because there's a bit of a story behind that, but for now here's my 'Easy Beach' effort which was inspired by a Design Seeds' palette I fell in love with (right). It's for beginner quilters or the more experienced who would like a quick project. As usual I'll be patterning it as soon as I can!
No, gentle readers, you are not looking at a mutant chicken - THIS was the goose we consumed on Christmas Day. Despite the huge size, I can assure you there was very little left once it was cooked and the Trolls had fallen on it with their usual level of energy. A good time was had by all, and I've even managed to fit in a little quilting in this strange week between Christmas and New Year.
The really cold weather has set in and we've had our first snow of the season; but not on Christmas Day itself, which was unusual. Sitting and quilting, with the cats around me, a crackling fire, Radio 4, and some nice nibbles and drinks, whilst it's snowing outside ranks fairly highly on my list of 'best life experiences', although it lacks the drama and excitement traditionally associated with such ennumerations, I know. I guess that's just ME - much happier, really, at home and being creative than trotting around conquering mountains, running marathons, or taking on the more headline grabbing challenges. I'd be interested to hear what other people think of this, and also what constitutes THEIR best experiences; my guess is the most satisfying ones would usually involve family, friends and cosy times...
A happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year to you all!