Wednesday, 25 February 2015

New to Me in February

Welcome to another New to Me link party, where we congratulate and commiserate on the trials and tribulations of attempting the unknown :)

My New to Me's this month are all about the equipment,

First up, Katy's Camera Challenge meant trying New to Me settings on my fancypants camera. Landscape shots will never be the same again, and anything that moves now is fair game for the sports mode :)

Next up, another piece of fancypants equipment, the Stitch Regulator on my new sewing machine. I was told when I bought the machine that this little beauty wouldn't revolutionise my FMQ'ing, but I think they were lying. It might not revolutionise my quilting but it has definitely improved my confidence in my ability and that is good enough for me :)

My final piece of equipment that was New to Me this month, were these wonderful curved applique scissors from Sew Hot, who just happens to be another of the lovely sponsors of our Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew giveaway prizes.

These scissors are the real deal, they really grip the fabric so that you can cut really closely up to the stitching, which made such a difference when I used them on this block.

I only wished that I had bought them sooner, it would have made this block a whole lot simpler, although it wouldn't have changed the need for the border when I sliced off an extra inch by mistake!

So that's my New to Me this month, now it is your turn to share all the fascinating things that you have been up to in February. As ever please help to spread the word by linking back to this post in your post and/or adding the blog button to your sidebar.

Check out the other links too and, maybe, leave an encouraging comment along the way. The emphasis of this link party is to celebrate the trying of something new, whether it works out exactly as planned or not, so a little encouragement here and there would not go amiss! 

The link will remain open until 23.59GMT on February 28th, so you have some time to try something new and link up and join the party :)

Monday, 23 February 2015

Scenery and Scandal

On a rare sunny day in the North East, we visited the grounds of a local estate that was once home to the players in a celebrated scandal.

Gibside Hall

Gibside Hall must have been magnificent in it's heyday, but fell into disrepair when the Bowes-Lyon family scaled back their lavish estates in the 1920's. Many of the fittings from the Hall were transferred to Glamis Castle, childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Gibside Bath House

It is another female resident of Gibside Hall, however, who featured in the celebrated scandal. Mary Bowes, who became Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne on her first marriage, was the wealthiest heiress in Great Britain, when her father died when she was 11 years old.

Her disastrous second marriage is the subject of the book, Wedlock by Wendy Moore, who describes Mary's second husband as "Georgian Britain's worst husband". Mind you, Mary, who was pregnant with a child who was neither by her first or second husband at the time of the second marriage was no paragon of virtue either :)

Liberty Monument

The Liberty Monument above was built in Mary's time at the Hall, so would have seen some very interesting comings and goings in its time :)

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew - the bobble edition

Welcome to another month of the Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party!

This month, the Link Party is hosted by the very talented Pam at Threading My Way, as well as posting her own tutorials Pam also hosts, at the last count, 37 (!) ongoing link parties with themes that range from Blog Tips to Swimwear. If you haven't come across Pam' s blog before you should definitely check it out but beware those links are addictive :)

I am delighted to welcome another new Giveaway sponsor to the Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party this month too.

This lovely selection of Cotton vintage ribbons from Sarah at Crafty Trimmings will be winging its way to one lucky linker, when the random draw is made at 24.00 GMT on February 28th.

Crafty Trimmings 

So, if you have been busy crafting a Christmas or Holiday-themed project this month and want to be in with a chance of winning these great ribbons for your next Christmas project, head on over to link up your projects here

As ever a big thank you to all of our lovely sponsors who have generously supported the Link Party by providing such great giveaway prizes. 

Crafty Trimmings

Logo Sew Hot

Plush Addict Logo

Quilting Fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop
My own Christmas crafting includes yet another lovely bit of haberdashery from Crafty Trimmings as it happens.

When I saw this variegated bobble trim on the Crafty Trimmings website I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

Ages ago, in an Instagram fabric destash, I bought some turquoise and black voile with the intention of making an infinity scarf for my daughter-in-law, but never got around to it. I had also seen somewhere too a bobble-trimmed Infinity Scarf, so knew that this bobble trim would be ideal for the voile already in my stash. It was beginning to sound like a plan :)

With the addition of black brushed cotton from Plush Addict, another of our lovely giveaway sponsors, I was all set to go.

I used this pattern from Pink Chalk fabrics for the scarf and added the bobble trim along one long edge before joining the front and back pieces together. Aside from the obligatory mistake (stitching the pieces together the wrong way round! ) the whole thing went together really quickly.
Bobble Infinity Scarf

The brushed cotton will be lovely and warm I hope and the bobble trim adds a bit of fun.

I have enough of the voile and brushed cotton left to make another scarf, and might just have bought some black bobble trim from Crafty Trimmings too :)

So, another Christmas make ready to put away for December, now it is your turn to show and tell over at Threading My Way

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Camera Challenge - the sporting edition!

The opportunity to use the sports mode on my camera at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh for a Six Nations Rugby game was too good to pass up.

The game between Scotland and Wales was much too tense for me to concentrate on taking photos during it. Sadly the result didn't go Scotland's way (no gloating there Catrin!) but I did get some photos taken before the nerves kicked in :)

Marching Band Murrayfield
Marching Band pre-match entertainment in sports mode.

Marching Band Murrayfield Stadium
Marching Band in full auto mode

The pre-match entertainment also included fireworks, which I attempted to get a photo of

but I was so startled by the bang that I missed the shot completely!

I couldn't miss these strange fellows though

Welsh sheep are bigger than I thought :)

Linking up to

Littlest Thistle Camera Challenge 2015

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Camera Challenge

When we returned to the UK from our stint in Latvia I treated myself to a fancy DSLR camera, and since then I have been on a couple of training days to try and learn how to get the most out of the fancy kit. I am still a long way from being comfortable with the camera and taking the kind of photos that I would really like to be able to.

So, you can imagine how pleased I was when Katy announced her monthly Camera Challenge for the photographically challenged!

This month our challenge was to get away from the full auto settings where the human behind the camera is simply required to point and shoot, to select and use the landscape, portrait and sport settings in the appropriate situation.

So, I took myself off to the coast and started snapping.

Unfortunately I didn't read the instructions of the challenge properly and discovered afterwards that we were supposed to take a photo in full auto mode and then the same photo in one of the three settings!

Camera Challenge Scene 2

A lovely, sunny afternoon found me heading out to Hadrian's Wall, for some, hopefully, appropriate landscapes. Sadly, by the time we reached the Roman site the sun had been left behind :(

The view from Brocolitia Roman Fort taken in full auto mode

The same view in landscape mode.

The Fort is pretty desolate at the best of times, but on a grey day in February I feel sorry for any poor Roman who found himself patrolling the wall and thinking of the glorious Italian weather that he had left behind :)

The only contenders for portrait shots on the day were the sheep grazing on the other side of the road, but they weren't too keen to have their portraits taken, so plan B was called for.

Our son and daughter-in-law's rabbit is always happy to perform for food, especially when it is on offer outside of his regular meal time :)

The above is taken in full auto.

And the same in portrait.

I did entertain notions of taking action shots of him in sport mode, but they didn't quite work out as planned.

We are heading off to Murrayfield, Edinburgh to, hopefully, watch Scotland beat Wales (sorry Catrin!) at rugby, so maybe I will get some suitable sports shots there. I have no idea where our seats are in the stadium, so you may just have to imagine that the dots in the photos are players :)

Linking up to 

Littlest Thistle Camera Challenge 2015

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A quilting we will go!

Yay! I have finally got to the stage of quilting my Quilt Group Sampler quilt. I am only about 3 months behind everyone else, but we will gloss over that for now :)

We are using Quilt As You Go for this quilt, which is also the technique used in my first ever quilt class several years ago. If I tell you that I have 24 blocks backed, basted and nearly all quilted sitting in my cupboard from that class you will understand why I am rather hesitant about this whole process. Part of the reason that those blocks have gathered dust for so long is because I have never got around to finishing the last block, a folded star block. So if I also tell you that I am not happy with the Stained Glass window block that I made for the Quilt Group Sampler and intend to redo it, you can probably see where history might be repeating itself!

However, I am heading off to QG today so with any luck that Stained Glass window block will be redone to my satisfaction and we might actually see a finished quilt in the not too distant future. Don't hold your breath while you are waiting though :)

HQ Sampler Block 1

First up and a chance to have a go with the walking foot on the Bernina, this Trip Around the World block, which went surprisingly well.

Next up, this Ohio Star Block and a chance to see if the lights on the Bernina are as good as they claim. I used a Hera Marker to mark out the lines for the star quilting and I normally have real trouble seeing the marked lines under the sewing machine lights, but I am pleased to say that the Bernina lights lived up to the claims and I could see the lines no problem!

HQ Sampler Block 3

Finally, the Celtic Knotwork block, which didn't originally have a border but quickly had one added when I sliced down the wrong side of the block when squaring up! I used the stitch in the ditch foot to quilt around the border, but I definitely need to practise more with that. It seemed that the ditch guide and the needle were not exactly in alignment as the stitching was noticeable even although the ditch guide hugged the seams. Perhaps another read of the manual is called for :)

So, three down six more to go and then I have to tangle with QAYG sashing!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Maths Challenge

I would never claim to be brilliant at Maths, but I have always managed to get by but Quilt Maths really causes my brain to fizz. Those pesky 1/4" seams cause me no end of problems.

Unintentionally I set myself a Maths Challenge this month when I decided that I would make not two as requested, but three Churn Dash Blocks for this month's Queen Bee in the Fat Stash Brit Bee

Diane sent us a FQ of purple fabric with instructions for a 12.5" Churn Dash block and a request to create different centres for the blocks. So far, so good.

For the first block, I fussy cut a vintage lady for the centre of the block.

FSBBee Block Feb 1

No Maths Challenge there!

The second block was, however, a different story. I decided that I needed to be a bit more creative for this block.

Churn Dash Centre

This is not, as you might think, a second fussy-cut Churn Dash block, it is in fact

FSBBee Block Feb 2

a Churn Dash within a Churn Dash, and that's where the Maths Challenge came in.

As you can see, I miscalculated a bit and ended up with an even smaller mini Churn Dash than I needed, so had to add a border to the centre block. Those titchy pieces were hard enough to piece, but I was definitely kicking myself when I discovered that they were even smaller than they needed to be!

One of these days I am going to get my head around the Maths involved with 1/4" seams and when I do piecing blocks of all shapes and sizes is suddenly going to seem so much easier :)

Another two Bee blocks done and dusted and we are not even halfway through the month yet, there is definitely something wrong somewhere!

Linking up to

Quilter in the Closet   
Fresh Poppy Design

Friday, 6 February 2015

Potteresque Valentine

At the January meeting of my Embroiderers Guild we were asked to bring along our oldest WIP. To my surprise my probably 15-year old cross stitch project was a mere baby compared to some of the other projects there :) 40 years old was the oldest project on show, although it is probably as well that a cumulative total wasn't taken as I might not have been feeling so smug then!

Whilst I didn't make much progress on the cross-stitch I did get thinking about using up some of the orphan blocks and random pieces of stitching that have been clogging up my WIP basket for a while.

I tested this Harry Potter themed embroidery pattern for Rebecca at Sew Festive Handmade a long time ago.

 At the time I had no idea what to do with the finished embroidery so it was put bag in the plastic bag and joined the numerous other WIP's in the sewing cupboard.

With Valentine's Day on the horizon though, it seemed like the ideal time to liberate this from the dark confines of the cupboard.

The addition of 2.5" strips of suitably shimmery, wintry tree fabric later and I was ready to tackle some FMQ'ing on my ritzy Bernina with the help of this nifty piece of kit.

 Naturally, meandering hearts were the order of the day for quilting :)

I was impressed by the difference that the Stitch Regulator made to my FMQ'ing, the stitching is much more regular than I have ever achieved before, so I am definitely a convert.

And here is the final embroidered and quilted cushion! Another WIP liberated :)

If you fancy trying your hand at a Potteresque Valentine too, Rebecca has several other Harry Potter themed embroideries in her  Craftsy Pattern Store

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Craft it Forward

Ages ago, so long ago that I had forgotten all about it, I signed up to receive a Craft it Forward gift from Sarah, who blogs at Silly Banana Sewing

So you can imagine my surprise when I received this beautiful bag in the post!

Isn't it just adorable? It has to be one of the nicest surprise packages I have ever received.

So,  now it is my turn to Craft it Forward and here is how it works.

I promise to send a handcrafted gift within the next 365 days to the first 3 bloggers who comment on this post. All you have to do in return is make the same promise on your blog when you receive the gift.

If you are a no-reply blogger on Blogger blogs, or just think that you might be, please make sure that you leave an email address so that I can contact you.

That's it, Simples :)

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