Friday, 22 June 2012

Old Wives get it right -

- again!

When my mum died, thirty-four years ago this month, her home was
 packed up by Pickfords and everything - including the coal box below -
was shipped across the country to us.

Today it sits next to our coal-effect gas fire, still
full of the nutty slack my mum dug out of the
coal house all those years ago.

You're probably thinking I'm 'Nutty Slack' for keeping coal
 that we don't need and can't use for more than a third of a century.
 But that would be the short-sighted view

'Some day,' I thought, 'that coal will come in handy'
And I was right. Today, this little heap of dirt is our pension plan.
The idea was sparked by a little flurry on Facebook -
someone had discovered the amazing regenerating
power of a lump of coal on a limp lettuce -

and, suddenly, baby-boomers were remembering how their
mums revived a tired old butterball lettuce by putting it
 in cold water with a small piece of washed coal and - voila!
 - an hour or so later it emerged as crisp, fresh leaves.


Dragons' Den - here we come!

Our plan is to break the coal up into 1-inch cubes and
sell it to the public as the Next New Thing. 

With a bit of careful wording we could
have every pensioner in Britain sitting in a
lukewarm bath with a cleverly-marketed cube
of nutty slack working its magic on their tired old bones.

Today Britain - tomorrow the world!

Order now - stocks are limited...


Saturday, 16 June 2012

Super quick!

Progress on the quick scraps!

Loved this project from the Summer issue of
Primitive Patchwork Magazine!
It's such a simple block, but so cleverly cut - I just had to try it.

With a few quilt projects in the pipeline, I decided to cut the pattern down
 and make a nine-block quilt using some of my scrap fabrics.
This would give a centre layout measuring 33" x 33".
Reducing the borders to 1" and 4" to suit these proportions
would give a finished quilt measuring 43" x 43". Cute!

First job - join two pairs of 6.5" squares together...

Next - sew them together to make a 4-patch square...

Measure 4" either side of the centre line and cut off the two side strips.

My June Tailor Shape Cut ruler came into its own
when I was cutting all the squares and strips.
Such a useful bit of kit!

After sewing the cut strip from the right onto the left side of
the block, and the left strip onto the right of the block,
I turned the block 90 degrees and repeated the process -

- measuring and cutting 4" from the centre seam once more,
and sewing the cut strips to the opposite edge.
Results below!

Just a little - unsponsored! - plug for the June Tailor ruler...
I dithered over buying one of these for ages before parting
with the cash, but it's up there in my top five quilting aids.
I did a 2-minute demo at my quilt group the other day,
and they ordered one for the group toolbox right away.
It makes cutting strips, diamonds, triangles or hexagons so easy!
Check out this YouTube link for a demo

Anyway - back to the blocks!
Here they are, all sewn together.

I've got a cream crackle fabric for the 1" border and a
brown/cream pattern for the 4" border.
Not sure about the binding...
I was thinking of either using the border brown or
 joining scraps left over from the blocks. A scrap binding
would make it genuinely scrappy...

What do you think?
Suggestions welcome!   

Monday, 11 June 2012

Can a crafter be a minimalist?

I recently heard a friend say  
that she ruthlessly gets rid of anything in her house
that hasn't been used or worn for a year.
'I'm a ruthless minimalist' she said.

 As a born collector, I was really impressed, and wanted
a little bit of that ruthless minimalism to rub off,
because, frankly, collecting can get really silly...

Just to give you an idea -
I've brought a full carrier-bag of Belgian conkers through customs,
because they were bigger and better than ours:
I've a vast wine cork collection - and they weren't even good wines!
I have the National Collection of paper napkins.

In the mid-'90s, a dozen ornamental gourds, some corn, and a
few dozen autumn leaves came home from a holiday and 
fifteen years later, most of them are still showing up in
Fall 'happenings' around the house.

The leaves only bit the dust last year, but the corn is fine
and the gourds got a new lease of life with a coat of acrylic paint.

My minimalist friend reluctantly agreed that these were okay
because they actually fell inside her 'use within the year' rule.
 What sent the eyebrows shooting above the hairline was
hearing I'd ironed all the leaves in our hotel room before flying home.
Seemed sensible to me - but that's when she
suggested I should see a doctor.

But, hey -

And there's nothing we collectors like better than a
good rummage through stuff...

Choosing bags of buttons at Bits&Bats - great fun!
Obie's Quilt store, Lancaster County PA

Obie's - or Death by Falling Fabric
More photos of this Tutankhamen's Tomb
of quilting on Bonnie Hunter's blog
Obie's again

This part of my stash looks almost modest doesn't it?
But there isn't room for a breath of air in there,
and this cupboard is just the tip of the iceberg...

If you're looking for storage, I can really recommend these IKEA
cupboards and sliding drawers - they're fantastic for organising
your fat quarters and notions.
Are Crafting and Minimalism compatible?
Not right now!
What would help is to increase the creative output 
to match the collecting input. 
Anyone identify with this?

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Quilters of the world - unite!

Sorted! (well, almost...)

I'm constantly amazed by how creative, motivated and productive
quilters are - and how willing they are to pass on insights and tips!
It really makes you want to branch out and try something new.

Was particularly inspired by two blogs recently -

Kay (Quilts+Color) inspired me to clear my sewing room for action -

Sorted!  Well, this corner of one drawer at least...

and Kathleen (A Sentimental Quilter) made me launch out
more boldly into scrap-matching. 

Result -

1. Fabric for a scrap quilt sorted, washed, pressed, cut out and ready to sew,
2. A lovely pile of prints unearthed for my grandson's quilt
plus a blending border and binding fabric found at The Skep 
Love the Skep - the girls there are great! 

So - a good afternoon's work. Very happy!

Scrap quilt - more later!
Many of the fabrics in both these quilts were found at the Skep

fabrics for Meyer's quilt + the 2 in the pic below & a lovely red border
Just right for a little chap born in time for the Queen's Diamond
 Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics! 

Plus his mum really likes these colours...