Finding Hope in Uncertain Times

Gracious! I try and keep my blog writing more or less in step with what is happening in the quilty side of life but there is so much going on here in the UK that I’m finding it impossible not to let the mood of real life colour the quilty blog bubble. Several times I have begun and then erased substantial portions of this post as events race along.

I’ve found working in the garden and the allotment have provided some relief from the news bulletins :

Less than three weeks ago we in the UK were trying to absorb the result of the General Election which unexpectedly produced a ‘hung parliament’ – the winning party failed to gain a majority of seats. This has just added to an air of uncertainty in the UK: first with last year’s Brexit vote and all the provisos that are created by that, followed by the three chilling terrorist attacks – and then, suddenly and awfully, the dreadful fire in the residential block in London. And even since then another terrorist incident in the capital alongside continued political disunity.

These events and the air of uncertainty have got me thinking about hope. I am slowly re-reading The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien. It wasn’t until I saw the films that I was struck by the twin threads of hope and despair running through the trilogy. There are many times when a character will express either hope or despair as the battle between good and evil ebbs and flows. At times of despair a fellow character will often counter with a few words of hope or the promise of continued support, in so doing somehow bringing light into a dark situation.

On the morning of her Official Birthday and just a few hours before participating in the spectacle of Trooping the Colour our Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II, summed up the mood of the nation in this message:

Today is traditionally a day of celebration. This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood. In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.

As a nation, we continue to reflect and pray for all those who have been directly affected by these events. During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need.

Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.


17 June 2017


As a Christian I am not ashamed to say my feelings about the events and circumstances of present day UK are preoccupying my thoughts and at times making me feel rather crushed and helpless – it is at just such moments that the timeless promises of the Bible come to give us a heaven-bound, eternal perspective on present day events. Last Sunday in Church we sang a hymn that lifted my thoughts and helped me regain more of the ‘big picture’ assurance that God is in charge now as He was at the beginning and as He will be at the end.

I will trust to God’s big picture knowing ultimately His goodness will be triumphant. The issue for this moment is to be at peace in that sure hope. The peace offered by God is not the peace of passivity and it certainly does not promise pain-free living rather it allows for a sure hope in the certain promise of faultless justice being exercised by Jesus at the end of time. This is a great reason to carry on the fight now – both on a practical and a spiritual level.

Back to quilty business next time 🙂 Just couldn’t continue sharing quilty news without making reference to all that’s been happening around us over the past few months.





Posted in Awe and Wonder, Books, Garden, Queen Elizabeth II | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Half square triangle progress and other news

Whew! Here in the southern half of the UK we have, thankfully, come to the end of a heatwave. Daytime temperatures were getting above 30°C and at night only dropping to around 18°C. I know this isn’t much compared to what is experienced in other countries but really we are not used to it and here high temperatures often mean very high humidity and we had that in buckets – even a South African friend living in the UK was finding it uncomfortable and comparing conditions here to those in Durban.

Anyway the weather report above is by way of me explaining a lack of blog posts over the past couple of weeks. There are other reasons too, and I’ve found separating these out from my quilting news into another blog post a more appropriate way to share (I’ll publish that post in due course).

So, back-tracking to last weekend and the Roundabout Quilter’s show… Only our second show in the four years since the group was formed and it really was so well organised, making the most of the venue – ‘well done’ Show Committee 🙂 The bright sun provided lots of light through the windows of All Saints Church – the quilts all glowed as if they themselves were made of stained glass – but the accompanying heat and the clash with Father’s Day deterred some people from venturing out, sadly our visitor numbers on Sunday afternoon were quite low. Here are some photos of the show:

Before the temperatures and humidity rose to 30-stupid I did make a start on quilting the Candy Hearts quilt. I’m pleased with the free motion loopy pattern on the white background, not so enamoured of the larger scale flowers in the heart blocks but I think the overall effect will be fine.

Candy Hearts quilting

Tuesday evening found me leading a Block of the Month workshop at Purple Stitches. We made the most of being able to open out the large doorway and Viv provided plenty of chilled drinks as we worked on a rather fiddly star block from the Chocolatier BOM. ‘Fiddly’ in that the finished block size is just 6″ and the Kona Solids fabrics are a little heavier and more prone to fraying than some other quilting fabrics. This made the inevitable unpicking and readjusting of some seams a bit fraught but we survived! I found using starch spray before piecing helped to minimise distortion and keep fraying to manageable levels.

Chocolatier BOM block 1

Thursday proved to be a particularly sew-cial day. I enjoyed the cool of Brown Candover village hall and the good company of sewing friends. Working on the half square triangle project inspired by the cut-off corners from the Candy Heart blocks, I made 56 additional HSTs and stitched them all together to make 24 blocks. A very satisfying days work. I will make scrappy piano-key borders from the remaining pieces of the layer cake squares and left over Cherry On Top fabrics.

Candy Diamonds on design wall

Candy Diamond HST blocks on my design wall alongside the Chocolatier BOM blocks.

In the evening I took my laptop along to Purple Stitches for the Sewcial Evening. I needed to review the notes for the Beginners Course as the next class is due to begin on 8th July. And while I was there I did a bit of fabric shopping too. These Winter hued fabrics are from the new Dashwood Studio collection, ‘Norrland’ by Bethan Janine. Aren’t the animals with their leaf patterns just perfect? There’s a smattering of gold flecks on some of the fabrics to contrast with the icy colours. I’ll be using these fat quarters to make a new version of the Star table runner (see my 2016 Gallery page) ready for a class in the Autumn.

Norrland fabrics

That’s my quilting news up-to-date 🙂

Linking with Myra for Finished or Not Friday – she’s also sharing a HST project.

We are preparing for a bit of adventure today. Soon we will be catching the train to London, travelling to Wembley Stadium to see ELO in concert 🙂




Posted in Fabrics, Free Motion Quilting, Local Quilt Groups, Quilt Blocks, Quilt Exhibitions, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Half Square Triangle Inspiration

I know! I know! Here I go again! A quilt in production and I’m diverting off into another project 😉


In my defence: 1. I would be quilting the Candy Hearts quillow but I need to take a trip to my not-so-local quilt shop to buy a reel of thread; 2. The quilt I’m planning is making use of the cut off half square triangles from the heart blocks, so really it’s just an extension of the quilt in progress! *Yeah! Right!*

Candy Heart half square trianglesAlong with the 42 HSTs saved from the construction of the Candy Heart blocks, I have 14 of the layer cake squares ‘left over’, a few strips of fabric and some reasonably large pieces of fabrics from the ‘Cherry on Top’ range that could be used either in the body of a quilt top, for borders or the backing along with a metre or so of the white on white background fabric. Looks like all the ingredients required for a quilt to me ;-)

Left overs from the Candy Hearts quilt

For inspiration I looked up the HST Quilt Projects board on my Pinterest page. Pretty quickly I decided on a pattern and set about recreating it on EQ7.



The pattern is created by rotating blocks and there is only one block design to make, made up of four HSTs. The blocks will be 6″ square when finished. I drew up a 6 x 8 layout with 5½” of border to make a 47″ x 59″ quilt top. This would require 192 half square triangles! Eeek! A quick calculation of the number of HSTs I could construct from the fabric available led me to revise my design to a smaller 4 x 6 layout that maintains the symmetry of the pattern. The completed quilt will measure 35″ x 47″ which is a bit small but better to have a completed quilt than add the fabric to my stash!

On to other news:

Music Star tote bagI do have a finish to share! My foundation paper pieced stars have become a tote bag called ‘Music Star’. It is on display, for sale, in my area of the All Our Own Crafts pop up shop in Basingstoke’s shopping centre, Festival Place.

If you are in the Basingstoke area this weekend please do visit the pop up shop – there are displays of items created by forty crafters – anything from delicate glassware to re-cycled drift wood, silver jewellery, stunning photographs and much more besides.

Also in Basingstoke this weekend: Roundabout Quilters second show 🙂 We have a great venue to display our quilts, All Saints Church, Southern Road. There are three local quilt traders setting up shop in the Church Hall next door alongside the refreshments area where homemade cakes will be on sale 🙂 Outdoor temperatures are set to rise to 30°C this weekend – step inside the Church and enjoy the cool while you browse the quilts, cushions, bags and wall hangings.

Linking with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday.

Have a great weekend.


Posted in Bags, Computer Software, Fabrics, Foundation Paper Piecing, Local Quilt Groups, Quilt Blocks, Quilt Design, Quilt Exhibitions, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Quilts and more at the American Museum, Bath UK

On Saturday we drove west to Bath to meet up with our daughter and take a look round the American Museum. On the way we passed the iconic World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. Apologies for the quality of photos taken through the car windscreen but it’s too amazing not to share :-)Stonehenge through the windscreen

Stonehenge June 2017 (2)

Thanks to the wonders of sat-nav we found the Museum without any bother. It is housed in Calverton Manor which was built in the early 1800s. The grounds are very pleasant with dramatic views across a green, wooded valley. There’s a statue of Lincoln in the gardens and a sheltered area reproducing George Washington’s garden in Mount Vernon.

The Museum was opened in 1961 as a place to display American decorative and folk art – the only such collection outside of the USA apparently. Inside the Manor we followed the route through rooms giving a chronological insight into North American history, displaying artifacts, reconstructed rooms along with contemporary pictures and clear, helpful information panels.

The museum houses a collection of quilts 🙂 They are displayed on a giant carousel, each quilt covered in a protective layer of plastic, in a room with no natural light. These conditions, plus the understandable restriction of ‘no flash photography’, mean the following photographs may not be of the best quality but I hope you will enjoy them. I’ve paired up each quilt with it’s information card.

The quilt room American Museum

The quilt ‘carousel’

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Finally a series of three red and white quilts. Check out Melanie’s recent posts about her quilt group’s show which included a red and white quilt category – lovely photos and some great information about the origins of the red and white tradition.

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There were many more quilts, all worthy of mention. I’m linking with Beth for Main Crush Monday ‘cos who wouldn’t crush on these quilts and their makers who got us patchwork quilters to where we are today? 🙂 This week Beth shares a lovely story of the generosity of a quilter.


Posted in Civil War quilts, English Paper Piecing, History, Inspiration, Quilt Exhibitions | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

How many projects?!

I won’t be coy: It’s my birthday today! Family and friends have lovely ways of making this day special for me; phone calls, visits, cards, gifts and days out, along with a lotta love 🙂 And, without intending to be morbid, life expectancy being what it is, knowing I have more birthdays behind me than ahead it would be very silly not to enjoy all the treats and good wishes being sent my way!

I’ve spent a pleasant half hour or so listening to the first disc of The Lord of the Rings soundtrack (thank you, A&T) whilst tidying and rearranging my sewing room. These past few months it has become increasingly important to me to maintain a bit of order in my room. I think this may be due to the rather ridiculous number of projects I have on the go. It really is essential to tidy away  group together the parts of one project after a burst of activity before spreading around the pieces of another project.

My ‘on the go’ projects include:

Easy Curve Runner, quiltedThe curved piece runner – I quilted it earlier this week and have attached the binding. I’m saving the hand stitching for my two hours at the craft shop on Monday. I’m pleased with the quilting, especially the free motion pebbling (read Jessica Skultety’s letter to quilted pebbles here).

I’m developing my foundation paper piecing skills by making a couple of star blocks to feature on a tote bag. I downloaded the free FPP pattern from a Carol Doak website and I’m referring to her Craftsy class – which is one of the very best classes I’ve purchased from Craftsy (it’s half price at the mo).

Foundation Paper Pieced Star

Viv at Purple Stitches is about to launch a block of the month – Chocolatier by gen X quilters – and has me testing the instructions and fabric quantities prior to leading monthly workshops for anyone who wants a bit of hands-on guidance.

Rainbow Chocolatier

Viv has created a rainbow version of the Chocolatier BOM. I made a test block using my own fabrics (bottom right)and then cut out all that’s needed for the first month’s blocks from the fabrics she’s providing (carefully sorted into sandwich bags!).

Candy Hearts quilt label

The ‘Candy Hearts’ label stitched on to the backing before quilting – how organised am I?

I’ve made a quilt sandwich of the Candy Hearts quilt – next steps: buy some white thread for the quilting and make the quillow ‘pocket’. I mentioned in my last post that I’ve decided to make the quilt into a quillow and what-do-you-know one of my birthday books has come up trumps 🙂 A quick flick through Allison Harris’ ‘Growing Up Modern’ and I found beautifully clear instructions for making a quillow (thank you for the book dear MIL).

Growing Up Modern by Allison Harris

The left over fabrics from the Candy Hearts quilt are calling to be made into a quilt top – not decided on the pattern yet…

Brown Candover Church and community hall

Isn’t this a beautiful place? Our monthly sew-in takes place in the hall behind the cricket pavilion/club room at Brown Candover.

During the last sewing day at Brown Candover, I pieced all the blocks for a new design using a Lewis & Irene 10″ Scrumptious Squares pack. Someone saw the blocks laid out and passed a helpful comment or two that sent me into complete self-doubting spin regarding my design. I took her advice and bought some plain fabric in a bright colour to ‘pull it all together’ but now have to tackle re-jigging the design on EQ7 or graph paper…

Tropicana block

I bought this dotty Layer Cake at the Malvern Show and have drafted a pattern on EQ7…

Just a Speck Layer Cake

Quilt sandwichAnd there’s a quilt sandwich lanquishing on the top bunk calling to be quilted and finished (I’ve even made the binding ready for this one!). From here we move onto the UFO pile and I don’t want to go there just now, I think my head would explode!




Tomorrow will be an opportunity to soak up a bit of history and receive more patchwork inspiration as we plan to visit the American Museum at Bath 🙂 It’ll be our first visit there and I’m looking forward to it, especially as we have the opportunity to meet up with DD and SIL. I have another birthday book which I think will tie in well with the quilts on show at the Museum, ‘Civil War Legacies’ by Carol Hopkins (thank you to A&S).

Civil War Legacies by Carol Hopkins

Birthdays when you are a ‘grown up’? ….. Not so bad 😀

Linking with Sarah for Can I get a Whoop Whoop Friday.





Posted in Birthdays, Civil War quilts, Curved Piecing, Fabrics, Foundation Paper Piecing, Free Motion Quilting, On-Line Classes, P&Q Books, Quillow, Tablerunners, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments