The ups and downs of working at home

For the past couple of weeks we have been out of routine, entertaining family and friends, visiting others and enjoying days out. Lovely!

World Athletics Championships 2017

The Olympic Stadium London hosting the World Athletics Championships – great to be  in the stadium again

Family outside the stadium

Outside the stadium 🙂

River Test at Houghton

The River Test at Houghton, Hampshire

The Silk Mill at Whitchurch along with silk scarves made on the Mill looms.

Friends and family have the impression that I am an organised person. 😀 As a student nurse I did learn how to think through and prepare all that was needed for a task before getting it underway – anything from changing a bed to a complicated dressing or surgical procedure. And I guess that training has translated into how I approach practical tasks out here in ‘civvy street’. But really I spend most of my time reacting to what happens around me, being distracted away from jobs and then being surprised as I come across the forgotten half finished ‘whatevers’ later in the day!

Today is my day at home. My ‘boys’ were all out to work by 8am. I made my way to the sewing room (ready to morph back into it’s guest room role), decided on some background music (The Lighthouse Family – I know, it is a bit bland but it’s smooth, easy on the ears and emotions) and set about turning bunting triangles inside out ready for pressing.

Bunting pointer

This little wooden tool was in a packet of nail files. It’s a very handy ‘pokey pointer’ pushing out the points of bunting triangles!

Within 15 minutes I was being beeped at by 1. the washing machine, insistent that I should go congratulate it on finishing another load of laundry, 2. my phone desperate for a battery recharge and then the door bell rang to announce the arrival of the weekly shop *sigh*. Some time and one broken finger nail later: the washing on the line, the phone sucking up electric juice, the shopping put away and here I am sat down in the sewing room. Of course, in dealing with these happenings I found a few other things to do: I refilled the bird feeder while I was hanging out the washing; put away some dry laundry from the clothes airer; remembered to send #1 son a text (and that reminds me I need to contact a cake decorator…); and decided to switch on the laptop and write it all down!

You’ll be glad to know The Lighthouse Family were completely unphased by all the distractions and continued to play regardless – good for them! I know it’s only 9.50am but I’m feeling the need for a mug of coffee… Must contact cake decorator first!!

Ha!Ha! 10.10am, coffee in the mug and finally the iron is heating up again. Back to the bunting :-), working to the snappier sound of The Beatles – ‘Eight Days A Week’ – how handy would that be?

Bunting flags arranged

The bunting flags all pressed and arranged on my make-do design wall sofa!

Pink buntingTwo hours later: I drank the coffee before it went cold (little triumph of the day!); completed three sets of bunting; and had a chat with my brother about the arrangements for our Dad’s 80th birthday celebrations this weekend; oh! and exchanged messages with the very kind cake maker.

Chocolatier BOM 3Yesterday evening I lead the third Chocolatier BOM workshop at Purple Stitches. We made two blocks. Here are my versions of ‘Louisiana’ and ‘Framed Plus’. The top two are in the BOM fabrics the lower is my practice block which I will add to the other practice blocks with the aim of making a table runner.

Talking of table runners, I was awake for a couple of hours in the night thinking about new projects to make and teach. My brain whirred so much I gave up trying to sleep and snuck downstairs for 4am tea and biscuits. After catching up with the Archers on the BBC iplayer I did manage to get back to sleep and raced through a whole host of crazy dreams. Anyway, putting aside the dreams of run away toy animals and snowfall in July, I am pleased to say those wakeful hours have led to some fresh ideas. I’m thinking of creating ‘making a table runner in a day’ classes, exploring a different patchwork block technique with each runner. Does that sound interesting? I’d be glad to know your reaction to this idea 🙂 I always like getting a workshop project finished or very near to completion on the day rather than bringing home a new UFO.

Yeah! It’s lunch time. As the forecast is fair for the rest of the day my plan is to visit the allotment; pick the runner beans and courgettes; maybe cut some of the grass which after several wet weeks is growing like it’s Spring again; and bring home the tools we left in the shed when ‘rain stopped play’ on our last visit.

So this is a post about a fairly typical ‘at home’ day where doing a days work isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds and most certainly is beyond my capacity to organise!

Thank you for your company today! Linking with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social – she’s paper piecing mermaids!




Posted in Family, Home, QE II Olympic Park, Quilt Blocks | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Refreshed after a holiday

In the run up to our holiday I just couldn’t keep up with the project to do list and maintain a written record here. We arrived home last Saturday and have been getting stuck into a new routine since Monday as our youngest son, on a 4 month Uni vacation, started a temporary, full time job. All seems to be going well so far 🙂

So, the holiday: we spent a week in the Derbyshire Peak District, about 180 miles north of home. It was beautiful. Here is the holiday home we stayed in and views from the front window 🙂

We stayed just outside the very picturesque town of Bakewell – home of the Bakewell tart *yum* – and spent quite a bit of time walking up and down the peaks and dales. It’s ideal walking country as the views are wonderful and it’s possible to feel ‘in the middle of nowhere’ and then walk on a mile or two further and find some tummy filling, thirst quenching respite in a comfortable tea room or pub!

Ilam tea room

Enjoying the view of Dovedale from the National Trust tea garden at Ilam

Of course, it would be rude to visit another part of the country and not drop into a local quilt shop or two… In Darley Dale we found Patchwork Direct which needs two premises to house all the fabrics, quilting and embroidery notions, not to mention the knitting yarns and patterns (the shops are called ‘Heirs and Graces’ and White Peak Embroidery’). I was fairly restrained buying a roll of twenty 2½” strips, 3m of wadding, some much needed new pins and more machine bobbins. After a few days of stroking the fabric strips I came up with an idea for a quilt top, smiled sweetly at my husband, and returned to the shops for a couple of metres of background fabric 🙂

Fabrics and notions from Patchwork Direct

My holiday purchases

Although the wifi reception in our holiday cottage was intermittent (a good thing really!) I did manage to fulfill one goal: namely sorting my Pinterest boards. I amalgamated a few, separated out others, renamed some to better describe their contents and purpose and tracked down a few rogue links that I’d manage to pin inappropriately (I smile every time I use this word: a few years ago we were amused by a restaurant menu that listed ‘appropriate potatoes’ which of course begs the question ‘what is an inappropriate potato?’). I hope you’ll take a look at my boards – most are related to patchwork and quilting, some more to figuring out how to run an online craft business and a few others are more general. I endeavour to update the Pins of the Week board every Tuesday, this board contains links to helpful/interesting quilty blog posts I’ve read during the week and searches I’ve made online.

Pink bunting July 2017Whew! I feel better for having got to the keyboard and written this post :-). Before the holiday I arranged on-going projects next to my sewing machine in order of urgency and since being home I have sorted out the hems on a pair of trousers and completed two lengths of pretty pink bunting (my bunting tutorial). Now to get my version of the beginners quilt ready for the second class on Saturday…

2nd Beginners Quilt

Linking with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social who is sharing her cute giraffe quilt pattern in several colourways.

It’s lovely to be back with you.


Posted in Fabrics, Family, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

My first quillow

Yeah! It’s a finish! After all the adapting, procrastinating and deliberating I have a completed quilt with a twist, it’s a cushion too!

Candy Hearts

Candy Hearts - pieced back

The pieced back, including a label and the quillow pocket (this is the inside of the cushion when it’s all folded – see picture below for the other side of the pocket)

Candy Hearts cushion

The Candy Hearts quilt folded into it’s pocket to form the cushion/pillow

(Aside: I like the name ‘quillow’ but it’s one of those words that doesn’t translate well from American English to British English, as here, on the European side of the Atlantic, we use cushions on chairs and sofas, pillows are what we rest our heads on at night! But hopefully we all know what we mean, anyway ‘qushion’ really doesn’t work!)


As with most of my quilt projects it’s been a typical two steps forward, one step back process! Way back in November 2016 I downloaded the ‘Take Heart’ quilt pattern from the Mack & Mabel Etsy shop. I also ordered a Moda Cherry on Top jelly roll and fabrics from KalQuilts. Unfortunately they couldn’t find the last jelly roll so I agreed to buy the layer cake instead… Then the adapting began as the heart blocks are made from 2½” x 12½” strips. Layer cake squares are 10″ wide… Anyway the long and the short of it (ha!ha!) is that my finished heart blocks measure 9″ square rather than 12″ square.

The project stalled before I’d finished all of the heart blocks: I was in my usual indecisive state – how many blocks to make?, should I add borders? And then, of course, there were the doubts: the colours look really bright! too bright?, the row by row layout wasn’t really working for these adapted blocks, was it all just a mess? Procrastination set in plus a whole lot of other projects too 😀

Candy Hearts quilting


Next devising a plan for quilting – more opportunities for self-doubt and indecision! In the end I looked to my 2017 word of the year and VENTURED once more into the realms of free motion quilting.


Although I get a bit exasperated with my doubt-filled, indecisive, procrastination-mired creative process I have come to recognise a benefit – I do give myself plenty of time to develop a project while it’s in progress! So, the idea for the uneven setting of the blocks came whilst browsing through quilty blogs and discovering just the solution my quilt needed; and the quillow idea grew as I looked at the spare fabrics and recalled that this is something I’ve wanted to have a go at for a while. I’ve taken the warning behind the saying ‘more haste, less speed’ to a whole new level 😀

(If you are thinking of making your first quillow I’d recommend these: tutorial 1 and tutorial 2 and the quillow chapter in ‘Growing Up Modern’ by Allison Harris. If you’d like to read a bit more about the making of my Candy Hearts quilt top then click to this blog post).

Linking with Myra for Finished Or Not Friday (Myra is giving away a box full of scraps) and Amanda Jean for Finish It Up Friday (Amanda Jean has a scrappy pincushion challenge underway).




Posted in Free Motion Quilting, P&Q Books, Quillow, Venture | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Wimbledon, design wall modifications and a quilt in progress

The skies are blue and the TV is red hot! It’s Wimbledon fortnight and I do so enjoy watching tennis 🙂 I was going to call watching the tournament a ‘distraction’ but, truthfully, I make the choice to put the tennis before other things!

So, this afternoon I gathered jobs to do in front of the Wimbledon TV coverage. Despite it being pretty hot, I reduced the ironing pile before crawling around on the floor making modifications to my design wall! Huh? Wall on the floor? Let me explain: My design wall is a fuzzy backed table protector cloth hanging from an IKEA tension wire. It works very well but recently the cloth has been hanging unevenly, forming quite deep waves which make securing fabrics and blocks to it a bit ‘hit and miss’.

Wavy design wall

The wavy design wall cloth hanging from the IKEA tension wire 

The solution that came to mind was to attach a pole horizontally across the back of the cloth to flatten out the waves. Next problem: how to attach the pole? Tape was a possibility but may not have been reliable and may have left sticky residue on the back of the cloth… It’s taken a few days but finally, whilst doing the ironing and watching the tennis, I had a little brainwave: why not pin a quilt hanging sleeve to the back of the cloth and thread the pole into the sleeve? Ta! Da!

Design wall modificationI found a pole in the shape of a washing line prop but it felt very heavy and I don’t fancy the IKEA fixings being pulled out of the wall! A quick search through the garden shed and I came across a sturdy garden cane just 6″ short of the width of the design wall cloth and much lighter in weight than the washing line pole. I used large safety pins to attach the sleeve to the back of the design wall cloth, then threaded the garden cane into it before rehanging the cloth onto the wire support .

Design wall rehung

You might just be able to see the row of pins showing about a third of the way down the cloth – indicating the position of the quilt hanging sleeve attached tot he back.

As you can see the cloth is hanging a lot flatter, I need to tighten the hanging wire but it’s a bit of Heath-Robinson job and I’m worried the whole lot will fall down! There are limits to my mechanical genius 😀

Anyway, the design wall is a great tool to have in the process of creating a patchwork top. The Candy Diamonds top is progressing (this quilt top emerged from the fabrics and half square triangles left after completing the Candy Hearts quillow). Having looked at it on the (wavy) design wall I decided to make some changes to the design: I tried adding an extra row of HSTs around the edge to complete the diamond shapes. Here are the original and ‘mark 2’ versions of the quilt top on EQ7:

Looking at the amount of fabrics remaining I thought it unlikely I’d have enough to make a really varied, scrappy piano key border so I revised that too, opting for a stripy style border. We shall see… Here is Candy Diamonds on the design wall:

Candy diamonds progress

This weekend a fresh Beginners Class opens at Purple Stitches. I’ve been busy checking through the notes, collecting together fabrics for my demonstration quilt as well as preparing for the second BOM workshop on Tuesday. We are making a rainbow version of the Chocolatier BOM quilt. To test the instructions for each block I’m using much more traditional looking fabrics. I think these may be the start of a table runner…

First 3 of the Chocolatier blocks

Thank you very much for being patient with me as my last blog post took a look away from the quilty side of life, your thoughtful comments were encouraging. I’d like to say ‘thank you’ as well to those of you who have recently signed up to follow this blog 🙂 Just to let you know I love to follow quilty blogs too. Each week I collate the useful and interesting posts I’ve read along with online searches I’ve made onto my ‘Pins of the Week’ Pinterest board. On Tuesday evening these all get shifted to the ‘Last Weeks Pins of the Week’ board and subsequently spread through the rest of my boards. I hope you’ll find this Pinterest collection a useful resource.

Linking with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social – use the link to see her gorgeous foundation paper pieced fox cubs – and with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday – check out Kelly’s neat pressing station.


Posted in Projects, Quilt Design | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

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 , | 8 Comments