Friday, 29 March 2013

Baking and Bunnies

As if Easter wasn't a calorific weekend at the best of times, I had to watch the Great British Bake Off's Easter Masterclass didn't I? Cakes, breads and desserts galore. Our middle son loves his fruitcake so Mary Berry's Simnel Cake seemed like the perfect thing to have on hand for his visit back home.

Despite making fruit cakes at Christmas for more years than I care to remember, I have never made a Simnel cake, even although it is essentially a Christmas Cake with a layer of marzipan baked in the middle. I think that may change as it was delicious!

fruit cake with marzipan topping and eleven marzipan balls to represent the disciples minus Judas. Traditionally made for Easter

The eleven marzipan balls on top of the cake traditionally represent the apostles minus Judas. Apparently it is traditional to have the cake on the middle Sunday of Lent, but we had already missed that by the time the programme was broadcast.

The Easter Masterclass was full of tempting recipes, so the Hot Cross Buns are currently proving in the kitchen, ready to be baked for the sports fans return and the Easter Lemon Pavlova will be a new twist on another old favourite. Pavlova and chocolate mini eggs, truly a match made in heaven :)

And talking of Chocolate mini eggs, here is the proof that the Dremel Drill bit arrived in time to make a gift for my daughter-in-law.

Etched glass vase filled with mini chocolate eggs

I practised first on a glass jar, so this is technically my second attempt at glass etching. Although it was scary at first I really enjoyed my first attempts at this. I am thrilled that it is recognisably a rabbit!


You can see them better here.

I also had a go at some tulips using an applique pattern that I found in a magazine.


The bud vases were just under £1 each from a local supermarket, so not only were these quick to do, once I had the right tools, but also very cheap to do too. I am now on the lookout around the house for more glass to etch, after the Hot Cross Buns and Simnel Cake have been polished off of course :)

Don't forget to link up here to New to Me in 2013


if you have tried something new this month too!


Happy Easter!

Linking up to

Crazy Mom Quilts

 
 
UndertheTableandDreaming

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Perfect Block

If you assume from the title of this post that I have actually made a perfect block, I am afraid you are going to be disappointed!

In actual fact, I have just finished February's block, the Seam Ripper, for Quiet Plays SAL



The reason it is the perfect block though is nothing to do with my sewing, or paper-piecing, but all to do with the subject of the block - the Seam Ripper. The idea is that you can have a mistake in your block and it looks like it is meant to be. Genius!


paper-pieced quilt block showing a seam ripper about to be used to correct an error in the sewing of the block

So my upside-down mannequins are not the disaster they might otherwise have been :) That is definitely my kind of block, thanks Kristy!

The rest of my time sewing has been spent on making bedroom curtains to have the newly decorated room ready before the family arrive for Easter.


They are nearly finished just waiting to be hemmed. It has been a while since I have made any curtains but the long straight seams were strangely relaxing, even if the pattern matching wasn't :)

Guess what is next to do!


Have the fabric and the ring from the previous lampshade, just have to have a go at putting them together.

So this is how my WIP list is looking now:-


  • In Color Order HST BOM - Backed and Basted!
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt basted
  • Tsatime quilt pieced, backed and basted COMPLETED
  • 5 blocks of NY Beauty QAL completed and fabric cut for remaining 5 blocks
  • 18 blocks of Craftsy BOM completed (only 2 more to go!) 
  • Sunday Morning Quilt Bee blocks received
  • Sunday Morning Quilt2 Bee blocks sent (on schedule)
  • Star of Africa Bee blocks completed and sent (back on schedule)
  • Friendship Bag Swap - Bag made ready to be filled COMPLETED
  • Modern Scrappy Bits Swap 3rd Round COMPLETED
  • Triple Zip A Long pouch  COMPLETED
  • Fancy Feet Challenge signed up COMPLETED
  • And And Sew On BOM - two blocks completed (back on schedule)
  • Everything but the Kitchen Sink SAL - 2nd block sewn
  • Crafty Cooks Apron and Recipe Swap  sign ups completed and partners allocated
  • Umbrella Prints Trimmings  received   

Hope you have had a productive week. If you have tackled anything new this month don't forget to add your like to the link party here I am really loving the variety of crafts that have been attempted.





Linking up to


WIPWednesday 


Quilter in the Closet


Monday, 25 March 2013

New to Me in March!

It's the 25th of the month again (already?) and it is time to celebrate all the new things we have attempted in March.



My first New to Me this month is co-hosting a Flickr Swap with the talented UKMUMINUSA

Silhouette image of cook wearing an apron and reading a cookery book
As neither of us had ever hosted a Swap before we weren't quite sure what to expect, but we are delighted to have nearly 30 Crafty Cooks all stalking each other and debating whether skull and goldfish fabrics are appropriate on an apron or not :) Opinions are currently divided.

My second New to Me in March was part of Rikka's Fancy Feet Challenge, where I dusted off my Teflon Foot and got to grips with sewing with oilcloth to make this washbag.

Brown and turquoise patterned oil cloth wash bag
The third New to Me activity I have attempted this month hasn't been quite as successful I have to admit. As part of my Christmas present, my husband bought me a Craft Drill set which has been sitting untouched in its smart blue zip-up case. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, but just hadn't plucked up the courage to have a go. With wind and snow forecast for the weekend it seemed like the perfect time to grab a cuppa, put some music on and finally unleash the drill.

Dremel 300 Drill and accessories in carry case


All of that was easy until I attempted to make sense of the almost non-existent instructions. A quick Google search and it was evident that I wasn't alone in struggling with the lack of instructions and that this wasn't going to be as easy as I had hoped.

For a start I wanted to use the drill to etch on glass and it seemed that I didn't have the right drill bit (already I have a whole new language to learn!) so a trip to the local Dremel stockist was called for. Alas they only stocked the drills and accessories at Christmas, so the big out-of-town DIY superstore was next on the agenda. Yay! a whole stand of drills and bits, but sadly not the one I was looking for, so I bought what I hoped was the next best thing.

Unfortunately it was not the next best thing. So I am currently waiting on an online order, which will, hopefully, arrive in time for me to have a go at etching Easter bunnies onto glasses so that I can fill them with mini Chocolate Easter eggs.




If this plan fails the chocolates will be eaten and any mention of glasses filled with Easter Eggs will be hotly denied!

I hope your New to You attempts have been more successful than mine this month.

Link them up below and share your triumphs and/or disasters.

As ever please link back to this post in your post and/or add the blog button to your sidebar.

Check out the other links and leave a 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 March 31st so if you haven't already tried something new you still have time :)



Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bag Loving Blog Hop


As you may know I love a good bag, so when I saw that Christine was hosting a Bag Loving Blog Hop, well I just had to sign up :)

I have made a few bags in the last couple of years starting with bags for the bridesmaids at my son and daughter-in-law's wedding


I actually made 10 bags so that each bridesmaid had more than one to choose from, the front three in this photo made the final cut.

Then there was the ZigZag tote from the Zakka-style SAL, those zigzags caused me no end of problems, but they were worth it in the end.


 Lisa Lam's great Kyoko Frilled Pouch pattern was the blueprint for my next set of wedding bags, this time for myself and my son's girlfriend.


 My Babushka Backpack, a tutorial for Quiet Play's Practically Paper Piecing Blog Hop.
 Finally getting to grips with Amy Butler's Bag Patterns for this Miss Maven Ruffled Handbag
And my most recent bag, pattern testing the Locked and Loaded Bag for Sew Sweetness.

So you see it is true a girl can never have too many handbags!

If you are a bag lady too, join in the Blog Hop and share your love of handmade arm candy.

To join up you will need to carry out the following steps.

*Step 1) Just add your blog link below by clicking on the "Click here To Enter" link and follow the easy steps to add your blog! 

*Step 2) IMPORTANT! Click on the "Get the code here" link shown to grab your copy of the code and add it to your blog! Please include these instructions so that new members will know what to do! :)


 *Step 3) Grab this button: (Right Click and Save)
BLOG-HOP-1

and pop it in your sidebar linking to your Bag Lovin Blog Hop post so that we can leave this blog hop open and people can keep finding it and hopping on! :)
 After you have completed all 3 steps, your link will be approved and added to the blog hop! :) That's it! :)
Please note it may take Christine a little while to approve your link due to the time differences! If you have any technical difficulties or you can't see your link within 24 hours, please don't hesitate to email her so she can help! :) Thanks for joining in!




Thursday, 21 March 2013

Friday Finish


Today's finish has been lurking in my to-do pile for quite a while now. It started out as this many months ago.

Basket of wool in graduating shades of pink and purple


Then it grew a bit bigger and then became the back and front of a cushion and that is where it stopped.

This week when buying fabric for bedroom curtains I finally came across a round cushion pad that was exactly the size needed for these crochet covers, so my excuse for not getting round to finishing the cushion disappeared in the shake of a bank card.

I have never blocked crochet pieces before but just winged it with a bit of a dunk in water, a couple of thick towels and some pins! I am sure there is a more professional way to do it but it worked, although I am not sure I would be so slapdash if it had been anything other than a cushion, which was going to take on the shape of the cushion pad anyway.

Anyhow once the back and front had recovered from their dunking and pinning, some whipstitching with matching wool and this is the result.

Circular striped crochet cushion




The pattern is from Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench and, like Laura, I have found with this book that the crochet instructions are excellent but beyond that the finishing instructions can only be described as scant!


If you have tried crochet for the first time this month, or indeed any other craft or activity don't forget to link up your posts on March 25th for the next New to Me in 2013 Linky party.


Linking this finish up to




Crazy Mom Quilts

and Sew, love, live for


Tea and Ramblings

You would think wouldn't you that being an Earl and having a popular blend of tea to your name would guarantee a lucrative income for you and future generations? Sadly  a lack of business acumen and a failure to secure the rights to his tea blend proved otherwise for the Earl Grey of Earl Grey tea. I learned this when I recently visited Howick Hall, the home of the Earl Grey family since 1310 until the 1960's.

The Hall is not open to the public, other than the very nice tearoom, which naturally sells Earl Grey tea, but has lovely grounds where we saw some welcome signs of Spring.






And evidence of some very intelligent wildlife!


If you have ever come across something useful when tidying up you will recognise the emotions experienced at the Bowes Museum in Durham, who discovered recently that a painting they had thought was a copy was in fact an original Van Dyck! Now you don't find too many of them just taking up space in a storeroom.

Although when your storeroom is in a building this size maybe it is easy to overlook what you have :)


The museum is famous for its' silver Swan automaton and having recently waited for the daily 2.00p.m. Silver Swan activation I shall just say don't blink or you will most definitely miss it!

The musuem has some fascinating exhibits both inside and out so is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. The tearoom is not too bad either!

Do you think there is a theme to my visits to stately homes and museums :)

Linking up to

Live A Colorful Life

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Backed and Basted!


In the words of the song, "the weather here is frightful" so there has been lots of incentive to stay indoors and crack on with the projects on my long to-do list!

Top of the list is the In Color Order HST BOM  quilt that I optimistically listed as one of my finishes for Q1 


        she can quilt

So, in the midst of yet another snow and hail shower I got down on my knees with my curved pins and got the top basted.

In Color Order BOM basted



I really do not enjoy this part of quilting, especially in the winter when spray-basting outside is not an option! Still it is now basted so might even be quilted and bound in time to meet the FAL deadline for Q1.

One part of quilting I do enjoy is taking part in swaps, and I have recently been the very lucky recipient of some fabulous goodies and scraps from the Modern Scrappy Bits Flickr Swap.

This fabulous fabric basket came filled with all of these wonderful goodies from Pam, who is the lovely owner of uberstitch, a great fabric shop on Etsy. It is definitely worth checking out if you haven't come across Pam's shop before.

These scraps came my way too when I signed up to the 2013 Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge. I am hoping it will not be too long before inspiration strikes for these, although my mind is completely blank on them at the minute :) I am used to that now thanks to the Star of Africa Bee where this happens on a monthly basis :) This months theme is trees!

So this is how my WIP list is looking now:-


  • In Color Order HST BOM - Backed and Basted!
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt basted
  • Tsatime quilt pieced, backed and basted COMPLETED
  • 5 blocks of NY Beauty QAL completed and fabric cut for remaining 5 blocks
  • 18 blocks of Craftsy BOM completed (only 2 more to go!) 
  • Sunday Morning Quilt Bee blocks received
  • Sunday Morning Quilt2 Bee blocks sent (on schedule)
  • Star of Africa Bee blocks completed and sent (back on schedule)
  • Friendship Bag Swap - Bag made ready to be filled COMPLETED
  • Modern Scrappy Bits Swap 3rd Round COMPLETED
  • Triple Zip A Long pouch  COMPLETED
  • Fancy Feet Challenge signed up COMPLETED
  • And And Sew On BOM - first block completed (one block behind schedule)
  • Just my Type paper-pieced block  COMPLETED
  • Everything but the Kitchen Sink SAL - 2nd block sewn
  • Crafty Cooks Apron and Recipe Swap  sign ups completed and partners allocated
  • Umbrella Prints Trimmings  received   

Linking up to


WIPWednesday 


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Monday, 18 March 2013

Drunks and Designers

The recent surge in Craftsy BOM catching up continues!

September's blocks were based on the Drunkard's Path pattern, so two lots of curved pieces to conquer. The first up, called Chain Block, looks to me like snakes slithering across the floor but that might have something to do with my distaste for curved seams :)

Craftsy BOM Sept 1

Not only were the curved seams a pain to sew, but I also managed to get marks from the iron on three of the individual blocks and had to do them again.

The second Drunkard's Path block was called Cleopatra's Puzzle and was much more to my taste than slippery snakes. Can you spot the problem I only discovered after I had put it all together? Are you beginning to see why I have put off doing these blocks for so long?




Should have paid more attention to the fabric placement when I was cutting out those pieces! 

The final month's paper-pieced blocks will be light relief after these :)

Fortunately not all of my blocks recently have been so problematic. Last month in Katy's Everything and the Kitchen Sink SAL she showed us how to design a paper-piecing pattern using Microsoft Word. Having had my monthly struggle to come up with something appropriate for the Star of Africa Bee block, I thought I would have a go at designing my own paper-pieced block. The theme for February was shoes. Having visited the V and A Museum in London a few weeks ago, I had an idea of what I wanted to do for my block, but until Katy's post no idea how to achieve it.

There were some fabulous shoes on display at the V and A,

from the very old

to the very glamorous

and the retro!

The ones I chose to represent in my block though can just be seen in the bottom of this photo

The rivet shoe boot was designed by Alexander McQueen, so I even managed to fit in a Scottish connection as his parents were from Scotland!

Here is my interpretation for the Star of Africa block


Designer Shoe block


I even managed to add a McQueen signature skull to the zip! Yes, I did get a zip in the paper-pieced block, it was an interesting experiment I can tell you :)

I had great fun designing the block and will definitely have a go at doing this again, thanks to Katy's brilliant instructions.

Waiting to see now what is next up for the Bee, it will be challenging I know.

Linking up to  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yBA0dP9XZiY/TdlBWrZfbOI/AAAAAAAAAcM/mjC0IDWrqZY/s1600/BOM+Button.jpg and Plum and June


UndertheTableandDreaming Quilter in the Closet

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