Friday, 30 September 2011

...You Had to Be In It to Win It! were you?

Flying Blind was!  She said `Congratulations honey! I am awaiting the Pezzy Prints and Half Moon Modern scissors.`  Congratulations to you Hadley.  I have just emailed you and as soon as I get your details I shall pass them on to Julie at The Intrepid Thread and she will get this bundle of loveliness of to you pronto.

A huge thank you to Julie for generously agreeing to sponsor this giveaway, to my in excess of hundred new followers and to everyone who joined in.  It`s Friday - have a great weekend!

Apologies for the smudgy photo but we learned a year or so ago not to pack a bottle of milk with a lap top in hand luggage!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Good News or The Bad News?

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

When asked this question, I always plump for the bad news.  Better to get it over and done with.

My Across the Sea quilt (ATSQ) is basted and I`ve started quilting it.  No, no - that`s not the bad news. I went for wavy lines as I thought straight lines might be a little harsh and I don`t have the FMQ foot here as the shop forgot to send it to me with the new machine.  Well this morning I thought the  ATSQ would be my favourite quilt.  I was so happy with it.  However, I`ve given up with it for today.  It`s lying in a dishevelled heap. My wavy lines make it look like some cheap quilt you would find at the local market.  The lines are about 3 inches apart.  Perhaps I need to go denser. 

And the good news?  Well the good news is that I received some goodies in the post. Yes, our postman is back!

First off is this lovely fabric I had ordered and forgotten about.

Loulouthi FQ bundle in the Eleni colourway by Anna Maria Horner.

Prince Charming FQ bundle by Tula Pink in the coral colourway.

But that`s not all. I received my first mug rug and goodies of The Goodie Swap 2011 from lovely Judith in Northern Ireland.

Judith had gone to so much trouble, taking into account favourite colours and incorporating Moroccan inspired shapes in the mug rug, which is so beautifully made.  There`s also a handmade silk brooch with silk from Cambodia and the most amazing camera pin, which Judith asked her daughter to make - knowing I love photography.  I love it - it`s so beautifully made and the detail is incredible!

Oh and what do you think Zaki has his eye on?  Yes, the Gummy Bugs..which Judith sent especially for him and which went down a treat.  Thank you so much Judith!

If a miracle happens, I`ll post a photo of my ATSQ tomorrow and if not I`ll cry.  

Don`t forget to check back tomorrow night for the winner of the Intrepid Thread sponsored giveaway!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

An Indian Summer

I`m hearing a lot about people experiencing an Indian Summer at the moment.  It`s still summer here but a bearable 30 C, so no complaints.

I could complain about our postman having done a disappearing act with my batting for the Across the Seas quilt. It should be basted by now and I should be doing the quilting so that I can bind it and put it in the flikr group by next Monday.  I`m not.

Instead, I dug out my Kumari Garden FQ bundle and started a baby quilt using this tutorial by Fresh Lemons.  Here are the first 6 blocks.

Clearly I was thinking girls when I started making this but as time went on I became less and less thrilled with the pink blocks and I`m drawn to the green and blues one.  So my question dear readers is, do I make two quilts separating the colourways or keep it looking bright...and pink? I`m not sure a baby would get a good night`s sleep with this mix but a playmat might be fun.

My favourite block is top middle.  I could make a whole quilt of  blocks of fussy cuts with wide borders.

You know that lovely feeling when you unexpectedly come across something you`ve lost.  Well yesterday I was rooting through one of the many unpacked boxes from our summer move and found my ipod in an old makeup bag. I know.  Go figure.  I hadn`t seen it since Christmas. 

So today I was listening to the album 21 by Adele. Got to love the Adele.

There are still a couple of days left to enter the giveaway.  I am blown away by the phenomenal response - thanks everyone!

Monday, 26 September 2011

It`s Da BOM!

...or not.  Boy do I need practice with piecing.  That`s why I joined the Blogger`s BOM Quiltalong here.

Block 1 by Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life
Each month, there will be a block of the month.

12 blocks each measuring 8.5 inches. I may have to make more than one of each.

This block feels traditional but it`s good to try something different, no?

Canton Village Quilt Works

I`m waiting for my batting so that I can baste this to this and start quilting. Where is it?  It was ordered almost 2 weeks ago.

If you are here for the giveaway, click here

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Something for a Sweet Tooth

I`m off out to a friend`s house for a cup of tea and I`m taking some of this.

What it lacks in looks, it makes up for in easiness and rapidity to prepare.

The easiest and quickest biscuit cake slice thing. And very yummy.

I got the recipe from here. It`s possible to make this slice (takes 5 to prepare), cook it (Gas Mark 3 for 15- 20 mins) and have a piece half an hour later.

The original recipe is a little sweet for my liking so I reduced the sugar to half a cup and could reduce it to perhaps a third.  Do that and leave the honey in.

Here are the last of the blocks promised to others.  For this month at least.

Judith asked for wonky stars.  My first attempt.  Can you tell?

Hoping the Queen of Wonky Stars approves.

They will be sent to Northern Island where Judith and other lovely ladies will make them into quilts for families in need in Belfast.

I`m LOVING my new sewing machine. It purrs rather than clangs. I`m very happy.

Off for tea now.  Hope you are having a lovely Sunday wherever you are.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Blocks for Amy and Annabel

A huge thank you to Sarah Fielke for sending Kaffe Fassett scraps all the way from Australia so that I could make these two blocks measuring 8 x 11 inches. They will be used in quilts for Amy and her daughter Annabel who lost Dan a few weeks ago.  Amy`s favourite fabrics are Kaffe Fassett and with her husband`s love of the music world, Sarah thought these blocks which look like a bass line on a stereo display would be appropriate.

You can read about Dan here.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Friday Round Up

Yesterday`s giveaway sponsored by The Intrepid Thread was such great fun and there were times when I couldn`t keep up with the comments pouring into my email account.  A big welcome to all my new followers and good luck to everyone who has entered the giveaway! There is still time by enter by clicking here.

Today I finished piecing the back to my Across the Sea QAL quilt.  It has been breezy and raining today so I had to rush out between showers and grab this very average shot.

The floating crosses are on a lilac solid for the back, which complements the colours in the blocks but I do kind of wish I had been braver and gone darker. Anyway, that`s it until my wadding and purple thread arrive and at the moment there is no sign of them.

Today`s fantabulous news is that my new sewing machine was delivered today.  Poor thing had hardly time to unpack her bags and she was put to work on the quilt backing.  It`s early days but we are getting on well.  Currently, she is nameless apart from her surname Janome, so if anyone (Hadley?) has any bright suggestions, let me know. In her haste to get here, she forgot to bring the promised quilting quilt, which is hugely frustrating as I was hoping to have the extension table and requisite feet available for when my wadding arrives.  My mum will now bring it out with her in a couple of weeks.

The Goodie Swap 2011 is almost over and after having said I wouldn`t do another swap for a while, I have signed up to two in the last few days. It seems a little obscene to be mentioning the C word in September but the first swap is The Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap being hosted by super lovely bloggy friend Susan.  With Susan in charge and the gaggle of girls who are already signed up, it is sure to be fun.  Sign ups close on October 2 so head on over and take a peek.  I have also signed up to The Scrappy Swap 2011 being hosted by Kat. Sign ups close on September 30.

Right, I`m off to read the instruction book...what? No, of course I didn`t read it before using it!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

A Big Thank You & A Giveaway

I never imagined 8 months ago as I started this blog that anyone would read it, or let alone follow it but I did it! I reached and passed 100 followers. Thank you so much to Di for her big shout out yesterday, to all my new followers who took a peek and pressed the button and all my wonderful existing followers who have been there along the way! Enough of the Oscar speech, let`s have a giveaway!

For the last 9 years I have lived in Marrakech, Morocco at the western tip of N.Africa.  It`s known as the red city as all the buildings have to be painted in a pinky shade.

It`s a city you either love or hate.  It is sensory overload on overdrive.  It`s beautiful, vibrant, hot, spicy, noisy, crazy mad, in your face and a little bit wild.  Just like the new fabric line  Moroccan Mirage by Kristian A Howell.

Moroccan Mirage in Marrakech colorway
I love the retro feel of the top fabrics and then the more sedate souk and screen patterns. I`m using this fabric line in the Duo QAL I have signed up for and will team it with some Kona solids. Red is a colour I don`t have much of in my stash and I was naturally drawn to the blue and green colourway of Casablanca, but I had to use the Marrakech line didn`t I? I`m looking forward to the challenge of using a colour I haven`t used much before!

I am thrilled that the lovely Julie at The Intrepid Thread has agreed to sponsor this giveaway by giving an FQ bundle of Moroccan Mirage in the Marrakech colourway to one lucky reader.  Thank you so much Julie! Intrepid Thread have a beautiful selection of fabrics.  Just take a look at what is coming soon.  I have my eye on Lark by Amy Butler and Pear Tree by Thomas Knaur arriving next month and who can resist a little Kate Spain, with Good Fortune arriving in January. Julie is so helpful, answers emails in minutes and will help you in any way she can.

So I`m giving you 4 chances to get your mits on this bundle.  To enter the giveaway -
  • go over to this page at The Intrepid Thread and see what takes your fancy and then come back and tell me in a comment
  • for a second chance, go and follow the Intrepid Thread and leave a  separate comment
  • for a third chance, leave a comment saying you are following me
  • and if you blog about the giveaway, leave a link in a new comment
The giveaway will be open until Thursday September 29 at 5PM GMT.  Julie will ship direct to the winner.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday

So today I wished `bon voyage` to my swap goodies, which are now winging their way to _____ and _____. I can`t say anymore because they are secret destinations, or rather secret partners.

I put mug rugs behind me and worked on the cross blocks for the backing of the Across the Sea quilt. I have absolutely loved this QAL (except the cutting out for the backing) and shall be sad when it`s all over in a couple of week`s time. QALs could become addictive.

In the meantime, there is work to be done. Here are the five completed blocks. To give you an idea of scale, they measure 12.5 inches square. I have another bordered block to do and will summon the mental and physical strength to do it tomorrow. Unlike all the other blocks, there was no room for error with this one as it came up at 12.5 inches with no room to trim.  I could barely pick up the ruler to check but phew, all was well.  Here they are.  I`m using a lilac solid for the backing.

Like me, Parisville is not a shy and retiring line of fabric. Like me, it`s big, bold and quirky. Check out the woman`s hair in block 1.  Yes, that`s a rat and I`m not good with rats.  In fact, I have a mild phobia about them. Not that that will stop me curling up under this quilt once it`s done.

Now who fancies a bundle of fabric deliciousness giveaway?  I have always prided myself on never having asked anyone to follow me but now I need 4 other followers before I can have a giveaway.  The lovely Julie at The Intrepid Thread has agreed to sponsor a giveaway should I ever reach 100 followers.  She may be a smart cookie and believes it`s just not possible. So go on..if you have stumbled on this blog and vaguely like what you see and you fancy the chance to win some lovely fabric, then follow me.  You can always de-follow me after and I promise not to hunt you down or tell Julie!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

An Elf Hat

It`s not every day you get an elf hat in the post but yesterday Zaki received one from my real life friend Elizabeth...inspiration behind Tracy`s Shadow Shot Sunday. I know Elizabeth from when she used to live here in Marrakech but now she lives in New York with her successful artist husband. Elizabeth is a prolific blogger, artist and photographer and combines both beautifully in her 3 (yes 3) blogs.  If you love dogs, check out Buster`s blog and if you love New York (who doesn`t?), check out here and here.

Ever since Zaki discovered Ben & Holly`s Little Kingdom, he has declared himself an elf. It`s a beautifully animated story of elves, fairies and insects for pre-school children (and some adults). Now he has a hat, all he needs is a trumpet.  Because that`s what elves play.  Thank you Elizabeth - Zaki loves his hat and I may just have to ask you to make me one...the colours are just perfect!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Playing the Waiting Game

Patience may be a virtue but I am not a patient person. I wish I would come in handy while waiting for my sewing machine. Looking at DHL`s tracking online, I can see that it left England on Thursday evening and whizzed through Belgium and France before arriving in Casablanca on Friday morning. Since Friday it has sat there and there has been no progress.  It is in the hands of the customs men and to get my hands on it I have to provide a paper saying that we will pay the couriers the duty when it arrives in Marrakech.  It`s a bit like signing a blank cheque as we have no idea what the customs will be until we`ve signed the paper. Hmmm.

In the meantime, the old lady is back from the menders and has been on best behavior.  Here`s what we have made together...

Fabric baskets for my swap partners in The Goodie Swap 2011.

To make these fabric baskets, I used this tutorial by the very talented Ayumi.   The tutorial was very straightforward except for when I sewed the handles into the lining!

These are not really my colours but I`m hoping my partner will like them.  The fabric is Parisville by Tula Pink.
I love this basket and would happily keep it. I used more Parisville and I think the blue and pink fabric is Amy Butler.

These are the two mug rugs that will be winging their way with the fabrics baskets to the swap partners later this week...

A wonky 9 patch using Liberty prints. I decided against the butterfly mug rug, which will stay home with me.
An unintentionally wonky bookshelf with leaner.

This afternoon I have not been drumming my fingers but belatedly cutting out the backing pieces for this quilt top. There are a gazillion pieces all in neatish piles and waiting to be sewn together.  That`ll be the old lady`s job tomorrow...hopefully her last before she heads off into the sunset to Sunnyside Retirement Home for Sewing Machines.

Linking up with Sew Modern Monday and Manic Monday.

So amazed and excited to see I have near on 100 followers...thank you to all my lovely followers and their fabulous comments that make my day!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Shadow Shot Sunday

It`s that time of the week when shadow shots are shared here.  I`ve missed Shadow Shot Sunday for a couple of weeks now and I`m keen to get back.  September is sewing month and so I`ve hardly used my camera.  I miss that too.  During the summer months I did no sewing but snapped away continuously.  Now the tables have been turned,  I seem unable to do the two together.  It`s either or.

I took this photo at the Majorelle Gardens a year or so ago.  When you come to visit..and you must, I insist, you`ll love your trip to Yves. Saint Laurent`s gardens.  They are an oasis.

The shadows are subtle but they are there.  There may even be a frog...if you look carefully.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday

These blocks below will soon be winging their way to So Sarah Sews who asked for pink and purple blocks using the garden fence pattern so that she could put them together and make quilts for two 12 and 13 year old sisters to whom her mother has been foster mum for a few years.  The other quilt will be made using a star design. You can see the other blocks here.  The whole subject of fostering and adoption is dear to my heart and I was more than happy to do my small bit.  I hope the girls love their quilts.  I think the next quilt should be for Sarah`s mum.

After completing the quilt top for the Across the Sea QAL I was feeling like I had finished my last exam.  It had been such a struggle with my machine that to say I felt elated is a bit of an understatement.

However, there was still work to be done.  Two mug rugs and two `goodies` for the Goodie Swap 2011 that Canadian Susan had twisted my arm to join.  Woefully behind and with a posting date just over a week away I set to it.  Using the same block pattern, I have completed the top for the first mug rug. It`s hand pieced using Kumari Garden.

Butterfly on the garden fence mug rug top
For reasons I won`t go into, I am less than convinced that my partner is going to like it. I have to think overnight as to whether to abandon it and go back to the drawing board or take my chances.

I have started the second mug rug top, which I hope will look like a book shelf with the last book falling over. I  am not happy with it yet but need to sew the `books` together before I decide.  I `ll see what it looks like once the `books` are joined together.

Hopefully my machine is back from the repairers today and my new machine is in the silver bird and landing soon.

If you are doing some stitching I hope the sewing gods are smiling on you.  Linking up with WiP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Playing Catch Up

Across the Sea Quilt Top in Parisville
If a bad workman blames his tools then I`m a bad workman.
Against the odds I managed today to finish piecing the top of my Across the Sea quilt top.
My late 1980s machine wasn`t in the mood. 
She had tension problems...
...which made me have tension problems.
The house was...tense.
She`s being retired.
She`s going to Sunnyside Retirement Home for Sewing Machines.
I`ve ordered a new machine.
She`s leaving England today.
Bon Voyage new machine...come quickly.

* thank you to those of you who recommended machines.  I`m going with a model recommended by lovely Flying Blind who clearly isn`t a bad workwoman and doesn`t blame her tools.  In fact, she loves her machine.  I`m sure I will too.  Thanks Hadley.

Linking up with Sew Modern Monday.

{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Chicken Kaleidoscope

As a girl, we lived in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside. From time to time we kept chickens. They had a pretty good life although there was of course the constant threat of the fox and more human poachers. We lost our chickens to both. While they were with us, they roamed free-range in our garden by day.  They were completely lovely.  I remember how exciting it was as a girl to lift the side of the chicken house and find warm eggs or a chicken `in the midst of things`.

My in-laws live in the countryside and have a biggish garden where 3 chickens scratch around.  Zaki loves to chase after them but they can easily outrun him and he never gets even close.

It`s Saturday and while over at I had a little fun with them too.

Linking up for the first time in weeks with Camera Critters here.

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Lunch Line

I spotted this formidable woman a year or so ago up in the beautifully verdant Ourika Valley, the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.  She was waiting in the sun for her lunch - a delicious tagine of chicken or meat (probably goat) and vegetables.

I love this photo and have been waiting for the right time to post it.  I am linking up with The Walk in the Street challenge after seeing it on Tatjana`s incredible blog - full of stunning black and white photography. Hop over and take a look at both blogs and see some fabulous images.

*Edited to add  that she is wearing a djelleba, which is the traditional outerwear for men and women.  I find it interesting that I didn`t mention it when I wrote the post.  I guess it`s because it now seems completely normal for me to see it.  While not every woman wears a djelleba, it is a daily sight and my mother in law would never be seen outside without one. It`s a great cover up - if you need to run out to the shops, you just throw it over whatever you are wearing in the house!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

First Day

3 year old Zaki striding out the gate this morning to pre-school
It`s Wednesday and that means linking up with other wordless posts here.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Reports of Sewing in Marrakech

I know.  It`s incredible.  I sewed today...and sewed some more and have made some progress in my Across the Sea QAL quilt top.

My blocks so far...looking very rough and ready...threads need to be cut and they also need to be squared up.  I am not looking forward to that part. I don`t have a square ruler yet so I`ll be getting the masking tape out again.  It`s already on the sewing machine so that I can do a scant quarter inch seam.  Yes, I know.  I need a new machine and when I`m next in England I`m going to buy one! Any recommendations for a mid-range machine gratefully received.

Had I been doing the baby quilt I would almost have caught up...but I`m not.  I`m doing the lap quilt so that`s another eight blocks then. As I`m a bit of a slow coach, that`s about another 3 hours.  Then I have to square up the blocks, arrange them in a lovely way, sew them together and then make the scrappy border, the white outer border, sew them to the quilt top and I`ll have caught up.  Phew. It`s been like a day at the office but a good day.  Of course, thinking aloud, I could just do the baby is probably my favourite step in the whole process. I like piecing.

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A Belated Welcome to September

Part of the lens at Portland Bill lighthouse
A big late hello to September!  I love September.  It always feels like a time to learn something new. I guess it goes back to living in London when details of all those amazing night classes would be published.  I was always enticed by languages and did try my hand at Italian one year but now all I can remember is how to say `You have brown eyes`...not so useful in Morocco as nearly everyone has brown eyes and they probably wouldn`t appreciate being told the news.

Anyway, September is officially sewing month and it`s only Day 4 and I am already behind. We went away for a few days last week and stayed in a hotel by the sea with 180 degree views along the coast.  But I was ill.  I lay in bed and looked at the view.  Upsides? Zaki spent time with his dad at the beach.  By the pool.  They had lunch together. And dinner. I languished.  Not even a decent internet connection to distract me.  In fact  it was lousy and that was mildly distracting.  Now I`m back.  I have lots to do.  And I will come by and say hello.