Sunday, 27 November 2011

Getting Picky

I have absolutely nothing to show you as I`m finishing up the quilt I`m taking with me to`s going fine now but I have been using my unpicker quite a bit but that`s just because I`m a bit picky.

I can`t tell you how I have giggled at the names you guessed for my brothers.  I don`t know who you think I am but my particular favourites are Thaddeus, Tobias, Clayton and Hubert.  Great guesses but sadly all wrong.  Anyone would think you thought I had brothers with unusual names!

Three of the names were guessed - they are Henry (Hen - the youngest), William (Will) and James (Jim).  Nicolette suggested James in the very first guess so congratulations Nicolette -  email me your details and I shall send you a small souvenir of my forthcoming visit to Paris.  It was too much fun to tell you to stop guessing but thanks to everyone who took part and a few of you suggested James.

The name that no-one guessed was my eldest brother.  Now the likes of  Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow may think they are trailblazing unusual names with the likes of Apple but back in the sixties my mum and dad had a good try at it.  My eldest brother is called Torquil which is a Scandinavian Scottish name and which apparently means Thor`s Cauldron.  The Times newspaper said it was the most unusual name given to a baby in 1964 but unfortunately they misprinted the name as Tonquil!

Hope you are having a great Sunday.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mail Round Here... like the No.33 bus. You wait days for a parcel and then 4 come along at the same time.

First up was this wonderful package from Ruth over at twohiphippos.  She mentioned the other day that she had won a hamper (yes a hamper) of porridge.  Being a foody and a big mouth, I happened to comment that we were big porridge fans in our house and she sent me this little bundle of loveliness.

Not only did Ruth send me gingerbread (squeel) porridge but 3 of her beautiful handmade linen and felt egg cozies, which have the most gorgeous vintage mother of pearl buttons on.  So that`s one each (the middle one has little buttons on so I know who`ll like that one) and we won`t have to fight over them! Thank you so so much Ruth!

Then there was this little FQ bundle of gorgeousness - Lark in the Glamour colorway, which I ordered from Julie at The Intrepid Thread.

...and all the way from Australia, my first block in the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee!

It was made by fellow Hive 1 member Wendy in my colours purple, orange and grey  - thanks Wendy!  I just love that little dog.

My mum came to my rescue again and also sent me a package of much needed thread (thank you mum!)and a new winter coat that I had ordered.  This time next week, I`m off to Paris for a couple of days - I have a special package to hand deliver to my friend Deborah.  December in Paris is pretty cold so you`ll have to wait until I`m back and I`ll show you a picture of me shivering in said new coat in front of some touristy site.

Just for a bit of fun,  the first person to correctly guess one of my four brothers` names (you can have 2 guesses each) will receive a small something from Paris. I`ll let you know who wins before I leave next Friday!

Thank you for all your lovely comments yesterday - normal cheery service has resumed!

Lastly, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends around the world - I hope you have a wonderful day with your loved ones.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Breaking a Rule

I`m breaking a self-imposed rule not to blog when feeling less than happy with the world.

I`m feeling a bit meh about things at the moment.

`Things` meaning blogging.

Someone somewhere in blogland has irritated me.  

It was bound to happen. But I won`t bore you with that.

Instead I`ll show you some photos of my Red City throw quilt bound and finished.

The fact it is slung on top of our Across the Seas quilt may give you an indication of my mood.

...and my other finish this week is my tablerunner for the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap 

..which is on its way to its new owner along with a couple of these...

...half inch square tree ornaments made using this tutorial by lovely Leanne.

I made a couple more blocks for my tramodernal quilt.  Here`s a mosaic block...

...and this is a lucky pieces block (it wasn`t so lucky for me as the seamripper came in to play on more than one occasion)...

and here`s a group shot.

Now I`m off to snap out of it.*edited to add - thanks for all your lovely comments.  I`m feeling much better and have officially snapped out of my funk!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

It`s been raining and really quite cold here all day.  It  feels like the Sundays I grew up with.  The perfect weather to get my modern Christmas tablerunner finished.  Just in time.

I really wanted to straight line the runner with echo quilting, keeping the top `clean`, but I always have to complicate matters for myself  and this time it was adding a big star to the centre of the back.  It is 16 inches square and doesn`t really line up with anything.

I thought of removing it and having a plain background but after putting a photo of it in the flikr group people seemed to like it.  So I plumped for some random free motion quilting.

The binding is Souq Screen in Sand from Moroccan Mirage by Kristian A.Howell. I appliqued a little Fatima`s Hand on the back to remind my partner that the runner was made in Morocco.

Just coming in under the wire with this one.  It`s been a fabulous swap to be involved in - the participants are incredibly talented and everyone goes beyond what is required to try and come up with a design which their partner will like.  All overseen by the lovely Susan who has been a huge support and hasn`t lost her sense of humour. I see a bright future for our Susan.

Now I just have to whip up a little ornament and this one will be mailed off.  It has a long journey ahead of it.  Or has it?

Linking up with Megan`s {Sew}Modern Monday.  Click on the button below to transport you to wonderfully creative people.
{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations

Friday, 18 November 2011

Like the Turkey, I`m Basted ..

...and at last ready for quilting.

I (and thankfully for me, a couple of others) are playing chicken with the clock (thanks Rhonda) in Susan`s Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap as the last day for posting our runner to our partner rapidly approaches. Now Susan must be extremely patient or trusting but she has been super good about those of us dragging our heels! 

As with all students late with their homework I kind of have an excuse as I`ve been waiting on fabric - specifically white backing fabric.  It was ordered ages ago and I can only think it has been caught up in the Eid postal backlog - along with some Lark fabric and fabric I ordered for The 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee.

Our mailman generally calls with packages around 2PM and as 2 o`clock came and went, I decided to see what I could find to use instead.  Finding nothing suitable and or big enough I thought I would have one last look at the back at the cupboard and hey presto, there was some lovely white fabric.  I confess that I scrunched it up and kissed it.

I pieced the Christmas trees, made a wonky star and added the scrappy border...

...then this morning, I made this big 16 inch star for the backing... sits in the centre with white either side and this is where I`m at now.

Basted and ready for quilting.  Now I just have to decide how I`m going to quilt it!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Nosey Parker in the Neighborhood - Marrakech

Today I`m linking up with Kat`s Nosey Parker in the Neighborhood so that I can give you a little taster of where I live - go on, make yourselves at home and have a good snoop around.

Question 1: About my home...

About 9 and a half years ago, we moved to Marrakech from London where I was a partner in a law firm.  A complete turn around culturally and professionally.  We came here to set up our business - a B&B in the old town.  Yes, I`m a B&B landlady! I live here with my husband Youssef and our son Zaki.

Marrakech is in the N.African country of Morocco.  It`s the second largest city in Morocco with a population of just over 1 million.  It has an old walled city (the medina) and a new one, which was established by the French protectorate.  Marrakech has mild winters and very hot summers with no rain for 4 or 5 months and has an average of 10 hours of sunshine every day. Like Kat, we do a happy dance when it rains and take photos.

The view from our old house

Marrakech depends on tourism and every year almost 10 million visitors come here often staying in traditional houses (riads).  The place on everyone`s list to visit is the main square where you can see snake charmers, magicians, soothsayers and monkeys.

Question 2: What are the houses like in my area...

We live in a residential area in the city centre and here`s a photo of our street.  The Moroccans call these houses `villas` although they are not what I would call a villa as they are not free-standing. They are typically 3 or 4 floors high with a basement and maids` quarters (garconnier) at the top of the house. Our house is to the far left of the image - you can just see our front gate.  Opposite our house you can see the local corner shop (where the red `Coka` crates are) `hanout` where you can buy pretty much everything apart from fresh meat and vegetables.

Our house is on a corner. Here`s the neighbouring street at night.

In the old walled town, the streets are a tangle of traditional courtyard houses.  The houses look deceptively ordinary from the outside but once inside the rooms face onto a courtyard garden.

Question 3: Some of my favourite places...

One of my favourite places to visit is the Majorelle Gardens.  Until recently, we lived just around the corner from it and it was a great place to take my son as it`s fairly small and he can run around.  It`s a botanical garden owned until his death by Yves Saint Laurent.  The green plants work beautifully against the cobalt blue pots and tiles.

A wander round the souqs can be fun too although it gets busy at peak times and the vendors can get hassly.  They also speak good English now and were taught naughty expressions by that cheeky Jamie Oliver when he visited a year or so ago and I don`t appreciate the call of `fish and chips` as I pass by!

If I want to escape the city for a day then one of my favourite places to visit is the old Portuguese coastal town of Essaouira, put on the map by Jimmi Hendrix and now famous for its Gnaoua festival and surfing.

...or a trip up into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains where there are blue skies, verdant hills and red earth.  One of my favourite places to stop for a drink is Richard Branson`s Kasbah Tamadot where the views from the terrace are truly stunning.

Zaki and me October 2010
Question 4: How do most people travel around the city?

Don`t get me started on transport in this city so I`ll keep it brief. Marrakech has a pollution problem.  The main form of transport is a mix of scooters, cars and petit taxis, which are plentiful and cheap.  I drive here every day and it puts me in a bad bad mood.  No exception.  On a 10 minute car journey, I find I have an average of 4 -5 near misses. Trust me - I`ve counted and I consider myself a pretty good driver who drives defensively.  A more leisurely way to travel around the city is by caleche (horse carriage).

Questions 5: Is there a type of food Marrakech is famous for?

Yes, like the rest of Morocco it`s the tagine but there is a speciality common to the area and that`s the tangia. It`s always cooked by men.  In a pot, a mixture of meat, spices, preserved lemon and garlic is placed before the pot is sealed and left to cook in the ashes of the local bakery fire. Bakeries are usually next to the local hammam as the fire heats the water for that as well!

Hope you enjoyed your nose around.  Head over to Kat`s and have a snoop around other people`s neighbourhoods!

Diary of a Flutter.Kat

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Move Over Fabric Basket...

...there`s a new goodie in town.  It`s the fabric envelope.  Look - the passports are all ready for our trip `home` next month.

I used a couple of my Pernilla`s Journey FQs and this tutorial to make a fabric envelope.  It is super easy and you can run one up quicker than it would take to eat 3 Jacob`s Crackers without drinking water.

Much much quicker. 

I wish I had thought of a fabric envelope when I was sending my scraps in The Scrappy Swap 2011 (my poor partner still hasn`t received her scraps despite them being sent over 3 weeks ago but they were in an envelope - albeit not as pretty). I am assured by the swap mama that the country she lives in is renowned for its slow mail.  But doesn`t every country have slow mail?

Happy with a pleasing result for little effort (yes, I`m a lazy good for nothin` wotzit), I made another using Loulouthi this time.

When I made the second one, I made the flap slightly deeper and it seems to sit better when closed.  If I was to use this as a passport holder, it would certainly need a fastening but that would be easy enough.

I actually popped over to In Color Order to look at the tutorial for this drawstring bag after seeing a gorgeous version here.  That could be the next little project.  Seen any good tutorials recently?

*thank you for all your lovely get well wishes yesterday - they seem to be working as I`m feeling a lot better.  I may even get back to the gym tomorrow before my fitness buddie gives up on me completely!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

What`s New Pussycat?

So what`s new pussycat? I`m still suffering with a horrible head cold, sore throat and cough and so no sewing happened over the weekend.

I did however book flights back to England over the holidays for a mammoth 4 weeks for Zaki and me!

Yesterday, I made this block...

so that it could become scrappy mates with this block...

and today,while I continued to wait for fabric to arrive, I made the trees and scrappy border for the top of my tablerunner for Susan`s swap...I know my partner likes trees and a palette of reds, greens and blues.  It still needs a star, which will be in the centre of the tablerunner. Go on.  Try and imagine it.  If the fabric doesn`t arrive tomorrow I`ll be continuing without it.  Come on postie - there`s a deadline approaching!

I also found out that I`m not only in the Do. Good Stitches Bee (which makes quilts for children in need) but I`m a quilter and so every 5 months I`ll be responsible for planning a quilt, coordinating the making of the blocks and then making up the quilt.  And if that wasn`t exciting enough, I`m in the Care hive (which provides quilts for local charities) with amongst other lovely ladies, Cindy, Kat and Karen who I hope I can call bloggy friends after meeting them through various swaps.  Win.  Win.  Win.

What`s new with you?

again, sorry if I haven`t responded to your emails or visited as much as I usually do but if I can shake off this cold I`ll be back!

Friday, 11 November 2011

She once was a lazy pinner...

...sounds like the beginning of a limerick doesn`t it?  I had big plans to get lots done today but the cold which was coming on yesterday made a full blown appearance and with family arriving this afternoon I just couldn`t do what I wanted to do. 

I needed a small project so I spent an hour or so this morning looking for a block for the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee.  I have had a pinterest account for quite a while now but it has lain mostly redundant a) because I didn`t really `get` it and b) because I kept reading how addictive it was and early signs are that this is the case.  Be careful, I may pin you!!

I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try something I wouldn`t normally do and plumped for HSTs.  The one that finally got my vote was this Blockade Block by Faith (she of The Summer Sampler Series) at Fresh Lemons.  So called because it symbolized the Union`s strategy to surround the confederacy..apparently.  I love Faith`s quilts and if you don`t know her blog it`s full of free patterns and tutorials, including one for how to piece a Y seam, which is just what I need for my Camelot blocks, which are full to bursting with Y seams!  Anyway, I love how Faith took a traditional block and made it look so contemporary.

Here`s a Blockade block made by Becky Brown after the Civil War.

Yes, it`s a Civil War block.  If you had asked me a few months ago whether I would be making a Civil War block, I would have probably said, `No!` but today I did, and here it is.

It`s a 12 inch block. I looked to Leila`s  Skill Builder Sampler QAL for how to measure HSTs so that you don`t chop your points off when you come to join your blocks - a mistake I made earlier this year when I was making a block for Ayumi`s Tokyo Quilt Festival quilts. 

I admit to being ever so slightly pleased with my points.  They used to be baaaad. One of the best things I came away with from the Across the Seas QAL (apart from my quilt) was Sarah`s tip to pin, pin and pin again and sew over your pins.  I was always a lazy pinner but since I took on board Sarah`s advice, my points while not perfect have improved and I haven`t broken a needle yet.

1001 Peeps quilt top assembled!
By blogging we learn so much from each other.  I hope one day that I`ll be giving advice rather than just taking it! What`s your tip of the day?

So I`ll stick this audition block up on flikr and hope the rest of the hive like it.  If they do, I`ll be making 5 blocks each in their colours.

Lastly, here`s a photo I took from our roof terrace today - not very 1001 Peeps is it??  Over the satellite dishes - typical of the Marrakech skyline, are the Atlas Mountains with snow-capped peaks. The recent rain we have had has turned to snow and that`s the reason why our evenings are so c c c cold!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

W.i.P Wednesday

Well that was a slightly unscheduled blogging holiday.  We`re back from a few days at the in-laws where there was an abundance of favourite aunties and cool cousins and so I took full advantage of the childcare and read some books on my kindle! What a luxury that was.

The front path at the in-laws
So now we`re back and I feel quite out of the loop both in terms of sewing and blogging.  If I haven`t been to visit you for a few days I apologize and will try and catch up soon. Promise.

So before we left, I assembled my Drunk in Central Park baby quilt for Kate and Kristie`s QAL and here it is in the beautiful sun we have had today.

One of the things on my Winter Stitching List was to learn to piece curves and while I wouldn`t say it`s quite mastered, I`m pretty pleased with how these blocks came together.

Today I set to work on making a baby boy quilt for my cousin and his partner`s baby, which is due to arrive any minute.  Did I ever mention that I work much better under pressure?  I met Jacqui when she and Daniel visited Marrakech last year.  

While she had visited Marrakech umpteen times it was my cousin`s first visit.  They were here because Jacqui was doing a sponsored trek through the Sahara for Help for Heroes. As a reminder of our fun time together I knew I wanted to use 1001 Peeps but I have been dithering over how to use the fabric to its best.  In the end I went for an `Addition` quilt (well the baby will be a new `addition` to the family) and managed to get the strips pieced.

The pale blue fabric at the bottom of the shot is Terrain
I`m hoping to finish assembling it tomorrow before adding a narrow white border and an outer scrappy border (I love scrappy borders ever since the Across the Seas QAL) as I want the quilt to be a decent size and for the baby to be able to grew in to it.

It`s an anniversary edition of W.i.P Wednesday today as it`s a year since Lee at Freshly Pieced started this great weekly link up - congratulations and thanks Lee!  So why don`t you click on the button below and say `hi` and link up something you are working on?

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced