Wednesday 30 May 2012

WOW: Quilting Bits & Pieces

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Quilting has a way of taking up room. It just has. Today I am sorting through a shelf to make more room. And it's not just the quilts, it's all the interests associated around quilting as well. This has been on my mind a lot these last few weeks as I have been trying to minimise my tools to keep them contained in my studio...and not the 'studio and around the house'. I find I can fill my studio up all too quickly, which sees me move into the kitchen area...and I think I have to get practical about what I need and don't need or we will all end up living in a quilting museum, but without the floorspace!

But this is so much harder than it sounds. In quilting, you can't apply the 'has it been used within the last 12 months?' rule for deciding whether to keep or give something away, because with quilting it's not about time exactly, it's all about intentions, and I do genuinely intend to use all my quilting tools at some later stage for some later project.

Luckily some items are easier to let go of. In theory anyway, none of these magazines have actually left my house yet. But you can see I have sorted and bagged them and they will be leaving. Yes, I am talking quilting magazines, I used to purchase several every month without fail, I even had subscriptions so I wouldn't miss a thing. Clearing out my shelves, it dawned on me that I haven't purchased a quilting a very long time. What happened? Blogging! Bogging feels (and is!) so immediate, I don't feel the need to buy magazines anymore. And when I do, I like them in digital format. I never thought I'd say that, but I actually prefer the digital version of the magazines I do still buy, as it's so much easier than clearing more shelf space.

I'd really love to know what you think,
 Do you still buy magazines? Or have blogs filled that space?

Friday 25 May 2012

Rainy Day Artisan Bread

It's been pouring with rain all day. This is quite unusual and I can't remember the last time it rained this hard. Anyway, whenever the day gets like this; cold, damp and grey - grey inside and outside, I think about my Kaffee WIP (because it's so bright and cheerful)! You knew there had to be one of these, didn't you?! It hasn't made it to WOW yet, but it's in the queueueueue....

So I pulled out my WIP stash, but it was too dark in my sewing studio to do any serious WIP work, even with all the lights blazing, so I decided to direct my energies elsewhere - into my kitchen for my monthly bread bake!

Every 4-5 weeks I bake a batch of bread and freeze it for later. Interestingly, I probably eat bread less now than I have my life before, but that doesn't change my need to have really excellent quality bread available at all times. 20 years ago, I used to knead bread and go to quite a lot of effort to produce my loaves (I still wonder where I found the time???) Then, 15 years ago, I bought a bread machine and programmed it every day to bake a fresh loaf. It was good, but it was never crusty in the way I wanted. I still think bread machines are better than store bought loaves, but now my bread machine is stored away in the garage somewhere and I haven't used it in years.

For the last 10 years I have been making my own no knead bread which is based on a fermentation method. It's actually super easy to make wonderful bread once you know how - it's nearly effortless. I keep a container in the fridge of my 'suspended' dough for weeks at a time (it improves with age), and when I want fresh bread, I simply break some away, let it rise and then bake it!

In the past when I have been asked about how I bake my bread, no one believed me! But there really isn't any secret recipe. It's very simple. So I was really pleased when I found out that "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" was published a few years ago, as now I direct everyone to read this book. The starter recipe is almost exactly the same as the one I had been using, and in fact I changed to using the one in this book.

It's the only bread making book you need.

I was going to demonstrate how I make my bread in a post, but there's really no need as the authors of the above book have listed a free starter recipe complete with pictures along the way, so it's an excellent place to start. From their website it also looks like they have published even more books on this method since I looked into it, and I think it might be gaining in popularity.

With most things in my life I have reached a point of wanting to find better ways to do things, but I always thought bread was one thing you really had to commit a lot of time to to get just right. Well, it's hard to believe, but when it comes to excellent European bread, simplification really has been the way to perfection. 

Today I made 7 rye sourdough loaves

And I'm so pleased to have made this wet day into a really productive day as it's another thing off my list. Leaving them to go cold once you've taken them out of the oven and leaving them alone
is the hardest part.

Resist if you can....I never can!

And after checking the crumb (first pic), I will let them go completely cold before slicing and wrapping them for freezing. It's fine to freeze this bread and this frozen batch is what I will use for toast for the next few months when I want instant bread on the spot. When I have an hour or more (say, for dinner), I will simply pull some wet dough from my starter in the fridge, let it rise 45 minutes (for large rolls), and then bake it for warm fresh bread to serve with soups and salads.

With the rest of my day I think I will look at my knitting WIPs, anything I don't have to really look at as it is so dreary inside.

I'd love to know what bread you like to eat best?

Wednesday 23 May 2012

WOW: Brushing the Bears

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Before his brush
It's not all about quilts you know...
Sometimes, like this morning, it's all about the bears!

after his brush
I have a family of beautiful bears that need love and attention every few months. So, like today, I take out my bear box and give all my bears a gentle brushing before packing them away again. I find they need a little handling and care to keep them looking their best.

Before I started quilting 11 years ago, I made heirloom bears from my own original patterns. And I have to say, selling them was very hard as I never wanted to part with them!

It takes time  and devotion to make a genuine heirloom bear. There's a lot of work in creating the pattern, making their faces, sewing in their eyes and noses, glossing the nose thread with beeswax and clipping their fur so that you can see their expressions. After the sewing and stuffing and creation of each bear, they develop a character and you do become attached to them!

No teddy misses out on his brushing...
Now I have a studio of bears that I have resigned myself to selling....knowing that they will be better cared for in loving homes and that it's better to have them out there being enjoyed, than kept in boxes.

The biggest problem I have had with selling them, is that they are all unique. Apart from my polar bears, I didn't make any repeats, so they all have something special about them.
not even the littlest one!

Monday 21 May 2012

Bloggers Quilt Festival Quilt! "Hydrangea"

Amy's Creative Side

Thank you Amy for another Blogger's Quilt Festival, I really enjoy this linky party and appreciate all your planning and time in organising it each time. 

Wallhanging, 18 x22"

This is a simple but favourite wall hanging of mine, I keep it in our main corridor to our bedroom so that I can enjoy it all the time. I created it freehand from a photo I had of hydrangeas in our garden. My quilts are usually large or wall hanging size, it just seems to turn out that way.

When I made this quilt, I knew I wasn't finished and that I would like more floral quilts around my home. This inspired my current Free Bom 'Forget Me Not' which is a floral wall hanging applique quilt, and, you know, flowers!!... I'm loving every moment of it.

Thank you for viewing my Quilt Festival Quilt!

Friday 18 May 2012

Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's Ladder
This is a block from Part 4 of my free 2012 Mystery BOM Forget Me Not

raw edge applique

Outlined petal details

Because this was the part 4 block of my dark background quilt, I went with vivid colours that can take the dark background. If your own background is light, you can opt for subtle shades.

Have you decided which block you are making this month?

This is a block from Part 4 of my free 2012 Mystery BOM Forget Me Not
You can download this month's block via my website or my Yahoo Bom Group

Thursday 17 May 2012

Wild Rose & Lilac Details

Wild Rose & Lilac
This is a block from Part 4 of my free 2012 Mystery BOM Forget Me Not

turn edge applique petals for the wild roses

raw edge applique lilacs
turn edge leaves

some pencil detailing on the petals

Like the previous blocks, I will be embellishing these blocks with decorative stitches at the end, when I plan my quilting. With the lilacs in this block, I am looking for tiny beads to stitch in amongst the applique so that the lilacs 'shimmer' in their cluster. How much or how little extra embellishment will vary block by block. You can keep it simple or really enjoy embellishing all the areas of small and fine detail.

Fabric selection next to my sketch and alongside my background fabric

Lilacs in deep to light hues of blue pink. Make sure that you check which side is fusible, to avoid sticking your little lilacs to your iron, this is too easy to do!

I use fusible release paper when raw edge applique cutting out.
It's great because you can re-use this paper 5 times before discarding.
I use Wonder Under brand.

This is the lilac 'shadow', it's raw edge and again, so simple. Creating the lilac backrground means that I don't have to cut so many little lilac shapes out. I was also toying with the idea of embroidering the lilacs on top of the 'shadow' fabric and if you have an embroidery machine, this is definitely an option for you. (I tried on my domestic and it didn't look effective). So I went ahead with my lilac applique.

These are my leaves waiting to be cut out

How is your Forget Me Not Block looking?

This is a block from Part 4 of my free 2012 Mystery BOM Forget Me Not
You can download this month's block via my website or my Yahoo Bom Group 

Wednesday 16 May 2012

WOW: Finding Forgotten WIPs

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Has this ever happened to you?
I have found a new WIP stash!

I'd completely forgotten about it.
I found it in a cupboard I thought I'd cleared out. 

The top is finished, and I even began quilting it before it was packed away....
I think it will have to be next on my WIP to do list, as it's so nearly done, I may as well finally finish it!

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Forget Me Not: Part 4 is Launched

This month you have the option of

Wild Rose & Lilac
Jacob's Ladder

Here are the pattern sketches. Remember, colour in your patterns before commiting to fabrics.
Stay tuned as detailed block images and working pics will be posted after WOW this week.

Also, remember to check out the Yahoo Group to see what we are all talking about over there!

Forget Me Not is my 2012 Mystery BOM

Anyone can take part.

Each monthly block is available for download via my

Monday 14 May 2012

Any Excuse for Roses

Yesterday was Mother's Day,
and whilst I'm a mother every day of the year,
it's a nice excuse for roses!

I definitely didn't need an excuse for cake... and will be resisting today.
My DH will have to finish it off!

Today I also realised that it's time for Part 4 this week!
How are you going with your Forget Me Not?

Wednesday 9 May 2012

WOW: What the Judges Thought

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Hearts Desire arrived home late yesterday afternoon. Well, the box did. I've only just found time to unpack it this morning, give HD a good shake and re-fold and take a look at what the judges thought of my quilt during assessment.

Best Feature:
"effective border frame, variety of scale in fabrics"

Areas to Improve:
" machine tension problems in quilting"

Well, I'd have to agree with that! I think it's time I had a serious re-think about my sewing machine options  as my 1950's Elna just can't keep up with my domestic quilting demands and of course, I don't have a stitch regulator.

Still, it's nice to have this quilt home, it reminds me how much I can do in a few months. Because at the moment, I have a lot of WIPs to get through and I'd really like the satisfaction of seeing them finished.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

WOW: a Paducah mention!

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Well I am delighted to have received a mention at Paducah this year! Thanks to everyone who sent through congratulations. And thanks as well to those of you who let me know in the first place, because I had no idea until you all contacted me. For some reason I haven't seen the full list of awards and winners yet (am I looking in the wrong place???). It's also been such a busy week that everything seems to have taken up my usual blogging time!

This is a quilt that really needs to be seen up close to be fully appreciated and obviously it's such an honour to take part in Paducah, let alone receive a mention too.

I can't wait to see the judges comments which I will share here when it arrives in the next few weeks.

Can you believe it, MAY already??? 

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