Sunday, 30 September 2007

Homework finished

I had a very constructive day! That is what happens when Hubby is away. JW and Adri (a friend of ours) went to the Nürburgring early this morning to have some fun (that means do some laps) and meet up with some other friends (talk about cars). As the weather predictions said it would be cold and rainy I decided to stay home. And boy did I get a lot done. A wise decision.
By the way if you want to know more about the Ring, visit these two sites: Ben Lovejoy's site or that of JW .

I just got a text message letting me know that the sun is shining – well I don’t care, because…
I finished my homework.
Isn’t the compass small? It is very petite. I’m really impressed with myself and love how it turned out.

Comfort shopping

Last week, when I was ill in bed, I did some online comfort shopping. It made feel a whole lot better. I placed two subscriptions for: 'Australian Country Threads' and 'Australian Country Craft & Decorating'. Can't wait to receive my first issue, this will be sometime around the end of November. Guess who will then be sitting near her post box waiting for the postman to come :)

Star quilt - it is going to be huge!

I first laid out a bed sheet. This should be large enough to arrange all the blocks, I thought. Teddy, the cat, is a little curious. I saw him thinking, this is a strange activity Helen is undertaking. This needs my inspection.

The quilt is going to be huge! I'm unable to arrange all the blocks on the bed sheet. It doesn't fit.

Remember, that I mentioned it will be 240x240 centimeters when it is complete. Silly me, thinking I could fit it on a single bed sheet.
Here are the remaining two photo's of the star quilt under construction. Charlie, the cat, seems to already like it.

Coming Wednesday I'm going to cut the borders and then I can start piecing everything together. This will take me forever!

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Tea-cosy

Do you like my tea-cosy?

Yes, it is finished. Both sides are different as you can see. Another project completed :) You can purchase the pattern at Atelier Bep

Cosy evening

Last night was a cosy evening sitting near the fire place and stitching away finishing my tea-cosy. It was so nice and warm.
Went to the GP yesterday afternoon. I have Paronychia and have all the symptoms; swelling, redness, pus collection and pain and tenderness to touching (typing hurts a little when I tap the keys with my ring finger). Have to keep on bathing my finger in Biotex and when I put on the band-aid afterwards add some iodine.
Paronychia, sounds very impressive. See what happens when you pull at a little piece of skin near your nail. I feel very stupid.
Just in case, as the weekend was starting, I got a prescription for antibiotics. I only need to start with this if the infection spreads. I think I will be ok.

This morning I had a nice little chat with my niece, Zoë. She picked up the phone. Chatting away like always. At a certain point she said ‘I’m going to bed and sleep awhile – Teddy is going with me’. Then I heard nothing…. ….. Here is me calling through the phone – asking if she could give the phone to my sister. Her answer ‘no, we are sleeping’. Again silence. What do you do then?
Zoë is 3. It is becoming quit a challenge to get my sister on the phone. Zoë is very quick in picking up the phone. This isn’t the first time I had to do some convincing before I can speak with my sister. I did eventually get her on the phone.

I’m going to work on my tea-cosy now. Have a nice Saturday.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Better

I’m feeling a lot better then the first couple of days this week. Sadly, my immune system isn’t back to normal as I now have an infected finger. A little cut has transformed my finger. It is swollen and red and I’ve even detected some puss coming out of the cut. I’ve been bathing my finger in Biotex a couple of times a day. This helps, but if the swelling and pain hasn’t gone down a little more by tomorrow morning, I think I might have to visit my local GP.
So I do feel alright again, but my body wasn’t able to fight of the little germs that were located near the cut!

Ugly little creatures

Had a long day at work and when I came home I did some catching up on my blog reading. It always amazes me how creative everyone is. Where do you find all that time? Or is it just me that makes slow progress?
Had a chat with Caroline this evening. We have a new idee for an workshop :)
The weekend is in sight. I’m always happy when it is Friday and I can start planning my weekend. Hope to catch up and finish my tea-cosy and compass.
I can also start the countdown for my holidays. As of Wednesday next week, I have one and a half weeks off work. Hum, looking forward to sleeping a little longer then usual (I can wake up around 7 instead of 5.30 am). Just lazying around! Of, the 13 days off, I only have 6 planned! Four days are reserved for a little vacation in Germany with my sister, her kids and my mum. The other two will be spend in the garden. We need to get the garden ready for winter!

Monday, 24 September 2007

I don’t feel very well

Yesterday morning I enjoyed the last rays of sun and combined this with some stitchery and making yo-yos. Here I’m sitting in the garden making some practical use of our picnic table.
I’ve also added two photos of both sides of the tea-cosy. I’m getting there :)
Using the yo-yo tool is a lot easier, then making your own yo-yos by hand. The ones made with the tool looks a lot neater too, don’t you think? The one made with tool is placed near the chicken.



Today I woke up and didn’t feel very well. I tried to get dressed to go to work but very quickly changed my mind and went back to bed. I practically slept all day. I'm sick :(
I’m feeling a little better at the moment. But I won’t practice with the sewing machine, as I had planned. I just don’t feel up to it.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

I stand corrected

In my last post I mentioned that I was going to plan a get-together end of October beginning of November to sandwich my quilt top. It is not very likely I will then be able to sandwich my top. I first have to sew all the blocks and borders together. This will take me a while. I will never be able to sew it all together in 4 weeks time. I think the sandwiching will most like take place sometime December/January I hope.
Luckily, I have some quilt friends who think with me!

Yesterday we went to Atelier Bep in Doesburg. We had a terrific time and it is a great place to have a workshop. Maybe a little cramped, as there were ten of us.
Here are some pictures of the shop.


Here are some pictures of some of us working very hard. You can see the concentration on our faces. Especially, me (I’m the one with the red cardigan).


Caroline and Jacqueline have been very creative. They took their works with them for show and tell.

Bep, also had made a nice little quilt. Don’t you just love the Christmas tree made of little yo-yo’s? I would love to make it, but I’m so busy with all my other projects.
Coming week I have every evening planned! Monday and Tuesday evening I will have to complete my homework for the machine quilt class, coming Wednesday.
Wednesday and Thursday evening I will have to cut the fabric for my compass. Giving me the week after enough time to finish, patch the compass together.

Here is my Bep-project. I started to make a tea-cosy. Had to alter the pattern a little, as my teapot is a little bigger than the pattern.



After a busy day in Doesburg, I continued working on my my tea-cosy, when I got home. I did some stitchery, made some yo-yo’s that will become my flowers. I’m getting there, but I need a little more time to finish it. Jacqueline, made her tea-cosy in only a couple of hours. How I don’t know.
Maybe I didn’t have enough time! We did have a long lunch break :) We had a hearty lunch at ‘la Fleur’ lunchroom. I also bought some Doesburg mustard at this shop, as it was more then a lunchroom alone. See all the goodies.


Walking back to Atelier Bep I saw this gnome. I just had to buy it for JW. He loves gnomes.
Saturday was very tiring day but I had a terrific time. Thank you, Jacqueline, for organizing this day.

While working on this post, Bruce Springsteen was singing in the background. His Live in Dublin CD is great. If you have time, do have a listen.

Friday, 21 September 2007

First lesson of the autumn quilt season

Finally, it was the first class of our autumn quilt course. In this course we will learn how to make compasses, paper piercing and applique. Everyone was very excited and feelings of anticipation could hardly be contained. As usual we were very chatty.
Different compasses were shown. Aagje, our teacher, showed some beautiful quilts and some not so nice. There are so many patterns. Unbelievable how many different compass patterns there are! It became quickly clear who liked the circles in the middle of some of the compass patterns shown and who didn’t. This will influence some of us in our choices of patterns. We also had to decide if we wanted to make a quilt, cushion or bag. Also we had to decide on the size of the compass.
Me, who likes the small, finely detailed things, has decided to make small compasses. The size of every compass will be 15x 15cm. Very petite! I’m taking on another challenge.
The layout and colour scheme was also discussed, as was the effect of using darker and lighter colours.
Time flu by, before we knew it, it was 10 pm. The course starts at 7.30 pm. As some of us were a little slow, as a lot had to be learned, a few of us stayed on till 10.30 pm. It was a late night!

This morning when I woke up, I knew I had made the wrong decision. I felt so tired. It was hard to go and sit behind my computer and do some work for my day job.

By the way, I finished all the blocks for my star quilt. I now only have to assemble all the blocks (arrange them in such a way that I get the optimal effect) and sew everything together to complete the quilt top. Aagje offered to help me with this stage. On the 3rd of October we have an appointment. Once the quilt top is complete, I can plan a quilting bee to assemble the quilt. I will need some help from my quilt friends. It won’t be easy to sandwich the quilt. I know which batting I will use: cotton. I won’t wash it before hand. If you don’t wash the batting till after the quilt is completely quilted it looks like it is an old, antique quilt. I like this effect. I still however need to choose the backing. Any suggestions are welcome. I think I might use the dark green fabric as backing. What do you think?

I hope to plan a get-together sometime end of October or the beginning of November. I hope that some of the crazy quilters have nothing planned so that they can help me sandwich my star quilt.

As it has been a very busy week I’m very behind on reading all my tagged blogs. What has been happening out there in Quiltland? I’m a little curious, will have to find some time tonight, to catch up with everyone.

Tomorrow, some of the crazy quilters are having an other fun day of patchwork, quilting, applique etc. We have to get up really early as we are going to Atelier Bep in Doesburg. I'll let you know what I made. Maybe I will make some photos too and show what the others did. I think it is great that Jacqueline, took the initiative to organize this day. I was also happy to read that she is also busy with Christmas preparations :).

Here is a photo of my silly lazy cats. Enjoying the sun.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Half a block to go!!

Early this morning I cut the last pieces of fabric for my last block. This afternoon I finished piecing another block together and got started on the last block for the star quilt. It looks like I will make it and have all 22 blocks finished by Thursday.
However, don’t think I am finished writing about this quilt. I then will have to get started on getting the top completed and start with the sandwiching. I’m contemplating to have someone do the sandwiching for me. I don’t have the facilities to sandwich a 2.40 x 2.40 meter quilt. I will however, quilt this quilt by hand myself. I think this will take me at least a year to finish.
In a couple of weeks, I will finally be able to use my adjustable ‘quilters wander hoop stand’.

Christmas

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day. We were extremely lucky as some weeks ago we had planned to do some planting, and as you might know, gardening is a lot more fun when the sun is shining. A couple of months ago I got a Christmas tree for my birthday. We planted it in the front garden. Sadly, it didn’t survive our summer. My parents-in-law treated me to a new one.
So off we went in the afternoon to the garden centre. I first didn’t think it would fit into my new car (a Renault Laguna). But some days luck stays on your side and besides the new Christmas tree we also took home with us two Prunus Serrolata (a Japanese Cherry tree). I seem to have a bigger car then I thought.









The Prunus need to grow a little before they will block the view of our neighbour’s window. The neighbours have these hideous yellow and green windows.
In one or two years we won’t see it anymore as we will have these beautiful blooming trees in the spring.

But back to the subject of my Christmas tree. Here you see the clear patch where the tree will be planted. My FIL shovelled this big hole and planted the tree. Doesn’t it look great?
Hopefully coming Christmas, we can put in some lights. It is really nice to come home in the dark and see the Christmas decorations alight.

Before the arrival of my PIL I pieced half of the second last block together. Got a little distracted as Caroline phoned to ask me to go along for a walk. Sadly, I had to decline the invitation. I would have loved to have come along, but I think she understood why I had to decline. Even though, she most likely thought it funny that I’m already busy with the Christmas preparations. But as some know, you can’t start early enough!!

After planting the trees we had a snack and after that the PIL went home and I got prepared for my evening out. Had a nice shower, washed my hair and after getting dressed drove down to Zeist.
I met up with some old friends. We celebrated our friendship, and that 20 years ago, we graduated and joined the nursing profession. Yes, I’m a RN, although I don’t practise anymore. I however do still work in the area of healthcare. I couldn’t imagine working in another field.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

More blocks

There have been only two things on my mind this week: my day job and blocks.
I've rushed home every day so that I can fit in about two hours of piecing a night. I've been a busy girl. Only one and a half block to go! After next wednesday I will take a break, actually I will need a break.
Do you sometimes veel the pressure? Is quilting taking over your life?
I can hardly fit in all my chores in the 24 hours I've got. I might need to prioritize more. I might even need to do a time-management course :)

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Meandering - free-motion machine quilting

Dear Readers,

Yesterday I had my first class using my new sewing machine. I hadn’t practised, as I have been pretty busy with completing my blocks (I have only 2 blocks to go!!).
So I turned up never having used the machine before!

Before I start describing how my class was, I will first let you know how I got there. It looked like I was making a big move, here I’m walking from the carpark to the quilt shop with a trolley (which contained the sewing machine), on top of the trolley my big Oilily bag which contained my sewing-box, fabrics, quilt ruler, small rotary mat and a special homemade board. Some of the ladies in the class had their partners/husbands come along to carry the stuff inside and downstairs. Little old me had to do it all by herself ;).

It was very strange to be in the quilt cellar without my usual group. I therefore decided not to sit in my usual spot. I unpacked everything and introduced myself to the other ladies.
Aagje, our teacher, helped me to fit the Open Toe Spring Foot. Then the class started!!!

Using the sewing machine to quilt is completely different to hand quilting. We are learning the free-motion technique (feeddogs dropped and using an open toe spring foot). This is a special foot that gives clear visibility when doing the free-motion quilting, very important tool.

We first practised on paper, meandering away, or at least trying too. Boy is that hard. Do you know how hard it is to get the stitches consistent in spacing and scale, keeping your hands moving at a steady pace and if that is not all, keeping steady pressure on the foot? Belief me, I need to practice, practice and practice.
This doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not one to practice! This is not a Helen trait. I can tell you, at this stage, I don’t think I will become a machine quilter. But who knows :)
Luckily for me, the other ladies were experiencing the same difficulties.

Thus, we practised and practised using more paper. And I can tell you, I’m not very steady and there is no consistency in the stitch spacing and scale, yet!.

Finally, we were allowed to try out that what we had learned, on fabric. And yes, it then became clear that I didn’t know my machine. The tread tension wasn’t quiet right and I didn’t know how to fix it. I have to bring along my manual next time so that Aagje can help me set the machine just right. Can you belief it, I forgot the manual! While I had everything else with me.

I learned a nice trick – before you start sewing, you need to pull the bobbin thread up to the surface and hold both threads, very nifty.

Learning to meander or stippling, is hard on the neck and shoulders. You have the tendency to cramp if you don’t take a break. Luckily, there were a lot of breaks in order for Aagje to explain how a technique worked or show examples. Naturally, there was also a coffee break.
The 2 ½ hours flew by.

We got homework!! I really don’t need homework at the moment. I have so many quilt related projects at the moment that I don’t know how I will find the time to do it.
We have to make 3 samples. For two samples we have to fill in the areas with squiggly lines of quilting (meander). This is not easy and very time consuming, but this way we will get some practise. For the other sample, we only need to trace the quilting motif on the fabric.

I enjoyed my first lesson, even though you might think different after reading this. And, I learned a lot too.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Blocks, and more blocks

To show the end result I took two photos of the blocks under construction. You can also see what the end result will be, as I placed the finished blocks above. I only need to piece them together.

Blocks, blocks and more blocks

Eleven people let me know that they liked the new layout. Thank you for filling in the questionnaire. I’m pretty happy with it too.
My creativity has been working fulltime and I found a new thing to explore. I’ve been looking into digital scrapbooking. A fun site to further explore this topic is: http://www.freedigitalscrapbooking.com/ . I can’t show anything yet, as I’m still figuring out how everything works :)
I hope to jazz up my blog a little more by using the scrapbook techniques.

Last couple of days have been packed with activities. Friday, we got a frameless screen wall placed in our bathroom. This way less water comes into the bathroom when we shower! I think it looks pretty cool! Thanks to the parents-in-law, as this was a gift, we can now use the downstairs bathroom (en-suite) too. Yes, our bedroom is downstairs! And, yes we have two large bathrooms, very handy, especially when we have to get up at the same time. One is upstairs and the other one downstairs. To celebrate I got some pink towels for the downstairs bathroom. Which reminds me, I have to put them into the dryer :)

Saturday I first went to the hairdressers. Then I went to the supermarket and garden centre. In the late afternoon we went to some friends for a BBQ. It was most likely the last one for this season. But I hope not, as I love BBQ’s.
It really feels like autumn. We ate indoors as it was already pretty cold. Although, I was prepared for the change in weather, having taken my body warmer and fleece jumper with me. We had a fish BBQ. This was a change from the usual, but very nice. It was great catching up with them.

Charlie, my cat, was happy that I went to the garden centre today. You can see him thinking, ''Look what I’m having!''

Today, I cut material for another two blocks. I only have to cut one more block!!! I’ve got that planned for next Sunday. I’m actually nearly there. So I’m going to finish this post and piece all the bits together now. At least I’m going to try to put another block together this afternoon/evening.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

I’ve got myself a sewing machine!!!

Yesterday I got a telephone from the store that specializes in sewing machines. No spare parts were available for the 35 year old Singer. I kind of expected that answer, so today I made the leap and bought a Husqvarna Viking Emerald 118. I think I made a wise choice. The sale nearly took me 1 ½ hours! I got instructions on how the machine works with a cup of coffee. Very nice people. Sadly the shop is closing in two weeks, as they have decided to enjoy their retirement.



As they were giving a big closing sale I also got myself a trolley. Yes, I finally found one. It was standing in the store (a little hidden) and I asked if it was for sale and for how much. I got myself a real good deal :)

Coming, Saturday and Sunday I will need to practice. The machine has so many possibilities. I also think it is wise that I know how the machine works when I turn up for my first class next Wednesday.


I can return my mum's Singer to her. I think she will be happy to have it back although she was very happy to lend it to me. It is a little sad that the Singer will not be used as much any more. I was getting a little attached to this machine. There are so many memories attached to this machine.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

New lay-out

What do think of my new lay-out? I now have three columns! I needed some help from JW to get this new lay-out. I was unable to customize the template to a three column template. Even after reading the Dummies’ Guide to Blogging! Sadly, in the conversion I lost some stuff. But I’ve practically replaced all that I have lost.
Please let me know what you think - fill in the poll.

If you have any ideas on how to improve the appearance of this weblog I would love to hear them. Leave a comment.

I also cut the fabrics for another two blocks: the ‘st. Louis star’ and the star of ‘the Middle ages’. I will piece them together coming week. At the end of this week I only have 3 blocks to go. In total the quilt will have 22 blocks of 30 cm x 30 cm and one big block of 60 cm x 60 cm. I’m nearly there!!

For those who are a little curious, I live in the middle of the Netherlands in the province of Gelderland. I live with Jan Willem, whose last name sounds very much like hubby. So although I’m not married I do have a hubby! We have two cats, Charlie and Teddy. Our house looks like an old farmhouse but is actually pretty new. It has no beams, or thatched roof but has lots of character. We both have a long commute to work, at least according to Dutch standards. My mum lives up north, as does my sister and brother-in-law with there two kids (my lovely nieces). I forgot to mention that my parents-in-law live in the east.

To visit everyone we see a lot of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is bigger then you would think as a drive up north takes about 1,5 hours and a drive to the east about an hour.
If you are still curious let me know!

What did I do Saturday....

Autumn
Yesterday was the meteorological start of a new season. It is autumn! I prefer the astronomical calendar. That leaves us another 20 days, when counting from today. To be truthful it has been feeling like autumn for a couple of days now. Some trees are starting to discolour and the heath is already showing its true colours; beautiful.
Autumn is really a very nice season, in the north of Europe, when you look at our nature.
I’ll take some photos in a couple of weeks to show the true beauty of our autumn and our area.

Darkness
When I woke up this morning I could also see that autumn is coming. At 6 am it was really dark. In another couple of weeks I will be driving in the dark to work and getting home in the dark. Around the 21st of December it usually doesn’t get light till about 8 am and gets dark around 4.30 pm. It always amazes me once we have past the 21st of December how quickly you notice that the sun slowly turns back to our side. I know, it is the earth that turns :) and the north hemisphere turns towards the sun.
Because of the vast apparent changes in seasons, I like living in Europe. Although, I do miss the weather in Sydney, Australia and I’m so jealous that the Aussies are approaching summer. Still, I know they are already worried that it will be another very dry season, with water shortages and bush fires.

Drive
Yesterday we, Matty, Joke and I, drove to Deventer. We left the highway at the Twello/Wilp and drove on the dike towards the IJssel (a river). The scenery is very picturesque. Sadly, I was driving so I have no photos to show. We crossed the river by boat = Pontje. A ‘pontje’ is a very small ferry for passengers and bikes only. We left my car at a carpark very near the river.

Meeting old colleges
On the ferry, this lady got on and after a good look, I recognized someone from a long time ago. She and I worked in the area of patient mediation. It was nice catching up. She happens to also be a quilter who now works for our national quilt association. And guess where she was going?

Coffee! We need coffee….
We all walked up to the big church where the exhibit was being held. She was allowed in to do some preparations; we had to wait outside till the exhibit opened. Yes, we were too early. We dutch-ies (I don’t think this is the right word) like our coffee. We were desperate for a drink. We walked around the church took the side roads looking for a place we could sit down to have some coffee. It seems that coffee bars, shops, etc all open around 10 am on Saturday. Here we were at 9.15 am in Deventer! After much searching we found a baker who also served coffee. See us happily drinking, and getting our daily kick of caffeine.
Yes, we also got some raison bread (krentebol) and muesli roll (mueslibol).

Entrance
At 10.10 am we stood at the entrance and paid for our ticket. Naturally we all had to go to the toilet first ;).

No photos
I only have 3 photos to show of the exhibit. We were allowed to take pictures but were not allowed to display them on a website or weblog. Sorry, these were the rules. They displayed some beautiful quilts. I took 20 photos of the one’s I really liked. After 2 ½ hours we,- I - , decided we should go home. It was becoming very crowded.
I’m glad we made an early start and were able to see the quilts in all there glory.



Yes, the exhibit was held in this large church.

Opening of the autumn quilt season
As I had to drop Matty and Joke off in Putten, we decided to quickly drop in the ‘stoffen & baby studio’. In the cellar, which is a big room, all the quilt fabrics are displayed. And, in this room we also get our lessons. Riek, has redecorated the cellar and it looks really nice, bright and roomy. I think I will feel very at home here.




Sewingmachine
Aagje (my teacher) and I discussed what I needed for the sewing machine workshop. Naturally I need a sewing machine :) I thought I could use my mum’s old Singer. After finding out what I needed I hurried home and phoned our local sewing machine specialist.

Specialist
I got some amazing service at this shop in Hardewijk. The assistant looked everywhere, opened a lot of little draws and finally decided he would phone a supplier of old Singer parts coming Tuesday, to see if this item is still available. It will most likely be very expensive the man said. JW waited in the car for ¾ of an hour! As we were illegally parked. But as I had to get my Singer to the shop, I had no other choose. I have a nice Hubby. Do you know how boring it is to wait that long! But he had the right spirit.
On the way home I did a lot of contemplating and after much discussion with JW, I have decided I will finally have to buy my 'own' sewing machine.
Money wise it isn’t the right time, but if I don’t buy it now I can’t do the course. And, I’ve be so looking forward to going to this class to learn to use the sewing machine for quilting.

Carwash
Saturday was a very full packed day of things to do. After coming home I had to wash my car and vacuum clean the interior as I’m getting a new car coming Monday. I’m glad to get rid of this car. Since I’ve got it (2nd of January 2007) I’ve had to visit the garage nearly every fortnight. Everyone raves about the quality of Volkswagen, believe me after my experience I will never choose a Touran again. Hopefully my new car will meet up to my expectations.

Finished another block!!
Yes, I’m getting there! I finished another block last night. Today I will cut the material for another two blocks. As you have read before this is a tedious and slow job. But someone has to do it :)

Happy stitching everyone.
Helen