A sign-off to 2010

This last week has been a lesson in never committing to blog things you're hoping for. For example, I may have expressed a wish not long ago to get a few things done in time for Christmas. I may have mentioned a desire 'for good monkey health and fair weather'. It's at this point I should've loaded up a two bore and taken aim at my toes. Poor Miss Marmoset has had a shocker of a week, it took four days to get her temperature under 40C, coughing, sick, whimpering, only sleeping for three broken hours a night etc etc. Still at least we got her seen by the out of hours doctors before the snow arrived. Lots of it, big fat livestock sized clumps falling from the sky. In a way it's sad, this is the first year that the lovely Kiwi has got fed up of snow. Being brought up on the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand's South Island, he's no stranger to cold weather, but actual on the ground snow was a novelty for him when he first moved here. It's only in the last few years that it seems to have made at least one appearance every winter and now he's over it. I find it a bit sad really, I loved teasing him about his excitement, I imagine this is how it'll feel when the children don't believe in Father Christmas anymore. In future of course I'll never make any mention of either health or weather matters. I clearly have a lot more negative energy than I realised.
 
Anyhow, Miss Marmoset rallied bravely, her antibiotics kicked in and temperature returned to normal. School broke up and finally the opportunity to finish my last little quilt of the year arrived. It's only 35" by 35" but that should be a good blanket/playmat size. The front is a nine-patch made from an Moda Odyssea charm pack. The backing is blue gingham and bound with a chocolate cotton. I quilted it with a wiggly line as written about on the Fat Quarterly blog. By the way, if you're a quilter and you haven't read Fat Quarterly yet, I thoroughly recommend it. It's an ezine that gets emailed to you once you've paid for it. I love the fresh, modern projects and the fact that it's great reference material that doesn't take up space in my already cramped quarters. I hope that newby baby Joe enjoys his little quilt, as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
 
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog. Posterous tells me that nearly there have been 1900 views since I started writing a few months ago. Hopefully, that isn't all my Mum. Please do say hello and leave a comment, especially if you also have a blog, I'd love to know you all better!
 
I'll sign off for 2010 now so I'll wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you all in January – my very best wishes of the season to you.
Thanks for reading,
Helenx

Heirlooms

That sounds rather grand doesn't it? I am not from a family that has Chippendale furniture and Turner paintings to hand down. There is no Cash in our Attics, not least because no one in my family has an attic, although we have managed a motley assemblage of lofts.
So when things are considered good enough to be handed down to future generations they become that much more precious, don't you think? Take for example the table coverings in the pictures below (or above, I seemingly have no control over where Posterous puts things). They were embroidered by my Great-Aunts, in Birmingham during World War II. When I mean during the war I mean it quite literally, these were the things they took into the air-raid shelters to distract themselves with whilst the Luftwaffe went about its terrible business above. Funnily enough with the revival of interest in 30s and 40s textiles you could find things like these in the shops, and I probably wouldn't be interested, but I love these table cloths more than seems appropriate for soft furnishings. They're a reminder that women in my family have been trying to tart-up their living space economically for a long time. They're a reminder that fashion may come and go but creative skills are eternal. They remind me to be braver with colour choices (burgundy and orange baskets? Well no I wouldn't normally either, but I love the combination here). Most of all they remind that when I'm stitching late at night, cursing my clumsiness, trying to hit an impossible-to-meet self-imposed deadline, stressing myself out and forgetting to breathe whilst using the sewing machine, that this is what crafting under pressure really looks like. And maybe I should wind my head in a bit.
 
The lovely russet chenille I have used as background in a few photos belonged to one of my Great-Grandmother's, as did my wedding ring. The boxers knuckles come from my Mum's family and are a reminder that I can order all the chai-lattes I like, but I'll only ever be a generation or two away from domestic servitude and genuine, grinding, ruddy hard work.
 
Thanks for reading,
Helenx

The Never Ending Story

Remember Limahl, little fella, funny hair, not Richard Hammond? I had his 80s classic pounding round my head today. I have started the big pre-Christmas clear up. Where I essentially get three boxes of Christmas decs down from the loft and put six boxes of detritus in their place. In the course of the sort out I found this work in progress. I must’ve started this about ten years ago. I had treated myself to a book of quilt designs, blissfully unaware that they were rotary cutting designs; then convinced I could recreate them with paper-piecing. To be fair, you can recreate them in paper-piecing but what started as a labour of love turned into a labour of sort of liking, then annoyance then total indifference. That’s when it was folded up and squirreled away until a few weeks ago when I found it during a stash reordering session.  So what to do with it now? I have plenty of blocks left in various states of completion but I’m lacking the will to finish it. My taste in quilts has changed since this was started, this isn’t the kind of thing I’d want to make anymore. Normally I love hand piecing, but I’m feeling a bit defeated by this quilt. It’s already been 10 years in the making and looks like it will remain- the never ending storeeeeeeee-ahhahhhaahh

Showing swifter progress is this little quilt being put together for a friends new baby boy. The top went together in a day, I’m planning to back with a blue gingham and bind with a chocolate brown cotton. I’d really like to get this done as a Christmas pressie so am hoping for good monkey health and fair weather in the last week of term. Hope all your Christmas preparations are going well and the cold isn’t biting your toes too hard.

Thanks for reading,
Helenx

‘Tis the season

Img_8007

I love this time of year, love it, love it. After a dirge of an autumn, which I will dwell on no longer or have to change the name of this blog, I'm even more up for Christmas than ever. I think the early snow has brought it into clearer focus than usual, it's also brought the monkeys into clearer focus than usual due to the closure of schools and nursery for a few days. It's been mainly fun but I think we'll all be glad for a return to the usual routine next week. Not least because the house is in a shocking state with us all being cooped up in it and I always feel the need of a good pre-Christmas clear-out before pine needles and random bits of neon plastic threaten to take over entirely.
 
There has been a bit of sewing, some nice little bits and pieces. It's always good after completion of a quilt to do some little projects, I think of them as palate cleansers before starting another quilt. So, this week, inspired by Scrapiana's lovely blog, I tackled these little woolly tree decorations. The wool is a very hot-washed and tumble-dried cardigan picked up in a charity shop earlier this year; the buttons have come from various shirts picked apart over the years; a little bit of Christmas ribbon and some blanket-stitching with perle cotton. They're stuffed with some lavender I had knocking around, although I quite fancy bashing up some festive smelling pot-pourri next time for an extra-Christmassy touch. I knew they were a success when Miss Marmoset snaffled them up early in the week. It took three days for them to turn up unscathed behind the armchair (one of her favourite hidey-places). The tree and decs won't actually go up until next weekend when the monkeys and their Mum may well be beside themselves and incoherent with Christmas excitement. It is the most wonderful time of the year after all!
 
Thanks for reading,
Helenx