Thursday, 29 September 2011

tentative steps into quilting...

Finally, I get to post some crafty stuff! There seem to have been so many weeks when there has been precious little time to devote to a bit of craft 'therapy' but I do have some things to show you now!

Before I do though, I just want to say thanks for the lovely comments on my last post and welcome along to some new 'faces' - very nice to meet you! I will try to answer in person when I can but thought I'd try to answer some of the questions on here in the hope that you will see them! Hope that's ok...

Regarding the sloes... its not the sloes so much that are so good but 'pickled' in gin for 3 months or more they are seriously worth talking about! At least, in my opinion... And last new year the boys came up with a particularly good cocktail which meant I had to share it!!! I think it's most unfair that foraging is such a no go thing in Australia - it's such a treat to make delicious, nearly free goodies (I count it as free as the gin was already in the cupboard...we'll gloss over the fact that if I'm going to manage more than 1 G&T between now and Christmas it has to be replaced...).

In answer to Rachelle - well, you may well do! We are just about 30 mins from Blundeston, not far from Bungay...

Penny, no I haven't ever used rowan berries - I don't think I knew you could; would be intrigued to know if anyone does as there are loads near me at the moment!

Jenni (at Baa-me Kniits) - I'm about 15 miles or so from work and main city shopping but there are lots of nice small town shops not so far. And really 15 miles is only 20 minutes unless the traffic's awful - Norfolk is still a pretty rural region, you don't have to go far before you are out 'in the sticks'!

And thanks so much Lisa - Lisa takes such beautiful photos, quite inspirational - do have a look at her blog...

So on to things I've been making!

Finally, I finished the Noro socks...

I bought this ball of Noro Kureyon yarn in mid July!!! I think this is the longest a pair of socks has taken! I'd like to say I'm really pleased with them...and I sort of am...but in spite of me trying really hard to get matching socks this time...

What is going on here?!!! It was all going so well (and I was feeling quite smug) 'til I got to the heel then the colours didn't follow in the same order! How on earth do people do it?! Alice makes such beautifully matched socks and although I am trying to convince myself it's fine that they look a bit 'rustic' I also know that when I have them on with jeans the only bit you can see is the foot and it looks like I've forgotten how to dress properly! I'll bet money I will get asked if I know I've got odd socks on!!! On the plus side - these do fit the best out of the socks I've made so far and are lovely and comfy to wear, so I may just have to wear these with shoes and a skirt so the bit that's showing is the matched bit!?! 

Another question for you expert sock knitters out there - whilst my homemade socks are very comfy and definitely not loose at the top (thanks to Penny of Baa-me Kniits for her tip about long-tail cast on - hoping the next pair will be suitable for my Mum without cutting her circulation off!) they do have a bit of a tendency to go 'baggy' by the end of the day. Any tips for snug socks?

The crochet has taken a bit of a back burner for a while - I treated myself to a book of crochet squares with the idea of learning some new stitches and patterns but I can't quite get my enthusiasm for it going. I think it's because I haven't got any really nice yarn on the go. I have some of the cheap (and bright but pretty nasty to use) Rialto cotton and lots of quite nice to use Stylecraft acrylic but that is meant to be for my big ripple blanket and I am trying not to be tempted to pinch it for other projects. I'm a bit out of love with the ripple right now - the rows are soooo long (why oh why did I think such a wide blanket was essential?!!!) so progress is very slow! I will finish it eventually...

In the meantime, and rather inspired by Karen, I am having a go at machine quilting. Years and years ago (I'm talking almost 40 years ago...!) I was completely captivated at a craft fair, as a 7 year old, by a lady who was hand piecing small hexagons into beautiful quilts and I went home and started one - which I still have, but never finished! Part of me really wants to complete it but my 7 year old stitching has, shall we say, 'character'! I still love the idea and have been gathering bits of fabric for some time with the thought of some sort of quilt making.

I spent a couple of contented hours cutting these squares and rearranging them into piles...

and stacks...

...before finally starting to put them together. I had rather underestimated the trickiness of getting squares to line up exactly - particularly with my slightly slapdash approach to seam allowances (by eye!!!) so this is far from perfect (there is a quilting lesson to be learned here methinks...when all those clever folk out there say the measuring bit is crucial, they mean it!!!).

But, all in all, I'm quite pleased with the end result...

This is the finished top piece washed through and drying on the line. I thought I'd be really good and wash it in case of any unwelcome shrinkage but this was a case of lesson no 2 in quilting! I'm definitely not going to show you the back as it is one tangled mess of frayed edges! No harm done because I had left pretty generous seam allowances but I did have to spend some tedious time trimming all the strands of frayed thread off the back!

I'm going to bind it with another strip of the red checked fabric which I hope will finish it off nicely. This is going to be for a friend of mine who is having a pretty horrible time at the moment. Circumstances are forcing her to move away from a long marriage and into an empty place which she is desperately trying to turn into a home. I thought she could do with something pretty and cheerful and made with a bit of love, so imperfections or no, this will be for her new home.

I just have the final stages to do - currently it is sitting there staring at me with the backing, batting and top all basted together. Only I have to confess to a certain amount of anxiety about the actual quilting bit... am I best to start in the centre of the quilt and work out to each side? Or start at one end and work my way across the whole thing? It might be ok when I get going but I don't want to wreck it now!! Any tips, gratefully received!

One last thing to show you - I have been trying to help this friend source furniture on the cheap and there are a couple of great sites out there with all sorts of stuff that people are trying to get rid of; gumtree and freecycle - how I could have done with these when I was trying to set up home on a shoestring 25 years ago! But very easy to get side-tracked and when I was looking for practical kids beds and cupboards I found this...

This little bureau was practically being given away and I just love it! The boys think I've gone completely barkingly old fashioned and retro (son 1 was very rude about its fat body and spindly legs!!) but I think it is quite charming and solidly made in proper wood, in the way that things just aren't now. Of course, it does mean that the room needs a serious overhaul - at the moment it is a hotch potch of a modern office like desk, piles of unsorted stuff and a bookcase overloaded with files and general toot. The plastic crates you can just see are full of photos and slides retrieved from my Nanny's house when she died which I really must go through and make sense of at some point and out of shot (believe me I had to shove a few things out of the way to get this photo!) there is a load more, mostly unused 'stuff'. I have visions of a complete sort out - perhaps a sofa bed so we can use this as a spare room, more crochet cushions and a place to read quietly... I have already made the bureau look more at home with a few bits and bobs on it and I think it will fit right in soon enough.

Apparently this had been a family possession for years and at the back of one of the little cupboards inside I found this...

This bottle of ink marked with a pre-Decimal currency price must be almost as old as I am and I presume had sat forgotten at the back of the cupboard for years! 

Will let you know when the room has had its makeover...

Til next time then, 


  1. Hi Sandra, I just love visiting you here. Your socks look amazing and all the better for non-matching in my opinion - unique to you! Thanks for your answer about the rowan berries - I'm going to look into this further and will get back to you with any info I find. My son's name is Rowan so I have a special interest! Your quilt looks amazing. I started one many years ago but it ended up in a charity shop ... unfinished ... how I wish i'd kept it now. penny

  2. Mismatched or not, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE those socks Sandra!!!
    I just love Noro yarn, even though about all I can knit is a baby blanket, and that is probably flattering myself!

  3. Can't help you with the sock problem sorry, I have never been able to pluck up the courage to have a go!
    th quilt is looking great, well done, I do everything by eye too but hey it looks great to me!
    and I love the bureau is pretty, I have one a bit like it in the hall.

  4. I think your socks look great. I am pretty sure I read on Alice's blog once that she rewinds balls and cuts bits out and rearranges so that the colours she wants are in the places she wants so that her colours match pretty closely.

    Your quilt is gorgeous. Who would have thought it was your first go (I don't count it if you were 7). I'm not into sewing, I probably would have given up after about 4 squares.

    xXx Helen


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