Monday, 30 December 2013

Exmoor Quilt

I wanted to show you another elephant quilt today, one that I made last Christmas, but I'm really struggling to track down my photos of it (which are probably a little limited anyway, since it was pre-blogging days). I'll keep looking, so hopefully soon...

In the meantime I'll show you another quilt. Another wool one, but in other ways very different. It's one I made for my 'craft it forward' commitments (read about the others here and here, three down now, one to go!). And it was for one of my cousins who lives in Canada, a cousin I've never met but very much hope to one day. I've always found that making a quilt for someone makes you feel more of a connection with them. I'm not quite sure why this is. Maybe it's just the time you spend making it, which so often I find is time spent thinking about the person it's for in some way, wondering whether they'll like what you're making, wondering how to make it personal for them or just thinking about memories you connect with them. I'm rambling here, but basically what I'm trying to say is that it's a lovely and very special thing to make someone a quilt and it was great to be making one for someone in my family.

I wanted to make something inspired by our beautiful surroundings here. And decided the inspiration should be the Moors which we love to visit. Here are a couple of amazing photos taken up there by my 'official' photographer - thank you, Martin!

And once the quilt was finished, it was clear I had to take it back to the Moors for a photoshoot. I went up there, with the girls as helpers, and we managed to choose a gorgeous day for it.

See how beautiful it is?
And I have to say, it was definitely the most fun I've had with any quilt photography so far! We (Venetia and I) took loads of photographs, so you'll have to put up with a fair few here. Here's the quilt:

Venetia took these for me while Maria and I held on very tightly up on the bridge, we swim in here in the Summer but I really didn't fancy having to take a dip at this time of year to retrieve a quilt being carried downstream. We got a few strange looks from dog walkers!

Often with wool quilts I like to add wool 'pennies', but that didn't feel right on this one, so I ended up adding a bit of detail by embroidering on some of the squares.

That's Maria disappearing off into the distance...

But she came back.

It was made from the usual wool blankets and quite a few jumpers.

Venetia thinks this one makes it look like a Flying Carpet!
 There are, literally, loads more photos I could put on here, but since it always takes so long to load them up, I'll stop! We decided we'd have to take a future quilt (or two!) back there for photographs sometime soon though.

Hopefully there'll be one more post for 2013 tomorrow, but since you may all have far better things to do for the next couple of days other than read blogs, I'll wish you all a very Happy New Year today as well,

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Elephant Quilt

I finished the elephant quilt, just in time, before Christmas.

Sorry, not the greatest photo, it was blowing a gale and raining at the time - we were pretty brave even peeking our noses out of the front door!
 I showed you photos of the individual elephants back here before they were pieced together. Here are a few close ups of them now they're in the quilt.

Here's the reverse applique one.

This cute little one was a late addition, he's marching across the top strip, you can just about see him in the first picture of the whole quilt. I think he might be my favourite.

The quilt was made from a mixture of blankets and jumpers/cardigans. One of the cardigans had 2 really good pockets in it, so I incorporated these into the quilt and popped an elephant patch on to each in blanket stitch. Hopefully they'll be put to good use - maybe a remote control or a phone?

And I had the perfect backing to finish it off and make it a completely recycled quilt- a duvet cover in blue and white, with elephants marching across.

With plenty left for a matching quilt bag too.

It was another fun one to make. And although it's always hard to know whether you hit someone's particular personal tastes, I do feel that I definitely hit the brief of 'blue, white and orange, with an elephant theme'!

But it did feel a little strange to be making a quilt along the same colour lines as a previous one in the Summer, I don't find that happens too often. Do you remember this one?

Back here.
They felt very different to make, and they are very different, the first didn't lead to the second or influence it in any way (the Tree Quilt was the influence really), and yet they do look, elephants aside, quite similar.

I'll be back with another quilt on Monday. See you then, Sally.

Friday, 27 December 2013

This Moment

Hoping you've all had lots of moments to pause, enjoy and remember over the holidays. In our house, all the children have enjoyed Christmas, but it's been hard to beat moments with Maria loving it. A 4 year old seems to have a way of enjoying Christmas and infecting everyone else with her joy in a very special way.

So, although I haven't been great at capturing many moments on camera over the last few days, it feels very right that these photos I did take feature Maria this week.

'Wow, this is the best day ever!'

I seem to have quite a few finished quilts in a bit of a backlog to show you. So, I think next week might be a week of quilts. Maybe starting off with the elephants, which did (just!) get finished in time, Sally.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Driftwood Christmas Trees

I was planning to post this yesterday, but I just ran out of time. Which is, typically, the story of my Christmas! One more week and I reckon I might have been all organised, maybe!

This morning I had to go and make a couple of deliveries to friends' houses. At the first house, my friend's husband was stuffing the turkey, potatoes were already peeled for tomorrow, 'pigs in blankets' were made and sitting in an oven tray for tomorrow. There was a gorgeous smell of a Christmas ham cooking and presents were all wrapped and under the tree. The second house was very similar - at least the turkey wasn't being stuffed but there was still the gorgeous ham smell, presents wrapped and children were decorating a gingerbread house. Idyllic Christmas scenes.

Then I got back to my house. A complete, muddled pigsty, no lovely smells, no presents wrapped! Aaaghhh! I've decided I'm making one New Year's Resolution this year, and one only, and it's to be organised for Christmas next year!

Anyway, back to the post. I've talked a bit about my sewing friends before, but today my wonderful, non-sewing friend, Sarah, is making an appearance. Sarah might not sew but she is extremely creative and she loves wood, especially driftwood.

(By the way, she’s the lucky one with a husband stuffing the turkey and preparing vegetables, and she also has a very creative, sewing Mum, Sandra, who makes wonderful curtains and blinds (thank you, they look lovely!), and is excellent at guiding me through lots of different functions on my new sewing machine - thank you very much, Sandra!)
Sorry, sidetracked again, back to the post. Sarah recently made herself an amazing, driftwood Christmas tree. This is something I've been wanting to do for a while. I made just a small, sort of 2D one last year.

But, especially as the new conservatory is aiming for a coastal theme, I really wanted to make something bigger and more like a proper Christmas tree for in there this year. Something just like this in fact...

This is the amazing one Sarah made. So, spurred on by her success, I set off to the best, local driftwood beach to collect wood. I had visions of a lovely walk across the sand on a crisp, sunny afternoon. Instead it was very mild, drizzly and the boys ran off to look at boats and managed to get extremely stuck in extremely, squelchy mud within seconds of us getting there.

And when I say 'extremely stuck,' I really mean extremely stuck!

I had to take off my shoes and socks, roll up my trousers and wade in there to pull them out! Getting their boots out was even harder and took quite a bit of digging.

But we did eventually manage it and cleaned up pretty well in some rockpools. It wasn't my dream walk but we still managed to have a good time and find quite a bit of wood.

Back home with it, I chopped it up into lengths to give me a nicely graduated tree and then brought it in to dry.

Yesterday I finally got round to assembling it. I'd got a long, thin metal stick from a DIY shop and I cut this to the size I wanted. I drilled holes in my 'base' and all the branches to fit the metal stick. Next it was just a matter of threading it all together, with a bit of help from one of my little helpers of course.

It didn't take long and we had it finished.

I had glued together some pieces of driftwood into a star shape to hang on the top. But stupidly I left it on the ground with the other pieces, and my little helper jumped up and down several times in excitement as the tree started coming together - my star became 2 triangles.

I did have plans to decorate it as well, but they'll have to wait till next year. For this year I think it looks great completely plain!

While I had the drill out, I decided I'd make a quick driftwood wreath too.

Lots of little pieces of driftwood with smaller holes drilled in them, to thread through some heavy duty, garden wire. Once you've got the size required, just bend the wire round as well as you can, like this...

And then wrap garden twine round and round to cover the wire and create a loop to hang it.

I've tied on some holly (wool and buttons) for mine, but you could decorate it lots of ways - stars, snowflakes, robins...

That about wraps it up for my Christmas making for this year. I'll leave you with further evidence of my friend Sarah's creativity, have a look at these beautiful paper flowers she gave me this morning...

Made from maps and sheet music, they're looking beautiful in a jar on my window sill now. Thank you!
I forgot to mention earlier that along with the food preparations well under way in her house, she's also made a table centre piece with these flowers, and name places for everyone with a flower too. I expect by now the table is all beautifully laid! Creative and organised!

Happy Christmas to everyone out there, may you all have a wonderful, joyful day tomorrow, even if, like me, you're still not ready right now!