Thursday, 30 October 2014

Incredible Quilting Adventure... An Update

Incredible Quilting Adventure
IQA Hexagons

This update is loooong over due! So... almost exactly five years ago I published my first post about patchwork and quilting... I had started an English paper pieced patchwork during that summer which I hoped to turn in to a beautiful quilt... I, rather grandly, named this project my Incredible Quilting Adventure.  Which on the surface of it (since I'm 5 years along and still haven't finished) could be seen as a poor choice, and for some time now, that is indeed how I've seen it.

But today I want to defend my younger self's choice of name to my older self...


Incredible Quilting Adventure
Rainbow Mini Hexie Baby Quilt

The quilt grew slowly at first, but pretty soon I had a nice long strip of blues, greens and pinks, and a crazy idea....  I was going to cut up white fabric and sew it back together again... just so I could lay that strip of hexagons on a bed of white and 'sprinkle' more hexagons around.  I really didn't understand what I was letting myself in for, but sometimes you just have to give it a go!

Quite often I will start a project with no clear idea of what the outcome will be, altering an aspect part way through.  With most projects the alteration can get kind of lost in the finished product, which is usually a good thing, but I love that with this quilt (and again here with this blanket)  you can really see the change and it works as part of the whole.  I love the all white parts of this quilt, and the sprinkle of coloured hexagons, they bring something that is so very different from what I expected the outcome to be, when I first chose those blue/green/pink fabrics.


Incredible Quilting Adventure
Baby Boy Quilt

In the last 5 years while the IQA has been on the go I have also made... 

A machine stitched baby boy quilt - I made a ton of mistakes had my first taste of how helpful the inhabitants of blogland can be, persevered and learnt a lot.  (Mostly that I preferred hand stitching!)...  

Two hand sewn rainbow mini hexie baby quilts - that time I knew the pitfalls of the quilting process... that wadding and backing larger than the top, and the correct machine foot are essential... 

Three and a half hand sewn, hexagon patchwork cushion covers (two as a gift, one here and the other a work in progress)  all of which just strengthened my love for EPP and it's gentle soothing rhythm....

And a hand sewn, large scale, hexagon quilt top, which is waiting for it's wadding, but has a back all ready to go!

Incredible Quilting Adventure
Large Scale Hexagon Quilt Top and Patchwork Cushion Cover

So while the IQA is not yet finished, some projects have been, and still more begun. I've tried, failed, learnt, grown and discovered.  It's been creative, crazy, cathartic, even frustrating sometimes, but always, always a whole lot of fun.

 And really what's an adventure if not a fun and crazy experience?  

After all the time and effort I've put in to hand sewing the patchwork, I want to continue the hand sewn love, and will be attempting to hand quilt it.... which is probably going to be a whole other adventure!


Incredible Quilting Adventure
The Incredible Quilting Adventure Quilt

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Enjoy any Halloween celebrations you have going on this weekend, we have Tim's parent's coming to stay, so i'm sure we will be enjoying some delicious food and getting in a beach walk or two!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Finished... #100happydays

#100happydays
Cozy evening on the sofa : : Morning Sky : : Blackfriars, home to the Knit Studio, one of my favourite places in Newcastle : : Sunrise : : Chicken & chorizo paella made by Stephen and Alba : : Ice cream and crochet : : Long cozy lunch break resting my leg and crocheting : : Sunrise over the City : : So pleased with the progress on my patchwork cushion : : The colours of Autumn for tea : : Dreaming up crafty adventures and planning blog posts : : Making brownies : : Cross stitching a row of paper dollies : : Drop of coral in the sky after a grey day : : In the patchwork zone : : Humongous bourbon biscuit : : Real paper books as a special treat : : Somerset Pomona : : Family. Food. Drink : : Early birthday cake

These are the last of my #100happydays pictures, I finished the challenge last Sunday, the last day of my 31st year... which pleased me so much... one end coinciding with another.  I had a wonderful birthday, I spent the weekend before with my family, there were 10 of us, we had some delicious food, beautiful ales & cocktails, and did a lot of catching up, laughing and chatting. On the day of my birthday, I wandered around by the coast during the day and crafted in the afternoon, before Tim came home from work to cook my traditional birthday dinner of bangers and mash.  It was a quiet day but I was pretty content with my lot.

So 100 happy days?  I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge, learning to look for and find things to be happy about every day.  Looking back over the pictures now, I have so many good memories of the last 3 months that to be honest I probably would have mostly forgotten about, had I not sought them out and snapped a picture.  Some days were hard, especially towards the end, with the fading light and a touch of nearly-there-weariness, but over all, i'm so proud that I stuck with this challenge and saw it all the way to the end.


Monday, 6 October 2014

One Little Month... September

One Little Month... September
Ripples, airplane trails, Blackpool Illuminations, fluffy clouds, tapas, necklace, Horlicks and Malteaser ice cream, sunrise, squash, bench, tasty coffee, evening cloudporn, between the cracks, morning cloudporn, my new favourite colour combination, ghost sign, Daniel Buren, little cloud, chocolate mouse cake, little posy, Newcastle Keep, sunset in Blackpool, sunrise in Newcastle, Cutting and Sticking, street art.

One Little Month is about the little (and sometimes big) things that have made me happy during the last month.

September was about so much sky gazing, being a tourist both at home and away and all about taking steps toward our future.

Some other things that made me happy were...

This post by Caylee Grey about letting go of guilt when it comes to blogging

The orange super moon, I don't have a picture, but I do have a beautiful memory!

This post by Elsie Blaha Cripe about goal setting... I have some ideas brewing!

Waking myself up on these darker mornings with some awesome music in the shower

Our super tidy house... I'm more creative when I start with a tidy space... although it might not stay that way!

I hope your September was full of wonderful little moments...


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Colour Bravery...

I love Autumn, it's my favourite season, the crisp bright days, layering up in boots and snuggly knitwear, the new season of awesome TV, my birthday (yay), and.... the opportunity to cozy up with a big pile of yarn and create...

Colour Bravery - Lola Blanket

Gah, look at those colours!  I'm half way through this blanket and I'm loving it more and more every day and I want to talk about why...

A couple of years ago I would never have considered making something this colourful, it would have made me so uncomfortable and out of control, and to be honest still does a teeny tiny bit, but I'm being BRAVE with colour, I'm embracing the philosophy of one of the most colourful people I know Laura, one of my best friends in the whole world...

"All colours go with all other colours."

That statement confused and scared the heck out of me when I first heard it.... my brain was screaming "No, no, no!!  No they don't... ugh, no!!!"  But over the years, slowly but surely, Laura has encouraged and sometimes pushed me to use more colour, and now, looking at this blanket i'm so glad she did...

I'm using Attic24's neat ripple pattern which is so super easy and hooks up beautifully, the yarn is King Cole Merino blend DK and I'm using a 6.5mm hook which is giving a nice dense fabric with a lovely drape.  It's so super cozy to snuggle up under as I crochet away, and I just find myself mesmerized by the colours.

Colour Bravery - Lola Blanket

I have 25 balls in 21 different colours, yep, TWENTY ONE different colours, this really amazes me.  What amazes me even more, is the order in which i'm using them... They are not of a small pared down colour palate, or all different shades of the same colour.  They are not next to complimentary colours from the colour wheel, or even in rainbow order, or one of the other ways i've dealt with colour before...  They are simply grabbed from one of two piles and added in... almost randomly.... RANDOMLY!  No planning, just grabbing....eeek, even just writing this is kind of exciting and scary!  The only order I imposed was to split the colours in to roughly cool and warm colours and take from alternate piles, but even that has gone out of the window at some points!

All the way through this project I have been excited and surprised by certain neighboring colour combinations, that yes, colours I would never have put together before, do actually look beautiful together... The lilac and bottle green, the bright pink and pale sage green, the pale blue and bright coral.  But something I never expected was to love love love the overall look of this blanket, but the bigger it gets, the more colours that are included  the more I do fall in love!  It's just soooo cheerful and bright and super, super COLOURFUL!  I've finally found my colour bravery!

Colour Bravery - Lola Blanket

I've decided that his blanket shall be called the Lola Blanket, in honour of the person that pushed me out of my colour comfort zone...Miss Laura May, or Lola... the queen of colour!

Are you brave with colour?  Do you have bright yellow walls or a cherry red coat?  Do you agree that all colours go together or do you have a more reserved take on colour?

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In house related news, we've chosen our estate agent and today we had the pictures taken for the internet listings.  Our house has never been so tidy!  To be honest it looks a little bare and empty in places, totally not us... there are usually piles of crafts and books laying around, utensils on the counter tops and blankets strew across the sofa, it usually looks, you know, like people live here, but if it helps sell houses then we'll hide away our things... wish us luck!

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Wishing you a week full of Autumnal colour!



Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Everyday... #100happydays

#100happydays

Goodwood special edition Pretty Nostalgic waiting on the doormat after our weekend away : : Catching up with a good friend over a dirty burger : : Happy to have my feet up after a productive evening : : Lunch prep : : Patchwork in the park over lunch : :  Reading my favourite magazine in the park : : Loving the colour of the sky on an evening walk after a busy day : : Giggling on the phone with my best friend : : Award : : Crochet, pjs and House... perfect way to end a day : : Eeyore ready to welcome our weekend guests : : Cozy happy place after a long busy day : : Friday night treat for the painters and decorators : : Tidy garden thanks to my dad and hubby : : Delighted with the work we got done on the house over our busy weekend : : Cloudporn on a lovely evening in Tynemouth celebrating a friend's birthday

Thank you for the good luck and house selling tips on my last post!  We really managed to get a lot done this past weekend, the house and garden are looking so much more fresh... it kind of amazes me that a bit of tidying and a few coats of paint have made such a difference.   All just in time too, we had a lovely chap round this evening to value the house, which was fascinating and really positive.. we need to book a few more valuations, do a touch of research and have a big conversation, but it sounds as though we're in a really good position.  Happy days indeed!

Lots of ordinary, everyday, homely pictures from the last two weeks... we've been busy, we've been at home... it's been nice.

Hoping that your days too are filled with beautiful everyday moments...

Happy Autumn...


Friday, 19 September 2014

Horlicks and Malteaser Ice Cream

Horlicks and Malteaser Ice Cream

There's a sweet little cafe, right on the sea front, near where I live, called Beaches and Cream... isn't that just a glorious name?  It's perfect if you fancy a bite to eat with friends, breakfast, brunch and lunch, all home cooked, simple, delicious food....  But my favourite part of Beaches and Cream?  The ice cream parlour, where they serve Beckleberry's ice cream.

Oh my word, one of the best North East ice cream companies there is, if not the best.... and my favourite flavour, yep, Horlicks and Malteaser!  It's devine, but unfortunately, due to the huge array of flavours Beckleberry's create, it's not always on sale, so.... I made my own to tide me over when Beaches and Cream are out...

I've used chocolate horlicks, mostly because I wasn't concentrating when I went to buy it, but shush...i'm going to act like it was my intention all along, so just forget what i said ok?!  Because, oh boy, is that stuff good, the ice cream tastes just like melted malteasers, but, you know, frozen, it's soooo rich, creamy and tasty, which is good because you don't need a lot in one go, the bonus being... a tub will last longer... Yay!

Horlicks and Malteaser Ice Cream

60g Cream cheese
Pinch salt
500ml Milk
90g Chocolate Horlicks
1tbsp Vanilla essence
3 tbsp Cornflour
250ml Cream
150g Golden caster sugar
2 tbsp Glucose
120g Malteasers

Lightly beat the cream cheese and salt together until lovely and smooth, then set aside.

Whisk just 2 tablespoons of the milk with all of the cornflour until that too is smooth, and set aside.

In a nice heavy bottomed saucepan mix the milk, cream, sugar, glucose, horlicks and vanilla. Bring the pan to boil and then turn down to a simmer for 4 minutes.

The next step is very importamt for lump free ice cream... remove your pan from the heat... very important... and whisk in the cornflour mixture.  When it's throughly incorporated, put it back on the heat and whisk for one minute until the mixture thickens slightly.

Then slowly add the milk mixture in to the cream cheese, whisking until smooth.  Put a piece of clingfilm right on top of the custard to stop it forming a skin and refrigerate over night.

The next day, set the mixture churning in an ice cream machine and while you're waiting, lightly crush about 1/2 to 2/3 of the malteasers, to leave a good mixture of crushed and whole, for a super crunchy surprise.   When the ice cream is done, empty it in to a large bowl and qickly fold through the malteasers, transfer to a freezable container and pop in the freezer.

When you're ready to tuck in, take the ice cream out of the freezer for a few minutes, to soften before you serve, and enjoy!

Horlicks and Malteaser Ice Cream

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I made this ice cream a wee while ago, (the photos have been tough to sort through, I ended up with about 30 or so usable shots from the 250+ that i took - that'll teach me to use my hubby's camera when I don't understand the settings!) and now summer is all but gone and with it the ice cream season*.   We have had a few last hurrahs lately though, a day or two of glorious sun here and there, and while Autumn is definitely on it's way (especially today), I really wanted to share something that wasn't just a photo round up today, so I've decided that this is a sort of crossover kind of ice cream... a good bye to summer but with a nod towards the anticipation of autunm...  

You know those days when you're enjoying a late summer stroll by the beach, the sun is bright but there is a slight chill in the air and you start daydreaming of curling up under a blanket with your knitting and a hot drink? Those are totally the days when you should eat this ice cream!  Yep that's where i'm going with this, trying my best to make ice cream in autumn acceptable.**  Did it work?!

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We are going to be doing a lot of getting-our-house-ready-to-sell activities this weekend, the garden will be cut back and tidied up, walls painted, boxes packed and shipped off, dust bunnies chased out from under the furniture and little fixy uppy jobs done.  It's bittersweet.

What are your plans for the weekend?




* Who am i kidding, like i don't eat ice cream all year round!?
**again see above, ice cream is acceptable aaalll of the times!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Twenty Five... #100happydays

#100happydays

Blue sky after a long lonely day : : Time spent with a best friend is always silly and happy : : Road trip : : Love you Green Man : : Van-Etten-Selfie : : Sun setting on the last day of the festival : : Nice to be home : : Broccoli and Stilton soup made by Tim : : A day of happy moments none of which have photos : : Happy mail makes for happy days : : Knits and scarves working their way in to my wardrobe again : : Happy mail from Little Bohemian Butterfly : : Wonderful afternoon at Claude's house warming : : Fab day att he beach with good friends : : The view from my childhood bedroom window : : Three shot latte : : Enjoying being safe at home after a long tiring week : : Happy afternoon of happy mail crafting : : Playing with yarn for the first time in months : : Sneaking in mid day colour with crochet at work : : A delicious meal with my family : : Loving my blanket more and more with each colour : : Touristy day spent wandering the city with my parents : : A cozy evening by the fire with good friends and fine wine : : Blackpool day trip with the best of friends

Twenty seven days in twenty five pictures... we had a visitor from Scotland, a weekend in Wales, boxes to pack, a party to attend, visitors from Birmingham, a trip to Essex via Yorkshire, a birthday to celebrate, more boxes to pack, visitors from Yorkshire and a trip to Lancashire...

We also had to say goodbye to a family member, I struggled over knowing where to write about this, if at all, and while it may seem strange to mention it here in an update on a challenge about finding happiness, I think that this is the perfect place.  We only recognise and appreciate the good times when we've experienced the sad.

Betty was a wonderful lady, warm, kind, full of laughter and interesting stories, and so creative... she had an eye for colour and design and amongst other artistic talents was an amazing potter, tailoress, and photographer... maybe if she'd know about this project she would have enjoyed taking part just as much as I am.  She will be missed.

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I love this mosaic... the way it fades from cool blues in the top left, through earthy tones to warm pinks in the bottom right... the way big events and every day happy moments are all covered.  And while I will not have 100 pictures from 100 days when I reach the end of this challenge, seeing so many pictures together like this, I'm thinking that a framed collage might be making it's way on to my wall when I'm done... a beautiful reminder of a time when I chose to recognise the happy.

I hope you've all had a nice relaxing sunday and are ready for the week ahead...