Monday, 10 December 2012

Busy Busy Busy!

It's all go here! After a shaky start to my Christmas preparations involving a severe fall leading to a painful case of whiplash I am up and moving and getting into the swing!

My second pattern was published in the Christmas edition of Popular Patchwork and the kits have been selling well. So far I have sold over 30 of each!

I guess this makes me a cover girl :)
It is hugely rewarding when people like your work so much that they want to buy the kits and make their own. I am delighted that people bring their versions in to show me.
This is Trisha who took my Above the Rooftops kit and made it into a Christmas sack. How brilliant is that!
There are still more kits and patterns in the pipeline as my creative brain never seems to stop!

On the Christmas gift front, I have been busy busy busy.

This quilt is made for my brother Tim after I snuck round to his house while he was at work and his girlfriend donated some if his and her old jeans. Add a pair of mine and some purple fabric and we have a quilt I think he will love.
I kept the pockets to give him somewhere to put the tv remote as he snuggles in front of the TV!!!

I have also made a quilt for his daughter Jade (aged 10) who is the only one in the family without their own quilt.

The only brief was pink and purple so I think she will be a happy little lady!

There's still one more quilt to go, plus a few bits and bobs to get finished before the big day so sleep will have to take a back seat I think!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

All change?

Well it has been a while since my last post, but there has been plenty going on around here.

On the work front our shop had it's first birthday in August which we celebrated with cake, events and the ending of our charity project (which was drawn on last Saturday raising an incredible £850 for Cambridgeshire & Huntingdon Deaf Children's Society (CHDCs) and the Papworth Trust).

On the personal front, I had my 40th birthday last week and a big black tie bash on Saturday night which was fabulous. To add to the glamour was the fact that my quilt design was published this week in British Patchwork & Quilting and a couple of subscribers got an early copy which made an appearance at my party. So my first published piece came out on my 40th! How cool is that!!?! I still haven't come down off the ceiling! More about that in a minute!

First, here are Sarah Hammond and some of the little guys from CHDCs with one of the Bee Crafty Community Quilts at the prize draw last Saturday.
They made us very welcome and the money will be received. It was a brilliant project to be involved with and it makes me feel all worm when I think of what this will mean to these kids!

So now to being 40! Zero birthdays have never been an issue for me, and though some of my friends dreaded the changing of this particular decade, I had no such qualms. I started out on my 30s full of positivity and hope, but 6 months in my husband was killed in a car accident and that pretty much stuffed up the first half of the decade. But with the help of some very special people, I exit the decade feeling stronger than ever. I own half of a growing business that is my pride and joy and that introduces me to creative fun people every day. It has also encouraged me to stretch my own creative wings, even giving me confidence to submit some of my work to magazines. The result of this new found confidence has led to my first published article that came out this week in British Patchwork & Quilting.

I think the pictures pretty much speak for themselves, but to me they represent something quite astonishing. When I look back 10 years, and see where I was, and what was to come, I really can't believe how far I have come. The ending of that decade was goodbye to the old, and all of this is hello to the new. No longer a cautionary tale of how fast things can change for the worst - this new decade is a chance to be someone new! Quilter, designer, shop impresario - anything I fancy. So I raise a glass and say 40 at last!

Monday, 23 July 2012

At last - Summer is here... for a while...

The last two days have been lovely so it has been hard to drag myself up to the sewing room and away from the garden. The pond is looking fabulous and we really enjoy be languorous around it!

However I have managed to get a bit done - with some new bags under way. This is two views of the same bag - each side is different to match your mood! This was a gift to my friend Sarah just because....

I even managed to embed a zip - which I am particularly proud of!

There may be easier ways to do it, but the instructions I found said to take the zip apart - which was fine with this zip which had a metal end thingy to prise off, but the rest of my zips have a nylon end which is glued on! Go figure!

This one has finally reached Canada, and as it was a gift I thought it was best not to share it until it had arrived! Somehow I managed to lose the picture I took, and need to rely on this photo taken upon it's arrival in Alberta. Nancy seems one happy lady as an unsolicited and unexpected gift always goes down a treat !

I have a couple more on the go, and hope to be able to sell a few nearer to Christmas - building your own new business is not the most lucrative way to spend your time and every little counts!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Olympic Torch Relay

I had to work on Tuesday night (3rd) so missed the torch passing through Peterborough. Undaunted I invited myself to a friends house in the early hours of Sunday morning to get my peek of the flame.

I had to get up at 6am to get to St Ives for the torch at 7.50am. We all braved the rain thought there was a bit of a break in the downpour just as the procession passed us by.

 This bus carried the other relay runners who had either done their bit, or were eagerly awaiting their go!

Everyone was dancing in the rain!
Here he comes!

This is the point where they passed the torch on to the next runner. So we got two for the price of one!
I am really excited about the Olympics - with tickets and having taken part in the Gift of Quilts project.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

A bit of a play!

Well the Jubilee weekend is well and truly over now, and summer seems to have been and gone, but the sewing room has been a hive of industry.

Whilst enjoying the festivities I had a go at making bags using fabric from my ever growing stash!

Bags has not really been my thing (I am not sure I have ever made one before), but after deciding I wanted to make 'something' that wasn't work related (for an upcoming class or an order), a bag seemed a sensible and achievable idea. With no access to shops over the weekend, I was forced to work through my stash, where I located rather a lot of heavy iron on interface and some infeasibly large poppers, as well as some fabulously forgotten fabric, and voilà! Two new bags!

There is a third, but it is a gift and the recipient might just see it so mums the word! I will publish once it has been received!

To finish off the bank holiday week, Paul & I took Wednesday off to attend a plant auction in Wisbech in order to populate the area around the pond. The idea is the area to the right will be a beach area (with plenty of drainage) and planted with grasses and alpines. A fine idea, except we seem to be undergoing a monsoon, and despite digging in what feels like tons of grit, my alpines are drowning!

 Well what to do? Hopefully they will survive! The rest are sheltering in the greenhouse until the rain stops and I can get out and do some more manual labour! Here's hoping the sun comes out soon.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Another class!

I had a great time teaching at Bee Crafty on Friday. A group of ladies joined us on a Stitched Landscapes class. The idea was to take a photograph, and re create it using scraps of paper, fabric, Tyvek, threads and wool, plus anything else they could think of.

The challenge is usually getting people to "free up" - many of them are used to the precise measurements required in quilting - like the 1/4 inch seam. This is more of a free form class, so I found myself saying "do it however you want to" when they asked questions like "how big should I make it?", "what colour should I do the sky?" and "Which thread should I use?". They soon got the hang of it and here are the (as yet unfinished) results:

The pictures that they chose varied, from a beach scene to a cityscape of Moscow and the results were just as varied.

I think that they will be looking at those scraps they usually throw away in a new light from now on!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A Fabulous Distraction!

Today was a red letter day! Nothing creative happened but I had one of the most amazing days.

I love my Sci Fi - and I always have. Star Trek, Dr Who, Star Wars, Torchwood... I love 'em all! I have a huge collection of audio books from Dr Who and Torchwood which I listen to as I work in my studio.

So the fact that there is a show on this weekend in Peterborough where all these shows are represented was too good to be true!

 Me & the cast of the Dr Who the Movie. Sylester McCoy was a delight!
 Excitement of excitement - All of Torchwood where there! I was leaning into John Barrowman who had his hands on my should, when Gareth put his hand on my bottom! Result - made my day!!!

Never one to miss out on a hand crafted item on any occasion, I found this fantastic Tom Baker Dr Who bear. Isn't he fabulous! I just loved him instantly.
 And there was plenty of opportunities to snuggle up to a man in uniform, even if that uniform was quite a scary one!

Well I am heading off there again tomorrow to rub shoulders with a couple of Star Trek crew members and Avon from Blake 7. What fun!!!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A small gift

Every summer for the last few years my lovely Dad has decamped to Canada to stay with his brother for a few months. Being a friendly and approachable kind of fellow he has made many friends. When two of those friends became grandparents, Dad thought "I know what would be the ideal gift - a quilt! I'll just ask my Sarah to rustle something up for my next visit". Being the dutiful daughter that I am, I readily agreed. How hard can it be, I thought? A turned 9 patch, an evenings work and weyhay... an heirloom!!

Unfortunately this is me we are talking about... so this is how the conversation went in my head...

"Turned 9 patch is a little simple, lets try something a little more interesting... I know - an I SPY quilt. 

So what shall I put in the quilt? Cats, dogs, babies, grandparents, parents... how about photos?

I have used photo fabric before - should be a doddle!"

So in the end I tried to keep it simple! Bright and cheerful once I had mastered the various elements and got my printer to play nicely!
After a bit of messing about, I got it done last week in between pond building sessions. So next was the 'how to quilt' conversation to have with myself.

Even with that one I talked myself into going all out. No stitch in the ditch for this sister! No way! Free machined heart and flowers motifs with invisible thread (something I had never used before) - which took me 3 solid days to complete. Who knew quilting could be so painful - I ache all over!

Well at least it is done now, and I (and my dear Dad) are delighted with the results. I hope Emilie and her family will be equally happy when it goes to Canada in June.

I am glad I am never one to take the easy path - It leads to some rewarding results!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Drought? What drought...?

I my last post I mentioned our holiday plans - to build a pond. I have had a lot of enquiries on how it has been going, so I thought I would share an update.

This is the state at the end of the first day - Saturday. It doesn't take long to dig through the topsoil and reach the clay, and being chilly I decide to call it a day! Like my wellies?

Sunday - a night of rain and my lovely half dug pond looks like this! Ooops! I heard there was a drought on...
A burst of sunshine on Monday morning filled us with renewed vigour, and 48 buckets of water later - and the pond is empty again. The clay was fun to work with now as the increased rainfall turned it to slop! Lovely!
 So a few hours slopping and shaping the pond - and in goes the pond liner!
So now with the aid of a few buckets of water and some bricks and tubs to weight the liner down, we just wait for rain!
 And more rain is what we got! It rained all day Tuesday so we stayed inside all toasty and I worked on a quilt.
This morning 1 1/2 tonnes of pebbles were delivered on our drive so we thought we had better get on with it today. These need to be hand sorted so that we only use round pebbles (no sharp bits to puncture that precious liner!), and washed so we didn't fill the pond with grit. Oh boy!

We started to put them in the pond and disaster! The rain on Tuesday had seeped underneath the pond liner and made it bubble up. The rain has also half filled the top of the pond, so the liner was suspended somewhere in the middle! New plan - peel back the pond liner as much as I can and use a jug to bail out the water under the lining. I emptied the jug into a bigger bucket and Pail emptied the full buckets down the drain. Talk about laborious.
So once that was done, we were back to filling the pond with pebbles!
A few hours of backbreaking work, and we are nearly there! About a million buckets of water later (or so it feels) the pond is starting to fill up.
 Yay - a pond!
So that is the end of phase 1! Next we wait for some rain to fill it up ... and then the planting begins. I want plants in the pond, as well as a bog garden to one side (using the rest of the pond liner) and then plants around the edge to soften the look (and ensure that Paul won't have to mow over pebbles).

I think we will wait a few days before we begin that lot! We both have aches in places we didn't know we had muscles, so a rest may well be on order. Tomorrow we are heading to the plant auctions in Spalding to pick up some summer colour for the new bed you can glimpse in some of the pictures. At least that means digging in soil rather than clay!

I will soon be back at work for a rest!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

What fun!

I love a good class! And one of the joys of having your own shop is that sometimes (workload permitting) you get to go on one!

The fabulous Gina Ferrari came to the shop on Friday to share her "Cords, Tassles and Beads" class on Friday. You basically create all the components and put them together in a necklace. This is mine - unfortunately the light wasn't very good so the picture isn't great, but it is purple with a splash of pink.

Being a smart arse, I made the treble tassel, and now I know how to make them I can see me making many many many more! The Tyvek beads wound with beaded wire were great fun to make and I am sure I can see many more uses for them, and the twisted cord is destined to turn up in bags and all sorts of places. So the whole class, as well as being huge fun, was a great source of inspiration!

Today is the first day of my holiday, and we have decided to stay at home and build a pond rather than go away. Being in the middle of a drought we hoped for some good weather. Obviously this has not happened, but undaunted we ploughed on (literally!). Perhaps the rain forecast for the rest of the week will save us having to fill it with buckets!

So after 2 hours digging, we have the beginning of a pond!
Still a bit to go but it has been a joy to get out the old floral wellies and get mucky! By the end of the week we will either have a pond, or a very muddy puddle!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Something and nothing!

Sometimes there is the urge to make something! Sometimes it is to make a 'nothing' - a thing that you make just for the joy of making and looking at - a piece of artistic ephemera. Other times I want to make 'something', something useful, something with a real purpose. Today has been one of those days!

I finished this "round the world" cushion for my friend's birthday gift last night for delivery on Monday, even sewing a zip in the back which I am particularly pleased with! The finished squares are an inch across and I really enjoyed the challenge of putting it together. 

I feel the urge to make a bigger one now with equally small pieces. But until I decide that it's time to say good bye to my sanity and start on that particular project, I decided to make something else functional. 
So I made my little netbook, which currently resides in my studio ready to use when the mood takes me, a fine new jacket! I used this fabulous Robert Kauffman fabric with a terrific co-ordinating blue lining and now my little box of tricks is the best dressed tech in town! 

 Once Paul saw my new snazzy laptop case, he wanted one for his camera. His colour choices are a little more muted than mine, but at least I managed to get him away from a black bag with a black lining!

So he's happy too, and I have posted the tutorial here if you fancy having a go!

So what shall I make next....?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Fame at last... kinda...

I am not a great one for having my picture taken - and even less happy having being filmed, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and get on with it! So when Just Hands On TV wanted to come to Bee Crafty and film an interview, I just had to grow a pair and get on with it! 

Valerie Nesbitt, me and Julie

The film is up and available on their website if you want to go and have a laugh (and don't count how many times I say "indeed")! You will need to register but it is part of the free content and there is lots more to see there besides us.

Julie has been on telly a lot (having been in Eldorado and The Office in her career before being part owner of Bee Crafty) and is used to it, but I found it completely terrifying. I just had to remind myself that I am talking about something I love - and that should be easy! Famous last words! But at least it is done, and we have had some lovely comments from people who have watched it and then dropped in to see us, so it can't be that bad!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Winter Silhouette

A great thing about having a shop is that you can work on your own ideas and turn them into classes!

This is one of my designs for a Christmas class called A Winter Silhouette - an appliquéd wall panel for the festive season.

 This is a close up of the free machined snowflakes and the free motion quilting.

It was great fun to make and I can't wait to share it - we just have to pick a date!