Saturday, 30 June 2012

In the words of Etta James....

.... at last!

This post is nothing to do with quilting, but it's big news.  Well, it is for me.  For years I've been fighting various doctors and gynaecologists to get a resolution to my 'women's troubles'. Up till now, because of my lack of children, I've met rigid resistance to doing the one thing which would resolve everything.... but leave me unable to have children.
Now, I realise I'm going out on a limb here, as this decision isn't one everyone understands.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say very few people understand, unless they know me well.  The thing is, I decided a long time ago that parenthood was not on the cards for me.  Don't get me wrong, I love children, I have nephews and nieces that I adore, and I loved having my much younger sisters to stay with me when they were girls - I could do all the fun big sister / aunty stuff and then send them home!  But due to circumstances, health problems including a very scary ectopic pregnancy, and the passing of time, it's just not been meant that children were for me, and I'm OK with that.  Let's face it, when I was 17 and having my appendix out I asked the doctor to 'take everything else' while he was in there - he told me I'd regret it in later life, but honestly I can't think of one day when I would have. 

However, over the last 6 years I have been spectacularly unsuccessful in persuading any members of the healthcare profession that I am able to make that decision, or that even if I wanted them, with my age and the health problems I have, I'd be extremely unlikely to be able to get pregnant.  

Over the last 7 months the problems have escalated to the point there they have all but destroyed my quality of life, stopped me doing things I used to love, affected my social life, and threatened to destroy our business, I have finally found a wonderful gynaecologist who understands that the ability to live any kind of life is more important than forcing me to continue with 10% of a life just because I have no kids.

So, today I was approved for a total hysterectomy, and I just have to wait for the op date - hopefully around 8 weeks.  I'm nervous, about the op and it's risks, but I'm not devastated about it's implications - far from it.  The relief I feel at the thought that there is an end in sight is immense.  And if anyone else out there is struggling with similar problems, you have my sympathy and immense understanding, and if you're still fighting to get treatment I really wish you the very best of luck, and if you don't get a resolution, ask for a second opinion. I'm very glad I did.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wait a minute Mr Postman....

I'm really busy today - got 3 events to get finalised for next week, and my desk is piled high with paperwork....

But look what just came in the post!  I am so excited, a) because I've never had a parcel from Japan before and b) because I only ordered this on Sunday evening! It's hard enough to get a first class letter within the UK in that time, let alone a bundle of gorgeousness from Japan.

So, yep that envelope was pretty exciting, but it's contents had me dancing about the office - don't worry there's no photos of that cos it's not a pretty sight....

However, this was a very pretty sight - some gorgeous Heather Ross fabrics to go with my Sherbet Pips, Walk in the Woods and other bits and pieces for a quilt I'm going to be making for our niece's 3rd birthday.  At the moment, I'm thinking Bloom for the front with an additional design element in the corners, and Heather Ross pieces for the back. I've got a couple of other fabrics I want to get for it, one of which I'm stalking an Etsy shop for, just in case there's any more destashing going on.... 

(Mind you, I very luuuurve the Sleeping Beauty print, so Miss Megan will consider herself very lucky indeed if it makes it to her quilt....)

Rapunzel, Roses, Sleeping Beauty

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Little gems....

There's a few things that have been said to me in blog comments over the past couple of days that have either made me laugh out loud, have brought back memories of happy childhood times and made me realise why I chose a certain covet of the week, or just made me think twice about the simplest things and the way they make other people feel.

So, the first one is Jan's (Isisjem) comment about having a yellow telephone like the one in Melody Miller's Ruby Star Vinyl - it made me remember that we had one too, back in times when I was much younger, still had both mum and dad, and life was very much simpler.  I can even remember the number still, which my dad taught me just in case I ever needed to answer the phone at age 4!  It was Chesterfield 78688, and it was our number till I was 14, by which time life had already changed in a way no child's should.  

Then there was the reaction from Annie about being covet of the week... well, the fabric she stocks rather than her personally!  And a designer yesterday, who I emailed asking if I could use some images of her fabric on a covet post next month, and who told be she was 'excited to be officially coveted'. I'm in awe of these people, and it's amazing to see them being made happy by my little covets!  That's made me smile again.

And then there's Susan (Canadian Abroad) who I exchanged some blog reply emails with yesterday, and who made me laugh out loud and who I hope won't mind me sharing this with you:

Susan: "I just used up my allotment of brain cells in one day which left me buggered for the rest of the week."

Me: "Welcome to my world! Every week's like that in my house! :-)"

Susan: "Someone should put the cells into one of those little pill boxes for me so I can dole them out in equal amounts through the week."

Now, how many of you would like one of these brain cell pill boxes once we get them patented..... 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Covet of the week

It's hard to know right now just what I am covetting the most, there is so much out there to be covetted!

For now, let's start with Ruby Star Vinyl by Melody Miller.  You all know how much I loved the Ruby Star Shining typewriters, and I am totally besotted with the amazing sofa that was on Melody Miller's stand at Spring Market.  And then today, into my inbox drops a newsletter from a certain online fabric shop, with news that this line is in the Coming Soon section.  I just don't know what to say!

So, now it's time to start planning what to make with it.  I saved my typewriters for something special which was eventually a 241 tote.  So whatever this gorgeousness is used for will have to be equally special.  I think it's going to be a quilt, but what pattern, that's the question.......

I also think I need to buy up a bit more of the Ruby Star Shining fabric while it's still available - can't help thinking I might regret not having more when it's gone...

All of which will no doubt make Annie very happy!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A little sewing kit

Remember these Sew Stitchy fabric pieces that Aneela kindly gave me for my birthday back in April?  Well, just before the FQ Retreat I decided I needed a sewing kit. Blogland was covered with Zakka style kits all made with greige linen (sorry, I know this is heresy, but it really doesn't do it for me and it was everywhere!) So I decided in my contrary way, to look for an alternative.

Firstly, the tutorial, and I found this one by Amy at Lots of Pink Here.  It seemed to have all the necessary and desirable bits of a sewing kit, and so I decided to cut into my Heather Ross campers fabric and make one up to take to retreat.  After about an hour I was looking for something on the top shelf in my sewing room, when an envelope fell down and hit me on the head.

Talk about a eureka moment!  This was the envelope of fabric I'd placed there for safe keeping, as I was saving the Sew Stitchy to make myself a sewing machine cover in due course. It's kamikaze leap from the shelf and assault of me between the eyes seemed to be a sign however, and with a blinding flash I realised that was just the fabric from which to make a sewing kit!  Quick aren't I??? 

So I started with the pins for the outside cover, and quilted with a lime green thread in random lines to match the random pin placement. I really enjoyed that bit - the freedom of just sewing wherever I wanted!

I then chose the chain stitch for the lining and the turquoise robins for the pockets.  The lime green french knots then offered the perfect binding.  I decided not to add the strip for thread spools, mainly because to be honest I was running out of time!  But I did add the scissors pocket and the needle book.  I used a scrap of wadding for the needls as for the life of me I couldn't find the white felt I was sure I had!

Last was the bit to make to tie it closed.  I could have made it from some of the fabric, but I realised there was something far more perfect.... 

One of the things I love about buying fabric on the internet is when it arrives tied up in a bundle with white twill tape - like a little present.  For some reason I'm sure I can't understand I seem to have quite a few of these parcels (!) and I thought if I used some of the tape it would be like opening a present every time I use the kit.  

Here's the finished article, and it did the trick a treat at Retreat, as well as causing quite a few envious glances!

I've got a couple of other bits of the fabric too, and I have two particular projects in mind for when the full line is released.  One is the afore-mentioned sewing machine cover, which I want to use the super-cute hexagon print for, and the other is a quilt for my niece's 3rd birthday....  But I can't tell you more about that yet, as that's going to be using a very special fabric in the range and I think that is still a secret at the moment.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The excitement of a new garden

In July 2007, we moved into our current house.  Remember those terrible floods we had that year?  Well, the day the heavens opened is the day we moved and I thought I would never be dry again!  Needless to say after several weeks underwater, there was not much garden wonder to behold.  But I knew the received wisdom for a new garden was to wait 12 months and see what you get.

The following year, some foliage appeared.  Looked bushy for a few months, but no flowers, and I had no idea what it was.  It died back in September time I think.

2009, it came back and with it a couple of buds.  No flowers though and again, a few months later it died off.

2010, back again and this time four buds.  They opened up into relatively small peonies and I was beside myself.  I LOVE peonies, and I happily cut them as they were weighing the stems down so much, and as soon as I did that, they died.  Ah, I thought, bad plan!

So in 2011 I bought bamboo canes and tied the stems up, so the 8 buds this time wouldn't be spoilt then they opened.  And open they did and they were gorgeous.

This year, then.... we got foliage and buds and then boy did we get rain, and I thought we'd lose it.  Then we got that little heatwave and we got more buds but I still thought we'd lose it, so I watered it.  And then, oh my, we got this beauty.  And this was the 4th flower to open, I didn't get chance to photograph the first 3 before more rain got them.  and we also have these...

I'm mesmerised by how the flowers on the same plant are differently patterned - see this one has deep pink stripes down some of the petals rather than the deep pink centre?  This year we have had some 20 buds on the peony, 16 of which have so far opened, the remainder of which are trying very hard.

But this one is my favourite and I can't help but think it's crying out to be a made into a pattern for a cushion cover.  So any of you clever sorts who can see a picture and instantly conjure up a pattern from it, give me a shout and tell me how to do that, please!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Damn Blogger

So, I've spent all flamin' afternoon trying to pretty up my blog - change my blog header to something a little more fancy etc etc etc.  It has to be said not only am I ready to throw my laptop at the wall, but I'm seriously disenchanted with Blogger, and the way you can't preview fairly major changes like a new header, nor can I find the header I changed from.  So after several hours' work, my blog now looks worse than when I started.

In the words of Queen Victoria, we are not amused.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The last hurrah!

So, where were we....

Oh yes, Sunday.  I didn't get to hang out with everyone on Saturday evening for various reasons, but I was back bright and early on Sunday morning for my foundation paper piecing class with Lynne.  Now, I have done some of this before, with the double wedding ring wall hanging I made for my sister and her new husband, and my Good Friday wrestling match with my beach scene mini.  We had a choice of 3 patterns and unknowingly I picked the 'advanced' option!  Yep, I've done it before but I'm far from advanced level.  So, double circle of flying geese it was...

Anyway, I'd chosen Countdown to Christmas for my fabric and after a really tricky initial hour trying to manipulate my brain into the backwards thinking necessary to work out how the heck* (insert own expletive here) to accomplish this method, I managed to block out everyone else and concentrate hard on getting my first 1/8th of the pattern done.  When it came to starting the second eighth, though, my brain got a bit complacent and I made more errors. In the 3 hours of the class and part of lunchtime I managed to put the two triangles together and make a quarter of the full design.
I'm determined to finish the full cushion cover before Christmas, although I may need to spend a lot of time asking Lynne for help!  Just so you can see how tricky the pattern was, here's a glimpse at one part - admittedly this picture is upside down, but don't let that conceal it's complexity:

Anyway, lunch provided a welcome chance for the grey matter to recover, and to catch up with the LMQG girls and compare notes on our morning's achievements.  After lunch was the class I was secretly looking forward to more than anything, which was wonky log cabins with none other than Quilt Dad himself, John Adams.  I loved John's tutorials when I first discovered them, they were so clear and detailed, and it's my comfort block - when I want something easy, fun and enjoyable to make, it's a wonky log cabin I turn to.  Again I used Countdown to Christmas and actually put a bit of thought into the arrangement of the fabrics rather than the more usual freestyle choosing from a big heap!
I was really pleased with how this turned out, and am looking forward to adding a solid border and quilting it ready for a jolly festive sofa in a few months!

All too soon, it was time to hit the road, cram myself into a packed tube train and head home.  It was sad to say goodbye to all the lovely people there, some of whom I didn't get anywhere near enough time to talk to.  And I cannot wait till next year and have started putting my pennies in my piggy bank to save for my ticket for 2013. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

As promised, more on the FQ Retreat

So I promised to tell you more about the weekend, and the best place to start seems to be with the brilliant name badge made for me by Kelly who is one of my fellow LMQG members. 
As anyone who reads this blog may have noticed I'm a big fan of American Jane's Pezzy Print, and Kelly came up trumps.  There was a great selection on the front, funky tube map fabric for the lanyard and wonderful Melody Millar viewfinders for the backing.

It was perfect and exactly what I would have made (if I'd had the fabric!) and I love it!  I am getting some funny looks wearing it all the time, mind.....

On arrival at the retreat we had to pick a raffle ticket and we were given a goody bag.  Now, I never win at raffles... actually I never win anything - raffles, giveaways, lottery tickets, bets on the horses... - so I nearly didn't even bother leaving the bar for the draw!  I'm so glad I did in the end as I won a jelly roll.
Cosmo Cricket's Salt Air is about to be one of my covet's of the week (yep, it's being dangerously reinstated, so my favourite fabric shop can start stalking my choices and stocking them in time for me to purchase!)so to be able to choose the circa 1934 roll was great.  I can't wait to make something with this, but it's going to be a winter project, and I have a potential recipient in mind for it....

I'll tell you more about the goody bag later - don't want you getting overloaded with jealousy! 

I took 4 classes altogether, and they were all fantastic.  Two were trying something I'd never done before - one of which I really loved and the other I will probably not be trying again.

I made this little pin cushion in the freezer paper piecing class.  It was hand sewn in my beloved pezzy, although it did have a slightly psychedelic effect.  This wasn't my favourite technique to be honest.

In the afternoon however, Aneela had the pleasure of trying to teach me and 34 more competant people, the delights of embroidery.  Reader, I loved it!  I'm so proud of my little robin, and loved the packet of flosses which Cosmo were generous enough to send to Aneela for her willing pupils.  Here's my attempt.... 

Aneela laughed when I told her I intended to make this the central square of a wonky or crazy log cabin cushion with her gorgeous Cherry Christmas range which is featured on her blog today - go and have a look, it's scrummy - Santa's laundry, snowglobes and snowman teapots, roll on July! 

Anyway, it's bedtime now, so Sunday's excitement will have to wait until tomorrow....

Monday, 4 June 2012

FQ Retreat

..... and a GREAT time was had by all!

Firstly, before I say anything else, a huge thanks has to go to the Fat Quarterly team, for the fantastic job they did this weekend.  Not only was it superbly organised, the team were soooo friendly and approachable and it really felt like we'd known them for ever. 

I nearly hyperventilated on arrival, coming face to face with John Adams, or QuiltDad as he may be better known!  John is the reason I signed up for the retreat - one of my first 'modern' attempts at quilting was a wonky log cabin cushion cover from John's tutorial.  It was the first thing I ever posted on flickr, and I think John's was one of the first comments - my first feedback from a professional!  

John's welcoming speech

Lucie Summers, designer of the fantastic Summersville range, Katy 'I'magingermonkey' Jones and Tacha Breucher were also on the reception desk with Lynne of Lily's Quilts and Brioni Greenberg loitering nearby. There were also some truly stunning quilts which had been made by the team decorating the area, but I have to confess to being so overwhelmed I didn't actually notice them till later! Somewhere amongst the throng was Kerry who was also teaching a class, and Aneela joined us later for her embroidery lesson.  

(I think I've mentioned everyone, but if I missed anyone, I'm so sorry!  And thank you, too!)

Anyway, after a quick game of people bingo which got the ice well and truly broken - 100+ women & 2 guys wandering round staring at each other's boobs in an effort to match name tags to lists...! - John opened proceedings with his welcoming speech and away we went.

Now, at this point, my brain pretty much went into shock.  I completely forgot I had a camera except at one point in the afternoon when someone reminded me to take a picture of my embroidery efforts.  And so because there was so much going on.... and there's so much to tell you ..... and I can take retrospective photos at home this evening.... I'm going to blog about the classes, the goody bag, the ironman challenge, the real pleasure of meeting other bloggers etc etc etc..... later!

I'm sorry - I hate it when bloggers do that - they've been to a brilliant event and then come back and tell you NOTHING!  But honestly?  It was fantastic, it was stimulating, it was inspirational, and if you didn't go, book next year's as soon as it becomes available.... and it was exhausting!  There was just so much to take in, and process, and enjoy, and I will share it with you..... tomorrow.