Thursday, 17 August 2017

Happy Sad!

It was a happy sad week last week and I'm only starting to come around to myself again this week now.  We had the awfulness of sending Wilbur to sleep and then I left straight away, for the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, with friends from the Irish Patchwork Society.

A tired looking me posing in front of The Rainbow Rose I designed for the MQI group QAL and quilted by the amazing Tomomi McElwee @ Slaney Handcraft.  We submitted it as a 2 person quilt and it was chosen to represent Ireland in the European Quilt Association gallery called Diversity.
Not having a goods nights sleep since the Thursday before, I was not really in the form for a road trip but I wasn't going to let anyone down and stay home feeling sorry for myself.  Gordon had the week off and stayed around the house spending time with Maggie and Charly, so I didn't have to worry about the two furballs and them missing Wilbur. I knew they'd be distracted by having one of their humans around all the time.   The trip was worth it and I would have enjoyed it better if it had been any other week.  I took over 200 photos and bought some interesting bits and pieces and will share them with you in the next post!

For now, I thought I'd show you some of the process of blocking this quilt and the amazing quilting that Tomomi did for it.  There was quite a bit of preparation involved getting this quilt ready for exhibition.  First I had to wash it, as the blue water erasable marker didn't come out of all the white with just spritzing.  I wasn't going to put this gorgeous thing into the washing machine with out cleaning the machine first, so 2 bottles of Dettol washine machine cleaner and 2 rinse cycles later, I cleaned out the rubber seal on the door and found coins, hair pins, SD and usb sticks!  Then I took a deep breath and popped it into a cold wash with 6-7 colour catchers.

With all the strong colour in this I had a suspicion the red would run but it didn't.  The only thing the colour catcher picked up was the green from the extra wide backing fabric.  That surprised me as I was not expecting that to run at all!  Still the quilt itself was perfect so onto the blocking step!

As we don't have carpets in our house (only on the hall stairs!), I needed something to be able to pin the quilt to, to stretch it out while wet.  I bought 4 packs of these kids playmats from Argos, moved all the furniture and set to smoothing the quilt out and pining every 2 inches or so, all around the quilt, with sturdy glass head pins.  I used a ruler to measure out from one of the seams all the way around with the same measurement to make sure I got the star square and pinned in place.

It took over 2 days to dry and the green blues section was a bit puffy, so I got the steam iron out and hovered over those sections using steam to make them lie flat and a few extra pins, to get the seam straight on.  I think it worked quite well. It certainly made the trimming process that bit easier having a flat straight quilt!

The only thing that was a bother was this room could not be used for the 2 1/2 days.  No dogs allowed and this is normally where they play and spend time with us in the evenings.  They were not impressed and wanted in!  Gordon also had to skip the TV as this is where the telly is.  He happily made do with 4 library books!

Being an animal lover Tomomi added in lots of Irish wildlife to the quilting and I love her to bits for it.  I told her to give it the Tomomi treatment with no help at all for quilting ideas and she certainly did that in spades and came up with so many beautiful motifs.  The quilting makes this quilt and is the reason it got chosen for Birmingham.  You have to look at the back to see the quilting properly and here are some of the animals found in the quilt.


And my favourite!  A Basset Hound that I thinks is the spitting image of our puppy Maggie.
It was hard at times last week being away.  There were times I wanted to just go home and times when I was completely distracted immersed in sewing talk and quilty inspiration.  A happy sad week!
Losing Wilbur was incredibly sad but happy that we had him for as long as did.  He was tons of fun and gave us many laugh out loud moments and many more quiet contented moments.  I found this photo of our holiday last year with us all walking the beach.  It makes me sad that we are all moving on without Wilbur but we are not leaving him behind.  Like me following on at the rear taking photos and letting him take his time, I'm carrying the happy memories with me.  And now I have Maggie in quilt form too!  So, so happy I didn't try and quilt this one myself and let Tomomi do her thing instead. So Happy Sad, but more happy than sad!  Can't ask for more than that.

Linking up with the Friday finishes!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Goodbye Wilbur!

Yesterday morning we had to say goodbye to Wilbur.  Crikey even writing those words is hard.

We knew this was coming as he was 11 yr 1month and epileptic.  The seizures we had been managing for the last 2 years finally got the better of us and over the weekend he went into a state of continuous seizure and emergency treatment at first seemed to stabilise him wasn't enough.

It's always hard saying goodbye to a dog and Wilbur was our second Basset and third dog we had to send on his way - there is no getting used to it and I now understand for the first time why people say never again.

It hurts and will hurt for a while but I would not trade the 4yrs 5months of his life that he spent with us since we rescued him from Ash Animal Rescue.

He had a big personality and was tons of fun and I'll miss him.

Pets on Quilts 2017So this year we are taking a break from pets on quilts which starts tomorrow over on Lilypad quilting. 

Wilbur always managed to steal the show and we had tons of fun making a special photo shoot with the dogs. It gave us some of my favourite photos of him. 

Please visit the other quilters celebrating their furry friends.

Goodbye pal, thanks for the slobber, the chewed up sofa, half eaten laundry, the thousands of cuddles,  warm welcomes and wagging tail, happy memories and lots of love.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Ta-da : a Rainbow Finish at last!

You might remember I showed you this on the design wall last March?

It's my take on Rachel Hauser's Bottled Rainbow quilt.  I made it as a sample for a ticker tape workshop I was doing with the Cork and Dublin branches of the IPS,  I completed the centre section fairly fast to show the concepts and had orange, yellow/gold and chartreuse panels made.  Only this past weekend did I get around to finishing it and get it off the design wall and ticked off the to do list! Better late than never!

I quilted the little pieces directly on to the top and wadding and as Rachel suggested used a wide seam to sew the blocks together.  Pressed open it's not too bulky and all looks good from the front!

I did make a mistake in the backing fabric though!  I had just enough of this lovely music scale fabric from Ikea to cover the back and was looking for an excuse to use it really and didn't stop to think.

The pressed open seams can be seen through it!  Doh!  After sewing it down all the way around right sides together and turned it out like a bag I haven't the heart to un pick it all through the wadding so I am living with it! 

This is a quilt I made that served a specific purpose and will look lovely and bright in our living room throughout the winter months when the light is low in the sky so I can ignore the mistake and use it happily (and not look too closely at the back!)

As soon as I had it all sewn and stitched in the ditch to hold the backing to the quilt, I was eager to take a photo and call it done, so I dragged Gordon outside to hold it up for me.  He did question if there was enough light and I said - yes there's tons of it, come on and give me a hand!

Of course, he was right!  The setting sun did mean it was pretty dark and the dogs radar picked up it was evening walk time and they would not budge from the front gate.  Charly on alert, always guarding.  Maggie and Wilbur oblivious, trying to magically open the gate with their thoughts!

Maggie is bigger than Wilbur now at 1 year old.  She used to fit through those bars when we got her as a puppy!  She was the runt of the litter and smaller than her siblings and somehow now is on the tall side for a Basset.

Still low light and all, this one's done!  Onto the next UFO... after we walk dogs that is!

Monday, 10 July 2017


Every two years the Irish Patchwork Society and the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild have a co-exhibition called Hands Across the Border.  This year the theme was Aurora and being chairperson of the IPS I had to make a speech! 

Some people are naturally good at public speaking, some people would rather run 10 miles than stand up in front of family and friends and talk!  I find myself somewhere in between, nervous and over preparing in the run up to the thing but then a let's get it done attitude seems to win out and blink, it's over and I'm asking myself what was all the fuss about - until the next time!

It was fun to see all the interpretations of Aurora:  Roman goddess of the dawn,  in Ireand she is Brigid, also a Disney Princess Sleeping Beauty, Northern & Southern Lights (Aurora Borealis and Australis) and even the Dawn Chorus of birds that somehow in our neighbourhood start singing an hour before dawn, which these days is about 4am!

The venue was amazing, right in the centre of Dublin called the CHQ Building.  2 walls for hanging and 2 glass walls so the passer's by could see all our work, filling the space with colour!

While they were all beautiful the three that stood our for me were these by Tomomi McElwee, Ethelda Ellis and Olena Pugachova.  Forgive the exposures I have it set so you cans see the amazing quilting and detail in all three.
Tomomi McElwee
Ethelda Ellis
Olena Pugachova
 The exhibition was shown in Lisburn as well as Dublin and ended last week so I hope if you didn't get to see it in person you enjoyed this little bit of it!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Long days of summer!

The Thriver podcast caught my eye last week with the text  "If you try to do everything all at the same time, all you are doing is setting yourself up for a burn out".  That stuck with me as it resonated a bit with how I'd been feeling this year, with so much going on.  If you haven't listened to Jess Van Den's podcasts on running a creative business before you can find them here.  I like them a lot!

Finally decided on fabric for #RinALong
Didn't like the background fabric so much after the cutting...
Turned it over and prefer the less contrasty back!  This is as far as I have gotten...
So what have I been trying to do all at the same time?

I haven't been able to keep up with my once to twice weekly blog updates and that's ok.  I've not been able to join in some of my favourite blogs Quilt-A-Longs or have fallen behind very quickly to those I have started.  That's not OK but I am forgiving myself for it.

I fell behind and caught up with Bee blocks - so all good there!

I don't normally press seams open but that's what was requested - these pins helped with the points.

Reading lots of blog posts but struggling to leave comments from my phone.  Not good.  Upgraded the computer so can do better on that front!  Managed to get everything done for the quilt exhibitions I had committed to.  Would pat myself on the back but self praise is no praise as I went and misplaced my SD card, with all the exhibition photos on it and turned the house upside down looking for it - found it this morning next to the alarm clock(?) So I will have lots to share with you over the next few weeks!

Finished up on one branch committee - another year and a bit to go on the second!  Working on a new membership website for the group and also finally getting a website ready for myself - more on that later!

Wrote up Kenny the Koala in 2 sizes and he is with very generous pattern testers at the moment - watch this space for the pattern release!

Swirly quilting to look a bit like fur - asked for help on IG for the background and settled on hearts.
Couldn't resist adding daisies to his bow tie - he is a very cheerful Koala after all!

Even took a break to paint some garden furniture in the evenings after work when we had glorious sunshine.  Back to it's rainy normal self now that the Tennis is about to start in Wimbledon...
Bought new rugs (finally found nice ones that can be washed - needed on account of the puppy who is now 1 year old.  Basset Hounds are hard to train but we are pretty much there now barring any mishaps where we don't take her out in time!)  Picked out wall paper for one wall in the box room and am working on convincing Gordon we could do with some in the front section of the hall!

Basset Hound pincushion I got from Maya on a swap last year!
Was asked to submit an idea for a class and came up with two and a third floating around my head!  Prepared and did a demo for a session at the River of Dreams quilt exhibition, on Quilt-As-You-Go techniques.  That was lots of fun though I got stuck in traffic, as they had closed the road by the Shannon river, to unveil a bronze statue of Terry Wogan, which people are comparing to the Ronaldo statue (not good!).  I just arrived at 1pm on the dot and rushed like a madwoman to get started.  (Thanks to Suzanne and her family for giving me a hand with the stuff from the car).

String blocks using wadding as a base instead of paper.
Joined with skinny strips!

Spent more time with mum wandering the shops on errands but ended up buying way more than I should have (this rug for starters)!  Finally rejoined the library and have been having fun reading and learning and reading some more.

Maybe its the summer sun and really long days (bright before 4 and light in the sky still at 11!) but that sense of urgency and stress I felt a few months ago has lessened and I am forgiving myself for what's not done yet.  After all once the day job is done, it's my time and I get to spend it on myself every now and again and on the dogs... and mum... and on Gordon...and on cleaning the house...eventually!

For now though I have found all of my photos and will crack on with processing them to share!  After that who knows?  I have lots of ideas so I might just start another quilt... or read a book!  Hope you guys are having fun with the extra hours of daylight and chilling out though the long lazy summer days! 
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