June 26, 2012

Odds and ends

Blogging is a lot of work; that is true. So are children, garden and whatever else you love!
Like quilting.

This week wasn't a great week for finishing anything to the last dot, but I managed at least some of the stuff  I'd planned to do.

The True Lover's Knot.

36 blocks of tidious calming sewing, cutting and ironing. I'm very proud of myself. I never thought I could really finish something like this in one go. Nothing else inbetween, no new projects started. This is the kind of self command and discipline no one ever credited me with. Unbelievable!
I even wanted to start on the actual quilting at once as well, but as this project kind of suddenly emerged I havn't bought the backing yet. So now this one is waiting for a parcel from the USA.

A first go at a framed purse for Nickys Framed Purse Swap:

It isn't as difficult as I thought. Rather easy in fact. As long as you don't glue the purse the wrong side out.

This is what it was supposed to look like. Bad thing you cannot close it :-) Now I have to buy a new frame somewhere and do it all again.

This is how it looks closed. Anyone care for a purse?

Then some sewing on the June Star of Africa block. No, I'm not showing any spoilers :-) Sorry Patti!

And a trip to the customs to pick up some rulers, fabrics and Tanyas Stargazer block. I cannot imagine why the customs wanted to inspect Tanya's letter, but they did. They didn't find anything exciting hidden in the seams.

I did find a lot of exciting things in the letter though; thanks Thanya! Your block and siggy are so beautiful! (and the extras very welcome!)

Not bad at all if you consider the amount of overtime I put in at work and coming home more dead than alive every day. After 10 hours of statistics I barely know my own name :-) Never mind, the Basic Score Cards are finished, my boss is happy and so am I.

June 15, 2012

True lover's knot

I just want to show you that I do quilt, at least once in a while. Sure, I've been busy with the Scrappy? Sew bee it! and Star of Africa bees. And of course I couldn't keep my hands off  Nicky's Framed Purses swap, much to her chagrin. He he...
Both bees and the swap are now closed, but I'm sure there will be other ones later on. Yes Nicky...?
At least I have definite plans as soon as I get back from my vacation. I'm pretty sure you will like it.

Anyway, I'm rambling, am I not? Yes, Annika was the second one to go in the Scrappy? Sew bee it! bee and she wanted a Log Cabin. That was a first for me, but I liked it a lot. So after finishing her block (I think on the first day after the instructions became public. Never mind the signature block took two weeks to make) I looked around and saw a box with fabrics, just waiting to be transformed into a True Lover's knot quilt. The pattern is both simple and intricate and above all it requires accurate sewing. It was the accurate sewing which has kept me away from this project for so long. I was sure I was going to suck big time. Nevertheless I decided to try my skills with a couple of blocks and then I was hooked. This was what I made during the first three days.

But it didn't stay that way, nor for long anyway.

Chainpiecing the next 17 blocks...

I didn't do much more than cut and slice, sew, iron and cut to shape again. There are 29 pieces in this block. That means 28 rounds under the sewing machines, 28 trips to the ironing board, 28 times cut to shape again...The thing is, you just have to be accurate, or you can just as well chuck the block at once.
I was watching Criminal Minds during these sewing sessions and felt rather morbid with all this cutting and slicing...

If your fingers are itching to try your out hand at this one I think I found the pattern here. I didn't find any descriptions as to the actual sewing, so this is what I did.
I used about 4-5 yards of periwinkle and a bit less of white on white fabric. Sorry, but I really do not know. I just decided I would sew until I had no fabric left and didn't think about checking the amounts before I started.

White fabric:

1 x   2 1/2" x 2 1/2"  (center of the block)
1 x   1 1/2" x 3 1/3"
3 x   1 1/2" x 5 1/2"
1 x    1 1/2" x 4 1/2"
1 x   1 1/2" x 6 1/2"
2 x   1 1/2" x 9 1/2"

Periwinkle fabric:
1 x   1 1/2" x 2 1/2"
2 x   1 1/2" x 3 1/2"
1 x   1 1/2" x 5 1/2"
1 x   1 1/2" x 6 1/2"
2 x   1 1/2" x 7 1/2"
1 x   1 1/2" x 9 1/2"
1 x   1 1/2" x 10 1/2"
2 x   1 1/2" x 11 1/2"
1 x   1 1/2" x 12 1/2"

For the smallest parts I sewed two 1 1/2" strips together, one of each colour and cut them into 1 1/2" pieces. The block finishes at 12 1/2".

Hope this helps you on your way. Oh, one thing more. I keep the pattern next to my sewing machine, in a plastic folder taped to the desk and check every single strip before I sew anything and so far I've done very well with this strategy. The only casualities were a couple of white on white turned wrong side up.

I've now finished 24 blocks and still have 12 to go, but I don't think it will take too long.  I'm determined to finish this quilt in one go. No sidetracking!

Want to see what my letter box look like these days?

It's full of nice surprises from the Scrappy? Sew bee it! bee. So far I have received 7 blocks, signature blocks and goodies. It's so much fun to raid the letter box after a long day at the office.

A sneek peek.

It's going to be one of my favorites; I just know it!

And a sneek peek at Annika's block.

That's all for now; I've got some slicing to do...

June 10, 2012

Mystery trip -Part II

Where were we? Yes, airport Abu Dhabi, right? Time was somehow endless waiting for the plane to depart. But at last we were standing in line for departure and got a hint of what was to come. There were lots of Chinese, no surprise, but every one of them wanted to be first in line. This we hadn't expected.
We are still not sure how long the flight was; we suppose 12 hours. These 12 hours we spent watching films and trying to get some sleep. Not very succesfully I'm afraid.

In Shanghai the customs were surprisingly friendly and easygoing and we soon found our bus to downtown.
Then a short trip in a taxi; we had printed the instructions beforehand  for the taxidriver in Chinese, and then we were at our youth hostel. It was a nice, clean place and we liked it a lot.

Our plan was only to drop off the luggage and set out for some sightseeing, but we had to try the beds first...Just in case they weren't up to our expectations. They were.
Ok, 5 hours later we finally set out, searching for a place to have dinner. We walked and walked, but there weren't any restaurents along the way. Of course we found heaps of them the later :-)

In the first one only some of  the guests spoke English, but they were friendly and took good care of us. We were even invited into the kitchen to show what we wanted to eat. We got some kind of hot broth with vegetables and some meat in it. Then we got platters of meat (still frozen), sausages, dumplings and vegetables to put into this hot broth.

 The proprietor kept a very close eye at us and tried to explane how to eat this dinner. We are both confident with chop sticks, but the meat had to cook a bit longer than we thought. It didn't taste bad, but I was kind of put off when I found my first chicken foot in the broth. At least I hope it was chicken. The Chinese don't cut off the "bad" parts of meat; they just eat everything.

After that we continued our walk through Shanghai, found some nice shops and a nice cafe and...
Then it was time for a taxi and home again. A taxi costs here less than a busfare at home.

Next day we headed out for the Old Town. In particular we wanted to visit a famous teashouse. It is built all according to Feng Shui, with the bridge all zacka style to misslead all evil spirits. Well, I made it anyhow and I also passed a very high doorstep without problems. Perhaps I'm not so bad after all. You see, the Chinese believe that evil spirits haven't any kneecaps, so they cannot pass high doorsteps...

The tea costed about a months wages (in China), but it was delicious and served by a true teamaster. They served a lot of small snacks with the tea. Most of the things we had never tasted before.Very impressive!

There were only Westeners as customers, but busloads of Chinese outside. Kind of sad.

I'm not going to tell you a day to day story, just the general outlines. Shanghai is a big city with almost 24 million inhabitants. It is a mixture between modern and oldfashioned. It is clean, but there is a musty smell everywhere. I suspect some bad draining. 

Shanghai by night with the Oriental Pearl tower
Dragon boat floating through the night

All over the place you see these pairs, posing for a wedding pic. The lucky colour is red; you never see a bride in white, as white is the colour for mourning.

Princess in a park

View from a Starbucks cafe

Once we got up at 6 in the morning just to see how people made their morning excercises on the Bund, Shanghais famous promenade.

Tai Chi on the Bund
 All over the place people were stretching, doing Tai Chi, walking backwards (is supposed to be good for you. Balances out the right and the left side of your brain.) There really was no need to get up this early for this as the Chinese seem to take their excercises very seriously indeed. They do it everywhere, in parks, in the subway, shopping malls and, very annoying, in the quiet of the woods (with ghettoblasters...).

Aerobics by night

Three of Chinas highest buildings are in Shanghai.

Jin mao tower in front of  Shanghai World Financial Center

The Shanghai World Financial Center is with its 492 m the highest, the Oriental Pearl tower with 468 m second and the Jin mao tower (420 m) third. We went up in the Jin mao tower and had some coctails in the bar on the 87th floor. The view was impressive. Too bad the sun wasn't shining, it was a rainy day. 

The Shanghai World Financial Center was built by a Japanese architect. His plan was to make the "opening" a round circle, but the Chinese weren't too keen to have a Japanese sun over their city, so the plans were changed and now the building looks like a giant bottle opener. You can see it behind the Jin mao tower in the pic.

We were very impressed by the everyday scenes we saw all over the city.

Foot massage on the street
Wash day

Just a normal street 

Street kitchen with some dim sungs
Toddlers wear their trousers with good airconditioning
I prefer my own workplace...

Chicken feeding outside a shop
We saw some people wearing their PJs in the park, you know the striped kind, just like your granddads, but I didn't dare take pictures. Not that they were ashamed, in fact they seemed proud. I was the one feeling like a peeping Jane.

We saw some fun signs all over the place, but I didn't take the pictures I should have. It's one of the things I do regret.


This one we couldn't figure out. It was at the airport. Separate gates for the elephants and the kangaroos? Princess wanted to send me to the BM1, but she must have misunderstood something...

I saw one I just loved, but didn't take a pic. It said that it was forbidden to squat on top of the toilet and that you were supposed to throw your toilet paper into a basket, not into the toilet. Try to imagine yourself squatting on top of your toilet; you'll be in need for some swish and swipe after that one :-)

We spent 6 days in Shanghai and went for a daytrip to Hangzhou, a small 3-4 million place south of Shanghai. We took a taxi to the railway station in Shanghai, expecting it to be somewhere near around the corner, but no, one hour later we finally arrived. We could have taken the underground as well and saved some money, but we didn't know it. At the railway station we had to show our passports to buy a ticket; that felt strange. The train was a transrapid; a first for both of us.

In Hangzhou we got a taxidriver to take us to this lake. There we went for a walk to some temples and had a beautiful sight over the lake. We wanted to take a taxi to some other places as well, but the taxidrivers refused to take us. We asked about 20 taxidrivers, but they just laughted at us. So we went for a walk instead.

A sight along the walk around the lake. I didn't realize that the pickers actually wear these hats while picking tea.

It looks so idyllic, but we weren't amused. We finally got a tuctuc take us to the Silk museum, but there we got into a hassle because of the price, just like everyplace else all over the world. At the Silk museum they threw us out again after 5 minutes and then we got stranded. Big time! After half an hour of fruitless hailing we asked a Chinese lady to help us. She finally got a tuctuc take us back to the railway station. Have you ever taken a ride in a tuctuc? I've done it lots of times, but Hangzhou tops it all. It's only something for diehards...

After these exciting days in China we were happy to board the plane to Abu Dhabi again. Frankly we were overwhelmed after eight days in a different world. We liked almost everything we saw, but as to the people... Well, they certainly are different from us and some things were just appaling in our eyes. Lets leave it at that. We had a lot of difficulties because of the language issue. Very few Chinese speak English and this does complicate matters a lot. I wanted to go fabric shopping, but didn't find any places to go and the taxidrivers refused to take us to the address we showed them. We couldn't figure out why.

All in all summary? You don't have to love everything, but Shanghai is a fascinating place well worth a visit. If you have the chance, do go. You won't regret it, thats for sure and you simply cannot imagine the things you will encounter there.  We had a very good time there and don't regret anything, except taking more pics...

June 1, 2012

The very first time

Yes – there is a first time for everything, the first steps, the first love, the first job, the first quilt and now my first time as a guest blogger! There are a lot more first times which I wrote about in my own blog Quiltar och Silver a few years ago.

My name is Annika, I come from the southern part of Sweden, and I’m very proud (and a bit nervous!) to be the first guest blogger from the Scrappy? See Bee It group. A group which May/Fabraholic started last month (very suitable: May for the month of May!). The participants – all women in different ages and at different places in their lives -  comes from all over the world and I’m looking forward to get to know everyone better.

Each month one Queen Bee is “in charge” and decides which block and colors she want the bee-friends to make for her and the quilt she will make.

And what a challenge she gave us for the month of May: a 12,5 inch block with wonky stars!! The smallest – not bigger than 3 inch square almost made me crazy, but with a great deal of help from Mrs Ripper I finally managed to get my block ready and sent it away.

This month – June – I’m the Queen Bee and the block I have chosen is a very traditional one. The colors are white, light yellow and bluish. Welcome to visit my blog where I show both the block I made for May and also my own block and – since this is a special occasion for me – also a gift from me to you.

Thank you Annika for everything! This is me again, May.

You know what this amazing woman's done? Not only did she write a guest post, but she sent me this.

It's so beutitul and I just love the Kaffe Fasset fabrics!

I must say I don't regret a single minute of the bee. Not only do we have a nice time together, but we get these georgeous blocks. So far I've got two. The second one is from Carla in Canada.

So cute! I'm happy these stars are going to shine together in a quilt..

But that is not all; I did get some signature blocks and gifts as well. Some cute starry buttons and a note pad with Fabraholics anonymus. Yes, I'm one spoiled brat.