August 15, 2014

and now?

Another year almost around again.  I am talking about the second year of the Lazy Bums. A group of talented ladies working their fingers off to finish all of those UFOs cluttering up badly needed space in the cupboards. Or under the bed. Or where ever. You know where you have your stash hidden away, so you know what I am talking about. And I must say it was a year full of laughter and fun things, a good year!

So what is so special about this group?

We have these monthly challenges. One project will be chosen from a list of ten as the challenge of the month. Should you finish the challenge you get an extra point and are in a pool to win a small prize. And should you get enough points (8) you are in for a bigger prize at the end of the year. This years winner is Strandkorbtraum! Congratulations Leonie!

We had a secret swap shortly before Christmas. Everyone making a cute basket and filling it with goodies, mostly chocolate as far as I could see. Yummy! I am sorry, but I did not take any pictures, so you have to use your imagination.

And we had a couple of virtual retreats. All of us working at the same time at a projects while chatting online with the other ladies. It was great fun! And it kept us going. There is nothing like getting badly needed support while you are slaving away and to know that all over the world your friends are doing just the same as you - finishing UFOs. And getting that lovely glowing feeling of achievement!

The motto for the first global retrat was samplers. You got 1 point for every 10 finished blocks. I did not get very far, but I did get a good start on my Just takes 2 sampler.

Just takes 2; a project for the next round

One of my finishes during one of our global retreats
And this is what I made during the second global retreat, a scrappy floating star quilt in rainbow colours. I fanished this quilt after a mad three days quilting session.

Backside of the scrappy floating stars

Another finished UFO

And what else? Well we did actually finish 132 projects during this year and that is quite an acchievement! You can see in the pictures a few I managed to finish during last year.

But I must confess that the second half of the year went past while I was occupied with other things. But life is like that; you never know what will pop up next.  You just have to do what needs to get done and over with.

But I did get on with these two quilts: Joseph’s coat. I finished the blocks, sewed the rows and this one is only waiting for its turn to be basted and hand quilted.

Not finished, but almost!

The second one, Mystery Star, has been around for a while; I did get a bit confused with hand quilting. Did not get the gist of it properly and threw the whole project disgustedly in a corner. But after some tuition, I made some progress and hope to finish it, perhaps this year.
Handquilting in progress
Still, this is not about me. This is just about some thoughts I have, sitting here in the middle of the night and thinking of the past year. Feeling greatful for what I had and very reluctant to let a good thing like this group go. The good thing is the other ladies feel the same and are hell-bent on having another go. Having fun and as a welcome side effect to get those UFOs finished and out of our hairs. So let us just do it.

Should you want to join in on the fun you find us on Flickr; we have great plans for next year!

June 18, 2014

Visiting friends

About a month ago (oh dear, how time runs) I went for a weekend to see a dear friend. You know the kind that starts with chatting online and then ends up as the very best kind of friendship, the kind you want to hold on to the rest of your days on earth!

Honestly, things have been a bit tough at home these last months, so I really, really looked forward to this visit. And as I had never visited my friend before, I was very excited to see her family and her home at last. And a lovely family and home it was! Her husband picked me up at the airport, but then went off walking in the Lake district, so we had the weekend to ourselves, doing whatever we wanted to do.

Of course I had to make a little something for her as thank you for having me gift. It was fun to make and she seems to like it, so that is ok I suppose. Paper piecing is a new skill, but it is getting easier all the time and the sulphor fumes around my head and the nasty language is getting less...

But back to the visit again. We did some shopping and some baking if I remember right. And we did visit parents and did some more shopping, running unexpectedly into another online friend, the lovely Lucy (Charm about you). Of course in a fabric shop, the natural habitat for every quilter, where else?

At a hat museum we did some hat sampling...Quite fun to see all the different kinds of hats. I never realized there are so many different ones around. But then I do not usually wear any, so I would not notice.

But most of the time we spent chatting and doing nothing special at all. If you ask me, the very best way to spend time with friends. Thank you dear for a wonderful time in your home; see you next time at my place!

Actually I have not only been frolicking around the world, but I have actually finished two blocks for the Star of Africa bee. This one is for Veena from Chennai in India. She wanted blocks related to our national flowers. Lily of the valley is the one for Finland, not an easy task. I did a lot of thinking and some research to find something suitable to sew, but after all I ended up with an own design.

And this one is for Tina, also in Chennai, India. She wanted SHOES!
I do hope both blocks arrived safely by now and that you like them.

Yes, I am still working on some blocks and they will be finished as soon as I have sorted my life into some kind of working order.

April 21, 2014

The Lazy Bums Global Retreat II

By now you must be bored stiff by my tales from the Lazy Bums, but it is such a fun group that I must tell you all the news! If you are a frequent reader of this blog you might remember I told you some months ago about our first Global Retreat. We had a mad 24 hours of sewing, all in different places, but chatting online. It was a great success and we did get a lot done that day.

Actually it was so much fun, that we wanted to have another one. This time we extended the time limit, well at least I did and I know some other ladies followed suit. 29th of March was D day. The theme of the retreat was quilting. All passionate UFO collectors have a heap of projects just screaming for those last finishing touches, so it seemed the right theme for this group. Imagine getting the dust and the cobwebs off and finishing those projects! Too good to be true!

I could not resist beginning already on Friday evening; I wanted to prepare another quilt for the retreat. I already had two prepared for the big day, but just in case I got in a mad frenzy...


I made the sashing for my Bears Paw quilt, laying out all the blocks on the floor near the sewing machine, so I would not get the design mixed up. Of course it did not work out like planned and the top looks a bit different now, but I am happy with the outcome. At one o’clock AM the top was finished and ready for basting. At the moment (two weeks later) I am fixing the basting (it had some flaws), so I cannot show any flashy pictures, but we will return to this quilt later on. At least I hope it will be finished one of these days...

What I actually did work on was another Scrappy Floating Stars for my DD2. She loved the first one I made for friends in July and wanted bright colors for the one designated for her own bed. Luckily I had two big packs of rainbow charms, only waiting for the right project. White backing should not be a problem, but actually turned out to be a major one. I realized while I was making the last blocks I would run out of Bella bleached solids, so I ordered some more. You know, the whitest, bleached kind. It arrived three weeks later, but it was yellowish, so I ordered some more thinking I had somehow mixed up my order. But no; also the next fabrics were yellowish and did not really look good besides the original fabrics. DD2 told me she would not mind, but still I am not happy with the outcome. But rather than leaving the quilt unfinished I used the new "white" fabrics. This quilt is going to be old one day and yellowish one day anyway...

Saturday morning (29th of March) I was all heated up and could wait to start with my quilting, so I fell out of the bed at six o’clock in the morning (after 4 hours sleep), went downstairs to the dining room with my sewing machine and everything else I might need. And then it all began! You’d think quilting straight lines would not be that difficult, but it was. First of all I had paper pieced a chameleon on the backside and I did not want white threads all over the poor animal. So I outlined the chameleon from the backside so I would know where it was while quilting the rest on the front. Actually it was not a bad idea. You do not really see that some parts are left out on the front and the back looks good, at least to me.

This quilt is big, 240 cm * 190 cm, so it was heavy to handle. I made the mistake to begin with the diagonal quilting. It was the heaviest part to make and I did my fair share of whining during that day. 
As you can see on the picture I had my laptop next to the sewing machine, so I could see what the other ladies were up to all the time. It was a long day; I did actually quilt for 14 ½ hours and only finished the diagonals. Frustrating! All my plans to quilt one project a day flew straight out the window! But do not give up that easily, so Sunday morning saw me again in front of the sewing machine and now the quilting was easier and I finished the horizontal quilting after some 8 hours. 

On Monday I had a last go and finally finished it! Yes, I had taken a day off from work only for this. This is how crazy you can get. But I was not the only one working like a slave and it helped a lot to chat with the other ladies and having fun. Best part was that the ladies come from all over the world (Australia, North America, Europe) so someone was always online, cheering the others on.

My little quilting helper! And no; I would never mess up anything!

Quite cosy this quilt!
Sunday evening the family came back home, including one little industrious helper! It was good to have them home again, but quite frankly; sewing is better when they are busy elsewhere, even with the risk of sounding heartless.After finishing the quilting on Monday I needed four days to make the binding. Well yes, it is a big quilt and a lot to sew in the evenings in front of the tv. And with a little helper everywhere she is not supposed to be...

Scrappy floating stars, front

Back with paper pieced chameleon


Just in case you did not get the first picture, different sky though...

So what else is going on? I made some costumes for our yearly carneval session. I was not too hot on this years theme, but we do look like ready to have some fun, don't we?

Dwarves on their way to have some serious fun! We do look stupid!
On a trip to Maastricht, Netherlands I found this roll of sari fabrics ready for use. Clearly I had to take it home with me and since then I am trying to figure out what to make? Any ideas?

What will I be when I grow up?

January 25, 2014

What's happening

Things have been a bit quiet around me for a while. I realize I've shamefully neglected my blogging. This isn't because I haven't done anything, but it's more because I've been finishing old things and didn't feel so excited about it. More like going on like a horse in a slow trot.

So what's happening? Weeell; here are the things I'm currently working on: Mainly very old projects that felt like stones around my neck and have been dragging me down. But with a little help from the ladies of the Lazy Bums group I've tackled some of the oldies and actually found out I'm enjoying myself hughely.

Lets start with last months challenge; a sampler kind of quilt. We had our global retreat day - 24 hours of mad sewing and it was just great. I couldn't wait for the day to arrive and when it actually did I started a couple of minutes after midnight, only to realize I wasn't the first one, even if I was in the time zone to go first. Lizzie, the Swedish Scrapper and Susan, Sgcrafty, sewing somewhere in USA both beat me to it. Susan was due to start 8 hours later, but as she was at an IRL retreat at the time she joined in a bit early and I think actually was the last one to stop. During those 24 hours we kept chatting and sewing. Some sissies like me did sleep for a bit and some even took time off to eat, but mainly it was about sewing and chatting. It was so much fun to see how one lady after another jumped up on the train and joined in! We did get a lot done that day and it was so much fun that we are going to repeat it on the 29th of March. I'll keep you posted.

I picked my Just takes 2 project. It's a sampler with 100 blocks. I'd made 7 blocks some time ago until I didn't know how to proceed and pushed the project to the side to wait for the "right" time. So this was the right time and I made 6 blocks. It doesn't sound like much, but believe me - I had a lot to do! Afterwards I made some more and this is how it looks like now. I've put the next block, a feathered star on today's to do list. We'll see how I manage.

Then we have Joseph's Coat. It's a handpieced everlasting project. I don't remember when I actually started on it, but I've been at it for a very long time. This is one of the projects I've put on this years to do list (it was on last years as well...) and I've actually managed to finish all 56 blocks and made the first 6 rows on the quilt. (You really don't want to see my poor fingertips.) One of the problems with this quilt was that it was a quilt along, but the instructions stopped halfway and we had to figure out ourselves how to proceed. I'm not sure if I've got everything ok, but I've got only 2 more rows to go and then I can start on the handquilting.

Talking of which. My DD1 and I went a couple of years ago to a handquilting class and came home hot on starting with our handquilting. Well, it wasn't a success! I picked up a very old sandwiched quilt and started on the quilting (after some practicing of course). It didn't work the way I wanted so I disgustedly threw the project in a corner, not wanting to see it ever again. You see, I'm outing myself as a total sissie. A couple of weeks ago I was a bit bored and looked through the adverts from Craftsy and found a handquilting class by Andi Pedeira. It was a special offer so I thought what the heck, I'll throw the 11 euros after the 30 euros for the first class and see if handquilting is such a lost cause for me. It wasn't. This time I was able to grasp a lot more of the information (no chatting ladies around to distract me) and I'm actually finding handquilting to be rather addictive. Of course I had to find my way around it, but that's life. I've bought 4 or 5 kinds of different quilting needles and 4 different kinds of handquilting threads to find what I like to work with. Some of the quilting needles have such a small eye it's very difficult to thread them even with this handy helper. But not all of them. You have to decide for yourself what is more important to you. To sew with a very fine needle, but a small eye, or with one with a bigger eye. I've chosen the second one for myself, but I'll probably switch later.

And I found out to my great surprise that the thread from Gütermann wasn't suited for the task. Perhaps I'd only picked a bad one, but still... I use Gütermann for sewing all the time and am very happy with the quality, so this was indeed a big surprise.

The challenge for February in the Lazy Bums group is to finish something for someone else. I picked to finish all my outstanding bee blocks. I've had a very bad conscience about not finishing them ages ago, but it's been very difficult. I cannot say why, only that it is. Now I hope for a new boost of energy and get them off to their final destination. At the moment I'm working on three and have prepared all of them.

Missed out a bit, but it'll be fine...

Then I have the quilts I'm making for my daughters. My youngest was so thrilled by the scrappy floating stars I made last summer for my friends that she wanted one for herself. This is how far I've managed to work with  it.

I ran out of bleached white Bellas solids in November and had to order some more. After 4 weeks of waiting it came, but it had a slight yellowish tone to it. I didn't want to send it back so I put it on the box with the other backing fabrics and ordered some more. The whitest kind they had. It came shortly before Christmas and once again it wasn't as white as the original. No, I didn't order a third time. My daughter had a close look at the fabrics and decided she wouldn't mind, so I can go on and make the border. Puuuh!

Of course I cannot make one daughter a quilt and leave the other one without one. So I picked up a pattern and some fabrics I'd ordered for this project and decided to surprise her. The pattern is called Jovial from Basicgray. Honestly, it's a complete waste of fabrics! Don't buy it unless you want to get rid of your stash. It looks lovely and turned out to be a 3D pattern, but I wouldn't use it if I had the choice.

I've told you about sewing the backing, how two of the blocks disappeared into thin air in the post "Beam me up Scotty". Those blocks were gone for almost three weeks and finally I had to make new ones. I'd expected them to reapperar immediately after I finished the new ones, but that didn't happen. What happened was that a week later I was showing my projects and I happened to stand near my chair and must have moved it in some way, because suddenly the two blocks fell down on my feet! They must have been in the chair the whole time. I'd checked that chair like 5 times and my daughter as well, but they were so well hidden we didn't see them! Must have been my prayers to St. Anthony, the saint for lost things that finally worked! I'd almost lost my faith in him, but he was only a bit slow in delivery. So sorry Anthony for doubting you!

January 7, 2014

Lazy Bum's global retreat

If you've followed the posts in this blog you must by now know the Lazy Bums. It is a group of talented ladies more keen on starting new projects than on finishing the old ones.

We have been at it for almost one and a half years now and we have accomplished a lot during that time I'm happy to say. This years round started in August 2013 and we've finished 61 UFOs so far. That is almost half of what we've planned to finish this year.

The idea of the group is to finish one project a month. To make it more interesting we have monthly challenges and you are rewarded by points if you finish a project. At the end of the year a prize is waiting for a lucky winner.

We have done a lot of different things so far, chosen projects according to colour, age, a special number or way of sewing. In November we made triangles as fast as we could. Once we even had a secret partner choosing the challenge for each of us. It was fun, because you didn't know what your partner was going to come up with.

For January's challenge Gi came up with a fabulous idea - a global retreat! The idea is to pick up a longtime project like Dear Jane or Farmer's Wife and for 24 hours sew blocks together.

Very inspiring I must say. How are we to finish these brutes otherwise? It is so much easier to sew the blocks if you know that you are not alone! I'm going to try my hand at the remaining 93 blocks from my Just Takes 2 quilt. It is a sampler BOM by Sentimental Stitches. The patterns were free for a short time, but you can still get them for a small fee.

We are from all over the world, so the time zones are making the simultaneous sewing a bit difficult, but I think we've found a way to manage. The global retreat begins on the 11th at midnight in your own time zone and you can sew for 24 hours. At the end of the retreat Gi has promised prizes in three different cathegories, but I don't know them yet. Nerd, eager beaver and cheerleader have been suggested.

Should you like to join in on the fun, feel free! You find us on Flickr.

January 6, 2014

Beam me up Scotty!

First of all I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! Lots of sewing and what ever else makes you happy! Kind of scary that a new year has started with so much left from last year to do...

But that is not what I wanted to write about this time. There is just this question troubling me since some time - am I the only one with extraterrestrial experiences? I'm not thinking UFOs this time (who hasn't loads of those somewhere hidden deep behind other stuff?) No, I'm talking real uncanny phenomens! Like that time I was making some totes for the London FQR and a zipper was beamed off into outer space. Oh yes, it was! One moment it was in my hand and the next it was gone, forever! Well, one of those things I thought and went out to buy a new one. Still it troubled me, because I couldn't find the zipper. And I still haven't!

Now, last week I was finishing 8 parts for a Flying Home Compass block. I sat in my chair, removed the paper from the backside and started pinning the pieces together. It didn't take me long to realize two left parts had disappeared into thin air! I couldn't find them anywhere and by now I've looked through the trash twice. And I did have 8 pieces to start with; found the paper for all eight in the bin. Gone just like that!

I've been looking for those pieces the whole week, hoping they would turn up, but so far nothing!
Am I getting feebleminded? No of course not!