Saturday, 21 January 2017

Some finishes

I finished a few things this week which felt good.

I finished the Japanese zipped pouch and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Very typically Japanese in the fabrics and design, and a nice clean finish inside and out.

I also finished knittin the Fishtail Lace Cowl, which was a pattern from Simply Knitting magazine that took 1.5 balls of a Debbie Bliss aran yarn.  I've wet blocked it and it's still drying, but I look forward to wearing it. We have an older home with quite a few cold spots and drafts so I do like to have a neckwarmer of some description on even when I'm indoors.

I finished the Japanese Scroll wallhanging  that I made with the panel and fabrics I bought in Tokyo.  I didn't put any wadding inside so it hangs nice and flat like a scroll. I stitched 1/4" away from all seams and in the ditch around the panel, and added a little hanging sleeve. It's displayed on a little side wall in the study, a bit reminiscent of the alcoves displaying hanging scrolls that we saw in Japan.

I finished Block 21 of my long term 25-block applique quilt project.  I felt very inspired by only having four more blocks to do, so I actually put in a morning on my day off to choose the four block patterns, make the templates, and trace out the layout details onto the four background squares. So now I have four block kits which hopefully will speed things up because it's all that prep work that I find tedious. I like doing the hand applique.  So I've started the 22nd block now.

And I'm on my last curlywhirl of the outer ring of my Idrija bobbin lace doiley so the end is in sight as I will soon be back to where I started and can do the final joins.  Then I will just have a little flowery thing (these are technical bobbin lace terms you understand) to do in the centre, which I think is just plaiting and picots but I haven't really looked up how to do it yet.

Having parked my dollshouse shed project, I've moved on to renovating a big dollshouse, the Willowcrest,  that I built about 10 years ago but never completely finished.  It was a long term build so had its own blog here, which I will be updating to record my finishing touches.

It's lovely and cold here right now, going down to a few degrees below freezing at night with dry sunny days. I like this weather which reminds me of the years I lived in Ottawa in Canada. It got a heck of a lot colder there (minus 40 celsius) but was generally very sunny. I've been out digging in the garden lately, loosening the soil and pulling out perennial weeds before the bulbs (hopefully) come up.  There is already one little clump of snowdrops blooming in the sunniest spot, and lots of green tips starting to poke up through the frosty soil. Several hellebores (Christmas roses) are blooming as well under our hazel tree, while the sun-starved winter flowering jasmine is putting on a good but stunted show next to it. Our little ornamental cherry is blooming as well. It did that last year and I thought it was just confused because we had such a warm winter, but now I am thinking it is actually a winter-flowering variety. And the Viburnum Tinis in front is also blooming, it seems to like its spot and has gotten a lot bigger in just a few years. But generally the garden looks pretty bleak and bare. I planted a bunch of new tulips and daffodils in the autumn, I hope they will come up in Spring but I never seem to have much luck with bulbs.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Memories of Japan

There have been several pleasant reminders of our Japan holiday this week.  The 2017 calendar arrived that I ordered online using twelve chosen photographs from our holiday, and it's now gracing my desk area where I can look at it every day.

I also made a bag. I had bought a metre of home dec weight Japanese fabric for myself at Okadaya in Tokyo, thinking it would make a nice bag (I also bought a similar metre for the m-i-l so she can make a bag as well).  A colleague at work passed on a copy of LoveSewing magazine this week which I enjoyed reading, and it included this pattern by Melissa Wastney for a Hold Everything Tote.  Apparently it's taken from her book 'Sweet & Simple Handmade'.  I liked the vintage vibe of the bag and thought it would be a great project for my Japanese fabric.

I cut it out on my day off and made a start on it, then I finished it off today. I made a few modifications: I interfaced the lining and the upper panel of the outer bag because my fabric doesn't have a lot of body, I cut the handles in one wide piece each and also interfaced them, and I added a magnetic closure.  The lining is the dragon Japanese fabric I bought to go with the geisha panel, and I added a contrast top to the pocket out of the red sashiko fabric. It was a satisfying make as it wasn't very difficult but the end result looks relatively sophisticated.

I've also been working on the Japanese zipped pouch. I finished the quilting on all three pieces and the last few evenings I've hand-stitched in the zipper and am now hand-stitching the seams to join the three pieces into a pouch.  It's nice to work on something with fine hand sewing. The construction of the pouch is fairly different from how I would normally make a bag here in the UK. Normally you would finish the outside pieces, then seam on the lining so that the raw edges are all hidden inside, and of course you would do most of the sewing by machine including the zip. This kit is designed to be completely sewn by hand, with a lot of patience and detail work. So all three pieces are completely finished before you add the zip and join them together with a whipstitch done from the inside. It's a fun project. I also liked the subtlety of the fabrics.

I finished the Fairwinds hat this week as well, and I wore it out today in about 5 degrees Celsius and found it surprisingly warm.  The double band over the ears is lovely, and this Debbie Bliss Blue-Faced Leicester that I got in the sale at Thread and Patches is silky and soft.  With that off the needles I've started a cowl pattern now using some stash yarn.

On my day off I had ambitions to do hours of dollshousing but in the end I had to force myself to do one hour because I was having so much fun sewing the tote bag (not to mention I was procrastinating).  I hung all five hanging baskets I made a while back onto the Victorian Gazebo porch and touched up the green paint on the bottle tops I used. The plastic they are made out of doesn't take paint very well so it flakes off very easily. I think this project is pretty much finished now apart from fixing down the porch furniture with tacky wax, and we even tidied up all the mess in the workshop left behind from the build.

I bought a fun new patchwork pattern.  I was looking on the website of Poppy Patch over in Great Doddington for something else when I came across this pattern. It's by an Australian designer Hatched and Patched and it's a charming, whimsical mixture of pieced blocks, applique and embroidery.  DH looked at the thick packet of pattern pages and said he looks forward to seeing the finished product in 2025. Cheek.

Sunday, 8 January 2017


Now that Christmas is over and I no longer have to put in long hours planning the Japan trip, I have the pleasing illusion of more time on my hands. Unfortunately this seems to be developing into a bout of Startitis.  My Spinning Pinwheels Tablecloth is still waiting forlornly in a corner to be quilted, my Pyjama trouser pattern is on the design wall waiting for the next two pairs to be cut. But pinned on top of the pyjama pattern are the Japanese fabric strip quilt and the Geisha scroll wallhanging I made last week, still waiting for some finishing. But what I've actually done this week is pursue on impulse a 60-degree equilateral triangle project to make a table runner, using some leftover Moda Portugal fabric from a long ago quilt. So this project was then pinned on the wall on top of the other three projects.  It's turning into archaeological strata.

The table runner came about because I saw a workshop online being offered for a Triangle Frenzy table topper which I realised must be the same design company behind the table topper I had admired a few years ago when we went on holiday to Norfolk, which was this one:

While googling on Triangle Frenzy designs I came across this Youtube video by Electric Quilt which shows how to use 60-degree triangles to make a table runner. It looked cool and I have a 60-degree triangle ruler so I thought I would have a go.

My 60-degree ruler measures 8 1/4" from base to tip, so I put together two strip sets around 40" long that measured 8 1/4" in width.  You need six A triangles for the central hexagon, and four B triangles for each end so eight B triangles altogether.  I was able to cut four B triangles and three A triangles from each strip set and I had sufficient excess to be able to fussy-cut the A triangles to frame a motif. 

 I starched my strip sets before cutting because of the bias edges, and I pressed all seams open to reduce bulk. I laid out the design first so that I would get the correct orientation on the triangles. Then I seamed the two lengthwise rows of triangles together first, then seamed together the two rows together along the central seam after first basting across the junctions of the points to check for accuracy. Then I quilted in the ditch and applied single fold binding.  It was a relatively quick project to complete, so could make a good gift. Nice to actually finish something!

Another thing I've started in the last few weeks is the kit I bought in Japan for an appliqued zipped pouch.  The kit included all the fabric, the zip, the wadding, and some embroidery floss.  The instructions are in Japanese but the layout diagram had some English labels.  So by using the layout diagram as a Rosetta stone, and also using the kanji recognition app on my tablet, I was able to work out the gist of it.  You do the applique and embroidery stage first onto one side of the pouch (pieced from two fabrics). The applique was a bit challenging because the fabrics in the kit are not quilting fabric, they're more loosely-woven with woven patterns rather than printed, and they fray very easily.  Embroidery is not my strong suite but I managed the bee and I substituted the word 'Summer' for the random-English word Happy in the original.

After completing the applique/embroidery, each of the three pieces is turned through with the lining and wadding to create three finished pieces. The next stage is quilting. I've started on the back piece and am partway through in this picture. I am failing to get small even stitches partly because the layers are fairly bulky. I've turned the base over so you can see the lining.

In an effort to get my Idrija bobbin lace doiley finished, I have moved it into the living room and am doing some most nights on my lap in front of the telly, before I work on the quilting of the zip pouch and my usual TV knitting. It is awkward to do bobbin lace on the lap with such a large pillow but at least it is slowly getting done. I've had to join on some more thread as I am running out on some of the bobbins.

TV knitting is still the Fairwinds Hat.  I've had a couple of false starts on it because the pattern says to cast on for 100 stitches but when I tried it on after a few inches, it seemed far too loose. I like a hat to be snug over my ears.  I pulled that out and cast on 90 stitches instead, and knit the folded brim and turned the hem.  But when I carried on with the hat itself, which is supposed to be floppy, it was fitting far too close to my head.  So I had to pull out a few more inches back to the joining row for the brim, increase more stitches, and re-knit.  This is where I am so far and I think it is going to be ok this time. To avoid purling I am wrapping and turning to knit the purple rows in stockinette from the inside, which is creating an unavoidable 'seam' but I've decided to live with that.

As you know, my dollshouse club Shed project has been hanging over my head for some time. I wanted to get it out of the way so that I can move on to renovating/finishing my own houses in time for the club visit this July, so I made a bit of a push on the shed over the holidays.  I've now progressed the inside as far as I can out of my current stash. My theme is a writer's retreat from the 1920s-1940s. It is  still looking fairly bare but I am going to a couple of shows in February and March where perhaps I can pick up more things. 

The mirror is positioned so that you can peek inside the octagonal tower to the windowseat.

So I'm going to put the project to one side for now so I can move on to other things.

I also started this week on machine knitting another machine knitted tee from the denim Panama cone I bought months ago. It will be the same pattern as the duck egg version but I'm doing a ribbed hem instead of a picot hem at the bottom (I might still do a picot hem on the sleeves and neck because it looks nice). I've only done the back so far.

And the last thing for this week was a bit of primitive woodwork on Bank Holiday Monday.  Since changing my PC and monitor several months ago, my monitor had been raised up on some books because it didn't fit on my old stand.  I scrounged some dregs of wood from the shed and managed to cobble together a monitor stand despite my total inability to cut a straight line.  It wobbles but luckily the weight of the monitor holds it down fine.  And painting it white disguised a lot of defects. It's a big improvement on a stack of books.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy new year (for the tenth time)

DH has pointed out that in March 2017 I will reach my 10-year anniversary on this blog. The end of the year seems an appropriate time for looking back. I think I have kept this blog up week after week more for myself than for anyone out there who might take the time to read my ramblings.  It's a once a week health check on my creativity and output, as well as a record of what I've achieved (or not). It establishes a timeline, so  later on when I wonder when I actually started or finished a project, I can look it up. It's motivational because when things aren't going well or it feels like I never get anything done, then I can look back over my posts and realise I do actually finish things - sometimes a very long time after I started them, but eventually nonetheless. It's also motivational because I will make a push to finish something in order that I can photograph it for the blog. It's a record of things I've given away as gifts or sales. It's even a record of some of the ups and downs of our lives: changing jobs, moving house, empty nests, holiday craft shopping.  Thank you for joining me on this journey - some of you have been here since the beginning (Hi Swooze!) and I appreciate the company.

Last night I sewed the final piece into my Night before Christmas knitted advent project, designed by Frankie Brown and free on Ravelry (donations encouraged to Children's Liver Disease Foundation).  I really enjoyed this project, which was a crossover between my knitting and dollshouse hobbies, and also a great christmas project to work on through December. The designer has even included a basket of knitting next to the chair.

I've now cast on for the Fairwinds Hat by Tanis Williams, a pattern I picked to go with four balls of Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester that I got for £2 a ball at the Mega Sale at Threads and Patches in Fenny Stratford in Bletchley on Wednesday.  This was my first visit to the shop and I was impressed with their broad range of stock.  There were more fabric bolts in one of the two sale rooms than I think my LQS has altogether.  It's not that close to us but I think would be worth the trip if I was looking for a particular fabric.  I only bought two fabrics in the sale, a honey gold print to go with the Morris fabrics I bought a while back at Duxford, and another Morris fabric that was only £5m and very pretty so an impulse buy.  I also bought some more Bosal (not in the sale) to replace what I used on the Honeycomb Basket, and the gingerbread men buttons on the cover of my knitted book above, and some more acrylic yarn at £1 a ball for my toyknitting stash.

As well as driving me to the quilt shop, DH took me into IKEA (very noble as he hates it there) to pick up a few things. I  bought two hanging fabric shoe organisers which I am using to store my knitted shawls which had outgrown the box under the bed. I feel very organised now and hopefully I will wear them more often. And I got some cheap plastic tupperware-type boxes to store my various dollshouse terrain in (turf sprinkle, foliage clumps, 'dirt' etc.) which was getting in a bit of a mess in their various bags.

It was time for the monthly sew-in I go to, and I decided to tackle some of the Japanese fabric I bought on holiday.  In an unusual-these-days burst of creativity, before I went I designed a simple strip quilt for the six fat quarters I bought AND a setting for the geisha panel.  This is the strip quilt which I put together with a border from some yardage I also bought in Tokyo. The colour balance has gone weird in the photo, it's a bit more accurate in the close-up but still not great. The fabrics are in pretty pastels. This is sized to be a wallhanging for an alcove in our study where I like to hang small quilts. The strips are 4x16". As the fabrics are so busy, I thought the setting needed to be kept simple.

For the geisha panel, I had the idea of setting it to look like one of the decorative scrolls that we saw hanging in many alcoves in Japanese historic houses and in restaurants.  For example, this is an antique scroll I saw in a museum.

And here is my fabric version, using the panel and two coordinates I bought in Tokyo, and some pale batik background. In order to stick to the scroll theme, I have turned it through pillowcase style without any wadding, and I will be adding some stabilising stitching to it. This will also be a wallhanging.

My big mouth

Once again I have opened my mouth when I should have kept quiet.  I've been made uncomfortable in the past at this monthly sewing group I go to because almost every meeting someone whose project has been admired offers to photocopy her purchased pattern (often purchased at the actual shop we are meeting in) and hand around the copies so the others can make the same project.  But today one woman was actively lobbying for the group of some 10 women to decide what patterns they want to buy from the shop, chip in funds to buy one copy, then photocopy it for everyone.  I just couldn't believe they were sitting in the very shop actively planning to defraud both the shop owners and the designers, so my mouth opened of its own accord and out came "But you do know that's illegal?".  I earned a disdainful stare from the woman (who has very decided opinions) and then a short lecture from her which finished with "and anyway, everyone does it." To which I couldn't resist responding (my mouth again) with "Well, I don't, because it is ILLEGAL. and also it's happened to me in the past when someone photocopied something I designed and gave it away and it really hurt me" or words to that effect. I got another short lecture about how everything is on the internet these days free for people to take anyway. I was conscious that the room had fallen silent while our discussion escalated so I ended it by saying that just because it's out there doesn't mean you have to take it, then I stood down. When she went off later for drinks, I apologised to the rest of the group for starting it in the first place. But I did feel like I was on the naughty chair for the rest of the afternoon.  I felt like asking if they would wander into the shop and just pocket some thread or a charm pack without paying, but I luckily kept my mouth shut on that one.  I am really wondering if I want to keep going. I do find it motivational to have to plan projects for the day, and to have the dedicated sewing time, and I like to see what other people are making even though for the most part I have very different tastes (probably outdated, lol). But they are fairly cliquey because they see each other at other clubs and some of them are personal friends or neighbours. And now I feel like I am in disgrace.  Also I know I am a hypocrite because I have copied patterns from books that I've borrowed from libraries, and in years past I did copy some patterns from American quilting mags to run group projects where we all made our own version of the pattern - because I was the only one who subscribed and at the time you couldn't buy them on the newsstand in the UK the way you can buy some American mags now. And I've watched YouTube videos of American TV shows I couldn't get over here etc which were very likely pirated.  Hypocrite, but I suppose we have to draw a line somewhere and I want the quilt shop to stay open and not go out of business due to outright theft by ungrateful, thoughtless customers.  Hmmm, perhaps I do need a time out...

Monday, 26 December 2016

Happy Christmas!

It's Boxing Day and the great eating up of leftovers has begun. I hope everyone had an enjoyable day yesterday.  I even got some sewing done and finished up the Honeycomb Basket project I was working on.  I've posted an extra post this week with my thoughts on the pattern, which hopefully might help others making the project.

There is a lot of hand-sewing in the original instructions, as you are sewing down the binding on the tops and the bases of seven pockets.  So that's what I was doing for most of the Christmas television watching.

Once the hand-sewing was done, it was back to the Night before Christmas knit-along project, which has now published all 24 patterns on Ravelry.  I made it up to pattern 21, and was stitching down curtains and knitting 'presents' while watching The Queen yesterday afternoon.

I don't know if you can see that I have the back cover and the spine of the book sewn on.  I still have to knit the front cover pieces before I can finish assembling the scene, then there are a few more decorations to knit such as stockings for the fireplace. There has been a huge amount of knitting to get this far, the equivalent of knitting a couple of baby-sized garments I think.

Did you get anything crafty for Christmas?  I was very happy with what was under the tree this year:

- an A3 paper cutter which will be brilliant for cutting straight precise lines on dollshouse wallpaper and printies.
- a handmade keyhole cover cloth for bobbin lacemaking, from one of my lace friends.
- a handmade little zip pouch and some quilt fabric from my m-i-l
- a handknitted lace dollshouse bedspread from an older quilting/dollshouse friend
- and most delightful: a gorgeous  little miniature Japanese cast-iron traditional tea kettle from Anita which will be brilliant for my Japanese dollshouse one day when it gets built. We saw a lot of life-sized tea kettles just like it on our holiday. Plus a cute 'Sew' sign and a craft calendar which I am sure will fit into my quilt shop very nicely.

I haven't taken pictures yet, sorry.

I'm struggling today because I feel like I should be taking advantage of my holiday to get loads done on my crafts, but I've eaten and drunk so much over the last few days that what I really feel like doing is having a nap, lol.  I'm a bit stalled on my shed project interior, I always have problems furnishing the insides of scenes, I much prefer doing the exterior.  I don't want to have to buy a bunch of new stuff but on the other hand I don't want the inside of the shed to look crude compared to the outside. And I need to get this club project finished so that I can get back to the long list of renovating and completing of houses that I need to do before the club comes to visit in July.  My concept is that it is a writer's retreat, so that I can finally use a Jane Harrop desk and chair set that I made a long time ago. This is a test layout that I tried out on my friend Anita, who rightly pointed out that the tea set is out of scale and that things aren't 'gelling' yet.  It's not a very big space which doesn't help.

Now that the Honeycomb Basket is done, I need to choose my next sewing project. I've got a much-scribbled out list from a few years ago of what was in the quilting pipeline, so I've brought that upstairs to type out cleanly and update.  But I know there is a bunch of stuff that hasn't even made it onto the list yet, like the kits and fabric I bought in Japan, or the fabric for two more pairs of pyjama trousers.  Perhaps I will type out a clean list, take it downstairs and annotate it, then bring it back upstairs to amend it again.  And that's how you spell p-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n, children!

A few thoughts on sewing the Honeycomb Basket by Beth Studley

As I'm now on Christmas hols I've had more time for crafts, and over the last few days I've put together the Honeycomb Basket by Beth Studley.  I cut this out from two batik fabrics in my stash and using Bosal for the stiffener.

It's a great design concept and I'm quite pleased with the outcome, which thanks to the Bosal and close quilting, is quite sturdy.

I had a little Google and I couldn't find any notes from other people making this project, apart from one test maker for the designer. So I thought it might be useful to jot down a few thoughts in case they help future basket makers. I'm assuming you have the original pattern and instructions.

Preliminary cutting out: If I were making it again, I would ignore the instructions to cut out 21 separate pieces for the seven pockets. This was time consuming and inevitably (for me anyway) resulted in pieces that weren't identical so didn't exactly stack into identical sandwiches for quilting.  Quilting was also fiddly as you had to go close-to-but-not-over the edges of your sandwiches and also avoid the pins needed to hold the sandwiches together.  I would instead trace three pairs of pockets onto Fabric 1 aligned along the straight side (so each pair would look a bit like a butterfly) and cut around each pair at least one-inch away from the traced line, resulting in three rough rectangles of Fabric 1.  I would then sandwich those three rectangles with equal rectangles of Bosal and Fabric 2.   Similarly I would trace and rough-cut  the seventh central compartment and sandwich it up.

Quilting: I found it much easier and faster to free-motion quilt the wavy lines, but by tracing pairs as above, you could quilt a pair of pockets at the same time, quilting right across the two pocket compartments and turning around in the spare fabric beyond the traced line for the top and bottom.  But do NOT quilt outside the two traced sides of the pockets as we need to keep the spare fabric at the sides unstitched for the next step.

Final cutting out:  You need three pockets with an inch-wide flap in Fabric 1, and three pockets with an inch-wide flap in Fabric 2.  Cut out your pockets on your traced lines but on three of them, cut Fabric 1 an inch wider while cutting the Bosal and Fabric 2 on your traced line. Reverse this for the other three.  For the central compartment, leave a one-inch flap on whichever fabric will be the outside of the compartment (which isn't seen on the finished basket).

Darts - these need to be marked on the lining fabric of each pocket so using the above method, you would need to mark and sew the darts after the quilting step, not before.  Pre-quilting might shrink up the pieces a little but I don't think it would be too much because of the Bosal foam adding stability, so I don't think (without testing I can't be sure) that it would affect marking the darts much.

Top binding: I would still sew the binding on the top edges by hand as directed, but I would cut the shaped binding strips a little wider by adding a fat eighth inch on either side as I cut out. I also wouldn't bother with the mitred seam as this only works if the binding is exactly the right circumference to match the pocket (you sewed the pocket darts exactly the right width).  I would pin the binding round roughly to see where a normal straight seam needed to be made to join the binding, and I would position this seam offset from the covered back pocket seam to reduce bulk. The binding seam is mostly hidden in the finished result so this worked fine.

Shaping the central compartment: I was measuring and remeasuring and couldn't get my central pocket to divide into even three-inch segments, then I realised that the divisions need to be made to line up with the 'valleys' of the scalloped edge.  So just do that and don't worry about the three inch measurements for each segment. I think mine were 2 3/4" and they fit the pockets just fine.

Bases: The pattern instructions likewise call for a one-inch flap to be left for folding over the raw seam edges inside the pockets at the base.  I found this extremely fiddly: the loose flap got in the way while seaming the bases to the pockets,  and wasn't wide enough to easily fold over the raw edges afterwards. Following the instructions results in the folded edge of the flap ending up on 'top' so it is on view when you look into the pocket.  I tried sewing the flap down by machine but as you have to pleat the flap to get it to lie flat, it looked really messy.  So I sewed all seven base flaps down by hand. This took a long time, was fairly difficult as the flap wasn't wide enough and the Bosal not easy to stitch into, and I ended up with cramp in my hand for a couple of days.   And you are still looking at the messy pleated result when you look into the pocket.  I was trying to think of a better way to do this.  I think if I were to do it again, I would just trace the Pocket Base Template six times onto Fabric 1 in a tight grouping, trace the central compartment base template as well, then sandwich this and quilt them all at once. Then I would cut them out on the traced lines: no flaps.  Then I would seam the bases into the pockets.  To cover the raw edges I would cut 1 1/4" bias binding from the appropriate lining fabric (Fabric 1 or Fabric 2 to match the lining of the pocket), and stitch this down onto the pocket side of the base seam. Then when you fold the bias binding around the raw edges (like binding a quilt), your folded edge is going to be on the 'bottom' side of the raw edge, which will be hidden from view when you look into the pocket.  So I think you could then machine it down without worrying about the messy look because it will all be hidden (or you could still hand sew it down but it will be easier because the bias binding will fold better and will be wider).

Final joining: the instructions suggest that it is tricky to join the basket together by machine.  I actually found this quite straightforward and gave a neat result.  I was able to easily join all the pockets to the central compartment, sewing just in the ditch of the binding for an unobtrusive seam, and I sewed the 1 1/2" joining seam between pockets the same way.  Make sure you put a stronger needle into your machine to go through all the layers, I used a 90 sharp needle. Seaming the pockets was slightly trickier as you must flatten down the central compartment to get your needle into the starting position to sew outwards along the pocket for 1.5", but it certainly wasn't hard.

So there you are. I hope these thoughts might make the job easier for another person, and if I make another basket, this is how I would do it.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Three more days

I have three more days of work and then I am off from Thursday right through to the following Thursday - hurrah!  DH is even better, he's off right through until the new year. DS is home now, we collected him on Saturday. He hasn't been home since late September so it feels quite different to have a third person in the house again. I think if this had been his childhood home then it wouldn't be an issue, but because we've only been here a couple of years we've established routines in his absence at university.  He likewise has his own routines, like sleeping in until mid afternoon, sigh...

I've been doing a lot of knitting this week, trying to catch up on the Night Before Christmas KAL.  I'm still behind but I've done enough now that it's starting to look like something.

I still have to knit the book covers and the christmas tree, and obviously the fourth wall needs installing still. I'm really enjoying this project, it's sort of a crossover between my knitting and dollshousing hobbies.

I also finished the Christmas panel that I was quilting on in my last blog post, and it is adorning one of the sofas in the living room.  While I was looking for something in my stash, I came across some plaid fabric which rang a faint bell, and reminded me that I had made something Christmassy last year. I looked in my corner of many tops awaiting quilting, and sure enough there was the snowman quilt from last year which I had completely forgotten about.  Still only a top, but I hung it up to add a festive note. The quilt on the bed is a festive quilt as well all made from Christmas fabrics, that I made years ago from a Marti Michel pattern. One of these days I am going to have to bite the bullet and get out my quilt frame and see if it will fit into any of the rooms in the house, so that I can tackle the small hill of tops waiting to be turned into quilts.  This quilt won't go on the frame though, the snowmen are appliqued from thick wool felt which wouldn't roll smoothly. It will have to be quilted at the normal machine.

After finishing the panel, I started work on the Honeycomb Basket that I cut out the pieces for at the last sit and sew session.  The first step is to assemble and quilt the six pockets, which is going to take a while.  I am using Bosal foam as the stiffener.

I'm calling my Shed Project base finished now.  I painted some cheap gardening tools to look used and old, and have glued them into the garden scene and also finished the trellis seat.  Now I am trawling through my stash looking for items to furnish the inside with.

After we got back from Japan I felt really inspired by all the beautiful gardens we had seen, and I ordered a couple of secondhand books on Japanese gardens from Amazon.  As a first step, we installed a few rocks from the garden centre in the gravel border in our alley to make it look more interesting. I also found a cast stone Japanese lantern on eBay which doesn't look too terrible (we saw some appalling ones at the garden centre cast in resin and painted in technicolour). It would be nice to get a real stone one but they cost hundreds of pounds. It's a start anyway.

I've been working on the Japan scrapbook most nights as well, trying to get it finished so I can show the in-laws at Christmas.  I'm almost done now.  I'm a bit worried that to someone who wasn't on the trip, it is just going to look like a messy compilation of garden and temple pictures. But to us it is a nice memory capture of the whole trip.  It was sure a lot of work, I wouldn't do it for just any holiday.  I've more or less given up on whittling down the mountain of 1200 digital images, but I'm planning to pick 12 favourites and get a 2017 calendar made from them for me to use at my desk.

Hope your Christmas prep is under control and you are looking forward to a great festive weekend.

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