Saturday, 4 July 2015

RSC 15: week 27: Mid-year review

 To all my friends in the US:
Happy 4th July!

To the rest of the world:
Enjoy the Day! 

Here we're having a heatwave (yesterday was the hottest day EVER), and the Tour de France is about to start in Utrecht. The heat will not be a problem for the cyclists who are used to these kind of temperatures, but the spectators will be hard pressed to find a cool place to stand. I hope everyone goes well-prepared.

And now out of the sunshine and into the Rainbow!

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge is hosted by Angela at Soscrappy, who gives a different colour each month and many quilters concentrate on using that colour for the whole month. Some make blocks of  their own choosing, but Angela also publishes block patterns to use in a sampler quilt.

This is an overview of my Sawtooth Star sampler blocks so far. They are in a random order here.

All stars in the night sky in a random layout

I'm not happy with the two on the right of the top row. In January the colour was dark blue, and when you have a dark blue background dark blue stars pose something of a problem, don't you agree? As Angela's background is neutral I decided on neutral stars, but now I'm wondering if I should remake them in a medium blue, like Royal or Kingfisher. What do you think?

Green and yellow in the final layout.

This is as far as I've got with the alternate blocks which take their colour from the adjacent star blocks (great design: not my idea, but Angela's). So far I only have one pair of adjacent colours: yellow and green and I'm really pleased with how this is turning out. Below yellow will be orange, so the second half of the block between the two yellow stars will be orange. (If that doesn't make sense look here on Pinterest; you'll need to scroll right to the bottom.) Above the green will be blue, but I'm going to have to do some rearranging of my blue stars first.

This month's colour is red, and I haven't made any red sampler blocks yet, but I have made 3 hexagon flowers:

two added to the pile
and one already sewn into the top.
The hexagons are all made from scraps, at least 2.25"square, but for this red one there wasn't enough of just one fabric. This project started during my holiday last year as a "take away project", but this week I've been working on it at home. Sitting in the sun on my balcony, I made a start on joining the blocks. There aren't nearly enough for a quilt, but I'll just keep going: there's no deadline, and the little scraps keep coming!

I shall be linking up to 

RSC 15

so hop over there and have a look at all the rainbow progress this year.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 27 June 2015

RSC 15: week 26: The end of pale blue

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge is hosted by Angela at Soscrappy, who gives a different colour each month and many quilters concentrate on using that colour for the whole month. Some make blocks of  their own choosing, but Angela also publishes block patterns to use in a sampler quilt. This month's colour is pale blue, and last month's was green.

Clockwise from top left: Churn Dash, Woven four-patches, Split pin wheel and Ohio Crossroads
I've been away in Ireland and the UK for nearly four weeks, so was a bit behind. I've caught up now though, and made four blocks at the beginning of this week.

I shall be linking up to
RSC 15
this afternoon, so pop over there to see what other blue wonders have been produced this week.

Yesterday afternoon I posted my impression of the West of Ireland so go and have a look if you're interested; it's high on photos and low on text.

Happy sewing


Friday, 26 June 2015

A holiday impression of Ireland

My posts are always about my quilting exploits, but this photo-heavy post has nothing to do with making quilts, or any kind of needle and thread work on my part. You have been warned! On the other hand Ireland is a beautiful country.

I spent two weeks in May and June visiting the West of Ireland.We stayed two or three nights in B&B's  in the following places: Killarney, Dingle, Kilrush, Oughterard, and in Tullamore and one night in Dublin on the return journey. I unsuccessfully tried to include a map here, sorry.

From Killarney we toured the ring of Kerry

Muckross Gardens

Muckross Gardens: a hidden garden at the top of the rock garden.
Torc Waterfall. Aren't there always dare devils who clamber over rocks in a stream?
At the western end of the Kelly Peninsula the cliffs are high with wonderful views, I've been told. Unfortunately we only had about 50 metres visibility, so couldn't even see the sea! Alas, no photos!

From Dingle: The Dingle Peninsula

From Kilrush: Co. Clare

One day beautiful sunshine

Loop Head, at the mouth of the Shannon

and the next some drizzle,

The beach at Lahinch

followed by rain,
In the village of  Quilty, no less!
and the rain became a storm!

The Cliffs of Moher in a storm with driving horizontal rain!

After the cliffs there was just one thing for it ...!

The beach at Lahinch on the return journey. (with raindrops on the lens!)

From Ouchterard to Connemara National Park

where we found a good example of Irish humour.
official looking signpost

to the giant: late twentieth century antiquity!?

Conn son of the sea
built in 1994
… Mr. Joyce’s craft shop
for no apparent reason
Kylemore Abbey

The Church in the grounds of Kylemore Abbey


 On the way from Galway to Dublin we stayed in Tullamore and explored

Tullamore D.E.W. whiskey visitors' centre.

a peat bog: laid out as a tourist attraction with a long boardwalk and information boards along the route.

 and Athlone
Athlone from the Castle, looking across the Shannon

The River Shannon and the present day crossing; a river crossing which features large in Ireland's history.


One bicycle chained to the fence in the quadrangle at Trinity College.
We only spent half a day in Dublin and spent that time visiting Trinity College where we saw The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the Gospels from around the year 800. The tiny paintings are beautifully and intricately done in many colours and with gold leaf. Needless to say, there's no photography allowed there. We intend returning to Dublin sometime soon, for a so-called "City Trip" of three or four days.

That concludes my tour of the West of Ireland. We have good memories of friendly and helpful people and interesting conversations in the B&B's and pubs along the way.

The following day we took the ferry to the UK and spent the next week touring in Wales (the land of my fathers!)  and around Bristol.

I hope you have enjoyed the tour, and maybe will make the trip yourself someday.

In the meantime, it's back to the sewing machine and the 1/4 " seams!

Happy sewing


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Toadstool House has finally become a book cover!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side
This is my fifth finish for Finish Along 2015 Q2:


Finally I've finished that appliqué panel I started nearly two years ago and made it into something!

The original plan was to make a mini quilt wall hanging, but after I'd quilted the panel I decided I didn't want it hanging on the wall. My daughter suggested making it into a cushion, but I know that some of those appliqué seam allowances turned out very small, and wouldn't survive long as a cushion. Then I thought of a book cover to hide my former employer's logo on my pattern file (see earlier post). That is what the panel has become.

The finishing top and bottom is rather unconventional.

Because the panel was already quilted I couldn't make the cover in the usual way: add the wadding and lining, turn right side out, close the gap and then quilt - almost as the last step - before adjusting the flaps and top stitching all round to finish off. I considered binding, but then decided to zig-zag across the top and bottom to hold the layers together and finish the raw edges. Binding would have been neater but now it's finished!

I am linking up to

I shall be linking up to Adrianne at On the Windy Side at the beginning of the third quarter.

Happy Sewing


Monday, 22 June 2015

Camera Challenge 5 - Going fully manual

Littlest Thistle Camera Challenge 2015The Camera Challenge set this month by Katy at the Littlest Thistle was to take photos in manual mode. That means setting ISO and shutter speeds, and aperture value manually, without using any of the pre-set modes, which is what we have done so far.

Part 1  Landscape

The first one I took was totally black - completely off the scale! But keeping ISO speed and aperture value constant I fiddled with the shutter speed until I had the pointer in the middle of the scale in the view finder and the result is two reasonable photos:

Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, UK

The faster shutter speed in the second photo has resulted in a slightly darker photo, which I find more pleasing to look at, although the first is more true to reality as it was a very bright and sunny afternoon. How do we decide what is over, and what under exposed here?

Just round the corner from the first two photos I took some of the church. Again the ISO speed and aperture value are constant but the small difference in shutter speed caused the second photo to be darker. In this case the result is more realistic than the first, because the church itself was in the shadow of some large trees to the left of the picture. Unfortunately, my facing west north west was not a good position at that time of day, hence a strange sun-spot on the photos.

Part 2  Willing Subject

The second part of this month's challenge was to photograph a willing subject. Keeping ISO speed and aperture value constant I took three photos. The first one I consider to be good.
 But having taken it I realised the white balance was set on shade, whereas it should have been cloudy.
Instead of changing the setting to cloudy or automatic, however, I changed to custom without setting the colour values at all, just to see what would happen! And took the photo again with the same light settings. Result: brighter jersey and teeth.

And then again with a lower shutter speed. Everything is marginally lighter.

I don't think there was much point in setting to custom without setting white balance values in the menu. I didn't try it yet, but I expect setting white balance on automatic would have produced the same result. I must be getting the hang of this though, as the dial twiddling, button pressing part of getting a good shot is getting shorter! That should please my family ...

"Haven't you finished YET? Who said I was a 'willing subject'?"
There is a third part to the challenge: fast moving subjects, but I haven't seen any I could photograph. I hope this week to be able to take photos at a sports event.

I'm linking up to The Littlest Thistle. Go and visit there and see what other participants in the challenge have done this month.

Happy snapping!


Saturday, 20 June 2015

RSC 15: week 25: some blue and a lot of green

Each month Angela at Soscrappy gives a colour and the RSC group make patchwork in that colour. This month's colour is pale/medium blue and teal/aqua. I haven't made any sampler blocks this month, but I did get some hand sewing done during my holiday in Ireland.
three English paper-pieced blue hexagon flowers
When I was in Ireland I visited Kylemore Abbey in County Galway.
The Abbey is the home to a group of nuns, but was built in the nineteenth century with other occupants in mind. The first owner wanted a castle in a beautiful park and gardens to honour his bride. The result is a neo-gothic castle set in the most beautiful park with the mountains as backdrop.

Being Ireland the predominant colour is green, but among the green I managed to find some blue in the walled garden:

most of the woodwork in the enclosed garden was teal
 A year ago I didn't know what teal was; now I see it everywhere
Gardener's cottage (with gardener).
Isn't this the perfect location? I shall be publishing more photos from my holiday during the coming week so come back from Tuesday for some more views of Ireland and of Wales.

But now I have to catch up on sewing. I have four sawtooth star blocks to make; the ones that you all made while I was away!

I'm linking up to:
RSC 15 
Pop over there to see many more blue patchwork projects in progress

Happy sewing