Thursday, 26 April 2012

A Special Present and A Mother's Work

I have been wanting to blog about the special present that I made for a special friend for a while, but given that she lives in Australia, she has only just received it!  And of course I didn't want to ruin the surprise or give her any inkling at all before it got to her.  Anyhow, let me tell you all about it. 

I met Julie firstly through Facebook, as we are both studying through the School of Stitched Textiles.  I am doing the Level 3 Certificate in Patchwork and Quilting, and Julie is doing the Level 3 Certificate in Embroidery.  Although the courses are different, there is a lot of cross over and many elements are the same, particularly the initial 5 'design'  modules.  (The ones I am still slogging my way through.) So having 'met' it has been really nice to look at one anothers work and also share experiences of distance learning.  We soon realised we had a lot in common and we often email with our news and lack of progress.   But the fantastic news is that Julie has, after several years of studying, finally finished!  As a fellow C & G student I know exactly what a huge achievement this is - I am sure that Julie will agree with me that there is just SO much involved, so to get to the finish line is just wonderful.  Julie's work is stunning, and her dedication to the course has been second to none.  I am sure she won't mind you taking a look at her blog which charts all of her work, right from the beginning of the course, up until the end.   

So a little hand made gift seemed to the be perfect present as way of celebration.  And knowing that Julie loves chocolate, what better a gift than a little 'chocolate stash' bag;

I hope she likes it.  Based loosely on the Easter Bunny Bags that I made last month, I hand appliqued felt flowers of my own design onto the bag.  And then filled it with chocolate. :-)   

Now, as promised, I am going to answer the questions relating to 'A Mother's work' as I was tagged by my *real life* friend Menai on her blog.  (This meme was originally started by ).

  1. Please post the rules
  2. Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
  3. Leave a comment on so we can keep track of the meme
  4. Tag 3 people and link to them on your blog
  5. Let them know you tagged them
  6. Tweet loudly about taking part (well ok, that isn’t a rule, but how about if we start a hashtag – #amothersworkmeme )

Did you work before becoming a mum?

Yes, I have always worked.  Right back when I was still at school I worked to get extra cash and save up for a car.  I was desperate to be old enough to work in Tescos and as soon as I was I applied and was there for four and a half years, and I made some great friends.  I worked while I was at university, both when I was there and also when I returned home for the holidays.  In fact, one of my very best jobs was working for Costa Coffee, making coffee all day long - I loved it.  I even went to Costa College in London for 2 days to learn to make the 'perfect espresso!' After uni I fell into working for a Social Housing Association, doing project work.  My claim to fame for this period of my life is that I got to interview Sir Steve Redgrave.  That was a lot of fun, if not slightly nerve wracking.  But the best thing about working for the housing association was that I met my wonderful husband.  But I knew that deep down I wanted to be a teacher, so I returned to university and did a PGCE, got married and then worked for two years as a primary school teacher.  It was during the second year that I fell pregnant with Freya and I haven't returned to full time teaching since.  When she was about 1 I started doing private tuition, which was a great way of me keeping my hand in, and it was great working on a one to one basis with the children.  I really saw them progress over the time that I was with them and grow in confidence too. 

What is your current situation?

It was only because we moved to Jersey that I had to stop tutoring.  Because my husband works so many hours and often at the weekend too, I just can't make a regular commitment.  Oh and William was born so I have been a little bit  busy recently!  Looking after two children has been a real challenge; I find that their needs are just so different.  But it is starting to get very slightly easier now that Freya is used to William being around, and William is a lot more alert and aware of his surroundings. 

I find it frustrating that I don't do any 'paid' work and make any financial contribution to our family at the moment, it's something I feel guilty about, but it's just not possible.  Having said that, I have done a little bit of writing for a magazine that is going to be published very soon, I shall provide more details once it's out there!  It's not much but it means that I can buy some gorgeous fabrics for my stash with my earnings and feel proud that I earned the money myself, and writing about something I love.  Any guesses?! 

Living in Jersey, I have found it a lot easier not to have to justify why I am not working.  When I was living in the UK, I was constantly being asked 'are you going back to work?' and I just sensed that people were surprised that I wasn't.  Over here, a lot of mum's don't work at all while they have small children, so I feel a lot more comfortable, as I am not the odd one out.  Having said that, in Jersey, for mum's who have a baby, they only get 6 months maternity leave (compared to a year in the UK) and then they are faced with the choice of going back to work and putting their child in a nursery, or leaving work altogether.  I think it's madness to expect a mother to return to full time work after 6 months, and yet, sadly, many mum's are forced to do this. 

Freestyling ambitions for the future

I have chosen this topic to freestyle about because it is something that I think about a lot.  If you're reading this blog then you will know I am studying for a Level 3 C and G in Patchwork and Quilting; this is a big investment, time wise, skills wise and also money wise.  I really do hope that I can make a career out of it in the future.  This is what I am passionate about, and to make it into my career would be just wonderful.  I already have the teaching qualification and I would like to run workshops, either for adults or children, and perhaps in the future sell quilts that I have designed.  I would also like to do more writing; articles for magazines, blogs etc. and who knows, perhaps some day a book!  This is what I am striving for, and every time I work on my coursework or write an article or make a quilt that people like, I feel like I am just one step closer to that.  Time is very limited at the moment, but all I can do is use every bit of spare time I have productively and work towards achieving all of this.  I really want to make this happen!

Thank you so much for reading.  Sorry for such a long blog post.  I would love to hear your comments and your thoughts on A Mother's Work. 

I'm Tagging:

Claire of Tryingtobecrafty

Liz of Dandelion Daydreams

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Scraptastic Reycling

I have a few WIP's at the moment.  The cards for Siblings Together are coming along nicely; I am gathering my thoughts in preparation for starting module 5 of my coursework; (I plan to start on Monday) and I have just received the backing fabric for the quilt top that I made for William last week.  I am also trying to get to grips with so that I can redesign my blog header and create a blog button; easier said than done.  Watch this space. 

But over the weekend I completed a project that I didn't even plan on making.  This is what happened. 

I had lots of little scraps left over from Williams quilt, sewn together in 3's from where I had made the strips and cut them up.  It seemed like a crime to throw them away, they were just so pretty.  So I decided to sew them all together, and make a mini quilt for William's teddy bear.  Just a simple patchwork, with hand quilting and matching backing and binding that I plan to use for William's own quilt.  Here is the result...

He certainly needs it because temperatures here are at an all time low, with gale force winds and driving rain.  It feels like the depths of Winter :-(

On a more positive note, I have been tagged by my lovely *real life* friend Menai  on her blog, in relation to answering questions on the theme 'A Mother's Work'.  I have very much enjoyed reading Menai's responses and I am going to ponder the questions and post my answers tomorrow.  It's not entirely quilting related I know, but then I do hope that patchwork and quilting will be my 'work' in the future, so I guess it kind of is. 

Better get my thinking cap on! 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Liebster Award Winners and Siblings Together

Yesterday I posted about the exciting news that I won the Liebster Award!  (See yesterdays post for full details of the award). 

 And today it is my turn to present it to 5 blogs that I have really enjoyed following.  So after careful consideration, I present the Liebster Award to the following people:

Julie at Thimble Fingers

Kelsey at Kelsey Sews

Jeanne at Purple Pinwheels

Yzo at Chez Roo

All such great, inspiring blogs, please do take a look! 

In other news, I have got a big task ahead.  I wrote a poem for the wonderful charity Siblings Together, as my very small contribution to the efforts by Lynne and her followers at Lily's Quilts to make a quilt for every sibling that is attending summer camp this July.

Quilts for Siblings Together

It has been decided that every child is going to receive a copy of my poem in a little card, and I have gladly volunteered my card making services.  Here is a sample of what they are going to look like:

So how many have I got to make? 

50?  No.

80? No.


I better get started!  

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Liebster Award - for me!

Have you come across the Liebster award - well I had, but I never thought I would win it - and today I did!  Presented to me by the lovely Liz at Dandelion Daydreams who has a fantastic blog and some stunning quilts.  Thank you so much Liz, it's a great honour and I am very flattered that you chose my blog.

This is what the award is all about:

About the Liebster Blog Award

The origins of the Liebster Blog award are somewhat unclear but the general consensus is that it originated in Germany, Liebster meaning favourite or dearest, to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. Upon accepting the award the recipient must then pass it on to five more blogs of note. A way of introducing other bloggers to the blogs you enjoy.

The Liebster Convention says that:-
1. Thank your award presenter on your blog and link back to him/her;
2. Copy and paste the award to your blog;
3. Present the Liebster Award to 5 blogs (with less than 200 followers) that you love;
4. Leave a comment on their blog to let them know;
5. Have faith that those award winners will spread the blog love.

I am now going to have a little look around and have a think about who I am going to present the Liebster Award to.  I have a few ideas and I shall post the winners tomorrow.  Watch this space!

I have a few more things to post about too, but I shall save it all for tomorrow as well.  Just a few things I need to finish off before I can show you!

Goodnight from a very happy blogger :-) x

Friday, 20 April 2012

Good News and Good Progress

Well the first thing that I have to report today is that I have passed Module 4 - hooray!  Well, actually it's not really a pass/fail type situation, it's more of a 'have you met all of the criteria' thing and if not then you are told what you need to do to meet it... and the good news is, yes I have met it all.  Phew.  And enormous sigh of relief.  Onwards and upwards to Module 5!

But before I make a start, as previously posted, I promised I would make William a quilt, and after two very long, late nights, I have finally managed to put the quilt top together. 

I wanted it to be something quite simple so that I could piece it together quickly and I found this design on a blog by Flossie Teacakes - a popular, delightful and informative blog that I have been following for some time now, about all things sewing, and with a little quilting thrown in for good measure too.  (You can find the tutorial here).  I didn't follow it too closely, just used it mainly for the inspiration and measurements.  I also cut long strips and sewed them in sets of three then cut them up into blocks of three, rather than doing them all individually, as the tutorial suggests -  cheating, I'm not sure, but far, far quicker!

But now I have a problem.  I don't have enough fabric for the back.  I am going to go with the blue stars on white for the back, but given that it was a fat quarter bundle, I shall have to go back and get some more fabric.  I am also wondering how to quilt it.  I want to use my lovely number 8 perle cotton white thread, but I am unsure how best to do it.  Stitching 'in the ditch' is an option, but slightly boring I feel.  Any suggestions gratefully received!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Another Module Down...

It's been a while since I blogged about anything actually related to my course.  But that's because I have been busy doing it, rather than writing about it.  And finally, finally, after 4 months, and Christmas, and having a baby, I have finished module 4!  (Now all I need to do is pass).

If I'm honest, it's not been my favourite module.  With the criteria being to work in black and white, I have found it a bit limiting, and I have decided I am most definitely a colourful sort of girl.  Well, I don't know about in personality, but certainly with the things that I make! 

Anyhow, here are a few pictures;

The 'Texture Collection'

Using textured papers

Final Resolved Piece
And then there are the applique samples, which I really enjoyed putting together.  I have done about 8  different types of applique now, so I feel I qualify as an expert!  I won't bore you with them all but here are a just couple;

Hawaiian Applique

Machine Bias Applique

Stained Glass Applique

So very soon it will be on to module 5, the last of the design portfolios, before module 6 which is the planning and designing of a wall hanging.
But before I undertake module 5, I have promised baby William that I will make him a quilt for his bedroom.  It's only fair, because I made one for Freya when she was born, back in the days when I knew nothing about 1/4 inch seams, rotary cutters, acryllic rulers, designer fabrics etc. etc.  Boy, I 've learnt a lot about quilting in these last few years!  I have been working on it for just one evening so far, and all my blocks are complete and ready to be constructed into a quilt top, but I shall save progress for another day.    But I can't resist showing you the gorgeous fabrics that I'm working with;

Sorry it's a bit of a dark photo, but they really are delicious fabrics in real life and I am very excited to see William's quilt take shape.
Right, must crack on, I will have another night of sewing till nearly midnight and I hope to post a complete quilt top soon!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Siblings Together

I have been following Lynne at Lily's Quilts for a few months now.  She has a great blog and I have made lots of new friends through her 'small blog meet.'  But there is something else that she is doing that is really rather special.

Lynne is supporting the charity Siblings Together, a project that, in a nutshell, reunites siblings at a summer camp, who are otherwise separated by the care system. 

Quilts for Siblings Together

Lynne has come up with the wonderful idea of giving a quilt to each of these children, to take home with them, as a reminder of their stay and the special time they had with their sibling.  The response has been overwhelming, and quilts have been provided from all over the world.  And not just any old quilts; quilts that have been years in the making, quilts with beautiful fabrics, quilts with children and teenagers in mind.  And others have donated blocks, offered their services to quilt quilt tops, and some have provided fabrics for others who have more time to make a quilt - you can see them all on the dedicated flickr group.

Every time Lynne posted about progress and the marvellous momentum that her appeal has gathered, I kept feeling that I wanted to contribute, but the reality is my time is stretched to the max with looking after Freya and baby William (not to mention squeezing in some coursework at every spare opportunity) so making a whole quilt in a timely fashion is just realistically not going to happen.  :-(  So I came up with an idea to write a poem, which could be given to the children, or, as Lynne has suggested, somehow incorporated into the quilts.  Here it is:

If you’re feeling lonely
And you don’t know what to do,
Wrap this quilt around you,
And love will come shining through.

You may not always be together,
But forever in your hearts
Is a love so strong, unbreakable,
It cannot come apart.

And every stitch is sewn with love,
With colours to brighten your day,
The pattern chosen carefully,
To remind you of your stay.
So take your quilt and treasure it,
Let it be your joy and pride,
Remember all the special times
With your sibling by your side.
It's just a small contribution to this wonderful project, but I hope the children can read it as they look at their quilts and take that little bit of comfort. 

Monday, 2 April 2012

Small Blog Meet, Collage and Cakes

Well we are now in the full throws of Spring and with Easter round the corner, what better way to celebrate than by making some new friendships.  So I have decided to take part in Lily from Lily's Quilts small blog meet.

The idea is for bloggers with a small following to get to know fellow bloggers, all with patchwork, quilting and sewing in common.  Perfect!

So welcome new friends if you are out there!  I hope you enjoy reading my blog and I shall make the time to have a look at and follow yours too. 

(I can't for the life of me get the logo embedded within this text so I have put it up on the right hand side - please forgive my technical incompetence!)
And following on from my previous blog post, I have worked hard and finished my second texture collage for my coursework, based on the lighthouse at Corbiere.  It's a shame you can't see the detail of the lighthouse; I painted sandpaper white to create a granite effect, which in real life looks more effective than in the photo.  Anyhow, here's the pics;

Just one more collage to go then I am done for this module.  Getting there, slowly, slowly! 

Freya and I also had lots of fun this weekend making Postman Pat Cakes.  Postman Pat is the current favourite in our house, so when Freya saw the box of cake mix at the supermarket with Postman Pat on it, how could we refuse.  But I don't like the idea of making cakes by adding milk and egg to a powder, (I don't want Freya to think that is how cakes are made) so I binned the pre-made mixture when she wasn't looking and we made cup cakes from scratch, which was lots more fun.

And trust me, they were deeeeeeeeelicious!