Most of my regular readers will know I have been involved in a patchwork block swap with a group of twelve blogging friends from the States, U.K., France. Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. We were each allocated a month – mine was in October – and we receive three blocks in our previously chosen colours from each of the other participants, making 36 with which to eventually make a lovely quilt.
One of our number – Pat – had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer before the swap began but she felt it would give her something to aim for by participating and she was regularly contributing her blocks despite her health concerns. In the draw at the beginning of the swap, her name was picked for the last month of the twelve month period but, despite offers to swap with her for an earlier month, Pat felt it would give her a target so ‘Miss May’ she remained.
However, sadly, Pat has now stopped her treatment and is receiving palliative care.
The race was on to get the blocks for Pat’s quilt underway and sent to the U.S. for Sue, one of the organizers of the F2F swap, to put them all together and get them quilted by her son on his longarm quilting machine. So, ‘Miss January’ was dropped like a hot brick (sorry Emmely!) and we all started instead on Pat’s blocks which she had requested in teal blue with tan or cream – teal being the colour of the Ovarian Cancer ribbon symbol. I never realised I could piece a block so fast!
As these blocks are being made in far flung places and all have to make their way by post to the U.S., the actual, final quilt may take a little longer to come together so we all took photographs of the blocks we made and they were transformed into a ‘virtual quilt’ so that Pat can get an idea of what her quilt will look like when it’s ready.
We all really hope that we will have been in time and Pat will be able to see and touch her real life quilt.
I lost an aunt to ovarian cancer and, although it is a hard one to diagnose in the early stages, there are symptoms to look out for and I, and all the other members of the F2F block swap, would really like to take this opportunity to urge you to familiarise yourself with the symptoms of ovarian cancer — symptoms which are so common and so ephemeral that many don’t consider them symptoms at all. For this reason, ovarian cancer is rarely diagnosed in its early stages, often leading to a poor prognosis. Here are the symptoms: Bloating. Pelvic or abdominal pain. Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly. Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). Don’t panic as these are also common symptoms of less serious things but, if you have these symptoms – and they are unusual for you – many times in a single month, please visit your doctor or gynaecologist. For more information, visit:
or, in the U.K.
or, in French,
The last of my 36 blocks from the F2F block swap have arrived. With twelve participants in Australia, the United States and Europe, each sending three blocks off to one of the others every month, there’s a lot of room for mishaps concerning the various postal services. Due to a mix up with my postcode, two parcels went missing for a while. The weeks went by, then Avis in the U.K. got her parcel ‘returned to sender’ and re-directed it back to me but the package from Annett in Germany seemed to be a lost cause. Until it wasn’t! It too turned up with the postcode having been changed to the correct one – presumably by somebody in France – but then sent back to her instead of to me. A bit bizarre but a happy result anyway. Just look at the lovely blocks that could have been lost forever.
Annett managed to find some of the bird fabric that I had originally used for the inspiration for my colours. Due to my fabric fast, I wasn’t able to buy any myself but now I have some in two of the blocks she sent me.
It was the turquoise and flashes of pinky coral against the pale and dark greys that inspired me to make the colour choice for my eventual quilt.
This one is my favourite. I love the way Annett centred the two birds and the surrounding fabrics are just lovely. I believe this is called a pineapple block but correct me if I’m wrong. I thought this had been paper pieced but Annett has said she didn’t use that method. I must try some paper piecing this year although it does look fiddly and I don’t generally ‘do’ fiddly.
In the likely event that I will take forever and a day to actually piece the blocks and then quilt them, I have amused myself by making a collage of (nearly) all the blocks as if they were together in a quilt. I hope the other participants will forgive me if you notice one of your blocks missing but I only used the photos I was able to crop to a neat(ish) square. It doesn’t mean the missing block won’t be in the final quilt – I intend to use each and every one.
It will actually be longer than it is wide when I put it together and I haven’t decided what colour to do the sashing yet but what do you think? I really love the colours and the blocks are so gorgeous.
I am busy making my three blocks for Emmely who is ‘Miss January’ as far as receiving blocks is concerned and she has asked for green which I don’t normally use and, as I can’t buy any fabric at the moment, I’ve had to be very inventive with my scrap bag. This swap has really got me enthusiastic about patchwork again and I’ve been trying hard to be more accurate and adventurous. I’m not giving up making clothes entirely but I will be more fussy about what I make in the future. I have so many clothes and not many opportunities to wear a lot of them in rural France so I have to rein it in a bit. I think 2016 will see less dressmaking and more patchwork and knitting but that could change once I can buy fabric again!!
I wasn’t really being greedy by entering both the Stitching Santa and Knitting Santa organized by Sheila of Sewchet because it meant I also had to send out two packages but in for a penny in for a pound as I never say outside of blogland and why have one surprise gift when you can have two?
I showed you my gifts from my stitching santa (Susanna) a couple of days ago here. My secret Santa for the knitting section turned out to be Nikki of SewingNikki who blogs here and also has a pretty Etsy shop here. As France does not have a public holiday on Boxing Day like us Brits, the postman came and bought this festive looking bundle. It was actually really nice to have an extra pressie to open when I’d gorged myself with all the others on Christmas Day.
Two handmade felt bags were inside the package – lovely in themselves but holding yet more surprises.
A sweet smelling owl, some buttons – you can never have enough! – and an intriguing item made from a twisted vintage metal knitting needle. Is it a hatpin, a stitch holder – help me Nikki – I love it anyway!
Some knitting needles in the roll and, in a blatant attempt to lure me back to the dreaded crochet, a couple of pretty pink crochet hooks. Also some cute earrings which Nikki also sells in her shop.
However, my favourite, favourite gift was this splendid pattern for cushions, complete with four balls of navy aran yarn to knit one with. Spookily enough, I was looking at buying this pattern just before Christmas as I have so much fun knitting my huge cable blankets, I wanted to knit cushions to go with them. I particularly like the design on the centre one on the chair as the middle cable is one I haven’t tackled before.
Thank you Nikki, I love everything.
Like a fool, I didn’t photograph my gifts before wrapping them up and sending them to the bloggers I had been paired with but, if you are interested, they have both done my job for me and blogged about what I sent them here and here. I’ll know better next year and there will be a next year as it was a really fun swap. Thank you Sheila for all your hard work in organising us all.
This year I entered two secret santa type blog swaps kindly arranged by Sewchet. One was the Stitching Santa and the other (because I can’t have too much of a good thing) was the Knitting Santa. The idea is that you are paired with another blogger and, having read their blogs and sussed out their likes and interests as best you can, you make up a parcel of sewing (or knitting) related gifts for them to put under the tree to open on Christmas Day. If you have friends and family who don’t sew or knit, this is brilliant as you can be sure of getting some things from somebody who knows what another crafter would want.
First to arrive – so early in fact, I had to hide it away in case I was tempted to tear it open – was my Stitching Santa gift.
This came from Susanna over at Pins,Needles and Thread and the festive bag was full to bursting.
Some really pretty handmade, fabric covered buttons ….
A gorgeous little fabric hanging birdie who is swinging from my Christmas tree now….
Some patterns to tackle in the new year. I particularly love the Cynthia Rowley dress and so does my daughter – I’ve had to hide it from her……
and, as those of you who know about my year long Fabric Fast will appreciate, some very welcome fabric in various sizes suitable for patchwork and larger projects.
I also have some gorgeous things to show you from my Knitting Santa which arrived on Boxing Day – not a public holiday in France so the postman could deliver it. Actually, it was nice to have an extra gift to unwrap the day after. However, it is my Mum and eldest daughter’s last day here before returning to the U.K. tomorrow so I’ll go and spend some more quality time with them and show you my gifts from SewingNikki in a couple of days time.
I think it’s because my Mum and Mlle. Tialys the Elder arrive on Saturday for the duration of the festivities but I have suddenly realised Christmas is almost upon us. It must be – I’ve even done some housework. The spare bedroom was in use as a kitten nursery for a few weeks recently so I really had to get in there with the hoover, the steam mop and the cleaning products to give it a good going over. Not that my Mum is one for running her finger through the dust but coming across a stray, forgotten kitten poo might be a bit much
Well, I’ve sort of kick started myself now and made a couple of extra gifts for Christmas. Apart from a few gifts for the Secret Santa organised over at Sewchet, and the blanket I have knitted for my Mum, I hadn’t really got going with the handmade gifts this year.
I have got addicted to making postage stamp patchwork blocks and have made several for the block swap I’m participating in. I have a sewing buddy and we meet up every week and I find it a little daunting to make things for other people who sew or knit because, obviously, they are more critical. However, she doesn’t do patchwork so I thought I’d make her a little cushion out of a postage stamp block as it’s something she probably wouldn’t make for herself.
As I’m on a Fabric Fast (2 and a half months in and counting) I had to use fabric I already had but I wanted to make it a little bit ‘themed’. When I go to her house for our weekly ‘sew-in’ (or sometimes we go crazy and have a ‘knit-in’ instead) she always makes a cake and, being half English, she loves tea. I find it funny that, unusually in France, she adds milk to her tea – even the infusions – so the other day we had violet tea with milk. Even I wouldn’t do that and I’m fully English.
So, I used some fabric which is all about tea, some with images of lovely cakes, some with sewing bits and pieces, some sent to me as part of the block swap and some that my friend had bought for me because she felt sorry for me not being able to buy any myself.
This is the back because I wanted her to see the ‘Afternoon Tea’ fabric in full. Plus, my only purchase from a visit to the Christmas Market in Toulouse the other day. There was a gorgeous stall selling all different teas and infusions. The one in the photograph contains rose, apples and carrots and looks and smells like pot pourri. I bet she adds milk to it though.
Mlle. Tialys the Younger was panicking because she couldn’t think of anything to get her Nan for Christmas. My Mum is always cold when she’s here although our log burner did get the living room up to 27 degrees last Christmas and she did finally concede to taking the blanket from around her. The rest of us were walking around in t-shirts. However, we don’t have central heating and she’s used to it back in the U.K. – that and the fact she’s 83 and entitled to feel the cold I suppose. Anyway, last time she was here she had a pain in her neck – and it wasn’t me that time – so I thought a useful thing to give her as a gift would be a neck and shoulder heat pad thingy.
I had this cotton canvas fabric leftover from a bag project and found a tutorial which was a little different from just a tube of fabric filled with rice or wheat. This one is divided into sections and you fill each section separately so the resulting neck warmer is nice and flexible and drapes well around the back of your neck and shoulders. I used rice and added some lavender essential oil so, it smells lovely too and that will intensify once it has been in the microwave for a minute or two.
Also, it folds up nicely and, tied with a bow, makes a neat looking stocking filler.
I’m going to see if I can make two or three more before I run out of time.
Once they arrive, I probably won’t have chance to blog much so, in case this is the last one before Christmas, have a very merry one!
By the way, you can find the tutorial I followed for the neck warmer here http://www.sewcanshe.com/blog/2014/12/16/diy-heating-pad-for-shoulders-and-neck
Don’t panic, I haven’t added yet another homeless waif to my brood – this one is made of fabric and is one of the gorgeous blocks that Avis at OhSewTempting sent me back in the mists of time – well October anyway – as part of the F2F block swap I’m participating in but, because of a mix up with the postcode, we thought they were lost for all time.
Thank goodness they weren’t because they are all gorgeous but the dog one especially .
Even though the post office had changed the postcode to the correct one on the envelope, they still sent it back to the U.K. instead of forwarding it on to the correct region of France. What were they thinking? Still, I’m just grateful they are here now.
The other three blocks are stunning too. I’m going to have the best quilt in the world and nobody will be able to tell me different;)
Speaking of dogs, which I sort of was, I have been so disorganised leading up to Christmas this year that there has been a run on the dog collars I make to raise funds for the dog and cat shelter and I have run out of webbing. No hope of new stock getting here in time for anybody ordering them as Christmas gifts, so unless people want red or brown collars, they can’t have one. What a muppet!! Still, it was my first Christmas making these and I hadn’t really thought of them as being more popular at this time of year.
So, my best seller has had to be taken off the ‘virtual’ shelves
Come on you blues!!
Who knew there’d be so many Chelsea fans in the States?
but you’re in luck if you love a Scottie.
For those of you worried that I spent loads of money on a cat tree which will sit sadly, bereft of any living thing, in a corner – worry no more.
The kittens have taken to it big time. Although they do like climbing up the centre of the Jade Tree plant in the conservatory too. Well, they like climbing up anything really – as kittens do. Also the ‘Ungrateful Baggage’ mentioned in an earlier post who was showing no interest, has managed to get herself into the very highest basket where the kittens can’t quite yet reach. She sits there with a regal and self satisfied air which is what cats do.
Another week and he’ll be up there.
(Note the thing that had feathers to start with denuded and hanging limply from the top level)
Have you suddenly come to the realisation that there are things you wanted to do for Christmas that aren’t going to happen now?
This year I thought I’d enter for Sewchet’s Stitching Santa and, if that weren’t enough devilment for one day, I entered her Knitting Santa too.
We are supposed to blog a bit about the goodies we have made for our secret swap partners and take little teaser photographs.
However, I was in such a rush to get my parcels in the Christmas post that I completely forgot to photograph either the contents or the exteriors of the two packages I sent out .
Well, you can’t get more secret than that!
It’s true – but only a little bit – all is not lost – honest.
Before I ‘fess up however, a bit of a distraction. It’s a bit nippy today but beautiful – they did predict some snow and they were right – so,when I set out for our walk this morning, as well as a lead, a couple of tennis balls, a ball launcher and three dogs, I hauled my camera with me.
The view from halfway up my garden this morning.
These logs will need getting down to the bottom somehow.
Perhaps we could rig up some sort of dog sled thingy.
Anyway, back to my falling off the fabric wagon. A couple of weeks ago, we held a fund raising event for Dog Rescue Carcassonne and the Twilight home for old and/or sick dogs where a wonderful couple here in France have dedicated their lives to looking after these dogs that nobody else will take on. Anyway, I didn’t have a stall myself this time and just went along to
chat and spend money help out. Some of the stalls had set up the night before and one had some fabric ‘scraps’ for sale. The stallholder hadn’t yet arrived and I went over to have a look and spotted a tempting bit of something that looked a bit vintagey and a bit storybooky .
When I had a closer look , there was around a yard and a half of vintage Red Riding Hood fabric with such cute designs like this
that, without thinking, I nabbed it and, when she arrived, paid the 2 euros!! and put it in my bag along with 20 euros of cakes I’d just bought (oops ).
It wasn’t until a couple of hours afterwards that I remembered I was on a fabric fast. But it was vintage. It was 2 euros. It was for Dog Rescue. What would you have done? I’m back on the wagon now, honest.
I had taken along a couple of little dog coats that I had knitted because I was hoping that – being a doggy related event – somebody might come in with the right sized dog that they would let me dress up and use as a model. Sure enough, a couple came in with their cockerpoo (a cocker spaniel mixed with a poodle) a lovely girl called Saren and she was just the right size. I must admit I’m a bit confused that, all my dogs are mixes of something or other but are generally called ‘mutts’ or ‘mongrels but cockerpoos, shihpoos, labradoodles, etc. all have their own names. They all seem to include poodles. I’m pretty sure none of my dogs have ever been near a poodle so maybe that’s why. The nearest I could get with mine would be a bordador or a shepcol and even they would be a wild guess. Anyway, I digress, she was a lovely girl who patiently modelled my knitted coats.
Or, I have asked if Twilight might be able to use some for the old dogs to wear this winter. I’d better get a move on with my boyfriend cardigan then in case they say ‘yes’.
Off to re-light the log burner.