zondag 19 december 2010

I've been handed a baton...

... or in Dutch: een stokje. I get to share 10 thoughts with you on my blog and then pass the baton to three other bloggers. Yvonne has whacked me over the head with the baton, exhorting me to blog more often. OK Yvonne, I'll do as you say - this time!

1. My first thought is for my mother and stepfather. Today is their 25th wedding anniversary. We had planned to celebrate this special day with a family outing to a hotel in beautiful surroundings on the Veluwe. However, due to the weather and traffic conditions, the trip has been postponed. It's been a great disappointment to us all not to be able to spend this weekend together. So, I send my love and congratulations to my mother and stepfather. We'll have our family weekend sometime soon!

2. Lately we've had a lot of snow in Europe. In the Netherlands, the snow has led to major traffic problems. Of course, there are snow scenes to view everywhere. This is a panorama shot from my balcony:

Unfortunately, there was no sun when I took the picture, while it was very sunny a little later when I was at the indoor shopping center. Oh well!

3. Little things can make a big difference. It's strange how often I forget that! Yesterday, I finally removed a green computer cable that had been nailed to the skirting board. I have always disliked the thing because the green color made it very noticable. For over half a year I've had a new wireless router, so this cable was no longer necessary. Now that it's gone, I love my sewing room even more than before. And all it took was 'just doing it', which took only about five minutes of my time :-)

4. Cats. I just love them! They are such experts at making themselves comfortable. It's an enviable skill. Here's Bennie in his most recent favorite spot, probably the warmest place in the house:

5. I enjoy doing cryptic cross word puzzles. There's a very good one in one of the news papers that I love to do (Scrypto by J.J. Steenhuis in NRC Handelsblad). This week, it's a double sized puzzle and my mom, sister and I co-operated to solve it. We had fun!

6. Did you wonder how far I would get without mentioning quilts? Only half way through this list! I hope you don't mind ;-) Last week, I tried to do some liberated piecing.

The letters came out OK, but the sashing is not to my liking. There's too much black, and probably too much of the black and white stripes. The thing definitely needs a lot more color! So I've decided to rip most of it out and try again. I'm not sure when I'll get to it, because I have something else I'm rather enjoying working on right now...

7. I'll be spending the Christmas weekend with my father. We still need to figure out the menu. Christmas dinner for two, and we have no desire to spend all day in the kitchen preparing food. It's as well that we love simple things. So I'm thinking Brussels sprouts, a nice cut of meat (we're considering venison or maybe ostrich), a fresh salad, some sauteed potatoes, and a rich chocolate mousse for desert... Oh, and I must do some stewed pears, too! Yum!

8. I wonder what Merel is up to. Today is the first day of her two week vacation. I imagine her curled up on her couch with a book (or several books more likely), quilts and cats draped around en on top of her. I hope you'll be able to enjoy your free time and relax!

9. I enjoy watching movies, especially ones with Johnny Depp. And I love spotting quilts in movies or on TV. In the movie Sleepy Hollow, there are some bed scenes (nothing racy, it's all very modest, more's the pity! LOL!) In any case, Ichabod Crane, portrayed by Johnny Depp, is seen to lay in and on a bed with a quilt. I've been planning to make my own 'Sleepy Hollow Quilt' ever since spotting the quilt in the movie. I took some screen shots from the dvd:

It looks like the quilt is an old one, because the fabric of some of the triangles has almost completely disintegrated. But what a wonderful, simple quilt!

From these picture, I have roughly estimated the height and width of the triangle units. I have adapted them somewhat to make them easier to cut using a ruler already in my collection. I think I'll want to eventually quilt this one by hand, using a very simple all over pattern. The one in the movie was quilted in a simple diagonal grid.

Here's some of my effort so far:

I think I like it!

10. Wow, I'm really making too much of this list. I've been trying way too long and hard to track just one more 'bloggable' thought... so this is it! I give up, this is my list and it's good enough for me.

I would like to pass the baton to Creatieveling Elly, Inge at Chevremont (both are Dutch language blogs) and any reader who would like to join in! If you do, please leave a message with a URL. I'd love to read your thoughts!

zondag 5 december 2010

Quilting forever, blogging whenever?

It is strange.
I like blogging.
Then why don't I?
Hmmm, could it be that I have way too many shoulds?
I feel I should blog three times a week.
I think everything I say should make sense.
Like every picture I show should be perfect. And so on and so on...

Is it any wonder that blogging starts to feel like housework? I don't want it to be a chore, I want it to be FUN! I will try again to let go of some many of my shoulds. I know I'm not the only blogger who ever expressed this. I do hope that getting it off my chest will help me go on - whenever and in whatever fashion I wish to.

Let me show you what things quilty have been keeping me busy lately!

My purple squares quilt is finished, only the label is still to be added. And there's the catch: I can't think of a name for this one! Purple Squares is very descriptive, yet as a name I find it a bit too simple. Can you help?

Then I've been busy with Sarah Fielke's Dolly Quilts at Birdblocks quiltshop in Amsterdam. I've been working my way towards my own 'wall of quilts'. I'm not quite there yet, but here's a peek at the dolly quilts I have finished, pinned to my designwall:

To give you an idea of the size of these little quilts: the crazy quilt one is 12.5" (32 cm) square. Yesterday I finished Peppermint Pyramids (bottom right). Now I'm quilting the first in the Dolly Quilt series, Colour Me Happy:

I'd love to finish the machine quilting and then put the binding on today. That's not going to happen though, because I need to do some 'work' on the next DQ. It involves liberated piecing. I'm afraid I'm not a liberated quilter. In fact, I'm a fusspot when it comes to straight seems and matching points. So liberated piecing will be quite a challenge. But stalling on that project has helped reduce my UFO-pile!

zondag 26 september 2010

Catching up

It's been a while (a long while) since my last blog entry. My perfectionist side insists that I should catch up with the blog, which would involve writing about all that I have done in the past two months. However, doing that would be way too time consuming - for me and you as readers. And probably not very interesting, anyway. So, I have decided to catch up by posting a few pictures and short comments on the relevant events.

On July 14, I tripped and broke my ankle in two places. It was quite painful and my injury kept me from work, driving my car and operating my sewing machine for six weeks. I'm better now, so let's not dwell on the subject ;-)

It was a bit uncertain whether I would be able to go to the Festival of Threads in Birmingham (August 19-22). The doctor had warned me not to walk very much. However, some clever thinking resulted in the plan to rent a mobility scooter for getting around the venue. This worked out very well, as you can see above. Thank you Sommeke, for taking this picture!

And here's part of my festival purchases. I also bought three wonderful books. There were so many vendors, it was absolutely overwhelming! Amazingly, I managed to stick to my budget. It was hard, especially because I was sorely tempted to buy a new sewing machine (Juki TL-98P). This machine feels very solid and has a much larger harp than my regular sized Pfaff. When I'm machine quilting my bed sized quilts, I frequently wish for that extra space. However, budgetary sanity prevailed - this time!

As often happens, Merel and I both saw and loved the same quilt and wanted to do something similar. This time, it was this quilt by Rita from Red Pepper Quilts blog. I was stuck at home and, lo and behold, Merel came around with a stack of solid purple fat quarters. Before long, I had cut several hundreds of solid purple squares and just as many different colored ones in printed fabrics. After my foot was released from its cast, I started sewing and pressing.


doesn't look like much to me.

looks like I'm getting somewhere finally. This weekend, I have been pinning (yes, I've found that pinning greatly improves my piecing precision), sewing and pressing almost non stop. It's time now to clear my design wall, so I can arrange a total of 108 blocks in preparation for assembling the top. I hope to be able to show more soon!

zondag 13 juni 2010

Back at last - School's out! - Muffin mania

Did you think I had gotten bored with this blog? It's been almost five weeks since my last entry, so I can't blame you if you did. However, there's an entirely different reason for my absence and I'll admit up front that I could have told you about it much earlier.
Last week I had a final assessment at college, the last requirement for me to fulfill before I could graduate. In the weeks prior to the assessment, I found that blogging (OK, blogging and blog surfing) was taking up too much of my time. Blogging is so much more fun than doing school stuff! I had to make a choice: keep on blogging and postpone my graduation date, or stop blogging for a month and graduate in July. I made the right choice (and what a novelty that is - LOL!). Happily, the assessment went well and I will graduate in July - YAY!

Can you imagine that I've had 'School's out' in my head for days now?
I love this video:

Sooo, now you might also think I've spent all my free time this weekend quilting? Not quite! I did assist Merel while she gave a workshop (Sarah Fielke's Dolly Quilts) on Saturday. Click here to visit her blog and see a picture of her finished quilt.

As Merels assistant, I also showed my dolly quilt in progress. I would have loved to be able to show a completed quilt, but I haven't felt much like quilting since doing my assessment. Well, at least I got the top finished on time and that's OK for now:

This was fun to make. It involved lots of rummaging in bins and piles of fabrics to find the right shades and tints, which of course resulted in a hugely messy quilt room. Ahh, such fun! I'll be doing the whole year long series of monthly dolly quilts and am looking forward to filling an entire wall in my living room with small quilts.

I also managed to engage in some light stash enhancing exercises. I mean, can you blame me for wanting this lovely roll of fabric?

And today (Sunday) I spent in the kitchen, baking muffins - lots of muffins! It's been many years since I baked muffins, and then I only baked them from a packet of muffin mix. I had fun today making different flavors, all from scratch: lemon and vanilla, chocolate, banana and coconut, and finally my favorite: blueberry! I made eight batches of batter and baked 95 muffins! I'll take these to the office tomorrow. I hope my colleagues like muffins as much as I do!

I hope I'll finally feel like quilting again tomorrow- it would be great to get my dolly quilt top sandwiched so I could start hand quilting that.

maandag 10 mei 2010

Not a dolly quilt...

but I had a quick start and finish this past week anyway! Bennie is a very sweet cat, but he leaves his strawberry blonde hairs all over the place. And because he seems to prefer my very dark purple foot stool to most other lounging spots, that's where most of the shed hair seemed to accumulate: exactly where it shows the most. My sister's cat Tejo was white and loved taking naps on her black clothes. It must be a cat thing...

The best way to make sure Bennie could keep his lounge seat and I would not have to vacuum it every day, was - of course - to make a little quilt for him to sleep on. So I took some leftover fabrics from my previous project and started cutting and sewing. Bennie kept coming by to inspect the goings on and seemed very pleased with progress.

Yesterday evening, the quilt was finished and Bennie has his very own quilt on top of his foot stool throne.

Here's a full view of the quilt. The patches are 2" finished size, making this quilt approximately 34" or 86 cm square. I machine quilted it in diagonal lines. I think that's fine for a utility quilt like this and it works with the trip around the world pattern.

I love working on the big bed size quilts I usually make, but making large quilts has at least one downside: I can count very few finished projects in a year. That's why it feels so good to start and finish a quilt in a short time once in a while: I need that sense of accomplishment. And while I sit at my computer, Bennie dozes off on his special kitty quilt. What a wonderful feeling!

maandag 3 mei 2010

Lady of the Lake top finish

No, I did not start a dolly quilt just yet. I'll ponder that a little while longer, until I have a clearer idea of what I want it to look like.

However, I finished my Lady of the Lake top. I had been having doubts about my color choices. I usually go for bright colors in my quilts, that's what I feel comfortable with. For this quilt, I wanted to challenge myself, so I chose batiks in colors I don't usually work with. There are lots of browns and greens in there, definitely not my favorite colors. And then I even put in some pinkish background fabrics... all fine, but I was starting to get worried if I could make it work. Now you can see for yourself:

Now it's all together, I think I like the colors and the simple repetition of the block pattern. The top is quite large, like most of my quilts. It measures 69 by 91" or 175 by 228 cm. I can't get a full picture of it in my sewing room because the walls are too close together, even when I use the wide angle setting on my camera :-) I'll have to take the top to someone's garden to get it all in one shot. I wish I had a garden - and a larger sewing room would be really good too!

zaterdag 1 mei 2010

Open European Quilt Championships in Veldhoven

Today I went to Veldhoven for the OEQC and had a wonderful time. I was there early and made a point of viewing the quilts on exhibit. The vast majority looked wonderful, and the quilts were exhibited a lot better than previous years (there have been lighting and placement issues at the current venue). I also think there were many more quilts on show than before - which in my book is great. Unfortunately, I had left my camera at home, so it's a good thing I have the catalog with color pictures of all the contest quilts.

There were lots of vendors and many people buying the goods. I joined in the fun by adding a little to my stash:

It looks as if there's at least one predominantly black & white project in my near future! Or lots of quilts with b&w details? I'm not sure yet, but I simply love these stripes and dots. I was also tempted to buy some King Tut variegated quilting thread, they come in so many yummy colors. However, I'm still a novice machine quilter and I decided to hold off on those. There will be plenty of opportunities yet to invest in beautiful threads ;-)

And for most of the day, I helped Merel in her booth. It's such a joy to help quilters find the right fabrics for their projects. You get to meet quilters with lots of different styles and tastes, it's so inspiring!

One of the things I love about going to quilt shows is meeting quilting friends. Today, I ran into Hilde, Shirley, Katrien, Inge, Inge, Erna, Evy, and many others. It was great seeing you all and I hope to see you again soon!

Something else I feel very good about is that I managed to reduce my stack of UFO's. I donated two projects that I have not worked on for years to Stichting Verdanda. The people of Verdanda make quilts for  handicapped people. The quilts are very well received and I enjoy contributing to their good works in this small way. Plus it relieves me of some of my feelings of guilt about all those unfinished projects hidden away in boxes and drawers!

So I've been a very good quilter today... does that mean I can now start a new quilt? I've been dying to make a doll sized quilt... it would be a quickie project - can I, pretty please???

donderdag 15 april 2010

Progress report and mini bee

It's going to be simply wonderful to finally, after almost four years of study, have some more time for quilting. Here's what I've been working on during my bits of quilting time lately.

First, there are the Lady of the Lake blocks I got out when I went to visit my father a few weeks ago. After that weekend, I put in a little more time and got twenty more blocks finished. I sewed the last seams on these last evening and pressed them this evening. I now have a total of 104 blocks and need only 4 more to make the quilt I have in mind. Here they are, waiting for a chance to jump onto my design wall:

And, like so many other quilters, I have a Dear Jane quilt in (extremely slow) progress. I started working on my DJ almost exactly five years ago and have so far made 52 blocks. I'm stitching these by hand, mostly as my portable project. I'm a very slow and meticulous hand stitcher, so each block takes ages to finish. I am aware I could let go of my perfectionism a little and stitch faster, but I don't want to - this is how I like to do these blocks!

When I visited my mother and my step dad, I had brought a little block to sew. I actually finished it during the Easter weekend:

I think it turned out really well!

Yesterday evening my dear friend Merel joined me for a bee. We've been having our little two person bee at irregular times due to our busy schedules. We're both looking forward to getting together more frequently. We had a wonderful time catching up and Merel even brought me some lovely presents to celebrate Benny's adoption:

I just don't know which of these I like best: the beautiful calendar with oh so gorgeous quilts, the sweet pink fabric with the cutest little cat foot prints, or the pattern for a little cat quilt. Merel made this quilt too and I think it's adorable. You can see it here. And Benny really enjoys these cat treats, which makes me happy in turn! Thank you Merel, you're a wonderful and generous friend!

zondag 11 april 2010

Please meet my new quilting buddy: Benny!

Wow, the past couple of weeks have just flown by. I won't bother you with all the details, but I've been so busy with work, family matters and other 'stuff', that quilting and blogging time was scarce. However, there's good news too: meet Benny!

I adopted Benny from the shelter last Friday. He was very shy in the shelter as he was bullied by a female cat. However, he obviously enjoyed me stroking him and according to the lady at the shelter Benny has a very friendly disposition. I liked him immediately too, so I invited him to come and live with me. He is still getting used to his new surroudings (including me, of course) but he is starting to relax. He follows me around wherever I go and loves to cuddle. I think we'll get along just fine! It will be fun to see what he makes of my sewing and if he will try to 'help'.

Here's Benny on his pillow, getting used to my sewing room. That's where he is right now, within two feet from where I'm sitting and typing this blog entry.

So there it is, I've joined the hordes of quilting cat personnel!

zondag 28 maart 2010

This has been another great weekend. I went to visit my Dad and stayed Saturday and most of Sunday. We are great pals, we talk and laugh a lot and usually stay up way too late. We also enjoy cooking together.

I had brought my Featherweight and was patching some Lady of the Lake blocks while my dad was trying to figure something out on his computer. We were each doing our own thing and both enjoying the company. What a great way to spend the weekend. My dad rules! :-)

Here are the blocks I sewed, I have four more about half way done.

These blocks are fairly straight, it's my photographic skills that are wonky! 

dinsdag 23 maart 2010

Quilting retreat and aftermath

Wow! That was some quilting retreat! 63 ladies, all bitten by the quilt bug, together for four days in a StayOkay hostel in Elst, situated in a lovely wooded area here in the Netherlands. The weather was not great, it rained most of Saturday, but hey! We were all cozy in our huge quilting studio.

The organizing team, Ingrid, Ariane and Marjolein, had put together a wonderful program. There were lectures, workshops, show and tell, and meals of course, yet enough time was left for everyone to spend patching, quilting, visiting nearby quilt shops, go for a nice walk in the woods and of course chat with each other. What a wonderful time I've had. This was my 6th time in Elst and I must say, it gets better every time. By now, it feels like coming home. Thank you ladies and I hope to see you again next year!

All participants received lots of gifts, some from the in house quiltshop (thank you Angela!), some from the organizing team and some we made for each other. This is a gift I received from Caroline:

It's a notebook with a kitty cover she made, isn't it cute? The little charm pack is exactly the right size for my Ocean Waves quilt (which right now is just a bin containing 600 half square triangles). There was also a sweet little button in the package. Thank you Caroline!

On Friday, Hilde gave a lecture on decluttering the house and quilting studio. Hilde is a professional organizer who has her own company, Yourganize. Hilde had lots of useful tips and suggestions, most are common sense but still very useful to hear, such as: think before you buy (do I really need this?), if you buy a pair of shoes: throw one (or two) pairs away.
And, very important: decide what you want to use a space for. If it's your bedroom, sewing stuff does not belong there! Umm, I have a very small apartment and a lot of quilting materials. I may not be ready to adopt that rule just yet. Or maybe I'll make the whole apartment a designated quilting area - problem solved! LOL!

Hildes lecture certainly has got me thinking again about decluttering my house. Probably Surely something I should do more often. I think the spring weather is also to blame ;-)

On Saturday, Arnout Cosman showed many of his quilts. Arnout is a true quilt artist. I didn't take pictures because the light was so bad, but there's a quilt gallery on his website. Take a moment to visit there, I'm sure you won't regret it! While Arnout was talking about his quilts, the room with over 60 quilters was completely silent. Truly an accomplishment, just like his gorgeous quilts.

(Hi Shirley, I hope you don't mind I 'borrowed' one of your pictures...)

Arnout designs his own quilts using the design software he created. This program, QuiltAssistant, is available as a free download on his website. It is different from ElectricQuilt6 (which I often use). It assists in making quilt designs based on photographs. Arnout also demonstrated how he uses QuiltAssistant to design quilts. It was fascinating and I will definitely give it a go soon.

When I came home on Sunday afternoon, it was wonderful to just be quiet and unpack my many bags. I wanted to go to bed early but had to wait up for the plumber to come and unclog the kitchen drain. The upstairs neighbor's dishwater welled up in my sink and I was very lucky not to have come home to a flooded kitchen.

Yesterday I had another day off to recuperate from the busy weekend. It was so good to sleep in, potter around the house with the balcony door open and sew a little more. The first part of the zig zag border for the Antique Quilt is done, pressed and now hanging on my design wall. Pictures will follow soon!

zaterdag 20 maart 2010

Sewing machine anyone?

I just love the look of all 'stuff' we bring to quilting retreats...

vrijdag 19 maart 2010


Just a short note... I'm having a great time with fellow quilters. Here's a quick peek at some of the delicacies on the pot luck sweets table. I'm trying very hard not to keep stuffing my mouth. It's hard!

And here's what I've been working on today:

Over 60 years old but my Featherweight is still going strong! It's a joy to use this tiny machine and this border is going well. I'm even having fun doing these set in seams.

Tomorrow I might get out another project. Fun, fun, fun!

maandag 15 maart 2010

How wonderful it is to have friends on the net to welcome you to a new adventure! Thank you Yvonne, Kathie, Katrien and Inge for responding to my very first blog entry!

Did you notice I sort of cheated with the picture of the antique quilt? When I took the picture, the flying geese borders hadn't been sewn on yet. However, I took care of that on Saturday and even went on to cut lots of diamonds and triangles for the zig zag border that is next.

I don't know about you, but cutting diamonds, especially odd sizes, requires me to keep extra focussed on the job. Cutting fabric is not my favorite part of quilting anyway, so I usually limit myself to an hour or so of cutting at a time. I find this saves on wrist pain as well. If I only remembered stuff like that more often, LOL!

Anyway, I cut all diamonds and almost all triangles necessary and don't they look good?

I'll get busy sewing this border the next couple of days. I like the look of this quilt so much, I want to see how this zig zag border turns out.

vrijdag 12 maart 2010

Testing the waters...♦

Hi there, how nice of you to visit! I'm new to blogging, though not to blog surfing. I hope to share my love of all things quilty with you here.

My name is Marion, I live in Amsterdam and I've been playing around with fabrics and threads for as long as I can remember. I used to have phases of knitting, crochet, clothes making, cross stitching etcetera. I started quilting in 2002 and haven't looked back. I simply love it! The wide variety of patterns, fabrics, threads, books and quilting gadgets - oh it's all just too wonderful!

The last couple of years I've had very little time for quilting, but that will change soon now. It's just a few more weeks before I graduate from college. Phew! I hope to spend a lot of my regained free time quilting again!

For now, I'll leave you with a picture of the quilt that's currently on my designwall and has gotten most of my limited spare time recently. Sorry the picture's not better. My sewing room is too small for me to get enough distance and the lighting is not good this late in the evening. I'll try to do better next time!

For more information about this quilt, see Guutes blog.