Sunday, 15 September 2013


Summer is over, and what a glorious one - the sunniest, warmest and... driest since 2007. It makes a change from all the wet, wet summers we have had recently, but Autumn has now arrived and with it the storms and gales, the first of which arrives today...

Battle was fought and won with my side and back gardens at the beginning of August. Very embarrassingly they had both run away from me and had become so overgrown that I couldn't cope any longer- a combination of a lack of time and musculoskeletal problems had impacted on my ability to keep on top of things. So, with the help of my neighbour's son, both gardens were completely cleared and taken back to the bare bones - James declared that clearing my garden was "better than a workout in the gym" (!), so it just shows you how bad it had got. I can now easily care for the side garden and with the aid of a weed killer, I'll be able to keep on top of the brambles and stinging nettles in the back garden, but will start plotting a new garden over the winter, something that will be easier to look after and yet give me the enjoyment I get from gardening and picking my own fruit and veg.

My beautiful Rose - Compassion

Granny's Hydrangea - my grandmother gave me on the day I moved into my cottage, a cutting she had taken of a hydrangea that I had always admired at the entrance to her home. It has never failed me and has huge "mopheads"

I decided to give the Festival of Quilts up in Birmingham a miss this year. I have been going for 10 years and it's getting quite expensive when you factor in all the travel and accommodation costs - I would have thought differently if there was a workshop I was interested in, but none of them attracted me, so I decided to save my pennies. The reviews of the show have been very mixed and from some of the photographs I have seen, I am not at all cross that I did not go. A break is as good as a rest they say, so maybe next year...

Sewing wise - the calluses on the tips of my fingers have come in very useful...

Beyond the Cherry Tree
I completed another block very early this morning - my 17th. It's a heavy looking block and wilstand out from all the others, so will need to be careful where I place it, if it is not to dominate the eye. I am  having problems with the bottom right leaf. It seems to be larger or maybe it's the fabric combination? Eight more blocks to go... and then the borders.

Block 17

Phebe quilt
I've done some more work on the centre block - not much, in fact looking at it very little(!), but I am in no hurry and as long as I do a little and often I'll get there.

Phebe Centre

Spratley quilt
I've now finished the centre block and I have started work on the corner triangles. I am so pleased with how everything is going. Unlike previous versions, I have not unpicked one piece of fabric, but I need to press ahead as I want to finish the top in time for the Dear Jane meeting in November, so there's lots to do and it will be my sewing focus from now until then.

Phoenix rising block
In mid-August one of my work colleagues and a non-quilter, Karina, contacted me for help - could I advise her on some fabric or a "simple" block which she could stitch as a contribution to a quilt for a very special lady who had just been diagnosed with advanced cancer. She is well-known within our profession and as well as being Karina's PhD supervisor, I had met her on a couple of occasions whilst working in Australia and is a true inspiration to all. We were both keen to do more than just send a 12.5" piece of fabric  "down under" to Australia. So between us and another colleague Jeannette, we planned a very special block...

The block is of a Phoenix rising which is the symbol of our UK professional body and depicts re-birth. Jeannette drew the picture and was able to make the head less menacing than in the pictures we researched on-line, and all three of us chose the fabrics in just 15 minutes before the store closed. The background fabric is a teal green (unwittingly chosen, as I later realised this is our professional colour - spooky or what?) and we selected a couple of Kaffe Fassett fabrics for me to come up with the colour combination. I then selected a few more fabrics from my own stash including an aboriginal designed fabric to link the UK with Australia and I appliqu├ęd the block over four evenings. Karina, who professes not to being a needle woman despite her mother being a textile artist, did the embroidery.

I think the finished block is wonderful and I so enjoyed doing it - working with a totally different fabric/colour palette, although there are a couple of the feathers I would do differently. Karina added her initials to the end of one of the tail feathers as the organisers did not request any signing etc and it's now winging its way across the world to Queensland, Australia. A very special block, for a very special lady.

Well, that's it for now...

Thanks for reading my blog


  1. Lovely to see your newest Cherry Tree block - so admire your ability to put colors together. Hand quilting continues on my own BTCT - more blocks quilted now than not so making progress.
    We share similar gardening situations - my front "decorative" garden has become overgrown and needs dividing - a fall project and I have just finished moving all my herbs to temporary quarters while the potting shed gets a repaint and husband builds a new raised bed. Tired of dealing with clay soils that don't drain well and the herbs will be much happier. Take care and enjoy your stitching and winter garden dreaming.

  2. So nice to come in from trying to reclaim an overgrown garden area myself. The block pictures have my fingers itching to sit down and sew. But.... I'm working on an applique block that is the logo for a dear friend's year as president of our state chapter P.E.O. Lots left to do, but I'm at the point where I think it will really turn out well. Have a great Thanksgiving.