Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Relaxing into Appliqué for the Monster Quilt.

When I started this Monster Quilt project part of me was full of hesitancy. Would I be able to "do it!"

I was keen in a nervous sort of panicky way.

What helped me was to have my stash beside me. I was kind of shopping from my personal store,without spending any money. Once I had sorted and searched I realised I probably had enough material to make the whole quilt without spending any pennies at this time of year. All of us are recovering from the Christmas splurge I am sure.

Because the quilt is abstract in nature I was encouraged that my lack of artistic skills would not hold me back.

Because I want to make this for William I feel a quiet determination for it to be finished and on his bed by the time he comes to our home again in late June.

Because for me, this time of year is quiet,reflective, and enjoyable I actually want to spend it making something different. My crochet usually accompanies my life when it is lived at a faster pace. I crochet in the car,I crochet when waiting for appointments. I crochet with love but can almost hook Granny Squares without thinking. Perhaps,because of this I need a change. Something to make me slow down. Something to make me plan and work slowly, something to push me out of my hooky comfort zone.

So,today I decided to stop panicking and get really organised with thoughts of working this quilt all the way through January.

I put the ironing board up in the bedroom. The view is calming and inspiring . The village church to the right of me and the meadow to the left. Usually I slap a tea towel down on the nearest work top to where I am working and bang the iron down fairly randomly!


Thinking in the same way as yesterday's post these are the things I remember from my Needlework lessons. The teacher was called Miss Vickary. She was small and mousey if I remember rightly. I do remember she slapped my leg once when I apparently fidgeted as she was pinning a hem on my dress. I told my Mum expecting sympathy and understanding and before I knew it I had another slap on the leg for misbehaving in school! So Miss Vickary snippets!

  1. Iron all the pieces of your work before pinning and tacking.
  2. Use Iron on Vilene to help small pieces from fraying. This is especially important when using loose weave materials.

3. When using Blanket Stitch the direction you put the cotton around the needle affects the stitch. If you hold the work in your left hand and facing you by passing the cotton from left to right you end with a little knot at the top of your stitch and I think this gives a firmer finish to each stitch.If you don't want your blanket stitches to show use a thread which blends. Conversely if you want the blanket stitches to become part of the piece use a contrasting thread. I am going to try this contrasting idea on some of the blocks.I have decided to bring a sense of a small production line to the blocks. I realised there is a repetition in shapes so am going to work sets at a time. So far this is working really well because it helps the flow of placing and stitching.


Here is a shot of the thread around the needle when making a single Blanket stitch.

4. There is no need to break off your thread if you have another area to sew. Just trace it on the back of your work making sure it can not be seen on the front and carry straight on. This saves knots and too many joins.

5. When I looked at the quilt carefully I realised that some of the monsters shapes are repeated so I decided to get a little production line going. I found this saved me so much time as I could iron and use Vilene on all the pieces which needed it at one go.

This gentle repition of shapes but using different colours has also encouraged me greatly.

So here we have the first three blocks of a set of 5.




Most importantly of all the encouragement and kindness shown by fellow quilters such as Julie from the lovely blog Mac and Mabel has made me think " Yes I can do it " I know a bit more about batting today... It's the same as wadding!

And lastly the lovely comments left by my lovely followers has helped me so much. I feel you are beside me wishing me well. It really is like having a best friend by my side. Thank you one and all. It's strange how many of us creative souls hated P.E. And what horrible teachers there were around.

Talking of P.E I did make myself go out for a walk today. Thus quilting is stationary stuff!


And before I sign off for 2013 and a wonderful year can I wish everyone a wonderful New Year.

May each footstep beckoning from 2014 touch your heart with gentleness,happiness and love.

From Linda and all the family .With love.




Monday, 30 December 2013

A new day, a new square but some old lessons.

I went to the Local Grammar School. A very academic place where lessons were fast paced. I thought it full of educators as dry as Cream Crackers. My eldest brother was very academic and following in his footsteps was precarious and tricky.

Whenever I find myself in such tricky situations I tend to either bury my head in dreams or switch off. I think I did both. How I hated P.E. I was very,very little. So cross country running was the worst of all the lessons for me. We set off at a gallop for what seemed like hours. The teacher, a Miss Foxhall just wanted to get rid of us I think. And I was generally last back to school. I told the "cold as a fish" Miss Foxhall that a man had approached me in the woods when I was lagging behind. She was so shocked we were never sent so far again. What a massive fib!!! It still makes me smile today.

I,did,however love Cookery and Needlework lessons. The teachers were very strict but I loved these double periods so much. Just to walk into the practical areas in the classrooms was the highlight of my week. I have never forgotten what I learnt during those lessons and those skills have served me so well.

Today I have been working on Block Number 2 for my Monster Quilt. I found the softest piece of hypo-allergenic stuffing and tucked it inside the body of the monster. It made the sewing a little bit harder but I love the 3D effect it has created.

I can be really slapdash but I remembered the importance of pinning and tacking. I am using blanket stitch to attach the pieces onto the backing material. And all of a sudden a voice came back to me across the years. Miss Vicary was teaching us embroidery stitches to decorate a gingham apron. Probably in 1964. These were her tips.

  1. Do not thread your needle with too great a length of cotton or embroidery silk as it will knot.
  2. Keep 2 identical size needles threaded when you are working embroidery stitches and then you will not lose your rhythm .
  3. Always start a new length and the first stitch in the most inconspicuous place on your piece of work so that your joins do not show.
  4. When using blanket stitch make the gap between the stitches the same size as the height of the stitches. My goodness once I remembered that tip my stitches got neater.

Here is a picture of my second square. I am wondering whether to join as I go,or work all the squares first.



I will have to think about that.

I have been reading about batting. Luckily that step is a long way off yet. I do know I want batting that is squishy and soft. Gentle and downy. Luckily there is a specialist Patchwork Shop in Bovey Tracey which is a Moorland Town about eight miles from me so I will seek advice when the time is right. It is called the Serendipity Patchwork and Quilting Shop. I bet they know all about batting there and will hold my hand as I choose.

There is also the most wonderful wool shop there too so maybe my feet will wander through that door too!

Can I please finish with a very big " Thank You" to all my lovely followers who are encouraging me with this new venture. Also I would love to say a very special welcome to my new followers. I love your comments so much.


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Quilt away,Quilt a day. Square Number One.

I knew I would need a post Christmas distraction.

This is going to be a good one. I woke up thinking about it this morning.

That is good,so good but I am such a bad finisher!

Anyway, let's look on the positive.

Here we have the idea. A Scary Squares Monster Quilt for William.

It would suit his personality so well. Bright,bubbly and full of mischief and fun.

I have to say I have never made a quilt before. I have started several but made, as in completed, actually finished. NO!

But 2014 is going to be different. This quilt is going to be created with love and finished with joy!

I love buying material. I love the rolls of fabric. I love the colours and patterns and when I buy it I know one day I will use it.

Williams' Mummy knows me so well and sent me this Ecard via Pinterest the other day. It did make me laugh.


But, I am actually inspired to make this quilt using my stash. I love my stash and am already enjoying pulling it all out and matching materials to the monsters.


There is still a lot more in the Craft cupboard!



So neat and tidy until you open the door!


And that's not includIng the bits and pieces in the cupboard of doom under the stairs! But I think all crafters have similar stashes and love them just as much as me.

I was really delighted when I found this great big piece of material which will be perfect for the backing of the quilt.

It is actually a darker shade of purple than that.

And so many other lovely bits and pieces.


I would love to think I can make this quilt using all my lovely pieces of fabric and I made a start on the first piece yesterday.


Monster number 1! Yay! I want to hand stitch the monsters onto the backing fabric as I want to sew lots of love into this quilt and I have never used a machine to appliqué . My Singer sewing machine that I have had for 50 years only sews straight lines forwards.

Now, I did iron on Vilene which made the monster stand to attention. That's OK for that first piece but I am going to have to go on a fact finding mission to find out what I can use to put between the monsters and the backing fabric to give some squashy definition. I don't want it to all look flat.

I am going to learn so much. This squishy monster layer is going to have to be both soft and washable.

But, I will have to wait until later to Google all bout it. I will be doing some blog hopping as well . There are some gorgeous quilts in Blogland and folks are so kind with sharing information. I will have to wait as we are off to a post Christmas Party. Wow! Someone else doing the cooking. Perfect.

So here we have it. Quilt Away block 1 done and dusted.




Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas was ......

Christmas was ..... How can you put it into words?
I can't so .. A very few pictures can say it all....perhaps!
I love this first picture .. It really says it all.
The happy Christmas Season went in a blur.
The "Sporty One" and I had the most wonderful time.
Our visitors made every moment special and William was a joy.

Today it was so, so ,so hard to say " Goodbye" as we will not see our son and his little family for 6 months.


My goodness, I was brave.. for a few minutes as they left,then completely dissolved.

But the best cure is to get going. So we pushed the Hoover with vigour, we polished, we put the washing machine on again and again. And the dishwasher has been humming.

Of course nothing replicates the sweetest voice asking for a story or to share a game but it is time to be thankful for what we have and look forward.

Our youngest daughter is living in Barcelona and was not with us but is planning a trip home to celebrate her birthday in January.

And we are lucky enough to have our eldest daughter living close by.


Here is the project I was talking about. I have never made a quilt before but I think 2014 is the right time. I only wish I had time to attend a few lessons. I haven't . So, if anyone has any tips please leave me a lovely comment with your tips.



I am going to search my stash of material tomorrow and have a think. Always a good plan methinks.



Monday, 23 December 2013

Happy Christmas to one and all.

With special love at Christmastime to all my lovely friends in Blogland.

My Chalky life would not be the same without you.

I am going to have a little break and concentrate on some rather important people for the next few days.

We were lucky enough to celebrate the edible William's 2nd birthday last Friday.

And then things got even better as we were all together as a family to welcome our youngest daughter home for the weekend. She surprised us. Christmas came early. I lay in bed and just breathed with a contentment that being together brings.

Sadly she has had to go back to work in Barcelona but her perfume lingered in her bedroom for a day after she left.

The " Sporty One " is loving being a Grandad at Christmas. He make William a baby Chino every morning. Actually the mornings are pretty special just now as we have an early morning visitor. He climbs into bed and wriggles around as we sing nursery rhymes and play games together.

The perfect start to the days of Christmas.


I hope happiness in whichever way is perfect for you visits you and yours.

Happy Christmas everyone.


And thinking about the New Year ,my daughter in law and I are going to set off on a joint venture in 2014, think I shall be very glad of some distraction as my family spread out all over the world again. But memories are to be treasured and I will treasure these so much.

Charlotte is so artistic,talented and clever. Pop over to her blog Sharky Knows to find out all about her.

She loves Pinterest just like me so we are going to make a quilt for William together. I can't wait to start. So please pop back soon to have a look at our idea. I am going to feature each block as I make them. Maybe you would like to join in too? It would be lovely to have some company. That, perhaps should read, help, advice and guidance.

I hope I don't get into another Chlaky pickle!


Friday, 20 December 2013

All picked up,dusted down and ready to start all over again!

I am only going to concentrate on the positives. But " Thank You" as ever,my sweet followers for your supportive and lovely comments about my 10,000 unwelcome visitors!

I have learnt a lot in the past 24 hours and Chalky peace reigns once more.

The most important thing to say in this post is "Merry Christmas" may the festive season bring you joy. If,however,this emotive time of year brings sadness please know I send my gentlest thoughts to you.

Well I am finished. Yes, finished. For some very special reasons today was my deadline.

No more lists, no more shopping,no more wrapping. Diddly,diddly done. Thank goodness for that.


I have so enjoyed seeing everyone's preparations for Christmas. And I am enjoying ours as I am starting to relax.

The sweetest Christmas cup filled with pretty candy from Dubai. Behind is a stoneware statue made by a dear friend. It depicts us both on the garden bench.

The windows all decorated with my precious glass baubles out of reach of little hands and swishy tails.




This corner is smelling so sweetly with this pretty pomander. I only bought it this year but as it has a screw top lid So I will be able to refresh its scent every year.



Some Christmas house plants to make the garden come indoors.


I love seeing old and special decorations come out year upon year and my goodness these next few span some very special years.

The prettiest wreath.

A snowman made by the Sporty One when he was a teacher in


It must be nearly 40 years old. I bet the children who made one each have not still got theirs.


Our youngest daughter made this Father Christmas when she was in Year 4.


Some silver bells made by my Mum when she first got maried straight after the war. Silver paper and an egg box. So precious to me.


This little knitted angel was given to me in 1975 by a Mum when I was teaching " the littlies."

And only 1 year ago the edible William made this to celebrate Christmas.

So our tree is not themed. It is not co-ordinated but I love it so much.

Of course there is a little bit of pretty white lights adorning little corners.

And one of my sweet Internet friends sent this gorgeous Father Christmas this year. I was so touched by her kindness. What a lot of work. He will be treasured for ever.

My Mum loved Christmas. She loved everything about it and these snow people were hers.
And now I love them too.
Do you remember the post about the candy cane vase waiting for the flowers it was brilliant this morning. I went out into the garden picked the holly and popped in the flowers.
A two minute job. Just what is needed at this time of year.

I will be doing this again. It looks so sweet.

And I love,love,love the smell of cinnamon at Christmas so as I sit down to write my card to the dear " Sporty One" I am going to relish every mouthful of that cinnamon twirl. And, no I did not make it. It just jumped into my trolley as I did my last dash!

The " Sporty One " is as the song goes, making his way home for Christmas. He is, as I blog making the long journey from Stansted to Devon and in the car are some very special people. Our son,daughter in law and the edible William are with him.

William was 2 yesterday so that is the reason I had to be ready. I want to spend every minute enjoying being with all my loved ones. And we have a birthday party to organise tomorrow.

Waiting for him is the little train I bought to celebrate his first Christmas last year. This year he will be old enough to hang it on the tree himself. I dreamt of being a Grandma but did not realise it would be this special.

BUT the icing on the cake is the surprise phone call we received from our youngest daughter to say she was able to get home from Barcelona just for the weekend. Of course we shall miss her on Christmas Day. But Christmas has come early, and as I am ready that's fine with me.

Her favourite sweets are tucked on her bed ready for her!



So, I might not be blogging anymore before Christmas. So I just want to send my love and thanks. I am so lucky to share my life with you all. And today the sweetest card came through the post from "The Puppet Lady" I am going to frame it after Christmas and pop it away in my decorations box so that I can enjoy it every year from now on.

Happy Christmas everyone xxx