Sunday, 15 August 2010

New beginnings, an interview and my name in print!

I'm back! I know, I know - I'm running out of ways to apologise for being a bad blogger but you really must believe me when I say that I have finally resolved my awful personal situation. As many of you will know, I have become increasingly miserable in my job over recent months and a career change was the inevitable result of that dissatisfaction. I'm pleased to report that after several interviews and some uncomfortably warm afternoons spent in the throttling grasp of a dress shirt and tie, I have finally wangled myself a new job! Wahoo - it is quite a drastic change for me as I've gone from a fully fledged purchasing co-ordinator to a trainee (I hate that word!) recruitment consultant. I'm starting tomorrow, so wish me luck! Now that my work situation is sorted then I should have a bit more stress-free time to spend crafting and blogging!

In crafting terms, I've not been too productive in the last few weeks but I have developed an obsession with lavender scented sachets! I wanted a quick project that would use up some fabric and yarn scraps so I knitted/sewed some hearts and stuffed them with dried lavender, stitched them up and embellished with ribbons and buttons amongst other things. I'll post a few pictures this week. Some may think these are pointless projects and in a sense I would agree but trust me - my house smells amazing!!!

Hopefully you will remember that a while ago I was invited to take part in a series of interviews about male crafters. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a delay getting everything sorted but I am pleased to announce that my interview is now up and running here (not the location that was originally intended but nonetheless it is nice to see MY words out there in cyber land!). Take a look - I think you'll enjoy it!

Speaking of MY words - has anybody picked up a copy of 'The Knitter' this month? They've published an email that I sent them many months ago concerning my favourite subject - that is, the wholly uninspiriing state of the mens knitting pattern industry! Somewhat mortified, however, to note that they've edited my words quite significantly and I now read like some stroppy teenager! I'll try to scan a copy and leave it here for you to see! Regardless of the editing - I am glad that I have spoken up for all of us that want more from our designers!

With a new job to go to tomorrow I'm gonna wrap things up, but if you want more from me then go and check out my interview!

More soon

Mother's Ruin xxx

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

If in!

Despite my protestations that I would not embark on another serious quilting project before taking the time to develop my skills on smaller items, I couldn't help but treat myself to some fabulous new fabric for my next quilt! Aren't we predictable creatures, us crafters?! I decided in advance that I wanted to make a real statement in bold colours and strong tones. Perhaps i've subconsciously decided to let the fabric do the hard work and keep the sewing simple!

Anyhow - a quick trip to the 'Cotton Patch' furnished me with a 1/2 metre of each of these spicey designs:

I really like the idea of making a, well, a runner almost. You know, a long but narrow quilt that will lay across the foot of the bed? The only problems I can see with this is that, although decorative, will it really be of any use? And subsequent to that, if it isn't, will it languish in the back of a cupboard somewhere when I've grown sick of taking it on and off the bed every morning and night? Something to mull over for a while I guess....

A dear friend of mine gave me this little vintage knitting book (that is, the knitting is vintage, not the book!) recently and then yesterday I popped into a local discount bookstore and managed to pick up the other title, 'Weardowny Knit Couture' for just a couple of pounds. I'm trying desperately to re-inspire my knitting self but, alas, I just can't seem to settle into anything productive when I attempt to pick up the needles. Lovely books though and a pleasure to read about knitting, even if I'm not getting any done!

Archie, absent for most of the day (dirty stop out!), showed up just at this moment and was far from reluctant to vocally demonstrate his indignation at my using his favourite perch as a display area!

More Soon
Mother's Ruin xxx

Monday, 12 July 2010

Quilting update

I'm rapidly running out of steam with the whole quilting process!

No, that's unfair. I'm not really.But why is it that the tasks that you imagine to be the quickest or simplest usually turn out to be horrifically prolonged experiences of fiddling and frustration? Basting, for example:

I did my research, checking several of the methods available and how they are achieved by the leading quilt makers and designers. I decided against spray basting as some claim that it can create a real mess AND gunk up the needle when quilting. So, a fresh pack of quilters basting pins in hand I proceeded to baste my quilt sandwich. I don't have any hard surfaces large enough in my house for the task, so I spread my quilt back out on the carpeted living room floor, secured the corners with masking tape, layered the sandwich and began pinning. Two hours, two very sore knees and one aching back later I secured my last pin. Can you guess the punchline? Yes, I'm sure you could all see this coming a mile off. The moment I tried to pick my quilt up my satisfied grin morphed into a wide-eyed expression of pure disbelief. I had pinned my quilt INTO the carpet! "Oh f**k"

Another two hours, two EXTREMELY sore knees and several permanently damaged vertabrae later, I had managed to un-pin my quilt, fold it up and gently place it on the other side of the room where it stayed for the afternoon, oblivious to my glares and curses.

Not one to be beaten, I soon calmed myself, took hold of the situation and managed to get the quilt basted by using my large cutting mat underneath the sandwich and sliding it around to cover the larger area. The only downside to this continued re-adjustment was the fact that the finished layers were not as smooth and tight as I would have liked. I was so ready to move on to the actual quilting at that point though that I decided I would live with any imperfections!

On to problem number two! My new walking foot? Completely useless! I still can't fathom what the problem with the darned thing was but after masking out my quilting lines (nice and easy straight stitching for my first attempt!) and having a few goes, I switched back to my regular foot. The walking foot was hardly feeding the fabric at all - indeed, I think it was making things more difficult as I found myself almost pulling the fabric under the needle. This, in turn, made my straight lines wobble and my stitches uneven but I soldiered on and completed the first set of lines. I had planned on using a nice cross-hatch design on the quilt but now that I had been left with a relatively uneven surface, I was worried that to sew across the existing diagonals would create puckers in the fabric and make it look even worse! Thus, I took a deep breath, trimmed everything up and have decided that I am just going to bind it as it is. I think I need to practice my skills on some smaller projects before I commit to another large quilt!

Here are some pictures of the front and back:

Talking of smaller quilting projects - I have actually started on one! I mentioned before that I was making a small baby quilt with the small-scale floral fabrics that a friend had given me. I decided on a simple 5" squares design to which I am going to add a really substantial wide border. I also fancy having a go at some applique so I'm sure a little animal of some sort will be making its way onto the surface at some point!

Much more to report as soon as I find the time!

Much Love

Mother's Ruin xxx

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


It doesn't take long to come crashing back into reality after a holiday, does it?! The merest hint of a tan is almost all that I have left to remind me that just a few short weeks ago I was relaxing on a beach in Egypt. You'll remember (or perhaps you wont - my problems are no more serious than anybody elses!) that I was having a tough time at work before I left? Well, things only appear to have gotten worse since I returned and now the endless hours of sitting, cringing and miserable, in an office that seems, to me at least, to be the very breeding ground for all the worlds negativity has almost entirely eradicated any sense of restfulness or stability that I had managed to cultivate during my brief absence. I am trying to remedy the situation myself (more on this at a later date) but such circumstances are not conducive to a desire to talk or share and, as such, I have been entirely negligent with my blog. It seems to me that these silent periods are an almost obligatory part of every bloggers life so I know that you will be understanding - I just hope it is not too prolonged.

So much for my forced proclamations of optimism and the threat of taking up new challenges as outlined in the last post! My appetite for tackling anything more taxing than simple garter stitch knitting or straight stitching on the machine has entirely waned! My lace swatches languish in a raggedy pile upon my coffee table, ignored for over a week. I needed a project that did not require any intelligent input from me. Auto-pilot is the order of the day! Thus I decided that I really ought to finally finish some of the multitudinous projects that litter every surface of my studio. The Mod Sampler Quilt MUST be finished....

No pictures yet but I am pleased to report that the sashing has been completed (I only needed to do the outer strips that encompass the whole quilt top), the quilt back has been ticked off the to-do list, the binding strips cut and the wadding trimmed to size. As soon as my curved basting pins are delivered (yes - a little more retail therapy from The Cotton Patch - I'll be posting about my fabric selections for the next quilt as soon as it arrives!) then I will be basting and quilting! Hurrah! I also bought a walking foot for my machine (£30 seemed a little expensive to me but I guess it is necessary!) as I have decided that in my current fragile state it would be unwise to go through the process of free-motion quilting and have my lack of skills recorded on the quilt surface for the next hundred years! A simple cross-hatch design is quite good enough for me, thank you very much!

Having unwound about six hanks of yarn into nice, useable balls and dithered around looking for inspiration, I again took out my machine (didn't take long to abandon the knitting) and started on a simple cot quilt. Again, no pictures yet (mmmm.....possibly the dullest blog post for my readers!). I used the same fabrics that I offered in my giveaway and decided on a simple design of patchwork squares. This has all been completed and the next task is to add a wide border and then applique some kind of typically baby-friendly animal's silhouette on the front - you know, like a big bouncy elephant or a pussy cat.... I'm quite pleased with how it looks so far, actually. The combination of so many small-scale florals makes the whole thing delightfully girly and countryside chic! Wholly typical of me though to start another project before the previous one is finished!

Hubby has suggested that I do some kind of craft fair over the summer. Nothing too professional, you know, just a local affair. I'm still debating. I have no aversion to doing a craft fair - I imagine that it would be pretty fun, but how distressing would it be if nothing was sold! All those hundreds of people passing through, browsing, evaluating and then moving on! How humiliating! Of course, my other problem is that I am not like other crafters. I don't make a specific range of things. Usually when you go to these things people specialise in, say, baby items or accessories or bags. I just make what appeals to me, so my stall would be a bit of a hotch-potch!

I'm reluctant to leave you without any pretty pictures to lessen the pain of listening to me moan for the last few paragraphs. Unfortunately, however, I have been just as remiss with my photography as I have with my blogging.

More soon

Mother's Ruin xxx