Thursday, 21 May 2015

'Buzzing bee in a pocket' block

We've had some excitement over the last couple of weeks with bees. We came back one afternoon to find probably about 50 bees buzzing around our back door and going in and out of holes in the stone work at the edge of the door frame. There were probably about another 50 that had presumably got a bit lost and managed to find their way into our bathroom, which is directly above the back door. As much as we love bees, I wasn't keen to have them nesting in our wall, right next to the back door. So I got in touch with a local bee keeper, who came out to us with a 'bait hive'. By the time she arrived the bees had disappeared for the night, and she explained that the bees we'd seen were probably 'scout' bees who'd come out searching for a prospective new home for the swarm. She left the bait hive with us (level, off the ground, somewhere not too hot but catching the morning sun, and also near to the back door) and suggested that we block up the holes in the stonework which the bees had already been investigating. (The children thought it was very amusing when she said - 'You don't happen to have any fabric pieces around the house, do you? That might be the easiest thing to use to block those holes temporarily.' Happily I managed to find a couple of fabric pieces!) So then we waited to see what would happen. 

The very next morning the bees were back, buzzing around the blocked up holes and possibly not too impressed that they couldn't get back inside (hard to tell whether a bee is not impressed though). But literally within a couple of minutes several of them were off exploring the new bait hive, about 3 or 4 metres away. And within another couple of minutes there were many more heading that way to check it out. It was fascinating to watch them.

They were buzzing around madly all day, but we didn't see a swarm at all. The beekeeping lady explained that it might take them a good few days to make up their mind. Apparently bees are very democratic and considered in their decision making, and many, many bees will come out for second, third or fourth viewings to be sure the property is the one for them.

So we carried on watching and waiting. Every day after that the bees were buzzing around consistently, going in and out of the hive. After just over a week the lady thought it was safe to assume that they had properly moved in, sadly I think we must have been out when they swarmed in full. We would have loved to have seen that. And yesterday evening she came along to check and take them back to her place. When she removed the lid, they were all settled in and looking very at home,(although the children were worried about late comers who were still arriving in dribs and drabs as she secured the hive, hopefully we got them all tucked up in the end), and so off they went with her, back to their new place. We were very sad to see them go, and have missed them today, it hasn't felt quite right to not see and hear them going about their business as usual. Theo and I have frequently thought we'd like to keep bees one day, and having them here temporarily has definitely increased our interest.

Anyway, the 'making' point of this story is that I had been dithering slightly about what to put in Maria's last few quilt blocks, and a bee had been one option. As soon as our own bee excitement began, that decision was made, there definitely had to be a bee.

So here it is, another pocket block, and you can just see the bee peeking out here...

He's on a long strip of giant ricrac, and you might be able to see his pocket is made of honey comb, hexie fabric, his favourite!

I might give him some eyes too, I haven't quite decided yet.
And, of course, the bee needed some flowers, so that was the next block...

A lift the flap block for this one...

So another two down, three left to go still.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Take 5

1) It's the time of year for the Spring Bloggers' Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side, so many amazing quilts to see already over there. Voting starts on 22/5, so if you want to enter a quilt you've still got time. I decided I'd enter my 'Fishing' Baby Quilt, into the Small Quilts Category, it's 160" in perimeter so fits nicely in there.

My quilt was inspired very much by my 'fish a day' sewing that I started earlier in the year, and after finishing the quilt, I'm back on the daily fish wagon:

Some of the jellyfish which appeared in the fishy bag, some rainbow striped fish and a little turtle. I'm starting to see the end quilt in my head as kind of an 'I spy under the sea' quilt.

2) Charity Shop buys - some lovely wool blankets...

And they said cushions with flowers to me. So, especially as I have no hand sewing on the go at the moment, I've been sitting cutting out petals and flowers from gorgeous, colourful wool scraps...

I might even get round to sewing them soon!

3) Calling all new Quilt bloggers, there's a blog hop, specifically for you, about to start. I participated in the 2014 Blog Hop and it was really useful, full of lots of tips - both quilting and blogging, and also a great way to get to know other bloggers. Here's the very basic info:

If you are interested in participating in the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop and have been blogging
  1. mainly about modern quilting*,
  2. for less than 2 years,
  3. writing at least 4 posts a month,
  4. are willing to agree to be actively involved in the blog hop through visiting and commenting on the other blogger’s hop posts,
  5. and have or are willing to open a Facebook account to participate in the group discussions,
*Modern quilting to you is modern quilting to us.
Note that we will accept 100 participants for the blog hop this year. The sign up form will be available until May 31, 2015, or until we reach 100 participants.

You can find out more and sign up over at Quilting Jet Girl, who is one of the hosts this year. (And she also has 2 gorgeous quilts entered into the Bloggers' Quilt Festival, so look out for them.)

4) Another, very different, link for you - have you heard about 'Den Making Day' ? It's running from the 29/5 to the 6/6, in aid of Save the Children. The idea is that children are sponsored to create dens - whether that's behind a sofa, or at school, or in their gardens.

There's an adorable clip on You Tube, to promote the campaign:

Particularly with the disaster in Nepal so recently, supporting this campaign seems more important than ever. Save the Children estimate that just in Nepal, 2 million children have been affected by the earthquakes, 320000 children made homeless and 5000 schools destroyed.

And if you're looking for ideas and inspiration, as usual Pinterest is a very easy source - try this board with lots of child friendly ideas. I think my favourite on there might have to be this colourful teepee.

5) Following on nicely from that, I'll just share a few photos from my Saturday night at the weekend. I went camping in our local woods with the boys and 2 of their friends. Happily it was a lovely, sunny evening...

I had a small, pop up tent, but of course that was far too tame for the boys. Sam and one of their friends found a brilliant little den area, very sheltered and secluded within a clump of trees...

But Theo decided to build his own sleeping platform in a tree. There's a little source of scrap wood very nearby, which a building site puts out for the local community to use - I think the expectation generally is that it's free firewood, but Theo trotted off to scavenge some 'suitable' pieces there and brought them back to create this temporary (no nails or anything!) structure!

It was very difficult to capture the full glory of his sleeping platform on camera I'm afraid!

It was probably about 2.5 metres up in the tree, and despite its very precarious angle, Theo did demonstrate to me how difficult it was - due to the positioning of posts and branches - to actually completely fall out of bed. His pillow did slip off during the night, but when I went to check on him, just before 5am after being 'woken' (in inverted commas because I'm not sure I actually 'slept' at all during the night!) by an amazing dawn chorus, he was very much still asleep in his bed!

Despite it being a lovely, sunny evening, the night was really cold. And although I was in my tent, fully dressed in several warm layers with a woolly hat on all night, in a sleeping bag with 3 blankets and a coat over me, I did feel very chilled all night. And it brought it home to me a little more, how hard life must be for so many, children and adults, in Nepal at the moment who are struggling to find warmth and shelter.

Friday, 15 May 2015

This Moment

Here's a link to Soulemama's moment, and here's mine. I'm sure you'll forgive me a couple of extra photos this week, especially as I seem to have forgotten to have a moment last week!

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .   

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A mermaid block and a fairy block

With my renewed determination to finish Maria's quilt, I have been working on a couple of blocks for it. I think they will probably be the most time consuming blocks which will go into the quilt. The kind of blocks you'd only make for a quilt for someone you really love.

First up a mermaid...

I drew her on a scrap of linen, and stitched around my drawing a couple of times.
With a rainbow tail to match Maria's!

Here the scales are just cut out and roughly arranged to give an idea of how they'll look.
Then starting to sew them on, from the bottom up.

Here they are all stitched down, I changed my thread for each colour layer, definitely a labour of love!
A background created, ready for the mermaid to dive deep... 

And after some careful cutting out, in she goes...

And I stitched her down with a couple of lines of stitching all around - again with thread colour changes on her tail!

And that's just the bit that's hidden in the block!

Here's the finished block...

 And out comes the mermaid...

More info on making a block with a 'flap' back here.

 And then just a couple of finished photos of this next one. A simpler block...

Hiding a little fairy on a toadstool...

The toadstool needs some spots still, I haven't decided yet whether they will be embroidered or tiny, white buttons.

This one is very much a mini version of my original, and rejected, block for the quilt. Vaguely Maria-ish but I didn't stress about trying to make her identical, it's just too small to manage, for me anyway!
I think that's now 7 of 12 blocks done, so over half way at least, and I have a plan for the remaining 5 too. Still seems a long way left to go though.


Friday, 8 May 2015

Fishing Baby Quilt

It's been a long, long, long, long time since I've said this - I've got a finished quilt to show you!

I know it's only a baby quilt, but still a finished quilt is a finished quilt!

And I have really enjoyed making this one - it's full of so many of my favourite elements. And obviously having an excuse to head to the beach for photos is always good too.

I kept the fish really simple, no eyes even.

In fact all the applique is very simple.

A faceless fisherman!

And a solitary seagull.
And I had the perfect backing fabric...

I found a massive remnant of this ages ago in a Charity Shop. There was plenty for a quick quilt bag...

And probably a couple more quilts if I ever get round to making them.

It really has been so long since it last happened that I'd kind of forgotten how satisfying it is to actually finish a quilt! I think (hope!) it might spur me on a bit now to get to the finishing line with Maria's quilt too.

And in celebration of an actual finish I'm linking up lots too - with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and the wonderfully named link up 'Can I get a whoop, whoop!' (great blog name too, and a gorgeous stained glass window quilt there today), over at Quilt Matters who's hosting TGIFF, and with Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

So here's to finishing, whether it's quilts or anything else in life!