Finishing up

When you really should be packing up to move back to another country, but you can’t really face it on your birthday, you can always just grab a sewing machine and quickly appliqué that half-finished paper-pieced top onto an old sheet, and declare it a modern quilt, right? 

I just couldn’t face moving it around anymore in its current state, but I didn’t want to work on it anymore either. It might just turn into something snuggly after quilting, I hope.

In any case, it will simply be DONE. Made from recycled sheets, mostly, largely from a swap.

And now, on to packing. Or, more sensibly, to bed.

Happy finishing! JJ

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Just mindlessly sewing

Nothing like picking up fabric and thread and just mindlessly sewing.

“Mamaaaa? What are you making?” ” I have no idea”. totally stalled on all real projects.

I was floating the idea of organising a quilting retreat in an idyllic place close to here next summer, with Ms E of Busy Needle Quilting and Ms C of Littlest Thistle. I wonder if anyone would want to join us? Colours, places, views, crafts: there is so much to inspire quilters in this blissful corner of Northern Tuscany! Any takers?

Wouldn’t this make a fabulous pattern for paper-piecing and appliqué?

Happy dreaming, JJ. 

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Chasing chickens

I understand why farmers never go on holiday: we just spent half an hour retrieving escaped chickens roosting around the garden, at midnight, after four days away in Rome. The schools had closed for local elections, and tomorrow is a national holiday. Thankfully the children missed the drama as they fell asleep in the car and had been carried to bed on arrival. 

Chocolate (one of our chicks from September, now a champion layer with a very fluffy bottom) was found roosting on a pile of wood, soaking wet since Mr T had been watering the parched vegetable garden. Tosca-the-champion-layer was in a self-dug burrow under a hedge, sitting on a secret nest of nine eggs. Those two cheeky chickens had obviously been ganging up on our kind neighbour who was meant to be paid in eggs for his efforts of feeding them all! Brownie-and-her-two-chicks were pathetically nesting on the ground, as she had obviously failed to get them into either coop. She was risking all for them, dear thing. The only other time she got locked out, in a violent winter rainstorm, she had flown up into an olive tree. That time, we found her the next morning, very very wet, still in the tree looking petrified. At least this time she was sufficiently dopey to allow herself to be caught, together with her precious two chicks. Che avventura! But all pets, thankfully, alive. The guinea pigs, left to fend for themselves with an insane pile of home-grown garden hay, seem to have eaten most of it…

Still, thanks to a painter in the Vatican museum, we are now assured that there are both guinea pigs and chickens in Paradise. This being the Garden of Eden, they apparently do not fear foxes at night…

Now, to bed. Safe, like all my animals. JJ

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Heavens this is bright

I have never made a quilt you need sunglasses for… This will clearly be one! Top almost pieced — here it is all laid out. The fabric between the bright patterned fabric was hand dyed with Procion colours, probably at a quilting retreat a few years back. The fabric is Kaffe Fassett, from a ready-cut pack (badly cut! never really square!).

On the chicken-news-front, Ms Brownie was peacefully raising her chick in the garden when we received a phone call from some chicken-raising-friends asking us if we’d like to see if she’d accept a second orphan chick they had been raising with ducklings. Poor little chap was a few days old but wasn’t doing well: the silly ducks kept getting him wet, and his feathers weren’t equipped for that. So following our friends’ advice, we moved Brownie inside into the freshly-cleaned guinea pig cage, and slipped in the orphan baby, christened Calimero by the children. New surroundings for all. The risk in such a case is that the mother hen kills the new baby…

At first, Brownie was so furious to be moved, she paniqued a bit, hissed and tried to bite me, then had a double-take when she realised her precious baby seemed to have been moved with her… but had multiplied. But, very soon, both chicks seemed to know what to do and headed straight under her wing. Mummy instict set in, and she started purring and cheeping at them both.

We’ll leave them in the cage overnight, and if all looks well, move then back to the garden tomorrow. Silence, and some tiny peeping and a purring hen, in the sitting-room now…  I do hope it works! Everyone deserves a mummy. 

Happy parenting to all, whatever species you or your babies may be! JJ

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Songs of Spring

Just in case anyone was wondering, I’m still here. Much less sewing than I thought, much more life. Children now fluent in Italian. Lots of pony and horse riding. Chickens, too. A rotten sickness over the winter, energy now mostly back. Quilty friend Ms L visiting next week. Hoooooray. I had to finish the cushions I made from her sweet gift to me last year. I keep thinking I ought to just sit back and write up our amazing year, but time fleets by and I don’t.  

   Happy sun! JJ

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Some are just larger

Oh you poor hen, I feel your pain…

Easter is just around the corner (and yes that is a jar if Christmas Mincemeat peeping out on the right that we really should eat!).

Happy laying! Or not. JJ

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Chicken Quilt

Chickens… Quilts… What can I say? It had to happen. 

You can blame one of my wonderful doctoral students who gave me two pieces of chicken-themed fabric from a shop in Amsterdam. Don’t I have great students?

Now… How to assemble them? I am thinking a thin solid green border on each to frame the blocks, then cream sashing. Would that work? The text prints are from some cheap tea towels I picked up in a local supermarket.

Elsewhere in the world, my grandmother is having her 92nd birthday. I can find few better ways of celebrating International Women’s Day than that. Hurray for her! I can remember, eons ago, learning to sew on her hand-crank Singer one summer holiday in Suffolk. Precious memories. One real lady.

Happy chickening. I’m sure the beasties will approve whatever I chose to do with the quilt. JJ

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