Monthly Archives: March, 2014

Shopping my Stash for a Mystery Quilt

In less than a month I will be at the next Patchwork in the Peaks!

Patchwork in the Peaks is a bi-annual quilt retreat, run by my wonderful friend, Ms E. In April and October each year, a group of lovely ladies gather in Morzine in the French Alps to quilt their hearts out for four days. I’ve gone to every retreat since the start, I’ve made some fantastic friends, and it’s a wonderful way to spend a long weekend. You can read all about October’s retreat here.


Quilting with a view!

(Incidentally, it seems that 2 spots have opened up on the upcoming retreat – if you’re at all interested, I’d hurry up and snap one of them up before someone else does, seeing as they were all taken within a week of registration opening back in December – click here to find out more…)

But I digress…

As always, we’ll all be working on the same project during the retreat, and this time around it’s going to be a Mystery Quilt.  I’m really excited to see how it’s all going to turn out, but it’s also rather daunting to choose fabric when you have no idea what you’re making. Oh, and when you’re on a Fabric Fast and so have to use what you already have rather than jump in and use the lovely Fat Quarter Shop discount for Peaks participants…

So what to do?

Back in February, I read this post from Isisjem, and it really struck a chord. Isisjem is also on a Fabric Fast, and she writes about approaching her stash as if it were a fabric store, with the idea that anything can be used for any project, rather than seeing it as a precious hoard of beautiful fabric to be saved for something special. I’m totally guilty of doing this with certain Too-Beautiful-To-Cut-Into fabrics (you know the kind..), but if I’m brutally honest, this means they’ll likely never get used because a) I have so much fabric already and b) I already have so many projects and ideas in the pipeline.

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So I have decided that as of now, any fabric in my stash should be fair game, and I have spent this morning ‘shopping’ for the Peaks Mystery Project – a throw sized quilt which will finish at 58″ x 74 1/2″.

Obviously, I need to start with the focus fabric. All I know is that it should ideally be a large scale print, and I will need 1 1/8 yards of it. This already takes a whole load of my stash out of the running, as I have a lot of fabric cuts of 1 yard or less. And so, after a hard morning’s work, I have narrowed down my choice to one of 11 different fabrics, all large-scale prints

Well, it’s a start, right?!



Amy Butler – Love – Cypress Paisley


P&B Textiles – Florentine


Michael Miller – Eiffel Tower


Holly Holderman – Jolie Jardin


Philip Jacobs – Trumpet Flower


Gift from the wonderful Ms JJ


Robert Kaufmann – Tuscan Wildflower


Kaffe Fassett – Dancing Leaves


Yuko Hasegawa for RJR Fabrics


Hoffman International – Indulgence


Philip Jacobs – Coleus

 As you can see, I have a wide variety of colours and styles of fabric in my stash! Some of them have been in there for several years, waiting for the right project. Is this that project? Who knows!

I think I know which one I want to use, but I’m going to sleep on it for a few days before making a final decision.

And anyway, I’m interested – which one do you like best????

Linking up today with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday – because, hey, pulling fabric for a new quilt counts as a work in progress…

The Colours of the Caribbean

Over the years I’ve discovered the Caribbean from afar. I’ve read books and articles about the islands, seen documentaries, and drooled over friends’ holiday photos. I knew that all the islands have a different character, and were a riot of colours. That the flowers were hot pinks and reds, the foliage lush and green, the sands (generally speaking) almost white, soft and fine, and that the sea was a glorious, ever-changing shade of turquoise.

But it wasn’t until 2 weeks ago that I finally made it here for the first time and the beautiful reality of it just blew me away.

As a quilter, I love colour, and so, naturally, I was in my element! And all I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks is how to capture the essence of the Caribbean in a quilt.

Or, indeed, in several 🙂

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Blues, aquas, turquoises

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Luscious shades of green

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Yellows and oranges

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Hot pinks, purples and reds

These photos may not even begin to do it justice, but hopefully will be enough to spark memories of the beautiful colours that we saw during our wonderful holiday.

I’m still not sure how I want to capture all this vibrancy in quilt form, but the Caribbean we saw was gloriously untamed and wild with colour, so I’m pretty sure it will be scrappy and probably quite improvisational. And thanks to an impromptu gift from the wonderful RR, I know what I’m going to use for the backing…


And one more thing I’m sure of is that I just can’t wait  to get started!

Cricket in Barbados

RR and I love to travel. We love re-visiting our favourite spots over and over, as well as seeing new places for the first time. For us, one of the best things about travelling is the opportunity to try new things. Sometimes this can be as mundane as trying a new food, other times it’s a new activity, like when we went to Japan and learnt the technique of roketsu, or wax-resist dying, or Catalan cooking on Barcelona. But in Barbados it was cricket.

Yes, cricket!

Like many Brits, cricket forms part of the backdrop to my childhood. Dad was always watching the cricket on the tv, or listening to Test Match Special on the radio. Cricket scores were ever-present on the evening news and in the newspapers. And, of course, there were always the summer-afternoon matches on the village green. But until this week, I had never even watched a match on the television, let alone in person.

Whilst RR and I aren’t exactly fanatical about sport in general, we do love to watch baseball (a legacy from our time in the US). And to be honest I had always considered baseball to be the exciting and fast-paced relation to the interminable cricket matches I vaguely remembered from my childhood. When I thought of cricket, I thought of matches that seemed to go on for days and days without anyone actually winning. Dull or what?!

Then we came to Barbados, and all that changed.

Just before we left to come on holiday, RR realised that England would be playing the West Indies in the final match of a 20:20 series on the day after we arrived. Given that cricket is so popular in Barbados, we thought that it would be sold out, but we contacted our hotel on the off-chance to enquire about availability. The upshot was that the wonderful Mr J offered to pop into Bridgetown on his day off to pick up a pair of tickets for us. We were more than impressed – I mean, can you imagine anyone taking the time to do that in England???!

And so, on the Thursday morning, 2 cricket tickets were delivered to our breakfast table, and a mere four hours later, we were at the Kensington Oval cricket ground in Bridgetown.



It was hot and sticky, and we were in what seemed to be the cricket equivalent of the bleachers, surrounded by fans of all ages, from well-behaved and immaculately turned-out school kids through to excitable 70-something grandmothers shouting abuse at the umpire. England won the toss and elected to bat first, and so began an wonderful afternoon.



I have to admit that I couldn’t quite manage to follow all the rules, and cricket-terminology still leaves me totally stumped, but even I got quite caught up in it all. As the scores mounted, and the beer flowed freely, excitement reached fever-pitch, until the West Indies were left to score 6 from the last ball to win the match.


They didn’t. England won. The visiting fans were ecstatic (apparently we don’t win very often…), the West Indian fans congratulating them, and happy chatter surrounded us as we made our way back out to meet our taxi driver. And I really enjoyed the whole experience. It was something totally new for me, unexpectedly entertaining and enjoyable, and, clichéd though it may sound, it made me feel like we connected a bit more with the real Barbados.


Travel broadens the mind, as they say. And the cricket certainly broadened mine, challenging my cricket-is-boring prejudices. It was brilliant! And who knows, I may even go and watch another match some day. It makes a change from sewing in any case!

Hotspot with a view

This morning our boat anchored just off the coast of Ile-des-Saints, Guadeloupe, and RR and I took the tender into the marina at Terre-Haut in Marigot Bay.

It is just beautiful.

Although we’ve loved all the destinations on our cruise, this is our favourite so far by a mile. Bizarrely enough, we find ourselves feeling more at home here, on a French-speaking island, than we have done on any of the English-speaking ones we’ve visited.

And having explored a little, and spoken some French, we’re now partaking of a drink before lunch in a beautiful café on the marina, with the most glorious view.

DSC01252It truly is a little piece of paradise on earth 🙂