25 February 2012

{friendship} february: tools of the trade & (yet another) giveaway

Hello there!
I hope you are all having a great weekend....here on the Causeway Coast we are all breathing a huge sigh of relief, the big project I have been slaving over working on day & night for the past couple of weeks is finally done & we can go back to eating at the kitchen table, if I can find it under this lot....
But on to more important things...like the crochet giveaway.......and the winner is Number 5 -  Strawberry Patch, congratulations Emily! (sorry I had to remove the image as the number kept changing on random.org) Thanks so much to Sarah & to you all for the interesting comments about crocheting. I was inspired to find out more & here are some of the many wonderful crochet projects & tutorials out there...
http://pinterest.com/songbirdstitch/crazy-crochet/
But back to the next installment of {friendship} february. I'm so thrilled to introduce you to the lovely Leanne, a relatively new bloggy friend who I've met through our do Good Stitches bee.....over to you Leanne....
Hi there – I’m Leanne - I blog over at daisyandjack and I’m very excited to be guest posting here today.When Karen asked me to do a guest post for her {friendship} february series I immediately thought of this quote that I saw recently…
Life is short.
Do what you love.
Live your dream and
share your passion.
I think sharing your passion is what sums up online friendships – the online quilting world is full of fabulous people happy to share their passion and knowledge with anyone who is interested and that’s often how online friendships start.
So I thought I’d share my passion and my ( little) knowledge and tell you about a few of my favourite quilting tools that I now can’t live without.
First up is my design wall – mine is by Fons and Porter ) and can be hung from a wall with small clips which is fabulous for me as I rent and I also seem to move house a bit so it’s very transportable which is handy – my mum says a vinyl backed tablecloth works just as well but mine already has the holes for hanging J
I discovered a need for a design wall as I live in a very small house and I was laying out quilts in progress on my bed which meant that I couldn’t leave them laid out for very long (I need to sleep occasionally) and I discovered quite a few bloggers used design walls so I thought that would be a perfect solution and it is! There are a couple of reasons I think a design wall is great – one is that you can leave your layout where it is for as long as you want – I tend to leave mine for at least a few days so I can move and change blocks around.  It’s easier to place blocks so you don’t end up with too many of the same together and it’s easier to see the colour placement.
This is the first “big” quilt I made which I laid it out on my bed as I didn’t have a design wall – all the blocks should be scattered around evenly but as I discovered (after I’d sew the quilt together) I had sewn the same coloured blocks next to each other and quite a few times as well !
There are quite a few tutorials around that show you how to make your own design wall – Oh Fransson has a good one and there’s another one here
My next favourite item is a hera marker that my mum sent me for my birthday last year. I must admit when I got it I wasn’t quite sure what it was or what it did and then I watched Sarah Fielke using it to mark her lines for applique.
A few weeks later I was making a quilt with a heap of half square triangles and flying geese and I thought I’d use the hera marker to mark the lines instead of a pencil or pen and I’ve been hooked ever since – it’s a fabulous tool!
And my last favourite tool is actually flower head pins – I made quite a few quilt tops last year and after working out the block placement on the design wall I was pinning bits of paper to the blocks with the block and row numbers and I thought there had to be a better way!
My mum had sent me some flower head pins and I thought that I could write block and row numbers on those and then I wouldn’t have to worry about the bits of paper (yes, my mum is a great inspiration and sends fabulous things my wayJ)  So I ordered two lots of yellow flower head pins and have been using them for a while now and wondered why no-one else had thought of it.
Well, a few weeks ago I was blog surfing and I discovered a tutorial and yes, you guessed it, the lady was using flower head pins with the block and row numbers marked on them – so alas I’m not a genius after all –and the tutorial was done in 2006 so my bright idea has been around for a while!
So that’s my post for today - if you’ve made it this far, well done and to thank you for sticking with me. As a reward, I have a copy of Emily Cier’s Scrap Republic book to giveaway.
All you have to do is leave one comment telling us your favourite quilting or sewing tool or gadget and you could win a copy of this fabulous book. If you follow Karen's or my blog, please leave extra comments & let us know
I’d like to thank Karen for having me on her blog today and I’d love you to visit me at my my blog sometime !
Leanne

Thanks so much Leanne!
We'll keep this giveaway open until 29th February & announce the winner on 1st March, good luck!
Fancy crocheting this???
Hope you have a wonderful weekend
Take care
Karen

20 February 2012

{friendship} february: get your hooks out & (another) giveaway!!


Hello there!
I hope you all had a great weekend....mine was spent buried under yards of silk, interfacing, a wee bit of boning & lots of pins....but I'll tell you all about that another day! 
Thanks for all the fantastic comments about online friendships, it was really wonderful to hear your thoughts on this amazing community we are part of!  I'm delighted to announce that the winner of the lovely Flutter. Kat patterns is:

True Random Number Generator  
Result:
23Powered by RANDOM.ORG
So congratulations Quilterbell! Could you please email me your address to get these gorgeous patterns off to you? For those of you who didn't win, I have a little surprise for you at the end of this blog post, but I'll let my next {friendship} february guest tell you all about it. I'm delighted to hand over to Sarah, one of my first bloggy friends (who happens to live only about an hour away from me!). She not only sews wonderful things, but crochets beautiful things too

Hello there!  Huge thanks to Karen for inviting me to guest post on her blog during her {friendship} february feature - thanks for having me!
Although I'm more frequently found behind the motorised needle of the sewing machine or hanging out here, one of my other needlecraft loves is crochet, and it's crochet Karen has invited me to talk to you about today.  For me, crochet is the sociable alternative to hiding away in the sewing room with fabrics and my rotary cutter.  I can grab a hook and a ball of wool and be part of the family again while letting those busy fingers of mine keep at it!  I also love crochet for its portability - great for car journeys, waiting for the kids at swimming lessons, well, you get the picture.
Crochet is also a fantastic craft for little projects that work up very quickly. In the space of an evening you can have some cute lovelies like these to enjoy!  
 Want to see how?
Firstly, choose a design you like that will allow you to layer the crocheted pieces in order of diminishing size.  For my brooch I have opted for two circular motifs, one slightly smaller than the other, but you could try squares or hexagons or any other shape you fancy.  If you want something really special you might even try more layers.
 
 Once your circles, or flowers, or whatever are complete, you need to stitch them together discreetly so that they will hold well when worn as the brooch.  Sew in any loose yarn ends.  Choose a co-ordinating button and stitch it in the centre of your flowers, making sure it is well secured.
 Now for the brooch pin.  These little pins are quite inexpensive and can be bought online or at craft shops.  If the back of your brooch will give you enough purchase you can go ahead and stitch the pin backing directly to your crochet.  Sometimes however, there isn't quite enough substance to hold the pin back in the right place.  If this is so, you can follow this handy little tip I picked up at a fab brooch making workshop by Judith- simply cut a small felt circle, sew the brooch pin to the felt about two-thirds of the way up and then glue the felt and pin to the back of your crochet.  Leave until the glue dries and then pin the brooch to your coat and wear proudly!
Once you've mastered crochet and the technique of brooch building the only limit is your creativity.  These little rose brooches were made from a length of narrow crocheted scalloped edging wound in a spiral: 
So, lovely readers, if you've persevered this far you deserve a chance to be rewarded! So, here are two little giveaways.
  • Firstly, if you've never tried crochet before but would like to have a go, I have a little starter gift for you.  There's a copy of the Art of Crochet DVD, a 4mm hook and a 25g ball of yarn as well as one of my little brooches to inspire you to stick at it.
 And, for those not so interested in trying crochet for yourself, there are these two little brooches:
 
To enter simply leave a comment letting Karen know which draw you'd like to be entered in - either the 'Beginner' or the 'Brooches'. If you follow either Karen's blog or mine, please let us know for bonus entries.
Well, that's me and my crochet brooches folks.  Hope you've enjoyed it and if you're at all inspired to have a go I hope you'll find these suggested resources useful:
Books:
'Start Crochet', Jan Eaton -  great instructions, clear pictures and progress through techniques into projects
'Cute and Easy Crochet', Nicki Trench - good illustrations of the stitch techniques, fun projects
'200 Crochet Blocks', Jan Eaton - great book of crochet squares for making samplers, cushions etc
'201 Crochet Motifs, Blocks, Projects and Ideas', Melody Griffiths - I wouldn't recommend for a beginner, but for those with experience this book has a great selection of motifs for crocheting
'Crocheted Throws and Wraps', Melody Griffiths - definitely for the more confident crocheter, but gorgeous selection of throw patterns
Crochet Blogs: yarnroundhookattic24naturenutnotes - not strictly a blog on crochet but has some nice crochet posts/tutorials

Thanks so much Sarah! I just love those flowers! The giveaway will close on Friday 24th Feb at 12MN (gmt) & I'll announce the winner on Saturday....good luck everyone! I'm off to sew up some more silk!
Hope you all have a great week!
Karen

15 February 2012

{friendship} february: giveaway goodies!

Hello there!
I hope you all had a LOVEly Valentines Day yesterday. Thanks so much for your kind wishes to Hannah who, as I write, is singing her wee heart out in Canterbury...good luck my lovely girl!

OK, back to business. To-days post is jam-packed with goodies, so without further ado, I'll announce the winner of the {friendship} february giveaway. Catherine picked no. 7, so Helen (or you may know her as archiethewonderdog) you are the winner of a pair of these lovelies in whichever colour you fancy!
Congratulations Helen!
For the rest of you, don't despair... I have ANOTHER giveaway for you, generously donated from my next {friendship} february guest, the super talented Kat. Over to you Kat...

Hi Everyone! And Happy Valentine's Day!!

I'm Kat from Diary of a Flutter.Kat {Mummastimetocreate} blog. Firstly thanks so much to Karen for having me over for a visit here today as part of her friendship series. I'm honoured to be part of it. Karen and I are relatively new friends and I have really enjoyed getting to know her more recently. And I think it's wonderful that she is celebrating friendship this month! Isn't blogland wonderful for that?! I just think we have such a powerful tool here at our fingertips for meeting people and being involved in such a fantastic, uplifting and inspiration online community.
Big Cartel header
I have been blogging for just over a year now and over that time I have also been very involved in many Flickr swaps. Blogging & Flickr and fabulous ways to meet new online friends. I have made some truly wonderful friends through these avenues. Friends who I have not met in person, but who are very real to me and give me very real support none the less. I am also looking forward to meeting many of them in person when I come over to the Fat Quarterly Retreat in London in June! 

My story is that I'm a New Zealand girl, married to an English man, living in Perth, Australia a long way from either of our "homes". I have an online business, but my main occupation is a stay-at-home-mum. It is a great life, but it can be pretty lonely sometimes often with only 2 small girls to keep me company when my husband is working away, so I craft and blog to keep me sane. And when Neil is away or my kids are sick and I'm stuck at home, my friends in blogland are always there for me. Regardless of the time of day (or night) there is always either a friend to talk to via email, skype, or a friends blog to read. Not to mention the spectacular eye-candy that I get to oogle at constantly. Someone is always showing off a fantastic project to inspire! So I find that the blog & online community are a great way for me to feel involved in a world that is bigger than just my household.
Another way that I really feel inspired by our crafting community, is by people's willingness to give to others, help people in need, and give back to our "real life" communities. A few examples of this are all the auctions for those who lost their homes in the Queensland floods, hearts & softies for Christchurch NZ after the earthquakes there, lots of different drives for Japan after the earthquake there and so on. It inspires me to see the difference that we can each make when we pool together our resources.

I have been involved in several of these on a short term scale, but on a more long term scale I am involved in 2 charity sewing groups. The first is called Blankets of Love and is one that I run through my blog.

blankets of love copy 150 dpi I make small quilts to donate to my local woman & children's hospital as some comfort for the families of sick babies. At the end of their hospital stay they get to keep their new quilt. You can read about it more here. Anybody is welcome to contribute to this in any way they feel they would like to. Whether that be donating a fully made quilt, or if international then a quilt top. Or even just some orphan quilt blocks they may have lying around.
I also love giving back through my blog. Through reading blogs & the internet I have learned pretty much everything I know about sewing and a lot about other crafts too. So as part of my contribution back to blogland I have a number of tutorials available free on my blog to help others learn too. I try and release at least 1 tutorial if not more a month...


The other charity that I'm thrilled to be part of, this time with Karen as our ring master if you will ;), is the CARE branch of Do. good stitches bee. Each month we all make 2 quilt blocks and they will get donated to a cause of that quilter's choice each month. In February we are blessing a family with a quilt to remind them of their mother/wife who passed away last year at the age of 37. You can read about her story here in the blog her husband kept of her illness. I love the fact that her family will soon have a special quilt in memory of her.

So, to join today with Karen in celebrating online friendship and blogging, I thought I would offer up a giveaway for one lucky person to win a copy of 2 of my patterns {usually only available in my shop}...My Scrappy Pouch pattern...
Scrappy pouch pattern button
And my Zipper Pouch Pattern...
Big Cartel header
To enter all you need to do is comment telling us one thing you love about online friendships.
You may also win bonus entries for leaving comments with the following...
**  "like" my page Flutter from.Kat over on Facebook
**  Be a follower of Karen's blog
**  Be a follower of my blog
And that should be plenty of entries for you.
Thanks again for having me Karen!


Thanks so much Kat! Its great to be part of such a caring, creative & generous community!
The giveaway will be open until Sunday 19th February 12MN (gmt) & we will announce the winner on Monday 20th. Good luck!
Karen


14 February 2012

{friendship} february: happy valentines day!

Hello there!
This is just a wee post to wish you all a lovely, happy Valentine's Day surrounded by people you love.... I'm going to have quite a quiet VD this year as Hannah is off for another uni audition in Canterbury in an hour or two, so it will just be me & the boys.... but while she's been getting organised, I've been busy in the kitchen finishing off this for her
I'm going to fill it with some nice travel-size bits & pieces & sneak it into her suitcase
I'll be back tomorrow to announce the winner of the {friendship} february giveaway & another fantastic guest post, but in the meantime here's something to remember......
Hope you have a wonderful day!
Karen


10 February 2012

{friendship} february: a tastey tagine

Hello there!
How has your week been? Life can be so busy, can't it? But for a few moments take a seat & put your feet up & enjoy a wee chat with my friend Annabella who not only sews beautiful things but also cooks delicious food..
Thank you to Karen for letting me loose on her blog today as part of her {friendship} february series. I`m Annabella and I blog over here normally. For the last 10 years, I have lived in Marrakech, Morocco which is at the far North West of Africa.  Things get pretty laid back here.
If you are creatively inclined, it is a wonderful place to spend some time. The light is incredible, it is crazy colourful and vibrant and if you love photography or quilting there is inspiration wherever you look. I love both!

Now it`s no secret that I love my food and it`s a pleasure to be living somewhere where food and mealtimes are so important. Mealtimes, particularly lunch, remain a time when the family usually gathers. While a working lunch in the city is becoming increasingly the norm, shops shut, tools are downed and offices close while many people head home to eat with their families. So I have a super simple but tasty and authentically Moroccan dish, which I would love you to try. It`s great for cold winter days. My mother in law has taught me a few Moroccan dishes and she has given them the thumbs up, so I hope you like this one too. It`s one of the most famous Moroccan dishes and can be cooked in a tagine (a conical pot) or if you don`t have one - then put it in an oven dish with a cover.
Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives
Serves 4
For the Chemoula Marinade
1 tbsp. of flat leaf parsley
4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 tspn. of ground ginger
1 half tspn. of cinnamon powder
1 tspn. of ground cumin
1 tspn. of paprika
salt and pepper
A couple of pinches of saffron soaked in a couple of tablespoons of water  for half an hour*optional*

For the Tagine
Large chicken  (jointed or 2 breasts and 2 legs or 4 breasts)
1 medium grated onion
2 large tomatoes (peeled and quartered)
2 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced)
2 - 3 tbsp. olive oil
A handful of green olives 
Half a preserved lemon

Place the parsley and garlic in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped or if you fancy flexing your muscles, do as my mother in law would do and give it a good bashing with a pestle and mortar. 
Place the parsley mixture in a large bowl and add the marinade spices, the saffron water (if using otherwise a couple of tablespoons of water) and a tbsp. of olive oil. Mix well. 
Place your chicken pieces in the bowl, roll up your sleeves and rub the spicy paste all over the chicken. I would advise wearing plastic gloves unless you want orange hands! Put the chicken, half a cup of water and grated onion on the base of your tagine or oven dish.
Take your preserved lemon and remove the flesh.  Slice the rind.  It should look like this. (If you like a particularly lemony taste (I do but Mr LRP doesn`t), you can simply slice it leaving the flesh in.) 
Arrange the sliced potatoes on top of the chicken mixture and place the tomatoes in the centre. Sprinkle the lemon slices on top. Pour a good glug of olive oil over the potatoes. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Don`t add too much salt as the olives and lemon are already salty.
Cover with the tagine lid or if you are using a baking dish, some aluminum foil.

Leave to simmer on a low heat on the cooker top or if you are using an oven dish, place in the oven at 180 C or 355 F with a lid, or cover with aluminium foil. Now go and put your feet up.

After 20 minutes, you should have more liquid as the tomatoes cook. Push a couple of the potato slices aside and baste the potatoes and tomatoes with the liquid. Push the lemon slices down into the cooking liquid. Put the slices back.

After another 20 minutes, add the olives.  Use as many or as little as you like.  There are no rules. Leave for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked!  The sauce should have reduced and thickened.



Moroccans would eat this with bread and side salads.  If you fancy adding other vegetables then that`s fine. You can add any vegetable you like - sliced carrots, peas, whatever takes your fancy.
Bon Apetite!

Thanks so much Annabella - that's tea sorted out for the Hamilton household tonight!! Isn't it lovely how friendships just make life a whole lot better (& tastier!!) 

Hope you all have a great weekend
Karen
PS Don't forget you still have a couple more days to enter the giveaway for Catherine's earrings. To see the details of the giveaway, just click here
If you are having trouble commenting, do please drop me a wee line as Blogger seems to be playing up a bit at the moment. Good luck!