Sunday, December 01, 2013

NNC Hexagon Exchange 1 & 2 2013

Continuing from my previous posting on the Pincushion Exchange, for the Hexagon 1 Exchange, organised by Margaret, we were required to send out 2 sets of a seven cell hexagon the hexagons can be of any size.

We were also required to send as extras, 10 of the paper hexagon templates of the same size we used to make the seven cell hexagon, so our partner can make more if she wants to.

For this exchange, my partner is Diane.

Without even checking out the database to see my partner's preference, I went ahead to sew up the 2 sets of seven cell hexagon made out of 1" hexagons which I had readily available in my sewing box, as the hexies are my travelling companion to work on when I have some quiet times in the hotel room.

My bad. I had already completed everything and was about to pack them up when I thought that I should check the database just in case.

Guess what?

My partner Diane said that she would prefer a 2" hexagon! I think she must be doing something already that uses 2" hexagons.

I went into panic mode from then on!

I went to the Inklingo website to look for a 2” hexy template and found it, but had a lot of trouble trying to print the hexies onto my fabric despite using the right freezer paper.

My fabric and the freezer paper kept getting stuck in the printer. I did not have this problem when I was printing out the 1” hexies I bought from Inklingo some months ago.

After a few attempts over a few days, I gave up.

I next tried to make my own 2” hexy using the method Janet taught at the NNC group, but somehow my hexies came out lopsided. I could not get my hexies to measure out the same on all sides.

I was starting to get frustrated and even more panicky as the dateline draws nearer and I had even less time to work on the hexies what with all my travelling for work.

Suddenly I had an idea which I think might work. I decided to try drawing the hexies on my laptop using a drawing software I already had in laptop.

That saved me from the Headmistress’ cane when I finally managed to get the hexy to turn out right and I am even pleased with the end product when I could even personalise it with my Uniquely Aznique logo and could even make a bigger hexy to write a note to Diane and Sally included together with the exchange. Phew!

I had fun working with the 2" size hexagon instead of the usual 1" hexy I am used to.

Initially, when I was cutting out the hexy pieces, in my head, I was asking like, "Gosh! This hexy is huge! What in the world is Diane going to do with such a huge hexy, and giving me added stress just trying to look for a template of that size!" LOL! ;)

But, I am glad she did. :)

Here is the end result.

When I started sewing up the pieces together to make a huge 7 cell flower, the result was awesome that I decided to do an extra one more flower after the initial 2 I needed to do for the exchange.

Someone in this group might just be lucky enough to get that extra hexy I made! *wink*wink*

Thanks, Diane, for requesting for that size. It forced me to try out something new, something I think I would never try on my own. But now that I have tried it, I think stitching friends will be seeing more of the 2" hexies in my sewing box! LOL!

In return, I got Sally as my partner,and she made me these lovely hexies.

She also included a box of folded stars, in pink.

Thanks, Sally!

For the Hexy 2 Exchange (HE 2), we are required to send out a completed item, which must have at least 7 hexagons, in any size, incorporated in any manner , into the item.

The item must be done in the colour of the partner’s choice.

Since I was already having so much fun sewing the 2” hexagon for Diane, I decided to extend the excitement by using the 2” hexy template to make something for Sally.

I though making a hexy mug rug would be easy enough to do and fast.

I was right on the fast part when it came to making the 7 cell flower as I could do it on the sewing machine. It was a breeze and I was really pleased with the result.

However, when it came to putting the binding on the mug rug, I had to struggle a bit when I could not get the inner corners to sit properly.

I eventually got it done, but, Sally, please don’t scrutinise the mug rug too closely, ok? ;)

Here’s the back part.

In exchange, I received from Radha who made this lovely hexy ball complete with a bell inside!

She said that I can have my cat play with it.

No way am I going to let my cat play with my lovely hexy ball! LOL!

Radha also included a lovely hexy motif fabric which was just appropriate for the exchange.

Thanks, Radha!

Overall, it was fun doing this exchange. It was lots of fun despite the initial panic to get the 2” hexy! LOL!

Thanks, Margaret, for organising this exchange.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunbonnet Sue Baby Quilt

A couple of months back, a member of our local stitching group, Needles n’ Crafts, Radha, posted at the board asking if anyone is willing to make her a Sunbonnet Sue Baby Quilt which she hopes to gift it to her sister’s daughter is expecting a baby.

I jumped at the opportunity to play with Em, my embroidery machine which I have started to neglect due to my heavy travelling for work.

We discussed the details and finally agreed on only 8 blocks of the Sunbonnet Sues instead of the whole quilt being all Sues.

Radha also requested if I could add a cat in the center block as her sister loves cat.

I pondered for a while as to how to add a cat in the appliqué blocks I already have and did some sketching.

However, after a while, I felt that my cat did not turn out like it was going to look like a cat, and proposed back to Radha if I could instead embroider a Sunbonnet Sue which already has a cat in it which I already happen to have a pattern for it.

Luckily Radha agreed.

Next, I sat down to design a layout of the quilt to make sure that Radha would be happy with it. I gave her 3 options and when she finally settled for one of it, I immediately got started on it as that very weekend, I had some free  time.

I did not want to put off doing it to later, knowing how hectic my work schedule could sometimes be and sometimes even unpredictable where I would have to travel within only 2 days notice.

I am glad I started when I did and got as far as appliquéing and embroidering up to 6 blocks that weekend, because after that, I travelled non-stop for 2 weeks.

The next time I worked on it, I stayed up late to finish off the 2 remaining blocks and started to cut up my fabrics, bought earlier in the day at Kelvins’s one fine Saturday, to make up the rest of quilt.

Radha had specified that she wanted the quilt to be in pink.

That being my favourite colour, I would think that I would have no problem choosing just the right fabric for it.

Wrong!! LOL!

I brought along my sketch and the finished Sunbonnet Sue blocks to Kelvin’s shop so that I can match the pinks to my Sues, and my oh my, does Kelvin have many shades of pinks! LOL!

I was going cross-eyed trying to choose which pink suits the quilt best.

It was hard choosing the many flowery pinks, as in my head, I thought that maybe Kelvin would carry some pink baby motifs, and I would just choose that.

However, the choice of baby motifs in pink was limited at Kelvin’s shop. I did, however, managed to get some very lovely small flowery prints of pinks which I think is really sweet.

For the backing, I managed to get a lovely ABC fabric bought from Gill’s Quilt Gallery in Bangsar, which I felt just matched the pink and green motifs which I intended to do for the front.

It was fast putting the quilt together. It took me only a week, working on it every spare night I wasn’t travelling for work. But the next stage of the quilt, I felt like it was taking me ages to get it done.

For some of you advanced quilters out there might find doing the quilting part a breeze. But for me, it was the biggest challenge of doing a quilt.

I thought that I’d take a short cut and get Em to help me with the quilting part.

I had bought a few quilt patterns online and tried it on a small practice piece and it turned out almost perfect!

I was happy with the result and set about to quilt embroidery the whole quilt with Em’s help. Easy peasy, right?

Wrong again!

Em refused to quilt embroider the huge (huge by Em’s standard) quilt. The quilt kept coming off its hoop and I would end up with jumped stitches.

After several attempts to get Em to quilt embroider, I started to get all flustered and frustrated. I decided that this is not going to work. Em is kicking up a fuss and we don’t seem to see eye to eye on this project.

I decided to let Em off the hook and started to look for other ways to quilt the baby quilt.

I could have just done some simple stippling quilting effect all over the quilt, and I should be done in about 2 weeks, but I am not one to just do something straight forward and felt that, after doing quilting for a number of years, I should start progressing to the next level, and that is to try to do other quilting designs, other than just stippling.

I looked to the internet for ideas.

I spent every spare time I had, googling for quilting motifs, hoping to find just the right motifs suited for my level of expertise. Oopps! I cannot even be considered an expert!

In my search for just that right quilting motif, it brought me to Pinterest.

I could spend hours going through Pinterest!

I came up with loads of quilting designs which I really love. Alas, most of them are for more advanced quilters.

I was beginning to feel the pressure when my time was running out as Radha asked if I could get the quilt done by November, and I still could not settle on a quilt motif which I think I am confident enough to do. My travelling all the time did not help either.

Finally, after many hours of going through Pinterest, I decided on a few motifs which I think I can manage.

Once the motifs were decided, it was time to do some practice pieces.

However, since I was still busy travelling; there was no way I could do a practice piece. So, I did the next best thing.

In between boring meetings, and on my flights in the plane and at airport lounges, or anytime I find that I have extra time on my hands waiting to get on the plane, for a meeting to start, even while I was watching TV, I'd be doodling, trying to find what works best for my quilting level and what suits the baby quilt best.

I finally settled for 4 different quilting designs.

I can’t say I know the names of any of the quilting designs that I have chosen as they all came from different sources.

You can go to my Pinterest to see the pins and track the designs from there, if you like.   

Trying to quilt on a sewing machine with a small throat was another challenge I had to face.

For a while, I ended up having a sore shoulder from not sitting properly. I finally decided to move my sewing machine to another table where I would have more space to the front of the machine, and it worked.

I was able to quilt for many hours on the baby quilt, making frequent stops in between for some water to drink as adviced by many of my quilting friends and from reading and watching YouTubes.

I can’t actually recall how many hours it took me to finish the quilting, but, despite all the sore shoulders I had to endure, I enjoyed every stitch I put into the quilt.

I had so much fun trying out the new quilting motifs.

As if quilting 4 new designs wasn't challenging enough, I decided to also try out making a scalloped border instead of the normal straight edge border. 

This is the first time I am making a scalloped edge for a quilt.

It took me several sketching and markings on the quilt to finally get all the scallops at the 4 corners to match up.

After having to go through a tough time doing up the scallop edge, I decided to just settle for a simple straight line quilting for the border.

Despite it being simple, I think the simplicity of a straight line quilt gave the border the depth and dimension I wanted.

I like the way it turned out. 

Next came the binding.

It was also a first for me to try to bind a scalloped edge and I had to tune in to several Youtube videos before I was confident enough to give it a go.

I think I did OK. I like the way the binding turned out actually.

I decided that the binding should be yellow instead of pink or green to add interest to the quilt. I thought that it would make the quilt 'pop'!

Did it, when you first saw the quilt?

I think the yellow binding picked up the yellow ABCs on the backing very well, and on the front, it brought out the yellow dress on the middle row of Sues. 

This baby quilt had given me the opportunity to try out so many new things and something that I think I’d never try out if not for this quilt.

Thanks, Radha, for giving me this opportunity to make this quilt for you. Those sore shoulders were worth every pain I had to endure! LOL!

I hope you and your sister and niece will be able to enjoy the quilt.

Another product by Uniquely Aznique!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

NNC Pincushion Exchange 2013

This is another over due posting. I am about 6 months overdue, if not more.

I have so many things I want to write about, but so little time. So, what else is new, right? LOL!

I missed posting on this year's NNC Anniversary Meet. I hope to still blog on it some day as I have some exciting news to share...well, exciting to me!! heheh.....

Anyway, back to the exchanges organised at NNC, I have not joined that many exchanges this year due to heavy work schedule, but I did join these 3 exchanges - the Pincushion Exchange, and 2 Hexagon Exchanges.

For the Pincushion Exchange, I am to send out to Maria, and I am to receive from Shanny. It was actually a secret exchange where your partner does not know who her partner is.

I didn't know my partner was Shanny until she returned home for the holidays recently (Shanny is a Malaysian staying in Switzerland) and hinted to me that she's got something to pass to me and had hoped that I would be able to make it for the Bee held during the fasting month of July.

Initially I thought that she had brought back some Swiss chocolates to give to me. She did, actually, but she did not just have chocolates to give to me but also box of tea and, the most exciting item of all, was the Pincushion Exchange!!

I received a lovely pink (yes, Shanny knows my favourite colour!) pincushion.

Just look at the details. Shanny even provided for a tab on the cover to make it easy for me to open the tub. 

I think Shanny had recycled an old tub. I can use the tub to put in all my smalls.

Shanny even included 2 small containers. She said it's for my pins and what nots for me to bring on my travels since I travel so much for work. 

She also included some lovely pins.

Shanny was also very innovative when she made the top of the pincushion cover to be able to detach from the cover and put on the wrist as a wrist pincushion. I just love it!

Thanks, Shanny!

On my part, I made this cathedral pincushion as a tryout, and when it turned out nice, I decided to make 2 more - one to keep and two to giveaway.

I gave away the one on the one at the bottom right hand corner to Maria, my exchange partner who is in Portugal.

I have to apologize to Maria for sending it out late, even though I had actually finished making the pincushions more than 2 months before the mailing out date was due.

But, when I started travelling almost non-stop for work, I could not find time to get to the post office to mail it out on time. When I finally did find time to squeeze in a trip to the post office, I was late in sending out. :(

Anyway, I am glad that it arrived safely, and I hope that Maria likes it and hopefully it will be her constant companion when she works on her sewing work.

Thanks to Diane for organising the exchange.  

As for the two Hexagon Exchanges, wait for my next posting.....

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Missing Little Robin

I miss Robin, a kitten who made our house his home a month ago. 

He came one day when I was outstation and hubby decided to feed him. 

The next day he came again and I gave him milk which he drank like he hasn't eaten in over a week

I took him to the vet to have him vaccinated and give him flea medicine last week. I also gave him a good shampooing as he wanted to come into the house to play. 

I have come to love him and miss him when I am away. 

Today, like any day, we would let him out to play. 

He usually does not go far. He would just play around our back yard. But now it is already 6.00pm, and he is still not yet back, whereas Jack and Jane, our other 2 cats have come home about an hour ago. 

I feel so sad. I hope he comes home before we retire for the day.....

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Trip of a Lifetime - to the US and the UK (Part 10) – Stranded in New York

Gosh! The last time I wrote on the trip was on 22nd May 2013!

There is still plenty to tell about the trip and there’s also the craft stash I acquired during the trip which my Stitching Friends are waiting for me to show off!

I have been so busy with work and life that it is getting harder and harder to find time to spend on another one of my passion and that is writing and blogging. 

I hope it is still not too late (stale) to continue where I left off, if not for anything else, but for my son to read in years to come.

In my last posting on the trip, on the 6th day of my stay in the US, I mentioned that all flights out of New York, including my flight, had been cancelled due to unexpected severe weather condition within the next 24 hours.

I hardly slept that night. I had the Weather Channel on all night, so that even as I sleep (I am a light sleeper), I could hear the weather condition being reported continuously.

I prayed that the weather condition would improve in the next few hours or so, so that we may fly out of New York the next day as per our schedule.

However, as I stayed up for most part of the night, I could hear the snow storm coming in and could see the heavy snow fall through my hotel window.

By morning, it was almost certain that we were going to be spending another day in New York when the airport was closed for all incoming and outbound flights.

A colleague joked that we have been snowed in because someone had made a wish to visit Central Park but because he never got to make that wish to become a reality yet, he had wished for another day in New York to make that wish become true! LOL!

Anyway, back to the current situation and the crisis at hand, once it was determined that we won’t be able to make it for our scheduled 6.00pm flight out of New York, the next thing was trying to get the next available flight to London.

We spent the whole morning in the hotel lobby as frantic calls were made to our respective travel agents in Malaysia.

Mind you that we have a 12 hour time difference where it is night time in Malaysia as we struggled to get whatever possible flights out of New York.

Some of us were lucky when their travel agents stayed up late till 10pm to try to get us flights to London.  Some were not that lucky when their travel agents could not be contacted and they ended up having to make their own flight arrangements.

It was also quite a task trying to coordinate among the travel agents, us being so far away on the other side of the globe, as we tried to get all of us on the same flight to London to make it easy to make transport arrangements in London.

When that was not really possible as thousands of other passengers who were also snowed in like us scrambled to get whatever flights available out of New York, we decided that whatever flights we could get, we will just grab it.

As if struggling to get the next available flight to London was not bad enough, we also had a crisis with our lodging arrangements when the hotel where we had already stayed for 2 days wanted us to vacate our rooms to make way for new customers coming in.

It took a frantic long distance call to the Malaysian Embassy in Washington D.C. to assist us that finally managed to get our lodging issues resolved.

When it was all finally settled – the flights and the lodging, it was already close to 1.oopm! Only then did we all suddenly feel hungry! LOL!

Everyone went back to their rooms to change out of their travelling clothes and into something more comfortable for another day in New York.

At that point, it suddenly dawned on me – WE GET ANOTHER DAY IN NEW YORK? Wow! Does this mean that I will get an opportunity to visit a craft shop which I found out through Google is actually just within walking distance from the hotel?

Ok, ok, don’t get excited! We are not actually out of the crisis yet as the snow storm had not actually subsided. Even though we had our tickets booked for the flight out of New York for 6.00pm tomorrow evening, everything depended on the weather tomorrow and whether the airport will be opened for operations.

But for now, we just had to make the best of the situation, and first things first, we had to get something for lunch.

I followed my colleagues to lunch at a nearby halal restaurant.

After lunch, many wanted to take the opportunity to do more sightseeing despite the snow still falling heavily. Others wanted to do more shopping.

Me? I wanted to try to make way to the craft shop nearby, but, I thought that I’d follow my colleagues for a while to Macy to see what’s there as I did not get an opportunity to visit Macy before this.

I managed to get myself an extra blouse to wear for the extra day in New York.

After that, with the snow still falling heavily, and it even started to rain a bit, I made my way in search of the City Quilter, 5 blocks from the hotel.

Oooh! What I’d do without a GPS! I have always been bad with directions, but ever since I could get Google map on my hand phone, back home, I have been able to go to places on foot and by car where I would have never tried venturing before, for fear that I might get lost.

With the help of the GPS and Google Map, I have become more adventurous, and what more, when it comes to going in search of a craft shop! LOL!

It did not feel like it was a long walk as I took in the sights around me, still not believing that I am actually in New York!

After walking for about 30 minutes or so, I finally arrived at the City Quilter!

Gosh! Pinch me! I am here! I am here! I am in front of the shop that I could only see in the pages of my quilt magazines before this!

I excitedly entered the shop and was in awe of all the quilting and sewing stuff I see before me! I feel like grabbing and buying everything! LOL!

But alas, reality sank in, and I had to be practical. I have limited bag space and there was the weight of the luggage that I am limited to that I had to take into consideration.

It took a lot of will power to control myself not to go overboard when choosing out what I wanted to buy. I had to keep reminding myself to only get those things which are not easily available in Malaysia, too expensive to order and ship it to Malaysia, and uniquely New York.

Despite all the limitations and constraints I set myself, I actually managed to get quite a good haul. I think my Stitching Friends are going to be so envious of me! LOL!

After paying for my purchases, I managed to get the Sales Assistant to allow me to snap a photo in the shop. 

I told her that this photo will be a part of my blog journey in search of craft shops that will get my craft friends jealous! LOL! *wink* 
Sorry for the almost identical photo, but some reason, photos taken in vertical comes out in horizontal when I upload it to blogspot. 

I can't figure out how to resolve it. So, I decided to put 2 vertical photos together to force the photos to stay vertical.

Happy with my purchase, I made my way back to the hotel, with the snow still falling heavily, and rain coming out in full force too. 

I made a stop at a souvenir shop to buy some souvenirs to take home for friends and families.  

After a short rest to regain energy that was drained from all the excitement of the morning of trying to get tickets for the flight to London, reaffirming our extended stay at the hotel and finding my way to a craft shop, I started organising my things to pack up.

It was an art of packing to get everything compacted inside the bags and still be within the weight limit allowed, without having to pay excessively for excess luggage. 

I already knew that I’d be paying for excess luggage when I bought an extra luggage, but I wanted to be sure that I won’t be paying an exorbitant amount.

When that was done, it was already late evening and the snow was still falling heavily.  

I did my payers and prayed that the weather would improve over the next 24 hours so that we may make our next leg of our trip.

All night long, I had only the weather channel on. My brother messaged me suggesting that I go out and buy some food in preparation for maybe another long day in New York should the weather not improve.

I went out to the nearest convenience shop and bought myself these.....

I went to bed after having dinner of leftovers from the meal I had with my brother and his family.

It wasn’t such a restful night, as all night long, I kept listening up to the weather report to see if things would improve....  

End of Day 7 – 8th February 2013 – an unintended extra day in New York.....