Rain stops play?

Much to Barbara’s relief the weather has returned to normal (ie cold and rainy!) and Chris has been driven indoors and back to the sewing room.  We have a workshop to teach on Saturday – Log Cabin – and Chris is ‘her in charge’ for the day.  Little preparation has so far been forthcoming and Barbara was beginning to panic; but a lot of ivy and rotted sheds have now been removed and ground dug and prepared ready for … ? a new shed perhaps? (or even a Log Cabin?? Barbara).  Which means that Chris can now turn her attention to cutting up fabric and putting it back together again.

So – what will we be doing in the Log Cabin workshop this Saturday? Well, we can offer some clues –  it’s not this –

courthouse steps finsihed quiltor this –

log cabin staror this –

LC tree

or even this –

lc 002

But we promise it will be fun.  And just a little bit different.  And Chris has now made a start on the samples and step-by-steps using these fabrics –

log cabin fabric

– 6 shades of grey plus bright white and a sea green / blue as contrasts.  The worksheet is ‘under development’ as they say and Electric Quilt drawings have been played with.  Chris is getting quite excited now about making stuff instead of digging the garden up.  Just as well really !

random bits and pieces

It’s only a few days to go, too many things to do or think about so Chris has been holed up in the sewing studio (aka her spare bedroom) making a random quilt with no final purpose in mind. Sensible? No. Fun? Kind of … ! Anway, it is finished. Hoorah. So here’s a couple of pics to prove it.

swamp a small

swamp b small

Not the usual thing Chris makes. But its out of her system for now. The (vague) idea was to take a block (the one in the centre of the above photo) and ‘explode’ it, scattering its units across the background – as in the top photo. Reminds Chris a bit of her brother who delighted in taking things apart to see how they worked – “It’s not broken, mum, its just in bits”. It proved horribly difficult to be random in tilt of the units and their ‘scatter’. Chris does not do ‘random’, nor asymmetric.

So the rest of the year can carry on now … and then there’s next year waiting in the wings. Worksheets are being written, Needs Lists prepared. The next class is much earlier in the year than usual – on January 18th (just before the show at Nantwich, not clever planning on our part) and is called ‘Merged Blocks’. The needs list is available on the website. And there’s secure online booking too…
In the meantime our brochure has had a bit of a facelift courtesy of Chris’s daughter who has been playing (her word) with a desktop publishing programme. We’re quite impressed. Have a look.

It’s a challenge

How can you run an empire without technology? Chris has been finding out the hard way these past three weeks – no laptop, no desktop, no internet at C&B Towers. The entire IT department has had to close while solutions are found for the unbelievable effects of a new cyber supervirus. Over at the Rural Office there’s internet and iPads but no laptop for important things like Electric Quilt and all the Microsoft Word files. When all this is over the IT budget for the next five years will have been wiped out – so far the tally is one new laptop, six visits to the IT fixers and two further items returned to factory settings, which means lots of backing up and re-installing which takes longer than you’d like. There may be more to come, but let’s just say that this has been one heck of a persistent piece of malware.

So, any delays in our timings for class preparation, blog, Meadowside Designs etc are not the result of our habitual procrastination – the empire is being kept on track (just) courtesy of the local library and an iPad, plus a lot of caffeine. And we are both getting a lot of sewing done, which is a Good Thing. Here’s a quick shot of Barbara’s “almost finished” stack (Chris is still buried under mounds of quilt at her machine) –



This should have been a straightforward week of preparation and catching up throughout the C&B Empire, but during the weekend all plans had to change. It started at the rural office when building and repair works were given the go-ahead and the builder was able to start immediately – brick dust, plaster dust, very elderly walls

A bonus is the temporary fixture of the builder’s companion –

– who is keeping a careful eye on things including at least one permanent resident

When there is chaos and confusion sometimes a little sewing offers a peaceful space, so Barbara decided to make some headway with a sample for a 2014 class.


So far so good. Then real progress – six more blocks were quickly stitched together. And what do we always preach? check, check and check again. Spot the goof up that was only noticed at the end –

Hand piecing is no easier to unpick than machine piecing……. but the whole day’s work had to be undone, and you can guess what is on the agenda at the rural branch today! Still, it’s a pretty block and it will probably show up on Barbara’s blog as the sample develops.

Meanwhile back at C&B Towers life was a little more under control to the point where spring bulbs had been planted, project notes written up, quilts measured, quilts planned, worksheets finished. And then the almost-disaster struck – cyber attack discovered, files corrupted, work lost. Much frantic activity to resolve and salvage the situation. So it appears that Chris is going to be deeply engaged with technical matters for the immediate future with a vastly increased caffeine intake….

Spaces and progress

All the renovation work that has taken place at C&B Towers has had a knock-on effect at our rural office – Barbara has re-assessed and revamped all her space and contents with some notable results – clear(ish) surfaces and more floor space.  There is still quite a lot of fine-tuning to do but it feels a lot better, bigger and brighter – A Good Thing!   The hope is that production from the rural office will increase as a result (about time too! – Chris) and so far the plan seems to be working.  It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by all the stuff that is hanging around waiting to be finished, or at least moved on to the next stage, so Barbara has shoved  carefully moved all the WIPs, PhDs and UFOs into one large storage bin under her desk.  Now everything is close at hand but not immediately visible, easy to dip into and put back.

The production so far has seen a start on a forgotten charm pack



which may end up as a small sofa throw or table cloth.  Samples have been produced for our class Jelly Roll Seminole on Saturday –



Samples have been produced for our Positive Negative class in November –







A Grandmother’s Fan project has been found  rescued  retrieved and moved along one more step towards completion –



A HUGE pile of books and magazines have been moved out so that the shelves now look more like this –

DSCN4627 DSCN4627




Back to work – production calls!


Chris is spending her Saturday at The Corner Patch teaching Celtic applique followed by Block of the Month. Barbara is spending her Saturday putting various things together in readiness for our class on Monday –

and considering whether its worth the extra effort to begin tidying other areas –

The likely outcome will be additional preparation (and procrastination) for Barbara’s next class also at The Corner Patch. Topics to cover are handquilting –

maybe some needleturn applique –

and some hand piecing

Preparations and procrastination continue apace (!) for our next class at Tittensor. We like to have a small basket of fabric – fat quarters usually – available for fabric emergencies or changes of mind. We are extremely fortunate to have very accommodating quilt shops willing to provide this service for us and one of Barbara’s Friday tasks was to collect the fabric basket from ZigZags in Newport. She would have signed up for their class on how to make this

and is hoping to see what these eventually grow up to be

Our next stop is North Wales – have a good weekend!

More choices

Sometimes you just get on a roll before you know it – this is probably what happened to Chris last week with all her “finish it” progress, and it must be catching because yesterday Barbara found herself caught up in something similar starting with those dratted interesting little 4 patches from the previous post.  Apparently this project has morphed yet again since these pics were taken but just to give you an idea of the development –  auditioning extra borders to expand the original block, maybe setting 3 blocks into a line, maybe adding in smaller 4 patches to turn around the block ……..

4 patch next stage

4 patch settings

4 patch setting variation

Determined not to be outdone by Chris’s examplary finishes, Barbara also managed to stumble over just the right fabrics to move several things from the “begun” pile over to the “got borders on, what next?” pile.  OK, not absolutely finished, but moved on one more step, and sometimes that is good enough.  One piece of Oakshott worked beautifully alongside a hand-dyed first border to a small Hawaiian applique sample –

Oakshott & hand dyed

Hawaiian sample

Then the perfect batik length showed up to be auditioned for a border for these star blocks that have been hanging around for a couple of years or more –

early Christmas Stars

Another length of batik jumped out of the stash and announced that it would be suitable for borders for new stitched samples –

batik audition

So it’s been a busy holiday weekend, let’s hope we get even more progress this week!