knitting · Lifestyle · sewing

Starting Over

It’s been a funny old week.

Of course it goes without saying that with the end of term only four days away (whoop whoop!), the enormous job of writing and collating end of term reports is taking up much of my time.

I am still waiting for the delivery of navy fabric and so I can’t start on my “Catch a Falling Star” quilt.

I have finally cracked the pattern on the “Debbie Bliss Aran Tunic Dress” and now I don’t even need to look at the instructions. The back is finished and I am ploughing full steam ahead with the front.

Back finished and now I’ve started on the front.

Everything looks normal on the surface but underneath there is movement, a shift, a change. There is sadness and happiness at the same time. Is that even possible?

The cause of this shift is the fact that my youngest son Max, is leaving home. Just like Dick Whittington he is off to London to search for gold. Well not literally! It’s not that I am surprised by the news as I helped him tweak his CV and encouraged, dare I say pushed him into applying for work in the U.K.

Max, my youngest son.

You see the future for a young man in Zimbabwe is questionable. The opportunities in the U.K. for a well mannered, nicely turned out, intelligent young man who speaks and writes English fluently and has a British passport are far more encouraging. So I am sad that now both of my boys are living overseas, but at the same time I am happy that regardless of Brexit, they are still living in a land of opportunity.

Needless to say I needed to do something to take my mind off of his departure. So I decided to tackle a bit of foundation paper piecing that I had tried once before.

Happy Fall by Sugaridoo

It was actually the first pattern that I downloaded and I must be honest, the first time round I was completely baffled. I found it on Sew Mama Sew and it was designed by Sugaridoo. This time it has been a lot better as I have managed to make some of the blocks, however it is still a very challenging pattern.

Here are the blocks I have made so far:

Clouds ahead!
Umbrellas at the ready!
Umbrellas open!

Debbie Bliss Tunic Dress-A WIP

You may recall that I bought a whole bagful of delicious Merino wool on my recent trip to The Netherlands.



I have been excited about getting started on a Debbie Bliss Aran Tunic Dress pattern that I bought online. In the 1980’s I was the queen of cable and bobbles and I had a number of cardigans and jumpers to prove the fact. Unfortunately or perhaps thankfully, no photographic evidence remains. So although more recently I have knitted some quite straightforward garments (perhaps with the exception of the green flower cardigan), I didn’t feel that this Tunic would be too much of a challenge. How wrong can you be?

The pattern is made up of five different blocks over twenty rows, and as I had downloaded the pattern to my iPad it was brain boggling flicking from one page to the next to knit just one row.

Forget basic ribbing, this top starts of with a bang and I undid the rows at least three times!

Forget ribbing this is how the Debbie Bliss Aran Tunic Dress begins.


Then came the body of the Tunic. This was not for the faint hearted. There were two sections on the pattern that I just couldn’t get on with. I knew from looking at the Tunic that I had done one of the patterns incorrectly and that just irritated me. So I decided that I needed to change them. Bring out the old faithful.

Old faithful.


I’ve used this book before to change a pattern and I found a cable block which was the same number of stitches and seemed a whole lot easier. Off I went again with the amended pattern. I also photocopied the pattern and found that better (sometimes technology loses). I knitted about twelve rows and then realized I had omitted two cables. Ahhh! I was ready to throw in the towel!

But not quite. I undid the Tunic down to the ribbing equivalent made myself a cup of tea and started again.

Work in progress.

At last it’s going quite well and I have now done twenty two rows. I am almost at the stage where I don’t need the pattern but not quite yet. It takes ninety rows to make the back so I’m sure I’ll know it by then!








Light at the end of the tunnel .

In a life full of work, quilting, friends and blogging, sometimes, something has to give, and with me last week it was the blog!

The last ten days have been so busy, involving among other things, taking students for athletics training every day in preparation for the annual Interhouse Athletics. This took place last Saturday, in a particularly rainy, rainy season and under a particularly threatening sky. That was a full day, that left me totally drained and fit for nothing. However the thought of an entire Sunday in front of me, with a quilting project in mind, and a weeks worth of BBC Radio 4’s The Archers and Women’s Hour to listen to, soon brought me back to life. I wanted to start something that was (in my opinion) manageable. I also wanted it to be something that I could possibly enter for the Zimbabwe Patchwork and Quilting Show later on this year. I have two quilts that I would like to enter so I thought I had better get started.

Despite all the information available online through Pinterest, Instagram etc I have, this year taken the plunge and decided to subscribe to a couple of Quilting magazines. After some careful research I chose ” ❤️ Patchwork and Quilting” which is a U.K. magazine and “Make Modern Magazine“an Australian publication. Although they cover the same subject, they are both different in their own way.

One of the things I love about “Make Modern Magazine” is that they treat their subscribers so well, giving us free patterns and early releases of patterns prior to the magazine publication. That is what happened this month when they released “Catch a Falling Star” a foundation paper pieced 10″ x 10″design by one of my favourite designers Kristy Lea.


As soon as I saw the pattern I wanted to make it. Why? Well it involves a lot of choosing fabrics and I have had to get “very up close and personal” with my stash which is something I love doing, and then it involves paper piecing, another love, so it really wasn’t a difficult decision to make.

I decided to set myself the challenge of making one block a day and posting it on Instagram IG name Rimazimchick (I think it’s called self motivation!). The original pattern is made up as a mini quilt but I am going to make a bigger version, although I haven’t yet decided on the size.

Block 1 – Shades of teal/ grey
Block 2 -Shades of beige that I particularly like because my sister gave me some of the fabric that I used.
Block 3-Shades of Lime
Block 4-Shades of Olive
Block 5 – Shades of Petrol Blue

Then I had to take into consideration that having set myself this target, I had another very busy week ahead with a friends boozy birthday lunch, and a Model United Nations Conference taking up the best part of the week and the whole of this weekend (I am actually writing this while listening to 100+ students debating an emergency pandemic situation).

With this in mind and once I had recovered my sewjo I set to work on Sunday making a number of blocks so that I had some in reserve. In between times I also had to rustle up a nappy cake for a colleagues baby shower last Friday.

Nappy cake for Chipo

Then on Friday evening I thought I had better make a few more blocks to cover myself over this weekend as Saturday night we were due to finish at 8.00pm so I really wasn’t keen to start sewing once I got home. I also got an order for another nappy cake so sorted that as well.

Another nappy cake for my friend Kim’s sister in law.
Block 6-Shades of Orange
Block 7-Shades of Turquoise
Block 8-Shades of Dark Navy
Block 9-Shades of Royal/Bright Navy Blue

Now today as the Conference is drawing to a close, I know I have to get home and try and make a few more blocks in preparation for the coming week.

But as our Head told us last week, we only have two and a half weeks left until the end of term, there is light at the end of the tunnel. She forgot to mention the nearly 200 report comments that I need to write and the 120+ reports that I have to check before then!

But there is something about making a quilt that fires me up, it is my Kryptonite and I seem to find the energy for it even at times when I can’t face doing other things.




My Top Ten Favourites from Quiltcon 2017

There was a lot of activity in Savannah, Georgia from 23rd-26th February with the annual Quiltcon exhibition taking place. There were some spectacular exhibits and you can see them all on the Modern Quilt Guild page but I thought I would give you my top ten.  Truth be told it was difficult just to chose ten. In no particular order but I am saving the best till last.



Not Easy Being Green
Pieced and quilted by Mary Keasler
Chattanooga, TN, United States
Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild
40 x 54 inches
Use of Negative Space

“I decided to use bits of my leftover hand dyed fabrics and make small 4 patch blocks, not knowing what I would do with them. I decided to add strips in a log cabin effect. Still not sure of what I would do with them, I added the white fabric for negative space, then used a quilting design similar to the quilt blocks to complete the piece.”


9) APPLIQUÉ: 1st Place

Inside Out

Pieced and quilted by Susan Bleiweiss
Pepperell, MA, United States
Individual MQG Member
61 x 54 inches

“Original design, fused raw edge applique, cotton fabric and thread, machine quilted.”



Pieced by Aida Gates
Pieced with Aida’s grandmother Judy Moyer
Quilted by Laura Simmons of Pieceful Quilts
Binding by Aida’s mother, Julie Moyer
Parker, Colorado, United States
Individual MQG Member
52.5 x 52.5 inches

“My favorite part about this quilt is the explosion of color. The colors were chosen because my favorite color is orange, and blue contrasts really well with it. I like the story this quilt tells and that you can see movement throughout the pattern. This is by far my favorite quilt out of any I have made and I am excited to make many more like it.”



Finding The One
Pieced and quilted by Miriam Coffey
Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, United States
Asheville Modern Quilt Guild
39 x 48 inches

“This quilt is inspired by the notion of human companionship. I am interested in, how as humans we are always seeking the one to be our pair.”



Pieced and quilted by Elaine Poplin
Huntsville, Alabama, United States
Individual MQG Member
56 x 56 inches

“Dared by a friend, I reconstructed the 2002 Pinna illusion and made a quilt of it. Foundation paper pieced, hand-appliqued, and free-motion quilted. Permission to show the quilt graciously granted by Biangio Pinna, the original designer of the illusion.”




Direction Optional
Pieced by Stephanie Ruyle, Leanne Chahley, Karen Foster, Hillary Goodwin, Marci Debetaz, MR Charbonneau, Felicity Ronaghan, Debbie Jeske, Anne Sullivan, Kari Vojtechovsky
Quilted by Christine Perrigo
Denver, CO, United States
Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild
76 x 76 inches

“#Beesewcial January 2016 prompt: “Linear” using a palette of off whites, yellows, grays with pops of red/pink/orange. The prompt centered around the use of line as an element; whether curved or straight was up to the maker. The rich tapestry of shapes made this an amazing quilt to assemble.”



Pieced and quilted by Jeannie Jenkins
Willowdale, Ontario, Canada
Toronto Modern Quilt Guild
50 x 76 inches

“This quilt is the third and final in a series that I designed on EQ7 after quitting my day job. Not sure if I did the right thing, I filled my days with designing quilts and proceeded to piece and quilt them. Looking back, it was the best thing I ever did, and the only regret is I should have done it sooner!”



Pieced and quilted by Jess Frost
Mount Stuart, Tasmania, Australia
Tasmanian Modern Quilt Guild
65 x 68 inches

“Scattered is improvisationally pieced, and all cutting was done with a rotary cutter without the use of a ruler. As a result, all the lines through the quilt are quite organic. The dense free motion quilting is also intentionally organic, and features a variety of grids with pockets of curved designs. Big stitch hand quilting has been added in some areas to add another level of texture.”



Organic Mid-Century Mod
Pieced and quilted by Laura Bennett, Jessie Aller, Neva Asinari, Ashley Bander, Tracy Baird, Ruth Bass, Laura Bennett, Nicole Folino, Michelle Kochan, Jessica Levitt, Janet Schoenfeld, Robin Tillsworth, Colleen Wiest
Princeton, NJ, United States
Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild
60 x 60 inches

“This quilt was a progressive quilt at the Mid-Atlantic Mod quilting retreat. Jessica Levitt set the theme (Organic Mid-Century Modern) and color scheme, and a dozen quilters each prepared blocks. At the retreat, we worked together to develop these blocks into a cohesive quilt top, making the full design of this quilt top a truly collaborative effort. I then designed and constructed the quilt back, and quilted and bound the quilt.”



Pieced and quilted by Katherine Jones
Chigwell, Tasmania, Australia
Tasmanian Modern Quilt Guild
98 x 98 inches

“Foundation paper pieced from solid fabrics the inspiration for this quilt was a princess cut diamond.”

I love foundation paper piecing, but this quilt is almost incomprehensible, 98″ x 98″ what an amazing vision it looks just like a diamond.

No sewing for me this week except for play costumes. I am trying to make three wigs as well, which is not enjoyable. Will report back next week!





“Everyone Needs Deadlines- Walt Disney

Another week passes in the blink of an eye, and I like to think that I have used my time effectively. I work long hours and with the run up to the Interhouse Athletics Meet, this is not going to change before March 11th. So I get very little time in the evenings and then try and have a sewfest on the weekend.

I spent last Sunday cutting out clamshell shapes to make a quilt for a work colleague, Chipo, she is expecting her third child. The pattern I was using was for a mini quilt and so I cut more shapes than suggested as I wanted to make a crib size quilt. The cutting and pressing involved in a clamshell quilt is significant and I had a really stiff neck by last Sunday night. I was therefore a little despondent when I laid the quilt out to see that I really need to cut out the same amount of shapes again. My neck couldn’t take it! Then when I saw Chipo on Wednesday she told me she would be leaving for maternity leave two weeks earlier than I had anticipated. I had been hoping for more time to sort the pattern out, as it is the first time I have done the Clamshell Quilt.

Add to this the fact that it is School Play time again, and I am required to make some costumes. I knew something had to give, the deadlines were creeping up on me and I had to respond. But what to do?

I don’t know about you, but I work much more productively, when I have a deadline to work too.

I decided to make a different, simpler quilt for Chipo. Late last year I made some of the “1 Hour Baskets” designed by Kelly Bowser from Hearts and Bees, and with the pattern available for free on Craftsy. I took some into work and sold them and Chipo wanted me to make one for her. With her impending delivery I decided to make one to match her quilt and fill it with baby goodies.

At last years Black Friday sale, I bought some cute Jelly Bean fabric from Connecting Threads. As this had so many colours in it I decided to make this the basis for the quilt.

My fabric selection for the quilt which used 9 x 9 4 1/2″ squares.
I thought it looked pretty, the turquoise blue really pops.
Blocks stitched together ready for basting.
Beautifully bright colours to cheer a gloomy day.
I decided to make the “1 Hour Basket” using the same patchwork as the quilt.
I spray basted batting to the reverse of the fabric and then quilted it.
Having stitched along the two short sides and the bottom of the outside fabric, you need to cut a 3″ square out of the two bottom corners.
Like this. Notice that in the green lining I have left a gap so that the basket can be turned right sides out when finished.
Match the seams and sew 1/4″ from the edge. This will give a box like shape.
Here’s the basket before lining. Notice I have pinned the handles in place.
Right sides together stitch along the top seam and then pull everything through the gap in the green lining.
Here’s the finished basket full of goodies.

So in just two days I have managed to finish Chipo’s gift plus I have started on the play costumes.

Now I think I’ve been busy, but I’m not alone. My good friend and fellow quilter Ala had a huge challenge this week. She wanted to make a quilt as a wedding gift for a friend of her daughter’s who lives in Australia. The wedding is on April 15th so plenty of time right? Wrong, someone was flying to Australia on Saturday night and had volunteered to take it, and so Ala had to knuckle down and get on with it. In only seven days she produced the most beautiful quilt. Complete with a lovely label.

Ala shows off her beautiful quilt. What a lovely gift!
Even the label is spectacular.

So give me a deadline and I will try to meet it one way or the other. As they say here in Zimbabwe “We’ll make a plan”.


My First Mystery Quilt, not perfect, but finished!

One of my challenges for early 2017 was taking part in the Mitzie Schafer Mystery Sew Along . Mitzie is the designer behind Together Feather Studio and this was her first hosted Mystery Sew Along. I first came across Mitzie on Instagram, which if you are a quilter or any other sort of creative, and have not yet hooked up, then you have no idea what you’re missing out on, as it gives you the opportunity to connect with so many like minded people.

Mitzie announced the Mystery Sew Along towards the end of last year, with the first block being released on 14th January 2017. I was a bit nervous because I knew that with Form One Camp and my trip to The Netherlands I would be restricting the amount of time I had to work with. But I decided to live dangerously!

The fabrics that I bought in the U.K. at Christmas. What you don’t see in this photo is that the green is an ombré fabric, and what looks like plain navy is actually a purplish fabric.

I was able to do the first block before I went away to camp and was really pleased with it.

Week one’s block.

In between camp and my Netherlands trip, I squeezed in the next block.

Week two’s block.

I should add, that at the same time as doing this, I was making a mini quilt for one of my very creative, and dear friend, Mary Lou for her February birthday.

Mary Lou’s mini quilt. A design by Kristy Lea @Quietplay

When I returned from my trip I had some serious catching up to do. I was also feeling nervous about how the finished quilt was going to look. It is a serious thing to be giving up your time to make a quilt, not knowing if you will actually like the finished article. Anyway, I got block three and four done and then when I lined them all up I found that they were different sizes.

This is such a basic error. It always says check that your photocopy is set to 100% and I had assumed on the first two blocks that it was, obviously it wasn’t! So, I ended up having to remake blocks one and two. The only advantage of this was that by then I knew what the layout would look like and I decided to take the opportunity to change the colour of one of the blocks. Can you spot which one?

Top done, now just to baste and quilt.
How cute is this label? I will fold it in half and sew it into the binding of the quilt.

So the the quilt didn’t take too long to piece and baste. I then made the fatal decision to indulge my love of straight line quilting.

Wrong move?

Look its all subjective. Straight-line quilting can rarely be a wrong move, but its the ends that are the killer. I realise that I could have just cut off at the end of a line, but then what if it started to unravel, all my hard work would be for nothing.

I straight lined down the sides.
Then diagonally across the coloured blocks and centre panels.

Of course, I was wrong to sew the edges first, again another basic error, as it led to some minor puckering in the finished quilt.

Check out the threads on the front of  the quilt.
The back is no better and all these ends have to be threaded into the quilt.
After hours, and I mean hours, of tidying up the threads, the back looks almost as lovely as the front.
The finished quilt, not perfect, but finished.

So my first jaunt into the world of mystery sew alongs is over, and I am really pleased with the result, but I do think I now need to try a bit of free motion quilting. If only so I don’t have to tie up so many loose ends!