Friday, 29 October 2010

Celebrity stalking and anyone for a swap?

We're back from our holiday! It was great apart from Sam taking a dislike to both the swimming pool and the sea saying 'I want to go home' whenever we put him in either (unfortunately there are not a lot of other recreational activities available in a hotel famed mainly for its swimming pools and nearby beach!!!) Oh dear. My faith in holidays has generally been restored though although I have to say that holidays with two under fives are not particularly relaxing. Anyway back to reality...

Those of you who read my blog will know that I am quite partial to a bit of celebrity stalking autograph hunting when the mood takes me (usually as a diversion to doing something useful or important with my time). There was my Phillip Schofield obsession and my quest for an Ant and Dec autograph (both for my mum's birthday I hasten to add). This time I was after a present for Jon's 40th. I wanted something a bit different and funny to give him. The poor man has to sit through Strictly Come Dancing each week and I often ask him which of the dancers he thinks is pretty. Its a great game. You should try it. You say 'do you think shes pretty?' to each one. They have to generally say 'yes' and then you say 'is she prettier than me? Sit back and watch them squirm!! Anyway Jon has always said that Flavia is his favourite and look at what arrived in the post today. What a result. Thanks Flavia (clearly much prettier AND younger than me!)

Talking of celebrity crushes. I haven't had one for a while. Must do something about that....

Anyway I love getting exciting things in the post so I was thinking maybe its time for another swap? How about a Christmas Decoration swap? You have to send one handmade Christmas decoration to your swap partner along with a Christmas Card and a chocolate item. Nice and quick and easy.

What do people think? Please leave a comment (along with your email address if you can't be contacted through your blog) and also your real name if you want to join in. Swap closes 7 November and items would need to be posted by 1 December.

Whos in??

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I need a bit of sunshine

Hopefully by the time you read this we will all be here....

Yes we are going on holiday to Tenerife to celebrate Jon's 40th. I'm in complete denial about the flight with 2 young children but I'm assured that it will all be fine! The last holiday we went on was a complete disaster. We went on a Eurocamp trip to the South of France for 3 weeks and it rained.....EVERY SINGLE DAY! Seriously. Torrential rain. It was horrible. I was pregnant with Sam so couldn't even drink to take away the misery of being stuck in a damp caravan with a toddler. I also kept fainting. The French were on strike (again) so we couldn't get the ferry we had booked on the way there and we had to pay extra to get the Eurostar. We ended up coming home early it was that bad. Jon had been given a 6 week sabbatical for long service with his company which enabled us to go for so long and I joked one day that when he got back his desk would have either been moved or have someone else sat at it. How we laughed. The day he went back to work he got made redundant!! It wasn't a great summer.....apart from Sam being born obviously!! Anyway the point is that this trip has much to live up to. It has to restore my faith in holidays. I've already sworn I am never going back to France such is the memory of that last holiday. I don't want to add Tenerife to the list!

Buying presents for men is really difficult. I wanted to buy this gorgeous picture for Jon but I just couldn't afford it. I'll make one I thought - its the thought that counts. Well this is my finished effort. I think its clear that I am no great artist. It looks a bit rubbish and I am in two minds whether I should actually admit to being involved in the making of it! Please check out the original to see how nice it should look!

The idea is that every heart is a special place that means something to Jon. He was born in Blackburn, met me in Bristol. Our first holiday together was to New York. We've had fab holidays in Hong Kong and Venice and Jon proposed in Rhossili in Wales. I was feeling rather clever and romantic at the concept stage until I explained it to my mum and she said well he might have proposed to you there but he never got round to marrying you did he? Nothing like your parents to burst your bubble eh. (She was joking though!).

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

On my Christmas list...

I've been searching online a lot recently recently trying to find presents for Jon's 40th Birthday. I ended up on 'Not on the High Street' and stumbled across a lovely shop called Sweet Dimple which I just had to share. They make the most gorgeous pieces of art, many of which can be personalised. I absolutely love this 'fruit' range and they are now on my Christmas list (hint hint!)

I've also fallen in love with this heart picture. Each one is unique and a 'one off''.

These two would make fantastic presents

Absolutely gorgeous!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Appreciating what you get

Jon is 40 in a weeks time so I figured that I needed a day out shopping to get him some presents (or at least thats what I told him!). The reality was I ended up fabric and clothes shopping. Check out this gorgeous fabric...

I also got a bit carried away buying bits for Christmas stockings. There are just such lovely things around for girls. I'm not usually this organised believe me but I couldn't resist these little lovelies...

A cute little retro tin for Izzy's growing button collection

Cute little cupcake hooks

Who could resist a Charlie and Lola hot water bottle??

This cute little wooden tree with little hooks will be perfect for all Izzy's necklaces and bracelets.

Couldn't resist a little fan for 2 quid!

and there was much oohing and aahing over these cute little lip glosses and the gorgeous tape measure.

I did buy some stuff for Sam too - honest! - its just that boys stuff isn't as cute. As I put it all away for Christmas, it really started me thinking how lucky I am to be able to buy things like this for my children and how fortunate they are to receive so much. I really struggle sometimes with the amount of things that they receive for birthdays and Christmas. I want them to appreciate what they are given and really look after their special toys but I'm not sure that they do in the same way that I did when I was young. We weren't poor by any means but there wasn't lots of spare money so Christmas and birthdays would mean one big present that you really really wanted (and often saved up and contributed towards). We would get lots of little stocking presents too but we really did appreciate the big special present. I think in past years Jon adn I have got a bit carried away and bought too much for Izzy and Sam meaning that special presents aren't that 'special' if that makes sense?? They get bored very quickly with things whereas we would play with things for years. What do you think? Do children get too much nowadays?

Izzy's school are doing the shoe box appeal this year I noticed so I've started filling a shoe box with presents to send off and next week I will talk to Izzy about it and what it means for the children who receive it.

If you would also like to take part in the shoebox appeal please look at this link to find out how you can get involved. There will usually be a collection point nearby. Also if you could display one of their banners on your blog that would be fab! We are also a birthday buddy to a little girl who lives an orphanage in South Africa through project primrose so again this will be a good opportunity to talk to Izzy about how other people live. Click here if you would like more info on being a birthday buddy.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Who are the 3 lucky winners??

Thanks for the fantastic response to my giveaway. I am really pleased that people were so interested in the book and feel very lucky to have lots of new followers now as well. Hopefully I am now following all your blogs too but if I have missed anyone please remind me and I will come and say hi! I LOVE discovering new blogs.

So without further ado with the help of my super dooper assistant Isabella  - the winners of the Needlecraft book are

 Cross the Pond


Emma Thomsen

Congratulations to the winners. I hope you like the book! If you email me your addresses I will pass them onto the lovely publishing people at DK who will then send you a copy of the book. If you are inspired to make something then please let me know so I can feature it here!

I was amazed by the amount of people who said they wanted to learn to crochet. I'm the same - its just one of those things that people seem to want to have a go at. For those of you that do already crochet or know someone who does, check out these gorgeous crochet hook rolls from egiraffe's shop on Folky.

They are absolutely gorgeous. Cath shared a stall with me at the Kite Festival and makes the most beautiful items from gorgeous fabrics. We talked about fabric during the day...A LOT!! I popped in to see Cath recently and she gave me a couple of gorgeous sewing charms I had noticed on her blog. She has now made some into lovely necklaces. Brilliant Christmas idea for any crafty friends.

Izzy and I had a bit of a crafty day today. She got a great decorate your own t shirt kit for her birthday so we decided to give it a go and Izzy came up with a great design.

I find it so hard not to interfere when making stuff with Izzy and I have to try really hard not to take over. She got a bit bored after a while and then spent 2 hours making 'silly soup'. This is basically involves filling her little wheelbarrow with water then adding mud, grass, berries, flowers and anything else she can find in the garden to make a thick soup like mixture.

I love watching this kind of play. Its so imaginative and a reminder that children really don't need expensive toys to enjoy or entertain themselves. Making silly soup has kept Izzy and Sam entertained for hours over the last week.

Finally a blogging etiquette query. Several people have asked me questions when leaving comments to posts recently. I'm never sure whether I should post the reply in the comments section as well or email them directly or leave a comment on their blog? What do other people do?

Friday, 8 October 2010

One for the husbands and boyfriends

Laura is one of my lovely friends. Her husband Mike recently had a very frightening cancer scare. He was VERY lucky because he found the lump early and did something about it. He decided to write about his experience to raise awareness on some motoring websites. I thought that it would be good to share Mike's story here too. Men are typically not great at talking about things or going to the doctor so please share this with your other halves. It may just save their life!

Testicular Cancer - My Story
by Mike Shields

This story contains some very detailed personal information about my experience

I’m telling my story as I want you to be aware of what I’ve been through over the last few months. I’m not doing it for sympathy I just want to make you aware of just how important it is to check yourself. Until now I’ve not really done it myself. It was just by chance I noticed a lump!

It doesn’t take much to check yourself once a month and ladies get your men to check themselves.

Please take the time and if you find anything you’re not sure about please see your doctor as soon as possible. It’s quite an embarrassing thing to talk about but please don’t let this stop you.

Unfortunately there's no way of stopping yourself from getting testicular cancer but...
Testicular Cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer,
with cure rates approaching 100% if detected early. Get it sorted!!!

Tuesday 8th June 2010
Just laying on the bed mid afternoon relaxing on our summer holiday in Majorca and for some reason I touched my right testicle and noticed a bit of a lump... Oh shit what can I do? I’m miles away from home.

I mentioned it to my wife and decided to get it seen to as soon as we got back to Bristol.

Saturday 20th June 2010
Having been back for a day my 4 year old daughter is in hospital with breathing problems so my problem goes on hold for a while.

Saturday 3rd July 2010
Sitting in the park having a picnic. I stand up and suddenly it feels as if someone has kicked me as hard as they could in the groin. This reminds me I need to get it sorted!

Thursday 8th July 2010
See a male doctor and discuss the issue. Don’t feel comfortable talking to my usual female doctor at this stage. He tells me I need to have an Ultrasound scan.

Monday 19th July 2010
Didn’t really think it would be that big a deal so went on my own. Arrive 20 minutes early for the appointment and taken straight in for the scan. Exactly the same set up as when my wife had scans for our children so all felt relaxed at first. He scan my right testicle (with the lump) and then checked the other. Then he scanned me on my lower abdomen which I thought was a little strange. Now having had the Op it makes sense... that’s where they made the incision!

5 minutes later he told me the results should be with my doctor within half an hour but wouldn’t say anymore than that. As soon as I left the hospital I called my doctors to try and find out the result.
I was due at work straight after the appointment but just couldn't go in. Instead I went and sat in a park overlooking Bristol for 4 hours with all sorts of things going through my head!!

Finally got a call back from my doctor later that evening but only to say they didn’t have the results back yet. Sleepless night ahead!

Tuesday 20th July 2010
Gone to work today. Needed to try and carry on as normal.
Had a call from my doctor secretary, again late evening saying she had been called out on an emergency and would call me the next day. No news is good news? Another sleepless night.
Wednesday 21st July 2010
Mid morning, at work... finally the call I was waiting for from my doctor. “It’s not the news we wanted I’m afraid” she said. “I’m afraid we’ll need to remove the testicle/lump” She continued with other medical information but it didn’t really sink in.

Called my wife and told her that old saying “No news is good news” on this occasion was… bollocks!

Thursday 22nd July 2010
Had to call my doctor back today and ask her to confirm the diagnosis. “Are you saying I have Testicular Cancer” I asked. “Yes, I’m afraid it looks that way” she said.

At least I know where I am now.

Monday 26th July 2010
Appointment to see Urology specialist. My wife came with me this time as things all seemed a little more serious now. Sitting in the waiting room looking at all the other patients thinking why am I here. Everyone else was so much older than me, although that shouldn’t make a difference. Suddenly panicked thinking I wasn’t going to find out the information I needed. Was it really cancer?

The doctor examined me and confirmed I would need to have the affected testicle removed and I would need to have a CT scan. They can only test for cancer once it has been removed. Something to do with a higher risk of spread if a biopsy is done in situ. Depending on all the results I may need further treatment... Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy and or Monitoring.

He asked if I wanted a prosthetic put in and my immediate reaction was “No thanks. I don’t want anything in me that could go wrong in the future”

I was introduced to a couple of cancer specialists. Had a blood test while they tried to make an appointment for the operation but that department had closed as it was getting late in the day.

Tuesday 27th July 2010
Back at work again and got a call from the cancer specialist giving me a date for the Op... Tuesday 3rd August (next week!!)

Wednesday 28th July 2010
Got a call at 10am asking if I could be at the hospital for 10.30 to have a CT scan. It was a little tight so went in for 12noon instead. Sat in the waiting room with a container of yellow liquid to drink over the next hour. This is when things started to hit home, seeing all the patients in the Oncology Department. This really sweet lady with no hair, I guess from having chemotherapy, said “I bet a drop of gin would help that go down” How right she was!
Then they called me in. It was all rather overwhelming. Took all the metal objects from my pocket and led on the scanner. Had more dye injected into my arm... very strange sensation in my groin area with this. Done, you can go now… so back to work.

Thursday 29th July 2010
Pre-Op today just to check everything is OK to have the Op on Tuesday.

Tuesday 3rd August 2010
The big day, day of the Ochidectomy operation.

Arrived at the hospital just before 12noon. Lots of waiting round today and nothing to eat or drink since 9pm last night.

Last few questions with a nurse then a chat with the surgeon and anaesthetist, who turned out to be one of my customers… small world. Made me feel a little more reassured though.

Finally I was called in at around 4.30 for the Op… last patient of the day. Walked in to the operating theatre, which was a very strange experience. Led on the operating table and then they started hooking me up to things. An injection in the back of my hand and…. The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery area and being asked if I was OK? “a little sore I replied” I was then moved to the recovery ward for a few hours before doing a wee and going home. This is where is all started to go wrong!!! I just couldn’t wee. It was just before 9pm and I was the second to last patient there when the nurse said “OK, you look like a sensible person so go home and if you have any problems call us, your doctor or an ambulance”

Finally in the early hours of the morning I managed a wee.

Wednesday 4th August 2010
Mid morning. Got up to have a wee and felt quite sick. Whilst having a wee I retched and coughed. This ripped at my stitches and hurt like hell!! From that point on couldn’t wee again.

This was also the first time I looked at myself with just one testicle and surprisingly it doesn’t look as odd as I thought it would. It certainly doesn’t feel any different apart from the bruising and now have a 4 inch scar on my lower abdomen.

Thursday 5th August 2010
After a very sleepless night and unable to wee my wife called the doctors who arranged an ambulance to take me in. This completely freaked out my 4 year old daughter when 3 paramedics turned up. I could hear her shouting “Don’t take my daddy” she soon settled down and off I went.

Arrived at the hospital around 9am, was put in the waiting room and would still be there today if I hadn’t called for some help. Suddenly felt very sick, hot and started sweating. At that point someone walked passed so I got their attention and was seen to. Explained all to a nurse who then put in a catheter (not very nice!) I was then left for a couple of hours before a Junior doctor came round and did a full examination. Then back in to the waiting room for another couple of hours, with a bag full of wee just sitting on the floor (not very dignified)

My wife arrived around midday once she had sorted childcare out only to find me sitting totally dejected in the waiting room. She wasn’t best pleased. After making a lot of fuss she got a nurse to come and remove the catheter (again, not very nice!) Was told to drink lots of water over a couple of hours and to try having a wee myself and… nothing.
I was seen again late afternoon by the same junior doctor. The look on her face when she realised it was me again was unbelievable! (a look of not you again!) My wife said we’ve been here since 9am and her response was “If it’s any consolation I’ve been here since 8am without a break” well you can guess our response to that!
Eventually a senior doctor came to see me and said to put the catheter back in and to admit me to a ward. So back in went the catheter (still not very nice!) Drained almost 1 litre of wee… that’s a lot!! At this point I had totally given up. Nothing I could do or say would make any difference to the speed at which I was seen so I just sat staring at the wall in to the waiting room until a bed become available. This scared my wife as she had never seen me like this before. It was the lowest I have ever felt in my life!!!

Finally I was given a bed at 11pm.

Friday 6th August 2010
Woken up at 6.30am “do you want any cereals” Funnily enough I didn’t thanks!

My consultant came round at 8.30 He said this sometimes happens after an operation in the abdominal area due to the anaesthetic but could be an underlying problem brought on by the operation. Great something else for me to worry about!
The options were… firstly go home with the catheter and some tablets to get me weeing again, however it could be 2 weeks before an appointment to have the catheter removed. Secondly have the tablets and stay in hospital until Sunday. I went for option two!

I was moved to another ward at this point, which was a huge relief as the first one was horrendous! The bag was eventually changed for a tap which was much more discreet.

Saturday 7th August 2010
Woke up very tired today having had a crap night due to the nurses chatting, opening cans of drink and packets of crisps most of the night.

My wife, two daughters and mother-in-law came to see me this morning. It was great to reassure my 4 year old that all was OK and I’d be home as soon as possible. Also my dad come down from London today. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since telling him I have cancer. He’s also bringing our very good friend who’s visiting from Hong Kong so that’s something to be happy about.

The tablets are working. Just been to take a wee and things are starting to work normally again. This happen the next few times and now it’s getting painful weeing with the catheter in so ask for it to be taken out early. I’m told if I can wee three times in the next few hours I can go home tonight. I’m on for that challenge.

9pm arrive back home in my dad’s Rolls Royce… much more civilised than an ambulance!

Monday 9th August 2010
Going to take it very easy at home this week. Still feel bruised and rather delicate down below. This should only last another week or two… joy!! The scar is healing nicely now though.

I’m also very surprised at how awake I feel. I’ve been so tired over the last few weeks, even before the diagnosis falling asleep around 9pm and on some days having to drag myself out of bed in the mornings. Now that the lump has gone I feel so much more energised. Don’t know if that’s just psychological or just the affect the tumour had on my body.

Monday 16th August 2010
Back at work this week but doing half days. Again still feel bruised and rather delicate down below.

Thursday 19th August 2010
Feeling a lot better today. Off work now until Monday. Getting in the right frame of mind for the appointment tomorrow.

Friday 20th August 2010
Today is the second big day... Results Day! Thinking about it, probably bigger than the Op itself. I find out from the CT scan and biopsy if the cancer has spread to other areas or has it all been removed.

Off to Bude in Cornwall after the appointment for a well earned break for the whole family. A good time to either celebrate good news or think about any treatment to come.

Had my first tumour marker blood test done and it's 5 today, compared to 46 prior to the Op.
So this is the outcome…

"Histology is reported as showing a malignant teratoma with embryonal carcinoma. The tumour measured 2cm in maximum diameter. There was no evidence of vascular invasion and pathologically was staged as pT1

A staging CT scan has been reviewed by the MDT (Multi Disciplinary Team) and there is no definite evidence of metastasis.

Pre-operative tumour markers showed an AFP (Alpha Feta Protein) of 46 and HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) of 25

Providing the tumour markers are normal this is a low risk stage 1 teratoma. We have recommended that he go onto "Active Surveillance" which will require monthly outpatient appointments during the first year with repeat CT scan at 3 and 12 months. He will continue on follow up for at least the next 5 years.

The risk of recurrence is around 10-15% He is aware that if the cancer did recur he would require a course of curative chemotherapy using Bleomycin, Etoposide and Cisplatin"

So what does this all mean…
Basically I don't have cancer anymore!  No spread!  No treatment!  Just close monitoring...

1st year - every month
2nd year - every 2 months
3rd year - every 3 months
4th year - every 6 months
5th year - 1 visit

CT Scan at 3 and 12 months.

If the cancer was to return it's more likely to in the first 12-18 months which is why the monitoring is so intense at the beginning.

I'm one of the very lucky ones!!

Wednesday 1st September 2010
Been called in to the Oncology Centre today for a blood test to check testosterone levels and tumour markers. Tumour markers are normal now and testosterone on the way back up. So things are looking good.

Saturday 4th September 2010
Received a letter today from the hospital detailing all they have found. This is the first time it's all really started to hit home...  seeing it all written down in black and white!!

Friday 10th September 2010
My first monthly "Active Surveillance" today.

Had a good chat with the doctors and Sue Brand, Specialist Nurse (and new best friend)
A good chance to ask those questions I've thought of since my results day...

How long have I had it?
but they couldn't be sure. However they believe it was found very early.

Could I see the ultrasound images?
which they were very happy to show me.

Should I still feel occasional pain/discomfort? 
which the answer was yes.

Can I start playing Squash again? 
another week or two taking up running again to ease back in to keeping fit.

The scar is not healing as well as I'd like at the bottom end but I'm told it OK and this is normal. That's where most of the stretching goes on.

Other than that all is looking OK. No X-ray today just a blood test.

Signed up for the Research program... anything I can do to help others in a similar position.
Been for some Reiki this afternoon... Wow how relaxing!!
This illness has really opened my eyes as to just how lucky I am and to appreciate everything I have in life!

Saturday 11th September 2010
Booked in to a very nice hotel in Bristol with my wife for the night. The girls are having fun staying with their cousins.
A very welcome and relaxing end to what has been the worst few months of our lives!!!!!!

Onwards and upwards from here on in.............

Below are some sites I found very useful giving advice and general information on Testicular Cancer
Cancer Research UK
McMillan Cancer
NHS Cancer Information
Everyman Campaign
Orchid Cancer
TC Cancer
Check Em Lads
Live Strong
One Lump or Two
It's In the Bag

I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone for all their support for both myself and my family.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Crisis of confidence

Thanks for the fantastic response to my giveaway. I'm really excited and will choose the winners at the week-end with my trusty assistant Isabella.

Its been a bit of a funny week. I've had a sickness bug which wiped me out for a few days. Typically I got an order for 2 personalised aprons just as I started feeling ill. I've finished one of them but very annoyingly just as I was about to sew the name on the second one I noticed a mark on the fabric. I thought it was a crease initially but after much pressing its still there and is an actual mark on the fabric which just looks like a crease. Arghhhhhhhhhhhh!! So annoying. I've had a real crisis of confidence about my aprons too. I'm fine if people see my things at craft fairs and pick them up and then want to buy them but if people ask me to make something especially for them I really panic and then have a real crisis of confidence when I have made it. I've got to take this to a play group tomorrow for a friend. Shes only seen my aprons in photographs. I know she'll be polite and say she likes it but whats if she doesn't really?? Anyone else ever feel like this??

Friday, 1 October 2010

Its giveaway time!

I recently jumped at the chance to review a new book called 'The Needlecraft Book'. I absolutely love books and I love sewing so it seemed like an opportunity I just couldn't turn down and even better I was very kindly offered 3 copies to give away on my blog!! Big high five to the nice people at DK.

So where to start....well this is one of those BIG hardback books that look great on your bookshelf. The book is split into sections which cover knitting, crochet, quilting, embroidery, applique and needlepoint. I thought I'd go through each section in turn to give you a sense of whats covered and my thoughts.

I was taught to knit by my nan (many years ago!) and so have a very basic understanding of what to do but I always struggle with reading knitting patterns and anything remotely technical. This book is great for new knitters or someone like me who needs to reintroduce themselves to the basics as it covers everything from needle size and yarn weight to different stitches and knitting techniques. What I love best though are the photos. I really struggle with diagrams and drawings in craft books (my brain just can't work them out) but I found the photos in this book so MUCH easier to follow.

There is a great selection of different stitch pattens and designs and the chapter also covers circular knitting and felting. There is also a really useful section on following a knitting pattern which I will definitely be referring to in the future. I particularly love the little knitted flower patterns which are really cute.

I've never tried crochet before but always wanted to give it a go so I was really interested in this chapter. Again it covers in a very clear way all the basic equipment you need and has really useful photos showing the stitches and how to work them. It explains about following crochet patterns and covers openwork, colourwork, embellishments, edging and circular crochet.

I've just bought myself a crochet hook as I'm keen to give crochet a try. I'm not sure I'm quite up to making this gorgeous little dog though yet. I'll post some pictures of my attempts to crochet when I get round to starting.

I learnt the basics of embroidery when I was younger from my mum who also sews but I'm very rusty as I don't really use it very often now. This chapter has a great stitch gallery of different stitches which has inspired me to try some new ones. The chapter covers surface embroidery but also other types that I wasn't really aware of like pulled thread work and drawn thread work. It also covers smocking, beadwork and mirror work.

If I'm honest this initially felt like quite an old fashioned method of sewing and not the type of thing I would do but it was actually quite interesting finding out more about it. Again there is a gallery of stitches and how to do them. I particlarly liked what is called Florentine work which originates from Italy. The picture below is the Pomegranate motif which has a kind of 3D effect (not sure its obvious from my dreadful photos!).

Patchwork, Applique and Quilting
I guess these are things that I am most familiar with although I haven't done a great deal of patchwork or quilting really. What I have learnt from this book is that when you are self taught it is easy to only do things one way and a bit of a revelation to realise that there are often many different methods and techniques you can use and more importantly shortcuts to doing things.

There is a huge amount in this chapter on piecing patchwork together and different designs and methods including working with curves and doing folded patchwork. There is also a patchwork block gallery (diagrams rather than photos this time). This would be a very useful guide for anyone planning their first quilt who needs some basic techniques and design ideas.

I do like a bit of applique but as a fusible bonding web kinda girl I was really surprised to learn about all the other types of applique techniques that are out there and are featured like needle turned applique, freezer paper applique, reverse hand applique etc etc. I had no idea there were so many methods. You learn something new every day! 

The book finishes with some quilting techniques - transferring designs, assembling layers etc and also finishing techniques such as binding, cording and piping and embellishments.

Phew! I hope I have given you a flavour of the book. Its a really lovely book that I think I will refer back to time and time again. It is packed full of useful information and would be perfect for a beginner or someone who dabbles in different crafts or who is self taught and wants to learn more.  I can see me using this book to teach Izzy some of the basics of each craft when she is a bit older. My only criticism would be that parts of the book feel slightly 'old school'. If you want a book full of contemporary projects to make using fresh modern fabrics this is probably not for you but having said that its a very practical book that would give you the skills you need to enable you to make those projects and it would give you the confidence to follow other patterns or try out your own ideas.

So do you want to win a copy of this book? I've got 3 to give away. All you have to do is be a follower of my blog if you aren't already and leave a comment saying what you would do with the book if you won.

If you blog about my giveaway with a link I'll put your name in the hat twice and if you mention it on twitter I'll put you in again. Just let me know on this post. The giveaway ends on Friday 8 October and 3 names will be pulled out of the hat in the usual scientific way (i.e by my children).

Good luck!