Tag Archives: julz spinning & weaving blog

SHOW & TELL: Lori’s Favourite Quilt


Image 13 - Version 2

Lori is not a professional quilter – she says – “I have never sold or exhibited a quilt, but I have given quite a few away.”

This is Lori’s Favourite Quilt – Its not her “best one”, but its the one that means the most to her, and she has written a piece about it for the Show & Tell Archive.

Born in the USA, Lori has “a job that takes me all over the world, working with individuals, institutions and communities that are striving for the social and economic advancement of their communities.”  She is currently based in Macau – I had to look it up – it was originally a Portuguese colony, but is now part of China.

You can find out more about Lori’s travels,

and her quilts, on her blog – Quilt Musings


I began quilting about 20 years ago –

– after a burst appendix landed me in a hospital in Israel, followed by recuperation in the home of a friend whose wife was a quilter.

For many quilters, there is a tendency for your latest finished quilt to be your favorite, only to be replaced when you finish the next project.   Circles, Revisited is the one I have draped across the sofa, its not the newest, but I think it is going to hold its place as my favorite for a good while to come.
Image 11 - Version 2 It includes some of my favorite fabrics, has lots of free motion quilting, and demonstrates hat how no matter how inaccurate your tools and seam allowances, something beautiful can still be made from your efforts.  If I can make quilts anyone can!

I was never really domestically inclined growing up, and even now, my sewing is confined entirely to quilting. I caught the quilt bug when I was on a project in Israel and ended up with peritonitis.

After a couple weeks in hospital, I moved to a friend’s home, where in addition to receiving wonderful care and attention that aided my recovery, I was introduced to the beauty and variety of quilts and taught the basics of hand piecing and quilting.

Image 5  It didn’t take too long, however, before I had switched to a sewing machine. I loved how quickly a quilt could come together and enjoyed adding intricate machine quilting that would take years if done by hand.

At the time I started this quilt though, I wanted to keep one project that I could carry with me and work on when I was away from my sewing machine.

I had the idea of a quilt made of quarter circles of batiks, with the circles fading in and out of a scrappy background.  It never occurred to me to buy a professionally made-template to cut my fabrics — I just grabbed a plate from the cupboard, pulled a plastic folder from my stationary drawer and a handy quilter’s ruler, and used them to draw circle inside a square so that it approximated the quarter circle quilt blocks I had seen pictures of.

Image 15 I cut out the shapes using a pair of scissors, and voila, I  had my templates.  They were not the most accurate templates in the world…and in fact they degraded with use…but they were good enough.  I started cutting my fabrics, and soon I had a pile of patches in fabrics I loved and was very slowly piecing them together.  That’s about where life interfered.  The box was put on a shelf with my quilting fabrics, and quilting was largely forgotten.


Image 9 Fast forward to last year, when I decided to take up quilting once more.  As I was organizing my fabric stash, I came across the box and realized I still loved the fabrics and the design of the quilt.  Hand quilting no longer held any appeal for me, so I would need to put the blocks together by machine.

Circular blocks are not the easiest to put together at the best of times, and these blocks presented some massive challenges.  Because the templates were home made and not particularly accurate, the patches weren’t very accurate either.

Image 14 But the bigger problem was that you make templates for hand and machine quilting differently.  For machine quilting, you add the 1/4″ seam allowance to your template, and cut along that line.  You line up the edges of your patches and use a quarter inch seam while sewing.

For hand piecing, you make the template the size of the patches, draw around the patches and use that line to align your patches.

Your seam allowance doesn’t have to be accurate because you are sewing on the lines.  And mine were extremely inaccurate!

It took quite a lot of fiddling to get the blocks to come together, and some of them never did lie flat.  But once I got the quilt top together, I loved how the colors flowed from one block to another and across the quilt.  I used the circles to add a variety of free motion quilting motifs, adding another layer of design to the quilt (and hiding some of the block imperfections).  Despite the difficulties, or maybe because of them, it is now my favorite quilt, used to cuddle up with almost every evening since it was made.

Image 13 - Version 2 If you have ever considered quilting but were intimidated by the idea of all the pieces and the accuracy needed, I hope my quilt is an encouragement to give it a try.  I invite you to come take a look at my blog where I share the process I go through while making my quilts as well as the finished quilts.  Cheers!

I asked Lori for some more pictures of her other quilts, so here they are – if you click on any of them they will turn into a slide show.  Please remember they are HER COPYRIGHT – so ASK before you use them anywhere else!

This month, I branched out a bit and added some rather dramatic fabrics to my stock, some of which are great for quilting – please see “new in…”




The new bins cost; £475,916.20


the large bin versus the small bin

For a week or more, the text spacing on this post has been mangled, making the reading of it pretty difficult!

I have asked for help with this, because when it was published, it was fine!  The problem occurred when I went back to update it, and add the last email from Mr Roberts, of Neath Port Talbot CBC.

If you would like to see what the problem was/is you can read all about it HERE.

I am now attempting to ‘repair the site’, and hope it will read properly when I update it! (26 March)


This is a follow up to my post of 3 February,

about the recycling policy of my local council, which was prompted by “THE BIG BIN SWAP” when they came and swopped our large bins for small ones – with the stated aim of encouraging recycling.

It was also a measure put in place to try to avoid the fines Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council (NPTCBC) is paying for using LANDFILL.

I posed a number of questions and thought you might like to know the answers.   Its taken a while, but I have now heard back from NPTCBC – to make sense of this email exchange – have a look at the original post by clicking HERE.



Sent: 24 February 2015 08:10

To: Chief Execs


Dear Sir

On 3 February I emailed both the media department and my local Councillor, to ask them to read the blog below, and reply with some answers to the questions I posed.


To date I have had no answer from either of them.

If you’d like to look at the comments section below the body of the text, you will see that there is great interest around the world about recycling, and many people are interested to know what Neath Port Talbot CBC are doing about it – specifically

  1. How much did the new bins cost?
  2. What did you do with the bins you removed?
  3. How have you funded this scheme?
  4. Is there another reason you have limited the size of the bins – ie:  can the new trucks take larger bins?
  5. How is the waste collected recycled?  Which companies do you use to do this and do you sell it or have to pay for its disposal?

I would be grateful if you could supply this information, which will be published in a follow up blog.

I truly do not want to have to put in a Freedom of Information request, as suggested by one reader. However, if I have not heard back from you within 10 days, I think this will be my next action. many thanks for your attention.



Dear Miss Barnett,

Firstly, apologies that no one has contacted you with an explanation with regard to the questions you posed. With reference to your e-mail of the 24/02/2015, I would inform you that;

  1. The new bins cost; £475,916.20
  2. Both the plastic body and steel axles of all the bins removed have been recycled via the Civic Amenity site in Briton Ferry.
  3. The bins were partly Welsh Government grant funded and partly Council funding from reserves.
  4. The reason for reducing the bins size is the statutory waste targets and associated fines and Welsh Government’s ‘Collections Blueprint’.  The aim is to encourage people who were not already recycling to do so and encourage those already recycling to participate further.
  5. All waste collected for recycling is taken to a purpose built transfer building at the rear of the Materials Recovery and Energy Centre at Crymlyn Burrows.  The operator of the facility, NPT Recycling Ltd., has contracts in place with reprocessors and the income is essentially netted off the cost of managing and treating the Council’s ‘black bag’ waste which is also taken to the plant.

I hope the above information is helpful.small bin Yours sincerely, Mike Roberts Head of Streetcare Environment Directorate environment@npt.gov.uk


Before going ahead and publishing Mr Roberts reply, as a courtesy, I replied on 11 March –


 Dear Mr Roberts
 I am very relieved to receive this detailed reply from you regarding the list of questions in my email of 24 February.
You will of course have noted that I intended to publish your answer as a follow up to the original ‘blog post’ “The Big Bin Swap” dated 3 February.
Before I do, could you please confirm that you are happy for me to do so – and whether you wish your name to be published or just your title?
I was careful not to name which council I was talking about in the original blog, but in view of the details given, I think I should be able to verify that this is a genuine reply.
Re: Your Point No 4:  Is there any evidence that this strategy is working, or is it too soon to evaluate it?
Re: Your Point No 5:  Whilst the general information you gave is revealing, the real concern of everyone who recycles their waste is whether it is being    processed properly and put to good use.  Could you please provide a couple of specific examples of what is done with the various separated materials?
I am copying this email to my local councillor, with whom I spoke on Sunday, and I thank him for his help – and of course, yours.         Julie Barnett

I also re-sent the email on 18 March, asking for a reply and telling Mr Roberts that I would be publishing this today.  As I got no reply, I think that its time to publish!  I also think that you can all draw your own conclusions, and would welcome your comments below.  
Of course, it you would also like to contact Neath Port Talbot CBC, that is up to you – smile!


20 March 2015

I got a reply to the email above, late yesterday, most probably after someone had read this post.  As promised, I am publishing it here, and I have, of course, thanked Mr Roberts for his contribution and sent him a link to this post.

Dear Miss Barnett.

Thank you for your further correspondence.  With respect to your additional requests for information, I can advise as follows:

I enclose details of the immediate impact of reducing bin size in the pilot area undertaken in 2013.

Overall in the County Borough, as the smaller bins have been rolled out participation across the County Borough has similarly increased from 62% in 2013 to 71% in 2014 overall, and now stands at over 80%.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Average
24% 38% 20% 37% 29.75% Baseline
40% 56% 32% 56% 46% Participation after excess bin removal and reduction to 140 litres(commencing 28th Oct 2013)

It is noted that tonnage data also suggested that many residents were using the capacity released in the larger wheeled bins through recycling to dispose of green garden waste.  With switching to smaller bins the Council’s recycling and composting figures continue to increase and we are hopeful of hitting the next statutory target in Wales of 58% a year early at the end of this current year.

With respect to examples of material destinations I can inform you of the following, as reported to the Council by Neath Port Talbot Recycling at the end of last year. 


Example 1:  After delivery to Crymlyn Burrows, plastics collected at the kerbside in Neath Port Talbot are bailed and transferred off-site to Carmarthenshire Environmental Resources.  From there they are sent to EcoPlastics in Lincolnshire.  EcoPlastics produce raw materials which may be used in the manufacture of plastic containers. 


Example 2:  After delivery to Crymlyn Burrows, food waste collected at the kerbside in Neath Port Talbot is bulked up and transferred off site to an Anaerobic Digestion Facility in Avonmouth, near Bristol.  The facility produces renewable energy and a nutrient rich fertiliser.



Mike Roberts

Head of Streetcare


incense – natural tree resins

nuggets of amber resin

nuggets of amber resin

As well as my collection of yarns and fibres for spinners and weavers, and general craft supplies, I have always sold a selection gift items that catch my attention, because they are unusual, useful or look/smell nice!

The natural tree resins come under that category.  They are the purest form of the incense, collected usually directly from the sap of the tree, and as such have very complex organic aromas when burnt.  They can also be combined with each other to produce your own choice of aroma, or to form part of a perfume.

I initially bought the amber resin to burn as an incense, it is used in temples and mosques in burners, and is one of the most expensive resins – especially this one, which is sourced in India.  As it happens, I bulk bought this at the beginning of last year, and then, because of illness, all my stock just languished until I re-started selling in October!

For some reason, and no one has been able to tell me why, the supply from India has dried up, and I seem to be the last person to have some of this!  People are buying it from Morocco at the moment, but its nothing like the Indian sourced tree resin.

Quite by chance, I found that you could just rub the side of one of these nuggets on your wrists or the usual perfume points and the perfume stayed with you all day – it has always been used as an ingredient for perfumes anyway!  Even in its solid form, you can put it in a muslim bag, and hang it up in the room or wardrobe, and the complex fruity/musky scent will just colour the area nearby – and the nuggets seem to last forever.

I’m on my last pack of these just now, and if I can’t find more of it, I’m not sure if I’ll bother to buy the Moroccan resin, because I have been spoilt!  It has also been very popular with my customers – but I don’t get many repeat orders, because it lasts so long!  You can see my listings, which give even more information about the resin and how to use it – here on ebay, and here on etsy.  A nugget is £4.95 – the etsy listing includes a small organza bag that can be hung in wardrobes etc.

other natural tree resins

set of 6 natural tree resins with burner

set of 6 natural tree resins with burner

I will come back to these another day, but if you want to sample some of the best of them, I have put together a set with a burner – that you can find here on ebay, and here on etsy.  The listings explain how to burn them safely!

drumroll – tada! introducing…..’your spare’…..


there is someone else out there using my name – smile
go and have a look at ‘the spare‘ and ‘your spare

you are welcome to leave your own comments and thoughts – that’s what its for – promote yourself – add a link!

newz from julz: yarns for knitting & weaving


scarfcopysThis post is written as a checklist for the latest newz from julz update, which goes out to all the customers on my mailing list – its easier to put the pictures and links on this blog, where they can be seen clearly, than try and put them all into an email.

I sell in the UK and WORLDWIDE

Anyone who reads this can join the mailing list – please go to the shop talk page, where you will find a form to fill in.  newz from julz updates are sent out when there is new stock or other useful information, and are not available unless you are on the mailing list, which has nothing to do with following this blog! If you want to know more about any of the yarns on this page, clicking on any warping yarn picture will take you to the ‘slideshow’ of these yarns and if you then click on the underlined caption, it should take you to the current listing.  Clicking on the pictures of the novelty yarns will take you to the listings directly. Of course anyone is welcome to buy anything they see on any of the sites I sell on – links to my etsy shop, my folksy shop, and my two sites on ebay, are underneath my photo on the right hand side.  If you are not registered on any of them, you are welcome to buy direct.

warping yarns for weavers

Warping Yarns are particularly strong and can take the strain of being the “vertical yarns” on the loom, as they are kept under tension whilst the cloth is woven.  They can also be used  for the weft – ie: you can weave with them – and for crochet and macrame. You can also knit with them.  Many knitters are so used to small balls of knitting yarn, that they don’t realise that you can knit straight from the cone – just put the cone in a bag or basket to keep it clean and allow the thread to be easily drawn. When you click on the pictures below, some of them will take you to julzweaving on ebay, and others will take you to julz craft supplies on etsy.  That does not mean that they cannot be found on the other sites, but as ebay listings don’t last as long as the etsy ones, I have used the etsy site for listings on ebay that are near to their end date. NB:  the links are current at the date of posting, but may not work in a few weeks time – that does not mean that I don’t still stock them – see below!

novelty yarns for textile arts

sample pack of tu-tu yarns

sample pack of tu-tu yarns

Anyone with an eye for unusual ideas and novelty yarns to experiment with will enjoy these ‘Imagine’ and ‘Tu-Tu’ yarns – but they may take some getting used to! Samples are available on request, and there is a particular sample pack of 4 colourways of Tu-Tu which is also listed.  If you would like to request a variation of colours, please ‘buy’ the pack and send me a separate request for the specific colours you would like in the pack.  (There are numbers on the banding that you can use for reference.

*tutu yarn mixed

hanks of multicoloured tu-tu yarn

You can actually knit with these, and create ruffles within your pattern, and there are links to free patterns on the listings, on both etsy and ebay – all of these are currently listed on both sites, clicking on these pictures will take you to one or the other. You can also use them as eyecatchers by weaving bits of them into your work, adding them to needlework and sewing projects and incorporating them in any any collage or textile art project.

hanks of single colour tu-tu yarn

hanks of single colour tu-tu yarn

Similarly unusual, and useful for art work, are the imagine yarns, which have been created to be used to make things like scarves without knitting them! They comes as ‘tubes of webbing’, and there is a link on the listing to a video that shows how to make a scarf in a few minutes.  Buy a hank and see what else you can use these for!

These listings have expiry dates, and the links may not work in a few weeks time, but I will have stock of most of the yarns shown on this page on a regular basis, so if you cannot find the listings, please use the form on the contact me page and I will send you the link.

hanks of 'imagine' yarn

hanks of ‘imagine’ yarn

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year

Is it the ‘year of the goat’, or the ‘year of the sheep’?  Well let’s ask an expert – smile!

Thanks Debbie, for permission to re-blog any of your posts, and as its the Chinese New Year on Thursday 19 February this year, I thought I’d choose this one, after all as you live in China, its the most appropriate one!  If readers are interested in this post, you might also like to look at the previous post on spaceship china “Going Home for the New Year”.

spaceship china

If you do a quick internet search, you’ll find the most popular Chinese New Year expressions are

新年快乐   Xīn Nián Kuài Le,  or 年年有余 nián nián  you yu.

These expressions are found everywhere on the internet because they are actually used regularly in China. The first one is simply “happy new year” and the second one means “every year have fish” – a way of wishing prosperity for all.

You’ll also hear 过年好 guo nian hao – meaning the old year has passed, and indicating best wishes for the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new.

With the year of the sheep or goat ( 羊 yang can mean both sheep and goat) arriving, expressions with these animals are popular. Whilst  expressions relating to goat are common , the cuddly toys which fill shops every Chinese New Year are more likely to be sheep than goats –…

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