Sunday, 26 February 2017

Urge to be girly - it must be spring

Just a quick update on Flossie - she is getting stronger each day and is adjusting to life on three legs.  She won't be joining Scruffy in the outside hutch until her wound is healed and her fur grown back though. She's still not eating and drinking as much as we would like but she's survived!  My bank balance, however is in terminal decline. What I have learnt is that the service and care from a vet is second to none.

I came home from the shops the other day with some daffodils and plonked them in the nearest receptacle whilst I unpacked the shopping. The sauce by the way is the same as every other tomato sauce in a jar. Utterly disgusting. I must spend the time to make some proper stuff instead of taking the easy way out. However I think I might give the jar a shabby chic makeover because it it's rather a nice shape.

Talking about Shabby Chic and Girly stuff, I went to visit my friend Jan at The Cotton Tree yesterday and found the Tea Shop next door under new management - formerly Jiggery Pokery - now called Elisa Rose Tea Rooms
Jan said I would love it or hate it. I think I'm more in the latter camp although I recognise the huge amount of work that's gone into it - I just wouldn't like to be the cleaner! They had perfumed candles burning too which I really don't like, especially when I'm eating; it's an assault on the senses, not to say an air pollutant. 

I called into Bradley Gardens Nursery which I have passed so many times and promised myself I would go to.  It's a walled garden - bare at this time of year but still so very interesting:
 Beautiful Hellebores and Snowdrops in an urn
 A Garrya -  (Silk Tassle Plant)
And a standard bay tree next to the beautiful wall.  There's also a fabulous cafe built into the victorian glasshouse along one wall.  Unfortunately I'd just had tea and a piece of tiffin at Elisa Rose but I'll definitely call in at different times of the year to see how the gardens look.  There's also a few lovely shops built into the wall and some plants and (expensive!!) pots for sale.

My friend commissioned a heart for her husband for Valentine's Day.  I had a little angel heart that I had started a long time ago and abandoned because I couldn't get inspiration.
I started by painting over the old colour - there is a little bit of sculpting paste on but I decided to leave it.
Then I painted a plaid background and a little space for the wording - I love the painty clutter on my little table!

I made one of my favourite ever bakes last week
 Millionaire Shortbread - the trimmings are for the chef.
None of your waffer-thin, sprayed on toppings though. Buttery Shortbread with a hint of sea salt, creamy soft caramel and milk chocolate topping, poured over when it just starts to thicken so you get thicker bits, like an Easter Egg.  Nom Nom.

I ran a workshop for would-be Durham Quilters yesterday - there are some promising ladies and they have signed up for a second workshop to learn how to design a wholecloth quilt. This was the most popular choice for the block they made - called a Rose in a Rose.

Alex and Will are braving the wind this afternoon to visit the charming Crook Hall Gardens in Durham City so it's peaceful enough to relax and do some stitching, the weekend chores are done, so it will be guilt free.

So why have I got the urge to do something girly? Not girly like Elisa Rose but fresh and Spring-like.  I think it's the gloom that we have endured for the last few months. There is sunshine today and we have had some bright days but on the whole it has been a gloomy, grey winter.

Some spring shades to make a little hanging and a mat for the chest in my bedroom.
I have a few projects in mind. The linen has sparked my creative juices (mixed metaphors?) to make some hangings. I saw a little mat I liked somewhere on the internet so I have done a rough drawing and will have a little potter making this - about 6"-7" I think. It will have little embroidered flowers around the outside.
So Flossie and I are going to to settle down to watch the rugby this afternoon and I haven't decided whether to start the little mat or continue with my Moorland Blanket. Considering last Sunday was spent wondering whether the little bunny would survive her operation I feel so glad that I am now watching her nibbling sweetly at some kale and groom her little face so daintily.

Until next time xxxx

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Little Flossie in trouble again

What a weekend! Little Flossie Rabbit - the one we acquired because Steph is allergic to her, (they got her for Ben); the one who was stolen from her hutch and was found four days later by someone who got in touch with us via Facebook - that Flossie - do you remember?  When Will cleans out their hutch we put them in a little run in the garden.  A cat appeared in the garden and Flossie went wild, careering about the run.  To cut a long story short she managed to trap her foot and was so desperate to get free she broke her leg.  She broke her leg so badly that she needed to have it amputated. On Saturday night we had to transfer her to the overnight emergency vet after her operation so they could look after her. She had a canula in her left ear which was bandaged in red.
Will, my big tough first-born was absolutely devastated, I have to admit I was as upset about him being so upset. She came home on Monday (yesterday) and we have been feeding her with what is essentially liquid hay and medicine to make her guts work.  Apparently rabbit tummies shut down very quickly. She's not out of the woods but things are looking better. This afternoon she was well enough to give me the stink-eye when I gave her some medicine.  Getting back to normal then.

I'm supposed to be spring cleaning but can't get on because Flossie's hutch is in the middle of the living room. Now I'm stressed out thinking I'll not get things I had planned for the week done and will be back to work with a house that could quite easily be called a skip.  A bit of crochet is in order I think. Then some pattern writing for a workshop on Saturday.

Deep breaths.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

No sunshine? - I'll make my own bright day

It has been sunny some days but somehow the weekends seem to be dull. It's bright when I look out of my office window and dull when I want to take photos. But I have so much colour....
Did I mention I like Lime Green?  This is going to be the backing for my Blue Jacob Quilt
I've let myself be persuaded to machine quilt it and I'm not looking forward to it but onward and upward. If you don't try and all that.  I've machine quilted before and never been that happy with the results but I'm giving it another try. I'll get going the week after next as I'm taking half term off.  I didn't used to record my holidays and now I do, I realise that I was never taking enough - for the past ten years I've probably lost 20 weeks worth of holidays. Silly me.

I have started on a pattern for a baby quilt.  It's a chevron pattern but made from rectangles rather than half square triangles.
I had a bundle of four fat quarters from way back when (actually some of the fabric has faded). Its called Oh Baby by Sandy Gervais.
First sew a background strip to a coloured strip - these are two and a half inches but as long as you cut the strip units into into squares it would work with any size strip
 Then sew the squares together to make a two- unit patch.
You build the units together in diagonal rows starting with a single unit and adding to either side on each row.  I couldn't get my head round it at first but have managed to make enough sense to write a little pattern.
This is the top half way through.
And this is it with just the corner to sew on - I apologise for the changing colours - some pictures are taken in natural light and some with a flash.
So this is waiting to have the pointy bits trimmed off.  I think it's going to be about 30" x 40" so I'll need to put some sort of border on - haven't decided what yet. I haven't got any more of the coloured fabric and it's quite old so I can't find any in the shops.  There's an odd bit on eBay but not enough for a border. I'll have to get my thinking cap on.

Will had a great time in Norway and brought me back a little hand carved spoon.
It's handy for putting stitch markers in.
I'm still using them for the Moorland Blanket.  I'm just coming up to the end of Part Two and Part 6 has just been published. So whilst Lucy is flying among the clouds I'm still tip-toeing though the heather. I'm loving it.

I've not been doing a huge amount of baking recently
A little coffee and walnut cake
Some chocolate and raspberry cupcakes (I use yoghurt to keep the cakes moist and only had raspberry yoghurt in the fridge!)

I burnt some jam tart quite spectacularly last week. Later this afternoon I'm getting my baking head on - what will it be I wonder? I'll remember to put the timer on whatever I cook.

I've been commissioned to do a couple of little painting projects.  One for a fiftieth birthday card
I painted a 'quilt' on to water colour paper and then stuck that to some card.  I meant to do it 'portrait' but I  painted the hearts on 'landscape' before I realised.

The next task (for this afternoon while I watch the Six Nations) is a little heart for a friend at work to give her husband for Valentine's Day.

Will is in Jedburgh this weekend with Alex and I expect they may have as much snow as they did in Norway judging by the weather forecast on the television.  It's still raining here - hasn't stopped since Friday - just so dull outside.  I'm so glad I have lots of bright things to work with whilst I am indoors.

Before I start on those lovely things there's a laundry basket full of ironing with my name on it. Until next time, be well and safe.


Sunday, 29 January 2017

Is there madness in my method?

I've been working on a new quilt design.  It's a bit back to front because I did a draft and took it to my Thursday night class. I hadn't written the pattern so it was just in diagram form. I wanted to know if anyone was interested in doing it.  Two ladies said they did - problem was they wanted to start straight away so they actually started sewing before I did.  This is it so far:
Photos are not good again this week because of the light.  Although there was a bit of sunshine this morning - a golden light shining on the evergreens outside.
So, on Thursday one of the ladies was ready to sew the basic block together (see my version below)
It's a simple Jacob's ladder variation but it was a fraught two hours as she tried to pin and sew the four units of the block together.  She is the expert unpicker.  Like me, she cannot mirror image things very easily and hasn't yet learnt to be methodical about piecing.  Even though she had all the pieces stacked up in the right orientation she twisted them this way and that as she prepared to sew them.  They were all coming out wrong.  Luckily she has a good sense of humour!  I'm not sure what will turn up next week because she likes to work at home.

So this weekend, with Will away in Norway and no baby sitting duties I eventually got round to doing the sample quilt. I am just realising how methodical I am and I hope to be share that with the class next week.

Might I just add that I am sitting in extra warm woolies as the central heating boiler is on the blink and a new part won't be here to fix it until Tuesday morning.  No heating or hot water. Thank goodness for quilts!

So when I start I clear surfaces, get all the kit out ready -  scissors and pins by the machine, ironing board up.  I cut out the pieces, then I mark any pieces that need doing
and stack them ready to sew.
Cut, stack stitch, press, press press!
All those bunny ears!
More stacking (48 blocks each with two four patches and two half square triangles)
But you'll have to wait until next weekend to see the finished result. I've pieced all the rows and have three of the eight rows sewn together but it's dark now.  No mistakes so far and I put that down to working really methodically, cutting marking, stacking and pressing - no madness, no unpicking, just method.

I've been crocheting away at night after work but the Crochet-Along is at week four now and I have just finished the stripes for week one.  I love it so much.

I especially love the limey green and soft heather colours together.  They make me want to sing with the sheer joy of colour.  The little markers are placed every ten stitches so that I never lose count of the pattern. It doesn't feel like extra work it's all part of my methodical approach.  It's all part of the rhythm and process which I love. 

Sunday, 8 January 2017

So many plans

January is such a strange month - we all have so many plans but how do we get them going and not let half of them fall by the wayside - or should we have so many so that we don't run out of things to do?

I have been looking forward to this weekend for a while - Crochet Along begins!
The yarn has been here since before Christmas and the pattern was published on Friday. I'm not normally a fan of Blocks of the month type projects because I want mine to be at least a little bit different. The Moorland Blanket is an exception.
These are the first rows I have done,  but each row stripe takes about forty minutes and there are twenty to do before Friday. Not possible. So now I'm on the back foot and although I'm loving it I feel slightly sad that I know I'm going to have trouble keeping up. Strange things we human beings!
I saw some almond butter in the shops and decided to try it as a change from peanut butter. I suppose I have never had peanut butter from anything but a jar so have never had to squeeze some out on to my toast. The oil separates from the more natural versions and - well- it's not quite as appetising as I expected, bit turd like. I ignored the resemblance.  Tastes ok.

How do you get from quiet and tidy to mayhem in less than three minutes? Invite some children of course!
They managed to empty the entire contents of their toy boxes on to the floor (not in shot) - but ended up playing with my keyboard and a cardboard box.

Well all the Christmas decorations are safely packed away and this weekend's list was long. But here I sit on Sunday afternoon having achieved very little this weekend.

Got called in to babysit for a couple of hours over lunch yesterday, John and Steph were both working and their times co-incided.  Will needed a hand to build an extension to our biosphere so the hens had more room. The housing order has been extended to 28th February because some cases of bird flu have been found in wild birds.  Luckily there was a sale at the garden centre so I go more polythene. Housework always gets in the way of my best laid plans, dammit, and I am resisting the urge to rush around at the moment.

I decided to make a load of soups for next week instead of eating winter comfort food which actually gives very little comfort when added to the hips.
Leek, broccoli, spinach and kale and a pepper and sweet potato soup with chilli. May have overdone the chilli though.

I have a pattern to write, ironing to do, it's sunny so I should really go out for a walk and soak up some vitamin D.  And I can't be bothered.

Oh man this gets on my nerves.

I get on my nerves.

It's January - my least favourite month of all the year. It happens annually - get over it.

The urge for mega fresh fruit and vegetables has been calling to me so I made some smoothies (Spinach, avocado pear, apples, pineapple, cucumber for the green one and orange, beetroot, ginger and carrots for the red one. These juices and smoothies are fantastic pick me ups - I don't know why I don't have them more often. They taste stunning - much better than eating plates of vegetables which I just wouldn't do anyway. The hens enjoy the leftovers too. I have them instead of a meal so they're not really extra expensive.

Now the yarn is whispering to me - tempting me to pick up my hook and forget about the things I should do.

I've got enough clean clothes to ignore the ironing for another day. So eyes down and hooks away!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

January - the double headed God

Janus is the god of beginning, gates, transition, time, doorways, passages and endings.  He is usually depicted as having two heads - one looking backwards and one looking forwards.
So it's 2017 - all quivery with anticipation and hope. I enjoyed 2016 - it was a very busy year which ran its course - I was exhausted by the end but I'm rested and I'm looking forward to 2017 with renewed energy. 

So - a little look back and a look forward:

Two of a set of four little covers for notebooks. This one will be for my Quilts for Comfort Quilts. More of those in future blogs.
A little wallhanging for Christmas - note to self - go with your own colours next time.
Hexagons for a grandmothers flower garden - do I put a pathway through or sew them straight together?
Until next week, xxxx

A little plaque - an order for someone at school.
Still baking.
Making a baby blanket (haven't found a baby for it yet - haven't finished it either)
Testing a block and getting it wrong - see also note to self above.

Now these colours excite me. Oh I have such plans (and the fabric to see it through praise be) - rock on 2017.

Next on the horizon is....... (be still my beating heart) a Crochet-Along. Follow this link:  Attic 24 
(Picture from Lucy's blog)
Now those are my colours too - I'm so excited to begin this. It starts next weekend.
At last I got round to painting this little cabinet I bought for a fiver. I can't find the wax polish though.  The paint is finished so I'll show you the finished article in situ when it's waxed. Very shabby chic.
A set of different size covers for various electrical devices. I enjoyed making these. I am embarking on a cover for my sewing machine in 2017 too. 

I started going through some unfinished stuff but got a bit overwhelmed by the task. I will write a list and put things out ready, maybe then it won't seem such a steep cliff to climb. I did actually spend the morning designing a new quilt but I will try to hold back on that until I've at least done some finishing.

So that's 2017 mapped out - question is - when am I going to find time to go to work?

I hope your 2017 is all you wish it to be - work at it though - nothing comes for nothing!