Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Where do all the weekends go?

Stitching was put on hold this weekend as the demolition squad  Ben and Max came to stay. We dropped John and Steph off at the station for a day/night in London. (Birthday present for John).

They visited Camden Market; had a wander around; went to see Stephen Fry; ate dinner and chilled. Usually I stay at their house when they are away overnight but this time I had the boys at mine. They were little angels of course although I am constantly reminded why women can't have children after a certain age!
I dropped them off at nursery and school on Monday morning and went home to fish the entire contents of my sitting room out from under the sofas. Max swishes everything off the surface of tables, shelves sofas etc and then systematically pushed them under the sofas.

So - stitching went on hold but I got a little done on Saturday afternoon,
The entire 12 months of Mini Quilts is now done.  I will photo them next to the original quilt I made (a wallhanging). Some are the same but most are slightly different as they needed more to be stand-alone quilts. Some, as in December are completely different.

Stocking orders are coming in so I've been working on those off and on over the past couple of weeks. The fronts of three are completed and will be ready for despatch over the weekend.
I'm always nervous to post them though!

Will took Scruffy the Rabbit (aka Bunzilla) up to his new house and the two silky chickens will be moving up as soon as he has finished the new henhouse for them. I will be left with a single white hen as the ginger one (an old lady) died last week. She was a Columbine and laid blue/green eggs but nothing on the scale of the white one who is still laying the odd egg after nearly seven years. At the weekend I'll go and get another couple as the difference between eggs from your own hens and even the most expensive, free range organic eggs from the shops is still vast. Two hens will give me about 10-12 eggs a week. Enough to eat, bake with and share.

I'll soon be off to work but I have the ingredients measured out ready to bake some nutella oat traybake - a new recipe I found/adapted.
Next weekend will be short as I'm working on Saturday and also covering on Monday for holidays so I only have Sunday this week for stitching - question is, when do I do some housework?

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Picture the Year Mini Quilts are done

The last stitch has just been made on the December Mini-Quilt. Happy/Sad! They have changed from the original Picture the Year Wall Quilt that I made a few years ago.  So here is November:
In England we celebrate the 5th November - Guy Fawkes Night - I love the sight sounds and smells of this night (or in this case a whole weekend).  It also provides scope for seasonal quilts. I know in America November is represented by Thanksgiving Quilts. This is the British version!

At the weekend I made the December Mini-Quilt but you will have to wait for this one as it will go to my class first.  I've really enjoyed making these and now have a hole in my quilting world that needs to be filled with some seasonal loveliness next year.  Wall quilts, mini-quilts, cushions, what next?

Since my last post we have also celebrated Halloween.  This is becoming more of festival than it was (does my cynicism put it all down to a commercial opportunity?)  I have the same attitude to this as to Christmas, I mark it in my own way.


Little chocolate cupcakes this time. I did actually buy some little sweeties for trick or treating but I was at work on 31st until about 8 so I didn't get any callers. Will and I heroically ate the little bars of sugary stuff.

I'm going to make some toffee apple cake for this Thursday night because that is a Bonfire Night delicacy.

My quiet day on Monday was not so quiet this week. John was doing some work in the house and Steph was at work so I collected the boys from school/nursery and they came back to my house for games and tea.
The place looked like a bomb site after they had gone. They are staying over this Sunday/Monday as John and Steph are going down to London to see Stephen Fry. Once they are at school on Monday I'll be able to recoup!

The last few days have been very dull and I'm getting that sort of crushing feeling you get without sunshine.  The sky feels slightly brighter today but there has been a sort of yellow/grey light all day for the past couple of days. 

A haircut on Friday will cheer me up and a quiet Saturday is planned before the demolition squad arrive on Sunday. I've chosen to stay in my house rather than theirs this time and if the weather is kind we can walk to the park. 

Will and Alex are moving this weekend so I might make them a casserole so that they don't have to worry about cooking. Will is taking the little hens and the rabbit and I will be getting a couple of new layers as my other two are quite old ladies now.  The difference between bought eggs and fresh laid home eggs is indescribable. 

So in a week when my youngest is 31 and my oldest is 33 I'm feeling my own age a bit more. But let's not grow old gracefully eh?




Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Loving that heart warming feeling of a finished quilt

It's always a bittersweet moment when you finish quilting something you've loved doing. Yesterday was one such day though.

A little embroidered strawberry and the date. (Not so easy to see as the backing is quite patterned) That was from Chester le Street Market in the 1990s!)

I've so enjoyed this quilt made from recycled clothes and linens. The Bishop's Fan pattern took some stitching but the effect is lovely. I used Coton a Broder and did quite large quilting stitches. It's not very big (about 45" square) which is probably good because it was quite hard-going on the hands, pulling the thick cotton through all the layers. It reminds me of a quilt that my grandma made. I'm keeping this one. It will look good in John's old room, draped across a chair.

So both my babies are moving house now. Alex and Will are on the final push, decorating every surface! Their wood burning stove has been fitted and the carpets are being laid this week. They should be moving from the rented house in a week.

John has sold his house and had an offer accepted on the house that they looked at in the summer. They will almost certainly be in by Christmas too. Now they have their own houses I'm going to make sure they take all their stored stuff from the attic! Yes I still have stuff belonging to John in my attic despite the fact that he moved out in 2012. No excuse now though his new house has its own big attic.

I was browsing the internet and found this quilt shop in America - pop over and have a look. What you can do when you have a lot of space in your shop!

Temecula Quilt Company  (they have an interesting mystery quilt going at the moment if that floats your boat)
I've never seen a bed in a quilt shop before. There used to be a little room in a quilt shop in Clitheroe that had stuff set out round an old fireplace which was interesting but you had to be careful how you walked around. I don't think it is there any more, it must have been 20 years ago that I visited it. Too far away for general purchases!

I''ve been getting on with the November and December Mini-quilts (raiding my stash) and look what I found for November!
I bought it for my cousin's 40th birthday quilt and decided not to use it in the end. He's 58 now so it's been waiting a while for a good home! It seems perfect for the firework picture I have for November.

I've been sorting through the Christmas stuff for some orders I have for Christmas stockings. I'm so disappointed with the Christmas colours that are around (and have been for the past few years) Pink? Purple? Turquoise? What's all that about? It's like having snow scenes for July Birthday cards - keep the seasons I say! Luckily I have some pieces that are big enough for stockings so I'll be able to get on with some designs and have them sent off in time.

It's been quite chilly here over the weekend so I have a little pile of quilts and crocheted blankets to keep me cosy although I have had the heating on during the day too.

Anyway, onwards and upwards!

Monday, 22 October 2018

Short weekend for crafts

The sum total of my crafting efforts this weekend
And I didn't even have time to iron it. Working slightly later on Saturday then calling round to make sure Steph and the boys were alright. Poor little Max was spectacularly sick when Steph had popped out to her Auntie's (Poor little Brendie too, in my hair, down my back, in my slippers! Ha! thought that sort of thing was long gone). Thank goodness they have a powerful vacuum/shampoo machine which reaches down the sides of the sofa.

Shopping and housework took Sunday for all but a couple of hours when I managed to get four rows of crochet and some 'stocking' work done.

With John away until tomorrow it'll be a little quieter at work so I might get some catch up stitching done tonight. Next weekend should be slightly more productive although a group of us are going to see Bohemian Rhapsody at the cinema so I can't lock myself away from the world for the whole time.

Until then xx

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Embracing Autumn

Like Autumn, a little late in October I have finished the Mini-Quilt for October
Complete with hand-painted button and fabrics from my very precious stash of Nancy Halvorsen and Sandy Gervais.  I loved being able to give buttons to the ladies at the class so that they could use them too.
So, whilst searching for suitable fabrics for the mini-quilt I came across some other stuff, quite old now, maybe about 10-15 years!  As I'm on a mission to house my half finished projects, or keep stuff together for planned projects I decided to make a bag for my Linden Bee Shawl.

I really enjoyed these little projects
Making things in the right season grounds you somehow. The weather is much more autumnal now although still warm. The vibrant colours are fading to soft light greens and beige, with some trees almost bare after the strong winds we had this week. A good heavy shower of rain on Thursday/Friday is adding that damp autumny feel to the days, as are the morning mists, their soft greys clothing the bushes and revealing the spider webs with little crystal droplets.

Yesterday was a day of no plans, so after a trip with Will to get hen food and other supplies, I cosied up on the sofa and began my Linden Bee Shawl. (Can I just say how patient I was winding the yarn into balls - each took an hour would you believe?) 1200 metres of silky loveliness.
The darkest skein is the original and the other two arrived in the post this week. I must say it is better to buy stuff you can see as the middle shade is very similar to the dark one and the lighter shade is quite grey in comparison with the pictures.
 On my computer screen the image below is much truer to the actual colours.
The drape and feel of the Mulberry Silk is just wonderful. I've made a few scarves and shawls that I can't wear next to my skin because they itch too much.  That was in the early days and I am much more aware of that when I buy yarn.  There is enough for two although early indications are that mine is not going to be as big as the one in the pattern. I may do a few more increase rows. I'm nearly halfway across and a few inches short although I'm not sure how much it will grow when I block it.

I made Florentines this week - they are so easy. I have to double up so there are enough for the Thursday Quilters and Cake Friday at work.
Oops can you see the nibble out of one? Must be mice. Just the chocolate to add. This recipe spreads out so they are thin and delicate, like brandy snaps. I might try putting seeds in - sunflower and pumpkin sound good. I love the way they are different shapes - the shop bought ones are usually thicker and harder and too uniform.

I'm going to knuckle down today and do some cooking for the weeknights when I get home too tired to make anything. Last week I didn't,  and ended up eating junk, cheese on toast or sometimes nothing. Bad girl.

Today I am going to start with the least favourite jobs before the stitching traps me with its silky bonds.  I've finished the patterns for the November and December Mini-Quilts so I may add them to my to-do list today (I like to have more than I can possible manage so that I don't waste time).

I've been commissioned to make three full size Christmas Stockings and a Mini Stocking so I'll need to get my thinking cap on for those. Happily I can use the designs for classes to come so that is good. I have to say I'm rather frustrated with the choice of Christmas Fabrics over the past few years. Pinks, turquoises and purples don't do it for me. Seasons and traditions have a unique language of colours, that's what makes them precious, comforting and rooted in their natural place.
This design, by Nancy Halvorsen was originally for a wall quilt but I translated it to painting a few years ago. I love to make the shapes look like they are made of fabric. I feel like I am cutting my fabric designing teeth here. One day maybe, one day.


Monday, 8 October 2018

Going through a purple patch

This beautiful hank of yarn has been in my precious yarns drawer for two years waiting for the right project and this week I found it.
The pattern is from Cherry Heart  - I love her colour but know that would not suit being next to my skin. I need stronger colours, like purple, turquoise or rust. I'll be winding the yarn tonight ready to start using this lovely silk yarn. 

Purple - what can I say? Is it a colour that comes to you later in life? I understand it is the most popular colour choice for over 50s.

Watching the film 'The Colour Purple' last week, prompted me to get the book from my shelf which I studied for my A Level English Lit. It is one of the most moving books I have read.  If you haven't read it, give yourself a treat, but remember the box of tissues. Or should I say handkerchief? I like hankies but do you choose to carry germs around or use less paper?  A whole new discussion.

There are two quotes from that book which stood out for me, a lover of all colours of course, but purple, oh purple! ('Scuse the language in the quote)

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

How many times do we see something beautiful and don't feel it in our hearts or don't take the time to appreciate that beauty - just a few seconds from our busy lives to enrich our day.

The other quote is:
"He laugh. Who do you think you is? He say. You can't curse nobody. Look at you. You black, you pore (poor), you ugly, you a woman. Goddam, he say, you nothing at all."


Four insults, four insights into the lot of women. It makes me sad and determined all at the same time. The book is set between 1910 and 1930 but it still has relevance today, sadly. Take the time to read it or watch the film, it's worth it.

So.... purple....
The cotton blanket is building up. It looks much bluer in the photos than it actually is - perhaps it's the way the light is absorbed by the matt surface of the cotton. It is much more purple than it looks here. (The crochet hook is a Knit-Pro 3mm - a happy purpley coincidence)

Purple too, for the bag I made this week to house the squares. This is in response to the scattered nature of my fabrics and yarns and my determination to keep them safe whilst my butterfly brain flits from project to project, finishing them in a completely random order, depending on my whim.
A different purple, muted, grey-toned and lovely. Purple figures highly in my seasons of Mist and Fruitfulness too.
There have been some stunning skies this week with the low autumn sun highlighting the gorgeous colours of autumn against steel grey skies. The elderberry bushes on the sides of the roads are dripping with deep purple black fruits, shining bright in the crisp morning light.

This has influenced the choice of colours for the October Mini-Quilt.
So a happy little table of pumpkins waiting to be painted or sewn.
I am in my element. Interspersing this crafting with housework and other things keeps me grounded but I have a deep inner peace when I'm concentrating on the fine details of these projects. Lucky lucky me, I am filled with appreciation for these times and, when I feel like me head is going to explode as I juggle the pressures at work I just allow myself a little glimpse of these moments to keep me going.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Storage - you are about to reach your capacity

The first computer I bought needed a floppy disk to tell it that it was a computer and how it should start up (an Amstrad).

Actually we had an early computer that my father bought for the boys that had a tape cassette with instructions on it, much of which he had written himself (a Sinclair). 

Mine was basically a word processor (with two styles of font, Arial and Times New Roman). It only stored on to disks of 1.44Mb.  I also remember my father taking me to his work and showing me the computer room - air conditioned and with huge spinning tapes. The room was probably larger than my house area. Now we  have more capacity on our mobile phones.  Even my little laptop has what is considered a puny hard-drive of 120Gb and it keeps telling me it is reaching capacity so I now have external hard drives and cloud capacity - where will it all end?

The problem is my collection of fabric, yarn and associated paraphernalia. I can't store that on a cloud drive.   
Will it look like this one day? My sitting room was beginning to resemble one of those hoarder programmes with bags and boxes, especially since I went to the Birmingham Quilt Festival this year but also with 'things I'm working on' and can't possibly put away. Under-bed storage has well and truly reached capacity.

I feel really privileged to be able to afford to buy and use such beautiful materials but get quite anxious about not being able to use it all before I shuffle off this mortal coil. My children know that it is to be donated to a list of people and charities so that none goes to waste which is comforting.  It's also wonderful to be able to make and give away quilts and other things to people who don't have the opportunity to buy or make their own comforting quilts. But still my cupboards fill.

I often wonder what our brain capacity is. Sometimes mine feels like it is reaching its limit as well. I comfort myself that, even though some things are reaching their storage limit that fabric, lovely fabric is still a two way street. I just need to keep stitching, keep doing the thing I love so much, like loving my beautiful family and friends - there is no limit to what I can give.

So now I'm going to spend my Wednesday morning wisely by making a project bag in these lovely linen/cotton fabrics
that I bought at the Festival of Quilts, for my Zauberball Cotton Blanket which is the most lovely drapey, cottony, luscious yarn. One square takes about twenty minutes, including unpicking time (dammit) and sewing in the ends. How can I make so many mistakes in a simple square?

The colour is morphing from deep blue/grey to purple now as I work through the ball, at the centre I can just discern some soft sage colour. Each square is about 3" before being blocked.
I'm going to do a Join as You Go sashing in between the squares. Set 12 x 12 it should come out at about 42". This is enough to adorn the back of a sofa or soft enough to fold into a triangle for a large shawl on cooler evenings.

Wednesday mornings are pottering housework/prep work for class on Thursdays. It's nearly 9am and the sky is brightening from its very dull start. Outside the traffic is getting louder as everyone goes about their daily business.  And now it's time to go about mine.
Computers, fabric boxes, brain - prepare for more input - storage capacity Ha! I laugh in the face of limits!