Thursday, 15 March 2018

Butterfly Mind - so many flowers to visit

I haven't been able to settle this week. There are so many exciting things just waiting to be made/created. I'm sitting eating my breakfast trying to still my mind and organise my time so I don't spend it flitting around like a butterfly, landing on things and flying away so quickly.

I didn't feel like quilting this weekend so I dug through my yarn piles to find something to tickle my fancy.  I can't sit doing nothing. There has to be something in my hands.  A little frisson of pleasure when I alighted on my collection of hand dyed yarns from the Natural Dye Studio (sadly now defunct)
Perfect for an afternoon playing hookey.  This is my long term project. There is no deadline because I'm making it for the pure pleasure of working with such amazing colours.  Most of the yarn is Blue Faced Leicester, but some has silk mixed in which gives a lovely twist and sheen.  The pattern I've used for the hexagons is from Sue Pinner's book 'Granny Squares' but I wanted straight edges so I could add a border.
It took a few experiments (more than shown here!) to make the half hexagon equivalent which I pencilled into the book for posterity.
I've found a fix for the other edges from Polka Dot Cottage  which I'll try this weekend. The project is 12 x 7 motifs at the moment but I will be making in 20 motifs wide and as long as I can with the available yarn.  Amanda Perkins and her daughter ran the Natural Dye Studio but stopped a couple of years ago, not long after I discovered them. She still designs gorgeous things though. 

Sorry about the dull photos - the light is naff at the moment and I'm not the best at taking pictures.

When I was looking for something to do I came across these 

which I made last year adapted from a wall quilt I made a few years ago.
I made the first three months and then flitted to another flower. So now I will come back to the mini-quilt flower and make three more! (April, May and June). The patterns are all there from the original wall quilt so it is just a case of cutting out the minis and cuddling down with a needle and thread. 

I've still go a pattern to make for a little gift bag for easter so I must settle down to that first....
I tried a little reverse appliqué but I don't think I like that.
Then I tried the little chick motif from the egg cosy and enlarged it slightly. I like that
They are about 5" high and will fit three creme eggs or some little mini eggs. 

Pop back at the weekend to see the little bunny motif and an updated egg motif.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

No, not a tale of Two Cities, a tale of snow. Sitting at home in the warmth of comfort, not having to travel to work (we had to close the clinic last Thursday). What about the people that had to go to work - a big cheer and thank you for the heroes that made it, delivering food, keeping us safe, taking supplies to people stuck in their cars.

The empty shelves in the supermarket over the weekend weren't just because the delivery lorries couldn't get through.  It was a siege mentality according to one of the checkout ladies - worse than Christmas.  We actually had enough food in the house for a good couple of weeks. Granted it would have been lentils from the back of the cupboard and no fresh vegetables but we weren't going to starve. My friend's mother works in a local store and she said people were fighting over bread..... these sort of things bring out the best and worst in people.

Anyway there is a little bit of snow left where it drifted into 6 foot piles and there is a huge amount of surface water on some of the little roads into work but we are back to normal now. March - in like a Lion and out like a Lamb! (I hope)

Today I have been to the dentist, shopped for pet food and human food and back to the house before 10am. There is something to be said for 8.00am appointments on your day off.  All clear at the dentist I'm pleased to say. I was round the kitchen like a whirling dervish pulling out things and cleaning behind things. Now I'm a bit exhausted and ready to finish my little egg cosies.
 Embroidery - it's easier to do more than one at once because they are so small.
Adding little froo-froos
Sewing the loops before sewing the four layers together.
Finally cutting the excess away
After sewing the linings the four little designs complete. Just the instructions to finish off and print.
Ben came over on Sunday to play with Will.  They fed the hens and rabbit first. Ben hadn't brought his wellies so we put plastic bags over his shoes. Then they came in and played on Ben's little handheld games console
And when they got bored with that, Ben painted a jar for his Mummy
 and Will practised his yoga hand-stand - it seems to defy gravity.
It's nice to see your babies enjoying themselves!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Time to shake my conifers

Coming towards the end of February is making me feel that time is passing so quickly this year. I can hardly believe that we are nearly into the third month. I know perceptions of time change as you get older but it still comes as a shock. Does time pass more quickly when you’re busy and we are all running around so much that we don’t take time to breath? It seems like old hat to say this but what is the answer? I can’t say I don’t take time for myself because I do - uninterrupted time spent drawing and stitching and even watching television.

As the nights get lighter I’ll be tempted out into the wilderness that is my garden, although at the moment the only fruitful job is to shake the snow from my trees and shrubs

That is not a black and white picture!
 This is my car yesterday - half swept of snow. but the roads were clear.
This was the scene last night - snow going sideways. It took me two hours to get home. It looks like a sprinkling of snow on top of the car but it was actually hail stones that had stuck to the roof.  They had come down so hard that we had to shout to be heard over the noise of ice hitting the car. The A1(M) was at a near standstill and the cars were having to take turns going down a particularly steep section. I am so glad it is my day off today.  I live at the top of a particularly steep hill and no traffic is going by so I'm guessing the road has been closed.

There are some however who love the snow
 Ben on his way to school yesterday. It's shut today and his cousin Grace is coming round to play.
Max loves the snow and Steph had a hard time getting him back in the house.  Ben gave him chicken pox - he has a big blister next to his eye and loads on his body. Ben is recovering now, just a bit scabby!

Will had to walk to work today. He has a BMW which are notorious for being bad in the snow.

So today I'm stitching, strangely enough.
I made an egg cosy at the weekend, this was a tester for the size and today I'm going to make some more with other designs on.
First tracing the designs on to fusible web - I love this stuff and buy it in 5m rolls! My favourite is Heat'N'Bond.
 A little embroidery and cutting out the lining
Trimming away the excess wadding helps the shape. So now on to a little duckling, an egg and maybe some bunting.

I decided to make some more brownies this week for class. Coconut flour brownies won the day with teaspoons of Biscoff. I think I prefer the caramel rather than the Biscoff.
They were incredibly rich - from a lovely book which should really be on the banned list!
I'm having a chocolate free March so I'll either have to bake alternatives or not eat the things I've made. Should be the latter shouldn't it? Perhaps I should put chocolate in every week.

I was asked if I could bring a flower pattern to make for a WI event (?) I remembered the fabric one I made at the Crafts House.  Sandra gave us a wooden pattern and we cut out three papers (and then fabric ones). 
I used some gorgeous liberty fabric given to me by Karen (thank you!).
I cut out petals and stitched them together, adding a little shading to the edges with an ink pad. 
Finally I added a button to the centre and crinkled the petals for a natural look.  I used No Sew fusible web so the petals have some stability.  I don't know whether to take a crocheted flower as well although it is a patchwork and quilting class not a crochet class!
Made from yarn from Toft Alpaca yarn, bought at a wool fair a few years ago. Unfortunately the moths got at the scarf I made. I've got cedar wood in my pure wool stash now.
This one is from linen yarn from Quince and Co.
It became part of some curtain tiebacks but I also made a dress from the same yarn for a knitted rabbit.
The pattern is from Little Cotton Rabbits. She has lovely, lovely patterns and a blog (see my side bar)

Well, after a brief lull the snow is falling again so I'm going to do a few chores and then settle down for a quiet day making egg cosies and stitching down some leaves on my Spring Quilt.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

So many leaves

A little clutter of pieces cut and ready to sew.  I seemed to make an awful hash of cutting one of the blocks - the bouquet of flowers.  I don't know what I was thinking but I certainly wasn't concentrating! 
So - clearing the decks a bit, the last quarter of the quilt is ready to be sewn
It's so important to test the blocks before I print them out.  I often find silly mistakes which slip through the design and print process.
So this is the last quarter pieced.  The little vine is not sewn down but needs to be in place before the next leaf panel is sew on.
So now there are  42 more leaves to make - slight groan. I'm not sure how to treat the centre - should it have a little group of flowers to connect the vines? I'll get the leaves on first.  Then the flowers. I haven't decided whether to put another vine border on yet. 
The quilt is 62" square now but I feel it could do with some more on the length, but not the width. Possibly a panel of little blocks and vines would look good.  I'll have a play on the computer first. After the leaves and flowers are sew on though!  

I was looking through my old posts and realised there was one that was still in the draft box.  It is out of date now but I thought I'd put a couple of the pictures on. Both photos have rather gorgeous subjects!
Will and Alex just about to go to a wedding party in Northumberland, looking very smart.
and carrot cake - moist and spicy, nestled in the tin ready to go to work. I don't often use nuts, but you can't make authentic carrot cake without nuts can you?

Anyhoo. Something with less sugar.

A neighbour gave us some kale this weekend - a rather large branch.  Scruffy the Rabbit likes kale, but so do we! Alex and I had some kale crisps - torn into little pieces, sprinkled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, baked in a medium hot oven for a few minutes - yum.  The difference in time between crispy and burnt is very small so it's important to keep any eye on it, or you have kale cinders.  I like kale cut into little ribbons and added to stews and soups too.  I find it a bit strong for eating as a stand-alone vegetable - unless it's cavalo nero, which is not quite so bitter.  I like to juice it too with apples and cucumber.
So - back to sugar. I made an experimental brownie this week with 'biscuit butter' - like peanut butter but made with caramelised biscuits instead of peanuts.  I think I baked it a bit too long because it wasn't quite a fudgey as it should have been.  Full of butter and chic chips it's not for the faint-hearted. I might make another batch for the ladies at the class. Although the coconut flout brownie is excellent too. Decisions, decisions.  if you want the recipe: - for European tastes it's probably better to leave the cinnamon out or use half a teaspoon. I sometimes use cups and sometimes convert to grams - for instance 6 tablespoons of butter is 85g and it's much easier to weigh it than scoop it in and out of a tablespoon measure! I used my set of cup measures for the rest of the ingredients though.

As Easter approaches a girl's thoughts turn, naturally,  to quilted egg cosies.  I'm experimenting with some designs on the computer first - learning to 'paint' with my design programme - the first attempt at making a plaid is a bit rough to say the least but it's coming on. I'm quite proud of my bunny drawing though.

This wasn't done on the drawing tablet - just the track pad on the lap-top.  I class Wednesdays as my creative day off, so this afternoon will be spent on making leaves and maybe tonight playing with plaids on the computer.

Until next time...