Monday, 26 August 2013

A little dotty in my old age

A girl can never have too many dots.  To me, dotty things are jolly, a bit girly, they make me smile.  I don't have loads and loads of dotty fabric but I do enjoy buying the odd fat quarter.  I think my last dotty outing though was for Ben's Tumbling Block Quilt.

When I was blog-hopping I saw a crochet hook with a wooden dotty handle which I have filed in the recesses of my mind to keep an eye out for.  But it got me thinking that it would be quite nice to have some dotty pegs to make you smile when you hang out your washing. As I happen to have a few in my 'to do, but I don't know what or when, collection I took some to the Hill on Saturday morning.  This is the result:

Didn't that make you smile?  Actually I painted six but one fell of and rolled under the sofa just before I took the picture.  I think I'll make a set for Steph.  They live in a flat at the moment (until next weekend!!) and they have to either tumble dry their washing or hang it on airers in the flat, or bring it up to the washing line of Mammy.  I will make a peg bag too because wooden pegs don't like getting wet. I'm one of those annoying people that leave the pegs on the line.  Actually dolly pegs aren't that great for hanging washing but who cares when they look this pretty.

Yesterday I was quietly minding my own business, doing a bit of stitching, watching the Belgian Grand Prix, when I got a guilt pang and went down to see how John was getting on.  He was finishing the tiling over the bath - yes they have a bathroom now.  I did a bit of pottering for him - passing things, plugging in, sweeping etc.  By 6.30pm it was a bit late to be hammering and drilling so we tidied the sitting room ready to be painted.  

I went and got a nutritious chicken fried rice and took it round to the flat. Steph packed up a couple of portions and went off to join John and the paint pot. I settled down to watch the end of the Great British Bake Off and Vera, but fell asleep half way through and have no idea who 'did it'.

John has put new skirting board in the bedroom, fitted the kitchen, tiled the bathroom and is going to lay the floor in the sitting room as soon as they get it painted.  The carpets are being fitted on the stairs and in the bedrooms on Thursday and they plan to move in at the weekend.  I'm so proud of how hard John has worked.  Thanks to the delights of YouTube he has been able to see how to do all sorts of DIY and he has taken such pains to do it right.  They got the keys for the house at the end of June.  It was a complete wreck and he has been working nearly every evening and all the weekends since to make a home for the three of them. Makes my heart swell!  I'm looking after Ben today so that they can get on with the final push.

Sewing! What have I been sewing?  Well I'm nearly finished one thing:

Finished picture coming soon! 

I'm ready to quilt the top we made at school for our first donation to 'Quilts for Comfort'.  There's a tab at the top of this page with instructions on how to make this quilt.

The light wasn't too good when I took this picture.  It's much brighter than it looks here.  It will be my last major thing before work starts in earnest after the Summer Hols and the building works at school.  Oh joy.

Until next time, keep safe.

Monday, 19 August 2013

It's official - quilting is good for your soul

I don't seem to have spent much time on things that I have planned this week. John and Steph's house is reaching a critical point so I have been spending a lot of spare time with them at the house or baby-sitting while they work on the house in the evenings. The plumber is due today to put the bathroom in. John and I have been putting together the kitchen which will always look awful until the last minute.

The wall units on one wall, the new boiler and the start of the units along the wall with all the pipes. This room had thick wallpaper with really dark patterns on.

Just making sure he's not throwing out anything important - check out the bright green wall.  Most of the house was bright green, blue or orange but had been on for years so really, really, didn't look modern and vibrant.  Steph is painting everything white and cream until they have lived with it for a while then going on to different colour schemes.  The house looks twice the size with the newly plastered and decorated rooms.  I didn't get home until nearly ten last night which is my my Sunday blog is on Monday morning!

I was at the dentist on Tuesday so naturally I visited the wool shop. (Not for consolation - I have a lovely dentist)

This might seem an odd choice of colours until you see what I had in mind for them:

I had painted some beehives for a garland but couldn't decide what to string it all together with.  Since I have been making crochet flowers I decided to give it a try.  This is the result:

On my quest to make little stocking fillers I have made a couple more face cleaners.  I want to be able to use something with natural fibres that looks pretty.  I stumbled across the idea of using coaster patterns but with finer yarn.  These are some of the ones I have tried:

This is using Patons 4ply in cream - I added a little chain at the back to slip your fingers through.

The pink and green are made from  Quince and Co linen yarn.

And the sunflower is made from Rowan Glace Cotton.  They make up quickly and are good little projects to carry around.  I'll put together a page with the pattern on when I have perfected it.

I've been working at home for a couple of weeks now and have found it strangely depressing.  At home I should be doing my things, not work things. By the time the weekend came I was feeling pretty low.  Saturday mornings on the Hill always perk me up though. I love seeing what everyone is doing and chatting with the lovely ladies. I finished the key holder:

When I came home on Saturday afternoon I took up my needle and started quilting.  It must be like opium because I started to drift into a world where only the rhythm of my needle mattered.  

I'm free quilting this one so the stitching is a bit wobbly but I love it and can hardly put it down.  I might even post a picture of the finished thing next week.  I am going to stop work dead on 4pm today and stitch while the light is still good because I everyone needs to have some soul time.  I hope you can make time for yours this week.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Coming up for air

John has been busy in his bathroom - this is the first time he has tiled and he has made a pretty good job of it.  He's quite proud of his efforts.  He does his research and then gets down to it, but takes his time.  A lesson for us all I think.  I am the worst one for starting something in a mad rush and then wishing I had taken more time to plan.  The plumber is coming over on Thursday to fit the whiteware.  The kitchen is in its boxes in the living room and he will be starting to assemble that this week.  It's very exciting to see a house being transformed.  It was unbelievably manky when they first bought it but it has been stripped down and they have systematically worked through it.  Steph has painted all the bedrooms and is starting on the hall and landing.  They only have three weeks left in the flat but they will be able to move in once the bathroom and kitchen are done. Oh and the flooring will need to be done too. They are putting wood on the ground floor and getting carpets in the bedrooms. It makes me tired just thinking about it!  They are just about skint too - all that hard saving goes in a flash.

We took a trip to B & Q to get some screws and more paint.  Ben loves being in the trolley - he just giggles all the time.

We had a quick lunch in the garden centre and then went for a look at the fishes.  Guess what they were putting up?  Santa's Grotto - at the beginning of August!  We had paninis and Ben had a bread roll and fell asleep a few minutes later.  If only they knew how good that is - I could have done the same myself.

This weekend I have been working on the key holder for the new house:

I painted a heart and shaded the layers of the beehive with some Light Hauser Green.  Next I added some die-cut shapes - a butterfly, another heart and some little flowers as well as a postage stamp.  The edges are shaded with Deep Periwinkle.  Next I got the stamps out and put on some letters, franks (as in postage franking) and some flowers.  I had to wait for ages for these to dry.

I added some quotations along the layers  and some words on the 'doorway'. I haven't glued the buttons on yet because I want to do some embossing which will have to wait until next weekend now, but it's coming on and I have thoroughly enjoyed making this.

This is an example of the original colours which I snapped when we were painting yesterday.  It's a bit blurred but you can get the drift. Home is where you hang your heart.

This week I also made some bags for "Beads of Courage" to add to the mammoth amount that was made on the 'Big Sew' at the Crafts House a couple of Tuesdays ago.  The target is 200 and everybody is pitching in to reach that.  This particular one was made by Sylvia who is one of the stalwarts of the brigade.

Another passion at the moment is crocheting (more comfortable than quilting in the hot weather). I would like to make some face cloths, with the lovely linen yarn I have, for Christmas presents so have been experimenting with patterns.  I got a ball of Patons 4ply cotton which seems to last forever. Ben is testing the different styles for me.  This is the latest:

I think I only made one mistake on this but would like to perfect the start of rows as there seems to be rather large holes on some of them. I think they should make lovely stocking fillers. Not so many people use facecloths now but I think the linen will make a lovely body rub.  Natural fibres are much nicer than those plastic scrubbies and much kinder to the environment.

On the smoothie front this is the yellow part of the 'Rainbow'  I added some coconut shards to the mango and pineapple to make it especially tropical.

I didn't notice how pitted my tumblers are (from the dishwasher) until I started taking these pictures. I had the first glass yesterday and the second for my breakfast this morning.  You can get through some calories with the fruity versions.  The green ones are okay though and make me feel very virtuous in mind and body.  I love raw vegetables.  The Swiss Chard is growing like mad at the moment but I had to buy some cabbage. The Jerusalem artichokes are doing very well as usual but there are far too many and not everyone likes them.  (We call them fartichokes).

Finally, before the light fades completely and I can't see to type, here is a sneak preview of something I am working on.

But, as Scott of the Antarctic said, "I may be some time".  I'm not quite back to the grind next week as I am working from home but no more sitting about staring into space.  I have come up for air and I'm still floating.  Have a good week everyone.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Not much achieved, Gladys

This week I seem to have a Time Nibbler sitting on my shoulder.  This is the week I'm on holiday (hence the storms yesterday after weeks of warm weather) but I don't seem to have achieved very much at all.  Alison (aka Mavis) and I spent our usual happy Saturday morning on 'the hill' painting.  I am making up one of my beehive key holders for Steph and John's new house. I've been searching for the original one I made for a friend in typical beehive colours but mustn't have taken a photo.  This is the start of the latest one which is in muted creams, pinks and greens so far. I started by base-coating with buttermilk and then streaking some soft pinks and grey/greens across the surface.  Then I used some sequin waste as a stencil for some watered-down grey which I highlighted with full strength paint. I will be adding lots more things - words, embellishments and other goodies.  This is as far as I got and things have gone downhill since.

John rang to ask if I could look after Ben while they did some work in the house. Below is a dusty boy seeking advice on how to lay floor tiles...

The tiling continued on Sunday so Ben came over for a few hours. He wasn't impressed with what was on the telly, so we switched it off and played with his toys, went for a walk and slept soundly for an hour.

Then we all went to Ikea for a spot of lunch and some kitchen shopping. John had designed it all out but wanted it checked and they couldn't do it whilst we were there because of the huge queue of people wanting to do the same thing. Ahh, the joys of sharing Sunday afternoons with the Great British Public. 

Steph and I made an appointment for Monday at 4pm but were halfway through proceedings when we had to evacuate the store because, ironically, the rain had set the fire alarms off.  We had to walk all the way round the back of the store in the pouring rain.  In our summer sandals.  In a temper..... this was the exit road.  We had to leave because Ben needed to have tea and get ready for bed (me too Ben, me too). 

So I finished the job all by myself this morning and it will be delivered to their new house on Friday, all 96 packages.

I have been making more smoothies this week in my effort to eat a rainbow. I'd already had green. This was red:

Frozen fruit is good - raspberries are my favourite - this was ultra-yummy.

I loved the orange version but John thought it was horrid.  He didn't like the raw sweet potato (which I often munch on).

John made purple last night but I didn't get a snap of the ingredients (beetroot, rainbow chard, cucumber, lime and ginger).

The ginger was eye-watering so we used a whole cucumber to soften the blow. I think perhaps beetroot is better from the juicer because it was quite a lot to swallow in the end! For the purists I will not be doing separate indigo and violet - the purple will have to suffice.

Tonight I am going to make 'yellow' with some pineapple and mango which was going cheap in Asda today.  I also have some blueberries for (strangely enough) the blue smoothie.  The green is awesome though. I think I'll do a green one most days. I have loads of bits in the garden that will do. They are also incredibly filling compared with juiced fruit and vegetables so although it seems a bit expensive when you put in things like a whole cucumber or pepper it is really a meal in itself.

I dropped my the iron again yesterday - naff design - the tank comes loose if you pick it up wrong and it jumps out of your hands and crashes to the ground. Luckily the only things that have broken are the bits of plastic that you wind the cord round.  It still works.  Unfortunately that tipped me over the edge and I was on my hands and knees mopping up water and snivelling piteously that the Time Nibbler had something against me this week.

Well it was third time lucky with the trip to Ikea, the larder is full and now I am going to boot that Time Nibbler firmly up the jacksie.  I have some serious stitching to do and it starts now.