Sunday, 13 December 2015

Seven down - one to go

I've been stitching stockings almost in my sleep this week but I'm please to say I only have Max's to finish binding.  I went to bed last night at eleven (late for me!) leaving a neat little stack on the ironing board, knowing that I had only a few more things to complete on the stockings:
All the embroidery was finished and the decorative buttons sewn on.  By tea time today they looked like this:
After tea I sewed on the hanging loops made from some lovely ribbon I got at High Street Quilting.
So sorry about the naff quality of the pictures - the light has been so bad this weekend (apart from first thing this morning when I was driving to the shops when the sun was shining directly in my eyes).  So now all I have to do is the binding on Max's stocking which I haven't cut yet.  It can wait now though - I still have a few days to finish that.

I decided to give up on the Attic 24 Crochet-Along.  When I was buying the yarn at Ring-a-Rosie, Barbara said she thought she wouldn't make this one because she didn't like the way the colours joined together unevenly.  I tried my best but she was right. It was ugly.
So I have started on something else:

Same colours but a ripple pattern.The first row is always a bit of an unknown but once I had the second row under my belt the pattern was easy to follow.  I've never done one like this before so I'm enjoying the gentle rhythm. This will be a lap blanket or possibly longer if I have enough yarn.

We've had a strange eating pattern this weekend so the beef that I roasted this afternoon is going to be for tea tomorrow.  This is probably due to the fact that I didn't have any food in the house except pasta and tuna because the weather stopped me going out shopping yesterday. Will scoffed the remainder this afternoon - plus some of the mince pies which were destined for a meeting tomorrow at work. Shhh! - they'll never know! The snow arrived but is almost melted away now and I can hear the  pitter pat of rain against the window now.

I baked some little Santa Hat cupcakes for class on Thursday which were quite cute although they would have looked better with the more triangular English strawberries - but summer and winter seasons preclude that, sadly.

Can you tell they are red velvet cakes?
Sorry Karen - hope you are feeling better......

When we were making our Durham Quilts, Elizabeth - who is the only quilter I know that works in metric -  decided to do a miniature version 

Those little squares are about an inch across and the snowball blocks are three inches. It looks beautiful.

Sooooo -  only one more week at work and then I'm off for two weeks. My colleague is coming back after nearly seven months of illness and treatment (she was hoping to be back after six weeks but things were worse than thought). I'm so glad she is on the mend now though and will be handing back her work on a phased return over the following six weeks.

Under my bright work light tonight I will be continuing to crochet the ripple blanket - next line will be lime green - the colours more than make up for the dreary light conditions we are having. But just now I am going to put an ice-pack on my poor overworked hand.

Have a good week everyone.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Progress on the stocking order - oh and Freddy Kruger Snowcakes

After a day with the baby boys yesterday (Steph in York Christmas shopping and John patching rugby players up, Will out somewhere - he doesn't share the details like the others) I was looking forward to a day with my stocking order.  I finished the embroidery on Max's stocking yesterday evening:
Steph asked for one which has a Christmas pudding on it.  This design is from one of my favourite books - the Night Before Christmas from Nancy Halvorsen. The background fabric is a bit busier than my normal choice but I absolutely love the little designs on it. I have it in green and pink. Gorjuss!!

This morning I had a little trip out to get some cellophane for a hamper I'm making to raffle at work for the PTA. Yeah, okay I bought a bit more than cellophane but hey ho. I visited a cake supplies shop for food dye and holly leaf cutters and a little place that does laser cutting just to see if I can get some bulk strawberry labels. Yes I can.  So, in between chores and - "can you give me a hand cleaning out the cupboard under the stairs" (yes if it means I don't have to put my hand in to steady the contents before I open the door), I fused the shapes on to the stocking fronts:

So now they are ready to be transformed with some buttonhole stitches and names before making them up.  I've layered them on to the wadding so they're ready for stitching when I get home from work. I hate starting from scratch when I get home so it makes sense to prepare everything so that I can just pick it up and start - without having to get loads of things out (and put them away!)

Two more weeks at work and I'll be off for a fortnight - yippee!! My colleague who has been off work since May will be coming back after Christmas which is great for two reasons - she is getting better and I'll be able to concentrate on my own work. I feel like I've been herding cats for the past six months.

It was great to get back to the quilt class at High Street Quilting last Thursday - I've missed two weeks due to work commitments and we had a nice quiet evening all sitting round the same table, sharing problems and solutions, laughing at silly things and putting the world to rights. There is something so comforting about sharing our lives and creating things that you don't get anywhere else. There is a such a feeling of trust that you can bare your heart and know that the others will understand, help or just listen. Better than any psychotherapy. (is that the right spelling?)

So where does Freddy Kruger come into this I hear you ask?  Well, I found some chocolate carrot decorations in the supermarket and decided to make some Snowmen Cupcakes. I thought they would look nice with a smiley face but whoooaa - even Will jumped back and said - leave the smiles out, it'll traumatise the ladies - I took his advice:
Will very kindly stepped in to eat the offending cakes - so considerate my boys are.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

So many stockings.......

Due to a chance conversation I seem to have found myself with an order for six Christmas stockings to be completed before the middle of December.  This will test whether I stitch for pleasure whatever the item.  I'm nervous to find out though.  I would love to make a full time business of this but will I buckle under the time constraints?  I'll let you know.
It was our Christmas Fair at school yesterday so I have only had a half day 'off' this weekend by the time I'd cooked and cleaned and shopped today.  This afternoon I got out my trusty mdf stocking shape and, while watching a rather boring final F1 race I cut out the six shapes, plus one for Max
Next I'll cut a cuff (for the names). The applique shapes are all traced (all different) but they will have to wait until tomorrow to be ironed on to the stockings before being layered with wadding. I'll make six of them without binding but Max's will be bound to match Ben's,  although he is having a gingerbread man on his, together with a Christmas Pudding. His great grandma calls him 'Pudding' so it will be quite apt.

This is him in his teddy suit - he's already too long for his play gym.
 But at last he is turning over - much later than Ben.
And, exhausted from the effort he fell asleep with his teddy.
At five and a half months he is just about growing out of 9-12 months clothes. I'm not used to such a big baby.  My two were like runty baby rabbits and Ben was a skinny little thing too. 

For the fair I made some Christmas pudding shaped 'bean bags' (actually dried chick peas that were well out of date)

Sorry about the awfully blurry photos - these were all taken at night. There was a slight miscommunication between me and the art teacher - she made a four foot high Christmas Tree with holes in thinking I was making snowballs. On the plus side we'll do a 4 foot Santa with a gap to throw the puddings into his sack for next year and I'll be one step ahead!

I've been making a cover for my iPad so that I had something reasonably mindless to do when I needed to switch off.  It is actually finished but I'll have to wait until next time to get some daylight to take the photos.
Daylight is in short supply at the moment - even in the middle of the day. The weather has been awful and I seem to have a leak in the sun-lounge.  I think the gutters are overflowing with the heavy rainfall and water has found its way behind the flashing. It's so windy though I doubt if a roofer will look at it at the moment. The telly signal is flashing off and on as the rain hits the satellite dish sideways and in a moment I'm going to turn it off.

I'm looking forward to my Thursday night classes resuming after a two week break due to work commitments. I haven't got a pattern written yet but have a simple design for some table mats, half in my head and half down on paper. That'll be the first thing to do this week. 

Have a good week and don't spend too much money on Christmas presents! I've just bought my first - rather early for me!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Apple Crumble

Not what you would think - I've had a nightmare week with my laptop.  I had to reset something on my apple password at work and when I came to log on to my laptop it wouldn't recognise old new, newer or any password or swear-word.  It wouldn't connect to the internet to update the passwords... from Tuesday until Saturday morning I tried everything I knew until boom! Back it came.  I hadn't realised Apple was so secure until I tried to reset things. I still have one more problem to sort out but I'm heartily sick of keychains and IDs and security questions and glad to be back online.  I think it is all connected with the firewalls at school- I have a works iPad which somehow got linked to my personal things. I have a million different passwords - maybe I should only have one. My countdown to Christmas diet suffered a bit on Thursday night when I comfort ate a large ham sandwich and some muesli bar that I'd baked for the quilting ladies but I'm back on track again although I could kill for some real apple crumble now I come to think of it.

Anyhoo - the crochet blanket (oh dear):
First square is too small.  This is not blocked so looks a very lopsided, but even if I tried to block it I couldn't get it to be 16" - so it's back to the drawing board.

I haven't got a 4.5mm crochet hook so I am making a looser one on the 4mm.  If this doesn't work I'm switching to the Granny Blanket!

My quilty mind is veering towards all things Christmas partly fuelled by a purchase
These are a bit big for what I had in mind but I've done a pattern for bunting with various cookie cutter designs but I have something else in mind for these and more to do with quilting than biscuits.

Yesterday morning I went to the dentist - on the way from the station (I usually get the Metro into town) I have to pass Lakeland.  Don't go in there, really don't go in there...... but my feet weren't listening, so I came out with these:

Again - I'm not thinking biscuits - they are just the right size for buttons, so I will dig out my Fimo modelling clay and see what happens.

We have a severe weather warning out today but it's 3pm and nothing horrible has happened yet.  We will probably get the storms just in time to knock the satellite signal out when I want to watch the F1 race!

Will went for a quick ride on his bike today to blow away some cobwebs before the rain came - it is 16 degrees in the middle of November and he only wore a T-shirt - how strange that looks. He was out celebrating his birthday last night so has been very quiet today! He did manage to make himself a hearty breakfast whilst I was out shopping. It's marvellous how bacon and eggs can steady the stomach after a heavy night.

I'm pleased to report that Max's tummy is back to full health, but now he, Ben and Steph have a cold.  I excused myself from seeing them so I don't catch anything but I have to say my week has been poorer for not seeing any of my babies.

3 hours later................

Yes the satellite signal went off about 90 second before the Brazilian Grand Prix was due to start. I got it up online but sadly it was very boring. It did however, allow me to concentrate on my second block which came out bigger, but still not big enough. I think I will carry on though.  I can add a bigger border or just have a slightly smaller blanket. As a quilter I think the join marks are pretty naff and I might darn over the top to hide the uneven bits.  I really hope it steams out straight though - it looks really wibbly wobbly and I find that quite hard on the eye.  I think I'll steam this block before I do any more just to check!
I can't say anything about what has happened in Paris which sickens and disgusts me. I'm just holding my loved ones, my friends and family close to my heavy heart.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Double Dip Sock Weather

What a week!  Poor little Max had had a severe tummy bug and had to be admitted to hospital for two days.  Poor little mite just kept being sick - couldn't keep anything down. Coupled with a really bad dose of diarrhoea which left him dehydrated he was in great discomfort.  Luckily he's back home and on the road to recovery - lucky too that he is quite a chunky boy so he had something to fall back on.  Everyone is worn out.  Ben had a dose of jippy tummy on holiday but we're not sure if that was the same bug.  He came over this afternoon to show me his new coat.

He loves Thomas the Tank Engine as much is his Daddy and Uncle Will did when they were little and now Ben is eating from the little dishes that they used to eat from!

Well I haven't done a great deal of crafting this weekend because I 'lost' a whole day sorting out birthday presents for my two lovely boys and covering at the clinic while Steph nursed her poorly Max.

Yesterday afternoon and this afternoon I have been happily sorting through my Stylecraft yarn ready for the Attic 24 crochet along Part 2.  I had already made the centre squares:
Some taken in bad daylight and some with a flash.  (The flash pictures are truer colours). I'm leaving some at the sunflower centre stage because I am going on a long train journey next week so I wanted something small to take with me. I completed eight centre squares.

Last night I sorted out the colours I wanted to use - autumny shades - my favourites!

Then I wound some yarn into cakes. I may have to get some more 'Grape' and 'Camel' but should have enough of the other colours.  I think I only bought five colours in the end because I had plenty left from my blanket last year.

I've put the little colour pegs into a box so that everything is ready to go.... I think I'll put the colours in order in the little box as I do each square.

Late this afternoon I made a start - the anticipation has been overwhelming!

I've made a start but (tssk, I can't help myself) I'm doing the pattern slightly different from Lucy's.  She is using a variation of the original Log Cabin Quilt Block (Courthouse Steps) but I wanted to used the original setting.  I'm going to set it out to make an eight pointed star when all the blocks are finished. Instead of using 16 colours (plus the centre square) in each block I will only be using eight colours.  This is where I'm up to:

There'll be more before I go to bed because I can't keep my hands away from the yarn!

There hasn't been a huge pile of clothes to wash this week.  Much more than in the summer but much less than in the deep winter.  What I have noticed is what I call double dip sock weather.  When it gets cold Will wears two pairs of socks.  In the deepest winter weather he wears three pairs. I got him some long johns one year for a joke and he immediately asked for more. When it gets to Triple Dip sock weather you know it's time to break out the long johns. That makes for a lot of washing! 21 pairs of work socks every week. Let's hope we don't have a triple dip winter eh?

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Pumpkin patch

From this
 To this (low calorie pumpkins)
and this,
  to this - rather higher calorie pumpkin cake.
A little bit of orange fabric to a squishy stuffed pumpkin for a friend and from a fresh pumpkin (which strangely photographed white when it was bright orange) to pumpkin whoopie pies filled with marscapone and maple syrup cream.  Yes it's Hallowe'en.

Sometimes we get one or two callers and other times (like last night) we got loads and I ran out of sweeties. One of the little groups of witches that knocked on the door had a cauldron full of sweets - maybe twenty or so packets.  I did ask her if she had a good dentist but she just gave me a black look.  I bet there were loads of children across the country bouncing off walls last night.

Karen finished her Making Merry Wallhanging this week - her stitching is beautiful:
And Archana continued with her Durham quilt - stitching the blocks together - here she is lining up the blocks - this is her first hand quilting and I am so impressed with the quality of her work - it is going to look beautiful.  She made 12 blocks and is going to do an 8" border as well.
So today - hot off the press is the appliqué version of the Making Merry Quilt
The same, but different this is in Scandi colours and matches in with some other Christmassy its that Steph and I have done.  It will look perfect in her sitting room. I have to say I prefer the appliqué version myself, although the colours that the ladies have done for their stitchery versions are lovely too.  Perhaps mine was a bit pale.

I love the little stockings panels

I started the Attic 24 crochet along challenge this afternoon - with a mistake. Poop. I will have to unpick this and start again but since it is in two shades of dark brown I will have to wait until I can do some daylight work (which effectively means next weekend).  I made 11 mid brown petals instead of 12 which only showed when there weren't enough gaps for the yellow petals.  I am doing a sunflower rather than the one that Lucy is doing because my colours are more autumny. I got a few balls from Raing-a-Rosie to make for a better mix,  but I still have loads left from last year's challenge. I've never done group of stitches with six loops on the hook before but once you get the rhythm it is quite easy. I'll just have to remember to count the stitches before I change colour.
So that's all my news for this week. Until you read me again - stay safe.