Sunday, 24 May 2015

Slow, slow, stitch,stitch slow

Just to start this 'slow down and enjoy the peace' moment - here is a something to make you smile:

Ben fell asleep in the car on the way back from the shops so John just carried him in a laid him down on the sofa.  He spent a whole hour in one position before he turned over to begin his wake-up sequence. (About ten minutes - no interruptions please).

When our school refurbishment was in the design stage about four years ago, the architect was happily talking about his thoughts for our dining space.  Baked Potato and Pasta Station, Hot Meals, Sandwiches, Grab and Go.  The Head looked over to me and, with one voice, we said NO! No "Grab and Go"  We had both been lamenting the lack of table manners - the students simply didn't know how to use a knife and fork.  They didn't sit and chat with their friends.  They simply pushed their food into their mouths as quick as they could and left. Cue 'The Slow Food Movement'  Cook with love not speed, all sit down and eat together. Socialise and enjoy the food. Now the dining hall is a-buzz with laughter and conversation.  I love it.

So it has been with sewing, most of my life.  I know a lot of the time I like things to be done quickly but I strongly believe that you should enjoy the process as well as the product.  At our Thursday night class we have been following this with our stitching.  I wasn't sure whether everybody would like to make things that took quite a time to finish.  Everyone is free to bring whatever they want but a lot of the ladies are sewing things by hand.  First it was the Angel Wall Hanging and at the moment we are making a Durham Quilt.

I've picked some very simple designs and some more challenging ones for the nine-patch quilt as you go project.
Rose in A Ring above on a soft grey green fabric(and below on the wrong side on a floral design which picks up the front colour even though it's not that obvious from the photo)
 I call this one Dresden Plate - not sure if this is the right name.
This block has different elements but the main shape - the melon shape - is part of the Weardale Chain
 And the shape below is the Weardale Wheel.
You can't have a Durham Quilt without feathers, although I do find them fiddly they are quite beautiful when done.  I know I call it cross hatching but purists call the design square diamonds.
I wanted to introduce the ladies to the delights of quilting without overwhelming them with a Wholecloth design.  These blocks will be trimmed to 18" and sewn together using a nifty method shown to me by Hilary.  I'm working on the next block today - this one will have "scissors" and some roses.

It is half term and I have tomorrow at home(bank holiday), back to work on Tuesday then off Wednesday and Thursday and sadly back to work on Friday. I had intended to have the whole week but it just hasn't worked out that way.

I have a list of things I want to achieve over the week so I'll take lots of pics and I'll be back....

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Three burns and you're out!

I've been a busy busy little bee this weekend and what do I have to show for it? Not much I'm afraid.  The busy little bee was doing the sort of housework I try to avoid (on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor cleaning the bottoms of the cupboards and skirting boards and that sort of thing).  The advantage of being short sighted is that I can't see the cobwebs, grubby marks and dust.  I got new glasses this week and was wearing them round the house to get used to them -  OMG.

I knitted a bit yesterday evening and painted today.  The baby cardigan is coming on well although I have to say I'm never happy with the sewing together bit. There must be a neater way.
I haven't painted for ages and had a lovely time this afternoon sitting with the Spanish Grand Prix for company doing a little heart for a friend at work (well for her niece).

It starts with a piece of MDF
I undercoat with Light Buttermilk and choose the palette (Janet's niece is called Skye so she wanted blue.
 A gentle sand and a buff with some brown paper

The basecoat of colours (I always think it looks really rough at this point until I straighten up all the lines and decorate the edges.

Cue John, Ben and Steph,  so the paints were put out of the way of little fingers and we went to see the chickens and pick some dandelion leaves for Flossie.
The final piece, decorated with dots, lines and little daisies.  (Janet's words not mine!) All done after they went home and while I finished cooking our Sunday meal.  I turned the oven up for the Yorkshire Puddings and put the on the pan of potatoes to parboil.

BURN 1 - THE TEA TOWEL  (Oops left it too close to the gas)

BURN 2 - THE FINGER (Getting the hot pan out of the oven - I have a little Aloe Vera plant on the kitchen window sill - works a treat).

BURN 3 - THE BROCCOLI PAN - while I was decorating the heart I forgot the pan. That is not going to recover as quickly as my finger.

I think this is the time to sit back and watch the last bit of Inspector Montalbano which I recorded last night.  It finishes after my bed time and, since it is in Italian with subtitles I have to watch it.

Another weekend has passed in the blink of an eye. I'll have to draw out the pattern for Thursday's class tomorrow after work.  I missed doing my quilting this weekend but the house is sparkling. Well, relatively speaking, and I can always take my glasses off.

Until next week xxxx

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Loving all the stitching

It's a cold, rainy bank holiday weekend.  Well it was ok yesterday but today (Sunday) it is pouring down.  I thought I'd blog today before the house awakens fully.  I love Sunday mornings because I still get up early but I have a couple of hours complete peace and quiet to stitch.  This morning I have been adding more rows to a jumper for Max.
It's a lovely shade of baby blue.  I'm doing this in the second size so he should be wearing it by Christmas. I love this knitting yarn - it has a lovely soft drape. Also on my needles are some bootees:
I think this is the third attempt to get them the right size.  They are made in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino but when I knitted the first bootee I missed out some of the rows (note to self - READ the pattern properly) The second attempt would have been big enough to fit an elephant. I consulted my friend and expert knitter Barbara, from Ring-a-Rosie and she suggested smaller needles (although I do knit quite tight anyway). This rendition is on 2.5mm because I didn't have any smaller. they look better so far.

We had the Baby Shower last Saturday in the conservatory of a local pub.
This is Steph (33 weeks) just about to cut the cake.  It was delicious but I have to say the design was quite weird.  It was half a baby lying on the cake. The only way to cut it was to either chop its legs off or to cut it through its little bot. In the end Steph dismembered it by removing the legs. Totally bizarre! Lucky it tasted so good.

Of course I have done the usual and given away a quilt without doing final photos.  So here is a quick look at the detail and I'll get Steph to photo it in situ.

When I'm quilting in the Durham Style I usually use multiple needles.  I find this keeps the back from getting annoying ripples.
I used the fabric as inspiration for the appliqué panel - there are four elephants - this is Daddy. The elephant fabric has a lovely soft sheen and is perfect for a baby quilt.  I have done a pattern for it which I will publish when Max is born. Squeak - a grandma for the second time.

On my hoop at the moment is the start of a nine block Durham Quilt for my Thursday night class.  Hilary showed me a nifty way to sew pre-quilted blocks together.  It's a technique I don't normally use but it works well this way.  The front is a soft grey green and the back is a lovely gentle floral.
This block will be a simple feathered circle with cross-hatching (or if Lilian Hedley is reading I'll wash my mouth out with soap and water - Durham Quilting calls it Square Diamonds).  Each block will measure 18" and the quilt will measure 54" finished.  I'll keep you up to date with the progress.

The Thursday night class is just about full now. I'm going to have to be super organised as one of my team at work is going to be off for an extended period and we are going to have to take on extra tasks to cover.  She does a a fantastic job on some very confidential matters and is one of those people who works quietly away without complaint.

Baking - well I have been baking away - I think a chocolate sandwich (family favourite) will be on the cards today.  Again I'm bad at taking pictures - partly because the kitchen looks like a disaster scene when I'm done on a Thursday night.  Here is a raspberry and white chocolate cupcake from a couple of weeks ago.
Yum. We had cheese scones this week - I'n not the greatest scone maker in the family.  John makes much lighter scones than I do. I thought it would be a change from sweet stuff and I was low on caster sugar anyway.

So for the rest of today I'm going to be doing some work I have brought home - fuelled by my little pot of sweeties and plenty of coffee.
I'm afraid the tumble dryer is going to be working overtime today.  I want to get everything cleared so that I can have a day of peace and stitching/gardening depending on the weather tomorrow.

Wishing you a good bank holiday!