Sunday, 30 September 2018

I wasn't planning to go - honestly!

You don't need to need something to get it do you? That was the argument I used to persuade myself to go to Yarndale after I'd promised myself I didn't need any new yarn. There are plenty of half finished things to complete before I buy anything else. Yeah, right, that argument would never work.
Driving home from work on Friday night I made the decision I would go to Yarndale.  So I set out at 7.45am so that I could arrive and park in the car park at Skipton Auction Mart. About halfway down I realised I had forgotten to pick up any cash, so I went into Skipton to find a cash machine because I couldn't remember seeing one at the Mart. That made my arrival about 10.15 instead of 9.45 and the car park was full.  I went into the overflow and resigned myself to an uphill, downhill walk. Surprise, surprise they have put on a free bus!

When I arrived and joined the queue I saw a notice that said only advance tickets were being let in at 10am. Not only did I have to pay £15 on the door (twice what I paid when I first went) I had to wait until 11am to go in by which time it was very crowded. Never mind it was still brilliant.
A huge river of poppies flowed across the entrance hall, added to the familiar crocheted bunting from previous years.
And the only free space was in the sheep pens
Exmoor Horn Sheep with their lovely thick coats of soft wool. There were Shetland Sheep and Angora Rabbits too.  The whole operation is enormous now with buses ferrying people between car parks and Skipton centre, Street Food Vendors in addition to the on-site restaurant, hundreds of people from all over the world, selling beautiful (oh so expensive though) wools and accessories.  There was a big stand with Scheepjes yarns and their bloggie people. I was hoping to see Matt from a Boy and Bunting but he wasn't there and by 1pm I had spent all my money and was feeling very weary.

I stopped off for an ice cream at Billy Bob's just a few miles away and then took the wrong turning and had to go on a single track for about six miles before having the choice of taking a long way back to where I started or returning on the single track because the road was closed at Bolton Abbey. I chose the long way round and didn't get home until 5pm - too exhausted to even get my lovely purchases out of the bag.

So what did I get?  The intention was four fold
  1. Get some yarn and dyes to try my hand at producing my own colours (tick)
  2. Get some additions for my multi-coloured long term hexagon blanket (tick)
  3. Have a malted vanilla milk-shake at Billy Bob's (tick)
  4. Get a replacement 3mm crochet hook (tick)
The only extra thing I got was a ball of yarn as an experiment to make a soft cotton blanket with a single, but variegated yarn in blues and greens and mauves. 
I quickly experimented with some solid granny squares

and then decided that I needed to be a bit more savvy about this pattern and how I was going to make the blanket in a queue with other projects. I quite often start things and then forget which size hook I was using or lose the pattern. I tried three different methods and found the one I wanted to use. I found a little note-file I'd made a few years ago complete with a set of index cards and wrote down the pattern and noted the hook size. I just need to sort a project bag for this.

For quite some time I've been wanting to dye my own yarn and was really pleased to be able to get a starter kit - to dip my feet in so to speak, without going to too much expense.

The base yarn I chose is High Twist Merino which is lovely and soft and has an interesting texture, twisted around. I'm going to go for a red shade if I can, hopefully it will be a little variegated. It has been hard to find many reds which go with my hexagon blanket.  

I found the Natural Dye Studio yarn at the first Yarndale I visited and fell in love with it. It was really hard to get as they dyed small batches and put them up for sale on their website. They were nearly always sold out within minutes, literally. They stopped dyeing yarn a couple of years ago sadly and I have found nothing to match the beauty of their muted but rich colours. A stall I discovered this year has come the closest so far. The ones I bought at the show were Baby Camel and silk which is a bit softer than the Natural Dye Studio classics but I have high hopes for the 100% merino.
So after nearly sleeping the clock round last night - 9pm to 7.45am, then crocheting and watching F1 this afternoon I feel the weekend has been a joy!

Will and Alex have been round today - they took possession of the keys to their first home this week and are excited and nervous about the next couple of months. It's a big house, not a starter home, so it will accommodate whatever plans they have for the future. It is so lovely seeing them happily chatting about what they are going to do. They have very different tastes but they are both very flexible.  Ahh, my babies.

So this Monday is the first Monday of our new work regime where I bring things home to do. No Monday morning journey, no telephone. I'm so looking forward to it - I know I'll be doing some work  but it will be so flexible. I'll be working on a pattern for the Thursday night class and shopping for a jigsaw for Ben's birthday. He's 6 tomorrow - 6 years old!!!

I'll be blogging soon about our Macmillan week which was really hard work, making caramel sauce at 10pm after a 9 hour shift and cooking brownie at 6am, but a truly worthy cause.  Millionaire's Shortbread was the most popular. Yum. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

An unexpected finish

Sometimes quilts seem to hang about for ages.  This is especially true for quilts that start off as demo quilts and then have to make way for a new design. Working full time means quilting time is precious and shorter than I'd like. Sound familiar?  Such a quilt is the Sands of Time. I made the block as a demo. It was called Sands of Time because the pieced block is an hourglass.  The addition of squares allows the eye to make more patterns - an eight pointed start and another shape I don't know the name of. It looks like two sweetie wrappers.
The easiest one to see is all yellow - count two squares from the bottom left  and two squares from up from that
I pulled the quilt from my 'pile' when I was looking for something else (ha - can't even remember what that was now!). I thought I'd do a bit more quilting because it seemed quite close to being finished. And now it is!

I didn't have anything to bind it so I just sewed some brightly coloured strips together which has turned out more interesting than a single coloured binding.  This and two more are destined for Quilts for Comfort. 
When I was looking for the binding fabric I came across two mini quilt tops that were ready to be quilted
A black and white collection and a pretty flowery collection. 42  two and a half inch squares in each little packet stitch up to a 14" x 12"quilt - perfect for a table mat.  Such a small project is perfect for sewing by hand.  It is much easier to match the seams when sewing by hand.
You can also get the seams to lie flat.  These just required a bit of wadding and backing

I haven't quilted the coloured one yet - maybe criss cross would look nice. It's sitting underneath my laptop at the moment.

John is on holiday this week so I get Wednesday afternoon off. (Thursday evening too as Hilary is away and there is not class). It's quiet in the clinic without him there. At the moment he is nursing a cold - how often does that happen - you take a week off work and spend the first half feeling grotty? I should be able to get some sorting out done on Wednesday though. I bought a couple of little storage units from Ikea yesterday in an effort to tame my collection of yarn and fabric.  My house is starting to look like one of those reality hoarder programmes on the telly. 

Well I better get going to work or I'll hit the traffic - it's raining which always slows things down.

Until next time. xx

Thursday, 13 September 2018

All about the Brain this week

It aches. Oh how it aches. I think all my neural pathways are turning into cul-de-sacs. Or should that be culs-de-sac? See how it is this week. After a major meltdown of the server at work (now a new one in place) during which we were without any idea of who was coming in, (bless all of them for their patience) -  it took three days and quite a large sum of money to get back up and running.  We're there now. I can't imagine what it must have been like when the NHS system went belly-up. Luckily we had back-up systems in place.....

Maybe last night wasn't the time to write instructions for a new pattern. But I did. Great, one thing ticked off the list.
When I got up this morning I read it over and realised that I'd calculated the amounts for a double bed not a single. I couldn't get my head round it this morning but I think I've cracked it now. The pattern and my brain. I hope no-one asks me to rub my belly and pat my head anytime soon as I'll probably implode.

I need to sit in a dark corner and rock just now. Or I could sew some more leaves on to the Spring Quilt. That sounds like a much better idea.
 A little caterpillar of pink 'berries'
all sewn in place - just another dozen or so to do and a few leaves and I'll be ready to layer up. It might in be ready for next Spring!

I've been browsing through my pictures of the things that the class has done recently
Karen made this quilt top in double time for her son ready - it's ready to be layered and quilted
 Joanne is making a quilt for a baby with lovely soft pinks and greys.
This by Karen was from another class but she brought it along to show us.  Her work is stunning.
Ann keeps us all entertained with her wacky sense of humour.  Marilyn has just finished her bag (in the last post) and is getting back to her Spring Quilt although she is making the Rail Fence from the above mentioned pattern for a Christmas present. 

The others are making various things which I haven't got photos of including a beautiful Durham Quilt (1 of 2 she is making for twins).  It's always a joy to work with them.

I was tidying out a cupboard the other day and came across this little wooden cupcake I painted ages ago.

It's on the wall now next to the cooker. That's an Aloe Vera plant you can see in the picture - very handy for burns. Usually called upon to do its duty on a Sunday when I'm batch cooking and making Sunday lunch!

So the bake for this week was going to be Coffee Kisses but then I realised most of the ladies drink tea and may not like coffee flavoured biscuits.  I think only two of us at work drink coffee as well so I thought I would make Nutella Kisses but a little mouse (called Will) must have finished the jar. So now they are Peanut Butter Kisses and some Vanilla Kisses for those who don't like peanuts.  The buttery, vanillery smell wafting from the kitchen is heavenly. 
 As if they weren't sweet enough I dusted the tops with icing sugar.
These were made to be eaten today. I made some for tomorrow but haven't iced them. I want to see if they are still crisp on the outside after 24 hours. It would be good if they were because I can make them the night before for our Macmillan Coffee Morning. I don't fancy being up to the eyes in icing sugar at 6am!

So now I'm off to have a quick cuppa and then on to the class. Another week, another month, another year nearly over - time goes past in the blink of an eye.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Butterfly Brain doesn't get bored

Do you have a brain that jumps from exciting idea to exciting idea? Is it a curse or a blessing though?
Marilyn from my Thursday class has just finished her Linen and Lawn bag
and is now returning to her Spring Vine Quilt. Oh Lordy I better get on with the sample which got put to the bottom of the pile as Spring morphed into Summer.
 I finished sewing on the flowers and went to work on the flower centres
Instead of thinking of the millions of pieces of appliqué I was able to focus on the fact that it was nearly done. When the flower centres are finished there are only the mini flowers (actually little circles) and some leaves to do along the top vine. A good effort will see those done in about 8-10 hours.

The quilting is going to take some effort as all the blocks are different. I think Butterfly Brain will need to land somewhere else for a while.  What will it be this time?

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Hidden Treasures

Tidying my quilting supplies has had its benefits in many ways. I found some red linen and other Christmassy bits that I'd got at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate last November. Little buttons and tiny pegs along with some pretty bias binding.
I also went into the loft to put away my suitcase (it's only been sitting in my bedroom since the end of June). There I spied a box of plaids that have been waiting patiently to be turned into some cosy creation.  Added to the Layer Cake I got at Birmingham this year I can feel a cosy plaid quilt coming on.
What I need to do this weekend is clear the decks and have a marathon cutting session.  When everything is organised and ready to go (cutting is my least favourite part of the quilt) there is no excuse not to be doing something.

I only got one more line of Baptists Fans quilted this weekend. We finished work later on Saturday and everyone descended so we spent a happy afternoon chatting whilst Max completely dismantled the sitting room.
Poor little mite has now got tonsillitis and his eardrum has burst (again). His grommets fell out last year and it looks like they will have to put some more in. His Autism diagnosis is complete now and although we can see developments his abilities remain painfully behind his age expectations. He never seems to get a break. At least now he has a formal diagnosis he'll get extra support at nursery, he's so quiet and in his own little world it is easy to leave him alone which is not what he needs. Every little step of progress is wonderful to see and Ben is so lovely with him - it pulls your heartstrings to see them together.

Today I have baked a Malteser Traybake.
If you want to make this you will need:

100 grams butter
200 grams milk chocolate
45 grams golden syrup
200 grams digestive biscuits
approx 100 grams of your favourite sweet, i.e. Maltesers, Crunchie etc
Melt the butter, chocolate and syrup in a bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

Chop the sweets roughly, you need to be able to recognise which sweet it is. Crush the digestive biscuits into small pieces.
Leave the melted chocolate mixture to cool a little before pouring over the biscuits/sweets and stir well to mix. Press into a 20cm lined tin.  When cold carefully cut into 8 pieces. You can double the recipe very easily if you need to.
I also drizzled the top with white chocolate for a little extra decoration.  You can use the base mix and add all sorts of things, mini marshmallows, fudge pieces, dried fruit and nuts - the list is endless! The addition of fruit, nuts and pudding spices would make a lovely Christmas version.
We are having a Macmillan Coffee Week at work from 24th to 28th September.
With a captive audience of patients who sit either waiting to be treated or relaxing after a treatment from 9.30am to 6pm for three practitioners - we should be able to get some funds for Macmillan. Added to that any passers-by are welcome to drop in. So we are practising some pretty cakes and biscuits. The fact that the Great British Bake Off is giving me ideas is great and this week they made traybake!

So now I'm going to fold some newsletters for work and then do a bit of planning using my hidden treasures, before Will comes home for lunch.