Friday, 18 April 2014

What is my Superpower?

Sew we quilt

Hi everyone, welcome to my post about my superpower.  Superpowers are a funny thing. When I signed up for this blog hop I had just completed several (almost) impossible things and I felt wonderful. I knew I had lots of superpowers. Then doubt set in as always and finally blind panic as I decided I didn't have a single superpower.  As always my family came to my rescue assuring me I'm a great mom, wife, quilter, knitter  and lots more besides. I love my family they are so supportive. Anyway in true British style I made a pot of tea and sat down to to enjoy several cups whilst I decided on my project. At that point my most obvious superpower was my ability to drink gallons of tea and always be ready to have another cup.

I decided I had several superpowers and that I would link them together for this project. First I'm great at helping with or finishing off other peoples half finished projects. (It's odd that I'm not always so quick to finish off some of my own projects.)  Over the years there have been several projects I have helped with. Back in 2012 Lucy knitted her then boyfriend an elephant and I helped her finish it.

There was also a little cross stitch of a pair of Blue Tits that Richard had started years ago and never finished. At the point I picked it up last year it looked like this.

I love the finished piece.

My husband John loves to go bird watching but he finds it very difficult to see the small brown birds that hide themselves in the leaves. My second superpower is that I am very good at spotting those small birds and telling John where to train his binoculars so he can see them. 

Finally like many quilters I am very good at using up my scraps.  Last year I made a swoon quilt and had a lot of half square triangles that I made from the off cuts. So my superpower project combined all three superpowers. It would use up some of my scraps, incorporate small birds and include a project I had finished for someone else. 

The blue tit cross stitch has been used as the center piece and the rest of the  cushion cover front is made from the half square triangles that were cut off from the flying geese in the swoon quilt. There was a stain on the fabric of the cross stitch but I have been able to cut this area off. The cross stitch is appliqued to a backing fabric and the edges have been frayed. I still have several HST left and some to trim down ready for use. A job for another day.

Now it's time to say thank you to Madame Samm for organising this hop and for Pauline for being a great cheerleader. This is such a fun theme and the projects are amazing. Here is the list of people taking part today, you're sure to find lots of inspiration from them.

                                                    FRIDAY APRIL 18

I'm going to make a pot of tea and go visiting, I can't wait to see what their superpowers are. Then I'm going to make a birthday cake as it was Kathryn's (older daughter) birthday last Sunday and Lucy's today. They are both coming over a little later.

Enjoy using your superpowers today.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

A busy but fun weekend

I love the weekend. A chance to sleep in a little, to relax with family, to walk and to sew. This weekend I didn't get any extra sleep as I was teaching a first aid course on Saturday. I teach the first aid course to the leaders in my Guide county. It's a six hour course that covers the first aid they need to be able to run their weekly meetings safely. It's fun to teach but also rather tiring, so it was lovely to get home and spend time with my sewing machine.

This months rainbow scrap challenge colour is purple so I set about making my 4 nine patch blocks. I love purple and seem to have a lot of purple scraps. I particularly like the bright bold purple fabrics. The photos have altered the colours as usual.

I had started my hexie block earlier in the week. I still need to applique it onto the backing fabric. The colours in this photo are much nearer reality.

I also finished the top of the baby quilt I'm making.

Scamp just had to sit on the quilt. I love the car fabric in this top. Hopefully this will be finished by next weekend.

Today John, Tony (one of our friends) and I went for a hike. We had intended to walk the next section of the Capital ring but the London marathon was run today and we didn't want to have to travel on the tube when it would be crowded with people going to watch. The route we decided to follow was a circular route around the village of Shere. This is the route.

We had a great day walking about 7 miles. The weather was beautiful and so was the scenery. I took a few photos which I will post tomorrow. For now I need to get organised for work including washing my hair. I've just got to work tomorrow and then I have two weeks holiday so lots of time to catch up with walking and sewing as well as getting up to date with chores.

Hope you've had a good weekend


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Having fun sewing!

Today was a sewing day and I had great fun. I had a couple of errands to do but first I cut out the sashing for the baby quilt. I'm making it for Lucy's boyfriend. His best friend recently had a baby boy, Thomas and this is a gift for him.

I dropped my bird quilt off at the quilt shop. I can't wait to see it on display in the window. We then took Scamp for a walk over Wimbledon Common. He really enjoyed that especially running through the mud. Fortunately the mud brushed out of his fur once it was dry. After sorting out my parking permit it was finally time to get sewing.

I had 7 blocks to make for the baby quilt and they went together very quickly and then I added the sashing and sewed the horizontal sashing strips. I'll add them tomorrow. I love the car fabric.

After that I started on my hexie block for April's Rainbow Scrap challenge. This months colour is purple and I have quite a bit of this in my scrap basket. The hexies are 11/2 inches and the block is made using English Paper Piecing.

Finally I started cutting more fabric for my grandmothers garden quilt. I'm still working on the purple row. It's very relaxing doing the hand sewing.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another sewing day but I have to decide on some crafts for Guides. Although the schools are on holiday the girls wanted to meet and we decided we would try and complete the craft badge. Over the last few weeks the girls have already done some crafts including creating a mother's day card and making their own paper.

If I get any sewing time tomorrow I'm planning on sorting through my projects and checking what I need to do to move them on. I'm particularly running behind on my embroidery so need to get this organised. I wanted to finish the 'Votes for Women' Quilt top this month if at all possible but I've got a couple of commissions which will take priority.

Next week I'm on holiday so will have a little more time for sewing but I also want to redecorate my bedroom. It used to be a haven of peace and tranquility, a delightful place to sleep but also a lovely sunny venue for sitting and reading as it faces south and so gets the sun all day. Now however it just looks a mess and feels rather unloved. It needs a major overhaul.

I'm linking this post with Connie from Freemotion by the River for her Tuesday link party. I haven't had time to join this party for several weeks now but Hopefully I've got work under control and can get back to enjoying my sewing and blogging.

I hope you've had a good Monday ooophs that should be Tuesday. Too much sewing seems to have confused my brain.


Monday, 7 April 2014

Visit to Rochester Cathedral in Kent, UK

On Saturday John and I went on a visit to Rochester in Kent. Years ago when I was still at school I'd lived in Chatham which is next to Rochester and I'd attended Rochester Grammar School for Girls. Because of this I'd visited the cathedral many times but John had never been inside it.

The cathedral has over 900 years of history but the only remains of the original Saxon cathedral are below ground. The oldest part of the existing building dates from 1083 but there are a lot of different architectural styles as it has been added to and renovated over the years.

This is the west front and most of this looks as it did when it was built in the mid 1100's except for the large central window which was added in the mid 1400's. A military wedding was about to start when we arrived and the guard of honour was waiting for the bride to arrive.

The Nave of the cathedral shows off the Norman architecture. There are three levels of arches before you reach the wooden roof. The Nave was the place of worship for the ordinary people but over the life of the cathedral the Nave has been used as quarters for both troops and horses, and served as a carpenters shop and alehouse.

The guide Carol who showed us round give us lots of stories and showed us things we may have missed. One example of this is the places on the columns where pictures have been scratched in the stone by graffiti artists through the centuries.

She also showed us areas where there were 'ghosts' of the original paintings that decorated the walls. This is a fragment of the original plaster now preserved behind glass. The interior must have been very bright.

Either side of the west door there are mosaics which give the names of the Royal Engineers and the campaigns they fought in. The cathedral is the 'Corps' spiritual home.

Carol showed us the columns that had been pushed out of true by the weight of the roof of the cathedral, (no it's not my appalling photographic skills). The height of the roof was reduced and a huge buttress added to the outside wall to keep this part of the building upright. I love the carving around the doorway.

The screen between the Nave and the Quire was beautiful. The camera shake is my fault but I only took the one picture. The organ had a beautiful full rich sound.

The floor in the Quire had delightful tiles and Carol told us there were 40 'mistakes' in the tiling as only God is perfect.

Finally a new addition to the cathedral was the fresco by the doorway at the North Transept. The fresco is by Russian iconographer Sergei Fyodorov. The fresco was dedicated on 24th June 2004. The top half shows the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.  Underneath, on the left side is the baptism of King Ethelbert by St Augustine in approximately 600. King Ethelbert gave the land on which the cathedral is built. On the right is the baptism of large numbers of Saxons in the River Medway following their conversion to Christianity. The colours in the fresco were amazing.

The cathedral also has a brass memorial plaque to Charles Dickens who lived in Rochester. He had asked to be buried in the cathedral but it was decided that he should be buried in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey in London

As we left the cathedral we saw this tree outside.

It is well propped up and support which makes it look as if it's many centuries old. The tree is a Catalpa tree which is also known as an Indian Bean Tree. Its exact age is not known but it is over 100 years.

When we'd decided to visit Rochester I hadn't given a thought to quilt shops but as we walked onto the high street I looked to my right and what should I see but a very well stocked quilt shop. I didn't buy very much, only 4 fat quarters but I will be visiting again as the journey only took an hour and a quarter and there is still lots to visit in the area.

Before we left for home I took a picture looking along the River Medway. There was a cold breeze blowing off the water.

The day was very enjoyable and the sun managed to shine all day. I'm looking forward to a lot more trips out this summer.

I'm going to watch a TV programme I recorded earlier and then I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is a sewing day and I have quite a lot I want to get done. Plus I have some housework and a few errands I need to run. The quilt shop where I teach classes have asked if they can display my bird quilt in the window so I must drop it into the shop and I want to pop into the butchers to get a bone for Scamp.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

April Goals

Spring is finally here, with lots of blossom on the trees, spring bulbs and lambs in the fields. Easter is nearly upon us and last Wednesday we had Easter egg hunts at our Rainbow, Brownie and Guide meetings. I know it's a little early but the girls are on school holidays and we wont see them again until after Easter. John and I have been enjoying trips out in the sunshine and yesterday we visited Rochester Cathedral in Kent. I took lots of photos and I tell you about it tomorrow. For now I need to sort out my April goals.

In March I hoped to finish my bird quilt and the quilt for Lucy's friend Jennifer. The bird quilt is all made, quilted and bound. I just need to add a label. I took the finished quilt to the park near where I work to take the photo.

I had such fun with the quilting. I used a variegated thread for the bark and the leaves and a plain white for the clouds. It took much longer than I had anticipated but I'm really pleased with the result.  I've also decided that finishing off all the ends is my least favourite job but it is very satisfying once done. Finishing this quilt was not only my goal for the lovely year of finishes but also for Lynne's Something old , something new challenge. This is my something old as I started it early last year.

Jennifer's quilt needs the border quilting and the binding adding. Lucy took it with her to Jenny's birthday party to show her and we plan to have it in the post this week.

I've also been working on the row along being run by Sherry at Quilts, Fabric and Thread Tales. Three of the rows have been posted and I've made two. I have yet to make the February row but I will have it done by the time Sherry posts the next row. The photo shows two of the four blocks in the row. The other two are a repeat of these ones. Yep it is a little busy but it looks OK next to the other row.

My NewFO this month is another baby quilt. This one is being made for a friend of Lucy's boyfriend. He plays football with the new father who supports Chelsea football club. The quilt is supposed to be in their colours but I have gone a slightly different colourway. However the back will be in Chelsea colours with the baby's name on it. The baby, called Thomas, is a boy but only time will tell if he'll like football. This quilt was my something new challenge for March

So far I've pieced together two of the nine blocks but these are all cut out. I have sewing days on Tuesday and Wednesday so the top should be finished then. The solid blue looks quite dark in the photo but is much brighter in person.

Goals for April are;

1. Complete the quilt for Jennifer.

2. Complete the top of the Votes for Women quilt. I have a couple more blocks to make and then all the sashing to add. I've been busy cutting out all the sashing. I've never noticed before how tiring it is cutting out and how much it makes my back ache. I think my usual system of cutting as I go along rather than all at once suits me better.

3. Complete my super power blog hop project. My day is 18th April.

4. Make my blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. This month the colour is purple. I have a fair amount of purple scraps so this shouldn't cause any problems.

5. My NewFO challenge. I have several possibles for this challenge but I can't quite decide between them at the moment.

I'm linking up with Melissa at Sew Bittersweet Designs for the goal setting link party, Lynne at Never too hot to Stitch for her Something Old, Something New party and Barbara at Cat Patches for her NewFO link party.

I hope you've had a good weekend with a little 'me' time. I'll be back tomorrow with photos of my trip to Rochester Cathedral but for now I need to decide what I'm wearing to work tomorrow and get myself organised.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Running a quilting course

For the last few weeks I have spent my Tuesday mornings with two lovely ladies, Liz and Sue. They came to the beginners quilting course I ran last year and were back for more. We concentrated on making blocks with triangles in them and being as accurate as possible in the cutting and sewing. Liz had some fabulous fabric that she had got from the Victoria and Albert museum where she is doing a course. She was making her quilt for her mother and hoped to have it completed for Mothering Sunday which was the Sunday just gone. Sue was making her quilt for her grandson. The final results were fabulous.

Sue had opted for a solid colour backing but decided to cut out car shapes from her left over fabric and applique onto the back

This was a new technique for her  and it worked very well. The quilt top is so bright and cheerful for a young boy. I love the car fabrics she chose.

Liz's fabrics were also bold and colourful with delightful designs on them. The fabrics had a mixture of pattern sizes with some big bold florals and also small geometric shapes. 

The class was a delight to teach and we had some wonderful conversations on a wide range of topics. Liz and Sue didn't complete their quilts although they had both finished the tops. Both Liz and Sue achieved a great level of accuracy with the triangles and were looking forward to completing their quilts.

Whilst they were sewing their quilts I also had some time to do some sewing and I worked on the quilt  being made for Lucy's friend. I didn't manage to complete it in March but there isn't much left to do. The border was added at our last class and most of the quilting is done. Just a little quilting to finish off and the binding to add.

This was the quick photo I sent to Lucy to check that she liked the border fabric before I bought it. It was her friend Jennifer's birthday this weekend and she took the quilt to show her. I will finish it this week and then we can get it in the post to her.

Today I ran a quilt taster session and the three ladies made cushion covers. The morning was great fun and all the ladies finished their project. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos. This afternoon I cut out pieces for the blocks of my latest project and tried to catch up with reading some blogs. I'm hoping to have more time this month for writing posts and for sewing. I'm also going to have another try at fitting in at least 15 minutes of sewing or knitting a day. It only lasted about two weeks last time but you never know, it may be different this time around.

Picasso has been helping me to sort out things. Whilst I sorted through a mountain of paperwork he decided he'd better check my machine cover as you never knew what might have invaded. He does so love to get into boxes and bags.

I'm enjoying the lovely warm spring weather we are having here in London. I hope it's going to continue even if the sun does show up all the dust and makes me realise I need to clean the windows. I hope the weather is good where you are.


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Having a really good day

We were up early this morning as John had agreed to help at the church open day event. The morning was beautiful with lots of sun so By 7.45 Scamp and I had set out on his walk. We walked round Wandsworth Common and were out for about an hour and a half. The sun was still shining as we walked home but an hour later it was hailing. In all over the day we experienced sun, hail, rain wind and thunder. I would have been upset if I'd planned to spend the day outside but the weather didn't matter since I was spending the day sewing.

I decided to make the rest of the blocks for the quilt Lucy is giving to her friend for her birthday. This is the pattern Lucy had chosen and some of the fabric she pulled.

I'd already made 2 of the blocks and now I have 11. The final block is all applique and I'll make that tomorrow. Here are the blocks.

The block on the right still has a heart to be appliqued onto the center.

The block on the left also has some applique to be added.

I'm very pleased with the blocks as I managed to get most of the points really accurate. I still need to trim the blocks before I add the sashing.

Tomorrow I want to finish the bird quilt and  do the applique blocks for this quilt. I still need to catch up with the row along so I may try to fit this in as well.

For now I'm going to sit and watch a little TV whilst doing some knitting.It's a good job John isn't in a rush for his jumper as I still have to finish the front and the sleeves.

I hope you've had a good Saturday, I really had a good time. I'm hoping tomorrow will be as productive.