Thursday, 23 April 2015

Catching up with hand stitching.

The last few weeks I've been trying to catch up with some of my hand stitching. I like hand stitching but unfortunately I really have to be in the right mood to do it. In that mood I can keep stitching for hours but I go through phases when I don't touch it for months. This explains why my stitching takes so long to complete. Recently I just haven't been in the mood to do my cross stitch or red work but this week I picked it up again and I'm really enjoying it.

On my last post I showed you this picture of the block I  was going to work on from the 'It's a dogs life' quilt.

I thought I had started work on this block but when I opened the project bag I found I hadn't so I almost put the bag back in the drawer. Add to that when I opened the fabric out I found that the fabric solvy which I used to transfer the pattern was coming unstuck from the fabric. The only answer was to get on and sew.

Normally I'd complete one dog at a time but as the pattern was coming off the fabric I decided that stitching a bit of each dog would help hold it in place while I completed the block. So far that has worked well. A good film on TV tomorrow evening will see this block finished.

I also fished out my millenium sampler.

So I've got three mini blocks to do and two more to finish. Then two and a half sides of border plus three corners. I worked on the block of 1066 The battle of Hastings when William the Conqueror became king after defeating King Harold. There's a little way to go before it's finished.

I have a cross stitch I want to start but before I do I must finish either the sampler or the blocks for the quilt. I have too many unfinished stitching projects in progress at present. The one I want to start is this cute Yorkshire Terrier kit that I was given last Christmas..

This is a small piece finishing at 4 and half by 3 inches. It reminds me of Scamp when he was a puppy.

This weekend I'm teaching a first aid course on Saturday but apart from that my time is my own. John is away for the weekend and will be leaving at about 4pm tomorrow afternoon. He won't be back until Sunday afternoon. So there should be lots of sewing time especially as it's supposed to rain over the weekend. That gives me the perfect excuse for staying in. 

For now I'm off to bed. The cold I had a couple of weeks ago has come back again and this time I have a cough. I'm going to take some cough mixture and  then curl up in bed with a book and a hot chocolate. I'm not sure I'll get much reading done as I feel worn out. Just tomorrow to get through at work then two days off and next week is a light week. With luck I should finish my April goals.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Painting and cleaning

I was looking forward to a lovely weekend sewing, after all John was working on Saturday and I had a completely free diary. The problem was the kitchen. The units were all fitted back in February but it hasn't moved on far since then. The ceiling was replastered and having left it a while to ensure it was all dried out it was time to paint but at that point we had several weekend events so it didn't get done. So yesterday I set out to paint the ceiling. I knew it would need two coats to look perfect so planned first coat on Saturday, second today. Well I got so far yesterday but had to stop before I'd finished as my shoulder started to hurt and my cold made my head a bit swimmy - not good when up a ladder. So this morning I set out to get it finished. It took a while but in the end the ceiling was all covered. I cleaned up and sat down to plan my sewing but woke up a couple of hours later. Since I still had work for work I needed to sort out sewing had to go.

I also need to buy the tiles for the kitchen. At the moment we can't make up our minds but I like this tile. There are 5 patterns in the box and they look great mixed up on the wall but John thinks it's a bit busy. I'll let you know our final decision.

I did find time to make 5 nine patch blocks to go with my snowball blocks and I also made 5 hexi flower blocks. If I'm to complete any of my April goals I need to get a move on. The quilting on my star trek quilt is coming along but I haven't worked on it for a week.

Picasso wasn't well over Easter. He slept almost two days and totally stopped eating and drinking. We still don't know what the problem was but he is back to his happy self again. He lost 70g in weight and hasn't made it up yet but he always loses a little weight over the summer as he's so active. He spends the day going out and climbing as high as he can, usually onto the roof, but comes back every half an hour to check we are all OK then he's off again. I had thought he would slow down by now as he's 11 but he's just as active as ever.

Tomorrow I'm taking some stitching to work with me to work on in my lunch hour. I'm hoping the weather will be good so I can go and sit in the park. I've just pulled out the block I was working on for It's a dogs life. I started this ages ago but put it away when the work started on the house.

I've started stitching the dog with the flag. I'd like to complete this block this week. As I have two trips on the train this week I should be able to.

I hope you've had a good weekend. I'm hoping for a better sewing week this week and maybe a Friday finish.


Sunday, 12 April 2015

A haircut, snowballs and a hike.

The last couple of days have been a bit of a whirlwind. Friday morning I had tutorials booked so had to go into work but in the afternoon I had arranged for Scamp to go to the groomers for his spring haircut.  Here he is enjoying a snooze with John on Thursday,

As you can see he is rather scruffy and shaggy. Following 2 hours at the groomers he is a much sleeker dog and now looks like this. He'll love going out for his walks now as he can move more easily and doesn't get so hot.

Yesterday evening I got on with the snowball blocks for the quilt along at Terry's Treasures The quilt calls for 49 snowball blocks and 50 nine patch blocks. I have finished sewing the 49 snowballs but still need to cut off the triangles and iron the blocks.

I'm going to have a lot of half square triangles in my scrap bag once these blocks are all trimmed. So that will be another project. I'm hoping to get a lot of the nine patch blocks made tomorrow.

Today John and I had planned a hike with our friend Tony. Currently we are walking the Thames path. We have got as far as Maidenhead so today we were walking from Maidenhead to Marlow. The Thames path is a long distance path that follows the Thames for 184 miles (294km). We are walking it from the estuary to its source. 

We travelled to Maidenhead by train and headed to the starting point for this section. On the way we passed the alms houses.

We started in the park by the river and I couldn't resist taking a photo of the fountain.

Along the path between Maidenhead and Cookham we came across this poem set into the edge of the bank.

Old Father Thames goes gliding by.
As ripples run he winks his eye
at Golswold cows and Oxford dons.
Nodding to Windsor's royal swans
He bears our nation's liquid crown
by lock and weir to London town.
May all that know and love his banks
Pause here a while to offer thanks.

There were flowers,

Lesser  Celandine

and this pretty purple flower that i don't know the name of. All the trees were coming into leaf.

I loved these fabulous willows blowing in the breeze and...

there were lots of balls of mistletoe on a variety of trees. We saw a lots of bird life although I only got a photo of these swans. Several times throughout the day there were Red Kites circling over head.

At Cookham there was an 11th century church.

It was a very pleasurable day in the warm sunshine..

This evening I've spent some time sitting and hand stitching some hexi blocks. Scamp has slept on my lap and Picasso has curled up on the back of my chair. A perfect end to an enjoyable day. I hope you've had a great Saturday


Thursday, 9 April 2015

New plans, old ideas

I hope you all enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing Easter holiday. Normally I have the two week university break to enjoy my sewing, walking and reading but this year I had agreed to do some extra teaching and discovered that it took place over the holiday break. I've made a note to myself to be more careful about checking dates so I don't miss out on sewing time.

The break was very pleasant but unfortunately Picasso our cat was unwell. He was fine until Saturday evening when he began to behave very oddly. Sunday he spent either asleep or staring off into the distance. He was still eating at this point but by Monday afternoon he refused all food and even treats. We nursed him until Tuesday morning when our vet was open again. If he'd got any worse I'd jhave taken him to the emergency service but he doesn't always behave in a well mannered way at the vet and so we avoid going elsewhere if at all possible. Anyway they gave him a steroid injection and some vitamin B12 to help stimulate his appetite. Slowly over Tuesday he became more interested in his surrounding and began to eat a little. Now he's almost back to normal but has lost a fair amount of weight and as a result is enjoying tasty treats.

Because of Picasso I couldn't settle to my various projects so decided instead to go through my stash of fabric for potential projects. I often buy fabric because as soon as I see it an idea for a new project pops into my head. Unfortunately I have so many potential projects it can take quite a time for me to start work on them. Barbara's NewFO challenge at Cat Patches used to give me the push I need each month to get started on a new project but unfortunately she doesn't run it any more, so now I have to find the motivation to get started on something new all by myself.

Anyway back to my stash of fabric for new projects. I found this fabulous elephant fabric that I'd bought with plans of making new cushion covers for the cushions on my settee. Now that all the major building work has been finished it's time to get started on restyling by making my cushion covers and new curtains. One of my purchases today was some plain deep red fabric to use with the elephants and I'm hoping to start work on the cushions next week 

I didn't buy this fabric instead it was designed and screen printed by Richard, my son, as part of his art course work when he was working on his GCSE's. He would have been 15 at the time. The fabric was on display in the school long after he had left. In fact Lucy, who is 7 years younger than Richard collected the fabric when she left the school.

The colours in the photo above are true to life. I trimmed the fabric and added a white border. The top has now been turned into a quilt sandwich and is ready for the quilting to start.

I was given this fabric ages ago as i wanted to make some bath mats and this matched the theme of our bathroom which is seaside. The fabric is called beachcomber and I love all the shells. I quickly cut out to mats and made the quilt sandwich. These will be very quick to quilt. I'm planning on using the mats to practise new motifs for my FMQ. I let you know how I get on.

Scamp and John eventually got tired of watching me stroking fabric and settled down for a short nap.

Scamp looks very scruffy at the moment but has an appointment at the groomers on Friday afternoon and will soon be looking well groom and cute again.

Finally I had set out to join in with the snowball and nine patch sew along run by Terry at terry's Treasures so this morning I cut the 6 and half inch squares and sorted out my 2 and half inch squares. The are 49 snowball blocks and 50 nine patch blocks to make. I'm hoping to get some of them stitched on Friday evening, 

I still have quite a few potential projects that I put back into my stash store. I need to get some of the projects finished before I start any more new ones.

i hope you've got lots of fun projects to keep you busy.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

March review and April plans.

March has simply speed by and left me feeling a little like I've been running up the down escalator. If you've ever tried it you'll know it can be very tiring. However I'm not down or gloomy as March has been a good month, just frantically busy.

I wanted to get my Votes for Women quilt finished and I am so please that this is all completed and now living on Kathryn's bed. However as this is a reveiw I can get away with showing the picture one more time.

Most of the blocks were quilted in the ditch. The border had a large meander and the sashing a leaf trail.

I quilted a daisy on the cornerstones. The binding was in the same fabric as the sashing.

I realised as I was  finishing this quilt that I enjoy hand stitching the back of the binding, especially when the quilt is being gifted. You get to sit with the quilt over your lap whilst you stitch and can enjoy seeing the completed blocks and the quilting. No my least favourite quilting job is finishing off all the thread ends, especially having to keep threading the needle.

MY next goal was to complete my project for the bird hop. For this I made a pillow which will live in John's car along with his bird watching quilt.

I just love the bird fabric.

Next I needed a baby quilt for Mel. For this I used a fabric panel and added a border. Mel was really pleased with it and amazed that I'd made it for her.

I had also wanted to quilt the 'Star Trek' quilt. I still have 4 backs and the border to quilt but I'm very satisfied with the progress I've made. The background of the blocks has a meander pattern and I did a bubble or stone pattern on the sashing. The star trek fabric is stitched in the ditch. I also still have to finish my mini quilt for the quilt swap but the date has been extended until 20th April so that will be finished.

I've been thinking about my plans for April. Obviously my main one will be to finish up the 'Star Trek' quilt. I'm hoping I will finish the quilting over the Easter holiday and then I'll just have the binding to do. This is the project I'm working on for the 'A Lovely Year of Finishes at Sew Bittersweet Designs.

I have another baby quilt to make, this time for a baby girl. Planning a baby quilt is so much easier when you know the sex of the baby.

I also want to make the quilt top from my nine patch rainbow scrap challenge blocks from last year. I made 4 blocks of each colour and they finish at 6 inches. I would like to set this on point but I haven't really given it a lot of thought yet. I tend to lie in bed and mull over quilty plans as I fall asleep but recently I've been so tired I've been asleep before I've had any time to think. I'll probably get all the blocks out tomorrow and see what I think.

My final goal is to get this jacket all stitched together

As you can see it's all cut out and I just need to get it stitched together. I do need to buy some lining fabric for it first.

I'm linking this post with the April goal setting party at Sew Bittersweet Designs

What are your plans for the month? I hope there's some stitching in your future.


Monday, 30 March 2015

A slow Sunday

The weather today has been overcast and showery so a perfect day to get on with some sewing. First we took Scamp for a walk. He wasn't particularly keen on going out since it was cold and windy and when it started to drizzle he dug in his paws and wanted to go home. I managed to persuade him to keep going and promised him a treat when we got home. Once he realised we were going for a walk whatever he wanted, he decided he may as well enjoy himself. Once off his lead on the common  he enjoyed running around and found a squirrel to chase and puddles to splash through. He was rather damp and muddy when we got back so I had to clean and dry him. The rest of Scamp's day was spent snoozing on a comfy chair.

I decided to make the blocks for this months rainbow scrap challenge. The colour for March was yellow. I don't use a lot of yellow fabric so this proved a little difficult. I'm making churn dash blocks this year and doing 4 each month. The blocks finish at 6 and half inches.

The angle I've taken the photos at makes the blocks look different sizes but there aren't, however I do need to trim them.

I then completed the quilting on another block of the Star Trek quilt. I was going to continue working on it but Picasso decided to come and play. I've now got a long scratch down the back of both my hands where he caught me with his claws. He likes to try and catch the needle and he doesn't like to be moved once he decides to play.

Picasso is rather difficult to see since he's a black cat against a dark background. He behaves like a young cat but is actually 11 years old. I tried to move him off the fabric but he settled down for a snooze so in the end I gave up. I have some unpicking to do later as I developed a slight tuck in the back. Fortunately I hadn't done very much quilting in that area. Although it was only a little tuck I can't leave it as I will know it's there. Once Picasso woke up I packed away my quilt and machine.

This evening I've been working on my hexies for Lucy's quilt plus for the last block of last years rainbow challenge, opps I running a little late. I did some hand stitching and I also cut out some more templates and fabric for the hexies.

I started the grandmother's garden quilt for Lucy before I started Kathryn's or Richard's quilts. Because Lucy's is all hand stitched it's taking a lot longer. Using 1inch hexies doesn't make for a speedy job either.

I'm linking this post up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday. I hope you've had time for some stitching today. 


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Upcycling and reading

I'm getting on with the Star Trek quilt but seriously when quilting such a large item on a domestic machine you need some diversionary therapy. My arms and shoulders are aching from hauling the fabric around. I know FMQ  means you can stitch in all directions so no need to turn the quilt but you do need to get the area you are working on under the needle to begin with. Then as you finish an area it involves re rolling the quilt sandwich to the next area to be done. Just so you know I'm having a great time doing the quilting, it just makes the old arms ache.

As a rest from the quilting I decided to a little upcycling. I bought this plain linen skirt from a charity shop for just £2. It fits beautifully but is very boring. 

I love bright colours and purple is favourite at the moment so I choose this dye to pep it up a bit.

Before I started the dying I used elastic bands to tie the skirt a little up from the hem. I followed the instructions to the letter (which is a little unusual for me) and the end result is a much more cheerful linen skirt for the summer.

Now all I have left to do is shorten the lining a little as when I bought the skirt it was peeping below the hem.

Over the last year I haven't been doing very much reading, well not reading for pleasure. I have read a lot of students essays and in preparing my teaching I read textbooks, research papers, government documents and guidelines and other tedious reports but nothing for fun. I decided to get back into reading for 'me' and decided to start with something light weight but fun.

Stella Rimington was the Director General of MI5 between 1992 and 1996 and since 1994 has written novels about a female intelligence officer. I enjoyed the book a lot. The plot was interesting and not about Russia plotting against the UK and the US. It was good easy reading and if you like spy fiction I can recommend it.

This book, that I've only just started is a lot heavier, in content terms not weight of the book. Last year Lucy and I visited the World War 1 exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London. It made me realise just how little I know about this period in history. Lucy is very knowledgeable as this is the period of history she is really interested in and she filled in a lot of the gaps in my knowledge. I decided to get a short history and find out more. I've read the first chapter so far which is about the lead up to the war. The book is well written in a witty opinionated style and as a result I'm enjoying reading it.

When we took Scamp for a walk this morning I commented to John how slow spring was this year. There are snowdrops out and some daffodils but the trees haven't really started to take on the greenish tinge that shows the buds are developing. Although we haven't had snow this year in London it has been cold and not many sunny days. With Easter next weekend I was hoping for some better weather. 

This evening I think I'm going to catch up on sewing some blocks. I haven't done this months rainbow scrap blocks and I'm way behind with a couple of other projects. I'll get back to Star Trek later in the week.

I hope you having a good weekend where you are.