Monday, 25 August 2014

Slow stitching and heavy lifting.

Here in the UK today was the late summer bank holiday and as often seems to happen the day in London was a complete washout. It was raining when I woke up and hasn't stopped for most of the day. In fact at 10.30 this evening we were finally able to take Scamp for a walk without getting wet. Originally our plans for today had involved a walk but John remembered that he had agreed to help remove the flats from the stage at the church hall so the rain didn't spoil our day. There were five of us doing the job although one person had to leave early as they had another engagement. The whole process took 3 and a half hours (or 16 hours if you take the number of people doing the job).

The final job was completed this afternoon when John and I went back to unscrew the picture that sits behind the doors on the back flat. When not covered up for alternative scenery it looks like the doors lead into the garden.

The stage is quite a big space when empty. The floor is in desperate need of a good sanding and finishing. Last year I got a huge splinter down the side of my finger nail from it and several others have been injured. The floor is being sanded and finished tomorrow and at the weekend the bits all need to go back.

At present they are resting at the back of the church hall covered by the stage curtains. 

It doesn't look much having finished the job. There was a remarkable amount of heavy wood and other bits stored behind the flats and this all had to be moved. We managed to find homes for everything elsewhere. Once we put everything back in its place I will take a photo of the stage since I forgot a before picture.

Yesterday I went through my project bags and found that I hadn't fully stitched the green hexi block for the Rainbow Scrap challenge from a couple of months ago. I finished this up whilst watching the second Hobbit film.

I had to hunt  around for the backing fabric. I still need to make the red and yellow hexi blocks.

I hunted for some brighter green fabric for this months blocks  and found this to make the hexi block. I still need some more fabric for the nine patch blocks.

I'll finish this one up tomorrow evening if I can find a good film to watch.

Tomorrow I plan on starting the quilting on the quilt I'm making for Hannah. This is one of my projects for the 'See you in September' blog hop. My day is the 4th September so you'll have to wait until then to see the completed quilt. If I have time I also have a new project I want to start.

For now I'm heading off to bed as it is 11.52 and I'm rather sleepy. I'm hoping that by the time I wake up I will have decided on the colour scheme for my next quilt. Did I tell you that the other morning I woke up from a dream in which I was stroking some beautiful fabric to find myself gently stroking the edge of the duvet. Does this mean I've been overdoing the sewing?.........


Friday, 22 August 2014

Why didn't I finish it?

I was looking through a cupboard yesterday checking out the contents of the various bags and boxes when I came across a bag I had completely forgotten about. The bag contained an almost made summer dress and a partly sewn blouse. I'm not sure why they had been relegated to the depths of the cupboard but on closer inspection I found the dress only needed the buttonholes made and the buttons sewn on. I have vague memories that around the time I'd been making the dress a little argument had blown up along the lines of  'all you're interested in doing is sewing'. Not a comment I hear these days as John realises I'm much calmer and happier when I'm sewing, knitting or generally being creative. 

Anyway today I reminded myself how the buttonhole stitch on my machine worked and then got the dress finished. The pattern is by McCalls. I've used it before and it makes a comfortable well fitting dress that is great for wearing to work.

I can't show you a photo of me wearing the dress as there is no one around to take the picture. When I wear it I'll get John to take a photo. I hope the weather stays warm a little longer so I can get some wear out of it this year. I really should have pressed it before I took the photo. I know this isn't a quilty finish but it is a finish so I'm linking up with Link a finish Friday at Richard and Tanya Quilts.

The blouse is still in the project bag untouched. I have some mending I need to get done before I start on it. I also prepared Hannah's quilt ready for quilting and need to get that done. Do you want a sneak peek? This is the fabric I chose for the backing. Hannah loves her music and I know she'll like the fabric.

I was going to make the blocks for this months Rainbow Scrap challenge. The colour is green. Earlier in the year there was a green month but that was dark green. This month is light bright green and I don't seem to have any scraps matching that remit. I need to do some swapping with my friends. 

Last weekend I started some peach wine. Today I moved it into the demijohn and it is bubbling nicely. It is very cloudy at the moment but over the next few weeks that will settle and I'll syphon the wine into a clean jar (racking). It will gradually clear over the next few months and after being racked a few more times. I'm hoping to buy some peaches tomorrow to make peach chutney and then once our apples are fully ripe I'll make some apple chutney. We have two apple trees, a Cox's Orange Pippin and a Egremont Russet . The Cox's is loaded with fruit but the other only has a few apples. Last year it was the other way round.

It's nearly bedtime here in the UK so I'm going to knit a few rows of John's jumper whilst I catch up with the news on TV and then I'm off to bed. I'm hoping to get some quilting done tomorrow. Sweet dreams when bedtime comes to your part of the world.


Monday, 18 August 2014

Lots of cutting out and a little jam

I started the quilt for Hannah yesterday or rather I started the cutting stage. I needed a lot of 2 and a half inch squares in a range of colours and patterns. I had a jelly roll of solid colours but I wanted to use some of my scraps. Hannah will recognise several of the scraps as fabrics we used when making the prem baby quilts. I also needed a pile of six and a half inch squares. That job didn't take long so I've been able to start the sewing. This is a start and finish quickly quilt as Hannah's last week with us at Guides is the 17th September. The following week she starts at University.

On the 21st July I started a diet and exercise plan. I've cut out cakes and sugary things and generally being more careful on what I eat. I've found it's about making choices - yes I would like the chocolate cake but I'll have a piece of fruit instead. I have also increased my exercise and the great thing about that is that you can have chocolate cake occasionally. Anyway the great news is that I've lost 9 lbs in 4 weeks and I haven't felt hungry at all. I do feel tired from the extra exercise but the knock on effect is I sleep like a log, in fact I've started going to bed earlier. This is good as I would often only get 5 hours sleep.

In preparation for the new me I decided to cut out a couple of patterns in the next size down. I thought of waiting until I am down to my ideal weight but decided a girl needs a treat to keep her on the straight and narrow. Plus I've had the fabric in my dressmaking stash for ages  and the garment can easily be altered later. I've had the pattern for a while and made the blouse and tunic top for several people but never for me.

I'm taking part in the See you in September blog hop at Sew We Quilt and the quilt and blouse will be part of my projects. We have to make something using Riley Blake gingham and I'm looking forward to getting started on that.

Yesterday I also made some jam. When out and about in town I found that the peaches (and nectarines) were super cheap and large and juicy. I decided to make some peach jam and also start some peach wine. Going back a few years I regularly made jams and pickles but got out of the habit. Barbara at Cat Patches got me started again. I've been following her blog for a couple of years and she bottles fruit and pickles. Reading her blog reminded me of the pleasure of homemade chutneys and jams.

I used the recipe from In Jennie's Kitchen for the jam and the wine recipe was from Wine making guides I used to have a great wine making recipe book for country wines but vaguely remember giving it to a friend. Not a problem with friend internet at hand. 

I have a large ironing mountain that I'm ploughing my way through so I'm off to iron a few more items so I can reward myself with some stitching. Mmm a good film and a little hand stitching sound like a perfect evening.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Back from camp and a Friday finish

Having not done much sewing through June and July I was hopeful that August would be more productive but I had forgotten that we had a Brownie and Guide Camp. As a result it's now 16th of the month and my many projects are looking dejected and unloved. However all that is about to change as I am now on holiday. I have a couple of days I need to go into work early in September but I don't start back in full swing until September 22nd. 

Our camp was brilliant and the weather couldn't have been better. It rained one night after we had gone to bed and was all dry by the morning. The 18 girls we took got on well and enjoyed the activities. I had taken some hand sewing with me but it never came out of my bag. Likewise my book didn't get read. When we weren't enjoying activities such a hiking, climbing and archery we sat and talked to each other which was very pleasurable.

Over the next few days Lucy and I will organise the meetings for the next term based on the choices the girls made before the holiday. We will also organise our indoor holiday planned for November. Before that gets done I have lots of cutting out to do as I want to make a quilt for our Young Leader Hannah. She was 18 back in June and starts university in September. She joined my unit when she was 5 and has gone through all the age ranges. It will be hard to say goodbye after all this time but she plans on coming back for camps and trips.

On a sewing note I have a finish that I haven't posted. Lauren commissioned me to make a quilt for her daughter Grace. She provided the fabrics and she wanted different sized blocks of colour. I decided to make a disappearing nine patch and both she and I were very pleased with the result.

Scamp thought he'd crash the photo as usual.  The quilt is for a twin bed. I didn't take a photo of the back. I cut strips of the fabrics used in the front and pieced the back. Both sides look pretty. As you can see I did a large meander to quilt it.

In the background you can see where I've started to take the paper off the walls. I'm hoping to get the bedroom decorated before I go back to work. It hasn't been done in some time so is in dire need of a revamp.

I'm linking this post with Link a Finish Friday at Richard and Tanya Quilt. I'm hoping to have another finish next week.

For now I'm back to my cutting so I can start the sewing tomorrow. I hope you're all having a good summer.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Piggy Bank, Hexies and Fabric

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster for trying to get things done. Monday saw the last of the assessment meetings at work and the only marking remaining for the summer are the resubmissions following referrals. Fortunately I don't have too many of those to come in so that gives me a little breathing space. Next up I've been trying to get everything ready for the start of the new academic year. To feel really comfortable the first three weeks work needs to be fully prepared. That's almost completed and so very soon I will be able to sit back and enjoy the summer.

Trying to get the day job sorted hasn't left much time for sewing but I have got my projects reorganised so I know what I'm doing. It's very confusing when I haven't worked on a project for a while and it seems to take an age to get my brain back into gear.

First up I reloaded the printer drivers on my computer. I haven't made the hexie blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for May, June or July because I didn't have any templates. I printed them out earlier today and sat watching an episode of NCIS whilst I cut them out. Now I need to get the fabrics from my stash and get cutting.

Valerie from Val's Quilting Studio invited me to join in with her Piggy Bank Challenge - money for quilting challenge. This seemed like a good idea as fabric is quite expensive. At the same time I was tidying my daughter's bedroom. She has moved into a flat with her boyfriend and some friends but seems to have left most of her belongings. On a shelf I found this cute piggy bank and I've adopted it for this challenge.

I had some change in my purse so he's feeling a little full. Hopefully by the end of June next year I will have a good amount to spend on fabric.

A couple of months ago I was asked to make a quilt. Lauren had the fabric she wanted me to use and she wanted different sized squares or rectangles. I decided the best approach was to make nine patch blocks and then cut them. This would gives squares and rectangles. I took some photos as I went along but at the moment can only find these ones.

I think the next steps are on my other camera. The blocks are large and so they went together very quickly. The quilt is all but finished, just a tiny bit of binding left to be stitched on by hand.

I also forgot to post the fabric I bought when we had our mini break. On the Saturday morning we went into Andover. There are two quilt shops in the area and we had planned to visit both but we spent so long in the one that we didn't have time for the other. A couple of the pieces are 1/2 metres whilst the rest are fat quarters.

I got some red fabric for the corset quilt I want to make. The gingham is Riley Blake and is for a blog hop I'm taking part in in September. 

The top two of these are for use in the Jane Austen family album quilt and the lower one I need for my grandmothers garden hexi quilt.

I don't have a particular use for these three but I like them. Do I need a better reason?

I particularly like the ducks and I do have another baby quilt to make soon. I could also use the leaf one in the Jane Austen quilt. I must try it with the other fabrics I've got.

Finally I've been making a T shirt dress.  This is a really simple design. Two pieces make the back with a central seam. Then there is the front and the sleeve pieces. The neck edge, sleeve and hem are finished with a simple narrow hem. I've still got to finish the neck and the hem. The fabric is cotton knit and will keep me cool in our current very hot weather. I'm currently working hard on losing weight so I wanted a couple of quick easy dresses that I could make from fabric in my dress making stash. I'll show you a photo when I've finished it.

Finally we have been having some amazing sunsets. I took this photo on my phone as we walked home on Saturday evening. Everyone was busy taking pictures on their phones. Unfortunately it doesn't do the sunset justice as it was so much better in real life.

Well that's all from me for now as I want to go and hunt the fabric for the hexies. I can then sit and do some stitching whilst watching something on the TV. I hope you've had a great weekend and the weather has been good for you. Here in London we have been enjoying a heat wave. I really hope it continues for a while.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Computers, sewing machines and catching up.

Wow I didn't realise it had been so long since I last wrote a post. Because my computer had to go away for repair I've had difficulties getting on line. I could sit and read through some blogs during my lunch hour at work but I couldn't realistically write a post. Never mind my computer arrived home last weekend so now I can get back to writing posts and catch up with what's been happening in blog land. My computer had a pleasant trip to Germany to be repaired and is now working well. It was also reset back to factory settings so I've got to reload some programmes and generally get it set up how I like it.

My sewing machine is also feeling fit and well after its health issue. The bobbin tension had been playing up and it just wasn't stitching correctly. It is also now fit and well again so I can get on and complete some of my projects.

The first job has been to make the Rainbow Scrap challenge blocks. The colour for June was yellow.

and July's colour is red.

I'm still working on the two hexi blocks.

It would have been lovely to spend lots of time sewing this week since I had my machine and computer back but I had the last bits of marking to finish and we had organised a mini break to celebrate the end of the academic year. Our main objective whilst away was to visit Chawton, the village where Jane Austen lived. Those of you who visit regularly will know she is one of my favourite writers and for a long time I have wanted to visit her home. The village and the house were charming and I can see why she was inspired to write whilst living here. I can also recommend lunch at The Greyfriar pub should you be visiting.

Jane Austen spent the last 8 years of her life in this cottage, which her brother Edward gave to his mother and two sisters for their use for the rest of their lives.

The house contained many Austen treasures including the table and chair where she used to write every morning. Both are protected by a screen to prevent visitors posing for photos. The quill pen is not original but does help remind people that all her books were written by hand using a quill pen. I learnt to write in pen using a dip pen and always made the most horrible mess that you could hardly read what I had written.

Upstairs the Admirals' room has memorabilia of Jane's two sailor brothers Francis and Charles. Francis became Admiral of the Fleet and was knighted by King William IV whilst Charles became a Rear Admiral and served in North American waters and later in the Far East. The cabin bed below would be packed up and taken aboard ship. I like the red and white coverlet.

A big reason for wanting to visit the house was to see the patchwork coverlet made by Jane, Cassandra (her sister) and their mother whilst they lived at Chawton. It doesn't have a wadding layer and hasn't been quilted but it is beautiful. I took quite a few photos. It is of the Old English Medallion pattern and the patches are all diamonds. the whole cover is hand stitched.

The cover has a border all round of small diamonds. Nine of the small diamonds fit into one of the larger diamond patches.

The sashing fabric is an ever popular polka dot.

The large medallion in the centre is a floral basket.

The overall effect is beautiful. The shadow on the cover is from the bed frame.

The garden was very tranquil. Jane wrote in the morning whilst her mother gave responsibility for the housekeeping to Cassandra so that she could enjoy her gardening and her embroidery.

Before we left Chawton we walked to St Nicholas Church.

Jane, Cassandra and their mother worshipped here regularly and Cassandra and their mother are buried here. Jane is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

The inside of the church was refreshingly cool on an exceeding hot day. The triptych behind the altar was delightful.

Finally walking back to the car we passed a field with these beautiful shire horses. I love the feathers on their hooves. They were intend on munching grass and wouldn't look up even to have their photo taken

I still have lots to write about in order to catch up all the posts I've missed but that will have to wait until tomorrow as I have a need to get the sewing machine purring once again.

Hope you are enjoying the weekend.


Monday, 23 June 2014

New puppy, poorly kitty and some knitting.

A couple of weeks ago Lucy's boyfriend got a puppy. I saw the pup briefly when he bought him home. He was lying on the back seat of the car looking a little perplexed by what was happening but still very interested and with a slight wag of his tail. Yesterday Richard took Scamp to meet the new pup who is about 14 weeks old. Pup, whose name is Buddy, is a Mastador which is a hybrid dog. He is a mixture of a purebred Mastiff and a purebred Labrador Retriever. He is going to be a large dog so Lucy felt it was important for him to meet Scamp so they could become friends. I think she plans for us to take them out for walks together as Buddy gets older.

Buddy seems to be a cute dog and I'm told he is very placid. I haven't had time to go and visit him yet.  Scamp was a little perturbed by this puppy who is larger than he is but they got on quite well.

Scamp is in desperate need of a trip to the groomers especially now the weather has gone so hot.

Whilst Scamp has been enjoying trips out we have had to keep Picasso in and we also had to take him to the vet. On Tuesday we noticed that his third eyelid was protruding. As it was covering a large amount of his eye we took him to the vet, who gave him a full check up and decided he had an eye infection. We were told to keep him in and it would resolve over a few days. Keeping Picasso in is very hard work but he is now looking much happier and behaving more like his old self.   

Picasso loves to hide in my sewing machine bag. Still a little way to go until his eyes look as good as they do in this photo.

My sewing machine should be back later this week and I will be able to get on with some FMQ. However until then I've been doing a little knitting. Earlier this year I knitted three prem baby hats in blue. I've now got a ball of pink yarn and will knit three more hats

These hats are perfect for the delicate heads of prem babies as they are knitted on 4 double ended needles so there aren't seams to cause unnecessary pressure. The other good point is they knit up very quickly.
I'm linking this post with Anything goes Mondays at Stitch by Stitch

I hope you've had a good Monday. Today has been busy but good. Now all I need to do is order my son's birthday present. His birthday is on Thursday but he only made a decision about what he wanted yesterday evening. Never mind it will be delivered on Wednesday. Then all that's left to do is try and get the family all together so we can have a family dinner. It was so much easier when the children were young. Trying to get three adult children in one place at the same time seems almost impossible at times.