Monday, 10 April 2017

A slow weekend.

The hustle and bustle of the week is over and except for work on Tuesday I have two weeks holiday. Don't you just love a week off to catch up on things and do just what you want. I made a start on doing just that on Friday. Lucy and I took Scamp for a long walk over the common. It was warm and sunny and we talked as we ambled along. It was great to catch up on the gossip and make plans for next week as Lucy is on holiday as well. It was also lovely to see the bluebell in bloom.

Having walked we then had a pedicure. So relaxing and I love the colour of my nail varnish. 

When we arrived home my subscription box had arrived which is always fun. This is a small box and can fit through our letterbox easily. Even though it's little I haven't had time to start any projects using the contents from the last three boxes so I hoping to do that next week. I hate having pretty fabric and projects just sat around waiting to be made.

There are some hand quilting needles in the box which is good as I'd been meaning to buy some but I just haven't got round to it.

Over the weekend I've been having a bit of a cleaning frenzy (not too much of one so don't panic). Work has been very busy this year and with my chemo it's been the housework that has gone to the wall. My family have been great and kept the everyday cleaning up to date but it's the extra bits that needed doing such as cleaning under the beds and restoring order to cupboards and drawers. As I've sorted and cleaned quite a lot of stuff has gone to the charity shop and some straight in the rubbish bin. The weather has also been beautiful over the weekend so in between cleaning I've had lots of walks.

By evening I've been ready for a rest and a slower pace. I wanted to do a little more work on Millicent before I put her away. I'm not sure why but she really captured my imagination and I want to get her finished.

I'm satin stitching the patches on her dress and I found some silver thread for the hat pin (you can just catch the glitter).

This month I'm working on Gertrude and she is another cute lady. I started work on her on Sunday having finally put Millicent away. I was catching up with a couple of TV programmes so my stitching was extra slow but very relaxing.

I also needed to cut out some paper templates for my grandmother's garden quilt. These are 1 inch hexies and I usually print out 10 sheets at a time. This was always my go to project for stitching during my train journeys to work when I'm in Reading but I haven't been doing that recently. I need to move this project forward a little and over the next few nights I'll cut the fabric before stitching by hand.

Finally I collected my wig on Wednesday last week. I still have quite a lot of my hair but it is rather thin and I look a bit like a monk with a very large patch on the top of my head being covered by new soft fluffy hair. I'm impressed it's growing back nice and dark and I hope it keeps on doing that. Anyway I didn't want a wig in my natural colour and John said he didn't marry a blond so what else could I do but go red. The fringe needs a trim and as a result the wig is not positioned on my hairline in this picture. It also needs a little shaping but it is fun to wear. My older daughter's friend Joanna is going to sort it for me over the holiday.

Sorry I'm looking a bit grumpy but I'd not used the camera on my new phone and couldn't get the forward facing camera to work at first. As you can see it's long and curly. I just decided that I needed to have a little fun. During the summer, when all of my hair has gone I'm planning to have a henna tattoo on my head as it will be too hot to wear a hat, wig or scarves.

I'm linking this post to Kathy at Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching  Pop over and see what everyone has been working on. For now I'm off to do a little more slow stitching on Gertrude, after all why only slow stitch on a Sunday.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

April already?

This year seems to be hurtling along at break neck speed. I'd like to hop off the express train that is 2017 and take a slow train so I can enjoy the scenery along the way.  As each year passes life just seems to get busier and faster than the year before. That's why I love to slow it all down on a Sunday. In fact the whole of this weekend has been at a slower pace. After my treatment on the 24th March I felt very energetic over the weekend and that continued all week. Probably a good thing as I was working every day, but I do love chill out time. I started on Friday evening and haven't pushed myself to do anything since. Don't get me wrong I haven't just sat around all weekend I have done other things such as lounging on the sofa watching TV, lying on my bed with the sun streaming though the windows reading my book and sitting in my armchair cuddling Scamp and Picasso. I've even been out and about but at a much slower pace.

I'd booked Scamp a grooming appointment on Saturday morning. I like to keep his hair short as he's such an active little dog. If you let it grow too long it gets tangled and he hates too much brushing, he has more important things to do.  This is Scamp last year after his early summer clip. It's been such a slow weekend I haven't taken a photo of him yet.

I always book his grooming for 8.45 on a Saturday and once he has been booked in John and I head for Orange Pekoe, a very small cafe in Barnes. They specialise in teas so this is paradise for me, and they also have a good range of coffees which keeps John happy. The picture is from their site and shows some of the containers of teas they have. They also do infusions.

Photo of Orange Pekoe

They have a good breakfast menu and both John and I chose to have smashed avocado and crab meat on toasted sourdough bread. It was really yummy.

After breakfast we still had some time before Scamp would be finished so we walked along the river to the Leg of Mutton Nature Reserve. This is a former reservoir which provides a quiet space for ducks and other waterfowl to breed. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the flowering trees were in blossom, the rest are coming into leaf and there was a lot of bird activity on the water.

Looking at the picture it's hard to believe it is in London as it looks like it could be out in the country. You can just see a building through the trees.

Once we had collected Scamp we headed home and my lazy Saturday really began. It was so much fun catching up on a couple of programmes I'd recorded, and then catching up with some reading. In the evening we sat and watched a film will I did some knitting.

Today another slow start and then some hand stitching. I hadn't got very far with Millicent but I put a little more work in and she is starting to look good. Unfortunately John managed to spill his coffee over her and Picasso sat on her and left fur everywhere so she needs a gentle wash. My stitching is also slow as the drug I'm currently being given has affected my eyes. They should return to normal after the treatment finishes but it makes close work quite difficult.

These bag ladies have a character all of their own and I saw Millicent as having very thick hair so I've stitched it using long and short stitch and also worked it with two stands of floss but both different shades of brown. I like how it has worked so far. I need to get some purple floss this week as I don't appear to have any.  I 'm going to work on her this evening and then switch to Gertrude who is April's bag lady. I haven't taken the backing paper off Gertrude yet.

I love the look of her hair and the pearls or beads are fabulous. I'm trying to decide how to change the flag for the UK flag. It is especially important to me to do this as the UK as I have always known it may not exist in a few years time if Scotland and Northern Ireland vote to leave. 

Tomorrow it's back to work. This week is slightly lighter as I'm working three and a half days. My hair is now quite thin and on Wednesday I'm collecting my wig. I decided to get one for those special occasions which for me includes the university graduation ceremonies. It's the students day and as most of them want photos with their tutor I always try to look really good and this year will be no exception. Come Thursday evening I have free time over the next two weeks. I have to go into work on the 11th April for students presentations but other than that I will be on leave. I'm doing a happy dance because that means sewing time!

I'm linking this post with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching and also with Barbara at  Cat Patches for her bag lady link up party.

Umm now I need food and then back to my bag ladies.


Sunday, 26 March 2017

Slow stitching Sunday

Thursday was my clinic appointment prior to chemo on Friday. Last week I had a scan to check how treatment is working. The scan showed the lump is smaller and all is going well. I've acquired a tickly cough at night which is a side effect of treatment but my oncologist got me to have a chest X-ray just to check all is well. No problems seen and my blood results are OK so treatment went ahead as planned. With that in mind I needed to plan for some sewing over the weekend. I can do some machine stitching but I find I need lots of naps. Cutting pieces doesn't work well at this point as I seem to lose concentration quite quickly and I also fall asleep easily. I've found a variety of projects to work on helps me chill out and relax. On Friday afternoon after the chemo I decided to watch TV and woke up 6 hours later. I also slept all night so on Saturday morning I felt quite rested.

Saturday was a lovely warm day and John and I had some errands to do. We needed to pick up a recorded delivery item from the sorting office. Following this walk I cut out the pieces for two of the star blocks on my compass quilt. The cutting went well but I think I unpicked every seam on this block twice.

I'm still not happy with it but it will do for now. After that we walked to the store to get some milk and bread (and a little treat). The little treat was enjoyed with a cup of tea before starting to stitch the second block. this one went together easily.

It was nice sitting at the dinning table sewing. John was working on his laptop at the opposite end although he disappeared when I prepared to take this picture.

A little later since I was feeling full of energy we decided to drive to the common and give Scamp a run. Not such a long walk as usual but we all enjoyed it as the sun was warm. During the evening I did some knitting, watched some more TV and finally went to bed to read as I didn't feel tired. 

Today we took Scamp for a longer walk walk over the common and the weather was even warmer. It is lovely to see the sun after the bleak, wet days we've been having. Once home I decided to cut and sew another block for the Austen Family quilt. This time I had problems with the cutting. First I cut two squares into quarter triangles when I should have cut them into half square triangles and then I cut a strip 4 1/4 inch instead of 4 1/2. I have a lot the fabric so it didn't cause a problem just annoyance. However this time the sewing went well.

Then I really had to get down to one of my least favourite jobs - repairs. John had a couple of shirts that needed buttons re stitching and I'd torn a small hole in the side of a top when I got caught on a pin at work. This evening I eventually made a start on sewing on some more badges to the camp blanket. Oh why don't I sew them on when I get them?  Most of this lot have now been added, just 5 to go. That isn't the end of them as I have a bag full to add. I haven't really sewn any badges on for 4 years.

I was going to do some more on Millicent but decided not to as just stitching the badges down was rather taxing. I'm not sure my embroidery stitches would have been straight. Hopefully tomorrow night I'll get to do more embroidery.

I'm linking with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching Hand stitching on a Sunday is very restful and gives you a little space to think. Do go and see what everyone has been working on today.


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Wednesday work in progress.

If you're looking for the Quasy Quilt Queens post please click here

Today was a day off and I had hoped to take Scamp for a walk over the common but the weather just wasn't cooperating. The day is cold and very wet so I decided that it was better for Scamp to stay home and have play time indoors. However I did venture out as I had a few errands to run. I needed stamps and some craft bits for our Rainbow meeting this evening. By the time I got home I was cold and wet and in need of something to cheer me up. What better way than getting out my sewing. The next round on my compass quilt is star blocks but before I can do that I needed to cut all the borders. The star and flying geese borders use all the fabrics left after all the other borders have been cut. When I looked again at the pattern I'd already got a lot done but I needed to cut the green narrow borders before moving on. Cutting the green borders didn't take long and I was able to move on to cutting the centre of the stars. That's when Picasso decided it would be fun to sit with his tail across my cutting board. Whichever way I turned he re positioned himself to put his tail in the cutting line.

In the end I played with him for a while and commiserated with him about the weather. He loves to be outdoors during the day and he was most upset. I finished cutting the star block centres (the two lots of squares) and the narrow green border strips. Next I need to trim the four small compass blocks to 8 and half inches square. After that I need to cut the pile of fabrics on the left for the star blocks.

I could be cutting for some time and thankfully Picasso has gone out as the rain has stopped for a while. I have 20 blocks to cut before I start sewing. and I need to remember that I need alternate light and dark backgrounds.

Whilst I was taking photos I decided to show you these cute fabrics Lucy gave me last night. She was near our local quilt shop and popped in to see if there was anything I'd like.  I love them all particularly the one with the sewing machine on it. I have been meaning to make a cover for my machine and now I have the perfect fabrics.

Last night John and Richard were both out and I'd hoped to have a quiet evening watching a good film and getting on with stitching Millicent, the latest bag lady. Sadly the phone kept ring and in the en I gave up with the stitching and film, just watched the news and went to bed. Maybe this evening I'll have a chance to do some stitching when I get home from Guides.

So now I'm going to get back to my cutting. I should be able to get most of it done today.


Monday, 20 March 2017

Quasy Qwilt Queens

Quilt Qwazy Queens 2017

Welcome to the Quilt Qwasy Queens blog hop organised by Marian from Seams to be Sew to celebrate Worldwide Quilting Day.  For this hop we were asked to show you our sewing room or how we organise, a favourite tutorial or something we make again and again.  So no pressure to get a project made for the event and panicking if I'll get it finished in time.

We live in London UK and have a mid terrace house. For the last 2 years we have been renovating it, starting with a complete rewire and redo of the plumbing and heating system followed by a new kitchen, completely redecorating and in April having all the windows replaced. We have 3 grown up children and only 2 still live at home so finally there will be a bedroom that will become the guest room / sewing room. This room is still in a state of great turmoil being the last room that will be done so for the moment I am continuing to use my normal sewing space.....the dining room table.

The dining table gets used for all aspects of sewing. From cutting out my dressmaking patterns,

laying out and organising fabrics for my latest quilt,

and where I use my sewing machine. Currently in one corner of the dining room I have a box which contains my fabric stash and scraps. The box used to hold everything but now it's bursting at the seams with my projects. Maybe I ought to finish a few of them.

Soon all of this will move upstairs and will be stored in a cupboard (which has yet to be built). I store my projects in zip lock bags or plastic boxes and within them I keep the pieces for the individual blocks together by using plastic bags.

My two favourite tools for making sewing easier are my magnifier light.

This light makes it possible for me to see well enough in the evening to do some hand stitching such as cross stitch, applique, sewing on bindings or English paper piecing. This picture was taken when we were still decorating but now the bamboo flooring has been laid and all the furniture is back in its rightful place.

For embroidery where I need to copy the pattern I usually use Fabric solvy.

You need to follow the instructions carefully but I find it works very well and allows me to stitch without needing to have a light box to draw out the pattern. Once stitching is complete it washes out easily in lots of warm water.

An important element of my quilting is my piggy bank. This little fella likes to take care of my change. When I'm visiting quilt shops this means I have money to buy some of the delicious fabric on offer.  Without my piggy bank I wouldn't be able to buy those items that I don't really need for the projects I'm working on but which I just can't leave the shop without.

As always with a blog hop there are giveaways. Unfortunately I can't get the files to open properly so I'm emailing Marian and hopefully will have it all up and running correctly very soon. Meanwhile why not go and visit the other people hopping today and come back later to enter the giveaway.

March 21

It's been great to have you visiting and I hope to see you again soon. Once all our refurbishments are complete I post lots of pictures and show you round my sewing room.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

It's been a while!

It's been a while (nearly 3 weeks) since I last did any sewing or blogging. I'm not sure why it's been so long as I've had some time available but two weeks ago I started reading a book that I couldn't put down, nothing heavy just a good murder mystery. Once home from work I was rushing through preparing dinner so I could get back to the book. On the 3rd March I had my second lot of chemo which does slow me down a bit but worse still makes my eyesight a little blurry for a several days. I can't risk cutting myself with the rotary cutter or sewing seams completely wrong. Last week was a busy week at work with teaching all 5 days and overwhelming tiredness in the evenings. That meant housework to catch up on at the weekend and poor Scamp has missed out on quite a few walks so this morning we had to take him for a good run. Back home again and I feel like sewing. No I don't just feel like sewing I have a real need to stroke fabric and to make something. So what should I do first?

First I set about adding the green border to my compass quilt. I didn't have anyone to help by holding up the quilt so I folded it into four and took the picture this way.

The next row round is a star round but before that I need to cut out the rest of the different border pieces as you then use the remaining fabrics to cut the remaining blocks. Here's a picture of what it will look like.

As you can see there is a row of star blocks and then outside that flying geese blocks. I'm sorry about the picture but the pattern is glossy and it was difficult to get the lighting right. Just as I added the picture I realised I should have scanned it in as it would have given a clearer image. Never mind, hopefully you get the idea of the next stage of the quilt.

Before getting on with the cutting I wanted to get my hand stitching organised. I started making some place mats last year but I've never finished them all. I found this lovely Clarice Cliff design fabric and it's exactly what I wanted. I added a narrow border of black and then I'm hand quilting the mats.

I'm quilting around the outline of the design and I love the way the mats look when they are completed. I'm making 8 in all.

Next I pulled out the March bag lady. Meet Millicent, isn't she adorable. Having found the threads I needed I just had to make a start. I've had fun stitching her hair and her scarf this afternoon. So much so that I didn't get my cutting done. 

As soon as I've finished writing this post I getting back to my stitching as this is just so relaxing. I'm only working a couple of days this week so I'll have time to do some more work on the quilt.

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


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Sewing and ironing.

Today I had planned a sewing day but I have an ironing mountain of Everest proportions so I needed to get it under control. What? You think I ditched the sewing in favour of the ironing? Not a chance. I had intended to put the lining in my green jacket but then I spied the box with my Mariner's Compass quilt and changed my mind. The last time I worked on this quilt I completed the centre panel.

Today I wanted to add up to the first border. A happy time was spent cutting and sewing and a while later I had 4 pieces that looked like this.

The pieces all look neat on the back

The pieces were than sewn onto the central square. This was a fun experience because those triangles are 30 inches across the long edge and stitching on the bias is always a little challenging. Finally it was done and I'm pleased with the result.

Every time I tried to take a photo Scamp plonked himself on the top so he could be in the photo. He wasn't at all concerned that I wanted the top all neatly laid out. He has been most helpful all day when I've been muttering about the sizes of the strips I needed to cut and as I cut the 45 degree angles. As I pressed each seam he demanded a scratch behind his ears before I could stitch the next seams, he insisted it was to make sure I didn't tire myself out. Anyway he has signed the top off as up to required quality so far. I'll do the first border when next I work on this.

The good news is that not only have I got on with my quilt top I have also ironed some shirts,

and a small pile of T shirts and pillow cases.

For each seam I sewed I ironed 1 item. That helped reduce the ironing mountain a little. I'll do some more tomorrow.

Tonight I'm watching Kingsman and doing some knitting. Scamp is already curled up comfortably on my lap and Picasso is asleep on the back of my chair. We've had a very tasty take away curry and all's well with the world (if you exclude politics etc etc).