Saturday, 17 November 2018

A trip to Ethiopia

I haven't posted on my blog for several weeks and I'm very sorry about that. I had lots to do to get ready for our trip to Ethiopia. First I had a lot of marking and lesson prep for work. I also needed to make sure everything was organised for Brownies as Lucy would be running the groups with help from Richard, our son. I wanted to be able to enjoy my holiday without worrying I'd forgotten to do something/

Anyway On Sunday 4th November John and I set off from our home in South London to head for Heathrow airport. We travelled by underground as it isn't a long journey and we get free travel, a perk of being over 60. Unfortunately the journey wasn't as quick as we expected due to engineering works on the lines and a broken down train. We did arrive on time even with those problems and we got our flight. 

The flight was overnight and during that time I watched 3 movies and played lots of games. I just couldn't sleep but John slumbered happily next to me.  As we came into land at Addis Ababa airport I managed to get a good view of the magnificent sunrise, the colour was amazing.

Our trip to Ethiopia had been organised by the priest from the church we attend. There were 19 members of the church on the trip and it was about discovering the country but also following the development of Christianity in Ethiopia. It took some time to clear the airport as we had to get a visa in order to enter the country. Eventually our whole group had our visas and we could pass into the luggage hall, collect our bags and meet our guide for the trip. We travelled to our hotel so we could have a short rest before our first visit. I certainly needed a short lie down and a cup of coffee.

Our first visit was to The Holy Trinity Cathedral, the highest ranking Ethiopian orthodox church and the second most important  place of worship in the country.  The church was built to celebrate the country's liberation from Italian occupation.

The church compound is the burial ground of those people who fought against the Italian occupation.  We found the grave of Sylvia Pankhurst in the compound and that of her son.  She was an English campaigner for the suffragette movement, a prominent left communist. Later in her life she spent much of her time agitating on behalf of Ethiopia. At the invitation of Haille Selassie she moved to Addis in 1956 with her son Richard. She died in Addis Ababa in 1960 and was buried in the compound in front of the cathedral. She is the only foreigner to be buried there.

 Inside the church there were some very colourful stained glass windows, depicting bible stories.

After visiting the church we had a look round the compound and then we visited the National museum to see Lucy. Lucy is the name given to the the bones of a 3.2 million year old skeleton found near the village of Hadar. She was called Lucy because the Beatles song, 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds' was playing very loudly and on repeat all evening of the first day of work at the recovery site.

Whilst I was in the museum the journey and lack of sleep caught up with me and I had to sit down for a while. Once back on my feet I checked out some of the textiles on display. They were outfits worn by officials and were beautifully embroidered.

The lighting was very dim as the fabrics were very fragile. As they were in glass cases I got the reflection on the glass. 

This one had feathers and fur .

In one of the upstairs rooms there were several paintings .

Outside in the garden we found a couple of huge tortoises. Unfortunately there was nothing to give an idea of size.

There were a lot of colourful flowers in the garden and lots of birds. Several people on the trip were very interested in bird watching so we regularly had to stop to identify the birds and plants.

There was a huge amount of building going on in the city and we were fascinated by the scaffolding. They used eucalyptus wood to make the scaffold poles and they were nailed together. It looked a little dangerous.

By this time the light was beginning to fade so we headed back to the hotel for dinner and a good sleep.

I took some embroidery with me but unfortunately the lighting in the hotel rooms was rather dim so by evening I couldn't see clearly enough to do any stitching. Instead I read a chapter of the book I had with me before bed.

I'll tell you some more about the trip tomorrow. For now I'm off to bed as I'm so tired from the trip. Whenever I sit down for a few minutes I find I've fallen asleep.


Sunday, 14 October 2018

Working in the sun and stitching in the rain.

Having thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Stitching and Knitting exhibition with John on Friday, yesterday was a work day. Over the academic year the university holds a series of open days for potential students and we have to take part in them. They are quite fun events and it is great to meet potential students and their families. When I got up yesterday the temperature was already over 22 degrees celsius and the sun was shining as I drove to work. As I got out of the car at work the wind pushed me along. It seemed to be the perfect day to go walking but here I was at work. I spent the day in doors but every so often when I had the chance to look out of the window I could see that the weather was beautiful and just perfect for outdoor activities. Why is it that when the weather is good it's a work day. Fortunately the people we had visiting the university were very interested in the courses on offer and I had some great conversations with many young people and their parents about the next step in their education journey. Once home I was able to go out for a walk before the sun lost its heat and the day ended.

Fast forward to today when I have the time to do anything I want and what does the weather decide to do ...RAIN! Not that nice gentle refreshing rain that you don't mind walking in, that heavy rain that soaks through all your clothing even if its waterproof and leaves you cold and soggy. Under the circumstances there is only one thing a girl can do and of course that's get sewing.

So I made a few more 6 inch nine patch blocks. I now have 36 of them to go with the 47 snowball blocks. 

I decided to get out my squared paper and plan out the quilt I want to make for my brother. I will need to buy some fabric for the borders and sashing as I don't have any yardage  but at least I now know how the top will go together.

After that I set about cutting out the pattern and pattern pieces for Luna Lapin. I love this rabbit and want to make a couple of them as Christmas gifts. I only had grey felt but that will do for the first rabbit. This will be my slow stitching for the week as it is all put together by hand.

Before I settled down to start some stitching I checked how many bear paw blocks I had made and that the fat quarters I bought at the exhibition matched the backing fabric I'm using. These are going to be fine. The bear paw blocks are an ongoing project that won't be finished any time soon but every so often I put some work in to move it along.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching. It's so relaxing on a Sunday to work on some hand stitching. Why not pop over and see what everyone has been working on.

Back in August I visited the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Society of Art and I want to show you the photos I took. I took them on my phone and I've been having trouble getting them to upload to my computer but I think I'll solved that problem. I'll give it another try later this week.


Friday, 12 October 2018

The stitching and knitting show.

Every autumn there's a stitching and knitting show at Alexandra Palace in London and almost every year I go to feast my eyes on the fabrics and yarns, the quilts and amazing fabric art and of course to spend some money on supplies I desperately need. Usually John comes with me and we turn it into a treat day, having danish pastries with our morning coffee and enjoying a leisurely lunch in the restaurant. I took today off work as I have to take part in an open day tomorrow, so we headed to the show. It's open for 4 days, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's always better to visit on the weekday as the weekends are so crowded. There were several school trips in and it was lovely watching the teenagers interact with the staff on the stands and enjoying the fabric and yarns.John and I enjoyed a slow stroll round the show and I picked up loads of ideas for projects. I bought some neutrals to add to my stash and some micro buttons for use with my hand stitching projects.

There were lots of lovely quilts on display but what caught my interest were some pictures by Jenni Dutton of her mum who had dementia.  You can find out more information about Jenni and these pictures here

The pictures are very powerful and thought provoking.  The first one was of her mother as a young girl.

The early pictures were created from photos from her mother's photo album. 

I love these early pictures. They are all made with the same technique but it has been executed slightly differently from picture to picture.

Obviously at the time the early photos were taken the artists mum was fit and healthy and enjoying life but as the series progresses she starts to show signs that all is not well. The pictures also record the process of ageing very well

There is an amazing amount of detail in each picture and it has all been achieved using thread in a whole range of different colours. The effect is stunning.

The following pictures show the ageing  process very well. The colours used and how they are positioned next to each other gives the skin a fragile look with the blood vessels showing through.

The later pictures in the series made people cry as they witnessed the decline as the dementia took over .

Jenni's mum died peacefully on 27th September 2015. 

When I'm next teaching the students about dementia I'm going to use these pictures to  demonstrate the effects of the illness.  Although the pictures were thought provoking and some people cried as they looked at them, I also found them joyful because Jenni had captured the person behind the eyes.

John and I had a fun day at the show and this year I didn't over spend. I saw an embroidery I liked and john bought it for my birthday, which means I have to wait until December before I can have it, but that gives me time to finish one of my other projects. By the time we got home I was tired and this evening I didn't even have the energy to do any hand stitching. Maybe I'll get some sewing done tomorrow evening.


Monday, 8 October 2018

Sunday sun and stitching

Yesterday Lucy, John and I were supposed to be walking but when I checked my emails over an early morning cup of tea I had a reminder that I was teaching a first aid course for my guide county. That was a bit disappointing as the three of us have been rather busy lately and so we haven't been walking for a while. I had to get a bit of a wriggle on to get to the venue on time and I left John and Lucy trying to decide where they were going to walk. I enjoyed my journey as I was travelling in my new car which I'll tell you all about it in another post. The course I was teaching started at 9:30 and at 10 a.m. the rain started. The rain caused the temperature to drop dramatically and by lunch time we were all feeling very cold. The rain kept on all day and I was relieved that I hadn't gone walking. We do go walking in the rain but the rain was more like monsoon season and our waterproof clothing wouldn't have kept us dry all day. When I got home I found that John and Lucy had taken Scamp for a walk around the common and got very wet so they decided to stay home and catch up on some work.

I'd planned on sewing yesterday evening but in the end I decided to do some reading. That meant that today I had to do some catching up. I have spent the last two weeks sorting out all my sewing bits. I checked and logged all my projects, including, quilting, embroidery, dress making, knitting and crocheting projects.It's good knowing what I'm working on. As part of the sorting I rediscovered my snowball blocks. I have 47 of these 6 inch blocks and to go with them I'd started making some 6 inch 9 patch blocks. I want to use these blocks to make a quilt for my younger brother. I also have quite a few 6 inch churn dash blocks. The churn dash blocks were made as part of the RSC 16 so they are in a range of colours.

The nine patch are totally scrappy.

This morning I made a start on some more 9 patch blocks.


I also found my charm packs as I am making another set of nine patch blocks but this time using 5 inch squares. It's so easy using pre cuts but I do find that there are always a few squares that I don't use purely because I don't like the fabric.

Today the weather has been really warm and sunny, such a change from yesterday. The sun shining through the windows made the colours in the fabrics really pop. I opened the doors into the garden whilst I sewed. Autumn is definitely on the way and I wont be able to enjoy sewing with the doors open for much longer so it was great to enjoy it while I could.

This evening I finally finished the unicorn hat I've been making. All the crochet was done a little while back but I needed to stitch the horn and ears to the hat and then weave in the mane. This was a fun project to make, especially making the mane. 

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday stitching. Why not pop over and see what everyone has been working on.

Tomorrow I'm going to work out the arrangement I'll use for the 6 inch blocks to turn them into a quilt top. I'm hoping I've made enough blocks so I can get the top put together this week. For the next two months I have minimal teaching so I can have more time for stitching which will be fun. Plus I have a holiday coming up in November. 

For now I need to sort myself out so I've got everything ready for work tomorrow. 


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Slow down, it's Sunday!

All week at work has been rush rush rush so I planned on having a quiet and relaxing day. The fact that it was raining for most of the time made it much easier as I couldn't rush around getting any outside jobs done. This morning I settled on a little more sorting and tidying. This proved most beneficial as I found two £25 gift cards that Lucy and I had been given last year when we took the Guides to Switzerland. I knew they were in the house somewhere but just couldn't place where they'd been put. They'd got mixed up with the accounts paperwork from the camp. I guess next weekend Lucy and I will have a shopping trip which will result in us spending much more than the gift cards, but it will be fun.

I settled down with Scamp to finish off the hat. This didn't take too long but I did have to check out how to decrease stitches in crochet. I'm not even sure if I've ever decreased stitches before.  I then used an accent colour to go all round the edge of the hat and made braids to hang from the ear flaps.

My next job is to stitch the horn and the ears. Before I can finish the unicorn off I will need to get some more yarn. I need rainbow colours but I only have yellow, orange and green at the moment. I've got to pick up some fabric tomorrow so I'll also get the yarn. I'm really liking the speed that this project is going together. 

Towards the end of the afternoon I spent a little time planning my sewing storage. I love the planning stage as it's much less tiring and stressful than actually organising anything. I need to get a handle on the projects I'm working on and make a plan to move them forward. It's so easy to decide there isn't time to do anything in an evening when I get in from work but this just isn't true. This week I've spent a little time each day working on my hand stitching which is very relaxing.

At about 6 p.m. the sun suddenly popped its head out from behind the clouds so Scamp and I rushed out to enjoy a short walk. The temperature has dropped a lot but it isn't really cold and we both enjoyed the exercise. Having now had dinner and cleared up after it we are all ready for a chill out evening. Scamp keeps looking at my lap so I need to finish this post and decide what slow stitching to work on this evening. I think I may just decide to make the unicorn ears and horn so I can start assembling the hat. Once they're stitched I will pull out the latest bag lady and get a little more done on her. Scamp loves slow stitching on a Sunday as he gets to sleep on my lap.

I'm linking this post with Katy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching Pop over and see what everyone has been working on today.


Crochet time.

Thank goodness it's the weekend. Last week was tiring and the storm on Thursday night didn't help. The wind and rain really stressed Scamp and he whined and shook like a leaf for hours. We were lucky in London with no flooding or damage but I must admit that the storm was scary. Whilst teaching on Friday the rain was being blown horizontal by the wind which was interesting to watch. I was supposed to be visiting my brother in Leicester this weekend but he rang to cancel as the weather was so bad. As a result I had a free evening so I started a new project. 

I haven't done very much crochet in the last few years and certainly didn't plan on doing any now. When I went searching on the internet for a pattern to make a unicorn hat, I found a suitable pattern very quickly  all thanks to Google. I had been planning to knit the hat but what I found was a crochet pattern. I had to buy some yarn and hunt out my crochet hooks before I could make a start. I took the pattern with me to buy the yarn rather than just making a note of what I needed. It's fortunate that I did as it proved really useful. The yarn I needed was worsted weight which in the UK is double knitting or aran weight. The lady who served me was very helpful and found the perfect yarn and whilst chatting with her she mentioned that the stitches had different names in the US to the UK. The first thing I did when I got home was check it out on the internet and sure enough double crochet stitches are treble stitches in the UK. Having sorted that out I was ready to start.

I've now reached the point I need to add the ear flaps. This is a very quick project and should be done by this time next week. I can't wait to add the rainbow mane!

On Thursday I gave my student the quilt I'd made for her baby son. She bought him in to meet her fellow students and they loved having a cuddle with him. He's ten days old and such a little cutie.

Today I've also continued with my cleaning and clearing drive. I took all my clothes from the wardrobe and went through everything. I tried all the items on and several items are now destined for the charity shop. Tomorrow I'm going to go through all the clothes in my chest of drawers. Having now made some space I guess I can go shopping for some new clothes.

Tomorrow I plan on doing some sewing. It's lovely having a free weekend as it means I have time to work on my projects.


Sunday, 16 September 2018

Sunday at last.

This last week has been a little mad with lots of travelling for work and too little time at home. After the busy week a quiet weekend would have been a good idea but I decided to start a big sort out of all my personal and Guide paperwork and make sure it's up to date and filed correctly. It's the start of my plan to become a highly organised person! OK so it's never going to happen completely but I can dream. Plus if I get more organised I'll have more time for stitching. Here in the UK we have a new guide programme that covers all the age ranges.We have until August 2019 to implement it but Lucy and I decided to start it now. A lot of this afternoon was spent going through the old resources and consigning it to the paper recycling bin. The dust from the paper gave me a serious sneezing fit and Scamp joined in as well.

Once I gone through everything I'd planned for the day it was time to turn my mind to sewing. First I remembered that I hadn't shown you a picture of the completed baby quilt I made so I pulled the gift bag from the cupboard. The student has had her baby and is bringing him in to show the class on Thursday so I thought I'd take it into work and store it in my desk so I didn't forget it. It's a good job I decided to do that because when I took it out of the bag to photograph I found this.

Looking at it a vague memory came to mind. A memory of having unexpected guests and tidying it into the gift bag to keep it clean and out of the way. I sat down and finished stitching the binding on and then lay it on the bed to take a photo.

Mmm I really must get round to redecorating the bedroom. It was planned to be done during our summer holiday but we just ran out of time. I guess it will have to wait until Christmas.

Having done that my problem was deciding what to work on next. I need to take some time out to list all my projects. As they aren't all stored in the same place it's a little difficult to keep track of them. Getting organised will mean making a full inventory so I know where I am. My problem is that I love finishing projects but starting a new project is even more enjoyable. A year or two ago Barbara, from Cat patches, ran a NewFO challenge. Each month you had to start a new fabric project. Now that was no problem because I love starting something new but I still have several of them that aren't finished. I'm not complaining and it definitely wasn't Barbara's fault but I do need to finish up a few of them.

Anyway after a lot of indecision I decided to spend the rest of my sewing time today working on my grandmother's garden quilt. For this row round the central hexie is one of the rainbow colours and the outer hexies are white. I need to prep a whole lot of white hexies. It's a good sewing job to do whilst watching a movie or chatting and is perfect for a Sunday evening.

Being an English paper piecing project this is really slow but fun to do. It will be finished eventually. 

Tomorrow evening I'm going to make a start on reorganising the sewing projects including making a full list of where I'm at with each of them. For now I'm going to carry on with some slow Sunday stitching.

Take care and stay safe.