Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Weekend stitching and knitting.

When I posted on Wednesday of last week  I told you that Scamp had been vomiting overnight but had been a bit brighter in the morning. John sent me a text early on that day to say Scamp had eaten a little and by the time I got home he seemed a happier dog. He still wasn't completely recovered but he was behaving more like normal. We think he ate something he shouldn't and it upset his stomach. Yorkshire terriers have quite delicate digestive systems but they are also dreadful scavengers and Scamp is no exception. He's not allowed table scraps but  he's very good at convincing people to give him some and occasionally that results in him being unwell. He's now back to his happy self and enjoyed a long walk today across the local common on Sunday morning. It's not only Scamp who's feeling better, I am now that my fur baby is OK.

Very little sewing happened at the end of last week so over the weekend I needed to catch up but on Saturday we had arranged to go to the Courtauld Impressionists, an exhibition at the National Gallery, with Katy. The gallery was very crowded but the pictures were good. 
By the time we got home and had cooked dinner there wasn't much time for sewing. Here are a couple of photo of the pictures that I really like. The first one is Man with a pipe by Paul Cezanne.

The next one is The Skiff by Pierre Auguste  Renoir.

This picture by Edouard Manet titled A Bar at the Folies-Bergere. This is the last major work he completed. There are several puzzles in this picture with the main problem being the mirror image doesn't match what is being reflected

I liked this one, also by Edouard Manet, Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil. Manet was visiting Monet in 1874 and he painted this picture of Monet's wife Camille and their son Jean as they watched the sailing boats.

Finally this one, Bathers at  Asnieres by Georges Seurat was very popular with lots of people standing for ages to look at it.

On Sunday I pulled out an unfinished project, a new Christmas quilt that I started last year. In fact I started it for the Christmas in July blog hop but I didn't get very far with it. 

Above is how far the project had got at the time of the blog hop. I put the pieces away for a while and when I took it out again I couldn't work out what I was doing so I put it away again.
Today I said enough is enough, this quilt needs to be finished. The quilt has two main types of blocks. I got on and  made up all of the first blocks.

The second group of blocks includes a star and for this I was using green and white. I'd already made some of the star blocks but I need to make the rest and to do this I had to trim the HST blocks. I got some done but the rest will have to wait until tomorrow 

At this point John offered me a glass of wine and I gladly accepted. I couldn't find my 2 and half inch square ruler and so trimming the blocks was proving a little tedious. I'll have another look for the ruler tomorrow as it will make the trimming go more quickly. I am making the quilt from a pattern but I decided to increase the size. This is what caused me some confusion since for some reason I'd forgotten that I'd planned a larger quilt. 

I also completed Tiny Tuesday block 2 and added the settings for block 1 and 2. I decided I wanted to use black as my background colour.

I need to check out block 3 and that will get made at the weekend. 

The rest of this week is very busy but I'm hoping for some sewing time on Thursday. Meanwhile I've been fitting in a few rows of knitting each day to help move that project along.

The weather here in the UK is due to go a lot colder and  last week we had the first frost of 2019 here in London. At least it wasn't a heavy frost so it didn't take very long to warm up the car.

I'm off to bed now as I want to read a few pages of my book before I go to sleep. I'm finding it hard to fit any reading into my day and I have so many books on my reading wish list. 


Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Cutting and stitching.

Just before we went to bed last night Scamp vomited. He seemed OK afterwards but later in the night he vomited again a couple of times. We sorted him out, made sure he drank some water and headed back to bed. He wouldn't settle at first and I ended up holding him in my arms. He eventually feel into a peaceful sleep and I managed to put him down next to me. When the alarm went off I felt drained but I was very pleased to see that Scamp's ears were up and he seemed better. As I got ready to go to work he went back to sleep. John was home today so he would look after him and take him to the vet if needed. I had to go into work in the morning for a meeting  but then I needed to head home to go for my mammogram. In the meeting I felt my phone ping and John had put a comment on WhatsApp saying Scamp was up and about and had eaten his food. The big problem with Scamp is that like most dogs he is a bit of a scavenger so he sometimes eats things he shouldn't.

Once home I had to have a nap as the night really had been disturbed. Feeling refreshed I set about doing some sewing. This year I'm trying to do a minimum of half an hour a day on at least one of my projects and so far I've succeeded.

I  decided I wanted to make the tablecloth pattern that came in my subscription box. The first thing to do was to cut the fabrics. I now have all the pieces cut and I'm ready to start sewing on Thursday.

Picasso had been helping in the cutting process, trying to hold down fabric but also worringly getting his tail in the way. I told him firmly that he could help but please keep all body parts away from the cutting edge. His response was to settle himself on my hat (yes it is a bear hat) facing the other way. He spent some time studiously ignoring me.

I'm joining in with the Tiny Tuesday blocks  at So Scrappy  The first block was released last week on the 1st January. The colour this month for the RSC19 is red so I hunted out some red string scraps. The blocks make up at 5 inches and I quickly had my completed block. This is a first for me as I haven't made any string blocks like this before. 

The second block was released yesterday. I won't have time to make it today but I'll get it done before the end of the week.

I also wrote about the pillow I made for Lucy. I realised I'd never shown the completed item so here's a picture.

The cover has just been washed but it didn't get ironed. Lucy doesn't iron anything if she can get away with it. As she said, by the time she's leaned against the pillow for a while the creases will all be flattened out.

This evening we restart our guide meetings so I won't have time for much sewing but I have got some hand stitching with me in case I get a little time over my lunch break. Tomorrow I have a day off and I've planned in sewing. Unfortunately I have several household chores to do including ironing which I will try to finish in the morning, the afternoon can then be nothing but sewing.


Monday, 7 January 2019

It's Monday and I did some sewing!

It's Monday 7th January and I had to return to work. Oh the horror of opening my email and finding hundreds of messages needing to be dealt with and when did those meetings get put in my calendar even though there's no space.for them. The teaching was fun and I did manage to get some admin done but my to do list is longer than ever. Although I got into work at 7:45 this morning I didn't leave until 18:30 and I drove home grumbling quite loudly to myself.

Back at home I decided I needed to get some sewing in to lift my spirits. A little more of the quilting on Alex's quilt should make it all better. I set up my machine on the dining table and had about 30 to 40 minutes free before dinner would be ready. All was going fine when Scamp arrived and kept on tapping my leg with his paw. I picked him up and he lay across my lap. I had almost finished the block I was working on when Picasso jumped up as well. John took a picture at this point.

I could cope with Scamp lying across my lap. He hangs his head down and is soon snoring quietly but Picasso  is a real pain. If you don't take notice of him immediately he gets annoyed. I didn't completely finish the block I was working on but at least I moved the quilting forward a little.

I didn't get anything else done because Richard started a discussion about Brexit and a huge argument followed. That was odd as we all voted the same way so we didn't need to argue. Now that's all calmed down and and we can't work out how the argument started so to chill out before bed I'm going to catch up on my blog reading and do a few rows of knitting.

Tomorrow I have to go into work for a meeting in the morning but I need to come home after it because I have my mammogram appointment at 13:30. That doesn't usually take long and then I can take Scamp for a walk before getting on with my quilting. My January goal is to finish this quilt. I haven't booked a date to visit Alex but I need the quilt done so it's ready whenever we can fit the visit in.


Sunday, 6 January 2019

Sunday is for sewing

Yesterday was a funny sort of a day. It was cold but dry so in the morning we set out with Scamp to go for a walk around the common. We'd walked about half a mile when Scamp decided he didn't want to go any further. He may have been tired as Richard had taken him for a longish walk on Friday but that doesn't usually stop him wanting more. It could have been the road works at the top of the hill as Scamp doesn't like changes to his favourite walks. Anyway we took him home and then set out on our own. On the way to the common I dropped into the local fabric shop to pick up some thread and size 12 machine needles.

Back at home, after a cup of tea I pulled out Alex's quilt. When I last worked on this quilt I'd quilted 1 and a quarter rows ( there are 4 in all). I wanted to try to finish the rest of the row and the next row. 

I stopped before I'd reached the end of the row but this morning I managed to finish that row and do about a third of row 3. The quilting should be finished by the end of next weekend at the latest. 

Yesterday evening Katy, Lucy and I went swimming. I haven't been swimming for several years and I was also a little nervous of swimming since I use a breast prosthesis and I don't have a swimsuit to take one. In the end I didn't bother with the prosthesis whilst I was swimming. The pool was very quiet with only a few women in the pool. We'd chosen to go swimming during the women only hours. We were all a little worried that we might have forgotten how to swim but we were all fine. The down side hit this morning. We all had aches and pains from using different muscle groups to our usual activities. We've decided that for January we'll go swimming once a week and then if we enjoy it and can fit it into our week we'll swim twice a week.

Yesterday I received this months subscription box with this cute charm pack and the yardage. The box also included a box of pins and a table cloth pattern. The charm pack is called Voysey. Charles Voysey (1857 - 1941) is well known for his work as an architect but his early work was as a designer of wallpapers, fabrics and furnishings in a simple Arts and Crafts style. The Voysey collection is inspired by archive products in the V and A Museum. 
I really like the table cloth pattern and will probably make it next weekend. 

 As I told you recently I undid the jumper I'm knitting for John. This week I've been doing some knitting everyday and this is how far I've got.

The sleeves were knitted up to the shoulder shaping on ordinary needles but the main body is knitted on a circular needle. I find this quite hard going as the wool is heavy and it puts a lot of strain on my right arm but I am determined to get this finished in the next couple of months.

Finally I made a start on the bottom border of my millennium sampler. I haven't done very much but as you can see I've used the wrong thread for the centre of the scroll (bit down below the kangaroos legs). I'll unpick that bit before I restitch it later tonight. If I make simple mistakes like this I'll never get it finished.

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

I'm back at work tomorrow and I'm not sure how I'm going to keep up my exercise plan and my stitching but I'll work it out somehow.


Altered perception and patches

Today is the 5th January and it feels like I've been busy doing lots every day so far. I know that will change once I'm back at work next week but John and I have some plans in place for visits to galleries and walks so hopefully the fun will carry on.

Yesterday we visited an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery called Space Shifters but I couldn't post any pictures as they hadn't uploaded from my phone to the cloud. Now they have so here are some of the exhibits. The exhibition looks at perceptions and space. It was fascinating but quite unsettling at times. In the first room there was this large mirror, created by Jeppe Hein, revolving on the wall. There are two large mirror panels at right angles to each other and this created some interesting effects. There were cushions on the floor to lie on and enjoy the way it made the space change. I'm please they had a large area in front of this installation roped off as there were quite a few people who didn't seem to know where they were in relation to others and objects.

Katy and I decided to take pictures when the mirror was at different angles. One or two photos are slightly blurry as the mirrors were moving quite quickly and I'm using my phone camera. Ha that's fun, there are two of me in this photo

Standing on my head was fun

The reflective piece in the middle of this photo was another installation. If you concentrated on the mirror it was most disconcerting as you lost where you were in space.

As it revolved round you got to see the ceiling. This was fun as you often forget to look up and see what is over head. For some reason the view upset a few people.

Katy and I saw that you got a reflection of the wall and we waited for the mirror to come into this position so we could get the top of us taking a photo and the reflection on the wall underneath. It looks like we're in a pit looking up or a window looking out.

The reflective cube by Anish Kapoor gave you all sorts of strange perspectives. It looks like Katy was standing on one leg and her scarf is going off on it's own where as she was standing normally with her scarf hanging down to the same length as the other side. It was really funny watching some of the poses people made 

This one by Alicja Kwade was fun. The frame in places was empty and in others had a mirror or two way mirror. It was arranged so that you quickly became disorientated. As people walked round, they often put their hand out gingerly to check they weren't going to walk into a solid. I found it amusing when people commented on the person at the other end of the room who was wearing the same coat! You really did have to keep your wits about you to remain fully aware of space.

Katy and I called this piece by Ann Veronica Janssens unicorn glass. It consists of a shattered piece of safety glass held between two sheets of intact glass. The intact glass is lined with a filter that allows light to pass through selectively. The reflection of the room is oddly pixelated and blurred. To produce this reflection it must be 'magic unicorn glass'. One little girl agreed with me.

This cast resin work by De Wain Valentine was very black and had a highly polished surface that reflected everything. This exhibition allowed for a lot of photos of our reflections. We were stood behind this piece in the corner of the room to get this photo.

Here it is from the other side and it looks much darker but also as if it's floating but it was very firmly on the floor. I like the reflections in the surface. The gold sprinkles half way down the piece was actually the reflection of a gold coloured chain link curtain between this and the next room.

This one, Sky Mirror, Blue by Anish Kapoor was outside on the upper sculpture terrace and it bought the sky down to the ground and put the buildings at the top.

At this point we had almost finished the exhibition but there was one piece left to see, a piece by Richard Wilson. To see it click HERE This will take you to the home page of his site which has the installation on the page. He has been making large scale sculpture interventions into architectural space. The whole room is flooded with used engine oil, and only a narrow passageway which is set at a slight incline through the centre is left. The dark dense oil mirrors the space above it and creates the impression of being suspended in an infinite environment. To view this, one person at a time walks out onto the passage way. The queue to see this exhibit was 1 hour and there was also the awful smell of oil. I was finding it difficult to breath and so we made our way to the exit and went and had afternoon tea. As we left the Hayward Gallery I saw this on the wall of the building next door.I really liked this but unfortunately I couldn't get a really clear photo

We went to the Festival Hall next as there was a patchwork I wanted to see. It was a little difficult to photograph as it was very large.

 Here's the information about it.

and here is a close up of a part of it.

This patchwork is there on permanent display and has a patch for each year, The patches include applique, hand embroidery, machine stitching, bead work and surface printing. There may have been other techniques but I couldn't get a clear view of the blocks higher up.

We had a great day out together and when we visited a book shop I made a start on the birthday presents I need to buy. Why do so many of my relatives have birthdays between now and March?

We had a quiet evening at home watching TV and I worked on my cross stitch. I didn't get as far as I would have liked but the programme on TV was very interesting. I also made a few quilting plans as I'm taking part in two blog hops in February and needed to decide on my projects. Having done that I now need to choose my fabrics. I'm hoping to use my stash if possible.


Friday, 4 January 2019

My Elna's first outing of 2019

I've had my Elna Quilter's Dream sewing machine for several years now and she and I know each other well. She knows I'm forgetful when it comes to maintenance but she keeps going even when the bobbin is being chocked up with lint. I know that the more I use her the better she sews. If I haven't sewn for a while she will often miss stitches for about half an hour after I've turned her on or the thread will keep on breaking but after that she stitches beautifully. I know what makes of threads work well on her and I do send her for a spa break once a year. When I put her away for the Christmas break I told her we'd have a sewing day early in the new year and today was the day.

I have a subscription box once a month and sometime in the recent past I had a box with 4 fat quarters of Nords 60 inch wide wovens by the Danish fabric house Stof and a couple of patterns that would suit the fabric well. One of the patterns was for laundry bags and I decided to make two. These aren't huge laundry bags and so will be perfect for when we are away visiting.

I've made a couple of the patterns from the boxes before and the instructions are easy to follow and make up very well. The Dresden plate pillow was from my box,

and so was the rabbit pillow I made for Lucy. Here is the front during the making process. I don't think I ever posted the completed pillow since I don't have a photo of it.  I'll try and take one tomorrow.

Anyway back to my sewing activities. As this was more a sewing activity rather than quilting I used my dressmaking scissors to cut out the pieces rather than the rotary cutter. It made it easier when cutting the applique pieces.The bags went together quickly and since I remembered I had some cord I didn't need to make any for the ties.

This bag is John's,

The pants should have some stitching and a couple of buttons on them but I decided this was unnecessary. The bag is made to serve a purpose and doesn't need the embellishments. My bag is pink,

The knickers should have lace along the leg edge and the bra along the neckline. The lace was in the box so I could have added it but I want to use it for a different project.

The cord for the ties was in my mothers's sewing box. This is a wooden box that my father made for her. The lid opens and there is a large inner compartment. Beneath that there is a drawer. I had the box when we cleared Mom and Dad's house before it was sold in 2007 but I haven't really used it. It sits between mine and John's favourite chairs and it's perfect for putting our tea and coffee on. There are lots of useful and interesting sewing bits in it but today is the first time that I've really wanted to make this my sewing box. Once I'd finished the bags I went back to the box and sorted the contents and moved some of my notions into it. It felt good and I loved touching the scissors and other items that had been mom's and remembering her using them. Making use of the box also frees up space in my sewing drawers which desperately need sorting out.

Having finished my projects I got ready to go out to meet Katy. We had arranged to visit the Hayward Gallery to see an exhibition titled Space Shifters. We almost missed this one as it finished on Sunday. The exhibition bought together sculptures and installations to explore perception and space. It was an interesting exhibition and at times one that made me feel very nauseated and dizzy. Unfortunately I can't show you the photos yet as I took them on my phone and it's having trouble uploading them to the cloud. I'll show you them tomorrow.

We always have a family meal on New Year's Eve and this year we had Katy and Olly and Lucy with us. My two daughters have a ridiculous sense of fun which usually leads to a mess and New Year's Eve was no exception. They both had large poppers that you push up the plunger and lots of foils pieces fly everywhere. They waited until we had finished eating before they set them off. Picasso heard the commotion and jumped up onto the table to join in

There were bits of foil and sequins everywhere and Picasso thought he needed to play with them.

Picasso loves anything shiny. 

Today has been fun as it's been a fortnight since I last played on my sewing machine. I have been hand stitching but I'll tell you about that another day. Tomorrow I'm hoping to get some quilting done on Alex's quilt. I want this one finished before I start my new projects. 


Regent's Canal Walk (part 2)

For part 2 of our walk we started from the opposite end at Paddington basin. We took the underground to Paddington and walked along Praed Street to get to the canal. On the way we passed St Mary's hospital. This hospital serves the north west of London and like most hospitals in London is a mixture of old and new buildings. The front of this wing looks majestic.

As we walked round into Paddington basin this is what we saw. A floating park and a fountain. This was a lovely space with paths and fake grass and very much alive plants all on pontoons on the canal. We decided to have lunch before we began and the white building on the right was a Pizza Express. We enjoyed two low calorie very thin crust vegetarian pizzas with the centre cut out and filled with lots of salad. 

As we left the Pizza Express, at the end of the building was this fountain. If it had been a hot day I'd have played in the fountain but it was pretty cool since I needed my hat and scarf as well as my thick coat, so I took a photo instead.  This section of the canal is the Paddington Spur.

Looking back this was the start of the walk.

The building on the left of the next photo is the back of the hospital, newer and not as grand as the wing facing the road.

Peeping between buildings we could see the Paddington station building with GWR on it for Great Western Railways. The lines from Paddington go to the west and south west of England.

This new office building is the Brunel Building. It isn't finished yet. I took the photo from the leading edge so you don't get the perspective that the building bulges out and then back in again. The building also widens out quite quickly to give good office space. I'm not sure if I like the design. Once it's finished it will be easier to judge it in operation and in its environment.

Under the bridge we came across this sculpture. It certainly brighten up the underneath of a boring concrete bridge.

The Paddington spur meets the Grand Junction Canal at Little Venice. Robert Browning the poet came back to live in London from Italy when his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning died. He settled in Warwick Crescent and is said to have referred to the Broadwater as Little Venice. This has been renamed 'Browning's Pool in his honour. The Regent's canal turns toward the right in front of the houses at the back of the photo.

We had to cross the bridge where Browning's Pool meets the Grand Junction canal so we could follow the Regent's canal.

There was quite a lot to see along the way. First we saw this church, the Catholic Apostolic Church which was designed by John Pearson. It's very Gothic in design and was planned to have a tower but instead it ended up with the squat spire.

Then there was a stretch where the towpath was closed to the public as the embankments are occupied with private moorings for barges and houseboats. As this section ended the canal entered the Maida Hill Tunnel. The cafe is built over the western entrance to the tunnel. Having had lunch very recently we just kept on walking.

Just before the canal goes into the tunnel there was a blue plaque on one of the houses on the opposite bank. The British actor Arthur Lowe, best known as Captain Mainwaring from the BBC sitcom Dad's Army lived here from 1969 until his death.

A short distance further on another blue plaque on this house was dedicated to Guy Gibson.

Here's a close up of the plaque. Guy Gibson was the pilot leader of the Dambusters (bouncing bomb) raid on the Ruhr Valley in May 1943.

It seemed to be a day for plaques. This one, again on the opposite bank was to mark where the second Lord's cricket ground was. This second ground was in the path of the proposed  canal and so the canal company paid Thomas lord  £4000 to move the ground about 500 metres northwest. Lord's cricket ground is the home of Marylebone Cricket Club and it moved to it present home on St John's Wood Road in 1814

There were some seriously large houses on the opposite bank as we walked towards Regent's Park. I had a picture of one but it refused to upload. Just before we reached London Zoo there was this bridge, Macclesfield Bridge, otherwise known as Blow up bridge. In the early hours of 2nd October 1874, a barge (the Tilbury) loaded with gunpowder and petroleum exploded whilst travelling under the bridge. Three of the crew died, several houses were destroyed and the keel of the Tilbury was found 300 metres away in a household basement. The embankment of the canal helped to reduce the effects of the explosion and the canal was repaired and reopened in 5 days.

This is a small stretch of the back of London Zoo that comes down to the canal. This enclosure is for the wild dogs but when I took the photo they were all up the other end of the enclosure. 

Another famous landmark on the canal is the Feng Shang Princess which is located at the beginning of the Cumberland Spur.  It is a three storey Chinese restaurant. It is moored here and no one knows if it could actually sail. The Regent's canal curves round to the left here.

As we headed towards Camden Lock we passed this castellated building, The Pirates Castle. This is the home of a water based club for disadvantaged young people that was founded in 1966

The banks of this part of the canal were once the home to the producers of Gilbey's gin. We reached Camden Lock which was quite quiet but it was the day after Christmas. This is the most visited and busiest part of the London canals. I've travelled through here on a canal boat and when you work the locks you are normally watched by hundreds of people.

We left the canal for a while to look at the main shopping area. it was a normal busy day.

There were also some building works taking place by the towpath and it was closed so we had to detour for a little . Once back on the towpath we had a short walk into King Cross.At Coal Drop Yard the old gasometer surrounds had been incorporated into the new flats. One structure had been left empty and a small park with seating area had been created in it.

Here we are near King Cross and at the site of the fountain from the end of part 1 of the walk. The picture is taken from a different angle. The building was originally a warehouse  but now has a new lease of life as the University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martins.

When we got to the station and had gone down the escalator towards the ticket office and the trains this was the corridor we walked along. The panel on the left has coloured lights which are constantly changing and the triangles on the other side and ceiling match those on the floor.

Another good day walking around London and a great way to spend the day after Christmas. I hope you enjoyed the second part of this walk.

Oh dear I promised you some stitching. I think that will have to wait until tomorrow as my fingers are sore from the keyboard.