Sunday, 19 May 2019

A finish and a fun purchase

I've spent the week trying to catch up at work. Not always easy when a ridiculous number of emails fall into your in box and they all need you to do something or as happened this week I didn't get the email and so didn't know I needed to do anything. I wish I was that email wandering happily somewhere in the ether doing my own thing!  However it's not all been about work the last two weeks. 

Have you seen a Tuffet? A tuffet as well as being a clump or tuft of something e.g. grass can also be a footstool or a low stool. From the first time I saw one in my quilting magazine I have wanted to make one so I visited a favourite quilt shop 'The Quilt Room'  which used to be in Dorking but has moved to Beare Green.  Here I purchased the kit to make my tuffet. To make the cover for it you need the pattern,

To make the top I'm using this Kaffe Fasset jelly roll. I need to decide which strips I'm using and cut them to 2 inches wide. I didn't want to open the jelly roll before I was ready to start the cutting, which will be next weekend.

I read through the instructions and decided I was mad to try this but staying calm and doing it a little at a time will work. The reason for my panic is that it's a foundation pieced pattern and I haven't really done that before. The instructions are very well written so working through one instruction at a time should result in a very pretty tuffet.

The rest of the tuffet i.e. the base and the foam etc comes as part of the kit. The legs you attach yourself when it's all finished. I opted for light wood legs as all our flooring is bamboo and a light colour and the wooden furniture is pine which has over the years taken on a lovely golden colour.

Whilst we were in the shop John bought me this lovely pack of 6 fat quarters. I love the colours. I can't remember the designer or the name of the fabric line.

Over the last week I finally stitched the binding down on my little quilt.  It feels good to have a finish.

Today being Sunday I'm looking at my hand stitching. I've got a lot to work on and too much choice really isn't good for me as I can't make up my mind what to do. I then spend so long trying to decide that I waste my sewing time. No need to make a choice this week. I've added a few more stitches to the Bunny Garden and so I will continue working on this. I should be able to finish the row of mini flowers tonight including the yellow french knots in their centres .

Over the last few weeks we have been on several visits and outing. Several weeks back I made up my mind that weekends were for family, not for doing any work for work and I've been quite good at sticking to it. Since John and I aren't doing work related activities it has given us time for walking and visiting. I have a load of photos to show you but I will put them in separate posts.

For now I have an urge to make some muffins so I'm heading to the kitchen. I'm linking this post with Kathy  from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching  Do pop over to see what everyone has been up to this week.


Monday, 6 May 2019

I love bank holidays

Here in England today was a bank holiday and I don't work bank holidays so my day was free to do what I liked First I had to sort out the laundry. I had put the machine on last night and the washing needed to be hung out on the line. I had another load to put on and then it was time to take Scamp for a walk. Having taken him for a longish walk on Saturday he was happy to chill out at home yesterday but this morning he was eager to head out to the common. He enjoyed the common and did a lot of running whilst he was there which meant that he was ready for a long nap when we got home.

My plan for the day was to do some sewing. First I needed to quilt and add the binding to the table topper. I decided to do in the ditch quilting around the inside of the squares. The binding was already cut and joined so once I'd finished the quilting I stitched it to the front. Now I just need to hand stitch the binding to the back and it will be completed and ready to use.

Having finished that for the day I made a decision about my monthly goal. I  need to make a baby quilt and I decided I liked the pattern by Connie from Freemotion by the river.

It has alternating blocks of applique butterflies and 9 patch. I made a start on the butterfly blocks. I made the decision to do machine applique and later I will stitch the butterfly antennae by hand when I have all the blocks made. I need 17 blocks in total.

I've been cutting lots of 2 and half inch squares from my scraps so the 9 patch should be quick to make up. This will be my project for my May monthly goal.

I'm aiming to complete all the applique blocks by the end of the month. Anything else i.e. the 9 patch blocks will be a bonus.

Finally this evening I did a little more stitching on the bunnies garden. Lucy would like this made into a cushion cover once it's complete.

Tomorrow John and I are out and about. I have a meeting to go to first thing for work and then I'm taking the rest of the day off. There is a visit to a quilt shop in my plans for the day.For now I'm going to bed to dream of the new projects I've got in my head.


Sunday, 5 May 2019

Sunday stitching

I'm starting to take all the interruptions to my sewing time very personally. I make a plan and then something happens to wreak havoc and prevents my happy time from happening. Now don't get me wrong, I'm happy at other times as I have a fabulous husband and great children and we have lots of happy adventures together but sewing is my relaxation. It gives me the space to unwind and play. I can be really creative and also make an amazing amount of mess. It gives me time to stop worrying about things I should have done and to just be me. My last post was on the 24th April and I shared the trip we made to Chatsworth whilst on holiday in Derbyshire. I had several other visits to share and we also went to Suffolk for a walking weekend however I didn't have time to post because on the Friday I received a phone call from our Dean of College to say we were having a 5 day Ofsted inspection of our apprenticeship courses. Ofsted puts fear and dread into the minds of people working in schools and Further education and although I work in a university the apprenticeships are inspected by Ofsted. We came home on the Saturday night from our weekend trip having cut it short so that I could go into work on the Sunday and make sure everything was in order. All week we had meetings and teaching observations and each night I got home late and was exhausted. We were told the result on Friday and the outcome was good although we won't get the feedback for a couple of weeks. On Friday night I crawled into bed really early and did the same on Saturday. I had no energy to relax with a little hand stitching! Today I'm still feeling very weary but I'm starting to get myself together and did a little stitching this morning. Someone please tell me it's safe to get the machine out and crack on with my sewing again!

Whilst we were at Chatsworth I saw this counted cross stitch sampler and could't resist buying it. It's designed to celebrate the life and work of Jane Austen.

As you can see it has a lot of motifs to stitch in the style of needlework of the time but also includes modern designs for her house in Steventon, the Bath assembly rooms and Winchester cathedral. The designers Riverdrift House have also included two characters from one of her books (guess who they are.)  If you like cross stitch go HERE to visit their web site. I put the kit contents on the table and Picasso just had to check it out. He went away when he realised that it didn't involve food!

On Saturday John and I took Scamp on our annual walk to see the bluebells. The weather was dry but at the top of the hills the wind was very cold. I didn't take my camera with me as we have done this walk so many times over the years but here are a couple of photos from last year. I just love the drifts of bluebells

We also saw a lot of this little yellow flower, yellow archangel. It is so beautiful.

When we got home my monthly subscription box had been delivered. 

These are probably not fabrics I would have picked and at first I wasn't attracted to them but now I have had a little time to think about how I will use them I like them a lot more.

I have done a little more on my bunnies garden stitchery and this is what I will work on this evening. This is a small piece and I had hoped to have it finished. I'm not going to give any suggestion of when it will be complete as whenever I do that something goes wrong and I don't get any time for stitching. Lets just say it will be done when it's done and I will be cherishing the time I am able to spend on my stitching.

I'm linking up with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching party Pop over and see what everyone has been working on. I have some programmes recorded and I'm going to decide what to watch while I stitch. I'm looking forward to a lovely relaxing evening with my stitching, the cat or dog on my lap, a nice cup of tea and a good programme to watch.

Tomorrow I need to get my machine out and do some sewing and I need to decide what I'm working on this month.


Wednesday, 24 April 2019

A visit to Chatsworth.

Last week we had a holiday in Derbyshire. We had planned to do some walking and some sight seeing. We were very lucky with the weather as it was dry all week and generally warm. One of the days we visited Chatsworth. Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. This is a picture of the house from one side. I didn't get a photo from the front as I run out of time to walk round before the warmth of the day went and we headed for home.. Somewhere I have one I took about 25 years or so ago when we visited with my parents when our children where young. They had a fabulous children's adventure area with rope walk ways which Richard loved  on that visit. This time we had no need to visit that area, plus dogs were not allowed.

In the house we were able to visit over 30 rooms which included the painted hall, that I found rather over done and the very regal State rooms. The tour of the rooms took ages. While John and I went round the house Richard took Scamp for a walk around the grounds and then found a quiet spot to sit and read his book until we had finished.

As I walked past a courtyard I spotted this statue of a leaping hare which I just had to take a photo of.

In one room there was this huge geode of amethyst which was amazing.

This room was completely over the top with decoration

The beds were high of the floor and many had steps to get into them. I bet the curtains ensured warmth and privacy. 

There was a lot of chine on display.

This bedroom has a cosier feel to it and the bed was huge.

To the right of the desk that stood at the foot of the bed was this cute dogs bed. I'm sure Scamp and Picasso would love it

This time a smaller bed but with a very fancy canopy

and at the foot of the bed another dog bed.

There was a lot of art work around the house ranging from old masters to modern day artists. It was an amazing mix of tastes and styles and showed what the family had collected through generations. I love this scene that was given to the family from the Inuits. There is so much detail in it but unfortunately because of the busy wall paper behind, it's difficult to see much of it.

Some of the room along the route you couldn't enter but you were able to look into. In the doorway you can see a sculpture of a dog. There were a lot throughout the house as they currently have an exhibition celebrating the dog. 

This one had pride of place in a window alcove.

The dining table was huge. It can be extended further by adding more leaves. The chairs at the corner of the table are to stop people touching the cloth and items on the table. Any chairs that you weren't allowed to sit on had teasels on them

When I stood next to this display I couldn't understand why I kept smelling chocolate.

Then I read the notice next to the display and it all made sense. 

Once we had finished in the house we met up with Richard and Scamp and after stopping for tea and coffee we explored the gardens. The cascade was originally completed in 1696 but in 1708 it was remodelled and made longer and wider. We didn't walk up to the cascade house which you can see in the distance.

We all liked the curving hedge that draws your eye from the pond 

We walked down to the Emperor fountain. The wind was blowing the spray for quite a distance.

Here we looked back to take a photo of the scaffold dog sculpture. I love how the house looks dwarfed in the background.

We walked down one side of the lake. John doesn't like the photo as it makes him look small but they are standing on a sloop. Also Richard is 6 foot five and John 6 foot 1.  Neither of them worry that I always feel small being only 5 foot 6.

By now it was getting cold so we stopped to take a photo of this sculpture couple and headed back up the other side of the lake and back to the car.

Chatsworth was a very good visit and although the entry price seemed expensive it was well worth the money We all enjoyed our day out and went home happy.  I bought myself another stitchery whilst in the shop but I'll show you that another time.

This evening I'm taking John to the theatre to see a stage play of 'The picture of Dorian Grey'. In preparation for that I need to go and spruce myself up.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

All day sewing.

Monday was a perfect day. I had no commitments so the time was mine to do what I wanted. A few quick questions to self... do you want to take Scamp for a long walk? No he had lots of exercise last week. Do you want to do some baking? No, I'm trying to lose weight..again.  What I want to do is work on one of my projects. 

Last post I showed you my pile of blocks, some trimmed and some still waiting to be trimmed. 

I'd meant to trim these on Sunday but I got distracted by sorting out my fabric. My stash and projects aren't all in one place and as a result I  misplace or forget about things. In sorting through my 'in progress' projects I found some fabric I'd misplaced and decided to move things around to make it easier to keep track of everything. Anyway trimming the blocks was my first job of the day. The blocks have to be trimmed to 5 inches so my 6 and a half inch square ruler came in very useful. It took some time to do as the pointy ends (highly technical term) of the middle strip have to match up when putting the blocks together. Rushing could have left me with very messy joins.

Once the trimming was done it was a case of deciding how I wanted the blocks, stitching them into rows and then joining the rows. At the start the machine decided to play up and it took twenty minutes to sort it out and get the stitch right. After that it was stitching and pressing the seams until it was all together.

I was pleased with how the colours and patterns looked. I rummaged through my stash for some backing fabric and found this green piece that will do very well. Scamp decided he wanted to help make the decision about the backing plus he thought it was a perfect sized quilt for him.

Scamp is such a scruffy dog at the moment as he missed his grooming appointment. I've re-booked it but there wasn't a space until May so I'll have to trim his fringe to get it out of his eyes.

It was at this point that Katy phoned me and asked if I wanted to go to the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate Britain with her. Having said yes I tidied all my sewing bits away and got ready to go and meet her.

The exhibition had over 50 of his works and looks at how Britain inspired him in his art works and how he inspired British artists. The following photos are some of the works that I liked. The first one is called  'The Oise at Auvers'.

Of course his Starry Night over the Rhone was part of the exhibition. The colours in this painting really popped

The first two pictures are more of the style everyone associates with Van Gogh but there were a lot of pictures using different styles and techniques. This one is 'Loom with weaver'. Weavers feature in two of Van Gogh's favourite books, Charles Dickens's Hard Times and George Elliot's Silas Marner. He made a series of drawings and paintings of weavers.

I also liked this one 'Woman sewing and Cat'. It would appear that a cat has always been important as sewing companions.

I really liked this one called 'Old man drinking a coffee.

In my final choice there is just so much detail and items to look at. This is 'Carpenters yard and Laundry'.

I'm pleased I went to the exhibition even though it cut into my sewing time. I didn't take many photos as it was rather busy. One or two of the visitors were very rude, pushing folks out of the way so they could look at the paintings. It wouldn't have been so annoying if it was in the last week of the exhibition but it doesn't finish until August.

Today (Tuesday) I had to take my car to the garage for a safety recall. There was a potential problem with the front passenger airbag and so it had to be changed. John and I took the opportunity to have breakfast out and to walk by the river.

I had several jobs to do today and that left little time for sewing. In between jobs I carried on cutting up my scraps. It feels good to be cutting them into useful sizes and slowly clearing the scraps boxes. Using the rotary cutter makes my arm a little sore after a while so this job is going to take some time.

The last few weeks I've enjoyed spending time reading. So I'm off to bed to read a couple of chapters of my current book before I settle down to sleep.


Sunday, 21 April 2019

A perfect Easter weekend

Happy Easter

The weather here in the London is perfect, clear blue sky, lots of sun and very warm. Having seen lots of lambs and spring flowers last week in Derbyshire what more could I ask for Easter weekend. 

We'd chosen to head off on holiday on older daughter's birthday and arrived home the day after younger daughter's birthday so yesterday we had a family dinner to celebrate both. We combined it with our usual family Easter meal as all of our children and partners are doing other things today. That means I have space to do some sewing and also a little gardening. Whilst away I bought some plants for my outdoor pots so I need to get them planted.

Our holiday was fun and also a much needed rest. When we booked it back at the beginning of the year we had plans to do a lot of walking but we both felt quite tired so kept the week very leisurely. Richard was on holiday with us and also wanted time to chill out rather than rushing around doing loads of activities.  We were very lucky with the weather as there was no rain all week. The journey was only 180 miles and the traffic was reasonable in both directions. We stopped several times for Scamp to have a walk as he always associates a car ride with a walk and so starts to get whiny if he doesn't get one at regular intervals. Picasso was at home being looked at by Lucy (younger daughter).

One of our walks was to visits some waterfalls. Along the way there were a lot of sheep.

wood anemone,

Lesser celandine

The goat came down off the roof for a scratch and a stroke. As we moved on he went back to his post on the roof.

 Betty and Erol had just been called for their food by two young girls

The trees were coming into left and lots had catkins or blossom.

The water falls were disappointing as it had been dry for quite a while so there was very limited water flowing down the stream.  

The walk was fun but Scamp was very tired when we got home. His usual walks are all on the flat and this one involved a lot of ascents and descents.

Back to today I have plans for sewing. In January I cut the fabric for a tablecloth. The charm pack came in my monthly subscription box.

This project had sat in its project box until now. I have now done some initial stitching to make the square blocks and this afternoon I will do some more work on it.

Before I can do any  more stitching I need to finish trimming the blocks. I'll do that later today and tomorrow I'll get my machine out and sew the blocks together.

I did a little more on the bunny garden embroidery this morning and will continue working on this during the evening. I'm working on the flowers at the moment.

I'll take a better picture tomorrow but every time I put it down to take a photo Picasso came and sat on it. I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching. Pop over and see what everyone has been creating.

It's great to be back posting and getting back to stitching. Now all I need to do is catch up with my blog reading. I am way behind!