Monday, 8 January 2018

Getting a very early start on Christmas?

On Sunday I made a start on my new Christmas quilt. I keep a quilt in our main room as you never know when you may need to snuggle up in one and I had planned to make a Christmas quilt for use next year but I hadn't planned on starting so early in the year. My current Christmas quilt wasn't planned, in fact it came about because I won a jelly roll of Christmas fabric.

I had to buy a little yardage to complete the quilt but it was well worth it as I love this quilt. It's on my bed at the moment and looks so pretty. It's a shame Christmas is over for another year.

So I started the new quilt because I was given several Christmas fat quarters as a present. What better way to use them up and New Year does mean it's OK to start a new quilt. I started by making the half square triangles I would need. I need 72  HST's to make the blocks for this quilt and at the moment I have 71  so I need to make 1 more. I'll do that later in the week. Today I decided to cut all the pieces I need to make the blocks. It seemed to take ages but was well worth it. 

I can't wait to start stitching it all together. In between I took some time to stew some plums. When I bought the plums they were very firm so I left them to finish ripening in the kitchen. I cut them up and put them in a saucepan with a little water and sugar. The colours were amazing.

They not only looked good but tasted really good and made a great dessert with some thick cream.

Kate from Life in Pieces has restarted her 15 minute challenge. For this challenge you have to spend at least 15 minutes each day on some form of stitching. I decided to join in as it is surprising how much you can do in just 15 minutes and it will help get some of my projects finished. She is having a link party every Sunday where we can check in and share how we are getting on.  

Results for week 1 of 2018.
7 out of 7 days of 15 minutes. 

Great result! Activities I did to achieve this included hand stitching on Earlene, sewing on badges to my camp blanket, making half square triangles and some repair sewing. I am determined to do more sewing this year and hopefully complete some of my UFO's

I got the results of my mammogram today and it was good news. Had a full check up and everything is going well. I have an appointment booked for July when the surgeon will start the system rolling for my reconstruction. So far 2018 is feeling a lot better than last year thank goodness.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I'm in work so not a lot of time for sewing but I'll try and complete my 15 minutes a day.


Sunday, 7 January 2018

A walk and Half square Triangles

On Saturday I went walking with John and Lucy. We walked the next part of the Capital Ring, from Hackney Wick to Woolwich. The day was cold with a wind that went straight through you but there was sunshine. We rejoined the walk on the bank of the Lee Navigation and opposite the entrance to the Hertford Union Canal. We watched a barge turn from the navigation into the canal. There was a lot of graffiti on the industrial buildings on the opposite bank.

Several of the building had some great murals on the walls.

As we parted company with the Navigation and joined the Greenway we passed by the Olympic Stadium, now the home of West Ham Football Club. The stadium had 80,000 seats for the games but has been downsized for the football stadium.

The Greenway is a level track of bonded gravel for walkers and cyclists that has been laid on top of the Northern Outfall Sewage Embankments. We were going to follow this route for the next three miles. Along this section of the Greenway we came across View Tube, a community venue built from shipping containers.

Although we hadn't been walking that long we stopped here for coffee and a Chocolate Brownie with cherries. The venue was fun, the coffee very good and the cake amazing. When we restarted we had to take a diversion around a construction site area but we were soon back on track.

Having rejoined the Greenway we had good views of Canary Wharf and the City of London, however it was a little foggy so I didn't bother with a photograph. We crossed the Meridian line which was marked by a sundial set in the ground. A little further a long we came across Abbey Mills Pumping Station. This building is so pretty. The building was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette and was part of the sewage system of London. It opened in 1868 and became known as The Temple of Sewage.

Behind this building there is a new pumping station that was opened in 1997. This orange and yellow painted metal object was once part of the pumping station's machinery but is now a piece of industrial sculpture. 

Further a long we disturbed these two cats playing together. It looked as if they were playing rock, paper, scissors but they stopped and got ready to run as we walked by.

The walk along the Greenway didn't offer any other places of interest to take pictures of, in fact it was a little boring. However we eventually turned away from the Greenway and headed out through Beckton District Park, where we stopped to eat our lunch. We sat by the lake for lunch but didn't stay long due to the cold. The path took us to the Dockland Campus of the University of East London. When the site was opened in 1999 it was the first new university campus opened in over 50 years

These buildings are the student residencies overlooking the Royal Albert Dock. The dock is over a mile long and was opened in 1880. It was closed to commercial shipping in 1982 and is now used for water sports facilities. On the opposite bank is the runway for London City Airport.

Walking  along the dockside promenade I took this photo of Lucy in front of the Sir Steve Redgrave bridge. Steve Redgrave won gold medals for rowing in 5 successive Olympic games 

Here we made a detour away from the river and we saw lots of these berries. The birds had been gorging on them just before we arrived but flew away as we came into view.

We eventually came back to the river and at this point the Thames is huge. The houses looked very small on the opposite bank.

We now followed the river and we also crossed two enormous locks that led into the docks. I didn't like this bit at all as the locks were very deep and I won't be repeating the experience any time soon. Having safely crossed the locks we continued our walk along the river promenade into Woolwich where we left the path to catch a train at the Dockland Light Railway station. By the time we reached home we had walked over 12 miles. 

Today I took down our tree. I had rather more help than I would have liked especially as Picasso's help consisted of playing with the decorations and then going to sleep in the box.

I can't be cross with Picasso for long as he is such a lovable cat. He also loves to play like a kitten even though he was 14 last year. I love it when the decorations go as the room suddenly increases in size. Picasso and Scamp spent a little time running round the place playing chase,enjoying the increase in space they had to play.

I spent some time today cutting squares to make Half square triangles. I haven't done any for a while and had forgotten how time consuming they can be. However I dovetailed them with preparing dinner and both jobs got done successfully. I have completed 71 HST's but I still need a load more. Hopefully I'll get the rest done tomorrow and then I'll just need to trim them.

I have also spent time today doing some hand stitching. First some repairs by sewing on some buttons that had come off, then adding a couple of badges to my blanket and finally a little more work on Earlene. She is almost finished, which is exciting but unfortunately I have quite a lot of work commitments this week so I won't have much stitching time. However I've joined in with the 15 minute challenge to try and make sure I do a little sewing every day. So far I've managed at least 15 minutes every day. This week I want to work on Earlene and also my millennium sampler which I really must finish this year.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching. Get better soon Kathy.

Take care and stay warm.


Thursday, 4 January 2018

Cakes, patterns and one monthly goal

The last few days have been very windy and driving along the M4 to Reading on Tuesday and Wednesday was scary at times so it was a pleasure to be staying home this morning. First thing this morning I had my first follow up mammogram. Once home again I set about planning a new quilt since the new year is the perfect time to plan a new project. On January 1st Kathy of  Kathy's Quilts took part in a mystery quilt in a day  called scrappy friends run by Quilt Bug. I've never made a mystery quilt before as I've always worried about how it will look and whether I'd like it when I've made it. Anyway I saved the clues and when I saw the completed top I loved it. The only bit I didn't like was the size. I wanted it to be bigger but it's really easy to increase the size so this is my next quilt. I'm going to use my Christmas fat quarters, with white as the background and green as the focus colour for the quilt. I have all the fabric I need and can't wait to get started.

Interestingly Kathy wrote about making mystery quilts in her post today. She identifies that fabric choices are difficult since you don't know how the colours will fit together. Kathy also writes that she is happy to donate any quilts that she doesn't love. With that in mind I think I may join in with a mystery quilt this year.

This morning I stood on the scales to check how disastrous Christmas had been to the waist line. It wasn't too bad but I decided I need to be more careful of what I'm eating for a few days. So why did I decide to bake some cupcakes this afternoon? The main reason was I'd checked the use by date on some sprinkle cake decorations I have and they were about to go out of date. The only answer was to make some cakes.

Then add the sprinkles

My family have already obligingly eaten all the evidence of my baking and I haven't had to eat even one. Job done, I got to do some baking, use up the sprinkles and not eat any extra calories.

I'd been trying to decide on my goal for the month. I nearly decided to set myself the task of quilting the compass quilt but I decided I hadn't got that much time. Therefore I decided to make some more blocks for the Bear Paw quilt I started.

I still have a lot of these blocks to make so my goal for the month is to make 10 blocks. I'm not pushing doing more as I have commitments every weekend through January and I'm busy at work. I'll be more than happy if I manage to make more than 10 blocks. I'm linking this post with One monthly Goal over at Elm Street Quilts.

Opps I've just seen the time. I have work in the morning so must get to bed. See you again soon.


Monday, 1 January 2018

A New Year walk

Wishing you a very Happy New Year, with good health and happiness throughout 2018.

Yesterday evening we enjoyed a new years eve dinner with a friend. It was a fun evening with lots of laughter. He was fascinated with Richard's 3D printer and Richard enjoyed explaining how it worked and showing him some of the items he's printed. Tony went home at 11 as he's an early to bed and early to rise person and didn't want to stay up till midnight.
We watched the fireworks on the TV at midnight and then went to bed.

Today we had arranged to go for a walk with Kathryn. John had been given a book of the hidden rivers of London and we planned to walk the route of Earl's Sluice. The sluice is an underground river, that flows in southeast London and was named after the Earl of Gloucestershire in the time of Henry 1st. 

The Earl's sluice rises in a duck pond in Ruskin Park, Denmark Hill. We travelled to Denmark Hill by train and as we came out of the station we found the William Booth Memorial Building opposite the station. William Booth was a Methodist minister who founded the Salvation Army.

That's a statue to William Booth outside the building. I couldn't fit all the building in the picture as I had a wall behind me and the tower on the building is 61 metres tall. The building is now used as a training college for the Salvation Army. From here we walked to the pond in Ruskin Park and then followed the route of the river past Kings College Hospital and on to Burgess Park.

Burgess Park was part of Sir Leslie Abercrombie's 1943 County of London plan for post war redevelopment. The park was created between 1950 and 1980's  over a bombed out area of London surrounding the basin of the Grand Surrey Canal. The park is named after the first female mayor of Camberwell, Jessie Burgess.

The are old lime kilns in the park.

The old public baths and public wash house building still stands in the park but has been re-purposed.

On the side of this building we found this,

Within the park the lake was host to Egyptian and Canada geese plus a variety of ducks and gulls.

Once through the park we passed the home of Millwall Football club

As we walked on we went under several bridges. This one played havoc with my perceptions. The newer bricks seems to be standing out and the older bricks seemed to be going upwards for ever. The roof of the bridge just didn't seem to be real.

We only saw the Earl's Sluice once on the walk but it was no pretty river with a towpath and ducks. The river has to come out of the ground to go over the railway line and it is carried in a 60 cm pipe on its own bridge. Once over the railway line it goes back underground.

We eventually reached the Thames at Greenland and South Docks. These docks are now a marina and used for water sports. By this time it was getting dark.

Several boats had Christmas lights and trees.

At the Thames the Earl's Sluice opens into the river. Looking across the Thames the full moon was huge and I loved the reflection.

Canary wharf was looking very pretty with all the lights. Looking across London there are lots of red lights on all the cranes.

It was a very good way to start the New Year. Tomorrow is back to work time and I shall be driving to Reading. No time for stitching tonight unfortunately but there will be tomorrow evening.


Slow Sunday Stitching.

It's Sunday which means Kathy's link up for Slow Sunday Stitching and it's also New years Eve. I got excited and thought I'd have lots of stitching time but I'd forgotten the need to take Scamp for a walk and also that we had a friend coming for dinner. The walk with Scamp started fine but half way round the circuit the rain began and so did the wind. We cut the walk short as we were worried Scamp would get too cold. I shouldn't have worried as he just ran around as fast as he could with his little tail wagging vigorously. What is it about wind that makes dogs and young children go so mad?

Once home I settled down to do some stitching on Earlene. I haven't finished her yet but she is such a jolly, outgoing character and I'm really enjoying stitching her.

After dinner I sat and did some more stitching whilst we sat and chatted. I love my hand stitching time, it's just so relaxing.

I'm linking this post with Barbara at Cat Patches for the last of her bag lady link up parties and with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching 

I'm off to bed now so I can get 2018 off to a good start tomorrow. 


Saturday, 30 December 2017

Curtains and a visit

I really wanted to have a finish of some kind before the end of the year and I decided the best option was to make the curtains for the french windows in our dinning room. This window is tall and narrow. It's tall because it has the added window above the doors. This is fabulous during the summer as the room is flooded in light but even though the windows are double glazed, the extra glass can drop the temperature when it's very cold outside.

That boxes and fabric in the right bottom corner is where my sewing box got moved to so the Christmas tree could be put up. The boxes hold my doll's house and once the tree goes down we'll buy the table that the house will stand on. The sewing box which is a large wooden box will go upstairs and there is a cupboard being built into this corner that will house my fabrics.

I had already cut the lengths of fabric for the curtains but hadn't done any sewing on them so yesterday morning I got them out, pinned and then stitched the lining to the curtain fabric. I also added the header tape. At this point we decided to head out to see an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. That left me the hems to do later in the day.

The exhibition was of Tove Jansson's work. Jansson was a Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator and comic strip author.  She was born in August 1914 and studied art from 1930 to 1938 in Stockholm, Helsinki and Paris. In 1945 she started writing the Moomin books for children. She wrote 9 Moomin books and it was the second of these books that made her famous. The exhibition covered aspects of all her work but quite a lot of space was given to the illustrations for the moomin books and cartoon strips. Our children, particularly Richard had enjoyed the moomin stories when he was a child and we'd wanted to see more of her work as a result.

Although you can take photos in the permanent  collection of the gallery, this was not allowed in the exhibition so I found this picture of Tove Jansson taken from her biography written by Kate Macdonald on google. You can read more about her here We really enjoyed the exhibition even though it was very crowded.

After the gallery we stopped at a cafe for a toasted ham and cheese sandwich before taking a walk through Dulwich park. The wind was bitter and the weather couldn't make up its mind to rain or be sunny but it was good to be out in the fresh air.

I'm not sure how the rest of the day panned out but I didn't get back to my curtains. Later in the evening I was sorting out my scrapbook, adding a few bits and trying to finish up 2017 before putting in a title page for 2018. It was slow work as I decided to watch 'Maigret' which I had recorded from Christmas day. I love the freedom to record programmes you want to see so you can give your full attention to visitors. As a child I hated visitors as we'd miss the programmes we's looked forward to watching since the TV didn't get turned on and of course there was no repeats or recording the programmes.

This morning I had a few jobs to do including posting my thank you cards. Lucy and I received a lot of gifts from the girls at Brownies and Guides and it took a while to write and thank them. 

There was also some household chores but then I was free to get back to the curtains. having pulled up the header tape I hung them so I could do the hems.

I'm not sure why it looks as if there is a mark in the middle of them just up from the chair as there isn't. Hem done I took them down and tweaked the header tape to make it fit better, sorted the pleats and pressed the curtains. Finally the curtains are up and looking good. Great job and an end of the year finish, yippee.

I also received another present today. Lucy had ordered this journal but it hadn't arrived in time for Christmas. I am looking forward to using this in the new year.

This evening I plan to work on my hand stitching and work out my objectives for next year but for now I need to go and cook dinner. 


Friday, 29 December 2017

A review of 2017

Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs is holding a Best of 2017 Linky Party. To take part you simply write a post about your 'best' 5 posts of 2017. 

My most viewed post was in September when I finished my Mariner's Compass quilt top. The kit for this quilt was a Christmas present from John. You can read the post here I love this quilt which is now sandwiched and waiting to be quilted.

My second post received the most comments and was a post for the Quazy Quilt Queen's blog hop organised by Marian at Seams to be Sew. You can read the post here For this hop we could show our sewing room or how we organise our fabrics. There was no pressure to make anything new. I work at the dining room table and lots of people commented that they do the same.

This year I've been taking part in the Bag Lady stitch along organised by Barbara from Cat Patches. Each month there has been a different bag lady to stitch. This has been such fun to join in with and in September I showed the three ladies  I'd completed. You can see all three Here. I'm still working on the other 9 ladies but I will have them all finished next year.

I like posting about our walks and hikes. In October 2016 John, Lucy and I began walking the Capital Ring. John and I had completed it before but Lucy wanted to do it and we didn't mind doing it again. This year we didn't get very far with it but in November we picked up the walking again. I love posting about our walks and I always get comments from people enjoying seeing the countryside or the history of the area. On this walk we came across Mr Toad and you can read about it Here

So far I've told you about 4 of my favourite posts. My last favourite or 'best' of 2017 isn't an individual post but you, my readers. As those of you who follow my blog will know I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January. Over the year you have all been extremely supportive and encouraging. I have treasured all your comments and they helped me during the treatment, giving me the strength I needed to get through it. Thank you so much, you made a huge difference and you really are 'the best'. At the end of November I was signed off by the doctors as cancer free and fit and well and will now have regular check ups. I agreed to do an aspirin trial and that means I will be seen every 3 months for the first year and then 6 monthly for 5 years.

Why not visit Cheryl's blog to see what everyone else has posted for the best of 2017. You can click Here or use the button on the side bar.

I'm now planning my goals for 2018 and reviewing how I did this year. I had very few finishes this year and only a limited amount of sewing got done but it wasn't a complete washout. I'm very optimistic that there will be a lot more sewing time next year.