Friday 30 December 2016

That was 2016, plans for 2017

Last year I joined Yvonne from Quilting Jet Girl to make plans for 2016. She's holding a planning party again this year so I thought I'd join in and try try to be a little more organised this coming year. First I need to revisit last years plans.

1. Lose weight and improve my health.
I lost one stone in weight over the year (and I didn't put it back on over Christmas). I'm really pleased about this and will continue next year to lose another stone. I've been getting a lot more sleep and exercising more. My average steps have increased to 11,000 -12,000 steps a day. I'd like to push this up a little more but it's difficult especially on days when I'm working.

2. Make more items for charity donation.
I wanted to make 6 lap quilts but I didn't manage this due to an increase in working hours. However I did manage to make quite a few prem baby quilts plus 2 cot quilts and 1 lap quilt. 

3. Finish some of my UFO's
The main UFO I wanted to finish was the millennium sampler but this didn't move very far. However I did finish several UFO's, a couple of knitting projects and quilts and other craft projects.

4.Try new techniques.
I wanted to try new techniques not only in sewing but also in cooking and other activities. I used monofilament for quilting, machine stitched binding, tried needle turn applique (which I didn't enjoy) and knitting using a circular needle which I am enjoying a lot. I didn't try new FMQ patterns mostly because of lack of quilt finishes.

5. Read more, write more.
I'd fallen behind with my reading and so set a goal of reading at least a book a month. I didn't manage that but did read 8 books. I also wanted to write more blog posts but due to pressure of paid work I didn't manage this goal. On the positive side I didn't reduce the number of blog posts so I'm happy.

Goals for 2017.

1. Lose weight and stay as healthy as possible.
I lost 1 stone last year without feeling deprived by eating whatever I wanted in moderation. This year I want to lose another stone. I also want to improve my stamina as we are taking the Guides to Switzerland in August and I remember how tiring  it was walking up the mountains. Also need to make sure I continue to get enough sleep.

2. Work on a UFO each month during the year.
There are quite alot to choose from. On the quilt possibilities there is the double wedding ring quilt, or the Austen Family Album quilt (one of the blocks from this quilt).

There is also the hexi quilt,

or the hexie quilt top made for the Rainbow scrap challenge in 2014,

not to mention 'It's a dogs life'.

Then of course there are the embroidery projects and the knitting. Maybe the only way to catch up is to retire? No not an option at the moment as I am really enjoying my job.

3. Reduce,reuse recycle.
I want to get my home and life organised. I have already made a start in small ways but I need to make time to move this goal forward. We have alot of things in our loft from when we cleared my parents house after Dad died and things that belong to our daughters. This all needs sorting and moving on. It's going to be a year of going through loads of 'stuff' and making those difficult decisions of what I keep and what goes. It's also going to be a walk down memory lane which will be fun but emotional.

4. Practice my baking.
When our children were younger I used to bake regularly, both bread and cakes. The cake making developed into quite a hobby including decorating them using sugar art. I used to hand make the bread but then got a bread maker. The machine is still in the cupboard but doesn't get used very often now so this is something that I will recycle in the new year. Instead I want to rediscover the joy of baking. Barbara from Cat Patches has been baking different types of bread recently and reading her adventures has reminded me of the fun of baking.

These are 4 big goals so I'm sticking with that number. I'm hoping 2017 will be a productive year, however if I don't achieve the goals I'm not going to get upset as it's much more important to be happy.

Right I have one more day left of 2016 to do some sewing. I need to do some shopping and then the rest of the day is mine.


Thursday 29 December 2016

Best of 2016 Linky Party

Cheryl from Meadow Mist Designs is holding the second annual 'Best of' blog party to share our own top 5 posts of the year and also to let us visit and read other peoples 'Best of 2016'. There's no rules about how the 'best posts' are chosen, it's just down to personal choice.

One of my favourite posts was back in May when I wrote about the quilt I made for Maria's baby. You can read the post here. The pattern was by Connie from Freemotion by the river and was great fun to make. 

I love the colours in the quilt and the backing fabric I found.

My second post was a Friday finish. I love seeing what others have finished but for me this year has been rather poor for finishes so it was great to be able to post about finishing up the scrappy nine patch quilt. I made the top over 2015 as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and eventually finished it up in November of this year.

I made a pieced backing for this quilt following the nine patch theme and I was really pleased with the results. I had to buy the orange fabric for the backing but everything else on this quilt was from scraps or stash. For some reason Picasso was fascinated with the backing.

In May I posted about a trip to the Royal Albert Hall for a Ralph McTell concert. We actually went to the Albert Hall twice in May as we also saw Gordon Lightfoot . I really enjoyed both evenings although unfortunately Gordon Lightfoot had a cold so his voice was a little scratchy. The trip gave me the opportunity to show some photos of the hall and surrounding buildings and memorials.

The Royal Albert Hall always looks beautiful in the evening sun. Opposite is the Albert Memorial

I love to share photos of London and I'm very proud to be living in a city with such a lot of history and fabulous old buildings. I love it when others post photos of their local area or trips as it lets me visit places I probably or possibly won't get to actually visit.

As a family we love walking and when I remember to take my camera I will try to post about our routes. In June we walked part of the Thames path. This path goes from the Thames estuary back to it's source and we are walking it in sections. When I post about our walks I always get very positive comments. This section of the walk was from Henley to Reading and along the way we walked over this walkway.

This went out from the river bank and around the weir and was to allow the horses pulling the barges to pull then over to the lock  to avoid the weir.

My final 'best of' is you, the readers of my blog. You are so suportive and encouraging. Because of you I get the support I need to finish my UFO's. My oldest UFO is my millennium sampler which I received as a present for Christmas 1999. It regularly appears in posts but my progress is slow. When preparing to write this post I spent some time thinking about why I don't complete this piece and I realised  that everytime I go to work on it I spend most of the time thinking about Mom. I think I've been deliberately working slowly and dragging it out to have these quiet times. Silly me I don't need to drag the stitching out because once it's finished it will be hung on the wall in our living room and I will see it all the time.

Thank you blogland friends and family for being so fantastic.

I'm linking this post with Cheryl for her Best of 2016 Linky Party.


Sunday 25 December 2016

A very Happy Christmas

At last Christmas is here. A time for family and friends. Two of my three children are home and tomorrrow the third will join the party. In between catching up on news and gossip I had to find time to wish my blogland family and friend a very happy Christmas. Thank you for all your support, help and advice over the year. I'm looking forward to spending time with you next year, enjoying a tea or coffee and possibly a small cake whilst we chat about quilting, cooking, walking, our familes and the hundred of other topics that are covered each week  in our blogs. 

Wishing you all a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas.


Sunday 18 December 2016

A very slow Sunday

Today has been a very slow day as I keep dozing off. John has had a really bad cold which went on for 3 weeks. He's almost better but I seem to have the same bug now. I finished work for the holiday on Friday but I didn't get everything done because the head was throbbing and breathing was a little difficult. So yesterday and today have been very slow. Not that I'm complaining as I've slobbed out in front of the TV and got on slowly with a little stitching. The TV has been fun, especially today when I watched Casablanca. That film has so many great one liners in it and I hadn't seen it for years.

Last week no stitching got done at all as I worked everyday and had three social events in the evenings. When you're trying to reduce your weight and Christmas is just around the corner you don't really need to go out to dinner but this week I had two dinner engagements. Tuesday night it was with several members of staff that I currently work with and on Thursday it was with my ex boss and her boyfriend. It took a lot of will power to go with low calorie options and no alcohol but I managed it. 

My plan for this weekend was to finish up the baby quilt and my summer skirt. Last week I stitched over half the binding on the baby quilt and whilst watching Casablanca I finished it completely. All the ends are sewn in and I've checked to make sure I haven't missed any. This quilt will now join several others that will go to Project Linus after Christmas.

On the skirt front I left it at this point needing the zip and the yoke to be added.

So this afternoon I put in the zip and attached the yoke on the machine. I then hand stitched the facing down and it was finished.

I can't wait until it's warm enough to wear this skirt. Right now it would be a joy just to see a little sun since it's been grey, overcast and often foggy for days.

This evening I picked up my knitting again. I was going to do some cross stitch but my head was feeling rather fuzzy and my eyes were tired so knitting is much easier. As I'm knitting on circular needles I'm only doing knit stitches and I can do that without really looking. 

I'm hoping I'll be feeling better tomorrow as I really don't have time to be ill. I need to decorate my Christmas cake and I have some other sewing projects I want to try and finish.
I'm linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching 


Sunday 11 December 2016

The weekend at last

Last week was a busy but fun week. First I managed to clear some of my To Do list, particularly the work items. That's always a winner as you cross things off. Wednesday was our last normal Brownie meeting before Christmas. This coming week is party week and everything is already planned. Thursday was the best day as it was my birthday. Richard was working but the girls and their partners came to dinner. Lucy did most of the cooking but they all joined in and it was a noisy but very happy and enjoyable evening. The cake was particularly yummy. I also got presents. Yipee. 

So the weekend at last and time to catch up with some sewing. I started by machine sewing the binding to the baby quilt. I did some hand stitching on this on Saturday evening and I've done some more today. I love doing some slow stitching on a Sunday. It gives you time to reflect on the week just gone and to plan for the week about to start.

I looked at the jacket and skirt I'd cut out a while back. The skirt was cut out towards the end of the summer and I just never got round to starting the stitching. I'm trying to complete some of my outstanding projects and this one caught my attention because it's so bright and cheerful. I enjoyed stitching this together and it's almost finished. I need to add the yoke and the zip. You can see why the fabric makes me feel so happy.

I top stitched the seam between the main fabric and the orange panel and the hem.

The skirt has side pockets, very useful in any outfit.

Tomorrow night I will try and finish up this skirt but I do have the zip to put in. I haven't done any dress making for a while so that could take me slightly longer than it should.  

Whilst going through my project box I found this little packet. It was given free with a magazine I bought and I thought I'd keep it as it will always come in useful at Brownies for some of the games. Without a mask to cover their eyes they always peek when playing games like 'who took the keys'.

Finally I got the main Christmas box down out of the loft. This box had the advent calendar in it. So at last, ten days late, I filled the stockings on the calendar with sweets and hung it up.

I'm hoping to get the Christmas tree up later this coming week and then it will really feel like Christmas. I am working all week but then I have two weeks holiday and it can't come soon enough. I have so much sewing to catch up on.

I'm linking this post with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching Why not visit and see what folks have been stitching today.


Monday 5 December 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

I had planned on getting some sewing done this weekend once I'd completed some household chores. However it must have slipped my mind that for the last two weeks, for one reason or another, housework has been a bit of a lick and a promise. So Saturday and Sunday was taken up with major house work, including energetic vacuuming, fairly enthusiastic floor mopping and lazy laundry (lazy because all I needed to do was feed the washer/dryer and it does the work). The lazy laundry has been followed by panic stricken yelps as I stare at the ironing mountain that is rivalling the size of Everest. Still panicking never got anything done so I will make a start on that shortly. Needless to say not a lot of sewing got done however I did do some relaxing knitting in the evenings whilst watching TV.

John bought this pattern and wool at the Stitching and Knittinf Exhibition back in October. 

I had planned on finishing the other jumper I'm working on completely before making a start on this one but I made the mistake of stroking the wool and I just had to see how it knitted up. As you can see the wool comes as a hank so needs to be rolled into a ball to be able to use easily. Lucy was willing to offer her help to hold the wool so I could do this. Well this was a trip down memory lane. I remember my mother knitting during the long winter's evenings. She loved embroidery and did this most evenings during the summer whilst the light was good but during the winter she would knit. She kept me and my two bothers well provided with jumpers as well as herself and my father. Usually the wool came as a hanks and my job was to sit with my arms out  supporting the wool while she turned it into balls ready to knit up. Sitting with Lucy whilst I did this turned the clock back and had me sitting in front of the fire next to my mom. Such lovely memories. It was my mother who taught me to knit, a skill I've found very useful over the years, especially when the children were small.

So I wound the wool into a ball and found my circular needles bought especially for this jumper. When John bought the pattern I didn't realise it was knitted in the round. I've never done this technique before so I was a little wary at first, especially when joining the ends as you have to be careful that the row isn't twisted. You also need to use a marker to show the end of the row and for this I used some embroidery thread. The ribbing was the same as working on two needles but once I started the stocking stitch it was great to just have to knit. It is so much faster. This is how far I've got. I'm going to knit one ball and then go back to the other jumper to knit one ball. This way both jumpers will get done.

I also did a little work on my Christmas tree embroidery but I haven't taken a photo of my progress.

I linking this post with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

I'm not working today and I'm hoping to catch up with the sewing. Lucy wants to earn some extra money so will attached the ironong mountain for me. 


Friday 2 December 2016

A Friday and 'Let's Book it' finish and a goal

November turned out to be a good month for sewing and completing goals. I set myself a goal to complete Buddy's quilt. I got this quilt to the finished top stage for a blog hop earlier this year and I was very pleased with the result.

I chose blue camaflage fabric for the backing.

I finished the quilt with blue binding but forgot to take a photo before I gave it to Lucy and Buddy. However I received this picture by email.

Buddy loves his quilt especially since the weather here has been cold this week. 

In addition to Buddy's quilt I finished my 'Let's book it' project.  I set out to make this cushion cover.

The pattern was part of my Box of Delights a couple of months ago. Here's my finished version.

The fabrics came with the pattern as part of the box. The back of the cushion is pieced.

I needed to buy a cushion form but couldn't find one of the size needed so this weekend I shall make one myself.

My goal for December is to turn this gorgeous panel into a wall hanging for my hall. I don't decorate for the holidays until after my birthday which is next Thursday so I have a few days to get it done.

I'm linking this post with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday and Sharon from vroomans Quilts for ' Let's Book it'. For my One goal a month I'm linking with Elm Street Quilts

I'm looking forward to tomorrow as once I've finished some housework I have a date with my sewing machine.


Tuesday 29 November 2016

A weekend away

This weekend John and I managed a trip away. It was only an overnight but it all helps recharge your batteries especially in the run up to the Christmas holidays. Youngest daughter and her friends started a tradition a few years ago of meeting up for Thanksgiving. They rent a cottage for a few days, chat, eat too much, probably drink too much and generaly have fun. Most of the group live and work in Bath and the group all meet there and travel to their cottage together. The Bath Christmas market started on the 24th November and I suggested we pick Lucy up after her weekend and travel home together. That meant I could visit the market and also visit one of my favourite quilt shops, Midsomer Quilting.

There was a walk John wanted to do in the North Hampshire Downs which is part of the North Wessex area of outstanding beauty. This sounded fun and as we are trying to get match fit for walking in Switzerland next summer and since it involved walking up Pilot hill which is the highest point in Hampshire it would be good practice and provide good scenery. At last the leaves have been falling but many trees were still vibrant with the bright autumn leaves and berries.

The view from the top of Pilot hill was good but the day was a little overcast.

The sheep were very inquisitive in between loud munching. You could see odd patches of bright ness on the ground where the sun was managing to peek through the cloud cover.

We saw this character lurking in a hedge,

and at the other end of the hedge there was this piece of topiary.

The village were we parked to start our walk was a little surreal and if you have ever watched 'The League of Gentlemen' you will understand my comment as it felt like the village in that series. There initally seemed to be no one about, there was a car parked outside the pub which was closed down and empty. As we walked past the village hall there were several men standing around with 12 bores tucked under their arms but no one spoke as we said good afternoon. Whilst walking we seemed to be surrounded by shoots and going through the woods we came across several beaters with dogs. Walking back into the village as darkness fell was very eerie.

We drove on to Devizes to our hotel and enjoyed a very pleasant meal with great conversation and no interruptions from Scamp and Picasso who were safely at home with Richard. On Sunday morning we headed to Midsomer Quilting. The shop is open for the long weekend and shut midweek and as a result is busy on a Sunday. There was a class going on but I didn't pop in to see what they were doing.  I wanted to get some sewer's aid as Barbara from Cat Patches had suggested this as a cure for the shredding metallic thread. I hadn't found any in London but Midsomer Quilting often have notions I have difficulty obtaining.

Whilst browsing I came across Roxanne Glue-baste-it which Barbara also discusses using when making her village quilt. As soon as I saw it I knew why she found it so useful. The ends for glue placement are very fine and it should stop the glue going everywhere (except where you want it). For several months now I've been glue basting my applique pieces and find it much easier than other methods so this just had to come home with me. The thread is King Tut. I've never used this thread but many bloggers seem to like it so I thought I'd give it a go on my December goal.

I also liked these fat quarters although the green is the only one I currently need for an ongoing project.

This panel caught my eye. I'm hoping to have time at the weekend to quilt it  as a wall hanging for the hall. This area gets forgotten when we decorate for Christmas.

I love the colours in the piece.

Whilst I looked at everything in the shop and did a lot of fabric stroking John sat in a comfy chair with coffee and chocolate biscuits reading his book. Husbands are well catered for in the shop. He also occassionally offered some advice to other shoppers on their colour choices. He has a good eye for what works well with what.

We headed into Bath and the scrum that was the Christmas market. The whole place was heaving with people and it left us quite disorientated. We found a comfortable place for lunch before heading to our favourite bookshop, Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights. We met Lucy here before heading home after spending slightly too much on books (as always).

Home once more and Scamp was really pleased to see us. No sewing this weekend but a very pleasant and relaxing trip with a couple more Christmas presents bought and squirreled away. 


Monday 21 November 2016

Monday design wall.

Recently I've been revisiting my unfinished projects with a view to moving them forward. This evening I decided I needed to check the blocks I've been making for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year. I decided that I wanted to make the granny square block. I just love the way it looks. A couple of years ago I won a jelly roll in a give away and I used it to make my Christmas quilt.

What a shaggy looking small dog! Scamp really does look much more handsome when his fur is neated clipped and groomed.

Tonight I lay out some of the blocks from the RSC on my bed.  I don't have a design wall and I can't lay the blocks out on the floor as we took up the flooring when we restarted our remodelling and updating and have yet to relay the flooring. The bed has to act as my design wall for a while longer. Soon I will have my own sewing room and with it a design wall.

I've been making 5 blocks for each months colour so I should have 50 in all (I still have a couple to make). I haven't yet trimmed the blocks but I wanted to remind myself how this quilt was going. I need to make a decision on the colour of the sashing and borders. This weekend I have a visit to my favourite quilt shop arranged and I'll be able to buy the fabric for the sashing. I decided that tomorrow I will trim these blocks as then I will have room to lay them all out and decide the order to sew the blocks together.

I also checked out my grandmother's garden hexi quilt. This is totally hand made and provides me with a very portable project for when I'm away from home.

I have the next row of flowers already made and ready to add to the main piece. This is a great way of using up scraps. I'm working on this project when I'm away at the weekend. 

I'm linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times for deign wall Monday. What are you working on this week?


Slowly moving projects along.

Yesterday I taught a First Aid course for my Guide county. This is a six hour course so there was no stitching time during the day. As I arrived home the rain started which was perfect as I could settle down to an evening of hand stitching whilst watching a Sherlock Holmes film I'd recorded. My new magnifying light is perfect for cross stitch and this week I've been working on the Christmas tree piece. The tree is a bit of a pain to stitch as there are quite a lot of single stitches of one colour and the gap is too far to the next single stitch. This makes it slow to grow as you are constantly joining in a new colour and fastening it off.

Today it  stopped raining long enough to take Scamp for a long walk but then restarted and the light is very poor. Many areas of England have experienced high winds and flooding  with the rain falling as snow further north. Not sure what's happening with the weather as it's still only November. Still the rain gave me a good excuse to get my sewing machine out and make a start on another of my half done projects. I'm really enjoying getting projects finished and of course that means I'll be ready to start a whole lot more in the new year.

This quilt was made from a panel that I received in a scrap bag I bought last year. I added two borders, one blue and then the green one. This afternoon I quilted around the spaceships and planets and did a large meander over the green border. It's now ready to add the binding. I've got some of the deep blue fabric that I'll use for that. It's such a cute panel and when completed will be donated to Linus.

I also finished the bunney cushion cover. Now I need to make the cushion to fit the cover. I could just buy one but the nearest shops only sell square cushions.

I love the fabric on the back of the cover.

Finally, after dinner I settled down to do some more hand stitching.  When I picked it up it looked like this.

It's slow work but I've managed to move this project forward a little .

I would have got slightly further but I had a real tussel with the gold metallic thread. It kept on shredding and breaking. In the end I took out most of it and used a new thread. It looks about the same colour but is a lot easier to work with. I've also been keeping up with knitting John's jumper.

It's still raining outside and the temperature has dropped. That doesn't bode well for a good commute to work tomorrow.