Monday 29 February 2016

A cold walk and slow stitching

Yesterday we had planned a walk, so after running some vital errands (more dog and cat food and collecting a parcel) John, Scamp and I collected our friend Tony and we drove to The Devil's Punchbowl. The Devil's Punchbowl is a large hollow of dry sandy heath to the west of Hindhead in Surrey, England. The main A3 from London to Portsmouth used to run around the Punchbowl but in 2011 the Hindhead tunnel was opened. We hadn't travel this route since the tunnel opened so we were keen to see how it looked.As I was driving I couldn't take a photo but we were fascinated by the lights as we went through the tunnel, it was very colourful with green arrows and purple lights along the side.

Unfortunately the day wasn't the best for taking photos as at times it was a bit misty. The view across Surrey was good.

Looking down into the punchbowl. There is even more of the hollow out of shot to the left.

The gorse was very pretty.

The area is National Trust property and there was a cafe at the car park so we started our walk with a mug of hot chocolate and when we had finished we enjoyed mushroom soup with homemade bread for lunch. Walking around the top of the punchbowl was very windy and I was grateful when we descended to the bottom. We took the wrong route at the bottom and this made the ascent much steeper than we had planned. The walk wasn't that long as we haven't done any serious walks over the winter. The ascent confirmed that I am not as fit as I was last autumn. 

I underestimated the temperature difference between London and at the top of a hill out in Surrey. I needed to have added another jumper to what I was wearing and as a result I got very chilled. We had the heat on in the car but John, Tony and Scamp were very warm after the walk so I couldn't put it on full which meant when I got home it took a while to warm up and left me feeling slightly unwell. Never mind this morning I'm feeling better and ready to do some sewing later. First I had some laundry to do and the inevitable marking.

So this evening I did a little more work on the millennium sampler. I had hoped to complete the 1066 block but I still have the horseman's feet and spear to do. Hopefully there will be time tomorrow. Here is how it looks. In order to make the chain mail you had to backstitch around every stitch and it took me longer than I'd anticipated.t

I'm creating a shadow as I'm taking the photo but I couldn't find a place to take it that avoided shadows. Never mind I tells you how far I've got.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching  I was also working on this embroidery as my Let's book it project run by Sharon. I may switch to a different embroidery for the next month as there are a lot of fractional stitches and it makes my eyes sore after a while. I'll make my mind up in the next day or two. 

I hope you've had a good February and completed some of your goals and projects. I'm hoping for a warmer March.


Thursday 25 February 2016

Adding another block

This evening I decided I would have time to make block 3 of the splendid sampler and having looked at block 4 getting that one set up also seemed doable. Block 2 had quite a few small pieces which always slows the cutting out. This block is called wings. Here's my version.

I need to embroider the butterflys antennae. I altered the block slightly as I wanted to use a minimum of background colours so the butterflys would really stand out. I had a moment of quilt guilt as the block has been specifically designed for the sampler. Then I realised I always change patterns to suit what I want. We all do it right?  

So what about block 4. Well this one is an applique. I cut the background fabric and the template for the vase.

This is as far as I got because I couldn't decide which fabric I wanted to use . The block also has circles for the flowers and the stems are embroidered. Somewhere I have some really pretty button flowers so I may use these instead....but there again I may stick with fabric. Hmm just too many decisions for this time of night.

This is as far as I got with sewing. I decided to retire to bed with my book. I'll see if I can finish these blocks tomorrow evening.


Manic Wednesday

Wednesdays are always rather manic. To start with I run Rainbows, Brownies and Guides on Wednesdays. We start at 5pm and finish Guides at 9 but often it takes another half an hour to get completely tidied up. Generally I don't work on Wednesday as I need to get the activities for the girls organised but when I have a lot of marking to get done I try to do some of it in the morning. This morning was no exception and I spent some time marking. By 11am I decided I needed a little time to myself so I set the machine up and pulled up The Splendid Sampler on my computer. This is a sew along that started earlier this month. The blocks will finish at 6 inches and there are 100 blocks with a block being released on a Thursday and one on a Sunday. Three blocks plus a bonus block have already been released. 

I meant to start these blocks on the day they were released but........ well you know what its like. Anyway I decided I would try and make the first three today, after all they're only 6 inch blocks so how long would that take? Block 1  is Hearts a flutter by Pat Sloan. This is a nice straightforward block that looks very effective. It went together very quickly and I'm very pleased with the result.

I still need to stitch the heart down. I was going to machine stitch it but I have decided to do it by hand. I also need to trim the block.

Whilst on the heart theme I decided to make block 3. This block is called Lots of love and is designed by Melissa Corry from Happy Quilting  I realised this block would take a little longer to make but I thought it would be reasonably quick. For some reason I seemed to find it impossible to stitch this block correctly. I had to unpick several seams and some of them several times. It took a long time to get it right but I'm now happy with it and it is a lovely block. The instructions are well written and the pictures are really helpful, it was just one of those days. Anyway I finally managed to sort it.

With hindsight I wished I'd made the three lower hearts  a stronger colour so there was greater contrast. By the time I had finished this block I didn't have time to make block 2 so that will be a little job for tomorrow or Friday.

Having struggled to get that block right I had time to finalise the activities for the meeting. Rainbows and Guides was all planned but for Brownies, one of the activities was making Danish Hearts They make a little basket and next week we will be making biscuits to give as a present in the basket. Several of the girls said they'd made them before at school and rushed to get them done but were disappointed when the couldn't open them as a basket. By the end of the evening they had all managed to make their basket and they are excited to be making biscuits next week. I forgot to take a photo of the hearts so here is one from Google.

Tomorrow I'm at work again and teaching all day but I'm looking forward to relaxing with some stitching.


Wednesday 24 February 2016

Sewing and trimming.

Today I was only due to work during the afternoon so I had hoped to get some sewing done this morning but just as I was ready to set up my machine Kathryn arrived and we needed to have tea and a chat. After that we had to take a walk into town as I had some items to drop into the charity shop. Kathryn and Lucy are finally sorting through their belongings that they have left at home . Having not had the use of things for a couple of years they tend to find that they no longer need them. Once they have cleared all their 'stuff' from their old bedroom I will have a sewing area so I'm actively encouraging them in this activity. There are things they want to keep so whilst out Kathryn and I bought some plastic boxes which once full can go up in the attic.There are also some bits they want to sell on ebay or gumtree so I have to take some photos at the weekend. When we got back I found this pattern had arrived in the post.

The quilt is the perfect size for a baby quilt but I don't have any plans for it at present. I just loved the pattern. Richard always loved frogs and his old stuffed toy frog from childhood still sits on the top of his wardrobe. I have some other stitching I'm working on at the moment so this won't be started for a while which is good as I need to consider the fabric I want to use.

After work this afternoon I decided I would do half an hours sewing before I got back to my marking. My aim was to add the setting triangles to all the nine patch blocks I'd made. There were quite a number of blocks and the thread on my machine kept on breaking so the job took longer than planned. I'm not sure why the thread kept breaking. I checked the needle size which was OK and it was a new needle. I thought it was a problem with the tension but that was fine so in the end I put it down to the thread itself. Anyway having finished the sewing and pressed the blocks I decided to mark tomorrow and set about trimming the blocks.

I cut the triangles bigger than I needed to be on the safe side so there was quite a bit to trim off. Having done that I laid the blocks on my design floor to take a photo.

The blocks on the left have already been stitched together. The blocks finish at 4 inches so  at the moment the top will be about 24 x 36 inches. This is for a baby quilt and I want it to be bigger so I need to make some more nine patch. That will have to wait until Thursday evening as I have Guides tomorrow. I love how this quilt is coming and it has used up a lot of my 1 and a half inch scrap squares. 

I had hoped to make the first of the blocks for the Splendid sampler sew along but I ran out of time. I need to go to bed once I've finished this post. Never mind there's always tomorrow.


Monday 22 February 2016

Colouring and things.

Last night I'd planned to get back to my slow stitching during the evening but as time went on I just felt tired and as I didn't want to make a mess of the stitching I decided to do a little colouring whilst watching TV. Kathryn (older daughter) gave me this adult colouring book as a present and although I'd enjoyed looking at it I hadn't done any colouring.

A while back I was given a fabulous set of colouring pencils. The pencils are watercolour pencils but can be used to just colour or used with water.

I spend a happy time colouring whilst watching TV. I had a great time, picking my colours and deciding how I wanted it to look. I still haven't finished the picture but I'm very pleased with how it looks. Meet Ellie the pretty elephant.

I shall be finishing this off probably tonight (if I can stay awake) I like this book because it gives you a detailed picture to colour but on the opposite page gives one with less detail and space for you to draw in your own design.

Opphs my shadow head got in the way of the photo again! I was going to show you some more pictures from the book but there are so many beautiful pictures I couldn't make a choice.

I've done very well for presents recently. Kathryn gave me a cute dog soft toy It has a basket of tea fastened around its neck and was made by a quilter in Hungry.

I've seen this pattern recently in the magazine that I used for the baby quilt. The pattern suggested making the quilt and making the dog to go with it. I've already gifted the quilt but I might make the dog. The quilt was made with 2 1/2 inch squares but I think the dog would look better made with smaller squares.

Today at work the students were teaching each other a skill. They are all healthcare workers but they were asked to demonstrate a skill that had no link to healthcare. One of them showed us how to create a small indoor garden without soil. He gave it to me as a present....mostly because he had a train journey home and it would have been difficult to carry.

It's pretty but I'm going to take some of the glass beads out as I think it would look better with less of them. The students enjoyed the session and it was fun finding out their different skills.

For now I must practice some of my skills and do a little stitchery. Tomorrow I need to get some marking done but tonight is my time.


Sunday 21 February 2016

A chilly weekend

Last weekend Lucy and I took 17 of our guides to Freezer Camp. If you want to see what it was all about Click here to visit the facebook page and play the video. It was cold with the temperatures sitting around -1 to +1 degree C and we slept in tents! We all survived the weekend but I ended up with a rerun of my cold and cough so although I've been to work this week I haven't felt like doing much when I get home, not even my stitching. I must finish sewing that badge onto the unit camp blanket. One of the guides started the job but having taken the photo I can see it's not fully stitched on.

Having said I didn't do much I have done a little as well as keeping up with the blogs I follow. First I made some more of the little nine patch for the baby quilt I'm making. It's a good job the baby isn't due for a while!

I have a lot of the nine patches made waiting for the setting triangles to be added. I just need to cut some more white and these blocks all need trimming. Here's what I've already put together in case you missed it. There are still more blocks ready to be stitched together.

Having sorted those blocks I decided I need to get the rainbow scrap challenge blocks made. The colour this month was brown (with a hint of pink) Well brown isn't a colour I have a lot of scraps pieces and all of the fabric I have is quite bright and patterned. 

When I pulled my brown scraps I was a little worried whether the blocks would look OK once made. I thought about buying a fat quarter but I'm trying not to buy fabric at the moment as I have a storage space shortage. Also it is a challenge to make good looking blocks out of scraps and I love a challenge. The orange leaf fabric is much browner in person. If you remember I'm making five granny squares from each months colour. Here's what I made.

First two the same. I used the outer fabric to make the hedgehogs on a mug rug.  I love the way they look. I have this mug rug on my desk at work.

I'm not completely sure about the  block on the left but it works well enough when viewed in person.

Earlier last week a package arrived from the US. I had won the draw that Sharon runs each month on her blog for her Let's book it challenge. Sharon's challenge is to make something from those books and patterns we have stashed away but forget to use. I won the January 2016 draw and my prize was this lovely charm pin and the 2016 quilt charm.

I just love the cute little charm pin. I was sent the other charm ages ago when I took part in a mini quilt swap. It's been attached to my embroider scissors but looks much better on the charm pin I'm sure the charms must be available in the UK but I've never come across them.

Finally I've been doing a little slow stitching. Some of it has been running repairs, sewing on buttons and catching down a hem that had been caught but I've also finished the second side of the outer border of my millennium sampler. I've also added some single stitches in across the quilt. I need to finish the 1066 block but the helmet is made of fractional stitches and my cold made my eyes rather blurry. Here's how I left it last week.

and here's where I am now. I going to carry on with the border and finish off the 1066 block this week.

I'm linking this post with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching. Now I'm off to cook dinner so I can enjoy some slow stitching whilst watching Vera this evening. The scenery in the series is fabulous.


Wednesday 10 February 2016

Nuts About Blog Hop.

stbs-Nuts About

Welcome to my day on the 'Nuts about' blog hop. Many thanks to Marian from Seams to be sew for organising the hop. It's been fun visiting everyone and seeing what they're nuts about and what they made.

I'm nuts about a whole bunch of things , sewing, quilting,  knitting, trying to paint, walking bird watching and a whole heap more. I tend to go through phases so for example I'll spend weeks being nuts about knitting and then I won't touch it for ages. The one thing that is a constant is that I love sewing. It doesn't matter what type of sewing, whether it's dress making, sewing curtains, quilting or embroidery I just find it very relaxing.

Now I love fabric and I do sometimes find it difficult to cut into a pretty length of fabric but I love what I can create with it. I also love trying to use up every last scrap of the fabric so there is no waste as it always seems such a shame to throw away the scraps because they look so pretty. In addition fabric here in the UK is expensive especially the good quality cottons so using it all up is essential.  So I have to admit I am nuts about making scrappy quilts and other items from my scraps. It's fun to see just what you can make with what's left over

For example this quilt which is my header photo was made mostly from pieces of fabric left after other projects or some fabric that I was given. My Rainbow group designed the pattern and learnt how to use the sewing machine by sewing the squares together. I finished up the quilt that was then donated to the Linus project.

The Tetris quilt made when Melissa from Happy Quilting ran her quilt along was all made from scraps.

 These little mini totes not only use up scraps but make great gift bags.

The little schnibble quilts designed by Carrie Nelson are perfect for using up scraps

Which bring me to my project. My starting point was my box of 1 1/2inch squares.

I decided I would use these to make some 9 patch blocks that I would then set on point with a solid background. The idea was to make a set of 6 mug rugs.

So I made enough 9 patch blocks but I decided to use white as the background as it made the blocks look so pretty. Now white isn't a good colour for mug rugs so I decided to tuen this into a table topper.

I was sitting looking at what I had completed on Saturday morning prior to getting back to the machine and adding another row of blocks when I changed my mind again. I have a colleague who pregnant. It's still early on and she hasn't told everyone but I started to see a baby quilt. So instead of adding another row I started making more blocks. I also decided that when I got to the border stage (if I add one)  I would use my strip scraps to make it. This box is just one of 4 of strips

By mid afternoon I had blocks in various stages of development. Some were just a bundle of squares waiting to be stitched into rows. Some were at row stage and waiting to become 9 patches and some had already had some of the setting triangles added, with some needing the seams pressing and others ready for the second set of triangles. It was at this point I remembered that this project was being made for this blog hop. Opps I'd got completely carried away and forgotten what I had set out to do.  So I need to apologise to you all as I don't have a completed project. Saturday was my last chance to get the main stitching done as we had visitors on Sunday and I'm working this week. By the time I get home from work I'm just too tired to get the machine out. At this point I thought about just making the table topper as I had all the blocks ready made and it would be quick and easy to quilt and finish it. By now I had set my heart on making a quilt so I decided against it.

This project needs quite a bit of work on it. The blocks finish at 4 inches when sewn together. That means I need lots of blocks. It a good job I'm also nuts about making blocks.

You need to visit the other folks taking part today, who are:

Sew Many Yarns
From This To That
Seams To Be Sew

There is also a giveaway but I am having serious problem getting the linky bit for it to work. Please go to Seams to be Sew to take part. I'll try and sort it in my lunch break.

Enjoy the rest of the hop and good luck in the give away. 


Monday 8 February 2016

Slow Sunday stitching already?

The weeks seem to zoom past and I sometimes find myself wondering what I did with the time. I'm not very good at keeping my diary up to date so this blog helps as I post about visits and some of the events we attend. I also keep a scrapbook of tickets and programmes from concerts, plays or exhibitions. Generally when I'm hand stitching I will be watching television or chatting to the family but when I'm alone I find myself using the time to look back over the week and reflecting on what I've done. It helps set the memory and gives me time to put things that have happened in perspective, whether good or not so good.

This week has been good as I finished reading one book and read another from cover to cover. The first was Dust by Patricia Cornwell. I like murder mystery books and try to work out what happened before the author tells you. This one was easy to second guess and isn't one of my favourites of the series. The second book was Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson.  This is a coming of age story about a lesbian girl who grows up in an English Pentecostal community. I enjoyed reading this book 

I've also managed some sewing. I've been getting on with the quilting on the 9 patch quilt. This is being done on the machine. I'm not posting a picture as I've already shown how this is being quilted.  I'm also working on a piece for the 'Nuts about' blog hop. My day is the 10th February. Sorry no peeping until then

Nuts About Blog Hop

I sorted my fabric for this months colour on the rainbow scrap challenge. Brown with a hint of pink. 

I'm sure I've got a couple of other brown fabrics somewhere but I just can't find them right now. That leaf one looks really orange here but is quite brown in real life.

Finally I've been working on the millennium sampler and I will be working on this tonight whilst I watch Vera. Unfortunately I won't get as much done this evening as I should as you have to watch Vera not just listen.

Here's a close up of the border I've been working on.

I'm linking up with Kathy for Slow Stitching Sunday I hope you've enjoyed some stitching time this weekend.


Saturday 6 February 2016

February Goals.

This year I'm taking part in One Monthly Goal over at Red Letter Quilts.

grab button for RedLetterQuilts

My goal for January was to quilt my 9 patch quilt. That didn't happen, in fact I did very little quilting on it at all but I did finish the baby quilt I was making. So here we are at the start of February and a new goal. Well an old goal revisited. I want to complete the quilting on the 9 patch quilt. Here's the finished top.

I have quilted some of the blocks and it is looking good. I'm using the monofilament thread again as this is a scrappy quilt and I couldn't decide on the perfect colour of thread for the different blocks. 

I'm keeping the quilting nice and simple.  I've just increased my work hours so I don't have time for anything complicated.

This month I'm also working on my millennium sampler for my  'Let's book it' project. This has taken an age to complete and the pattern is obviously old and needs finishing. I've done quite a lot of work on the borders already this month. Knowing I'm working on it for a purpose has made me pick it up more often so far this month. Here's how far I'd got when I last took a photo. Come back tomorrow to see my progress

I have also set myself a goal to lose weight this year. I would love to lose 2 stone as this would help my hips and knees and would bring me back into the right weight for my height rather than at the top of the overweight band for my height. I could have started a diet on January 1st but past experience has taught me that this is not a great day to start anything, particularly if you stayed up and celebrated the new year the night before. On Tuesday 2nd February I started my diet. The aim is to increase my exercise and stick to 1200 calories a day. My goal is to lose 6lbs this month. I know there will be days where the diet will go out the window but that doesn't matter so long as the weight is going in the right direction. Here's a photo from our holiday last year which shows my size. Mmm it was raining then and it's raining now. Why is it always raining?

I've walked Scamp this morning. We had fun being blown along by the wind and Scamp was chasing leaves and anything else that was blowing past him. My plan for the rest of the afternoon is to sew. I hope you've got some time for sewing this weekend.


First finish of the year

I'm very happy that I have finally got a Friday finish. I have posted about the baby quilt whilst it was almost done but now all the ends on the front and back are sewn in. The quilt has been washed and all the markings for the quilting have been washed away and it's fully dry,. 

I love the quilting pattern and I am so happy that I followed it. It was also fun using the monofilament for the first time. I'm pleased with the result. I had planned to take a photo outside but during my lunch break and when I finished work it was raining. If it's nice over the weekend I'll try and get a good picture before it goes to its new home on Monday.

I'm looking forward to many more finishes this year so I'd better get a move on and finish a few more projects.

I'm linking with Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts .