Monday 31 October 2016

Happy Halloween

Postcard, poster, background, happy halloween

Wishing you all a Happy Halloween. I've just realised we won't be in to answer any trick or treat callers so I guess that means I get to eat the sweets? On Saturday the pub where Richard works had a themed evening for the Day of the Dead. He can't use face paint as it makes his skin very sore so he printed himself a mask on his 3D printer and then spent time decorating it.

I forgot to take a photo of him before he left for work.

I'm following the bear quilt along. I'm way behind as I haven't started yet but I've downloaded all the instructions. I finally had a chance to shop for the background fabric when I went to the Stitching and Knitting Exhibition a couple of weeks ago but between work and decorating I haven't made a start on the bear paw blocks. Today I'm marking from home but as all our marking is computer based there is only so much you can do before you need a rest from it. I love the rest breaks as this has given me a chance to get on with cutting the fabric. It also gave me time to throw together a test block. No point in cutting fabric if I didn't like the block or couldn't make it work.

The pieces were cut very quickly and stitched at the same speed so the whole piece is very inaccurate but I know how it goes together and that I will enjoy sewing it. This piece won't make it into the quilt top.  I also hadn't realised that the whole block makes up at 7.5 inches to finish at 7 inches. I'm not sure why but I thought they were bigger. Just goes to show you should read the instructions very carefully before you start.

Having decided to go for it, after marking two essays I stopped to cut some pieces for the blocks. I gave myself 20 minutes and then got back to marking and continued like this all day. This made the cutting process slower but it's getting the job done and reducing my boredom of marking. The light brown will be the same through all the blocks but the background will change. At the Stitching and Knitting exhibition I bought several half metre lengths and fat quarters to use as the background for this quilt.

At 5 p.m. I had to stop work, pack away my neat piles of pieces and take Picasso for his yearly appointment with the vet. He is always well behaved and today was no exception. When we got home he demanded to go out but was soon back and settled in his basket.

So that put paid to Picasso playing his witch's cat role.  Having seen Picasso happily settled for the evening Lucy and I went grocery shopping. This is our weekly trip. Monday evening is a relatively quiet time to shop and suits us both well. Lucy doesn't drive and shopping together means I can drop Lucy and her shopping at her home before continuing on to mine. Once home again it was time for dinner and now I'm ready to do a little knitting before bed time. Tomorrow I need to be up early to get the train to Reading.  I need to find some stitching I can do on the train or I could start knitting one of the sleeves. 

I hope you've enjoyed Halloween.


Sunday 30 October 2016

A little knitting and stitching.

I've been sorting out my projects and trying to make a few decisions.  I needed to do this following my trip to the stitching and knitting exhibition. Whilst I was test driving the sewing machines John sloped off on his own. He wasn't looking for anything in particular but he is often attracted to the wool stands. When I'd finished playing and caught up with John he showed me the pattern he wanted me to knit for him and the wool. I posted this picture to show you the pattern.

The last time John went with me to the stitching and knitting exhibition he bought some wool and a pattern.The pattern knits up with chevrons bought about by cable stitches.

I had knitted the back and up to the armholes on the front but, and it was a big but I hated knitting the pattern. There were only 4 pattern rows but I couldn't always remember which row I'd got to and when I picked it up having not touched it for a day or two it took me ages to work out what I should be doing. As a result this knitting has been languishing in my knitting bag. So last weekend as a first for me I pulled the knitting out! When I started I felt guilty but as I wound the wool into a ball I realised just how much I hated this pattern. I knew it would never be finished but by unpicking it I could use the wool to knit up a different pattern.

My next stop was the internet to look for a plain knit round neck sweater/jumper for a man that would use the same amount of wool and knit up to the correct tension. I found a plain knit Guernsey sweater and I made a start on the back. I need to knit 16 1/2 inches up to the armholes and so far over the last 4 days I've knitted 13 inches. The wool has an interesting kink in it having been knitted up before but that will come out when it is washed.

Next I went through some of my small cross stitch kits and decided to donate some to the charity shop. There is no way I will ever get round to stitching them and I don't even like some of them. I was given several of the kits and they really weren't to my taste but I felt I had to keep them and make them up since they were gifts. John persuaded me that I could do what I liked with the kits since they belonged to me. Donating the kits gives me some space in my stitching drawers.

Today John, Lucy and I were joined by our friend Tony for a walk. Lucy wants to walk more and wanted to walk the capital ring. The rest of us have already completed it. John has walked it 3 times and Tony twice whilst I have walked it once. The capital ring forms an inner ring around London for walkers which in total is 78 miles long. Today we walked from Balham to Richmond. The weather was quite cool and misty which is OK for walking.

The first part of the walk follows our usual dog walking route up to and through Wandsworth Common. Finally the leaves are changing colour

The route took us through Wandsworth Common, Wimbledon Park, Wimbledon Common , Putney Heath and Richmond Park. There was some road walking but not very much. Whilst completing one of the road sections we can across this little fella and some of his friends on the railing. I couldn't find out why they had been added but they are cute.

As we headed along the road to Wimbledon Common we passed Queensmere House, which has now been converted into luxury apartments. Formally it was a college and was used as a prisoner of war camp for officers during World War 2 

On Pen Ponds in Richmond Common we saw this heron. It took off as I was taking the photo but I like the picture I'd ended up with.

A little further on we saw this tree that has been struck by lightening in the past and now only has leaves on one side.

This ancient oak is hollow and has been fenced off to stop people climbing on it and potentially being injured .

The view from the top of the hill in Richmond Common is beautiful but by the afternoon the mist still hadn't cleared .

We covered over 10 miles on the walk so this evening I am really looking forward to some slow stitching whilst chilling out with a good film. I have now reached the armholes on my knitting and in total I only have 6 more inches of the back to knit. Because the pattern is just knit a row purl a row it is relaxing to work on. Before I do that I have one last side of binding to hand stitch down on my nine patch quilt. That means that finally I will have a finish.

Although tomorrow is Monday  I'm not in work and I've got some time to play with my new machine. I promised I'd tell you about it and tomorrow there is time to do that. For now I have about half an hour to popover to Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Stitching Sunday linky party to see what everyone has been busy doing. Why not visit and find out?


Thursday 20 October 2016

Eerie Nights Blog Hop.

Hi everyone welcome to the first day of the Eerie Nights blog hop

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Will you be going trick or treating this Halloween? I prefer to stay in doors and read or sew or watch TV. Here in London, trick or treat is a bit hit and miss. A few of years ago we had lots of callers and most of them were children, two years ago most of them were adults, mainly medical students at the local hospital and last year our door bell didn't ring even once. However just because trick or treat isn't a big deal doesn't mean we dislike Halloween or don't join in. A lot of people decorate their house and enjoy the festivities. When our children were younger we used to have a family party and play dunking for apples and other Halloween games. In the past I've made table runners especially for the party.

This one was great down the middle of the table and we used it for our Guide party as well.
Last year I made this table topper for my coffee table. I can't find the photo of the finished version and after Halloween my friend bagged it for her house this year

I loved the leaves on this as they were made from wool and gave a lovely different texture effect.

This year I'm making mug rugs for friends. The first one I have made several times before using slightly different orange fabric but sticking to the same colour combinations and backing fabric.

This one is staying home with me as I can't find my previous Halloween mug rug. The background was the same but the orange had pumpkins on it.

I've also almost finished the other two mug rugs. I have told my regular readers that I recently bought a new machine and so I decided to try it out by making these mug rugs. The making was a slow process because the machine operates quite differently from my old one. It is a lot bigger, computer controlled and looks like it may be capable of powering the USS Enterprise. I know that in the end it will be very quick and easy to use but at present it is taking a bit of getting used to......maybe reading the whole instruction book may have helped?  I'm pleased with the way the mug rugs have come out so far. I have a little hand stitching to do on them before I quilt them, mainly giving them faces!.

I used a narrow zigzag stitch to applique the pieces onto the backing. I also used glue stick to hold the pieces in place whilst I stitched. My new machine has a button for raising and lowering the pressure foot and I kept on forgetting this when I needed to change the direction of the stitching. I also forgot I was using the start/stop button and kept taking my foot off the non existent foot pedal and wondered why the machine was still working. The pressure lever is heavy to use so getting used to the button will be a great help.

I think I like this one better as the kitten is so sweet. He is going to have green eyes. I've pencilled in where I need to embroider his little nose. I used some wool fabric for the kitten as I liked the texture.

There are some fluffy bits around the applique that need to be trimmed but otherwise not bad especially for the first time using the machine. 

Several year ago I made mini tote bags to keep the treats in out in my hall. I managed to find one to use again this year. Ignore the fluffy character in the other bag he just likes photo bombing other people's pictures. These totes are really quick to make and make great gift bags.

Picasso our very own witches cat has been practising his moves recently. He loves to look a little menacing and can arch his back with the best of them. He likes Halloween, it's the perfect time for black cats.

Now you have 2 things to do.

The first is to enter the give away which is sponsored by Fat Quarter shop. This is running on all the blogs taking part in the hop.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Then you need to visit the other people taking part today to see what they have created.

Thank you for stopping by and special thanks to Marian from Seams to be sew and Amy from Sew Incredibly Crazy for organising the hop and keeping us on track.

Looking forward to seeing you again soon and good luck in the give away.


Sunday 9 October 2016

Walking, theatre and a stitching show.

This last week has been great fun, especially yesterday.  Over the week I've managed to get some bits and pieces of sewing done even though I've been working. Having thought I'd done all the quilting on Lucy's quilt, when I lay it out to trim it I found a couple of areas I'd missed plus a few ends I'd not sewn in. That was soon sorted and I could get on with the next job of cutting and preparing the binding. I will machine stitch that to the front of the quilt a little later this afternoon and then this evening I can start hand stitching the binding to the back.

I have also started work on another project. This is for the Eerie Nights blog hop so I can't show you what I'm working on. My day is 20th October so I'm on a tight time schedule

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I'm also using this as my October 'Let's book it' project. I love using one item to complete two things.

Let's book it 2016

Although I've been working I've done a lot of walking this week. I've forgotten to take my camera and phone with me most of the time but earlier in the week John had his phone so took this photo for me. 

This was taken on Wednesday and as you can see the leaves are just starting to change colour and some leaves have already fallen. It was predicted that we would have magnificent Autumn colours due to the rain in the Spring and then the hot summer days but so far that isn't happening. We spotted this patch of Neapolitan cyclamen in a woody area of the walk just poking through the fallen leaves.

Yesterday John and I went to the Stitching and Knitting Exhibition at Alexandra Palace.  This show has been running for many years and attracts a lot of visitors. I don't go every year as I find the crowds challenging and it detracts from my enjoyment of the show. However this year I wanted to go to look at the sewing machines. My home machine has a very small aperture under the arm and it makes quilting a chore so I decided I needed one that would work better. To get to see all the different types of machines is difficult if visiting the shops as they tend to only stock one manufacturer. The show offered the chance to see lots in one place. I had fun getting the information and test driving different machines. I decided on a Brother and my new machine will be arriving on Wednesday or Thursday. I can't wait 

Whilst at the show I also stocked up on some fat quarters for background fabrics

and a new magnifying light. Now that will make hand stitching much easier. I tend to stitch at night and often find it quite challenging. I sat and worked on my millennium sampler last night and I might have a better chance at finishing this now. Yesterday I was working on the spitfire.

John treated himself to some wool to make a jumper........ only problem he doesn't knit so I now have another project Not such a problem as knitting in the winter whilst watching TV is OK. This pattern is also mainly stocking stitch except for that neck/collar bit.

John and I had an evening at the theatre on Thursday. We had dinner at Pizza Express first and then on to the theatre in Richmond. I haven't taken any photos of the theatre so when I go next time I'll take my camera. We went to see Alan Ayckbourne's comedy Relatively Speaking with Robert Powell and Lisa Goddard as two of the four cast members. We really enjoyed our evening.

So walking, a trip to the theatre, and the Stitching and Knitting Show with a new sewing machine makes for one fun week.

Now I need to get a wriggle on with attaching the binding so I can sit and hand stitch whilst watching Silent Witness later tonight. I'm currently slowly re-watching the whole of the back series.


Tuesday 4 October 2016

Catch up goals and Bag ladies stitch along

It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted and now I'm back playing sewing catch up. Never mind, the last couple of weeks have been spent doing some decorating and catching up on vital paperwork. The work on the house is moving forward very quickly and the end is in sight, thank goodness . Missing out on stitching time has been a small price to pay to see the house finally coming together. Now I need to buy the flooring for the main living areas.

On the sewing front I nearly, so very nearly, completed my September goal for OMG at Red Letter Quilts  Still sad though it is, 'nearly' isn't yippee I completed my goal.  I still need to trim the quilt and bind it. This quilt is for my daughter Lucy and she was really looking forward to having it during September. Now the weather has already turned colder and she really would like it to curl up under in the evening. Especially as she has a lot of reading to do in preparation for writing her dissertation for her Master's course.

We are both very happy with the quilting but sewing in all the ends took simply ages. It was slow stitching most days of the week not just Sunday.

Although this is so close to completion I'm not using this as my October goal. Instead I want to quilt Buddy's quilt.

This is a big quilt but then Buddy is a large dog. Here he is lounging on the settee after a long Christmas day keeping us all entertained.

My goal for October is to get the quilting done and if I have time to bind the quilt as well.

Although I haven't been blogging recently I have been doing some hand stitching. I'm still trying to get all my badges (or patches) sewn onto my camp blanket and I've done some cross stitch on the book mark. I love hand stitching but I tend to be very slow. My spare time is in the evening and often my eyes are tired from using a computer all day so hand stitching is out of the question. At the end of October I will be working an hour and a half's train journey away from home twice a week. That will give me 6 hours stitching time each week so I'm hopeful I will be able to get some of my hand stitching projects finished.

I'll need to finish some of the projects as Barbara at Cat Patches is planning a monthly stitch along starting January 1st 2017. Her plan is to stitch the 12 Bag ladies of the fat quarter club. These are such great designs from Chickadee Hollow Designs Barbara is also having a give away for the patterns, so click here for a chance to win. This is open until 11.59 p.m. (PST) on Friday 7th October. It's open to all residents of planet Earth so what are you waiting for?

Tomorrow I'll add the binding to Lucy's quilt and maybe I'll have a finish on Friday to cheer about.