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.


Saturday 19 November 2016

Trunkful of Quilts 2016

Over at Whims and Fancies there's a trunk show going on and so I just had to join in. I like nothing better than looking back at the quilts I've made and remembering the process. Sometimes quilts are a pure joy and seem to put themselves together but some patterns have me struggling and wondering if it was a good choice to make. I also like to make smaller quilted items and knitted items.

The swoon quilt was a love hate relationship. I made this for a friend's 25th wedding anniversary and I wasn't completely happy with the colour choices at first but it does work. 
This photo shows the blocks very well but was taken when the top was finished.

I asked my friend to send me a photo of the completed quilt as I totally forgot to take one but it doesn't show the whole quilt or the quilting. 

This quilt was made for the baby of a friend of my daughter. I used a variety of blocks as I wanted it to act as a sampler quilt. I have added the names of the blocks to my printed version of the photo.

A friend of my other daughter was expecting a baby at the same time so I used the same fabrics but different blocks to make her a quilt.

When my great nephew was born I made him a quilt. I used all solids for the top but a baby print fabric for the backing. This was fun to make but did my head in a little when trying to get the colour blocks in the right order.

I enjoyed making the binding for this quilt from the left overs of the rainbow fabrics. One quilt I really enjoyed making was this bird quilt. I used a pieced bird pattern I found on the internet and then used brown for the truck and branches of my tree. The quilting on each of the blocks is a trail with leaves. The brown is quilted to represent bark and the blue border has clouds quilted on it. This quilt was made for my husband to keep in his car and use when he goes bird watching (it does get very cold in those hides.)

Mini quits are fun to make and also make good swaps. This one was made from a picture I drew of my clematis in flower and used to make the piece for  a swap.

I almost didn't swap this piece as I liked it so much but I have the original drawings I made and can recreate a similar piece. This little mini was for a Christmas blog hop and is used to decorate my coffee table..

For another hop I made this Christmas pillow. 

This tote bag was made for using as a large gift bag for a double quilt I made my older daughter. She uses it whenever a large bag is needed or to store her quilt when not in use during the summer.

Finally just to show I do also knit here is a baby blanket I made for a colleagues baby. I have made this pattern several times and it is lovely to knit.

and another baby blanket in a basket weave type of pattern.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing my quilts and knitting. There's lots more to see over at Whims and Fancies.


Friday 18 November 2016

Advent Calendar

Time for Finish it up Friday and for the second week running I have a finish. I'm very happy about getting back to completing some of my projects. Several have been around for quite a while and this advent calendar is on that list. Last year Kathryn asked me if I would make one for her and I thought I would get it finish quickly. However life happened and it wasn't finished in time and so it went into storage until last weekend went I rescued it and set about completing it.

The advent calendar was made from a panel. The pockets have to be folded and stitched on. The finished top was sandwiched with wadding and a backing fabric and lightly quilted. I finished the binding earlier today. I've added a sleeve so it can be hung up and all I now need to do is to buy sweets to fill the pockets. 

I thought I was going to have a second finish as I've been working on the bunny cushion but I've just got a couple of things to do to complete it. I will sort out the final bits on Sunday. Unfortunately I'm out tomorrow as I'm teaching a first aid course and so I'm losing stitching time this weekend. I'm hoping to get to work on the mini nine patch quilt tomorrow evening and get this to finished top stage. I've made a heap more blocks and I think I've got enough to piece together.

I'm linking this post with Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday. Here's hoping for another finish next week.


Sunday 13 November 2016

Cake and stitching.

On Friday I finished the quilting on Buddy's quilt and Saturday morning I trimmed it ready for adding the binding. I had meant to start the binding straight away but I had a mountain of housework to do first. I needed to do some laundry and clean the kitchen, then a trip to the shops for some groceries. By the time I'd done all that I needed a little rest and a cup of tea whilst I did some knitting. Then I moved the heavy boxes from my fabric chest so I could sort out some of my projects.

I found the fabric I needed for the binding and I also found a small quilt top I had made that's suitable for a young boy. My 'It's a dogs life' quilt was also in the box so that came out ready for me to set up for quilting it. I  found the advent calendar that never got finished last year. It is all quilted and trimmed and just needs the binding.

What to do first? Well I decided to make my Christmas cake since it's only 6 weeks until Christmas. We like a heavy fruit cake and having made it I will 'dose' it every week with some brandy until it is decorated just before Christmas. The recipe is one I have made every year for the last 30 plus years. The mixture is very tasty and the smell when it's cooking is fabulous, it made the whole house smell like Christmas. The cake came out nice and flat which makes it much easier to decorate.

Today I got started on the binding for Buddy's quilt. I decided to attach it completely by machine. Normally I machine stitch the front and hand stitch the back. Since the quilt is for a dog it seemed the perfect time to test out a new technique, I didn't think Buddy would complain. The binding went on easily and the whole job was soon finished. I then popped the quilt in the wash with a colour catcher as I knew the deep blue dye would transfer onto lighter colours if it wasn't washed. It's now ready for Lucy to take home for Buddy and hopefully get a photo of him using it. I took a quick photo of the backing fabric.

Lucy loves the camerflage fabric. Having finished that I stitched the binding onto the advent calendar. I will hand stitch this later today.

I did eventually find my Christmas cross stitch but not in my fabric chest, it had somehow got into one of. my craft drawers . I thought I'd done some additional work on this piece but no my memory was wrong. This is how it stands before my evening of slow stitching.

The sky was very tedious to do and part of the reason for my slow progress. This is the piece I'm going to work on this week. There is still a lot to do on this project but it is always nice to work on a seasonal project in the right season.

I'm linking this post with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching.  This week Kathy is discussing being fearless and trying new things. I generally love trying new things but I haven't had a lot of time recently. I tried the machine binding technique today and I've been practising with my new machine. We are slowly becoming good friends.

Tomorrow is a work day and this week is ridiculously busy so not a lot of time for stitching. I will still do some knitting and stitching each day to help move my projects forward.


Saturday 12 November 2016

At last a finish

It's been a while since I last finished a quilting project but this week I have a finish. The nine patch quilt is finally done. This quilt is made from blocks created for the 2015 Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  This quilt is going to my younger daughter Lucy and she is looking forward to snuggling under it when she watches TV or reads in an evenning. I realised a little earlier that I hadn't taken a photo so I had to lay it out on my bed instead of taking it outside since it is already dark. Picasso was taking a little nap and refused to move so the 'lump' in the quilt is him, still curled up and trying to pretend I don't exist.

I pieced the back for this quilt and of course I did it as a big nine patch. Picasso decided to come out and pose on the quilt but kept his back to me!

I love the houses on this fabric and it works well as the backing. The quilt will go to its new home tomorrow.

Today I also worked on Buddy's quilt. I made the top for a blog hop earlier in the year. I had intended to quilt it last month but run out of time so it became my goal for November. I decided to quilt in the ditch.

I spilt something on the quilt so I shall have to wash it when it's finished.  Tomorrow I'll trim the quilt and add the binding. This could even be a finish by the end of next week.

This evening I hand stitched some hexies  for the Garden quilt. It is exciting to be stitching again. I really should have done some work today but I've taught for four days this week and just needed a change of pace and activitiy. I'll get the work done tomorrow.

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday. Tomorrow there will be some more time for sewing. I wonder what I can achieve over the day.


Thursday 10 November 2016

Thinking of Christmas

For the second time this year the world seems to have skewed out of correct alignment and yet again there is nothing I can do about it except find my own comfort zone. My main ways of relaxing and calming are spending time with the family and stitching. As family are all busy with their jobs and studying I gave thanks for my sewing machine and my long list of projects. I also enlisted the cuddle powers of Scamp and Picasso.

Scamp has been under the weather recently. He was peeing quite frequently, just small amounts and often with some blood so he had to visit the vet. He wasn't impressed with the examination he had and keeps complaining that vets should be very careful where they stick their little finger! There wasn't a hint of a tail wag for a couple of hours after that event. The vet decided he had a bladder infection so he's got a course of antibiotics. Fortunately he will take tablets so long as you mix them in with some tasty wet food. So he thinks he's having a treat and at the same time the infection is clearing. 

I have continued work on the cushion cover . I had appiqued the rabbit but needed to add the flowers. I love the stitch on my new machine and I enjoyed finishing the applique. 

I quilted round the rabbit and the individual flowers. I also decided to quilt close to both sides of the lace. Now all I need to do is to trim the wadding and stitch the front to the back and generally finish off. That will be done first thing tomorrow morning once I've given the front a quick press as it's got rather creased being in my project box.  Unfortunately I have been working the last three days so time for working on this project has been very limited.

Next I went hunting through my stash. Last year I bought this fabric to make oven gloves for Kathryn. She loves cats so I knew it would be perfect. Unfortunately the oven gloves never got made.

To progress this project I need some heat resistant wadding and a quick search of the local shops via their websites and afew phone calls revealed non of them stock it.  So I logged into Amazon and found Insul-Bright insulated wadding available but unfortunately not on Prime. Anyway I ordered some and it will be delivered between the 17th and 20th November. I cut the fabric ready for stitching once the wadding arrives.

Since I was sewing Christmas presents I decided it was time to pull out my Christmas tree cross stitch. If only I could make myself keep stitching this throughout the year it would be finished but I can't. I'm hoping I will get it done this year but we shall see. Here's where I left off last year as far as the pictures I've posted on my blog show. I'm sure I've done more but it's in my fabric chest which currently has two heavy boxes on top. Actually I know I've done more as I've reached the next level of baubles on the tree. I'll post an up to date picture tomorrow once I've moved the boxes.

Did I hear you ask what's in the boxes? Well that's my last years Christmas present. It's a period dolls house and basement pack in 1 to 12 scale. I decided I wouldn't make it until we had all the decorating and work on our house finished. We are nearly there and I'm starting to get excited about my doll's house project which once it's built will need furniture and soft furnishings including mini quilts.Just so you know it isn't intended as a toy for when any future grandchildren may come visiting. This is a pure selfish indulgence on my part to build, decorate and furnish my own mini house in the correct period style. When I was a child I had a doll's house my father made me which was a scale model of the house we lived in. I loved making things for it but two of my cousins totally wrecked it. Each time they visited they would break another part of it. My father used to repair it for me but it took some of the pleasure away. In the end they were so jealous of it that they smashed it to bits. (That was the last time they came to visit us, from then on my parents insisted we visited them at their house)

Thinking about Christmas got me thinking about decorations. I know I want to make something new this year but haven't quite made up my mind what. I do like the Noel bunting in this month's issue of Today's Quilter but I will need to get some more christmas fabric as I used up all my supplies last year. Maybe a walk to my local quilt shop would be a good idea tomorrow.

For now I need to go and help John in the kitchen and then settle down to some hand stitching or knitting whilst watching one of the many programmes we have recorded recently.


Monday 7 November 2016

First you paint and then......

Two years ago this month we had our heating system totally redone and then the house was rewired folowed in January 2105 by a new kitchen. Since then we have been working on the house which is a 1880 London terrace. Following the rewire there was a lot of plasterwork to make good, the stairs needed work done on them and various other things to long to list. Since August we have been decorating the whole house. The only room any fancy wallpaper is being used is in our bedroom. Elsewhere I have used lining paper to prepare the walls prior to painting. The painting in the kitchen was completed in 2015 but between then and now work has been frantic so the decorating has taken a back seat. John has now reduced his work hours to two days a week and as a result the painting in the dining room is now finished and the main living room is well underway. We've actually reached the point where it's time to order the flooring. We still have paper to be put up in the hallway and lots of painting. We like to use gloss for the woodwork rather than the newer paints that allow you to wash your brushes in water. The gloss gives a tougher finish and looks fabulous but it does take longer as it needs two coats and you have to allow time for it to dry between coats. Any spare time during the day is spent doing some decorating which leaves evenings for stitching.

My slow stitching this week is continuing to work on my knitting. There is no point in posting a picture as I have only finished the ribbing on the front and from here up to the neck is stocking stitch so it would just look like the back. I realsied during the week that I had lost interest in knitting over the last couple of years. This was when I found a bag stuffed at the back of a cupboard that had this piece of knitting in it.

This is a cardigan I started for myself and I remember putting it away when we had the house rewired. I managed to forget all about it since then and it's only because I'm going through all the cupboards and repurposing or recycling items no longer needed that I found it. Although it has a pattern it is easy to do. I need to get John's jumpers knitted so I can work on this.

Kathy asked us what we use for light when we are slow stitching. For knitting the main room light is sufficient unless I'm doing a complicated pattern with very fine yarn. For embroidery of any sort I need a good light. I bought a new magnifing light at the stitching and knitting exhibition last month and this is so useful. 

Do you like the floor board? They will soon be gone with our new floor covering, which will also stop the draughts.

The light can also be used as a table top light or it has a big bulldog clip you can use to clip it to a worktop etc. I can now see my cross stitch perfectly even without the light switched on .....the only problem(s) are Scamp and Picasso. If either of them sit on my lap the stitching has to stop. 

Scamp wriggles around a lot to let you know he's not happy with the stitching arrangements but if I carry on he'll go and lie in his basket. Picasso is a differnt issue as he will grab the thread and try to chew it. The light is really useful for seeing the size of the machine needle when I have a multi size pack or other extremely small writing. Why do some manufacturers use such a small font?

I'm linking this post with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching I'm hoping next week the painting will be finished and I can sit in my armchair to do some cross stitch.


Saturday 5 November 2016

UFO's and a new project.

Last week I unpicked a half made jumper because I really hated the pattern and it was never going to get finished. I'm feeling much happier having started a Guernsey style jumper and I've already finished the back. Over the weekend I purged some of my smaller cross stitch patterns and took some to the charity shop. Having done all that, this morning I decided I'd better look at my quilt UFO's. 

The 'It's a dog's life' quilt had been sandwiched but it had got all munched up in my storage box so that will need a good press and re-make of the quilt sandwich so I can quilt it next month.

I love this quilt and had forgotten that I'd prepared it for quilting. I'd love to get this finished so I can hang it on the wall in my sewing room / visitors room.

I have a baby quilt all ready for quilting that I've never photographed. It's to go in the box for project Linus. Then there is the baby quilt I'm making from the mini nine patches. The top is almost finished 

I need to do some more work on Lucy's hexagon quilt. I'm making this by hand and it's very relaxing. I have an hour and a quarter journey to Reading twice a week now so I will have lots of stitching time.

I still hadn't reached the bottom of my storage box but Lucy arrived with Buddy as we had arranged to take the dogs out for a walk. The weather has gone cold with the temperature predicted to be a high of 8 degrees celsius and it looked overcast so we set off at once. We walked over Wimbledon Common and Putney Heath, where the trees are finally loosing their leaves.The dogs loved it, and Scamp did so much running that he was tired all afternoon.

After the walk I had some time to sew. This month I wanted to join Sharon at Vroomans Quilts for  her 'Let's book it' and this was a great time to get started on the project. The pattern I'm making is a cushion cover. The pattern and fabric to make it was in my fabric box in October.

Here's the picture from the pattern.

I soon had the front made and the lace attached. 

The next job was to cut out and applique the rabbit onto the front. I did this on the machine using a narrow satin stitch.

I had a bit of a headache at this point so stopped for a nap. I cut the flowers out and will attach them tomorrow. The back is partially made and it will all go together quite quickly. Once complete the cushion will go into my Christmas present box.

I have received this months goodies box. It's such fun having this arrive each month and so far I've loved the items in the box. This month it has 2 mini charm packs, a neutral fat quarter, 1inch hexagon templates, a table runner pattern and a needle threader (which also has a thread cutting blade in it.)

This evening I'm going to do some knitting as it is easy and I can do it whilst watching TV.

Today is Bonfire night in the UK. The day remembers the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 and the celebrating involves a lot of fireworks. Picasso loves them and sits and watches but Scamp is really frightened of them so this evening he will need lots of cuddles. Last weekend was Diwali and also involved fireworks so he's had a bit of a stressy time recently. Once the fireworks are finished this weekend there shouldn't be any more (or not many) until New Year.