Sunday, 16 July 2017

A Friday Finish

My Friday finish is a finish but not a quilting or sewing finish. My Friday finish was my last chemotherapy session. I've had 8 sessions in all, 7 of them at full dosage for my weight. For the last one the dosage was reduced to 90% as I've got neuropathy in my hands and feet (loss of feeling and at times hypersensitivity) as a side effect of the drugs I've received. This usually returns to normal over the next few months but I'll just have to be patient. Lucy and I celebrated the last session with tea and very tasty mini cup cakes will the drugs were infused. I've been very lucky as I have had too many side effects and I've been able to do most thing but at a slower pace. Stage 2, surgery is booked for the end of August after our Guide trip to Switzerland.

Over the last week I've been trying to get a little more organised, especially with my sewing and knitting projects. I made lists of all my projects I could remember and knew I wanted to complete and then I spent some time considering the order to work on them. My first decision was to work on John's jumper. He bought the yarn and pattern at the Stitching and Knitting exhibition last October but I've done very little knitting since the beginning of the year. I need to knit the second the second sleeve to be able to move this project on so on Tuesday evening I made a start. I'm still working on the increase rows but it is slowly growing. 

I found it easier knitting than working on the bag ladies. The stitching requires much finer hand movements. However I've been trying to complete bits on the three of the ladies. Mildred has moved forward this week, but only a little. I finished her scarf and gave her little french knots bubble curls.

I'm still not sure how to make her mouth look a little better. I've started on Beulah's hair and also her pink tot bag. I really want to work on the flowers but want to finish her hair fist.

I then put my bag with these two pieces down and couldn't remember where it was so I pulled out Ernestine and made a start on her hair.

Not much left to do on Ernestine. I'm looking forward to stitching the little dog.

I also stitched up some small bags to turn into bean bags for Brownies. I just need to buy some lentils to fill them.

Tomorrow I want to try and cut out some of the pieces to make the flying geese for my compass quilt. A couple of days after chemo my hands are a bit shaky so it will depend if I feel safe enough to use the rotary cutter. If not I do a little more knitting. At least the weather has cooled down a bit so it is reasonably comfortable to do the knitting.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Piggy Bank savings reveal.

Val's Quilting Studio

Last year and this year I joined in with Val's Piggy Bank Challenge  This is a very simple challenge. First identify a piggy bank. My piggy bank has been around in the family for a number of years, so long I've actually forgotten which of our three children it originally belonged to. Anyway Piggy wasn't being used and so was perfect for the challenge.

Fortunately Piggy has a rubber bung in the base so you can get the money out, unlike several china pigs I've seen where you have to smash the pig to get the money.

Step 2 is to save change over the year to buy quilting supplies. Piggy was quite full when I emptied him with a total of £247. There was a few odd pence and these have been put back into Piggy to start this years collection. My saving hasn't been consistent as some weeks I remember to drop any change into pig but then I'll go for a few weeks where I save nothing. That makes the total even more welcome and it will be spent on quilting.

I want to make this quilt which was featured in Today's Quilter.

I've more or less made my decisions about the colour palette I want to use so now I just need to buy the fabric. Thanks to Piggy I have the cash to buy what I need for the project plus whatever else catches my eye. Now all I need to do is organise my trip to a quilt shop or more likely several quilt shops to get exactly what I want.  

This challenge has worked in so many ways. First saving my change for quilting supplies means I don't give in to the temptation of a chocolate bar so the waistline doesn't suffer. Then I had the fun of counting the cash and being very pleasantly surprised at how much there was and finally the fun of shopping for the supplies to look forward to in the next couple of weeks. I shall be linking with Val for her 5th annual piggy bank challenge over the coming year.

I'm linking this post with Val for her end of challenge reveal.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Sitting stitching and thinking.

I am sitting cuddled up with Scamp on a sunny Wednesday morning here in London. Every so often Scamp has a little snore, a gentle little snore you understand, one that makes you go ahhh you're so cute. The settee we're curled up on is in front of a window that faces south and my head is enjoying the warmth of the sun without me having to worry about smothering the soft fluffy hair that is starting to grow with sun screen. I'm not working today and although I have things related to work that I'm going to do there is no need to start yet. John has already left for work and Lucy and Richard are enjoying a lazy morning so Scamp and I are enjoying a little us time.

Here we are already at the start of the second half of the year. I know every year seems to go by so fast as you get older but this one has just whizzed by and I'm not sure there's been much time just to sit and enjoy a little quiet time. I'm enjoying the fact that this week I have no doctors appointments, there has been far too many of them up to now. 

My stitching is sitting in my lap. I've made a start on Mildred who is this month's bag lady. It is only a little start. As you can see I've done a little stitching on her scarf. 

I thought this time I'd start work on Mildred from her head down. Her mouth doesn't look right and instead of leaving this tricky bit till last I'm going to do it first. How about that as a bold way to start the second half of the year? Whilst stroking Scamp's soft and fluffy ears I realised I've cruised a little this year, putting off the difficult stuff and getting on with the easy bits. My family tell me that's not true, after all I've got on with Chemotherapy and carried on a normal as far as possible, but there isn't really a choice in that when all's said and done. No I was thinking more in terms of my hobbies and in particular quilting and stitching. I have packed away the projects that are a little tricky and worked on the easier ones but I think the time has come to start challenging myself again.

I set myself a small challenge last month which was to finish making my tote bag but I didn't manage that. In fact I didn't work on it at all, not a single stitch. So when I pulled it out yesterday I asked myself why?  The answer I got back was 'the instructions are too difficult to understand and the writings small'.

The writing is quite small and the pages look pretty stuffed full with information but the actual instructions are easy to follow (once I read them). At the point I left the tote I had quilted it and stitched the side seams. So yesterday I did the bottom seam and stitched the corners to make the base. This means it will stand up on its own. I did an all over meander for the quilting including going across the black base. I love the way the quilting stands out on the base and blends into the background on the green.

I've made a start on the lining, cut the handles and made the pieces for the snap fastenings to attach to. The only thing new to me from all that is the use of the magnetic snap fasteners and that was easy.

I din't finish Beulah last month but I did quite well. My main problem was I kept putting off doing her face and hair. Her face looks a little scary or grumpy and she needs to be a little happier but towards the end of the month I did less and less stitching on her as it got nearer to having to stitch her face. This is how far I got with her, Just her 'let's quilt' bag and her head, oh and I forgot her legs and shoes.

Normally I'd put her away and only work on her this month if I finish Mildred but I am going to make time this weekend to try and complete her.

Not only have I been stroking Scamp whilst sitting here I've also been stroking fabric. I have a small subscription treat box which is delivered around the 4th of each month. It arrived yesterday and I love the fabric that was in it.

There is always beautiful fabric in the box but apart from the box with the tote fabric and pattern I haven't done anything with the contents of the boxes (except stroking) so far this year. The tear shaped box on the blue fabric is a magnetic needle keeper that also has a needle threader in it. That will be a great help with keeping my spare needles to hand.

I just had to take time out to tickle Scamp's little tummy. He went to the groomers on Saturday and he looks so cute with his short summer cut. He is really enjoying his 'us' time cuddle and every so often taps my arm with his paw to say 'more tickles please'.

Thinking and cuddling with Scamp has been good. I have identified that in making sure that my students didn't suffer as a result of the disruption my treatment has had on my teaching commitments I've actually lost quite a bit of 'me' time and that the things I do to relax, unwind and generally rejuvenate myself have been lacking recently. Life is about balance and I need to get the balance back.  I'm not expecting to get it right immediately but I'm going to make small changes to give myself more time.

I've also been thinking for some time of going through all my projects. Some are newish but many have been hanging around for a while. Some projects are old friends and although they are taking a long time they will get done eventually and it's enjoyable to go back and work on the periodically. However there are some that I feel I will never finish as my heart isn't really in them and then I may pass them on to friends who want them, or horror of horrors just get rid of them.

Hopefully (I can't guarantee) there will be more sewing, stitching, knitting and cooking over the coming months. 


Monday, 26 June 2017

A up and down sort of a day.

Yesterday was a very odd day. The best part of it was that the high temperature had fallen and so the heat was much more manageable. The very high temperature have caused a few problems as most houses in the UK don't have air conditioning. To be honesty it is only in recent years that the temperatures have gone so high and even now it generally only lasts for a few days. We are very lucky in that our house tends to stay cool inside in the summer and holds the warmth in the winter. By yesterday evening it began to rain and I got caught in a heavy shower when I ventured out to get some groceries I had forgotten. That didn't affect the temperature and by the time I got home I was dry again.

John woke up with quite a bit of discomfort in his hand and so took some pain killers. A little later he started vomiting, which lasted most of the day.We aren't sure if it was the drugs or if he'd caught a bug, but we are both being extra careful with hand washing since I only had my chemo on Friday. John's feeling much better and has already started grumbling about how little you can do with your dominant hand splinted and bandaged.

In the afternoon Katy came over, as she likes to check out I'm OK after treatment. She finished her teaching course this week and has qualified teacher status but has to wait for the results of her PGCE as they haven't gone through the exam board yet. We went for a walk round the town as she is looking for a dress to wear to a wedding on Saturday. Once we'd completed that we dropped into one of the charity shops. I want to alter some of my clothes that I can't bear to throw out but I want to practise on something else first. I didn't find anything suitable for that but come across two new tops, still with their original shop labels. I'd looked at them last year but they didn't have my size. I decided it was just meant to be and bought both since they were my size, and at a much reduced cost than I would have paid then. I do still need to find some pieces so I can practise my alterations.

I've washed the shirt but it needs a good iron. It will be fine for work which is what I wanted it for. Although we stopped using chalk boards years ago there are still the white board pens to mess up your clothes.  I didn't do a picture of the other top as it is just plain red with a V neck and 3/4 sleeves.

Some slow stitching got done on Beulah but not very much. I've finished the yellow tote and just have to stitch the word crackers to complete the grocery bag.  Next I'm moving on to the pink tote. I'm putting off doing her hair and face. I'm hoping to make her look a little happier. when I get there.

I'm linking this post with Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Stitching Sunday I'm going to see what everyone else has been working on this weekend.


Friday, 23 June 2017

Playing catch up again.

I seem to have fallen off the side of a mountain under an avalanche of work and so sewing and other hobbies has been on hold. I last wrote a post on the 6th of June and since then life has been one long rush. Add in the election results on the 9th and the huge fire in London plus ridiculously high temperatures that I just find overwhelming and life has felt very uncomfortable. Can I get political, is it allowed on my blog? The election wouldn't have been so bad if the PM, (can you really be PM if you're not the leader of a party with a majority and currently have no real support) wouldn't insist on having it all her own way and carrying gaily as she was before the election, whilst saying it's what the people voted for. Grrrrr.  Anyway sorry about that, at least it made me feel better. The tower fire was awful and now they've found a lot of other tower blocks have the same cladding on them. The tower I work in has cladding but don't know if it's the same type. I'll ask that question on Monday when I'm next in the building.

The main problem stopping me sewing has been marking. It's got so bad I even dream I'm busy marking. Today I had my penultimate chemotherapy treatment and I rewarded myself with some stitching on Beulah. Last time I stitched I had got this far.

By the time my eyes were feeling blurry with concentrating on the stitches I had moved forward a fair bit.

When I first look at each of these ladies at the beginning of the month I'm not always sure I love them. As I start stitching they come alive and by the time I finish them I can't believe I doubted how they would turn out. Beulah herself is also looking happier as I get more of her finished. Still a long way to go on this one and the month has only one more week to run.

I set myself a monthly goal of completing my new tote bag. To date there has been no progress on this. On a more positive note I have a week and it really doesn't need a lot of work to be done on it. I hope to set up my machine tomorrow as I am trying to have a more restful weekend so that I don't end up feeling wobbly on Monday as I have done after the last two doses. Sewing versus taking the dog for a long walk or getting some ironing done certainly sounds more restful.

Last weekend we were away on camp. Lucy was taking her camp license, just in case something happens and I can't go to Switzerland in August. It meant we had visitors to the camp who were assessing her organisation and management but she passed easily and we heaved a sigh of relief. The weather was amazing. We always camp on the woody sites as these offer a lot of shade and I was really grateful for it. The two open field were very hot even just to walk across let alone camp there. The girls loved the twin zip wires and the quick drop, which is supposed to be like stepping out of an air plane. I didn't do either as I felt I needed to ensure I didn't break anything.

Since I last wrote I received a really cute present in the post. Barbara from Cat Patches is running the bag ladies embroidery as a sew along and each month randomly picks someone who has taken part to win a prize. The fun bit with getting a prize is you just have to have worked on the bag lady not completed her. My prize is this cute needle threader. It's perfect for threading my embroidery needle and that's most helpful as I can't always see to thread the needle without it.

Thank you Barbara.

Today John had surgery on his hand under local block. He had his Dupuytren's contracture released. This is when cords of shortened connective tissue prevent you from fully extending your finger. Lucy and I picked John up from the Day unit on our way back from my chemo session. Lucy had a great time making jokes about the 'oldies' and having to look after them but when we got home I made the coffee! John's finding his hand a little painful but the analgesics are working. As it's his dominant hand and all bandaged up he needs help with everyday things. He's got to go back to see the surgeon on Monday and hopefully the bandage may be removed or at least some of it.

Anyway as it's been a slightly stressful day I'm going to head to bed. I'm hoping tonight is a little cooler as I could do with a good sleep. Tomorrow I must catch up with some blog reading as I've no idea what's been going on in blog land. Hopefully only nice and happy things.


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

One Monthly Goal

Last year I joined in with one monthly goal but this year I have let it slip. I found setting one goal a month helped me to move my projects forward and that of course meant I could start new projects as I finished up old ones. I've always loved starting new projects and in the past I didn't worry too much about the number of UFO's I had on the go but I'm a little more careful now. The main reason for this is the lack of storage space. I really don't have anywhere to store half finished projects. I have a wooden chest that has my overlocker sewing machine (serger) stored in it plus several projects and scraps. This helps keep some of my sewing under control but I then have to put other projects into any available space. This means I sometimes forget all about them plus it's hard to keep track of what you have to work on. I had planned to turn the one bedroom into a guest cum sewing room but them younger daughter moved back home, so that plan has been put on hold for the time being.

Now I have two new projects I want to start. I showed you some pictures of the one quilt but the other one is slowly coming together in my head. My younger brother has recently moved into a canal boat and I want to make him a boat themed quilt. In order to start these I need to finish up some items. I have a couple of things that need to move along but I've opted for the smallest project to finish this month as this should be easy to do whilst giving me the satisfaction of a finish. My goal is to finish my tote bag. I've done the quilting and stitched the side seams but there is still quite a bit to do as it is lined and has inner pockets. I haven't taken a picture recently so here is an old one of the fabric and pattern.

I'm linking this post with Elm Street Quilts for the June One monthly goal link up I've got some time to work on this goal at the weekend.


Sunday, 4 June 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

After all the sewing, ironing and partying of yesterday, today has been a very slow day. I didn't sleep well last night and was awake after a fitful four hours sleep. There was no point in getting up and trying to do some sewing or work as this is how my Sunday after my chemo usually starts. Instead I made a cup of tea and played a couple of games on my phone and read a little. This eventually helped me doze off for another hour and a half at which point the world was starting to wake. Sundays are a slow day in our house and nearly always involves taking Scamp for a morning walk. This morning as we set off for the walk I called my older daughter Katy as I knew she and her boyfriend Olly had been working in Borough Market yesterday and may have stayed into the evening having met up with friends. I stopped myself phoning on Saturday night after I found out about the terrorist attack as by that time they were most likely asleep and I didn't want to wake them. They had been home when it happened but did have friends who were in one of the pubs in the area. Richard is also waiting to hear that all the people he used to work with and knew in the area are safe. 

Our walk over the common with Scamp proceeded at a much slower pace than some days but was very enjoyable. Scamp loves his walks and today even enjoyed a little paddle in the pond. By the time we got home it was lunch time after which I settled down to answer some emails. Well try to answer emails really as I kept dozing off. Scamp made himself comfortable on my lap and we enjoyed a companionable nap.

I had planned to start work on Beulah today. Barbara from Cat Patches commented that she found Beulah a little scary and I agree. She also looks rather sad.

Eventually about 6 p.m. I managed to make a start on the stitching. I started with her dress but haven't got very far yet. I will continue with a little more stitching once I've finished this post.

I want to try and make Beulah less scary and a little happier as I stitch her. I'm not sure how to do this but I'll get some ideas as I work on her.

Whilst stitching I was trying to work out my plan for completing the next border on my compass quilt. For the border I need to make 80 flying geese and four cornerstones. I have to plan the fabric as half have be dark at the middle and the other half light. They are then placed alternately light and dark around the border. There is also the need to share the fabrics out for colour and pattern around the four sides. I'm not sure if I'm over thinking this or just be ensuring the finished quilt looks good. I also want to decide my one monthly goal for June but I'm not sure I've got time for the flying geese to be that goal. All this thinking on a Sunday evening is just too much. Maybe I'll just make another cup of tea.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching or in my case extremely slow Sunday stitching. Do go and visit and see what everyone has been working on.


A great day sewing and a party

Saturday was my idea of a perfect day. I spent the day sewing but along the way I got a lot of household chores done including attacking the ironing mountain and then in the evening we went to our friend's birthday party. Agnes was celebrating her 60 birthday.

When I woke up I had a few aches and pains from the drug but nothing that some Paracetamol couldn't deal with so by 9:30 I had my cutting board set up and a new blade in my rotary cutter and I made a start on trimming the star blocks. Having remembered where my square ruler was made this process much easier. You just have to love all the rulers that make life so much easier for quilters. I really think I need to invest in some more.

Trimming done the next stage was to decide how to arrange the star blocks for the four sides. Even this took much less time than I had anticipated so I set up my machine and was soon stitching the stars together. I did the borders one at a time so I could check that I was completely happy with how they looked. I had to unpick 4 seams and 2 of them twice as I had stitched over the points. In the end I was happy with nearly all of them and will trust the quilting to sort out the couple that I just couldn't get right. As I pressed the seams I played my game of ironing so many items for so many seams and once again I ended up with my star borders ready to attach to the middle part of the quilt and a neat pile of ironing. In between sewing I did several other jobs including making celeriac and mature cheddar soup for lunch. You can find the recipe here

In the afternoon I added both the star border, (border 2) and the narrow green border (border 3).  It was difficult to get a good photo. As you can see this is going to be a big quilt. I can't remember its completed size but I still have 2 more borders to add.

I was happy with how the star points looked. They all matched pretty well where they had been joined together to form the border and when I joined then into the quilt.

The fabric is a terror for shedding threads so I've got a lot of loose threads to remove at some point. The green fabric used for the outside border isn't so bad. When I saw this pattern in Today's Quilter I liked the fabrics but wasn't completely sure. In person I really like the way they look.

I had hoped to make a start on stitching Beulah but as I sew on the dining table I have to tidy everything away and then I needed to prepare food for Richard. By then it was time to get ready to go to Agnes' party so no hand stitching got done yesterday.

The party was to celebrate Agnes' 60 birthday and it was themed around rock and roll. There was also a sit down dinner. The party was in our church hall and as is often the case with churches there were a lot more women present than men. 

I forgot to take my camera but did have my phone. Unfortunately I couldn't take many photos as it didn't have a lot of battery. I only usually need to charge it every two days and tend to forget to check if I'll have enough power to take photos. Never mind I had enough power to take a photo of Agnes with her cake.

The cake was beautifully decorated and tasted fabulous. The food was very tasty - curry mmm my favourite, the company was great and the music all from my teenage and early adult era. A good time was had by all. I remembered to check with my oncologist if it was OK to drink with this new drug and the answer was yes so I enjoyed a glass of Processco to toast Agnes.

This morning I'm about to take Scamp for a walk and when I get back I must do some marking but later today I have earmarked for my hand stitching time.


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Stars all finished

This morning I had treatment number 6. Just 2 left to go. Because the treatment has worked so well I could have stopped after this one but I'd rather do all the 8 that were planned since I haven't had too many problems. Anyway the treatment was over by 1 p.m. and once home I decided to finish up the star blocks for the compass quilt. I also had a huge pile of ironing staring at me in the kitchen so I played my game of pressing the seams and ironing two items each time. By the end of the afternoon I had completed my blocks and had a small neat pile of ironing. A win win situation.  Here are my final 3 blocks.


Tomorrow morning John is going to a safeguarding training to do with our church so I have some time to myself. My plan is to trim all the blocks and the 4 small compass blocks which form the cornerstones for this border. If all goes well I may even start stitching the border together. Before I do that I'll need to decide the layout of the blocks and that could take some time. I also want to do some work on the tote bag.

The post had been delivered while I was out this morning and so had my treat box. This month this is what it contains.

The charm pack is True Blue by Zen Chic and there is a 50 cm cut of white bleached from Moda Bella Solids. The Bramble Patch where I get my treat box from has just started stocking the full range of DMC embroidery threads. My thread is one I needed to complete a project - I wonder how they knew that? There is also a cushion and quilt pattern that both use the charm pack. However I don't have any plans to make either of these at the moment.

Yesterday I told you I had another quilt I wanted to make and today I remembered to take a photo of it. It is from my latest Today's Quilter magazine and is designed and made by Mandy Shaw.

Here is some of the detail of the appliques.

I quite like the quilt in the more muted colours but I do love bright and vibrant colours so at present I'm considering what fabrics to use. Hopefully my deliberations and the time it will take to find the fabrics I want will give me sufficient time to complete the top for the compass quilt.

Today parts of London had torrential rain but here in Tooting we were lucky. It rained and there was some thunder but nothing unusual and no heavy downpours. What it has done is reduce the temperature so I'm hoping that tomorrow it will be cool enough to do some knitting.


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Can I fit some sewing in?

I'm loving being on holiday and getting chores up to date but also having a little time for sewing. Today was also my clinic appointment and I needed to get bloods taken before my treatment tomorrow so two trips to the hospital. We live a short walk from the hospital and I go early to get the bloods done so the results are back for the clinic. Then a little later another short walk for the main appointment. Once that was all done John and I took Scamp for a walk to the common. It is very hot here in London and the humidity is high which made for a sticky walk so we took it very slowly. 

Between having my bloods done and my clinic appointment I cut the pieces for two more star blocks. It would have been more but John went and got some croissants and made french style coffee. We sat in the garden enjoying our breakfast listening to the gently humming from the bees. Three large bumble bees were enjoying the flowers on the spiraea. I didn't have my camera or phone with me so had to take a photo later and couldn't get the lone bee as it wouldn't keep still.

The spiraea is beneath our bird feeders and parts of it ends up covered in seeds and seed husks that are dropped and also bird poo. The pigeons love the smaller birds dropping the seeds and gather under the feeders making a lot of noise. That sends Scamp into a cadenza and he rushes outside to shoo them away.

In the corner of the garden is this tangle of leaves which is our crab apple tree. The Jack Marni clematis  has grown up and through the branches. It looked amazing when it was in flower earlier this year

You can see some of the apples towards the top of the picture. The tree is covered with fruit but they aren't very big yet  so hide among the leaves. There will be enough this year to make some crab apple jelly or other recipes.

When we came back from our walk with Scamp I made up the two star blocks I already cut out,

and then I prepared a further block and sewed it together. 

I now have 17 blocks so just three more to complete the border. I will have to trim them all before I stitch them together and I need to trim the four small compass blocks that are used as the cornerstones for this border. Border three is a thin green border that I've already cut and joined the strips together. Maybe I have time to finish border 2 and border 3 by the end of the weekend.

This evening I plan on starting work on Beulah the June bag lady. Barbara from Cat Patches is running a stitch along over 2017. There are 12 bag ladies so each month you stitch a different bag lady. There is a link up party at the beginning of each month and there is a prize for the person whose link up is chosen. You don't have to finish the embroidery, just made a start. It's fun to see everyone's lady and how they have personalised her. If you haven't read Barbara's blog before you are in for a treat as it is an eclectic mix of quilting, stitching, cats, trips, flowers, eating and cooking food and much more.

I am linking up Hildegard, the May bag lady to Barbara's show and tell party. I'm really please with how she turned out.

If the weather was a little cooler I would do some knitting as I want to finish John's jumper. Unfortunately the humidity is very high here and just holding the knitting needles becomes uncomfortable after a couple of rows. Yesterday when I was browsing the yarns in John Lewis in Reading I got talking to a lady who insisted it is never too hot to knit. I used to follow Lynn's blog from Australia of the same name but she hasn't posted for ages. I hope she's OK and that life is being kind to her and her family.  For me I find winter a much better time to be knitting.

Tomorrow is my treatment day. The new drug takes less time so I should be finished by 1:30 and then the plan is to watch a film. Katy my older daughter is coming over in the afternoon and she has suggested 'How to make an American quilt' as she hasn't seen it for ages. Sounds perfect with lots of tea, biscuits or maybe some cup cakes and some hand stitching. I'll probably just stitch some more badges on my camp blanket as the stitches don't show so it doesn't matter that I often shake a little after treatment which makes the stitches wonky. There is also a be prepared weather warning for torrential rain in our area tomorrow so a good day to stay in doors. 

Finally I have found another quilt pattern that I want to make. It will make a perfect baby quilt. I don't know anyone having a baby at present but several of my old friends from my nurse training have children who have got married recently so it's always a possibility in the not too distant future. It will not be a quick quilt to make as it has applique and piecing. I'll take a picture tomorrow to show you.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Friends and stitching.

Today I'd agreed to meet up with Karen, since we haven't seen each other for a while. Karen, worked in the same place as me and we were friends and then a few years ago she became my boss. That worked well as neither of us took advantage of the other plus we also helped each other out as needed. Coming up two years ago she changed jobs and now we have to plan our meeting up. This is often difficult to do as we both have busy jobs and family commitments. Having agreed to meet at a set time Karen got delayed at work so we ended up spending just a couple of hours in a coffee shop chatting. My friend Karen is on the left in the photo. The picture was taken at the graduation ceremony in July 2015. I love the opportunity to dress up in the hood and gown.

The last couple of days I've been working away on Ernestine. I haven't quite finished her but I've decided I'll put her away at the end of this evening so I can concentrate on Beulah, who is the bag lady for June.

I'll make a start on Beulah tomorrow.  I still have Ernestine's hair, face and dog to do but I don't think I have time to finish her this month.

Tomorrow I have to do some marking and I also have blood tests and a clinic appointment before my treatment on Friday. I'm hoping to make time to to sew a couple more star blocks as I want to complete the star border this weekend if possible. John is busy on Saturday so I shall be on my own and I've planned a very slow day with some gentle sewing so I can move the compass quilt forward.


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A busy Monday.

Yesterday was supposed to be a sewing day. A day when me and my machine were reunited for some serous fabric playtime. Then I looked around the house and realised I wouldn't settle to sewing until I'd done some cleaning, and laundry. With the laundry my role is to feed the washing machine and then hang it all on the line. Lucy, bless her does the ironing. This is really helpful as I've never mastered the art of ironing sitting down and standing these days is rather tiring. Lucy sets something to watch on her laptop and just ploughs through the shirts and dresses. We've removed all unnecessary ironing from the process but there always seems to be something lurking in the bottom of the ironing basket.

I also seriously needed to vacuum. We were only away for one night but Picasso seems to have slept on every chair leaving a dark haze of cat fur over them.  He usually loses his winter coat quite quickly but this year it has been quite drawn out, probably due to the temperature fluctuating from hot to cold and back again. He also only likes being groomed in short bursts and then he's gone.

John also wanted to plant up some pots to put outside our french windows. We had bought the plants before we went away but hadn't had a chance to plant them. They looked good when he had finished.

A mixture of Geraniums, petunias, begonias, fuchsias and lobelia.

So this morning when I got up I was adamant I was getting some sewing done today. First however we took Scamp for a walk over the common. Then at last it was time to sew. I didn't get much done, four blocks in all, but it all helps move the project forward

The blocks are for my Mariner's Compass quilt that I started in January. I need twenty star blocks in all and I now have 14. Just another 6 to make and then I can trim them and stitch them together.

Tomorrow I'll try and get another couple done but I might not as I'm planning on spending a little time with Karen, one of my friends. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have all 20 made.

This evening I continued to work on Ernestine. Not much left to do on her now. I need to do her hair and face and her little dog. I only have until Wednesday before I put her away to start on the June bag lady or maybe I'll just finish her up and then move on to the next one. 


Monday, 29 May 2017

A visit to Standen

In yesterday's post I told you about our walk on Saturday. On Sunday we were wide awake at 6 am so after a couple of cups of tea John decided to go for an early morning walk leaving me to do some stitching. Sitting by the open window with the morning sun streaming in, and listening to the bird song whilst stitching was most enjoyable. On his walk John had taken a photo of the village sign. When we got home we had to look up the village history as the sign made it look a bustling industrial area rather than the sleepy village it is today. Back in the 16th century there were 5 iron furnaces within 2 miles of the church, which was opposite the hotel.

The village is old with its church being founded in 1100 and the present nave and tower being built between 1375 and 1415. John took a picture of the rose window. The yellow and red on either side are the bunting that was hanging from the trees in front of the church in preparation for the village fair today, Bank Holiday Monday.

When John got back we went for breakfast. Mmmm the Eggs Benedict was delicious. Whilst enjoying breakfast we planned our day. Saturday was rather tiring for me as the walk had involved several steep ascents and descents. We had stopped regularly to rest, but for Sunday we wanted something less challenging but fun. We also wanted to visit the A A Milne memorial in the forest and John wanted to walk to the highest point of area. Neither of these involved much walking as the map indicated that there were car parks close to both. Breakfast over, our belongings packed in the car and a good dollop of sun screen generously applied to all skin that was showing we headed for the first stopping place.

The map was accurate and within a short distance of the first car park we reached the 360 degree viewing point. Over the years the gorse and small trees have grown up so I couldn't get the whole 360 view but I made use of the broken topograph to increase my height and so get a better view. I managed to climb up without difficulty but as I stood up I'd felt a little giddy but the view was worth it.

There was still a lot of fog around as the sun hadn't burnt it off so the view wasn't as clear as I had hoped but it was still good. After that we drove a little further to the next car park so we could walk a short distance to the memorial.

From the memorial there were views across the landscape.

From here we walked a little further to the triangulation or trig point. These are usually concrete pillars and were set up by the ordnance survey to be able to map the whole of the UK. If you want to find out how this was done click here

Trig points are not necessarily at the highest point as clear line of sight was important. As you can see the highest ground is behind the trig point and was a covered with trees. I'd watched some children playing hide and seek amongst the tree as we'd walked up so decided to hide from John. In the end I had to peep round the tree for him to find me.

After all the excited of hide and seek we headed out to our final destination of the day Standen House. Standen is now owned by the National Trust and you can find out more about it here  This is the view of Standen that we took later in the afternoon as we complete the Hollybush Wood walk. I didn't get a photo of the house from the terrace.

The house was built between 1892-94 for a prosperous London solicitor, James Beale. It was designed by Philip Webb, an English architect who is sometimes referred to as the father of Arts and Crafts Architecture. Webb was a friend of William Morris and the house is decorated throughout with Morris carpets, wallpapers and fabrics. I love William Morris designs so this was a real feast for my eyes. The main entrance to the house was through a courtyard.

Throughout the house there was embroidery with a lot of it having been completed by Margaret, James' wife and their three daughters. The house would have been a lively place as they also had 4 sons. Some of the cushions were made using kits put together by Morris and Co so that ladies could stitch their designs. I love the sewing table, perfect for threads and your latest project.

To the left of this room above there was a wall hanging that I couldn't get a good picture of. The colours were very faded and this area of the room was protected from the light. One of the volunteers at the house had stitched this small sampler of the hanging to show the original colours

I loved this blue bedspread but it must have taken ages to stitch.

In the same bedroom was this beautiful hand embroidered cushion. You can see the sensor in the bottom right corner to make sure that the fabric didn't get damaged by light.

In the dressing room next day this piece was behind glass. The colours have faded but the hand work was beautiful when viewed close up. 

This heavily embroidered bedspread was delightful.

and I liked the sentiment on this piece. 

This last piece was a set of seat covers for the dining chairs and the volunteer giving information in this room told me they were stitched by Margaret and her daughters.

As we reached the work end of the house i.e. the business room and the kitchen I spotted this writing desk and fell in love with it. There was a large desk in the room but the grain on the wood of this one was beautiful and I love the drawers and little cupboards. It would fit perfectly into my home.

After our tour of the house we needed lunch so visited the cafe for pea, mint and lettuce soup served with a wedge of homemade bread. It was very tasty and filling. After lunch we explored the gardens and also took a walk along Hollybush Wood walk. As we headed out to the wood we passed the Rhododendrons which were a riot of colour

The wood walk was about a mile long and under the trees it was lovely and cool. For most of the walk there was a boardwalk which made the going very easy. Standen is built at the top of a hill and the first part of the walk descended into the valley. The walk had been thought out well and the ascent back up to the house was very gentle. Along the way we encountered this lizard coming out of the undergrowth. It was a very clever and creative use of a fallen tree.

As we came out of the wood we entered a wild flower meadow to head back to the house. There was a lot of buzzing from all the bees.

Our day at Standen ended by visiting the gift shop. From about end of May onward I am always on the lookout for small gifts to put into my Christmas present box. I found two very nice recipe books that are perfect. Obviously I can't say what they are or who they will be gifted to as that would ruin the surprise for the end of the year.

For our trip away we hadn't travelled far, and Standen was on our way home so our return journey was just over the hour. We could have done the trips as two days out but staying overnight meant we relaxed completely on Saturday night and weren't tempted to do any work. I really enjoyed the trip and I'm already trying to plan when we can do it again and where we'd visit.

Today in the UK is a Bank Holiday and I'm looking forward to spending some of this afternoon sewing. I want to finish my tote bag and I have some blocks I want to make. I can't wait to get my machine out.