Saturday 30 December 2017

Curtains and a visit

I really wanted to have a finish of some kind before the end of the year and I decided the best option was to make the curtains for the french windows in our dinning room. This window is tall and narrow. It's tall because it has the added window above the doors. This is fabulous during the summer as the room is flooded in light but even though the windows are double glazed, the extra glass can drop the temperature when it's very cold outside.

That boxes and fabric in the right bottom corner is where my sewing box got moved to so the Christmas tree could be put up. The boxes hold my doll's house and once the tree goes down we'll buy the table that the house will stand on. The sewing box which is a large wooden box will go upstairs and there is a cupboard being built into this corner that will house my fabrics.

I had already cut the lengths of fabric for the curtains but hadn't done any sewing on them so yesterday morning I got them out, pinned and then stitched the lining to the curtain fabric. I also added the header tape. At this point we decided to head out to see an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. That left me the hems to do later in the day.

The exhibition was of Tove Jansson's work. Jansson was a Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator and comic strip author.  She was born in August 1914 and studied art from 1930 to 1938 in Stockholm, Helsinki and Paris. In 1945 she started writing the Moomin books for children. She wrote 9 Moomin books and it was the second of these books that made her famous. The exhibition covered aspects of all her work but quite a lot of space was given to the illustrations for the moomin books and cartoon strips. Our children, particularly Richard had enjoyed the moomin stories when he was a child and we'd wanted to see more of her work as a result.

Although you can take photos in the permanent  collection of the gallery, this was not allowed in the exhibition so I found this picture of Tove Jansson taken from her biography written by Kate Macdonald on google. You can read more about her here We really enjoyed the exhibition even though it was very crowded.

After the gallery we stopped at a cafe for a toasted ham and cheese sandwich before taking a walk through Dulwich park. The wind was bitter and the weather couldn't make up its mind to rain or be sunny but it was good to be out in the fresh air.

I'm not sure how the rest of the day panned out but I didn't get back to my curtains. Later in the evening I was sorting out my scrapbook, adding a few bits and trying to finish up 2017 before putting in a title page for 2018. It was slow work as I decided to watch 'Maigret' which I had recorded from Christmas day. I love the freedom to record programmes you want to see so you can give your full attention to visitors. As a child I hated visitors as we'd miss the programmes we's looked forward to watching since the TV didn't get turned on and of course there was no repeats or recording the programmes.

This morning I had a few jobs to do including posting my thank you cards. Lucy and I received a lot of gifts from the girls at Brownies and Guides and it took a while to write and thank them. 

There was also some household chores but then I was free to get back to the curtains. having pulled up the header tape I hung them so I could do the hems.

I'm not sure why it looks as if there is a mark in the middle of them just up from the chair as there isn't. Hem done I took them down and tweaked the header tape to make it fit better, sorted the pleats and pressed the curtains. Finally the curtains are up and looking good. Great job and an end of the year finish, yippee.

I also received another present today. Lucy had ordered this journal but it hadn't arrived in time for Christmas. I am looking forward to using this in the new year.

This evening I plan to work on my hand stitching and work out my objectives for next year but for now I need to go and cook dinner. 


Friday 29 December 2017

A review of 2017

Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs is holding a Best of 2017 Linky Party. To take part you simply write a post about your 'best' 5 posts of 2017. 

My most viewed post was in September when I finished my Mariner's Compass quilt top. The kit for this quilt was a Christmas present from John. You can read the post here I love this quilt which is now sandwiched and waiting to be quilted.

My second post received the most comments and was a post for the Quazy Quilt Queen's blog hop organised by Marian at Seams to be Sew. You can read the post here For this hop we could show our sewing room or how we organise our fabrics. There was no pressure to make anything new. I work at the dining room table and lots of people commented that they do the same.

This year I've been taking part in the Bag Lady stitch along organised by Barbara from Cat Patches. Each month there has been a different bag lady to stitch. This has been such fun to join in with and in September I showed the three ladies  I'd completed. You can see all three Here. I'm still working on the other 9 ladies but I will have them all finished next year.

I like posting about our walks and hikes. In October 2016 John, Lucy and I began walking the Capital Ring. John and I had completed it before but Lucy wanted to do it and we didn't mind doing it again. This year we didn't get very far with it but in November we picked up the walking again. I love posting about our walks and I always get comments from people enjoying seeing the countryside or the history of the area. On this walk we came across Mr Toad and you can read about it Here

So far I've told you about 4 of my favourite posts. My last favourite or 'best' of 2017 isn't an individual post but you, my readers. As those of you who follow my blog will know I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January. Over the year you have all been extremely supportive and encouraging. I have treasured all your comments and they helped me during the treatment, giving me the strength I needed to get through it. Thank you so much, you made a huge difference and you really are 'the best'. At the end of November I was signed off by the doctors as cancer free and fit and well and will now have regular check ups. I agreed to do an aspirin trial and that means I will be seen every 3 months for the first year and then 6 monthly for 5 years.

Why not visit Cheryl's blog to see what everyone else has posted for the best of 2017. You can click Here or use the button on the side bar.

I'm now planning my goals for 2018 and reviewing how I did this year. I had very few finishes this year and only a limited amount of sewing got done but it wasn't a complete washout. I'm very optimistic that there will be a lot more sewing time next year.


Wednesday 27 December 2017

Graduation and presents

It's been a lovely calm and quiet evening. I enjoyed watching the Christmas lecturer from the Royal Academy about the use of sound to communicate. The lectures are for children and very interactive which makes them enjoyable. I then pulled out my bag lady and enjoyed a couple of hours stitching. I need to get some more embroidery floss as I've misplaced one of my storage boxes which had the colours I need for this project. I hope it's somewhere in the house but I may have taken it to Brownies to make friendship bracelets.

On the 18th December Kathryn graduated as a qualified teacher from Goldsmiths and we joined her at the graduation ceremony. We've been to the University before as she studied there for her first degree and her masters. 

I love that the reflection of the lights makes it look like she has a thought or speech bubble coming from her head.

The ceremony was fun and we went for dinner later with Olly, her boyfriend, and a couple of other friends. It made a great start to the Christmas period. She finished work the following day having completed her first term as an Art and Design and Textiles teacher at a secondary school.

Christmas was fun but very tiring as we had a full house. It also meant I didn't have any time for sewing but I did get some sewing related presents. I received several fat quarters. Quite a few were Christmas fabrics.

I have a couple of projects I wanted to complete for Christmas but didn't have the energy. I am now feeling like sewing and will start planning the new projects in the near future. That way they will be completed well in time for next Christmas, after all I have a full year to do it.

These fat quarters are such fun but I'm not sure how I'm going to use them yet.

Richard gave me a loom, which was such a surprise. I'm not going to set it up until all the Christmas decorations have been packed away. I'll take a photo once it's set up.

Earlier today Lucy spent some time painting my nails. The chemotherapy played havoc with them and they are only now growing strong. She thought it would be fun to play and I really enjoyed having them done. It was so relaxing and I love the beads on the ring finger nail.

I really must spend time massaging my hands with cream as my skin is so dry. 

Tomorrow is another day and I want to start the quilting on my compass quilt. The dining table is clear and I have no other commitments. I hope you've managed some 'me' time for stitching over the holiday period.


Monday 25 December 2017

Wishing you a Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

I thought you might like to see the crib at our church this year.

Love and Hugs


Sunday 17 December 2017

Having fun

The weather in the UK has been behaving most oddly in the run up to Christmas. Last Sunday it snowed and settled here in London, but only for a short time before turning to rain. The temperatures have been all over the place with some a couple of degrees below freezing and then up at 10+ degrees C. I'm not sure if it's because of the way the weather is but one evening earlier this week there was an amazing sunset before I left work.

Our campus building has floor to ceiling glass and gives fabulous views across London. Unfortunately as well as being a great sunset it was also raining. It was fascinating to watch the sunset develop and then fade away. Those of us in the office stood around admiring the colour changes and delayed our leaving so we could watch it all.

Yesterday John and I went into central London as we needed to do some Christmas shopping. We avoided the main west end and Oxford Street as we had specific shops we wanted to visit elsewhere. One of our stops was on the Strand and I remembered to take a quick photo of the lights.

Even though I was concentrating on the shops I wanted to visit I spotted a green plaque out of the corner of my eye and made a detour to investigate.

I cut the top of the plaque off as I wasn't tall enough but here's what it's commemorating.

The Hotel Cecil was a grand hotel built 1890–96 between the Thames Embankment and the Strand. It was requisitioned in 1917 for the war effort and the headquarters of the newly formed Royal Air Force took up part of the building in 1918 to 1919. Most of the hotel was demolished in 1930 but the facade on the Strand still remains and is occupied by shops. 

The Royal Air Force is the oldest independent air force in the world and played a significant role on World War 2. It's most famous campaign was the Battle of Britain.

As we walked around the shops we spotted lots of beautifully decorated Christmas Trees and shop windows. I'd forgotten the fun of visiting the London shops in the run up to Christmas. You do have to allow plenty of time as it's very crowded but we planned in breaks for teas and coffees and enjoyed people watching along the way. 

This afternoon I finally cut the curtain fabric. The plain fabric was easy but the patterned fabric has a pattern drop of 80 cm and the match is then a few centimetres in from the selvage edge. I still have the lining to cut but at this point Picasso decided he wanted to play and wouldn't leave the fabric alone. As he made a grab at the fabric he caught my hand instead and I ended up with a nasty scratch that was bleeding  so I put the fabric away for the day. 

Having played with Picasso I am now ready to get my hand stitching out. I've done a little work on Earlene every night this week 

I've done all the dress outline and her basket. Tonight I'm working on her tote bag. I linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching  I really like this  bag lady and I can't wait to stitch her quilt. Why not pop over to Kathy's to see what hand stitching everyone's been working on.

I have work tomorrow and Tuesday and then I'm on holiday until 2nd January. I still have some Christmas shopping to do  and I need to do some grocery shopping. It would be fantastic if I could make my curtains before Christmas but I'm not going to rush them as I don't want to make any mistakes. I'll let you know how I get on.


Sunday 10 December 2017

Starting to feel a lot like Christmas

Sorry I've been missing but during most of November and at the start of December I just didn't feel like sewing or blogging. The year has been quite long and at times felt very intense so when not working I curled up with a good book, watched TV or chatted with family. Since early December I've started to get my act together and I'm ready to enjoy Christmas and get back to sewing. 

Friday was my birthday and we had a fun family evening with my daughters cooking dinner and then all of us joining in to play some silly games. Sadly Olly had to work but Lucy's boyfriend Dan joined us and coped very well with the noise that Kathryn and Lucy generate when excited. I put the tree up with the intention that everyone would help decorate it but that didn't happen. I've always done it and no one wanted to take the job from me so later this evening I'll put all the decorations on it. I'm secretly rather pleased they didn't do the decorating as it's my favourite part of the Christmas preparations.

Richard decided to make me a birthday and I was very impressed with it. It was a chocolate orange cake and tasted amazing. I managed to get a picture before we cut into it. It was very rich and very yummy.

Last weekend John and I went shopping for curtain fabric for our main room. This is a long through room with the front being the family sitting and TV area and the back the dinning area. The curtains are the last part of the room needing finishing. The curtains at the front which faces south had faded quite badly in the sun . I chose fabric on the same colour theme but patterned for the front and solid colour for the back. I've got to match up the pattern for the front curtains which will slow down the process and also meant I had to buy slightly more fabric than I needed to allow for the pattern drop. I have everything I need, lining, curtain header and thread so I can get started on them during the week. 

Last month I made a very small start on the bag lady embroider and then unpicked it so I have nothing to show from that. This month the bag lady is Earlene and last night I pulled this out and made a start. I was watching a film at the time and so didn't get very far as I got interested in what I was watching but tonight I will be doing more work on her. I finish work for Christmas on the 19th so I will have quite a bit of sewing time. We have several visitors coming over the holiday period and it's nice to sit and chat but have your hands busy with some stitching.

Today we've had snow on and off in London and it has been very exciting. We don't get snow often in London, well not the sort that doesn't melt away as soon as it lands, and very rarely before Christmas. The children by us were squealing with delight and I felt the urge to join in with them. I'm not exactly sure what it is about snow that is so exciting but it makes me so happy and it's really got me into the mood for Christmas. I'm hoping we get a lot more over this winter. I'd already got into the Christmas spirit as Lucy and I took some of our Rainbows to a Christmas event yesterday, where they made some tree decorations and food items all themed around Christmas. They had a visit from Father Christmas and there were presents for everyone. It was great fun. On our way home we walked along Piccadilly and the girls loved the Christmas window displays in the shops.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching  link up. 


Tuesday 14 November 2017

A busy Tuesday

I seem to have been in motion all day today.  Having spent Saturday at an open day for potential students I had several chores I needed to do. First I needed to pick up my new glasses. I'd had my old frames for several years and needed a change but choosing new frames is very difficult as I'm very long sighted which makes seeing how they look a bit of a problem. I try on far too many styles and take ages to make up my mind. Collecting the new glasses is always a worry because I convince myself that I made the wrong choice and I'm going to look awful in the glasses. I collected my glasses and  love the way they look and they make everything so clear. 

Next up was to collect pet food for Scamp and Picasso and then time to walk Scamp. Normally we would walk over Wandsworth Common but today I needed to pay a deposit for a holiday we are planning for next November so we followed the road instead. On the way we spotted a blue plaque.

The plaque is on the wall of Nightingale House, a large care home for members of the Jewish faith.  The plaque is to Ted 'Kid' Lewis who was born Gershon Mendeloff. (1893 – 1970) He was an English professional boxer who twice won the World Welterweight Championship.  He is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Next stop the travel agents. This particular travel agents specialise in Pilgrimages and the one we are going on next November is to Ethiopia. This has been organised through the church we belong to so we will be travelling with people we have known for some time. This is important to me as it's a two week trip so I want to be with people I know I get on with. Having finished all my treatments I decided it was safe to start organising some exciting activities. I'll give you more details in another post.

Once home I cut the binding and got it stitched to the right side of the advent calendar. Using my binding clips I turned the binding to the back and I'm ready to get it all stitched down.1

I've been slowly stitching this evening  but a long way to go. That was after I took Picasso to the vet for his annual checkup and immunisations. He is always very interested in everything that's going on and seems to enjoy being the centre of attention.

So a day with a little stitching. My next stitching day is Thursday but for now I need to go to bed as I have work in the morning.


Sunday 12 November 2017

Cezanne and sewing

Friday was a fun day. In the morning I went to Kingston with Richard and John to do a little shopping. I didn't have anything specific to buy but I wanted to get some small items for the Christmas stockings. Whilst there we enjoyed a tasty lunch and I got some good ideas for presents. John and I had arranged to meet Katy after she finished work to go to the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of Cezanne 's portraits. I've seen a lot of his landscapes but very few of his portraits.

I liked the Boy in a Red Waistcoat.

and this one of his father reading a newspaper

There were just too many to show you here but go on Google to find more. Having enjoyed the exhibition we went for dinner with Katy and Olly. A fun day but very tiring.

On Saturday I had to go into work for an Open Day. The day was for potential students to visit the university and have an opportunity to talk to the teaching staff about the courses they are interested in. Saturday evening I just chilled out in front of the TV. I can't even remember what I watched but it was the perfect end to a busy day. That brings me to today.

Today was my sewing day. Whilst in Kingston I'd visited the fabric department in John Lewis and bought an advent calendar panel and a metre of Christmas fabric, some of which I'll use for the backing.

I started by pressing both fabrics and then carefully cutting the advent calendar panel. When I saw the panel I thought of my younger brother Alex. Earlier this year he split up from his wife. He bought himself a canal boat and is now living on it so he must need an advent calendar to help him get into the mood for Christmas. I must admit I found making the pockets rather fiddly but I got it all sewn together and wadding and backing attached. It is now waiting to have the binding added.

I'd just grabbed my camera when Picasso settled himself onto the edge of the piece. I'm planning on getting this finished tomorrow evening. I'm using the same fabric as the backing for the binding. Whilst putting this together I remembered that I'd bought another Christmas panel last year to make up for displaying in the hall.

I just need to remember where I put it and then I can get it made into a quilt sandwich and quilted. Oh that and I need to buy some more wadding.

I had to repair Lucy's work skirt as she had caught the seam slightly but that was soon done and I was able to find the bag lady for November. This month is Thelma and the information with the fabric tells me she is the cookie lady of the club. I must say I love her hair and the silver 'T' for Thelma. When I've finished writing this I'll make a start on stitching her. Maybe this month I'll manage to get her finished.

Scamp wasn't impressed when I got Thelma out to take the photo. He'd been waiting quite a while for a snooze on my lap and now I planned to do some hand stitching. In the end I got him to move and here is Thelma.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching Go and see what evryone has been stitching.


Saturday 11 November 2017

Continuing the Capital Ring

Whilst receiving my cancer treatment we put completing the Capital Ring on hold but on Tuesday we restarted it again. When last we walked we had reached Finsbury Park. This is one of the largest open spaces in north London.

The park was developed from the old Homsey Wood and it opened in 1862. It was very tempting to kick through the fallen leaves.  From here we crossed a major road and continued our walk along the New River path. The New River isn't new and also isn't a river. It is an artificial watercourse that was completed in 1613 so that fresh water could be brought to London from springs near Ware in Hertfordshire. Originally it was a 40 mile course that followed the contours of the land and dropped about 2 inches every mile. Gravity moved the water along.

After crossing Seven Sister's Road we reached Stoke Newington's East Reservoir. As we walked beside it with modern apartments on our right we came across these lovely characters. First there was Mole,

and then there was Toad.

I kept hoping we'd come across Ratty but we didn't. However as we walked alongside the West reservoir we came across a giant silver ball water feature

The light on the ball and the reflection in its surface makes me think of a large Christmas pudding. If I'd taken the photo from slightly further to the left it would have appeared to have greenery on the top.Behind the ball was a second water feature.

On the wall of the apartment block this creeper gave a great autumnal feel.

I took a minute to look across the reservoir

As we came to the end of the stretch of walk along the water we came across a disused pumping station. This was built in 1855 and is known as The Castle. It's now an indoor climbing centre.

I loved the towers and turrets on the building. From here we walked along the road a little way until we came to Clissold Park. This park was named after the Reverend Augustus Clissold who was a local parson in the 19th century. Against the wishes of her father, who hated parsons, he courted Eliza Crawshay in secret. Mr Crawshay owned the mansion which was known as Paradise House and after his death when the Rev Clissold and Eliza married they renamed the mansion Clissold House. The house still stands in Clissold Park.
 The arms of the benches in the park are very cute.

As we were leaving the park we walked past St Mary's Church Stoke Newington, whose spire of 220 feet sores above the park.

Down the road from the church we came across a plaque to mark where Edgar Allan Poe went to school.

In the 17th and 18th century Stoke Newington was a refuge for dissenters who were excluded from the City of London. One of the dissenters was Daniel Defoe (1660 -1731) Defoe was a writer, political activist and a secret agent and his life is marked by a blue plaque on the wall of his house in Church Street.

Not far from this house we entered Abney Park Cemetery. The cemetery was laid out in 1840 but never consecrated which meant religious dissenters living in the area could be buried there. The cemetery is also a nature reserve. There are over 300,000 graves and one of them is the tomb of William Booth (1829 - 1912) who founded the Salvation Army and his wife Catherine.

The war memorial in the cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which was set up in 1917. 

This derelict chapel was close by the war memorial, built in 1840, it's at the centre of the cemetery

It would have been interesting to have a good wander round the cemetery but the weather was quite cool and rather drizzly so we left by the main gate and followed the map until we came to the Lea navigation where it flows with the River Lea. The Capital Ring joins the path beside the Lea Navigation for 3 miles.

Springfield Marina was full of narrow boats.

As we walked along the bank I spotted the Belted Galloway cows. 

On our right was the Lee Navigation and on the left the Walthamstow Marshes Nature reserve. The marsh is one of the few remaining areas of natural wetland in Greater London. Having passed under the bridge carrying the Lea Bridge Road the navigation and the river part company and we continued to follow the navigation. Behind a long brick wall are the former Middlesex filter beds which is now a nature reserve. We went into the reserve to see the Hackney Henge. This is Hackney's version of Stonehenge. It's formed from the concrete blocks that provided a base for a pumping station

As we continued along the towpath we passed the 2012 Olympic Stadium. The area has since been redeveloped.

On the opposite bank were restaurants selling street food.

I liked the artwork on this building.

The main Olympic stadium which is now the home of West Ham football club.

Here we left the Capital Ring to take a short detour to the station. This is where we will start the next section.

It was a great walk although I found it rather tiring. I can't wait to do the next section but we haven't set a date yet.

Tomorrow is a sewing day, I can't wait.