Tuesday 31 January 2017

Binding and Stitching.

Yesterday I finished the quilting on the dog quilt and only have the binding to finish. I had planned on using a solid red fabric as I thought the quilt was rather 'busy' but when I audition the red and the two fabrics I had from the kit I'd used, I found the red just didn't work. I think the fabric that is provided for the binding is the red with a white swirl. I can't check as I've misplaced the pattern but I have more of this fabric than the white with the red swirl. The fabric audition made the choice for me and I went with the white fabric This caused a slight problem as I didn't have that much fabric. Answer.. instead of cutting the binding at 21/2 inches I went with just 2 inches. 

The binding looks good and all I need to do now is stitch it to the back of the quilt. Hopefully that will be done over the next couple of evenings.

Today is the day for revealing Ernestine the bag lady. Although I ordered these patterns when Barbara set up her stitch along I only received them on the 21st January so she isn't finished yet. I posted a photo yesterday of my progress and I hoped to have some more done today. That didn't happen as I had to see my oncologist this morning and the appointment took ages. That's a good thing as I had a full examination and she went through all the results with me and discussed my treatment in detail. I should start treatment on Friday 10th February (just waiting on a final test result) By the time I got home I felt tired and needed to chill out. Having had time to assimilate all the information I'd been given I got the machine out and added the binding and made up a couple of blocks. Anyway here is Ernestine again to show how far I've got.

I will probably do a little more stitching on her tonight but then I'll put her away and start on lady number 2. I can finish her later in February as I know I'm going to have stitching time. Having the treatment on a Friday means I have the whole weekend to rest and stitching is so calming and relaxing plus even if I only do a couple of stitches at a time it all counts as progress..right?

I have another day off tomorrow so I'm hoping for some more sewing. I also need to decide which of my UFO's I want to work on in February. Talking of February where did January vanish to? I know time seems to whizz by when you're busy but this is getting ridiculous. Anyway I must give some thought to Valentine's day as I need to go shopping for a gift for John.


Monday 30 January 2017

January OMG completed.

I'm doing a happy dance a I've finished the quilting on the 'It's a dog's life' quilt which was my monthly goal for January. When I stopped the quilting yesterday I took this photo.

Today I finished up the quilting and trimmed it all ready for the binding. I used King Tut thread both on the top and in the bobbin to quilt it. Both threads are variegated. 

The embroidered blocks were quilted with a small all over meander which has made the embroidery really stand out. The sashing and bone blocks are quilted in the ditch. The outer border is quilted in the ditch along the diagonals. I quilted the border in this way because the border was a little 'wavy' The back is solid red and I'm going to use this for the binding. The binding should be one of the fabrics on the front. It's either the red swirls on the white back ground or the white swirls on red. However I find the fabric just a little 'busy' and feel it will be better with a solid fabric (but I may still change my mind). I bought this as a kit which included the embroidery patterns and background fabric plus all the fabric for the front from Birdbrain Designs

I tried to get a good photo of the trimmed quilt but Picasso really wanted to be in the photo but didn't like the flash so this is the best I could do. Hopefully when I've added the binding I'll be able to go outside for a photo.

I love how the embroidery 'pops' out now.

Earlier today Lucy and I took Buddy and Scamp for a long walk over Wimbledon Common. Seems we wore them both out as they both settled down for a nap. Buddy 'the big' helped himself to the quilt and all of the settee,

whilst Scamp made himself as small as possible.

Scamp's hoping I'm going to be doing some hand stitching or knitting this evening then he can snuggle on my lap.

A good day's sewing and first monthly goal finished. This should be a completely finished quilt by the end of the week. Now I need to decide on next month's goal. In the meantime I'm linking this post with OMG Finish Party


Sewing time

There hasn't been much sewing around here this week so this weekend I needed to play catch up. Last week was busy between work and fitting in hospital appointments and my 6 monthly dental check. That meant that housework was also pushed out so I needed to catch up on this as well. Youngest daughter is self funding her masters and so is very welling to earn money doing my ironing especially as she needed to order back copies of a German magazine as source material for her dissertation (she is studying history). You also need to have a little time to follow your hobbies and meet up with other family members which this week involved a trip to the National Portrait Gallery.

On Friday afternoon John and I cut out of work as soon as we had finished teaching as we had arranged to meet Kathryn and Olly at the gallery.

(Main entrance to the gallery. Image from art news on Google images.)

The exhibition we were going to see, Picasso's portraits, finishes on 5th February and this was the only date we could all do. Everyone remembers Picasso's cubism portraits (you either love them or hate them) but the exhibition was fascinating because it bought 80 of his works together and shows all his styles and approaches to drawing and painting people. It was a very interesting and enjoyable exhibition which gave me lots of ideas for when I next get my sketch book out. After, we went for dinner at Wagamama with its Japanese inspired food. Mmmm yummy.

Saturday started a little late as a week of early mornings really does require a late start on Saturday morning. We had planned to go to Dorking to visit a quilt shop and then to do some walking. On the drive there John realised he'd forgotten his phone which had the walking route so we had to revise our day.

The Quilt Room opened 35 years ago. The shop itself is small but stuffed full of beautiful fabric . Behind the shop is a studio which houses the workshop rooms and long arm machines.

The shop was quite dark so you needed to take fabric to the window to get the true colours but there was plenty to choose from. Unfortunately my other photos were blurry but you get the idea.

I bought myself some fabric, needed for an ongoing project.

and John bought me this bright set of half metres plus the green. The green is for a current project but the oranges and mustard are to fill a colour gap in my stash (although I do have a new project in mind).

I picked up this fabric to make a bag for my Nikon 1 camera. This is the one I try and carry with me most of the time and it just gets tipped into my work bag or rucksack. It needs a little more loving care.

While we were out we treated ourselves to lunch at Pizza Express and enjoyed window shopping in Dorking and visiting the local church.

Once home housework had to be done and dinner prepared but it still left a little time to start the quilting on the 'It's a dog's life' quilt. My January goal was to finish the quilting and at this point I hadn't started it so I set up my machine and finally made a start. By the end of Sunday it was fairly close to being finished and a little later today I shall get back to it.

I have been working on my bag lady in the evenings . Here's how far I've got by the end of Sunday. I love to do some hand stitching on a Sunday evening as a chance for some quiet time as I prepare for the week ahead. 

She's coming along all be it rather slowly. I'm linking this post with Kathy for Slow Stitching Sunday

I had a great weekend and I now I need to catch up with some work before finishing the quilting.


Sunday 22 January 2017

Slow stitching time.

It's just great to be able to kick back, relax and slowly stitch whilst watching a film or TV show. Sunday daytime can sometimes be quite tiring as we often go walking but the evening is for stitching (or knitting).

The day has been crisp and clear and we took Scamp for a long walk over the common, then I had some time to do some work on my quilt. I love the pattern and the fabric feels so nice. I'm taking it slowly as I don't want to make a mistake. So today I worked on the first layer around the mariner's compass. I'm pleased I don't have to paper piece the compass as I'm not a fan of paper piecing. First up today I made the nine patches and attached the half square triangles so I have the centre piece done.

Now I need to cut out the next borders but I'll do that later in the week. Today I cut the fabrics for the recent blocks on the serendipity quilt along (which is coming to an end) and the solstice quilt along. So many things to stay on top of.

So for my slow Sunday stitching I've been knitting. I'm working on John's jumper. I've now knitted the main body up to the arm holes. This has been done on a circular needle which is a first for me. I'm working on the first sleeve and these are knitted on straight needles. I haven't taken a photo of the body as it's just longer than it was but here's the start of the first sleeve. Hopefully next week I'll have a t least one sleeve done. 

Yesterday I received my bag lady patterns. Barbara at Cat Patches is running a stitch along using these lovely ladies and I thought I'd take part. The patterns are pre printed and coloured and I now need to stitch them. I'll be starting tomorrow evening or I might take one with me to work on during my lunch break. First I need to track down my embroidery floss and work out the colours I need. 

I'm linking up with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching Go and see what everyone has been doing, it's so inspiring to see all the projects.

I would also like to thank you all for your kind thoughts and words. I have a lot of emails to reply to but last week seemed to fly by with various tests and trying to get all my work up to date before I start treatment so I apologise for being rather slow. I know with all of you supporting me plus my quilting and stitching and of course my fabulous family I will be able to get through the whole process. 


Saturday 14 January 2017

Bad news, good news

2017 is just 14 days old but already it has thrown me a curved ball. I started the year with high hopes but in a short space of time my world was turned upside down and it has taken a little while to get my head round it. Now I would like to share my problem with you as I have always found my blog land friends and family very supportive and I know I will be needing that support as the year progresses. On 3rd January I woke up with pain in my right breast, it was swollen and I could feel a lump. I have suffered mastitis before and so decided that I would take pain killers, go to work and if it wasn't resolving the next day I would see my doctor. So the next morning I phoned my GP and as I couldn't see a doctor until the end of this week I went to the urgent care centre at our local hospital. By the end of the day I had been scanned, had a mammogram and a biopsy. On Wednesday of this week I was told I have breast cancer and they went through the treatment plan with me. I have tests booked for next week to check for spread elsewhere and to ensure I am fit for chemotherapy. I meet my oncologist on the 31st and treatment will start immediately after that. The tumour is small and I have been told the outcome should be fine but it's news you hope you will never be given. 

Being me I will be trying to carry on as normal as far as I am able to do so. John has told me I will be taking extra care of myself and I'm sure he will be very bossy if he thinks I'm doing too much and tiring myself. I love him dearly and he has been so supportive, being there to talk when needed but also allowing me space to process it on my own. Our children whilst stressed witless have also been treasures during this last week. 

The good news is that sewing, knitting and other crafts have always been my means of relaxing and dealing with stress. Over the Christmas holidays I had organised my projects and also set up new ones so I have a variety of things I can get on with and enjoy. John bought me the fabric for the mariner's compass quilt for Christmas but this has now taken on the name of Rescue quilt and I plan on working on this over the year.

I've been reading through the pattern and following all the steps will help keep my mind occupied. Earlier this week I made a start by clearly identifying which fabric was for which area. I'd switched some of the fabrics around from the pattern and I needed to make sure I got it right. All the fabric is now carefully labelled and I've since made a start on the cutting.

Also good news is that our flooring for our living room, dining room and hall has been delivered and we can start to lay the floor. We're using solid bamboo flooring and I'm so excited as it's going to look fabulous. It's currently in boxes in the hallway but we need to move it to where it will be laid so it can acclimatise.The hallway has still to be decorated but there's time for that.  

This evening I've been knitting whilst watching the last part of the hobbit. All the fighting has quite worn me out and I think a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit is in order. I've been working on John's jumper and I'm almost up to the arm holes. The wool is thick and it grows very quickly. Tomorrow is a sewing day as I haven't yet started on the quilting for my dog quilt. Hopefully I can get some of it done in the morning. I'm also hoping it stays dry so we can take Scamp for a long walk. With the weather being cold and wet, plus my health problem he's missed out on his walks this past week.

Take care and I'll be back tomorrow with some slow stitching.


Sunday 8 January 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching.

Today John, Lucy and I went walking. We are walking the Capital Ring - a walk that circles London. John and I have walked it before and Lucy wanted to do it too so this is my second time round and John's 4th. Today was a short section from Greenford to South Kenton. It managed to stay dry whilst we were walking but as we came out of the tube following our journey home it was raining. Once home it was lovely to sit and cuddle Scamp before getting on with my cross stitch.

I had planned to work on the millennium sampler this month but I changed my mind and have been working on the Christmas tree instead. Well I've actually been continuing the sky. I stuck with the sky as it meant I could watch TV as I stitched. The tree involves only doing two or three stitches before the need to change threads. Here's how far I'd got last time.

I'm pleased with the progress I've made but there's still a long way to go.

I'm linking with Kathy for Slow Stitching Sunday  Why not go and see what everyone's been working on.


Saturday 7 January 2017

January's goal and Christmas presents

Running late with picking my goal for this month but finally decided that I would endeavour to quilt the 'It's a dog's life' quilt. The sewing room / office / guest room is almost finished and has already fulfilled its role as a guest room when Katy and Olly stayed over Christmas. The quilt is going to be hung on the wall in this room once the quilt and the room are fully completed. My bobbins have been filled and the machine is clean and 'fluff' free so all ready to go.

It's such fun to see both the changes and decorating in the house and a long standing projects nearing completion. The embroidery on the quilt was started in July 2013 as a NewFO project for Barbara's monthly challenge at Cat Patches. This challenge is no longer running but several of my UFO's are from this time.

This week has been an exciting week for post. First, this month's goodie box arrived from The Bramble Patch. It's always fun to see what's inside . It's only a small subscription box which works well for me as I have a chance of using the contents within a reasonable time frame. A larger box with more fabric and notions would stress me a bit as I would end up having to find storage room and that's in short supply here.

Another parcel also arrived for me, this time my Christmas present from John (I love the posting label).

He couldn't think what to get me and asked for some ideas in the run up to Christmas. When he asked I was holding my recently delivered copy of Quilting Today which contained a booklet made in association with the Quilter's Guild to celebrate their Elizabeth's Dowry fabric collection. I had been drooling over the photos of the fabric but also the pattern to make a quilt using it. So I suggested he might like to part fund the purchase of the fabric to make the quilt. I didn't suggest him buying the whole lot as a quilts worth of fabric comes up pricey but he said he'd buy whatever I needed to make the top. I ordered it after Christmas and it arrived this week. I'm hoping to make a start on the centre of the quilt later today or tomorrow but first I need to identify the fabrics I'm using for which pieces so I don't cut it wrong.

The pattern is designed by Sally Ablett and I just love it. There's a lot of information about the mariner's compass design in the booklet which I have yet to read. 

Yesterday evening John and I watched the first film in the Hobbit series. Tonight we plan on watching part 2 and I want to get some stitching done on my cross stitch or maybe a bit of knitting. 

Now what shall I do first, the ironing, some sewing or just some interesting reading? The only thing I'm not going to do is go outside as it is cold and wet.  I'm linking this post with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for One Monthly goal  - January goal setting party.


Monday 2 January 2017

Nearly back to work time.

Today I wanted to make the quilt sandwich for the 'It's a dog's life' quilt. I'd made this a few weeks ago but it got all scrunched up in my storage box so I needed to redo it. It needed a good pressing first and then I remade the quilt sandwich. It didn't take long and that left me some time to consider how I'm going to quilt it. I have a few ideas but I need to practice a bit before I try it on the quilt. I want to be more adventurous with my FMQ this year and I've got some patterns I want to try. More at the weekend when I'll have time to start the quilting.

Next I made a few more blocks for the Bear Paw quilt. The blocks take some time to make as the half square triangles have to be trimmed to one and half inches. It went much quicker when I changed the rotary cutter blade.

The rain stopped long enough to take Scamp and Buddy for a walk over the common although it was getting dark when we got home. I shall miss my walks to the common with Scamp everyday when I start back at work tomorrow. Why is it holidays go so quickly and I never manage to fit in all the things I want to do? Still it will soon be the weekend.

I was browsing through my photos when I realised I hadn't posted about the outcome of the mini quilt swap I took part in a while back. I made a mini 'cats stairway to heaven' quilt. That quilt went to live in America.

I didn't show you the really cute quilt that came to live with me. It was made by Barbara from Cat Patches and I just love it. If you follow Barbara's blog you'll know she loves cats and they are part of this quilt. Look at this cute cat on the back,

and the front has that cute paw print fabric.

I can't wait to put the Christmas decorations away and get this quilt back on display. I love that the quilt looks really good whichever side is showing.

I think I'm all organised for tomorrow and hopefully tomorrow evening I 'll be able to do some more sewing.


Sunday 1 January 2017

Happy New Year

As well as sewing I also like to doddle so the page above is the start of my 2017 doddle pad. I don't usually let anyone look in my pad as it's just for me but my favourite doddle from last year was this one. It's based on a photo I took of a log pile.

So did you stay up to enjoy the festivities or slope of to bed? Richard was working so it would just have been the two of us but Lucy and her boyfriend Richard came round for dinner. They'd been visiting Richard's relatives outside London and were both tired so left early. We switched on the last part of Harry Potter that we were recording and that took us up to midnight and the London fireworks display. The only problem is fireworks are never as good on TV as when you see them live. There weren't too many big bangs from fireworks around where we live this year and Scamp stayed nice and calm. Then bed without ringing any relatives, I'll do that today. We nearly always stay up to see the New Year in but I'm not sure if my brothers still do.

We decided to walk this morning as the weather forcast predicted rain later in the day.The route around Wandsworth Common is about 4 miles and it was warmish and dry when we set off but by half way it was raining. It hasn't stopped since then. Once home and having dried Scamp's fur I settled down to some sewing. Well what else do you do on a wet and miserable day?

I was working on the Bear Paw quilt and yesterday I cut the fabric for 6 more blocks. When I made the first few blocks I used grey as the central piece . Here's my original test block.

I wasn't happy with the grey as it made the block look a bit dull so I switched grey for red and I feel much happier with the blocks.

Now all I have to do is change the grey piece for red on all the blocks I've already made. Not to panic too much as I haven't made that many. In making these blocks I'm using a solid brown throughout but a range of different background fabrics but all the same colour, some from my scraps and some I bought to make up the amount of fabric I needed. 

After that I did some more work on my secret project. I also spent quite a bit of time sorting out my emails. I had a ridiculous number that I hadn't read and lots I'd read but not deleted or filed. Still a long way to go with this sorting out but a few a day will see it off in a couple of weeks. I've also unsubscribed from quite a few things so that will reduce the influx of emails.

Finally this evening I settled down to watch Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in the new episode. During this I did some slow knitting. Well very slow knitting as I found the plot needed more concentration than usual. Still slow stitches counts towards a finished project. The knitting is growing slowly. The wool is beautiful to knit with.

How did you spend the first day of the new year? I'm linking with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.


A good way to say goodbye to the old year.

This morning I had a couple of bits of work I needed to get finished before I go back to work on Tuesday but once that was done the day was more or less my own. It was cold and dank when we walked Scamp but he enjoyed running across the common. He gets a little put out because other dogs see him running and think he wants to play with them but all he really wants to do is run. He's happy to stand still and greet the other dogs with a sniff but then he hopes they will go away so he can get back to running.

Talking of walking, John subscribes to Country Walking magazine and we have been taking part in their 'walk 1000 miles' challenge. We did it last year and walked a little over the 1000 miles. This year my total is 1311 miles (as counted by my Jawbone  distance tracker). I'm not planning on going out again today so that is just about my total for the year. We will be taking part again next year but we are going to try and walk 1500 miles. 

Back home after our walk I set about enjoying the last day of the year with some sewing. The first thing I did I can't show you as I'm taking part in a blog hop in January and I was working on my project. After that I cut out some more blocks for the Bear Paw quilt. This quilt along has now finished but I still have a lot to do. I forgot this quilt when I was considering my UFO's yesterday but when thinking about sewing today this was my first thought.  I always put the pieces I cut out into small plastic bags. This helps keep the pieces clean should Picasso make it into the room with dirty paws (a high possibility as the only way into the house is through the garden) and also stops me losing bits. Picasso's favourite place for cleaning his paws in the winter is sat on a pile of fabric. 

Tomorrow I'm going to go through my UFO's so I know exactly what I've got to work on in 2017 and how far along the projects are. I will be working on the Bear's Paw during January.

Next I sorted through my embroidery and pulled out the millennium sampler as I want to work on this during January. This is a morning task during daylight or evening using the light and magnifier I bought at the stitching and knitting exhibition in October. I didn't do any embroidery today, just sorting the projects.

This evening we are planning on watching the final part of Harry Potter and whilst this is on I will be knitting. With the circular needles I only have to do a knit stitch so it makes it easier to watch TV at the same time. The knitting has grown quite a bit over Christmas as all the Harry Potter films have been shown.

We will probably stay up to see in the New Year. Mostly because Scamp hates fireworks and if we are still up we can turn the TV volume up and cover at least some of the bangs. He's much better than he was but he likes someone to cuddle him. Picasso on the other hand loves to watch the flashes and sits staring out the window or on the shed roof if he can escape from the house. He also loves to go out during thunder storms.

Hope you enjoy / enjoyed your New Year celebrations and I'll be back next year.