Sunday 30 July 2017

Now I need a nap!

Today was the day for taking the camping and personal kit to the collection point but first I had to finish packing and weighing it. There were the custom forms to complete as well, 5 copies in all. By this point my dining room looked a mess. I'd folded the table down to give myself more space but when you are dealing with a large mess tent plus other kit the room soon fills up.

The photo was taken as I was moving equipment into the room so it's missing 7 sleeping tents, cool boxes, two large double gas burners plus a lot more.

To add to the fun of the day many of the roads were closed for 'Ride London'. If you want to read more about this click Here . It was amazing to see huge numbers of cyclists streaming past on the closed roads but very frustrating when you need to be somewhere else. Where we live is surrounded by road closures which are in place from 7 am this morning until late tonight. This meant the routes that were open were very crowded and therefore running slow. What should have taken 2 hours or 3 at the most took all day. Once home I could start the job of turning the temporary camping kit store back into my home.

Once that job was done I set about making some plum jam. We had bought some plums last week, not a large quantity, just 3 pounds but more than enough to make sufficient jam for our needs. First I had to gently boil the plums and water to soften the plums and then add the sugar and simmer until the setting point was reached. I used my small kilner jars for the jam. I can't wait to have toast and jam for breakfast. The plums I used were the big deep purple ones with red flesh  which yields this beautiful dark red jam.

Now I have some time to do some slow stitching. I'm carrying on stitching Mildred and on Friday I had got to this point. My aim this evening is to stitch the second sleeve and the blue spots on that side of her apron. If I get that done I'll stitch her eyebrows, eyes and  mouth before moving the hoop.  I may not get that all done as I'm quite tired from today and the fact that it rained heavily most of last night. The rain kept Scamp and Picasso awake and in turn they kept waking me and John up. On an up note at least it didn't thunder as they both hate and are frighten by thunder.

The 8th bag lady is in my personal kit bag that went off today. I hope my bag doesn't go missing! Constance is a totally different character to Mildred and as always I'm hoping to finish Mildred before it's time to start on the next lady. To date I've only completed three of the bag ladies so I have a bit of catching up to do. 

I'm linking this post with Kathy at Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching. She's celebrating hosting this link up for the last 5 years. Why not go and see what folks have been working on today. I love this link up as it reminds me to slow down on a Sunday and it has also made me more aware of trying to do a little hand sewing every day. Thanks Kathy it's a great link up each week.

Right I've got to rush off I missing my stitching time and I need to chill out after my hectic day so I'm nice and relaxed by bedtime.


Saturday 29 July 2017

Busy, busy, busy.

Today was always going to be a busy day as I have camping kit and my personal kit to pack. Prior to that I needed to change the beds, do some laundry and also repair a pair of jeans. With laundry to do I really needed good weather but as I ran the washing machine for the first time the rain started.  I needn't have worried as over the day I dried all my washing outside. I don't mind running the dryer in the winter but try to avoid using it during the summer. 

In between cleaning and other jobs I finally finished the pinafore dress that I started last year. All I had to do to finish it was the hem and I hand stitched the hem this afternoon. I thought about doing it on the machine since I needed to repair a seam on Lucy's work skirt. It would have been quick to do since the machine was already set up but I prefer to hand stitch hems.

The pinafore is just really simple and I can wear T shirts or blouses under it. I added a bit of bling with some ribbon along the top of the pocket. I love skirts or dresses with pockets as I have somewhere to put my tissues and money when I'm in class. Rather than carting my handbag around with me all day I protect my possessions by using my locker.

The bit around the door handle is a running repair that was needed recently. The door was shut and when John tried to open it the door stayed firmly shut. When he gave it a tug the handle broke and we had to change it. The new handle was a slightly different mechanism and so there were small holes to fill.

This evening I did a little stitching on Mildred. I decided to do the pattern on her apron in blue.

I'm getting very attached to Mildred as I stitch her. I will carry on working on Mildred until we leave for Switzerland on the 8th August. I will pack Constance in my personal kit so I can start work on her while we are away.

Constance is a very up market bag lady. I need to find a project bag to this stitching project and then sort out the threads I need for her.

Still a lot to do before Sunday so I think I'd better go to bed. I'm not sure where today has gone as I seem to have been in perpetual motion all day.


Thursday 27 July 2017

Ahhh another UFO!

Since I started stitching the bag ladies in January I've been looking for my small embroidery hoop. Alas, until now my searches have been in vain. It was a real pain because there isn't even that many places in the house where it could have be. I didn't need to look in Richard's room as it most definitely wouldn't be there or in what was to be my sewing room but is now Lucy's room. In fact the only three rooms it could have been in was our bedroom, the living room and the dining room. So over the months I've gone through every cupboard and drawer in these rooms. I thought I'd looked everywhere but then last night I opened a drawer and there was a small project bag with some embroidery in it. The embroidery was hooped up using my small hoop! I think that's why I missed it. My brain was telling me to look for a hoop on its own not attached to a piece of embroidery.  Anyway I've now found it which is good news but the I also found another UFO.

I can't remember how old this piece is but I know it's older than the millennium sampler. I remember it was a gift from a friend but the rest is a blur. I love the green blue butterfly and I had fun blending in the colours. When I stitched the other butterfly I'd just seen a Red Admiral and the colours on its wings were very clearly separated into the pattern.

I don't think the piece is quite 50% complete at present so there is a lot of work to do. I'll add it to my stitching list and try to work it into my objectives.

The reason for the search was to find the hoop to use with the bag ladies so here is Mildred all hooped up. On her face I still need to do her eyebrows, eyes and mouth. I promised myself I wouldn't move on until her face was done but it just sort of happened.

I can't make up my mind if I want to stitch all the dots on her apron and if I do should I do them in black? Mildred certainly isn't as colourful as some of the ladies but they have a habit of evolving as you work on them so that could all change. I'm not working tomorrow and although I have a pretty busy schedule I'm giving myself at least an hours stitching in the morning.

Tomorrow I need to get started on packing up the camping kit. It all has to be weighed and put in packs of less than 32 Kg. Then I need to complete the custom forms and make a load of labels so each pack is clearly labelled with our unit details. Everything has to be done by early Sunday morning as it has to be delivered to the logistic centre ready to be loaded onto the lorry and driven to Switzerland. It's not just the camping kit, we also have to pack our personal kit as that goes on a second lorry and starts it journey next week. We don't fly out until the 8th. It's a pain that everything has to go so early but at least it's delivered back to the UK fairly quickly at the end of our trip. Now do I pack my stitching for the trip in my kit that's going on the lorry or do I take it on the plane. Note to self... need to check whether needles and embroidery scissors are allowed on the plane. I also need to load a couple of books onto my kindle. At three weeks since my last chemo when we go I'm not sure how much walking I'll be able to do especially at the altitude so I need to be well prepared for just sitting around resting and enjoying the views of the mountains.

Talking of resting I'm sitting in bed writing this but I can feel myself starting to drift off so I think I'll say goodnight and hit the publish button.


Sunday 23 July 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Here we are another week gone, a week of thunder storms, sunny days and rather more work than I'd wanted. That's the trouble with the end of the academic year, there is so much marking and admin to do there is hardly any time to catch your breath or to spend on your hobbies. 

Having completed very little of my projects this year I decided I needed a plan. Last weekend I spent some time listing my projects under main headings, quilting, embroidery, sewing and knitting. I then identified one thing off each list I would try to do this month. To make it workable I set a small objective for the chosen project and then set about completing the objective. My objective for my knitting project was to knit up to the armhole of the second sleeve of John's jumper. I managed this and also added the sleeve to the main body of the jumper. 

Next up is a flying geese border. For this pattern it asks for 20 squares at 71/4 inch cut on the two diagonals to give 80 triangles, the middle of. the geese. I then needed 80 squares at 37/8 cut once to give 160 triangles. Not my favourite way of making flying geese as stitching the triangles on the bias can pull them out of shape  so I need to handle them less and take more care. I ended up with all the pieces cut including the extra pieces for the four corner ston I'm finding it rather strange knitting in the round as I've never done this before but trying new techniques is good for the brain. I keep panicking the jumper isn't the right size but the tape measure tells a different story and it should be a great fit. I'm not sure why I'm worrying as I did my test square to make sure my tension was right before I started knitting. Anyway knitting objective for the month done. 

My quilting objective to to cut the fabric for the flying geese border of my compass quilt. This is where I left it when I last worked on this project. I had completed star border and needed to make border 4, the flying geese border. 

I needed to cut 20  squares at 71/4 inches and cut on the two diagonals to make 80 triangles for the centre of the flying geese. I also cut 80 squares at 37/8 inches cut once on the diagonal. All the cutting left my wrists a little sore but I had several neat piles of pieces all ready for stitching. In addition I also cut the pieces for the 4 cornerstones.  Sewing the triangles on the bias is not my most favourite way of making flying geese as it always seems slower and there is a risk of pulling the fabric out of shape. I may start the stitching later in the week but if I don't it doesn't matter as my quilting objective for the month is complete. Ha why didn't I think about setting tiny objectives before.

All that cutting left me with a pile of scraps. I think I need to start a scrappy quilt in the near future.

For my stitching objective I was going to work on Mildred, this months bag lady. Then I realised that Ernestine was almost completed and it would be really nice to have a finish so yesterday I worked on her.


I'm very pleased with how Ernestine has come out and I love her little dog. I have also spent a little time with Mildred today, starting the stitching on her dress. I can't make up my mind whether to embroider the buttons on the dress or use small beads. 

The only objective I haven't worked on is my sewing projects. I'm going to try and cut out the lining for my green jacket some time this week. I wanted to wear this during the summer and if I don't get a move on it will be winter before I finish it. For the rest of the month anything I achieve for my other projects is an added bonus and I'm feeling really positive about my hobbies.

I linking this post with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching Why not go and see what other people have been working on.

I'm going to take a nap as my computer is driving me nuts at present. It had a big update for Windows 10 and since then has decided it is a tablet and won't acknowledge it has a keyboard. Microsoft if you're reading this sort out your softwear. My computer is a Lenova not a surface pro and I like using the keyboard, oddly enough it makes it easier to write a post. I've tried all the settings and nothing is making it work but Richard will be home soon and should be able to sort it out. Another thing Microsoft if Windows 10 is so User friendly why won't it do what I need it to do? I think I'd better put the computer away so I can stop being grumpy. 

Hope you all had a good weekend.


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.