Sunday 29 April 2018

Finally finished stitching Abigail.

I've been busy and not just with work. Since I last posted we've celebrated Lucy's birthday and attended her Masters graduation. Of course Lucy and I needed new dresses for her graduation so we had a long and very enjoyable shopping trip. Unusually for me I actually bought two new dresses and a pair of shoes. Lucy is great fun to go shopping with and we enjoyed lunch whilst we were out.

I haven't spent much time on my sewing machine so I haven't completed the quilting on my compass quilt but I have spent time on hand stitching. I've been working on my hexie quilt, and this evening I finally finished the stitching on Abigail. I've grown rather fond of this lady, I just wish she didn't have worms in her bag!

In finishing Abigail I have also managed to finish my April goal. This is the first monthly goal I've managed to complete in months so I'm doing a happy dance.  I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching and also with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for the April link party for One Monthly Goal 

Yesterday John and I went walking to visit the bluebell wood. I'll tell you about it tomorrow as now I need to go to bed. Finishing the stitching on Abigail has worn me out. I must make time earlier in the day for stitching as doing it in artificial light makes my eyes tired. 

We are expecting high winds and lots of rain here plus the temperature has dropped dramatically. Just when I thought it was safe to forget about winter it comes back again. I spent last Sunday sorting my summer clothes but tomorrow I will need to wear something warmer. Hopefully the summer will arrive soon.

Take care


Monday 16 April 2018

A good sewing weekend.

Over the week I had very little time to sew. Going on holiday is great but when you get back to work there is so much to catch up with that to get it done you have to give up some of your free time. Not that I'm moaning as I enjoy my job but I wish it was easier to balance the work and home lives better. You'd think I'd have worked it out by now having been working since September 1972!

Anyway I didn't get Abigail finished last week but that's all right since she is my one monthly goal for April. I knew I was wise to keep it simple. She has moved forward a bit and I should be there by the end of the week and if not it's a definite for the end of the month.

Over the weekend I fired up my sewing machine and started stitching some Christmas bits. I'd love to show you but unfortunately I'm doing a blog hop in July and I'm making it for that. My family think I'm slightly mad making Christmas things but they just don't realise how long these projects can take.

When we woke up on Saturday we were greeted by sun peeping through the bedroom curtains and as the day progressed it got really warm. Spring has definitely arrived here in London and to go with it I've got the snuffles from all the pollen. I had commented on it during the evenings last week as I was fine during the day but got snuffly at home. Then I realised I had a vase of daffodils in the living room. I'll gladly put up with the snuffles to have the joy of the flowers. I just hope I don't get the streaming eyes to go with it this year. We took Scamp for his walk in the sun, no coat or jumper needed. It's now Monday and the weather is set to heat up even more with temperatures around 24 degrees Celsius being predicted, very nice for April. 

I've been going through all my recipes and patterns that I've pulled from various magazines trying to sort them into some semblance of order. Amongst them I rediscovered this cute pattern for a frog quilt.

I bought this when I was still working on the red work 'It's a dog's life' quilt so I put it way safely and then I couldn't find it. I can guarantee I'll lose an item if I put it away safely. Anyway when I finish up the bag ladies this will be my next stitching project...well so long as I can find it.

I spent ages this afternoon hunting the internet for a dining shelter or mess tent for use on our Guide camps. My brain is now in meltdown and I've lost valuable sewing time. I really didn't realise just how long it would take. We needed some new hike tents and that was a quick purchase. We visited our favourite camping shop on line and they were having a sale and had just what we wanted so we bought them. I still haven't reached a decision about the mess tent and may end up handing the problem over to Lucy. Whatever happens we need one for the end of May so no pressure.

I think I'll soothe my nerves by sewing some more hexagons together. I'm making the flowers or rosettes for the next round. There are 36 needed for this round and they will have the colours of the rainbow at the centre but otherwise will be white. I'm working on the ones I need with an orange centre at present, I just love the pumpkins

I thought you might like to see the back of this project. I'll leave the papers in the hexagons until the quilt top is complete and will then remove them prior to creating the quilt sandwich. The sides of the hexagons I'm using  are 1 inch.

Lucy's boyfriend Dan is over this evening and they were both laughing so much that I just had to see what had caused it. Lucy has restarted knitting again and she was trying to teach Dan. This could take some time but is going to cause a lot of laughter along the way.

I hope you've had a good weekend and the weather is starting to warm up. I'm hoping to have time for some stitching this week when I get in from work.

Take care


Sunday 8 April 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

I've been having great fun quilting my compass quilt and I worked on it a little more this morning. I'm back at work tomorrow so there won't be much time to work on it again until next weekend. This afternoon I spent some time sewing in the thread ends so they were nicely buried in the batting. Do you sew the ends in or just cut them off? It takes a long time to sew them all in but I think it makes for a better finish and it's very satisfying when they're done.

This evening I'm working on Abigail. I've managed quite a lot over the week and I may even have it finished by next weekend. I felt she was a little 'pink' with her coat and her tote being pink so I'm adding some brighter colours on the tote.

This week I'll also be working on the hexie quilt. During the holiday I didn't complete sewing on the next round as I still have 10 more blocks to add.  I'm working in Reading this week and plan to travel by train so I'll have time to prepare the blocks for the next round during the journey.

I think it's time to start planning for our next holiday  and tomorrow I'll book the time off. If I leave it till the last minute to do I'll find someone will have booked a meeting that I have to attend and I won''t be able to have the dates I want.


Friday 6 April 2018

Discovering the joy of FMQ

Today has been such a fun day at the sewing machine. John and I should have been walking  but John woke up in a bit of a panic about all the things he hadn't done so he cancelled the walk and made a start on his to do list. That left me at a loose end so what else could I do but sew.  

To start with I spent some time making a quilt sandwich of a project I'm making for the Christmas in July blog hop. Which reminds me I must put the button on my sidebar. Anyway I pressed the top and the backing fabric and then made the quilt sandwich on the floor as John was using the dining table. I think I'm getting too old for crawling round the floor and of course Scamp and Picasso thought it was a great game so it took much longer than it should.  I would show you the project but then I'd have nothing to show you on the blog hop.

Having done that I made a cup of tea and spent a little time with Scamp on my lap looking at Leah Day's book 365 Free Motion Quilting designs. Whilst slowly getting up this morning I had been thinking about the quilting on my compass quilt and decided I would have some fun with it. I've always wanted to do more FMQ but I've always chicken out at the last minute and stick with tried and tested. The quilt is for me so it doesn't matter if the quilting is wonky when it's finished so it's time to have fun.

Having used the book for inspiration and read all the tips, which were very useful I got started  on the next section. 

I really like the flowers on the nine patch. What I did find out today is that I find it really difficult to stitch in a straight line. I think I need a lot more practice at that. I had to put the quilt on the floor to take the photo and Picasso thought it was so he could play. It's a really good job all the pins and basting held otherwise I would have been cross with him.

He didn't give up the quilt willingly and I have the scratch to prove it. Having retrieved it from him I had to re roll the sides so I could get back to my quilting.

Now the centre square including the 9 patches is all complete. I'm loving how this is looking and more importantly I'm really enjoying the process. I wanted to carry on quilting but by this point I needed a rest from it as my shoulders were aching. 

Picasso was pulling at the edges while I took the photo so I quickly folded the quilt up and put it out of his reach. Now I need to decide what I'm doing in the next triangular sections. I don't think I'll get to them until next week as I have other things I need to do.

I got quite a lot of stitching done on Abigail last night and I'm hoping to have her finished over the next week. Unfortunately I'm back at work on Monday so sewing time will slow down a lot. What I do need to do is make better use of my time as I've found I can get quite a lot done even if I only have half an hour free and it gives me a great sense of achievement.

So now it's time to finish cooking dinner as I'm now feeling very hungry. 


A little quilting

The time had arrived to start the quilting on my Compass quilt. The fabric to make this quilt was a Christmas  present from John in 2016. The fabric arrived in early January but by this point I had already been diagnosed with breast cancer and I said the quilt was my rescue quilt and making it would be the journey back to health . In many ways it was a rescue quilt and it was a new project to work on but a project that seemed at the time to be very complicated. I think that was the effect of the chemotherapy. My poor brain found the pattern quite confusing to follow but this was due to the tiredness, which was worse since I continued working throughout the treatment. Having said that, I found the quilt top very satisfying to make and celebrated as I added each border.  Yesterday I started the quilting on the centre of the quilt, the compass panel. 

I stitched around the points of the compass and then did a small meander in the area between the points. At then set the quilt aside for the day as it is a large quilt and also heavy to manoeuvre under the sewing machine. In addition I haven't quilted anything large in a long time and I found the concentration needed tired my eyes. 

Today I continued and quilted the square around the compass with a pebble pattern.

This is where I stopped the quilting for the day. Tomorrow John and I are planning on walking so there will be no time to do any more quilting but I'll do the next section on Saturday. Apart from walking Scamp I'm awarding myself a 'nothing but sewing day' on Saturday. By then I'll have decided how I want to quilt the next section. The whole quilting process is just one decision after another!

Once I'd packed my quilting away for the day we took Scamp for a walk across the common. It has been a warm and sunny day here in London so I took my camera with me. On the walk to the common there were several trees in flower, not sure what they are but they are very pretty.

On the common the Ash had their black leaf buds and cluster of flower buds.

A magnolia tree was in bloom

And in one of the trees two magpies just sat and watched the world pass by. We usually see a lot of magpies on the common but today these were the only ones about.

John and I celebrated the sun with an ice cream, it was so good. This evening I did a little more stitching on Abigail whilst watching TV.  For now I'm off to bed.


Wednesday 4 April 2018

April OMG and work in progress

I haven't been joining in with the one monthly goal for quite a while as I found I was quite often too tired from work and house work to put a lot of effort into my sewing projects. However over the last few weeks I've managed to complete projects and have taken part in several blog hops. It's been fun spending more time playing with fabric again and I'm determined to keep up the momentum so I decided the time was right to start joining in with a monthly goal again. My goal for April will be to complete the stitching on Abigail. There are 12 ladies in all and I have completed 4 but I'd like to get them all done as I want to turn them into a quilt wall hanging and I have the perfect spot to display it. I've already done some work on this piece this month so here is my starting point.

I'm a little bit further forward than this picture shows but this is where I was at the beginning of the month. Last night I finished her trousers (pants) and started on her hair.

Whilst this is my main goal I want to get the quilting done on my compass quilt. It's already to go and I have the thread I need. I was going to start yesterday but I did some much needed sorting and tidying instead. That took longer than planned as I was making decisions on whether to keep things or send them to the charity shop. It seems silly to have clothes or belongings in cupboards and drawers if you don't use them so I now have a couple of bags of things that need to move on and more space in the drawers. I also spent some time playing with my makeup. Last year my skin became quite sensitive so I didn't use any make up at all however it's nice to use a little when going to work or out visiting but I needed to get back into practice. There certainly isn't time in the morning when going to work for a major performance so I wanted a quick and easy routine. Anyway all that to say that this afternoon I'm going to quilt the middle section of my quilt, the actual compass bit. The compass itself was a cheat bit as it is a printed panel but I know I would never have made it if I'd had to paper piece it.

All the quilting I've done recently has been meanders / stipple but I want to try out some other ideas. I feel quite excited at the prospect of trying some new patterns but a little nervous at the same time.

Once I've quilted the centre section of the quilt I need to make my second kitchen curtain. I made the first curtain last year but we were having new windows and the curtain rail was taken down so no point in rushing to finish the job. Now the new rail is in place and I need to get the curtains finished and up. I'll make a start later today and hopefully be able to hang the curtains tomorrow or Friday. The fabric has tea and coffee cups on it.

I'm linking this post with Elm Street Quilts for the One Monthly Goal link party.  Right now I'm off to make a start on my quilting as I'm back at work next week. Take care.


Tuesday 3 April 2018

A couple of castles.

On Wednesday morning we woke up to snow. Not a huge amount, rather just a light dusting.

This is the row of railway workers cottages where we stayed. We had the end one nearest my car. The front faced the road and there was a little courtyard at the back which meant we could shut the gate and let Scamp out when needed.

Having attended training on the new data protection laws I realised I needed to black out my number plate since it links to a lot of personal information. It's interesting how times change as I wouldn't have bothered a couple of years back. Anyway about half an hour after taking the photo it began to snow again and Richard and Scamp went out to 'play' until it got heavy. We had already decided to stay close to home since the forecast was for snow on and off over the day but we knew there would be very little lower down the valley. 

We drove to Kirby Stephen, stopping on the way for Richard, John and Scamp to walk up to another waterfall. I stayed in the car as the cold makes my feet and hands painful due to the neuropathy. I caught up on some reading whilst they were gone. After that we stopped to visit a ruined castle that was close to the road. This was Pendragon castle which was built by the Normans in the 12th century close to the River Eden. Legend suggests that it was founded by Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur and also puts forward the idea that Uther and 100 of his men were killed here when the Saxon invaders poisoned the well. The castle was burnt by a Scottish army in 1341 and rebuilt in 1360. Again in 1541 it was burnt and wasn't restored until the 17th Century but following this it gradually fell into ruins. The castle was built on a steep hill and I took my photo as I walked towards it making it appear laid back.The moles had certainly been busy in the grounds.

There wasn't a lot of the castle left but I can see why they built it here as it commanded a good view in all directions and had a ready water supply from the river.

From here we went to Kirby Stephen where we enjoyed a pub lunch of freshly cooked fish and chips at the King Arms. We explored the town itself and Richard bought a new beanie hat. There was a small wool / fabric shop that I had a search through and found some fabric with penguins on to use in my hexie quilt. I haven't taken a photo of it but I'll show you when I use it. We were going to have a look at the church but a school was using it for their end of term Easter service. 

The church was reached from the market square through the Old Cloisters which was built with money left by John Waller a resident of the town. The church itself is known as the Cathedral of the Dales and is unusual as it serves both the Anglican and Catholic congregations of the area. The cloisters served to keep the church goers dry and was also used as the butter market.

On the wall inside the cloister was this plaque with the regulations of the market

We enjoyed walking round the town and discovering its history. We finished our day by buying food for dinner and then headed home. The fire was lit and as there was still some daylight left John and Richard headed out for a brief walk. Scamp and I settled down to watch Mama Mia and some stitching.

Thursday was dry but overcast. We planned to drive to Brough and Brougham to visit the castles and do some walking. We didn't leave until after lunch as the journey wasn't very far and we were all feeling a little tired.  Walking through the town we came across these knitted bits on the railings by the waterfall

They had been knitted as a fundraiser but I can't remember what the money was being raised for.  There was also an advert for the 'knitted bible' which was on display over the Easter weekend. It would have been interesting to see but we were going home on Friday and so would miss it. There is a Facebook page for it if you want to find out more about it.

Just over the railings the waterfall was crashing through the town.

The castle was built around 1200 and much later had more comfortable living quarters added by the  Clifford family but it was burnt down following a Christmas party in 1521. The castle was restored in the 17th Century by Lady Anne Clifford but after her death it again fell into ruin.

In the grounds there were sheep with young lambs

As we arrive one lamb had just been born so we enjoyed the sight from a distance and left the sheep to get to know her baby.

The farm next door to the castle made ice cream and had a tea room but wasn't dog friendly so since it was getting colder we headed back to the car and made it just before it started to sleet. We decided to make our way back to the cottage rather than travelling on any further. After all, over the week we had ticked everything on our to do list - visit lots of waterfalls, visit a castle, see some very young lambs and enjoy walking in the dales. In addition we had all caught up on much needed sleep, managed to do some reading and I had done some hand stitching. We needed to do a little tidying as we had to leave by 10 a.m. the next day and we also needed to be back in London by early evening as Kathryn had got tickets for the Modigliani exhibition at the Tate Modern for 9 p.m.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about our trip to Yorkshire. In the car on the way home we started planning our next holiday. This time we plan on visiting the coast, probably in Dorset.

Last evening I didn't get any time for stitching as we had agreed to pick Lucy and Dan up from Stansted airport at 11:30. Their flight from Berlin was delayed by an hour and once it landed they were held quite a time before a gate became available for them to disembark so it was very late when we got home. 

This morning I completed some work for my job and now I have some time to get my sewing machine out. I may start the quilting on my compass quilt and I need to finalise my sewing  plans for the next couple of months.


Monday 2 April 2018

Hawes, Hardraw and Easter

Due to poor, OK none existent internet connection last week I'm way behind in telling you about the rest of our trip to Yorkshire. At the beginning of the week I managed to have internet access via my phone but as the week went on the weather deteriorated and with it my network. Admittedly we were staying in a cottage perched on the edge of the hillside at the head of the valley of Wensleydale. This dale is probably best known as the area where the cheese beloved by Wallace and Grommit comes from. We were going to visit the creamery and see how the cheese is made but we decided against the idea as one of us would have had to find something else to do as no dogs were allowed and we don't leave him in the car on his own.

On Tuesday we drove to Hawes and enjoyed seeing the lambs in the fields. Hawes is a pretty little market town and is the highest in England, at 850 feet above sea water. Hawes is an old market place being recorded in 1307. A market still takes place on a Tuesday so the town was quite busy. We took our time walking round the town, enjoying the old buildings and cobbled streets. The roads are narrow through the main area so a one way system keeps the traffic flowing. The town also has it's own waterfall. If you love waterfalls Yorkshire is definitely the area to come to.

I love the noise of waterfalls and get mesmerised watching the water. The Wensledale creamery is in Hawes but we made our way to the rope-maker.  We had visited here years ago when holidaying with my parents when the children were small. Since then the business had grown and their premises as well.  You can read about their history here They make a wide range of products including dog leads so Scamp left the building proudly sporting his new red rope lead.

During the week you are able to go into the workshop and watch the rope being made. The workshop is very long which allows for a long length of rope to be twisted. We watched as a black and white thick rope was made. I thought there would be another rope created and I could have taken a photo but it was the last part of an order and the rope maker went off to complete the job.

They make bannister ropes and when we finish our renovations on our house we plan to have a rope bannister on the wall side of the stairs. I just love all the colours

This machine was spinning a cord, you can just about see the threads from the smaller cones on the floor going up to hooks in the ceiling and down to be twisted by the machine.

They had several off cuts of the braids and cords that you could take so I picked up several for use when trying to teach the guides how to tie various knots. They also had a machine that knitted the cords but I forgot to take a picture. It created very colourful cords and we almost bought a dog lead made from it but we wanted a traditional rope lead.

Here is a picture of the outside of the rope makers workshop. There is another building off to the right which houses further work area, the office and the shop.

By this time we were all feeling hungry so decided to find somewhere for lunch. What we found was Laburnum House, that catered for bed and breakfast but was also a tea room and dog friendly. I  have taken this photo from their website.

Gallery image of this property

The lunch was very enjoyable, tasty and reasonably priced. Scamp was given a dog treat and provided with water so he thought it was great. It was small inside, besides what you see here there was only one other table. These two couples also had a dog with them.

After lunch we decided to walk to Hardraw Force which was only about one and a half miles. We followed the marked footpaths but the ground was very soft from the rain and we'd only gone half way when it started to seriously rain so we decided to make our way back to the car and drive there.

The last time I visited Hardraw it was a very dry summer and there was hardly any water but this time it was flowing well but not as impressive as sometimes. The water has carved out the bowl around the waterfall over years.  This is one of England's largest single drop waterfalls being over 100 feet

I spent some time watching the water, keeping my eye on one area and following it down as it fell. This was a game I loved to play as a child.

After the water fall we headed for home as the weather was turning colder. Once there we lit the fire for a really cosy evening. I'll tell you some more of our trip tomorrow. Yesterday was Easter day and I hope you all had a good day. Our church always has a dawn service on Easter day and when at home John and I like to go. After the service we all share a cooked breakfast in the church hall and John is roped in to cook the eggs. It's a chance to spend some time with friends over a meal

Later in the day Kathryn and Olly came over for dinner and we enjoyed some family time. The meal was delicious and the talk flowed freely. Sitting chatting after dinner I managed to complete some stitching on Abigail. 

Not much but a little bit of Slow Sunday Stitching. I'm linking this post with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching link up.

My plans for today are to get my sewing machine out but before that I have a couple of chores to do. I thought I would also try and set a sewing goal for April. I think I may be getting back into the rhythm of sewing.