Saturday 30 November 2019

Just slipping in under the wire

This week has been a low productivity week for sewing but I have cleared a lot of paperwork and long overdue projects for work. However in the middle of juggling my work life I remembered to ask John to bring my second machine downstairs so I could finish off my Christmas quilt top. I'd taken the machine upstairs as there is a nice sized desk that I could make use of for quilting and that would mean the machine could sit on there ready for use whenever I wanted it. There it has sat because I like working at the dining table and being part of what's happening in the house.  

Anyway John carried the machine downstairs and I pulled out the Christmas quilt thinking it would be a really quick job to get it finished. The machine had thread that was perfect for piecing in both the top and the bobbin so no need to sort that out. I turned it all on and had a little fiddle to try and remind myself how it all worked and I was ready to go. The fabric was under the needle and I put my foot on the pedal  which met with alarms going off and the needle being broken. I'd forgotten that there are three needle positions and when using the quarter inch foot the needle has to be in the middle position. Then I needed to check the manual as I couldn't remember how to change the needle or how the self threading mechanism worked. Eventually I was ready to go again and this time everything worked well. Within 15 minutes the quilt top was complete and John was available so I could take a photo..

This was my one monthly goal for November and I pleased to have it completed to this point.

November OMG FINISH link-up is open!

I can't move on with this quilt until next week as I need to buy some backing fabric. I have the wadding and what I need for the binding. The quilt finishes at 68 inches square and will be really easy to quilt on the big machine. I'll have a play at some practice free motion quilting later tomorrow so I remember how it all works. Don't ask why I haven't been using this machine since its stitch is amazing. I think it's because I've had the Elna for so long it's part of the family. It's great for dressmaking and repairing things but does cause a lot of problems when I use it to quilt things. It's got to go for a full service so I'll take this opportunity to bond with the quilting machine.

I'm linking this post with Patty of Elm Street Quilts for the November finish link up I'm also linking with Sarah for Can I get a Whoop Whoop

I've got several jobs I need to finish today but I'm hoping to grab some time to finish the second elf slipper this evening and I must make my Christmas cake.


Sunday 24 November 2019

A little stitching

On my day off on Friday i managed to get some sewing done on my Christmas quilt before my machine started to play up. I put it away to deal with this coming week as I was going away for the weekend. I'll write a separate post on our adventures as I have some photos to show you.

When we got to the house we'd rented for the weekend it was quite late but I wasn't feeling particularly tired so I decided to cast on the stitches for the second elf slipper. I'd knitted 8 rows when I realised I'd made the same mistake as I did on the first slipper, so I pulled it all out. On Saturday I restarted the knitting and managed to complete the first 4 rows, getting the pattern correct this time. Other than that there wasn't any time for stitching the rest of our trip.

This evening time was limited because we didn't get home until 7 p.m. Having re-organised my embroidery bag I had gone through them all and noted how far I'd got with each of the projects. I still have to finish a couple of the bag ladies. I also need to find Millicent as she is still missing in action but I have found Thelma. Anyway this week I'm going to be working on Earlene. She was the last bag lady we worked on when I joined Barbara from Cat Patches for her stitch along. I've never quite completed her.

There isn't much left to do on this so I'm hoping to complete it by next Sunday. All the floss I was using was in the packet with Earlene.  I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching  Do pop over to see what everyone has been working on. For now I'm going to get back to my stitching as I want to see this bag lady finished.


Friday 22 November 2019

Not quite a finish.

This week I worked Monday through Thursday and during that time had very little space for any sewing, embroidery or any other creative activity. Today was a day off and I was hoping to finish up the Christmas quilt top. I'd left it at the point that I had the blocks in the three rows sewn together and so today I wanted to sew the rows together and add the two borders. All was going well and I had the rows together and the inner border attached. I was adding the second side of the outer border when the needle broke for no apparent reason. Not a problem as I keep a good supply of different sized and types of needles, so the problem was soon resolved. I started sewing and the machine just didn't sound right and the stitch was awful. I spent a lot of time playing with the tension, I tried other needles. I even cleaned the bobbin compartment but there was minimal fluff. In the end I gave up and put my sewing away. I'll try and get the tension right when I get back from our weekend in Suffolk and if it still doesn't work then the machine will need a spa day to relax and unwind and  have the problem sorted out. I have another machine so I will get the quilt top finished but it is a little annoying. I put the quilt over a chair to take a photo since I was home alone. I'd been wondering where my quilting companion had been and found him on the back of the chair fast asleep. You can just see the dark shape. I didn't turn the light on as I didn't want to disturb him.

Here is a little more of the quilt. When I've finished it I'll get someone to hold it for me. The quilt will be 64 x 64 inches when complete.

I love the way the green stars look and they work so much better than a gold or yellow would have done.

John and I will be away in Suffolk walking this weekend but I've packed some hand stitching and my elf slipper knitting. I'm taking my camera as always but not sure if the weather is going to lend itself to photos. 

I'm linking this post with Sarah for Can I get a whoop whoop  If it hadn't been for the machine this would have been a finish but no problems as it will be in the very near future. For now I'm more than happy to have got this far with it. It's almost time to start thinking about which of my many projects to move forward next month.


Sunday 17 November 2019

Slow cross stitching

On Saturday it was a completely none sewing day here. I had planned to sew the sashing between the three rows of the Christmas quilt but in the end life got in the way. My plan for the day was to clean our living room and dining room to within an inch of its life and then have a long sewing session in the afternoon. I got really into doing the cleaning and ended up going a little wild, dusting and polishing everything, cleaning the floor with the special polish it has to keep it looking good, and sorting the drawers in the dresser. It does look beautiful and the exercise was good for me. We were in the middle of eating lunch when older daughter phoned to see if we could help her out by going over to her flat and waiting for the windscreen repair guy to turn up as she needed to go to work. He should have arrived at 1:30 but turned up two hours later. We lost the afternoon but she did treat us to cakes and their car is now usable and secure again. 

Yesterday evening I did some more knitting on the elf slippers but first I pulled it all out. I decided I was knitting too tight, a problem I have when knitting and watching a scary programme on TV. As I started to re knit it I realised I had misread the pattern so it was a good job I pulled it all out. I got my head round both the pattern and the tension and by the time I went to bed was further ahead than I had been.

Today I had a couple of cupboards I wanted to sort out. I'm trying to get ride of things that I haven't used in a long time (I mean a long time not just 6 months or a year). By lunch time there was a bag of things to go to the charity shop and a full bag of rubbish. So then I had time to decide what I want to work on this evening and over the week. Having sorted out my embroidery bag I had found this little cross stitch.

The even weave behind the pattern is much more pink in real life. This little piece is perfect for an up coming event. This is my slow stitching for this week.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching I'm going to pop over and see what everyone has been up to this week.


Friday 15 November 2019

Sewing and a finish.

Today was my day off and so I'd set aside time for sewing but I'd also planned to do some more marking. First I had to take Picasso to the vet for his yearly check up and vaccinations. The vet was both surprised and pleased at how fit and well he is and how young he looks. Picasso is now 18 but he behaves like a much younger cat. Earlier this year he was unwell. We got him from Battersea cats and dogs home when he was about a year or 2 years old. He had spent his life living in a high rise block of flats and in trying to get out he'd fallen quite a distance which damaged his right back leg. His leg was injured a few months back and the vet gave him some medication to relieve his pain. Unfortunately the medication damaged his kidneys and we were told he'd only live a few weeks at the most. He's been on his renal diet since then, has put on weight and he is enjoying life once more. Having had his vaccinations he spent most of the day napping but he's been out and about this evening until it started raining.

Once home and having given Picasso a long cuddle I got my sewing out. My first job was to make and then trim 64 half square triangles. Trimming blocks really does put quite a strain on my wrist but it means everything goes together much better. Press the fast forward button and by the time I stopped for the day I had attached the sashing to make three rows of the quilt. 

I hadn't got any space to take photos of the rows because Lucy was preparing to travel to Stuttgart for a long weekend and she was packing her bag and getting ready to leave.  Getting the quilt to this point should have been fairly quick and easy but the pattern I was using gave the wrong measurements for the sashing and I didn't spot the mistake. Fortunately the sashing was sized too big which meant I had some unpicking, re-cutting and re-sewing to do.  I still need to alter the sashing pieces that will join the rows together but that can wait until tomorrow.

Having finished sewing and having made a trip to the shops for essential supplies (milk so I could have a cup of tea), I settled down to finish sewing up the sleeve seams on John's jumper. I also had some ends to sew in. Finally it was all done and John tried it on and agreed to a photo. 

Since the photo John hasn't taken his jumper off. It's great to have another finish.

This evening I'm working on the elf slippers and watching some TV. Tomorrow there will be more sewing and I'm hoping to finish the quilt top.

I'm linking this post with Sarah for Can I get a whoop whoop  and also with Finished or not Friday


Monday 11 November 2019

Remembering and being thankful

Today is Remembrance Day, in fact the 100th Remembrance Day since the end of the first world war. If I was working today I would join with the rest of the university staff and students for 2 minutes silence at 11 a.m. to remember the fallen in all conflicts and the Veterans and current military personnel. I am very thankful for their service in keeping our country safe.

why was veterans day once called armistice 2019

Having spent the morning and early afternoon marking I awarded myself sewing time. I still have marking to do but I have a relatively free day tomorrow so I can get it done at work.I'm going to take my headphones with me to cut out the noise in our open plan office, avoid eye contact with everyone and slowly work through my long list of things I must get done. 

I managed to complete the remaining 3 blocks for the Christmas quilt . All the blocks went together well and they look so colourful and fun. The blocks make me feel so happy. So now I have all 9 blocks complete.

My next job was to cut the sashing and the fabric for the remaining friendship stars.

Finally I marked the diagonal on the background fabric so I can get on and make the half square triangles tomorrow evening.

This evening I was going to complete John's jumper by stitching up the sleeve seams but I've changed my mind. Instead I wanted to start the knitting on the elf slippers so I pulled out the yarn and the pattern and found the right sized needles. All ready to get started. 

I'm really enjoying making time to work on my projects. It's quite amazing just how much you can get done in a short space of time such as half an hour.


Sunday 10 November 2019

Fast, slow stitching

This morning I got up early as I wanted to squeeze in a little sewing before I started on my marking. Having given Picasso some cuddle time I was able to set the machine on the table and get my project box. I managed to complete 3 more blocks before I needed to stop so now I have 6 blocks completed and 3 more to make. Hopefully I'll have time to make them tomorrow. I'm not posting a picture of the completed blocks because they look very similar to ones I posted yesterday. If I have a little space later I'll start cutting the sashing. There are friendship blocks in the sashing so this will take a little longer to complete.

I spent the rest of the morning and all through the afternoon marking and I managed to finish all the papers I needed to do. Not that they are actual papers, everything is uploaded to the TurnItin. 

That left me free this evening for some slow stitching. Well slow knitting to be exact. I needed to pick up stitches from the front of the yoke , knit across the stitches on the stitch holder and then pick up down the other yoke front. That done I embarked on knitting the collar. The first ten rows were straight forward knit two, purl two but then I had to do something new to me. To shape the collar I needed to knit short rows. I followed the instructions to the letter including the part about wrapping a stitch and turning. It all went rather well and I managed to complete the whole collar.

I can't remember the last time I knitted so quickly. I was adamant I would finish the knitting tonight. By knitting faster than usual I don't need to stay up ridiculously late. Now all I need to do to finish the jumper is stitch the sleeve seams and attach the bottom edge of the collar to the bottom of the yoke.. I'll try to do that tomorrow evening. It's great to be so close to a finish as it seems ages since the last time I finished any thing. My only panic is about how good a fit it will be. I'm not sure why I'm panicking as it's knitted in John's size and the tension is right to give that size. Do you panic if you're making an item of clothing for someone?

I'm linking  this post to Kathy's Slow Sunday stitching Pop over and see what everyone's been working on. there always lots of lovely stitching eye candy.

I've more marking to do tomorrow but I shall be making time for sewing at some point during the day and I also want to make my Christmas cake.  For now I need to go to bed and sleep.


Saturday 9 November 2019

Making Blocks

Today we had an open day at work for potential students. It isn't a long day as we are open 10 till 3 but during that time we have lots of visitors and I always go home feeling very tired. Considering that all we do is talk to the potential students and their parents or partners there isn't really a reason to feel so tired but I do. Whilst driving home I made plans for the evening, a cup of tea, a short nap and then catching up on some reading. My plans changed once home and after I'd enjoyed my tea. I pulled out my Christmas quilt and started to put the blocks together. I managed to get three done before I stopped for the evening. There are 9 blocks in all to make so this was a good start. 

I'm hoping to get the other six done over the next two days. I have to do some marking tomorrow so it can't be a day of nothing but sewing. I'm feeling very positive about completing this quilt top this month.

Yesterday evening we went to the Tate Modern to see the Olafur Eliasson exhibition. Eliasson is a Danish-Icelandic artist whose work includes immersive installations, sculptures, photography and paintings. His art features three important interests, his concern with nature, his research into geometry and ongoing investigations into how we perceive, feel about and shape the world around us.

This wasn't an exhibition where I took loads of photos. The first room picked up on his research into geometry and it contain many models or prototypes. It was interesting to see the geometric shapes.

He uses a vast variety of materials in his work. One of the exhibits was a room filled with fog. I went through it because I thought it would be a short walk but it seemed to go on for ever and I found it difficult to breath.  When I looked at a map of the exhibition I found it was a long and narrow room. I wish I'd realised before I went into it..There were also lights changing colours and that completely disorientated me. All in all I found that part of the evening very unpleasant. I did like this piece.

The sphere created patterns on the ceiling and walls.

There were several exhibits that involved convex shapes. Me upside down taking a picture.

I missed out the room with the strobe lighting as I was still feeling unsettled from the 'fog'. John went into the light room but was unimpressed.

In the turbine hall there was this large piece that i think was done by another artist.

Walking back along the embankment I took these photos across the river.

I love the coloured light under the bridge.

I also liked the large poppy on the building. Tomorrow is Remembrance Day here in the UK. Just before we reached the station I took a couple of pictures of The Shard.

The first one shows more of the building but the second shows the top and it looks like it's blowing out black smoke through an open mouth.

I didn't really engage with the exhibition fully but I did find bits of it interesting. It was late night opening and there were far to many people visiting for me to feel comfortable.

I'm going to get up early to fit some sewing in before getting on with the marking. I hope it's a little warmer and the rain stops soon.


Friday 8 November 2019

Seeing stars

Today I had a day off and having done a little tidying up I got my machine out and settled down to make 18 friendship stars. I had already made the half square triangles but I needed to trim them all. By the time I'd done that my hands were hurting with pins and needles. A quick cup of tea soon restored me and I was ready to start sewing. All 18 stars are now finished but I still have to trim them.

I'm working tomorrow as we have an open day for prospective students, so I won't be doing any sewing but maybe I'll spend some time knitting tomorrow evening. I still have the collar of John's jumper to finish. Following sorting through my embroidery projects I still haven't found Thelma or the cat cross stitch. Not to worry as I have several places I could have put them. My embroidery project that I'm working on is in a Tupperware box and all the others are now stashed in my owl tote bag.

It feels good to have it all in one place.

When I last wrote about John's jumper I commented on the different names we give this item of clothing and it led me to look the names up in the Oxford dictionary. Here's what I found.

Pullover - a knitted garment put on over the head and covering the top half of the body.

Sweater - a pullover with long sleeves

This then means that a pullover can be short or long sleeved or have no sleeves at all.I'd never heard the term pullover used in the context of short sleeves but John told me that he always called something with short sleeves a pullover.

Jumper - this has two definitions 1. a sweater or pullover.  2.  a pinafore dress

Finally what is a jersey. Well this one has 4 definitions and not all related to clothing.

Jersey -  1.  A knitted garment with long sleeves,  2. A distinctive shirt worn by a participant in certain sports.  3. A soft knitted fabric.  4. An animal of the breed of light brown dairy cattle from Jersey in the Channel Islands.

Thank you for your comments on what you call this item of clothing. It seems in the UK they can all be used to mean the same thing.

This evening I'm going out with John, Katy and Lucy. We are heading to the Tate Modern to visit an exhibition by Olafur Eliasson and then going for dinner. I haven't come across work by this artist before so tonight will be fun as I love discovering new to me things. I'm not sure if photography is allowed but I'll take my camera with me in case it is.

Katy came to our house from work and bought me these beautiful iris. I love having cut flowers in the house when the weather outside in grey and raining.

Now I must get ready to go out. I need to get my travel card as we will be travelling by tube. 


Tuesday 5 November 2019

Fireworks and monthly goals.

Image result for fireworks

Today in the UK is Fireworks night. The event celebrates the fact that the gunpowder plot did not succeed. The plot was an assassination attempt on King James 1 by English Catholics. The plot was led by Robert Catesby  who wanted greater religious tolerance. Unfortunately this hadn't been forth coming and so the plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on November 5th 1605.The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter and on the 4th November Guy Fawkes was found under the House of Lords guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder. The conspirators fled London with several being caught and shot. The remainder were rounded up and stood trial. they were found guilt and hanged. We still celebrate that the plot did not succeed and that the Kind survived. Fireworks have been going 'bang' for some time this evening and Scamp is getting very stressed. Picasso on the other hand loves fireworks and likes to sit on the window ledge and watch them. Kathryn and Olly have gone to an organised firework display and they've WhatApped a photo of Katy enjoying candyfloss.

Whilst all the fun is going on outside  I have been deciding my monthly goal for November,

November OMG link-up is open!

Using the monthly goal as a motivational experience I managed to finish the main bulk of the knitting on John's jumper. All I have left to do is the collar and that shouldn't take long. This month I want my goal to be a sewing project. Having remembered that I had started a new Christmas quilt I decided this should be my goal for this month. The pieces are all cut.

Pieces have been put into sets ready for stitching 

9 patches and match stick men are all made.

The quilt needs friendship stars, and several are already made but I have also made a lot of half square triangles ready to make more .

At the moment the top is still a load of individual pieces but I reckon I could put it all together into a quilt top in a month. This is doable right?

I'm linking this post with Patty at Elm Street Quilts for November One Monthly Goal

Tomorrow I am running our Brownie and Guide units so there will be no sewing happening. I'll be back on Thursday. Take care


Monday 4 November 2019

No Slow stitching

Yesterday, Sunday is set aside for some slow Sunday stitching. Those of you who follow my blog know I have a variety of different projects on the go at any one time and I work on them in no particular order . The only time this changes is if I have a deadline I need to meet. My only deadline at the moment is to finish John's jumper but I need a break from it for a few days. Even with a break it should be finished by the end of the week. The jumper is in an aran weight wool and therefore rather heavy. My arms need a bit of a rest.

I was thinking about what stitching to do yesterday when I decided that I'd sort out my various embroidery projects before I got started. I had recently been given some cross stitch kits and I knew there were some of the free kits from magazines in amongst them. These I don't usually stitch up. I tend to keep the fabric and the embroidery floss and use them to make gift tags. 

I started by culling the unwanted freebie cross stitch kits. I ended up with a pile of floss and smaller pieces of Aida and even-weave. Next I got my project note book and made a list of all the projects. I originally had 6 embroidery pieces I was working on but now I have 24 listed. The ones I had been given I checked carefully to ensure the kits were complete. 

In looking at my 6 original projects I found that I had a bag lady missing! I know I had Thelma but she seems to have gone walk about.

I had started to stitch Thelma but hadn't finished her. I turned my sewing cupboard upside down but to no avail. I just can't find her anywhere. 

As I went through more of my projects I realised that I couldn't find the cat cross stitch I had been working on.

Maybe the cat has run off with Thelma to have a better life. I need to have a serious search for them both, especially Thelma as I'm one bag lady short of enough for a full quilt.

By the time I'd logged all the projects having gone through my embroidery bag it was too late for slow Sunday stitching but I had a much better idea of what I need to do and finish. I need to work out a way to rotate the projects so they all get worked on.

Today I've been at work and got home quite late so I ended up watching TV to relax. Hopefully tomorrow night I'll get home earlier and get some time for stitching.


Sunday 3 November 2019

The early bird catches the cars

Every year since 1927 a veteran car run has been held in England, running from Hyde Park in London to Brighton, a distance of 60 miles. The cars gather at 6 a.m. with many of the drivers and passengers dressed in period costume. The run was founded to commemorate the Emancipation Run of 1896. The original run celebrated the repeal of the Red Flag Act . Under this act all cars had to have a man with a red flag walk in front of them when they were being driven. The repeal of the Act abolished the need for the red flag and raised the speed limit to 14 miles an hour. On the open roads now the only time our cars go that slowly is in a traffic jam! The event is the world's longest running motoring event and this year there were more than 400 pre 1905 cars entered. Until last year there was only one route the cars followed through London but last year, to help reduce traffic issues the London section was split into two routes and one of them brings the cars fairly close to where I live. This morning I was up early and armed with my camera and accompanied by Scamp I went to watch the cars go past. If you don't like cars or old stuff feel free to skip this post.

The two guys above had to stop a little further down the road to do some running repairs. There's hardly anything in the engine compartment. With my car it's rammed full of engine and washer bottles and other 'stuff'

It was difficult to get good clear pictures as the cars were definitely travelling at more that 14 mph.

These two above  had already raided the picnic basket for a warm drink

Warm hats and blankets were needed as the temperature was only 6 degrees Celsius

There was a lot of laughter and everyone waved as they passed us.

The driver of this car is going to wish he had a hat by the time they reach Brighton

I wasn't sure who was driving the car below. It was coming towards me but the guy at the front was facing backwards.

The cars are all start at separate times  so mostly there were gaps between them but sometimes there was a run of several cars together.

The run takes place early so that there is less traffic on the roads and what traffic there is tends to be very respectful and careful of the veteran cars and their passengers, however seconds after I took this photo a double decker bus went down the inside of the car below and terrified the ladies on the back seat.

One or two people who were out and about were like me, there because we wanted to see the cars but many were very confused as to what was going on. I had to keep explaining it to people and several folks from other countries responded with 'ahh the crazy British again' when they learned what it was about. It was a fun way to start the day.

I'll be back  later f some Slow Sunday Stitching. For now I need to take Scamp for a longer walk. He wasn't very impressed with the cars and prefers a trip to the common.