Monday 30 March 2020

Slow stitching.

Sunday was a very cold day here in London and at one point we had snow, sleet, rain and hail all happening one after the other. Add in the wind and it made for an unpleasant day. I needed some milk and to post some letters but other than that we stayed indoors and watched the weather happen through the window. I had some household chores to do but I also had time to do some stitching. I'd  been hoping to get Constance finished this month and sure enough the last stitch was added during the morning.

I want to do some work on my millennium sampler but I also want to finish up these bag ladies, after all I started them in 2017. I pulled out the next lady to be finished which is Mildred.

I've already done quite a bit of stitching on her but there is still a lot left to do. At the same time I pulled out Luna Lapin.

I cut out the pieces for the rabbit and then realised that the last thing I needed to do was start a new stitching project. Having finished a couple of WIP's recently I have some space so will aim to get this made. I need to order some toy stuffing as I haven't got any left but I have everything else I need.

In a few minutes I need to link up with my students so blogging and stitching will have to wait until this evening. In the meantime I'm linking this with Kathy for her Slow Stitching Sunday.

Stay safe


Friday 27 March 2020

March One monthly goal

Working from home always sounds fabulous. My friends who've retired have told me I'll have lots of time for sewing, reading, gardening etc. The reality is different. To teach remotely is a lot more work than going into a classroom and presenting the material, running tutorials, seminars and marking. Not of course, that those activities are the limit of face to face teaching but you can switch things to suit the mood of the students or if their trains are delayed so half the group is late. Not so remotely, if the session is booked between time A and time B that is when it must happen or should happen. The problems start at that point because the students don't all have a computer, many access the teaching platform on their phones but that doesn't work well for group face to face over the internet. Some of the students who have a computer and internet are very IT challenged and are finding the whole time stressful and finally the internet is having serious trouble coping with everyone trying to use it at the same time for a whole range of things. I have a lot of additional activities prepared and already on the platform, such as quizzes, questions to answer, scenarios to work through but I need more to help the students who are struggling with the IT. My poor brain is feeling rather over worked and every so often I find myself just sitting and gazing out of the window with no thoughts in my head. Help is at hand in the form of stitching. Thank goodness!

The up side of working from home is that the travelling time has become additional stitching time. This means I have completed some projects. I always love a good finish, it's so much fun to celebrate. First there is my Christmas quilt. I finished sewing on the binding on Thursday evening. It is now packed away ready to appear later in the year. This quilt is so pretty that it makes me smile and I'm so pleased I decided to use green as the accent colour for the stars and the binding.

This was my main goal for March but I set myself a second goal and I also completed that. I'd started a knitted scarf for my brother after he lost the one I knitted him years ago. He asked for a scrappy scarf that was bright and colourful. This one certainly fits the bill. It measure 6 foot 6 inches long so he can wrap it round his neck a couple of times. It's now parcelled up and ready to go to the post office.

It was quick and easy to knit being just garter stitch. Sewing in all the ends took a bit of time but I finished that last night whilst watching Wallander.

I was hoping to have finished Constance this month but there is still a little to do on her....but the month doesn't finish for a few more days so I may slide that one in under the wire.

Today Lucy asked me to make her some pads from cotton fabric to use when taking her makeup off. She loves rabbits and I found this fun fabric with Easter bunnies, chicks and lambs on it to use. One pile of face wipes, one happy daughter.

So having finished two projects I am now allowing myself to start something new. I'm not sure what it will be yet but I do have some fun fabrics to play with. Plus my favourite quilt shop is still open for on line orders so I'm off to make a few decisions.

I'm linking this post with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for the March one monthly goal link up.

I hope you are all well, take care and stay safe.


Sunday 22 March 2020

Stitching on a Sunday.

After a real rollercoster of a week it is so calming to have reached Sunday and to sit and do some hand stitching. Today I have been working on my Christmas quilt . I've just got the binding to hand stitch to the back of the quilt and yesterday I made a start on it. The quilt is 70 inches square so there's quite a lot of stitching to do.

I've got two corners left to stitch round but I've only got 6 inches to stitch before the corner and once I turn corner 4 I've only got 4 inches left to finish. It sounds such a quick job when you say it like that.

This week I've also been knitting the scarf for my brother .It's almost long enough but once the knitting is done I'll have lots of ends to stitch in. This is replacement for a scarf I made him when he was still at school. Somehow he's lost that scarf and asked for a replacement.

Constance is almost complete but not quite. I need to hunt out my metallic thread for her earrings and bracelet and finish the polka dots on her dress. I haven't taken a picture to show my progress.

I hope you are all taking care of yourselves and also of others. Covid 19 really has turned everyone's lives upside down. Here in the UK today was Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday.  I know many families have been unable to celebrate as they would have liked.  I've been lucky because I was able to spend it with two of my three children. Unfortunately it's many years since my mother died but I think of her everyday. You are in my thoughts always Mom.

Lucy made a magnificent lemon cheesecake to celebrate Mother's Day. It was yummy and there's still a lot left to enjoy tomorrow.

From tomorrow I'm teaching my students remotely. This is a new experience for both me and them. I'm not sure how it will work but we'll give it our best shot and no doubt it will get easier and better with practice.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching. Pop over and see what everyone's been working on.

Take Care


Thursday 19 March 2020

Working from home

Since I last wrote a post life has been a bit of a rollercoster. Well when I say a 'bit' I mean it's been totally manic. Last week my diary was full of meetings and teaching. On Saturday John, Lucy and I went to Suffolk for some walking and then back to the rat race in time for Monday. On Monday morning we received emails to ask us to prepare alternative assessments for our students who would be taking exams. Just in case! Then on Tuesday morning we heard that we would possibly pause face to face teaching by the end of the week and needed to make arrangements for remote teaching.  By the evening  so I need a quick trip to the fabric sho.face to face teaching had been paused and we had a rota for which staff would come in on different days so we could limit the number of staff in the building  from next Monday. Today the message was we needed to take everything we would need for working remotely with us at the end of the day. So now I am working from home for the foreseeable future. Since I need to use video links with students I need to set up an area at home where I can do this without risking being interrupted. So much to get prepared and so little time to organise it  But that will have to wait as tomorrow is my day off and I'm going to sew sew sew!

Tomorrow I'm going to make the second curtain and then I can get them up at the window. The first curtain has been sat on my desk waiting for its partner.

I also want to make new curtains for my bedroom. That's going to take a trip to the fabric shop but John thinks we should stay home. If they do restrict  travel in the near future then I won't be able to get the fabric so I'd like to go and get it tomorrow. I'm going to have extra time to sew since I won't waste time with travelling every day.

Although it's been manic I've still managed to do a little work on Constance. I had hoped to have her finished but I've been so tired by the time I get home. 

Oops I published this post instead of saving. Never mind I'll continue where I left off tomorrow.

Take care.


Tuesday 10 March 2020

Enjoying the purr

I only work 4 days and today was my day off. I normally try and add my day off to the weekend but currently I teach a class on Mondays so I had to go into work. If I can't add my day off to the weekend I like to take it on a Wednesday as then I work 2 days have a day off and only have to work another 2 days to get to the weekend. I needed to do some cleaning before I could have fun so I swiftly cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom, feed the washing machine and tidied things away. I also wanted to mark 3 essays and decided to do that next so I would have the rest of the day and into the evening free to do just what I wanted. 

On Sunday I'd joined the fabric for my curtains and planned to try and get them made today. I knew it was a tall order as the curtains are double width of fabric and fairly long so it was going to be a heavy job. I needed to stitch the widths of lining fabric together and then put the whole curtain together. I had a little help from Picasso. He lay on the fabric and had a good roll leaving lots of fur on it. so I had an extra job to do. He also enjoyed himself pulling out the pins I'd used and dropping them on the floor. All this was done accompanied by very loud purring. Before I started any sewing I took time out for a cuddle with him and finally he settled down for a nap and I was then able to get on with the job. Here's the curtain fabric ready to go.

It wasn't just Picasso purring today, my machine joined in as it zipped up the seams. The slow part was pressing the fabric and and moving it around on the table. It made a change sewing some long seams. When I stopped for the day the first curtain was complete with header tape added and hem all done. All I need now is a day to make the second curtain.

Last evening I sat and stitched the binding on the baby quilt. Picasso was sat on my lap and purring loudly as usual. I put an old sheet between Picasso and the quilt so I didn't get any pet fur on it.  I got the job finished and now just need to get some wrapping paper to parcel up the quilt. 

After dinner I used the magic clips to fold the binding on the Christmas quilt and I started to stitch it down. I used the dark green for the binding, picking up on the fabric used for the stars. This will take several days to stitch as it's a big quilt being over 70 inches square.

I have problems using thimbles but stitching on the binding always leaves my fingers sore. Do you use a thimble and if so what sort. I'm trying the stick on ones at the moment. When I use a normal thimble I never seem to have it on the right finger or I need to push the needle with the side of the thimble and it slips.  I can use the stick on ones on more than 1 finger and they're comfortable to use. .

It's nearly time for bed now and Picasso is still purring.  My day off has certainly been a purrfect day. I've move some of my sewing projects forward and I've also had some planning time. In between Picasso and I have spent quite some time cuddling. Casso hasn't been well for several months. He's an old boy and his kidneys aren't working properly but he still loves life. Oddly as a kitten he wasn't keen on being held or cuddled but now he loves lots of contact and shows his satisfaction with very loud purring.

I'm really hoping to finish a couple more projects this month. We are away at the weekend as we're going walking with Lucy, so there won't be much time for sewing. I'll just have to be more organised in an evening to fit everything in. 


Sunday 8 March 2020

Sunday Sewing.

Happy International Women's Day

Image result for happy international womens day

I spent some time this morning thinking about how women are treated now against when I was just starting out as a young woman. There are so many more opportunities for women especially in choice of careers. However there is still a lot of ground to be won especially in relation to violence and sexual abuse against women. Thank you to all those women who have fought for my rights.

Today I started the next set of curtains I need to make. I've had the fabric a little while but I've constantly put off making a start as there is a pattern on the fabric that I need to match and I'd built up the idea in my head that it would be very difficult.  The problem is that the pattern doesn't match at the selvage but two inches into the fabric. We chose a patterned fabric as everything else in the room is solid colours.

However today was the day, I couldn't put it off any longer and in the end it proved quite straightforward. These are wide curtains with double width fabric and therefore they are rather heavy. Having done the pattern match and prepared the lining I've put them away until Tuesday when I have a day off. I will be home alone, except for Scamp and Picasso and I should be able to have the curtains finished and hanging at the window before anyone gets home from work.

Our trip away slowed me up on my hand stitching. I did a little sewing on the binding yesterday but after stitching about 10 inches I felt very tired and so went to bed. This evening I'm much more lively so will try and get the binding fully stitched on. I'm not working on any embroidery until I've finished this as John needs to gift it since the baby has already been born.

I'm linking with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. I hope you've had a good Sunday with some time for a little slow stitching. Take care.


Saturday 7 March 2020

Home from away

We arrived home this evening after a great couple of days away. I love our time away together, so relaxing and fun. Our plan for today had been to visit a castle and go for a walk but we changed our plans. Instead we visited a quilt shop and revisited Minsmere. I'm not sure why I suggested a change of plan but John was very pleased I did. As we walked towards one of the hides we came across a group of people with their binoculars trained on a rough area of bush. Of course we asked what they were looking at and were excited to learn they were watching adders. The snakes were too far away to take a photo so I borrowed this one from The Wildlife Trust.

Image result for adder snakes

There are 3 types of snakes in the UK, the smooth snake, the grass snake and the adder. The adder is a venomous snake but generally people don't die if bitten. They used to be quite common when I was young but their numbers have declined over the years. The last time I saw an adder I was 12 years old and John had never seen one which is why we were so excited. We saw 4 in total warming themselves in the sun. We were told that they were all males as the females wake later in the year than the males. The wardens said they expected the females to be out and about in a couple more weeks. After the excitement of the adders we spent some time watching the birds. 

On the way from our hotel to Minsmere we stopped at the quit shop in Bungay. I wanted to pick up some metallic embroidery thread and also some neutral fabric. I didn't get any thread but bought these fabrics

I bought the two fabrics on the left for an upcoming project and the neutral on the right is needed for another project. I saw the gorgeous blue fabric and just had to have some. I also bought these autumn buttons. They were just too cute to resist.

When we arrived home my subscription box had arrived. For the first time I really dislike the fabrics I've been sent. They really aren't the style I'd use and they appear very dated to me. Having said all that I will try to use them. I'll view it as a challenge.

When John and I visited the quilt show in February I bought these fabrics . Again these are for a project that I'll begin when I've finished up a couple of older projects.

Last evening I didn't manage any stitching as I was just too tired. I want the binding stitched down on the baby quilt so this will be my priority to complete this weekend. I love the fact we've had two nights away but still have the whole of Sunday to enjoy at home.  I've got about 20 minutes before I need to go to bed.


Friday 6 March 2020

Bird watching and walking.

This is day 2 of our short break and the day has been bright and sunny. The wind was cold this morning but lessened as the day went on. We both slept very well but then the bed is huge and so there is a lot of space to turn over and get really comfortable. Last night I sat and did a little stitching on the binding of the baby quilt but I only managed about 12 inches before I felt too tired and snuggled into bed. Maybe I'll do better tonight.

We've spent today bird watching and walking. We started the day at Titchwell, an RSPB site. We last visited here in January 2019 and we both remembered the soup we had for lunch. Today was a staff training day so the shop and the cafe were closed but we could still access the reserve. John was hoping to see a new bird spot and he wasn't disappointed. He'd never seen a woodcock but one had been spotted and another birdwatcher kindly showed John where to see it. I couldn't get a photo so I borrowed one from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust that was photographed by Neville Yardy.

I spent some time watching toads. As the water was heated by the sun they came to the surface and started to move about. They were difficult to spot as the surface of the pond had a lot of debris on it.

I also enjoyed watching a Little Egret. The bird scratched the bottom of the pool with his foot and then grabbed whatever came to the surface with his beak. They are very elegant birds.

I was trying to find a bearded tit or a reed bunting but there were no birds about in the reeds so I took this photo instead. 

Having spent a few hours at Titchwell we decided to drive on to Wells-next-the-sea. On the way we passed this windmill. I have always loved windmills so just had to take a photo.

Wells is very near the sea but not directly on it, hence it's name. The beach is about a mile away from the town but the town is a port and a channel winds it way through the marsh to the town. We enjoyed a cream tea before exploring the town which is quite small and we walked out to the beach. The photo is looking back at the harbour as we walked towards the beach

The Channel out to sea is marked with green and red buoys.

We passed these boats on the way to the beach.

The beach itself was sandy and there were a lot of pretty coloured beach huts. We decided not to go on the beach because we wanted to visit one other place and the day was starting to cool off.

Our final visit of the day was to Holkham National nature reserve to see some more birds. John didn't see any new bird species but he did see some birds that he hadn't seen for years so by the time we returned to our car to drive back to the hotel he was very happy. Our trips away are fun because we enjoy each others hobbies. A day of dry sunny weather also helps. The sun was setting as we got back to the car.

We are about to go down for dinner. Tomorrow we are hoping to visit a castle and enjoy a walk. It all depends on the weather. Then we travel home.


Thursday 5 March 2020

A short break away

John and I are away for a short break in Norfolk. We left London this morning and headed north on the A1 as far as Peterborough. When my parents were alive and we were visiting them we travelled past Peterborough but we never visited the city, so we decided that we'd take this route to our destination and do some exploring. I wasn't fully engaged with the idea of exploring when we left home this morning as it was raining heavily. I'm so bored with rain and I feel like I've developed webbed feet and may start quaking some time soon. Fortunately by the time we reached the city the rain had stopped and the sky wasn't too grey. We knew there was a cathedral so we decided to start there. Here's the front of the cathedral.

The inside was fairly stark except for the ceilings. Here's a view down the nave. Unusually the nave is open all the way down to the high altar.

I get side tracked very easily when visiting places and today I was side tracked by the ancient heaters. There were three (or four) of these down both sides of the cathedral length and they were sending out a lovely lot of heat. Since it was cold outside, with an even colder wind, it was a joy to slowly walk past them and feel the heat they emitted. 

The ceilings were very beautiful and very high so that my neck felt stiff from looking up. Sorry this photo is blurry but it shows the colours.

This one is rather dark but in focus.

This fanned ceiling was amazing.

This ceiling was in the chapel behind the altar

The bit that was missing from the visit for me was the textiles. There were some flags of the local military regiments and tapestry cushions on the seats in the choir, which were a great modern design but no other textiles on display. I found this very unusual and also a little disappointing.

The cathedral has a long history having started life as a monastery in 655 AD. Katharine of Aragon, first wife and Queen of Henry VIII was buried in the monastic church in 1536. Mary Queen of Scots was buried in the monastic church five months after being executed at Fotheringhay Castle in August 1587.  Her remains were later reburied at Westminster Abbey. You can read more of the history of the Cathedral  HERE 

We enjoyed a cup of coffee in the cathedral cafe and then took a walk around the city. The only other picture I took on the walk was of the corn exchange

This evening we've had a delicious meal at our hotel and I'm now going to do half an hour of stitching and then a little reading before settling to sleep. I've bought the baby quilt and Constance with me to work on in spare moments. I'll stitch some of the binding this evening.

We've several plans for tomorrow but they depend on the weather. Hopefully I will be able to post again tomorrow evening.


Monday 2 March 2020

March One Monthly Goal.

March OMG link-up is open!

It's that time of the month again when I need to decide what I want to achieve over the next 31 days.  In January I achieved my goal of completing the quilting on my Christmas quilt. I still need to stitch down the binding for a complete finish. Last month I wanted to finish the butterfly baby quilt and that has now been gifted. So what will it be this month?

I'm going for two goals. I want both of them finished and this way it will happen. First up is the Christmas quilt. All done except for stitching down the binding. This will give me a very pleasant hand stitching goal.

The binding picks up on the green used for the stars. This is a double quilt so will table some time to bind but means I get to snuggle under the quilt whilst stitching. A great job to do whilst watching a good movie.

My second goal is to finish up the scarf I'm knitting for Alex, my brother. It's a multicoloured long scarf to replace the one he's lost. There is still a length of knitting to do and I've got to sew in all the ends.

This scrappy stripy scarf is proving very useful at using up my scraps of yarn. I want to have this finished and ready to parcel up with his birthday present. His birthday is the 21st March and that should be very doable.

Finally as usual I would like to complete some embroidery. I have Constance to complete.

This shouldn't take long so I could then move on to another piece. I think it's high time I revisited my millennium sampler. This is my oldest UFO. I was given the kit for Christmas 1999 and started it at the beginning of January 2000, so it's 20 years old. It would be very annoying to get to this point and not finish all the stitching.

I'm linking this post with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for the March Link up Party 

Having written this post I'm off to bed. I have a long list of things I want to get done tomorrow and it won't work if I'm tired.


Sunday 1 March 2020

Sunday stitching

This morning the sun was shining brightly but the wind was cold. It seems to have been raining for ever and we just had to rush out for a walk in the sunshine with Scamp. He's only had short walks recently so he was very excited to head to the common this morning. Once home again Scamp settled down to wash his paws and have a long nap. I got out my machine and finished the quilting on the second baby quilt. By this evening the binding had been added and all that's left is to hand stitch the binding to the back.

By the time I was ready to take a photo it was raining outside so I had to use the floor. We are currently sorting out our loft. In order to sort stuff out we have some boxes in the living room ready to look through them but that means there is limited space. I can't wait until we've finished sorting and decluttering. 

Back to this evening I'll be making a start of the hand stitching. I want to get this quilt finished before Wednesday so it can be gifted next weekend. Once I've finished this quilt I have a new project I want to start. In order to reduce my UFO's I decided I need to finish 2 of anything before I start a new project. This is the second quilt I will have finished, well in fact I will have finished 3 for the year once I also finish hand stitching the binding on the Christmas quilt. That definitely means a new project is in order.

Whilst doing some hand stitching this evening I need to decide what my goal will be for March. I think it might be some hand stitching. For now I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching Pop over and see what's been happening this week.