Sunday 26 April 2020

The Robin's are nesting.

Today is day 33 of the UK lock down and as a family we have settled into a comfortable routine. We are all working from home which makes the working week interesting as we try to ensure our online meetings or teaching happens at different times. Over the day we take it in turns to make the tea and coffee and also to do the cooking. On Friday evening we declared the weekend open and enjoyed a take away curry together. We also started film Friday. Lucy was 29 on her birthday last week and she has set herself thirty things to do before she's 30. One of the things is to watch 30 films. The rules she has set herself say she must not have watched it before and in some way it should be considered a classic. She had been told by friends that she had missed out because she'd never seen Die Hard so that started our film Fridays. John, Richard and I had seen it before but we all enjoyed the evening. A film, a good curry and some beer proved a good start for the weekend. We've found you have to do something to differentiate the working week and the weekend. 

Here in London the weather has gone quite warm and sunny, although at times the wind is a bit chilly. John and I have been enjoying having breakfast and lunch in the garden. Whilst sitting at our garden table we have enjoyed seeing two robins who have made their nest in some ivy that's growing up along our fence. They completed their nest a while back and from the chirping noises we think their eggs have hatched. The two robins are now busy taking beakfuls of food back to the nest. They come very close to where we are sitting and it is fascinating to watch them. I keep meaning to take my camera out with me but I keep forgetting. Hopefully next week I'll get a picture of them.

We have more time to do fun things and baking has been one of them. I made a batch of blueberry muffins and Lucy made a very calorific dessert with caramel and chocolate and caramel truffles on top. Very tasty !

Last night we played monopoly after dinner. Richard has always loved Star Trek and has one of the Star Trek special additions of the game. My only complaint with monopoly is that the game can go on for ages. I must admit that I sometimes cheat to ensure the game lasts for a reasonable length of time rather than hours.

Not a lot of sewing got done over the week as we were trying to fit decorating in around work. By the evening I was just too tired to do anything very much and generally retired to bed early and read a few pages of my book before sleep. Today I sat down and started stitching the hexies together to create the bag front and back. The freezer paper has kept the pieces together very well and it makes it so easy to pick up the next piece whilst the rest stay where they should be. I'm going to be putting all my efforts into completing this bag over the next couple of weeks.

This weekend we should have been walking in Suffolk but that is impossible at the moment. To add to my annoyance I received a letter from the government saying I should be 'shielding' myself due to my underlying health issues. Shielding means I should not go out at all and should distance from members of my family who do have to go out, and this should continue until 30th June. Now as far as I'm aware I have no underlying health conditions and I don't match any of the criteria on the governments list so I'm confused.  I'm making the judgement that yet again they got the information wrong. I've been going shopping and taking the dog for short walks. We take care to keep well away from other people and always wash our hands well when we get home. If I have to stay indoors until 30th June I  will be going mad!

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching  Do go and visit and see what everyone's been working on.

Take care and stay safe. 


Monday 20 April 2020

Day 26 and counting.

Today is day 26 of the UK lock down and it has been confirmed that this will continue for a least a further 3 weeks. This is also nearly the end of my second week of holiday during lock down. Last week we should have been staying in Wales and enjoying walking in Snowdonia but instead we have done some house maintenance and redecoration. I've been really good and only been going out for shopping and for exercise. We haven't been doing either every day but we do seem to be doing a lot of eating and I feel like I've put on weight so I'm going to do some yoga on the days we don't go out for exercise. Having been good now for 26 days what I'd really like is to be able to go out and play. By play I mean a really long walk out in the country, say 8 to 10 miles or maybe a little more.That is my current idea of heaven. This weekend Lucy, John and I should have been walking in Suffolk but that is obviously cancelled. 

Since I last posted we have been keeping busy. We are currently decorating our bedroom. This was planned for this week and just prior to lock down I went shopping for curtain material. There are two windows in our bedroom but they are single sash size so single width of fabric for each curtain is fine.  The curtains for the one window are all finished and I just have the hem to do on the second pair. The room is coming together well and the painting is almost finished. This is my curtain fabric. The colour is slightly different in person than in the photo.

Over Easter we found some jigsaw puzzles up in our loft and John and I had fun making one of them. We weren't sure if all the pieces were there and once we had completed it we found that 4 pieces were missing. 

We also made up this 1000 piece puzzle. So many of the pieces looked the same with green leaves. 

I've been working on the hexi bag over the week Today i had completed all the pieces and needed to set them out before stitching them together. I lay them out on the ironing board so I could try and get a good mix of the fabrics. This first piece is for the back and flap.

and this piece will be the front.

Next I covered them with freezer paper and ironed it using a hot iron. Now all the pieces will stay in the arrangement I've made whilst I stitch them together. I shall be starting that job this evening.

The pieces are joined using whip stitch. I also decided I wanted to use up the double knitting yarn I had left having finished Alex's scarf. So I found my crochet hooks and tried out some granny squares. This design makes a denser square than the usual stitch. I think I like this design and will use up the scraps. Not sure how many squares I'll make but the idea is to use up all my double knitting yarn.

In amongst all this puzzling, stitching, curtain making, decorating and crocheting we celebrated a couple of birthdays. Both my daughters had birthdays this week. Lucy currently lives with us and so last night we had a birthday dinner. We all got dressed up and enjoyed a delicious curry. Afterwards we had birthday cake that involved far too much chocolate. A hole made in the middle of the cake was filled with smarties.It was very good and not surprisingly,considering the amount of chocolate, there is still some cake left.

After dinner we played Smart Ass which was fun. Our older daughter lives with her partner and they celebrated her birthday by having a virtual birthday party with friends over the internet. Using the internet to socialise is different but keeps you in contact with friends and family. On Wednesday we went to the pub and took part in a pub quiz, all on the internet. John and I didn't win the quiz but enjoyed doing it.

Tomorrow i'm back to work after my two week holiday. Even though I am working from home I have that 'I don't want to go back to work feeling'.  As I haven't got to travel anywhere I can at least et up a bit later than usual.

I hope you are all looking after yourselves in these strange times. Stay safe.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching


Thursday 9 April 2020


In these difficult days it's good to have something to celebrate. Today I am celebrating my 700th blog post and on the 10th April it's my 8th Blogaversary. To celebrate I would have let off fireworks but that could have attracted a crowd in this time of social distancing so instead I made a large mug of tea and found a copyright free firework picture on Google. As with all celebrations there should be presents so I am hosting a give away but more about that later.

Yesterday I set about finishing the cushion cover. First I needed to attach the applique. I'd saved 4 red charm squares for the applique. First the front was basted to the wadding and then applique was attached with machine buttonhole stitch.

I then pieced some of the remaining charm squares for the back.

Finally the front was stitched to the back and the pillow pad inserted. I always find it difficult inserting a new pillow pad for the first time. 

I have a second Charm pack and so could make a second cushion cover but I'm not sure I want to at the moment but by tomorrow I may have changed my mind. I do need to attach the button to the middle of the hearts to completely finish it.

I finished the stitching on Mildred today. This is my monthly goal for April. I'm not sure I've ever finished my monthly goal so quickly. I sat in the garden in the sun and finished the final stitching. The sun had quite a lot of warmth in it. Mildred needs a good press but I'll do that when I finish all the girls.

I pulled Millicent out ready to start stitching on her. I have done some work on her already but for some reason I put all the threads I was using back in my thread box. I need to sort out what I need so I can make a start tomorrow. I love the kitty in her pocket. At some point this stitchery has had something spilt on it so tomorrow I will give it a gentle wash

Once all the ladies are finished I won't be making them into a quilt. Instead John and I decided we will frame them and hang them together on the wall gong upstairs. A lot of the old stately homes in the UK have paintings of family members on the stairs, so quilting bag ladies will be our version. I will probably add their names when we reach that point. 

Also today I worked on the bag I'm making using the hexies. I need to arrange the pieces and then stitch them together. I'll take some photos tomorrow.

So I mentioned a give away. I have a charm pack by French General. This is a pretty Christmas charm pack and it's never to early to be thinking about Christmas. I will post anywhere in the world. 

This is open to everyone. To enter leave me a comment and tell me how you are keeping calm in the midst of the current mayhem.If you are a follower you may have a second chance by leaving me a comment telling me how you follow. The give away will remain open until April 18th.

Tomorrow I need to get some shopping for an elderly friend of ours and then I have the whole day free to work on whichever sewing project interests me. I'm hoping the weather will be good and I can sit in the garden again. 

Take care and stay safe.


Monday 6 April 2020

Just chilling at home

I'm on holiday from today having been working from home for the last two weeks. So I went into my work email and put an out of office message on it. I do have to check my emails once a day but I'll only deal with really important can't wait issues. The question is how do I get out of work mode having spent the last two weeks working at my dining table? I've always done some work at home but have tried to keep it to a minimum but now it has wormed it way into the very fabric of our personal life because of Covid. Hmmm I need to think this through as I know we'll still be working from home after my holiday and work needs to be contained as far as possible. We don't have a separate room we can use as an office but I have two weeks to come up with a plan. I'll keep you updates.

Anyway today I wasn't working but some students contacted me to ask if there was a  problem with the IT system as they couldn't get into their learning materials. By the time I'd sorted that out  I lost a fair bit of my sewing time.  Free to play at last I started off by designing my project for the 'It's cool to be square' blog hop taking place in May and then I pulled out one of my subscription boxes that had the pattern and fabric for a cushion cover I've been meaning to make.

The pattern uses a charm pack of Chafarcani by French General. The pattern also makes a draft excluder but we don't need one as since we had new windows fitted and other work done on the house we don't really have any drafts.

By the time I stopped I had stitched the cushion front together and was ready to add the applique. The biggest part was cutting the charm squares. I love the reds in the charm pack

I've copied the template for the hearts and I have the backing fabric for the cushion so this should be finished tomorrow. I have another charm pack of the same fabric and I'll probably make a second cover.

I had to stop at that point as I needed to find the Bondaweb to use with the applique. At the same time I wanted to pull out the bag kit that I bought last year. 

I'd opened the kit and cut out some fabric to see how it looked and then I decided I needed to finish a project before I started something new.

The templates for the hexagons are a thin foam which is rather fun.

Once Mildred is finished I'm going to put this bag together. Tomorrow I need to pick up some food for Picasso and milk for us. So long as my students don't have any problems the day is mine to do what I want. I also want to take Scamp for a walk. We haven't been taking him out every day in order to protect ourselves. Fortunately, since he's a Yorkshire Terrier he doesn't need really long walks although if they are on offer he'll take them with pleasure. 

Take care and stay safe.


Sunday 5 April 2020

curtains, bag ladies and sunshine

A second day of glorious sunshine and we are getting lots of jobs completed whilst in lock down. We didn't need anything from the shops, not even milk and we decided against going out for a walk. The whole day was spent at home. John did some more work in the garden and I powered on with the curtains. I had a major panic at one point as I decided the pattern wouldn't match across the two curtains but it does. I have hung them at the window but they'll need a little sorting out once they've hung a couple of days. I also need an end stop for the one end of the curtain rail as the old one broke when I took the old curtains down.

I've also been spending time working on Mildred and she is almost finished. I think she should be done by tomorrow evening. I'm finding it very enjoyable to be able spend more time hand stitching. 

Life gets better because for the next two weeks I'm on annual leave. I know I'm working from home at the moment but that means I have to do work but for the next two weeks I can ignore anything to do with work and enjoy some me time. We should have been on holiday in Wales and we'd planned to do a lot of walking. We can go out for a walk each day but we will also have time to enjoy our hobbies. I'm totally up to date with the laundry and cleaning so apart from the shopping and cooking there won't even be too many chores this week.

Late this afternoon Katy and Olly popped over briefly to see us. They bought cake with them, which was a bonus. We were very careful to keep a safe distance so they stayed outside our gate whilst we talked to them from our  front door. They have both had covid and have completed their isolation time. They are both feeling much better but are still getting very tired.

I am planning on making Scamp and Picasso a second quilt each. They both have a basket downstairs and upstairs. The ones downstairs have their quilts in and they love to cuddle up in them. A quilt in each of the upstairs baskets would make the baskets more comfortable for them and they's look cute. I'm taking part in the 'It's cool to be square' blog hop in May and these will be perfect projects. Now I just need to decided on the patterns. Picasso always reminds me of the picture you see of otters when he's asleep. It also strange how all the colour has been drained from the chair as it's a deep red in person.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching  I love seeing what everyone has been working on.

Take care, stay safe.


Saturday 4 April 2020

Spring is in the air

Spring is definitely in the air. The sun is shining and the temperature is set to rise this weekend. Unfortunately we are on essential trips and exercise only  but currently the sunlight is flooding into the house through our south facing windows.The day feels good. John and I got up early this morning to go shopping. We arrived as they were opening and had split our list of essentials with John going to the main grocery store and I got the fruit, vegetables and others essentials from other shops. The only thing we couldn't get was bread flour but we got bread. I still have some bread flour, probably enough for two more loaves. I'd been wanting to get back to baking my own bread and I've taken advantage of the current situation to make a start. I love the process of making bread and the taste of still warm bread with butter is blissful.

On Wednesday evening John and I started a 1000 piece jigsaw. I bought it as a joke present for his birthday back on March 15th and we hadn't had time to play. We haven't done a jigsaw in years so this was fun. Yesterday we both decided we had no energy for work so we played with the jigsaw and finished it.

I was so engrossed with the puzzle that Picasso saw his chance to nip in and drink my tea. If he's around I can't leave my tea mug unattended.

I had to put on some laundry but the sunshine made me decide to do a mini spring clean, cleaning the living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. meanwhile John was outside working on tidying the garden. It's very satisfying to have it all clean except the bedrooms and stairs. I'll do them tomorrow or later in the week. 

A nap at this point would have been great but I want to finish my living room curtains. I have one curtain made but need to get the other one done so I can hang them at the window. I also bought the fabric for new curtains in my bedroom. I went shopping for the fabric in the morning and later that day the government said only go out to go essential food shopping or exercise. 

Anyway this afternoon I got on with my living room curtain. I'd already joined the main fabric widths and the lining and very soon I'd joined the main fabric to the lining. Next to fold in the heading and add the header tape. I needed to make sure the pattern matched the curtain I'd already made and this proved quite easy. Whilst sewing the header tape on the needle came  out of the holder and having put it back in securely the needle then broke.. I made a cup of tea and after I'd drank it went back to the curtains and finished attaching the header tape but I decided to leave the hem until to morrow morning. All the cleaning had worn me out . No problem by lunch time tomorrow this set of curtains will be hanging at the window.

Yesterday I was going through a box of papers that I'd stored until I had time to sort them. I'm so pleased that I decided to go through them as I found Millicent who has been missing in action for some time. I'd search high and low for her but couldn't find her anywhere but now she is reunited with the rest of the girls.

I also found the cattitudes cross stitch. I've just got the head and front paws to do on this.

and also this frog stitching/quilting pattern. I've no plans at the moment to start this stitching but it's nice to have it back with my embroidery patterns.

It all goes to prove that you need to sort things out at the time not stick them in a box to deal with at a latter date. The rest of the paperwork in the box has been filed, shredded or put in the recycling bin. Now I just need to find my bag of toy stuffing and everything is back where it should be.

It's been a busy day and I finished it off by doing some more stitching on Mildred. I'll show you my progress tomorrow.  Until then take care, remember to keep a safe distance from people if gong out , and stay safe.


Wednesday 1 April 2020

April goals

It's April already and the 1st was my Mom's birthday which is also April fool's day and my mom loved to play practical jokes on us when we were little. Always fun little jokes not the unkind jokes some people play on each other these days. Once we were old enough to do it, my brother and I would get up early, before she was up, and make her a cup of tea and sometimes toast to take up to her along with our presents and home made cards. Strangely I always remember her birthday as sunny and I was very happy to find the sun peeping through the curtains this morning. There was a frost last night and the temperature is only supposed to reach 9 degrees C today but at the moment the sky is blue and the sun has warmth in it. My mom was born in the same year as the Queen but 20 days earlier and was also the same height at 5 foot 4 inches. When fully grown I enjoyed being 2 inches taller than her but now have to put up with my younger daughter who looks down on me from her lofty 5 foot 11 inches. Isn't it funny how the date sets your memory off on a journey through the years!

It's that time of the month again to set some goals for the month. Last month I did really well completing both goals I set myself, plus an extra finish. 

I want to finish Mildred the bag lady this month. I pulled her out of my hand stitching bag and this is how far I'd got.

Last night I stitched her socks and one sandal. I need to find the flesh coloured floss for her legs but otherwise I've got all the thread I need to complete this piece.

I also want to make Luna Lapin. I need to order some toy stuffing from Amazon. I know I have some somewhere but I've no idea where it is. I've made one of the legs and prepped the ears so this should be possible. I would love to have it made by Lucy's birthday on the 18th which is just over two weeks away. 

I'm also hoping to finish some blocks for the Austen Family album quilt I started a couple of years ago. I need to check how many blocks I've left to make. 

Here in London the shops are now well stocked after the panic buying that went on a couple of weeks ago. John and I are still going out to shop for groceries but keeping the outing as short as possible as some folks don't seem to understand social distancing. We are also taking Scamp for a walk each day as he really needs his exercise and so do we. Picasso enjoys sitting in the sun outside our front door and I watched him allow a lady who was passing to tickle him under his chin and talk to him for a while. I popped out to say hello being careful to stay a safe distance away. She was so happy as she hadn't talked to anyone for several days and had finally got her nerve together to go out of the house for a walk.Picasso preened himself after she told him how much she had enjoyed giving him a stroke.

Take care and stay safe.