Sunday 31 May 2020

Sunday sewing

The weather here in London is really hot and sunny and it was perfect for a walk, so yesterday John and I drove the short distance to Wimbledon common where we met up with Katy for a walk. Since Katy isn't part of our household we still need to social distance but it was good to have another walk together and be able to chat. We decided to see if it was crowded by the lake just down from the windmill. We were in luck, although there were a few people about they kept their distance and there was plenty of room. Across the other side of the lake was a swan family. It would have been nice to have walked round to get a good picture but several other people were heading that way so we left it.

Turning slightly to look along the lake there is a huge patch of yellow water lilies. 

Yesterday they were just buds with a few almost open. We plan to visit later this week and they should look amazing.

Further along the path we came across this fungi

In total we did a circuit of about 5 miles. It felt very good to have walk When we got home I did some work on the bag I'm making but I made a mistake so need to unpick what I did. As a result I won't have it finished this month. Having realised I'd made a mistake I put it away and picked up Charlotte to work on. I've now finished her jacket and I'm working on her skirt. 

As well as working on Charlotte today I also finished my scrappy quilt. I'm pleased with how this looks and I pulled out some wadding and a backing. I will need to join the wadding before I can use it but that's simple enough. I'd forgotten I had the fabric I will use for the backing.

That used up some of my 2 and half inch squares but I've still got a lot so I started making 9 patch blocks.

Even if I use up all my squares I still have loads of scraps to cut more. Every project you make just generates more scraps.

Tomorrow is a work day but I'm hoping to finish at a reasonable time and have a chance to do some more sewing. I started the challenge to do a minimum of 15 minutes stitching a day back in January but work got busy in February and the challenge was too much to achieve. Since working from home it is easier to make time for stitching. I get up at the time I always have done but of course I have no travelling to do so I'm able to fit in some stitching. I'm pleased the university isn't planning on rushing back to work and teaching face to face.

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

Take care 


Friday 29 May 2020

Biscuits, tea and sewing

Today in the UK is national biscuit day. This happens every year and of course it would be rude not to join in with the celebrations. I'm reliably informed that biscuits have been around throughout history as they were a way of making flour and other ingredients last longer so they could be taken on long journeys. The Ancient Egyptians and the Romans took them on long sea voyages. Hardtack biscuits made of flour, water and salt were used in many military and naval operations through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. You can read more about hardtack HERE on wikipedia

In the UK biscuits are a sweet snack and are quite often flat dry and crunchy and often covered in chocolate. We have the Persians to thank for sweet biscuits as they experimented with adding other ingredients to the basic mixture. I'm so pleased they did as when the day is falling to pieces around your ears, a biscuit with a cup of tea serves as a good pick me up and is perfectly acceptable in the work setting, whereas an alcoholic drink isn't. When eaten with a cup of tea many of us like to dunk them and the art here is to 'dunk' it into your tea so it moistens the biscuit but it doesn't end up getting soggy and falling into your cup!  When I'm at work I like two biscuits with my mid morning tea and they keep me going until lunch time. In lock down as I'm getting less exercise I try to avoid biscuits but today Olly bought us some peanut butter biscuits he'd made.

My personal favourite is a digestive biscuit without the chocolate.

Lucy has finished doing buttonhole stitch around the rabbits on her first block. She was a little worried as this is the first embroidery stitch she has learnt to do and didn't want to ruin her block. I was telling her about our embroidery lessons when I was in junior school (age 7 to 11) The boys in the class also had to join in, much to their annoyance. I didn't really enjoy embroidery at that age as I thought it rather slow but now I love sitting doing some hand sewing.

I normally have a small monthly subscription box of fabrics but when we went into lock down it was paused. This month they have done a limited run of the box and I ordered one. I'm so happy I did as the fabrics are so pretty.

The subscription box always comes with a pattern and this one was no exception. The pattern is for a rainbow quilt and I love it. I had to stop myself reaching for my cutting board and making a start straight away.

Being sensible I suppose I should finish my scrappy quilt first. So tomorrow I'll get the machine set up and finish the last few rows. I'll then add a border and it will be finished and ready to be sandwiched once I have some more wadding and fabric for the backing.

Tonight I'm going to settle down with the hexie bag I'm making. So far this week every time I've planned to work on it something has happened to stop me. Tonight we are ordering in a curry from our favourite Indian restaurant and just chilling out. So no cooking to do and minimal clearing up to do once we've eaten. A long evening of sewing sounds perfect. I think I'll go and make a start while we're waiting for dinner to arrive.


Thursday 28 May 2020

Sewing with Lucy

At the weekend I told you about Lucy and the quilt she has started to make as one of her thirty before she's 30 challenges. Today I was able to take a photo of the two blocks she has made a start on. We had a lot of fun working together to get these blocks planned and set up. Lucy had no idea that you could attach the applique pieces using heat and bond. She was also amazed at how long it takes to make decisions about which fabrics to use. She is going to hand embroider the applique pieces onto the backing fabric and so has been practising to ensure her stitches will be neat and even.

The first block has her birth details on

and the second is about her trips to Kandersteg, Switzerland with the Guides.

She has one other block that she's designed and she intends to put that one together tomorrow. She'll be doing the stitching a little at a time in the evenings. Over the weekend she wants to spend some time roughing out designs for the next 3 blocks.  I have been given the task of hand embroidering a block with her name and favourite flowers. The lock down due to covid 19 has certainly given us lots of mother daughter time.

I haven't done very much today as I had a migraine and so I've been a little wobbly all day. I'm hoping that I'll be more effective tomorrow. I did take a couple of photos in the garden when i went out to get some fresh air. I have two pink roses and this first one has a beautiful fragrance

This one is an older rose bush and a much lighter and more delicate pink but equally fragrant.

The yellow rose was new last year. So far there are only these two blooms open but it is loaded with buds.

The pots of mixed geraniums have just started to flower with the white and pink ahead of the red plants. By next week they'll all be in flower

We also have several pots of strawberries and they have a lot of fruits that are developing well. 

Tomorrow I want to spend time working on my hand stitching but I would also like to complete the scrappy quilt top.  Tomorrow is supposed to be hot so I may be able to sit and stitch in the garden.


Wednesday 27 May 2020

A walk on the wild side

A couple of weeks ago, here in the UK, the government loosened the lock down to allow people to meet up with someone not of their household, outdoors, so long as they socially distanced. Until yesterday we hadn't taken advantage of this as the only people we would be meeting up with would be our older daughter and Olly. Since they have been working from home and so have we there really hasn't been time but this week Katy is on half term break, Olly and John are on holiday and that left me as the only person working. I didn't want to miss out on a walk and meeting up with Katy and Olly so we organised to meet at 6:30 at Nunhead cemetery. It may not sound a great place to walk but this is what the website of the Friends of Nunhead cemetery says about it

'Perhaps the least known, but most attractive, of the great Victorian Cemeteries of London. Consecrated in 1840, it is one of the seven great Victorian cemeteries established in a ring around the outskirts of London. It contains examples of the magnificent monuments erected in memory of the most eminent citizens of the day, which contrast sharply with the small, simple headstones marking common, or public, burials. It's formal avenue of towering limes and the Gothic gloom of the original Victorian planting gives way to paths which recall the country lanes of a bygone era.'

It was a lovely place to walk and although we met quite a few people walking, jogging and cycling there was plenty of room for social distancing. The added bonus was that Scamp was able to come with us as dogs are allowed in on a lead.  As we entered the cemetery we found this memorial.

This isn't a grave marker but a memorial to 5 political Scottish Martyrs - Thomas Muir, Fyshe Palmer, William Skriving, Joseph Gerrald and Maurice Margarot who were transported to Australia in 1794 for sedition. This is a second monument erected to the martyrs, the first being on Calton Hill in Edinburgh.

The main paths through the cemetery are wide dirt tracks but in place we dipped down into little narrow paths that snaked between sites and eventually joined up with the main paths again. It was the forays off the main paths that Scamp enjoyed the most. The trees formed a fabulous canopy and the patterns made by the leaves and branches was beautiful.

The cemetery has many old graves and memorials and in the older areas it is a little or sometimes very over grown.

I love the way the sunlight was catching the grave stones and producing spotlight effects and shadows. We didn't get to the cemetery until 6:30 in the evening and left at about 8:30 so we were walking in lovely evening sunshine.

Some of the crosses had beautiful Celtic knot patterns on them.

There is an Anglican chapel in the cemetery which is now a ruin having been the victim of an arson attack in 1976. The building has been stabilised and now it is used as a venue for music and theatre performances.

On the wall in the chapel near the entrance to the catacombs there is this spooky character.

The cemetery was full of flowers both wild and cultivated. I particularly liked this clematis which I spotted as we were leaving. Unfortunately the only way I could get the picture was shooting into the sun

This small tree was also beautiful and had a lovely smell. If you know what it please tell me.

This was our first trip going away from our home area. The journey only took 30 minutes but it felt like we were escaping. The walk was very welcome and we enjoyed the wildness of the cemetery. If you want to find out more information about it please click HERE

This evening I'm working on my hexie bag. I'm not sure if I'll get it finished before the end of the month but I'm going to have a good try.


Monday 25 May 2020

A Great way to start the week

Starting the week with a bank holiday is always a win win. No having to get up early to start the working week and time to do my own thing. I had a few chores to do but I had sewing in mind and finishing a project. 

I started my tuffet at some point  during autumn last year. I had bought it earlier in the year but it took a bit of time to get my nerve together to start it. Several people I knew who had bought one told me it was very difficult and they had assigned their's to a cupboard.  Before I started working on it I went through the instructions very carefully, making sure I understood them. Making the pieced top took some time as I didn't want to make any mistakes. Eventually it was all done. I then put the tuffet to one side as I had some other projects to work on. Before I could complete the tuffet I had to order some long upholstery needles and also some staples for the staple gun. 

Today was the day for putting this project to bed. I needed to attach the large button to the top. This is where the long upholstery needles came into use. Cords were attached to the back of the button. The long needle was then feed up through the foam from the base, cords threaded through the eye of the needle and pulled out to the base. The cords then had to be pulled up tightly and at this point I needed help from John. Lucy also joined in and helped John staple the pieced cover to the base and also the covering fabric for the base. I attached the legs by screwing them into base and the job was finished.

I love the little feet on the tuffet

Scamp thinks the tuffet is for him to sit on. It seems to be just the right size.

Scamp was due to have his visit to the groomers when we went into lock down. Unfortunately his appointment was cancelled and now he has long fur and is rather hot. We have trimmed round his eyes so he can see but he wriggles a lot so the rest will have to wait until the groomer reopens.

I spent a little time this afternoon crocheting a couple more granny squares. I now have 111 squares which means I have less than 300 to make. These are easy to make and I don't really have to concentrate on what I'm doing. They're great to work on when sitting chatting with the family.

This evening I'm working on the hexie bag. My goal for May is to complete this bag so I need to get a wriggle on. I think I will complete it in time.

It's back to work tomorrow after a good weekend sewing. This week I will be spending a lot of time on line as I have student tutorials, virtual interviews and an assessment board. There's never a dull moment when working from home. My students are enjoying their study days and in particular the online tutorials. They have all taken to keeping their video link turned off and last week I suggested to one group that they were still in their PJ's or even still in bed. They all turned their video on and I was right! I felt over dressed wearing my office clothes and make up. Lucy's catch phrase for lock down is 'don't let standards slip'. I think she's right and even when I haven't got any on line meetings I try to dress and behave as I would if I was in the office. My concession is to keep my slippers on.

Take care


Sunday 24 May 2020

Weekend sewing.

This has been a good weekend for sewing. I decided earlier in the week to take Friday as an annual leave day. Having taken leave at Christmas and Easter and with some booked in July for Katy's wedding,which is not happening due to the virus, plus some days in August I still have 8 days which I must use before the end of August. By taking it on Friday I have a 4 day weekend because of the bank holiday tomorrow. What else can you do over a long weekend but sew. After all we can't go away for one of our walking weekends.

Yesterday morning I sat down with Lucy to start the quilt she's going to make as part of her 30 things she wants to do before she's 30. She has planned out what the blocks will be and has been collecting fabric to use. The quilt will involve a lot of applique but also machine and hand embroidery and pieced blocks. The back story for this quilt is her 30 years of life and part way through talking about the first block she said 'mom I've got to include the virus as it's become a major part of my 29th year!'. She put that idea to one side as she started on the first block which has her birth date and birth information plus the two soft cuddly rabbits she was given when she was one day old. She still has the yellow rabbit who is called yellowy but he is a grey colour having had most of his 'fur' loved off.

We decided to piece the block before any embroidery happened. Lucy last did any quilting in 2016 so ensuring a quarter inch seam needed concentration. Also Lucy was using my big Brother machine for the first time and so was getting used to the controls. Once the block was set up she set about doing the machine embroidery. She had already practised and we set up each line together to ensure everything was spelt correctly. Unpicking the machine embroidery is impossible. 

Although I've owned this machine since the end of 2016 I haven't used a lot of the 'extras' on it. The embroidery was one of these so I had a play to check out how it worked. It is so easy to set up since it gives all the information on the large screen. Now I'm a little annoyed with myself for not playing more with the machine and really discovering what it can do.

The final part of sewing with Lucy was to attach the two rabbit shapes. Lucy is going to hand embroider round them and so she went off to practise some stitches.

Whilst Lucy was using the machine I sat and finished stitching the binding down on Picasso's new quilt. there wasn't much to do and soon I was able to take a photo of the completed quilt. Scamp muscled his was in and enjoyed being the first to try it out. Casso didn't mind and later in the day he took a nap on it

I've been working on two hand stitching projects and I really wanted to finish stitching Millicent. I spent  more time than I should have done yesterday curled up in a comfy chair with Scamp and my stitching. In between periods of stitching I did some housework and also made some granny squares, this was really to give my eyes a rest. I so nearly finished Millicent last evening but I still had small bits to do, so earlier today I sat and finished all the stitching.

I like Millicent as she is a lady who knows her own mind. With this in mind I had a little discussion with her about her glasses as the pattern called for gold metallic thread. She doesn't look like a lady who would wear gold rimmed specs, she's so much more flamboyant and so we agreed on red frames. Now I have 2 bag ladies to finish and I've made the 12 of them. I have Charlotte who I've already worked on and Thelma who I haven't started. I decided to go with Charlotte. Here's how far I've got  so far.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. I'm looking forward to finding out what everyone's been working on. Tomorrow is another sewing day but I haven't decided what to work on yet. I need to make some decisions before I go to bed as I don't want to waste any sewing time tomorrow.


Wednesday 20 May 2020

It's cool to be square

This is a great week because there's a blog hop going on. Just what I needed! Thanks to Carol from Just let me quilt for organising the hop and providing a very welcome change to a life of working from home in these troubled times.

I love squares and they are so useful in quilting patterns. When I've finished a new project I cut the scraps into varying sized squares depending on the size of the scraps. The ones I find most useful are the 2 and half inch squares and the 5 inch squares. I have a whole heap of these squares and the pile below is just a few of them.

Since I am now working from home and teaching remotely I decided to keep my project very simple. Changing to remote teaching has bought a lot of extra work as the courses were never planned to be taught by distance learning. As a result I've been slotting sewing around the work and knew I wouldn't be able to make anything large. On my list of things to make this year I had new quilts for Picasso and Scamp. Their current quilts get a lot of use and need to be washed regularly so it will be useful to have a spare quilt for each of them. Here's both of them enjoying the sun on the back of the settee.

I had all the fabric I needed in my stash to make Picasso's quilt and I decided to do a mini Irish chain. The quilt finishes at 22 inches which fits nicely in his cat basket. I so nearly got it completely finished but time run out on me. I just have to stitch the binding down in the far corner.

I love the cat fabric and the orange mouse fabric is perfect with it.

When I started making this quilt I also started putting together a scrappy square quilt . Pulling out my 2 and half inch squares made me realise I need to use them up having cut them all. No point in cutting scraps into squares and then leaving them to gather dust. This quilt will be a child quilt to be donated to Project Linus when they reopen for donations.. This is how far I've got.

When this is finished it will have used up almost 300 squares which will make a good dent in my scrap box.

Thank you for visiting today. Now you need to visit the others blogs on today's hop. Enjoy the projects everyone has made.

May 20

May 21

May 22

Take care, stay safe and keep quilting.


Sunday 17 May 2020

Busy being busy.

I've recently become more energetic again. Under normal conditions I'm fairly active at work. I try to use the stairs unless I'm going from the ground to the eleventh floor, I like to go for a walk in my lunch break and if possible I walk Scamp when I get home. Since we started working from home my activity level has dropped dramatically and I have been feeling sluggish. Last week I'd had enough and started doing a daily workout. The first few runs through it I felt exhausted and achy but now I can complete it all and I feel great. The added bonus is I have more energy and that really helped today as I set myself a long to do list. 

I started the day by cutting out a dress pattern. Last week I order two patterns. I found it so much more relaxing sitting at the computer going through the patterns available, than being in the shop. I added the patterns I liked to my wish list and then made the final decision of which two to buy. Last year I meant to buy or make a couple of summer dresses but never got round to it but this year with more time I'll be ready for the height of summer. I took my time matching the pattern and cutting out and made sure to snip in the notches to make assembly easier.

Here in the UK there's a TV series called The Great British Sewing Bee. It's run for several seasons now and this season is now on week 4. The programme is recorded rather than going out live which is good because Covid 19 would have put paid to the season. 12 amateur sewers started the season and each week the judges pick the garment of the week and they also send one sewer home. This week must have been week 4 as there were 9 sewers. Each episode has 3 parts, a garment from a given pattern, an alteration challenge and a made to measure challenge. It's fun to watch and provides a great conversation topic with my colleagues at our online Friday breakfast club. The programme is what pushed me to complete the blouse I made last week and has got me back dressmaking. Since I have quite a lot of dressmaking fabric in my stash this is a very good activity. Nice clothes I've made myself to wear and space in stash for new supplies. Win win.

I finished the curtains for my bedroom. All the decorating is done and once the shops are open again we can buy new carpet to complete the job. The bedroom has been a bit of a dumping ground whilst the rest of the house was decorated and now we have the job of getting everything returned to where it should be or consign it to the rubbish if no longer needed. The windows in our bedroom face south so getting a picture was difficult on a sunny day.

The teddy bear collection really do need to go back to their owners. By the time I'd put the curtains up my arms were aching. I put the kettle on for a cup of tea and set about making a cake. I'd been asked to make a chocolate cake and to cover it with melted chocolate. I always like to oblige my family!

Once the cake was in the oven I took my tea to the living room for a rest and found Scamp and Picasso in their favourite spots.

Poor Scamp really does need to have a good trim. He was booked to be groomed the week after we went into lock down but that was cancelled until they re-open. He's had a bath which he enjoyed and he likes being brushed but he prefers short fur. We have to trim his muzzle and around his eyes so he can see where he's going and to stop him dripping water off his muzzle every time he has a drink. If anyone comes to the door they are both wide awake and ready to protect the family.

My job this evening is to sew the binding onto my project for the 'It's cool to be square' blog hop. I'd show you a photo but then I'd have nothing left to show on Wednesday. The hop starts tomorrow and here's the blogs taking part.