Saturday 31 October 2020

October monthly goal completed.

The week seems to have flown by. Work has taken more time than it should but then anyone who teaches, at any level, will tell you there is more to do than fits in the working day. I think it's probably true of a lot of jobs. Work has also been fun recently with the opportunity to teach the students face to face. On line is good, and gives me extra time due to no commute, but it's anywhere near as much fun as teaching face to face. The students are so much happier as well. Although it's been a normal busy week I have managed to get some sewing squeezed into the gaps.

My goal for October was to finish my Christmas table topper. I had needed some fabric to finish it and that duly arrived just before the start of the month. Here is the photo I showed at the start of the month.

This has now become a finished top and has been quilted. This was the pre quilting photo.

It almost didn't get quilted as Picasso decided it was his quilt and wouldn't budge. he is such a lovely cat. He looks more kitten like here which is interesting since he's 17 or 18 years old. Anyway I got the quilting done and I've added the binding.

Last night I sat and stitched the binding to the back and my one monthly goal for October was completed.  I quilted in the ditch around the gold square and around the inside and outside of the red square. I also stitched in the ditch around the other pieces. This was done using monofilament on the top and gold thread on the bobbin. I echo stitched around the holly using white thread on the top. I wanted the fabric to do the talking not the quilting.

I had to take the photo on the floor as there was a puzzle on the table. John and I completed this on Friday.

Lucy had been making a 3000 piece puzzle and also completed it this week. Lucy loves her puzzles but prefers to work on them alone.

I worked on a couple of other projects over the month but I'll tell you about that in another post.

I'm linking this post with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for her One Monthly Goal finish up link.

Happy Halloween to you all.


Monday 26 October 2020

From the heart

Hi and welcome to my slot on the 'From the Heart' blog hop. Thank you to Carol from Just Let me Quilt for organising the hop.  We were asked to create a small gift and share how we made it. This was a perfect way of getting a little start on Christmas. I like to make a present for everyone as well as purchasing something special for them. Sometimes the presents are quirky and sometimes just useful.

The first present I made was given early. Older daughter and her partner have recently moved and she mentioned that there was a draft coming in under their front door. I decided to make a draft excluder for her. It needed to be useful and pretty.

It was made using a piece of cotton fabric and a charm pack. The charm squares were cut in half and reduced in length to 4 and a half inches. In addition one charm square was cut in 4 giving four 2 and a half inch squares. The cotton fabric was cut 32 inches long and 7 and a half inches wide. The charm rectangles were stitches together in 3 rows. with 7 rectangles on row 1 and 3 and two of the squares starting and ending row 2.  I cut 3 hearts from full charm squares and appliqued them on to the cotton. The two pieces were stitched together along a long side and backed with wadding and quilted. Then the remaining sides were stitched leaving the end open to turn right side out. I stuffed it with toy stuffing and closed the opening.  

The hearts were machine appliqued using a button hole stitch and I did echo quilting round the hearts.

I think my daughter can read my mind as no sooner had I finished sewing it than she rang to ask if I had any fabric I could use to make them a draft excluder. This present is already in use 

I had a length of this red and gold stripped fabric that was perfect for aprons and so I made a couple. These are a very simple shape and provide plenty of cover. These will go to two of my friends who love cooking but always manage to spill things down themselves. I kept them simple so didn't add a pocket.

Each Christmas I make little gift bags and small Christmas stockings for small gifts for work colleagues. Homemade biscuits fit beautifully into the bags and the stocking are just right for a tube of hand cream.

I made a slight error on one of the stockings as the fabric is upside down. This one will hang on our tree.

My final gifts have yet to be made, the ever popular fashion accessory - masks. John picked the goose fabric for his mask, Lucy wants the snowmen and mine will be the holly. Richard hasn't decided yet.

Thank you for visiting and here is today's participants. Do go and visit everyone to see what they've made.

Monday 19 October 2020

Saturday fun and Sunday stitching.

Saturday was a busy day with very little stitching but Scamp had his haircut, John and I visited Barnes wetlands and we went for a walk with Katy. Scamp goes to the groomers 4 times a year to have his hair clipped and enjoy a good wash and blow dry. We wash him at home as needed in between but he is a terrier and terriers like to investigate and have fun so letting his hair grow long, as many Yorkshire Terriers are pictured with, is not an option. So far I haven't been able to get a good photo of him so I've taken one from a previous time. Don't panic he won't get cold as he has a range of jumpers and dog coats that his loving admirers have given him. 

Scamp loves going to the groomers and always jumps into her arms when we enter and then follows her happily for his pamper session. He gets his hair done more frequently than I do but then I don't enjoy my trips to the hairdresser.

While he was in the groomers John and I had just over two hours before we would need to collect him. About a mile from the groomers is the London Wetland Centre. This was created from four disused Victorian reservoirs and provides a great space for wildlife and a venue for bird watching. We hadn't visited since February as it was closed for several months and when it reopened there were very few visitors allowed and the hides weren't open. Now you have to book but only one hide is still closed and during our visit we got to watch a kingfisher at close range. They had put in a one way system and as a result I had fun ignoring the main path and walking along the children's log walkway and over the rope bridge. In fact all the adults were doing the same! As we don't have young children we hadn't followed this route before and so we were surprised when we came across this bunch of cheeky fellas on the benches.

Once we had collected Scamp we drove to our older daughter's flat as we had some items to drop off to her. London is now in the UK tier 2 restrictions which means we couldn't go into Katy's flat, instead we decided to take a walk together. Scamp was more than happy with a walk. John and I are dieting and it works so much better if you up your exercise so a walk fitted the bill perfectly. We walked by the river Thames in Twickenham and found that there had been a very high tide with the river having come across the road. Nothing unusual as high tides often occur at this time of year and don't particularly cause problems but we have had a lot of rain this month and some places have reported flooding.

Once home on Saturday evening I made some butterfly cakes. It was Lucy's turn to decide the cake for the week and she asked for butterfly cakes with lemon curd and butter cream icing. Her last choice was fairy cakes, and I feel a theme going on here. I had one to test and it was delicious but otherwise I won't be eating any more.

This week I've been working on the grandmother's garden quilt. I needed to make quite a lot of flowers for the row I'm adding but I had all the centers prepped. I've made enough flowers to complete the next section of rainbow colours and the 2 Beatrix Potter flowers. After a lot of searching I found the 'safe place' where I'd put the BP fabric. Sunday evening I started adding the flowers to the main quilt top. I got as far as the blue flower which is only attached by two sides of one hexie. 

I like the way this row is looking. I'm going to continue with these flowers this week until I've added the full rainbow section and then I'll switch out and do some stitching on the millennium sampler.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. In her post yesterday she wrote about Siddi quilts and I found this very interesting. I've been searching for more information and really one to make a quilt in this style. 

For now I need to start work as I'm interviewing on line this morning and need to read through the application forms.

Take care


Tuesday 13 October 2020

Blocks and hexies.

Yesterday I was in work to see my new group and sort out a few problems but I was able to head for home at about 1 p.m. I managed a little tidying up of loose ends and planning todays work and then I put it away, turned off my phone and emails. Once I was sure that no one could get hold of me I set up the machine, pulled out some fabric and my cutting board and found the blocks I was going to make for the Austen family album quilt. I wanted to get two blocks made but decided to work on them one at a time. There's no point in stressing my brain unnecessarily. I always find the choosing of the fabrics takes the longest time so I was pleasantly surprised when the fabrics for the first block jumped out the bag and demanded to be used.

It was a cold and wet day outside so I wanted some sun and pretty flowers.  This block went together really quickly and I'm pleased with the result. The second block caused a few problems but only briefly. 

The block instructions are from the Austen Family Album blog by Barbara Brackman. They were released as a block a week back in 2014. I started this some time later but I have never finished all the blocks. I love Barbara's blogs because you not only get the free patterns but the history of the theme to go with it. I made the Votes for Women quilt when she released those blocks and my older daughter is the owner of the quilt. I found some of those blocks very taxing to make as there were Y seams and some of the blocks had very small pieces but  once finished I was very pleased with the quilt.

The circle block just above this writing was one that almost sent me mad but in the end I got it made. The blocks for the Austen Family Quilt have been very good to put together but there have been a couple of errors. In the second block the rectangle pieces end up too big so had to be cut down and there is one I have yet to make where the size of one of the pieces is completely wrong but it has been corrected in the comments. I think I have 6 or 8 blocks left to do to finish all 36 blocks. I should have time to do 2 tonight.

Yesterday evening I made a couple of flowers for the grandmothers garden quilt and stitched another flower to the main quilt top. I still can't find the fabric I'm using in this row of blocks but I haven't given up hope yet as there are still a couple of places left to look.

After work today we went and visited a friend. We decided we needed to see him in case we ended up unable to meet up with people outside of our household. At the moment that isn't a problem in London but the cases of covid 19 are certainly going up and hospital admissions and deaths along with the rise. In these odd times you have to get on and do things because you can never be sure what will happen tomorrow.

So plan for this evening. I'm going to try and make 2 more blocks for the Austen quilt and then I'll decide what I want to hand stitch this evening. I may do some embroidery, I'll decide once I know if there's anything interesting to watch.

Tomorrow I have meetings on Teams. They are good because I can do some crochet or embroidery as we don't turn our videos on and have the mic muted when someone else is talking. It's fun chatting with colleagues who are also friends to find out what they are working on during meetings.

Take care.


Monday 12 October 2020

Stitching on Sunday.

Today was a fun day which started with a long walk around the common. It has got quite cold in London over the last few days and yesterday when we tried to take Scamp for a walk he dug his paws in and refused to move. We'd only walked about a hundred yards so we took him home and John and I walked. Today I put his knitted coat on him and he was very happy to be going out. It wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been as there were a lot of people out and about and no one was socially distancing.  We cut a chunk off the common from our route as the area has very narrow paths. The walk was enjoyable and the sun was shining. 

When we got home I sorted out the laundry. I had put the washing machine on before we left for the walk and it had finished so was ready to be hung on the line. Then I made a rye loaf and a wholemeal chocolate cake. The whole house smelt delicious. I want to make chocolate frosting but I need icing sugar so the cake will be finished tomorrow.

Next I set up the quilt sandwich for my Christmas table topper before I started some hand stitching. I had to join the backing fabric but had enough wadding. 

This one is now ready for quilting once I decide what I want to do.

I prepped a few more hexies ready to stitch into the flowers and then I added 3 flowers to the quilt.

I'm having a bit of a panic as I can't find the Beatrix Potter fabric for the centres. There is one each of the seven rainbow colour flowers and then two with characters from the books by Potter. I've no doubt it will turn up but I want to find it now! I think this week my hand stitching will continue to be the Grandmother's garden quilt. I'm enjoying seeing it grow.

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

Today I've been into work to meet with some students and I'm tired. To relax I'm going to do some sewing and I'll do a little more work later. Now what shall I work on?



Saturday 10 October 2020

Forget the housework, I'm busy sewing.

I wasn't working yesterday and I had my sewing all planned out but a major IT glitch and a few student issues and that disappeared. All was not lost as I had nothing special planned for today, except the housework so I closed my eyes to the ironing, dusting, cleaning the kitchen floor and set up my machine instead. My goal for October is to get the Christmas table topper to the point where it has been fully pieced and I've completed the quilting. This is where I'd got to when I last worked on it.

I needed cream fabric to finish the top so when out shopping last week I popped into the local fabric shop. I cut the cream squares I needed and I was ready to go. All the other fabric was already prepared. John had decided to do some ironing so as I finished the seams and needed to press them I had to disturb him. I felt a little guilty about enjoying myself doing sewing but he very kindly told me I deserved my sewing time.. Having stitched all the fabric together there were 8 holly leaves that needed to be cut out and appliqued on at the corners. I used gold thread to do the applique. I liked the way it looked when I'd finished.

My next job was to pull out my wadding and find a backing fabric. I have some left over red Christmas fabric but I will have to join it as it isn't wide enough. I'll do that tomorrow, get the quilt sandwich made and hopefully start the quilting.

This evening I want to work out the rest of the Grandmother's garden quilt I'm making. I have been fitting this quilt in small gaps of time when I'm in the mood to work on it. I need to make a plan to get it finished. I also need to finalise the rest of the pattern. This is where I've got to. There are a few other flowers that I've added but not many.

If I have time I'm also going to cut some more leaves for my Autumn table runner.

I have had such a good day. Sewing really does leave me chilled out and relaxed. Next week I'm going into work on Monday and Thursday. On Tuesday and Wednesday I will do some sewing during the time I would be driving to work. It's such a better use of time. 

Tomorrow I really must do some house work but once that's out of the way I can start the quilting.


Wednesday 7 October 2020

October monthly goal

The last two days have been interesting as I have been in work to teach face to face. The campus is well laid out with one way systems in place. In the classroom there are marking on the floor to ensure the students seats are social distanced and the computer desk has a perplex screen. I was pleasantly surprised with the layout and my new student intake were very impressed. It all felt doable and won't really affect the different teaching strategies i.e lecture, group work etc. I'm not so impressed with the commute. I've been using my travel time for stitching or drawing and it's been far more fun than sitting in a traffic jam. I only have to go into work for face to face teaching and that will be alternate weeks so I'll still have extra 'me' time 

So here we are in October and it's time to set a goal for the month. The monthly link up party has been great as I've finished several projects. I love the October button with the pumpkin and spider.

I have several projects I want to get finished and it took me a little while to work out what I wanted to try and complete. I started a table centre/topper for the 'Christmas then and now' blog hop. I didn't finish it but was very close. I put the project away for a while as I didn't have sufficient fabric to finish so needed to visit a quilt shop. I've now done that so I can add the remaining pieces and get this quilted. This is how far I've got.

This will be my main goal for October. I also want my millennium sampler finished before the end of the year. I've been working on this for 20 years so I need it done and dusted. With this project I'm just aiming to spend all my hand stitching time working on it and see how far I get.

I also have a repair job to do on Richard's Star Trek quilt. Since I made this quilt he has used it everyday on his bed but it also gets taken out when meeting up with friends for picnics. He even takes it on holiday with him. It goes through the washing machine on a very regular basis and the binding has gone in several places. I promised him I would renew the binding and that hopefully I could do it this month.

Today I am working from home so I will be getting my sewing machine out during my lunch break just for a bit of a chill out. This evening I am going swimming with Katy and Lucy. Katy has already visited the pool and feels comfortable with the lay out and numbers of people. 

I'm linking this post with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for October Link up of one monthly goal.

Now to get on with some work for the day.


Monday 5 October 2020

A walk in the rain.

On Sunday morning it was still raining and the wind was quite blustery but the three of us wanted to walk, The planned walk was 6 miles but we couldn't get a taxi to drop us at the start so John relooked at a route and came up with a slightly shorter walk. We drove to the start and then walked to the point where we had finished our last walk and then walked back to the car along the same route. We started the walk from the car park at Lower Holbrook and followed the path towards the river.

There was a lot of green algae on the end of the inlet. After the large expensive boats in the marina this was a complete change, with much smaller vessels. We set off, walking into the wind and rain on the top of the sea wall. There were a lot of birds on the water and John was soon quite a distance behind us as he checked out the different species. By the end of the walk he had an impressive list of birds he'd seen. Lucy and I enjoyed chatting to each other and battling the weather.

Along the way we saw the Royal Hospital school in the distance.

This shows the front of the main building which overlooks the sports fields of the school. The school was nicknamed 'the cradle of the Navy'. It's a co-educational day and boarding school with naval traditions. You can read about the school's history HERE .  We got a closer look at the school  further on in the walk.

After a very chilly walk alongside the water we turned inland to walk past a private residency with lamas in the field. Annoyingly they wouldn't look up to give a good photo as they were intent on eating acorns. We followed the path past the school playing fields and then though a private garden. It led us to a church at Stutton. The church is pretty and set in a well laid out grave yard.

I thought when I took the first photo that the weather vane at the top of the tower was wonky and it is definitely leaning in the second photo. Several of the trees had beautiful autumnal leaves.

We had a look inside and there were several stained glass window. I particularly liked this one. The other windows had more traditional designs.

We had reached the point where we needed to turn round and head back to the car. It was much quicker on the way back as we had the wind behind us. Again John spent some time bird watching, it's always good when you can combine two hobbies.

Back at the car we enjoyed a warming cup of hot chocolate before driving home. We had enjoyed our weekend away even though it was so wet.

Today I went into the university for the first day of the new academic year. It felt a little scary after 6 months teaching on line. It was the students first day of the course and they were a nice group of people. They were more than happy with the way the room was laid out so they were totally distanced and several of them kept their masks on all day.

This evening I worked on my crochet and spent a little time considering my monthly goal for October. I'm teaching face to face tomorrow and Thursday and then I have a three day weekend of sewing. I need to restock on thread before then and maybe some fabric. I'm near a quilt shop tomorrow  so I'll make sure I'm all ready for my stitching weekend.

Take care


Sunday 4 October 2020

October already

I thought that due to the UK national lockdown and now local lockdowns that this year would drag along but for me it seems to be flying by. It feels like I blinked and September was gone and now here we are at the start of October. October is an odd month in the UK as you can get some glorious late summer days that are really warm and then the next day is cold and wet. The average temperatures for the month are usually between 7 and 14 degrees Celsius or 44 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures are usually warmer in the south of the country with London being the warmest. It can and does snow in part of the UK in October but mainly in Scotland although Leeds had snow on 24th September this year. This weekend we have weather warnings for very heavy rain.

The above paragraph was written on 1st October and it is now Sunday 4th. John, Lucy and I have been away for the weekend in Suffolk. Even though heavy rain was predicted the weather wasn't too unkind except for the journey on Friday. Our plan was to try and complete the Orwell and Stour river walks but we had a wet weather back up plan. Saturday was very wet in the morning and so we decided to visit places in Ipswich. Our first stop was Christchurch Mansions. This is a Tudor mansion with over 500 years of history. The house has a lot of art work on display by Constable and Gainsborough and in the Wolsey Gallery there was an exhibition about Ed Sherran.  You can read the history HERE  and HERE

The one way system we had to follow through the house took us to the gallery first. Ed Sheeran is from Suffolk and there was a lot of pictures and objects on display about his life and music, all starting with a lot of portraits of him.

The teenage girls going through the exhibition at the same time as us were very excited. The house was interesting and had some beautiful furniture. This tallboy was interesting because the inlay wasn't ivory as I assumed but horses teeth.

The fabric seat covering were very pretty

In one of the rooms there was this embroidered piece. Unfortunately the light from the window was reflecting off the glass.

Here's a close up. There were all sorts of flowers and creatures on the embroidery

As we walked round the house we came across a lot of long case clocks including one room that had 4. They were all in working order and running fairly to time. Some very very ornate like this one.

There were mannikins in period dress as part of the room settings. I rather liked the chatelaine displayed here, you wouldn't lose your scissors with them attached to a chain.

The one way system in place meant that we weren't able to enter several rooms. None of the bedrooms were open and you had to peer in though doorways or round corners. I particularly like to see the bedrooms as there are often quilts displayed on the beds. This one has something on it but I couldn't get close enough to see properly. The dress was nice but I'm so pleased we get to wear much more comfortable clothing.

We came across a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, entitled Makutu (1969)

Down in the laundry room there was a collection of irons. Thank goodness for our modern steam irons. Doing the laundry looked extremely hard work.

Having finished the tour of the house we had lunch in the tea room before exploring the park. Lots of autumn colours here and fungi.

In the afternoon we explored Ipswich museum and then the town. Our hotel was by Wherry Quay and we walked alongside the marina.

We came across Noah's Ark. This is a floating exhibition of bible stories. We didn't visit as we were running out of energy and time. We all needed a rest before we went out to dinner.

After dinner back in our hotel room we sat and chatted. I'd taken my crochet with me but didn't manage to do any because the crochet hook had slipped out of the bag into the boot of the car. I wasn't going hunting for it.

Today we managed a walk and I'll tell you about that tomorrow. I want to do some stitching before bed. This week I'm working on my millennium sampler. I'm currently working on the border.

Tomorrow I'm in work and teaching face to face for the first time since March. I have a new group of students starting and I'm really looking forward to it but I'm a little nervous as well.

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

Take care