Tuesday 28 February 2023

February goal completed.


I haven't join in with one monthly goal for a while, but this month I decided to join in as it might help me complete the Austen Family Album quilt. This quilt was published on a blog run by Barbara Brackman, starting in March 2014 and had 36 blocks. I started making the blocks in 2016 but progress was slow. Last year I decided I needed the quilt completed and out of my store cupboard. I completed the blocks in November 2020 and start stitching them into rows in December 2020. I'm not sure when I completed that process but at some point last year I added the border and made the quilt sandwich. I also made a start on the quilting but once again the quilt stalled after I'd completed 6 blocks. Over Christmas I quilted some more blocks and finally finished at the end of January. Well, I thought I'd finished but I found there were 16 pieces of sashing I hadn't completed. My goal for February was to complete that quilting and the wide border plus add the binding.  Having finished the sashing I turned my attention to the wide border. This quilt was 108 x 108 and very difficult to handle on my machine. I can't remember why I added such a wide border but I decided to cut it down to 2 and half inches wide. This made the quilt feel more balanced and slightly easier to handle.

So I've completed my February goal and I've almost finished stitching down the binding. I do need to make a label for the quilt and give it a proper name. This quilt is staying at home. I have an old quilt, that we use in the living room, that is starting to fall apart. I've mended it several times but now we need to replace it. This quilt will be perfect as the replacement. I do need to take a photo of the quilt but it will have to wait until I've finished the binding as I will need to take it out somewhere to get a good photo.

I'm linking this post with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for her One Monthly Goal Finish link up. Meanwhile I'm off to work on the binding.

Take care


Sunday 26 February 2023

Slow stitching

 This week has been good. The weather has been mixed with rain, especially over night, a couple of very sunny days and some fog in the morning. Since Friday the temperature has dropped but the weather was still good enough to enjoy taking Missy to Wimbledon common for a walk this morning. She hasn't had a lot of practice riding in the car and so when we got her into the car she was very excited. She really enjoyed her walk and loved running through the woods. I didn't take any photos today but here is one of her earlier in the week. It had been very wet overnight and Missy took delight in lying in the mud. She needed a bath when we got home. She loves running after balls and is very good at bringing them back so we can throw again.

Fortunately today's walk was dry.

This week I've managed to keep up with the daily inches I've been stitching for the international month of embroidery. I've really enjoyed doing this stitching. Todays was quite quick to do.

This is what it looks like to date.

I have also spent time this week stitching the binding down on my quilt. I still have quite a distance to complete it. I've gone round two corners so far.  I love using a stripped fabric for the binding.

I was hoping to finish the binding before the end of February, so I need to get a wriggle on since I've only got two days left.

On the stitching front I've stitched every day this week for at least 15 minutes. I'm really pleased with that and it means I've almost finished a UFO that has been languishing in my cupboard for far too long.

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

Take Care


Monday 20 February 2023

Slow stitching

 Sunday already and tomorrow I am back at work after a quiet, restful and productive week off. I've managed to sew everyday and kept up with the stitch along from Crabapple Hill studio. I'm making this piece using my left over embroidery floss. There is always some floss left after a project and it accumulates quickly, rather like the scrap fabric from quilting. At least left over floss doesn't take up much room. 

This weeks stitching has mostly been stitching the binding to the back of the quilt. It's a large quilt and it's going to take some time to stitch all the way round. Every day I've also completed the sew along. Doing some embroidery everyday is very relaxing and I'm enjoying the process. This is what I've got so far.

The teacup caused me problems and I had to unpick it 3 times. I'm still not happy with it but it will do. The rose above it is made doing cast on stitch. I had to practise this a few times before I could get it right. I must remember to go back and put the French knots in the centre of the red rose. 

I've also been finishing the bird houses from last year. I want to make these into a framed picture for John's birthday. This was my plan for last year but I never completed the stitching. I'm hoping to finish these by the end of February.

With all this slow stitching I am starting to complete some of my hand stitching jobs. Some days I stitch for about 20 minutes to half an hour but earlier in the week I spent a couple of hours. With hand stitching it is about how well my eyes keep working. I have an eye test booked for next Friday and I think I might need stronger glasses.

15 minutes of stitching this week 7/7. 15 minutes of stitching during February 16/19. 15 minutes each day in 2023  43/50. I think this may be the first New Years resolution I've managed to keep for longer than a week!

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up and Kate from Life in Pieces for her 15 minutes of stitching 

Take care


Sunday 12 February 2023

Slow Sunday Stitching.

 This week I have been trying to keep up with my plan to stitch every day. I managed 6 out of 7 days . The main stitching I've been doing has been the Crabapple Hill Studio stitch along. it has  been fun to do and I'm happy with how the piece is looking. Today there were two squares to stitch.

Here's the embroidery to date.

Yesterday I spent some time stitching the binding on the Austen Family Album quilt. I must come up with a new name for this quilt. Getting the binding stitched down will take some time and its a good job to do when watching TV. I need to start the next frog block once I've drawn it out.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching and Kate from Life in Pieces for her weekly stitching round up.

15 minutes stitching day/week 6/7 days                                                                                        15 minutes stitching February  9/12 days                                                                                      15 minutes in 2023       36/43 days

I'm on holiday this week so I see sewing in my future. 

Take care


Friday sewing

On Friday I had a half day and I was working at home.  Well it should have been a half day as I had agreed to interview in the afternoon but the morning was free. As always a meeting got put in the diary so my morning was a little disrupted. The good news was that it wasn't enough to affect my sewing plans. I wanted to get to work on my monthly goal so before the meeting I set up my machine and made sure I had bobbins filled and everything was ready to go. The meeting was fun and left me in a great mood for quilting. I had 16 pieces of sashing to quilt. I'm still not sure how I forgot to do these as I went along the blocks. The good thing about quilting the same pattern is that it gets easier as you go on and as a result the sashing was completed very quickly. This quilt is very large and I decided to cut the outside border down to size to make it a little more manageable. I'm not sure why the border was quite so deep or why I wanted such a big quilt but by the time I had finished the border was a more manageable 2 and a half inches wide.

I have gone through stages with this quilt. At the beginning I loved the blocks and the colours and fabrics I'd chosen. As I was stitching it together I decided I disliked it but I was determined to finish it. When I lay it on my bed to check I'd quilted it all I realised I was very happy with it. 

The colours play well together. When I started quilting the sashing I wished I'd chosen a darker green but now I like that it shows up. I was using the quilt as a practice piece for free motion quilting. and I tried to make each block different. I love the different textures quilting creates. Early on with the quilting I tried to do the clam shell pattern. As you can see it's very wonky but I'm really happy I tried it. I used a template to do this but I been practicing since and it's much easier without the template.

I did some straight line quilting on a few blocks and I like the texture it creates

Having checked I'd finished all the quilting I added the binding.

I need to turn it to the back of the quilt so I can start stitching it down. To do that I needed to find my really useful clips, which turned out to be easy. I've now started stitching the binding down but I haven't got very far yet.

Yesterday I decided to work on my dolls house rather than sewing. I'm trying to get all the windows painted and into the window frames. I've finished the four windows in the basement. There are 5 in the main house and 2 dormer windows in the attic. I hoping to have them all done by the end of the week.

I'm taking this coming week off and I'm hoping to get a bit of sewing done. I have a repair to do on Richard's star trek quilt and I want to finish making my cutting board cover/bag. We are also planning on helping Katy and Olly with painting grandson's bedroom.

Finally yesterday was Missy's first birthday. We bought her home when she was 8 weeks old and she has settled in so well as part of the family. Happy birthday Missy.

I'm hoping to get a new photo of her this week.

Take care


Tuesday 7 February 2023

A day out

At the start of this year John and I spent a little time to take stock of our life. There isn't anything majorly wrong with it but we do get very little space to do things as a couple. I know this is a complaint that many couples have and when your children are young it is expected. Back then we used to get a babysitter so we could go out together at least once a month. Meals for two in a quiet restaurant, a movie or a visit to the theatre were our preferred outings. Trips out to visit places or long walks were enjoyed by the whole family. Now our family is grown up but we still have two of them living at home. During covid lockdowns it was great as there was no chance to feel lonely but we realised we don't get much space for just the two of us. Over a glass (or two) of wine we realised we needed some time together each month. We already try to go away for a long weekend/weekend at least once a quarter but we needed to increase the 'us' time. Our decision was to plan in at least one day a month to do something together, just us, no other family members or dog. Our choice of outing for January was a trip to Dungeness nature reserve for birdwatching which would also include a walk.

We had done a circular walk in this area when we had stayed in Folkstone for a weekend way back in 2014, You can read about that trip Here The walk had been along the beach, past the power stations and round the outside of the nature reserve. We had popped into the reception area to find some information about the reserve in anticipation of a future visit.

The drive down the motorway was sunny and crisp, a perfect day for an outing. We started at the reception area and after getting the information about what birds had been seen we set off to circle the reserve. The sky was blue with fluffy clouds.

As we walked we looked across the largest gravel pit we could see the power station. Dungeness is a decommissioned nuclear power station. There are actually two power stations  A and B. Dungeness A stopped generating power on 31st December 2006 having operated for over 40 years. All fuel was removed from the power station by 2012 and had been sent for reprocessing. Dungeness B had two reactors that began operation in 1983 and 1985. In 2009 problems were discovered in a reactor and they remained offline for 18 months. In 2015 the reactors were upgraded and given an extension of use until 2028 but in 2018 the reactors were shutdown for a scheduled outrage maintenance. The outrage caused ongoing problems and so on June 7th 2021 its closure was announced. Removal of the fuel is underway but will probably take up to 10 years to complete.

If you look to the right of the picture you can see an area of land with posts around it. Through the binoculars I could see a lot of cormorants on the island and perched on the posts. I didn't have my big lens with me so couldn't get a good picture of them.

Walking through the reserve felt a little lonely. The landscape at times was very open whilst at others there was good ground cover and trees and bushes. There was a lot of gravel around but not surprising since the ponds were dug out gravel pits. We didn't see many other people even though we knew the car park was full and that nearer the reception building there were a lot of people. I was very happy that we had taken our shadow selves on the walk.

Whilst we could see the gulls, and waders when at the waterside we couldn't always see the smaller birds. This bush was a good hiding place to a big group of blue tits , and whilst we could hear them we couldn't see them.

We should have been able to complete a circular walk but having walked over three quarters of the way round we had to turn back as the path was completely flooded and the surrounding area was very soggy under foot. It wasn't a hardship to walk back the way we had come, especially as the weather stayed good all day. As we were almost back at the start we met this herd of sheep. Most of them were very obviously pregnant.

The reserve is difficult to photograph and as always the birds are even more difficult. Although we didn't get photos we saw a good range of birds including 3 marsh harriers. Unfortunately I didn't get a photo so I found this one taken by Pete Dommett

By Pete Dommett. Published March 24th 2021 

The UK has three species of Harriers and the largest is the marsh harrier. In 1971, this was Britain’s rarest breeding bird. Since then, numbers have increased and so that today there are about 590–695 breeding pairs in Britain.

Before we left we got a hot drink and spent a little time in the gift shop. At this time of year I'm always on the lookout for potential birthday presents for John but sadly nothing jumped out at me. We returned home very happy with our outing, having enjoyed the weak winter sun.

On Saturday we remembered our dear little Yorkshire terrier Scamp. The 4th February was his birthday and so we toasted his memory with some vey tasty red wine. Missy has filled the void Scamp left but he is a hard act to follow. I've owned several dogs over my life and Scamp was my favourite. Here's a photo of him having cheekily made himself very comfortable in bed.

Take care


Monday 6 February 2023

February Goal

I haven't taken part in 'one monthly goal' for a while. I have always found it useful as it helps to focus my sewing energies to complete a project. Sewing time became very short after the arrival of our grandson last May. As Katy's partner Olly works at the weekend she became a frequent visitor on one or both days. It is always lovely to see her and grandson but it did restrict my sewing time a little, (although sewing isn't as much fun as cuddling and playing with my grandson). That arrangement has now changed and they are visiting less often and so I need to sort out my priorities so I can complete my bigger projects. 

Recently I've been working on my Austen Family Album quilt. This quilt appeared on a blog run by Barbara Brackman entitled Austen Family Album which started in March 2014. A new block was posted each month and there were 36 blocks in total. I didn't start this quilt at that point as I was finishing off the Votes for Women quilt and had several other projects on the go. I'm not sure of the exact date I started it but I know it was towards the end of 2016. I had problems making blocks during 2017 due to chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy and on many of the blocks made at this point, the seams do not always match very well. I finally completed all the blocks in November 2020 and started stitching them together in December. I'm not sure when I made the quilt sandwich but once that was done the quilt sat around dreaming of being quilted. The quilting has taken a long time to do mainly because this is an enormous quilt measuring 108 x 108 inches. Finally the quilt is almost complete. I have been quilting the blocks and as I complete a block I had planned to complete the adjacent sashing. Only that's not what happened.

You should be able to see that some of the sashing is quilted but then there is some not done. 16 pieces of sashing in total haven't yet been quilted. I took my eye of the ball, getting far too excited about completing the main quilting. As a result I needed to finish this and then quilt the border. 

I am counting my goal as finishing the quilting on the sashing and border. If I have time I will add the binding. Being realistic I think the binding will be my goal for March but I do have a few days off next week so who knows what's possible.

I'm linking this post with Patty at Elm Street Quilts for her February Goal setting link party. I'm interesting to see what everyone is planning for the month.

Take care


Sunday 5 February 2023

A busy but peaceful Sunday

Today I planned to catch up on my chores. The last week has been busy and so I had cleaning to do and a mountain of ironing. I must admit that I find ironing very soothing and it gives me time to think and plan. I also love the finished items looking so neat and no creases. Chores over for the day and so I spent some time deciding on my next project for the dolls house. On Saturday I had finished my previous project, a sofa for the sewing room. I needed to make a seat and back cushion. First I had to choose a colour and then decide on the fabric. I'm convinced, that when I get round to making the dolls for the house, the lady owner will love bright colours. Therefor I chose a bright pink. I'm really happy with the completed item.

I now need to decide on the curtains for her sewing room. My progress on the dolls house is very slow but it is proving to be very enjoyable. This week I bought the embroidery floss to make a carpet for the sewing room. Getting the house put together and painted has been fun but the real fun is going to be designing the interior.

Over the week I've been stitching almost every day. Some of it has been minor repairs i.e. sewing buttons back on and catching down a hem that had come undone. I also stitched some of the next frog embroidery. I had hoped to finish this by today but I run out of the green floss. I will need to pop out in my lunch hour and get some more. Here's how far I've got.

One frog diving into the pond. Over the week I've also been stitching the daily design by Meg Hawkey for her sew a long to celebrate international embroidery month. I'm having a lot of fun with this . I still need to finish stitching todays design but I'm otherwise up to date. I stopped stitching to write this post and as soon as I've finished I'll have time to finish up the stitching for the day. Here are the other stitcheries.

I really do need to finish colouring the designs. At the moment I'm colouring them as I go along. 

I'm linking this post with Kathy from  Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. I'm also linking with Kate from Life in Pieces. This week I stitched 5 of 7days which makes 27 days of 31 for January. I've also stitched 3 days of the 5 days of February. I'm not sure how long I can keep this up but so far in 2023 I have spent at least 15 minutes sewing on 29 of the possible 35days.

I'm off to finish the last bit of todays stitchery, Just the satin stitch eft to do and then I need to decide what my monthly goal will be.

Take care