Tuesday 20 February 2024

Sunrise and quilting

When I went to the car to go to work I realised there was a lovely sunrise. On the shorter winter days it would still be dark and if there was a pretty sunrise, it has been after I get to work or whilst I'm driving. This was my first chance of the year to get a photo. Seeing the sunrise always makes me happy.

Yesterday evening I settled myself comfortably to complete sewing down the binding on the baby quilt. There wasn't that much left to do so it didn't take long.

I'm very happy with this quilt. The baby is due in March and once he or she is born I'll add their name to the label and stitch it to the quilt. That leaves two more baby quilts to make, one for a colleague and one for one of my students. My colleague and his wife are expecting a baby boy in late March or early April so that is my next project. My student is also expecting a boy but in May.

This evening whilst waiting for dinner to cook I quickly got my machine out and made a start on the quilting on the pinwheel quilt. I had an idea of what I wanted to do in the square blocks and this is what I started working on. I am using these two motifs.

Currently I have no idea how to quilt the pinwheel blocks. Every so often over the evening a little glimmer of an idea has been trying to develop in my brain. Hopefully I will get the full picture soon as I would like to get this quilt finished this month.

After dinner I picked up my knitting whilst watching a re-run of Waking the Dead. I did have to unpick a row as I got too engrossed in the programme but I soon corrected the error.

I'm hoping to finish work early tomorrow and so will be able to get on with the quilting. I also need to check I have everything I need for our weekend away. We are visiting the Isle of Wight and I am really looking forward to it as I haven't been there for many years.

Now I need to wash my hair and then make sure I have everything I need for work tomorrow.

Take care


Sunday 18 February 2024

A busy Sunday.

I know Sundays are supposed to be restful before you return to work on Monday but I was excited to get some more sewing done so I got myself organised and made a start. On the Red Manor House quilt the next round is a border. I had identified some red fabric to make the binding for the pinwheel quilt I have yet to quilt. So I got to thinking, was there enough fabric to do the border on the Manor House quilt and the binding on the other one. It took minutes to measure the fabric and yes there was enough.  I Quickly got the machine set up, cut the fabric strips needed and soon had the borders added. I then tried to take a photo but Missy decided it was time to photo bomb. I think she felt I had spent enough time over the weekend sewing and I should be playing with her instead. Anyway you probably get that I sewed on the next round. I love the red, it's such a rich colour. I'm so pleased Missy didn't have muddy feet. It was raining when I let her outside this morning but since then the rain has stopped and it's been nice and sunny. When the sun first started to shine it was like a light bulb had been turned on.

The next round on this quilt is an Irish chain border. I'm trying to make this quilt from scraps and fabric I already have so I will try and follow the instruction on the dark, pale etc fabrics so I can create the pattern but it will be a scrappy round.

Having finished, that I sewed the final half square triangles for the Mystery quilt I'm doing. All the instructions have now been released but it is still fun. The half square triangles have taken me longer than I expected. There were two colour groups I hadn't shown. Here are the middle square for the blocks. Possible I shouldn't have taken the photo of them on the pink background.

Although all the half square triangles are now made I need to trim the blocks. I'll try and fit that in over the evenings this week. Once that job is done I can start sewing the blocks together. There are two layouts for the quilt but I have yet to decide which one I prefer.

Before putting my machine away I sewed the main pieces of the sewing machine pincushion together. The pattern is by Debbie Harris Designs and I bought the pattern at last years Stitch Festival. It turned out quite well. This years Stitch Festival is in March and I will be going with my friend Michelle again. We had a lot of fun last year.

This evening I will finish stitching on the binding of the baby quilt and then I'll move on to the little country embroidery. It is my goal for February to finish this piece. There is still a fair amount to do but I am away this weekend coming so will be taking this with me for some slow stitching relaxation in the evenings. I love how this piece is progressing.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching I'll pop over later and see what Kathy and others have been working on. 

Take care


Saturday 17 February 2024

Flowers and paper piecing.

Over the week I've either been knitting the back of the cardigan or working on the little embroidery. The knitting has been the easiest to work on as the pattern is easy and so I can enjoy watching the TV at the same time. I have now finished the back and started work on the left front.

The embroidery has also moved forward and I plan to have this finished this month. I tried watching TV whilst stitching but managed to stab myself a couple of times so I gave up.

Every two weeks I have a flower delivery.  It's fun getting the delivery and finding out what's inside. I could look on the website but that takes some of the fun away.

The flowers come with instructions for arranging them and plant food . They usually last a minimum of two weeks and depending on the flowers they often last longer.  The flowers are well packaged to keep them safe from crushing and the boxes are reused. I love the little caps they put on the 'blooms'.

I tend to put the flowers into a vase so they can open properly and then move them into a more appropriate vase if needed.

Some of the flowers from the last delivery will be good for a few more days.

Yesterday morning John and I went to visit Katy, Olly and Aubrey. Katy wanted some help with putting up a shelf and fixing a baby gate on Aubrey's bedroom. We were supposed to go to Kew Gardens in the afternoon for the Orchid festival but we were both very tired so we headed home. We stopped in Kingston to pick up a pair of knitting needles. Somehow I've lost one of the pair that I need for knitting the ribbing of my cardigan. We decided to have a cup of tea before driving home. It was really refreshing and made the drive much easier. Once home I rebooked tickets for the orchid festival.

Today I had a sewing day. My plan was to complete my February challenge for the Chookshed Challenge. 

The challenge was number 2 and my number 2 was to complete the next round of the Red Manor House quilt. This is how far I had got before the challenge.

The diamonds in the last round were foundation paper pieced and although I managed to make them and it wasn't too difficult, I didn't enjoy the experience. The four corner blocks of the next round are paper pieced and I had put this quilt to the back of the cupboard as I didn't want to do any more paper piecing. Still a challenge is a challenge and I also need to move this quilt along. I did raw edge applique for the dove, flower and sheep blocks and then set about making the arrow blocks. This proved a lot more challenging than I would have liked  and there was a lot of unpicking in an effort to get it right. In the end I managed an acceptable job. Acceptable to me that is. This quilt is for me, so providing I'm happy with it there is no problem. Having made the arrow blocks as well as I could I then had problems sewing the various blocks together. I put blocks in the wrong order or upside down. I got fed up with unstitching the blocks. Finally I got it put together and although the arrow blocks are a mess I am happy with how it looks.

If there are any more paper pieced blocks I can assure you I will be using applique instead. The next round is a border followed by Irish Chain, and no paper piecing!

I have some household jobs to do tomorrow and want to make some bread but I think there will be time for sewing. For now it's time to head to bed.

Take care


Sunday 11 February 2024

Bird watching, and sewing.

Yesterday John and I went on a coach trip to Titchwell Marsh in Norfolk for a day's bird watching. The journey there was good, with no hold ups and by the time we arrived the day had warmed up and the sun was shining. There is quite a lot of walking at Titchwell and on Friday I had pulled a muscle in my left leg so I was looking forward to some bird watching but not the walking involved. As luck would have it an ex colleague of mine was on the same trip with her husband. She had tripped at home that morning and banged her head so we decided to leave our husbands to get on with the bird watching whilst we had a slower start, with coffee. We joined two other members of the trip for the walk round the reserve and the birdwatching.  The four of us took everything at our pace and had a great day. I met up with John for lunch and he was having a good day.

We had been told that there was a tawny owl roosting in a tree along the boardwalk. First we spent some time watching the birds on the feeders. There were a lot of chaffinches, blue tits, long tailed tits, gold finches and bramblings all very busy eating. I was fascinated watching them flit about and forgot to get a photo. When we returned to the feeders later the pigeons had taken over. We headed out to try and see the owl. Having located the right tree we eventually found the owl near the top, partially hidden by ivy. It was impossible to get a good photo due to the distance. Turning round this little robin was singing his heart out  and he stayed very still whilst I got his photo.

When we moved on to the freshwater marsh there were a lot of birds which we could see using binoculars but were too far away for a good photo. I really must remember the bigger lens.

The front island had a group of golden plover and also lapwings. We walked down to the beach, past the salt marsh and the tidal marsh. I was very happy that the mud was in the marsh and not on the path. I like the patterns in the mud and that it glistened a silver colour in the sun

At the beach we spent some time looking for shells. There were a lot of broken shells and you had to look really carefully to find the whole ones.

The beach was deserted except for a few people

Out on the sea there were scoter ducks. These are sea ducks and found far out from land. We looked at them through the birdwatching scopes that some people had with them.

Normally I am far more engaged with bird watching and I was pleased to see several birds that were a new spot for me, including the Bramblings. Having taken a more slower approach to the day I wasn't feeling the pain from my pulled muscle but I still enjoyed the trip. There were a lot of different species and as a group 89 different bird species were seen. John saw over 50 different species and that included several that he had never seen before.

Today I decided I would try and catch up with the mystery quilt. I managed to get quite a lot done. I completed making the half square triangles for 3 more groups and making the large blocks. Here's what I finished

I still have two more groups to turn into half square triangles and I need to do some block trimming. There have been far too many HST's in the last couple of weeks.

Having packed this away I went on a hunt for suitable fabric for the remaining appliques on the red manor house quilt.  I am making this quilt from fabric from my stash and preferably from left over scraps. I am trying to reduce my fabric supplies at the moment as they seem to be taking over a lot of space. In the end I went through all my supplies, refolding fabric, sorting it into the right storage boxes and generally tidying everything up. I haven't quite finish but it is already much more organised, and I found fabric I could use in the blocks..

I also spent a little time this evening planning how to quilt the pinwheel quilt.

I have an idea of what I want to do in the four patch squares but it is the pinwheels that are currently giving me brain ache. I'll sleep on it and maybe a plan will have miraculously popped into my head when I wake up tomorrow.

I have some slow stitching to do tonight on the baby quilt binding. I have one long and part of a short side to complete and I have sufficient time to do it, so by the end of this evening I should have a finish. I will need to add a label but I will leave that until the baby is born and I have his or her name.

I like the fabric I'm using for the binding. This was a piece left over from a redwork quilt I made. I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching.

Take care


Friday 9 February 2024

Mystery quilt.

A busy week interviewing and marking as well as teaching, so not much sewing has been happening, however I have moved projects forward. The mystery quilt I started from Good Hope Quilters Guild called 'When you shine' has been moving along slowly. This is made using 9 fat quarters. I had fun choosing the fabrics which were then cut into 4.5 inch squares. These were divided up to give 9 groups of fabrics and from them half square triangle units were made. So far I have created half square triangles from three of the groups. I've already posted the first group and here is the second group

Here are the blocks for the third group. I still need to sew the large block together and trim the rest of the HST's.

That still leaves 6 groups to turn into half square triangles. I may live to regret starting this mystery!

In the evening over the week I have been slowly stitching the binding down on the baby quilt and have one side left to stitch. I have been alternating the binding with my knitting.  I am so close to finishing the back of this cardigan. I haven't done any knitting for ages and so I'm really enjoying it. The pattern is quite relaxing to knit but every so often I make a mistake and have to unpick a row.

I also made the quilt sandwich for the pinwheel top.

I had to piece the backing as the bear fabric wasn't quite big enough. The red strip fabric goes across the middle of the back. The quilt is now sandwiched and I just need to decide on the quilting.

Tomorrow we are going on a bird watching trip. This is another coach trip but this time to Titchwell Marsh in Norfolk so sewing will be on hold. Unfortunately I get travel sick if I try and knit, sew or read on a moving vehicle. I do enjoy watching the scenery go by rather than having to concentrate on the road. You do miss a lot when you are the driver. We should be home about 7;30 and so I can fit in a little hand stitching and hopefully finish the binding. The weather forecast for tomorrow is reasonable but being on the coast it will probably be cold and windy. I need to remember my wooly hat and gloves. I'll hopefully have some good photos to share.

Take care



Monday 5 February 2024

Catch up time and slow stitching.

Yesterday I decided that I needed to catch up on some sewing. John was out for the morning and Lucy and Richard were doing their own thing so it was a perfect time to take over the dining table and catch up on some sewing bits. Last year I decided to make this dinosaur quilt.

and in January I made the fern blocks. There are three blocks of each colour.

I pulled out the bags I had prepared for each of the blocks. Two had the colourful fabrics and the background but the rest needing the background fabric and I needed to cut the sashing and border fabric. It took quite some time to get all the cutting complete. At this stage all the fabric is in big pieces e.g. width of fabric. As you make each block you subdivide the fabrics. This suits me as there are quite a lot of small pieces such as 1.5 inch x 1.5 inch. I would lose these pieces if they were already cut. By the time I had finished, all the block bags had the background and colourful fabrics in them.

Everything is carefully labelled so I don't have to stop and worry if I've pulled up the right piece of fabric. It took some time but it was time well spent. After that I decided to make the Cycad blocks. There is no point in starting the dinosaur blocks until all three plant blocks are made. This is because they fit into the completed dinosaur blocks. In total there were 18 cycad blocks to make, three of each colour. These blocks are all trimmed to the correct size and ready to go when needed.

I still have the vine blocks to make before I can start the dinosaurs. I've set myself the target of making one type of block a month. I have the vine and 4 different types of dinosaur blocks to make, so this project should be completed by the autumn at the latest.

Sharing the dining table with my machine is a flower arrangement. I love these frilly tulips.

The lilies are also a fabulous red.

In the evening I had planned to do some stitching on my poppy embroidery but we decided to watch a film and so I opted to carry on with my knitting. I find it easier to knit when watching TV. I have almost finished shaping for the armholes and the back will be finished quite soon.

Today I am working from home as I am interviewing students this afternoon and all our interviews are conducted online. That means I should have some time for sewing this evening as I don't have the commute home. Right now I'd better get organised and start work.

Take care


Saturday 3 February 2024

A walk in Richmond park..

Today John, Lucy and I had planned to take Missy on a walk along the Thames path. Our plans changed when older daughter asked to join us but keep it more local to where she lives. So we opted for a walk in Richmond park. This is a lovely open space and Missy had never been there. We knew she would love it so we changed the venue and drove to the park to meet Katy and her 20 month old son. Grandson and Missy were very excited to be walking together and both of them were very gentle with each other. We parked at Pembroke Lodge near the Richmond gate and after having a coffee we set off toward Kingston gate and beyond. As we moved away from the road I was able let Missy off her lead and Grandson decided it was time he went walking as well. They spent some time chasing each other. On our walk we came across this large tree stump.

Grandson decided he wanted to see inside and once there he played at being in a rocket. Missy would have liked to join him but I thought that could get a little dangerous.

Walking further on we came across a herd of deer. There are a lot of deer in Richmond park and at this time of year there is a cull when the park is shut. This is to ensure that the number of deer doesn't exceed the number the area can support. Deer in UK don't have any natural predators and hunting is not allowed in the park.

Grandson wasn't at all concerned by the deer and told me they were reindeer! We kept Missy on her lead for safety. Not much further on we stopped for a snack as it was lunch time before heading to the Isabella plantation. This area is fenced to stop the deer getting in. It is a beautiful garden area with ponds, ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers. Missy was a little annoyed to find she had to be on her lead in this area. We came across a scots pine and I had to take a photo. I couldn't fit all of the tree in the viewfinder it was so tall.

My grandson loves flowers and spent some time hunting them out. The dwarf narcissus were pretty

Grandson picked up some of the blooms that had been blown off the camellia and carried them for a while 

I'm not sure what this plant is but I liked it. Any ideas anyone?

There are several ponds in the Isabella plantation but we hadn't send any ducks until the very last pond.

We left the plantation and once again Missy was happy to be off her lead and running free. It didn't last for long as we soon came to the road which took us back to the car park. A lovely family walk involving some running, singing, talking and a lot of giggling. By the time we got back to the car we had walk almost 6 miles. Even Missy was feeling a little tired.

Back at home I had some housework to do and then I'd planned to get the sewing machine out. I decided that I would do some hand stitching and then a little knitting later in the evening whilst watching TV. I couldn't rustle up the energy needed to get the machine set up or pull out the project bags. I love reading about the sewing rooms that many of you have and I'm currently trying to make a space in the house where I can leave my machine set up.  I'll show you the hand stitching tomorrow. For now I just need to relax.

Take care


Friday 2 February 2024

February plans

This morning felt like a bit of a rush. Although it is my none working day I had arranged a meeting with a student and her mentor. We hold these meetings every 12 weeks to ensure the student is progressing well and there are no major problems.  The mentor had lots of questions and so the meeting took quite a time. As soon as it finished I needed to be on my way to the hospital for my MRI abdomen scan. They didn't think I would need any contrast medium given by injection but in the end I did. That meant the MRI took longer than planned. It is an odd experience but not frightening. I spent my time concentrating on my breathing which was useful as at times I had to hold my breath. Without holding your breath the abdomen will move as you breathe. I was very impressed with the unit, it was new, very modern and clean and bright. The staff were friendly and helpful. Once home I decided to finish watching my Agatha Christie murder mystery to chill out and relax. I'd intended to do some knitting whilst I watched it but I became engrossed in the storyline. Next up John and I went for a walk to get our daily exercise so it was afternoon before I was able to start planning my February sewing.

The Chookshed stitchers challenge for the month is number 2. My number 2 project is to progress my Red Manor House quilt by completing the next round. So far I have completed this much.

Here is a photo of a completed version of this quilt from the Festival of Quilts 2023. This was made by Brenda Otter and Lynda Edmunton from Abergele UK.

My version has been languishing in a project bag for some time and the reason is simple. The arrow blocks in the next round are paper pieced and I don't like paper piecing.  I managed to make the cute diamond blocks but I paper piece so rarely that I forget how to do it and have to re-educate myself in the technique. The animals ,plant and birds in this round are appliqued and I've already made a start on them by completing the plant blocks. Guess I'll just have to get the next round made or you'll all be calling me a wuss.

For this challenge I didn't complete my January goal which was to complete the little poppy embroidery. In fact I did no work on this project at all. This is how far I've got with the piece. I need an audio book to listen to whilst I stitch.

I want to finish the baby quilt I've made for my colleague. There is just the binding to stitch down, so shouldn't take long.

I need to sandwich and quilt the top I created last month so that it can be donated. I also want to finish the mystery quilt along I joined. This quilt will also be a donation quilt. I intended joining in with the rainbow challenge in January but run out of time so I will need to make a green block and a block for this months colour. It sounds like it's going to be a busy month so I need to be super organised since we are going on another bird watching trip next weekend and at the end of the month we are away in the Isle of Wight. At least there is an extra day in February this year to help fit everything in.

Take care


Thursday 1 February 2024

Welcome to February and a walk.


I always love a new month, they seem full of possibilities. Maybe a new project, new fabrics, visits to new places and of course celebrations. This February we can celebrate Chinese New Year on the 10th, Shrove Tuesday on the 13th (yummy pancakes), Valentines Day, the start of Lent on the 14th and, being a leap year, an extra day on the 29th. We will also celebrate Missy's 2nd birthday on the 11th. 

January has been fairly productive. I completed a baby quilt, I just need to stitch down the binding. I've made another quilt top which needs to be sandwiched ready for quilting. I completed the vine blocks for the dinosaur quilt and started a mystery quilt a long and a log cabin pillow. I also knitted the back of my cardigan up to arm holes. I'm rather pleased with my progress since work was busy, we had a trip to Slimbridge and a weekend away in Worcester. I also set my reading challenge for the year at 30 books. I need to read 2.5 books a month and in January I read 3, so I'm on target.

I said I'd tell you about our walk on Sunday. We planned to complete a circular walk starting and finishing at the main street of Elmley Castle and taking in the summit of Bredon hill.  The hill is home to Roman and Iron Age relics and standing stones and has inspired A E Houseman and Ralph Vaughan Williams. As we ascended the hill from the village we had great views across the area even though it was rather misty.

At the summit there is a tower known as Parson's Folly. It was built in the mid-18th century by John Parsons V (1732–1805), MP and squire of Kemerton Court. He is said to have built the tower to 39 feet tall to raise the summit of Bredon Hill to exactly 1,000 feet. The tower now houses communications equipment. The views were spectacular from the summit.

It was very windy at the top but the wind was doing a great job of blowing the mist away. The top of the stone in front of John had a topograph on it and we had fun identifying the distances to the local towns.

We started the descent going though a wooded area and then along the field margin until we can to this barn. The little dot on the top right hand of the roof was a kestrel. It didn't fly off until we were very close.

The barn had a sundial high up on the wall and this seemed to be the remnants of Sundial Farm.

We continued descending with sometimes a brief slope up

Towards the end of the walk there was a steep descent and we said goodbye to the views across the country.

Just before we arrived back in the village we went past this waterfall.

We came out at the church and we walked through the churchyard to get to the road. There was a beautiful drift of snowdrops.

Once back at the car we changed out of our hiking boots and visited the local pub for a drink and something to eat. John enjoyed the local beer and I had a pineapple juice since I was driving. Refreshed we set our route back to home and enjoyed an uneventful journey.

I didn't do any sewing when I got home today, instead I watched an updated version of an Agatha Christie murder on TV. Tomorrow is my none working day but I have an MRI of my abdomen so the plastic surgeon can check the blood flow is good enough to undertake my breast reconstruction. Once I get back home I am having a sewing day. I also need to think about my February projects.

Take care