Sunday, 29 June 2008

Enlarged Stone the Crows (66)

Thanks to Amy for pointing out that it wasn't possible to enlarge the picture of my Stone the Crows quilt. I've changed it for a larger picture, so the words should be legible now. It seems to take you into Picasa if you click on it, but that will have to do for now! I'm off to watch last night's episode of Dr Who again. It was an absolute corker, well worth a second viewing.

Wedding Anniversary (66)

The Coach and Horses

The Bell

The White Hart

Yesterday was our 29th Wedding Anniversary. We don't usually make a big fuss, but since we had the Open Morning for about six prospective purchasers we decided to leave the estate agents to it and go out for the day. DH wanted to run with his old running club in the morning, as they had some special event, so I went for a stroll round East Grinstead, the town nearest to the village where we used to live. It was fascinating to see what had stayed the same and what had changed. Luckily, our favourite cafe, in the book shop, was still there, so after buying a book from a charity shop I was able to stop in there for a cup of peppermint tea.

After I collected DH we went to look at some campervans, but only saw one that we liked. We were visiting a place that converted VW vans and most of them were too small. We don't want anything too large, but I would like to have our own toilet and shower. 

Then, it was on to Godstone for lunch. Godstone is a village close to where I used to teach and although it is on the main London to Brighton road is still very 'villagey'. We had lunch in the Coach and Horses, a pub that dates back to the 15th century. There are two other pubs in the village - The Bell which dates from around 1393 and The White Horse which dates from the reign of Richard II, who died in 1400. I imagine the reason that such a small village has three pubs is because it was always on the 'main' road from the South coast to London. 

After lunch we watched some cricket on the village green (how English is that?) - but I still don't understand the rules so had no idea what was going on really, apart from one chap throwing the ball at another chap who tried to hit it and loads of other chaps standing around trying to catch it.
I did a little sewing when we got home, and managed to put the borders on to my Stone the Crows quilt. I'm planning to give this to my old school. In the original all four lettered borders face in, so that the bottom one would be upside down. I decided to put it the correct way up so that the children could read it. Now of course, it's not clear which direction you should read. So, I've got to decide whether to leave it or whether to change it. You might be able to see what I mean if you enlarge the picture.

Today - well, first of all many congratulations to Candace on her 44th wedding anniversary today. And then, I think I'll take the plunge and pin my Strawberry Crush and start quilting that. I'll keep it simple I think (a) because it will be my first piece of quilting with the new machine (b) because it will be my first 'real' bit of free motion quilting and (c) because it's a pretty busy quilt already. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

TLC (65)

First job today - a little TLC for my sewing machine. After sewing so much wadding together yesterday it needs to be thoroughly cleaned and oiled and needs a new needle. I also need to change the blade on my rotary cutter. It was getting blunt and cutting all the wadding just about finished it off, so I need to change it and send the old one off to be sharpened. My cutting board was in such a state afterwards that I took it in to the shower with me to wash it! Nowhere else big enough. I fear that I'm going to have to buy a new one soon though - how long is one supposed to last do you think? I've only had mine for about nine months.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Piecing wadding and a visit to Brighton (65)

This morning I spent a jolly couple of hours piecing together hundreds (okay, I exaggerate, but there were probably about twenty) of scraps of wadding, enough to fit my single bed size Strawberry Crush. I found a perfect serpentine stitch on my new machine, and the whole thing ended up perfectly flat, which was amazing. So -- do I feel noble or what!! A virtually free wadding can't be bad.

We went to Brighton at lunchtime to meet number two son and his partner for lunch. The weather was gorgeous today, bright and sunny but not too hot, and we sat outside for lunch at a restaurant right by the sea. Then we found a fabric shop and I bought some material to make a shirt for No 2 son, as well as a shirt pattern and a trousers pattern for myself. We also went into the shop that I bought my new sewing machine from and I picked up the even feed and quarter inch feet that I forgot to buy when I bought the machine. So now there's no excuse. Then we had a cup of tea back down by the sea, and played a game of chicken with the waves. All in all, a lovely day.
So, I've got plenty to be doing over the next few weeks - shirts to make for DH and no 2 son, trousers for myself, as well as all the quilting and stitching I've been planning.

I know I put this Dear Jane quilt in my slide show yesterday, but I thought you might like another look at it. It's the first I've seen 'for real' and it was quite stunning. Perhaps I'll make a start on it for myself one of these days.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Cyber Stitching quilt finished and Quilt Show visit(64)

I managed to finish the little wall hanging from the Cyber Stitching kit this morning. It will be going as a house-warming present to my sister-in-law, but I like it so much I will probably make another for myself at some time. I wonder if I can fashion a little quilt hanger from a wire coat hanger? I was looking at some online and the cost is horrific.

This afternoon I went to a quilt show at Sandown Racecourse. It was touch and go whether I would make it as I have been feeling so tired and yuk over the last few days. I was determined to go though, so I did. I thought I was going to have to leave as soon as I got there though! It was very crowded, with lots of stands and I felt a bit confused and groggy. But I kept strolling around until I got the feel of the place, and then felt a bit better. There was a quilt exhibition with quilts in several different categories. Some were brilliant, some were just too perfect to be called quilts, some were great fun. I took a few photographs of the ones which grabbed my attention. 

I made a few purchases, but mostly  boring stuff, like thread, calico, refills for my chalk marker. I did get a length of purple fabric to back my Strawberry Crush + One quilts - garish, but cheap. I also bought a wall hanging pattern and the Happy Villages book by Karen Eckmeier. If you haven't seen these have a look at Tanya's blog, they are great fun and I've been tempted for ages. 

Friday, 20 June 2008

Cyber Stitching Kick Off (63)

I decided to make a start on the stitcheries this evening, else I would have nothing to Show and Tell while the actual Stitchery Day is going on. So, just a few hours early, here are the magnet and the bookmark. Sorry the picture is all so yellow - it's dark here so I had to use the flash. No real problems, except that I stitched the large copy of the picture for the magnet instead of the small one. Luckily I had some green felt that I was able to use. I added some iron-on vilene to the bookmark, to give it a little extra body.

I hope everyone has a great day. I'll try to check in before you leave, if I wake early enough tomorrow morning. The chocolates were delish - I've never had chocolate covered liquorice before. 

Tomorrow I plan to make the little wall-hanging, as a house-warming present for my sister-in-law, and make a start on the stitcheries for the quilt. Check back here later to see what I've managed to do.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Exhausted! (62)

Well, it's been another quiet couple of days. Yesterday I read nearly all day, apart from a bit of stitching on the Capricorn BOM. I was reading Richard Hammond's book On the Edge - an account of his accident. For those of you who don't know who he is, he's a presenter on a very popular television programme called Top Gear - ostensibly a car programme, but extremely entertaining. About 18 months ago he had a dreadful car accident, driving a jet powered car for the programme, and suffered severe head injuries. The book is the story of his fight for life and then the road to full recovery. It's very well written and was one of those 'read in one sitting' books.

Unfortunately, last night I had a migraine, which has left me completely wiped out today, so I've done nothing, apart from put a few things back into the newly painted bedroom and spend far too much time on the computer. I watched Planet of the Apes this afternoon - the original Charlton Heston film, which I had never seen. I'm afraid I never much cared for him as an actor, and the film is pretty dreadful - absolutely perfect when you're feeling rough and just want something to doze off to!

I must go and do something about supper now, and hopefully do a bit of hand sewing this evening. I hope to recover some energy soon as there's a quilt show at Sandown Race course over the weekend and I'd love to go along.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Give-away (61)

Megan, at Growing Notes, has reached 100K visitors to her blog and is having a giveaway to celebrate. Pop over to have a look at her blog - jolly interesting - and the super little quilt she is giving away.

Cyber Stitching (60)

Life has been very quiet over the last couple of days, so nothing much to write about. BUT, great excitement yesterday morning. The postman brought my package from Australia for Mrs Martin's Quilt Shop's Cyber Stitching day on Saturday. There are starter kits for a bookmark, fridge magnet, small wall hanging and a small quilt. The book has several other pretty ideas, and I've already made the bag. Isn't it cute? The handles seem to have got tucked away when I took the photograph, so I've taken another photograph of the bag on its own. There's even a 
badge with my name on and some chocolates - chocolate raisins I think. So, apart from someone coming to view the house at 12.30 Saturday is a stitching day. Victoria, Australia is 9 hours ahead of the UK, so I'll probably be starting just as they're finishing. If I'm awake at my usual early time I should be able to just say hello via e-mail before they finish.

Today I've got to clear one of the bedrooms as we're having it decorated tomorrow. The rest of the house is okay but this room is really rather shabby, and might put potential buyers off a bit. Apart from that, and some tidying, the house is ready for sale now. I'm getting quite excited and hope we aren't disappointed.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (59)

Well, I did it. I managed to get up to London and see the show. This was quite a personal triumph for me, as I have suffered from panic attacks for some time now and after having to leave The Lion King some years ago have found it very difficult to face going to the theatre. I get incredibly nervous when I'm travelling too. I've missed so many things over the last few years because of my anxiety disorder, but was determined not to miss this.

And I'm so glad I didn't. The show is such fun, so energetic and colourful and the music of course is catchy and amusing. It's not deep or thought provoking, just unadulterated good fun. It was great too, to see Lee Mead in the lead role after having seen him grow throughout the reality TV programme Any Dream Will Do. He's got great stage presence and a cracking (for non-UK readers that means terrific) voice. 

Now, of course, I'm hoping to plan some more trips to London and theatre visits. I'll just have to see how tired I am over the next week or so after two extremely busy and tiring days.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Blood tests (BOO!) and progress (HOORAY!) (58)

Yesterday I had to go to London for blood tests, which wasn't a great deal of fun. My new homeopathic doctor wanted some done on the NHS (last Monday) and some which had to be done at a private clinic in London. It entailed glucose tablets when I got there, wait one hour, have about an armful of blood taken (with the usual problems of finding a vein willing to co-operate), then go and have a high protein lunch, wait an hour and a half and go back to have another armful of blood taken (again, with the usual vein-finding fun). So that was quite a boring way to spend a day in London. Words like hedgehog and pincushion spring to mind!

Well, at last some decisions about my Strawberry Crush Plus One (or two or three or more). I've made a twin size using both blocks with a pale green spotty border - which doesn't show up at all well here - and used the Step 2 square blocks for an extra border at top and bottom. I've used the straight setting which I'm much happier with. And it's growing on me. I'm going to put the rest of the spinning star blocks with sashings I think and see what size it ends up.

And then I had a brilliant idea for the triangle blocks. I was starting to think about presents to make for cleaners, hairdresser etc, for when we move house, and thought about making these tote bags using the blocks. I'm rather pleased with the outcome. This one is very simple, not lined or anything, so I will have to think whether I should line the rest that I make.

Now I'm going to rest and do some hand sewing, as I am determined to keep enough energy to get up to London again this evening as we have tickets for Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I'm really looking forward to that.

Lynette Anderson Give-Away (57)

Lynette Anderson's having a give-away of one of her new redwork patterns. I don't want to encourage you, because too many visitors lessen my chances of winning, but if you really, really want to (and I bet you do!!!) visit her blog here

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Come with me (56)

Well, that's it, our house is officially on the market now. It feels weird, the prospect of moving after 18 years here, but no regrets. We've done a lot of soul-searching over the last year or so as to whether it is the right thing to be moving about 4 hours drive away from our sons and DH's family, but we don't see any of them more than every three weeks or so now, so that's not going to change too much, and 4 hours isn't that much of a drive. And a new adventure is just what we need - and it'll get DH away from working in London, which can only be a good thing.

So, feeling a tad nostalgic, I thought I'd take you with me on a walk into Reigate, which is about 8 minutes walk away. The 'modern' town dates back to the 11th century, when it was given to William de Warenne by William the Conqueror. It did have a castle, though there are no remains, just a big hill in the centre of town. Many of the buildings date from mediaeval times, though the facades have been altered over the years.

So, come with me on a short tour. This is our house, an Edwardian semi built about 1910. All the houses in the road were built at the same time, by the same developer, but are all slightly different from each other. As you can see, we made the sad decision a couple of years ago to have our front garden paved over, which detracts a lot from the look of our house, but was a necessity, especially since the local council in their wisdom decided to put double yellow lines outside our house!

We have a lovely walk into town, through
 two 'walks' , South Walk and East Walk - which are pedestrianised walks with a huge hedge and shrubbery between them and the road and they bring us right into Reigate town centre.

This is Knight's, our local 'department store' - it's an old family business which recently had a bit of a make over, but it's still very 
old fashioned, with lots of sales people keen to serve you. It has kitchenware, furniture, linen, hosiery and women's clothes 
departments as well as selling haberdashery and some fabric. It also has a small crafting department.

This is The Old Town Hall, a building that once served as town hall (upstairs) and town gaol and market place(downstairs). It's now a Caffe Nero. It was built in about 1728 to replace a similar earlier building.

This is another of the old buildings in the town. You can still see the black and white half timbering in the upper stories which date the front at least to early Tudor times, though the back of the building is probably older. If you're interested in seeing further pictures of Reigate past and present look here.

On my way back I came through the Tunnel, which runs right under the castle mound. Reigate Caves are also built into this mound,  dating from when the castle was built in 1088. There was originally a tunnel built as a route that could be used to smuggle people and food into the castle, or as an escape route in times of seige. Later, the caves were used as cellars and, at one point, for illegal sand mining. 

This is a statue of the great English ballerina, Dame Margot Fonteyn, who was born in Reigate in 1919.

And eventually, back home, past this glorious rose bush.

I hope you've enjoyed this short tour of Reigate. 

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

My Pink and Red Day (55)

 Natalie, at Cinderberry Stitches, has given herself a daily colour challenge and invited others to join in. So, better late than never, here's a few things for my Pink and Red Day. The strawberries are the first pick from the plants in our garden. I can't wait to try them, with a little sugar and greek yoghurt. Yummy! I love my ancient pink leather flip-flops and wish I could find some more. They're the only sandals I can wear because of their extremely high instep. The curtains are in our dining room and match the wallpaper frieze; lovely material and a lucky find. The red heart boxes were at one time full of chocolates and Valentine's gifts from DH. They now house some of my embroidery threads. The plant is one that DH found in the garden centre called Amanda. 

I hope you can see the photographs on your blog. I have just downloaded Picasa for Mac (thank you to Helz at Blue Shadow Pony for her advice) and had a go. It's a new technique to play with so you might see some more photos for different colours in the next couple of days. I seem to have ended up with my signature at the top! Better luck next time.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Strawberry Crush Decisions (54)

I've been feeling a bit disheartened. Firstly, the dress that I had made looked awful - DH said it made me look like a nurse (Oh Matron, you are awful!!) and I felt completely frumpy, so that's been dismantled now. Then, my Strawberry Crush just didn't seem to work. I felt sorry for myself after all the excitement and the hard work and I felt upset for Bonnie if she heard that people were unhappy with the quilt. There's nothing wrong with Bonnie's part of it of course, the pattern's fine, but perhaps something as busy as that wasn't quite right for a mystery. The main problem was of course my choice of colours.

Anyway, here are a couple of  pictures. The first one is where I played with some sashing and cornerstones. I quite like the way it quietened down the busyness a bit, without completely losing the pattern. So I could do the whole quilt with sashings. 

The second picture is of the album blocks and the spinning star blocks set out alternately, but not on point. The colours don't seem quite as bright in the photograph as in real life. It's growing on me a bit set out like that, and having looked and looked and looked at it. Shall I just go with it, or shall I set it with the pale green sashings and corner stones as in the first picture? 

I just can't make up my mind - but perhaps some of the wonderful people who read this blog might have some advice.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Catching up with May (53)

I've just looked again at the photographs in the last post. They really are dreadful. I shall have to take more effort I think, and not settle for the first one that I take.

Well, how did I do with May's targets? I've finished the sun dress and nearly finished the shirt waist dress - just the hem to do. I'm not completely bowled over by either of them, but it's the first dressmaking I've done for about 20 years, so not too bad. I'm up to date on the BOM blocks, I've finished the Mr Men Sampler for Atticus and the quillow for E. I finally finished the black and white quilt and made the little cat tails wall hanging. Not too bad I guess.

I've finished all the blocks for the Orange Crush Mystery, but don't know what to do with them now. I laid them all out as per Bonnie's instructions and really didn't like it. Nor did DH. It is just too bright and busy for us. Perhaps in a larger house where you can get away from it, but in our Victorian semi it just looks wrong. I'm afraid I just can't face finishing something that I'm not going to love. Is this going to become my first UFO? Well, I'm still thinking and planning and hoping to salvage something, because I love the materials, and I love the blocks in very small numbers and not on top of each other. Perhaps I'll be able to do something with some sashing?

I haven't started either the shirting or the doctor's quilts yet, so they move forward into June. All in all though, not a bad month. 

Friday, 6 June 2008

Two stitcheries finished (52)

Sorry the Noah's Ark block (Lynette Anderson) photograph is a bit fuzzy, but I've tidied it away now for the Estate Agents' visits so it'll have to do. I gave the front kangaroo some flowers to carry because I'd drawn an extra line in by mistake. A happy piece of serendipity.

The Mr Men sampler is for my nephew, who will be 4 next month. 

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Dentist, delights and a dilemma (51)

Yesterday was the next visit to the dentist, supposedly to have the fitting done for a new crown and bridge - but then he found some decay under a filling in the next tooth along, so had to fill that as well. I felt decidedly battered when I left, so went for a short walk before getting back in the car. My dentist is about seven miles away (that shows you how difficult it is to get a NHS dentist nowadays - there must be about fifty that are closer, but their lists are full) so I don't often visit the village. 

There's a wonderful shop there called Godstone Antiques and Curios Emporium. It's a real treasure trove with stuff tucked away into corners and under shelves, everywhere. I often find things I like in shops like that, but rarely buy them because they seem overpriced. But yesterday I found three 'must haves'. Isn't the little chicken basket cute? I think it's probably supposed to be a plant holder, but since there's only two of us at home now we rarely have more than 6 or 8 eggs, so it's just the right size.

The little chicken hook 'thingy' is so 30s looking and cute. It will look great with tea towels hanging from it - or shopping bags, or something else that I haven't thought of yet. Can you see a theme developing here for my new kitchen when we move?

And finally, the piece de resistance (I know there should be an accent in piece but don't know how to get one). I spotted this quilt hidden under a shelf. I could only see a corner of it and when I pulled it out I was astonished at the size (it's folded into 4 in the photograph) and the price - £10!!! So, it's found a new home with me. It was a bit of a squeeze to get it into the washing machine, but I did manage to get it dry outside yesterday afternoon. Isn't it great? It's machine pieced and hand quilted, and I love the soft muted colours. I don't know where to put it yet, but for the time being it looks really cosy just draped over the banisters.

And now, my dilemma. Step 6 of the Orange Crush Mystery has been posted and I really don't much care for it. I have loved all of Bonnie's quilts since I discovered her site, but this one is really too bright and too busy for me. I really don't like my blocks together either. So I'm toying with the idea of making two quilts - and adding in some plainer blocks with the solid colours I used. The spinning stars seem to get lost in there, and I'd like to see them properly. So, today, I shall be playing around with the blocks and see if I can find something that I like better. I did tell myself to 'keep the faith' and all would be well, but there's no point finishing it if I'm really not happy with it. I don't imagine anyone will be calling out the Quilt Police. Sorry, though.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Marmalade (50)

Yesterday I made some marmalade. I'm not too fond of jam, although I enjoy making it, and everyone else seems to like it, but I really do like marmalade. I like the slight bitterness that takes the edge off the sweetness. Unfortunately, I wasn't well when the Seville oranges were in the shops - they only seem to be around for a couple of weeks - so I had to use a tin for this batch. The tin contains ready prepared oranges, water, citric acid and pectin, so nothing 'nasty'.

Home made preserves probably don't taste that much better than shop-bought, but oh, the satisfaction I get from seeing the jars neatly labelled and lined up on the shelf. And the smugness I feel every time I open a jar and don't have to go out and buy one! When my sons were small I always made all our preserves, but that went by the board when I was working. Now I've got the time and I'm so pleased to get back to it. Marmalade, jam (last year plum this year strawberry I hope), pickles, chutneys, savoury jellies. Yum!

There's only one problem. I'm not supposed to eat anything with sugar in it and there's only the two of us at home now. Ah well, plenty to take to share with family and friends.