Saturday, 31 January 2009

A Final Flourish for January (172)

I really do need to get a life! I got up at about 6.30 this morning with the urge to do something different, so I found this pattern in one of my patchwork magazines.

It's simply a calico quilt sandwich, with machine embroidery. It was great fun using so many of the embroidery stitches on my sewing machine, and using lots of different colours, some plain, some variegated (is that the right word, it reminds me on ivy) and one metallic. And I worked at it all day until it was completely finished, binding, hanging sleeve, hanger and all. And just squeezed in to the final day of January, another finish.

Thursday, 29 January 2009


Yesterday morning was Class 2 of my Intermediate Patchwork and Quilting course. We put the borders around the mariner's compass block we made last time and then made a Le Moyne Star, learning how to set the background blocks into the star. I was really pleased with how my first attempt turned out and I so love the colours, they're so spring-like.

I seem to have chopped off a few of the points when I cropped the photograph, but they are there - promise! Getting all my gear, the sewing machine, fabric, etc, to the class was a lot easier this time, thanks to my new granny trolley that Christopher bought me. 

I had been saying that I would prefer to walk to the shops to do my shopping, but it was just too far to carry stuff back home. I thought a trolley would be useful, but not a tartan granny trolley. He found this one in a local shop and I love it, it's so funky and snazzy, not at all 'old ladyish'. Now I won't have to take the car out for small amounts of shopping, and when I go to classes I can park in the cheaper, further away car park. 

Today I made the other three Le Moyne stars. Next time, in two weeks, we are learning how to make a vine and do applique. Although I've done quite a bit of applique now I shall be pleased to learn how to do it properly!

On the food front, it's all been a bit hit and miss recently. I've tried a couple of new recipes which weren't all that successful. Christopher, bless him, eats up manfully and is always encouraging, but I do feel a bit guilty. So tonight, it's simple. I've bought a couple of fresh trout, which we'll have with loads of fresh vegetables, and some mashed potato for him. I have tried a new recipe for gluten free bread today, and I hope it works. I'd do almost anything for a decent slice of toast!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Some mini-finishes (170)

It's been a hectic few days, with various odds and ends to keep us busy. On Saturday we went to visit number 2 son and his partner in Brighton. I took a picnic lunch with us to have in their flat - cheaper for us and definitely cheaper for them! It was good to catch up with them both.

On the sewing front I've been slaving away finishing all the blocks for my BOM that I started doing last year and gave up after about seven months. Quite a lot to do, as some months had more than one block, and there were filler blocks to do as well. I'm still not sure about it, the colours mostly, but it's growing on me. I've decided to quilt it in 4 quarters and then join them afterwards. Here's the first lump, layered up and pin basted  (the pale colours are a bit washed out in this photograph)-

I've decided to hand quilt this as I have no idea how to go about machine quilting it. I haven't any thoughts for hand quilting either, come to that! Any suggestions?

I've also finished a couple of stitcheries BOMs - Once Upon a Time (Capricorn Quilts) and Veranda Views (Willowberry Designs).

My Rapunzel has red hair, since I didn't have any yellow wool! I've made a couple of small things too - a water bottle cover,

a camera cover (sorry no picture, but it's the same design as the one I made on Boxing Day and in the same fabric as the water bottle cover). And on Saturday morning I was feeling a bit jittery before our journey and so launched into making this little bag to match the colours of the clothes I was wearing.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last posting, it was great to receive so much encouragement. I'm now off shopping to buy some ingredients to try out a few new recipes. Let's hope they work out, there've been too many less than average meals lately. Next time I'll show you a picture of my new 'granny trolley' that Christopher bought for me!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Missing from Blogland (165)

I realise that it's been over a week since I last posted. No reason really, just nothing much to write about. I've made a couple of small things - a water bottle carrier and a camera case - and been beavering away on my BOM that I started last year and then stalled. I think I lost interest because I wasn't keen on the fabrics they sent, but then I decided there was too much money tied up in it to let it just sit in the drawer, so I'm going to finish it. If I don't like it I'm sure someone else will. I've just got the final month to do now, then it will need assembling. Pictures to follow.

I thought I'd broaden my blog to include another big area of my life, apart from sewing. As some of you will know, I've been suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for about two years now. I've also been unwell for many years with extremely unpleasant abdominal/digestive problems, which were labelled as Abdominal Migraine; and then there's been the regular migraines and sinus problems.  As I've got older the problems have worsened. About six years ago I realised that I was having problems with wheat, and giving that up helped to a certain extent. Then, over the last year, I worked on finding out what else was causing me problems. As a result I have given up gluten, dairy and foods in the solanaceae family (potatoes, tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, aubergine).

As you can imagine restricting my diet so ferociously has been difficult, even though the benefits have been obvious. It's not been helped by the fact that I've been vegetarian for some 35 years. I've been happy to start eating fish, but just can't face eating meat again. 

All of this has meant learning to cook again, and to be honest, I've just lost interest. Poor Christopher has had to suffer some very average food! It's easy for me as I'm feeling so much better, but food has ceased to become a pleasure. So, the time has come to do something about that. I'm tracking down other gluten-free bloggers and I'm going to stock up on suitable foods and look for some decent cook books. And then, I'm going to try and revive an interest in food and cooking.

Do you know anyone with similar food intolerances? 

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Mariner's Compass block and my new room (164)

Yesterday was the first day of the Intermediate Patchwork and Quilting course that I'm taking - it lasts for one full day and five half days, every fortnight or so. And the first day was quite a challenge, and pretty tiring, making the mariner's compass block for the centre of the quilt. I wasn't very happy with it in the end, neither the construction or the choice of colours, so I remade it today. It was helpful having had a first attempt yesterday as I knew where I needed to take more care. It hadn't helped yesterday that my needle position was a bit out and so my quarter inch seams weren't accurate. I took it to be serviced and sorted this morning, and sewed on my old machine. It's worked pretty well. The slightly mismatched seam in the middle won't matter as it's still to have a circle appliqued over it!

Well, my sewing and craft room is nearly there.

The window still needs painting, as do some shelves, and there's still a bit of sorting out to do, but it's useable now and lovely to have everything together in one place. I've ordered some inserts for the sewing table, so that I can lower the machine and have it sitting flush with the table, and another which fills the hole up, so that I can use it as a desk or cutting table.

This is the door going out into the corridor, with my fabric stash to one side, and some cork tiles on the wall with some of my stitcheries on. As you can see, my fabric stash is still fairly minimal, most of those pieces are fat quarters or smaller, with just a few half yards hidden in there somewhere ready for the Angel's Story quilt.

Woops, just noticed the bits of paper on the floor, waiting to be read. The bag in front of the fabric is full of scraps waiting to be cut and sorted.

This is the trolley we found, the top is exactly the same size as my cutting mat and just the right height for standing at. It just squeezes in between the open door and the end of the bed base. I've got to make an ironing pad to go on it so that I don't have to keep running up to the second floor bedroom all the time. You can just see the side of the bag of scraps on the right there.

This book shelf fits neatly between the radiator and the airing cupboard, and houses all of my craft and sewing stuff. You can see the wall with the stitcheries on there on the left, so that finishes the tour of my little room. It's pretty small as you can see, in fact I've had to press back as far as I can to take each photograph, so there's no room for many more purchases, either fabric or craft goodies. I need to get hold of a chair for the sewing machine though, and I may squeeze a Lloyd Loom wickerwork armchair in there too. No room to swing a cat once that's all in there! Not that I could even lift Rosie to swing here if I wanted to (which I don't of course) she's so fat.

 And just to finish off this post, here is Rosie - can you spot her? She must have thought it was cold yesterday, as I found her not only under the quilt, but under the duvet as well!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Bed Base Cover (163)

I've just finished making a cover for the divan bed base that is remaining in my new sewing and craft room. We've found a home for the mattress, but aren't able to move the base out, so it will be stored on its side - the top will make a useful shelf. I've incorporated the Quilter's Blessing blocks from Capricorn. I chose the colours because I wanted to use an old duvet cover of my mother's for the top and back. The first picture shows the colours better, the second looks very washed out.

Do you think this will count as an extra finish for the One Project a Month Challenge?

Monday, 12 January 2009

Progress Report (162)

The decorating is nearly finished in the little bedroom, though it's gone more slowly than I would have liked. I just can't work for as long these days, and have had to pace myself. I have also been sewing a cover for the divan base which will be staying in the room.

On Friday Christopher and I went to Ikea, where we bought a shelf unit, a computer desk for him and found a perfect wooden trolley, that's almost the exact size of my cutting mat, and a perfect size to use standing up. I'm going to make an ironing pad to go on it too. We also bought some storage boxes and baskets. Oliver helped me put the desk and trolley together yesterday, and Christopher and I put the shelf unit together today. Luckily, they went together easily.

Tomorrow I hope to finish painting the skirting board and the door frame, which will leave just the window frame and some shelves. They'll probably have to wait for a few days, as I'm going to the first day of an Intermediate Patchwork and Quilting course on Wednesday.

I'm so looking forward to starting to put everything back in the room and making it into my sewing and craft room. I'll take some photographs very soon.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

First finish for 2009 (161)

It's been a bit of a rush, but I've finished the quillow for my niece's birthday on the 10th. I've used Moda's Urban Chicks range. I've not got a picture of the complete quilt because it's so gloomy here that I just can't get a photograph that doesn't look completely washed out and most unattractive, but the picture of the quilt folded into its pocket gives you a very good idea of what it looks like - I've used a combination of broken dishes blocks, rail fence and plain blocks.
From January 2009 04/01/2009 09:39

And here's the card I've made
From January 2009 04/01/2009 09:39
- I had great fun rootling about in all my piled up boxes and baskets which have been moved into the spare bedroom whilst we decorate, I can't find anything easily.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Messrs Bodgitt and Scram ....(160)

Messrs Bodgitt and Scram had great fun on Sunday afternoon, wallpapering our smallest bedroom. Thank goodness it is still the pantomime season, as we would have fitted right in. Ranging from knocking the paste bucket over, to cutting the paper too short, getting tangled up in the pasted paper, we were a real slapstick team. I even managed, quite unintentionally, to put the past bucket right at the foot of the ladder, but luckily Christopher spotted it in time and missed it. But the paper is up and you have to look really closely to spot the 'patchwork' bits - well it is going to be for a sewing room, so the paper will fit right in!

You can't really tell what the paper is like from this picture, but it's a white background with a pale silvery grey pattern. Very grown up and elegant - how we came to choose it is a mystery, but it does look very pretty.
From January 2009 04/01/2009 09:39

Today I started painting - a pale dove grey, but I'm not certain that I like the paint. I'll just have to cover as much of it as possible with quilts and stitcheries - mind you the room is so small that there won't be much wall space left blank by the time all the furniture is in. Tomorrow - more painting. In the days of my youth I could have finished it in one day, but these days I like to take things at a more leisurely pace.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Still Sunday ...(159)

It's still Sunday morning, and I haven't done any sewing yet. But I have taken most of our Christmas decorations down. It's traditional in the UK to leave them up until Twelfth Night (6th January, Epiphany Eve) but unlucky to leave them up after that. As I have the cleaners coming tomorrow I wanted to get most down, but have left the Christmas wreath up on the door until Tuesday.

Having taken down my Christmas quilt it looked really bare. So, whilst I decide what I want to put up there, I've hung my recently finished Home is Where the Heart is quilt. It looks a bit wonky, but I'm hoping that it's just because it's been folded up and needs to hang out for a while!

It's my first attempt at free piecing and wonky letters, and I'm pretty pleased with it.

Friday and Saturday (158)

On Friday I buckled down and got our smallest bedroom ready for decorating. I removed everything except the chair and the bed-base, removed a noticeboard and some shelves, filled all the holes and sanded them down. I still need to sand the woodwork, but apart from that we're ready to roll. I hope that we can get the wallpaper up this afternoon.

As you can see, it's a tiny room and last decorated quite some years ago - just look at that yellow, lime green and orange!! The mattress will be stored under the spare room bed, and with the base turned on its side there will just about be room for my sewing table and a chair and perhaps the ironing board. I'll be putting a new shelf unit in the alcove for all my craft and sewing things. Then I'll have to find new homes for all the towels and bed linen which have lived in there in the past.

Yesterday was very pleasant. We went to Brighton to have lunch with some friends, and managed to get both our sons along too. I was so pleased; we had telephoned the restaurant in advance to talk about my dietary requirements and they were very helpful. We agreed on a prawn risotto, and when we got there I discovered that they had put it on the main menu, so I wasn't made to feel too different and awkward. And a very good risotto it was too. We walked back to our friends' house (about 20 minutes in the freezing cold sea breeze, very bracing!) and on the way passed a junk shop. Outside on the step I saw this:

Christopher did a bit of haggling and it was mine. I'm sure I can find a space for it in my new sewing room, it stands about 2'6" high. I'm sure it will look lovely draped with something or other.

And then, last night, ta da!!! (Imagine a trumpet fanfare if you will) I finished my first ever sock.

And it fits!! Now the challenge is to make another one roughly the same size. There were a few tricky bits, and the odd hole has appeared, but I managed to work through the instructions and I'm truly chuffed to have achieved something that actually looks like a sock.

And so, after a very lazy start to my Sunday morning, I'm off to do some sewing while Christopher is running. The domestics will have to wait.

Have a good day - and by-the-way, if you haven't got too much on your plate and would like to join in the PIF, please let me know, there's still room.

Friday, 2 January 2009

New challenges (157)

Only January the 2nd and I've already signed up for two challenges! The first is a Pay it Forward with Amy at Amy's Passions. The second is with Kris, at Tag Along Teddies. Now, if I could only remember how to put the logos for these two challenges in my sidebar, or even into my blog, I would do so. Help!!! Can some kind soul enlighten me please?

Kris's challenge is to complete one challenge a month, which should be do-able. If you'd like to join in the simplest thing is to follow the link to her blog, where you'll find all the information.

The rules for the Pay it Forward are like this:
  • Three people will be chosen to participate when they leave a comment on this post asking to join (I'll obviously choose the first three)
  • You then agree to post a similar announcement to this on your blog, asking three more people to join in, etc
  • You will create a hand-made item for your three people sometime over the next 12 months.
Seems simple enough - so this is how it works. Amy will send one hand-made item to the three people who have signed up with her (I'm one of them);I will send one hand-made item to the three people who sign up with the challenge via my blog; then the three people who sign up with me will send hand-made items to each of the three people who sign up with them. And so on. Get it?

Now Amy, being a bit of a clever clogs, has done some maths, so I can't do any better than quote her here:
"Here's the number of people to be 'affected' with the Pay It Forward ...

Level 1 : I give to three (3 people affected)
Level 2 : Each of those three give to three NEW people (9 NEW people affected; 12 total lead from my saying yes)
Level 3 : Each of those 9 give to three NEW people (27 NEW people affected, 39 total)
Level 4 : Each of those 27 give to three NEW people (81 NEW people affected; 120 total !!!)"

If you want the equation that she used have a look at her blog, it's beyond me.

So, how about it - a whole year to make three gifts can't be bad. If you feel like joining the fun, just say Yes in a comment on this blog.

And now, all I've got to do is get the logos on my sidebar. 

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Backwards and Forwards (156)

From December 2008
Happy New Year to you all. I vaguely saw the new year in - I'd given up trying to stay awake by about 11 o'clock, but the bongs of Big Ben woke me at midnight, then Christopher came in with a ginger wine (just a sip for me, I seem to be allergic to alcohol sadly) to wish each other a good 2009.

So, looking back to 2008, what are my main memories?

  • Lots of quilting, yay. I've made quillows, lap quilts, single and double size quilts; quilts to use and quilts for decoration
  • Lots of stitching. Stitching to combine with patchwork, stitching that stands alone
  • I've made all of our cards, not bought a single one
  • Seeing the boys becoming more settled into their chosen ways of life 
  • Having more time to spend with Christopher now that I'm retired and he works just three days a week
  • The sad tale of our house move. Sorting the house, the excitement at the beginning of the process, the disillusionment as the falling market caused problems, the pleasure at achieving a sale, the huge excitement when we found THE house, the disappointment as it all came to an end
  • My health. Having had a pretty rotten year, the last few weeks have seen a steady improvement to the point where I feel pretty good most of the time
  • Discovering blogging 
And looking forward? Well, I don't do resolutions, 'cos they're easy to break. But I will continue toward the goals that I have set myself over the last couple of months.

  • Continuing to eat healthily and sticking to the diet that seems to work for me
  • Now that I'm feeling better it's time to get fitter - back to the exercise classes and get out for more walks with Christopher
  • Finding some patterns that I like, and that work for me, and making some new clothes
  • Getting through the current to-do list of quilting and sewing before starting any new projects. No UFOs for me!!

And plans? Well, it's time we stopped putting our life on hold whilst we tried to sell the house and time to do some of the things we've been talking about

  • Decorate the little bedroom and get it sorted out so that I can use it as a craft/sewing room; decorate some of the other rooms; 
  • Buy a motor caravan and take some holidays
  • Get a dog
  • Christopher needs to get out of the job he's doing, because it's far too stressful and find something else to do that he can really enjoy
And vaguer thoughts? Well, I've plenty of those, things I'd like to do, things I ought to do. But most of all I hope that my sons continue to find happiness, health and stability in their lives and that Christopher and I can continue to enjoy each other's company as we head into our 30th year of marriage.

And to all my blogging friends - thank you so much for enriching my life over this last year, and for showing interest in my very ordinary doings. I look forward so much to a great 2009 and hope that you do too.