Monday, 30 November 2015

Back to normal - ish!

So - after a very hectic weekend you would think that a long lie in was in order.  Sadly Katie had a different view and woke me up at 6:15am!!!  Obviously I went back to bed and dosed - but its not the same. The house looks like a bomb has hit it - bags and newspapers just dropped where I was - so it is taking some time to get straight this morning - particularly as I wanted the project purchases to end up with the right projects - so that they don't get lost.  Throw in the need to print off some materials for the craft group and I somehow didn't even quite meet myself coming backwards!

The craft group made fabric wreaths - a nice simple exercise which allows for plenty of friendly banter amidst the coffee and mince pies / coffee cake (thank you Pat).  It's sessions like these which really does feed your soul and, as I have said before, I love seeing the feeling of pride as they see their project coming to fruition.  The completed wreaths are being loaned to the church in the next village for their display of wreaths at the weekend.

Tonight Wendy and I are going shopping before taking a goodie hamper to the Ward that looked after our friend Tanya for several months.  She would have wanted to say thank you and we want to talk to them to see if they need any further assistance - bags to carry equipment in etc.  There are plenty of people on facebook that make things for hospital wards - but no one seems to do anything for Grimsby.  Let's see if we can do that in Tanya's name.  Meanwhile I had a couple of new mugs, some drinking chocolate and some mini marshmallows - its amazing what a piece of fabric from IKEA can do to brighten up a present!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Kntting and Stitching Show in Harrogate

Another early start - the minibus picked me up just before 7:30am - and another long journey (we arrived around 10:15 am).  But Wendy and I had a plan - we had researched the different exhibitors, written a list, knew which halls to go in first to avoid the crowds, would stick to the list and never, ever, ever would we buy more kits just to feed our storage bins.

So - what did I buy from this extensive list and why?  well - I looked at a very expensive embroidery machine - but declined to buy it for around £1500! Good move eh?

However I did buy all the threads, the burgundy felt and the applique threads / pencil for next year's quilt - I now have everything I need for this project!

Next up was a purse clasp for a Lynette Anderson purse project that I intend to tackle as a Christmas project.  Wendy and I had also booked into a sewing purse workshop to learn how to do this.  Everything was hand sewn and needs pressing but I think that we are on the right track!

After some lunch we admired the handiwork of the Royal College of Needlework before consulting the list to see what was left.

Well, of course, there was a visit to the Steff Francis stand to buy some silks for my college embroidery course.  Then there was Empress Mills for some Egyptian Cotton (more Indigo Dyeing and Zentangling) and some Weaveline to place behind my fabric when hand sewing)

All in all - a great day with no temptations / straying from the list - yes?

Well ........

I was tempted by this little set of Japanese stitching to try.

Oh - and then there was this set of transfer paints - paint anything onto paper and then iron it onto polycotton before embellishing it.  The colour stays fast when washed.

Then - there might just have been these fat quarters which pounced into my bag - well you've gotta love Anni Downs' designs!

And no show would be complete without a kit ...........

or two!!

Ah well - I had fun!!  Now I need to go and lie down in a darkened room - again!!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Mack and Mabel with Michael Ball

If I had a bucket list then watching Mack and Mabel would be on it.  I have listened and admired the music for some time - ever since Torvil and Dean made it famous - but have never had the opportunity to see the show and put the music in context.  I was not disappointed!  I should add, at this point, that I have seen nearly everything that Michael Ball has been in - I knew that I would be in for a great afternoon.

Unfortunately the show was in Nottingham so it meant an early start - I left home just before 7:30am. Yikes!  I was impressed with the Park and Ride facilities in Nottingham and reached the city centre by 10am - thereby having an hour to shop before meeting up with Julia and Trisha for coffee.  Cue a visit to a bead shop - well who could blame me?

After the coffee we then meandered towards the theatre and the surrounding shops.  Nottingham had a lovely Christmas fair going on - with traditional foodstuffs such as roasted chestnuts.  It was really festive!

The matinee was fantastic - from the acting and singing to the scenery and orchestra.  I could happily sit through the show again - well, apart from the cramped seats and lack of leg room in the lovely old theatre!

The journey home went without incident - although I didn't arrive home until after 8pm.  Fortunately Jean had been around a couple of times to look after the dogs so they were settled. I'm lucky to have good friends who help me out.

Tomorrow is the annual visit to The knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate so, tonight, I need to get my bag sorted out and pack up made!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Normal service is resumed!

So - I had the day all to myself.  Loads to do - and the time to get things done. 

First up was nearing the end of the penultimate Christmas present.  This would take me all day - and there is still one final job to be completed - but I am pleased with the final piece of work and hope that the recipient will like it as well.

In-between working on this project I managed to sort the washing out, tidy around the kitchen and make a pastry-less pork and egg loaf.  As expected, slimming world did not go well last night - and, given my activities over the weekend, will need all the help that I can give it this week!  I would show you a picture but its a little, erm, crisp!

I would have achieved more if the two marriage certificates that I had been waiting for had not arrived - you can certainly lose yourself in Ancestry!  We are trying to solve a family mystery as to why one side of the family seem to be living in a house belonging to another side of the family - at a time where they appear to have no family ties - that only came later.  The house was allegedly sold in 1926  but the family were being married from there in 1938 - its all very confusing!

Tonight is the book club's Christmas meal - being retired means that this is, essentially, my works Christmas outing!  I will try to take photos before they lose all sense!  But please be warned - the blog will be published later tomorrow and Sunday - due to my hectic social life.  I don't want to big this up too much but I am REALLY looking forward to this weekend!!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Today Matthew - I want to be .........

....... totally self indulgent.

Yep - I have had a ball today doing what I want, when I wanted and, (this is the point when you call the doctor - I am fading fast) I haven't done much sewing again.

Let me explain.  Katie woke me up just after 6am barking at Millie who was annoying her.  Now you have to remember that I hadn't slept much the night before and so really needed a lie in.  So -I headed back to bed to snooze with the radio on. Now I didn't go to sleep, you understand, but when Chris Evans announced the 9 o'clock news I thought that I should get up.  I will then admit to sewing some hexagons together towards another snowflake whilst watching some daytime tv but, at 10:30 am, I then decided to go out and do some chores. 

First up was the hand car wash.  I do feel a little strange getting someone wise to clean my car whilst I wash - but they do a fantastic job.  Living in the country the car gets filthy quite quickly and it's lovely sitting in a newly cleaned car. By now it was getting towards noon and so I stopped off at the garden centre.  I didn't particularly want to buy anything but you can get some inspirations and I will admit to taking a photo or two of the decorations in case I want to make one.   I then made my way to the café, intending to buy a coffee and a piece of cake -but when I saw their steak pie ......  well - its saves cooking tonight!  Some might think that its lonely to eat on your own - but give me my kindle and I am fine.  Not only that I keep seeing people that I knew and had a right old goss!  So - if you're reading this thinking that you could never have a meal out on your own- go for it (but take a book just in case!)

Next stop was Lidl's - we had had a magazine in the weekend paper with some money off vouchers so I wanted to use them and see what else took my fancy.  Then it was on to Tesco's for the grocery shop - plus goodies for a couple of "pack ups".  I am out all day in Nottingham on Saturday so will need something quick for tea and am out all day in Harrogate on Sunday so will need a pack up for the coach home.  Oh my social life - its hectic here!  Did I mention that its the Book Club Christmas party tomorrow night as well?  After filling the car up with petrol the next stop was to Trotters Trading to buy some picture hooks.  My Christmas decorations will go up next week and I have a nice gingerbread sign waiting to be put in its place.  Finally - and I will admit to being pooped now - it was back to the new butchers in the village for some more of their lovely pork sausages.   Bad move -really bad move!  I came out with some Suffolk dry cure bacon to try plus some pork, leek and blue cheese sausages.  (You can actually see the lumps of blue cheese under the skin - mmmmmmm). 

So -  no sewing machine usage yet again.  Something is seriously wrong!!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Please - take a seat - today's blog is a bit of a shocker!

Well - hold on to your hats.  I have not done any sewing today (so far) - yes, you read it right - no sewing at all!  Well - that's technically not true but let me explain.

Last night I went to bed tired but, for whatever reason, just couldn't get off to sleep.  That's why 1am saw me watching "Capital" from last night's BBC 1 and sewing this week's stitch from TAST.  It's an easy stitch but one which produces strange effects depending upon length of stitch, placement etc.  Since 1am is this morning then I guess that makes me out to be a liar but, I swear, that is the only sewing that has taken place.

Today's college session focussed on using fabric to "draw" an apple - the concept is to create texture on top of the fabric with sewing and beads - add this to my UFO list then!  (mine is the multi-coloured version - Jean's is the more stylish one.) Fortunately for me the tutor is away next week so the "homework" doesn't have to be in until after Christmas.  Next week we are doing dry felting and it's the last session before Christmas.

When I got home I decided that this afternoon I would focus on starting to clear up the sewing room.  When I'm in full creative flow (get me) I tend to abandon everything where it is.  It does me good to take stock now and again and sort things out.  That way I TRY to avoid buying duplicates.  This mood won't last - I have two days now where I can focus on finishing the last two Christmas presents and so achieve my target of being finished by the end of November.  However I am beginning to see the top of my cutting table - so that's progress - right?

After walking the dogs I am planning to light the fire and sew some more snowflakes - I posted four off today so am about a third of the way there.  Well - I didn't say that there was a ban on sewing now did I?

Finally I wanted to share this photo with you.  After the new dog bed was purchased and installed the dogs do not seem to like sharing it - hence the reappearance of the duvet.  Today I walked into the kitchen to see this - I am not sure that Katie (the retriever) had a choice in the matter though!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mission Accomplished

Today started early - lots to do, no time to do it in etc etc.  Firstly there were little presents to wrap up for my sewing group tonight.  You may recall that I wanted to put shortbread, mini marshmallows and hot chocolate powder in 3 test tubes and wrap up with ribbon.  Sadly there seems to be a shortage of test tubes so I had to make do with 2 and put them into a cracker - but I think that I've got away with it.

Then there was the fourth star to sew before tonight - with much use of my trusted seam ripper I managed to achieve the target - only to notice a couple of mistakes!  It may not seem much to you but I had several seams to undo and turn around.  The final quilt will have some binding which may hide these errors but I would know that they were there.

Wrong seam
Right seam

Then it was off out to the cinema.  We had decided to go later today to see The Lady in the Van.  (I really enjoyed the film but would say that it was more poignant than funny and not what I had expected at all.)  Since the film was over lunchtime, Jean, Gretta and I decided to pop into Tesco's and eat at their in house restaurant - Decks.  They served breakfast until 11:30am so we could pick up a bacon bun at least.  I have to say that I was very impressed - £2.95 for a small breakfast ( a normal sized dinner plate which you could fill to your hearts content - and, trust me, some people  created a food mountain - along with toast, crumpets etc.  With a cup of coffee the total cost came in under £5 - very impressive!  Mind you I dread to see what a large breakfast consisted of!

After the film it was back home to complete the stars - well you didn't think that I managed all of that before 10:30am did you?  This sewing project may have been a bit of a rush in the end but it feels good to get to this point for tonight.  Now I just need to mark all four stars!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Have I swapped Lincolnshire for Alaska?

Today has been one of those days when I just couldn't get warm!  It started this morning whilst I was sewing the third star (yes - I have made my minimum target and am now on my fourth!) but I put that down to sitting in one place for an extended period of time. 

Then it was time for the craft group - Michelle had put the heating on but the room never really felt warm.  In fact loading up the car, it felt warmer outside!  But then I walked the dogs - and got brain freeze for my troubles.  Wowzer!!!!  I am now lighting the fire and staying put!!

Michelle has mastered the binding
So - back to the craft group.  Maybe its the teacher in me but I get a real thrill seeing people develop their love for sewing and it was a real joy to watch Michelle - rather like Bambi - taking her first steps with her new sewing machine.  Georgina has treated herself to one as well but didn't bring it this week.  I am not sure what their husbands think but its lovely to see people developing their skills.  Even my mother has been moved to sew today!!

Other than the usual Monday chores, and sewing of stars, there hasn't been much to report.  Oh - apart from a family tree revelation.  Now it's not much, and we are certainly not talking about finding some sort of criminal ancestor, but I was having a problem tracing the marriage certificate for an Uncle Harry and Aunty Cissy - so I sent for his death certificate, hoping that his wife's name would be a nickname and written in full on the certificate.  No wonder that I had a problem.  He was a Henry and she was a Harriet Annie Grace!! Go figure!  It makes you appreciate the problem that family nicknames give you when you start to research!

Keep warm everyone x

Sunday, 22 November 2015

My new best friend - the seam ripper!

I don't know about you but the weather here has been freezing all day!  We have alternated between sunshine, sleet, rain and darkness - you might even say that the weather has been biblical!

So - the morning started sewing some hand sewn hexagons in front of my 8am Create and Craft. sewing fix.  I have 19 hexagon snowflakes to swap, have swapped 2 and have completed another 3 to pop in the post.  I therefore spent the next 20 minutes or so writing out all the envelopes so that I can keep track as to where I am up to. 

Then it was time for church.  We have invested heavily in a new heating system - which is great when it gets going - but .......  Let's just say that my hands were red for quite some time!  After church I played Father Christmas - delivering all of the prizes to the raffle winners from yesterday - believe me when I say that its nice to be greeted with beaming smiles!

After a warming lunch of soup, I then set to making another star for my Tuesday evening quilt.  In my dreams I will have made all 4 stars by Tuesday evening so that I can draw the quilting patterns on them.  However they are taking far longer than you might think.  The good old seam ripper came to the fore - I have possibly undone more seams than sewn (hence the title of today's blog).  So - I am now halfway through and ill possibly have to settle with only 3 stars - but I will push on!!

The final job for the daylight - and, trust me, that was fading fast by the time that I got around to it - was to clear up more leaves for the garden refuse bin.  The strong winds yesterday have blown them around the front door - you have to wade through them to get out!

Tonight?  Well the fire is now lit, tea is on and I am heading towards finishing mum's present - shh, don't tell her!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

A visit from Santa

Today's activities were dominated by the Church's Christmas Fair.  First up was the baking of cakes (two cherry and two apple & sultana) then it was onto the organisation of raffle prizes.  I did manage to get a little sewing in whilst the cakes were cooking - but not much!  I don't know about you but we had rain, gales, sunshine and sleet this morning so it didn't look good for the event.

Our church fair is, I suspect, typical on many a village fair up and down the country.  Teas, cake stalls, tombola and Raffle - not to mention a quick visit from Santa.  It's the look on the little children's faces when they meet him that gets you every time (don't worry - I have got permission for these photos).  As we suspected, attendance was lower than usual -but we managed to make around £500 which is not bad for the three hour event (last year there were far more people and the event made £700- just to keep it in perspective).  My job, as you might have guessed from above, was to run the raffle - and I did manage to win two prizes (although I didn't pick my own two tickets out I should add!) 

The only downside to the event was the siting of our stall - directly opposite a fabulous and incredibly tempting craft stall - "Poppy Came Too". It was full of really good ideas - I just wish that I had thought of them!  (Check out this snowman chocolate bar!)  If you get a chance then use the link here to look at her Facebook page.  Suffice to say that Wendy, who came to help me sell tickets - thank you Wendy - you won a prize as well - and I spent far to much on that stall.  Well it would have been rude not to!

So - tonight?  Well the snow is lying on he car and it is officially freezing.  Cue  a night in with the coal fire lit and some patchwork on my lap - oh and Strictly at Blackpool - what bliss!

Friday, 20 November 2015

"You're a dirty mare!"

Well - it's been another strange day.  How else do I describe a day that started with two crazy ladies running into an M & S café shouting "where are the toilets?" and ending with me being called a "dirty mare"?  Let me explain.

Sewingbuddy hard at work
As you will be aware, Sewingbuddy and I were gong to a Zentangle workshop today in Cambridgeshire - around 2 1/2 hours away.  So we set off early - I left home at 6:45am.  The plan was to get through Boston before the rush hour started and to stop off at the A1 / Peterborough service station for a comfort break and, perhaps, a cup of coffee.  However I didn't reckon on two points:-

1. Sewing buddy would drink FIVE cups of tea before we left home, and
2. There would be a huge traffic jam on the Peterborough ring road.

As we edged forward inch by inch, so our need for a comfort break became ever more essential - we took the only decision possible - and followed the convoy of lorries who came off the ring road and travelled the maze of back roads.  On the plus side our gamble paid off as they took us to the A1 but, on the down side, we passed no suitable comfort break points - not one until we were literally minutes away from the class.  However we decided that arriving at a sewing workshop rushing in to go to the toilet was not a dignified entrance - hence our use of the M & S café at the services!

So - onto the workshop.  We started by tracing a pattern and sewing it in black thread.  Some areas were then coloured in - all very accessible and I was pleased with the final result - eventually using shadow quilting to echo the design.

How it should look like
My effort so far!

My real problems started after lunch where we traced a more difficult design and then used the free machine embroidery foot to sew it - again in black.  My machine just refused to work -sewing round 10 stitches before shuddering to a halt.  Having tried rethreading the machine, changing the needle, reloading the bobbin etc, it was suggested that I cleaned the machine our.  To my shame this amount of fluff was found underneath - hence the blog title!  After that the machine ran smoothly - although I am not so sure about my sewing!  Clearly I have to finish the sewing yet, colour in certain areas and then add beads and sequins.  However it was great fun and something that I would like to practise further.  I mean - come off it - sewing AND colouring in!  Such fun!

Mind you - perhaps I ought to clean my other machine out as well - what do you think?

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Well - it's been a strange old day!

It's been a strange old day - although I have been battling a migraine like headache all day, I have still managed to tie up some loose ends.  First up was the dreaded candle mat.  Having undone yesterday's mistakes, the binding sewed up like a dream today - so it's now ready to be wrapped.

Next up were the mystery presents - firstly there was a personalised finishing touch to be completed and then I decided to warp them all up.  Hopefully you can't see the labels and find out who they are for!!

Of course there was also the usual tidying up, washing etc but the next task to be done was to collect together everything needed for tomorrow's sewing workshop at Being Crafty.  (It would be easier to move house - the amount of "stuff" that you end up taking!!)  Sewingbuddy and I are going to learn how to draw Zentangle pictures with our sewing machines - I am really looking forward to trying something different.

So, I apologise for such a small blog today but I feel wiped out.  One good piece of postal news though - my show guide for The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate has arrived.  In a separate envelope the book "Quilts without corners" arrived - circular quilts - now that's a challenge  Sewingbuddy!!!