Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Mission accomplished - what next?

Well - the challenge was set - and met!!!!  Last night I finished the mug warmer - and it fits!

Then I finished sewing the binding onto the quilt and, you will be pleased to hear, I am sure, this should be the last that you hear about it!!  I will take it tonight to the sewing class as a "show and tell" (not to mention as an excuse for not doing my homework) but then it will go on the spare bed as planned and, I hope, stay there to be admired by my visitors. 

Next?  Well, as I am sure has come through these blogs, I have been ever so slightly obsessed with this particular project and I now have to give the house and garden (weather permitting) a little more of my time than it has recently enjoyed.  Project wise, however, I want to concentrate on some smaller projects for a while ( the quilt used 250 yards of red sewing cotton alone!!) such as catching up with the Scamblesby mystery quilt blocks, a birthday present and some surprise "stocking fillers".

So - what did I do today?  Well, it was off to the garden centre for a "small" breakfast before a lunchtime showing of "Hidden Figures" at the cinema.  Talk about an inspirational film - wow!  The film told "the true story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program".  That could sound dull but was actually about the struggles and, ultimately, triumph of African American women working in a man's world in the early 60's where, just to go to the toilet, they had to run half a mile each way to use the "colored toilets".  It certainly brought tears to my eyes!  I will also confess to enjoying the maths involved - although it soon left me far behind!

Tonight is our fortnightly sewing class so I am off to make and enjoy some pancakes before I go - it would be wrong not to on Shrove Tuesday now wouldn't it!!

Monday, 27 February 2017

A hodge podge of a day!

Today started with The Monday Morning group where, ahem, we just about broke even - some losing and some gaining!  Then it was onto The Textile Group where we were starting a Christmas block for a wall hanging - there are 4 blocks in all and this is the start of the journey.  I had chosen this project so that they learnt / practised the needleturn appliqué technique.  The "students' have now gone away with their homework - plus a large shopping list of appliqué needles and threads!  If you are interested in how the finished hanging should look then check out Patchwork Allsorts blog here! (Hint - scroll down to her December project!)

Home for lunch, it was then time to sew the border to the SS quilt before heading out with the dogs before going back to the church hall to chair a church meeting - ah well, at least we didn't have to put everything away from this morning!

Last night, I managed to try a little crochet project from that cute crochet box.  It's a mug warmer but gave me the chance to practise the double crochet stitch.  I will confess to doing 6 rows before I realised that I must have watched a US YouTube and been doing Treble stitch instead of double.  Ah well - pull it out and start again!  I am pleased with the way it has gone so far and my tension doesn't look too bad - I now need to add a border, loop and button and then it will be finished.

Tonight?  well I would like to think that I will finish the mug warmer but, then again, I would like to finish the SS quilt - let's see if I can do both!!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Hey - guess what?

Well - I am still here so I guess that code was wrong.  Sewingbuddy is right when she says that you should be able to see an engraved picture but since it was so tiny I thought that the code was a more sensible way of checking.  Turns out that the code has to start with AM32 not the AM52 that I had!  Ah well - for a moment there ......

Today I woke up feeling strange, achey, very cold and totally off my food - not like me at all (it soon came back!!)!  I got up and it was difficult to walk around - but fortunately it wore off after an hour or two.  At Scamblesby yesterday one of our group came over poorly so I am wondering if there's a bug going around.  Needless to say I pushed through and toddled off to church but I have to admit that the dogs had a shorter than usual walk - although they bounded around with plenty of energy still!

Once home and in the warm - it is really windy, overcast and cold here - it was back to the SS quilt.  By the end of the afternoon, I am pleased to say that we now have a whole quilt ready to receive its binding and hanging sleeve.  I wouldn't normally do a hanging sleeve since this is going on a bed but I will need this quilt next year for our Church's "Material Memories" event.  Since we have a number of pillars, we are hoping to hang the quilts with thick wooden dowling which goes from one pillar to the next - looking a little like a medieval castle with flags hanging down!  well - that's the idea anyway!

Tonight?  Well I need to sort out the fabric for the Textile Group - we are starting a  mystery Christmas wall hanging - block one tomorrow, block 2 next term etc.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Could it be, could it possibly be?

Today was a Scamblesby sewing day and my self imposed deadline for the quilt.  I arrived early and quickly settled down to the task - trying to focus although I was distracted by the croissants, lunch, lots of talking and demonstrating English Paper Piecing which was needed for the next bonus block.  By the end of the day I just had one seam to sew on the machine and three to hand sew - before adding the binding - that was until I turned it over to show the others- and spotted the mistake- grrrrrr.  Ah well, that's tonight's work sorted and the deadline has now been officially moved to Tuesday night!!

As ever there was a variety of projects being completed - from bag making to hand sewing, from block making to waste bag gluing!

On the way home I popped into Aldi and paid by cash.  I was given a new £5 note with a code that started with AM.  I don't know whether you were aware of the story but an artist engraved quotes from Jane Austen onto 4 £5 notes making them valued up to £50000.  Three have been found but one is still at large - all notes started with AM at the beginning of their code.  If you don't hear from me tomorrow then you will know that I have found the fourth one!!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Family time

Last night, as you may recall, ladies from our WI gathered together for our craft evening.  Our plan was to make some bonding hearts and, after a massive team effort, I can report that we made 117 in total!!  Some still have to be top stitched but I am sure that you will agree this is a fantastic effort!

After a sleepless night, it was off to Leicester today with Terry and Wendy.  I was going to meet up with my brother for coffee and a catch-up whilst Wendy wanted to go shopping and Terry spent the day at The Fabric Guild - trust me , Wendy and I ended up there as well!  It must be well over a year since I had seen Steve and he brought his daughter, Cadi, and her two daughters Abi and Evie - talk about two cheeky munchkins!! It was lovely to see them "tag team" each other and enjoy themselves.  Evie particularly liked "Granddad's babycino" - anything that Granddad does is special in Evie's eyes!!

After a lengthy catch up, it was back to the fabric guild to pick Terry up - oh, and see if there's anything worth picking up of course!  I managed to get 2 yards of each of these fabrics - my youngest brother wants bunting for his wedding later in the year so I hope that these are okay!

After getting back at gone 5pm, it's a quick turn around to go out at 6:30pm to go to this month's book club meeting and meal.  Perhaps it's just as well that I didn't have any lunch today!!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

My dilemma

On the one hand I am going out tomorrow, and taking a couple of friends with me, so the car needs a wash and inside clean (wow - have you seen the state of the boot after the dogs had been in there after their walks!!) plus petrol to get us there.  Diva Daisy has bitten through both her lead and Millie's and my spares won't hold a strong pull.  I need sewing thread and some embroidery threads plus felt to finish the textile group's current project before Monday plus some bits and bobs from the supermarket.

On the other hand last night's hand sewing showed me that this quilt will take longer than I thought and I could really do with a day in - particularly since I am out tonight, all day tomorrow (where I can get the sewing and embroidery threads) and tomorrow night - in order to meet Saturday's deadline.

Now what would you do?

I must admit that I have thought about every conceivable way around my dilemma but, in the end, decided to be sensible.  I know, I know, it's so unlike me but there again, my friends are more important than a quilt (did I really say that out loud?) so off I went, in the eye of the storm (well, it was a little bit windy and wet but the sun was shining) to sort the car out (I was the only one there so the car was cleaned in record time!), buy the leads and get the petrol. If ( and I am taking a huge gulp here with a little background sob ) the quilt isn't finished on Saturday then it's not the end of the world (sob sob sob).

Of course my errands didn't take all day so there was some housework to do - I am really enjoying the quick turn around of the dishwasher - but then I will admit to more sewing of the quilt strips (plus some undoing!!).  After all - there was news of expected power cuts so I really wanted to do the machining whilst I still had power! I also had to get ready for tonight - it's the WI craft group and we are sewing bonding hearts to donate to the neonatal unit at Grimsby Hospital.  If you want to find out more then here is the link to the instructions and pattern.

I must also share with you a little box of treasure that arrived in the post.  You may recall that I am trying to improve my crochet skills so I treated myself to a monthly subscription - and this arrived today.  Even the box is gorgeous but look what you get as you open - isn't the packaging beautiful?  There are 9 mini balls of wool, with a colour chart if you ever wanted to buy more, along with the correct size hook and a pattern booklet - this month it's from Lucy at Attic 24 which is why I subscribed in the first place.  In the box there is also a lovely stitch marker, a free brooch and a set of wool related stickers - mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Must not get distracted, must not get distracted, must not .......... 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Feeling some effects from storm Doris

Last night was windy - I woke up to the noise of something falling over in the garden.  However the full force of the wind was saved for our lunchtime walk - I have no idea how Daisy wasn't blown away - being as light as she is.  Mind you she is paying more attention to the large water areas and loves jumping in the large "puddles"!!

This morning was a WI committee meeting around at Carines - she really looks after us with "nibbles" and coffee!  Amongst the things being discussed was the village WI noticeboard and the "key" was passed over - I am not sure that I have ever seen a key as large as this one!

Then it was back home to more sewing.  I have one more row to add sashing to but have started to join some of the rows.  If all goes well I should be at the binding stage by Saturday which gives me a fighting chance of finishing it then!

Tonight?  Well, more and more sewing of course!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A glimpse of the future!


This morning started with a layout - of The Splendid Sampler blocks of course.  I have now got to the stage where I can layout all of the squares, be happy with the positioning and then start to sew more rows.  Of course some squares need finishing off but I hope you agree that its going to look a corker!  The bit that I really like about the project is that many individual blocks take you back - the green shed, for example, was around the time I had my much dreaded MRI scan and represents my "she cave".  So, I am sure you can see how my day has gone - sewing, quilting and trimming.  By the end of the day I now have 3 more rows ready to be slipped stitched tonight - not bad going eh?

Of course, even I (and  I know that this is going to come as a shock to some people) cannot just sew all day!  For a break I did some church admin - our secretary is bidding for some grants and wanted an up to date financial report which I was able to send through to her.

Then, of course, there was a lovely walk with the dogs - lovely because the sun is out and there were only a few people up at the beach so the dogs could run freely as usual.  We went a different route today since there were a number of bird watchers about and they tend to get annoyed with yapping dogs scaring away their target!  We ended up in the sand dunes which are full of scrub - just right for Daisy to run and leap through!

Apart from some cooking - slow cooker on with mince for tea and a crustless quiche for a few lunches, it was then out into the garden and for some tidying up and sweeping.  After several dry days, it was easier to sweep than usual and lots of dry twigs from my pruning a few days ago needed sorting!  I really can't believe that we are still in February - although not for much longer!

Before I go I must just show you this.  My cousin persuaded me to buy some moisture traps from Home Bargains (she gets hers from Poundland).  This has been in the conservatory since the beginning of January and has absorbed this much moisture (it's nearly full!) out of the air - no wonder there has been little or no condensation!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Where has the nice weather gone?

I woke up early to lovely sunshine and the car said that the temperature was 11 degrees.  Great, I thought, when I get home more fence painting!  Huh!

This morning started with the Monday Morning Gang - where, I can report, I lost 4lbs so not too shabby.  The textile group then closely followed.  For a variety of reasons we were low in numbers but were tackling some wool felt applique / reverse applique.  The hardest part was the cutting out but the finished product promises to be very effective!

So, racing home to an afternoon of fence painting - and it had turned FREEZING!! (I should add that it warmed up later but by then I was distracted!) Ah well, I can look at the work covered yesterday with pride - it's not often that I would be out working in the garden in February after all.  So, what's a girl to do with an unexpected free afternoon?  Well, after the usual dog walk, it was back on the Splendid Sampler treadmill.  Now I am going to put this out there - you know what I am like for a deadline!  My aim is to finish this quilt by Saturday - it is a Scamblesby day and so it might actually be finished on Saturday!  Let's see how that one goes!  Today's task was the relentless trimming of blocks down to 6 1/2 inches square ready to add the sashing.  Once that is finished the next job will be to lay them all out on the bed, arrange them as I wish, take a photo and then start to sew the remaining 5 rows etc etc etc!  By the end of the afternoon I had 9 blocks to finish quilting and trim so it's going well!

On a totally different note, the post arrived with a free gift for Millie and Daisy - clearly a promotion from Tesco along with vouchers but they won't mind!!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Spring is ....... springing

Well, after yesterday's gloomy weather it was a real treat to wake up to sunshine - and warm sunshine at that if you were in the sun.  The front of my house faces south so it is always warm and sunny - from midday onwards I have to have the blinds down in the craft room if I am working there since the sun is full on!  But I am not moaning - the sun really lifts your spirits!

First on the agenda was quilting the layered SS blocks - I have around 25 left to do out of the 110 so I am getting there.  Once quilted, the blocks all had to have their threads secured and removed before being cut to size - ready to place into position.

With the sun out, and my phone declaring the temperature to be 11 degrees (above the magic 10 degrees that I have been waiting for) I popped outside for a couple of hours of fence painting.  I have now painted enough of the fence to be able to build and position the veg trug - weyhey!  Of course the dogs supervised - Millie in her usual position whilst Daisy was all over the place - often digging when she thought that I wouldn't notice!  Looking at the longer term forecast, the temperature starts to drop from Tuesday onwards so I am pleased that I took the opportunity to get out there - even though my feet were frozen!

After a late lunch, and a dog walk in the sunshine, it was time to get ready for the textile group tomorrow morning.  We are starting a new project - reverse applique with felt - which should be interesting!  Tonight's craft will be more layering up of the remaining SS blocks with a view to quilting them tomorrow.  I am beginning to see the end in sight and it's an exciting view!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

First milestone achieved!

Back in late December I came across a facebook page which challenged you to walk 1000 miles in a year.  It was up to you what kind of steps you counted - some people, like me, count every step they take, some put on walking boots at the weekend and do long hikes - only counting these steps.  However you count them, the idea is to challenge yourself to this 1000 miles over the year - seemed doable I thought and so it became my New Year's Resolution.  Each day I enter my mileage from my Fitbit watch into my spreadsheet and out comes my running total.  Well, today, I broke through the first 100 mile bracket!!  Yey - go me!!  Now, truthfully, I am 34 miles behind schedule but, there again, I have been poorly and Daisy's op has limited the walks for a while but the weather is improving so I am hopeful that we can catch up !!

So, what about today?  Well, you can see from the pictures of our walk, the weather has been dull, overcast and cold.  Nevertheless we started with some housework - washing, bed stripping etc - and then moved on to building a couple of SS blocks - one that had to be redone and one of the bonus blocks.  The original bonus block was to celebrate going back to school and had an ABC, 1 2 3 motif.  Being a maths teacher, by trade, I couldn't resist a little algebra now could I?

Wendy popped round for coffee and a catch up - now I wasn't going to resist the urge for a break now was I - before we set off for our walk.  After lunch, and bed making of course, it was back on to the sewing trail and the quilting of some of the layered up blocks.  All the time with music / tv on in the background.  Listening to Radio 2, our tune (Oh what a night by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) was number one  41 year ago!!  I was just 15 then - help!!  I managed to do the last bonus block (there's just one block left - the label) but have started to sew my bits of wadding together to eek out my supply!!  By the time you cut wadding bigger than you need and trim down you get through a heck of a lot!!

I am at the theatre again tonight so now have some handsewing to take with me although I honestly don't know how much I will be able to get done! We, err, tend to talk rather too much!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Christmas keeps on coming!

Today saw me travelling over to Sheffield to meet up with Trisha and Julia.  As usual, we chewed the cud over cake and coffee - not any old cake and coffee, you understand, it was M & S cake and coffee!  Before we met up I managed to bag a couple of bargains for next Christmas - can't say too much but am quite pleased with my efforts!

Trisha was telling us about her daughter, Joanne, who is starting her own dancing business after years in the profession - both as a teacher and a performer.  Not only is she starting classes but she is also running a facebook page here -she is looking for "likes" if anyone has the time please?

After M & S we moved on to Costa's - who says that we don't live the high life - for lunch of a toasted cheese and mushroom sandwich - before finding out that 3 hours had passed and it was time to depart.  I honestly don't know where the time goes - we meet up every 6 - 8 weeks for goodness sake!  But it's a great day out with lots of laughs and memories.

Once home, it was a quick dog walk in the rapidly disappearing sunshine, before settling down to open the post - voila one "late" Christmas present. This was from my brother and, as he explained, has been designed by a former student and has received funding from Kickstarter.  It's an intriguing gadget which you put on our finger and then draw down where you want to cut - and it does - cut that is!  Yet the blade feels non sharp when you run your finger over it - very unique and worth waiting for.  You can find out more about it here.  watching the video I particularly like the idea of using it to open packets and parcels - much safer than my usual kitchen knife!!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Grrr - Cars!!

Last summer, when I couldn't drive, my car became a forbidden pleasure.  I just couldn't wait to jump into it and be free again.  Fast forward to today.  I had to take Daisy for her check up at the vets - where she got the all clear (thank goodness) - and popped into Aldi for some groceries.  Whilst there, by the way, I bought some "flowers" and "planted " them when I got home in a shady and dry area. Lazy I know - but it brightens the spot! When the fence gets painted behind them they will stand out a little more.

On the way home I noticed the dreaded sign of "Low Tyre pressure".  I have mentioned this before - you just never know whether its bad or could be left for a while.  However, I am going over to Sheffield tomorrow so didn't want to risk it - so I took the car into my local garage where the nice mechanic (former student) checked the pressures and added air.  According to him there was a slight fall in the rear tyre but nothing to worry about - the rest was okay - grrr!  Then, when I got back home, I received my motor insurance renewal.  Normally I am guilty of just accepting it but I decided to go online to the same company and do a quote - which came in £200 cheaper!  I phoned up, talked it through with a very nice chap who honoured the quote - result!!  But I ask you - why do they make things so difficult for you?

After all the excitement of this morning's activities, this afternoon was rather quieter - walking dogs, quilting some blocks and adding sashing ready to oversew again tonight.  That will be row 5 and the halfway mark.  That sounds as if I am motoring along but the next stage will take longer.  Sadly I didn't buy enough backing fabric for the whole quilt so will use the current one for 5 rows and a complimentary one for 5 rows.  I therefore want to finish (don't forget I still have three bonus blocks to do and one to remake) and quilt the other 50 blocks before laying them all out to see which ones belong on each row.

Lastly may I recommend a programme on Channel 5 tonight - The Great British Benefits Handout.  Last year there was a series of programmes where 3 families, living on benefits, were given £26000 (the figure David Cameron came up with as being the maximum benefits that a family should be on since it equated to the average wage for working people) upfront providing that they signed themselves off benefits.  The purpose of this cash up front, apart from living expenses, was to fund their plan to be solvent again - one set up a  house clearance business and used some of the funds to pay for driving lessons and a van.  One set up a party planning business with bouncy castles etc and exotic pets whilst one lady simply paid for babysitters, clothing and advice so that she could get a job.  In all cases you could see their self esteem go through the roof and, in a world where it seems acceptable to knock people on benefits, it was truly heartening to see people determined to make something of this opportunity.  Tonight sees a new series and I hope that the same outcome happens.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Determination personified

For some reason I woke up early, after a lovely night's sleep, but feeling achey all over - I really hope that that dreaded cold isn't coming back!  Instead I used the enforced "sit down" time to finish row 3 of the SS quilt and quilt the blocks ready to complete row 4.  I have used a combination of FMQ and walking foot - however one block has turned out REALLY disappointing - to the extent that I think I will just have to bite the bullet and do it again - from scratch!

By mid morning the aches had started to fade into the distance - probably due to the pain killers that I had taken - and, with the sun shining brightly, I braved the garden to do some weeding.  The arrangements in this area is to pay a fee every year for the collection and disposal of garden waste every fortnight (worth it for the petrol saved, let alone the mess in the car and the time it takes) and the bin is due to go out tonight.  It will be nice to put a full, or at least partially full, bin out!

I should also report that the dishwasher worked well.  The first wash left a residue but I suspect that this was due to me overfilling the dishwasher salt container.  When I put it on a second time everything came up well - and within the short time promised.  I can't guarantee 30 mins - when it finishes the machine bleeps - but far too quiet for me to hear it from the lounge!  However the cycle was certainly less than an hour which is a huge improvement.  Mind you I also forgot to say yesterday that, when they removed the old dishwasher, the men found a dead mouse - one of my friends from last autumn I hope!

The rest of the day was filled with mundane tasks - bed changing, dog walking up at the beach in this lovely weather (hopefully the vet will give Daisy the all clear tomorrow to have "off the lead " walks) and sorting out the stuff to go back under the sink ( the chaps said yesterday that you would not believe how many people don't bother emptying the cupboard under the sink and they spend 5 - 10 mins taking everything out before they start!).  However I did manage to sew the sashing onto row 4 and so will spend time tonight over-sewing the back.  I want to do 10 rows and so one more will mean half way! 

So - why the blog title?  Well, last October I planted up 3 tete a tete bulbs for WI birthday gifts and I always do a couple of spares that will go on the raffle table if not needed.  Long story short, I won one and put it in the conservatory - promptly forgetting all about it.  For the past four months or so, these bulbs have not been watered and have never been unwrapped - yet one bulb has thrust its way up through all the barriers and is about to bloom.  Isn't that just beautiful and inspirational?  Of course I then had to unwrap it and water it - the other two bulbs had still given their all - one even flowering whilst cooped up in the packaging!