Sunday, 14 May 2017

Stitching and knitting.

Before I start my post for today I'd like to apologise to those of you who have left me comments but I haven't replied to. I was going through my email account and found several comments from April that I seem not to have replied to. I really do appreciate each and every comment you post but every so often my brain has a little melt down and I seem to forget what I was going to do. My family tell me it's due to the chemotherapy and although I don't like to admit it I think they might be right. I have read all the comments posted as they come into my phone but I find it easier to write replies on the computer as it is quicker and unfortunately this is where the memory falls down. I will try much harder in the future to respond to all your comments but please bear with me until normal service is resumed some time in July. 

Last Sunday I decided to make a new tote bag using the fabric and pattern from my treat box. Today I took some time to sew the strips together and add the fabric for the base of the bag. These have now been basted to the wadding and tomorrow I will quilt the back and the front. I only based around the outside of the pieces as they are relatively small.

Over the week I have been working on Hildegard and I'm really pleased with how she is looking. When I started the embroidery I thought she was a rather dull character but as I've worked on her I have grown to realise she is another colourful lady. I'm hoping to get her finished by the end of this week.

This week I have also pulled out my knitting. I haven't touched this jumper I'm making for John since the beginning of the year. Not fully sure why but I have realised that I haven't really worked on projects that I had in play when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now this is just silly as I have lots of things that need to be moved forward and finished. John's jumper is just one of them. Here's the pattern I'm knitting

and this is the first sleeve I was knitting. I've finished the sleeve up to the raglan shaping and it's ready to join into the body which is knitted on circular needles. I've never knitted a jumper this way before so I had expected to finish it quickly as I like the challenge of a new technique.

Tonight I've started the second sleeve. It's good to get back to some unfinished projects and I'm hoping to work on some other old projects over the next few weeks. In particular I have a lot of embroidery projects to complete.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching. I love seeing what people have been stitching.


Sunday, 7 May 2017

A slow Sunday.

I love slow Sundays. No rushing around in the morning trying to be super organised so I get to work early. The joy of an extra hours sleep and then a cup of tea and reading a chapter of my book with Scamp curled up next to me before getting up and going. A leisurely walk with John, Lucy and Scamp across the common and then time to catch up with some of my projects. When we set off for the common this morning it was rather cold with a raw wind blowing and little sun but half way through our walk the wind had dropped and the sun was shining. The wisteria was looking and smelling beautiful.

Quite a lot of the houses have wisteria growing in the front garden. This yellow flowering plant is also a popular one but I don't know its name.

Just before we left the common to return home by the roads Lucy and I realised we were being followed by our shadow selves and we stopped to take a photo but Scamp decided to photo bomb.

We also spotted these spiky fruits on the London Plane tree. Usually these break up over the winter to release their seeds.

Last night I decided I wanted to make the tote bag from the pattern in my Box of Delights so this afternoon I cut the fabric ready to start the sewing during the week.

The fabrics in my box this month are a selection of mixed batiks and some of the Moda Grunge collection. I'm alternating the batiks with the grunge and it took a little time to decide the order to place the fabrics. This is the photo I posted yesterday which shows the range of fabrics better and also has the pattern.

I've been trying to stitch at least one badge onto my camp blanket each day and this afternoon I took some time out to stitch a range of badges that all celebrated our Queen in some way.

I've just got that diamond jubilee badge from 2012 to stitch on. There is still a lot more hand stitching here if I'm to have most of my badges on my blanket by the time we go to Switzerland in August. Lucy had to buy a new camp blanket because hers got attacked by moths. She was able to rescue all the badges but has the job of sewing them all on the new blanket. This afternoon we spent an hour stitching together whilst catching up with a TV programme we'd recorded. 

My other hand stitching is working on Hildegard, the bag lady for May. I started work on her last night and have done some this evening. I feeling positive that she will be finished by the end of the month. If I finish her earlier I have some cross stitch I need to work on.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. Go and see what everyone has been doing today. There is just so much to inspire you.


Saturday, 6 May 2017

A bit of this and that.

I'm not sure why but over recent weeks I found it really difficult to post regularly even though I have things to tell you about. Anyway whatever the reason I thought I'd try and catch up a bit. Over the Easter period I had 2 weeks holiday and so John and I were able to do several walks. Mostly they were our usual around the common route with Scamp but on Easter Monday John, Lucy and I set off on the next stretch of the Capital Ring. To date we have walked as far as Hendon Park and for the next section we wanted to try and get to Finsbury Park which is about 8.7 miles. There was a break out point at 5 miles in case I got tired. Hendon Park was a good place to start from as there was a well placed coffee shop to get our caffeine fix and pick up some caramel shortbread in case we needed a sugar boost during the walk.

We started the walk in Hendon Park but quite quickly we were out onto the road and crossing the river Brent. Here we saw these two pepper pot gazebos on either side of the weir. They are a little ramshackle and have graffiti over them but made a pretty picture.

I think the ivy was holding the gazebos together.

For a 150 yards we walked along the A 406 North Circular Road which has the dubious honour of being the noisiest road in Britain. It certainly made it's presence heard even after we turned into Brent Park. The fun bit of the Capital Ring is that you discover lots of small parks and open spaces around London as you go. In this area there was wild garlic growing.

Here's a close up of the flowers. The smell of the garlic was quite strong but pleasant.

We followed Dollis Brook and Mutton Brook (which merge to form the River Brent) until we reached the Finchley Road at Henly's Corner. The unofficial local name for the large road junction here is 'The Naked Lady' because of the statue La Delivrance by Emile Guillaume which commemorates the alliance of British and French troops at the Battle of the Marne in 1914. I didn't get a photo so this is courtesy of Wikipedia. Go here for more information.

Further on at Lyttelton Playing Field we found ourselves a bench to enjoy our lunchtime sandwiches whilst watching the birds and squirrels on the grass. Once lunch was finished we carried on until we came to East Finchley Station. Above the station is a statue, The Archer, firing an arrow along the railway line towards Highgate.

At this point we could have caught the tube home but we were all feeling great so headed out for the next bit. Fairly soon we entered Highgate Wood. Highgate Wood, which was previously known as Gravel Pit Wood is a remnant of the Forest of Middlesex. There are lots of pieces of land like this that were acquired by the Corporation of London during the 19th century so they could be maintained forever for Londoners' recreation. The wood was beautiful and there were a lot of bluebells and some more wild garlic.

Within the wood there is a plaque which marks the spot where the Capital Ring was formally launched on 21st September 2005. It's looking a bit jaded now and in need of a makeover.

We left Highgate Wood via this gate.

I loved the animals and birds on the gate and would have taken several photos to get all the creatures depicted but John and Lucy had already crossed the road and entered Queen's Wood on the other side. This wood had a lot more ascents and descents than Highgate and some were quite steep. By the time we had walked through it my legs were feeling tired. Leaving Queen's Wood we climbed another steep path into Highgate Spinney and then onto Archway Road.

Here we turned off the road to join a former railway line which is now a gravel track known as The Parkland Walk. At one point the walk was destined to be turned into a motorway but was saved by local activists and is now a 2 mile long nature reserve. Along this route we met the 'Spriggan'. I've walked the route before but I really don't remember him so I'm not sure where he was hiding.

If you want to find out more about Spriggans who are from Cornish faery lore then click here  Fortunately this Spriggan didn't try to lead us the wrong way or try any other nasty tricks so we soon came to the end of the Parkland Walk and from here it was a short distance through Finsbury Park to the tube station and our journey back home. All in all a very enjoyable day out. We now need to plan the date for the next section

A while back I took part in Quazy Quilt Queens blog hop with Marian from Seams to be sew Those of us who took part had a chance to win some goodies and I received these 3 fabulous fat quarters.

I don't currently have a project in mind for them but I have a few ideas forming in my brain and I'm looking forward to using them.

I also received my latest Box of Delights through the post.

The box always comes with one or two pattern suggestions for using the fabric and this month one of the patterns is for a tote bag. I'm not sure I need another bag but I like this pattern and I like the fabric combination so I think I might make it. The box has the magnetic fastener and also the cotton webbing for the shoulder straps. I'll make my mind up a little later this evening.

I have another walk to tell you about and some sewing but I think I need a cup of tea so I'll save that for another day. On a final note I've been wearing my wig for work and out and about. It now feels part of me (and keeps my head warm). I was chatting with my work colleagues and they commented that it must be much easier to care for a wig than your own hair. Hmm little do they know. I have shampoo, conditioner, spray in conditioner and a wig brush that are all needed to keep it looking good and stopping the frizz that could so easily happen. From the maintenance point of view maybe I should have chosen a short style as it takes longer than it did to look after my own long hair before it fell out. Still I'm loving the colour and the curls so the maintenance is worth it. I thought I would be very upset when I lost my hair but it's just part of the process and it is surprising just how tenacious my hair is especially the hair at the back of my head. I haven't shaved it off as I'm interested to see how long it takes to lose it all or if I will before I finish the chemo. Then I'm interested  to find out how it will grow back...I'm hoping it won't be grey!


Thursday, 4 May 2017

Gertrude finally finished

I'm celebrating completing the stitching on Gertrude. Gertrude and I have become firm friends over the last month as I slowly stitched away completing her colourful outfit. 

I love the little duck, what a great addition to the stitching. I was a little confused as to why Gertrude was carrying her bra in the top of her bag but I'm sure there is a perfectly logical explanation. We had a little chat about it but I never got to the bottom of the story. When I got to stitching her jewellery she became a little demanding. She wanted pearls and a gold chain and she was in luck as I had some beads left over from an earlier project.  The chain for her heart pendant was stitched with some fabulous metallic thread that my mother gave me years ago. The thread was a free gift with Classic Stitching, an embroidery magazine that she used to buy.  

My mother died at Christmas 2002 and it was some time before then that she gave me the threads. She didn't like working with metallic threads and at the time neither did I, however I accepted the threads and they spent a long time languishing in my work box. Earlier this year I used one of them in a project and realised how good they were. They didn't tangle or shred and the finished result was great. Now I'm looking for opportunities to use them. Unfortunately there is nothing that tells me who manufactured the threads although I think they may be Guttermann. Anyway using double thread I was able to do a chain stitch necklace for the pendant with ease. 

The bag lady for May is Hildegard and with any luck I'll be able to make a start on her tomorrow evening.

Compared to Gertrude she is the quiet retiring type but I may be wrong about her.  

I've got lots of things to tell you about but for now I need to link up with Barbara from Cat Patches for her end of month bag lady link up. 


Monday, 1 May 2017

A very dusty week

This week I had intended to do a lot of hand stitching. I really wanted to completely finish the April bag lady Gertrude as I am so close to the end. Silly me what an impossibility. I realised our windows were being replaced, I mean who wouldn't when it had been in the diary for weeks. What I did forget was just how much dust the process would create. The guys who installed the windows were very good and cleaned up after each days work but that doesn't help with the dust in the air which settled in a thick layer on everything over the evening. The dust got into Scamp's and now that it's all finished he needs a bath. He also kept sticking his nose in the dust and choking himself, silly dog!  Picasso has been much more sensible, spending a lot of his time outside and when in doors only settling on places that have already been cleaned. Anyway the evenings were spent damp dusting to keep the dust down for all our sake's. The joys of having work done on a house that was built in 1880! 

So on Saturday evening having spent the day cleaning the downstairs (need to finish cleaning upstairs) I settled with Scamp on my lap and Gertrude in my hands and did a little stitching. Yesterday we went out walking for most of the day but once home and a little more stitching got done. Gertrude is almost finished and I've really enjoyed sewing her. I will be working on her over the next few days just to get her finished. I'm not sure which is the next bag lady so I must check out Barbara's post over at Catpatches  If you haven't visited Barbara's blog before you should check it out. It's a great mixture of quilting, cooking (yummy recipes), trips, cats and lots more.

I need to find my flesh coloured floss. I bought it specifically for this project but I've put it somewhere safe and can't remember where. I suppose it is always possible that I was so organised that I wound it onto the bobbin and put it into my embroidery thread box? 

Today is a bank holiday here in the UK so no work for me but I have a couple of bits I need to do for work in order to ensure my day goes well tomorrow. Once that's done and Scamp has been for his walk I can get on with a couple more blocks and then some hand stitching. 

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her  Slow Sunday Stitching linkup.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Blocks and embroidery

I haven't posted since the 10th April and it feels like a lifetime. I also haven't kept up to date with my blog reading during the whole of April. I'm not entirely sure why not but I'm putting it down to pressure of work and tiredness. My lack of posts was due to the want of a working charger for my laptop. The charger had been playing up for a little while but it finally gave up the ghost on the 11th April. Both my son and daughter use the same make of laptop and both have chargers but they never seemed to be available when I needed one. My son told me he had a spare I could use but he couldn't find it, so in the end he ordered me a new one.  Normally I'd have got quite stressed by the experience but the truth is I haven't had time to miss it. It has been a very pleasant change to be unplugged and one I may implement again in the future. I've been on holiday since the 10th April and having no dedicated computer meant I couldn't access any work. 

John has also been on holiday and we have stayed at home. This has given me the opportunity to do some spring cleaning and catch up on some projects. My 4th chemo treatment took place on the 19th April having been moved back a few days because of the bank holiday. That was good as I had lots of energy to enjoy the Easter weekend.

Over the holiday I made some blocks. I now have 10 of the 20 star blocks I need for the next border of my compass quilt. Once I've finished all 20 I'll trim them. 

I made a couple of blocks for the Austen Family album quilt.

Again these blocks will all be trimmed when they are all finished.

I have also had time to work on Gertrude, the bag lady for April. She is nearly finished and I'm getting excited that I'll actually have finished her within the month. I'm hoping to get the rest done tonight but it may take a little longer than I expect, after all there is no rush.

I'm going to take out the french knots forming her necklace and do them again with three strands of floss as they aren't really chunky enough. I was going to change the flag to the British flag but I decided against it as I like the stitching as it is.

Over the Easter weekend we celebrated two family birthdays. Older daughter Kathryn's birthday was the 13th April and baby of the family Lucy had her 26th birthday on the 18th April. We couldn't arrange a full family dinner for either of the dates but we went out to a lovely vegetarian restaurant with Katy for lunch after John, Katy and I had been to the Russian Revolution exhibition at the Royal Academy. Lucy was working on her birthday but John, Richard, Lucy and I celebrated that evening at home with Lucy's choice of a Mexican meal. 

In between the two dates was Easter itself and John and I went to the dawn service which started at 5.15 a.m. It is quite a wrench to get out of a warm bed so early but well worth it. The service starts outside with the lighting of a fire from which the Easter candle is lit. The service is conducted by candle light and by the end the church is bathed in a beautiful dawn light. There was some champagne following the service for those who wanted and there is always a full cooked breakfast. John, as usual, was roped in to cook the eggs. 

We've done a few walks over the holiday but I'll post the pictures and tell you about that tomorrow or Tuesday. For now I'm going to finish cooking dinner and settle down for the evening with my stitching.

I'm linking this post to  Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching Take some time out to slow down and see some hand stitching.


Monday, 10 April 2017

A slow weekend.

The hustle and bustle of the week is over and except for work on Tuesday I have two weeks holiday. Don't you just love a week off to catch up on things and do just what you want. I made a start on doing just that on Friday. Lucy and I took Scamp for a long walk over the common. It was warm and sunny and we talked as we ambled along. It was great to catch up on the gossip and make plans for next week as Lucy is on holiday as well. It was also lovely to see the bluebell in bloom.

Having walked we then had a pedicure. So relaxing and I love the colour of my nail varnish. 

When we arrived home my subscription box had arrived which is always fun. This is a small box and can fit through our letterbox easily. Even though it's little I haven't had time to start any projects using the contents from the last three boxes so I hoping to do that next week. I hate having pretty fabric and projects just sat around waiting to be made.

There are some hand quilting needles in the box which is good as I'd been meaning to buy some but I just haven't got round to it.

Over the weekend I've been having a bit of a cleaning frenzy (not too much of one so don't panic). Work has been very busy this year and with my chemo it's been the housework that has gone to the wall. My family have been great and kept the everyday cleaning up to date but it's the extra bits that needed doing such as cleaning under the beds and restoring order to cupboards and drawers. As I've sorted and cleaned quite a lot of stuff has gone to the charity shop and some straight in the rubbish bin. The weather has also been beautiful over the weekend so in between cleaning I've had lots of walks.

By evening I've been ready for a rest and a slower pace. I wanted to do a little more work on Millicent before I put her away. I'm not sure why but she really captured my imagination and I want to get her finished.

I'm satin stitching the patches on her dress and I found some silver thread for the hat pin (you can just catch the glitter).

This month I'm working on Gertrude and she is another cute lady. I started work on her on Sunday having finally put Millicent away. I was catching up with a couple of TV programmes so my stitching was extra slow but very relaxing.

I also needed to cut out some paper templates for my grandmother's garden quilt. These are 1 inch hexies and I usually print out 10 sheets at a time. This was always my go to project for stitching during my train journeys to work when I'm in Reading but I haven't been doing that recently. I need to move this project forward a little and over the next few nights I'll cut the fabric before stitching by hand.

Finally I collected my wig on Wednesday last week. I still have quite a lot of my hair but it is rather thin and I look a bit like a monk with a very large patch on the top of my head being covered by new soft fluffy hair. I'm impressed it's growing back nice and dark and I hope it keeps on doing that. Anyway I didn't want a wig in my natural colour and John said he didn't marry a blond so what else could I do but go red. The fringe needs a trim and as a result the wig is not positioned on my hairline in this picture. It also needs a little shaping but it is fun to wear. My older daughter's friend Joanna is going to sort it for me over the holiday.

Sorry I'm looking a bit grumpy but I'd not used the camera on my new phone and couldn't get the forward facing camera to work at first. As you can see it's long and curly. I just decided that I needed to have a little fun. During the summer, when all of my hair has gone I'm planning to have a henna tattoo on my head as it will be too hot to wear a hat, wig or scarves.

I'm linking this post to Kathy at Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching  Pop over and see what everyone has been working on. For now I'm off to do a little more slow stitching on Gertrude, after all why only slow stitch on a Sunday.