Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Can't wait for 2015!

2014 seems to have flown by. Why do the years zap by so quickly the older you get? This year has been a good year and I have managed to do a lot. Last New Year's Eve, John and I decided we needed to make better use of our leisure time. We both like walking, going to the theatre, bird watching and visiting places in Britain but we realised we hadn't done very much of any of them over 2013. This year we put a lot of effort in and as a result we went to the theatre a lot seeing some really good plays. We particularly like to go to Richmond theatre (Surrey) as it is small and intimate. We managed more walks this year with our friend Tony and we also took Scamp on his regular walks round the commons that are near to our home. We also visited new areas in Britain even fitting in some birdwatching.

The year wasn't quite so good for my sewing but I still completed quite a few projects.

Hannah's quilt as she left Guides and heading to university.

A commission for Lauren, a quilt for her daughter Grace.

The votes for women quilt made for my daughter Katy. I plan to quilt this in January

Katy's friend had a baby and I made this scrappy quilt for her.

A quilt for baby Tommy, the son of friend's of my younger daughter.

I completed the quilt for Jennifer.

Cushion cover from scraps 

Quilt for Edward, the son of my niece Hannah.

Bird quilt for my husband to use on birdwatching trips (it's cold in the hides.)

Knitted blanket for Mercer's baby Arthur.

Cushion cover.

I have a pile of unfinished projects which I must move forward next year. I also have lots of ideas for new projects. 

I love cross stitching and other types of embroidery and have a lot of unfinished stitcheries hiding around the place. I have been doing some work on my millenium sampler over Christmas and I have now finished the crown. This project really must be finished in 2015. 

Finally I set out to walk 1000 miles this year. This was completed in November so I've set myself a new target of 1500 miles for next year.

Tonight John and I are welcoming in the New Year on our own but tomorrow we will have a family celebration. I not making any resolutions but I do have a few goals I would like to achieve but more of that next year.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year.


Monday, 29 December 2014

Walking off the Christmas excess!

John, Tony (one of our friends) and I have been walking the Capital Ring, which is a walking route of 78 miles (125 km)  around London. Last year we completed the London Loop which is 150 miles around outer London. Today we had arranged to walk the penultimate section of the ring and hopefully we will complete the whole ring on Friday 2nd January. 

The section we walked today was from Grove Park to Crystal Palace, a distance of approximately 8.2 miles. Today in London the weather was dry but cold which is great for walking. The fun bit with the Capital ring is that it takes you through the city and you discover lots of green open spaces that you didn't know existed.

As you can see the sun was shining and in the background you can see the towers of Canary Wharf. A little further on we entered The Downham Woodland walk. This runs for about a mile along a narrow strip of woodland that is a remnant of the Great North Wood. This was a vast oak forest that stretched 7 miles from Croydon to Deptford before London expanded.

Whilst walking along this path I noticed this pile of beautiful frosty oak leaves.

We walked through Beckenham Place Park, where we stopped to eat our lunch.

and another open space which I missed the name of

until we finally arrived at Crystal Palace Park. Here we saw a cute gorilla,

and  various types of dinosaurs,

Although I have lived in London since 1972 I have never visited the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace.  Some of them are looking a little tired but they are still fun and the children running round looking for them found them fascinating.

There is also the crystal palace tower which is the main television transmitter for the London area, 

Just one more section to walk on Friday.  The walk will have helped to take off some of my Christmas chocolates. Now I have some time this evening to get on with a little stitching. That would make it a perfect day. I also need to plan out my projects for 2015. Not that I'll stick to the plan but I love the idea of being all organised.

I hope you've had a good Monday.


I'm not cross, just stitching.

I hope you all had a very happy Christmas. We had a very enjoyable time. Christmas Day was unusually quiet as there was just the three of us but on boxing day both my daughters and their boyfriends joined us for a family meal. It was very noisy and chaotic but really enjoyable. I had been worried how the cooking would go as the kitchen is in bits but it all worked well in the end. 

Quilting bits worked their way into my presents with an A3 portable cutting board from my son which will be perfect for my quilt classes.

He also bought me a quilting calculator. It helps works out the yardage. Being me I don't always trust calculators so I gave it a test with a quilt I had already planned out and done the maths on. It came up with the same answers so I'm very happy. The calculations took me a lot of effort but the calculator did it really quickly. That means more sewing time. I'll let you know how useful it is as time goes by.

In my Christmas stocking I also found three fat quarters. As these are the only pieces of fabric easily available in our house at the moment I gave them a good petting and stroking. I've missed pulling out fabrics as I decide on a new project!

As all my sewing stuff is packed up at present I've been catching up on some hand stitching. I seem to have a backlog of cross stitching. I realised that this was because several of the LED's in my sewing light/magnifier had gone. Richard helpfully replaced these and now I can sew what I'm doing. Some of my cross stitch is on high count fabric so my old eyes have a few problems without the light.

I started on the crown on the millenium sampler. This piece really has to be finished in 2015. (I have been threatening to get it finished for ages.) I think I'd better stick to smaller projects in future as it takes a lot of stamina and determination to complete these big projects. There is still a lot of work to do on the crown (not to mention the remaining bits of the sampler.)

I also pulled out this teddy bear cross stitch. It had been put away in a box and forgotten about. This is how it stood when I found it earlier this year. I hadn't done any work on it until today. Scamp seems to have eaten something he shouldn't so he has been on my lap whilst I stitched. I wrapped a hot water bottle in a towel and he lay on this on my lap. I got rather hot but he got better and the stitching has moved forward so a good day all round.

The finished size is 8 x 8 inches. There is still quite a bit to do but it should be finished soon. I know the instructions say to leave the outline stitches until the whole thing is completed but I find it helps to do it as I go along as it helps me keep track of my place.

I still have the rest of the little teddy plus the butterfly net and one more butterfly to do. I think I would have done more hand stitching over the holiday if there had been more interesting programmes on the TV (Not that I'm saying there wasn't anything interesting to watch as there certainly was.) I always stitch or knit when watching TV. Lack of good programmes meant I did some reading instead. 

I'm linking this post with Slow Sunday Stitching over at Kathy's Quilts

I hope you've had some time for stitching over the holiday and that your Sunday has been relaxing and peaceful.


Monday, 22 December 2014

First there was labyrinthitis then...

It has been quite a time since I posted regularly. It started in October when I developed labyrinthitis and kept on getting very dizzy. I didn't use my sewing machine as I found it made the dizziness worse. I am really pleased to say that I'm now over that and apart from a very annoying cold and cough that I caught from a work colleague I am fit and well.

So why no posts? Well in early November we had our heating system completely redone. A new boiler, new radiators and all new pipework. It created a lot of mess and Picasso loved disappearing under the floorboards. Fortunately Scamp wasn't into that adventure. Now the house is delightfully warm and I can also alter the heating settings from my phone such as turning up the temperature so it's all snug when I arrive home.

A couple of weeks later at the end of November we also had the house rewired. This created huge amounts of dust and mess. That work was more or less finished last week. I'm still trying to clear all the dust. No wonder my cough has been so bad. I must give Scamp a bath as the dust has got into his fur. Brushing him keeps his fur OK but a bath would make him silky and comfortable again.  Picasso has spent a lot of time out doors and visiting our neighbours houses. Cats always find somewhere comfortable to spend their days (but he is always home every night.)

In having the house rewired the biggest impact was on the kitchen. We needed the ceiling plastering as it wasn't very flat and we wanted to move a wall to make the kitchen a little bigger. We also wanted new kitchen units and appliances. So all the kitchen units had to come out except the sink and all the contents of the kitchen are camped out in our dining room.

My old cooker got damaged when the ceiling was taken down but I have a new range cooker on order for January when the new kitchen is being fitted. I also have a washer/dryer on order but don't tell the old one as I need it to keep working a little longer.

The new wall section has now had plaster board added and it has all been skimmed with plaster. 

There are pipes to be boxed in and the new boiler had to be covered to prevent it being damaged by the dust. I now have the smaller window in the kitchen as well as the bay window so it is now very light and airy. Once the ceiling plaster is fully dry I can paint it and push the ceiling lights into place. The new lighting is really clear and bright and will make cooking so much easier.

My very cluttered dining room. The big plastic boxes have all my store cupboard items in them. These are now back in the kitchen until that is fitted..roll on the 19th January!

The box underneath the piles of pans and plates is my fabric and project store. The pans will stay here until the kitchen is done. Meanwhile my sewing machine is in its case and stored away from the dust. Yesterday I took all the pans off the box and got out some supplies so I can do some sewing over Christmas.

On Saturday whilst I was out shopping I wanted to get a quilting magazine as I was suffering with withdrawal symptoms. The only one I found was this one which has some nice modern quilt designs.

It also came with a free gift. This little cat pincushion to make. It is quite small so will be a little fiddly. I put my embroidery scissors next to it to give an idea of size. So far I've sewn the head and started on the tail.

So I have finally started back to sewing and it feels good. Until all the work in the kitchen is completed I think a lot of my work will be hand stitching as everything is in the wrong place. We also have to redecorate everywhere as the rewiring meant channeling in all the walls to put in new switches and sockets. I'm not starting on that until the new year. Before the kitchen is done we need to sort out the walls and get the electricians back as I am not happy with their work in this area. Elsewhere they did a good job but in the kitchen the sockets aren't level or where I wanted them plus the heat detector has been put immediately over where the new cooker will go. When I use the grill it is going off and is a very loud alarm!

Now I must finish my shopping for Christmas and generally get a little more organised. We are having our big Christmas meal on boxing day as all the family will be with us then. I need something a little special for the three of us for Christmas Day.

I hope you Christmas preparations are going well and that you will be spending time with your family at this special time.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

'Twas the Night'

Hi, today is my day on the 'Twas the Night' hop. If you follow my blog you will know that I haven't been posting recently. Unfortunately I have been unwell with Labyrinthitis which has made sewing a little difficult. Labyrinthitis affects your balance and the movement of the needle and the fabric has been making me very dizzy so sewing has been at a minimum. However I have been working on my Christmas projects - just very slowly.

 Before I tell you about the present I received and about my projects I must thank Madame Samm for organising the hop and Marlene for being a very supportive cheerleader.

I received a lovely gift from Britt-Inger at Hill Valley Quilter from Sweden.

This beautiful bag came through the post. The fabric is fabulous and it is beautifully made. The fabric is a vintage design from about 1980 made by a Swedish fabric factory using a Swedish design. The horse on the side is a  Dalecarlian horse. This is a traditional carved, painted wooden horse statuette that originally came from the Swedish province of Dalarna. It was mostly used as a toy for  children but has now become a symbol of Sweden. I tried to take a photo of the inside of the bag but I couldn't get a clear picture.

Inside the bag there was chocolates. Mmmm yummy. I really enjoyed eating the chocolate and  sharing it with John my husband one evening whilst we watched a film. Thank you Britt-Inger for the lovely present. I will enjoy using the bag

My Christmas project this year is making Christmas stockings.

The Stockings are big enough to hold small presents such as a mascara wand or pencils. They will be used as presents for the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. Last year I made small christmas tote bags and wanted something different this year.

The stockings are made using the pattern from the swap I did last year with Quilting gallery. The stockings I received last year looked beautiful as part of our Christmas decorations.

Still on the stocking theme I've just started knitting a stocking for Lucy's boyfriend. The stockings are an important part of our Christmas and she wants to share this tradition with her boyfriend.

I'm slowly getting back to sewing and looking forward to blogging again. I've shared the projects I'm slowly working on so now go visit the other folks posting today. There will be lots of fabulous projects to look at.

Tuesday, Nov. 18

Looking forward to getting back into the swing of things again real soon and catching up with all you have been doing. Take care.


Sunday, 12 October 2014

A sewing day at last.

Today's been a busy old day. I only had a couple of hours sleep on Friday night so I had a lie in this morning. Just what I needed and it meant that when I finally woke up I had loads of energy. I had some chores I needed to get done including catching up with my ironing but I had promised myself some sewing time.

I had an ironing mountain that had taken on the proportions of Mount Everest so I desperately needed to reduce this. I spent the early part of the day ironing. I had already done a couple of hours on Saturday but there was a lot of shirts to be done. I ironed for an hour and a half after which I needed to take Scamp out for his walk. The last few days have been wet and yesterday we had to cut Scamp's walk short as it got very wet and he couldn't cope in the wind. 

Today we managed to take a long walk over Wandsworth Common. The weather was dry and warm and lots of families were out. The leaves are all on the turn so the colours are looking beautiful ranging from greens to reds, oranges, yellows and browns. 

Once home and after lunch I got my machine set up and was ready to make a start. I want to finish the Star Trek quilt top this month. I thought I had finished all the blocks but when I got the project bag out I realised I still had two blocks to do and had to sew the border on the central block. I was sure I would remember how the blocks went together so got straight on with a block. Turns out that my memory wasn't so good so I had to rip out several seams on the first block. Never mind I finally finished all the blocks.

The blocks finish at 24 inches. I laid them out on the bed. The central block is just one fabric piece with a border but the other 8 blocks are pieced. There is sashing to be added and a border. Scamp came to help take the photo but when the doorbell went he disappeared in a blur (top left hand corner of the photo).  I thought the quilt top might be too dark but instead it is very bright and cheerful. Tomorrow evening I will add the sashing and hopefully the border. This will be a large quilt.

As I've been busy this week I haven't bothered getting the sewing machine out. Instead i've been sewing hexi flowers for my grandmother's garden quilt. It started will a red central flower and each row going out is the next colour in the rainbow. I am up to indigo or purple. I need 30 flowers for this round. So far I have made 18. I've got several more hexis made but need to sew them into flowers. I was working on that before I started this post and will do a couple more later.

I hate they way the camera changes the colour of the fabric. All of these are various shades of purple but in the photo they look brown, pink, well just about anything but purple. I must take a picture of progress so far.

I have also been knitting. I'm working on a jumper for John but in between I've been using up scraps of double knitting yarn to knit a blanket for a dog or cat at Battersea dog and cats home. It is very relaxing as it is all knit.. no purl rows, no pattern just knit knit knit.

Each band of colour is 10 rows. I only started this last week so it is growing quickly. Last week I decided to try and knit or sew for at least 15 minutes a day. This is so relaxing to do it has been my way of winding down after a day at work. It should be finished by the end of this coming week.

So my sewing day has been very productive. All blocks finished for the Star Trek quilt top and the sashing and border all cut out and ready to add. Quiet hand sewing making hexis and stitching them into flowers. Just another 12 flowers to make and I can add the next row to the quilt.

I hope you've had time for some sewing this weekend and the the weather where you are has been good to you. Here in London there is a weather warning for heavy rain and high winds overnight and into tomorrow. That will make the morning commute to work interesting!


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

September review and October plans

2014 NewFO ChallengeA Lovely Year of FinishesNever too hot to Stitch!

It's that time of the month to review what I managed to achieve last month and think about my plans for October.

September was a busy month. I have taken on more work than I did last year so I have less sewing time. There were also several weekends that were fully booked during the month and it looks a little busy for October. 

I had planned to finish the star trek quilt top  but unfortunately this didn't happen. The blocks are all done but I needed more fabric for the sashing and the border and I wasn't able to get to the shop until the last day of the month.  This will be my main goal for October and is certainly achievable.

I managed to catch up all the blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I'm making 4 nine patch blocks a month. These blocks finish at 6 inches. I am also making a hexi block each month. I'm pleased to have caught up and I've got to go through my scraps to find this months colour of black or browns. 

I love the pumpkin fabric in the orange hexi block.

As my NewFO for September I started the Charming Stars sew along with Terry at Terry's Treasures. I had a couple of charm packs that I had wanted to use up but I couldn't decide on a pattern. When I saw the Charming Star blocks I feel in love with them and just had to join the sew along. In September I made 4 blocks. I still haven't decided how big I want to make the quilt but I will work that out as it progresses. Here are the blocks I've made in September.

This month I need to get started on my project for the 'T'was the night' blog hop. I know what I will be making and I'm hoping to get started this weekend.

Twas the hop FULL

I also want to start the corset quilt pattern I 've got. I've been collecting the fabrics I want to use for this quilt and I'm getting excited about starting. Roll on my October NewFO.

Last week I went through my work in progress list and realised I haven't done much work on my older projects recently. This month I must move some of these projects forward. I want to work on John's jumper and also on Lucy's grandmother's garden quilt. I'm not working tomorrow so I'll share some photos of how far I've got with these projects. Getting them out of 'storage' will push me forward. Unfortunately putting projects away when I tidy the house results in the projects being forgotten about - out of sight, out of mind. 

I'm not making many plans for this month as we have work we need to do about the house. We are having the heating system redone at the beginning of November- new boiler, pipes and radiators. We have flooring we need to take up and we want to make some other changes whilst the house will be in disarray. In fact this will take up quite a lot of time over the next couple of months as I want the majority of the work completed  in time for the Christmas holidays.

I will also be baking this month. I like to make my own Christmas cake and Christmas puddings. I like to get started on preparations early to try and avoid getting stressed.

I'm hoping to fit at least 15 minutes sewing in every day. This is do-able as I want to work on the hexi quilt. This is all hand stitching and very portable so I can take it to work and do some stitching in my lunch break. I hope you have managed to fit lots of sewing into your plans for October.