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.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

April already?

This year seems to be hurtling along at break neck speed. I'd like to hop off the express train that is 2017 and take a slow train so I can enjoy the scenery along the way.  As each year passes life just seems to get busier and faster than the year before. That's why I love to slow it all down on a Sunday. In fact the whole of this weekend has been at a slower pace. After my treatment on the 24th March I felt very energetic over the weekend and that continued all week. Probably a good thing as I was working every day, but I do love chill out time. I started on Friday evening and haven't pushed myself to do anything since. Don't get me wrong I haven't just sat around all weekend I have done other things such as lounging on the sofa watching TV, lying on my bed with the sun streaming though the windows reading my book and sitting in my armchair cuddling Scamp and Picasso. I've even been out and about but at a much slower pace.

I'd booked Scamp a grooming appointment on Saturday morning. I like to keep his hair short as he's such an active little dog. If you let it grow too long it gets tangled and he hates too much brushing, he has more important things to do.  This is Scamp last year after his early summer clip. It's been such a slow weekend I haven't taken a photo of him yet.

I always book his grooming for 8.45 on a Saturday and once he has been booked in John and I head for Orange Pekoe, a very small cafe in Barnes. They specialise in teas so this is paradise for me, and they also have a good range of coffees which keeps John happy. The picture is from their site and shows some of the containers of teas they have. They also do infusions.

Photo of Orange Pekoe

They have a good breakfast menu and both John and I chose to have smashed avocado and crab meat on toasted sourdough bread. It was really yummy.

After breakfast we still had some time before Scamp would be finished so we walked along the river to the Leg of Mutton Nature Reserve. This is a former reservoir which provides a quiet space for ducks and other waterfowl to breed. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the flowering trees were in blossom, the rest are coming into leaf and there was a lot of bird activity on the water.

Looking at the picture it's hard to believe it is in London as it looks like it could be out in the country. You can just see a building through the trees.

Once we had collected Scamp we headed home and my lazy Saturday really began. It was so much fun catching up on a couple of programmes I'd recorded, and then catching up with some reading. In the evening we sat and watched a film will I did some knitting.

Today another slow start and then some hand stitching. I hadn't got very far with Millicent but I put a little more work in and she is starting to look good. Unfortunately John managed to spill his coffee over her and Picasso sat on her and left fur everywhere so she needs a gentle wash. My stitching is also slow as the drug I'm currently being given has affected my eyes. They should return to normal after the treatment finishes but it makes close work quite difficult.

These bag ladies have a character all of their own and I saw Millicent as having very thick hair so I've stitched it using long and short stitch and also worked it with two stands of floss but both different shades of brown. I like how it has worked so far. I need to get some purple floss this week as I don't appear to have any.  I 'm going to work on her this evening and then switch to Gertrude who is April's bag lady. I haven't taken the backing paper off Gertrude yet.

I love the look of her hair and the pearls or beads are fabulous. I'm trying to decide how to change the flag for the UK flag. It is especially important to me to do this as the UK as I have always known it may not exist in a few years time if Scotland and Northern Ireland vote to leave. 

Tomorrow it's back to work. This week is slightly lighter as I'm working three and a half days. My hair is now quite thin and on Wednesday I'm collecting my wig. I decided to get one for those special occasions which for me includes the university graduation ceremonies. It's the students day and as most of them want photos with their tutor I always try to look really good and this year will be no exception. Come Thursday evening I have free time over the next two weeks. I have to go into work on the 11th April for students presentations but other than that I will be on leave. I'm doing a happy dance because that means sewing time!

I'm linking this post with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching and also with Barbara at  Cat Patches for her bag lady link up party.

Umm now I need food and then back to my bag ladies.