Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Friends and stitching.

Today I'd agreed to meet up with Karen, since we haven't seen each other for a while. Karen, worked in the same place as me and we were friends and then a few years ago she became my boss. That worked well as neither of us took advantage of the other plus we also helped each other out as needed. Coming up two years ago she changed jobs and now we have to plan our meeting up. This is often difficult to do as we both have busy jobs and family commitments. Having agreed to meet at a set time Karen got delayed at work so we ended up spending just a couple of hours in a coffee shop chatting. My friend Karen is on the left in the photo. The picture was taken at the graduation ceremony in July 2015. I love the opportunity to dress up in the hood and gown.

The last couple of days I've been working away on Ernestine. I haven't quite finished her but I've decided I'll put her away at the end of this evening so I can concentrate on Beulah, who is the bag lady for June.

I'll make a start on Beulah tomorrow.  I still have Ernestine's hair, face and dog to do but I don't think I have time to finish her this month.

Tomorrow I have to do some marking and I also have blood tests and a clinic appointment before my treatment on Friday. I'm hoping to make time to to sew a couple more star blocks as I want to complete the star border this weekend if possible. John is busy on Saturday so I shall be on my own and I've planned a very slow day with some gentle sewing so I can move the compass quilt forward.


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A busy Monday.

Yesterday was supposed to be a sewing day. A day when me and my machine were reunited for some serous fabric playtime. Then I looked around the house and realised I wouldn't settle to sewing until I'd done some cleaning, and laundry. With the laundry my role is to feed the washing machine and then hang it all on the line. Lucy, bless her does the ironing. This is really helpful as I've never mastered the art of ironing sitting down and standing these days is rather tiring. Lucy sets something to watch on her laptop and just ploughs through the shirts and dresses. We've removed all unnecessary ironing from the process but there always seems to be something lurking in the bottom of the ironing basket.

I also seriously needed to vacuum. We were only away for one night but Picasso seems to have slept on every chair leaving a dark haze of cat fur over them.  He usually loses his winter coat quite quickly but this year it has been quite drawn out, probably due to the temperature fluctuating from hot to cold and back again. He also only likes being groomed in short bursts and then he's gone.

John also wanted to plant up some pots to put outside our french windows. We had bought the plants before we went away but hadn't had a chance to plant them. They looked good when he had finished.

A mixture of Geraniums, petunias, begonias, fuchsias and lobelia.

So this morning when I got up I was adamant I was getting some sewing done today. First however we took Scamp for a walk over the common. Then at last it was time to sew. I didn't get much done, four blocks in all, but it all helps move the project forward

The blocks are for my Mariner's Compass quilt that I started in January. I need twenty star blocks in all and I now have 14. Just another 6 to make and then I can trim them and stitch them together.

Tomorrow I'll try and get another couple done but I might not as I'm planning on spending a little time with Karen, one of my friends. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have all 20 made.

This evening I continued to work on Ernestine. Not much left to do on her now. I need to do her hair and face and her little dog. I only have until Wednesday before I put her away to start on the June bag lady or maybe I'll just finish her up and then move on to the next one. 


Monday, 29 May 2017

A visit to Standen

In yesterday's post I told you about our walk on Saturday. On Sunday we were wide awake at 6 am so after a couple of cups of tea John decided to go for an early morning walk leaving me to do some stitching. Sitting by the open window with the morning sun streaming in, and listening to the bird song whilst stitching was most enjoyable. On his walk John had taken a photo of the village sign. When we got home we had to look up the village history as the sign made it look a bustling industrial area rather than the sleepy village it is today. Back in the 16th century there were 5 iron furnaces within 2 miles of the church, which was opposite the hotel.

The village is old with its church being founded in 1100 and the present nave and tower being built between 1375 and 1415. John took a picture of the rose window. The yellow and red on either side are the bunting that was hanging from the trees in front of the church in preparation for the village fair today, Bank Holiday Monday.

When John got back we went for breakfast. Mmmm the Eggs Benedict was delicious. Whilst enjoying breakfast we planned our day. Saturday was rather tiring for me as the walk had involved several steep ascents and descents. We had stopped regularly to rest, but for Sunday we wanted something less challenging but fun. We also wanted to visit the A A Milne memorial in the forest and John wanted to walk to the highest point of area. Neither of these involved much walking as the map indicated that there were car parks close to both. Breakfast over, our belongings packed in the car and a good dollop of sun screen generously applied to all skin that was showing we headed for the first stopping place.

The map was accurate and within a short distance of the first car park we reached the 360 degree viewing point. Over the years the gorse and small trees have grown up so I couldn't get the whole 360 view but I made use of the broken topograph to increase my height and so get a better view. I managed to climb up without difficulty but as I stood up I'd felt a little giddy but the view was worth it.

There was still a lot of fog around as the sun hadn't burnt it off so the view wasn't as clear as I had hoped but it was still good. After that we drove a little further to the next car park so we could walk a short distance to the memorial.

From the memorial there were views across the landscape.

From here we walked a little further to the triangulation or trig point. These are usually concrete pillars and were set up by the ordnance survey to be able to map the whole of the UK. If you want to find out how this was done click here

Trig points are not necessarily at the highest point as clear line of sight was important. As you can see the highest ground is behind the trig point and was a covered with trees. I'd watched some children playing hide and seek amongst the tree as we'd walked up so decided to hide from John. In the end I had to peep round the tree for him to find me.

After all the excited of hide and seek we headed out to our final destination of the day Standen House. Standen is now owned by the National Trust and you can find out more about it here  This is the view of Standen that we took later in the afternoon as we complete the Hollybush Wood walk. I didn't get a photo of the house from the terrace.

The house was built between 1892-94 for a prosperous London solicitor, James Beale. It was designed by Philip Webb, an English architect who is sometimes referred to as the father of Arts and Crafts Architecture. Webb was a friend of William Morris and the house is decorated throughout with Morris carpets, wallpapers and fabrics. I love William Morris designs so this was a real feast for my eyes. The main entrance to the house was through a courtyard.

Throughout the house there was embroidery with a lot of it having been completed by Margaret, James' wife and their three daughters. The house would have been a lively place as they also had 4 sons. Some of the cushions were made using kits put together by Morris and Co so that ladies could stitch their designs. I love the sewing table, perfect for threads and your latest project.

To the left of this room above there was a wall hanging that I couldn't get a good picture of. The colours were very faded and this area of the room was protected from the light. One of the volunteers at the house had stitched this small sampler of the hanging to show the original colours

I loved this blue bedspread but it must have taken ages to stitch.

In the same bedroom was this beautiful hand embroidered cushion. You can see the sensor in the bottom right corner to make sure that the fabric didn't get damaged by light.

In the dressing room next day this piece was behind glass. The colours have faded but the hand work was beautiful when viewed close up. 

This heavily embroidered bedspread was delightful.

and I liked the sentiment on this piece. 

This last piece was a set of seat covers for the dining chairs and the volunteer giving information in this room told me they were stitched by Margaret and her daughters.

As we reached the work end of the house i.e. the business room and the kitchen I spotted this writing desk and fell in love with it. There was a large desk in the room but the grain on the wood of this one was beautiful and I love the drawers and little cupboards. It would fit perfectly into my home.

After our tour of the house we needed lunch so visited the cafe for pea, mint and lettuce soup served with a wedge of homemade bread. It was very tasty and filling. After lunch we explored the gardens and also took a walk along Hollybush Wood walk. As we headed out to the wood we passed the Rhododendrons which were a riot of colour

The wood walk was about a mile long and under the trees it was lovely and cool. For most of the walk there was a boardwalk which made the going very easy. Standen is built at the top of a hill and the first part of the walk descended into the valley. The walk had been thought out well and the ascent back up to the house was very gentle. Along the way we encountered this lizard coming out of the undergrowth. It was a very clever and creative use of a fallen tree.

As we came out of the wood we entered a wild flower meadow to head back to the house. There was a lot of buzzing from all the bees.

Our day at Standen ended by visiting the gift shop. From about end of May onward I am always on the lookout for small gifts to put into my Christmas present box. I found two very nice recipe books that are perfect. Obviously I can't say what they are or who they will be gifted to as that would ruin the surprise for the end of the year.

For our trip away we hadn't travelled far, and Standen was on our way home so our return journey was just over the hour. We could have done the trips as two days out but staying overnight meant we relaxed completely on Saturday night and weren't tempted to do any work. I really enjoyed the trip and I'm already trying to plan when we can do it again and where we'd visit.

Today in the UK is a Bank Holiday and I'm looking forward to spending some of this afternoon sewing. I want to finish my tote bag and I have some blocks I want to make. I can't wait to get my machine out.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

A trip away with time to stitch.

This weekend John and I had planned to go away for some walking and a night away. At the time of planning it I knew that I would be able to manage the walks but since then my chemotherapy drug was changed and the new one has made me more tired and achy. Still we decided to continue with our plans but scale them back.

The trip itself was a journey down memory lane. Not because I'd visited the area before but because I'd read the Winnie the Pooh stories as a child and now I was going to visit the places where the stories were set. Have you read the stories? They are beautiful and I loved reading them to my 3 children when they were young. You have to read the books in their original format not the Disney version. Disney made changes to the illustrations, for example Pooh Bear has a red top on and also looks rather like Yogi bear but in the original Pooh only wears a top when it is snowing. Disney also added in additional characters that do not appear in the stories. Anyway we were visiting Ashdown Forest in East Sussex where the places in the stories can be found. The 100 Acre Wood was based on the real 500 Acre Wood. The map in the books only shows the places that are found in 100 Acre Wood but others such as Pooh Stick Bridge and the House at Pooh Corner are in the wider forest.

Saturday morning we drove to a small village called Hartfield and after buying ice lollies to cool us down we set off to walk to Pooh stick Bridge. We had our lunch and lots of factor 50 sun screen with us as we both burn easily. I hadn't studied the map to see how much up and down hill was involved as we'd decided to play it by ear and go with how I felt. It was great being outdoors and although I wasn't able to walk at my usual speed it felt good.

The walk took us over the village sports field and across a meadow. We came to a bridge over a stream. John was in the mood for taking photos

There were wild flowers along the way,

and a red admiral butterfly.

We were able to look back across the fields to the village.

At one point we had to turn onto a road. Immediately opposite the path was this magnificent Great Dane statue.

I half expected him to jump of the pillar and come walking with us. In a meadow covered in buttercups and clover we stopped to enjoy our lunch before continuing on to Pooh Bridge. The bridge itself isn't much to look at and there were no sticks to be found anywhere in the vicinity of the bridge so we couldn't play Pooh sticks but when we arrived it was crowded out with children plus the sticks they had collected along the way, busily playing.

We followed a circular route and in total we walked about 6 miles. Once back in Hartfield we visited Pooh Corner, a cafe dedicated to everything Pooh bear. We decided to have a Pooh cream tea which was served with 2 scones. When it arrived I wished I'd opted for the smaller Piglet cream tea.

The tea cup is a normal full sized cup so you can see how big the scones are. The amount of cream was amazing as well. It took a while to finish and we both felt rather full. We sat in the garden to enjoy our cream tea as we didn't want to miss a minute of the sun. We were very careful over the day to keep reapplying the sun screen. 

Later we drove to Maresfield where we were staying at the Chequers pub.

Our room was in the coach house. The room was comfortable with a good en suite and tea and coffee making facilities. We had dinner at the pub and the food was delicious.

Having walked during the day I was quite tired so we retired to our room fairly early and I did some stitching on Ernestine before going to bed. I've also worked on her today. I've done her blue stockings and her bag and also completed more of the outline of her coat. I wish I'd used a darker green as it doesn't show up very well but I'm not going to unpick it now.

I'm not sure why there is a smudge or the orange spot on the photo as they aren't on the actual piece. It's all very odd.

Today we decided to visit Standen house and gardens. I'll show you the photos tomorrow. The were several pieces of embroidery and quilting to look at as we went round the house.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for Slow stitching Sunday Why not visit and see what everyone has been stitching.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

A Finish at last

I haven't had many finishes this year but then I haven't had a lot of time or energy for sewing. This week I almost had two! Well I could have done if the week had gone as planned.  My finish for the week is Hildegard. She has been great fun to work on and we have become good friends over the month. 

As I've finished her a little early I'm going to work on one of the bag ladies from earlier in the year. The lady for January was Ernestine.

I did hardly any stitching on Ernestine but then January was the most peculiar month of my life. I'm only going to work on her until June 1st.

My almost finish is my new tote bag.

I've finished the quilting and stitched the side seams. I had the whole of Wednesday free and planned to sew all day but as usual my plans ended up changing. Lucy received an invitation to a wedding this weekend and hadn't completely organised her outfit so on Wednesday morning we went shopping. By the time we got home I was a little tired so needed a nap before we left to run Rainbows, Brownies and Guides.  No chance to finish the bag and I'd hoped to use it this weekend. Next week I'm taking a week's leave so there will be sewing time plus the chance to catch up on some long overdue jobs.

Here in London we are enjoying beautiful sunny weather with temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius. I hope it continues over the bank holiday weekend as we have a weekend away planned. 


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.