Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cider Apples

There are areas of both the south west and south east of England which are famous for their fruit growing prowess (not for Ali's lovely kiwi fruit and avocados) but for apples and most particularly apples for making the alcoholic drink of cider.

Herefordshire is the county we lived in when first married and DD1 was born, Gloucestershire where the other two came into the world, Somerset where we now live and it's neighbours Devon and Dorset all like to claim themselves as the Cider Making Capital of the UK.

We have some very dear friends, Pearl and Jon, who run a farm providing bed and breakfast and self catering holiday accommodation about half an hours drive the other side of Hereford, heading towards the Welsh border. We got to know them when we attended the same ante-natal classes with Sarah and their eldest Heidi. Subsequently they did us the great honour of standing as god-parents to our youngest Louise.

Over the past few years they have had a very tough time - they narrowly missed losing their herd of cattle during the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak. However as all traffic on and off farms in the area was severely restricted they watched their holiday business dwindle away to almost nothing. Then a short while later they lost half of their herd to an outbreak of Bovine TB. Pearl also had a nasty bout of viral meningitis followed by a long episode of Post-Viral syndrome making coping with a business and a young family very difficult indeed.

To top all this off Pearl's father lost a two year battle with bladder cancer last autumn leaving her mother who suffers from alzheimers in a very distressed and confused state. Pearl is their only child and lives over half an hour from them so with the responsibility of dealing with his illness which included regularly taking him over 100 miles away for treatment has taken its toll.

Louise had a letter from them last week apologising for not sending a christmas gift - as if we minded :o) - and the writing between the lines spoke volumes.

So I spotted an appliqued apple tree as part of a pattern the other day and adapted it to make into a wall hanging to cheer her up. Their main crop on the farm is cider apples so I thought it rather fitting.

I think I shall add some plaid/homespun borders to match round the edges and get it off in the post to her soon in a bid to bring a smile to her face for a little while at least.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Seeing stars

I returned to work yesterday - having been off with a grotty head cold and sinus pain all last week I thought I ought to put in an appearance. I should have had a nice easy re-entry as the local Clerk to Governors' cluster meeting was sheduled at the hospitality building of our local racecourse, so a morning out of the office rather than first day back straight into the melee.

As with all good plans - how often do they not turn out as expected.

When I arrived I found that the meeting had been rescheduled for two weeks hence?!?

Ok I thought - fair enough - the notification is probably sitting in my email inbox at work which I couldn't read as I was off sick - so I went into work instead at the normal time, much to the delighted surprise of my colleague

Never found the aforementioned email - no idea how the other clerks had found out the meeting was postponed - one of life's little mysteries!

Still I put my usual four hours in at the office instead and made a reasonable start on the backlog of bumph littering my desk. I can't say I feel 100% better from last week's cold but this is winter and I guess lots of people out there are not firing on all cylinders at present - still the world keeps turning. DH is currently in Dublin on business for three days (lucky dog!) so the taxi driving comes down to me and only me for now in amongst the rest of family life - thank goodness I feel better than last week - but we ladies are made of sterner stuff and we manage :o) After all as the old adage goes: Kids get colds, men get flu and women get on with it!

I didn't do much stitching yesterday - partly because I spent my spare hour and a half between taking the kids to school and starting work searching out a non-existent meeting - grrr what a waste of valuable stitching time!

Still the evening before I had made a start on the stars - Sarah (DD1) who's also at home poorly had insisted I work them in red and white to match the beachballs. Fine, I thought, give it a go......... but no, I'm afraid those white ones just don't sing at all ................ sooooooooooo dull! You often find that adding black to a painting really deadens everything and art teachers usually advise against the use of it unless essential - this white seems to do the same here for me.... yeeuchhh!

So I had a rummage around to see what else I could come up with and found one or two brights in the haul of recently selected fabric sitting neatly on the sewing room shelves. You'd be proud of me, I managed to extract them without pulling the rest of the fabric onto the floor behind them. DH is talking about maybe putting my long awaited work surface across the whole width of the room under the window this weekend so I daren't make a mess or I'll have it to shift before Saturday.

I stitched one bright green star to see how it looked - MUCH better than that miserable drab white which goes 'see-through' as you stitch it on - I just know the fabric wasn't that thin when I ironed the freezer paper on - gremlins at work again I think!

So this evening I can see some frog stitching on those white stars and I shall replace them with a variety of brights including the green - probably purple, turquoise, yellow etc too.

Better to have realised now than once I'd put all the white ones on :o)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Butterfly thoughts

You know something, that prospective Lubeck wallhanging has obviously not lodged itself far enough into my psyche to reach my fingers - it's hovering around there in the brain (? is there one?) and doesn't want to play on the cutting table and sewing machine yet.

I've also had a yearning to do a random applique quilt a bit like the ones Jeanne has done - there are loads of lovely ones on this site - but while I love some of the little bits featured on them again this is only a germ of an idea. Eventually it will be the Bebbington quilt and I aim to add things special and/or pertinent to each of us along with our hands drawn round and appliqued in our favourite colours - but this is all hovering in the ether too.

My mind is very much like a butterfly on the sewing front at present - flitting from one thing to another but not settling to very much of consequence - I obviously used this months allocation of concerted effort on the scrappy hearts and stars and the baby quilt.

Then when I was scanning through lots of blogs this morning I came across Nancy's 'Kaffe Gone Primitive' up in beautiful Montana - the scenery and wildlife pictures in her blog make me drool each time I drop by to see what she's up to.

I love this idea - a simple horizontal strippy, brought to life by some 'larger than life' applique.

So it set me thinking...................

And then it occurred to me I had just the thing lurking away in a drawer. A quick and easy quilt top I ran up in an afternoon for Katrina all those months ago. Then I'm ashamed to say it got stuffed in a drawer on an emergency tidying session - you know the sort of thing, the MIL's coming and always looks down her nose exclaiming 'You can tell children live here, can't you?' so everything on the floor gets stuffed into the nearest drawer not to surface for another half century! :o)

I went to get it out thinking in my hazy memory that it was all watery blues and it might be nice to applique bright fishes and seaweed all over it.

Yeah - great idea - but where do all those red and white beachballs I'd conveniently forgotten about fit into the equation?

Rapid rethink on the feet required............... bright red and white stars in the non-beachball areas might just give it the lift it requires.

On Saturday 17th March not only is it St. Patrick's day but it's also IQD - International Quilting Day and our county group which meets monthly to listen to a speaker has decided to have a quilting day in a local hall to make charity quilts

This is a first for us and was my initial suggestion - they do sometimes have to be forced to think outside their cosy little box - so I should give it my wholehearted support. We aim to put some quilts together from start to finish but also think it would be good to work on some already completed tops so some people can be cutting, others piecing, some sandwiching (not me please!!) and others quilting.

The charity to receive the products of our labour will be the local women's refuge for families fleeing domestic violence. It's a needy cause but not one that will bring the group publicity as by the nature of things the anonymity of the victims is paramount. However fame and fortune was never the aim of the project anyway. They have specifically asked us for bright and cheerful children's quilts for the kids who turn up often in the middle of the night with only the clothes they stand up in. They then get to keep 'their' quilt and take it with them once the family is rehomed.

So I guess the stars had better add a bit of zing to it as it looks a tad dull as it stands at present - maybe I should add other primary coloured stars too - what does anyone else think?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

You never realise quite how bad it's got..............

.......... until you tidy it all away again!

Sewing rooms get untidy overnight - they do honest! Mine does it all the time. Little gremlins creep in while you're asleep and throw fabric all over the floor!

So this weekend 'amazingly tolerant DH' finally lost the plot (mainly with the kids about the rest of the house you understand) and discretion being the better part of valour I thought it prudent to set to and tidy up my sewing area before I needed to don a tin hat and a flak jacket!

So much so I could lay down the newly finished baby quilt top on the playroom floor for its photocall instead of having to go into the lounge :o)

Now to say it's not the sort of colour combination I'd pick for this type of project I am pleased with it and looking forward to quilting it now.

The baby's not due until 15th March so I'm not in any great hurry and sandwiching, even of small pieces, is my least favourite job. It won't be quilted in the next day or two that's for sure.

So what onto next? I do have several tops I could also sandwich and quilt including my scrappy hearts and stars - same excuse so that probably won't happen in a hurry.

My Ostrich is done for the next two rounds so there's nothing pressing there either.

Several UFO's are also looking at me longingly but I don't fancy them either - one even made it out of the zipper bag it's in but went back double quick.

So of course what does any self-respecting quilter do in this situation?

Of course - look for something new to start.............

This photo (ignore the light spot in the centre - the gremlins are playing in the camera now I've tidied the sewing area) shows a little tablecloth measuring about 30" square which depicts the beautiful distinctive buildings of the north German city of Lubeck. You might remember that the school exchange partner of DH lives there with his wife and family. The cloth was a present to Nigel even before I met him and sadly sits in a cupboard as it doesn't have an immediate obvious home anywhere.

As I was tidying up all my fabric I came across the piece of cotton sheeting I'd dyed some months ago in a very similar blue (shown here sitting on top of it) so I think I might have a go at a wall hanging incorporating them both. At least that way we'd get the pleasure of it instead of it sitting in the linen cupboard.

It will probably be a long narrow strip quilt with rows of blocks between the rows of buildings you can see here in the close-up using just blue and white fabric - after all I said this week about two colour quilts!?!

So I shall go now and have a think about maybe playing with a bit of seminole or some mini blocks

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Out with the needles for a change

Well I've been busy with a needle or two over the past couple of days but not sewing needles this time.

Baby Matthew is progressing as hoped at this stage (details are sketchy as Nigel's family aren't good communicators and we don't really want to ring direct and bother them so are leaving it to his parents to be the main line of communication - chinese whispers and all that!) so I decided to put my mind and hands to something a little more practical.

Yesterday I had to go to the post office to send off Nancy's string blocks and it is also a little general purpose shop which just happens to sell a small range of wools including 4ply baby wool. So armed with a ball of white and one of lemon (they'd run out of blue!) I set to and made 3 hats of varying sizes in each colour. The smallest were so tiny that Lou asked me if they were baby mittens as I was wrapping them up - I stupidly forgot to take a picture first - duhh!

The smallest one had only 36 stitches and 24 rows of 2 x 2 rib so as you can imagine they didnt take that long to complete. The patterns were taken from the internet and said they were for babies of his size but it's hard to imagine without seeing him hence the small variety of sizes made. However I don't suppose he'll be wearing a full size panama for a while yet, bless him.

I very carefully picked a birth congratulations card while I was at the shop - deliberately avoiding the ones with 'bonny bouncing boy' etc - and popped the hats in the post with it this morning once we'd checked the situation. I struggled to know what to do for the best on this one as the situation is obviously quite precarious but on the other hand he has arrived, was much wanted and with God's love and the care of the NICU professionals will hopefully continue to thrive. Therefore it felt right to send a card and acknowledge his arrival while sending our support and good wishes for the best possible outcome for him. It will be a difficult time for the immediate family and they may be quite hurt if noone sends cards for fear of putting their feet in it.

I have the doubtful priviledge of having a mother in law who seldom gives her son or I any credit for even an iota of common sense and after Nigel had talked with his dad about the situation she made him call back in a flap to ensure we hadn't sent a tactless card (you know just the sort I'd so carefully avoided in the shop)

Never mind - she really should credit us with a bit more common sense than she does - mothers in law! who'd 'ave 'em?

Anyway once I returned from the post office I was still on a bit of a roll and with lots of yarn left I made a little white cardigan. Sarah was in town for work this afternoon so brought home a ball of blue and the little blue cardi with the yellow stripe was run up this evening. You can see from the tape measure just how tiny they are.

Sewing hasn't been totally neglected though - all six stars c/w sashings on my to-be nephew or niece's baby quilt are done and joined together - this only leaves the outer border to complete the top.

As you can imagine it's a bit of a baby preparation zone here today - something our house hasn't seen en masse for some time I can tell you.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Making progress, but still unsure about that colour

Well I've been off work again today, feeling pretty grotty so I've just pottered in between flopping on the sofa. Four of the six stars put together with their sashings. Like the pattern but still unsure about the colour scheme.

Mind you if you think this is an odd colour combination for a baby quilt take a look at this one ............

I did find it a touch ironic that while I feel this 'hessian' shade is not the sort of theme I'd pick for a baby quilt, it obviously is the colour I'd pick for my lounge - look how well those corner squares melt into my rug :o)

Only two more blocks with sashing and a 4 - 5" plain cream border needed to complete the top.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Natural Hessian it is then

Meggie commented on my last post suggesting that maybe my brother and sister in law were joking about the choice of colour for the nursery.

Sadly the answer is no - they're serious. This is the couple I made the celtic knotwork cushions for Christmas. The whole house is decorated in nondescript putty colours. The wedding quilt I made them with pastel coloured background and cream knotwork is hidden away in a cupboard as it doesn't match the colour scheme (Blogger won't let me post a link to this but you can look back at it if you so choose in last May's old postings under 'My biggest quilt')

So here is the start of their baby quilt.

I've used a similar 'star in a star' to the cushion I made for us just before Christmas

They come out at 12" square so I shall do 6 of them (3 x 2) and then put 2" cream sashings with 'hessian' cornerstones which should appear to float. Then I'll complete it with a wider cream border. The abundance of cream will hopefully dilute the strange hessian colour. Then I can play with some more freehand feathers or something in the large cream areas as I quilt it. Finally a 'hessian' binding should finish it off.

I'm not a fan of two colour quilts of any colour combination and I could only find one fabric in my stash that seemed to fit the 'natural hessian' bill - even then I had to use the back of the fabric

I hope they like it because I can't say I'm keen - but it is their choice.

On a slightly related topic Nigel's cousin's wife gave birth to their second son yesterday at around 24 weeks gestation. Matthew John Bebbington weighed in at a miniscule 1lb 7ozs and was immediately rushed from the local hospital in Lancaster to the neo-natal ICU in Manchester a good hour's drive away. He's fighting for his tiny little life and who knows what the outcome will be. Because Cath's waters broke a week or two ago she has been given lots of steroids to hopefully give his tiny little lungs a fighting chance. We're all just holding our breath and waiting now to see what happens. Part of me wants to get a congratulations card and send it up to them to celebrate and acknowledge his arrival, the other part is reluctant to do so just in case he doesn't survive those first crucial few hours/days and the receipt of a card would just add to their sorrow.

He is of course in God's hands and I pray that he will survive and develop into a healthy little chap like his big brother Andrew. Only time will tell.

Be mine!

My beloved son has inadvertedly passed his grotty cold bug onto me - hence I've not been into work for two days and some stitching has been gradually happening as and when the energy came to me in between dozing on the sofa and reading a little of my latest book.

This is my finished heart made with 4" string blocks - not too keen on the way there's a little nick out of each side where the solely background coloured blocks slot in - but can't be bothered to do anything about it.

I've just put and inch border round in a self patterned cream with tiny hearts on it. I thought I might like to add some words like 'Be my valentine' but because of the thickness of the string blocks I'm not sure that it would work to put anything else round the edges in only single thickness of fabric.

The other part of me thinks I might just add some batting and a backing and then turn those cream borders to the back to bind it.

I have to give credit to Elaine whose Chocolate gave me the inspiration to have a go at this.

So once I've had another doze on the sofa I'm not sure what I want to do next. My sister-in-law's new baby is due in about 8 weeks so I should do something to make a start on their cot quilt but when I asked them if they were still going ahead with the Winnie the Pooh theme they had planned for the nursery their negative answer coupled with a colour scheme of 'natural hessian' has stultified any creative inspiration I might have been subconsciously nurturing.

This one may prove to be a real poser - ideas on a postcard?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I've sussed it!

No not the meaning of the universe........... the reason we have children!

So they can sit on the cold playroom floor and ferret through the scrap drawer for bit and bobs of red, pink and cream fabric so I can play at making ...................

Half a heart!

Who knows I might just get to like this string-piecing lark :o)

(By the way you can tell from the background of the pictures I didn't get very far with this tidying up lark - never mind there's always tomorrow and DD1 has just read this over my shoulder so I guess she won't be sorting through that drawer again in a hurry!)

It's Finished!!!

No not the conservatory - that will hopefully be next week as far as the fitters are concerned - of course the rest of it is then down to us with lights, radiators, floor covering and furniture needed to complete the job.

My scrappy stars and hearts quilt top is done! Whoo-hoo!! I started it on 30th December 2006 so it's taken me about 17 days.

I'm really pleased with how it's turned out - I do wonder if the four flower applique borders might be a bit too similar in background colour. As I've added totally different corner hearts I think I've negated that a bit, but now, looking at the photo, part of me does wish I'd done each side a completely different colour - oh well you live and learn.

Now all I have to do is sandwich and quilt it. Bet that won't be done in the next 17 days :o)

I've kept calling it my scrappy hearts and stars quilt but I think it deserves a better title than that - mind you I can't for the life of me think of one so any suggestions would be gratefully received.

My dearly beloved husband has been awesomely tolerant while I've been stitching this particular quilt top. As I've used so many different fabrics I've been spreading them far and wide in the play room where my machine is set up. Some of you might recall a post last year (Sorry it was May last year but blogger will not let me add a link ;-P ) where I showed off my nice neat stitching area - as you can see from these photos it'll take more than a bit of sorting and folding of fabric to get it back to that condition. Each time the occasional comment has been heard about not even being able to see the carpet I've used the construction of this top as an excuse for not tidying up.Now I can no longer use that excuse - GULP! - suppose the next job had better be a tidying up session - boring!

Monday, January 15, 2007

What a load of fuss over a bit of white plastic!

Well the conservatory fitters arrived this morning with the panels of glass. And hurray! they fitted - as you can see from the photo the vertical white line of plastic joiner lines up on all three (and in fact all the rest ) of the pieces of roof!

I can hardly believe it - after all these false starts they've finally got it right.

Mind you the story doesn't end there as they didn't bring the skirting board - grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Never mind at least Nigel can finally complete the electrics (that's what the pretty copper protuberances from the wall are waiting for) and our plumber can put in the radiators.

Then it's just this blessed skirting and some flooring and we can put furniture in and use the place - probably two months after it should have been completed. Now that all the glass is in place we should pay the third large installment of over £5000 ($9500) but having had all this hassle I'm just going to wait until it's asked for - let's see if their credit control/accounts department is as efficient as their order processing :o) It will be interesting to see!

This afternoon I've had two little people at home with me as neither Louise or Nick were well enough to go to school. Nick was proper poorly, Lou I suspect was coming out in sympathy for her brother but still not brilliant so I've been at home stitching the other 'heartstrings' blocks to go to Nancy. After making five in total I'm still not sure I like making these at all - I love the effect of them done but is it sufficient to make me sit there and stitch a load. I did have the germ of an idea for a Valentines Day wallhanging using them but I'm not sure if I can be bothered. I think I would have to get myself prepared with all the fabric conveniently cut in advance - we'll see.

Then the next job is those borders onto my scrappy hearts and stars quilt.

Oops! the forgotten chick!

Apologies to Pat - I forgot to add her photo - this is lovely as the daisies going round the circle are 3D and quite complex - hence why she hasn't got started on Part 3 yet.

Ostrich chicks

You may remember back in October the pictures of my version of the Ostrich I'm setting for our Monday morning quilting group.

Although I'm steaming ahead (well I do have all the instructions) the ladies at the group pestered me last week for Part 4 - the bias applique round.

My response was 'you must at least bring in your work to see how you're getting on'. They're a funny lot - they wanted this Ostrich but only one of them has actually worked on it at the group. Maybe it takes a little too much concentration and they'd rather do something you don't have to think about too much while they're chatting. Never matter they brought in their works in progress this morning and I thought I'd snap them for your perusal.

Some are going for a medallion arrangement, others are making blocks for each part and will assemble them at the end.

It's funny how three of them have all quite independently gone for a blue colourway. Some haven't quite got to Part 3 which was squares or nine patch. Part 1 was a star or something of your own choice and Part 2 was circles or any section thereof.

Suffice to say all of them are being made to think along different lines to how they'd usually work which is never a bad thing.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

All four done - yippee!

Well thank goodness for that - all four of the borders completed at around 9.45 this evening. Nothing like as fast as I was stitching at the beginning but still got there in the end. Now I have to add them to the scrappy centre along with the light coloured corner stones. Finally a heart at each corner to complete the top. The four borders are a little uneven with varying numbers of flowers and arrangements of leaves but I like it like that and think it adds to that random scrappy charm. I will bow in the quest for balance and put the two with the most flowers on opposite sides and the two with the least on the other two opposing edges.

Probably very wisely I've decided against machining them onto the quilt centre tonight as I'm too tired not to mess it up.

The children and Nigel are still under the weather - we've had a bit of a run of it lately. Nick was sick yesterday morning and hot but shivery all yesterday and today which meant he didn't play in his football match yesterday morning. Nigel keeps thinking he's shaken off the horrid cold and chesty cough he had and just as he thinks he's rid of it it rears it's ugly head again which is cheesing him off somewhat.

Sarah seemed to have improved yesterday and came home from her job at teatime announcing that she felt better than she had for weeks. We all decided on that good old English tradition - a fish and chip supper following which she had to phone us to collect her from her boyfriend's house earlier than expected as she felt awful with stomach cramps and shivering.

One of the other mums at rugby is a nurse and told me that often, after a nasty gastro-enteritis bout, the body can become temporarily lacto-intolerant and struggle with fats too. She thinks this might be Sarah's problem and advised us to try some yoghourt with 'friendly' bacteria to reset the balance in her gut. It probably wouldn't do any of us harm to follow the same route. I think the fact that the weather has been so mild so far this winter isn't helping any by killing off all the nasty bugs and viruses doing the rounds.

I honestly thought Sarah wouldn't be fit to play in her match today but she was a lot brighter this morning and we headed for Clevedon to play a team we narrowly beat at home at the beginning of the season. Today we won 22-5, a more resounding victory and Sarah put 7 of those points on the board with one try and a conversion (in the picture)

This was the first match her boyfriend Dan had seen her play in and he won't ever be tempted to mess her about (not that he's that type you understand) - I don't think he could believe how scary she is once fired up :o) Mind you I don't think it's put him off thankfully!

It's my day off tomorrow and the conservatory fitters are due back to (please, please, please) finish the job once and for all!!! Nigel will be at home for part of the morning to get them started so I can sneak off to my quilting group and to do the school banking while I'm in town. If Nick is still the same I may have a poorly little chappie at home for the day too.

It never rains but it pours!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Still stitching and some super news

Fifteen years ago today I committed to spending the rest of my life with the love of my life.

He took a bit of finding - third time lucky for me, divorced once and widowed once, all before I was 30. But as an old friend of mine always says........"To find your prince you have to kiss a lot of frogs" :o) Luckily for me this one turned into my prince.

Sadly I don't have a picture of that day for you as our wedding photos were pretty poor and so far even the couple of nice ones haven't made it into the scanner to be recorded for posterity - some day maybe when I can remember which box they're packed in and how to use the scanner :o(

As anniversaries go today is fairly low key as he went to London yesterday for two nights for work but we're not the kind of couple who shout it all round the most expensive restaurant anyway - this doesn't mean we love each other any less and it suits us both, so that's what matters.

Tomorrow night we are due out for a posh meal at his works 'post-christmas do' and we'll celebrate there in and amongst everything else.

The stitching continues - not quite as speedily as earlier in the week but I'm making gradual progress - so nothing else to show on that front really.

THE best news today - Sarah (seen here in very scary 'give me that ball' mode - the other girl certainly looks terrified) is one of only five Somerset girls invited to trial for the South West North u17's regional squad. She will undoubtedly be the youngest there and is pleasantly surprised to be invited. The past two years she has been included in the u14's regional squad, winning the national championships the first of those times, but she has only just moved up to this age group and had low expectations because of that.

The trials are on the 28th of this month and there's no guarantee of a place for her in the squad of 30 but she will go along and give it her all, as she does with everything in her life, most especially her sport ................ one of the nicest anniversary presents we could have had today really!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More of the same and a birthday gift

A bit more progress on the applique borders made yesterday - I now have all four bias strips stitched down and am valiantly working through the flowers and leaves. I've deliberately made all four strips from different fabrics to continue the scrappy theme - so I shall keep plodding on each evening in between feeding the brood and acting as taxi driver. Someone asked me the other day if the applique was needleturn - it is, but with freezer paper on top to guide the shape - this is the original method I was taught and it works well for me.

Someone else asked about the conservatory - we're at a bit of a hiatus - waiting yet again for another set of 'correct' roof panels for the outside edges of the roof - they were going to order them immediately after the New Year and Christmas break and we're now waiting a call to arrange to come and fit them. If they follow form we'll probably get a call one afternoon to announce they're coming the next morning - if so they're in for a shock as Nigel is away tomorrow until Friday for a stocktake at an outside warehouse near London and then w/c 22nd he's in Ireland for three days...........Scrub that! - as I was just typing the last word, who turns up but the conservatory fitter with the replacement glass - I'm due to go to work in half an hour, DH can't get back here from work today, so we've sent them away and told them to arrange to come back on one of two alternative days next week that are convenient for us - we'd had no phone call, no letter, no message, nothing! Communication!!! Unsurprisingly the fitter wasn't at all surprised that no-one had pre-warned us of their intended visit. I'd really love to get the thing finished and in use but they have to get their act together and at least notify us when they're coming. Muppets the lot of them!!!!!!!!

Most of you by now will have seen at least one blog with these heartstring blocks under construction - I just can't commit to another group but Nancy asked people to make a block and send it to her for her birthday to add to the total - this is mine - who knows before I get round to packing it up and posting it off to her it might even be joined by a sister or brother or two. Can't say I'm that fussed on making these - certainly wouldn't bother to do a whole quilt myself but as is always the tradition in quilting circles many hands make light work and hopefully lots of different people will make at least one or two to send to her to add to the pile. It did surprise me going through my scrap drawer just how much red/pink and blue I have in there and little other colours.

Right I might just be able to stitch another flower or two before I have to head into work once I've finished steaming from the ears about the conservatory company - grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Half way there

Well what a productive day!

After stitching quite a bit last night I managed to get loads and loads done on the coach - it made a very pleasant change not to have to drive - especially as the journey took the best part of two hours each way. I finally finished the last bits on the second border piece this evening

The rugby this afternoon was awesome! Both the under 14s and Sarah's team, the under 17s, played today.

Both their opposition teams from Cirencester were young inexperienced teams but they put up a credible fight. However as is often the case there's no match for experience and Taunton were hugely victorious in both games.

The under 14s won 75 - 15 and the under 17s won 73 - 7 with 11 tries and 9 conversions. Sarah put a whopping 33 points on the board with three tries at 5 points each and NINE conversions at 2 points each.

They all played well with some superb handling and passing but Sarah surpassed herself and was delighted to be back on kicking form.

This photo shows her passing out the ball from the scrum to the winger (No 14) who also scored four tries in total

And this one shows one of Sarah's conversions.

Finally here's Jack - the son of the team coach - their unofficial mascot - complete with the Taunton colours quilt I made him when he was born in October - wonderful to see it getting plenty of use. He was so impressed he slept through most of the match and both coach journeys. Just the sort of baby you need :o)

And most wonderfully when we got back home after 6pm we came in to find that my lovely lovely husband had roasted a chicken complete with roasted root veg, jacket potatoes, sage and onion stuffing and garden peas - what more could any woman want - I've truly found a treasure :o)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

One done, three to go!

Well I stitched away like a little demon for every spare moment I had yesterday finally putting the last stitch into my first applique border about 15 minutes past midnight. Here we are - the first of the four borders completed and ready to stitch onto the centre. Sorry the photos are a bit smeary - not sure why - probably due to the tiredness of the photographer and the lateness of the hour!

Today will not necessarily give me as much opportunity to stitch as it is twelfth night - the day by which traditionally all Christmas decorations should be taken down here in the UK. Usually I take ours down as soon as possible after New Year, but this year I was somewhat distracted by the construction of a scrappy quilt so I left it. However now I can't leave it any longer so down will come everything today.

This morning Nick should have had a football match against the main competition in his league but the pitches are all completely waterlogged so it's been postponed. We've had a lot of rain over the past month or so and everywhere is very soggy and it's raining very heavily again this morning. The weather men tell us we're due quite a lot more this coming week with dangerous gale force winds around Wednesday so it seems like a good time to batten down the hatches and stay indoors and stitch - what a good thing the house is full of fabric :o)

No such luck tomorrow - Sarah has a rugby match in Cirencester, not that far from Siobhan these days, and the club have provided coach travel as it is a good 170-180 mile round trip. They estimate 2.5 hours each way - I don't think it should take that long as a lot of the journey is motorway but I shall take some hand applique to do on the coach - well never one to waste time just sitting! Mental note: must get that all prepared today so I can just stitch and stitch away as we travel. Hopefully the weather won't be too vile as the club we're visiting is pretty exposed on the top of a hill and we could get rather damp on the sidelines and not have the benefit of a hot shower afterwards like the players.

Right off I go - I do have a tree to take down you know :o)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Let the applique begin!

Well I've made a start on my outer dark borders.

Yesterday morning before work I cut out the four long strips and made lots of bias tubing in a pale green fabric - I did think about doing the tubing in all random greens but decided that it would look just too contrived so plumped for the same fabric for the bias and then I'll do the rest of the applique scrappy.

Last night life just kept getting in the way of the stitching!

DD1 has started her first paid job working at the local swimming pool as a Swim Assistant helping in the water with all the little learners. She did 5 til 6.30 yesterday so needed the services of 'Mum's Taxis'. Also before she headed off for work I had to help her fill in all her accompanying forms.

Then once she'd returned from work and we'd had tea, DH and I headed off to the supermarket - why do my children perpetually insist on emptying the food cupboards? What do they think it's there for - to eat!!!

Of course Nigel and I always go on the most romantic outings - an evening run to the supermarket - we might not have much money but we do see life :o)

So as a result of all this I didn't actually start to stitch until around 9pm and managed one long vine, a flower and two leaves which echo the heart shape again.

Hopefully tonight I'll get a good deal more done!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wooohooo - onto the borders!

Just a quickie before bedtime........

Here it is - the centre completed and the first border round!

I decided this morning, instead of stitching the sashings to the first row of three as planned, that I would cut out all the sashings and cornerstones I needed. I really don't particularly like cutting out especially lots of fiddly individual bits so I had to steel myself to do this and got them all done just in time to go to work - funny that eh?

However it paid off as I've merrily stitched away during the late afternoon and evening in between feeding the brood etc and here we are.

Now it needs the wider 4" dark borders - I've selected the four very different red/brown fabrics but not cut them out yet and the major progress stumbling block will be persuading DH to get my light/bright green box from the loft as I want to stitch pale green bias tube stems along them before adding them to the quilt centre - maybe I can con DD1 into a foray into the loft in the morning for me - we'll see.

I then plan to stitch pale leaves and flowers along the length of each vine so I shan't complete the next stage quite so quickly :o)

Each final corner will then have a light 4" square with a random dark heart to match those in the centre and we'll be done ready to sandwich - the really fun bit :o(

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back to work tomorrow!

The two youngest and I return to school tomorrow - this marks the start of the hardest term of the year - winter but without the excitement of Christmas. For me it will also be another very steep learning curve as the new budgets for the next financial year will be put in place for April and with my Area Finance Officer's help this will be a totally new experience for me - I've never done anything quite like this before. However once they are set at least the next financial year will be less of a fog for me as I will know which pot things are to be paid from and when - no more muddling through treacle at least.

Sarah has another two days off for teacher training so returns on Friday - a very odd day to start back but she has quite a bit of coursework to get through first - that will keep her busy.

I've been in 'This is my last full day of stitching for a while' mode today and have stitched all of the other 18 blocks for my hearts and stars scrappy quilt. Here they are all laid out on the carpet with the completed half.

Next bit is all the sashing which is my least favourite especially as none of them are cut out yet but I'm going to set myself the task of sashing and joining at least one downward row of three blocks a day before I go to work - at least that way I will get them done over the next week or so and if I decide to do a little bit more each time then I'll get it done all the quicker in readiness for the borders.

I've decided to quilt it by close stippling the light areas leaving the dark star points, hearts and dark sashings standing proud. This will be great until I come to the borders as I can't really leave the 4" dark outer border unquilted, it will make the whole quilt totally unbalanced.

So I think I'll do free hand feathers along the 2" inner borders and close stipple round them and maybe applique scrappy floral vines along the dark outer borders and close stipple around them leaving them standing up and puffy

Mind you I do still have all that sashing to do first - running before I've even really got off the starting blocks here.

Right off to get some shut eye before work tomorrow.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Lots more stars and hearts progress

What a party - the knees, hips and back bear witness to the exuberant dancing and my age! DD1 danced the night away lots more than me and even managed to get her boyfriend up to dance with her - I'm not sure he knew what had hit him, as he's never seen her in a party situation before and boy can she ever dance but he was round again this evening so it's not put him off!

Sarah woke us this morning just before 11am (well we didn't get to bed until almost 2am) with a cup of tea and once breakfasted we decided to pop into town to feed DH's habit. Apart from loving vintage preserved railways he's a real glutton for old buses, lorries and cars. The cattle market in town was to be the starting point for a vintage vehicle rally - apparently it starts from here each New Year's Day but we knew nothing about it last year. So we took him to feed his own particular addiction :o)

Here are a handful of the beautiful vehicles on show so he's had his fix for a wee while. Believe me there were other colours than green!

The rest of the day was a general veg for all of us in the house watching the tv and stitching for me.

From this photo you can see I've been speeding along at a fair lick! This is now the top half of the quilt centre - woohooo! I've surprised myself at how much I'm enjoying this. Once I've completed the centre I shall put on a 2" border in random lights with dark cornerstones followed by a 4" outer border in random darks with light cornerstones complete with a heart in each corner and a light binding. I'm a great lover of square quilts the way the amish made them so they could be turned round and get equal wear on each side.

Finally we got round to our Christmas pudding after our dinner tonight - in true Christmas fashion Nigel drowned it in brandy and set light to it - I've never managed to capture this on film before - the kids love him to do this even though only he and I actually like the pudding. The two younger ones will down copious bowls of the accompanying white sauce and Sarah usually bows out with ice cream instead.

All the more for those who like it!!!