Friday, March 30, 2007

TGI Friday!!!

I can honestly say I've never been more glad to see a Friday come round than I am this week.
During March I have put in about 35 hours overtime when I would normally only work 64 hours in total so you can imagine I've been pretty busy and the work has, in the main, been a steep learning curve so needed me to expend lots of brain power - not that easy when there's little there in the first place :o)))).
Little surprise then that I've not felt much like concentrating on stitching too.
However I have managed to drum up a little enthusiasm for the next row of my Ostrich.
I was vaguely aware that by now all my ladies were almost caught up with me and so I ought to make some progress with Round 6 which I've titled 'Opposites'
I had started off playing with flying geese in two fabrics using the two shades as geese or background but I really wasn't impressed with how the block had turned out - it didn't shout 'OPPOSITE!' enough to me.
So I had a rethink and plumped for hearts in positive and negative opposing each other.
Here are the first two blocks - I will probably only use one of them and do others in other fabric combinations as there are seven in the row so somewhere in the middle I would have an odd one out.
Then here are the next two initial blocks ready for cutting down the centre and rejoining.
It feels great to pick up some fabric again although I have to say I think it will take a little while to get back into full swing again and recover some energy and enthusiasm. Good job I have two weeks off work :o)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Total Exhaustion!

This is just how I feel right now - I won't even begin to go into detail about last week at work and this week will be no better until the end of Thursday.

I'm taking Friday off this week instead of my usual Monday - just too much to do before deadlines and of course it means I miss my usual Monday quilting fix with the ladies. :o(((

Never mind once Friday comes around we break up for the two week Easter break - Hurrah!!!

To illustrate how little stitching I've done over the past week I had to go hunting for my glasses in my 'Monday quilting bag' last night just to stitch a swimming badge on DD2's swimming towel. I haven't picked up my specs since last Monday - speaks for itself.

Have a good week all of you and I hope to return to Stitching Land on Friday

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mothering Sunday and a breath of summer

Over in the US and on mainland Europe (well certainly France) mothers are honoured with their own special day sometime during May.

However here in the UK we mark the second Sunday in Lent (yesterday) as Mothering Sunday. Originally apparently this was the Sunday that everyone went back to their Mother Church, but over the years it has come to denote Mother's Day as well.

I was woken yesterday morning with a cup of tea in bed and some lovely gifts and cards from the kids.

The rest of the family had asked me earlier in the week what I'd like to do. My only request was a roast dinner cooked without me having to enter the kitchen - the weather for the day was destined to be very cold and windy so a walk on the Quantocks up behind our house didn't have quite the same appeal as if it had been mild and sunny like earlier in the week.

So I was happy enough to spend the day in the comfy chair in the conservatory stitching and reading while the rest of the family looked after the kitchen. A phone call to my own mum was slotted in later in the afternoon too.

Finally a roast pork dinner in the evening completed the day - lovely!

Today I've been busy stitching my four summer blocks for my 'four seasons' block swap and will post them off in the next day or two. I've picked the 'paths and stiles' block from Quilters Cache and used a lovely 'sweet pea' fabric for the centre - just right for summer.

Tomorrow and Wednesday will see me putting in two very full days at work grafting away with my finance officer working out the school's budget for the next twelve months. If I have any brain left after that it will be a miracle - wish me luck and some extra grey matter!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

International Quilting Day - Taunton style

Well here we have the net result of all those plaits from yesterday - Wild Hair or what?!?!?
She loves it though - mad child :o)
As no doubt the vast majority of you are aware today is International Quilting Day. This isn't something that has hit the same celebratory dizzy heights here in the UK as over there in America. However when, about nine months ago, I suggested to our Monday evening speaker group that we maybe should consider an event to mark the day it was met with pockets of enthusiasm.
The net result of the suggestion and a huge amount of effort and organisation by Lin (another member of the group) was a lovely day for about 20 of us.
A local hall was hired, copious quantities of fabric and wadding amassed from people's generous donations and about two dozen children's lap size quilts was the outcome.
Lots of us didn't even know each other well enough to say hello to at the group so today was a wonderful way to get to know each other a little better.
The recipients of the quilts will be the children who, through no fault of their own, end up arriving at the local Women's Refuge, often in the middle of the night with only the clothes they stand up in, generally as a direct result of horrific domestic violence.
As the co-ordinator from the refuge said these little quilts will mark the start of their new life giving them something soft and cuddly with no previous history or memories. A real loving hug!
Here's mine - I've spent the evening hand stitching the binding in front of the tv - Today's simple piecing and quilting has made a welcome change from Spencer's Stars which is now about two thirds quilted.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Red Nose Day!

Some years ago here in the UK a group of comedians got together to raise money for needy causes both here at home in Britain and in Africa. This event was christened 'Comic Relief' and the public were encouraged to wear red noses and do funny things to raise lots of cash.

Over the years this has been thoroughly adopted into the British calendar as 'Red Nose Day' and usually falls on the Friday nearest St. Patrick's Day in March. The BBC host a huge tv marathon all evening and encourage people to ring in and donate.

Lots of schools hold non-uniform days and the kids pay a 'fine' to dress up or wear their own clothes or silly hair do's or all three.

Here are my two youngest who have to wear something too big for them and have silly hair! Their elder sister just had to wear her own clothes so did not look quite as ridiculous.

Thank goodness it's only once a year - it took me the best part of an hour this morning to put all those plaits in her hair!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spencer's Stars - let the quilting begin...........

The 'hessian quilt' has been renamed - 'Spencer's Stars'
And I thought that as it had a proper 'Sunday title' I really ought to get on with the quilting
Here is the result so far.
For both the four leaved clover design and the circle for the basis of the feather ring I used freezer paper gently ironed on and stitched round for the guideline - I have a psychological aversion (probably partly based on bone idleness) to marking quilt tops - I'm always frightened the marking medium won't come out and this method with the freezer paper seemed an ideal solution. I'm sure I'm only reinventing the wheel here and loads of people will have used it before me but on this application it's working well.
I did do the feather loops round the circle freehand.
I was reading the comments left on my last posting about books and it suddenly occurred to me where I'd seen the picture of the books in real life. It's the barrel roofed library in Trinity College, Dublin - this is also place where they hold 'The Book of Kells' an ancient illuminated manuscript. If you ever get the chance to visit you must do so as both the library and the book are very impressive - lots of quilting inspiration there girls! In fact Dublin is a fabulous city to go for a city break.
Right back to a little more stitching before I head off to work.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Are you a book slut?

I'll own up to it - I most definitely am - any time, any place, anywhere.
As a kid I would read the back of the cereal packet at the breakfast table - even now if I'm in the middle of a particularly engrossing tome I have to stop myself from bringing it to the table when eating dinner with the rest of the family.
I came across this meme on Clare's blog
An eclectic list of 100 books - I've only read a quarter of them - as I constantly have a book on the go what have I been reading all these years?
You'll notice I haven't marked any of them in italics - probably because there's absolutely nothing there that actually catches my eye. I also have the uncanny knack of almost immediately forgetting most of what I've read so that I can re-read a book only a few weeks later and most of it seems new to me. Maybe that's why I haven't read many on the list - I've been too busy rediscovering the ones I have read already :o)
Have a go at this - and if you spot any you think I really should have read tell me which one(s) and why........
Look at the list of books below:
Bold the ones you’ve read
Italicize the ones you want to read
Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
If you are reading this, tag, you’re it!

The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) - one of my all time favourites
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien) - tried and tried but gave up in the end
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) - a far finer book than The Da Vinci code
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
The Stand (Stephen King)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
The Hobbit (Tolkien)
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger).
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold).
Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte).
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis) and the other 6 books in the series – just reread them all yet again
East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
Dune (Frank Herbert)
The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
1984 (Orwell)
The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) loved this - so different from his usual books
The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
The Bible – only bits and bobs
Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
Great Expectations (Dickens)
The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
War and Peace (Tolstoy).
Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
Les Miserables (Hugo)
The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
Shogun (James Clavell)
The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) tried and tried to get into this but just couldn’t
The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
The World According to Garp (John Irving)
The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck)
Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
Emma (Jane Austen).
Watership Down (Richard Adams)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
Blindness (Jose Saramago)
Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
Lord of the Flies (Golding)
The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
Ulysses (James Joyce)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The real reason for the conservatory!

I will have to be very careful that my DH doesn't find out the ulterior motive for our conservatory.
He thought we had it built to add another sitting room to our house.
I know deep down inside that the 3.5m x 6m floor area was really designed for sandwiching quilts tee hee!!!
You can see from the photo that we have the flooring in place. We've gone for carpet tiles in a mid teal green - my favourite colour and one that follows on from the duck egg blue and deep teal on the walls in the adjoining dining room. The carpet tiles will be practical as we can move them round if they fade and have spares if any meet any particular trauma. Kids/gardens etc - need I say more.
The room is not quite finished as Nigel hasn't fitted the skirting board yet (hence the mitre saw in the background behind the ironing board - from pressing the quilt top and backing - honest!)
We've purchased two chairs like the one in the picture - they are so comfortable, easy to move and not as bulky as normal armchairs. They will be joined by a terracotta bed-settee along that back wall and this along with moving the portable tv in there will complete the picture.
Not the easiest of processes to get it to this stage (what building work ever is?) but now we're almost there it's already worth it's weight in gold - especially for the sandwiching!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Welcome Spencer to God's wonderful world

We've been on tenter hooks since Wednesday in our house.

The birth of the baby to receive the 'natural hessian' quilt (above and still to be sandwiched and quilted) has been on the cards since mum-to-be was taken in with a serious risk of pre-eclampsia.

To cut a long story short after failed attempts to induce it was decided to perform a caesarean section this afternoon for the good of both mum and babe - not necessairily the desired mode of birth but there's alot to be said for a healthy outcome for both parties

My new baby nephew Spencer Ross arrived into this wonderful world at 3.55pm this afternoon weighing in at 7lb 2oz

Here's the closest I shall get to seeing him for a little while as they live at the other end of the country. Apologies for the standard of photo courtesy of my baby brother's mobile phone

So, despite feeling a bit sorry for myself as I've got no chance of getting up there to see him for a few weeks, I'd better get that quilt finished.

On the stitching front I've done another block of my soft and faded applique - inspiration courtesy of Jane's turkey stars

I've also now got all four of the Spring blocks for our four seasons swap so I'd better get a wiggle on and stitch my summer blocks to post out.

Off to stitch then :o)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

On Top of the World

I woke this morning to that telltale sound of heavy rain and howling winds. Good to tell it's rugby this afternoon.
Sarah's team has finished third in their local league. When I say local I mean covering the two counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire. Girls rugby teams are fairly sparse so we think nothing of travelling up to 80 miles each way for a 'local' league game. This afternoon we don't have to go quite that far just half an hour's drive to the home of Yeovil's rugby team Ivel Barbarians. This will be the play offs taking the four top teams to work out the league winners etc.
The other three teams are very strong, one of them only being lower than us in the league because they've played less games than us so it will be a tough afternoon - and obviously very wet and muddy if this morning's weather holds.
Yesterday, however, was a whole different story. Beautiful blue skies and mild spring temperatures. Sarah was working in the afternoon so we took the two youngest out to Ham Hill Country Park, also near Yeovil.
It's a huge iron age hill fort which gives the kids every opportunity to run around like complete lunatics and wear themselves out.
Here are the two youngest giving a mole a headache. The weather was mild but don't take my son's shorts as an indication of that because he wears them all year round regardless of the weather.
And here's my baby in pensive mood considering a descent.
The views from the top are awesome.
On the edge of the escarpment is monument, a war memorial I think, providing the opportunity to rest some weary legs while enjoying the views. Here you can see loony kids on the top step, and a less than amused Daddy on the bottom one!
The whole park is full of hills and dips, ancient fortifications I believe, but great for haring up and down letting off steam. Yesterday Daddy drew a line at them slithering down on their bottoms getting muddy - We'll save that for another time when he's not there to apply the brakes :o)
Obviously precious little stitching got done but lots of fresh air and even a bit of exercise.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Oh my - over a week's gone by

Well back to school this week :o(
This particular five week half term is the shortest in the school calendar this year but for me it will be the most hectic. Preparing the budget for next year (the first time I've done this) and prior to that ensuring everything is smack bang up to date before the Area Finance Officer comes in for the aforementioned budget will keep me on my toes, ready for bed and probably on my way to the local asylum for the next four weeks. However today was the very first day, since I started the job last September, that I actually achieved all the tasks I'd identified on my mental to-do list and then did one little one more - so I must be making progress. AT LAST!!!!!
Lois asked to see all my applique blocks so far in a picture together - so here you go.
The background on the long thin block next to the star looks whiter than its neighbours but only because it has three layers of fabric folded over as I haven't cut it to size yet.
As you can imagine I have a long way to go and I think I shall use the title 'Soft and Faded' as a work in progress name for now. I aim to make lots of sashing and block border edgings in geese, HSTs, pinwheels etc so it has a real random feel about it.
For my next block I spied a lovely ''trumpet stars' applique design on Jane's blog - I think I'll pinch it for the next bit of the quilt - oddly enough the colours are similar but that's merely a coincidence.
I have been busy on another little project over this past few days. Quite a few of you have been stitching lovely 'bluework' snowmen calendar blocks - sorry too tired tonight to look through old postings and put a link on here now. I thought I'd like to have a go at this technique but scoured the internet for something a little different and came up with some sewing notions instead.
I also liked the teapots on this European blog and particularly liked the postage stamp sashings - I have loads of blue fabric so may well make a wall hanging for my stitching area in this kind of design. The linen she's used for the redwork designs is gorgeous. I know I have some old linen tableware I rescued from my MIL when she cleared out her own mother's things and was going to ditch in the bin but I have to locate them (suspect they're in an awkward access box at the back of the cupboard under the eaves in our bedroom - a Nigel job then that one). Maybe I'll persuade him to locate them for me this weekend.
I really enjoyed squirrelling away on this bluework embroidery so I may well do some more as it's easy to pick up and put down again in front of the tv in the evenings
We are getting very close to completion on the conservatory - at long last - we have had a heated discussion over paying the last 4% of the purchase price which we feel is a fair discount to cover all the grief and aggravation because of their delays. However they have set a debt collection agency onto us and won't budge an inch on the money front. Until we pay the lot they won't send us the 10year guarantee either so our hands are tied. Both Nigel and I have a whiter than white credit rating and it's too precious to jeopardise for a principle. As much as it sticks in our throat to make that final payment we will do it and learn from the experience. We don't have any plans (or room for that matter) for further building work but should we enter into anything like it in the future a penalty clause for delayed completion would be a definite possibility.
Nigel will put down the carpet tiles we've bought this weekend which only leaves the skirting board to complete the job. We've picked a lovely mid aqua/teal colour for the floor that echoes the colour scheme in the adjoining dining room. My brother has been storing a terracotta bed-settee for us which we bought to use at my parent's old house and reclaimed when theymoved house, so that will make a lovely contrast to the floor. I'll take some photos once he's finished playing carpet fitter. It really is starting to feel like a proper room now.
Right I'm off to bed - or should I say back to bed as I fell asleep for two and a half hours earlier this evening due to sheer exhaustion from work. Have a good weekend one and all :o)