Thursday, January 31, 2008

Heading off topic!

Talking about Louise in my last post I thought I'd make you smile and just share this with you

This collection of part filled drinks bottles were retrieved from her bedroom the other night.

She has a high level bed with a sofa arrangement underneath which can be pulled out to make a double bed to accomodate occasional visitors.

On the wall above her head are two short shelves which she tends to keep the odd special soft toy (or seven!) and any books she might wish to dip into before she settles down to sleep

She is, by nature, the untidiest little monkey imaginable and so these shelves are somewhat higgledy piggledy to err on the cautious side.

I find it totally impossible to physically clamber up onto her bed, my rock climbing days are long gone, so Sarah always does the mountaineering for sheet changing etc. As a result this whole area is a bit of a 'no-go area'

When Nige and I looked in on her the other night on our way to bed we spotted several drinks containers up there from previous evenings when she'd taken a drink to bed with her in case she was thirsty.

The next morning I stood over her (well under her actually if you look at the geographical layout literally) while she passed down not one, not two, but EIGHT part filled drinks bottles.

To make matters worse most of them had diluted squash/cordial in - totally verboten!

'How many times do I have to remind you to look after those teeth - you won't get another set!!!!' She knows she should only have plain water after she's cleaned her teeth before bed!

Mind you I really shouldn't be at all surprised - her bedroom should actually carry a government health and safety warning both from a clutter point of view and for what the unsuspecting victim might just catch by venturing in past the doorway!

The major miracle in all this was how all of these precariously balanced bottles had managed not to fall off onto her head and render her unconscious.

My goodness - if she's like this at almost 11 whatever will she be like when she goes away to Uni?!?!?!?

Back onto quiltier things - I've made little progress over the past day or two - far too busy at work calculating predictions for the end of year and preliminary preparations for next year's budget - and after all girls how many interesting photos can you post of a pile of cut squares of fabric which is about all I've accomplished so far this week. However I did get the label and hanging sleeve onto my winter Four Seasons quilt and wrap it up to take to the Post Office today - Last Minute Larry as usual!

Never mind - maybe tonight I can start stitching those flying geese.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The bear gets new trousers and I get some lovely post

On Friday evening Louise 'found' some turquoise ribbon lurking around the house - I say 'found' and take the opportunity to quote my father who always used to say to us as we announced that we'd found something we wanted to purloin 'You found it before it was lost'
'This is nice, can I have it?'
I had no immediate purpose for it so relented and gave it to her
'If I find some fabric,' (something else that wasn't lost I might add) 'can we make a pair of trousers for this bear?'
So here we are - one bear, some turquoise fabric, the ribbon and my brand new pinking shears (needed an excuse to try them out and pinked edges don't need neatening so at least I didn't have to change from my straight stitch plate on the machine)
Ten minutes later one smart(ish) bear in baggy drawstring trousers (well I was working without a pattern!) and one happy ten year old
The things we do for our kids
The postman brought me some lovely fabric from Angela who quilts in Cornfields in the US - and what a gorgeous card - that would adapt beautifully into a stitchery pattern
This fabric was a swap for my circular Christmas stitchery pattern and had been delayed as her daughter (much smaller than mine I might add) had acquired it to use as a tent for her soft toys - Bless! I can't begin to imagine the negotiations mum may have had here to reclaim it :o)
As for my plaid stitchery project - here we are with some more progress made
I've gone for lots of little proverbs and sayings worked in stitchery on the cream areas
Next I reckon 'Flying Geese'
Back to the cutting board...................

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stitching and YOU make my day :o)

Kimberley and Loulee have both very kindly awarded me the 'You make my day award'

Now I have to pick people who make mine - gosh this is so difficult, I read lots and lots of blogs even if I don't comment every time I drop in, I learn about quilting and other crafts, I get a fascinating insight into other people's ways of life, I laugh with some, cry with others and I feel my life in definitely enriched by all this.


I'm going to take the chicken's way out and say......................

All of you

I can't emphasise enough how much I enjoy being part of this blogging world - my family smile at me and indulge me 'Mum's talking to her imaginary friends again' but they're always interested to look at photos about what's happening to you in other parts of the UK and the big wide world out there.
So thank you to all of you for sharing and caring ....................

And so onto quilty things
I've been stitching my little heart out in front of the television that past few nights..........
and Voila!!!!!!
I've gone for little sayings to fill the cream spaces, and some numbers to compliment the alphabet too
Now onto the next round of plaid piecing
In the words of the inimitable Rolf Harris........
'Can you guess what it is yet?'

Sunday, January 20, 2008

And it just keeps getting bigger.........

A bit more piecing and a bit more stitchery done this weekend although precious little of it this afternoon
I've added another round to my plaid quilt - this time random QSTs with some cream inserts for more stitchery. The cream sort of jumps out and hits you in the top photo but I think once I've worked the stitchery on it then it won't be quite so glaring.
I also decided that the centre alphabet looked as though it was floating in mid air a bit too much so added some variegated green vines and russet hearts around it. The green thread has a wider range of tones than the russet and I'm not keen on the very light bits - but I'm not pulling it out now - the stitching is too small and I'd no doubt end up with holes. I might get a fabric pen and touch it up a little to darken it if it continues to bother me so much - we'll see, I think I shall have to sleep on this one.
I still can't make up my mind what to stitch in the other cream areas - I had thought nursery rhymes, an ABC rhyme or other child-like things but now I'm thinking more along the line of proverbs or old fashioned sampler like sayings - no doubt just the right thing will come to me in a flash of inspiration.
I've also worked some little turquoise/aqua hearts in the corners of the HST round and intend to use other variegated floss colours to make the stitchery across the whole quilt more random too.
As for no stitching getting done today that's because I spent the afternoon with Sarah at Cullompton in the neighbouring county of Devon at the Regional Rugby Trials for the South West South squad.
She had a pretty good session despite being in severe pain at one point with the IBS and much to her absolute whooping delight (and ours of course, after we'd ascertained that all the screeching racket was down to delight and not severe pain somewhere) she had the phone call this evening to tell her she's in the squad!!! The IBS left her so run down and ill this time last year that she didn't get past the trials so this evening's news was doubly sweet.
She's also in the thick of Science GCSE Modular exams at the moment and was in a terrible state (again with the IBS) on Friday for the Chemistry module - fortunately with a cocktail of medication and enforced duvet rest beforehand along with some aromatherapy massage and a few arrow prayers from me we managed to bring it down to a copeable level during the morning and the exam went okay in the afternoon. Biology was last Tuesday which wasn't so bad and the final one Physics is tomorrow. Hopefully knowing that she's got the Rugby Trials over and done with and having secured a much longed for place will help take some of the stress off and mean she's okay for school tomorrow. She is her own hardest taskmaster which also exascerbates the problem
She had managed a really long spell with little ill effects from May through to just before Christmas but then, we think as a result of antibiotics for an ear infection, the whole thing reared its ugly painful head again - of course stress is a big contributory factor which is kind of unavoidable at this stage in her education.
She will have loads more exams in late Spring/early Summer so we really do need to get some relaxation techniques in place and sort out the medication regime to cope with it all.
I wouldn't want to go back to being 15/16 years old for all the tea in China.
From a parent's perspective nobody tells you about these things at ante-natal classes all those years ago - do they? :o)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

And add a plethora of plaids.........

So the foundation pieced triangles worked okay - in some respects maybe I should have stuck to lights and darks on the same side of each 1" square - but I also like the total randomness of it, plus I'd stitched several seams before I even considered it so it stays like this.
I shall do some more stitchery in the long panels of cream and the tiny little cream corner squares. I might change colour and do this set in variegated blue or green - we'll see.
Next round QST's/hourglass units but as it's not an even measurement (17 and a bit inches) to divide into round numbers I'll put in some cream bits to stitchery on too.
This is definitely testing my piecing skills but still coming out in the Bebbington medallion style.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And back onto Stitchery again.........

I spotted a beautiful cross stitch pattern on Kate's blog the other day and particularly loved the alphabet part of it.
So as I don't seem to have the patience for cross stitch these days I decided to create my own version in stitchery instead using her design for inspiration.
I drew this up while the 'toad in the hole' was cooking for tea yesterday evening and traced it onto the reverse side of some 'cream on cream' fabric ready to make a start on stitching it in front of the tv during the evening.
I'd picked up some variegated DMC stranded embroidery floss in town last week in several colours and chose the russet one to work this in. The colour changes are quite subtle and I love the effect it gives.
It went together so quickly I was putting the final stitches in whilst watching Liverpool's five goals against Luton in the FA Cup match on Match of the Day just before we turned it in for the night.
Mind you kids are a great leveller aren't they - my youngest, who at 10 is heading off to University now while she still knows absolutely everything, asked me why I had mixed upper and lower case letters in the design - Miss Precise!
So what's next for this little piece of nonsense?
After all the shirt cutting I had done over the Christmas break I think it might just be the centrepiece I need for a mini plaid quilt, maybe with some school houses on it somewhere.
I'm thinking of a fine sawtooth border round it for starters but I'm afraid, as my previous efforts at tiny triangle piecing have been less than successful (to say the least), I will probably draw up a paper pattern to foundation piece the first borders.
Now.......... do I have time before I shoot off to work to dig out some shirting plaids ready for the next stage.....................

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hearts Galore!

I've had a bit of an applique head on this past few days

Clare at Dordogne Quilter put out a request for some Quilts 4 Leukaemia red and white blocks but with hearts on.
I intended to make three or four, but you know me once I get set in a groove.
I haven't done any hand applique for a little while - I'd forgotten just how much I enjoy it and oddly enough hearts are my favourite shape - they're always a good practice thing as you have an inward and an outward point.
So three or four ended up as sixteen - they're all trimmed to size Clare - they'll be in the post by the end of the week all being well.
As for my Winter Four Seasons effort - here we are with only the handstitching of the binding needed - even Nigel said 'Why aren't you keeping this one?' which from him is rare praise.
It has a long journey - I do hope its recipient likes it as much as I do.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Winter quilting progress

Well you know me once I get the bit between my teeth I can't stop
So last night I ploughed on with quilting the 'Dancing Snowflakes' for my Four Seasons winter effort.
Why is it so difficult to get the lighting right to get a decent photo of quilted texture?
For the centre I decided to quilt along the landscape features and then in the ditch for the skinny borders.
Then on the white border I left the writing standing proud and flattened the area round it with mini stippling.
Finally on the outer hourglass border I'm leaving the dark triangles puffed up and flattening their neighbouring white ones. Then on the interspaced blue squares I've marked diagonals and am doing the opposite to the white and grey blocks. Instead of stippling on these triangles I'm just quilting fine parallel lines less than an eighth of an inch apart - a bit long winded but I love the effect I'm getting with it.
I'm only part way round this last border, said it was long winded didn't I?, as I had to give up once my eyes started to water with tiredness late last night - no point pushing it and making a mess - there's always tonight.
Then it'll be just the binding and the label and that's Winter done with :o)
Would that the English weather would take the same journey! This morning Nick asked me if it was really 8.10am when he was ready to set off for school as it was still so dark and dreary. At the moment some days it's so grey it doesn't seem to even get properly light.
Roll on spring and summer :o)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bits of this and that.............

My sewing machine and I have been somewhat estranged over the past couple of weeks.

Partly because I've been here and there over the holiday period and partly because I just didn't feel inspired to sit at it after all that hurried completion of Christmas gifts.
So my interaction with fabric has been either constructive or destructive over the holidays.
On the constructive front, having completed the top for my winter offering for the Four Seasons Swap my mind turned to spring and, to me, the most potent symbol - the Daffodil
I started to work on embroidering Wordworth's Daffodils, one of my favourite poems and funnily enough I stitched some of it not far from his home in Grasmere when I was staying with my sister in Ambleside
I now need to locate some daffodil fabric to use on this project but have come up with nothing really suitable so far.
I've been lucky enough to be given tickets for a craft fair in Exeter this weekend from a blogger who won them but who also lives in the Lake District so is unable to travel down to use them. I shall keep my eyes peeled and see if I can find something suitable there.
As for the destructive side on many evenings I had the urge to feel fabric but felt no inclination to stitch something so ended up cutting up all the garments I'd been collecting over probably the past year to eighteen months from local charity shops
This is the mammoth pile of usable fabric - what treasure!
Finally this morning before I headed off for work I reacquainted myself with my machine and made a start on quilting my winter quilt.
'Hello machine, it's good to be back!'

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A lovely start to the year

Firstly let me share with you the lovely gift my Secret Santa made for me - a beautiful afghan and a selection of fabrics just in my colours - thank you so much my handicraft friend and thanks to Donna for organising it too
As for the festive season we had a lovely relaxing Christmas with Nigel's family, easy going with no conflicts, a lovely lunch and some quality family time. I can't pretend I wasn't a bit reticent about it but in the end it was great! Just what we needed
Then a leisurely few days around home until New Years Eve when as usual we joined lots of other families with children similar ages to ours in a local hall with a disco. Eveyone takes their own food and drink and no-one has to worry about babysitters or taxis home. It always has the comfortable feel of a wedding evening do with all ages mixing successfully.
On New Year's Day we had our own Christmas Dinner with turkey and all the trimmings but in a less formal way eating when it was ready in the evening rather than standing on ceremony eating in time for the Queen's speech and all that. The turkey was wonderful if I do say so myself.
Then Nigel returned to work for one day before taking an extended 4 day weekend to travel up north for my nephew's christening.
Initially we travelled up to Ambleside in the Lake District to my sisters for a couple of days. Someone was smiling on us from on high as, although heavy snow was forecast, we didn't see a flake and the usually congested motorways were crystal clear too - a very easy 300 mile journey.
However to the children's delight the Friday morning dawned with a good covering of snow. Although it had started to thaw slightly by the time we all got out they did manage to build a snowman, albeit a little one, and get some serious sledging in further up the fellside where the snow was deeper. The absence of sledges was no deterrent as thick plastic fertiliser sacks were a worthy alternative and Nick and Nigel particularly managed to build up quite a speed - great fun as my three have virtually never seen real snow.
Then on the Saturday we travelled across country to my brother's in South Yorkshire for his little boy's christening on the Sunday morning.
At almost ten months Spencer's turned into quite a charmer and the whole family enjoyed the event.
Here we are with mummy and daddy in the church after the service.
And then with Aunty Lorna and her partner Dave at the reception - mmmm that finger tastes yummy!
It was lovely to catch up with my siblings and my parents - these sort of dos make me feel just how far away I live from them all and how little we get to see them because we're so tied up with the kids' activities down here.
Yesterday Nigel and the children returned to work and school respectively - I go back this morning - I wonder just how many invoices the postman has managed to store up for me.
Never mind only six weeks until half term!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008 to one and all!

Having just returned from our usual neighbourhood New Year's party with three very weary children and ten sore feet between us I'm taking this opportunity to wish everyone who pops in to read my blog a very healthy, happy and peaceful 2008 - and lots of time to stitch too :o)