Thursday, 12 April 2018

What can you make with a tea towel?

If you have been following my blog you will know that it's that time of the year when Higham Piecemakers have their grand reveal of the 2017 Christmas Challenge.

Well, we were given a tea towel and in line with the BBC Great British Sewing Bee, had to turn it into something else and NOT dishcloths!!  On TV they only get a short time but we were given three months, thank goodness.

I thought long and hard over Christmas and had a brilliant idea and mentioned it to the family who immediately fell about laughing!!  That would be the second challenge - wiping the smiles off their faces!

So the tea towel -
I unpicked the hems
 ruled the lines

and started counter change smocking

The first part completed.

Two years ago I went to Yarndale and for some unexplained reason I bought a pack of tweed offcuts and this gave me the idea for the next stage of the process but what I had wasn't going to be enough for my idea and I needed more. 

I was very lucky to find a metre of very inexpensive and the correct weight tweed.  Thank goodness for the Internet and soon everything was in place for part 2.
A good match

After talking to a friend who is an experienced dyer, I chose Procion dyes from this company.  With my heart in my mouth I started the process and was very pleasantly surprised at how easy it was and it now looked as if my idea would actually work.  Sorry there should be a photo here but I tend to forget when I am busy!!

Part 3 - next I needed to cut up the tea towel into four but before you even put a pair of scissors to counter change you must secure it, so two parallel sets of machining lines were made vertically and horizontally, and then it was cut.  The tweed offcuts were cut up and a paper pattern found
Pockets from offcuts
(are you getting an idea of where I am going??!!)

a jacket!

The next part was actually more tricky than I expected.  I had to line it although the pattern was for an unlined jacket and there was great deal of matching which I don't think was entirely successful but here is the finished item -
Goodness I do look fat

 try a side view
....  much better

I think that I could have made it a size smaller but on the whole I am very pleased and the jacket will be worn.

If you want to see what the rest of the group did with their tea towels go to the Higham Piecemakers blog page.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Easter jottings

I shouldn't really be writing this on Easter Monday morning because I had booked to go out on a gentle bike ride with a group at Stanwick Lakes, but because of the weather forecast and the torrential rain we have had that has caused flooding, it has been cancelled.  I am very disappointed.  If, and it is a big if, the weather improves this afternoon I might go out on my own.

However on a brighter note, on Saturday my son invited me to Cambridge for lunch. Brilliant I thought, I can arrive early and do some vegetable gardening, weeding and planting seeds and my early potatoes! No such luck; it was cold and damp and all we managed to do was clear the raised beds ready for planting when the weather warms up. 
Looking good

BUT I was absolutely horrified when I saw this bed -

last time I was in Cambridge this was a bed full of  growing broad beans and now it is just weeds and everyone has been eaten by something!!! I couldn't weed because I am still hoping they will sprout, but I couldn't see the plants!

The purple sprouting broccoli was in a similar state

but it should recover.

I had been told that in the afternoon we would be going to church to do the Easter garden but this was postponed until very late afternoon because of this -

and when we arrived at the church it was closed after the funeral, in preparation for Easter Services.  However we were admitted and the children helped with the garden for Easter Sunday.
They did a lovely job
I wandered around the church, where both of my grandchildren who live in Cambridge, were baptised.  Both baptisms were held as part of the morning family service and there was a German film crew at one of them.  We never did see any footage.
It was a lovely family day especially as we all went out for a meal afterwards.

I did promise to show you my Easter 'eggs' made for my four grandchildren -

The children have loved them but it may be because I enclosed some money in each wrapped up egg!!  Such fun to make.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

British Summer Time

Here in the UK the clocks went forward an hour last Saturday night for British Summer Time (BST) and though I lost an hour's sleep I immediately felt so invigorated, so much so that I turned off the central heating (well the sun was shining) and opened the back door and almost, yes almost ran round the garden in my PJs.  I didn't, which is probably just as well, but instead went for a bike ride.

This stretch of road is a hill down and steep up the other side and in the past I would have dreaded it but it now holds no fears for me.  Amanda - this is especially for you as I used the boost button and shot out onto the A6. Luckily no traffic around!

There was a field of horses just by me
The point on the horizon under 'O' is Irthlingborough church

Anyway it was a lovely sunny Sunday morning bike ride.

Friday last was smocking day and when we were looking for a venue to hold the group we found the Community Room at our local Tesco store.  There is no charge and we have free tea and coffee so what more could you ask for.  Teacher J was not there but we are now quite experienced so could help each other if necessary.  We were able to photograph our latest projects

.... a bowlful of smocked Easter eggs.  Aren't they lovely; I think we deserve a group pat on the back!!  I will show you my personal contribution next time.

If you read the last Higham Piecemakers blog you will know that at our all-day meeting we made bunnies, and boy, did they breed!  I actually think that they were hares because of the long ears. It was a really fun day and I was trying to keep up with my friend, who seemed to have stuffing the 'animal' off to a fine art and actually at the end of the day she had finished, dress and all. I had made the dress but my hare was still armless!!
Now complete!
The dress is Liberty Lawn that I bought in The Fent Shop in Skipton two years ago.  Another to add to my collection and I hope that they all get on together.
So I have nothing else to make;  I am at a loose end and it is pouring with rain outside so I can't even do any gardening which is how I spent last weekend.

Never mind perhaps I better tidy my workroom and the Easter weekend is coming up and I am going on a gentle cycle ride organised by British Cycling.  I have warned them that my bike is electric but I don't think I will be using the boost button much!!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Beast from the East is back (a mini version)

I am getting fed up with our weather!!  After having had a week or two with decent weather (well relatively) I have been able to go on my usual Monday morning Nordic walk
The sky a couple of weeks ago after the first snow

and then last Monday after a lot of rain and snow melt we went exploring along the river bank -
Alpacas and little white egrets with geese in the foreground
The entrance to Rushden Lakes from the river (by the sign)
 The last time I went canoeing on the river we accessed Rushden Lakes here and it was a gentle little backwater but this time it was very full and when we crossed the weir opposite the opening I didn't like it
The bridge bounced and made me uncomfortable with
all that water gushing underneath
We tramped through mud but it was great to be out and walking.  However the snow was back last night and the temperature is below freezing!

Last week it was announced that Professor Stephen Hawking had died and I remembered this photo

 My father studied for his degree at Gonville and Caius in Cambridge, so back in 2014 I went there to have a look round and lo and behold found this plaque at the bottom of one of the staircases.  It was a surprise to me at the time.  RIP a very famous and clever man,.

You can read more about my 2014 meander around Cambridge here.

A friend gave me these for Christmas
No snow in the background

and though they are long over they gave off a wonderful scent, but I bought the amaryllis in the pot beside them

Well every snow blizzard has a silver lining and as it has enforced me to stay in, I have managed to get some projects finished off!!

Drum roll............

remember this photo I posted in OCTOBER

the foot of my Tilda Bunny - well here you are

she is finished and I love her.  The holdup was because I finished everything but I was worried about her face and so she sat there faceless because I didn't think I could complete the line down from her nose!!  But crochet group teacher J told me how to do it and it was easy peasy.  Please note that the link to the pattern is American crochet.

She joins my Tilda elephant

that I sewed from this book some years ago and guess what - we are making a Tilda Rabbit tomorrow at Higham Piecemaker's All-day session.   I shall be Tilda'd out!!

Anyway I have finished the Piecemaker's Christmas 2017 Challenge and some smocking but that is for another blog, so watch this space.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Cycle Ride

I haven't been out my new 'go-faster' bike for three weeks and the weather was fine and the temperature looked OK so off I went.

I had decided to head for where I used to live from about the age of eleven years and I knew there were also some hills, but these hold no fear for me now.

I rode through Yelden, that in my childhood had a blacksmith where we took our horse to be shod.  This does sound grand but we only had her for the summer months and when we returned to school in the autumn, she was returned to the local hunt who owned her.  Very importantly my sister and I had got horse ownership out of our systems and this pleased our parents!!

There is a very steep hill to go up out of Yelden and as I was starting to climb an older man of about mid 50, clad in Lycra, overtook me slowly. He was going so slowly that I HAD to pass him so with a shout of 'Electric bikes are great, especially the boost button' I shot past him!!!!  He caught up with me later and had a chat about an electric bike for his wife.  Maybe a convert?

Passed  through this village which held many memories for me, and the pub that is still open.  My sister and I used to catch the bus to school from this village but we had to cycle there first so I was re-tracing my footsteps so to speak.

Past the windmill that was falling down when we were children and looks good now it is restored and so to

where we lived and where my mother died in 1968 and though a long time ago I have missed her so much, especially today on Mother's Day.  Shelton is a small hamlet and when we first moved there did have a pub now long closed.  I saw a field with ....
.... Guinea Fowl in it

They must be owned by someone as the fence was electrified!!  So into the village
This was the first house we lived in - behind the trees
 Then my parents bought two farm workers cottages and converted them into one house. 
Our house on the right behind the trees. 

The pub is straight ahead and was called the Cat and Custard Pot and was kept by a little old lady who brought the beer from a back room.   Now a family home.

I could not resist taking these photos

This hill was very important in our childhood as we used to ride our 'soap box cart' down here and if we couldn't make the corner would career straight across the road into the field which was behind me!!  Very little traffic in those days thank goodness!!
Who remembers these (not my picture)

Anyway I cycled on and the next village was

We didn't know the people who lived here at all but it gave me a circuit and so home again through Yelden.  Before I got there I stopped at the top of the hill and took a photo of the village.

When we were children there was an American Air Force base on the top of the hill in the distance and the planes made such a noise as they took off and landed, which usually seemed to happen on bank holidays and the weekend when we were in the garden!!

In all I had cycled 19.5 miles but it was so enjoyable and brought back so many memories, both happy and sad.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

"The Beast from the East"

No, we were not on some tropical beach with hot sun, but Camber Sands with us all well wrapped up in hats, scarves and gloves and thick coats, trying to avoid the biting easterly wind blowing all the way from the Steppes of Russia - The Beast from the East!!

The girls had frozen hands even after all this digging and I went for a walk and my eyes watered all the time; is this old age??!!  We were all glad to get home to a nice warm house and lunch.

That was Sunday in Kent, but on Saturday we went to Bedgebury which is a pinetum with plenty of things to do and I loved it.  There were so many wonderful trees and I love their shapes and colours.  I didn't know what to photograph next
A lovely feathery outline

The white bark of a Silver Birch
A wonderful tree  ......

... for climbing
The twisted shapes of rhododendrons
The branches of a tall Western Hemlock

Suddenly we saw this ....
... complete with a wart on the end of his nose!!

We visited what seemed like all the different playgrounds, including the Ant's Nest and the Spider's Web and then back home for lunch.  Once again the sun shone and the biting wind spoilt everything.

Earlier in the week Higham Piecemakers had their monthly 'All Day' and in February that means our Charity Day for Project Linus. You can see all the pictures on their blog but I used up scraps from my Thomas Cook fabric and made two in different sizes and backed in a patchwork of their fabric as well.

With my own fabric scraps I made four

and they are a real mixture, so they will be added to the final total. 

By the way my final total of PJs and gowns from the 40 metres of Thomas Cook fabric was 25 items and the two Linus quilts.  The fairly small bag of scraps left over will be sent back to them.