Wednesday, 30 April 2014

My tree

I opened my bedroom curtains this morning and my Malus Millennium tree was in full flower.  It took until the afternoon before I could take a picture of it and It is stunning.  What a pity it only lasts a short while in bloom, but I shall enjoy it while it lasts.
This is an ornamental Malus or crab apple
The blog is garden themed today as I went out this morning, with my sister and niece, and of course baby Will, who slept through most of the trip.  My sister and her husband are celebrating landmark birthdays this year and will be having a party at their home later in the year.  She wants the garden to look good and has called on my expertise (where did she get that idea from!!) to assist her in filling in any blank spaces and generally getting it into tip top form.  Well I love helping spend other people's money so I was completely up for this jaunt to the garden centre and we had a lovely morning filling trolleys (and I mean trolleys) full of hanging basket plants, plants that will smell good and some more unusual and hopefully, eye catching plants.  My niece has just moved into her first house and garden, so she was buying garden tools, fork, spade, hand fork and trowel, secateurs, weedkiller etc.  There is talk of a frost later this week so next week I will go and help plant them all.

Me - I needed slug pellets because they have decimated new plants I bought some weeks ago.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Uttoxeter Quilt show

This will be quite a short blog today as I had planned to do some sewing but got waylaid at my sister's house as she has my niece and great-nephew, Will, staying. He is only seven weeks old and absolutely delightful!

Had a great day at Uttoxeter Racecourse for the Quilt Show.  We had a super coach driver who was great fun. but also very safe, and there was a lot of banter and laughter with him.  Higham Piecemakers always have a free raffle in the coach coming back and I was buying the items for it so this time I went cheap and cheerful to enable as many people as possible to get a prize, though there were a number of items that I would like to have won, which unfortunately I didn't.  'C'est la vie' or better luck next time!  We had a delicious cupcake each, on the way home provided by Cupalicious which is run by L's daughter.    Great finish to the day.

There were some really stunning quilts displayed in the show, not necessarily what I would want in my house, but really intricate and beautifully made.  There was also a display by a local contemporary embroidery group which was fascinating and I felt I had a long way to go to achieve their results.

However, I have come away with new ideas, not only for myself, but maybe for the group to try out.  I will have to see what the 'programme' ladies think!

Saturday, 26 April 2014


I tried my hand at a different craft the other day - Pyrography!  I was at my U3A Handicrafts group meeting and Sue from Antex Craft showed us how to use the tools on wood and leather and what can be achieved.   They can also be used to fuse man made fabrics either onto card or to make pictures and at this point I was very tempted but then decided that I did not have enough time to start anything new.  We are inviting Sue back later in the year to show us how to use the fabric fusing tool.  However here are some examples of what can be achieved on wood and leather.
Should have been 'Once upon a thimble' on leather - I forgot!

Lovely picture traced and then burnt on wood
Sue burning the picture on wood

Sue burnt this on wood and then painted it

I love this picture of Pingu and was tempted but I think I will stick to patchwork.

Off to Uttoxeter Quilt Show tomorrow so a few pennies will be spent, I am sure!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bad hair day

I meant to write this yesterday but got carried away with the Poinsettias, following my embroidery class.  The class went smoothly for me for a change and I did not have to undo much work!

Off to a hair appointment with my stylist, N.  As I had to wait a short while I looked in some style books and decided I liked one of them.  "Oh the pixie look" said N when I showed her. Well, anyone who knows me would never describe me as a pixie, more a small elephant, but actually I did like the style and, what is more important, it is easy to look after, so well done N.

Called in on the fabric sale at Poppy Patch and of course I bought fabric but not in the sale.  I do have an item that I need to make so photos to follow at a later date.

If you read my Easter Monday blog you will know that I wanted to finish my little 'handbag' so here it is.
Opened out
The dark purple pocket is made from felt because I like to slip a needle into it, and it will hold something useful.  A Suffolk puff for a pincushion, elastic to hold more useful sewing aids and another pocket for scissors and a tape measure.  Very handy to take away on holiday.

It is only 5" x 3"

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Poinsettia coasters

Embroidery this morning and anyone who is a regular follower will know that I am not very good at it.  Our teacher is new to patchwork and has made a quilt top using blocks and in the centre of each one is the most beautiful embroidered flower!  Put me to shame straight away.

However I was able to help my friend.  She is making small oval shapes similar to a coaster and I was able to assist there with a technique I learnt many years ago when I first started patchwork, in the days when we went to evening classes and only paid a nominal sum for learning.   I had to produce a portfolio of work at the end of term and at the time I was producing 12 'poinsettia' coasters for our Christmas Day meal and this method was exactly what she required.  Here it is:-

- Sandwich your chosen fabrics wrong sides together, with Bondaweb larger than the pattern in the middle.
- Draw/trace/mark the pattern onto the fabric with a pencil.  It doesn't matter what you use to draw with as it won't show.
- Machine stitch on this pattern line in a contrast colour.  Once again this should not show providing you do the next part correctly.
- Using the zig zag stitch on your machine and ensuring that the stitches are close together, zig zag following the machine stitched line.  I have a Janome Quilter's Companion machine and use a very dense stitch length usually 0.2.  But practice beforehand.
Sandwiched together with vilene and part stitched

Note from this picture the 'petal' at the bottom right hand side.  As this will be 'behind' in the petal order it is zig zagged first as has the petal pointing towards the top.  You can see that I stitched the outline in a contrast gold thread so it wouldn't show.

Both photos are from my portfolio of work
You then cut round the shape close to the sewing line, without cutting the stitching!!!!

You can use this technique if you applique shapes onto fabric but I would use a pair of applique or duckbilled scissors for trimming the excess fabric from round the shape as it prevents you cutting the fabric underneath.

I hope that this 'lesson' is not too simple and that someone out there has found it useful.

Monday, 21 April 2014

'Post' Easter break

Having a wonderful chilled out day with glorious weather - why couldn't it have been like this yesterday!

All the family arrived for lunch which went well and the plates were all clean.  B (my grandson) was told he was eating beef because the L(amb) word could not be mentioned.  Not sure why, maybe he associates them with the little gambolling creatures in the fields, but he ate it all up.

Then there was the Easter egg hunt; we sent the smallest out first and then a great deal of rushing around the garden and I was asked where the eggs were.  I couldn't remember where I had put them, but I thought I had been sensible in wrapping the ground ones in small parcels of clingfilm.  Just as well as B showed a small slug crawling over his little parcel!  Slight relaxation as my three grand-daughters disappeared upstairs and were incredibly quiet!  They were playing having sleepovers at Granny's house so the beds were a bit untidy when they left and all my small selection of stuffed toys were dispersed, but nothing serious.

After a short walk to the nearest pocket park and lots of running round, children's tea and then they all disappeared leaving me slightly shell shocked but having enjoyed my day.

Later this week I am going to Poppy Patch as they have a fabric sale.  I cannot resist and will buy fabric 'just in case'.  That is the problem with being a fabricholic and I am rapidly turning into a woolaholic as well.  I have been sent a wonderful picture, to die for, of a crocheted cushion using the African flower design.   I have made one square but I must try and finish my Raindrop cushion cover from Attic24 (seems to be a problem loading this website as I blog).  It is looking good.

Right - must finish my little 'handbag' from Wednesday evening so get out the sewing machine and glue.  I need to do some sewing and finish something.  I am also planning to make little great nephew, Will, a felt tortoise so photo of that soon.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Little 'handbags'

This week Higham Piecemakers have been making little 'handbags' for keeping all those essential sewing things in.  No pictures of mine at the moment as it is very much a work in progress.  Follow the link to see what they should look like.

I had to call into the Monday group who were making theirs and it was all quiet, very studious and the gluing had all been completed.
Last night the Wednesday group were completely different - very noisy, some language that is unprintable, lots of glue, hysterical laughter and a great deal of 'Can I have my glue back' as someone (named B..... ) had forgotten her glue and clothes pegs and was borrowing everyone else's!!  Still it was good fun and because we only have 2½ hours, more work has to be carried out at home than the Monday group who have all day.  We will get there I have no doubt and a picture may appear.

I am going to have a few days off from the blog over Easter as I have all my family coming for lunch on Easter Sunday so I have to get ready.  The house must be clean; that is for my own satisfaction, the garden must look good; my sons will inspect it and make comments, there is food to get ready as well as sorting out the duties of the Easter bunny, who always leaves eggs for an Easter Egg Hunt.  I have never done this before so I hope that they find all the eggs otherwise the slugs will have a field day.  Don't worry, the eggs are foil wrapped and won't be put out until Sunday, probably indoors if the weather forecast is anything to go by.

Oh and the glaziers have just phoned to say they are due any minute to change the glass that exploded in the patio door (see blog on 4 April).  Thank goodness it will be exchanged before 4 small children get here.

Just proof reading this has made me exhausted and I feel I should lie down in a darkened room with a large glass of wine and it is only 4.00pm!!  However a cup of tea will suffice for the moment and a slightly stale slice of leftover coffee and walnut cake.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Baking and other things

Tonight I am hosting a committee meeting of the 50+ Adventure Club and that involves cake!! 

It all started sometime ago with a plate of homemade Anzac biscuits after a meeting was over and has developed into some lovely cakes, biscuits and meringues being made in each of the homes we visit.  I enjoy making cakes so this time it is chocolate cookies made before the London Marathon started, and a coffee and walnut cake made after Nordic walking yesterday..  I love Mary Berry's Baking Bible, though I do have one or two other well leafed recipe books.  I think the oldest one I use regularly is about 60 years old and was given to me by my mother for writing my own recipes in.  It has some well tried and tested recipes in it like 'Rock buns' - my father's favourites, 'Chocolate Krackolates' - a children's favourite with cornflakes and 'Lemon Meringue Pie' - very popular using real lemons and nothing from a packet!!  I can make this last one without looking at the recipe!!

I went Nordic walking yesterday morning and how glad I was that I did.  We went around Stanwick Lakes and then headed off onto the Nene Way, walking beside the river watching some children having a wonderful time in canoes and getting very wet.  How nice to see them out and about and not glued to a screen or gadget.  We could hear them laughing and screaming with delight a long way off.  Next stop was one of the locks where two narrow boats were going through.  At one end the gate was electric so nothing much to do there but the main comment was that the ladies were doing the work of opening the other lock gate while the men steered the boats!!

Just to update you on the Marathon - my daughter in law finished in 5 hours 47 and my son who was pacing at 4 hours 30 minutes, completed it in 4 hours 29 minutes so well judged on that.  He was thrilled to have his photo taken with Helen Skelton!!

Friday, 11 April 2014

The cushion

At last some time to sit down and catch up on my blog.  It has been another very busy week, with embroidery class on Wednesday where yet again I spent more time at the beginning, unpicking my work than sewing anything.  BUT by the end of the two hours I had achieved a lot and knew where I was going wrong.  Lesson of the day - do some homework in between classes.

Yesterday afternoon I managed to check out another orienteering course which had good poles and everything in order, so that is another tick on my mental 'To Do' list.

The front
.... and this morning was crochet club and we all had plenty to 'show and tell'.   Some granny squares in gorgeous colours, two new members who had not crocheted for years and seemed to be achieving a lot in a short time and my 'Blooming Flower Cushion' with the pattern courtesy of Lucy at Attic 24.  You make some lovely crocheted items and I adore your website.
The back

Finally, I must wish my daughter-in-law all the luck in the world as she runs her first marathon on Sunday in the Virgin London Marathon.  My son is also running but is an old stager at marathon running as this will be his 45th and he is a pacer at 4 hours 30 minutes.  He has to keep up a steady pace all the way to encourage those who want to run at this speed.  His 50th marathon will be in New York on his 40th birthday in November.  My good wishes go to both of you and I hope to spot you on TV!!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A morning's orienteering

What a change in the weather today - windy but very sunny and quite warm out of the wind.  Yesterday I went with my sister to try out an orienteering course for the club, that I mentioned in my last blog.  We do NOT run round at speed or need a compass like proper orienteers, but we all enjoy a challenge and yesterday was very much a challenge!!

The weather was not too good and the ground was very wet underfoot in places and trying to find all the posts was a disappointment.  Out of nine we found five; it might have been our fault but they do get vandalised, pulled out of the ground etc but we spent a lot of time searching for them.  On each post there is a number and we have to record the letter that is also on it.  There were some very wet spots and though I was wearing my wellington boots instead of walking boots, I had one point where it got stuck in the mud half way up my leg.  However much I pulled I couldn't get it out, my sister worried because she was only in walking boots but eventually after a little gentle persuasion I managed to release it.  Thank goodness.

As the result of this muddy morning and lack of 'posts' I don't think the club will be going there.  So I will need to spend another morning trying another course.  But my sister and I agreed we had a great time taking our exercise in a different way; she usually swims and I walk and of course catching up with each others news and the coffee and cake at the end was a welcome reward for all our hard work.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Lovely days walk yesterday

As you may know I am a member of the 50+ Adventure Club and though we try to take part in 'adventurous' activities we do a few walks through the year.  Yesterday it was a figure of 8 Spring walk around the Kings Cliffe area of Northamptonshire.  We did a muddy walk in the morning, followed by a pub lunch and then some of us managed to drag ourselves out for a further walk in the afternoon on good footpaths, through Fineshades Wood which is part of Rockingham Forest.  It was 8 miles in total, so a good distance.

The weather was very kind to us and most of us had to take our jackets off at some time as we got very warm.

Being a committee member I have to organise a few activities which this year seem to follow on month by month so currently I am planning for August and September activities.  We have a varied programme this year with indoor activities in the winter months, but we are just beginning to take part in outdoor activities.  Next weekend I have organised horse riding, followed by a car rally in May, with fiendish questions set by me when members of the club drive, sedately, through our local countryside stopping in the villages on the way.  We finish with a pub lunch again, when I also mark the question papers to see who is the winner!!

I am still organising Orienteering in June, an August London Experience and a 'wet' September weekend in Norfolk.   Everything seems to come at once, but I really enjoy it.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Never a dull moment .......

There was I, sitting watching television last night, when I thought I had been shot!!  When I recovered from the shock I went to investigate the noise and there was my patio door - shattered like a windscreen.  At any moment I expected the glass to fall to the ground in a heap.  I found the insurance policy and phoned the emergency line who informed me that it wasn't an emergency because it was the outside pane of my double glazing!!

Anyway my claim has gone in, the engineer has been and taped sticky paper to keep it in place and the date for the installation of the new glass is booked and all before Easter when the family, with little ones, come here.  The engineer thought it might be a stone as there is a small hole near the bottom

Thank goodness for insurance and only an excess to pay.
.with the engineer inside - you can only just see him
The culprit hole at the bottom

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Jacket finished!!

At last the jacket is finished but not without some help from the U3A Handicrafts group.  I have been pleased with the pattern which was a company I have not used before and the instructions were clear and easy to follow UNTIL I had to join the sleeves with their lining.  

The main part of the jacket and the lining were stitched right sides together and then turned and this was the same for the sleeves but when I pinned the sleeves and turned them all sorts of interesting things began to happen and I would have needed to be a contortionist!! However this was soon solved by the group (two or even three heads are better than one) and so I proceeded and here are pictures of the finished article!
The back!

The front
I liked this pattern with its stand up collar but the original cuffs were much more flared so I cut them down.  I am very pleased with the finished jacket.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Nearly there!

At last I can report that I have nearly finished two items.  I have finished the crochet project that I started at the beginning of March.  I can't show any pictures or give any details until after crochet club as they must get the first view but it does look good!!

The jacket is nearly finished and providing I get some time to myself tomorrow that will be photographed at my Higham Piecemakers group meeting, as I don't have a tailor's dummy so will need to model it.  I made a big bloomer yesterday by sewing the collar the wrong way up and had to re-cut it and re-sew it!!  The pattern has a stand up Mandarin collar and I should have read the pattern!!  Couldn't believe it when I saw what I had done and the air was rather blue with insults hurled at myself.  "Stupid cow" being the only one I can mention!!

Now these two pieces are finished I shall try and concentrate on finishing some UFOs (Unfinished Objects) of which I have a few.  I must also get gardening before Easter, when all the family are descending on me for lunch on Sunday, and there will be an Easter egg hunt for the grand-children.

By the way, I had a lovely 5.5 mile Nordic walk yesterday following the Nene Way part of the time.  The weather was glorious, birds singing and everywhere is beginning to 'green up' so what could be better.  Our leaders, F and R, arrived in shorts but I am not quite ready for that yet - oh and by the way, I NEVER wear shorts now except in the privacy of my back garden!