Saturday, 27 February 2016

Back on The Farm

I was back at Chester Farm this week, but not doing any archaeological digging.  This time the call had gone out for volunteers to help with land conservation tasks and hoping that the weather would at least be fine, I decided to give it a go!

What a lovely day it was and in fact proved to be really warm once the sun rose.  Frosty to start with
we were all well wrapped up with our 'high vis' jackets on, clearing the rubbish and wood
Old fence posts had to be cleared
from this small coppice.

As usual I got carried away and was cutting down branches with a hand saw, until I was told off for doing this above my head!!  Health and Safety!!  We uncovered some dreadful rubbish that had been dumped many years ago as it was all covered in roots and leaves and a tiny field mouse leapt out and ran away into the undergrowth!
Looking good
On our way for our coffee break
 The mid morning coffee break was very welcome and we walked back to the farm over the remains of the walled Roman Town.
Double click on photo for better view

The tracks running down the hill (in the centre of the photo) are the old Roman road that ran down through the town and into the valley below.  Well designed because being lower than the town would have taken away any flood water coming down the hill.  We saw the lead archaeologist, who was on site for a meeting, and he explained why this was a walled town. Apparently it was on an Imperial Roman Route that would have been used for delivery of mail to the north and important personages would have stayed in the town on their way north as well! The River Nene was quite shallow and slow moving at this point and therefore easier to ford, hence the various groups of people who lived here from the Neolithic period to the Medieval.

By this time the sun was shining and quite hot, but although I didn't take off my coat, my hands were still cold!
Lovely view of the 14 span railway bridge over the river
... and a train en route to London.
I came home mid afternoon and suddenly realised how tired I was!! 

My 'Mini Mania' quilt for February is finished and a photo will be posted on Monday, followed by my challenge for March!!  I hope that group are not too daunted!

I have started my Attic 24 Harmony blanket and have made about 50 of the 126 squares.  The pack came from the Wool Warehouse and I love the colours.  I will post some photos soon.

Oh, and I have finished my Higham Piecemakers Christmas 2015 Challenge - more about that after 14 March when it must be shown at group.

So what is next for sewing: I have some ideas but they will be started (or finished!) soon but as the weather is improving, I feel that gardening calls, though I would much rather sew!!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Half term

I have had a busy week, hence the delay in updating the blog. 

Last Friday with a friend, I went to Textiles in Focus and had a very pleasant morning wandering around the stalls and looking at the fantastic display of 'embroideries and textiles' and I use this term in the very loosest way.  I bought a pattern from Delia Cecil, half of 'Running with Scissors' and admired the other half, Jennie Callomon, who designs and makes wonderful figures with beautiful faces.  We also admired the work of this group.

I also bought this -
Soooo useful!

and these
for a future project!
Linus quilts were taken to group this week and you can see the selection here.

I am not sure that is should have done free motion quilting, but I wanted to put hearts in the middle of each block.
All quilts were labelled
I cannot claim that half term has got in the way, but I had my 'Cambridge' grandchildren for Saturday night but not before having some fun at Stanwick Lakes first on the play equipment -

then the tubes were fascinating -

and finally we walked to the Assault Course for them to have a go -

and I had to drag them away for hot chocolates in the café.

In my last blog 'Snowdrops' I mentioned buying small wooden bowls

So useful and what a bargain at £1 each!!!

Sunday, 14 February 2016


Every year a local church at Chelveston has a Snowdrop festival so I went along to support them and take some photos.

It is an area that I know well as I spent my teens near here when it was a USAF base and planes used to take off and land all day and made a huge amount of noise!!  Nowadays it is quiet village with wind turbines on the old airfield.

It was a bitterly cold day as I wandered around the churchyard -

and saw vistas of snowdrops -

and other Spring flowers -


Little cyclamen
I saw this plaque (double click on the photo and it is enlarged) -
Note the plaque at the bottom of the tower

and then I went into the church porch and couldn't resist these photos -
A beautiful flower arrangement

The church was packed with different stalls where I could have bought snowdrops 'in the green' which is the best way to plant them, the cake stall and of course I could have bought a cup of coffee.  I didn't do any of these, but I did buy some raffle tickets and some very useful small wooden bowls that are now in The Studio.

I came home and immediately started hemming the binding on my Linus quilt ready for Wednesday evening and looked at my Christmas Challenge (see last post) and unpicked almost everything I had done as it was awful!!!!!  This then resulted in a short trip to Poppy Patch to get some more background fabric as the fat quarter I had been given had run out! After some bad language I am now back on course but have run out of wadding, but I am going to a show later this week so will get it there.

I started my Harmony Blanket at crochet group that has 126 Granny Squares.  I have made 10, so some way to go, but I am enjoying it.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

What shall I do?

The sun is shining this afternoon and it feels quite Spring like outside.  I actually saw some hedgerows in leaf this morning and I was absolutely delighted when my daffodils came out.

They have such a distinctive smell as well.  I love them.

I have finished my latest crochet project.  I have a knitted cardigan that I love as it has a collar and zips up the front and fits me very well.  I decided to make another one, but experimenting was called for as I wanted to use the same pattern but I would crochet it!!  Mad or what?!  Well, I bought the wool when I went to Fibre East last year and wrote about here so where to start on the cardigan. 

I decided to make the body in one piece - that is, crochet to the armholes and then divide for the fronts and the back so that is what I did.  I added up all the stiches that were needed if knitting, and then made a long chain  double crochet (English term) for the ribbed band at the bottom and trebles for the main body.  I was a little worried about the sleeves but they turned out alright after I used the knitted cardigan as a pattern, collar looks good but what about the band down the front? 

Thinks!  Searches the Handbook of Crochet Stitches!  Hey Presto - under Trims and Edgings I found a Corded Edging called Crab Stitch and once I had got the hang of it was a very effective band.  See for yourselves -

Love it and it is so warm!!

I have now started knitting another pair of socks from the same pattern as before, that is toe to top and I have worn the first pair regularly through the cold weather and they are so toastie!

However as we have crochet group tomorrow I need to start something new so I am going to make a Harmony Blanket.  Really useful for travelling, going away or group because it doesn't take up much room and I can just crochet a Granny Square, one or two at a time.

Upstairs in 'The Studio' the three projects are all progressing.  The Linus quilt has been quilted and bound and now I must finish hemming the binding and sew on the label;  The February Mini Mania quilt top is finished, though it hasn't turned out quite how I was expecting!!
No colour - sorry
These are supposed to be 4" square but like Topsy, they are growing!!!  However the 3" squares over papers are perfect!
3" square
I have now joined both sizes together and must think how to quilt it.

The Higham Piecemakers Christmas Challenge has been started but I am not 100% happy with it and may change my mind.  Help, it has to be finished by 12 March, only a month away.  This is the first Piecemakers challenge where I have been dilly dallying with no concrete ideas; normally I know what to do within a few days.  Anyway onwards and upwards and I am sure it will be alright on the night!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Pineapple etc

It has been a fairly busy week.  Normally I look after Will on a Tuesday but he has been on holiday, so my sister and I went out for the day.  I had to go to a garden centre to get some seed potatoes and other vegetable seeds so first stop was here where we started with coffee before I seemed to spend a fortune, including bird food. 

Next stop for lunch was the George Hotel, Buckden where we had a meal in the bar, paid for by my sister, excellent, and we popped into this very upmarket dress shop.  Way above my price range but not my sisters!  Many years ago I did buy a 'Mother of the Groom' outfit here, that I still have and is now too big for me!!  In those days I was working and could afford the price but I did get a second wear out of it when I was invited to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.  I was invited though my husband's name came first on the invitation, which he said always rankled me a little.  It didn't, but I loved the whole day.

Anyway I digress.  Next day I went to Cambridge to work on the kitchen garden and after putting the potatoes to chit, I pruned the grapevine, cleared the remains of the runner beans, and dug the plot they were on.  Not bad in 3 hours.  It was a lovely day and as I dug the plot, a Robin was singing away in the bushes and having a good feed in the wheelbarrow.  I am quite mad and talked to him gently as I dug!!  They are very territorial, but there were two of them so maybe they are mating already;  is Spring on the way??

Back at home I have been working on my February Mini Mania - Pineapple Log Cabin - and was progressing quite well when I re-read the instructions - PAPER Piecing!!!!

First I sorted my 'bit' box for usable scraps -

Some ironed scraps
Printed the squares onto tracing paper and then decided to piece WITHOUT paper at 4 inches - see where I am coming from!!!!
3 inch squares

I sewed as far as this -

when I re-read the instructions and realised that these were not right, so back to the drawing board so to speak.  However sitting at my sewing machine I had a brilliant idea so watch this space.

Tonight I am helping with the 50+ Adventure Club quiz with two rounds; one is on Geography and the other is a music round.  I hope that the latter works as I am not very computer literate in the music field.  I must have one more practise before tonight and remember to take everything with me!!

Monday, 1 February 2016

January Mini Mania

Yes, I managed to finish my December/January Mini Mania on time and yesterday was the 'Reveal'.  We had been asked to make a 9 block Sampler Quilt and no bigger than 20" (51cm) in size.

I decided to make each of my 9 blocks, 9 blocks themselves and I used my old block book that I have had for years to make four of them and I got five from the Janome website.  The latter were easy because they had all the dimensions of each part of the block, but I had to draw out the other four onto graph paper and then work out what size each square had to be.

So, from left to right:
Row 1 - Fractured Light Block (designed by Tamara Serrao) - Janome
             Cats' Cradle - from Jinny Beyer - drawn up by me
             Ohio Star - Janome

Row 2 - Capital T - from Jinny Beyer - drawn up by me
              Split 9 patch block (designed by Angie Wilson) - Janome
              Mosaic 8 - from Jinny Beyer - drawn up by me

Row 3 - Variation on Ohio Star - Janome
              Cactus Flower - from Jinny Beyer - drawn up by me
              Blue Glass Block (designed by Tamara Serrao) - Janome

The first block that I made was Capital T -
and it is probably the most uneven as I think I got my measurements wrong as you can see!!  However everything else went quite well, if not a little fiddly!!
Mosaic 8
Variation on Ohio Star
Cactus Flower
Blue Glass Block
Split 9 Patch Block
Fractured Light Block
Ohio star
Each finished square is 6", so each individual block within a block is 2". 

Oh, and all the blocks were made from fabrics that I had in my stash, so nothing new bought!!

Anyway that was December/January, but we are making Pineapple Log Cabin for February  - brilliant and the blocks will be pieced on 3" squares (you can use 4" but I want smaller!) and I have already decided to make mine from my scrap box.

So I now have three patchwork projects on the go - my incubator Linus quilt, my Higham Piecemakers Christmas Challenge (more about that later) and this new Mini Mania; February will be busy.