Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Craftiness and a rant!!

This last weekend has been full of sewing from beginning to end and I loved it!

Firstly I completed my Mini Mania for December/January.  I have to admit that the topic was not something that I wanted to do so I was very tardy getting going and as with so many things thought "two months, that's a long time."  This is what we had to do -

House and Home
We have two months to complete a street of your choice of buildings. A minimum of any five buildings are to be made using any method you choose - pieced, foundation pieced, applique, paper pieced or a mix and match selection if you wish.

Well, I came across this lovely terrace of Georgian houses in Bedford and this gave me an idea.  I took photos and printed them onto fabric and after some free motion embroidery using net, organza and ribbon I produced this very quickly.  No binding - I just pinked and zig zagged the edges -
Priory Terrace, Bedford

I hope it passes with the group!

Friday was Smocking Class and I was in need of help!!  I have decided to make eldest granddaughter another smocked dress and I was lucky enough that one of my fellow class members had a lovely pattern for one using counter change smocking.  Ideally this should be worked on gingham but I didn't want this and I found what I was looking for in a local shop.  So after a little help from teacher J, I got going

Still a long way to go and I may need some assistance when J returns from holiday but I am happy with it so far.  I hadn't spotted the little dots round the flowers, but J did, and as they are at ½” (13mm) work as if it is gingham! 

Two weeks ago I sent off a parcel of 5 gowns/pyjamas for the charity that I support, Pyjama Fairies, that I had made from fabric I won over the Christmas period.  We have a closed Facebook page where all parcels are acknowledged on arrival and I waited to see if mine had arrived.  Well I waited, and waited ........  nothing received!!  Luckily I had posted them tracked and signed for and now 10 days later I am able to make a claim, but it doesn't do anything for my frustration with Royal Mail!!  It is such a waste of my time and their fabric.  Rant over.

Anyway another parcel is going off today with another 5 items; 4 use the lovely pink fabric that I won and the other is from my own stock.  I made these over the weekend and are ages from 2- 16years, one set of pyjamas and the rest are hospital gowns.
Please keep your fingers crossed that it arrives as I am using a different company to deliver it.

I always make garments for 'stock', but I was delighted to hear that some of my previous sent items had gone off in a hospital order so I imagine a child in hospital wearing something that I have made.  It is a lovely feeling!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Rivers and reminiscing

I was talking to my friend Sew Happy about future projects and this got me thinking about past projects and how long I have been doing patchwork!!  I first got started some 25+ years ago when I lived in Chepstow, in South Wales and in those days I went to evening classes to learn.  We learnt right from basics making blocks from templates that we had drawn on graph paper and then pasted onto card and every week we did a different block.  I now realise I had absolutely no colour co-ordination and when I went to sew the blocks together nothing matched at all!!  Simply appalling waste of fabric

However I did buy a panel that reminded me of water at the bottom and a stormy sky at the top; but what to make with it.   Then one day looking out of my bedroom window I had an inspiration.  After taking a photo, I then drew the design up and this was the result.
A wallhanging of the Severn Bridge

This bridge and the river played a very important part in my life as I crossed it every day to get to work, as did my husband.  Many times I was on the cliffs on the other side unable to cross, with my house a mile away, but the weather was so appalling that the bridge was closed.  A 1.5 hour detour round by Gloucester.  I have cycled and walked over this bridge and walked under it many times, but in its time it was the latest piece of engineering and in 2016 celebrated 50 years since it was opened.   I cannot remember how I made the wallhanging or what the technique was but have always thought it gave the effect of looking out of a window.

Tuesday being my 'Bedford' day we went for walk along by the river, which was running very high after all the rain we have had.  Bedford School boys were out on the river rowing.  Little Will was very keen to see the weir where the water was gushing and very noisy and makes me feel a little dizzy.  Is it all the water and the fear of he bridge collapsing and falling in that makes me like that?  Anyway both of the Archimedes Screws were going full blast and putting electricity into the National Grid.

I also noticed that a number of swans had converged on a quieter part of the river
Boats being rowed in the background

and there was a massive clean-up going on

That's better, all finished and very clean!!
I can now reveal my latest smocking project started early last summer.  I made it for my youngest granddaughter who was 6 last week and she loves it!!

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I made a similar one for her cousin and I was asked to make exactly the same one for L.  Well I couldn't do that so this one has fabric a shade lighter and I made up my own smocking pattern.  The little girls love them because when they twirl the skirt comes out like a bell!

Two happy little girls, but I plan to make a slightly different one for the eldest.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Christmas and New Year is a distant memory!

We are well and truly into January and my diary is already getting full.

My first big outing was last Saturday at the 50+ Adventure Club annual barn dance.  It is always a very popular event and this year was no exception.  We have tried a number of bands over the years but this year we had The Banana Band who were excellent and played non-stop all night.  Any band we have enjoy coming because we get up and dance from the very beginning and never stop!

We have already booked them for next year.

I was also back at Chester Farm for 'land conservation' this week but the morning was slightly different.  The unused fields attached to the farm are going to be used for livestock and so we had to walk the fields, noting hazards, broken fences and anything else that maybe required before letting them loose.  I have never been in this part of the farm before so it was very interesting and immediately I found a dead Barn Owl.  I think this was a recent death as there was no decomposition and as I had no camera with me at the time I took it back to the centre to record.  Not for the squeamish so look away now!!

What a beautiful bird
After lunch the rain which had been slight in the morning increased, but with my full waterproofs on we (there were only 2 of us) carried on clearing the ground.  I wasn't cold as I had so many layers on but my glasses needed windscreen wipers.  We saw interesting fungi
Purple pore bracket fungus

and this turns into this

This fungus turns orangey brown and then becomes stained with green from the algae. Not my own work, but information courtesy of our volunteer organiser.  However it is MY hand in the top photo wearing my very soggy gloves and her camera because at that precise moment my camera fogged up -
You can just make out my hand!

as I had been keeping it dry inside my waterproofs.  However if anyone knows what this is on the log I would love to know - is it fungus or lichen?

On the way back to base to return the equipment I noticed this man whose work must be never ending
Washing down the wheels before going onto the highway

and no wonder after this
Mud, mud, mud

A slightly different landscape now compared to the summer

Apparently the Klargester Septic tank has now been installed!!  There are also archaeologists on site, keeping one step ahead of builders, still finding more Roman pottery!

I have started a new canvas work embroidery over the Christmas holiday.  When finished it will be a little 'weight' but still a lot to do.
 I bought the large magnet at Alexandra Palace last summer
The base is a sampler to try new stitches and get the colours right

I have plenty of other items to keep me busy, sewing, knitting, smocking and crocheting so perhaps next time there will be something to show!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Year weekend

Well, 2016 finished me off mechanically!  My plan was to spend New Year with my son and his family in Kent and I set off in my car, on an icy, foggy, Friday morning.  I should have realised that I was fated when I went down the small hill near the house, applied the brakes and went into a skid, but luckily stopped before the main road.

Anyway the clutch was causing me problems and by the time I had been going about 45 minutes it stopped working altogether and so I coasted to a gentle halt on the busy A1 heading to London. Luckily the breakdown came quickly, told me that he couldn't do anything and so me and my car parted company!!!!  Me to be taken to the nearest train station and the car to be towed home to my garage for repair; in that order!  So that is how the weekend started but luckily improved very quickly and as I know my way around our train network I was soon at my son's home.

Next morning we all went to the pantomime in Canterbury to see Dick Whittington
Taken by my son with permission of the show

After lunch we looked round the outside of Canterbury Cathedral the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leading cleric of the Anglican Church. Unfortunately services were taking place so we couldn't go inside.
Taken from the theatre

The Christmas crib
I discovered that my daughter in law was in the 6th form of King's School, Canterbury whose buildings are in the grounds of the cathedral so she showed us around.

The Norman staircase built in 1153

View from the top
 The stairs of the staircase were very, very worn!   We loved this shop -
Look at the front door!!  The whole building has sagged
Finally before we left the Cathedral we looked at the figures in the niches.  Two I recognised
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh
but then I needed one other and my son found him -
Archbishop Chichele -
who was born in Higham Ferrers, the town next to mine.  Job done!

The weather changed for New Years Day as we headed out for a walk by the sea.  We had to change our plans because of this and it was also high tide.
We couldn't see France

though we did try with the binoculars!!

The other grand-daughter had scootered on ahead!

Sculpture using the old 'groynes' from the sea
It was cold, windy and wet as we walked along the new South Coast sea defences at Camber and I remembered that the last time I was there, the sun shone and the children played in the sand dunes!!  However it was very invigorating.

On the journey back home we passed this little church on the marshes that has been used for filming Great Expectations.
Fairfield Church
Very isolated.  Perhaps in better weather we could go and explore it.

Finally back at home, can I wish everyone a Happy New Year, with the hope that 2017 is full of laughter, friends and family and hobbies (in the loosest form) which for me is lots of 'craftiness'.  I am not making any resolutions but I do have a number of projects in the planning.  I hope that they all turn out as I envisage them!!