Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Wow 10,000 hits!

Before I start this blog I must thank everyone who looks at my blog as I have now reached the staggering total of over 10,000 hits. When I started writing this in February 2014 I wondered what would happen and I never envisaged this number in a year. Thank you, thank you every one of you wherever you are in the world - the UK, USA, France, Germany, Argentina, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, India etc - and the latest Singapore. I get so excited when I see all these different countries and I am hoping that you all find what I write about interesting.

But back to the blog and last time I was not happy because my car broke down and I missed seeing my family. Well early Monday morning, in the rush hour, I drove slowly, nursing the car round every corner and over every bump, to be repaired. Women drivers tend to have a reputation of not knowing what goes on under the bonnet (hood in USA), but on this occasion I had a very good idea of what was damaged and I was right!! Expensive to repair but it was done in a day and I collected it late Monday afternoon. Having an enforced day at home and missing my regular weekly Nordic walk, I managed to get on with a few crafty things.

Do you remember in the blog about my crocheted Duffel Bag, I mentioned I was making a basket: well it is finished and if I made another it may need some refinements, but I am pleased with the overall effect.

I have worked from three different patterns - the base came from a pattern Hoooked Zpagetti and this gave me the basic pattern.  I started with 40 chain using the rug wool  and crocheted the base in double crochet (dc) (English terms) and finally when I thought the base was big enough at about 13 inches (33 cms) I worked dc into the back of the loop below so that I could start building the sides. The sides were the same treble clusters from the duffel bag pattern.  
Not entirely satisfied with the base as it is wavy!! Good outside rim though.
The sides are about 10 inches high (25.5 cms) and I just crocheted on until I thought I had done enough.

Finally, using the Jolly Chunky Bag pattern from Attic24 I made the scalloped edge and bag handles. The finishing touches were the little flowers from the same website.

So here is my Tah Dah moment - 

Front - A little 'full' round the base, but aren't we all!! 
The back
I was going to line it but have had second thoughts and have filled it instead, with the odd scraps of yarn that we all have left. I shall also be taking it to quilt shows as a second shopping bag!!!!

Oh and by the way, next weekend I shall be having a second go at getting to Cambridge for either lunch or supper.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A big disappointment

Well readers, you are lucky to get a post from me today, but this is only because of a big disappointment this morning. I had decided to go Cambridge to work on the kitchen garden and more importantly bring back some leeks and purple sprouting broccoli for myself and stay for Sunday lunch.

However I drove off down the road to hear a clanking sound from somewhere in the car. I have a suspicion that it might be the suspension but I definitely could not drive to see my son and so round the block I went back home. It will mean a slow trip to the garage tomorrow morning and it could be expensive!!

I was really looking forward to my day out as it would have ended a very enjoyable weekend on a high.

On Friday I went Nordic walking from Souldrop and it had rained hard the day before -
Very muddy
Sticking to the drier parts
That is better
I decided to wear my very heavy boots as I know they are completely waterproof and I am glad I did. We ended the walk with a lovely lunch at the Bedford Arms. It was a good day.

Yesterday was a 50+ Adventure Club activity that I had organised and though I did not plan to take part I was very tempted!! The group were going Roller Blading and when I got there I discovered that they also had roller skates and I remembered doing this when I was about 10 or 11 years of age!! I had loved it then but decided that though they provided wrist support, knee and elbow protection I wouldn't just in case I fell over - I know, I am a coward!!  
Roller skates
Roller blades 
Slow and steady to start with!
By the end of the session they were all whizzing round (well almost), though there had been a few spills on the way AND I didn't envy them one bit!!

Anyway I better get on with some sewing/embroidery/crochet in lieu of a Lovely Sunday Lunch and have a dry crust of bread instead - only joking.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

A sensory 'quilt'

This is our charity month at Higham Piecemakers and this year we have been asked to make sensory quilts for those who are suffering from Dementia or Alzheimers. We were told that these people often 'fidget' with their hands and it is useful for them to play with an apron or lap quilt.

After searching online I found this useful website that had some good ideas and I raided my bit bag, which is full of all those useless things that may come in useful one day!

I found this - 
Furry dead cat complete with tail??!!!!!

 and this -
Elasticated gold 'something' used for tying up a present!!
 and this - 
From a pack of items that I got from the RNIB
The last photo is a piece of stiff plastic that was part of a bag full of different textures that I bought at the RNIB shop in London.

I laid them all out and then decided what to do with them. I was mindful that constant fiddling with the quilt might cause them to fall off and that the quilt would need washing, probably with not too much care!

The 'dead cat' (not really - I was given it as it might come in useful one day!) could not be sewn as it is leather and I didn't think my poor sewing machine would be able to cope with it and it would also fare very badly in a washing machine, so this would need to be treated differently. Luckily it had some tape attached at the top so I widened this with another piece of webbing and then sewed on some velcro. It can be removed for washing. It is actually a lovely soft piece of fur and I enjoyed running my fingers through it.

I made a pocket from seersucker fabric trimmed with lace sewn on very securely -
Great textured seersucker
and a zip set into soft woolly type fabric - 

Everything was sewn onto the fabric including some ties so that it could be used as an apron.

If you look in my last post you will see a small buckle type 'thing' - well that was put on some webbing and sewn on. I had bought a large button and so decided to make a loop from the elasticated gold band but made the loop smaller than the button so it could be stretched over the button. Someone might enjoy pulling this giant rubber band!

Stretchy band securely attached
The webbing and 'movable buckle
I decided that the plastic panel should have a picture under it and as this was being worn as an apron the picture should be sewn on upside down so that the wearer could see it the right way up.
A 'spotty' Dalmatian dog
Here is the final apron and I am really pleased with it.

I used a backing fabric and with right side of fabric together sewed the edges, after everything was sewn on, and leaving a hole at the top and then turned it through and top stitched round the edges. I also top stitched round each of the items for extra strength.

A simple item that I hope will give pleasure to someone who needs it and I made it in a day! There were some lovely ideas at group, so please go to the website to see more.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Good news out of bad news

Friday morning was Crochet class and after we had had a 'Show and Tell' session and started crocheting, we were advised that we could no longer meet at Poppy Patch. However with a little lateral thinking we sorted the problem and will now meet in each others homes. It does have a down side though; we have to limit numbers as we are currently a group of about 10 or 11.

Anyway I showed off my blanket made with wool from Attic24 and the pattern from Little Woollie.  It took me a long time but I thoroughly enjoyed making it and it is soooo heavy!!

Anyway here it is, not perfect, but I love it:-

I finished my Duffel bag with a drawstring and back straps. It was made from a pattern that our teacher J, had written and rug wool from Yarndale.

 It stands about 12" (30 cms) high and the base measures about 10" (25 cms) across. I crocheted treble clusters up the side and the base is a hexagon in double crochet. (English crochet terms) The drawstring is over 120 chains with two rows of double crochet and the straps were made from Attic24's crochet bag.
I added the two back straps so that I can use the bag when I go cycling and the group thought it might glow in the dark!!  I will be lining it though just to be on the safe side, as I don't want to lose a lipstick or anything else small.

I am currently working on a crocheted basket of my own design that may or may not be shown, depending on how it works out, but it uses up the rug wool!!

At Higham Piecemakers on Wednesday I spent the whole evening sewing hundreds of French Knots on my embroidery and I still haven't finished!!

We have our project day this week at Higham Piecemakers - all day for Monday ladies and evening for Wednesdays. We will be making 'Sensory Blankets/Aprons' for people with Dementia. I am working on it at the moment and this will feature on my next blog, but as a taster I am showing a little item that I picked up when I visited a new fabric warehouse, the Mill Shop, that the group have been raving about. I did buy quite a lot of fabric though!!
It only cost 20p and is very small

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Is Spring around the corner?

I went on my usual Monday morning Nordic walk, dressed for cold weather, but after walking at a fast speed, I had taken off my gloves and jacket and rolled up my jumper sleeves to show BARE arms. The sun shone and it was glorious.  As usual we walked though Stanwick Lakes where the paths are good, then over the River Nene at one of the locks, across the fields (which were wet and boggy) to Little Addington, through the village, and across the fields again back to Stanwick Lakes; in all a walk of 7 miles.

I did take a few photos early on when the frost was still around. I love the sun 

shining through trees which gives the ice a striped effect.

We particularly liked the effect of the ice here as it looks like a speed bump in the road with its sloping sides. A very strange phenomena. There was a heron walking among the dried grass in the background but was too far away to photograph even with my zoom.

Further on we looked out for the swans who gather early in the morning, in enormous numbers on this field of oil seed rape. They must eat the young plants.

Swans, but not as many as usual.
We also saw large flocks of Canada and Barnacle Geese feeding in the same field. Not sure what the crop yield will be this summer!!

Yesterday was my day for looking after baby Will in Bedford, and what a change from last week, when he was a poorly little boy. Very active and chatting away all the time in gobbledygook and only one dirty nappy all day - phew!! Although I went to school in Bedford, that was many years ago and so I am still feeling my way around. I decided to visit Waitrose for my free cup of coffee but it took me an hour to walk there as it was much further away than I thought! However DISASTER, they have just stopped the free coffee and you now have to buy a larger cup (or upgrade in Waitrose speak!) or a bun. Well after all that walking my option was a bun of course!!

Luckily I have now discovered that there is a bus route outside Will's house that goes to Waitrose, so I can use my free bus pass which is brilliant. In the afternoon I needed to find a bank - sorted, post a letter - sorted, buy a lipstick - sorted and so we walked home via a very nice little museum. My philosophy is that you cannot start too early with a little culture and though Will showed little interest in anything, he did enjoy he interactive dinosaur pictures. When summer comes along we might be able to walk up the Castle mound as it was originally a Motte and Bailey castle.

Embroidery class today and I have started making hundreds of French Knots. I will show and tell when finished!!

Sunday, 8 February 2015


I love making floor cushions for children as I have this rosy picture of little ones sitting on them whilst watching TV, having stories read to them or even sleeping on them. Whether this actually happens, I am not sure!!  What I do know is that whenever my own grandchildren opened the very large parcel, they often fell straight on to them as they are so soft.

My youngest great nephew, baby Will, is going to be one in a few weeks time and this is when his cushion is due. I have a few ideas for the design, but like most of my projects the ideas will go round and round for a long time and then I will make it very quickly.

Here are a few photos of those already made:-

For the twin boys -

These 'transport' designs were taken from this book or the follow up book.

For two of my grand-daughters I decided on animals -

..and again for a great-niece but I appliqued the bear (I think!!)

This one is slightly different as I printed photos of J onto fabric and the other squares are log cabin, using lots of different children's fabrics which I love!

Now for the really complicated ones. A 'Mr Men' cushion using a technique I may have mentioned before and that I call back side applique. I draw the picture onto muslin or calico and then build up the picture sewing from the back. I do not cut anything away so there is a 3-D effect.

For a great nephew
Using the same technique for my grandson, it was the most complicated one I had ever done as there were so many small pieces and it was difficult getting the picture the right size for the blocks. This cushion is 8 years old so forgive any dirty marks as it is well loved!

I try to make everyone different and this is crazy patchwork using scraps of children's fabrics.

However if I see any lovely panels I will use these:-
For a granddaughter
 I used free motion quilting for both of these.

Dinosaurs for a great nephew
So watch this space for Will's cushion and I will try and take pictures as I go along.

Last night I went to a quiz in my sister's village and as I picked up my car from her home afterwards, an owl flew over very low hooting as it went and landed in one of her mature trees, where it carried on hooting before it flew back again.  I have NEVER heard one at first hand like this so this was a first for me - so exciting!!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


A couple of blogs ago, I mentioned that I was going to have a 2 hour taster learning workshop on the ukulele with the 50+ Adventure Club and Market Harborough Ukulele Group led by Ali. Oh I was so uncoordinated! However the lesson was extremely professionally set up with each of us having a songbook and ukulele and after having practiced the strumming we then learnt some chords. Luckily these were set out in picture form and we had to move from one chord to the other, strumming at the same time!!  Easy you may think, with pictures!! Hah, hah. I couldn't get the strumming right and instead of using my index finger I had to use my thumb, that meant I could only strum down and not up but by the end I had mastered the index finger - so lesson learnt.

We played AND SANG Singing in the Rain (easy version) and then again (difficult version), Clementine, Just wanna dance the night away, We all smell good on Sunday (didn't know this one), Jambalaya and finished with Da Doo Ron Ron.
Trying to look professional!!
I posed for this picture but realise that I was strumming in the wrong place - you don't do it over the hole but further up the fret!!  

Now to the crafty bit:-

Yellow wool demonstrating the hole
I have just finished this 'useful pot to put things in'. Actually it is for keeping wool in when knitting or crocheting and as you can see the wool comes through a hole in the side and the top is closed over to prevent the ball coming out. It really works. There is also a dip in the top edge of crochet for your knitting needles to rest - so ingenious. I started the pot here.  J handed out the pattern at a crochet lesson.

If you look carefully there is another strand coming through the hole and this is almost the end of another project with the rug wool. I hope to finish this in time for crochet lesson next week.
I hope they will be straps!!
The Christmas Challenge 2014 mentioned at the end of this blog is on course but I am doing free machine embroidery and the thread keeps BREAKING!! So annoying, but after consulting friends, I am going to use a metallic thread needle as it has an elongated eye, that should prevent this happening. Hope it works as there is a lot to do, but if not I will have to buy some embroidery needles which I do not have. This book is in constant use on these occasions and I swear by it and Dawn has autographed it for me!!

Finally a quick update on other sewing - 
Embroidery progressing slowly but steadily
I am enjoying this but couldn't master the 'feather' stitch very well, so need some tuition for the leaf on the right hand side. I am pleased with the 'bullion knots' on the other side as I have never done these before and I learnt out of my book

Smocking of the Christmas bauble is nearly finished and I have another fabulous project to start, but this is Top Secret!!