Sunday, 18 February 2018

Happy puppy, tired puppy

Quick trip this morning to the sand dunes . . . someone did far more running about than is probably good for her but she was extremely happy.   The tide was out and there was an awful lot of sky, strangely, there wasn't a drop of wind so no waves and almost complete silence - lovely.

Daisy came home, had some food and half a dose of Loxicom and slept all afternoon.  Not a bad life    ☺️  

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

I have a dream . . .

I have a dream, and for once it is a totally achievable one.  I know this because I've done it before so I can do it again.  The dream is not to have any quilt tops which are completely sewn together but languish unquilted on a shelf.  Around 2005 or 2006 I started the year with my sewing room in its usual unholy mess and decided I wasn't going to begin anything new until I had quilted up all the tops which were hanging around.  Took me months but I got there and it was a great feeling to have a backlog of unfinished work off the shelves.

At present the "Shelf of Shame" does not look too bad, but one particular top has been here for over seven years.  In my defence, I have been terrified to the point of paralysis of messing it up, which is why it's not yet quilted . . . that is probably no consolation at all to the dear friend who made it for me and sent it from America to celebrate my 50th birthday.

This time around there are not nearly the same number of items waiting to be completed, and I have made a start with two Christmas-themed quilt tops which, frankly, I didn't care for any more and was on the verge of 'gifting' to a charity shop but Management suggested I quilt them up as practise, and if successful they could become tablecloths.

September 2013 - where does time go?

This one's been around four years:

As a covering for our little kitchen table it does not need those big borders, so I sat and removed the fabric which is a favourite and has gone back in the stash for a second go-round.

The weather forecast this week was definitely in favour of staying indoors and sewing. 🌨 ❄️☃️  
I pinned on a backing for the star quilt on Monday and on Tuesday I not only quilted it but made one of our bulk casseroles for the freezer, and did a couple of loads of laundry, so that was a productive day 😊.   I used a new Hermione Agee pattern - Bountiful Feathers.  Looks quite nice now it is done but wasn't a pleasant pattern to sew, it was difficult to get a smooth rhythm going as there are some very 'jagged' changes in the design, really not sure if I will ever use it again.

The thread, on the other hand, was a revelation.  I am normally a 'cotton purist' when quilting but as there was a chance this top might find itself wrapped around engine parts in the garage I did not want to waste "the good stuff".  Out came a spool of polyester 'Rainbows' (Superior Threads) - what a result.

Wednesday brought more 'seasonal' weather with a disgusting forecast for the middle of the day:

Perfect excuse to make up a quick backing, load everything onto the machine and get quilting.  This time round the pattern was Cloud Nine by Patricia Ritter and it's currently my favourite pantograph 😊. Sewed up beautifully, lovely flow and rhythm and behaved really well.

As this quilt top was nearly out of the door there was nothing to lose by trying 'risky' thread and I used a cone of Superior Metallic;  Riddikulus as Professor Lupin would say!  Worked perfectly from the off, didn't even have to adjust tensions.

So in three days I have turned two probably-reject-quilt-tops into quilts  and done my self-confidence no end of good.  Just need a few more rubbish weather days so I can tackle the bindings, and maybe whatever is next to come off the Shelf of Shame.

The Most Important Four Paws has not been forgotten or ignored during all this quilty activity.  It is just she has been otherwise occupied:

Monday, 12 February 2018

Sorting the stash

Well that took far longer than I wanted it to - but the fabric stash has been (nearly) completely reorganised and makes much more sense now. At the outset I wanted to get all the scraps and small pieces in one place so that I could make blocks like these:

These crazy/scrappy blocks are by Wanda Hanson - absolutely drop-dead-gorgeous with extra cherries!

Strips, squares, tiny left-over bits - and by the weight of this stack of boxes, a considerable amount of fabric!  (Ignore the top two boxes - more projects.)

But then it seemed like a good idea to put all the FQs together so that I could make some quick quilts to use up the smaller pieces of yardage.

Which worked in that the shelves look lovely and inviting, only I got severely distracted and both embarrassed & disheartened by the number of not-finished projects I unearthed, so Management has 'lent' me loads of storage boxes which normally house model-making kits.  I am telling myself they are 'his' boxes and have to be returned so that I get a move on with the projects and don't have them sitting around for years. *

All the batik fabric, which had migrated into the main stash has been sorted out and put together because in reality it doesn't play nicely with 'regular' quilting fabric so I might as well keep the two tribes apart.  Of course, seeing all the batiks in one place makes me want to start cutting strips for another Trip Around the World!

So I have gone from half a dozen boxes of small scraps, to wanting to use up the FQs, to wanting to finish the old projects, to wanting to dive into at least three brand new ideas .....

Sheesh **.

Then there is the entire shelf of tops completed but not quilted.  I pulled out two and spent a few hours deciding I no longer particularly liked them and for a while they were in danger of being shipped off to a charity shop. Management suggested I use them as tablecloths, what a smart man; I have some new pantograph patterns to try out and they will be perfect to experiment on.

Providing I can keep my itchy fingers away from a new project or three!

*  There was extreme photo-bombing  . . .

**  There is, very intentionally, no picture of the increasingly large pile of clothing related alterations that's currently sitting on the floor . . .

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Hidden History

Mentioning the Mawbray Arrows on yesterday's blog made me realise there are a couple of other historical gems near the dunes, and although I have photos, they never made it to the blog before now.

Our route to yesterday's walk takes you along the B3500, known to everyone here as "the coast road".  About half-way between Maryport and Allonby is Milefortlet 21. This is just one of the series of forts built by the Romans every mile between Ravenglass and Newcastle, although for the last 84 miles (from Bowness on Solway) the forts run cross-country instead of up the coast.  You will know that stretch as Hadrian's Wall 😊

We normally drive straight past, parking is very limited* and the walk is extremely short, but one day last summer we did stop.

As with so many sites like this, there is not a huge amount to see, but enough that if you use your imagination you can spend a few minutes wondering what it might have been like for Roman soldiers at the edge of the empire.

Looking in the other direction and peeping over a bramble-filled hedge, more history but this time far more recent.

*  Thanks to Google Maps, this satellite picture shows both the fort and the remaining salt pan.  Parking is available for about 3 or 4 cars at Crosscanonby Nature Reserve.  The apparent parking on the beach side of the road is no longer there.  Recent storms have eroded the land and whilst you can get a car off the road I wouldn't recommend it.

Unfortunately the salt pan won't last much longer - local men remember when there was so much land between the beach and the road there were two football pitches just down the road from here.  As the photo shows, that is definitely no longer the case.

Friday, 9 February 2018

A very tired little girl

Busy day - early start to get into Keswick to order a new headband for my Petzl torch, stop at the farm for eggs, then Cockermouth: a sack of kibble for Daisy, trip to the butchers, Sainsbury's and the hardware store.  Back home for a quick lunch and then straight out again - it was such a beautiful day it would have felt wrong to stay inside.

Daisy and I took the campervan to Mawbray for a short walk on the grassy dunes.  Last week when I came here she ran about like a thing possessed and was completely worn out for at least three days.  Today I tried to keep her calm but there was still far more running about than she usually does.

Even though I cut her walk short I know she's going to be knackered tomorrow.

That's quite close enough to the beach for both of us; whilst I enjoy the views I really do not think it would both me if I never saw the sea again.  What, you didn't know I was strange?  Where have you been . . . ?

The 'Mawbray Arrows' have recently been cleaned up, they are all that remains of a WWII bombing range.  There are some fascinating things around here if you know where to look.

It was a lovely afternoon to be out, snow covered fells to the south-east and Criffel to the north-west.

Back at the van and despite a drink and a bonio, Madam seemed reluctant to settle down whilst I had a coffee but she endured her confinement fairly gracefully.