Thursday, 31 October 2013

Autumn Gardening

Daisy and I could have gone fellwalking today but we didn't.  Ever since I got back from Leeds I've felt quite bluuurgh with a low-level lurgy that's enough to make me feel like rubbish, but not enough to qualify as being properly poorly.  I knew if I went walking this morning it would turn into one of those 'lead legs' days; even walking around Harris Park on Tuesday was a struggle, and that's mostly flat.  Daisy was having one of those "full of beans" days so we went outside with shed keys and toys.  Keys for me, toys to try and burn off some of her excess energy. 

There's so much I want to do at this time of year:  rake up leaves, cut back perennials, move a few plants, plant bulbs, and much more.

We were making slow and steady progress (impeded by constantly stopping to throw the ball for Her Ladyship) until it started raining.  Not ordinary wet rain but cloudburst of biblical proportions raining. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Finished is better than perfect!

It's been a busy few days in The Shire, especially as a chunk of the busyness took place OUT of The Shire which is a fairly unusual occurrence.  I'm not entirely sure, but I have a feeling that last time I crossed the county boundary was 12 months ago ...  The middle and end of last week were a flurry of quilting; the Kona Bay top became a quilt and two small wall-hangings that I promised to quilt for my friend Sue had their time on the longarm.  Didn't take pictures of either but they are for a challenge-thingy so couldn't be shown yet anyway.

Thursday was Daisy's "Three Peaks Day" and Friday saw me heading down the A1(M) for a weekend of overdosing on talking, laughing and cake in the company of QuiltSue and Kath.  Our get-togethers always end too soon and this one ended earlier than planned.  The forecast apocalyptic storm had me heading for the motorway and Kath headed for a train after brekky on Sunday instead of much later in the day.  I was sad to leave but glad I went when I did - the drive over Bowes Moor and Stainton in driving rain and high winds was particularly unpleasant.

Thanks to help from Kath (who loves sewing bindings, mad woman) I came home with a bag of finished items.  None of them are perfect but Daisy doesn't mind :}  The 'Blue Blankie' looks like it's going to live in her bed under my sewing table as evidenced by the covering of dog hair and biscuit crumbs.

Christmas Drunkard's Path:  only I know where the quilting hiccup is and it won't show when the Christms Tree is standing on the quilt!

Table mats -a year ago this material was going to be a bag for my yoga mat.  Another one of those "great idea, never going to happen" plans.

I've pinned Random on the longarm but can't decide how to quilt it.  I really want to start piecing another of these "Random" quilts but I must quilt a few of the pieced tops backlog before I add to it any further.

Monday, 28 October 2013

"I want chocolate coins in mine"

Couldn't resist a little visit to Lakes Home Centre to see what interesting Christmas bits they are selling this year.  Apart from some new garlands for the kitchen there was very little to tempt a decoration junkie except for a couple of items.  Found these cute tree decorations, one each for Daisy and Management who declared "I want chocolate coins in mine". 

Also found these little tin hearts, but not in the Christmas section.  I'm going to separate them, dry-brush a little red on the embossed design and add some pretty ribbon. They should show up nicely against the dark branches of our tree.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

A "Three Peaks Day" for Daisy

I'm off to Yorkshire on Friday for a girlie weekend leaving Management and Little Miss Perfect for a quiet couple of days on their own and whilst M. will look after LMP beautifully, he won't be going on any major fellwalks. 

Regardless of the weather, one thing was always certain for today and that was Daisy and I would be going for a looong walk, however, the detail of the day was a up in the air until the 11th hour.  I planned a long, linear walk with my friend James but a b*ggered foot (his, not mine) put paid to that idea.  Plan B was greeted with glorious weather and Daisy and I set off from Braithwaite late morning.  By the time we got back to the car Madam had covered 5½ miles and a total of 1,865 feet of ascent.  She had overcome her dislike of water enough to do some bog-hopping and was muddy and tired.  Actually, there was no choice with the bog-hopping because of the route we took and both of us would have preferred not to get damp feet but sometimes these things can't be avoided!

The stats for the walk make our progress look pretty rubbish but that's because there was a huge amount of standing and just soaking up the view - and on a day like this, who wouldn't?  We were in no hurry to be anywhere and apart from seeing quite a few people on the top of Barrow we had nearly all the remainder of the route to ourselves.  Peaceful bliss :}

Forestry work has made the top of diminutive little Swinside look a right mess.

Climbing gently up Barrow a first glimpse of Coledale Hause and Force Crag Mine.

Slow progress upwards because I had to keep stopping to look behind me at Skiddaw and Blencathra, and Keswick and Derwent Water and the Penines!  I wasn't the only one enjoying myself ...

A close up of the house on Derwent Island (yours to rent for a mere £40K per annum) with the chimneys of Lingholm in the foreground.

A small (well, not so small nowadays) Four Legs seems to have taken to this fellwalking lark like the proverbial duck to water.

We went from Barrow across to Stile End- looking back at where we'd just come from.

Lousy photo of Daisy on Stile End with our next destination, Outerside, in the background.  Above her head, the path we'd take can be clearly seen.

Looking back to Low Moss which was always going to be pretty damp after the rain we've had recently but thankfully it's just water, not foul Mungrisdale Common-type-sucking-bog.

The walk up the steep north edge of Outerside was an absolute delight.  Completely deserted with a lovely path; it's how I remember most Lakeland paths being 20 years ago before millions of boots wore wide erosion scars across the ground.

The Mountain-Goat-also-known-as-Daisy took it all in her stride.

Outerside summit with Grisedale Pike in the background

On the way off Outerside she had a personal detour taking time to hunt in these rocks, I think she heard or smelt a mouse but never caught it.

All that remained now was a gentle walk back to Low Moss and an easy stroll back to the car.  At this point Daisy didn't know the day was going to end badly with another bath - Low Moss might not be very boggy but there's enough peat that she didn't smell too good.

Sadly there are no photos of the events which took place in my bathroom but I'll try to explain.  Daisy was made to endure a very quick wash in my bath which has a shower over it.  Once she was towel-dried I decided to have a quick shower myself keeping the bathroom door shut.  I figured it wouldn't hurt Madam to spend another five minutes in the room even though she absolutely hates it.

I jumped in the shower talking to her all the time to reassure our little girl that she wasn't really being tortured.  She sat for a while, then stood up, then sat down again, and suddenly through the shower screen I saw her deliberately get up on her back legs - left paw braced on the door jam, right paw carefully on the door handle.  If we didn't have smooth and slippery handles she'd have done it too ... I gently told her "no" so she sat down.  And seconds later tried it again.

This wasn't random or a frenzy of opportunist pawing.  Daisy knows how to open doors . . .  didn't see that one coming . . .

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Truly random patchwork is hard, in fact, it's almost impossible.  If you're piecing a scrappy quilt and (theoretically) grabbing whichever two bits of fabric come to hand next there is very soon a time when you go "nah, I don't like those two together" or "didn't I just sew this combination?" or some other reason to make decisions about which colour/pattern goes with another.  And then it's not random any more.

But I might just have nearly cracked it ...

Years ago I treated myself to more than a couple fabric rolls from Kim at 'Worn and Washed Fabrics'.  Irresistible eye candy which has sat on my shelf for years, far too nice to use.  Which is utterly stupid so this week I unrolled a bundle of 3" wide fabric.  After ditching the puke green pieces, and adding a pile of floral scraps I had this:

And exactly one hour later I had a strip which was 80 feet long.  With as much randomness as possible. but sticking to plain-patterned-plain-patterned I sewed short ends together trying hard not to look at the colours/patterns until I had used up every strip.

There followed much spray starch and ironing and then the fun began which, typically, I didn't take any pictures of.  Idiot.  Take opposite ends of the long strip, line up the short sides, and stitch the long side - a 40 foot long seam.  When you get to the bottom, just cut the 'loop' and open it out, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

In what can't have been much more than three hours I had a random pieced patchwork that had ended up approximately 60" x 40" and was ready for a damn good iron after I'd auditioned some floral borders.

It's not perfect and one or two of the plain fabrics aren't cotton so have distorted, wobbled and generally misbehaved.  Should have used more spray starch!  Teamed with a soft blue fleece it's going to make a really traditional cosy throw which, I suspect, Daisy and I will fight over ...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


Heavy, heavy rain overnight which didn't let up until the afternoon.  Not surprising that water was running down our road first thing doing a good impersonation of a small beck and Daisy was EXTREMELY unimpressed to be taken out for a small trip around the block.

However, the Bag End micro-climate came good later in the day and we enjoyed a couple of miles down by the river without a drop of rain, there was even brief moment of sunshine :}  It's not my favourite walk in the world, the A66 is ever present BUT it is safe for Daisy, within sight of the house and fairly quiet, and I shouldn't undervalue having this right on our doorstep.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Seal of Approval

She likes to sleep like this.  No really, it's how she has been for the last hour and a half . . .

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Not Only... But Also

Not only quilting today but also lovely trip out after lunch.  As is so often the case, the weather changed at lunchtime; a grey and nearly damp morning became a bright, fresh and quite sunny afternoon.

We had a brisk walk up Latrigg in shirt sleeves although my plan to sit around and enjoy the summit for a while fell through because it was damn chilly in the breeze.  Despite a jacket for me and a fleece coat for Daisy it wasn't warm enough to really linger.

Peaceful at the top:

Clear all the way from Clough Head to Helvellyn:

Zooming in on High Rigg and Castlerigg Stone Circle:

The forest path has been repaired (after a fashion) since our last visit:

It was still a super little walk and before supper I finished quilting the little Blue Blankie I started earlier in the day.  It's not perfect, the tension is a bit rubbish in places on the back but as this little quilt will spend its life on the floor or in a dog bed, I'm not unpicking anything.  In order not to waste the width of the backing fabric (fleece, Madam's favourite) I added quick borders to the top which was 54" square before I started quilting, suspect it will have pulled in a bit but Daisy won't mind :}

Clearly she sees no reason why it has to be trimmed and bound before it can be tried out:


Today I am ...

Daisy is disgusted that she is not the centre of attention this morning :}

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Two more 'half days'

Very productive Monday and Tuesday afternoons have seen both the main sections of lawn thoroughly 'aerated'.  The Mantis has aerator blades but they just slice the soil to a depth of about three of four inches (and probably slice numerous worms in half too).  The "LP attachment" is a patiently inserted fork to a depth of about ten inches, stones permitting.  In an ideal world we'd add a sandy top dressing but that can wait until next year.  What we've done is already more care than the lawn has received in the last decade or so.  I'm ignoring the creeping buttercup and clover ...

The next job on our list was trellis bordering the vegetable area.  It's almost a record that the posts for this only went in 177 days ago,  normally takes us much longer to get around to finishing something! LP cut and fixed timber and I painted it as we went.  Hateful job and by the end of Tuesday I was more than a little sick of black fence preservative but it's much easier to paint pre-cut lengths rather than a completed trellis.  Daisy just supervised :}

We had a huge delivery mid-afternoon - the timber for more raised beds.

The 3" posts fitted into the back of the Little Red Tractor but LP set to and moved every one of the 4.8m boards by hand.

Whilst he completed that herculean task I laid black membrane and moved more of our dwindling stock of bark chips.  That's a job which has only waited 107 days for me to get off my butt and finish!

That's it for LP for a couple of weeks, he's busy and I've got things to do and our free days don't coincide until the end of the month.