Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Did the earth move for you?

Up fairly early today, minding my own business with an early cup of tea and the computer when BANG!  Sounded and felt like a car had crashed into the side of the house, although my brain knew that was impossible.  I checked the freezers and solar panel inverter which are the nearest bits of 'kit' to where I was sitting but everything looked OK.  The boiler was on and the radiators warming up, so I shook my head and made a mental note to check the British Geological Survey website a bit later.

And so it is that we had a "bit of an event" at 07.33 this morning.

It beggars belief that there are still people who want to bury nuclear waste under Ennerdale, a mere 10km (6 miles) from the site of today's earthquake.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Kate's photo challenge - February 2018

Joining in with the lovely and talented Kate at I live, I love, I craft, I am me

Last month was far too easy and although I know this is not the case, the word list could have been devised just for me.  I have not found this month to be quite as straightforward

1.     White:  Whoever thought I'd be "white van (wo)man?

2.      Metal:  The Via Ferrata at Honister where we 'celebrated' M's 60th.

3.      Camouflage:  

I struggled with this one for so long I eventually decided to do the sensible thing - stop trying.

4.      "J":  Well, that would be me then

5.     Bud:  Should be easy at this time of year but difficult to choose just one.  I've gone for a my favourite hedging - common laurel.  It is unfashionable and generally overlooked, but for us it grows really well, acts as a great windbreak, looks good and provides wonderful habitat for birds.

I'm going to make life easy for myself and the answer to this one is going to be the same each month, 😊

6.      Own choice - it has to be our beautiful, clever, funny, adorable Little Miss Perfect.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A bubble bath with my name on it

The last two days have been a bit manic.

The weather is fabulous - dry, sunny, not too cold, and Spring is approaching with the usual speed of an out-of-control Hogwarts locomotive.  I think I say that every year, so why am I always surprised when all of a sudden the garden announces it is no longer mid-winter?

Since Saturday our ponds have been the sites of frenetic orgies of the Rana temporaria kind, which will get a post all of it's own. More than two weeks earlier than last year at one point I counted nearly 100 frogs in the Big Pond alone.

I am determined to get around the perimiter of the garden and sort out the hedges and having started on the laurel which fronts the cottage garden, it was time for the big hedge the other side of our drive.    50 hawthorn whips were planted in July 2011 (wonderful - no way I would be able to recall that without the Blog archive 🙂 ) but have had minimal attention since.

We removed the windbreak netting in March 2016 so I had access to the hedge - it was scheduled for "laying" and was already five or six feet tall but for reasons which are already lost to the mists of time, that's another job which did not happen.

The job was on the agenda for LP before he left last year, but of course it didn't happen.  So Management and I set to and have had two long and exhausting days but it's done.

I don't think my effort would win any prizes and doesn't follow a proper regional style, but I'm not trying to keep cattle in, just create a dense boundary that will not only look nice but filter the wind and provide all sorts of interesting habitats for our wildlife.

In places, cutting away surplus tangled growth to find one leader to splice and lay was a mite tricky . . .

Thanks to my very old and tattered waxed coat and the height of sartorial elegance - the chainsaw helmet - most of my body has been remarkably damage free, but hawthorn thorns are the nastiest, most painful, sharpest little sods in the garden and my hands have taken a beating.  I tried chainsaw gloves, thick leather ski gloves and eventually an old pair of Management's motorbike gloves but still got stabbed and damaged on countless occasions.🚑

Management was an absolute HERO.  Whilst I stayed on the top of the wall fighting with rampant growth that would have taken my eye out if it had the chance, he picked up all the debris and shredded every last bit.  He said on Tuesday night that he felt he'd not done much and that I had taken on most of the work.  B*ll*cks darling.  Picking up hawthorn and shredding it is at least two-thirds of the job.  Thank you, sweetie  💕

I'll give the hedge a good feed in a couple of weeks, once the forecast mini Ice Age has been and gone, and then it is just fingers crossed that we have a good growing season this year.

It will come as no surprise that at the end of the afternoon there was a deep bubble bath with my name on it.  Before bed there will be a couple of ibuprofen similarly labelled!

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 . . .