Saturday, 31 March 2018

Scruffy and unruly

Here's one I made earlier . . . or rather, here is something I did the best part of a month ago but never managed to write about.

Scruffy and unruly is a description which could reasonably be given to me much of the time, but on this occasion I am referring to the long laurel hedge which fronts the garden.

After a ludicrous amount of hedge cutting early in February there was a lot of cogitating after which I decided "that will do for now".  The pruning is not perfect, there are some very unruly sections and overall the shape is pretty scruffy but it is loads better than before I started.  I am sure this level of finish would not suit most of our neighbours who all seem to want their gardens managed to within a millimetre but I don't really care.

A month later, and Management helped me lower the self-sown yew in the middle of the Cottage Garden which was far too tall. It is never a surprise to find another nest in this garden and I am always sad to disturb them, but we are early enough that no-one has arrived to reoccupy it.

We then moved on to the evergreen section next to the hawthorn, soon beat that into submission!

Management was on shredding duty:

And then some potentially unsafe stretching and leaning to deal with the laurels by the Big Pond deck which, along with the wisteria, are growing like things possessed.

Small Person made sure she got her fair share of my time and attention outside:

And inside makes sure she's vey comfy!   It might have been lovely in the sun, but it's still bloomin' nippy at night.

I left the TV in the photo, rather the cropping it out, to remind me what has been taking up my nightly hour of television between supper and bed.  I am probably the last person on the planet to have discovered 'Box Sets' catch up as part of our Sky package and since Christmas have been watching 'Elementary' from the very beginning.  It's rather enjoyable ๐Ÿ™‚

Friday, 30 March 2018

Kate's photo challenge - March 2018

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

1.     Hole:   I still look back on that weekend and shake my head in slight amazement that we actually did what we did, and on a scale that is frankly ludicrous for a domestic garden.  If you're new to Bag End, or you want a reminder of just how mad we can be:
this is the link for Day One,
this is the link for Day Two,
and this is the link for filling the hole we spent so long digging!

2.     Making:  Harder for me than you might think - I am (nearly) always in the middle of making something so it was hard to choose.  In the end, I decided to wait until yesterday, and just photograph whatever was on the sewing room table.

March has not been a good "quilty" month, and for most of it my table has looked like this, perhaps it should be titled "Making a Mess".  I am in the middle of numerous things - trying to 'relearn' how to sew freehand feathers (hence large sheets of paper & a big pencil sharpener, and the quilt top for which they are destined pulled off the Shelf of Shame), a bag to cover the top of my tripod, rebuilding/stocking the 'spares' boxes for the caravan and campervan, the huge tub contains velcro, zips and all sorts of haberdashery nonsense and hasn't been put away since I made some luggage straps for the 'spares' boxes. And so it goes on, in truth, my sewing space looks like this more often than not

3.     Reading Now:   Another hard one - when I am not making something I am reading something!  A picture of my Kindle seemed like a cop-out, so here is a real book which has got a lot of attention from me since it was published at the beginning of the month.

4.    Black & White:   I used a B&W photo last month, so for this challenge I've included a photo of a section of a small quilt I made years ago using black & white fabric.  (There is a reason for picking this one, hopefully I will get to that in April!)

5.    "H" is for Horticulture:  I have always gardened, grown things, and Bag End is the lovely culmination of a lifetime getting my nails split and fingers dirty in soil.  As a teenager I wanted to study at the local Agricultural College but it was not allowed (I was told "that is blue collar work and this family does not do that", yeah, still pissed about that . . . )

I'm not really one for poetry, but there is a line in this piece by Ralph Waldo Emerson which feels good:

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of the intelligent people
 and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics
 and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty;

to find the best in others; 

to leave the world a bit better
 whether by a healthy child,
 a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition;

to know that one life has breathed easier 
because you lived here.

This is to have succeeded.

6.     Own choice: sticking with "feels good",  (OK, so 2 lines from the poem!)   I know there is one life that has breathed much easier because Management and I lived here.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Decade two, day one

I had planned on getting into the garden today;  the fruit cage desperately needs weeding & feeding and the roof net tightening up.  The Weather Gods had other ideas - whilst it was not raining (for once, hurrah!) the wind was bitterly, bitterly cold and if it were not for the necessity of taking Daisy out for walks then I might not have stepped outside all day.

Plan B involved fabric, and once I had cleaned, oiled and warmed up the longarm machine I turned it off.  Just not in the mood.

Instead I messed around with stuff that didn't have to be perfect or straight and made some carry bags to use in Bill.  A big one for my very bulky sleeping bag:

And smaller ones for my pillow and dirty laundry.

In March 2004 I made this little quilt for Timeless Treasures.  Crappy photo but it is the best I have.

I made a few quilts for them back in the day to showcase new fabric lines, and not only did they pay me well for the work but always were very generous in the yardage they supplied.  The big perk was getting to keep anything I didn't use on the show quilt.  At the time I enjoyed making that quilt and wanted one for myself, I now have to admit that I am never going to make it but already have some of the pieces cut:

As it is still one of my favourite fabric lines of all time, I didn't want to waste the material, so a couple of hours mindless piecing has produced:

Which could be cut down to make little Four Patch blocks, or cut differently to make Hourglass blocks - haven't decided yet.  Who knows, they may sit for another 14 years before I make any more progress . . .

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Bulbs and a birthday

Would you like to join me for a slice of virtual celebratory cake?  Coffee and walnut for me please . . .

I have been wittering on about gardens, dogs, quilts and goodness knows what else for TEN YEARS.  A whole decade . . . strewth, you'd think I would have run out of things to say by now -  Happy Birthday Bag End blog!

Finally 'extracted the digit' and have planted up all my summer/autumn flowering bulbs.

Bulbs are subject to extreme duress at Bag End, if the bloody mice don't eat them then endlessly wet summers and winters will cause them to rot to nothing, so we are not talking High Horticulture here, this is cheapie bags from Wilkinsons bought on impulse (apart from the Agapanthus - have already had good success with these from Wilko so thought I would try again).

I find the best way to bring on bulbs here is to pot them up and then choose their final position once the plant is established and growing strongly, I think this give them more of a chance than popping straight into the soil.   Three of my cold frames are temporarily sitting in the veg patch until Management builds me a steel bench-type-thingy in the nursery area to raise them off the ground with overflow in the net house.  Certainly makes lifting and watering easier when they are not at toe level . . .

The packaging is here purely for my benefit because it is the only way I have the remotest chance of remembering what I've done ๐Ÿ˜Š

Tuesday, 13 March 2018


How often does someone ask you a question and you give an answer which is acceptable, rather than completely truthful?

The truth is that both Management and I had a great time last weekend, him doing astronomy stuff at Bellingham and me & Daisy doing not very much at home.  Management was able to go in and out of the van all evening, and much of each night, without worrying about disturbing me, and in the morning get up and have a slow start at a pace which suited him.

Daisy and I putzed around the house, I didn't do any of the gardening I intended, we went to bed very early and got up around 7.00ish each morning and had a lovely relaxing time.  There was sitting around reading, there was sitting around doing not much at all, there was even a little sitting in the sun:

And so it was this morning, after his shower Management asked me "So, what are we doing?"   As the Kielder Star Camp starts tomorrow the answer he expected was "we'll sort food first, then load the astronomy stuff into my car" or something like that.

But for once I didn't do the expected wifely thing and tell him what he expected to hear.  I told him the truth.  The truth was my back hurt, I'd had a lousy night, and I didn't want to go to Star Camp this Spring.  And you know what - he was fine, bless him; he didn't say "oh but you'll love it when you get there"  or  "but I don't want to go without you".  We had a chat and I admitted that whilst I never want to stop looking at the stars on a still, dark night and trying to get my head around how infinitesimally small and insignificant we are, I REALLY like my astronomy in daylight hours when the sun is shining and it's warm!

Modern astronomy is complicated, it is full of kit that needs to be fettled with, and modified, and customised, and adapted, and played with, and in the main - it's a boy thing.  I get so flippin' bored standing around waiting for some bit of software to allow itself to be coaxed into co-operating with another bit of software and then having cloud move in just as we're finally all set up . . .

Management, on the other hand, is a born fettler - he should have been a wealthy Victorian inventor.  He delights in seeing how things work, and if he can make them work better (most of the time he can), and has endless patience with it all.  He is also a night owl of the First Order and quite happy to go to bed at 3.00am.  Trouble is, you can't go to bed at 3.00am in a caravan without waking anyone who might already be asleep in said caravan.  And that particular person (me) has as much chance of then getting back to sleep as a snowball in a sea of flames.   And that particular person (me) wants to get up at 7.00am, put the kettle on, open the curtains and have something to eat.

The truth is that it's a whole big bag of incompatibility, and testament to how well we get on that we've successfully been to many previous Star Camps together๐Ÿ˜Š

So to get back to where this all started, we did sort the food first, and then load the astronomy stuff into my car.  Everything was set nicely for an early start tomorrow when he got a Facebook message from one of his friends "I'm at Kielder, sitting outside in the sunshine".  I won't repeat exactly what M. said, but the end result was, knowing the campsite was open and we had a pitch reserved from tomorrow morning, he set off at 4.00pm.  I've never seen my car and caravan like this - it has always been me driving up to now.

He should have arrived by now and be getting the caravan level on its pitch, collecting water, and thinking about supper.  Daisy and I will soon be doing the same (minus the levelling and water stuff!)


Edit:  I knew staying home was the right thing.  Confirmed 200% when he showed me some of his photographs.  This is the dash cam as he was getting ready to leave:

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Envious? Hmm, maybe a little bit

At midday Daisy and I waved Management off for an astronomy weekend in the wilds of Northumberland.  Bill's fridge is fully packed with edibles, the back of the van was fully packed with visibles (astronomy gear).

I confess to feeling a tad envious whilst I was helping him load everything up.  Thanks to life-being-too-busy-for-it’s-own-good and The Weather Gods, although we have taken Bill out for lots of day trips there has never been a sleepover.  I had a solo trip to Scotland planned for last month but the weather completely horlixed that.  We have agreed that as soon as the van is free of telescopes and tripods, I shall be heading off on my own for a couple of nights.

Daisy viewed the packing with distinct suspicion.

But feeling envious as I watched M. and Bill head off didn’t last long. The sun is shining so I will be heading off into the garden; Daisy and I have a busy time planned with bulbs to be planted and later on, or maybe tomorrow, I have some fiddling and fettling to do on the longarm machine so I can quilt a “finish” for March.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

February finishes

Spring is racing up to meet me with alarming speed.  Somehow, from somewhere I have picked up the idea of having at least one quilty finish each month.  I know it is going to be hard to maintain that once the weather improves and the garden beckons but if I don't try then I am guaranteed to fail.  I succeeded in February but am late posting the proof that they are completely finished - the month caught me out on more than one occasion by being shorter than I expected!   Considering that at one point both of these tops were headed for the nearest charity shop, they have actually turned into decent little quilts.

Trimmed and pinned:

Binding machined to front on both quilts:

And hand-finished to the back:

I am still not sure how much I like either of them, but they're done and off my Shelf of Shame (as Susan calls it ☺️)

This one was made because I was joining in with lots of other bloggers, and the designer is a friend of a friend, but I don't think I was ever properly invested in it.

These blocks started out with high falutin' plans.   They came from a Carol Doak book and are goodness knows how old.  I brought them with me from Hampshire so they are definitely pre-2006.  I had such great plans, there were going to be at least 20 blocks, set 4 x 5 with sashing it was going to become such a grand Christmas Quilt!   Four blocks in, with inumerable tiny pieces, I just about lost the will to live, and certainly lost any desire to make a complete quilt this way.

The truth of it is that whilst I love the crispness and precision of the finished block I now accept that life is just way, way too short to do much foundation piecing,  there are so many other quilts to make!

So there we are, two February finishes, must add them to the Quilt Finishes page.

Monday, 5 March 2018

A quick quilt

This weekend I have had a cold.
I.  Do. Not. Like. Having. A. Cold.          Grrrr
and I definitely do not like having a head full of wallpaper paste, a runny nose and wobbly legs.

But "it is what it is" says Management with as much sympathy as he can muster as he suits up in heavy-duty outdoor gear to take Daisy for a little walk in the bitterly cold wind.

Sympathy when I. Have. A. Cold is a difficult thing because I'm not a very good patient.  I won't stay in bed, I won't curl up under a quilt and read or watch TV.  What I will do is mope around the house because I'm not well enough to do whatever it is I want to do, but am not ill enough to collapse completely.

Perhaps somewhat strangely, what I can seem to do when I'm not 100% is sew - nothing intricate, my days of Feathered Star blocks with a zillion small pointy bits and weird angles are long over.  Much more satisfying when I'm bluurrrgh and it's barely above freezing outside, is to light the woodburner and mindlessly sew scraps together.

Long before Jelly Rolls were invented and became all the rage, I bought a selection of fabric rolls from Kim at Worn and Washed.  I know I bought some of the collection at one of the first Festival of Quilts at the NEC - might have been as early as 2005 - eek, definitely time I used them up!   Pre-loved fabric, prepared and ready to sew, I have used some but a few packs have been sitting for far too long.

The initial idea was to combine the blue pack with the red/plaid fabric but as soon as I unrolled them I knew this would not work - the blue is 'proper' cotton denim-type material and much thicker than regular cotton.  Easy change of plan - make a tough picnic rug type quilt, something that I have meant to do for ages.

Mindless piecing, in the style of my "Random" quilts:

I still had a hankering to add red, and found a fairly thick brushed cotton in the stash that will do very nicely:

I love it when the long strip crinkles up behind the sewing machine like a strange Vienetta :)

The end result is about 57" x 64.  I say "about" because it is definitely not perfectly square (although the top is certainly nowhere near as wonky as this photo implies!) I plan to quilt it with just a fleece for backing and probably no wadding, it is heavy enough as it is.  Once thrown on the ground and Daisy has traipsed over it I think being slightly out of square will be the least of the poor little thing's problems!  Even if I have created a parallelogram it doesn't matter, what matters was that it kept me occupied for most of Saturday and some of Sunday.

Despite wasting an awful lot of time on Pinterest, I still haven't decided what to do with the red pack . . .