Thursday, 29 November 2018

Up for grabs . . .

Too brain-dead yesterday to achieve anything creative and productive, so I spent half a day sorting through all of the Christmas scraps.  I had got to the point where nearly 12 foot of table space was covered in piles of jumbled up fabric and I could not make any more progress until I tidied it all up.

Not the first clue why I have about 60 small four-patch units already made and fabric cut for many more but at least I can now see what is here (and I can pretend it is under control).

At one level this is a little frustrating.  I want to get these blocks and units made up into (? whatever ?) which can be used/gifted.  They were all made so long ago I have absolutely no recollection of what my original intentions were - that is if I had any in the first place!  I know some of the blocks were made just to try out a technique or idea, which is how most quilters end up with a pile of 'orphan blocks' which don't go together and we don't know what to do with!

At another level is is lovely - there are no deadlines, no pressure.  I am just pottering around in my fabric cave knowing that eventually there will be a spark of creativity and I'll stumbled upon an arrangement I like, if not for all the bits then at least some of them.

Continued messing around is a perfect occupation for today - really high wind, rain, dull and gloomy.  None of us are going outside except for essential toilet breaks (that would be Daisy - M. and I will use the bathroom!)

Up for grabs:
During the tidy up I unearthed a little stash of fabric that I am never, ever going to use.  The 'wonky blocks' were started at a workshop but I didn't do any more when I got home, and the gingerbread fabric is left over from a project a decade or more ago.

As I will never use this material I would love to send it to someone who will . . . all you have to do is say 'please'.  Maybe perfect for someone who doesn't yet quilt but would like to have a little play?

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Sigh . . .

Strewth, yesterday was hard work;  I have (for now) got my friend as far as I can with her patchwork. Trouble is, whilst I am a reasonably good teacher, I am not a shrink or marriage counsellor.  I can overcome her lack of experience at cutting up perfectly good fabric and sewing it back together again.  I cannot overcome her self-doubt and fear of failure, or a husband who is critical, unsupportive and seems to not want her to do this.  At one point yesterday morning she was in tears in the kitchen telling me how irritated he had become the previous day when she spent all afternoon sewing.  Very draining for me, clearly not a bundle of laughs for my friend.

Despite that she had done her "homework" and sewn strips into panels:
photo removed, see below

Together we pressed the first two, sliced them into sections, and then unpicked the loops to create the Trip Around the World pattern:
photo removed, see below

When I left her this is how far we'd come:
photo removed; whilst there is no way my friend could be identified from my words, pictures are different and at some point in the future if her project was finished and she shared it with her son, who might share it on Facebook, etc.  Probably being over cautious but best to play this one on the safe side.

Anyone else would - I hope - have seen the finish line was in sight.  Instead, my friend was sitting with her shoulders slumped convinced that she is going to mess things up or will have forgotten all I've shown her when she next has time to sew.  Which apparently will not be for a few days because the husband has plans for them to {insert whatever . . . I may not have been concentrating at this point}.

I did wonder if I ought to publish this; but then I thought "s*d it" -  this is my journal and if I only record the fun stuff it is not truthful, and from a selfish point of view, writing and publishing is very cathartic for me.

I came home to a warm house, to Management and Daisy, and my own gorgeous little Fabric Cave    ðŸĪŠ
Where I messed around with those Flying Geese units until suppertime and still couldn't make up my mind. But at least I had fun doing so whilst M. did his own thing.  He made me coffee, I put the washing machine on, we chatted occasionally, he showed me a 'funny cat on Facebook', I showed him a possible winning layout. Just quiet, normal bimbling along.  







By the end of the day I was completely knackered and my head hurt  . . . . ðŸ™„

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Not our best outing

I was getting a bit stir crazy and wanted to go out in the campervan, but I admitted to feeling a tad nervous about being out on my own until this eye settles down . . . so out we all went.

The plan was simple - quick drive to Houghton Hall just north of Carlisle.  It's one of these big 'garden centre' type places that is really a retail centre with a few plants outside and we have had successful visits there before.  But that was some considerable time ago and the place has changed. The Christmas decorations were particularly disappointing; the best bits I could find are below - only three photos from goodness-knows-how-many-square-feet of retail space.  The only thing I might have parted with money for was that wooden house - until I picked it up, saw the price and how badly it was put together.

Pretty much everything else available was generic and ubiquitous, and we could find it at every other similar store we know, some much closer to home.

But the sun shone all day, and we had a brilliant level parking spot as far away from the store entrance as it was possible to be (which is where we usually find the best places!)

Unfortunately Little Miss Perfect did not approve.  We tried every trick to minimise the disruption to Her Ladyship's regular schedule:  I walked her first thing, and after breakfast M. gave her another longer walk as usual.  She ate half her breakfast, as usual, and had a manic game of chasing tennis balls from one end of the house to another, as usual.  Daisy's normal schedule is then curling up in a warm bed until after mid-afternoon.  As evidenced by yesterday's post she did not approve of being in the van (she never travels particularly well) and made her displeasure evident once we stopped by absolutely refusing to settle.  We took her for another walk, offered her food, favourite biscuits, comfy bed in her (usual) favourite place where she can look out of the window but Madam was not having any of it.

M. had a look around the shop whilst I stayed with her, and then he stayed whilst I wandered around.  Back at the van we walked her AGAIN, which still didn't improve Madam's day, so had a late lunch and came home.  Which was horrid.  We hit the westbound A595 at a time where the full sun was right in our eyes and it was a particularly unpleasant drive.  The A595 is a nasty road at the best of times with an unenviable accident record, if there had been anywhere sensible to pull off I would have suggested we stop for a coffee until the sun had gone down but I knew M. (who was driving) just wanted to get home.

Hey ho, if this is the sum of a bad day for us, we're doing pretty well.  First World Problems.

This morning I am off for something (potentially) far more stressful!   I am helping/teaching a friend who is desperate to learn to quilt but has such low self-confidence and lack of belief in her abilities that it absolutely cripples and paralyses her.  Damn shame because she is clever and more than capable with her sewing machine but she's so terrified of "messing things up" and "wasting fabric" that she cannot begin a project without significant hand-holding and help.  But by taking baby steps she is slowly discovering that actually she can do this fabric stuff.  Which is wonderfully rewarding for both of us.

Daisy will be unimpressed when I leave the house without her which will reinforce my status as a Proven Flight Risk ðŸĪŠ

Monday, 26 November 2018

I don’t want to be here, and you can’t make me enjoy myself

ðŸū ðŸū We interrupt our normal programming for a Guest Post by Visiting Blogger: 
            probably the most spoilt dog in the county   ðŸū ðŸū

I am not going to be sensible and sleep on the warm and soft VetBed.

I refuse to budge from the middle of the floor where I am in everyone’s way at all times.

So there.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Back to square one

All this flurry of new posts, cannot possibly last . . . never does!

Am doing a surprisingly good job of "taking it easy".  Management helps out wherever he is needed, and the garden will just have to wait until (a) I feel like it and (b) we're convinced the eye has settled down and there's no longer any risk of retinal damage.  I know I've been bad in the past at resting up when I have hurt myself but eyesight definitely takes priority over everything else.  Much overdue, I wandered around and dusted half the house yesterday which is quite enough grown-up activity for one weekend, and the rest of the day was spent either messing with fabric or messing with the iPad.

I am supervised - she knows "something's up".

We're back to square one with the Flying Geese units.  Not surprisingly, I made some more - another 40 although I didn’t really mean to. For starters I forgot that each pair of squares produced four units, I thought it would yield two, and in truth they are so quick and easy, and so much fun that I kept going.

With more than enough piecing to hand, I had a play and arranged the units as per the Pinterest quilt I liked. Only, as soon as I’d done that I knew I didn’t like it, and with borders the quilt would have become way bigger than I wanted.

There are now 120 nicely pieced units trying to find inspiration on Google or Pinterest . . . and not succeeding.   I had a try at using them to surround a pre-printed panel, this would have made a decent sized table-topper/small quilt but like so many good ideas, it didn't survive being pinned up to see how things might look.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is exactly why these got put away all those years ago but I am not prepared to give up just yet . . .

Saturday, 24 November 2018

What was I thinking?

You are a lovely lot :)   The comments about my eye floater have helped greatly and I'm now a lot more calm about it all than I was at the beginning of the week.  It also helps that the floater seems to have started to dissipate, that both helps my vision and shows that it is breaking up and following a natural progression.  Not out of the woods yet, but feeling much better.

Have spent the last couple of days gently messing with the box of Christmas fabric and pulled these units.   The question cannot be avoided:  "what on earth was I thinking I would make with all these Flying Geese units, only to get interrupted/derailed for so long the original purpose completely escapes me"?

I do know when this started:  I attended a Cabot Quilting Conference run by Christine Porter.  Despite some digging around online, this was (almost) pre-internet so I cannot find the dates when Harriet Hargrave came to teach, but I reckon it was 1998 or 1999.  I bought a fabulous set of templates from Harriet which guarantees Flying Geese units with none of the points chopped off and virtually no wastage or bias edges, and I know I made dozens and dozens of them which worked their way into various projects.  I still have all the templates (and thankfully the instructions too).

What I don't have is the faintest idea of what I was going to use these units for, but they're too nice to pack back into a box for another 20 years.

I came across this layout on Pinterest, it is credited to "Bonnyarts" on Flickr but I cannot find a link to a real person to give any credit*.  It is definitely one of the nicest Flying Geese options I've seen and right now it is the best (only!) idea I have.

To replicate it I will need to make a few more units but I have extra fabric and (only a quilter will understand the next bit) now I've unearthed the templates I have a hankering to make some more units.

*  If anyone knows who this is, please let me know so I can give proper credit.

Thursday, 22 November 2018


We're a tad fragile at Bag End this week.  Management is another year older (happy birthday, dear one 😊) and whilst he does not look it or act it, occasionally he "feels it" and that's not making him terribly cheerful. Apparently statements like "hey, just think of it as being 21, but for the third time" are neither helpful or funny (really? I thought I was being hilarious!)  But we've talked about ageing and some small lifestyle changes that he could make, so we have a plan for moving forward.

Part of the plan was to consider weight-bearing exercise, which he found himself doing yesterday, because I couldn't:

I also have some small lifestyle changes, but mine have been forced upon us, and are temporary.  A week ago I developed a huge floater in my eye.  I've had a proper eye examination* and as expected received a diagnosis of Posterior Vitreous Detachment.  Yuk.  It's an "age thing" and nothing can be done to prevent it or stop it.  The hope is that in 4 or 5 weeks it will have settled down and the floater will disappear.

Whilst the Vitreous continues to do whatever it wants there is a risk of it pulling the retina along with it, which is a far more serious proposition.  I have very precise instructions of what to do if I notice any vision changes that could be attributed to either the beginning of a retinal detachment or a retinal tear.  Both can be treated with laser surgery but it is frightening to be told that I would be seen immediately and treated as an emergency if the need arose.  My sight is probably the sense I value above all else.

Whilst we can do nothing remedial I have to be "sensible" for a month and not lift anything heavy, do strenuous work, and refrain from getting hit on the head, which means not getting accidentally head-butted by Daisy.  It doesn't happen often but when it does, ouch it hurts!  Oh, and yoga inversions aren't recommended either.  This is scary, far more so than all the other injuries I've inflicted upon myself at Bag End.  But now I am over the shock there is no point staying upset.

If I cannot do heavy labour in the garden I shall "have" to focus on indoor things like sewing ..... which isn't exactly going to be a hardship.  There is some Christmas fabric calling my name and later on I will start to re-read Discovery of Witches before treating myself to part two of the trilogy.

*  I cannot recommend looking in a mirror whilst waiting for the pre-exam eye drops to work.  Hugely dilated pupils =  'full vamp' but without the matching hair and makeup :)   Very strange look  ðŸ§›‍♀️

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Behind the headlines - a story I don't think I have told before

Thank you to everyone for yesterday's comments, they were very much appreciated.

Eunice summed it up perfectly: "a sad pathetic scrap".  When we first met Daisy she was a walking skeleton, scared and thoroughly miserable.  But despite whatever trauma she'd been through a spark of intelligence and kindness shone through and you know the rest.

But what you might not know is a couple of things which happened when we went to Animal Care in Lancaster to meet her.   I had found Daisy on their website and the text which accompanied her listing was heart-breaking:

M. and I had decided we would look for a Collie-cross type dog, which is how Madam was described.  After completing the 'formalities' at reception, Animal Care suggested we take her for a walk around their land, so we went to put on boots and coats, and they went to get her from the kennel.  When "Macey" was brought out of her concrete prison to meet us we were the other side of the car park and, to my shame, I know the first words I uttered were "oh crap, that's not what we came for" as we were greeted with the sight of something clearly not a collie-cross, and clearly part-lurcher/greyhound/whippet.

But she was so delighted to be out on a lead and very pleased to see us/anyone who'd give her attention (and we'd driven 80 miles for this), that it would have been stupid NOT to take her for the promised walk.  "Macey" walked very nicely on her lead, did all her toilet, and we met a young family who were also getting to know their potential dog.  At this point it could all have gone horribly wrong - in the space of about half a second a toddler sprinted towards the completely unknown dog at the other end of my lead and flung her arms around it's neck.  Neither the parents or I could have moved fast enough to stop it and with the wrong dog the consequences could have been awful.  Little Miss Perfect, however, snuffled the little girl, wagged her tail and accepted every stroke and pat that was available.  Phew.  But that told us a lot about this dog's character.  (To this day she still adores small children and wants to stick her head into prams and pushchairs).

Back at the office we agreed with the staff that "the walk" had been successful but I wanted to know what this dog might be like to live with indoors, rationalising that we spend more time quietly in the house with our pet than we do out on excursions.   We went off to their staff room and tried to spend some quiet time with this skinny little girl.

She would not settle with us.  I tried to sit on the sofa with her - she scratched at the door to be let out.  I sat on the floor with her, she pawed at me and would not be still.  To be honest it was getting a bit annoying, and then Daisy saw her lead on a chair, picked it up and basically "threw' it at me.  "Yes, yes, very clever dear, now settle down".   But she would not, and did it again.  We joked "this dog is telling us she wants to go for another walk".

"OK, but then we're going home  Right?"

So we put her lead on, went back outside, and the very moment we reached some grass Daisy went to the loo again.  And a big pile of poop is what got Daisy her forever home . . . because here we have a starved, traumatised, miserable little wretch, and despite whatever she's been through, she knows that she should do her toilet outside and would try anything available to her to tell us she needed to go out.

So we went for a coffee at the Centre's little cafe and said "what do we do"?   And my answer was "we have to give her a home".

Because she was a kind and gentle girl, she clearly had a wonderful and good soul, and she deserved a home like ours.  No, she wasn't what we "thought" we wanted, but I remember saying to Management "she might not be what we came for but I cannot leave without her, how is she less deserving of our love than something ‘prettier’?  ".

And two days later I was able to take her away from concrete prison to a life of interesting walks, comfy sofas and fleecy quilts.  Welcome home Daisy. xx

(c) J. Rowland, 2013

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Happy Adoption Day

The poster girl for how a rescue dog can be transformed has been with us for six years:  312 weeks, 2184 days  ðŸū 

These first photos of her still break my heart.

Our darling Daisy is now an old girl, but we reckon she is happy with life at Bag End.

I made Daisy a promise when she came to us that she would never, ever be scared or cold whilst under my care;  I hope I haven't broken it yet and that I never will.

Monday, 19 November 2018

A little bit of tree work

Four large silver birch.   Badly treated and abused by previous owners and tree butchers masquerading as arborealists.  We feared they would die of shock ten years ago but now their time really had come, they were adding nothing horticulturally and all had dead limbs and rot in the central trunk.  Best to take them down on our terms than have them blow over.

Thin limbs have been salvaged where possible (but I don't have a good photo of the pile) and will be used to re-edge the beds in the Coppice.  Anything left over can go on the wood pile.

Messy brush was shredded and by the end of the day just over half of the area by the Big Pond was covered.

Simon and James went to great trouble to bring down a couple of lengths of trunk much larger than normal - I want to use them as 'edging' for a new bed next to the Coppice and I know it took them three times as long to rope up than it would have done to just chop and drop.  Bless 'em.

In typical Bag End fashion, this was not a day to be completely without incident.  It was much colder than it looked and I had three strong chaps here telling me to "sit down, relax, just take photographs", which meant I got cold.  Really really cold,  thoroughly chilled to feeling almost hypothermic at one stage cold.  But the ever changing light made for some interesting photos:

Management had his own incident.  Probably best you watch than I try to explain.  Firstly, this is how things should work:  (these need to be watched full screen)

But not everything always goes to plan at Bag End:

Thankfully there was no damage done, he's soaking in a deep, hot bath right now and laughs every time he watches the clip, I suspect there will be Ibuprofen later.

James had his own moment of deep unpleasantness;  many of the upper branches had deep rotted fissures and as one limb swung down it unexpectedly disgorged the contents of such a hole.  The contents being water, rotted tree and leaves, a couple of worms and {probably} a whole load of bird shit.  The poor lad was talking at the time and had his mouth open . . . oh yes, it really was as bad as it sounds and for the next couple of hours we all expected him to double over and throw up everywhere.  No surprises he said it tasted absolutely foul.  Definitely above and beyond the call of duty.

[ we've just realised if you look again at the first video (Tree Work  22) - at the moment the limb swings to the right you can actually see the spray of sludge heading towards him - yuk! ]

The fourth and final victim was next to the Top Pond.  I took Daisy for another of the many walks she's had today and the job was nearly finished when I returned.

Fabulous amount of timber to be put away for a future winter, and far too many photos and video for one day, might publish a few more later in the week (or they might join the other couple of thousand sitting in a 'one day which never comes' folder  ðŸ˜).