Saturday, 14 December 2019

Productive Hibernation

Scientists definitely do not know everything about everything, despite some of them thinking they do.  But I am quite sure of one thing - I am completely solar powered.  Panels on the roof of our house or campervan are nothing new. . . it dawned on me this morning when I'd been up more than an hour and it was STILL dark outside that I am solar powered and without enough sunlight at this time of year my batteries just never ever get fully charged.

Roll on Solstice.

But the enforced hibernation has not been a complete bust.  In the last few days I have processed all my outstanding images from 2016:
678 pictures
26 folders
7.87GB of data

which has resulted in 25 new blog posts which have been quietly inserted where they belong and a few more which have had additional pictures slipped in.  No fanfare, few words, but it helps to complete my record of life at Bag End.  I can think of one friend who can never get enough new pictures of Daisy (you know who you are 💚🐶) and a quick look in the Blogger search bar for "published December 2019" will track down the new images.  😁  I know there are a few errors, but from a 'Big Picture' viewpoint they are not important.

Of course, there is still 2017, 2018 and a small 2019 backlog to process; another 30GB of data - the trouble with shooting RAW is great images (photographer notwithstanding) but big files.  🤔

But it has not all been computer work;  most of the Christmas decorations are up and whilst I cannot be bothered to get out everything there is enough that the sitting room and kitchen look fairly attractive.

The exciting minutiae of grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, et al, continues.  It might be mundane and repetitive but I never lose sight of how lucky I am to be able to do all these things, and have a warm, dry and safe house to do them in.

All that remains for today is the final of Strictly Come Dancing . . . I have watched this series more out of habit than enjoyment.  Is it me or does this season lack the soul and/or sparkle of previous years?  Glad to see Anton in the final - I cannot help wondering if it is a BBC-fix and this is his last year?  I would like to see him join the judges, or (better still ) replace Tess Daly . . .

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Still hibernating

Only ten days to go.
Counting down to Solstice and my year end?  Well maybe a little 🤶

Life is remarkably quiet at Bag End.  I am (hopefully) over this flu which took out the last three weeks of November.  There has been a little sewing, not exactly quilting - more pushing fabric around to see what happens;  the answer in both cases was "not a lot" so all has been taken down and packed away until the inspiration fairy returns.

There has been organising and tidying of boring things like desks - it has to be done and the payback is a clear, uncluttered space.

Also clear and uncluttered is a lovely space I have been visiting:

I do not always have the pool to myself, but when I am the only one in the water it is absolute bliss.

The weather continues to be absolute garbage - dull, chilly (sometimes), wet (frequently) therefore hibernating seems like an eminently sensible activity.  So we're just chilling, and relaxing, and no worrying - much - about the garden: apart from a little essential "running repairs" when high winds finally got the better of our big tarpaulin.   The fix will not last for long, but hopefully long enough (which means until we are in the mood to spend a day hauling logs).

The wind threw some furniture around but we seem to have got off fairly lightly, but on the upside the gales brought the last of the leaves down so we added a few more bin fulls to the leaf heap.

I know if I go outside to weed and tidy up when I really do not feel like it then little will be achieved over the course of a couple of hours and I'll be thoroughly tired.  If I wait until the weather is kind and I want to be outside then I'll get loads done and have enjoyed the process.

But on Monday this week the weather was kind for most of the day and I took the opportunity to wash both my car and the campervan - white vehicles and Cumbrian muck are not an attractive combination.

Monday, 2 December 2019

If you cannot do what you want, do what you can

Somewhere in the dim fantasy land which my brain spends (probably) far too much time in, I imagined that today would be much warmer and I could go outside and clean my car.  Really?  I have no idea where I think I saw a weather forecast that might lead me to such an assumption.  It was seriously-minus-something again last night and with a thick covering of high cloud as far as we could see there was small chance of it warming up later.

That also meant too cold to garden with much enjoyment, and definitely too cold to paint any more wood in the greenhouse.  So a "sewing room day".  Yay, messing around with fabric 😍 and  I finished up the first project to come out of the "sorting the stash" exercise:

This might have been a blog post entitled "I thought I was making   a    table runner".  That is the article “A” - singular, not plural or multiples thereof.  Things all started so innocently . . . well, they usually do.

When I was getting towards the end of the monumental task of cutting 20 years worth of scraps into ‘pre-cuts’ it occurred to me that putting all this wonderful fabric back into plastic tubs and storing those tubs on a shelf/on the floor wasn’t really going to advance my original position. It had been lovely to ‘revisit’ with some of these fabrics, remembering when and where they had been acquired, and remembering the quilts they had helped create. With rekindled enthusiasm it seemed logical to use some whilst they were out and I had lots of ideas brewing away. Whenever I am working with fabric my brain is going a mile-a-minute thinking up ideas, visualising layouts and colours and mentally creating about a hundred times more quilts than I could possibly ever sew - no wonder I am regularly so tired, it is busy in my head  😊.

It also seemed logical to start with the very smallest set, that of 2” squares because I did not really think there were many of them. That may have been my first mistake - ha ha.

I just “knew” these little squares wanted to be Four Patch units, and it did not take long to sew them up with a variety of very pale white & cream based materials. I may have raided the stash of 2” strips to complete these . . .

Dangerously I had a clear picture in my head of a pretty little table runner to use in the sitting room. It all went wrong when I sketched out the idea and realised it only needed 16 units but I had created 48.  Oh well, clearly the Universe thought I should be making three runners, which makes perfect sense as we often have three little tables in the sitting room.

All the 2" squares were used up, and I got to dig into the 3½" squares and the 2" strips.

There was a reasonable amount of logic to the next step, although it rather went astray in the execution:  my idea was to add a smallish one-fabric border to each runner to frame the piecing, and use the same fabric for eventual binding. I found a lovely blue which seemed to suit (and I had enough of it which helps 😜). Whilst cogitating what size to make this border - which would quite likely be cut down after quilting - it occurred to me that a “double width” strip sewn to the inside verticals would create one continuous ’top’ that would be a lot quicker to longarm quilt than three small items.  As I was sewing on the first one I realised I was heading in a completely unplanned direction:

There was a small amount of hilarity with Management agreeing “oh, you’ve made a lovely lap quilt” and the jury has retired to consider its verdict, which will not be delivered until after the quilting is done. I really do not need another small lap quilt at present, and I could do with runners for the side tables . . . but we’ll see how it all looks later.

Backing prepared, binding sorted, and waiting for the no-man's-land between Christmas and the New Year which has been designated "longarm quilting time" in the hope that I will not be taking any unfinished tops into 2020.

There was something else unexpected to come out of this sewing - and that was the realisation  of just HOW LITTLE I have used of all the prepared fabrics.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

21 days and counting

Winter Solstice happens on Sunday, 22 December 2019,  at 04:19 GMT.   It is always an eagerly awaited event at Bag End - the turning of the Wheel as our tiny little lump of rock starts her journey back towards light and warmth.  This year even more so because I am keen to see the back of 2019, an Annus Horribilis if ever there was one.  To shamelessly plagiarise Her Majesty in 1992:

 "2019 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure"

December has arrived with much nicer manners than November ever managed to display, freezing temperatures forgiven thanks to the clear, bright light that has flooded into the house today, nicely illuminating cobwebs, dusty corners and windows that definitely need an inside clean and polish.

In the Coppice, Mahonia "media Charity" has started to bloom its little heart out.

We 'celebrated' by moving an awful lot of stuff and cleaned every single carpet and rug in the house.  It is a job we try and do twice a year, although in truth it sometimes only happens once.  The carpets dry very quickly and with everything put back where it belongs the house is all clean and smiley, and I can get some **Christmas** decorations out as and when I feel like it.

**  It's December - "C" word is obligatory!

A quick bit of astonomising before the inevitable collapse.  Screenshot courtesy of the brilliant SkySafari:

I got to see the Moon (obviously!), Saturn and Venus but Jupiter was too close to the horizon and Pluto was too faint.  No imaging, I was balanced on the seat of the arbor with my head stuck through the horizontal trellis!

We are now thoroughly cream-crackered, so it is catch-up telly and the woodburner for me, and some screen time for him.

Saturday, 30 November 2019


The new moon is four days old, and this is how beautiful she looked when I was closing the curtains yesterday afternoon.

And this is what I saw when I opened them again this morning.
I did not see last night's forecast so I have no idea what the predicted low was, but it was definitely a minus number.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Achievement {insert smiley face}

So much of this year has been a great big pile of poo; I am fed up with it all but even more fed up with moaning about it.  So I won't, I will channel Sally Sunshine and be irritatingly glass-half-full and see if that is any better 😃😃.

Having some skanky flu-like bug might not have been on my list of Things To Do In November, but it has not been the end of the world, For a start the weather in the last month has been wet, dull, wet and dull again, often both at the same time, and not remotely conducive to wanting to be outside doing 'stuff'. So I did not particularly feel I was missing out whilst staying at home allowing the jelly in my legs to firm up.

I've got through a satisfying number of books on the Kindle because I can read cozy mystery books without needing to engage more than a few brain cells and it does not matter a jot if I cannot remember the story when I have finished. I used the lethargy to deliberately have a bit of a digital break which is never a bad thing, but Feedly now tells me I have an awful lot of blogs to catch up with . . . I might just hit the reset button on the feed counter and start again from 1st December. No offence to anyone whose blog posts I miss, but sometimes . . . if you know what I mean?

I can, however, look back at the middle two weeks of November with satisfaction as the Time I Tamed the Scraps. Gosh, there were times I was bored, bored, bored with pressing rumpled little bits of fabric and deciding the best way to cut them up to avoid waste.

But it is now ALL DONE (in truth, it was done a few days ago) and instead of 'scraps" I now have a gorgeous collection of pre-cut fabrics ready to be sewn into quilt tops with all the graft of pressing and prepping dealt with.

The 'ready for action' tubs have a new home where they are not going to be lost and forgotten for another decade.  I did not do all this preparation just to put the fabric away again - after investing so much time and effort I am going to see what quilty loveliness can be made by using just this material first . . .

Saturday, 16 November 2019

If you always do what you've always done . . .

(found on Pinterest, no copyright attribution)

I think I first heard that {mumble, mumble} years ago when Oprah was shown on British TV and Dr Phil was all the rage. I love it, a bit like the supposed Einstein quote:

I have taken both quotes on board and am taking it easy until I have fully recovered.  This lurgy is slowly easing; definitely not a cold, probably a flu variant.  I went out yesterday morning - just an hour or so to Sainsbury's and I got M. to drive, but at least it was a different view!  Bumped into a neighbour, long conversation abbreviated: last month her active 20-something daughter was floored by what sounds like exactly the same bug/virus.  Took K. at least two weeks to get back on her feet, so I shall (for once - ha ha) behave differently to my historical norm and try to be sensible  (see above  😎 ).

Moving on . . . many years ago I looked at lots of little baskets of fabric scraps on my shelves and decided to 'organise' them.  Blog rummaging tells me I was trying to do this back in September 2013.

Clearly I didn't get very far because five years later, the scrap piles had multiplied, rather than reduced.  It seems like much, much longer ago, but rummaging tells me the scraps moved into larger boxes in February 2018 . . . (I enjoyed this particular rummage, Daisy photo-bombed the entire post ☺️ ).

But those tubs are pretty much where the scraps have stayed, apart from the whole lot regularly moving to a different part of the room when I have another 'reorganisation'.

Up to now, the scraps have been sorted by colour which sounds like a great idea.  Unfortunately the scraps are wildly varied in size and shape meaning so much sorting and organising is required before I can do any sewing I tend to lose enthusiasm before I get started.  It would seem that grouping by colour is a big fail.  Time to do things differently  (see above  😎 ).

The Queen and Supreme Being of scraps is Bonnie Hunter and her 'system' seems to be to organise by size.  In truth, I was a little unsure as to whether it could work for me but heck - what I have been doing up to now is definitely NOT working so I need a new approach  (see above  😎 ). Weighed down by lurgy, I figured semi-mindlessly moving bits of fabric around without having to actually sew anything was about the limit of what I could manage, and might achieve something in the process.

I had a couple of happy breakthroughs very early on:  I tipped out the first box which came to hand (mostly yellows, orange, browns) and thought "eek, that's a lot of fabric".  So I weighed it . . . and the result was a massive shock.  The contents weighed 1.277kg.  By comparison one metre of beautiful batik weighs 128 grams.  It doesn't take a genius to work out the quantity of yardage jumbled up in a storage tub: 10 metres is enough for a quilt top.  Another 'gem' from Bonnie Hunter is "these 'scraps' originally cost the same as the rest of your yardage" which is a bit scary with today's extortionate fabric prices.

The second breakthrough was to change my thinking (see above  😎 ) - I wasn't "straightening up and tidying scraps".  Much more motivating to realise that I was preparing the fabric for my next scrap quilt, even if I had not yet decided what it was going to be. So that is where I've been for the last few days - half an hour sorting, an hour sitting down allowing the legs to stabilise and despite far more sitting down than sorting, it was a massive surprise to get to the end of the first box this afternoon.

Delighted with how much progress has been made, although this is not going to be a quick fix: