Thursday, 31 October 2019

Of leaves and logs

Gosh, we've had a busy few days and it has been rather lovely.  Clear skies giving us frost overnight leading to clear skies again the next day - but this is wet  west Cumbria and it will not last so we have made the most of decent weather whilst we could.

Shortly after Management retired we had one of our "big sort outs" and straightened out the over-large quantity of "wood which I might build something with in the garden" that had been acquired over the years.  Thinking about it, virtually nothing except a few fence posts was actually purchased, the rest being scrounged from skips when our neighbours have had new roofs, so it's not like this massive collection owes us anything.  But happily, my days of constantly constructing new stuff for Bag End are winding down and I wanted to use the space behind the log store for something else.  I should also admit that some of the lesser quality timber had succumbed to being outside and wet all the time and was gently rotting away . . .

I sorted into "keep or cut", Management chopped and bagged (he is far more organised and tidy at this sort of job than I am), and after far longer than either of us anticipated - including an emergency trip to Screwfix to replace the mitre saw which finally blew up - there was clear space behind the log store and a humongous supply of "small stuff" ready for the wood burner.

Once the space was clear, it was surprisingly easy to heave two bits of already bent weld mesh into place (something easy? in this garden?  surely not?)  A large piece of netting and a few cable ties later and TA DA.   At this point I was doing my usual of thinking "oh, it's far larger than it needs to be".  Hold that thought . . .

About three houses ago we created a similar massive cage because I had access to a huge quantity of fallen leaves and a couple of years later the resulting leaf mould was one of the most joyous things we've ever created in a garden.  Up until now we have added leaves to the big compost piles and whilst they rot down really well, I wanted to try and keep them separate this year.

We cleared up the garden, the lane and the main path in the churchyard which gave us 15 large wheelie bins full of gardening goodness.  This big pile will shrink down very quickly which is a good thing, because so far only about half the leaves are off the trees.

What a sad girl I am - so happy when the dumping ground between the shed and log store is all tidy like this πŸ˜„

We also managed what I would love to think was the last full grass cut of the year, but I suspect there will be at least one more, if not two.

No idea what time of year this perennial fuchsia thinks it is:

There has been more straightening up in the greenhouse, not completely finished but much progress made and I'm looking forward to more tidying up over the next month or so.

It is all rather "pinch me".  With leaves picked up and the grass tidy,  the other "jobs" which the garden requires can happen when they happen: providing I get through the weeding, tidying up, spreading compost, pruning and general sorting out by February/March.  Four or five months is actually a reasonable amount of time to complete those tasks, even with the amount of rain and gnarly weather we can expect.  Good grief - does this mean there is the faintest modicum of a quiet little chance that we could start NEXT season not running to catch up with everything that did not happen the year before?

But in the meantime, it is due to rain over the next couple of days and I have some quilts to finish binding 😍

Monday, 28 October 2019

The return of . . .

I don’t much care for “mojo” although it is the much used modern vernacular but I’m gloriously delighted that ‘something’ which reminds me of ME seems to have returned.

It’s all returns really - I returned from Yorkshire thoroughly happy to be home safe and in one piece. En route I avoided what could have been a painful, expensive and thoroughly nasty accident. If you know the A66, it was the narrow, twisty section just east of Warcop: I was toddling along, saw the car in front hit the brakes HARD and I did the same, plus hazards. Thankfully the chap behind me was also awake and he stopped safely too.

We were coming up to a blind bend, going uphill, with solid double white lines . . . and once a caravan had managed to get past the obstruction I could see there were multiple cars very very stationery, and a lot of people milling about. When I managed to squeeze past, a little Honda Jazz was stopped, in the middle of the carriageway . . . and the four cars who had been behind him were all crashed into one another, dreadful mess. I reckoned the best thing to do was get out of the way but I saw Police arriving from other direction, I expect they would have had to close the whole road pretty quickly after that. There but for the Grace of God and all that . . .

This morning I woke to our first proper frost of the year (return of winter?) which was pretty if not a tad nippy.

A couple of hours later I returned to the abandoned greenhouse, ostensibly to pot up the daffodil bulbs that Ellie had reminded me of (which I did complete), but got sidetracked into having a major clear up, which included making much overdue supports for the staging which lives over the raised beds in winter & spring. I have also consolidated all the potatoes into a couple of pots, separated in layers of dry compost, and hope they continue to hold as well as they’ve done so far - at risk of uttering the “C” word far too early, home grown Jersey Royals on 25th December would be nice.

After an early lunch Management came outside and we made a start on clearing up fallen leaves in the lane, and that nicely segued into cutting up lots of small bits of wood which we were keeping for “?????” no reason that we can remember. They will be much more useful as “small stuff that gets a fire going quickly”. More on that tomorrow because we only just scratched the surface of what needs to be done.

Relaxing with the much needed cuppa once we’d cleared up was interrupted by a visit from a neighbour I have not seen for a while, popping into check up on me, bless her. Long story short, she used to be a high-level swimming coach and I thought she had retired. Earlier this year I decided it was about time I learnt to swim properly (bad experiences as a kid meant I can barely keep myself afloat and am not comfortable in water), and I was all set to go to a local spa from 1st March. As most of you know what happened on 25th February it will be no surprise that plan never got going. Anyway, turns out my lovely neighbour has not completely retired, and is involved in running adult classes at the local leisure centre. I have promised to turn up next week, and she promises to help me.

I’m putting this “out there” to stop myself backing out . . .

And finally, it feels quite strange (because it’s been so long) that I am really looking forward to returning to the garden tomorrow morning . . .

Sunday, 27 October 2019

oops, where did the last ten days go?

I know exactly where they have gone - Management and I have had two busy weekends and ‘whoosh’, time just whizzes by.

Last weekend he went away and I had four days on the longarm machine, conveniently the weather continued as it had been for most of October and it was too wet for me to feel I ought to go and clear up fallen leaves in the garden. I am aiming to get caught up on the quilt top backlog, so to finish three out of five was a great result. Most of the time I was too engrossed in what I was doing to remember to take photos:

Whilst parents are not supposed to have favourite children, quiltmakers can definitely have favourite quilts:

The next few days were spent applying binding like a mad thing, with the intention of hand-finishing during the weekend just gone. I took off in Bill for the wilds of outer Leeds and spent a couple of days parking (safely) in a leafy suburb - which was extremely strange, but it is always so lovely to be in my little Wendy House on wheels and I do sleep well :-)

I caught up with some old friends I had not seen for far too long, but none of the binding got done . . . hey ho.

With a few days decent weather forecast for this week, the next two quilt tops are going to have to wait a little longer to become proper quilts, whilst I toddle off outside and pretend to be a proper gardener.

Friday, 18 October 2019

In my defence, the moon was full . . .

Having completed the weekend quilt top (which does not have a name yet . . . but needs one) I set to tidying up the sewing room and realised I still had a large laundry basket full of scraps (a rough calculation concluded there were more than 200 pieces, eeek).  If I were to put them in a box (and they'd need a tub of their own) then two problems would be created.  The first is that by the time I got them out again they would be creased and squashed and need hours of pressing before they could be sewn with.  The second problem would be another bloomin' box . . . and for far too long I have been attempting to reduce the number of "tubs of small stuff" and not succeeding.

So with no inclination to get outside into the garden, it made sense to get back to the sewing machine.

Two days later, not too many leftovers in "the box" now, and about 630" of potential all nicely sewn together and waiting quietly.

Incredibly satisfying;  this is not the sort of sewing which requires care and precision, it was quiet and repetitive and the brain just slowly meandered along with the necessary breaks for unavoidable household duties and an occasional mug of coffee.  The weather co-operated beautifully being damp and squally and I knew I could ignore the occasional bright patches with a clear conscience because the grass was far too wet to cut, and all the hedges were soaking too.

No, I have no idea what I am going to do with them, don't be silly, that was never the pointπŸ˜‰
But in my defence, the moon was full and I was unsupervised:

The quilt top which was the cause of all this trouble has had all her papers removed; that kept me occupied after supper last night, and now needs a very close encounter with the iron.  Management is going away for the weekend so I am having a few days dedicated to the longarm machine.  When I have dusted it . . .

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

A weekend spent sewing (part 2)

Picking up where we left off yesterday . . .

I spent a pleasant couple of hours cutting all the small pieces into a massive basket of scraps.

Which became some random sections of sashing, piecing onto foundation paper.  Whilst I don't normally like sewing onto foundations (actually, the sewing is fine, it is removing the paper later which is a nuisance) it really helps to stabilise such soft fabric that will move, stretch, distort and generally misbehave at every opportunity.

There followed much 'wasted' time trying out different layouts.  Didn't like any of them but the process was enjoyable.  When I started I was quite "certain" I knew how the quilt would look when finished, clearly the fabric had other ideas.

Eventually I gave in and accepted that I had to give the quilt what she wanted, which was to use an Oakshott plain cotton to give some visual breathing space between each section.  There was never a plan for this quilt, or a pattern, just a lot of making it up as you go.  Three 16-patch blocks leftover, they will get pieced into a backing.

Nothing gets wasted - even the little trimmings, 100% cotton so they will be added to the compost heap.

The slightly asymetrical 'final' layout was planned by Sunday evening, and I spent all day Monday sewing it together.  I thought I might have finished at this point, but the quilt had other ideas.

A couple more pieced borders this morning (so I suppose it is definitely no longer a weekend quilt) and the top is done, the final size is 54" x 54" which is big enough to be useful.  Completely out of the comfort zone in style, layout, colour and fabric selection but I love it.

On the one hand, quilting has been very successful in the last week - two quilt tops finished up and ready for the longarm.  On the other hand I was trying to empty two old boxes and I've failed spectacularly with both 😁