Saturday, 29 February 2020

Welcome back, I have been expecting you

This year's visitors clearly do not wished to be photographed in flagrante, but that did not stop me trying.

There are at least a dozen frogs in the little Cottage Garden Pond,

and more than 40 in their 'favourite' corner of the Big Pond, although given how big this pond is, goodness knows what the total really is.

Equally delightful and completely unexpected, was the briefest glimpse of a newt in the Cottage Garden - a bare millisecond - this is the least out-of-focus proof that I saw him/her.

Time to get the polarising filter on my big lens!

Friday, 28 February 2020

Stitching through the storms

So much of February has been grey, driech, windy and soaking wet that it hardly comes as a surprise to look at the blog archive and see that the majority of my meagre posts this month have been reflective and looking elsewhere.  Although for a couple of brief hours on Sunday outside looked like this:

The rest of the time it has been:

and very occasionally:

Wednesday afternoon we went to Keswick departing in sunshine, which was a nice change, and returned in a blizzard, which was not, and M's car collected an inch of snow whilst we were parked.

(I know, there is not an inch of snow in this photo, but I'd gone back inside to get out of the wind 😊)

But the enforced hibernation has not all been navel-gazing and reflection - I have kept occupied by something of a fabric frenzy.

Last November I cut all my scraps into patchwork-ready sizes which was great, but the real point of the exercise was to have the fabric ready to actually make things.  So, in no particular order, here is the product of the last week or so, all now waiting to get onto the longarm machine:-

New table mats, based on one I made in 2006 (1st picture) - goodness, it has lasted well despite the mouse-chewing bottom right:


They are nothing fancy, and will be in and out of the wash on a weekly basis, but they make me smile which is all that matters.

This little piece has been the pear-applique-centre-panel for nearly 20 years.  Unexpectedly I realised I had yardage in the same fabric as the left-hand pear which led to a little mindless expansion in the form of extra borders.  The picture colours are off, the inner stop border is a deep crimson which really lifts the whole thing.

This picture inspired the greatest amount of stitching which has used up a huge quantity of the 2½" squares.  I had to cut into the grey/black & white yardage but found I already had 2½" strips from a long-abandoned project, so that is (sort of) another tick in the "using up pre-cuts" box!

Two days of solid, simple but endless, mindless stitching and by the end of it I was heartily sick of these blocks. Of course, once they were all finished I loved them again 🙃  Now on a shelf for a week until I am ready to arrange them into a quilt top.

More 2½" squares became long strips with no pre-plan, however some more black & white strips jumped into the party and the result is table-runner sized:

Finally, more "no plan in mind" created another table-topper sized piece, and used up nearly every scrap of the orange fabric which has been in the stash at least 20 years.

Including a small panel made of squares of Liberty Tana Lawn which needs quilting so that I can make a bag out of it, there are now 9 items waiting for more bad weather to blow in so I can have a couple of days quilting.  All the backings are prepped, and there is binding for every piece - the basket of leftovers came in useful.

Of course there has been messing around which did not result in a finished piece; the brushed cotton strip sets are back in their box - again - until I am happy with a layout that is as good as these lovely fabrics deserve, and stitching up 'test bits' to see if an idea worked, which it did not, but might become something else in the future.

The sewing room was thoroughly cleaned and then repurposed: I have all the stuff from the campervan to sort out.  Bill went on an overnight stay near Keswick without me and came back fully habitation-serviced, checked over and pronounced safe & secure for the coming season.  Which should have started next week with a planned trip to south Cumbria but the dear friend I am due to meet agrees that the ground needs to dry up a little before we try walking over it as neither of us fancy sinking up to our knees in mud.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The Mirror of Erised

If, one day, I sit in front of The Mirror of Erised, we know what I will see.

erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi

A severed limb does not grow back after amputation, but you have to carry on, to accommodate the loss.  One year on and I am not “over it” - there are some wounds which never heal, but I have learnt to live alongside the ache and the emptiness.

She never did catch her tail, but had such terrific fun trying:

Many years ago we had some lovely neighbours who I still miss, and as well as being really good friends to us they adored Ollie.  If I turned up at my friend’s house without Ollie I was sent back home to get him, if I had to go out they would babysit, and they did it well.  I often asked why they did not have a dog and the answer was always the same - after their last dog had died they knew they could not endure such pain again.  We never understood that and M. and I used to (privately) say “such a shame, they would be such fabulous dog owners”.  Since we came up here they too have moved and we’ve lost touch, but if I saw them again I would want to apologise.

I did not understand their grief before but I do now.

Graphics thanks to Pinterest, therefore copyright attribution is flakey.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Working with the weather

Well, lets face it - we cannot possibly hope to succeed working against the weather, so the only option is to {{shrug shoulders}}  work with what we've got.  And thankfully, in our little corner of Wet Cumbria, for once we have been mostly unaffected by February's two dreadful storms - Ciara and Dennis.  Having seen the utter devastation that a flood can cause, my heart aches for people in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and the other areas who have seen their homes, their sanctuary, their businesses destroyed.

This is the new normal.  Don't get me started on climate change denial - weather patterns have changed on our little globe ever since it became a little globe, they will continue to change, and the over-large population of greedy bipeds have got to learn to live with it.

In my younger years as a gardener it was normal for winter to be cold, frosty, and the garden to hibernate but now we need to accept there appears to be a "new Normal".   The last few winters have been wet, grey, miserable, and a few tough species have kept growing.  Whilst I would 'like' to clear up the garden between November and February and prepare for a new growing season, the weather does not always allow that, and I have to do what I can when I can.  Happily, that meant a full day outside on Monday with much progress, and a couple of cold hours yesterday morning before it started raining.  No photos of either, they will come, eventually.

I have given up relying on the BBC Weather "app", I could see forecasts becoming increasingly unreliable when they stopped using Met Office data and signed a contract with MeteoGroup.  I don't care how much of the licence fee they have saved, the service is crap and regularly wrong.  I'm now "training myself" to use the Met Office's own app and getting used to a different presentation of the data, but it is so blisteringly accurate it's not an onerous task.

This morning it warned me that at around 11.00am rain would set in.  So at 10.00am Management and I set to emptying the campervan of everything.  Bill is going for a vehicle service & MOT tomorrow, and a Habitation Service next week.  I wanted to empty out the van not only to make it easier for servicing access, but to go through the discipline of checking everything and seeing how much I really do not need to put back.  With so much storage available "equipment creep" is a very real problem as it is all too easy to "pop that in a cupboard just in case".

It wasn't until we had all the "bits" in my study and all the textile related items dumped on the bed I realised just how much you can tuck into a campervan - oops 🤔.   I need to get into organising mode and I may be some while - which is not a problem because the forecast rain arrived at 11.05am, thank you Met Office, and I'm not going outside again any time soon.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Cabin Fever

What with Storm Ciara last weekend, followed by a "bit of a cold" and now "Dennis" barrelling in and threatening to wreak even more havoc, the last week has not been one for getting out more than absolutely necessary.  Perhaps if we did not eat so many fresh vegetables we would not need to regularly venture out to buy food . . .  It is not possible to do anything in the garden so the post-winter clearing up and mulching has come to a complete halt.

I realised this morning that I am developing a mild case of cabin fever and I really must get out "properly" soon.  But until the weather obliges, and this mild cold which has removed the substance from my head & legs goes away, I am confined to indoor duties.

Unable to "just go with it" and afflicted with the desire to "achieve something" most days, I have quilted the little 'bargello-type' top, machined the binding, hand finished the binding and put it through a quick wash.  It's rather cute and is now destined for a few weeks decorating the back of the sofa until the next one takes its place.

And after far too long, the collection of old 100% cotton shirts is now a lovely shelf of material waiting to be used and a whole tub of "shirt fronts" which I have left intact for the time being.  I've a daft idea that the button front might work well as cushion backs (although who knows why I think I might make this many cushion covers in future?) but can still be cut down into useable fabric if I want.

Also in the sewing room, the ridiculous mess I managed to create at the back side of my table is no more . . . until the next time.