Friday, 29 January 2021

Start and finish

I did not mean to leave it two weeks since my last blog post, and since I was silly enough to "ta da" about three quilt finishes things rather stalled in the fabric department.

In the last fortnight much fabric has been removed from boxes, played with, cogitated, considered - and then put back in the same boxes, or occasionally in a different one. Nothing I contemplated was "working", ideas and creative juices had rather dried up, but eventually an idea bubbled to the surface, material was pressed and cut, and yesterday I made a start on what might be one big quilt, or maybe three smaller quilts, or possibly even something completely different. 😊

As I seem to be finding it difficult to make my mind up at present, I'm pleased to have come up with a quilty project where I can change direction it progresses, without wasting anything.

But one thing which did go well, when I got round to doing it, was binding the scrappy Grey 9 Patch quilt.


Still loving the half-inch inner border, it was a swine to sew and keep straight but so very worth it.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Everso slightly unsustainable

We interrupt recent ranting about how the pandemic has been handled to return to something far more serene, genteel and fabric related. 18 days into 2021 and I am slightly in shock at finding I have completed three quilts since New Year.

There is absolutely no way such a level of activity and completion can be sustained longterm, but until such time as the weather improves enough to get stuck into clearing up the garden, it keeps me busy ☺️.

I have already shown pictures of the Homespun Strippy which can only half be counted as a 2021 quilt, the piecing was done last year. With a wool batting it is wonderful to sleep under and is currently on the bed.

I showed pictures of the scrappy floral 9-patch when it was being created, now it is quilted, bound and looking great on the kitchen table.

The production rate is so brisk at present that I never blogged about making the companion quilt top, where the blocks are predominantly grey. These blocks were put together last February (Stitching Through the Storms) and whilst my original idea was that both the floral and the grey would be in the same quilt top, once on the design wall it was clear they didn't want to live together. Hence two smaller tops.

The narrow little red border was a swine because the finished width is half an inch, but I love the accent it gives and was definitely worth the faffing. Tomorrow I will add the binding which is going to be the same grey as the borders.

It too is destined for tablecloth-duty.


Thursday, 14 January 2021

The real number of Covid deaths?

I am so angry about this, I'm not quite sure how to respond.

Whenever I hear a news person announcing the latest death toll it is always accompanied by the phrase "death within 28 days of a positive Covid test" and my immediate thought has been "but what about those people who take longer than 4 weeks to die?" Which is a dreadful thought to have, but we are regularly told just how long some people have spent in hospital and it is often more than 28 days.

Do the 16,393 individuals the government are currently ignoring not count (Govt.  numbers are 84,767 on 13th January).

Is the discrepancy incompetance or deliberately downplaying the facts? Do Boris and his chums not want to frighten the country? Maybe a wider knowledge of the current numbers might actually galvanise the entitled idiots into obeying social distancing rules?

I try to get my news from multiple sources, possibly too many, but it is what feels right to me at present. I look at the BBC & Sky, and Channel 4 & ITV, I look at American sites, European news outlets, scan Press Reader for a wider picture, and sometimes I go to see what the "red tops" are telling their readership. But I admit to coming back to The Guardian time and time again. Like a lot of stories, this one will probably not make the mainstream broadcasts, so I have taken the liberty of making screenshots.

Deaths pass 100,000

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Damp and drizzly - Hurrah!

I am normally the first to grumble when the weather is grey, overcast, damp and mizzly but not yesterday.

It meant it was much warmer outside and the 4-plus inches of ice on the Big Pond has started to melt. Happy Day.

Also happy is completion of the binding on my Homespun strippy quilt. I am really pleased with how it has come out, feels like one of those "the sum is more than the total of its parts" things. The main fabrics all came from scrap bags and the blue is so old I cannot remember where I bought it, which is most unusual because I tend to have pretty good recall for when, where, how material came into my stash.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Kate's Photo Scavenger Hunt: Gifts

Slightly different this year - one word per week rather than many words once a month.

Hmm, how to approach this project in 2021 which is shaping up to be another year very different from those which have gone before?  Do I use my extensive photo archive to rummage through personal history looking for an appropriate image?  Shall I set myself the challenge of taking an image which represents the word for this week, in the week that it is due?

Might I do both depending upon my mood, the weather, and whatever lockdown rules apply in each particular week?

"Gift" means something very different to each of us. To someone who lost their job during 2020  the chance to earn a regular wage and pay their bills would be a gift. For a patient struggling to breath with Covid-ravaged lungs - the oxygen mask and kindness of a nurse is a gift. The person made homeless last year through no fault of their own may well consider a warm, dry bed and a hot meal to be the greatest gift.

I am exceptionally fortunate not to have experienced any of those things, so I will select something far more personal.

This little girl is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. Life with her was rarely boring, massively enriched and quite unforgettable.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Reflecting . . .

Thank you so very much for the thoughtful and supportive comments you left yesterday. You know that normally I would take the time to reply to each, individually.

These are not normal times, are they? I watched the attack on Washington DC's Capitol building last night with increasing disbelief, and then a sense of shame. Because whilst the world condemns the 45th President for inciting his supporters to behave a certain way, I was suggesting that we too, could consider violence against people with whom we disagree. And that is not OK, ever. Yes, I could argue that it was a rhetorical suggestion, but it was still not right.

A friend told me yesterday that it is estimated one person is dying in California every 15 minutes which is horrific.

In the UK, there were 1,041 reported deaths from Coronavirus yesterday, and unless my numerical skills have completely deserted me, that is 96 quarter-hour periods, which means nearly 11 deaths every 15 minutes*. We are truly in deep *💩**💩**💩*

The Homespun strippy quilt is done and I'm beyond thrilled with how it has turned out. Sub zero temperatures continue and ice has been broken/moved in the Big Pond so that the birds have some water available. I will be spending the day quietly applying binding. It is not outwith the realm of possibility that the woodburner will be lit very early. 😉

* it is 10.844 but how could you possibly measure 'point 8' of a death?

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Other people's stories

I did not plan to blog today, but I needed to get this out of my system:

I went out fairly early this morning, minus 2 when I left the house, and that meant the supermarket was gloriously empty. So empty I took a photo but I am not going to publish it because I have three stores to chose from in our little town, and blogland doesn't need to know which one I was in.

Despite the lack of customers a young lady moving stock scrambled to get out of my way when I wanted something from a shelf near where she worked. We made eye contact, I told her not to worry, and then realised that she looked sad and exhausted. So we chatted for a short while and I learned she was a single mum who had been awake since 4.00am consoling a small child with a screaming nightmare. The little girl had heard something at nursery school and was terrified that "mum was going to get Covid and she {the child} would be all alone". I could see this young woman was absolutely worn out, but she told me that SHE did not matter, and as long as her daughter was OK, then nothing else was important. If anyone ever needed a hug, it was her and when I said so she agreed . . . but we maintained our Covid-safe distance.

At the checkout I was served by someone who has been scanning my groceries for years, I don't "know" her but as is normal around here, we blether gently whilst she works. I knew she had five grandchildren - she often mentions them, but this morning I founded out that their mother died of cancer a couple of years ago, and recently her son lost his job at a large local hotel.

I loaded our shopping into the car, returned my trolley, and then sat in the car and cried.

Perhaps this is how vigilante groups started in the past: because listening to these two ladies I was quite sure that if I could line up all the people who have NOT been socially distancing, all the selfish idiots who have continued to meet up, and all the non-mask wearing self-absorbed individuals who have contributed to our infection rates being out of control then I would quite happily kick the living daylights out of them.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Special Offer: Put Mountain Rescue team members at risk, and get a free Policeman 👮🏼‍♂️🚓

Why are politicians continually so surprised that Covid infections continue to spread? Because there are far too many bloody idiots who think the rules do not apply to them, and that it is OK to drive to 'safe' rural areas when they have been expressly told not to.

What I want to know (rhetorical sort of question) is if infection rates are rising so fast when most of us were already under Tier restrictions which prevented travel and close contact, who the hell is ignoring it all and allowing the blasted virus to spread?

Reading Mountain Rescue incident reports from up and down the country (not just the Lake District) it is safe to say that a significant number of callouts in 2019 were to people who: do not normally go to hills & mountains, do not know what the hell they are doing, do not have the correct clothing or adequate footwear, do not know how to read a map. I am not trying to be exclusionist but come on people . . . employ just a small amount of common sense, please?

So you want to be Bear Grylls? You've seen Julia Bradbury bolding striding off with barely a bottle of water to sustain her and a 50 year old book from some dead bloke as her main guide? Leave it until we're out of a pandemic, OK?

Sadly I have no confidence that the aforementioned idiots will stay at home, despite Boris telling them that is what they are legally obliged to do for the next seven weeks, maybe longer if the lockdown has to be extended.

But at least some Cumbria Police are taking the initiative - maybe if there are enough reports of fines and penalties being enforced, perhaps the message might, eventually, start to get through?

After Boris's lockdown announcement yesterday there are reports today that roads are busy with "Londoner's fleeing the capital". Oh goody. Of the four areas in England where cases are rising fastest, three are in Cumbria: Carlisle (an hour away), Barrow (a couple of hours away) and the Local Authority adjacent to where we live.

Edit: For those who do not want to read the comments, some additional data:

New Zealand. Another island. As of today their TOTAL numbers are:
Cases: 2186
Deaths: 25
Recovered: 2100

These numbers are from their own health department:

Monday, 4 January 2021

Frozen and nearly Finished

It has been below freezing all year so every morning I have added "free up some water for the birds" to my early morning routine. So far I have managed not to get completely soaked, fall over or dump my camera in the water, so I will take that as a 'win'.

Another definite 'win' was the completion of my Homespun strippy quilt before New Year. Although it took a while to find the right layout for the strippy units, once I had made some decisions the actual quilt top went together (relatively) easily and quickly and looks exactly as I envisaged. Not quite so simple has been completing it; I know from bitter experience that unless I can visualise how it will all look when quilted I must not run the longarm machine. To do so will send me to a whole world of pain with much unpicking. Been there, done that, finally learnt my lesson. It has taken until today to get the backing, batting and top set up on the APQS and fingers crossed I will have it stitched this week.

Rather than twiddle my thumbs whilst I was waiting for longarm inspiration, I set to with a pile of very scrappy and not-terribly-well-made 9 patch blocks that were created last year when I was trying to tame the accumulation of years and years of very small scraps.

I found this a rather sad post to revisit: Stitching Through The Storms

The campervan was serviced and ready to roll, and at that point the lone voices saying "stop air travel now, lockdown NOW" were ignored as scaremongers and an inconvenience. I often wonder where we would be in this economically damaged, pandemic world if everyone had paid attention 12 months ago.

But enough political pondering - this week I have turned those floral 9-patch blocks into a little quilt top which fits well on the table, and is also a great size for a lap quilt. Just need to piece a backing and it can go on the longarm as soon as Homespun is completed. In the odd world which is being creative with fabric, I already know exactly which panto pattern I will use, and which thread - if only I could make the same decisions so quickly for the one that is pinned on.

I'm all too aware that if not being able to decide how to quilt something is my biggest problem, I am indeed in a privileged position.

I have just watched Nicola Sturgeon put Scotland into a lockdown from midnight tonight and wonder if later on today, Boris will have the balls to do the same thing here. The new variant of Covid is far more contagious and apparently spreads 70% more easily. I don't like this any more than the next person: lockdown, the feeling of being under house arrest, the economic damage it causes, the mental health impact of isolation, but unless and until the transmission chain is broken, I cannot see what the alternative is.

We currently live in a very uncertain world, and I do have fears that we have not yet seen the worst - "45" still has another 16 days in the White House and Lord knows what he might try to unleash between now and 20th January. Cheerful bugger, aren't I?

Friday, 1 January 2021


"Happy New Year" seems a bit hollow with everything else we're dealing with at present.

Instead may I start the year by wishing you health, safety, security and a good night's sleep?

Whilst answering a comment left on a previous blog I realised how many people I have seen mention that despite being at home more than ever they are more tired, and not sleeping well. Having suffering from insomnia for years (since my mid-twenties) and then had a period when pain kept me awake most nights, I know what it is like to try to function sleep deprived and it is impossible.

Add to that the reduction in our immune capacity when we are exhausted, and now might be the best time ever to get enough quality shut-eye.

After years of trying all the 'usual' sleep hygiene advice, to absolutely no avail, early in 2019 I stumbled across "Sleep" by Nick Littlehales.

It might not be too far-fetched to say that this book has possibly changed my life more than any other. I am not going to try to summarise his approach, because I would miss out something important, but thanks to Amazon (yes, I know they have killed high street book shops) the knowledge is yours for a about the cost of that coffee and muffin you no longer purchase on the way to work (and if you click this link and purchase, apparently I might receive a whole penny!)

I know this is not my 'normal' type of post. Up to now I have insisted that Bag End is a personal journal about creating a wildlife garden, making quilts, being Staff to beautiful canines, and getting out for the occasional walk. But life changes, we all change, and the world changed almost beyond belief in 2020. I have struggled over the last few months to write my "normal stuff" but the two posts I published in December gave me a lot of pleasure: well to be honest, it was the wonderful comments I received that provided the pleasure, so thank you HUGELY to anyone who took the time to leave a word or two. Unless you have a blog of your own you will have no idea how much it means.

But as I have said, those posts were quite hard to write, so I might pop out the occasional post like this to try and maintain a little momentum.

Here endeth the public service announcement 😀. It is forecast to be bitterly cold again today, so no gardening for me. I do not fancy icy roads (for possibly the first time ever, our dustbin collection failed yesterday because it was too slippery and dangerous) so I envisage a day with fabric. In light of current Covid infection rates and all the other nonsense that is going on in our world, that makes it a good day.