Friday, 30 October 2009

Sewing gods do have a sense of humour.

Today I have been searching around the Internet for a 1/4 inch foot for my electric sewing machine. Having blown the dust off it a couple of weeks ago and then making sure that it does still work. I've been playing with it, it will probably need a service but it is a sturdy Singer machine that is only 23 years old and has done very little in its life time.

Yesterday I walked over to the other side of town to find that the sewing machine shop was no longer there. And along with that hubby has been trying to find the sewing shop open in the next town to no avail. Today, I spent hours on the net, generally finding that the person who would have the knowledge was not in, was on holiday, or that they didn't have a 1/4" foot in stock. Frustration reigned.

On one last ditch attempt I found a chap that really knew his machines and I have as from four o'clock this afternoon a 1/4" foot winging its way to me - along with a walking foot, darning foot and cover for the feed. I was most pleased.. I've spent some serious amount of man hours on this little adventure.

Cue Singer Treadle machine.

This machine only came into my home recently, just before everything went pear shaped in March so I hadn't had time to look at it. It was bought from new by a lady that my mother used to work for, she gave it to my mother when she could no longer sew. Up until that point she had made all of her curtains, cushions and many of her clothes on this machine. Mother admired it and had been using it as an ornament for many years, but wanted more space for something else so I very quickly put my hand up and said, "me, let me have it, I would love it so" and so it came to sit in my living room.

Whilst telling hubby about my adventures today, we decided to see what model my very old treadle Singer was, just to see what was available for this machine.

And there, sitting proudly and just waiting for discovery was....

A 1/4" Foot!!!

Madness I tell you, madness.

Apart from a box of goodies for the machine there were some other little goodies that might amuse you.

The original instruction manual dated 1920 in fabulous condition.

and an old Coventry Evening Telegraph newspaper screwed up in the base dated January 2nd 1964.

I love this advert it seems to depict the glamor of the 60's, just look at the hairstyles of the well dressed lady of the day. I'll bet they went to bed with rollers in!

Pieces of eight, pieces of eight!!!

Meet Winston.

Isn't he adorable?

I've always wanted a budgie, my Nan used to have one and we became firm friends and I've always loved them. Hubby on the other hand, during our twenty years of marriage has never understood my obsession with budgies so I've never been lucky enough to own one. I've probably spent several weeks of my life looking at budgies at various pet centers desperately trying to convince hubby how lovely they are. And then had to sadly walk away, because they sing to my heart and I was always very sad to leave them.

And have you seen the price of budgie cages. A decently sized one is starting to be serious money so I've never felt that I could go against hubby if he really didn't want one.

A couple of weeks ago whilst visiting my very favourite place in all the world, the tip (just call me Stig) somebody had recently thrown away a very fine cage, a really nice one, with all of its accessories and the lady in charge let me have it for a fiver. A fiver... That really made me smile. I think I really was meant to have it because we were just dumping rubbish and were on our way to a large garden centre (to buy autumn raspberry canes) which has the finest selection of budgies for miles around. I was so happy - hubby was slightly grumpy. I ignored him.

How to select a budgie? I knew I wanted a boy - I had been secretly reading up on budgies over the years and boys are meant to make the best speakers. I also knew I wanted a brightly coloured green budgie with a fluffy head. So when Winston kept landing on the wire netting of his cage next to us for a natter the choice was made.

We came home and set everything up for Winston and the boys moaned it wasn't a kitten and that they would never entertain Winston or look after him in anyway. They were seriously grumpy with me. And hubby was slightly grumpy too.

And then later that evening, hubby starts to laugh as Winston is trying to navigate the living room and find his favourite perches. And then ----- picks him up and starts talking to him. They were bonding.. These days hubby is often the first to get Winston out of his cage in the evening, I'm knitting, hubby is talking to Winston.

and the grumpy teenage boys - well, they are often to be seen with Winston on their shoulder or just sat with a parrot on their finger talking to him.

Winston does have a friend, the dishwasher. The dishwasher peeps four times when its finished it cycle, Winston responds, then there is a delay of twenty seconds and the dishwasher peeps twice more, which Winston responds to. I think its the start of a beautiful relationship..

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A Public Service Announcement.

My ironing is up to date.

As is my washing.

All socks that can be, have been paired and put away.

My husband actually sat on the 'other' Sofa last night.

This is a rare occasion, a bit like Halley's comet.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Lunch.


This is why I love having an allotment. Everything on this plate hubby and I - and the chickens! - have grown ourselves.

Tasty, fresh as a daisy produce, picked at a stage when I want to eat them. And not forgetting that not one of these delightful vegetables has been subjected to pesticides.

And I think we have done very well to be able to provide a lunch such as this at the end of October. That's no mean feat. The carrots and beetroot are from a very late sowing, as are the little gems, the peppers are just about finished, they won't ripen into a glorious red at this time of year. The cucumbers have done extremely well this year and I should have tomatoes slowly ripening for another month or two. I'm trying to grow a new variety to me of winter lettuce, I'll let you know how it goes later in the year.

I think we should be able to continue with salads such as this for at least one more month, before the wintry coleslaw's and bean and vegetable salads take over from the eggs and lettuce.

The cost, now the greenhouse and shed have paid for themselves, I think, including grain for the chickens, probably not even 25p per plate. (obviously not including man hours - but then who includes man hours into a favourite hobby!)

I know when I do need to buy something in the way of vegetables from the shop its always a real shock to me just how much everything costs. I've had to start buying onions again as I ran out last week, although I'm using leeks where possible in most recipes, (we have lots of leeks!) and I shall be running out of potatoes in the next fortnight.

In the old days there was such a thing as a potato man who delivered sacks of potatoes to you from the back of his truck. Tasty, fresh, locally produced spuds and they were cheap. Now your lucky to find an independent green grocer on the high street. Hey Ho.

Monday, 26 October 2009

9 patch for beginners.

I've been ooohing and aaaahing over Knitted Bears gorgeous quilts for quite a few months and have always been very pleased when she updates with a new quilt or patchwork dog. It reminded me when I used to sew when the boys were young, making either something to sell for the school Christmas fair, or waistcoats or jazzy summer shorts.

And that is as far as it had gone.

Until very recently, when I was in my LYS who does a fabulous array of materials for clothing, ranging from materials for winter coats to gorgeous silk skirts and where I spotted some fat quarters. Well they called to me, they did, in a very loud voice. Some might say that you could even see them waving. And I felt sad, because I didn't know how to play with them.

And as with all things and my addictive personality, once inside my head the thoughts of these fat quarters wouldn't leave me alone and just as this was happening to me, Knitted Bear started to talk about her next gorgeous quilt.

It was just too much to bear. (no pun intended!)

And so I booked myself onto the next available course that was suitable for me at
Quilter's Den, "9 patch for beginners".

I chose my materials from there, I think they are gorgeous and they remind me of autumn, allotments, fires, the smell of wood smoke and leaves composting.

1st 9 patch, not too bad for a 1st attempt.

2nd 9 patch, I loved making the triangles.

3rd 9 patch, I wasn't too impressed with this patch, it seemed a lot of work for very little effect. (and its a bit shabby I think)

4th 9 patch. I love, love, love the pattern on this patch. We had one hour to go and were just working from a photograph, I really wanted to finish my patches so I worked as fast as I could. Amazingly even though I could see tiny errors appearing as I worked, this patch seems the most accurate of them all.

All four together, don't they look fab.

I'm going to make them into a cushion cover just as soon as -

I manage to purchase a 1/4'' foot for my sewing machine.
I learn how to make a cushion cover
I learn how to make binding.
I learn how to quilt.

Its all doable. :)

Friday, 23 October 2009

The imaginery blanket - Sir lancelot to the rescue.

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived a coven of friendly witches. Rather than cast spells to harm people, because they were friendly witches, they used to cast spells with fleece from sheep and on special occasions goats and even camels were tickled under their chin until they gave up a small amount of their coat. You could always tell when a witch was deep in thought and casting a spell because of the twitch of her needles or the purr of her spinning wheel.

And before you could say "Abra Cadabra Fish and Chips!" there would magically appear a beautiful garment to keep a loved one warm. The other witches would gather around the witch that had cast such a fabulous spell to murmur approval at just how soft and warm the garment was and how much it would be loved and then with a contented sigh the witches would go back to casting magical spells of their own.

One day a young and beautiful black cat called Smokey came into their coven and said to the witches who were all sat quietly casting spells and generally have a rather nice time, "I have a message from afar" , the witches stopped casting their spells and listened, keen to hear what Smokey the talking cat was going to say. "Soon, but not too soon, there will be a baby born to my mistress and I know that her hearts desire would be to wrap her baby up in the most beautiful, softest, knit in the most beautiful colours blanket, I have heard about your magic spells, can you help me make this possible"

Well, the witches almost let out a collective scream of glee..

You see even though they liked to cast spells individually, there was nothing better in all the world than when the witches all cast a spell together, it was even better than cheese on toast and a piping hot mug of cream of tomato soup after a cold and frosty walk. It really was the most magical of moments to cast spells together, the witches were so very happy that they immediately set to work.

The witches met for breakfast several days later after they had spent all of the previous days and most of the nights casting spells, you could tell that they were doing this because of the delightful sound of the click of the needles. Although you couldn't hear Minerva's needles as she had taken to using bamboo so they were very quiet, but occasionally and if you listened hard enough you could just make out her strange incantations of her very own spell, "M1, YO2, SSK, K5, P4," and so on. You knew Minerva was concocting some sort of deliciousness when her spells became as complex as this.

Eagerly the witches placed the shapes they had knitted on the table and began to sew the blanket together. It was going to be such a beautiful blanket and the witches were giddy with excitement. But every time they sewed two of the shapes together "Poof" they disappeared. The first time this happened, the witches were flabbergasted. They stood back from the table not knowing what to do, they knew not what strong magic this was.

After a strong cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit the witches decided that they would change the thread and needle that they were using to sew the shapes together with. That would surely get rid of this strange magic that had settled into their coven.

Having changed needle and thread they started to work again. And just when they had nearly finished sewing two shapes together "Poof" they too disappeared. This was strange magic indeed. Every time the witches tried to sew two pieces together they disappeared. It became a blanket of their imagination, an imaginary blanket.

Together they decided they would need to consult with Sir Lancelot who was a very friendly lion who had been known to help the witches in times of need. "What shall we do?" they asked him, "We have made an imaginary blanket, is there such a thing as an imaginary blanket? because we seem to have made one."

Sir Lancelot was very wise, he told the witches that sometimes and he had only known this to happen once or even twice, that the power of this particular spell that had been cast upon this blanket could wear off within one whole year. That the witches must think often and with love about this blanket because that was the only way that this spell could be broken and even if they did that every single day the power of this spell could prove too strong and the blanket would only ever be an imaginary blanket.

The witches were very sad. They had loved that blanket and now it had disappeared right before their noses. One whole year passed and even though the witches had thought about the blanket often and with love and sometimes nearly every day it remained an imaginary blanket. Smokey the talking cat was quite sad too as she had nothing to take home to wrap her mistresses beautiful baby son in.

Sir Lancelot could see how sad the witches were and although he was a wise old lion he could only cast small spells, they were beautiful spells but they could never match the magnificence of the witches spells he wanted to help.

And quietly and without any fuss he waved his magic wand and softly chanted

Make me a jacket
Bright and red
To keep me warm
From morning 'till bed.

And "Poof" a jacket appeared which was lovely and warm and so very, very soft and a most beautiful warm red which would suit the year old boy very nicely indeed.

There was one slight error, Sir Lancelot had included the word me in his poem so when the the jacket appeared it was Sir Lancelot that was wearing it! But we will forgive him that one slight error shall we.


The End.


Sir Lancelot has told me that this special jacket for a beautiful boy has been cast from Cashsoft Aran by Rowan, in colourway 10, it took five balls and was made with with a special spell from Debbie Bliss called Ribbed Baby Jacket and that he added an extra inch to the length of the body.

and with special thanks to Christine who went above and beyond the call of duty and beautifully sewed this jacket up for me - thanks Christine.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Reality or Illusion?

Its sometimes hard to tell.

Especially whilst lying in bed with a migraine.

On Tuesday son no.1 was helping to load up the broken dishwasher into a lorry, and cut his finger deeply.

Well it seemed deep to me.

When it was thrust under my nose whilst I was lying in bed. All I could see was bright, thick and rather too much of it blood. And the cut looked really deep.

And it wouldn't stop bleeding, it was still bleeding some fifteen minutes later.

I dressed myself and then bandaged said son up before going off to the hospital so that they could look at it.

Now at this point I'm starting to doubt my sanity, because upright, I feel that it probably isn't quite as bad as I thought it was when I was horizontal, but it is still deep and it is still bleeding and I'm in a quandary. Do I, say to my darling child, "don't worry about it, it will be fine" and then when it turns green and drops off, blame myself for ever and a day. Or do I, carry on with my actions, and let the doctors have a look.

I'm afraid I took the cowards way out, and I'm so sorry for wasting the hospitals time and I'm sure the nurses were laughing about the paranoid mother with the 20 something year old son, (not in a nasty way, just a yep, we've seen the paranoid mothers before way) although I managed to redeem myself and Not go in with him to see the triage nurse. (although emotionally that was a struggle and if it had been our 17 yr old, I probably would have done)

And when son no.1, walked back to me, with a plaster on his finger, (and not the white, mends bones type plaster, the little pink strip you buy from a chemists type plaster) I knew and it was a painful lesson that I had probably made the wrong call.

Reality or illusion, its sometimes hard to tell.





as a post script, at least he's updating his tetanus on Monday, as this is five years out of date. Every cloud as they say.

Friday, 2 October 2009

"We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land,

But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand,
He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain
The breezes and the sunshine and soft refreshing rain.

All good gifts around us are sent from heav'n above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,
For all his love.


I find this time of year bittersweet, its wonderful to be harvesting our crops after the hard work of the year, but frosty mornings are just around the corner, the nights are drawing in and I realise that winter will soon be upon us. Lets hope we all have a colourful autumn.

The allotment has much to offer at this time of year, we still have all the ingredients to make a colourful and tasty salad along with the first offerings of autumn vegetables for tasty soups or warming stews, the sort that nourish the soul as well as the body.

Sunday's harvest.


I'm very pleased with my calabrese or as we call it in the shops broccoli. Its the first time I've grown this and they've done quite nicely. The taste was superb, every time I grow and then eat something I haven't grown before I am always surprised just how much is lost in taste in the transporting and storing of shop bought vegetables.

The last of the peas, which I shelled at the plot. This is two rows worth of peas which was about 16ft long. They had just caught mildew so the pods were starting to go black, but inside my treasured peas were perfect. I shelled these with the sun on my back listening to the bees busy in their work, it was a blissful afternoon.

First of the swedes,

and the parsnips.

I sowed a couple of lines of beetroot a few weeks ago, hoping to catch just one last crop before the autumn. They have done really well, better than the spring or summer offerings.

and just a few toms, most of which will being cooked down and frozen for winter use.

We regularly fight the squirrels for our cob nuts. Its always a race to see who will get their first, this year we managed to save about a quarter of the nuts for ourselves. Last year we didn't get any!!

Our pumpkins have done rather nicely, I love the colours of the Turks Turban. And a marrow, kindly donated by another plot holder.

And last but by no means least, our first eggs from the new chickens. They are small but perfectly formed and very tasty.

We have potatoes, shallots, garlic, onions and various dried beans in store along with pickles, chutneys and jams. All we need is a delivery of coal (smokeless fuel) and the chimney sweep to pop around and we will be set up for winter. I hope that squirrel remembers where he hid his nuts!