Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Presents.

A short time ago I won a blog giveaway that Jenny was running. The prize was for sock yarn and all my readers will know how partial I am to a ball or two *cough* of sock yarn in my stash. So I entered not thinking anything more about it, well, I won! (and became quite giddy that I had won) Jenny told me that she had posted it yesterday and to be on the lookout. It arrived today, not bad at all from Scotland.

Fully expecting a package weighing 100g or thereabouts, I realised that the box the present(s) were in was very heavy and (as all good present unwrappers should) upon shaking the box it rattled! Now, I don't know of any sock yarn that Rattles!

I became quite giddy, I unwrapped the first layer and came across a beautiful black box, already I have plans for it. Its just such a nice box on its own. And then I carefully unpacked that beautiful black box and lots and lots of purple packages came out of it.

Don't they look pretty, it was so exciting. I unwrapped them slowly savouring each and every gift.

Firstly there was a beautiful Easter card, so pretty.

Look at it all out of the box, how on earth did it all fit in.

There is beautiful sock yarn, Regia designed by Kaffe Fassett in a colour suitable for a boy or a girl. Jenny had offered to knit socks for the lucky winner but I had asked her if I could knit my own to get double the pleasure of the yarn. It will be lovely to knit this and remember my excitement at receiving all of these gifts.

An absolutely gorgeous linen tea towel by Portmeirion, far too posh to dry tea cups with. I shall save it for special picnics to wrap crusty baguettes in, it really is beautiful. And there was chocolate, I love chocolate through the post when you least expect it. All plans to be good are quickly forgotten as the first whiff of cocoa hits your nose and your hands greedily pull at the wrapping to just have one taste. As son no. 2 was with me and I was explaining how this blog giveaway had worked, (he was feigning interest but really he was drifting away) he thought the chocolate was an extremely good idea and practically claimed it as his own.

and yet more presents, Rose Petal Salve by Rose & Apothecary, I've just opened it and its evocative of the smell of crystalised rose petals that my grandmother used to make and use on her cakes and trifles. Its just lovely. There is L'Occitane soap with 20% shea butter and a tube of Orange Flower Botanical Body Wash by Liz Earle, I shall really enjoy using them, such lovely luxuries to spoil myself with. There is a smelly candle, which is fun because I can't exactly work out its scent but I am sure I am getting orange and cloves. Some pretty Cath Kidson tissues, just perfect for my next cold!

I nearly forgot to mention the pretty postcards, one of Greyfriars Bobby, I love the story of that little furry terrier.



I have tears streaming down my face as I watch this clip, it was one of my favourite films as a child. Who knew it was in colour, I thought it was in black and white and its only just hit me that this was because we only had a black and white television. Oh how times change! (giggling quietly to self)

And then there was a fierce Scottish pussy cat postcard and a lovely shaggy highland cow.

And last but by no means least, a new variety of courgettes to try this summer. That will be fun, they do look tasty.

I think I have remembered everything!

All crammed back into the beautiful black box.

Thank you Jenny for spoiling me. I've loved every moment of it. (and will enjoy it all again and again and again as I use these lovely gifts)

Monday, 29 March 2010

A quilted cushion.

Many moons ago, I made a panel of beautiful patches at my first workshop at The Quilters Den in Warwick called nine patch for beginners. I fully recommend taking a class like this because it gives you the confidence to handle your cutting mat, ruler and ever so sharp rotary cutter. It also shows you how to make pretty triangles. I liked that part the best.

I made this blog post about it in October showing you what I had achieved up to that point. And to be honest I didn't have the confidence at that time to go much further. I have learned many techniques since then and felt able to complete my cushion cover this weekend. To be absolutely honest - you know me so well, I was also searching for sewing jobs to play with my new toy with.

Eric had to get in on the act, this cushion cover already has a light dressing of cat hairs on it, mainly because the cats thought it was comfy whilst I was trying to finish the binding with hand sewing.

And a pic of it in situ. I love it, these colours just make me break into a great big smile.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Spoilt.

Me, that is. Spoilt. To the extreme.

And, I am silly excited.

Because, well, hubby (who I wish I could work out when he is feeling generous because I am female and I would use this to my advantage!, but after twenty odd years I still haven't figured it out!!) has bought me a supa dupa brand new quilting sewing machine today.

The story goes like this,

I went to my sewing morning on Friday and showed the girls the blocks I had sewn for my quilt and bag. They liked them but observed that my sewing machine needed attention. I told them about the troubles I had had with it recently. To give you some history I bought this sewing machine second hand off a girlfriend of mine over twenty years ago, I think its probably about 26 years old. It has its grumbles but is generally a good solid machine if you don't ask it to do something too tricky or buttonholes, its never done buttonholes, the part for the button holes on the machine had broken a very long time ago. But I loved this machine and it has made lovely waistcoats and shorts, curtains and quilt covers, and all sorts of odds and sods for the parents and teachers association in two different schools. At Christmas for fairs and panto's you could see the smoke coming off it.

Anyway it needed a service and on the way hubby asked me whether it really was worth servicing and getting up to speed, bearing in mind that they probably won't have the parts available, re button hole part and rickety sewing table (a plastic plug that stabilises the table had long since broken away).

And I could see what he was saying, but thought well actually, spending on a machine at the lower end of the price bracket is going to give me a machine that is of a much less quality than the one I have now. So I explained that to him. (I think that might be the key - impart information to your husbands so that they can come up with the same opinion as yourself!) And to be honest I had started reading around about machines so I knew what I was starting to look for.

So we took my lovely Singer Serenade in and it was as we feared, the parts for the button hole and table were unavailable and if something needed replacing whilst it was being serviced it would either entail a pricey part or.. no part at all. You could hear the death knell ring loud and clear.

So we looked at machines and after hubby had recovered slightly from how expensive they really can be. He started to look seriously at machines, which left me slightly shell shocked as just half an hour previously I was taking my rickety sewing machine for a service, not thinking about a new machine. I needed time out and access to the Internet. We came home, drank tea and chatted whilst looking at sewing machines on the net. Then a phone call was made to see if the shop would price match, which they would and we were driving back to buy a supa dupa does everything you could ever imagine (and more!) quilting sewing machine.

I'm still in shock.

I've spent about six hours, probably eight, reading the manual, threading the bobbin and the machine and doing silly things with it. But the thing I'm most proud of, are my buttonholes...

There are ten types of button holes on this machines - you could go giddy just thinking about that!

Here are just three.


I don't know whether it will make my 1/4 " seams any more accurate, but it really is going to be fun trying.

Oh and I get to have a days free tuition with it as well.. How glam is that!!!!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The devil is in the detail.

As some of you may remember I am not casting on over lent. This is proving more difficult than you might imagine. Firstly because I am tired of knitting Lizard Ridge squares, there is beautiful sock yarn calling to me and not least a newly pregnant friend.. (who I am itching to cast on for). There is a summer top that I could continue with as I've only started the ribbing, but again its a lace pattern and I have to be in the right kind of mood to struggle with it before it becomes easy to me. And there is a cardigan that needs blocking so that I can sew it up before continuing with the button band, and somehow I've lost my knitting mojo for this particular project.

So I was stuck.

When, I was rescued by my monthly quilting class.. This month we were making log cabin squares. I've always wondered how these clever little squares came together and now I know.
Carie (otherwise known as Speedy Gonzales - Arriba! Arriba! Andale! Andale! the fastest mouse in all of Warwickshire) sped on and produced this in just two hours..

Impressive isn't it! Its nearly finished!

Me, well, I'm built for comfort not speed, and I really enjoyed learning how this magical square comes together.

Mine, with quite a way to go.

But the sewing bug had caught a hold of me and wasn't going to let go anytime soon. So, after a quick consultation of what my promise actually was at the beginning of Lent I realised that it was about casting on, not sewing. Ha, ha, the devil is in the detail, so with a clear conscience and my spirits raised immeasurably, I've spent a few lovely hours hand sewing and cheerfully engaged in work at my sewing machine.

Firstly I finished my tumbling blocks, (I always want to call them building blocks for some reason)

They came out quite nice, I can see the errors, but I think I have worked out my mistakes.

Then whilst the instructions were fresh in my mind I finished my log cabin square.

and so I have three squares towards my quilt.

And then the patchwork bug really took hold and I made some squares towards a tote to carry my cutting board in.

I picked up these beautiful fabrics at the Stitch and Creative Craft Show at The Three Counties showground in Malvern. My knitting friends Ronnie, Janice and Janet had very kindly taken me along and I had had a lovely time.

I was practicing my triangles, I like triangles they are fun.

Then I made another log cabin square.

There is something very interesting about the two log cabins. They are cut to exactly the same measurements and both pieced with a 1/4" foot, but on different machines. They have come out completely different sizes. Obviously its human error (me!) I have seen how to check a 1/4" seam in several books, I will have to do this just to see how inaccurate I really am.

And then I asked hubby to choose my next square and he chose this.

He liked the tumbling blocks and thinks it would look nice on a bag.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

A very large cat blanket?

Florence thinks so.

So, the story goes like this, I'd finished the 24th square of my Lizard Ridge blanket a few days ago and decided I would photograph this momentous occasion for my blog. I'd laid the squares out on the kitchen table and started to photograph them.

one click, two clicks, three clicks,

Four clicks. Florence lands on the blanket, looking slightly awkward.

She lands, looks slightly awkward and lays down almost immediately. With a "oooooh wool" look on her face. Trust me I know this look.

Just making herself comfy to have a backrub.

"Do be careful Florence, you'll slip off" As Florence is swiftly falling into a yarn filled trance.

Yep, completely stoned!

Absolutely drugged up the eyeballs with the yarn fumes - Can I have what she's having?!

Oh Wait, there is a plan.. note the extended paw.

At this point there was a pause and Florence was looking all around her debating her next move.

And then an innocently stretched out cat... or is it ????????

"If I just keep a hold of some of these squares ..."

"and pull them towards me..."

"I could have a supa dupa cat bed/blanket/woolly mountain to sleep on"

I was going to say something sensible about the Lizard Ridge blanket, but I think Florence has stolen the show and said it all. I have just over 600g of scraps left, I'm still knitting squares, I'm not sure how big the blanket is going to be when I decide to finish it, only time will tell.



Friday, 19 March 2010

Stained Glass - finished !

Can you tell what it is yet? (said in best Rolf Harris tones for probably the fourth time!)

I do hope you can.

It is a pair of Calla Lilies forever immortalized in glass.
When I first embarked on this stained glass, who would have guessed what a roller coaster of a ride my health would provide for my entertainment. Which is why this has taken such a long time to complete. And to be absolutely honest if it wasn't for hubby last term, it would still be sat waiting for me, as the recovery from the pneumonia has taken such a long time.

Last I saw of this, I had cut all of the glass and started the leading up process. Hubby has finished the leading up, soldering and cementing. I think he's done a very lovely job and I thank him for it.
I am very pleased with the sizing. Its nearly perfect apart from an inch at the top, which to be honest is as close as I was going to get. I was rather nervous that it would come out a fraction of an inch too wide, which would have meant taking it all apart and starting again, but, no, its practically perfect, not too bad for a first time at all. Unlike knitting you can't give it a quick tug to make things fit.
When we had the extension built the builders asked me if I wanted frosted glass for the loo and I politely declined, I just don't like frosted glass, it just screams 'this is the loo' to me. I decided too late that I would have liked a porthole which I had seen. It was made from very old glass and was beautiful, but planning would have been required and the builders had already started work.
Anyway life with children takes over and I dressed the window with pretty material and placed a large money plant that was taken from a cutting of a plant my brother gave to my mother when he was about eight, which is nearly fifty years ago. Fifteen years on, (and the time really has flown, the money plant is still going strong, although I did try to kill it last year by leaving it outside and an unpredicted ground frost got it!) I spied a stained glass window course at my local college.
and I thought, aaaah, that is just what I want, a stained glass window for the loo would be the perfect answer.
It still requires a little bit of polishing up and finding a way of supporting it safely in the window and then it will be done.

The photographs above are taken with and without a flash, I do hope you like them. I've carefully chosen certain sections of the glass to replicate how the lily would look in real life, take the stem for instance, its vertically stripy allowing the water to come up and feed the flower. The Stigma of the Lily is always a strong bright yellow as is mine. I've carefully chosen the shading of different parts of the flower to replicate what it would be like in real life and I chose the background glass to represent a lovely blue green day, my favourite kind, blue skies and green grass, but merged and swirly.

I also can't take credit for the full design, it was inspired by another stained glass window I had seen, its my interpretation though.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

My long awaited Fletcher.

I bought this yarn probably about two years ago, when I was first learning to knit, it caught my imagination and I had it imported from America when we in the UK had such an excellent exchange rate, seriously it was cheaper to import from the states than to buy in our own shops! Its Noro Iro and we didn't have colourway 58 available to us in the UK, I loved the drama of it, it really sings to me. And so I kept it for a very long time in my private stash, no one looks at my stash apart from me.. (no one else is interested!) but its mine and I've admired it for such a long time, waiting, just waiting until the time was right.

There were three patterns that had caught my attention to knit with this yarn and for about 18 solid months I had not been able to narrow down which would be the best for me and the yarn. For several different reasons I loved all of the patterns and so for that reason and that reason alone I sat and waited, hoping that eventually there would be some guidance.

and guidance there was...

Firstly it was flippin' cold this winter, certainly much colder than the winters of late, so I narrowed it down to being a coat with a large collar or hood, that narrowed it down to two patterns.

and then, the realisation of how warm a hood might be started to dawn on me. I'm not a hoodie person, in fact, I think the last hooded type garment I wore was a bright red velvet coat with a hood that my Mum made for me when I was 11 to visit London on a day out with the school. I think she was working on the fact that as I was as blind as a bat, that at least if I wandered off people would be able to spot me in a crowd. (I didn't put any photo's with my hood up, sorry about that, blame the photographer!, trust me, when I put the hood up, its so snuggly warm, its lovely)

And then I got pneumonia, so very little knitting was practised, well at least for a month or two but just before Christmas I realised which of the patterns was for me. Then disaster struck, I didn't have enough yarn, you see, I'd bought this yarn when I was first learning how to knit, I had no knowledge, just a passion. So, I searched on Ravelry and found two ladies that had two skeins each of this colourway in the same dye lot. I approached them both, well nothing ventured, nothing gained.

They both came back to me and agreed to sell me their skeins. I was overjoyed, it was the best thing that had happened to me for a long time. So, antibiotics not withstanding (and no alcohol) I cast on, on New Years Eve, I needed something bright and something beautiful and this fit the bill on both counts. I knew that I had skeins winging their way to me from the states and that I would have enough to complete my garment. And I am so glad that I asked both of these ladies, because after I'd colour matched as carefully as I do, I needed two extra skeins just for that purpose. So, thank you ladies I really appreciate what you did.


















Can you tell I love it so?

And then there were the buttons to choose, I knew in my mind what would suit my Fletcher, I wanted dark, but not too dark, a rich chestnut toggle, with some design to them, not just plain, some age to them would have been perfect. I looked and I looked and I could not find anything that suited what I was looking for.

And then... I spotted these, well, lets put it this way, there was no hesitation involved at all, they were right (or as good as I was going to find.... anyone with antique chestnut coloured toggles please say Aye!)



they are Knit Picks, Tapered Bar Buttons. Having knit with with Knit Picks Harmony needles I knew how they would look and I knew what the quality would be like, I was not disappointed.

And so the dream, came true.....