Sunday, 16 November 2014

Time to say goodbye

To swapping that is.   I've decided not to join any more postcard swaps, at least for the foreseeable future.  My main reason is I want to play a bit more, get creative with textiles and art, see what I can produce now that time and space are less of a problem.  It's become more of a chore than a pleasure recently to do the postcard swaps and I find myself leaving it to the last minute before buckling down to getting them done.  This is not a good state of affairs its with a bit of sadness that I have decided resigned from the BQLPC group.  I wish them every good luck in their future swaps.  Having said that here are the October swaps.

First is the October calendar theme.

 From Helen, Alice and Jacquie.

Winged things from Jacquie, Jan and Pauline.  As you see I made five but have only received three, no doubt the others will turn up before too long.

Recently most of my time has been taken up with finishing the beading on the wall hanging for Marc and Alix.  I hope to get it finished this week and will post pictures of it shortly.  It's been a real labour of love but I am happy with the result so far. Marc and Alix bought the canvas it is to be attached to and I brought it home with me today and if I get it finished soon they may even get it before Xmas.

It was Marc's big 4 ohh birthday on Friday and he's been celebrating every since.   Sy drove the rest of the family (including me) down to have lunch in Leeds with Marc and Alix.  I haven't seen them for a few weeks so it was lovely to be able to spend time with them.  We took Flynn down too as he has never been to his Uncle Marc's house.  He loves his Uncle Marc who plays silly games with him.
Just so long as he doesn't teach him to change the colour of the flowers in the garden with spray paint, which is what he did with Matthew when he was Flynn's age.
I forgot to take my camera with me but took this photo of Marc with Flynn in the washing basket.  They had been playing shipwreck with it and I think Marc was beginning to sink below the horizon.  Marc is in the middle of putting in a new kitchen for Alix and at the moment their house is like a warehouse, full of cardboard boxes.  More fun for Flynn.  He was very good, even when the restaurant burned his chicken dippers three times!! All he asked was "where's my dinner?".  He got extra ice cream because of the delay.

I need to make a start on my Christmas presents but so far haven't a clue what I'm going to do, except for one - I want to make a cover for Julie's Galaxy 3 8" tablet, so far she hasn't been able to buy one so I'm keeping it as a surprise.  Thinking of adding another page or two to Flynn's Quiet Book or maybe just repair the fishing line which has taken a bit of a hammering.  He's very taken with the ones where I've attached magnets so need to think about adding another page of that sort.

Still struggling with my sister whose secondary progressive multiple sclerosis has now been confirmed by the test results.  Still no sign of occupational therapy or social service help but she does have an appointment in December to see the MS community nurse but its in James Cook so a bit of travelling involved there.  It's a worry though as she is very thin, eating poorly and walking really badly now.  Just hope we get some help for her soon.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Latest swaps

I'm actually quite pleased with myself, I've got off my butt and finished two sets of cards today.  Yeh at last I'm ahead of the game.

Finished the cards for the BQLPC group 'Fresh October brings the Pheasants', the calendar swap based on the poem "The Garden Year" by Sara Coleridge.   I know the next line is "then to gather nuts is pleasant" but the title reminded me of the song "The Pheasant Plucker" - do you know it, not one to sing while under the influence.  So my cards are based on this song.  I created them in Photoshop which I suppose makes them digital fabric postcards.  I printed them out on prepared for printing cotton.

If you are brave enough you can sing the chorus which is on the card....... lol

My second set of cards has a theme of Winged Things and for this I've used my new Brother ScanNCut.  Bit more about the ScanNCut later.

 It took me a while to decide which 'winged thing' but finally decided on a winged goddess.   I used the free template from Stampington but didn't want to cut them all out separately.  I made several attempts to create an fcm file (format used by Brother) but none of them were truly successful.  Then it dawned on me that I was making the whole thing far too complicates.  So I just drew round the template with a black pen, scanned it, saved it and let the ScanNcut cut out multiple bodies.  I drew a pair of wings and did the same thing with that.
 They were cut from a piece of pelmet vilene which I'd previously spray dyed,  and printed with a gelli plate.  It was sitting doing nothing so I put it to work.  Did the same thing with a piece of yellow dyed and embossed piece of pelmet vilene.
Finally I re-purposed a piece of patchwork that I had screen printed and then over-dyed at some time in the past. This became the background.  What doesn't show on the photos is the slight shimmer the background piece has, I must have used a shimmer spray on it.  Each card is slightly different but I have only put up two of them, these showing the most contrast.

I have been playing with my Brother ScanNcut machine for some time now and have made lots of cards and stencils.  Now I have bought the pens for the machine so have yet to find out what I can do with them.  

Although this machine is earmarked for the quilters I doubt I would buy it just for that. I have a Sizzix Big Shot and an Accuquilt Go, both of which I think are better at cutting out fabric.  However the one thing the Brother has over the other machines is the ability to alter the size of an object giving a variety of sizes without having to buy new dies.

I have found difficulty cutting out stamped images.  The image with strong lines connecting each piece, the lines must be a very good contrast to the background.  So no blurred images, fuzzy edges or very fine extended lines. Otherwise the machine will not recognise the whole image and you will end up with either bits missed or a whole heap of tiny pieces.   This isn't insurmountable problem, there are ways round them but I found it just as easy to fussy cut the pieces some images. 

The cutting mats loose their stickiness very, very quickly.  You must clean them after each session by scraping off the fluffy bits with the spatula and wiping the mat over with an alcohol free baby wipe.  If you forget to cover the mats with the plastic sheet (it comes with one) then you'll find your mat covered in fluff in no time and who betide you if you drop your mat on the floor without dusting it off first.   You can take off all the 'sticky' using an alcohol based wipe then restickying (is there such a word) using a basting spray.

For mixed media crafters the ScanNcut is a great asset but if all you want to do is quilt you can buy an awful lot of dies for other machines with the cost of this machine. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Lake District in Autumn

Last Sunday my friend Anne and I took a bus trip to the Lake District to see the autumnal colours.  It was a beautiful day, warm, sunny and good company.

 Me and Anne trying out a selfie, bit blurred.

That was until we got to our lunch stop at Grasmere when a great big cloud came down the mountainside and hung over the village.

Grasmere is a pretty village, very touristy though and dedicated to the poet William Wordsworth who had a cottage on the edge of the village.

Wordworth family graves, the church behind them is 13th century.  Such a pity the whole thing is covered in pebbledash.
 There is a small park dedicated to daffodils where the paving around it is made up of plaques with names on them.  Didn't have a chance to find out anything about them.

 Sarah Nelson's shop of the famous gingerbread.  Didn't buy any as I must be the only person who doesn't like ginger.

  The trees are beginning to turn to their autumnal colours but I think if we had gone this weekend instead of last weekend the colours would have been much brighter.  They were still mainly green.

Naturally as soon as we left Grasmere and were back on the coach the day returned to its sunny self.

We stopped for afternoon tea just outside of Kirby Stephen at a pub I can't remember the name of.  It was something like The Woolly Ram' but don't hold me to it.  It had begun to get cold again by this time so it was with delight we managed to find a seat in the bar where the fire was blazing.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Lottery winner

I am still alive, sorry its taken me so long to get round to blogging.  I've been doing a lot of hand sewing on 'the wall hanging'.  It is turning out to be a real labour of love as I did all the machine stitching on a batik fabric stabilised with a medium weight iron-on interfacing.  It needed to be stabilised otherwise all the rows of machine embroidery stitches crumple the fabric.  It is well on the way to completion now, just got a few more embroidery stitches to add by hand and then do the beading.  After that it can be mounted.  As Marc and Alix are going to do the mounting themselves I will take photos before I give it to them.  It is very purple and green.....

I won the September postcard lottery and so far I have got five cards, Alice sent me two...

Door from Alice and the Congratulations card from Miriam

Got this cat card also from Alice.

And these two from Jane (top) and Jacquie (bottom).  The bottom card is a similar concept to 'the wall hanging'.

Been a fairly quiet time with the exception of taking my sister to see a Neurologist on Friday.  At last a diagnosis has been reached of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.  This is a brain disease that affects people in different ways.  It just depends on which bits of the brain's wiring has been attacked by the inflammatory process and in that process destroyed the nerve coverings.  Unfortunately Lesley has massive amounts of damage all over her brain and as you can imagine is very disabled, mainly mentally.  She does have problems walking and seeing but isn't really safe.  It is probably more difficult for us (her family) to cope as Lesley is quite unaware that there is a problem and refuses to accept that she can no longer drive!!  It's a headache.    We just hope that help is put in place to keep her safe very quickly.

Monday, 29 September 2014


I found another payment to Paypal using the same reference and mandate numbers.  I rang my bank this morning, who were very helpful and refunded the payment.  They gave me the contact number for Paypal so I could speak directly to them, which I did.   They went through my recent purchases and advised me which sellers related to each debit and I agreed I had indeed purchased items from these people.   I asked whether it was company policy to lump everything bought under one payment reference number.  They agreed it was odd and also agreed to look into it.  From our conversation that the undisputed item was one purchased and delivered by courier.  The disputed ones are all downloads.

They refused to close my account until they are certain the suppliers have been paid.  But my account is at zero and has been for some time.  I won't be using Paypal again at least not until I get an explanation as to why all the deductions have been made under the same payment reference number and attached to a direct debit which is clearly for one item only.

In the meantime Buster and I are going for a walk to cool down.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Been a frustrating day

At least yesterday was.  Don't know if anyone else has come up against this problem but.....  I buy quite a bit of stuff on line and as a rule use Paypal.  Recently they offered a delayed payment scheme, you paid after you had received the goods, which I thought was sensible.  So at the beginning of the month I purchased an item and opted for this method  On checking my bank statement, which arrived yesterday, I noticed something very odd.  One of the Paypal reference numbers, and my direct debit mandate number had been used five times.  Only one was for the correct amount.  I checked my bank account, the mandate number referred to the correct item and had been completed.  I checked my account with the seller, same again, checked with Paypal and only one item was referenced against my debit - not the five stated on my account and had been completed.

I spoke to my bank and they agreed it was very odd and suggested I speak directly to Paypal.  The bank very kindly returned the monies, which were for very small amounts, to my account.  I contacted Paypal to let them know that unauthorised payments had been made on my account.  They categorically denied this and declined my claim.  I wasn't actually making a financial claim as my bank had already returned the money to me.  But they refused to look into the matter any further.  I asked them why they don't have a record of these transactions (apart from the original legitimate one), to whom did they pay the money (who was the seller etc).  And if they do not have a record of these payments to themselves why not.  So far they haven't replied.

This has seriously destroyed my faith in Paypal with whom I have always been happy.  I will see what happens next.  As I said previously, I am not out of pocket as the bank refunded me without question.  However I am concerned that Paypal security may have been breached, particularly in relation to their reference numbers linking to a direct debit from my bank account.  This has only happened since I took up the delayed payment option.  Has anyone else had this problem?  I understand that when breaches have been made it is normal for the perpetrators to withdraw small amounts at first then progress to larger amounts.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Birthday Postcards

I forgot to post photos of the birthday postcards I received from my friends in the BQLPC group. Here they are, Top to Bottom from Helen, Jane, Inge, Marian, Jacquie,Plum, Miriam and Jan.
Thank you ladies for a lovely set of cards.

At the moment I have finally begun work on a wall hanging for Marc and Alix using couching, embroidery stitches, hand and machine along with beading.   So far I have couched the threads and have begun the machine stitches.  I hope to finish this today so I can sit down and listen to tv while I embroidery and bead it.  It doesn't look much at the moment but here's a sneak preview.

When its finished it will be 1 metre by half a metre and mounted on a canvas board to be displayed in their living room.