Thursday, 31 July 2008

Last Minute Rush

Isn't it always the same, at the last minute dh decided he simply can't go on holiday without the two pairs of jeans that require taking up? He also thinks he might want the blue sweater that he's just put in the wash........ Guess I should have known, I did give him warnings of deadline for these things but he blames nightshift. All done now and tomorrow afternoon we're off to Pembroke for a week. We've booked a week in a converted barn, probably in the middle of a field with nothing around for miles. Still it will be lovely and I'm taking lots of handsewing with me, Keith doesn't know that fact yet. If the weather stays fine we'll take the long way home via the Lake District and stay overnight. Expect to get back sometime around the 10th August so hope to have lots of photos to show, maybe even some embroidery.

The postman has been busy again and made sure these little beauties arrived safe and sound, bless the PO. The arch is from Carole Brungar and is printed either on the transparency or behind it, I'm not sure which but its very effective.
Britta sent her 'In the garden' card and Britta I think you've been peeking in my garden! At the moment it is full of blossom and weeds, tangled together, rather like your lovely card.
The last two are both from the private swap, maybe its time we had a name as I can't keep calling it the private swap. Christine made this envelope card for 'a package of accessories' Inside there are lots of embroidered goodies.

Cindy loves hats and so do I, just wish they'd fit me. I love the head with the feathered hat and the fabric has red hats on too.
I'm going to retire now, a bit earlier than usually but I've had a bad day with my diabetes. I've had two hypos in one day. I am prone to hypoglycaemic attacks but never had two in one day before. I feel exhausted and have a bit of a headache. My own fault, it always is, I spent too much time in town looking at the shops and didn't take any notice of the time until my legs gave under me. Luckily I always carry glucose tablets and was able to tell the lady who picked me up where they were. Naturally I overcompensated and my levels shot up only to drop unexpected again before tea. This time though I didn't fall but I am very tired so I'm off to bed to sleep off my 'hypo' hangover.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Lazy afternoon in Durham city

Went to Durham this afternoon with Sy, who took some lieu time to take me. I wanted some fabric for the baby floormats and thought I'd have a look in the Quilters' Cupboard. I also wanted to stock up on beads from LeBeado (not Beadazzle!). I didn't see any fabric I liked but I did buy lots of beads.

When I woke up this morning it was raining but by the time the afternoon came round the sun was out again and the temperature rose. You can't see them in this photo but there were scuba divers in the river below the bridge. Every now and again you'd see their bubbles and a flash of a yellow wetsuit. You can see Durham Castle and one tower of the Cathedral.
This is the Castle, well part of it and is onet of the residential quarter for the University.

We sat at the side of the bridge in the first photo which is just below the castle and had Raspberry Mocha Frappe. Neither of us could decide whether we liked them or not, we didn't dislike them but they certainly had a very strange aftertaste, but as the day was really hot by that time we appreciated their coldness.

Although I didn't come back any fabric I couldn't resist this tiny cushion.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Playing Catch-up

Yesterday's heatwave proved great for the BBQ, Mum went home tired but happy and I was left exhausted. Too tired to blog or finish off the WIP's I had around. Today though is a different kettle of fish the sun has gone in and its cooler so much pleasanter to work. Keith's on nightshift and has gone to bed so I can't make much noice doing housework (vbg) so I guess the only thing left to do was sew, say awe.... Managed to finish my July arch for Anne Marie who is part of the TextileChallenge one-2-one group. Anne Marie wanted an arch where you looked out and she wanted saturation of colour. I used a photo taken on the Amalfi Coast where the colour is naturally saturated!! Also its of a harbour wall so if you fall in you'd get saturated in a different form. I crumpled some tissue paper and smoothed it out then ironed it onto iron-on stabiliser. This makes it firm enough to go through the printer once its trimmed to size. I know you could use freezer paper, its just a matter of preference.

The arch fabric was made on the embellisher then bonded onto pelmet vilene and the inner arch shape cut out. I sewed the arch onto the photo creating stone block pattern in the felting. I also felted a small amount of silk and wool tops onto the photo and did a bit of stitching. You need to be careful when felting onto paper not to over do it or it disintegrates.

This arch is for Dotti Cullen of Surface Design fame - this is the first time Surface Design have ran an arch swap. I wanted to create a Moorish door such as I saw in Spain some time ago. Its not a depiction of a real door, more like several aspect of several doors rolled into one. I realised I could use a metal stencil I'd bought some time back for another project to create ironwork effect. After layering several sheers together I used the stencil to burn out the pattern. I then layered the 'ironwork' background and frame together and spray painted the lot to integrate the colours a bit more. The frame decoration and door handles were machine stitched using a gold thread. For once the gold thread behaved beautifully and didn't curl or snap. A couple of beads to the handles and an edging and its all ready to go into the post tomorrow for Dotti. I hope she likes it.

These four cards are also a Surface Design swap called "in the garden". I've delayed making these as my muse deserted me on this one and I can't just bring myself to slap something together. I found a piece of yellow chiffon with white colours on it and used this as the background. I machine felting it onto an acrylic floor cloth. The floorcloth had the feel of felt can't for the life of me remember where I got them from but I think they are Vileda. Anyway the embellished okay but proved a bit more difficult to shape correctly as it stretches slightly when sewn.

I'd bought some craft flowers and leaves from a local store and embellished these onto the background. I had to be careful as they had a tendency to shred so I decided to beaded the centres making each centre different.

This last card in particular reminded me of clematis in my garden - a happy accident!

I've got a fabric brooch and a set of cards to do before we go on holiday on Friday. I'm way behind with my 100 stitches but I intend to do some tonight while I watch telly and I'll probably take them away with me as they are east to transport.

Well my peace has been broken Keith has appeared begging for a cuppa and Sy will be in soon looking for food, best go and sort something out.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

100 Stitches continued

I'm beginning to catch up with the 100 stitches challenge on Stitchinfingers. Going to Warwick put be a few days behind and by the time I'd caught up with all the washing and ironing I was even further behind. This is days 17 and 18 the original one Sharon Boggan created had a cluster of buttons. I can cope with the odd button but a cluster of them had my toes curling. I'm not sure where the button phobia came from (probably the rubber buttons on my liberty bodice, I always hated my liberty bodice ugh) they make my toes curl. I am getting better, especially when you see some of the pretty ones used in scrapbooking etc. Anyway I've used buttonhole wheels, bullion knots, french knots, detached chain stitch and straight stitches together with sequins and beads in place of the buttons.
Day 19 I layered rows of featherstich then whipped them, these form an edge border.

Day 20 is yet to be done, all I have to do is remember the safe place I stored my embroidery ribbons! Day 21 was formed using straight stitches and the odd bead and sequines. I found these really cute flower sequines in just the right colour scheme. I've probably said this already but I'm using a limited pallet as I want them to match the log cabin blocks.

Day 22 wasChevron Stitch, Bullions and French knots with beads. The colour is a bit strange its more lavender and lime green in real life.

I've managed to get well on with a postcard swap today and with my arch swap for TextileChallenge but more about them tomorrow I hope. I say tomorrow but we're having a family BBQ and it all depends on how late it goes on. My mum is coming over for the afternoon to see everyone. The boys and their respective partners are here this weekend and its always lively when the family gets together, I'm looking forward to it.

Keith and I have just come back from Richmond Station Cinema where we went to see Wall-E. We thoroughly enjoyed it, lots of laughs and the short film that is shown alongside is worth seeing too. Been tot he cinema now twice in the past few weeks, boy we're getting to be film buffs!!

Its turned 11:00pm now and I've just been and watered the hanging baskets and the back and front gardens. I love these mild summer evenings. I'm going to take my cuppa out now, sit on my swing hammock, smell the garden, relax and watch the stars before going to bed.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The postman calleth again

This lovely little card is from Jenny who is shown in yesterday's blog. Sometimes its nice to put a face to a name. It's for the Fancy Stitches swap and is absolutely beautiful, so are the other two cards she's sending out. Francoise and Sue you're in for a treat when you get them. The ladybird and berries are stumpwork and the ladybird has tiny wings. The stitching is so fine but then I would expect Jenny to produce something great as she is a very talented needlewoman. Anyone who has taken one of Jenny's clases in beading or Hardanger will confirm that. I'll blab that yesterday she went home with more paint on her sweater than on the threads! The following four cards fell through my postbox today. The first two are part of the 'Maps' swap both Jenny's card above and the first two are ArtsntheMail swaps. Priscilla's card is the first one and she has managed to find the distance between her house and mine, clever girl Priscilla. I love the fact that you have put a pin where I live.
The bottom card is from Barb Engvall and is a treasuer map, love the map Barb especially all those mountains but don't think I'll climb them, well not before tea.

The shoe card is from Jennifer and is her 'accessories' card to me, mine went in the post today. I love these shoes, pity they can't be worn. Jennifer's cards are always immaculate and this one is no exception.
Final two cards are from the TextileChallenge group 'Paint & Stitch summer theme' swap. The top one is from Lorri Chambers and has some really great shells stitched on it. There is fme stitching and stitched threads on a painted background. It had an underwater feel but after looking at it a bit longer I think it should be held sideways, that way it looks like a beach. You'll have to turn your head sideways to see what I mean.

Last but certainly not least, Betsy Tauer's Paint and Stitch card. Just look at those wonderful colours, I'm into lime and pink at the moment so she couldn't have chosen a better colour scheme for me. Betsy has put masks on the background and spray painted it creating flowers once the masks were removed. Its worked really well and the three lime and pink flowers set it off so well.

Been to the hospital this afternoon with Mum for her check-up. They are very pleased with her, her face is still looking angry but not nearly as bad as it was a week gone Friday. Its still very sore and her eyes are watering all the time but she's been told it will take time for her to heal. Being elderly her skin is a bit more fragile and will take little bit longer than normal to heal, but they've reassured her it will heal. They'll check her out again in three months. Thanks to everyone who asked after her.


Had a wonderful time yesterday with four like-minded friends. For a while now we've been saying we'd get together as a group and 'play' but you know what life's like something always gets in the way. Well yesterday we did it!! Jenny Burns, Elspeth Robinson, Pat Camburn, Linda doughty and myself finally had a play day.

We've decided to meet regularly and give our group a name. No final decision was made as to a name but as we are hoping to create and by happy chance make discoveries 'Serendipity' was suggested. However we need to check out whether there already is a group called that first. Otherwise behold the birth of Serendipity.

Here we are having a coffe and chatting about some of the new stuff we'd seen and what we'd love to have a go at. Today we were to have dyeing day using two different methods. Also as some of the group were considering an embellisher Jenny and I took ours along forthem to play with. We'd also taken some of the pieces we'd made using the embellisher to give an idea of the different ways it can be used. I think we have more converts.

Pat is the weaver, spinner and dyer in the group and she brought along lots of dyestuff for us to play with. This is Linda sploshing dye onto cotton and rayon fabrics and threads. We used acid milling dyes to dye wool and silk threads and cold water dyes for cotton and synthetic fabrics.

Elspeth brought lots of threads and fabrics for us to dye this is her on the right with Pat checking out the goodies.
Linda, Elspeth and Jenny get on with the hard work of deciding which colour to use next.
When we'd finished dyeing we used a wooden fence outside the Hall to dry our babies. They are much more vibrant in real life than tshown on he photo.

We're meeting again in September to have a 'Burn, Slash and Roll' day - can't wait.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Meet the Button Babes

Several months ago there was a pattern available for these Button Babes in WorkshopontheWeb
The pattern had been used to raise funds for survivors of the Indonesian Sunami. The aim was to buy enough sewing machines to allow the locals to set up their own workshop and support themselves. The raised enough to buy 76 sewing machines and after this they offered the pattern to others to use to raise funds for charity. I made dozens of these little ladies and gave them to the home my mil was in for their Alzheimer appeal. I was left with several half finished ladies and when the July theme for my private swap was 'Accessories' I thought I'd put them to good use. So here are my four beautiful button babes adorned in their sapphire and emerald necklaces. There is a pin in the back so the babes can be taken off and worn as adornments or hung as an accessory on a bag etc. Christine, Cindy, Jennifer and Brigitte meet 'Mad Molly'.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Fancy stitches swap

Not sure how I manage it but I always seem to get at least one photo out of sequence must be because the midgy bites I got in the Warwick gardens are driving me nuts. Why do the always seem to go for my hairline? Oh and yes we did go to Hidecote and Kiftsgate Court as well asCoughton Court and Upton House. We didn't get to Warwick Castle but we have been before and it really needs time to see everything. Last time we were in Warwick Castle they were having a Joust and had all the children dressed as knights. They were having fun.
It feels good to be sewing again even if I only got the three cards finished for the Fancy Stitches swap on ArtsntheMail. These were actually started before we went away and I spent last night finishing them off.

This coloured circle card is for Sue Wild and is in response to her colourful paisley card I received from her. The other cards are somewhere below.
Just look at this wonderful handbag I just wish it were full sized so I could use it, I just love the fabric. This is from Brigitte who always sends me great cards. Its a private swap and this month's theme is 'accessories' I'm not letting on what mine will be until they are finished.
These are two of the cards I mentioned above that I've received as part of the Fancy Stitches swap. The first one is from Sue Wild (paisley) and the second from Francoise Jamart (feather stitch. It's not really photographed that well but Sue's card has lots of different stitches on and is beautifully sewn. Francoise card is also beautifully sewn but she has used the one stitch in lots of different coloured threds. I love both of them.These haven't scanned in too well probably because my Francy Stitch cards on white Linen and done with white linen thread. The flower card is for Francoise, Sue's is the colourful one up top, and the whitework card below is for Jenny Burns. As I shall be seeing Jenny on Monday she'll get her card then.
As I think I might have mentioned the midgys really love me and whenever I go into the garden following rain they swarm all over me. Keith used to smoke a pipe and they never seemed to bother him. I'd be covered in bites and he was completely bite-free, doesn't seem fair does it. But now he's stopped smoking and guess who also has lots of bites..... ha ha (sorry Keith don't really mean it).
I guess Mum is certainly on the way to recovery she's in a bolshey mood and ready to tell the world where to get off, or is this just part of the recovery process. I'm more than pleased though that she's beginning to fight back.
Just about caught up with all the routine return home stuff and hope to go and buy some fabric for the new additions to my godchildrens families over the weekend. Oh one more thing that happend today is I got the missing DVD from QA Workshops, the Judy Coates Perez "Mixed media Painted Fabric". QA sent me the wrong one and this is the replacement. I hope to get a look at it over the weekend but if its like the others it'll good.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Gardens of Warwick

I've just spent four days going rounds some of the great houses and gardens around Warwick and a good time was had by all. Though I'm glad to be back I'm not happy to tackle the pile of washing that gathers itself while you are away. We stopped for lunch on the outward journey and for morning coffee on the return at a small place called Milford Muxloe where there is a part built castle, started in 1480 and never finished because the lord of the manor was executed in 1483. You can see the drawbridge and part of one tower in the background to the first picture. Keith on the drawbridge of Muxloe Castle with a couple of his lady friends. There were only 10 men amongst 35 women so Keith was very popular, especially the older fraternity when it came to opening doors etc. And Keith loved every minute of their attention.
Muxloe Castle and moat where they were fishermen out to catch the carp but they were a bit too smart for them and stayed on the bottom.
One of the gardens, I think this one was Hidecote Manor had some lovely succulents hiding in cracks in the garden walls. I just loved their colours amongst the warmth of the rocks.
Hidcote from the White Garden, Hidecote's gardens are arranged in as 'outside rooms' each one different from the next and each beautiful in its own right. The wild garden was wonderful and I though what I pity I couldn't have brought the boys down when they were young, I could have lost them for a week easily.
Upton House was quite different, built on terraces with a lake at the bottom, the photo above is of the wild grasses around the end with a view of the waterlilies.
Coughton (pronouced 'coat-on') court was a beautiful tudor mansion with impressive gardens. Next year the manor of Coughton and its surrounding lands will have been in the hands of the Throckmorton family for 600 years. Quite a feat considering one of their ancestors was involved in the Gunpowder Plot. There originally was a fourt wall to this quadrangle (this is the back of the house) but it was destroyed by the Parlimentarians during the English civil war.
One of the rose arches at Coughton Court within the walled garden. It was like a maze with each section dedicated to a specific colour, red, white, yellow etc.
These photos are mixed up this is the back of Upton House a Georgian Residence near Banbury.
One of the terraced walks at Upton leading down to the lake at the bottom of the hill.
I know this plant is fairly common but its furry leaves feel more like velvet and I couldn't stop stroking it.
I've managed to do a bit of sewing since I got home but still have loads to catch up with, more tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Back in the land of the living

Back in the land of the living and pleased its all over. It was worth it though to know my bowel cancer hasn't returned yehhh. Got home yesterday and felt really tired and washed out, partly due to 36 hours without food. I was fed glucose and insulin via a drip but my blood glucose levels went haywire so I'm having to work to bring them into some sort of acceptable levels again.

While away the postman had left me these three great cards, the first one is from Cindy and is part of the Orphan Block swap on Surface Design. I love the way Cindy has decorated the 4 block orphans she looks as though she's had fun with them. The next two cards are from the Paint and Stitch swap on Surface Design. Ansley has created a wonderful flower with paint, think its a Pansy but don't hold me to it, then free motion stitched the piece. I love the colours and the way it seems to speak to you.
Teresa on the other hand challenged herself to create a landscape with one continuous line of stitching and added a few areas of paint. She's done a really good job of it and I'm impressed. Both cards are very different from each other and from the one I sent. I'm always surprised the way we interpret the same theme differently.
Whilst I'm not as tired today as yesterday I needed something simple to make. Something that didn't involve too much thinking. I also needed some luggage labels and these designs from AnitaGoodesign's JP collection took my fancy. While they were easy to make they took longer to do than I anticipated. I made four in all (two blue ones, one red and one yellow) so that Keith and I could have one each for our main cases and another one for any carry-on luggage we may take on our next trip abroad. All there is left to do now is put in the name tag and add a ring to the end - think that might be Keith's job.

Two of my godchildren have become parents in the last week a little boy Oliver 6lbs 6ozs and Isabella weighing in at 9lbs 11ozs. Both sets of parents have chosen 'floormats' rather than quilts and I'm going to use a Linda Edwards pattern for them. They will have to wait however until I get back from Warwick next Thursday. We leave on Saturday for a 5 day tour of the houses and gardens in Warwickshire, Although I'm not very well up on flowers I really enjoy looking at what other people have done and who know I might remember their names one day.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Challenges and crazy blocks

I've had a busy few days preparing for my tests in hospital later today, really not looking forward to it but needs must. In the meantime I've managed to get the last two TAST stitches done and got ahead of the 100 Stitches in 200 Days. TAST week 3 - chain stitch
TAST week 4 - Chevron stitch
Block one When I decided to do the 100 Stitches challenge I didn't have any crazy quilt blocks but did have these lavender and cream blocks left over from another project. I decided to use them for the challenge and put them together at the end into a wallhanging. I've just completed day 16, decided to get ahead as I'm not sure how long it will take me to come round from the tests, it normally takes me a few daysl

So these three blocks are the summation of my work on this challenge I will post individual stitch days later but I've got 10 minutes before I have to leave for hospital. I'm sure you'll be able to pick out the days for yourself though.

Block two

Block three

None of the blocks are completely finished it is very possible I'll add more stitches as the challenge goes along but thought you might like to see them so far.