Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Last of April's Challenges

The last challenge of this month has been completed, that's all my outstanding projects finished, at least those that were due before the end of April. This is my version of the BQL bag challenge. I cut the size down by a third as I'd read comments that the bag was a bit on the big side. I almost didn't do this months bag as I thought I wouldn't have the time. The red fabric I bought in a shop in town that is closing down. After I'd bought it I wondered why, I rarely if ever buy large print fabrics. I must have had something in mind but can't remember what. Not done a lot of work today except housework and shopping. Going to the hospital tomorrow with Mum hopefully we'll find out more about her diagnosis and the prognosis/treatment etc.
I did manage to cut some strips for the Buckeye Beauty block lotto, quite like this block and may make more and do something with them.

Next month's jobs to do include getting on with a couple mini quilts for swaps but haven't decided exactly what I'll be doing with them and don't want to leave too many clues.

Been trying to find a cottage or something similar that we could take Mum away for a long weekend. It is almost impossible to find something that has ground floor bedroom/shower for her, she can't manage steps or stairs. There are some out there but are very expensive. We did however find a barn conversion in Pembroke that we booked for a week in August. Unfortunately its too far for Mum to travel. We'll see what happens tomorrow then perhaps we can find something 'out of season' to take her.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Lunch with Marc and Alix on Sunday and as you can see the weather had changed again from sunshine to drizzle and overcast clouds. Still it was lovely to see the sheep with their babies. This was taken outside the pub where we had Sunday lunch. Mum usually comes with us when we go to see Marc & Alix as she enjoys the ride out but she was feeling very tired and just wanted to stay at home.
For weekes there have been hundreds of green leaves outside our front door, nothing else. Then this morning I opened the front door to a glorious array of white and mauve flowers. These flowers 'stole' into our garden as we never planted the bulbs but each year they multiply and now we have a carpet of them. I don't have the heart to dig them out but they are rather taking over so perhaps I should think about thinning them.
Jenny Burn's sent me her postcard she'd started at Ushaw, monoprint background, stamped flowers, couched threads, fme and beading. It's beautiful and will go with me on Saturday when I talk to the guild.
Finished my TIF challenge piece on change, negative or positive attitude. I thought about it a great deal, more time thinking than anything else. My conclusion was that on the whole I embrace change - if its bad I try to make the most of it, if its good I enjoy it. I didn't have a lot of time left after all that thinking so my challenge piece this time is a computer generated one.
In the post this morning was my last Laurel Burch tile swap piece and well worth waiting for. It's from Sally Ambrose in Australia.
Not doing too bad with my challenges for this month, only got one left to do - the BQL bag which I intend to start on right now.......

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Flower Show

I've just realised that all the photos are similar in colour!! My friend Judy gave me a pair of compimentary tickets for the Harrogate Spring Flower Show so Keith and I went today. We had a wonderful time, there was so much to see and the flowers were outstanding. We went on a virtual spending spree buying thatch roofed gazebos, garden furniture and lots of exotic plants. Just as well the spending was virtual they'd never fit in our pocket handkerchief garden.

We did buy some plants and I finally managed to get some more alliums, the last bulbs I got Keith forgot they were in the garden and built his garden shed over them!! Hope these last longer as I've bought the as large plants rather than bulbs. Also bought another Delphinium a pink one this time and three Agapanthums.
There were absolutely loads of lilliums while I love the look of lilies I hate the smell and if I ever get them in a bunch of flowers I remove the stamins. Apart from the smell they make such a mess and I believe they can be dangerous to cats/
I'm not a flower arranger, mine always look as though I'd just dumped them in a jam jar but I do admire the work of those who can arrange flowers. One of the competition sections this year was "accessorize" and I just loved the way this lady had created the hat and bag from leaves. This was the winner of this section.
This is a close up of the runner up, this lady took second place I actually liked it better than the first but that is my personal preference. There were lots of daffodils and narcisi in so many different colours and styles, these were two of my favourites.
Love these two coloured blooms I'm sure they could be reproduced in fabric.

Off to Leeds tomorrow for lunch with my elder son and his partner. Normally we take Mum when we go down to see them as she enjoys the run out but she's not feeling too good tonight, tired and breathless. I guess she'll be better catching up with some sleep, I'll check on her when we get back.

Friday, 25 April 2008

March's JP done

Ta rarr..... done at last, I've done, redone, pulled it apart, resewn it and finally I've decided to leave it alone and move onto the next project so here it is:
March's journal page for the contemporary quilt group of the QG "Red ,Red Wine - by UB40"

Thursday, 24 April 2008

April Journal Page Finished

Last night got the binding on my April journal page based on Donovan's "Mellow Yellow" song, rather silly lyrics but I love the tune. The photo is a bit dark, the JP is much brighter, more 60's flower power style which is what I was aiming for. Still haven't finished March's JP yet, getting there but this one just sang out to be made so I gave up on March and jumped to the spring flowers.
Just as well I finished this last night as I got another emergency call from Mum this morning her nose had started bleeding again. Panic was short-lived though, by the time I arrived it had stopped but she looked really washed out. I did a bit of shopping for her and called in and asked the doctor to check on her when she'd finished her rounds. When I got back to Mum's she was waiting with her coat on and a letter from the hospital saying she had an appointment to see the Haematologist at 11:00am today. It was already 10:30am, so we rushed around and got her there in time. When we arrived though they weren't expecting her. Apparently the secretary had put her appointment in the wrong slot it is actually for next week. They were full of apologies and we took Mum home. By this time she was quite cheerful and ready for a sleep. I think she actually enjoyed the ride out.

Going to relook at March's JP if it still doesn't inspire me I've got another one I want to make so may start on that. Not got a lot of time left though must have it finished by next week at the latest. Better get on with it.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Couldn't bring myself to blog yesterday, it was a very sad day with not very good news. At last the medics have got to the bottom of mum's heavy nose bleeds. She has a tumour at the back of her nose, a very very rare type of tumour apparently, a plasmacytoma. Its a condition that arises when the body makes too many plasma cells, normally a carcinogenic procedure. These tumours are usually found in the bone marrow but do, occasionally but rarely, occur elsewhere in the body. Primarily they are found in the tonsils and behind the nose. The underlying cause of these is Myeloma, malignant tumour of the bone marrow. She's undergone a full skeletal xrays and lots of blood tests and has to go back for more on Monday and to see the Haematologist. If, as we all hope, there are no other tumours and her blood tests come back clear for myeloma, then they will excise the tumour and that should be that. However they weren't terribly optimistic about this. We should get some answers next week and will take it a day at a time. If it is myeloma then chemotherapy and radiotherapy would be the way forward. However, Mum's 92 and very frail, these last few months have really taken it out of her, the family feel she'll refuse and I doubt she could cope with that sort of regime. Keep your fingers crossed there's only the one tumour.

In the meantime to keep myself occupied I've made some cards from the fabric I painted, stamped and stencilled to death at Ushaw. The first two are part of a stencil with 8 lozenge shapes and it was intended that we use different embroidery stitches and keep it as a sample. I'm not a sampler type person and got fed up after I'd filled in six. So I overprinted the lozenges with paper I'd transfer painted some time back then cut them up into card sized pieces and sewed running stitch backgrounds.
This bottom card was a piece of monoprinted fabric but I was a bit heavy handed with the paint and it's rather densely painted. I overstamped with with some flower shapes and embroidered and beaded them.

The May speaker at our local EG branch has overcommited herself and withdrawn so I've been asked to come and talk about some of the fabric postcards I've sent and received. I thought I'd take these three along also to show people they can make cards from workshop samples rather than throw them in the drawer.

Now I have to go and continue making something from the workshop pieces I brought back from Ushaw.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Ushaw weekend 2

Everywhere you go in Ushaw is design. This photo shows the paintwork on the columns outside St Cutherber's church. This is a piece of the wallpaper in one of the small side altars.
Floor tiles in the same small chapel. The floor tiles in Ushaw are a quilters paradise.
Close up of one of Toni's painted and fme embroideries.
Some of my bits and pieces, not very inspiring but the one on the top left I'm in the process of turning into a fabric postcard which I'll show later when I've finished it.
Talking about fabric postcards I've been persuaded to stand in for our May speaker who's dropped out due to other commitments. I'm to give a talk on fabric postcards and as we have all been asked to produce some of your Spring School work for the Regional Meeting in May I'd better get a move on.

Ushaw Weekend

I arrived back home yesterday covered in acrylic paint, I now have bright green fingernails. Problem was before I went on holiday keith treated me to a 'nail job'. Never having had acrylic nails before I assumed they would be false ones that would come off after the holiday. No they paint acrylic on and cover your nail, it has to grow out. Being acrylic they dyed!!!! so green nails.
All in all though it was a wonderful weekend full of laughter, good company, a brilliant tutor who was very skilled, friendly and generous with advice and her 'bag of goodies'. We mono-printed, stencilled, stamped away to our heart's content. We all painted lots of fabric to take home with us to sew later. Some of my pieces were dreadful (heavy handed with the paint) others not so bad but I'll use them all up one way or another. This is Toni Hanley our tutor surrounded by some of her pieces (got her permission to use the photos but will add them later as google wouldn't let me put any more on.
Sample of the work done by one of our group it's a stencilled background and overprinted with a stamp. We also used resists on monoprinted backgrouns.
This is one end of the refrectory at Ushaw College and for once the place was heaving with people. It was so lovely to see the place so full. Ushaw College was built in 1808 and celebrates its 200 year centenary this year. It was built as a catholic seminary for young men entering the priesthood and was one of the top three colleges in the country. The other two being Downholme and Ampleforth. In its hayday in the 1960's there were two schools, junior and senior with over 700 pupils aged from 8 to 18. At aged 18 they either entered the seminary or went out into the wider world. After the 1960's it took a downturn and a couple of years ago there was a question mark over its future existence. Since then its joined with Durham and things are beginning to look up again, they now have 30 young priests in residence. It also holds conferences and weekend workshops with organisations such as the EG and QG. It's a beautiful place, really peaceful and some fine examples of Pugin's work. Very Gothic and a bit scarey if you need to go down the corridors on your own at night.
Window at the end of the refrectory
St Cuthbert's church one of three churches at Ushaw. When we were their there was a party of youthes from Walsingham in Norfold who were holding a youth festivatl. On Saturday the assistant bishop of Durham took a service for them and it was wonderful watching all the activity. Normally when we go it's in Lent so everything is covered.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Ushaw College Tomorrow!!

Nearly packed, just go my clothes to sort out now. It took me all day to sort out what I needed to take with me in the way of threads and paints. Myr friend Judy and I were going off at lunchtime but its been delayed slightly as Judy has people coming to view her house so I hope they don't take too long. Poor Keith is off to hospital tomorrow for the pain relief injection into his spinal colum. I feel a bit guilty not being there for him but he's in good hands with Sy and he'll ring and let me know how things are as soon as he gets his dad home.

Been meaning to sort out my fabric paints and dyes for ages but it takes something like a workshop looming to make me do it. Feel good now everything is tidy that's mainly because its all packed in a box ready to take with me!!

No photos today, I did have some really good ones of previous Spring and Summer schools at Ushaw but for some reason they won't upload so you'll just have to wait until I get back. I'll take lots of photos for all to see.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

These are the threads I bought yesterday at Embsay Mills, near Skipton. They are mostly Oliver Twist and Caron threads. One by One my local outlets have closed down and now the only shop in town selling threads is Boyes but those are the cheap cotton ones. They have their uses but I wanted something sumptious and that's what I bought. These are for my EG Spring School course next week. Really looking forward to this but naturally have reservations about leaving Keith as he goes into James Cook on Friday for the pain relief injection into his spinal cord. I feel I should be with him but Simon has taken the day off to play 'responsible adult' and look after his dad. That should be fun.... On the way back from Skipton we stopped on the top of the moors for a cuppa in the car. It's become a bit of a ritual now, whenever we go onto the moors or dales we have to take a flash and sit in the car drinking tea. Think it's left over from the days we used to do a lot of walking.

You feel as though you are on top of the world up here and on a clear day you can see for miles. On the far hills there was still snow but although the ground was boggy there was signs of life renewing itself.
Blue remembered hills, maybe that should be one of my JP's.
We took my Mum out today just to get her out of the house for a bit. We went up into Teesdale and then across the top into Weardale and back home along the old Roman Road to Hadrian's Wall. Guess what!! I forgot to take my camera and the naturally the sun shone and the colours were bright and fresh. Normally it lives in my handbag but I took it out to upload these photos and forgot to put it back.

Not got any sewing done this weekend but Keith's on nightshift this week so once he goes to bed I should be able to get on with my journal quilts. I know what my next one is going to be but don't want to say too much at present.

Projects to take care of this week include:
1 a brooch/pin for the UKembellisher swap
2 Mellow Yellow JP
3 Red Red Wine JP - redo don't like what I've done so far.
4 BQL April bag
5 TIF challenge - still now sure what I'm going to do, I dreamt about it and an idea came into m mind but I lost the thought once I was fully awake. Really must put that pencil and paper next to the bed.

Well I will see how much I get done by next Sunday.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

More goodies from the postman

More Orphan Block cards in this mornings post this time from Sharon Zurbrigg, top card. I love the sentiment on the card Sharon - I had one of my five portions of fruit and veg this afternoon - carrot cake!!! I now don't feel guilty. The second pretty card is from Leah Malasky. Leah tells me this is an orphan block from a baby blanket she made for a friend some time ago, well I'm happy to adopt both cards.

Been to Embsay Mills today spending lots of money on embroidery threads. I'll post a photo later as Keith is making starving faces, I think he needs refuelling and I'm a bit hungry myself.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

More goodies from the postman this morning the red and black flying geese block is from Maureen Eastwood. Its my first one from the ArtsntheMail 'Orphan Block' swap. Mine are in the photo below. April Showers card arrived also this one is from Brigitte in Angers. Brigitte and I had the same thought about the design for this card but as she got hers out first I'll have to rethink. Lovely card though Brigitte, as usual from you.
Finished the "16 Block" blocks for the Block Lotto run by Kate North and friends. In each of the blocks three of the square had to be plain black. The cards below are made from some mainly black wild geese blocks I had left over from another project. These are my orphan blocks, not true orphans as I had only made the wild geese not put them together but I hope this will be excused.
I've joined two mini quilt swaps recently one run by Kate North on her "Anotherlittlequiltswap" blog and Toni's blog. Both swaps have closed now and I nearly missed Kate's swap due to Yahoo problems. Not sure what's happening with Yahoo but although most posts get through the odd one is either missing or very late.

Decided I don't like my "Red Red Wine" JP and have decided to pull it to pieces and approach it from a different angle. If anyone know of a song with orange in the title please leave a comment with the title. I seem to be stuck with this colour. I could use Oranges and Lemons but that's not really a song.

Both mum's are remaining well although mine still has a sore eye as a result of her nasal biopsy. Apparently some instrument they used flipped the wrong way and caught the edge of her eye. Luckily there's been no more nose bleeds but she's quite nervous about the prospect of having to go back to hospital sometime in the future.

I've joined Terri Stegmiller's 'Paper Quilt' on-line class which starts the end of the month and am really looking forward to this. Got a token for Mother's Day (Mother's Day in the UK is in March not May) for the local art shop so am going to use it to refresh my paint supplies for the course.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Goodies from the postman

The postman brought me a lovely surprise yesterday an apron from Fibre&Stitch zine. I had forgotten about it so I was delighted when I opened the package, the apron was my prize from the Recipe challenge. It's come just in time for me to take with me when I go to Ushaw College on the 18th. I'm booked on Toni Handley's "gorgeous gardens" course that she's running as part of the EG's Spring School. I'm really looking forward to this and hoping my breathing will be back to normal by then. This is me in my 'sewing area' wearing the f&S apron. As you can see I don't have a lot of space I really envy those people with room to spread. I've used up all the wall and floor space next step the ceiling!!
Another good by post this morning is this paper pendant from Marcia DesRosiers. The photo does not show the colours in their true glory as there is too much reflection from the beads. I took the flash off when taking the picture and its better than the first couple I took but still a bit washed out.

I've had to order a new cutting mat as my old one is only fit for the dustbin. EverytimeI try to cut out I leave almost as much fabric in the mat as on it. Anyone got any good ideas for recycling cutting mats?

Products of an enforced restg

At least I've made a start on my journal pages during this enforced rest but unfortunately that's come to an end now. Keith's on day shift this week so needs must I've had to face the dreaded housework on my own, ah well nothing new there. Actually I am feeling better, still coughing but not quite so tired all the time. The two journal pages I've started, but not finished are: February - Green Door sung by Shaking Stevens, I thought I'd finished it but after looking at it for a couple of days something is missing. I'll leave it around and it'll come to me what needs to be done.
March - Red Red Wine by UB40 also is unfinished. I printed red wine grapes and a glass of red wine onto cotton and using the glass as a template reversed the images. I then quilted contour lines around the glasses but I'm not sure it works. I think I should have printed two glasses and used the grapes as the background. Might start again with this one but it's part of the way I want to go.

I was given this needle case kit as a birthday present (two years ago) and finally got round to putting it together. Its miniature log cabin blocks on a foundation background. It was very satisfying to make and I was sorry when I came to the end. Might make another one for someone's birthday.
This is the inside of the sewing kit and it rolls up quite neatly.

Spent a pleasant hour this morning watching quilting videos on Kaye Woods site
I have a couple of Lazy Girl bag patterns so it was interesting seeing them put together by the designer.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Journal Pages

I've had three wonderful journal pages over the last couple of days all from the Colour Composition swap on the Surface Design Group . This one is from Charmion Stephens and is based on the Triad colour, hers were blue, orange and purple. The handmade beads make this one special.
This was Sandy Reis's 'Perfect Circles' just love the gradient colour in this one.
And my last but definitely not least is 'Favourite Artist' Klimt from Britta Ankenbouer. I don't know anyone who dislikes Klimt his patterns are compelling and Britta has done them so well.

Been doing some hand sewing on my Arch for Pam but I'm not yet at the stage where I want to show it. It's in fuschia silk with origami flowers and that's all I'm saying for now.

Been to see my mil today and was really pleased to see she is doing well, they've taken her off some of the pain killers, still has the morphine patch but that's all. She seemed so much brighter and can now potter around on her own. Still difficult to understand as her speech is poor but there's a twinkle in her eye as she was obviously cracking a joke. Pity I didn't understand it. My mum is fine too and has been out on her scooter to do some shopping. I think its the sun we've been having it has lightened her mood. As for me, not too good in the mornings, still quite breathless and my hands don't stop shaking until mid afternoon, something to do with the stuff they've given me to keep my airways open. But I'm assured it'll stop as soon as I've finished all my medicine.

Still not got my portrait photos in the post Keith keeps forgetting to take them with him when he goes out but I will get them in the post tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

A few more pictures of Egypt

We rose at 3.00am to catch the bus to Abu Simbel near the border with Sudan. It's a 3.5 hour drive across the desert to the bottom end of Lake Nasser where the temple was relocated. We all went with a breakfast box and just like school children on a trip we'd eaten it by 4:00am One of the highlights though was to see the sun come up in the desert. The Temple of Rameses wife Neferati is next door to Rameses temple and smaller but also quieter and less humid. However there was still a queue to see inside, its about 7:00am and the temperature is around 37 degrees C already.
We took the opportunity before we left Egypt to have a ride in a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings. This photo was taken shortly after the sun rose and shows it shining on the tops of the mountain where the Valley of the Kings and Queens is hidden.
Below us was the Valley of the Queens and the tombs of Rameses III and Hatsheput. One of the things that was very visible from the air is the distinct line between the desert and the fertile Nile valley.
We visited Kitchener's Island and his botanical gardens. These are well maintained and the Egyptians are very proud of both Kitchener and his gardens. The 'Tourism and Antiquities Police' were very visible in the gardens and a group of small boys playing football on the paths got short shift from them. One of the gardens came running after me and gave me a handful of lemon smelling leaves and indicated I should rub them on my skin to avoid mosquito bites, they seemed to work. This is a view of the fellucas on the Nile from the gardens.
Not done much today except sleep, still under doctors orders and Keith is taking it serious and insisting I rest. Must admit I've not cough as much today, except when I tried to talk to my Mum who appears to be very well. I've been mulling over ideas for my arch swap and trying out some origami flowers not got the size right yet so I'll keep trying. Tomorrow I'll try and get some sewing done.