Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas to all

Not sure what has happened to December, it has gone in a flash but all the presents are bought or made and the baking is done.  Only thing that I haven't done is put up the tree and decorate the house.  It was something Keith and I did together and this year I find myself reluctant to do it.  But this afternoon Sy is coming by and maybe I'll be less reluctant then.

I've been busy making shark pencil cases from a tutorial by Patchworkposse I've made three, one for Flynn and the other two for my brother's grandsons.  Naturally I haven't take a photo but if you use the link above you will see them.

Flynn has had his first school photo taken and he looks cute.

He's looking forward to Christmas although I don't think he really understands what Christmas is yet, to him its probably lots of parties and singing.  I've had fun buying him books and have gone for several the boys enjoyed.  Meg and Mog, Mog's Christmas, Gruffalo, The Owl who was afraid of the Dark plus one or two other bits and pieces.  I'm looking forward to the time I can buy him the Church Mice books, at the moment he's too small to appreciate the graphics in the book.

Flynn also has been busy, he made me this Christmas card, which I would like to share with you all.

And is helping his Mum make cakes for tea.

When times get tough for me this little chap put the smile back on my face.  Merry Christmas to you all and hope 2015 is a happy, healthy one for you all.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Wild Women

Yesterday was our annual +4 Christmas lunch where we enjoy a bit of crafting, some good food and lots of laughs.  We make each other small presents, nothing flash or expensive just something we think we'll get pleasure from.  I made some wild women brooches, actually they are a cross between two patterns, one from the Sue Lawrence book Wild Women and one from a charity brooch pattern called Button Babes given away (with I think WOW) many years ago.  I made five and wrapped them without names and put them in a bag for each to pick one.  And here are the ladies.  I had fun making them and if anyone wants to try their hand the basic body pattern is an atc sized card.  Measure in half an inch at one on both sides of one end cut a diagonal line from that mark to the bottom corner.  You end up with a wedge shape. This is your body pattern, cut out two, sew together leaving a small opening to turn (I left the top opened).  Turn, stuff and sew up hole - you will need something to help you turn the body and to stuff it.  I used a haemostat.  Sew a button onto the small end and decorate as you wish.  I've used a variety of fancy yarns and some silk throwster's waste.

We each got felted soap from Jenny, small items for our handbags from Pat (who has problem wrists and couldn't make something this year, she is forgiven), home made mincemeat from Elspeth, very special recipe, A box of hand made cards from Linda plus nail varnish in the cracker and my presents the wild women brooches and a small post-it book complete with jacket (not shown as I forgot to take a photo.

We had a lovely day and far too much to eat but next year we are going to get down and do something a bit special, Watch this space.

Each year St Teresa's Hospice invite those families who have lost someone dear to them during that year to place an ornament on their Memory Tree.  This year we were invited as a family and after discussing it decided we would like to go.  There would be tea, coffee and mince pies etc and other families to talk to.  We were quite looking forward to putting the ornament on the tree for Keith.

What I hadn't been prepared for was the wash of emotion as I walked once more into the hospice.  I was overwhelmed with grief and memories of our last day together.  What made it worse was there was a memorial book that just happened to be opened at May and the first name I saw was Keith's.  I'm afraid it was very very difficult for me and for  the boys too.  We wrote out our messages on the paper ornaments and placed them on the tree.  Then we just couldn't stay any longer and left with heavy hearts. 

Once home we talked about how we had felt, how unprepared we'd all been for the emotional challenge.  But after we'd chatted, remembered some of the good times and had a cuppa  we felt better. The strange thing was that that morning the app on my printer had printed out an origami angel.  I was quite an advanced and I got stuck.  Marc finished it off for me and I felt better knowing the paper folding had eased his mind enough for me to feel better about him driving all the way home on his own.  He was picking Alix up from the airport, she had been spending time with friends in Lille.  Sy and Julie went off to buy plates for Christmas dinner which left Buster and I to have another biscuit and a sleep.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Christmas sewing

Actually got down to do some sewing.  I was asked to make a Christmas Stocking for my friend's grandson and thought it a good reason to use up some of my Christmas fabric stash.

The sharp eyed of you will see that I've cut the main stocking fabric upside down!!!  These stockings take up much more fabric than I anticipated and naturally I didn't have enough to re-cut it.  I thought I'd make one for Flynn.  I do have quite a large stash of Christmas fabrics but most of them were fat quarters so Flynn's had to be a strippy one.

Flynn's is also slightly smaller,  I found some fun Laurel Burch fabric for the cuff, pity there wasn't enough to make the whole sock in.  I think I'm going to enjoy filling it with Santa presents.

I am also making several small snap-top bags to hold stocking fillers for the offspring.  I have one finished and another six to make.  They are all cut out and the metal ruler pieces (from a retractable metal tape measure) are all cut out too.  Actually I've made several of these before and my lovely Keith cut up two of his tapes so I could have a supply of pieces whenever I needed them.  Thank you my love.

Don't know why Blogger has decided to post this picture upside down, its was the right way up when I imported it, hmm.  Still you get the picture.

Took Buster for a walk alongside the River Tees, he knows the way his friend Mark takes him out sometimes.  The path ended at the style and Buster is waiting for me to cross it.  No hope Buster, it was raining and that path is wet and slippy at the best of times.  There were some swans on the river, just about discernible on the right hand side.

And finally my virtual friend Pauline sent me this lovely postcard because she has enjoyed swapping with me.  I was very touched and shall treasurer her card. Thank you again Pauline.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate

I always look forward to visiting the Knitting & Stitching show in Harrogate and this year was no exception.  I had hoped to go with my friend but unfortunately she took ill the night before and ended up in hospital.  She is fine but obviously not well enough for something as hectic as the K&S show. This year I travelled by coach instead of by car and the experience has left an impression, just not sure whether it was good or bad.  The International Centre was heaving with people when we arrived at around 10:45am and hot.  It got hotter as the morning progressed and there were two call out to the St John's brigade to people who had fainted.  By lunchtime they must have turned the heating down or off because it became much more comfortable, though I was surprised at how many people had left.  However, it did make it easier to view the stalls.

I had made out a list before I went of things I would like to see and buy but I only bought one thing off my list - Deli paper to play with on my Gelli plates.  I want to try out several techniques and put them in a journal.  Each year I say I'm going to keep a journal and by March its been sidetracked.  I think it must be my take on the New Year resolutions.  Maybe this year.......

There were very few demonstrations this year and a distinct reduction, to my mine of exhibitions. There was though a beautiful exhibition of work by Embroiderers' Guild, Young Embroiderers' and of graduate works.  I had hope there would be much more made of the 'Tour de France jumpers being made into blankets but it was stuck at the end of one of the halls and very easily bypassed. I did stay and talk to the people on the stand.  As there was a large pile of tiny jumpers waiting to be sewn together I offered to do some, but my offer wasn't taken up.  However I wish them luck with their project.

Photo's were not allowed in many of the exhibits but not by the Embroiderers Guild.  I love these sheep by the Young Embroiderers'

There were several really interesting entries for the Members Challenge of Tree Rhythyms

I don't want to give the impression that these were the only exhibits on show, there were lots of small groups, especially the knitting groups, with work on show but these seemed tucked away in corners.

I was tired but happy when I boarded the bus for home.  Now I'm going to have lunch with my family and when I get back  will think about playing with my purchases.

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.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Mystery Weekend

Not a mystery any more,  We set off on Saturday morning and after a pleasant spell on Otley for the mid morning break we arrived in Skipton for lunch.  After which we stayed in a lovely hotel just outside of Wakefield.   Next morning we set off for a day in York.   For me it was a bit like taking coals to Newcastle as I am very familiar with both places, Keith and I went there quite regularly.  But Anne had never been to either Skipton or York before so was delighted.  The good thing about being familiar with the places is that we didn't waste time trying to find the best places to visit.

 We ate lunch at Bizzy Lizzies down by the canal side.  Great fish and chips and a lovely view.;
 Anne poses on Lendle Bridge, below is the River Ouse.  It was very quiet that day with not a lot of activity on the river but great views.
 York Minster is stunning but there was a service going on so we were not allowed inside at the time of our arrival there.   We went to the Treasurer's House which is round the back of the Minster.

 I would have liked to have had another look inside the Barley Hall, one of the many Guild Halls in the city.  It's a while since I last visited but Anne was getting tired and as she has heart problems I thought I'd have a return trip another day on my own.
Part of the ruins in Museum Park,   Love the arches I must do something with this photo.