Friday, 14 December 2012

Oh dear I found out today that George had passed away sometime this year which is very sad as he was a lovely man but at least he has been reunited with his Vi.
I am sort of getting there for Christmas, I think I have done all the present shopping and have even posted some of them, the rest will get sent tomorrow if I can find a post office without an enormous queue. Crikey postage has gone up (I used to work in a post office) 50p each for 2nd class, will have to start buying stamps to put aside for Christmas cards at this rate. I have spent nearly all day wrapping presents to send and think I deserve a glass of wine this evening!

One of the presents I am sending this year is this table runner in the top photo, then we have Tigger making sure it won't get away and then the fat rolly polly santa I made with Ann at Westbury Park Quilters. Lovely easy pattern, will certainly make this again - one of the members from Severn Valley Quilters, Hilary, went to Keepsake Quilting in New Hampshire and got me the pattern, definitely a good buy!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Ooh I've got a follower!! Thanks Lorraine!! I'll try and keep this up to date, nothing worse than a blog that's totally out of date.

I have finished my christmas tree as you can see. It looks good (but maybe not in the kitchen with  all the junk) it took a lot of toy stuffing and I had to get another bag - the bottom two stars took nearly most of one bag so not exactly a cheap thing to make but it will last a long time with any luck.
Blooming cold today, didn't go to Bath with Allison as there's too much to do at home such as blitzing the whole house before Christmas - wish I could be tidier!
Haven't had a card from George who I used to work with years and years ago, he was 91 in June and his card always arrives on the 1st December so hope all is well with him.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

This is my pile of stars to make a christmas tree. I found the pattern when I was at Cowslip Workshops and also bought some of the fabric there. I have made holes in the centre of the stars and now need to stuff them, sew up the opening then find some dowelling to go through the centres and stand it in a pot. The top star will just sit on the top of the dowelling. They had lots of them dotted round the shop at Cowslip and they looked lovely so maybe I will make some more.

Went to a very upmarket craft fair at Tredegar House in Newport on Friday, some AMAZING stuff at amazing prices!! There are some very talented people out there. I especially liked Zoe Hillyard's ceramic patchwork ( and Alison Moger's designs which took me back to my childhood in North Wales - ysgol Sul, Gymanfa Ganu and welsh village life. I nearly succumbed to buying a lovely bag from one stall but will wait and see what Father Christmas brings. The catering was top notch as well, I had fish chowder with fish biscuits for lunch which makes a great change from cheese and tomato sandwiches! Managed to pop into Busy Bees for a quick visit and got the red stripe fabric in the photo. Forgot to mention the talk on the Wrexham tailor's quilt by one of the textile curators from St Fagans. This was really interesting and the quilt itself is fantastic. The story behind it is quite sad really, it took 10 years to make and was passed down to family members who hit hard times in the depression of the 1920's/1930's and asked the museum if they would be willing to buy it so that the rest of Wales could appreciate the quilt. The family wanted £75 but the museum would only offer £20 - how mean was that? It is now the jewel in their quilt collection, can't remember if it was shown at the V&A exhibition in 2010?

Smudge is being very demanding and keeps miaowing quite mournfully - do cats grieve for their lost friends? I don't know whether she is missing Tortie or whether it's old age as she is 18. Her coat is not in very good condition but she doesn't groom herself as much as she used to so I am brushing her once a day and giving her a few drops of cod liver oil which the vet says is good for her but can give her the runs, oh great!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Great week in Cornwall last week. It was lovely being back there, must be getting on for 15 years since I was last there. Anyway I was there to attend a course called Design for the terrified which was very apt as I was totally terrified - you just have to say the word design and I start to panic! The course was run by Di Wells who is a fantastic teacher and full of amazing ideas and techniques so I really need not have panicked about a thing! I got totally taken out of my comfort zone as I cannot draw to save my life (I used to go and hide when it was art classes in school) but that was OK. I went with my friend Joyce and we stopped at Cowslip workshops just outside Launceston on the way there. Total chaos as they were having a christmas craft weekend and the place was just heaving! The restaurant which Joyce had been looking forward to was crammed to bursting and it was fairly difficult getting to look at the amazing stuff on sale but I did buy a beautiful jug as a Christmas present for one of my daughters.

The course was held at Bodrugan Barton, a working farm just outside Mevagissey, it dates back to Domesday and was just lovely. The owners have converted an old barn into a studio which is on the top floor with six ensuite rooms underneath so I didn't have to stagger far to my bed! I went on a few walks, two just after breakfast and one on the Tuesday which was our day off and we walked into Mevagissey, very hilly and definitely not built with cars in  mind!

The sea was about 20 minutes' walk away and it made me realise how much I miss living by the sea. I took a photo of this plant which I am planning on using Di's cow parsley screen print, just need some fabric paints, never thought I would be saying that!

cow parsley screen print

no idea what this plant is but it will look good for the cow parsley print

footpath to the coast

Now all I need to do is put everything away and go over all the new things I have learnt during the week and start doing some Christmas shopping!!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Yesterday was a dreadful day, I lost my beautiful Tortie, poor old puss. Really really sad, she didn't quite make it to being with us for 18 years, just 10 days short. It seems very strange without her, she has been like a shadow for so long, I haven't been able to sit down for more than a minute and she would appear and commandeer my lap - the other two cats didn't get a look in, and such a character! Surprising she lived so long, I'm sure she didn't have many of her 9 lives left! These little animals come into our lives and steal our hearts, become one of the family and are so very much missed when they go on to higher things. Sleep peacefully my lovely Tortie Portie, no  more suffering for you.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Not sure where the days go to at the moment! Just washed the kitchen floor so am feeling quite pleased with myself as it's not one of my favourite jobs! The last two Tuesdays have been spent on an indigo dyeing course in Bristol. I went with Joyce who knew where the area where the class was held and also knows far more than I do about dyeing fabric. I have never been particularly keen on the end results with my few attempts at fabric dyeing - the fabric manufacturers do it so much better! So it was with slight trepidation that I went along. No need to worry though as Barbara, the teacher, was lovely and very experienced. She gave us a slide show of her visit to Nigeria to see the indigo dyers there and then her visit to China, both very inspiring. The first day we spent learning about how to use the indigo baths and played around with batiks and folding fabric etc. The second class we worked on our own projects and I made a bag with four panels. I love gingko leaves and brought some back from a trip to China in 2008 but couldn't find them anywhere so I used the leaf shapes from a Sylvia Pippen pattern that I made years ago. I traced them on to the pfd fabric with a wash out marker pen, then filled in the leaves with wax, wet the fabric, scrunched up the wax and put the fabric panels in the indigo dye and here are the results! Really pleased with the way it has turned out. I did try putting wadding between the two layers but that made it too bulky so out it came. I do intend to quilt round each leaf though - it could take some time!
The second picture is the lining fabric for the bag which I also dyed - the white bits are numbers used to mark the placement of the panels - the lining is a mirror image of the outer panels. Otherwise it gets very confusing trying to stitch it all together!

Great day last Wednesday when I went on a guided medieval walk in Bristol (went into Bristol two days in a row, unheard of!) learnt a lot and found lots of  little alley ways that I never knew existed! A definite revisit is needed.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

I feel as though I have moved into the vets! I have 3 cats, Tortie and Smudge who are 18 and Tigger who is 11. Last week I made an appointment to take Tigger for her annual check up and boosters. She is slightly feral and likes to stay out all night so in the morning, she came in and had her breakfast and then went off to sleep. I got the box out of the garage and in that instant, she totally vanished. Couldn't find her anywhere - I looked behind the sofa, understairs cupboard, wardrobes upstairs but absolutely no sign of her. So off I went with Tortie who was booked in for Friday morning and this of course upset the computer at the vet's. Got home and there was Tigger curled up fast asleep in the armchair! Both Smudge and Tortie have had to have blood tests. Smudge's results came this morning and she is doing OK on her thyroid tablets - she's not too bad taking them and only occasionally do I have to take 3 or 4 goes to get it into her. This morning was Tortie's turn for a blood test - tortoiseshell cats have a reputation for being feisty and at 18 Tortie Portie hasn't lost hers! After waiting for ages, at least 20 minutes, the vet reappeared and said she was very sorry but they had been unable to take any blood as she wriggled too much and could they keep her for a couple of hours to have another go? If I have to give her tablets I think I might need those gauntlets you see birds of prey handlers wearing!
Good evening at Knit and Natters last night - I hope Tina's new wool shop in Thornbury does well as she is full of enthusiasm.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Yesterday I went to the Weston Quilters quilt show in Weston super Mare, not a place I know well even though it's only a 45 minute drive down the M5 and very popular with everyone. I had been persuaded to enter my red and white yellow brick road quilt so had to go and collect it at the end of the show. I very nearly withdrew it as I had a disaster after sending off the entry form. I looked at it and thought it was a bit hairy (I have 3 cats who love sleeping on my quilts) so bunged it into the washing machine on 30 degrees and of course some of the reds ran! And I had prewashed them as well! So it looked rather pink in places and left me feeling quite disappointed. However because of its size it had been hung on a wall above one of the traders so no-one could get up close and personal! I might try giving it another wash with Colour Catcher to see if some of the pink comes out. It was a lovely show, spent a small fortune on fabric and patterns and I was lucky enough to win one of the bags being raffled so that more than made up for the red fabric running.

This is my red and white yellow brick road quilt. Made with fat quarters bought on a holiday to the US - we went to a small quilt show held by a local quilt group and one of the traders there had this fabulous selection of red and white fat quarters. When I got them home I washed them and to my horror one of them had a large chunk cut out so I couldn't make the full number of blocks. This was taken before the reds ran.

Thursday I went to Hereford with the U3A church visits group. Didn't take long to get there but the traffic in Hereford was fairly bad. The cathedral was lovely and we had a conducted tour which does make a huge difference. I managed to sneak off to Doughtys in the lunch break to get some PFD fabric for an indigo dyeing class I am taking next month and of course came out with not just PFD fabric but a pack of fat quarters and two half metres of Japanese taupes. Then I found their haberdashery shop round the corner and bought some wool to knit a waistcoat .... bread and water for the rest of the month!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

It's been a while since I last posted, three months in fact!
Just been to the Food Fair in Thornbury and the carrot cake lady wasn't there, sob! I have signed up with Sainsburys Diets and have lost 3 pounds in the first week so probably just as well she wasn't there as it would have definitely sabotaged things! Does carrot cake count towards your 5 a day? Met Lorraine for a coffee instead.
This is Tigger making the most of the small amount of sunshine we had in August - oh the joys of being a cat!
This photo is rather dark but was taken in Acton Court during the Tudor Tailor talk about a Tudor gentlewoman's wardrobe. Fascinating talk and good to be back at ActonCourt which has to be the most amazing Tudor building in the country.

I have signed up for a week's quilting course in Cornwall in November. It's called Design for the terrified which fits me perfectly! It took a long time to decide to go and part of me is still not entirely convinced about it. I cannot draw to save my life and my imaginatin goes a total blank when the word design comes up. However amongst all the stuff I brought back from my parents' house is a book of Japanese designs and there are 20 different gingko leaf patterns which I would love to make a quilt with so maybe I can do something with them?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

This is the cake I made for our street party to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The recipe came from the BBC Good Food magazine and turned out very well, though the blueberries were a bit on the big side! It was a lovely party and I met lots of new neighbours and at least the weather was dry but it could have been a bit warmer! Great afternoon, something that should happen once a year!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

This amazing red poppy appeared in the garden on Monday morning, beautiful colour and contrast between the red and black centre. I planted it years ago but this is the first time it has had such a spectacular flower, and there's another bud to come! It has a lovely long stem so if I'm careful maybe I can dry the seed head and use it in a dried flower arrangement.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Wuhey  - have spent two Saturdays in a row finishing off things started in quilt classes this year. Last Saturday I got the delectable mountains top put together but now need more fabric (!) to do an applique border, and today I made more blocks for the flying geese quilt which is slowly going together on what I call my design wall which is actually a sheet of polysterene and unfortunately not quite big enough for the job. Tomorrow is going to be yet another extremely wet day with rain forecast for most of the day so perhaps I can start sewing the rows together but I also need to tidy up that sewing room as I can barely move in there!
Good day on Thursday when I drove to the creative craft show at the Bath and West Showground - I was on the Region 5 Quilters' Guild stand with Sheila and Lorraine, and we had lots of interest in the quilts display and our sewing. The cats had a pay-back day yesterday as I had been out all day the day before, lots to clean up but I won't go into any nasty details but it didn't smell very sweet!
Also found out that there are two types of polenta - I needed some to make a blueberry cake and guess what I bought the wrong sort! Oh well the cake tasted OK which was the main thing but it did take 30 minutes longer to cook than the recipe said, I will know better next time.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Oh dear so much for New Year resolutions - I have become one of those annoying bloggers who forget to keep their blog up to date which is something that doesn't impress me at all. Since January I have been to France for a week, done at least four more quilt classes and even finished one quilt which is now hanging up in Thornbury Town Hall for the Arts Festival, oh and I went to London for the day in March to see the illuminated manuscripts exhibition at the British Library which was excellent but very very busy and so crowded, you had to stand for ages to wait and see the exhibits in the cabinets but they were well worth the wait. As a result I got a great book for my birthday from my two daughters, The Plantagenets which is a very large and heavy book. France was good - I went to a small town outside Avignon with my friend Gwen whom I have known since I was 8 or 9, and two of her French friends. Lovely area with great markets and nice little villages. Eurostar was impressive as was the TGV from Paris to Avignon.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The bag class is going well, I took a picture of my finished bag which I managed to make from scraps so I only had to buy a zip and that wasn't so bad putting it in though it did take a couple of goes to get it right!
I am not so keen on making a sample from the second class though I have to admit I haven't really looked at it. Great class at Midsomer Quilting on Sunday with Alicia Merrett making her amazing map quilts though mine will look absolutely nothing like hers. Off to Busy Bees on Saturday to do New York Beauty with Judi M, should be another good day, apart from having to pay £6 to cross the bridge!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

New year resolutions etc etc

I decided towards the end of 2011 that I had to take myself in hand and loose weight and blitz the house! My poor daughters will inherit an incredible mess if I don't start SOON. Having been through clearing my parents' house and standing in their dining room and getting very angry (I remember shouting very loudly) I have to do something to get rid of the stuff that has accumulated here. However it is now the 7th January and so far I have only cleared my shoes out! There are too many distractions such as the Quilt University class I have signed up for, designing the perfect bag (is there such a thing?) - I printed out 30 sheets (eeks will need more printing ink soon) so I need to sit and read through all of them. I did start to make the class sample yesterday but now need a zip (I hate putting in zips - maybe this will cure me?) so that means a trip to John Lewis at the Mall as I don't think there is anywhere in Thornbury selling such things.
I am also trying to change the way I shop so from now on I will be buying fruit and veg, meat and possibly bread from farm shops or local shops instead of supermarket chains. I had thought of giving up supermarkets altogether but realised I have to buy cat food, loo rolls, washing stuff and so on so maybe a fortnightly or monthly trip will cover that. I discovered the Frome Valley farm shop yesterday which was great, not as good as the one in Farrington Gurney but still a good choice of things.
Phone call from Gwen this morning so need to start booking trip to Avignon in March.