Category: family

Strange times


My beautiful pictureOn a whim, just before the summer holidays, I contacted a very wise former colleague and asked about getting back into governance.

I used to work for a number of different schools as what we call here the Clerk to the Governors.  When I finished at my last job, days seemed incredibly dark for a variety of reasons I won’t go in to here but as a result my confidence was at an all time low.

Over the last few years I have tried to learn to cope better with John’s illness and the stresses and strains that life has thrown our way, not always successfully.  I am learning to be kinder to myself and my quilting and handmade things have given me a new confidence.  Going to craft fairs and talking to people about what I do has helped me to understand the value of my abilities in a kinds of different parts of my life.

This week has done that too: an unexpected opportunity from an unlikely (I thought) source has made me see that I do have value to others beyond my front door.  I will try to remember this when stress rears its ugly head again.

I will continue to run Love Quilts and to make the things I love,; I haven’t stopped being a carer, the work I do can largely be done from home. I’m sure non of this will increase the frequency with which I update my blog!

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Spring must be sprunging …


daffodil

Spring must be here or hereabouts as my hay fever has started. We went out yesterday to get herbs from our local garden centre, it was bitter and they had lots of mother’s day style things but nothing in the way of herbs not even the hardier shrubbier ones so we went further out of town to a large garden centre which is part of a national chain and we did find some.

On the way there I noticed what my mum always call the green smoke, that whispy hardly perceivable bud burst, was starting on the hawthorns which make up quite a large part of our hedgerows and field boundaries.  Even if we get a cold snap now it will only stall the impending season; we have turned the corner, spring is within touching distance.

So i’m very pleased to say that the next lot of compost is on its way.  Maybe not quite enough to fill both beds but certainly enough to fill the first and partially fill the second. My potatoes are going in the far end of the second bed and they haven’t even arrived yet so no panic there.  I will be growing a variety called Red Duke of York which I’ve grown before.  I don’t see the purpose in growing all purpose potatoes in my limited space so I’m going for a nice red skinned first early which we will use as a salad potato.  It’s land cress, lettuce and rocket next and red onions, which again have not yet arrived.  A red theme is emerging, n’est-ce pas?  Not anything to do with me being a red head I can assure you but, I believe them to be a bit more slug and snail resistant.  Don’t say that too loudly because I haven’t actually seen any in the new garden, shhhh!  It may be an old wives tale; it’s certainly this old wife’s tale.

On that happy spring filled note I will wish you all a happy Saint David’s Day and be on my way.

Intercepted


Disappointment seems to follow swiftly on the heels of disappointment in my little life.  Closely followed by a swift kicking .  Are you detecting a particular tone to this post?  Sorry about that.  It seems that despite suggestions from our social landlord that due to our circumstances we may be eligible for an early move it now seems that we are not and that by the time we do move there will be none of the new houses that are suitable and adaptable left.

I know I shouldn’t have trusted the woman in the office gotten my hopes up but I just wanted something nice to look forward to.

In an attempt to cheer myself up I was playing old TV themes – it’s a game we used to like to play, our own version of Name That Tune, but during the course of this little interlude it emerges that John can no longer remember that Jason King drove a Jensen Interceptor.  The only reason I have ever heard of a Jensen Interceptor is because John used to bang on and on and on and on and …. about Jason bloody King and his Jensen bloody Interceptor.  I feel bereft.

I have a lovely report from the lovely psychologist to tell us that actually after all the brain mashing John is still average with some particular difficulties thrown in for good measure but was highly superior before.  I had actually worked that one out for myself but ho hum.  There are whole chunks of our life and of his own that he can no-longer remember and every time I am confronted with it I feel gutted again.  It is almost seven years since this nightmare began.

 

St Distaff day blues


I thought I would share with you my latest little creation which was originally going to be called the Putting on the Itsy Bits Ritz quilt due to the combination of Moda and Makower fabrics used, but will, from now on be known as the Little Boy Blue quilt.

It is made from about 2/3rds of a Moda Putting on the Ritz jelly roll and about 1 1/2 yards of Makower Itsy Bits yardage.  This is not because I am the devil may care, throw caution to the wind, kind of woman, it’s because the lady in the nice fabric shop had matching fabric but couldn’t sell me any due to her block of the month club.  Frankly it would have been better to tell me she hadn’t got the matching yardage.  Anyway the Makower is a very near match and is for the back only, which will be stippled, so is not really a problem.

Being on a budget, I am always looking for ways to make my fabric purchase better value for money and have been busy looking at prices of the different precuts.  In the UK layer cakes and jelly rolls seem to be between £25 and £30 ($39-$46) and charm packs £8.50 – £11.00 ($13-$17), in fact it seems to me that the retailers sometimes just swap the dollar sign for a pound sign.  Imagine my delight to have found a secret (well I suppose not if I’m sharing it with you) stash of delightful charm packs.

At this point a drum roll feature would be excellent WordPress, let me introduce, Melody from Fort Worth, Texas and her Etsy shop Melody of the Heart.  I currently have, winging their way to me, 9 charm packs in three designs for a total of £62 ($93) including shipping – which works out at just less then £7 a pack – I haven’t found better value anywhere else at the moment but if you can do better …. Please pay her a visit; amazing value and a lovely friendly service too.

In other news, I am just waiting now for some batting so that I can complete Ruby and her friend.  I am currently hand quilting Little Boy Blue (see below) but am waiting for a free motion quilting foot and my try machine quilting Ruby to see which I prefer.

Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby


 

 

The light is still not quite right to photograph this to reflect the lovely colours but I will include the swatch in a moment.  I have used a single charm pack from Moda designed by Bonnie and Camille called Ruby.  This was my first attempt at cutting into the patches (four patch blocks).  I have pieced them randomly without much attention to the overall design and I like it.  Next time though, I will be planning more carefully and piecing with purpose!! All over pinwheels would be particularly suitable for a boy I think.  The panel here looks quite Cath Kidston in colour whereas the palette is actually fresher and more modern looking, see swatch below right.

Anyway, the panel is approximately 26.5 x 26.5 inches.  I’m trying to work out how I got there but next time I’ll write it down as I go.  The charm pack yielded 10 4 patch blockswhich were cut on the diagonal to give 40 triangles which were sewn back together to give 10 squares – I used 9 blocks to create a square quilt top.

I’m waiting for my backing and binding fabric to arrive but I will be using the one pictured to the left (the aqua coloured with apples/cherries) to create a deep 8 1/2 inch border,  it will also be used as the backing fabric.  The quilt will be bound in the same aqua colour but a solid version.

I will be using Warm and Natural cotton batting again (if it ain’t broke …) as I have been pleased by the finish of Hannah’s quilt and it was quite easy to hand quilt.

I will be hand quilting this one too – the middle panel will have a stipple pattern like the one to the right 

and the border will be echo quilted on either side of the border fabric and then have the lovely ducks (left) to further decorate it.  It will be approximately 35.5 inches square when completed and will be for sale in my etsy shop.

Hannah’s quilt


I have been quiet for a little while because I have been busy finishing things, cleaning things, cooking things and eating things not necessarily in that order.

At the end of November I had the brain wave to make something I hadn’t attempted before for the main Christmas present for my daughter Hannah.  She has wanted a traditional quilt for a long time and I was actually looking to buy her a handmade one but the ones I liked were out of my price bracket. So I decided to make one.  I took some advice from Ros as to whether it was feasible to complete by Christmas and then set about looking for fabric.

I started with ebay – my starting place for most things in life if I’m honest – and was suddenly immersed in a world of baffling new terminology: fat quarters and fat eighths, jelly rolls and charm packs, layer cakes and honey buns.  There are more but it’s all just a bit baffling still.  Definitions can be found here, at the Moda Bake Shop.

The idea of precut fabric really appealed and anyone who has witnessed me wielding a pair of scissors will understand why.  That line, the one you’re supposed to stick to, is there apparently only to serve as a punctuation to my wiggly cutting.  The idea of precut anything is very appealing.

I chose to make a single bed size and worked out that I could make one with a jelly roll (4o 2 1/2 inch strips, 45″ wide) and two layer cakes (packs of 42 10″x10″ squares).  I found some I liked on ebay from a seller in Redruth which meant I wouldn’t have to wait for it to ship from America.  I chose a pattern called Full Circle shown below:

Once the bundles arrived and I could see what I was dealing with, I worked out a design, in Excel naturally:

The finished quilt is actually a little different, the dividing grid is all butterscotch, with black squares at the intersections and the outside border is red.  I have a few pieces of fabric left over but not much.

I decided to make the whole thing in cotton so the batting (or wadding), the backing fabric and the thread are all cotton.  This means that it should all shrink at the same rate (it will shrink a bit Hannah).  I ordered Warm and Natural batting from Amazon: for their biggest size it was about £20 which compared very well to all the quilting sites.

Actually starting to sew it was quite scary; I suppose I was scared of making a mess but there is nothing like a looming deadline to focus the mind.

It was edged in black cotton bias binding and all hand quilted with echo quilting and heart designs.

It is, I hope the first of many as I’m more than slightly obsessed now, in fact I have two quilt tops waiting for edging fabric and batting.  There will be more pictures if the light ever gets any better.  Patience is a virtue 🙂

Virtual Pudding


It’s been a strange week with the premature death of a friend and more problems and devastation caused by student finance England.  So I thought some virtual pudding was in order.

James Martin does a Black Forest trifle over here; this is not that.

It was a pudding that my Mum used to make back in the 70s and 80s as a family favourite (for which read one of dad’s favourites).  It probably came from Family Circle.  This was inspired by a post over at Amy Bakes.

Take a large shop bought chocolate swiss roll, cut into slices and arrange around glass dish.  Take a can of stoned black cherries in juice (or if you’re feeling flush a jar of black cherries in kirsch) and a blackcurrant jelly.  We used to use black cherry jelly but I haven’t seen one for a long time – if anyone knows where I can buy them please let me know.  Make the jelly as per the instructions replacing most of the cold water with the juice from the cherries.

You can give the swiss roll sponge a bit of  a soak with liqueur if you like, then arrange the cherries over and around the slices of swiss roll. Add the jelly and chill until set.  Take about a pint of double or whipping cream (whipping cream has slightly lower fat content than double cream: 35% as opposed to 48%).  Whip until soft peaks are achieved, we used to whip to pipe but that was all a bit passe; who knows the cup-cake craze may bring back piping! Decorate with soft peaks of cream, some reserved cherries and shavings of dark chocolate.  Send everyone out and enjoy with a large spoon.

Tomorrow I will be appearing fashionably late to Handmade Monday 37 (just waiting for my phone to charge to take some piccies).

Night all