Category: life

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!


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.


Oops-a-daisy Baby – Handmade Monday 50

I’m very excited.  Oopsy daisy is finished – yay me!  It’s made from a charm pack of Moda Oops-a-daisy designed by Keiki, about a yard and a half of matching yardage – I chose the ladybird on cream ground design – if someone knows the name – I would be delighted to add it.  It was going to be bound in plain red bias binding but due to my own inability to read a product listing correctly, when I went to collect the binding from Hulu Crafts in Modbury, I discovered it was not the right depth to bind my finished quilt.  A rummage (well it was actually a bit more dignified than that but you get the idea) through their collection of fabrics drew me to the red spotty Marshmallow and Cherry Eggs by Momo for Moda  and I bought a metre.  I have used about half so will be able to incorporate it with some of my other scraps to make another quilt top.

I was a bit worried about it clashing with the cream ladybug pattern but although the reds are not an exact match the range of other colours in the quilt make it an acceptable “happy accident”.

The finished quilt is approximately 32 x 38 so would make a lovely cot quilt and could be used as a play mat.  It has been machine echo quilted but the centre has a hand quilted heart motif where a baby’s initial could be added if required.  It has been washed on a gentle cycle and line dried – although given the weather today, I’m not quite sure how!

It has a quilt label in toning colours with my name and the year.

In other news, the thread from Cotton Patch took over a week to arrive – I didn’t pay for the express delivery so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised but it does irk me when companies take over a week to actually despatch something.  I know it wasn’t their most lucrative order ever but  I have spent quite a bit with them in the last few months. Whine over.

I’m a little early posting for Handmade Monday (well early for me anyway – and apparently a bit too early for Wendy, too) but I’ve got a busy week and the opportunity for crafting may be limited to Monday only this week – so I’m trying to save it. to try and finish Ruby – if I get her done I’ll try and post pictures too.  I’ll add in the link later because all those talented people are well worth a visit.

Repost: The Origin of the She Weevil

Reposted from my old blog which is all down the side there somewhere but  not all in very easily accessible format.  Reposted for thescroobiouspip, who asked, and if I may say  has some explaining to do in the name department!!!  Anyway, this old blog has been going on and off for quite a long time now so if you have a spare decade feel free to peruse.

Originally posted February (perhaps 19th) 2005 shortly before John had his first stroke. I am a marginally less bossy blogger than I was then, it appears.

The origins of the She Weevil
SheWeevil, she-weevil, or sheweevil: all variations of She Weevil which in itself, in case you haven’t realised, is a direct reference to the She-devil. If you are unfamiliar with the fantastical works of Ms. Fay Weldon then blogger off to the library and get familiarised. Alternatively go to work on an egg.

The Life and Loves of a She-Devil was adapted for television by the BBC in 1986 and I missed it for reasons that will become apparent further on in (read! You blog exploders, read!). During this discourse I am completely discounting the American cinema adaptation with Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr.

During the summer of 1986 at the age of 17-and-a-lot I had the ___ fortune (fill in the blank yourself) to join the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Don’t get me wrong, it was something I really wanted to do at the time but for various reasons they weren’t right for me and I certainly wasn’t right for them. I joined up on 9 June 1986 and spent the first five weeks of naval life banned from watching the television like all the other girls I joined up with. From HMS Raleigh I went up to HMS Dryad to do my Radar training. I bloggered about quite a bit and had to re-sit my final exam. Once I’d passed I was sent to work in the Cunningham Tactical Trainer. All of this time, through the summer and on into the autumn I watched virtually no TV.

After awhile I realised that I was being called She-devil by one of the hookies over in Cook Building. I didn’t know what or who he was referring me to but it didn’t sound good. When I found out I was even less impressed. I suppose with the benefit of hindsight I see where he was coming from but to me at 17 Julie T Wallace did not conform to the stereotype. At 6’2” with short red hair and flashing green eyes, neither did I but maybe I wanted to more than I knew.

Anyway. Now I’m thirty-six. When I started writing sheweevil I was thirty-five, I’ve had three children and am more Julie T Wallace than she is herself. I sometimes scare myself and often scare men. They don’t like the fact I look down on them – physically at least. I sometimes feel like a giantess and people’s children point and I get mistaken for men. Which is odd really as I certainly am more than ample in the boob department. They generally can’t believe a woman can be the size I am.

Okay now I sound like the incredible hulk. I’m not green, just a bit browned off. In my head, where I am self-deprecating in a dry and mostly humorous way, I’m a bit she-devilish but not quite, I am more me than that; more she-weevilish.

Are you getting it yet?

Coming around again

I now have Carly Simon’s dulcet tones ringing in my head but reflection on what’s gone and what’s yet to come seems to befit this time of year.  This time last year I was in a very bleak place emotionally and my confidence was at a low ebb worn away by months of high anxiety.  2011 for all its slings and arrows has been quite healing in many ways.  We have had help from a lovely psychologist specialising in brain injury who has helped us to have a better understanding of what’s going on.  It doesn’t always help to know why something is happening but it never hurts.

A combination of this and my own craftiness (you can take this as cunning or my incessant need to make things) seems to have had the desired effect an inspirational effect on John and his initial small decorative efforts have stretched his artistic muscles to the point where, as I write, he is in the shed painting again.  Not only that but he has renewed his Minigallery subscription and has done most of the adminny bits he needed to do to get it to go live.  These are huge, seven-league-boot steps forward and I don’t think any of them could have been achieved if I was still going out to work.

I am sharing my own personal favourite which I am linking to – not everyone is comfortable with the human form, so if you aren’t don’t click please.  This was painted back in 2005 from a drawing done of me back in 2004 or 2003 and it sold very quickly, too quickly to a lady in London.  I wanted to look at it for a bit longer; who doesn’t want to see themselves so beautifully depicted?

Handmade Monday 48

Though, in truth, only about my fourth I think.  This was the Christmas present that made the supreme sacrifice and didn’t get finished until yesterday.  A substitute present had to do but then a bottle of Chanel No 5 is always an acceptable substitute, n’est-ce pas?

It is crocheted in Mano Del Uruguay lace weight wool in baby alpaca, silk and cashmere in a shade called Iris (perhaps it lost something in the translation) which is much more cracked black pepper than rainbow.  I used a pattern from Cute and Easy Crochet  by Nicki Trench and adapted it, figuring that the recipient (John’s Mum) would prefer a scarf sized scarf rather than something 64 inches wide – I’m still sure that’s a misprint.

Anyway it was put away in the last minute quilt and jumper frenzy – oh there may have been some cooking in there too – who makes two Christmas cakes, I ask you? When I took it out again I found that I had made a mistake and that one end wasn’t true so I had to rip it out and start again to about 1 1/2 inches from the beginning.  It does feel gorgeous – I blocked it yesterday and think I prefer the before version but that’s me just a messy so and so.

I hope she likes it anyway – and perhaps you will too.
Welcome to every one visiting from Wendy’s Handmade Monday over here; and to all my new quilty friends please pay Wendy’s blog a visit; lots of other clever handicrafters over there.

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