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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Long time no see....

I'm ashamed to admit that it has been over a year since I wrote on here.  I have no excuses to offer although I should explain that I have not been idling my time away.  Life has a rhythm to it here in beautiful mid-Wales. Working on Mondays and Tuesdays. My sewing group every Wednesday. Once a month, my felting group, WI and lunch out with my friends.  Also a monthly visit with my husband to our daughter's to be grandma-and-grandpa-in charge for a couple of days - a time we treasure beyond all things!


Llyn Clywedog - a few miles from us.  Beautiful!!

My facebook feed informed me this morning that there are only eight Mondays until Christmas!! Where did that time go? We've had a couple of weddings (our son and niece's), our granddaughter's 1st birthday, a trip to France to stay with our Town Twinning friends and some French visitors in return.  I've spent the afternoon cutting out the fabric for a table runner, 6 place mats, 3 tote bags and a Christmas stocking.  All I have to do now is sew them up.  Which may take some time.....

After that I did some work on some posters I'm designing for my sewing group's 2016 exhibition. We are called the Welsh Heritage Quilters and have an exhibition of our work every two years.  I am Mrs Average but there are some seriously talented ladies in the group.  I'll post more details later, but for your diaries the dates are 26th March - 10th April.

At the moment it's half term - time for catching up on those jobs that never seem to get done ordinarily. Although on Tuesday I had one of my regular knee injections which help to ease the pain of osteoarthritis in my knee.  The bonus is that I have to rest up for a couple of days so I have spent quite a bit of time reading.  I'm halfway through re-reading the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters which I love because they are set in Shropshire, my home county.  I especially love the little sketch maps at the front of each volume which are useful for following the story but also remind me of my childhood years. In between, I've caught up on the last two books in the alphabet crime series by Sue Grafton - W is for Wasted and X.  I like these novels set in California about a female private investigator although I gather the author now regrets saying she'd write one for each letter of the alphabet.  She's almost done now though!  I've also just read the new Phillipa Gregory, The Taming of The Queen.  I've read so many novel set in Tudor times now that they're beginning to merge into one narrative, but her descriptions of Henry VIII and his treatment of Katherine Parr are fascinating.  Except for his ulcerated leg - thank goodness the books don't have added smells.  I also have the first book in Bernard Cornwell's series about Uhtred of Bebbanburg - The Last Kingdom - to re-read.  I was hoping to do this before the TV series began but failed as it started last week.  

Pam, who is the unofficial leader of my felting group, says that we don't push ourselves out of our comfort zones enough, so I have resolved to be a bit more imaginative.  Last time I did some nuno felting, using apricot coloured merino and orange prefelt topped with black chiffon.  I was interested in a technique I'd seen where you free motion stitch over the chiffon and then cut away the chiffon from areas enclosed by the stitching to reveal the felt underneath.  I was reasonably pleased with my experiment but want to do more of this.  The picture below is not exactly clear but I think you'll get the idea.


I'm retiring at Christmas.  And this time I really mean it.  So hopefully I'll have more time to write about what's on my mind.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Season of mists.....

Well it's beginning to seem very autumnal now, and that suits me just fine.  Yes, I love to have some sunshine - especially living where I do - it's so beautiful.  But then I start thinking about log fires and woolly tights and puddings with custard.  Each season has its own delights doesn't it? 

Its been such a long time since I wrote a post and so much has happened.  The school holidays have been and gone in a flash - and I'm having to use my calendar to see what I got up to! I had three days at the Minerva Arts Centre Summer School in Llanidloes, learning all sort of stuff from Sandra Meech. We then went off to Derval in France - Llanidloes' twin town - for a visit with the Llanidloes Twinning Association.  We had a fun, action-packed five days.  The travelling was tiring but the welcome we had was wonderful.  And in the midst of all the excitement, our first grandchild was born!! Little Orla is so gorgeous. Here's an early photograph:


Of course, she wasn't supposed to arrive until after we came back from France but babies always surprise you don't they?  Since then we have been making the six hour round trip on a regular basis.  In between I managed to finish the cot quilt I started in June.  it was a pattern from Helen at Bustle and Sew and I'm very pleased with how it has turned out:



The little woodland animals are so sweet aren't they?  And the colours fit beautifully in with her bedroom.  Now I just have the nursery curtains to make before she moves out of her parents' room and into her own.

I also managed to make a little boasting book for her doting father to take back to work after his paternity leave. It's just a 6x4 photo album but I think it looks good:


I missed the August Funky Felters meeting but managed to make the one at the start of September where we mad some bowls. Mine was less than successful as I did not make my layers thick enough around the resist so now I have to decide how I can tinker with it.  Maybe it needs to go in the washing machine. Perhaps if the fibres shrink it will thicken up a bit.  Or I may have to do more soaping up and add more layers.  We shall see.  But I'm not putting on a photo until I've cracked it.  Felting is such a forgiving craft you can nearly always rectify your mistakes.  You may just not end up with what you intended to do in the first place but that's half the fun - it's like alchemy.  

Hopefully I won't leave such a gap between this and my next post.  Thanks for reading x

Friday, 9 May 2014

Blogger admits neglect.

Yes this little blog has been sadly neglected of late - it needs a little cwtch every now and then to keep it happy.  The thing is, when I started writing it, I did it because I like writing.  It helps to keep things ordered in my mind.  It was never a thing I wanted to have to do out of a sense of duty - otherwise it would become a chore. Thus my blog posts are sporadic but enjoyable to do.  

What have I been up to?  Well lots of things, really. Apart from the day job (which only accounts for three days of every week) there are lots of things I enjoy which take up my time.  The biggie at the moment is sewing. My daughter is moving house so I am on curtain making duty.  I hate the cutting out - it requires accuracy so I have to check and recheck before I get out the scissors, as a mistake can be expensive.  What wouldn't I give for a massive worktable where I could spread out all the fabric to see what's what.  Unfortunately, our cottage is small so that's out of the question.  Instead I wrestle with metres of fabric and lining, scissors and tape measures and the always elusive air-drying pen, cursing loudly as I go. Heigh-ho.  I now have two pairs of curtains cut out and tacked ready to machine stitch.  So far so good.

The felting continues on a monthly basis at Funky Felters.  Last week I nuno felted a georgette scarf in a bright shade of emerald green.  Vast quantities of turquoise coloured dye came out of the fabric in the process, so that my hands were stained for several days afterwards. I was reasonably pleased with the result but still have lots of hand stitching and embellishing to do to finish it off.

Since I got the Kindle I've been catching up on some reading.  I've managed to work my way through a whole series of six books by Martin Edwards which are detective stories set in the Lake District.  As I love the area I was interested to read them.  They're quite well written although I guessed 'who'd done it' quite early on.  One thing I did like were the little snippets of Lake District history that keep popping up.  One of the main characters is a historian who helps the detective who heads up the cold case unit.  Did you know there's a blue plaque on a (now closed) sub-post office in Kendal because it's the one that inspired the Postman Pat stories?  Neither did I - but now I quite want to go and look for it.  I've just started a book called Heresy, the first in a series set in Elizabethan times about an Italian ex-monk who escapes the Inquisition and ends up in England working as a spy.  It's by S.J.Parris and reminds me of the Shardlake series by C.J.Sansom, although I don't think it's as sharply written.          

Finally, I've been doing a bit of knitting.  I enjoy knitting but I usually knit on very large needles with chunky wool.  That's because, firstly, I'm going to felt what I make and you have to knit big because of the shrinkage that occurs during the felting process.  Secondly, I don't like knitting with small needles partly because the knitting takes ages to grow but also because I have annoying arthritis in my hands which means that I can only do it for a short while before it gets painful.  Oh the joys of the aging process!!  However, I am doggedly pressing on with my bit of knitting because that's what grandmas do, and I am going to be one at the end of August.  I am so excited to meet my first grandchild and the weeks are going by unexpectedly quickly.  I can't wait :-)

Until next time. Be happy and healthy.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Bloggers Block Broken

I seem to have had a bit of a writer's block recently so this blog has been sadly neglected.  However, I've managed to get a few things finished and so the pressure is off for a little while.  It's so lovely to have a bit of sunshine isn't it? I'm optimistic that Spring is here at last, although we could still have a cold snap.  The fields in Mid-Wales are full of the most gorgeous lambs and I love to watch them playing together in little gangs of woolly gorgeousness.

I've finished a couple of wall hangings recently which will hopefully go into the Quilt and Stitch exhibition at The Minerva Centre in Llanidloes.  I'm just a novice - some of the work is totally stunning!! 




Some of us at Welsh Heritage Quilters have been making small quilts to go in shop windows in the town to advertise the exhibition and I have done one for a wonderful shop called Ooh La La which sells all sorts of goodies.



Funky Felters have been busy too, making items for Wonderwool Wales 2014.  Our theme this year is clothing and accessories.  Some of my fellow felters have made coats, hats and all sorts of wonderful things, but my true love is nuno felting so I have made a couple of scarves which I hope will pass muster.

 This one was a really old chiffon scarf that I must have had for twenty years, but now it's had a new lease of life!


This one I made from muslin and a mixture of merino wool fibres and mulberry silk.  It's so light, soft and warm.  Of course, I couldn't resist a bit of stitchery and I have used up some old pearl beads to prettify it.

On the reading front, I've been absorbed in a couple of Joanne Harris books.  I so enjoyed Chocolat that I also read a sequel, Peaches For M. Le Cure and another novel set in Lansquenet called Blackberry Wine.  Lovely gentle reads.  I've also enjoyed a Bernard Cornwell called Gallows Thief which is pretty old and a great read.  It was sort of a cross between his Sharpe novels and a Georgette Heyer which sounds weird but the time setting is similar and so is the 'flash' language they use.

I'm beginning to think that my days are so filled with sewing and suchlike that I don't really have time to attempt to instil the basics of the English language into teenagers' brains, but the teaching pays the bills and I have lesson planning to do.

Thanks for reading this blog post.  I'll write again once the urge is upon me!

Monday, 6 January 2014

It's a miracle!

Finally I have found the strength to sit down at my little computer and write a blog post.  I can't believe it's taken me so long but with one thing and another time has flown by - as it does when you get older and spend more time snoozing than doing.  Christmas has come and gone in a flash and seems, now, like a distant memory.  Tomorrow I go back to work and begin the merry round all over again.  

So how have I been occupying myself, you ask.  Well, apart from the aforementioned snoozing (I think I must have been a hibernating creature in a former life) I have done a few things.   Shopping for Christmas presents took up a lot of time, although a lot of it was done online this year.  However did we manage in the days before online shopping?  It's so painless - spend tons of money in the blink of an eye and then parcels arrive at your door as if by magic.  This was followed by wrapping sessions which I have to admit are a bit of a bore.  Several hours of my life I can never get back.  Then I cooked my little socks off all through the festive season and hopefully managed to satisfy the ever hungry mouths belonging to my son and son-in-law. Yesterday, however, we took down the cards, decorations and Christmas tree.  This took approximately eighteen  minutes and was a lot quicker than it took to put them up.  Now, like Mother Hubbard's cupboard, everywhere seems bare.

On the sewing front, I made some lovely new curtains for the guest room and a bag as a present.  Felting wise I discovered a really exciting technique at a workshop with Mandy Nash who is really a jewellery designer but teaches felting as a sideline!  At our December Funky Felters meeting she showed us some wonderful German woollen fibres that are terrifically hard wearing and strong but which felt really easily.  We did a 2D piece of slashed felt and I can't wait to do some more.  I've put a picture of my effort below:



It consists of 16 layers of fibres with a plastic resist sandwiched in the middle of them to allow you to slash through the top eight layers to reveal the fibres underneath.  I absolutely loved the technique and have lots of ideas of things I want to have a go at.

I was originally going to do this post ages ago and entitle it Hole in One.  That was because I had just read a novel at one sitting about a detective called Harry Hole.  However, I failed to do that and have now read several more.  Hole in Six doesn't have quite the same ring but they are such a good read.  They are written by a Norwegian author called Jo Nesbo and are brilliantly written crime thrillers about a detective, Inspector Harry Hole (say Hole-a) of the Oslo police.  Because they have been translated in the wrong order I didn't read them chronologically but I would recommend them if you are a fan of Ian Rankin, Stig Larsson etc.

For Christmas, my husband bought me (with a little help) two brilliant textile books.  The first, by Maggie Grey (link to blog) called Dissolvable Delights, is about sewing with dissolvable film and I am itching to have a go at this.  In July, I am booked to go on a workshop with Lynda Monk called Exploring Creative Surfaces at the Quilt Association's Minerva Centre in LLanidloes (thanks Georgina!) so I also got her book - Fabulous Surfaces - which has got me really excited. Only another six months to wait!

The weather is so dull and gloomy, I've not been out and about much.  I have, however, discovered the joys of pinning!  Why have I not used Pinterest before?  It's a brilliant way of collecting together related ideas so that you can compare them with each other.  If you haven't tried it, here's a link to my boards .

If you've stuck it out this far - well done!!  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Back to reality...

Well the wedding is over, and what a fabulous day it was.  Beautiful weather, beautiful bride, beautiful everything!!



We had such a wonderful time but now it's over I can relax, think about my holiday at the end of next week, and get on with some more sewing and felting.  I did make quite a few things for the wedding though, which i can now reveal.  Firstly, I made lots of things for the centre of each table: a small, circular cloth edged in polka dot bias binding;  a table name made from a wooden teapot shape covered in vintage style paper with the name of the table written on (my husband made the wooden stands) and I also arranged the flowers in the little jugs on each table.



Continuing the theme, I then made a table plan board using polka dot fabric stapled onto board, with smaller teapots with the table names on.  My daughter attached a peg to the back of each one so that she could clip the guests' names to them and attach them to the board.  She also, I'm really proud to say, made the bunting flags-the first time she's attempted anything like that (so glad I bought her a sewing machine for her last birthday!!).




On the bunting theme - I made metres of it!! It was all around the room and looked so pretty.  We put some on the sweetie shelves along with some pretty, covered wooden hearts.  I also did some bunting for behind the top table.



Finally, I also made some bags.  Two little Dorothy bags for the flower girls and a lacy clutch for the bride.




I think I'll set up as a wedding planner!!  It's got to be more fun than trying to get teenagers to understand the rudiments of the English language (she said with a sigh).

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Book and bag blogpost.

I've just finished reading a great book - The Abomination by Jonathan Holt.  It's the first in a trilogy, is set mainly in Venice (that hooked me straightaway, to be honest - one of my favourite places), is a thriller/crime novel and involves the CIA, the carabinieri, the US military, the mafia and the catholic church.  Oh, and a computer hacker. A heady mix to be sure but it was well written, pacy and I can't wait for the next instalment.

I've been very busy making stuff for our daughter's wedding on 5th October.  Obviously I don't want to spoil the surprise for our guests but I can reveal the handbag that I made for myself. I used a frame from uhandbag.com  and bought some vintage navy velvet.  The lining I already had in my stash.  I'm really proud of how it turned out:


Don't worry, I'll bore you all rigid with wedding stuff after the event, but to tease  you here are some of the things I used to complete all my projects:
  • lace, fabric, ribbon
  • wood, glue, paint, marker pens
  • wall stapler, sewing machine
  • bondaweb, thread, scrapbook papers
See you soon.  Thanks for visiting x