Monday, 31 January 2011

Christmas 2

Christmas 2 was great yesterday.  We had turkey and all the trimmings but I was good and didn’t go overboard with buying all the extra chocolates etc! 

It was really wonderful to see Elsa again, she is so skinny now though!  More to do with extreme exercise than lack of food I may add.  The army doesn’t exactly starve them!  But she has been running virtually half marathons most days and practising Jujitsu.  I think all my exercise genes went into her and Chris.  Two very active children I have!  

We did our bird count on Saturday morning.  It seemed quite low for us this year but we have had Andy all over the front garden all week and he had moved one of the feeding stations.  I also don’t think they like the dumper truck left in their usual line of flight.  Our highlight, apart from a Tree Creeper ,  was a pair of Song Thrush.  Absolutely lovely.

Andy is back to work on the conservatory, the floor is partially suspended now and that will be all the heavy groundwork done.  My head is starting to fill with ideas as it always does when I don’t have access to everything.  As soon as I can work on something though I haven’t a thought in my head!  It’s my age I think.  Hormonal desertion is a pain.

Jen,  I sent you an email but I think your account is on no reply.  I will catch up over on yours soon.

We have an afternoon at the ski centre today.  Well Elsa and Mike are being active and John and I will be sat in the lodge watching! 


Friday, 28 January 2011

Home and Almost FREE!!!

First of all a quick picture. Andy has moved one of the bird feeders nearer the window and out of the way of his digger and dumper truck and I managed to take a snap of some of the finches.

Who you looking at?!

They are growing quite bold and will even gang up on the very boisterous Starlings.

Please don't forget, if you can spend an hour away from crafting, it's the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend. I read today they are going to do a survey on Magpies, Crows and Sparrowhawks to find their impact on the decline of the smaller birds. About time too I just hope they include the other corvids. We hardly actually see crows, rooks however have become a bit of a problem.

And the reasoning behind the title. MY LITTLE GIRL IS HOME FROM AFGHANISTAN!!!!

I cannot express how hard the past four and a half months have been, and we were the ones left here in our cosy homes surrounded by the people and things we love!  I know she is going to squeak at me about the photo, (hence birdy ones at the top so they show in Blog Rolls first), but I think it is a lovely one and it is the most recent I have even though it is just before she left!  (Sorry Ess xxx)  We won't actually see her until Saturday as she still has to work today so I'm still bouncing up and down a bit, and we will be having Christmas again on Sunday.  THEN the tree can come down.

Now I just have a problem of finding the bed they are supposed to be staying in under all my stuff dumped on top of it.


Friday, 21 January 2011

C&G Dying Again!!

Yesterday I put lots of fabrics and threads in dye bags with various mixes and today I have rinsed, washed and ironed them all.  I have a nice stack of fabrics all ready for the next phase of the C&G course now.  I have photos of them all open (!) but it would be a little overpowering to show them all here.  I am pleased with how they all turned out though.
These two are probably my favourites though.  The left one because of the crystalline effect and the right one because I was looking at the sky just after sunset the other night and wishing I could capture the lovely  yellow and blue with a green hue along the horizon.  I think I almost sort of managed it! 

The first block in the Erin Russek My Tweets (see link on the right) has been sewn and washed though the ironing is a little slack!  I haven't strayed very far from her original and I like the colours so far.

In the post this week I received this lovely bundle of Jinny Beyer 1 yard pieces.  She had the most wonderful sale and even after paying VAT to Mr HMRC and the bonus postage to Mr Parcel Force they were all still less than half the price I can buy them for over here.  A couple have been earmarked for the new Mystery Monday which has just started too. 

I also had this through the door today.  I ordered this forever ago when I was doing the machine embroidery course on Quilt University and I had totally forgotten about it.  I'm not sure if I can remember how to do the embroidery thing but I have notes and may be able to figure it out again one day!

And the old little conservatory on the side of the house has come down and Andy is wreaking havoc outside.  This is the beginning of the new big conservatory that will be my workroom.  (Nope, still can't call it a studio!).  It will be 5 x 3 meters of my stuff.

PS  It appears there is a problem with Picasa uploading blurry blog headers at the moment, please excuse mine, I'm working on it!


Saturday, 15 January 2011

Yesterday I Was Dying ;-)

I haven't dyed properly with Procion MX dyes before.  I've done a little with Dylon in the micro and had good results, but this was the real deal!

Would these mushy bags of colour actually turn into anything?

Of course!   Yay!!  I had twelve colours in the starter kit I bought from Debbie but I was supposed to be making a basic colour wheel so only used the red, blue and yellow as they were and as mixes to make the secondary colours.

I also threw in two types of mercerised cotton threads I had and, just to see how they would take the colour, some cotton parcel twine (white) and some beading hemp (mid tan). I was quite please with these too.

I think I may have another go at it later next week as I think the violet could be pinker and the green stronger.  I also have some linens and other bits I want to try too.

As well as Lisa's beading class, I have also been taking part in the Kim Klassen Skinny Mini Photoshop Elements course this week, (see button on the right), though I do have one night's work to catch up on.  I have had Elements on the computer for at least 8 months and every time I open it I have a quick look and then close it again before I start screaming in terror.  This week I have used layers!! AND adjustments!!!!! Kim runs these free little taster courses on a regular basis and they really are a great stepping off point.

Also this week Erin Russek has started her latest appliqué BOM with her beautiful design My Tweets, (also see button on the right).  I am strangely attracted to her use of colours, which is scary!  You know how I seem to like dark, strong and moody colours, well hers are fresh and vibrant and summery and I, yes me, am going to have a go at using similar colours too, not just because it will be easier to choose but to try and change a habit of a lifetime!   I also need some handwork for the evenings and take-outs.

Also a quick note that the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch is at the end of this month too.  In the wind we have at the moment the garden is virtually empty.

Now to find something for dinner, slimming of course!  Have a good weekend.


Monday, 10 January 2011

SAHR 6 & 7

Though I sent the photos on to Kate to post on the blog for me, I forgot to blog about them here!!  (Thanks Kate).

SAH Robin month 6.

SAH Robin month 7.

It is totally silk.  Why break a habit! They all had stabiliser on the back though, the green and purple silk velvet is more fluid than the up-cycled grey and burgundy silk.  The inch squares already had the stabiliser on them from the project they were originally made for and the seems helped there too. It certainly has a diagonal movement to it and I think the two colours top left bottom right are weighted right.  I just hope the embellishing part will help me integrate the different fabrics a little!!   I think it's growing on me.


Sunday, 9 January 2011

Déjà vu?

Some of you may remember the saga of the Greater Spotted Woodpeckers last year. Yesterday I looked up from the work I was finishing for my City and Guilds and saw these two frolicking about in the Ash tree.  Male on the right with the red nape.  I only had the small camera and it is taken through double glazed windows, always a challenge.

When I went upstairs later  I glanced out of the window and saw this chap.  Was he watching me???  (Better camera but much further away in the Hawthorn halfway up the back garden.)

I thought he would fly having seen me so I was pleased to have any photo at all.  But if this is the same male we have had for the past three years, I'm surprised he didn't ask to come in!  (There are previous posts on the visits to the garage from a male Sparrow-hawk). 

But he was not fussed and returned to surveying the garden.   It seemed strange that one of the items for my C&G was a woodpecker feather I picked off the lawn after the Sparrowhawk had finished having breakfast last year.

This morning I did a little work on the beading I am working on in Lisa's course.  Very relaxing, my brain is now quite chilled out but I know it will start churning over again soon!! 

I think I might do some slow roast lamb today, a good shove it in and forget about it meal.  Have a good Sunday!


Thursday, 6 January 2011

On an Even Keel

I know last night was 12th night and all the decorations are to come down but we are keeping some of ours up for a little while longer.  There is method in our madness and all will be revealed in time so please forgive us for a bit, we’re not the sad type who leaves them up because there is only 353 days left!!!

I have managed to tackle the room where all my ‘stuff’ is.  Finally all the Christmas ‘stuff’ is away and it has revealed all the other ‘stuff’ that was underway beneath it.  I have sorted through my cotton fabrics thanks to 5 x 33 litre Really Useful boxes (it’s not a vast collection of fabric, I’m quite strict with buying, but do I now buy more boxes or actually use some of the fabric...hmmm), replaced all the silks, velvets, tweeds and felts into their respective places, rewound rogue threads and put tools in their pots or drawers.  I feel much more in control.

Lisa’s online beading class started last night with some good videos, I’m looking forward to seeing where this little journey takes me.  I have only one quilt top left to quilt on the Avante and then it will be idle for a while.  I know some of my ladies have been enquiring about it; perhaps I should bite the bullet and do some just to keep my hand in. All the larger show dates are in the diary and I’m just searching around for the smaller ones to add.  We might actually visit a few too!

My back has been on and off over the past couple of days but I’m hoping I’m winning and the diet has lost me 4lb since the start of the year. (Just T – G in the evening Barbara!).  

We did take the dogs down to Studland beach the other day.  It was as grey as grey could be so I will leave you with a few photos, don't forget to click to enlarge.  Today I have promised a whole day of study!
Poole Harbour

Brent Geese

Only bath water is nasty.

Mother Nature's sculpture

Ever the opportunist

Isle of Wight Needles head on

Old Harry Rocks

Corfe Castle

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Better Late Than Never

Our current family situation does not react well to rather loud knocks on the door at past 19.30 but that is what happened on both Wednesday and Thursday nights!  After the initial shock it turned out to be delivery men catching up with very late parcels!

Wednesday night's parcel was from Maison Sajou, France, with the embroidery thread selection box I had ordered.  I had first been pointed in the direction of all these lovely things by Jacky and now I have them in my possession, they're mine, mine I tell you!!

The embroidered tin, cards, thread winders, stitch pattern (so you can have a reference of all the colours of the threads) and catalogue all came as a bonus.  The catalogue is beautifully presented in both French and English with plenty of things you just don't find over here.

Thursday night had the delivery of these books which I had ordered about three weeks before Christmas.  Lots of design ideas, all from Dover Publications.

I have finished quilting the JB Baby Blocks using the Suzanne Early method for the long arm.  

Basically you stitch a very large meander right across the quilt top with no space smaller than a clenched fist.  You carry on down the entire quilt to secure all layers and then re load the quilt as a single layer.  It is then just a matter of going back along the meander filling in the spaces either side with your chosen motifs.  I chose a ribbon scroll, a scroll with a feather back and some leaves.  Just three things but they could all be sized to fill in the spaces easily along the meander.  It was great to do, I hope you can see some of the stitching in the photo.  This was taken after washing when the 80/20 wadding had scooched in a little, I just love that effect!

I also chose to do another all over pattern on White Nights only with loops and stars this time and not the double load method.  One of the rules Suzanne Michelle Hyland quilts by when choosing designs is that if the piecing is dark or dominant, don't knock yourself out with the quilting!  The all over designs for these two quilts works well and I'm pleased. 

And a lovely gift I received for Christmas from Chris was two balls of Rico's Can Can yarn.  It's like netting when you open it out and makes frilly scarves.  I've made these two already but I keep thinking of other ways to use the yarn so will be working on that at a later date.

My back is mending well, thank you to those who commented.  Too little exercise can be more detrimental than too much sometimes!  The boys are playing in the garage so I'm going to see what I can play with now.

A happy and healthy New Year to you all.