Saturday, 29 December 2012

2013 Targets!

A new year is about to begin and it's at this time of year that people make resolutions and massive "to do" lists appear on blogs.  I'm going to keep mine vague and simple with one exception, the first thing on my quilting to do list is:

  1. Finish David and Jessica's Wedding Quilt  (I have until April)

The other quilt-related to dos are:

  • Quilting, stitchery, dyeing etc based on my trip to Japan last year plus more indigo and natural dyeing
  • Visit the Festival of Quilts for the duration (four days) in August
  • Organise some good swap projects with the Global Piecers
I want to spend more time with the people I love.  I hope to have a least one little trip beyond these shores during the year.  I'd also like to spend more time in the garden and more time at the bach.

That's it!

Have a very happy New Year.  I hope that 2013 is peaceful, healthy and full of good things for us all.  It won't be but let's face it with optimism and positivity.  A friend posted the following on Facebook recently, I used to have it on a poster on my wall at college (didn't we all?) but haven't read it for ages, I think it's time for another airing:

Desiderata - Words for Life by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labours and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas with the Family

A photo heavy festive peek into our Christmas celebrations.  
It was wonderful to spend time with the people I love.  
Thank you Saz and Sam for being excellent hosts.
I hope you all had a lovely time at Christmas.
My very best wishes for a peaceful, healthy and happy 2013.
 David and Jessica with JC and Trumpy 
(in Father Christmas outfits) after Christmas Number 1
Al and me all blinged up
 Sam and Alan suited and booted and showing off their dance moves
 All the best parties have silly games!  
Christmas Eve and Jess is teaching us a game
 Playing "Coppit"
 Taking a match of "Pig Pong" far too seriously
Sara's festive fireplace.  We slept in this room, 
it was like being in the Victorian age with 
an open fire in our bedroom, so cosy
 Christmas Number 2.  Sam joined Nanny and Grandad in bed for stocking opening (I promised David and Jess that I wouldn't publish pictures of them but forgot to promise Saz, Sam or Al, tee hee)
 Happy Sara, thank you Mummy Father Christmas
 Sam waiting patiently to be allowed a chocolate coin
 My gorgeous pashmina, thank you Sazzie  Father Christmas
 Thumbs and fingers up for smoked salmon and scrambled egg for breakfast
 A case of the box being more interesting than the contents!
Sam working out how to control his new truck
Boxing Day - pyjama day in "Dear Zoo" jimjams

Monday, 24 December 2012

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Wedding Quilt Progress

 Merry Christmas wishes from the milkman this morning :-)
 I have now quilted the Celtic knot blocks (central and four corners) for the Wedding Quilt.
It's been ideal quilting weather, cold, frosty and foggy outside, a roaring fire inside.

Photo added Wednesday evening, 12th December, first round:

Sunday, 9 December 2012


I've just had a nice few days with my family in Essex, catching up with my sister, BiL and nieces and with my parents.  Daddy is doing very well after his operation in the summer, we have a lot to be thankful for.
While "down south" I had time to look in a few charity shops and found this little sake set for £1.99.
I don't think it's anything very special but it was made in Japan and is ceramic and I like it, the pieces have a nice feel to them, especially the finger dimples.  Maybe one of my lovely friends in Japan would translate the words on the cups and flask - I expect it says "Happy 21st Birthday" or some such thing :-)
I'm settling in for a cold week now, a beastly easterly is blowing - lots of quilting to do.

Friday, 30 November 2012

My Day

DH got up while it was still dark this morning and went for a day out at Duxford to look at aeroplanes. I wasn't even slightly tempted.  This was my day.

Put on glittery festive wellies and get set to go out into the cold, cruel day 
(although the sun was shining beautifully in the 1C frost)
Cut various branches, red dogwood, yellow twisted willow, 
lots of colours and textures
Put on a suitably festive CD
"Weave" (I use the word loosely in deference to Jean, Bryan and others) 
my harvest of branches through the stair rails
Add fairy lights
Add angels, gold ribbon and lametta

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Christmas Traditions

My international group of quilting friends, the Global Piecers, are currently discussing Christmas traditions in their various families and countries.

As Advent begins, I thought I would share some of the things that Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without for me.  The Advent calendar and Advent candle is one of course, counting down to Christmas Day.

I love getting all the decorations out and remembering where they came from, when DS or DD made them, or remembering DH's mum or thinking of my parents when we hang decorations that were theirs.  I love this so much that I don't understand how people can get everything new each year, maybe in a completely different colour scheme but I think that a lot of people do (judging by the trollies full of glitter and bling in the shops).  We do buy one decoration each year, always an angel and often from a different country or a new place in England that we visit.  Al brought an angel home from NZ with him last month, a beautiful glass one.
I then hang all the angels together on branches of willow and dogwood that I "weave" through the stair rail.  I add small lights and the whole thing has been christened "Lothlorien" (from LOTR) by the children.

There are food traditions too.  I suppose our longest standing tradition was started by my parents many years ago and continued by my sister and I and now by our children.  We always have a Christmas breakfast of smoked salmon with lemon, scrambled eggs and brown bread and butter, with orange juice, champagne or a mixture of the two according to preference.

One year when my sister and I were still at home my mother decided to have a buffet rather than a cooked meal on Christmas Eve and she lit the house with candles.  It was magical and really heightened the anticipation and wonder of Christmas Eve.  This hasn't become an event that happens every year but sometimes, when enough of us are together, we will have a Christmas Eve Candlelit Buffet.  This year will be one of those years and I'm excited about it already.

I love thinking of us all around the world, thank you so much Teresa for starting this thread on our Global Piecers' group site.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Christmas Wrappings

This is my charity shop haul to date of scarves for wrapping Christmas presents.
I love the Japanese custom of furoshiki, using cloths rather than paper to wrap gifts.  My only problem is getting the cloths back!  I shall need to add a "scarf not included" to the name labels.  These scarves need a wash and press and then I shall look forward to a festive pile of fabric-wrapped gifts under the tree.
These berries are looking striking on this damp, misty morning where the temperature has dragged itself up to 2C so far.  I liberated some seed of this Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' from the garden at DS's college and so it's a pretty special plant.  It's common name is Beauty Berry.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Wedding Quilt and a Charity Shop Delight

Yesterday I went to my quilt group, Country Roads Quilters.  We were in a new, larger venue and we discussed having an open day as we can now welcome some additional members.  We're going to hold the open day on 15th January 2013.
I managed to get some stitching done too and can show you the central Lovers' Knot panel for the quilt I am making for DS and DDiL2B.
The next step will be to layer this block and quilt it.  I am going to use the 'quilt as you go' way of quilting as the sections will be different from each other and require differing treatments.  This one I am going to shadow quilt, I haven't decided on pink or cream thread, what do you think?

I wanted to share my little charity shop purchase with you today, I am so pleased with it.  This lovely pressed glass covered butter dish was exactly what I was looking for.
Today is wet and dull but I don't mind as I am sitting in DD's house waiting for my scrumptious Sam to come home from school.  Saz has gone to Tunisia for a well needed bargain break in the sun (hopefully) and Al and I are on grandparent duty and loving every minute.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Autumn Sunshine

DH and I are just home from a lovely walk along the canal in Horncastle and then roast lunch in our favourite local cafe.  It's still frosty in places and still only 4C but the sunshine is glorious, I love days like this.  Now DH is lighting the fire and I'm going to do some work on the wedding quilt - the central panel, an update will follow in a few days.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Fishing Nets

Well done you clever people, my mystery purchase was a braiding needle for making fishing nets.  The lovely stallholder at the antique fair told me how she used to earn 6d pocket money by threading them up with sisal ready for her mother to make nets in Grimsby.  Everyone would mark their needles with their name or initials so that they kept their own.  The father of the stallholder (I should have asked her name) used to make the needles, and the cut out at the pointy end became clothes pegs - no waste in those days.  These days nets are made by machine but I have found a few images and websites for more information and, if you are in the area, the Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre has a display of netmaking.

I also found the words of a song about the girls who made the nets, it's called Braid Away Dolly and was written by Pete Addison.

Now it's up in the morn to the braidin' I'll go
To the cold salt and tannin down old Fish Dock Road
Where the work it is hard and the pay's not so hot
It's thirty-nine shillings, is all that you've got?

     With your needles a-clicking, a-swaying and rockin'
     Braid away Dolly, as firmly you're lockin'
     Braid away Dolly and sing us this song
     As the miles of manila are twined into one.

Now you've got to be fast and your stitches all tight
'Cause Laura she's watchin' to make sure it's right
There's Joe Littles and Shooters and Bellytops too
And Wings that are creasin' way out of view.

Now it's fill up your needles and make 'em a double
It's cod ends we're stitchin' and they're naught but trouble
Fill up your needles, it's six pence a ball
And Elsie's a-callin', she's fastest of all.

Well we've stitched you a net and we've braided it right
And it's ready for trawlin' beyond the Spurn Light
It's out on the Dogger and the cruel North Sea
A-catchin' the fish that you bring home to me. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Quiz Item

It's been a while since I've posted and today I have a little quiz for you.  I've been to a local antique and collectables fair and come home with two little purchases.  The first is self explanatory:
and a bargain at 50p.
The other is rather interesting and the stallholder was able to tell me all about it but what do you think it is?  It's about nine inches long and an inch wide if that helps:
Hoping you're having a relaxing Sunday and spared a few moments to remember the fallen this morning.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

French Toast Envy

This is a photo I received from my beloved this morning.  Not only is he having a great time in New Zealand (he's in Napier at the moment) but he's eating French Toast!!!  Mind you, he'll need to be building up his strength for all the tasks I've been saving up for him while he's been away :-)

Monday, 22 October 2012

Article Written - Tick

Phew.  I have finally completed an article for The Quilter magazine following my trip to Japan (one of the conditions of receiving the bursary from the Quilters' Guild).  It was so difficult to sum up the Japanese Textile Study Tour into a few words and pictures but still get across the wonderful experience that it was.  I hope I have managed it.  Of course I can't copy the article here but I will let you know when/if it is to be published.  I titled it "Studying at The Bext Exotic Indigo Hotel", I wonder whether QGBI will use my title.  I did enjoy revisiting the Tour and now I am going to create a photo album for myself.  It's wonderful to have hundreds of photographs on my computer or in a cloud or whatever but I don't think you can beat having an album of printed pictures that can be enjoyed easily and without electricity and cables!
Here's a picture that I haven't shared before.  It's from the Amuse Museum in Asakusa and shows tattsuke, underwear for women that covers the legs.  The tattsuke is made of layers of old cotton textiles and then embroidered with sashiko stitches in a design only recorded in the Nanbu district of the Aomori prefecture in Japan.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Spurn Point Book

I'm sure you will remember me posting about Alice Fox and her time as artist in residence at the light house at Spurn Point. 
Alice has published an 80-page book based on her time at Spurn.  "Textures of Spurn" is full of thoughts and observations (and not in an arty farty way, I'm sure you know what I mean), and wonderful photographs of Spurn Point and Alice's work.  My copy arrived yesterday and I've read it from cover to cover and will now read it again, more slowly this time and I can't wait to get to the beach and try out some experiments with cloth.  Alice has copies of the book available on Etsy so I told her I would share the link:

I would highly recommend Alice's book to anyone interested in textiles and especially in natural dyeing and experimentation.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

More Celtic Knots

Today it is pouring with rain and a chilly 5C, but not as bad as in Australia where they are experiencing heavy snow fall :-( 
I have just had a lovely lunch with DSil, DDil and DGS Wills and am now preparing more Celtic knots ready for lots of hand sewing at Country Roads Quilters on Tuesday.  These will be corner blocks for David and Jessica's quilt.  This time I used ready made bias tape.
I ironed the tape onto a silicon sheet first, then peeled it off and transferred it to the fabric, clever eh?
All my unders and overs are correct this time but I will need to ease some of those tight curves as I stitch the tape down.  Off to find a matching reel of Aurifil!

A little "feel good" story that I forgot to post about a few weeks ago:

I was in the LQS with DD and DGS Sam and there were a couple of teenage boys there, trailing around with grandparents (it was the school holiday).  Saz overheard the conversation that went like this:

Boy 1: Oh it's a quilting shop, I've got one of those.
Boy 2: Unintelligible grunt.
Boy 1: Mum made it for me, there's love in every stitch.

Aww, bless him :-)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Making Bias Tape

I've had great fun today making bias tape with a little quilting gadget that really works.  I've got the Fusible Bias Tape Maker from Clover, it folds the tape and lines up the fusible tape and I just had to iron it as I pulled it out of the little maker thingy.  Very impressive.
I then set out the tape into the Celtic Lovers' Knot that will be in the central medallion of the quilt I am making for David and Jessica.  It will need a little checking before I iron and then stitch it down as some of my overs should be unders and vice versa.  I'm glad to have made a start on the wedding quilt and to know approximately where I'm going with it.
Today is a very chilly day, I have the fire burning and have been enjoying lots of lovely mugs of hot chocolate while I've been working, it's most definitely Autumn here in Lincolnshire.  Have a good weekend whatever you are doing :-)