Saturday, 23 February 2013

Weekly Woohoo

It's getting icy cold around these parts. A seriously silly cold that makes our teeth chatter whenever we're brave enough to go outside. This week I thought a bit of pretend spring and summer was needed so I dotted a few primulas about and plonked pink roses in a vase.



We've had a lovely week taking it easy, having time away from routine and rush. In the middle of the week we went to see a lovely exhibition at the castle with exhibits from the V & A about magic and children's literature. We also had a look at some landscapes as Miss Rosey needs to learn how to paint clouds for her art project at school

Afterwards I'd booked us into a family creative writing workshop run by lecturers from the University. As the UEA has a renowned MA in Creative Writing I thought it might be good. First sight of the Phd student wearing a t-shirt which shouted Trust me I'm a Jedi and I did a huge inward groan. The lecturer, who specialised in children's literature, claimed that adults don't appreciate the pictures in children's books. Well I had something to say about that one. She pronounced me unusual for enjoying the pictures as much as the story. We had a bit of a debate on that one too. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous. The whole thing was pretty uninspiring, the Bun's joined in and seemed to enjoy it, I ate a lot of mints and looked at my watch.


Another important thing we had to do this week was go and rescue a wee bear we'd seen in a charity shop. No pictures as he's snuggled away in Miss Rosey's bed. While we were there I found a leafy glass and three pretty fruit bowls hidden at the back of the shop. Just the right size for tinned peaches and cream.


Apart from that it's been a lazy kind of old week which we needed. All the same I made sure I spent most of Monday finishing off the Spring Windmills quilt. I've really got into this quilt making malarkey and am already itching to make up the other two that are playing about in my head. Mr Bun asked me in a mock sad voice to not make anymore for a bit. Quilting means I'm tucked away at the table ignoring everyone in my obsession. Knitting and crochet mean I can be a bit more sociable.


I opted for handtying the middle of the windmills with yellow floss and stitched in the ditch along both sides of the squares.


I backed this one with a cream and pink striped Witney blanket. I love the warmth and weight, but also how much easier it is to work with two layers instead of three. I now need to search out a few more blankets as I've only got three left to quilt with. That's if I let this obsession run away with me.


For binding I'm pretty much always drawn to spots. Nothing else seems to look right to me. Handstitching the binding onto the back of the quilt is my favourite part. I get to snuggle under the quilt and just switch off as I race along each of the edges with my needle. Then all of a sudden it's finished and my silly brain is wandering off to dream of new shapes and colours.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Lesser Plaited Snood

I've wanted a snood, cowl or neck warmy tube thing for a while now. When I saw a plaited snood in Inside Crochet I knew I'd found just the design to get me whipping one up. 

All I had to do was work three strips up on a chunky 10mm hook. Once they were all finished it was down to the first hard part of pinning, plaiting and then sewing all the strips together in a random way.

The next hard part was trying to take a picture of me wearing the golden neck tube.


Each time my finger clicked down on my camera two little deevils popped up on my shoulders.


So please forgive the up the nostril shot. This is the only picture where you can actually see what I'm trying to show you.  

I'm also trying to get my head around my new do. I love having a falling forward 60's bob most of all. When I idly asked my hairdresser for a slight change it became what we've renamed the mushroom head. Having a long neck and short hair balanced on the top makes having a plaited snood to fill in the gap inbetween more of a necessity.  I also adore the golden yellow shade of that yarn*.


* Rowan Big Wool if you're wondering what it is.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Slowing to a Lovely Stop

Here we are skidding into a lovely fat big stop for half-term. A proper meant to be off work and school week to enjoy at long last. I'm juggling in my head which days I should try and deal with the house falling to bits problems, which days to go out and have fun and which days I'll try and get stuff made for the fairs I've booked into.

I want to finish off the Spring Windmills Quilt tommorow before I'll be able to think about anything else mind you. Every spare minute I've chopped up squares and turned them into more triangles. I've been loving making this one in a pretty addicted kind of way. Miss Rosey is going to have this quilt. She fell in love with it so how could I say no.


The Bun's arranged all the blocks. They took their job really seriously and spent a long old time making sure everything was balanced out. All I had to do was number the rows and start stitching them together. We decided to use another blanket as a backing so I can just get on with it. I've a few old blankets kicking around in cupboards, but not loads of wadding so that seems a good plan.


I was going to hand quilt this one, but I'm feeling too impatient. I will get back to hand quilting on the next one though as I love sewing with all the different coloured threads and the softer effect it makes.


Either side of finishing up the quilt top we managed to get out of the house all together for a day of fun. Two weekends of poorliness have kept us all in so it was a joy to be doing something different.

We headed to the workhouse farm where we were promised behind the scenes tours. None of these seemed to be happening, but we had a lovely mooch about pretty much having the place to ourselves.


Our favourite place to be was down on the farm where two boys were desperate for attention. The Billy Goat bleated and bleated until we came to give him scratches and strokes.


Then there was the most handsome ram I've ever seen. He was very hard to walk away from as he kept running after us for more loving and chats. Little Bun said can you see why I want my own flock, they're the best animals ever.


After the farm we had another poke about in the museum and I found two framed collages I'd not seen before.


I really like the effect of scraps of personal history all carefully laid out and then framed. Something to try one day with my family memories.


With farms and contentment in mind we curled up to watch Cold Comfort Farm when we got back. I even managed to finish making the three strips for the plaited snood I'm making while we watched the Starkadder clan sort their lives out. I'll show you how that's turned out next time. 

Here's to a lovely week off from the madness of rushing here and there.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Dis' and 'dat

Somebody flicked my energy switch back on today and about time too I say. That was one seriously nasty bout of flu. My poor Mr ended up with acute bronchitis which he's slowly fighting off. He was so very very poorly. 

 

He has asthma so flu often ends up as pneumonia or bronchitis. He blames Holiday on Ice completely for this situation. After seeing it in Brighton when he was nine his family stood for ages in the snow and chill wind waiting for the bus home. They missed it because the show overan and then he ended up with a poorly weak chest. He cheered himself this weekend reading Geoge Orwell's biography (who he greatly admires). Orwell went from bronchitis to pneumonia and then died of TB at 46 one year older than my man.


This weekend we opted for small pleasures while we got fighting fit again. It was an all round cosy weekend apart from the manic dash on Saturday to Little Bun's extra dance class. She's been picked as part of a group to dance at a show with Pasha and Katya from Strictly so she's beyond excited. All that and hearing on Friday she's passed her 11+ left her "dazed" (her words).

Sunday was a day of comforting bliss. I found the film of Ballet Shoes (Noel Streatfield replaced Enid Blyton in my affections as I grew up) and we wallowed in the daydreams of the past while eating cake snuggled by the fire. Later the Bun's had a good time organising the blocks of my Spring Windmill quilt into some sort of order they were happy with. They've got a good eye and I'm going with their choices. Not long off stitching the blocks together and then I'll be quilting it all together, I can't wait to see how this one will look.


Today two Bun's headed off to school, not just one. I delivered my man safely to work so he wouldn't shatte all over the pavement and then I headed off to explore the delights of yarn and fabric. New colour ways and trims to tempt future crafty project ideas.


Rowan's Big Wool has come up with a few fresh new shades. In fact there were quite a few new yarns to excite me with future possibilities. I bought the Big Wool to cheer me up when I found out that Amy Butler's Belle Organic range has been discontinued. I'm making my Bubblegum Blanket in this and I'm only half-way through so this isn't great news. I'm hopeful I'll track some down from somewhere.


I'm going to try and hook up a cowl with the gold as I've not enjoyed working with the blue Sirdar Big Softie. The pink is for a small scarf from 30 Minute Knits knitted on 12mm broomhandles which I've not tried before.
 

The other thing I'd not tried before was fairisle. Well I finished the hat last week, it just needs a bobble and we're done. I've learnt a couple of things from making this - 1: watch how tightly I pull the threads at the back, 2: remember if I use DK yarn and go up a needle size to compensate the hat just won't grow into a flat beret shape. Not the hat I started out to make for Little Bun, but she loves it in all its hugeness so what do I know really.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

P is for Poorly

I'm getting thoroughly sick of sickness. Miss Rosey is still off school, my body caved in to the fluey thing on Monday night and now my Mr is suffering too. Little Bun is the only one back out there as a well girlie. I stumbled throuh a days work on Tuesday and was pretty useless so I took yesterday and today off. I thought a day on the sofa doing nothing would be the perfect get well tonic. Instead the electricity left our house so I had to spend half the day trying to get it back again. Today I'm floppier than before and can't even get inspired to knit or crochet which is most odd for me. I do have a windmill quilt which I'm getting itchy to get back to mind you.


On Monday I had a fiddle around with some of the triangle squares I'd made up. Before I absolutely decided on the pattern I was going for I fancied trying out a few options.


After trying out three different patterns it was still the windmills that stood out the most to me. They combine the other two patterns, but in a more mixed up hotchpotch way.


I've stitched up more than half of the 56 blocks I'll need. Without the new way of making up triangles there's no way I'd be whizzing through this so quickly. 


I pictured a fresh spring floral quilt and the fabrics I've chosen perfectly capture what I have in my head.


These two are standing out as my favourites so far. I have a feeling that I'm going to really enjoy looking at this one when it's done. 

As you've all told me, you can never have too many quilts. This past week I've found out we need quite a stack in readiness for ill days. That cosy splash of colour is just right for cuddling a poorly one.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Windmills and Things

What a week.  No school for Little Bun as her school flooded.  The snow melted and the ditch at the back burst through. On Monday I'd agreed to take Mr Bun's classes so he could do a presentation to Headteachers. With a 7am phone call to say no school I had Little Bun running around cheering and I was frantically thinking what to do. Torn between a promise and wanting to look after my girlie on what was really my day off work. Grandma came to the rescue and took her to work with her. An office with my mum and her mate was much better than learning a range of new shiny words from 16-18 year olds. We juggled and changed plans until Thursday when the older children could go back into their mobile class in the playground. Little Bun found it really sad seeing her school wrecked.

Feeling exhausted and with lots of plans for making things in mind I was thrilled to see Friday on the horizon. A day off all to myself, not having to talk to anyone - yay. Not so though as two girlies went to bed poorly on Thursday night and woke with burning temperatures on Friday morning.


Plan one had been to see if I had enough of this delicious 1940's French fabric to make a summer tea dress from. I couldn't resist when I was having a look over at Donna's sumptious emporium. Plan two had been to make a few more shoppers to re-stock my etsy shop. Back-up plan became realise you can never ever make plans when you are a parent.

Other exciting Friday news that I can now share is that my man's project Blue Cat Initiative won the Big Society Award. It was released by No 10 yesterday with DC tweeting how much he likes the project. In fact he's so impressed that the press office at No 10 have been in touch to see if they can film the work that goes on. What better support can we ask for. Getting the accolades is fabulous, but the real point of it all is to ensure Blue Cat gets known for being a learning provider of excellence. Then getting the funding to help more disadvantaged teens and adults will be made easier.


Back to the sickness of the day. As much as I hate seeing my girls poorly I'm no nurse. I feed, give medicine, make sofa beds, say oh poor you and wipe the odd brow, but after that I'm done. I'm not a fusser. I took off to have a look at the new library books and start cutting a few squares for the Springtime Florals quilt I want to make. I reckoned this would be more do-able as every few minutes I got a "mummy, I want you" shout and had to keep dropping what I was doing.


This morning I got chopping. I've been braving the world of the rotary cutter which I'm slowly getting to grips with. Last week I hacked the end of my finger with it so I was in a mood with the darned thing for a while. I want to get more adventurous with my quilting patterns so I thought I'd try moving into the world of triangles. A rotary cutter would make this all a lot quicker. 

With triangles there's just so many patterns to choose from. Could be too many choices, but I'm feeling most drawn to the windmill shape, especially the pink red and white one.


Now making the triangles is the bit I've been itching to try out. I thought I'd better share it with you in case you don't know about this technique. In a nutshell it's a stitching and cutting method that saves you making lots of triangles and then trying to stitch them together. All you have to do is cut out squares. Actually there are two ways of doing this. The first one I got from a book and the second one from a friend of mine.


I cut 13cm squares, which with a rotary cutter had straight sides for the first time ever - hooray. To make two large matching triangles you need to lay the squares right sides together. Then simply mark a line from corner to corner.


Stitch down both sides 5mm from the line, don't cut the thread just lift the foot and turn to stitch from one side to the other. Once stitched cut along the line to make two sets of triangle shaped squares.


These are them before pressing and trimming. I made an extra square up so I could see what a windmill pattern would look like. All I need to do is sew the squares together which will be so much easier than the flags I made last time.

The other way of doing this and getting four triangle shapes is super easy too. First lay your squares right sides together again and then stitch all the way around the edges.


With your rotary cutter (I'm getting quite brave about using this thing now) cut across the square from corner to corner both ways to make four triangles.


Open them out and there you have more triangles made in super quick time. I really like this way of doing things. There'll definately be a few windmills being made this weekend.