Friday, 23 September 2016

Five on Friday - Plans and Preparations

It is Friday again so time for Five on Friday with Amy at Love Made my Home. I have a lot of different projects on the go at the moment, some are plans for the future and others have a deadline and need to be completed. It would be more sensible to complete the deadline projects before thinking about new projects but temptation beckons.

The deadline projects are for a craft and tea event for our local hospice.

Earlier this year a good friend was cared for in Willen Hospice in the final few weeks of her life. D was a very talented lady and together with other friends we used to meet every month for a morning of craft, stitch and cake. We had lots of fun experimenting with new techniques and learning new skills, taking it in turn to host the group. It was D who encouraged me to think about selling some of the items I created and we did several craft fairs together. We called ourselves "In Stitches" not just because most of our items were stitched but mainly because we were generally "in stitches" laughing.

Examples of D's beautiful work.
Our craft group miss D terribly and we had talked about using our craft skills to raise money for Willen Hospice in her memory. It is something we know she would have done herself. D's daughter found a number of D's creations whilst sorting out her craft shed and so a plan was hatched.  Willen Hospice hold regular fund raising events throughout the year in order to support all it's amazing work. They need to raise around £3.6 million every year from the local community. It is Tea Party week during the first week of October so we are holding a Time for Tea Crafty Event. 

1. Lino cut panels

The craft group met last Friday and we went through a box of D's crafty odds and ends. In it we found a bag of her lino cut panels which we are going to use to print some cards.
A project for next week.

2. Brooches

There were  two brooches in a design D regularly made, one complete, the other half made. I stitched the unfinished brooch together yesterday. It felt a little odd working on something she had started, but strangely comforting at the same time.

3. Hair Clips

Also in the box was a pack of colourful hair clips which we divided between us.

A member of our group has made pretty felt flowers to attach to her clips. I am  crocheting flowers to decorate mine.

4. More Shirley's

The first flock of Shirley's were sold in aid of MacMillan Nurses and can be found here. They proved to be popular with several further requests from friends and family so a second flock are in development. 

They are having fun in the garden here and competing as to who has the best hat.
(Pattern from Lucy at Attic 24)

All these projects need to be finished before I can start this one:

5. Napkins

I made some new place mats earlier in the year from fabric left over from another project. They have not been used yet although I am not sure why as they are not being saved for "best" as my Grandma used to say. While out shopping for bedlinen earlier in the week I found this pack of 4 cotton napkins for £4, which seemed to be a bargain. They are completely plain so perfect for embellishment. I am planning to embroider a simple pear motif  onto them to match the place mats.

But not just yet. There are other more pressing projects to be completed first!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Life's Roller Coaster

Do you ever feel that life is a bit of a roller coaster? That has definitely been my experience this week. Mind you the only real roller coaster I have ever been on was the Big Dipper in Blackpool.

Picture from  Blackpool Pleasure Beach
 I was 17 at the time and it was long before all the health and safety restrictions and seat restraints there are now. (I am giving my age away here!) The only restriction was that children were not allowed. We quickly discovered the restriction should have been based on size not age. I have always been quite petite and at 17 was only 5' 1" tall and barely weighed 7 stone (98lbs). As soon as the roller coaster set off, it was impossible for me to stay on the wooden bench seat and was almost flung into the wide blue yonder. The young man I was with at the time, was as frightened as I was and braced himself against the seat in front and clung onto my dress as I kept taking off. The dress tore as the skirt separated from the bodice but at least I was still in one piece at the end. 
Totally Terrified. 
Needless to say I have never been on a roller coaster since. 

Things have been pottering along pleasantly recently. Life's roller coaster has been making a steady, gentle ascent. I have got back into stitching again and been happily making project notebooks. There has been some interest in them and I have had a few orders. It is always pleasurable when others admire your work.  

At the end of last week I discovered someone had expressed an interest in purchasing my Capability Brown piece in the Stowe Exhibition, which was very exciting. It was not a "sale" exhibition, so the fact someone had contacted our Guild to inquire about it, was a big surprise and very encouraging. 

On Monday morning, when checking my emails there was a message from Etsy telling me two notebooks had sold. Not unusual as that's why the Etsy shop exists - to sell things! Why I found it so surprising was the buyer was in America. Someone was willing to pay the postage all the way to the USA for two of my notebooks. Thank you, thank you to that person for your custom and appreciation of my creations. I hope you will be pleased and happy with your notebooks when they are delivered. 

Okay, so you have probably guessed by now that we are at the top of the roller coaster and what comes next. A Rheumatology appointment at the hospital on Monday afternoon for the results of an MRI scan six weeks ago was straight forward. There was no compression in the spine as suspected, which I had guessed, because if there had been I would have been called in quickly for emergency surgery. 
So, good news - yes? 
Yes, very good news. 
However, the scan did reveal the current condition of my spine. In my head I knew there had been deterioration, but that was just speculation and easy to ignore.  Now I know the reality and it is oh so much harder to ignore. Nothing has changed, I am still the same today as I was on Monday morning when I was fizzing with positive energy. Only now the pain is more noticeable because it has been brought into focus at the front of my mind. The fear of needing more surgery and what the future holds is whispering in my ear.  Don't get me wrong, I am not unhappy or depressed, just *!*!!!*! angry that the condition I have lived with since I was a teenager is trying to push me over the top of the roller coaster and knock my confidence as it has in the past. The last couple of days have seen a bit of a dip but the route has to be back up, be creative, confident,  believe in myself ( and make more notebooks!) 

If you are still reading this, apologies for the rant and the introspection. 
Normal service will be resumed with Five on Friday.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Five on Friday - Couthie Shawl

 Friday seems to come round quicker every week but it is great to be joining up with Amy again at Love Made my Home for Five on Friday. It has been a busy week with lots going on and I was undecided what to share this week but have decided to keep it simple. So simple it is really one thing not five! 

This is cheating a bit but here are five photos of my Couthie Shawl.

This has been my summer pick up and put down project whenever I had a moment or when too tired to work on other things. The pattern is from Christine Perry (Winwick Mum) and can be found here. Christine wrote the wonderful book Super Socks and is responsible for me (and lots of others) learning to knit socks. Couthie is a Scottish word and I believe it means cosy and comfortable, which this shawl really is.

The yarn came from Truly Hooked and is hand dyed merino wool with nylon and ohhh sooo soft. It has been a delight to work with and I'm sure will be very cosy to wear. The splodges of delicate colour are repeated throughout the shawl.

The shawl is worked in bands of stocking stitch broken up with rows of drop stitch, which fall into lovely soft pleats as it gets longer. Along with the pattern Christine provides a handy chart of all the rows which you can mark off. A little daunting at the beginning when you see how far there is to go but exciting when you get near the end and most of the page has lines through it. 

The pattern advises blocking so that it will drape well. So being a bit of a rule follower (I would love to be a rebel, but do not think it is in my nature), I blocked the shawl carefully and here is is above. It is beautiful and the blocking does show off the pattern and the pretty yarn, but I couldn't help feeling a teeny tiny bit of disappointment that the pleats had gone.  

So I blocked it again, more loosely this time.

There are a few fold and pleats in the shawl now, making me happy. I was probably too vigorous with the first blocking. Christine's pattern is excellent and I will certainly make the Couthie shawl again. Maybe next time I will not block it at all, especially if I make it for myself. This one is a Birthday gift for a family member later in the year.

This extra photo has been sneaked in so you can see what it looks like on.

The shawl can be worn with the two long points down the front but I like it with the long points down the back as the centre point drapes so well across the front. 
(Particularly when you do not have much frontage like me!)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

JETS - September 2016

JETS (Junior Embroiderers' & Textile Students) group met for the first session of the new school term on Saturday. We had had a break over the summer except for being involved in the local children's activities week at our local centre, Medbourne Pavilion. It always surprises me how much the children grow over summer holiday. In just over six weeks they all seem to have gained several inches in height. It must be all that sun, fresh air and freedom to run  around.

All the children were quite tired after their first week back at school but enthusiastic to start stitching again. We were making name badges to help us (mainly the adult volunteers!) to remember their names. There was a choice of hedgehog, rabbit and flower, which increased in challenge with the flower needing the most cutting and embroidery.  

Shapes were cut out and names stitched on.

A backing was cut and stitched in place.

Careful over stitching around the edge.

Hedgehogs need stitched spines.

Lily has only been stitching for a short time and learned to do French Knots.

Charlotte decided to decorate her flower with tiny sequins.

The final task was to stitch a safety pin on the back 

Here are the completed badges.

Everyone managed to complete their badge in the two hour session. 
A great start to our new stitching term.
Please remember to bring your badges in October girls!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Five on Friday - End of Season Colour

Friday has come round quickly this week and here we are again joining with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday. It has been a busy week, mainly with the boring things like catching up with paper work and appointments. There have been fun tasks too like preparing for the Junior stitch group (JETS) which begins again tomorrow after a break during the summer. The volunteer helpers and I met last weekend to plan projects for the year and decide what resources we will need. It was a very productive meeting and we probably have enough ideas to keep us going well into 2018! 


This week has been very odd weather-wise. Monday to Wednesday were dull and cloudy but very hot and humid at the same time, most unpleasant. Yesterday morning we woke to sunshine and a much fresher feel so I headed outside in between fighting with the computer and printer. 
My Five this week is the end of season colour in the garden.

1. Begonias

The begonias are wonderful. They flower all summer long and then when all the other annuals are starting to fade they get even bigger and better. I generally choose mixed colours and do not have any colour scheme in mind. So the pots are filled with riot of bright happy blooms that make me smile as soon as I come out of the house.

2. Rudbeckia

We had a very dry August here and our clay soil became very parched. I water the pots and baskets but never water the garden so the plants can suffer during hot, dry weather. It would be too difficult to water the whole garden (even though it is not very big) so I try to only grow the plants that can survive this harsh treatment. The Rudbeckia has struggled this year and has not produced as many flowers as previously, but although smaller, it is healthy and will hopefully do better next year.  

3. Hydrangea

The weather has had an unusual effect on the hydrangeas too. The first flush of flowers in August faded quickly in the heat but since we have had some rain over the last two weeks a new crop of flowers has emerged. There are several Hydrangeas in the garden and they have all been affected the same way. They look rather odd (but strangely attractive) with a mixture of old and new blooms on them.

I love they way the petals fade and change colour. I like to collect some of the dried heads to create an Autumnal display indoors.

4. Sedum

The sedum flowers are still developing and are not fully out yet. The pink of the flower heads against the lime green of the leaves bring a lovely contrasting burst of colour. The bees and butterflies love the sedum and although there were no butterflies yesterday there were plenty of bees trying to work their way into the partially opened flowers.

5. Anemones

Anemones have to be my favourite plant at this time of year. No matter what the weather throws at them, wet summer, dry summer, wind, they always come up year after year and flower their socks off.

They look especially good with a blue sky background of course!

I always feel a little sad at this time of year as the summer fades because I dislike winter and the cold months. So end of season colour and days with bright blue skies would be very pleasant
......... if they could just keep going .......... least until the end of November please.