Saturday, 24 August 2013

Count Down

Hello Everyone, this post should have been all about my preparations for going to Towersey Folk Festival with the Ouse Washes Molly Dancers. At the last moment I discovered it was to last a day longer than I had thought, throwing out our plans to set off to Wales very early on Tuesday morning. Also one or two small but pressing problems with my mum's care arose. So I made the decision to pull out and use the weekend to get things sorted.

I'm really sorry to be missing what I know will be a fun-packed week-end, already the face-book photos and comments are being posted, but as I'm typing this I know I made the right decision; a few more things have now come to light which needed dealing with - not great problems, but they are things I might have overlooked had I been away by yesterday evening. It also means we can leave a day earlier. A huge weight has dropped off my shoulders, I hadn't realised how stressed I'd been getting trying to organise not just myself for Towersey, us for Wales, and my mum for the week. Thank goodness for a good friend, a good neighbour and a lovely son and his partner - all stepping in so we can get away. The header photo is our caravan site. Can't wait to get there!

So here are a few of the things I've been getting organised for our get-away.

The first involves a packet of "cooking bacon" from Sainsburys, some veg, and a pack of oven roasting bags. These bacon packs have become a bit of an on-going thread between a few of we Norfolk bloggers, notably Dc, and Pam, who gives a link to an excellent recipe for bacon casserole. Pam's idea of making up the uncooked mix, bagging it and freezing to take with her to their caravan - also in Wales, prompted me to do the same. One pack cost me £1 10p (they've gone up 10p since we all started buying them!) A couple each of carrot and parsnip, 8 small new potatoes, an onion, 2 sticks celery, some button mushrooms, some garlic and some herbs. Oh and some courgettes from the garden. Chop all ingredients to chunks. Season, pop into roasting foil bags, and into the freezer. I'll pack one in the cool-box just as we set off to Wales on Monday, so it will defrost slowly and be ready to stick in the oven when we want it for supper.

The second is something to keep me out of mischief while Jim is fishing, or in the evenings; some wool/felt stitching on the cushion cover, the panel, and a couple of pin-cushions. Also hexagon papers and fabric to make them up. I've done a few, you can see their size relative to the embroidery thread.

I'll also be taking these -  been itching to read them but have resisted!

Not sure I will find any wifi where we re, so unlikely to be blogging, face-booking or answering emails. However I will use my lap-top for watching DVDs and playing cds, checking my iPhoto stash and uploading the tons of photos I will be taking.

And of course this! (Don't worry, I shall find a remote corner of a field, not to inflict my music on fellow campers/caravaners!)

So whatever you are doing this coming week - and I know a lot of my friends are at various festivals over the week-end - I hope we all get a look-in with some great weather and fun. Catch up with you when we get back.

Monday, 19 August 2013


Hello, all, sorry I've been a while getting round to posting but I've been quite busy on the domestic front, and have been waiting for an email from a quilter/blogger in Australia-  more of this later.

Above you can see a photo of a quilt block and border strip which I have been working on/thinking about for ....erm....a couple of years now! Admittedly I have completed other projects along the way, but this has been hanging about for an embarrassingly long time. Mainly because I've had  a blank spot about how I'm going to continue with it. I know I'm going to surround each appliqued block (pattern from an old book by Jan Patek) with strips of squares - how many rows I haven't yet decided. But what next?

 The solution came from Blogland, as so many good ideas frequently do. There are two Australian blogs I've been reading for quite some time now, which I'm sure you'll enjoy. The first by Elizabeth of Broderie and the second is by her friend Jean, of Linen and Raspberry -check them out, you'll love their style. These two friends have been involved, with others, in quilting workshops with an eminent Australian quilter/tutor, called Margaret Sampson George, who I first heard about years ago when I saw her work in an Australian quilting magazine. I was instantly hooked by her fabric choices, and her use of naive style appliqué.

These small quilts were inspired by Margaret's quilts - her use of naive baskets, her border treatments and layout.

I designed my own baskets, or copied as well I could (you know my standard of drawing!) from pictures of antique naive quilts. These I machine appliqued at the time, and I wish I had stitched by hand, now, but I am still very fond of these little quilts.

It was also when I began stipple quilting by hand, to give that lovely antique look.

 So a big thank you to Margaret - and she is still inspiring quilters with her unique approach and great designs. She herself has been inspired by some old English medalion quilts - what goes around comes around! Elizabeth and Jean are currently working on quilts taught in Margaret's workshops, and have given me permission to reproduce their photographs here. The first photographs are demonstrably from Elizabeth's blog, though not all are of her own quilt top.

I was stunned to see that almost all the appliqued motifs are composed of hexagons, which are then appliqued to the background fabric - hence the ongoing work is referred to as The Sheet! I love it!

The hexagons are built up into differently shaped larger motifs, arranged on the ground fabric and stitched down. A lot of hand-work involved, but I am getting further and further away from enjoying machine work these days, which is why this method really appeals. It isn't fast, but the leisureliness of cutting and hand stitching each hexagon really appeals.

I love the fabric choices, and some very clever 'fussy cutting' going on here. (Fussy cutting is where you select a particular area of the fabric because the design on each hexagon contributes to an over-all effect. It's not an efficient use of fabric, but it does give great design opportunities.)

Never seen hexagons used so beautifully! See how differently the hexagons can be arranged.

 The following eight photographs are from Jean's blog; they are not all of her own quilt top.

 I love the way the old "Granny's flower Garden" lay-out has been transformed by adding units in different ways. So there we have it - my decision is made. Once I  have surrounded each of my applique blocks with the squares, I shall cut out my border strips and then spend some peaceful hours making my hexagons, designing the motifs and deciding how to place them on the background. This quilt isn't going to be finished any time soon - but that's ok, I'm into 'Slow Cloth' anyway - but I'm going to enjoy every step of the way. Thanks Elizabeth and Jean, you have cured my 'Quilter's Block"!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Glad that I live am I

This, some of you may remember, is a little fabric book I made years ago, using my own hand-dyed fabrics, and ink-jet printing on fabric. It contains the words of a childhood hymn, written by Lizette W. Reese (1856 -1935) I always thought it came from St Francis of Assisi but that's not correct. The words of this hymn came spontaneously to mind the other morning, for no particular reason. It made me think of all the words we use for 'gladness' - gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation ....perhaps you can come up with some more. This led me on to think about other Bloggers who periodically include in their posts a short list of 'things to be grateful for'.  I think it's a salutary practise to acknowledge the things in life that we appreciate, on a regular basis. So that is what this post is about. Of course, the 'givens' are family and friends, reasonably good health and a comfortable standard of living, but other events and material things come along for which I may not regularly express my gratitude. So here goes.

First up is this lovely little collection:

Ceramic buttons! Made by clever Cathy Daniels at Potter Jotter blog. They arrived the day I got back from Burwell, and they are Sooooooo gorgeous. Look at the detail on the two below -

The foot, I think, was a little joke recalling the operation I had last year - Cathy you should have put a bandage on it! They are fab, and I am really grateful for them and for your kindness, Cathy!

Ooops, slightly out of order...but you know how it goes. Other things I am grateful for can be found in the garden .........

The hollyhocks are popping up all over the place, beautiful colours. And on the veggie side, though it has been  poorer than usual crop-wise, we have had some brilliant courgettes - and I know others have noticed the same in their gardens too. This is just one small patch, there are more in the greenhouse and more in the main veggie-patch.

And a major thing I am appreciating at the moment, is our new little caravan being at its new home in Wales. Look at the site, isn't it wonderful? Jim said the scenery is breathtaking.

            Here we are, at a temporary spot, we'll be moving to another plot in a week or two.

                                           Loving the greenery and the spaciousness of it all.

    And how's that for a view each morning? Whichever way you turn there are mountains and trees.

And this is the reception centre on the side of the farmhouse. I'm really looking forward to going across and spending a few days there. Who'd have thought - me in a caravan!

And I especially appreciate No. 1 Son, who towed the van most of the way to Wales and taught his dad how to do it safely. I know Jim was quite anxious about the thought of doing this on his own, but now he feels a lot more confident. Thanks Mike for taking the time to help the Old Man out and put your Ma's mind at rest!

So there you are. Perhaps I should add my thanks and gratitude to all my Burwell Bash friends who made the week so enjoyable. So many things to appreciate. And thank you for reading my blog!