Sunday, 29 December 2013

Post-Christmas Post

Here we are, in that strange no-man's-land between Christmas Day and New Years Day. A time of clearing away, finishing off, sales fever, and reflection. I'm sure there will be many blog posts about New Year Resolutions, and reviews of Old Year, and I may or may not go down that route later on, but for now I'll just keep it low-key and local.

Above is a post-Christmas view of our little tree, sans the splendour of all the presents round the base. We don't do 'large and natural' these days, this pretty good artificial has done us proud for a good few years now, and the size s just right.

Christmas cards are, apart from the tree, the sum total of our decorations. Oh, and a wreath on the door.

Oooops! Did you spot the reel of elastic nestling between the cards here? Luckily it is not the knicker variety, I don't know how it found its way here!

The sunny view out of my sewing room window this morning, across the nursery field to where the cattle are chomping at hay bales. It is gorgeous here in West Norfolk, but very cold outside!

The garden in the sunshine looks a bit thread-bare this time of year. Jim spent yesterday afternoon hoovering up the fallen leaves. Well, most of them!

I've done a fair bit of embroidery on the quilt - sometimes in my sewing room listening to audio-books, sometimes in front of the television while we watched a bit of Miss Marple, or a video. Can't say the Christmas tv has been all that spectacular.

Finished the applique on this, ready for stitching  into a cushion cover. Need to find a cushion form!

And here is my ready-to-go box for bangle-making; it's handy to just grab the box and bring it into the living room in the evening.

So, are you tuckered out with turkey and trifle, or have you got rid of all the left overs? Planning your New Year Resolutions, or firmly forsaking the very idea? Back at work, or at least back in the old routine, or still enjoying a little peace and quiet before reality kicks back in? I'm pleased I've got back into the swing of blogging, and I shall now go and catch up with what you've been writing on yours. If I don't manage another post before next Thursday, Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Colour Schemes

Amidst the present buying /Christmas menu -planning / card writing /etc etc I am playing with wool and felt and threads and fabric. You have to have balance, after all!

I am taxing my brain at the moment selecting  colour schemes for my bangles. I originally came up with the ambitious idea of making them in seasonal shades. I thought I would give them cute names, thus:

Spring Blossoms, Summer Holiday, Autumn Woodland, Winter Solstice. I had a rough idea which colours would match each season - poor old Winter Solstice remains a tad boring being merely reds and greens, but there you are. Then I thought I needed to expand upon this because I made a bangle in greys to go with my "Fifty Shades" outfit (I do wear a lot of grey, 'tis true.) And I wear a lot of blue so I wanted bangles in blue shades.... so I combined them and came up with Blue Lakes and Rocky Shores (I bet all you Girl Guides are singing along now, aren't you?) Then my gaze fell upon a particularly scrumptious hand-dyed wool-felt  in purples/greens and I thought Heath and Moorland might be another nice colour way.

                                                                     Spring Blossoms

                                                                   Summer Holiday

                                                                    Autumn Woodland

                                                                        Winter Solstice

                                                       Blue Lakes and Rocky Shores

                                                                Heath and Moorland
Excuse the poor colour, the light is bad, I'm a poor photographer and my camera also is very selective when it comes to accurate shade depiction. Also, I need to say that of course I will dip into other colours which pop up which seem to belong in a particular scheme; only I had about reached my toleration limit for faffing about sorting these out for you!

Then I was reading the deliciously colourful eye-candy blog Attic 24 and was gripped by Lucy's latest crochet project in her signature saturated colours and knew I had to make a bangle to match. The best match I could come up with in my colours was Summer Holiday, where I can indulge in all my brights, but somehow it begged to be called Carnival when I had made it.

I can't tell you how satisfying this one was to make. The wool felt is gorgeous - from Jean at Oliver Twists, really soft and wonderful to stitch. The perle 5 thread is 'confetti' from Weeks Dye works, and is an overdyed fibre which just SHOUTS carnival to me!

I think now I have dug a hole for myself - perhaps I should abandon the idea of colour schemes and just make bangles as the fancy takes me. But then, I do like the idea of being able to just gather felts/threads in specific colours when I start to work without all the deliberation each time. It is helpful. And to be honest, I just like giving things names. I love playing with words. What do you think? And what, apart from festive concerns, has been taxing your mind at the moment? Have you any spare time or mental capacity for anything else? See you soon -ish!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Winter Warmth

A spot of pure loving warmth on a cold, grey day earlier this week. Mmmmm! One of those gorgeously indulgent special coffees made in Jim's machine and presented to me in one of my favourite mugs, with a colourful ceramic spoon to scoop up the froth!

I spent much of the day in the sewing room, stitching away with wool, and felt, and lovely threads. Over two days I completed these four bangles. I bought some wool felt at Harrogate last month. It's gorgeous. I bought it with bangles and pin-cushions and angels in mind. I wonder how many of you can identify with my feelings of reluctance to cut them up and start using them? I used to feel like this about special fabrics I had bought - perhaps I'll save them for making something REALLY special... only sometimes that REALLY special project didn't present itself. Hence despite all the quilts I have made over the years, I still have a considerable fabric stash of 'specials', despite not having bought any for some time. So now I find myself having to say aloud "Just use it up, Lynne. You can always buy more should you need it."

Stitch and Bitch yesterday. Cards and presents exchanged, mince-pies consumed, much laughter and some stitching. Yvonne bought me her bangles to photograph, and Victoria was wearing hers. Warmth abounded.

And this commissioned angel was handed over to her new owner, along with three more pincushions. Feeling very warm indeed! I hope there has been some Winter Warmth in your life this week.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Stitching down the Wind

Wow! What a storm! I do hope that you aren't among those poor unfortunates who have lost their homes, or have had to move out while repairs are effected. We escaped here in our corner of West Norfolk but up on the North Norfolk coast they took a real battering, and I know in other parts of the UK the wind, rain and high tides have wrought devastation and loss of life.

In expectation of a couple of days of bad weather Jim and I planned for staying home and 'pottering' - home chores, long coffee-and-crossword breaks, and blissful hours to tie flies and order from fishing catalogues (Jim) and sorting threads and stitching (me). Mind you, the wind was so strong on Thursday afternoon in the little conservatory that is my sewing room, that I thought the roof would be ripped off and judiciously repaired to the Big Table in the dining room!

I made more headway into the task of tidying up the thread straggles - you know, when you cut into a skein of thread you always end up with an impossible tangle eventually, so I have started to wind the threads onto bits of card. It's a deliciously mindless occupation, high on the list of anyone with OCD I'd imagine! If you do it before things get too bad it's not such a task.

I did a little more on the Farmhouse Quilt. Some of the fabrics are quite gorgeous to quilt through, and this pale flannel here is one of them - see how the stitches just melt back into the cloth?

All the applique pieces will be embroidered when the quilting is finished and I have bound it. Yummy!

I'm using one strand of a hand-dyed 21st Century Yarn 4-ply cotton to quilt with - so much softer than quilting thread against the flannel, and I love the way the variegated colour changes just add a little something to the stitches.

A little Christmassy felty something. Bet you can't guess .......

And some more wool felt bangles. On a roll with these now. The bowl in the top photo contains tiny felt squares ready for embellishing the bangles. I must get my bead boxes out and see which ones will work with the wool.

So that's how I've spent these last couple of stormy days, stitching down the wind and really quite enjoying being 'stuck in the house'. I hope they have been good days for you, and if not, my good wishes to you.

Now then before you whizz off to your next blog stop, do me a favour and pop over to Potter Jotter, as Cathy is doing a really fab give-away of some of her lovely ceramic buttons. Hop across and say hello!

Bye for now and thank you all for your lovely comments these last couple of weeks about my lengthy wait for a hospital appointment. Believe me I know I am not in dire straits and other bloggy friends have been having a much more drastic time of it, health-wise. But it has been so good to read your remarks, thank you.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Triette and a Book Cull

A real boost to my spirits after all the glumness of the preceding weeks, was a small gig in Norwich with Triette, my melodeon tutor Nick's band comprising himself on melodeon, Nic Zuppardi on mandolin and tenor guitar, and Ida (pronounced Eeda) who flew over from her home in Sweden especially, who plays fiddle and Hardanger fiddle. Those of you who've been reading my blog for some time will be familiar with them, and you can google them and listen to some tracks on their cd "Triette".

After a first half of stupendous music we pushed the chairs to one side and there was dancing! French or rather Breton dancing. Wonderful fun. There were some folks from the Norwich-based Pied à Terre dance society and also quite a few members of the Kickwitches molly dancers who know about Breton dancing, so there were plenty of dancers.

Jim, unfortunately, does not dance. You could not pay him enough money to get him onto the dance floor. I, on the other hand, love to dance, but don't know french dances. This lovely lady, called Pasquale, saw that I was desperate to dance and came and pulled me onto the floor and taught me some basic steps. Here she is with her regular partner.

She then handed me over to him and off we went, Schottisching away. Three to the right, three to the left, four slower steps round and round. With the occasional variation if you are up to it. Here you can just see me in my black leggings and green tunic. Pasquale grinning at Jim as he tries to get a good shot.

It was SUCH FUN!! Gosh I did enjoy myself. We even managed a variation! I wanted to dance all night. Sadly, I am not up to the polskas and mazurkas yet - maybe one day!

Pasquale did say I should join Pied à Terre but I think that is something I will leave for summer months maybe. I'm aware that it looks a bit empty - there were many more people at the gig and about a dozen or so couples dancing, but we seem to have caught a beer break!

We drove home later and I was still buzzing with the excitement of the dance, and the great music. Even Jim, who is a blues, not folk, music fan, really appreciated and enjoyed Triette's playing. Do check them out you will be amazed how good they are.

So I feel I have turned the corner and am feeling much happier; and despite the news from the hospital telling me my appointment will take about TEN WEEKS to arrive, I had a great evening playing music with Soiree friends Marj and Rob which really bucked me up no end. Thank you all of you who sent such lovely messages after my last post, it was quite heart-warming to read them.

Over the weekend, Jim and I culled some more books. You may remember a post from last year when I had a good old clear out, but look how many we sent to the recycling centre!

FIVE crates! And believe me, some of them were very difficult to get rid of. Even now I wonder why I sent the Reginald Hill books away - Dalziel and Pasco police TV series, excellently well written books, MUCH better than the Morse books, which  I think are not particularly well written though the TV series is excellent. And all those old Patricia Wentworth "Miss Silver" books - and many others I wasn't QUITE ready to let go - but they are taking up so much space, and to be honest I have read every single one of them over and over. They will all go to good new homes. Once upon a time you could sell them to the second hand book shop owners but these days there are so many books sloshing about they won't take them. Anyway, there is less clutter - and more room ......for more books I guess!

Do you find it difficult to get rid of books? Do you keep them and re-read them? Happy book-worming these chilly evenings, until next time.