Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Elizabeth and Queen Liz

By the time you read this, if I have scheduled this post correctly, I will be in London. With my friend Liz, my book crossing friend. We are on  "jolly girls' jaunt" on the trail of the Tudors, looking for Elizabeth with Liz.

We both love the Tudors, it is an intergenerational thing. My daughter was obsessed by the Tudors, specifically Henry viii when she was about 10 years old. She has tended to grown out of this phase, but my friend Liz and I, well it has stuck. My friend Anne loves the Tudors too. I will be reporting to her when we get home, to be honest, the Regency period is probably more her thing.

We arrived in London on Monday and are here for a few days. Most people go to central London for the shops, or the sights. Not us. We are heading to Hampton Court in Richmond on the search for Henry viii. If we don't at least see the ghost of Catherine Parr in the long corridor, I will be having strong words with the English tourist board.

This was the ideal time for me to do some secret sewing with my Elizabeth 1 fabric from Tula Pink. I had won this is a giveaway a few years ago, along with some Prince Charming fabric. I decided to make two pouches and two purses.

 I only had one fat quarter of Elizabeth, so the pouch for me was eked out with some vibrant orange. I could have had the whole pouch in Queen Liz but she would have been off centre. Since when did such things bother me? It seems they do more than I thought.
I lined the pouch for Liz with a Tula bright pink.

Liz's purse, we have to have a Tudor purse, is lined with the same pink and has a bright blue zip. Unfortunately that was the last small zip in my stash. I had bought several, they sell them in a cheapy shop in town. When I come home I will make another purse for myself.

I filled the pouches with life's essentials, a bar of chocolate and a lip balm. There is a book to go inside too, but it doesn't fit! Mine may just have a circular needle and a ball of wool, apparently you can take needles on the planes again.

Our other day we are hoping to spend in Kew Gardens. I have been to Kew Gardens several times but always seem to arrive late afternoon. One visit, my friend Maureen and I almost got locked in. The man at the gate wasn't very pleased. I think his chips were getting cold, or his beer getting warm or something. In fairness, we shouldn't have kept him waiting, we walked too far away from the gates in the time we had. This time I am hoping we have all day there. The coffee shop and the gift shop were very good, never mind the grounds, the glasshouses and the Chinese Pagoda.

We may also do some of this whilst we are away.

or this:
 or this:
 or even this:

Helen x

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Looking at Life Through a Window

Last week was sheds, poetry and Falling Leaves, this week I am back to windows again and quatre foil blocks. You may remember, I am taking part in one low key bee this year. The #beeabee2017 bee is organised by Anneliese whom I was with in my first ever bee.

Yesterday I received a lovely parcel, two lovely parcels actually. Now I can use the phrase I heard recently in a podcast "a PARTY in my mail box". Or rather a party on my hall floor after the parcel dropped through the letter box. It doesn't quite have the same ring about it, does it?

Sharon who is on instagram as @sharonappleton sent me two great blocks with pale blue windows and orange vibrant centres and corners. These blocks are for a baby quilt, they will work in really well. Thank you so much Sharon.

Sharon also included a matching postcard. I am curious as to whether this is coincidence or a matter of course with Sharon. She also made a pixie basket with a blue squiggled outside and pink centre. I am  not sure if this is for me or to go with the baby quilt. mmmm. I might have to think about that!

And Sharon also made me a coin purse. I have seen this appearing in blogs and ig feeds and really liked them. And now I have one.

I laid my two new blocks out with the two that I made and the two Tish sent me. They work well together. I know some of the blocks will have a children's theme and some will not. What I am going to do is muddle them up, and make the quilt double sided. I know every quilt has a front and a back, but this could have two fronts. That way, if an accident happens, just flip it over to the other side.
I am going to do another block myself with spacemen. I think it may be the fabric that Yvonne sent me a while back.

Here is the original window that made me fall in love with this block.


And here is a church window we saw in the Church of Ireland in Waringstown a week or so ago. Another lovely window, stained this time. This is a medieval church, it has been around since the 1200s. It even has its Rectors listed from the 1200s, albeit with a bit of a gap until 1400. They mustn't have backed up their computer records of the time!

And now I am feeling quite guilty, as I have yet to do my May block for Gina. It is a Dresden plate. I have never done this, I think I am putting it off but I will have to face up to my fears. Next week. August is catch up month, we have the summer to get to up to date..

Helen x
ps my other parcel was a lovely box of honey. Three honeys. I had taken out a subscription to the Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine and the first whatever number of subscribers got three jars from the  British Honey Co. Rather appropriate in today's post!  I do like honey. On toast. Oh, yes, bread is the devil, I nearly forgot. Again.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Poetry and Sheds

You may remember I have said before I love how sometimes things come full circle and interlock, I love word games, I love playing with words. One thing I never particularly liked was poetry. It is ok, in small doses, but, I mean, when I was a student,  a date with a sports man or a date with a poet? I preferred the sports man. But, we mellow as we get older or maybe just appreciate these things a little more. Poetry has more appeal now than it ever did for me.

We went out yesterday and we took our trust Discover N Ireland book with us, bought around the time we got married. This is our Bradshaw's. Roll over Michael Portillo!

Yesterday we went to the Seamus Heaney centre, Home Place. Seamus Heaney was Ireland's greatest living poet, well until he died. He was the bane of my daughter's homework, and therefore the bane of my life for a short while. Until yesterday. We went to the Seamus Heaney centre and I can honestly say I am reformed. The poetry was amazing. He had such a way with words, an economy with words. He put everyday experiences into his poems. I was tears reading his poem about peeling potatoes with his mother. That wasn't about Seamus and his mother. He was writing about me and my granny. Granny Annie and me peeling potatoes. And the poem written about himself and his brothers playing football in the dark with jumpers for goalposts. That wasn't written about him in the 1950s, that was my sons in the 1990s. I can't find a link online, but it is very good.

My father in law wrote poetry. His father wrote poetry. My husband was a sportsman, but has become a sort of poet in later life. The genes will out. As Billy Bragg sings in his "Handyman Blues",
"don't be expecting me to put up shelves or BUILD A GARDEN SHED,
but I can write a song that tells the world
how much I love you instead....
.....I know it looks like I'm just reading the paper
but these ideas I'll turn to gold dust later,
Cause I'm a writer not a decorator."

Well this brings me neatly to today's actual blog post. I doubt my brother in law Handy C, writes much poetry, but he can BUILD A GARDEN SHED! In fact he has built 2, from scratch, not from a kit. He has built the same shed twice.

You may remember my father had a summer house, built by brother in law. It was in two parts. It was half summer  house, half storage unit. It was built to face sun. It had double glazing. It had a tv and sky sports. It had a kettle for making coffee. It had a radio. It had two radios so dad didn't have to retune the station.  It had a decking so dad could still listen/watch his beloved cricket yet sit in the sun/shade as he felt. It also had a balustrade for hanging quilts over to photograph. Very useful indeed was Granda's Shed as my father insisted on calling it.

In fact you may remember this Coin quilt I made  him last year for sitting in his summer house on a cooler day, listening to his beloved cricket and doing the crossword. 

Dad had been reluctant to put Handy C to all the bother. After all, who knows how long I will be here he used to say. Always the optimist my dad. We persuaded him it would increase the value of his house, so he agreed for inheritance reasons to let Handy C build the shed. As it happened Dad used it and enjoyed it for quite a few years.

And now the house is to go up for sale. I felt the new owners may well decide they didn't want  a summerhouse, and we would all be so upset when it would be taken down. Maybe even with a sledge  hammer and a mallet, the end of all our memories. To me the best solution was to take the fence and walk Granda's shed to the next door garden. My sister and brother in law live next door.

Apparently you cant just take down a fence, lift up a summer house and carry it next door. It is heavy for a start. Take up your house and walk I thought, like a snail. You can however take a summer house apart, take down the fence, carry your bits across and rebuild your house next door. To an even better specification, after all the shed in its first life, was only the prototype.


 You can see the hole in the fence and the big gap where the Shed used to be.

And so now Granda's Shed has a new life in my sister's garden. And I can still hang my quilts over the balustrade she says! The quilt I made her from my dad's shirts looks rather well hanging over the edge, doesn't it?

And she even found a sign in a shop saying "Grandad's Shed". Just sitting there on the shop shelf. Waiting for her. Poetry. Economy of words. Two words says it all. Sniff , tissues please.

Happy Thursday,
Helen x

Monday, 17 July 2017

Four Candles

Probably just those from the UK and Ireland, but remember the Two Ronnies? And the 4 candles skit? Ronnie Barker goes into the hardware shop, looking like a culchie and asks for 4 candles. The shop owner, Ronnie Corbett brings out every time of candle imaginable. Eventually Ronnie Barker says its Fork Handles, Handles for Forks he wants. Priceless.

4 hats. Hats for 4 girls.

4 balls of wool that turned into 4 hats.
Actually 5 balls of wool. I changed my mind about the colour of one hat.

My daughter shared a flat with 3 other girls for most of her university life. All lovely girls. These girls now have a bond which will always be there. It may come and go over the years, but it will always be there. Every now and again they meet up. This year they were meeting in Dublin for the weekend. I, mama C, for that is what they call me, thought I would knit them a hat each.

Hats in July. Just what they need. Four Hats.

I ordered bright colours in acrylic aran, Paint Box aran from Love Knitting.com. I ordered acrylic, because lets face it, these girls aren't going to be hand washing and drying flat. Acrylic hat, stick it in your pocket, stick it in the washing machine. And if it gets lost, it gets lost.

I ordered orange, teal blue, bright blue and purple for Ms N, my daughter, Ms P and Ms H. After I while I remembered that Ms H loves green. I made the girls small lap quilts when they were at university. They sent me flowers addressed to mama C and the name stuck. Ms H loved green I remember. So, Ms H was going to get a ball left over from my daughter's hoodie cardigan, knitted earlier.

The hats are a simple rib, knitted on circular needle. I have knitted it before, in purple when my daughter was working in England. It is one of those patterns that has been passed betwixt and between, photocopied so much nobody knows where it originated. Well, it came from a friend in work and was passed around between us for all our daughters. It was perfect for knitting in the garden, whilst drinking coffee and listening to knitting podcasts or the radio.

When the hats were finished, I thought it would be fun to colour coordinate them with some sweets or chocolate in the same colour wrapper. I made each girl a little card from mama C. I can't draw for toffee, but I can doodle. I think its because you have to think about drawing, doodling, is well, doodling.

They were all wrapped in tissue paper, and tied with their respective wool and delivered.

Ms H was unwell and unable to make the trip. Ms N wasn't expecting a hat, and had her hair all braided up, no room for a hat. Fair enough, it is July! But here are Ms P and my daughter. Looking wonderful I might say in their hats in Dublin.

Helen x

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Best Things in Life are Free

The Best Things in Life are Free. Not just free once, but free twice. How come?

My Elizabeth fabric from Tula Pink came to me free in a blog giveaway. I was so pleased. I know some find Tula Pink too busy, bit like Kaffe Fassett, but I like it. I particularly loved the Elizabeth bundle I won. As I check the Tula fabric archive online, I see some of my Elizabeth fabric is actually Prince Charming fabric. Even better, every Elizabeth needs a Prince Charming.

And when I was looking for fabric for some secret sewing, that's right, more secret sewing, I found what I needed in my stash. The perfect chance to use the Elizabeth. So free, not just once but twice.

I have been told in my scrapbooking group I don't do budget. I must admit I do like the finer things in life, but I think I have been misrepresented. I don't so much do budget, but I do do frugal. (do do frugal, that sounds weird). I can make a very little go a long way. I stay in posh hotels, but I don't spend much day to day on holiday, apart from food and drink. And they don't count. Now the children have left home I don't buy supermarket meat, I go to the butcher . Its more expensive but more ethical, but I can make a roast last all week. I was going to say make a joint last all week, but I know how that would sound!

Anyhow, back to Elizabeth. I have finished my secret sewing. I am pretty pleased with it. I will show you next week when it has been, not so much handed over, but shared. I hope this doesn't give away the surprise too much, I never could hold my own water!

Back to frugal. I bought some Debbie Bliss eco yarn in Winchester in the spring. It was on sale so I bought half a dozen balls. I wish I had bought all of it, but I thought at the time that was a bit extravagant. What I bought cost me about £9 from memory. I knitted a friend's new grandson a ribbed sleeveless jumper from my library copy of Debbie Bliss classic baby knit.

  I then started a baby cardigan for a baby  that's expected. This is a free ravelry download, a garter yoke top down baby cardigan. I made the yoke a garter stripe, and here it is. Ta Da! A finish from my Finish A Long list no less.  I also knitted a hat from one of my sister's many, many knitting magazines.

And there is still wool left. Not a lot, but most of the ball of white and about a quarter of the greenish ball. Now, my cousin has a new grandson this week. I was going to buy something, but the baby's mum has loads of friends, and a little boy already, so loads of tiny baby presents coming there already. The little hat knitted up so quickly I think I will knit a variety of hats. And the first one will be with the remnants of this wool. How does a hat for every day of the week sound? OK?

See, I do do frugal. Not bad all for less than a tenner! And its ecological and nice wool too.

As for my "real secret sewing" this week, it is coming on well too. Today was a lovely day, so basting in the garden was an option. All basted and ready to quilt. Wish I could show you.

And the 4 hats I knitted a couple of weeks ago? Well, that reunion weekend is over and done with as of today. So I can do the big reveal. I will do that tomorrow. This blog post is long enough already.

Helen x
joining in with Molli Sparkles, Sunday Stash

Thursday, 13 July 2017

You Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog Quilt

I can't believe its a whole week since I last blogged. Some weeks the day just fly past at the speed of sound and some weeks there is just nothing to blog about. This was a combination of the two. The week has flown past and although I have been doing, there hasn't been anything to make a song and dance about.

I have been snatching moments to carry one with my Houndstooth quilt, or as I think of it now, the You Ain't Nothing But Like A Hound dog quilt. My main worry is of muddling up the greys. Some of the greys are very close in tone and it would be oh so easy to get them in the wrong order. There are 10 rows of 10 blocks and I have joined together the blocks within 5 1/2 rows. That makes it over halfway!,

I have been thinking of what to back this with. I can see it with a purple swirl or whorl, or a paisley pattern. It is for my daughter. I may have to sell her on this one, but Momma knows best. There's a lovely fabric in Ikea but unfortunately there is no purple in the colourway. Apart from that small disadvantage it is perfect.
There are a couple of Kaffe Fassett/Brandon Mably fabrics I like too, but she may not like them. I won't run away with myself, I will finish it first.
I was buying wadding and thread for secret sewing and was looking for inspired backing choices in the Paragon, but no go. And this secret sewing? It is the baby quilt I alluded to before. The pieces are cut, the pieces are pieced. I am ready to baste and quilt this. I really, really want to show even a snapshot. The mum and dad of this soon to be here baby, do from time to time read my blog so I will hold back. It is killing me. It is not often I have a completed flimsy to show you!

I have finished the little baby cardigan I was knitting and knitted a hat as well. Just the buttons to sew on. Well, that makes a finish doesn't it? Photos and details to follow over the weekend. For now I feel a pair of socks coming on. Maybe a pair to fit me this time?

Helen x
linking up with Finished Or Not Friday with Busy Hands Quilts

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Finish A Long Q3

Here we go, here we go, here we go. Finish A Long time again, quarter 3 goals and destinations.

Easily guessable.

1 Houndstooth Quilt
 or as I think of it now, Hound Dog, (You ain't nothin' but a hound dog)
as blogged about yesterday. A whole lot going on here. The rest of the rows to make up then sew together. Three strips down, seven to go.

2 The Lucent Quilt, Secret Surprise Baby Quilt
This is cut ready to go. I blogged before about buying the fabric, we just need to go sewing. I have left out the key fabric in this photo to keep up the secrecy.

3 Economy Square Quilt
 A few more bright blocks, then piece together.

4 Operation Hat
Four bright hats for four bright friends. This is a quick and easy one.

5. Debbie Bliss Cardigan
If I could just find that missing dpn, this would be finished in a blink of an eye.
Helen x
linking up with Just Jude FAL3 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Time To Get Off The Laurels

After sitting on my laurels over the weekend, I decided today to revisit an old friend. I had nearly forgotten about the Houndstooth quilt designed by Just Jude, featured in Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine,  that I began earlier in the year. This is for my daughter, she is on a roll these days, craft wise, from mother.

I thought I had nearly all the individual blocks done. Duh. Was I wrong. We had decided to substitute the red for purple, and to use two different shades of purple. We decided on Mulberry as we love the handbags so much, and Magenta as it sounded pretty cool. I just hadn't done the blocks yet.

 Now I remembered. My blade is a little blunt and I was waiting until I got a new one. I haven't got that yet.
Today and yesterday I made the 14 assorted purple blocks. We wanted there to be a subtle difference between the two purples, hoping its not too subtle.

I also made half a dozen charcoal blocks. They look very striking against the white kona.

All set to go on the piecing, but I seemed to have too many Shades of Grey.  Not as many as 40 but I had the feeling something wasn't right. There's a reason people write things down. We had decided to go with Steel for the centre diagonal thinking Charcoal was a little strong. We were looking for a very subtle grey palette.

Next I started to sew the blocks together.
 Strip 1 was done.

Strip 2 was done.

Strip 3 was done.

It was time to play spot the difference. Again. ... I am trying very hard not to, and to get the greys in the right order. It seemed then that the purple in row 3 was pointing the wrong direction. Nope. It was right, the purples in rows 1 and row 2 were wrong. When I checked the magazine photo, the purples are converse to the greys.

Well, its a start.

 This will be set aside. Again. I have something more pressing to work on, secret sewing, but I am showing willing here.
Helen x
linking up with Beth and Cooking Up Quilts

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Two Needles V One Needle

I find I like to knit in the summer. Knitting is portable. I can knit in the garden whilst the sun shines, or doesn't. I can knit in the sun room whilst relaxing. I can knit watching tv in the evening. Really, it is more sociable than locking myself away in a garret to sew.

And what am I knitting? I am knitting lots of things. I will never be a one project at a time kind of gal. I am knitting 4 hats all in bright colours for 4 friends who meet up from time to time, #operationhat . These wee ribbed hats knit up quick and easily. They are fun to knit and hopefully fun to wear. The last hat was to be purple, I have the purple wool, but I have decided to go with green. The green from the aran hoodie will fit the bill here.

Next up to finish is a little baby cardigan I have been knitting. It is Debbie Bliss wool and I have the pattern linked on my Ravelry page. I am helenmidgetgem on Ravelry too. This is knitted from the top down, a new experience for me. It is not finished simply because I the 4 dpns (double pointed needles) for the sleeves were attached to a pair of socks.

And lastly on the knitting front, I just have to sew up this lovely bear from Mary Jane's Tearoom. I won the bear kit just before Christmas. As you know I love knitting, hate sewing up. With knitting like this the sewing up is crucial to the make or break.

Knitting is different now. Knitting is "on the needles", wool is yarn, and balls of wool are cakes. Go figure.

Helen x