Monday 31 December 2012

Last post of 2012

And it is already 2013 in parts of the world. This seems strange.
I keep telling myself I AM a quilter and that life will return to normal come the installation of the kitchen. This is scheduled to start on the 14th of January, when they will spend a week removing the old kitchen, removing the tiles, rewiring for the new appliances and extra sockets and replastering. The following week they will install the new kitchen and template the worktops. And then finally the new worktops go in, the kitchen gets hand painted and the hob is installed, and the sink and taps go in. Yay!!! I have to admit I am dreading all this but not the end product.
I have started to move stuff out of the kitchen into the new dresser. This is what is known as trying to fit a quart into a pint pot.
I am so pleased to have discovered these lovely red boxes from Ikea. Not only do they help in making fewer trips from the kitchen to the dresser but I have also found they fit nicely into my American style fridge freezer. I knew these fridges were a bad design after I stayed in a friends house who had one but it was the only option for a 90cm wide space. Since then of course they have bought out French style ones which are also 90cm wide. When this one breaks down it WILL be replaced. In the meantime these boxes help incredibly.
Meanwhile the UK has had the wettest year on record and all of that was condensed into the last 8 months of the year. Everywhere is muddy, there have been landslips on the road leading down to Monmouth and Monmouth itself has been on Flood Alert for most of December and it doesn't seem as this will be changing shortly. Frank loves it!

We had been going to spend New Years Eve up at our pub but DH is not feeling 100% so we are being old codgers and staying in. We might not even make it to midnight.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Christmas is coming

Note to self: Never buy pressents which are hard to wrap. Imagine a round hat box.
A couple of people very sensibly suggested loads of pleats. This was fine until I got about half way round and the bulk of the folded paper grew too much. Plan B worked but it involved cutting the paper every inch, top and bottom and sticking it down every three folds. Those of you who have been following me know I have Fibromyalgia. One of the symptoms is neck ache if I bend my head too long. Let's just say I bent my head too long and now 24 hours later I am still paying for it.
I then cut a small circle out of card, a larger circle out of the wrapping paper, glued it over the card, then stuck it over the joins in the middle. Not perfect but it's done!
I had to wait for the dresser to arrive (see earlier post) before decorating the tree. I also needed help getting all the crap decorations down from the loft. It seems a lot of things must be in our storage container but there was enough around to decorate the tree and the staircase so that will have to be it for this year.

Wanda noticed the amarylis in the background in a previous post. The flowers lasted nearly four weeks as each had two stems. I cut them back and added (sin of sins) some fake amarylis and 'planted' them in the pots amongst the greenery. I think they seem quite Christmassy hanging in the window.

Monday 10 December 2012

This is a brilliant idea

I first saw this on Pinterest (I think), some one had got an old mug tree sanded it down and repainted it and used it as a scissor stand.
I walked past a charity shop and found a chrome plated one. Fabulous.

Saturday 8 December 2012

I had been waiting so long for this to arrive...

and was getting very impatient.
It became rapidly obvious when we moved in that all our stuff just doesn't fit.Toad Hall was larger and had a double garage which was wider and deeper than standard and a garden shed. Now we just have a shed and a loft for the house overflow. Our kitchen has been badly designed not only in use of space but also in ergonomic terms. It is an L shaped room, with a seating area in one end of the L, a dining area in the far end of the L and the kitchen area in the corner. The kitchen range is on an opposite wall to the sink and that is about a 10 foot walk between the hob and the sink. This is dangerous as this is also the route between the sitting area and the dining area. Imagine me with my weak hands carrying a pan of boiling water to the sink whilst someone else is walking from either the hallway or the sitting area. Disaster waiting to happen.

So the new kitchen is being installed in January and all the kitchen stuff in the container down the hill can be bought up once this is finished.

Meanwhile I could still go ahead and order the large dresser for the dining area. It was commissioned way back in October and only arrived today. It is huge! Three metres long (10 foot give or take). All that storage, and now we can get the Christmas decorations out this week.

This was the space before.
And how it is now. We still haven't got the knobs for this as I think I want the same as the new kitchen but this is still under discussion. Luckily I had a dozen knobs we could use temporarily. I was worried I couldn't open the drawers but I have invented a duck tape drawer pull to use until the drawer pulls and knobs are ordered. It is been painted in the same Farrow and Ball Blackened which I used for this table and chairs.
This amount of storage is heaven! The bad news is I cannot fill it up yet as I will need all this space for what is currently in the kitchen for storage whilst is being installed.
We like it so much we are thinking of commissioning a desk cupboard for me in the same area.

I will put the other table and the four chairs I painted on Ebay this weekend. Exciting times.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Painting- for that 'English Country House Look'

And what is an 'English Country House' look? I am not talking about Country Homes which are grand places, few of which remain in private hands, but larger country homes owned by families for generations.

What defines this look? It is difficult to pinpoint but it is a look which is achieved over time and generations. So not everything is from one period, but just what fits in a space and has been found in the parents attics. Sofas will be recovered (but only when the dog has eaten so much of the stuffing the springs are painful), battered chairs painted, old rugs used until they are in such a state you are in danger of tripping up through the holes.....

I don't come from the sort of family whose house had attics full of furniture (I do remember all our Victorian and Edwardian furniture on a big bonfire before we left England for Australia). We did get a few old pieces from my in laws house and an old aunts but we had to part with most of these as they just wouldn't fit in the cottage. I will never fully get this 'look' but enjoy using elements of it.

I bought these four oak chairs about 8 years ago from an antique/junk shop. I loved the barley twists on the stretcher and the backs. I painted them cream and as we used them the paint wore off in various places, like the right hand of each stretcher where we rested our feet as we sat after dinner. Toad Hall was big enough to lose another set of 6 chairs in the bedrooms and around the house for when there were more than four for dinner. So now they have to go for someone else to write their own history on them. I have room in this house for a larger kitchen table so the other six chairs can be used here. The table arrived freshly reconditioned and painted but in the wrong colour for me. So the old table, the four chairs, the six chairs and the new table have been repainted. I washed them thoroughly and the applied a coat of Zinser BIN. This amazing paint is a Primer, stain blocker and sealer all in one and best of all, it takes out the need for complete sanding.

This is one of the legs of the smaller kitchen table. 
This is one of the set of four in the process of getting it's first coat.

So now I have two new 'sets'. The table and the six chairs is in Farrow and Ball Blackened.  The other four chairs and table in House White. (these will go on Ebay this week)

I have commissioned a new dresser (a buffet for those over the pond) to go on that far wall and that is arriving on Saturday.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Not quite a disaster

But it could easily have been.
I was happily sewing away in my studio and heard a dripping noise. I located water coming from the ceiling onto the floor (oak) and my fabric storage drawer system.

This was after I removed my stash of Freezer Paper. For those of you in the States this might not seem a big deal but Freezer Paper cannot just be purchased from the supermarket over here. It has become more obtainable in recent years but it isn't cheap.
Then I discovered my Ricky Tims hand dyes and some other hand dyes in one of the drawers were sodden.

A quick wash in the machine sorted out the fabrics. The paper dried surprisingly well upended on the radiators for a few days. Some of them, I just washed and gave to the local quilt group to make cushions and bags for the breast cancer ward at our local hospital.

And the cause? The family bathroom is over my studio. I had turned the tap onto a slow drip because George asked me to. (the cats have their own water fountain downstairs but cats being cats they like to prove who is boss). It seems there was a very slow leak from the waste outlet. I think we have both only had one bath each since we've been here preferring showers instead. Because the waste was continually filling, it was also continually leaking. Until under the bath was flooded, then the ceiling void below, until it eventually started coming through the ceiling. Jeff the plumber came quickly and the side of the bath is still off whilst it dries out underneath.

Sunday 11 November 2012

I nearly forgot I have a blog

I must update more often, I must update more often, note to self!

Today the sun is shining and we went on a little adventure to the Kymin. We have seen it from the distance at the bottom of the hill from Monmouth and we knew where the turn off was but it is on a steep hill with narrow lanes and sharp bends. Not the sort of turn you can make without planning it.

The little road up was far longer, steeper and narrower than we expected with little passing spots and hairpin bends. There were glimpses of the view on the way up but nothing had prepared us for the vista ahead. As we left out car in the little car park there were only two other cars there. Then the view over England was revealed.
We turned to see the back of the monument,
and the explanation. Though locally the emphasis for this is Lord Nelson and his association with Monmouth.

From all four sides

Then there is the castellated dining hall. It is available to rent for small occasions. They suggest wedding but as it only has a capacity for 20 people it would have to be very small weddings...

The view of Wales revealed at the top is incredible. To drive to the hills in the far distance is about an hour and a half just to give you some idea. In the foreground below is the town of Monmouth.

The last of the autumn colour through the trees and a little pond, itself getting full of fallen leaves.

So that was our little outing today. I had planned to do the ironing and then get back to drawing more feathers for the book..... but I had a nap on the sofa and watched the tennis. It couldn't have been too exciting as I woke just after it ended.....

Saturday 27 October 2012

I have ordered a new machine!

This machine excites me in a way the last 800 series Berninas didn't. It's the 710. I played with it at the Festival of Quilts and loved it. It was quieter at the Autumn Quilt Show yesterday and I played some more. It even behaved wonderfully with Bottomline in the top and bobbin (with no adjustments!). I haven't ordered the one with all the bells and whistles as I just don't use them or the BSR (though if you are new to machine quilting, I would recommend you go for that extra). It has all the stitches I use and ever need to use for my work, plus more than a few extras. It won't be arriving until January so I will just have to contain my excitement until then. Will I get much quilting done whilst the kitchen is going in? I hope so! If it were a car, it would a hybrid between a Mercedes and a Ferrari.

I will be partially funding it by parting with my beloved 440s. The reason I held back was I am used to running two machines so I am not without one whilst the other is being serviced. Frank Nutt offers to let you go shopping and they will service the machine whilst you shop in Birmingham, so that shouldn't be a problem and if anything more major would need doing I will still have my 1260 as a very good back up machine. He will also do it by courier if necessary (so I will have to keep the box for that purpose).

The autumn here this year is wonderful, as I am driving most of the time when I go out I don't get a chance to take photos so I have stolen this one taken by my daughter. It is unbelievably beautiful round here. I get such a kick crossing the border in and out of Wales when I go to the shops.

My sister made a whistle stop visit this week so plans I promised to announce has been delayed a little bit more.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

New things are going to happen. Meanwhile please just hang in there, I will be back blogging as soon as it is organised.
I miss you,  ;o)

Sunday 22 July 2012

This was a win, it would look good rotated or mirrored.

And then I thought I would have a go at a tree, this looked promising...
And it looked promising.....
But the time has come to abandon it and try another day.
It seems I am not alone in this difficulty, this 1933 quilt had similar problems.

Grrr, blogger has turned this upside down. I cannot tell you how happy I am with this, it's a WIN!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Border design

Grrr. Blogger in it's wisdom is showing this border swag for the quilt design in the previous post upside down. I must do more designing I enjoy it so much. It's a very calming thing to do. The bow on the right is how it will look on the corners and on the left how it does between the swags.

 It is St Swithin's Day today and tradition has whatever the weather today, it will remain like this for 40 days.

'St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.'

It is now 8.45pm and we have had no rain....... Fingers crossed for the London Olympics. I wonder if events have had to be delayed because of unseasonal weather?

Saturday 14 July 2012

My favourite bit of quilting-Designing!

This is half of what will be the centre block and it will be on point. The block size is large 21 1/2". I might add a flower in the centre....

And this is half of one of the four blocks which will surround it. (note the Dogue de Bordeaux slobber on the paper!)
Then there will be these four half square triangles, one on each side.
And the four corners.
It is based loosely on an 1883 quilt in the book Nebraska Quilts and Quiltmakers called Love Apples and Tulips, though I have neither Love Apples nor Tulips in mine. What attracted me to this quilt was it's use of colour. It could so easily have been another red and green quilt but the maker used quite a lot of blue in hers in the pots and the flowers. It literally took my breathe away.
I am tempted to make this in the colours shown in the book including using a tan/khaki which the green has faded to, but I would also like to use red and green on a blue background, or use impossibly bright prints and make it zing! (or if I don't bite off more than I can chew perhaps more than one version?),
The original quilt has a plain white border and binding. I am thinking swags and bows..... Back to my sketchbook. And I have discovered the joys of a battery powered eraser, who knew removing lines could be so much fun?

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Love it when things go to plan, hate it when they don't.

I have been over the moon with my new cutting table (see my last post). The joy of being able to work from all sides and so not have to move the fabric. It is little things like this which bring me huge pleasure. I spent some time today cutting out bias stripes for piping on some cushions I am making for the kitchen sofas.
I bought a lot of preshrunk piping cord for this very purpose whilst we were still at Toad Hall. I assumed quite wrongly I had put it in the box with all the kitchen fabrics. (and a couple of other curtain fabrics). So the box gets pulled out from under the table to the left of my machine. It wasn't there. So then the blue Ikea bag behind it gets pulled out and emptied. Not there either. I did find some un-shrunk cotton piping cord in my drawers from way back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, varying thicknesses and I am not sure any of the lengths are long enough for the big cushions. But I boiled them to shrink them anyway.
At this point I needed to sleep. It didn't matter there was a guy on the staircase hammering down new carpet, I just had to sleep. So I did.
And I woke to find this....
 Tomorrow is another day.....
(My exhaustion was down to DH being stuck at the train station and not getting home until midnight as the RAC yet again claimed they were very busy last night. I also went to the supermarket and the butchers. I have limited energy and I had used it all)

Sunday 1 July 2012

I have done some stitching.

And I have my new sewing table.
It's my old Ikea glass table top which used to be on the trestles for my cutting table. I bought these two small chests of drawers from Ikea and it's perfect. I can still place a light on the floor between the two chests of drawers for a light box. Win.
I still have my old glass topped garden table which has now been moved over to the left so I have something to support my quilt whilst I stitch on it. You can see over to the right I have sorted out the upside down thread racks but haven't got all my threads up yet. Rome and my sewing room were not built in a day.

And my sewing? Well remember this footstool in the snug area of the kitchen? (and the sofa which was too large?)
Well I have recovered the footstool. (and we have a bright pink velvet small sofa, it is a real pink not the peachy pink the iphone has picked up) Both the footstool fabric and the sofa are Ikea again (do you think they will give me commission?)

Friday 29 June 2012

My new cutting table.

This Ikea table top (and Ikea's funny name is Vika Gruvan, it comes in black as well) is brilliant for our uses. The only thing in this shot actually on the top is the rotary cutter, the rest has been slid under the glass.
This June Taylor mat is a little slippy on it's reverse side (OK it is a lot slippy) so I placed some double sided tape on the back to hold it in place.
The trestle legs are Ikea Artur and allow quite a bit of storage underneath. (I have 3 domestic machines and one carry case, plus 4 wooden wine boxes full of ribbons and wool etc) I might run some Velcro round the outside to hide the storage. I have the legs set at the highest setting which is a little higher than kitchen worktop height.