Thursday 31 July 2014

Sewing Heaven in Crosshands

I manged to get to Isabeau in Crosshands ( it ought to be happyhands) this morning to find a new Hera marker, mine has vanished, and as I walked in this little lot was thrust into my hands.

Hilary cuts many charm packs and these are the off cuts, I offered to buy them but she insists that they are a gift, and that there will be more as they usually get binned. I am over the moon, I love scraps.
I asked if I could share the shop with you and the answer was yes, with the proviso that she does not appear.
Come and have a look see.

The view to the bottom left of the shop, from the large work table.

Towards the bottom right corner.

Facing the front this is the left corner.

Colour blocks behind the work table, I managed to catch a little of Hilary but as her face is excluded I left it in. She was busy cutting a complicated order for a quilt.

Part of the work table, she was very busy, you can see part of the order that she was compiling in the center of the cutting board.

I am looking forward to spending many happy times in here, looking and choosing my own fabric selections, once I have completed my 100 items.

I will not be sewing much today, I had a bad night and am pumped full of pain meds. Acute pain that hits you from nowhere is bad but this chronic version just grinds away, with seemingly no respite. Some days it takes a deal of will power not to sit in bed and grizzle.
Today will be a tea and chocolate sort of day, more tea than chocolate as I do not want to upset the insides as well. 
I have some peanut M&M's tucked away, in the freezer I have some chocolate brownies. I bake a batch and when cold cut them into 1/2" squares and open freeze them. They are a perfect hit when you need one and are a good step up from ice cream. Sometimes I chop them smaller and stir into plain yogurt, with a drizzle of really good Maple Syrup, just heavenly. I get my Maple Syrup in Wales, it is imported from a small farm in Canada and is the best that I have ever tasted. I have to drive to Folly Farm so I take the grands for the day and buy a case at a time.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  I can have a chill out day with no worries.

2.  I know that the pain will recede eventually.

3.  I do not need to shop for a couple of days.

4.  I have started the next number, the initial cutting is done and the first part of assembly is started.

5.  Francesca may have the opportunity to work in North Wales in the near future.

Francesca rang this morning, there is a possibility that she has done enough paralegal work to qualify without sitting the bar exam. There was also an opening in North Wales in the conversation, just in case I am going to look at flat prices in the area, it is a 3 hour drive from here so she can not commute. I am going to have to curb my excitement just in case nothing comes of it, but I will still do the research.

Ben's skin is looking much better now, he is back at the vet,s tomorrow for a checkup. My fingers will be crossed that we are on the home straight now. He has put up with a lot without any overt resentment, I am going to hope for a good day so he can have a walk on a newly discovered foot path in Ponty.

I am going to make tea and maybe nod off over my book. 

                 TTFN                                          Pam

Wednesday 30 July 2014

The wanderer has returned, number 15 is ticked off.

It has been a lovely few days away albeit very busy, I have hung curtains, shopped, cooked, washed up. worked through a mountain of laundry and got most of it ironed. We did not get to the beach a second time, the weather just was not good enough. I has however been kind for the Cardigan Show today.

We got back late yesterday afternoon, I had to pick up some new meds for Ben. Most of the outstanding jobs were completed before we left. James made a few trips to the recycling center, cleared the shed, moved the trampoline and emptied the loft in the old house. lots of outgrown toys and clothes were sorted and bagged for the charity shops.
Because I took over the "domestic" work James could get on with the rest, Cerys was back at work, she is working hard and for long hours.
 The children were very good and I do admit to seeing rather too much of Peppa Pig, yesterday late morning Kaitlyn wanted a hug while watching and we both had 40 winks, it was most refreshing.

I have used some of the gifted scraps with others from the stash to complete number 15.

By the time I had finished the light had moved away from my window so I went out onto the lawn/meadow to take a photo. Cerys and James loved the ones I made for them, junior pounced on the Aqua, orange and grey and claimed it for his own.
 I will run up a second set of covers for when they need a trip through the washing machine.

I had a lift into Neath this morning and took the chance of picking up some more compost. I had a quick look at the canal. It is full of weeds but there was a dredger further down.

Above this sign were some of the biggest blackberries that I have seen, just out of reach, I am thinking of going back with a shepherds crook to pull them into reach.

And now , duly cream crackered , I am off to take Ben out and go to bed before I fall asleep where I sit. All my laundry is done, my housework is done, I have filled several pots and troughs with young plants and seeds. I did a slug hunt by torchlight last night and found 5. 
I am off to Crosshands tomorrow to see Hilary, I need a Hera marker, goodness knows where I have put mine.

          TTFN                                                     Pam

Update, I took Ben out, came back and made the fatal mistake of sitting on the sofa. About 2 hours later I woke up with a crick in my neck and back ache, my glasses twisted round my face and Ben snoring gently in my ear. Never mind, I woke early and have a stack of 5" strips cut and paired ready for number 16. Pam

Sunday 27 July 2014

The Perfect Ending to a Perfect Day

I got home quite late last night, Ben had a walk and I made tea and sat down with a surprise. When I opened the door there was the usual junk mail and a little parcel. 

I opened it to find this little lot.

This is after I pressed it, obviously the lovely Hilary from Isabeau Inspirations had been to visit on her way home from work. I love scraps and these ones are destined for a quilt for Faith, I made her one last year and now she is in a big bed she will need a big quilt. The last time I was in Isabeau's I picked up 2 charm packs that Hilary cuts herself, and they have most of these prints in them.

This morning we were on our way quite early as there were jobs to do and a barbecue was on the cards.

Making plans!

Oh Oh, We've been rumbled, just grin and look innocent.

Just Chilling.

Kaitlyn is giving a lecture, Junior is bored and Faith is too busy eating to listen. Cerys is there as a mediator I think.

The children's Grandfather, Dai, had the little chairs made for Christmas last year. I am not sure why Faith has moved away but her and Junior look to still be planning.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  A busy but lovely day.

2.  3 happy cousins, enjoying playing and being together.

3.  Another great last minute event, it was decided on at 9.45 last night.

4.  The afternoon /evening went so fast and finished with the trio dancing for our entertainment.

5.  Ben has been hugged, cuddled and loved to his hearts content and is now out cold.

The little ones love Ben, possibly because he too is a little one, he has played catch, football and cops and robbers today and he only had half a sausage that Kaitlyn gave him.

We are staying over to get a bit more done tomorrow and squeeze in another trip to Tresaith. 
On that note it is most certainly time for bed, or I will have to find matchsticks to prop my eyes open. 

     TTFN                                                               Pam

Saturday 26 July 2014

A trip to Tresaith

 The sun was out to play, and so were we.

The sun shone.
The sand was hot.
The sea was not.
We all went in.
I managed to swim.
We had ice cream.
Some had pop.
Kaitlin had her ice cream and half of mine.
Sian went paddling.
She was first in.
We all had stacks of fun.
We may go back on Monday.

I am off to bed.                                 

                   TTFN                                               Pam

Friday 25 July 2014

P.O.E.T.S. DAY. when greed won.

Most of you who are still working will know that the title is Push Of Early Tomorrow,s Saturday. I no longer have to worry about this, but this week it is sort of relevant.
 I have put my crafting away and will be blitzing through a bit later. I want need to vacuum through as the floors are festooned with threads and some sliver trimmings. I am off to Cardigan at crack of dawnish tomorrow, I aim to be at Jame,s house at 9:00 at the latest and will not be leaving much before 8:00 in the evening. This is partly to avoid the traffic now that we are in the high holiday season and partly to avoid driving when it is very hot. I do have air conditioning but when the outside temperature hits the high 20's it struggles, also it dries my eyes out if I have it running all the time.

I am looking forward to spending the day with the children, a new paddling pool may or may not be in their near future. I would love to take them to Poppit Sands but there is the traffic to consider.

I have finished items number 13 and 14.

I had intended to use both of these panels on one cushion, but greed took over. The pink will go to Francesca and I will be keeping the blue. Once I had sewn all those little squares together, and sweated gallons while steam pressing all those tiny seams flat, I knew that it was mine and mine alone.
I am going to look hard at the new cabinet and decide what colours I want to use next week, I also need to tip out one of the scrap boxes, I have 3 all full to the brim. I hope that by the end of September 2 of them will be empty.

I love the process of picking through fabrics, balancing colours and patterns and then seeing what they want to become and what blocks to use to show them off. I love cutting, sewing and pressing and can barely wait to see what comes of all the work. 
Then comes my Nemesis, layering and quilting. I even love binding finished quilts so I am not sure why I have this stumbling block when it comes to getting the things together. 
I have watched tutorials, I have read them and I have books with step by step instructions complete with line drawings and pictures.

I feel that it may be due to the sheer amount of time that the whole process takes, this can not be hurried. I remember reading somewhere that you need to realise that the quilting foot is called a Walking Foot for good reason. Just as it takes time to smooth out and layer Backing, Wadding and Top and get them fastened together. I would love to take a quilting class but have not found one in the past. What I have learned along the way has been almost accidental. 
As a bit of a control freak this does not sit easily with me, I need to get it dealt with and move on.
I am going to search and ask around to see if there are any classes held in the area. I do not even know if there is a quilting group any where close. I will be talking to Hilary next week, if anyone knows it should be her.

There are shed loads of gadgets and gizmos to help the quilter and recently I found one that is helping to save my sanity.

These snips hang round my neck when I am sewing or cutting, they are wonderfully sharp and the point is contained in a soft plastic sheath. When I sew I like to trim threads as I go, there are always threads and when a project is finished I hate having to go over it inch by inch thread cutting. The trouble was that my snips and scissors were constantly hiding away from me, now they can not go walkabout. Heaven.

Ben has been back to the vet, he is on a short course of antibiotics and steroids to clear up the last lingering flaky and red patches. Fingers crossed this will do the job.

I have to phone the surgery Monday to check if my Xray results are back, I am filled with trepidation but equally I want to know what the problem with my left hip and leg is, and get it sorted.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  Dare I say it again.....Sun filled days.

2.  Another relatively pain free day.

3.  2 more items crossed off my list.

4. A new cushion for my sofa.

5.  A whole day with the grands tomorrow.

I am assuming that the hot weather is helping what ever my hip problem is, or it may be that I am not doing as much walking because it is too hot for Ben. Having said that I have moved him out of the full sun 3 times today. It could be that I have spent time sitting at the sewing machine, but I have been standing to cut and do the pressing. What ever the cause I am very very grateful.

Ben is due a bath with his special shampoo and I am off to do that now, a little walk in the sun and he will be dry in  no time. I noticed this morning that his coat is growing very fast, goodness knows why, perhaps all the pampering his coat and skin is getting.

                        TTFN                                               Pam

Thursday 24 July 2014

A Rose is a Rose by any other name.

I owe an  apology to the owner of Isabeau Inspirations, I have been rattling on and calling her Hayley when her name is Hilary. I have no excuse and I have apologized in person. She is a lovely woman, as you will see a bit later in this post.

I wanted some simple sewing, chewing gum for the brain really, a No Sleep Night left me unable to cope with thinking.
I pulled out some pinks for a cushion and found my Thangles, I must have had them for 3 years.

I picked my fabrics and started sewing on the lines, and on and on and on. Tedious. I persevered and with the aid of some white on white I now have this for a cushion front.

This is for Fran, I was going to make a log cabin back for it but when searching for the white I found these.

These were the scraps from some projects at least 2 years ago sewn into HST as leaders and enders, the little pile on the left are still pinned.

All sewn now, the small pile on the left are trimmed to 2 1/2", I have left the trimmings so you can see there is very little wastage. All of this was new fabric and even at sale price ( I tend to mainly buy in the sales) I hate to waste a smidgeon.

I will finish this job when it cools down a bit and lay out ready to sew tomorrow.
It is too hot to eat much, I rustled around and found some almost crisp celery, scrubbed and dunked into iced water and it was  soon revived. Some natural yogurt and crushed garlic with chopped herbs, Yummy.

I did have the heel of a loaf of bread with it and a smallish bit of cake for pudding and enjoyed every mouthfull.

I walked past "Cherry on Top" mid afternoon, they make amazing cakes and do a good range of home made food, the heat was rolling out of the door and there was a family group eating inside. I do not know how they could do it, the sun was full on the front of the building and I would estimate that the temp inside was well over 30c.

Ben is loving the sun and if I did not watch him he would follow the sun round and lie in it all day.

Back to the lovely Hilary, when sewing all those Thangles I remembered watching a Missouri Quilt Company tutorial, Jenny wqas sewing WOF strips together down both long edges then using a 90 degree triangle ruler to cut the strips. When opened up they were perfect HST, WOO HOO.  OOOPS I do not have such ruler. Solution, ring Hilary and ask,   YES Result she has one and will bring it home with her, how about that for service. It is a double win for me as not only have I saved petrol, I also did not swelter in the car and I did no impulse buying. When surrounded by haberdashery and fabric reason flies out the window PDQ.

Reasons to be grateful

1.  The hazel nuts are looking good, I see no predation by squirrels.

2.  My celery and dip was delicious.

3.  I am almost half way through a cushion for Fran and have enough precut and sewn squares to make a second.

4.  I have a new ruler to try out, that will save time.

5.  I have had no significant pain for 3 days.

I will be at the vet with Ben tomorrow morning his skin is improving but very slowly. While in Ponty I will pick up some more compost for seeds sewing and plants. I will also pop into Tesco and put some squash and juice in the food bank bin, I am drinking much more in this heat and I guess most people will if they can. I will put a pack of milk in as well and maybe some tinned fruit.

I must get sewing, there is a lot of fabric to get through and the days are slipping away.

    TTFN                                             Pam

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Another Spendy Day

I have been pulling fabric from all over the house over the past few weeks and my storage shelves were fast going into overload.Last Saturday, while Fran and I were looking round Crosshands we found a junk shop full of furniture. Today I went back and found a cabinet, it may get a facelift at some point but for now I need it in action.  

I have transferred the fabric from the shelves on one side of the fireplace, as you can see I am low on reds on the bottom left and blacks and greys on the top left and browns next to them.
The base is full interfacing and some cushion pads. I will be moving larger bolts of fabric onto the white shelves. Thtop will be home to tins and boxes of various items, buttons, ribbons and so on.

My tomatoes are growing albeit slowly, I will make a much earlier start next year.

I found that zips are an awful price in all the shops I have visited, the other day I ordered some online and they arrived today. A 9" zip cost me 52p so I have a few in stock now I also bought a 22" for a large cushion and 2 transparent ones. I more than saved the postage and will be using the company again.

I have not touched my new toy, I will but there is a list of jobs that need doing before I play.

It is very hot here with very little air movement so I am pacing myself. I will be going to Cardigan at the weekend with curtains and cushions for the new house. By that point it should be mostly sorted, James was grumbling about Modem Leads this morning, luckily I know nothing of such things.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  More sun, I know some  people are suffering but wait till November, they will all be saying how they wish it was hot like July.

2.  I have salad for dinner, and lots of it.

3.  I did a stock take today and should not need to shop for a while.

4.  I watched a tutorial from the Missouri Quilt Company today, a fabulous bag that I want to try.

5.  I have my pattern sorted for Fran's skirt and will cut it out later.

I do like the heat but have to be careful as I burn very quickly, I slap on the factor 50 and wear a sun hat, thick white cotton to reflect the rays a bit. I do see people out with lots of uncovered flesh and you can see them turning from pink to fuschia and red. with all the publicity I can not understand why anyone would take the chance. Skin cancer kills, and if it does not kill it disfigures.

I will be out for a longer walk with Ben later, he does not need to be out in the heat for long either, dogs get sun burnt as well.

I still have bolts of fabric to refold and get on the shelves, I am going to try very hard not to build up stock like this again once I have run it down with my challenge. I have just realised that the Seasonal fabrics are untouched as yet, they may have to stay where they are till October.

I forgot to say my cupboard was £20, a real bargain, solid wood and heavy glass doors

              TTFN                                          Pam

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Not a Frugal Day.

A warm welcome to Nannastitch, I hope you enjoy the trip.

I do try not to waste a penny, I like to stretch a pound till it squeals, and then give it one more pull for luck. What I buy is not about what I CAN afford, but what I WILL afford. I bought 3 fillet steaks for £5 , they were reduced from £11 so were a good buy but.....I could have bought a whole chicken or a pork shoulder joint and the veg for that price. However I do like a Stroganoff and Beef Wellington and will get 4 meals from these 3 steaks. The biggest will stretch to Stroganoff for 2 and then I will make 2 individual Wellingtons. I will find RTC mushrooms and get them sliced and frozen ready to go with both dishes and will make the puff pastry. The rice is from AF and I will use a slug of the supermarket brandy that is for my puddings and mincemeat for " that time of year" ( I will not use the C word in July) I will use double cream, I buy it at RTC price, whip it very slightly and freeze in ice cube trays. Result 2 special dinners at as least cost as possible.

I went to Swansea to look at overlockers, I have never used one but had so much faff  zig zag sewing the seams when making my Duvet Cover Skirts that I vowed to buy one. I know that they range from £120 or so up to "How Bluddy Much" so I kept an open mind and a firmly shut purse. I went to Cliffords in Western Street and the owner was very helpful, he steered me away from the all singing all dancing £800 upwards models and equally from the less suitable but relatively cheap ones. This is what I bought.

It came ready threaded, most important, complete with book and DVD, not too helpful. I bought 4 large reels of thread, and he rounded them down by 75p each. I spent more than I liked to but I have a good, reliable machine and a back up support service.
 I am also considering buying an embroidery machine, he recommends the Brother as being much more versatile than the make I had in mind and sent me away with a pile of brochures to read and details of a website or three to look up. He would not sell me one today as he said I need to do a bit of research and decide exactly how much I feel that I would use it.

I went into a cut price fabric store and was completely overwhelmed by the mountains of rolls and bolts stacked everywhere, it was like being in the chocolate biscuit aisle in a giant shop, so much to choose from that I could not choose at all. I did buy 2 metres of a muted pale green dot to use for binding, when I use it I will share.

The middle of Swansea was a nightmare to drive in and I got home feeling decidedly cream crackered, I had a snack of a homemade oatbread roll with garlic sausage and salad and a snooze while my tea went cold, I drunk it as soon as I woke up.

 I gave Ben his bath and took him for an amble while he dried off in the sunshine. Then I came back, pepped dinner and read through Chickpea,s blog, I have book marked a couple of recipes and will be sorting the stuff out to make a rag rug. 

Dinner was a beef casserole with loads of root veg and I steamed some baby potatoes, cauli and calabrese, lovely grub.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  Once again it has been sunny.

2.  I managed to drive into the middle of Swansea and back without pulling my hair out.

3.  I have a new toy to play with and get to know.

4.  I will have a big roll of binding all made and ready to roll soon.

5.  I have peppers on my plants.

You may have noticed  the plants in the background of my overlocker photo.

This one is a red pepper which is used to make paprika, I use masses of that spice and will save seeds for more plants next year.

This is a red chili of an unknown variety, it is loaded with fruit, I will save seeds from this as well and I will try to overwinter the plant.
If you look through the window you can see the stump that my new neighbour left when he cut the holly down. The growth that he cut is still piled in his garden along with the branches that he cut off the big tree further back. The leaning fence marks the boundary, there is a walk way behind the houses but nobody uses it so far. The little bit of building jutting out is the utility area off my kitchen, very handy for storing all the laundry gubbins. When I get round to it I will take some photo's of the house.

I am off now, Ben wants a walk and I need tea.

      TTFN                                       Pam


Monday 21 July 2014

Monday and the house seems empty.

Fran has gone back to Beckenham and the house is so quiet without her, even Ben has hidden himself away in disgust. It will n ot be long before she is back though, the last week in August she has a week booked off and wants to fit in a weekend before then.
We had a good time while she was here, we went to Crosshands on Saturday to the fabric and haberdashery shop, Isabeau Inspirations to have a look for fabric. Fran wants me to make her some skirts, she found 2 patterns that she likes.

The "blue" is really Teal and a gorgeous colour, the little owls are as cute as can be.
Hayley, who owns the shop is very nice and lives a few yards away from me on the other side of the road.

On Sunday we went to Swansea and went into Hobbycraft, I have to say that I was not over impressed by the fabric area, very small and over priced. However Fran found some fabric for another skirt.

No pressure but she would like to wear this next Saturday.

I found some mixed buttons for £5, my button tin was getting very low.

We went to Dunelm Mills and I found this basket, I will be replacing the lining, for £6, I love it. I was going to buy one next time I was in Cardigan but they start at £30 there, I like £6 much better.

Here is the fourth 18" cushion for James and Cerys, I think that brings my total of stash makes up to 12 but will check later. I have some 12" to make and 2 bigger ones then I will be full on with skirts I think. Before that I will have to have a mega sort out in the sewing/dining room, there is not a suare inch of surface without fabric, pins, clips, scissors or something on it. Things were so bad at one point that there was no room for my tea. disaster. I had to have a 2 minute blitz.

Now that is out of the way I have new followers to welcome, Mornings Minion, Chickpea, Susan Davies, Oh Pioneer,Donna Perry,Gwen Cauldwell and Lynne Lewis, then there those of you on Bloglovin that I do not know how to find. If anyone can point me in the right direction I would be grateful. I rather think that I will be looking at some new blogs a bit later on.
I better cut the grass first or I will not be able to get to the washing whirlygig.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  More lovely sunshine.

2.  Baby toms on my plants.

3.  Radishes going to seed for the peppery pods.

4.  Lots of pretty fabric for sewing.

5.  I was able to go to Tesco and drop a load of long life milk into the food bank collection point.

The baby toms are really tiny, but they will grow. I love radish seed pods in a salad, they burst in your mouth and explode with flavour. I will not be counting Fran's skirts in my challenge as they have not come from my stash. I will be adding all the scraps to it though.
I was told that there is always a shortage of milk at the food banks and indeed there were several boxes of cereals but only 1 pint of milk on Saturday. I do not shop that often but will try to drop a 6 pack off every time.

It is now well gone 5 and still too hot to cut grass, I may have some dinner first, Ben needs a decent walk and it will have to wait till it cools down.

Tea time now.

     TTFN                                                           Pam

Sunday 20 July 2014

Sunday Sewing and a request for help.

I have completed another cushion for James and Cerys,

 I know that it is neither HST,s or Rail Fence. Yet again I have pulled finished blocks from my stash. These are 6" blocks that I made 2 years ago while in Wales and when I dug them out I decided that they were a good contrast to the last 2.
I pulled some scrappy patchwork at the same time and that will become cushion number 4. Then Francesca would like a cushion and I found some 12" blocks that I will turn into 3 small cushions, possibly for myself.

Now for my cry for help.
A couple of weeks or so ago Fran sent me details of an on line site that made skirts from unusual/original fabrics. I had a look and queried the design, they looked very bunched up at the waist. Fran went ahead and ordered one in the Alice in Wonderland print, when it arrived she rang me and said that it did not hang like the ones on the website. I just said bring it with you and I will have a look.

As you can see the printed panel is not level at the seam.

While the quality of the panel is quite good the rest is very poor quality, I would never buy such thin flimsy stuff.
As for the skirt itself, all it is is a 2 metre length with 1 seam, turned over at the top and sewn leaving a slot with ribbon threaded through it. My question is does anyone know of a pattern that I could use for a skirt, keeping all the 2 mtr panel (I have decent fabric for the top) without having all the gathers at the waist. Francesca is petite and only needs a 22" length, the panel is 8" finished length so there is a deal of fabric to lose in a 14" drop.
I have seen skirts in a border print but they are all very full, my A line skirt pattern looks good on Fran but the panel would be out of shape if I used it
Lots of you make wonderful clothes and I would love any help or advice that you can send me.
Now that I have read that through, it seems an impossible task. I do not think that keeping the full panel is a viable option, but I will wait to see what comes back to me.

 Reasons to be grateful.

1.  Another overnight rain, no need to water the garden today.

2.  Glorious sunshine all day.

3. 2 loads of laundry done and dried on the line.

4.  Meatloaf for dinner. NO NO not the singer.

5.  Fresh Pineapple for pudding. (45p each RTC)

I do like pineapple but it is usually so pricey but I snapped up 2 at that price, I also got 5 peaches and 5 nectarine for 90p the lot.

Dinner is smelling good and it is time to put the cauli cheese in the oven, the jacket potatoes may need shunting up a shelf as well.
Ben has a new toy, a simple hard ball on a piece of rope. It is bright pink but he does not care, he has great fun chasing it and when he has had enough he carries it around instead of bringing it back to be thrown.
I hope you are all enjoying your weekend as much as I am mine.

      TTFN                                                           Pam.