Thursday, 28 May 2009

Three Hundred!

Unbelievably this is my 300th post... how did I ever find time to write so many words? I wasn't sure what it would turn out to be when I first started this blog almost two years ago. I had a vague notion it would be a journal of my progress through my degree but as many of you will know there is comparatively little about the degree or my embroidery but an awful lot of baking, family life and teaching... which is probably a far more accurate representation of my life! It is self indulgent, allowing me to look back over events of the past couple of years (have I really made that many cakes???), it has made me several new friends, some of you still "imaginery" but others very real and most of all it has felt like a happy place. Lately though it has felt like a bit of a chore at times and I feel this is a good time for a break. I've a busy couple of weeks ahead with teaching, I start a new degree module on Monday and feel I need to devote more time to developing my own work.

But first of all a thank you and a giveaway... Huge thanks must go to Michaela for making fifteen wonderful wiggly bags all in fabulous cheery fabrics that I know will be much appreciated by their recipients. If you would like to know more about wiggly bags then follow the link. Please feel free to email me for instructions if you would like to make some.

I couldn't go without some baking... Apple and cinnamon muffins made this morning with a jar of Bramley Apple sauce that was lurking in the back of the fridge on the wrong side of its sell by date!

And the giveaway... I have made some more felt chocolates and thought these might be fun to give as a prize.

But then perhaps I should give something with a bit of machine embroidery so thought about this lutradur and felt covered notebook...

But I can't decide which...

So I have decided to give them both away...
If you would like a chance of winning either the chocolates or the notebook leave me a comment telling me which one you would like by 7th June... regular readers or new visitors I don't mind. I will then perform the customary draw and announce the winners on the 8th June. I'll be gone at least until then... and maybe a bit longer until my blogging mojo returns. The last time I took a break it only lasted 10 days so I doubt I'll stay away very long. And I'll still be visiting to see what you are all up to....

Monday, 25 May 2009

All's Well

Thank you all so much for your kind messages and well wishes. I haven't had time to reply to them all but every one was read and appreciated. Our day started yesterday with a call to the vet to hear that Barley had had a good night, was off his drip, all blood tests were negative and he was eating again. They wanted to keep him in a bit longer to see how he coped but it was looking good. Which meant that we were able to relax and enjoy our party. Perfect weather meant we could be outside - a lovely day with family, friends, sunshine and good food.

The published author and birthday boy had a good day too - lots of people brought along a copy of his book for him to sign.

And even I managed to sit down and relax... not something I do often!

Of course it wouldn't be a birthday without cake... so there were birthday brownies.

And at Sam's request, coffee and walnut cake - individual sized!

When most people had gone home there was another call to the vet and we were told Barley could come home. He's still on four lots of medicine (fun and games getting that into him this morning!) and a very bland diet and has to go back to the vet tomorrow. But overall he's much better, glad be home and enjoyed a snooze in the last of the evening sunshine last night. It's good to have him home.

p.s. Next post is my 300th... you know what that means!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Very Poorly

Joe came home in the early hours last night and found a bit of a mess on the floor. He cleaned it up and very kindly left us a note...

By the time we got up and found the note Barley was very poorly indeed. He'd been very sick and had passed a lot of blood. After rushing him to the vet he was admitted to the animal hospital to be put on a drip and have tests. They are hoping it is just a tummy upset but it could be something serious.

I had all sorts of photos this week of sewing finished, cakes baked and plants growing, not to mention some lovely work from students but somehow I don't feel much like blogging about them now. Meanwhile I've got to get back to the kitchen as we've thirty people here for lunch tomorrow... a bit of a celebration for Sam for the publication of his book and because it's his birthday on Monday. I don't feel much like celebrating though... hope I'm back next week with good news.

Monday, 18 May 2009


Making a sock monster for a new baby, not yet arrived, has required some consideration. First of all - what to do about the eyes? Buttons won't do... but some heavily stitched felt should fit the bill and not come unattached.

And what about colour? Traditional baby pastels perhaps? Neither pink nor blue but lemon and lavender, gentle soothing colours?

Or possibly more intense pastels combining pink and blue?

Or perhaps something really bright and eye catching? Babies like bright colours, don't they?

Unable to decide... I've made all three!

Soft and gentle

Slightly bright and whacky

Or all out bonkers!

I think I know which one is my favourite but which would you choose? No names yet either... all suggestions welcome.

Any of these take your fancy Jude?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

According to Plan

Don't you love it when everything goes according to plan. Saturday was spent with the Young Embroiderers. Due to a couple of the girls getting Saturday jobs and another couple of families moving away (... or maybe it's just me that's put them off???) we only had five of our members turn up. But it was still a good session and these are their holiday postcards:

Danijela and Alexsija (who happen to be twins) both made ice creams.

Nikki made a snazzy pair of sunglasses... don't you just love the crab with its little beady eyes?

Quentin, who is only 11, was really nervous about using the sewing machine as he'd never done it before. After literally only 5 minutes showing him how it worked, he not only attempted regular sewing but was free machining too... look at those fabulous waves! He even called his boat "Bernina" and wrote it on the side in free machining.

And Molly, our youngest member made a picnic on the beach.

Today, there was plenty of work done in the garden as planned and I've finally planted up two of my vegetable beds. There are peas and garlic... (okay... those are marigolds too!)

As well as French beans. The courgettes and sweet corn are hardening off and seeds are sown for radish, lettuce, spinach, kale, beetroot and carrot. Now's the difficult bit... waiting for everything to grow!

And when the rain showers forced me inside there was even some baking done... date and walnut muffins which weren't half bad!

There was also some sock creature creations but they're not quite finished so you can't see those yet... maybe tomorrow.

Not being able to take another single day let alone One Hundred Years of Solitude, this is going to be my bedtime reading for tonight...

I've got to do something while I wait for those seeds to grow!

Friday, 15 May 2009

I Love Ripples

Thank you for all the very kind get well messages which seem to have done the trick. One advantage of feeling under the weather was an enforced day on the sofa yesterday, watching old films (sadly no Richard Gere)... which meant I finished my ripple blanket!

I started it with some Rowan DK wool left over from the spotty cushion, knitted about two years ago. I ran out of yarn pretty quickly and invested in another half dozen skeins... and then some more... and then even more. It used masses more yarn than I ever envisaged and as a result I hate to think what this blanket has cost but I do like it... very much! It will live in my lounge to keep me warm in the evening while I work on another blanket!

It looks pretty good on my messy bed too! (The lumps underneath are piles of clothes!)

Did I tell you how much I like it??? I love it!

Today I'm still coughing and spluttering but feel much better... definitely only a cold and nothing to do with pigs. Which is just as well as tomorrow I've got the Young Embroiderers. They are going to be making fabric postcards with a holiday theme for a competition to be held at the Embroiderers' Guild regional day in Bedford in July. I thought I'd better make a sample first to make sure I knew what I was doing. Looking forward to seeing what the youngsters come up with.

Have a lovely weekend! I plan to be in the garden in between YE and rain showers.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Honest Things

A little while ago Jill awarded me this blog honest award. Obviously as with any blog what you read is an edited version of my life but I do like to think that what I do choose to share is honest. As with any award there are rules which I won't play by... I'm not passing it on but I will attempt to list 10 honest things about myself.

1. My Favourite Film ... I like films, old films, new films, sad films, happy films but if I'm being honest my favourite is still An Officer and a Gentleman. If you have read my profile you'll know I'm the first to admit this is very cheesy... but Richard Gere... on a motorbike... in that uniform... I love it!

2. I am reading... One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Sam bought it for me for Mother's Day so I feel I must read it, but I'm struggling through. The reviews say things like "required reading for the entire human race" and "The greatest novel in any language in the last fifty years" but I just don't get it!

3. I am listening to.. Hunky Dory by David Bowie. Still love it after all these years!

4. My favourite item of clothing... does footwear count? My lollipop shoes!

5. My favourite holiday... I'm lucky enough to have visited some beautiful and interesting places but Stewart and I went to the Maldives for our honeymoon and that has to be the most stunning place. The sea really was that colour, the sun shone, we snorkelled and saw the most amazing sea life and we were just so relaxed... it was fabulous!

6. I am messy... I hate being messy, I wish I wasn't messy but I am as you can see from the following two pictures of my workroom... I am very messy. Maybe this will shame me into tidying up?

7. The last thing I ate... was a raspberry muffin.

8. My pet hate... is sand, especially sandy feet (unless I'm in the Maldives!) This would be my idea of hell. These are not my feet I hasten to add!

Photo from Google images

9. My luxury item... would be freshly laundered cotton bedlinen every day. No photo for this because I don't have freshly laundered bedlinen! In fact my bed is very messy (See no. 6 above!)

10. I'm feeling... horrible! I've got a bunged up head, I'm running a temperature, I ache all over and I'm coughing, so if you'll excuse me I'm off to my messy bed.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Jazz it Up

A little while ago I gave a sneaky peak of some work done by Zigzag, the group that I mentor. The exhibition of their work was on Saturday as part of a larger quilt exhibition at Haberdasher's School in Elstree and now I can show you the pieces in full. This was a group exercise based on a painting by Canadian artist Eric Waugh called Jazz it Up. A copy of the painting was cut into six pieces and each member of the group was given a piece. They were then given free rein to use this as inspiration in any way they wished the only restraint being they all had to be the same size. They've worked in sketchbooks, made samples and developed themes and as you can see they've come up with six very different interpretations.

The first one is by Ann and I think this is called Drum Beat and is incredibly effective... you can feel the drum beat!

The one below is by Lynda and involves lots of stitched metal so has a wonderful rich, sumptious feel.

This is by Joan and has a fabulous embellished background.

This is Bernice's picture which has lovely 3D spirals and a very delicate feeling about it.

Sandy's has gorgeous layers of sheer fabric cut back to reveal glowing colours

And last but not least is Lynne's which was based on the devestating effects of hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans and is full of amazing detail and wonderful stitching.

I think they all did really well in interpreting the theme in six such different ways, the work looked fabulous hung together and I look forward to them exhibiting together again. Well done ladies.