Sunday 30 September 2012

Patchwork and Quilting

Stewart has a corner of the living room where he likes to sit and read or use his laptop and he recently bought a new side table for his "corner"... somewhere to leave said laptop. But because he doesn't want to scratch his new table he has taken to using an old tea towel as a table mat. It looks very classy, let me tell you! It then occured to me that I might make a smart new table mat and I could then remove the old tea towel. A little project for a Saturday afternoon...
Now regular readers will know I don't really "do" patchwork and quilting but I do have a stash of patchwork fabrics (don't ask why... I just do.) However when I went to find my stash of fabrics they were in such a sorry mess I didn't have a hope in hell of finding what I wanted. Several hours of brandishing an iron later (and I don't "do" ironing either) my fabrics were all neatly sorted... and it was Saturday evening. So much for my Saturday afternoon project. But I did find the fabrics I was looking for... these rather gorgeous Kaffe Fassett Indian cottons that I bought years ago. 

So up bright and breezy this morning I consulted my extensive quilting library of two books (double the number since I last attempted patchwork) as I had a vague memory of log cabin patchwork being quite easy when you know how... and are familiar with the tricks of foundation piecing.

I even dug out my never ever used walking foot that came free with my first Bernina.

And just a few hours later using foundation piecing (so brilliantly easy... no measuring or accurate seams required)...

I finished a table mat... and for the second time in a week I'm pretty darn pleased with myself.

Especially as it is my first ever attempt at machine quilting.

I'll even dare to show you the reverse and my binding.

And best of all, it fits the table and has met with approval... and the tea towel has been banished back to the airing cupboard.

I'm now thinking matching cushions... what do you reckon?

Friday 28 September 2012

Nice Buns

I do like a nice bun!
So after this week's episode of the Great British Bake Off I couldn't wait to try Danny's Bakewell inspired Chelsea Buns. Not only did they sound scrumptious but it seemed an ideal solution to Joe's permanent quest for food... something to keep him filled up between meals!
So I was disappointed to find that the recipe was not on the website the following morning. However by tweaking a Chelsea Bun recipe and replacing the filling with an almond paste and glace cherries I came up with these.

I admit I was pretty darn pleased!
By Bake Off standards they would have failed... every single one of them a different size and I'm sure I would have been told they'd been over-proved or something similarly technical... but as Sam pointed out, I don't have the judges in my kitchen so it doesn't matter...

Although if Mr Hollywood would like to come round to tell me I've got wonky buns or a soggy bottom I wouldn't turn him away!

And as Stewart said... if they weren't different sizes how else could he get to choose the biggest one?

And they did taste pretty good... like a cherry bakewell in a bun!

It was very hard to stop at just one, which was just as well as they tasted much better fresh on the day they were baked.

But even the very few, slightly stale remaining buns weren't wasted... they made a rather good bread and butter pudding.
Truely scrumptious all round really... buns, pudding and Mr Hollywood!

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Back to Normal?

I suppose blogging is like anything else in that if you get into the habit of doing it regularly it becomes almost second nature. But start slipping out of that habit and it is easy to forget all about it. With all the disruption to our family life over the summer in one way or another, I've slipped out of the habit of blogging and it has started to feel like too much of an effort... just one more thing to have to think about. But I do miss it and especially miss that connection with fellow bloggers.
So as I start  to settle back into something of a more normal routine, so I hope I'll regain that blogging habit. Part of that "normal routine" has meant getting back to work and this past weekend I have spent a lovely few days with the ladies of the South Devon branch of the Embroiderer's Guild in Paignton.

You might be fooled into thinking that I was running a knitting class from the photo above but it was actually a machine embroidery class with fouteen very lovely ladies from the Guild.

And each one of them produced a beautiful little machine textured landscape. Most of them still needed some finishing off but I'm sure you'll agree they all did a brilliant job... especially as this is a class I usually teach over a couple of days.

The following day I came back to give a talk to the group and the ladies brought back their landscapes to show to those who weren't at the workshop. Liz had actually put hers (pictured above) into a frame and it looked fabulous.

Each one different and unique. Each one beautiful.

It was a lovely weekend and I was thoroughly spoiled.
I stayed with my friend Diana (pictured knitting on the left in the photo above) and her husband and was treated to some wonderful food, fabulous company and a mini tour of the area around Dartmouth where the scenery is quite stunning.

It's no wonder really that these little landscapes are so inspired when the ladies live in such a beautiful part of the country.

Everyone was so kind and welcoming and I was given such an enthusiastic reception to both my workshop and the talk, that it has done my self confidence the power of good.

Even before the summer I was having doubts about my work, about what I wanted to be doing next.

But this weekend has helped restore my confidence in what I do and I know I would miss teaching if I gave it all up.
So thank you ladies of the South Devon Embroiderer's Guild...

and thank you Diana and Les.

It's good to feel things getting back to "normal."

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Messing About on the River

It's my Mum's birthday at the weekend but I won't be around as I'm in Devon for a few days at the end of this week with the Embroiderer's Guild. So as an early birthday treat, yesterday we took her punting on the River Cam. 

 This is Sam's second season as a Cambridge "Punt Pusher" and I'm convinced you won't find a more entertaining tour of those Cambridge Colleges that span the river (yes I know I'm biased but it's true.)

We had almost a full hour of history, folklore and quite possibly a fair bit of Sam's own brand of fiction thrown in for good measure. (Does the Dean of Horticulture really visit Clare College to mow the lawn?)

He kept us captivated and entertained for the entire tour.

I'm still not entirely sure which bits are true and which are fiction... but it doesn't really matter. After all, a good story is a good story, true or otherwise and we all laughed an awful lot.

If you ever fancy taking a punt tour in Cambridge... be sure to go to the "Cambridge Punting Co." on Quayside... and ask for Sam!

Sunday 16 September 2012

New Shoes

There hasn't been much by way of new work or creativity round here of late.
Nothing much new since the beginning of June if I'm going to be perfectly honest.

But I'm taking one day at a time and hope that when I'm ready there will be new ideas and new work.

Meanwhile, I've been back to work this week with some teaching and making a couple of things for an exhibition that opens next week.

A couple of pairs of paper shoes made entirely from recycled paper, card, lace, trims and buttons.

You can see them at
Haddenham Galleries near Ely
22nd Sept - 4th Nov
The Craft of Turning Rubbish into Art

"Dancing Shoes"

"Walking Shoes"

Saturday 15 September 2012

This year...

Steeple Morden.
Next year...


Probably not... my Victoria Sandwich

and Cottage Loaf both remained unplaced.

But let me tell you... the competition is quite ruthless in these little English villages. It's rolling pins at dawn come Harvest Fair time!

Sunday 9 September 2012

Starlight Walk

Last night Gill and I completed our Starlight walk. At an hour that was way past my usual bedtime (even for a Saturday night) we ventured out onto the unlit streets of Letchworth Garden City along with about 400 other women.
Armed with water, bags of sweets and torches we chatted and laughed our way around the ten mile route. I managed to keep up with Gill all the way even though she has got much longer legs than me! We were guided on our way by a fabulous team of male volunteers who stood and marshalled all evening (including my lovely husband) - a huge thank you to all of them. There were the inevitable few Saturday night drunks but no one offensive... and we forgave the one chap who told us to hurry up because he did address us as girls. We weren't the oldest doing the walk but we were certainly in the older age range!

Despite that we were among the first group back to the leisure centre for a welcome cuppa and Danish pastry... at about 2.30 am. It never tasted so good!

A huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored us. I've managed to raise over £1100 for the Garden House Hospice which far exceded my target of £250. I really am grateful for every single penny. And my Just Giving page stays open until December should you still fancy making a donation.
Thank you too for all your kind messages. It has been quite a summer one way or another but I'm hoping normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.