8 November 2010

THE BETTER TIMES ARE JUST AROUND THE CORNER

It's been really really difficult over the last eight or nine weeks as my (comfortable) job unexpectedly ended after over twelve years.  At first I was panicking - knowing that financially I HAD to get another job.  Then I began to feel more calm about it, after visiting a couple of agencies and being told that my CV was excellent and that I should have no problem in finding work.  Today I went for an interview for a long term temporary assignment and was asked to start TOMORROW!  I am so RELIEVED and excited!!

It's been impossible to find the inclination to blog over this time.  Our pre-arranged holiday to Crete was completely spoiled by worry and the feeling that I just needed to be at home job-hunting.  If I tried to talk about it I just became really upset, so had to bottle it all up inside.  Those people I did tell just kept assuring me that it was for the best and that it would all work out in the end; they were right - but oh boy it was really hard to see that from where I was.

Things have not been helped by John being ill yet again - we had an interesting visit to Neapoli hospital whilst we were away - I must say they were super efficient there after the cleaner finally managed to find someone to help - they were all outside having a smoke and a coffee when we arrived!  Thankfully he is also on the mend again.

So here I am, back again.  Thanks to all of you who have asked what happened to me and for your patience in still following the blog.  I will try to post at least once a month from now on, though it depends on how busy I am at work.

Currently I'm getting some stock together for my next craft fair in Melbourne, having been making the most of not being at work and trying to do something useful which will help pay the bills.  This vision of loveliness is so pretty I want to keep it for myself!  I just LOVE this fabric, with sunflowers inside and out.



On our second day in Crete we were greeted by torrential rain which poured down the track outside our house like a river.  People just don't go out in that sort of weather for fear of being washed over the side of a cliff!  The weather was pretty mixed really but mostly fine then, until our last night, when we were awoken at 2am by the most violent thunderstorm I have ever witnessed, even in the Mediterranean.  I then realised that our bed was surrounded by water - somehow the rain had leaked in through the roof in a couple of places and was several inches deep on my side of the bed!  One advantage of not working in a school will be that we can have our holidays earlier in the year when the weather is more settled.  I've more tales to tell about Crete but that will have to wait until next time.

For any readers who might be local to Derbyshire, come along to Melbourne Artists and Makers Craft Fair on November 27th - I'll see you there!





15 September 2010

Book Review, New Bags, Scrap Delights

Anyone interested in my review of The Bag Making Bible can read it here.  I've also posted about some lovely new bags here.

A friend very kindly gave me a big bag of 'old clothes' yesterday, which I spent all evening cutting up and ironing and am left with this lovely little stash, which also includes some 'gifts' from other friends, some clothes my daughter has discarded and even a piece of ironing board cover!  I love recycling!!


My next challenge is to think of something to do with all this fabric...any ideas ladies?  I thought of adding it to my hexagon quilt but I really want to get a border on that and finish it off - it's plenty big enough for what I intended and I've already put some of these fabrics into it.  Quite truthfully, I'm a bit disappointed in how it has turned out, I think I should have planned it better before I started.  I've been tempted to take it all apart and start again but can't see that happening somehow :-)



I'm also going to begin on a 'new' quilt at last.  I've decided on the design and I have all the fabric - just need to actually find time to begin now!  The design is based on different sizes and variations of Ohio Star, one of my favourite blocks.  Can't wait to get started now!  I'll be posting as I go along.

There's a definite nip of autumn in the air here now, I love this time of year when the trees start to turn golden and there's dew on the ground in the mornings.  Hopefully it will be a fine and sunny season this year.

6 September 2010

BAGS OF EXCITEMENT!

Woooohoooo!! I'm really excited to have been chosen to review Lisa Lam's new book 'The Bag Making Bible' and my copy arrived in the post this morning.  I met Lisa at the Festival of Quilts in August at the NEC while she was signing copies of the book and was really impressed with it.  I am really going to enjoy working my way through some of the patterns.

I made this bag at the weekend from one of Lisa's free patterns on her great blog U-handblog and I really liked using proper handles, rather than the fabric ones I normally use.  I also put bag feet on this one and made it with a firm bottom.  The bag sides use two layers of interfacing and a layer of interlining, so they are very firm.  Lisa also sells all the necessary equipment for bag making on her website, which is a fantastic resource.


This bag is from a pattern by Lula Louise, I've made a few using this particular pattern and still really enjoy making them and ringing the changes with a few different embellishments.  This one is in a lovely linen fabric with my own applique design on the front and the addition of an inside pocket.


My poor little girl went down to Cornwall this week for a short camping holiday.  They arrived on Sunday morning, the weather was not too bad.  Overnight however it rained very heavily, their tent leaked and EVERYTHING in it got really wet through.  Consequently they are driving back today because the weather is forecast to be heavy rain all week and their tent is obviously not up to the job.  It is a real shame because she wanted to stay on the campsite where we spent ten years' happy summer family holidays - albeit lots of wet ones!

30 August 2010

A BANK HOLIDAY DAY OUT AND THE SUN KEPT SHINING!


As today was bank holiday Monday we decided to head out and do something different.  I had heard of The Beetroot Tree through the Head of Art at the school where I work and, as John likes painting and I like arty quilts we thought we'd go and have a look.  It was an unexpected surprise, in the quiet and pleasant village of Draycott, just six miles out of Derby.

The gallery is welcoming and attractive, the first floor and mezzanine completely given over to exhibits of contemporary art and craft (including a few bags and corsages!)  There were rugs, paintings, mixed media, ceramics, glass and jewellery, some fabric crafts.  The ground floor is a cafe which serves delicious coffees, cakes and cooked meals.  Outside there's a stable building which houses workshops and today they were doing beading and jewellery making.  The garden was pretty impressive too and very peaceful to walk around.

This was a bit of sculpture lurking in the shrubbery - I thought it was quite interesting...


A pretty archway with lights which looked like dandelion clocks.


The old stable where they do the workshops.


This is the cafe.  Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to photograph any of the exhibits upstairs.


A small section of the art shop housed next to the cafe - they had so much stuff but unfortunately we wouldn't have known what to do with most of it!


You've seen these little Kune Kune piglets before - we went back for another look to see how they'd grown.



Time for a little nap!


And on the way home we passed Pride Park Stadium, home of Derby County Football Club.  A few days ago they erected this bronze statue of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor - football legends in this area.  It's very impressive.  I took the photo from the car as we drove past, you may get a better look if you click on it.

22 August 2010

NEW STASH...AND MORE FROM THE FESTIVAL OF QUILTS

One of my 'to do' projects for the future is to make a really colourful scrappy quilt - the sort that makes you want to reach for the sunglasses!  Well, before I went fabric shopping on Friday, I took a closer look at my stash to see what I might need for my next quilt and realised that most of what I already have is green and, not only that, it's mostly medium shades. So I deliberately stayed away from medium greens and medium prints at the Fabric Guild and added a few light and neutral shades which would blend in with what I have already.  I do see some khaki and medium red print lurking at one end though... and quite a few of these tiny prints have some green in them...


These music prints caught my eye too and I had to have some plain white and black to go with them...


I do love the Fabric Guild - some of these fabrics only cost £2 and £3 per yard and they're American quilting cottons.  If you live within a day out of Leicester I can't recommend it enough for a crafty day out.  Get a party together, it would be well worth it!  You have to become a member on your first visit but, at £5 for life membership, it's well worthwhile.  They also sell online but you really need to go there to find all the bargains.

I still don't seem to have enough of the bright and cheerful colours I need for my big scrap quilt so I've decided on a (slightly green) sampler quilt, which is another of my quilty ambitions.  Meanwhile, the scrap drawer is filling up slowly.

Here are a few more Festival of Quilts photos - there's a lot of green in those too!






Ooops I didn't crop this one, sorry :-)  Click on the photos and you'll get a much better view of them. 

Must go now to cut up some fabric...

20 August 2010

Festival of Quilts 2010

I had a fab day at the Quilt Festival yesterday.  I met up with the lovely Loulee and her mum, who had flown over from the Isle of Man for the day.  What friendly people they are, they immediately invited me to join them as I had gone on my own.  I was very restrained with my purchasing, just a few reels of cotton thread which were a surprisingly good price.  I didn't buy ANY fabric at all because I'm off to the Fabric Guild this morning to take a look at their one day sale...

I took over 60 photos at the Festival. Enjoy just a few and be inspired!  If bags and jackets are your thing then I've posted a couple of pictures on my other blog.








Here are Loulee and her mum having a closer look at the stitching...

11 August 2010

HIGHFIELDS HAPPY HENS!

I've been out with a couple of friends this morning to a place near where I live called Highfields Happy Hens.  It is a community project, which has been going for a few years now and aims to help disadvantaged young people by offering the chance to live and work in a loving environment.  They are an open farm and have lots of animals besides hens.  There were a few new arrivals which I wanted to show you...



These little piglets are brand new and they are for sale!



This is a face only a mother could love!


Whaddaya mean!


Wendy and her nephew collected a few eggs, they were still warm.


Another baby



And another one

If you're ever in the area, I can recommend it for a visit with the kids (or without)!

9 August 2010

COME AND TAKE A PEEK AT MY GARDEN

Having been away from home for three weeks there was LOTS to do in the garden when I returned.  John watered everything according to instructions but that's really all he had time for so....


I thinned out the strawberries (well decimated them actually) and planted the leeks out ready for the winter

Pulled up some beetroot - it was yummy!


Pondered over the tomatoes - will they ripen or will I be making green tomato chutney AGAIN?


This chap was eating the slugs - is it a toad or a frog - I can never tell?

Sorry, you'll have to view this sideways...  The runner beans are doing very well!

Sadly the mange tout didn't make it, I think July may be a bad month to take a holiday, garden-wise.  I had a couple of GIANT courgettes to eat - now searching the cookery books for stuffed courgette recipes!

If anyone is going to the NEC on Thursday let me know - I've managed to get booked on a local coach trip and it would be great to meet up!

6 August 2010

WHAT I DID ON MY HOLIDAYS!!




I doubled the size of my scrappy hexagon quilt.  The evenings were very quiet and it was an ideal opportunity to get on with some hand sewing.





Enjoyed a morning's bag-making with the ladies.  That's Chris  cutting out and Jude is the one ironing.  Don't they look like they are seriously concentrating?  It was a HOT day!




Who is that mystery woman with the dodgy knees modelling Jude's bag?


Chris looks delighted with hers!


We passed this little chap on the way out one morning.  He was comfortable in the spider plant pot!


Emily and I enjoyed the sunshine and the chance to get together.


Steve showing off his suntan....


I had a few great nights out with the 'gang'.  This was on my birthday, outside my favourite kafenion in Limnes. You can see Judith in this photo, she is at the head of the table. On her right is Geoff, Judes's hubby, then my daughter Emily, Jeff (Chris's hubby), me, Chis and Jude.


A mad dog got me on the way home one evening


This was crawling up my sun lounger one afternoon.



This chap kept me company some evenings.


I stained the beams in the living room.  Can you see the great bookshelves John made and the broom cupboard on the right which he put together with scrap timber he found.


This is our grapevine, sadly the grapes are a bit disappointing this year.


Had a go at dry stone walling - doesn't look too clever does it?

Unfortunately my journey home was a complete disaster.  I arrived at the airport and couldn't see my flight back to East Midlands Airport on the board.  I had to phone the UK from my mobile to find out what was happening and was told it had been cancelled two weeks previously.  I was sent to the Viking Airlines check in for Manchester where there was a lad in the same situation.  We had to wait until 30 minutes before the flight was due to leave before we knew whether we had a seat or not.  Thankfully, we finally managed to get on the plane and were met the other end by a taxi which was to take us back to East Midlands.  So my journey actually took two hours longer than it should have done.  Thankfully the taxi driver was very kind and actually dropped me off at my front door, bless him!

The next big trip......FESTIVAL OF QUILTS AT THE NEC - Yippee!!!!