Birthday and the Bard

This weekend we went to visit Ellie in Worcester as it is her birthday this week. For her birthday treat she wants to visit London and do some more museum visting (goodie!) which we will do later in the year.On Saturday we took a little trip to Stratford-on-Avon so we could visit some of the Shakespeare houses.

For Ellie this was not only a day out but of course a field trip, she is doing a module on musuems at the moment and is very interested from a professional point of view about how things are displayed and how the information is presented. She is currently employed as a conservation assistant at a Tudor house owned by the National Trust in Worcester so was also very interested in how they were looking after the houses and was not impressed by the cobwebs and dust at one of them!

It was a bit dull and cold so apologies for not having nice sunny pics to show you. They also did not allow interior pics in Shakespeare’s house so have only got exterior pics to show you here.

Stratford 1
Primulas outside Shakespeare's house


Stratford 2
More arty pics from the garden


Stratford 3
Beautiful carvings on the Griffin Inn


There were also very few textiles, there were some bedhangings and clothes in the house – Shakespeares’s father was a glove maker so there was a room laid out as his workshop but most of the textiles were very utilitarian apart from some lovely painted linen wall hangings which were very impressive. I did find a lovely blackwork coif in one of the other displays – apologies as it is a bit dark!

Stratford 4
Seventeenth century coif with insect embroidery

We also went out for a meal with Ellie, my sister, nephew Sam, Jake and her friends. She really liked her birthday pressies which I hoped she would, I bought her Cath Kidston’s Stitch and Sew books, another craft /quilting book  Simple Sewn Gifts by Helen Phillips  and some pretty material and cup cake decorations and cases.

Simple Sewn Gifts
Look at those cute little patchwork hearts!

It is brilliant having a daughter who enjoys the same stuff as I do and I am looking forward to borrowing the books as well when she comes home in the summer! I can’t believe that she will be 20 this week (she can’t either!) she is so grown up now and very lovely!

Ellen b day 1
Ellie with her birthday cupcake fixings
Ellie b day 2
Can't fit that many candles on the cake so she had to make do with the words instead!

I have finished the red chunky wool hat so will get some pics of me modelling it – it has been so nice and warm here that hopefully it is going to straight into the drawer. I managed to get lots done to the garden last week and it is lovely and sunny again today, it is so nice to have an extra hour of daylight in the evenings now so I will have chance to do a bit more pottering later on. I am planning a trip to the garden centre this Sun (as it is Mother’s Day) to buy myself some pretty primulas and lillies for the empty pots.

I am working on a cross stitch exchange for Spring so won’t be able to show you that for a while but have also made a good start on my next Xmas ornie – am doing the JBW Xmas pudding – bit late with this one as it was supposed to be the March finish but better late than never!

JBW Plum pudding
It is stitched over one using a single thread so is coming along fast

Hope that you have all had a lovely week and thank you for visiting.

A quiltilicious week!

I have been doing lots of quilty things this week. Yesterday was International Quilting Day so it is very fitting that lots of my week should have been spent doing these activities.

The  first thing that I completed was this block to give to one of the members of my quilt group. She is making a charity block quilt and last month gave me a piece of cat fabric which I then added to make a crazy patchwork block. I was pleased with the way this turned out in the end as I has to do the join with the dark turquoise triangle in it several times as I could not get the points right. I have done crazy patchwork before when I have made bags but never with so many different angles so it was a bit of a challenge. It has helped improved my machine work which I wanted to get better at.

cat block
You will recognise this fabric from my current quilt WIP - more of this later!

Yesterday I sent the whole day at the quilt group sewing day where I finally managed to get the rest of the pieces cut out and the whole of the top put together except for the borders which are cut. It was very helpful to have advice from the others as I am very spatially challenged so had a bit of difficulty working out which pieces to sew together first but got there in the end and I am very pleased with the end result. Consensus of opinion among the group was that it looks very nice as it is but I did still want to put the rabbit applique on then one of the group suggested making it double-sided with a fleecy backing and putting the rabbit on that side. I thought that was an excellent idea so am now going to source some pale pink fleece to do that.

Bunny Quilt 3
A bit crumpled but looking good

One of the women from the group Christine, runs her own quilting business – she has a long arm quilting machine and also sells fabric and runs workshops and she had brought her wares with her so I had to have a little indulge. I bought this very cute cat fabric and co-ordinates which I thought would be a good children’s quilt – probably be an Xmas pressie at the rate I am going though!

cat fabric 2

cat fabric 1
A close up of the pretty cats

I also bought two different white on white prints to use as contrasts and this cute vintage bunny print. I now have quite a lot of fat quarters and  feel the need to have a nice box to put them all in like  Crazy Mom  has rather than them be in random drawers all over the lounge as I lose track of what I have bought. I want have them all together so that I can see all the different colours which I hope will help me plan more effectively what I want to make.Will have to buy a box and get sorting!

Vintage bunny fabric
Vintage bunny fabric

Kerry and Tracey from my medieval group came for a sewing day today – we haven’t seen each other for a long time so it was great to have a catch up. I didn’t get much done but did sew up the JBW stocking but they both finished little ornaments , Tracey’s was a lavender filled one for her kitchen which made my conservatory smell really nice and Kerry made a lovely Xmas heart ornie for her tree. They bought loads of Xmas fabric stash when we went to Harrogate last Nov so are starting to use that up.

Tracey's heart
Tracey's heart
Kerry's heart
Kerry's heart

Also managed to make three knitting sessions this week which was bit of a miracle so am making very good progress with the red chunky wool hat. The weather was extremely good at the start and the end of the week – though dull and misty in the middle  – so I may finish it just in time for it to go into a drawer for next Winter but at least I will be prepared!

I have been out in the garden twice doing some tidying up after the long soggy cold season but thankfully there is less frost and snow damage than last year so it won’t take so long to get the garden restored. It does gladden my little heart to see all the signs of Spring, my clematis are looking very good so far and the rhododendron are just about to bloom. I have lost a couple of azaleas and a pireus due to frost but will probably just get some nice bright primulas or similar to put in pots as I have a lot of empty ones at present. I have all of next week off work in order to do lots of house stuff so hopefully the weather will be kind and I can get a lot done outside.

Then we are off to Worcester for next weekend to see Ellie as it is her birthday the week after and we have a little history field trip to Stratford-on-Avon planned. I am hoping to come back with some Shakespearean inspired textile pics for you.

I hope you have a lovely week ahead and thank you very much for visiting.

Another day, another dollar

I have been working lots this week including teaching on Saturday so have not had as much time for crafting as I hoped and only made one of the three knitting sessions that I had planned. However it has been a very nice week – I have been out and about observing my students teaching which has been very interesting. I consider myself very lucky to have a lovely job that I enjoy and hopefully it will continue – massive cuts in government funding ahead so who knows!

I have made pretty good progress with the hat – I am making this out of the same James Brett marble chunky that I used for my wristwarmers knitted over Xmas. I thought maybe I wouldn’t get the wear out of it being so late in the year for hats but it has been very much blowing a gale this week so I have been very cold when out and about so will be glad of it. Some parts of the UK have had snow but luckily not us – yet! Though snow at Easter is not unheard of in Yorkshire. The pattern is another freebie from Ravelry called Springtime Sloppy Beret  and has a lacy pattern on the main body of the hat. I might try the same pattern for a scarf and put some fringes on each end as well.

Red chunky hat
The variegated wool looks good on this longer repeat

I have also finished another one of the JBW Xmas Stocking ornies for my tree – this has yet to be made up but I am doing ok so far with my one a month – though this is actually Feb’s ornament as it was started then so will have to get cracking on March’s one. Thinking of doing the Xmas pudding one next. Have also just signed up again for the Seasonal Exchange Blog   Spring exchange (missed the Winter one due to slackness on my part of checking blog) so will have to have a think about what to do for that.

JBW stocking
Look at all the pretty little trees!

I would like to share with you a blog I have just recently found – this is not a crafting blog but a gardening one and belongs to Dave who is the brother of one of my old friends Pete. Pete posted the link on Facebook and I read all of his old posts last night and loved it. He has a brilliant and very funny writing style and the photography is amazing. He is a professional gardener who mainly works at a Tudor Priory in Sussex. The blog is called The Anxious Gardener  so do go and have a read.

Well here’s hoping we all have a nice week ahead,  I have a very nice weekend planned at the end of it – a sewing day on Saturday with the quilt group (might finally get the bunny quilt cut out!) and a sewing day with the girls from the medieval group on Sunday. Am trying to give up housework for Lent so have to find distractions to stop me being tempted!

Thank you very much as always for visiting.

Me and my imaginary friends – why I love blogging

I have recently started another blog for work that I am doing as a way of keeping in contact with my students while they are away from University on their teaching placements. I had thought about using blogs for work before and have done some short inputs about using blogs but this year I have had a couple of students who have been very keen so we are all doing it. I have also realised that it is a very good way of keeping all my good ideas, links etc. in one place for my students to be able to share and comment on.

Doing all this and explaining what I see as the benefits of blogging have made me realise just how much I get out of having my own blog and how much I really enjoy all the contact with my ‘imaginary friends’ as Thimbleanna  calls them. I am thrilled that so many people visit me – around 4000 a month now – about half of whom are looking for info on re-enactment or historical subjects and love the fact that I am part of this big network of people all sharing things.

The first two blogs I ever read were Mary Kathryn’s  needlework blog and Crazy Aunt Purl’s  knitting and general coping with life blog. These two women have had a big impact on me in so many ways over the last four years which is remarkable as we have never met nor are likely to – though I hope to go and visit their parts of the USA sometime soon.

I have been very impressed by their craft skills, their attitude to coping with life’s little (and big!) ups and downs and have loved the way that they have shared so much of their lives and their passion for all the things they do. Other blogs have been added to my favourites along the way – usually as links from people’s blogrolls or posts and I have been entertained and awed by so many talented people.

It is very difficult to describe what you get from this to non- bloggers as I know people (and my kids!) often look at me a bit strangely when I try and describe how I feel about being connected, inspired, uplifted, amused and generally made very happy by reading everyone’s posts. To me it is like having lots of pen pals – with the added advantages of seeing pictures of so many lovely things all the time Hen House’s  gorgeous vintage quilts, Do You Mind if I Knit’s cute doggies, beach walks and fabulous art, Crazy Mom’s  lovely quilt work, Don’t Look Now’s wonderful original designs to name but a tiny few. You are all wonderful imaginary friends and thank you so much for sharing.

As well as all the craft love and the free patterns and the like I also love the ‘extras’ that blogging brings to my life. One of these has been the chance to read a really good book as I have been participating in Crazy Aunt Purl’s  latest book club. It has been a very last-minute participate as my copy only arrived on Friday and we are going to post about the book tomorrow so I have spent most of the weekend reading. The book chosen is When We Were Strangers’  by Pamela Schoenewaldt  based on one of my favourite subjects, that of emigration to the USA – in this case an Italian seamstress in the late 1880s. It is really good, I am intending to finish it tonight and would recommend it to anyone . I will be passing it on to my Mum when I next go to Spain as I am sure she will love it.

It has been a very literary week one way and another – I have not done much in the way of crafting this week, have been very tired so have been going to bed early with lots of good reads , a friend from knitting, Cath,  lent me two of the Benni Harper quilt murder mysteries  by Earlene Fowler and I have really enjoyed those. I have always loved a good murder mystery, being a lifelong Agatha Christie fan, and have recently read Agatha’s biography and autobiography ‘Come Tell me Where You Live’  which was very interesting. The Benni Harper books are particularly good in terms of the way the characters are written, I really identify with the main character and can’t wait to read more of the series.

This week there was of course World Book Day  which I have always promoted as part of my job and the new World Book Night where a million books were given away by people who had registered with the scheme. My friend Barbara from knitting who has a wonderful blog  about knitting had registered to get copies of Nigel Slater’s autobiography Toast  so I went along to my friend Lydia’s wool shop, Spun, yesterday to collect the book and have a little knit and natter. As soon as I have finished the book club novel and the other couple I have one the go – another Laura Ingalls Wilder biography and a history of the National Trust Ellie gave me for Christmas I will start on that one then pass it on to my sister-in-law Amanda who is a very keen cook.

I love reading and am a huge fan of print books – I have seen and admired other people’s Kindle’s and i Pads but I think I will be sticking to my old-fashioned books for a long while yet – I love buying books and spend far too much on them (aided by the lovely Amazon wish list!) but just think it would not be the same to have a download rather than a thud on the doormat when another lovely tome is delivered.

To conclude I will leave you with a pic of what little crafting has gone on this week – I am still at cast on stage with the new hat as the other pattern I was having trouble with got even more troublesome so I abandoned it and am about three – quarters of the way through the latest JBW Xmas stocking. So the only thing I have to show you is the pair of Moss Stitch wristwarmers in Aqua Sublime (which are not even sewn up yet!) and some lovely Artesano Hummingbird yarn that I bought yesterday. These are both presents for  family member (not Ellie in case she reads this and gets excited!)

Aqua handwarmers and wool
Lovely colours and look there is sun - in my dining room, in Yorkshire - hurrah!

I have a lovely week ahead, as well as all the reading there are three knitting groups this week so I should get a bit more done on the hat and then a dinner party at the weekend that I am holding for my brother and sister-in-law. I hope that you have a lovely week as well and thanks as always for visiting – to paraphrase Fleetwood Mac -‘you make blogging fun!’