Sunday, 26 September 2010

A right old Ramble!

I hope you’re not expecting something exciting this week ‘cos you’ll be disappointed! This is going to be one of those posts where you all think ‘why has she bothered?’

So why have I bothered? Well, from time to time its good to have a little down time, where things go on, life goes by and nothing in particular happens. I’m probably going to wander off on several tangents as this progresses – please bear with me if you can.

You may remember a few months ago that I wrote about Son2 looking to spend some time in the US but was having visa problems. Well, he persisted in his efforts, spending many hours on on-line forums and many pounds in sterling to pursue his dream. He spoke to a solicitor for advice (a pre-agreed fee for an hour long telephone call – not cheap) and she told him all that he already knew – the key was to prove he had links here and that he had to come back. She also told him that he was far more likely to get through if he went to the US Embassy in Belfast (Northern Ireland) as they had less applicants and therefore more would go through. So a couple of weeks ago he duly booked flights for himself & John (moral support) and a hotel, because the appointment was too early in the morning to catch the first flight, and set off to Belfast. He had a much more positive experience this time and was actually afforded the courtesy of being listened to, which didn’t happen  in London, but the outcome was still the same. Now don’t get me wrong, those of you that are regular readers and know me personally know that we love the US and its people and ideals but I don’t know what more they expect of a 20 year old man (gosh it makes me feel old to call him a man) other than to prove that he has a home and a job to come back to. It seems that what is being sought is evidence that he owns his own property and will come back to live in it!! He’s 20, earns a pittance, we’re in a recession – get real! He can’t afford his own property! He wanted to go now before he’s got the financial commitments that his own property will bring. The eagle eyed among you will notice that change of tense there from ‘wants’ to ‘wanted’. He’s given up on his dream and is knuckling down now to earn the money to buy his own property – at some time!

Sorry that was a bit of a rant – ooh I think I feel another! Those of you who regularly blog hop as I do may have noticed a huge increase in the number of posts that are starting with ‘This is a sponsored post’ and they go on to detail how they’ve had a lovely day out courtesy of A, played with toys courtesy of B, received a magical face cream from the lovely people at C, etc etc. I thought the whole purpose of blogging (I may be wrong) was to share your lives, interests etc in a non-commercial way with other like minded people – and yes before any of you tell me, I hosted a giveaway not long ago which I guess was a sponsored post but, my dear readers, one of you was the lucky winner. I benefited not a jot other than to receive a few more comments on the Ramblings! So you’re probably wondering why I’m ranting and thinking I’m jealous of all these lucky people, do you really think so? Could that be the reason. Surely not. I mean, what would I want with toys or a family day out? OK if a luxury hotel offered me the chance for a few nights away in a relaxing location perhaps I would take it…Oh dear, maybe I’m more shallow than I think I am!

I almost forgot to share this month’s Secret Blog Swap with you! Last Saturday morning the postie bought me this package (look very carefully at the wrapping – yep ingenious use of wall paper.)


When I opened it there were all these lovely chick lit books – my very favourite type ‘cos I don’t have to concentrate too hard as I’m reading them!


I did warn you about wandering around as I wrote this! So it’s Sunday today, my crafty creative day. But no crafty stuff until I’ve done the other more mundane stuff like the ironing! I have a plan for the next quilting project but also need to finish my first ‘commissioned’ crochet piece which is for the friend that I call Julie – almost finished J, will be ready for you in a couple of weeks when we meet up to see John Barrowman!

I’m off now – need to get my muddled mind in some sort of order. If I get the offer from that luxury hotel (or Tiffany’s or any other posh label) be sure I’ll come back to you with my tail between my legs and my head hung in shame! Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Now where was I?

Oh that’s right – I’d finished the top of the quilt! I proudly took it into work on Monday last week knowing that I had one or two people who, despite having a laugh at my expense the previous week, were actually quite interested in what I’d done. There was just the one detractor who simply doesn’t like things like this! She nobly looked in the opposite direction whilst I showed off my handiwork and no offence was taken!

Friday was my day off and I met up with Janet to visit Wickham Market for coffee, a natter and a quick trip to spend my voucher form Quilters Haven! I needed to get the batting and backing fabric for the quilt and couldn’t resist the opportunity to buy a couple of fat quarter bundles while I was there – baby blues and baby pinks.

After the excitement I was exhausted and made my way home for a sneaky snooze! Son2 was off out for the evening so I’d taken the opportunity to buy some fish for dinner as it would only be me & John – until Son1 sent a text asking if we fancied company for dinner! Er OK, not enough fish for four and he wouldn’t eat it anyway so I offered a takeaway, the reply surprised me ‘We’re shopping so we’ll bring dinner with us’! Result – that’s the sort of visitors I like! And it was a healthy-ish meal of chicken in sauce, baked potatoes, beans and baby corn!

Saturday loomed fine and dry and football beckoned for the afternoon, rumour had it that the game was a sellout so we nipped to town early to make sure we could park, just had to while away the extra couple of hours shopping and eating! Turned out not to be a sellout after all but I got myself some lovely tops for work for the winter! Oh – and we won! Ipswich Town are now second in the league – let’s hope we can sustain it!

You can tell the seasons are changing because X Factor is back on our screens (sort of American Idol but different) we’re coming to the end of the auditions which give us all, more often than not, a real good laugh on a Saturday night. Twitter was alive with comments begging the ‘singers’ to stop and wondering who ever had told them they could sing!

Which brings me to Sunday, my new found day of creativity! After being a good wife & mother and having finished the ironing I set about plucking up the courage (yes I know that sounds feeble) to make the three pieces of the quilt become one. I asked John to help with the cutting of the batting and the backing – I was too much of a wimp to to do it myself! I called upon my trusty ‘Quilting for Dummies’ book and opted for an ‘envelope’ method to finish it off – again I was too cowardly to try a bias edging!

So here it is, after a couple of hours hunched over the machine and a few curses on the way as the batting decided to stretch over the top of the quilt and I managed to stitch over the masking tape I’d used to pick out the diagonal stitching lines (yes – I know I could use tailors chalk and I will next time!), the finished article. Am I pleased with it? Hell, yes! Will I do more? You bet!

Finished Lost Charm1

Looking slightly crumpled in the late afternoon sunshine

Lost Charm2 

The backing is greener than it looks on here

Thanks for the lovely comments on here and on Facebook – I really appreciate it!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Lost Charm

Thought I really ought to have a little update – I’ve been getting so carried away with being Mrs Needlewoman that I’ve neglected the Ramblings again lately!

Last time I wrote, I told you about the quilt walk, showed you my cushion and mentioned the voucher that I’d won. Well the voucher was for a stonking £20 which I thought was pretty darn fine considering I’d had such a fab time winning it! I carefully placed it in the kitchen cupboard, ready for the next trip to Quilters Haven.

In the meantime I decided to take the bull by the horns and make a start on my first real project. If you remember I mentioned that I had a pack of ‘charms’, 40 five inch squares already cut and ready to go. I’d used four that I wasn’t over keen on, to experiment a few weeks ago which, do the maths, meant I had 36 left. John needed to be sure that was right so, last Saturday afternoon he made me count them again. Yep – 36. I moved from the sofa to the dining room table (all of five yards) and laid the charms out in blocks of four – and one block of three. Somehow, in that extremely short journey I had mislaid a charm. Of course I was sure I’d had 36 – why would you doubt me? Yeah – I know I’m getting on a bit but my ability to count remains intact! We looked everywhere, under the sofa, under the table, checked it hadn’t become attached to another charm. No luck. I searched through the stash for something that was remotely suitable and unhappily settled for a neutral looking fabric.

So, moving on with trepidation I started joining the charms together – I had an idea in mind of what I wanted and didn’t actually follow a pattern. John very kindly (not in an interfering sort of way you understand) decided that I really needed a guide to follow for a quarter of an inch as my foot was in fact three-eighths of an inch which was why things had not worked so well last time. With masking tape in place it was so much easier and, puffing my chest with pride, I managed to do a pretty fine job of squaring them up – if I went wrong I disciplined myself to unpick and start again!

So 36 squares became nine and needed a little extra to make them become one! Over to the precision of John and a jelly roll (40 odd two-and-a-half inch meter long strips) and hey presto we have strip edging – two short sides and two long to avoid the need for mitres on the corner (took the cowards way there).

Time for food so I retreated to the kitchen and guess what I found – yep, the lost charm! It was sitting on top of a (fortunately clean) dish cloth! I vaguely remembered John had wiped the table when we started and he’d obviously picked the charm up at the same time! I was so pleased to be able to unpick several seams to put it into it’s rightful place! The other fabric just didn’t cut it!

It was about 7pm now and I really couldn’t sit for any longer as I was starting to ache – yet I didn’t want to stop! Reluctantly I packed up for the night and took up with the hook instead!

Sunday morning saw me back at the table, intending just to join the rest of the edges as we were off out for the day – but I couldn’t stop! I ended up finishing the top (just as well I didn’t have the battening and backing!!) so that I could take it to show off to my friend!

So here it is – photo taken in quilters time honoured way hanging from the washing line!

The Lost Charm

So here you have it ‘The Lost Charm’

I think I’ll leave the rest for later – I like to leave you wanting more!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Do you remember?

This week Jenny has given us an evocative prompt which, given the date, can only really be linked to one event – do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? When events changed the modern world forever? When time almost stood still? They say that there are certain events in history that will stay with you forever – Kennedy’s assassination is one of them. The events of 9/11/01 another. Please visit Jenny to see what other people remember.

The prompt is in bold.

John had phoned me at work to see if I’d seen the internet news. I hadn’t. He told me what had happened. This was late afternoon in the UK and I was due to finish work soon. As I walked home I remember wondering what had happened. As I got home the second plane hit the building. I stood frozen in front of the flickering images on my TV and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My abiding memory is the horrific footage of people fleeing the huge debris ball that rolled down a New York side street.

We visited ground zero in 2003, the atmosphere was surreal – and very moving.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Not quite a silk purse from a pigs ear!

I’ve had a great day today. Day off and all alone so, after waking early, I set about finishing the, ahem, ‘creation’ that I started last weekend. Although I knew it wasn’t anywhere near perfection I’d decided to finish it off anyway. I started the day with nine squares – none of which were actually square! I trimmed them the best I could and joined them together to make one big square – which still wasn’t actually square! I had it in mind to trim all of the sides with a contrasting fabric and then to finish it off with wadding and backing so I could quilt it. When I added the border it took on the appearance of something resembling a square and I started to feel optimistic. And then I had a eureka moment – I’ll turn it into a cushion! I have a lovely cushion that I bought from a craft fair a few months ago so I 'deconstructed’ it to see how it had been made and worked out how to back it with an envelope-style backing! I already had some calico that I had bought more in hope than anything else which would come in handy.

I had other things to do as well as sewing so I went off to the chiropractor, then dropped a couple of pairs of Son2’s old shoes into a shoe bank, nipped into the little Tesco and headed off to Dunelm for the cushion pad – fortunately I realised I hadn’t a clue what size I needed so called into home first! I needed a 20 inch cushion and hadn’t measured it in metric – of course they measured in metric but a helpful assistant helped my befuddled brain to work it out!

I also decided that I needed a ‘stash storage unit’ (SSU) and had an image of stacking boxes – I was delighted to find exactly what I wanted!

Off I went home all excited wanting to make up the cushion and to fill the SSU with yarn and fabric. I am easily pleased it seems! I now have a feeling of achievement as something that looked completely useless at 9 o’clock this morning now looks quite good and it will be useful as I need a cushion when I’m sewing because the dining room table isn’t really the best place to sit but the cushion will help!

001 Ta-dah – the Wonky Cushion, hopefully as I get better I’ll look back at this and smile!


I still have more yarn than fabric but I fully expect to so more crochet than sewing as I’ll do that in the evenings – sewing will be a weekend job!

And then (yes I know I shouldn’t start a sentence with ‘and’) I had a phone call form Quilters Haven to say I’d won a prize in the Quilt Walk from Saturday – I never win anything so I am really chuffed about that, I didn’t like to ask what it was but I think it’s probably a voucher, I’ll let you know when it arrives!

So that was my day, with the addition of washing and cooking a winter-type dinner, I’m exhausted! The weather has been great for most of the day but is just turning with the expected rain and strong winds – I hope this doesn’t signal the end of summer!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Getting better!

After posting last week about my quilting attempts, I persuaded John to come with me to Quilters Haven with a promise that I would do a couple of geo caches with him (he’s easily bribed!). The shop is in a small village, Wickham Market, just a little way from home – in fact so much closer than I thought it was that I’m wondering why I’ve never been there before! Anyhow, it turns out that there was to be a ‘Quilt Walk’ yesterday which pleased me as it would give me a chance to see other people’s efforts. We pulled into the village and soon saw a derelict piece of land surrounded by ugly wire fencing which had some of the most gorgeous quilts pegged to it – I thought that was a really novel idea!There was an elderly lady looking after the quilts and I confessed to being a true novice and in turn she confessed to not being a quilter at all – had tried it a few years ago but couldn’t take to it!
We wandered around the different locations that housed the various quilts and stood looking in awe at the handiwork involved. However, I am pleased to say that nearly every quilt had something that wasn’t quite right about it – a wonky seam, a triangle that had lost a tip, fabric not quite cut on the square – that made me feel sooo much better about my early efforts!
As a fundraiser for village facilities there was a competition which led you to almost every shop in the village to look for the quilts that were inside and answer very simple questions about each one, this was a very good idea and everybody in the village seemed pleased to be taking part.
By the time we actually got into the shop, John was so fired up with the belief that he could quilt we ended up spending a flipping fortune! I needed a longer ruler as I found out to my cost last week, however I also ‘needed’ all the fabric pictured below! I am please to say that I now have a fabric stash to add to my yarn stash! As the friend that I call Julie said, a girl’s got to have a stash!
007 The fabric in the blue banding was ‘free’ because we spent so much! It matched some in a bag of scraps that I bought as well which is a bonus!
The owner of the shop has written several books and took the time to show John and I how to make her famous ‘pineapple’ and here is our first attempt! John and I have just spent the afternoon making this square – he cut and measured and I sewed, he can’t quite bring himself to use the machine yet! It got better as we went on – the middle looks very wonky but that’s what makes it unique – by the time we’ve made, I don’t know, another 20 they should all look pretty good!
This was actually a very easy square to make – as I have discovered all quilts have a name this one will of course be called ‘Come on you blues’!!
I’ll leave you with a few of the quilts on display (they were even in the church which was a great place to show them off) I didn’t take many photos in the end because I was too overwhelmed by the quilts!
001 003 004 005 006
Oh nearly forgot – John found two geo caches as well!!!