Monday 23 February 2015

Me on Monday - 23 February

Ta dah! It's done! This is Me on Monday, having just done the final stitch in my Friendship Quilt.  I've been wanting to put it all together ever since the last square arrived but couldn't decide how to do it.  In my normal style, I did a bit of Youtube quilt tutorial watching, then a bit more, then just one more, then returned to the one I first saw which involved doing a bit of sashing with some colour corner blocks to tie it all together.  I do love it, and I really want to thank everyone who contributed to it, I can't put into words how much I've enjoyed taking part in this and can't wait to see everyone's finished works of art. 
I realised two things while doing the binding.  I love using striped 'ticking' fabric to finish off quilts.  No matter how patterned the rest of the quilt is, a subtle stripe really finishes things off.  I also realised that when it comes to binding, my favourite part is the corners.  I love mitres.  They scared me a bit when I did the binding on my first quilt but now I love them.  They're a bit fiddly but what can I say?  Stripey fabric and mitred corners - made to go together!

I found some tape which said 'handmade with ♥' and thought it would be fun to send a little strip of it with each square I sent off. Whilst attaching the backing to the front I suddenly remembered that I hadn't put any on my own quilt.  A quick bit of zig zagging and it was the finishing touch.

It's the first day back at work here after the half term week break and it's hard to get back in the swing of things.  Thank goodness Monday is only half a day for me!
How was your weekend?  Mine was pretty busy with decorating again.  Our daughter is having furniture delivered in her new home and wanted to get all the painting done in the rooms before it arrived.  Although she and her partner had put one coat of paint on all walls last weekend, some of them needed a second coat and he wasn't able to come down this weekend.   R was determined to get all the painting finished so we popped round in the afternoon to help and that was Saturday sorted.  Then she needed some lights put up on the wall, and a bathroom cabinet fitted, a mirror hung on the wall etc.  Of course they haven't got their own electric drill so it was a case of 'Dad, could you pop round and help?' Which briefly translates to 'can you come and do it?'.  Someone had offered them a spare double bed for free and that had arrived so Sunday I went round to help her build that too.  Two women.  A dismantled double bed with ornate metal frame in many pieces.  No instructions.  It felt like quite an achievement when we got it done and I do feel now that my work is done.  Whatever isn't done now, they can do themselves - It's all down to them now!
So with tired arms and an aching back I'm giving up a wave to Sian who suggested that we all share photos of what we're doing each Monday.  Hope you are going to join in too!

Friday 20 February 2015

Putting it all together

A little over a year ago,  Fiona  contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in joining in a patchwork quilt sharing project.  The idea was to get 12 people to each send one square, every month to the next person on the list.  Would I like to join in?  Yes I would! Oh my goodness, I was ridiculously excited to be included and I was so enthusiastic, on most months I had the next square ready to send on before the clock struck midnight on the first day of the next month!  I loved the fact that everyone had chosen a different colour scheme and it was fun to look through my fabrics, or use it as an excuse to buy more, to find something that I thought fitted the brief. 
On the month that it was my turn to receive my squares I practically stalked my postman, and was super excited whenever a package arrived that looked like it could have a six and a half inch patchwork square inside.  Then there was the official taking of a photo to put on instagram before I lovingly looked it over and admired the handiwork.
I received my last square a little while ago and I've been trying to think of how to put it all together.  With a week off work for half term holidays, I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and actually get the sewing machine back out.  There was slight moment of terror when I could not find all the squares.  A half hour of panic, pulling the bookcase apart and generally causing havoc and mayhem everywhere I thought it could be.  I'd been carefully storing them all in a jiffy bag on top of some cookery books in the dining room bookcase but one was missing!  By sheer fluke, I opened a folder that I use for storing all the recipes I get from the Cookery Club I go to at a local restaurant and there it was, safely still in its envelope. 
I decided to do a simple sashing to join them up, and found a remnant of some off white calico which gave a nice soft background to the squares.  Everyone had interpreted the colour scheme 'Spring colours' slightly differently and at first I wondered how it would all work with squares ranging from the very pastel, to quite bright, with all hues in between, but when I looked more carefully, I could see that there was continuity there and I hope you'll agree that they do look rather fabulous now they are all sewn together.
I decided to pick out the pale blue as the corner square for the sashing and it does seem to have work well.  Months ago when I was at a local store I saw the softest, prettiest cuddlesoft plush fabric and knew that I was going to use it for the backing.  The photo doesn't do it justice, so if you are ever in the area and fancy popping in to stroke it to see what I mean, you'll be very welcome!
I felt quite emotional sewing this all together, it seems so strange that people from all over the world have contributed to my quilt.  And apologies to Denise for all the Snapchat pictures I've sent her as it has progressed, she'll probably get the sack from work for looking at her phone too often!  But I so loved working with these lovely squares; there were some from America, one from Australia, one from Spain and one from Ireland amongst them.  People who've been quilting for a while and people who haven't quilted before.  A hand sewn one and even (wait for it) one from Alexa who had designed and printed her own fabric!  Oh yes!  As I worked them into my pattern, it was lovely to think that I was touching fabric that had been worked on by people I have never met in real life (except Denise!)but who have become friends though blogging. 
I can't wait to get this finished, although I know that once I sew that last stitch I will sigh with a little feeling of 'oh, that's over now'.  But oh the memories of sending and receiving these little squares of fabric, and the friendship that got the ball rolling.  The thought that all over the world, a little square of fabric from me will become part of 11 other Friendship Quilts; it's a lovely thing.  Thank you SO much Fiona for organising it.  I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with for their squares, and I promise to share the final quilt once that last stitch has been made.

Monday 16 February 2015

Me on Monday - 16 Feb

This Monday is the first day of the half term break. So naturally I spent my first morning of the week off in Toys r Us 
There's a special little great nephew of mine about to turn 3 in a couple of weeks and he wants to have some 'big boy' Lego. None of your Duplo any more, he needs to get his hands on the real stuff. As I had given him a Spider-Man costume for Christmas, I was immediately drawn to the Super Hero section where I found Spider man himself in his car, ready to catch villains with his super powered web.
It's lovely to think I have a week to myself, although R has already reserved me for a day of decorating on Tuesday as her original plans to paint the whole downstairs of her new home and one of the bedrooms in one weekend didn't quite pan out.  The words 'I told you so' are very much on my lips!
Did you have a good weekend? Mine was a friends over for take away Indian Saturday night, which meant the afternoon was spent with a big push on the dusting and vacuuming to make the house tidy for visitors. It was also a day of getting all my Valentine postcard exchange cards on display - thank you to all who sent one to me.  All that Saturday afternoon housework meant it was a nice lazy Sunday, getting out my Friendship Quilt squares to plan how to put them together and finishing my book. The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain- what a page turner! There was also some good tv, The Casual Vacancy and Indian Summer, I can see them both becoming favourites.
Let's give a big wave to  Sian  who suggested we share our Me on Monday photos!

Saturday 14 February 2015

Valentine's Postcard Exchange

The postman's been kept busy this last week or so, with people up and down the country, not to mention overseas, swapping postcards in time for Valentines Day as part of Sian's Postcard Exchange.  
I've been lucky to receive five of my six cards and thank each and every one of the people who chose a special card and sent it onto me.  Want to see what they were? 

Thank you Sian for organising another fun project. It's left me thinking that I need to get back into sending surprise cards in the post, there's something very cheery about getting some fun post in amongst all the bills and junk mail!

Monday 9 February 2015

Me on Monday - 9 February

It's a gloriously sunny day here today.  The kind of day that puts a spring in your step and a smile on your face.  A day when you pop to the local Homebase store for a couple of paint 'matchpots', see a display of pretty little plants and buy a pack on impulse. A day when you pop round to your daughter's house and plant a few bits of colour in her front garden as a surprise.  This is me on Monday!
There's been a few tears around here this weekend.  The kind of 'happy you've found a new home of your own but boy, I'm going to miss you' tears.  Our son has been gradually piling up all his possessions in boxes on our landing and I've kind of got used to seeing them there.  I was very brave when we had our 'I don't care how old you are, you're still my boy and I'm going to miss you lots' hug on the driveway just before he got in the van.  Not so brave as the van drove off. Pulled myself together, went round to our daughter's house and threw myself into helping her make furniture and put up wooden blinds. Then totally lost it when we came home.  I walked upstairs and the first thing I saw was an empty landing.  No boxes, no guitar cases, no random bits of clothing.  Just carpet.  And I opened his bedroom door and it was quiet and it was empty of all his books and computers and record players and all the things that made it his room.  And I cried.  He's moved out before, but there's always been a 'coming home' date.  Three years in Sheffield at uni, then two years in Edinburgh.  But this time it's long term.  I know it and I'm happy that he's following his own route, settled with his girlfriend and making their new home in London.  But the big part of me that makes me his mum is missing his presence.  My daughter summed it up so well as she stood on the driveway crying too - 'I wish I hadn't taken it for granted that he was here.'  So we've given ourselves a good talking to, I mean, good grief, he is only 45 minutes down the motorway, it's not as if he's gone back to Tanzania!  And he could easily meet up with his sister after work any day in London. 
So our nest here is a little emptier, only a few weeks now and our other fledgling will be gone too.  Thank goodness she'll only be five minutes down the road!  
So after waving our son off this weekend, let's pop over and give a wave to Sian who had the idea for Me on Monday.

Monday 2 February 2015

Me on Monday - 2 Feb

It is so lovely to come home from work and get going with this little project for my Me on Monday photo

Yes, it's time to get writing my postcards for Sian's postcard exchange. I sent off for some personalised postcards and made a start. I had two overseas ones to send so I wrote a few lines and hot footed it up to the post office before coming home to wash my car. Thank you to the Land Rover who drove through a huge, deep, muddy puddle on the opposite side of the road to me on Friday, causing a tidal wave of yucky slushy snow all over my lovely clean little Mini. Memo to self, it's not a good idea to be out in minus two degrees with a bucket of water and a sponge, you will lose all sense of feeling in your fingers!
It's nice to have a relaxing afternoon here though because the weekend was action packed and non stop. Needless to say much of it involved R's new house. There was central heating to fathom, more boxes to unpack and an Ikea extendable dining room table to build. Not to mention a trip to Harlow to buy a huge mirror which we manhandled into the back of the car, I think it weighed as much as me and it was certainly nearly as tall! My husband's comment on our return "how on earth did you two get THAT in there? said it all.
We had drinks at friends who live close to us on Saturday night, thank goodness it was close because it was a freezing cold walk although the snow had pretty much turned to slush by then. Then onto round two at R's on Sunday to keep her company while she waited for a sofa to be delivered. This included an over excited dog who can't quite understand how she now has two homes to supervise. Plus we need to put into the mix our son who returned home from a trip to Ikea with a double mattress, a tv table, an armchair and a large mirror. All of which he unloaded from his car and has left on our landing along with all the stuff he's boxed up from his bedroom. "It's only for a week Mum, we'll be moving it all out on Saturday." Every time I go upstairs I swear those boxes have multiplied. 
So our household is very much in a state of flux. Not long until we really do have an empty nest.
Giving a rather weary wave to Sian, who had the idea of Me on Monday. We're waving our children off, and she's welcoming one intrepid explorer back home!