30 June 2011


I don't know if you all know what a numpty is.  It's basically an idiot who does stupid things.................

...............like promising to finish a Dresden circle, then you find you've run out of the white fabric you were going to use.

...............Like cutting, joining and pinning the  binding onto your Sweet Dreams quilt only to find it is 6 inches shorter than  needed.   And that was the last of the fabric.

So, I guess that makes me a numpty, proving beyond doubt that my husband is correct.

Anyways,  a quick trip to the shop in Breclav this afternoon sorted out the binding problem, which is now 50% attached.   So this evening I shall mainly be sitting in front of the telly with a glass of wine and the dogs, watching the Apprentice and finishing the binding. 

Here's a sneak preview

What you can't see are the two dogs and a cat curled up on the rug at my feet.   What else do you need?  Chocolate maybe?

Oh yes, and a husband of course.  Sorely missed by us all.

29 June 2011

The Garden in June

I was up at sparrow's fart this morning.  I needed to do some watering and a bit of work in the garden, and it gets too hot for me after about 9 am.    So by 7.45 I had walked the dogs, watered my new berberis hedge, and sweet peas, turned the compost heap, done a bit of weeding and dead-heading, and cleared up the little presents my dear dogs leave for me all over the lawn!   I'm going for sainthood next.   So I thought, as we are nearing the end of June, I would record the current state of play in the garden.

There are successes and failures:

The broad beans this year have been a huge succes, after years of trying unsuccesfully
Have been eating french beans for a couple of weeks.
First new potatoes dug up (and eaten) at the weekend
Tomatoes doing well but nothing ripe yet
Spring onions planted in the greenhouse have done very well, again after years of failure.

The carrots have been dissappointing.  Hardly any have germinated, even though the seed was new (I normally use seed no matter how old it is)
The parsnips so far are a no show.  Again, the seed was new.   I know they take a long time to germinate, but I've almost given up.  Normally have no problem with Parsnips.
We picked our first head of calabrese at the weekend, only to find it had lodgers - several thousand of them.

Here's a photo round up

The new berberis hedge - it's straight, honest, it just doesn't look it. 
Bit like my seams actually

The veggie patch, featuring the picuresque storage area at the back of the garage
(will I never learn?)

The flowers I re-planted into the new wall are doing OK.  Looking a bit crispy, but I think they'll survive
Maybe not this one.  Even with my enthusiasm, I don't think this one has a chance
And the first sunflower.  I grow these because they make me smile

However, it's getting way too hot for my spring flowers.  They're frying.  But it's Ok, they've done their job and will be back next spring

It's all too exhausting for one little dog

The mutilated object next to her is "Dollie's arm".  It once belonged to our next door neighbours daughter in England.  She carelessly left it out on the common and our old dog, Ollie stole it.  It's been with us ever since, although it gets smaller every passing year.

Well thank you for staying with me, if you did, all you none gardeners.   As a reward for staying the course, I can reveal that the Dresden circle is now settled into its outer circle and is looking reasonable.   I will be getting on with it today, so hope to have further shots of it soon.  

Off to do some housework (boo) and some computer housekeeping too.  I'll see if I can sort out this problem you are having responding to my e-mails


27 June 2011

Monday is the new Wednesday

Normally I go line dancing on a Wednesday but I can't this week so I went tonight.  This is the big girls class and everyone that goes is better than us babies that go on a Wednesday.  So I didn't know all of the dances.   Add to that, my friend (and translator) is away for 4 weeks, so I went on my own.  I can't really explain how scary this is, but if you imagine jumping out of a plane without your parachute, you are close.   God what a drama queen.   No it's not that scary.  But when Lennie is with me, people don't talk to me, they talk to Lennie (even though I do understand a bit).  Tonight, because I was on my own, people actually talked to ME, and asked ME  about myself, and included me in their conversations.  Some of them even KNEW MY NAME.   I realise this makes me look like a Nobby-no-mates, but for me this is  A STONKIN' RESULT.  I'm so please that I plucked up the courage to go.  I nearly chickened out.

I don't have any of my pictures, but here's one I made earlier, in winter.   In summer we dance outside.

I'm the one sort of in the centre with the jeans, white t-shirt and cardi
I know that people fall into two camps with line dancing.  1) those who like it and 2) those who think the one's who like it need to get a life.   I'm firmly in the first, my husband is firmly in the second.  And I do take some abuse for it I can tell you.  So nothing you can say can upset me,  Sticks and stones, sticks and stones.......

As you can tell I had a good night.  Goodnight

26 June 2011

1 wheel on my wagon....

....and I'm still trying to finish the bloody dresden circle I started ages ago, following the QAL on Lily's quilts.  I know that nearly everyone else has finished, but, well, I haven't so there!

Anyway, following the second attempt to fit the inner circle, I still wasn't happy with it so I ripped it out tonight and sewed it in again. And this time AT LAST it was pretty good.   So flushed with success, I moved on to the outer circle.  Bad move.  As you can see it's a proper dogs breakfast.

The outer circle is way to small for the inner.  Not sure if you can tell on the photo, but it resembles a relief map of the himalayas.  So this is going to have to be ripped out too.   Now I've had a go at it, I can see the logic of it all and do the maths to work out what size the inner circle/ outer circle need to be.  I'm not very good at imagining the finished article before I start.  I need to get stuck in, see what turns out, then if it's wrong, do it again.... and again!

Never mind one lives and learns.  And, I've got the whole week to myself as Gordon is back in the UK for the week, so disasters aside, I shall be spending as much as possible sewing.

24 June 2011


Or for those not familiar with this abbreviation - All Day Friday Sew In (Even If It Kills Me).

It's my day off today, and right from the start I was going to be sewing all day.  And I have.  But I did so want to be able to show you two fully quilted quilts, and I can't.   Because 1)  I under-estimated how long it would take and 2) the new quilting foot on my bloody machine broke. 

Here's the story (if you've got 5 minutes).  I got my machine back on Monday.  I was told there was nothing wrong with the machine, but the quilting foot provided could only quilt thin things.  For thicker quilts (which of course mine was) I needed a second spring loaded foot.   Not bad for a machine called a Sapphire Quilt.   I must have misunderstood what this meant.   Anyways, I'm not in a position to argue the toss to any degree, as I can't achieve any degree of venom in Czech yet.  In England believe me I'd be standing on the table screaming, but even if I could do it here, no one here would take any notice.   So, I took my new foot home, and after several trial pieces  I got a near perfect stitch, so this morning I was off.   Out came Beyond the Sea.  I had FMQ'd about two thirds of it before the machine went back,  some of which was OK, but a lot of which the tension was too tight on the back.   And it was going so well....  and I got close,  oh so close, to finishing when the new foot broke. Yes, can you believe it?

The offending article.

Beyond the Sea - nearly quilted

The unfinished corner

A close up to show that my FMQ isn't too bad.   Your right Rhonda - practice , practice, practice

So that's all I could do on that one.  Having organised for a new foot to be sent direct to me, I got my Sweet Dreams quilt out.  This is straight line quilting, so I didn't need the quilting foot.  I'd outlined the bigger squares with a line of stitching 1/4 " either side of the seam, and needed to do the same with the inner square. Here it is on the machine mid final square

.....and on the table

... and on the line
It's not finished yet - I still have to do the border.  I was going to try a pebbly sort of pattern, but FMQ is out for now and I do want to get  this one finished.  Have you got any suggestions?   

Right off now to sew in all those ends, and maybe catch up with some Wimbledon.

22 June 2011

Mid Summer Night Sky

We were a little late eating last night, mainly due to me losing track of time, head firmly stuck in some FMQ!  But it was a beautiful evening, so we sat outside to eat.   That's what I love about the hotter weather.  I don't much like the heat, and I hate sitting sun-bathing, but I love warm evenings when you can sit comfortably outside until it's dark.  And the sky was fabulous.  I took a few photos but as always with this sort of picture, they don't really do it justice.

Try to ignore the dog pen and the building site next door

PS Technically I realise 21st is not Midsummers Day, but Summer Solstice Night Sky doesn't have the same ring does it.

18 June 2011

Passing the time....

Until Monday when I hope I will get my new machine back.  So that means another journey to Znojmo.  I have nothing against the town itself, in fact it's very nice, and the journey there is quite pretty too,  but there's lots of other things I 'd rather be doing. I understand the machine is OK, but they have ordered a mechanical quilting foot for me.  I do hope they don't think I'm going to pay for this!  I paid a lot of money for a Sapphire 875 Quilt sewing machine (there's a clue in the question) and I'm not about to pay more to make it quilt properly!

We had a few days out last weekend as we had visitors from the UK.   Despite the forecast, the weather was beautiful and we managed a few trips out.  We went out on our bikes on Saturday to Mikulov and back with quite a few stops for beer/wine/food.  This is turning into a bit of a ritual now - bike a bit, stop for a wine, have a look around some interesting monument, bike a bit further, stop again etc. etc.  You get the picture.    Then  a long walk with the dogs in the Dyje National park on Monday.    The park saddles the Czech/Austrian border and at one time the "iron curtain"  went right through the middle.   There is section of the wire fence which has been preserved and claims to be the longest remaining section in the Czech Republic.  

If you double click this, you should be able to read about it

We live right next to the border ourselves, and often walk the tracks that would once have been manned by the border guards.   There's nothing there now, other than the old barracks, but even on a hot sunny day, it  send shivers up your spine.   Along the cycle track to Mikulov, which runs very close to the original line of the fence, there are a series of new information boards, which show pictures of what it looked like, and tells stories of individuals that made it across to freedom (and some that didn't).  Unfortunately it's all in Czech and German, so I didn't understand all of it  

Moving to something a bit brighter I've also been doing a bit of knitting.   Firstly let me tell you about Gordon's mum.  She was a great knitter and crafter, and when she died I, as the only serious knitter in the family, was given all of her half finished works, plus patterns and wool.   And of course a moral obligation to continue the tradition.   At Easter there house was filled with little yellow knitted chicks with Cadbury's Cream Eggs stuffed up their bottoms (For none English readers, this is a small chocolate egg filled with white and yellow fondant cream, which appear in the shops shortly after Christmas.  They are perfect for stuffing up the bottoms of small knitted chicks). She made and sold them by the hundred.

I have yet to make more than one test chick to date, posing above, which makes me feel very guilty.(in my defence, my middle sister in law got all the sewing projects, and I don't believe she's made any Mr & Mrs Teddy bear night-dress cases either).     However, in my role as family knitter, I was presented with a pattern earlier this year for a baby comforter, and was asked if I could make one for the Church Summer Fete.  Actually, the request was for half a dozen, but I think she was only joking.   Here's what it looks like so far, although as it has no stuffing, it was very difficult to photograph.......

Scary isn't it?  It looks like some homicidal maniac has come along, ripping it out it's bones.   Frankly I am terrified to put the features on.  Let's face it, if I get it wrong I could scar some poor child for life.   If it looks scary now, what will it look like with eyes too close together and a nasty smirk on it's little teddy face?   Coz that's what'll happen.  I've got to bite the bullet and get it done this weekend though and get it off in the post.

Also I started a little crochet mat when I was at my sisters.   I bought the thread out there, because it looked so good on the reel,but It's not really right for the pattern,  It's too busy.   This is what it looks like now.

Not very impressive, it's a bit limp like the teddy, but it's almost finished now - just one more round, then some very heavy blocking.   And there's only one small mistake, although I have just frogged quite a bit of it to get rid of a couple more.

Well we've got a day planned in the garden today, then visitors coming for a barbie tomorrow, when of course the weather forecast is for storms, which has ruined many a good barbie (see here).  Have a nice weekend everyone.

09 June 2011

My day job

As I don't have any sewing to blog about, I thought I'd tell you about my office, where I spend my working hours..  It had a make over this winter, when I kicked my husband out (just out of the office, not my life in general!), and I've been meaning to take some photos and write a blog about it because I rather like it.   It's not my crafty space - I haven't got one of those, I just camp out in the dining room, and I know that's what people usually blog about.  But I'm rather pleased with it so here it is.

Unfortunately I don't have a "before" photo, but if I could just set the scene.  We rent space in an old communist built factory that used to make turbine blades.  We have the whole of the ground floor of what was the office block, and my little office is on the north side i.e. it NEVER gets any sun.   It must've once been a cash office or something similar, because the windows were painted out with white-wash and had bars on the windows.  And outside there are several heavy fir trees.  So it was very dark (and cold ).   I shared this office with my better half for over 2 years (and it was wonderful, if you're reading this dear), but it is very small and we did start to get on each others nerves a bit, so I kicked him out to an office upstairs.   Which meant I could decorate the office how I wanted to .   He's very into yellow, and I definitely didn't want yellow. 

So off came the white-wash and the bars, and on went the ..... not sure the technical term for the colour

It's actually a bit brighter than it looks here.  I've got a few bits and bobs from Ikea, my Gardeners World calendar (a nice clock from Tesco that you can't see here).  The notice board used to house some nice fabric collections that I printed out, but I took them down when we had  a quality inspection.   And, in pride of place, is my Lloyd Loom chair

In it's original colours - well original to me anyway, but I think it was once gold.   It just needs a nice quilted cushion or seat pad on it.  Or maybe the crocheted African Flowers?

The other half of the office houses a very old filing cabinet and a huge copier, which takes up loads of space but it's one of our test copiers, so beggers can't be choosers.  And you can't see the window, but I have some very nice coppery coloured blinds.

I do like it more now, but it's still dark, and bloody cold in winter.  In fact I only turned the heater off two weeks ago, when everyone else was sweating!   It's affectionately known as the Black Hole of Calcutta.

So that's where I spend my days.  Drinking coffee and catching up on your blogs.  Oh and maybe doing some work from time to time!

08 June 2011

Why me?

Can you spot what is missing from the photo below?

Sorry this not a give away - there is no prize.  It's too easy for a start.   My brand new machine, Valerie,  has gone back whence it came.   Only temporarily I hope, but still I'm a bit fed up.  No I'm not. I'm veerrryyy pissed off actually.   It started playing up the other night when I was quilting this quilt.  The thread was breaking, it was missing stiches, bunching up underneath, and the bottom thread tension is all wrong.  So I took it back to the shop today, to see if I was doing somthing wrong, but no, it looks like it's the machine.  So it's gone back to the main workshop and will no doubt be a couple of weeks.  And we all know how long 2 czech weeks can be.

Like it says in the title, why me?  I don't pull the legs off spiders or anything like that.

06 June 2011

Nice day for a barbecue

Boy did we have a lot of weather on Saturday!    The day started with a glorious blue sky and by 2pm it was 32 degrees on the patio.  I started off early by tidying up the greenhouse, but had to get out before I finished when it touched 42 in there.  So I did a bit of potting up in the shade, tidied up the cold frame and moved it to a slightly shadier spot for the summer

By 1pm though it was too much for me so I retired inside to do a bit of this

and a bit of this

Unfortunately this is pants and is going to have to be unpicked and re-done.   But it was my first time, and it went better than I thought it would.

The day was going soooo well...........................

By 3pm it had clouded over so I went back out to do a bit of weeding, but was only out there 5 mintues before the thunder started, and then the lightening.  I'm not very happy outside in the thunder so back inside for more of the same.   The storm that arrived very quickly was one of the best.  This is the garden after around just 5 minutes rain.

If you look carefully you can see the onions and the sweet corn doing the back stroke

But it cleared up so we pressed ahead with the barbie.   Sadly the storm was having a laugh and it came back, with the wind this time, just as Gordie was outside tending the barbie

But he's British, and a scout to boot, so a bit of rain wasn't going to stop him.  He's usually quite dry under there and often barbies in the rain.  But this was coming in sideways straight through the gap.

So the cry soon came up "Put the oven on! I'm stranded"   I had to let him in by the side door you can see in the photo below


The barbie was good though.   Hope you had better weather.

04 June 2011

Home again home again jiggety jig (part 2)

I was in Portugal last week with my sister.  She retired there nearly 3 years ago but this was my first visit.  She has a pretty little house just back from the coast near Faro.  This part of the coast has very little access to the beach and the sea, as it is protected by a river inlet, and lots of small islands, or sand banks.   Hence there are not so many tourists.  

We spent a lovely week together, and as Jean pointed out, probably the longest time we've spent together since I was about 10 and I used to spend time at her house in the summer holidays.   We spent a bit of time having a look round, some time socialising, a lot of swimming in the pool, dog walking every day but a lot of time relaxing and chatting.  Here's a few pictures

We passed this on our early morning walk

Not sure if you can see at the end, there's an old fashioned barber shop

And I got my walk on the beach with the dog.  I'd love to bring my two here

 All the door and windows have these pretty grills (just in case you're a burglar!)

I spent a couple of afternoons under that pergola, and lots of time in the pool

We visited a local market, where they are rather keen on snails.  No, we didn't try them

David has hewn a vegetable patch out of the rocky ground.   Not sure I'd have the fortitude to garden here.

And this is the dog they rescued, Suzie.   She's a very pretty, gentle dog, but has an unfortunate tooth that her lip gets caught on!

This was inspiration for a future quilt

Actually, the house is crying out for quilts. They would just fit in so well, and it does get cold at night in winter, so a quilt would be perfect to snuggle down under. Jean is very good at sewing, in fact she has spent most of her working life sewing, and had a small company that manufactured clothing, but unfortunately as companies moved their manufacturing to cheaper, eastern european countries, Jean had to give it up. She made a few seat covers whilst I was there, and is planning to re-cover the suite in the conservatory. She's way better than me, but I was heartened when she'd sewn the ties onto the top instead of the bottom of the seat pads (Sorry Jean). I may also have sparked an interest blogging. Jean has a passion for porcelain, in particular New Hall porcelain. She has even written a book about it, cataloguing everything they made, which is harder than it sounds, because nothing ever had their makers mark on it. How's that for marketing! Anyway, she just might start her own blog about it.

So that was my week in a nutshell. It's really nice now that I can picture their life there, and know that she is on her laptop every morning (with the dongle thing in the fruit bowl as that's the only place it'll work!). Looking forward to the next visit 

02 June 2011

Fresh sewing day

I really wanted to post yesterday to tie in with Lily's quilts Fresh Sewing Day.  But it didn't happen.   Beginning of the month is busy at work, so I don't get time for blogging from the office (It's OK I work for myself, I can do that if I want to!)  Also Wednesday is Czech lesson followed by line dancing, so Wednesday's are difficult.   So it's a day late but I hope no-one will mind.

Dissappointingly I haven't had much time on my new machine.    The garden has to take precidence, because, well it just gets out of control if not, errr, controlled.   But I have done a couple of things:

New Baby Quilt.

I did have a name for this but I'll be buggered if i can remember what it was!    Anyway, the top is finished

I was dead keen to get on with quilting it, but realised that all my basting pins are in this quilt, so I that one had to take precidence.   Whatever.    I've made a start but didn't get too far.    The weather is a bit unsettled at present so I may get some time at the weekend to do some quilting because it's raining cats and dogs. 

As an aside, the lady from whom I bought my new machine, recommended spray baste.   She hates pins and loves this spray.  Uses it all the time apparently.   And of course, she suckered me into buying some.  I was tempted to use it on the baby quilt, but decided against it.   Does anyone have any opinion on this (Stupid question I know!)

So far, I'm very pleased with Valerie, the new machine.  Actually a lot more than very pleased.     She does make everything a lot easier.  The lines are a lot straighter, but still not quite straight.  The 1/4 inch seam is a lot nearer 1/4 but not quite 100%.  And, after a full 10 mintues of FMQ, I can confirm that it is a lot easier, although still not quite perfect.   But I think that's down to me, not Valerie.!

Well that's it for now.  The settee, a glass of wine and Lord Sugar beckon.  Tomorrow I'll try to fit in a short post about my holiday in Portugal with my sister (although not too many boring photos.....  Honest)