Pillow Talk

I got with modern times last week and got a cheap Singer sewing machine which was considerably reduced and had great reviews. As much as I wanted a Janome or Bernina or other delightful powerhouse, my budget wasn’t going to stretch that far right now and I wanted to celebrate a little since I’ve got another part-time contract – this time for 11 months but I get all my worker’s rights to go with it rather than the temp contract I’m on now.

Louise very wisely brought me a pattern for pillowcases when I was learning with pao’s grandmother’s handcrank Singer and I figured that it was the best way to try out the new machine. I loved these pillow cases I’d made before.

I confess my heart had gone out of the idea of sewing after this little guy died as I knew how much he’d enjoyed himself and entertained me.

So on Sunday, I had an unexpected afternoon of leisure, I thought I’d see if Claude would step into Sirius’ pawprints as Most Helpful Cat Ever (Not with scissors).

He was fairly interested but the noise was a reasonable device to keep him from straying too near.

He liked to sit on the table with the fabric etc but wasn’t too bothered about cutting (phew). He is better as a paws off supervisor.

I’d had these three fabrics in my little stash for a while but no motivation to make something so they jumped out at me. I had been saving that little waving cat for a special project.

And here it is! I am very happy with the machine and how smoothly it runs. Time to put the sleeves on my dress now! (Yes, I know 2.5 years is a long time to procrastinate about sleeves but 2017 seems to be about finishing)

The Story of Our Quilt

Let me take you back to a day in October 2013, the protagonists being a couple of crazy paos and a kitten.

“Let’s make a quilt,” they said.
“Oh yes, the kitten is very helpful.”

And so, the quilt’s life progresses..
“Sirius is very helpful.”

Especially so as his love, the sewing machine, was out.

“Tamyra is wondering what the bits of post-it are all about.”

And so, the quilt had some edging added to it as we’d got a voucher and John Lewis had put out a limited edition special fabric. The quilt was all pieced together and I cut the back and edging.

But then we had to quilt it.

How should we quilt it?

With what should we quilt it?

What pattern should we use?

…. how do we start?

All these questions swirled in our minds as we contemplated the enormous task ahead of us. As neither of us had a clue what to do, the quilt sat languishly in a bag. There was a wrinkle in the back and we didn’t have floor space big enough to spread it to try and fix the wrinkle

And it languished, being tripped over and sighed over for several years.

Until mrspao had a relevation in 2017. A proficient and prolific quilter friend was showing off her quilts on Facecbook (other social networks are available) and it got mrspao wondering how she was churning them out so quickly as this lady had a full time job after all.

“I sent it away, of course!”
A lightbulb went on in mrspao’s head and she then sought to track this finisher of quilts down. And found her in the village hall opposite the house. Without a moment’s hesitation, she handed it over and said, “Please help. We’re desperate.”

pao and I visited the lady a few weeks later, and she gave us lots of options including, “I can finish this off for you”.

“Yes, please,” we cried.

And so we picked it up a couple of months later, just in time for our special trip for our 16th wedding anniversary.

We went champing!

Yes, that is correct, it really is camping in a church. Some people may say we cheated at the end but we chose everything and the lovely lady had the most incredible quilting set up so it wasn’t a difficult decision to hand over what we had done to get her to finish it. I’m thrilled with how it turned out!

Syjunta, Syjunta

I enjoyed my last afternoon having a Syjunta that I organised another one for today. I enjoyed tidying up and cutting these beautiful roses I found in the garden, to welcome my guests.

I got a selection of lovely cheeses and breads (and chicken for pao the cheese hater)

and got out the crockery we’d inherited from pao’s mother

and baked a lovely lemon and raspberry cake (I took a leaf out of Jeanne’s cupboards and got a Betty Crocker kit).

It was such an enjoyable afternoon. I worked on my sock surprisingly without any kitten intervention whatsoever (maybe they are growing up?)

One of my guests had given me some beads she’d made at school and I made us both some stitch markers. She is a keen crocheter so I made some with some lobster clasps which she can unclasp easily and I made myself these with split rings for knitting.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Saturday without the cats. Katerina was already sleepy before we began.

Claude was very excited by the roses which sent me straight to Google as he started licking them. Thankfully I can report that roses are not poisonous to cats!

Happy Saturday!

Drawing ‘avec des ciseaux’

On Saturday morning, I went to an art workshop intriguing named Drawing ‘avec des ciseaux’ at a gallery in town. I hadn’t really appreciated that many of Matisse’s most recognisable works were actually cutout pieces of painted paper and that he had pioneered this technique.

It was fun to recreate The Parakeet and the Mermaid with a few others.

I think my next trip to London will have to include a trip to the Tate to see this piece as it has really come alive for me.

I really enjoyed that technique and want to try some things with photos from magazines now.

We were invited to do some rolling out and playing with paint so I had to make a little catlet. 🙂

Pottery-ing about

We won a couple of tickets to do some pottery throwing at Aylesford Pottery last weekend.

We can attest it is certainly harder than it looks!

I have a new found respect for Richard’s skill at Canterbury Pottery.

Sorry pao, Richard remains my favourite potter especially when you get a wobble on.

I also gave it a go – it’s a lot of fun – quite messy!

We did see some very pretty cats, too.

Ripped and reworked

I started this beauty about two years ago but it started to feel a bit unworkable as it was so big and I wanted something that I could take places and add to bit by bit and as I didn’t have much of any of the yarns I was using it was start not to feel right.

I was teaching my friend to crochet the other weekend and I realised that it would be rather great for granny squares. I can do a square here and there standing at the bus stop and I don’t have a hulking great blanket with multiple ends to tie in to worry about. Hurrah! I figure I’m going to need about 120 squares and by my calculations I won’t have enough of the pale to edge all the squares but I can edge some of them 🙂 I’ll figure it out but it is a great stash buster.

Making Christmas

One of my most favourite gifts I like to give is time. Time is becoming so increasingly precious and the days rush on with unprecedented speed so I find that all I do is get up, rush around and rush back to bed again at the soonest opportunity. I managed in my rush to catch Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas whilst I was meant to be napping. I love decorating my friend’s house with holly and ivy each year and it got me to thinking about how lovely that is and how much I like the smell of the Christmas tree. I’ve had the spruce cut from the garden but had some leftover tree branches from putting my friend’s tree and decorations up yesterday so spruced up my current decorations with bits of pine and holly.

I had only done one windowsill so took the chance to do a second one. I am deeply in love with the cinnamon and apple candle.

I went out with the Japanese student who is staying with us for Christmas the other day and gathered lots of red berries. It was such a nice walk and we got to check out Bob’s geocaching spot in the daylight – sorry Bob – no geocache. I love the rosehips we found and Aya is a dab hand at finding holly with berries on. The seed heads are still going strong after several years in place.

Today Aya and I attempted a gingerbread house. Thankfully it is not glued together with molten glue as the ones pao and I attempted years ago were! Aya decorated the front side.

I decorated the back and roof. 🙂

This is a wreath which I made for my lovely friend Jan. It is my most favourite of the wreaths I’ve made:) This is another I made in 2012. It is also my favourite gift that I give as I like giving my time to help my lovely friend and enjoy seeing her happy face when it is all done. I love thinking about her as I go about my way collecting holly and ivy and planning where I’m going to collect it from and thinking about what a happy time we have when we deliver her greenery and Christmas tree and decorate it. I wish I could do this for more friends as it is not a chore for me but an act of love and I do love my friend dearly so it is such a pleasure for me to do so.

I’m sad to report that Sirius isn’t as remotely helpful as he used to be. He seems to have taken a more managerial role in proceedings and likes to come along to inspect things at the end!

Door Free-ath

I can’t believe that it is already mid December. This year is speeding along a bit too fast for my liking. I hope this isn’t a symptom of getting older as I’d like to slow down a bit! I was contemplating a brief afternoon nap before I get in the car to Whitstable to take my latest show at the Horsebridge Gallery down when an idea popped into my head and I rushed off out to the garden much to the surprise of two sleepy cats who were expecting nap time.

Whilst driving around, I’ve noticed lots of wreaths on front doors and I really really wanted one. I saw a woodland one in Waitrose which I was tempted by but hadn’t really got round to going and buying one. I have lots of rosemary in my garden and watching Kirsty Allsop’s Homemade Christmas programme gave me an idea. The rosemary provided the necessary greenery for the wreath shape and I left some bits hanging out for the rustic aesthetic. I had a load of things like orange slices and wire from last year and a load of pine cones I’d collected in the woods so the plan all came together. I wanted something simple so used green string to tie it all together. I didn’t use a wreath shape which might have been something I may have done if this was planned but it was immensely spontaneous 🙂 And completely FREE! 🙂

Now to go and hoover up the mess before pao comes home 🙂

Bonus photo of poor Bernard’s older handsome brother, Ralph. Isn’t he beautiful?

Sparkling creations

I’ve been so busy of late that my poor neglected blog has taken a back seat. Here is a little taste of what I’ve been up to. I made three tiaras for three little girls for Christmas. I also rejigged my jewellery making website to include a blog so there are more photos here 🙂

I think Tamyra approves of tiaras!

Dressy progress

My Saturday class is over now and I almost have a fully functioning dress – hooray!

I love it – just sleeves left to go.

Doesn’t it go with Sirius’ eyes? I’m sure he’ll sit on my lap especially. Ha ha ha!!