We went on holiday – the first one on our own (longer than a weekend) since the girls were born. We pleased ourselves what we did and when we did it. The Mademoiselles (plus the boyfriend of one of them) were the guardians of home, dogs and cats and, astonishingly, the house was still standing and the animals still present and correct when we got back.
Remember the t-shirts, years ago, that said ‘My Parents Went On Holiday and All They Bought Me Was This T-Shirt’ ? Well, due to her father’s sense of humour, this is what Mlle T. the elder got for her trouble
She wasn’t amused when I texted her this photo from the apartment we were renting in Girona. It didn’t help that the weather in France hadn’t been very good while we’d been away and she’d been looking forward to sunning herself by the pool. She’s a sensitive soul – but we gave it to her anyway.
We started off by going across the border into Andorra where, every year the Cirque du Soleil give free performances throughout the month of July. No photos but I’m sure you’ve seen events on T.V. or been to one yourself so you know they are amazing spectacles peopled by incredibly bendy, muscular and (usually) tiny athletic types.
We then crossed over on to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and proceeded on some very windy roads to a village called Bonansa and, yes, I kept humming the theme tune because I’m that old.
Around the village were several of these ermitages which are centuries old (those parts that haven’t been restored) and were used both defensively against invaders
and as places of sanctuary.
We then went further West into Aragon and to a magical medieval Moorish town called Alquezar which has labyrinthine old streets and is cut into a hillside surrounded by deep gorges.
Lots of people go canyoning but we contented ourselves with walking
of the slightly precarious kind
These walkways have been attached to the rock face so that, when the river below is in full ‘gush’, you can still walk through the gorge. I had no trouble but Mr. T is very tall and had to almost bend double to get under some of the overhanging rocks.
When we reached the end, we saw one of the paths that had been closed and, if you zoom in (click twice), you can see why.
I was glad we’d already done a circuit otherwise it might have put me off.
Oh, and we also did lots of sitting around tlaking and eating. I love it in Spain because they don’t even start dinner until around 8.30 whereas the French restaurants where I live are thinking about closing around about then.
From this vantage point we looked down into an olive grove where an old man tended his little herd of goats until late at night and the local feral cat population begged for food from the diners above.
This one nearly came home with us.
A face only a mother could love?
Then we continued on to Girona – very much back in Catalan country, with the flag of Catalonia hanging from many balconies – and spent the rest of the week there in an apartment in the old town and right on the riverside.
You know how I love to say ‘you can see our house from here’ – well, for three days I could say it every time we crossed the bridge.
We walked the old city walls for the views and to work off some of the excess eating (and drinking)
Quite a few scenes of ‘Game of Thrones’ were filmed here and (spoiler alert) one of the ice cream parlours make an ice cream in the shape of Jamie Lannister’s severed hand.
Here he is on the steps of the cathedral – I had a very nice Mojito at a café just at the foot of these steps although the people milling about on the steps looked a bit different when I was there.
I hope the cast didn’t need to use the loo too often though as this one is very high up on the old city wall and just empties directly on to the street below
So, that’s the holiday snaps over with – sorry about that but it’s nice for me to have a record of our visit and my blog’s the best place for me to put it. Back to normal i.e. sewing, crochet, knitting, patchwork, dogs and cats, next time.
On a side note, as it was my holiday reading so therefore a little bit pertinent, I read ‘Daughters of the Dragon‘ by William Andrews. Not your usual escapist holiday read but a very good fictional account (though based on historical facts) of the so called ‘comfort women’ taken from Korea as young as thirteen and used as sex slaves by the Japanese army in World War II. Tortured and abused some of the survivors – women now in their seventies and eighties – are still asking for acknowledgement and some sort of repentance from the Japanese government who were aware of the provision of these ‘comfort stations’. Shocking but also an interesting look into Korean history, the author was inspired to write the story by his Korean daughter and asks that readers spread the word by leaving reviews and mentioning it on social media in order to increase the awareness of the fate of these, often forgotten, women. I’m happy to oblige.
All the blocks are now finished for my Liberty Hatbox Wallhanging and I have the fabric for the backing, the sashing and the quilting can begin.
This bright one was a bone of contention as I didn’t feel it went with the rest of the blocks although lots of you did.
I made another one to try it out. The hatbox fabric is a Liberty of London tana lawn which has a musical ‘Hello Kitty’ theme and I’ve been looking for an excuse to use it.
I don’t actually prefer this block to the other one but I think it fits in with the others better.
Here’s the first trial layout which includes the bright one.
and here’s the second that includes the Hello Kitty one.
What do you think? The jury’s still out and I haven’t joined anything together yet.
I chose this fabric from a local shop for the backing. I was going to do it using scraps or just any old thing but, in the end, I wanted something I liked because even if you won’t be able to see it I will know it’s there.
You can just make out the simple machine quilting I’ve done – it has to be simple machine quilting otherwise I can’t do it 🙂 .
Here’s a front view of the one and half blocks I’ve quilted so far – well I’ve quilted two blocks really but couldn’t get two complete ones in the photo and still show the quilting. Still, you get my drift.
I’ve just echoed the lines of the hatbox and done some widely spaced horizontal lines across the background.
Now for the sashing. It just so happened that Liberty of London had a sale on and they had what I think might be the perfect tana lawn to use to represent something that looks like the grain of wooden shelving or some sort of compartments separating the hatboxes. It was reduced to £9 per metre from £22.50 which is cheap enough for any old fabric, let alone Liberty tana lawn. I think it would make a really nice man’s shirt too. (I think they’ve still got some fabrics in the sale at that price here.)
What do you reckon?
I might have added the Liberty shop money box to my basket at the same time. Oops!
Ooh, and a tea-towel.
I might make it into a cushion – or a beach bag.
Only ten hatboxes left to quilt for my wallhanging and now Kate over at Tall Tales from Chiconia has completed all the hatbox blocks she needs for the quilt she’s making with hers so she can begin thinking about quilting and assembly now too.
Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts.
Today I spotted some unusual mushrooms in the garden
An unusual turquoise-y green colour I thought might be poisonous so I didn’t touch them.
It crossed my mind they might be birds’ eggs fallen out of a nest.
I was going to Google ‘small turquoise fungi’ after walking the dogs but on my way back down the hill from our walk I realised it wasn’t necessary.
Sometimes I worry.
Another ‘should’ve gone to Specsavers’ moment?
Remember I told you I was joining in with a CAL (crochet along), where a new section is added each month for twelve months?
Or perhaps you have a life?
Nevertheless, I promised you puff stitch and here it is in the section for June which has been crocheted directly on top of the section for May which is the way of these things I believe.
This is the ‘Sunshine and Showers’ CAL from Jane Crow – first issued monthly in a magazine last year and now available for free on Jane’s blog.
I am still a beginner really so I thought this would teach me some new skills.
This month I learnt how to do flower stems, puff stitch, crochet into front of loop, crochet into back of loop to name just a few thrills and spills. Nobody can say I don’t know how to live.
See the turquoise row? Well that had me foxed because it comes out as a sort of separate strand on the wrong side of the work at first and I didn’t think that was right so I undid it all and tried it a different way which, of course, was wrong. Eventually I found a photograph of the back of the work on somebody’s Ravelry project and realised I had done it correctly the first time. So, it would have been useful to have been given a ‘rear view’ for this particular row in the otherwise very detailed tutorial. Still, I got there in the end and am almost finished the second, identical piece ready to add on the next bit when it is issued next month.
With all these different stitches, colour changes and my inexperience, I am worrying about the edges of the blanket becoming wavy – a problem some other people have mentioned on Ravelry. I know this yarn is acrylic but I’m sort of blocking it as I finish each section – i.e. spraying it with some water and pinning it to size – hoping it will limit the waviness somewhat.
It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I had put two crochet books on my list which my daughter obliged me with so look out for amigurumi monsters and faux taxidermy which might, or might not, be flying off my hook some time in the future – although it will probably not be the near future. I am finding the zebra’s head a little intimidating so I might start with the mouse’s head as, with all the cats around here, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a life model should I need one – although there probably wouldn’t be much life left in it by the time I got to it 😦 Still, they haven’t dragged a zebra through the cat flap yet so I’ll have to make do.
You might remember that I started a ‘fusion’ blanket a while ago which is a sort of fabric/crochet hybrid. Squares of fabric with wadding in between and each square surrounded by a border of crochet. I thought it would be a good portable project to do with my sewing buddy on Wednesday afternoons. I haven’t been doing any of it at home – apart from sewing the fabric ‘sandwiches’ together – saving it for Wednesdays. She however forged ahead without me which is why my work still looks more or less like this……
…..and hers looks like this
This is a proposed layout, just needs whip stitching together then an outer crochet border added. Still, it’s so pretty that it has encouraged me to get on with mine and stop moaning about the splitty cotton yarn I’m using and the 2.5mm crochet hook which both come as a shock after using a 4mm hook and DK yarn on the two other blankets I’m working on.
As a bit of a diversion from all things crochet I had a commission for one of my étui cartonnage boxes but not a hexagonal one this time. A previous client asked me for one of the small boxes I make which was quite a relief as I’ve lost my box making mojo at the moment – I’m sure you know the feeling 😉 . Anyway, her brief was brief but rabbits were mentioned.
So, here be rabbits
with some floral goings on inside
Off to the hairdressers in a minute to ‘have my roots done’ and when you see the photos of me in my next post you will understand why.
You might remember that I asked your advice several times about my Friendship Braid quilt – what colour to do the border when there were so many different colours in the centre, whether I could (or should) use a vintage sheet for the border and possibly the backing and whether or not to use a professional quilting service for the first time.
As usual, I canvassed opinion and then wilfully ignored most of it. I ended up going for a green and white gingham vintage sheet for the border whereas most of you suggested red and, having got your reassurance that I could probably use a sheet for the backing too, changed my mind and went for extra wide quilting cotton.
It was whilst searching for extra wide backing that I came across The Quilt Sandwich who have a wide range of backings in lots of different designs and at reasonable prices. I also found, coincidentally, that they have a longarm quilting machine and offer a quilting service.
It was meant to be.
Fiona operates from The Royal Bridlington Hotel in Yorkshire and was very helpful when I asked for her advice on the particular shade of green for the backing and also for which quilting design to go for on a top with an already busy design.
Once Fiona had received the quilt and could confirm that the shade of green matched those in the quilt I opted for a crosshatch patterned fabric and the quilting design I chose, again with Fiona’s guidance, is called ‘Twine’.
This is how it came back to me after quilting. I wanted to ‘reconnect’ with it again myself so, although Fiona offers a binding service, I just asked her to cut it for me ready for binding and did it myself.
I decided to heed the advice I ignored last time and introduced some red. It was supposed to be wider than this but I attached the double fold binding by machine, as I would have if I’d left some excess batting and backing – ie. with a 1/4 inch seam – and then realised I wouldn’t have had any filling in my binding. Of course, with a wide border like this I should have attached the binding at half an inch and then taken in the batting and backing as it had been trimmed. I’m so used to working with blocks lately that go right up to the edge that I’d forgotten.
So, I just folded the binding onto itself and then over to the back before handstitching it down which resulted in a skimpier binding than I’d intended but at least it wasn’t all floppy. It did compromise my previously
perfect acceptable mitred corners a bit but it doesn’t really show.
What do you think?
Here’s the back in all it’s professionally quilted glory.
It’s a strange size at 60 x 66 inches (172 x 187 cm) so a topper for a small double bed or a generous single bed size. The only single sized bed in the house is in the Bermuda Triangle otherwise known as Mlle. Tialys the Younger’s bedroom and, once it goes in there, I might never see it again.
So before it disappears from my life until at least the next re-decoration project I have flung it over a couple of surfaces so that I can at least look at the photos.
I thought long and hard about using a professional quilting service because I wondered whether it was ‘cheating’ on some sort of level. Realistically, my skills – such as they are – are definitely in piecing and although I will continue doing quilt as you go where the quilt design allows and perhaps the smaller (much smaller) quilting projects, Fiona has done such a good job and the price was so reasonable that I would certainly go back to her if and when I make another large quilt that doesn’t lend itself to QAYG. After all, I reasoned, if I had the space and the money for a longarm quilting machine and the patience to learn how to use one, or if I had a friend just down the road who had one, I would never ever quilt on a domestic machine again so what’s the difference? It’s also something I’ve wanted to try and I’m very pleased I did.
If you are in the U.K. – or in France with a commuting husband willing to drag quilt tops and then completed quilts back and forth with him – or you just want to see a really good range of extra wide backings, go and have a look at Fiona’s site here .
One of my daughters has a blog which, unless you are an avid gamer, you won’t be subscribed to. I am a follower but only to show support as I don’t understand what she’s talking about half the time not having played computer games since they phased out Space Invaders. I am therefore not qualified to make comments on her post but usually press the ‘Like’ button as it amuses me to see my little house avatar in amongst the ‘cool’ ones of the gamers.
Anyway, when she first started the blog she had a cat’s face in a slice of avocado as her avatar – a bit like the ‘breaded cat’ phenomenon but with avocado. Understandably, she wasn’t really sold on it as it didn’t reflect her blog content (even though it does reflect her sense of humour!). By chance, she met a girl on a train and they got talking about gaming matters and the girl could also draw. So she asked her if she would draw a new avatar – it was a long train journey – and it has now been adopted for
‘The Dragon’s Tea Party’ blog.
Both my daughters are addicted to tea – I blame myself although it could be worse. They aren’t dragons though – just to be clear.
She has a new job to start in July which will involve a move from London to Dorset and her first ‘proper’ flat which she will share with her boyfriend who is also into gaming (luckily) and I anticipate there will be a lot of a particular nerdy/geeky sort of décor around the place
So, as a little housewarming gift, I dropped my feed dogs, attached the darning needle and came up with this.
I was going to attempt the freehand embroidering of the name of the blog too but I was so pleased with the dragon I didn’t want to push my luck in case it all went pear shaped. I’ve used more fabric that I usually do so it’s a bit more freehand machine appliqué than freehand machine embroidery but I wanted to get the green colour just right.
As I used scraps of fabric I’ll add this to Kate and Gun’s ScrapHappy day which you can read about and see links to the other participants here
I’m in the dressmaking doldrums at the moment despite having several patterns I want to make and the fabric to make them with. So, just to get my hand back in I thought I’d run up a quick dress on the overlocker for my daughter. I used New Look 6125 which is a very simple dress pattern but decided to make it in a stretch knit fabric.
The front was cut out on the fold and, because I didn’t need to put in a zip, I thought I’d do the same with the back but there seemed to be quite a bit of shaping on the back piece – for those people who have a bottom, presumably – which didn’t lend itself to being cut like that so I cut it in two pieces.
It’s not often a good idea when I decide to go maverick.
Looking quite good.
I did lower the neckline as the original seemed unflatteringly high to me. I probably could have left the darts out though.
Nice pattern matching at the sides
I know it will be fairly obvious to everybody else (at least those who have a modicum of knowledge about dressmaking) but how could that happen when I have the sides matching? Why do I still keep making rookie mistakes in my dressmaking endeavours? Perhaps I don’t take it seriously enough.
As for my daughter – I told her she’ll just have to walk backwards.