Some More Practice, A Bit of Tidying and Some Sadness

 

F2F Quilt Label

As you will know, if you come here often, I have just finished putting together my quilt from the F2F Block Swap and I have inexpertly written out a label in permanent ink on fabric and attached it to one of the back corners to prove it.

So, that’s done then.

I was the first out of the hat to receive blocks for the next round so I decided that, before getting going on the next nine months of making three blocks for each participant, I’d better get my house in order.  Well, the part of my house that is my sewing room anyway – the rest of it lies sadly neglected as usual although I do have to do a bit of ‘damp dusting’ this afternoon as my Mum’s coming to stay.  Her eyesight isn’t what it used to be though so she won’t be able to see the rugs closely enough to know that one of my dogs is severely in moult at the moment.

Despite the fact that I’ve made any number of fabric storage boxes and bought shedloads of Ikea’s ‘fold this bit of floral card up into a box shape’ triple packs, I have come to the realisation that nothing really does the job like a bit of see-through plastic and a label.  So, I bought some, promptly filled them, then had to go and buy some more.

Plastic Storage Bins

These are most of them, but not all – there are two large ones labelled ‘Liberty Tana Lawns’ off camera:/  A fabric that I rarely use for anything but one that I can’t resist when I see it, still less when I feel it and at least I can get it out every now and again, Golem -like, and indulge in some stroking.  Still it all looks more ‘accessible’ now and is mostly divided into colours so when I’m reaching for the specific tones that people have asked for in their F2F blocks, I will know exactly where to find them.

In a slight digression – wouldn’t be my blog without at least one would it? I share my workroom with lots of vintage haberdashery items.  I’m not always sure why but, when I see them, I can’t resist adding them to my collection (are you noticing a trend?).  Anyway, you may or may not remember the fabric I bought that screamed ‘Hexagonal Sewing Box’ at me – well, I listened and it has come to pass.

Hexagonal Sewing Box - Haberdashery

See! I knew I’d need an old printers’ drawer some time.  I actually have another one mounted on the wall downstairs with which I amuse myself by trying to find teeny tiny things to display in those teeny tiny compartments.

Anyway, back to the patchwork blocks.  I have been practicing my paper piecing and behold my second attempt.

Paper Pieced Star for F2F 2016/2017

In case it turned out O.K. I made it in the colours I’ve chosen for my next quilt and I’m pretty happy with it.  There’s something about designs like this one – where it looks as if the square is threaded through the star – that make me absurdly happy in a childlike kind of way.  I can’t draw or paint but I love the fact I can achieve this effect in fabric.  I know, I’m easily pleased but there are no grilled, salted almonds or alcohol involved so I count patchwork porn as one of my lesser vices.

In a sudden change of mood I have had some sadness lately.  My lovely cat Beau, plucked from the refuge as a kitten with his sister Betty and bought home to live with us for the past nine years, has been missing for four weeks.

Beau - chat perdu

He is identified with a tattoo in his ear (which they do a lot in France) and is sterilised.  His photograph and details are on Pet Alert on Facebook, the Chat Perdu webiste and all the bins, bottle banks and poster sites in the village.  There is no sign of him.

He has always reminded me of the fish ‘Dory’ in Finding Nemo who had a short term memory of about 30 seconds.  He would start eating, get distracted by something and wander off, only to forget he’d been fed in the first place and come back to ask for food.  I’m hoping he’s just sort of forgotten where he lives and, any time now, he’ll remember and come back.

If you see him,  let me know😦

 

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Finished F2F Quilt – Bring On the Next One

Folded Quilt

What’s that bundle of lovely turquoiseness?*    I hear you ask.

*made up word

Can she possibly have finished putting together those 36 pieced patchwork blocks – 33 of which were sent to her from Australia, the States, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. as part of the F2F Block Swap?  Yes,  she has.

12inch block sampler quilt

I had a little help in the last stages

Sewing in the Sun

although as I had to unpick quite a lot of the work I did that day, maybe I should work alone in future

Cat with PatchworkAs will be obvious to most, if not all of you, the design on the back of the quilt had to be reversed – a bit like when you’re printing out something you’re going to transfer on to something else so you have to flip it round.  Well, I didn’t.  So my cunning design on the back was all random and not how I wanted it to be so rows had to be unpicked and re-joined.

Never mind, it’s done now.

Quilt As You Go Sampler Quilt Back View

I used the Quilt As You Go Method which is ideal for this sort of quilt.  Each 12.5 inch square block was layered together with batting and backing and quilted individually.  The resulting ‘mini quilts’ were then joined together with sashing and regular readers will be pleased to know that I remembered to ‘butt up my backing’ this time so no squidgy empty bits in the middle.  This is the best quilting I’ve ever done because it was so easy to get each 12.5 inch ‘quilt sandwich’ under the machine.  That is a Superking sized bed so there would have been a lot of quilt to push around under an ordinary sewing machine.

A risky ‘flung on the grass’ photo shoot.

Sampler Quilt

‘Risky’ because I have 3 dogs and 5 cats who are enthusiastic garden users.

Much less risky and probable, eventual home.

Superking Size Sampler Quilt

Thank you to all the participants in the block swap – as you can see, all your hard work has made for a lovely quilt which will be well used.  Also, knowing there are other people waiting to see the results of their efforts is a really good kick up the arse incentive for getting a quilt finished in a much quicker time than one is used to doing.  No languishing in the WIP pile for this baby.

Not all twelve of us are joining up for the next F2F swap – some have other commitments – but we have a few newcomers and there will be nine for the next one so perhaps I’ll make just a double sized quilt or even a couple of lap quilts .

Speaking of which, I’ve been practising my Paper Piecing and, while still not perfect, I’m happy enough to show you the whole photo this time without censoring the bottom half and it just happens to be in the colours I’ve chosen for the next round which is just as well because it starts next month and my name was first out of the hat to receive blocks.  Eek! Here we go again.

Practising Paper Piecing

Bring it on!

Now, I really must do some housework.  Well, after I’ve had a cup of coffee……

 

 

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55 Comments

Make Do and Mend

I used to ‘do’ upholstery.  I have all the gear – a hide mallet, tack remover, a webbing stretcher, hammers, tacks, horsehair, etc. etc. but after a few years I went off the idea.  I bought a chaise longue (interestingly, not called that in France unless you mean a garden recliner) from a junk shop and did it up but, nine years later, it had got a bit faded, saggy and generally in need of a facelift.  I know the feeling.  It was still comfortable – ask my dogs! – and the framework is very good as it was made before the days when most furniture is made to be chucked out after a few years, so I decided to pay somebody to re-do it for me.  It took her about a week – it would have taken me much more.
Chaise Longue Turkish Fabric

I can’t get a brilliant photo because it is next to a French window and the light is shining on the metallic threads so it is not quite as ‘blingy’ as this  but you get the idea.  I got the fabric from Turkey and could have had red to go with the cushions on my sofa but decided to go a bit mad with the orange – although there are dark red bits on it which you can’t see for the duff lighting.

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Anyway, to make up for being lazy with the upholstery, I decided to buy some more of the Turkish fabric – both in the orange and also some red mixtures – and make new cushion covers for the L-shaped sofa we have as the current ones are splitting at the seams and spewing feathers all over the place.  Two completed ones above although not being displayed on their intended sofa because this one has better lighting.  Mr. Tialys has insisted – despite my protestations and tears – that they should all have piping.   I drew the line at zips though and they will all have envelope backs albeit generous ones.  Two down sixteen to go.

Then I had a couple of dog collars to make and, while I had the webbing to hand, I fixed my neighbour’s sandals.

sandals

All of which is to explain why my F2F quilt is still not finished.

Kate who, along with Sue, organized twelve of us for this block swap, is keen to see another finished quilt so I am trying to steam ahead with it and thought I’d do a progress report and prove to her that I am on the case.

QAYG Blocks

Thirty six blocks have been sandwiched and ready quilted (I’m using the ‘quilt as you go method’).  This will be the second row but I have laid them out as a double row for ease of photography.

backs of QAYG blocks

The backs of the blocks where you can see some of the quilting – machine only I’m afraid but I am trying out different methods such as free motion quilting on some of them as, at this stage, they are like mini quilts and easy to get under the machine.

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I had enough of this blue marbled fabric to do the requisite amounts of backing blocks but didn’t chant the ‘think twice cut once’ mantra  and so ended up two squares short.    After a fruitless search for more of the same fabric – including an unanswered pleading email to the wholesale supplier  (thanks for that Pascale & Beatrix) – I may have to ‘make do and mend’ by joining (as above) and quilting in a cunning manner to hide the join line.   ***

quilt cornerstones

Using the four backing fabrics, I made some improvised blocks for cornerstones.

F2F Patchwork Block

This block, from Emmely, was a natural choice for one of the corner blocks of the quilt and lends itself to my favourite form of quilting – on the machine, in the ditch, easy!

back of quilted QAYG Block

and it also worked well with the back.

Some of the blocks were a little ‘scant’ when I came to join them and didn’t quite get taken into the seams of the sashing strips.  I used this printed tape, attached with bondaweb and then sewn into the seam allowance at the top to hide the gap and prevent fraying.  It’s not an ideal solution but I couldn’t lower the sashing strip any more otherwise I’d risk losing details from the adjoining blocks.  Any other ideas gratefully received as I’m sure I’ll come across other anomalies when I join the remaining rows.

Repairing Scant Measurements

So, here’s one row sashed vertically and once horizontally just to prove that I am getting on with it.

MyF2FQuiltConstruction First Row

I’m waiting for more piping cord to arrive in the post now and all of my neighbour’s other sandals are in good condition so no more excuses and, hopefully, the next images will be of the finished quilt.

Now I’ve put it in print I have to do it!

*** My friend Sandra returned from a week in Spain, had her fabric stash raided and, as I suspected she might, had a length of the turquoise marbled fabric hidden away in there which is now with me😉

SPOILER!! The block row joining is not going as well as I had hoped – the seam ripper has been put into service and many many tiny stitches have had to be undone.  This is mainly due to the fact that I was concerning myself more with attaching the sashing nicely and not with butting up the batting properly so ending up with empty sashing which is not a good look (or feel).  Although, now that I’ve put it down in plain type,  I think ‘butting up the batting’ ought to be a phrase brought into common usage.

 

 

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37 Comments

New Tricks

This is Taz, one of my three dogs.

DSC_0012

He is old(ish) – he’ll be 11 this year – but it’s not him learning new tricks, it’s me but I’m much older than 11 and not as good looking in close-up.

If you remember, I have been taking part in a patchwork block swap called F2F  (organised by Kate and Sue) which involved twelve women from around the globe, making three patchwork blocks a month and sending them to one of the recipients in turn so that all twelve of us end up with 36 blocks, having made 3 for ourselves to turn into a quilt. ( You can read about it here if you are interested.)  Well, I was leisurely putting my blocks together and joined up for the next swap which starts in June when my name got drawn out of the hat first so I will be the first person to receive blocks – probably in around 7 weeks time.  So, that’s put a fire under me and I’m  now desperately trying to get the first quilt finished before the new blocks arrive.  I have learnt a lot from doing this swap and have started trying new things and challenging myself a bit so that the blocks I send to the other participants are not boringly safe or complete pants.

This time, there are only nine of us but that’s O.K. because we can either make a slightly smaller quilt or make more blocks for ourselves.  I have persuaded my Wednesday sewing friend Sandra to join the swap this time which will be a challenge as English is not her first language, she doesn’t blog and is a bit scared of the computer.  We usually find a project to sew together on Wednesdays and, lately, I’ve been running out of ideas.  Here’s our latest project.

OwlTeacosies

Who wouldn’t want an owl as a tea cosy?  Cute aren’t they and will also be useful once I have stopped using mine as a mannequin head which is creeping out anyone who enters my sewing room.

Mannequin and Tea Cosy

The free pattern and tutorial is by Buzy Day here if you want to repel all visitors during sewing time as I try to do unless they are bearing a cup of tea.

Despite owl cuteness, I thought we might be better employed doing something more patchwork(y) now she’s got involved in the swap.  So, for a project last Wednesday afternoon I decided to try paper piecing and forced encouraged Sandra to join me.  Lordy!  What a revelation to the uninitiated.  Not having a light box, we were holding printed patterns and teensy bits of paper up against her windows and trying to join things up backwards and in reverse.  Lots of unpicking was done and I’m sure I saw her take a headache pill at the end of our session.  I continued at home and although I’m chuffed to bits with my first try at a paper pieced block it is not fit for eyes other than my own and so I will show you the half that is only a bit terrible and not the half that went completely to pot.

Half a Paper Pieced Block************************CENSORED*****************************

I think I might actually grow to like paper piecing so I made a light box out of an Ikea box frame and one of those little LED lights that you can stick up somewhere and press for ‘on’.  Basic, but it works and was free as I already had the two components lying around.

Homemade Light Box

I’ve also been trying out free motion quilting on my blocks as I’m ‘quilting as you go’ with this quilt – two new tricks for me in one there –  with varying degrees of success.  FMQ is a lone pursuit and requires you to concentrate like hell while apparently needing to be chilled out at the same time.  I think I’m relaxed then realise my shoulders are up around my ears with the tension.  One YouTube tutorial I watched was by a very sensible lady who suggested you might like to have a glass of wine by your side to help you relax.  A woman after my own heart but I’d be too scared to knock it over on to my fabric.  Maybe it would be better to have one before – and then maybe another one after.  I do need lots more practice but, to date, have been achieving some (very) free form designs which are just about acceptable although how anybody manages to do some of the more intricate FMQ designs I have no idea.  The whole bottle of wine by your side perhaps?

I am far too easily distracted – I blame it on being a Gemini – although I’m not really a believer in astrology it’s just that I can’t think of a better excuse.  For instance, once I had walked the dogs and fed the seemingly ever growing menagerie that lives in our house this morning, I had a whole day free and thought I’d get on with the quilting.  However!  I bought some fabric the other day I’m dying to turn into a sewing box and so I thought, ‘I’ll just get all the pieces cut out so they’ll be ready to put together in the future’ – a stage of the box making which is by no means quick – and ‘whoosh’ there went the rest of the morning.  Now, at lunchtime, instead of eating, I realised I hadn’t posted anything for ages so here I am telling you about what I should be doing instead of doing it.  Hey ho.  There’s always this afternoon.

Haberdashery Fabric by Makower

Fabric is Haberdashery Box by Makower

So, I’m learning FMQ, paper piecing and QAYG and, for my next trick I became a model for a day.

I am involved with a group that raises funds for our local dog and cat shelter and we decided to do something a little different.  We get lots of second hand clothes donated and, to be honest, they don’t look that inviting when hung up or laid out in piles like a jumble sale.  So, we decided that six of us would pick out something from the donations that suited us (or fitted us) and do a ‘fashion show’.  We hired a hall with a stage, some steps and somebody lent us a runner to use as a ‘catwalk’.  One of the organiser’s  partners is a D.J. so we could walk down the catwalk to music and we had a ‘presenter’ who read out descriptions of the outfits we had written ourselves – mostly in humorous fashion and we had clothes by designers such as ‘Terry Err from London’ , ‘Walter Spanielle from Yorkshire’  and ‘Beau de Collie from Paris’.  In other words, helped by a glass of champagne on arrival, everybody had a good laugh.  We modelled five outfits each and they were on sale afterward for 5 euros each.  All the remaining clothes were sold for whatever people chose to put in the donation box.

Fund Raising Amateur Fashion Show

We made a whopping 1400 euros for the Shelter which I can’t help but consider in terms of how many castrations that will pay for😉

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37 Comments

A Sunday Sorbetto

TimeforTealDresdenPlate

Time for Teal (2)

In case you thought I had totally given up on dressmaking in favour of patchwork and kitten rearing, I thought I’d post about a ‘wearable’ fabric item for a change.

Ages ago I showed you some fabrics I had bought on a shopping trip to Toulouse and, almost as long ago, I actually started to make something out of one of those fabrics. Since then, it has been on a hanger in my sewing room waiting for the warmer weather to make an appearance and inspire me to finish it.

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Nothing exciting really, just a Sorbetto with sleeves but I thought it suited this gauzy fabric and the pleat down the front serves as a little ‘modesty panel’ because, as you can see below, you would need to have your best bra on if standing in front of a sunny window.

As the fabric is so fine, I used French seams.  These are apparently called English seams here in France in the same way (sort of) that those horrible ‘hole in the ground’ loos are called ‘Turkish toilets’ by the French but ‘French toilets’ by the Turks.  This is according to my friend Sandra who may well be mistaken – although she is French so I tend to take her word for these things.

french seams

The fact that I had run out of good weather by the time this top was nearly finished last October was not the only reason for the delay but I decided an ordinary hem wouldn’t look right on the fine fabric and wanted to do a rolled hem.  I can never be bothered to change the spools on my overlocker unless it is for a VERY good reason and I also don’t like unscrewing one of the needles in order to do a rolled hem so I kept putting it off.   The jersey pencil skirt I made recently, however, required a navy thread and, as a bonus, I broke the left hand needle while I was overlocking the seams so that presented me with the perfect opportunity to do a rolled hem on the blouse and complete an early ‘me-made’ addition to my Summer wardrobe.

rolled hem

I put it on for the photo but it hadn’t quite reached ‘thin blouse temperatures’ as you can tell by the tights so it’ll be going in the wardrobe until it warms up  a bit more.

bluebirdblouse (1)

I wish that Romeo bloke would just leave me alone.

The top photo – to get back to patchwork for a minute – is the second block I’m going to be sending off to Kate for her ‘Time for Teal’ quilt she is making to raise funds for ovarian cancer.  It’s been ages since I made a Dresden Plate block – I hope that doesn’t show too much – and big thanks to Ali at Thimberlina for sending me some pieces of leftover teal fabric she had after she also made blocks for Kate.  I was having trouble finding the right colours in my stash or in the limited local fabric shops.

I’ve just eaten a home-made hot cross bun – courtesy of my daughter – and I’m intending to tuck into some chocolate Easter egg tonight – courtesy of Mr. T .

A Happy Easter to you too.

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31 Comments

A Tale of Two Kitties – The Final Part (possibly)

Yuki here – I’m guest blogging today.  Do you remember when I was very little and my fur was all scraggy and I had a broken tail and couldn’t eat?  I had just spent some days stuck behind a wall and I cried so much that I strained myself and can’t meow now only a little growl comes out.  The Missus says they should have called me Eartha Kitt but I think that might be a little joke – well it makes her laugh.  If you missed the beginning of my story you can read it here

Tiny KittenI had three brothers and even though they were much stronger than me the Missus decided to take all of us in instead of leaving us to live ‘in the wild’ which sounds quite exciting but I don’t think it would be really.  We were around 3-4 weeks old then.

These are my brothers.

Three Tabby Kittens

We lived in the spare bedroom and after a lot of this…..

bottle feeding kitten

……..and even more of this

Yuki (2)

……..two of my brothers got adopted and Mac and I now live here all the time which is lovely even though the Missus took us somewhere the other day where we met a man who made us go all woozy, then go to sleep and when we woke up it seemed he had been practising doing sewing on us.  Apparently it’s so that there is less chance of more kittens like us being born around here.

 The Mister calls us the ‘Golden Kittens’ because, even though there are four other cats in the house, we are the only ones allowed to stay in at night with a litter tray and we have special ‘kitten food’ and, if we stray too far, there is panic.

Mac&Yuki 6 Months (2)

So, 5 months later, this is us and we have definitely reached the top of the cat tree.

Although I have always had it in me……….

kitten in slipper

…………now I’m older I wanted to learn how to smize* properly so I have been copying Tyra Banks.

tyra banks smizing

Mac&Yuki 6 Months (1)What do you think?  Have I cracked it?

* to smize – smiling with your eyes as advocated by Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model.  If you want a laugh to learn how to do it like Tyra just click on her photo above.

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A Quilting We Will Go…….

 

TimeforTeal Block

Time For Teal

Having received all my blocks from the F2F block swap back at the end of October and having signed up to do it all over again later this year, I really want to get this quilt finished before starting the next swap.  I have made a start by laying out the blocks in rows as they will appear on the final quilt and then putting them into bundles of eight blocks not forgetting to label each bundle with the row number.

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 Some of the participants are making a  couple of smaller quilts with their 36 12.5 inch blocks but I have a Superking size bed so a huge quilt is needed in my case.   Apart from the quilt we made for Pat which we rushed to get finished in order for her to see it before succumbing to ovarian cancer,  Avis from Sew Tempting was the first to finish her quilt which is beautiful and has inspired me to get a move on.

These are the four backing fabrics I’m using which I chose to coordinate with the top.

backing fabric F2F quilt

Here is my complicated and technical ‘plan’ for which blocks will be backed with which colour.  I know you’ll be mightily impressed but I have to keep it simple otherwise I get a headache😉

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 The four corners I’m not sure about yet  but I’ll think of something.

My hand quilting is not perfect by any means and I am very slow at it too and, with such a large quilt, I would be here forever if I attempted to do it all by hand.  My machine is not particularly adapted for quilting and I couldn’t bear the thought of forcing the huge quilt sandwich through it so I am using the quilt as you go method.  This way, I can make each block into a sandwich with the backing and a layer of wadding and quilt them individually.  I am going to use this tutorial which has been recommended to me by several of my quilting friends in blogland.

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This also means I can quilt each block according to the design on the front.  Much easier to handle – although I’m still not quilting them all (if any) by hand!

This is the turquoise batik I’m going to use for the sashing

turquoise sashing

and here’s one of the blocks I’ve made into a ‘sandwich’ so far  – it’s one of the lovely blocks that Kate, who jointly organised the F2F swap, sent me.

quilt as you go block

Apologies for the garish yellow background but the only decent light for photography that day was underneath the skylight in my workroom which is where my ironing board normally sits and that’s the cover!

Since we made the quilt for Pat which will be auctioned in aid of an ovarian cancer charity in the U.S., Kate decided to contact the equivalent organisation in Melbourne and offer to make a quilt – using teal and cream or tan to raise funds for them.  She asked her blog followers if anybody wanted to contribute a block or two so I made the one in the top photograph which I’m hoping she will be able to use in the centre of the quilt which she wants to resemble a large tablecloth laid out for tea.  I didn’t have any teal fabrics at that stage but did have some teal coloured thread so used it for the appliqué stitching and for the ‘tea pouring’ effect.  Then there will be a border of dresden plate blocks so I’m going to have a go at making one with the help of some pieces of teal fabric kindly sent to me by Ali over at Thimberlina who has also made a couple of blocks for the quilt.  Then, there will be an outer border of more freestyle blocks made using the same colours.  Kate is calling it ‘Time For Teal’  – she does love a pun.

When we moved into our house there was a huge, hand made ladder hanging up in the shed.  It was really too big and probably too dangerous to actually climb up so Mr. T recently treated it for woodworm, sanded it down, gave it a couple of coats of varnish and cut it in half.

I’m using one of the halves for a quilt ladder.

QuiltLadder

I am running out of room to drape, throw, fold and generally exhibit quilts around the house so it seemed like a good idea to store and display several of them at once.   It doesn’t normally stand in front of a door but there wasn’t enough natural light to take a photo of it in its usual position.  Luckily I am a very slow quilt maker but there is always the second half of the original ladder to fill.

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37 Comments

Any Old Iron

A bit of a vintage or antique thing going on today, depending on what side of the pond you’re from.  According to Etsy (who are a U.S. company) anything over 20 years old is vintage and anything over 50 years old is antique.  Thanks Etsy!  In the U.K. I think items have to be over 100 years old to be an antique and I’ll let you know whether that bothers me if I get that far.

Anyway, a little while ago during one of my frequent rummages in dusty old barn type places I came across this old clock face.  I wasn’t even sure if it was old or a modern item that had just got a bit battered.  I thought it was made of concrete but Mr. T thinks it is like lava rock but, anyway, it was only 20 euros and I had in mind making a little garden table out of it if I could find a suitable base.

Paul garnier clock face

When I got it home I decided to do a bit of research and it turns out that it is indeed old (19th century) and appears to be by the famous French clockmaker, Jean-Paul Garnier, who was an early pioneer in the unification of time on the railway system.

Like this one in fact.

PaulGarnierClock

(photo by Stefan Sonntag found on Google Maps here)

Apparently this is in a railway station in Syria.

( I hope Mr. Sonntag doesn’t mind me using his lovely photograph from Google images but I have linked to his work just below the photo.)

Recently I stopped at the same Brocante again and there was not one but three iron bases lined up against the wall.  So, having kept my eye out for one for a few months now it seems that, like buses, iron table bases come all at once.

Iron Base

I think Mr. T. will mount the clock face to a wooden board before fixing it on the stand as we don’t want to mess with the face.  Then it will go on the garden terrace – maybe – or stay indoors, I can’t decide yet.  What do you think of it?  The hole in the middle will have some sort of ‘decorative bung’ inserted but I’ve just balanced it on top for now to show you.

ClockTable (1)

This may well be a unique table in the truest sense of the word.  Talking of which, it literally drives me mad when I see things being described as ‘unique’ when people only mean ‘unusual’ or ‘a bit rare’.  Note that I have used the word ‘literally’ in the sense it is now being abused  used which also irritates the hell out of me but it seems there is no hope for ‘literally’ and it looks as if ‘unique’ is to follow.  I also hate ‘so fun’ – shouldn’t it be ‘such fun’.  Ooer, I’ve gone all pedantic, sorry about that.  Back to any old iron.

There is a huge old wall to one side of the front of our house.  The other side to the front  has been hideously deformed by our neighbour which is why we fell out with him until he helped us get our dog down from his roof and we were forced, albeit briefly, to speak to him again.  See here for the gory details if you haven’t read it.

Anyway, until recently, it was covered in masses of dark green ivy – home to blackbirds and all sorts for decades – which has now been removed.   Old wall revealed, climbing roses ordered, trellis work being considered.  The wooden trellis work available in most garden centres is not always of the best quality – although it should be with the prices they charge – so Mr. T. is considering making his own.

However, in the same brocante, I spied these lovely old  ironwork panels – there are three of them actually – and I thought they would look great on the wall amongst the roses.  They measure around 110cm high and 40cm wide (43 x 16 inches)

Cast Iron Panels

Here is the wall in question which is about 15m long (getting on for 50ft) and around 3m high.

Garden Wall

Do you think there might be something wrong with my sense of scale?  Mr. T does:/

No matter – they will go somewhere – I couldn’t just leave them there now could I?

I’m considering having them mounted in wooden frames and fixing them to the wall behind the large pots we have either side of our front door and planting the pots up with an annual climbing plant.  Any other suggestions welcome.

 

 

 

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33 Comments

Boyfriend Cardigan Finished – Orangutans Need Not Apply

Remember the fuss I made trying to choose between two different colours of yarn to make the  ‘boyfriend’ cardigan from the knitting book Storm by Kim Hargreaves?   I blogged about it back at the end of last year and, having canvassed your opinions, I went with my instincts anyway and chose the dark grey fine mohair instead of the purple to knit together  with the pale grey thicker ‘base’ yarn and here’s the result.

My boyfriend cardigan 1

(Note that I have opted not to frighten the horses and, as promised,  haven’t styled it with shorts and ankle boots as they did with the (very young) model in the book for which, I’m sure you are truly grateful.)

It’s soft and squishy and nicely oversized but not by too much .  My worries about the sleeves only fitting an orangutan were unfounded – it’s just that, being raglan sleeves, they seemed to go on forever when they were on my needles.

Here it looks a bit like your Grandad’s cardie rather than your boyfriend’s but I like the stitch used which gives you that wide rib stitch effect in relief.

MyBoyfriendCardigan (3)

I sewed the silver metal buttons on then, for a touch of femininity and also for strength, I backed them with some little floral buttons.

MyBoyfriendCardigan (4)

MyBoyfriendCardigan (1)

I really am pleased with it and to prove to Kate who always tells me off for being too self critical  that I can, in fact, be proud of my work, I’m not going to point out any faults because there aren’t any.  Ha!!

This is what’s on my needles at the moment but, even though, I like the yarn (James C. Brett Marble Chunky) and it knits up quickly and is reasonably priced and even though it’s fairly unusual to find a knitting pattern for a jumper with a scooped neck and a fitted shape I know I’m not going to love it as much.

James c brett jumper

  The yarn for the cardigan was Rowan Kid Classic – a wool and mohair blend and Rowan Kidsilk Haze, a mohair and silk blend which were knitted together and it has produced such a soft, luxurious garment that anything made with acryclic is going to pale into comparison.  Having said that, the Rowan yarn was expensive – despite me scoring both the yarns on Ebay – so, unless you’re going for a ‘special’ knitted item, I guess the  cheaper yarns will always have their place.  Of course, I do still have the purple Kidsilk Haze I didn’t use for this cardigan so I might keep my eye open for some coordinating Kid Classic in the sales and then I can make another one in a purple shade – if I can face those never ending sleeves again that is.

Mac, the kitten, likes it anyway.  He appeared from nowhere.  Knitting and cats – it really is like moths to a flame.

marble chunky kitten with knitting needles

How do you feel about knitting (or crochet) yarns?   Do you prefer to wait until you can splash out a bit and use the best quality or do you prefer acrylic blends for their easy care qualities which, for some projects is a big consideration of course,  or perhaps you can’t wear wool next to your skin?

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Making a Mountain out of a Molehill – Again

Trying to get back into ‘dressmaking mode’ after an excess of quilt block making and knitting, I bought a metre of dark blue ponte roma and traced off the pattern for the ‘Easy Knit Pencil Skirt’ from the Gertie Sews Vintage Casual  book I bought Mlle Tialys the elder for Christmas.

Firstly I had to perform the dreaded task of changing the thread on the overlocker but the signs were good as I managed it first go.

Then, it all started to go pear shaped.  I forgot the sizes are probably American (that or I’m skinnier than I think) so cut the skirt out at least two sizes too big.  However I did realise this before it was too late because I actually followed the instructions which tell you to baste the side seams and try it on before overlocking them.  You should apparently do this each time you make the skirt as all jersey and knit fabrics differ in stretchiness,  which is a very good point.   However, once I had cut it down to my size, the edges weren’t quite as neat and I had also managed to slice through my fingertip with the rotary cutter for good measure.

Then I cut the elastic for the waistband a little too generously as I didn’t want to feel it digging in so instead of stretching the elastic slightly to fit the waistband, I found myself stretching the waistband slightly to fit the elastic.  Which is probably why one of the needles in my overlocker broke and also why the waistband doesn’t lie quite as perfectly flat as it’s supposed to.  I replaced the needle, adjusted the tension and broke another one. I finished off using the 3-thread overlocking stitch as I find that getting into a tizz with my machine puts me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.  That and having to do housework.

Jersey Pencil Skirt

I don’t play the guitar and neither do I usually stand as if I’ve put my hip out but there were no photographers available and the only decent light and big mirror were in eldest daughter’s room so a selfie it had to be.

On the plus side, I did the neatest twin needle hem I think I’ve ever done.  Nice and straight with no tunneling.  As my overlocker is on the right hand side of my sewing machine I used the thread from the extreme left spool as my second twin needle thread so there was no wobbling going on, a technique I might employ in the future as it seemed to work so well.

Twin Needle Stitching

That was, however, after I broke the first twin needle on the sewing machine probably because I started off at a side seam and going through an overlocked seam and hem thickness all at the same time  might have been a bit of a stretch – no pun intended but it works so I’ll leave it in.

So £ 6.99 for a metre of ponte roma – 3 broken needles, one of which was a twin – and several items of  bloodstained clothing  before I realised my finger had been sliced with the rotary cutter meant it wasn’t quite as quick or cheap as I had originally planned.   In my experience, it rarely is.

However!  With one pattern piece only – which you cut out twice on the fold – and around 0.8m of fabric – this really is a comfy yet quite smart skirt and I will be making it again hopefully without breaking any more needles or attempting to slice the top of my finger off.  Where I will wear it is a different matter.  Will it go with wellies do you think?

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