A Saturday Evening Treat And A Project Fail

Yesterday evening there was a beautiful rainbow forming a perfect arch over our garage and the end of the garden. Sometimes they don’t last long so I took a photo on my phone rather than go and search for the ‘proper’ camera.  I couldn’t fit the whole arch in so this is just the first half.

It cheered me up – I was a bit fed up as my recent jelly roll rug project didn’t go to plan.

It was all going so well……

…..and then it all started to go horribly wrong.

Despite taking it over to the ironing board fairly regularly and making sure it was all laying flat, the dreaded waviness had taken over – I think caused by joining the last few rounds too tightly.

I undid the last couple of ‘go rounds’ twice, painstakingly unpicking all those zigzag stitches, and tried to re-do them but I still couldn’t get it to lay flat even after steaming the hell out of it and laying it under a weighted flat board.

So, I decided that life is too short and I could use a smaller rug anyway so I just undid the strips until I reached a point where the rug would lay flat, or flattish.

(Ooh! Bright! This is on my bathroom floor.)

It fits quite well under the little vintage dressing table in the, as yet undecorated, spare bedroom.  (She says to explain the marks on the wall but it is true – we haven’t done much of anything inside the house as yet.)

So all was not lost .

I do have two more jelly rolls in my stash but, although I enjoyed making this (until the last bit) and it’s a new and different project under my belt, I’m not sure I’ll be going there again and, anyway, I had a job even finding a place for this little rug so I don’t need any more.

Anyway, the rainbow was a treat – much deeper in colour than I could capture on my phone – and here’s the other side of it slicing through our old oak tree and dipping down into the field beyond

Have you compromised on a project just to get it done with or are you a determined perfectionist?

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An Unexpected Easter

This time last year we were still in France and had got as far as house hunting online for our move back to England.  For various reasons, some related to Mr. Tialys’s work commitments which have only became apparent since, it appears we made the move at the right time.

So, Easter in England for the first time in sixteen years was a lovely warm and sunny surprise and  I was sufficiently moved to leave my sewing room and go outside to help the gardener (aka Mr. Tialys) with some outside renovations.

You might remember me telling you that the previous owners, in a bid to outwit the ground elder, had buried untold quantities of black plastic – some ‘proper’ stuff, some pond liner and some old plastic compost sacks!! – all pinned down with hundreds of plastic pegs.  For the most part, this was all covered with gravel and sometimes pieces of wood.  In some places although, to be fair, mostly those places not planted up decoratively, there are old house bricks, spare ceramic tiles and paving slabs.

This, for instance, is part of the bank above the fish pond.

Mr. T. is on a mission to remove most of the plastic and gravel and says he’d rather deal with the weeds than see the earth being choked with the plastic, some of which is breaking up into the soil.   Here he is revealing the soil on the bank.  Ground elder roots – and there are plenty – are being drowned or burnt.

Just the start of the eventually huge pile of plastic and the wooden planks, etc. that were laid haphazardly on top, for some reason best known to the previous occupants.

Even this old sawhorse had been pressed into service, folded flat and laid on top of the bank – now rescued and ready to be used for its original purpose.

Perhaps they didn’t like going to the tip/dump.

Stan and Flo were helping by staring plaintively until one of us would relent and throw the frisbee for them.

(for Sandra – spot the old rusty plough we brought back from France with us)

As I was in the garden I was able to nag advise on where to place the gargoyles which had been languishing and looking grumpy up by the garage since we arrived

Now this one already looks as if he’s been atop that wall for years.

This one has swapped the side of a swimming pool in S.W. France for a fish pond in S.W. England and, personally, I think he looks happier in a gargoylish sort of way, unlike Mr. T. who nearly did himself a damage by carrying it there from where the removal men had dumped him up the other end of the garden.

This area to the side of the driveway gates  was also covered in plastic and gravel and is now cleared and ready to be planted up maybe with rose bushes.

The greenhouse is very much not my domain – I am only invited in at H.M. the Gardener’s pleasure to ooh and aah at the various things in pots that he’s sewn from seed.

Coriander

Nasturtium

I like nasturtiums.  They remind me of a time long, long ago (or the Stone Age as one of my daughters calls it) at primary school when they used to give (sell?) us a  little a packet of candytuft or nasturtium seeds to take home and plant in a pot and take it back to school at a set date where, if you had been successful, you would get a pretty coloured certificate.  I never got one.  We lived in a first floor flat in London and neither of my parents were gardeners of any description.

Just a little memory I thought I’d share with you there for no good reason.

Outside again – there’s a pretty flowering currant.

We’re not sure what fruit tree this is – any ideas?

So, today has clouded over a little.  Maybe I’ll get my bathroom shelves put up but I’m not counting on it.

I might get the drill out, wave it about inexpertly and ask where the rawlplugs are – something that has worked a treat in the past 😉

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On a Roll With The Jelly Roll

I know some of you like to see progress reports for projects and, although it’s something I don’t usually think to do, this jelly roll project is going so fast I thought I would.

I got off to a very rocky start.  I followed some advice on a YouTube video to made an oval shape for the centre in order  to help make getting round those first few curves a bit  easier.

As you can see, it didn’t work for me.

Then, disaster struck and my sewing machine decided it didn’t like doing the zigzag stitch as a zigzag stitch should be done,

I undid it all and started again.

I switched from a walking foot to an ordinary one and cleared the feed dogs of accumulated years  of lint and fluff.  I suspect it was the latter which proved more helpful but I haven’t bothered to put the walking foot back on anyway.

The ends were still curving up a little so every time the thread breaks (depressingly often) or I haven’t quite caught both sides in the zigzag I steam press the hell out of those curves.

Which seems to have helped.

You must only join the new ‘rope’ from the right hand side or you will end up with a rather large expanse of coiled fabric where there is no room for it.  Somebody else did this – and thought to tell us – so we now don’t have to make the same mistake and t will all grow out to the left and on to the raised flat surface you have provided for it.

I know it won’t be perfect in the end – the zigzag still plays up now and then and I managed to get an odd curve in the centre piece –   but I’m quite pleased with how it’s progressing.

The thread snapped (again) and, as I’d just started joining the colour change to red, I thought it would be a good time to give it another steaming and take a progress photo.

I think these would make very nice place mats if you didn’t want to  go the whole hog and made a rug.

Just as an aside, Dawn asked what Wonder Clips are.  I usually use them to hold on the binding of a quilt after it’s been machine stitched down on one side and waiting for me to hand stitch it down on the other.

Like so –

In the rug project I used them to hold the folded length of fabric and batting in place while I fed it into my sewing machine.

Hopefully, the next update will be a finished rug – I’m zipping along with it.  Then I can catch up with my knit-along project disturbed only by reaching for another piece of Easter Egg and Mr. Tialys telling me what he’s up to in the garden and what he’s done with the seven or eight bags of potting compost I  saw being unloaded from the boot of his car yesterday.

Have a good Easter break wherever you are. x

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Tight Lipped Tuesday Project Progress

Yesterday I asked you to guess what I was making with a jelly roll of fabric and some strips of batting/wadding.

For the uninitiated a jelly roll is approximately 42 x 2.5 inch strips of fabric, usually from a coordinated range, cut across the width of the fabric and rolled up into a pleasing shape like  this.

Now, three of these jelly rolls remain in my stash and, as I literally have no more room in our house for any more quilts (or crocheted/knitted blankets) and all the people I love enough to toil for hours over a new quilt already have one, when I saw a project that used a jelly roll and some batting (also in my stash), I knew it had to be done.

As two of you guessed and a couple more might have suspected the project is indeed a jelly roll rug and as I have not yet filled my house with rugs I thought I’d give it a go.

So, first step is to join the strips of fabric.  I did this with a diagonal seam as I think it is more discreet than a straight join.  Then I lay the batting strips on the fabric strips, folded the long edges into the  middle and then fold again.  I held my somewhat bulky strips with wonder clips as I fed them into my machine which I had furnished with a walking foot and a denim needle.  Then I sewed up the long, long, long (did I say it was long) edge with a narrow seam.  Some people sew up the centre of the strip but I don’t want more  thread than necessary showing on the finished rug.

I let the emerging long fabric snake fall into coils into a wire basket behind my machine like so –

– in the probably vain hope that it will be easier to feed back into the machine when the  time comes to join them all together in a big, squidgy oval shape.

I’m not actually using a pattern but have watched numerous YouTube videos on how to put one of these together so I’m hoping I’ll be fine.

One tip I learnt was to use an extension table on your sewing machine so that, as the rug grows, it will lay flat because not laying flat appears to be one of the pitfalls of these rugs.  I haven’t got an extension table so I built up the level around my machine with  a variety of filing boxes and files.

So, many fabric strips later, I have a nice curled snake in the basket.

Ready for the next stage which I will attempt tomorrow (or maybe Friday)

I’m afraid the KAL (knit along) blanket I’m supposed to be doing has met with some delay 🙄

Still, like I said, I don’t need another blanket.

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #30

Sometimes, even though I have more than enough going on already, I get seduced by a project I see online.

Especially if I already have all the ‘ingredients’.

Can you guess what I’m hoping to make?

This is as far as I’ve got.

I might be some time.

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #29

Another in my intermittent series of posts with very few words which, as you know, is rare for me and my first ‘tight lipped’ one since arriving back in England.

 

I bought my very  large self healing cutting mat when I first started patchwork classes around 20 years ago.

It served me very well until this happened.

No longer a flat surface on which to cut fabric, it had to go.

The culprit

white and teal steam clothes iron plugged on ironing board

Aided and abetted by me.

I can now attest that steam blocking knitting on top of a cutting mat – even when you have a thick felt pad in between – does not end well.

In case you had ever thought it would.

Every cloud has a silver lining however and I now have a shiny new mat in a much more cheerful green with inches on one side….

and a lovely shade of blue with centimetres on the other.

Still, I won’t be doing that again.

 

 

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32 Comments

Scraphappy March -A Garden Edition

After last month’s exciting dog feeder in a kitchen drawer, I’ve yet again got to hand over to Mr. Tialys for the March edition of Scraphappy where new things are made from scraps.

Now that he has a more manageable garden to  oversee, he’s rarely out of it when he’s not in endless Zoom meetings for work.  He’s always loved a good compost bin and, despite the fact we now have a fraction of the garden waste we had at the French house, he apparently needs a triple one to go alongside the plastic ones left behind by the previous owners.

Is it possible to have a compost bin stash?

Anyway, you might remember that the previous gardener had spread black plastic mulch pretty much all over the place and covered it with gravel to ward off  the dreaded ground elder and, along with some strange garden ‘ornaments’, scattered quite a lot of random pieces of wood about the place too.

All this was grist to the compost bin building mill.  Apart from the garden ornaments that is.

Remember this one?

Well, shortly afterwards I stumbled across his evil twin and, a few weeks after that, as if they were breeding during the night in some sort of B movie horror, a third one.

*shudder*

Hopefully that will be the last of them.

So, as well as the odd wooden pallet….

and other planks in various stages of dilapidation, all used for cross pieces,……..

there was what looked like the makings of a wooden pergola stacked behind the garage.

With unseemly haste, and without consultation, these were mercilessly sawn into the requisite sizes to make the main supports for the new bins.

We don’t need a wooden pergola – apparently 🙄

Then the leftover netting from making the garden dog proof (hopefully!) formed the back and sides with some of the ubiquitous black plastic stapled over that to create a large bin in three sections.

The fronts have been left open for ease of ‘turning over’ – a technical gardening term that I believe means forking all the gunk over once in a while to mix it all in.  Apparently, some sort of Heath Robinson adjustable frontage will be constructed that will be moved up as the amount of composting material grows.

Speaking of which, we have much less grass now which is ,apparently, a very important addition to compost heaps.  This is mostly due to having less land than before but also to having a rather large garden pond in the middle of what would be the lawn.  So, Mr. Tialys has gone begging for grass clippings from anybody nearby willing to empty theirs into a bag for him.

But, that’s not the worst of it.  The other day I spotted a large sack on our driveway and went to investigate.  In a gesture that might be considered abuse in some neighbourhoods, it contained a significant amount of fresh horse poo.  Mr. T. was almost as excited as the dogs were when he saw it but did complain it ‘wasn’t well rotted enough really’ although he used it anyway.

Ew! Is it any wonder I leave the gardening to him?

So here, in the furthest corner of our garden (thankfully), is the compost bin stash in all its glory made from scrap wood, scrap plastic, leftover netting and scrap poo or, as I prefer to call it, horse scrap 🤣.

 

 

Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate (first name on the list) if you want to join in.

 

 

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44 Comments

Who Wants A Baggy Jumper Anyway?

Back in January I showed you a pattern for a rather comfy jumper, perfect for lockdown.  I thought I might be able to get it finished for Miss Tialys the Younger’s birthday on 24th February.

This was the pattern

This was how far I’d got with it when I wrote the blog

and this is how far I’ve got with it now.

Yes, yes, I know it’s exactly the same photo enlarged but the sad truth is that really is about where I’ve got to again  having had to start from scratch on more than one occasion.  At one point, I had knit up almost the whole thing, excluding one sleeve, knowing there were two or three mistakes but thinking they wouldn’t show.  How wrong I was.

Fisherman’s Rib.  It seems like a simple enough stitch to do – a variation of k1, p1 rib in that you knit into the stitch below (k1b) instead of the usual knit stitch – and it is!  The problems come if you should make a mistake by not putting the needle in the wrong bit of the knit stitch or, heaven forbid, drop a stitch altogether.

Not having the heart to take one of my own before ripping it all out, I’ve tried to find a photo of ‘a mistake in Fisherman’s Rib’ to show you the horror but couldn’t, even though the fact there are many, many tips, tricks and YouTube videos showing you how to put them right means I’m not the only one making them.  I tried unknitting (or tinking, or frogging) then I tried unravelling rows and picking the stitches back up again but I couldn’t get them back on the needle the right way round.  I thought I had succeeded at one point so carried on knitting but it left an obvious line through the back of the jumper and I knew I’d never be satisfied if I left it there.  Nightmare.

In the end I undid it all right back to zero and was just going to leave it.  I don’t like giving up though so I thought I’d try one more time and use a lifeline.  For the non-knitters amongst you – and heaven knows why you’d have read this far as the pants would surely have been bored right off you by now – that means threading a piece of wool through a row so that, if a mistake occurs later on, you don’t have to rip out the whole piece but only as far down as the lifeline.  Obviously, as you progress with a few inches of faultless knitting, you take out the lifeline and move it up to create a new one.

Needless to say, since inserting a lifeline I haven’t made a mistake but there’s still a long way to go and it’s last chance saloon for this jumper because, although I really like the effect of that raised rib, and I’ve been able to use stash yarn, life’s too short to grapple with it repeatedly when I could be getting on with something else.

Anyway, the 24th of February came and went with no jumper for Miss T. the Younger.

However, I’d spotted on a blog somewhere, something else I fancied having a go at so I abandoned the needles for a hook, found some double knitting yarn in the remains of my stash and made these instead which, as she’s just moved into a new flat, served as a little house warming gift too.

Ahh! I’d forgotten the more ‘instant fix’ joys of crochet.

If you are a knitter, have you ever tried Fisherman’s Rib and, if so, did you manage to get to the end of a project without tearing your hair out?

If you are not a knitter, I apologise for the non-quilting/dressmaking/general crafting/gardening/animal based content of this post and, be assured, I will be back to one or other of those subjects -or something else altogether – before too long.

In the meantime, and as compensation, here’s another couple of woolly jumpers.

Spring Lambs

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

 

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35 Comments

A Spring in my Step

Even though we’re still in lockdown the sight of banks of daffodils can’t fail to cheer me up.

But there’s more!

It’s Spring and  time to let the new lambs into the fields,

So of course I was off with my camera like a shot.

Some tiny ones with their proud mothers.

I’ve had a word with the farmer about splodging them with blue as it spoils my photos but he said I just had to try to get them from their good side.

I think this one might be one of the first born as he/she is a bit chunky.

I wonder how long it will take me before I get used to living in a house in the midst of fields of new born lambs and stop acting like a tourist.  Possibly forever.

I can’t wait until the calves arrive!

What’s putting a spring in your step at the moment?

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The Mistbow

Early yesterday morning, after a full (or almost full) moon, a frost had dusted the fields with icing sugar and caused a white mist.  We went for a walk just as the sun was struggling to break through it.

We had the camera ready to photograph some new lambs the farmer has put into the field but they were too far in to get a good picture so we snapped this instead and called it a mistbow although somebody else probably already has or maybe it has some other name.  If you know, please enlighten me.

In any case, the mist cleared, we had a beautiful, sunny day and the new garden suddenly seems full of possibilities with the snowdrops finished but daffodils and crocus open, tons of hellebores both white and purple, and a patch of heather pulsating with bees.  I’m hoping they are honey bees although it seems a bit early.  If they are though and I can track down the owner of the hives, it would be great to be able to buy some of the honey.

I can’t believe it’s already the last day of February.  Who would have thought that lockdown would make the time pass faster?  Or is that just me?

 

 

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