Thursday, December 19, 2013
Sit down, Thimbleanna. No, your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, as I warned you by email - I've finished my quilt!!!!! I know it's the simplest quilt in the world and it is slightly inaccurate in bits but hey: it's done. Thank you so much for giving me the cutting mat, the big ruler thing, the rotary cutter and lots of material - thus coercing me into doing it - and thank you, too, for the online tutorials. It's prettier (in my opinion) than it looks here, where the colours are dimmed by the flash of my phone camera.
This is the back. (It doesn't have a missing corner; the corner just flopped down at the vital moment.) Can you see the two joins? I thought not. (Bows.) Mr L assisted with the pattern matching of the back, one sideways and one longways. He also assisted in the interpretation of the little video showing the use of the binding tool to join the two ends of binding. It worked well.
I bought a walking foot for the binding, by the way - thanks to Gina and others who recommended this.
Daughter 2 emerged from being the holder-upper to test it out with her dad.
This is more like the actual colour, though it's not quite as bright as it looks here. I don't know why I don't get Mr L, who has good cameras, to take a decent photo of it. I meant to take one outside today but didn't get round to it.
Anyway - I feel a bit ridiculous being so pleased at having achieved something that you proper quilters could do in a weekend while knitting a pair of socks and crocheting some Granny squares but... now I can go and ice my Christmas cakes.
Posted by Isabelle at 8:20 pm
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Oh how jolly small children are - when they are.
Look - she stands (with support).
And sits, waving her arms around. And beams, though crucially, not always when put her cot at night. Alas.
The subjects of these photos are a couple of reasons why I haven't yet finished my quilt.
The other is that I've been procrastinating: practising putting binding on tiny "quilts" that I've stuck together for the purpose; and it's not quite as easy as it looks on the videos.
In fact, there are various pieces of advice that I might put in my forthcoming publication: "Quilting for those who would like to emulate the beautiful creations they've seen in blogs but are a bit slapdash". For example:
1. Measuring is important - even more important than you think. If you find yourself cutting something slightly too big, don't just think, oh, it's late; that'll do. You will regret this later on.
2. Cutting with a rotary cutter is easy - ish. It's not as easy as you expect. The cutter has an ambition, which you must curb with all your might, to stray from the line of the ruler and meander into the next bit that you plan to cut. Stand up, lean hard and concentrate. Frowning helps.
3. If you're thinking about something else while sewing pieces together and find yourself making some of the seams just slightly big/small - unpick them. Not doing so will be a source of grief later on. (See no 1, above.)
3. Do not have a cat.
4. If you live in Britain, get your husband to dig out a basement. Then claim this as your sewing room. Otherwise you have to clear the kitchen table every time you have to produce a meal.
5. Do not have a deadline, eg Christmas. This might make you yet more slapdash (see nos 1 and 3 above). Or alternatively, do. It might make you get on with it.
6. Don't just assume that you can work out how to do things. Watch videos. Become puzzled that they tend to contradict each other. Then ask Thimbleanna how she does it.
I failed to follow my own advice in every respect apart from number 6. Still, the end is in sight. Kind of.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Daughter 2 is home for a few days.
The house is becoming Christmassy.
Oh dear, I must tidy those books. We need more bookshelves or perhaps fewer books.
Santa, the Christmas Elves and a gingerbread man.
Still quite a lot of shopping to do, though.
I've cut the binding for my quilt but decorating took precedence after that. I hope my sewing machine is going to cooperate. It doesn't really like sewing through several layers, which may well be a slight problem. Listen out for howls of anguish in the next day or two.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Yesterday Grandson and I went to the park. Shortly after we arrived, a young mum got into conversation with us. She seemed keen to talk. She commented that it was cold (which it wasn't particularly but she was wearing a thin jacket) and said she had to be there for two hours because she was too early to visit someone in prison. (It was almost as if she was pleased - proud? - to tell me this.) The prison is a couple of miles away from the park - I don't think it's a high security establishment but I don't know much about it, not even exactly where it is. She said that she lived in East Lothian, which is a county just to the east of Edinburgh, and that her father had told her that the journey would take her much longer than it had actually done.
She was in the park to put off time and to let her little girl play. The child was three and a bit; nine months or so older than Grandson. She seemed a nice child. Grandson and she started playing in the same area, looking at each other and following each other about. Grandson chatted to me about her and what she was doing. The other child didn't say much but smiled and accepted her mum's suggestions as to what she should do next.
The mum told me that her little girl hadn't seen the man she was going to visit for some time because he'd been in prison, but the mum thought that he and her daughter should get to know each other again because he was hoping to be released on Friday. It turned out that the man was the mum's partner though not actually the child's father "but he's been like her father". She said that she hoped that the little girl wouldn't remember when she was older that she'd visited the prison. The child had also been there "when she was a baby, visiting my brother" but didn't remember this.
At this point I mentioned the East Lothian school where I taught from 1973-1979 and it turned out that this was the school that the mum had been to (not long ago, I'd guess). We chatted a bit about the school. She said that her father had been a pupil. I recognised his name though I don't think I actually taught him. It was, I fear, one of those names that was not greeted with joy when one saw them on one's register. I can't now remember whether he was a challenging boy or just a bit of a poor soul (I rather think the former). Then she said that her mother was also a pupil. Her name was familiar to me in the same way. I remembered quite well another girl with the same surname; sure enough, this was the young mum's aunt. The aunt had been quite a forceful character and not academic. In those days I was very aware that schools didn't on the whole cope very well with the full range of needs. I doubt if things are much better now. It's very hard to teach children who are not keen to be there for whatever reasons.
And I looked at the two children and their innocent, hopeful faces. Who knows how anyone's life will turn out? - but I feel worried for the little girl, though her mum obviously loves her and wants to do the best for her. I felt that I ought to do something but... what? And then quite soon the mum decided that she was too cold and she would just make her way to the prison anyway, so off she went.
She left me feeling very thoughtful.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I had coffee yesterday with my dear friend J, who lives in South Queensferry. It was lovely to catch up with her. She still works part-time at the college and I felt only a tiny yearning to be back there. I quickly suppressed this. It wasn't hard.
South Queensferry is a pretty and historic little town, though not exactly built for cars.
... appears to have been built in 1633. It's up a lane on the way to J's house. I hadn't noticed it before.
One of the main things you notice about South Queensferry is the Forth (Rail) Bridge - which is famous and also pink. This is the view from J's kitchen window. There's also a road bridge, which you can see on the left, and they're in the process of building a second one. When I was a girl there was only the rail bridge; and cars and their passengers had to cross the estuary by ferry, which took quite a long time compared to the five minutes across the road bridge.
From all along the main street you get glimpses of the bridge.
I've now written quite a lot of cards and bought some presents and we have fairy lights in the hall. Grandson saw these today and was transfixed. I wish I'd had a camera handy to capture his fascinated little face.
No tree yet, no further decorations, no wrapping but I don't want to get too ahead of myself. That would be showing off.
Monday, December 09, 2013
We had a walk through the Botanics yesterday. It'll soon be the shortest day and it's cheering to see some flowers even at this time of year, such as this periwinkle.
I'm not a great fan of pampas grass but it was good to see the green leaves and creamy plumes brightening up the herbaceous border.
This viburnum has delicate pink blossoms against bare branches.
And - cheating somewhat because these are alpines, in a covered, open-ended greenhouse -
(but still very lovely on a dull day) early-flowering daffodils and crocuses.
And then my phone ran out of battery.
Home again, this is the best that my garden could offer: the last two roses. But there are spears of spring bulbs beginning to appear through the soil. Enjoy summer while you have it, Australia. We'll be starting to drag it north again before too long.
Mind you, we do have a bit of winter to deal with first. Sigh.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Life is... not boring, because I can always happily potter about. But uneventful. Cassie and I have now finished quilting the quilt and once I've written some Christmas cards for overseas I shall tackle the binding. I am slightly quailing at this but I expect it'll be ok, or at least sufficiently so for the standard of the quilt.
The bits I enjoyed most? Well, all of it really. I certainly enjoyed fiddling about with the fabrics to get an arrangement that satisfied my eye. I quite enjoyed cutting out and sewing together, though would have enjoyed sewing the strips together even more if I'd done the previous bit more accurately so that all my corners were perfect.
And doing the hand-quilting was very pleasant; totally brainless and yet giving me something to do while watching television, such as the latest Gareth Malone choir project. (Oh, what a nice young man he is.) (I must say that I would have appreciated Thimbleanna's lovely quilt gift even more had I realised quite how many woman hours went into the circles she quilted on it!)
Not that I can currently sing, which is a great hardship. This longwinded cold and cough are still with me. Not only do I have to just sit and follow the music at my two choirs but I'm unable to carol around the house. Mr L's life has never been so peaceful.
Today we went to Almond Valley Heritage Centre with the grandchildren, their parents and their other grandparents.
The lad had a good time...
... though it was a bit chilly and muddy.
The three chaps went on a trailer pulled by a tractah. They all enjoyed it. Boys do seem to like tractahs.