Friday, 25 July 2008

Pageant of History

















We went to a fantastic event last weekend, the 'Festival of History' put on by English Heritage, the organisation that owns and maintains a lot of the ancient monuments in England. This is a two-day event held in the grounds of Kelmarsh Hall in Northhamptonshire, which features dozens of re-enactment groups and all sorts of historical displays, everything from Romans to D-Day, and was quite spectacular. Almost the best part was seeing all the in-character in-costume re-enactors walking the grounds, or even shopping in the historical market, so that you could see a Roman centurion having a conversation with a WWI female soldier, or three Cavaliers admiring the Russian encampment. They had Boers, Victorian Arctic explorers, Normans, Celts, Germans, medieval villagers, lots of Napoleonic stuff, and on and on. Above are some pics I snapped. We watched several displays, including a Victorian gymkhana and 'Animals at War' showing how animals were used in various eras in the military. Even Ds grudgingly admitted that he had enjoyed parts of the weekend.



I tried the toe-up machine knitted sock pattern (Penny Sock) that I found on the web, but I didn't like it as much as the top-down pattern I tried before. In this pattern you cast on in waste yarn for the toe on the main bed, and immediately knit a short row toe. Then you hang the waste yarn stitches onto the ribber and start knitting circular. The heel is short rowed then you split off the stitches and knit half the ribbing at a time. This leaves an obvious seam up both sides of the ribbing, particularly obvious in self-striping yarn. I tried my best to sew a neat flat seam but it is still very obvious. I prefer the top-down pattern because, although it was harder to re-hang the stitches into a tube, there is only one short seam in the ribbing cuff so it is much less obvious.



Look at this sweetie - the nephew of a work colleague. I offered to make his photo into a quilted picture as a gift. Easy to do, I printed the photo out onto some Printed Treasures fabric, added a few borders and quilted round the image. My work colleague was very impressed and pleased with it. Of course I immediately got the usual "you should be selling these!" and they never understand that a) you would not get paid enough for your time, and b) you already don't have enough time to do things you want to do, so you certainly don't have enough time to turn into a production factory for pictures of anonymous babies, much less deal with the marketing side of things. So I just smiled and looked modest.







Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Time off from being a mom

I am in the second glorious week of ds being down at his grandparents. I haven't got nearly as much done as I thought I might, but it has still been a wonderful break from the daily grind. We've been eating supper about two hours later, we can watch the tv when we want to, I can sew at night time without keeping anyone awake, we even went away camping for the weekend and nobody moaned about how boring it was.
I did another block for my BOM that I am running, and was able to assemble the first two rows of the quilt. It's only 48" wide so will struggle to be a single size unless I add lots of borders. I am doing this from my stash and having fun choosing really bright colours, like a child has coloured the quilt in with crayons.












I put together some of the little kits I bought in Chicago at the Tom Bishop show, which are going to be 'Americana' decoration in my quilt shop that I am building. The birdhouse shelf is by Linda Boyd and the other three adorable houses are by Karen Benson Miniatures. The fork is in the picture to show some scale.

I also put together this box of trims which was a kit from Lisa's Little Things. It is about 1.5 inches long.










I just finished this backpack from a booklet I bought last summer in Oregon by Cindy Taylor Oates. I wore it to work today and it was really comfortable. It is made from quilt fabric (I actually bought this in 1998 on my first trip to Paducah, because I loved it ,but have never found the right project to use it in) laid over heavy canvas for stability, and parts of it are interfaced further with heavy interfacing. I love how it has all the details of a real backpack.



























Thank you to Scraphappy for giving me the Brilliante Weblog award. She gave it to me because she likes that I don't try to limit my number of hobbies. What can I say, it's a compulsion. However, I am now supposed to give the award to seven other blogs that I enjoy. I am having the same problem as I had when I got tagged: I just don't have the time to read many blogs regularly.


The rules are as follows:
1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog/
2. Link to the person you received your award from
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4. Put links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you have nominated.


1) The first blog has to be, of course, the Swooze, who got me into blogging in the first place and is an unfailing source of inspiration to fellow #Quiltchatters. I really admire her singleminded determination to tackle her UFO backlog despite whatever life throws at her.

2) I've tagged Kathy before, hopefully she won't mind if I do it again. She does lovely work and seems like such a cheerful openhearted person - what I would aspire to be in my next life because I haven't managed it in this one.

3) I try to keep up with Beth, because she is always churning out colourful and interesting projects and she loves to shop!

4) I don't get to Luv2Stitch's blog very often, but she is another who does lots of quilting with lots of lovely pictures to look at.

I'm afraid that is about it. Otherwise I listen to a few podcasts and occasionally visit blogs from shops, or semi-professional blogs like the Yarn Harlot. I'm tempted to mention my friend Sablegirl's blog, but she is new to blogging and not posting too often yet.

So thanks Scraphappy!

Friday, 11 July 2008

I'm a semi-finalist!



The acceptance letter has arrived from AQS so it now seems safe to tell you all my good news - my quilt 'The Glory of the Garden' has been accepted into the AQS Nashville show! Here's a pic that the long-arm quilter Dinah Miller provided. She did a wonderful job on the quilting and she is the one who encouraged me to enter the quilt for a major show.
This is the quilt that got lost for two months so that we missed the Paducah entry deadline. I sent it airmail in November, and it didn't turn up until late January, having gone by slow boat and being stuck in the Christmas rush. I had given up on it. Luckily it survived its long trip without damage. The AQS website says that 25,000 quilters go to Nashville, I can't believe they will all be looking at my quilt. I briefly toyed with the idea of flying over but it would be really expensive and really hot, so I will just have to hope someone takes a piccy for me. Dinah might be going and then she will take a picture. This is the first major show that I have tried for - I've had a few quilts hung in non-juried British shows but only ever won one second place ribbon (best use of a novelty panel...) I should also say that this is a Beth Ferrier design which she published free on the internet as a Block of the Month some years ago.
Ds is off with his grandparents so Monday night I stayed up in London after work. I went to see the 'Psycho Buildings' exhibit at the Hayward Gallery, subtitled 'Artists take on architecture'. My favourite part was a large darkened room full of 200 old dollshouses, stacked up on tiered crates and all lit from inside, so that as you walked through the middle of the room you were like a giant strolling through an old suburb. Then I went upstairs to view the hyperbolic crochet coral reef, which has been mentioned a lot in the knitting media lately. Very colorful and eerily realistic in some cases. Lastly I went to the Royal Festival Hall to join in the Stitch and Bitch meeting, where I had a glass of white wine and happily knitted for an hour and a half in good company before getting the train home.

Friday, 4 July 2008

One of those days

Yesterday was one of those strange days. You know, the ones where you begin to wonder if you have strayed into an alternate reality. It started out ordinarily enough – I got up 20 minutes early so that I could get to work and get a specific job done before my training course started at 09:30.

Only when I got to work, they weren’t letting anyone into the building because of a minor fire. Fair enough – I got myself a cup of tea and went to join several hundred colleagues milling about on the fire evacuation site while we watched the fire engines sitting motionless near the building. An hour and a half later, we were let back into the building just as my course was due to start. So I went straight to the training room – which was still locked. After a while, someone came to let us in then went to get the trainer. Meanwhile the nine of us attempted to log onto our PCs. Another 40 minutes dragged by as the staff attempted to resolve a number of technical failures that prevented people logging in (including one PC with no mouse) and even load the software we were supposed to be training on.




Finally, an hour late, we were ready to start. As the organiser (lucky me), I stood up and addressed the class. “We’re starting late – do we want to stop at the original time or carry on another half hour?” One woman looked at me quite seriously and said that she would like to stay on the extra half hour, as long as we could have a half-hour break to go get sandwiches. Taking a deep breath, I pointed out that a half hour break would wipe out the advantage of staying the extra half hour - she looked puzzled. I also reminded them that we are not allowed to have food and drink in the computer training room. Another person suggested that if we weren’t having a lunch break, we should go and get sandwiches and bring them to the room. “We’re not allowed to have food and drink in the training room”, I repeated wearily. Another person agreed with that, and suggested instead we just bring in tea, coffee and cookies. I gave up at the point and told the trainer to start and run the extra half hour. The trainer then opened his mouth for the first time – and out came the Swedish Chef’s voice. Turns out he is from Denmark, talks 100 miles an hour in a very heavy accent and doesn’t know all the English words for the product he is training us on.



There followed four hours of bewildering gabble with no structure at all, enlivened by the frequent whispered comments from the (apparently insane) woman sitting next to me: “psst, what is he going on about?” “pssst, where is that? I don’t have that on my screen?”, “pssst, why didn’t he come in half an hour before the course started and get all this sorted out?” (to which I pointed out the obvious answer that half an hour before the course started we were all standing at the fire evacuation point). After a while I just ignored her and tried to concentrate on translating the instructor’s gabble, but that didn’t stop her at all, she didn’t really need any response. Four hours later I had a pounding headache and was not much the wiser about the software package. Then, when I could really do with lying down in a padded silent dark room, I had to go back and eat my lunch at my desk while I did the urgent work that I didn’t get a chance to do in the morning. We really don’t get paid enough, do we…


I did get one block sewn this week, as the sample for the BOM that I am running for my Saturday sewing club which meets tomorrow.

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