Friday, 30 October 2009

A quieter week

It's been a quieter week, as I had a day of leave to relax, and I haven't had any training courses or anything. I feel like I am holding my breath for the next two weeks, until I hear the outcome of my application for the internal job. If I don't get that (and 6 other people applied for the same job) then I will really have to ramp up the jobhunting activity.

Tomorrow is Halloween, and once again I will pay my lonely homage to my childhood in Canada by being virtually the only house in our neighbourhood to decorate and hand out sweets. The Brits do not really understand Halloween. Although it is becoming more popular and you do see a limited range of decorations and treats in many stores now, trick or treating is still not common in our area. You even still occasionally see clerics denouncing the foreign import of devil worship, in the local papers. Plus of course there are huge safety concerns, there is no tradition or culture here of it being a lighthearted fun children's holiday, so it does present an excuse for vandalism and bad behaviour, parents worry about the children going to strangers' doors for possibly doctored sweets, old people cower in their homes with the lights out, etc. But I will have my decorations up (most of them are up now), and three pumpkins this year, and my flashing skull and my blow-up ghost and my glow-in-the-dark plastic skeletons. Some years I get as many as 40 kids, other years it might be 7, or 3. My family doesn't mind as they eat all the leftover sweets.

I finished my Halloween wallhanging and it is on display in the stairwell. I enjoyed making it, but I am a bit disappointed that what is meant to be the focus fabric (the print with all the halloween houses with monsters in each window) is rather overshadowed by the accent fabrics. This is a pattern from the book 'Nine Patch Pizzazz' and is a quick and fun way to work with focus fabrics. I have some other large prints so I might have another go from this book.

I was recently given a teapot, so of course it required a knitted tea cosy. This is based on a pattern which was in the December issue of 'Knitting' magazine, but as my teapot was a completely different shape (sort of a round square with a flat top) and I was knitting a completely different gauge (holding a strand of coned 4-ply wool together with a strand of coned boucle), the resemblance is only loose. I also knit mine seamlessly. It does up with a button loop underneath the handle.

On other knits: I am progressing on my Christmas stocking in Debbie Bliss 'Fez'. I love this yarn, which is so soft and warm, but this stocking is turning out absolutely enormous. My gauge is pretty close, but this stocking would fit both my legs into it. My DH looked at it and inquired just how many presents I thought Santa was bringing me this year. I have also knit several more rounds on my Pi Shawl, mostly stockinette but one round of yarn overs, thus adding about one painstaking inch to the circumference. Now that I am knitting stockinette, I can do a full round of 574 stitches in about 20 minutes so it is growing faster than it was. Remember I was going to knit another Rico Pompon scarf for my m-i-l? I suddenly realised last night that her birthday is Monday, so DH would have to take the scarf down on Sunday. Can I knit an entire scarf in two days??? I hope so. It is a pretty quick knit.

I am feeling virtuous because I have tackled a project which has been hanging around for years. At least 5 years ago (and it might even be 10) I bought an Amish-style Sunshine and Shadows quilt from a quiltshow, by accident. What happened was a lady had made the quilt to raise money for a cancer charity, and there was a sheet next to the quilt inviting bids. No-one had bid on it when I was there, and I felt sorry for her because it was an impressive quilt, so I put on a bid. Well, it turned out I was the only one, so the quilt was mine. She had done a great job on it, except for one border where I think she was practicing her free motion quilting. Using invisible thread and about 20 stitches to the inch, she had quilted a vine and leaf motif which didn't suit the quilt and at a standard much lower than the construction quality. Over several years I gradually unpicked this border (mostly in front of the tv, cursing quietly about invisible thread being invisible) and finally finished it last month. Now I am marking a scrolling feather in the next border, the outer wide border, which I think will suit the quilt better. To mark, I am using a neat gadget that I swapped fabric for at my sewing club: a Quilt Pounce. A friend of mine had bought it and never used it. It's a fabulous device that you pour chalk powder into, and just wipe it across the stencil for an instant mark, so quick and easy. I've quilted one border so far and marked the second one. I did find that the chalk does rub off fairly easily, by the time I got to the end of the quilting some of the lines were just about gone, so I've marked the second border much more heavily and will try not to rub it on itself.

I will finish with a picture of the triffid in my garden, a.k.a. the world-eating nasturtium. This is entirely self-seeded from a nasturtium I planted about 5 years ago (which as I recall was supposed to be a dwarf version). Somewhere underneath the main mass is a large rosemary bush, and it has reached out over a fuschia shrub to embrace the adjoining hydrangea, and even thrown runners across the path to start to engulf the lavender hedge. I would be scared as the house will be next in its evil all-conqueroring path, except that I know the first frost will kill it.


Quilter Kathy said...

Happy Halloween! I admire your spirit of celebration!
The kids are trick or treating here right now...mostly older kids this year because it is very windy and cold tonight. I give them lots of treats for coming out on such a nasty night!
I haven't tried quilting feathers by following a stencil...only freehand. Is it difficult to follow the lines?

swooze said...

Love your quilt. If you were the only bidder you must have gotten it for a song!

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