Consequently I don't feel like I've got much done this week. I have lacked the mental energy to start anything new until yesterday, and couldn't face tiny bits of dollshouse at all. Also it has been fairly busy at work so I've been tired on work nights.
However, I have plodded onwards with works in progress.
I finished the Bucks Point motif and sewed in the ends. There are some mistakes in it plus several of my picots didn't go right, I still don't understand why sometimes the picots work and sometimes they don't. I suppose this is where it would be useful to have a lace teacher to consult. I might sew this onto a pincushion as a gift for m-i-l.
I've done a bit more on the next sample for the hankerchief edging but not very much.
I've completed the main body of the Gradient Baby Surprise Jacket, and now I'm going to pick up and knit a little collar for it. It didn't use up as much yarn as I expected so consequently it hasn't utilised the full colourway of the gradient, but has stayed in the blue and green spectrum.
I've started quilting the Friendship Braid table mats. I haven't actually quilted anything properly for a few years so I stuck with safe stencils like a walking foot cable and a simple free motion heart. (On a sidenote, my sewing room is in a converted cellar and I have worried a bit about damp. So far I hadn't seen any evidence like mould, but I drew the heart stencil with a water soluble blue pen. Overnight it disappeared almost completely which suggests the moisture content in the air is fairly high. Great, something else to be paranoid about.)
I completely quilted one of the small mats and gave it a wash to remove the chalk markings and shrink up the Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 wadding a bit. I wanted to check if I liked the quilting pattern and density before I tackled the other two. Of course, the moment I laid it out to take a photo, the cat appeared out of nowhere and had to be shoo'd off.
The quilting looks fine apart from I didn't like the effect of the echo quilting in the darker thread, so I will do the same stitching on the other two mats but change the echo quilting to a light thread. I want to finish these as the instructions for completing the Cosy Afternoon BOM quilt have now been issued and I would like to get that one together.
Yesterday we sanded down and I painted a flat pack bench kit from eBay, then we put it together. Today I will put a second coat of paint on it. It's to go here inside our porch, to make the space seem a bit more welcoming and useful. It's a bit flimsy, but it will be protected from the weather in the porch so it should be fine, and we like the style of it.
A drive in the country
Yesterday we drove about 40 minutes into Leicestershire, guided by my phone's satnav down increasingly narrow and winding country lanes, past hamlets of medieval stone housing and churches, passing tractors transporting massive wheels of hay, until we eventually arrived at a massive farm complex in the middle of nowhere. We were there to buy firewood for the winter, and were greeted by a young woman with the voice of a drill sergeant who efficiently helped us throw a bunch of firewood into the back of her truck (to measure the quantity) before transferring it to our car - meanwhile simultaneously marshalling a tribe of children to handle the logistics of moving some of the 25 horses they board between pasture and stable. There were multiple enormous barns, a number of goats running around, dogs, horse boxes, all the paraphernalia of a huge working farm. We felt like urban fish out of water, and meekly did what we were told by the drill sergeant including shutting various gates while children chased goats around. A completely different way of life, which made our city slicker 'challenges' seem pretty trivial. So now we have enough firewood piled up in the cellar to see us through the winter I should think since we aren't actually heating with it. The wood stove in the study does throw a good heat but the fireplaces in the dining room and living room are primarily for decoration as almost all the heat goes up the chimney.
A visit to the V&A
Last week I went to the V&A after work to see a couple of exhibitions while I can still take advantage of my membership (before I lose my season ticket to London). I wanted to see the Tower of Babel exhibition of miniature London shops. Despite being displayed in a rather awkward area with a lot of overhead glare from skylights, it was just as impressive as I had expected.
The artist photographed more than 3,000 London shops and then worked with a Staffordshire pottery to apply the photographs to bone china shells. The tower is arranged by socia-economic strata, with the lowest at the bottom (derelict shops, kebab shops etc.) and the highest at the top (Selfridges, Harrods etc.) The amount of detail is incredible, and I wish they had considered constructing a viewing platform so spectators could see the higher-up items. As it was, the distance combined with the overhead glare made it quite difficult to see anything above head height. The shops are all available to buy from the V&A website.
Also opening recently was the Fabric of India exhibition. This was an overview of the vast textile tradition of the Indian subcontinent, and the sophisticated techniques they were employing when the rest of the world was still making crude weaving attempts. I liked the first part best, where they showed how several types of cloth and embroidery are created, together with short videos of Indian makers. It made me nostalgic for my long ago trip to India, to see the Rajasthan tie-dye, the chain stitch embroidery, the stamped indigo patterned cloth, the silk and embroideries. The exhibition continues through the colonial era (boo, British imports ruining local industry) through to the modern day (yay, Indian craftsmen still doing work that is dying out in the rest of the world so increasingly being sought out by Western designers). The inevitable gift shop was selling attractive tote bags made from remnants of hand-stamped Indian cloth and I succumbed as I am a sucker for a tote bag. There were various designs but mine looks a lot like this one.