Sunday, 6 March 2016

Hurrah for an empty nest

Although our nest is only sporadically empty while DS is off at university, I do appreciate the relative freedom I have to enjoy myself all weekend compared to some of my younger colleagues who complain about never having any time to themselves. (Although I do believe that you make time for the priorities in your life).

This weekend we took the cat to Fat Camp for her monthly weigh in, she's slimmed right down and the vet is much happier with her. Then we went to B&Q and picked up a car load of soil improvers for the garden which I will spread next weekend. The afternoon was the gardening society, where I listened to a talk from the keeper of the national Euphorbia collection with lots of pretty pictures of gorgeous plants. He also had some plants for sale so I bought a pretty blue shrub that I can't remember the name of but hopefully it will live to be big enough to plant out.

Then I headed down to the workshop to make a start on my dollshouse porch kit.  It is freezing in the unheated basement (not quite literally, but pretty close) which necessitates bundling up in hat, cowl, and bulky jumpers. I've decided to construct the porch as a stand alone assembly, because it is way too big to try to attach to the dollshouse. I'm also going to try to retain the existing porch of the house so it still looks ok with out the add-on porch, so I had to cut out the kit to fit around the house. I've also had to shorten the side wing as my house isn't as deep as the house it was designed for.  Lots of gluing and nailing and filling, then today some sanding and priming. It feels good to be building something again. I haven't built anything since I 'finished' the Fairfield kit in 2012. And now I have the luxury of building in a workshop which, although very cold,  has electricity after a somewhat grumpy electrician installed some extra powerpoints for me this week.

Today was very crafty.  In the morning we headed up to Peterborough for a model show that DH wanted to go to. I went in for a look around, although plastic models are not really my thing. I was interested to see a couple of vendors marketing custom laser cut products: quite elaborate paint storage systems, brush holders, modellers work trays, special stands to hold work in progress etc. It just shows how laser cutters have come down in price so that niche markets can make use of them. There also seems to be more laser cutting going on in the dollshouse world but I haven't seen any for knitters yet. A missed opportunity perhaps because similar assemblies to what I saw today would work to hold needles, interchangeables, sewing tools etc.  There were also vendors selling tools and I picked up a pack of sanding sponges and a set of razor saw blades for my X-acto knife which may come in useful.

After a nice Mexican lunch at Chiquitos which wasn't too crowded despite being Mothering Sunday here in the UK, we headed to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford where Grosvenor was running its Spring Quilt Show.  I'd never been before but I'd heard it was good for fabric and indeed there seemed to be a lot of well priced fabric available. Several stands were selling at £6m which is pretty good for the UK. I  wasn't really in the market for fabric but I did pick up some blue with white circles on it which may work as a 'snow' border for my Let it Snow quilt.

It was a bit of an unusual venue for a quilt show - to get to the entrance you had to walk through a hangar of enormous planes and at one end of the quilt exhibition floor there was a helicopter just casually parked near the cafe.
It was quite chilly inside which was good because I didn't see a coat check and I certainly didn't get too hot wearing my heavy winter coat around the exhibition. I felt sorry for the stallholders though. I was there in mid afternoon and it wasn't busy at all, but it must have been better on Friday and Saturday because some vendors were sold out of patterns and kits.

I picked up some Aurifil thread to try it again for piecing, podcasters rave about it but I tried it several years ago and didn't like it. I also got a replacement teflon pressing sheet because I have managed to lose both of mine somehow in my sewing room.  Janome were there which reminded me that my quarter inch foot has become quite wobbly and inaccurate. I was going to replace it with the same foot but they showed me a convertible see-through quarter inch foot for the same price so I got that to give it a try.

This wasn't a show with quilts entered for competition but it did have various small displays by artists or groups. It wasn't a big show and not that many quilts on display, but a good selection of vendors.  My impulse buy of the day was a very cute pattern and kit for a pincushion, sewing box and scissors keeper in the shape of toadstools from Endless Threads. I was very tempted by her other patterns for house shaped objects but decided to go with this one as it had a kit. They are made from felt and the detail is a combination of applique and machine embroidery.

In the car to and from the shows, I was knitting on my GAA Afghan Salpekar square. I had finished the cabled centre in the week, and now I am knitting a cabled border to go around the centre.  The written instructions for the mitred corner didn't make any sense to me and after two failed attempts I looked on Ravelry to find that other people had also had problems. Luckily one lovely lady had charted out replacement instructions so I downloaded those and managed to turn the corner at last sitting down with a cup of tea while DH was looking around the model show.

While Mr Grumpy Electrician was working on the workshop this week, I stayed within earshot in my sewing room and got on with my final four blocks from the Let it Snow Quilt. They are now all fused down and I just need to do all the blanket stitching and detail stitching. One of them is a snow cat, which is my own version of the original pattern which was more of a snow man with cat whiskers and cat ears. I didn't think it looked very realistic so I re-drew the shape to look more like a cat. There's also a snow angel, a snow boy, and a snow skater.

Otherwise this week I've done some more commuter knitting on the second Basket Check Sock, done some more cross-stitch on my big project, and ordered (and received) some lacemaking DVDs borrowed from the Lace Guild's library. The DVDs are by Christine Springett on Torchon Lace, and Bridget Cook on Bucks Point, and I'm sure I will learn by seeing lace done rather than just reading about it out of books. I did do a few more inches on my miniature bobbin lace shelf edging and so far have not broken the thread, so I'm pleased. I managed to re-draw the working diagram in the book with some Tippex and black Sharpie to correct the errors, and it's going alright now.

Hope you've had a crafty weekend as well!

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