Sunday, 29 October 2017

Putting the garden to bed

I've spent a lot of time the past week getting the garden ready for winter, as they are predicting a frost very soon.  Our brief enjoyment of our new water feature has finished until next year as I have drained the water and packaged the fountain up in hessian and a fountain cover to protect the cast stone over the winter.  I've drained and brought a couple of birdbaths and a second fountain into the shed for protection, earthed up vulnerable plants like our fuschias to protect their crowns, moved a few containers into a sheltered corner, and cut back various perennials and brought their wire supports into the shed.  We also moved the patio furniture into the shed as well.  It is a very full shed now.

I've been enjoying my walks on the way to work through the crisp autumn air with the leaves swirling around the pavements, I really like this time of year.  Our garden is looking increasingly bare as most of my plants are perennials, but I like the thought that it will all slumber through the winter (hopefully without dying) and come back to life in the spring.  I planted out a bunch of crocus bulbs in the new bed and some more daffs, despite my perennial bad luck with bulbs I always seem to try again each autumn.  I've also got the tulips I lifted from last year, which I will be planting out in containers in a few weeks - they looked really nice last spring.

It's been a week of bobbin lace.  In addition to the lace day last weekend in Letchworth, I attended a lace morning at Knuston Hall on Thursday, went to the Nene Lacemakers lace day yesterday, and on Monday I've got a day off from work to take a one-day lace class to make an angel with Alison Winn.  I've got a new pattern for an edging which the teacher gave me on Thursday, so Friday night I was busy winding 25 pairs of bobbins so that I could have a go at starting it yesterday.  It's not a complicated edging but there are no instructions so I spent most of the morning trying to make a start on it.  I eventually realised that it wasn't working but it was fun trying to puzzle it out.  Last night I undid half of what I'd done and tried again and it still wasn't working.  I went and looked in my lace books until I found something similar in a Geraldine Stott book and realised the mistake I was making (doing the wrong stitch on one row of holes) so now I know what I need to do.  Just need to undo it again and start over.  My plan is to make a length of lace that I can sew around a mat or a hankie, so it will be a simpler project to take out to lace events than my more complex hexagonal edging.  I haven't taken a picture of it because it doesn't look like anything yet. The teacher on Thursday encouraged me to try more samples of different kinds of Bucks Point lace so that I can keep learning - there is a danger having started the long-term project of the hexagonal edging to just stagnate until that's done.  I agree, but on the other hand as a time challenged person, starting a new project in bobbin lace is very front loaded in terms of effort because you have to prepare the pricking and wind all the bobbins.  It's a bit like needleturn applique which I enjoy doing but is a complete faff to get ready. So I don't know that I will be able to get a new sample ready and worked every couple of months but we'll see.

On the quilting front, I've almost finished quilting the Japanese lap quilt on the frame.  I've also identified a potential solution for my broken tracks.  I found conversation threads on the Grace Yahoo group about replacing the plastic tracks with 1/4" stainless steel rods. I found a steel-stockholder in Northampton that stocks these so DH is going to go collect some in a few weeks when he is home on a week day.  If they are the right size, they should sit on top of the grooved channel (which currently contains the plastic track) and allow the machine carriage to roll smoothly.  If it works, it should be a real game changer as I always feel like I am fighting against my carriage's tendency to suddenly yaw in various directions when I am quilting on the frame.  Then I will only have myself to blame for any wiggles in the stitching line.

I trimmed up the raw edges of the William Morris grid quilt and machine stitched the binding onto the right side, so that will be my evening project this week to hand-stitch the binding down around this large double-size quilt.

And the Hawaiian wallhanging is completely done and even has a label on the reverse side about our trip. It feels good to have finally finished this after eight years of it sitting around.

For binding on the Hawaiian quilt, I used a wicker-like print on the diagonal so it looks a bit like bamboo or woven thatch.  I rounded off the two bottom corners which I like as it makes it look more like a picture.

I need to create a place where I can display quilts like this.  I think I've said before that there isn't a good place to display quilts in this house because the walls are very broken up by doorways and windows.  But I've decided to make a hanging place in the main hallway which will take small quilts the size of the Hawaiian one, or a larger quilt folded up.  The pulley and rod system I was using in the old house worked effectively but isn't very nice to look at, so I think I am going to try to make something simpler that blends into the wall better.  Watch this space.

I've almost finished my first fingerless glove so will start the second one this week.  It's been a fun knit, along the lines of making a vanilla sock, I like being able to tailor the pattern to fit my own hand. I also like using my short glove needles to knit the fingers with, it's always nice having the right tool for the job.

We've decided to have a go at tiling the repaired bits of the main bathroom floor ourselves, because the tiler I contacted is booked up until Christmas and also expressed strong doubts about re-laying tiles that we had lifted from the ensuite.  We've cleaned up several tiles by soaking them in water and scraping off the guck on the back. The bare parts of the floor are mostly along one wall rather than in the main traffic area, so if we don't get it perfect then it's not the end of the world.  So the job this weekend is to get the bare floor bits ready by scraping off the loose bits of adhesive and fraying plywood, filling holes, and getting a coat of primer down.  Then it will be  case of cutting tiles to fit around the sink and toilet and getting ready for the final step of sticking them down with adhesive.  Hopefully it will work and the generic adhesive will work on these tiles.

It's Halloween soon.  I have put up some decorations but it has felt half-hearted.  The first several years I lived in the UK, I maintained the custom of celebrating Halloween as a fun holiday despite the Scrooge environment around me.  Back in the 80s and early 90s, I think Halloween was seen as an unwelcome American import and the Brits didn't get it at all, I even saw a letter in the paper denouncing it as promoting Satan etc.  It's now much more embedded and most shops now stock some Halloween decorations and costumes, or have window displays.  I'm still not sure they get it though as the emphasis here seems to be very much on the gore and horror aspects rather than the fun element I remember from my childhood in North America.  But maybe that's what it's like in North America now as well, who knows.  But it almost seems more of an adult holiday here than something fun for kids. Meanwhile over the years, my enjoyment has been eroded by the lack of enthusiasm, by DS being  squeamish about carving pumpkins so I have to do it alone, by having my pumpkin kicked down the street like a football (twice), having jerks in their twenties show up with just a face mask as a costume trying to freeload on sweets, and in our new house having virtually no trick-or-treaters at all.  However my family have grown accustomed to the event being on our calendar so after a few iterations of 'when are you going to put the decorations up', I have put some up - although hampered by having to keep the hallway clear for the plumber's comings and goings.  I've even got a large pumpkin which I shall carve today in readiness and some tubs of sweets ready for any trick-or treaters. 

So Happy Halloween if you are celebrating!

Image result for halloween pumpkin


swooze said...

One of my favorite Halloween memories was the first year the kids carved pumpkins. My daughter loved it but the face my son made was priceless. He hated the feel of it. Now they have fake car cable pumpkins which are made of some foam like guts!

Halloween is still strong here except that is become a bit political. People getting in trouble for dressing as Native American Indians and the like. Although I guess it could be compared to putting on black face. We have no little ones on the street anymore so we turn off the lights and hide inside. Many churches now host trick or treating which some call Trunk or Treat by passing candy out from the back of their car.

Glad your renovations and crafting are coming along. I hope your track solution works.

Daisy said...

Daughter’s Nursery seemed to be doing Halloweeen so I dropped her off dressed as a black cat (well, Black t shirt with cat face on and black leggings!) and put a donation in their charity tub but that’s been about it. From what I can gather of friends with school age children there are a lot of fancy dress type ‘days’ now which sounds like a bit of a faff.

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