Sunday, 27 September 2020

A Picture for Sunday - A Grey Squirrel

My lucky day today.  I have always wanted to get good pictures of squirrels, and today the light was perfect.  This little gingery squirrel was sitting near the top of a hollow tree having a snack.  You can see all the crumbs round his mouth!

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Three Needle Knitting


Using three needles after nearly sixty years of just using two was a real hurdle to get over.  After experimenting a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to make a seamless cardigan.  Of course I had to make it more difficult for myself by in knitting fisherman's rib with two different balls of wool.  When I was about a third of the way up the first sleeve it started driving me daft for a number of reasons, including forgetting an increase, getting the tension too tight, and taking ages to pick up dropped stitches.  At one point I was close to pulling it all off the needles and giving up.  What particularly irked me was that whatever I did, the tension to the right of the increasing turned out looser than the tension to the left, and I couldn't fathom out why.  I still can't.  Fortunately I gave myself a bit of a talking to, reminded myself that nobody else would notice, and carried on.  All very character building.


So now I have two little sleeves finished, and have started on the back and fronts.  This means surprisingly long rows for such a little cardie, but I managed to cram 147 stitches onto one needle and am now steaming ahead on straight needles.  The real fun will start when I have to knit everything into one piece when I reach the armholes. 

Friday, 25 September 2020

Free Motion Mavericks - Week 299 - Lots of Pockets

Really struggling here to make this project look interesting.  At this point its best feature is its comedy value.  I never thought all these jolly brushed cottons, mainly florals, but with a couple of nursery prints, would end up as a weighted blanket destined for a big burly dad.

This week I have made 35 buttonholes, sewn all the strips of fabric to the backing, placing them so every strip overlaps the next one, and then machine stitched at right angles to the strips to make a lot of pockets.  Each pocket will have a sandwich of wadding slipped inside, and each sandwich will have plastic beads inside to give extra weight.

I have finally turned the corner with this project.  The first stage, making the backing and the strips for the top, was a bit of a headache because I was working with left over pieces.  In the end I have used nine different fabrics, all brushed cottons.  Some were heavier than others, and the lighter ones in particular had a tendency to shift around during cutting, so I have been rather slapdash about right angles and straight lines.

Once all the strips were made, then I got to work making the buttonholes.  This meant getting out the buttonholer and using the Singer 201K treadle.   After finishing the buttonholes, I decided to investigate a slight creak I could hear while sewing.  I didn't think it could be lack of oil, because I keep the machine well lubricated, so I thought it might just be a noise coming from the buttonholer.  I did a quick sample of ordinary straight stitching to test the machine, and all was well - in fact, it sewed so beautifully and smoothly that I decided to use it to do the next stage of sewing, attaching the strips to the backing, and then the stitching in the other direction to make the pockets.  After all the initial frustrations, suddenly making this blanket became an absolute joy.

Next stage - 35 weighted wadding sandwiches!


Talking of sandwiches, next week is party week!  Free Motion Mavericks Week 300 will be at Andrée's blog, where you can link up your three favourite FMQ projects, so you can go delving into your archives.  Meanwhile, you can link up here next week with any three favourite posts you like, so if you have a special project, a photo, a special occasion to remember - anything you would like to share, just link here with up to three posts from your archives.  I shall be showing a favourite cake recipe, and have yet to decide on two more posts.







Here goes for Week 299:-

Many thanks to Pam for linking up last time with her beautiful moth appliqué.  If you haven't seen her blog post yet, nip over now and see more.


If you have no free motion quilting to show, feel free to link up and show any project you like.  Here are the usual rules, but feel free to ignore them.  To keep the original emphasis, however, preference will be given to free motion quilting when featuring projects from the previous week.

If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link up.

Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.

Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post.

3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for five days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Tuesday.

So far quilters from the USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, France, Macau, Russia, Ireland, Brazil and Sweden have taken part.  The first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

St. Michael Triumphs Over The Devil



The truly splendid painting, St Michael Triumphs over the Devil by Bartolomé Bermejo (c.1440 - c. 1501) is in the National Gallery in London.  One of these days I shall make a visit to see it.  In the meantime I am thinking of buying a print and giving it pride of place on the wall above the computer.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Free Motion Mavericks - Week 297 - A Note From The Past

Sewing the weighted blanket is taking a little longer than I thought it would.  Too many things have been happening at once.  The most interesting distraction has been cleaning up an old sewing machine, and all my good intentions to devote a day to this project this week have fallen flat.

So far, I have joined three pieces of fabric to form the back, which measures 4 feet 6 inches by 6 feet 6 inches.  For the front, which will be made up of rows of pockets into which the weighted pads will be inserted, I have cut out a series of strips to run across the width - two strips of 15 inches, one of 13, one of 11, one of 9 and one of 7.  Soon I shall have 35 buttonholes to do.  The idea is that the pads should be removable to make washing and drying easier.


Most of the fabric belonged to my sister in law's mother, and all the pale blue fabric belonged to my mum.  I remember making a nightdress in the early 1970s with this fabric.  There was plenty left, and my mum obviously had plans for it.  This tiny note was attached to it with a rusty pin.  She died 27 years ago.  I am sure she would be pleased to see it is finally being used.'





Here goes for Week 297:-

Many thanks to Gail for linking up last time with her Carpenter's Star quilt.  If you haven't seen her blog post yet, nip over now and see more.


If you have no free motion quilting to show, feel free to link up and show any project you like.  Here are the usual rules, but feel free to ignore them.  To keep the original emphasis, however, preference will be given to free motion quilting when featuring projects from the previous week.

If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link up.

Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.

Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post.

3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for five days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Tuesday.

So far quilters from the USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, France, Macau, Russia, Ireland, Brazil and Sweden have taken part.  The first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Poppy at Sunset


Not really a flower, just the last petal of a poppy, seen against a sunset last weekend.

 

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Unjamming a Stitch Length Regulator


It can be frustrating doing up an old machine when something is seriously jammed.  This is the stitch length regulator on a Singer 99K hand machine that I have been working on.  When I bought it earlier this week the knob was screwed all the way in and stuck fast.  It was stuck in the position for the longest possible stitch.    

It wasn't possible to get any oil in and onto the thread of the screw, so for two nights running I laid the machine on its back with a piece of cotton yarn wrapped around the screw and soaked the yarn with oil.  The hope was that oil would seep down into the machine and start loosening the screw.  No joy.  Even when using locking adjustable pliers, with a strip of leather protecting the milling around the knob and to help grip, it just wouldn't budge.

It was time for a different approach.  The most likely cause of the jam was hardened residue left by old oil.  This can be softened with heat, so I gave the machine a good blast with a hair dryer until the knob was hot.  I was a little worried about applying too much heat and affecting the japanning, so if I ever need to do this again on another machine I will make a cardboard collar to protect the rest of the machine.

While the knob was still warm I tried turning it with the pliers, and finally it moved.  Sure enough, when I could see the thread of the screw, there was the black residue that had caused the trouble.


The quickest way to get rid of the residue is with metal polish.  I always have a tube of Peek metal polish handy to use on my sewing machines, so I put a small splodge onto the screw.


Then I used some strong crochet cotton to rub the polish back and forth into the grooves of the thread.  The muck came off quickly and easily.

Because there was bound to be some more rubbish left inside the machine, I oiled the thread, screwed the knob back in, cleaned that oil off (which came out brownish), and repeated a couple more times until the oil came out clean.   

Now the knob is nice and clean, and easily adjustable, so once I get the machine up and running I know I can adjust the stitch.

I am now over halfway through cleaning up this particular machine and should be ready to test the stitch in a couple of days.  It is a while since I worked on a machine.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it!

Friday, 4 September 2020

Baby Blanket Ready For Baby


Nicely rolled up for the photo call to keep it semi secret, because this blanket is for a baby due in a month's time.  I am so glad to have it finished!  It is colourful, to say the least.  It should give the baby something to look at in quieter moments.


I used up oddments of wool left over from previous projects.  Many of them were random yarns from which I have made baby cardigans, so that gave an even livelier colour scheme.

This is the first project I have made in the woven effect stitch, and I am very pleased with the outcome.  The blanket has a firmer texture than one expects with knitting, so it should keep its shape fairly well and stand up to all the kicking and stretching that a baby will give it.

Now I shall relax and look forward to seeing the baby!

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Pineapple and Pear Chutney



A rainy day is the ideal opportunity to stay in and make the most of the pears from the trees in the back garden.  I decided to combine them with pineapple for a spicy chutney to serve with curries.  A dry orange also went in, the sort that turns out to be a disappointment when you cut into it and find no juice.  Rather than throw it away, I saved it for the chutney.

I followed the basic formula that I have adapted from a recipe in a 1930s cookery book, namely:-

1lb sugar
1 pint white vinegar
1lb onions
4lbs any fruit and/or vegetables you like
8oz any dried fruit you like
a quarter of a teaspoon of salt
any spices and/or herbs you like

To speed up the cooking, I chopped up the pineapple, orange, pears and onions and left them overnight in the saucepan with the sugar.  This extracts the juice and firms up the fruit and prevents it disintegrating during cooking.  For the dried fruit I used apricots, and cut them up and left them to soak in the vinegar overnight.  The next day I added the apricots and vinegar to the pan, together with crystallised ginger and spices (much the same spices as in the mango chutney I made last year).   After a long slow cook, with the lid off it to allow evaporation, it had reduced down to the right consistency and was ready to pot up.  It came to 3 small jars, 3 large jars, and a tiny bit left over which is now in the fridge ready for us to try when we have a curry.  

The longer you leave chutney, the better it tastes, so ideally we shouldn't open a jar until about Christmas.  I'm looking forward to it already!

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Free Motion Mavericks - Week 295 - Using Up The Stash



Excellent choice of fabric for a big burly bloke, don't you think?

I have been raiding one of the boxes in my sewing room to make a weighted blanket for my niece's husband.  Rather than buy new fabric at this stage, I am using leftover pieces of brushed cotton to make a prototype.  The hope is that the weight will help ease his insomnia.  If it works, then I shall make another in more manly fabric, and this first version will come in useful when the second one is being washed.  

The plan for the blanket is scribbled on a piece of paper.  How it eventually turns out will be a gamble.  Because brushed cotton has plenty of give in the weave, it should be comfortable, but it is a devil to cut straight because it keeps shifting.  Pretty florals aren't generally what the daddy of the family should expect, but there will be both joke value and sentimental value to the blanket when it is finished because I am using up fabric left by both my niece's grandmothers.  My sister in law's mother left a great stash of fabric that she used for children's nighties and pyjamas, and I also have a length of fabric left by my mum, which was bought in the late 1960s or early 70s.  I am glad to be able to put it all to good use.



Here goes for Week 295:-

Many thanks to Carole for linking up last time with some beautifully quilted little birds.  If you haven't seen her blog post yet, nip over now and see more.

If you have no free motion quilting to show, feel free to link up and show any project you like.  Here are the usual rules, but feel free to ignore them.  To keep the original emphasis, however, preference will be given to free motion quilting when featuring projects from the previous week.

If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link up.

Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.

Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post.

3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for five days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Tuesday.

So far quilters from the USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, France, Macau, Russia, Ireland, Brazil and Sweden have taken part.  The 
first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

A Picture for Sunday - The View From The Top



Beautiful Wales!  

Nothing like a good aerial view without having to pay the air fare.  This was the reward for climbing The Skirrid, a mountain in South Wales that has an easy path to the top.  This was the sunlit aspect.  Meanwhile dark clouds were approaching from the opposite side of the mountain, and half an hour later we were drenched.  All very predictable, and a bracing day out.
 

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Spotty Buttons


One project finished today, and not before time!  I changed my mind at the last minute as to which buttons to use.  Definitely the better choice.


I thought they wouldn't show up well enough against the button band, but now they are sewn on they look perfect.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Free Motion Mavericks - Week 293 - Another Knitted Blanket

 

This is the latest baby blanket, in the woven effect stitch I showed last time.  It has been a great way to use up all the odds and ends I have left over from previous projects.  Joining one strip to the next is done as you knit, knitting the last stitch of each wrong side row into the edge of the adjacent strip.  The random baby yarns add to the stripy effect and make the texture a little more snuggly, and the big bold blocks of maroon and yellow are left overs from cardigans I made for myself.  When I was about a quarter of the way through I thought the effect was all too loud and busy.  Now that I am three quarters of the way through, it has grown on me.  I hope the baby who eventually has it will find the colours interesting.  I always love imagining the the little fingers of the future owner pointing at the colours in quiet moments.

This week I had a request from my niece for a weighted blanket for her husband.  This meant a bit of research on my part, as I had only vaguely heard of them before, and half a day of thinking how I would make one and with what.  A quick check of the stash confirmed that I should be able to make one without buying any new fabric, so I should soon be back to sewing in a big way!  Now that we have the new carpet in the dining room we are gradually putting the room back together, and then I will be able to get the sewing machines out again.  After weeks of chaos (don't ask me where my cheque book is) it might come as a bit of a shock.  




Here goes for Week 293:-

Many thanks to Rebecca Grace for linking up last time with her Spirit Song quilt, now finished and looking beautiful.  If you haven't seen her blog post yet, nip over now and see more.


If you have no free motion quilting to show, feel free to link up and show any project you like.  Here are the usual rules, but feel free to ignore them.  To keep the original emphasis, however, preference will be given to free motion quilting when featuring projects from the previous week.

If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link up.

Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.

Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post.

3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for five days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Tuesday.

So far quilters from the USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, France, Macau, Russia, Ireland, Brazil and Sweden have taken part.  The 
first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

A Picture for Sunday - Evening Light


How I wish photographs could convey smells.  Not only was the evening sunlight magical, but there was also the scent of camomile and pineapple weed in the air.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Free Motion Mavericks - Week 291 - Woven Effect Knitting


This stitch is one of my latest discoveries in knitting - a lovely diagonal woven effect, and an uncharacteristically non-stretchy texture.  I am making a second baby blanket - the scallop patterned one is all but finished, but being impatient to try out a new technique, I started another.  As a result I now have a pile of very nearly finished projects, which means I could finish them with a quick concerted effort and get back to sewing again.  The good news is that we are expecting the carpet fitters next Thursday, so we can sort out the dining room, and then I can have my sewing room back!

Roll on next Thursday!





Here goes for Week 291:-


Many thanks to my co-host Andrée for linking up last week with here lovely stitched chives.  If you haven't seen her blog post yet, nip over now and see more.


If you have no free motion quilting to show, feel free to link up and show any project you like.  Here are the usual rules, but feel free to ignore them.  To keep the original emphasis, however, preference will be given to free motion quilting when featuring projects from the previous week.

If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link up.

Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.

Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post.

3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for five days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Tuesday.

So far quilters from the USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, France, Macau, Russia, Ireland, Brazil and Sweden have taken part.  The first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week.

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