Monday, 30 November 2009

Feast for the eyes

I have been so busy with the decorating of the lounge that I have not had much free time. Nor does it look like it is likely in the next few days as we are nearing ordering the floor sander..... So I thought you might like to feast your eyes on some more Kebaya which I mentioned in my blog on 22nd October.

First up we have a lovely blue number. This features oversize rose blooms with leaves and primroses, the embroidery being in raised satin stitch for the roses and normal satin stitch for the primroses with simple running stitch leaves. I think this effect is stunning.

So number two is a pretty pink one.

The motifs are Japanese inspired scenes.The fabric is fine voile and the embroidery is raised non satin stitch (main motifs) and normal satin stitch for the border leaf motifs. A very pretty effect I think.

The last one features daisies with tulip borders and white daisy buds. It is again worked in normal satin stitch and satin stitch is used for the edging of the cutwork. This is described in the book as minimally stunning, and I think it is all the better for its simplicity. I adore the way the daisies have been worked and may have a go at something like this myself when I have more time.

So there you have a snippet from the book on 'the nyonya kebaya' by Datin Seri Endon Mahmood.  There are many more beautiful kebaya inside it and I will post some now and then for those of you who visit this blog from Malaysia and those of you who are just interested like me.

This next photo is just an update on the lounge so that you can see it is progressing slowly. Don't worry about the dark line you see in the corner, it was just me cutting the wallpaper back where it had dried a little way away from the wall. I have filled the hole with decorators caulking and will paint over it so that you would never know it was there. On the whole the wallpapering went like a dream considering it must be about four years since I did any, I can't think why I don't do more as I enjoyed myself immensely.

Anyway, I have also been working on some of the sewing projects which I have stacked up and this photo is supposed to show you some piping I made ready for my new upholstery project, (not a Chesterfield sofa which I did once taking me a week) but a simpler Ercol chair. I wanted some piping to go with the material I have chosen and I found some silk taffeta I had left over from a replica of a dress of 1827 I made for a student assessment when I was at Teacher's Training College doing my post grad course.  One day I may show you the dress too, if I can find the photos to scan in, I still have the original dress mind.

So this taffeta is a wonderful combination of pale pink and grey and it shines in the light. I hope to be working on the cushion pad tonight if Bella will stay quiet. She was disturbed this morning at 4.30am......Yapped and went mad at the back door to the garden so that eventually both of us were out of  bed. I won't bore you with more, but I will need my sleep tonight.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Lounge yesterday

Bella is inconsolable, her favourite has just wizzed off down into Keswick to 'Lakeland Decor' once again on a mission of great importance which does not involve terriers! She has decided to keep watch and will not turn round for the camera despite all my entreaties... You can see the state of play, I spent the rest of the day wallpapering with grade 1200 lining paper from the left of the window, (yes I found an old book which told me the order of wallpapering to avoid seeing the seams). You start at the window and work round to the largest wall then stop: restart from the window going the other way and join up again, simple.

I did the first half to the longest wall yesterday and stopped myself about 5 pm tired but winning. The mission he was on turned out ok as he was buying a 'test' sample of emulsion for the walls and when I applied it to a piece of A4 paper and went round the room checking it in various places we both decided it was an ok colour; phew that was a relief, no disagreements there then. So I must now do the other two walls, no time to waste for blogging.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Steady progress

But not on the log cabin quilt; no it's the lounge decorating frenzy this week. I must finish it. I undercoated all day yesterday and today I am papering, I know the purists amongst you will probably say I am doing this the wrong way round, but I have gone beyond the point of caring, done is better than perfect. It is plain paper so I can paint it with emulsion so it should not matter if the gloss painting is not done first I think. What I can't remember is where you are supposed to start decorating from so the light does not show up the seams. I had a book here on this a couple of weeks ago that I negotiated as part of a job lot to start a new library for Keswick Embroiderers' Guild, but of course when I wanted to look this up the book had gone. Luckily it is on the top floor of the Friends Meeting House or it would have been ruined in the floods and all my efforts to secure these special books from Dulcie Beasley's daughter in law would have been wasted. I would like us to call it the Beasley Library but I am no longer Chairman so I don't have much clout anymore. Just as well though as I am enjoying my freedom.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Trying to get back to normal

If you are following my comments on the recent floods do you mind looking at my other blog as I am only posting on that one about the situation now.

Meanwhile, I have been playing with log cabin mostly to take my mind off the current situation and because I find it easy to do so it suits my present mood when concentration is somewhat lacking.  I don't suppose this will ever be a fabulous quilt, but that does not matter, what does is that it will be warm and serviceable on a bed.  So this is a photograph of the initial stages and I hope to be able to display some better ones when I have something more interesting established.

I have no idea how I am going to put the blocks together yet or how I intend to quilt it but any ideas would be welcome. Perhaps I will use it to improve my machine quilting.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Flooded Keswick

This is the scene outside the Friends Meeting House at 1pm today where we should have been attending our Embroiderers' Guild workshop making bags. As you can see from the following photo it would have been more appropriate if I had been teaching them sailing.....

This photo is taken slightly to the right of the first one in Booths Supermarket carpark, which although impossible to cross to without wellies was still open and trading. Actually this was a couple of reporters I think judging by the huge cameras they had with them hitching a lift with the Firemen who had borrowed a Canadian canoe from the local marina.Some people just sploshed through regardless.

So a very wet Keswick it is today and the Police advise all people who have booked B & B's here to not come at all, because there is only one road open and it is essential that it is kept clear for emergency vehicles.
So if you know of anyone who was coming to Keswick please pass on the message.

Luckily, I am not in an area which has been evacuated but some of my friends are and my heart goes out to them because one friend was 10 months out of her home a couple of years back and now will be flooded again. The rain is not due to stop until sometime early tomorrow morning so it is going to get worse not better tonight as the fells (mountains) are soaked and the water is pouring off them down the valleys and into the rivers. I believe it is going to be a better day on Friday but the rain is due back for the weekend. I will stay inside and carry on with a log cabin quilt I have started, it's the best thing to do........

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Having fun

Well yes I have been enjoying myself this week because I have been experimenting with new ideas for bags. You see Keswick Embroiderers Guild meeting this Thursday is all about making bags and so I felt I had to at least try and design something new. I had been toying with an idea for the perfect quick professional looking bag for a while and then one morning I had an inspiration. So here is the result, may I show you my Linton Tweed effort first. (I made this a couple of weeks back actually.)

Most of my bags over the years have been shoulder bags as I don't like to carry a bag in my hands. I do sometimes carry one (usually at weddings) but not often. So this one was designed with one large roomy interior and a secure D fastening which you can buy here off the wonderful Lisa Lam who also gives loads of free patterns and advise for bag making. It also has a secure inner compartment with a zip and again go to Lisa's site for how to do this as her instructions are simplicity itself.  I made the shoulder strap with webbing which you can buy at any good climbing shop (loads of them in Keswick) but if you look around I am sure you will find some in your area. The webbing was incased in the tweed and then for an added luxury I put a strip of lovely red leather down the outer edge...I also used red leather to make two triangles for the shoulder fastenings at the sides.

This bag was on test on my recent Yorkshire trip and it passed with flying colours. I even took it out on the Dales for a 3 hour walk and stuffed an Ordanance Survey map inside with no problems. However, I wanted to also try some other fabric which is made at this place in Turkey. You can buy this fabric in Keswick from here  and I often go in just to buy small pieces or offcuts as we call them. But this time I had been given some small pieces by my friend who lives in Borrowdale and I had already made one bag with some of this fabric. (If some of you more experienced bloggers can tell me how to link back to my previous posting other than this effort, I will be eternally grateful)

Anyway, so I now present the 2nd bag made with the Turkish fabric...

This bag is slightly shorter than the previous one and the strap is a little bit thicker whilst the fastening is a magnetic one so that the full beauty of the fabric on the front is not obliterated. It turns out to be a stiffer bag too. Anyway, I am now toying with the idea of floral embellishments, but if any of you have any ideas or hints and tips please let me know. I am here to learn......I have bought a couple of brooch backs which I thought I might use for this purpose. I did discover recently a site with 'zip' corsages which looked interesting.

Meanwhile, I also made some new cushion covers with some more Guleser fabric. These are meant to brighten up my sofa and I am so pleased with the result that I am hankering to make more and even considering re-upholstering a chair or two...(I once spent a whole week doing up an old Chesterfield Sofa I bought for £54 and sold it 2 years later for £240.) That was when I was a student studying History at Lancaster University and I was hard up for cash. So here are the cushions

I hope you like them as much as I do...

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


I was in Yorkshire last week for a few days celebrating my DH's birthday and I found this very olde worldy Butcher's shop, I hope you are not offended by the contents, I found it all reminded me of my childhood when more butchers had decorations and streamers in the windows.  I for one loved the array of chickens along the front and they were quite delightful.  Of course this is Yorkshire Moors country and this town was Pickering, well known for its picturesque beauty, I only had time for one shot as he whisked me up to the church so he could see the local effigy of a knight inside.

Since our return from this mini holiday, I have been busy making bits and bobs this week but have not finished them all so no more photographs at this stage, but I will be showing you all what I have made soon.

Meanwhile, I just want to remind all Keswick EG members who are coming to the meeting to make bags on the 19th to bring along sewing kits and some or all of the following depending on what you intend to do.

suitable material for the outside of the bag  (tweed, upholstery fabric, strong cotton etc)
lining material for the inside
zip for a pocket approx 7"    optional
Vilene for stiffening  different weights might be handy as bag bottoms need to be strong
Quilt wadding for softening the look of the bag
Glue (Copydex is good)
Bits and pieces for embellishment
Fastening systems
Strongish cord or webbing for handles
D rings for fastening to the sides  or curtain rings etc
Sewing machine
Extension cable or 4 gang socket
This is just to give you an idea and is by no means compulsory, it is your day to make a bag of your choosing and you may have a pattern which you want to share too.

Sally will bring along examples of the bags she has made and these will no doubt inspire you, Lesley is bringing something and Val will be bringing her 'carpet bag' made from the free material I gave out last year. I have a Linton Tweed bag to show you too so there should be plenty of variety.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Google Find

Here is inspiration for any budding crewel worker, I found this on a recent Google search.

I have been busy working on the bag for the workshop at the next Embroiderers' Guild meeting on 19th November. There should be plenty of ideas to choose from on that day and I will have my new bag to show you too.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Food indulgence

Wednesday evening and today were special because they were spent in good company with even better food. I decided to treat a friend (who cannot eat gluten) to my pavlova as she remarked that the recipe I described contained no ingredients which could upset her.  So I invited her round to see the new greenhouse and to have tea with pavlova, of course the clocks had gone back last weekend so the idea was to have a candlelit tea.  Well I was a bit apprehensive about it at the time but it all went very well. The first photo shows you the scene in the greenhouse prior to our guest arriving.

I had to keep adding more candles as the evening grew quite dark by 5 o'clock and she was expected around that time, as it was she was delayed half an hour so it was very dark by the time she arrived but it all worked out fine and we could all see to have our tea too. The reason it had to be had in the greenhouse was because I had asked her to 'officially open' the greenhouse sometime in the summer but we never managed to get round to it.....I did not bother with a ribbon cutting ceremony or anything like that but we did enjoy it and discovered that Bella really likes pavlova too, it was difficult to ignore her begging and she was most insistent. This next shot might explain why.

Is this a dog's eye view?

Today was even better food because we were invited to Sunday lunch with an old friend who used to be a chef here.  If you have never heard of this Country House Hotel then I am surprised because it was the first one in existence and is world famous.  So our lunch was wonderful. We started with salmon and lobster with an amazing sauce. Next we had a traditional roast with all the trimmings and some very special chutney. This was followed by the famous Sticky Toffee Pudding (invented by Francis Coulson when he had the hotel) and lastly by another pudding; a wonderful Syllabub.  (Our friend was the chef who specialised in the pastry and puddings hence the idea of giving us two to eat...) Fine french wine and fond memories completed the perfect lunch. I nearly forgot to mention that Bella was invited too and she had an enormous plate of roast meat (under the table) for a small terrier and then fell fast asleep by my feet. She is still sleeping now on the sofa at home and has not touched her dinner   hmm.

So what progress can I report about sewing activities? Well I have made a start on a simple log cabin quilt and I have also made a start on a 'Linton Tweed' project but I have to admit I have not completed the crewel work embroidery yet but I have made progress as you can see below. There is still a great deal to do though but I really do have to make more time for sewing and less for eating next week.