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April 2015

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Knitting Rainbows

April 28, 2015

Most of my time at the moment is being devoted to my little hexie patchwork quilt, but I always have some knitting and crochet on the go to provide a little variety, and I've just finished this lace and beaded shawl:

I picked up this gorgeous merino and silk blended yarn from Skein Queen a little while ago.  The yarn is 'Lustrous' and the colour is 'Pearly Rose', which Debbie at Skein Queen describes as: "rose, lilac, golden brown with touches of spring green, pale blue and coral on cream. Randomly dyed".  So pretty:

Of course I had to pick up some rainbow coloured beads to go with it and I love how these work with the yarn, taking on the reflections of the colours closest to them in the knitted fabric:

Knitting rainbows – what could be better? 🙂

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en vacances

April 20, 2015

Last week, him indoors had a week off work and although I can't have a week off work due to my boss (me) being proper stingy that way, we did manage several days out and about.  The fanciest thing about this week was really the title of this blog post – French always makes things seem so much more chic and intriguing, non?

We began the week at our very favourite place to go – the seaside.  We drove up to the Sussex coast and had fish and chips at Aldeburgh after a bracing walk up the beach:

Actually, we walked along the path by the side of the beach because Aldeburgh's beach, being covered with big pebbles, isn't really walking friendly…  Mark wanted to get a picture of a rather intriguing memorial sculpture on the beach this visit.  This is to those lost at sea and is on the stretch of beach between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness:

It was quite cold, although lovely and bright all day and after lunch, we headed off to Sutton Hoo to exercise our National Trust membership cards.

The National Trust appear to have invested a lot of money in the amenities at the site, so I assume that it is very popular but, honestly, we weren't that impressed.  Part of the previous owner's house on the site is open at the moment and we were glad of it – there wasn't an awful lot else for adults to do, although all the school children there seemed to be enjoying themselves.  I do love this huge replica of the Anglo-Saxon helmet found in the excavation on the site that hangs over the entryway to the burial mounds exhibit:

Wednesday's weather was amazing – so warm!  It felt like summer, which made it weird that there were no leaves on the trees.  The National Trust cards were out again, this time at The Blickling Estate – one time Norfolk home and alleged birth place of Anne Boleyn.  The house you see there now was built later in the 17th century on the site of the Tudor house and it is rather lovely, with quite a striking likeness to Hatfield House:

Blickling was last lived in as a family home before World War II and there are a number of pieces on show in the house from that era.  We particularly liked this label on an early Vacuum cleaner that speaks for many of us Brits:

I also found this embroidered bed hanging in one of the bedrooms, which I think would be from an earlier time, but the style of some of the flowers in these panels really reminded me of early 19th century embroidered table cloths:

After looking round the house, we headed out across the estate for what we thought would be quite a short walk.  The walk turned out to be much longer than expected (or desirous) since the walk directions I'd found on the internet proved to be rather badly written and possibly out of date, since the way markers they mentioned weren't in evidence on the ground.  We had a picnic lunch sat on a hill near the Tower in the grounds, which was previously used as the second Earl of Buckinghamshire's horse racing stand and is now available for rent as a National Trust holiday cottage:

The highlight of the day was seeing a little stoat or weasel run across the footpath right in front of us – so cute, so red and so shiny!  Mark didn't have a chance of getting a photograph of him because he was gone in a flash, so we don't know whether he was a stoat or a weasel – apparently, they're not the easiest to identify as they're so similar, even if you see them for longer than a second.

Before heading back home, we decided to go a little further north for another look at the sea – this time at Wells Next The Sea – isn't that a great name?  The beach there looked amazing but it was getting late and several degrees cooler by the time we got there, plus I'd really had enough walking for the day, so we've bookmarked it for a longer visit some other time.  Mark did manage to get me a great shot of one of my favourite black headed gulls.  These birds really are bonkers, but I like them 🙂  Not sure why they're called black headed gulls though – they're heads are definitely brown:

Friday was another nice bright day, although quite a bit cooler.  As we still hadn't managed a proper walk on a beach next to the sea, we decided to head out to the Essex coast and visit Frinton on Sea, a rather strange little seaside place sandwiched between two more commercial seaside spots – Clacton and Walton on the Naze.  There is one fish and chip shop at Frinton (half a mile from the sea) and what seems like thousands of beach huts, but very little else that you'd think of as typically seaside holiday town fare.  You do get the distinct impression that Frintonions would really rather not be welcoming outsiders to their beach.  The beach is quite nice, but when we arrived at around 11am, the tide was pretty much all the way in and it didn't get that far out by the time we left, a little after 2pm.  We had a long walk along the promenade (aka concrete sea wall) to Walton on the Naze and saw rather more of those beach huts than we could shake a stick at and, on the way back, we did finally manage a bit of a walk on the beach:

Such a nice little interlude and now we must retour au travail – at least until the weekend 🙂

As usual, all photographs by him indoors.

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Quilting Time

April 11, 2015

Last weekend I had an urge out of nowhere to make a quilt.  Let's be clear – I have absolutely no business making a new quilt – I have several on the go, all at different stages.  I'm in the process of quilting one – my Indian Summer Stars quilt:

Then there is my Window on the Forest MKII quilt, which is waiting to be sandwiched and basted so I can quilt it (apologies for the poor quality picture):

And then there is last summer's scrap busting endeavour – ' Rabbit Patch' – an applique piece which still needs borders adding, sandwiching and quilting:

Plus, I've got all the fabrics to hand to make another of last year's ideas – a template piece with yachts and beach huts using Liberty lawn, which didn't even get off the ground yet!

To be fair, I haven't had enough time since last Summer to do any quilting, apart from bits here and there in sewing cases, nightdress cases, quilted stockings and a little wall hanging:

This has really kept my hand in as far as hand quilting is concerned without making the large time commitment that a quilt demands.  But now, inspiration has struck and must be answered! 

I'd had my eye on a pretty fabric collection for months – Suffolk Garden by Brie Harrison for Dashwood Studios:

I really wanted to do something with this collection and a quilt is always a great way to use a pretty collection like this.  Plus, a quick look in the online fabric shops showed me that it was selling out in some places, and others only had one or two of the prints available.  Luckily, Fabric HQ had all the prints and I love how quickly they dispatch fabrics – they completely understand the needs of the inspiration struck stitcher!

As there is a garden theme to the fabrics, I decided that a Grandma's Flower Garden hexie design was the way to go and was instantly excited about it – it's been 2 years since I made my last English Paper Piece quilt and my hands have just about forgotten how rough it was on them:

I immediately got on with finalising my design and ordering the fabrics and, while I waited, I got to work cutting out 247 one and a quarter inch hexies from scrap paper, using a plastic template and a pair of scissors.  I know that one of those fabulous template cutting machines would make this all so much easier and quicker for the paper and the fabric, but I just don't do enough of this kind of making at the moment to justify the investment in one.

The fabrics arrived on Wednesday and I've already cut out all my hexies and have almost finished tacking them to the papers – only about 60 left to do, which I should polish off over the weekend.  I'm quite surprised how quick this part has been to be honest – I thought it took a lot longer last time…

I've decided to save my very favourite print from the collection for the backing and binding of the quilt, which is going to be cot sized to keep it manageable:

So excited to start piecing and see it grow – especially since I've learned an awful lot about the processes involved since my last quilt and hope that this one will be all I would want it to be!  And, hopefully, finishing this little indulgence quilt will spur me on to complete my other unfinished ones 🙂