Saturday, April 9, 2016

Managing time (or not!)

If I had to choose one sentence to sum up my life it would be "there aren't enough hours in a day" as I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want to do! There's always something I have to leave out and at the moment one of those things is my poor blog. It isn't that I haven't got anything to say; quite the opposite in fact.

My time has been split between trying to get the garden ready for Spring (which has meant dodging the heavy rain and getting out there whenever it's been fine enough to work on our heavy clay soil), keeping my running ticking over (that's easy as it's just part of my daily routine), Village in Bloom stuff (we are trying to better our Silver Gilt from last year), baking and general household stuff and crafting (yes, I know I have far too many crafts from which to choose).

Where should I start? The garden's always a good place.

Stems from a couple of Dogwoods - look at those glorious colours! It's important to cut them back if you want to get such intensely coloured stems.

Another beautiful Hellebore (whose name I've forgotten for the moment!)

Tidying up the spiky old yukka. In the trade it's known as 'brown bitting' as you pull out all the dead leaves and trim off the brown bits from the leaf tips. 

It's tough work and you have to be careful to avoid the spiky leaf-tips but it's well worth the effort.

Tilly was a tremendous help.....

...but found the whole thing rather tiring

The apple and pear trees needed their winter pruning

I love getting up close to the trees in the orchard and swoon at the amazing mosses and lichens on their branches

The horses are desperate to get into the orchard to graze the grass down - look at that mud at the field gate. It's normal to get a degree of 'poaching' (ie compaction of an area which then gets very muddy in wet weather) but most of the field is really messy and we need to get a roller on it as soon as it's dry enough to get a tractor on the field.

Sorry Esther, it's just too wet at the moment!

I trimmed off the bottom of Kizzy's tail as it was dragging in the mud.

 It wasn't wasted though as I put it by the compost heaps alongside the Pampas grass stems and Cardoon seeds and it was soon claimed by the rooks to use as nesting material. I saw them flying off with beaks full of it!

The over-wintering guests in my shed, including this beautiful Peacock butterfly, were awoken by the sunshine and I left the window open for them to escape.

This beautiful cock pheasant currently has a harem of 8 ladies to keep him happy!

I took this through the window one morning (only 5 hens there)

The ducks taking a siesta in the shade of the wheelbarrow

Sadly though, the sunny spells have been short-lived and so as soon as the soil starts to dry out the rain has made it unworkable again. As a result of this I haven't been able to lift and divide many of the perennials which need attention so I am way behind schedule. But then we gardeners always complain about something don't we.

Easter came and went with a 3:1 ratio of rain to fine weather so I stayed indoors and split my time between baking and crafting. It wouldn't be complete without hot cross buns;

They keep for several days and then I split them into batches of 4 and freeze them as a treat over the next few weeks

Our village church was looking splendid with it's floral arrangements for Easter, all done by local ladies. They are organising a Flower festival again for the summer and it's a real village affair with lots of us growing flowers from seed for the occasion.

Just a few daffodils in pots belie the amazing displays within!

Now for a bit of crafting. I haven't been knitting because my fingers have been incredibly sore as all the pruning and weeding has played havoc with my arthritis. I'm not complaining, it's just the way it is and so I adapt my activities accordingly. I can still sew and crochet without pain so all is not lost.

On the crochet front I've just started the Frida's Flower Blanket CAL but using my own selection of colours from my stash of Rowan cotton glace. There's nothing much to show after the first instalment as they are just hexagons with a raised flower motif in the middle which then frame the main floral motifs (which look very pretty indeed). I'm going to use it as a throw for the back of one of the settees in the lounge which has been bleached by bright sunlight. My motifs are smaller than then given dimensions and I will wait until it's assembled to see if I want to add any more motifs to make it bigger.

Now for a journey into crazy patchwork. I am so excited by this and am resisting the urge to just get stuck into my main project idea until I've at least experimented a bit with some test pieces. First of all I took a Craftsy course which I listened to all the way through and now I'm going back over the bits of interest and having a go with some cotton fabrics.

For this I needed my sewing machine but it's one from the 1960s which my mum gave me when I was 18 and it weighs a ton and is really difficult to move around so I've shied away from using it over the last few years. Suddenly I remembered that we'd still got my mum's slightly more modern sewing machine from the 1980s so after much searching we found it looking rather dirty and dusty having been lurking in the attic for years. I gave it a good clean-up but found there were several parts missing. Luckily I was able to find replacements online and so I now have a machine which, although basic, is more than adequate for my purpose.

I have now taken over the dining table!

There are 4 pieces to make, using different techniques, and the first piece I made consisted of charted shapes with straight edges.

The fabrics I chose are all special in their own way - the pieces with small purple flowers on are from a length of dress fabric from the 1970's (the pale side is the right side but I also liked the wrong side with the dark background), the large white and purple flowers are from a blouse I made in the 1980s, the broidery anglaise piece is from an underskirt in the 1970s, the pinky purple shimmery fabric was from an evening dress I made around the year 2000, the green triangle with the white flower embroidered is from the dressing table set from my childhood and the other green fabric with texture is part of a rather tatty tablecloth from the 1930s which my mum used on the breakfast table when I was young.

A patch full of memories!

Once they were all joined together it was time for some fun. I'd already decided I wanted to experiment using embroidery in colours from within the fabric rather than contrast colours.

A selection of possible trimmings with which to embellish it

I found this brilliant book in a charity shop on a visit to Folkestone (I must write about that as it was interesting). It has some fabulous examples of crazy quilts.

I started slowly and tentatively, adding a few bits here and there

Laying out bits and bobs before making a decision

When I finished working on the seam treatments I decided to add a few beads

These 'Big Eye' beading needles are great for teeny-weeny beads but are quite flimsy so don't cope well with thick layers of fabric. They were fine for my purpose though.

Just adding a bit of random sparkle

This is just a couple of lengths of eyelash knitting yarn with I secured with a couched thread of lurex

Just a few more beads and I was finished

My piece was rather basic and plain but for a sample piece I didn't want to waste my time as I'd rather go to town on the final project piece!

The next sampler has some curved shapes for interest and I wasn't as keen on it to begin with but once I got started I began to enjoy it much more. I used exactly the same fabrics again but in a different placement and I'm being more experimental with my embellishments this time - and thoroughly enjoying it too.


It's interesting how you can transform the humble herringbone stitch into something completely different by weaving a different coloured thread through it (see below for detail).

I cut the butterfly from an old table mat and just appliqued it roughly - I'd be happy if the edges frayed. The flowers were cut from a length of braid and the buttons sewn in place with the addition of bugle and seed beads.

I find hand embroidery very absorbing and a great way to lose yourself when stuck inside on a cold wet day!

Right, time for a bit more embroidery methinks..........

Oh yes, I've got the small matter of 50 miles to run a week today so please can someone have a word with the weather and order me a day that is fine and bright, not too warm and with no wind. Thank you.


Lowcarb team member said...

Well reading about what you have been up to a 50 mile run will be a breeze ...!!!

I love dogwoods the colour is amazing.
Your photo's of Tilly made me smile
The church looks lovely with it's floral decorations.
Well done on the patchwork.

Now just find a few minutes to sit and enjoy a cuppa ...

Hope all your plans go well.
Take care

All the best Jan

Susie Hewer said...

Thanks Jan! x