Saturday, 9 September 2017

A quiet Saturday

It's two  weeks since I had surgery and today I had to make a decision, was I up to a 9 mile walk? Now normally I'd have jumped at the activity but I think I may have finally discovered that I'm no longer 20 years old. I can hear cheers from my family but I feel it's only fair to warn them that the discovery will probably fade from my mind over time. Anyway back to the walk. Each year our church has a walk in aid of the Children's Society and today was the day. The walk is usually about 8 to 10 miles but there are usually points where you can cut out early if the distance is too great. I've done some of the previous walks but looking at the statistics, more often than not the walk has been very wet. Now I'm not adverse to walking in rain especially if I'm only walking 4 or 5 miles. Walking 9 miles in bad weather is a whole different game. The forecast for the day was very wet with thunder storms so Scamp and I made the decision to stay home. I had a few jobs I needed to do, a trip to the vet to pick up some food for Scamp and Picasso, go the post office and the pharmacist. Otherwise the day was my own.

I decided to get the chores done first so Scamp and I headed out to pick up the pet food. The company that make the food have a loyalty scheme. They give £5 off the first months supply and then the 6th purchase is free. When we got to the vet I realised I'd left the card at home so we had to go back and get it before I could get the food but it was worth it as this months supply was free. Next the post office, the pharmacist and a quick stop at a couple of shops in town to check out the new skirts and jumpers that had come in. I didn't find anything I wanted or needed in the shops but I enjoyed looking.

Next I got the machine out and made the next block for the Austen family album quilt. This makes 16 blocks completed.

I had to unpick a couple of the seams as the points just weren't working. I'm reasonably happy with them now. I had intended making a second block but it started to rain and there was some thunder. Scamp gets very nervous when it thunders so I had to spend time playing with him to calm him down. Picasso is totally different as he loves thunder and particularly enjoys sitting at the window watching the lightening.

Once the storm had passed Scamp settled down on my lap for a sleep so I made a start on Matilda, the September bag lady. I started with her coat but didn't get very far as Scamp was so warm and cuddly that I ended up asleep as well.

This is the 9th bag lady but so far I have only finished 3. 

Another 2 bag ladies are very near being finished and I think I may be able to get at least one of them done this month.

When John got home from the walk he told me they had only had rain for a few minutes over the day and otherwise they had sunshine. Seems Scamp and I would have missed the thunder storm if we had gone walking. 

Tomorrow I plan on cutting out the next two blocks for the Austen quilt but I'll leave the sewing until Monday. I want to sort my scraps a little as they are starting to get out of hand and if I have time I want to look at the instructions for my dolls house. The house was my Christmas present a couple of years ago but because we have been doing a lot of work on our house it is still in the box. it would be great to get it out and start work on it.

Please stay safe if you are in the areas of the hurricanes or bush fires.


Friday, 8 September 2017

Mariner's Compass Top

I'm feeling very pleased with myself today as I finished the Mariner's Compass top. John bought me this kit for my  2016 Christmas present 

The kit was featured in Today's Quilter and was the result of a collaboration between The Quilter's Guild of the British Isles and Marcus Fabrics. The Guild has built up a collection of antique and contemporary quilts from around the British Isles. One of the pieces in the collection, the Mariner's Compass Coverlet provided the inspiration for the quilt and the fabric range.

The Mariner's Coverlet was made by Mary Dennis who was a farmer's daughter. She made the coverlet before her marriage to Richard Cann in 1828.The quilt inspired a fabric line called Elizabeth's Dowry and Sally Ablett used it to design and make the compass quilt.

Today I finished the cornerstones and added the final borders. I lay it on my bed to take a photo since the rain had set in so no  chance of a photo outside.

I'm pleased with how this quilt has worked. there are a lot of points involved and whilst one or two of them are not completely accurate, the majority of them are. I was worried by the 80 flying geese needed but in the end even they went together easily. This top will now be put away for some time as I need to rest my right arm following surgery and build up my muscle strength slowly. I'm not to lift anything heavy for two to three months and with the size of this quilt once the quilt sandwich has been made it's going to be too heavy for me to handle easily.  

My other sewing today was to make another block for the Austen family album quilt. The block still needs to be trimmed but I'll do that once I've finished making them all.

I'm linking this post with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Work in Progress

If you have several projects in progress how do you decide which to work on at any point in time? Do you start something new and just leave your previous projects hanging or are you someone who works on projects for a specified time period and then switches to something else? Maybe the question should be why do we start a new project before finishing up the current one. I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about my projects and how I approach them over this year. When having chemotherapy I found some projects more relaxing and less tiring than others to work on. At times I couldn't work out how to put together complex blocks or follow knitting patterns, the effect of chemo brain. Then I may have felt unwell when i worked on a particular project so put it to one side. Add to that feeling generally tired which made me lose interest in working on any of my projects. In short there is a whole mountain of reasons why projects end up at the bottom of pile waiting to be worked on.

On Monday I decided I needed to get back to sewing and thought I'd just go through my various projects.  The first bag I pulled out had the blocks I'd made for the Austen family album quilt. I had forgotten about these 11 blocks and lay them out on my bed to see what they looked like. Over the day I made block 12. The blocks finish at 12 inches and generally make up quite quickly. There are 24 blocks to make and if I made one a day the top could be finished by October.  So today I decided to make a couple of blocks.

Unfortunately the colours are not showing as they do real life. Tomorrow I'm hoping to make two more blocks.

Yesterday I had my follow up appointment with my surgeon. The surgery cleared the bit of the cancer that was left with a wide margin of healthy normal tissue round it. The wound is healing nicely and I am feeling really well. I'm going to be having radiotherapy in October to help reduce the risk of re-occurrence. Yesterday evening we took a family trip to our local dosa restaurant to celebrate the success of my treatment to date and to enjoy a family evening before the next stage. My hair is also starting to regrow. I've had short baby soft hair for a while but it is now thickening up and starting to gain length. It needs to grow faster as the cooler weather leaves my head feeling really cold but I do love my fluffy head and prefer it to wearing my wig.

The other project I want to finish in the near future is my mariner's compass quilt. Here's the last photo I showed you.

Since then I have completed the flying geese blocks and attached two sides of this border. I need to make the cornerstones in order to add the other two sides. Once that is done there is just a final border to add to complete the top. There is no piecing involved in the final border but I do need to cut the strips for it. Following my surgery I am not allowed to lift anything heavy with my right arm so once the top is complete this project will be put away until after I have completed my radiotherapy at the very earliest. 

I've been watching the news about hurricane Irma and the destruction it has caused so far. My thoughts are with all of you affected and I pray you all stay safe.


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Kandersteg, Switzerland.

I said I'd tell you a bit about our trip to Kandersteg, Switzerland. The Scout county that covers some of the same area as our Guide county does an international trip roughly every 4 years. They invite Guides from our county to join them and for the last 5 trips I've gone to Kandersteg and Lucy has been on the last 4 trips. Kandersteg is in the Bernese Oberland and is located at 1200 metres above sea level. In the summer people go to Kandersteg for the walking it offers and in the winter the winter sports take over. It is surrounded by high mountains, with The Balmhorn being the highest at 3,698 metres (12,133 feet) Kandersteg itself is a village with approximately 1200 inhabitants. Tourism is its main trade as the scenery is spectacular. The Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC) is about a half hour walk from the village and this is where we were based. Our trip was under canvas for the 10 days but the centre does have some indoor accommodation. This is the main chalet on the site.

This second building was the main base for our expedition team and acted as a place where we could get tea and coffees plus fabulous cake and enjoy a few minutes adult time away from our youth members. It also had internet (limited) and leaders could recharge our phones which was vital as they were the emergency numbers for the girls and their parents. The girls loved having a mountain in the back garden!

KISC is the World Centre of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement and was started in 1923. Whilst there we encouraged our girls to go and meet scouts from as many countries as possible. The crew who work at the centre are also from around the world. This is Andrew looping up the rope following our Jacob's ladder activity. He is from Ghana and was very excited as one of our guides is from Ghana and she was the only person he had met from Ghana during the summer. On our last day he came to our camp site and gave the international scout scarf of Ghana to her which made her very happy.

We travelled to Switzerland on Tuesday 8th August, leaving Heathrow in rain and landing in Geneva in rain. When we finally arrived at the camp site we pitched our tents in rain. Rain was the on and off story of the first 3 days

We had a quiet day on the Wednesday so we could all get used to the altitude. The girls took part in a backwoods workshop and cooked dampers over open fires and built shelters whilst we confirmed our activities and got the campsite sorted how we wanted it. We took the girls into the village in the afternoon going the back route along the river and after this if they had free time they were able to go into the village without a leader so long as they went in small groups.

On Thursday it was still raining but we had overnight hikes booked. The older girls were going with Lucy and a mountain guide up to a mountain hut. Once there they were going to do some rock climbing on the mountain, sleep overnight in the hut and next day hike back to base via 3 valleys. They set off in fine spirits despite the rain but ended up hiking in snow. All groups were called off the mountain due to the bad weather but as they were nearer the hut than base they went on. They spent the night there with two groups of scouts before walking down the next day. No climbing or 3 valley hike.

They had the group duck mascot with them and posed next day before heading back. By then the snow had stopped and it was back to rain. Here's a photo of the hut.

Although they missed out on the climbing and main hike they learnt a lot about themselves and what they are capable of. One learnt that she doesn't like snow! The mountain leader said it was the hardest hike they had done because of the weather. Especially in August the snow here arrives very quickly but also melts quickly as the weather improves. Meanwhile John and I took the younger girls along the Gasternal valley to Seldon. We got very wet but didn't have any snow. Unfortunately I left my camera back at our base camp. By the time we all arrived back at camp on the Friday afternoon the rain had stopped and the sun appeared.

Saturday morning we had booked the Jacob's ladder.  Several of the girls made it to the top but I kept my feet firmly on the ground. From Saturday onward the weather improved and we enjoyed sunshine and high temperatures. We enjoyed watching the mountains appear from the clouds in the morning.

We all went on a trip into Bern during our second week. This is a beautiful old town

We came across giant painted Saint Bernard dogs across the city. This was part of their 2017 art exhibition and there were 102 dogs on display. I didn't see all of them but the ones I saw were fun and colourful

We spent some time at the Bear Garden. This is a large terraced enclosure for the bears of Bern. They were very obliging and wandered round and even took a swim so we could take photos. Then they settled down in the shade for a nap.

The bear garden is next to the river and we sat by the water to eat our lunch. The girls sat on the river bank cooling their feet in the water.  

Many of the old buildings had beautiful decorations on them

There were also a lot of fountains.

Lucy missed out on the trip to Bern as she had an essay she needed to finish. John and I enjoyed looking round the town and the cathedral and then found ourselves a good coffee shop. The girls were allowed to go off on their own so long as they stayed in small groups of no less than 3. The older girls headed to the shops to eye up Switzerland's latest fashions and to get themselves coffees.

We went on an evolving alps hike where we learnt how the alps had been formed. At first the girls thought this would be a bit too much like school but Belinda our guide, who was from France, soon had them enjoying the hike as she gave them fun activities to do every time we stopped. The hike took us to an open meadow area at the Hotel Waldhaus

There were a lot of waterfalls and this waterspout

At the Hotel Waldhaus we enjoyed a cup of Swiss hot chocolate here before we continued our hike. This is the last hotel in Switzerland that is not on the electricity grid. I love all the cow bells at the front of the hotel.

Outside was this cute carved owl

This was the inside of the dining room of the hotel. More bells on display.

Cows walking along the jousts. I love these carved cows.

In the corner was a large cut out figure of the owner's son who breeds and shows the cows that were enjoying the lush grass in the meadow around the hotel. 

I hope you enjoyed sharing these photo. The girls had a great time and we will be joining the expedition again in 4 years time.


Monday, 4 September 2017

Yipee I made a block

I had hoped to get my machine out at the weekend as I hadn't done any sewing since the beginning of August, before we went to Switzerland but in the end I had to wait until today. I had forgotten that on Saturday afternoon we were out at a church fundraiser and then we had an invitation to a barbecue in the evening. Sunday I did some hand stitching so the machine stayed off the table. I had some badges I'd planned to stitch to my camp blanket and I lay my blanket on the floor to see where I was going to put them. Along came Picasso.

Picasso had great fun fighting the blanket and hiding underneath it before he settled down for a nap. I felt guilty disturbing him but I needed to get the job done. In the end I only managed to stitch two badges on. The first badge had a plasticised backing and it was very difficult getting the needle through the fabric. i almost gave up and used the sewing machine. The second badge was soon sewn on but by then my fingers were hurting so I put it away for the day.

Today I hunted out the blocks I made for the Austen family album quilt. I found I'd made less than I thought, either that or I've lost some. I lay the eleven blocks I'd made on my bed as I don't have a design wall and Scamp and Picasso were busy playing in the living room so I couldn't easily use the floor.

The blocks finish at 12 inches and there should be 36 in total. With the one I've made today I have 12.

I now need to decide whether to make all of the 36 blocks and complete this quilt with sashing and a border or whether to use the blocks I've made and intersperse them with some embroidered blocks I want to stitch. Last year I found this pattern for an embroidered Pride and Prejudice quilt.

I'm thinking I might make two quilts. First make the blocks to finish the Austen family album quilt and then next year when I've finished all the bag ladies I could stitch this quilt. john likes the idea of the two quilts so that's probably what I will do. If I could piece one block a day the quilt would be done by the end of September. I should be able to manage one block a day but you never know until you give it a try.

Tomorrow John is teaching one of my classes. I know he has retired but this was arranged before then. Anyway I'm travelling with him and will be having a little shopping spree whilst he works. I need some essential sewing supplies, in particular some new blades for my rotary cutter and some new machine needles. We will also be able to have lunch together. The effort of getting up early and the travelling will also help me to decide whether I should go back to work next week or take another weeks sick leave.

Whilst I haven't been sewing I have got back into reading and in a little while I'm looking forward to curling up in bed to read the next chapter of my book. When I was a young teenager this was the best part of the day in my head. Say goodnight to my family and then use my imagination to bring the characters in the book I was reading alive. I learnt to limit myself to one chapter as I could read all night if it was an interesting story. I hadn't been reading much over the last couple of years and so I set myself a target of at least one book a month and so far I'm on target.

I will post about our Switzerland trip soon but some of the photos are on Lucy's phone and some in John's camera. I need to get them all in one place and then I can write the post.


Sunday, 3 September 2017

A slow Sunday.

Today started well with sun,but a fresh wind that made our walk around the common very pleasant. We didn't take Scamp as he's had 4 longish walks this week and he decided he didn't want to get out of his basket. Having checked he wasn't unwell we set out and found that without Scamp we picked up the pace which was a little challenging but left me feeling good. Scamp loves to sniff everything and say hello to other dogs which all takes time. Once home I ironed a few bits lifting the iron with my left arm as I'm not allowed to lift anything heavy with my right arm at present.  As the weather is changeable at the moment I wanted to be sure I had clothes suitable for all eventualities.

Apart from cooking dinner later the rest of the day is free so time to settle down for some slow stitching. I didn't get very far with last months bag lady but I'll catch up eventually. It's a new month and that means a new lady. This months lady is Mathilda. Arrgh still more polka dots.

This afternoon I'm going to spend a little time working on the piece of embroidery I recently rediscovered.

I want to stitch the two butterfly on the right hand side and finish the leaves across the bottom. Lucy and I also bought a few more badges (patches) whilst in Switzerland and I'd like to get mine sewn on my camp blanket. We're holding a Swiss evening for the parents when we restart for the new term and I want them sewn on by then.

I'm linking this post with Kathy for her Slow Sunday Stitching Pop over and see what everyone's been working on.


Friday, 1 September 2017

Catching up

It's been 4 weeks since I last wrote and during that time life has been busy with a trip to Switzerland and my surgery. There has been very little time for sewing but I have managed to do a little embroidery on Constance.

Switzerland was a fabulous experience as always. Over the ten days we had heavy rain, snow, thunder and lightening, large hail stones and absolutely glorious sunshine. The holiday was exhausting but we all had an amazing experience and I certainly came back home healthier than I went. We hiked up into the mountains and visited Bern to see the bears, paddled in a glacial lake, enjoyed lots of hot chocolate, tried to reach the top of Jacob's ladder, enjoyed a backwoods workshop and lots more. I'll do a separate post tomorrow with some photos from Switzerland.

Following Switzerland I had my surgery last week. As was always planned I had a flat mastectomy with clearance of the axillary lymph nodes. The surgery went very well and I stayed in hospital overnight going home early on Saturday morning. I've had hardly any pain, only needing Paracetamol occasionally, which was great as I'm a little bit of a wimp when it comes to pain. The drain came out today and I feel really well. I'm busy doing my arm exercises three times a day and trying to remember not to use my right arm to lift anything heavy. 

OK so I'm probably not resting as much as I should be but hay life's too short. Yesterday I had to make the choice to stay at home and rest or take a train to work for John's last day. Of course I hopped a train and went to his retirement do. It was during the party that we realised we had been working together for 31 years. That in addition to being married for over 34 years. Someone muttered about being a glutton for punishment! 

Several members of staff refer to John as a legend and among his presents was this apron, hat and mug.

Lots of photos were taken and our colleagues insisted on a photo of the pair of us.

I look a mess and I've got my redivac drain in my pocket but I'm pleased I went in for his retirement party. We finished the day by going out to dinner at our local pub.

As I said earlier I haven't done any sewing in the last 4 weeks except a little stitching on Constance. I took my stitching to Switzerland but it never came out of my bag. Last week I managed to make a start but I wanted to clear some work before I went on sick leave so I didn't get very far.

I am starting to wish there were less polka dots involved in these pieces. Maybe more strips would be a good option instead. Today being September 1st it's time to start on the next bag lady. Not sure who is this months lady but I'll sort that out tomorrow and hopefully have some time to get my machine out as well.

I'm linking this post with Barbara from Cat Patches for her Bag Ladies linky party.

I post some pictures from Switzerland tomorrow and I think I need to set myself a goal for September.