Saturday 31 July 2010

One done, one to go...

I actually managed to finish one Babette cushion and it is brightening up my sofa as I type. 

I'm loving the back almost as much as the front, just as I did with this one.

There is something I find hugely satisfying about chunky treble crochet stripes.

I used some more buttons from my button jar for the closure - nice and chunky like the yarn.

I'm so glad this hasn't gone to waste, I have plans for the other 5 cushions on the sofa.  Oh yes.  Some more crochet and some quilted.  A plan!

Just need to finish off the other one now...

My mind is ticking over  with plans for a Babette-style quilt... more sleepless nights, I fear!

Friday 30 July 2010

If only...

One morning earlier this week, I took myself down the garden to check on Flossie (my black hen) when something bright and sparkly caught my eye... 

At first glimpse, it looked as though somebody had dropped a pocketful of diamonds on my step...

But no, it was just some raindrops left in amongst a spider web and dry leaves in the corner...

...oh, well...

Thursday 29 July 2010


I took 2 of my nieces to Whipsnade today.  I never turn down an opportunity to visit the zoo, as you know!

Needless to say, I'm shattered but just wanted to share a few photos of our day.  What's not to love about ring-tailed lemurs?

This one looks like he's thinking about important stuff (like dinner time!)

And this one wanted to make sure his very impressive tail was in tiptop condition as there was woman with a camera about a foot away!

We loved the way that they like to sit in a line, with their arms and tails wrapped around each other.

We also loved the way these 2 hippos opened their mouths for a drink from the hose that the keeper was using to clean out their paddock!

I hope I never grow tired of visiting the zoo.  The animals continue to fascinate me just as they have since I was a child and wanted to be a zoo-keeper when I grew up...

Wednesday 28 July 2010

The Wall...

Thank you for all your sweet comments yesterday, they were truly appreciated.


Today something arrived in the post that has cheered me up no end.  I have a date in my diary for next year to go and watch Roger Waters perform The Wall at the O2 and I can't wait.  I bought the tickets a while ago and wasn't really expecting to get them until a few weeks before the event.

I love Pink Floyd and was lucky enough to see them at Earls Court about 15 or 16 years ago.  Roger Waters was no longer with them, so this will complete my Pink Floyd experience.  My favourite song of all time is Comfortably Numb which comes from The Wall.  Whenever I mention my love of Pink Floyd, most people say "what? Another Brick in the Wall?" which is, for me, the worst song ever from them.  I would consider that I have a pretty diverse taste in music but I have remained loyal, and still listen to regularly, Pink Floyd.  Roger Waters has made some brilliant solo albums too, which feature on my most played list on my iPod.

Tuesday 27 July 2010


I spent a wakeful night worrying about Lily - looking up the links and suggestions that Lucy had left me in the comments.  I came down this morning and prepared a bowl of live yogurt and olive oil as I was convinced she was crop bound.

Unfortunately, when I went down to her early this morning, she had died in the night.  She was in the nest box and Flossie was worrying at the door.

I'm feeling guilty that I didn't spot anything earlier but I'm hoping that she didn't suffer.  Flossie seems to be quite happy going about her business at the moment, although she hasn't laid yet today.  I guess I should think about replacing Lily as I don't think hens are solitary creatures.

Monday 26 July 2010


... because Lily, my friendly red hen, is not her self.  I have read up and am not sure whether she is broody or sitting or unwell.  I coaxed her out of the hen house this afternoon and gave her a tray of water as she didn't seem to want to reach into the water bowl.  Then she lay down again and after a few minutes went back inside.  When I was holding her, she seemed really light but she doesn't look any different.

Any ideas from fellow chicken keepers?

Sunday 25 July 2010


I've noticed that when I post at the weekends, the topic is invariable food.

Today I made foccacia from the Ottolenghi book and it was good.  Very good.  I would even go as far as saying, it looked just like the foccacia in Ottolenghi.  It takes around 4 hours to make with all the rising times but other than that, it is ridiculously easy.  I topped mine with some sun-roasted tomatoes that were left-over in the fridge.  More tasty summer food!  I will most definitely be making this again.  And again...

(I can't find the recipe online to share unfortunately.)

Saturday 24 July 2010

Broad beans...

Yesterday I got, amongst other things, broad beans in my vegetable box.  I have had them a couple of times this year already and I have been trying to find the most successful way to use them.  For some reason, I don't really like them on their own as a vegetable on my dinner plate. 

I tried a Jamie Oliver bruschetta thing, but wasn't sure about that so today I have podded them  - a job that I find hugely satisfying.  I love the way the beans are nestled in their velvety pods, it almost seems mean to disturb them.

It is one of those little tasks that you can while away the time doing, allowing your mind to drift into daydreams of other things...

Then I cooked them for 5 minutes in some salted boiling water until just tender then immediately ran them under cold water to stop them from cooking further.  I definitely think it is worth then spending a few minutes more popping them from their skins to enjoy the full flavour.

I am going to make a salad with these - adding some crunchy radish and orange pepper, some mint and coriander,  together with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and some lemon juice.  It is my turn for the family lunch tomorrow so I can see whether or not this is the way forward with broad beans.

How do you like yours?

Friday 23 July 2010


In the spring I sowed two lots of sweet peas - a lovely, deep wine colour, called Beaujolais Burgundy - and planned to do a little experiment.

When the seedlings were about 4" high, I pinched out the middle of one lot and left the others to do their thing.

This is the tub of unpinched-out sweet peas:

And this is the tub of pinched-out sweet peas.  A clear winner, I think!  These plants are so much more robust, with bigger leaves and loads more flowers to come.

Last year, after experimenting again, I came to the conclusion that sowing them in the autumn or the spring didn't really seem to make much difference.  So now I know!

Thursday 22 July 2010

Change of plan...

So, last year I embarked on my biggest crochet project to date.  A Babette Blanket.

As is always the case, I seem to get fixated on a yarn and a pattern and then try and bring them together in the hope that things work out.

This mixture didn't.  I started off enthusiastically, but the bigger the blanket grew, the heavier it became.  And I mean heavy!  So it all got neatly tucked into a basket and slowly became forgotten about.  Then, a few weeks ago, the guilt of having such a lot of yarn potentially going to waste got the better of me and so I refreshed my memory with what I had done so far and as I was laying out all my blocks on the sofa it struck me that this one was the exact size of the big cushions on the sofa!  It was a light bulb moment.  I started to rehash the other blocks (on my Dad's hospital bed!) to make a pair of cushion fronts.

Over the last few weeks, in between quilting, gardening and taking parents out on day trips, I have been crocheting the back of the first cushion using the remainder of the yarn.  I still love the back of the granny square cushion I made No2 last year so that's the path I have been going down for the first one.  But have a slightly different plan for the second one, which is yet to be started.

My plan for the weekend is to get the first one finished and let the big sofa revamp begin!

Wednesday 21 July 2010


This is the finished quilt on the deck...

...hanging on the pergola...

...folded up on the chair!

It was a special commission and I really hope I have interpreted it satisfactorily. 

I used an Ikea fabric for the back - it was something completely unplanned but I had a moment of quilting serendipity while in there with a friend who was choosing some cushions.  I love that! 

The reason I used the Finca threads to do some of the hand-quilting was so it would add some colour to the back of the quilt and I'm really pleased how it turned out.

The quilt pattern is Canasta from Oh, Fransson!  I love Elizabeth's quilts and this is the first time I have used one of her patterns.  It was extremely well written and easy to follow.  This is the Natural Canasta pattern although I decided not to use any solids as suggested in the pattern (can you believe, I'm yet to use a solid in a quilt?) because I had selected the fabrics way before I decided on the pattern.  I still love using lots and lots of different fabrics from all over the place and pulling them together cohesively (hopefully!).  I did make a concession and use some solid red for part of the binding.

I don't think grey has ever really featured heavily in anything I've made before either and I love the way it sits with all the other colours effortlessly.  I used a grey thread for the main hand-quilting.

I fussy cut the dragonfly for the block above so that Mary will remember who made it!  You might remember me posting about finding the perfect fabric for this project a while ago.

Yes, this quilt is going to Australia.  The Blue Mountains, to be precise.  You see, Mary and I struck a deal.  She has always paid me such wonderful compliments on my previous quilts that I felt I would really like to make her one.  I have always loved her photography and so we have entered into a swap.  12 months, one quilt for a photo a month!  Done!

I am now the lucky owner of some stunning photographs which I have been framing and looking for inspiration to find a way to hang them in my living room.  I'm thinking something like this, perhaps.  I am exercising every ounce of patience I possess to wait until our 12 months is up and not be tempted to make a start because I just know I will want to swap things about!

Mary, I do hope you like it!  It will be on its way to you soon.  And I'm sorry for the relentless teasing ; )

Tuesday 20 July 2010


My Internet connection is playing up so I will make this a quick post to show you how I used the Finca threads that I raved about yesterday.

I managed to get some photos of the finished quilt today but not the time to write a proper post about it!

Never mind...  all will be revealed soon...

Monday 19 July 2010


It has been quiet on the quilting front on this blog for a while, but that's not to say I have been otherwise engaged.

There have been snippets and today I will tease you with another: Precensia Finca Perle Thread. No8 is a medium weight and is perfect for hand-quilting.

I have just finished a special quilt and have used these divine threads to do some of the hand-quilting.  I have used them before for some tiny, tiny crochet but never for actually sewing with.

As ever, choosing the colours was the best bit for me.  I bought some online from here and selected the last couple of colours needed when I snuck in to Tikki Patchwork when I went to Kew.

If I can find a still moment in the day tomorrow, I will try and get some decent photographs of the finished quilt before it goes on its journey.  And it is quite a journey.

Sunday 18 July 2010


It is no secret that I love the zoo.  I went again last week and I saw someone who I'd not seen before.  Maybe I had spotted him asleep right over in the back of his enclosure, but certainly not close and definitely not moving around!  Perhaps it was because it was late in the day.  In fact, there were two pygmy hippos out and about - one of them even had a swim.

I just love his name!

Saturday 17 July 2010


From this hairy bud, overnight as if by magic, comes this breathtaking flower.

Friday 16 July 2010


It's amazing what a little box of dye can do.  This year I have dyed all my garden furniture cushion covers.  They were originally natural colour, but over the last eight years of eating in the garden they had become quite mucky in spite of being washed.  So, I dyed them!  The seat cushions are now dark brown and having got the dying bug, I then dyed the fabric on an even older set of directors chairs that I sometimes use as extra seats.  In my excitement, I forgot to take before photos but I am so pleased how they have turned out and they now have their own spot on the deck.


I hope the NaBloPoMo police don't notice that I missed a day yesterday...

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Tuesday 13 July 2010


My fabric addiction is showing no signs of letting up.  I have even started to forfeit other things just so I can buy more fabric.  It is serious. 

Here is some that I just had to have.

I've been watching from afar as this vibrant collection has been showing up around blogland and when Fabricworm made up a fat quarter bundle, it was the easiest way to buy it without having to decide which ones to get and which ones not to.  I have plans for some cushions to brighten up my sofa in the conservatory.

I had an email from Saints and Pinners letting me know that they had some of this hard-to-track-down Anna Maria Horner Pastry Line voile in stock.  I wasted no time in taking them up on their offer!

When your parcel is so polite, it makes it even harder to resist.

When I visited Kew last week, Mum and I managed to have a quick sneak in to Tikki Patchwork.  There I bought these shot cottons which I will use as the cushion backs for the Tufted Tweets above.

I also restocked up on some Carolyn Gavin Wild Thyme fabrics from Cia's Palette in the green and orange colourway.  I love this fabric, so it seemed a good idea to go for the cream and blue colourways too.

I have lots of ideas but desperately need to prioritise a few things first...