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I blame Amazon, all you are doing is checking if they have a book and putting it on your wishlist for future reference, a sewing book recommended by one of my new favourite blogs,  Did You Make That?

Then when you are updating your wishlist there is a little message that says, ‘get yourself a little something’ , and you think, ‘no Amazon I am being good’, as I have 27 books in the, ‘to be read pile’ , already.

But then you see that something you have had on your wishlist for ages has gone down to a ridiculously low price AND it is being sold by one of the charity book sellers and it is Easter and you don’t really like chocolate so no-one has bought you any so it is really an Easter present to yourself :-)

Anyway it is done and it is on its way and I could have worse vices than a small book addiction I suppose.

I have bought Flower Power Patchwork which was reviewed in one of my quilt mags a while ago, looks like it will be really good for using some of my beautiful Liberty fabric.

Flower Power Patchwork

It is a gorgeous weekend here and I am very much enjoying the sunshine, I replanted my hanging baskets yesterday and they are looking very pretty.

April flowers

I have also made very good progress with the re-knitting of the cuff for the #knit for winter mittens that I first blogged about a couple of days ago.

Knit for winter - Cuff knitting

It worked much better with the Debbie Bliss yarn and I have now picked up all of the stitches and am ready for the knitting in the round stuff.

It doesn’t seem to fit very well on the circular needles, seems to be a bit too small for me to actually knit with – maybe I am doing something wrong but think I need to use the DPNs instead, shall wait until knitting group on Tuesday for more advice.

Well must go now as the bin men have just been which means I can put the washing out for the first time this year – very exciting, my life is so rock and roll ;-)

Thanks for visiting and enjoy your sunshine if you are lucky enough to have some.

The focus of this challenge was a book with a great first line and I kept thinking of one of my all time favourites, Pride and Prejudice, ““It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Not knowing how I was going to beat that I pondered for a while then came across this in our  staff room book exchange.

Me and Mr Darcy looked like it might fit the bill and I loved the opening line, “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl in possession of her right mind must be in want of a decent man, there’s just one problem….”

Me and Mr Darcy

I have read Alexandra Potter’s books before and enjoyed them and after the last two wanted something a bit lighter to read. I have loved all the other ‘based on Pride and Prejudice’ adaptations such as Bridget Jones (not read the zombies one though, don’t like zombies!).

One of my favourite movies is the Bollywood version – Bride and Prejudice with the beautiful Aishwarya Rai which has some brilliant scenes with excellent dance music. Here is a link to one of my favourite dance scenes on You Tube.

Aishwarya-Rai

It was a great read and a realistic romantic novel if that makes sense, I liked the heroine and thought that the rest of the characters were well written, the way the Darcy and Elizabeth storyline was adapted was very clever as well. All in all an enjoyable read.

Am spending the rest of this weekend doing alterations on one of Ellie’s medieval dresses and finishing off more hexagon gifts (and expecting my lovely son home this afternoon!)

It is sunny Spring day, still chilly out but the crocuses and daffodils are in bloom here so it is very pretty. Borrowing Ted the dog to take for a little walk later as well.

Happy life! Hope you are all having a good time and thanks for visiting.

 

I am having a very, very lovely week so far. I have been sent on a writing retreat by work to finish part of my doctorate at a most gorgeous place, the Gladstone’s Library in the pretty village of Hawarden in North Wales.

Hawarden 13

Hawarden 14

There are lots of books – this morning I was working in this amazing place.

reading-rooms

And also not one but two castles just down the road (pictures in a minute) and a beautiful church with stained glass to die for.

The food is amazing and I am having a lovely time getting to know some of the new colleagues that have joined us at the University recently – there may be visits to the pub and wine involved in that bit :-)

I am feeling very relaxed and happy and making great progress with the writing (which is the whole point of being here!)

The library was set up by William Gladstone who was Prime Minister four times in the Victorian era and whose family home is this modern castle, sadly not open to the public.

It reminds me a lot of Boddelwyddan Castle  just along from here where we have been lucky enough to do a couple of events. It is quite possibly by the same architect.

hawarden new castle

But I did get to go for a walk in the parkland surrounding the old medieval castle which was very lovely, on a mild Spring day with lots of these gorgeous flowers everywhere – well we are in Wales!

Hawarden 2

Hawarden

I went for a little walk in the village as well past the old House of Correction and a lovely fountain.

Hawarden 3

Hawarden 4

Hawarden 5

The church, St Deniols, was very nice with an extensive old graveyard with some sad tales to be told from the gravestones of war and childhood death. And an amazing surprise inside, stained glass windows by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

Hawarden 6

Hawarden 7

Hawarden 8

Hawarden 9

Hawarden 10

Hawarden 11

Hawarden 12

I am seriously considering staying (not least because Ofsted are due at any minute!) but may have to go home soon so I can still fit in my jeans as there is lovely breakfast, lunch and tea plus morning coffee and afternoon, both of which may include cake – only to be polite of course.

In one of the corridors is a stitched piece by the local WI celebrating the village’s history.

Hawarden 15

Hawarden 16

Hawarden 17

However I do have Ellie’s velvet dress to alter for the start of the season at the end of April and a couple of other things to make so it will be (reluctantly) back to normality on Thursday.

Meanwhile I shall enjoy!

Hope you are all having a lovely week and thanks for visiting.

I am having a lovely week so far mainly working from home which was fortuitous as a long-awaited Amazon order arrived today and I was in to sign for it :-)

Hexalicious book

I ordered this title, The New Hexagon by Katja Marek, as I saw a review of it in one of my quilting magazines and am very excited. I love the fabric choices which make the front cover blocks look like one of those kaleidoscope toys I had as a kid.

Regular readers will know that I have a bit of a hexagon addiction going on at the moment and have done lots of things with ordinary hexagons.

I am now experimenting with diamonds making some little pin cushions and needlebook gifts and was looking for more things to do now that I am more confident with this English Paper Piecing lark!

I bought this other book below, Quilting on the Go by Jessica Alexandrakis,   for my Mum as a Mother’s Day present and it is a very good basic introduction to the craft with lots of useful templates and ideas for small and large projects.

Quilting on the Go

However I wanted something a bit more challenging for me, well just look at all this deliciousness ;-)

Hexalicious book 5

Hexalicious book 2

This is actually called the Hexalicious Wall Quilt hence the post title and I love the bright colours and the border fabric!

Hexalicious book 3

The patterns work equally well with more subtle fabric though as in this example.

Hexalicious book 4

So happy! Am taking this to knitting group tonight to share with my friends, I am sure Helen the premier quilter amongst us will be very impressed.

Right back to work now, coffee break over ;-)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

I am very much enjoying this challenge as it is making me get around to reading those things that I have always meant to read plus so many unexpected others.

I am doing it out of numerical order but have created a little list of books that I am intending to read and am highlighting them as I go – I do love a bit of organisation!

Number 10 on the challenge is ‘A book set somewhere you have always wanted to visit’ and this book fulfils that category and also another personal target of finishing a book you have been lent. I love how talking about books to people brings up such unexpected joys and this one was prompted by my finding of another book by this author in a charity shop this summer.

You may remember I went to Bridgnorth on the steam train with my friends in August and we had a wander round and went into a couple of charity shops, my favourite sort of shopping ever!

I am not keen on shopping generally, I like shopping for food, especially now there is just me to buy for and I have lots of time (shopping for food with small children is not so much fun!) However I cannot bear to waste time in malls or clothes shops, most of them seem overpriced and full of ugly clothes.

But show me a row of charity shops and my little heart leaps! There could be all sorts of joy just in one shop – a new top (39 floaty tops is not too much is it?), new books (to add to the 23 already waiting to be read) , vintage embroidery to add to the stash (well it won’t go off will it?)

And there is always the chance of a completely unexpected find, last year I got these beauties from one of the shops in the village at an amazing £25 for the pair.

candlesticks

They are my pride and joy in the living room candle collection (I have to keep a close eye on them as various friends really like them as well!)

Plus the pleasure of knowing that you are donating money to a very good cause rather than just some company’s profit, you are saving things from landfill, giving people’s hard work in stitching a new lease of life and a hundred other reasons why charity shopping is so much better than normal shopping.

Not to mention saving money – why pay £40 for one top when you could have 10  (that does explain the 39 in my wardrobe!)

I digress – on the trip to Bridgnorth I picked up ‘The Forty Rules of Love’  by Turkish author Elif Shafak, intrigued by the write up on the back and started reading it on the train home.

The Forty Rules of Love

It was one of those ‘can’t put down’ books that really makes you feel you have found something amazing and I had it my pile to pass on to my Mum as it is full of the most beautiful sayings based on the work of a Sufi mystic and poet Rumi.

I mentioned this book to one of my trainees this year and offered to lend it to him as he is interested in Rumi’s writings and then another trainee who is Turkish offered to lend me one of the author’s books, ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’.

The Bastard of Istanbul

I would love to visit Instanbul one day and so this book came to be included in my list. It is a very interesting read as it deal with the lives of a Turkish family in Instanbul and an Armenian family in the US so lots of insight into an area of history I know very little of.

It did not have much about Istanbul in it but was a very engaging story and I would like to read more by this author, her Amazon page is here if you are interested.

It was similar in some respects to book number 20 ‘A book everyone but you has read’, this one is , ‘A Thousand Splendid Sons’ by Khaled Hosseini, mentioned to me by lots of people and an international best seller.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Both books deal with the lives of women (and both are women who were born illegitimate) and this one was very, very thought provoking deal with some very harsh realities of life for the women of Afghanistan in the 1990s.

The sort of book that everyone should read because it gives another perspective to the all the things we see on the news and in dramas. Not an enjoyable read in many ways but a powerful story.

It also links into another of my life goals which is to visit every country that ends in ‘stan’. Stan means country or land  and there are currently seven,  Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Khazakstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, previously many of these were part of the Soviet Union.

These may not be on everyone’s holiday wish list as they are countries that are more often in the news for negative reasons but they hold such beauty and history and hopefully I will be able to start on this list soon. This is one of the reasons why, just look at the majesty of these mosque buildings in Registan which was the ancient city of Samarkand.

Uzbeiksitan

I am just finishing off the editing on the last of the goldwork pictures then will post those, meanwhile there is serious work to be done so had better get to that rather than dreaming of travels!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

I have just got back from a great week in Spain and have so many fab pictures of embroidery to sort out for you. I have of course been doing lots of reading and have completed Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel , the first one of my challenge. That was the book by an author I hadn’t read.

Wolf Hall pic

I enjoyed it but would probably have benefitted from not reading it late at night after work, even though I knew the storyline I still got confused at times as I was often too tired.

I enjoyed the alternative perspective to a story I know well and the sense from the book that he (Thomas Cromwell) as with all the other characters didn’t know how significant their actions and their period in history would be. I am looking forward to watching the TV series now and drooling over all the Tudor costume.

Book number 3 is one that I chose for its cover , this was One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner which was one of my charity shop purchases while in Spain.

I loved the photo on the front and while it does not really illustrate what the book is about is a lovely image and does reflect some of the content.

One moment One morning

It was one of those ‘moment in time’ books that fascinate me, the idea that a single thing can happen which changes lots of other things and it was a really thought-provoking story. I read it in a day it was that good and luckily I had a day to read – I love being on holiday :-)

Have also read another from the list and have started a 4th one, will post about those later along with all that wonderful embroidery!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

I love reading, it might even be more of a favourite thing to do than play with fabric and thread :-) Books are my constant companions and always have been, my childhood memories of the Saturday morning visits to the library every week and the joy that I found getting lost in the world of books have turned into an adult passion for reading.

It is the most wonderful thing to do and I am very bad at not resisting the temptation to buy them all the time, from Amazon, from charity shops, there is always room in this house for another book!

I came across this challenge while doing some blog catching up today – the original post is at this blog but I think I will join in and update my progress here and on the challenge Facebook page.

Here is the list of books.

26 Books

I think 26 in a year will be reasonable to do (given that on my holidays to Spain I can do 5 in a week!)

My first book will be one that I have just started – was thinking that this could have been number 2, ‘a book made into a movie’, but strictly speaking it is a TV series’, so this book will fulfil number 6, ‘ a book by an author you have not read before’.

Last year while on our National Trust holiday Kerry and I wanted to visit Montacute House but it was closed for the filming of a Hilary Mantel book , ‘Wolf Hall’, a novel about Thomas Cromwell. I love the Tudor period (would re-enact it if I had the time to make the costumes) so we promised ourselves we would look out for the TV series which started last week.

By coincidence there is a new charity book stall in my bus station – I was going to resist the temptation as I have so many books to read but didn’t and found a brand new copy of the book there. I decided to record the series and read the book first.

Number 1 on the challenge, ‘ a book you own but have never read’, will not be hard – I think I have 24 in my book stash at the moment!

Hope you might be inspired to join in, thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone and a very happy 2015, I know I am a bit late but this is my first post this year so I hope you all had a great time.

I have just finished reading a book called ‘A Different World’ by Mary Nichols , a very good story about World War 2 which is set partly in Warsaw so it was interesting to read about that side of the experiences of people under occupation.

It struck me that this was a good title for this week’s post as I am sitting here watching the snow fall in lovely Marsden and last weekend’s view was this from our picnic on the beach.

Spain New Year beach and boat

Spain New Year beach

Not that I mind the snow (as long as I can get to work on Monday) as what better excuse is there for sitting with a fleecy blanket, some good TV (Game of Thrones Season 3) and some more hexagons!

Ooh and Ellen has said I can have some of the Baileys she inadvertently left after Christmas so I might be making myself a sneaky hot chocolate later :-)

I had a lovely time as always in Spain and really enjoyed the time I spent with Mum. I helped her choose a new sewing machine and was showing her how to cut out her first bit of quilting.

We also had great excitement as we found the quilt shop in Alicante which is the nearest we could find to where Mum lives  (thank god for the miracles of the internet!).

The shop is called Patchwork and Quilting and we met the owner, a lovely lady called Ana Camara, who despite saying her English was not very good talked to us for about 20 minutes about her visits to England (one to the Festival of Quilts) and about all her shop.

Spain New Year  Quilt Shop 1

She runs workshops as well as sells fabric so if you are every in the area do go and visit. This is a link to a map  of the shop.

She has an excellent range of fabric and I was very pleased to find this yard of Robert Kaufman print which co-ordinates with the panel I bought from Harrogate.

Kaufman baubles

Kaufman baubles 2

I had a very relaxing time walking and cycling in the sunshine, admiring all the gardens and pretty flowers, this is one of my favourite gardens and gave me the inspiration for the cactus planting at my house (they are very tricky to weed though, lots of ouch!).

Spain New Year Cactus garden

Spain New Year Cactus garden 2

Spain New Year Cactus garden 3

And this poinsettia bush looked really good in contrast with the purple bougainvillea next to it.

Spain New Year Poinsettia bush

While we were in Alicante we came across this replica of a galleon which had amazing doors – I expect my pirate re-enactor friends would love to have trip out on this.

Spanish Galleon

Spain New Year Galleon 2

Spain New Year Galleon 3

Spain New Year Galleon 4

Spain New Year Galleon 5

Right will get back to watching the snow fall and piecing hexis – am working a baby quilt for one of Ellie’s friends at the moment with the scrap stash that I bought from Simply Solids.

Will do a full tutorial post when it is finished but here is a preview – how cute are those cars!

hexagons car print

Thanks for visiting!

Hope you all had a lovely day yesterday – just popped in to post a few pictures for you. Firstly of the sewing case I have made for my sister-in-law as a present, thankfully got this completed on Christmas Eve.

Xmas 2014 sewing case

Xmas 2014 sewing case 2

I have taken the pattern from a case that I got in a raffle at a quilt show a few years ago. It is a really useful little travelling case and was very simple to make. The fabric is from Simply Solids – both patterned and plain.

The case is 11 inches in length and 7 inches wide so I cut 2 pieces of fabric and made a quilted sandwich using some very thin wadding. I used my marking tool again to quilt large crosses three times along the length of the case to hold it together.

The pockets are the width of the case and about 3 inches tall. I have lined them as well with wadding and stitched them to the case backing to hide the seam (stitched wrong way then folded back and side seams stitched). I also did some top stitching with zig zag to stabilise the wadding and make it look pretty!

Xmas 2014 sewing case 4

Binding was then attached – machined to inside then folded and hand stitched to outside, I also made a little pin cushion out of the matching labels fabric I had. I have used a big plastic press stud to fasten it as they are nice and invisible when sewn with matching thread.

Xmas 2014 sewing case 3

My lovely children and friends got me some very nice crafty gifts for Christmas, first this quilt history book that I have had on my wish list for a while, ‘Pieced from Ellen’s Quilt’. I love reading about the women who made quilts and this uses Ellen’s letters to tell her story of life in Wisconsin in the 1850s.

Xmas 2014 presents

Then there was more fabric – Ellie seemed to think I already have enough fabric so was not expecting this (though I had hinted!) but she and Kerry bought me all this lovely stuff from Very Berry Fabrics.

Xmas 2014 buttons

Xmas 2014 fabric 1

Xmas 2014 fabric 2

Xmas 2014 fabric 3

How exciting and means that I have lots of lovely hexi making things to take away with me.I am off to Spain for 2 whole weeks in a couple of days so lots of time sitting on the terrace sewing, lucky me!

Have a lovely New Year and see you when I return.

You know when you promise yourself you are not going to buy any more fabric as you already have lots that you haven’t used (and haven’t touched for years) and you really, really mean to stick to that promise but then along comes a really special something so you have to buy it even though it is a bit naughty? Well that happened to me last week, was just buying some tickets for the Knitting and Stitching Show in November and was checking the list of exhibitors and happened to see one of our local fabric suppliers, Simply Solids, listed so just had to have a little look at their website and they had the most fabulous themed fabric and it was on sale! Quilt fabric - sewing patterns 1 I think this first one is going to be my favourite – though the others are fab as well. Quilt fabric - sewing patterns 2 Quilt fabric - sewing patterns 3 Quilt fabric - sewing patterns It arrived on Friday but did not have time to really appreciate it until I got back from the weekend. The other exciting thing is that she is opening a shop in town soon with classes and everything! That is probably going to a major dent in my budget but at least the kids will know what to get me for Christmas as I am sure she will do gift vouchers. The justification is that I am planning to make Christmas gifts so it can count as spends for that and not fabric spends, (I did have other stuff to make Christmas gifts with though – just have to use them up quick as well!) We usually go and have a little look in the National Trust second-hand book stalls when we visit properties and came away with a brilliant haul this time. As well as a big pile of fiction books they had just had a lot of quilting books donated so I bought these four. Quilt books NT The pink bordered title was published in 1937 and is a detailed study of the history of 19th century quilting and the front book gives lots of hand quilting patterns. My favourite one is this wonderfully titled publication from 1984 which is so detailed in the process of making a block quilt. It has all sorts of useful things like a sizing chart for different bed sizes, a block design page where you are encouraged to colour in sample blocks to see which look best and most useful of all are sets of card templates for all of the blocks. Quilt books NT 6 Quilt books NT 5 Quilt books NT 4 Quilt books NT 3 Quilt books NT 2 I have decided that I will concentrate on quilting and patchwork for a while (in between lots of kit making sessions). I will still be knitting socially but after 9 bunnies and 3 elephants am going to swap skills for a while and there is so much that I have been wanting to do quilt wise. Quilting and patchwork will be the focus of the Christmas presents this year (so that I can feed my hexagon addiction!) and I will be making sewing notion gifts, two more aprons and hopefully a cushion based on this wonderful quilt using found textiles which have been embellished with embroidery and beads. Vintage fabric bee quilt This is from a Bee Quilt Stitch along that I found on this blog – I think it is made by someone called Chantal, the site is in French so not too sure but there are some wonderful hexagon quilts on there done using the quilt as you go technique where each hexagon is made and bound before being stitched together. Isn’t it gorgeous and will be a great was of using up some of the vintage things I have bought over the last two years. So am going to be very busy and happy during the off-season! Take care and thanks for visiting.

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