Curtain Call

Creating the first bed in the garden could definitely be counted as a displacement activity. I needed a break from curtain sewing. I was enjoying making the curtains but I’ve never done such a long stretch. Four half length windows, all wide enough for each curtain to be a drop and a half, and a large french window.IMG_0703 It was taking me some time matching one of the fabrics to join the drops, it was certainly a challenge; seemed to go on for ever but now I can say very worthwhile.

It helped that only 3 of the pairs needed such careful matching (positive thinking). We had chosen two different fabrics for the two ends of the room. These pebbles for the living room end and stripes in the same IMG_0729 colours for the dining room end. The stripes were a doddle in comparison even though I did make sure the stripe sequence followed through. The uneven rows of the pebbly fabric are a bit of a challenge to my slightly obsessive ‘straight eye’ too!

Both fabrics are Laura Ashley, another local Welsh resource gone global. Expensive, but I do love the quality of their fabrics, it’s good and heavy linen and it hangs really beautifully. Never buying at full price and collecting points both help a bit.

I was measuring, pressing and mitring extremely carefully too so all in all progress was slow. I’ve been used to one or two pairs of curtains at a time not five! And what a lot of gathering – not my favourite job, I can’t say I’m ever totally happy with the result (the obsessive thing again).

We opted for rails rather than poles on all of the windows except the french window this time. I think I like poles better if you are reading this Jeff. I might find myself wanting to change the rails when we decorate the room. But for now I don’t find them unacceptable so the rails will be fine and I can always focus on the lovely chalk-white pole on the french window when I need to.

I do love the fabrics, both of them, and I’m pleased with the curtains and that they were finished before the nights started to really draw in. The colours are fresh and clean and keep the brightness in the room but it does feel cosy with the curtains drawn; blue isn’t necessarily cold. I’m going to change the cushion covers on the couches now, I’ve always thought them a bit stiff. I’ve bought a nice soft woollen Melin Tregwynt one in a lovely denim blue colourway and have ordered three more from TJ Davies in town. Melin Tregwynt is a fabulous Welsh Woollen Mill near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, their updated designs have been experiencing something of a revival since people have become more interested in local, quality hand crafted goods. I remember having a handbag in one of their really traditional designs back in the 60’s, it would be really cool to have it now.

I bought some fabric for the other cushions but I don’t think it’s got enough ‘pop’ to make it right. I’d like something with the blues but a dash of red to make it sing out. I have a few places to visit for my search. We picked up the cupboard’s sawn-in-half top and plinth from the joinery on Friday so the room is almost finished now. The last job is the largest and most expensive but I can’t wait until we get our wood burner fitted. Our builder called in today to talk about it so we are almost there. Off to Llandysul on Saturday to order it. Very exciting. Thinking about wood storage now – it’s a different world!

Gardening Rocks

IMG_3206Starting out on my new garden I’ve decided that the making of it definitely fits the bill for recording in my blog. I have a great blank canvas and I will certainly need to use every drop of creativity to make it into a garden. There are some challenges. The shape is not the easiest, with the plot being wide and open to the side and front of the house and going up hill to a point at the rear. I have found with the first bit of digging that planting will be more like quarryingIMG_3198 than gardening. This is just a portion of the four bucketfuls that came out of my first bed! The collection is sitting on top of the only original feature in the garden; a massive rock that  we couldn’t move if we wanted to – just as well we like the rock just where it is. Apparently when it was unearthed during the building it was an object of desire for many of the neighbours but fortunately for us the builder decided that it should stay right here on the plot of it’s origin. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to build a bed around it.

I’m not going to do much more for a while, we are going to attack the slope with a little digger, build a retaining wall and make our patio a bit bigger and have some steps going up the rest of the slope. But I couldn’t wait to make my mark and set about choosing some plants. The first one that caught my eye was a physocarpus and I really liked it.

Physocarpus
Physocarpus

The size I wanted cost about £14 in both of the nurseries I checked out but then the lovely Saturday morning plant man by the market hall had one and I bought it along with a smoke bush and some pretty orange geums all for £14. A bargain especially with a little cotoneaster and two other little unknown plants thrown in for free. Very pleasing! (In addition when I went to pick up my plants after shopping he had found my watch in amongst his plants. (I must fix the strap).

I worked for a while on taking the turf off my marked out shape but it was really tough going and I was really glad when Jeff came home and took over, even he couldn’t finish in one hit.  Once the turf was off on the following day I dug in 5 bags of lovely organic compost and placed out the plants. I really don’t want to lose anything I plant, I’m trying to choose wisely for the area and positions in the garden so I planted carefully with ‘fish, blood and bone’ and back filling with good compost. I had also bought miniature daffodils bulbs (I love them) and 3 varieties of allium.

A little sharp sand and checking the depth before planting the bulbs and then covering the whole bed with bark chippings.Image 12-10-2013 at 23.51

I’m very pleased with the bed, it looks a bit sparse at the moment but the planting is designed to fill out and have variety in heights. Looking forward to watching its progress.

Quilting together.

Time for some mother and daughter quilting.

Bethan’s visit came soon after she’d had a crafting session with some friends and as crafting and chatting go an interest in patchwork and quilting had emerged. So when Bethan came to check out the new house it was time to have a go. I really liked the idea of another mother and daughter sewing session, our last one was Bethan’s new curtains. This would be a lot less serious and it did turn out to be really good fun.

We had a week of evenings ahead with no TV or internet , we had a bit longer to wait for visits from BT and Sky; and we had no idea of the frustration that waiting for Sky was about to bring! Bethan had a basic square patchwork in mind but I thought I could pass on what I’ve already learnt about cutting and piecing and so we decided to reprise the ‘JuicyJelly’. Thanks go to Kate Higgens that I was able to pass this on.

So first a visit to my now local fabric shop, Aberdashery, to choose some fabrics. I love this part of the process, the project takes off from here. So many things come into play; mood on the day; something that has recently caught your eye; something you want to match up or complement, or just plain and simply an old favourite. You may go into the shop with something in mind but then an amazing fabric inspires you in and off you go in a completely different direction. What caught Bethan’s imagination on the day was a range of sunny yellows with a touch of grey and aqua teamed with a ditsy cream print to create a border.

We weren’t buying a charm pack and a jelly roll and decided that for a small quilt seven fat quarters should do it. The fabrics were a mixture of florals and spots with a lovely little yellow and grey paisley and an aqua, yellow and grey ladder print, oh yes there was a touch of pink in one of the florals that really made the colour scheme pop. We were very excited about starting and began the measuring and cutting of squares and strips that evening.

Bethan’s first job was to get to grips with the cutting tools.1st_position

We cut five inch squares and two and a half inch wide strips cut into five and nine inch strips. Each block was to be made up of one square and two five inch and two nine inch strips. The blocks came together really quickly, with Bethan learning the handy tips about chain piecing, and them we arranged them into a 4 x 6 arrangement.

IMG_0683We thought we had it sussed with all the rows and columns different , but somehow in the piecing process blocks magically moved around! Just as well random patterns work so well in patchwork. We were very happy with how the quilt top was beginning to look. We added a strip of the cream then set to on getting the ‘piano key’ border. This was made of randomly pieced two and a half inch squares of all the patterns. I was on cutting duty and Bethan on sewing. An arrangement that worked pretty well. We had to use some of the surplus squares to make up enough mini-squares but we had enough to complete the border.  A final strip of cream finished of the top to our satisfaction.

I had enough batting in my stock and a piece of white sheeting that was just fine for the back so next up was getting to know the walking foot while ‘stitching the ditch’ around the borders and around each of the squares.

We didn’t have enough fabric to make bias binding even if we had felt the need so we visited Aberdashery once more to buy yellow bias binding.

Here’s the finished article, pretty good for a first attempt I think.

Success and Bethan has well and truly caught the bug. That’s this year’s birthday present sorted!