Saturday, 30 May 2009

Just in Time !

Here we are at the end of another month and another race to keep up with my own challenge of a ' finish a month'. This month though I have been naughty and finished a new-ish top rather than one of the UFOs that are hibernating in the cupboard!

Don't know if you remember this post and the very last quilt photo - well here's my version of it!

No pattern, just the photo and a couple of measurements provided by the very obliging exhibitor, but it has turned out as a nice quilt and quite a handy size at 4' 6" x 5' 4"! A change from my usual comfort zone , but so quick and easy it was a pleasure to make!

I was a little bit brave (!) and used a varigated orange/yellow thread to quilt it with a large stipple pattern and that turned out a lot better than I expected! I was a little worried how the yellows would be against the blues, but the overall effect is good, and I am really pleased with it!

I am still having some trouble 'turning corners' every now and then with a large stipple pattern, I either end up with a 'pointy' turn or manage to get a 'knot' on the back - ah well, practice, practice and more practice!!!!

I know I showed the clematis yesterday, but this morning there are even more flowers and they are huge!

There is a story behind this plant actually - it had been planted for a couple of years and
showed no signs whasoever of 'doing' anything - in fact, I thought it was dead, and had it in mind to dig it out and replace it ! Luckily it got overlooked & forgotten about when it came to clearing up time because for the last 4 years it has produced masses of these wonderful deep purple/blue flowers !!Just to finish, this morning's view from the bottom of the garden - just look how that maize is growing !!!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Another Week Gone!

Life at the moment seems a little like the words of a song, you know the one I mean ..........

' We're busy doing nothing, working the whole day through!',

........ not that I ever saw the original film (!) but my Mother loved to sing around the house when we were small and I have many 'snatches' of old songs in my memory which surface every now and then thanks to Mum !!

We have been at it non stop, but if I was asked to show and tell, I don't quite know what I'd come up with! The garden is taking a lot of my time just at the moment and it is really coming into its own at last, so maybe it'll soon be time to sit back and enjoy ! One thing that doesn't stop is the perpetual grass cutting and we've had some great 'grass growing weather' lately, torrential rain one day followed by glorious sunshine the next! The sun we'll keep, but I do wish the rain would go bother someone else for a few weeks!!

I have managed to get a lap size quilt finished, just a couple of inches of binding left to hand stitch tonight, and also a small journal quilt, but no photos yet, maybe tomorrow or over the weekend.As we're being promised a mini heatwave, I might be lucky and get some decent photos outside for a change! So... until I manage the quilty photos, these are some of the new arrivals in the garden this week - proof I think that summer must be lurking out there somewhere !!

The first roses

...clematis looking just like purple velvet !

A very early fuschia, obviously I missed picking out a couple of buds for it to be flowering so soon!

....and just to finish off, another bumble bee ! They just love the 'cushions' of scented geraniums we have around the garden!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Hidden Treasures

Since relocating to Brittany, we 've visited most of the Province, as well as many other parts of France, and Spain & Portugal - after all there isn't much point in living in this part of Europe without making the effort to see as much as we can of our surroundings! On our travels we've passed through so much lovely countryside it would be hard to pick a favourite area, but what is amazing is that we've failed to notice something practically on our doorstep!

Today is Ascension Thursday, a National Holiday here in France, everything is closed and the sun is shining so we decided to just take a little run out to get away from the building site our home has become lately !! Nothing too far away, just a little wander around the back roads to see what turned up, and maybe get a walk in en route .

What we found was this

Just minutes away from a main road that we 've used so often and only a 15 minutes from home, this lovely lake was nestling in a small valley , surrounded by magificent trees and we didn't know it was there!!

A line of oaks that must be very old given the girth of their trunks

Silver Birch & Copper Beech

fields of daisies......

...and bushes of Rhododendron

If you look closely at this next one , you may be able to see the bumble bee on the tip of the left hand blossom !!

There were just a couple of houses dotted around the area, but something to suit all tastes I think!

Tiny but perfectly formed and complete with its own bread oven - bet it's cosy on a winter's day - and who wouldn't be happy to live in this lakeside house !!!!

An unexpected, but thoroughly enjoyable afternoon !! Isn't it surprising what is hidden around those corners if we just take the time to make a little detour instead of rushing from A to B !!!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Stormy Weather

I can't believe that it's over a week since I last blogged - I know that time is supposed to pass quicker as you get older(! ) but this is now getting ridiculous !! What have I been doing all this time, well to be honest I don't really know !

We've had builders in all week working on the attic conversion and this seems to have throw us totally, not that we've been doing any of the work, but the fact that there are extra people going in and out has been more disruptive than I thought it would be !

The whole house is now shrouded in a film of fine white plaster dust, it is everywhere and all we seem to achieve with our daily cleaning efforts is to re-arrange it - we certainly ain't getting rid of it !!! Bad news is that this is just phase 1 so some way to go yet. I keep telling myself that it will be worth it eventually but I have to say that I am starting to doubt that mantra!!!

Sewing has been of the very minimum as I'm afraid that the dust is going to settle on my fabrics, so the door of my workroom has been kept shut! I have managed a little hand sewing and caught up at last with my Verandah Views BoMs. At the start of the year there was a plethera of lovely stitchery blocks to be found on various blogs and, as one does, I decided I wanted to try them all!! That hasn't been possible due to various other commitments ,so I've decided just to go with Verandah Views for the moment - this doesn't mean that I'm not avidly collecting all the others mind you !!! One other I would really like to find time for is Elephantz Shabby Roses (see button is on my side bar) so maybe that will be one to start whilst I am waiting for the June blocks!!

Our weather has been just unbelievable !! Just when you think that Spring may have settled, in come weather fronts like you can't imagine - torrential rain, thunder, hail and now the last 2 days the wind is just howling around the houses and so very cold !! The garden is in pieces, the cherry tree has been stripped of just about all the setting fruit, hanging basket have been going up and down almost as fast as the exchange rate (!) and window boxes taken down and put back under cover before they topple off the sills and land on someone's head ! However - there are a few survivors in spite of all this
Peonies trying desperately to stay upright!
Boule de Neige (Snowball)

a couple of Azealea

and finally the last of the Lilly of the Valley ! At the moment the weather system doesn't look to be changing a great deal, but I live in hope !!!!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Birthday Blues - Part 1

Not quite the birthday I had planned for today - it was to have been a day at the coast, but , unfortunately, it hasn't happened!! Our weather the last week or so has been rather changeable but in the main dry, and the last couple of days have been virtually summery with temperatures in the low 20s. Today however we are back in winter with howling winds and very heavy showers, so a day on the beach didn't seem like a good idea somehow !!

All is not lost however, there's a bottle of champagne cooling for this evening and tomorrow evening we'll be having a dozen or so friends over to help me celebrate again!

No pictures of the lovely Brittany coast I'm afraid, but I can show you my birthday present !

I have been considering a back-up machine for sometime now , as when the Bernina goes in for a service etc I am lost, so I took advantage of being in the UK last month and convinced DH he should buy this for me as an early birthday present !

It is a different animal to my Bernina, but I 've had lots of fun getting to know it and it has played nicely with me (so far!) . I decided that, instead of just trying it out on 'scraps' I would make a small quilt from scratch, reasoning that this way I would probably cover all the things I'd need to know before tackling anything bigger so, remember this book ? Well this is what I made from it

A small replica of the Pembroke chintz quilt c1820 and currently in the private collection of Jen Jones. You can see the original here in the bottom right hand corner! Mine is a lot smaller at only 26 inches square, but I think it is lovely ! I also got to be very brave and tried some motif quilting for the first time !

Now all I have to do is learn to do the same thing on my bigger quilts ! The hanging sleeve wasn't stitched down when this was taken, but it is finished now!!

Just in case you are wondering about the post title, watch this space as I have certainly got a Birthday Blues Part 2 to share very soon !

Monday, 4 May 2009

Changing Seasons

It must be some 6 weeks since we last walked on the Voie Vert,certainly it was well before we left for the UK and we've been back home a month ! These weeks seem to have rushed passed us in a blur of 'catch up' from our trip and trying to get the garden in some sort of order before the summer ! Yesterday , however, we decided that a little exercise was well overdue and in spite of it being a very grey, but dry, day off we went !

On our last visit, even though the day was bright enough, everything was still looking a bit bleak and very bare !

What a difference a few weeks makes !

Mother Nature has worked her magic yet again and turned the whole world into the most beautiful shades of green everywhere you look!!

You really have to keep looking very closely though because the magic doesn't stop with the treetops!!

An abundance of wild flowers on the banks, under trees and clinging to the rocky outcrops
turned our whole walk into a springtime wonderland! Even the river Yvel was no longer a raging torrent after the winter storms, but back to its normal sleepy self but getting more difficult to see through all the new growth!

Birdsong followed us all through our walk, the cheeky chirping of the chaffinch mixing with the crystal clear notes of the blackbird and to finish it off, we heard our first cuckoo !!

...and just to proove that it wasn't all in our imaginations, when we got home I even managed a (very poor!) snap of one of our first swallows! So not a lot of sunshine, but lots of brightness after all!!

Don't you just love the Spring !!!!!

Friday, 1 May 2009

April Finishes

Two finishes for April, a day late I know , but our weather has been so horrible all week - wet & cold with a couple of thunderstorms thrown in for good measure - that photos have been impossible!Today the sun is back, could this be a good sign for May , I certainly hope so as these grey days do absolutely nothing for my general health & temper :-)

Some dry weather would be very welcome for this coming week, as we have the builders in on Monday to start the attic conversion (one step nearer to a new workroom !)- and as it's my birthday at the end of next week too, it would be great to have at least one sunny day to make a well overdue visit to the coast!!

Finish No 1 is my first attempt at a Quilt As You Go stringy started from scratch in April - not sure if I am sold on this method but it was certainly a good way to use up a lot of those 'what was I thinking about' fabrics ! Bright and cheerful though, and I am sure it will be put to good use out in the garden on those chilly summer evenings !

Finish No 2 is a Quiltville pattern from my UFO list, although somewhat smaller than Bonnie's coming out at approx 4ft 6ins x 5ft 6ins. This is about as big as I can manange to quilt at the moment, but I live in hope that one day.............!!

The border fabric colours haven't come out very well, which is a shame as it does have a very pretty floral pattern on it

This quilt is destined to be very well travelled as it has been promised to our DS & DIL to join their new 'baby' - a recently (lovingly!) restored VW camper van !

The picture was taken outside the 'old' part of our house which as you can see has local stone for the lower walls and and cob on the top, and look at our lovely rounded doorway! The window just above the camper roof is where my new work room will be in the old 'grenier' or attic - I can't wait for it all to happen!!!!

Just to finish, have you seen the lovely BoM that Jenny is giving away? Well, if you haven't then hurry along and have a look it is a stunner in my book !