Sunday, 23 August 2015

Retirement update

I have now been retired a little over a year and  am still not finding time to do all the stuff I thought I would. On reflection, that is not so bad as I seem to find plenty to do. Recently, with the nice summer weather, I have been sorting out the garden. I have repositioned the compost heap to allow installation of a second bin. We have been trying to install a seep hose to help water one side of the garden, it is dry and shady due to the large oak tree in next doors garden. This has not been entirely successful, so back to the drawing board. Despite the dryness and shade, I have managed to get things to grow there, by researching the right sort of plants for that type of location.

We had a large new shed erected at the end of June, with double the capacity of the two old sheds. It is racked out and filling up with stuff from the old sheds and the garage, and there is still room to get at stored stuff. Long may that last. The garage is to be knocked down before the end of September, to make way for a workshop for my husband. A workshop will allow him to keep all his tools in one place, and thus facilitate whiling away many happy hours without, 'having to get up in the loft' or 'go down to the garage'. So he assures me! Handily, it is to have an opening window at the end near the house, so he does not miss out on a cup of tea.

I am still doing the sporting stuff. I decided to take up golf this year, it is improving slowly. I really do need to play more, but struggle to find the time with everything else. My badminton has improved a bit too, as I play more often these days. The advantage of badminton is playing inside, light and weather are no problem.

Craft wise, I have attended two workshops, with Jennie Rayment and Mary Gamester. I have completed two panels as a result of Jennie's workshop and made a book cover from one of the transfer painted pieces from Mary's workshop. The book cover can be seen here Quilters of Sutton under the August 2015 post. I also made the items either side, the Lil Monster pencil case, a free pattern from Moda, and the Julia Gahagan mini quilt.

Hand dyed blue Sudoku panel JR workshop

Hand dyed purple Sudoku panel, birthday present for a friend.
I also bought Jennie's new book, Stitch Bits, and have made a bag and some robin bunting. My husband said the robins looked more like bats, so I told him he had very little imagination. But it does make for a variation on the theme, so I may have to have a go at bats.

JR tote, expandable and quick to make

Robin or bat!
I have also been making Project Linus quilts, one from a jelly roll made to a pattern by Barbara Chainey and Chris Frances, and two from some of my husbands old cotton shirts. All were backed with fleece, making them washable and cosy.

One 20 strip jelly roll, plus borders and spotted binding.
Husbands old shirts made two masculine quilts.
I also made various bits and pieces for fundraising, some for my local group Quilters of Sutton and some for Region 2 of the Quilters Guild, who are holding a Quilting exhibition as part of the Handmade and Homegrown Festival at Hever castle September 11th - 13th. Why not come along and and try to win an owl related item in the Tomb-owl-a. It is a good family day out.

A selection of my fundraising items.

Cat panel tote bag

Pouch bag from orphan blocks

Runner from 5 inch charm squares

Wall hanging. UFO - finished for fundraising

A parliament of owls for the Tomb-owl-a, made from Jan Alston's pattern.
I had a go at making the owl pattern much bigger. These two larger owls were made as doorstops, one for me and one as a present.

Large owls with a bag of pebbles to weight them = doorstops
I have also made three crochet blankets for myself as well as one cot blanket for charity, with another charity blanket in progress. I have decided to finish a knitted cardigan I started about 15 years ago! It was a nice pattern, but after unpicking the sleeves three times as a result of  dropped stitches in the lace panel, I have decided to make the sleeves plain.They are coming along much quicker, and it should still fit. I also made a mini quilt from a Julia Gahagan pattern. There could be loads more but I think this is enough, except for one more picture of the dyeing I have been doing this weekend.

Tray dyed sample - magenta, turquoise, lemon yellow
I do have an idea for a quilt from this series of dyed fabrics. The series consists of primary and secondary colours with space dyed multi coloured pieces. Some will require over dying and I may decide to print on some of them. The quilt pattern I have in mind, requires the use of an acrylic template, can I justify the cost?

For those followers who may not have seen some of these projects in the flesh, I will bring them to the next meeting.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Six months post retirement

I made a list of projects to finish once I was retired from full time employment, it was by no means exhaustive. To date, I have only finished one Project Linus quilt and a bag, that was not even on the list! 

We were supposed to start work on my husbands workshop at the bottom of the garden during the summer. I cleared the two compost heaps, spreading the compost round the garden, and that was as far as it progressed. My husband has been busy with paid employment, so the workshop has gone on hold.

So what have I been doing?

I over-dyed the fabric for the Ferret workshop project, but have not restarted work on the quilt.

I made three Project Linus quilts, one from a panel I had been given a year ago, one from the left over backing of the group quilts I had been involved with, and a third from a Christmas panel, Liz, our regional coordinator, gave me when I handed in one of the other quilts. All these were backed with fleece, which makes them easy to wash and cuddly.

Winter scene quilt for Project Linus

Strip quilt for Project Linus

I finished a quilted bag I started for a friend in August 2013, she likes green, very nice bag with adjustable handle, adapted from a larger bag pattern I made at classes.

Nina's bag

I made two more crochet blankets and stitched together some knitted squares the crochet group had been given. These will go to Romanian orphanages by Christmas. I love this Attic24 pattern and am currently making another.

Ripple blanket for Roumania

I have also made a rainbow coloured bargello quilt, a second quilted bag and a crocheted Christmas wreath with lights. I started the wreath in 2013, by crocheting some holly, ivy, stars and hearts, finishing it off for Christmas 2014 with baubles, mistletoe, a robin and some knitted pine cones. I found the heart shaped wreath in Homebase and the mouldable LED lights in Wilkinson. I bought several sets of lights and added them to a quilted Christmas tree and a swag for the stairs. They look wonderful on your Christmas decorations. I have an, as yet, unused set, so will have to come up with a non Christmas project to use them in.   

Crochet wreath lights

As well as all this crafting, I have attended two workshops one with Paula Doyle and a second in Durham with Lillian Hedley. I was asked to give a workshop to the WI craft group who meet in Guildford, Surrey. That was great fun and involved quite a lot of preparation, as they had asked if I could supply kits for the projects. I also decided, it was an opportunity to rewrite the instructions I had made for the QoS group. I thought it would be a good idea to make some samples of the finished items as well as some of the work in progress. I made twice as many kits as I thought I needed, but only took a quarter of them home. Such an enthusiastic group and here is a sample of the results.

Surrey WI crafter's group
This goes some way to explain why I have not finished much on my list. I am not finding it hard to fill my time. I have also joined another badminton group, to play during the day once a week, I meet up with other retired colleagues for walking and I have been working on some projects for the quilting group I help organise. How did I ever find the time to go to work?

What I have been upto to since the last post

I have decided to retire from full time employment and concentrate on the more pleasurable things in life. These include our garden and my craft.

Our garden is an ever evolving project. Plants die and new ones take your fancy, either because I have read  about them, seen them or been given them. The next major project for the garden is to build my husband a workshop. This involves moving 2 compost bins and getting rid of two sheds to make room for it. I am currently digging out the compost bins and spreading the compost round the garden, it is lovely stuff and should do the planting no end of good. I may have to do a bit more weeding than usual, but retirement should allow me the time to keep on top of it. We have to lose the arbour and move some of the plants in the area. Well that's the summer months of retirement sorted, then it will be into the autumn/winter garden jobs. My colleagues seem to think I will have time to miss work!

Craft wise, I have not progressed any further with the Ferret workshop quilt, detailed in the previous post, I still need to over-dye the fabric with more yellow. I have however started loads of other stuff and rediscovered the joys of crochet with one waistcoat, a scarf and two bags, not to mention numerous flowers and several charity blankets. 

The crochet bag patterns come from Lucy, who lives in Skipton and publishes beautiful pictures of this area and the things she sees and makes on her blog, Attic24. Several of my crafting friends follow her blog and introduced it to me. It is inspirational and well worth a look.

The blankets I have been making are for a charity that sends them to Romanian orphanages. I got involved with this project through a quilting friend who also crochets.

I have been making items for the Hearts tombola at the Festival of Quilts, in August at the NEC, with my quilt group Quilters of Sutton. You can see our results at

At classes, I have been making a red, pink and white (with a bit of yellow and green) quilt, red is not my favourite colour but it looks lovely so maybe that no longer applies.

I have also made some cute zipped containers with CD's as stiffeners from a pattern I found on the internet. They are quite straight forward and give you a great opportunity to embellish them to suit the recipient. I have given a total of five as gifts and made one for myself. Unfortunately, the link for this pattern no longer seems to be available. 

Once I am retired I hope to get time to make more Project Linus quilts. It has also been suggested that I could run my own workshops, that is a little daunting but I can't rule it out.

For some reason I did not publish this post written in June 2014, probably because I wanted to add pictures.