Friday, 26 October 2012

Pro Euro

When we arrived back from Yorkshire at the weekend, I peered through the French windows in the kitchen to survey the back garden.  It's really a dismal scene of decay, shrouded by Autumn mists, and not in a pretty way.  However, I spotted afar, some pinky dots on the wooden rose arbour and was rewarded for venturing into the garden to find that some of the rose bushes had indeed sprung a few late season blooms.  Oh happy days.  Snippety snip.  It didn't stop there, as my home grown dahlias are still flowering away with abandon, too.

I love flowers, errrm you've probably noticed.  I always like to have a jug of flowers in the house, it seems nice to have something real and living inside(though I guess as they've been cut, they're actually dying, oh dear!)  It's an absolute treat, I think, to be able to step outside and armed with the kitchen scissors, snip away whatever takes your fancy to make a little posy to bring the outdoors inside.  I hadn't thought I'd still be able to do this so a happy girl I am.  In the Den, the dahlias in their clashing colours are taking centre stage.

I have so many dahlia blooms, that in the kitchen, (ah, my pride and joy), I have a couple of shaggy white-tipped red ones in a favourite old Bridport-market-bought milk bottle.  I'd never normally have flowers over here by my hob, ooh how fancy!

There's another whopping purple one on the island.  (The eagle eyed amongst you will note that the sad and empty cake stand has been replaced with an almost empty biscuit jar!)  It's a sad fact that taking photos for the blog is becoming more of a chore than a pleasure at this time of year, with the generally gloomy weather and dull  lighting conditions.  This photo testifies to that.  Ah well.

My absolute favourite rose, David Austin's Jubilee Celebration, is still flowering away and smells divine.  I can't think of another flower I'd rather have here, sitting prettily in their much-longed-for green milk glass (did you know that Re now have a concession in Liberty?  Swooooon.)

In case you were thinking life is all utopian around here, you should know that the other end of my delightful kitchen, being the room that is more usually our sitting room, is looking like this.

No element of the work we've had to have done here this year has been simple, nor has it gone to plan.  Work which should have taken twelve to fourteen weeks is now in its thirty-third week.  Dare I say that we are hopefully nearing the end and unfortunately, the almost-last job is to have the original floor in this room replaced because it was not capable of repair.  Similar, antique boards have been sourced so here's hoping for a good result.  Meanwhile, there's the constant banging of nails, sanding and so on and if you ever wondered what it looks like underneath a one hundred and forty year old floor...

It's not pretty!  It's also blooming freezing.

Let's escape.  Before we head off to the Den, I remembered there are more roses in the lounge.  They don't last long, you can see their petals dropping after a couple of days, but maybe that's why I appreciate them so much.

Upstairs, I decided it was time for a new project today.  The cold spell seems to have landed and I need another project to snuggle up under and hand quilt in front of the fire.  The furry friends agree.

I know that I have blogged about these fabrics before, they date from around the 1930s and emanate mainly from Europe, particularly France and Germany.  I had a "thing" for these when I discovered them a few years back and fought many a hard battle on eBay to grow this particular stash!

I have previously made some little lavender bags, covered coat hangers and several of these lovely Dresden plate cushion covers.  This one resides in my guest room.  The others went to Australia.  Quite a journey. 

This fabric was generally used for bedding.  Why oh why can one not buy bedding as delightful as this any more?  I have one entire pillowcase which I am finding I cannot cut up (all the other fabric is fat quarter-ish sized).

In truth, I did cut up another pillowcase but it had lots of rust stains so I was able to cut those out and salvage the rest.  The pillowcases are, of course, European-style, large and square with a buttoned closure.  I've never found these particularly practical myself, though pretty they undoubtedly are, and yield a lot of fabric.

So out came the rotary cutter, it's time to make a quilt just from these fabrics.  Some have a brushed feel and they are all a little faded and worn, and just deliciously soft and oh so pretty.

I'm only going to make a smallish lap quilt, nice and manageable, I wouldn't dare make a bed-sized one which the furry friends would instantly claim, and subsequently demolish, with their furry clawed adoration.  I figured on 5.5" cut squares, I want them to be quite small when finished, and thought I had maybe twenty different blue-toned fabrics so I'd cut three of each.  Yikes, several hours later, I have errm, quite a lot more than twenty blue-y designs!

I haven't even started on the pink and purple piles, though they in truth are far outnumbered by the blue.  I love this stage of a project, when after many hours of ironing and cutting, I am left with a neat pile of squares all ready to be easily sewn together.  That's my true love, the patch working.

The weekend beckons, as does tonight, a date with my better half, and Mr James Bond at the cinema.  Oh but I am far too excited!  Have a good one, whatever you do...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Perfick Pickering

Hello readers.  I hope this post finds you all tickety boo.  Here we are, all safely returned from our annual jaunt up North to the charming county of Yorkshire.  We were so looking forward to taking part in the "Railway in Wartime" event on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, once more from our base at the railway cottage in Pickering.

It was a week full of things we love: 

Dressing '40s style (and indeed shopping for 1940's goodies, that's my CC41 coat I'm wearing which I bought on the Saturday)...

Steam trains, of course...

Stunning scenery and picturesque country stations...

(You may recognise Goathland as "Aidensfield", the setting for the tv programme Heartbeat, and also from the Harry Potter films.)

Back to that '40s weekend then.  Folk were dressed in their forties finery.  This platform at Pickering Railway Station is reserved solely for re-enactors and those in period dress which makes for great people watching.

It was customarily cold and a little dull, weather-wise, so coats, hats and gloves were definitely the order of the day.

That naughty Munchkin was being evacuated again, too.

(Golly, this makes me realise how much he's grown; well, he was eleven last week!)

There's my dashing chap, home on leave!

We were not impressed with the changes made to the event this year; moving many of the stalls to the so called Pickering Showground (a muddy field) several miles out of town, the queues to get to which were horrendous (you also had to queue through this to carry on into the town, great planning, duh).  It had no atmosphere and was badly organised.  So they had room for more stalls.  Who needs stalls selling fudge and soaps at a 1940's event?  Mud and portaloos do not a fine vintage event make.  Please do like the Severn Valley Railway and hold this event over two weekends; more money for the local area and fewer crowds.  Grump over!  

What one can always rely on to be superb is the vintage tea room set up especially for the weekend but once a year above Reeds newsagent in the main street.  Run by Anne amidst her lovely gift shop, the cakes were customarily fantastic and the welcome unbeatable.  Add to this embroidered cloths, vintage floral china, Liberty print menus and flowers in golden syrup tins and you have the marvellous picture.

And what can we say about Anne's friendly helpers?  Well, I've never met friendlier folk and it makes me realise how darned miserable most Londoners are.  We miss you already!

Hmm, decisions, decisions...

Did I mention the proper tea pots and tea cosies?

The main street was busy with people all having a super time. It's such a picturesque little town anyway, the perfect setting to step back in time.

I always enjoy the old vans, one decorated as a mobile greengrocer and the other as a newsagent.  Those who take time to put on these displays really add to the authentic atmosphere of the event.  We certainly appreciate it.

It was over all too quickly, it always is.  How do you like our new chauffeur?  Think I'll take the train!

Whilst we're on the subject of Pickering and the 1940's, I'm going to tell you about our other trip to the nearby Eden Camp.  This year, we were determined to make a visit (not least because it would be good for the Munchkin who is studying WWII at school).  It promised to be a treat and did not disappoint.

Eden Camp opened in 1942 as a prisoner of war camp, initially housing Italians and later Germans.  It covers a large site and is mainly composed of huts.  It is extremely well preserved and now serves as a historic museum. 

Each hut had a display on a different theme, ranging from Hitler and Nazi Germany to the Home Front.  There were many wonderful original artefacts amongst the displays.  As usual, I was very interested in those relating to life for people at home during the war.  In this typical front room, the inhabitants are in their Morrison shelter, a bomb has hit and there is even a bed coming through the ceiling!  (It was difficult to take photos as the exhibits were behind chicken wire fencing.)

Ooh, look at that kitchen cabinet.  This room even had a tap with running water.  Here, a nurse is treating wounds sustained by the young girl during the bombing.

I think this is where I could have helped out during the war, making do and mending with parachute silk...

There were shops with the sort of goods in the windows that we now covet!

Always on the look out for a pretty fabric...

The other hut which really interested me recreated the prisoners' of war barracks.  It was a startling contrast how well treated were prisoners of war in this country as opposed to those in Germany and particularly Japan (there were displays about those too).  Many of the POWs were very skilled and produced great works of art and craft.

It was also interesting that quite a few wanted to remain after the war and went on to marry local girls.  There were lots of printed stories of real soldiers and prisoners throughout the camp which helped bring the museum alive.  Several POWs have revisited the camp now it is a museum and it was most interesting to read their recollections.

It was a really good museum and well worth a visit if you are in the area, cheap entry price, too.

Cheerio Yorkshire, thank you for making us so welcome, we miss you and look forward to returning.

(Sorry about the lack of links, just can't make them work.)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Latest Mission

Forties frocks, fair isle pullovers, seamed stockings, dashing RAF uniforms, evacuees, felt posies, foxy furs, coloured handled baskets.

Vintage thrifting, embroidered cloths, floral china, stripy shirts destined for patchwork, green metal tray, flower power linens.

Steam trains, fish 'n' chips, binding quilts, leafy walks, afternoon tea, friendly folk, greedy nut hatches, freezing nights, starry skies, coal fire burning.

Could return...

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A Furry Post

Result.  The door to the guest room has been left open.  Time to sneak inside while Mum's not looking.  Hey, what's this?

Fun!  It's like draughts for cats?  Or snakes and ladders... but without the snakes, thanks.

Eek, mum's coming...

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Laid Back Sunday

Today has been such a lovely day, warm and sunny with blue skies.  Mr HenHouse was toiling away at some D-I-Y and I had promised to take the football-mad Munchkin to the park (being a little fed up of his football connecting far too frequently with my flower beds and garden bench).  I was prepared and took along my latest project, wasting no time setting myself up on a park bench while the Munchkin tackled the zip wire.  Parks are very different from how they were in my day.

This quilt is fairly small at around 40" x 48" but that makes it super portable and ideal for hand quilting.  This is not something I do a lot of, as you know, but it seems particularly suited to this time of year when sitting down in front of the fire becomes much more of a reality.  As it is just narrower than the standard fabric width of 44", I decided to treat this quilt to a pretty backing of quilting weight cotton.  Usually, it is just too expensive to use this, at around £14 per metre now, requiring double widths.  I popped to Fabrics Galore on Friday, which I am lucky enough to have fairly local to me, and treated myself to this Liberty Lifestyle Fabric from Liberty's new quilting weight range.  Fabrics Galore carry the whole range and it is all yummy, but I particularly love this print.  (I think I will be buying more fat quarters from this range at Ally Pally next week.)

Sitting down is not a priority for the youngster!  He soon meets a boy of similar age and they start exploring and playing together like they have known each other for years.  I do so envy children that ability.

Lunch takes the unusual form of a 99.  Slummy mummy eat your heart out!

Good old Mr Whippy.  I was a little horrified to be asked if I wanted chocolate or strawberry sauce.  Since when did a 99 come with anything but red sauce?

That was soon polished off and whilst the Munchkin tackled the swings and slides, it was back to my quilt for me.  I have made a crocheted ripple cushion but one thing I haven't made is a ripple blanket, much as I adore them.  I know that would be a huge project, too huge for my arthritic wrists, so this week I thought I'd go for the fabric equivalent.  It is easy enough to execute, being made up of half square triangles.  I LOVE the fabrics and colours, some of my favourites, and I am also loving quilting it, utility style with perle cottons.  

It drew many interested glances from passers by and one young man, with his daughter in a pushchair, stopped to talk to me about it and offer some lovely compliments, even asking me if I sold quilts and could I make one for his daughter.  Obviously, I need to quilt in public places more often!

This one is a keeper.  It is going to be one of my favourites, I can tell...

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Catching Up

Hello readers, well time flies, it's true.  Since we last had a chat, all sorts of things have been going on.  May I thank those of you who took part in the "patchwork placemat debate".  It turns out that the decision was made for me as Vorey decided one would make an ideal cat bed.  Gee thanks!

You know, of late there's been an awful lot of bandying about of the "A" word.  Well I'm sorry, but I'm not ready to say goodbye to my favourite season just yet.  An hour or so ago, the sunshine peeped out from behind the clouds and I finally felt inspired to grab my camera and open the French windows for the first time in a few weeks and head outdoors.

I was rewarded to find that one of my dahlia plants had finally sprouted a flower.  This year, I planted up about ten dahlia tubers and I am so glad I did.  I plant them in large pots of compost first, to bring them on, I find the soil just doesn't warm up quickly enough otherwise, then I transplant them into the borders once they have a healthy amount of leaves.  This year they managed to out grow the bugs and have provided me with dozens of beautiful flowers at a time when most of my other pretty perennials and roses have ceased flowering.  This plant has taken ages to actually flower.  The foliage is fairly triffid-esque and the first flower is now suitably impressive.

Can you tell how large it is?  Well, it certainly has no trouble out running this saucer!

The saucer belongs to a delightful vintage tea set which I could not leave behind at a car boot sale, being only £4 and coming with a tale of belonging to a much beloved deceased's estate. Oh I'm a sucker for pretty china.

And in the background?  Do you remember a few weeks ago (or maybe it was months?  Golly) I showed you the patchwork quilt I had made with my favourite fabrics in my favourite shades of pink and turquoisey-green?  I had some of the squares left over from that quilt so I couldn't resist cutting some more and making version number two.

The sun decided to pop in and out, sigh, and I couldn't help noticing all the leaves and windfalls on the ground.  No, I will bring out my pretty quilt and pretend it's not that season beginning with an "A"!

Hmm, I spy a cosy bed over there, thinks Ginge.

Not on your life, furry face!  Let's get that quilt on the line.

So if you fancy a little cosiness in your life this Autumn (there, I said it!), you could head over to my blogshop where this pretty quilt awaits.  (Now rehomed.)

I'm hanging on to my dahlia though and now I'm off to get on with my latest quilt.  Thanks so much for reading today.