Friday, 2 November 2012

Hibernation


This week we went away with my parents. We never really plan to spend every October half term together, it just happens that way because we're not quite organised enough to get ourselves together for a summer break with them. But this time of year is actually perfect for an English holiday - our expectations for sunshine are low and so we dress for warmth, brace ourselves for inclement weather and plan a delivery of wine, chocolate and other essential food items to be delivered soon after our arrival to allow for complete hibernation. Even though we often walked for miles each day, it really did feel like a hibernation holiday, with the nearest town eight miles away and no mobile phone signal (although there was wifi). Our days were punctuated by walking, a pub lunch, the making of a fire, the carving of a pumpkin or the watching of a film. The weather was a mixture of torrential rain and sudden bursts of sunshine lighting up the fields which together formed an undulating patchwork of green, breathtakingly lovely and different from the brow of each new hill we climbed.

 
My daughter unwittingly brought along a bug which had been circulating around her class before half-term, and which gradually spread around our holiday party, but it was a deliciously cosy setting in which to be ill and it meant that a different group of walkers set out each day, while a varying collection of patients were left curled up on sofas in front of the fire at home. On one day I stayed home to administer the paracetamol and managed several hours of hand sewing: true hardship. I sewed together some of the paper pieces from the finalised design which I'd been discussing over the last few posts. The pieces seen here will eventually form part of the inner ring of hearts, before the pattern radiates out to bigger-scale, more floral piecing. Yes, it's a slightly different pattern to the one which I showed you in the last post - it underwent one final change before I consulted friends on Instagram for a quick verdict on which I should cut the pieces for. This simpler design won.
 

In between packing our bags I put together what, in retrospect, amounts to several weeks' worth of paper pieces, wrapped and ready to be sewn. I love to see the chaos of the tiny pieces with a sense of the promise which they hold: knowing they will eventually transform into something ordered once joined together.
 
 
I am less enamoured by dealing with the centre point of each square where twelve seams intersect. Luckily the barn we stayed in was complete with a steam iron, which was a necessary companion in flattening the tails of the pieces into submission. As this piece is intended to be a framed wall hanging there is no need to worry over how it will be quilted or to think of bulky areas in a quilt: as long as it sits perfectly flat at the front then it's fine.


I have used a glue pen to secure the fabrics, rather than basting stitches. This worked better for the tiniest pieces. It also seemed the best option as I intend to leave the card in place so that there's no worry about it pulling out of shape while being framed. I also took along the Liberty quilt, which I continued to hand-quilt in the evening...having finished the quilting around the central medallion and between the tiny squares relatively quickly, I haven't even finished one of the four outer borders yet. I am berating myself for making the stitching so dense as I think I will be lucky to finish it by Christmas...possibly even Easter. I love how it looks, but it is moving at too slow a pace even for one who appreciates the joy in hand sewing pieces coming together at a snail's pace. I am tempted to unpick it and quilt it again using bands of stitching spaced further apart.

 
However, I love that there's now a holiday stitched into it as well as so many other things. Favourite memories from this week are: singing on the drive there and back to the holiday compilation CDs my husband had made; carving a pumpkin with the children; charging up the hill like a bull toward my father; hearing of how my little boy had cared for my daughter during the night when she first became ill; having human crab races across the large living area; seeing the children's glee at swinging on a rope swing found in the woods; watching from the window as my father took the children off for an early morning walk; lying in bed reading Monty Don's autobiography; adding logs to the wood burner while all the other adults were out (previously uncharted water as I'm not terribly confident with fire); seeing my mother reading to the children in the evening with them all piled into the bed; watching my father attempt to rescue my little boy from some mud which threatened to swallow him up like quicksand only for him to swing him round and deposit him barefooted in more mud, minus his wellingtons.
 
Finally, a realisation. I have always believed that living in less urban surroundings I would be the sort of creature who feels invigorated to go running. I have realised that I am not. I will happily run up a hill on a walk, but this week allowed me to pinpoint that I will not be a runner in any setting due to an intense dislike of putting on alternative footwear for exercise. Does anyone else suffer in this way? Or has anyone overcome such a dislike?
 
Florence x

23 comments:

  1. This blog post took me right back to a blissful snowy Christmas spent in an old house in the Lake District. Happy days.

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  2. Your piecing design has turned out beautifully! The larger pieces definitely allow your eyes to pause and rest whilst the small angular pieces tease your eyes to want to keep moving around amongst the warm tones. The varying shades also keep your eyes moving to go back and forth comparing the shades. You must be so pleased!!

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    1. I'm so pleased you think it works...it did take me a while to get to that point!

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  3. Sounds like a blissful holiday, despite the germs! Love your paper piecing.

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  4. It sounds as though you had a wonderful week, despite illness. And I'm with you on the running bit...

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  5. Sounds like you had a lovely family holiday, despite the bug... awful aren't they!

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    1. Horrid and so unexpected as my daughter is never ill (she was delighted though as she gets very edgy about missing any school, so from her point of view it was perfect timing).

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  6. Sounds like a lovely holiday. I am very lucky in that I live in a similar looking location all year round. I love remote locations :)
    I also love running (haven't done much this year due to an arthritis flare-up) but I really like changing into my running clothes and donning my much-loved running shoes. It makes me smile when I think of all the places they've run through!
    On a completely different note - you mentioned that you've been using a basting glue on your EPP pieces but have you discovered they joys of freezer paper? It's perfect for tiny fiddly pieces of applique or quilt pieces. I usually just use my regular iron but I believe there are teeny tiny little irons that could be used instead.

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    1. Urg, little bits of ageing like this happen so much earlier than I'd ever imagined - it's a horrible feeling to be limited in what you can do by a creaky body, isn't it.

      I have freezer paper in my drawer, but am yet to use it - can you tell me how it would help for the tiny pieces - is it fusible on both sides? x

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    2. Unfortunately, my arthritis isn't age related (I'm only 34) but my medication has calmed it down a lot!
      As regards the freezer paper, here is my method:
      Find an online source (or scan in) your particular shape. Print out however many you need (directly onto the dull side of the freezer paper) and then iron them onto your fabric (shiny side towards the wrong side of the fabric). Cut out your pieces, leaving however much seam allowance you require. I've found that this is a great way to do small pieces of patchwork or applique because your fabric is stuck to your paper and so you can get away with using a smaller seam allowance on those pieces. The 'stick' will eventually unstick but if this happens when you don't want it to, just re-iron it. When I'm doing turned edge applique, I leave a small gap so that I can pull the paper back out again once I've attached most of the applique to the other fabric. As you are doing a framed piece, you won't need to do this.
      I hope that makes sense!

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  7. I am completely in awe of your incredible patience in piecing together those tiny snippets. I am currently piecing together a felt gingerbread house applique for my little boy's Christmas stocking, and that's hard enough, even with simple shapes! Looking forward to seeing the finished article. Lovely to hear your favourite memories of the holiday too. The one where you described charging like a bull towards your father made me smile... we are never too old!

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    1. Thank you and congratulations on getting your stockings started so early!

      When my father read this post he said that he was miffed that I'd only remembered that he ended up planting his grandson in mud and not the hours he'd spent beinng 'the world's best goalkeeper' and having to climb a 'near vertical' slope to retrieve the ball over and over again while they played football. The bull wasn't mentioned!

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  8. Sounds like you had an amazing holiday, perfect for an October half term. The paper piecing looks beautiful, you must have lots of patience!

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    1. Only with certain things...I could never be so careful painting a wall or decorating a cake - it's funny how some skills just seem easier to persevere with for different people, isn't it.

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  9. What a gorgeous holiday! I love autumn (when I'm warm) and think that quiet non-frenetic stitching is the best holiday occupation. I find I can still natter and even watch tv while I'm EPPing. Please don't rip out your Liberty hand quilting. You're creating an heirloom - heirlooms take time! A lovely post as always x

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    1. That was just the comment I needed to make me continue. I know that I won't regret it afterwards. Thank you. x

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  10. Florence you have a wonderful blog that I shall now be following with pleasure. I found it via Folksy believe it or not.

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    1. Thank you! I'm so pleased you stopped to leave a comment. x

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  11. What a lovely holiday! I hope you guys are all feeling healthy now! I love the photos you shared-- what a gorgeous countryside!

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    1. It's beautiful, isn't it. It's how I remember England looking from the air after we flew home from living in Australia - so lush and green.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x