Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Better Late Than Never

Today was Son's birthday and so naturally I had to bake him a birthday cake. I'll leave you to work out how old he was but the way his face dropped when I suggested this morning that maybe he didn't need a birthday cake this year was priceless.

Today I finally started on the Jayne's Attic SAL 'Good Friends Count'. To say I'm way behind is an understatement, the final part (5) comes out this week and I've just completed Part 1.

I did it because it was an opportunity to try out new stitches and by and large it has worked out OK. There are to my knowledge at least 2 errors in it and I had to frog the whole of the top row but I'm pleased with it. At least the next two parts will be a lot easier as they are mostly cross stitch. I'm hoping to work on them tomorrow when the plumber arrives to disconnect the shower in the bathroom.

Husband has already done a lot of work in there, stripping the tiles and plaster, which was rotten where the water had got behind the grouting. With any luck I might actually get it finished before Christmas.

Monday, 29 September 2008

All Things Yellow

Yesterday I managed to fit in a couple of hours on Celtic Autumn. I finally took the plunge and started some of the stitches using the braid which is new to me. Not sure that I'm going to enjoy working with it as it seems very fiddly to use and it was for ever coming out of the needle. Maybe I should use a needle with a smaller eye but then threading the stuff which is difficult enough already would become even harder

Regardless of the trouble I had with the braid I'm finding this an easy piece to work on and still enjoying it. However I'm going to reluctantly put her aside for the rest of the week and do some work on the JA SAL that I have done nothing on yet.

Yesterday whilst I was killing a bit of time and following a link on the computer I finally found a good reason to stitch one of the Ink Circles designs. I quite like these designs but couldn't see the point of stitching one if I couldn't think of a home for it. Whilst I was on the Ink Circles website I came across one of the designs used as a footstool which is something I have wanted to do for ages.

I have decided I'm going to add the Cirque Des Triangles design to my wish list and I will probably do it on a dark, possibly black, linen with gold or orange thread, which means it will fit in with the colour of our settee. Its quite appropriate as if I doddle I tend to create patterns out of triangles so I think I will enjoy this far more than doing the circles.

A word of warning to anyone planning on buying an orange/reddy coloured 3 piece suite - DON'T. The suite was purchased by Husband before we lived together and as it was in far better condition than mine moved in with him. When we had the house extended and hence the living room decorated it took me months to find the right colours to go with it. The wall behind the settee looked like a display area for Dulux as I'd bought that many different colours and shades before we finally found the one that worked. If ever we sell the house and the new owners strip the walls they are going to be amazed at how many different coloured squares they will find on one wall. Actually thinking of that I wonder how many threads I will purchase before I find a shade that goes with the settee!!

I think I have also finally decided on which of two kits I would like for Christmas. As they retail at £70 plus each it has to be a Christmas present as even I can't justify spending that much on a cross stitch design everyday of the week. A few months back I fell in love with two Thea Governeur designs, one of St Petersburg and a Tutankhamen design as well.

I've been tossing around between the two but the St Petersburg one has won this round. Mind that doesn't mean that old Tut won't make it onto a birthday or Christmas list later on.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

A Little Bit of Stitching

At last I have managed to find some time to do some sewing. I have been able to sit down for an hour in the morning before work on Thursday and Friday and made some progress with Celtic Autumn.

As long as I stitch on her during the day I'm enjoying working on her. I did try stitching on her one evening a week or so ago and wasn't happy with what I did.

I have also made some progress with Love Songs but nothing worth taking a photo for. Hopefully I will make some progress on it this weekend so maybe there will be a picture or two on Monday.

I have given up on Lorna Doone, I just can't get into it and the print is so small it makes reading it last thing at night a real chore. Ruth Rendell's, Inspector Wexford novel 'Not In The Flesh' kept calling out to me, so I have caved in and started that which is much more enjoyable.

Fitness wise I did 70 lengths in the pool for the first time on Friday and my sessions at the gym are slowly getting longer and involving lifting more weights. At last I have also been able to do what I call my 'long program' at the gym. This one involves running on the treadmill whereas my 'short program' just involves walking on the treadmill at different gradients. They differ in other ways as well but that is the difference that had stopped me doing my long program since my ligament was injured. I have deliberately avoided my long program because of my ligament injury but on Thursday I did it for the first time in about 6 months with no ill-effect on my ligament.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A Lot of Driving and Not Much Stitching

It's Wednesday already and I haven't done any sewing for over a week. Time seems to be disappearing at the moment.

Last week I did manage to do some work on Celtic Autumn on Monday although I'm fast realising that I need to work on her during the day as I seem to make more mistakes working on linen at night. I haven't had time to pick her up this week but I might set some time aside to work on her tomorrow morning before work.

I have also done some more work on Love Songs although I had to frog a bit that I had done ages ago as I discovered a mistake, which didn't make me vary happy.

Daughter has returned to University which meant that Wednesday saw us making a trip to London and back and not getting home until 11:00 pm. We took her stuff down and she went on the train as we can't fit her in the car. We also had to pick up four boxes we had stored at a friends house over the summer. Of course we also had to take her shopping to stock up on food etc which was very expensive. It was a very, very long day.

On Thursday Husband decided he'd like to go camping for the weekend so we booked a campsite for Saturday night planned two walks and headed to the Lakes for the weekend. We left at 7:15am Saturday morning and returned at 10:30 pm Sunday night. I reached a significant milestone in my attempt to complete the Birketts (a list of 541 tops over 1000 feet in the Lake District) as I reached the half way point of 271 done, 270 to go, on the last top on the Sunday. The first summit of the weekend was not gained easily and my knees and shins are covered in bruises but we had a fun, if somewhat exhausting, weekend.

Having looked at my list of plans for the month I realise I'm going to fail miserably at most of them but maybe I'll let myself off as I did make the list before I started my new job. This weekend we have said we are having a quiet weekend at home so maybe I'll get to tackle some of the jobs in the garden then. I might even find some time to do some stitching.

Monday, 15 September 2008


So I was hoping for a weekend that involved a bit of sewing, gardening or even walking, instead I got a weekend with some sort of 24 hour bug and none of the above.

When I was swimming on Friday I thought it seemed much harder work than usual but put it down to being tired from not sleeping well. Saturday morning at the gym I thought I was starting with a cold as my chest felt tight and I was coughing a lot. By the time we were coming out of town after doing some shopping I was starting to feel more like collapsing than walking. By Saturday evening I was moaning about being cold despite being under a blanket on the settee and we had the heating on for an hour to warm me up. By Sunday evening I felt fine but I'd done very little of what I wanted to do over the weekend. What I had got done was some housework but no sewing, gardening or walking.

On a positive note I have made a small bit of progress with the planning of my neighbourhood. Friends who live in the Lake District have been kind enough to send me a picture of their cottage so as that I can use it in my neighbourhood. They have actually sent me several pictures so first of all I have to decide which to use and then convert it into a pattern I can stitch. It has also occurred to me that, unlike most things that I stitch, I'm going to want to keep this piece so I need to decide where it is going to live once it is finished, as that will determine its finished size and shape. I've also been thinking about the border, should it contain the name of my favourite fells, the names of the lakes, or the names of the villages in the Lake District. I think I'll know which of those it will be once I've got a better idea of the overall design in my head.

Seeing as it's Monday I'm off to spend a couple of hours working on Celtic Autumn before I go to work.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Where Has The Week Gone?

Firstly a big thank you to everyone who posted a congrats on the new job.

I've survived the first week at work which in actual fact was 3 days, or more accurately 3 afternoons. I have some idea of what I'm meant to be doing but I'm constantly getting lost using the computer systems I need to use. Thankfully the girl who is currently doing the job doesn't leave until next Thursday so I have a few more days of her rescuing me before I have to survive on my own. Needless to say it is very strange having to go to work after nearly 3 years of not doing so, which followed on from 2 years of working for myself. As my hours are 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm it also cuts right into the day and I seem to have got very little done at home. Did anyone besides me notice the difference I wonder!!

Last weekend was spent in the Lake District visiting friends, family and walking. We should have been camping but with the terrible forecast we abandoned camping in favour of a B & B. We only managed one walk, but as it was one that has been on my to do list for a long time it was great to do it.

For over two years now I have wanted to walk up the nose of Fleetwith Pike (above) and on Monday that's how we started out 7 mile walk that took in Haystacks as well. We didn't leave the pub in Buttermere until 6:30 pm and finally got home shortly after 10:15 pm.

Naturally neither child was in the house, although the evidence of the party they didn't have was. It was just as well it was re-cycling the next day as the glass container was already full, but they didn't have a party!!!

Although they had made some attempt at tidying up there was still plenty for me to do.

Why is it teenagers:

Can fill & run the dishwasher but not empty it.
Fill the bin to almost overflowing but not empty it.
Pile the recycling by the door but not actually take it outside.
Walk past the milk that has been delivered but not bring it inside.
Bring games consoles, DVD's etc downstairs but not take them upstairs again.

I could go on but I'm sure you get the idea.

Anyone with teenagers old enough for parties etc can probably add to it. Or maybe I'm just a complete failure as a parent. Although the conversation I had with my sister and her friends on Sunday night would suggest this is just normal behaviour.

So not only have I started work but I've been trying (and failing) to get my house back into some sort of order. This week I've also had to meet a deadline for a magazine I write walks for and attend a committee meeting for the Quiz League. Needless to say there has been very little time for sewing.

However yesterday I did spend a couple of hours on Love Songs. I also did some stitching on it last week so there is an update below.

Sadly I haven't yet started the JA Sal 'Good Friends Count' or the JA Monthly Finishing Challenge. I'm unlikely to get the second done now but I must get on with the SAL as I'm now two weeks behind.

I have also had two of the Little Women charts that I ordered come today.

I've only posted a picture of one, 'Reading' as the other is planned as a present for someone that I know reads my blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Like plenty of others I have signed onto the Me Myself and I Round Robin and finally decided what type of neighbourhood I'm going to do. For anyone who knows me it won't be a surprise that I've decided on a Lake District village now I just have to design it.

Working has one big advantage, money. I decided after one week (yes I know its only a few hours ) I deserved a reward. I gave into temptation and ordered two My Big Toe Design charts from Jaynes Attic. I have been resisting them since she first posted but today I crumbled and ordered the Quaker Seasons and the Give Me the Cookie charts.

The one major disadvantage of this job is that if I want to get fitter I now have to get up earlier as the only time I can realistically get to the gym or into the pool is first thing in the morning i.e. by 7:30 a.m. So far I have been good and made it to both the gym and into the pool but next week will be the real test.

I'm hoping for a quiet wekend with plenty of time for sewing, gardening and maybe even some walking but first I'd better clean the house before someone does notice it's a tip.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

Isn't it funny how life can change in a few minutes. OK sometimes that isn't for the better but this time it is.

I applied for a job yesterday when it appeared in our local paper, posted my CV in the afternoon, exchanged emails during the evening and at midnight and had an interview today. This evening I have just heard that I have got the job. I applied for an admin job but the position I'm being offered is less admin and more organising events which I'm really looking forward to. A few years ago Husband and I organised gigs as a hobby/business and because of that experience I got the job.

I can't believe how lucky I appear to have been with this job. It's local to me, is paying far more that I hoped for and they are prepared to let me be flexible so as that I can go walking during the week. I have been applying for various admin jobs for a while and whilst I was getting interviews I wasn't getting the job offers. Now I've finally landed a post that really interests me and is paying far more than any of the others were offering. I'm just grateful I got moving yesterday and sorted out my CV quickly.

Mind my chances of completing that list of targets for September has just decreased drastically but now I can afford to buy more stash.

Off to put some stitches in Love Songs in celebration.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Top Notch Service

I wasn't going to post today, as the only stitching I did yesterday was the back stitch on the piano of Love Songs, but the postman brought me goodies.

My orders from Country Designs and Thread Bear turned up today. I only placed the order with Country Designs (CD) yesterday afternoon so that really is excellent service.

I ended up ordering some Christmas Red Aida along with the Beatrix Potter chart and now I've seen it I'm so glad I did. I can definitely imagine one or two of my Christmas Cards being sewn on it instead of the green linen I'd bought for them. I also have a £5:00 voucher to spend at CD which will probably go towards a Lavender & Lace or Mirabella chart. I can't use it for the DMC threads, which it looks like I'll need more of for Love Songs. I may well order them from CD anyway as going to Bakewell just for threads is a ridiculous expense. I love the fact Thread Bear send their parcels wrapped in tissue paper and ribbon, which I then keep and add to my stash, it feels like I'm getting a free gift

Fitness wise, I've made my minimum two trips to the gym already this week and this morning I was back in the pool and quite surprised myself by managing 60 lengths after 3 weeks off. Even better I'm just back from one of my 6 monthly appointments at the doctors and I've lost weight since my last visit, not much, but some, which is nice.

Thanks for all the lovely comments on my recent posts.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Old & New Targets

When I set August's targets I thought they were quite ambitious. My biggest mistake in setting them was not taking into account the effect of the Olympics. As you can see I didn't do very well.

Get swim up to 60 lengths - 9th August
Get 1/3 of Love Songs finished - No 19 % done
Complete Jayne's Attic Monthly Challenge - No, stitching done but not finished
Make a pinkeep - No
Start Christmas cards - No
Read Lorna Doone - Started but finding it hard going although improving
Get website up-to-date - No one walk behind now, so an improvement
Fit in at least one 10+ mile walk - No
Attend the gym at least twice a week -

Never one to throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble here goes with a new set for September

Swim - Up to 70 lengths
Gym - Go at least twice a week
Walks - At least one a week
Walks - Build distance up to over 10 miles again
Website - Get & keep up to date
Reading - Finish Lorna Doone
Love Songs - 40% completed
Celtic Autumn SAL - Stitch on it at least once a week
Good Friend's Count SAL - Keep up to date on it.
Christmas Cards - Finish two
Greenhouse - Clear out & clean
Back Garden - Plant bulbs, remove buddleia, paint fence
Front Garden- Weed, plant up tubs for winter

That should keep me out of trouble. Especially when you take into consideration that we hope to get away on holiday twice this month and the Quiz League starts again soon, so as Treasurer I'll have accounts to sort out.

A New Start, Progress & Being Led Astray

Yesterday was the new start date for the Celtic Lady SAL and I spent the afternoon working on Celtic Autumn. As with all new starts there isn't a lot to see but I have started with her dress.

I'm very glad I didn't start with the border, which was my original plan, as I found out once I'd started stitching that I'd not got one thread which is needed for the border. It is now on order with Thread Bear which also led to me ordering a chart I simply love.

One reason for so little progress on Celtic Autumn is that I really wanted to get the cross stitch on the bottom part of the piano in Love Songs finished.

I spent the evening working on it and today it will be the back-stitch and onto a new part of the design. Mind I might find it hard not to pick up Celtic Autumn again.

At last we have started to get people coming round to quote for the different jobs on the bathroom no dates yet but at least progress of sorts is being made. I hope we can get it done for Christmas. The joiner, who is going to replace the floorboards for us, is a neighbour and cousin of Husband and his daughter is expecting a baby in 8 weeks. Now it just so happens that I have a nearly completed Beatrix Potter Birth Sampler sat in my study, so you know who's going to be getting that.

I started it years ago and all it needs is a bit of back stitch finishing and the name and date etc adding. I have lost the chart but thanks to the internet located a copy of it, so it will be on order later today from Country Designs, no doubt along with something else as well. If I'm going to spend £7.00 on the chart I might as well order something else to push my order over the £10 mark for another point towards my £5.00 voucher.

The lovely Redwitch also led me astray yesterday. She has been posting her finishes of the Little Women designs, which I love but haven't been able to find the charts for. She sent me the link to a company where I could order them from so I ordered my two favourites yesterday. To top it all of I gave in to temptation and joined one of the Stash Collectors Clubs at Jayne's Attic. After today the plastic is going back into my purse and collecting cobwebs for the rest of the month.

I've just had to stop halfway through this post to let the man read the electricity meter which means all three bills, gas, electric and phone will be landing on the doormat soon. I can't wait!! Daughter has also managed to miss the bus for work so guess who's going to have stop again to take her!!

I think it's going to be one of those days. Will I actually get any stitching done at all I'm beginning to wonder.

Monday, 1 September 2008

JA Monthly Challenge & Love Songs

With 16 days of watching the Olympics and a few days off for depression it will be no surprise that I didn't get the JA Monthly Challenge finished. I completed the stitching on Friday but I haven't yet had a chance to make it into the planned pin keep. I need to get to the local fabric shop and buy some material for the backing, a job I plan on doing later today. As the reveal day was Saturday I haven't posted any pictures of my progress but here it is below.

Day One - 5th August

Border Detail - 5th August

Day Two - 26th August

Letter Detail - 26th August

Hearts Detail - 26th August

Day Three - 27th August

Day Four - 29th August

Bird Detail - 29th August

As you can see it actually stitched up relatively quickly and if I hadn't got side-tracked I'd have easily have completed the whole thing. I'm hoping to make-up the pin-keep later this week.

On Friday I started on Love Songs again but ended up unpicking everything I did. It was just one of those times. I sat down to stitch for an hour before The Tudors and ended up knocking over a drink, getting knots in my thread and then just as I thought I'd finish for the evening I found a second knot at the back of my work. To get rid of it I ended up taking out everything I'd already stitched. Thankfully Saturday and Sunday were more successful and I'll soon have finished the bottom part of the piano.

Sunday had been set aside to do the Jayne's Attic Good Friends Count SAL but the first set of instructions never arrived and I'm still trying to find out what happened to them.

Today is the start of the Celtic Lady SAL so I'm definitely going to be working on that as I've been itching to start her. However I shall be good and go to the gym first as my fitness has suffered enough during the last few weeks. Thankfully as the scales proved I haven't actually gained any weight, instead I've just lost muscle tone, which is why I have felt so fat lately. Yesterday's trip to the gym also showed that, whilst I have lost some of my fitness, I'm not back to where I started from in July, which is good. Even better the rest has allowed my ankle to recover properly. Now if only the forecast would improve I might make it up Scafell Pike on Saturday.

Descent of the Black Clouds

Depression that taboo subject that no-one mentions and I have to live with, but I'm about to break this particular taboo. I first started to suffer with depression around the time I had a nervous breakdown that had everything to do with my job as a teacher and the end of my previous marriage. I'm not sure which came first, the depression or the nervous breakdown, but at that point in my life I wouldn't have recognised either of them for what they were, luckily for me my doctor did.

In many ways I'm very lucky after several years of living with it I recognise the signs that I'm about to disappear into that world where on a very bad day getting dressed can be a major challenge. I'm also lucky in that I now live with a man who understands it, knows when I'm in that place where he can't reach me and handles it so very well. I'm also lucky because quite by accident I discovered how I can best prevent it.

For me a bout of depression is caused mainly by not enough time outdoors but also by starting to feel like jobs are piling up on me, a reaction to when teaching was causing me an unimaginable amount of stress. I only discovered the main cause when I set up my walking website and realised after a few months that I hadn't had a bad bout of depression for quite a while. This makes me very lucky as my hobby is my best method of prevention.

It isn't always possible to get out walking and so once or twice a year I will feel the warning signs of my head feeling very woolly, like a thick cloud is descending around it and the all too familiar feeling in my stomach. Sometimes at this point I can stop it developing by forcing myself to start to tackle, what appears to me at that point in time, an impossible amount of jobs. Usually they are nothing of the sort but by now my ability to tackle even the simplest task is disappearing fast so even the washing up feels like a form of torture.

Now as much as I loved every minute of the Olympics I knew towards the end that I was starting to feel ill and managed to pull myself back from the brink, so to speak, but last week the clouds descended again. The problem then becomes one of breaking the cycle of I'm depressed and therefore struggling to do the simplest things, when, of course, what I need to do most of all is to get outside go for a walk or start to tackle the jobs. This is usually where Husband comes in because at some point I will become capable of saying to him I don't feel great and then things start to come back into perspective.

So the middle of last week I disappeared, thankfully only briefly, but enough to mean that things that should have happened didn't. Needless to say I didn't get to the gym, the pool or out walking all of which would have helped. In my depressed state I seriously thought after I'd washed up for 3 days in a row that if Husband didn't wash up the next day I'd go on strike. Not that you'd have noticed I'd gone on strike as it wasn't like I was doing a lot anyway!! There really is nothing logical about my thoughts when I'm depressed.

Strangely this time it was sewing and cricket that brought me out of the latest bout of depression. I started working on the Jayne's Attic Monthly Challenge on the day England absolutely stuffed South Africa at Trent Bridge and as I did so I felt myself return to normal. So who knows maybe now I've started stitching again I've found another way out, which will be great. Of course first of all I will have to be capable of picking up a needle but anything that helps is fine by me.