I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










The best laid plans




The plan was to continue working on this feather wreath design today.  I’ve been having such interesting and useful conversations with my Bernina friends and have so many new ideas to put into practice.  I made sure I was up to date with my work yesterday afternoon so that a whole day lay open in front of me this morning.  I looked forward to reworking those little pebbles and to refining that heavily stitched ring and opened the Bernina software ready to go.




But my Wacom tablet stared me in the face and had different ideas.

I’d been trying to resolve one or two difficulties with it recently.  I’d uninstalled and reinstalled the drivers, been quite a frequent visitor to the Wacom Support Forum and eventually left the thing in the capable hands of my Technical Support department whilst I soldiered on using my mouse.  Today, though, I was determined.




But once again, my Wacom tablet and my computer had different ideas.  Though the green light was on, no-one seemed to be home.  Tech Support persisted and tried several more strategies but still no joy.




So I decided to install the new portable hard drive we bought for our baby laptop, transfer a few photos, install some program updates and suchlike.




The view from around here is a bit like this.  Not quite what I planned or hoped for.  Whilst one computer quietly updated itself, the postman brought a prompt for the other one.




Well, 20% off a new dress and matching cardigan for my holidays meant I could get a little bag as well, didn’t it?

In the meantime, my hero went to the post office and we gave up on the Wacom .  For now.


Where did that week go?




Hard to say, really!  It’s been the kind of week when it feels as though there’s not been anything special going on and yet, actually, we’ve been enjoying ourselves quite a bit.  Clearly, we’ve been enjoying ourselves quietly.




No, that’s not my studio but the window of Anthropologie in Regent Street.  There’s always interesting things to see in there and their visual merchandising is first class.  Sorry about the reflection, but I just had to get a picture of what was described as Yves St Laurent’s studio, not least because I just heard there will be an exhibition of his work which will be going on my “want to see” list for later in the year.




We always enjoy the colourful tableware in there too, and my Hero spotted some really cheerful mugs which he rather liked the look of.  Fortunately, the handle which fell off one of them before we even got it home was easily superglued back on at the same time as I repaired the poppy.




So, shopping, lunch with friends, a bit of DIY back home…what else?




Oh yes, a wedding!  Well, not the actual vows and signing of the papers, because that was done in Guatemala a couple of weeks ago, but the fun part; the celebration with friends and family.  It was a really super occasion, with just the right degree of Guatemalan content, including a Mayan temple for a wedding cake.




Thankfully, it waited until Monday to snow.  It was here and gone in no time at all but for a short time everything in the garden glistened in the sunshine.  Since then, we’ve had sunshine, frost, showers, everything.


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Everything except storms that is.  For that, we had to go to the cinema.  We were a bit slow in picking up the Royal Opera House’s live transmission of The Flying Dutchman and by the time we went to book, our usual Cheltenham venue was full.  We decided we’d go to Gloucester instead, which turned out to be a great choice!




It was a super performance, even if the whole affair did lack some of the pizazz which accompany the “Live from the Met” operas.  Critics reckoned that the ghostly crew weren’t quite spooky enough, that perhaps Senta’s last moments weren’t as dramatic as they might have been and perhaps she should have leapt into the sea or at least, done more than simply fall to the floor. 

Me?  I simply niggled that the women who were singing about spinning were sewing!  Artistic licence, perhaps, but nevertheless…


A day’s work


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There’s been a four part series on the Bernina blog, about machine quilting and painting a feather wreath.  Of course, it’s “my” colours, so hit all the buttons and I bookmarked it in my brain, thinking I’d have a go at it sometime.  But recent trials of my free machine quilting skills have not gone so well and I really doubted my ability to create such a beauty, so I’ve hung fire a while.


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But just a minute.  Haven’t I got some rather clever software in which I could draw out such a design and stitch it automatically?  Couldn’t I use a little practice in using that software, since the arrival of the cutwork and other clever things have overshadowed it of late?  I thought about it for all of five minutes and with a day at home, I cracked on right away this morning.


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I started by drawing it all out in Photoshop and importing the drawing to the Bernina software, but then had a “duh” moment and started again.  This time, I drew a single feather loop and used the “wreath” tool to create the circular pattern.  Clever!  (the software, not me!)


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I used the wreath tool several times more, each time finding it a really powerful means of creating an even, symmetrical design.  I watched the “slow redraw” several times and was fairly happy with what I saw…except it did sew out in a strange order, and I wasn’t sure how to correct that.




By about four o’clock I was ready to begin stitching.  Yes, really, it had taken me almost the whole day to create the design – so much for those who think we just “press a button”!  I could wait no longer and just had to give it a try out.




Having stitched it, I got the Markal paintstiks out and chose a couple of colours.  I wasn’t too worried about colour by now – just wanted to get it done!




By five o’clock, I was ready to set the colours with the iron and sit back.




Sit back and look a little closely at all the small things I wish I’d done differently, that is.  It’s not bad as a starting point but it needs more work; of that I am certain.

Bernina machine embroidery friends (you know who you are!), prepare for the arrival of an email with a small attachment shortly.  I’m hoping that you will be able to bring your skills and experience to the party and show me where I went wrong!!

Sometimes, more brains are better than one.


A beautiful day to be out and about




We had an errand to run at some point this week and when thinking about our plans, decided to make a bit more of it and have a day out.  We mentioned it to friends, who liked the idea and who agreed to meet us for lunch at a favourite spot. 

Could we have chosen a better day for a jaunt up country?




First stop was here.




We have several Whichford pots in our garden and as I was saying to the potter who spoke to my WI last week, they are the only ones we’ve found which reliably withstand low temperatures without damage – we love them.




Choosing a pot wasn’t difficult and having accomplished the main task of the day we still had an hour or so to spare.




So we headed for Mary’s favourite place.  We were too late for coffee so simply pootled around and ooohed and aaaahed (at the prices, mostly). 




Everything here looks beautiful, though!




Great minds think alike and having already bumped into our friends there amidst the beautiful people, we made our way a little further up the road for some lunch.  Same owners, same gorgeous aesthetic but rather quieter than the farm shop on a Tuesday half term lunchtime. 




The food was delicious.  We each indulged in starters, main courses and puddings and not one of those twelve plates was returned with a scrap on it.  My plate of rhubarb was beautiful and believe me, tasted as good as it looks.

Only one thing was missing.



Around here




We’ve had a small disaster.




A little sad, but hopefully, something which can be repaired.  Our own fault really, for not heeding warnings of the effects of low temperatures on such things.




We hope those are coming to an end now, and the appearance of my little Navarre daffodil is a good sign.  I treasure this little one and am thrilled to see three buds this year, though it’ll take a while until it is as settled as in its original home I think.




The outlook is still rather wintry here though and we are curious to know what the landowners across there have planned.  New fence?  Driveway?  We’ll see!




Tulip update: yesterday they were looking great.  This morning they were in pieces on the counter. Now they’re on the compost heap!




Christopher is feeling quite at home now and is happy to take a break from his hotel duties for a while.




And if I say I made a raspberry pavlova for lunch yesterday, some of you will know what that means Winking smile

The start of another fun packed week, then!