Sunday, 30 November 2014

A Weekend At St Bartz

This weekend I have been fulfilling my duties as a fun and creative Girl Guide leader. Myself and the three other fantastic leaders who I 'work' with took 16 of our girls to St Bartz- a nearby retreat centre. It is actually a large converted church with lots of quirky features and leftovers from its church days.

There was lots of space for the girls to run around and play in.

It was a Christmas themed weekend so we did lots of craft activities relating to Christmas. We also made lots of things to sell at a fundraising fair on Tuesday which we hope will be successful!

Anyone for a chocolate reindeer? Really easy to make, just melt chocolate and then drip onto baking parchment, decorate with silver ball eyes, marshmallows or cherries for the nose, and matchmakers for the antlers. These chocolates were made mostly by me when all of the matchmakers had been snaffled by the girls. I was only left with one, can you spot it?

I took in my faithful gingerbread recipe which always produces good results. It was a bit hairy watching the guides' baking techniques but we got there in the end. We actually ended up with so many we could have half for our pudding with some Angel Delight and the other half were decorated ready for our stall at the fair.

Some quirky and individual decorations there.

Last weekend, when I went to Brighton on a shopping trip, I bought lots of felt in preparation for a Christmas stocking project. I had volunteered to design stockings that the girls could easily make so this is the idea I came up with. They are really quite a decent size and mostly involved cutting out. I took my sewing machine with me and when the girls had finished decorating and stitching on holly leaves, ribbons and bows and were settled in front of a movie, I quickly whizzed around the edges of the stocking, to make sure that everything was neat, catching a ribbon to hang them up with as I went round. This morning the girls came out of their bedrooms to find that the Christmas elves had been round and put little presents in their stockings under the tree (do you recognise it from when I was at university?).

There were quite a few decorations in the lounge part of the retreat, my Christmas tree and strings of paper snowflakes and paper chains that the girls made on Friday evening when they arrived. The snowflakes cast really lovely shadows on the walls.

Other fundraiser projects they did was to make cards (which I don't have any photos of but they were following this kind of idea), plum jam and tomato chutney. We actually ended up with quite a lot and they look lovely with the fabric and raffia decoration.

When we left the sun was going down casting a golden glow on the old building. A very creative and active weekend. Hopefully enjoyed by all!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Christmas Table Runner

Hello! I hope you have all had a lovely relaxing Sunday. I have spent the majority of the day stitching and quilting my new table runner.
In my last post I mentioned about how I fell in love with some fabric at work, then ended up buying some complimentary fabrics to go with the linen snowflake, followed by extensive research into different table runner tutorials. I am so pleased that I went with this one from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. It couldn't have been easier. (And most of my squares matched up pretty nicely- except for one!)

I cut up all of my fabrics at the beginning of the week, so all I had to do today was figure out a random order and stitch the squares into rows, and the rows into a zig zag block. I used 37 squares in total which just perfectly fits the table, leaving a small gap at the top and bottom so it doesn't get in the way of people sitting at the ends.

Following the tutorial step by step was really lovely as it felt like I was making it with Jenny (the tutorial guide) and that we were achieving together. There is no binding on this runner, it is a 'stitch right sides together, leave a gap and turn the right way around' type of project.

(The red ticking fabric is so curly!!)

I was super chuffed with it in this state, but still had the quilting to do now that the wadding (or batting as the US crafty people call it) was stitched inside.

To get the textured quilted effect I had to do some 'stitch in the ditch' which basically means stitching over the seams and trying to be as neat and invisible as possible. Not always easy with such a large project I think I managed to do quite a neat job, although I did jump out of the ditch a fair few times. Never mind!

I probably made things a little harder for myself as I used curtain weight interior fabric rather than the thinner patchwork cotton. But I love the different textures that are now in the runner with a mix of cottons and linens, weights and print types.

Can't wait to set the table for Christmas!!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Changing Colours

Evenin' All! (Does anyone else visualise an old fashioned policeman saying that? Just me?) I have been very tired this week- lots of early nights and yawny starts. Wednesday was a lovely day off though as I went on a trip to Brighton with a good friend. It was a proper day out on the bus and as it was actually sunny outside (occasionally) I left the house early, kicking and collecting leaves all the way to the bus stop.

I love how this line of trees almost has a rainbow effect going on with the leaves. Starting at bright green, slowly changing to acid yellows and then burning at the ends with reds and browns.

It was a day to be very aware of colour actually. For some reason (probably because it wasn't raining or dark), the colours seemed brighter. Like this gorgeous Hydrangea! My Hydrangea plant has finished now, and is settling down for a Winter snooze.

I played around with the settings on my camera whilst I waited for the bus to turn up. The above photo has the colour setting on chrome and the below is standard. I like both, what do you think?

Possibly the people driving and walking past thought I was slightly mad when I started poking my collected leaves into the fence behind me. I had a vision you see, of the bright colours against the grey weathered wood.

Can you see the little photo bomber in the above photo? You have to look very closely! I will reveal him/her at the end of this post for those who don't spot.

I have started work on a new Christmas project. Some gorgeous snowflake linen fabric came into work the other week and after looking at it for several days I decided I needed a reason to buy some. Heading for the good old Google search, I eventually decided on a Christmas table runner!! I am going to attempt to follow the lovely Jenny from Missouri Star Quilt Company who shows how to make a zig zag table runner in an afternoon on her Youtube tutorial. It looks easy and really lovely so I thought I would have a crack at it!! I will let you know how it goes.

Did you find the photo bomber in the photo? Take a look to the left of the left-hand-side leaf. Snuggled into the overlap of the wood is an 8 legged (presumably, I didn't get close enough to count the legs) spider!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Tower Poppies

Poppy overload here I'm afraid. Aren't they simply breathtaking though? They were quite incredible to see up close and in person. It is hard to imagine what 888,246 poppies looks like just off the top of ones head, and even with some of them already being taken away and packaged up. The vast sea of red was amazing.

We walked all of the way around the Tower of London looking at the different sections of poppy display. The wave was quite incredible, and was full of little birds playing amongst the ceramic petals.

Some poppies didn't have stalks and were just laid on the ground as a flower. Or tucked into nooks and crannies.

It was quite a dramatic contrast to the stark grey of the stone. Especially on a slightly grey, rainy day.

I am so pleased I made it up to London to see them before they are all whisked away and sent all around the world.