Getting back to normal, if there is such a thing.

Around two days after I wrote my last post “Washout” I ended up contacting my doctor and was prescribed antibiotics. I had been running a temperature for around a week and I just wasn’t feeling any better. 

 
Wednesday morning (30th January) I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like someone had smacked me in the face with a shovel. My sinuses hurt, my teeth hurt and I felt violently sick. As I quite often get migraines like this I decided to try to get back to sleep, it didn’t work. As the morning wore on the pain was increasing where as my migraine attacks last 12 hours at the same intensity I had to concede that this wasn’t a migraine, I had sinusitis and probably a chest infection. When I described my symptoms to the gp she agreed and I was given a 7 day course for amoxicillan. No wonder I had been feeling so awful.
 
After 3 days on the antibiotics I was feeling almost human again. However as usual the antibiotics did a number on my innards which required me to take at least 6 imodium a day. The diarrhoea was so bad it left me feeling drained and triggered off very painful spasms causing me then to have bowel adhesion pain. I stuck with them until the end of day 5, after that I just couldn’t do it anymore. 
 
I could cope with the exhaustion levels if my pain levels hadn’t suddenly just ramped up. Out of nowhere I am back to having extremely cold legs which have to be warmed up by a hot water bottle or by sitting on my electric throw. When going out in the cold and believe me it’s not that cold for this time of year, yesterday it was between 6 and 7 degrees Centigrade, I was in agony with my hands despite having my arthritis gloves on and my legs were aching despite having leggings on under my jeans. I had just gone through a really good period, pain wise and had barely been touching my oramorph which I use for breakthrough pain but as of two days ago, I am taking it every 4 hours when awake to try to knock down the pain levels I am currently experiencing.
 
At the moment there seems to be no happy medium temperature wise. I am either hurting due to the cold or stripping off my layers because I am suddenly boiling hot. So hot that I am sweating. An hour later I am back to freezing again and this cycle repeats itself throughout the day. I wish I knew what I could do to combat it. It’s not like the flushes I was getting before taking the red clover, black cohosh and the sage leaf supplements which have done wonders for my hot flushes. This is a temperature regulation issue. And temperature control is part of the autonomic nervous system. I guess it’s just adding in another element of fun.
 
On a happier note Dembe is settling in very well, you can read about his adventures at www.thedembediaries.com I publish every Monday letting everyone know what he has been up to over the previous week. I don’t know where I would be without him if I am honest. It is exhausting though looking after a puppy when you compare looking after adult dogs who are independent and happy to be left sleeping for most of the day.
 
Dembe is very close to me but I wouldn’t expect any different, he and I are alone together all day ( around 11 hours) bar Jay coming home for 30-40 minutes at lunch time. Dembe loves Jay too, you only have to witness the furious tail wagging when Jay comes through the door to know that. But he is a mummy’s boy at heart. He loves nothing better than curling up at the end of the sofa and sleeping, as long as I am at the other end. 

 
 
 
When I get onto my sewing machine or embroidery machine, he sleeps on the bed I made him in the kitchen. Due to feeling so rotten, not a lot of sewing has gone on. However I did manage to finish this birth announcement cushion, which is a gift for a friend to celebrate the arrival of his daughter. By the time this blog post is published the gifts recipient should have it.
 

 
I am really pleased with the cushion as the feet are from one design and the text is from an inbuilt text on my embroidery machine however I had to get the placement and size of the text right so that the cushion looked balanced. 
 
I used a product called Sarille, which is a type of interlining mainly used on curtains. I saw in various groups lots of suggestions for using wadding behind embroidery designs that were stitch dense and being sewn onto lightweight fabric. I had loads of the Sarille lying around from when I used to do my subscription box. It has given the cushion a nice bit of body at the front and it has also ensure there is minimal puckering. 
 
It’s the first bit of sewing I haven’t had to force myself to do since Frankie and Mollie passed away. For a while there I didn’t know if my sewjo would ever come back or if Dembe would sleep enough for me to manage to get anything done. Jobs are taking me longer as I now tend to wait for Jay to be home before sewing anything. Embroidery is different as I can get up and move away ( when the machine / thread is behaving), so I can keep an eye on Dembe. He is very used to me doing bits of embroidery, he  will lie on his bed in the kitchen and go to sleep. Puppies do sleep a lot although when they are manically running around, chasing their own tails it can seem like they never sleep!
 
I have also managed to get two other bits of embroidery done today, birthday presents for March. I do like working ahead so that I don’t feel under pressure. Whilst I am in the mood to be creative I tend to go for it. Its only in the last few days that I have felt the creative juices starting to flow again. That has as much to do with getting over the infections as it does with dealing with the grief losing the dogs caused. 
 
Its taken 4 weeks for me to feel anywhere near normal and it is still very raw. I am managing to go days without crying where as in the beginning I was lucky if I could go an hour without breaking down. 
 
I am finding it very difficult at the moment to motivate myself to write this blog, mainly because the dogs, our Weimaraners featured in it from the very beginning. They are what kept me sane and kept me going, when it would have been incredibly easy just to give up and not fight anymore. It is taking some getting used to being without them. It’s a new normal and it’s going to take a while to get used to it.
 
 
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Washout

 

Well the last week has been a bit of a washout, on the day my last post was published I started to come down with a nasty virus. My throat felt like I had swallowed a packet of razor blades, I started to ache all over and my temperature started shooting up. Within the space of a few hours I had gone from feeling ok to wanting to crawl into bed and cry.

Thursday was also hard because Frankie and Mollie came home to their resting place. It was a really emotional day. Jay and I wanted them back home with us but it also meant it was final and we would have to accept that they were gone. They have a beautiful spot on our bookcase in their Emma Bridgewater pet bowls with their names on.

I can’t look at the shelf at the moment I find it too upsetting. I miss them both so much but particularly my Frankie. He would have loved Dembe as he was always crazy about puppies. Whenever Jay took him to the vets and there was a puppy there Frankie would cry until he was allowed to go up and see the puppy. 

I remember him when we had the 2nd litter of Weimaraners and he had them hanging off him, all different places and some quite painful and he never batted an eyelid. He was so very gentle when it came to puppies. He didn’t like other fully grown dogs much ( other than Mollie his mum and his sister Willow, who we lost in 2017) but puppies oh how he adored puppies. I know he would have adored Dembe.

Obviously due to the emotional battering we have taken over the last few weeks both our immune systems have been compromised. I rarely pick up any bugs that are going around even if Jay comes down with them 99 times out of 100 I will avoid them. So its unlike me to come down with something first. However over the last few weeks we have been out and about much more than we have been previously. I have mixed with many more people than I normally would. So I have probably been a lot more exposed to other people’s germs than I would have been before. 

I haven’t worn proper clothes since last Thursday I have just had to lounge around in my pj’s because I just don’t have the energy to get dressed. Some of my friends have also come down with this virus and have ended up quite poorly with both chest and sinus infections. Hubby has said they are dropping like flies at work and he is now starting to come down with a cold.

Dembe still brings us much joy and delight. He is such a happy pup, he just wants to please you the whole time. He has mastered sit and paw. We are working on his recall at the moment as he will be able to go out for his first walk on Thursday. Initially whilst we are still working on his recall, Jay will be walking him around the local streets teaching him to walk to heel and to get his bearings. He is desperate to get into the outside world. He loves sitting on the lounge window ledge and looking outside. 

I don’t know what we would have done without Dembe, this Friday we will have had him 3 weeks and he will be 11 weeks old. He has grown loads but is still tiny compared to our other dogs. I don’t even remember our other dogs as puppies. Probably because they grow up so fast. He changes every day and each day just brings us more joy. 

The really weird thing is Dembe on Friday seemed to know that I was feeling really rotten. Whilst I was lying on the sofa he wanted to sleep at the end of the sofa just like Nurse Frankie did whenever I was really poorly. Normally Dembe sleep’s in his bed in the kitchen, so it is quite unusual for him to spend long periods of time on the sofa with me. He was so calm all day Friday, like he knew he had to tone things down as mum wasn’t feeling well.

He also loves empty toilet roll tubes just like his Uncle Frankie did. He has a box full of toys but he goes crazy for an empty toilet roll tube. It is so sweet that he has some of Frankie’s ways about him, he also loves a ball like Mollie did and loves cuddles like Willow. We don’t compare him to our other dogs as that would be like comparing apples and oranges. It is just nice to talk about the others and him in the same sentence.

Well as I have heard from friends all over the country who have succumbed to this virus / flu-like bug I hope you all manage to avoid it. It is really nasty, I spent most of last night coughing as my throat kept drying out. Until next week…

Hoping for a quiet 2019

My last post was published on the 10th of January when I felt like my whole world had caved in. The last few weeks have been very hard, I miss Frankie and Mollie so much that my heart aches. There has not been a day that has gone by where I haven’t wept with the pain of losing them as suddenly as we did. To lose two dogs in 7 days is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t have got through it without hubby by my side. In fact I would have probably given up completely had he not been here.

 
Due to the shock, upset, grief hubby has taken some time off work. He already suffers with anxiety and depression and to ensure he didn’t take a nose dive he saw the doctor and got himself signed off. He didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone. Losing Mollie hit him very hard as she was his dogs. Plus it was very traumatic for us over 24 hours where it became clear that she had suffered from a stroke and there would be no recovery from this. We nursed her overnight and made sure she wasn’t suffering. Right up until the end she only wanted her dad, whenever she was out of his sight she panicked. Jay stayed with her until the end as I had stayed with Frankie just the week before. To say our hearts were broken would have been an understatement.
 
I took a break from this blog as since the beginning back in 2008 the dogs have featured quite heavily in it. My Gravatar is me with Frankie, Frankie is the banner on WordPress, on Twitter his photo is my profile picture and its the same on Facebook. Although I have managed to change my about me pages on both blog platforms, I can’t remove his photo from any of my social media profile photos.  It feels like a huge chunk of my life has just vanished. Life as I knew it was taken away from me in the space of 7 days. I never knew I could feel so utterly broken by the passing of three dogs in just a little over the year.
 
For a few years Mr Myasthenia Kid and I had talked about what would happen when we no longer had any dogs. Initially we had said we would get a Labrador ( black) then we talked about a Beagle and also a Bracco Italiano. However for the last few months I had said I didn’t know if I wanted another dog, I knew losing our last two Weimaraners would hit me really badly and by getting another dog meant at some point in the future I would have to go through the pain of losing it all over again. Jay was not having any of it, he said that I was already completely socially isolated and without a dog I would have no company at all. He felt it would be very damaging to my mental health. He was right, as 7 days without a dog in the house were the worst thing ever. I missed everything about having a dog, the cuddles, the mess, the unconditional love, someone to have silly conversations with.
 
By the Sunday after Mollie’s passing we decided that we would get another dog and we started looking on-line for Labrador puppies. I had to give myself a crash course on Labrador’s having not ever owned one. I located several breeders who had litters on The Kennel Club Website. Luckily one lady immediately responded to my email and told us she had two male yellow labs for sale. Obviously we had originally said we wanted a black lab but by this point it didn’t matter what colour it was. We needed our house to feel like a home again, we were both distraught and sinking fast. We arranged to travel to see the 2 pups available the following day.
 
The rest is history, we now own a 9 week old Yellow Labrador called Dembe. We chose his name from the TV programme the blacklist, it means peace. Which you will probably agree we need by the bucket full. Dembe came home with us on Friday 11th January. You can read all about him   here as I have started his own blog for him. I will from time to time have photos of him on this blog but it is much easier to have all the news about him on a separate blog. Every Monday I will give a run down of what he has been up to the previous week. 
 
Some of you may be judging us, that we got a new dog too quickly or that we didn’t love our other dogs that much because we replaced them with Dembe. Dembe is not and has never been a replacement. He is an addition to our household. He is very much-loved for the dog he is and will become. Anyone who thinks any less of us for this can just fuck off as far as I am concerned, your opinion is of very little value to me.
 
So whilst I took a break from here, I have been setting up Dembe’s blog. I managed to keep writing which out of all the things I do creatively was the only thing that I could keep going. I hadn’t been able to sew since Mollie passed away. I managed on the 16th January after a break of nearly two weeks to sit and do a small piece of embroidery. Mainly to ensure that Dembe wasn’t scared of the noise the machine made. The only thing that has freaked him out so far has been the ironing board and it does the same to me if I am honest.
 
My health has been hit quite hard by the sudden turn of events. I have suffered vertigo, continuous headaches, back spasms, Eczema, migraines and ptosis. As usual it a few days after the event before I started to go down hill. Thankfully with Jay off work we have been able to manage Dembe’s care and socialisation process. To be honest without him I would have crawled into bed and never come out again. This little chap has saved us both. The lady that we are friendly with at the vets ( who had a soft spot for Frankie) called Dembe our miracle dog. She knew how much our lives focused on our dogs and also knew that without a dog in our life we would fall apart. 
 
So many people have told us that we have done exactly the right thing. It doesn’t mean that we loved our Weimaraners any less, it is because we loved them so much that we had all this love to give to another dog. 
 
Dembe has bonded with us both. He is such a happy, laid back dog. His tail wags continuously. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him. I thought at one point after Mollie had passed away that Jay looked like he was going to drop dead from a broken heart. He was just an ashen colour. I have seen Jay poorly many times but this was the worst I had seen him look for a long time. Since Dembe’s arrival he is looking so much better, we both feel like there is a future in front of us. In the immediate aftermath of losing both dogs it felt like we were staring into the abyss .
 
I am hoping that my health stabilises shortly, it is going to have to as Jay goes back to work from Monday 21st and it will just be me and Dembe. However Jay will be coming home at lunch times to help with feeding and toileting. He still has a few weeks until he will be able to go out for a walk. Whilst Jay is home though I am trying to take it as easy as possible. Jay has been doing everything for me as usual.
 
2018 ended in a way that I didn’t see coming and 2019 started in a way we never envisaged. All I can hope for is a quieter year for the rest of 2019.
 

 
 

 
I will never forget the love that these three beautiful loyal dogs gave me. Run free my darlings, we will miss you everyday for the rest of our lives.

17th October

For the last ten years I have written about how much I hate October and how this month always fills me with sadness. This year is no different. In some ways it is worse.

This morning (17th Oct) I woke up sobbing, as today is the 12th anniversary of our beloved first dog Travis’ passing. He has been dead longer than he was alive, just under three years. The pain today is as raw as it was on the day we said goodbye. Why it is so bad today I don’t know. Perhaps with everything that has gone on in the last 12 months ( losing Willow, Pam, Gran, mum having cancer – now in remission) it’s all the stress just being released. I often wonder how it is possible that I can shed so many tears for a dog that was in our lives so briefly but he wasn’t a dog to us. He was our boy and the pain of saying goodbye is something I will never get over.

Losing Willow on December 15th was hard but she had lived for 11 years. In that time she had been pampered and showered with affection. She had fought many battles herself having cancer, a pyometra both of which could have killed her. I had a sneaking suspicion in the months before her passing that the cancer had returned but it was internal. I know people thought I was crazy when I voiced my concerns, like I was wishing her life away but I know my dogs and I know when things aren’t right. I have cried many tears over Willow but it is a different pain I feel with her passing. I miss her, I remember her fondly. The pain I feel with Travis is like a knife to the heart. The level of pain is not something that has ever gone away. I can talk about Willow without breaking down although some days it makes me feel terribly sad. Talking about Travis about 50% of the time will reduce me to tears no matter how strong I am feeling. It doesn’t mean I loved Willow any less, it just means Travis’ life was cut short and I mourn the time I should have had with him. However had he lived I would never have experienced life with Frankie, his nephew.

Poor Frankie and Mollie ( Trav’s sister) have been desperately trying to lick my face clean of tears all morning. I am trying to pull myself together because I know the sight of me breaking my heart is distressing them. I hate upsetting them. They are my last links to Travis, Mollie is his sister born a year later from the same parents and Frankie, Mollie’s son is his nephew. I never realised how much Frankie looks like Travis until you compare photos side by side. That’s probably why I dote on him so much. After Travis passed away I said I would never have another boy dog in the house and then after Frankie had been with his new owners a week he came back to us as the children were allergic to him. His owners broke their hearts when they returned him. I have never seen a man so broken by a dog ( other than Jay when Trav passed away and my dad when his beloved Esme passed away). I shed a tear with them. At that point I was resolute that Frankie would be sold. Within a few days I knew I could never let him go.

And now Frankie is 12 and not in the best of health, Mollie is 14 and still bouncing around like a puppy but deaf as a post. A few days ago on her walk she was playing with another Weimaraner half her age and giving as good as she gets. Yes I will be devastated when pass away but I know that they lived full lives, surrounded by people who love them. Travis’ life was cut tragically short and I think that’s why I find it so hard to deal with.

I hate October particularly 17th and I probably always will.

Solitary confinement

I’m used to my own company, I am in fact quite a solitary character. I don’t need to be surrounded by other people, as I can entertain myself. However sometimes the loneliness of chronic illness really gets to me. I am having a wobble.

 

Mr Myasthenia Kid had two weeks off work (as annual holiday) in August, it’s the longest he’s taken as holiday in years. Normally he takes a week here and there throughout the year. Always holding some back in reserve in case he needs to take time off to look after me or take me to medical appointments. Usually by the end of his weeks holiday I am happy to send him back to work, as I have my own routine and ways I like to get stuff done. This time however I am finding hard to adjust to not having him home with me. We had a lovely two weeks together, laughing, talking and generally just being together and now the house just seems so empty and quiet. It’s been quite hard to g back to it just being me for long stretches at a time.

 

It is really hard to explain how empty the house seems, it’s not like he takes up lots of room or that he makes loads of noise. It’s just I got very used to his presence and having someone to talk to. When you are chronically sick and virtually housebound your world gets very small. You only see the people who can be bothered to make the time to see you. Being below retirement age all of my friends are working and have families of their own, so I am very grateful for the time I do get to spend with them . With the pace of life these days, it’s very easy to be forgotten about, out of sight out of mind. I found that back in 2008 when I left work, that all these people who I had known for 12 years who I believed were my friends, just disappeared. They think a quick comment on your Facebook page is a get out of jail free card, it doesn’t replace seeing someone in the flesh and having a conversation.

 

Most of my friendships are now online and I have made some truly wonderful friends. Particularly on Instagram amongst the crafting / sewing / creative community. I am lucky to have got sick in an age where to talk to someone I just have to open up my computer but it doesn’t replace the physical presence of another human being. I am grateful for the online friends I have but I would imagine they would agree that proper physical contact with other human beings trumps any other contact with the outside world.

 

I have always been quite a solitary character, my own company isn’t something that has ever daunted me. In fact there are days where I cherish the time I spend alone. I like being able to step back from the outside world but I also like to spend time in it or as close as I can. I like a balance of both but due to my health being so utterly rotten this year, I have barely seen anyone since the end of June. I have literally gone weeks and the only person I have spoken to is Jamie. Can any of you who aren’t chronically sick imagine what that is like, that the only contact you have with the outside world is with one person? It’s no ones fault, this isn’t a dig at any of my friends as it has been me doing the cancelling due to not being well enough. Is it any wonder now that after having two weeks of company I am finding going back to being alone so very difficult? I am grateful that we have the dogs but their conversational skills are very limited.

 

It’s hard to explain but my heart hurts with the loneliness and the missing Jay. I know he’s only 7 minutes up the road but the house is so quiet it  is deafening.

 

Every year around Christmas time there is always a campaign about loneliness and the elderly. Every year I want to scream at the TV it’s not just the elderly who are lonely in this country. There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people whose lives are blighted by illness who see no one for weeks on end other than their caregivers or partners. It is assumed that if you are aged between 18-67 that you are in work but there are many of us who can’t work, who are housebound who are crying out for some company yet we are the forgotten ones. I don’t know if it is because people don’t understand chronic illness and can’t get their heads around the fact that there are working age people, who through no fault of their own do not have the social outlet of work and are just forgotten. It’s like we don’t exist.

 

I am extremely lucky I have friends who do come and visit me. I really appreciate those visits and I hate it when I have to cancel due to my health deciding to have a hissy fit. It takes a lot for me to cancel because I don’t know when they will be able to visit again. There are lots of people in my position who never see anyone. I know I am lucky, I am just sad this week as I am finding it so hard to adjust to Jamie being back at work.

 

I know given a few more days I will have got myself back into a routine and I will be used to being on my own again. I thank my lucky stars for my cyber friends who are so supportive and caring. Even though I am shit at messaging people because I am always in my own little bubble. I have an issue where I think of someone, say to myself “oh I must message them” and two weeks later I realise I haven’t. I’m currently struggling with what day of the week it is. Not because there has been a bank holiday it’s purely that I have no clue. To give you an example of how bad it is at the moment, I had no clue today was Thursday and was quite surprised when I started to get notifications on my blogs Facebook page. It was only when I looked I realised that my blog post for this week had been published. I tend to write them in advance and schedule them in to be published automatically. This morning I had no idea that it was Thursday. I do however know who the prime minister is and what year I was born! Just in case anyone is concerned about my mental status. It’s just the days are currently blurring into one.

I also know that the way I am feeling now is probably a reaction to all the stress I have been under lately. My mum has had some pretty major surgery that was needed out of the blue. Adrenaline has carried me through for weeks. Now things are starting to calm down, I have the time to spend analysing my feelings because during that time period it was just getting through that day that mattered. It was a frightening / stressful time. In a year of horribly stressful and sad events. I know I just need to get back into a routine and allow myself the period of adjustment instead of being so hard on myself that I am struggling to adapt.

 

This probably  seems quite a depressing read, I’m sorry. I have just really been surprised at the depth of feeling that Jays return to work has caused me. I don’t think in the nearly 22 years we have been together that I have ever missed him so much. Silly really as every night he is home, every morning he is here. Just at the moment being in the house alone seems a little like solitary confinement.

 

P.s Its over a week later and I am back into my old routine. I am enjoying the time I have to myself and have been really productive on the sewing front.  I have also had a visit from some friends which was really nice. Obviously I still miss Jay during the day but it’s not like the deep ache in my heart I had before. I  am much happier now that I have re-adjusted to the time spent alone.

 

My first gifted quilt

Many of you who follow me on various social media platforms will know that my mum has been quite poorly. It’s actually a massive understatement for what she has been through. She’s had a major operation that will take months to recover from. The stress of being so far away from my mum and too sick to travel impacted my health a lot over the summer. So as soon as I could take a breath and think straight I decided I was going to make her a very special gift for her birthday in September.

 

I was very lucky that a friend on Instagram gifted me a pattern for a quilt, which I had seen her make and loved. It was 4 pussy cats, spread over 4 separate panels, making it a lap quilt. The cats were made by using applique and then sewing over the raw edges. Initially when I decided to make the quilt I was going to use fabric from my stash but whilst I was mulling over the quilt in my mind I decided I wanted to buy some material for the cats. I knew I wanted muted colours rather than bright colours. I had also had the last of one of my subscription boxes, I was unimpressed with the project contained within so I decided I would use the floral fabric charm pack ( 5 inch squares ) in conjunction with the polka dot fabric I purchased. The white background fabric was bought earlier on in the year during the sales. I had no plans for it and decided this would be superb for what I wanted to do. The pattern was discreet enough that it wouldn’t fight with the fabric I wanted to use for the cats which I wanted to be centre stage.

 

I’ve not done much applique before so I was a bit stressed about it. To be honest everything was stressing me out when I started this quilt. My brain was just fixating on anything it could to worry about. I made the first two cats and immediately fell in love with them.

 

 

 

Both cats had been fiddly to do and although I loved them both, I decided to do what I always do which is make it up as I go along. When I had last seen my mum she had been in awe of the free motion embroidery I had done on a cushion.

 

 

I decided instead of having 4 cats on the lap quilt, I would have two cats and two mice, as I knew how much my mum had loved the mouse on the cushion. This also meant that the lap quilt would be completely unique with it being a mash-up of two different designs.

 

 

The above photo shows the 4 panels that have the applique designs on them. These were created using bondaweb, which is a fusible webbing. It’s very fine material that is a glue. On one side you have paper and on the other side is a rough surface which has glue on it. To begin you trace out your design onto the paper side of the bondaweb. Then using a dry iron you stick your traced shapes to the wrong side of your fabric. You then cut your fabric shapes out, then remove the paper ( I use a pin to score it as it makes it easier to remove). You then position the shapes how you want them to appear on your background fabric. Using a damp cloth and a steam iron you apply heat to the fabric to bond it to the background fabric. This is raw edge applique, as you haven’t turned the edges over, so the raw edges are exposed. To prevent fraying you then sew over the edges.

 

 

 

 

For the mice I used a different technique, which is called free motion embroidery. This is where you drop the feed dogs ( these are the things that pull the material under the presser foot as you sew), I also have a special bobbin case for my Janome Atelier 5 ( blue dot bobbin case) which has a lower tension on it. It makes the world of difference when doing free motion quilting or embroidery. I also attach the darning / embroidery foot which is a closed toe. I haven’t done much free motion quilting, I really need to make up some quilt sandwiches and just have a play but I’ve done a couple of pieces of free motion embroidery. The free motion embroidery gives the applique an outline and it also makes it look like you have drawn the edges on. I love the way it looks and the fact that it doesn’t have to be brilliantly accurate as its supposed to look a bit messy!

 

 

After I had completed the 4 panels, I made my patchwork backing for the quilt. I wanted the quilt to be as beautiful on the back as it was on the front and in effect be reversible. I used my charm squares for this and added in some squares of the background fabric so it tied it to the front of the quilt. Using precut fabrics speeds things up, as you can literally just sit and sew. Things come together very quickly. I was extremely lucky with the finished size of the back panel as it was a complete guess. As at the time of putting this together I hadn’t decided how big my borders were going to be that would join the 4 panels together.

 

 

I decided to use the backing fabric from the panels as part of the sashing joining the panels together. I also used some of the fabric that I had made the cats and mice out of to tie all the fabrics together. I settled on 1 ½ inch strips of fabric, sewn together with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Thankfully earlier on this year I bought a creative grids stripology ruler, which means cutting strips is an absolute doddle. Cutting that would normally have taken me hours and lots of ruined fabric – because I can’t cut straight or measure accurately for toffee, now takes a matter of minutes. I can’t tell you how much I love these rulers, they’ve made my life so much easier! I used a 3.5 strip to make the outside border.

 

 

I then freaked out for a few days over how I was going to quilt this. I couldn’t decide if I was going to leave the applique panels unquilted and only quilt the borders. Or if I was going to quilt the applique panels how would I do it without distracting from the applique. I won’t lie it gave me a sleepless night or two. This was an important present, that had significant meaning for me. It was important that I got this right because once I started there would be no going back. Thanks to Instagram and all the quilters I follow my deliberations over the applique patterns were brought to an end when I saw how someone else had quilted their work with just straight lines about an inch apart but not going through the applique. It would be tricky as each time I started a new section would mean bringing the bobbin thread up, something I hadn’t had to do for ages as my new machine means I don’t have to do this. By bringing the bobbin thread up it meant I would avoid a nesting of threads on the back of the quilt, when a locking stitch was used. Although it’s not perfect I used a few small stitches forward and back to secure my threads. I am not advanced enough at the moment for burying threads and due to when my mums birthday was I didn’t have lots of time to master a completely new technique.

 

Quilting took a few hours and a lot of back, arm and shoulder pain from terribly bad posture.

 

 

 

 

To finish off the quilt the raw edges of the material needed to be bound, if you didn’t do this the material would fray and the wadding / batting would be lost from the quilt. I made the binding using a fat quarter from the polka dot material I bought. I used my stripology ruler and cut 2.5 inch strips and then joined them together.

 

The raw edges of the binding and the raw edges of the quilt are lined up and then I used the sewing machine to sew the binding onto the front of the quilt. I had an absolute nightmare with the binding. After sewing it on I had to unpick it as I had sewn too far over and not left myself enough binding  to pull over to the reverse of the quilt. It took me over an hour to unpick. I was also having a disastrous time with mitred corners. So I have done the best I can. Once I was “happy” with how the binding was sewn onto the front I then settled down for a few hours of slow sewing whilst I ladder stitched the binding onto the back.

 

This process took ages as the polka dot material was quite thick. I have ended up with blister’s on my thumb, forefinger and middle finger. There is also a bit of my DNA in the quilt as I lost count how many times I stabbed myself! Finally the quilt was finished.

The very last job left to do was to sew the label onto the quilt. This was a personal message to my mum, so I won’t be sharing. However it also covers who it was quilted by, on what date and what the design is called. I have named it Cat & Mouse.

It’s quite exhilarating finishing a quilt but it can also leave you feeling a little flat. You are overjoyed at what you have accomplished but for me I have lost that drive of what I have to achieve for the day. I really hope my mum likes it.

update:

It was gifted to her on 1st September and she was thrilled to bits with it.

 

 

Sewing Secrets

I am officially one of the worlds worst secret keepers! How I have managed to keep the following items a secret over the last few weeks is beyond me. When I make something for someone I always want to give it to them immediately  or I accidentally let slip what it is. This time however I have been strong even though it has been incredibly hard.

 

A few times recently in blog posts I have said that I have been unable to share what I have been making that week due to it being a present. Thankfully I can now share with you my makes – which I am incredibly proud of as these two birthday girls have received their gifts.

 

Imogen will be 21 on 23rd June and is incredibly special to both me and Mr Myasthenia Kid. I discussed with him months ago what I would like to make for Imogen’s birthday and he was in full agreement. It took me a little while to source the material as I wanted all kinds of Unicorn fabric but I also wanted it in Pink and Grey so it wasn’t over the top girly.  The first item I made was a 20 inch square cushion cover in a Dresden Plate design

 

I had a bit of a nightmare with the cushion pad as although it was sold as a 20 inch cushion pad, it was actually a lot bigger. I, being a novice and idiot didn’t think to measure the cushion pad before I started making the cushion. I just presumed that if something was being sold as a 20 inch square cushion pad that is exactly what it would be.  So when I placed the cushion pad inside the cover it looked terrible – in fact stuffed sausage would be an accurate description. I was almost in tears as I had worked so hard. So I decided to measure my completed cushion cover and make my own cushion pad to fit it. I used my overlocker to do the edges of the cushion pad and the ladder stitched it closed once I had placed the stuffing inside. I took apart the bought cushion pad and ended up with two nice squares of white fabric and a little excess stuffing.

I also wanted to make Imogen a quilted patchwork Tote bag. I had already made one as a project in my subscription box was this exact thing and they had sent out 42 charm squares, lining and webbing for it to be completed. I had really enjoyed putting it together and couldn’t get over how much I was using the bag as it was so roomy yet so light weight. So I made my own charm squares and bought the webbing online andknocked up one for Imogen.

 

 

I scotch guarded both the cushion and the bag to help resist stains. Imogen can be a little clumsy the same way I can. I also gave washing and ironing instructions with each.

 

Last week on the spur of the moment I decided to add something extra to Imogen’s gift. I had been doing some redwork for my other friends gift but want to change it up a bit so I found a  unicorn design online, unfortunately there is no attribution for this work so I can’t give credit to the artist. I did change it up just slightly by putting a heart around it and not using the words that had been printed under the design. Here is the finished item

 

 

I have filled the inside of the cushion with a mixture of stuffing and dried lavender. It smells divine and the whole house smelt of it for a few hours as I filled several lavender pillows that day. I again provided washing instructions / care instructions just in case. Imogen was given her gifts on Saturday. The message she sent me after opening them was so lovely it made me cry, then Imogen’s mum Helen sent me a message in the evening which was really lovely too and that made me cry as well. It’s really nice when you have spent hours working on an item and the person is overwhelmed by it and is truly grateful for them.

 

My oldest Exmouth friend Ellie also has a birthday in June ( not until the 30th but with works schedules etc it was difficult to know when I would see her next) . I gave her the gifts I had made this morning.

 

This is a redwork lavender pillow. The redwork design was free from a site called https://www.birdbraindesigns.net/ which has some really lovely designs on there. I added my own embellishments to the design and also added Ellie’s initial to make it even more personal.

 

 

This has again been filled with stuffing and lavender. It’s a lovely small size that could be placed under a pillow or in a drawer to leave the scent of lavender behind. I have really enjoyed doing the redwork and have made several more as gifts for people. They take me several hours to do but I really enjoy sewing them. The stitches on these and the unicorn cushion are very basic just a running stitch, back-stitch and french knot are all that are needed to create something that can look quite stunning.

 

The second part of Ellie’s gift had been in the planning stages for ages. I was scared to start it as it was something different than I had ever made before. Plus I kept adding to the level of difficulty. It was the first time I had used the product Odecoat which ( depending on how much you use) can make something totally waterproof. I did enough to make the item water-resistant / stain resistant inside and out.  This was also the first time I had used my machines embroidery functions, I also used the memory function. I used an iron on stabiliser as well and proper embroidery thread. So it was a project of firsts. The pattern comes from Lucy Brennans blog / website https://www.charmaboutyou.com/ and the pattern is the #pieceofmepouch. It’s so stunning and once I had my head around it not difficult to make. I also have to say a massive thank you to Lucy who helped me out when I was being a bit dim and not understanding the pattern. Lucy is always so encouraging and supportive, I can’t thank her enough.

 

 

This week I also had to make my dads father’s day gift.This had been rattling around in my brain for weeks. I knew I wanted to make him something that was special and a one-off but what. I decided after gaining confidence making the piece of me pouch that I could use aspects of that and make my dad a bag to carry his (clean and empty) dog poo bags. I decided that I wanted curved edges on the top, that I wanted it to be 3D rather than 2D. I wanted a loop on the back so he could attach it to a belt and I also wanted a clip on it so that should he not be wearing a belt he could attach it to his belt loops. It also had to be small enough that it would impede his walking.

 

In my mind’s eye I could see exactly what I wanted so last Wednesday morning I sat with an empty bonio box ( dog biscuits)  in front of me and made my template. I used Odecoat again to help make the fabric water-resistant and to make it a bit stiffer. Also when I quilted it, I made the lines much closer together as I knew this would make it much more rigid. I am delighted with the way it’s turned out. Unfortunately due to a series of events out of both of our control I have been unable to give it to him as yet. I am pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog – mum does so I will be safe posting it here.

 

 

My last make of the week was this Owl stuffed toy for Jamie, it was his father’s day present from the dogs.

 

I absolutely adore this and it looks so cool on his bed! So far the dogs have left it alone.

 

* * *

Health wise I have been up and down. The heat had been causing a lot more ptosis than normal. I can really feel the mestinon wearing off after a few hours so I have had to been really strict with my dosing schedule. As once I get full-blown ptosis it can be difficult to shift.

 

I managed to have a large abscess develop under my breast due to the chronic skin condition Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Tuesday afternoon this decided to erupt and immediately go into cellulitis. My breast was so painful I couldn’t wear a bra. Thankfully the antibiotics had it  gone right down within 3 days.

 

A few days over this last week I have been woken up in the night in a lot of pain with a headache ( not a migraine) . I managed to work out on Sunday that it had been due to the position I had been holding my neck in whilst sewing. This was causing me pain through my collar-bone and deep into the soft tissue of my neck. This was then causing me to have awful headaches. I actually got very paranoid that my CSF leak was back, until Mr Myasthenia Kid pointed out that Leak headaches don’t start when you are lying down, they start on sitting up. This headache was with me whatever position I was in. It was not a leak headache more poor posture due to the heat making my muscles weaker than normal.

 

This morning I woke up with a bad pain under my sternum and a burning feeling in the back of my throat. I immediately worked out that when I had taken my 4am antibiotic (despite drinking loads) it had become stuck in my gullet. The tablet had dissolved in the back of my throat and burnt the tissue. I have been drinking gaviscon straight from the bottle and drinking only water to settle it down. It is feeling better than it was but there is still a burning pain. I have had issues with taking capsules for years due to problems with my swallowing. This just highlights again how much weaker this has become during the heat.

 

So although it may seem like I must be doing ok because I have sewn loads don’t let online appearances fool you. Everyday I am on the maximum amount of painkillers I can take as my back is so awful at the moment I have been having pins and needles in both legs. I’m either too hot and feeling faint or feeling cold thanks to my wonky Autonomic nervous system. I am just determined to do my best every day and be the best that I can be and let the creative juices flow. It is what makes me happy. It doesn’t take away all the shitty  health conditions I am living with every day of my life.