Taking A Break

I said in my last post of 2018 that I would be resuming normal service from today 10th January (2019). However it is with a great deal of sadness that I have to break the news ( for those of you who don’t follow me on social media) that I lost my beloved nurse Frankie on 29th December 2018.

We knew his health was declining but we thought we would have at least another 6 months with him. Unfortunately he suddenly became very unwell, both Jay and I agreed that to keep him going now would be for no other reason than we were too selfish to say goodbye. 

We saw the vet and discussed it with her and she was in full agreement. She praised us for our ability to take the emotion out of the decision and do what was best for him. Despite the fact that hubby and I were bawling our eyes out, we knew that Frankie had to be put first.

I am completely bereft. I now know what the term grief stricken actually means. I feel like my heart has been ripped out. Although we still have his mum Mollie who is 14, she is Jays dog, my nurse Frankie is gone.

In Loving Memory of

Frankie Morris

07/10/06 – 29/12/18

 

Just a week later Mollie suffered a stroke and sadly passed away a week to the day her son crossed Rainbow bridge. The pain we both feel is immeasurable, to suddenly find ourselves with no dogs after having them for nearly 16 years, is devastating.  We are totally lost. The last week has been one of the most painful in my life.

We donated all the dogs food, treats and supplements to a local group helping families in need – usually caused by being switched over to the controversial benefit Universal Credit. These families have been forced to use food banks but they do not provide food for pets. We hope by donating what we had we help keep someones whole family together. To lose a pet not through death but due to the fact your circumstances have been reduced to the point where you can’t afford to feed them must be so psychologically damaging. It gives me a Jay some hope that despite our pain we may have done some good.

In loving memory of

Mollie

November 2004 – 5th January 2019 

So for this reason I am going to take a break from blogging for a bit. My heart is just not in it. I hope to be back at the end of January but if I am still not feeling it I will take as long as I need.

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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.

 

 

MOJO MIA

My writing mojo is currently MIA, on friday I found out that a lad I went to school with and kept in contact with on social media passed away aged just 44. Leaving behind his wife and daughter whom he adored.

 

This just broke me, Friday into Saturday I barely slept. I spoke to a good friend overnight via social media and was sobbing for most of the night. I also had irrationally decided that my sewing machine was a piece of crap and that I would have to buy a new one, sending the old one back. It’s funny how grief, insomnia and emotional exhaustion will leave you exhausted and utterly irrational.

 

There is nothing wrong with my sewing machine, I have had some issues with it as I had been using the wrong size bobbins. On Friday my new bobbins arrived and the machine was running better. I told myself on Saturday morning if it didn’t run ok when I gave it a quick go, then I would be contacting the company that sold it to me and asking for a refund. Of course ever since the new bobbins have been here its been running beautifully.

 

However at around 7.30am I had a complete meltdown. Jay got really worried that I was heading for a bout of depression. Thankfully despite everything that life has thrown at me since losing Willow in December, I was just expressing my grief. My friend passing away, who I had known since I was 11 and was a month older than me, was just a massive shock. I had a bloody good cry and then pulled myself together as at 8.30am a decorator was coming to paint our stairwell. I didn’t think he’d want me blubbing every five minutes.

 

As the lounge was going to be stinking of paint I decided to take the plunge and make myself my first piece of clothing from some jersey material I had bought in the Christmas sales. I had to make the pattern by working out how my favourite top was constructed. It took me all of Saturday to make the pattern, cut the fabric and then sew the body and two arms. On Sunday I hemmed the body and inserted the arms. Finally I did the neck, I am so pleased with it, purely because I made it. Yes there are mistakes in it and it will probably never be worn outside the house but I made it. It is my design loosely based on another top.

 

 

 

Today I have made a little travel sewing kit tidy. It’s been a nightmare and harder than making the top as the instructions were diabolical. Its taken me most of the day, leaving me with my back in spasm but I got to use four  different feet on my sewing machine.

 

The day this blog post is published I will be attending the funeral of my friend Pam. I think half the reason I have kept myself so busy this week is because I am dreading this day. Saying goodbye to her will break my heart. Sleep tight Pam x

2018 stumbling through

Before we start, I want to say a quick thank you to those of you who have clicked on the link over on Blogger. Thanks for bearing with me whilst I attempt to sort out my technical issues on that blogging platform.

 

Christmas and New Year have been really hard for us this year. Losing Willow so close to Christmas left us devastated and unable to summon the usual festive good will. Then just as I thought I was beginning to cope with life again and not merely stumbling through, my grandmother passed away. On the day it happened I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was back to stumbling through. And now today Wednesday 24th January marks a year since we lost our friend Andrew. Is it wrong for me to want 2018 to do one already?

 

Immediately after Willows passing, we were both struggling to sleep, with me having constant nightmares about losing either Mollie or Frankie ( losing them physically as in going missing whilst on a walk) and hubby  struggled as every time he closes his eyes, he saw Willow in her final moments. And although it was peaceful, it was still traumatic for him. If you have never loved a pet as part of the family, you will never understand the level of grief we are feeling. I thought losing a dog due to old age would be easier than when we lost Travis before his third birthday. How wrong I was it hurts at the same level but in different ways. This time I didn’t have the guilt of not doing enough (even though there was nothing we could have done for Travis). I just missed her and all her annoying habits. She was a very soppy dog who believed humans only existed to fulfil her need for constant cuddles. To have a sea of bonio crumbs in my bedroom doorway again, would mend my broken heart completely.

 

We are bereaved, our hearts are heavy and tears come very easily (and they come very easily some days). Yet there are people out there who have been incredibly insensitive to our loss despite having suffered a bereavement in their own lives at some point. Who seem to forget what we have been through (when they should know better) or do not think it warrants the level of grief we are feeling.  I received a message from someone I only know on social media informing me I should be making an effort for Christmas, after I had said I had lost all my Christmas spirit. Had there not been the possibility of  some repercussions (now I just don’t care) if I had told them to fuck off, I had to bite my tongue and thank them for their offensive message. I would never dream of telling someone how to grieve especially less than 24 hours after they have lost a relative / friend or pet. But apparently I was fair game because after all it was just a dog. I hope the person who sent me the message reads this blog post and realises what an utter C**T I think you are. I apologise to those of you who can’t abide bad language but there really is no other word to explain how I feel about them and still do.

 

Emotions are running high, I can’t help that. The only thing that is bringing me joy is my sewing at the moment because I have to concentrate 100% on that and can escape reality. However I can’t do that 24/7. In the days immediately after Willows passing I sewed for hours every day. I ended up with a bad EDS flare and probably a touch of arthritis thrown in for good measure. My fingers were swollen like sausages and I couldn’t bend them without squeaking with the pain.

Losing the ability to sew and distract myself made it very hard. Which in turn left me feeling very low, I was counting down the days until Jay was off work for Christmas. It was very hard as his work schedule meant he had a lot of late finishes, which since Willows passing I found very difficult to cope with. I have no idea why the evenings were so bad, as I am normally in bed by 7pm but I really struggled with being alone in the evenings.

 

Things are slowly getting easier, I actually feel present now rather than feeling like I am operating through another dimension. I am crying very easily and I haven’t been a crier for years. I miss Willow everyday but I can talk about her now without losing it completely.

I need to say thank you to all of those who sent Jay and I messages, cards, wine, chocolate! We were totally overwhelmed by all the love and support we received. So many of you knew Willow and what a cuddle whore she was (cuddle whore was one of her many nicknames). And even those of you who have never met her or Jay and I, have sent us such beautiful messages. For the first week or so I struggled to read them as I was crying so hard. We are still receiving messages now from complete strangers who just know my little family through the power of blogging. I am touched that you have taken the time to reach out to us and express your sympathy. Actions like those restore your faith in humanity.

 

I am hoping to get back into blogging properly very soon, I needed to write this to just get it out there and off my chest. Pretty much like any other blog post of mine. I don’t think 2018 is going to be any kinder, both Frankie and Mollie are quite old for Weimaraners 11 & 13, Jay and I accept that. We know that being a pet owner comes with the responsibility of always putting them first, even when it breaks your heart.

 

Apologies for my absence

It’s been a hellish few weeks of late, firstly losing our dog Willow on the 15th December and then my Grandmother passing away three weeks and one day later. In between that we also had to deal with Frankie (Willow’s brother) also being horrendously ill. Add in the constant headaches I had been suffering since Willow passed away, I hadn’t been in the mood for writing, nor if I am honest did I care. I have simply been putting one foot in front of the other in an attempt just to get through this.

 

If you don’t follow me on Facebook or Instagram you’ll have been left in lurch and wondering what on earth has been going on for me to not post for so long. It’s been a while since I have taken a break from blogging, years in fact but this was needed to sort myself out. I am not there yet, there are still days filled with tears and a physical pain in my heart. I just wanted to quickly update those of you who are unaware of what has been going on, that I am ok and that I just needed some time.

 

Hopefully from next week I will be publishing again on a regular basis. I say hopefully as the universe keeps throwing things my way…………..

Reindeer…

Currently we are nursing a poorly dog, Willow. We and the vets don’t know what is wrong with her, we are awaiting test results. She isn’t eating, she is sick every time she goes out for a walk and she has lost 4 kilos in weight. She was overweight to begin with so her weight is spot on for her breed now. However to us she looks skinny. It is a worrying time, as she has had cancer in the past and we just don’t know if it has returned and it’s the beginning of the end.

 

She is an old girl by Weimaraner standards at 11 but she is still pretty mental. She is the maddest of our three always hysterically excited to go for a walk, always first when there is food about. So to have her not herself is very strange. We probably won’t know until tomorrow afternoon Thursday 14th December what is wrong with her, well after the blog post has been published.

 

I try to keep busy as with so much going on at the moment it is very stressful. At the moment I have been making something just for me. A soft toy Reindeer. It is exceptionally difficult for me to make, for the second time in two days I have had to walk away from it before I lose the plot. I thought the head would be the most difficult thing to do. I did mess up the antlers but I managed to do the head without having to unpick it constantly. I haven’t managed that with the body. It is driving me nuts but I will get there. I want to be able to make things like this. It is however an enormous leap from making stars to making a Reindeer with numerous panels and darts to sew. I should have gone for something that was midway between a star and a soft toy. Once this has been completed though I will have learnt an awful lot.

 

I am exhausted due to all the stress and worry in my life at the moment. So I am sorry this isn’t a long post. Hopefully next week I shall be able to tell you what is going on with Willow.

 

Reindeer head

A loss for words

It doesn’t happen very often but I really hate it when it does. I am at a complete loss for words this week. There is no topic that I want to write about and no real news to tell you all.

 

There is a lot going on in my life but it’s not stuff I want to share as it’s not directly about me but I am impacted by it.

 

My current state of health isn’t brilliant I am still recovering from the trip to the Emma Bridgewater Factory in Stoke-on-Trent. I get tired very quickly and find I am out of energy most days by the time I have had a shower. I have a lot of joint pain but that is pretty normal with the change in the seasons. At the moment it’s just a case of continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

 

I am starting to feel a bit panicky about Christmas, normally I am finished with my christmas shopping by 10th November with it all wrapped and ready to be taken to the various places it needs to go. This year….I have bought two gifts! I don’t know what’s going on, I am just not feeling it.

 

So this week, this is all I can write. Hopefully next week I will be back up and running again, firing on all cylinders. I need to find those words again that are currently alluding me.