Weblog (home)


Pattern of
the Month

On the Needles
(...and Off the Needles)



About the
Idle Hands

Archive Entries for January 2009

« December 2008 | Main | February 2009 »

Saturday January 31, 2009

Books in January

Just one solitary book for this month. I have a pile of books to read but have been so caught up in my work and other hobbies that I have not read many real books. I actually had to make a trip to the library to renew my books this month, as I had had them loan for so long. This was my bedtime talking book all this month, along with a couple of the BBC radio plays. SignoftheFour.jpg

  • The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle [read by Derek Jacobi]
    An old favourite (for me) and an interesting choice of reader. He does well enough in his narration as Watson but is occasionally stretched when giving voice to the ne'er-do-well "Jonathan Small". This story almost follows the Doyle formula for the Holmes novels, being a book within a book, and consequently, Small has a large part of the narrative while telling his life's tale of adventures abroad.

  • SittafordMystery.jpg The Sittaford Mystery BBC Radio Play
    The play stars Stephen Tompkinson, and also John Moffatt - though not in his usual role as Hercule Poirot, who does not appear in this novel. The detective is, instead, an "Inspector Narracott", (who was used again by AC in a 1954 radio play). It was interesting to compare this radio play to the altered version of the novel used in the recent TV adaptation "Marple" - where Miss Marple was simply added into the cast of characters - perfectly suitably I thought...

Posted on January 31, 2009 at 10:41 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Monday January 26, 2009

Getting ahead...

While packing away the Christmas decorations, I resolved that this year I really would make my planned quilted Christmas cushion covers (from the vast collection of Christmas fabrics I have been amassing over the years for this very project*). As I admired the cheerful "quick" cushion covers I made in 2007, I realised how great it was to be able to simply decorate the house in Advent, and not have the mad dash of trying to make decorations at the same time as all those last minute gifts. It occurred to me that I should make my patchwork before the decorations were stored away - maybe while still feeling a bit Christmassy.
So here they are - doing a twirl before joining the others in the box.


It took me a day of messing about with the fabrics before coming up with these (rather conventional) designs - and that with the aid of some books - plus I had to buy a couple of extra neutrals to properly blend in. On top of that, once started, I got carried away with the pleasure of it all, and I did actually back and quilt the patchwork, and finished the covers off with a zip.
So:- I'm ready. (Well... ready to disguise my cushions anyway).

I made the pieces using the foundation method that I learnt on a Rowan workshop. I was very smitten by this technique, though, Sheila, (with whom I went), has no time for it at all. It suits the way I work very well. The pattern is drawn on a paper, you put your patches roughly on the back of the paper, then sew through the front, following your accurate lines, and voila! ...perfect seams.


You have to put very little effort into the preparation of your pieces, but the result produces those lovely crisp corners. In fact for very narrow angled corners, (such as in Kaffe Fassett's flag designs), this is really the only way to successfully execute them. Each time when I turn the papers over, I am astonished anew at how perfect the patching seems to be. (Any imperfections seen here demonstrate how sloppy a worker I am!).

Sheila has relented somewhat on papers; she recently did a workshop on machine Sashiko, where she used the technique of sewing through a design on paper to produce the simple embroidery on a fabric underneath. The fancy thread, (which can be relatively thick), is wound onto the bobbin, so the pattern comes out on the very bottom of your layers. Originating in Japan as a form of mending clothing, sashiko is usually done with white thread on indigo fabric. Maybe more on this another time!

[*Note: didn't even make a small dent in the Christmas fabrics...]

Posted on January 26, 2009 at 10:53 PM. Category: Quilting.

Monday January 19, 2009

A Good Hart

I could not let the death of Tony Hart pass without mentioning the life of such an extraordinary man. Unlike many other more youthful bloggers, I remember a young man, not a favourite grandfather. He did not inspire me to go to art school, and I am not known for my ability to express myself as a true artist, but he was simply part of childhood - and without him, would Nick Park have been quite so smitten with plasticine?

If you want 15 minutes more amusement watch the full interview "Tony Hart Meets Ricky Gervais" on You Tube, where Tony reveals his favourite painting is Leonardo da Vinci's The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne - but as Gervais points out "he couldn't have done it in pasta and rice, could he?".

Posted on January 19, 2009 at 9:14 AM. Category: Art and Culture.

Thursday January 15, 2009

Wondrous strange....

I had a lovely Christmas with lots of great presents, but I had to show this one as it seems to me to be all that a gift should be. George's Mother found it in a charity shop and wasn't sure what it was - isn't it great?


As I opened it I thought it was a charka wheel - but I think I've got the right idea now. Loads of bits that all fit onto the nice little drawer at the front.
[I think there might be a couple of bits missing but it seems to work as is.]


I wanted to show a picture of it "in action", but the pegs only expand out to accommodate a 40 inch skein and the ones I have to hand are somewhat longer. However, with my Father-George patented Niddy Noddy, I hope to be able to use it with my own hand-spun skeins in the future.

Posted on January 15, 2009 at 7:08 PM. Category: Knitting.

Saturday January 10, 2009

Dragons Green

Today we travelled through our (currently weird) wintry landscape...


...to meet my sister and have a New Year lunch with cousin David at the George and Dragon at (where else?) Dragons Green. Amusingly, our satellite navigation system was unable to track down the location, and denied all knowledge of any such postal code - "there be Dragons", (obviously). However, once there, food and company, excellent!


The George and Dragon has an unusual memorial at the front, dating from the 1800s; it is dedicated to the, then, landlord's son who was apparently driven to his death by bullying from the locals. The vicar would not tolerate the grave in the churchyard because it was not "suitable". Yet the inscription contained seemingly only the mildest of rebukes: "May God forgive those who forgot their duty to him who was just and afflicted".

Posted on January 10, 2009 at 6:47 PM. Category: Days Out.

Monday January 5, 2009

Henley between the holidays

We managed to get together again with Roger and Sheelagh between Christmas and New Year. I didn't take my camera, so I had to wait for this entry, as Sheelagh sent me the photos, (and general lack of time to blog).

We met up in Henley-on-Thames for lunch there's a lot of "-on-Thames" with lots of lovely towns to visit on its banks - see Three Men in a Boat or even the more modern adventure Three Men in a(nother) Boat for details! We lunched at the Angel on the Bridge, which turned out to be just perfect - I ate one of the most perfect traditional roast beef dinners ... well... ever, maybe.


It had fine views over the sunny but cold river, and after lunch we ventured on a short walk.


Here we are looking replete - and pleased with ourselves.

GeorgeandRoger.jpg ChristinaSheelagh.jpg

Posted on January 5, 2009 at 6:34 PM. Category: Days Out.