Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Juggling many things

It's over a month since I last posted on my blog. There just seems to be so much going on in my life! The main thing is that my husband, the Great Golfer, and I have decided to retire! He is 74 and I am 67, so retirement shouldn't be a surprise. With no immediate family in the UK, nowhere to live and very little money, we have decided to return to South Africa after 12 years of living my dream here in England. My emotions are a little like a yo-yo but I guess that is to be expected.

Besides having to decide about what to keep and send to South Africa and what to get rid of, I have been busy sewing. I had a table at a little craft fair on 24 May, so that kept me busy. I have had a number of orders to do as well, and managed to complete those today: a cushion cover and a toilet roll holder. Just when I think I'm getting on top of things, I am asked to make an urgent birthday present for a lady turning 104. Then there's our church Garden Party to prepare for; it will take place in our garden on 21 June and I am helping with the craft table.

I will finish work at the end of June and, hopefully, I will have time in July to sort out our possessions. We plan to leave the UK in the middle of August, first going to Bahrain to spend a couple of months with our son and his family there, before continuing to Durban, where we are hoping to settle near our other son and his family.At the moment I am trying to decide whether to take a table at a local craft fair and see if I can sell some of my left-over bags. As I said in the title for this post: I feel as though I am juggling too many balls in the air!

Here are some of my recent makes:
A zimmer frame bag for the lady who turns 104:

A back pack for a lady who walks with two sticks:

A couple of Knotted Bow clutch bags for a colleague; here's one of them:

I have my sewing goals set for tomorrow: two waist bags for a colleague (the bags that gave me the name, 'The Bag Lady') and a shopping bag or two for the Garden Party. With the Government about to charge 5p for a plastic bag, I hope we will sell some shopping bags! I know that the house needs cleaning but it's all I can do to keep up with the laundry! If I could just close my eyes and open them in two months' time, it would be wonderful!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Mug swap 2014

I joined in with Cupcake Mumma's (Hannah Brooker) mug swap again this year and it was fun, once again! I was matched with Debbie Jeffery, who told me, amongst other things, that she likes horses and writing and all things to do with the post. I found a mug with postcards on it and decided to make a mug rug to go with it. I used some horsey fabric for one side and made the other like a postcard, complete with appliqued stamp and message. I even made a card (not really my 'thing') and embellished it with some rather attractive stamps from South Africa and Swaziland.

I told Debbie that poppies are my favourite flowers and she sent me not one, but two beautiful poppy mugs and a lovely variety of hot chocolate, tea and coffee to have in my mugs.

Thank you to Debbie for my mugs and thank you to Hannah for organsing the mug swap!

Friday, 4 April 2014

More Spring sewing

It's been such a treat to have this week off between shifts at work! I've spent most of the time during the days sewing, except for Tuesday. I have a friend, a colleague from work, who organises a lunch for three of us about once a month and we got together on Tuesday. We enjoyed a few hours together and shared some laughs. Times like that are good for the soul!

On Monday afternoon I spent some time with the ladies who run our Community Cafe in the village. They want to have some place mats for the tables in the Cafe but neither of them are very experienced sewers. I cut out the mats at home and thought we would get on with the sewing but, for the second time, the rather old sewing machine one of them had borrowed, didn't want to work. So one pinned the layers of the mats together, I sewed them together, and the other lady trimmed them and turned them the right way around. I've brought them all home and will try to fit in the rest of the sewing in between what I'm doing.

I made some more Easter Egg bags and they are now on sale at the Community Cafe.

I made another Spring Bag using fabric left over from a bag I made for my daughter-in-law. It has a matching pouch and bamboo handles. I think it looks very fresh and 'cool'.

Last year, when I was in South Africa, I bought a couple of pieces of fabric. With the start of the Tour de France due to take place in Yorkshire, I thought a Bicycle Bag would be appropriate. It has leather handles.

The World War I commemorative fabric has arrived. I have been wondering what to make with it and then thought of the song, 'Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag ...'. So I'm going to make some kit bags; not big ones, just small ones that will take some sports shoes or that kind of thing.

I think I might have done enough sewing for this week. Perhaps I should do some housework and ironing tomorrow. I like the saying, 'A clean house is the sign of a broken sewing machine.' My machines are both working perfectly!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Some happy, bright sewing

A few bright, sunny spring days and flowering daffodils have had an effect on me. Some time ago I unearthed some fabric from my stash and decided I would like to make a bag like the one on the cover of a book I'd bought: Patchwork Bags by Cecilia Hanselmann. Here is my adaptation of the pattern:

I had bought the bamboo handles several years ago and they seemed to suit the bag nicely. The bag has a firm base, two internal slip pockets and a matching purse/make-up bag.

Carrying on with the spring theme and using more of my stash, I made a little bag for collecting Easter eggs.

I think it is rather cute and keep going to take a peek at it! I have started a bag with a chicken on it, so I'll see how that goes. Hopefully, there will be some people who want to buy a bag in which to put their Easter eggs!

Monday, 24 March 2014

My first blog of 2014!

This year seems to be flying by and I'm only writing my first blog of 2014 three months after my last blog! I do have one rather big excuse, though.

In February I went to South Africa for three weeks.My main reason for the trip was to celebrate my sister's 70th birthday with her and, of course, there was the added bonus of seeing my son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren as well as my brother and sisters-in-law. I also had a great time catching up with friends. It was a wonderful time and I'm so pleased I went.

 I decided last year that I would go for my sister's birthday; if I hadn't gone, I would never have known what I had missed. My niece organised a wonderful gathering the day before her birthday and then we had a happy day together on her actual birthday. As a big surprise, my nephew flew out from Scotland for his mother's birthday, so that made it extra special. Here I am with my sister and brother-in-law:

February is the hottest month of the year in KwaZulu-Natal and I really felt it! On the Saturday before I left for home, I went to uShaka, a water park on the Durban beach front, with my son and his family and one of my sisters-in-law. We all enjoyed cooling off in the water!

As usual, I returned home with a few pieces of fabric to add to my stash! I haven't used them yet but I've done some sewing since coming home. My first sewing task was to make 40 table napkins for the care home where I work. They look so easy to make but are actually quite time consuming.

I've also tried my hand at making these wooden bead and fabric necklaces. I bought two at a charity shop in Durban and thought I'd give them a go. Softer fabric certainly works better than stiff shwe-shwe fabric from South Africa. They are quite effective, though.

Last weekend I went to London to help my Durban daughter-in-law promote her business at an exhibition in Kensington. Imagine my delight when I found out that the Spring Stitching and Knitting Show was on in the same exhibition centre, the Olympia! I managed to spend a short time wandering around the many stalls and stands. It was all rather overwhelming! I managed to resist temptation except for a few small purchases. But more of that later, as well as my current sewing projects. 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A look back at 2013

It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the build up to Christmas! There have been many Carol Services and other church activities, let alone shopping for food and making gifts, and we seem to go from one appointment on the calendar to another. So I thought I'd spend a little time reflecting on the past year and reminding myself of the things that have happened in our lives.

January got off to a pretty cold start and winter stayed with us for several months.

I did have a break from the snow and cold when I visited Chay and Sharon, Tarryn and Angus in Bahrain in February. It was so good to see where they live and get an idea of what their lives are like there.

In May, Ian and I went to South Africa for a few weeks and had a wonderful time in the Natal Midlands, where we spent two weeks at Whispering Waters. Friends and family were able to come and visit us for a day or two and we had a great time catching up in the beautiful countryside.

We were able to see Sean and Allison's new home in Durban and catch up with many of the family members when Ian baptised our great nephew, Kaelan Faul.

In July Sharon and the children came to the UK for the summer holidays to get away from the intense heat in Bahrain and it was wonderful to have them here as they used our home as a base from which to go off and visit friends and then come back again.

A special treat was to have Chay stay with us for two weeks. No surprise as to what he and Ian did!

In October, Ian and I managed to go to the Lake District for a week. It was a much needed time of rest and relaxation! We swam every morning in the heated pool at the resort where we stayed and just soaked in the beauty and tranquillity of the scenery.

The year has not been all holidays and fun, though! I have done my share at work, doing two shifts a week plus several extra shifts as well and my nearly-67 year old body is telling me that this kind of work is very strenuous, both physically and mentally! My sewing has kept me busy and I have made many bags of all shapes and sizes as well as other items, such as metres of bunting! Sewing certainly gives me a lot of pleasure and fills many hours. Other people seem to appreciate it as well as I seem to have a reasonable flow of orders.

Ian has had a busy year in the church; there are not enough full-time clergy to take care of the parishes so he often has more than one service a Sunday as well as baptisms, weddings and funerals. Fortunately, he still manages to play golf regularly and enjoys the company of his golfing partners.

As we come to the end of 2013 and look ahead to next year, we do so in faith. Ian will be 74 in a couple of weeks and is now on a yearly contract with the Diocese, so we might have to rethink our lives in the middle of 2014. Who knows where we will be next Christmas? I will continue in my care work, which I do to support Ian in his ministry as he gets the house in return for the work he does but no stipend. I am going to South Africa at the end of January for three weeks as it is my sister's 70th birthday and I decided a long time ago that I would spend that time with her. Thank goodness for the money I have invested in South Africa as it pays for my air ticket!

I have some plans for my sewing: I have some fabric suitable for spring/summer bags as well as a piece I intend using to make a few bags to celebrate the start of the Tour de France in Yorkshire. I also have quite a lot of African-themed fabric and I intend buying some more in February so I will have a range of bags which I shall call, 'A Taste of Africa'. I am still trying to pluck up the courage to start an online shop; maybe this will happen in 2014!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Busy November

November was a very busy month! I did several extra shifts at work as one of my colleagues was off sick and I seemed to spend all the time I could sewing. I made items for two craft fairs as well as filling a couple of orders. From tomorrow I will be working hard on orders I have for Christmas.

Considering all the time and effort I put into the craft fairs, after today's I wonder if it is worth it! I sold two items and managed to cover the cost of my table! Oh well, I know what some people will be getting for Christmas presents! I'm also organising a Pop-In Christmas Shop here in our village so will have a table there. I do prefer sewing to order, I think. I had an order for two patchwork tote bags and the person for whom I made them was pleased with what I had done. Here they are:

The blue one is made from shwe-shwe fabric, manufactured in South Africa and popular with African women because it is so hard-wearing.

The manager of the Keyingham Community Café here in our village, asked me to make her some Christmas bunting with stockings on it. They were pleased with it and I think it looks quite cute.

Now I have a stock of tote bags, pencil cases, make-up bags etc. Maybe it's time to start my online shop... At least I know that the sewing I'll be doing in the next couple of weeks is all going to be done to order!