Wednesday, May 31, 2023

London Adventure--Day 8

View of the Thames from the Sky Garden
Day eight in London was a big day. I had a massage with Kelly at SEO1. Osteo and Rehab Clinic. She recently has opened a new location. When I was in London last year, I had massages with her regularly. If you are in Central London and have the time, book a massage with her. She has been a positive factor in my physical improvement. Plus, her original office space is about a five minute walk from Nicole's flat!

The Gherkin in the background
Next, we walked over Tower Bridge and around the Tower of London on our way to our first destination. That destination was the Sky Garden. It is about a half hour walk to the Sky Garden. When I visited Nicole last year, I was on the hunt for activities to do and places to see that were low cost. I was excited when I uncovered this place through a Google search. When I shared my find with Nicole, she said she already knew about it because before the pandemic she went there often for yoga!

View of the Shard
You do have to book tickets to the venue; but, there isn't a cost. I thought the garden was the main attraction; but, it is the 360 degree view that is the attraction. There are plants and trees artfully arranged in the space. Some plants were flowering each time I've visited. Likely the garden isn't what is going to make you want to capture a photo! If you click on the link above, you can take a virtual tour of the garden. I enjoyed how the various landmarks are etched into the glass. It is so easy to spot each landmark! 

Showing off the height of the trees
Security is both uniformed and plain clothed. Once in the garden, we often have a coffee and enjoy the views again. We haven't eaten at the restaurants. The coffee is enough.

Hanging out with Auntie at the Sky Garden
After the Sky Garden visit, we took the tube to The Langham House for afternoon tea. One can't visit England and not book an afternoon tea. High tea is an amazing experience. Each time I'm in London, Nicole and I book a tea. Afternoon tea was on Miss K's list. Before our trip, she and her mama went shopping for proper tea attire! She told me sparkle heels were a must accessory for her outfit!

Langham House elevator
We enjoyed the pianist and his music. 

Enjoying the music
The children's tea started with a variety of sandwiches cut into a jig saw puzzle shape.

Jigsaw sandwiches

We had sandwiches too!

Miss K made use of the cream for her tea. She carefully added a few drops to each cup of tea!

Adding cream
The second course were the desserts. 
Dessert array
Our desserts were just as stunning to view and to eat.
Our dessert array
Serving the desserts before the scones surprised us. We were expecting scones and clotted cream; but, then I usually enjoy the scones and am too full to eat the desserts. It was the other way around this time. I ate dessert and took the scones home!
Enjoying a scone
It was a cold, windy day and Miss K saved a scone for the doorman who had greeted us warmly when we arrived. He had told us to enjoy our tea. He reported that the scones were particularly delicious. She saved a scone for him and carefully wrapped it up.

Dressed to meet the doorman
Was he surprised to have received it! She told him that she wanted him to have a snack to tide him over to his dinner. He thanked her and we were off. As we rounded the corner we heard, "Miss, Miss, One moment please!" He was bounding after us. He dropped to her height and presented her with a gift as he said the rules of the job prohibited him from receiving gifts unless he gave one. . . which was a small box of candy! We have no photos to document the event; but, it is a terrific memory!

Oxford and Regent street area
We walked to Oxford and Regent streets. Bond Street is the name of the underground stop. This is where the high end stores are located. We did walk through Selfridges--the shop that packages purchases in the iconic yellow bags.
Queen of Time Sculpture
We even spotted the Queen of Time clock. It was built around 1909 and this was a place where people would meet. Now that we have clocks in our phones, I wonder how many people would realize it is there.
Shopping at St. Christopher's Place
Then we walked to St. Christopher's Place. This is a pedestrian only space and there are unique shops to see.
Reviewing the history of the area 
At one point when there were a lot of vacant shops, this space was slated to be demolished and rebuilt with office buildings. Lucky for the population, a developer named Robin Spiro felt that there was room to blend the old with the new. It is a vibrant area today. It is unique in that it is a pedestrian only shopping space. 

We hopped on the tube to return us to Central London. All the events were a nice way to celebrate our last full day in London.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Christmas Stocking--A Finish!

Beginning to pair the pieces with fabric
Goal number four on my May list was to sew a Christmas stocking for our youngest granddaughter. I thought that I would make progress on the project last month; but, I only selected the fabric and located the pattern. 

I clipped the ReNae Merrill pattern from a September 2009 issue of a magazine.  I thought that it would take me three days to make the stocking.  It took me about seven!

First, I spent a day prewashing the fabric. I spent a day cutting out the fabric. I also printed and prepared the pattern pieces. There are 147 pieces in the spirals. Keeping the pieces organized, sewing them in the correct order was a feat! 

I decided to use a glue stick to adhere the papers to the fabric. I cut the pieces out with at least a quarter inch seam allowance. I tried the Dollar Store brand glue stick, the SewLine glue pen, Elmers Glue stick and Elmers regular glue.

Fabric cut and ready for paper piecing
I liked how easy it was to remove the papers with the Dollar Store brand, Jot, from the fabric. It was, however, a challenge to get the paper to stick to the fabric. The regular Elmers was too wet. The SewLine glue pen and the Elmers glue stick had similar results. I used as light as possible application of the Elmers glue stick.

Cutting a different fabric for the body of the sock
At the last minute, I decided to switch out the red print fabric for the body of the sock, to the purple hand dye. The reason for the switch was I had a plan for the center of the spirals. I decided I would like the end result better if the center fabric matched the sock body fabric.

Slowly creating the spiral
Even though this is a paper foundation piecing project, I decided not to sew through the paper. Instead, I tacked the first piece to the paper. For the rest of the pieces, I folded the paper out of the way before stitching the seam. This technique allowed me to pull the center off the paper foundation. The foundation was intact so there was no paper removal.

Sock ready for embellishment
Once I finished piecing the three sections, I stitched the sections together. The directions used a three eighths seam allowance. This size seam allowance worked well. Next it was time to add the embellishment in the center of those three spirals.

Embroidered letters
Using my embroidery module, I determined the size and font of letter that filled the center hexagon shape. I embroidered a number of letters before I found the font and size I felt worked the best. I had sweaty palms when it came to doing the actual embroidery! The process went well even though it took me all day to embroider three letters!

Back of the finished stocking
Next, I layered the front and the back of the stocking and quilted each. For the back of the stocking, I used the printed fabric lines on the lining as quilting lines. I used a red aurifil cotton thread.

Thread and detail of quilting
For the front of the stocking, I stitched in the ditch in all the seams with a cotton Masterpiece thread made by Superior Threads. For the background of the stocking I quilted spirals and in the background behind the letters, I quilted bubbles in a thread that was close to the color of of the background.

Finished stocking

Once I finished the quilting, I stitched the front and back together. I added the cuff and hanger. I'm considering adding a label somewhere. I used one and three quarters yards of stash for this project. This brings my total of stash used this year to three quarters of a yard! Once I finish some other larger projects, I'll be able to document even more stash usage!

This project was made from scraps so I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A London Adventure--Day 7

Tasting cheese
Day seven in London found us adjusting our agenda a bit because the previous day we had learned that Miss K did indeed want to go to a cheese shop and she wanted to see the Rosetta Stone! 

This time, we rode the bus to Borough Market. We arrived as Neal's Yard Dairy shop opened which was 9:30am. There are rounds and bricks of cheese stacked on shelving in the shop that has ceilings as high as one would find in a warehouse. 

You can sample cheeses. The staff are knowledgeable about where the cheese originated. If you are looking to pair cheeses for a meal or charcuterie board, the staff offer great suggestions. 

I'm a non cow cheese eater. Cow dairy disrupts my digestive track. I can eat goat and sheep cheeses so there were plenty of options for me to try too. 

After we had sampled the cheese and purchased several, we were off to the British Museum. Yes, we had already been there; but, we didn't know that Miss K wanted to see the Rosetta Stone. We hopped on a bus and rode to the museum.

Viewing the Rosetta Stone
In my previous visits, I had only seen the top of the stone because there were a lot of people also viewing it. This time, each of us was able to walk all around it! Daughter Nicole folded in these additional stops as if we had planned it all along. She is an amazing tour guide.
Display of Easter eggs at Fortum and Mason

We did a little shopping at Fortnum and Mason. This is where the staff who supported Queen Elizabeth purchased the tea she drank. In fact this establishment has centuries long history of supporting the royal family. When King Charles was in school in Wales, his uncle Dickie would sometimes bring a goodie basket/hamper from this establishment.  Easter was a few weeks away when we visited. Miss K was surprised at how many different ways eggs and bunnies could be displayed! I bought a container of herbal tea.

Documenting the ride in a Black Cab
One item on Miss K's list was to ride all the different types of transportation available in London. We took a black cab to The National Gallery. This was the last type of transportation for her to ride! Black Cab drivers are unique in that they have studied the shortest/fastest routes in the city. It may take them four or five years to gain this knowledge. They receive a knowledge test.

Approaching the rear of the National Gallery
When we gave the Black Cab driver our destination, he said that there was construction in the area. He said that he was unable to drop us at the front door. He asked if he could drop us at the back of the building and that it would be less than a block walk. We benefited from his knowledge of alternate routes!

A selfie to capture the roof
The roof line inside the building is a work of art itself. 

VanGogh's Sunflowers
Inside the gallery, I wanted to see the Van Gogh Sunflower painting that was restored after oil protestors threw tomato soup at it. It looked at least as good as it did before the incident. In reading about the soup incident, the frame was what caught the majority of the soup.

Trafalgar Square

After seeing some of the art in The National Gallery, we looked at Trafalgar Square. I'm partial to the Lions. Miss K liked the water feature. From here, we walked to a small restaurant for lunch before we saw an afternoon performance of "Matilda."

Waiting in line
There were a lot of school kids at the performance. Our tickets were a long way away from the stage. But the theater was arranged so that we still had a good view of the stage. Youth made up the majority of the musical cast. I marveled at their abilities to sing while delivering a choreographed routine on razor skateboards. How fun to be paid to ride a razor skateboard!

Our bird's eye view of the stage
After the performance, we walked to Covent Garden. It was near the theater. Covent Garden is the former vegetable and fruit market. Adjacent to the market area are many cute shops and eateries. Of course, we ordered a coffee/hot chocolate from one spot and enjoyed it as we walked through the area.

Sculpture at Covent Garden
This is also a place I like to visit. The interior of the former vegetable stalls is a huge space now filled with an assortment of shops. Vendors are crammed into the space and sell all kinds of items. Many of which sport the Union Jack!

Shopping the vendor mall
There is a place in the vendor mall to take a photo between a palace guard and a police bobby.

Taking advantage of a photo op

In front of one of the stall areas is a replica of an old fashioned cart that is artfully filled with blooming plants. It doesn't matter what time of year it is, this cart is always full of color and texture. 

Posing with the flower cart display
Again it was another fun filled day. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

English Paper Piecing Wlorkshop--Zoom and in Person

Some of the EPP samples
Saturday, May 6 via Zoom, I taught a three hour English Paper Piecing (EPP) workshop. To prepare for the class, I watched a number of You Tube videos which shared a variety of basting and stitching techniques. I brushed up on my knowledge of needles. I practiced the techniques that I watched on the You Tube videos. My friend, Rosanne, lent me a number of her finished EPP projects and books. Of course, I drooled over her finishes and thumbed through the books!

Mary Ellen working on her rosette
As I pieced blocks for my Temperature quilt, I practiced stitching and talking about the process. Talking while stitching is not easy for me to do! I practiced the techniques while I talked. About a week before the class, I used my cell phone to practice being on camera while I demonstrated. 

I found that my cell phone version wasn't new enough to enable the macro setting in the Zoom application. Not being to access the macro setting meant you couldn't see what I was doing. The stitches were too small to show up on camera. 

Sandy trying out the painter's tape tip
I thought about using You Tube videos to demonstrate a technique. No video, however; demonstrated the exact process I had planned to share. 

Claudia creating her own design
In the end, I photographed each step of the process and made a slide show. The slide show worked well. I did get some feedback that the photos seemed to be backwards. I'm left handed. My whole life, I generally flip whatever I'm seeing when I'm watching a teacher. I didn't even think about flipping the photos so that the right handed people didn't have to turn the visual around in their heads. Actually, it didn't occur to me that there would be an issue. 
Paula creating a sweet floral rosette

In the end, the flow went well and there were some great looking rosettes in the making from the twelve students who attended the workshop. They had fun and I hoped that some of them would become an EPP addict. Teaching an EPP class on Zoom was goal number six on my May list.

Thursday, May 17, I taught an in person EPP class in Stevenson, Washington. This was the first time that I've taught a class outside of my guild or small group. The Columbia River Gorge Quilters held a Quiltaplooza event. This three day event was held at the Skamania Fairgrounds. There were at least eight classes, a banquet, a huge trunk show and general lecture, vendors as well as mini lectures during lunch. It was a hot day; but, our room was air conditioned which was nice!

Classes began at 9:30am. We broke for lunch at noon. There was a lunch lecture from 12:15 to 12:50pm. The lecture on Thursday, was about paring down one's UFOs. (UnFinished Objects) It was a terrific lecture. I plan to employ some of the tips the speaker shared to pare down the UFOs that I have! Class ended at 4pm.

The six participants who attended the class had some experience with some sort of hand work like knitting, crochet, embroidery, cross stitch and appliqué. At least four of the participants were new to quilting. About half of the group were interested in the technique because they had future trips planned. They wanted a project that would travel. One person brought an in process EPP project to class.

Joan and her fussy cut shapes
The participants picked up the techniques of the process quickly. They also asked the best questions. What I love about an in person classes is the camaraderie that builds among the participants. There was sharing of materials, supplies and knowledge. There was plenty of wows and congratulations as people became adapt at the knicker
knot, the whip stitch and the flat back stitch.

There were conversations about how to attach the rosettes or the hexagon shapes to a background. The samples I shared provided examples of different methods. One participant planned a contemporary design of the hexagons. I sure hope that she will share her progress as I was intrigued with her idea.

Julia arranging
her rosette in alternating fabrics
We had conversations about how to stitch with other shapes. One person brought a project that incorporated diamond shapes and she wanted to know how to line up the points. I shared the technique of how to ease the sides together so that there can be a perfect point. Learning how to accomplish points was one of my highlights when I began EPP.

We talked about using striped fabrics. We touched on the subject of piecing fabrics to make our own striped fabric. We briefly talked about how turning the shape slightly could create a myriad of design possibilities.

In the end, it was as great a day as the Zoom day! Teaching an in person EPP class was goal number seven on my May list.

Because we all used scraps, I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

A London Adventure--Day 6

The sculpture at the entrance of Tate Modern
On Day six in London, our first stop was to visit the Tate Modern museum. This is one of Nicole's favorite places to visit often. She now has a membership so she can attend the special exhibits and events at no charge. 

Viewing a sculpture
Miss K found the three tower sculpture by Hague Yang interesting, 

Her favorite exhibit was the the drawing one because it was interactive. Maybe she also liked it because what you drew was projected on the wall. She said she now had exhibited art in a museum!

Jumping off the steps at the Globe
From the museum, it was a short walk to the Shakespeare Globe Theater. The theater was on her destination list. With a little encouragement from her auntie, she delighted us with her antics of jumping off the steps.

Reading signage about the Great Hall
We walked by the Great Hall.which is almost next door to Borough Market. She liked reading the signage that described the historical site. I like the stone work. I marvel at how portions of the wall survived reconstruction, fire and war. 

Cheese straw sampling
We walked a short distance to Borough Market. This is one of my favorite places to walk around and to people watch. Miss K sampled a couple vendor's cheese straws. She said Gail's was still her favorite.

Hand pie
For lunch, I thought that she would want to go to the cheese shop or find the vendor of the grilled cheese sandwiches. Was I wrong! She said no to the cheese chop and passed up the opportunity for the grilled cheese. Since she is a connoisseure of cheese, I was shocked. Then I thought, well, maybe she isn't into cheese any more. Instead, she went with a hand pie.

Enjoying a hot drink
After we had walked through the market, we walked to Fuckoffe. Click on the link to learn the business' back story. It was a rainy day so none of us ordered a smoothie. 
Building the stander
Auntie M came over in the late afternoon and put together a "stander" for Miss A. Miss K helped with the construction. Miss A has used the stander a few times. The idea was for her to be "corralled" when Mom or Dad was in the kitchen cooking. She could watch them and perhaps, learn to help. The challenge is that Nicole learned that Miss A can reach all sorts of items that she shouldn't. . .knives being one of those items. She hasn't used the stander as much as was thought. I imagine that she will get in to it when she is a little older
Trying out the stander
When K called home, her mom asked if she'd been to a cheese shop yet. Imagine the look on Nicole's face and my face! We didn't get upset. We rearranged the schedule for Day 7 to accommodate a cheese shop visit. Perhaps, Miss K felt that she was causing us to go out of our way. Who knows?

Dinner was take out from Dishoom. Their black Dahl is one of my favorite dishes with the vegetable and lamb samosas a close second. Keira thought the chicken marsala and the naan was delicious. For every meal that is purchased, the company donates food to India. I like to support businesses that walk their talk.

Take out from Dishoom. . . delicious