Summertime

At last school is out, and as expected, despite having to be dragged protesting from their beds at 8am for the last week of term, the monkeys are up like excited meerkats at 6.30 since school officially finished. It’s as much fun as it sounds, what age does the concept of the snooze-in kick in? So we have 6 weeks ahead of adventures, trips to the seaside, the ‘crunchyside’, castles, safari parks and yes, the small matter of a house move to squeeze in. But we won’t dwell on that today. For today the sun shines and I can reflect on the last couple of bits and pieces I’ve been working on. I can see I’m not going to get anywhere near my sewing machine over the next few weeks.

These scrappy dappy doo coasters are addictive little things to run up. The pattern comes from Natural Patchwork again, just like the tea cosy. They are a great use of old wadding and scraps. I can see me churning out a lot of these in the future. I’ve used cotton wadding for both these and the tea cosy, I’d love to make some pot holders but I think I’ll wait to get some Insul-bright wadding for those.

Img_9857

This is a little sneak peak of a lovely new baby boy’s quilt I’m working on. I’m hoping to give it as a Christmas gift this year, so this is the first and last show of it I can make until the New Year. I really like all the blues and bits of red together like this, and yes it’s all from the stash. There’ll hardly be a blue left to play with by the time this is finished!

Img_9863

Thanks for reading,
Helenx

A grand day out

Just recently my parents holidayed in Kent, not with us, for which I don’t blame them one teeny bit, but on the other side of Kent, near Faversham, a good hour or so’s drive from us. Naturally we still went over for a visit. It turns out they were staying in a converted worker’s cottage set in an old orchard. Surrounded by beautiful fruit trees all dripping with ripening fruit after the amazingly warm and dry spring we enjoyed this year.

It was a day for going for country walks, climbing trees,

Img_9788

and wondering just how old this ancient Elm might be.*

Img_9799

Also a day for picking this huge pot of dark and sweet cherries from the orchard, the best I’ve ever tasted.

Img_9809
Img_9817

Then admiring the plums and apples and even a fruit I’ve never seen in real life before; medlars. Like quince this is the kind of fruit I usually think of as being a really Victorian ingredient. They are, to put it mildly, well ‘ard. The key time to eat them is when they’re practically falling in on themselves, this can take a very long time. But I’d love to have a go at cooking with them, I’ve got a great looking medlar jelly recipe I’d love to try.

Img_9814

So far all attempts to persuade my parents to rent the cottage again in ooh, mid-September have fallen on deaf ears. I’ll keep plugging away at them!

Thanks for reading,
Helenx

*the ancient elm turned out to be up to be possibly up to 1,000 years old according to this website, the kind of geeky history site I love!

Small potatoes

As ever, when a quilt gets finished I have a couple of palate cleansing smaller projects before I start another. Here is Miss Marmoset’s new PE kit bag. She is thrilled with it – ‘it’s soooo PINK!!’ – and I think it’s nice for her to have a little homemade with love stuff with her when she starts school this autumn. It’s also good because it helps make a dent in that incredibly violent shade of pink linen that I bought from an online sale last year. A learning experience, I bought a metre of so of pink linen to make some summer clothes for Miss M and some green linen to make shorts for Barbary Boy. I didn’t check the width of the linen in either case, so imagine my surprise when the fabric I’d bought turned out to be wider than long. The pink was too pink and the green, well, completely the wrong weight for summer clothes, I could’ve run up a waterproof tent from it. Anyhoodle the lesson was learnt – it’s best to buy linen in person, when you can really check the colour and weight. Barbary Boy’s PE kit bag is next, it’ll be made out of black denim, which I also bought from the same sale…

Img_9785

The second little item is a bath mat put together out of a heap of hexagons and a very old, and therefore very absorbent, hand towel. I’d made heaps of hexies out of these autumnal colours, but lost the love for them. They got relegated to bath mat status and while there are enough left to do another, I’m starting to wonder, can patchwork really take over an entire house? Should I give it a go?

 

Img_9626

Thanks for reading,
Helenx

Where have all the good women gone?

This is a bit of a departure from my usual witterings, but reading Alice's excellent post, Women I wish I'd known about, on positive female role models in the music industry made me start pondering the lack of decent female role models on the TV. First thing's first, it took 15 minutes to write that last sentence without it turning into a Carrie Bradshaw ('I couldn't help but wonder…') style bleat. To be clear Carrie and her Sex and the City mates aren't – for me – good female role models. They're fun, to be sure, and I've enjoyed many an evening chuckling at lives I can't ever imagine living, but female role models? Not sure I'll be sitting Miss Marmoset down with a box set in a few years and saying, 'here sweetie, be inspired'.

So I give you a wee list of some of the female characters I've found inspiring over the years…

1) Margaret Hoolihan M*A*S*H. Margaret's not what you might call a 'sympathetic' character, as in, she's not that nice really. However, she's an excellent nurse, she knows her stuff and expects to be respected for it. She's not above flirting with the attractive but misogynistic Hawkeye (attractive in the guise of Alan Alda that is, I've always wanted to thump Donald Sutherland's Hawkeye in the original film), but she won't stand to be patronised by him. She's professional at all times at work, she's hell out of it, she seperates work from play, she expects to enjoy a good sex life. This is all stuff I can get behind – even if I don't like her taste in men, jokes or politics. She doesn't have to be adorable to be effective at what she does. She doesn't have to be 'nice' to be a positive role model.

2) CJ Cregg, The West Wing. One day when I grow up I'm going to be CJ Cregg. I have quite a lot of growing to do. Everybody I know who has watched The West Wing loves CJ. She's funny, clever, kind, goofy, tough, clumsy, she gets it wrong, she fixes it, she has opinions, LOTS of opinions, she screws up she sorts it out, she's everywoman. Just in a much, much higher pressure job than most people. I'm sure part of CJ's appeal is that Alison Janney's portrayal of her was so perfect, in fact I'll still watch anything that Alison Janney is in and part of me will still be disappointed it's not CJ, however as a character  CJ Cregg is an inspiring role model. Partly because anyone who can wisecrack like she can under pressure is my hero.

3) Cagney and Lacey, Jane Tennison, Alex Drake. I've ummed and ahhed about putting in police officers. The strong female lead in police procedurals has become a bit of a trope in recent times. I've enjoyed all of these characters in their various series, (Cagney and Lacey, Prime Suspect, Ashes to Ashes), but they're usually presented as strong women, being women in a man's world. It's not that it isn't inspiring so far as it goes, but it is sobering for a couple of reasons; are there really so few senior women in the police force that a woman 'guv' is still a novelty? Also having a character presented as a woman in a man's world is still having your place in life defined by the men around you. It's a good thirty years since Cagney and Lacey hit our screens and I find this a bit depressing. The alternative to these Anglo-Saxon lady-cop portrayals is the Danish series Forbrydelsen (The Killing). The detective in charge, Sarah Lund, is focussed on her job, she's not managing her relationships/family life so well because of the job, so far, so familiar. However, her immediate colleague Jan Meyer, a man, is shown with many of the same challenges, which hardly ever seems to happen in police procedurals. I love Sarah Lund as a character, not least for her knitwear, but I'm not sure if that's enough to make her a great female role model. I do love the balanced way both characters are presented though, *sighs* life in Scandinavia must be one long, slightly chilly, egalitarian utopia no?!

4) Elaine – Seinfeld. You have to love Elaine, so watchable in her quirky, smug, annoying, funny way. Elaine makes the list not because she's a powerful figure, but largely because she holds her own against a strong, otherwise male cast. Not that she's defining herself against them as such, she's just herself. I'm mainly impressed with Elaine because she's the only woman on the TV that ever got to masturbate without it turning into a big taboo busting act/male titillation thing. See this episode…a bet is made between the friends on who can go the longest without..y'know, a bit of DIY. Elaine starts out confident she's going to be rich before payday, but doesn't make it, She's neither the first to fall, nor the last, but best of all, she pays out her share of the bet AND NO COMMENT IS MADE on her masturbating. I honestly can't think of another TV episode like it.

Things that strike me about my little list, it's very American isn't it? Where are all the good British/Irish female TV characters? I'm not a soap watcher, is that where they're all hiding? Also, I'm sadly behind the times, there must be more out there. If there are any great characters that you feel I should see, please leave details in the comments!

Normal stitchy/gardening/cooking stuff will be resumed next time 🙂

Thanks for reading,
Helenx