Harry and Hermione Have a Lovely Day

The academic year is over and it’s time for Harry Potter (alias The Loom Monkey) to return south.

But first he has to show Hermione (alias My Little Darling) around Durham

From Prebends Bridge that iconic view of the towers of Durham Cathedral

The sanctuary knocker

and those summer daisies that always add a magical touch to a graveyard


DGR at Dartington’s Way with Words literary festival

Readers in over 90 countries now log on to the daily blog of self-confessed bookworm Dovegreyreader, alias Lynne Hatwell.
At dovegreyreader.com book reviews, suggested “reading trails”, visits to literary events, stately homes and wonderful scenery rub shoulders with insights into the family life of this blogger who has the distinction of being archived for posterity by the British Library. Readers feel like members of an extended family as they share in events such as the publication of her drummer-boy father’s biography and the rescuing of a family of ducklings. As well as inspiring avid and lapsed readers alike, DGR is a health visitor in a scattered rural area. For years she has been advocating books as therapy and always has a shelf of books ready to “prescribe” to those in her care.

The blog has grown from many years of keeping a “book of books”, a list of all the books read by Dovegreyreader complete with her thoughts and comments. As happy in the 21st century as in any of the centuries about which she reads, Dovegreyreader has kept up with technology first of all moderating an online book group of like-minded individuals and then seizing the newfound joy of blogging. Along with her excellent suggestions for reading comes the chance to win books in periodic book draws. Publishers have realised the power of this blog and eagerly send DGR, as she is affectionately known, books to share with her coterie. All draws for these goodies are undertaken by Rocky, the cat, master of the aga. Anyone who finds themselves in need of reading suggestions, with the added advantage of the occasional chance to win a free book, should take themselves to http://www.dovegreyreader.com If a virtual taste of DGR is not enough, then tickets to hear her speak at Dartington’s Way with Words literary festival at 1130 on Sunday, 13th July 2008 are available for £5 from the festival website at http://www.wayswithwords.co.uk

Heirloom update

I now have 2 rows of 5 blocks all sewn together, another 5 rows of 5 to go. By the time i get to the end my suturing of the wadding will be so practiced that I will be able to moonlight as a surgeon.

Another Year Older

Yesterday was my birthday and so I have no guilty conscience about having a bog-free day. Here are two of my cards: on the left, cowparsely from my baby sister, Anne and on the right a textile design by Jacqueline Groag from my work colleagues. Isn’t it wonderful when you receive just the cards that you would have chosen for yourself.

I am still reading, and loving, Eucalpytus by Murray Bail. The chapters have become shorter and are an ideal length for my four stops on the train from home to work and back again. I have to confess that I have almost consciously taken to catching trains that my “train friends” WON’T be on because of course you can’t really stick your head in a book when someone you know is sitting next to you and eager to chat about what an awful day / amazing holiday they have just had. Sometimes I even have to speak French, or to be more accurate, listen at French because a lovely woman from Paris travels in my direction every now and then. She speaks at breakneck speed and with a heavy accent so I have to maintain close eye contact, as well as watching the movements of her lips, in a vain attempt to use all my senses to take in the information so that my poor brain can compute the data into something that makes sense. I resort to smiles and nods and once every few paragraphs of her stream of consciousness I interject a v e r y s l o w attempt at a sentence which she corrects charmingly for me and then speeds off again in her narrative. So by leaving for work later than the train gang and leaving for home after they have travelled, I am able to breathe in the Eucalyptus fumes for a few moments.

It’s All in the Bag (almost a tutorial)

An idea of how to make a circular drawstring sewing bag

I thought I’d have another go at making a drawstring sewing bag and this time take a couple of photos to explain what I mean.

The basic requirements for this little bag are:

. 2 lined circles, one bigger than the other,

. cord or ribbon for the drawstring

. 2 large beads or buttons or some extra fabric to sew on the ends of the drawstrings

The circles have to be quite a bit larger than I imagined. I suggest drawing around a dinner plate for the SMALLER circle and one inch outside the dinner plate for the larger (outside) circle.

1. You will need to cut 2 of each of the 2 circles so you will end up with 4 circles, 2 big and 2 slightly smaller.

2. Sew all around the SMALLEST circles (right sides together) with approx a 1/4 inch seam EXCEPT FOR A GAP OF ABOUT 3 inches that you will need to turn the circle inside out. Turn this small circle inside out, press and then top stitch near the outside edge carefully closing the opening by neatly tucking the seam allowances inside. Put aside.

3. Sew the 2 LARGEST circles right sides together. you will need to leave approx a 4 inch gap for turning AND ALSO 2 one-inch gaps, opposite each other to use to thread the drawstrings through.

Turn this LARGE circle inside out and press. Top stitch around edge, EXCEPT for 2 one-inch gaps using the topstitching to neatly close the 4-inch turning gap.

4. Fold the SMALL circle in half and iron to press. Fold in half again & press with iron, and fold in half one more time and press again. Open up carefully and you should have folds that divide the circle into 8 sections. Using tailors chalk or ordinary blackboard chalk draw over these folds so that your circle looks like a cake cut into 8. (see first photo at top of page). Find a small circle (e.g a glass) to draw around in the centre of this circle (see above). This will look like the centre of a flower with 8 petals around it.

5. Place the SMALL circle on top of the LARGE circle equally (see photo above). Place a pin in the middle. Carefully pin in between each line so that you will be able to sew along both sides of each line.

6.Starting at the outside of the small circle, sew down the right-hand side of the chalk line till you meet the centre drawn circle, sew along the curve of this centre circle till you meet the next line. Sew along the nearest side of the next chalk line (towards the outside of the circle of fabric) and then back down alongside it until you meet the centre circle again. Sew along that section of curve and up one side of the next chalk line etc etc until you finally arrive back at where you started. ALL THIS STITCHING WILL SHOW THROUGH ONTO THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR BAG. These lines of stitching make eight small interior pockets for reels of thread etc.

7. Back on the largest circle, sew a second line of stitching one-inch inside your outside line of stitching (do not leave any gaps in this stitching.

8. With a safety pin, thread a long drawstring (longer than the circumference of your circle) in through one gap, all way around the circle and back out where it entered. Starting at the OPPOSITE gap, thread another long drawstring through the other gap, all around the casing and back out where it entered. You need to knot the paired ends of drawstrings and either tie a large bead or button through and knot securely so that they don’t disappear into the gaps or, do as I did and, sew each pair of ribbon ends into a piece of doubled-over fabric and stitch quite a few times to secure the ribbon inside the fabric. On reflection it would have been neater to make triangular-shaped “ends” to sew the drawstring/ribbon into.

I’m quite pleased with this bag apart from the fact that the inner circle shouldn’t have been so much smaller than the outer circle.Next time I will make them with probably only one-inch in difference between the two circles.

Somehow I should be able to make a circular pincushion that is permanently attached to the “flower centre” inside the bag.

It also needs an attached needle-case and attached small scissors holster.

Blame the alphabet

Back in April, Simon of Stuck in a Book listed his A-Z Favourites, one favourite author for each letter of the alphabet. Of course some letters had too many authors to choose between and Xylophone was not allowed as the name of a author. SiaB’s post came to mind during one of my lunchtime forays to the Oxfam bookshop. I decided that I would like to join the members of Cornflower’s Book Group who are about to read “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. The Oxfam bookshop helpfully arranges their contemporary fiction alphabetically by author so I was concentrating my search on the final shelf. Alas not a Zusak in sight but I came away with five books tow of which were by authors beginning with “Y”. I haven’t read them yet as they are reserved for my holiday reading horde but I must at the very least commit the authors names to memory in case my life ever depends on finding an author for each letter of the alphabet. I suppose you all want to share my secret “Y” entires, do you?

Mo YAN – The Garlic Ballads
(apparently he has been referred to as the Chinese answer to Franz Kafka or Joseph Heller

Banana YOSHIMOTO – Kitchen
In an interview, the author states “I have in mind sensitive, somewhat adolescent people who are stuck between reality and fantasy. Young, rebellious people like to read my books, but I guess what I really like is to encourage adults who still have playful, adolescent minds”. This statement suggests that BY may have something in common with one of my favourite authors, Amelie Nothomb. After I have read “Kitchen” I will let you know if my supposition is correct.

I know, I did buy five books, didn’t I? The others are:

Dierdre MADDEN – The Birds of the Innocent Wood
Sarah STOVELL – Mothernight
Dan FESPERMAN – Lie in the Dark

I have instructed My Dearly Beloved many times to buy his books from the Oxfam shop. Until yesterday he has disobeyed me but he finally has to agree that some of my instructions are worth heeding. The lights in the OS are not harsh and intrusive, you don’t have to jostle your way past 2 for the price of 3 and promotional display hazards, the money goes to a good cause and the money you save can go towards ……. buying more books.

Heirloom in the making?

Yesterday I went to the second part of a two-part workshop on how to do “Quilting-as-you-go” tutored by Carolyn Forster.

On the first day, six weeks ago, she showed us masses of her quilts made using this method.

Then we had the tough job of deciding which block design we would make and we began cutting up fabric and piecing our blocks.

She showed us how each block was sandwiched together and quilted as an individual block, just leaving a couple of inches of the “frames” unquilted so that they could be joined together later.

Each of the completed blocks measures 16″ x 16″ and I have 35 of them all quilted up and ready to join together in rows. Each row will consist of 5 blocks and will have 7 rows, so it will be quite a big quilt. As they say in the US “you do the math(s)”.

On the left you can see one completed block, made up of a sandwich of: a pieced top, wadding, backing fabric. On the right is a bag containing the remaining 30 blocks waiting to be joined together in another 6 rows.

Not content with having been immersed in sewing all day I was so inspired by seeing Carolyn’s sweet little drawstring, circular needlework bag that I had to cut out and try to make one myself. Inside it had six pockets for reels of thread etc. i also made a matching needlecase. I can’t show it to you because I have packed it all up to send to a friend of mine. She has moved several times in the last few years and when I visited her in her latest home I was horrified that serial clearouts had left her without a sewing bag/box. She confessed to me that she had no needle and thread in the whole house. She has been on my mind since I discovered this distressing situation and now I hope that my late-night sewing session will ensure that her new home is complete.

On the reading front I forgot to tell you about the recently completed “An Artist of the Floating World” by
Kazuo Ishiguro.
This lets us into the world of an artist in post-war Japan. Those who have read “The Remains of the Day” will be familiar with the author’s gentle measured style of writing which suits this story in which a widowed artist is faced with arranging a marriage for his second daughter. We experience with him the difficulties of adapting to social and political changes which have a direct effect on his immediate family.

i have moved on to “Eucalyptus” by Murray Bail which coincidentally also deals with how to ensure that a suitable partner is found for a daughter. We may laugh at Jane Austen’s Mrs Bennett and Emma with their matchmaking preoccupations but both books that I mentioned above emphasise that the problem is still uppermost in the minds of many a parent and friend. The quilt I am making is for my only daughter. She should really be making it herself as part of her bottom drawer and I should be making use of the ladies at my quilting bee to search out a spouse for her.

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