Sunday, October 6, 2013

back on my pins

My goodness, it's been a long time! I can't remember how much I said earlier in the year, but in March I went on the transplant list for a pancreas and kidney, and since I was the only person in the UK with my blood group waiting for both organs, in the first week of June I made it into the operating theatre! ... and to cut a long story short, that's been the story of the last 3 months!

... well mostly. The op took about 19 hours, so a pretty long ordeal and I was a bit zonked for a few days after. It turned out the pancreas wasn't working very well so a couple of days later they opened me up a second time to investigate. All seemed OK so they didn't do much and that was that. ... until a few more days went by and I got really ill. They said it had become life-threatening and rushed me back into theatre to remove the pancreas. In all honesty I was so not-with-it that most of those days are a hazy mix of events and weird immaginations!

But the really good news is that despite a slow start, the kidney seems to have settled in and be working well. I certainly feel significantly better than I have for what must be the last 20 years. ... That's not quite the end of the tale though, because after I was discharged I was home for maybe 5 weeks and then got pretty ill again. I lost all my appetite and my weight plummeted, so the doctors put me right back in hospital for another 2 weeks!

But I've been home again for a month and have regained almost all the weight I lost (nearly 2 stones or 30lb) and with the help of weekly physio I've regained much of my strength ... I still have a wheelchair for anything more than short walking distances but I can walk further every week :) ... and my appetite is now enormous compared to how it has always been!

As for quilting, well I haven't been near a needle (well not a quilting one anyway) or thread, but I am rather thrilled that for my 40th birthday (which fell exactly a week after the surgery!) I got one of those die-cutting machines, like the Baby Go-cutter but a different make as recommended by The Littlest Thistle ... I'm yet to try it out but the time is fast approaching! ... Just before the transplant I had dug out the top for a Rainy Day quilt that I started, oooh must be 2 years ago now! and I had begun to start hand stitching all the rows together, so I'll crack on with that very soon now :)

I'm not quite back up to full speed online yet, but am getting better at reading blogs, and hopefully I'll have updates on not one but two quilt projects that I hope to at least begin before the end of the year! :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

putting the quilting hat back on

After what must be a good 18 months of no quilting (if you don't count buying fabric!) I have finally assembled my weapons and am ready to wield the needle and thread once again! I have a WIP that is a rainy day theme and it's about a quarter pieced so far ... with the help of mum the pieces were all laid out and assessed, namely that I need to cut 3 more pieces but there's fabric for that ... I need to pop to the quilt shop in Monmouth to buy some white fabric (which forms part of the top) but there shouldn't be too much work ahead to get the top hand-stitching finished :)

Unfortunately we paired up the pieces for my immediate sewing tasks before I thought to take a photo ... but I promise next time the pieces are laid out I will snap them for another post ... this will probably be mid-next week once the white fabric shopping expedition has taken place :)

... for now I'll just say that it's good to be back in the quilting sphere with needles threaded and fabric waiting!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Mountain Grows ...

It was one of those Cash n Carry days ... take as much cash as you have to the quilt show and go home with as much fabric as you can carry! OK, it was a bit more than that, being a lovely chance to meet up with Lorraine from Monkey Business and Quilts and Amy from Magpie Mimi

First things first, let's talk fabric ... and I even have a photo for you! :) First of all Amy gave me my Christmas Present (what can I say, it's tricky catching up with me since I'm not very mobile and keep popping in and out of hospital!) and it comprised a big bag of Liquorice Allsorts (no photo of those but I can assure you they've been opened and are rapidly vanishing!), a absolutely gorgeous piece of velour fabric, and an equally lovely pack of fabrics with colours and contrasts that I have a chance of being able to see :)

Photo of fabrics. In the middle is a Yorkshire Tea tea towel, above it is a Japanese print that is white dragonflies on a dark background. Below the towel are from left to right, a piece of red felt, a pack of liberty print fabrics, a pack of fabrics from Amy, and at the bottom is a piece of purple velour.
... and although I certainly am not in urgent need of buying more fabric, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do so .... especially when there was a beautiful selection of Liberty print fabrics ... so I bought a pack of "very fat eighths" ... I'm hoping each piece might be large enough to make a cushion from, maybe using a different fabric for the backs.

The sharp-eyed amongst you will have spied a couple more fabricky-looking things in the photo ... yes, there's a piece of thick red felt that still feels really wooly in texture - it's fab and the plan is to make a tapot to applique onto my Yorkshire Tea quilt (more on that in a mo!) ... and right at the top of the pic there's a Japanese fabric that I could see since it has good contrast between the dragonfly motifs and the dark background ... no plans for this yet but it may work with a half yard of Japanese prints I bought in a shop sale about a year ago!

And finally, in the centre of the photo is the Yorkshire Tea towel that is the theme for a quilt ... The Yorkshire Tea folk on the Orient Express trip liked hearing about my quilting so sent me 5 tea towels to turn into a quilt. Now this is where the questions start! I'm open for suggestions about how to make this quilt ... please bear in mind my low level technical skill though!

Question 1: Pattern suggestions:
The tea towel could form a centre panel with other as-yet-to-be-acquired tea-themed fabrics around it ... or it could be chopped up and used as smaller blocks as part of a traditional or modern style pattern ... What do you think might work? Bear in mind I can use anything from 1 to 5 of these tea towels! ... Plus on ebay there are other tea towels with scenes from Yorkshire villages that I thought might add nicely to the quilt.

... actually that's the only question at this stage, I kind-of combined two questions into one - how many tea towels to use and then pattern suggestions. Any and all ideas gratefully received!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Assuming the rain stops...

Malvern is definitely on! I'm going on Saturday ... Of course if it continues to rain the way it is right now then I may be canoeing to get there ...but hopefully by Saturday all will be dry and sunny and soft clouds of batting will be floating in the air ...

I'm delighted that Lorraine from Monkey Business and Quilts and Amy from Magpie Mimi are confirmed attendees so lots of crafty gossip will be had along with cups of tea while feet get a rest from wandering around the rather large quilt show!

If anybody else is thinking about going to Malvern but isn't quite sure just yet (maybe you're waiting to see if the floods will subside before you leave your house uncertain whether it'll be 20ft under water by the time you return?) ... then do keep your eyes pealed for a quilter wielding a white cane ... there probably won't be too many of us in one spot at the same time! Do say hello ... and if you know in advance that you're going do leave a comment or email me and I'll let you know my mobile number so rendez-vous can be planned at the watering hole! :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

quilt plans

It had totally slipped my mind, but it's Malvern Quilt Show this week! Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th ... is anybody planning to go? I met up with Lorraine from Monkey Business and Quilts last year, and I think Magpie Mimi is going with her sewing class one of the days ... leave me a comment if you too plan on going, or drop me an email and maybe we can meet up for a coffee there!

In other news - and I apologise for this being a little slow in appearing! - the Orient Express trip was absolutely fantastic! A really perfect day! Here's an annotated photoboard page ... it was so much fun to dress up 1930s style!

... and the Yorkshire Tea folk enjoyed hearing about my quilt-making and have sent me 5 of their tea towels to make into a quilt! Unfortunately they're all the same design, but I plan on adding a tea towel with some Yorkshire village scenes plus some tea cup and teapot fabrics ... I will post pics later and consult you all for advice on making a from cotton tea towels ... I'm assuming it'll be like using t-shirts for quilts but having never done that either I don't know what precautions to take etc! ... The aim is for the end of the year I think, and hopefully Yorkshire Tea can find a suitable event to auction it for charity ...

No updates on the transplant ... had I had the false alarm middle-of-the-night phone call to go in for surgery in my last update? Well that came just a week before the Orient Express trip, but I got a reprieve when the organs didn't make it to the hospital in good enough condition to use, so I got sent home again! There have been no phone calls since then, but I suspect there'll be one before too long - one per month seems about what to expect with my blood group!

Hope this post hasn't been rendered too unintelligible ... Internet Explorer and my screen reader don't seem to be the best of friends this afternoon! ... I blame the weather which is hammering down and according to quilters around the country is likely to bear hail at some point!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

top (and bottom) of the heap

I'm afraid there's not been much quilting going on ... ok, there hasn't been any quilting going on, though I have been thinking about quilting! ... For the last month I've been tethered to my phone, because I'm top of the transplant waiting list so as soon as the call comes I'll be heading in for a new pancreas and kidney! To be technically correct I'm actually top and bottom of the waiting list, since there's only me in the whole UK with my blood group waiting for the kidney pancreas combo .... of course the upside of a short waiting list has a downside that organs come up a lot less often!

I did actually think I'd be in by Easter, but nope, not even a false alarm call yet! At this very moment though I'm holding my breath hoping not to get a call for the next 10 days ... because I entered a Yorkshire Tea competition to win tickets on the Orient Express .... all you had to do was say in 30 words or less why you love Yorkshire Tea ... and I won!

So now I'm fiendishly planning what to wear .... dress code is smart, but whether to go modern smart or Hercule Poirot 1930s Murder On The Orient Express smart ... I'm tending towards the latter and perusing cravats! ... So far I've found a pair of Mr Messy cufflinks in the clearance items, but trying to convince myself I don't need them!

But back to the organs ... once I'm in I'll be recovering for 3 to 4 weeks, and I am intending to finish the top for my rainy days quilt! I've got more fabrics with rain and clouds and umbrellas and ducks (especially yellow ducks) than I need so there's no excuse! I'm about halfway through the top but it's been languishing since I came back to Wales (kind of ironic given how much rain we've had!)

I'm still doing the writing class, though we had to fight for this week's to not be the last .... I thought we'd have to turn up with signs proclaiming The Writers United Will Never Be Defeated, but it didn't come to that; we didn't have to riot or anything ... we sent our hard-woman Lowri to do battle with the nicely-scarved boss, and after backup from the tutor arrived and words were exchanged with the big boss, we got an extension until half-term ... after that the class is no more .... oven the 10-strong morning class will be finished and they cover all their classroom hire costs between them with no funding or discounts! ... all very crazy, but if they think that empty classrooms will bring in more money than writing classes whether with 3 or 10 people, then I think they need some basic maths classes!

Anyway, we'll see out the rest of this half term and then think about hot-footing it over to Torfaen where the tutor runs the same class for the neighbouring county. In other writing news my booklet didn't make it to round 2 (a shortlist of 4) in the Poetry Business competition, but I've 3 poems entered in the Cardiff Internation and am about to enter Poetry London's competition ... so keep your fingers crossed for me please :)

Only other news is that Tai Chi is going well. It's another small group (2 of us plus an insjtructor and assistant) so that's great for helping the blind guy fingure out the new moves! We've just reached the quarter-way point ... i.e. we're halfway through the first half and then I think it all repeats in reverse for the second half! It's surprising how much the slow Tai Chi movements do give you a work out!

Finally it's Mr Bix's 17th birthday at the end of the month (I thik it's April 29 though I will have to dig out his birth certificate to check!) ... he's still in fine fettle, in fact he's here curled up by the keyboard purring while I write this!

Hopefully I'll have some photos from the Orient Express for you before I head into hospital, but if I don't get to update Touch And Sew before I go in then you can always check with nix_cool on Twitter and I'll fire off a quick tweet before I vanish! :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Breaking News!

just in case you thought I'd fallen into a long deep sleep .... well I might not have done any quilting with all the recent flurry of tests building up to a relatively imminent pancreas kidney transplant, but I've been busy gathering all the very latest news on the intrigue surrounding what kind of meat is really in our favourite foods. In a nutshell, if you thought that beef stew once ambled around a field happily saying moo, you're probably wrong ... hobnobbing with other horses might be closer to the truth!

So here are the hottest news stories in town, gathered from unverifiable news sources in the middle of the night. Some might even be true ...

1. News Headlines: Equine equality - Horses demand right to be lasagne too.

2. Playground Patter: United Kingdom forecast to become duller than Belgium as children afraid to be caught horsing around.

3. News Headlines: Cows seek equality, demand to run in the Grand National.

4. Poetical Statistics: 81% of the 20% meat content in 95% of supermarket burgers is dodgy. Even stevens it may or may not be horse. And 100% chance it'll make you podgy, of course.

5. News Headlines: Daisy the horse claims she's a cow born into the wrong body.

6. Bible News: And the animals came in 2 by 2 hurrah! Except the cows - one found to have been a third hourse in disguise. All beef products now found to contain traces of horse DNA. Supermarkets to sue Noah's estate for gross negligence.

7. Countryside News: Call to cull abattoir staff. No way to tell which have infected the meat supply but a genral cull likely to be 30% effective. Badger Union says its members will vote yes, but abattoir staff say a cull has no scientific credibility.

8. Honest Harrys Used Animal Showroom: Genuine cow, 3 years old, only 20,000 pints of milk on the clock. Mechanically sound, 4 new hooves ...

9. Honest Harrys Used Animal Showroom: : Genuine horse. Full service history. Novelty cow horn. 6 month's tax and M.OO.T

10. Horse headlines: What next, bacon?

11. Heathen herald: And the serpent said to Eve, "take a bite of this tasty burger". And the rest, as they say, is horseshit.

12. Bedfordshire Insider: Milton Keynes' plastic cows found to contain plastic horse DNA. Children distraught, poor lambs. Parents say the wool was pulled over their eyes.

13. News on the Vine: Uncertainty in the wine world as experts debate which wines to drink with meat that might be beef or might be horse. Sales figures suggest customers recommend Bulgarian reds.

14. Comic Controversy: Desperate Dan demands to know what was in his cow pie!

15. Hollywood Headlines: Traces of "holy horse" found in Batman movie. "Horseabunga!" exclaim Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

16. Braking News: Traces of beef found in school meals.

... and that's folks, as they say in the trade! Remember, don't believe everyrthing you read, especially not on food ingredient lists!