Friday, 3 January 2014

2013: That was the year that was

Happy New Year!

As regular readers will know 2013 wasn't exactly the best year for me (massive understatement alert) but whilst I look forward to 2014 being rather less stressful it hasn't been all bad.

A breast cancer diagnosis in May was a big shock but as I come to the end of the year I'm in a pretty good place.  I made it through chemotherapy and surgery and although neither is the most pleasant thing in the world my body coped with both better than I expected.  And thankfully it has all been worth it.  Chemo shrank my tumour by 80% and only two of my lymph nodes were involved rather than three as originally suspected.  I still have radiotherapy later this month but less than originally planned.

I am incredibly grateful to my wonderful husband and Mum who coped so well and did all the stuff I couldn't do.  My kids coped amazingly well and cheered me up even on my worse days.  So many great friends helped out of let us know they were thinking off up - and that includes those of you who I've got to know via this silly little blog, thank you so much for the messages of support.

Sewing wise it was definitely a year of two parts with January to May being much more productive (funny that).  Overall I finished 6 quilts and a further quilt top and made some other bits and pieces.


 Finished quilts (clockwise from top left): Starburst; Siblings together zigzag; Highland Star; Bluebird park stars: MIL quilt; Beach huts


Other stuff: Handle with care quilt top; Sisters Ten BOM (so want to get on with this as I love the design and the fabric); Crafty Cooks apron and pot holder; cross stitch Christmas decorations.

Also this year, one of my all time favourite makes:


Velocity Girl bag by Sew Sweetness in Echino Buck in Turquiose - I've had so many compliments on this and it is such a great design.

As for 2014, well if the last year has taught me anything it is that you can make all the plans you like but life can happen instead!  But I want to keep sewing and hopefully be a bit braver about fabric choices and keep improving.

I hope that 2014 brings you all health and happiness
Bye
Sarah

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Craft it Forward

Last December I spotted that Hadley of Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle posted a Craft it Forward.  I'm usually too slow off the mark but this time I got a slot and I was seriously chuffed as Hadley make lush things.

So fast forward to Thursday, I was having a bit of a rubbish morning when I heard the postman and what should there be but a fabulous parcel.

Inside was the most gorgeous needle book (there was also chocolate but that lasted about 3 minutes and certainly not long enough to make it into a photo!).  Look at those tiny liberty hexies!!


 And inside the loveliness continues - I will have to keep an eye on that badge as the little lady wants it.

And it arrived at an excellent moment - I'll be in hospital for a week of so this month and I was putting together a sewing bag to take with me.  I'll mostly be working on this:


Christmas on Gingerbread Lane by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - how cute is that!

So if anyone fancies continuing the fun of Craft it Forward and you can fulfil the criteria below then please let me know (make sure I can contact you - if you are a No-Reply Blogger I'm afraid you'll miss out and that would be sad).

Here's how you do it:

If you have a blog and fancy a little something handmade by me leave me a comment on this post.  Sometime in the next 365 days I'll send it to you.  When it arrives you need to blog about it and repeat the offer.  Go on spread a little happiness!

Bye
Sarah



Friday, 15 November 2013

This and that

I can never think of good post titles but that pretty much sums up what I've been up to - at bit of this and some of that.

I have been sewing as I'm feeling much better (apart from tiredness), chemo is now done (hooray!) and my ultrasound at the end of last month showed that it has been worth it as my tumour has shrunk be two thirds (hooray again!).  I'm having surgery (mastectomy & reconstruction) next Thursday and then radiotherapy after Christmas.  Still some way to go but I feel like I'm past the worst of it now.

Anyway back to the sewing.  I've been doing quite a lot of cross stitch - before the kids arrived that was my main craft hobby and so I have loads of stuff and it was an easy option when I felt like doing something but didn't have the energy to haul out my machine.

Looking ahead to Christmas I've been doing some ornament kits I'd never got round to.


They are Mill Hill bead kits and are a nice quick project.

I've also made a quilt - unfortunately the 3 year old daughter of one of my work colleagues has recently been diagnosed with liver cancer.  As hard as my own diagnosis and treatment has been I think it must be so much harder to watch your child go through it all.

Obviously we aren't in a position to offer much practical support at the moment so I went for a quilt - I really felt the cold during my treatment.  I ordered a layer cake of Bluebird Park by Katie & Birdie and put together some wonky stars.  It is a lovely collection, sweet without being saccharine and a lovely mix of colours.  I quilted it in a loop pattern using Aurifil 50wt - Aurifil is the only cotton thread my machine will happily FMQ with.


The squirrels are my favourite
My mum had to pop back to Dubai (where she usually lives) and purely by chance brought back some flannel that happened to coordinate well (Riley Blake Peak Hour) - it turns out that a lot of fabric is shipped via Dubai and any split or damaged rolls are sold off there at bargain prices (£2-£3 per yard).


I have also started making blocks for the wee chap's Cat in the Hat quilt (no pictures, sorry) and I'm setting myself a goal of Christmas to finish it, which may be a bit optimistic given the surgery but I'll never hear the end of it if I don't get it done soon!

I'm linking up with the lovely Liz at Dandelion Daydreams

Liz of Dandelion Daydreams

Bye for now but check back tomorrow when I'll have a Craft it Forward post :-)
Sarah

Saturday, 14 September 2013

What I did on my summer holidays...

...is not as much sewing as I would have liked.

After initially feeling pretty good, the pesky health stuff (update at the end for those that are interested) has been taking its toll a bit and hence I've not done much sewing for the last couple of months.  Blogging has also suffered although I am over on Instagram slightly more often - I'm sillybananasewing

However before I started to feel really rough I got a few things done.  I decided I would make myself a quilt so I rummaged through my stash and found a Hometown layer cake and some Kona Cream I bought for a project that I never got round to (like about half the fabric I own!).

I had purchased some patterns from Alison of Cluck Cluck Sew when she had a sale and so decided I'd use her Suburbs pattern.

It came together really easily and I love it - I can definitely see myself making it again.


The soft, slightly faded colours and the cream background remind me of the seaside so I'm calling this one 'Beach huts'.  Inspired by Trudi's Free Motion Quilting workshop at the Fat Quarterly Retreat I decided to try quilting it with swirls - the fact that the quilt was for me meant that I could relax and not fret if it wasn't great.
 

Not perfect but I was really pleased with how it turned out - I need to work on my consistency and spacing but I'm glad I bit the bullet and tried something new.


I backed it with Ikea 'Britten' number fabric as I felt like I wasn't a proper modern quilter without having a quilt backed with it!

Quilt stats:
Beach huts 
Size: about 60" by 70"
Pattern: Suburbs by Cluck Cluck Sew
Fabric: Hometown by Sweetwater for Moda; Kona Cream; Bella Solids (random blue)

I also finished a quilt top for the little lady (much to the disgust of the wee chap who informed me in no uncertain terms that he has been waiting long enough for his Cat in the Hat quilt and made me promise I would not make any other quilts until it is done!)

I bought a half yard bundle of Handle with Care with coordinating solids from Pink Castle Fabric last year and wanted some nice easy sewing that would showcase the fabric.


It badly needs pressed but at the moment I am seriously lacking in energy and it was a case of press the top or blog about it!

And whilst we were doing the photos my two little monkeys decided to join in!



Thanks for stopping by
Sarah


Pesky health update

Well I have now had 4 of my 6 cycles of chemotherapy - all three cycles of Taxotere and one of FEC (which I can't say without wanting to add "Drink! Arse!").  

My oncologist is pleased with my progress and says I'm tolerating the chemo well, which I suppose I am but I will be glad when it is over as it is starting to take its toll.  I just have no energy (hence the lack of sewing) - I made tea last night and microwaving some spuds, defrosting some bolognese sauce and grating some cheese left me knackered and needing a sit down!  In addition the FEC is making me feel really queasy - like really bad morning sickness.

And unfortunately I've ended up in hospital after the last two cycles because I keep spiking really high temperatures.  I have felt fine on both occasions but got admitted for IV antibiotics because of the risk of having an infection which can be dangerous if your immune system weakened by chemo.  Both times my blood counts have shown my immune system has been fine and other tests have shown no sign of infection so they think it is just how my body is dealing with the chemo. It is frustrating and disruptive but I keep reminding myself that there are plenty of people who have much worse side effects and a much poorer outlook than I do, so while I have had some down days, by and large I'm staying positive.

And talking of the positive, I had a mid point ultrasound and that showed that my tumour has shrunk substantially and broken up and the three abnormal lymph nodes have all shrunk too.  This shows that the chemo is working (thank goodness - I'd hate to be going through it if it wasn't!!).  

But at least it is only another two cycles so by the end of October it will be over and done with and I'll be on to the next phase - surgery!

Take care
S

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Fat Quarterly Retreat

Hello

Since I'm going to the FQ Retreat next weekend I thought I'd join in with the getting to know you linky party.  I watched in envy last year so I bought a ticket as soon as they went on sale this time round.

I'm Sarah, a 40yr old (well almost, my birthday is tomorrow) Scot living in the East of England.  I'm married to a wonderful bloke and we have a 6yr old son and a 3yr old daughter.  I work part time as a forensic scientist which I love.

I've always sewed or embroidered (my mum is a fantastic seamstress and taught me when I was young) but that tailed off after the kids were born.  Then when the little lady was about a year old I was looking for a new hobby and I stumbled across quilting and off I went.  and through quilting I've rediscovered my love of sewing in general.

I'm coming to the retreat with two friends Jill (The Nocturnal Stitcher) and Anna (who doesn't blog).

Below is one of my most recent and favourite quilts, Starburst.


I love bright, rich colours and have a soft spot for star blocks in general.

This is me

But as a result of some pesky health stuff by the time of the retreat I'm probably going to be looking more like this

So if you see me in one of my little hats please say hi.

I'm doing
Crochet with Laura Taylor
Free Motion with Trudi Wood
Portholes with Lu Summers
Blog Design with John Adams

See you soon!
Sarah

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Q2 Finish along results

she can quilt

Time to link up with all the other lovely finishes.  I laid out my hopes for the quarter here - one apron, three quilts and a cushion.

And amazingly, despite having done almost no sewing for the past month (because of pesky health stuff and a complete kitchen remodel) I completed four out of five!

I've previously blogged about the memory quilt I made my aunt, and the Starburst quilt I made for my friend's wedding.  Both were well received which was great.

I also finished the apron for the Crafty Cooks Apron & recipe swap which was great fun and good to do something different.

My final finish is a quilt for my Mother-in-law, Jill.  When she came to stay at Christmas she asked if I would make her a quilt so I said I'd do it as a birthday present.

We have totally different tastes in fabric so this quilt is much softer and more muted than others I've made but I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  I used a jelly roll of Athill Range by Cabbages & Roses and quilted it in a loopy design using a Gutermann variegated thread.




It was finished in time for her birthday at the beginning of June but it still hasn't made it to the post office (hangs head in shame)!

So all in all I'm very pleased.  I'm not joining in with Q3 because of the pesky health stuff but I may be back for Q4.

Bye for now
Sarah

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Definitely NOT a quilting post

I know those of you that stop by here occasionally do so for quilt & sewing related stuff so I just wanted to let you know that this post will not be about that.

I've thought long and hard about whether to post this here are it was never my intention for this space to be too personal but rather a record of my sewing exploits.  But sometimes things happen and life gets in the way of your plans and I just decided I'd rather be open.

In the middle of May I found a lump and after a battery of tests it was confirmed on 31st May that I have breast cancer - only a small tumour but it has spread to my lymph nodes.

Needless to say it was a bit of a shock - the whole 'why me?' stuff went through my head - I'll be 40 next week (not exactly the present I was after!) and I have two small kids.  But after a few days and a few tears we got over the initial bombshell and started to get on with things.

The initial plan was surgery followed by chemo but further scans revealed a number of additional tiny tumours, which doesn't change my prognosis but did change the treatment plan so now it is chemo first.  I started last Friday and although I wouldn't do it by choice it wasn't as awful as I feared.

I'm lucky that it has been caught early, that I have an excellent chance of survival and that I have a wonderfully supportive husband, family and group of friends.

And I live close to a centre of excellence for cancer treatment and have a fab oncologist who has arranged for me to have my second dose of chemo on Monday 22nd July rather than Friday 19th July as originally scheduled so that I can still go to the Fat Quarterly Retreat - woohoo.

So in all likelihood I'll be the one wearing a selection of little hats.  And guess what - you can even get Liberty print chemo beanies!  Every cloud.........


Right, there we go.  Now that is dealt with normal sewing service can resume!

Take care
Bye
Sarah