This is one of those random posts about good stuff and things I like. A little bit of what's been going on and sharing a day off + day out I had with my husband recently.

Still busy and still teaching! This beautiful vintage Jones, zig zag machine was brought to class and while we did have a bit of trouble because of the position of the needle and feed for a 1/4" seam, it did power through some piecing. A lovely machine, just look at that wooden base unit.

Also a fine vintage, my Nan turned 101 last month. Here she is with her youngest great-grandson. She was in good form, singing Happy Birthday to ME when we all sang to her. She ate some cake and fussed over the kids. Possibly because my Grandad had a lovely head, I don't know, but she always comments on Fred's head - she says he has a good shaped head! We all had a nice time celebrating a special day.

With three rapidly growing children, work, general household chores and all the sewing, it is rare for me to have a day off. My husband and I decided to spend a day off together while the kids were at school, something we will definitely do again. We dropped them off at school and then decided to walk into Manchester city centre, grabbing a coffee on the way. Even on our first date we ended up walking and talking, it's one of my favourite things. So we strolled along and found our way to Whitworth Park, it was just before the art gallery opened so we hung out spotting the parakeets

There was this very random sign in the park, which at first I thought meant it had been stolen but now realise that it relates to Cornelia Parker's exhibition and the reopening of the gallery in 2015. I like that the sign is there, it's funny.

Once it opened we went in to The Whitworth, there was a display Four Corners of One Cloth: Textiles from the Islamic World being set up. I will have to go back to see all the pieces but this one obviously stood out. It is English Paper Pieced and embellished with beads and stitches.

Another patchwork piece, which I have seen before and is part of The Whitworth collection is Meow by Tracey Emin. This time I was specifically looking at the appliqué and the rosettes - I remember it sparked an idea but now it's gone... a lesson in writing things down!

'Ancient Textiles from the Andes' is a fascinating and powerful exhibition, featuring textiles from c300BC to c1400AD. I realise this is obvious but that is old. It is really incredible in lots of ways. The techniques, craftmanship, the fact they've lasted so long and the conversations and issues surrounding them - always worth reading those little bits of information next to artworks, it really can open your mind. I always look and take things in before reading though, sometimes what I read surprises me after making my own musings.

The feathers, patterns and colours in these pieces drew me in, it's cool how they are both gentle and bold at the same time. 

This rug is amazing, it's beautiful but what I like most is those 'Z' stitches. They could be utility stitches or decorative from the start, either way I like how they don't form a line through the whole work and they are random. Most of the time I take pictures because I want a reminder of things I'd like to include in my projects. This element is something I would like to replicate, ordered but slightly incomplete stitches.

The current Bukky Baldwin Universe Residency at Work Shop is a colourful explosion of fun prints and clothing. There wasn't anyone there when we visited but it was still cool seeing the fabric prints, homewares and ceramics.

Bukky Baldwin at the Whitworth

Of course we had to pop in to the gift shop as well. There is this cool range of stationery by Monograph, included these big scissors and big safety pins. I was good though and resisted, the only purchase was 3 bags of marbles for the kids at £1 each! The shop has so many nice bits, if you ever visit the gallery it's a must.

Monograph stationery in the Whitworth gift shop

Continuing our wandering, we visited an awesome Korean shop oesyo - which is full of food, cool gifty things etc. I will need to go back there because we didn't even make it upstairs, that's where the containers and bowls etc. are but I had to be restrained!

Manchester is full of incredible architecture, beautiful old warehouse buildings, Central Library and  others, and so, so many lovely squares. This is a fairly new building in St. Peter's Square and the pattern on the side would make a stunning quilt.

St Peter's Square, Manchester

We moseyed around town, went to a few other shops and kept walking and talking. At lunchtime we headed straight to Northern Soul Grilled Cheese, we have wanted to go there for awhile + cheese is my favourite food. Now I mean this when I say it is THE BEST GRILLED CHEESE EVER! I've had a few so I know. The staff were lovely and it was absolutely yummy. We both had The Soul and can't wait to try more, I was tempted by the Mac and Cheese too. Honestly we didn't need to eat for the rest of the day, it was so filling. Yum yum yum!

Northern Soul Grilled Cheese menu, Church Street, Manchester

Also cheese grater lights, brilliant. There is a newer shop up near Piccadilly but I like the cool shack vibe of the original. Sandwich perfection at either place I'm sure.

Northern Soul Grilled Cheese, Church Street, Manchester

It would be impossible not to notice the street art when wandering around town. This ray of sunshine made me smile by Billy Buiy

billy buiy 2019 northern quarter manchester street art

Taking a day off and just being together, having a nice day in town with no real purpose or set of things we had to do, was awesome. If you can, I'd encourage you to do the same.

A quick catch up on my recent sewing progress because I'm still sewing as much as I can. I have been busy doing secret sewing, boring for the blog just now but I did find a new thread colour to love. This is Aurifil 50 weight in #2423, which in real life is a bubblegum pink but it doesn't really show that way once stitched. It's beautifully blendable and a soft warm colour that I've been finding so useful for quilting.

2423 baby pink thread Aurifil on Elna sewing machine

I am making good progress on my cross stitch project, I think I will be on track to finishing it within the year if I keep at it. It is Kindness & Fortitude: A Quaker Sampler by Modern Folk Embroidery. My arm shows that I had a blood test, which has come back all normal. I have one more health thing to check and hopefully all will be well. Finger's crossed it's nothing serious but it has taken me around 2.5 years to get myself to the doctor, which is crazy and really I need to take time to prioritise myself a little more. 

Modern Folk Embroidery cross stitch in progress by Charm About You

This next project is for my youngest, she currently has a wobbly tooth and that means a reason to make a tooth fairy cushion. For her, floral fabrics and a dresden plate flower complete with pom poms and a pocket in the centre. 

Here we both are after we went to a BBQ at the weekend, glitter applied by a friend's daughter - I think she has a talent for it. Notice too that Lois is big on accessories - that's one of my Nan's many beaded necklaces that she adores wearing and cat's ears are a must.

My other two kids both had handmade tooth fairy cushions too, here are the versions I made for them + they are still in use!

Finally (and as a reward for reading so far) head over to instagram, where I'm having a giveaway of a fabric bundle, rainbow star pins and this cool sticker - click here to enter! (ends Friday) Good luck!