The Finery of Nature SAL

The Finery of Nature

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my progress with this Dimensions kit, the Finery of Nature, I’d finally finished the second quarter with the birds nest on and just started the humming bird. You all made me very jealous with tales of humming birds in your gardens! I never realised they made a buzzing noise with their wings!

This is where I’d got to last time…

The Finery of Nature

I’ve made a bit of progress this time, though I’ve been concentrating more on other projects as I feel in the mood for a finish or two! The hummingbird is looking beautiful and he’s not even finished yet!

The Finery of Nature

There doesn’t seem to be as many flowers round this one, so hopefully it won’t take too long to finish this quarter.

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Sewing Beside the Sea, we post every three weeks on our chosen project, it’s a great way to stay motivated! If you would like to join us please contact Avis on the link below, otherwise please follow the links to see what every one else has been stitching.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHelenLindaHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahClareMary MargaretReneeJennyCarmelaJocelynSharonDaisyAnne

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link to see even more hand-stitching.

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 19 Comments


I first read about the Stitchbook Collective over the summer. It’s a 12 month course organised by Helen of Untangled Threads, each month you receive a box of goodies and instructions on different types of what I would call free-style embroidery. I was very tempted but I resisted initially (I’m saving up for a new sewing machine!) but then I saw the results of the first box on posts by Nana Cathy and Wild Daffodil – I ordered my box straight away!

What appeals with this course, apart from making a gorgeous textile book along the way, is all the different techniques and products she will be teaching us about, all those things I’ve seen at the shows and not had a clue what to do with! Well I’ll be learning over the next few months – I think it’ll be somewhat out of my comfort zone too!

The first box is called Texture, we got some calico to use as a base mainly, some other pieces of textural fabric such as hessian and gauze, threads and yarns, fluffy ones, smooth ones, curly ones, all sorts of goodies!

Helen provides written instructions but there’s also a brilliant video, I ended up watching it and pausing it for the next section, watch and stitch, watch and stitch!.

First we tore a piece of calico into nine pieces and each one became a mini sample, using different stitches, layering, creating holes, nine different ways of creating texture. I’m having to learn to like torn fabric edges!

Apologies for the dark photos, we’re into winter lighting here!

Stitchbook Collective

I found that the further on I got, the more I felt brave enough to do my own thing and make it mine – the first few were pretty much as Helen stitched them, by the time I reached the half cotton ball I was making it mine – or rather making a dandelion head! Helen provided some ecru DMC thread, I started using a creamy variegated thread and it works really well, adding the softest touch of pink or grey. I added sequins too, these are the satin ones I bought for my Zoe box.

Stitchbook Collective

We arranged them on an A5 piece of calico and stitched them on, I tried to use stitches that connected with the sample, either french knots, running stitch etc. I filled a little gap in with three mother of pearl buttons.

Stitchbook Collective

Our second sample involved making a ‘textile piece’ from lots of loose threads and some water soluble stabiliser. I made one from the creamy yarns and a second one from coloured threads she gave us with a few extra added. The stabiliser basically stuck everything together without being hard and gunky. The idea then was to just go with the flow and create something!

Stitchbook Collective

My cream one worked out best, I like the movement in it, it reminded me of the patterns on the beach. I made a background of overlapping leftover fabric, just using lines of running stitch to secure it, adding a bit of interest as I went a long. I secured the thready piece over the top with a few random stitches, I then tried a piece of sand coloured tulle from the box over the top and I liked the effect, so I then just embroidered over the top.

Stitchbook Collective

I didn’t really start with any great plan, apart from echoing the wavy lines, so I used blanket stitch along one, couched some thread along another. I tried to incorporate some of the sample techniques, so I did a curved row of tiny scraps, a woven rose stitch, a bit of a couched spiral, I squeezed the other half of the cotton ball under the net and stitched through it.

I started adding sequins and beads, different stitches such as feather stitch, chain stitch…

The problem is knowing when to stop!

Stitchbook Collective

I eventually decided it was complete, I was happy with it.

The box includes a page to stitch the samples to, as it happens I’d already bought some pages for another project, so I used an extra one so I could have the samples and the finished piece opposite each other in my book.

Stitchbook Collective

I still haven’t decided what, if anything, to do with my coloured one, I might even try some random machine embroidery over it – I’ve nothing to lose!

I’ve already got the next box of goodies waiting to open, I think this one is on pleats and edges. If anyone fancies joining in follow the link above as there’s still some kits left.

Posted in embroidery, Textile Books, The Stitchbook Collective | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Christening Gifts

My great nephew is getting christened next month, I pondered for a long time on what to give as a present. I wanted to avoid giving something for when he’s grown up as in my experience (albeit only two children!) in 20 odd years time they won’t be interested in what we think is nice now!

I bought a rose bush for them. I like giving roses as you can usually find one with a suitable name – I’ve given ‘Champagne Moments’ several times. This time I wanted one with a childhood theme. I like David Austin roses as they’re well bred, healthy and usually have a beautiful scent. I looked through their catalogue – I usually have one on my bedside table!! They have a rose named after the children’s author Roald Dahl, buying one also raises money for his children’s charity. Perfect! I ordered it straight away and to my amazement it arrived the next day!

I wanted to make something for baby as well. I decided to make a Luna Lapin, or to be more precise an Archie…

Until recently there was a shop in Skipton called Cool Crafting, it’s now sadly moved to Kendal. However, in their shop window I kept admiring Luna Lapin, a beautifully dressed felt rabbit! For months I kept telling myself that I didn’t need a soft toy, I’m over 50! Then I saw the shop was closing down so I bought the book and the felt whilst I could!

Luna Lapin

Luna is designed by Sarah Peel, the owner of Cool Crafting. Luna has a complete wardrobe, dresses, coat, lacy knickers. She also has a little brother called Archie, patterns for trousers, shirt and waistcoat are included in the book. There’s a facebook page devoted to Luna and her friends, it’s very amusing as people enter into the world of Luna!

Archie; Luna Lapin

The rabbits are made from felt and designed to be hand-stitched. At Cool Crafting she sells beautiful 100% wool felt, it’s a good weight which copes well with hand-stitched seams and stuffing!

Over the weekend I pulled out the length of silver grey felt and cut it out. I used a piece of grey quilting cotton for the ears and feet. It went together pretty easily, I used blanket-stitch throughout as I seem to get a neater finish than with just an overstitch. The arms are stitched on with buttons and the eyes are buttons. I pondered about using child-safety eyes and arm joints, but I decided that as there would be buttons on his shirt and waistcoat I may as well use buttons for the eyes etc and just tell them to keep him for decoration until baby is old enough.

So, meet George…

Luna Lapin

Now I need to make him some clothes. Ooh and I’ve just remembered, he needs a tail too!

Posted in Crafts, Fabric shops, Sewing | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Leaves and Trees

I’ve just finished another section on my two cross-stitch SALS, both are due to finish around Christmas time or just after.

I always tackle the Zoe stitch-a-long (SAL) first, mainly because it’s released first every other Monday. This is the Faby Reilly Zoe Box SAL, it’s going to be beautiful. I had to stitch the outline first (which I was meant to do back in July before the SAL all started!!) which took a couple of evenings. This time we’re stitching the lid of the box, I think it’s the outside rather than the inside, but time will tell. It’s a pretty border of leaves going through the seasons as the leaves go round the box. It’s going to look lovely when all the back-stitching and the decorative stitches are completed too, but we’ll have to wait anther week for that.


The Enlightenment SAL is by Tempting Tangles, the pattern for this is released every other Friday, so it’s always second to be tackled. This includes a Zen saying, Chop wood, carry water, I’m not much wiser having read various explanations on what it means!

Two weeks ago I was half way along the second row, having just stitched Chop and worked out the saying…

Enlightenment Tempting Tangles

It’s being released a 1/16th block each time, I do find doing strict blocks a bit frustrating as sometimes you find there’s just one more stitch on the next block. This time I’ve got a bit ahead of myself in places and stitched extra where I’m pretty sure what the pattern is going to be. For example, only the top two rows of the lower w were included, I’m pretty sure it’s the w for water and stitching the whole thing made it easier to work along the row to the top of the t without mis-counting.

Enlightenment Tempting Tangles

We’re almost half way through this SAL so it’s starting to come together. I think I’m going to make it into a cushion afterwards for our guest room as by coincidence it co-ordinates pretty well with my Coming Home quilt, and that’s earmarked for the guest room bed.

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Workshop WIPs

I’ve been to three embroidery workshops so far this year, which is great, but then you have to finish the piece you started, and that takes time…

Back in June I went on a workshop with Anne Brooke to make Harold the Hare, I’d seen the original Harold at an Embroiderers Guild meeting and he is gorgeous, this is a smaller, more manageable piece of work, all hand embroidered on a pre-printed fabric. It was a great workshop, she started us off in all the main areas so we could carry on at home. This is what he looked like after the workshop…

Harold the Hare

The kit just uses four shades of DMC thread to create Harold, after working on him for quite a while at Embroiderers Guild meetings he looked like this…

Harold the Hare

He was starting to look a bit fierce! I also felt the ears were getting a bit ‘blocky’, he was generally looking a bit flat. I decided to introduce more shades of brown, I just raided my DMC box and added whatever I fancied. It’s looking so much better! I haven’t gone back to his ears yet, and I want to soften the line round his nose, I just haven’t worked out if I need to blend it in or out or both!

Harold the Hare

I’m planning to make his eyes amber, maybe with two shades, otherwise I just need to keep going with filling in – it’s quite a big area to cover!

Harold the Hare

Last month I went back over to Fabbadashery in Halifax for another workshop with Deborah Mullins. I did a workshop with her earlier in the year on Palestinian Embroidery, that one was on Tahriri Embroidery, beautiful strips of couchwork. I finished that piece eventually and turned it into a bookmark, Deborah was delighted to see the finished embroidery.

Tahriri embroidery

This time she was teaching a piece inspired by Bethlehem embroidery. Bethlehem embroidery is considered the highest quality of the area, original pieces are prized. Rather than working on fabric as would be traditional, this piece is on felt,which adds a different dimension and it’s lovely to stitch.

Deborah makes the felt shapes by hand, our first difficult decision was which colour to choose! I went for teal and tan. We then were given a pack of coordinating threads and wires.

We learnt the chevron stitch first which encloses the centre colour. I used a variegated teal thread alternating with three shades of tan. It took most of the morning! Next we shaped a spiral from copper wire and couched it down, couching variegated thread alongside it to highlight it.

Bethlehem embroidery workshop

We had a choice of borders and I went for a spiralled wire one, they’re quite fiddly to make and even more fiddly to make the same size! I’m about a third of the way round the border.

Bethlehem embroidery

Once the spirals are done there’s lots more filling in and I can titivate it as I please. So, another WIP (work in progress!) to add to my on-going projects!

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A Splendidly Happy Dance

I’ve finally finished my Splendid Sampler 2 quilt! Last night I finished hand-stitching all the binding and this morning I trimmed any loose threads – though I’m bound to have missed some!

Splendid Sampler II

I started this quilt about 18 months ago, it was initially a block of the week quilt organised by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson, the first twenty blocks were released for free, then you bought the book for the rest. Eighty different designers from all over the world have each contributed a block design, so there’s lots of different styles and techniques. I made the first Splendid Sampler quilt and learnt loads.

I did discover that without the organised block of the week and the camaraderie of facebook I’m not that good at pushing myself with a block that looks a lot of work – like lots of 1″ squares!

My original plan was to make two quilts of 49 blocks each as I’ve got enough kingsize quilts and I wanted a pair of quilts to protect a pair of newly covered armchairs from our dog Zac, however Zac is no longer with us and I decided at around block 20 that I would just make one quilt.

Splendid Sampler II

I did as Pat suggested and made the blocks which meant something to me, so there’s sewing, gardening, quilting, nature, walking, and ones I could make my own, sometimes by accident such as the mismatched triangle on the Balance block – perfect for an unbalanced person like me! If you want to read the stories behind the blocks, have a look at the links here.

I started off with a group of fabrics from my stash, I think they were mainly ones I’d bought for my first Splendid Sampler quilt but the colours didn’t quite work. They were a lovely muted collection of blues, greys and teals. I have bought a couple of extras but I’m really pleased that from the huge pile of fabric I worked from, I only have about 1.5m left!

Splendid Sampler II

I used the QAYG technique, so each block was sashed, sandwiched and quilted as I went a long. Like in SS1 I used different fabrics for the backing, so the back is pretty in it’s own right – and it’s much easier to see the quilting on the back!

Splendid Sampler II

I tried lots of different quilting styles and patterns, free motion, in the ditch, I found I was bravest with quilting when I wasn’t so bothered about the block!

Splendid Sampler II

Although it’s only half size, it’s still about 60″ square, a nice size for a throw, but still a bit big to photograph on the floor – my arms just aren’t quite long enough, this was the best I could do!

Splendid Sampler II

I’m really pleased with this one, the colours have worked out well and it’s now in our conservatory, covering our brown settee, it looks much nicer!

Splendid Sampler II
Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Serendipity, Splendid Sampler Quilt | Tagged , | 29 Comments

October Windows

Every month Wild Daffodil hosts a photo challenge on the theme of windows, so I’m always on the look out for photo opportunities! This month I’ve chosen old industrial windows, not pretty but functional!

At my recent trip to Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley I learnt all about north light roof windows, apparently mills are traditionally positioned according to compass points a bit like churches are. The zig-zag windows on the roof always face north so they get lots of light but no direct sunlight to fade the cloth, it keeps temperatures down and avoids hard shadows – I never knew that!

Sunny Bank Mills

Sunny Bank Mills was founded by a group of local weavers in 1812, the current owners are descendants of one of those men, across six generations. It ceased trading as a mill around 2006 and is currently being converted into little business units, it now employs more people than it did as a mill! This view from one of the windows above shows areas being demolished and others which have been renovated. It’s a huge site! There’s art galleries, craft sudios, a textile recycle unit, sewing school…

Sunny Bank Mills

This is one of the renovated buildings, I love the way they have kept all the external signs of its history, such as the iron hoist and old signage. They’ve not prettified it!

Sunny Bank Mills

The lower floors of the mill was pretty dark despite lots of windows, I think this was the original mill building, founded in 1812…

Sunny Bank Mills

This is the entrance to the old mill which we went in as part of the Heritage weekend, this old building is waiting for it’s moment to shine and live again as part of the renovations.

Sunny Bank Mills

For lots more windows (and probably prettier ones!) follow the link to Wild Daffodil.

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A Trio of Textile Trips

I’ve been on three days out with a textile theme over the last few weeks…

At the beginning of September there was the Northern Quilt Festival at Harrogate, this is held twice a year and it’s a nice sized show, not so big you get overwhelmed, it’s reasonably priced and free parking too!

It’s also small enough to take my mum to. We had a good day out, my daughter came too, she was a star, pushing my mum in her wheelchair round so I would have chance to look at the stalls I needed to look at. Of course I bought a few things, my mum bought a few kits too, I didn’t have the heart to say she couldn’t manage them anymore, she was happy in the moment, even though five minutes later she couldn’t remember buying them! There is one which is embroidery rather than cross-stitch, I’m hoping I might be able to make it into two kits and both do it together when I visit.

There were some beautiful quilts on display, we oohed and ahhed over them…

Here in the UK, every September there is a Heritage Weekend. Over the weekend lots of buildings open free to the public, many are ones which are not usually open, or they’ll be ones with interesting histories and they’ll have a tour guide, sometimes the building use has changed completely and you can see the old bits. I decided to go to Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, it was fascinating.

Sunny Bank Mills

It was owned for many years by William Gaunt and it was his grandson (or great grandson!) who showed us round and explained the history behind the mill. It was also an earlier ancestor who was one of the founder members of the first woolen mill there. We went up into a disused building, where I spotted an old Singer treadle base! We learned about the north facing roof windows and the importance of the area in the global wool industry in days gone by. Sunny Bank Mills sadly had to cease weaving a few years ago but the owners have managed to transform it into a business hub, which now employs more people than it did as a mill. It’s also by chance become the biggest hub of creative businesses in West Yorkshire.

Sunny Bank Mills

They have set up an archive room as they are in a unique position of having a complete set of archives, a weaving record of every design they have ever made.

Sunny Bank Mills

On Saturday I went over to Skipton to Yarndale, a wool and textile show held at the Livestock Auction Mart. You wrap up warm for Yarndale as the stalls are where the animals are usually held, so there’s no heating, it’s like one big barn! I was helping to man the Skipton Embroiderers Guild stand during the afternoon, so I got there early so I could have a look round.

It’s interesting people watching at these shows, the ones at Yarndale are completely different to those at the quilting shows, as my friend put it, they’re a lot more bohemian! Lots of brightly coloured hair and amazing knitwear!

I’m not really into knitting or crochet but I could admire the colours of the fine wools, they were beautiful!


There were some beautiful felted creatures on display, this stunning barn owl was by Archies Attic.

Yarndale Archies Attic

Of course I did find a few bits to buy!! One stall sold trims and had this gorgeous variegated ric-rac, it was a bargain at 30p a metre, so I bought all three colourways!! I also bought a fabric dying kit, it was a make mentioned on a course I went on recently and as it had all the extra stuff (such as mordant) you need I thought it was worth it to have a go. Another textile experimental pack looked interesting so that ended up in my bag too! I also bought a very pretty set of embroidered earrings!


All in all, three good days out. The next one planned is the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show at the end of November, I need to start saving now!

Posted in Crafts, Quilting, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Cliff Top Walking

In June my walking buddy and I walked 80 miles of the Cleveland Way over a week, we got as far as Whitby. This left us with another 28 miles to finish the walk, as it’s 108 miles long, stretching from Helmsley to Filey the long way round!

We decided the last section was doable in day trips, it’s a two hour drive there, but it was feasible. Our first plan was to walk from Whitby to Robin Hoods Bay on August Bank Holiday Monday. Neither of us had particularly walked over the summer, so this would break us in gently – 6.5 miles.

Then I started thinking! – this was like the night before!! If we could manage an extra 4 miles to Ravenscar, we would be left with two good 9 mile-ish day walks to finish the Way, it would save us driving all that way for a short walk at the end. Good plan…

Only I didn’t bank on it being the hottest August Bank Holiday since records began! We decided to walk to Robin Hoods Bay and then see how we felt.

Cleveland Way

Starting in Whitby down by the Harbour, our first climb of the day was almost immediate – the famous 199 steps up to the church and abbey. I was really pleased as we pretty much flew up there. You can see the steps on the photo above, you get a lovely view of the town…

Cleveland Way

We were then just walking along the cliff path, it was very warm but hazy. After about a mile we passed Whitby’s former Fog Signal Station, I must admit I’ve never seen foghorns on land before, it was in use from 1902 to 1988.

Cleveland Way

Shortly after we passed the lighthouse, this one is on the cliff top but it’s still surprisingly low built.

Cleveland Way

The hazy light made for some beautiful views along the coast.

Cleveland Way

It wouldn’t be the Cleveland Way without lots of steps! Although we were walking along the cliff tops, the path regularly went down ravines…and back up the other side. It didn’t always help to be able to see all the steps you were about to tackle!

Cleveland Way

We had clear blue skies all day…

Cleveland Way

Our destination for lunch gradually came into view. Robin Hoods Bay is a gorgeous little fishing village, all higgledy piggledy cottages clinging to the sides of the ravine.

Cleveland Way

It’s a very popular day tripper destination and being Bank Holiday Monday it was heaving with tourists, so no photos of the actual village I’m afraid, just one from the clifftop as we were looking back.

Cleveland Way

Destination was in sight, just to the top of the far headland…

Cleveland Way

We finally arrived at Ravenscar, a funny little place, a town that never was! There were great plans in Victorian times to build a new resort, roads were laid, station and hotel built and then it all went bust!

We’d walked 10.5 miles in very hot weather!

Cleveland Way

A week later we returned to walk the next section to Scarborough. It’s always encouraging when you can see where you are aiming for and we could just make out the outline of Scarborough Castle peeping above the headland in the middle

Cleveland Way

The farmers had all been busy making hay…

Cleveland Way

Scarborough Castle still seemed a long way away but it was definately getting nearer…

Cleveland Way

I was obviously not as inspired with photos that day, but we made it, 10 miles to Scarborough, finishing with a bus ride along the sea front rather than walking 3 miles along road, the guide book suggested it, so we weren’t cheating!

We’re now just left with 8 miles from Scarborough to Filey and we will have finished the Cleveland Way, weather permitting we are hoping to walkn it next Monday.

Posted in Serendipity, Walking | Tagged | 21 Comments

Down the Rabbit Hole HQAL

One of these days I shall surprise you all and finish this quilt, just not today!

I’m still working on the big wide rabbit border and quilting the outer diamond one as I go along. I’ve made reasonable progress on it though, three weeks ago I had quilted one and a half sides…

Down the Rabbit Hole

I’ve now turned another corner and last night I quilted the next running rabbit and most of the diamonds on the next side too. This was because the next side needs the lines marking with my ceramic pencil, this requires a large hard surface, namely my dining room table in the conservatory, and good light, which the conservatory has not got in the evenings.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Having completed over half of this big final border I do feel I’m on the home stretch, I still need to remove a lot of the straight machine basting threads you can see and I mustn’t forget there’s about half of the inner circle still needs quilting as I was struggling with it big time when I started quilting this mammoth quilt. Then it’s just the binding and a good wash – seen as it’s been quite a long time in the making!

Hand Quilt Along Links

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

Kathy, MargaretEmmaTracyDeb, Susan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrinGretchen and Kathi

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, why not follow the link for even more hand-stitching.

Posted in Down The Rabbit Hole, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments