Tuesday’s Totter Round the Garden

Last week the weather was beautiful here in Yorkshire, sunny, warm, dry, perfect gardening weather! As I’m self isolating in the house and garden anyway, it was an ideal time to get caught up in the garden. Whilst I’m not completely caught up, I’ve done an awful lot of weeding and pruning, working my way methodically round the garden. Even now it’s a lot cooler I’m managing to get a couple of hours each day out there.

The daffodils are still cheering up the garden, the bigger ones are in flower now, though there’s still a few clumps in bud by the back hedge which will hopefully flower in the next couple of weeks.

My magnolia stellata is just starting to flower too, it’s probably my favourite tree in the garden, especially in the spring when it is covered with papery, white blossoms. They do discolour if we have a frost, but there’s usually plenty more flowers to replace them.

I’ve finished weeding and tidying the patio area, we just need to get the chairs out of storage so we can sit here for our morning coffee, this is the best spot for the morning sun…

I’ve pruned and weeded most of the amber and amethyst garden, I say most as I just have the bit behind the obelisk to do, and I need to straighten the obelisk and tie the rose down! This is where we sit for the afternoon sun! OK so this is where we sat and shared a bottle of wine on Thursday afternoon! All the usual rules of after 5pm and not on a school night have gone out of the window with the lockdown! It was very pleasant!

As you can see I’ve also weeded and tidied the autumn garden in the foreground. I only planted this last year and I’ve been pleased with it as there’s always something of interest.

I’ve even managed to prune the big rose hedge – some of those thorns are evil!! and weeded underneath too. I’m waiting for my OH to dismantle the right hand side of the compost heap so I can tackle the nettles in there. We’ve got a hot composter now so we will gradually be emptying this one – more planting room!

There’s all sorts of perennials starting to appear, this is when the danger time is, is it a weed or a plant!! I have to make a concerted effort to remember where my geums are as I have a big problem with the weed version of it!! I’m sure over the years I’ve dug up several bought geums! The weeds also hide in amongst geraniums – they’re sneaky things!

This is a lupin just starting to appear, I think it’s a nice deep purple one. The leaves look very pretty as they unfurl, especially with the drop of water in the centre…

This is the area I’ve been working on today, so it’s already looking better!! I’ve got as far as the sedum on the right, so that’s had it’s old stems cut back. It really needs dividing but it will wait until the autumn. I’ve still the big area by the tall fence to tackle and the corner behind the summerhouse which I call my wild garden!

Then I can start the front garden! There’s no peace for the wicked 🙂

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Harold the Hare

It’s three weeks since I shared my finished Finery of Nature cross-stitch, it still gives me a warm glow when I see it in our bedroom! I’ve decided my next two projects here need to be my UFO’s. Last year I went on some workshops at Fabbadashery in Halifax, one of them was by Anne Brooke. She started us off on her design called Harold the Hare.

I have kept at it, albeit very slowly! I tended to work on it at my Embroiderers Guild meeting, so that’s at least one day a month!! Last time I showed it to you was in October, this is as far as I’d got…

Last night I dug it out again. I think one reason I kept shelving it was that I couldn’t get certain bits as good as I would have liked. I was happy with his eyes, but not his nose. I had followed the instructions and stitched a line of stem stitch around his nose, but that just seemed to look like a dark band. My eye was constantly drawn to it.

I decided last night to try and rectify it. I started by using a couple of threads of dark brown to do long and short sitch over the stem stitch, trying to merge it a bit into the surrounding areas.All the main stitching is done with three threads, so quite chunky for me.

Over-stitching the line helped, but it still wasn’t right, but at least I knew I was going in the right direction. I then tried a single thread of lighter brown floss, again doing long and short stitch, trying to merge it more. It’s not perfect but I’m a lot happier with it.

I then started filling in the body, I’m just using a mix of browns which I happen to have in my stash. The kit provided just used one range of brown, it was the DMC ones around 05 or 06, I felt it needed some warmer tones in as well. At one point I was thinking if I can get his head and shoulders right, I might just shrink the design, but last night I made a fair bit of progress, so we shall see.

Next I need to tackle the ears!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, we share our progress every three weeks, it’s a great motivator! If you would like to join our little party, please send Avis a message. Otherwise please follow the links to see what everyone has been stitching at this crazy time!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny, Laura, Cathie, Linda

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

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Anthea SAL

I’ve just finished this month’s stitching for the Anthea SAL by Faby Reilly. The stitch-a-long is of a flower themed design for each month, you can either stitch them into one big picture or individually. I’m doing them individually, but just in case I might catch up with my projects, I’ve doubled the workload on this one by also stitching a facing page as I’m going to make mine into a textile book.

March’s flower could only be one thing (if you live in this part of the world!) …daffodils! The flower synonymous with spring, it cheers us up as it heralds the end of a long, dark winter. Years ago the councils around the country planted lots of bulbs in the road embankments, each year they increased and now they give an amazing show. They do lift the spirits!

Anyway, here’s Faby’s beautiful version…

I’ve stitched it on a linen called lambs wool, it’s a bit more creamy than it looks in the photo. I love the way the stems are woven together.

For my facing page I’m stitching a wordplay, using the colours of the flower page and trying to include a design aspect from it too. I now have a huge amount of respect for Faby as even trying to include the gold lines was difficult!! Trying to work out how to space them so the Algerian crosses would be right caused a fair bit of concentration!

This page is actually stitched on a soft green linen, not the grey it looks like in the photo!

I’m trying to include a couple of memorable dates in the wordplay, a quote and flowers and birds in our garden too. I’m also trying to keep it positive and optomistic – not easy this month!!

The quote at the bottom was my parents favourite quote, it was meant to be included in mum’s funeral service, but what with all the panic over covid as we headed rapidly into lockdown, I think the vicar forgot it. My mum’s was the last funeral he could do before it became immediate family only. I decided to include it here as it seems pretty apt at the moment, and it includes my mum’s funeral without actually listing it. It’s actually part of a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins, commonly known as ‘The Gate of the Year’.

Other entries;

It was our wedding anniversary on the 17th and on the 22nd it was Mothers Day here in the UK.

We had lots of long tailed tits in the garden in March, they are tiny, pretty little birds, in wintertime particularly they go round in flocks of ten or twelve birds as they all roost together in the same hole to try and keep warm. They flutter one by one through the trees til they reach the bird feeders and then all try and feed together!

Narcissus is the latin name for daffodils, lungwort is the old name for pulmonaria which has been flowering all month in my garden. It was called lungwort as it was thought to treat lung diseases, mainly because the leaves look vaguely like lungs! Pulmonaria is a prettier name but lungwort is shorter to fit in!!

We’ve seen the first bumblebees out in the garden this month, another sign that things are warming up. In March hares are often seen acting erratically and boxing with each other, generally excitable as they enter their breeding season. There’s an old English saying ‘Mad as a March Hare’

Faby will be releasing next months pattern shortly, in the meantime we’ll have to wait to see what flower will represent April.

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Counting Sheep

I stitch for lots of reasons, I found over the last couple of weeks that a little cross-stitch helps to keep me calm, in the hours before my mum’s funeral I stitched, a couple of times I woke up at 3am, as I was still awake at 4am I got up, made a cup of tea and did some cross-stitch, counting crosses instead of counting sheep!

Ironically one of the pieces I stitched in a matter of days was a sheep, a few months ago I bought the set of Little House Needleworks Little Sheep Virtues second hand, so they haven’t got the buttons in, but all I really need is the pattern. I’d got a hair appointment on Tuesday – a colour one, so I’d be there a coupe of hours! I felt I needed a nice simple cross-stitch and these fitted the bill. I chose the one called ‘Peace’, it seemed rather apt.

I changed the colours slightly to a softer green range. I also used a variegated thread for the border which I am really pleased with. I finished it last night, so I just need to make it up now. I think the sheep is so cute…

Another finish last week is called Hive, I can’t remember the designer but there’s a whole series of cross-stitches based on four letter words, I’m sure I’ve got another one somewhere for leaf. It’s very pretty and one which brings happy memories of my mum as I had been stitching it during my last few visits to see her. She loved seeing what I was working on.

So I’ve got three cross-stitch smalls waiting to be made up with the shamrock one I did earlier in the month – I’d better get stitching!

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Monday's Meander Round the Garden

We’ve had some lovely spring weather over the last few days, warm (for March!!) sunny, dry, we’ve even managed a cup of tea sitting in the sun…

As I’m now isolated til June I’m going to make a concerted effort to get on top of our garden! I’ve spent several hours each day over the weekend, cutting back, pruning and of course weeding! I’m trying to do an area at a time, rather than flitting about. I’ve been concentrating on the patio beds and in particular the big raised bed.

It looks a lot tidier than it did! As you can see my miniature flowering cherry is in blossom, it’s such a pretty little thing, I’ve probably had it about five years, so I don’t think it’s going to grow much bigger! Here’s a close up…

I planted my first purchase of the year too, a white peony from Otley market, I’ve planted it in the bed just by the arch which is mainly whites and creams, it looks lovely from the conservatory on a summers evening.

I finally pruned a lot of roses last week, but I still have a lot of weeding to do in this part of the garden, the shrubs are all just starting to come into leaf though.

Bird feeders are great time wasters! I can sit for ages watching the birds visiting our feeders, first to go is usually the sunflower hearts! At the moment regular visitors include bull finches, goldfinches, greenfinch, bluetits, great tits, coal tits, long tailed tits, robins and underneath picking up the scraps are dunnocks and blackbirds, together with the cutest little pair of mice.

I think I can find plenty to keep myself occupied!

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Textile Memories

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a textile book of all the finished and unfinished crafty things we found when clearing my mum’s house when she went into a care home a couple of years ago. I had started it a few months ago but I was spurred on to finish it as I wanted it on display at her funeral this week. It was quite therapeutic working on it.

I showed you some of the pages last week…

Well I finished it just in time. I decided to edge the pages with a simple zig-zag, it doesn’t make as neater finish as I prefer, but it was manageable considering the number of pages I had to do, I zig-zagged round them all once and then a second time, but this time I used an overlocking thread which is slightly ‘fluffier’ to give coverage. I wondered about using different colours for each page, but the thought of trying to co-ordinate back and front colours – I just used grey!

Some of the pages have pockets I can keep things in…

The square embroidered bag contains letters I found between my parents before they were married. The tall purse contains bookmarks my mum bought on visits out. She wrote on the back who she was with and when, there were dozens of them but these were ones with my children.

The embroidered bible covers have little paintings slotted in their end pieces. There are bigger pictures in the cover pockets of the book.

The ‘I’ below was on a cushion, I used it for the opening page. The quilts in the background were two quilts she made years ago which were well used to the point of being threadbare in places. I have lots of happy memories with these quilts as they were up in my mum’s weekend cottage in West Witton in Wensleydale.

I took an idea from the Stitchbook Experience books and used a bead inbetween each page, it just helped to space the pages, particularly as some were quite bulky.

The outer cover is made from a larger cross-stitch with some uphosltery fabric both as back and lining. One of the buttons covers a stain which didn’t come out with washing! I made it long enough so I could fold the ends over to make pockets for paintings. I found some stiff interfacing in my stash, I wasn’t sure if it was the iron on one or not, anyway I slotted it in place and ironed it, it was, the lining side is stuck to the stiffener.

I’ve really pleased with how it’s come out, I’ve one large piece of embroidery left which is going to be made into a bag to keep it in. To give you an idea of size, the

I took it along to the funeral tea but sadly due to the lockdown with corona virus, hardly anyone could come – put it this way our catering numbers went from 40 to 15 the day before the funeral. If it was happening now we wouldn’t even be allowed that many! It was hard as it doesn’t seem a fair reflection of her life, but we moved the service to the Lady Chapel and this made it a nice intimate service with close family and friends, rather than rattling round in a big church. These are difficult times.

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March Smalls

I’ve only just got round to changing my smalls display, partly because I was enjoying the Faby Reilly ones so much. However, as it’s over half way through March I decided it was time for a change.

It’s our wedding anniversary today, thirteen years ago it was a crisp and sunny day with a little snow still on the ground…

I decided to have all the lovey-dovey Valentiney ones for March, plus a couple of spring ones…

There’s still four Faby Reilly designs there, the roses card, the two hearts (one of them is Christmassy but I don’t care!) and of course my Zoe box. The others are from various designers.

There’ll be another one added to the pile soon hopefully, Faby released a free design of a little shamrock for St Patricks Day. It was very quick to stitch, it’s less than 2″ square and it’s pretty cute too, just needs making into a small. Here’s a link to the freebie…

I’ve a couple of smalls waiting to be made up now, so there’ll hopefully be some new ones ready for April, not long now!

Posted in embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged | 12 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

I feel spring has finally sprung, we’ve had some lovely sunny days with just a touch of warmth to them. There’s all sorts coming up in the garden and the trees are just starting to coming into leaf. I love the bright, fresh green of the new growth, all the trees leaf at different times, this is a philadelphus shrub on the back lane.

I managed to get out into the garden a couple of times this week, though I’m still way behind on jobs! I’ve made a good start on pruning my roses, better late than never! I’ve rather a lot of roses, but I’ve managed to do all the individual bushes, just got the big hedge along the back fence to do…oh and the climbing ones!

I had a good tidy up round the pond, though as you can see I didn’t do the actual pond! I cut down most of the old hellebore leaves which shows the flowers better. Ive still a few dead stems to remove but it’s a lot tidier than it was.

This wine coloured hellebore is still my favourite, it’s such a beautiful deep burgundy. I bought it on Otley market 2 or 3 years back.

The pulmonaria, or lungwort, is providing a pretty flash of blue around the garden, this clump is underneath a rhodedendron bush next to the pond.

The camellia which is next to the conservatory has just started to flower, this is the one I rescued from my mum’s as two bare twigs, barely alive, it always makes me think of her, happy memories. Underneath is Jack Frost, a brunnera which is just showing a few flowers, it’s got a long way to go though before it’s in full bloom. As you can see my weeding hasn’t got this far yet!!

There’s new shoots all over the garden, this little one is a pulsatilla, or pasque flower, it will hopefully be open around Easter. I think the seed heads afterwards are just as pretty as the flowers, they’re sort of silver fluffy things.

Spring wouldn’t be the same without daffodils, they’re so bright and cheerful after the long winter. I like these little tete-a-tete ones, they’re only small but highly scented, they seem to survive the March weather better than the tall ones. They’re also some of the first ones in our garden, much earlier than the bigger ones.

Once I’ve got this week out of the way I need to hit the ground running with the garden, otherwise I’ll be playing catch up all year.

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Coming Home HQAL

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my coming home quilt, a lot has happened in those three weeks so I haven’t got much done, but I have made progress!

Three weeks ago I was trying to choose colours for the birds in each corner…

Well after much playing around, I realised that the colours that worked depended on the colous of the nearby houses, not surprising really! So, I have a different coloured bird in each corner, a blue one, a purple, a peach and a taupe one. I’ve cut them all out, keeping the pieces safe in an organza bag for the time being.

I started hand-stitching the first corner, I’ve just a few more leaves and then a bias-binding vine to stitch on. Hopefully now I’ve made my decisions I should be able to crack on with it.

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,  EdithSharonKarrin, Gretchen, Kathi,  Bella, Daisy and Connie

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the links for lots of hand-stitched inspiration.

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The Finery of Nature SAL

I still can’t quite believe I’m writing this, it’s just over twelve months since I started my Finery of Nature and it’s time for a very Happy Dance!!! I’ve actually finished it! It’s a Dimensions kit I got from the sales table at my Embroiderers Guild, I’m not sure how long it had been in someone’s stash as the copyright is from the 1990’s.

It was meant to be stitched on black aida as you can see, I knew my eyes weren’t up to stitching that amount on black, so I changed it for a soft green linen. This led to a couple of other changes, the biggest one being omitting all the gold thread and changing it to other colours as needs be.

Anyway, three weeks ago I was here, having just finished the cross-stitch for the butterflies…

I suddenly got an urge to really crack on with it, I finished all the surrounding plants and flowers and added the back-stitching on the butterflies. I stuck to the recommended black back-stitch for the blue and gold one, but I changed to a lighter colour for the cream butterfly.

All I had to do then was finish the border…

I was planning to change the earlier french knots on the pink roses as the later ones are smaller, which looks better. However when I looked at them they were so closely stitched that I decided I would spoil it if I tried to remove them.

So here is the finished piece, The Finery of Nature…

I’m really please with it, I love how many of the colours stand out so much more than on black, especially the flowers. I took it straight down to Art Works, the framers I trust with my needlework in Otley. The picture is already hanging on my bedroom wall…

I now need to choose my next project, I’ve decided it will be one of the two embroideries I have on-going since workshops last year, either the hare or the Bethlehem embroidery. Both need finishing.

This SAL is organised by Avis, we share our progress every three weeks and it is a great incentive to keep going on a project. If you would like to join us just send a message to Avis. Please follow the links to see lots more stitching…

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny, Laura, Cathie, Linda

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

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 35 Comments