Garden Visitors

I forgot to mention some extra garden visitors we’ve had in my usual Monday garden post, so I thought I’d give them their own post!

In our garden, just by the conservatory, we have a bird feeder, one of those that has four hangers on it so we can offer a variety to our feathered friends, such as sunflower seeds, peanuts,fat balls and a mixed seed. It’s a great time waster, I can spend hours just sitting and watching them flit in and out.

Our regular visitors include bullfinch, goldfinch and greenfinch, four different types of tits as well as the usual blackbirds, robins and sparrows. During an unexpected snowfall a few weeks ago when the roads ground to a halt, I spotted another little visitor, a tiny field mouse, scurrying around picking up all the dropped seeds. There’s always plenty on the floor as the finches in particular are either very fussy or very messy eaters – they seem to drop more then they eat!

I deduced that they live in the old, rotten raised bed by the wall under a heap of geraniums and clematis. Of course we soon also deduced there were two! They’re very sweet, scampering about the foliage.

Well at the weekend I was watching for birds when I saw one of them scaling the honeysuckle next to the feeders. He tried to get across on on tiny thin twig, it was quite amusing to see his tail waving madly as he tried to keep his balance. He obviously decided that wasn’t going to work and tried a higher branch which got him neatly onto the peanut feeder.

I watched him for a while, then I had time to go up stairs, find my camera, change the lens, come back down and still had time to take lots of photos – he must have been there at least ten minutes! Isn’t he cute! I like seeing little mice around the garden, though anything bigger is to be discouraged!!

Yesterday we were sat out enjoying the sunshine and a butterfly came and landed on me. I think it’s a comma butterfly – I even saw the tiny white marking on the underneath of it’s wings which give it it’s name! He would stay for a few minutes, sitting on my arm or my finger, flutter off for a minute, then come back again. He spent the best part of half an hour with me. He is beautiful, it was nice seeing it so close too, his body is an emerald green colour in part!

This is the silver lining to my social isolation – I’ve got time to sit and watch and enjoy the garden visitors! Hope you’re all keeping safe.

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

The lovely spring weather continues in this little part of Yorkshire, sunny and warm for the time of year. I’ve managed to continue my big tidy up of the garden, almost finishing the back, almost but not quite! I’ve had to take it a little easier this week as after last weeks work I was heading rapidly towards a repetitive strain injury, so I’m being careful how I do things like weeding…and alternating it with sewing!

The garden looked lovely just after breakfast in the fresh morning light, especially the magnolia stellata covered in white blooms, the scent is gorgeous too when we walk up the path …

The patio area is as tidy as it’s going to get, it always amazes me at this time of year when I remember that probably in less than two months, these two walls will be invisible, totally covered by foliage. When I started planning this garden one of my aims was that this would look like a 10′ bank of plants, with the two beds and the roses above, it probably took about 10 years, but I’ve finally got there!

The camellias are starting to flower, the deep pink one by the conservatory is covered in flowers at the moment. There’s a little one in a pot with a single beautiful flower of the palest pink. Unfortunately it’s already tinged with brown from a coldnight, when I see another perfect one I’ll show you!

At the base of the camellia is a brunnera called Jack Frost, I bought it a few years ago at the Harrogate show, I love it, at this time of year it’s covered in intense blue flowers, a bit like forget-me-nots, they last for ages, and underneath is a bed of variegated leaves…and it likes my clay soil!

I’ve been weeding and tidying the big rose border by the summerhouse over the last couple of days. Weeds are a big problem in this bed, especially bind weed, so I’ve been digging up routes as much as I can, I’m hoping to be more methodical with the weedkiller this year to hopefully get on top of it. Growing up the big fence which the neighbours put up a couple of years ago, I’ve got several clematis, a wisteria and a climbing rose, hoping to gradually cover it.

The Pasque flowers are looking pretty at the moment, just in time for Easter. I’ve got a few of them around one side of the patio, I like them as not only are their flowers pretty, their seed heads are lovely too, like fluffy cotton heads, on top of some nice foliage…and they’re pretty undemanding too!

So this week I need to finish off the pond area and also work on the wild corner behind the summerhouse! Then I think I might actually have caught up in the back garden…then onto the front!

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Coming Home Hand Quilt – a- long

I’ve actually made pretty good progress over the last three weeks, I found the hand quilting was a great thing to do whilst watching Bluprint classes! Bluprint (the old and well loved Craftsy) has all classes for free at the moment, I think it’s til 9th April, so far I’ve watched one on sewing sheer fabrics and I’ve almost finished a bra making one, they’ve both been very good and I’ve picked up lots of tips…whilst cracking on with my quilt.

Three weeks ago I was still sewing the first corner of the big border with it’s bird and vine, I still had five leaves to stitch and the actual vine…

Well I finally finished cutting out all eighty leaves, which was a mammoth task in itsself, I’ve got everything glued onto the corners so I don’t lose any of those pesky leaves and I’m working my way round.

You’ll have to excuse the scrunchieness of the quilt at the moment, it is tending to be heaped up and scrunched up as I work round.

I’ve stitched all the birds on, I have a bluebird, a peach bird, a purple one and a brown one. The bluebird corner is now finished apart from the vine which I’m going to do last…

I stitched all the peach drops on next. This is the peach bird corner which is finished apart from two sets of leaves I seem to have missed!

I stitched all the blue dots on in the corners. On the purple bird corner I’ve just started the leaves…

…and the brown bird corner leaves have still to be started!

So in terms of the whole corner blocks, I’m getting there, four birds stitched, four dots and drops stitched, just got the pesky leaves to finish! There’s eighty of them altogether, yes, EIGHTY!!! I’m exactly half way with those. Once the leaves are on I can make the bias binding for the vine and stitch it on and another border will be finished.

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 link for more hand stitched inspiration.

Posted in Coming Home Quilt, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , | 14 Comments

April Smalls

I changed all my cross-stitch smalls over today, I’ve got all my spring and Easter ones out, it almost doesn’t seem real that it’s nearly Easter already, but next weekend it’ll be here! It was nice to rummage through my box of smalls and find all the ones with cute bunnies on (of which there’s quite a few!!) and pretty spring ones.

Firstly I made sure my two cross-stitch boxes had the right seasonal side on display, one is a Betsy Morgan etui box, the other is the Zoe box by Faby Reilly. The two great tits I stitched for a wedding anniversary card last year complete the back shelf.

I then arranged my other smalls on the wooden dish in front…

The four blue ones at the front of geese and ducks are pretty old, they were actually bibs and nappy pin holders from when my children were babies – so that’s about 25 years old! A couple of years ago I decided to cut up the bibs and enjoy them as smalls.

The cute rabbit holding a daisy is by Dany Chevallier, it’s called Ambience Printemps, there’s another one in the series which is on my to do list. April is from the Joyful World SAL by the Snowflake Diaries and the Hello Spring one is by Il Est Cinq Heures.

There’s quite a fluffle of bunnies there, I count six rabbits and five geese!

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Globes and Spheres

This year my Embroiderers Guild are doing travelling sketchbooks again, it’ll be the third time I’ve done it I think, I find it really pushes me creative-wise as I have to think up my own design. January was spent starting a new book, as I was sending last years book round again (on the theme of Christmas) I didn’t have to do anything. Our February meeting was the first swop of books.

I had to do an embroidery on the theme of globes and spheres, only I remembered the theme as including circles, so I later had to work out how my idea of circles could fit into the right theme!

Someone on facebook had been stitching some beautiful inchies,very pretty and delicate. I thought I could make four inchies, each on the theme of circles, but with a big circle running through them.

I found some silk noile which has a nice texture to it, I cut four squares and then used a simple running stitch to attach each one to a backing of calico to give a bit of support. I drew a circle with a silver gel pen to give me just a faint outline before again using a running stitch of silver lame thread to form the circle.

My original plan was to just stitch different types of circles, this was the point at which I realised it was meant to be globes and spheres, so I had to think quickly how my ideas could still be interpreted as that!! Hoar frost….

…I remembered the morning earlier this year when we had a very heavy hoar frost, I’ve never seen it quite like it was, the iris leaves had a line of dew drops (spheres!!) along each thin leaf, roses had a drop on every serated edge of their leaves, the old allium heads were like silver tracery balls, every blade of grass was coated in tiny silver beads…

So the silver circle became an iris leaf with beads along it, I cut a hole and blanket-stitched round with a sparkly bead on every stitch, just like the leaves…

I stitched another square with different types of circles, such as couched, woven, sequins, these are like the little mounds of moss we have on the walls – they look like mini hedgehogs in the frost!

For another inchie I used the silver thread again, just one thread, to make fly-stitches in a circle like an allium head…

For the final inchie I thought of all the stars in the night sky which appear on such cold nights…

The stitchbook collective proved very useful for this one, I drew a lot of ideas from the texture pieces we stitched at the beginning. Considering what was going on in my life at the time, I was pretty pleased with this one. I think I just about got away with spheres and globes – the lady whose book it is seemed very happy anyway! We managed to swop books again just before the lockdown, so now I’ve to think of something on the theme of King Arthur and the Round Table!

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A Bag for Memories

I’m trying to play catch up before I start any new projects, tidy up loose ends as it were. In some ways I don’t feel I’ve achieved much over the last couple of weeks, but a lot of it is working on existing projects with not a lot of finshes! My daughter on the other hand has been quarantined for less than a week and so far she’s made a skirt, a pretty blouse, another top and a tweed jacket!!

One finish I have is a bag for my mum’s textile memory book which I finished a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to make a bag to store it in, keep the dust off it.

There was one large embroidery of my mum’s left which was too big to go in the book, it’s a crewel work embroidery of different herbs and spices, not quite finished, but near enough.

It wasn’t quite wide enough for what I wanted but I had a plan! I found a length of soft furnishing fabric in my stash which matched pretty well so I used that for the back, I extended the sides slightly to make it a little bigger and then just flattened tube for the bottom seam. I used some bias binding round the to so I didn’t lose any length from turning the raw edge under.

It’s very simple but it does the job. There’s also room in it for a patchwork bag my mum made, I’ve put all the sympathy cards and letters we received in there, together with a copy of my tribute and also the book ‘Dear Mum’ These books were popular about 10 years ago, I haven’t seen them recently but it’s a great idea. I gave my mum the book for Christmas, it asks all the questions you never get round to asking, my mum filled it in and gave it back. It’s a lovely book to treasure now.

I’ve tied the whole bag with some coordinating ribbon and now I just need to clear a space on our old pine chest to keep it on.

Posted in embroidery, Home, Sewing, Textile Books | Tagged , | 16 Comments


Here in the UK alot of people are making rainbows to display in their windows, something bright and cheerful in these dark times. Children have drawn them, painted them, quilters have made blocks or even whole quilts. One of my friends made a length of bunting to go in the window, it looked fab!

My initial thought was that I didn’t have much in the way of rainbow colours – I don’t tend to go for bright primary colours in quilts. Then I remembered I have red and green – for Christmas! I have some yellow as Freddie at work wanted a yellow scrub hat…I must have some pink and purple and a bit of blue…

I started pulling out fat quarters from my stash, they’re not all bright, but all together I felt I had enough. The deciding factor was finding a roll of inch wide cotton tape left from last time I made bunting!

I dug out May Martin’s book which includes a quick way of making bunting, I had to adapt it as it’s meant for half yard lengths of fabric and mine were all sorts of shapes and sizes, but basically you draw on the triangles, diamond fashion, then stitch either side of the line right across the fabric, you can then just cut them up between the stitching lines. It’s certainly quick, even with a bit of dawdling I made over 50 pennants over the afternoon in about eight different colours, 16 different fabrics. Even turning them and pressing them didn’t seem to take too long. They’re not perfectly made by a long stretch, there’s joins mid triangle, my seamsceratinly weren’t overly straight, one fabric is even inside out, but when they’re fluttering in the breeze no one will notice!

Yesterday evening I stitched them all onto the tape, working my way through the colours and the different sides of the fabric. At a rough estimate I think it’s about 30m long!

This morning, feeling a little conspicuous, I went out and tied it up. It starts at our bedroom window – I looped it over the handle and then through it out! I then had to keep throwing it over the bushes to get it to where I wanted, round the telegraph pole, which conveniently has a metal bit which will stop it slipping down. It then goes across the front to the fir tree, I wish I could have got it a bit higher but that was all I could reach. I then headed back towards the house, I was hoping to get to the drainpipe but I was about 2′ short, so it’s stopped on a buddleja instead. Maybe when someone a bit taller helps (at a distance!!) I’ll be able to move everything along a bit so it will reach.

The weather even provided a good breeze to make it flutter! The neighbour opposite has already commented how much it cheered her up, in the photo you can also just see the children’s painting nextdoor – an awesome rainbow 🙂 It will make my OH smile too when he gets home from work, he once admitted he loves a bit of bunting!

Posted in Garden, Home, Sewing | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Foot Square Freestyle

For a few years now Kate from Tall Tales from Chiconia has organised Foot Square Freestyle, or F2F, I’ve always watched with interest from afar, but this year I decided to join in. I haven’t got quilt-a-long commitments this year, so I felt I could commit to F2F, little did I know how this year was going to pan out!! It’s got to improve soon!!!

F2F is a quilt block swop, there are nine of us situated all around the world. We have each chosen a colour scheme, provided a ‘mood board’ and we have all been allocated a month. Each month everyone makes the lucky person three 12″ blocks in their colour scheme and posts them off. By the end of the year everyone will have enough blocks to make themselves a quilt full of friendship from around the globe.

We started in February and Tracy was the first lucky recipient, her colours were Christmassy, reds. greens and pudding browns. I found some cute Christmas fabrics on line and chose three blocks out of a book I picked up somewhere – it’s called A block a Day – 365 blocks, one for every day of the year! This one was my first one…

I was hoping to tell you the name of the block but I can’t find it now!!

The second block is the Alexander star, made just in two colours…

The final block for Tracy is called the Four patch Friendship Star, which I thought was fairly apt…

I managed to get these made and posted just before everything went pearshaped. Whilst all these came from the book, I did struggle with the instructions, the author uses a completely different method of describing how to make the blocks which I found totally confusing. At times I just worked it out from the photograph.

The blocks for March were for Sue, her colours were trues blues and browns. I managed to find some blues in my stash which worked well together. I tried a block of flying geese from the book but they didn’t come out quite straight enough, so they’re in the scrap box! It probably didn’t help that this was the first quarter inch seams I’d done on my new machine, it took a while to find the right settings – somehow they’re never just bang on straight! However I also abandoned the book and looked to Pinterest for inspiration! I found two lovely blocks there…

My first one was from Quilted Kitchen, it’s officially called Key Lime Pie, as mine is blue I’m calling it Blueberry Pie. The instructions were great and it went together pretty easily. I tried out my new wool ironing mat with this one, it’s wonderful, the seams look so much crisper! I’m definitely a convert!

The second block is my favourite so far! It’s by the Emerald Coast Modern Quilt Group and it’s called Circle of Friends – isn’t that a lovely name, very apt for a block swop. It’s a lovely crisp, clean block, I needed a few extra fabrics and it took a couple of days on my design wall to get the placement right, but I’m happy with this one! The bottom square doesn’t look as skewy in real life!!

For the final block I did go back to the book, but I just worked out my own way of doing it from the photo. It’s called Little Basket, I’m pretty pleased with my triangles on this one.

April’s colours are peacock inspired, I think I just might have a few suitable fabrics for this one! Do have a look at the F2F Gallery to see what everyone else has made.

Posted in F2F, Quilting | Tagged , | 4 Comments

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.

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 29 Comments