Winter Dress

I’ve been pretty busy in my sewing room this week, I’ve had a weeks holiday from work and I’ve made the most of it!Last month Ali from @akathimberlina organised a sewing meet up in Dewsbury. Clearly I don’t need any more fabric but it’s nice to go and socialise for the day with fellow stitchers who understand!! There’s lots of fabric stroking and one girl’s coat was tried on by about six of us, much to the amusement of one elderly couple in the pub!

Of course I ended up buying some fabric,one length was this gorgeous teal fabric. I have no idea what kind of fabric it is, it feels like suede, it’s satin on the back and it drapes beautifully. It was only £5/m from Lucky Fashions, I bought enough to make a dress.

I decided to make Vogue 2412, I think it’s out of print now, I picked it up at a pattern swop at one of the sewing meet-ups. I made two dresses out of it last winter and they’ve proved good staple wardrobe pieces, I’ve worn them a lot…

Vogue 2412

Both are in boiled wool…

Vogue 2412

I decided to make the collarless one again. The only alteration I made was to take a smidgen off the centre back, mainly as a way of lifting the sleeves a little. It was literally just half a centimetre – so I don’t think that is the reason this one feels a little narrow across my back! I think it is probably that this one doesn’t have any give.

It’s still easy to wear though…

Vogue 2412

I’m really pleased with this dress, it was pretty quick to make, the fabric was easy to sew, just a bit tricky to press, I ended up using my pressing cloth all the time which does make it a little more difficult to get things like darts perfectly pressed – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

I overlocked all the inside edges and made a decorative hem with the scallop stitch on my machine. The photos were taken after I’d been wearing it all day, hence it isn’t beautifully pressed!

Vogue 2412

I’m quite proud that this length of fabric never even made it to my stash!!

Editors note; if my daughter was taking the photos she would have sent me off to comb my hair – looks like it was a hat wearing day!!

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December Smalls

I haven’t got round to decorating the house for Christmas yet, but I did rummage through the Christmas boxes to find all my Christmas cross-stitch smalls…

Christmas Smalls

It makes a nice gentle start to the decorations!

Quite a few of these are Faby Reilly designs, I did a Christmas stitch-a-long last year to make four Christmas cards, I turned the designs into smalls instead, I gave one as a present but I kept the other three…

There’s also two of Faby’s cross-stitch humbugs which I made two or three years ago…

The little gingerbread mouse by Just Nan was finished a couple of weeks ago…

The mistletoe card I think was a kit from Hobbycraft and the dachshund was a pattern off Etsy. The little house is by Nutmeg Designs and the wreath is one I made years ago.

They make quite a nice collection, but I think a few might be disappearing onto my Christmas tree when we get round to decorating it!

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December Windows

Having only just shared November windows with you last week, I’m a bit more organised this month with my December windows. This is a monthly photo challenge by Wild Daffodil, so follow the link to see lots more windows. Next year the theme is textiles, which I’m looking forward to, as you can imagine!

Some of these photos just have windows in the background, so you just have to go with the flow 🙂

On Sunday it was Otley’s Victorian Fayre, this annual event has been going on for many years, the children dress up and sing carols on the temporary stage in the market place, the stall holders and shopkeepers dress up too. The stalls were pretty good this year, a good mix of really nice craft stuff, charity stalls, farmers market stalls, not as many tat stalls! There’s a little fun fair too if you’re so inclined! When you have kids attending a school in Otley you end up with a little collection of clothes which can be adapted for Victorian Fayre day!! Someone once came into work in a panic as their child needed an outfit to visit an old mill, the next day I took in the pinafore dress, blouse, cotton pinny, mop cap, shawl…here’s Helen looking very angelic many years ago!

All the shops decorate their windows, the charity shops find as much Victoriana as they can, this is the Cats Protection League shop..

Otley Victorian Fayre

It all looks very festive. This year Sunday was a cold, crisp day, a good day for getting wrapped up warm and trying some mulled cider (much nicer I think than mulled wine!) and roasted chestnuts. Otley brass band play Christmas carols, this always makes me feel a little emotional as one of my early Christmas memories is of the Salvation Army band coming round the streets, they always seemed to reach our culdesac on Christmas Eve, we would stand on the step and listen to the carols, I always requested O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Otley Victorian Fayre

There’s a few traditional Morris Dancing groups round here, so they usually do a display. We have a folk festival earlier in the year when the town is full of them – some of them black their faces out and look quite scary!

Otley Victorian Fayre

Once we were back home it was time to gather some holly and ivy from the back lane, some variegated foliage from the garden, and make my Advent ring. In the past I’ve always used an oasis ring, but in an attempt to be a bit more environmentally friendly, I’ve tried a different method. I saw a chap on one of the stalls with the metal ring bound with hay which he then used to make wreaths for the door. He looked a bit surprised when I asked him how much for just the ring – £1! For that it was worth a try!

The ring snuggled down nicely onto my candelabra. I was planning to wire twigs to it, but in the end they seemed to stay just from being poked into the hay. I’m pretty pleased with it, it didn’t need to be as densley packed as with oasis as a little hay on view isn’t too objectionable. I just need to be careful when the candles start getting low that the whole things doesn’t go up in smoke! Time will tell whether the foliage lasts long enough – even with oasis I had to replace most of it by Christmas with dried or artificial decorations. It looks lovely in front of my stained glass window.

Advent ring

There are four candles on it by the way, one is hiding directly behind the middle one! I got the usual jokes when I went to buy four candles, it probably ages us to a certain generation but if you haven’t seen the Two Ronnies sketch, here’s the link on Youtube.

Just want to say thank you to Wild Daffodil for organising this challenge, I wasn’t too sure about having the same theme all year at first, but I think it’s worked really well, looking forward to the textile photos next year.

Posted in Crafts, Garden, Home, Photo Challenge | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Tuesdays Totter Round the Garden

I haven’t posted many garden photos recently as the weather has been a bit miserable – dank and dismal!! However the last few days have been cold, crisp, sunny days, we’ve been waking up to a beautiful hoar frost which coats every leaf and every blade of grass so it looks like it’s been dusted with icing sugar. We live in the lea of a hill called the Chevin, so from early November to mid February we get no direct sunshine, it makes it quite a frost pocket, so even with a bit of sunshine, the frost stayed all day. These photos were taken mid afternoon…

hoar frost

As you can see I’ve not got very far with the autumn tidy-up! I’m a fair-weather gardener, before it was too wet, now it’s far to cold!! I’ll just have to stay in side and sew!

hoar frost

Every blade of grass has a thick white coating…

hoar frost

…Rosie thinks that makes for a great place to roll!!

hoar frost

I bought this bird bath earlier this year – it’s been hidden beind the irises until now. The two bird ornaments came with it, they look quite cute with all the frost.

hoar frost

The roses are ever hopeful, they’re still producing buds, though they soon turn to brown with the cold and wet.

hoar frost

These two shrubs are in the autumn bed, the lower one is a euonymus and the top one is an erysimum, only the euonymus is actually variegated!

hoar frost

I think the pots corner has a frost pocket all of it’s own with a frost pocket!! It seemed extra thick here!!

Our hot compost bin arrived over the weekend. This is our main Christmas present to each other! We were keen to start so we followed the instructions on mixing the starter stuff with shreddings and twigs and added a plastic container of boiling water – it acts like a hot water bottle! Unfortunately I think we’ve picked the wrong weekend to start it off as it’s struggling to stay above 40 degrees!We’ll see how it goes and give it another boost when the weather warms up a bit.

Our bird feeding station has been very busy in the cold weather with a pair of nuthatches, blue tits, great tits and bull finches.

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Getting in Deep Down the Rabbit Hole!

I’m almost there! I’ve nearly finished hand-quilting my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt! In fact, if we hadn’t had visitors this week I might just have cracked on and finished it!

Three weeks ago I was waiting for some more ceramic lead pencils to arrive so I could start the final side…

Down the Rabbit Hole quilt

Whilst I was waiting I decided to be productive and finish the outer diamond border…

Down the Rabbit Hole quilt

…and quilt round the rabbits and the heart.

Down the Rabbit Hole quilt

I started adding a bit more quilting to the Dresden flowers too as I had only gone round the two circles so I felt the inside was too big to be unquilted. I’ve just stitched a line down the centre of each purple segment. I need to remember I have to go back to the central dresden circle too as I only quilted about a third of it before thread went missing!

Down the Rabbit Hole quilt

The ceramic leads finally arrived so I could mark the cross-hatching in the main border. I’m so near to the end now, I’ll have to find my dancing shoes and give them a polish! Once I’ve quilted this last section and the other little bits, I just need to remove all that pesky basting thread, bind it, stitch a label on and wash it..hopefully in time for the next HQAl post – that would be a nice start to Christmas 🙂

Down the Rabbit Hole quilt

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, Kathi,  Bella, Daisy and Connie

I’m also linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow this link too for lots more hand-stitching.

Posted in Down The Rabbit Hole, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , | 31 Comments

A Book of Memories

I have finally started a textile book of my mums work. My mum was a prolific craftsperson – you think I do a lot, she made lots of things and was happy to try almost any craft, pottery, embroidery, spinning, bobbinlace…you name it, she tried it!

Last year we had to make the hard decision to find a care home for her and put her house on the market. When we were emptying her house there were lots of items she had made, some finished, others half made, some in good condition, others well used and worn.

I decided to keep hold of everything until I could have a good sort through and decide what to do with everything. Knowing how much work goes into a craft item I couldn’t bear to send them to a charity shop or even worse, throw them away. To give you an idea of numbers, she must have had over 100 paintings, all professionally framed, boxes of sketches, lots of quilts and enough knitting wool to open a shop!!

I have decided to make a textile book with various pieces in, I’ve been mulling it over for the past few months and I’ve finally started.

The first page I made is from an unfinished cross-stitch. It’s a quote from William Shakespeare, I’m pretty sure the top foliage should be a lot fuller, there were also two words unfinished, I found some similar thread and embroidered those in.

Textile book

I decided to frame it with two co-ordinating cotton fabrics. I added some lace and some trim too. When I attach it to the backing I’ll probably stitch a running stitch along the other two edges. There was a large blank area at the bottom, I think it was meant to have the reference to the quote there, it needed something so I added five buttons, though one of them looks like it needs a bit more stitching!

This one measures about 12.5″ by 16″. I’m thinking of using one of the well worn quilts as backing to the pages, so there will either be a quilted page or I can stitch things to it, it’s still a bit of work-it-out-as-I-go-along sort of project. I think I’ll see how many pages I end up with before I commit to quilted ones as it may end up too thick.

The second page is an iris cross-stitch, I think this one is almost finished. I used quilting cotton again, but I added a broad lace trim down one side. My mum used to make a lot of bobbin lace, so although this one is bought, it will fit in with the theme. The bottom right corner was plain, I decided to add a pocket (of bee fabric as she used to keep bees) the idea being that I can slot in sketches or small paintings of flowers in the pocket.

Textile book

Hopefully now I’ve started the other pages will gradually get easier to do, I’ve lots of ideas and thought, just got to see if they will work.

Posted in embroidery, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 37 Comments

November Windows

I’m just squeezing these photos into November for Wild Daffodils photo challenge, better late than never! I hadn’t seen anything to inspire over the month but then this week we had family visiting from Australia and on a dank, dismal November day we called into Skipton Castle.

The photos are a little dark as it was a pretty dismal day and they didn’t do much in the way of lighting!

Skipton Castle is over 900 years old and for many years it was held by generations of the Clifford family. My walking buddy and I are walking the Lady Anne Way next year and it passes by all the castles owned by Lady Anne Clifford, starting at Skipton…

In case you’re wondering, the photo above was taken on a sunny April day when we did the first section of the Lady Anne Way!

These were taken on my mobile, so apologies for the quality!

This is the inner courtyard, there was a huge tree in the middle. It does make it pretty dark but you can see all the classic Norman arches with their rounded tops.

Some of the walls are about 6′ thick so the windows are in deep recesses. This one looks over Skipton main street…

…whereas this one overlooks the moors.

This one overlooks the tree in the courtyard, the stone mullions are still in great condition…

…this is the same window from the outside., though I’m not sure which one, possibly the top floor, judging by the tree.

It always amazes me to see buildings like this which were literally built by hand, you can still see masons marks on some of the stones – the mason would carve his initial or mark on the stones he laid so he would get paid for his work.

For more window photos, have a look at Wild Daffodils post, I’m sure there will be brighter, sunnier photos!! If you’re interested in Skipton Castle, there’s lots of information on their website.

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Zen and Zoe

My two cross-stitch stitch-a-longs are progressing nicely. I finished the next section of the Zen one just in time before the next instructions for the Zoe box come out today…

It’s getting to the exciting bit now with the Zoe box as shortly we will get the first half of the construction instructions! We have now completed all the pieces. It’s going to be gorgeous!


This time we stitched what I think will be the inside base of the box, as least I hope that’s how it will work out as I’ve done some extra stitching on what I think will be the very bottom! The inner base has four leaves and some buds in the different seasonal colours. It’s interesting to see how Faby develops the design as these four leaves form the basis of the inner lid, the inner bottom and an extra little square which I’m not sure what it’s going to make. The four leaves are on their own, with buds and with sequins too.


I wanted to add my initials and the date somewhere so I decided to stitch them on the base using one of the variegated threads. I used the back-stitching of part of the leaf border to frame it. It’s not perfect as somehow I’m one square out on one side, but no one will notice – and it’s on the bottom anyway (I hope!!)


The two little squares could be a scissor fob, or a mini biscornu tassel…all will be revealed soon!


The Zen sampler is moving on square by square, this is the 10th square out of 16. I think the last line is going to say ‘Be humble’. It looks like the bottom is going to be a mirror image of the top, which means I’ll have to order some more brown thread!

Hopefully I’ll be doing a happy dance with my Zoe box by Christmas 🙂

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

The Finery of Nature SAL

These three weeks between SAL posts do seem to come around quickly! I seem to have managed a reasonable amount of stitching on my Finery of Nature cross-stitch. It’s a Dimensions kit I picked up on my Embroiderers Guild sales table, it was meant to have a black background, which did look stunning, but my eyes really don’t like stitching on black, so I changed it to a soft green and I love it. I think a lot more of the background is seen without the black aida.

I’m now working on the third quarter, these are the first two..

The Finery of Nature

Anyway, three weeks ago I was here…

The Finery of Nature

…I had just started the background around the hummingbird.

I’ve still all the back-stitching to do on the hummingbird but I’ve stitched getting on for half of the flowers…

The Finery of Nature

Of course I’ve still the border to do, never my favourite bit, but this one does seem to move along reasonably quickly. Once I start the flowers on the right side properly (as opposed to just using up thread like I’ve done so far) then I’ll stitch the border as I go a long as I don’t like being left with a long stretch of border.

Hopefully next time you see this I’ll be well in to the border!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, we all share our projects every three weeks, it’s a great motivator! If you would like to join our merry band then please send a message to Avis. Please follow the links to see lots more hand-stitching.

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

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts, please follow the link for lots more hand-stitching

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

Autumn Reading

I’ve another half dozen books to share with you which I’ve read over the last few weeks;

I wandered from walking books to bird books this time…

  • Waiting for the Albino Dunnock by Rosamond Richardson; this is a lovely book, beautifully written. Rosamond was going through a difficult time when she almost accidently fell into bird watching, she found the silence and stillness, together with the pleasure and fascination of watching the birds really helped her though this time. ‘This glorious pilgrimage into the soaring world of birds opens our eyes afresh to the beauty which surrounds us’
  • On the Marsh by Simon Barnes; by chance I was reading this at the same time as the one above, they are both set in the same area of England, Norfolk. Another great read…Simon bought an area of Marsh behind his house to protect it. The book follows the first year as they start to manage it and discover the wildlife it supports. Simon’s son has Down’s Syndrome and it becomes a place of calm and adventure for him too. It’s a lovely portrayal of their relationship, I loved the way he writes, as if he’s sitting talking to you, with funny asides and stories intermingled with lovely descriptions. His wife came out with a lovely line…’Ooh look, someones opened a tin of bluetits’
  • Mrs Moreau’s Warbler by Stephen Moss; This book is all about how birds got their names, it sounds a bit dry but actually it was fascinating, if you’re interested in how language develops and how the ages of words can be determined, you’ll like this book! I learnt lots of things like a sniper is so-called because a snipe is very difficult to shoot! Why do we say cow, pig and deer, but beef, pork and venison, not cow-meat, that goes back to 1066 after which french was the language of the ruling classes, so words to do with the cooking of meat were from the french, whereas the animals were still the domain of the labourers, who still all spoke English!
  • There’s Always the Hills by Cameron McNeish; I always find it interesting how some people’s lives came about, Cameron grew up in Glasgow, but most of his working life was set arund the hills of Scotland, initially as a hostel warden, but eventually as editor of outdoor magasines and presenter of TV programmes about the great outdoors. It’s another book which is probably a lot more enjoyable if you know Scotland and it’s hills and have a vague chance of knowing how to pronounce the names and where they are. All the same, I enjoyed it.
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama; …and now for something completely different! My daughter bought this but passed it on when she got a bit bored – I think she was wanting juicy bits from the White House period! Now I want to say from the start, I don’t understand the US political system (I don’t understand ours at the moment either!!) but as an observer from afar, I always had a lot of respect for the Obamas, they were always very dignified, held their family together in what must be difficult circumstances. I enjoyed this book, it gave me a little insight into American life and politics, I think I respect her even more having read her book.
  • Earth to Earth by Stefan Buczacki; I was a bit disappointed with this book. It’s about the natural history of churchyards, it sounds a bit of a dry topic but actually a lot of churchyards here in the UK are becoming like mini nature reserves. Stefan is a well respected horticulturist, but somehow this was too superficial. I thought there would be examples of this churchyard and that, but it was more that there’s rabbits and voles and sometimes badgers…

I’m getting quite a bookshelf full of this years books, I need to decide which to keep and which to pass onto a charity shop…and I think I need to start using the library!

Posted in Books | Tagged | 7 Comments