Splendid Sampler 2

I’ve got a bit behind with my Splendid Sampler blocks, this is one reason why they are listed on my Nineteen for 19 challenge. I just looked and it was October when I last posted any photos! I’d made sixteen at that point.

The Splendid Sampler 2 is a quilt-a-long organised by Pat Sloan and Jane Davison. I did the first SS quilt and loved it, two blocks a week and lots of camaraderie on facebook. This time only the first twenty blocks were free, then you had to buy the book for the other 80 blocks. I bought the book in the autumn and it’s pretty much sat there since! Somehow there isn’t the same camaraderie which keeps you going on a big project like this.

When I read the introduction Pat did come up with a very good suggestion. Make it a personal quilt with blocks that mean something to you. I was never planning to do all 100 blocks, I want a throw size this time, maybe 49 or 64. I’ve looked through the patterns and chosen ones that relate to me, so all the sewing ones are in! There’s also a music one, mountains, countryside, flowers and books all feature in different blocks. After that I’ll do the ‘general’ blocks I like!

Just before Christmas I did manage to embroider one of the blocks, but I didn’t quite get it sashed and quilted to show you. Over the weekend I had a good session in the sewing room and managed to complete another four blocks;

Splendid Sampler 2

The sewing one is a design by Pat herself, I embroidered it in a soft blue variegated thread, it’s just back-stitch and french knots. I was a bit wary of quilting it, I’m always a bit more apprehensive on blocks I really like! In the end I quilted round the flowers, stitched a wavy line round to the next flower and quilted the word sew across the centre. I deliberately didn’t try and match the embroidery as I didn’t want to stitch over the embroidery too much.

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I also finished the fruit bowl block by Jo Avery. This hasn’t come out as well as I hoped, the applique circles are a bit cornered! However the advantage of this is that I was a bit more adventurous with my quilting! I made a sort of figure of 8 pattern along the edge of the basket (I think mine looks more like a fruit basket!) and then quilted a petal shape on the sides of the basket. The fruit was all stitched in the ditch and then a swirl added in each circle.

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The First Aid block by Jane Davidson is about wear and tear of quilts and mending these treasures. As a nurse for me it’s more about emergency first aid and the work I do each week. I quilted this one fairly simply with some extra crosses.

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The last block I tackled was called Nancy’s Spool, it was designed by the late Nancy Zieman. It’s a lovely simple block of a spool of thread. I quilted it in the ditch but I also added a pattern down the centre, in calligraphy I would call it a flourish! I thought it would look a bit like the criss-cross pattern you get on a spool of thread.

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I’ve made twenty blocks now, I arranged them on my design wall and I have to say they look pretty good!

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Twenty nine to go…

Posted in Quilting, Splendid Sampler Quilt | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

I’ve managed to get my three sessions of gardening in this week, sometimes short, at least one was a couple of hours! I find that once I’m out there, all wrapped up, it’s actually quite pleasant!

I’m still waiting for my wine hellebore to bloom, there’s lots of buds now though, a couple of the other hellebores are just starting to flower too, this is a pretty double one I grew from a little plug plant a few years ago…

…I think I’ve a bit more tidying up to do round the pond! Those are old iris and crocosmia leaves which need a good trim.

Whilst I’m tidying the beds up I uncover all sorts of bulbs just starting to make an appearance, in particular daffodils and snowdrops.

I’m concentrating on the patio area at the moment, down by the conservatory. I’ve pulled up all the dead geranium and brunnera leaves, cut back all the irises, weeded and generally tidied. My next area to tackle is the raised bed, it’s about 6′ deep and about 18′ long, I’ve planted lots of shrubs but I think I need a few more smaller ones. It always looks a mess at this time of year! At one end there’s a large choisya which I think needs a good prune as it’s being a bit of a bully to nearby shrubs. The rose is getting swamped and there’s a poor artemisia just to the right of the shrub which looked like it was being pushed off the wall last year!

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The pots still need sorting a bit but I did notice an early iris reticulata, it’s been fairly mild over the last couple of weeks and I think a few plants are earlier than usual.

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Hopefully next week I’ll be able to show you a tidy patio and maybe some wine red hellebores!

Posted in Garden, Serendipity | 9 Comments

Tall Year Square Etui SAL

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my etui, it’s a design from the Classic Inspirations magasine by Betsy Morgan. I was still embroidering the final pieces then…

I’ve been working hard on it since then, I was ready for a finish but I also had a competition deadline to urge me on. You may recall last year I was short-listed for the Needlecrafter of the Year award with my silk ribbon embroidery. Well I didn’t think it would work for that but I noticed they also had several other competitions, including use of colour. The deadline was Friday and I finished it with hours to spare…

Yes, it’s happy dance time!!!

Once I had finished all the embroidery I had to steadily and methodically go through the construction instructions. I’m afraid I hardly took any photos during the construction – I was too busy concentrating!

I was surprised to see the etui is made with pelmet vilene, not cardboard. I bought some on line and also bought a stiffer one to try as I wasn’t convinced about just using vilene. All the pieces were backed with a medium weight iron on vilene, just big enough to fit inside the outline stitches. The embroidery was then laced over a piece of pelmet vilene. I did cut out some of the stiffer vilene but I decided it would be too bulky. Each side is lined with silk dupion, again this had a medium weight vilene ironed on and then I gently laced it round another rectangle of pelmet vilene. The pocket strips were cut right next to the nun-stitching, which was a bit terrifying! They were then laid across the silk lining and stitched across the back.

When I first saw the back-stitch outline round each piece, I presumed I would be whip-stitching sides together, however the stitching just seemed to be a way of keeping the edge sharp and neat, I had to run a thread under every backstitch and then make a tiny stitch across to the silk in-between. It does make a neat, even finish.

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The base was made the same way. The sides were stitched onto the prepared base using a ladder stitch. I used the thick interlining for the base as I thought it might help the structure.

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I had changed the design of the lid from a flat piece to a cornered shape so I had to make it up as I went a long. I used my hera marker to score the interlining along the folds. I ladder-stitched the corners together and folded and pressed the sides under along the stitch-line, I slotted the pelmet vilene in and tacked the sides to the interfacing. The lining was a bit more tricky to work out, in the end I ironed on a square of interfacing which would just fit the centre, I did a little squirt of 505 basting spray just to help it stay in place. I made some tiny stitches into the corners to hold it neatly and then trimmed and turned under the silk against the sides. Clover clips came in very useful here! At the corners I just to make it as neat as I could, I then gave it a good press using the corners on my tailors block.

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I made four lengths of cord from for co-ordinating DMC threads with a little mother of pearl button threaded at one end before the cording started. This then had to be threaded through the eyelet in the middle of each side using a large darning needle, passed under a buttonhole loop and then up through the corresponding eyelet in the lid and finally through a hole in a larger button on the top! The four cords were tied into two loops and then I made a tassel to go over the top of them using a purple perle thread.

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Having made the basic etui, I then turned to the pin cube. This was prepared the same way with interfacing and lacing over pelmet vilene. I then used ladder stitch to join all the sides, stuffing it firmly before the last two sides were stitched. Attaching it to the box proved tricky! I made another length of cord. I then had to find a needle which was large enough to thread the cord through, but small enough to pass through the holes in a little button, and finally long enough to pass right through the pin cube!!! It took some finding! It was a miliners straw needle that passed the test in the end! I had to pass the needle through the button and eyelet on the top, through to the eyelet on the bottom of the pincube – not as simple as it sounds with all the stuffing! It then went through the eyelet in the base, through a button, then all the way back again! It was then just tied in a bow.

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I’ve really enjoyed making this etui, it’s taken about 15 months, though I have made a few other things along the way! I didn’t find the pattern easy to read at all, it took me a long time to get my eye in as it’s written so you count lines, not squares, there’s quite a few miscounts in there! I’m really pleased with how the colours worked out as I used my own choice of thread rather than the ones listed for the project which were way out of my budget. Each side of the etui, the lid and the pincube represents a different season but the design flows round the edges from side to side. It is a lovely design!

Tall Year Square Etui

I’ve already chosen what I’m stitching next, I need a simpler design which I don’t need to concentrate on too much so I can spend time on my hand-quilting as well. All will be revealed in three weeks time!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis of Stitching by the Sea, we post every three weeks which is a great incentive and motivator to keep going on a project! If you would like to join us, just send Avis a message. In the meantime please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Catherine, Deborah, Connie, Clare, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny

I’m also linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, a celebration of all things hand-stitched.

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

Guess How Much I Love You…

…All the way to the moon and back!

I think Guess How Much I Love You has to be my favourite children’s book from when my kids were little, it had only just been published then and I loved sitting on their beds, snuggled under a quilt, reading the story to them. I’m going to be a great aunt soon (makes me feel very old, I used to have a Great Aunt Margaret and she seemed positively ancient!!) so of course I’m making a baby quilt. It didn’t take long for me to decide on fabrics as soon as I saw this range. I wanted a fairly neutral palette as we don’t know whether it’s a girl or a boy, so I avoided the pink colourway.

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I wanted a very simple pattern which wouldn’t detract from the cute hares on the fabric. I remembered a baby quilt I’d saved on Pinterest and luckily it was a link that actually went back to the original post on Lo, Ray & Me.

The pattern is very straight forward, initially I planned to stitch a wider strip of rectangles and then cut off the 6.5″ strip for the end, but the first fabric I cut I wanted to fussy cut so that idea went out of the window. I do like the two hares in the squares! The only cutting out problem I had was with the spotty fabric going down. The dots aren’t true to the grain along the width, which is how I was cutting it. After much thought I decided to go with the dots and keep my fingers crossed that being slightly off grain wouldn’t matter…

Everything went smoothly until I stitched that dotty length on, I couldn’t get the stripes across to match. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos at this point, but trust me, it may have only have been a good 1/4″ off but it looked really off! It took me a while to work out that somewhere along the dotty edge some stretching and waving had occurred. I spent a bit of time with my ripper and started that bit again. I decided it was a mixture of two things, the off-grain situation can’t have helped, but also I’ve got into a bit of a bad habit when stitching plain borders on of not measuring the length, just carefully feeding it in and stitching it. I’ve always got away with it, ending up with nice flat borders. I think on the whole I must be fairly even when feeding the top and bottom layers under the foot. Not this time! I then measured my quilt and cut the border strip, pinned them together and stitched. It worked! I think I’ve learnt my lesson!

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I thought I had enough batting in my scrap box, but the piece was about 2″ too narrow, so I’ll have to finish it next week. I’m thinking of quilting the word Love or Baby down the dotty strip,maybe with a close stipple behind to make it stand out. I haven’t quite worked the rest out so any ideas welcome!

Posted in Serendipity | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Nineteen for 19

I really enjoyed my Eighteen for 18 challenge, I found it did help me keep focused on what I’m making, without getting stressy if it didn’t happen! It’s taken me a little while to compose my list for this year, it’s got to be potentially achievable but still a challenge, a fine balance!

  • 1 scrap quilt; my scrap boxes are bulging so I desperately need to do something with them. I’ve found a pattern which I could just make a few blocks every so often.
  • 2 Tutorials; I know this was down for last year, but I’ve had several requests for one on my stitch journal.
  • 3 Sessions a week in the garden; This worked so well last year it’s going in again. It doesn’t matter how long I’m out there, three lots of ten minutes is half an hour! Invariable once I get out there I’m out for much longer. It made a huge difference to the garden this year. I’ve promised my OH to open the garden in the summer to raise money for the Soldiers Charity, so I’ve got something to aim for!
  • 4 workshops; I like learning new techniques or ideas and a day workshop is ideal. They could be run by WI or one of the fabric shops, I’ve just sent an e-mail to Fabbadashery to see if they still have places on two of their workshops in the summer.
  • 5 Presents; I like making presents and this will hopefully encourage me to make a few more.
  • 6 Quilts; This may seem a lot, but I’ve a baby quilt to make this month, the Splendid Sampler quilt and the Spring Wreath quilt will hopefully be finished by the summer as will Down the Rabbit Hole and I’ve got two or three kits for wall hangings…
  • 7 New Patterns; I still have an embarrassing number of patterns I’ve never sewn!
  • 8 Kits; I’m a bit of a sucker for kits at shows, despite sewing quite a number last year my kit box doesn’t seem to be getting any emptier!
  • 9 Mini Embroideries; My Embroiderers Guild is starting a new Travelling Sketchbook this month so I’ll have a good excuse for stitching simple little embroideries.
  • 10 Things! There’s quite a few things I want to sew such as a new handbag, wallet, fabric baskets, a rug, sewing mat, a rabbit!….I thought I’d bundle them all together under ‘things’!!
  • 11 Cross-stitch Smalls; I like stitching these and they are perfect projects for keeping in my handbag for any opportune moment for a bit of sewing.
Jardin Privee
  • 12 Pages in my book; I’ve a new project I want to start which I’ve been planning for a while. When we cleared my mum’s house I kept all her embroideries, cross-stitch, bobbin lace, several unfinished. I want to make them into a textile book, both to keep them safe and also hopefully for my mum to enjoy.
  • 13 clothes made; my wardrobe is getting a bit bare now, I do need to make some more everyday outfits, tops, skirts and trousers.
  • 14 Drawers organised; this is on-going from last year as I’m not very good at keeping them organised!
  • 15 minutes tidying at the end of each sewing session (like nearly every evening!) I’m hoping this will help me keep my sewing room tidier and therefore easier to work in! At the moment I put stuff down and lose it!
  • 16 Books; I love reading but I have got a bit out of the habit. One problem is finding a time that will fit in, it also doesn’t help that when I get into a book, I really get into it, my perfect way to read a good book is to start mid morning and just read it to the end! My OH reads at bedtime which I’ve always resisted as it’s in 15-20 minute slots, but that’s better than nothing. At the moment I’m reading The Golden Thread, a fascinating book.
  • 17 blogs a month; this shouldn’t be a problem, though I’m not doing the weekly photo challenge this year, just the monthly one, so that’s 4-5 less a month.
  • 18 Walks; We’re just planning our next big walk, we’re doing the Cleveland Way in June, walking from Helmsley to Saltburn and then down to Whitby, over 8 days. we will walk the final 30 miles over the summer to complete the walk to Filey. We’ll need lots of practise walks again to get our stamina up.
  • 19 Splendid Sampler Blocks. I’ve made about twenty so far, I’ve got the book so I need to get organised to make enough for a throw, maybe 49 or 64.

I think that will keep me busy for a while! Quite a few things overlap, like scrap quilts, quilts and presents, patterns and clothes or kits and cross-stitch, so it’s not as huge a list as it may seem at first! Time will tell…

Posted in Nineteen for 19 | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

As it’s the first Monday of the year I thought I’d better start as I mean to go on with a little wander round the garden. It was only a little one as it was cold, wet and miserable outside today!

Last year on Otley market I bought a beautiful deep wine hellebore, it was gorgeous. I was delighted to see it’s full of buds at the moment so hopefully we’ll soon have a good display.

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The first camellia flower is out, just one so far! This is a shrub I rescued from under my mum’s privet hedge about ten years ago, it was dried out in it’s tiny plastic pot with two twigs and one shrivelled leaf, I decided to rescue it and it’s thriving. I like to remind my mum of this whenever she admires it!
It’s about 4′ tall now and covered in buds.

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At this time of year I really appreciate the evergreen shrubs, they give the garden some shape and interest over the long winter months. These two are at the entrance to the Amber & Amethyst garden, a purple flowered hebe and an erysimum which I seem to remember is an amber colour, rather than the usual purple. At the moment I just enjoy their foliage.

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I’m trying to get back to my three sessions a week in the garden, hopefully I’ll manage a bit of tidying up and weeding tomorrow.

Posted in Garden, Serendipity | Tagged , | 3 Comments

January Smalls

I rather like the idea of having a seasonal display of cross-stitch smalls. Now I’ve finally put the Christmas decorations away I decided it was a good time to start, hopefully this will become a regular monthly post.

We’ve been sorting out our ‘under the eaves’ storage, it’s a bit like a loft or an attic, i.e. a general dumping ground for things you haven’t quite decided whether they can go or stay! In amongst the old pictures, letters and baby clothes I found a lovely burr elm bowl, I love wooden things and burr elm is particularly beautiful. The bowl has two shallow ‘bowls’ and I thought I’d try it to display smalls on. It works pretty well!

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So, for January I’ve of course got the Joyful world monthly small with it’s cute fox. I have included a Lizzie Kate three words pillow which seemed apt for New Year. A little blackwork sheep was added as the fields near us have lots of sheep in at the moment as they’ve all been brought down from higher pasture for lambing. Finally I have a snowdrop cross-stitch which is one I stitched years ago and finally made into a pretty pillow last year. The snowdrops are just pushing up their shoots, hopefully it won’t be long before we get some flowers.

I’m half way through another cross-stitch too, it’s a bit big to call a small but it’s my stitching on the go piece at the moment. It’s a nice simple design by Natalie Cichon of Jardin Privee called Jardin de Bobines  

I bought it at the Knitting & Stitching show, it nicely mixes my love of stitching and gardening and I like the strong colours too. I’ve stitched a few designs by Natalie over the years, including a sampler a few years ago called Samplers Bouquet, again it was the colours that first drew me to the design.

It’s stitching up pretty quickly, I’ve just to do the flower stems either side and a border along the bottom. I haven’t quite decided what to do with it yet, either frame it for my sewing room or make it into a cushion for the chair in my sewing room. I’ll see how I feel when I finish it.

I’m linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, why not follow the link to see lots more hand-stitching.

Posted in embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , | 6 Comments

A Spring Wreath

On New Year’s Day I decided to concentrate on my Spring Wreath quilt. This is a BOM from Andrea of Raggedy Ruff Designs. It’s a beautiful quilt of woodland animals, stitched with free motion machine embroidery. This is very new to me, which is one reason why I chose to do the BOM, apart from the fact that the quilt is just gorgeous!!

I made the first block in the autumn. I was really nervous about the embroidery bit but I was really pleased with how it came out…

Spring Wreath BOM

With the run up to Christmas I then got a bit behind with another two waiting to be stitched. Just before Christmas I decided to make a start on the second one, a lovely block of a very pretty deer. The background went together pretty easily, though I did make one mistake which caused a moments panic, as I realised the green and purple diamonds should have been diagonally the other way. I sent a quick message to Andrea on facebook, she reassured me that they were just spots of colour, not linked to a pattern on another block.

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With that reassurance I could cut out the various pieces and lay them in place. Andrea doesn’t use anything to keep them in place, she just holds them as she’s stitching. I’m not that brave, I used a tiny dab of fabric glue on each piece, this was also a good thing as it was another couple of weeks before I got round to the embroidery bit.

The free motion machine embroidery does still terrify me somewhat, though I was slightly less apprehensive as the rabbits had turned out pretty well. The first job is to go round the edge of every piece twice in a soft brown, get everything secure. I did have a little bit of puckering on the deer’s back but I managed to press it out. One thing Andrea does stress is the importance of pressing frequently to try and keep it flat. I did have a fair bit of wrinkling around the blossom branch at first but I seem to have managed to press most of it out. It doesn’t take as long as I thought it would either, I managed to embroider this one in an evening.

I’m really pleased with how these are turning out, they’re not perfect, but they are the type of embroidery that imperfections really don’t matter. As Andrea says, you really do just have to take a deep breath and go for it! Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I’ll stitch the third block, two cute foxes.

Posted in embroidery, Quilting | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

New Year Stitching

New Year’s Eve has never held any great excitement for me, I love Christmas, but over the years I often volunteered to work New Years Eve as I really wasn’t enthralled with the idea of going out. My OH and I now have a nice routine of a special meal at home and an evening together, if we’re lucky we might still be awake at midnight! This year we watched Les Miserables, which meant I could do a bit of sewing too…

I’ve a few projects I want to get on top of before the next Sarah Fielke BOM starts on 31st January, my Etui box needs finishing, I’ve two blocks to do for my Spring Wreath quilt, and I want to do a few more Splendid Sampler blocks. Top of my list however was some quilt blocks for Kate Chiconi. Kate is making a beautiful quilt to be sold to raise money for an Ovarian Cancer charity. It’s a rather special quilt as it is in memory of a particular lady so the design includes her favourite things. It’s to be made on a very tight deadline so Kate asked the blogging community to help…

I’m making a cornerstone with a scallop shell and a couple of background blocks. I decided on New Year’s Eve to tackle the scallop shell. Kate suggested applique which sounded the best way forward. I searched on Pinterest for some ideas, but in the end I drew a shell by hand and made a basic wedge pattern. I cut seven wedges out from a pretty batik in greens, blues and teals. It would have been nice to have them all from the same stretch of pattern but the remnant I had left was long and thin the wrong way, so I managed to cut them from two areas.

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Having stitched the wedges together I trimmed them to a scallop shape and added the two ‘wings’ on the bottom. I realised that at the centre, not only was it bulky, there was also a bit of a gap! I cut a short wedge to applique over the top. It works really well as it meant I could reduce the bulk in the middle and it enhances the design. All I had to do then was to applique the shell to a batik background.

I’d also volunteered to make a couple of background blocks, the central ones were to be in the palest, muted shades of teal, blue and cream, the border blocks were in brighter, jewel like tones. I decided on a simple nine square bock for both blocks. The border one was fairly easy to choose fabrics for, I used the same stripy batik as the shell for a bit of continuity, together with a gorgeous spotty batik. The centre block was more tricky, just because how pale is pale! In the end I fussy cut from another batik, picking out the most muted areas. If it doesn’t look right it can always go behind the central design 🙂

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These will be winging their way to Australia at the weekend, I’m looking forward to seeing this quilt come together as I think it’s going to be pretty special.

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January Windows

Last year Wild Daffodil organised a photo challenge with a different theme each month. I rather enjoyed putting together a selection of images, however slight the link may have been to the theme! This year the photo challenge is still running but with a difference, the theme all year is windows. At first I wasn’t sure, I love looking at architecture but I haven’t got that many photos. Then I started thinking around the subject a bit more…

This is my stained glass window quilt, I made it about 15 years ago before I had any quilting equipment or experience, those strips of black bias cover a multitude of sins! The design is based on a stained glass window we had made for our home.

I was trying to avoid Christmas photos, but I couldn’t resist this one, it’s the central hall in Castle Howard, I love the different arches and the circle of windows in the cupula.

Paper pieced windows in my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt.

Last summer I visited Blackwell, and arts & crafts house near Windermere. It has some beautiful stained glass windows.

I’m not particularly keen on flying, but once I get over the fact that there’s 30,000 feet of nothing beneath us, I do enjoy looking out of the window at the scenery below. This was taken flying across Australia last March.

So that’s my first collection of windows, do follow the link to Wild Daffodil to see what everyone else is sharing.

Posted in Photo Challenge | Tagged | 4 Comments