The Finery of Nature SAL

I’ve made pretty good progress over the last three weeks with my Finery of Nature cross-stitch. When I last shared it with you I’d finally decided on the back-stitched colour in the border (dark blue), but I still had a few flowers and half of the border to do on this quarter…

The Finery of Nature

It’s time for another mini happy dance as I’ve finished this quarter, flowers done, border stitched, finito…

The Finery of Nature

This means I’ve reached another major milestone, I’m half way through this cross-stitch, though as you can see, I still need to do the back-stitching on the first half of the border, I’m ignoring that fact and doing another happy dance! You can also see where I’ve just started the next section…

The Finery of Nature

The next quarter is one of my favourites, it’s a beautiful humming bird. I think these tiny birds are so beautiful, I’d love to see one for real in the wild, I think I may have seen one once in a tropical house in a zoo, but it’s a very hazy memory.

I thought this bit would be fairly easy to do as there’s quite a lot using few colours, but the staggered arrangement for the wings meant I was easily confused! Anyway I eventually had an idea and stitched the dark green area just so I had a clear area to work from, it did help. This area has grown pretty quickly…

The Finery of Nature

I’m hoping this quarter will be stitched a bit quicker than the nest, that was a bit like hard work!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea, we each post our progress every three weeks, it’s a great motivator! Please follow the links to see what every one else has been stitching, and if you would like to join our merry band, just contact Avis.

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

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

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 36 Comments

Splendid Sampler 2

Over the weekend I finally finished all the blocks for my Splendid Sampler 2 quilt. Last week when I showed you my progress I wasn’t sure if I would just make another four blocks, to make a rectangular quilt, or if I would buckle down and make another eleven blocks so it would be 7×7 blocks, a nice square quilt. Well I’m pleased to say I’ve pieced, sandwiched and quilted all these blocks…

Splendid Sampler 2

Yes, I cracked on and made eleven, so I’m feeling satisfied! The first one on the photo below is called Coastline Sponge Cake, by Katarina Roccella, she explains how putting together the layers of a quilt is a bit like the layers of a sponge cake, it’s also meant to be a coastline. It reminded me of the Lake District, with it’s mountains reflected in the lakes.

Starlight Starbright is by Pat Sloan, the organiser of this quilt, it was a nice simple star block to make. I also decided to use a bit more of the whiter fabrics to help balance out the one that stood out before with the light sashing. I’ll see if it worked when I put all the blocks out together.

The final one in this photo is called Balancing Reflection by Yvonne Fuchs. I’ve accidentally made this a bit more personal to me. This week is National Balance Week (I might be doing a post on it later) I have no balance from my ears so I do occasionally have a ‘wobble’. One of the triangles missed its line a bit (top right, though I’ll probably turn it the other way up in the quilt) and rather than trying to fudge it, I’ve quilted round the wobble, making it part of the design, I’m calling it my unbalanced block!

Splendid Sampler 2

Happy Willow is by Jenifer Gaston, I was originally going to make it just because it’s a tree, but when I read the story behind it I had to smile, when travelling as a child her dad told them to count something to keep them from bickering, she used to count willow trees. I remember when I was little counting lamp-posts all the way from Leeds to Wales!!!

With a title like Piece in Chaos by Betsy Chutchian, the pinwheel block had to be made, my sewing room could rarely be said to be tidy and usually verges on the chaotic!

American Spool by Tammy Vonderschmitt came with two versions, one with an American flag and one just a plain spool with a needle and thread embroidered on. I was just about to quilt over the spool when I realised it would make a perfect label block, so I popped my initials and the date on instead.

Splendid Sampler 2

I must confess the Mod Bowtie block was the last one I made and I chose it because it looked quick and easy and by then I’d had enough! It was very simple, two quarter circles are bondawebbed on and then bias binding applied. It’s a simple one but I do like it, and I like going to black tie events occasionally too.

Pack Your Bags is by Jodie Carleton and represents the adventures you can have in the world of quilting. It’s meant to say quilt in the middle of the luggage tag, I decided to change it to Otley, my home town.

Button Up is by Cecile McPeak and Rachel Martin, they make buttons to embellish quilts with. I rather like this one, it was made with a strip of three fabrics which was then cut into squares on the bias, stitched together and then the circle was cut from that. The fiddliest bit was cutting the four little holes!

Splendid Sampler 2

The one with lots of narrow strips is called Antique Memories by Pat Sloan, it’s a traditional block called courthouse steps. The last one is Lauren’s Flower Basket by Annette Plog, I’m really pleased with how this one has come out, the piecing came out well and to quilt it I decided after my success with a daisy shape last week I would quilt a daisy in each square, I like it.

Splendid Sampler 2

My next job is to arrange all the blocks in a possible order before I start stitching them all together. I’m on the homeward straight now!

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Splendid Sampler Quilt | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Nineteen for 19

It’s about time I checked my progress with my nineteen challenges for 2019, we’re two-thirds of the way through the year, some remain not even started, though that doesn’t mean I’ve given up hope, others are completed, so a mixed bag, like life really! August has been pretty productive really helped by having time off work.

  • 1 scrap quilt; Still not yet started, but still hopeful!
  • 2 Tutorials; I’ve got all the words for one, just need the photos, which means making another one!
  • 3 sessions a week in the garden; I’m still doing well on this one, I need to keep up with it now to try and get on top before the end of the season.
  • 4 workshops; I’ve been on two so far, I’ve another embroidery one in a couple of weeks time and a gardening one next month, so this one is ticking along nicely.
  • 5 presents; three made so far this year, nothing further in August, but plans afoot for Christmas!
  • 6 quilts; I’ve made five so far with another two or three hopefully in the pipeline for a finish, though I have cheated slightly by calling my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt a finish when I finished the top!
  • 7 new patterns; I’ve actually used three new patterns this month, more than doubling my tally to five. I used a pattern from the 1990’s, an indie pattern and a dress pattern I’ve had for ages and not used.
  • 8 kits; This remains at three, I need to start trying harder with this one as I still keep buying them so my stash is getting bigger!!
  • 9 mini embroideries; I’m classing my tahriri bookmark as a mini embroidery, it’s pretty small, so that brings my tally to five. I’ve another definite one to do, then it depends if I start another quilt I have planned!!
Tahriri embroidery
  • 10 things; I’ve made the bookmark month, so that’s seven things made so far.
  • 11 cross-stitch smalls; no new ones, but the challenge is already completed! I’ve another on it’s way and I’ve another to do before Christmas.
  • 12 pages in my book; this is the book of all my mum’s things, so it’s going to be quite a sentimentsl jurney making it. During my holiday I got out all the things I’ve collected, embroideries, cross-stitch, lace and little trinkety bits and washed everythin and had a good think about how I’m going to do it, I tjhink once I start it will be fairly quick…just got to start!
  • 13 Clothes made; this was just three by the end of July, but last month I exceeded all expectations and made four dresses and a jacket! So my tally is now a much more respectable eight, still a long way to go but more achievable now!
  • 14 drawers organised; My tally remains at 9, though I have just ordered some new bead containers with plans to reorganise both my beads and my buttons!
  • 15 minute tidy up; I’m doing a few minutes at the end of the day, though I probably need to do a few more!
  • 16 books read; this has definitely been my success challenge of the year! I’ve now read 21 books, I’ve got them all together in a pile, I feel quite proud when I look at them all!
  • 17 blogs a month; I’ve done this comfortably with 19 posts.
  • 18 walks; I was a bit quieter in August, recovering from a virus, I’ve two more walks to share with you but my tally on here remains at 18.
  • 19 Splendid Sampler blocks; this was on the back burner for a few months, so Augusts tally remains at 14, but I’ve cracked on since, so September should see this one smashed!

When you include my stitch-a-longs and quilt-a-longs, I’ve been pretty busy really!

Posted in Books, Crafts, Dressmaking, Nineteen for 19, Sewing | Tagged | 10 Comments

Dewdrops on Roses…

Yesterday morning when I took the dogs out first thing it was a beautiful autumnal morning, crisp and sunny. It was what my OH would delight in calling ‘back-end-ish!’ though he starts with that phrase sometime late June!!

There’d been a heavy dew and the leaves looked like they had little sparkling crystals on every edge. It was so beautiful I went straight back inside for my camera…

Autumn garden

The alchemilla mollis by the back door was the first plant I spotted. This has got quite hairy leaves so it does this with rain drops too.

Autumn garden

This is my Lady Emma Hamilton rose, I pruned it fairly hard in the summer as it got a lot of black spot, it’s rewarded me with this lovely reddish young growth. All along the edges were little dew drops.

Autumn garden

Even the last few remaining roses looked pretty.

Autumn garden

…and it was definitely the morning to see all the spider webs, though I was rather surprised to see just how many were on the box tree at the back!!…

Autumn garden

The iris leaves by the pond were covered – just how many dew drops can you fit on one leaf!

Autumn garden

Being out early also gave me the chance to check on the garden, which areas need tackling next. I did a lot of weeding and tidying over the weekend – the big bags are still there as evidence! I’ve pulled up the crocosmia leaves, they’d flopped over everything and I was vaguely hopeful that I might be able to pull a few with their bulbs out too as It does need thinning a bit, but I think I’m going to have to tackle that one with a garden fork.

Autumn garden

The Amber & Amethyst garden still has a fair bit of colour, the sedums are just coming into their own. This dark purple-red one looks good next to the echinacea

Autumn garden

I’m looking forward to seeing how the autumn colour works out with my autumn bed.

Autumn garden

Down by the patio my potted cream hydrangea which I bought in flower in June is still flowering it’s socks off, it’s beautiful. I’m just hoping the non-flowering one behind it gets the idea of what it’s meant to be doing!


At this time of year I’m torn between leaving things to die back naturally and giving everything a good tidy up. I usually settle for somewhere in the middle, leaving bits for the wildlife but hopefully not harbouring diseases. It’s a good time for looking round to see what’s become a bit of a bully, what needs moving and which areas need attention, start planning for next year!

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Splendid Sampler 2

I finally dug out my Splendid Sampler quilt box again, it’s been on a bit of a back burner for a couple of months but I’m in the mood for a couple of finishes – I seem to have rather a lot of projects which are taking several months (or years!!)

This is a BOM by Pat Sloan and Jane Davison, there are 100 6″ blocks, designed by 80 different designers, so lots of different styles and techniques. Pat released the first twenty blocks twice a week, then you had to buy the book for the rest of the patterns. Pat gives a huge number of free patterns, I’ve made four of her quilts, so I didn’t mind having to buy the book. Last time I shared this with you I’d made 30 blocks in total, I’m not making them all, I only want a throw size, not a double bed quilt.

I finally got myself organised and rather than flicking through the book trying to decide which one to make next, which wastes an awful lot of time, I started at the front and worked my way through…it worked, I’ve made another eight over the last couple of days.

Splendid Sampler 2

The dark grey fabric behind is what I’m planning to sash them together with, I think it works pretty well.

When choosing which blocks to stitch I’m trying to select ones that mean something to me. The square on the left is called Match Point, it’s by Mary Honaker, it reminded me of cricket stumps and after the epic Ashes match at Headingley when even I got excited, and I don’t really do sport, I had to include it!

Splendid Sampler 2

The star is probably one of the trickiest blocks I’ve done recently, mainly due to the tall triangles, I love the result though and I just quilted it simply with quilting in the ditch and an echo round the star too. It’s called Sparkling Star by Linda Nitzen. It looks great with the darker blue background. I love looking at the stars when I’m in the country, when we were in Bali last year it was Nyepi, part of the festival is the quiet day, no electricity for 24 hours, the hotel put the sunloungers out at night so we could star gaze, it was magical, watching shooting stars.

I wasn’t sure about ‘Happy Day’s by Chelsi Stratton at first, it’s two hearts and as she says “any day filled with fabric and quilting is a happy day”. It was a quick and easy block to make. I do find that blocks I’m not so mad about are the ones I do my best quilting on, I think possibly because there’s nothing to lose, so I go for it! I started off with the idea of stitching the three petals over the white block, intending to stitch a heart over the hearts, but the petals came out so well I carried on. I still had the mini border to quilt, so I just extended the petals. I love it, I think it’s one of my favourite blocks now!

Splendid Sampler 2

The block on the right is called Grandma’s Abiding Faith, by Jill Shaulis, it shows the ‘Old Rugged Cross’ as her grandma had a very strong faith and used to play the organ. My mum’s faith is very important to her and she used to play the piano, so I thought I’d include this one.

Radio Waves is by Pat Sloan, it’s a nice simple design, I decided it could be all the paths we walk that intersect and cross over. Love is also by Pat, I wasn’t sure about it at first, I thought it might be a bit twee, but I decided to use blue and grey to represent the countryside I love in all weathers, sunshine and rain, though I do prefer the sunshine!! I used the same print in the two colourways. The applique is done with bondaweb and machine blanket stitch, I just meandered all over to quilt it.

Splendid Sampler 2

Stars Above (below on the right!) is by Cath Hall, it’s paper pieced, I like paper piecing but it’s a lot more fiddly when you have to trace the patterns (four times!!) instead of just pressing print on the computer! I like how this one came out.

Splendid Sampler 2

The block on the left is called ‘There’s always one!’, it’s by Jennifer Keltner, it made me laugh; when my daughter was 16 she went on a six week adventure training in Canada with the Army Cadets, we got regular photos from the leaders, as soon as I saw this photo I knew it would be Helen, as there’s always one!!

So altogether I’ve made 38 blocks so far, I laid them out on the floor to see how they looked, they’re in no particular order, the only one that stands out to me as needing changing is the one with a whiter sashing, the little house. I might manage to just trim that back and stitch a colour over the top. I like the little pop of darker blue, a new addition to the fabrics, I think I’ll try and include some in the remaining blocks. It’s not easy photographing so many, this is the best of about 20 photos with me stood on tip-toe!

Splendid Sampler 2

I’m trying to decide whether to just do another four blocks, which would make it 42″ by 48″, or stick to my original plan of 49 blocks, which would be 48″ square but another eleven blocks. Fabric stocks may make the decision for me as I’m getting fairly low, not helped by the fact that I’m trying to back the blocks with the same fabric as the block sashing, so when it’s finished the back will be pretty too. Decisions!

Posted in Crafts, Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Splendid Sampler Quilt | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Lots of Leaves

I’m just coming to the end of over three weeks off work, two weeks annual leave and then days off either end. It’s been lovely! I didn’t have anything planned, just sewing, gardening, walking, a bit of socialising, just enjoying myself! I’ve been pretty productive on the sewing front, I haven’t managed to get everything on my list done, but I’ve not done bad!

I’m keeping up with my two cross-stitch SAL’s, in fact I’m a week a head now! Faby Reilly’s SAL, the Zoe box, released the latest pattern last Monday. We’re stitching the side of the lid now, it’s outlined with back-stitch which is used during the construction, though I haven’t finished outlining the bottom of this section so I really need to get on with it. This week consists of a very pretty row of leaves in autumn and summer colours. It was fairly quick to sew and for the first time I think I’ve managed a section with no mistakes!! The squirrel and the butterfly above are on the inside of the box, you can see how the seasonal theme is being developed.

Zoe SAL Faby Reilly

I’m really enjoying this SAL, the design is beautiful, I love the way a variety of stitches are used, here we have spider-web stitch, tied cross-stitch and a woven one to make the rose whose name escapes me! The beads and the sequins add a bit of texture too.

My second SAL was released on Friday (they’re both once a fortnight) and I’d finished it by Sunday! This one is by Tempting Tangles, it’s called Enlightenment and there is a bit of a tree theme – the leaf border round the edge is gorgeous.

Tempting Tangles; Enlightenment

We’re up to section 5 of 16, so we’ve just started the second row. I do get a bit frustrated stitching in strict blocks – the large green ‘trees’ have one extra stitch to be added on the bottom corners, it would have been so much easier to stitch it with the rest. I’m still a bit undecided on this one, I love the colours, especially the variegated one, the border is beautiful, I’m just not 100% on the rest of the design. I’m sure it will grow on me as it develops.

I’ve got a whole week before Faby releases the next installment – time to work on the Finery of Nature!

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Marching Down the Rabbit Hole

By jove I think I’ve got it!! I think I’ve finally cracked this hand-quilting lark and now I’m cooking on gas – though it probably helps I’m on the home run!

This quilt was the Sarah Feilke BOM for 2017, I finished all the hand applique some time early last year and I’vebeen trying to hand quilt it ever since – in my defence it is a big quilt, about 96″ square.

Three weeks ago when I last shared it with you I was almost half way round the first side of the final deep border, the one with the rabbits on. I’m quilting the little diamonds on the outer border as I go along too…

Down the Rabbit Hole quilt

Well I spent a good couple of evenings just working on this, helped I have to confess by a desire to escape the politics I could hear on the TV downstairs! I think it’s easier now I’m nearer the edge as there’s not so much man-handling of the quilt,I’m also finding quilting easier when I stitch the edges as I’m not using a hoop for that bit.

So, three weeks later and I’m here…

Down the Rabbit Hole quilt

The straight lines are the machine basting threads which I’m gradually removing, it’s not that easy to see the quilting lines – I’m doing a cross-hatching following the line of the diamonds and outlining the rabbits and the central motifs – the heart or the flower. I’ve not quilted straight over the appliqued flowers and leaves on the vine, instead I’ve sorted of quilted underneath the top layer, taking advantage of the fact I didn’t have the courage to cut away the backing behind the applique! Unorthodox maybe, but it seems to work for me!

It’s not that easy to see how much I’ve done, it’s not easy to photograph it either as my arms aren’t long enough! I’ve basically quilted a quarter of the outside border, from one centre to the next one..

Down the Rabbit Hole quilt

I can even say I’ve enjoyed it, in fact, I’ve changed from ‘I’m never hand-quilting a quilt ever again’ to ‘Maybe a smaller quilt next time’

Hand Quilt Along Links

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

Kathy, MargaretEmmaTracyDeb, Susan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrinGretchen and Kathi

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

Posted in Down The Rabbit Hole, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

September Smalls

I’ve realised I have a hole in my smalls! That is, I have a gap in the designs, I have nothing that’s autumn themed! I have spring in abundance, lots of summery ones, Christmas ones, Valentine ones, but no autumn and as we’re well into September already I can’t see me having much time to correct it this year…

I don’t really do Halloween, and we’re not that into pumpkins, so I’ll just have to keep my eye open for suitable little cross-stitches.

In the meantime I decided to go for more autumn colours, with a few variations as there is still a fair bit of colour around in September…

cross-stitch smalls

…so my favourite bumble bee came out. I’ve made him twice already and have requests for another two more!

bumble bee cross-stitch

The September small is from Snowflower diaries, I love the two barn owls. They are hauntingly beautiful birds, I’ve been lucky enough to see them in the wild on a couple of occasions. At the moment I’m trying to quickly stitch October as this is as far as I got last year!

September cross-stitch

The creamy white cat is a very fine cross-stitch from over 20 years ago, it sat in my worksbox all that time as it wasn’t quite square enough to frame – such things don’t matter as much in a small.

Needlepoint cat pillow

The purple and green abstract one at the front is one of those QR codes you see on all sorts of things. If you scan it it says ‘Love is patient, Love is kind.’

Love is Patient QR code

The little house is another one from years ago, it was a pattern in Inspirations magasine, it’s a thimble case. The little bead you can see under the front door is the catch for the hinged bottom.

Never give up is a Lizzie Kate design, I love the colours and the saying.

Lizzie Kate Cross-stitch

…and I’ve turned my Tall Year Square etui box round to the autumn colours;

Tall Year Square Etui

I’m not sure what I’m going to do for October’s display, we shall see!

Posted in embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

September Windows

Wild Daffodil hosts a photo challenge every month, this year the theme is windows, so I’m keeping a look out as I travel round for interesting windows.

We’ve been walking on the east coast this month and I spotted a gorgeous little cottage in Ravenscar, isn’t it pretty, it looks like a lodge. I thought the windows were gorgeous, though I wouldn’t like to clean them – fiddly! If you look closely you can also see they have a beautiful metal gate.


We saw another lodge earlier on the Cleveland Way, this one is called Griff Lodge, it’s just outside Helmsley, so it will be linked to Duncombe Park. These lodges are remnants of the days when the landed gentry would have a gatekeeper to man the entrances to their land. The gatekeeper would live in the lodge. They are as tiny as they look, though most are sympathetically extended a little. There’s lots of lodges dotted around the English countryside, they’re usually pretty and quite quirky.

Griff Lodge

Whilst walking from Whitby to Ravenscar we passed the lighthouse. It’s unusual as it’s not particularly tall, though it is on the top of the cliff. The buildings have been converted to holiday cottages now.


I’ve been stitching lots of windows for my coming home quilt, fourteen houses worth of windows – I’d never get a job as a joiner! This month I’ve about five bigger houses to make, so even more windows to stitch!

Coming Home quilt

Quite a few people take part in the photo challenge, so why not follow the link above and have a look.

Posted in Coming Home Quilt, Crafts, Photo Challenge | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Silk Purse

My little purse has been in dire need of replacement for several months now, it was getting to be a bit of an embarrassment and the crunch came when the clasp was so weak all my change kept falling out into the depths of my handbag! Last week I finally got round to making a new one.

I’ve a few purse frames in my stash of varying sizes and styles. I picked a rectangular shaped sew in one, slightly bigger than my current purse. I drafted a pattern by drawing round the frame and then extending the sides outwards.With hindsight I should have extended them a bit more, but it will suffice.

Making a purse

Ages ago I bought some embroidered silk furnishing fabric sample books, the sort you can flick through in curtain shops. The pieces aren’t huge but when I checked on line when I first got them the fabrics were retailing at £90-£120 per metre!!! It’s nice silk!

I chose one which is a pretty duck egg blue colour with a lovely floral design embroidered on it. I could just nicely position the pattern so I had a flower on the front of the purse.

I cut out the two silk pieces, two in batik cotton for the lining and two in wadding to soften it a bit. I used iron on interfacing on the silk too to give it a bit of structure. I made the lining first, just to check the pattern worked.

Making a purse

Luckily I read one of my previous blogs on making purses which mentioned about leaving a gap for turning at the bottom of the lining – I’d forgotton that bit! I made the basic purse, turned it and then hand stitched it into the frame. The inside isn’t as neat as I would have liked, I could cover it with some trim but I’ll probably leave it – I won’t even notice it within a week!

Making a purse

I used DMC thread last time, but this time I decided to try perle thread instead, I’m not so sure about it at the moment as I did have a few issues with a strand breaking…time will tell if it’s durable or not! It looks nice though!

Making a purse

My purse is already in use, it’s a nice size as a coin purse – big enough to get your fingers in easily! I could have done with a bit more fabric in the corners as it doesn’t look quite right at the top, otherwise I’m really pleased with it. It holds it’s shape well without being too bulky, but it’s substantial enough to hold easily.

Making a purse

Just need a new wallet and handbag now…

Posted in Crafts, Sewing | 25 Comments