Great British Sewing Bunny

Most of you will have heard of the TV series The Great British Sewing Bee, a new series started about three weeks ago. Most of you won’t however have heard of the Great British Sewing Bunny…

A few months ago I made a Luna Lapin, I called her Violet Speedwell. It was actually the second one I’d made, I gave the first one to my great nephew, he was called Archie. Luna Lapin is the creation of Sarah Peel of Cool Crafting in Kendal. There’s now three books of Luna Lapin, her friends and their clothes. There is also a very friendly facebook page,where people share their makes and some make up stories around them.

For the second year running Sarah is organising a sewing competion to run at the same time as the GBSB. Last Thursday she announced the challenge for the week, Blooming Bunnies. So we had a week to think of an outfit for Luna, however there was a time limit of three hours if it was machine sewn or six hours if it was hand sewn, all done by honesty.

With a name like Violet Speedwell there was only one flower I could use as inspiration. I rummaged through my stash and the scrap boxes looking for fabric I could use. I found a small piece left from a fabric box lid I made twenty years ago, it was several layers of fabrics such as silks or organzas, double stitched in a grid and then squares cut away to reveal the fabric underneath. It was the perfect colours, but very small, so Violet has quite a high waisted dress!

I used some fine purple silk for the skirt, I just cut the width of fabric, narrow hemmed it and gathered it up. A purple organza ribbon hid the fact that the gathers weren’t too even! I spotted some purple five petalled wooden buttons in my button drawer and added one to the top of the back bodice.

As the weather is somewhat inclement at the moment I decided she needed a Skye wrap to keep warm, this is a mini version of an adult pattern from Cool Crafting. It’s lined with a pretty cotton with violets on and has the same flower buttons. I also used some purple wool felt to make a bonnet…

Entries had to be posted on facebook on Thursday evening, there were some amazing entries, some people are so imaginative. If you’re on facebook do have a look! I wouldn’t like to be a judge for this, two winners are meant to be chosen each week (there’s four challenges) and they will go through to the final. This week the judges couldn’t whittle it down to two so four were chosen to take part in the final. Exciting stuff!

The new challenge is Super Heroes, I’m not sure if I’ll do this one or not, I’ll see how time goes.

Posted in Luna Lapin, Serendipity, Sewing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Walk with a Purpose

Over the last couple of years I’ve spoken to a couple of people who had seen otters in the river Wharfe, I’ve never seen a wild otter so I’ve been meaning to walk that way ever since. There was also mention of a kingfisher in the same area, something else I’ve never seen. With my new getting fit regime I decided to catch a bus to the little nature reserve where they had been seen and walk back.

It’s only a very small nature reserve but I was quite impressed, there were good paths and most importantly lots of benches, perfect for sitting with a flask of coffee and enjoying the view…

I liked the way they had made the low fencing too, it’s like a rustic version of wattle fencing.

I can’t have been walking along by the river for more than five minutes when a duck by the far bank gave a warning quack and scurried across the water to the other side. I looked over to see what had startled it and spotted the otters! There were two of them swimming along, sometimes bobbing their heads up but easy to follow underwater by the wake behind them. I watched them for several minutes before they disappeared under a bush overhanging the water. It was quite exciting to see them, I just enjoyed the moment rather than trying to take a photo as I knew with my phone they wouldn’t have been clear at all.

I walked to the end of the reserve and then looped back past a pond with a rather dirty swan, he needs a good preen but he did stand in the classic swan pose for me!

After a coffee on the bench, hoping in vain that the otters would return, I walked along the road to a footpath which skirts round Burley in Wharfedale village, following my nose until I found the stepping stones…

…which I didn’t attempt to cross! There’s been a long running campaign to have a footbridge here which would make a great circular walk. A little further along is the weir which was built to serve what I have since discovered is called a goit, it’s a waterway about the width of a narrow canal, which provided water for the mills in the village.

After a short detour into the village for a sticky bun I returned to the riverside path heading home. I spent quite a few minutes here as there were dozens of swallows, skimming the river for insects. It was first time this year I’d seen swallows, they migrate to Africa for the winter so it’s always a special moment when you see they have returned. I tried to take a photo but you can just make out the occasional spot!

From here it was just a walk across the fields and the golf course to home. Altogether I walked about 6.5 miles and I knew it the next day! I still haven’t seen a kingfisher so I will just have to return another day.

Posted in Serendipity, Walking | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Birth Sampler

I’m on a bit of a roll at the moment, having felt last weekend that I had rather a lot of different projects on, I’ve got another finish!

A few weeks ago a friend from Skipton Stitchers (formerly Embroiderers Guild) asked if I would make a birth sampler for her, she does amazing embroidery but feels she hasn’t got the patience for cross-stitch. When her first daughter was born she had a sampler made, but as is often the case, when second daughter arrived they never quite got round to it.

She wanted a sampler which is similar but not a copy. It’s surprising how a change of colour and font changes the whole feel of the design. This was the original one…

It’s typical of it’s time, mid 1980’s. I chose eight colours, two blue ones for the writing, two pink ones, three greens and a soft gold thread. I used a simple font of the details, it’s my usual style of stitching letters as I like the clear simplistic feel.

I kept (with slight changes) the wide floral design below the alphabet, it was just too complicated to find one that fitted as well. The three lower borders however come from a sampler I stitched back in 1988…

It’s interesting to see how the colours completely changed the look of a border. The outer border is the same as the original. I felt it was very pink and decided to tone it down a little by using mid green for the zigzag line. I was quite surprised though when I added the dark green leaves that the shape of the zigzag changed completely…

This evening I’ve finished stitching the border and added two hearts and it’s complete, I’m pleased with it as I feel it still has the feel of a traditional style birth sampler but with a few more up-to-date changes. Luckily my friend loves it too.

It’s interesting to see them side by side…

Posted in cross-stitch, embroidery | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Stitch wheel Sampler SAL

Last Thursday the final two sections of the stitch wheel were released, so over the weekend I managed to finish it.

The final two were knotted blanket stitch and Quaker stitch. I didn’t get on with the knotted blanket stitch, we stitched it into a leaf shape, I just found it difficult to get neat and even. Quaker stitch I liked, apparently it was first used in the Quaker Tapestries (in Kendal, worth a visit if you’re over that way) It’s a mixture between split back stitch and stem stitch, it gives a nice raised line. It works well on curves too as you can see from my initials.

I’m planning to display it in a hoop and hang it in my sewing room. I’ve also seen the idea of writing a key on the back so I can see which stitch is which. I thought I’d use a silver gel pen on some cotton interfacing ironed onto wool felt so I can then stitch it over the back, keep it all neat. I’ll let you know how it goes!

This stitch-a-long was organised by Cathy Reavy of Threads, all the videos are free on YouTube and it’s been a great way of learning and trying out lots of new stitches. Whilst she hasn’t got the most relaxed style on video the demonstrations are nice and clear and she does show for left-handed stitchers too. I’ve enjoyed it and I’m pleased with the final sampler.

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Tuesdays Splash around the Garden

Last week I ordered a solar powered water fountain for a bird bath, apparently the sound of the water attracts the birds. As soon as I pressed ‘buy now’ the sun went in and as soon as it arrived and I sorted out the bird bath it started raining!!! It’s forecast rain for at least another week!

The fountain is in the blue ceramic bowl which I’ve unsuccessfully had as a little water feature for years. I decided to fill it with pebbles so it’s fairly shallow and float the water fountain. If anyone is considering using a ceramic planter as a water feature, one word of advice, the instructions all said to use plumbers sealant to plug the drainage holes, I tried that, left it to dry, but as soon as I filled it with water it disappeared. After several attempts I resorted to blutack, I made a large plug of blutack and pushed it into the holes. That must be about 15 years ago and it’s never leaked!!

Anyway, to my surprise the fountain does work even when it’s raining and gloomy, but it just gurgles at the moment, I think I need sunshine for a proper fountain! You can see it in the background here with Luna in her new dress (more of that later in the week) but so far we haven’t seen any birds bathing.

I’ve planted up a couple more of the pots too, the stalls on Otley market keep tempting me, so the large shallow one on the left has a campanula, an aquilegia and some pinks. The little violas are new too.

In the bed opposite the pots the camassia is starting to flower, it looks lovely through the conservatory window, just not so easy to photograph. However I have a few clumps of camassia and this one by the pond is just coming out too. It looks lovely with the Solomon’s Seal and the fresh iris leaves behind.

The beds are filling rapidly now, especially after a few days rain. This bed is in the Amber and Amethyst garden, otherwise known by my OH as the beer garden! The Lady Emma Hamilton rose has gorgeous reddish new leaves, the peony is shooting up with it’s dark purple leaves. The pulmonaria is still flowering in front and you can also see another camassia just starting to flower.

The pond garden is filling fast too, with brunnera still flowering, Solomon’s seal shooting up together with hostas and iris. I’ve just bought a fishing rod to try and clean out the fish pond as it’s overrun with duck weed.

I was pleasantly surprised when I took a photo of the garden in the rain, it’s actually looking quite colourful!

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Outstanding Blogger Award

I was well chuffed last month to be nominated by Laura of LC’s Cottage for the Outstanding Blogger award, there’s nothing like a peer compliment to give you a bit of a boost, so thank you Laura!

Part of the award acceptance is that you answer five questions set by your nominee, so here goes…

Which lifestyle are you most comfortable living…cluttered or organized?

I would love to be organised, and in theory I am, I do like everything to have it’s place, I’m just not very good at putting things back in their place! So looking around at my sewing room, overflowing to the landing, I have to confess to clutter!

What is your favorite quiet place?

My favourite quiet place is probably my sewing room, or if it’s sunny and warm I like to sit in my garden.

To party hearty or enjoy an intimate gathering?

I much prefer an intimate gathering. I decided early on in the lockdowns that I must be an unsociable being as I didn’t miss going out, we never did frequent pubs or restaurants very often, the one thing I did miss was having a few friends round for dinner. We always eat in the conservatory and we can easily seat eight comfortably, we sit and talk, eat and drink into the evening.

Early to bed or a night owl?

I’m in between here, bed at around 10.30 or 11pm, up at 8ish if I’m not working. I can’t stay in bed once I wake up!

What makes you accountable to your goals?  What keeps you motivated?

With my sewing etc writing this blog helps to motivate me, I started it as a way of kick-starting my sewing when I lost my mojo. The previous year my New Year resolution was to post a photo of the garden every day on facebook, I hoped that by finding something to photograph I would see the good parts in the garden, not just the weeds and work. What I didn’t anticipate was that by going out to photograph I would then do a little gardening. Posting about my sewing projects helps to keep me motivated in the same way, stitch-a-longs are even better!

So now it’s my turn to choose five bloggers who inspire me…

Wild Daffodil

View from our Hill

Sweet Fallen Angels

Living in Rapid City

Martin Moorman

Many of you will already follow some or all of the amazing crafty blogs above, but Martin Moorman is probably new to you, I’ve only just started following him; if you like my walking around Yorkshire posts, you will love Martin’s, he goes on much longer walks and takes some amazing photos of the scenery and the wildlife. He’s just moved from the Pennines to Nidderdale, so I’m hoping to get some ideas of walks to do.

…and my questions are;

What would your perfect holiday be?

Where is your favourite place to walk?

What inspired you to start a blog

What did you miss most during lock-downs

What was the last book you read?

To those I’ve nominated, thank you for inspiring me with your posts, there is no obligation to take up the challenge of answering and asking the questions, I will not be the slightest bit offended if you ‘don’t do this type of thing’. If you do accept, then please answer the questions, nominate 5 other bloggers and then compile a set of 5 of your own questions.

Posted in Serendipity | 9 Comments

Leafy Tree SAL

I’ve not spent a lot of time on my Leafy Tree recently, mainly because I’ve been concentrating on other projects so I could get a few finished – I’d reached that point of realising I had too many embroidery projects on the go at once…like five! This pattern is from an e-book by Mary Corbett of Needle and Threads called The Leafy Tree

I have made some progress though, three weeks ago it looked like this…

Having just compared photos, I’ve made more progress than I thought!!! I’ve now started on the light yellows and orange threads. I’m tending to stitch in numerical order, as each leaf is numbered for the stitching key, allocating it’s colour and stitch, this means that I’m stitching with just a handful of colours at a time. There are 104 leaf combinations, so I know I’m over half way now. This is my Leafy Tree at the moment…

The little leaves are mainly fishbone or fly stitch, but there’s a few different stitches used for the bigger leaves, such as up and down buttonhole, cretan and battlement couching. I’m getting better with the long and short stitch too.

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, from Stitching by the Sea, we post our progress every three weeks, just long enough to keep us motivated on a project. Please follow the links to see lots of beautiful hand stitching.

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

A Birth Sampler

A couple of months ago a friend from Embroiderers Guild (or Skipton Stitchers as we are now since the demise of the Embroidery Guild as we know it!) asked if I would do a cross-stitch birth sampler as a commission. She’d been having a sort out at home and found the one she had made when her first baby was born. She wants to pass it on to her daughter but realised (as is often the way) she hadn’t had one made for her second daughter! My friend admitted she just hasn’t got the patience for cross-stitch, preferring the more relaxed or experimental forms of embroidery.

She gave me the original sampler to work from as she wants something similar but subtly different. I think it’s a typical sampler of the time, mid 1980’s…

I’ve chosen a palette of blues, greens, pinks and a soft gold and I’m using a parchment coloured linen, which looks a similar colour to the original. I started trying to plot it all out on graph paper, but I realised that was going to take forever, so I’m just adapting things as I go and keeping my fingers crossed it will all work out! I’ve decided the original border will stay the same as it’s too complicated to try and work out spacings of another. I’m changing the bottom two borders and also the font of the name and date of birth.

I’m using bands from a sampler I did at around the same time (thirty years ago!! where did that time go!) I’m planning to use the two border patterns which are on the 7th row and I’ve also used the scroll pattern near the top. Some of these are narrower than the original as I’m hoping to space things a bit more evenly than the original sampler.

It’s surprising the difference a slight colour change makes, in these top few rows there’s not that many differences, just a few extra stitches, but I think it looks so different. I’ll probably stitch the outer border before I get to the bottom, just to check it works out OK count wise.

I’m please with it so far and more importantly my friend was happy with the progress photo I sent to her.

Posted in cross-stitch, embroidery, Serendipity | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Spring Walks

I’m trying this year to get a bit fitter, a mixture of medical issues and lockdowns have had somewhat of an impact on my stamina. Earlier this month I treated myself to a Garmin watch, one of those watches that has GPS so it can track and measure walks (or runs if you’re so inclined!). It’s taken me a while to get used to it – it was a week before I worked out where to find my step count! It even measures heart rate, sleep patterns, energy levels…all very interesting but it was the GPS bit I wanted.

My OH has set up Garmin and Strava on my computer so I can join in challenges and link up with friends. I’ve been trying a few short walks so I learn how to use the watch. Today I did an almost circular walk, I say almost as the rain clouds were gathering as I reached Menston station just as a bus arrived, I took it as a sign and got on for the last half mile home!

Our garden backs on to an old railway track, our side ends just a bit further up the main road where the railway bridge used to be, but the railway line continues on the other side for quite a way. It’s easiest to access it via the golf club, though crossing a golf course is a hazardous task!

Once up on the old line it was lovely and peaceful. The trees have just started to get the lovely fresh spring growth…

There were lots of wild flowers too, I saw bluebells, violets, anemones, celandine, forget-me-nots…there was another pinky purple one which having checked my wildflower books was possibly wild pulmonaria or lungwort. In the photo below you can just see a sprinkling of celandines and anemones.

The railway line took me almost to Burley in Wharfedale where I joined a minor road which turned into a farm track. There were lots of young lambs, still at the spindly leg stage! This ewe looked very proud of her twins…

By the time I reached Menston I was regretting not packing a flask of coffee, so it didn’t take much persuasion for me to take advantage of the village bakery, I sat outside with a very welcome coffee and a slice of cake.

I walked through Menston to the station, planning to cut through the housing estate and home before the rain started, I could see rain on the other side of the valley and the clouds behind me were pretty dark. When a bus arrived just as I was passing the bus stop it seemed too good an opportunity to miss!

Altogether I walked about four and a half miles, not a bad start to my path to fitness!

Posted in Walking | Tagged | 9 Comments

A Handsome Pheasant.

On Sunday I posted about my pheasant block, this is a kit from Raggedy Ruff Designs, I’ve quite a few waiting to be stitched. I only started it on Saturday evening, so by Sunday I’d made the background block, cut out all the applique pieces and made a start with embroidering it…

Yesterday I decided to crack on and finish it. It’s not a very big block, it’s about 6″ by 12″ so it didn’t take too long.

I stitched all the feather patterns first and once I was happy with the bird I stitched the grasses and wild flowers behind. Doing this kind of sewing makes me appreciate my automatic needle threader on my machine as every couple of minutes you have to change thread! I’ve got a limited selection of machine embroidery threads, all variegated, I’m hoping to get some more colours but unfortunately the ones I like are usually only sold in huge rolls so I’ll have to wait for a show so I can have a good look for some.

I’m pretty pleased with my pheasant, I’m getting better at remembering to breathe when I’m doing the free motion embroidery! I particularly like all the different shades on his body, it all blends in beautifully when seen from a reasonable distance. I not sure which Raggedy Ruff design I’m stitching next, maybe a lampshade or a clock…

Posted in cross-stitch, Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Serendipity | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments