December Wordplay

I’ve finally stitched the final wordplay for my Anthea Calendar book. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, I could think of lots of words or phrases, but most of them were Christmas rather than December, I managed to think of a few non Christmas ones to balance it.

The design for December was poinsettias and hellebores, or Christmas roses, together with holly and mistletoe. It’s lovely and bright and feels Christmassy…

Poinsettias are not my favourite plant but the always remind me of my mum as she always bought one for Christmas. I have quite a few hellebores in my garden, mostly lenten roses which flower in the spring, though I do have one little Christmas rose which is still trying to flower despite the snow we had last week.

We don’t get snow like we used to do and although a white Christmas sounds lovely it does cause chaos. As a child I remember snow being on the ground for weeks on end, these days it’s usually gone in a couple of days. We had a heavy snowfall last week, the garden looked very pretty and luckily I didn’t have to go anywhere.

I always associate the smell of gingerbread with December, I used to make about twenty gingerbread houses to sell so the house was filled with the lovely smell of gingerbread for most of December.

I think Christingle services started in the 1970’s, partially as a fund-raiser for the Church of England’s Childrens Society. I find them very moving, all the children are given a Christingle, which is an orange (to represent the world) with a candle stuck in the top (Light of Christ), four pieces of dried fruit or sweets on cocktail sticks (can’t remember if thats fruits of the world or seasons!) and a red ribbon round the middle (blood of Christ). At the end of the service all the Christingles are lit and the children stand in a circle around the church, making a circle of candle-light. The main lights are turned off and everyone sings Away in a Manger. It makes me cry every time!!

For a quote for December I was tempted by some of the morning after the storm quotes which Laura shared on her blog, it has been such a stormy year…

Every storm runs out of rain, just like every dark night turns into day. -Gary Allan

In the end I decided to go for happy memories instead. I grew up at the bottom of a cul-de-sac and it seemed that every Christmas Eve the Salvation Army band would come to the Grove and stand outside our house to play carols as they went door to door with a collecting tin. I would stand on the doorstep with my mum and dad and sister to listen. We could request any carol and I always requested O Little Town of Bethlehem.

During winter we have a lot less birds visiting our garden, many will go off to warmer climes, I think other just go further into the woodland nearby. The little wren was seen quite a few times hopping round the undergrowth. They’re tiny little birds though they do have a very loud song.

I do like the twinkly fairy lights of Christmas, they used to be limited to the tree, but now we hang them everywhere, inside and out. It does make the place look cheerful. I often use holly and ivy to make a display for our back door, I used to use it for my Advent ring, but now I’m trying to avid oasis I just use artificial or dried things instead, with a few fairy light stoo of course…

21st December is the shortest day here in the UK, it doesn’t get light until about 8.30 and it starts getting dark at about 3.30, it’shard when you work somewhere that doesn’t have any windows like I do as you arrive in the dark and go home in the dark! Vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight is quite a problem here. At least once the shortest day is past we know the days are getting longer and spring is on it’s way.

So, here is my December wordplay…

I’ve enjoyed stitching these wordplays, it’s not turned out as I anticipated with weddings, holidays and lots of fun things, I don’t think any of us could have foreseen last year, but I think it will be interesting to look back on. I am planning to write a little notebook to slip inside my fabric book explaining my thoughts and the quotes I’ve included each month, I think otherwise in a few years time I may wonder what I was thinking of!!

Here’s all twelve together…

All I need to do now is stitch them all together with the flower pages to make my book.

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

Stitching 4 the Soul SAL

Ever started something to find further down the line it makes things tricky? When I started my #sewing4thesoulbook in the summer I decided that rather than making a book from batting and then embroidering directly onto each page (as Anne Brooke the designer does) I would do each page separately and stitch them onto calico pages like my stitchbook project. It must be easier than directly stitching into a fabric book…

Everything went swimmingly at first, the first hint of trickiness was the woven week, when I had to work out my piece so it would flow across two pages without interfering with the binding. Then three weeks ago I finished a page which includes a window with a view through to the next page…

This was going to take some working out!

I needed to work out a way of having a hole through the two sides of the calico page and the next piece of embroidery, whilst ideally having the ‘view’ working on the previous page…it took some thinking!

In the end I drew through the circle onto the page and ironed some bondaweb inside the page pocket, just big enough to hold the circle closed. I could then make the window in the calico page. I also drew a circle where the next window would be on my next piece and a circle where the ‘view’ would be on the right hand side…..still with me??

This pair of pages was all about circles, we started by making a circle in negative space using lots of seeding stitches, this took quite a while as I’m not very good at ‘random’. I then cut various circle from the upholstery fabric sample book I’m using for this book. I used silk noille as the background, adding a fine muslin behind to give it some stability.

The circle round the window has bondaweb as it frayed too easily for a window. I wanted the big circle seen through the window to look like the evening sun, so I chose two different soft golds and embroidered them with pistil stitch. With these fixed positions in place I could then arrange the other circles around. I decided to make a sort of spiral, adding buttons to complete the look. This was my initial layout part way through the embroidery.

As you can see I was starting to embroider the circles and where possible to then incorporate the embroidery into the general drift of the piece, so the fly stitches are spreading away from the circle. I used herringbone stitch around the window with blanket stitch on the inside. The little embroidered red seed pod is cut from one of the fabrics, I then continued each vein with a pistil stitch. The little circle next to it has a spiders web stitch in the middle and some french knots in between the spokes.

The larger red one has blanket-stitch round both the outer and the inner circle, I really wasn’t happy with this one and changed it later as you will see. By chance I had a circle which was too big, so I cut a smaller circle using my die machine, I then saw the ‘negative space’ and used the ‘waste’ instead, embroidering it with feather stitch, and adding a further circle of feather stitch to the background. The last circle has a lattice of embroidery threads with tiny cross-stitches to hold it in place.

I’d found a few buttons to fill in spaces, but I then decided that actually it might look better with circular stitches instead…

So this was the final finished embroidery. As you can see I removed the red circle to reveal the fabric embroidery, just adding blanket stitch round the edge to soften it. The herringbone from the window flowed across the gap to the sun, mixing with stray pistil stitches as it got nearer. I stitched another negative space circle with the seed stitch, flowing it up to the next circle. Little circles were stitched using blanket stitch, pistil stitch, a spiral of chain stitch, together with fly stitch and french knots over a little circle. It was definitely one of those times when you’re not sure when to stop. I could have done more stitching on the background to accentuate the spiral, but I decided I’d spent enough hours on this piece…and I still had to put it together in the book!

I stitched the previous page embroidery over the hole in the calico page first, just using dressmaking thread and tiny stitches. I cut the calico hole slightly bigger so it wouldn’t be seen in between. Once I knew the windows were secure I could stitch round the rest of the page. I repeated this for the new half of the window. I still wasn’t happy with the final effect of the double sided window, the edges looked messy. I then had the idea of whip stitching the two windows together, through the hole. Both sides had been blanket-stitched so it proved a fairly simple exercise and made all the difference. My final task was to check the right hand page was in a good place for the ‘sun effect’ before stitching it to another calico page.

Phew!! That took some stitching and thinking!!

And the view of the sun over Catbells was worth it…

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea. We post our progress on our chosen project every three weeks, just long enough to keep us motivated. Please follow the links to see what everyone else is stitching.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

A Robin Sings

I finished another cross-stitch small today. I’m trying to break my 2020 bad habit of completing a piece of stitching and then not doing anything with it!

I started this one whilst I was in hospital between Christmas and New Year. My daughter was packing a bag for me and asked what stitching I would like – she knows me well! I had three of these bird kits in my stash so I asked her to choose one and bring it in. She chose a pretty robin singing it’s beautiful song.

This is another kit by Fido Stitch Studio on eBay, it’s the third one I’ve stitched. I would usually change the 14 count aida provided for 32 count linen as I’m not keen on aida, but when you’re stuck in hospital, you’re happy with anything! These are the other two Fido Stitch designs I’ve already stitched…

There weren’t many days in hospital when I felt up to stitching but I made a start – my family knew I was starting to feel better when I posted a photo on facebook of my cross-stitch! Once home I cracked on with it. These kits are lovely, the designs are beautifully detailed, the charts are clear and everything is provided for about £9! Here’s my finished robin…

I found some fabric in my stash which seemed to go OK, it’s a Christmas one but not too Christmassy. I also found some embroidery threads to make a cord from and some beads to titivate with.

As the robin was a good size (for a small!) I didn’t want to add to the dimensions with extra fabric borders, so I just made a simple mini pillow, stuffed it and slip stitched the opening closed. I didn’t have any suitable trim in my stash so I found two old DMC bobbins which worked well together, picking out the colours in the robins breast. I made a twisted cord and stitched it round the pillow adding beads at the corner. I decided to have a tasseled corner, adding lengths of beads too. I’m not sure if I’ve overdone it a bit, but it’s staying!

I’ve started another of these kits already – a nuthatch, but I think it will be a while before it’s finished, it’s ready in my handbag in case I need something to stitch whilst out, but I’m not exactly going anywhere at the moment!

Posted in cross-stitch, embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

From Little Acorns…

…mighty oaks do grow

I’ve developed a bit of a bad habit over the last twelve months of finishing a piece of needlework and then not doing anything with it, my pile of things waiting to ‘finished’ is growing. Though I think any bad habits picked up in 2020 (like home made jam tarts!!) are completely acceptable! Anyway, I decided to complete this little piece as soon as I had stitched it…

This is another facebook destash buy, from the same lady I bought the strawberry pot from, I think I bought about four different charts and kits from her! This one is called Acorn Sampler, it’s by Elizabeth Designs circa 2001. It included all the charms too.

I started this when I was self isolating before I went into hospital the first time, I used a mixture of recommended threads (DMC ones) and substituted Weeks Dye works ones for variegated ones I had in my stash. I stitched it on a light green linen. The chart was simple to follow, I like the variety of stitches – the tall tree on the right is rice stitch, the oak leaves and the acorns are satin stitch. It was fairly quick to work but I ran out of the DMC thread with about twenty half cross-stitches of the dark green borders to go!! Very frustrating!

With a new skein in my possession I finally got round to finishing it yesterday, adding all the charms and beads too. I like it, it’s simple but pretty.

I hunted through my quilting fabrics for a fabric I remembered having, it was large oak leaves on a blue background. I couldn’t find it anywhere, I even hunted through my scrap boxes! In the end I settled on my second choice, the bumble bee fabric which I’ve used quite a lot for cross-stitch smalls, the colours just seem to work, it picked out the greens and the blue of the writing. I rummaged in my trimmings drawer and the only one that worked was a variegated grey ric-rac.

Having tried to machine sew the ric-rac round so I would just have a border of ‘humps’ I realised it was not going to be as easy as it looked to get a neat finish. Out came the seam ripper! At this point I was thinking of making a twisted cord from DMC threads. I stitched the basic cushion on the machine, turned and stuffed it. Whilst I was slip-stitching the turning gap closed I noticed a bobbin of what I would call chenille thread sitting under my sewing machine. It was the perfect colours, greens, brown, grey, a real woodland mix.

I couched it round to give a sort of scalloped edge and added a bead at each couching point. I fashioned a little bow at the join with a line of beads over the middle.

I really like it, for a cross-stitch small it’s probably as big as I would want to go as it’s just over 5″ square, it would have looked lovely framed too but I’m rapidly running out of available wall space! At the moment it is on display in my sewing room.

Posted in cross-stitch, embroidery | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Rescuing a Dogs Dinner

I decided to make myself a top over the weekend, something nice and simple! I chose a pattern I bought last year, Butterick 6256, and picked some pale mint jersey from my stash. It’s a lovely weight jersey, I bought it in Fabworks a couple of years ago, I think it was their organic cotton range. I’ve got a length of pale mauve as well.

The fabric was made in a tube, which I’ve not come across before, when I say a tube, I mean there was no selvedge, both sides were on the fold. It feels lovely and it was nice to sew too.

Considering it’s a simple pattern – there are only three pattern pieces, it’s amazing how many mistakes you can make when you’re not firing on all cylinders! I sewed the wrong bits together, sewed back to front…my seam ripper was well used!

The front of the top has a crossover design and a curved hem. The first time I tried it on it looked awful, a right dogs dinner, I commented to my OH that it was a perfect lockdown top as I wouldn’t be going out in it! It was too big, even allowing for dropped shoulders and the front cross-over just sagged in a most unbecoming way!! I took it in a bit down the side seams..

The fit was a little better, but the cross-over was still awful, it sagged under my bust and made me look about 7 months pregnant – not a good look!

I then hit on the idea of stitching the cross-over in place. Initially I was just going to slip-stitch it down but I then had the idea of embroidering the neckline and continuing the stitching through all layers of the cross-over. It worked brilliantly. Initially I thought I would have to stitch both sides, but having secured one side the other side sat OK. I just used fly stitch in a very pale blue DMC thread.

Please excuse the lockdown hair – my last haircut was the end of August – I went from autumn lockdown to self isolation to national lockdown!! Goodness knows how long it will be when I next manage to get an appointment!

I rather like it now, whilst it’s not a great make as the hems are wavy, it is wearable out of the house! I’m even tempted to make another one now, probably a size smaller though!

Posted in Dressmaking | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

First Finish of 2021

Yesterday I finished off an embroidery I started just before Christmas. It is called a Strawberry Pot, it’s a kit by the Historic Needlework Guild which I bought for £3 from a Facebook destash page last year. I suspect it’s quite an old kit as the copyright date is 1997!

When I was packing my overnight bag to go into hospital for my operation I wanted a nice simple cross-stitch to take along. Looking at the photo I thought this fitted the bill, no complicated colour changes, a nice simple design…

…I didn’t twig that the centre strawberry design is stitched over one thread!! Nevertheless, I made a good start in hospital, it took my mind off things whilst I was waiting to go down and I even managed a little stitching the next day before I went home.

It was lovely to stitch as the thread is silk, it felt gorgeous to use, though I’m not convinced it looks much different to DMC once it’s stitched.

I finished the stitching a few days later and then it sat in my workbox as life went a bit pear-shaped over Christmas, until yesterday.

It was fairly easy to make up, though a litle fiddly at times. Having cut the embroidery into a fan shape using the template provided, I stitched a gathering line using a zig-zag machine stitch over a length of strong thread – I used hand-quilting cotton. Then it was a matter of machine-stitching the sides, stuffing and gathering up the top.

The top is finished using a big spiders web stitch with perle thread. I think it’s very effective as a way of covering the top. The stork embroidery scissors give you an idea of size…

As a final finishing touch I added a beaded loop using some tiny green beads from my stash.

I love it! It’s a pretty little thing, it was quick to stitch and easy to finish, a perfect project for convalescing!

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Cottage Garden Quilt HQAL

It’s three weeks since I last shared my gorgeous Cottage Garden Quilt, it’s a design in a lovely book by Kathryn Whittingham. I’d just finished the bottom row so just one more row to do and then the border…

These last three weeks have not gone to plan at all, I had an operation on my neck on the 18th as planned, managed a little sewing with blocks I’d prepared earlier, but then ended up back in hospital with a nasty wound infection from Christmas Day to New Years Day! Hence this post will be short and to the point!

I stitched three blocks, a wheel barrow in a vegetable plot, this will be a 6″ block…

I also stitched two sweet butterfly blocks which will be just 2.5″ square when trimmed…

I’ll write more about the embroidery next time when I’ll hopefully have more energy and I’ll also share Kathryn’s new book of a Seaside Quilt which is gorgeous and I’ve been lucky enough to be given a copy. Kathryn has now set up her website so she can ship her books to America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, so follow the link to Patchwork Katy if you’d like to make this quilt or the seaside one.

In the meantime…

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, Margaret, Deb, NanetteSharonKarrin, Gretchen, Daisy, Connie, Monica and Sherrie

Posted in embroidery, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Stitching4thesoul SAL

I started the ‘stitching 4 the soul’ project very late in the day, I think it ran over the first lockdown. It was organised by Anne Brook of Hanne-made, her videos are still on Youtube together with the subsequent Christmas version. Last time I shared my progress with you I hadn’t quite finished a woven double page spread…

I cracked on and finished it later that day.I stitched the dark blue circle on with pistil stitch, I added french knots and fly stitch to the petals. On two squares I just accentuated the petal edges with another row of blanket stitch, I felt it was too strong a design to try and embroider over the top of it. On one square I added more flowers and continue the flowers across to the next strip. I used fly-stitch in different sizes to attach the blue lace on the right. I rather enjoyed just stitching a bit here and a bit there.

I’ve stitched it onto the calico pages, being careful to line up the centre so it will close easily once it’s bound with beads. I’m rather pleased with these pages.

I’m writing this well before Christmas, as hopefully by the time you read this I will be well on the road to recovery following an operation on my neck, I’m not sure how much it’s going to impact on my hand-sewing in particular so I thought I’d get another pair of pages stitched…

For the next two pages Anne suggested a calm look, as the previous pages have been pretty busy. This was achieved by having a single strip of fabric across the double page…for something so simple it took me ages to decide on which fabrics to use! I’m trying to mainly use fabrics from a sample book I bought last year, they’re beautiful but there’s not many plains! In the end I used a piece of silk noille from my stash for the background. I like silk noille for embroidery as it has lots of texture and feels nice too. As it’s not very robust I put some calico underneath. For the strip I used some furnishing weight linen in gorgeous shades of lavender and soft gold, the photos don’t do it justice really, it’s a beautiful shade!

I chose a selection of embroidery threads in soft shades of purple and ecru to a warm light brown.

The first task was to embroider some ‘waves’ in running stitch, I’m not very good with random and I didn’t just want to copy Anne’s, so I hit on the idea of using the outline of Catbells, that little fell in the Lake District which has featured many times in my work! Of course that really only covered one side, so I had to stitch another wave on the other side, with a bit (or a lot) of imagination, this could be Causey Pike which is just the other side of Newlands Valley.

Catbells from The Heads, Keswick

The idea Anne had was to intersect the lines to make different areas to embroider. However, I now had my muse to consider!

I edged the outline of Catbells with a blanket stitch, this ridge walk is the usual route up Catbells, having arrived by launch over Derwentwater to the landing stage of Hause End, hence the blanket stitch dips below the ‘shoreline’. Each year (except 2020 funnily enough!) Keswick holds a Festival of Light, people climb Catbells at dusk and all turn their head torches on, the photos are amazing, that’s the footpath which we follow. One year we hope to do the Festival of Light.

I used fly-stitch and a lovely variegated Weeks thread to represent the trees in Manesty woods around the base of Catbells, extending them in a gentle wave across both pages.

The shaggy french knots are the herdwick sheep which populate the fells. When you’re out walking in the Lakes or the Dales it’s very easy to lose your way by following a sheep track, thinking it’s a path until it peters out!

Neat french knots round the top of Catbells in varying shades of purple is the heather or ling which grows up there.

The lattice tied down with little crosses is the fields of Newlands Valley. From the top of Catbells you look down on the patchwork of green fields with the patterns made by the tractor.

So you see, once I get a theme in my head I can run with it!

The final piece Anne suggested was a cutout ‘window’ made from a circle of wire laid around a cut hole and overstitched, I used blanket stitch as I like the neat edge. The idea is that through the hole you will be able to see through to the next page. Mine looks like the sun, it reminds me of an amazing walk I did many years ago with a friend, we got up very early (like 3.30am!!) and walked up Catbells in time to sit on the top and watch the sun rise. It was stunning, it rose over Blencathra and the morning mist formed below us over the lake, turning beautiful shades of orange and red. As the sunrise was just beginning everything was these lovely muted shades with a softly lightening sky, so this is my Sunrise from Catbells’ piece!

I’m pleased with this one, it is a very calm page, despite having lots of embroidery on. I like the movement across the pages too. I’m waiting until I see what’s happening on the next pages before I stitch it onto the calico pages, I need to work out how it will work with my pages. I’m hoping I’ll be able to have some soft gold fabric behind to look like the sun!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea. We post our progress on our chosen project every three weeks, just long enough to keep us motivated. Please follow the links to see what everyone else is stitching.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long, Textile Books, Walking | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Winter Reading

I haven’t done a book post for ages, I seemed to lose my reading mojo over the spring and summer. I lost my usual reading slots, I used to read on the bus to visit my mum which was a two hour round trip, so lots of reading there. I also read on the train on the way to work, then I had three months off isolating! Anyway, I’m now getting the bus to work which usually gives me an hours reading time each way, so I’ve got a few books to share…

Walking Home by Simon Armitage; Simon is a poet who lives near the beginning of the Pennine Way. The Pennine Way was the first long distance walk and it stretches from Edale in Derbyshire, all the way to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland, all 256 miles!! My friend and I do a long distance walk each year but we’ve never even entertained the idea of the Pennine Way, we know our limits! Simon was walking it from north to south, so he was walking home. He hit on the idea of offering a poetry recital in return for board and lodgings. He would sing for his supper! He was accompanied by a wide range of local people during the different stages. It was interesting and quietly entertaining, especially if you’ve done some long distance walks, though it does go on a bit, a bit like the Pennine Way!

OK, this is actually the Cleveland Way, not the Pennine Way!

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier. I pre-ordered this book as soon as I saw it was coming out in paperback. I’ve read a couple of her books and always enjoyed them. I also listened to a talk she did as part of the Yorkshire Festival of Story, it was interesting to hear how she researches books. For this one she learnt how to do tapestry and how to ring bells in particular. It’s set in the early 1930’s, Violet is a ‘surplus woman’, after WW1 there just wasn’t enough men to go round, it was really interesting to read about what life was like for women at that time, ‘surplus women in particular. They were expected to stay at home to look after aging parents, those who did get married left their jobs to be housewives, same sex relationships were still illegal and ladies living together would be socially ostracised. Violet joins a group of embroiderers at Winchester Cathedral and befriends one of the bell-ringers. I really enjoyed it, though I did find the ending a bit contrived, though very moving. A good read.

Cross-stitch pincushion, rather than needlepoint kneeler!

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald; This has been on my radar for a while as it’s been mentioned in quite a few of the nature books I’ve read It was only published in 2014 but has become a bit of a classic already. As it says on the back…’H is for hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonalds struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawks taming and her own untaming…it is about memory, nature and nation and how it might be possible to reconsile death with life and love’ It’s beautifully written but I did find it a bit heavy, though maybe this was the wrong year to read it in!

OK, so it’s a red kite, not a Goshawk!

I wanted something light to read next, on TV recently there’s been a new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small’ by James Herriot. It’s been a lovely series, though it doesn’t stick much to the book. It’s also filmed in Grassington in Wharfedale, I’m sure the villages of Wensleydale and Swaledale where the book was set are spitting feathers! Anyway, it made me decide to read the books again. James Herriot was a newly qualified vet from Scotland in the 1930’s, he got a job in Thirsk and most of the patients of the practise were up in the remote corners of Wensleydale and Swaledale. The books are very entertaining, the characters he meets and the two brothers who are his new colleagues. A week or so back on TV there was a re-run of one of the original episodes of All Creatures Great and Small, which I remember watching as a child, it was classic Sunday Night viewing. After the programme there was another one about behind the scenes of the series. It was very interesting…apparently James Herriot insisted the first time round that they stuck exactly to the book. The next in the book series is All Things Bright and Beautiful, I’m just waiting for it to come into stock in our local bookshop. They’re great books, funny and entertaining.

The White Horse near Thirsk where James Herriot actually lived!”

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie; I read a review of this book somewhere and ordered it straight away. It’s based around an old Singer sewing machine across four generations from the lady who worked on it in the Singer factory at the time of a big strike, to the lady who bought it and her descendants. It’s one of those books which does a chapter on each character and timescale, so it flits from 1911 to 2016. It’s interesting how she weaves the plot and builds the characters, you spend most of the book trying to work out how they’re all connected and of course you don’t find out until the final chapter! I enjoyed it, I almost want to read it again knowing who was who. It was also interesting reading how societies values and morals have changed over the 100 years. A good read.

My vintage singer!

I’m not sure what I’ll be reading next, we now have an independent bookshop in Otley so I’m trying to support it!

Posted in Books, Serendipity | 9 Comments

Bloomtopia Quilt

I’m going hot and cold on this quilt at the moment, in fact more chilly than warm to be honest…

It’s my first truly scrappy quilt, all the colour fabrics are from my scrap boxes with a couple of fat quarters for background. I’ve got boxes of coloured scraps, but not that many light enough to be a background piece. It’s a free QAL by Pat Sloan from earlier in the year, or it may even be last year. Either way, all the patterns are there for free on her website.

This week I stitched set 4 blocks. I made the mistake of not looking at my earlier blocks first as they were tidied away in my block book…

First I made two little stars using a soft grey background leftover from my coming home quilt…

They were fiddly as they’re only 6″ square, but I’m happy with those.

Next up were four blocks of Goose and Gosling blocks, these were even more fiddly due to all those triangles! I like doing half square triangle blocks as the square stays stable, I really don’t like having to cut the fabric down the diagonal before it’s stitched! There’s too much room for movement! I drowned it in Best Press and it seemed to work! For these I used a plain cream background and on these blocks I think it looks OK…

Next up was a 12″ block with a star and a mini pinwheel. It stitched easily (apart from those pesky triangles again!) and I was pleased with how it turned out, nice and crsp I thought…

… until I got the other blocks out on my design wall and put them altogther!

OK so this isn’t the final lay out but those blocks with a cream background stand out a mile, I hadn’t remembered the others having such busy backgrounds. I hoped it might bring a bit of calm, but I think the big block in particular looks too stark! I think I will get away with the smaller blocks, especially as they are in pairs on the final layout. My one saving grace is that the pinwheel block is a standard 12″ block, so if needed I can always add an orphan block in, do a swop..

I think next time I’ll just stick to a simple half square triangle scrappy quilt!

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