Just Take a Deep Breath…

Just take a deep breath and stitch, she said, so I did!

I’m so excited about my Spring Wreath BOM, I’ve just finished the first block and I’m well chuffed with it!

This is a block of the month quilt designed by Andrea Walpole of Raggedy Ruff designs, it has raw edge applique and free motion machine embroidery which is new to me, so I was somewhat apprehensive about that bit of the quilt, but that was one reason for choosing to make the quilt…apart from the fact that it is just gorgeous!

Last time I showed you the block I had just laid on the applique shapes…DSC_0612 (2)

Andrea just holds them in place, no glue, no bondaweb, I wasn’t quite that brave, I used a tiny dot of glue, just enough so the pieces would stay put. To start with I had to stitch all round the edge of the pieces, I think the  free motion quilting I’ve done did help but there are quite a few wobbles! I also had to outline the eyes, Andrea had a really helpful tip for this, I traced the eye onto the freezer paper pattern, cut out the hole, ironed it in place and then stitched the circle right next to the edge of the paper, it worked!DSC_0605

Next was what I think of as the actual embroidery. Andrea’s instructions are really good, lots of diagrams and photos, she also has tutorials on YouTube, which although they are not of this specific design, they help with general technique enormously. I’m using a selection of Gutermann threads at the moment rather than the specific threads used in the design. If I get really into machine embroidery I might start investing in the special threads, but for now Gutermann will suffice.

The trickiest bit I found was the eyes, lets face it they can make or break a picture so the pressure was on!! I did the darker hare first and you can tell! He looks like he has too much mascara on and I stitched that much there is almost an eyeball of thread at the back!! The second hare came out much better, less is more I think! The leveret’s eye is so small I more or less gave up with detail as I couldn’t see what I was doing! All in all I’m pretty pleased with the eyes.DSC_0608

Really it was mostly a matter of doing varying zig-zags over the design, sometimes it flowed really easily and other times I found it hard to get the direction right, I found it easier if I turned the block round so I was stitching down but that wasn’t always feasible.

The stitching is easiest to see on the back where it shows up clearly on the stabiliser, mind you, you can also see the big blob of an eye!DSC_0610

By the time I got round to stitching the flowers and the dandelion heads I was just going for it, some work well, others not as neat but I love the overall effect.

I’m well chuffed with the first block, can’t wait for the next one to arrive!Spring Wreath BOM

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Tall Year Square Etui SAL

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my Tall Year Square Etui, it’s a design by Betsy Morgan which was published in Classic Inspirations. Each side represents a different season, I’m using different threads to the instructions, so I’ve just chosen DMC threads which to me represent the season.

Three weeks ago I was nearly half way through winter…Tall Year Square Etui

I’ve managed to get several hours working on this, a few, evenings and also a day at Embroiderers Guild helped. Tall Year Square

I really like this one, the acorns were a new stitch to learn, Queen stitch, I’ve not come across it before but it’s a bit like a variation of fly stitch, making diamonds with them. That is what the acorns are stitched with.Tall Year Square

So I have now finished the main side for winter, I’ve still the little square to do for the thimble cube which will have another robin in the middle.

I can however do a mini happy dance as that’s all four sides stitched! I’ve still a fair bit to do with the lid and pockets for inside, but the sides were the biggest task by far.

 

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching By The Sea, we post every three weeks on whatever hand embroidery we are working on, it certainly helps to motivate and encourage me to keep going on a project. 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, Tony, Megan, Catherine, Deborah, Connie, Clare

Also linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, her celebration of anything hand-stitched. Please follow the link for even more hand sewing!

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Friday Photo Challenge.

It’s Friday already, so here’s my post for the Friday Photo Challenge organised by Postcard from Gibraltar. The word for today is curve.

This is a silk painting I did a few years ago – I couldn’t find the right feature painting for my purple wall in our bedroom, so I painted one! It’s not my  design, I traced it from a Burda magasine, it’s full of curves like a decorative wrought iron gate, I call it ‘Through the Park Gates’

Silk Painting
‘Through the Park Gates’

This cross-stitch is one I did in 2015, I’d had the pattern a couple of years, I love the shape of the Father Christmas, with the long curve of his coat.

Father Christmas in cross-stitch

This is a bag I embroidered about the same time, it was a pattern in Classic Inspirations magasine,the curves made it very difficult to make it neatly into a bag, it still looks pretty though.

Embroisered Bag

This is the curve of the train on my wedding dress in 2007. The lace was beautiful, I bought it in Bombay Stores in Bradford, I cut the shape and then hand-stitched the lace border around the curve.

Our garden has three circles, a lawn, a patio and a gravel circle making lots of curving borders. Rosie adds to the curves with her favourite position, being a bit of a floosie!

This is a smocked dress I made for Helen 20 years ago, it was the only Bishop neckline I tackled,I love the curve of the rounded neckline,but I think it’s possibly a design that suits little children best!

My ripple blanket, I learnt to crochet so I could make a ripple blanket having fallen for the Attic 24 Coast blanket, I wanted moorland colours though so I chose my own wool and it took me forever, but I did finally finish it! Attic24 now do a moorland range.

A bracelet, I made this on a course down at Denman College on beaded jewelry, the final piece we were meant to make wasn’t my cup of tea but the tutor had some kits, so I made this instead, the trellis design of the beading gives it a lovely slinky curve.

Finally, the beautiful curve of a red kite, these stunning birds were close to extinction a few years ago but they were reintroduced at a couple of breeding sites and they’ve done really well, spreading their wings further a field (‘scuse the pun!) We were lucky as one of the original breeding sites is down the road at Harewood House so we often see these majestic birds seeking out the thermals.

This photo challenge is organised by Postcard from Gibraltar, please follow the link to see more curves!

 

 

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Woodland Wreath BOM

As I’m still waiting for my border fabric to arrive for my hummingbird quilt I decided to start my new Block of the Month quilt. I’m pretty excited about this one and I’ve been itching to start it since the first pack arrived at the beginning of the month.

The quilt is called Woodland Wreath, it’s by a designer called Andrea Walpole, her company is Raggedy Ruff Designs and she does the most beautiful pictures and quilts of wildlife using free motion embroidery. As soon as I saw this quilt I loved it (even before I knew it would become a BOM) but I also like to do BOM’s to learn something new, I’m hoping with this one to learn free motion embroidery.

The quilt is going to be made over about seven months, this month the panel is the family of rabbits, there’s a spare panel to make too to use later. So far I’ve been very impressed with the pack, pages of clear directions and pictures. I’m getting the fabric from her too and it’s all carefully labelled with the name and what needs cutting out of it. Andrea is also also sending a comfortable amount of fabric, plenty to get the piece required, but not so much you could make two!…and there’s a facebook page in case you’re feeling lonely!DSC_0609

Last night I set too and made the two background blocks. They went together very easily. I’m glad I chose to buy the fabrics from her as she is using fabrics I would never have thought to try, like a lurex gold fabric, or linen which is a bit heavier than the rest of the cottons.DSC_0608 (2)

The next bit was to cut out all the applique pieces using freezer paper (provided) and lay them in position. It looks really cute at the moment…DSC_0612 (2)

Now I have the scary bit, free motion embroidery! Andrea doesn’t glue anything in place, she just holds it firm (I watched her youtube videos for tips) I don’t think I’m that brave yet, I think I will put the tiniest blob of glue every so often just to hold it in place. I’ve got everything crossed,  feeling a little apprehensive, just got to take the plunge!

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Go Teal It On The Mountain

Having ordered some green fabric for my hummingbird quilt border I have to wait til at least the weekend for it to arrive – I received a very sweet e-mail from the company just after I ordered it explaining that whilst they do have it in stock, it is currently in the back of a van on it’s way to Malvern Quilt Show! Would it be a problem waiting a few days!

So I’ve a few days to catch up with other sewing and quilting…44052405_1930970643645865_1474082004902346752_n

Each year Kate from Tall Tales from Chiconia makes a quilt to auction to raise money for an Ovarian Cancer charity. Various quilters from all over the world make blocks for her to include in the quilt. The colours are always teal and cream as these are the ovarian cancer colours (like pink is for breast cancer) and the name and theme of the quilt is always a pun on the word teal, so there was Time for Teal, last year it was Signed Tealed and Delivered, you get the drift.

This years quilt is going to be the best one yet I think. The name is Go Teal it on the Mountain, so everyone is making blocks with mountains on, the ones that have arrived so far look amazing.

My first thought when planning what to do, was of course Catbells, my favorite fell in the Lake District. I did briefly wonder though as I’ve stitched it at least five times maybe I’ve over done it a bit, (maybe everyones thinking Oh no, not Catbells again!!) perhaps I ought to try something else, but as Kate then suggested Catbells I was delighted to start planning another one.

I started pulling out my teal fabrics, I had a couple of pretty batiks which I thought would be perfect for Catbells itself and the reflection.

The fabric which I thought would be ideal for the rest of Derwentwater had a slight issue, it was rectangular but the ‘water’ went the wrong way, making it tall and narrow, rather than wide and short. Cut in half it would be plenty big enough but I didn’t really want a seam straight down the middle. After a bit of pondering I decided to be a bit rash with an idea that would either work perfectly or not at all!

I cut diagonally across the fabric and then ‘slid’ the angle down a bit before restitching. So far so good, however I thought it would look better with two diagonal seams, so I cut it again the other way. This time I ended up with just enough for the bottom half of the block, it worked!DSC_0607 (2)

Having sketched the simple design on paper I cut out the shapes of Catbells and the reflection. I appliqued them on to the sky and lake fabric by hand, keeping the two halves separate for now. I was then a bit brave and cut away the fabric behind Catbells. Sarah Fielke (of Down the Rabbit Hole) always suggested this as it reduces the bulk when it comes to quilting. I left the Lake intact as the reflection fabric is actually dress weight batik, a bit too light to just be on it’s own.DSC_0692 (2)

I stitched the two halves together, embroidered the name Catbells and it’s height in feet and my block is finished. I’m really pleased with it’s simplicity and how the fabrics have worked, I love the main fabric in particular as although the main colour is teal there’s also green and little details of colour which remind me of the trees of Manesty Woods around the bottom of Catbells and the bracken and heather on it’s flanks.DSC_0691 (2)

It will hopefully go in the post to Australia tomorrow.

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden…and Up the Lane!

I took our dogs for a walk down the back lane on Saturday and the colours were so lovely I went back with the camera. It looked even better when the sun tried to shine but of course it gave up by the time I had my camera. I love walking through woods at this time of year with the deep earthy scent and the rustle of the leaves.DSC_0613

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One of my favourite views along the lane, looking over the farmers gate towards the Chevin.DSC_0608

Even the brambles were doing their best to add to the autumn colour.DSC_0620

It did make me appreciate the colour in our garden a bit more when I returned, the hostas and the iris next to the pond didn’t look quite so sad when I appreciated the colours. At WI two days earlier we had a flower demonstration and she used crocosmia stems with their seed heads in an arrangement..and I was just about to chop mine down for the compost heap!DSC_0622

The cotinus coggyrhia is looking beautiful at the moment, almost crimson in places.DSC_0627

The evergreens are beginning to take their place in the garden again as well as perennials such as brunnera Jack Frost which has lovely variegated leaves. It does die down eventually but not for a while yet.DSC_0609

There’s still a few roses doing their best in inclement weather at the moment, this one is Lady Emma Hamilton, it looked beautiful with the early morning raindrops, the foliage is a lovely bronze colour too which looks wonderful with the orange-pink flower .DSC_0611

There’s still a couple of perenials in flower, these rudbekias give a splash of colour in the Amber & Amethyst garden.DSC_0614

The view over the garden from upstairs still looks pretty full and interesting. I’ve spent several hours over the last few days starting to tidy up, digging up lots of weed roots, moving things around. I can’t say I’m getting there, but I’m definitely making progress!DSC_0617

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Decisions!

I’ve just finished piecing my hummingbird quilt, I’m really pleased with it, it’s worked out just as I hoped.

Last time I showed you it I was trying to arrange the background and you know how I struggle with random…DSC_0607 (2)

After various suggestions I shuffled things round…and round and round! Invariably sorting out one problem caused other issues! I started stitching the blocks together and blocks got swopped again as I couldn’t always remember where I got them from!

The quilt went together a lot easier than I thought it might as I managed to divide it into eight rectangular sections, a strip top and bottom and six sections in the middle.

My usual way is that once it’s stitched, it stays stitched, it takes a lot for me to unpick, however I did unpick a few of the little blocks that just didn’t work as well and just as I was about to stitch one of the last seams I noticed this…DSC_0634

It just had to be changed! My original plan was to unpick the block, turn it round a quarter turn so it wouldn’t make a stripe and re-stitch the three sides. However whilst I was unpicking I had an idea, I unpicked the block on the right side and continued up the next one to the top. Having detached part of the strip, I could turn the whole section round, problem solved!DSC_0636 (2)

Having stitched the main quilt I feel it needs a border (it could also do with being a fraction bigger) so this is my next dilemma, what colour! I’ve only scraps left so I’m going to have to order regardless of colour. So  here’s the options I’ve thought of…

Wide cream.DSC_0641

Narrow green followed by wide creamDSC_0643

Narrow green with muted wider one (I told you I only have scraps left!DSC_0640

Or maybe just a 3″ border of green!DSC_0604 (2)

Any suggestions gratefully received!

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Photo Challenge

This weeks photo challenge is a tricky one for me, the theme set by Postcard from Gibraltar is nocturnal. Now I am definitely not a nocturnal person, I struggle to stay up to midnight on New Years Eve, never mind any other night! On a dark evening I’d much rather be tucked up in my sewing room than going out. As a result I have very few nocturnal photos, so I’m bending or stretching it a bit!

I’ve tried to avoid Christmassy things in October but needs must! This is my advent ring from last year, each Sunday in Advent we light another candle, the red one in the middle is the usual  daily Advent Candle. I love seeing the ring all lit up on the dark December nights, it’s heralds the start of Christmas for me.

This was an embroidery I did last year for the travelling sketchbooks. The theme was Astronomy so I did a night sky scene.

Isn’t this iris beautiful, it’s almost black, I’m sure it’s name was something like Midnight (I warned you the links were tenuous!)

Please ignore the headress, I was on my way to a 1920’s evening! It’s my cape you’re meant to be looking at. I love this cape, I made it about 30 years ago in Midnight Blue velvet, bought straight from the factory near us. It’s commonly known as my Scottish Widows cape is it is like one in their advert! The advantage of a cape is that if you make one age 24 when you’re size 8, it still fits you 30 year later when you are several sizes larger!

Please follow the link over to Postcard from Gibraltar, I’m sure everyone else will have photos nearer to the theme 🙂

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The Hummingbirds are taking flight!

My humming bird quilt is starting to take shape, I’m quite excited about it! My new design wall has been wonderful, definitely a good buy!

This quilt is for my niece, it’s going to go in her guest room which is newly decorated with very pretty humming bird wallpaper, so I decided to make a humming bird quilt. I’m sort of making it up as I go along so the design wall has been pretty vital! I bought four different paper pieced patterns of hummingbirds from Craftsy and I’ve made seven birds in total of varying size and complexity. The idea is to have them set on a ‘low volume’ background, so I bought lots of batiks in muted shades at the Festival of Quilts.

Luckily all the hummingbirds were of a size that is divisible by three, 12″, 6″ etc, so I made lots of blocks using 3″ as a basic size. I made lots of half square triangles to make pinwheels, I found out by accident that if you sew one pair the wrong way round it makes a nice diamond block! I cut 6″ squares and some plain 3″ squares. All I had to do was arrange them!

To start with I arranged the birds in a circle shape and then tried to place the blocks round them, filling in the gaps and working outwards. It looked OKish, but somehow it looked a bit messy and just didn’t gel. I moved things round, swopped blocks, it just wasn’t quite right.DSC_0603 (2)

After pondering on it as I tried to get to sleep I decided I needed a different approach…

Having taken a photo as back up of my memory, I took down all the birds and the blocks, sorted them into shapes and colours and then started to work along row by row, placing the blocks in 12″ groups. I aimed that each 12″ square would have a plain 6″ block, a pinwheel, a diamond and a set of four squares. There’s also five big 12″ stars scattered around the quilt. I varied the position of the blocks but it just gave a flow to the quilt, the hint of a pattern gave it the continuity I needed.DSC_0604

Once I had a few rows arranged I started to position the birds back on the quilt again. I used the same positioning as before, just removed the backgound blocks and slotted in the birds. I had to do a bit of swopping around and filling in to around the birds but it worked pretty well.DSC_0605 (2)

I just need to cut a few more 3″ squares then I can arrange the last few rows at the bottom of the quilt before I start stitching all the blocks together.

I haven’t quite worked out the order of stitching the blocks together yet as most are stitched in twos, some are already stitched in fours and of course the bird blocks are varying sizes. Most areas work out pretty well into bigger blocks, it’s just round the humming birds it is going to need a bit of forward planning.DSC_0607 (2)

I feel I’m finally getting somewhere with this quilt, it still needs some tweaking, especially in the top right corner but it’s going in the right direction! Hopefully I’ll get it pieced over the weekend, then it just needs sandwiching and quilting.

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

The garden is looking very autumnal now, the nights are drawing in and the tidying up in the garden continues. There’s still colour and interest though…

These nerines came from my mum’s neighbour, we gave her a pile of garden pots and stuff when we were clearing out mum’s house, she offered these nerines as a thank you. I’ve always wanted nerines but never quite got round to planting them so I was very pleased to be given a clump. They look so delicate but they must be pretty tough as they seem to survive wind, rain and early morning frosts!DSC_0611

This little penstemon is next to the conservatory, I think it’s called appleblossom. It’s very pretty and it’s been quietly flowering for months, never quite making the star of the show, just getting on with being a good supporting cast!DSC_0613

I planted this erysimum in the spring, it was hidden for most of the summer by it’s overgrown neighbours, now I’ve tidied things up a bit and moved the bullies to another bed it seems to be flourishing, flowering away. It’s very pretty.DSC_0607

The clematis over the arch by the patio is still managing to give a reasonable show, this one is called Romantica. I prune it hard in February or March and it rewards me with weeks of flowers.DSC_0620

My spirea is definitely the star of the raised bed at the moment, it’s beautiful shades of autumn colour almost glow with a bit of sunshine on them. I think this one is Spirea Goldflame, I’m tempted to get another one for my autumn border in the old chicken run.

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The autumn border is showing promise, I only planted it in the spring, the acer and the eunonymous alata are looking good and the photinia at the back is just tinged with red at the moment. As you can see I’ve a fair bit of weeding to do up here, the mint that used to be kept at bay by the chickens is now going a bit rampant!DSC_0618

This border by the big fence needs a good session of tidying up, the perenials have pretty much gone over, the cotinus still looks good with it’s wine coloured leaves but I think in the spring it’s going to need a hard prune as it’s getting a bit big.

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I need to try and keep up with the three sessions a week in the garden over the autumn and winter as I’ve just volunteered to have an open garden and craft show next year for the Soldiers Charity as my OH has just signed up to do a charity walk for them!

 

 

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