Monday's Meander Round the Garden

Well I didn’t see that coming!! We woke up to about 3″ of snow this morning – the first snow of the winter!!

It looks very pretty, though my OH wasn’t too impressed as having left home for work at 7am, he had only traveled 1 mile in two hours!! I did offer to walk up with a flask of coffee 🙂

The back lane looked particularly pretty with every twig edged with snow…

Rosie enjoyed playing snow angels on the lawn…

We do have a little bit of colour on our kitchen window sill – as luck would have it yesterday I decided to rescue some daffodils which had been blown over by the storms – they’d just popped their heads out when storm Dennis arrived! They’re a little tatty in places but at least they’ve had a chance to bloom!

I’ve put some extra food out for the birds and a spoonful on the floor as I saw a very cute little mouse scurrying about under the birdfeeders trying to find seeds the birds had discarded. Otherwise it’s definitely a day for staying inside and preferably sewing!

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Hand Quilt-a-long

Change of plan!!!

For the last few weeks I’ve shown you my progress (or not!) on my Christmas table runner. I have to admit it is sitting next to me, neatly rolled up, looking very reproachfully at me, as it’s been there for most of the last three weeks! However…

I’ve got re-enthused with my Coming Home quilt, this is the Sarah Fielke BOM I started last January, it’s a 12 month BOM so I have the whole pattern now. I’m working on month 10, last time I showed you the quilt I’d just finished all the houses and what seemed like dozens of windows….

I’m ashamed to say that photo was taken at the end of October!! The next section to work on is the corners, all hand appliqued, it involves an awful lot of leaves, like eighty of them!! This was a bit of a mental block!! The size of the mental block wasn’t helped by the fact that I knew I wanted to do a different final border, but I was undecided how to finish it…

Anyway, I’ve worked out how to finish it…I think! The next border on the pattern is another deep border which is quite heavily pieced, I didn’t want my quilt to be quite so big and it also felt a bit busy for my peaceful quilt. I’ve decided to do flying geese blocks so it’s like little triangular hills going round each side, with my tree fabric as the background. At the corners I will adapt Sarah’s pattern of three little houses round the curve.

In the meantime I need to applique the corners. I started cutting out the leaves, I had no problem choosing these colours, though I haven’t decided which fabric I’m going to use for the bias binding vine down the middle of them.

My main issue has been deciding on the colour of the bird!

I tried blue…

Not bad but he wing is wrong!

I tried peach…

Body looked wrong with the other parts!

I also tried purple, but I think that one was photo shy as I can’t find it! I then started mixing the colours a bit, blue with purple…

Blue with peach…

Blue with a different purple…

At the moment I think this is my favourite one, though I’m open to suggestions. I’ll probably change the centre leaf too as the peach looks a bit wishy-washy!

All I’ve got to do now is stitch them all on!

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,  EdithSharonKarrin, Gretchen, Kathi,  Bella, Daisy and Connie

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday. Please follow the link for lots more hand-stitching.

Posted in Coming Home Quilt, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

Anthea Calendar SAL

Last month I started the latest SAL from Faby Reilly, it’s called the Anthea SAL and it’s a sort of flower calendar, it can be stitched as one big picture or twelve little ones. I decided to do them individually with the idea of making cross-stitch smalls.

Having stitched the first one I was a little undecided how to finish it as it was a little bigger than I anticipated. Del from Curls n Skirls suggested a textile book, a bit like the stitch one I made last year. The idea grew on me and I mulled over various ideas for a couple of weeks. If I just made the twelve squares it would only be six pages long, so I wanted something on the opposite page for each month…

Inspired by the With Thy Needle wordplay designs I decided to do a little wordplay including a seasonal poem or verse, dates and occasions through the month, the latin name of snowdrops together with a single snowdrop from the design. My design method is very traditional – graph paper and bluetack!!

I quite enjoy playing with words like this – I did a big family one a couple of years after we got married, the only difficulty I find is I find it easier to stitch the words as I would write them – and if you turn the cross-stitch round you tend to do the cross-stitches in the opposite direction!!

The poem is one I found years ago, unfortunately I have no idea who it is by…

As morning awakes in the still grey sky

And a scamper of snowflakes rise up on the wind

Spring warmth reaches out and touches the earth

As snowdrop by snowdrop the winter ends

I had to include Helen’s Passing Out parade – here’s me in my proud mum moment, she’s now a qualified nurse in the army…

I had a bit of space left over so I included a flower from our garden and a visitor to the bird feeders in our garden in January, hence mahonia and nuthatch. I also discovered that the first full moon of the year is called a wolf moon!

I used the same colours for both the linen and the floss, it looks a bit darker but that’s just indoor lighting! The running stitch round the edge just helps me stay within the size I wanted, I haven’t decided if it will stay or not.

I’m already about three quarters of the way through February’s design, I’m just doing the back-stitching and then all the embellishments and fancy stitches. Then I need to think about February’s wordplay.

Posted in embroidery | Tagged , , , | 35 Comments

Ultimate Trousers…or not!

I finally got round to making myself a pair of trousers last week and they’ve come out OK, not amazing but certainly wearable.

I bought the fabric last year in Fabworks, it’s medium weight and it has a slight stretch to it, not a lot, but just a bit of give. I decided to use the Ultimate Trouser pattern by Sew Over It, I used it back in 2017 with a very stretchy jacquard fabric and I still wear them a lot. With those I felt they were quite roomy, so rather than adding a side zip I added a waistband with some elastic. They still fit me fine so I just went with the size 14 I’d cut out before…

What I didn’t take into account was my fluctuating weight, due to thyroid issues over the last twelve months I’ve lost and then regained a stone in weight, and those trousers are so stretchy they are very forgiving! I made the trousers up and at the first try on thought, ooh, they’re a bit snug! I decided to unpick the side seams and restitch them with a minimum seam allowance, probably gaining me half an inch on each leg, it was just enough to make a difference.

I stitched in the invisible side zip – it would be more invisible if I didn’t end up with that uneven gap just below it – next time I’m going to stitch the side seam after I’ve put the zip in. Instead I just fudged it a bit and slip-stitched the edges together.

The pattern has a drop waist with a facing, I’d already decided I wanted it a bit higher, I also decided to add a waistband, I just cut a 3″ strip and stitched it round, with hindsight I’d have been better with a four inch one to make it a bit more comfortable.

All in all, they don’t look bad, apart from the waistband they’re pretty comfortable, I can see me getting a fair bit of casual wear out of them – especially if I manage to lose a bit of that stone!! I’d had them on for several hours on the photos, hence the creases and please excuse the dozy look, I was still recovering from a night shift!

Posted in Dressmaking | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

The Finery of Nature SAL

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my Finery of Nature cross-stitch – doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun!! I’ve stitched a fair bit, though not quite as much as I hoped as I’ve been concentrating on keeping up with my Faby Reilly cross-stitches too!

Three weeks ago I had just started the second butterfly…

The second butterfly is now stitched, though I still have all the back-stitching to do on both of them. I’ve started the little flowers surrounding them as well. I tend to start in one area, but if I have thread left over I’ll use it up in another area , hence odd little bits of green have been stitched!

Once the flowers are stitched, there’s just the border to finish and it will be happy dance time – I think that’s a while off yet though!

This Stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from stitching by the see, we all share our progress every three weeks, it’s a great incentive to keep going on a big project. If you would like to join us please send Avis a message. In the meantime please follow the links to check out every one else’s progress.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny

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

Posted in Serendipity | 41 Comments

Monday's Meander Round the Garden

Today’s meander was more of a quick whizz as it was too cold to dilly-dally outside! I make no apologies for the lack of progress in the garden over the last few days, we were away for a couple of days and then Storm Ciara hit with strong winds and heavy rain, it was definitely a weekend to stay in the sewing room!

This was the flooding on the back lane behind our garden, at the far end it would have been over my wellies!

We had a temporary water feature in our back garden! The old railway line behind us occasionally floods and overflows down our path, luckily we live on a hill so the water just carries on down our drive to the road! Last time it did this was the Boxing Day floods a few years ago. Other areas have not been so lucky with lots of flooding around Yorkshire.

This morning the garden path is looking pretty clean, though the drive has loads of debris strewn across it. The rest of the garden seems to have escaped pretty unscathed. I noticed the pulmonaria are just starting to flower, they’re a really pretty blue and pink.

My hellebores are still putting on a good show, this is my favourite one when it’s in full flower, it’s a wonderful deep red, it’s still in bud at the moment but it shouldn’t be long. I think it brings out the purple of the pretty little hebe next to it.

I noticed another hellebore in flower down by the conservatory, I only planted it last year so it’s still pretty small but it’s a beautiful double flower with delicate pink spots, I think they call them freckles.

Perennials are starting to push their shoots up, this is brunnera Jack Frost, I’ve another couple of brunnera plants around the garden as they provide good ground cover and make a lovely display of pretty blue flowers in the spring…and they like my soil!!

We should have our first daffodil soon, as the buds have formed and they’re starting to bow down. Hopefully they won’t get too battered by the snow we’re expecting over the next few days!

Hopefully next weekend I’ll manage to start working on the garden as there’s an awful lot to do!

Posted in Garden, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

The Kelpies

A few weeks ago I discovered my OH was going up to Falkirk in Scotland with work, staying overnight as it’s about 200 miles away. It just happened to be 2 miles from where a close friend from schooldays lives. It was too good an opportunity to miss. I did a three way swop with my shifts at work, organised dog care and on Thursday we drove up to Falkirk!

I had a great time catching up with my friend and her OH. On Friday we walked to see the Kelpies, about a two mile walk each way with a coffee shop on the middle and a pub at the end!!

The Kelpies are 30m high statues of horse heads, based on the Clydesdale heavy horses. They were designed by Andy Scott, apparently the horse in the Trinity Centre in Leeds is by the same designer. Kelpies are a mythical beast which don’t sound very nice, but they represent the horses used in heavy industry in Scotland in the past together with the transformative nature of the area (have a look on Wikipedia for a more detailed explanation!)

Having seen lots of photos on facebook over the years, I’ve wanted to see them for ages, I wasn’t disappointed…

It was a nice gentle walk to the Kelpies, we passed a sundial, you stand on the month and your shadow tells the time with two rings of time for winter or summertime. Unfortunately we had no sun!


We walked along the bank of the tidal river Carron, watching a pair of swans along the way in a nearby pond…


We also admired Ian’s bridge…

River Carron

The Kelpies are situated next to the canal, we walked across one of the lock bridges which brought back memories of our holiday on the Leeds Liverpool canal as they are similar heavy locks…

Canal lock

The Kelpies are stunning, they change by the minute as the light changes.

The Kelpies

They look different from every angle too..

The Kelpies

It wasn’t particularly sunny when we arrived, though it looked like it would burn through soon, so we went for a coffee and a scone..

The Kelpies

When we came out it was quite misty, but it made the Kelpies look quite ethereal.

The Kelpies

It was lovely to catch up with my friends and wonderful to see the Kelpies, if you’re vaguely in the area they are worth a detour!

Posted in Serendipity | 21 Comments

2020 Vision

It’s a month since I set my goals for the year, my 2020 vision! Twenty things I want to make in 2020. I’ve done a fair bit of stitching in January, but I must also admit to a fair bit of faffing!! I think having two new machines to get to grips with has been a bit overwhelming, but at least I’ve started using them. I really need to sit down at the beginning of the instruction books and work my way through,rather than hitting a problem and trying to sort it, which is what I’m doing at the moment. I am getting much faster at threading my overlocker though!!

Clothes; I have to confess I didn’t do any dress-making in January, I decided half the problem (apart from two new machines!!) was my pattern stash, many of my patterns are like 30 years old, which is fine if; a) you’re going to use them again, b) you’re still the same size as you were aged 25!! and c) all the pieces are there if you do decide to use them. The last one was the most frustrating, I’ve decided I’m really not very good at looking after patterns! What I decided to do was to buy some new patterns which will hopefully enthuse me again. Simplicity were all half price so I ordered half a dozen, I’ve decided that when each make is on offer I will have a look and see what looks interesting, in the meantime I need a good sort out of my patterns and a new storage system.

Quilts; I made a baby quilt for an expected new member of the family, it’s very cute and is now winging it’s way over to Australia to be used and abused hopefully. Next I want to finish the top of my Coming Home quilt, I need a bit of a kick with this one, I’ve been procrastinating over how to finish it as I don’t want another deep border, but also the thought of appliquing 88 leaves on the last corners has been a bit of a damper! This picture is from October – big kick needed!!

Projects; The Stitchbook Collective is progressing nicely, I did two months worth in January, with a workshop on Joomchi and one on Gel printing. February’s box has just arrived too, it looks quite exciting!!

The Anthea SAL started with the beautiful snowdrop design for January. I’m thinking of making this into a book, so I just need to do something simple for the facing page; my plans are coming together!

I’ve done a little bit more stitching on my Harold the Hare at Embroiderers Guild Meetings, though there’s still a long way to go with this one. My Finery of Nature is getting there, I’m probably now half way through the last quarter, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel here, this was my progress a couple of weeks ago…

Things; I’ve not made anything off my list, but other makes from January include a bee cross-stitch small, a temari ball and the last part of my Enlightenment SAL. So I might have been a bit faffy in January but I have managed to make a few things 🙂

Posted in 2020 Vision, Coming Home Quilt, Quilting, The Stitchbook Collective | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Damson Dress

Over Christmas I had a major move round in my sewing room which involved emptying my fabric cupboard so I could move it. The nice side to this was I fell in love with a lot of fabrics again!! In amongst the piles of fabrics I found this gorgeous purple corduroy, it’s a needlecord one in a beautiful shade of what I would call damson, the more pinky end of purple!! I also realised when I was cutting it out that it has a slight width ways stretch, it didn’t cause any problems sewing and hopefully will make it extra comfortable to wear.

Last week I decided to make a dress, having looked through my patterns and worked out that some had several pieces missing (!!) I decided to make another dress from Vogue 2412, this will be the fourth dress I’ve made from this pattern, and I didn’t even buy it in the first place, it was on the swop table at a sewing meet-up a couple of years ago. I’ve made two in boiled wool and one in a sort of suede-feeling fabric, between them they have been my staple dresses over the winter, comfortable and easy to wear but smart too.

I decided on a different collar, a stand-up one – mainly because the other collar piece was missing – I really must learn to look after my patterns better!! Having made it several times it was a fairly quick make, I used my overlocker to finish the seams in side.

In the pattern the hems are just top-stitched up, I decided to have a play with my new sewing machine. I used one of the decorative stitches instead, it’s really pretty. I tried it on the sleeves first, I liked it so I did the hem the same way. The only issue I found was that the machine did seem to ‘throw’ the fabric to the side slightly on the same bit of the pattern each time, so it’s not quite as even as I would have liked, I do really like it though, it just gives an extra touch to an otherwise plain dress.

I’ve discovered that purple is one of those colours that is a nightmare to match buttons too. There are so many different shades and the wrong one looks awful! I looked in my stash and couldn’t see anything, so I popped into Ilkley to Boyes, thought I’d found a good match, brought them home to see them again in a different light and they looked awful!! I wanted to wear the dress today as we’re off visiting friends, so I was short on time. I managed to get off work a little early and flew down to Samuel Taylors at the bottom of Leeds, despite having dozens of purple buttons, nothing was right, I started looking at greys and black, in the end I bought some matt black buttons. I came home and decided to have one last look in my button stash and I found these, they’re actually vintage buttons as I bought a big box of them off e-bay and whilst they’re not 100% perfect, they look pretty good!

The sun has finally reached our garden, having hidden over the other side of the Chevin for the winter, so I managed to get outside for the photo! It was pretty cold though, hence the chilly stance!

Posted in Dressmaking | Tagged , | 19 Comments

A Quick Quilt

We have a baby due in our extended family in a few weeks time so I decided a couple of weeks ago to make a cot quilt. Time was of the essence as baby is in Australia and Granddad-to-be is coming over next weekend to the UK so I could post it down and he can take it over!

Fortunately last year I made an impulse buy of a very cute cot quilt panel, it was so lovely and I thought someone is bound to have a baby sometime…and they did!! Printed panels are perfect for a quick make as all you have to do is sandwich them, quilt and bind.

Baby quilt

I wanted to use fabric from my stash, so I picked a silver grey for the backing, it’s a nice gentle colour but quite practical as well! I decided to quilt it in a warm white, this was my first time doing FMQ on my new sewing machine, I took a deep breath and went foot free!! I started off on the middle speed whilst I got used to the idea of not using a foot pedal. I then remembered that the demonstrater at the show when I bought it said she actually found it easier on the fast speed…another deep breath and off I went!

free motion quilting

I did a fairly simple but new to me design of meanders with circles or loops. I’m fairly pleased with it – some of the circles are not very circular, but it’s not bad. There were a couple of bits where I wasn’t happy with the tension, so I undid it and restitched it, I think it was probably when I first turned the speed up!

Baby quilt

I bound it with a warm mid brown which nicely brings out the colours of the orangutans! I spent an evening hand-stitching the binding down and the quilt was finished. If I’d really put my mind to it I could have easily made it in a matter of hours,rather than the couple of days as I’m easily distracted!!

Today it went in the post. I put a little letter in saying it’s to be used and abused, I encouraged them to put it on the floor as a playmat, take it to the park for a picnic, throw it in the back of the car for a snuggle in long journeys, use it for a throw when they’re feeling poorly on the sofa. I’d rather it fell apart from use than sitting looking pretty on the shelf.

Baby quilt

Hopefully I’ll meet the new arrival at Christmas 🙂

Posted in Quilting | Tagged , | 14 Comments