An Unexpected Finish

On Monday it was my Embroiderers Guild meeting, we usually spend the morning stitching our own projects so I always pack my box the night before with whatever I’m planning to stitch. I decided to crack on with my Etui box, stitching outlines and inside pockets, I sorted out the flosses and linen so I was all ready. At the last minute I threw in a little scissor fob kit.

It was a good job I did, as when I sat down to start stitching I realised I had everything apart from the magasine with the instructions in!!

Out came my little kit! It’s one I bought at the Knitting and Stitching show a couple of years ago, it’s one by Sue Hawkins, she always has a wonderful display of needlepoint smalls.

I nearly fell down at the first hurdle – I couldn’t follow the instructions on where to start on the canvas, I even got someone else to look at it! In the end we decided it was only little so I could wing it and just start where I thought!

The rest of the instructions were fine with clear charts and diagrams. I learnt a new way of starting thread by having the loop of a double thread underneath and passing the needle through, a neat way of starting!The mint green border is stitched in long armed cross stitch, I’m still not sure about the way it goes round the double corners but she did provide very clear instructions on how to do it.

The front and back were stitched with two threads in between and didn’t take long at all, after a day at Embroiderers Guild and a morning visiting my mum I was almost there so I just cracked on and finished it…

Sue Hawkins Scissor Keep kit

The two sides are stitched together using long legged cross-stitch. I’ve used it before for joining needlepoint and it does make a nice textured finish. I wasn’t sure how to go round corners so I just added a couple of extra stitches to make sure the canvas was covered. I used my cord-maker to make the loop for the fob, stitching it in as I went along. After stuffing it quite firmly I had a pretty little scissor fob.

Sue Hawkins Scissor Keep kit

The finishing touch was two very pretty buttons attached either side and pulled firmly to dimple the fob – easier said than done!

So within about three days my scissor fob was finished, all ready to attach to a pair of embroidery scissors. Of course I have quite a few to choose from but I decided on my newest embroidery scissors. I think they look very pretty together.

Sue Hawkins Scissor Keep kit

I’m linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, why not follow the link for lots more hand-stitching.

Posted in Crafts, embroidery | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Decorating for Christmas

Last weekend I finally got round to decorating the house for Christmas. We usually get our tree about two weeks before Christmas as it’s a real one so if we get it too early the needles drop off before the big day, and no one wants a bald tree on Christmas Day!

We have a bit of a tradition now of walking up to the local riding school to buy our tree, it used to be quite entertaining when the kids were smaller, three of us carrying it, trying to cross a busy road in formation! This year my OH came instead (he wasn’t going to put a Christmas tree in his new car!!) so he carried it back!

I love Christmas and all the decorations but it isn’t quite the same when you haven’t got little ones around, I did chunter a bit to myself whilst I was arranging everything that I was only going to have to take it down again in three weeks time! Luckily that feeling soon passed and I love all the Christmassy bits again!

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I like to have a vaguely themed arrangement to my decorations, thinking about it it’s probably linked to my difficulty with random! Anyway, the lounge is always the Father Christmas room with my felt Santas next to the tree, the mantelpiece is full of santas, reindeer, my lovely gnome from Linda looks great next to the viking santa, a little nordic corner! I have snow globes and russian doll santas on the side tables too.

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Of course the tree is the centrepiece, I like it to be reasonably colour co-ordinated, mainly red, green, silver and gold. My daughter and I always have a bit of a laugh at Christmas as when they were little we had a tradition of going down to the local garden centre where they always have a big Christmas display. Each year they could choose one decoration each. One year she picked a bright pink and purple bauble, a big one too! It clashes with  everything! Each year she would proudly hang it prominently at the front. It was years before she realised that by the next day it had mysteriously moved to a less noticeable place. She now moves it back to the front and I move it back to the back…this year I have hung it elsewhere in the house so we’ll see how long it takes her to notice 🙂

I’ve got quite a few handmade decorations now, there will be even more after Monday when we take down the WI tree at the Christmas Tree Festival in town. Deborah’s angel does look like she’s dancing across the branches!

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This year the dining room has a new theme, Christmas Wreaths, there’s about six in there! Under the Advent wreath I’ve put the stitch ‘n’fold wreath I made last year, it seemed a good place to put the stained glass nativity I made last year as well. ..

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The big fabric wreath I made a few years ago is propped up on the piano

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Even the hall has a theme with stars going up the stairs, you can just see the stained glass one I made at the top.

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The conservatory has a Christmas tree theme, I put a tree in each window, various sizes from 3-4 ” to about 2′ tall. There’s wooden ones, metal ones, fussy ones, minimalistic ones. My favourite is my bare tree. I got the idea from visiting Castle Howard a few years ago. I have a twisted hazel in a pot in the garden, it’s only about 2′ tall. At Christmas I bring it in and decorate it with silver and gold decorations. I found on the main tree that these ones just seemed to disappear, but hung together they look so pretty.

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Yesterday a friend came round and we made my version of a door wreath, more of a swag really, it’s really easy and I think quite effective. I collect holly and ivy from the back lane and add laurel, eucalyptus and eunonymous from the garden, tie it all together in a big bunch and of course add a big red ribbon.

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It always fascinates me at Christmas to see how different countries decorate their homes so differently at Christmas time so I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else’s Christmas decorations.

Posted in Christmas, Crafts | Tagged , | 16 Comments

A Christmas Tree Skirt

I’ve just realised I haven’t told you about my latest Minerva Make

This year I decided to make a Christmas Tree Skirt, I’ve been admiring them for a while so when Minerva Crafts asked me to make something Christmassy it was the first idea I had. I found a pattern by Deonn Stott called Star Medallion Tree Skirt which looked perfect and not too difficult either. I chose some gorgeous Christmas fabric with gold swirls on, it worked really well as I wanted three different colours and this fabric comes in red, green and cream. A few days later a lovely parcel arrived from Minerva.

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I did have to laugh as when my OH saw the parcel I explained it was fabric for a Christmas tree skirt. He looked rather puzzled a few days later when he saw it half made as he thought it was a skirt for me with Christmas trees on! He was still a bit nonplussed about the idea, I sold it to him on the grounds that it would collect all the pine-needles up, save them getting trodden into the carpet!

The skirt is made like a quilt, the slit and the centre circle are not cut until almost the end. My first job was to cut out 18 large squares and stitch them together to make pairs of half square triangles. It was lovely arranging them on my design wall and seeing the colours come together.It was then a fairly quick job to stitch them all together.

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Once it was well pressed I could sandwich it with a red fabric backing and some cotton batting in between. I laid it out on the dining room table so I could get it nice and smooth and used 505 adhesive spray to hold it in place.

It took me a while to decide how to quilt it, the pattern picture has feather quilting down each diamond, which looked stunning but I don’t think my quilting is quite up to it yet! In the end I decided on a flower pattern which I’d seen in a tutorial on facebook just a few days before. I liked the idea that it was just curves and points, I find patterns with curves and points easier to do neatly with free motion quilting as the point gives me somewhere to stop and ‘regroup’ rather than wiggling on a straight line. I quilted in red, green and cream Gutermann thread with red in the bobbin formost of it. The fabric was lovely to quilt as it has a smooth sheen to it which seemed to let it move really easily under the foot.

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Once the basic ‘quilt’ was complete I had to make it into a tree skirt. I cut a straight line from the outer edge to the centre with a rotary cutter and then cut a 4” circle in the centre. I trimmed all the outer edges and reinforced the inner corners with a row of stitching. All that was left was binding and buttons.

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I cut some lengths of ribbon to make button loops and pinned them in place down one side so they would be stitched under the binding.

Binding a star shape was a bit of a learning curve for me,I’ve only ever bound nice 90’ outside corners. The star had narrow angles and inside corners too. Luckily the designer Deonn had a couple of tutorials on her website so I watched those and went for it! I stitched the inner circle first with a length of bias binding in the red swirl fabric. I hand stitched the back which is how I prefer to attach binding. 

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 The star shape proved easier to bind than I thought with my points coming out better than I anticipated! .I didn’t fancy hand-stitching the whole of the binding down so I found my clover clips and turned the binding to the back. I then stitched in the ditch from the front, catching down the back as I went. I covered some buttons with the red fabric,trying to cut the circles so I had a swirl on each button. I stitched them on and my Christmas Tree skirt is all ready for the festive season.

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I’ve now put it under my  Christmas tree, I think it looks great! Why not follow the link to Minerva Crafts blog and check out the other Christmas makes.

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Posted in Christmas, Crafts, Quilting | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Friday Photo Challenge

These Fridays come round awfully fast, in fact I didn’t even realise I’d missed last week! This week’s theme is decoration, so lots of Christmas photos coming!

Holly Humbug gorgeous cross-stitch decoration

This is a Faby Reilly humbug, I’ve stitched two Christmas ones, the holly one above and one with mistletoe, I’ve more patterns in stock too just waiting to be stitched! They look really cute on the Christmas tree

Fold and Stitch Wreath

This is the Fold ‘n’ Stitch wreath which I made last year at a WI workhop. It’s much easier than it looks! This year I’ve put it under my Advent Wreath.

I always make a Christmas cake and decorate at least one or two gingerbread houses. Traditionally Christmas cakes are a rich fruit cake made about 6 weeks before to give it chance to mature. It’s covered with marzipan and then icing. I’ve got a book of Christmas cakes which the children used to choose a design out of each year. Now they’ve flown the nest I can choose! I’ve made two this year as my son asked me to make him one as well, I just need to decorate them both. I also need to decorate two gingerbread houses. I buy these flat packed from the local supermarket, I used to get the Ikea ones, but these are easier to get hold of and more importantly they taste nicer too!

Gallery Walls

Just so it’s not all Christmas! I love decorating my home with paintings and pictures, in particular I like gallery walls, I have one just of family photos, another going up the stairs of paintings and pictures we love and finally this one in the hall which has some of my embroideries on. Some of them are recent, some of them are over thirty years old.  I’m running rapidly out of wall space…

I like to decorate my sewing space too, it may not be tidy, but I like the homely touches, this was taken when I first moved into this sewing room, I’ve moved it round again but the decorations are the same. The decals came from America, they go all the way around the tops of the walls. I used vintage cotton reels as drawer handles and wooden letters on the top of my homemade pegboard. I’ve got various sewing pictures or embroideries on the walls too.

Follow the link over to Postcard from Gibraltar for lots more links to decorations!

Posted in Christmas, Crafts, Photo Challenge | 5 Comments

Christie SAL

I’ve just finished the fourth and final Christmas cross-stitch from Faby Reilly’s Christie Stitch-a-long. It’s a beautiful design of a heart shaped wreath. The designs are all designed as Christmas cards but I chose to make them into little Christmas decorations. This was the exception! I was hoping there would be one card which I could use for my OH and this was perfect.

I sort of started a little tradition last year, I stitched a little cross-stitch design of a bunch of mistletoe, flat mounted it and ‘hung’ it on a card. This year it’s a decoration!

Mistletoe Christmas Card in cross-stitch

I love watching the different layers of Faby’s designs appear, first there’s just the cross-stitch, which sometimes hardly even shows the picture. The next layer is the back stitching when it starts to come alive. Finally there’s the embellishments, all the red and gold beads, the gold  embroidery with sequins as well. It all comes together to make a magical picture.

Faby Reilly Christie SAL

Once I’d completed the wreath I cut a square of cardboard and glued on some felt to soften it. I glued the cross-stitch around the card, trying to make the corners as neat as I could. Half of me doesn’t like using glue to mount, I prefer to lace, but on little projects like cards I find it’s easier to get a neat, flat finish with glue. I covered a slightly bigger square of card with more felt and then some Christmas fabric which would fold over far enough to the front to surround the cross-stitch.. I could then just glue the two squares together, leave it overnight with a book on top and then trim with some homemade cord.

Making into a card was pretty simple, I just glued a length of broad ribbon, hung the cross-stitch in place and then sellotaped the cord on the inside, so it is literally hanging on the front of the card. My hanging cord doesn’t appear to be perfectly in the middle as it doesn’t quite hang  straight! Hopefully he likes it as much as he liked the last one though.

Faby Reilly Christie SAL

I’ve really enjoyed this stitch-along, the finished designs are beautiful. There’s even another two designs available now, so I’ve got those ready for next year! This is the four of them together;

I think they’re all gorgeous but I think my favourite has got to be the Christmas Tree, I just love the way it work out with the finishing. It looks wonderful hung on the key of our old family bureau.

Faby Reilly Christie SAL

I’m linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, a celebration of all things hand-stitched, why not follow the link for more stitching.

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

Knitting & Stitching Show

Last month I had a wonderful day at the Knitting & Stitching show in Harrogate (I’m a bit behind with writing my posts again!) It’s the biggest show we have round here, four large halls of quilting, embroidery, sewing…heaven! Though it’s probably a good job it only comes once a year!

I went with a friend and as she wanted to book a couple of workshops, I decided to treat my self as well. I came to the conclusion at the Festival of Quilts that doing a workshop is actually quite a good move as the hour plus sitdown means I can manage to walk round for longer!!

We had a good mooch round the stalls and exhibitions too, there were some particularly good exhibitions this time. One particularly moving one was called Dementia Darnings, it’s by Jenni Dutton. She stitched portraits of her mother in the various stages of dementia, maybe a dozen or more,  sometimes with threads hanging down or faded as if to show the unravelling of memories. It was quite poignant to work out where abouts my mum was in the exhibition.

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Another beautiful exhibition was by Cas Holmes, her work was stunning, I bought her book Textile Landscapes for inspiration!

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The Embroiderers Guild had an exhibition there with some beautiful work on display. There was also a big display of their 100 hearts project, members stitched a heart to commemorate the 100 years since the end of WW1, some of them were very personal, it was a wonderful display, this is just a very small example…

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The first workshop I did was by Sarah from the Golden Hinde, a goldwork specialist. She was a great tutor, enthusiastic and patient! We made a lovely flower brooch from purl thread and some little snips I can’t remember the name of but they made the lovely glittery centre. We could choose the colours of the silk background and the purl thread. I went for a purple background and teal purl with silver. I’ve not used purl thread before, it was interesting to use, last time I tried goldwork (many many years ago!) I didn’t really enjoy it as I found it hard work trying to pull the threads through, not relaxing at all. As this was all surface work it was lovely to stitch, so long as you didn’t drop your invisible thread! I just about managed to finish the embroidery in the hour and a half of the workshop and then made it into the brooch when I got home. I’m really pleased with it.

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My second workshop was Lucet cord making, an ancient way of making cord over a two pronged tool. It reminds me in a way of those knitting dollies we had as kids, it made a very strong cord but it did take me a long while to get the hang of it, especially the ‘quick way’. On his stand he had some very pretty cord but I didn’t feel it would work for the kind of things I use a decorative cord for. It was interesting to try though.

I bought a few bits of course (no surprise there then!) I was looking for some inspiration for a colour scheme for my next Sarah Fielke quilt, ‘Coming Home’. Quite late in the afternoon I fell for a small fat quarter bundle of teals and greys, it quickly developed from there across several stalls, I added a few from my stash at home and I now think I’ve got a reasonable palette. I’m thinking of two shades of ivory for the backgrounds. 

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All in all, a grand day out!

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Quilting, Serendipity | 17 Comments

My Journey in Quilting

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt, which means it’s time for another Hand Quilt-a-long. Luckily Kathy, who organises the HQAL  predicted that with all the festive preparations many of us would have little to share, she was certainly spot on with me!! However she had a brilliant idea to share a bit about how you got into quilting…as it happens I did a talk at my Embroiderers Guild last month which I was planning to share with you, called ‘My Journey in Quilting’. I managed to flannel it out for about 45 minutes, so here’s a precis! 

I was a bit surprised last year to be asked to do a talk on quilting, I still thought of myself as a bit of a newbie in quilting, there’s so many things I’m still learning or trying to master, then I started counting how many quilts I’ve made…OK maybe I’m a WIP instead (work in progress). Even I was surprised to see just how many I had to show them!!

My journey started really right back at the beginning with my childhood. One of my earliest recollections is being sat down with a square of binca and some embroidery threads, I was probably about three years old at the time, my mum was probably trying to keep me quiet!

I grew up in a crafty household, my mum was always making things, trying new crafts, when I was 5 and started school she started teacher training college, specialising in arts and crafts with primary school kids. I think she used to practise on us, we did potato printing, tie-dye in the kitchen, basket weaving (soaking lengths of cane in the bath) we made pots from the clay in the garden. My dad made us weaving frames from a square of wood and lots of nails.

My mum used to get the Needlewoman magasine and if we saw something we liked, she encouraged us to make it, her favourite phrase was ” There’s no such thing as I can’t ” this is how I came to do my cockerel embroidery at the age of 7 and the Lyre bird which I started the following year (but it took me 42 years to finish!!)

My mum also used to get totally absorbed in one craft, get all the gear, books, join a club, or if there wasn’t one she would start one, she would continue for several years before moving on to the next craft. I would join in…lace making, spinning, smocking, embroidery and quilting! She also taught her school kids, especially the craft club, they did lace making and quilting.

When I was about 20 I went to an exhibition with her, I seem to remember it was  entries to a Laura Ashley craft competition. In those days (1980’s) Laura Ashley was a bit like Cath Kidstone is now. I saw a quilt, “Ooh, I like that!” …”Well make one” was my mums response.

So I did! My first quilt was a very simple nine block pattern with a Laura Ashley rose in the centre. It was machine pieced and hand quilted, in those days people still turned their noses up at machine quilting, rather than appreciating it as an art in it’s own right. I rather rashly decided to make a double size quilt so it took me forever to quilt it. I still have it, though it’s thin and faded. I haven’t got a full photo of it but it’s second to bottom in the pile!

Roll on a few more years, I made baby quilts and Christmas wall hangings, still all hand quilted.

Move on to 2012, I went to a WI exhibition, up at Kipling Hall I think, there was a beautiful stained glass window quilt on display…”Ooh, I like that”…so I made one! It took me longer than it should have to work out a design – we have a stained glass window at home and that was my basis for the design. I’m particularly proud of this as I made it before I had any equipment, so measurements were done with a tape measure and cutting with a pair of scissors – those bias strips cover a multitude of sins!

I still didn’t really catch the bug until 2015 when I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate. One of the stalls, ‘Hannah’s Room’ had a gorgeous batik quilt hung on display, …”Ooh, I like that”… there’s definitely a theme here, maybe I shouldn’t go to shows!! I bought the batik layer cake, extra fat quarters and the book and went home and made it! It was probably another two years before I finally finished the quilt as it took me that long to find the right shade of green for the inner border! I called it Pimms and Lemonade.

Pimm’s & Lemonade Quilt

My daughter was impressed and asked me to make a black and white version for her newly decorated bedroom. It’s surprising difficult to find a variety of the ‘right shade’ of black and white! We added a bit of grey blue and she was happy with it.

Helen’s Black & White Quilt

Around this time I also discovered quilting on the internet, namely Pat Sloan, she does several free quilt-a-longs through the year, great instructions and a great on line community on facebook too. Everyone is encouraging and ready with little tips, it helps seeing all the different colour ways too. My first BOM was vacation time, I was really encouraged by how it came out and I learnt loads.

Pat Sloan’s Vacation Time

At the 2015 WI Centenary show I went to a talk by Stuart Hillard (of the first GBSB programme) I chatted to him afterwards for ages as he showed me how to spray baste quilt and then machine quilt on a domestic machine, he was really encouraging.

Soon after it was my son’s 21st, he asked me for a quilt, I was quite touched! I chose a chevron design in colours I thought he would like. It’s probably the most demanding quilt I’ve machine quilted as I decided to quilt down the chevrons with different patterns – manoevering the quilt like that was challenging to say the least!

James’s Quilt

2016 I started quilting big time, I did three BOM’s. I did another Pat Sloan one called my Secret Garden which my mum has now. I also fell for a Lynette Anderson quilt called Anderson’s Farm. This was an applique quilt and I realised pretty quickly that I couldn’t manage the needle turn needed for this quilt. I reverted to bondaweb and blanket-stitch in order to have a completed quilt. This BOM also made me realise how much I appreciate the on-line community of other BOM’s as with this one I really felt on my own.

Anderson’s Farm

The third BOM of 2016 was the Splendid Sampler, again organised by Pat Sloan (and Jane Davidson). This time a new block was released twice a week. There were 100 6″ blocks designed by 80 different quilters, so there was all sorts of techniques I’d never even heard of before, like foundation paper piecing! I learnt a huge amount. It was also doing the little embroidered blocks that made me realise I could do ‘proper’ embroidery (not just cross-stitch) and thereby encouraged me to join the Embroiderers Guild. I also learnt the technique Quilt As You Go to put it all together.

I then started to make quilts for friends, a jelly roll race one was for my walking buddy. We joked that the light squares were the food stops and the black squares were the comfort breaks! It was all in the purples and greens of the moors we love to walk on.

Helen wanted a bright and cheerful one to brighten up her Army room, she was into elephants at the time so this one is called Nelly’s Parade. I also made quilts for close family friends

After my experience with the Anderson Farm quilt I wanted to learn how to do applique properly, so I signed up for Sarah Fielke’s Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, again there was a great on-line community and support from Sarah. It’s been a huge quilt to make and I’m still quilting it, I love it! I’ve even signed up for Sarah’s next one!

My latest quilt to finish was A Quiet Charm, a hummingbird themed quilt for my niece. I found the individual bird patterns on Craftsy and then designed the quilt around them myself. She loves it!

Hummingbird quilt; www.thecraftycreek

WIP; I’m stitching the Splendid Sampler 2, though I probably won’t make all 100 blocks, I’m also stitching the Spring Wreath BOM by Raggedy Ruff Designs, learning machine embroidery along the way. DTRH will probably take some time to quilt! I’ve already decided that the Coming Home quilt, Sarah’s next one, is off to the long armer to be quilted when it’s done!

So that’s it, my life in quilting! It was quite amazing when I started collecting various quilts back from people I’d gifted them to as I had about 20 to show my guild, and I know there’s at least another half dozen around the world!

So maybe not a newbie any more!

Hand Quilt Along Links

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

KathyLoriMargaretKerryEmmaTracyDebConnieSusan,  NanetteSassy , EdithSharonKarrin, and Gretchen

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Christmas Preparations

I like to take the first week of December as annual leave, give me a bit of time to get organised for Christmas. I’ve had a lovely week making presents for friends and family. Although I’m not that organised yet, I still haven’t even bought my Christmas cards!!

I thought for a while about what to give my mum, what do you buy someone in their mid 80’s living in a care home! I decided in the end to make her a cardigan, I made her one a couple of years ago and she still wears it. I used my favourite Butterick 6258 pattern, the one I’ve made many times before! It went together beautifully, helped by the fact my overlocker came back from the repair man. It’s at last chance saloon but it’s working at the moment! The fabric is a heavy-ish jersey with a lovely drape, it’s charcoal grey with a bit of a subtle pattern on it. It looks so good I’m hoping there’s enough left to make myself one as well!

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I might make her a padded coat-hanger to go with it as well, I’ve made two for little presents, one from a Liberty lawn for someone I know isn’t that into frilly, lacy stuff. The second one is silk dupion with a narrow lace trim.

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Another present is a cushion for my son’s girlfriend, they have a pug and I happened to see a gorgeous fabric panel of a watercolour of a pug on Ebay, you could even choose what size you wanted it. I ordered a 16″ panel and it looks great. I backed it with some fawn furnishing fabric I had in my stash which happens to match perfectly, I tried a few trims but none of them seemed to add to the cushion, I decided the painting was enough, I think she’ll love it.

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My Embroiderers Guild is having a Christmas card swop at the meeting on Monday. The idea is that everyone hopefully makes a card, so each of us is given a handmade card in return. I decided to do a smaller version of the snowflake I made for the Christmas decoration swop. I started this time with six lines marked and then embroidered with a white DMC thread initially. Once I had the basic outline I added the silver embroidery and sequins, I rather like doing these as I can sort of make it up as I go along, so each one is different, like in nature. The biggest problem is knowing when to stop! I decided to make it into a mini decoration which could be hung on a card but used as a decoration later.I put a circle of felt under the embroidery and then glued the edges over a circle of card. I simply glued on a circle of felt to finish. I just need to finish it as a card now.

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I feel I’m winning with Christmas now, just got cakes to make and decorate, gingerbread houses to decorate, cards to write…

Posted in Christmas, Crafts, Dressmaking, embroidery, Sewing | Tagged | 11 Comments

Eighteen for 18

Another month has gone by! I’m doing pretty well on most of my challenges, I’m even starting to think about next years!!

  • 1 Etsy store opened; Still no where on this one, I’m lurching towards my own website at the moment, after various comments that it’s actually cheaper to run your own than using Etsy. However WordPress is also becoming more of an issue as we seem to be getting less and less blog for more and more money!
  • 2 Tutorials; Still nothing written but I have started taking photos for my first one and I’ve had a request for one on another topic.
  • 3 Sessions a week in the garden; I’ve not managed as much in the garden this month, November isn’t the best time to be outside, it’s dark by 4pm so there is no chance of an evening potter and it’s been pretty wet and miserable at times. I did get my four roses planted though and did a fair bit of tidying up.
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  • 4 Quilts; Completed!   I finished my hummingbird quilt, my niece loves it. So that makes four quilts, yes I’m counting DTRH as a finish as it was such a mammoth effort just to do the top! I’ve made a couple more Splendid Sampler blocks and I’ve got the next pack from the Spring Wreath quilt so I need to crack on with that one. I also made a quilted tree skirt for Minerva so hopefully I’ll get round to sharing it shortly.
  • 5 Craftsy Classes; I’m still at 4.5 classes, I’ll hopefully finish a dress-making one this week.
  • 6 New PatternsCompleted! I shared my Clementine skirt with you in November, a new denim skirt pattern by Merchant and Mills, so I have finally reached my goal! I’ve pulled another new pattern out today as well which I’m hoping to make before Christmas
  • 7 Kits stitched; Completed I’ve not stitched any more this month so I’m just staying right on target with seven stitched over the year. 
    8 Pages in my Stitch Sampler book Completed. I finally finished my Stitch Sampler, I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out and I’ve now had requests for instructions on how to make one!

9 Pounds Lost!!! Well I think this is a lost cause, I haven’t even weighed myself for months now!
10 Mini Embroideries; Completed. I stitched another for my Christmas Decoration Swap, a sparkly snowflake.

Embroidered Snowflake by The Crafty Creek

11 Letters to friends; No letter writing this month, so my tally remains at five. I’m hoping to pop a few in Christmas cards, but we will have to see how time goes!

12 Boxes or Drawers sorted in sewing room; completed. I’ve done a bit more organising in my sewing room with my drawer and box labels, it’s already proving useful.

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13 New Recipes; I haven’t tries any new recipes this month, maybe I’ll have a perusal of my cookbooks for Christmas! So my tally is now 10 new recipes.

14 Less Lengths in my stash! I’ve used three lengths from my stash this month with the coatigan and the cardigan. I used a length for my denim skirt too and I’ve plans for another two at least before Christmas, so I’d better get a wiggle on!

15 Posts a month; I’ve just done a quick tally and I counted 19 posts, so not as many as previous months but still a good tally!

16 cross-stitch smalls; Completed. I made two of Faby Reilly’s cross-stitch smalls last month, so my tally is now 20.

17 items of clothing made.  I’ve done better here this month. My Clementine skirt could finally be shared with you, I’ve also made a coat and a cardigan, so three makes bunces my total up to a much more respectable 11!

18 Walks; Complete. I haven’t done any more walking this month but I’m happy to have reached my total.

My next post will be the final one, how many of my goals will I have achieved? 

Posted in Christmas, Crafts, Dressmaking, Eighteen for 18, Quilting | Tagged | 14 Comments

Christmas at Castle Howard

We had a fabulous day yesterday at Castle Howard for our WI Christmas day out. It’s become a bit of a tradition that we visit one of the stately homes decorated for Christmas. This is the second time we’ve been to Castle Howard as it’s always beautiful. It was a lovely crisp, frosty and sunny morning so the coach trip over was a pleasure too…


Castle Howard is in North Yorkshire, about an hour and a half away by coach.


We approached Castle Howard through the edges of Malton, passing the lakes, looking very wintery with the hard frost on the foliage…


…and our first glimpse of the estate buildings.


We arrived at around 10.30 so most of us headed straight for the coffee shop for a little refreshment before walking over to the house itself.


The facade of the house looked stunning in the clear winter sunshine. Castle Howard was built in the 1700’s, it took 100 years!! Eight generations of the Howard family have lived there. If any of you watched Brideshead Revisited all those years ago, it was filmed at Castle Howard.

Castle Howard was decorated with the theme of the Twelve Days of Christmas and it was stunning as usual, there was a room for each day as well as a few extra on old Christmas traditions. Many of the rooms were quite dark so photography wasn’t easy!

All the stairs and corridors are decorated with sumptuous swags, candle wreaths, every fireplace has a huge arrangement overflowing the mantel…


 …and there were breath-taking arrangements in the windows….


The partridge in a pear tree was a huge artificial tree covered in blossom lights and hung with dozens of ornate beaded pears. It looked quite magical.


The two turtle doves were in one of the Duchesses bedrooms, what caught my eye though was the Christmas lady dressed in greenery…and doves on her shoulder and her bustle!


Five gold rings looked amazing hung from the dome in centre of the long gallery.


In the halls either side of the gold rings were the ladies dancing and the leaping lords. These were quite cleverly made from what looked like cellophane and cardboard. They were hung from the ceilings or around the room, I loved the colourful shadows thrown onto the ceiling from the clever use of lighting.


Seven swans were a-swimming round a sumptuous dining table, six were easy to spot, the final one is on the top of the central arrangement. The mirrored table sent lovely patterns onto the ceiling.


The eight drummers drumming were in the music room of course. Castle Howard had borrowed some of the drums from the old Green Howards Regiment. You can just see one buy the stool….and just look at that fireplace!!


In the central hall there was of course the HUGE traditional Christmas tree,  dripping with hundreds of ornaments. The photo probably only shows the top third of the tree, but it shows the ceiling and the curtain of lights beautifully too.

One of my favourite rooms was actually the most difficult to photograph, lots of bare trees covered with silver and gold ornaments and twinkling lights, it was like walking through an enchanted forest. It was at Castle Howard a few years ago that I first got inspired to have a bare Christmas tree decorated with silver and gold, I use a twisted hazel from the garden, it seems to survive coming into the house for three weeks or so each winter. Of course mine is only about two feet tall!


Of course we all had a good mooch around the Christmas shop, bought a few Christmas presents or just a little memento of the visit! I bought a bauble decorated with lace!


Outside the mist had come down but the gold cupula on the dome was still shining.


We even had time for a wander around the walled rose garden, no roses obviously but it was still nice to wander around.

Another fabulous WI day out 🙂

Posted in Christmas, Women's Institute | Tagged , , | 16 Comments