I’m in a finishing sort of mood at the moment. I happened to look at the fabric folder where I keep quilt blocks waiting to be made up and embroideries waiting to be made into something and it’s bulging at the edges!!

I’ve taken two embroideries to be framed. I haven’t had anything framed recently, partly because I am seriously running out of wall space, but I’m so pleased with these that I felt they deserved to be framed.

The embroidery of my two children walking along the beach was a stitchclub challenge, it’s very simple but it works. It was made by tracing a photo onto tissue paper and then embroidering straight through. It’s being framed with a simple off white mount and a sort of denim blue frame.

The second piece is the Leafy Tree embroidery by Mary Corbett of Needle’n’thread. I love the colours and all the different stitches in this piece.

My stitchwheel was also waiting to be finished. I have an idea to have a display of hoop art above my cutting area. Sometime ago I ordered some pretty painted embroidery hoops from Etsy in several different sizes. Although I hadn’t yet used them I went back to the same Etsy Shop (Emma Astle Embroidery) and asked her to paint one in a dark purple. It goes perfectly with the greens and purples of my stitchwheel.

I didn’t fancy using glue to secure this piece of work in the hoop so I trimmed it and then laced the back. It wasn’t perfectly flat, but it was enough for me to stitch the felt on later.

On the back I wanted to have the names of all the stitches, I decided to write them on a cotton interfaced circle, which I could then iron onto felt. Of course despite writing it out in rough first I still missed one out, so there’s asterisks where that one is meant to be!! I used a silver gel pen and just wrote it as legibly as I could.

My original idea was to stitch the felt circle on with a neat buttonhole stitch but that proved too tricky so I just overstitched it on. I’m pleased with it, it looks neat from the front and I can identify the stitches on the back.

The last embroidery to be ‘finished’ is a little Rowandean kit I stitched a few months ago. I like the Rowandean designs, they’re simple to sew but very effective. I usually make a bee-line for their stand at the big Knitting and Stitching Show as they have a stitching table where for £5 you can stitch one of their designs, it’s a little oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a show.

I decided to use one of the smaller painted hoops, this one is a soft green with purple flowers on. I did glue this one and then glued a circle of card on the back to neaten it all off…

All I need now is to find the picture hooks and a hammer and start hanging them.

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

A Life Unbalanced

It’s National Balance Week this week, a week started by VeDA (Vestibular Disorders Association) to raise awareness of the issues those of us who have balance problems contend with. It covers a range of disorders from Meniere’s disease, vertigo and people like me who have bilateral vestibular failure.

It’s often a difficult concept to understand when someone says they have no balance. With me it means my ears do nothing towards my balance, so I only have my leg muscles and vision to help me stay upright. My brain also doesn’t compensate for head movements, so as I walk my field of vision wobbles, even sat still things are rarely still. This also means it’s difficult to recognise people or read signs when I’m walking as I can’t focus on a moving object. A couple of years ago I made a short video of life through my eyes, it’s on Youtube if you want to watch, only a couple of minutes long.

Having been like this for about 15 years, I’ve learnt to cope and I know my limitations, I’m best in a well lit, level environment, if I lose my visual cues from being in the dark (or bright sunlight even) or if the ground is uneven or soft, I’m a lot more likely to fall – I’m pretty good at falling, touch wood so far I’ve not hurt myself!

I find it easier if I have a third point of contact when I’m walking round anywhere that’s uneven, going down steps I always use the hand rail, round the garden I have strategically placed metal poles which I call my wobble sticks, just something to hold onto when I’m in the middle of a flower bed…

If I’m walking on the fells I always use two walking poles and my walking friend is well tuned in to what will cause me issues, we have quite a good routine now, if it’s a tricky accent she goes behind just to make sure I don’t topple backwards, if it’s a tricky descent she goes in front, not to stop my fall but because I find it easier with just a short distance to concentrate on. Sometimes just having a steep drop next to the path is enough to give me collywobbles, even if the path it’self is OK, it’s that thought of what if I wobble now!

The last couple of years has been a steep learning curve as I discovered the effects on the rest of my body of my coping mechanisms. If you’re more likely to fall over if you move your head, you avoid moving your head, if your vision bounces as you walk, you try and walk more smoothly, which is from the hips, not the abdominal muscles. Unfortunately this resulted in my neck losing it’s movement range, my whole spine stiffening up and my pelvis becoming tilted as my leg muscles tightened in all the wrong places…which then affected my knees! Lots of physio and pilates from Sue at Flexible Healing here in Otley and Wesley at the Valley Clinic in Ilkley and I’m moving much better, with just the side effect of falling down more! My physio looked somewhat shocked when I said I must be moving better as I’m falling over more 🙂

Lack of balance is another one of those invisible disabilities, there’s nothing to alert others that you have issues. So if you see me walking in a wobbly line at 11o’clock in the morning, I’m unlikely to be tipsy, so I really don’t appreciate someone shouting at me ‘can’t you walk in a straight line’ as has happened a couple of times recently. One day someone is going to catch me on a bad day and I might just lose it!

There’s much worse things to have go wrong than balance, it’s manageable…and it doesn’t stop me sewing! This week is just about raising awareness about the problems the go with having a balance problem.

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All the Trimmings QAL

I’ve started another mystery quilt-a-long…I know, I’ve enough QAL’s and SAL’s to sink a ship! There’s method in my madness though!

A couple of years ago I bought a Christmas fabric layer cake on one of the facebook destash pages. I liked it as it’s not the usual red and green, it’s in a soft blue, darker red and beige. It’s a Moda layer cake by Three Sisters called Holly Woods. For the non-quilters amongst you, a layer cake is a collection of about 42 different coordinated fabrics with just a 10″ square of each. The fabric requirements for this Christmas QAL was just one layer cake and some background fabric.

I went to the Harrogate Quilt Show on Saturday, it’s the first one I’ve been to since all the lock-downs started, it was lovely to be able to just wander round and see lots of fabric and lots of stunning quilts. I was pretty restrained on the fabric front with just two lengths of plain cotton for backgrounds…though we won’t mention the new to me sewing machine I wasn’t planning to buy!!!

Anyway, back to the QAL, it’s on the Fat Quarter Shop website, it’s called All the Trimmings. They use black for the background, making their traditional red and green fabric really pop. I bought some ivory in case my other plan didn’t work, but I also bought a sort of French navy and it works perfectly with the layer cake.

The pattern is a row by row quilt, the instructions for each row are released on a Tuesday. So yesterday I printed it off and made four holly leaf and berries blocks. They went together pretty easily and I’m pleased how the colours are working out so far. I have a best china set which these days just comes out on what I call high days and holy days, it’s a beautiful Royal Doulton design called Sherbrooke, it’s the same soft blue, so I’m thinking this will make a nice tablecloth for Christmas.

The next row pattern was been released on Tuesday, so I’ve four Christmas stockings to make. If you fancy stitching it too please follow the link above. If cross-stitch is more your thing there’s also a cross-stitch sampler version running at the same time…no I’m not doing that one as well, there are limits!

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

September Smalls of the Month

Each month I change the little display of cross-stitch smalls on the sideboard. Usually I choose things relative to that month, but in August I decided to do a bee theme – I have lots of smalls with bees on…

This month I decided to continue with a theme, so for September the theme is birds. Fortunately the September small I have from The Joyful World SAL has two barn owls on, so it fitted nicely. The autumn cross-stitch also has a blackbird on, though the Faby Reilly autumn leaf one doesn’t but the colours fitted beautifully…

I’ve stitched quite a few birds this year, they’re nearly all from Fido Stitch Studio on Etsy. I think they’re gorgeous designs and the kits are very reasonably priced, at around £9. There’s still a few I fancy making, but so far I’ve stitched the robin, kingfisher, wren, nuthatch and the kookaburra.

I’ve turned the two cross-stitched boxes round to their autumn side and I think all the colours work well together, there’s a definite autumn feel to the smalls this month. I think I’ll continue with a theme next month, maybe animals or flowers…

Posted in cross-stitch, embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Vogue 2309

I bought this Vogue pattern earlier this year, it includes three different tops. OK one I wouldn’t wear but the other two look my kind of top, there’s a waistcoat style one and a sleeveless shirt sort of top.

I’ve been sorting out my stash a bit and I really need to get cracking and sew some clothes. Well if I’m honest I had a bit of a scare recently, we’ve just been trying to eradicate carpet moths from our bedroom, they’re nasty little critters who like eating wool and silk. All seemed to going well until I saw a moth or two in my sewing room! As you can imagine with my stash of beautiful wools this was panic time! I googled it and discovered that two weeks in the deep freeze is enough to kill them…it took some explaining to my OH why the freezer was suddenly full of fabric! I’ve bought several packs of sealable clothes bags from Lakeland and I’m going to keep my fabric in those, protect them from moths and dust.

Having removed all the wool lengths there’s still an awful lot of fabric in my cupboard so I decided to start choosing a length and a pattern and getting on with it.

I’ve had this fabric in my stash for several years, it’s one of those fabrics where you’re not sure why you like it or what on earth you can make from it, but you buy a metre anyway. It’s almost gone to fabric swops a few times but it’s always been saved at the last minute. It’s a colourful batik style cotton with lots of colourful chainstitched swirly lines on it on top of colourful splatters…it’s very colourful, there’s pinks, purples, greens, blues…!

I decided to make it up in the waistcoat pattern, on the grounds that if it was a complete disaster it wouldn’t be the end of the world as I still couldn’t decided whether the fabric was gorgeous or gaudy!! The embroidery makes it fairly bulky too, so a waistcoat would be perfect.

I’ve had a few fitting problems with recent makes being too tight so I re-measured myself (again!) and compared it to the pattern, both to the sizes on the envelope and the actual garment measurements, I cut it out to a 14 bust, grading up to a 16 at the waist and hips.

Being a Vogue pattern there were lots of pieces, for such a relatively simple top there were ten pieces! It’s fully lined with a fly button closing, I decided to use some cotton jam for the lining. This is a fabric I’ve only recently discovered from two on-line fabric sellers. Cotton jam is a mix of cotton and silk, I thought it would be very fine when I ordered some to try, thinking I might make some underwear with it, in fact its like a medium to light weight cotton, feels lovely but too heavy for undies, however it is perfect for lining summer tops and dresses. It would make lovely shirts and tops on it’s own too, but I decided the pale pink I had would work as a lining for my waistcoat top, although it doesn’t look it in the photos, the pink matches the pale pink in the batik!

The way the top was made it was difficult to really check the fit until it was more or less done…and it was huge! Fortunately Helen was around to pin alterations, altogether I took about half an inch on the side seams. It was also cut lower than I like under the arm, I took the should seams in by a similar amount. Luckily it’s made with the lining hand-stitched to a facing along the hem, so it was easy to undo this and reach the insides again.

It’s still not a brilliant fit but I think it’s wearable! I love the fabric now, I think this was an ideal pattern for it, I just need to sort the fit out on my makes. I think when Helen is up this weekend I’ll get her to take my measurements and we can work out where I’m going wrong.

Posted in Dressmaking | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

The Seaside Quilt HQAL

I’ve made pretty good progress on my Seaside quilt over the last three weeks, this is the quilt from the book by Kathryn Whittingham, the same designer as my gorgeous Cottage Garden quilt.

I organised myself slightly differently this time and it’s worked really well. Basically, rather than preparing a picture with all the bondaweb applique and then embroidering it and then moving on to the next, this time I prepared several blocks and then put all the threads in my workbox downstairs so I could pick it up for short spells of embroidery here and there, like 15 minutes when I have my morning coffee.. I could then spend an afternoon making all the blocks up and then last night I stitched the blocks together.

Three weeks ago I was embroidering the cottages by the sea…

I love this block, it reminds me so much of holidays in Whitby. I finished the embroidery and added the borders. The only bit I have doubts over with this block is the stripy roof, I’ll wait until the quilt is a bit bigger to see if it disappears a bit, but if it still stands out I might colour it with some inktense pencils.

I fussy cut the centralblocks in to flying seagull blocks..,.well actually they’re flying geese but as Kathryn says, seagulls are a bit more apt!

The central block of the quilt is a red and white lighthouse. The coast of Yorkshire is pretty treacherous for boats with lots of cliffs and rocky bits, so there’s quite a few lighthouses along the coastline.

There’s quite a few seals, minky whales, porpoises and dolphins spotted along the coast too so they’ve been included both in the bigger pictures and little blocks too. This block is called a friendship star, there’s another one at the other side with a dolphin on…

So, last night I arranged the colours of the filler squares and started to stitch the blocks together. I’ve quite a few different seaside patterns, in fact I’ve probably got too many as it does need a few calmer prints to balance it out. This is the middle row so far…

…and this is the quilt so far…

I’m over half way now, with just one square block and another beach hut to embroider to finish this row. It does look bright and cheerful, I love it!

If you fancy stitching this quilt (or the cottage garden one) please follow the link to Patchwork Katy. Please note I was kindly gifted this book by the author (with no strings attached) but my views and opinions are my own.

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.

KathyMargaretDebNanetteSharonKarrin, and Daisy

I’ll also be inking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday.

Posted in embroidery, Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Wednesday Wanderings – Birks Fell

Yesterday we ticked off another of the Dales 30 challenge, our tenth one, so we’re feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.

This challenge to walk up all thirty mountains in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has certainly been a challenge! It’s also been good for us, walking in areas we’ve never explored before and up mountains we would never usually have ventured. With hindsight whilst we have completed quite a few long distance walks where our average length of walk is 10 to 12 miles, most of it is relatively low level, along the valley bottom or on the moorland above, higher but usually easy walking. By contrast all these walks are for mountains over 2000 feet…that’s a lot of up for us!

Birks fell is at the top of Wharfedale near Kettlewell, we’ve already walked up Yockenthwaite Moor, Buckden Pike and Great Whernside, so this is the last of the Wharfedale mountains in the challenge.

Although Birks Fell can be walked from Kettlewell it does make for a much longer walk than we’re up to at the moment. We decided to walk from Littondale instead, the valley on the other side of Birks Fell. We parked at the pretty village of Arncliffe. It was a beautiful sunny morning, the weather forecast said sunshine for the first hour or so, then overcast until late afternoon. Our plan was to walk the two miles along Littondale to Litton village, ascend Birks Fell from there, walk back along the ridge and descend into Arncliffe.

The walk along Littondale was gentle, about 2 miles long so it got our legs moving before the climbing started (or that was the plan!) The river Skirfare was pretty much bone dry…

We ate our sausage roll and had a quick drink of water outside the pub at Litton and then started the climb.

It shouldn’t have been a difficult ascent, it was two miles uphill, pretty relentless but a good path. However the sun continued to shine and it was very hot, no breeze in the air at all. When we got about a third of the way up I needed a break, we sat on a convenient stone and had a welcome coffee from our trusty thermos flasks. I also ate a carrot cake muffin, mainly because I thought a bit of sugar might help and I also wasn’t sure the butter icing would survive much longer in a hot rucksack pocket.

We set off again and I soon realised the muffin was a big mistake as I was feeling increasingly nauseated and unwell. We took it very slowly and kept drinking water so I didn’t compound the problem by getting dehydrated. There are times when I was very close to saying I can’t do this. I must have looked pretty peaky as when I admitted later that the thought had briefly crossed my mind that at least the air ambulance can land where we were walking, my friend admitted she had the same thought!

We eventually reached the ridge after about two miles of up. It’s a long flat ridge without clear paths and lots of tussocky grass to make the going more tricky. The true summit was about 2km away along the ridge, although it was actually only a couple of metres higher than where we were. We sat down on a convenient rock and ate our lunch. I perked up a lot though I could only face an apple and some mandarin orange. There was a slight breeze up there which did help.

The summit was somewhere in the distance! It didn’t look like there would be a decent view from the ridge as it was so wide. We decided to call it a day and to return the same way, we knew it would be a reasonable descent and a good path back to Arncliffe.

We went down an awful lot quicker than we went up! We stopped at the lovely pub in Litton for a pint of lemonade with lots of ice cubes! The pub is the lovely white traditional building in the middle of the photo below.

We still had to walk along by the Skirfar river to Arncliffe but we made good time then as it was easy flat walking. Altogether we walked nearly eight miles, not a huge distance but a lot of up in hot weather.

We both felt it really shouldn’t have been so hard and could only think it was the heat and lack of a breeze. The sunshine just never stopped. Even at 4pm when we reached the car it was still 30 degrees.

Despite feeling ill, we still had a good day out,

So Birks Fell is ticked off the challenge, probably (and unfairly!) never to be walked again. 🙂

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Baby Shower Quilt

This is a proud mum post!! I’ve made my daughter Helen a couple of quilts over the years, but she’s never shown any interest in trying quilting herself, she didn’t start dress-making until after she left home but she makes all sorts now and even has a couple of etsy shops selling her makes.

Anyway, over the summer she came to visit (she lives 200 mies away in Surrey) and said she wanted to make a quilt for a friends baby shower, but not a cot-size quilt, more of a single bed size…oh and it’s in about two weeks time!

She was only up for a weekend, so we managed to choose a fairly simple pattern and buy some fabric. I scribbled some basic instructions instructions like cut 5″ squares, 10.5″ squares and 1.5″ strips and lent her some basic equipment and a book which included instructions on binding a quilt…and off she went.

We had a couple of telephone calls to discuss quilting or backing and I had to quickly post down my walking foot etc, but just in time she finished the quilt. She’s just sent me photos and it looks fabulous.

She even managed a pieced backing and a scrappy binding, mainly to save buying more fabric! Her friend loves it and she’s very touched that Helen made it for her.

Helen is even saying she is thinking of making herself a new quilt…I’ll get her hooked yet 🙂 If anyone is into instagram, she shares her makes at

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

August was a bit of a damp squib here in Yorkshire, I’m a fair weather gardener so I didn’t get out much! The weather has finally picked up a bit and there is now LOTS to do in the garden!!

I’ve started the autumn tidy up, cutting back perennials that are over, dead heading roses and pruning any diseased bits…and lots of weeding! The annual weeds are suddenly setting seed so I’m madly trying to get them all out, some of them are very clever – bitter cress pings it’s seeds away as you try and pick it.

I’ve also started a long overdue overhaul of the area beneath the bird-feeders, it’s been getting more and more out of control and the teasing Georgia rose hasn’t done much at all for the last few years, to be fair it must be at least 15 years old, it was one of the first ones I bought, it’s also in the worst soil of the garden…and it succumbs to blackspot every year too….I’m trying to defend myself for the fact that I’ve dug it up together with the honeysuckle which equally hasn’t performed for years!

I’ve cleared out much of the geranium too which had spread all over, I’ve still got the big magenta Ann Folkard geranium, though I’m planning to move it to a better place, Jack Frost brunnera is also safe, together with a clematis which has also been in for many years. I still need to divide the Dutch irises and probably move but save the astrantia…

My plan is to build a new arch, similar to the arbour you can just see at the top of the photo, I’m removing a lot of the soil as I want to plant another rose, if you try and replant a rose in the same spot you risk rose sickness in the new one. I’ll put either some planks or log roll round the edges to raise it a bit, so I can then put lots of compost and some topsoil, hopefully improving the soil enough so a new rose will thrive. I just need the purple clematis on the other side of the arch to finish flowering before I remove the rotten arch…

When I’m sitting in the amber & amethyst garden (AKA the beer garden!) having a cup of tea or a glass of wine with my OH, we usually sit in the same places out of habit. I was up there gardening and sat for a rest on his chair. I realised he had a completely different vista and could see between the roses and the osmanthus to the rest of the roses…and it looked nice and colourful.

Another corner by the obelisk up there is also looking very colourful.

The bright yellow one is a rudbekia I think, though it’s a lot taller than ones I’ve had before, it adds a nice splash of colour. The pinky purple echinacia is one I planted this year, I think it works well next to the dark red sedum.

I’ve started tidying the autumn bed, which is just behind the amber & amethyst agraden, considering it was only planted last year, it’s looking pretty full. The rose Lark Ascending has been beautiful, it’s flowers are a gorgeous apricot colour and look so delicate.

I’ve another pairing of sedum and echinacea by the lawn and completely by chance. I think I bought the echinacea on the market and then wondered where I was going to put it!

The pond area is looking like a jungle at the moment, it’s another area that needs a lot of work over the next few months – as well as the raised bed down by the conservatory…I think I’m going to be busy!

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Jacquie SAL

It’s time for an update on my Jacquie needlecase. This is a stitch-a-long by Faby Reilly, a new section is released every two weeks, we’ve just completed section five.

Three weeks ago I’d just finished a gorgeous dragonfly with lots of sparkly thread, sequins and beads, it looks amazing…

The section I’m working on now looks like it’s going to be the front of the needle case, it has another beautiful dragonfly sitting on a stem. I do struggle doing chain-stitch on evenweave fabric, I have no problem getting nice neat stitches on normal embroidery fabric, but somehow trying to count the threads and keep the loops even is hard work! Last time I tried was on one of the earlier pieces and I thought using two threads had made it more bulky and uneven…

… so this time I just used one thread…and I’m still not happy with the effect! But isn’t the dragonfly gorgeous!

The sequins and beads have already been added as you can see so I’m eager to see what the next section of stitching will be. In the information about the stitch-a-long Faby mentioned that there would be two levels of stitching, sort of intermediate and advanced, so far it’s all been the same, I think this area left blank at the moment on the bottom right will have a choice of stitching. I’ll find out on Wednesday if I’m right!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, from Sewing by the Sea, we post our progress on a piece of embroidery every three weeks, just often enough to keep me motivated! Please follow the links to see everyone else’s progress…

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Megan, Deborah, Renee, Carmela, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, AJ, Cathie, Linda, Helen

Posted in cross-stitch, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 12 Comments