Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

It’s a while since I meandered round the garden on a Monday, mainly because the weather hasn’t been brilliant for photos – or gardening, if you’re a fair weather gardener like me. I took these photos at the weekend just before the light started to fall.

Autumn garden

There’s still a fair bit of colour in the garden, and of course the autumn shades are starting to appear. There’s a few flowers around and the roses are trying to put their last few blooms out. There’s an awful lot of gardening to do at the moment but I’ve been putting it off a bit as I actually quite like seeing the garden in the gradual decay of autumn and winter.

Nerines

I’ve a lovely clump of nerines in flower at the moment, they came from my mum’s nextdoor neighbour last year. I wasn’t sure they were going to flower as there was no sign of life all summer, then in a matter of a couple of weeks a few leaves appeared and the flower buds. It’s surprising how such a delicate looking flower survives the autumn weather.

Autumn garden

I’m really pleased with my autumn bed. This is where the chickens used to be. Most of it was only planted this spring, there’s lots of colour and interest with both flowers and foliage.

It makes a nice continuation from the Amber & Amethyst garden below, though my day lilly in the foreground is clearly ready for a tidy up!!

Autumn garden

The pots are still looking reasonable, the creamy hydrangea which has been beautiful since I bought it in June is just starting to go over, the fuchsia and the lamium pot next to it need re-positioning – they were pulled out when the little boy nextdoor was trying to retrieve a football.

Autumn garden

In the spring I also moved an arch so the clematis montana I’d planted last year would have something to climb over. Whenever I walk the dogs I tuck another piece along thge arch, it’s covering it nicely. I’m hoping in time it will also creep either side of the fence.

Autumn garden

I’m hoping to do a bit of tidying up this week, or at least make a start, most of the foliage can go in the compost bin. We’re thinking of buying a hot composter for each other for a joint Christmas present (I know, we buy each other such sexy presents, last year he got a pair of wellies amongst other things – well he needed a new pair 🙂 ) If anyone has any experience of hot composters I’d be interested to hear.

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Down the Rabbit Hole HQAL

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, I’ve made some progress, it’s a king size quilt and I’m on the outer border – so even quilting one side takes time! Three weeks ago I was feeling positive as I’d just reached another corner!…

My progress this time hasn’t been quite so ordered. I needed to draw some more quilting lines on the next side before I started my cross-hatching. This required three things;

  • Daylight – the only table big enough is in the conservatory, well lit during the day, not at night, and it’s dark by 6.30pm now.
  • Time – always of the essence!
  • Finding my ceramic pencils! They seem to love playing hide and seek!!

It took until a couple of days ago to get all three at the same time! However, that didn’t stop me quilting!

I quilted round both running rabbits and the central flower, I also quilted more than a side of the very outer diamond border.

I’m now going back and filling in the the cross-hatching, I’m almost half way across this side, so I’m getting there.

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,  EdithSharonKarrinGretchen and Kathi

Posted in Down The Rabbit Hole, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Clothes for George

George has finally got a set of clothes…

Luna Lapin - Archie

George is my first attempt at making a Luna Lapin rabbit, the patterns are all in a lovely book by Sarah Peel called Making Luna Lapin. He’s all hand-stitched apart from the ears. As this is a Christening present for my great nephew I’m making an ‘Archie’, Luna’s little brother. The rabbit pattern is exactly the same for both, but there is a complete set of clothes for Archie.

The clothes are wonderful, they are traditionally made clothes, just tiny! They’re stitched on the machine with a 1/4″ seam. The shirt has a lined yoke with a box pleat on the back, a neat little collar and a set of working buttonholes – I didn’t know my machine could make such tiny buttonholes! I had some 6mm mother of pearl buttons, vintage style, they worked perfectly.

Luna Lapin - Archie

The waistcoat is lined with a cute rabbit fabric I had left over from making a baby quilt (for the same baby!) I turned the buttons over for this one to make brownish buttons.

Luna Lapin - Archie

The trousers have a hole in the back seam for his tail, I made the tail last night, I had to buy a whole ball of wool just to make one pompom, I made it how I used to make them as a child, with two circles cut out of a cereal packet with a hole in the middle. It came out about 2″ round, so I then gave it a major haircut, shaping it to more of a scut shape. I’m still not 100% sure about his tail, but it’s stitched on and it’s staying.

Luna Lapin - Archie

I think he looks rather dapper!

Luna Lapin - Archie

By the way, before any one gets worried, I will be telling the parents that he can’t play with George until he’s older due to all the buttons!

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Conquering Fear!

I’ve got a bit behind in writing posts, so you’ve got two for one here, a bargain 🙂

Over the summer I bought a new sewing machine, not a standard one, but an overlocker / coverstitch machine. My overlocker was well past it, but what sold it for me was the coverstitch bit. For those of you not familiar with cover-stitch, it’s the machine that does hems on bought clothes, especially things like t shirts. Ive wanted one for a while but they are well out of my price range. This one was second hand and a third of the price of a new one.

Looking at it, I don’t actually think it’s ever been used. The lady selling it admitted it was just too complicated for her, I can understand that – it uses up to five threads at once and has about 14 different stitches! It didn’t have a spot of ‘thread dust’ on it, which is why I don’t think it was actually used to make anything.

Having brought it home it sat in it’s box for more weeks than I care to admit! I now understand when people admit they daren’t get a new machine out of the box! I think that knowing it had beaten one owner, I was a little concerned it might beat me too!

I finally plucked up the courage to make something. I decided to make a long length cardigan for the summer – I know, it’s October, but I’m trying to use up fabrics from my stash in order of bulk!! This took up a lot of room! It’s probably not the best one to choose for a first attempt, it’s a loose weave, bobbly knit with mini sequins on it!

It took a while to get it all threaded and set up, but I got there and sewed the basic cardigan. I’ve used this pattern lots of times so I knew it was pretty simple. It went together nicely, but I then wanted to coverstitch the hems…

Well about two hours later I finally managed to convert it to the coverstitch – you have to change plates, re-thread it, take the needle out of action….I was ready for throwing it out of the window at one point – in fact I had to leave it, walk away and have a large glass of wine! I finally got there and cover-stitched the hem.

McCalls pattern

It was finished! Now you have to use your imagination a bit with this one, as it’s designed to go over long summer dresses and skirts, only it’s October, cold and wet, and I wasn’t going to change for a photo shoot!

McCalls pattern

My second attempt on my new machine was a smock style Merchant and Mills pattern, it’s actually one I found in my mums house when we were sorting her stuff out. It’s not one I would have bought from the picture on the front, but actually I really like it.

The fabric was from Fabworks, it’s one of those where I couldn’t quite decide if it was gorgeous or awful!! I’m not sure what kind of fabric it is but it’s very soft to touch, cuddly! The smock went together very easily, I stitched the seams with my stretch stitch on the sewing machine and then overlocked them to neaten. I still haven’t got the tension quite right to be happy with the strength of the overlocked seam – or maybe I’m expecting too much! It’s got pockets at the front and raglan sleeves – I haven’t made those for years and I’d forgotton how easy they are.

Merchant & Mills smock

I’ve worn it several times and I love it, it’s a very comfortable, cuddly wear! It’s a bit like wearing your dressing gown all day! The pockets are very useful too – especially as I made them a bit bigger than the pattern says.

Merchant & Mills smock

I’ve still a long way to go to really know my new machine, but the second time I changed over to coverstitch it only took me 5 minutes, so it’s getting better! I’m aiming to set aside a day or two and just work my way through the instruction book, making lots of samples.

Posted in Dressmaking, Sewing | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

The Finery of Nature SAL

The Finery of Nature

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my progress with this Dimensions kit, the Finery of Nature, I’d finally finished the second quarter with the birds nest on and just started the humming bird. You all made me very jealous with tales of humming birds in your gardens! I never realised they made a buzzing noise with their wings!

This is where I’d got to last time…

The Finery of Nature

I’ve made a bit of progress this time, though I’ve been concentrating more on other projects as I feel in the mood for a finish or two! The hummingbird is looking beautiful and he’s not even finished yet!

The Finery of Nature

There doesn’t seem to be as many flowers round this one, so hopefully it won’t take too long to finish this quarter.

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Sewing Beside the Sea, we post every three weeks on our chosen project, it’s a great way to stay motivated! If you would like to join us please contact Avis on the link below, otherwise please follow the links to see what every one else has been stitching.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHelenLindaHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahClareMary MargaretReneeJennyCarmelaJocelynSharonDaisyAnne

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link to see even more hand-stitching.

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Stitchbook

I first read about the Stitchbook Collective over the summer. It’s a 12 month course organised by Helen of Untangled Threads, each month you receive a box of goodies and instructions on different types of what I would call free-style embroidery. I was very tempted but I resisted initially (I’m saving up for a new sewing machine!) but then I saw the results of the first box on posts by Nana Cathy and Wild Daffodil – I ordered my box straight away!

What appeals with this course, apart from making a gorgeous textile book along the way, is all the different techniques and products she will be teaching us about, all those things I’ve seen at the shows and not had a clue what to do with! Well I’ll be learning over the next few months – I think it’ll be somewhat out of my comfort zone too!

The first box is called Texture, we got some calico to use as a base mainly, some other pieces of textural fabric such as hessian and gauze, threads and yarns, fluffy ones, smooth ones, curly ones, all sorts of goodies!

Helen provides written instructions but there’s also a brilliant video, I ended up watching it and pausing it for the next section, watch and stitch, watch and stitch!.

First we tore a piece of calico into nine pieces and each one became a mini sample, using different stitches, layering, creating holes, nine different ways of creating texture. I’m having to learn to like torn fabric edges!

Apologies for the dark photos, we’re into winter lighting here!

Stitchbook Collective

I found that the further on I got, the more I felt brave enough to do my own thing and make it mine – the first few were pretty much as Helen stitched them, by the time I reached the half cotton ball I was making it mine – or rather making a dandelion head! Helen provided some ecru DMC thread, I started using a creamy variegated thread and it works really well, adding the softest touch of pink or grey. I added sequins too, these are the satin ones I bought for my Zoe box.

Stitchbook Collective

We arranged them on an A5 piece of calico and stitched them on, I tried to use stitches that connected with the sample, either french knots, running stitch etc. I filled a little gap in with three mother of pearl buttons.

Stitchbook Collective

Our second sample involved making a ‘textile piece’ from lots of loose threads and some water soluble stabiliser. I made one from the creamy yarns and a second one from coloured threads she gave us with a few extra added. The stabiliser basically stuck everything together without being hard and gunky. The idea then was to just go with the flow and create something!

Stitchbook Collective

My cream one worked out best, I like the movement in it, it reminded me of the patterns on the beach. I made a background of overlapping leftover fabric, just using lines of running stitch to secure it, adding a bit of interest as I went a long. I secured the thready piece over the top with a few random stitches, I then tried a piece of sand coloured tulle from the box over the top and I liked the effect, so I then just embroidered over the top.

Stitchbook Collective

I didn’t really start with any great plan, apart from echoing the wavy lines, so I used blanket stitch along one, couched some thread along another. I tried to incorporate some of the sample techniques, so I did a curved row of tiny scraps, a woven rose stitch, a bit of a couched spiral, I squeezed the other half of the cotton ball under the net and stitched through it.

I started adding sequins and beads, different stitches such as feather stitch, chain stitch…

The problem is knowing when to stop!

Stitchbook Collective

I eventually decided it was complete, I was happy with it.

The box includes a page to stitch the samples to, as it happens I’d already bought some pages for another project, so I used an extra one so I could have the samples and the finished piece opposite each other in my book.

Stitchbook Collective

I still haven’t decided what, if anything, to do with my coloured one, I might even try some random machine embroidery over it – I’ve nothing to lose!

I’ve already got the next box of goodies waiting to open, I think this one is on pleats and edges. If anyone fancies joining in follow the link above as there’s still some kits left.

Posted in embroidery, Textile Books, The Stitchbook Collective | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Christening Gifts

My great nephew is getting christened next month, I pondered for a long time on what to give as a present. I wanted to avoid giving something for when he’s grown up as in my experience (albeit only two children!) in 20 odd years time they won’t be interested in what we think is nice now!

I bought a rose bush for them. I like giving roses as you can usually find one with a suitable name – I’ve given ‘Champagne Moments’ several times. This time I wanted one with a childhood theme. I like David Austin roses as they’re well bred, healthy and usually have a beautiful scent. I looked through their catalogue – I usually have one on my bedside table!! They have a rose named after the children’s author Roald Dahl, buying one also raises money for his children’s charity. Perfect! I ordered it straight away and to my amazement it arrived the next day!

I wanted to make something for baby as well. I decided to make a Luna Lapin, or to be more precise an Archie…

Until recently there was a shop in Skipton called Cool Crafting, it’s now sadly moved to Kendal. However, in their shop window I kept admiring Luna Lapin, a beautifully dressed felt rabbit! For months I kept telling myself that I didn’t need a soft toy, I’m over 50! Then I saw the shop was closing down so I bought the book and the felt whilst I could!

Luna Lapin

Luna is designed by Sarah Peel, the owner of Cool Crafting. Luna has a complete wardrobe, dresses, coat, lacy knickers. She also has a little brother called Archie, patterns for trousers, shirt and waistcoat are included in the book. There’s a facebook page devoted to Luna and her friends, it’s very amusing as people enter into the world of Luna!

Archie; Luna Lapin

The rabbits are made from felt and designed to be hand-stitched. At Cool Crafting she sells beautiful 100% wool felt, it’s a good weight which copes well with hand-stitched seams and stuffing!

Over the weekend I pulled out the length of silver grey felt and cut it out. I used a piece of grey quilting cotton for the ears and feet. It went together pretty easily, I used blanket-stitch throughout as I seem to get a neater finish than with just an overstitch. The arms are stitched on with buttons and the eyes are buttons. I pondered about using child-safety eyes and arm joints, but I decided that as there would be buttons on his shirt and waistcoat I may as well use buttons for the eyes etc and just tell them to keep him for decoration until baby is old enough.

So, meet George…

Luna Lapin

Now I need to make him some clothes. Ooh and I’ve just remembered, he needs a tail too!

Posted in Crafts, Fabric shops, Sewing | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Leaves and Trees

I’ve just finished another section on my two cross-stitch SALS, both are due to finish around Christmas time or just after.

I always tackle the Zoe stitch-a-long (SAL) first, mainly because it’s released first every other Monday. This is the Faby Reilly Zoe Box SAL, it’s going to be beautiful. I had to stitch the outline first (which I was meant to do back in July before the SAL all started!!) which took a couple of evenings. This time we’re stitching the lid of the box, I think it’s the outside rather than the inside, but time will tell. It’s a pretty border of leaves going through the seasons as the leaves go round the box. It’s going to look lovely when all the back-stitching and the decorative stitches are completed too, but we’ll have to wait anther week for that.

Zoe SAL

The Enlightenment SAL is by Tempting Tangles, the pattern for this is released every other Friday, so it’s always second to be tackled. This includes a Zen saying, Chop wood, carry water, I’m not much wiser having read various explanations on what it means!

Two weeks ago I was half way along the second row, having just stitched Chop and worked out the saying…

Enlightenment Tempting Tangles

It’s being released a 1/16th block each time, I do find doing strict blocks a bit frustrating as sometimes you find there’s just one more stitch on the next block. This time I’ve got a bit ahead of myself in places and stitched extra where I’m pretty sure what the pattern is going to be. For example, only the top two rows of the lower w were included, I’m pretty sure it’s the w for water and stitching the whole thing made it easier to work along the row to the top of the t without mis-counting.

Enlightenment Tempting Tangles

We’re almost half way through this SAL so it’s starting to come together. I think I’m going to make it into a cushion afterwards for our guest room as by coincidence it co-ordinates pretty well with my Coming Home quilt, and that’s earmarked for the guest room bed.

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Workshop WIPs

I’ve been to three embroidery workshops so far this year, which is great, but then you have to finish the piece you started, and that takes time…

Back in June I went on a workshop with Anne Brooke to make Harold the Hare, I’d seen the original Harold at an Embroiderers Guild meeting and he is gorgeous, this is a smaller, more manageable piece of work, all hand embroidered on a pre-printed fabric. It was a great workshop, she started us off in all the main areas so we could carry on at home. This is what he looked like after the workshop…

Harold the Hare

The kit just uses four shades of DMC thread to create Harold, after working on him for quite a while at Embroiderers Guild meetings he looked like this…

Harold the Hare

He was starting to look a bit fierce! I also felt the ears were getting a bit ‘blocky’, he was generally looking a bit flat. I decided to introduce more shades of brown, I just raided my DMC box and added whatever I fancied. It’s looking so much better! I haven’t gone back to his ears yet, and I want to soften the line round his nose, I just haven’t worked out if I need to blend it in or out or both!

Harold the Hare

I’m planning to make his eyes amber, maybe with two shades, otherwise I just need to keep going with filling in – it’s quite a big area to cover!

Harold the Hare

Last month I went back over to Fabbadashery in Halifax for another workshop with Deborah Mullins. I did a workshop with her earlier in the year on Palestinian Embroidery, that one was on Tahriri Embroidery, beautiful strips of couchwork. I finished that piece eventually and turned it into a bookmark, Deborah was delighted to see the finished embroidery.

Tahriri embroidery

This time she was teaching a piece inspired by Bethlehem embroidery. Bethlehem embroidery is considered the highest quality of the area, original pieces are prized. Rather than working on fabric as would be traditional, this piece is on felt,which adds a different dimension and it’s lovely to stitch.

Deborah makes the felt shapes by hand, our first difficult decision was which colour to choose! I went for teal and tan. We then were given a pack of coordinating threads and wires.

We learnt the chevron stitch first which encloses the centre colour. I used a variegated teal thread alternating with three shades of tan. It took most of the morning! Next we shaped a spiral from copper wire and couched it down, couching variegated thread alongside it to highlight it.

Bethlehem embroidery workshop

We had a choice of borders and I went for a spiralled wire one, they’re quite fiddly to make and even more fiddly to make the same size! I’m about a third of the way round the border.

Bethlehem embroidery

Once the spirals are done there’s lots more filling in and I can titivate it as I please. So, another WIP (work in progress!) to add to my on-going projects!

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A Splendidly Happy Dance

I’ve finally finished my Splendid Sampler 2 quilt! Last night I finished hand-stitching all the binding and this morning I trimmed any loose threads – though I’m bound to have missed some!

Splendid Sampler II

I started this quilt about 18 months ago, it was initially a block of the week quilt organised by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson, the first twenty blocks were released for free, then you bought the book for the rest. Eighty different designers from all over the world have each contributed a block design, so there’s lots of different styles and techniques. I made the first Splendid Sampler quilt and learnt loads.

I did discover that without the organised block of the week and the camaraderie of facebook I’m not that good at pushing myself with a block that looks a lot of work – like lots of 1″ squares!

My original plan was to make two quilts of 49 blocks each as I’ve got enough kingsize quilts and I wanted a pair of quilts to protect a pair of newly covered armchairs from our dog Zac, however Zac is no longer with us and I decided at around block 20 that I would just make one quilt.

Splendid Sampler II

I did as Pat suggested and made the blocks which meant something to me, so there’s sewing, gardening, quilting, nature, walking, and ones I could make my own, sometimes by accident such as the mismatched triangle on the Balance block – perfect for an unbalanced person like me! If you want to read the stories behind the blocks, have a look at the links here.

I started off with a group of fabrics from my stash, I think they were mainly ones I’d bought for my first Splendid Sampler quilt but the colours didn’t quite work. They were a lovely muted collection of blues, greys and teals. I have bought a couple of extras but I’m really pleased that from the huge pile of fabric I worked from, I only have about 1.5m left!

Splendid Sampler II

I used the QAYG technique, so each block was sashed, sandwiched and quilted as I went a long. Like in SS1 I used different fabrics for the backing, so the back is pretty in it’s own right – and it’s much easier to see the quilting on the back!

Splendid Sampler II

I tried lots of different quilting styles and patterns, free motion, in the ditch, I found I was bravest with quilting when I wasn’t so bothered about the block!

Splendid Sampler II

Although it’s only half size, it’s still about 60″ square, a nice size for a throw, but still a bit big to photograph on the floor – my arms just aren’t quite long enough, this was the best I could do!

Splendid Sampler II

I’m really pleased with this one, the colours have worked out well and it’s now in our conservatory, covering our brown settee, it looks much nicer!

Splendid Sampler II
Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Serendipity, Splendid Sampler Quilt | Tagged , | 29 Comments