A Little Further Down the Rabbit Hole

I did my usual trick this month with my hand quilt-a-long – Friday evening I suddenly remembered I had a post to write, so I’d better do some quilting! This is why the HQAL is such a motivator for me!! Luckily last night was the Festival of Rembrance on TV so I sat with my OH and quilted whilst I watched.

Three weeks ago I was about half way across the third border…

Down the Rabbit Hole

I’ve now reached the penultimate corner as I’ve more or less finished the third side. I say more or less as I realised I’ve still some marking to do, my ceramic pencil ran out and I need to find my spare leads! In the meantime I cracked on with the very outer border as that doesn’t need marking, I’m over half way on the last side with the diamond border. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, though too early yet to get out my dancing shoes!

Down the Rabbit Hole

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, Kathi,  Bella, Daisy and Connie

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, so please follow all the links for lots of hand-stitching inspiration.

Posted in Down The Rabbit Hole, Quilt-a-long, Quilting, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

The Stitchbook Project

I’ve just finished another two pages of my Stitchbook Project. This is a year long course organised by Helen Bellingham of Untangled Threads, which is based not too far away from here in Scarborough. Each month there’s a different type of textile or stitching to try, there’s lots of little samples to try and then one larger piece to pull it all together. I think it will be a great way to learn about those things I see at shows but haven’t got a clue what to do with,like Tyvek, kunin felt, joomchi or gel plate printing. Helen makes a video to show us what to do, as well as providing written instructions.

Last month was all about textural stitching – it’s certainly pushing me out of my comfort zone as it’s much more abstract than my usual stitching…

This month it was Pleats and Edges. Our box of goodies contained denim, cotton tape, twill, embroidery thread, calico…we made samples of pintucks, gathers, pleats, smocking, irregular gathers.

What I like with this project is being able to follow the instructions but still be able to make it your own. The first sample was some pleats, I decided to embroider in the teal thread provided along the top. That was the start of the theme for the page, just a little bit of embroidery in teal.

One sample was pintucks, I have to confess I stitched these on the machine, but I then hand embroidered them to change direction in the middle. The smocking one was designed to be less formally stitched, but I decided everything so far reminded me of the Victorian clothing and embroidery, so I went down a more formal route. I did some smocking years ago when my daughter was little, I dug out an old book and did a short strip of traditional smocking.

Stitchbook project

There were about seven samples all together, we then had to arrange them on a piece of soft denim. I could only fit five on in an arrangement I was happy with. One sample has gone in the sample box and the other I used for my second piece – more of that later.

I stitched them all onto the piece of denim using running stitch and french knots. I added some tiny mother of pearl buttons to add a bit of interest, but also to continue the Victorian theme.

Stitchbook project

I wanted something underneath my pleats and after a bit of rummaging I found a beautiful mother of pearl circle, I’m not sure what it was for as I found it in my mum’s stuff. It just fitted under the pleats…

Stitchbook project

I went slightly off kilter for the final piece, in the instructions we layered up several types of fabric and then ‘quilted’ the centre, having cut out a frame in the denim. We were then to use any technique we chose to decorate the frame.

I decided to use one of the sample pieces which I hadn’t had room for – a larger rectangle of regularly gathered folds. I gathered the folds up irregularly and started to add different ideas from the samples, together with some very pretty trim I had in my stash.

I stitched a length of soft blue trim down one of the folds, I pleated a length of blue lace along the side, tucking most of one edge under a pintuck. I hand stitchd a running-stitch with some tiny buttons along the pin-tuck.

I found a narrow length of cotton which ws actually left from trimming blocks with a rotary cutter, I managed to gather one length to tuck in a fold and twist the other length down the side.

I stitched on half cotton balls which Helen had included in the pack and added herringbone and some mock smocking too. I was pretty pleased with the finished embroidery…I’ve just realised that it looks a bit like a snow scene when it’s on its side, well that was a fortuitous accident!

Stitchbook project

My next job was to make a textile frame. I cut a rectangle in the denim and decided to use the leftover centre to embellish the edges. I cut it into 6 strips and gathered them onto a long thread. I could then lay them along the border, twitsing as I went, securing it down with french knots.

I’m pretty pleased with my two pages, I like the neutral colours, the next box (which has already arrived!) is on staining fabric, so hopefully I can continue my neutral palette.

Stitchbook project

If anyone fancies starting the stitchbook project, I think there are still packs available – it’s a limited number. I’m learning lots of techniques and ideas and it’s ceratinli making me think outside the box!

I’ll be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link for more inspiration.

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity | Tagged , | 27 Comments

November Cross-stitch Smalls

Having shown you my most recent make yesterday I thought I’d better share my little display of smalls for November…

Of course my two most recent makes take pride of place, the two autumn cross-stitches are both free patterns, leaves one by Faby Reilly and one with a blackbird by Thea Dueck…

Another one by Faby Reilly which I display each November for Remembrance Day is the poppy humbug, it’s beautiful…

The bumble bee small is still one of my favourites and although the bees aren’t around now it’s cold, the colours are very autumnal! This pattern was from Etsy I think.

bumble bee cross-stitch

The cat and the flower wreath are ones I made years ago, in fact the wreath one was a small I gave my mum many years ago, so I got it back when we were sorting her things out! I think that was a Just Nan pattern. The cat was a mini Lanarte kit. The pear in the background helps to support the others!

Autumn cross-stitch smalls

I’ve finally managed to collect an autumnal display of smalls – and next month I can get all my Christmas ones out 🙂

Posted in Smalls of the Month | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Autumn Smalls for November

I’ve finally managed to collate an autumnal collection of smalls, just in time for November. Last night I finished another autumn freebie, this time by Thea Dueck, it was released on her facebook page (Victoria Sampler Chat Group) she’s a new designer to me so it was nice to try a little design first. It was released over 4 weeks, bit by bit, but I didn’t discover it until the end, so I just stitched it all at once….

Autumn cross-stitch small

Isn’t it pretty? There’s no thread key, you can choose whatever threads you wish, which is great, but it also means you have to think and also means that maybe some things would have been better in a different colour…like the two bottom oak leaves which disappear into the pumpkin, hence the extra back-stitching! I love how the borders and the letters have worked in the variegated threads.

It took me a while to decide on fabrics to make it up with, I haven’t got a huge selection of browns. I found a gorgeous one which colourwise matched perfectly, but it was too busy. My thought with this one was to have it as a narrow border with a darker brown next to it. Having stitched it on and added the ric-rac, I decided it was enough.

Autumn cross-stitch small

Once the front was done I could stitch the back on, stuff it and slip stitch the end. I think it’s really pretty. I really must get better at checking things for loose threads before I photograph them! By the way, the gorgeous wool you can see behind was woven less than two miles from my home at Marton Mills. I’ve just discovered that twice a year they have a pop up factory sale so I’ve three more lengths in my stash! I think there’s a concerted effort to push Yorkshire wool as the quality product it has always been, Abraham Moon in Guiseley have cornered a niche corner of the market with their beautiful tweeds and Fabworks (a fabric shop in Dewsbury) have recently released their ‘Made in Huddersfield’ range of gorgeous tweeds. It’s nice to think fabric I’m wearing was made just a few miles away.

Autumn cross-stitch small

If you fancy trying one of Theas designs she’s just started a Christmas stitch-a-long on her facebook page.

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

The Finery of Nature SAL

The last three weeks seem to have passed very quickly! I’ve been working a bit on my Finery of Nature cross-stitch, this is a Dimensions kit I started ages ago, I found it on the sales table at my Embroiderers Guild so it just required a donation and it was mine. I think someone was probably put off by the fact it was on black linen, I just changed it to soft green instead, which has meant a couple of colour changes, but nothing major.

Three weeks ago I was making good progress with the hummingbird…

The Finery of Nature

Well, I didn’t think I’d done that much as I’ve been a bit distracted by other projects, but comparing photos, I’ve done OK! I’ve finished the cross-stitch on the humming bird, though there is still quite a bit of back-stitch to do, I think he’s gorgeous already!

The Finery of Nature

I’ve started the flowers that surround him, they’re a bit bitty to stitch as there’s like two stitches in one colour, three in another – lots of stopping and starting, but I’m getting there! I tend to start in one area with a certain colour, if there’s thread left I will see if there’s another leaf or flower I can reasonably count to and I’ll do that too. Hence the odd areas of stitching!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, we post every three weeks and it’s a great way to keep motivated, everyone is very encouraging! If you would like to join us please send a message to Avis, otherwise please follow the lins for lots of stitching inspiration;

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

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

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Stained Glass Woodland

A couple of weeks ago I went on a workshop organised by a friend from WI. Rachel Poole was running the class and I’ve been to a few of her days and she’s an excellent tutor. This time we were making stained glass decorations.

I’ve done stained glass twice before, both with Rachel; the first time was a nativity set, we were amazed that we managed to get the whole nativity made in one day, including cutting all the glass, applying the lead and soldering it all together…

Stained Glass Nativity

Last year we made Christmas decorations – holly, angels, trees etc, these were made by covering the edge of the glass with copper tape and then applying solder to the tape…

This time we were making a winter scene of trees and hills. Some of the trees were pre-cut just to save time, others we cut ourselves – it’s pretty scary cutting glass, you have to score it and then snap it – that’s the scary bit!! Once the shapes were cut we had to grind the edges both to smooth the outline and to ensure the copper tape had a surface it could stick to. You can see in the photo below that the clearer ‘cloud’ was still quite rough round the edge.

Stained glass workshop

It took quite a long time to stick all the copper tape on. The aim was to have most of the copper tape applied by lunch. Then after our sandwiches we had the scary bit of dipping each piece in acid and then covering it in solder – those soldering irons are VERY hot!

Stained glass workshop

Once everything was covered in solder we could arrange them and stick them together with blobs of solder, making sure each piece had enough soldered points to anchor it securely. I made twirly bits of wire to decorate the trees and make a star, all stuck on with a bit of solder. I must admit I got Rachel to solder the two rings on – that was just too close to the soldering iron!

Stained glass workshop

I’m really pleased with my winter scene. It’s already hanging in the conservatory, I think it can stay up all year as although it’s wintery, it’s not too Christmassy.

Posted in Crafts | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Zoe and Zen

By the end of last week I’d managed to catch up with both my cross-stitch stitch-a-longs, the patterns are both released fortnightly with just a few days in between…

First to be stitched is always the Zoe box SAL by Faby Reilly. This will be finished by Christmas and we have just two more sections to stitch before we start constructing the box. This time we were stitching the top of the box lid. It’s a gorgeous design of leaves and berries, flowers, cones etc. The cross-stitch was completed the week before, so it looked like this…


This week we added all the back-stitch, spidersweb stitches, woven roses, sequins, beads, all the extra embellishments that make Faby’s designs so special. It’s made a lovely wreath of leaves going through the seasons. I love it…


The next pattern has just been released, we’re stitching the inside of the box lid now, it’s so pretty but you’ll have to wait for that installment!

My Zen cross-stitch is actually called Enlightenment, it’s by Tempting Tangles, it’s a sampler of Quaker images with a Zen saying. This one is being released in strict square order, which I must admit isn’t my usual way of working, I do keep stitching extra bits when I can see what’s coming! Last time it looked like this…

Enliightment SAL

This time we’ve finished the row, so we’re exactly half way through the sampler…

Enlightment SAL

As you can see I have stitched a little bit below the line, mainly to help with counting for things like the letter t. There’s also meant to be the tops of other stitches completed, but it was like one or two stitches only for each letter, so I’ll stitch that when we get the pattern for the rest of the letters. I love the border, it’s stitched with a beautiful variegated thread.

The next pattern will be released on Friday, I think we’ll just reach the letter C on the row below. I think think this one is destined to become a cushion in our guest room – by chance the colours will go perfectly with my Coming Home quilt!

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Anne Bronte p200

It’s 200 years since Anne Bronte was born, she was the youngest of the Bronte sisters and wrote two novels, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall before her untimely death aged 29. Until recently her literary work has been overshadowed by that of Charlotte and Emily, however The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is now seen as one of the first major feminist novels.

In the New Year there will be an exhibition in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, which is where Anne died. Each exhibitor was given an actual page from a vintage copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and had to produce a piece of work, of any medium, inspired by that page and the same size as the page!

I’ve just finished my piece!

I got page 215, it didn’t start off very inspiring as it was mainly about a disagreement in a drawing room. I was getting a little concerned as to what I could do! I finally read to the last paragraph on the page and found my inspiration…

I saw him pacing down the park, in the comfortless gloom of the damp, cloudy twilight

I sketched a basic picture of parkland with hills behind, my original plan was to frame the picture like a window, but that soon went out the window as too fiddly! I pulled out my batiks, thinking I could use them as a base, but before I made much of a plan I pulled out my box of textiles, looking for organza and the like to layer the design.

In the bottom of the box I saw some tweed and suddenly had a bit of a light bulb moment! The colours were perfect for the twilight scene I wanted to create and as Yorkshire was the centre of the woolen industry for many years it seemed apt to use it for this piece. Anne would have been very familiar with wool and tweed cloths.

Anne Bronte p200

I laid the tweeds in place and blanket-stitched them together, cutting away the excess behind. I trimmed it to size, I was a bit worried it might fray as I was working on it but it didn’t at all.

With the background in place I ‘just’ had to embroider it, it took me ages to pick threads and stitches. I started with the tree using a chenille thread. I found if I couched it it looked a bit like leaves, it gives quite a nice texture.

Anne Bronte p200

I embroidered the hills with overlapping feather stitch and a curving chain stitch. I was particularly pleased with the strip in the middle, I found some quite springy thread, a bit like a very fine ric-rac, in green/purple/grey, I positioned one length, letting it curve as it wanted, tacking it down with fly-stitch in a variegated DMC thread, once I’d secured that strip I folded the thread back over the strip and made a second row overlapping the first, and then a third row, going over one final time with a thicker fly stitch. I think it looks really effective.

Another area I’m please with is the grass of the parkland. I wanted to indicate a path, but I didn’t want a dominating line. I decided to have a mown path through the grass. I used straight stitches in three shades of green and various sizes to show the grass, getting lighter and smaller in the distance. I left the path plain. I used a variegated thread to do some french knots, the ones at the front have three wraps with two threads, they reduce down until the ones in the distance have just one thread and one wrap.

For the cloudy sky I used a circle of organza for the hazy moon and stitched two rows of feather stitch to show clouds.

Anne Bronte p200

One of the most difficult things with this kind of embroidery is knowing when to stop! I was thinking of adding beads and all sorts, but I decided it had enough with the embroidery.

My next job was to decide how to mount it. I found a muted quilting cotton which worked well as a background. My original thought was to embroider the words from the book, but I couldn’t reduce it enough to fit it in with the room available. In the end I embroidered the name of the book and added my page number to the top.

Anne Bronte p200

I blanket-stitched round both pieces and bondawebbed the embroidery to the backing. It was finished!

I’m really pleased with how it’s come out, I’ll put it in the post tomorrow and look forward to seeing the exhibition in the New Year.

The exhibition is going to be at Woodend in Scarborough in January, dates to be confirmed. Lindsey, the organiser, is also trying to publish a book of all the entries, the mock-up looks beautiful! She’s funding it with Kickstart, this is a bit like crowd-funding. She needs people to pledge to buy a book, or a print, or a couple of postcards in order to be able to go ahead. If anyone is interested please follow the link to the Kick-starter page.

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 43 Comments

Tuesday’s Totter Round the Garden

We’ve had a couple of frosty mornings this week, lovely sunny days but pretty cold too. I love seeing the garden edged with frost, these are some little clumps of moss on the garden wall, I always think they look like mini hedgehogs!


I’ve been tidying up the garden and filling up the compost heap this week. All the hostas were long gone over so most of the dead foliage has been pulled off, I’ve cut back the iris leaves too as they were flopping and starting to brown. The pond area is only half done, so it’s still looking untidy…

Autumn tidy up

The geraniums down by the arch over the patio went a bit mad this year, so I’ve been pulling up some of the roots as well as the foliage, trying to thin it a bit, I’ve still rather a lot to tidy here too! In some ways I would have been better just concentrating on one bed and getting it finished, but my OH wasn’t very happy getting wet legs from all the foliage over-hanging the path every time he walked the dogs!!

Autumn tidy up

I’m really pleased with my autumn bed, it’s working out just as I hoped. The eunonymous alata is looking amazing, a fiery red colour. There’s a blueberry just peeping in the background too with lovely red leaves.

Autumn colour in the garden

The acer is beautiful with lots of shades of orange and purply-red too…

Autumn colour in the garden

Just behind these two there’s a purple erysimum flowering it’s socks off, together with a bright yellow rudbekia – not a bad display of colour considering it’s nearly November!

Autumn colour in the garden

Once we get our hot composter our current compost heap will be dismantled, so I’ll have another bed to plant with autumn colour! There’s already a golden cotinnus and a photinia planted at that end. So far I’m wondering about an amelanchier, but any suggestions welcome

Posted in Garden | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Autumn Cross-stitch

I realised over the last few weeks that I have somewhat of a gap in my smalls collection, I’ve lots of spring and summer ones, lots of Christmas ones, but no specific autumn ones, I’ve only just finished ‘October’…

October cross-stitch - snowflower diaries

Faby Reilly is one of my favourite cross-stitch designers and recently she released a little autumn freebie. I always think freebies are a perfect way of trying out a designers style, you can check out their instructions and style before committing lots of time to a larger project.

Faby Reilly cross-stitch

I’ve stitched several of Faby’s designs and this was a nice little quick one to stitch for autumn. It took a couple of evenings or so to do the stitching, it’s only about 2″ square, hence the photo is not quite in focus! It’s very pretty.

Last night I decided to make it up. I rummaged through my stash and found this batik with a leaf image on it, colourwise in matched perfectly. I pulled a few trims out of my drawers to play with and eventually settled on this gorgeous variegated ribbon trim – I bought it at Yarndale last month.

Faby Reilly cross-stitch

I added a row of fly stitch and hand stitched the trim on right next to the seam. It was then a simple job to machine stitch it to the backing fabric, turn it and stuff it. My original plan was to put some buttons on the brown batik, I even thought I’d found some perfect ones in my stash – slices of wood, but they were just a bit too big, mother of pearl ones were too bright – I decided it was best left plain in the end.

Faby Reilly cross-stitch

So come November 1st I’ll have an autumnal small to share!

Linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday

Posted in embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged , , | 25 Comments