Jacquie SAL

Well I’ve almost caught up with my Jacquie SAL, but I seem thwarted at every attempt at the moment! This is the SAL by Faby Reilly for a needlecase, she releases the pattern for a section every two weeks. Last time I shared my progress I’d started stitching the first section. This involved back-stitching felt squares in place and embroidering two labels. I’d managed one of each…

I wasn’t 100% on the way my label had come out, but I decided to stitch the other one before I made a decision. At this point I also hadn’t done my preparation work of outlining all the blocks.

I took it to my Skipton Stitchers meeting on Monday. This was the Embroiderers Guild but since the Guild decided to take our money and abandon us, we went independent and call ourselves Skipton Stitchers. We had our second outdoor meeting and as it was hot we sat under the shade of a tree and stitched for a couple of hours. It was lovely to see everyone again. I managed a fair bit of outlining on my SAL. Afterwards I met my friend for lunch in a local cafe. A lovely day all in all.

Roll on a couple of days when I tried to crack on with the outlining. I realised my piece of fabric wasn’t quite long enough to get all the pieces from. I couldn’t fit the last two large rectangles on. I messaged Faby on Facebook to see, from a design perspective, which two rectangles would be better in a different fabric. The answer was sections three and four, which left me free to start the cross-stitch on section two…

Then I couldn’t find my flosses, I tidied my sewing room, checked down the sides of chairs etc, no sign. I decided I must have lost them on Monday in Skipton. My friend even kindly went down to the coffee shop to see if they were there. I resolved to buy a new set. I walked into Otley for my market shop yesterday, queued up at the butchers and then realised my purse wasn’t in my bag! I ended up getting the bus home, checking another bag and then getting two buses into Leeds to retrieve my purse from my locker at work! Thank goodness I have a free bus pass!! Whilst in Leeds I popped into Sam Taylors to get some more flosses. I caught the bus back to Otley, did my shopping and finally got home about five hours after initially leaving! I sat down in my chair with a welcome cup of tea and then spotted my bag of flosses hiding on the floor!!!

So I now have plenty of floss for my project!!

Last night I cracked on with section two, the first of the big rectangles and the first clue we had to the theme of the SAL. I did make me chuckle though…what does this look like?

Well it looks like a blue jelly baby to me!. So now I know what happens to jelly babies that don’t get eaten…

…they metamorphose into a dragonfly 🙂

I think this is going to be beautiful. I love the colours and in the next pattern release we’ll add the Faby magic bit, all the detail and different stitches.

Last night I also stitched the second label, it looks much better than the first one. I think it’s mainly due to the way the colour worked out with the variegated thread. I’m tempted to either undo the embroidery one and restitch, or just stitch another one, maybe also just using one strand of floss for the chain stitch border.

I still haven’t decided what colour linen to use for the other two rectangles, I’ve quite a selection of colours to choose from but I think I’ll wait to see what the design is looking like before I commit to something darker or lighter, or try to find one similar tone.

If you fancy joining me in stitching the needlecase, follow the link to Faby Reilly Designs.

This Stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, we post our progress on our project every three weeks so please follow the links to see lots of other lovely stitching.


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Flower Power

A couple of weeks ago I shared my progress on my denim jacket, embroidering flowers along the back…

This is a white denim jacket I bought at Sainsbury’s, our local supermarket. It was only £22, cheap enough to try something different. The denim is actually quite soft, it was quite easy to embroider. I used DMC threads and some other over-dyed threads from 21st Century Yarns which are called stranded cotton but are actually more like a perle. I drew some wavy lines with a silver gel pen and then eventually worked out seven different flowers to embroider, they’re not particularly botanically correct and some are just made up!

Well after what seems like thousands of French knots, it is finished!

I’ve embroidered all the way along the back, which was quite long enough! There’s foxgloves, alliums, cone flowers, amongst some more generic flowers. I added some foliage and filled in gaps with forget-me-not flowers. I stitched three little bees, having become well practise stitching them whilst making the cottage garden quilt. I was thinking of adding a ladybird but I decided a single spot of scarlet in a bed of pinks and blues might not work.

I’m well chuffed with my jacket, it took a little longer than I anticipated, but I already have plans for my blue denim jacket. Unfortunately it’s been too warm to wear it since I finished it! Here’s a photo of the whole border…

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

The hot (for us!!) humid weather is continuing, I much prefer the shade in this weather and follow it round the garden, retreating to my sewing room when there isn’t enough shade! The garden is starting to look a bit over blown, I need to do a bit more (or a lot more!) dead heading and cutting back plants that are past their best.

The roses are still looking good, though lots of dead heading to do there. This one is called Champagne Moments, it’s actually three bushes planted together to give the effect of one big bush. We bought these when we got married and I’ve given quite a few as presents as it flowers it’s socks off and is pretty disease resistant…

This beautiful rose is called Lark Ascending, it’s a gorgeous delicate shade of apricot. It grows to quite a big bush so it’s in the middle of the autumn bed over looking the amber and amethyst garden…

…just noticed all the blueberries on the bush behind. We’ve never managed to eat the blueberries as the birds always beat us to it.

One more rose picture, this one is Teasing Georgia, it’s meant to be climbing over the arch down by the patio but it is prone to blackspot and last year I ended up cutting it back hard and it’s still recovering. I’m aiming over the autumn and winter to sort this bed out, it has some of the worst soil of the garden, so I’m hoping if we can manage to turn the heavy clay a bit and get some compost in, possibly raising the bed a little with log roll, Teasing Georgia will be a bit happier.It’s a bit more yellowy than it looks in the photo.

At the other end of the patio is my pot garden. This is where the worst soil is, silver clay, it was so bad I just leveled it, put some membrane and pebbles over it and filled it with pots. It seems to have it’s own little micro-culture as it has to be really dry for me to need to water the pots. I had a bit of a sort out last week, potting up a lamium and a fuschia. I’ve also empied the water feature pot as it was still leaking, so I’ve dried it out so I can now replug the holes with blutack and hopefully it will be watertight for another ten years.

The border by the big fence is really filling out, I struggle to get in to weed now, but the bindweed keeps sneaking up so I shimmy behind the purple cotinus and try and attack it from the back. There’s a nice mix of plants here, peony, day lily, astrantia, geranium, roses – these ones are called Darcey Bussell.

I think I’ll try and get out in the garden early in the morning before it gets too warm, do a bit more weeding and dead-heading.

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July Smalls

I’ve gone for a flowery theme this month with my cross-stitch smalls display with two fairly recent makes, Scatter Sunshine and Be Nice.

The little forget me not one at the front is a cross-stitch I did probably about 30 years ago, I finally made it up a couple of years ago. The forget-m-not box is a design by Nutmeg Designs up in Reeth in Swaledale. The lovely poppy humbug is a Faby Reilly design. The little round cottage pin cushion is from a pattern in an old Inspirations magasine, another one I probably made over twenty years ago!

I might do a bees theme next month, or maybe birds…any preference?

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Tuesday’s Totter Round the Garden

We’ve had a lot of wet weather recently, yesterday it rained steadily all day, so there was no way I was going outside for my ‘meander round the garden’! This morning was overcast but dry, so I managed a couple of hours in the garden, transplanting seedlings (Thompson and Morgan reckon they’re ‘garden ready’!! ,…not in my garden! and moving plants around to make way for new ones.

The astrantia and the big pink geranium have gone a bit mad round the patio, the geranium is gradually climbing up the garden, it’s already reached the rose bed above. I’m planning to sort that one out in the autumn. The astrantia is lovely but it has self seeded pretty much all over the garden. I looked at the clump to the left of the arch…

…there’s at least seven clumps there, goodness knows how many are on the other side!. I decided to be ruthless as they were squashing a lot of the other plants nearby. So I’ve dug up all the ones on the left and offered them to my OH for the front garden, any not required there can go on the back lane. I bought two white foxgloves and a cream lupin on the market on Saturday and I’ve also gained a purple sage from my daughter, so I don’t think this corner will be empty for long.

All the bird feeders or on the other side of the arch, they’ve been busy again, emptying the sunflower hearts in a matter of days. During nesting time we seem to go fairly quiet with birds for some reason, but we now have the fledglings visiting too. We have gold finches, bullfinches, chaffinch, great tits, blue tits, coal tits and robins all visiting regularly. Early one morning we even saw a baby woodpecker clinging to the wooden fence.There’s a clematis growing up the birdfeeder at the moment, I think the birds appreciate the little bit of cover it offers. I bught some niger seed and a special feeder as the finches are supposed to love it…they haven’t touched it, we haven’t seen a single bird on the niger seed!

The roses are all doing there best to bloom, not helped by the wet weather which has turned some of the blooms into brown blobs. This one is called Port Sunlight, it was one I found still in it’s pot in my mum’s garden, it’s settled into my amber & amethyst garden nicely.

The top garden is looking pretty full with roses and shrubs all mingling together. The two yellow flowers you can see under the cottinus are day lillies just starting to flower.

All in all it’s looking pretty colourful at the moment, lots of weeding and dead heading to do as usual, but it looks good from a distance!

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Seaside Quilt HQAL

Over the last few days I’ve been busy embroidering blocks for my seaside quilt and I’m three seagulls short of finishing the top row!

Three weeks ago I’d stitched the first set of blocks together and I’d just finished embroiderinfg the oystercatchers

Round the oyster catchers are some red and blue pinwheels which look nice and bright and cheerful, they remind me of the plastic windmills we used to get to stick in the sandcastles. Once these were made I just had to play about with the little squares until I was happy with the layout. I left them on my design wall for a couple of days whilst I fiddled and finally settled with a selection I was happy with. I just need to stitch the two halves together now.

The final section of the top row had another set of beach hut and starfish blocks together with some friendship stars with a dolphin and a crab on. I actually embroidered these last two a while ago whilst we were up in Northumberland. With hindsight the dolphin would have been better in a plainer fabric as much of the detail is lost, but he’s staying!

The final block to embroider for this row was a hermit crab. Kathryn (the designer) had a very pretty flowery bucket. I decided to go for bright red, we always had colourful plastic buckets on the beach. I used a bumbleberries fabric which has a slight sheen to some of the spots, I think it works well for the bucket. The waves on the beach are stitched using blanket stitch with varying lengths, I thinks it’s very effective and I do like the googly eyes of the crab! I’ve just a few seagulls left to embroider on this block before I sash it.

My next task is to choose another selection of small squares and then stitch the blocks together and then the whole row so then the top row will be complete.

This quilt is from a book of the same name by Kathryn Whittingham, the instructions are really clear and easy to follow and all the templates are in the back ready to trace,so if you fancy making this gorgeous quilt too, please follow the link to her website, Patchwork Katy.

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 linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday.

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Wednesday Wanderings

On Monday my walking buddy and I ticked off another two mountains in our Dales 30 challenge. This is from a book by Jonathan Smith with routes up every official ‘mountain’ in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Apparently they have to be over 2,000′ to be a mountain. We’re aiming to walk up them all, goodness know how long it will take us but that doesn’t matter!

The weather forecast for Monday wasn’t brilliant, high chance of rain for most of the morning, so I was pleasantly surprised to wake up to a sunny morning here in Otley. However by the time we had bought our sandwiches (..and sausage roll and a sticky bun!) and driven up to the far end of Littondale, there was a rather large black cloud ahead.

We parked at Foxup which is a little hamlet at the top of Littondale. The farm there has a lovely stone bridge and a very friendly sheepdog!

We followed the path which goes over to Ribblesdale. We were heading for Pen-y-ghent, one of the ‘Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge’, I’ve walked up Pen-y-ghent a couple of times from the popular starting point of Horton in Ribblesdale, but this time we were combining it with Plover Hill which is just along the ridge from Pen-y-ghent.

The dark cloud got blacker as we walked towards it, we watched its progress and to our relief it was blown down the next valley.

We climbed upwards for about a mile before the path started to follow the contour round Plover Hill making for much easier walking. A few fields later and we reached decision time…

There was a little path which went straight up the side of Plover Hill, or we could walk round to the main path up Pen-y-ghent and then walk back along the ridge. We had decided to see what it looked like before we made a decision, but we had already decided that we could either go up the steep path to Plover Hill and down the main path from Pen-y-ghent, or we would ascend and descend by the Pen-y-ghent path. The little path was too steep for us to happily come down.

We looked at the little path and decided to go for it, it looked doable! It was a steep pull up a grassy path up to the craggy bit, then the path followed a route up through the rake, (a passable route between two crags ) it was a bit of a scramble, I quite like scrambling over rocks but this one did get a little hairy with my lack of balance, at one point I gave my walking poles to my friend as It was easier to have both hands free to hold onto the rocks…and don’t look down!

Once up on top it was a fairly steady walk to the top of Plover Hill. As mountains go it’s a pretty uninspiring top, especially when the clouds have come down so we couldn’t even see the view.

From Plover Hill it’s about 1.5 miles along the ridge to Pen-y-ghent. We couldn’t see the top initially as it was shrouded in cloud, but as we approached the summit the cloud lifted and gradually revealed the wonderful view of Ribblesdale. We sat and ate our sandwiches on the sheltered seat at the top.

We could still see a lot of heavy rain but fortunately (for us!!) it was raining on Ingleborough on the other side of the valley. It always fascinates me to watch weather systems like this. There was a solid bank of cloud to our left at one point and you could literally see it being pushed away like a wall of white by the wind.

I’ve just got a new camera so I was playing with it, it does panoramas! This one is from the top where we had our lunch. It’s about 180 degrees, so it does distort it somewhat but it gives you an idea!

This one is the view as we were heading down Pen-y-ghent, the paths have had to be flagged with old York stone or with a loose stones as there has been so much erosion on the three peaks. You can see how much the weather changed in probably half an hour. We went from all layers on and wishing I’d brought my hat and gloves to just a t-shirt!

We followed the path all the way down to Hull pot, you can just make out the path disappearing into the distance. I read recently that Hull pot is the biggest natural hole in the country, you could fit a cathedral in it. What is more amazing is that a couple of years ago there was so much rain it flooded! Itwas a bit of a detour to actually visit the pot so we gave it a miss this time!

From there we followed the Littondale path, the one we started on from the Foxup end. It meandered up and down, supposedly following the contours but we were flagging by this point so it seemed quite hilly! This was the view up towards the wonderfully named area of Cosh as we finally descended down to the farm at Foxup where our car was parked.

Altogether we walked about 9.5 miles, so it was a good distance. It was also a lovely way to climb Pen-y-ghent, away from the hoards on the usual paths, I would certainly recommend it…..and we can tick off another two mountains.

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is starting to get somewhat controversial as in recent years it has become very popular for charity sponsored walks. In normal times every weekend in the summer there will be hoards walking up here. The challenge starts at Horton in Ribblesdale and the aim is to walk the 26 miles of Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside within 12 hours. The carparks in the village are full to overflowing by 7am and hundreds walk through the village in their heavy boots, chattering away, oblivious to the fact that it is early in the morning at a weekend. When we walked there a couple of years ago I was astounded as we had to queue to reach the top of Pen-y-ghent. The work need to protect the area from erosion is costing thousands, I think really any charity wishing to fund raise with the Three Peaks should have to give a percentage of the money raised to the National Parks to help maintain the area.

For those who like numbers,Pen-y-ghent is 2,277 feet high and is 8th in the top 30, Plover Hill is 2231 feet high and is 11th in the table. So we have done three now, twenty seven to go!

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Jacquie SAL

I’ve put my sensible head on for my choice of embroidery to share here every three weeks. I had two kits lined up in my mind to do once I had finished my Leafy Tree, but I realised I was ending up with too many projects in progress, and despite what some of you think about me having extra hours in the day, I still have to work occasionally and I need to make myself some new clothes! At the moment I have my Seaside quilt to embroider, my denim jackets, my blackwork sampler SAL which lasts all year, I’ve just started Faby Reilly’s Jacquie SAL and Cathy Reavy (who did the Stitchwheel Sampler) is just about to start another SAL of embroidering insects which I am very tempted with.

So I’ve decided to have Faby Reilly’s Jacquie SAL as the piece to share every three weeks. I’ve done quite a few of her SAL’s and they’re always beautiful. This time we’re making a needlecase and the colours are gorgeous, rich blues, greens and turquoise. We don’t know the theme yet but somewhere I did find the flower linked to the name Jacqueline but of course I can’t find it now!

The instructions are being released every two weeks, so it will take until end of October to finish the embroidery and then the instructions on how to make it up will be in November.

Before the first part was released earlier this week Faby had given us all a welcome pack which included the outlines of each block to stitch in advance of the start of the SAL. Of course I didn’t get round to that bit so I’m doing a bit of a catch up now. Faby suggested a Permin linen called Smokey Pearl, over the last few months I managed to buy quite a few different colours of the Permin linen either in a sale of on facebook and one of them just happened to be smokey pearl. It’s a lovely soft grey.

The little extra stitches along the outline of backstitch are ten stitch markers. Faby uses it with most of her outlines and it’s a habit worth getting into as it makes counting so much easier. I used it when making my cross-stitch books as page outlines were like 140 stitches by 90.

This first week is stitching the felt inserts and labels, I’ve managed to stitch one felt insert (there’s four altogether) and one of the labels so you get the idea of what I’m doing. The other label is cross-stitch. Despite measuring carefully my felt rectangle was a milimetre short on one length and I have only just got enough for the four squares in this lovely kingfisher blue, so I trimmed the other side slightly too so at least it looks even in the block.

It wasn’t easy getting the chain-stitch to look even, there’s a couple of wobbles! It also wasn’t easy getting the back-stitch even around the rectangle, though Faby reassures us that the ‘hand-stitched ‘ look works well with the felt – well that’s lucky, though I am tempted to try with bigger stitches and maybe redo this one 🙂

If you fancy stitching this needlecase along with me, follow the link above to Faby’s website.

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea, we post our progress every three weeks, please follow the links to see how everyone has progressed with their stitching projects.


Posted in cross-stitch, embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Flower Power

My white denim jacket is coming along nicely. It’s a lot easier to sew than I thought it might be, It’s quite a soft denim, it’s just an inexpensive one I bought at our local supermarket, Sainsbury’s. These are the stem lines I drew to start with…

I embroidered cone flowers, alliums, foxgloves as well as some generic pink flowers! I’ve just used simple stitches such as french knots and lazy daisy. I need to add a few more leaves and I think I’ll fill in the gaps along the bottom with the little blue flowers which could (with a bit of artistic license!!) be forget-me-nots.

I found that having drawn the stems before I had any real plan, some of them are a little close together – it’s just densely planted! I thought I’d nearly finished, having embroidered the left side of the seam and stitched a lot on the right…

…until I realised that wasn’t the centre back seam I was working across, it was a side back seam! So I’ve another third to do. Luckily I’m enjoying stitching this, I’m planning to include bees and at least one ladybird too. Here’s the whole jacket (somewhat crumpled!) to give you an idea of scale.

Hopefully next time I share it it will be finished, I’ve got an Embroiderers Guild weekend away in a couple of weeks time, it would be nice to have it finished for then. I’m already planning the blue denim jacket – daisies!

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Wednesday Wanderings

This week it’s the Otley Walking Festival and it’s 20th Anniversary. It’s a week where there’s several guided walks each day from a couple of miles or less to twenty miles, there’s pub walks, history walks, teashop walks, cake walks as well as nature walks.

There was a few walks I fancied but I was a bit late deciding so many were already booked up. One was called Early birds in the Wetland, a short walk round Otley nature reserve followed by champagne breakfast and they still had a space so I booked it.

We had to meet at the Buttercross in the centre of town at 5am!! So I set my alarm for 4am to give me chance for a quick breakfast and time to walk down, though my OH, bless him, did offer at 4am to drive me down. However it was light and dry so I walked the 1.5 miles into Otley.

I wasn’t the only one mad enough to think getting up so early was a good idea, there were 25 booked on and I would estimate 20 turned up!

Otley Wetlands is a nature reserve to the west of the town in what used to be gravel pits, it’s not usually open to the public at the moment so I’ve only been once before with WI.

The two leaders, Jur and Yvonne, explained the history of the area and how the are maintaining it as a nature reserve. from what I remember the quarry closed in about 1996 and the gravel pits gradually flooded. It became a nature reserve in the early 2000’s.

The area has quite a good mixture of habitat, wild flower meadows with several different orchids flowering, native woodland, reed beds seasonal ponds and of course the lakes from the gravel working. In one meadow they started to create two small ponds,after they dug them out they found they were very seasonal, drying up in summer. They were just about to line them when someone advised them that actually a pond which dries up in winter is it’s own special habitat.

We walked all round the reserve, seeing quite a few damsel flies. oystercacthers and swans. quite a few protected birds and insects there, but also roe deer and otters.

It was a lovely walk, about three miles at a gentle pace followed by a lovely breakfast of crumpets, scotch pancakes, homemade jam, strawberries, cheese…the plates just kept on coming out of the cabin! The final offering was a glass of champagne.

Altogether we walked about three miles round the reserve bu including my walk up and down to home I had walked six miles by 8am!

It was a lovely little walk, though I’m not sure what we gained from being there so early, though that may just be because it was a cooloer overcast morning. Also, with 20 odd people wandering round you’re not going to see much in the way of wildlife.

Posted in Serendipity | Tagged | 4 Comments