Knitting & Stitching Show

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

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20181125_103727.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20181125_130957.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20181125_130530.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0186.jpg

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_01871.jpg

All in all, a grand day out!

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Quilting, Serendipity | 11 Comments

My Journey in Quilting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pimm’s & Lemonade Quilt

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

Helen’s Black & White Quilt

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

Pat Sloan’s Vacation Time

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

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

James’s Quilt

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

Anderson’s Farm

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

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

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

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

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

Hummingbird quilt; www.thecraftycreek

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

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

So maybe not a newbie any more!

Hand Quilt Along Links

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

KathyLoriMargaretKerryEmmaTracyDebConnieSusan,  NanetteSassy , EdithSharonKarrin, and Gretchen

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Christmas Preparations

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0187.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0190-2.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0188.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0191.jpg

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

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

Eighteen for 18

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

  • 1 Etsy store opened; Still no where on this one, I’m lurching towards my own website at the moment, after various comments that it’s actually cheaper to run your own than using Etsy. However WordPress is also becoming more of an issue as we seem to be getting less and less blog for more and more money!
  • 2 Tutorials; Still nothing written but I have started taking photos for my first one and I’ve had a request for one on another topic.
  • 3 Sessions a week in the garden; I’ve not managed as much in the garden this month, November isn’t the best time to be outside, it’s dark by 4pm so there is no chance of an evening potter and it’s been pretty wet and miserable at times. I did get my four roses planted though and did a fair bit of tidying up.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_00011.jpg
  • 4 Quilts; Completed!   I finished my hummingbird quilt, my niece loves it. So that makes four quilts, yes I’m counting DTRH as a finish as it was such a mammoth effort just to do the top! I’ve made a couple more Splendid Sampler blocks and I’ve got the next pack from the Spring Wreath quilt so I need to crack on with that one. I also made a quilted tree skirt for Minerva so hopefully I’ll get round to sharing it shortly.
  • 5 Craftsy Classes; I’m still at 4.5 classes, I’ll hopefully finish a dress-making one this week.
  • 6 New PatternsCompleted! I shared my Clementine skirt with you in November, a new denim skirt pattern by Merchant and Mills, so I have finally reached my goal! I’ve pulled another new pattern out today as well which I’m hoping to make before Christmas
  • 7 Kits stitched; Completed I’ve not stitched any more this month so I’m just staying right on target with seven stitched over the year. 
    8 Pages in my Stitch Sampler book Completed. I finally finished my Stitch Sampler, I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out and I’ve now had requests for instructions on how to make one!

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

Embroidered Snowflake by The Crafty Creek

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0014-2.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas at Castle Howard

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

DSC_0042

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

DSC_0056

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

DSC_0065

…and our first glimpse of the estate buildings.

DSC_0077

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

DSC_0081

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

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

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

DSC_0149

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

DSC_0099

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

DSC_0121

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

DSC_0089

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

DSC_0145

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

DSC_0146

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

DSC_0136

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

DSC_0131

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

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

DSC_0126

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

DSC_0168

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

DSC_0078

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

Another fabulous WI day out 🙂

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

Monthly Photo Challenge

It’s the first Tuesday in the month so it’s time for Wild Daffodil’s photo challenge, this month the theme is Glitz so lots of sparkle and glitter (well maybe not glitter!)…On the whole I’m not a very glitzy person, but at Christmas I do like a bit of sparkle, however glitter and tinsel are not allowed in the house and I had to smile the other day when I got a message from my daughter at uni, ‘I can see why you banned glitter…’ a photo showed it all over their flat, trodden into the carpet!

This is my bare Christmas tree, it’s a twisted hazel from the garden, it’s not very big, probably about 2′ tall. I got the idea visiting Castle Howard a couple of years ago, where as it happens I am visiting again today! I just have gold and silver decorations with simple white lights, it looks ever so pretty. It sits in the conservatory where it’s a bit cooler.

My Christmas fairy had a make-over a couple of years ago, she now has an embroidered, mirrored golden skirt with sparkly beads, golden wings and a shiny silver buckle!

Mistletoe Humbug, gorgeous cross-stitch Christmas decoration.

This was the first Faby Reilly humbug I made, it’s a very pretty design of mistletoe and sparkly gold ribbon, last year I made the holly one to go with it. This year of course I’ve been following Faby’s Christie SAL and made three gorgeous sparkly decorations. The pattern for the last one has just been released!

This is an embroidery from the first round of Travelling Sketchbooks we did at my Embroiderers Guild. I had to do an embroidery on the theme of astronomy, so I used shisha mirrors, sparkly beads and silver thread to make a stylized night sky.

Just to prove I do occasionally wear sparkle and glitz!!This is the sort of impulse buy you make when you go fabric shopping with a 20 year old in the Birmingham Rag Market…’it’ll be great for Christmas’ she said! Well it didn’t quite make Christmas but it did make a perfect dress for a charity ball I went to with work colleagues. I was picking up sequins for weeks (and so were some of my friends as I sewed round there too!!)

This is probably my oldest make that is still occasionally in use!! I made it about 30 years ago and whenever there’s a glitzy do it comes out, this time it was for a 1920’s evening. The advantage of a cape is that it fits all sizes! It’s probably the most glamourous garment I have, it’s always admired whenever I where it!  It’s made from a beautiful midnight blue velvet which was made up at Denholme Mills, not far from here, I bought it at their factory shop. It’s lined with a turquoise satin which looks gorgeous but was a complete nightmare to stitch in! The finishing touch is a single huge sparkly button. Even now it’s the most expensive button I have ever bought!! It was from Duttons for Buttons and cost me £10 all those years ago…but just look at that sparkle!!

This photo challenge is organised by Wild Daffodil, it’s been great fun to take part each month, so thank you, Next year the format is changing slightly, the theme is going to be windows for the whole year, so if you fancy joining in just pop over to her website, there’ll be lots of sparkle and glitz there too.

Posted in Christmas, Crafts, Dressmaking, embroidery, Photo Challenge | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

A Pair of Christmas Smalls

I’ve just finished the third of the Christmas cross-stitch designs from Faby Reilly’s Christie stitch-a-long. These were the first two…

Christie SAL Faby Reilly
Faby Reilly Christie SAL

This time the design was a gorgeous Christmas tree. Faby’s designs are using soft muted colours (the star above is in the proper colours) I’m pretty traditional at Christmas with lots of green and red, together with just a little sparkle. I used a variegated green floss and a lighter one for the leaves. I love it, it makes such a difference when all the red and gold beads are stitched on. The rice stitch in ivory and gold is a lovely finishing touch.

Christie SAL by Faby Reilly. Stitched by thecraftycreek

To finish it I decided to make it more long and thin, I liked the way the first one had worked out so I used the same fabric for this one. I cut it to include the green stripe so it made an extra border. The gold cord is one I made when I first got my cordmaker. It looks great but so far it’s just been too much sparkle to go around these decorations. I decided a single length across the red would look OK. I embroidered three sequin stars to echo the ones on the design, added a red check back and made a red and green cord to go around it and make a hanger.

Christie SAL by Faby Reilly. Stitched by thecraftycreek

I love it and I’ve already decided where it will go, hanging off the key on our old bureau. The final design from Faby is a gorgeous Christmas heart, perfect for a card for my OH.

Last year I made a little cross-stitch decoration for my two children, James had just got a pug called Eddie so I found a pug Christmas cross-stitch…

A Christmas dachshund and a cute pug in cross-stitch

Well I spotted another one! It’s only tiny, so it didn’t take long to stitch up at all – the actual design is only about 1.5 x 2″. It’s a design by Mouseloft which I bought on ebay. He doesn’t look too impressed with his Santa hat 🙂

Santa's Pug by Mouseloft; stitched by the crafty creek

Finishing it was pretty quick too. I used my red check fabric to add borders to make it a reasonable size, stitched on a backing and then trimmed round with some mini red pompom fabric. All that was needed then was a length of cord to make a hanging loop.

Santa's Pug by Mouseloft; stitched by the crafty creek

I’ll take it round as a surprise once I know their tree is up!

Posted in Christmas, Crafts, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

Yesterday I had a good mooch round the garden collecting foliage for my Advent Ring, it was the first Sunday in Advent yesterday so I made it just in time!

Over the years in the garden I’ve managed to get a reasonable collection of evergreen foliage which is good for simple flower arrangements, they are all big enough now to cope with a bit of pruning at Christmas time!  I’ve also learnt which shrubs to avoid, like Choisya Ternata, it is a beautiful golden colour but it smells like cat pee! Ceanothus also looks pretty, but it doesn’t last well enough.

Instead of holly I usually use osmanthus in small arrangements, it has leaves like a holly but they don’t feel quite as prickly and they are clustered together in a way I find more useful. It grows well in my heavy clay soil so I have three different ones, plain, and two variegated ones.

Box is a useful filler, I also like to use herbs such as purple sage and rosemary as it gives a nice scent to the arrangement. My herbs were new shrubs this year so I just snipped a little rosemary. I also managed a little snip of a pretty little purple hebe I planted in the spring, it adds a touch of colour.

Eunonymous is another good tough variegated shrub which is happy to lose a few sprigs at this time of year. I’ve a prostrate juniper in the front garden too which is mainly gree with just the odd wisp of cream.

I usually have a little wander up the back lane as there is a lovely big tree ivy which has wonderful seedheads, next to it is the usual creeping ivy which I usually manage to find a few strands with nice little leaves. By the end of my forage I usually have a good basket of foliage.

For the last few years I’ve used a candelabra for my Advent ring, I got it cheap on Otley market and it just nicely holds an 8″ ring of oasis. Oasis is quite rightly getting some bad press at the moment as it is not biodegradable, they’ve come up with an alternative which is half biodegradable but what use is that!! Hopefully the flower arranging community will come up with a better plan soon.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0010.jpg

I’m no flower arranger, my usual method is just to go round the oasis with four sprigs of this, four sprigs of that until I can’t see the oasis anymore! I put my daily Advent candle in the middle and surround it with the four candles for the four Sundays in Advent. I managed to break one of the candles when I was trying to secure it in the candle holders, they were a set of four I found at my mum’s house so I wasn’t going to go out and buy another four! I managed to stick it back together by melting a bit of the wax, unfortunately that left a big sooty mark on the candle, although it’s not as bad as it looks in the photo!! I’ve decided to use that one first so it will burn down the furthest and hopefully pass the smudge!

My finishing touch is a length of tiny LED lights, these make it pretty even when the candles aren’t lit. Every Sunday we light one more candle so on the Sunday before Christmas we will light all four candles as well as the central one. Christmas will soon be here!

Advent Ring
Posted in Christmas, Crafts, Garden, Serendipity | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Tall Year Square Etui SAL

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my progress on this Betsy Morgan project, I’ve been busy with Christmas makes but I have managed a bit of stitching. Three weeks ago I was here…

I’d just started the lid to my etui box. This side is in the winter colours. I’ve had to study the colours I’ve used to try and get them to match the sides as much as possible.

I’ve made a fair bit of progress as autumn and summer are now complete and I’m half way through spring. I’ve had to change some of the colours as I no longer had one or two of the variegated flosses and I’ve no idea where they came from. Hopefully they blend in enough.

This is where I am now…

I’ve a little more outline stitching to do and the rest of the spring borders, it shouldn’t take me too long. Next to be stitched is a few rows on the inside pockets and then I start the somewhat scary bit of putting it all together!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea, we post every three weeks on our own choice of projects, it’s a great way to keep motivated! If you would like to join us please contact Avis. Please follow the links to check everyone elses progress, there’s some beautiful projects to see

 AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHelenStephLindaHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyTonyMeganCatherineDeborahConnieClare

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

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

Christmas Snowflake

Last month I needed to make something for the Christmas Decoration Swap organised by Deborah of Sweet Fallen Angels, it had to be a surprise so hence no spoilers on here! It took me a while to think what to do, it needed to be fairly quick to sew, like two or three evenings, which ruled out cross-stitch, but I wanted it to look good. I turned to Pinterest for a bit of inspiration and finally decided to embroider a snowflake, well a snowflake with artistic license as mine has eight points to it instead of six!

I looked through my scrap box and found some lovely dark blue Liberty lawn left over from a dress I made in the summer. It was perfect for a midnight blue sky colour. It’s fairly fine cotton so I laid some calico behind to give it a bit of strength. I wanted to mark the eight points on the fabric to try and keep it neat and even. I thought about pencil but I decided to use my hera marker, I’ve only used it for making bias binding before. I was amazed how sharp and visible a line it made.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0002-1.jpg

I embroidered a ‘baseline’ snowflake pattern in a variegated DMC thread in very light greys and blues using back stitch and fly stitch. I decided to add a bit of sparkle – Christmas decs always need a bit of sparkle! I used an Anchor Lame silver thread, it’s the only metallic thread I’ve found that I actually enjoy stitching with! I stitched a clear sequin in the centre and used the silver thread to make a star shape around it. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0003.jpg

I then started embellishing it with beads and sequins and adding further silver stitches to echo the original fly stitches…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_00041.jpg

… The bit I found difficult was knowing when to stop! I started to add further fly stitches in silver but I decided it detracted from the design.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0003-11.jpg

I embroidered the snowflake in the little 4″ hoop because that’s how I wanted to present it, I seem to have acquired half a dozen of this size hoop. I’m never quite sure how to finish a hoop embroidery at the back so I sort of made it up as I went a long! I place a circle of fleece and a circle of card in the back, trimmed the calico as short as I could and the Liberty lawn to about half an inch. I then dabbled with glue to stick it to the inside rim of the hoop. A final circle of felt neatened it all off. I made a length of cord to hang it with and my decoration was ready.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_0004-11.jpg

I’m really pleased with my snowflake, I’m almost tempted to make one for myself as well!

Embroidered Snowflake by thecraftycreek
Posted in Christmas, Crafts, embroidery, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 20 Comments