Splendid Sampler 2

I tried to resist, I really did!

I have succumbed again to Pat Sloan’s Splendid Sampler! I learnt so much with the first Splendid Sampler quilt and at least this time I haven’t got another two BOM’s to keep up with as well! The Splendid Sampler is a quilt-a-long organised by Pat together with Jane Davison. A new 6.5″ block is released every Thursday for a year, giving a total of 100 blocks. What makes this special is that the blocks are designed by over 80 different quilters from all over the world, so you get lots of different styles and techniques. If you’re not keen on a block it really doesn’t matter, you only have to make one!

One thing that is slightly different this year is that the first twenty blocks will be released on line for free, after that you have to buy the book. I still haven’t decided if I’ll just make twenty or keep going.

My original plan was to make a scrappy quilt, my scrap boxes are overflowing! I did start rummaging round but I couldn’t get inspired. I then remembered some soft blue and grey fabrics I have in my stash. I think I bought them over time thinking they would work either with the last SS or my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, they didn’t so they sat in my stash. I’m wanting a pair of blue/grey quilts as throws for the chairs in our dining room. The colour scheme is a lovely peaceful silvery grey and soft blue. We’ve just had the chairs reupholstered so I want throws to protect them from Zach if he sneaks up.DSC_0003 (3)

So I’m sticking with my plan not to buy any fabric for this quilt, just use from my stash. I’ve collected quite a few fabrics in greys, blues and a few teals, as well as off whites. The only one I’m not sure about at the moment is the blue with wiggly lines on. It’s in for now, even if I just use it a few times.

The first block was designed by Alex Veronelli, he’s called it Quilt Market.

DSC_0005 (2)

It went together pretty easily, though it did seem a bit wasteful when so much was trimmed off! I’ve decided to add a simple sashing as I go and I’ll hopefully quilt them pretty much straight away too. I’m planning to use different fabrics for the sashing.DSC_0006 (2)

So here is my first block completed!DSC_0007 (2)

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

Our roses are just starting to bloom at the moment, each bush just has a few open. I was visiting Kew Gardens in London at the weekend and they are clearly at least a couple of weeks ahead of us at least as their roses are in full flower, in fact they need a bit of dead heading! I’ll show you Kew photos another day, in the meantime, this one is called Teasing Georgia, she climbs over the arch by the patio and hopefully meets the clematis going the other way a bit later in the summer.Teasing Georgia

The candelabra primulas are looking lovely, sitting next to the pond by Hubert the Heron. They’re only visible from the path at the moment as the solomons seal in front of them really need cutting down.Candelabra Primulas

I rather like astrantia, luckily they like my soil too so I’ve got several different colours. I think my favourite is the deep red one, but I also like the lighter one with larger sepals, I’d admired this one in my mums garden a few times and as her house is now on the market I decided to move it! It’s in a pot temporarily until I decided where it’s going to go. It will also have to wait until I buy a new spade as I managed to break mine last week!

Fox-tail lilyI thought I had a red hot poker about to flower in the Amber & Amethyst garden until my friend wandered round the garden and admired my foxtail lily (eremurus) she was quite jealous as she’s tried to grow one a few times. It’s just started coming into flower and it is a beautiful shade of amber….

I’d still like a red hot poker though, not the bright gaudy ones but the softer coloured varieties.

The geranium at the bottom of the steps has flopped a bit, I think I’m going to have to put a support in somehow. This one is a bit of a giant and can be somewhat thuggish, but the soil is so bad there I can forgive it! I think this variety is called Ann Folkard. English Summer Garden

I planted a black sambuscus a few years ago, the foliage is beautiful, I usually give it a hard prune each spring to keep it under control, but as we’ve now got a large expanse of fence to cover I’ve left it this year, so it’s rewarding me with a lovely display of flowers. I think I’m going to have to prune the long over-hanging branches though. The roses on the top of the arbour are also looking pretty, this ones called Gentle Hermione. It looks lovely from Helen’s bedroom window.

English Summer Garden

The stone owl on the fence usually makes me smile, my OH gave it to me a few years ago for my birthday. Whilst it has always been on display, I never had anywhere up high where he would look his best but also be safe, you really don’t want that falling on your head. As soon as I realised that one of our neighbours fence posts was a few inches lower than the rest I knew where owl was going to go. He looks great up there and if he should fall off in high wind he’s got a soft landing and shouldn’t do any damage either. When I put it up there my OH expressed concern that it might frighten the little birds off, within two minutes of him saying this a sparrow sat on the owls head! Clearly birds are not that easily taken in !


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Tall Year Square Etui SAL

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my etui box, it’s a design in Classic Inspirations by Betsy Morgan. Three weeks ago I was about half way through summer, the frog was leaping from the lily pads and I was just about to start stitching my favourite part…Tall Year Square

…the dragonflies! Three weeks later and it’s mini happy dance time!! I have finished summer!

I have to admit I was so keen to stitch the dragonflies I had finished them within a couple of days of the last post, I’m really pleased with them, I love their wings, I used DMC 4030 which has gorgeous shades of blue and green, perfect for a dragonfly! The bodies were stitched on DMC 4515 which is a lovely mix of brown and teal. By chance the first one I stitched had the head in brown and the tail in blue, it worked so well I tried to replicate it with the other three, not so easy with variegated threads!Tall Year Square Etui

The top borders stitched up fairly easily, I even managed the numbers without any major mistakes! At the end of the row I could put my initials and the date, I’ve optimistically put this year, so I hope I get it finished in time!Tall Year Square Etui

I just need to find some small enough beads for my frog’s googly eyes, otherwise it will be french knots! In the centre of the dragonflies there will be a pearl button too, but I think I’ll wait to finish all four sides before I add them. Apart from those two minor points, summer is complete…Tall Year Square Etui

I even managed to stitch the extra frog for the correlating side of the thimbleholder inside, I do like the way the variegated threads change so much around the square, this is stitched using one floss for the big cross-stitch and another for the little embossing stitches at the corners…Tall Year Square Etui

I’m really pleased with how the colours worked out in the end, I really wasn’t sure at the beginning, particularly with the purple, but I think it looks very English cottage garden. Next time I post I will hopefully have chosen my colours for autumn and made a start.

The border patterns run around the sides so spring and summer together look like this;

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, we post our progress every three weeks, it’s a great incentive to crack on with a project. If you would like to join in please just send Avis a message, otherwise just follow the links to see everyone else’s hand stitching.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina,

Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Mary Margaret,

Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Tony, Megan, Timothy



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Tiny Photos

It’s Friday already so it’s time for the Friday Photo Challenge organised by Postcard from Gibraltar. Today’s theme is tiny, so I looked back through my photos for little things…Blackbird by Nicola Jarvis

The seeding stitches on my blackbird are pretty tiny. I’ve stitched a little more on this one but not enough to show you yet!Needlepoint cat pillow

The stitches on this cat embroidery are seriously small, needlepoint over one thread, I made it about 25 years ago, I don’t think I would tackle it now!

This pincushion is pretty tiny, I made it several years ago, it was a pattern in Classic Inspirations magasine. It holds a thimble inside too.

Splendid Sampler Blocks so far!

These were some of the early Splendid Sampler blocks, some of the pieces were tiny, I used to drown them in spray starch to make them more controllable! There’s a new Splendid Sampler starting this week over on Pat Sloans website, it’s a great way to learn new techniques, I’m thinking of making one just from my scrap box. It’s the same format as before, one 6.5″ block each week, the main difference is that only the first twenty will be free, after that you need to buy the book. I’ll see how I feel when I get to twenty whether I just make a throw with what I’ve got or take the plunge and buy the book.

If you fancy seeing more tiny things, follow the link to Postcard from Gibraltar. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a picture of Zach trying to be tiny!

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Travelling Sketchbook Time

Our travelling sketchbooks are on the rounds again at my Embroiderers Guild, we have each book for a month so we can have a think and stitch a little embroidery on the chosen theme. The theme of the book I have for this month is ‘Down the Microscope’…

I pondered for a long time about this one, trust me, there’s not a lot on Pinterest if you try a search on there! Someone at Guild suggested I did something from work, I work part-time in a Cardiac Catheter Lab, so we’re putting stents in peoples hearts when they have heart attacks, pacemakers and defibs, babies with heart problems and electrical studies too. I pointed out that it was actually all done under X-ray, not a microscope, she felt it was near enough!!

The next day I was working in the electro-physiology lab, looking after people with problems with the electrics of their heart, usually resulting in it going too fast or in the wrong rhythm. One nifty piece of kit we use is called Carto, it maps how the impulse travels across the heart making in the process some very colourful images. It’s quite amazing to watch, this is a photo of what we’re looking at.

Ooh, I thought, that could make an embroidery! After the case I asked the consultant if he happened to have any pictures of Carto I could have, he asked what for…an embroidery, I replied with a smile! His face was a picture!! He sort of glazed over when I started talking about sequins and french knots! The next day he sorted out a picture for me, it was quite amusing as he was flicking through images trying to find a perfect image, despite me explaining that it wasn’t going to be an anatomically correct embroidery, just a general impression.

As usual I’ve left it til pretty much the eleventh hour. Initially I tried silk painting the main colours, but they actually looked too drab. I started looking through my scrap box, silks first but they were the wrong shades. I then spotted scraps left over from my Kaffe Fassett quilt, red and blue, I found another scrap of green and purple and a square of dappled black and I was sorted.

I used bondaweb to fix the shapes, on the whole I cut out the individual shapes rather than layering them so the piece didn’t get too thick to stitch. I started the embroidery with the yellow line, using buttonhole and then chain stitch. The bright blue line is a length of woven tape in a mixed embroidery thread bag, I stitched it on with herringbone stitch. Some shiny purple thread joined the blue and the purple using feather stitch and fly stitch.

The pink sequins represent the areas we have ablated (treated with a small burn) and the french knots are the measuring points used to construct the 3D image.

I took it into work today to show the consultant, I think he liked it as he said he needs a set of twelve in A4 size!!! My colleague diagnosed it as a focal tachycardia!Carto embroidery

It’s not my usual style at all, but it was fun to stitch, let’s hope next month’s sketchbook is an easier topic 🙂

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A Field of Flowers Finish!

A couple of days ago I showed you my field of flowers embroidery, the actual embroidery was a kit from Anne Brooke, I then decided to make it into a little wall hanging using log cabin patchwork.

This is where I was when I last showed you…Embroidered filed of flowers

I spray basted the finished piece onto some batting with that pretty meadow-sweet fabric on the back. I did some very simple quilting, just a square round the flowers and again next to the next seam.

Just in time I remembered Claire had a clever way of adding hanging corners by folding a square in two to make a triangle and stitching one either side of the top edge. I think it makes a pretty neat hanger!

I added another strip of the purple flowered fabric to bind the bottom edge and then hand stitched them all over to the backing.

The front needed a little something else…

A while ago I bought some tiny mother of pearl buttons just for this kind of project, I think they are 8mm and 6mm, I stitched an 8mm one in each square along the bottom. I was planning to put a charm in the top right hand corner but the only ones I had were silver and it just looked too shiney, I tried a bigger button, still not right. In the end I stitched a tiny pink bead at the end of each feather stitch and called it a day!Field of Flowers Embroidery

I rather like my field of flowers, I think I will hang it just next to my computer in my sewing room.


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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

I spent most of Saturday working in the garden, weeding (the never-ending job!!) planting and also cutting back some shrubs on the drive that had got a bit out of hand. I realised whilst I was deep in the shrubbery that my viburnum was looking very miserable, all it’s leaves were shredded, I think I’ve got an attack of the viburnum beetle! I don’t know if it was the best thing to do but I’ve cut it back hard and taken all the waste to the tip. My other viburnum is just the same so I’m going to have to cut that one back too!

The top of the drive is looking happier, the ceanothus is in full flower and it is buzzing with bees, they are so loud it’s like walking past a hive! It smells lovely too, like honey, the scent mixes in with the philadelphus on the other side, gorgeous!Ceanothus

There’s another philadelphus in the patio area, if anyone fancies one but doesn’t have much room I can recommend this one, I’m pretty sure it’s called Belle Etoile, it must be over ten years old now but it’s barely 2′ tall. It has the usual pretty creamy white flowers.Philadelphus Belle Etoile

Sometimes when I’m gardening I happen to see something from a different angle and it takes me by surprise. I was weeding the AA garden, spraying the bindweed and the marestail and I stood at the back of the bed by the shed roof, just a few feet from the obelisk. It did look pretty, foxgloves in all shades of pink and purple, with bees going in and out, two types of clematis with huge flowers, a gorgeous plum poppy which has just come out and a deep burgandy astrantia at the far side. Alot of it is self seeded, it’s also where I ‘dumped’ a lot of plants when I was trying to clear the beds, it was like a holding bay and things haven’t necessarily been moved on. It looked a bit messy earlier in the year but it looks great now!

I’m not sure which poppy it is, I don’t think it’s Patties Plum, but it has lovely shaggy, pleated petals, there’s a few more come into flower today.English summer garden

Over by the summerhouse I have huge peony, like it must be 3′ tall and across, it has just started flowering and they are beautiful, huge bowls of a sort of deep coral pink, much simpler than the usual peony flower. It’s just in front of the Cotinus Coggrhia with it’s dark red leaves, so they look good together.peony

The pond garden is still looking good, the solomons seal hasn’t been shredded by flies this year so it still looks OK, the hostas are seriously huge! On the far side blue iris are just coming into flower and some candelabra primulas are just hiding from the camera! I think the white fluffy plant on the right is thalictrum.Pond Garden

The best irises at the moment are down in the patio around the bird bath, they are a wonderful intense blue with a fine silver edge. My mum gave me a clump years ago, it’s been divided several times, they are in awful soil but thety just seem to thrive!Iris

I’ve just started a major clearance job in the front garden, marestail, thistle and bindweed, I think I need to bulk buy some weed killer!




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A Field of Flowers

In my attempt to sew some of my stock of kits this year I decided to stitch a little embroidery I bought probably over two years ago at Yarndale. It’s a design by Anne Brooke, I love her designs, especially Harold the Hare, I saw him first at an Embroiderers Guild meeting, he is amazing. At Yarndale she had some little kits of pre-printed cotton just waiting to be embroidered.

I have to be honest and say |I was a little disappointed when I got home to find there wasn’t any instructions, or even a picture suggesting ways to embroider it, all there was with the printed design was a hoop, grey and ecru floss and a few mini buttons. Hence it has sat in my to do box ever since! To be fair to Anne, looking on her website these kits are no longer sold, her current kits include suggestions of stitches and a photo, they generally look a lot more comprehensive… and mine was just a little inexpensive one!Embroidered filed of flowers

I decided to bite the bullet and start! I chose a few variegated DMC threads which I thought would give a pretty but more muted effect. I started to stitch the grass seed heads first, I used fly stitch, making it a bit bigger than the printed area to make it look feathery. The stalks are stem stitch. Both are stitched in DMC 4065.

Half way through the seedheads I thought I really should embroider this from the background to the foreground so I stitched the wavy lines next, I’m not sure if they are hills or clouds, but I just used a running stitch in 4020.Embroidered filed of flowers

I stitched the tall, spindly plant next, I decided it could be like a wild lupin with tiny blue flowers. I used 4506 which is green, blue, grey and beige. Where possible I used the green and the blue for the french knot flowers and the lighter shades for the stems.

I thought the big flowers with their tall centres could be echinacea (purple cone flower) I stitched the cones with long and short stitch and just lazy-daisy for the petals. My only niggle with these is I feel the cones are a bit big, but I love the way the long and short stitch has worked out!

The buttercups were just edged in split-stitch, mainly because I couldn’t think what else to do with them! The grass along the bottom is actually buttonhole stitch made with irregular stitches.Embroidered filed of flowers

Having stitched it I then had to decide what to do with it! A pincushion, a needlecase, a hoop picture…I decided to make a mini wall hanging with different fabrics and stitching, I’ve seen rather a lot on Pinterest and I do like the effect. This would be a bit of a practise piece too as I’ve lots of my mothers work, both finished and unfinished and I’d like to put them in a textile book made up of pages like this.

I like the ones with a mismatch of squares and rectangles, but it was a bit too random for me to try first! I started with log cabin, light at the top and darker at the bottom, using mainly bits from my scrap bin. The bee was added because my chosen fabric wasn’t quite long enough! The bottom squares was a strip left over from my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt.Embroidered filed of flowers

Having made a two strip wide log cabin I felt it didn’t quite look right. I turned the two sides in a bit and the balance looked so much better!Embroidered filed of flowers

I’ve stitched a little embroidery along the inner strips using feather, fly and herringbone stitch. I then stitched three flowers up the final side.Embroidered filed of flowers

My plan now is to sandwich it with some batting, do some very simple quilting before turning the extra borders over as binding. I’ll stitch a final purple binding along the bottom. Some mini buttons, maybe some beads or a charm will just finish it off.


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Friday Photo Challenge

This weeks photo challenge is taking a bit more thinking. The themes are set by Postcard form Gibraltar and this week the word is line. I started flicking back through my photos…

My quilting lines are getting better, practice makes perfect…well maybe not quite perfect but good enough for me!hand quilting

The classical lines of Piece Hall in Halifax. This original cloth market has been fully restored recently.DSC_0018 (1)

The quilting lines on the back of my Chanel jacket, this is the lining which shows the lines much better. I’ve just collected it from having the buttonholes stitched as I couldn’t get the layers underneath my buttonhole foot without damaging the loose weave of the tweed. Hopefully it will soon be finished.Making a Chanel Jacket

Helens quilt had lines of elephants in lots of different colours of batik fabric.Nelly's Parade

Of course I had to find some garden photos, these are lines of echinacea, tulips and helenium.

Finally, lines of cross-stitch on my Tall Year Square Etui box, I’ve managed to do a fair bit of stitching on this over the last few days so I’ll have plenty to show you at the next SAL in ten days time!Tall Year Square

There will be links to lots of lines over on Postcard from Gibraltar, so follow the link at the top to see everyone elses photos.

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One Stitch at a Time

This is a cross-stitch I started on holiday in March, finished in mid April and it’s been sitting, patiently waiting to be made up ever since. I finally got round to it over the last couple of days.Craft by Rovaris

The design is by Rovaris, a designer from Italy who sells on Etsy, the two little charms come with the pattern. The chart was nice and easy to follow and it made up nicely, all I had to do was make it into something!

I decided to double mount it with a blue fabric underneath. I cut some card and laced the cross-stitch round it. I chose some blue quilting cotton that came from my mums, she’d made it into a tablecloth and napkins and I did have an idea of cutting it up to make a quilt as there were lots of different blue prints. That idea has now gone out of the window as I found to my surprise that it has a significant one way stretch! It’s not quilting cotton after all!! I decided to keep going with this particular fabric as I felt it wouldn’t make that much difference, it would be manageable.

I glued the blue to the backing card, trying to have some of the pink pattern round each side. I thought I’d cracked it until I tried the cross-stitch on top, pink pattern on three sides only and it stood out a mile!Craft by Rovaris

I rescued it by using the back instead, which was the side fully covered by fabric. I glued the two sides together and left it overnight with a heavy book on top!Craft by Rovaris

The back is still unfinished, I’m planning to buy some soft blue felt from Cool Crafting next time I’m in Skipton to finish it off. This colour looks fine, but that’s the only piece I have.

I felt it needed a little trimmimg, I made some cord from three lengths of floss, blue, red and beige, to coordinate with the cross-stitch. It was a long piece to twist, the longest I’ve ever done, the general rule is three times the length of cord you need. Usually I’m stood by the door with it attached to the spool holder of my sewing machine, twisting away. This time I was half way across the landing! I get to get my OH to help with folding it in half!

After all that trouble, it didn’t look right!! The colours just looked too drab. I played around with trims in my stash and found that the soft pink ric-rac looked best. I put a fine line of glue down the edge and eased the trim half under the cross-stitch.

I still needed a hanger, so I used a length of the cord I had made and just hand-stitched it to each corner.

It’s already hanging in my sewing room, though I might leave it under a heavy book for the night as it seems to have developed a slight twirl!Craft by Rovaris


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