There is no Planet B

I’m a member of Skipton Stitchers, formerly of the Embroiders Guild, every couple of years we hold an exhibition, showing the community our wide range of styles, hopefully encouraging people to take up a needle and thread and maybe joining our friendly group.

We did have an exhibition planned for 2020 with the theme of There is no Planet B. This obviously got cancelled and when we finally reopened we exhibited stitching we had done in lockdown instead.

This year we decided to hold an exhibition with the ‘There is no Planet B’ title. This covers a wide range of work, for example using recycled textiles or natural world themes. It’s being held this weekend in Skipton at Christchurch.

Unfortunately I can’t be there as my OH and I had planned a weekend in London to meet up with family visiting from Australia. I’ve just tested positive to covid so my plans are scuppered anyway and I’ve been banished to my sewing room!

I do have a few things being exhibited though…

Some people hesitated about including the Stitching Bee Challenge piece (mine is the spiral above) as they felt their stitching wasn’t the usual standard, as in true GBSB fashion we had 1.5 hours to produce something from identical fabric swatches. I argued that just showing amazing and perfect stitching could put people off joining, I know when I was deciding which group to join a nearby group had some stunning work on their website and my thought was that I wasn’t good enough. Hopefully enough people have included their pieces so we can display them together.

So if you are within striking distance of Skipton this weekend, I recommend a visit, I think there’s a £2 entrance fee just to help us cover costs but there is some beautiful and very varied work on show.

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Moon gazing.

We went to see the moon at Bolton Abbey on Monday, well to be precise we went to see Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon.

I happened to see a photo on facebook of the moon and thought it looked worth a visit, it was! The moon is a 7m inflatable sphere made of 120 NASA photos to make a model of the moon. It was hung in the Priory church at Bolton Abbey and it was amazing to see.

It meant we could also see ‘the dark side of the moon’, we googled the features of the moon so we could identify all the various seas on the moon, I didn’t realise there were so many. We could also identify some of the bigger craters.

Apparently the seas are not seas at all, just giant plains created by asteroid strikes and volcanic activity

It did make me wonder…and this may sound a silly question…but do those of you who live down under see the moon the other way up!!!

After our moon gazing we walked along the River Wharfe as far as the Strid, this is where the river narrows to a very narrow gorge. The autumn colours were lovely, though it was somewhat busier than I expected as it’s half term week for schools so there were lots of kiddies doing a pumpkin trail.

The moon is a travelling exhibition covering several countries, so if you fancy a visit or just learning more about it just follow the link to the website. It’s going to be at Bolton Abbey until October 31st.

Altogether we walked about 6.5 miles, a comfortable distance at the moment.

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David Austin Roses

I’ve just finished my embroidery of some of the David Austin roses in my garden…I have quite a few!

David Austin started breeding roses back in 1961 and he managed to breed roses which both looked beautiful and had a strong scent, but also repeat flowered, there wasn’t just a flush in June. I still have roses flowering in my garden now in mid October.

I’m making an embroidered book about our garden so I decided to embroider a page about the various different roses we have. I love all the different names of the roses, A Lark Ascending, This Scepter’d Isle, Gentle Hermione… I decided to do like a wheel of rose names with an embroidered rose towards the middle.

Initially I was just planning to write the names on the fabric with a sepia coloured pen. Unfortunately the pen I tried first, despite a test run, was clearly too heavy, however I’d already spent considerable time stitching the wheel shape so I wasn’t going to start again…

I decided to embroider all the words with back-stitch. You can see on the working progress photo below how Desdemona (at 3 o’clock) is heavier than the others

I stitched the roses first using bullion knots and sometimes a French knot or three in the middle, depending on how open the rose is.

I decided to stitch the names in the same colour as the leaves. I just picked some random shades of green for the foliage, I decided not to try and match it to the real thing as it was just going to get too complicated. It also worked well as I stitched the leaves and then the name, rather than settling down to stitch all the names in the same colour at the end.

Desdemona still shows up heavier but I don’t think it’s quite so obvious and I do like the idea that my hand writing is stitched into the book. It would have looked slightly better I think if I had written the names on the left side the other way round so they weren’t upside down but that would have been quite tricky, working out how long a name will be so that you start it in the right place to get them all finishing neatly in the middle…you get the drift!

A good press removed all the Frixion pen marks and I’m really pleased with the piece.

Posted in embroidery, Garden, Serendipity, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Exploding Hearts

Over the last two to three weeks I’ve been working on a new quilt, I should have started it ages ago, it’s a wedding present for the young couple who married in May! In my defence I only got the colour preferences about a month before the wedding so there was no chance of having it made in time for the big day…and well the weeks and months pass by! I’m not very good without a deadline!

The bride and groom asked for sage green and creams. There didn’t seem to be much selection of greens in the local shops so I ordered a few fat quarters on line. It’s amazing how different two fabrics called sage green can be! Colour is very subjective, hopefully the end result will be sage green enough! I was pleased with the creams though which were mainly I think from B&M fabrics in Leeds, two have lots of hearts on and the more golden one has the words ‘threaded with love’ on. Very apt I thought!

For a pattern I chose one called Exploding Heart by Slice of Pi. With hindsight I might have been better choosing one which wasn’t quite so labour intensive but it’s a design which I’ve admired for a while. There’s lots of half square triangles and quarter square triangles, I started making the ones for the centre heart first which actually worked out better than I thought as I fairly quickly realised the centre squares needed to be in the darker shades of green with a few of the more gold ones interspersed. I’ve arranged them on my design wall and started stitching the rows across. How ever much you look at a quilt before you stitch it, there’s always one a little wrong that you don’t notice, I’ve spotted two triangles the same colour already but they’re staying!

Some of the fabric designs may seem pretty random but there was thought behind it! The bride is from a farming family, she’s spent many a happy day on her grandad’s and uncle’s farm, so there’s a grey/sage with farm animals on, another has cats on as they have two cats, another one is actually Gruffalo fabric but it’s a perfect sage green and I like the little pops of orange, they reminded me of her beautiful red hair. There’s a cream one with lines of music on too as she plays the saxophone very well.

Once I’d pieced the main heart I decided I needed to just settle down and make all the other blocks before I try and arrange them. There’s five different variations of pieced blocks, depending on how many cream triangles and how many green. It’s taken a while but I think I now have all the squares made, I have several piles on my cutting table!

I love how the sheep is peeping out of the block!

It’s a fair-sized quilt, about 72″ square when finished, so it’s not going to be easy to arrange them all as that’s bigger than my design wall! I might have to resort to the floor for the outer blocks, but hopefully soon I’ll be able to show you a finished top.

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Staying Home HQAL

Well I’ve finally started quilting the sashings so it does feel like I’ve made some real progress this week, even though it was only a couple of evenings…

Three weeks ago I had sussed out how to quilt the house blocks, I made the windows bigger and also whip-stitched the quilting line. The main pieces of the houses are stitched in the ditch so although the quilting lines are hidden in the seam you still get the effect of quilting.

I’ve been prevaricating since I started the quilting how to do the sashings, they’re quite wide as there’s the 2″ borders round each block and then the 2″ squares in between. I liked the idea of hearts as I think it nicely links in with the Staying Home name of the quilt, ‘Home is where the Heart’ is and all that.

I folded a sheet of A4 paper in half three times to get a 1/8th segment and cut half a heart out free hand, leaving me with a circle of four hearts. I could then check it size-wise against the quilt and trim it accordingly. I’ve used a Frixion pen to trace round the hearts but just with dots or dashes, I’m still wary of pens on fabric even if they are meant to disappear!

I quilted two sets of hearts and then decided to add another two hearts to fill the gap in between. I’m still not sure if I have the spacing right for these two but I think it will stay pretty much as it is.

So I think I’ve quilted three houses, two embroidered blocks and one strip of hearts…so quite a bit to do still but as it’s a 25 block quilt it’s not an overwhelming amount!!In fact looking at the photo below of the quilt before I sandwiched it it’s quite encouraging, almost a line quilted!! Maybe I should aim for that next time I post, at least a full line quilted!

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, Daisy, and  Cathie

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the links to see what everyone has been stitching.

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

Stitch a Garden SAL

Well I have my dancing shoes on! Last night I finished – ish my stitched patio garden for my fabric book about my garden. I say -ish as I might just put a few more stitches on it…might!

This is the piece that was inspired by the on-line course I did called ‘Stitch – a – garden’ by Nicki Franklyn of the Stitchery. It was an excellent course and gave me lots of ideas about different stitches to use and painting my fabric. I’m sure she’ll be repeating it if any one is interested. The course was aimed at one picture, like a map of the garden, as my walls are full of pictures I decided to make a book instead. As our back garden neatly divides into three areas I’m stitching a map of each one, this is the first!

Three weeks ago I was just finishing stitching the raised bed but I still had a lot of stitching for the border by the conservatory…

I’ve been a busy bee stitching the lower border, adding roses on the big standard rose bush, peonies, brunnera, rhodedendron, hebe, irises, together with several others which nicely fill gaps in. My last few stitches were little seed stitches in variegated brown to just represent the soil, they just help the areas between the plants to look stitched rather than forgotton about.

I wasn’t sure when I started stitching this piece how the perspectives would work out, I have mixed up view points but I think it works, possibly because it is so busy! The main structures are pictured as from above, possibly just above the arch, so the arbour shape is seen and the rose arch is straight across the path, the pots and planters are circles with stitching in the middle. The flowers are pictured as viewed from standing in the patio so they will be sideways on when the page is in the portrait view as it will be in the book. This is the bit I procrastinated most about but I think it works.

The areas where I might just put a few more stitches are the two green bushes, one is a box and the other a eunonymous, so they are just plain green shrubs but I think the eye is drawn to those more than it should be.

I now need to stitch a similar ‘map’ of the beer garden AKA the amber and amethyst garden and the summerhouse garden too with the lawn and the pond. Hopefully they won’t take as long now I vaguely know what I’m doing, this one has taken about four months!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea, we post every three weeks on our own chosen project, just often enough to keep the motivation going. Please follow the links to see what everyone else is stitching.




Posted in embroidery, Garden, Stitch-a-long, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books, Workshops | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

David Austin Roses

I’ve got rather a lot of David Austin roses in my garden, at a rough estimate I’ve probably got about thirty different roses and about fifty actual rose bushes. David Austin was I think the first rose breeder to mix the repeat flowering of the floribundas with the heavy scent and beauty of the old roses, he calls them English Roses. I love learning the names when I buy a new rose, I’ve often given them as presents too, choosing a name that fits the occasion.

When I was thinking about what to include in my embroidered garden fabric book it seemed obvious to do a page on my roses. I’ve stitched a couple of standard roses and a length that could be a climbing rose…

…however I had an idea to embroider lots of the roses and their names. I pondered for a while about layout but eventually settled on a wheel with the roses radiating out like the spokes of a wheel. Having sketched out my thoughts on paper I chose some heavier weight vintage linen and used a Frixion pen to lightly mark the segments of the circle – I had to buy a protractor specially! Frixion pens are heat erasable so when you iron the fabric the marks disappear. It sounds great but there are potential issues their use on fabric is still up for debate. They are great for marking as it’s a nice fine pen and it does instantly disappear with the heat of an iron. However, the marks will return if the item gets very cold, such as in the hold of an aircraft, people have posted embroideries or quilts only to find all the marks had reappeared in transit. It is also not known what the long term effect on the fabric are, the manufacturers still don’t recommend them for use on fabric, I’ve also heard it said that over time it will rot the fabric. Despite this they are widely used in the quilting and embroidery world. I am planning to use them as little as possible.

Having drawn the grid of 16 segments I used a simple running stitch in a light green to mark them. I chose a sepia coloured gel pen to write all the names of the roses. I would have preferred to have all the names facing upwards, so changing direction half way, however this would mean writing into the circle and all the potential pitfalls of trying to get the word length right. It was much easier to write all the names from the middle outwards. I tried to have a nice gradient of colour round the wheel but I was also thinking of long names going into the longer corners, short ones at the side.

I embroidered the roses using bullion knots in various shades according to the rose portrayed..

My original plan was simply to write the names in the border, however having tested a permanent gel pen on a scrap I started writing Desdemona (right of picture) and immediately realised it was the slightly thicker one. I changed to the thinner pen which did look much better, but Desdemona stood out a mile!

Having thought of various cover-ups for the handwriting I decided to bite the bullet and embroider all the names. I’ve used several different shades of green, I have not tried to match the green with the actual leaf shade on the bush, I’ve just picked a colour out, stitched the leaves and the stem and then used the same shade to back-stitch over the writing. Stitching a leaf and then the name also nicely breaks up the monotony of embroidering over 16 names! I haven’t embroidered Desdemona yet but it’s already looking less obvious.

As you can see I still have half a dozen roses to finish but I’m really pleased so far and Desdemona doesn’t stand out as much all ready. I’m tempted to put a button in the middle, this could eithe be one from my button stash or one covered with a mini embroidery of the David Austion logo.Hopefully by next week I’ll be doing a happy dance!

I’ll be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts on Sunday for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link to see what everyone else has been stitching

Posted in embroidery, Garden, Serendipity, Stitching my Garden | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Stitch a Garden SAL

A couple of weeks ago I started embroidering a standard rose bush, I have two in my garden, Claire Austin which is a gorgeous creamy white and Roald Dahl which quitea lovely shade of peach.

I stitched Claire Austin a few weeks ago,,,

I then turned my head to Roald Dahl, painted the background again, stitched the stem with a whipped back-stitch and used slip stitch for the roses.

Having stitched the rose it was now time to turn to the small plants around the base. I found this embroidery more tricky to plan than most, I wanted to base it on plants that are there but include all seasons. I mainly used French knots and chain stitch.

The plants are meant to be erysimum, heuchera, hellebore and foxgloves.

I’m going to have start making these little embroideries into a page for my book…I have a few thoughts still being mulled over…if any one fancy’s stitching a garden then do have a look at The Stitchery as it is inspired by her course ‘stitch a garden’.

Posted in Serendipity | 9 Comments

Silver Linings

Every cloud has a silver lining and it certainly did at the weekend…

My daughter and I had a lovely few days up in the Lakes, we were staying near Lorton which is just over the Whinlatter Pass from Keswick, it’s the second time we’ve stayed around there and we find it a beautiful and convenient spot to stay in . Lorton is a tiny village but it’s handy for walking round both Derwentwater or Buttermere.

Whilst we had a great time the weather was somewhat inclement. On Friday to say it rained would be an understatement, it poured down and looked set in for the day, we had a mooch round the shops in Keswick, eventually buying a jigsaw at a charity shop before returning to our apartment in Lorton. We were about half way through the jigsaw when the weather finally lifted. We decided not to waste the day but to have a walk around Buttermere.

As we approached Buttermere we could see a waterfall cascading down the side of Red Pike…

It was the wonderfully named Sourmilk Gill in full spate, fed by Bleaberry Tarn near the top of Red Pike. I’ve been to Buttermere many times but I’ve never seen the gill like this.

We parked in Buttermere village and walked round to the waterfall, you could hear it from quite a distance. It was quite awe-inspiring, the water seemed to be flinging itself down the hillside.

We crossed the wooden bridge and walked round the lakeside path, getting pretty wet feet along the way! By the time we returned lots of people obviously had the same idea as the path from the village was pretty busy, we had timed it perfectly as when we were there we pretty much had the view of the waterfall to ourselves.

The light was beginning to fall as we returned to the car, making lovely reflections and pink shades on the fells. I think this one is called Whiteless Pike.

The next day we decided to walk up to Aira Force, a waterfall near Ullswater. This is a very popular tourist spot and lots of people clearly had the same idea. It was busy! It soon quietened down though when we continued up the fell past the upper falls and eventually out of the woods and up to the top of Gowbarrow Fell. Boy it was windy up there!!! The views were amazing though, this is what I love with walking the fells in the Lakes, you don’t have to get very high to have wonderful views with that top of the world feeling. The whole walk was only 4.5 miles long. This photo is taken with the panoramic setting so it’s very distorted but you get the idea…

The blue skies gave way to moody dark clouds and a little rain as we made our way down. However with sunshine and rain, you get rainbows! This one was a double rainbow too. We’ve not noticed this before but the colours on the outer rainbow were the opposite way round to the inner one. It’s hardly come out on the photo but it was really clear.

I’ve often seen Ullswater with a very moody sky and that afternoon was no exception. The rays bursting through the clouds onto the lake were beautiful…

…and yes we got wet again!

All in all it was a lovely weekend, it’s always nice to have some mother daughter time and yes we would have preferred a drier few days but with heavy rain we also got wonderful waterfalls, rainbows and moody skies, every cloud has it’s silver lining!

Posted in Walking | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Quilted Jacket

Over the last few months social media has been full of quilted jackets, a lot of shops are selling them and since they were featured as a challenge on The Great British Sewing Bee they pop up regularly on instagram and pinterest.

I’ve been mulling over whether to make one or not all summer so when a blog I follow called From My Carolina Home announce a stitch-a-long to make a quilted jacket it gave me the impetus I needed to do it.

Over several weeks there were posts about choosing a pattern, making the quilted fabric if you needed to, cutting out, finishing the inside etc, lots of helpful information to help me on my way. Whilst I didn’t managed to do it at the same time, it did prove a very useful resource.

One of my early quilts was a king size one based on a stained glass window we have at home. It’s a lovely quilt, but being an early one I can see all the mistakes, I made it before I had any cutting equipment, so pieces were measured with a tape measure and cut with scissors! It was on our bed for several years but the gold patterns on some of the squares had gone green and to be honest it got usurped as my quilting improved. I made another three king size quilts and even having given one to family, there is a limit as to how many king-size quilts I need.

I decided it could make a stunning quilted jacket!

I chose a pdf pattern from Clothworks Collective on Etsy and spent an evening sellotaping all the pieces together. For sizing I measured my standard winter jackets and made it a similar size and it does fit nicely.

It was with some trepidation and a lot of prevaricating that I finally cut out the pieces. I spent quite a while deciding which parts of the pattern I wanted to use and how it would work. My original plan was to have the bottom border of the quilt as the lower hem of the jacket. I decided against patch pockets as it would spoil the line of the pattern. The pattern also had the collar cut on the bias, where as I wanted the quilt pattern to be straight across the collar.

The making of the quilted jacket wasn’t exactly the stress free experience I was hoping for! I did find a few areas of the instructions difficult to follow; I couldn’t follow their method for stitching the collar on at all, in the end I just stitched it as I have done in previous garments. The collar was a tad small as of course I hadn’t cut mine on the bias so I had to fudge bits. The sleeves also caused some consternation, the jacket in the pattern had turn up cuffs, I didn’t want the quilt backing as a turn up as it’s quite a bright gold colour so I was using some of the border strips as a cuff. I tried to follow the instructions but again I struggled to understand how they were creating the turn-up. In the end I just cut off the turn-up and stitched some binding round the hem. Fitting the sleeve into the armhole also caused stress as the sleeve was smaller than the armhole. I was anticipating easing the sleeve head into the arm scythe as usual, but instead I had to ease the armhole onto the sleeve!

Trying it on I was a tad disappointed, it just didn’t look balanced…

It may have improved with a bit of bias binding along the border seams but I decided it was the length that was wrong for the quilt design. I decided to cut it off at the green border at hip length and I think it was the right decision.

One question that often comes up with quilted jackets is how to finish the seams on the inside. I started off doing what I think are called Hong Kong seams, binding each side with some bias. It made for a pretty bulky seam too. Later seams I just zigzagged, partly as by this time I’d run out of binding! I am tempted now to buy some more bias and cover the seams more neatly.

I used some black bias binding to finish the bottom edge. The buttons are from my stash and have a pearly purple and green finish, sounds strange but they seem to work. Buttonholes were a nightmare, despite a practise run that went smoothly, my machine decided to play up half way through three of them, in the end I just stitched another buttonhole over the top!

Well I am pretty pleased with the finished jacket, I just have to pluck up the courage to wear it in public – it is quite striking!

I wore it for the first time last weekend when I went to the Northern Quilt Show in Harrogate. I decided if I didn’t have the courage to wear it there it would end up just sitting in my wardrobe!! Luckily I got quite a few lovely comments from other ladies wandering round the show which was nice. I’ll probably find I mainly wear it to places such a quilt shows or embroidery events, I’m not sure it’s quite the coat for wandering round Otley Market!

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