Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

I feel spring has finally sprung, we’ve had some lovely sunny days with just a touch of warmth to them. There’s all sorts coming up in the garden and the trees are just starting to coming into leaf. I love the bright, fresh green of the new growth, all the trees leaf at different times, this is a philadelphus shrub on the back lane.

I managed to get out into the garden a couple of times this week, though I’m still way behind on jobs! I’ve made a good start on pruning my roses, better late than never! I’ve rather a lot of roses, but I’ve managed to do all the individual bushes, just got the big hedge along the back fence to do…oh and the climbing ones!

I had a good tidy up round the pond, though as you can see I didn’t do the actual pond! I cut down most of the old hellebore leaves which shows the flowers better. Ive still a few dead stems to remove but it’s a lot tidier than it was.

This wine coloured hellebore is still my favourite, it’s such a beautiful deep burgundy. I bought it on Otley market 2 or 3 years back.

The pulmonaria, or lungwort, is providing a pretty flash of blue around the garden, this clump is underneath a rhodedendron bush next to the pond.

The camellia which is next to the conservatory has just started to flower, this is the one I rescued from my mum’s as two bare twigs, barely alive, it always makes me think of her, happy memories. Underneath is Jack Frost, a brunnera which is just showing a few flowers, it’s got a long way to go though before it’s in full bloom. As you can see my weeding hasn’t got this far yet!!

There’s new shoots all over the garden, this little one is a pulsatilla, or pasque flower, it will hopefully be open around Easter. I think the seed heads afterwards are just as pretty as the flowers, they’re sort of silver fluffy things.

Spring wouldn’t be the same without daffodils, they’re so bright and cheerful after the long winter. I like these little tete-a-tete ones, they’re only small but highly scented, they seem to survive the March weather better than the tall ones. They’re also some of the first ones in our garden, much earlier than the bigger ones.

Once I’ve got this week out of the way I need to hit the ground running with the garden, otherwise I’ll be playing catch up all year.

Posted in Garden | Tagged | 17 Comments

Coming Home HQAL

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my coming home quilt, a lot has happened in those three weeks so I haven’t got much done, but I have made progress!

Three weeks ago I was trying to choose colours for the birds in each corner…

Well after much playing around, I realised that the colours that worked depended on the colous of the nearby houses, not surprising really! So, I have a different coloured bird in each corner, a blue one, a purple, a peach and a taupe one. I’ve cut them all out, keeping the pieces safe in an organza bag for the time being.

I started hand-stitching the first corner, I’ve just a few more leaves and then a bias-binding vine to stitch on. Hopefully now I’ve made my decisions I should be able to crack on with it.

Hand Quilt Along Links

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

Kathy, MargaretEmmaTracyDeb, Susan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrin, Gretchen, Kathi,  Bella, Daisy and Connie

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

Posted in Coming Home Quilt, Quilting, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

The Finery of Nature SAL

I still can’t quite believe I’m writing this, it’s just over twelve months since I started my Finery of Nature and it’s time for a very Happy Dance!!! I’ve actually finished it! It’s a Dimensions kit I got from the sales table at my Embroiderers Guild, I’m not sure how long it had been in someone’s stash as the copyright is from the 1990’s.

It was meant to be stitched on black aida as you can see, I knew my eyes weren’t up to stitching that amount on black, so I changed it for a soft green linen. This led to a couple of other changes, the biggest one being omitting all the gold thread and changing it to other colours as needs be.

Anyway, three weeks ago I was here, having just finished the cross-stitch for the butterflies…

I suddenly got an urge to really crack on with it, I finished all the surrounding plants and flowers and added the back-stitching on the butterflies. I stuck to the recommended black back-stitch for the blue and gold one, but I changed to a lighter colour for the cream butterfly.

All I had to do then was finish the border…

I was planning to change the earlier french knots on the pink roses as the later ones are smaller, which looks better. However when I looked at them they were so closely stitched that I decided I would spoil it if I tried to remove them.

So here is the finished piece, The Finery of Nature…

I’m really please with it, I love how many of the colours stand out so much more than on black, especially the flowers. I took it straight down to Art Works, the framers I trust with my needlework in Otley. The picture is already hanging on my bedroom wall…

I now need to choose my next project, I’ve decided it will be one of the two embroideries I have on-going since workshops last year, either the hare or the Bethlehem embroidery. Both need finishing.

This SAL is organised by Avis, we share our progress every three weeks and it is a great incentive to keep going on a project. If you would like to join us just send a message to Avis. Please follow the links to see lots more stitching…

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

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, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 35 Comments

Textile Memories

I gave you a sneak preview on Tuesday of what I’ve been working on this week, my mum’s textile memories book. She was a prolific craftlady, trying all sorts of different crafts over the years and when we cleared her house after she went into a home I found lots of finished and unfinished crafty things. I decided to make a textile book.

I bought a book called Stitched Memories by Tilly Rose and it was a big help in giving me ideas and inspiration for the pages of my book. She also has a facebook page (Tilly Rose Vintage) which is great.

I actually started last November when I made these two pages

Over the weekend I started working on it again, it would be nice to have it on display after her funeral in a couple of weeks time, though I’m not going to stress myself if it’s not done in time. It’s actually quite a nice thing to work on at the moment.

Two more cross-stitch pieces just needed a fabric border and a bit of embellishment. The one with a dove on seemed to be finished apart from the last six letters (???) luckily it didn’t take much to work out it was meant to say eternity. The Footprints in the sand one was finished, just never made into anything.

The hymn and prayer book covers seemed to puzzle some readers. My mum had several prayer books (there’s another two waiting to be made into a page!) These have beautiful gold and crewel type embroidery on the front and she’s embroidered her initials on the spine. I didn’t want to cut her initials off and I hit on the idea that if I stitch them onto a page complete, I could tuck things into the sleeves of the books. My mum was a prolific painter, I have dozens of little paintings from sketchbooks etc, not necessarily good enough to frame (if I had any wall space left!) but nice to keep. I’ve started to slot a few into the book covers.

More embroidery, this was an embroidered bag and a beaded purse. I initially took the lining out of the bag, thinking I would just use the embroidery. However I decided to stitch a lining back in, stitch the whole bag to a page made from a worn out quilt she’d made with the purse next to it. Inside the bag I’ve popped some precious letters between my mum and dad before they were married.

The quilts I’m using are totally worn out, thin and torn from being well used. This one was originally made as a present for her aunt so I’ve included the corner with the label on.

My mum also dabbled in silk painting. This was in a frame,but the frame had broken and when I looked she’d just taped the silk round a piece of cardboard! I untaped it, pressed it and free motion quilted onto some wadding, I’m quite pleased how this has come out.

Bobbin lace…I told you she did lots of different crafts!! These are some lovely little pieces I found around the house, the background colour was set by the felt circles two of the lace pieces are mounted on – she hadn’t hidden the ends in the lace, just threaded them through to the back of the felt. I think my favourite piece is the fan. I decided to include one pf the patterns I found and two pairs of bobbins.

More lace, this time in pastel colours. I dceided to use one of the old quilts again, this time I unpicked the top edge of the label and I’m using it as a pocket for a little handmade book she made.

A silk ribbon embroidery wreath, I think this is beautiful, I think it’s probably from the Inspirations magasine. I found one of her pencil drawings of violets, to match the violets in the wreath. I then just added a few embellishments of some ricrac, lace and a few bits from her button box.

I’ve a few more pages to go, mainly cross-stitch, and I need to include a knitting page!! I’m thinking of just doing a close machine zigzag round the edge, maybe twice round to get a decent coverage. Then I just need to make a cover and put it all together.

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Serendipity, Textile Books | Tagged , | 27 Comments

Textile Tuesday

On the first Tuesday of the month Wild Daffodil hosts a photographic challenge, this year the theme is simply ‘textiles’…

Over the last few days I’ve been trying to put together a textile book of my mum’s creative bits and bats, UFO’s, finished work, worn…a complete mix – I just didn’t like to throw stuff out when I knew how long it had taken to make, but there are limits to how many things you can have out on display. Hence the idea of a textile book.

This is my work bench at the moment…

…overflowing with textiles! I’ve got my lace box, ribbon box, trims, quilting cottons, as well as a box of my mums stuff all just waiting for their moment to inspire!

In the middle is the page I’ve just finished, three bible and prayer book covers I can slot little paintings into.

For more textile inspiration please follow the link over to Wild Daffodil…

Posted in Photo Challenge | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Late Winter Reading

My visits to the library are getting more frequent, particularly as bad weather meant I had a bit more reading time! I’ve had a bit of a mixed bag this time, all still non fiction though;

No Way but Gentlenesse by Richard Hines; people of my generation here in the UK may recall a book and TV programme called Kes by Barry Hines, about a boy from a rough background who takes a young kestrel from it’s nest and learns how to train it. Richard Hines is the brother of Barry and he was the inspiration for the book as he took kestrels as a child and taught himself to train them. He also trained the birds that appeared in the TV programme. This is the story of his life, not just about the kestrels, but about the seconday modern school education system which existed at the time and social class struggles (he was from a mining family in the era of the miners strikes) As someone who has effectively done the same job since leaving school at 18 it also fascinates me to read about people who completely change their careers throughout their lives!

OK, so this is a red kite, not a kestrel – it’s near enough!

In Pursuit of Butterflies by Matthew Oates; This started off delightfully, relating his childhood and how he became interested in butterflies, his gentle humour came through and I enjoyed the first bit. It then became almost like an annual report of the butterfly activity each year, where he found them and when. I got as far as 1976 when I realised it just continued much the same for the rest of the book. I’m afraid I gave up!

Embroidered Red Admiral

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell; I loved this book, it’s delightful, easy to read, in fact despite already having two books on the go when I bought it home on the Friday, I had finished it by Sunday!! In the 1970’s Tom worked in Argentina in a boarding school, travelling round South America in his spare time. On holiday in Uruguay he rescued a penguin from an oil slick, cleaned it up, but it then refused to leave him and he ended up smuggling it back to Argentina to the school. This friendly little penguin transformed the lives of the schoolboys, especially one home-sick boy. Amusing and magical story.

The Final Curtsey by Margaret Rhodes; Margaret was cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, she grew up having holidays with her cousins in a world resembling Downton Abbey. She was appointed lady-in-waiting to her aunt, the Queen Mother. This is all her memories about her life, it’s full of personal anecdotes about royal life and life of the landed gentry in general, it is a unique glimpse into another world, I enjoyed it, I just didn’t feel it was written that well, the time-line seems to jump around a bit, as one reviewer says, it’s a bit like a hostess telling lots of amusing anecdotes to dinner guests.

OK, this is not where she lived, it’s Harewood House, home to another of the Queen’s cousins!

The Last Foundling by Tom Mackenzie; This is a sad but I felt a positive book, Tom was reluctantly given up to the Foundling Hospital as a baby, his mother never gave up hope of being able to get him back, but everything seemed to work against her. She didn’t know of the bullying and harsh regime he was growing up in. He was never told of the birthday presents his mum sent every year. He left the home at 15, ill-equipped socially to cope with the wider world, but after a few misadventures he managed to track down his mother and discover the family he never knew who welcomed him back into their fold. The story is told concurrently of both the mother and Tom. What I loved is that there was no bitterness, either towards the hospital or his mother. The hospital started to change during his stay, but as he argues, they didn’t do it out of malice, they thought that was the best way to treat the children at the time with a firm routine and discipline. His mother had little choice really due to social stigmas of the time. A good book.

Just as a side note, last time I wrote a book post I’d just read Dust gets in my Eyes by Caitlin Docherty which is about her work as a mortician. I think it’s the most commented on book I’ve mentioned here! Anyway, it came in very useful when I had to visit the undertakers this week to plan my mum’s funeral, I knew what to ask and what possible practises were so I had a much better idea of what I did and didn’t want for my mum. I definitely recommend this book!

Posted in Books | 5 Comments

Anthea SAL Book

I’m stitching the Anthea Calendar this year, it’s a stitch-a-long by Faby Reilly. Each month we get a design which includes a seasonal flower, I’ve decided to double my workload by making it into a textile book with a facing page of wordplay including memorable dates, seasonal verse, and birds and flowers from our garden.

This was January’s design..

This morning I finally finished February, just in time for March’s design to come out on Tuesday.

I finished the main square a couple of weeks ago. It’s based on a design by Faby called winter blooms and it’s the only one apparently which isn’t actually seasonal, it’s more about the colour scheme. It’s meant to be white lilies and also calla lilies, I decided they could be chionodoxa, which are little six petalled flowers, flowering late winter, mainly blue but also available in a pinky – white. To make this stretch of artistic licence a little more plausible I left off the yellow spathe of the calla lily!

It was Wednesday evening when I finally got round to getting out my graph paper to work out the wordplay. I had just about planned it when I received the phone call about my mum…I’m a great believer in fate, the late start meant I could include my mum in the design.

I’m trying to use the same colours as the design and incorporate elements into the wordplay, February’s were pretty light colours which wouldn’t have shown up in back-stitch or even particularly with cross-stitch letters. I recently bought some new colours of permin linen and one of them was this lovely medium teal blue, it was perfect.

Earlier in the month I visited the Kelpies with my friends Kirsteen and Ian, the verse at the top is one which is engraaved in stone around the Kelpies, it’s from a poem by Jim Carruth, this is just a part of the full poem

‘Echo the great beasts that work among us

unbridled in this kingdom between canal and firth

here to harness the river and carry each weary traveller

Bow down your strong heads to taste the water

Stretch up your long necks to face the sun’ 

I also traveled on the iconic Settle to Carlisle railway with my friend Yvonne, I’d got two free tickets to go anywhere on the Northern Rail network, as compensation for when I was stranded for five hours on a train! I looked to see what the furthest stations were and Carlisle was one of them. The Settle to Carlisle railway goes through some amazing countryside and over the famous Ribblehead Viaduct, the line was meant to be closed in the 1960’s with all the Beeching cuts but there was a huge campaign to keep it open. The weather wasn’t amazing but we had a great day out. The photos were taken with my mobile from a moving train, hence the fuzzy bits!

It was also Shrove Tuesday in February, so we had our traditional pancakes with lemon and sugar. We have two pairs of bullfinches regularly visiting our bird feeders at the moment, they are stunning birds with coral pink breasts and slate grey heads. The hellebores are our main flower in the garden in February – I have quite a few!

We find out of Tuesday what March’s flower will be and then I need to start thinking about the wordplay!

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

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

No Time to say Goodbye

We’ve had a very sad end to the month, my lovely mum died unexpectedly on Wednesday evening. She was 86, she’d been living in a wonderful care home for the last couple of years since she was no longer able to cope at home. She’d had a lovely day, her and her mates had wrangled three sherries each from the staff at lunch time, her best friend rand for a chat in the afternoon. The carers helped her get ready for bed that evening, went back 10 minutes later with her horlicks and she’d gone. It’s what many of us say we want, but it’s a shock to those left behind. It is a blessing though that she died before dementia took away the mum I knew and loved, she could still knit, and often spent her time drawing sketches of the residents and life in the home.

Christmas 2018

One of my earliest memories is of being sat down by my mum with a square of binca and some embroidery threads, I’ll have been about three. She started training as an art based primary school teacher when I was 5 and I’m sure she used to practise on us, we did potato printing, we made pots from the clay in the garden, we did tie dye in the kitchen, weaving, spinning…when we went on walking holidays our rucksacks included sketchpad and paints, so we could all sit and paint as we rested.

She bought us both a treadle sewing machine to learn to sew clothes on and when we were early teens we got an electric one! She’d made all our clothes as kids and taught us to follow and change patterns. She was obviously a good teacher as we both went on to make our own wedding dresses.

The best thing she imparted was her attitude, we were forever being told ‘there’s no such thing as I can’t‘ which can be very frustrating as a kid however if we saw something we liked in her needlewoman magasine she would always encourage us to make it, teach us the skills we needed and let us get on with it, hence I embroidered my cockerel and lyrebird at the age of 7 and 8. I’m sure this attitude is why I’m always happy to try something new.

My mum would get totally involved with a new craft, she would buy the books, go to evening classes, get the equipment and join the local guild or club, if there wasn’t one she would start one! She would be totally enthused for say 5 to 7 years, before she moved on to another craft, so she did lace making, quilting, spinning, flower arranging, painting and her final love which proved to be her finest skill, botanical drawings with coloured pencils.

During the last few years when I went to visit I always took some sewing with me, she loved seeing what I was stitching and delighted in the finished pieces. I’m going to miss our stitching mornings at Abbeydale.

The last couple of days have given me the impetus to finish a project I started last year – making a textile book out of all my mum’s little hand made things, finished or unfinished. A fabric tribute to a very crafty lady.

Posted in Serendipity | 37 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

Well I didn’t see that coming!! We woke up to about 3″ of snow this morning – the first snow of the winter!!

It looks very pretty, though my OH wasn’t too impressed as having left home for work at 7am, he had only traveled 1 mile in two hours!! I did offer to walk up with a flask of coffee 🙂

The back lane looked particularly pretty with every twig edged with snow…

Rosie enjoyed playing snow angels on the lawn…

We do have a little bit of colour on our kitchen window sill – as luck would have it yesterday I decided to rescue some daffodils which had been blown over by the storms – they’d just popped their heads out when storm Dennis arrived! They’re a little tatty in places but at least they’ve had a chance to bloom!

I’ve put some extra food out for the birds and a spoonful on the floor as I saw a very cute little mouse scurrying about under the birdfeeders trying to find seeds the birds had discarded. Otherwise it’s definitely a day for staying inside and preferably sewing!

Posted in Garden | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Hand Quilt-a-long

Change of plan!!!

For the last few weeks I’ve shown you my progress (or not!) on my Christmas table runner. I have to admit it is sitting next to me, neatly rolled up, looking very reproachfully at me, as it’s been there for most of the last three weeks! However…

I’ve got re-enthused with my Coming Home quilt, this is the Sarah Fielke BOM I started last January, it’s a 12 month BOM so I have the whole pattern now. I’m working on month 10, last time I showed you the quilt I’d just finished all the houses and what seemed like dozens of windows….

I’m ashamed to say that photo was taken at the end of October!! The next section to work on is the corners, all hand appliqued, it involves an awful lot of leaves, like eighty of them!! This was a bit of a mental block!! The size of the mental block wasn’t helped by the fact that I knew I wanted to do a different final border, but I was undecided how to finish it…

Anyway, I’ve worked out how to finish it…I think! The next border on the pattern is another deep border which is quite heavily pieced, I didn’t want my quilt to be quite so big and it also felt a bit busy for my peaceful quilt. I’ve decided to do flying geese blocks so it’s like little triangular hills going round each side, with my tree fabric as the background. At the corners I will adapt Sarah’s pattern of three little houses round the curve.

In the meantime I need to applique the corners. I started cutting out the leaves, I had no problem choosing these colours, though I haven’t decided which fabric I’m going to use for the bias binding vine down the middle of them.

My main issue has been deciding on the colour of the bird!

I tried blue…

Not bad but he wing is wrong!

I tried peach…

Body looked wrong with the other parts!

I also tried purple, but I think that one was photo shy as I can’t find it! I then started mixing the colours a bit, blue with purple…

Blue with peach…

Blue with a different purple…

At the moment I think this is my favourite one, though I’m open to suggestions. I’ll probably change the centre leaf too as the peach looks a bit wishy-washy!

All I’ve got to do now is stitch them all on!

Hand Quilt Along Links

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

Kathy, MargaretEmmaTracyDeb, Susan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrin, Gretchen, Kathi,  Bella, Daisy and Connie

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

Posted in Coming Home Quilt, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , , | 29 Comments