2020 Vision

Over the last couple of years I’ve set a challenge over the year of things I wanted to make or do, I started to compile ideas for Twenty for 2020, but the numbers were just getting too big – it also makes for a long post each month! I enjoyed having the challenge, trying to meet targets without fretting if one wasn’t going to get started, never mind finished, but it needed a new framework…

I’m trying to reduce my stash somewhat – I have to admit (don’t tell anyone!!) but it’s getting a bit out of hand!! Not helped by lots of people passing stuff on to me! I’ve made a list of twenty projects I want to complete over the year. Several of these are projects which I know will stretch me a bit, but I’ve had the fabric and the pattern for ages, prevaricating as I know it’s not going to be a quick and easy make. I’m also hoping that having made one and remembered it’s not so difficult, I’ll go on and make more!

There are also kits which have been in my stash for far too long, quilts I’ve got all the fabric for, unfinished projects..

So here’s my list, five quilts, five clothes, five projects and five items or kits;

Clothes;

  • Jeans; I’ve got two patterns, all the buttons and zips etc, lots of denim, and I need some new jeans!
  • Trousers; I’ve two trouser lengths in my stash and a wardrobe lacking in trousers!
  • Tailored jacket; I’ve a Vogue pattern for a beautiful tailored jacket and several lengths of wool to choose from.
  • Tailored coat; I bought a coat length form a local mill in the autumn. I’m just waiting for Vogue patterns to have a half price sale so I get the pattern I want.
  • Sheer blouse; I’ve about three sheer fabric lengths which will make very pretty shirts, it’s just having the courage to start!

Quilts;

  • Coming Home quilt; This is my Sarah Fielke BOM from last year, I’m a bit behind but I’m not doing her final deep border. I still need to applique the corners and then add a final smaller border.
  • The Cottage Garden quilt; this is in a book by Kathryn Whittingham. The quilt is gorgeous, lots of embroidered and appliqued blocks, I collected all the fabrics last year, just trying to get a few finishes before I start this one.
  • Baby quilt; we’ve got a new baby due in the family in the spring, so I’ll make a quilt for the new arrival.
  • Scrappy quilt; I’ve joined a new facebook page on scrap quilts and it’s quite inspiring!
  • Charity Quilts; I’m planning to make some more quilts for careleavers, and maybe one to be auctioned too.

Projects;

  • Stitchbook Collective; I’m really enjoying this and it’s certainly stretching me, there’s another nine boxes for me to do.
  • Mum’s book; I started this last year – just!! I’ve collected all her crafty things together, finished and unfinished and I’m putting them together in a textile book. I hope she’ll like it.
  • Anthea SAL; this is a year long stitch-a-long by Faby Reilly, the first pattern came out yesterday and it’s gorgeous – a beautiful snowdrops design for January.
  • Workshop finishes; I’ve two projects left from workshops which I want to finish, an embroidery of a hare and a Bethlehem style embroidery.
  • The Finery of Nature; I’m three-quarters of the way through this, but that’s probably still three months work!! I started this way back in 2018!!

Things!

  • Slippers! I’ve a kit to make a pair of quilted slippers and my current ones are getting to be a bit of an embarrassment!!
  • Lampshade; I’ve two kits at least from Raggedy Ruff designs to make a lampshade, similar style to my Woodland Wreath quilt.
  • Jelly Roll Rug; I’ve the fabric and lots of spare batting to make a rug, I want a little one for the bathroom as a practise and then a bigger one for the dining room.
  • Wallet; Having finally made myself a new handbag, I now need a new wallet!
  • Luna Lapin; I want to make myself a Luna, I’m also wondering about making one for my mum for her birthday. I made an Archie Lapin for my great-nephew last year.

So that’s my challenge for the year, I did wonder about adding 20 walks, 20 books and 20 smalls, but it just makes for very long lists and I’ll tell you about them anyway as the year progresses!

You never know, I might actually have a smaller stash by the end of the year!!

Posted in Crafts | 20 Comments

Monday's Meander Round the Garden

It’s a few weeks since I last posted a mooch round the garden, mainly because the weather was inclement to say the least, cold, wet and miserable, day light opportunities are limited too as winter days are so short. I’m a fair weather gardener! A few people have commented how they missed the posts, so I thought I’d share a few photos again.

Having gone out to take some photos I probably spent about an hour outside, weeding, cutting back dead wood, generally starting to tidy up. I have to say I did feel a lot better for a bit of fresh air and physical work. I often find at this time of year that from inside the weather looks pretty uninviting, but once I’m out there, all wrapped up, I can happily stay out for quite a while.

winter garden

I cut down the big clematis which goes over the arch on the patio, It’s meant to be cut back late winter, I usually wait until it starts to bud, so it could be early January or it might not be until mid February if it’s a cold winter. Cutting it all back has also revealed just how rickety the old arch has become, I’ve got a couple of weeks off in March and I’m tempted to make a new one, this one was bought probably about 12 years ago, so it’s not done badly, but having made an arbour last year for the Amber & Amethyst garden which was really just a wide arch, I feel I could tackle this arch without risk of it falling on someone!

The evergreens form the backbone of the garden in winter, I have box, choisya, several osmanthus, camillia, rhodendrons, pierris…

winter garden

… as well as little ones such as hebes and eunonymous or this one which used to have the pretty name of sennecio, but now has the somewhat ugly name of brachyglottis!!

You can just see the bird feeders in the photo above, we’ve had a lot more birds than usual this year, they’re emptying some of the feeders within days! As well as the usual bluetits, great tits and coal tits, we’ve also had bull finches, goldfinches , a pair of nuthatches, we’ve even had the woodpecker back who we haven’t seen for a few years! The long-tailed tits are doing well this year, they’re tiny birds so a bad winter can decimate them,but there’s about a dozen visit our feeders each day.

brachglottis

I noticed today that the buds on the hellebores are starting to swell, I have quite a few different colours now so they make a great early spring show.

hellebores

The magnolia buds are also forming, they’re quite a way off flowering but it does give you a feeling that spring isn’t that far away.

magnolia buds

Bulbs are starting to shoot too, these ones are early daffodils.

daffodil

I’ve an awful lot of tidying up to do before spring arrives, but at least I’ve made a start.

Posted in Garden | Tagged | 12 Comments

The Finery of Nature SAL

It’s time for a mini happy dance again as I’ve just finished another quarter of my Finery of Nature Dimensions kit. I think I’m getting a bit quicker the nearer to the end I get, this quarter took just over three months. Hopefully I might have it finished by Easter, that would be nice.

Three weeks ago I was here…

The Finery of Nature

I haven’t done a huge amount as Christmas and other projects got in the way but I finished the border and added the french knots to the flowers. I’ve made smaller french knots this time and I think they look much better. The pattern uses three threads for the knots, I think I just used two threads for the first half. This time I just used one thread and two loops and I think they look about right…

The Finery of Nature

Of course this does mean I’m going to have to pull out the others and re-stitch them!

The final quarter is of two butterflies, hopefully they won’t take too long to stitch.

The Finery of Nature

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis, we share our progress every three weeks, it’s a great motivator! If you would like to join us please send a message to Avis, in the meantime please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching over Christmas.

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

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

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Zen Time

I got a bit behind with my zen cross-stitch, it’s actually called Enlightenment and it’s a mystery SAL which publishes the next section every two weeks. Last time I showed you I’d just finished part 7, but I then neglected it whilst I concentrated on finishing my gorgeous Zoe box…

Enlightenment SAL

Gosh, I just checked and this was six weeks ago!

Anyway, over the last week I dug it put again and cracked on with the next two sections, plus a little more…

Enlightenment SAL

I like the colour scheme of this sampler, especially the border, but I’m still a bit disappointed that as a mystery SAL it has been so predictable – I’m pretty sure I could finish it now if I wanted to, but I’ll be good and wait for the instructions to come out! I’m going to make it into a cushion when it’s finished to go in our guest room.

I’ll be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts tomorrow for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link to see lots more hand-stitching.

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Final Nineteen for 19

Happy new year! Hope you had a good one, I managed to stay up til midnight but I think we were in bed by quarter past!Anyway, I decided to try and write my last nineteen for 19 post a bit more promptly. I’m pretty pleased with how it’s gone, it’s given me something to focus on whilst not fretting if one challenge wasn’t going to get done (or even started!!). So here goes, hope you’re sitting comfortably…

  • 1 scrap quilt; this is one I haven’t even started, but I’ve got plans for this year and lots of inspiration from a new facebook page!
  • 2 tutorials; another non-starter!
  • 3 sessions a week in the garden; This works really well, it got me outside much earlier in the year than I would have otherwise and with a garden like mine an early start makes a huge difference.We had the open garden in July, which although we chose the wettest weekend of the year it still managed to raise a good amount for charity.
  • 4 workshops; I’ve attended three embroidery ones at Fabbadashery, though I still have to complete two of the projects, I’ve also been on a stained glass workshop and a gardening one. I also ran a quilting workshop!
  • 5 presents; I made three bags for Christmas presents, they had pretty robins on them, I also made a small out of a leftover scrap of robin fabric. I embellished a cardigan for my mum too.

6 quilts; I finally finished my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt in December, three years in the making! I think that puts my tally at seven!!

  • 7 new patterns; I’ve just made a Skye Wrap, so that’s 8 new patterns;
  • 8 kits; I think I’ve made seven so far this year, unfortunately I’ve bought more than that so mt stash hasn’t gone down!
  • 9 mini embroideries; in December I made another two pages for my Stitchbook collective and I also embroidered a robin for a card, bringing my total to 13 I also stitched 16 mini embroideries for Advent SAL…!
  • 10 things; I haven’t got any photos yet, but I made my son two sets of curtains in December- I decided I really don’t like making curtains – especially heavy woolen ones! This brings my total to fourteen with the three bags I made too.

11 cross-stitch smalls; I went a bit mad with smalls this year, I made another one last month which brings my total to about 15!

  • 12 pages in my book; I finally started this project in November, I didn’t get any made during the Christmas rush but it’s one of my priorities for next year.

13 clothes made; I made another dress last month and also a wrap, which pushes my total over the target to 14! After a slow start with this one I finally got there!

  • 14 drawers organised; I’ve had a huge sort out in my sewing room over the last couple of weeks, I’ve sorted patterns, buttons, threads, fabric- I’ve definitely reached this target, though unfortunately my sewing room doesn’t look any tidier for it!
  • 15 minutes tidy-up after each session; mmm, ditto last comment!
  • 16 books; this has been my most successful target this year, not just because I smashed the target with over 30 books, but more because it changed my habits, I found a space for reading in my routine and stuck to it.
  • 17 blog posts per month; December was the only month I didn’t make this one, usually I exceeded it, I also realised over Christmas that I had just written my 1000th post!!
  • 18 walks; my walking buddy and I walked the Cleveland Way last year, together with practise walks we managed 21 walks, which is nearly 2 a month so not bad!
  • 19 Splendid Sampler blocks; I made these and lots more so I could finish the quilt.

So quite a productive year! I’m a little bit crafty with these challenges, making sure that quite a few overlap, so a new pattern is also clothing, a thing is also a present, lots of quilt blocks make a quilt…I’ve just added things up and altogether I’ve made about fifty different things, which sounds a lot, but it’s actually only one a week, OK some take an awful lot longer, but others were just an evening or two.

I still haven’t finalised my Twenty for 2020, but I think this will be my last year as the numbers are just getting too big, even for me, I’ll have to think of a different challenge after that!

Posted in Nineteen for 19 | Tagged | 24 Comments

Skye Wrap

I’ve admired Skye Wraps for a while, they’re a pattern from Cool Crafting, (the home of Luna Lapin!!) and they keep appearing on my facebook feed. I finally bought the pattern at the Harrogate Show in November. Whilst sorting out my sewing room I found a length of light-weight blue and purple wool which I felt would be pretty good as a wrap, it had plenty of drape and it was the sort of weight which would work as an extra layer indoors. Even better I found a leftover length of Liberty lawn which matches pretty well.

It was also a nice simple sewing project to sew on my new sewing machine!! My 20 odd year old Janome was starting to make funny noises and I wanted to get one whilst it still worked, rather than waiting til it goes bang with a puff of smoke (like the last one did!!) So I spent the last few months looking at different models, deciding what features I wanted. I went to the Harrogate show with an open mind but pretty much set on a Janome…and came home with a Brother Innovis 1800, it was a good deal anyway and then I got an extra £100 off as I bought the show demo! It’s a bit scary though!!

I’m having to learn from scratch – it threads up different to my old one, everything is different, so the instruction manual has been out quite a few times – I have now managed to get it to thread the needle after three failed attempts!

So, back to the wrap! It’s basically just a lined rectangle with buttons down the side. One useful feature is that the lining is cut slightly shorter so it makes like a one inch facing strip. What this means is that when turning the wrap the right way round it’s much easier to get the corners neat as there’s not so much bulk.

Skye wrap

The pattern calls for three large feature button, and by large it means about 1.5″. I had a rummage in my button box, there were some smaller blue buttons, but nothing so big. Then I noticed a pack of three large wooden buttons, I’ve no idea where they came from – I’m pretty sure I didn’t buy them! I decided colourwise they looked OK, I would have preferred blue or purple, but actually the brown wood worked. I also noticed they were very light, buttons of this size can be pretty heavy and that could change the drape of the wrap.

Buttons chosen, I just had to make the buttonholes. I found the buttonhole attachment, found the right page in the instruction manual. The first thing I read was maximum size 1.1″!!!

I pulled out my old Readers Digest Complete Sewing Guide – it’s a gem is this book, worth getting if you spot one in a charity shop as it goes through all the different techniques you need when sewing – different seams, collar styles, zip insertion…and buttonholes! This was written before machines had automatic buttonhole feet. I was thinking of just refreshing my memory on how to do a machine buttonhole, but the first type described was a bound buttonhole (three different methods were given – I chose the easiest!!). I decided that would be rather nice in the Liberty lawn. I had a practice first with a scrap and it looked OK.

I made three bound button holes on the wrap – one useful tip in the book was to do all the buttonholes at the same time – each stage stitch all three, it makes it easier to get an even finish, rather than completing one buttonhole and then moving on to the next one.

The only bit I changed on the buttonholes was the finish on the back, the book just suggested trimming the edges neatly. I wasn’t keen on the raw edge and as Liberty lawn is so fine I decided to slip-stitch it under.

I can see me making a few of these, they’re an ideal make from short lengths left over from skirt or dress making.

Skye wrap

This is definitely the final finish for 2019, so I wish you all a very happy 2020!

Posted in Dressmaking, Serendipity, Sewing | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Unseasonably Small

I started this little cross-stitch back at the start of November, it was a kit I bought at Bonds in Farsley – three for £5, I found two pretty blue designs and was struggling to find a third kit for my bargain price. The assistant pointed this one out, it’s got a sort of old-fashioned quaintness about it. I also thought that as the flowers are more peach/orange, it will spread from summer to autumn for my smalls display! I think it was a Lanarte kit, I saved the pack for this moment, but having just totally reorganised my sewing room I’ve mislaid it!

I changed the aida provided for some evenweave linen, not sure what colour this is officially, it’s an off white, light stone sort of colour. It would have been fairly quick to stitch if I didn’t have so many other projects on the go, as it was it was December before it was finished and it had to wait til last night to be made into a small.

I found some green quilting cotton in my stash and played around a bit with trims before I finally decided on the narrow ivory lace and the beige tape. Having stitched it together and stuffed it I felt it needed something else. I tried some buttons in the corners but that didn’t work, so they got unpicked.

This morning I decided to try beads, I fished out my bead box, had a rummage and found these lovely amber coloured beads, they’re from a mixed colour set from Hobbycraft and they’ve proved very useful over time. I found some tiny green ones which were a similar shade to the cotton as well as the flower bead. Ideas began to formulate…

I stitched an amber bead in each corner, using a tiny green bead to help secure it. For one top corner I went through the amber bead, then picked up just over an inch of the tiny green ones, the flower and finally a peach mini bead, I then threaded the needle back down the line of green beads as far as the amber one. I then picked up another good inch of green beads, finishing with a bright blue one which had escaped into the green bead pot, it just happened to be the same shade as the flower jug. I added a bird charm before returning back through the line of beads and securing the thread back in the small.

Job done! It’s just enough to finish it without overwhelming the design, the beads aren’t quite so bright as they look with camera flash! I think this will be the last cross-stitch finish of 2019, it will be all ready when summer and autumn 2020 arrive!

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Smalls of the Month | Tagged | 17 Comments

Christmas Stitching

Towards the end of November I saw a mystery Christmas stitch-a-long advertised. It was a freebie by Hugs and kisses, it was only for Advent, so I wouldn’t be committing myself to a long project, and a little bit of stitching for Christmas would be fun! I signed up!

I have to admit that I thought it would be a mixture of embroidery and quilting, sort of stitch an embroidery, make a block, so by Christmas we would have something made and I would have used up some of my Christmas fabric stash. It turned out it was just little embroidery blocks and as yet no instructions on what to do with them, having said that, they are very sweet and I have enjoyed stitching them.

Advent stitching

They’re all designed to fit in a 2″ circle. I stitched them all in DMC 115 which as you can see is a variegated red. As you can see I’m a bit behind, I’ve got 16 stitched. I also managed to stitch one on the wrong side of the fabric, so my logic said stitch another one on the wrong side, it won’t be as noticeable if there’s more than one!! Hence there are two stitched on the wrong side!

I think these are my favourites so far…

I quite fancy making a table runner from them, but I’m open to suggestions and ideas – I am planning to make the other eight.

In the meantime, hope you have a lovely Christmas and a very happy New Year x

Posted in Christmas, embroidery | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Last Minute Presents

Last night I finally finished making my last Christmas present! It’s for my mum, I do find it difficult buying presents for someone in a carehome, for birthdays I usually take her out for the day to a quilt show. I felt for Christmas she needed something to open. In the end I asked some of the carers if there was anything she needed – a cardigan.

I looked for a pretty cardigan but couldn’t see anything I thought she would like. I then hit on the idea of buying a plain one and titivating it. I bought a soft, cosy navy blue cardigan in one of the shops in Otley.

Last night I finally got round to embellishing it. I had a perusal on Pinterest and decided to concentrate the embroidery in the neckline/centre front area. I chose a variegated DMC thread 4030 which is all pretty shades of blue and green.

embroidered cardigan

I started with a big daisy in the corner, decided I didn’t want anymore quite so big so I sort of zig-zagged them along the neck and a little way down the front. I did struggle when it came to making the other side look the same- mirror images are clearly not my forte! By this time I was getting a little low on thread, as I was using all six strands together. It needed some infilling between the flowers. I found some DMC 4025 which is a darker version and just used three strands to add leaves and a few french knots. I tried to make it a sort of wavy line of leaves and flowers.

embroidered cardigan

Having embroidered the front, the beige buttons looked completely wrong. I found some buttons in my stash which matched colour and size wise perfectly, I just worried that they were too plain. I decided to stitch them on anyway – if my mum commented I could easily change them, I just knew I didn’t have chance to visit a button shop before Christmas.

embroidered cardigan

Once I stitched them all on and stood back, I liked them, so hopefully she will too.

It’s surprising how just a little simple stitching can change a ready to wear cardigan into something much more personal. I think she’ll like it.

embroidered cardigan
Posted in Christmas, embroidery, Serendipity | Tagged | 13 Comments

Christmas Cakes and Cottages

This weekend I finally got round to decorating a pair of gingerbread houses – one for us and one for my son – daughter wants to decorate her own 🙂 I don’t make the gingerbread, these are kits from the local supermarket. I used to get the Ikea ones,but these taste nicer and it saves a trip across to the other side of Leeds to buy one. I used to make about 15 or 20 and sell them at work, now it’s just for us.

I like them without any sweets, concentrating on the icing instead. I add a few cake decorations though, the usual silver draghees, I also bought some pretty silver stars and some white and sparkly grey snowflakes…

I feel these houses don’t actually have to be that neat or perfectly iced (luckily!) I follow the imprints for doors and windows, making the front windows a little taller…

…and covering the back door with a Christmas tree. I infill with squiggles and swirls and spots of icing.

The designs change each year but my favourite bit is usually the roof! The tile pattern is imprinted, so I just need to follow the lines.I then added the shell piping, dots and snowflakes….

,,,and I always have icing loops hanging under the eaves.

In contrast James wanted sweets and he wanted to buy his own, so rather than getting ones which are vaguely to scale, he bought M&M’s and Haribos!

gingerbread houses

I did my best!!!

I also decorated two Christmas cakes, one for us and one for James – Helen didn’t want one. The traditional Christmas cakes here are rich fruit cakes, ideally made about 6 weeks in advance so they have chance to mature. They’re covered in marzipan first, I then used a thin layer of fondant icing to cover the cake.

To decorated ours I made a round imprint with a pastry cutter and used it as a guide to place 12 gold candles with silver balls in between. At first I just sprinkled some tiny gold stars over the cake and tied a bow round the sides but it didn’t look quite enugh. I then cut out some stars in icing and arranged those round the candles. Much better!

Christmas cakes

James cake used a circle of silver candles. I tried imprinting snowflake stamps but it didn’t quite show up enough and with the sparkly grey and white snowflakes it still looked a bit naff! I cut out some snowflakes instead, two different sizes, and arranged them around the cake, adding silver and grey ones more randomly. It looked much better. A twinkly ribbon finished it off.

In case you’re wondering how my experiment went with the oasis free advent ring went – not good! In less than a week it looked pretty dead! I thought about removing the very dead bits and replacing with artificial – something I usually do with the oasis one in the last week. However I was worried that the dry hay of the base was not a good mix with candles and matches!! I was thinking I would have to buy an oasis after all when I started getting all the Christmas decorations out.

I found an artificial swag of folliage and lights. I decided to have a play. I wound it a couple of times round my candelabra. It looked a bit thin, so I started poking other artificial and dried natural decorations in, such as pinecones, poppy heads. They’re not particularly fastened in, just arranged – if I turned it upside down they would all fall out! I just kept going until it looked OK.

I think it looks really pretty, whilst I like having the natural wreath, this does save using oasis which is totally non biodegradeable. Whilst a lot of it is artificial, most of it is five to ten years old, having been used every Christmas. Hopefully it will now get used for many more Christmases.

Posted in Christmas, Home, Serendipity | Tagged , , | 18 Comments