Down the Rabbit Hole…The Final Frontier!!

I can’t quite believe I’ve stitched the last border of my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, not that I’ve finished the penultimate border yet but at least it is all ready to stitch on when I finally finish those vines!

Sarah Fielke (the designer) assured us that it really wasn’t as difficult as it looked, and it wasn’t really, but I did have to concentrate, especially at each end…Down the Rabbit Hole

I started this border before my holiday, my original plan was for a totally scrappy border look, but you know how I struggle with totally random, so in the end I decided on green triangles inside (as it’s next to a purple border) and purple triangles on the outside. The squares were limited to fabric I had left so I was a bit limited in how I arranged them. I’ve tried to alternate them pale green and grey, but there’s a couple of places that I couldn’t. Apart from the dark purple corner squares I didn’t even look at the centre squares as it just got too complicated! Eventually I had a layout I was happy with.Down the Rabbit Hole

The basic block is the square with a triangle attached opposite ends, these are then stitched so they stagger, this did mean that there was actually only one seam to line up each time but I did still have to concentrate to make sure it was the right seam and the right way up! There’s a couple of places where the triangle isn’t quite long enough, I tried taking it apart and restitching with the same result, I think I might need to cut a bigger triangle and just take that one out.Down the Rabbit Hole

For some reason I found the corners very confusing, My initial plan was to try and match fabrics in the half sized triangles, I then got myself in a pickle and decided it was too difficult…but having stitched one end I sorted myself out and matched the next piece so at least the purple triangles match right round the corners. Matching the inner green was one step too far!!

I tried the first finished border against my quilt and it does seem like it will fit OK, I’ve just got to keep everything crossed that the other three also fit…and I’ve got to finish those vines!Down the Rabbit Hole

 

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Four Months of Cross-stitch

I’m trying to get a few finishes under my belt at the moment, I seem to have quite a few projects almost finished…but not quite! So I’m going to make a concerted effort over the next few days, there’s other things I want to start but I really want a clearer sewing room before I start.Joyful World by Snowflower Diaries

Last week I showed you ‘February’ from the Joyful World stitch-a-long by Snowflower Diaries. I managed to finish stitching this on holiday, but I also managed to stitch March and April too! I think April is the only one in the year of designs that I find a little too twee, in fact the squirrel was meant to be carrot orange, but I changed it to soft grey – brown colour.Joyful World by Snowflower Diaries

I looked in my stash and found three prints which coordinated nicely. I made a simple mini cushion and then made some cord from two of the embroidery floss colours. It always surprises me just how long a length of thread you need to make cord, it’s roughly three times the length required, so for these little pads I used about three yards of each colour! For March I decided to try a pale yellow and a dark blue, have a bit of contrast, I don’t think it’s really worked so I won’t try that again, I’ll stick to colours of similar tonal value.Joyful World by Snowflower Diaries

So I have now finished the first four months, and importantly, I’ve caught up with the actual month, so April is now out on display in the dining room and I’ve actually started May!Joyful World by Snowflower Diaries

If you fancy stitching these, they can either be stitched into one panel, or individual ones like I’ve done, they are actually meant to have a border round too but that made them a bit big for what I want. Maja Matyas, the designer, has a facebook page just for these and all the patterns are free on there.

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Eighteen for 18 Update

It’s the 4th April already, so I’m overdue for my monthly Eighteen for 18 review. I was away for the first three weeks of March (and jet lagged for the last week!!) so I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved. I’ve actually done a little bit more than this but as I haven’t posted about them yet they can go into next months figures instead!

  • 1 Etsy store opened; I’ve done lots of thinking on this one during the holiday, wondering at the moment whether to start my own website instead of going through Etsy…still thinking!
  • 2 Tutorials; Nothing as yet.
  • 3 Sessions a week in the garden; I’m pretty pleased with this one as since I’ve been back I’ve been gardening at least three times a week. Often the weather doesn’t look too great but once I’m all wrapped up and out there, it’s actually quite nice, in a damp, cold sort of way!
  • 4 Quilts; This stays at one finish, I delivered it to Australia and the happy couple loved it 🙂
  • 5 Craftsy Classes; None as yet, but as I’ve just ordered a peacock panel on Ebay, I’m hoping to use it for a free motion quilting class.
  • 6 New Patterns; This stays at two, though I’m hoping this will change this month as I’ve got a ball to go to in May and I need a new dress!
  • 7 Kits stitched; I took two on holiday, they are almost finished, but not quite, so this stays at none.
  • 8 Pages in my stitch sampler book; Two more pages stitched during the first half of our holiday, so four so far. I’m doing pretty well at this target, half way already!Stitch Sampler
  • 9 Pounds Lost!!! Yes well, it was our holiday… least said the better!
  • 10 Mini Embroideries; We’re starting a new round of travelling sketchbooks again this month so I’ll be doing a little one each month again. Total for the year stays at three.
  • 11 Letters to friends; Just one so far this year, I really need to get cracking on this.
  • 12 Boxes or Drawers sorted in sewing room; I’ve done a lot of sorting this month, we’ve been clearing my mums house as she is now in a care home, so I’ve taken all her craft stuff, so I’ve been trying to amalgamate everything into my sewing room. At the same time my sister gave me a huge bag of fabric she no longer wants and a friends mum sent a suitcase full of sewing goodies…I’m just about resurfacing in my sewing room! I have however managed to finish sorting my floss box, everything is neatly wrapped on plastic bobbins, I’ve taken out all the duplicate ones into another box, together with all my variegated ones. It looks a lot better. I’ve also started a box for my mum’s craft work, she was a prolific needlewoman and craftswoman, trying all sorts of crafts, so I’ve collected together all the little bits of bobbin lace, embroidery, cross-stitch etc, hoping to make a textile book out of them. So, I counting this as two boxes sorted this month, making a total of three.
  • 13 New Recipes; This remains at one, hopefully I’ll try some more this month.
  • 14 Less Lengths in my stash! Well….I bought another four length on holiday!!
  • 15 Posts a month; Fourteen, I think that’s pretty good seen as we were away for most of it 🙂
  • 16 cross-stitch smalls; I’ve finished one, my February cross-stitch is now made into a little pillow. I’ve another four nearly there, so my running total is now four.Joyful World February cross-stitch
  • 17 items of clothing made. This stays at two, the top and dress I made last month were worn so often during our holiday, the teal dress could nearly walk itsself to the washing machine!!
  • 18 Walks; We’ve not had chance to walk since we returned, but our training for our long distance walk is starting now! So my tally stays at one but will hopefully improve this month.

 

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Monthly Photo Challenge.

Wild Daffodil organises a photo challenge each month. The theme this time is ‘yellow’

Of course at this time of year the first image that springs to mind is daffodils…

or primroses…these are just up by our gate to the back lane.

Yellow isn’t something I tend to sew with so reds, oranges and yellows for a Kaffe Fassett quilt was way out of my comfort zone, I loved it though and so did the couple it was made for.

My flower trellis I stitched last year had a few silk ribbon flowers in yellow.

In the summer I have lots of yellow flowers, particularly in my Amber and Amethyst garden, something to look forward to in all this rain!

For lots of yellow photos, follow the link to Wild Daffodil and see what everyone else has to show.

 

 

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Monday’s Meander Around the Garden

Today’s meander around the garden turned into a point and shoot out of the landing window as this is our Easter Monday weather…

…snow, again!!

Despite the inclement weather this week I have managed to spend a bit of time working on the garden most days. Invariably once I’m out there, all wrapped up, the weather isn’t actually that bad. Anyway, if you believe the weather forecasts (with a pinch of salt if you ask me!!) after a wet week the weather should improve next weekend!

I have managed this week to formulate a few plans in my mind of how I want to plant up the new beds in the garden. In the gravel garden I’ll stick to the amber and amethyst colour scheme I had before, I liked that. However I’m planning more of a backbone of small shrubs, like hebes, azaleas, skimmia, I need to make the garden lower maintenance…I’ve started buying a few on the market and in our little nursery in Otley. I’ve got a hebe and also a sarcococca, which is Christmas box, it’s an evergreen which flowers in winter, the flowers look insignificant but they have the most amazing scent.

I also treated myself to a tree peony (well it was purple!) and a gorgeous hellebore in a deep wine colour. I’ve just trimmed all the old leaves off my hellebores round the pond so they look particularly good now.Hellebore

The top area where the chickens used to be has been cleared, we just need to rotavate it once the weather dries up a bit. The compost heaps will be there, but they will be hidden by an Autumn colour border. I’m going to plant shrubs and small trees such as acer, amelanchia and eunonymous alatus (spindle tree), I’ve got one in the front garden and in the autumn it turns an amazing fiery red! I’ll pop some all year ground cover shrubs in between them for winter interest. The Christmas box might go in this area as well. I’m going to grow clematis up the old fence posts too.

I’ve also ordered some paint for our big fence. Our neighbours have spent the last year completely revamping their garden. It makes me smile when I see it as you couldn’t have two gardens more different, theirs is all paving, gambions, decking and artificial grass with some raised beds and all wooden tall fence all round the edges. I’m embracing the big fence as an opportunity to grow lots of climbers, roses, clematis, honeysuckle…but first it needs painting. It’s a big block of colour so I’ve thought long and hard about it. Our back fence has been painted dark brown, thinking it will blend in with the wooded path behind. Having looked at next-doors, I definitely don’t want dark brown. I’ve decided on a colour called willow, which looks like it will be a slightly darker shade than the summerhouse. I’ve ordered the paint so hopefully when this dry spell arrives I can get it done before everything starts to grow. I’ll probably paint the back fence too for a bit of continuity.

I think I’ll be busy this year!!

 

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Down the Rabbit Hole Hand Quilt-a-Long

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt – doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun!! I was actually on my jollies when the post came out, having made no progress at all in the previous three weeks when preparing for our trip! This is where I was…

These vines seem to have taken for ever, although to be fair I am making them a little longer by extending them around the corner to the running rabbit. However, this is the last side of the last side, if you follow me. This week I have made a concerted effort to finish this section of the applique. Yesterday afternoon this is where I was, reasonable progress but still a few leaves and vines to go…Down the Rabbit Hole

Last night after tea I decided to make a push for a mini finish, I stitched the vines, added some more leaves and stitched them all down.Down the Rabbit Hole

This border is now finished, apart from a bee which hasn’t quite decided where to buzz yet, and I am tempted to add a couple of small flower heads to fill gaps a bit. My next job however is to stitch it to the main quilt and then add the extra vines around the corners, I’ve left an unstitched bit so I can insert a branch into it neatly. This photo shows the other border and how I extended the vines.Down the Rabbit Hole

So hopefully in three weeks time I’ll have the border stitched onto the quilt and the extra vines added. You never know, I might even have added the final border!!

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.

KathyLoriMargaretKerryEmmaTracyDebConnieDeborah,  Susan, JessiscaSherryNanetteSassyEdithSharon and Bella

I’m also linking up with Kathy’s Quilts (a different Kathy!!) for Slow Stitching Sunday for a celebration of all things hand sewn.

 

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Batik Painting in Bali

One reason I chose Bali as a holiday destination was my interest in batik fabrics. I wanted to see batiks being made, have a go myself and also buy some to make into quilts, I even organised my luggage allowance so I would have plenty of spare capacity!

A few weeks before our holiday I booked a workshop with Widya’s Batiks, he’s based in Ubud where we were staying. He has a facebook page and courses can be booked easily through that.

I had a great day at the workshop, Widya was an excellent teacher. There are lots of different methods of making batik and on Bali I think it is very similar to silk painting. Widya had lots of designs to choose from or you could draw your own if you wanted. I chose a picture of some lotus flowers, it turned out to be pretty apt as I didn’t realise it at the time but there is a lotus garden in Ubud which we visited a couple of days later.

The design was traced with pencil onto a length of cotton clipped to a frame. Then came the tricky part! Batik uses wax as a resist and in Bali it is applied with a bamboo stick with a copper ‘nib’, Luckily we had a practise piece to try the technique out, the conical reservoir was dipped into molten wax and then you could (in theory!) steadily draw the line of wax. Every 10 seconds or so you had to empty out the wax and refil the pen as otherwise it started to set and block the nib.Batik Painting in Bali

Like a lot of things, it’s not as easy as it looks, despite being used to applying gutta! I had some very wobbly lines and some blobs on my practise piece, Widya offered to outline some of the more fiddly bits of my final piece whilst I was still practising, for which I was very grateful. I was the only student there that day so he could give me lots of help! I also used the practise piece to have a go with the actual painting. Batik paints don’t blend or spread in the same way that silk paints do, although the wax does act as the resist. This means that you can paint detail a lot more easily. I painted the darker lines of the flowers first and then went over with two colours, blending as I went. The ‘brushes’ we used were made of wood, one was basically a stick cut on a slant with the end softened somehow. The other was just a stick with some cotton wrapped around the end.  I also found the paints themselves interesting as they reminded me of painting ceramics years ago with my mum, in that what you see is not necessarily what you get after the fixing process, a brown dye turned green in the end, a very pale lemon darkened to vivid orange in sunlight.

Practise Piece!

By the time I had mastered the painting, Widya had (with my permission) outlined my main panel. A little bit of me would have liked to do it all myself but the rest of me was very pleased that I had a decent panel to paint!! What I did do myself was to print the borders, it took about three imprints of hot wax to make each length.Batik Painting in Bali

I was glad I had practised with the painting as I’m really pleased with how my lotus flowers came out. The water in the background was interesting as it didn’t blend at all like silk paints, I would do it differently another time.

After painting it was left to dry in the sunshine. The final part of the process was setting it, this is done in a bath of weak hydrochloric acid and salt (if I remember correctly!) followed by a dunk in boiling water to remove the wax and then a final dunk in cold water. It didn’t take long to dry in the sun in the 30′ heat.Batik Painting in Bali

I’m really pleased with my batik, my plan is to make it the centre of a quilt.Batik Painting in Bali

Widya has been doing batik for around 20 years and his work was amazing, the tiny details in the pictures was stunning.Batik by  Widya

The next day he took me to a batik factory where I could see the experts working and also I could buy a length. This is batik to dress-make with, rather than quilting, it is absolutely beautiful and it’s lovely to have a length of ‘proper Balinese batik’

Batik from Bali

The one place I didn’t get to for various reasons, was Jalan Sulawesi, a street in Dempasar which is full of shops selling batik fabrics for quilting, by the metre, jelly rolls, fat quarters…I’ll just have to go back for another holiday!Lotus garden in Bali

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Friday’s Photo Challenge

This week I thought I was going to have to think outside the box with a colourful photo of  embroidery threads as the theme is ‘rainbows’.

This was my first thought…

I actually won a prize at the local show with this photograph!

I love seeing rainbows, there’s just something about their fleeting appearance and that hope of better things to come. I also love the way how ever many you see, and lets face it we’ve probably seen hundreds in our lifetime, you automatically say (or at least think) ‘Ooh look, a rainbow!!’…or is that just me!

The problem I have today is that I can’t find a decent photo of a rainbow! I have however found a photo that has the merest glimmer of a rainbow. I remember the day well as it was the final day of our walking holiday last September. We were meant to be walking thirteen miles back to Keswick but we chickened out and took a glorious bus ride along the Honister pass back to Keswick instead. Later, after a good walk along the shores of Derwentwater we decided to take the scenic route back via the launch. The black clouds gathered but the photo shows that classic mix of rain clouds, blue skies and sunshine…and right in the middle, just above that cloud that looks a bit like a jigsaw piece, is just a glimmer of a rainbow!

The Friday photo challenge is organised by Postcard from Gibraltar, do follow the link and hopefully someone has a photo of a full rainbow!

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…and Crosses

DSC_0651During the first week of our holiday we drove from Adelaide to Sydney, travelling along the stunning scenery of the Great Ocean Road. In the evenings I would do a little stitching whilst we chatted over a glass of wine. I decided to record the different places we stayed in the sampler in amongst the variations of crosses and stars.

Twelve Apostles

The Great Ocean Road was amazing, we saw London Bridge, the Twelve Apostles, I became quite good at spotting potential places to visit on the map, my favourite place was one we found by accident, we were heading for Childers Cove, my OH was chuntering a bit as the narrow road seemed to be going on forever. Just before Childers Cove we saw a signpost for another cove, Murnanes Bay, it was gorgeous, I could have happily stayed there all day, a tiny deserted cove, blue seas and golden beach and cliffs…not so keen on the 5′ snake that slithered across our path on the way back to the car!

I started the sampler page with  three eyelet stitches and a row of cross-stitches. I love the way the variegated thread works with this row. The little stitch after the Great Ocean Road is a square boss. Yuulong’s stitch is a star stitch.

Stitch SamplerWe stayed in the Eagle Hawk Motel in Malden which is currently owned by family, it’s a lovely vintage style motel with brass beds and patchwork quilts. There I stitched a row of Ermine stitches.

We stayed just outside Gundagai in the middle of nowhere, kangaroos usually pass through the area just after dawn on their way to the river. I got up early, didn’t see any kangaroos but I did enjoy the sunrise. I can see this photo as an embroidery! The six stitches on this row are woven crosses. On our way to Kiama we called into Canberra as my OH wanted to spend some time at the War Memorial, I visited the botanical gardens as was rewarded with an echidna ambling along towards me, I sat for about 20 minutes with another lady just enjoying the moment.Echidna

Of course, stitching crosses in Australia, I had to do a representation of the Southern Cross! The biggest cross is an outlined diamond eyelet, the four medium crosses are Algerian Eye, and the tiny one is a woven star.DSC_0018 (2)

So, that’s our drive from Adelaide to Sydney in stitches and another page for my stitch sampler.Stitch Sampler

I’ve now completed six double pages for my sampler, so I really think I need to start stitching them together into a book!

Stitch Sampler

 

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Knots and Crosses

Over on Pintangle Sharon has started a new series of TAST, 100 stitches to learn with one released each Tuesday. I’ve based my stitch sampler on the last TAST list so I’ve been trying to do the ‘Beyond TAST’ where she gives us a stitch or a family of stitches to develop a bit further over a month or so. The first month was running stitch and I was quite amazed how much I managed to do with simple running stitch.

The second month was ‘Isolated Stitches’, I’d been trying to work out where to include all the little odd stitches in my sampler book so here was my opportunity to put them all on a double page spread of Knots and Crosses! Apologies for the pun, it came to me half way through the flight to Australia!DSC_0012 (2)

I started with a tree of french knots, I’ve admired these on pinterest for ages so it gave me an opportunity to stitch one. Under the tree is a little row of straight stitches. I then tried three bullion roses, and a row of colonial knots. These are very similar to french knots, they’re formed in a different way which takes a bit to get your head round, but somehow they do seem to sit a bit neater. Pistil stitch is a bit like french knots on a stalk, so it was perfect for a seed head type of embroidery. I just managed to record our height before we started the descent to Adelaide.DSC_0119

Adelaide is a lovely city, not too big for a non-city person like me! We had a day wandering around, along the river, up to the Botanical Gardens and of course a glass of wine in the wine museum! It was Adelaide Festival weekend so there was all sorts of music and entertainment on the streets. There was even an air display of  jets doing loop the loop etc, this was a bit of a surprise to us as here in the UK, due to a couple of serious accidents, all air displays have to be over the sea, we can have a fly past over the cities but certainly no acrobatics.DSC_0013 (2)

The next block of stitches are Danish knots, sheaf filling, palestrina knot and Sorbello. Underneath is a woven spider web and a ribbed web, I really like the ribbed web. The bottom row are four-legged knots which really is like a knotted cross-stitch.

From Adelaide we drove down to the pretty town of Robe, where the sea was a beautiful mix of turquoise, jade and azure blue. After stretching our legs along the sea front we headed down to Portland for our first stay in an Air B&B. We had booked three nights in Air B&B’s, each very different but all great.DSC_0146

Before leaving the area we drove down to Cape Bridgewater to see the blowholes and the Petrified Forest. These look like fossilized trees but it’s actually just limestone eroding away. As I looked at the ‘trees’ I did think it would be an amazing theme for an embroidery, not sure it’s within my ability but it was an interesting thought!DSC_0283

The final group of stitches on this pages are detached wheatear (Tete-de-boeuf stitch), crown stitch and tulip stitch. I stitched this page with DMC 4514 which is pretty shades of jade, purple and pink. I think with hindsight I would have been better with a more ‘flowery’ colour, just because I ended up stitching  quite a few blossoms and flowers. DSC_0014 (2)

I stitched all the ‘crosses’ as we made our way along the Great Ocean Road to Sydney, but I’ll leave that for another post 🙂DSC_0010 (2)

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