Nineteen for 19

With three months of 2019 already gone, it’s time for an update on my Nineteen for 19 challenge;

  • 1 Scrap Quilt This will hopefully start this month as there’s a free quilt BOM I’m planning to make, just using my scraps – I desperately need to sort them out in the next couple of weeks into colours.
  • 2 Tutorials; I’ve not had time to start this one yet.
  • 3 sessions in the garden; March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. I’ve really enjoyed the last few mild, sunny spring weather in the garden. My three sessions a week in the garden has definitely paid dividends, I finally feel almost on top of the back garden, well as on top as I’ll ever be! I’ve sorted out the area by the compost heap, so it actually looks like part of the garden and I’ve done lots of weeding and pruning.
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  • 4 workshops; I’ve got three booked at Fabbadashery in Halifax, the first one is in June, I’m looking forward to it.
  • 5 presents; I’ve now made two presents, I made a bee mini cushion for my mum for her birthday. She loved it.
  • 6 quilts; Just one finished one at the moment, which was the baby quilt for my niece. I’ve got five on the go though (six if you include my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt!) I’m making one for a charity auction which is now sandwiched and just needs quilting, I’m hoping to do that next week. I’ve a quilt for the Care Leavers Christmas Dinners which just needs quilting too.
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  • 7 new patterns; I’ve finally used a new pattern, a straight button down skirt, hopefully I’ll use another one this month too.
  • 8 kits; My tally remains at two.
  • 9 mini embroideries; I stitched a vintage map for the Travelling Sketchbooks at Embroiderers Guild, so my tally is two with another one to stitch this month.
  • 10 things; I’m counting two sets of curtains as a ‘thing’, they were for my son’s house, he’s pleased with them. My total so far is now three.
  • 11 cross-stitch smalls; I’ve been quite productive this month with cross-stitch smalls, two were very quick to sew (the bumble bee and the QR code scissor fob) Hello Spring and the cute bunny taking a bit longer. I also made four smalls from cross-stitching I did on bibs and nappy pin cushions over twenty years ago, I’m not counting these in my tally though as all I did was make them up. So four this month takes my total up to nine!!! Almost completed this challenge already!
  • 12 pages in my book; I haven’t started this project yet, though I think I have worked out in my mind how I’m going to do it.
  • 13 clothes made;I have finally made an item of clothing! A denim skirt with a button down front and a machine embroidered border. I’ve worn it several times and had lots of compliments 🙂
  • 14 drawers organised;I’ve started sorting out all my patterns on the computer, somehow they all end up in different places! I’ve been putting them into folders to try and corale them all. I’ve also started printing off my cross-stitch patterns on the computer, as otherwise they just get lost and forgotton about. I’ve put them in a file so when I want a new project I can just flick through. With previous months sorting I’m counting this as three, even though they weren’t drawers!
  • 15 minutes tidy-up at the end of a sewing session; I’m getting better at this and it does make a difference!
  • 16 books; I’m doing pretty well at reading now, finding different time slots to make it work, such as my train journey to work or the bus journey to my mums. I finished Circling the Sun, I also read Miss Eleanor Oliphant is Fine, this is a wonderful book though it took me a while to get used to the style of writing, I was pretty quickly hooked into the story. It was interesting to see how people can completely misunderstand behaviours and social interaction due to major traumas in childhood. I also read This is going to Hurt by Adam Kay, he was a doctor in the NHS and these are excerpts from his diaries from when he first qualified to being a Senior Registrar. I’ve worked in the NHS for the majority of the last 35 years so I could relate so much to the tales he told, some were very, very funny, but it’s also poignant and sad to read about the workings (or not!) of the NHS and how it affects the staff who work so hard to keep it going. So I’ve read six books this year, I’m pretty pleased with this.
  • 17 blogs a month;I wrote 22 posts in March.
  • 18 walks; I’ve not done so well at this one as my tally remains at three, our plans for walks kept being thwarted. The good news is my toe is fine now after the offending nail was removed (it was falling off following our walk last year!!) I’m now hopeful for the weekly walks we have pencilled in our diaries for this month.
  • 19 Splendid Sampler blocks;This has been on a bit of a back burner this month as I’ve been concentrating on the charity quilt and keeping up with my Coming Home quilt BOM, so what I’m trying to say is I haven’t done any more this month, but as my total is already 9 I’m quite happy!

Another busy month sewing wise, my longer term projects have also taken up quite a lot of time, such as my Coming Home quilt, Nature cross-stitch and of course my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt. With a new quilt BOM and a cross-stitch SAL starting this month I really need to get a few finishes under my belt!

There’s also quite a few challenges that I’ve not even made a start on so I think I need to concentrate my mind a bit or maybe clear the decks a bit!

Posted in Dressmaking, embroidery, Nineteen for 19, Quilting, Sewing, Smalls of the Month | Tagged | 7 Comments

Spring Wreath Quilt

Over the weekend I decided to catch up with my Spring Wreath quilt, I had two blocks waiting to be stitched and I knew the next pack was on it’s way. This is a Block of the Month I started in the autumn, It’s designed by Andrea Walpole of Raggedy Ruff Designs. I’d not done machine embroidery before so it’s been a huge learning curve, but Andreas instructions are great and she’s always on facebook for any queries or support.

I made the blocks one evening, I was planning to just stitch the squirrels, but having pieced the background I decided that having enjoyed two glasses of wine it really wasn’t the time to start machine embroidery…so I made the owl background block instead and prepped all the applique for both blocks.

I started embroidering the squirrels the next day. I think this is the trickiest block so far, possible due to all the thin branches. One of my squirrels has a leg in mid air, but perhaps he’s mid-step! I find with this type of machine embroidery it is important{for sanity!} to keep taking a step back, as close up you can see all the wiggles and squiggles, but from a distance the eye sees the right line…fortunately!

Spring Wreath Quilt

In some ways the owl was a little easier, mainly because his eyes are closed, the eyes are definitely the hardest bit as they do make or break the picture, closed is much easier! The lower squirrel looks a little cross because of his eyes!

I really enjoyed stitching all the plumage on the owl, I love the effect of his wings in particular.

Spring wreath quilt

I’ve now stitched five wildlife blocks and a four extra blocks for in between, all that’s left is the borders which are made over two months (one arrived today so I can crack on with it!) I had a bit of a play yesterday on my design board, working out where the blocks would probably go, I’m so pleased with it, it’s been a delight to make, once I got over the nerves!

Spring Wreath Quilt
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April Smalls

It’s a new month and we’re not long into a new season as well, so I’ve a fresh set of cross-stitch smalls on display. I’m trying to keep it fairly seasonal so there is a lamb, a gosling and a fluffle of bunnies too this month as Easter is approaching and we’ve also seen rabbits on the back lane for the first time in years, it’s nice to see them but also slightly worrying when it’s so close to the garden!

I display my cross-stitch smalls on a burr elm dish which is very shallow, I’ve decided five or six is the optimum number…

April Cross-stitch smalls

I stitched the April small last year, it’s from the Joyful World SAL by Matya of Snowflower Diaries, I’ve still to make the last three so I need to start stitching those sometime over the summer or October will be here before I know it!

Joyful World by Snowflower Diaries

I stitched the Hello Spring one and the cute rabbit with a daisy over the last couple of months, I made the most progress on Hello Spring when I was stranded on a train for five hours! It’s free design from the website Il Est Cinq Heures. It wasn’t the easiest to stitch as it’s cross-stitch over one thread – not my favourite! The daisy rabbit is designed by Dany Chevalier, there’s a cute one of a rabbit with a daffodil too which is on my to do pile!

The two light blue ones with the jumping rabbits and a gosling were stitched over twenty years ago, they were on a bib (rabbits) and a nappy pin cushion, a few weeks ago I had a bit of session and turned baby cross-stitched things into smalls.

baby cross-stitch

The little blackwork sheep at the front is in the collection as the fields are full of tiny lambs at the moment, all gamboling around in the sunshine! I stitched it last year as a practice run for a blackwork square I volunteered to stitch for my Embroiderers Guild.

Blackwork Sheep

I’m enjoying having my little seasonal display, it means they all have their moment of glory, rather than just being sat in a cupboard. I think I need to stitch a few more summery ones now.

Posted in embroidery, Smalls of the Month | Tagged | 8 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

We’ve had another mild, sunny week, I managed a good session in the front garden digging up more weeds, still plenty to go though! The back garden though is looking pretty respectable at the moment, it’s that time of year when things change almost daily, new shoots appearing, leaves unfurling or flowers opening. After several months of winter it’s a lovely time of year.

Spring garden

Last week my magnolia stellata was just coming into flower, it is now glorious, the scent fills the air as you walk past. The mild weather means the flowers are lasting well, bad weather turns them brown as they are so delicate.

Spring garden

Round the patio I’ve several pulsatillas (Pasque flower) just starting to flower, I used to have a semi-circle of them until we had some building work done and they all disappeared, last year I planted three or four replacememts. I really like these plants as not only is the flower pretty but the seed heads are big fluffy silver heads which last for ages and look lovely.

Spring garden

The daffodils have lasted well this year, they’re still making a colour splash under the roses. The road embankments and verges here in the UK look wonderful at this time of year as they are often covered in daffodils. I think quite a few years ago councils made a concerted effort to plant the bulbs and now after decades of dividing they really cheer us up as we travel around. I have a vague recollection from when I was a young child of seeing the council workmen planting hundreds of bulbs along the roadsides, so we’re talking about 40 plus years ago!

Spring garden

There’s all sorts of shoots appearing round the pond, Solomon’s Seal, hostas, dicentra, mint, geranium, in a few weeks time it will look very different. At the moment the hellebores are still putting on a good show.

Spring garden

Azaleas are just coming into flower too, they seem to be a bit a head of the rhododendrons. This purple one is in my Amber & Amethyst garden, it’s just a little one.

Spring garden

Sometimes plant arrangements work better than I could have hoped for, at the entrance to the Amber & Amethyst (AA) garden I have a purple hebe, my favourite wine hellebore, a berberis and an amber primula I planted last week, the colours work really well together. I just need the hebe and the berberis to grow a bit more!

Spring garden

I’ve one UFO appeared, it always makes me nervous when I can’t identify a plant, mainly because I have such a weed problem! The only thing that makes me hesitate in thinking it’s a weed is that it is such a lovely purple colour and it’s in the AA garden. Any help in naming this plant would be appreciated…

? Weed

I’m trying to crack on with the front garden at the moment, whilst keeping a close eye on the back so it doesn’t suddenly run away from me!

Spring garden
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Embroidered Denim Skirt

The other day I decided to make myself a top, I chose a fairly straight forward pattern with a crossover drape across the front and some lightweight jersey from my stash. I cut it out and then tested a few stitches on my sewing machine, whatever I did it ate the fabric, I tried a flat zigzag, a stretch stitch, different sizes, I had a new jersey needle in the machine but the machine kept stopping ‘for safety reasons’, namely that it was eating the fabric! I tried the overlocker with no more success! In the end I abandoned it and made a skirt instead!!

I bought this length of denim a couple of years ago on Otley market, it has a band of embroidered flowers along one edge. It’s one of those lengths that after I’d bought it I began to have second thoughts, mainly because the embroidery is in quite bright colours, was it too much! I decide to try it…

Newlook 6013

I chose a pattern I picked up from the swap table at the Dewsbury Sewing meet-up, Newlook 6013, it’s just a straight skirt with a button front and a split at the back. I decided it would work in denim.

It went together really easily, I chose a snazzy sewing fabric for the inside pocket lining which adds like a secret splash of colour. I lowered the height of the split by about 4″ as I felt it would have barely covered my bottom! The pattern also only used six buttons, as you can see I used about nine as I wanted the slightly closer together and a lot further down! I still haven’t quite mastered the knack of remembering to turn the button the right way up before hammering the back in. I used the keyhole buttonhole stitch on my sewing machine and they’ve come out OK.

Newlook 6013

I made a straight size 14 and I’m pretty pleased with the fit, it’s comfortable to wear and most importantly the buttons stay done up! I was thinking if the embroidery looks a bit bright I could always wash it with a few dark blue towels, but now it’s made up I really like it, it doesn’t look as bright.

Newlook 6013

I still need to make some tops so I need to master jersey sometime soon!

Posted in Dressmaking, Sewing | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

Busy Bees

It’s my mum’s birthday tomorrow, I took her to a quilt show last month as an early birthday present, we had a great time looking at all the beautiful quilts on display and mooching around the stalls. This was our favourite quilt, it was one of a series by Brazillian quilter Monika Wutzl…

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I realised at the weekend that she will have forgotten about the trip almost immediately so I decided to make her a little something to open on the day, it’s so difficult to think of presents for someone in a carehome. I decided to make a little cross-stitch small which could sit in her room. Talk about last minute, I started it on Sunday afternoon!

I found a gorgeous cross-stitch pattern of a bumble bee on Etsy, by Robyn’s Nest . We used to keep bees when I was a child so I hoped it might jog her memory a little. Luckily the design was quick to stitch, I finished it on Monday evening! I used a scrap of a pale gold linen which I think works perfectly.

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By chance I’d bought (on impulse as usual!) two lengths of bee themed fabric at the weekend too. It arrived on Wednesday so I just had time to finish it before I visited today. I seem to have acquired a little collection of bee fabrics…

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I fussy cut two bee fabrics for the front, adding a length of narrow ricrac and some bee cotton tape – it’s amazing what I find in my trimmings box , I really must have a sort out!! To finish the edge I found some little pearl beads which were slightly tinged with yellow. After fiddling for a while trying to stitch them on evenly I remembered a simple trick I read about years ago. I made two dots on my thumb as markers for where to stitch the beads. It worked a treat!

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I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, I love the bee, in fact I’m tempted to stitch one for myself! Most importantly, my mum loved it too.

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From QR to SAL

I didn’t know what a QR code was until last week, well I knew what they were, I just didn’t know they had a name! A QR code is one of those funny little square codes for scanning that pop up every where these days.

A couple of weeks ago I saw an intriguing little cross-stitch which is a freebie on the facebook page of the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria. It’s a cross-stitch of the QR code for Love is patient, Love is kind. It looked a pretty quick stitch and although I wasn’t convinced it would work, I rather liked the idea of being able to scan a cross-stitch.

It didn’t take long to stitch at all, I used one of my favourite DMC variegated threads which has soft shades of green and purple. I was very careful not to have a stitch wrong, I’m not sure how these codes work, I wouldn’t like to be one stitch out and end up with Fifty Shades!

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Having stitched it I had to try it out! This was a bit of a learning curve, I had to find an app for my phone, download it and then work out how to use it! To my amazement it worked! Well it worked the first time, I couldn’t replicate it to show my OH!

I decided to make it into a scissor fob, it’s about the right size and I’ve also just treated myself to some new embroidery scissors from a quilters destashing group (a dangerous page to be on!!) They are made by Premax, I loved the shape of them and they are a lovely weight to use too. I found some co-ordinating purple cotton for the back, I added the beads round the edge and then made a length of cord from perle thread. I did get in a bit of a pickle putting the cord in as I forgot it was easier to put it in before you stitch the bottom up, so I was trying to thread it in with a large needle from corner to corner. After much faddling about I undid a few stitches and pushed the knots in!

I’ve just ordered some more DMC threads and linen for a new stitch-a-long which Faby Reilly is organising. I’ve stitched a couple of her SAL’s and quite a few other designs too as I really like her style…

This time the Zoe SAL, as it’s called, will make an embroidered box, the list of threads includes my favourite thread above so we’re onto a good start! The patterns will be released every couple of weeks starting in mid April, Faby usually plans it pretty well in that the amount to be stitched can comfortably be completed in the two weeks. So if any one fancies joining me with the Zoe SAL, just follow the link to Faby’s site.

Posted in embroidery, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned an old saying that if March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb, well it’s certainly been true this year, it’s mild, calm and sunny, lovely spring days.

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I was on annual leave last week so I took advantage of the mild weather and spent several hours each day in the garden. I really feel I’ve achieved a lot, the back garden finally looks tidy, well as tidy as mine ever gets! I’ve weeded and dug, pruned and trimmed, moved plants and planted new plants. Today I enjoyed sitting under my arbour with a cup of coffee, enjoying the flowers and plants.

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I even have a plan for my weed problem! I have rather a lot of nasty invasive weeds, the worst ones being mares tail and bindweed, with couch grass and bramble coming close behind! Having spoken to a nursery man at our WI meeting he suggested using Root-out, rather than a standard weedkiller, but he also suggested applying it every three weeks. This is where I probably go wrong usually, as the weeks just go by! I’m going to put a three weekly reminder on my calendar, he reckoned it would sort the weeds out in a season, to be honest I’ll be happy if they are sorted within a year! The worst area for weeds is our front garden, especially marestail, I started digging and weeding yesterday but as you can see it’s a huge job, fingers crossed the three weekly plan works!

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One of my favourite trees in the garden has just started to flower, it’s a magnolia stellata, it’s dainty white flowers are beautiful, especially with the sun shining through them. This was one of the first trees I planted when I first moved here twenty years ago, it’s very slow growing so it’s still not very tall.

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The trees are just starting to come into leaf, they all start at different times, hawthorns are usually one of the first and sycamores seem to be one of the last. I love the vivid fresh green of the new growth, our rose hedge is just starting to unfurl it’s leaves and just look at the colour!

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We have a couple of good plant stalls on Otley market, good quality plants at reasonable prices, I always have a peruse as every so often there’s a real gem – my wine coloured hellebore (which is still in flower!!) came from the market. This week I fell for three plants, a peach coloured peony (I love peonies!), a very pretty pale pink camelia and a primula in a gorgeous amber colour, perfect for my Amber & Amethyst garden…

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…I still haven’t quite worked out where I’m going to put the camelia, but it was so pretty I couldn’t resist it, I’ve put it in a pot whilst I make my mind up. It compliments the miniature flowering cherry behind it.

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The pond garden is looking pretty at the moment, the hellebores are still in flower, but there’s also pulmoniria and a vivid blue anemone too. The green shhots of hosta and iris are starting to appear too, so it won’t belong before it really greens up.

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I’ve pretty much worked out what I’m going to do at the top of the front garden,so I’m a bit more motivated to clear it, put some membrane down and a mulch and then plant through it (keeping up with my three weekly sprays!) I’m going to have a Yorkshire themed rose garden, so far the roses I’m thing of are Harlow Carr (an RHS garden in Harrogate) Emily Bronte (lived up the road in Haworth) Scarborough Fair (Scarborough is a lovely Seaside town on the east coast of Yorkshire – and I love the song!) and William and Catherine (well I’ve got to have a white rose in there and Catherine’s family have links to Yorkshire) If anyone can think of other roses, please let me know!

To finish with, here’s a photo of Rosie, enjoying the sunshine, she loves just being in the garden whilst I’m outside. I think she looks gorgeous with the sun shining behind her.

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Moving Down the Rabbit Hole

I’m making slow but steady progress with the hand quilting of my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, three weeks ago when I last showed you my quilt this is how far I’d got…

I’d just started the sunflower border quilting. Well I’ve managed at least a couple of evenings of quilting so I’ve made reasonable progress, I’ve now completed two sunflowers and a dresdon flower too, so I’m almost half way round this border. The insides of the Dresden flowers weren’t easy to quilt due to all the extra layers of fabric in seams extra, I ended up stab stitching most of it, so I was quite glad to move onto the next sunflower! I’ve not yet removed all the basting lines, so if you’re wondering what the straight lines are, that will be basting!

When I’m feeling optomistic I look and think there’s only two narrow and one wide border left, when I’m not so positive I look at the size of the rabbit border and wonder when I’ll finally finish this quilt…slow but steady!

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.

KathyLoriMargaretKerryEmmaTracyDebConnieSusan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrin, and Gretchen

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

Posted in Crafts, Down The Rabbit Hole, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | 11 Comments

Tapestries and Vikings!

At my Guild meeting we had a fascinating talk about the Stamford Bridge Tapestries. Most people have heard about 1066 and the Battle of Hastings, all gloriously illustrated on the Bayeux Tapestries. 1066 was quite a tumultuous year here in Britain with three English kings and two major battles. I remember reading the Simon Schama book on the history of Britain, I was on the train going to work when I was reading about 1066, it was so exciting I didn’t want the train to get to Leeds!!

The Battle of Stamford Bridge here in Yorkshire happened just three weeks before Hastings, without it the outcome in Hastings would probably have been very different. The troops had to march from London up to Yorkshire (over 200 miles) there was then a very bloody battle with the Vikings which resulted in the Norwegians leaving in less than 30 boats, having arrived in over 300! The English troops rested in York for a couple of days before they heard France had invaded in the South, so the battle weary troops had to march back down to the south coast to fight another battle, and the rest is history, as they say!

As the battle of Stamford Bridge was really just as important as Hastings, someone in the village had the idea of making a tapestry to depict the story, along the lines of the Bayeux Tapestry. A team got together, they started about five years ago and have almost completed the twelve panels. They are amazing to see, each about 120cm across with lots of detail in the pictures. The team of embroiderers tended to specialise in certain bits, one lady was good at dogs, another horses etc, they tried to ensure characters were recognisable from one panel to the next by the colour of their clothing.

Stamford Bridge Tapestries

They used Bayeux stitch mainly which gives good coverage whilst being very economical with the thread. It was also interesting to hear how they transferred the outlines for the embroidery. They didn’t want to risk using supposedly disappearing pens on the front, so they traced a reversed outline onto calico which was the backing for the embroidery, they could then stitch a fine running stitch through both layers along all the lines, giving a clear outline on the front. Ingenious I thought!!

Stamford Bridge Tapestries

It is hoped the tapestry will be on permanent display in Stamford within the next few months, it will be worth a visit if you’re in the area. Apologies for the quality of my photos, they were taken on my mobile, there’s lots more photos on Skipton Embroiderer’s Guild website if you follow the link.

Stamford Bridge Tapestries
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