Eighteen for 18 Update

May has flown by and has been a pretty busy month, I painted Mum’s house, baked cakes for Askwith Show, stitched for three days in Grassington as well as all the usual stuff like gardening, sewing etc. So how have I done with my eighteen challenges;

  • 1 Etsy store opened; Still at the thinking stage, but I’ve just applied to have a stall at Crafts in the Pen in Skipton, so that gives me something to aim for!
  • 2 Tutorials; Nothing as yet.
  • 3 Sessions a week in the garden; I’m still doing well at this, my three sessions are getting longer too in the nice weather, though the weeds are starting to get me down again, planning to buy Pathclear in bulk!Garden in May
  • 4 Quilts; I’ve started quilting my peacock panel, so although my tally remains at 1.5 there is progress! Pat Sloan is starting a new Splendid Sampler soon and I must admit I’m tempted, however this time I am thinking of only using fabrics from my scrap bins, which are overflowing!  I’ve started hand-quilting a mini quilt to practise for my DTRH quilt when I get it back next month. So there’s a few in progress!hand quilting
  • 5 Craftsy Classes; I started watching the Leah Day Free Motion Quilting class last month and I’ve watched a few more classes, I’m adapting things slightly as Leah is demonstrating on a specific quilt which you can make or buy as a panel, I’m using my Peacock panel which isn’t ideal but is a lot prettier! I’ll try and post about it later this week.DSC_0049 (2)
  • 6 New Patterns; I’ve tried another new pattern, my evening dress, which turned out pretty well, so my tally is now three, so half way there!
  • 7 Kits stitched; I started my Blackbird this month at the Stitching in the Dales retreat, I’ve still a bit to do but Bertie is looking splendid! So my tally remains at two with another on the way.Blackbird Embroidery by Nicola Jarvis
  • 8 Pages in my stitch sampler book;I’ve not stitched any more pages but with six completed I’m well ahead on this one.
  • 9 Pounds Lost!!! I think I’ve plateaued this month, which is better than last month! I lost the plot a bit with baking etc as I do like licking the bowl out and I need to do the occasional quality control!!
  • 10 Mini Embroideries; Total for the year remains at four; I’ve one to do for the travelling sketchbook in the next couple of weeks on the subject of Down the Microscope! I think mine might be more down the flouroscope but I do have an idea…just got to get it to work! This is a mapping system we use at work called Carto, could look pretty in silk with sequins 🙂
  • 11 Letters to friends; I wrote another letter to a school friend this month, so two so far. I’ve also found lots of A5 cards my mum had made of her drawings, I thought they would be a nice size to write letters in without being too long!
  • 12 Boxes or Drawers sorted in sewing room; My running total here is seven as I’ve been too busy trying to amalgamate my mums stuff to do much with mine. I have reorganised a few drawers on the landing though. We’ve got an old pine chest which used to be my Grandad’s workbench, I’ve emptied three drawers to the bureau downstairs which we’ve just got from my mum’s so I’m thinking of putting my quilting fabric in those drawers. It’s a bit cheeky really as it does mean my stash is creeping out of my sewing room! Hopefully I’ll sort them this month, but for the time being the total stays at seven.
  • 13 New Recipes; I’ve done quite well at this in May, I tried two recipes from the Weightwatchers cookbook which went down well, I also baked a lime and elderflower cake for the show as I thought it might sell well after the Royal Wedding, it tasted delicious and got quite a few compliments from customers! My tally is now five, so doing a bit better now!
  • 14 Less Lengths in my stash! Two lengths down as my evening dress took a length of taffeta and a length of sequins. I’m just about to cut out another dress too! On the downside I’m off to London for a weekend soon and I might just visit Goldhawk Road on the Friday when I first arrive 🙂
  • 15 Posts a month; I actually managed 23 posts in May! The photo challenges help but I would still be ahead without them.Catbells 2
  • 16 cross-stitch smalls; I’ve finished four this month after having a couple of evenings concentrating on finishes. I think the poppies is my favourite one. I’ve another one almost finished so there should be at least one more in June! So my running total is now eleven!
  • 17 items of clothing made. With my evening dress I’ve now made three things this year, I’ve just collected my Chanel jacket from having buttonholes made, so hopefully that will be finished this month, but I’ve a bit of catching up to do on this one.Making a Chanel Jacket
  • 18 Walks; WI walking club started again this month with a lovely walk in the sunshine, my friend and I have now also planned in our diraies on or two walks a month until we do St Cuthberts Way, so only two so far but hopefully more to come!DSC_0080


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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

It smells lovely as we open the back door at the moment, a philadelphus is in full flower and the scent fills the air, it’s quite a heady scent, it’s other name is mock orange blossom. This is the golden leafed version, it’s in a shady spot so the leaf colour stays pretty good all season.philadelphus

The roses are just starting to bloom, there’s lots of buds but just the occasional one open. The gorgeous coppery pink one is called Lady Emma Hamilton, I bought three last year for the AA garden, I often plant three close together to give the impression of one big bush. The little copper one is a rescue from my mums garden, it’s called Port Sunlight which is where she had childhood holidays as family lived there. The rose was still in it’s pot looking decidedly sorry for itself. It’s a patio rose so I’ve planted it at the front of the border on the AA garden. I think the pink one is the Alnwick rose.

Different irises are flowering each week, these ones are from bulbs, rather than corms, I do find them easier to grow! The blue one is gorgeous, it’s a deep blue delicately edged with a thin silver line. There’s a big patch of them surrounding the birdbath on the patio. The yellow one is up by the pond and in the pond!

It’s the week for foxgloves too, a huge clump has flowered down by the conservatory, I think this one is self sown but it is beautiful, even my OH has commented on it! Up by the obelisk there’s a lovely array of different coloured foxgloves, purple, pink, light ones and dark ones, there’s also a stunning white one which you can just see on the photo of the whole garden.

The clematis are starting to climb the fence. I had to chuckle yesterday when my OH said there was already bindweed growing up the fence, I pointed out that actually they were clematis, already over half way up. He couldn’t believe they had grown so quickly!Clematis

The weeds are growing quickly as well, I’ve had several good sessions in the garden but I think I’m going to have to resort to lots of weedkiller and just hope there’s not too much collateral damage, I’ve some that can be painted on which does help me to be more precise, my other trick is to unwind bindweed and put it in a nappy bag (AKA dog poop bag!) I can then spary it liberally inside the bag and then tie the handles loosely. I can then easily tell which ones have been sprayed and it makes me less likely to get impatient and pull them up before the poison had had chance to reach the roots.Garden in June

From a distance there’s lots of green in the garden and not so much colour, but hopefully that will change over the next month as the roses really put on a show.DSC_0320 (2)

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Hand Quilt a long 2

It’s three weeks since I last showed my hand quilting project. This is just a little practise one before I get my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt back from being basted. I was hoping my quilt would be back by now but my computer managed to spam the message saying it was ready, so I missed it and now my LAQ is on holiday! It’s probably a good thing really since I’ve had a really busy couple of weeks so I wouldn’t have had chance to really settle down and plan what I am doing.

In the meantime…

Three weeks ago my panel looked like this…

I’d just quilted around the bird and I was deciding how to do the rest of the panel.

I decided to quilt what I need to practise, so I’m cross-hatching across the main square and then I’ll try a border strip at the top and two medallion type patterns in the little squares. It easier to see my stitching from the back I think, there’s a few missed stitches, but that’s why I’m doing a practise piece, so hopefully by the time I start my DTRH quilt I will vaguely know what I’m doing!

I’ve started the cross-hatching. I’m using masking tape as a guide and stitching about 1/4″ along side it. I was trying little stick on leather finger protectors last time, Kate suggested a Clover silicone thimble, it has a silicone side and a metal top. I bought a pretty pink one!

Using a thimble is a big learning curve for me, like I’ve never used one. Actually, when I think about it that’s a slight porky-pie, when I was a teenager I hand-quilted a double size quilt and used a thimble, but in those days we used the thimble underneath to bounce off, not on top to help push through. Thimbles work really well at protecting my fingers, because I seem to stop using that finger and use the one nextdoor instead!! On the embroidery course someone lent me a leather one to try and it was like I had my finger bandaged, it just sort sticks out and forgets how to work! I think it’s something I need to practise and work at!

One tool I am finding helpful is a teaspoon! I saw a clip on youtube a while ago where the quilter used a teaspoon underneath to lift the quilt and give the needle something to work against. With a spoon I can do three stitches in a row and it comes out much more even.

I’m probably about half way through the cross-hatching and it’s not coming out too bad…and I have to say it is quite relaxing 🙂

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,  NanetteSassy , EdithSharon and Bella.

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

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

Two for one!

Today you have a double whammy of photo challenges as not only is it Friday, it’s also the beginning of June so it time for the monthly photo challenge from Wild Daffodil as well as the Friday Photo Challenge from Postcard from Gibraltar!

Well, officially Wild Daffodils is due on Tuesday, but as the two themes are almost identical, sunshine and sunlight I’m amalgamating the two challenges for one big spot of sunshine 🙂Kiama Beach at dawn

This is one of my favourite photos from our recent holiday, the morning after the wedding Helen and I got up early and sat on the beach to watch the sunrise. It was beautiful, I love the way the sunlight just captures the spray of the wave.

Helen and Rosie sitting in the spring sunshine.

Radiant Quilt in Kaffe Fassett Fabrics

This was the quilt I gave as a wedding present in Australia, I called it ‘Feel the Sunshine’ after one of my favourite quotes, ‘To love and be loved is to feel the sunshine on both sides’ I nearly called the quilt Walking on Sunshine but I hesitated as it was played at a funeral I once went to, but the couple clearly love the song as they walked back down the aisle to the song.

My favorite tree in the garden, a magnolia stellata. It looks beautiful when the sunlight shines through the delicate petals.

Sunlight in the conservatory making Zachs coat shine, one day I would love to turn this photo into an embroidery…one day!


I love taking photos of sunlight through trees or foliage, so often you here people say you shouldn’t take photos pointing towards the sun, but some of my best photos are taken this way!

We’re hoping for a bit more sunshine at the weekend as it’s Askwith Show, a proper village show with cows, sheep, chickens,  fancy dress pony competitions, dog that looks most like it’s owner (Helen won that one year!), Punch and Judy, three legged races…and excellent refreshments in the village hall, I must go and bake some more cakes!


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Bertie the Blackbird

I’ve nicknamed my blackbird Bertie, as “my embroidered blackbird in the style of William Morris” is getting a bit of a mouthful! It was nearly Bill as I did think it could be a nod to William Morris,but he really doesn’t look like a Bill, so Bertie it is!

Bertie is a design by Nicola Jarvis which I started at Stitching in the Dales, a three day embroidery retreat organised by Grassington Embroiderers Guild  where Nicola was our tutor. She does lots of other beautiful designs, mainly of birds, in either silk thread or crewel work, so do follow the link if you are interested.

During the retreat Nicola started me on the various sections, moving me onto the next one once I was happy I knew what I was doing. Once home I decided to complete each section in the order of the instruction booklet. This is where I was when I last showed you Bertie just after I got home…Blackbird Embroidery by Nicola Jarvis

Next area to stitch was the ‘floral detail across upper back’, otherwise known as the twirly bits below his ruff! These are stitched with split stitch which doesn’t give as dense a coverage as satin stitch (or it doesn’t when I do it anyway!) but I rather like that effect.Blackbird by Nicola Jarvis

Once the twirly bits were done tiny seeding stitches were used in between the shapes. Nicola used that dreaded word when describing seeding, random, she did laugh when I mentioned that I hate that word, like I struggle with the concept. She had a student once who was a mathematician by profession, he declared that there was nothing in embroidery that was technically random as every stitch is carefully placed. I agree! Anyway, I managed a bit of random seeding stitches. I was meant to use a dark grey DMC thread but I couldn’t see anywhere in the instructions where I could use the rest of my black sparkly thread, so I used that instead, it’s just ever so slightly sparkly!Blackbird by Nicola Jarvis

The next area for me to complete is the large black leaf area in the middle. I stitched the satin stitch in class and I’m pretty pleased with the effect. Having checked the instructions I’ve realised I now need to turn it into “Laid work with Bayeaux stitch”, which basically means threads laid across the satin stitch to hold them in place with tiny holding stitches along too.

At the moment it almost looks like I’m nearly there, but there is actually still alot of work to do, once I’ve filled all the shapes in there is then lots of couching and edge stitching so I think it will be a little while before Bertie is fully fledged!Blackbird by Nicola Jarvis


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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

Garden in MayWe’ve had a little bit of rain this week (that’s because I finally got round to buying a hosepipe!) and everything seems to have shot up another 6 inches. The garden is really filling out now and colour is popping up everywhere…poppy

This poppy flowered this morning, yesterday it was just a tight, green bud, I thought it would be at least a couple more days, but today it looks stunning. I was pleased to see poppies at all this year as last year I had to do a big clearance due to the weeds in this bed, though I did make sure I spread plenty of the seeds around last year. This one is right next to the conservatory, so I can admire it when I’m sitting having my breakfast.Clematis on obelisk

Some of the early summer clematis are starting to flower, I have two climbing my big obelisk in the AA garden, I love the big blooms of the pale purple one, they’re about 5-6″ across. Two of the clematis growing up the big fence are already starting to flower, I only planted them a few weeks ago.Clematis on obelisk

I’ve spent a few hours this week trying to clear the rose bed of weeds, I’m digging up the buttercups etc and spraying things like dandelions and bindweed. You can see the big bare areas where I’ve weeded, the area to the right gives you and idea of the size of my problem!!weeding the rose bed!

Over by the pond the rhododendron is taking centre stage, it fascinates me does this shrub as half the flowers are purple and half are cerise, I used to think it was older flowers and new ones, but I’m not so convinced now! Maybe it’s just reverting to it’s natural colour.

In the front garden I have a large scottish rose, it is covered in flowers this week and the scent is gorgeous, it fills the air as you walk up the drive. I’ve never worked out how to prune this rose as it’s a different habit to your usual garden roses, but it flowers so beautifully that I just cut a bit back at the sides so the postman can get past!

My next big job is to clear the weeds from the front garden and put a double layer of membrane down, I’ll then plant shrubs with shreddings on top of the membrane. It’s never going to be a cure with so much marestail, but we did it on the bottom tier of the front garden a couple of years ago and it’s certainly more manageable. You can see the size of our problem! My OH did laugh the other day when he was watching DC Banks, a detective TV drama which is filmed round here. A body was found in an attic with a piece of marestail, “Marestail is only found in three places round here” !!! Luckily he didn’t give our address out 🙂

Sometimes in a garden plantings can work by chance, the other day when I was weeding the rose bed I looked across by the fence and the alliums, geraniums, perenial cornflower and aquilegia looked lovely, all different shades of purple intermingling . It makes all the hard work worth it!

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Tall Year Square Etui – SAL 7

It’s three weeks since I last showed you my etui box, It’s a pattern in Classic Inspirations by Betsy Morgan and each side represents a different season. I’m working on summer at the moment. This is where I was three weeks ago having just started this side…Betsy Morgan, Classin Inspirations Magasine.

I’ve not managed a huge amount as I’ve been stitching a few other things as well, but I’ve managed two or three evenings concentrating on this one.

I still don’t find the charts easy to read, whereas with cross-stitch charts usually one square represents one stitch, here each line represents a thread which I’m still having to really concentrate on. I’m also using my own choice of threads, selecting a few DMC variegated threads which I feel represent the season. Last time I still wasn’t 100% sure on my choice but I went with it.

The next border was the twisting lines, I still wasn’t too sure on colours but once I finished it I loved it, it just reminds me of a traditional cottage garden in summer, all blues, pinks, greens mixed in together. I’m still not sure about the purple at the bottom but it is staying, I’ll make sure there’s more in the top borders, I wanted it in for the heather on the moors in the summer.Tall Year Square

I’ve nearly finished the frog border, it’s in cross-stitch over a single thread, so I need good light to do it! He still needs two black beads as googly eyes and I need to stitch the second waterlily, these are stitched with bullion bars. I need to finish the leaf first but I’ve just run out of the green thread, so the lily will have to wait.Tall Year Square

The next border is the dragonflies, it looks beautiful so I’m looking forward to stitching this one. This is Betsy’s version;

Betsy Morgan, Classic Inspirations MagasineThere’s quite a few of us taking part in the SAL, so please follow the links to see lots of amazing embroidery. If you fancy joining us just send a message to Avis.


KathyMargaretCindyHelenStephLindaMary Margaret,


I’m also linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday.

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Blackwell House

Once a year my Embroiderers Guild has a day out instead of our monthly meeting, so on Monday we travelled by coach to visit Blackwell House which is situated near Windermere in the Lake District. This meant we had a lovely scenic drive up through the Yorkshire Dales and then into the Lake District and the sun shone all day too…

Blackwell is an Arts & Crafts house, I’ve been fascinated by the Ats & Crafts movement for years, I love the work of William Morris and his contempories so I was really interested to visit the house. We had an excellent talk and tour by one of their volunteer guides and we were also given a useful leaflet which explains the Arts & Crafts movement…DSC_0188

The Arts & Crafts movement was one of the most influential design movements of modern times. During the late 19th century there was a resurgence of interest in hand-made crafts, encouraged by William Morris and John Ruskin. Ruskin lived near Blackwell on the shores of Coniston. Arts & Crafts artists and supporters were passionate about keeping traditional handicrafts alive during the early days of mass production.

Arts & Crafts architects used local materials, building traditions and craftspeople to create buildings that were in harmony with the surrounding landscape and architecture. Designers…used organic shapes, colours and patterns to bring architecture and people closer to nature. They looked at every detail as part of the whole – from the door handles to the chairs.’DSC_0131

Blackwell was designed by Baillie Scott for a wealthy Manchester family who wanted a holiday home! It is situated just above Lake Windermere and unusually it’s main facade is facing south away from the lake. Baillie Scott designed it that way to maximise natural light, rather than having a lake view.DSC_0065

The interior is beautiful, lots of wood paneling and huge inglenook hearths with seating either side of the alcove. You can imagine during the cold Lake District winters they were a snug place to be.DSC_0096

The wood carvings were beautiful, these were screens high up in front of the minstrels gallery situated above the inglenook. I leaned out and took the photo pointing back, it captures all the detail of little birds amongst the trees and nests in the branches.

There is a theme running through the design details of rowan berries and bluebirds. The rowan can be seen on these wood carvings going all around the walls of the main hall.DSC_0060

There were lots of stained glass windows, often just little ones either side of the chimney, but they were beautiful, almost Art Deco in places. The bluebirds can be seen in many of these.


Many of the fires had a few decorative tiles too…


I loved the detail in the ironmongery, all the window catches were beautifully designed, all the door handles and even bolts were part of the overall image.


Outside in the garden were some pretty borders with a gorgeous wisteria, it did make me think I want one, to help cover up our big fence!DSC_0179

The house is also used as an exhibition space for ceramics, you can see a few in the photos above. There is also a fascinating ‘thing’ in the garden. I wondered what it was from the house as it is a big blue construction which kept getting in the way of my photos! When I explored the garden I realised it was a sort of natural kaleidescope. Inside a tube there were lots of mirrors to make several different images, here’s one of the lake..DSC_0167

All in all it was a lovely day out, Blackwell is a fascinating house, it has a lovely cafe too in which I had a slice of the lightest Victoria sponge ever!!



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Friday Photo Challenge

Today’s photo challenge is much easier than last week, todays word is ‘floral’, although my first thought was flowers from the garden, then I decided floral was a bit deeper than that, more of using a flower or the image of a flower, such as a floral arrangement, or floral fabric.

I haven’t done much in the way of floral arrangements, but we did have a mini workshop at our WI craft club where I made quite a pretty arrangement of flowers and candles.DSC_0020 (2)

My favourite dress at the moment is definitely floral, I made it last year and I have worn it lots of times. The fabric was a complete impulse buy, like it flashed up on facebook and within five minutes I’d bought a length! It’s one of those dress that makes me feel good, if ever I need a confidence boost I wear my red rose dress.McCalls 6966

If several flowers make floral, then I stitched a floral scene on wool at a recent Embroiderers Guild workshop. We felted blobs of wool on a piece of blanket fabric and then embroidered on top. I’ve put it in my Travelling Sketchbook as my theme is flowers.DSC_0022 (1)

Of course I couldn’t resist a floral arrangement of photographs from our garden…


If you would like to see more floral photographs, just follow the link to Postcards from Gibraltar.

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Cats and Clover

I finished my May cross-stitch from the Joyful World series ages ago but never got round to making it up. Having stitched my poppies humbug together I decided to keep going in stitching up mode…and stitched up three smalls!Cross-stitch smalls

I’m aiming to complete the whole set of Joyful World SAL by Snowflake Diaries, I think they are cute without being too twee. May is definitely cute with a cat and her kitten. This month I just made it into a simple pillow, twisted some cord from two green DMC flosses and hand-stitched it round. I’ve not even started stitching June so that one is going to be running late I think! I hang them in the conservatory just for their month.May; Joyful World SAL

The next two smalls you won’t have seen at all, I think I stitched them in the 1980’s and they’ve been sitting ever since in my workbox waiting to be displayed!

The cream cat is stitched in very fine needlepoint, over one thread, I can barely see the stitches now, never mind make them! I think it was a Lanarte kit. It was the second one I did like this and I vowed never again! One reason it was never made up is that it’s shape distorted to a trapezium and refused to realign to a rectangle, as there is a clear outline it stood out a mile if I wanted to frame it. It often is more of a problem with needlepoint rather than cross-stitch as all the stitches (and therefore the tension) go the same way. The other needlepoint miniature framed up beautifully, it’s of two cute kittens. I had two cats at the time so I stitched a few cat embroideries.

Anyway, back to the cream cat. I decided to ignore the fact that the outline wasn’t straight, and just squared it up. I found a pretty quilting cotton which coordinated with it nicely, picking out the soft pink of the pillow the cat is sat on. I cut a strip 1.5″ wide and made a log-cabin border around the edge to frame it and make it a bit bigger. The actual embroidery is only about 2.25″ by 3″Needlepoint cat pillow

I backed it in the same fabric and stuffed it. To finish it I found some ric-rac in my trimmings box, I think I bought this in Cool Crafting in Skipton, it’s a gentler zigzag than normal and has a sort of feather stitch down the middle. I stitched it over the seam with a soft pink bead on every zig-zag. I really like the effect.Needlepoint cat pillow

The third one to get finished is also from the 1980’s (yes, it’s probably been in my box about 30 years, all stitched and no where to go!) I stitched a few of these and I seem to think it was from a leaflet, I made the snowdrop one up a couple of months ago…Cross-stitch snowdrop

…I’ve a crab-apple in a cheap frame, earmarked for turning into a mini pillow, and I’m pretty sure I’ve a holly one too amongst my Christmas stuff. This one is a clover,which brings back childhood memories of fields full of clovers, hunting the elusive four-leafed clover.

I decided to make the clover one along the same lines as the snowdrop one, so I stitched a couple of rows of herringbone in two shades of green and added some pretty pink beads. I found a sort of clover pink ric-rack in my trims box which nicely went over the seam. Three little mother of pearl buttons just seemed to finish it nicely.Clover cross-stitch small

I’ve now got a few seasonal smalls on display in our dining room, in time I want to make a display box to put them in, but the window sill will suffice for now!Cross-stitch smalls

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