Stitching Away

Last weekend we finally had a few days away, staying in a cottage in a tiny hamlet in Northumberland. It was bliss, just to get away and relax, of course I took some sewing with me…

I took four hand-sewing projects with me – well I wouldn’t want to run out!! I worked on my Bethlehem embroidery, which I’ll show you on Sunday with the SAL post. I also took with me a cross-stitch I started a couple of weeks ago, this is my ‘in my handbag’ project. It’s a Dimensions kit, I think I bought it on a destash facebook page, it’s for Christmas without being too Christmassy. It’s like a mock patchwork design round ‘Believe’.

I started in the middle as usual, I nearly came a cropper when I was stitching the word backwards – never my strong point – I nearly missed the ‘L’ out!! Luckily I hadn’t got far into the ‘E’ when I realized my mistake, though I did have to fudge a bit as the ‘L’ is meant to be one stitch wider!

The threads come ready attached to a strip with all the numbers on, which is great, except I can’t re-attach leftover lengths to keep them safe. The obvious thing to do would be to make myself a thread card with a hole puncher, instead I’ve just been using the thread up on other sections of the design, hence the odd bits of colour all round!

It’s coming together nicely, I’m wondering about making a patchwork border round it to make it into a cushion, I’ll see how it looks when it’s finished.

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Wild Twinchies

Over the summer Sandra, who blogs at Wild Daffodil, started making twinchies. Twinchies are two inch squares of fabric which can then be embellished as you want. It’s surprising how much you can fit on a two inch square!

Sandra made a background by layering fabrics randomly on a calico background, before stitching lines over the pice to hold it all together. She then cut it up into 2″ squares and asked if anyone fancied stitching one or two. My hand went up straight away!

A couple of weeks later two twinchies arrived in the post, I put it in a safe place and there it sat until last weekend. I have to be honest and admit that was probably partly because when I first got them out the colours didn’t inspire me, I didn’t get any ideas jumping out…

At the weekend I was in the mood for ticking boxes, you know, the list of things you have to do with a time scale, so I got them out again and had another look. I got my trims drawer out too and started to get some ideas. I forgot to photo the first one before I started, but it was mainly the muted foliage pattern you can see behind. I found some looped trim which I got on my last trip to Hobbycraft (this is what happens when you have a £5 birthday voucher you have to spend!!) It made a rather nice flower and the colours worked perfectly. I drew a small circle with a silver gel pen just to give me a guide line, then stitched the loopy trim in a circle. I filled the centre with french knots and added a ric-rac stem. First twinchie complete!

The second one had three layers of fabrics, as the middle one was green and the bottom one had flowers on I decided it could be a landscape, here’s the twinchie before I started…

I added two scraps of lace from my trims drawer and started stitching. I decided to use fly-stitch – I remember Helen from Untangled Threads saying it was a great filler! I started with the green lace and some green and purple variegated thread. I did them varying heights and sizes, overlapped them and then repeated the exercise with the ecru lace at the bottom. I started off with a light beige and blue thread but it wasn’t so effective at first, I doubled my thread up and that helped…

I then decided to fill the green and purple strip with more fly-stitch, in one of my favourite blends which has dark purple, green and rust. I kept stitching until it was all nicely blended…

So here’s my two finished twinchies together, I’m pretty pleased with how they came out, so thanks Sandra for pushing me out of my comfort zone! They were fun to stitch and didn’t take long at all, seen as they’re only two inches square! They’re hopefully winging their way to Dorset at the moment.

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Anthea Calendar SAL

Last weekend I managed to finish this month’s cross-stitch for the Anthea Calendar, this is the SAL by Faby Reilly with a seasonal flower design for each month.

September’s was a delight to stitch, the flower is the autumn crocus, or colchicum, otherwise known as Naked Ladies as they flower before the leaves come up. I haven’t got any in the garden, probably because my friend and I never manage to get to the autumn flower show in Harrogate and I can imagine there’s a few sold there.

Anyway, the design was stitched with I think about five shades of purple, ranging from a dark royal purple to almost white, they blended together beautifully. I stitched it on a soft purple linen from Permin, it works really well.

As usual the back-stitching and the embellishments make the design, this one has green and gold rice-stitch round the edge broken up with purple spider web stitches. A few tiny gold beads for stamens finishes the design.

I need to stitch the back-stitched edge round still which I will use to stitch the pages together. Having stitched round all the other pages last month I want to keep up with it. All I need to do then is the wordplay for September but I usually wait until a bit nearer the end of the month for that. Just three months to go…

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

Foot Square Freestyle

I’ve just made my blocks for this month’s recipient for Foot Square Freestyle, which made me realise I haven’t shared last months blocks yet – we’re not allowed to share them until the following month to try and keep the element of surprise there for the lucky person whose month it is. By that time I’ve forgotten about them!!

Last month it was Kate’s month. Kate organises the whole swop and tries to keep us all in order. Kate’s chosen colours were pale to mid greys with a bright colour. I had several pale greys left from my coming home quilt and a few brights in my scrap box. It’s interesting choosing the blocks, most of mine come from a book called A Block a Day, so I’ve 365 to choose from, but certain colour schemes seem to work better with a more modern style block.

The first block is called Midsummer, illustrated in oranges and yellows. Mine looks completely different in pale grey and red, but I like the crispness of it.

The second block is called twist. It’s described as ‘simple to stitch with high impact’ I’d agree with that, the top stripe is more magenta than red. I think this is the second time I’ve stitched this block.

The final block is called Hole in the Corner, I feel it may have worked better with a little more contrast in the greys, but I still like it.

These blocks will be winging there way over to Australia once it is safe to do so. If you follow the link to the Foot Square Freestyle blog you can see all the other blocks made for Kate.

Just for comparison, these are the same two blocks made earlier in the year…

Posted in F2F, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , | 5 Comments

The Cottage Garden Quilt

I’m really enjoying making this quilt, it’s from a book by Kathryn Whittingham who’s a local designer – pre-covid she ran quilting classes at Fabbadashery in Halifax. Last time I shared my progress I was embroidering some of the applique blocks…

Since then I’ve embroidered another two blocks and started making them up into their full quilt blocks, I’m really pleased with my fabric selection so far, all pretty pinks, greens and blues…

I stitched a tall red flower. The applique is all done with bondaweb, I tend to blanket-stitch round many of them, though Kathryn just does a neat back-stitch. Once the stitching was done I cut out 22 squares and made the borders.

I stitched a little garden hand fork, there is a trowel to go with it but that is further down the quilt…

I stitched the border round the little pink heart, it’s a simple log cabin block, I was originally going to do pinks on one half and greens on the other, but the traditional light and dark looked so much better..

I made four pinwheels, these actually go in a line on the final layout…

I think it’s going to be a very pretty quilt, this is the layout so far, though I may rearrange some of the pinwheels…

Hand Quilt Along Links

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

Kathy, Margaret, TracyDeb, Susan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrin, Gretchen, Daisy, Connie, Monica and Sherrie

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

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , | 19 Comments

Not so Quick Cross-stitch

It was my daughter’s birthday yesterday, I looked for a birthday card last weekend but couldn’t see one I liked, so I thought I’d do a quick cross-stitch one. I looked on Etsy and found a gin cross-stitch design which looked pretty straight forward and fairly apt too – she’s had a tough few months as a newly qualified nurse on a covid ward…

Things were delayed to start with as despite an extensive DMC collection I typically only had one of the colours, OK so I could have just used what I had, but I felt the subtle colours made it. After a visit to Hobbycraft I could get started.

My next delay was trying to decide on fabric. I started a few stitches on a 32 count evenweave before realising I’d got the sizes mixed up in my head and it was going to work out too big. I tried a couple of different fabrics before rashly deciding to stitch it over one thread!!

She then announced she was coming home a few days earlier, which was lovely but meant I had less time to stitch it! In the end I just carried on stitching in front of her as she didn’t know it was for her!

I finally finished it yesterday evening, the lettering was meant to be cross-stitch but I’d had enough of the tiny cross-stitches by then and just used back-stitch. If ever I have the bright idea of stitching over one thread again, feel free to slap me!!!

The colours haven’t come out quite as crisp as I thought they would – if I stitched it again I would probably use one shade darker for the overlapping ice-cubes and a darker shade for the writing. I do like the slice of lemon though!

I decided to mount it in a hoop as by this time I had found a birthday card! I had a 4″ hoop I bought ages ago at a show, it was painted in marbled greens, it worked perfectly. I trimmed round the edge, glued the edges to the inner ring and covered it with some lace to neaten it up. I decided to leave the back open as I actually quite like it with light coming through.

I gave her it straight away, with the glue still tacky!! I was pleased with the end result and she likes it too.

Posted in embroidery | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Sewing Room on the Surface

Over the lockdown I started to reorganise my sewing room, I had a move round about 18 months ago but somehow it never quite felt right. The layout just didn’t quite work. This time I took everything out and started again! I hoped to show you photos of a picture perfect sewing room, you know, the sort you see on instagram, however I realised this was never going to happen – this is as tidy as it gets!!

The room is about 9′ by 14′ from memory, it has a slanting roof at one end and east facing windows. It was these windows that gave me a bit of a light bulb moment with the layout…

I’d always instictively put my sewing machine in front of the window for maximum daylight. I realised however that as it was east facing, I got very little direct sunlight, I invariably have the main light on if I’m sewing so potentially I could get just as much natural light through the door to the landing where there is a large south-facing velux window.

Moving my sewing table to the opposite wall meant I could have a long stretch of storage with a big cutting out table, it also meant the radiator wasn’t blocked by storage!!

I love my long storage wall, I already had two Kallax units from Ikea, I ordered two drawer inserts (I put in a big order to Ikea!!) which gave me four drawers, two are full of lace, two have even weave fabric in – a drawer for 32 count and a drawer for 28 count.

The two wooden drawer units are made to order by Creations by Rod, I ordered the floss drawers first with it’s five drawers compartmentalised for floss bobbins. The second unit is a custom built one, it’s the size designed for knitting needles (deeper- it’s the full depth of the Kallax unit) without any inserts, so just eight shallow drawers. I use it for dies, quilting rulers etc. The central drawer unit is also from Ikea but I’ve had it about 20 years,it needs repainting and labelling now. Usefully it’s on wheels, so I can easily pull it out to access the extra storage of rarely used or bulky things behind the Kallax units.

The cutting out table is topped with two wide Limmamon desk tops from Ikea, I need to get my son to attach some supporting wood to the wall at the back as they are much wider than the Kallax. For Christmas last year I got the wool pressing mat which I love, and for my birthday I got the A2 cutting mat- I like practical presents! The cutting table is about 32″ tall, which I find a comfortable height for cutting out.

The other end of my cutting table has a large cupboard with my fabric stash in – well, my dress-making stash anyway – I’m quite proud of being able to fit it in one cupboard!! I just need my son to screw the doors back on.

At the far end of the long wall is my computer desk, tucked out of the way of the early morning sunlight, with the ubiquitous mug of tea ever present! The lovely yew wheelback chair was my mum’s, it’s very heavy and doesn’t move easily, but I love it.

For my sewing table I ordered two Alex drawer units and another limammon top, these tops are 150 cm by 75cm so they give decent working station. Ten more drawers for storage too…

It’s also handy for the pegboard behind. I made this several years ago and I still love it – not sure how I ended up with quite so many embroidery hoops though…

…and my scissor collection is every growing too!

My quilting stash is now in the tall chest of drawers…

…on top of which are two Ikea mini drawer units I’ve had for many years, these also need repainting and labelling again as I keep different stuff in them now.

My final storage is on a set of shelves, patterns in baskets are vaguely sorted into dress, tops, bottoms – vaguely! Over the years I’ve collected lots of these strong cardboard storage boxes from TK Maxx, lots of shapes and sizes, different designs but they’ve all got peacocks on to give a bit of a theme, they’ve got all sorts in – the insides of my sewing room will have to wait for another post!!

So now you know where I hide most of the time.

Posted in Home, Sewing | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Bethlehem Embroidery SAL

It’s three weeks since I last shared my Bethlehem embroidery, this is the one I started at a workshop by Deborah Mullins at Fabbadashery last year. The design is inspired by the style of embroidery from Bethlehem. Deborah spent a few months in Palestine when her husband was there on a sabatical, she spent her time studying the different regional styles of embroidery. Bethlehem embroidery was always considered the finest.

Our version is stitched on a heavy hand-felted background, with calico and canvas behind to give it stability, it’s pretty thick. Three weeks ago I was plodding round the outer border with chevron stitch…

Well I’m still plodding round, but I have done a little detour too…

I remember the chevron stitch in the middle took hours in class, and obviously this one is probably three times the length, I wanted to do it before I started filling in round the spirals togive me a feeling of the space I had to fill. However it has gone on and on…and on! I decided to have a break and fill in the centre bit.

I’d been debating how to fill it in, Bethlehem embroidery is pretty densely stitched, lots of couching and satin stitch from what I can gather, but I didn’t want to detract from the central spiral.The couching is also usually stitched in one continuous length, I decided in the end to do a sort of meandering loop round the edge which I could mold into the space available, I used a variegated blue perle thread which had come with the kit provided on the day….

I then started to look at filling in the triangular shapes under the outer spiral border. I’d thought about leaves, or hearts, or circles…I looked on Deborah’s website and a few seemed to have stitched hearts here. I tried with some finer orange perle thread, but the hearts just looked bulky and messy, so last night I unpicked them. At the moment I’m wondering about a more stylised heart – a sharp cornered one, or even just a triangle. This is what is taking the time with this piece – deciding what to do!!

So this is my progress so far…

Hopefully by next time I’ll have had some bright idea of what to do – it doesn’t help that one of our doctor’s is Palestinian and he is keen to see it – no pressure then!!

This SAL is organised by Avis of Stitching by the Sea, we’re small group of stitchers and we post our progress on our particular piece every three weeks, there’s a huge variety of projects, so please follow the links to see how everyone is doing…

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

…Walking on Roman Roads

There’s still a lot of evidence around England dating back to when we were invaded by the Romans. Many of the roads they laid out are still in use as routes today, some major trunk roads, others little more than tracks. They stand out a mile on a map as they are as straight as a die, Fosse Way, Ermine Street, Watling Street…we walked along Dere Street in Northumberland when we walked St Cuthberts Way a couple of years ago…


In between Addingham and Skipton is a track known locally as the Roman Road. Having consulted the internet, there was a road there which was part of the route from Ilkley to Ribchester, however Lidar imaging shows the Roman road to follow a slightly different route. That said, it’s still an ancient track over the hills between the two places.

My walking buddy and I decided to walk along the route. We got the bus to the lovely village of Addingham and then spent an hour trying to find the right footpath out of the village – it was just off the map!! In our defence it is quite a big village!!

By the time we were back on track we were ready for our first break – Greggs sausage rolls!

As you can see it was a glorious day, blue sky, white fluffy clouds, perfect for walking – we were meant to walk it the week before but when we woke up that morning the rain was coming sideways! So glad we postponed it!

It was a steady climb out of Addingham and up to the old track, we took our time and enjoyed the views. From the top you have a great view down Wharfedale with Ilkley and Otley (where I live) somewhere in the distance.

This route is part of the Dales Highway, a path which runs 90 miles from Saltaire to Appleby along the higher moorland paths. We’re quite tempted with this walk sometime as we do enjoy walking across the tops. The views are worth it…

Just before we started to descend into Skipton we had a great view going up the valley. Sharp Haw is clearly in view, we walked up there a couple of weeks ago or so, it’s the shapely little conical hill on the horizon on the left.

Altogether we walked about eight miles, so a good stretch of our legs and plenty of time to chat or just enjoy each others company.

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Walking on Roman Walls

Last week we spent a lovely few hours mooching round York. York is a beautiful city, full of history, I never tire of wandering round it’s streets.

As it was a nice afternoon weather wise, we decided to walk some of the city walls. York has more miles of intact city walls than any other city in Britain. They date back to Roman times, some of original Roman walls remain but most of what we see today is 12th to 14th century. The walkway is about 6′ wide and about 13′ high. Some of the walls have railings down the exposed side…

…other stretches of the wall don’t, which is somewhat unerving for people like me with no balance, so we walked along the base of some stretches.

We walked by Cliffords Mount, or York Castle. This was built in the 11th century, the darkest part of it’s history is that in 1190 150 local jews were killed there, they were surrounded by a mob and killed each other or committed suicide to avoid being killed by the mob.

York minster dominates the city, it is an awe-inspiring cathedral to visit, it’s one of those huge and beautiful places that makes you feel very small! The craftmanship is amazing, when you consider every stone and every piece of wood would have been carved by hand.

York is full of snickets and alleyways, cobbled street and medieval buildings. Stonegate and the Shambles are probably the most well known. The Shambles was the street where all the butchers were, it’s a narrow street anyway, but many of the buildings are of the style where each floor is bigger than the one below. There is one spot where from the top floors two people can shake hands across the street…

If ever you’re in the area York is a wonderful place to visit, just to mooch round the streets and soak up the history. We had a lovely time and the sun shone too, always a bonus on a bank holiday!

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