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Just thought I would do an update on my work yesterday and share with you a tutorial for my latest Xmas ornament. I had a very lovely day – unfortunately today is wet as well so I will just have to carry on sitting making more ornaments, how sad ;-)

I would love to design and make full-time but in the mean time am happy with the little bits I get to do.

This is my third original Xmas ornament design, tutorials for the crazy patchwork Xmas tree  and information on the Crazy patchwork Xmas heart can be found at these links. None of these are earthshatteringly different from other things you can find on the web but are all my own work.

I have never done anything with hexagons before and have quite frankly considered English Paper Piecing a bit of a faff but I am very much enjoying this.

My inspiration came from two free gifts from my Love Quilting and Patchwork magazines. I started sewing the hexi pincushion last week on the train and I really liked it.

 

Hexi Xmas ornie 1

I do enjoy small-scale work and as friends have always told me these are very portable projects. The free pre-cut papers will come in very handy as well!

Here are the two I finished yesterday and below is a step by step guide for those of you who might like to have a go yourselves.

Hexi Xmas ornie 6

The ornament is made from 2 sizes of hexagon – 2 inch for the main body of the ornament and 1 cm for each of the hexagons in the ‘flower’. Please note that hexagons are sized by the length of each side (something that I found a bit confusing to start with) and you can happily mix metric and imperial measurements.

If you want to save yourself the trouble of drawing round a template here are links for free printables from the Snippets and Blabbery blog and some free printable hexagon graph paper  in different sizes and you can also buy pre-cut papers from many sources including these from Quilt Direct.

There are also lots of pre-cut (and even pre-stitched onto papers) fabric on Ebay if you really want to save time,  for me half of the fun is choosing the fabric though.

I used material from my small (ahem) stock of Xmas fabric but this design would work well from charm packs and scraps from other quilting.

Step 1 – Cut out 2 of the larger 2 inch hexagons from your backing fabric, I have used plain for the front and patterned for the back.

Step 2 – Cut out 7 of the smaller 1 cm hexagons – I used 3 different fabrics from the same ranges for each of my designs. You need a bigger seam allowance than you might think for folding over, I use 0.5 cm.

Hexi Xmas ornie 2

The small size of the hexagons makes it great for fussy cutting elements out of larger designs but you may have to watch the orientation of the hexagons when you stitch them together if the design had a ‘right way up’.

Fussy cutting means choosing a part of the design rather than just cutting out of the general fabric, it does mean you get more waste but the effect is good.

Step 3 – Sew the smaller hexagons onto your paper hexagons folding the seams over as you go. Use a contrasting thread then it is easier to unpick when you take the papers out. There is an excellent step by step tutorial on making a hexagon flower at Pretty by Hand’s blog here which shows how to stitch the pieces together.

Hexi Xmas ornie 3

Step 4 – Arrange the 7 hexagons into a flower shape and sew all the seams together using small stitches. If you are using a plain centre fabric the same as the backing then you could just have a ring of 6 hexagons but I liked the stability of the flower shape. Iron at this point to help secure seams for the next stage.

Hexi Xmas ornie 4

Step 5 – Remove the stitches and then the hexagon backing paper pieces carefully. I use my unpicker for this bit, you can re-use the papers if you are careful. I did then tack the outer 3 edges of each hexagon (those that are not sewn to anything), this makes the next step easier.

Step 6 – Applique your hexagon flower to one of the large backing hexagons using small stitches in a matching thread colour – if you have multiple colours in your flower go for a match to your backing fabric.

Hexi Xmas ornie - whip stitch detail

Step 7 – Put the appliqued front hexagon and your backing hexagon right sides together and stitch all the way round – I used hand stitching with a running stitch then went back to fill in the gaps but you could machine stitch.

Step 8 – Turn ornament to show right sides – poking the corners with scissor ends or a pencil help to ensure sharp corners.

Step 9 – Stuff the ornament – I use polyester toy filling for all my work available from craft shops or places like this on Ebay.

Step 10 – Turn the raw edges of the open side over, pin and sew. I have made this the top edge on my ornaments as however careful you are it never looks the same as all the other edges and the ribbon hides some of this.

Step 11 – Sew through the middle of the centre hexagon with some tiny stitches pulling tight to create a hollow in the centre – stitch a small button, bead or embellishment there.

Hexi Xmas ornie 5

Step 12 – Attach a ribbon to the back of the ornament, I have also added a bead to cover up the stitching.

Hexi Xmas ornie 7

If you want more hexagon inspiration go and have a look at this Pinterest page that I found the other evening – I particularly love the designs from the Broderie blog featured on that page though it would take centuries for me to complete anything like her quilts.

And look at this for hexi love – this was from the same Pinterest page, not sure who it was from originally but look at that stash!

Hexagon box

I am aiming to make 10 of these ornaments for this year’s friends and family seasonal gifts so am going to be having an enjoyable and productive Autumn.

Happy ornament making and thanks for visiting.

Well it looks like summer is over here in Yorkshire but that is ok.

There is nothing quite as delicious as the prospect of a weekend where you have nothing to do except create so I will watch the rain from the comfort of my sofa and make Christmas ornaments while watching DVDs … it is a hard life sometimes ;-)

I have been doing some research on patchwork ornaments as I need a new design for this year’s friends and family gifts and came across this very useful web site last night with links to all sorts of lovely stuff – the site is called Pinwheel Ponder .

She also has a Pinterest Page with some other gorgeous stuff on – look at these lovely fussy cut kaleidoscope ornaments from the Quilt Art Mountain Vistas blog of Lynn Crosswell.

 

Fussy cut ornaments Lynn Croswell

 

I also wanted to show you my latest creation, I am temporarily moving away from knitted animals to make some more Xmas stockings but this is one that I have just made for a friend from re-enactment.

I have called him Hannibal after the famous story of Hannibal and his elephants as their route took them just past where my Mum lives in Spain!

 

Medieval elephant 2

I knitted a jumper out of wool that is meant to look like maille and gave him maille legs as well and made a little linen surcoat with my friend’s heraldry on. I also did some laces on his boots.

I like the way his legs are shiny in this photo :-)

Medieval elephant

It was the first jumper and boy’s feet I have knitted and as always Julie’s pattern was very easy to follow.

Hope that you have a lovely weekend and week ahead and thanks for visiting.

Hello again

Well it is raining here again, which is a bit of a shame as I wanted to go for a walk but true to form the moment I got my boots out it started pouring down.

I could have course have gone in the rain but decided I would just have to sew and knit all day, most of it in front of the TV where I am watching Supernatural on DVD courtesy of Ellie who has been trying to get me to watch it for ages.What a pity, poor me ha ha, it is even too wet for housework ;-)

I have sorted out the error that I mentioned yesterday. I wanted to make an apron as a birthday gift for a friend’s little girl to send with some baking stuff I have bought. I remember Ellie being bought some baking things at a similar age and loving them so I have got cute pink utensils and pretty cup cake cases.

I found a really good free tutorial at a blog called Aesthetic Nest run by a woman called Anneliese who designs beautiful patterns for her 3 daughters (can feel a sewing spree coming on but must, must focus on medieval kit first!) She has an Etsy shop with her patterns and kids’ party printables which look brilliant.

The apron is made out of 2 fat quarters and is very easy to do (especially if unlike me you actually follow all the instructions and don’t put the straps in the wrong place and only discover that after you have hemmed it.)

She has made reversible ones but I made one out of 2 plain fat quarters from my Simply Solids Club stash and some applique motifs from a really cute fabric called Sweet Treats that I bought I couple of years ago.

Izzy's apron 1

And I am very pleased with the result. I particularly like the spotty pocket and straps.

I stitched the Sweet Shop label onto the pocket and added some buttons onto the sweetie jars. Am planning to add some sweets to the package for cake decorating so hope that she will like it.

I used the fabric motifs last year as part of a cot quilt that I made for Ellie’s friend and I still have quite a few motifs left over.

Sweet treats quilt

Have also finished stitching the replacement for the Autumn exchange piece that went missing so that will go in the post next week – fingers crossed this one gets there ok!

Hope you are having a lovely time whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone and Happy International Women’s Day. I would just like to take a moment to thank all those wonderful, inspirational women whose blogs I read for sharing their lives, their creativity and making women’s work in all respects valued.

Like many women my age I grew up in an era where craft, particularly women’s craft was not seen as really relevant to the modern world.

I had a very traditional single sex education and learnt to cook and sew but never really valued those skills though I have always enjoyed both.

It is lovely to see those things now on mainstream TV (though more is needed – dedicated sewing, quilting, knitting and embroidery channel I say!) and to see many women setting up their own businesses online selling their items and their patterns and sharing their passion for craft.

One woman I think deserves a particular mention (though there are so many brilliant people out there) is Julie from Little Cotton Rabbits who is a wonderful creative crafter and a fab mother and has shared her work with so many people and brightens everyone’s day.

Knitting her bunnies keeps me sane and shares her love and I have two of my latest creations to show you.

Sophie and Daisy

Here are Daisy and Sophie – don’t they look cute together, Sophie in the pink looks like she is a very loving older friend to little Daisy.

Daisy is for my sister-in-law as a birthday gift and is my first go at stripy legs and Sophie will be a present for a friend’s newborn great -niece.These are my fifth and sixth bunnies and I have more to come!

But as well as those I have been making a hat on request for my sister-in-law, the grey one is the one she originally bought and she gave me the multi-coloured wool to create a version of it.

Amanda's hats

This meant my first foray into knitting without a pre-set pattern but I was aided by my friends at knitting group in working out what to do.

I was in my local craft shop (shh don’t tell but I did buy a little tiny bit of stuff for a project I am working on) and was talking to the lovely lady serving me about the Great British Sewing Bee and she told me of a really good blog that she had found that gives advice on techniques used in the episodes.

It is called Little Black Duck Blog and is run by a mum called Victoria and it is going straight into my favourites!

This is the link to Episode 3 about working with stretch fabrics and she has advice and links to all sorts of fab tutorials for different techniques as well as other general sewing tips.

I have a few other projects in the pipeline that I hope to be able to share soon and am enjoying some sunny blue skies here in Yorkshire (among the showers!)

Take care and thank you as always for visiting.

Hello everyone

You would think that someone who makes Christmas ornaments nearly all year round and started knitting gifts months ago would be finished well in time for the last posting dates wouldn’t you?

You would not imagine a weekend of frantic finishing and a sudden realisation that one of the bunny gifts does not have any legs at the moment :-(

Only realised yesterday as well that the bag that was going to be given with one of the bunny gifts was still unfinished – oops.

However I am doing well despite the lateness and have the gifts that need to be posted ready to go and will be doing more finishing this week including the legs – was sure I had a whole bag of completed bits but one bunny has had too much Xmas cheer and is legless ha ha :-)

The finished bunny I have named Lucy though she is going to my cousin’s daughter who will name her, hope she likes her as much as the other cousin’s daughter did with the first bunny I made.

I made the bag in the summer – it is made from recycled jeans and a pillow case and it was the colour scheme of the pillow case that inspired Lucy’s 3 dresses.

Lucy Bunny's bag

Lucy Bunny and bag

Lucy Bunny dress 2

Lucy Bunny dress 3

I love the way she has wonky ears, all the bunnies turn out with such different faces. Lucy looks quite serious don’t you think?

Lucy Bunny head

Have also made up all the stitched ornaments into little hanging pillows.These are all JBW Designs from Sew and Sew.

Xmas ornies finished

I have little to excuse myself for this tardiness except the fact that I have been very busy at work and possibly have tried once again to make too much in too short a space of time ;-)

I think when I sort out the craft room in Jan I shall have a noticeboard and will write a list of projects and timescales so I can keep track, especially as I have so much medieval kit to stitch for next season.

Planning not helped by the fact that I have just subscribed to a new magazine called Love Patchwork and Quilting which has given me so many new ideas for things that I want to make.

Love Patchwork magazine

What about this little bird ornament – can you imagine some of those in Christmas fabric?

Love patchwork mag

They have a first 3 issues for £5 deal on their website at the moment and it is a very lovely magazine with links to lots of other lovely blogs.

I have been looking at the work of Amy Smart whose Diary of a Quilter blog is full of lovely, lovely things. So many ideas and so little time!

Anyway back to my finishing now – only 9 days to go till Christmas eek! Thankfully the food shopping is nearly all done so I can concentrate on crafting!

Hope you all have a good lead up to the festive season and thanks for visiting.

Have spent a lovely weekend catching up, on sleep, on time with old friends and today I will be catching up with the crafting I need to have finished for my Autumn Exchange.

It has been lovely to see my friend Anita, she showed me some of her amazing machine quilting pictures while she was here and I was very excited to learn that she has met Ricky Tims (from the Quilt Show) and knows Melly (from the Melly and me blog) and has quilted an item for her latest book!

We all met up on Friday and spent lots of time looking at old pictures of the kids when they were babies, we have 21 kids between us so lots and lots of memories of good times :-)

I have also been busy with the latest bunny, in between stitching and here are a couple of cute little dresses that I have made.

Blue bunny dresses

I also thought I would show you the latest in my Xmas stitching, these are still to be buttoned and backed but here are some of my fave designs from JBW that I am stitching for relatives this year.

Xmas Wip 1

Xmas Wip 4

Xmas Wip 1

Xmas Wip 2

And I have been experimenting with my bread book, had Anita and friends round for dinner so this was an adaptation of the Stilton and Bacon Rolls recipe with seeds, apologies for the quality of the photo, light not good in the kitchen!

Bread rolls Oct

I will be off to Spain next Saturday (where my mother tells me the temperature has dropped to only 28 degrees) so am planning lots more catching up on sleeping, crafting and reading – the terrace is calling!

Have a nice time whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.

Hello there

Well another Marsden Jazz Festival has come and gone and I think a good time was had by all.

There were lots of people dancing late into the night at our sell out Saturday night event featuring the very talented Airya Astrobeat Arkestra.I even got off duty for a bit to go and join in and I was also amazed by the guitar playing of Antonio Forcione at our other sell out event on Sunday.

As usual I had a lovely time in the company of my excellent band of fellow volunteers and really enjoyed meeting so many nice people who were very kind about the festival and how much they enjoy it.

I was also interviewed by the local radio and if you want to hear more about the festival my 15 minutes of fame are here
on the Two Valleys Radio web site.

It was a bit wet :-( so we had some re-arranging of outdoor events to do (how optimistic were we?) but the venues in the village were fantastic at accommodating bands at very short notice so big thanks to them all.

I know I have said this before and apologies if you are bored by it but I love living here, there is a real sense of community and I so enjoy being part of this.

I managed to take a few pictures of the parade on the Saturday which involves the local dance school and local children who decorate brollies to carry (good job given the inclemency!).

Jazz Festival

Jazz Festival 2

Jazz Festival 3

Jazz Festival 5

There were even some very little children dressed as sheep which is the symbol of the jazz festival – so cute!

I am really looking forward to this weekend as an old friend of mine is coming to stay, Anita, who moved to Australia some years ago and has since become a very talented long armed and machine quilter is going to be here.

Have not seen her for about 3 years so lots of catching up to do. I have just been drooling over some of the new things on her quilting blog at Hillside Quilting.

Am still busy knitting bunnies :-) will I ever stop! And am half way through my Autumn stitch for the Seasonal Exchange.

Here’s hoping for better weather than last weekend so that we can go walking and show Anita our beautiful surroundings. However if it rains we may just have to hole up in the craft room – shame :-) Maybe she can teach me a thing or two while she is here!

Take care and thanks for visiting

Well Autumn is definitely here in the Colne Valley.

The last of the tents is drying out on the line ready to be packed away until next season and the air has turned colder.

I am often sad at the end of the season as I so love camping and re-enacting but am really looked forward to my second Autumn here.

Being so much more rural I can really see all of the changing colours of the seasons all around me and the other day I had a lovely walk along the canal to pick blackberries and took these pictures for you.

Autumn colours 2

Autumn colours 3

Autumn colours 4

Autumn colours 5

Autumn colours 6

I also popped into the local charity shop (to donate) but came away with this beautiful tray cloth.

Flower cloth

Flower cloth 3

Flower cloth 4

Flower cloth 5

I am thinking of maybe framing some of these pieces as I now have far too many just to make things from them and think these might go very nicely in the kitchen.

The designs remind me very much of some of Kelly Fletcher from Materialistic- a very talented embroidery designer from South Africa who has some beautiful freebies on her Craftsy shop - look for the Bloomin’ Marvellous designs.

She also has some gorgeous designs for sale – really inspirational stuff!

I now have the ultimate luxury of a Sunday to do whatever I want to :-) Jake has gone back to University (not that he was any trouble while he was here!) but I am home alone with only myself to please.

Shall it be Christmas ornaments, knitting more dresses for bunnies, stitching? Maybe all three! I am making a start on my autumn exchange piece today and have chosen some beautiful brown silks for the piece.

Or a walk on the hills? it is beautiful and sunny today so I might just don the walking boots and get out there ;-)

I hope that you are having a lovely day whatever you have decided to do.

Thanks for visiting.

Hello again

I have found a new addiction, I think I am just going to keep on knitting these bunnies as they are such fun to do.

I have long admired Julie’s (Little Cotton Rabbits) work and was very excited when she released the bunny pattern on Ravelry a while ago.

Do go and look at all the ones she has made on her blog, I have got lots of inspiration from looking at the colours she uses and have got some different ideas for my next few.

My first bunny and 2 dresses are finished and I have cast on for the second one.

Bunny Knitting 3

Julie’s original pattern has stripy legs and body so it looks like the bunny is wearing tights – I left that out of the first version to make it easier but am confident I know what I am doing now so will add underwear to the next ones!

Luckily I have lots of people to give bunnies to as we have lots of young children in the family now as well as friends with little ones so I will have homes for my bunnies to go to!

What I love about this is how quickly you can do it- am not a fan of large projects and the parts of the bunny are so quick even for a slow knitter like me.

As well as the basic pattern I bought the pattern for the extra dresses again from Ravelry, the spotty sleeveless dress pattern comes included with the bunny and the other dress is an adaptation of the cap sleeved lace hem dress. I also added the white border to the spotty dress as the original one was a bit short.

Bunny Knitting 2

I made the lace hem dress looser by doing another repeat of the lace pattern, made it a lot longer by adding rows to the skirt, added a white band at the waist when I gathered it in by using decreases and used bigger needles to knit the top to make it looser.

I am now feeling a lot more confident about how patterns ‘work’ so know how to do these simple changes.

I have left the back of both dresses open as the bunny is a present for a small child and that makes it easier to undress.

Julie’s patterns are brilliantly written with lots of step by step pics on every detail including the stuffing so even the bits that look tricky, like the shoes, aren’t at all.

Bunny Knitting

I am going to try some of the other designs for my next dress – the spotty one was my first go at colourwork and despite the back looking at bit messy it came out ok.

I am going to have a lovely time for the rest of the summer!

I have also been doing quite a lot of garden fettling – forgot to take a before pic but at the back of the house there was a very overgrown rockery with two foot high dandelions and nettles which now looks like this.

Garden Aug

I have planted some clematis and jasmine at the back so hopefully next Spring I will have some lovely climbers up the wall. I don’t miss having my old garden at all but do miss my clematis.

The hanging baskets back and front are looking lovely – due to inclement weather we haven’t made much use of the new table and chairs but I’m hoping it will stop raining soon :-)

Garden Aug

Garden Aug

I do love my new little house so much – just the right amount of gardening to do, planting nice things and a bit of weeding and watering and no hedges or lawns!

Right am off to do more knitting – thanks for visiting.

We have had a very, very lovely day today – not only going to Hardwick Hall for the day but because my lovely daughter Ellie works there had a brilliant ‘behind the scenes’ experience which was amazing.

Here is the Hall in the lovely sunlight – as a contemporary of Bess’s wrote when it was built – ‘more glass than wall’.

Hardwick - hall front

Hardwick - garden

Here are some pictures of what the public gets to see.

The beautiful velvet heraldic embroidery created by Bess of Hardwick herself,  the blue silk bed hangings, the Great Hall with its bed canopy.

Hardwick - Bess velvet 1

Hardwick - Bess velvet 2

Hardwick - Blue silk bed

Hardwick - great hall

But we also got to go up on the roof! This is the top of the hall and the view from one of the small banqueting rooms that are in the towers.

Hardwick - Roof

Hardwick - Roof view

The best bit for me was going into the textile store rooms in the attic.Here are all the boxes with little pictures of the contents.

Hardwick - Textile store boxes

And here is Ellie opening one of the boxes for us.This contained a beautiful velvet hanging of flowers.

Hardwick - Ellie box

Hardwick - Flower velvet 1

Hardwick - Flower velvet 2

Another box had some more of the most wonderful of Bess’s heraldic pieces, here I am close up to this piece – no glass at all, heaven!!

Hardwick - Box velvet 1

Hardwick - Box velvet 2jpg

Hardwick - Box velvet 3

I feel very, very priviliged to have been able to do this – thank you Ellie!

And we were able to see the Gideon tapestries that have been away for conservation that she has been helping rehang – go and visit her blog for more details of this. The pictures below show the before and after effects of the cleaning.

Hardwick - Gideon 2

Hardwick - Gideon 1

A brilliant day – I loved it!

Take care all of you and thanks for visiting.

I am off to Florence on Sunday with my Mum so there may be some pictures of medieval art and churches when I get back – you never know!

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