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Well it is nearly time for my second houseaversary – we will be away at the Caldicot Castle  event next week and I will have a drink with friends to celebrate.

Am still so happy here, can’t believe what a difference being here has made to my life. I am still having a really lovely time and one of the best things is the countryside around me which is purple for quite a lot of the year. I do love that colour!

The rhododendrons have all gone now but instead the hills are covered in heather and it makes them look very beautiful. I borrowed a friend’s dog, Ted, the other day for a walk as she was working and we went for a little tootle up to my favourite reservoir (which is now refilled) and back past all the beautiful purple bushes.

Marsden heather

Marsden heather 2

Here is a very pretty cow we met on the way.

Marsden heather 3

Marsden heather 4

Marsden heather 5

Marsden heather 6

And Ted wanting to go up a bit more and not stop for pictures ;-)

Marsden heather 7

I was also lucky enough to get this shot of a butterfly on a Buddleia.

Marsden heather 8

Marsden heather 9

What a gorgeous cottage near my friend’s house. Such a cute name as well, like a house in an Enid Blyton story.

Marsden heather 10

Marsden heather 11

As well as walks I am spending lots of time with hexagons (which may be my new addiction!). Have cut out pieces for many more ornaments and this week decided to use the hexis to make an apron for a friend’s little girl.

Marsden heather 12

Marsden heather 13

I made her big sister an apron for a birthday present this year and as she is just about to start Nursery where she will be having cookery sessions I thought she needed one of her own. Have had all of this fabric in my stash for a while, nice to be using some rather than buying anything new (which I am not allowed to do till I have used up a lot more!)

The apron pattern comes from this free tutorial at Aesthetic Nest’s blog.

The cute teddy braid on the pocket is some from my local haberdasher that I have had in the stash for a while just waiting for a project like this.

It is a Bank Holiday here in the UK so am planning to spend tomorrow doing more stitching (surprise, surprise) – am thinking of using some of my vintage embroidery with hexis to create something, probably Christmas presents as I like to be prepared!

Have a lovely couple of weeks and I will be back soon. Thanks for visiting.

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.

Hello

I hope you are enjoying your Friday – I have another weekend of sewing planned in my lovely newly tidied craft room.

Would have had a fab finish to show you but once completed realised that I had made a (deliberate of course!) mistake with one part so that will be unpicked, re-sewn and brought to you later in the weekend :-)

Meanwhile we will have a closer look at the quilts made by Helen from my knitting group. Helen does have a blog but can’t find it at the moment (my favourites are still all on my old laptop!)

These will all be going to Spain over the next few months to an orphanage that my Mum supports.

Helen's quilts

Helen's quilts 4

Helen's quilts 2

Helen's quilts 3

Helen's quilts 5

Helen's quilts 6

I love the fabric choices – Helen made all these from stash, isn’t she clever. I would love to be more confident at fabric combining, always seems to take me ages to decide what to use for a project.

Hoping for some good weather for a walk as well – as soon as Google announced the first day of Spring Yorkshire decided to get all wet and windy again :-(

Take care and will update on project soon, thanks 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.

Hello again

I spend a lot of time travelling to all sorts of beautiful parts of the globe so it was lovely to have week in my gorgeous country appreciating (along with many tourists from all over the world) what England has to offer.

Our first day was spent in the Cotswolds where I grew up and the visit to Bourton-on-the-Water brought back many happy memories of paddling in this stream, seeing the pretty cottages and visiting the model village (which Kerry loved just as much as I did when I first saw it).

Bourton

Bourton 2

Bourton 3

We then went to Snowshill Manor, a National Trust property in the Cotswolds, quintessentially an English manor house with beautiful gardens but home to a very eclectic collection by the last owner Charles Paget Wade.

Snowshill

Snowshill 3

Snowshill 4

Snowshill 5

There was everything from samurai warrior suits to old bikes, including many beautiful Oriental chests from his travels. One room had a lovely collection of textiles including what looks like a piece from a Layton jacket!

Snowshill textiles

Snowshill textiles 2

Snowshill textiles 3

I particularly liked this sampler book showing miniature garments, no information on its maker but I think it would be a for a similar purpose to the one that inspired the Blackbird Designs book, ‘A Stitcher’s Journey’, which I posted about previously, to show prospective employers your needlework skills.

Snowshill textiles 4

Snowshill textiles 5

Snowshill textiles 6

A lovely day out – and all in the best of English summer sunshine!

Thanks for visiting, more historic loveliness soon!

Hello everyone

Well the snow has almost gone here in Yorkshire apart from bits on the hills, we have Spring flowers appearing and have had a couple of warm days recently so we are all feeling very happy!

One of my favourite parts of the China Nationalities Museum that I visited while in Beijing was the exhibition of needlework, this sign outside perfectly captures how I, (and it would seem the museum organisers), feel about stitching!

China Nationalities Museum Sign

There were themed displays of footwear (including the very sad lotus feet shoes for bound feet), bags, headwear and gifts – these little embroidered tokens of love and affection are called henbao.

China Nationalities Museum Henbao

China Nationalities Museum Boots

China Nationalities Museum Lotus feet shoes

I was interested to see cross stitch and patchwork in the bags as well as the more traditional Chinese silk embroidery.

China Nationalities Museum Cross Stitch bag

China Nationalities Museum Cross Stitch bag 2

China Nationalities Museum Cross Stitch bag 3

China Nationalities Museum Patchwork bag

There was also a section devoted to needlework tools – anyone remember these pincushions at the top of the photo?

My Nana had one when I was little (as well as the tomato one with the strawberry emery attached).

China Nationalities Museum Pincushion

In another part of the museum there were some displays of traditional Miao people costume, with beautiful silver headdresses and embroidered robes.

Each strand of the skirt is a separate piece joined with silver beads.

China Nationalities Museum Miao

China Nationalities Museum Miao 2

China Nationalities Museum Miao 3

China Nationalities Museum Miao 4

I have had a busy week craft wise, have finished and posted my Spring ornament for the Seasonal Exchange, part made two bags out of recycled denim and pillowcases and been to two knitting groups (though more drinking coffee and wine was done than actual knitting – as usual!)

And next week the season starts again! They joy of seeing all my re-enactment friends and camping and campfires and BBQs – I shall be so happy :-)

I must get around to putting up the events page for this year but next weekend we are at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire - on Sat and Sun celebrating the victory of St George over the evil Dragon Knight! Please come and join us if you can.

Take care and thank you for visiting.

Hello there

Hope you have had a lovely week, I have had a really nice half term holiday as I have been on leave all week.

So there have been lots of lovely walks, crafting and socialising culminating in a trip to the next village in the valley for the Moonraker celebration yesterday.

I have spent the week making a small quilt for one of Ellen’s friends who has just had a baby.

I designed the pattern myself based on the motifs from the Sweet Treats fabric that I bought in Worcester at Ellen’s graduation.

I added fabric from my Simply Solids monthly delivery and some of the fabric that my Mum bought me for Christmas.

I made the quilt reversible and it is Moses basket or pram sized.

Sweet treats quilt

Sweet treats quilt 2

Sweet treats quilt 3

Sweet treats quilt 4

Here are a few pictures from the walk my sister-in-law Amanda and I did earlier this week up to a local reservoir.

It was beautiful weather really warm with such blue skies, very rare in Yorkshire in Feb!

March Haigh walk

March Haigh 2

March Haigh 3

Yesterday I went with my friends Taru and Bob and their daughter Leah along to the next village in the valley, Slaithwaite, where they hold the Moonraker festival.

We used to go to this every year when the kids were young but I have not been for about 8 years as I am usually in Spain at this time of year.

The festival celebrates a local legend about some smugglers who were trying to get some contraband that had fallen from a boat into the river.

When the Excise men caught them they denied any wrongdoing saying they were trying to ‘rake the moon’.

The festival is a parade of willow lanterns that are made throughout the week at workshops. The parade also involves lots of bands and culminates in brilliant fire sculptures and fireworks.

Each year the festival has a theme – this year it was time so Bob and Leah made a giant pocket watch.

There was also a Tardis and a White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland along with lots of Big Ben clocks, egg timers and watches of all shapes and sizes.

Moonraker Leah and Bob's lantern

Moonraker tardis

Moonraker rabbit

Moonraker parade

Moonraker 2013

Today I walked along the canal to the village again, it was a beautiful sunny day and I saw geese and the first signs of Spring, these lovely daffodils outside one of the canalside cottages.

Slawit walk - lock

Slawit walk - geese

Slawit walk

My village is notorious for having sheep roam the streets (and eating the contents of people’s gardens!) When I got back from my walk today there were this little group at the bottom of my road.

Slawit walk - sheep

I am off to China on Thursday to teach for 3 weeks – going to Beijing this time so will not be blogging for a few weeks but expect some pictures of famous things when I get back – might even get to see the Great Wall!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone

Hope you didn’t suffer too much disruption because of snow last week, here in the UK we had a massive snowfall and there was the usual chaos and complaints about how badly we manage snow!

I got into work ok (the joys of being a non car driver) but this was the front of the house last Monday!

Snow in garden

I have been working on my lastest range of upcycled things for my craft stall at Standedge. These are the full set of hearts – I found this very cute cake stand in Cardiff over Xmas and thought it would be perfect for displaying my stock.

Hearts on stand

I have been making Kindle / e-book covers out of the charity fabric and vintage embroidery and some old clothing.

I am really pleased with the way that they have turned out, especially with my machine applique. I did want to get better  at machine work and am pleased that I have managed to be neat in the stitching round the hearts.

Kindle covers

Kindle covers 2

Kindle covers 3

Kindle covers 4

Kindle covers 5

Kindle covers 6

Kindle covers 7

This coming weekend I will be working on some phone covers.

My lovely friend Kerry came to stay this weekend – we had a very nice trip to Oakwell Hall  where there was still very deep snow on Saturday but heavy rainfall overnight meant that our walk on Sunday along the valley was full of flooded rivers and rushing water under bridges.

It was amazing to see especially compared to the last time I went there a couple of months ago which you can see in this post.

The second photo on that previous post was taken at the same spot as this one below.

We had a lovely time and are looking forward to doing the same walk when it is drier and we can cross the streams to get further up the valley.

Snow melt

Snow melt 2

Snow melt 3

Snow melt 4

Snow melt 5

Hope that you are not suffering too much from the weather, take care and thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone

I hope that you have been having a lovely and happy week in this run up to the festive season. This has been my last week of teaching for the year so we have had some Christmas dos and I have now finished teaching for the next few weeks :-)

I have been spending this weekend with my lovely friend Kerry, we had a very nice relaxing night in last night having a few glasses of wine and a catch up and today visited a Tudor house, Haddon Hall  near Bakewell, that we have had on our wish list for while.

It was absolutely beautiful, not only was it a gorgeous day but the house itself was so lovely, a wonderful place with a great hall and plastered long gallery as well as a wonderful chapel with original wall paintings and the  kitchens had been restored and really well interpreted.

Since Ellie started working for the National Trust I have paid even more attention to how things are displayed and labelled in the historic places I visit, listening to her has made me think more about all these issues about the visitor experience.

I think Haddon Hall have done a wonderful job, especially of the Christmas decorations – we loved them, see what you think in these pictures.

As well as all the Tudor things the drawing room had a lovely old hexagon quilt which I think dated from the 1920s.

Haddon Hall 1

Haddon Hall 2

Haddon Hall 3

Haddon Hall 4 jpg

Haddon Hall 5

Haddon Hall 6

Haddon Hall 7

Haddon Hall 8

Haddon Hall 9

Haddon Hall 10

Haddon Hall 11

Haddon Hall 12

Haddon Hall 13

Have not done a huge amount on the crafting front this week due to all the festive dos, had a lovely meal out with my Marsden Knitting group this week where we all exchanged hand-made ornies – need to take a good pic of the lovely ornie I got on my tree.

Still working on the knitted hat and on an Xmas gift for a family member. I finished another gift this week but can’t reveal that till after Xmas.

I am spending this week working from home then we go to Powis Castle for Xmas – am very excited and am hoping for snow! Jake has just arrived home for the holidays so we both have a few more dos this week then we shall be off!

Will post next weekend to wish you all a Merry Christmas – till then thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone, I do hope that you are all well and happy. I have been having a lovely day in the comfort of my lounge, on the sofa stitching and watching movies on DVD. The weather has been unbelievably foul all week and today was no better so cosied up with cups of tea and my latest project.

Very little crafting has been taking place here of late. What with all the travel and the fact that I have been working on some bigger projects and being super busy at work I have not posted a finish for some time which is very slack of me!

I have been doing stuff but the Chinese Emperor cross sitch will take a long time and I have just finished an exchange piece that I only posted this week so will not be able to post about for a while.

However the weekend before last I was seized with an urge to make something that has been an idea for a while – a patchwork bag made from denim garments that were no longer needed and some beautiful crochet table runners that I bought at a vintage fair a while back.

I had a lovely time playing with fabric and ideas – tea and cookies essential for the creative process of course!

handbag making

And finally finished it today.I am very pleased with the end result. I have added some wooden embellishments from a set I bought in Leeds last week to one side that I may add to the other once I see how well they last as they are quite fragile.

handbag

handbag buttons

I am also very pleased with the lining , which is from one of Ellie’s old skirts , and I have used a magnetic button to fasten it.This was the most expensive bit of the whole project buying the buttons as everything else was from my stash.

handbag inside

It is mostly my own design though I used various books for inspiration. Hope that you like it!

I am really looking forward to next weekend as it is my first re-enactment event of the year. I am going to stay with my very lovely friend Kerry and we are going to join another friend Malcolm and his group at Bosworth Battlefield which will be very interesting as I have never been there before.Will take lots of pics for you!

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

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