Is it sad that it gives me great pleasure to sit on a Saturday morning (looks like it is going to be a bit sunny as well – yippee!) and write blog posts?

Hope not as blogging does make me happy and I have been looking forward to sorting out my embroidery pictures from Lorca all week.

Am splitting them into two, maybe even 3 posts, as there are so many and the amount of work that has gone into these pieces I feel they need sharing with the stitchy bloggy world.

First some of the gorgeousness of the city itself. It is sadly famous for having a very bad earthquake in 2011 and they are still repairing a lot of the damage. What has been restored is gorgeous and those that are not beautiful old stone are painted mainly in white with a deep yellow trim.

These are some of the old mansions, the Casino and the town hall.

Lorca  houses

Lorca  houses 7

Lorca  houses 8

Lorca houses 1

Lorca houses 2

Lorca houses 3

Lorca houses 4

Lorca houses 5

We spent some time wandering around and visiting churches and the castle as well. This picture from Google is a great aerial shot of the castle.

Lorca Castle

Lorca was important in the medieval period as it was on the border between Moorish and Christian Spain being halfway between Murcia (the city that I visited on the last trip to Spain) and Granada so this was a very well used castle – great views of the surrounding countryside as you can imagine.

It was a long walk up (and we got lost a bit) but a short one down as we found the way back through the very poor area just below the walls.

Lorca castle 1

Stark contrast between the crumbling houses in the barrio and this church and seminary at the bottom of the hill. I am going to frame this photo and add it to my ‘beautiful buildings and blue sky’ collection of Spanish pictures!

Lorca church

We got the idea of going to Lorca from my brother and his partner who stayed there overnight on the way back from a trip to the mountains. They went to the tourist information and picked up a brochure that said four embroidery museums in the city and kindly thought of me :-)

It was also a very exciting trip as we did it all by bus from La Marina, these are the sort of things like I love doing and it made Mum and I feel very adventurous!

We also had some lovely food in cute little tapas bars like this one in a converted house where due to my poor Spanish I inadvertently ordered off the menu (luckily what I ordered was lovely and mostly non meat for Mum).

Lorca bar

Lorca bar 2

Lorca bar 3

I thought he was just explaining what was available and so was nodding to say that I understood and he obviously thought I wanted it all – we had to stop him after the first two dishes and say we had enough!

Mum and I were expecting to see loveliness and knew that the embroidery was connected with the Easter festivals(Semana Santa – Holy Week) and we have seen a few of these before so were looking forward to some lovely robes for icons etc.

However we didn’t realise that the parades are four days of spectacle that includes chariots, Romans and their Gods, Egyptians and the Devil  as well as usual icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Mum has lived in Spain for 11 years now and her sister for 24 and neither of them had heard of the event there so obviously a well-kept secret. So we know where we are going next Easter!

Here is a taster of the parade from some of local tourism web sites.

Semana Santa Lorca

Semana Santa Lorca 3

Semana Santa Lorca 4

Semana Santa Lorca 5

Semana Santa Lorca

The four museums represent the four brotherhoods – Paso Encarnado (Crimson), Paso Morado (Purple), Paso Azul (Blue) and Paso Blanco (White).

The last two are the biggest and the ones with the most spectacular embroidery as they are the groups with horses as well as icons and robes for participants. This tourism web site gives details of locations of all four and the other attractions if you ever fancy a trip.

Since this is a very long post now I will finish (and go and have brunch, my other favourite thing about the weekend!) and be back tomorrow for goldwork loveliness the like of which I have never seen before.

Thanks for visiting.

I have just got back from a great week in Spain and have so many fab pictures of embroidery to sort out for you. I have of course been doing lots of reading and have completed Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel , the first one of my challenge. That was the book by an author I hadn’t read.

Wolf Hall pic

I enjoyed it but would probably have benefitted from not reading it late at night after work, even though I knew the storyline I still got confused at times as I was often too tired.

I enjoyed the alternative perspective to a story I know well and the sense from the book that he (Thomas Cromwell) as with all the other characters didn’t know how significant their actions and their period in history would be. I am looking forward to watching the TV series now and drooling over all the Tudor costume.

Book number 3 is one that I chose for its cover , this was One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner which was one of my charity shop purchases while in Spain.

I loved the photo on the front and while it does not really illustrate what the book is about is a lovely image and does reflect some of the content.

One moment One morning

It was one of those ‘moment in time’ books that fascinate me, the idea that a single thing can happen which changes lots of other things and it was a really thought-provoking story. I read it in a day it was that good and luckily I had a day to read – I love being on holiday :-)

Have also read another from the list and have started a 4th one, will post about those later along with all that wonderful embroidery!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

Well sadly my friends couldn’t make it this weekend – probably a good thing as I have still got the tail end of the nasty cough and cold bug I have had for a month so I have been snuggling up under a fleece on my stitching sofa watching TV and hand piecing.

Much better for me than wandering round my beautiful but below freezing Yorkshire!

I have recently discovered the joys of quilting videos on You Tube, as we have been doing the Block of the Month challenges and I find it difficult to follow written instructions so I thought a would share with you a few of my favourite channels in case you have not discovered this marvellous resource, it is like having a Quilt Guild in your very own home.

Firstly the McCalls Quilting Channel. I have really enjoyed watching this Quilt Along learning loads of new techniques.

 

Next is the Fons and Porter Channel, I have seen Mary Fons in lots of magazines and this channel has useful basic tips videos as well as interviews with quilters like this one.

 

I found this Missouri Star Quilt Company Channel today and they have some brilliant videos on all types of blocks and whole quilts. Wouldn’t this one make a great quilt for a gift!

 

I have always loved watching videos about quilting and have been a fan of The Quilt Show but didn’t realise that there was so much free stuff out there as well.

Another thing I am a bit late to the party with is Craftsy, I have signed up from some fab free online classes for Block of the Months.

There has been great excitement here on TV this week as it is the start of series 3 of The Great British Sewing Bee! If you missed it here is a link to it on BBC iPlayer.

I would not like to participate (my sewing is far too slow for that) but would love to have day in the workshop with all my sewing friends.What a fab venue for a day out surrounded by all that lovely fabric – and the little café with all-important cake nearby!

Here is a picture of one of the contestants Deborah Simms with the beautiful fabric she chose for her final garment of this episode.

Deborah Simms Sewing Bee

Little Black Duck Blog is following the series with useful tips and tutorials for each episode – this is the post about this week and making trousers.

This blog by Angela Kane also has some great tips of techniques from Series 2

Hope you find these useful, back to the sewing now- must spend equal time doing as watching or nothing will get finished ;-) ! See you in a couple of weeks and thanks for visiting.

So I made the one with 3 1/2  inch squares on Saturday and that turned out at 8 inches finished size. So on Sunday I tried making one with 4 1/2 inch squares and that turned out to measure 10 inches finished size.

They do both look very pretty though and I am pleased with the finish.

Feb BOM Union Square 1

The block pattern is called Union Square and again it is from the Quilter’s Cache website. I found this useful video (which turns out to be a variation of the block which is known as Union Squares ) but the girls have kindly let me off for this deviation ;-)

It came together quite quickly – especially the second time around and the method I was using gave me lots of practise at making half and quarter square triangles. And my joins are not too bad though getting every single one to be perfect is beyond me, they definitely look better certain ways up!

Feb BOM Union Square 2

Feb BOM Union Square 3

I have now made a third one – not exactly the same but almost, I ran out of the swirly pink fabric so have done the half square triangles in a co-ordinating solid. This one hit the magic 12 inches and was made with 5 1/2 inch squares.

The first two will be put to good use, I am going to frame the littlest one for my quilt room and use the other to make a pillow for my sewing chair. I have some hexagons in the same fabric that I was already putting together for a pillow so will make it reversible.

Am really enjoying this challenge, there are 5 of us from the knitting group doing it now and we are all supporting each other through Facebook and have planned a couple of get togethers as well for help with certain aspects.I love how crafting is so social, both virtual and face to face!

Will not have much time for crafting this week as work is very busy and have friends over at the weekend so things are going to be slow on the posting front for a couple of weeks. Then am off to Spain for half term (those lovely embroidery museums are calling!) so will see you all when I get back.

Take care and enjoy yourselves. Thanks for visiting.

Last weekend as well as the hand stitching on the hexagon car quilt I decided to go and have a play with some other quilt blocks, inspired by how much I enjoyed making the Dutchman’s puzzle block for our block of the month challenge.

I don’t know why but whatever craft I do I always choose very small-scale projects, my cross stitch is on small count fabric (so small I usually need a magnifier now!), I knit little arms and legs for bunnies and nothing bigger than a baby cardigan. It seems I am going the same way with quilting as most of what I have done so far is baby quilts and hexagons.

Partly it is lack of time, as I have limited time to finish things because they are usually gifts small means achievable so less WIPs hidden away.

But I do like small-scale so I thought for my practising last week I would use one of the Moda mini charm packs that I bought a while ago from Simply Solids. I have used up the other two already in the wash bag I made for an Xmas present and the hexagons I pieced from the Printemps pack (see kids I do USE the fabric in that room, it is just sometimes more sneaks in somehow!)

Simply Solids shop -mini charm packs

I have two of these ‘Playtime’ 1930s inspired prints and I thought if I keep making a few blocks every so often I will eventually have a small quilt at least!

I wasn’t following a specific block just wanted to practise my half square triangles and stitching accuracy for those 1/4 inch seams but I have ended up with something that looks a bit like a Pinwheel block – albeit a bit random in terms of the fabric placement.

Quilt blocks Moda charm squares 1

Quilt blocks  Moda charm squares

Quilt blocks  Moda charm squares 3

I also decided a 9 patch would be good (God alone knows why) which involved cutting an already small 2 1/2 ” square into four pieces so excuse the slightly wonky finished article!

Quilt blocks  Moda charm squares 4

The miniaturising effect must be rubbing off as yesterday afternoon I rushed up to the sewing room to start on the Feb block of the month challenge, this is my only free weekend in Feb so I wanted to get a good start.

It must have been my haste that led me to create a pretty well pieced (only one triangle lost its point) but rather small block, the target was 12 inches and mine ended up as 8 inches. Turns out when you divide 12 by 3 the answer is 4 NOT 3 – who knew? Well supposedly me as I do actually teach Maths – oops.

However it will look lovely with an extra border to cover up the missing points and I am going to try it again this afternoon WITH 4 INCH BLOCKS!

My lovely Ellie sent me a fabric care package this week with a beautiful card, she is so kind. I had not been feeling well when she spoke to me a couple of weeks ago and work had been a bit stressful so she sent me this to cheer me up.

Look at this beautiful print, in three colourways! With matching solids! Thank you so much, you are a wonderful daughter as well as a great friend :-)

Care package fabric 2

Care package fabric 3

Care package fabric 4

Care package fabric

While browsing Justine’s blog (she of the marvellous Simply Solids shop) I saw this 2015 bucket list that she had found on this blog Whip Stitch by Deborah.

Sewing-bucket-list-2015

I like lists and it is nice to have a focus and extend your skills so I am going to add that to my challenges for this year, some of them can already be fulfilled by things I have planned (Number 2 by all the medieval kit I have planned for friends) but others on the list I have though about doing but not done (Number 12 I want to make a bag for me).

So it is going to be a busy and fun year, 26 books, 17 plus sewing projects and 12 plus quilt blocks. And we are just sorting out our re-enactment events for 2015 and so far I have 10 events! 2015 is going to be a very good year :-)

Right better get off the laptop and on with the actual stitching now then if I am for achieve all this. Take care, have a nice week and thanks for visiting.

I love reading, it might even be more of a favourite thing to do than play with fabric and thread :-) Books are my constant companions and always have been, my childhood memories of the Saturday morning visits to the library every week and the joy that I found getting lost in the world of books have turned into an adult passion for reading.

It is the most wonderful thing to do and I am very bad at not resisting the temptation to buy them all the time, from Amazon, from charity shops, there is always room in this house for another book!

I came across this challenge while doing some blog catching up today – the original post is at this blog but I think I will join in and update my progress here and on the challenge Facebook page.

Here is the list of books.

26 Books

I think 26 in a year will be reasonable to do (given that on my holidays to Spain I can do 5 in a week!)

My first book will be one that I have just started – was thinking that this could have been number 2, ‘a book made into a movie’, but strictly speaking it is a TV series’, so this book will fulfil number 6, ‘ a book by an author you have not read before’.

Last year while on our National Trust holiday Kerry and I wanted to visit Montacute House but it was closed for the filming of a Hilary Mantel book , ‘Wolf Hall’, a novel about Thomas Cromwell. I love the Tudor period (would re-enact it if I had the time to make the costumes) so we promised ourselves we would look out for the TV series which started last week.

By coincidence there is a new charity book stall in my bus station – I was going to resist the temptation as I have so many books to read but didn’t and found a brand new copy of the book there. I decided to record the series and read the book first.

Number 1 on the challenge, ‘ a book you own but have never read’, will not be hard – I think I have 24 in my book stash at the moment!

Hope you might be inspired to join in, thanks for visiting.

I realised (as I was mulling over the design for my thank you gift for all those lovely comments) that I had not posted any pictures of the last giveaway I did for my 400th post or the last piece of stitching that I did for the sadly now defunct Seasonal Exchange.

So here they are. This is the needlecase that I made, Cat had requested deep colours and I had these fabrics in my scraps from making my medieval pattern fabric throw for the sofa (which I still have not finished the hand quilting on – ahem!) so I though I would combine my hexagon addiction with a little goldwork.

needlecase giveaway

needlecase giveaway 2

The inside of the case has felt in a deep red for the needles and I put a little hexagon pocket in as well for scissors, threaders etc. Apologies for the yellowness of the picture, this was November light in Yorkshire!

needlecase giveaway 3

This was the last pincushion I made – the original gift got lost in the post and never arrived :-( so I made this little bird one instead.

It is an adaptation of a pattern from one of my cross stitch magazines, the original has NOEL on it and is a Christmas ornament but I liked the idea of an autumn bird looking for berries. It is backed with some of the same fabric left over from the throw.

Autumn exchange number 2 - front

I don’t know where I got the little acorn charm from but thought it was very cute and just right for this piece.

Autumn exchange number 2

We have had more snow this week, I actually ended up with a snow day yesterday where despite mine and the bus driver’s valiant attempts to get us to town I arrived too late for where I was going so turned round and came home! Was very tempted to just sit under a fleecy blanket and stitch but I was good and got on with some marking.

Plans for this weekend are to try out some more quilting blocks and our February block of the month will be released soon as well!

Hope you have a nice weekend and thanks for visiting.

I have just had chance to look at my blog stats review for 2014 and would like to say thank you so much to everyone for visiting me. It is lovely to know that my little bloggy ramblings have an audience and it is not just me waffling into the ether. The full report is below if you are interested.

I would like to say a special thank you to someone who always comments on my posts – a total of 51 comments in 2014 alone! ‘Virtuosewadventures’ I am particularly touched by your online friendship and would like to offer you a hand stitched gift of your choice from me.

Please could you e-mail me at alisonmryan@yahoo.co.uk and let me what you would like me to make you, I know you love sewing so maybe some little stitching goodie?

Thanks to all of you for visiting and making me feel loved :-)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hope everyone has had a good week. Here in the UK we have had our twice yearly, ‘oh my God it has snowed, panic, panic do not travel’, buses stopped and everyone suddenly appears dressed for the slopes at Klosters.

Other countries with real snow all winter must really laugh to see the reaction here and there have been lots of pictures on Facebook of people managing perfectly well on roads with 20 feet of snow either side.However they do have it more than we do and have the right equipment.

It has been very pretty though and this photo from the local news shows you the loveliness of it all. It has nearly all melted now leaving my garden looking worse for wear so will have to get out and give it a good tidy up.

Marsden snow

I wanted to show you some of my pictures from our recent trip to the city of Murcia in Spain. Mum, my Aunt Maureen and I went on a coach trip there, it is about 40 km inland from where Mum lives and the drive alone was very lovely.

Spain New Year Murcia

We often go on these coach trips as it is a great way to see the country, they are good value at about 10 to 15 euros each and it is a lovely day out with no hassle driving or parking.

I have been to Murcia twice before but never managed to get inside the cathedral. This time we did make it and to the cathedral museum, also the museum that houses the large statues that are paraded at Easter and to the Casino, which is the gentlemen’s club built in the late 1800s.

I have put together a slideshow of some of the best bits here.

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As always there was beautiful goldwork, some dating from the 1700s, in the cathedral and museum.

Spain New Year Murcia

Spain New Year Murcia

Spain New Year Murcia

I have another trip to Spain planned in a couple of weeks and we are off to the city of Lorca where they have not one but FOUR religious embroidery museums – excited MOI – just a little bit :-)

As well as tapas in a very lovely bar that dated from the 1920s full of old pictures and posters of bullfights and a couple of stops for coffee and a little retail therapy (two very cute Moroccan style tea light holders – I know I don’t need any more candle holders but they are lovely!) we amused ourselves very nicely.

We also found these very cute little chocolate hedgehogs and had one each!

Spain New Year hedgehog chocs

I am planning to hand stitch for the rest of the day, still working on the hexi cars, have changed my mind about the design so yesterday took apart all the stitching I have done this week so am starting again!

Have a lovely week ahead and thanks for visiting.

Helen, Sharon and I decided while on our way back from the Harrogate show that we would like to extend our skills a little so then arranged to have a Block of the Month Quilt Along. Several other people from knitting group have also joined in. So that was yesterday afternoon’s little project.

Helen is co-ordinating it and after discussion we decided to use this Quilter’s Cache site run by Marcia Hohn which has a huge number of patterns all at the same size and a random number generator to choose blocks.

We thought this was a good way of extending all our skills as then we would avoid just choosing easy blocks. Helen has been quilting for a long time, Sharon has just started and I am in the middle in terms of experience (and fabric stash lol!).

This month the block is Dutchman’s Puzzle which involves Flying Geese. I remembered that I had seen some videos on how to make these so being better at visual rather than written instructions used this very useful McCall’s Quilting video on You Tube to make them using the ‘no waste’ method.

It was great having the video as I took the laptop up to the craft room and did it step by step along with the tutorial (mind you it did take me about 1 1/2 hours rather than the 10 minutes of the video!)

That did include choosing the fabric though which took a while. I tend to buy fabric in small amounts and as we will be making 12 blocks of unspecified patterns had a bit of difficulty with what to choose.

In the end I went with a colour palette that I have used for previous things with the addition of some of my new stash from Harrogate (the Cath Kidston look-alike flowers on aqua in these pictures).

BOM JAN 15 fabric

BOM JAN 15 fabric 2

The solids are far more pink than they appear here (winter light upstairs not good for pictures!) and I do have a few more options that I can add. The white on white fabrics are really too subtle to see in this picture but they show up better in the finished block.

It was a good experience though as I tend to buy either fabric for specific things or stuff that I like the look of but not much of it co-ordinates with anything else apart from my lovely Simply Solids stash.

I have to think about the fact that future blocks may be more scrappy so that ruled out lots of larger prints and that as I am trying to do it all from stash what am I going to use for binding, sashing and backing?

What I may do is make 6 of the blocks from this set of stash and six from another set if I run out. These will probably become donated quilts as I have plans to make others for family this year.

I was very pleased with my end result and the process was very simple to understand, good practise as well at sewing 1/4 inch seams.

BOM JAN 15 geese

The finished block has turned out a bit big but am pleased with the points at the centre and have only lost the nose from one of the geese!

BOM JAN 15 Dutchman's puzzle block

BOM JAN 15

BOM JAN 15 geese point

It was an easy block to make and the video was very useful. Our aim is to make as many of the blocks as we all can (given busy lives) so no-one will be penalised for missing a month and we can use our regular meetings for knitting group to help each other out. There will then be a couple of quilting bees I should think when we tackle basting, binding and machine quilting.

After all that snow yesterday I awoke to this beautiful view – sunshine on the sparkling hills, if I wasn’t just getting over a yucky cough I would be out for a wander but I will stay in the warm and admire the views from here.

snow jan 15

Hope you have also had a nice weekend, thanks for visiting.

 

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