I really enjoy making stitching gifts and have just finished a set for a special little girl, the eldest daughter of my very talented friend Kat, the women who makes the gorgeous medieval and Tudor clothes and is a fabulous embroider as well.

If you have not seen her creations please look at her website Kats Hats and her Facebook page which also has loads of research such as manuscripts, effigies etc. She has also started running courses as well, details on the page.

It is Kat’s daughter’s birthday in a couple of weeks and she is following in her mother’s footsteps and started sewing a while ago so I have made her this pincushion and needle case set out of some fabric from my Simply Solids scrap stash.

Izzys pincushion 1

Izzys pincushion 2

I made a similar set for Rachel, my most prolific blog commenter and these were again from the Simply Solids scrap stash.

Hexi gift stitching 1

Hexi gift stitching 2

Hexi gift stitching 3

English Paper Piecing is great for this kind of small scale fabric stash and I am currently working on a similar item from my New Hexagon book that I posted about previously using my lovely Christmas present Liberty Lawn from Very Berry Fabrics.

I do particularly love making (and owning) pincushions and stitching pillows with space for needles in the back as well and these are the, mainly, stitched ones that I have made on the past, lots of these were for exchanges.

Kerry's pincushion

Summer Exchange by me - front

exchange embroidery lisa 2

Denise pincushion 1

Spring Ornie 2

Spring bird ornie 2

Summer Exchange piece front

Spring Exchange for Lei

Hexi pincushions

Autumn Exchange

Spring Exchange

Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom has a lovely idea of making pincushions regularly out of her scrap pile and keeping them in a basket for when stitching friends come round to give as gifts, isn’t that a great thing to do.

There are just a few more (595 pins!) ideas on this lovely Pinterest Board - do you think we might actually make more stuff if someone hadn’t invented Pinterest, not that I am complaining, I love it!

Right back to my hexis and a Game of Thrones marathon, am trying to catch up with the rest of Season 4 before Season 5 starts mid April or I will spend the entire re-enactment season having to try to avoid spoilers from all my friends who are avid fans!

Have a lovely rest of the weekend and thanks for visiting.

The focus of this challenge was a book with a great first line and I kept thinking of one of my all time favourites, Pride and Prejudice, ““It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Not knowing how I was going to beat that I pondered for a while then came across this in our  staff room book exchange.

Me and Mr Darcy looked like it might fit the bill and I loved the opening line, “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl in possession of her right mind must be in want of a decent man, there’s just one problem….”

Me and Mr Darcy

I have read Alexandra Potter’s books before and enjoyed them and after the last two wanted something a bit lighter to read. I have loved all the other ‘based on Pride and Prejudice’ adaptations such as Bridget Jones (not read the zombies one though, don’t like zombies!).

One of my favourite movies is the Bollywood version - Bride and Prejudice with the beautiful Aishwarya Rai which has some brilliant scenes with excellent dance music. Here is a link to one of my favourite dance scenes on You Tube.

Aishwarya-Rai

It was a great read and a realistic romantic novel if that makes sense, I liked the heroine and thought that the rest of the characters were well written, the way the Darcy and Elizabeth storyline was adapted was very clever as well. All in all an enjoyable read.

Am spending the rest of this weekend doing alterations on one of Ellie’s medieval dresses and finishing off more hexagon gifts (and expecting my lovely son home this afternoon!)

It is sunny Spring day, still chilly out but the crocuses and daffodils are in bloom here so it is very pretty. Borrowing Ted the dog to take for a little walk later as well.

Happy life! Hope you are all having a good time and thanks for visiting.

Well hello there, back in lovely Marsden now having had a very nice time and got lots of work done! Just thought I would share with you the fruits of my labour last weekend.

This month’s block did look like a bit of a challenge when Helen originally posted it – a Nine Patch Frame so she had the first go and very kindly supplied the measurements.

BOM March

It turned out to be not too bad, as you can see I have not really got my frame far enough out as it was a tricky devil to sew with those corners so my outer white triangles are not as good as they could be and have lost some of the points on the inner square but I like the fabric combinations.

BOM March 2

BOM March 3

Here is the Jan block Dutchman’s Puzzle which uses most of the same fabric. I am trying to vary each one a little due to running out of large pieces of stash and hoping that April is going to be a scrappy block :-)

BOM JAN 15 Dutchman's puzzle block

Here is the Feb block Union Squares – the right sized one!

Feb BOM Union Square 3

Will probably try and get the next 3 in these fabrics and make this into a small quilt, each block is 12 inches so will be cot sized with borders and can go to local hospice or Project Linus. Then do the next 6 in different fabrics.

Sharon jokingly suggested this might be our next block challenge. This is work by Danny Amazonas using fabrics from the Kaffe Fassett Collective – wow, just wow!

Danny Amazonas Kaffe Fassett Collective

Can’t believe it is nearly the weekend already – how exciting! It is very lovely and sunny here today so hope that continues and I can get some walking done as well as stitching.

Hope you have a nice time planned and thanks for visiting.

 

I am having a very, very lovely week so far. I have been sent on a writing retreat by work to finish part of my doctorate at a most gorgeous place, the Gladstone’s Library in the pretty village of Hawarden in North Wales.

Hawarden 13

Hawarden 14

There are lots of books – this morning I was working in this amazing place.

reading-rooms

And also not one but two castles just down the road (pictures in a minute) and a beautiful church with stained glass to die for.

The food is amazing and I am having a lovely time getting to know some of the new colleagues that have joined us at the University recently – there may be visits to the pub and wine involved in that bit :-)

I am feeling very relaxed and happy and making great progress with the writing (which is the whole point of being here!)

The library was set up by William Gladstone who was Prime Minister four times in the Victorian era and whose family home is this modern castle, sadly not open to the public.

It reminds me a lot of Boddelwyddan Castle  just along from here where we have been lucky enough to do a couple of events. It is quite possibly by the same architect.

hawarden new castle

But I did get to go for a walk in the parkland surrounding the old medieval castle which was very lovely, on a mild Spring day with lots of these gorgeous flowers everywhere – well we are in Wales!

Hawarden 2

Hawarden

I went for a little walk in the village as well past the old House of Correction and a lovely fountain.

Hawarden 3

Hawarden 4

Hawarden 5

The church, St Deniols, was very nice with an extensive old graveyard with some sad tales to be told from the gravestones of war and childhood death. And an amazing surprise inside, stained glass windows by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

Hawarden 6

Hawarden 7

Hawarden 8

Hawarden 9

Hawarden 10

Hawarden 11

Hawarden 12

I am seriously considering staying (not least because Ofsted are due at any minute!) but may have to go home soon so I can still fit in my jeans as there is lovely breakfast, lunch and tea plus morning coffee and afternoon, both of which may include cake – only to be polite of course.

In one of the corridors is a stitched piece by the local WI celebrating the village’s history.

Hawarden 15

Hawarden 16

Hawarden 17

However I do have Ellie’s velvet dress to alter for the start of the season at the end of April and a couple of other things to make so it will be (reluctantly) back to normality on Thursday.

Meanwhile I shall enjoy!

Hope you are all having a lovely week and thanks for visiting.

I am having a lovely week so far mainly working from home which was fortuitous as a long-awaited Amazon order arrived today and I was in to sign for it :-)

Hexalicious book

I ordered this title, The New Hexagon by Katja Marek, as I saw a review of it in one of my quilting magazines and am very excited. I love the fabric choices which make the front cover blocks look like one of those kaleidoscope toys I had as a kid.

Regular readers will know that I have a bit of a hexagon addiction going on at the moment and have done lots of things with ordinary hexagons.

I am now experimenting with diamonds making some little pin cushions and needlebook gifts and was looking for more things to do now that I am more confident with this English Paper Piecing lark!

I bought this other book below, Quilting on the Go by Jessica Alexandrakis,   for my Mum as a Mother’s Day present and it is a very good basic introduction to the craft with lots of useful templates and ideas for small and large projects.

Quilting on the Go

However I wanted something a bit more challenging for me, well just look at all this deliciousness ;-)

Hexalicious book 5

Hexalicious book 2

This is actually called the Hexalicious Wall Quilt hence the post title and I love the bright colours and the border fabric!

Hexalicious book 3

The patterns work equally well with more subtle fabric though as in this example.

Hexalicious book 4

So happy! Am taking this to knitting group tonight to share with my friends, I am sure Helen the premier quilter amongst us will be very impressed.

Right back to work now, coffee break over ;-)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

The Paso Blanco Museum was in an old chapel which had recently been refurbished. So not only was it the most wonderful collection of robes, cloaks and head dresses but the setting was amazing as well.

Lorca Blanco museum 2

Lorca Blanco museum

These were the first robes we looked at, the head dresses have eyeholes in them and the 3D work on the robes was stunning.

Lorca Blanco

Lorca Blanco 2

Lorca Blanco 3

Lorca Blanco 4

Lorca Blanco 5

Lorca Blanco 6

This is a close up of the wonderful Roman general’s cloak in the centre of the museum.

Lorca Blanco Roman robe

Many of the cloaks were pictorial as in the other museums and these had stunning scenes from the bible, the ones below were two of my favourite.

Lorca Blanco pictorial cloak 1

Lorca Blanco 24

Lorca Blanco 25

The detail of the people on this one must have taken hours of stitching.

Lorca Blanco black cloak 1

Lorca Blanco black cloak 2

And then there was the chapel to visit, just a little bit of gold in there!

Lorca Blanco chapel

Lorca Blanco chapel 2

Lorca Blanco chapel 3

Lorca Blanco chapel 4

Lorca Blanco chapel 5

Lorca Blanco chapel 6

Lorca Blanco chapel 7

Lorca Blanco chapel 8

Lorca Blanco chapel 9

Lorca Blanco chapel 10

If you feel like seeing any more goldwork I have done another slideshow for you. So much inspiration will keep me going for a long time!

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Hope that you have all enjoyed the goldwork and have a good week ahead, thanks for visiting.

I am very much enjoying this challenge as it is making me get around to reading those things that I have always meant to read plus so many unexpected others.

I am doing it out of numerical order but have created a little list of books that I am intending to read and am highlighting them as I go – I do love a bit of organisation!

Number 10 on the challenge is ‘A book set somewhere you have always wanted to visit’ and this book fulfils that category and also another personal target of finishing a book you have been lent. I love how talking about books to people brings up such unexpected joys and this one was prompted by my finding of another book by this author in a charity shop this summer.

You may remember I went to Bridgnorth on the steam train with my friends in August and we had a wander round and went into a couple of charity shops, my favourite sort of shopping ever!

I am not keen on shopping generally, I like shopping for food, especially now there is just me to buy for and I have lots of time (shopping for food with small children is not so much fun!) However I cannot bear to waste time in malls or clothes shops, most of them seem overpriced and full of ugly clothes.

But show me a row of charity shops and my little heart leaps! There could be all sorts of joy just in one shop – a new top (39 floaty tops is not too much is it?), new books (to add to the 23 already waiting to be read) , vintage embroidery to add to the stash (well it won’t go off will it?)

And there is always the chance of a completely unexpected find, last year I got these beauties from one of the shops in the village at an amazing £25 for the pair.

candlesticks

They are my pride and joy in the living room candle collection (I have to keep a close eye on them as various friends really like them as well!)

Plus the pleasure of knowing that you are donating money to a very good cause rather than just some company’s profit, you are saving things from landfill, giving people’s hard work in stitching a new lease of life and a hundred other reasons why charity shopping is so much better than normal shopping.

Not to mention saving money – why pay £40 for one top when you could have 10  (that does explain the 39 in my wardrobe!)

I digress – on the trip to Bridgnorth I picked up ‘The Forty Rules of Love’  by Turkish author Elif Shafak, intrigued by the write up on the back and started reading it on the train home.

The Forty Rules of Love

It was one of those ‘can’t put down’ books that really makes you feel you have found something amazing and I had it my pile to pass on to my Mum as it is full of the most beautiful sayings based on the work of a Sufi mystic and poet Rumi.

I mentioned this book to one of my trainees this year and offered to lend it to him as he is interested in Rumi’s writings and then another trainee who is Turkish offered to lend me one of the author’s books, ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’.

The Bastard of Istanbul

I would love to visit Instanbul one day and so this book came to be included in my list. It is a very interesting read as it deal with the lives of a Turkish family in Instanbul and an Armenian family in the US so lots of insight into an area of history I know very little of.

It did not have much about Istanbul in it but was a very engaging story and I would like to read more by this author, her Amazon page is here if you are interested.

It was similar in some respects to book number 20 ‘A book everyone but you has read’, this one is , ‘A Thousand Splendid Sons’ by Khaled Hosseini, mentioned to me by lots of people and an international best seller.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Both books deal with the lives of women (and both are women who were born illegitimate) and this one was very, very thought provoking deal with some very harsh realities of life for the women of Afghanistan in the 1990s.

The sort of book that everyone should read because it gives another perspective to the all the things we see on the news and in dramas. Not an enjoyable read in many ways but a powerful story.

It also links into another of my life goals which is to visit every country that ends in ‘stan’. Stan means country or land  and there are currently seven,  Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Khazakstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, previously many of these were part of the Soviet Union.

These may not be on everyone’s holiday wish list as they are countries that are more often in the news for negative reasons but they hold such beauty and history and hopefully I will be able to start on this list soon. This is one of the reasons why, just look at the majesty of these mosque buildings in Registan which was the ancient city of Samarkand.

Uzbeiksitan

I am just finishing off the editing on the last of the goldwork pictures then will post those, meanwhile there is serious work to be done so had better get to that rather than dreaming of travels!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

We visited the Paso Encardo (Crimson) Museum first, no pictures from this one but we did get to meet the embroiderers working in an upstairs room and in my very poor Spanish I was talking to them about what I had made as well and they were explaining their methods.

It was interesting to see the work in progress, I didn’t realise that so much work is still being done there, not realising the scale of the event. The majority of the work that we saw in the museums was from the 20th century and a lot of it was very recent.

The designs are drawn onto white cloth which was then laid over velvet, the design was then overlaid with strips of fluffy white cotton wadding which was couched down with tightly packed stitches, then the excess cloth was cut away.

I was surprised that they weren’t using gold for padding as I have previously seen it done with gold coloured felt as the gold threads are put straight on top of the white cotton.

They told us that it took 3000 hours to finish one of the capes and that includes the beautiful lifelike embroidered pictures that are surrounded by the goldwork.

The Paso Morado (Purple) museum was next which started off with the sort of things that we were expecting to see, beautiful clothes for the icons.

Lorca morado

Lorca morado 2

Lorca morado detail

What we weren’t expecting was this a whole gallery of beautiful and amazing goldwork.

Lorca morado museum 1

Lorca Morado banner 2

This piece was my favourite from that museum, not just the intricacy of the goldwork but the overall shape of the banner.

Lorca morado banner

I have put some more pictures from this museum into the slideshow below.

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We then went to the Paso Azul (Blue) Museum a couple of minutes away which was housed in an Art Deco style house very similar to Casa Modernista in Novelda that we have visited a couple of times.

Not only was the display of capes fabulous but the building was beautiful, I loved all the newel post baubles which were all of a different style on the first two floors.

Lorca Azul museum

Lorca Azul museum 2

Lorca Azul museum 3

This museum was very different as they had a lot more of the horse rider’s cloaks and a lot more emphasis on the pictorial side of the work, still amazing goldwork but also Roman and Egyptian pictures and biblical scenes like this one in silk shaded embroidery.

If the first cloaks the women were making took 3000 hours I estimate about 8000 for this one looking at the size of it, just incredible.

Lorca Azul horse cloak

This robe was also beautiful.

Lorca Azul Robe

Again I have put more pictures into the slideshow below, apologies as some of the photos are not brilliant as all of it was obviously behind glass but you can get a sense of the amazing work.

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Will love you and leave you now as stitching is calling but will be back later in the week with the mind-blowing last museum, Thanks for visiting.

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.

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