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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.

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.

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.

Hello everyone and a very happy 2015, I know I am a bit late but this is my first post this year so I hope you all had a great time.

I have just finished reading a book called ‘A Different World’ by Mary Nichols , a very good story about World War 2 which is set partly in Warsaw so it was interesting to read about that side of the experiences of people under occupation.

It struck me that this was a good title for this week’s post as I am sitting here watching the snow fall in lovely Marsden and last weekend’s view was this from our picnic on the beach.

Spain New Year beach and boat

Spain New Year beach

Not that I mind the snow (as long as I can get to work on Monday) as what better excuse is there for sitting with a fleecy blanket, some good TV (Game of Thrones Season 3) and some more hexagons!

Ooh and Ellen has said I can have some of the Baileys she inadvertently left after Christmas so I might be making myself a sneaky hot chocolate later :-)

I had a lovely time as always in Spain and really enjoyed the time I spent with Mum. I helped her choose a new sewing machine and was showing her how to cut out her first bit of quilting.

We also had great excitement as we found the quilt shop in Alicante which is the nearest we could find to where Mum lives  (thank god for the miracles of the internet!).

The shop is called Patchwork and Quilting and we met the owner, a lovely lady called Ana Camara, who despite saying her English was not very good talked to us for about 20 minutes about her visits to England (one to the Festival of Quilts) and about all her shop.

Spain New Year  Quilt Shop 1

She runs workshops as well as sells fabric so if you are every in the area do go and visit. This is a link to a map  of the shop.

She has an excellent range of fabric and I was very pleased to find this yard of Robert Kaufman print which co-ordinates with the panel I bought from Harrogate.

Kaufman baubles

Kaufman baubles 2

I had a very relaxing time walking and cycling in the sunshine, admiring all the gardens and pretty flowers, this is one of my favourite gardens and gave me the inspiration for the cactus planting at my house (they are very tricky to weed though, lots of ouch!).

Spain New Year Cactus garden

Spain New Year Cactus garden 2

Spain New Year Cactus garden 3

And this poinsettia bush looked really good in contrast with the purple bougainvillea next to it.

Spain New Year Poinsettia bush

While we were in Alicante we came across this replica of a galleon which had amazing doors – I expect my pirate re-enactor friends would love to have trip out on this.

Spanish Galleon

Spain New Year Galleon 2

Spain New Year Galleon 3

Spain New Year Galleon 4

Spain New Year Galleon 5

Right will get back to watching the snow fall and piecing hexis – am working a baby quilt for one of Ellie’s friends at the moment with the scrap stash that I bought from Simply Solids.

Will do a full tutorial post when it is finished but here is a preview – how cute are those cars!

hexagons car print

Thanks for visiting!

Hope you all had a lovely day yesterday – just popped in to post a few pictures for you. Firstly of the sewing case I have made for my sister-in-law as a present, thankfully got this completed on Christmas Eve.

Xmas 2014 sewing case

Xmas 2014 sewing case 2

I have taken the pattern from a case that I got in a raffle at a quilt show a few years ago. It is a really useful little travelling case and was very simple to make. The fabric is from Simply Solids – both patterned and plain.

The case is 11 inches in length and 7 inches wide so I cut 2 pieces of fabric and made a quilted sandwich using some very thin wadding. I used my marking tool again to quilt large crosses three times along the length of the case to hold it together.

The pockets are the width of the case and about 3 inches tall. I have lined them as well with wadding and stitched them to the case backing to hide the seam (stitched wrong way then folded back and side seams stitched). I also did some top stitching with zig zag to stabilise the wadding and make it look pretty!

Xmas 2014 sewing case 4

Binding was then attached – machined to inside then folded and hand stitched to outside, I also made a little pin cushion out of the matching labels fabric I had. I have used a big plastic press stud to fasten it as they are nice and invisible when sewn with matching thread.

Xmas 2014 sewing case 3

My lovely children and friends got me some very nice crafty gifts for Christmas, first this quilt history book that I have had on my wish list for a while, ‘Pieced from Ellen’s Quilt’. I love reading about the women who made quilts and this uses Ellen’s letters to tell her story of life in Wisconsin in the 1850s.

Xmas 2014 presents

Then there was more fabric – Ellie seemed to think I already have enough fabric so was not expecting this (though I had hinted!) but she and Kerry bought me all this lovely stuff from Very Berry Fabrics.

Xmas 2014 buttons

Xmas 2014 fabric 1

Xmas 2014 fabric 2

Xmas 2014 fabric 3

How exciting and means that I have lots of lovely hexi making things to take away with me.I am off to Spain for 2 whole weeks in a couple of days so lots of time sitting on the terrace sewing, lucky me!

Have a lovely New Year and see you when I return.

You know when you promise yourself you are not going to buy any more fabric as you already have lots that you haven’t used (and haven’t touched for years) and you really, really mean to stick to that promise but then along comes a really special something so you have to buy it even though it is a bit naughty? Well that happened to me last week, was just buying some tickets for the Knitting and Stitching Show in November and was checking the list of exhibitors and happened to see one of our local fabric suppliers, Simply Solids, listed so just had to have a little look at their website and they had the most fabulous themed fabric and it was on sale! Quilt fabric - sewing patterns 1 I think this first one is going to be my favourite – though the others are fab as well. Quilt fabric - sewing patterns 2 Quilt fabric - sewing patterns 3 Quilt fabric - sewing patterns It arrived on Friday but did not have time to really appreciate it until I got back from the weekend. The other exciting thing is that she is opening a shop in town soon with classes and everything! That is probably going to a major dent in my budget but at least the kids will know what to get me for Christmas as I am sure she will do gift vouchers. The justification is that I am planning to make Christmas gifts so it can count as spends for that and not fabric spends, (I did have other stuff to make Christmas gifts with though – just have to use them up quick as well!) We usually go and have a little look in the National Trust second-hand book stalls when we visit properties and came away with a brilliant haul this time. As well as a big pile of fiction books they had just had a lot of quilting books donated so I bought these four. Quilt books NT The pink bordered title was published in 1937 and is a detailed study of the history of 19th century quilting and the front book gives lots of hand quilting patterns. My favourite one is this wonderfully titled publication from 1984 which is so detailed in the process of making a block quilt. It has all sorts of useful things like a sizing chart for different bed sizes, a block design page where you are encouraged to colour in sample blocks to see which look best and most useful of all are sets of card templates for all of the blocks. Quilt books NT 6 Quilt books NT 5 Quilt books NT 4 Quilt books NT 3 Quilt books NT 2 I have decided that I will concentrate on quilting and patchwork for a while (in between lots of kit making sessions). I will still be knitting socially but after 9 bunnies and 3 elephants am going to swap skills for a while and there is so much that I have been wanting to do quilt wise. Quilting and patchwork will be the focus of the Christmas presents this year (so that I can feed my hexagon addiction!) and I will be making sewing notion gifts, two more aprons and hopefully a cushion based on this wonderful quilt using found textiles which have been embellished with embroidery and beads. Vintage fabric bee quilt This is from a Bee Quilt Stitch along that I found on this blog - I think it is made by someone called Chantal, the site is in French so not too sure but there are some wonderful hexagon quilts on there done using the quilt as you go technique where each hexagon is made and bound before being stitched together. Isn’t it gorgeous and will be a great was of using up some of the vintage things I have bought over the last two years. So am going to be very busy and happy during the off-season! Take care and thanks for visiting.

Hello again

The baking that is , the weather has been pretty bad, that lovely blend of freezing sideways rain that with wind Yorkshire does so well. So I used that as an excuse to do some baking and sewing (not that I really need an excuse but was considering a walk until the heavens opened).

I used a recipe from the BBC Food site for my gluten-free muffins, you can find it here and adapted it to a savoury mixture by adding leftover baked sweet potato and cheese.

I have found gluten-free needs more moisture and flavour as the flours (potato, rice and tapioca mainly) do not give much of these. I used the Doves Farm Gluten free self-raising blend.

Gluten free muffins 1

Gluten free muffins 2

Before they went into the oven they didn’t look very promising but came out nicely – a good crumb as Paul Hollywood (Great British Bake Off) would say and a nice colour. They could have done with a bit more flavour but ok with a bit of butter!

The loaf was an adaptation of the recipe on the back of the Doves Farm gluten-free bread flour, I added orange juice, cranberries and seeds , mainly sunflower and pumpkin my favourites :-).

Gluten free baking

Straight out of the oven it was very good, though the loaf weighs a lot and could prove a handy weapon if needed the warm slice was lovely. Later on when cold it was a bit dense and again could do with a bit more flavour but will be ok toasted.

I forgot to tell you yesterday about some very good books I have been reading, the Cobbled Court novels by Marie Bostwick.

They are a set of quilt themed novels (as in they are about a woman who owns a quilt shop) so quilting is mentioned and there are related free patterns on the author’s website. They are brilliant and I really enjoyed reading them and can’t wait to get the last couple I haven’t read, the one below will be released in April.

Marie Bostwick book

I have put myself on a strict monthly diet in terms of my Amazon books orders and have already had my quota for Jan. It doesn’t help being registered so all that lovely stuff is just a few clicks away :-)

I do try and buy secondhand and from the charity suppliers when I can so I don’t feel so guilty. And I do pass them on, Mum and her friends are really enjoying the Cobble Court ones I left in Spain.

Well back to making curtains now and I have a padded arming jack to start making this afternoon. Have a lovely rest of the weekend and thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone

Well I am having a lovely autumn here, am not going to be going to China anytime soon now so I am making the most of the season in the UK with some more lovely walks, practising being a domestic goddess and still more bunny knitting :-)

Have been busy baking cakes and crumbles, cooking stews and soups and have just taken possession of a new cookbook, Paul Hollywood’s Bread – inspired by watching The Great British Bake Off. Today I made some delicious Stilton and bacon rolls from this recipe and have lots more great ideas for the coming weeks.

Bread book

You will notice I also have a pumpkin all ready for the now obligatory pumpkin soup with melting cheese - yum, yum.

I have just sent off another bunny, this one is a very special one as it is a present for one of my daughter’s very good friends.

Ellie is being a bridesmaid this weekend for her school friend Charlotte and the bunny is a present for Charlotte’s daughter Elizabeth. I was asked to make the dress in the same colours as the bridesmaids will be wearing and added a little hairband as well.

Bridesmaid bunny

Bridesmaid bunny 2

Here are some photos of a beautiful cottage garden from a walk on the hills above my house a couple of weeks ago. There were some donkeys in the field next to the house as well, looking very cute.

Sept walk 3 -donkeys

Cottage garden

Cottage garden 2

Cottage garden 3

Cottage garden 4

Sept walk

Sept walk 2

Also went to my favourite reservoir, they have partly drained it as they are doing some work so went right down to the water.

Sept walk 4 - Butterley

It is the Marsden Jazz Festival this coming weekend so I will be manning the Box Office all weekend. Looking forward to it and hoping for very good weather, we have had beautiful sunshine just lately :-)

Hope you have a lovely weekend whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.

Hello everyone and I hope you in the UK have been enjoying all this beautiful sunshine we have been having!

It has been wonderful here and we have been really enjoying ourselves. This also bodes very well for our favourite event of the re-enactment year as this coming weekend it is the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival and I am beyond excited :-)

You may remember that last year the event nearly got called off do to the site flooding and it was a mud fest to say the least but this year we are looking forward to lovely sunshine just like the old days.

Do come and visit if you can – it is the 30th anniversary of the event this year and is a brilliant day out, free entry as well though please donate as much as you can to our bucket collectors as it costs a lot to put the event on and we want it to continue! The town and Abbey are also fantastic to wander round and if it is hot there is the river to paddle in.

I have been making lots of kit for friends and have been busy finishing it off in time which is why I have been practising making holes. If you want more info on medieval men’s kit then go to my page which details what everything is called.

I am not very good at this part of the kit making process (my lovely friend Kerry is a dab hand at it and her dresses have beautiful lacing holes down the back). I have usually cheated with using ribbon loops on my dresses but wanted to make a shirt with a laced neck and hose with holes to tie them to the brais.

Shirt neck detail

Hose  holes detail

Hose outside holes detail

They are not too bad but could be neater.

I will take some photos of the garments on their recipients and post later – Jake has been very kindly trying things on for me as I go along but as he is lots skinnier than my friends they have looked a bit big on him!

So far I have made a shirt, lined hose and slightly different style of brais so it has been good for me to learn new skills.

Brais

I have also been practising neatening my seams by stab stitching as I always zigzag raw edges before sewing together to prevent fraying and this makes them a bit neater and means the sleeves can be rolled up if needed.

Shirt sleeve detail

I am thinking of adding a new page to the making costume bit with more details of these garments as I know I get lots of hits for that so it is on my to do list now that summer is here and work is quieter.

It was my birthday recently and I got some lovely presents, my sister-in-law Amanda who is a very keen cross stitcher made me this beautiful Celtic design scissor keep which came in very handy as the scissors had really fine points for cutting the holes.

Birthday scissor keep front

Birthday scissor keep

She also stitched this birthday card for me – very appropriate!

Cross stitch birthday card

And from my lovely kids I got this gorgeous book which was a total surprise as it was not from my wish list. Ellie saw it when one of the staff at Hardwick brought it in and thought I would like it and it is brilliant, just my sort of book with lots and lots of detail about techniques and sources.

Sweet bags book

Sweet bags book 2

Sweet bags book 3

It is called Sweet Bags by Jacqui Carey.

And look another version of the Layton Jacket that I have posted about previously, this one is a portrait of Lady Dorothy Carey dated 1615 and I had not seen this pic before.

My lovely Mum gave me some money for garden furniture so I have bought a BBQ and last Friday we had our first Marsden barbie – here is Jake enjoying the sun (and a little cider!)

BBQ in Marsden

Still got to get a new table and chairs (that is our camping stuff) once I have decided what I want, tempted by a lovely mosaic bistro set but think the table is a bit small.

Well I shall be posting again in a couple of weeks as after Tewkesbury Kerry and I are off on a National Trust fest making the most of our memberships to go and visit some lovely properties, hope the weather holds for that.

Take care and thank you as always for visiting, liking, following and subscribing :-)

Oh the joy of having nothing to do apart from sit and watch movies and stitch!

I was contemplating doing some gardening (which I did not want to do as it was boring lawns) but it being a Bank Holiday weekend it has been pouring down along with thunder and lightning so I have the whole afternoon to do as I please!

I am still working on the hand quilting of the throw, this will be a long job but a very pleasurable one. I decided to hand quilt some of the flower motifs from each of the patterned squares with metallic thread rather than just outlining the squares and it is looking really good.

I am still not very confident with my machine skills for doing any other type of quilting – I look at Crazy Mom Quilts  with envy. One of my targets for this winter (in my new craft room!) will be to get better at this.I think I will make some little art quilts for the walls to practise.

My Summer Exchange piece has arrived at last in the USA so I can reveal it to you. This was organised once again through the Seasonal Exchange  blog and was sent to Sarah who does not yet have a blog herself.

Strawberries always remind me of summer so I stitched part of an Elizabethan knot garden design from a book I have had for a while, ‘Elizabethan Cross Stitch’ by Barbara Hammett. It is a beautiful book with loads of lovely designs.

Elizabethan Cross Stitch

Once again it is stitched with Silk Mill  threads. I made it into a pincushion with plain green evenweave for the backing and I have put a little strawberry charm from my stash on the back and a couple of beads from my Xmas ornie making stash on the front in the middle.The strawberries also have seed beads on them.

Summer Exchange by me - front

 

Summer Exchange by me - back

 

Am off to see Ellie tomorrow so lots more stitching time on the train – what a lovely life!

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

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