What I did on my holidays … or what I did in 2015

Hello everyone, inspired by lots of other people doing review of activities posts I thought that I would take a look back at what I managed in 2015.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, (except for the perennial one of doing less housework and more fun things), but do like thinking about what the year might bring.

I did set myself a number of goals for that year, 12 quilt blocks with our Block of the Month organised by Helen from knitting group, 26 books to be read and 17 sewing projects from the Sewing Bucket List.

I didn’t get any of them completed fully but on the positive side this means I still have things to work on for this year :-)

I finished 5 of the quilt blocks and have another one cut out but have been having a few issues with my new machine :-( so need to spend some time sorting that out before any serious quilt making happens.

I have enjoyed the challenge and it has made me a lot more accurate and confident about piecing and if I hadn’t been doing so much other sewing would have managed all of these.

I have read lots and lots of books this year but got diverted from the list so ended up only completing 11 out of the 26.

My current favourite diversion is my discovery of Debbie Macomber, I really enjoyed watching the adaptation of her Cedar Cove series on Netflix in the summer and as usual picked up a couple of her Blossom Street series in a charity shop in Spain recently and am now hooked! Appropriate for a series that starts with the story of a yarn shop.

Blossom street novel

Have ordered four more of these to take to Spain for my next holiday, yes Alison what happened to not buying any more books until all the ones you had were read?

As for the sewing list 7 out of 17 and again lots of other diversions off to stitch Jenny’s beautiful designs and to make lots of medieval kit and a couple of extra things for the sewing room.

Other things I accomplished not on the list, lots and lots of hexagon piecing, my favourites being the pincushions and needlecases with Liberty fabric.

And learning to knit in the round, the wristwarmers and the little knitted pincushions were my first success with this.

The discovery of Jenny’s embroidery which gave me lots of beautiful things to stitch, my favourite so far are her birds, this one is now in my craft room.

So challenges for 2016 then. Well to finish all these lists, to improve my skills at making quilt blocks.

I still have lots of lovely things I want to make for the craft room and think that single blocks to use as mini quilts is probably a better option than trying to make anything bigger.

2016 will definitely be a year of more embroidery and challenging myself to use different stitches.

As for knitting goals definitely lost more of Julie’s little animals, the mouse is coming along very well and love the speed at which I can complete them.

What about you, any challenges that you want to tackle in 2016?

Have a lovely week ahead and thanks for visiting.

Positive thoughts

Hello everyone

Hope that you are all ok and not too battered by wind and rain. In Yorkshire we have been having very dark days and lots of colder weather, it is lovely to stay inside at this time of year and snuggle up with some stitching. I spent all of yesterday with my fleecy blanket and some hand embroidery in front of the TV which was brilliant.

I have been reading some very inspiring letters this week, written during the American Depression of the 1930s and contained in a beautiful book, The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt.

Farmers wife book

I had seen this book on various blogs and had been tempted by it for the beautiful hand piecing but told myself I didn’t need another quilt block book.

Then I read the info and realised that it was actually reproductions of letters from the Farmer’s Wife magazine of the era and since I love anything that ties history and crafting together got a copy.

fabric and farmers wife book Nov 8

The letters were obviously published to try to inspire and support women living through that time of poverty and uncertainty and talk of the joys of a simple life, growing your own food, valuing time with family, (and putting that first above cleaning!) and the beauty of your surroundings.

I have really enjoyed reading them and plan to make a few of the blocks for a hanging in my craft room, I think they would look lovely out of the Liberty scraps I have.

fabric and farmers wife book Nov 9

I also have some new fabric to show you, bought last week at Simply Solids. This I just had to add to my Christmas fabric stash because it is so cute, look at these reindeer! This is from the Festive Modern Christmas Collection by Makower.

Fabric Nov

fabric and farmers wife book Nov 2

This one below will look lovely with some of the bird embroidery designs from Jenny of Elefantz, I am doing well with my hanging for the craft room so will be back to ornament stitching next week.

I am intending to use this and the Makower snowflake one as surrounds for more pretty Noel birds. This fabric is called Evergreen Marshmallow Goodwill by Basic Grey.

fabric and farmers wife book Nov 3

fabric and farmers wife book Nov 4

My lovely friend Helen also gifted me this – she thought it would well for the Steampunk costumes that we are making for later next year, I love all the whimsical things here. I don’t know where this fabric comes from though.

fabric and farmers wife book Nov 5

fabric and farmers wife book Nov 6

I think all of this fits in very well with one of my favourite letters from the book a woman talking about how she was having a bad day and saw this quote from the bible, ‘Whatsoever things are lovely….think on these things.’

It is very soothing to have lovely fabric and lovely things to look forward to when it is cold and dark and I am very lucky to have lots of lovely things in my life, hope that you are too!

One very lovely thing is happening this week as we are having graduation.

There is always a great sense of achievement for my students and their families on this day and it is lovely to meet so many parents, children and partners who have supported my students along the way. Most of them are mature students and like the farmer’s wives in the book have so much to do as well as study.

The best bit for me is when the staff line up on the way out of the hall and clap them all as they leave, that always makes my day as they are not expecting that and is great to see the smiles on their faces as they pass us.

I do have a great job and am very thankful for it, despite the funding cuts and stresses of teaching it is a very lovely thing to do ;-)

Hope you are going to have a great week ahead with lovely things in it, see you soon and thanks for visiting.

 

Sweet books from blogs

As regular readers know I do love buying books, am trying to be good about buying novels as I have so many to read already but the temptation of Amazon is hard to resist!

However I have allowed myself the purchase of two lovely books by bloggers that I am going to use as Christmas presents.

One is from the lovely Nana Company blog  by Amy Sinibaldi and is something that I had my eye on for a while.

The Sweetly Stitched Handmades  has got so many lovely ideas in for using Liberty and linen and some great gift ideas.

new books Oct

This bear cushion is one of my favourites, isn’t that brilliant! Such a simple idea but so cute.

new books Oct 2

I also really love the spot trivet, there have been lots of these on social media and they are all gorgeous.

new books Oct 3

And look, stacked hexi flowers! What a great idea.

new books Oct 4

The other book was one from a new blog to me, Why Not Sew?, where Erin makes lovely vintage inspired quilts.

I found her blog and her book through Crazy Quilt Mom’s pincushion party where she had made the cutest little bird pincushion and really loved the book Sweet Treats , you can see everything that is in the book at this post here.

All of the designs feature cute little birds and these are some of my favourite ones. Isn’t her stitching so good, especially love that last one with the umbrella!

new books Oct 5

new books Oct 6

new books Oct 7

new books Oct 8

new books Oct 9

Am making good progress with all my WIPs, lots of things got halted because of the need to make kit for people, the things for Yarndale and the wedding outfit but am now back on with the block of the month challenge that we had set ourselves.

I completed May’s block this weekend and an extra one to use up the fabric I had so that I can make the first 6 blocks into a lap quilt as a Christmas present.

I will then start on the blocks from June which will be a second lap quilt using some gorgeous fabric I bought at the Birmingham Quilt Festival.

I am really enjoying our challenge, even though I am so behind, and it is definitely making me more confident with my quilting skills, my piecing is far more accurate and we have done some blocks that I would never have attempted on my own.

Pictures when I have put it together as a quilt top, hopefully some time in the next week. Have a lovely week ahead whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.

It’s not more fabric it’s an investment in my retirement fund

Hello there, hope that you are all well and happy and are doing something nice.

I am looking forward to a wonderful weekend of sewing, I have just finished up two more Christmas ornaments and have a present to finish later and then just may have a play with the latest addition to my retirement fund.

I saw three ladies at the Birmingham Festival of Quilts who had brilliant t-shirts on with the logo, ‘I have a retirement plan, I plan to quilt’. I always tell the kids that one of the reasons I buy fabric now is so that I will have enough when I am living on my pension, well it won’t go off will it?

I would not have bought this were it not for my friend Debbie who came to knitting with this lovely and incredibly cheap fabric from our local haberdashers, only £2.20 a metre, you just have to buy some at that price!

Xmas fabric oct 15

Xmas fabric oct 15 3

Xmas fabric oct 15 4

Xmas fabric oct 15 5

Then there was this that was a little bit more expensive, (so I only bought 1/4 metre lengths of this), the latest Makower print.

Xmas fabric oct 15 1

It is going to be the best sort of weekend as it is followed by half term, (yippee :-) :-) !) I am not off anywhere as I saw all the family last weekend but am working from home for most of it that so that means late starts and early finishes and lots of time for nice cooking and crafting.

I am very much in soup mode at the moment as I have had a horrible cough and cold and not felt like eating much else so have purchased the pumpkin for the annual soup!

Sadly it is raining which means that I won’t be going out, but more excuse to stay on the sofa, under the fleece and sew – what a lovely life.

Here are the Christmas ornaments that I finished yesterday, another one of Jenny of Elefantz’s wonderful designs, this is an adaptation of one of the designs in the Nov Stitchery Club set.

Elefantz Christmas Hearts stitchery

I altered the little flag to say Merry Christmas and am very pleased how neat the little letters have come out, Jenny’s designs are great for practising neat stitches. Just ignore those bits that aren’t so neat at the bottom of the bird ;-)

Xmas bird ornie 1

Xmas bird ornie 2

Xmas bird ornie 3

The little brass charm is from Stitch Direct.

I think these would look great in redwork stitching with that Makower snowflake fabric above so that might have to be my next set.

I have also treated myself to this book, it has been on my Amazon wishlist for a long time and once I have finished all the outstanding block of the month challenges, which I am hoping to do this week, I will be making a couple of runners for my house.

Xmas blocks book

Xmas blocks book 2

I have taken the decision not to do any craft fairs this year, what with making stuff for Sarah’s Yarndale stall and the wedding outfit and the possible trip to China with work that sadly did not happen, I felt that I would be too rushed so all my Christmas crafting this year will be for me!

I have already made most of the gift ornaments, that’s what you get for starting in July lol.

Have a very lovely weekend, thanks for visiting and see you all soon.

Let there be elf ears!

Am having a lovely weekend sewing, Jake has gone back to Uni so it is very quiet here now.

I am just finishing off the last few bits for Sarah’s stall at Yarndale next week but have popped in to share with you the very exciting news that her book of designs is being published and is available for pre-order.

Sarah's book Front-Cover

Not only does it have some stunning designs in it, Sarah is hugely talented and very creative and there are some beautiful things, it also features my lovely daughter Ellie with elf ears!

She was very, very excited to be asked to model for this, (unaccustomed as she is to having her photo taken of course), and had a brilliant day with the other two models, my friends Suzi and Helen from knitting group, in a local park which has a lot of dells filled with ferns and made a brilliant setting for the designs.

There is a little video showing the location and an outtake from the shoot here – the girls challenging their inner Charlie’s Angels!

Unfortunately the elf ears had to be added post -production as the make – up artist was not available that day but she looks fab in them.

I think this is my favourite picture of Ellie.

Ellie as an elf

Though this one is very lovely too – she is actually wearing one of my flower head dresses in this picture ;-)

Ellie as an elf

So go and take a look at all the wonderful designs in the full book – it is available on Ravelry and on Sarah’s Alder Sign website, it would make a lovely Christmas present for a knitty friend.

I can’t wait until my wrist is better and I can start knitting again. I think I am going to make a shawl like this beautiful one modelled by Suzi, or maybe a jumper for Ellie as she did request one of the ones she had modelled.

Suzi as an elf

Copyright for all pictures belongs to Sarah.

I am going to be having a lovely day again today, more sewing in front of the TV and it is Channel 5’s, ‘End of the World Weekend’, with lots of disaster movies. I do love a good disaster movie :-)

As long it is not really the end of the world as that would be sad, given the amount of work that Sarah has put into her book ;-) and the fact that Ellie and her best friend from Uni are going to Spain tomorrow for a very hard-earned week of R and R in the sun.

Hopefully we still all be here next week, I have a busy week ahead as the trainees are in all week so little crafting time but lots of fun planned around that.

Have a good week ahead and thanks for visiting.

Daughters of War

We have had a very nice if damp weekend away at the Tatton event and this morning went to visit Dunham Massey, a National Trust property with a special exhibition which was very interesting.

It links in with several books that I have been reading about the role of women in the First World War and is called Sanctuary from the Trenches .

The story that is told is of the Stamford Military Hospital set up during the war at the property and of the nurses who worked there, particularly Sister Catherine Bennett who was matron and Lady Jane Grey, the daughter of the Stanford family who worked as a VAD during the war.

It is a very well put together display using both historical artefacts and interpretations, including lovely text printed on articles such as sheets, socks and bedside tables to tell the story of the men who spent time at that hospital.

Dunham Massey 1

Dunham Massey 2

Dunham Massey 3

Dunham Massey 4

Dunham Massey 5

Dunham Massey 6

My friend Barbara has recently done a talk on knitting for the First World War – the Knitting and Crochet Guild based in Huddersfield has some artefacts that were knitted for soldiers. I thought this reproduction of a note from a knitter was very thought provoking.

One of the rooms was displaying artefacts from the lives of the nurses who lived and worked there including their training manual.

Dunham Massey 7

Dunham Massey 8

Dunham Massey 9

Dunham Massey 10

Dunham Massey 11

I have recently read a very good fictional trilogy which I have just bought copies of for Ellie called Daughters of War by Hilary Green dealing with a similar story of women volunteering for duty during the war in Gallipoli.

Dunham Massey 12

In the kitchen at Dunham Massey there were some costumed volunteers who were knitting for the troops, they very kindly allowed me to take pictures.

Dunham Massey 13

Dunham Massey 14

Dunham Massey 15

On one of our recent Trust visits we got lots of lovely books from one of their second – hand book shops, one of which was an amazing book called, Diary of an Ordinary Woman, by Margaret Foster , edited from the diaries of Millicent King, born in 1901 who of course experienced both the First and Second World Wars and kept a diary of her life from the age of 13 until the age of 93.

Dunham Massey

It would have been a really interesting book if it had been a work of fiction but was all the more poignant for being a true story.

A very interesting, thought provoking and moving morning.

Hope that you have had a good weekend whatever you have been doing, see you soon and thanks for visiting.

Pretty little things

I am working on a number of little projects in order to have things to sell at craft stalls later in the year, it is never too early to start making Christmas ornaments here at Stitches of Time ;-)

I am also going to be having some ‘crafternoon’ sessions with my friends from knitting group as I did last year so we can all get an early start on our ornaments.

First one is in a couple of weeks and will be accompanied by crafternoon tea which will be an excuse to get the cake stand out!

As well as the knitted pincushions I am going to make lots of pincushions using Liberty fabrics and linen as due to making kit for the boys I have ended up with lots of large scraps ideal for this purpose.

liberty and linen

I have been inspired by creations like those by Amy from Nana Company – this book, Sweetly Stitched Handmades by her is on my Amazon wish list and think that the combination of Liberty and linen is a real winner.

Nana Company Book

Another thing I thought that would sell well is little jars of buttons, Ellie has bought me some for the last two Mother’s Days and they are such cute gifts.

mothers day gifts buttons

I have ordered a large stock of pretty little buttons to make up jars with fabric covered lids. Most of these came from an Ebay shop called Bead Bonkers UK.

Buttons June

Buttons June 2

Buttons June 3

Buttons June 4

I am keeping these ones just for me though, aren’t they gorgeous!

Buttons June 5 for me

These charms are to put on the knitted pincushions and knitting accessories – most of these came from an Etsy shop called DIY Club which has some beautiful charms and ships very speedily from China.

Another one that I have used from Etsy is Beading Shaz who has wonderful charms like cupcakes and cute dogs!

Buttons June 6 knitting charms

This beautiful stack of Kona Solids has just come into my life as well, a subscription gift from a quilt magazine, would love to make a rainbow quilt or a Sudoko quilt as in this You Tube tutorial with it but since my list of WIPs for quilting is very long at the moment I will just keep it as an ornament for now!

Kona solids

It is so lovely to have more time to craft, now that teaching is over things have quietened down a lot at work so am looking forward to a lovely summer of making in between the marking!

Hope that you have all got lots to look forward to as well. Take care and thanks for visiting.