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Our first stop on the National Trust visiting holiday was Montacute House, we had wanted to visit this property last year but it was being used for filming Wolf Hall.

Montacute

Montacute 2

Montacute 5

I love the old books in historic house libraries, the covers are so beautifully decorated.

Montacute 6

Montacute 15

There was not a large amount of embroidery on display but this crewelwork bedspread was one of the lovely things in the house.

Montacute 16

Not only is the property gorgeous in mellow stone, set in a quintessentially English village of the same stone, (decorated with bunting for their upcoming Summer Festival), but also they have lots of portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery of Tudor and Stuart costume.

Montacute 3

Montacute 4

Montacute 7

Montacute 8

Montacute 9

Some of the pictures didn’t have labels to say who they were but others were of suitable fame including Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry the 8th.The detail of the fabric and embroidery is wonderful, especially the collar fabric.

Montacute 12

Montacute 13

Montacute 14

There was also a portrait of a woman wearing a similar jacket to the Layton jacket that I love, apologies for fuzzy photos as it was a bit dark. I have found a Layton jacket Pinterest board of these jackets and other Elizabethan embroidery, some in a museum near here that I am intending to visit over the summer.

Montacute 10

Montacute 11

Am off out for a walk in a bit with Ted, my friend’s dog. It is a beautiful day here and all the rhododendrons are in bloom so we will have a lovely time, well I will, don’t think that Ted is that bothered about the beautiful flowers but there will be plenty to sniff at!

Then it is back to sewing, I have finished one pair of braies, (men’s undergarments), and have a shirt to cut out and sew this afternoon.

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

I do love history – you may have guessed if you have been reading this blog for any length of time so I have had a wonderful weekend and little holiday being part of a re-enactment event and then spending three days visiting National Trust properties.

The event was in Templecombe in Somerset, a long trip down for us so we took advantage of being in a part of the country we haven’t spent much time in.

We always have living history encampments at shows and these pictures are of the lovely tents that were on display there this weekend.

Templecombe

Templecombe 2

Templecombe 6

There was also a new addition to the site, this beer barn has been built by the site owners and volunteers and the money for it has been raised by the re-enactors who use it, through auctions last year and on the Saturday night of the event this year and by an online donation appeal.

Templecombe 3

Templecombe 4

I pledged a custom – made shirt for the auction so am going to be making that this weekend for the re-enactor that won it.

It is a beautiful building and has been made with such attention to detail. The piece over the bar was carved by the owner of the site.

Templecombe 5

Driving around after the event we saw so many cute little villages as well as the amazing Trust properties. Lots of pictures of those to follow once I sort them out!

There was great excitement at one of the properties, Barrington Court, while we were on our way to visit the second-hand bookshop that we always love at these places, (yes I bought more books!), we discovered a patchwork shop in the artisan workshops. They have a website as well at Barrington Patchworks.

Templecombe 9 - Barrington Patchwork

Barrington patchwork

Templecombe 8 - Barrington patchwork

It had an amazing array of fabric but I was very restrained, Ellie persuaded me to buy this very cute print featuring a cross stitch alphabet motif which I thought would be good for the pincushions I will be making for craft fairs later in the year.

sampler fabric

sampler fabric

Now back to work for two days until the weekend, got lots of kit to make before the next event in 8 days time!

Thanks as always 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.

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.

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.

There was great excitement in the valley last week (well Sharon, Helen and I were very excited anyway) as we went to Simply Solids to meet designer (and Editor of Quilt Now) Katy Jones, who was launching her line of fabric Priory Square.

It was very interesting to hear Katy talk about the inspiration and the design process.

And of course we bought some of the fabric – Helen and Sharon bought some of each design in the range. Here is Lisa , one of Simply Solid’s owners, who matches beautifully with the fabric she is cutting in her top made from one of the prints.

Solids Launch

Soilids Launch 2

Soilids Launch 3

I bought this half yard of that one which is my favourite – look at those lovely flowers!

Soilids Launch fabric 2

Helen won the raffle as well so got a lovely goodie bag full of fabric and thread.

There was also the great excitement of a big scraps bin – all at £1 for 50g, so I got all of this for £8 :-) Look at the cute prints, I think these are going to be some hexi centres for gifts for little people. I do love those little robots!

Soilids Launch fabric 5

Soilids Launch fabric 6

Soilids Launch fabric 7

Soilids Launch fabric 8

Soilids Launch fabric 4

These are also beautiful fabrics for patchwork, do not have a project in mind for this yet!

Soilids Launch fabric 1

Soilids Launch fabric 3

There is a post on the Simply Solids blog about the event. You can also sign up for their monthly stash club for 2015 which this year has a choice of bundles, this is a really good way to build up your fabric stash and I am using loads from my last subscription.

Soilids Launch 5

Soilids Launch 4

Happy Christmas to one and all, I have finished a sewing gift late last night which I will post about soon and am still working on some things – better late than never!

Thanks for visiting and have a lovely couple of days.

I am having a very festive weekend, the last bits of decorating have been done and last night was the Marsden lights switch on so the village now looks very pretty.

Our local Morris dancers and fire jugglers were out too so that was very nice. Along with a glass of mulled wine and a mice pie it was a lovely couple of hours.

It is attempting to snow today as well but it is mainly slushy hail at the moment, hope things don’t get too bad, my Mum and Aunt are flying in from Spain today as sadly we have a family funeral to go to tomorrow so the last thing we need is bad weather!

My tree is up and it is not only a Christmas tree but a memory tree, as few years ago I got rid of all the mass-produced baubles.

Xmas tree

Now I only have ones that I have made (which remind me of many happy hours of stitching) and special ones bought mainly on holidays or hand-made from other craft fairs.

This year’s hand-made by me have been added ,one flower and one hexagon so far, maybe more to come if I have time.

Xmas tree ornie 2

Xmas tree ornie 3

And here are the special ones both from Bavaria, our visit to Rothenburg ob der Tauber  where we found that amazing Christmas shop.

Xmas tree and ornies

Xmas tree ornie 4

I have also made a few more Christmas flowers for friends.

Xmas tree ornies- flowers

I am getting on well with the bee quilt, here is my inspiration. Details of the source in this post.

Vintage fabric bee quilt

And here is the progress so far, really enjoying doing this, am limiting myself to seven hexagons for this one due to lack of time and it will be appliqued to a cushion cover.

bee quilt progress

bee quilt progress 2

bee quilt progress 3

bee quilt progress 4

bee quilt progress 5

All of this is from my stock of vintage linen, embroidery, lace and crochet with added beads and maybe some embroidered flowers if I have time.

Hope you have had a good week, don’t forget to like my giveaway post from last week as I will picking a winner on Friday 12th Dec.

Thanks for visiting.

A few years ago at Harrogate I saw some really stunning, original embroidery in the graduate showcase and was really pleased to see the work of Caren Garfen back again, this time with her own exhibition.

Caren’s work is called ‘She was cooking something up’ and is based around a kitchen installation. It takes the theme of women’s lives and their relationship with food, dieting and body image. Not only is it technically amazing, all of this is hand stitching on screen printed backgrounds, but so creative and powerful.

Apologies as my images are all a bit yellow due to the show lighting.

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 2

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 3

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 4

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 5

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 6

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 7

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 8

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Caren and tell her how much I loved her work.

There are some more detailed pictures (in better light) at this show link.

Her website  also gives more details of her work and there is a really interesting interview with Caren at this link on the Textile Artist web site. I particularly like the way her work links modern stitching with the history of women’s work and needlework.

As someone who is really interested in the history of needlework it is fascinating the way that women’s lives were often influenced heavily by their skills with a needle in terms of employment, readiness for marriage, social activities etc and this work makes us think through stitching about our lives and current pressures on them.

No longer do we have to be proficient needlewomen to clothe our families, or ‘make do and mend’ to help the war effort, or have 12 quilt tops ready before we get married but for many of us needlecrafts and knitting are still very central to our lives.

It always fascinates me as someone who has crafted all her life that knitting, quilting, embroidery and sewing are now popular like never before (and often on prime time TV), not because we have to do it but because we want to do it and the ‘handmade home’ is now once again valued over mass production.

The fact that the internet (the original idea of linking computers was to protect data in the event of war) is such as resource for us all (not just women but mainly women) to share ideas, encourage each other and to often enable us to sell our work is fantastic.

My life would definitely by so much poorer without my bloggy  ‘imaginary friends’ as my kids call them. So on that note thanks for visiting and have a nice week ahead!

How I love Saturdays :-) back to back cups of tea and a bit of blogging to share with you the joy that was Harrogate Knitting and Stitching, followed by more actual stitching.

And tomorrow will be more of the same! Ellie and Kerry have gone to Harrogate today and I am sure they will have a fab time as well.

I have not visited for a few years, partly due to not actually needing any more fabric (probably ever) but definitely being good in the run up to moving house and trying to use up what I have got in the last two years.

However this year Sharon and Helen from knitting group also wanted to go.We had a lovely day and also helped with restraining each other’s spending which was soooo hard.

It was fun to shop with people who have very different tastes.I am so drawn to anything medieval whereas Helen loves flowery prints and Sharon bought bright solids for her latest art gallery bunting.

The exhibition halls were full and there was much more gorgeous fabric than in previous years, as well as the lovely wool and stitching stalls and the exhibitions itself.

Our first purchases were actually from Simply Solids (got to support our local business) where I bought some mini charm packs similar to those I got from them on their opening day.

Then I found some fat quarters of the Moda Printemps that I had used from one of those mini charms packs for the hexagons so bought a couple of these to use as backing.

They are going to become toilet bags this afternoon for Christmas presents and will look lovely with some co-ordinating solids – such pretty designs!

Harrogate 2014 hexis backing fabric

As always Sue from Springwood House Designs had some beautiful Robert Kaufman Christmas fabrics so I bought these to add to the stash plus the sliver one for flower brooch making.

Harrogate 2014 Xmas fabric

Harrogate 2014 Xmas fabric 2

I was also very tempted by a wonderful Robert Kaufman tree panel and after seeing it on a few stalls finally gave in and bought one.

Apologies for the creases but you can see from the detail photos what a wonderful piece it is – more like a work of art than just fabric.

Harrogate 2014 tree panel

Harrogate 2014 tree panel

Harrogate 2014 tree panel detail 2

Harrogate 2014 tree panel detail 3

Harrogate 2014 tree panel detail 4

This will not be finished for this year, it needs lots of time lavished on it – hand quilting and maybe some seed beads as well.

I also picked up some bargain back issues of a few magazines, I do love reading craft mags even if I will never have time to make any of the things in them!

Harrogate 2014 magazines

Also came across a bargain bin for fabric on one of the stalls – most of these were £1 each :-) I am trying to break away from just medieval and could not resist the bright elephant print second from right.

Harrogate 2014 bargain bin fabric

The exhibitions are always a delight – these pictures were from the graduate showcases – the first knitter is a Huddersfield student which is very nice to see.

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 1

I loved this Hobbit themed set – look at Smaug the dragon!

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 2

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 3

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 5 dragon

And these would make amazing gifts for dog owners.

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 4 dogs

I have some more work to show you but will do that in another post as this one is getting a bit long!

Hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour and thanks for visiting. Now off to use up some of this stuff lol!

How did I get to this ripe old age without discovering the joys of hexis or mini charm packs?

I suppose previously I thought that I had enough fabric to play with and didn’t need to buy themed collections but since I discovered the joys of English paper piecing (and my addiction to hexagons) they have come in really useful being just the right size for the creation of endless hexi flowers.

I have put them to good use though. I could cheerfully just sit here making hexi flowers and watching Netflix while it rains but feel I need to be purposeful in what I do ;-)

So I have made a couple of aprons as Christmas gifts with the mini charm packs I bought from The Quilt Cabin in Hebden Bridge.

hexis heaven

hexis apron 2

I added little patched pockets as a contrast to the hexagons.

hexis apron pocket close up 1

hexis apron close up 2

hexis apron close up 1

hexis close up 3

These will go with some mini baking sets that I discovered on that trip as well. They are for the smaller cousins in the family (previous recipients of rabbits).

I have made lots of flowers out of a Moda mini charm pack from Simply Solids.

This is from the Moda  Printemps fabric range which is lovely and very good value at £4 per pack.

hexis Printemps set close up 1

hexis Printemps set close up 2

That has made all these and enough for one other that I need to add some of my solid stash to. I think these will be turned into make-up bags for other Christmas presents.

hexis Printemps set

I have also been using the mini charm packs for patchwork to make a wash bag for another relative. I used up most of the squares in this pack but added some plain ones from stash rather than the flower patterned ones as I wanted to personalise the bag.

Elan's patchwork bag charm pack

Elan's patchwork bag

Elan's patchwork bag 2

Elan has an Israeli name and so does not get much personalised stuff so thought I would try out my applique skills. Since I couldn’t find any letters the right size I also drew these myself and am pleased with the way they have turned out. Just need to line the bag and add the drawstring this evening.

Elan's patchwork bag 3

Elan's patchwork bag 4

All of the above flowers have been made with 1 inch hexis but I am also doing some more work with the tiny 1 cm ones. This is from stash fabric and will be a pincushion – am intending to make a matching needlebook, again for a Christmas present.

hexis small aqua

Since this is my year of patchwork and quilting I am going to spend a lot of my time thinking of ways to use up the hexis. Thankfully I have Pinterest and the whole of the world-wide web to help me ;-)

I may just buy a few more charm packs at my visit to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show – which is exactly a month today !!!!! Not that I am at all excited.

Hope you are all well and happy and have had a good weekend, I am off to Spain on Friday so will be back in a couple of weeks. Take care and thanks for visiting.

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