A walk in the woods and some quilting

I have had a lovely weekend away at Centerparks in Sherwood Forest with my very special friends. There were 8 of us that went away – all women I originally met about 17 years ago at the local toddler group. We left behind 21 children between us (though technically 4 of those have already left us – being already at University!) and headed off for our now annual girlie weekend away.

We started this tradition about 13 years ago with a trip to Filey where we stayed in Belinda’s Auntie Brenda’s caravan. A couple of years later we graduated to Centerparks and have spent many a happy weekend at both the Cumbria and Sherwood ones. This weekend away was a very special one as it was Belinda’s 50th birthday celebration so we treated ourselves to a very nice luxury lodge complete with en-suite bathrooms, games room with pool table and private sauna! Here are a few pics of the luxury.

The lounge
The lounge with one of the 6 TVs in the lodge - one in each room as well as widescreen with PS2 in the games room!
Lounge 2
the other end of the lounge - private patio leading to sauna - this also had a fab bar-b-que which sadly we did not use
Mine and Maggie's luxury bedroom with complimentary towels and ensuite with power shower
The lodge we stayed in is in the middle of this pic
We didn't actually watch any of the 6 tvs - watching these guys and the pigeons feeding on the sunflower seeds we put out was much more entertaining

We did not do loads of activities as we spent lots of time reading magazines. eating lovely food, drinking wine and laughing but we did manage a couple of saunas, walks in the woods, swims, visits to the jacuzzi , feeding the ducks and swans and a little (and quite muddy!) bike ride.  The place was all decorated for Xmas and here are some of the girls visiting Santa’s reindeer.

Julie, Maggie, Val and Therese have all been very good this year so are hoping for lots of presents from these guys

We also had a little celebration of Belinda’s birthday – she also has a party with friends and family planned for next weekend which we will all be at – but here she is blowing out the candles on her cake . I made a chocolate fudge cake with pink icing – only to discover the she does not like chocolate cake! Jacob has kindly volunteered to eat what is left!

Belinda's cake
Happy 50th birthday Belinda!

I managed to get a bit of knitting and stitching done as well and spent quite a bit of time talking to Anita about quilting. She has recently set up her own business doing quilting of other people’s pieced work as she now owns a long armed quilting machine so we spent all of the journey to Centerparks discussing her flourishing business and ideas for my future one. She had also brought along a project – a very unusual applique tree. You really must go and have a look at the designer’s site – is is fab!

Anita's tree quilt
Quilt pattern
The pattern - a Lilley Pilley design

These women are very, very important to me – I met them all by chance as I knew few people with a baby when Ellie was little so rang the local council to ask about toddler groups in the area, walked up to the local one and met Belinda and Val. I met Maggie, Anita and Judith a couple of years later as they had babies and joined the group and Julie and Therese as they into moved to the area.

We have supported each other through pregnancy and birth, raising toddlers and teenagers, career breaks and career changes , major illnesses and operations of ourselves and loved ones and relationship woes. It was particularly special that Anita was there as 8 years ago she moved to Australia and we have only seen her a few times since. They are a fantastic bunch of people who enrich my life, make me laugh till I cry and will always be there for me – I am very proud to be able to call them my friends.

I will be back later this week with more pics from the Knitting and Stitching Show – thanks for visiting and happy stitching!

My name is Alison and I’m a Christmas fabric addict!

Well sorry for the lack of posts recently – been very busy with work and have been away the last two weekends so have not been in regular posting routine. Lots of stitchy goodness to catch up with including the wonderful Knitting and Stitching Show last week at Harrogate.

34 of us went from our Embroiderers’ Guild club on a coach and had a wonderful day out. And yes I did succumb to the lure of Christmas stash even though I do have just a little bit of fabric already!

Christmas stash
Who could resist - so pretty!

 I also bought some more bits to go on Xmas baubles and some more cute little charms to go on my stitched gifts and exchanges. My justification is that though I have almost finished ornies for this year I have to start next year in about Sept and that is well before the next Harrogate show so I really needed to buy it now!

The two polystyrene cones at the back are a new idea from Sue Schofield of Springwood House designs – the very talented lady who sells the patterns and supplies for the baubles and cones I make. These she turns into Xmas trees using the same ribbon folding technique as for the pine cones. The instructions come from her new book  Fun with Ribbons.  I may just have time to try these for this year – we shall see. I had a very nice chat with her and told her all about the fundraising for Nepal I had been doing.

In the middle of the pic above are 3 very cute little knitted puds which are covering Ferrero Rocher chocs – I thought these would make a lovely table centre for Xmas lunch.

Xmas puds
How cute!

It was once again a feast of textiles with some of my favourite designers and suppliers there. I once again really enjoyed looking at Sue Hawkins, Jane Greenoff of the Cross Stitch Guild, The Historical Sampler Company and The Viking Loom to name but a few of the wonderful stalls with kits.

I am adding these people to my blog roll so that there can be permanent links as I know that lots of people access this blog looking for needlework info and these designers offer fabulous products to get started with historical stitching.

Have loads of other pics of the exhibitions at the show so will save those for another post. They were of course brilliant and once again made me want to give up the day job and be creative full time – or go and do a degree in embroidery and textiles like all those lucky students at the show. One day when the kids are through college maybe!

Also was able to give Barbara her blogaversary giveaway goodies – three ornaments with a holly theme and some Silk Mill threads in flower colours as I know she loves stitching bright flowers.

Barbara's ornies
Barbara's ornies
Silk Mill threads
Silk Mill threads in very pretty colours

I really love using Silk Mill  threads and despite having loads of Anchor and DMC in my stash I very rarely use anything else these days. They are so smooth to stitch with and so beautiful when finished and in so many colours – go check out their web site!  Am just about to go there now to stock up on more greens for ornies as have run out of a particular shade.

Enjoy your stitching – thanks for visiting!

Travels round my internet

I just love the internet! When it was first invented I can remember saying that I didn’t really see the point and didn’t think I would use it – how wrong I was! I just love discovering new blogs and interesting sites and thought that I would share a couple of my new treasures with you today.

I found this first one in an old article from the Guardian Online Life and Style section about the rise of new domesticity – how baking cakes and knitting has become trendy amongst the ‘younger generation’. Personally I have always done these things but then I had a traditional girls only grammar school upbringing and could do five kinds of pastry by the time I was 15 so I think it is great that people are enjoying making and creating things whatever their age.

The blog is called Yarnstorm  and is run by a multitalented lady called Jane Brocket who does all manner of household crafts and has some fab pics on the site – lots of lovely garden pics which I really like as well as all the crafts.She has also published a few books and one in particular will have to go on my wish list – Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer – a collection of recipes taken from childrens’  books of the sort I used to love reading . I am currently watching Little House on the Prairie on DVD and am having huge nostalgia moments for all those wonderful books I read – next I will go and find Susannah of the Mounties!

Most of the books I loved as a child were about adventures and people living or visiting  quite remote places and I am sure these very heavily influenced me to want to travel.

It was the description of one of her visits to Kew that led me to look at a link she had to a botanical artist – an amazingly talented woman called Susannah Blaxhill. I hope that Susannah will excuse me using one of her pics but I just had to share with you some of her work. In keeping with the unofficial ‘theme of the month’  this is one of Susannah’s illustrations of some pumpkins from her web site. Go and visit and marvel at the detail. These are amazing works of art and I am going to add a book of her illustrations to my wish list.

Pumpkin illustration
Susannah Blaxill's amazing pumpkin picture

I have a busy week coming up with work but hope to have finished all of my Xmas ornaments by the end of it. I have done very little the last few days but stitch as have had the tail end of horrible flu so have got loads finished off.

Thanks for visiting and I will be back soon.

Needlecase finish and a giveaway winner

Have not been very busy the last couple of days textile wise as am still feeling rough from flu so have just been finishing off some items – one of which is an Xmas ornie for my ASOE  partner which I cannot show until I have posted it later this month.

The other finish is a little needlecase for a friend from Knit and Natter. I used the same set of patterns from New Stitches magazine that I used for the card for Stefon’s Mum a couple of weeks ago – just did a different flower this time again in blackwork on some of my sparkly aida fabric. This fabric has a gold fleck woven into it and is part of a stash from one of the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Shows  a couple of years ago.

Blackwork flower design in black DMC and gold metallic thread with gold seed beads

I finished off the needlecase by lining it with gold silk and putting a thin layer of wadding in between with ribbon to fasten.

Needlecase 2
Silk lining and gold ribbon

Sorry that I did not post the giveaway winner last night but I did the draw from all the comments and the winner is Barbara. Barbara is a very talented textile artist (no blog unfortunately so that you can see her work) and does the most amazing crazy patchwork tea cosies. So I will be sending a little gift package to Barbara of stitchy things very soon. Thank you very much to everyone else who commented as well and said such nice things about my blog!

Am hoping to get a load of stitched Xmas ornies finished this week – have the backing, stuffing  and ribbons to do on the things that I have been doing bit by bit all year. Then I can start on a couple of new Xmas gifts.

Crazy patchwork Xmas tree ornament

One of the things that I really wanted to do from my Creative Textiles class was to be able to do things without patterns that were just truly creative and I am pleased to say that today I have been doing just that. I have previously done some crazy patchwork when I made a bag for my Mum for her birthday earlier this year but that was still a very planned project where I did buy many of the items rather than just have them to hand.

I have been making Xmas ornies as you know and have been saving all of the small fabric scraps with a view to making something with them.

A selection of left over scraps

Every year I buy some mini poinsettias to decorate the house and so have been left with very pretty little pots when the plants die.

My little golden plant pots

I had seen on someone’s blog a while ago (I forget who) little fabric trees so decided today to combine the idea of crazy patchwork that we have been looking at in the Creative Textiles class with my little pots to make some table decorations for Xmas.

First I made a tree template by drawing round a plate on brown paper then wrapping this on itself to make a cone shape and cutting the excess paper to give me a pattern. I then cut this shape out of some spare red fabric I had.

Xmas tree 1
The tree template cut out in red fabric

I then ironed the same shaped piece of bondaweb onto the fabric.

Xmas tree 2
The bondaweb layer

Once I had peeled off the backing paper I then laid my fabric scraps on top of the bondaweb then when complete ironed the whole thing.

Xmas tree 3
Scraps on top of the bondaweb

This makes them stick to the bondaweb apart from a few bits where they overlap but gives you a robust enough fabric sandwich to cut off the excess.

Xmas tree 4
The trimmed piece

I then machined the pice to cover the joins – I have a very basic sewing machine that jams a lot so the stitching is not perfect and I had to go over each seam a couple of times to even up the stitching. I used the zig zag stitch as it was the best looking stitch for the job. I was tempted to hand embroider these this being my preferred technique but am trying to expand my repertoire so did use the machine though did only get one tree stitched due to jamming! The other one will be finished at a later date!

Xmas tree 6
The zig zag stitching along the seams

Then I folded the right sides together and stitched the seam by hand as the fabric was a bit thick to go through my temperamental machine!

Xmas tree 7
The side seam of the tree

I then turned it right side out and voila!

Xmas tree 8
The completed tree shape

I had originally planned to stuff the tree with wadding and sew a felt circle onto the bottom but once I had sewn it to this stage realised that it was stiff enough with the two layers of fabric and bondaweb to stand on its own so just trimmed the bottom with some gold braid from my stash and then added one of my little brass charms sewn to the top.

Xmas tree 8
The finished tree!

I am very, very pleased with this – I do need to buy some florists’  foam to put in the base of the pot as at the moment this is held up by a pencil stuck in blu tak but this is an orginal idea made by me which has not cost anything at all as it has all come from my stash!

I am going to take it to class tomorrow to show it off.