The art of fabric management

I am a great believer in buying it when you see it. This is a philosophy that holds true for most of my purchases in life but especially for fabric. This week was of course the long-awaited Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show which I visited with three friends. I made a few (ahem!) purchases – mainly of Xmas fabric again – it is just this time of year, they are all out there and so lovely you just have to.

I think if you like it you should buy it and then you can later think about what you might do with it. I do buy some things with a project in mind – mainly my wool but most of my fabric is bought because I really like it and then later it finds its way into a project – such as my friend’s sewing box a couple of weeks ago.

These are this year’s purchases –

Harrogate shopping 1
Medieval style fabric fat quarters from Sue Schofield of Springwood House Designs

Did not find the Florentine fabric that I used for my friend’s sewing box but these are other fabrics from the same designer Robert Kaufman available from the lovely Sue at Springwood House Designs.

Here is a close up of the red – I can see this coming in handy for lots of projects.

Harrogate shopping 4
It is actually an Xmas fabric but I think it looks very medieval

Also bought some more lovely ribbons from Sue and other suppliers for my baubles and pine cones.

Harrogate shopping 6
Especially like the ones with the stars on at the outer edges of this pic

There were also a few bits of very traditional Xmas fabric bought – these will not be used this year but will be next.

Harrogate shopping 2
These were all from Exmoor Fabrics


Harrogate shopping 3
And these from many other lovely stalls

There were so many lovely things – next year I am definitely going to go for two days – one is not nearly enough as we only got to whizz round the exhibition bits where all the students’ work is and I love that.

Lovely daughter Ellie has been home for the weekend and she has been helping my get ready for my Xmas Craft Fair at Oakwell Hall  next weekend. I am very excited about this – my first real venture with my own designs!

Here are another batch of my tree ornies – I have been sewing the braid on these this evening.

More Xmas ornies
Xmas trees or festive hats for gnomes!

I have also made a new batch of Xmas fabric gift bags – thanks to Ellie for sewing on all the ties – but the light was too dim when we finished to take a pic of these so that will have to wait till later.

So a very lovely weekend and lots more lovely fabric to use!

Thanks for visiting.

Simple things

I have been having a relatively quiet week enjoying the simple things in life as my back has still been a bit sore. Have enjoyed long soaks in a nice hot bubble bath and the relief of getting home after a day’s teaching to lie on the sofa with my knitting. My lovely students bought me a big bunch of flowers as a get well present – aren’t they kind?

Especially welcome as they are so bright - a contrast to the dull weather

I have taken delivery of a new edition of one of my recent magazine subscriptions this week so I thought I would share this with you. The magazine is called Piecework  and it comes from the USA. I subscribed a few months ago as I liked the fact that the magazine is a blend of the history of all sorts of crafts and ideas for making new items.

Piecework magazine cover 1
The Nov/Dec issue

Each magazine contains articles and then a project and covers embroidery, knitting, crochet, weaving etc so is perfect for me. I probably won’t get around to making any of the projects anytime soon (due to life interrupting the serious business of playing with textiles!) but love reading them. My favourite from this issue was the article on one woman’s grandmother’s crocheted pillow edgings.

Piecework article 1
The work of Mary Rebecca Spagnola who died in 1944

As regular readers know I  love the social history behind textiles and this was a really interesting article with a crochet pattern to go with it – I wish I could crochet but even if I could I think this would be beyond me!

Piecework article 2
A crocheted fan edging for a pillow

Last edition was all about the links between literature and textiles and include an article on one of my favourite subjects. I have been re-watching Little House on the Prairie and reading lots about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life after the books ended and there was an article about her daughter Rose Wilder Lane.

Piecework magazine 2
The literature issue


Piecework  article 2
Rose Wilder Lane article

My friend Kath lent me two books about Rose’s childhood which I read on my recent holiday in Spain. She had a very similar upbringing to her mother in small rural communities but ended up becoming a journalist and travelling all over the world and writing about women’s needlework as well as travel and  industrial change. It was she who encouraged her mother to write all the Little House books. I find their stories fascinating as a record of how the roles of women changed so much in that era. I have one of Rose’s books on my wish list for Xmas – the ‘Women’s Day Book of American Needlework’  and if no-one buys it for me I will treat myself in Jan!

I am getting on well with my quilted Xmas wall hanging and my lace pattern scarf – no finishes to show you yet but they will be done soon! The lace scarf is a real labour of love as it has a 12 row pattern which takes lots of concentration but I am nearly there!

I do have a pic of the latest baby cardigan in Sublime with its recipient. Here is Anna – Mae with her parcel and wearing the cardigan – doesn’t she look lovely! I am so glad that it fits.

Anna Mae 2
She is now nearly 18 months old - isn't she adorable!

Well I am going to be very busy this week with work but am really looking forward to my trip to the Harrogate Knitting and Stiching Show at the end of the week – I have my shopping list and there may well be Xmas fabric on it (as well as lots of stuff to make lovely quilts after Xmas – have been browsing the Makower  site for ideas!)

Thanks for visiting.

Gift for a friend

It is my lovely friend Taru’s birthday – she of the Marsden Jazz Festival and many other projects. I didn’t know what to get her and finally decided on a stitched gift. Taru doesn’t embroider but I reckon everyone has to mend at some point or another so thought I would make her a little box of sewing tools.

Top of the box
The beautiful fabric is called Florentine
Box side
I think there is only one linen colour but lots of lovely jewel like satin colours available for the box

The box comes from the Viking Loom in York and they have an online order service through their catalogue . The boxes come in linen or satin in various colours, sizes and shapes (including a heart shaped one) and have removable padded lids and lid inserts which you can cover with stitching or fabric. Another good source of containers for stitching gifts is Sew and So who sell the Framecraft metal and ceramic trinket boxes with padded lids that I have used in other projects.

For both lid and insert I cut an oval of fabric, stitched it securely to the lid inserts’  lining fabric and used double-sided tape to secure back to the box. This means that both top of lid and the insert can be used as pin cushions making them ideal stitching gifts. I picked up this fabric at the Harrogate event last year I think, was attracted by its medieval patterns and it has sat in my stash ever since waiting for a suitable project. At some point later,  I forget from where, (so much fabric buying happens in my life!)  I found the same print in a different colourway with just gold which is what I have used for the inside of the lid. The fabric is by a supplier called Robert Kaufman and I have just discovered that they have a website, that could be damaging to the purse! I can’t find this fabric listed but they may still sell it and they also have lots of free quilt patterns!

Box lid
The inside insert acts as a pincushion

Inside the box is a pair of scissors with a scissor keep attached and a needlebook. The scissors I got from the Harrogate event last year again – I usually buy several pairs when I go as they make excellent gifts and buying them in bulk at the shows you get a special price which makes them about a quarter of the cost.

Inside box
There is enough room left to add some cotton for basic repairs

For the scissor keep I did my usual design with a slight alteration to the braid – this particular braid really frays so rather than trying to sew it up to stop it fraying I left two long ends and made tassels which seemed to work better. The ‘T’  initial is from a Celtic alphabet set that I printed from the internet some time ago – sorry due to all the technical issues I have had with PCs recently (solved thanks to lovely daughter’s old laptop) I don’t have the details of where it came from.

Front of scissor keep
This was a very quick and easy stitch - done in Silk Mill thread on evenweave

I made the needlebook by using the two fabrics and putting  a piece of wadding in between so that you have a place to put the needles – I prefer that to putting flannel or felt in as you can see the lining fabric. The back of the scissor keep is the Florentine fabric again.

Back of keep and needlebook
The needlebook has ribbon ties
Inside needlebook
The needlebook lining

I really enjoyed making this and I hope she likes it – and all of this was from my stash – just shows the value of buying things you might need one day! 

Thanks for visiting.

And talented visitors!

I had a comment on the last post about my talented friends from someone whose name seemed familiar to me and when I looked at her blog I realised that she runs a business designing and selling miniature embroidery kits for dolls’ houses and some years ago I bought one of her kits for Ellie’s dolls’ house.

Sadly I didn’t take any pics of all the stuff I made for the house which has now found a new home with the neighbours who have seven girls so it should get a lot of use! Ellie and I had great fun over a number of years buying and making all the things for the house and I made quite a few miniature embroidered things such as rugs and cushions as well as some bedding.

My visitor is called Janet Granger and she has a blog  and a website Janet Granger Designs  where she sells her kits and charts. I hope she won’t mind me sharing a pic of some of the things she does with you – I love these little bolster cushions – they are so cute!

Janet Granger Bolsters
Pic from Janet's blog of her latest bolster designs

She has all sorts of wonderful things like rugs, cushions, tea cosies, bell pulls,  chair seats etc and loads of coordinating sets  in 1/12 scale. Do go and have a  look at all the prettiness!

I very much admire people who are creative as I feel I really struggle with the original ideas bit – I can put things together and think I have a good eye for colour and co-ordination etc. but don’t ever do very much that is original. However I am working on this. Doing things like the textile course I did last year helped and I am hoping to do some City and Guilds courses in future years that will stimulate me more I am sure.

I am still cracking on with my little business venture , making ornies for the Oakwell Hall  Craft event on the 5th Dec . I have been putting together more of the kits for my little Xmas trees today as I have finished all of the ones I am going to make up. We will see how they sell and if successful I may look at doing more fairs next year – there are lots around here and I can quite happily make ornies all year round to build up stock in time!

I have also been making more of the Sue Schofield  Springwood House Designs  baubles and cones that I use to raise funds for the school in Nepal. These are the ones that Ellie and I finished last week. They just need the ribbons putting onto the top of the cones but I need to go and buy some more large pins from Sue who will be at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show the week after next.

New Xmas ornies 1
A little forest of pine cones


New Xmas ornies 2
And a trio of pretty baubles


I have also ben re-making some of my own ornies so that they co-ordinate better as they have tended to be developed randomly over the years so I am now trying to tie them all to the same colours. Really would like to keep all the ones I make and have them everywhere but the children already seem to the think that the house is over decorated at Xmas – there is of course no such thing as too much Xmas fabric loveliness!

I have been busy on the knitting front as well – am halfway through the lace pattern scarf and did have an attempt at sock knitting on four double-pointed needles this week ably assisted by my lovely friend Judy who came round for a masterclass. Sadly I did not get it quite right and ended up with a very mysterious loop however did get the hang of using four needles which at one point did seem a bit like trying to knit with spaghetti so will attempt those again.

Have also been making a stitched gift for a friend – finished it too late to take decent pics tonight but will do that tomorrow before I go to see her -am off to my lovely Marsden for her birthday treat!

Thanks for visiting.

Talented friends

As you know I have very, very many talented friends and I just wanted to share with you some recent pics of their work that they have posted courtesy of their Facebook profiles – I do hope they don’t mind me sharing their skills with my blog readers.

The first is my lovely friend Kat who as you know does medieval  re-enactment and I have posted before about her costumes and her business Kat’s Hats . Well she also does Tudor re-enactment and these costumes are even more wonderful than her others due to the level of detail and complexity in them. This pic was taken recently at an event at Buckland Abbey with her Tudor group.

kat and granny - Buckland
Kat, her beautiful daughter Isabella and her granny

What amazes me about this pic is that it looks like a scene from the Tudors (love those series – have all on DVD) but all of these costumes were made by Kat.

I have also mentioned Bucket before but have never had any really close up pics of his embroidery to show you. Bucket is one of the rare men who embroider and he along with Kat does many different periods of re-enactment. Bucket’s partner (also called Cat!) recently posted this on Facebook which is his work in progress on an 18th century waistcoat – up to the moment the work has taken 245 hours and counting!

Bucket's embroidery
Bucket's embroidery

And here is the man himself with his work.

Bucket's embroidery 2
Here he is with a well earned beer

Fantastic work both of you – I am honoured to know you.

Thanks for visiting.

Autumn exchange pieces

Everything has now been sent and received in the two Autumn exchanges I have participated in so I can now reveal all the stitchy loveliness.

Firstly I will show you the pieces that I stitched – both similar designs but I did experiment with two new finishes.

Both of these are from JBW Designs,  one of my current favourites – this ornie went to Karrie in Australia.

Autumn exchange - hanging pillow
JBW A Very Merry Autumn

I made this up as a little hanging pillow adapting a design I saw on a blog somewhere.

The second was an adaptation of another pumpkin design from them – they have several beautiful ones and this I finished as a bordered pillow.

Autumn exchange JBW pumpkins - Lynn
This was sent to Lynn in the USA

I used the same backing fabric for both pillows – can’t remember where I bought it from but it is a really rich design and complemented the autumn colours well I thought.

Autumn exchange - fabric
Wish I could remember where I bought it as would like to get more!

My piece from Karrie was waiting for me when I got back from Spain which was a lovely surprise. She had wrapped it in the backing fabric which is great as I am always keen to get themed fabric for my exchanges and she had included two gorgeous  little Halloween buttons.

Autumn exchange - Karrie's buttons
How cute!
Autumn exchange Karrie's piece
Karrie's ornie - appropriately displayed with my pine cones

It is a beautifully stitched piece and finished with little french knots all round the edges and on the hanging braid. Wonderful work.

Then yesterday there were more surprises from Kathy in the USA who sent me two parcels as she included some extras as well ( you didn’t need to but she very generously did so I have sent her some little stitchy goodies in return!).

They were also very beautifully wrapped in material and fabric leaves which I have saved for a future project.

Autumn exchange -wrapping
One of the parcels with leaves and the pumpkin pin cushion she added as an extra (real pumpkin stylist's own soup ingredient!)

The extras were some Autumn ribbon, a pumpkin pie recipe tea towel and a cookie tin – with cookie which the children enjoyed!

Autumn exchange 2 goodies
What lovely pressies!

And then there was the actual exchange piece – another beautifully stitched pillow!

Autumn exchange 2 - cushion
Kathy's Autumn cushion

Apologies for all the wavy lines on my pics – this camera is on its way out and I am going to treat myself to a new one after Xmas.

I really love doing exchanges – people are so kind and put so much effort into their stitching and it really brightens my day to get a parcel.

Not much has been going on here this week as I am still suffering with a very bad back so am out of action for anything requiring concentration all that has been achieved is some lying on the sofa making Xmas ornies – covering myself in pretty ribbon has a very therapeutic effect! Will post pics of the latest batch soon.

Thank you for visiting.

Blue skies and bougainvillea

Well I have just returned from a lovely week in Spain where there was lots and lots of the above. The whole country is looking very lovely with lots of greenery and of course lovely weather. We went cycling a few times, paddling in the sea (which was very warm and many of the beaches were crowded), out for some lovely meals and relaxed at the house.

My lovely Mum had arranged for a little present for me as she has had the front of my planting area tiled – doesn’t it look pretty! The cactuses have grown really well in the last couple of years. They are a bit of a job to weed though – thick gloves are needed!

Spain - house cactus
My lovely little house in the morning sun
The bougainvillea at the back of the patio is growing very well – a lovely place to eat breakfast in the mornings thinking how lucky I am to be outside in the warm in October.
Spain - bouganvillia 1
It has grown to twice the size it was in April

 We went to the beach quite a few times and there were the amazing sandcastle builders there again – this one had included real foliage for her trees.

Spain - sandcastle
Another wonderful creation on Guardamar beach

We went to Alicante one evening which gave me chance to visit my favourite fabric shop, Julian Lopez. It has the most amazing range including all the brocades and lace used for the festival costumes. And they had some fab Xmas quilting fabric so I just had to indulge myself!

Spain - fabric shop
Fabric heaven Spanish style
Spain - Xmas fabric
Perfect for another Xmas wall hanging

We had a very nice meal at a little restaurant overlooking the marina in Alicante and there was the most wonderful sunset – they were lots of brilliant ones all week but this was the best picture that I got.

Spain - Alicante sunset
And all the lovely big yachts as well

I had a couple of nice afternoons sitting on the terrace knitting – have made good progress with the scarf to go with the hat and wristwarmers set – the pattern is a lace one from a book I got from the Let’s Knit mag.

Spain - knitting
A more complicated lace pattern for me as this is a 12 row repeat

Not an awful lot has been going on since I arrived back as I have managed to put my back out while away so am in a lot of pain. However I have had an exchange ornie arrive from Australia so will take pics of that and post them and the pics of the one I sent soon.

Thank you for visiting.