The joys of hand quilting

Although I started making quilts to improve my skills at machine sewing I find I do a lot of hand quilting on them which I find very relaxing, especially after a hard day at the chalkface.

The current sofa throw WIP is being hand quilted with metallic thread which is always a bit of a challenge to stitch with as it tends to unravel and break a lot but the results are beautiful.

I am hoping that the wonderful fabric and detail given by the hand quilting on this piece will detract the eye from the very inaccurate piecing.

Sofa throw

You can’t really see it in pic above but the rows do not align well either side of the central panel. At least some of the very out of sync pieces will be hidden on the back of the sofa when it is in place!

Here are some of the squares in detail, the quilting shows up particularly well on the lighter coloured squares. I am planning to add gold seed beads to the centre of the flowers as well.

Sofa throw detail 1

Sofa throw detail 2

Sofa throw detail 3

I think most of the fabric is by Robert Kaufman and I know some is called Holiday Flourish which is from their  Christmas Collection. As always I wish I had bought lots more of it , I do have a few half metres of some of the patterns but not much.

They have some gorgeous fabric in the new collection which is Holiday Flourish 5 – very medieval looking so will be treating myself to some of that at this November’s Knitting and Stitching show.

This is a lovely start of autumn project as it keeps my legs warm while I am doing it. I am planning to make a bigger one in plain fabrics for my other patterned and that will be lovely and toasty to quilt over winter!

I have a busy weekend planned with house stuff and then the planning for the next term starts. It only seems two minutes since the last group left but I am looking forward to welcoming a new group of lovely trainee teachers.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Measuring the bear’s forehead (and other conservation tasks!)

I hope that you are all well and happy. I have some time off this week so am very much enjoying myself – have just done a bit of gardening and am now continuing with my hand quilting.

I had a lovely time visiting Ellie at Powis Castle  this weekend. It was beautiful weather when I got there on Sunday so I took lots and lots of pics. Here is Ellie in her National Trust uniform.

Powis - me Ellie 1

The title of this post comes from one of Ellie’s daily tasks which is to take light readings to check that there is not too much sun coming into the castle which would damage the textiles.

I went round with her when she did this on Sunday and one of the things she has to do is to measure the light on the bearskin rug in one of the rooms. She has a chart on the clipboard in the above photo to record the readings and one of the columns actually says ‘bear’s forehead’.

Years ago when she was very young we went to Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire and as the castle had just been restored the custodian took us on a personal tour and let Ellie unlock the castle with a massive key.

Ellie has always remembered that but these days she has the big keys herself and she gets to lock the beautiful doors like these on the coach house.

Powis - me - Ellie door

She is living in a house in the grounds which overlooks the gardens – here she is on her doorstep and the view of her garden – and the croquet lawn!

Powis - me - Ellie house

Powis - me - Ellie garden

The castle is amazing and full of the most beautiful things – we were not allowed to take photos of the interior as usual and it was too dark to take good pics anyway but you can go and look on Ellie’s  blog where she details all of the wonderful things she does and has lots more pics.

I am so very proud of her, it is a brilliant job and she is having a wonderful time. I went out for a meal with her colleagues and they are all very lovely and Welshpool is a really pretty little town to live in.

Here are a few of my fave close up pics from the garden – taken with my new camera which is working very well (until I break this one of course!) I am going to frame some of these for my new craft room.

Powis - flower 1

Powis - flower 2

Powis - flower 3

Powis - flower 4

And the beautiful gardens – some of the best I have ever seen. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

A Wet Saturday

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.

Blackbird Designs

Hello everyone, hope you are enjoying the last few bits of summer where you are. Weather here has been variable but I am having a lovely time, have had a quiet week at home this week, marking work, reading lots of lovely books and generally mellowing out.

And I have been stitching from my new Blackbird Designs patterns which arrived last week from Thread Bear!

I really love these designs and have been admiring them on lots of other blogs and in exchanges so I have treated myself to one of their books, ‘A Stitcher’s Journey’, and two other patterns. I have started stitching from the book but cannot reveal anything as it will be an exchange but am loving the way the pattern is stitching up.

BB Designs - book cover

BB Designs pattern 1

BB Designs pattern 2

I need to get started on my Xmas stitching as I will be away in China so much this Autumn which will mean little time to stitch. I ordered the Christmas set of stockings, ‘Merry December’, and will make all three for me.

BB Designs 1


The final design is this little Wild Lilies pin keep which will look so good stitched in these lovely Silk Mill lilac threads.

BB Designs Wild Lilies

I bought a little bit of new fabric when I was away last weekend – ned to get more stash for my lovely new craft room and these Cath Kidston lookalike fat quarters will come in handy for something.

Chelt quilt fabric

I have also been doing some quilting on a WIP. A long time ago I started this throw for the lounge.


I have now pieced and backed it, stitched the borders and am hand quilting it, am very pleased with the progress so will take some nice pics to show you soon.

Am off this weekend to visit Ellie at Powis Castle which I am very much looking forward to. It will involve two very long train journeys as well so lots of lovely stitching time! Hopefully the weather will be beautiful and I can take some arty shots of the castle for you.

Thanks again for visiting and see you all soon!

Family History – part 2, the future

Hello everyone

Hope you are all enjoying yourselves. We have been catching up with family this weekend and I thought that I would show you pics of the baby gift that I have been working on for a while which I finished yesterday.

This gift is for the newest member of the family who I mentioned a few weeks ago. She is a very special baby being born just about 100 years after my lovely Nana and she has been named Alice Evelyn after her (my Nana was Evelyn Alice).

I got to give her a cuddle this weekend which was lovely as it was the first time we had met her and her parents loved the little pillow I made for her. The design is one I have made before as a gift for a friend’s baby born last year but I liked it so much I had to stitch it again.

It is by my favourite  JBW Designs from Sew and Sew – can’t remember where I got the buttons from but I think it was at one of the quilting fairs last year.

Alice - pillow

The fabric on the pillow is left over from the baby quilt I made last year and came from Doughty’s – I also have it in dark pink and turquoise.

Meeting Alice this weekend really made me think about what her future will be like, what changes she will see in her lifetime. We spent the weekend back in the town where I grew up and there have been so many changes in just the 11 years since I last visited.

Ellie and I had a little wander round trying to find a fabric shop I remember from when I was little that my Nana used to take me to but sadly it had closed years ago.

I definitely think it was my Nana who instilled my love of textiles, she sewed most of my clothes and was forever buying fabric from that shop and the markets in town so I can blame my stash on genetics!

We did find the fish clock though, this was one of the things that the kids loved when we used to go back to my home town. It is in one of the shopping centres and balls drop down from the top of the clock, mice pop out from the clock face and every hour it used to play, ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’, and bubbles would come out of the fish’s mouth. Ellie was very pleased that it was still there.

fish clock 1

fish clock 2

In other family news lovely son Jake did very well in his results this week  – he got a Merit and two Distinctions in his BTEC in Games Design and we are all very proud of him, he had his university place confirmed a while ago so in a very short time he will be off to have fun doing a degree in Games Design.

However looking on the bright side (though I will miss him of course) I am not losing a son but gaining a craft room! I am planning to turn his old bedroom into a lovely room where my machine will be out permanently, my stash will be neatly displayed on shelves like Hen House and Crazy Mom Quilts and I can indulge in fabric heaven!

I have indulged myself with some new Blackbird Designs patterns from Thread Bear and on the journey this weekend started stitching so will take some pics of the new stuff to post later. Am loving the designs and have finally got to use some more of the Silk Mill stash that I ordered a while ago so am using some of the lovely lilacs!

I am having a quiet night in tonight with a takeaway pizza, an action movie on TV and my stitching – and there will be a little bit of red wine of course. Heaven!

Hope that you have a good week ahead and will post again soon. Thanks for visiting.

I wonder what happened?

I am building up a collection of antique needlework, some I have got via Ebay, others on my travels (like the Chinese embroidery),  partly due to my interest in all forms of historical needlework but also as I feel a need to rescue things sometimes that may have been loved but for many reasons end up discarded.

I have been doing a lot of sorting out and decluttering recently and realised that although I bought this piece a couple of years ago I have never blogged about it.

Needlepoint tray 1

What made me particularly think about what might have happened in both the creation and the subsequent life of this piece of stitching is that I have been doing lots of reading since teaching ended and I have more time.

I have been reading lots of books by Maureen Lee ,who I mentioned in an earlier post, which are set in wartime Liverpool and I wonder if this was to commemorate something.

I have not tried to take it apart to see if there are any details on the back as it is sealed in the frame. It is needlepoint and all of the canvas is covered in tent stitch in a fine wool. It is a small tray about 14 inches by 8 inches.

Needlepoint tray 2


Needlepoint tray 3

I would like to think it was a wedding gift for someone but hope it wasn’t to commemorate something less happy. I would like to imagine it being given to the happy couple who hopefully came through the war and were able to be together like my Nana and Grandad and raise a family.

My lovely Nana died this week after a short illness so I am feeling very sad. Thankfully she was able to come to the UK and see everyone for her 100th birthday which was brilliant.

Whenever I see stitching at museums and in historic houses and pieces like this I so want to know what happened, who made the piece and why, what happened to them after that. There is so much of our little history, our ordinary women’s history lost because it was never recorded which makes me so sad.

My contribution, however small, is to collect and love and cherish and share these things to honour their makers whoever they may be and whatever happened to them.

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

My daughter’s blog

As regular readers know my lovely daughter Ellie has just started a year-long internship with the National Trust at Powis Castle in Wales. She was asked by her boss to write a blog of her adventures this year and I have been meaning to post a link to it for a while.

I have just been reading through her recent posts and I know I am biased being her Mum but it is really good, full of loads of details about her work with such beautiful pics of all the objects.

The blog is called A View from my Attic  – do please go and visit and leave a comment, as you know when starting a new blog it is lovely to make friends!

To tempt you here are a few pics of her walk to work that she sent me recently – she has inherited my love for photography and these are beautiful pics.Can I just say again how really proud I am of her. She worked so hard at Uni and it is so lovely to read about all the exciting things she is doing.

Powis 1

Ellie’s attic bedroom is one of these windows.

Powis 2

Powis 3

Powis 4

The castle in the background – I can’t wait to go and visit!

Powis 5

This is my favourite picture – what a beautiful gate!

I have had to buy a new camera this week, unfortunately the old one could not be mended and I can’t live without one! Will be testing it out this weekend,  not going anywhere sadly but will take some garden pics as the clematis is looking very lovely!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Weekends in fields

Hello there

Hope you are all well and happy. I have just got back from another weekend in a field and am busy today sorting, washing (and drying!) bits of kit and tents.

We have had a lovely time at the Midlands Living History Festival  and as befits a British summer managed to get sunburnt and soaked in the same weekend!Here is a picture of one very soaked and grass-covered medieval boot, off to dry out.

Midfest - boot

Generally though the weather was very good and we had two BBQs and bacon butties for breakfast in the sun both days – I love camping!

We are nearly at the end of the re-enactment season with only 2 more events to go which makes me very sad. I am seriously considering joining another group as well so I can have more fun in a field next year. I may do a different period so I can do some other types of embroidery!

This event was multi period so we got to watch a brilliant dark age battle on both days with lots of Vikings and Saxons from groups such as Vikings of Middle England. The battle was very good – scary to watch as they fight with no helmets and very little armour unlike our medieval guys. The pic below shows them at an earlier event and is one I ‘borrowed’ from the BBC website.

Midfest - vikings

Unfortunately I have managed to break my camera (I am lethal with cameras!) and my spare one would not work either so I have no other pics to show you. It will have to be taken to the menders this week as I am lost without it.

I have got a couple more from last weekend – taken by my lovely friend Wendy who was being our official photographer for the weekend. This one was taken from the top of Ashby Castle tower and shows the camp with our activities. I am bottom right helping with the knighting of the kids after their sword training.

Ashby - show

This is a brilliant shot of the tournament on the Sunday with me in my nun’s costume on the left.The boys’ armour and costumes look great – even in the rain!

Ashby - tourney

I have got a quiet couple of weeks work wise and a weekend at home now so am going to be doing lots of sewing.

Have just made my lovely friend Kerry a chaperon (but forgot to take a picture of it before the camera broke) and have just sent off my Summer Exchange piece so will upload pics of that when it has been delivered.

Still working on a stitched baby gift and might just get around to making that new peasant dress that I have been promising myself for the last few years. I have also treated myself to some Blackbird Designs patterns after seeing so many lovely ones on the Seasonal Exchange blog  so am waiting for those to arrive.

The one compensation about Autumn and Winter is lots of time to stitch as I seem to have done so little just recently. Also I am really looking forward to the start of the new term as I will be going to China with work again twice before Christmas – how exciting!

Take care and have a relaxing week whatever you are doing. Thanks for visiting and see you soon.