Just a little something to brighten my day :-)

Hello everyone

As I told you in the last post I was very good, (well for me!), at Harrogate and only bought a little bit of the gorgeousness that was available.

As always I love seeing the fabric and this year particularly the thread stalls, the colours of the displays are so lovely, little rainbows of stitchy delight.

I had hard time choosing what to buy, I wanted some more threads as I am enjoying my rediscovery of embroidery, thanks to the wonderful designs from Jenny.

I managed to find some more of the Cath Kidston style fabric, not in blue but in a coordinating pink and bought some  Perle threads to go with it.

Harrogate K and S 2015 24

I bought some more embroidery thread from the bargain bin at Stef Francis, all this for £4.

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And look at this beautiful fabric from Higgs and Higgs, bet you can’t guess what I might make with this.

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And I was really pleased to find a stall with 5 fat quarters of one of my favourite Christmas fabrics ever so I bought all of it and a lovely gold print. I still have a couple of the quilted balls to make so this will be very useful.

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I also stocked up on more red and green silk thread, all of the thread came from West End Embroidery, a company I have not seen before and they had a brilliant selection of speciality threads so I have added them to my favourites.

I also bought some more Christmas ribbons from my favourite supplier, The Ribbon Box. Several of these are new designs and all so pretty!

Harrogate K and S 2015 27

And I bought charms, I can’t resist charms and though I was really looking for more keys for my Steampunk outfit came away with these lovely embellishments and some more little charms for stitching gifts.

These were all from a Dutch company called Creatotaal who had an excellent selection.

Harrogate K and S 2015 purchases

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Although I have enjoyed my year of quilting I have a bit of sciatica and that limits the amount of machine stitching I can do but not the hand embroidery, I have spent lots of enjoyable afternoons sat on sofa stitching and watching TV.

I really value this time on my own, many of the blogs I read are written by women with young children who are combining their craft with family life and I remember those days very well.

One of my favourite New Year holidays was when my children were staying with their grandparents and it snowed very heavily, forcing all plans to be cancelled for going out and I sat and stitched and watched films for two whole days.

It was bliss, much as I love my children that amount of, ‘me’, time was so rare then and I can now do that every weekend so I am very lucky 🙂

I think 2016 will be my year of embroidery, I would like to also explore more crewelwork and goldwork as there are some patterns that I have been wanting to work on for a while.

It is also easier on my hands as I am still having some problems with tendonitis and arthritis which limits my knitting, I am falling apart at the moment 😉

I have been particularly interested in the work of two designers, one of whom was exhibiting at Harrogate.

Nicola Jarvis does the most exquisite crewel work designs, some inspired by William and May Morris, many of birds, combining different types of stitching to produce gorgeous and very unusual work such as this blackbird from her website.

Nicola Jarvis - Blackbird

I bought a tea towel featuring some of her designs, am planning to hang it in the craft room as it is far too pretty to wipe things with and would love to work on some of her things next year.

Harrogate K and S 2015 Nicola Jarvis

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Another crewel work designer I love is someone I found through a link from a blog,(miracles of the internet!) an Australian called Anna Scott who does really bright and beautiful interpretations of traditional crewel work flowers.

I am planning to buy one of her designs from her Etsy shop  after Christmas once I have finished the ornament stitching, she does PDF downloads which is very helpful. The only thing is I can’t decide between all the loveliness that is there.

Am very tempted by this one…

Anna Scott Crewel Work 2

Or this one ….

Anna Scott Crewel Work

So many brilliant stitching opportunities, we are so lucky to have all these lovely designers out there and the miracles of the internet to be able to look at their work and buy it!

I am working on the last few of my Jenny of Elefantz Christmas ornaments at the moment and have also been stitching one of her beautiful birds in some of my new thread.

I am combining the thicker Perle thread for the outline with single and double strands of silk for the running stitch and lazy daisies.

This is such peaceful stitching and so fast to complete. I always seem to take ages to do things but her designs are very easy to do and look so pretty.

Jenny Purple bird 1

All good and I am now feeling very happy that my colourful Friday purchases have gone to small businesses and designers and for things that makes people happy more than once, me when I buy it, me when I use it and the recipients of the gifts I make.

Hope that you have a very nice and colourful week ahead whatever you are doing, thanks for visiting and see you soon.

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A Colourful Friday

Hello everyone, hope that you are all ok and enjoying the weekend.

As I don’t enjoy shopping anyway nothing would have induced me to go and join the supposed throngs in Black Friday retail endeavours and I had a far more exciting and colourful trip planned to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show.

Part of the reason for going was to buy things, (of course!), but I was very restrained and stuck to my budget. Will show you my purchases in a later post as I want to share with you the lovely displays in the exhibition sections.

There were the winning quilts from the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, though I had seen some of these before we didn’t know whose were the winning ones at the time as that was not announced until later so here are some of the beautiful ones that won prizes in various categories.

There was a great mix of traditional and art quilts on display.

I love the use of newsprint fabric and flowers on this one, winner of the Contemporary Quilt category by Lesley Brankin.
Harrogate K and S 2015 7

This was one of the most photographed in the exhibition, so sparkly and gorgeous, it was the winner of the Pictorial Quilts category and is by Claudia Pfeil. She has some other amazing pictorial quilts on her website.

Harrogate K and S 2015 5

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This beautiful applique quilt won the Two Person Quilt Category and was made by Alison Wells and Mandy Parks.

Harrogate K and S 2015 4

This was the Traditional Quilts winner by Janette Chilver. The quilting is just amazing.

Harrogate K and S 2015 2

Harrogate K and S Winning Quilts

There was also the SAQA Quilts Food for Thought exhibition with some more amazing examples of machine quilting.

This was one of my favourite fruits when I was in China, love the blacks beads she has used for seeds. This one is by Helena Scheffer.

Harrogate K and S 2015 SAQA Quilts

Harrogate K and S 2015 9

And the level of detail is brilliant on these Pineapple Upside Down Cake by Diane Powers-Harris and the Tomato quilt by Sarah-Anne Smith.

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My friends from the Knitting and Crochet Guild were there as it is based in Huddersfield and they had a beautiful display of vintage accessories and crochet. It gave me some great ideas for bunting!

Harrogate K and S 2015 Guild

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It is another wet and windy day here so an afternoon of stitching on the sofa watching TV seems in order, oh dear what a pity 😉

Have fun, thanks for visiting and see you all soon.

#Making Winter

Hello everyone, once again I am blogging from the comfort of my sofa, under my fleecy blanket watching the rain lash down.

I think it is the tail end of Hurricane Abigail but whatever the reason today is a day to stay in, keep warm and celebrate the positives of this season.

I was left a comment in a previous post about Silverpebble and went to have a look at the blog. It is a gorgeously photographed one and the owner, Emma, makes beautiful silver clay jewellery.

I was particularly interested in her idea of bloggers coming together to celebrate the creativity that being indoors more of the time can inspire.

Winter is a time of cosy homes, candlelight at night and the excuse to eat cake and craft without feeling any guilt for not being out doing something energetic, or mowing the lawn, ( not that I have one anymore thankfully), so I am very happy to celebrate #Making Winter with my fellow bloggers.

Go and have a look at the links on the above post for other ideas of how to combat the winter blues, I really want to crochet some snowflakes like Little Conkers has, and for a very good cause.

If you use Instagram there are pictures there as well with that hashtag.

One of my goals for this winter season is to make more things for me, or specifically for my craft room. I love making things as gifts but my home contains very little of my own work and at the moment the craft room looks so pretty with all the quilt blocks up.

They will soon be gone as they are destined to become lap quilts as Christmas presents, (that is if I can get my new machine to behave as it keeps unthreading itself at the moment 😦  ) so I am working on some things to replace them.

So I have been putting together a little hanging from Jenny of Elefantz’s  sewing themed stitchery. I have used some more of the gorgeous variegated thread from Cottage Garden and plan to add a patchwork border and some hand quilting.

Craft room Elefantz stitching Nov 1

Craft room Elefantz stitching Nov 2

Craft room Elefantz stitching Nov 3

I love looking at other people’s pictures of their craft rooms and have been very inspired by people like Messy Jesse, look at this beautiful stitching space, picture from her blog.

She is also very kindly giving away a free pattern for the Summer Baskets mini quilt in the picture.

Messy Jessy free quilt

I did venture out yesterday to Ikea to get some new storage for the craft room and have been having fun sorting out the space again. Sharon was getting rid of a bookcase so I have now moved all the magazines and quilt books there.

Craft room Nov 2

I found some lovely  coordinating labels at Ikea as well so I know I know which patterns are in which files!

Craft room Nov 3

Craft room Nov 4

I have now got space on the units to use as a fabric cutting and sorting area. I bought more of the fabric storage boxes which fit inside the units yesterday.

It looks a lot prettier and more coordinated than the previous plastic boxes. There is also the added advantage that I can hide my stash, these could all be full of Christmas fabric and no-one would ever know 😉

Craft room Nov update

I also bought some more of the very pretty little metal containers for my tools, these are actually candle holders and plants pots and I think they work very well for organising while looking cute!

Craft room Nov 5

So am looking forward to lots and lots of winter weekends of adding to the craft room walls and trying out new techniques for quilting.

On my list are some Dresden Plate designs, some Farmer’s wife blocks and possibly some of Lori Holt’s work – have been very tempted by both the Farm Girl Vintage work and some of her other designs , look at this one called Sew Day, how perfect would that be in my craft room!

Lori Holt - Sew Day

At this rate I won’t ever want it to be better weather, will be very happy to stay in and craft forever!

Hope you have had a nice weekend and have some lovely things to do with your time, take care, thanks for visiting and see you soon.

Homemade with Heartstrings – Christmas Decorations

Hello again

I was reading Jenny’s blog again recently and was reminded that I wanted to give you all some more ideas for homemade gifts.

ELEFANTZ homemade stitched with heartstrings button

As you know I am a bit of a fan of Christmas fabrics and Christmas ornaments 🙂 and I think there is nothing nicer than a handmade ornament as a gift.

Years ago I used to cross stitch Christmas cards, pre blog so no pictures sadly, and loved doing it. However cards only tend to be used once then put away.

I got the idea for ornaments when my Mum started putting all the old cards out year after year so I thought why don’t I make hanging ornaments instead then they can be re-used.

So here are a selection of patterns and tutorials for your Christmas gifts, some by me others that I have found and love.

I now make at least 15 keepsake ornaments every year and they have become something that people always look forward to getting, it is lovely to go to friends’ houses and see things on their trees that I made years ago that even I have forgotten about.

Quilted Ball Ornaments

These are my 2015 special gifts for my friends from toddler group – 23 years of friendship and still going strong with sons and daughters now all in their 20s!

Quilted bauble

There is a great step-by-step tutorial here  and despite the fact that they look difficult they really aren’t. Great for relaxing in front of the TV as it is very therapeutic and you don’t need any sewing skills. Fabric is pinned onto a polystyrene bauble.

Christmas Stockings

These are ultimate cuteness and come from the lovely Julie of Little Cotton Rabbits. I would say medium level knitting skills and the instructions are brilliant. They are knitted flat and are very quick to do.

Knitted xmas stockings

Suffolk Puff Bauble

Again a great way to relax and you can embellish this with buttons, charms, pins etc as you wish. The base is a polystyrene bauble as with the quilted bauble.Detailed tutorial is here.

Suffolk puff bauble

Hexagon Ornaments

This is one of my designs combining my love of English Paper Piecing and Christmas fabric, I love adding charms and buttons to these.Tutorial on how to make them is here.

Hexi Xmas ornie

Cute embroidered hoops for children

Embroidered Xmas ornaments

I just had to share this one with you, no detailed instructions for this version but they look easy enough to follow from these pictures. There are some wonderful things in this 25 ideas booklet from 36th Avenue blog including these amazing cupcakes!Christmas tree cupcakes

 

Crazy Patchwork Trees and Hearts

I love using up all my scraps so have made some crazy patchwork ornaments over the years, here are some examples of little trees and padded hearts and a step by step tutorial for making the patchwork tree here.

Patchwork Xmas Hearts

Patchwork Xmas Tree

If you want to make the hearts just make a bigger patchwork sheet as below and cut hearts out from it.

Patchwork ornaments

Star Pentagon Ornaments

I have not made these yet but they look beautiful and very simple to do. This Create 4 Fun site contains downloadable PDFs for this and other ornaments.

Star Pentagon Ornament

Small Cross Stitch motifs

This free pattern is for a game but I think they would make lovely ornaments stitched and surrounded by pretty Christmas fabrics.

Small cross stitch motifs

There are lots more links to free cross stitch patterns at this site with a good selection for children’s ornaments.

Redwork Sampler

What could be more festive than redwork? This free sampler pattern from Bronwyn Hayes at Red Brolley    is so lovely and could easily be used for smaller ornaments. There are more redwork Christmas freebies at that site as well.

Bronwen Hayes _Christmasredworkembroiderysampler_1

Happy Christmas ornament making, take care and see you soon. Thanks for visiting.

A prince and a princess

Hello everyone

Hope that you are all having a good week, as I told you in my earlier post we were having graduation this week and there was great excitement as we were joined for it by none other than HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, our new University Chancellor  🙂

I did think that he was probably going to be attending our ceremony as we had all been told to bring our staff photo ID and there were lots of police on campus.We were all very pleased when he arrived.

He was lovely, really friendly and relaxed, taking time to congratulate every one of the students as he shook their hands and my group were really thrilled.

Here he is on stage in the centre of this picture, you will have to believe me when I tell you that I am just out of shot to the left here, have been through every picture from our local paper’s news report and there is not one with me in, lots of all my colleagues but no actual evidence of me!!

Duke of York graduation 1

Here is another picture of him coping with our absolutely wonderful Yorkshire weather with howling gales and sideways rain , even the corporate umbrellas are folding under the strain 🙂

Duke of York graduation 2

So that is the Prince news, the Princess one is that I am very, very pleased to be able to tell you that my lovely daughter Ellie, who secretly is a princess who wishes to live in a Disney castle, has got a new job!

I am so pleased as she has worked really hard to get this promotion with the National Trust and has had a lot of challenges at work this year, including arriving there last week to find water pouring into the Duke’s bedroom and she being the only member of staff on duty!

She is now the Chapel and Collections Steward at Clumber Park in Sherwood, she will be starting her new job at the beginning of December and will be moving house in a couple of weeks to a lovely apartment with 2 bedrooms – so finally she will have space for her own craft room!

One of the things she will be doing is having responsibility for this beautiful chapel, I  said it looks like a fabulous place for a photoshoot of me in medieval kit to which her response was something along the lines of having to be there at least a year before she introduces her mother the mad nun… can’t imagine what she means by that 😉

Clumber Chapel

So two more lovely things in my lovely life, hope you have a great rest of the week 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.

 

The pincushion and thread catcher

Hello, as promised here are the details about the Simply Solids class  last weekend.

I have wanted one of these thread catchers for years, having seen them in magazines and on blogs, so was really pleased when I saw the class advertised.

I would really love to do a City and Guilds Embroidery or Quilting course but sadly can’t find one near me. Instead I have decided to sign up for one off classes to work on specific things when I can.

I did a Gillian Travis one  earlier in the summer which taught me new applique skills and how to free motion quilt. I still need to finish that once these block of the month challenges are done but really enjoyed seeing how other people designed and the inspiration of Gillian’s work.

That is the lovely thing about classes, I could have bought books or patterns that went through the techniques of that applique style and this weekend’s class but it is so much nicer to spend a day with like-minded people learning things face to face.

I got the chance to use up my last few pieces of these fabrics. Here are all the squares laid out for the thread catcher and pincushion sections.

Simply Solids workshop

Simply Solids workshop 2

Am now down to only the tiniest scraps of the patterns for string style pincushions so will have to use something else for the planned sewing machine cover.

There were only two of us in the class, the other person being my lovely friend Helen from knitting which was a very nice surprise. I have not seen here for a while as she has been busy moving house and I have been out of circulation.

Here is her pincushion in progress. The pincushion part is filled with a muslin bag of sand at the end which gives it the weight needed to hang from a sewing desk.

Simply Solids workshop 3

Simply Solids workshop 4

I am very pleased with the result, there are a few bits where the joins are not perfect but it is pretty and very useful. I think I need to make at least two more, one for downstairs and one for my Mum.

They also go very well with my new pincushion and needlebook set, my craftroom will look so co-ordinated!

Simply Solids workshop 5

Here are all our efforts in a row – and one with all the pins in that Lisa, ‘made earlier’, as a demo model. I love the measuring tape fabric that she has lining the demo model.

Simply Solids workshop 6

Justine was also there working on a cushion as a demo for the shop, it is filled with such lovely things, the example quilts they have on the walls are beautiful and it always inspires me to visit, (and to buy fabric but more of that in a later post!)

Here is Justine sewing and Helen diving into the scrap bin!

Simply Solids workshop 7

The pattern for the thread catcher and pincushion is available here as a Kindle download  for £2.24 and there are very detailed instructions at the Simply Solids blog here.

I am counting this as Number 6 on my 2015 Sewing Bucket List challenge – a project made from scraps.

Looking forward to a lovely crafting weekend when I shall be mainly working on more quilt blocks – might even get caught up by the end of Nov, you never know.

Take care and thanks for visiting.