It’s the most wonderful time of the year …..

I have decided that I really do like Spring best out of all of the seasons. I like all the others for different reasons but there is something about the start of warm sunny days after the cold of Winter that makes you very happy! I have had a very lovely weekend and I hope that you have too.

I have been very relaxed this weekend which was wonderful, I had a quiet week at work as I was only in the office for one day after getting back from China on Monday and as I have felt very tired and jet lagged I had not planned anything for this weekend beyond a bit of sorting in the house and garden.

As it has been very good weather I have spent a good few hours in the garden and we had our very first BBQ of the year this evening, in March – a  minor miracle!

As you may remember we had our very last BBQ of the year last October the 1st and it was so lovely this afternoon we thought we would seize the moment. The clocks have gone back as well so we had another hour of daylight so I pottered round the garden a bit more.

BBQ March

I have had to do some major work as well as the general post Winter tidy up as the very high winds in Jan meant we lost quite a lot of the trellis. I had taken half of it down some months ago meaning to replace those panels later but the rest has gone so I took it all down this weekend. Sadly I have lost quite a bit of the lovely clematis and ivy but the good news is that my camellias are blooming for the first time in 5 years!

I think it looks just as nice without the trellis – pity my neighbour’s cat Henry will have nowhere to climb and scare the birds now! I found a lot of pigeon feathers underneath the laurel bush so I think someone met a sticky end in his paws.

Garden March 1

Also took some pics of my lovely Virbunum plant which looks so pretty at this time of year.

Garden March 2

I have also been working on all the Chinese pics so that I can publish the page later on in the week, I took so many pics that I have spent a long time choosing which to use and resizing them.

I am set to have a nice relaxing week at work then I am teaching for a couple of days before we leave for our holiday in Italy! We are off to Lake Como the first week of April, lucky us.

Mum is arriving next weekend and Ellie arrives midweek – just in time for her 21st birthday! How did that happen, my little baby being 21? This is the first of the special birthdays this year as Jake is 18 in mid June, I am 50 at the end of June and Nana is 100 mid July.

I do hope you all have a lovely week ahead with lots of sunshine and nice things, take care and thanks as always for visiting.

It’s a miracle!

October BBQ

Do you see the above picture my dear readers, that was taken in my garden yesterday Saturday October 1st and we were having a BBQ! In Yorkshire, in October!

It is an absolute miracle and I am stunned. We have had an enormous heatwave here in the UK – it has been so so warm so Jake and I decided to make the most of it and BBQ for tea. And afterwards I sat out watching the embers glow, drinking a little red wine with no coat on till 8pm. Oh if only Autumn could always be like this!

I hope you have also noticed the beautifully restored decking – isn’t it nice the way it matches the chairs so well. It had got very scruffy so I found a very nice gardener man to come and pressure wash, sand a re-stain it for me so it is all looking lovely.

 I have spent a few hours today tidying up (what would normally be the putting the garden to bed for the Winter tidy up but who nows it might be the start of the Spring growth season!) It is possible the world has flipped over and we are now having New Zealand’s climate which would be fab (can we flip back before we are officially supposed to have Spring please?)

Jake and I had a very lovely visit yesterday to Stafford for the University Open Day there. We were very impressed, it is a pretty town with a park and canal and a very lovely campus. The course and lecturers were also very good and there was a great welcome from everyone we met. He has to fill in his choices form soon and then fingers crossed he will be offered some places!

I have had a ridiculously busy week again, we had another Marsden Jazz Festival meeting (things are hotting up as the festival is next weekend!), went out for a meal with work friends which was very nice and had the girls round for the evening. And there was work which was very busy but very nice – I am having a lovely time with my new group.

All this of course means very little craft time so apologies for only WIP pictures again. I have finished one of the Little Cotton Rabbits wristwarmers and cast on for the other one last night and am nearly finished with my latest Xmas ornie. I was stitching this on our train journey to and from Stafford which was a very pleasant way to spend a few hours.

This is a pattern from the Christmas 2011 issue of Cross Stitcher magazine, I have stopped buying cross stitch mags generally as I have a few (ahem!) patterns still to do but was very taken by the prospect of more ornies and they had some lovely Scandinavian style ones (and a free ornie kit which I have sent to Ellie).

Cross stitcher Xmas ornie

I am stitching this on very fine count sparkly evenweave (think it is about 28 count) with only one strand of Silk Mill thread and all the backstitching and contrast rows are being done in a dark red sewing cotton it is that small-scale! I am very pleased with it, will change the bottom of the design I think and put another heart in and then make it up as a hanging ornie for the tree.

The images below from the Cross Stitcher web site show the original design made up as a picture and also some very cute little bird ornies which I will also make for my tree.

Xmas ornies cross stitcher

Xmas ornies cross stitcher 2

Well I hope that you all have a lovely week ahead – I am spending the whole of next weekend in Marsden for the Jazz Festival (yippee!!) where I will be running the box office. Hopefully we shall have some lovely weather so if you are in the area do come along, lots of wonderful music and a great time guaranteed!

Thanks very much for visiting.

A Quiet Weekend

Well my planned trip to York did not go ahead as I have been struck down by a very nasty ear infection so have spent the last 3 days in the house trying to get better before my sister, her two kids and small dog arrive to stay tomorrow! I shall have to visit the doc for antibiotics I think as it is not getting much better 😦

I have finished the hemming on the farm quilt and made a little bag for the animals so I have been being productive while laid up. Here are the pockets on the front of the quilt with two of the little animals in that will go into the bag. My idea is that my cousin’s daughter who the present is for will be able to match the animals with the pockets. She is two this week and we will be seeing her at the weekend in Spain.

farm quilt pockets

This is the back of the quilt and a close up of the fabric which has lots of farm words on which she can practise!

farm quilt back

farm quilt backing fabric

The bag was made from fabric scraps and will have a drawstring cord.

Farm quilt bag

I did go out to my brother’s house last night as he and his partner Amanda had invited us round for a meal and they very kindly cooked us delicious food and looked after me so I just had to sit in my chair drinking home-made Cassis and wine (I have also put my back out again somehow!)

They have  a very lovely garden which they are in the process of remodelling (with outdoor BBQ and pizza oven) and Amanda loves garden ornaments as much as I do so here are some shots of her garden – the cat is a present that I bought her a couple of Christmases ago and it holds tea lights.

Ben's garden 1

Ben's garden 2

Ben's garden 3

You can just see Ben sitting in the background of that last pic. They also have an allotment and grow wonderful veg – look at the size of these courgettes! The one on the right is about 14″ long. Amanda very kindly gave me some more of her homemade chutney and jelly to bring home with me as well.

Ben's courgettes

I don’t know if I will be able to do much this coming week as feel pretty awful at the moment, I have been spending most of the weekend sewing up Xmas hearts, have just sent off an exchange to Germany and am halfway through another stitched gift for a friend’s new baby so do have a lot to occupy myself if needed.

I will not be posting now for a couple of weeks as we are off to Spain for a week on Friday. Take care and I will be in touch when I get back.

Thanks for visiting.

July in Yorkshire – and a giveaway winner!

Hello there

You may remember a post a while back – April I think when I commented that it was very warm and sunny – warmer than we usually get in April in Yorkshire or even July in Yorkshire, well this was one of those weekends that proved my point.It has been very, very wet for virtually all the weekend. So no garden fettling but I did manage to get a pic of my lovely new clematis blooms during a bit of sun yesterday.

clematis - july

Poor Ellie has been very rained on during her dig – she is down south at the moment doing an archaeological dig at some standing stones as part of her course. She can cope fine with the rain (it’s just like most of the family holidays we have after all!) but unfortunately her lovely new Zandra Rhodes tepee tent that I bought her for Xmas has on its first trip out proved to be not waterproof at all! They have been very flooded so she has had to retreat to her little tent and we will have to be sending that back to the suppliers with a little note when she returns! Apart from that she is enjoying herself and they are hoping for better weather next week.

We need to wish Becky, her friend and future housemate who is also on the dig with her a belated happy birthday, it was her 21st birthday this week so a very, very happy birthday Becky and I hope that you and Gemma liked the pressies Ellie made you and that you liked the sparkly elephant that starred in last month’s Scavenger Hunt.

Becky and her boyfriend Chris have just come back from staying in our house in Spain and they sent me a very wonderful bouquet of flowers to say thanks and a fab card that she got from Moonpig which had loads of their holiday snaps on it – what a brill idea! Thank you very much Becky and Chris, you are most welcome! Look at these lovely blooms – I don’t know what the little multi-flowered ones are but they are so pretty and I love lilies.

flowers from Becky and Chris

I have had a very busy week again including trying to sort out more IT issues (Jacob’s new birthday computer 0 restored wireless network 1) so some success on that front, bizarrely it will connect fine when downstairs but not when in his room, despite the fact that my laptop will – humm! And 2 hours on the phone with technical support could not fix it – it is a good job that I am a woman who knows my ping from my command prompt I tell you! However he is very happy as he has a super new graphics card and all is very pretty and the games work well, and I have regained access to my laptop of an evening (hurrah!).

To offset this I have a bit of fabric fettling in between marking and decorating. Have managed to work out what I am doing with the farm quilt despite a couple of ‘oops I have measured that bit wrong’ setbacks and have now put together all the labels with the spotty sashing – pic below shows 5 of the 12 that make up the quilt top.

Farm quilt label block

Since I took this pic I have added another row of sashing between all the label blocks in a green gingham so it looks very pretty. Am pleased that I have managed to work out the design myself and that I have done all the sashing using joined piecing which I have seen others at quilt group do but had not attempted it before (aren’t you impressed at all these new words I know now, I am, it is like a whole new language!)

I am very much enjoying my adventures in quilting – we have a ‘Sit and Sew’ day next Saturday where as the name suggests we shall spend all day sewing so I hope to have the quilt top done and possibly backed and part quilted as well as it needs to be finished within a few weeks for a birthday gift.

I have also been enjoying finding out more about quilt techniques as I have discovered a brand new resource from a link on a quilty blog. I was reading Tonya’s Lazy Gal Quilting blog and she mentioned the Quilt Show  and I have been having great fun watching their videos (from the comfort of my sofa thanks to the newly restored wireless connection!)

I like the way that as well as all of the free stuff when you register you can buy access to the individual shows you like without having to take out a yearly subscription and I think at about £1.50 a show that is very good value as they last an hour and are very informative.I watched a really good one on 1930s quilts the other day and am going to go back later and browse some more.

Last but not least I have picked a winner for the 200th post – using a random number generator which other people have mentioned as good way of picking. I had five comments on the post so numbered them in order and the winner is Number 2 – Lorna (no blog). I am mailing you Lorna to ask you what you would like as your ornie. Thank you to all who commented and I will be having another one in a few months in Nov as that will be my 4th blogaversary!

Well I hope that you have had better weather than we have – my Mum arrives next week for a visit so I am hoping that she will pack some Spanish sun in her case, meanwhile  we will look on the bright side – at least I have got out of cutting the front hedge this weekend!

See you next week with hopefully a completed quilt top, thanks for visiting.

London Life Part Two – history and architecture!

As regular readers will know I love taking pics of architecture (particularly pretty doors and iron work to the bewilderment of my children!) and I had plenty of opportunity in London. We arrived at St Pancras  station which is an incredible building, one day would love to depart from here on the Eurostar or the Orient Express as I love train travel and it is a wonderful station, very modern on the inside with lots of shops and cafes (including a champagne bar!) but the outside is the best bit.The web site has a nice little bit on the history of the station with more pics if you are interested.

Edited to add – According to my Google banner today 13th July is the architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott’s 200th birthday – well done Sir for a fine building!

London 1 - St Pancras

No pretty pics of the British Library which we went to that day – lovely gardens and it is nice inside but too much of a brick block for me. We did see some very lovely things in the Treasures collection including old maps and illuminated manuscripts and they have a very good feature on their website that lets you look at some of these in more detail called ‘Treasures in Full’ and an online gallery called ‘Turning the Pages’.

 However the following day was heaven as we went to Hampton Court ! I didn’t realise that the Flower Show was on that week which meant it was very crowded coming home on the train so we stayed and had tea there and caught a later one. Hen House  has wonderful post all about the Flower Show – she went a couple of days after us so I didn’t get the chance to bump into her which is probably a good things as the children would have been very embarrassed by me trying to introduce myself to one of my ‘imaginary friends’!

I have wanted to visit for a long, long time because of my fascination with the Tudors, particularly Catherine of Aragon who has always interested me not just for her love of embroidery and allegedly introducing blackwork to England but also because of her story which is such a powerful one and the outcome of it changed so much about English religious culture which again is one of my interests. I have just started re-watching the Tudors from series one and am going to treat myself to series four as I missed most of that when it was shown live (on far too late at night!).

The place did not disappoint and I was also very pleased to find that there was the newer palace of William and Mary from the 18th century behind the Tudor one which I had not realised. I prefer Tudor architecture and decor to Baroque but the gardens and apartments were lovely.Below pics show the outside of their palace and one of the beautiful symmetrical gardens.

London - Hampton palace

London - Hampton garden 2

This was the really exciting bit though.The pics below show the Clock Court, Tudor Gardens and window in the Great Hall, the ceiling of  the Watching Chamber and Henry’s kitchens which fed 1200 people a day when he was there with his retinue.

London - Hampton clock

London - Hampton garden 1

London - Hampton window

London - Hampton ceiling

London - Hampton kitchen

I think that gold ceiling would make a marvellous inspiration for a goldwork piece!

And there was even more excitement with a very good exhibition about Henry’s early life which we looked at after the main house including paintings of two people you might recognise.

London - Hampton Catherine

The lovely Catherine of Aragon and her rival Anne Boleyn.

London - Hampton Anne

There was a very poignant part of the exhibition detailing all the stillbirths and deaths of Catherine’s children and both her and Anne suffered because of their failure to produce a male heir. It really does make you appreciate what women went through in childbirth and how the status of women has changed thankfully.

We also met the great man Henry the 8th himself with his last wife Kathryn Parr – during the day they had a series of short re-enactments with some actors recreating part of their story and I was lucky enough to get some lovely pics of the in the courtyard.

London 2 - Hampton King

Fab costume , I do fancy doing Tudor re-enactment myself but would only ever opt to be a lower staus role. I will leave the really fancy stuff to my very talented friend Kat , who by the way has just had her second baby girl – big congrats and welcome! I am sure the baby will be as beautifully dressed for re-enactment as the whole family are. Her Tudor section is here if you want to have a look at the wonderful things she makes.

We later went to the Natural History Museum  which Jake loves and they had a dinosaur exhibition which was very good (the sort with the moving ones in!) This building was designed to look like a cathedral to honour of all God’s creations and it is an amazing building . I bought a book on the history of the building and it is made of terracotta not carved stone as I had originally thought and was created by Alfred Waterhouse. More pics and history on this site  if you are interested.

London  - NH Museum 1

London  - NH Museum 2

There was a bit of modern architecture appreciation as we stayed in Docklands so took another trip to Canary Wharf where we marvelled yet again at how tall the buildings are.

London  - Canary Wharf

We are having a quiet couple of weeks here now doing some house and garden fettling. I am finding my Makower farm fabric quilt a challenge as I am designing it myself so no pics yet just a lot of moving fabric around and trying not to cut it out wrongly but hopefully I will have some progress on that by the end of the week.

Well this has been a very long post – time for a cup of tea I think!

Hope you all have a lovely week and thanks for visiting.

A Lovely Week!

Hello again

Hope you have been having a very nice week. I have –  filled with lots of lovely crafting and fun with other people while doing it. I only started crafting socially (as in joining groups) about 4 years ago when I joined the Embroiderers’ Guild but now the kids have grown up and I have a lot more free time for me it forms a large part of my social life and I love it! It is so nice seeing what other people are working on and getting advice when you get stuck and having a good laugh (and usually some cake!) while you are at it. This week was a very nice one as I went to two knitting groups, did one session at WI and spent all day yesterday at a Quilt Workshop run by Christine from my quilt group.

First of all though my Spring Exchange for the Seasonal Exchange blog  has arrived in the USA so I can show you pics of that.When I was given my partner Lisa’s name I went to look on her blog to see what sort of things she liked making and I saw that she had made this as an exchange piece for her to send off and she mentioned that she liked it so much that she would want to make one for herself in the future so I thought this would be perfect and luckily she is pleased with it.

Spring bird ornie 1

 
The design is called Friendship Bird Floss Ring and is from the Jan/Feb issue of Gift of Stitching magazine. It is stitched on evenweave with thread from The Silk Mill. It is the first time I have used the little pearl thread rings which I got from Sew and So.
 
I have seen on a few people’s blog pics of their smaller stitched items photographed outside on bushes so I thought since this is a bird it would be nice for him to be in a tree so here he is in my garden!
 
Spring bird ornie 2

Knitting progress with the pink baby cardi is slow but steady – not helped by the fact that I keep forgetting to do eyelet rows while I am decreasing so I have had to take back quite a few rows!

I have also almost finished my latest Xmas ornie and made a start on another this week as a demo piece for my WI meeting. I have recently joined my local branch of the Women’s Institute which meets monthly with a variety of activities on the programme. This month it was a Craft Bee and I was asked if I would like to demo something so I chose blackwork which turned out to be  good choice as no-one had heard of if. There were quite a few cross stitchers who came to my table but some people who had never tried crafts before so we had a fun evening. The pics below show my demo table and a couple of the pieces that beginners did. I used patterns from the Blackwork Archives  for the beginners as there are some very good simple designs there that you can download.

WI Blackwork 1

WI Blackwork 2

WI Blackwork 3

The quilt workshop I went to was based on a design called Stained Glass Windows. I forgot to get a picture of the original quilt that Christine had made as a demo but it was made from bold plain colours with black sashing to give the effect of stained glass. We had been asked to bring any fabric from our stash and as I have rather a lot of Xmas fabric (ahem!) rather than buying anything new I decided I would use the workshop to make an Xmas version of the sofa throw WIP.

The quilt design seemed quite complex to start off with (especially for me as I am a little spatially challenged!) as you layer seven 10 inch squares of fabric and cut them all at once into seven different sized rectangles, then you lay them out so that each block has one of each of the seven colours.

You can make any size of quilt by cutting extra sets of seven fabrics. I will probably only use 6 of my 7 blocks for the throw – I may cut out pieces for another block to make 8 blocks once I see how big the 6 are (am hoping to get some more quilting done this afternoon in between hedge cutting and other domestic duties!) Here are the three I got finished yesterday, I decided to use green sashing rather than black as I thought it looked more festive. 

May quilt 1

I am very pleased with them as it is the first time I have done a sashed block and it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I had lots of help from the others and it was very nice to see all the different colour combinations that people chose and how they turned out.

In cake news this week I have been experimenting with my recipe and have made a different flavour – vanilla with a hint of ginger (Jake approves!) – here are the strawberry and chocolate star topped versions I made for quilt workshop.

May cupcakes

Lastly I will leave you with some pics of my neighbours’ very cute cat, Henry, who was climbing in the clematis this week and very kindly posed for me. We don’t have any pets any more – all having died of old age –  but Henry comes round a lot and is very friendly.

Henry 2

Henry 1

I just love that last pic – so cute!

Well I hope that you have a lovely week ahead – I am going to be super busy as I am out every night, all social and crafting which is lovely. Thanks as always for visiting and for all the lovely comments! I especially welcome all those new people who have visited through the photo scavenger hunt

Little stash, big ideas

Hello there

I have been having a very lovely week and I do hope you have too. It has been absolutely glorious weather, I have spent lots of time in the garden, doing both boring practical things like cutting the hedge ;-( and nice stuff like having a bbq and enjoying my flowers. My garden has really matured this year , the clematis is about 3 times the size it was last year and everything is looking very lovely so please indulge me while I show you a few pics.

clematis - may

garden may 1

garden may 2

Quite a lot has been going on indoors as well though this has been a relatively quiet week for me (like most of the population here in the UK) with only 3 work days and lots of lovely holiday. I celebrated the Royal Wedding by having a few friends round for cupcakes and Cava during the ceremony and a little buffet lunch afterwards. I thought Kate’s dress was absolutely stunning – just perfect for her. Will not post pics of that as apparently a third of the world’s population watched the wedding so I’m sure you will have  seen it! However here are my cupcakes that I made for the do – the first chance I have had to use my cake stand!

wedding cupcakes and cava

On the crafting front I have been working on my pink Sublime baby cardi and my JBW Plum Pudding Xmas ornie – the latter is nearly finished. I also have started a new quilting WIP. I said a while ago that I wanted to organise my quilt fabric stash in a similar way to how I have seen other people sort things on their blogs so bought some plastic storage boxes and was surprised to find that I actually have very little quilt fabric (lots of other types of fabric but that is another story!) This is it basically.

stash - may

Pretty poor isn’t it compared to some of the big names out there in the quilting world? However I am planning trips to the Malvern Quilt Show at the end of May and the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in August so will have a chance to add to the stash. Sorting it all out did give me a chance to mull over a project I have had in mind for a while which is a small throw for the back of one of my sofas in the lounge. It is a brown leather sofa which is quite plain and since I have lots of lovely medieval style fabrics I thought I would make a start on cutting out some squares which I did this afternoon.

sofa quilt wip

This is not the final layout just a bit of a working plan, I am thinking about a large central square of one of the dark red fabrics with gold silk sashing and then strips of all the other squares with red silk sashing in between each square. No time limit for this piece just something to pick up as and when I get time – things are about to get very hectic round here with term starting again and all my re-enactment and other things.

I have finished my Spring Exchange piece for the Seasonal Exchange with a whole 3 days to spare  and that has been sent to the USA this week so will post pics of that once it has been received. I got mine from Lisa  last week when I got back from holiday so here are the pics of it. Please do go and visit her blog as she has loads of lovely stitching on it.

Spring Ornie exchange - front

Spring Ornie exchange - back

It is very lovely, the finish is so neat with lots of really even blanket stitch and I love the backing fabric as well. It is hanging on my patio doors with last year’s seasonal exchange Spring ornie making me feel very happy – I do love this season camping, bbqs just being able to be outdoors lots – fabulous!!!

Finally Elmsley Rose asked me in comment a while ago what my header pic was – it is part of a crewel work picture I bought from E-Bay about 4 years ago, unfortunately no info came with it about date or maker but I did promise that I would take a pic of the full thing so here it is. It is not a brilliant pic as it is framed with glass so there are some reflections but I really like this piece – it hangs in my hallway.

hall crewel embroidery

Well I will love you and leave you and hope that you have a very good week ahead. I am looking forward to a quilting workshop next Saturday and as much crafting as I can squeeze into my tight schedule!

Bye for now and thank you for visiting.