January thoughts

Hello and hope you are all having a good start to your crafting year. I have been thinking a lot about goals for this year, not resolutions but things that I want to get done and so thought that putting together a list on the blog would give me a point of reference.

I like the idea of looking back at what you have done and looking forward to the future, January being named after the Roman god, Janus, the god of doors because this month is the door to the year. The Roman god Janus represents all beginnings and possesses the ability to see all things past and future which I think is a lovely idea and why he is represented with two faces.

So what did I achieve in 2016? This was very much a year of new things for me, coming really from a couple of courses that I went on at Simply Solids where I learnt to make baskets and had my first experience with zips with my pouch. I also used some of my ideas from Pinterest for pincushions and the little houses and made a sewing machine cover.

Looking at my photos for last year it doesn’t seem as if I did a lot but there also extra things that I did like the gold braid on Ellen’s dress, finishing the tabard for Jamie, a ring pillow and the Christmas ornaments that were also completed. The fact that I changed job roles in the summer has also meant a lot less time for crafting since June though hopefully that has calmed down now.

So plans for 2017. First of all to tackle some of the pesky WIPs. Like most people I am a bit of a flibbertigibbet when it comes to crafting, I see a new thing that I want to do and then go off and do it and don’t finish other things.I have also been guilty of abandoning difficult things which is not good practice!

These all need finishing.The first one needs a frame but is done otherwise, the quilt block is part of the challenge that Helen, Sharon and I did the year before last. I have 6 blocks but need a few more. The cute car hexagons were supposed to be a present for a baby who is now two! The vintage crochet hexis are going to be a bee quilt cushion and the last set of hexis are a long term project which is good for travelling, I have made some more of these in Spain.

Then the new stuff. I would like to go back and make some more of the Splendid Sampler blocks, particularly these stitched ones.

I would also like to make some of the items that I have saved pictures of on the blog.They range from things from books such as the circular tile quilt and the triple hexagon tea mug  to more pincushions, pouches, baskets, mug rugs and bags from blogs, some of Lori Holt Bloom Sew Along and a Dresden block using vintage linen from a magazine.

I would like to do more of Jenny of Elefantz’s lovely embroidery, the hexagon and roses one above is one I have been meaning to do for the craft room but think it would make a great zip pouch as well.

I also need to find a use for these gifted hexagons from my friend Helen, zippered pouches maybe? Probably more likely than a whole quilt given my productivity!

gift hexis 1

Finally there is more cross stitch, something I haven’t done for a long time but am feeling the urge for in preparation for next year’s Christmas ornaments.

Well that lot should keep me going for a while, meantime there is some crochet and lace zips calling me upstairs so I had better go and see what they want!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Tiny Norwegian Houses

Hello everyone, hope you are all well and planning a lovely weekend. The sun is shining here in Yorkshire and we have blue skies which is a bit of a miracle for January so a walk might be in the plans for later on.

I have always been fascinated by tiny places to live, I have plans to buy a caravan when I retire and some of my happiest homes have been small, bedsits and little flats.

I am currently loving the tiny house movement and all the gorgeous things that pop up on my Facebook feed.

Look at this one for sheer inventiveness, it looks like something out of a fairy tale. This comes from a company called Spa Hungary.

Tiny house resized

I have found lots of lovely pictures on this Tiny House blog as well, love the look of this cabin from the Isle of Wight.

small-beach-house-exterior resized

small-beach-house- exterior resized

When we were in Oslo my favourite houses at the Folk Museum were two tiny wooden houses from the early 1900s, built side by side.

The amazing thing about these was although they were probably only not much bigger in terms of floor area as modern tiny houses 9 people lived in one and 8 in the other.

As always it was the little touches that made it home that were so amazing, these houses had been moved to the museum so they were not the original belongings of the inhabitants but still so beautiful.

Three of the family slept in this tiny loft bedroom accessed by a ladder. The ‘bathroom’ was a small bowl and mirror tucked behind a curtain at the bottom of the stairs, and the toilet was out in the yard.

Norway Folk Museum small house 2

There were lots of space saving ides like these hangings for trays.

Norway Folk Museum small house 1

Norway Folk Museum small house 3

And evidence of beautiful embroidery to make the place feel like home.

Norway Folk Museum small house 4

Norway Folk Museum small house 5

Norway Folk Museum small house 6

Both of the houses had little sewing areas with vintage sewing machines. I have one just like this which has its own table to stow it in. Sadly it does not work anymore but is a very lovely heirloom.

Norway Folk Museum small house 7

Some of the family would sleep on the sofas in the lounge.

Norway Folk Museum small house 9

There were photos of some of the families that lived there, all in their Sunday best!

Norway Folk Museum small house 8

Norway Folk Museum small house 10

It may seem strange that people now willingly choose to live in tiny houses but I can see why this is such a good idea and most of the people doing it are choosing mortgage free lifestyles either as their first homes or as retirees.

I do love my own house but sometimes I think it seems very big for just me and is very full of ‘stuff’. Why do I need 10 wineglasses when at the most there are only ever 3 people in my house drinking wine at the same time?

Of course the contents of the craft room are exempt as that is not stuff, that is the retirement fund!

Have had a lovely week at work and also managed to get quite a bit of knitting done, all body parts for one rabbit completed and am now onto the mouse which is exciting as I have not made one of those before.

Hope that you have a lovely weekend and week ahead, will be back with some pictures of the lovely presents I had for Christmas, craft related of course 😉

Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

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.

Needles and pins

I really enjoy making stitching gifts and have just finished a set for a special little girl, the eldest daughter of my very talented friend Kat, the women who makes the gorgeous medieval and Tudor clothes and is a fabulous embroider as well.

If you have not seen her creations please look at her website Kats Hats and her Facebook page which also has loads of research such as manuscripts, effigies etc. She has also started running courses as well, details on the page.

It is Kat’s daughter’s birthday in a couple of weeks and she is following in her mother’s footsteps and started sewing a while ago so I have made her this pincushion and needle case set out of some fabric from my Simply Solids scrap stash.

Izzys pincushion 1

Izzys pincushion 2

I made a similar set for Rachel, my most prolific blog commenter and these were again from the Simply Solids scrap stash.

Hexi gift stitching 1

Hexi gift stitching 2

Hexi gift stitching 3

English Paper Piecing is great for this kind of small scale fabric stash and I am currently working on a similar item from my New Hexagon book that I posted about previously using my lovely Christmas present Liberty Lawn from Very Berry Fabrics.

I do particularly love making (and owning) pincushions and stitching pillows with space for needles in the back as well and these are the, mainly, stitched ones that I have made on the past, lots of these were for exchanges.

Kerry's pincushion

Summer Exchange by me - front

exchange embroidery lisa 2

Denise pincushion 1

Spring Ornie 2

Spring bird ornie 2

Summer Exchange piece front

Spring Exchange for Lei

Hexi pincushions

Autumn Exchange

Spring Exchange

Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom has a lovely idea of making pincushions regularly out of her scrap pile and keeping them in a basket for when stitching friends come round to give as gifts, isn’t that a great thing to do.

There are just a few more (595 pins!) ideas on this lovely Pinterest Board – do you think we might actually make more stuff if someone hadn’t invented Pinterest, not that I am complaining, I love it!

Right back to my hexis and a Game of Thrones marathon, am trying to catch up with the rest of Season 4 before Season 5 starts mid April or I will spend the entire re-enactment season having to try to avoid spoilers from all my friends who are avid fans!

Have a lovely rest of the weekend and thanks for visiting.

Some finishes to share

I realised (as I was mulling over the design for my thank you gift for all those lovely comments) that I had not posted any pictures of the last giveaway I did for my 400th post or the last piece of stitching that I did for the sadly now defunct Seasonal Exchange.

So here they are. This is the needlecase that I made, Cat had requested deep colours and I had these fabrics in my scraps from making my medieval pattern fabric throw for the sofa (which I still have not finished the hand quilting on – ahem!) so I though I would combine my hexagon addiction with a little goldwork.

needlecase giveaway

needlecase giveaway 2

The inside of the case has felt in a deep red for the needles and I put a little hexagon pocket in as well for scissors, threaders etc. Apologies for the yellowness of the picture, this was November light in Yorkshire!

needlecase giveaway 3

This was the last pincushion I made – the original gift got lost in the post and never arrived 😦 so I made this little bird one instead.

It is an adaptation of a pattern from one of my cross stitch magazines, the original has NOEL on it and is a Christmas ornament but I liked the idea of an autumn bird looking for berries. It is backed with some of the same fabric left over from the throw.

Autumn exchange number 2 - front

I don’t know where I got the little acorn charm from but thought it was very cute and just right for this piece.

Autumn exchange number 2

We have had more snow this week, I actually ended up with a snow day yesterday where despite mine and the bus driver’s valiant attempts to get us to town I arrived too late for where I was going so turned round and came home! Was very tempted to just sit under a fleecy blanket and stitch but I was good and got on with some marking.

Plans for this weekend are to try out some more quilting blocks and our February block of the month will be released soon as well!

Hope you have a nice weekend and thanks for visiting.

Stitches with meaning

A few years ago at Harrogate I saw some really stunning, original embroidery in the graduate showcase and was really pleased to see the work of Caren Garfen back again, this time with her own exhibition.

Caren’s work is called ‘She was cooking something up’ and is based around a kitchen installation. It takes the theme of women’s lives and their relationship with food, dieting and body image. Not only is it technically amazing, all of this is hand stitching on screen printed backgrounds, but so creative and powerful.

Apologies as my images are all a bit yellow due to the show lighting.

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 2

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 3

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 4

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 5

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 6

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 7

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 8

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Caren and tell her how much I loved her work.

There are some more detailed pictures (in better light) at this show link.

Her website  also gives more details of her work and there is a really interesting interview with Caren at this link on the Textile Artist web site. I particularly like the way her work links modern stitching with the history of women’s work and needlework.

As someone who is really interested in the history of needlework it is fascinating the way that women’s lives were often influenced heavily by their skills with a needle in terms of employment, readiness for marriage, social activities etc and this work makes us think through stitching about our lives and current pressures on them.

No longer do we have to be proficient needlewomen to clothe our families, or ‘make do and mend’ to help the war effort, or have 12 quilt tops ready before we get married but for many of us needlecrafts and knitting are still very central to our lives.

It always fascinates me as someone who has crafted all her life that knitting, quilting, embroidery and sewing are now popular like never before (and often on prime time TV), not because we have to do it but because we want to do it and the ‘handmade home’ is now once again valued over mass production.

The fact that the internet (the original idea of linking computers was to protect data in the event of war) is such as resource for us all (not just women but mainly women) to share ideas, encourage each other and to often enable us to sell our work is fantastic.

My life would definitely by so much poorer without my bloggy  ‘imaginary friends’ as my kids call them. So on that note thanks for visiting and have a nice week ahead!

We are famous!

There has been great excitement here in the village this week as we are being used as a film set again, this time for a movie, ‘A Monster Calls’ , with Liam Neeson  (who will be playing a tree apparently so won’t be doing any live filming) and Sigourney Weaver who will!

The village and the surrounding countryside has already featured in lots of things, most notably, ‘Last of the Summer Wine’, and ,’Where the Heart is’, and we had Micheal Palin spotted here not long ago while he was filming a ghost story at the vicarage.

However the most exciting thing apart from star spotting is that one of the village shops has been given a make over, this is usually one of our local charity shops and has a very plain window similar to its neighbour that you can just see a bit of on the left of this picture.

Shop transformation 3

But look at that gorgeousness! All that lovely stock. Sadly it is going to have to be turned back after the filming but everyone in the village loves it and wishes it could stay.

Shop transformation

Shop transformation 2

We will have some themed shops this weekend though as it is the Jazz Festival and I helped my friend Sharon make  bunting with some of the music themed fabric that she bought from the Quilt Cabin in Hebden Bridge a few weeks ago.

Bunting

Bunting 2

Bunting 3

It is in the window of her art gallery ‘Enjoy Art’ which will hopefully be busy with lots of visitors to the festival.

I was perusing the charity shops this weekend and not only did I get some more great bargains (a new top for Xmas and some knee-length leather winter boots for the princely sum of £5.45 in total) but also this gorgeous piece of vintage embroidery.

Vintage ABC embroidery

I have taken a couple of close-ups of things we see a lot of round here – is raining again today 😦

Vintage ABC embroidery- umbrella

Vintage ABC embroidery- lamb

And something that has not been seen in Marsden yet however given our role as a film venue who knows what might happen in the future!

Vintage ABC embroidery

No date but I would estimate 1930s – 50s by the style of it. Stitched on linen in cross stitch it says at the top, ‘Teach me please my ABCs’, so I imagine it was for a child’s room and will be going up in my craft room this afternoon.

It is too nice to cut up and was only an amazing £2.80. I do love charity shops 🙂

Have made great progress with the hexis for the aprons, they are appliqued to the backing fabric just waiting for a machining session to be sewn together and am working on some more hexi love with the mini charm packs from Simply Solids today.

Will update at the weekend if time allows, I am running the box office for the Jazz Festival again all weekend and am hoping to see a couple of events including one of my favourite vocalists Ruby Wood with her new band The Sugar Sisters who are headlining on Saturday night.

See you soon and thanks for visiting!