Nicosia part 2 – more doors, and more textiles!

I am definitely loving the Cypriot doors, and balconies. Again most in Nicosia had the dates on, and all seemed to be from around the same era as in Larnaca, which I found very interesting.

I did find one dated to 1718, and part of the city walls with a gate, but all the others are a very similar style and from the early 1900s.

Being an amateur building historian I can only assume that they was a lot of building in all of Cyprus at this time, and that possibly a lot of older buildings were destroyed to make way for these ones.

Unlike other cities that I have visited there seems to be no specific medieval area, though the Venetian walls do date from the 1570s which is the later medieval period. I did see a medieval hall near the walls as well.

I can only assume that when the British occupied Cyprus from the 1870s there was a lot of building from that point, which may explain the lack of older buildings apart from things such as the forts and castles.

I visited three museums on my second trip. The first was the main Museum of Cyprus ,which had lots of pottery and statues. I am not normally that interested in the different types of ceramics, they just don’t get me as excited as textiles do. However, there was an amazing display that was all found together.

These 2000 figurines were found displayed like this in the sanctuary of Aiya Irini, and date from the 7th and 6th centuries BC. There are mainly soldiers, waggons and horses, and there are only two female figurines.

I love the face on the bigger bull at the front of this picture above, he looks as if he is smiling!

The other really interesting thing was this jewellery display, dating from the Byzantine period of the 6th century. As well as being beautifully detailed it was interesting to see how the designs have not really changed at all, even down to the way we fasten earrings all these centuries later.

My favourites were the winged creatures in the top left picture, they were so detailed at only about one inch tall.

The second place was, The Shacolas Tower , which has a panoramic view over the city and a small exhibition and video about the history of the city. It is well worth a visit as it so interesting to see some of the landmarks from above.

I spotted the church and archbishop’s palace that I had visited in this first photo.

The one below looks towards the occupied part of the city where you can see the towers of the Selimiye Camii mosque that was once a cathedral, at the back right of the photo in front of the mountains. It has been a mosque since the Ottomans came to the city in the late 1500s so is very much part of the very diverse history of this city.

The final museum was the Leventis Museum, which is housed in three restored buildings within the city centre. This was a great museum for giving you a timeline of all of the different cultures that have lived in Cyprus, showcasing Venetian glass, Ottoman jewellery, and having some excellent examples of textiles.

There was a whole display devoted to maps and books written by the many people that had travelled to Cyprus, often on their way to the Middle East. I love old maps and the history that they represent so colourfully.

There was a costume display, and also some excellent examples of Cypriot embroidery and lace.

I think the motifs on this beautiful piece below are pomegranates, which reminds me that I really must get started on my pomegranate goldwork that I have been promising to make for about 20 years!

The lace is described as crochet lace on the label, so I am not sure how some of it was made, although they do show bobbins as well. I think there may be a mix of techniques used.

The embroidery examples were very interesting as well, Cypriot embroidery takes many forms, there is heavy influence from the geometry of cross stitch, but also flower motifs.

This top piece seems to use gold thread as well, as far as I could see through the case.

The final section of the museum looked at the influence of the British occupation from the late 1870s. There were some of the magazines published at the time, and this very interesting book. I would love to have read this to see what the impression was of Cyprus at this time by the British public.

The cross over of fashions was also mentioned, contrasting the traditional dress of the Nicosian people, with that of the Victorians who came to live there.

As with the kimono exhibition we saw recently in New York, it was interesting to see pictures of how the dress became adopted by the Cypriot people. There are few differences between the garments really, in terms of style, but dress was very much linked to social status and religion, so at first there was little mixing of fashions.

I just had time for a short wander before getting the bus back, and found another church, not hard when Nicosia is full of them!

This one was particular interesting for a mosaic of Mary, (I assume), with a distaff spindle in her hand.

Images of Mary spinning are knitting are quite common and I found this interesting blog post with more information and additional pictures.

I will be travelling over the next few days and settling into my next accommodation, so I will return soon with more adventures. I am loving this nomadic lifestyle and really looking forward to the last couple of weeks in Cyprus. I will then be reunited with my beloved Katy Kangoo for further adventures in the UK.

Until I see you next have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Nicosia, and textiles!

I decided to make two trips to Nicosia as there were four museums I wished to visit, as well as have a wander round, and thought it would be too much to do in a day.

The public transport here in Cyprus is excellent, with very regular inter-city buses that are comfortable, clean and very cheap, and it is a great way to see the country. The bus to Nicosia takes about 75 minutes each way and only costs 7 euros for a return.

The first two museums were the ones that I was most excited about so I went to see those on the first visit. I use Google maps, both for planning and navigating when I am there and they were very easy to find. I had a good wander around the area as well exploring and it was interesting to see the extent to which restoration is taking place.

As I mentioned in my last post Nicosia is a divided capital, the border only having re-opened in 2008. For a really good overview of the history of this lovely island, as well as more information about visiting Nicosia, please see this very useful post by Helen on her Holidays, which I used to help plan my trip.

As the city was involved in so much conflict, and is still a military zone, I was expecting to see a lot of damage, and there was evidence of that. During the 1974 conflict 200,000 people were displaced from all over Cyprus. That is a lot of empty houses, and like Larnaca and Famagusta, many have been left empty since then. It was heartening to see that although there are lots of bits that still look like the picture below, there are many that are being restored.

I came across this very interesting street, near the first museum. One end of it was beautifully restored and the other, although the doors were still there and lights strung up, the buildings were just shells with no second floor apart from the external wall. I do hope that they will be able to complete this one day as they are such beautiful buildings.

The first museum was the Folk Art one. This is housed in the old Archbishop’s Palace, right next to the new palace.

The collection is not large but was beautifully displayed in all of the small rooms of the palace, and concentrated on the traditional crafts of woodwork, weaving, lace making, furniture making and embroidery. Although there were no pictures allowed I have found a very good explanation of Cypriot textile crafts on this site here.

I also found some shops selling work in the city, although a lot of what was for sale was mass produced machine embroidery, rather than the traditional Lefkara work from that village.

The new Archbishop’s Palace was very beautiful, and had some fabulous doors. I also saw the official cars, proudly parked in a glass walled garage outside, one of which may be a Rolls Royce?

Next to the palace was another one of the stunning churches, this time with an amazing gold painted ceiling, and the most ornate chairs for the priest to sit on.

The chairs for the congregation are equally lovely, look at those beautiful carved eagles, they were on every single chair.

Although there is not much goldwork in some of the churches, unlike in Spain, there is always beautiful crochet on the tables used for icons or during the services.

The second museum was just behind the church, this is the House of Hatzigeorgakis Kornesios Ethnographic Museum. This is a house, built around a courtyard, which was the home of one of the city officials during the Ottoman Empire. It was built in 1793 and has been beautifully restored.

The first floor is furnished with a stunning painted reception room, amongst other treasures.

I loved the painted chest, clock, and the carved wood that was once throughout the house.

There was also a small costume and textile collection, so I got chance to photograph one of the costumes similar to those that had been in the folk art museum.

This really shows off all of the exceptional Cypriot needlework skills, from the metal embroidery on the velvet jacket, to the lace cuffs and embroidered skirt.

I then had a wander back to the city centre and a quick walk up the famous Ledra Street. As well as some more beautiful old buildings, this is where one of the border crossings are, and it is both interesting and quite bizarre.

I knew the crossing was there, but one minute you are walking past McDonalds and Starbucks and the next there is a little building with blue striped awnings that is a police checkpoint.

Just to the left is a bench with a mosaic Peace sign, which lots of people come to have their photo taken with.

It was a very sombre experience to see the checkpoint, after all that I have read about Cyprus and Nicosia, and is one part of the city I hope will not be around forever.

The city is also famous for still having its Venetian walls, they surround the city centre, and you can see the star points clearly on the map. Many of the spaces below the walls have been turned into parks as the walls themselves are enormous. I found this painting from Wikipedia of what they looked like originally. I love visiting the star forts that are found all over Europe so this was fascinating.

Of course there were also lots and lots of lovely doors, but since I am visiting the city again this week I shall save those treats until next time, as I may being adding to my collection! This is my last week in Larnaca, I am off to Paphos next for the final 10 days of my trip, where there will be even older things to marvel at.

Hope that you are all having a good week, whatever you are doing. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Finding haberdashery heaven

Well dear readers, the travel gods smiled upon us and Ellen and I were able to go on our very long awaited trip to New York in the second week of January. We had been planning this trip since about 2018, when we watched a series called Project Runway. This was set in one of the Fashion Institutes there, and featured regular visits by the contestants to the Garment District, in particular a shop there called Mood.

We had originally planned to go 2 years ago, for Ellen’s 30th birthday but as we know the world got a little crazy and so we put that trip on hold. We had not finally decided to go until just before Christmas, as we were waiting to see if anything changed with restrictions but sorted it all out and had a fantastic time. I had visited many years ago but it was Ellen’s first trip.

As well as buying fabric and haberdashery we wanted to visit some fashion collections and museums, as well as see all the tourist highlights. I will post later about those, this post is just all about the wonder that is the Garment District. It really is amazing how many shops there are, and how much there is available, we were at points quite overwhelmed with what to buy.

We were guided by a particular vlog from someone I have watched a lot over the years, Bernadette Banner, who did a New York Garment District vlog three years ago. I don’t remember the name of every shop we went it but we did visit B and Q trimmings, M and J Trimmings, Pacific Coast Haberdashery, and of course Mood!

This was just a tiny selection of what was in one shop, they had four aisles just of zips!

Ellen was looking for sparkly fabric for a night sky inspired project and had a hard time choosing from all the loveliness, though the $450 dollars a yard fabric got put back straight away! The Garment District is right next to Broadway, so as well as fashion fabric there are endless sequins, lace and feathers available such as these beauties.

We were both very restrained, even though a small fortune could have been spent. I just bought things for very specific Barbie couture projects as it was wonderful to have very small scale braid and trimmings available. I will do a specific post about that and my plans for the purchases later.

Before the shopping we spent some time at the Fashion Institute of Technology, looking both at the display of students’ work and at their current exhibition. The student work exhibition was really interesting, as much for the design boards as for the final creations.

The current exhibition at the museum looks at the interior spaces that many of the world’s greatest women designers lived and worked in. As well as showcasing their designs there were pictures of their salons, many of which no longer exist. It was a fascinating look at these creative spaces. The gowns on display were a very varied selection, and all stunning.

I am going to be working on more Barbie couture when I get back to Spain so wanted to choose two garments from the trip to make in Barbie size. I have chosen this gold one from the museum collection as I love the beaded detail on the neckline. I may not do anything as elaborate as this but it will be the inspiration.

The other dress I have chosen is this one from the film, ‘Mrs Harris goes to Paris’, which I watched on the plane. I love this and was able to get some gorgeous fabric in New York for it. There are so many amazing dresses in that film so may make others in the future, Barbie scale only though! Picture from the above link.

We also saw a great exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all about the history of the kimono, and how it became transformed once Japan opened up to Western fashion, and in turn how kimonos inspired other designers. Very interesting with some beautiful garments.

I am now actually in the Greek part of Cyprus where I am spending some of my winter months of exile from Spain. I am only allowed to stay there for 90 days post Brexit, but that gives me a great excuse to travel 😉

I have a friend who lives here so came to see him, to travel around, and indulge my passion for church architecture with lots and lots of visits to Greek Orthodox churches. There are also stunning coastal walks where I am now so lots of posts of all that coming up.

I finished the blackwork just before leaving Spain and am so pleased with it. Excuse the rather odd blue tint in the first picture, but I am so happy with how it all looks and plan to do some more of these on my return to Spain. It was a very quick stitch, the border took the longest but really finishes off the pieces.

I have also started and finished a mandala for my van. The design comes from a book of embroidery I bought my Mum a few years ago, and it is stitched with perle thread. It has been a very international stitch, started in Spain, worked on in England and the USA and finished in Cyprus. It just needs the felt backing attaching and it can hang in Katy.

I hope that you are all well and happy wherever you are, and if in the UK have not suffered too badly with the extreme weather. I am very lucky to still be in 19 degrees and am making the most of it.

I will be back soon with the other New York post and will update you on my Cyprus adventures as soon as I can. I am staying in a mixture of apartments and hotels so will be dependant on the quality of the wifi. Until next time, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Making very good progress!

I am very pleased to report that the last few weeks have been very productive. After finishing off the Luna rabbit and the reindeer that I showed you in my previous post , I moved on to the rest of the wish list that I talked about here.

I have really enjoyed working on the lap quilt to use in Katy, partly as it involved lots and lots of hours choosing Liberty fabrics while watching sewing vlogs! I can’t think of a much happier way to spend my afternoons.

Katy needs to look as pretty as possible as she is going to be in the show field at one of the van life festivals that I am going to next year, as an example of a no-build micro camper, so I am planning to take this back to the UK once it is all quilted up.

I had debated taking it as a quilt top and then buying wadding and putting on the backing there, but think that it will be easier just to return with it in July as I will have little else in the bag at that point. This will be hand quilted using perle thread so will be a job to do first thing when I return in April before it gets too hot!

I chose to use 6 of my existing blocks, made during lockdown when I was doing the Riley Blake block of the week challenge. I then added 6 new log cabin ones from the vintage tablecloth stash.

I am so pleased with how these turned out, they are so pretty and the colours of the fabric go so well with the Liberty.

I have chosen to sash the blocks in white. I will just have to be careful not to get it dirty, but nothing else looked as good. I have bought a lilac sheet from the charity shop for the backing ,and the border will be Liberty as well.

I have also added to the diamond in a square blocks as they were slightly smaller, and I thought they needed a border similar to the others.

I have made really good progress with my blackwork design . This is based on one of the plasterwork designs from the Alhambra in Granada, and can be seen at the bottom of the panel below.

This was very quick to stitch as it is very small. It only measures 24 stitches and so is only about 2 and 1/2 inches in total. The border will take longer, and I still have to do the gold thread details and the beading.

I am modifying the pattern as I go along, it is too small a scale to do some of the things I drafted, so I am making alterations and will re draw the design once I am finished. I am really enjoying my first attempt at pattern design and am very pleased with the outcome.

I am thinking of gold thread stars in the ‘petal shapes’ rather than black boxes as they didn’t look right.

The last project I have been working on is the Rainbow Rascal dolls. The pattern can be found here at Dollytime on Etsy.

This is such a quick and easy knit as the jumper is knitted as part of the body. The head and legs are also included in this piece. The shoes are knitted separately but then sewn on.

I love the clothes, especially the cute little waistcoat. I had the perfect tiny heart buttons in stash for that.

This is Poppy, and Violet is about halfway done, so she will be coming with me to the UK to finish off, along with some wool to make more reindeer for someone who didn’t win them this time.

I am hoping to use some of the Little Cotton Rabbits patterns to add extra outfits and make smaller versions of the very cute rucksack these animals have. Here is one I made a while ago for a bear. I think I might need to make some donuts as well!

I am leaving for England next week and have some very exciting adventures planned for the next few months. I don’t want to jinx anything by saying too much but fingers crossed we may get to do some of the postponed trips, and some extra European loveliness before being back in Katy on tour in March.

I have missed her, and my adventures in her so much, so although it will be sad to leave everyone here, much excitement, and catching up with friends and family awaits 🙂

I feel so very, very blessed to be looking forward to 2023 with all of the things that I have ever dreamed of. I am so happy in my new life and so looking forward to planning and doing lots of new things.

So I leave will leave you with my very best wishes for a Happy New Year. I will be celebrating with our now traditional evening at the Chinese restaurant here on La Marina, with lots of fireworks which I love. I hope you have a very good time and a brilliant start to 2023. I will see you again soon, hopefully with much loveliness to look at. Until then, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Caravaca, close up

The trip we made to Caravaca on Monday was brilliant for getting to see more of the town without the many people that there were for the fiesta in May. Although it was a medieval market, we went the day before a public holiday, so it was lovely and quiet and we had great weather for wandering round. The town looked so beautiful with all of the flags and bunting for the market.

We went up to the citadel and the cathedral first of all, meeting some very cute kittens on the way.

This is where the famous cross is located, in a tiny chapel at the side of the cathedral. There were no pictures allowed inside but there is a large model of the cross outside.

The cross itself is tiny, only about 8 inches high and was said to have been delivered by angels during one of the sieges in early 13th century It may also have been brought back from the Holy Land by the Knights Templar. However the original apparently disappeared in 1934 so the one currently on display is a replica. Whatever the origin the cross has meant that Caravaca is considered a holy site.

After visiting the citadel we had a wander down through the medieval barrio surrounding the area. There are beautiful views across to the mountains and you can see the old bull ring from here.

I love old Spanish cities, the stonework on the buildings and pavements is just gorgeous.

There were some derelict houses but thankfully some newly restored. It must be very difficult to do this as the streets are so narrow with no vehicle access and all the houses are on top of each other.

We were also able to visit one of the churches, with some very impressive embroidery and icons, unusually some in silver which I don’t often see.

The other great thing about the trip was getting to see some of the horse barding they wear for the running of the wine horses festival up close. There were two on display in the main square.

The above photo shows the tail decoration, which I think is made in the same way I make my Christmas ornaments, using polystyrene balls as the base.

The detail of the stitching is fantastic, not only abstract designs but wonderfully executed faces and detailed costume.

I think this one below was my favourite, it reminds me of all the Tudor costume I have been looking at recently.

Today is a little cooler and damp, after a very lovely sunny and warm week so I am going to spend the rest of the afternoon knitting on the sofa.

I have had two very enjoyable cycle rides this week, totalling 40km. I went down to the beach yesterday, where there were some wonderful cloud formations over the sea and the mountains.

I will hopefully be able to share my new knitted doll with you next week, it has been a really quick knit though doing the hair took a very long time. I re-did the plaits about 10 times! Until then I hope you are all enjoying life, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Fan-tastic time

Apologies for the awful pun but could not resist! We had a lovely day this Wednesday with the fan workshop and then a meal out with the sewing group. I am so lucky to have met such a wonderful group of very talented people and love meeting up with them every week.

The workshop was led by Vivien who has embroidered 70 fans herself and runs a lace stitching group every week at her home. I don’t think I am going to have time to do this regularly but loved learning the little bit that we did this week. It will probably take a while for the project to be finished as I have to do all of the others first but it is just the sort of quiet and intricate stitching that I love.

The motifs we made are to be glued on to a fan, I chose a white one but there were many others available.

There were various flower motifs to choose from, that Vivien had already drawn onto the orange backing fabric. The tulle is then basted on top.

Since I wear a lot of purple, and fans are an essential item here in the summer I chose purple thread for my contrast colour.

This type of lace is called needle run lace and there are many different regional variations of it.

The stitching involves a running stitch through the holes in the tulle to start with and then going back and oversewing each line to secure it as we will eventually cut around each motif. You then fill in the larger areas of the motif with your choice of filling stitch. The pictures below show Debbie hard at work on her blue flower.

Mary did hers in black, this will be put on a white fan.

There were some other fans that members of Vivien’s lace group have been working on, this one is Linda’s.

This is Claudia’s showing use of more than one colour. Some of the filling stitches are very similar to those used in blackwork.

These will be attached to fan fames, rather than stuck on to ready made fans. They are such amazing work, the result of many, many hours of stitching.

I wasn’t able to find many resources on this type of lace but did find this useful website. There are so many different varieties of lace and I love seeing them on my museum visits. Lace is something that is often found in portraits as well. I have been doing more research recently for the novel that I am writing, based partly at Hardwick Hall. This is one of my favourite portraits, of Queen Elizabeth 1st. Lace was very popular in Tudor times for the wonderful ruffs.

I am also writing about Mary, Queen of Scots, as she spent a lot of time with Bess of Hardwick during her captivity doing needlepoint embroidery.

As well as a course on the history of canals I am also doing a course about Mary, run by a fantastic organisation called Futurelearn. I have done lots of their history courses and they are really good. There are some beautiful pictures in this course. They have lots of interesting free courses and I have also done their creative writing ones which have been very helpful with my novel. I feel like I have got to keep the old brain from turning to mush now I no longer have to think for a living!

Cycling has been going well, another 25km ride on Sunday, I stopped off at the beach for a paddle half way through as it was very hot!

It is actually raining now, we have had some very impressive thunder and lightening this morning but normal weather service will be resumed tomorrow and we will be back to 23 degrees. Next week I am going on a coach trip to a fancy dress fiesta, so will be taking lots of pictures of the costumes there for you to admire. I do love a good fiesta 😉

Hope you have all had a nice week and have a lovely weekend ahead. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Thinking about heritage

If you are a regular reader you will know how much I love visiting museums, especially where there are textiles involved. My recent trip to Lancashire included a visit to a museum owned by the local council, Towneley Hall, and it was very interesting not just for its collections but also its history.

Burnley has a long textile heritage, much of Lancashire was involved in the wool and cotton trades and there are many mill buildings still to be seen.

This building was a rather grand house however, owned by the same family for many centuries. It had a fascinating mix of architecture, from Tudor long galleries and panelled rooms to a Regency style suite which is now used for weddings and events.

The family who owned the house decided it was too big for them and sold it to the local council in 1901, who decided to turn it into a museum. However they had nothing to put in it so they started taking donations from a number of varied sources.

This has led to a very eclectic collection, some with links to Burnley life and others random. They were no doubt very interesting to the local population when the museum was first opened, who probably marvelled at the mummy case and contents found by an Egyptologist who was a friend of the last owner.

It raises many questions about what are the purposes of museums and what functions they have. There are many debates in heritage circles about what is in our museums, and where it came from, indeed should some things be returned to their original countries?

There were a small selection of textiles from Kashmir which were very beautiful.

How things are interpreted is also interesting, this was very much a ‘things in glass cases’ type of museum, which reflects its heritage. I have been lucky enough to visit many museums of all different types and having a daughter who worked in the heritage industry find all of these questions very interesting.

There were quite a few local exhibits as well including embroidered postcards and banners from the World Wars.

It was a very nice visit and the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly, not only about the collection but also about the history of the hall so well worth a visit if you are in the area.

After Lancashire I met up with my oldest friend, Sue, celebrating 40 years since we first met at Polytechnic. We had a brilliant time catching up, we haven’t really changed a bit!

I have had a quick trip back to Ellen’s to do some car sorting. I got Katy stuck on a gate a few weeks ago but am pleased to say that my car bodywork skills are good enough that I was able to mend the damage, and some more flower stickers covered up the slight difference in paint! Also met up with a few of the medieval group for a day’s event at Nottingham.

I am now at my final campsite of this summer, back in the Peak District for my last week in Katy. I have finally got the cushion inners and have bought a new privacy curtain for when I am sitting in the back reading. I am also trying out Jacky’s awning tent to see how it works compared to my little tent.

I have been having some great walks with stunning views, the drive here was wonderful and I am surrounded by lovely hills again.

I have more museum visits to share with you so the next post will be that or Peak District views. Until next time, have fun, take care stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Millions of needles …

As a keen seamstress I do have my fair share of needles for all purposes but have never really thought much about where they come from. At the Clent Hills camp site there was a brochure for the National Needle Museum in Redditch, just a short drive away, so I thought I would stop off and visit.

The museum was fascinating, it is housed in the original needle factory, dating from the late 1700s when the processes were driven by water. Redditch produced millions of needles, about 90% of the world’s production, and they were exported worldwide.

This meant that there were gorgeous displays made for national and international exhibitions. The companies also made surgical needles and fishing hooks.

There were also some great examples of how needles were used, from the textile group display of current craft on the first floor to examples of vintage craft.

It was fascinating to see the displays of needle packaging and needle cases over time.

If you are in the area it is well worth a visit. We are now back from Whitby where we had a lovely time as always and met some new people. I have bought lots of fab new jewellery for my latest outfits so will put together a post about the event when I can next access good internet.

I am about to leave Ellen’s now and go to my beloved Peak District for a few days. Normal UK weather has been resumed and it is forecast to be around 17 degrees and showers for the rest of the week!

Hope that you have a good week ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Another retirement project

Although I said the last one would be my final post from Spain I managed to find some time to achieve another one of my targets for this stay. It is nice to have targets, personal ones though, not the sort that other people set that are to do with pressure on you.

One of my long held wishes for my retirement has been to do some designing of embroidery and goldwork patterns. I don’t really consider myself a very creative person. I do make things, and I love choosing fabrics and embellishments. Although I think that I have a a good sense of what goes together, I only work with other people’s patterns so I want to develop my design skills as well.

I set myself the target of designing one piece from the many wonderful things that we saw at the Alhambra. I narrowed it down to three pieces in that post and choose this one below to develop into a design.

It is only a very small design, measuring 24 stitches across so it shouldn’t take me too long to stitch. I have very much enjoyed the design process. Although it is quite a simple design it took me about two hours to do, testing out various ways of reproducing the patterns in blackwork.

Notice I have been using my lovely Alhambra design rubber during the process here!

I have had to make quite a few compromises, as blackwork is all straight lines. I did initially try to work out something for the outside edges of the plasterwork, however it ended up looking at bit too messy. I felt it took away from the symmetry of the centre of the plasterwork as well.

The final design will include some filling stitches and some seed beads, denoted by the small circles on the buds.

I used one of my blackwork books for inspiration on design and filling stitches.

It contains a very useful library of filling stitches to choose from.

The design process was helped by using this free gift from a couple of years ago which was very helpful for structuring the motif.

I will be leaving this until I come back to Spain, I am packing some things to take on this year’s UK tour but they will mainly be cross stitch ornaments, got to get ahead with those for this year. I am planning to stitch it on some sparkly Aida from stash.

I am also going to set myself another target for designing for my next stay here in autumn. I am thinking of some goldwork based on the amazing chapel at the Ducal Palace in Gandia or the gate in Exeter cathedral. My inspiration will come from one of these photos.

I am not planning to do the angels in this photo but love the design framing it and am thinking maybe on blue silk with tiny beads for the stars.

I would not attempt the whole of this but maybe just the little motif below would be good to do.

So this really will be my last post from Spain, see you all when I get back across the border! Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The campervan cushions…at last!

I know that I have been promising you pictures of the cushions for the last couple of months and I finally finished the last one yesterday. I have been having a quiet weekend sorting things out and finishing up all my projects so I can finally share them. I thought it would be useful to do a little tutorial as well for the VW van. There are lots of pictures of these cushions available but I couldn’t find a ‘how to tutorial’, so thought I would share one here.

I drew my own template using the pictures I found for inspiration. My cushion cover is 14 by 14 inches so my backing fabric started at 16 by 16 then I trimmed it down. I drew the whole van and then used tracing paper for each individual part of the van. Then comes the fun part of choosing all of the fabrics!

I chose to use double sided interfacing to stick down the pieces onto the backing fabric. You could just sew them straight on but as I wanted to machine zig zag round the edges of some pieces and hand stitch on others it makes it more stable.

I did the ziz zags first, then the hand stitching and embellishments. The hand embroidery is all chain stitch. I have used a lot of different things from stash for these cushions, the cute little flowers come from the haberdashers here and I have them in different sizes and colours. The other laces and ric rac I have just picked up over the years, some of it is from The Range in the UK which always has great lace.

Once it is embellished it is time to make the back of the cushion. I always make envelope backs as they are the easiest method. The backing fabric is from Rose and Hubble, they have now stopped making it but you can still find plenty on Ebay. It comes in about 6 colours.

You need to cut the piece longer then the cushion by about 6 inches the give a generous overlap. I then seam both edges and then stitch the overlap together before stitching back and front of the cushion together. All cushion backs were made the same way.

For the second cushion I used some hexagons that I had in stash and just sewed them very carefully on to the backing fabric. This fabric was actually a cushion cover bought in the local Merca China homewares store. It seems a little illogical to buy a cushion cover then cut it up but it was the easiest and cheapest way of getting fabric.

The final cushion was a caravan pattern. This ended up being only a 12 by 12 inch one as I melted a bit of the fabric as the iron was too hot.. oops!

I have made smaller versions of a similar one from a free pattern by Flamingo Toes as embroidered hangings but this was a free pattern for a pot holder from Sewing4free. I combined elements of the two designs they had, and used the same tracing paper and applique technique as before. The only difference was the machine zig zag was done as the final step before making up the cushion.

I am so pleased with them and can’t wait to sort out the van when I get back. I also have bunting and fairly lights and a pretty throw that will double up as an awning/sunshade over the back doors. I have been looking at drive away awnings but they are really expensive and as I will have my tent with me for this year am going to wait and think about whether I really need one.

I will be back soon with a post about the new Steampunk outfit, am very pleased that everything is finished and I still have a week to go! Felling very organised 😉

I hope that you are having a nice weekend, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.