Saturday, 30 June 2012

Dead Sewing machine

It went wrong yesterday evening and has to be mended...I'm feeling bereft...I hadn't realised quite how important it had become to get my daily sewing fix.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Are we excited? Yes we are! Popular Patchwork Magazine

At last I can reveal something I have been rather excited about for some time now.

 This month's edition of Popular Patchwork ( July - available right now) features one of my designs. It isn't on the front cover, it is lurking inside, but hey, have to start somewhere. The design featured is my Kimono Case - it can hold all your sewing bits and pieces/templates/A4 cutting board etc. and my own personal version weighs a ton I can fit so much into it. When I first made one I did it just to use the kimono somewhere, since then I have refined the design, made its carrying capacity greater and now you would have to prise my case from my cold dead hands I love it so much. I'm teaching how to make it at Lady Sew and Sew again in the Autumn, so if you would rather learn 'in the flesh', you can book a place at my class on their website.


Are we excited? You bet!

Friday, 22 June 2012

In between visitors

Open Studios fortnight is almost over, two more days to go. It has been affected by the foul weather, noticeably more visitors on sunny afternoons! Last year I was painting during the fortnight, but that wasn't the simplest thing to do in between visitors as the paint would dry ( it was hot last year) and I would loose concentration. This year I have some sewing projects on the go, things I can easily put down and pick up again. Firstly my Christmas runner, hanging and table mat - the first stages of which you saw earlier - now all complete and soon to be joined by a matching knee quilt.

  Secondly the Embroidered Garden project - here comes a butterfly.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Night Sounds

The weather this year has not been pleasant, colder, windier and wetter than usual, but it has its pleasures. Something I have really missed over the past few years of drought is waking up in the night to the sound of rain.

There is something I find rather comforting about the sound of gently persistent rain in the early dawn, especially at this time of year. One can almost hear the plants sighing with pleasure, digging their roots into soft wet soil, lifting their leaves to catch the drops. Strong wind buffeting the house in the darkness makes me unsettled, but gentle plopping and trickling of night-time rain is a turn over, snuggle down and go back to sleep sound.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Line drying and a day of SUNSHINE in the garden

We have had some sunshine.Yesterday and again today. Last night the lowest it went to was 8, a significant improvement on the 4 and 5 of last week. I know the rain will be back tomorrow so everything that doesn't move is being washed and hung on the line today. Something deeply satisfying about line drying washing. The first day it is warm and windy enough in Spring to properly dry things- rather than half dry them- is a real thrill. We have Red Kites here- big birds with a wing span as wide as your outstretched arms and they are supreme scavengers. Every time I  hang out some washing they come and have a look- just in case I leave behind some morsel worth having or fail to peg a sock properly, socks make excellent nest linings. A bonus having these huge birds ducking and weaving around above me as I peg out the washing with my  coloured pegs. I love my coloured pegs, they cheer me up on gloomy drying days and  make all the boring black socks look so much more interesting. I'm hoping the swifts will be around today- not seen or heard them for over a week now. The weather has been so very horrible, cold, wet and very windy, I'm worried they have gone elsewhere and failed to breed. I love the swifts, their racing flight and wild calls: they arrive the first week in May and usually stay until late July. This year we have five birds, which is a return to previous form, we had gone down to three, but not a sign or sound of them for ages...Summer without a swift call just isn't right. Proof of how very cold and damp it has been is my garlic bed- absolutely devastated by rust. I shall lift some of the bulbs today and see how big they are, they should be fine, but very annoying to have to lift them so early in the season. You can take the rust infected leaves off and leave the bulbs to grow with just the stems, but as every single leaf is affected I think early lifting is the only way forward- the rust grew really fast and suddenly during the downpours of the past few days. I shall try moving the garlic bed to a 'sunnier' spot next year, to prevent a repeat, but with weather as cold and wet as we have experienced thus far this Summer, rust is inevitable. Time to get out into the garden!

UPDATE: this afternoon 3 swifts flying, very high, over the garden calling occasionally to eachother, also a Buzzard, very,very high up indeed.
WARNING: Never, ever leave creeping Buttercup in your flower beds because you 
" love Buttercups".
 Four sacks of it, FOUR SACKS.
The garlic bulbs were tiny, I read that if you leave just the stems they will continue to grow, so, that is what I have done- they look really sad though.

Photos of some of my favourite June plants and colours  

and of progress with the raised beds...plenty to do still, but the first section of garden is almost sorted, despite the best efforts of the weather.

But look, a poppy...a poppy with big fat flower buds...

 All my annual poppies are tiny,weedy things starved of sunshine and not worth keeping, unlike last year, except for this one, growing in stones, on top of an ants' nest, right in the middle of the step up to the terrace. I nearly pulled it up a week or so ago as it is right in the way, but glad I didn't as it is the Best ( and only) Poppy In The Garden.

Thursday, 14 June 2012


I have to apologise for the ropey photos ( the state of the floor of my conservatory in the background leaves quite a bit to be desired too) but I was a just a little bit chirpy about how these projects are turning out and wanted to do some pictures RIGHT AWAY. 

First some pomegranates and leaves for the next little tree in the embroidered garden. 

 Second my new Christmas design- yes, I know it is June, but patterns have to be worked out well before the event! Thought it would feel very wrong making festive things in June, but the weather has been so vile I've  found it rather cheering. Not finished yet, photos really rushed, just wanted to share it before I burst with excitement. I love these fabrics, from Danish firm Stof- really funky,  not standard issue festive, but the strong colour and graphic patterns really hit the spot for me.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

One thing leads to another.

A while back I found a frame in oxfam that had a box at the back. It was full of rather grim pot pourri, but remembering the fun I had making my "Revenge Tragedy" box ( see left), I snapped it up, emptied out the sad wood shavings and slice of orange and thought about what I could make to go in it.
 Something needleworked perhaps....on a recent trip to Chichester I re-visited Parham House. Not been there since I was a teenager but always meant to return as it is one of the loveliest houses I have ever visited. I really like Elizabethan houses- the light, the plasterwork, the woodwork, the atmosphere- Parham has all of them in spades but it also has one of the finest collections of 16/17 century textiles in the country. So exciting to see it all again- I remembered how I had gone straight home after my first visit so many years ago and started working on a flame stitch cushion cover, using a pattern from the flame stitch bed curtains of the main bedroom. I was inspired again, but wasn't sure quite how to put my inspiration to practical use. Today I decided. I would make some more 'boxes' using the little frame as the first one.

 I lined the box frame, embroidered a backing


and then wondered what to do next. 


I wanted to use ideas started by the embroideries at Parham but not to just reproduce a period design. One of the things I love about some early embroidered pieces are the imaginary worlds they lead you into- gardens with elaborate fountains, deer and gigantic butterflies...yes, I would make a garden and I would start with an orange tree that would stand in an ornate Delft pot.


 After making some leaves I realised the awful truth. No orange tree, let alone a whole a garden, will fit into a three and a half inch square frame. 


So, one thing has led to another. Now I'm thinking a series of frames, with different aspects of a garden in each...which gives me way more scope for some fun. The first frame will have one of those BIG insects in it and the orange tree will have a frame of its own, with a flame stitch surround. I'm very excited about this little project, it will take some time, and I need to find enough frames and adapt them, but I think it will be fun.