Sunday, 17 April 2016

Happy Spring!

There are Spring flowers to be found in every corner of the garden this week - you just need to seek them out amongst the newly emerging weeds and the dead stuff from last year waiting to be cleared away. These violets grow in the corners of some stone steps and through the cracks in concrete paths so are easily missed.

The Snakeshead Fritillary is, as always, gorgeous and still manages to push through the rough grass. But of course it is a meadow flower so maybe my neglect is just what it needs.

I started some much needed cutting back and pruning this weekend as well as weeding. The willows I grew from twigs have been left far too much to their own devices and some drastic reduction was needed. I feel bad about cutting down so many catkins but there are still plenty left for the bees - though only the large solitary bumble bees seem to be out and about so far.

It is still cold - the mountains were white this morning - but the snow soon disappeared and the sun feels quite warm when you are in it. I did see a butterfly high up on the laurel last week fluttering from flower to flower. I think it was a Peacock wakened from its hibernation by the sun. I hope it survived the cold nights we've had the last couple of days.

Spring is also the start of the craft fair season and I've signed up for one the middle of next month so really need to start creating. I've a bit more time at the moment as I've given up one of my part time jobs and until I find something else there are two more days a week I can sew or hook or stamp.

Inspired by that Peacock butterfly I have made a start on some stock. I even tried a bit of free-motion embroidery - its been so long since I've done any I couldn't even remember how to set my machine up. Thank goodness for Pinterest! Methinks much practice is in order, but luckily this technique is very forgiving. :o)

Friday, 11 March 2016

Ydych chi'n siarad Cymraeg? (Do you speak Welsh?)

My standard answer is dypin bach (a little) but in fact I'm afraid to say it should be dypin bach iawn iawn (very very ) little!  But I've ingested the language and know and understand many words and everyday phrases from being born and bred in this part of Wales.  And some phrases are part of life, like this one -  "would you like a cuppa".

A friend has suggested I try some picture designs using Welsh phrases or words and here are a few I've embroidered this week. This one is a line from the lovely Welsh song Calon Lan and translates as I ask for a happy heart.

Gee Ceffyl Bach (Gee up little horse) is a nursery rhyme all Welsh mothers sing to the baby on her knee, bumping him/her up and down like a pony and at the end of the rhyme the excited baby is dropped between the knees when 'falling into the river'. Here are two ladies doing exactly what I did with my son 40-odd years ago!

These are the first two lines of a lullaby that goes like this "You are a thousand times more beautiful than the white rose; Or the red rose on the brow of the hill; Or the proud swan swimming the lake, My little baby."

And lastly the title of a very famous Welsh hymn "Ar hyd y nos", (All through the night). I didn't want to use the obvious words/phrases usually seen in Welsh gift shops and craft fairs, ie, Cwtch (which is not much used in North Wales), Croeso, Cariad, Hiraeth, etc so I'm hoping these go down well.... or am I completely off track! If you see this Gill what do you think?

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Harbingers of Spring

I posted this on my facebook page today in the hope that winter really is gone. However in the UK we all know we could easily face snow storms or torrential rain or inch thick ice tomorrow or the day after or next week or even next month. But its nature and our gardens that convince us Spring really is springing.

I've been using some spring-like colours to crochet too.  I don't usually make much for babies or young children but I read a blog post about what sells at craft fairs and it seems baby makes are popular so I thought I'd try a few items. I found the pattern for these pretty rattles and balls in Greta's Etsy shop ATERGcrochet. I used Petra No3 crochet cotton and bought some rattle inserts on ebay.

Afriend said she would love a jar full of the flower rattles for her windowsill but they are rather time consuming to make - all those colour changes - so it wouldn't be practical time and price wise to make them in large enough numbers to fill vases - if you know what I mean.

Of course you could simplify by using fewer colours and I might try one to see how it works out. On a practical note, I would love to have jingle bells inside instead of a rattle but I haven't been able to find any inserts small enough or make something suitable. If anyone knows of a supplier of jingle bell inserts about an inch square do let me know.

Monday, 15 February 2016

PS I Love You

I made another zip purse/pouch (don't really like that word pouch!), intending to post on Valentine's Day but for various reasons it didn't happen. But I'm going to blog it anyway and damn the consequences!

As travelling crafter I'm always looking for plastic bags to put bits and pieces in but this is much nicer..... Oh yes, I don't have a significant other to give this little love token to so I'm having it! When I saw the heart block idea on Pinterest  the first thought that came into my head was the Beatles song and I Googled it to see when it was released as I can play it word perfect in my head. But what came up were pages and pages of links about a film I'd never heard of.

After further investigation I found it to be the B-side of Love Me Do released in October 1962 and I remembered it so well as it was the first single I ever bought.  Both sides were played over and over in my bedroom on a tiny record player I'd received for my birthday, no doubt driving my parents mad!! Ah, memories memories!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Everything Stops for Tea!

Still enjoying my little embroidery projects, I worked this in just a few evenings.  Whilst I do prefer my projects to have a practical use, a small panel does make a nice gift if you know someone who would appreciate something handmade. And of course you can make it personal to that person. I know quite a few people for whom this one would be perfect!!! I'm sure you do too. :o)

You could of course put the panel in a frame but I saw this way of hanging a project on Claire's Sweet Birdy Love blog last year and wanted to try it. It was a steep learning curve and I made a few errors along the way - including trapping my thumb in the wire cutters! But the next one will be better, not least because I'll buy wire that is easier to bend. I used a wire coat hanger and it was very difficult to work with.

And inbetween times I'm working these little patches that will eventually turn into a baby quilt I have planned. I much prefer having more than one project on the go as it stops me getting bored - but then of course there is the danger of nothing getting finished!!! But knowing there is a definite recipient out there and a definite time scale is an incentive to keep going, so I'm not bored yet!

I used these little drawings for my patterns.  Some of them have been slightly altered so they would fit into the square patch.  Designed by my favourite embroiderer Priscilla Mary Warner in the Dryad Press  leaflet Embroidery for the Nursery.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

I've squirrelled it away....

I finished a little gift for my friend to give her friend. Apparently they have a squirrel thing going on between them so I hope they both like it. I like making zip purses - they are so useful for storing bits and bobs. This one is big enough for pens and pencils.

I found the squirrel design in an old Dryad Press leaflet entitled Embroidered Dresses for Children. Its written by one of my very favourite embroiderers Priscilla Mary Warner and features five sweet little girls' dresses decorated with embroidered motifs 1950s style. This gingham pinafore is my favourite. Sadly I fear no little girl would submit to wearing such an outfit nowadays. 

And if you read my last post, you might like to see the finished autumn leaf panel. I really enjoyed working it. A quick and easy project that encouraged me to carry on with another gift using embroidery - a small pram/car seat quilt. Already started it!! :o)

Photographed on yet another dull and grey day - even outdoors doesn't produce a particularly good image at the moment!  But we do have the occasional sunny day, for example last Friday was beautiful! I sneaked off by myself to walk on the beach.

Hmm, a shell embroidery is floating around in my head - perhaps nearer the summer!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Colour for a Grey January

Here we are half way through January already and not a project finished! However I have finished the first stage of my first stitching for the first month. I don't know about you but I've always thought of the months of the year in colour form and this year January is definitely grey. However I wanted something more colourful to start the year and decided on an Autumn theme (and why not!). And that meant I could use the pieces of old (mainly Welsh) wool blankets I've been collecting. 

Its quite a simple design - simple shapes and easy basic embroidery stitches. I haven't decided on the finished product yet.... could be cushion, lap blanket, wall hanging, but I won't be putting it behind glass as I love the raised texture of the appliqued leaves.

The next step is backing and I think there will be simple quilting. I'm adding a layer of cotton batting between the blanket and grey flannel backing.

I used vintage threads to embroider too. Some are labelled for crochet, some knitting silk, and some for embroidery. I like that all the materials I've used, except the batting, are reused/recycled.

I've already got two more projects planned - both using embroidery in some way. A friend has asked for a gift for her friend featuring a squirrel and there is a new baby on the horizon to stitch for. I'd like 2016 to be my year of embroidery but we'll see how it goes.

Love to know what your New Year projects are.... and perhaps see a photo or two when completed!


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