Sunday, 18 November 2018

Not just for Christmas

The inspirational Minki Kim published her second book Diary in Stitches recently.  Its full of design ideas and patterns for the type of small gift I like to make for Christmas fairs at this time of year. I made these Christmassy bookmarks using some of the festive patterns in the book.  A friend gave me some strips of very thick cardboard just right for the inside stiffening and I just cut strips of linen and cotton print to fit and stitched them together.  Its best to do the embroidery before cutting the linen to size.  Use an erasable pen.

These second lot are slightly smaller and don't have the edge stitching.  I do think the edging makes them look for finished so if I make more I'll make them slightly bigger so there's room for the stitching.  Books are the best type of Christmas gift as far as I'm concerned.  I loved to get an annual when I was a child and still enjoy dipping into a long wanted title on Christmas morning..... though usually I've bought it for myself!!!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Autumn decoration

October is the start of the crafting season - in my life anyway as Christmas isn't far away.  And a change of season is the cue to bring out my autumn decorations.  It seems this autumn's must have is the white mini pumpkin.  They are in all the most beautiful Instagram photos.  I think they may be called Mini Boos but they haven't reached us up here in North Wales.  So I thought to make my own.  Its an easy crochet pattern I found at Plant June and you can make two or three in an evening - well, perhaps crochet one evening and put together the next.  June crocheted her stalks and so did I previously, but for my little white Boos I used a small stick from the garden or a cinnamon stick and a die cut felt leaf hot glued in place.

Next I stitched acorns using this pattern from Tatiana Maximenko.  You might have seen I used her pattern for the mushrooms I photographed for my last post.  Tatiana's patterns are beautiful, simple and photographed in detail to help you in your sewing.  Her stitching is perfect and I must admit it needs time and patience to achieve anywhere near the same results. I need to try a few more as, of course, practise makes perfect - well as perfect as I can get.

My last project was somewhat easier to execute.  I was looking through my pile of Landscape magazine back issues for a cake recipe I remembered - I thought last year.  But I was distracted by the cover of a winter issue featuring decorations using Honesty seedpods.  I'd collected the dried pods earlier in the summer and they were stored in my shed waiting to have their seeds saved for next year.  I sacrificed a few to make these lovely window decorations.  I stuck the seeds to the "silver pennies" with a dot of liquid craft glue and then used the same to glue them into a flower shape.  When the sun shines through the window they light up!

Have you ever noticed the seedpods are three layers thick.  There is a stronger outer layer and inside is the silvery tissue paper thin layer with seeds on each side.  Such a clever design!  Its quite easy to peel the layers apart with your fingers and of course easy for the winds of autumn to separate those layers too and fling the seeds far and wide.  Isn't nature amazing.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Is there anyone out there!

Its the first of October and first thing this moring I walked out into my small garden to take a photo to post on my Instagram account.  The sun had just risen above the hills and lit up this lovely Japanese Anemone, absolutely at its best at the moment.  I decided now was the time to restart my blog.

Its been over a year since I last posted.  I've kept up my Instagram and occasionally my two Facebook pages during this time - they are easy - it only takes a photo and a few words and its done in just a couple of minutes.  Blogging however needs more thought, more words and perhaps more photos.  I need to be in the mood and I haven't been in the mood for all these months.  There are reasons of course, mainly family reasons.  But its a new month and a new start...... well not a new start, just a carrying on of what I considered my online diary since 2009.  I couldn't quite bring myself to let it go altogether, so here we are again.

I'm still crafting whenever I can - sewing is my thing at the moment.

Still watching the wildlife in my small garden and tramping the fields with my camera.


And still enjoying the wild spaces and attractions around me in North Wales.  So nothing much has changed but everything has changed. 

 I'll write it down here from now on and maybe, just maybe someone will read it.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

It's about time......

You know what I'm going to say.... it's about time I updated my blog! Summer has reached its peak and the season is due for a change! Last year was all about turning the jungle outside my back door back into a garden after almost 20 years of neglect. This year my handy handyman suggested the tumbledown shed could be cleared away and a new one built in its place. I quite liked the extremely "distressed" look of what was obviously once a wash-house but after a bit of persuasion I agreed.

And now its all but finished I have to admit I'm very pleased with it and am enjoying having a place to store all the junk that used to live outside my backdoor. And I really like the fact that its been cobbled together with a door found in a reclaim yard for £10, windows are second hand from someone who had had replacements,  the roof changed from corrugated iron to perspex to make the most of evening light, and the corrugated iron put to use as the back wall.

Someone sometime had painted this pretty floral decoration on the door - I would love to know where it came from.

I bought the gorgeous red geraniums from an NGS open garden we visited in July and have even bought some coloured solar lights after vowing I would never go in for garden lighting! But that's okay as they are inside the shed!

At the end of July I met up with my sister in Amsterdam for a short break. We took our lives in our hands walking about the city centre trying to avoid being run down by the bikes, scooters, cars and trams all vying for space on the busy streets.  Much more to my taste, we visited the great windmills at Zaanse Schans, a sort of open air museum, where we also watched clogs being made, resisted buying a pair (!) and bought cheese instead.

Then August has been all about gadding about with my sister visiting from Germany.  We managed a trip out on most days of her visit - we're very lucky to have many places worth visiting close enough for a half day trip. These are just a few.

A dash to the coast to watch the sunset. We found an escaped kite on the shoreline and got it into the sky again. We gave it to a passing family who after a bit of practice, also got it flying.

Port Sunlight in Cheshire was a lovely day out. So many beautiful houses to admire and a wander around the Lady Lever Art Gallery to admire some of my favourite Pre-Raphalite paintings.

And on a warm sunny afternoon we wandered about the beautiful garden at Nantclwyd y Dre, an ancient house restored and open to the public here in town. The garden is a work in progress being recreated by volunteers. Could have stayed there all day!

So with all this roaming around I haven't been that creative. However with Autumn on the way and Christmas looming in the distance I think I'd better start thinking about it!!!

But I haven't completely stayed away from my beloved sewing machine and my hooks. There are always gifts that need making. This one was for my new tablet that had to be bought after the BBC decided not to support iPlayer on my Kindle anymore. I can't manage without iPlayer in the evenings when I need to be at my Mother's house.

I made these two covered notebooks for my sister and her friend who both need to be planning for their retirements. It will be here before they know it - like it was for me!!

And I hooked this summery scarf for a friend's birthday. It was a total copy of one an Instagram friend posted on her feed. I just loved the style and yarn she had used so I'm hoping she thinks imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

And one more photo - I learned how to make these origami flowers and gave them as another birthday gift. Very easy but rather time consuming.

There have been other makes too of course since I last posted, but this will do for now. Its time to look forward not backward and there is much to do!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

May Day Catchup

Well April flew by and was surely a month of contrasts! We did have a few sunny days for walking on the beach and even a visit to the local nature reserve.

But there have been plenty of dull, cold and wet days just right for staying in and sewing. I discovered flex frames and gave them a go. I've always wanted to make little coin purses but have been put off those snap frames as they looked rather difficult and I didn't fancy all that glueing.

The flex frame is much easier and suitable for straightforward flat purses or the boxed corner kind. I found a nice pattern in this gorgeous Japanese craft book (don't worry it's the English version).

Anyway, it seems I missed Easter altogether here on the blog but I did enjoy making a few Eastery bits and bobs when I found Manuela's Etsy shop and her cute felties. These chickens were my favourites. I managed to machine stitch them rather than hand stitching as recommended in the pattern.

Okay, I know snails aren't normally an Easter image but they were so cute I couldn't resist! Could you!

The garden has come to life again and is demanding my attention.... rather more attention than I've been able to give and there's a lot of weeding to catch up on!

The trouble with leaving the blog for a month is there is much to catch up on - I think rather more than will fit into one blog post. So I'll finish now and hopefully write a bit more later.

But one more photo from the garden. These little creatures demand feeding every day now as they are busy with courting, nest building, egg laying and brood feeding. They are costing me a small fortune but they give so much pleasure I don't begrudge them one shilling! 

Friday, 31 March 2017

Sweetly Stitched

We celebrated Mothering Sunday last weekend here in the UK. My mother is 92 and not in good health so apart from flowers there is nothing she really wants. But I wanted to stitch something for the occasion and as I'd lost my phone case the week before decided to make one.  I based my make on a project for an eyeglasses case in Amy Sinibaldi's Sweetly Stitched Handmades

so I can fit it into the 2017 Sewing Book Challenge over on Instagram. However I have changed the design a bit by decorating the front with some sewing illustration. I've a Pinterest board of mid-century czechoslovakian matchbook labels - such wonderful designs - and adapted this boy and girl to fit in with the Mothers Day theme. I haven't tried to translate but guess these two labels are encouraging a healthy diet but I changed the cabbage into a bunch of flowers and the dish of yogurt(?) into a nice cuppa!

I liked the project so much I just had to try a few more and this time did use Amy's design. Pretty happy with how they turned out. And of course they don't have to be for glasses. My phone fits perfectly into one and I'm sure you can think of other uses - a few sewing notions or crochet hooks for crafting on the go comes to my mind. I like to have a few small items on hand for gifting and these fit the bill nicely.

After all that stitching I awarded myself a Mothers Day treat of a Sunday afternoon walk by the Alwen Reservoir.

After watching an item on BBCs Gardeners World the Friday before I was on the lookout for Lichens and Mosses as I seen lots there before. I wasn't disappointed - just look at those colours!

Then in the evening it was lovely to see that very same area featured on another BBC programme Countryfile.

PS - I found my phone case under a chair a few days later whilst looking for something else!!! Isn't it always the way! 😄

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Post Haste Challenge Bag


On the last day of the month I'm fitting in my single project for the monthly 2017 Sewing Book Challenge over on Instagram. I only managed one challenge make in February - why does this month always seem to fly by so quickly? It is only 2 days shorter than the other months!!

The Long Handled Bag pattern is from Sew Illustrated by Minki Kim and Kristin Esser and is a gift for a sister whose life has suddenly been turned upsidedown - and not in a good way. I'm hoping the cheerful print and gingham will in some way brighten the dark days she is going through at the moment - and also be useful for carrying little comfort essentials on hospital trips.

Although I used the bag pattern straight from the book I changed the surface decoration as I was bowled over by the gorgeous Stitched Rose Bag Minki blogged last week and tried a simplified version of her design. Because I wanted to get the bag finished quickly I used a patchwork "cheater print" from LECIEN I'd been hoarding for a year or so. And I had a large reel of woven braid found in a charity shop which was just the right colours and the perfect width for the handles.

I used stamps for the flower embroidery, though I didn't actually stamp on the fabric but used a light box to trace the outline image on the stamp set's acetate holding sheet straight onto the linen with a Frixon pen.

And I added a bit of colour with Copic markers - if you try this be careful to colour with the lightest touch and pale colours so as to prevent any bleeding over the stitched lines. It all came together very nicely and was finished in one day - though I have to admit rather late in the day! Now I just need to get it to the Post Office post haste!


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