Sunday 4 December 2016

November in the Garden

Well November passed in a flash! We had some gorgeous days and some wet ones but luckily I was able to rake up the leaves in front of my mother's house before they got too wet and soggy. As you can see there were rather a lot - this picture shows them during mid-rake. There seemed to be more than ever this year and believe me there were a lot more than shown here.

As well as the grass in front of the house there's the drive and the border to clear too. I did have company though - the birds really enjoyed mooching around picking out little tidbits as I raked and of course my most helpful companions were these two. Don't know what I'd do without them!

Blue plastic rake is much better at leaf raking than a metal one which just gets clogged up with the leaves, and Red snow scoop is her perfect partner.

Whilst I was raking a flash of gold caught the corner of my eye. When I went to investigate I found a beech leaf on the path caught in a ray of sunshine. It really did look like it was coated in gold leaf (no pun intended!!) November 2016 has certainly been a good one for catching autumn's beauty in the camera lens.

Can't resist sharing a few more photos.....

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Supermoon Monday

Okay! We've had all our September family birthdays; we've had Halloween, and Bonfire Night; and this last week has seen Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday passing in their turn. Every year I get the feeling this is the right time to turn thoughts to the festive season and gift ideas. And tonight there was a supermoon which, apparently, was the largest since 1948, which just happens to be the year I was born!  I think its an omen! Tomorrow let the stitching begin!

I have made a start - I took some inspiration from Minki and Kristin's fabulous book Sew Illustrated and stitched a couple of coaster sets using patterns in the book.  Seeing photos on my Instagram account my sister ordered her Christmas gift and now I have a suspicion "coasters" will be written against quite a few names on my gift list this year! And they look so nice tied up with a matching gift tag don't you think!.

I chose some suitable images from my stamp collection and a piece of lovely red gingham for the Christmas coaster set. Its easy to transfer designs to the fabric by stamping them with a light neutral colour ink like grey or brown and machine stitching over the inked lines. However my preferred way to transfer the patterns is to use the images printed on the stamps' acetate holding sheet and trace them with an erasable pen. Use a light box if you have one or, in the traditional way, tape to a window. Outline stamps work best.

I've also made some bookmarks using stamps.  They are perfect little personal extras to slip in with a gift book - and who doesn't enjoy a new book at Christmas. Now, I need a little Pinterest browsing to fill up some of those other empty spaces on my 'to-make' gift list. Time is slipping past so quickly.... I thought I was writing this post at the beginning of the month but suddenly find its already half way through!!! Agh!!

Saturday 1 October 2016

September's Song

September is ending and its been mostly sunny and warm here in North Wales. Its a month for gathering in what you can from garden and hedgerows and stashing the bounty away for winter. The ancient pear tree in my mother's garden still produces fruit but much of it looks uninviting as the skins are scabby and mottled but underneath the flesh is sweety and juicy. Perfect for a fruit crumble pudding or two.

As I mentioned in my August post, my little garden is being resurected and is now almost finished. Its rather bare of plants at the moment but I'm hoping next Spring perennials and bulbs I put in many years ago will stir into life and I will see exactly which patches of earth need filling.

There's slightly more paving than I would have planned myself (I let my handyman have a bit of a freehand as there was so much to do) but I have space for plenty of things in pots now! And I've a sunny spot for sitting with my crochet if weather and time permits. I'm joining in the 60 Million Trebles project and am currently on my third blanket.

I'm hoping that Mr Handyman will return next year to put up a bit of trellis along the boundary to make my space a bit more private and there's an old shed that could do with a bit of work!

I'm still enjoying the sewing illustration style of applique and recently stitched a small thankyou for Mr Handyman's birthday using Altenew's Garden Grow stamp set for inspriation. 

 And there have been a few more birthday gifts needed - September is a busy birthday month for our family!

Sunday 28 August 2016

Sewing and Gardening in August

Does anyone else get excited by a new teatowel design at our local B&M Bargains shop? No, I thought not! But I do have my reasons - they are perfect for upcycling into these......

..... my teatowel bunnies, teddies and pussy cats. The fabric is perfect for these little toys as its soft, cuddly and of course made to be washable. They come in sets of three - one plain (usually with a bit of embroidery, though this one has a little applied printed panel), one patterned in gingham or check, and one waffle weave. All tied up with a nice piece of cotton braid and a bonus of length of jumbo ric-rac.

I unpick everything including the seams and put them in the wash, where they shrink slightly and form a tighter weave. To be honest the waffle weave towel is not suitable for toys - I've tried and it unravels itself too much for sewing good seams in such small items, but I have used it as backing for projects such as mug rugs, coasters and placemats. It also makes a reasonable substitute wadding for a small quilted project. You could of course just use it as a teatowel - in that case don't unpick!!!

As well as toy making, August has been all about sewing illustration still. I'm absolutely loving it and some may say have become slightly obsessed! I'm continually thinking of new images (including stamped images) to sew. These above have Welsh names with the English translation. It all started with my discovery of Minki Kim's blog. And then her newly published book which I purchased on its day of publication and stitched that little sewing machine pincushion on the same day!

August 2016 has also been the month my long long neglected and overgrown garden has come back to life with the aid of a very handy handyman friend. Ok, I admit he did 99% of the hard work! The other 1% has been me doing a bit of planting and weeding and the garden reviving itself. For instance these beautiful feverfew plants have grown completely by themselves from seeds lying dormant in the soil for years. Isn't nature miraculous!

Monday 8 August 2016

First things............

First thing is to thank my lovely blog friends Simone, Lin and Mrs A for their so so kind comments on my last long overdue blog post. You are wonderful people!

And I don't know about you but my first thing most mornings (if I have time) is to try to catch up with everything on line - Facebook, Instagram, Email, Pinterest, Twitter, etc, etc, etc. This is combined with having my breakfast but in a twinkling of an eye a couple of hours whizzes past and its 10.00am already!

I'm not a coffee lover but I rather wish I was as apparently it gets one going for the rest of the day - and I need to get going!! Especially on a day that is meant for sewing/crafting. Today is a charity shop day and I'll be off in an hour or so but I'm making time for a blog post first.

I made the top coffee picture for my sister who is definitely a coffee addict and reaction on Instagram persuaded me to stitch a couple more to add to my gifty stock. I'm really loving this "sewing illustration" way of making fabric pictures. I recently bought a coffee themed stamp set from Altenew which is just right for stitching. I do hope a "tea set" is somewhere in the pipeline for release!

Sunday 17 July 2016

Happy Summer!

Its been a while - my last post had the title Happy Spring and now we are in July and it is apparently Summer. We are enjoying sunny days and blue skies (as on this day in May at Llandudno) but also many grey days and lots and lots of rain.

I've been busy making of course and trying to keep the garden in some sort of order, as well as working part time, volunteering in the charity shop and sharing the care of my frail 92 year old mother. I've also been keeping in touch on line via my social media accounts - my Facebook page is up to date, I occasionally "do" Twitter and when I inherited a smartphone from my nephew I was finally able to have an Instagram account - something I'd been wanting for some time.  However my blog has been neglected and I'm sorry but I have been determined to catch up with myself before Autumn sets in!!!!!!! Today is that day.

I'm thinking I can't possibly update on everything so here are just a few things I've made. I made this little quilt for a friend's first baby. I actually started and blogged the little embroidered patches in January though the quilt was't put together and sent off until May. I hadn't made a quilt in years so this small project was just right. And apparently baby Mai and Mum in Hawaii love it.

And this little pin tray says it all where my crafting time is concerned - embroidery, hand and machine has been my love over the last few months. 

I've been practising my machine 'handwriting' a lot and have been able to use some of my stamps and dies for applique.

I gained a new stitching hero too - Minki Kim at Minki's Work Table. I've found so much inspiration on her blog and excitingly there's a book due for publication in September - can't wait!

The other time consumer is the garden of course. With all the rain the garden has been growing apace and is rather turning into a green jungle - apparently its the same all over the country at the moment. Turn your back on a weed for five minutes and it will always take advantage. But my old faithfuls still seem to fight their way through - like the verbascum and David Austin rose above.

The other big thing at the moment is the raising from the dead of my own small back garden. Over the last 15 or so years (yes YEARS!) I've completely ignored it in favour of my Mum's large garden. But this spring I found a strong and reliable friend of a friend who was willing to take on the task clearing and reviving this small patch.  Work is still in progress and although I didn't take any "before" photos through shame, I have taken a few along the way to this interim stage.

And I'm delighted to see the birds and some beautiful plants have been hiding away all this time and have now come into the light so to speak.

There haven't been many days out or excursions but my sister arrived at the weekend for a month's stay at my Mum's so if the weather behaves I hope we can be out and about a bit. I'll be putting my camera in my bag to record anything photogenic along the way but in the meantime if you have stuck with me and have occasionally wondered where I was you might like to take a look at either my crafty facebook page or my Instagram feed. And there's a link to my personal Facebook at the top of this page.

See you soon!!! I promise!

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?


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