Saturday, 30 April 2011

Productive days off work...

I am enjoying the most fantastically relaxing and productive break from work! Since we got back from Margaret's we've slept late, read, gardened, watched TV and had friends over for food. I have also had time to do lots of cross stitch, knitting and even some quilting! The gardening is pretty dull at present - lots of clearing and digging, but nothing pretty (yet!). But the crafting is most definitely pretty!

First I should share a progress picture of Fruit Bellpull which I took this afternoon - although I haven't actually done any stitching on it since we were in Birmingham:

I actually remembered to take the photos outside in the sunshine today, so the colours look really lovely! I used my newly constructed garden bench as a back drop:

I bought the bench at Coughton Court last summer. We popped it in the loft over the winter and I finally unpacked it and put it together a few days ago. Turns out I only had to tighten 9 nuts, the easiest flat packed furniture I've ever put together!! Next to Fruit Bellpull is the scarf I've been knitting. It's about half done now - it would be much longer, but I had to pull out about 6 inches last night, as I realised I'm managed to reverse the pattern part way up. Grrrr! I love the middle cable:

I also pulled out a really old WIP - Eeyore's Problem by Designer Stitches. I last worked on it in September 2009. My taste in cross stitch has changed considerably over the years and I don't think I'd pick something this bright (or on aida) anymore, but I still love this design:

I've also started ANOTHER quilting project. For which I am blaming Joy - her lovely recent posts have been very inspiring! (I now have three quilts on the go, worrying as I've never, ever finished a quilting project bigger than my four hearts cushion... oh well, I do enjoy having lots of WIPs on the go). Yesterday I spent HOURS cutting it out. Not that it was complicated, it's just the first time I've used Moda fabric (Rural Jardin by French General), and I was petrified I'd cut it out wrong.... It's for a simple (and allegedly quick) pattern that I bought at Quilting Chicks in Cortez when we were on holiday in the US last year, called 'The Teacher's Pet'. Apparently the quilt top can be cut out and sewn together in five hours, but not at the speed I cut it out!!! I've done 2 of the 4 seams on each of the blocks so far - and I can certainly say that it is going together very quickly. This is how it looks so far:

It seems it's another month for Blogoversaries - Edgar is celebrating the fourth blogoversary of Blacksheep's Bit of the Web with a giveaway - do go and have a look at his blog, his stitching is truly inspiring!

I think that's it for now. Only two more days of my extended break to go... I really need to fit in some more quilting, gardening, cross stitch, do a couple of jobs around the house and finally get some lace out. I may be a little busy...

Happy stitching x

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Easter travels and an Easter Happy Dance

We had a really lovely Easter weekend. On Friday we headed off to Birmingham to stay with Margaret (Eddy's mum). After a brief stop in Solihull for some necessary clothes shopping (ahem) and a very necessary coffee and cake, we sat around til late setting the world to rights. On Saturday we went to see Bill (Eddy's Grandad, who is 92), so that Bill could give Eddy 'all of Big Grandpa's chisels'. All THREE of them. To say that Margaret and I were crying with laughter would be an understatement! After we left Bill's, we picked up Paul (Eddy's Dad) from his care home (he has dementia), and took him home for lunch. He was delighted to see us all, and was exceptionally lucid, which was lovely. We sat in the sun in the garden, and I finished Harvest Time:

Harvest Time, (c) Blackbird Designs
Stitched on Stitches and Spice Tundra in GAST

On Sunday we went to Wightwick Manor, a National Trust property near Wolverhampton, for the day. It was built in 1887 and decorated in the fashionable style of the time - mostly William Morris, with de Morgan tiles and a really good smattering of Pre-Raphelite art. It was pure bliss!!! I have never seen so many William Morris wallpapers, curtains and upholstered furniture in one place! And the de Morgan tiles were just stunning. As for the drawings and paintings - wow!! This house was just jam packed with artwork and designs by my absolute favourite artists of all time (there must have been at least 10 or 15 Rossetti's dotted around...). I was in heaven. I did tell Eddy that I wanted him to buy the house for me ;)

Sadly, photography wasn't allowed in the house (for good reason, but it means I can't share the interior with you), but I got some shots of the outside and the gardens:

The flowers were lovely. I particularly loved the yellow rambling rose, covered in tiny, delicate flowers called rosa banksiae

and this tree peony:

In the grounds we saw this lovely bug house - or a 'Buckingham Place for insects', as Margaret put it... I feel inspired to try and construct something on a smaller scale in my garden!

That evening we went out for a lovely meal at a nearby pub, and once again sat up late chatting. Margaret helped me try out some lace knitting (and I now vaguely understand charted knitting patterns), and I also made great progress on Fruit Bellpull. But more on that later...

Happy stitching x

Thursday, 21 April 2011

It's spring, so clearly time for... PUMPKINS???

So my stitching never seems to follow the seasons. Christmas ornaments in August. Sunflowers in November. And pumpkins in the hottest April I've ever enjoyed!! A few weeks ago, when we went to my Mum and Dad's ruby wedding celebrations I wanted to take a small travelling project with me. Ed had bought me BBD's Harvest Time for Christmas, and I had a lovely bit of left over hand dyed linen that was just the right size. I'd bought the floss when I needed some threads for Hedgerow Birds, as I knew that it wouldn't be long before I HAD to start it.

After a major frogging incident this afternoon (I'd missed 6 rows out of the middle pumpkin. How??? Possibly because I stitched that bit in the garden while chatting to Mum and Dad!!), but after a couple of hours in front of the snooker this afternoon/evening I'm probably approaching the half way point:

Time for Harvest, (c) Blackbird Designs
Stitched in GAST Dark Chocolate, on Stitches and Spice Tundra

I also started TWs Fruit Bellpull (also with an autumnal theme) at the weekend. I've now completed the border around the apples square. I'm planning on stitching this one block at a time, to include the borders and BS. I sometimes find the final push of borders and BS is a TW a little, well, time consuming - so near yet so far, if you know what I mean! Anyway, here's a snap of that:

Teresa Wentzler's Fruit Bellpull
Stitched in DMC on Antique white Quaker cloth

Embarrassingly on such a sunny day I took these photos at dusk, so they are a little dark!

This weekend we are off to see Margaret in Birmingham. I've not decided which piece to take with my yet... maybe both of these - after all, we have the car!!

Have a lovely Easter, and hope everyone finds some stitching time x

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Loving this sunny spring!

Well the weather in the UK has been just amazing for the last few weeks, I swear that a couple of years ago we'd have been delighted with a bit of this in July and August! Sadly I've been busy at work (and getting back into the bad habit of working late), but I've made sure I've made the most of it at the weekends!

Last weekend it was my parents' Ruby Wedding anniversary, so we went back home to celebrate with them. I took the opportunity to take a couple of pieces in the be framed at my favourite framing shop in Lincoln. It'll be ages until I get back to pick them up, but I can't wait to see how they turn out. Patience is a virtue, I suppose...

On Saturday we had a party with close family and friends - 22 people in all - and took full advantage of the lovely sunny weather, spending most of the afternoon sat in the garden. My sister Michelle, Eddy and I organised the food allowing mum to chat to her guests - and everyone seemed to have a lovely time. I certainly did. On Sunday we ate delicious leftovers in the garden at lunchtime, and in the afternoon I caught up with one of my old school friends.

This weekend was also spent outside, busy sorting our garden. We tidied, weeded, trimmed and scattered new bark chippings in the front garden - I don't think it's ever looked this finished! I can't wait until my roses start to flower!

I also took some snaps of the flowers currently in bloom. I love primulas, and the apple blossom is just coming out.

Stitching wise I've been focusing on A New Beginning - and I've just got past the half way point. I took the photo outside, taking full advantage of the lovely sunlight!

I've also started two new pieces, but don't have photos of either, so I'll share those later in the week.

Happy Stitching x

Monday, 4 April 2011

April goals and TUSAL

It's time for another TUSAL! This month I added orts from Hedgerow Birds, A New Beginning and Holiday Holly Biscornu:

It's also a new month, so time to review those goals:

1) Finish Hedgerow Birds YES
2) work on another WIP YES - A New Beginning got a bit of work
3) knit the rest of the cardigan YES, and I finished sewing it up yesterday (admittedly in April, but I'm happy!)
4) make some lace (anything would do) On Friday (again in April) I finished the Christmas decoration
5) do some quilting YES, made a lovely quilt cover at the class I went to
6) start TW's Fruit Bell Pull, now I have all of the supplies Nope
7) I would also really like to get more of the biscornu done YES - another early April Happy Dance

Amazingly, in March and the first few days of April I had FIVE happy dances!!! I am amazed! I didn't get fruit bellpull started, but I can live with that.

in April I'd like to:

1) Get A New Beginning past the half way mark
2) Work on another WIP
3) Start fruit bell pull
4) Select and buy a chart for Helene's birth sampler
5) Make some lace
6) Do some knitting
7) Do some quilting

We'll see how that goes - on the plus side I do have nearly 2 weeks off over Easter!

Happy Stitching

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A weekend of happy dances

Wow, this week has just flown by! I worked far too late every night this week (leaving at 6.50 was early????), but made up for it over the weekend. On Friday night I set myself a little challenge - to totally finish three crafting projects before going to bed tonight - and despite spending most of the daytime running errands or gardening, I achieved it!!

On Friday I pulled out the lace Christmas decoration that I made at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate. Last November. All I needed to do to finish it was to sew in and tie off the ends... which I finished just as True Blood was coming on.

Yesterday it was the turn of Holiday Holly biscornu by The Sweetheart Tree. By bedtime I'd got it to the stage that it needed stuffing, and I finished it early this evening. It's my first ever biscornu, and I really enjoyed it - apart from the fact that the floss for the back stitch border and whip stitching was so close in colour to the fabric that I had trouble seeing the stitches. I see more biscornu in my future...

After that I put the last bit of sewing into my lovely blue cardigan, and added a pretty handmade button by Stuart Johnson, which I picked up at the lace event last weekend. The cardigan is lovely and warm (possibly a little warm for the current weather, but never mind - there's always a cold day not too far away!!). It fits brilliantly, but the sleeves are a little long. Not that that's a problem - it keeps my hands warm! The pattern is by Twilleys, and I found it very simple to follow. This is the first garment I have knitted since I was in secondary school.

In the garden, we planted most of our veggies, generally tidied up after the weekend, planted some primulas and I attacked (and beat) the snowberry bush that I hate in the front garden. RIP bush - you'll be replaced by a lovely rose next year, once we are sure you are totally beaten ;)

I can't believe it's April already. I'll pop online tomorrow and deal with goals and the TUSAL. I hope everyone else had as relaxing a weekend as I did.