Sunday, December 30, 2007

Surrounded .......

by sunflowers!!! The Calendar Girls challenge has me seeeing sunflowers everywhere, even in my dreams. You have to understand I am working with some pretty creative and talented people it's a bit scary. But this is how January Mark 1 came about.

This is the picture we are all working from. One of the first things I noticed was the little turned over petal on the big flower in the vase.

This is the same in my sketch book...Van Gogh eat your heart out!

Then this happpened
So I painted some fine cotton

and embellished some blue scrim from Purple Missus to a piece of dark blue felt.

I completely forgot to photograph where I drew the pertals onto the yellow cloth and cut them out but one bonus happened here, I treated the petals with fray stop and they curled so that the whole thing had more volume than before.I also neglected the bit where I added the beads to the brown felt and put wadding underneath it to raise the surface, here we are with the petals half added.

and this is the completed card

Here we go then......

nearly the end of 2007. I'm not a great fan of New Year, yet another one speeding by I suppose but this one has taken my life in a new direction for which I am thankful. There are many people I should thank for making this year as interesting as it has been, particularly to all those who have visited and laughed and cried with me. Thanks to Sharon B for opening up a whole new world as I linked up with the people taking the TAST challenge and I am looking forward to the Take it Further. Thank you to Lynda and all the other girls who invited me into that world with the Calendar Girls Challenge for 2008 and Britt, who sent me a little scissor keeper that boosted my productivity by saving me hours of searching for my scissors!!!! Thanks to friends at the EG who have been such a fun part of my life this year and to my best friend Pam who I don't see often enough but is always there for me.

I wish you all the very best for the New Year hoping that we share many exciting journeys of discovery together.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Secrets are out......

How quickly Christmas goes! After all the secret phone calls, shopping sneaked into the house and general preparation it is over in a twinkling. It was worth though.
My wonderful family bowled me over with a new sewing machine, I am particularly impressed with DH who masterminded and executed the whole thing. It is a Bernina 240 he knew this was the one as he had seen me drooling over it when I bought my embellisher. It amused me that in the manual it is not called a sewing "machine" but a sewing "computer". It has 99 instead of 27 stitches and three alphabets. I have had one little play and we are friends already.

It was my son's 40th Birthday on Boxing Day and I can now reveal what was keeping me quiet in the run up to Christmas. I have wanted to make him something for some time, having made the hussif for my daughter.
He likes things celtic and medieval so I decided on a presentation box and based it on the reliquaries in the V&A

As per usual I forgot to photograph all the stages, these are the embellishments for the lid and the panels which I made on Romeo vanishing fabric.

This is the front of the box

and the back

and the side which are both the same

I completely forgot to photograph it after I had put the feet on it, I'll have to go visit and do it at some later date. The body of the box is made up of a sandwich of velvet(inside), pelmet vilene, cloth which was painted, stitched and foiled, a layer of printed chiffon(of an old skirt) stitched with metallic threads, a layer of black net veiling, and then the stitched panels on top.
I am happy to report that he liked it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Well here we are then.....

the end to the TAST challenge. I has been a wonderful journey, it has brought me in touch with some interesting and fun people, expanded my horizons and hopefully improved my stitching skills. Over the year I have thanked Sharon but I am going to do it one more time. Thank you Sharon for the time and dedication you have given to this and, of course, for the original idea. I am looking forward with excitement to the Take It Further challenge for next year. So here they are weeks 51 and 52. I could resist keeping the seasonal theme and the last one has beads just for Thomas. (Thanks you for all your kind thoughts, I hope I have managed to thank you personally)

"Paper" Chained Bar and

Spanish Feath Stitch... not sure this one is quite right and you can see the beginning wobble, one for further investigation.

and here is one I made earlier...

to Wish You All a Very Happy Christmas

I came across this interesting looking blog this morningfree craft articles, thanks to
Pat Winter and Pamela Kellogg who laid the trail. I haven't had time to really delve but there seem to be some good articles and free patterns there.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thomas the Great.......

is no more. For some weeks now this once magnificent animal has been losing his weight and his strength, Yesterday his back legs gave way a few times and today a visit to the vet decided that the time had come when it was kinder to have him put to sleep.

As you see I will miss him. He loved to sit on my knee when I was stitching and was a great scatterer of beads!! The other thing he liked, apart from food, was a sunbeam, He would adjust his position to stay in one until it disappeard.
He first arrived amongst us about 17 years ago by dint of whipping in through the cat flap and finishing off whatever food our then cats had left. He was almost feral, a large cat with a big barrel chest. cock of the walk and probably father to hundreds of kittens!! One day he came in and I noticed that his neck was in a terrible state, almost open to the bone. He was too wild to catch so we hired a trapping cage and warned the vet how wild he was. When I collected him the vet said "Can you put the cream on his neck" I don't think so. So he gave me tablets which I wrapped in chicken and gradually Thomas started to take it out of my hands. Little by little I was able to touch him and then to stoke him, one finger only. By the time his neck was better he had decided that he had found a pretty reasonable billet and so he stayed with us. A great character and companion.
Rest well dear litle friend I hope you find an everlasting sunbeam.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tis the season....

Overheard in Sainsbury's(supermarket) this afternoon.......
About 8 year old boy to his mother....."You said you weren't going to over do it...and I think you're overdoing it"
Wonderful... out of the mouths etc...

I came across this this morning, a bit late for this year but a great idea for next from Happy Mundane how to theme all those old decorations.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Well I know the challenge isn't supposed to start until January and I know I should be doing things domestic for Christmas but my little brain has been working overtime on the January picture for the Calendar Girls 2008 challenge. This will be Mark 1, I tell myself this so that if it goes pear shaped I can just day "Oh, no problem that was just Mark 1"!!
This is the first element of Mark 1

and this is the second,

The beautiful blue is some embellished scrim from Purple Missus. Just check out these gorgeous colours!! This is from the blues pack.
At the moment I think I know what I am doing with this, we shall see.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I actually found the missing page of my little Somerset trip book, I have to say it was in a very safe place. Right in front of my eyes. I am actually not too thrilled with the pages now. I think I rushed them a bit but I love the way the covers turned out.
So here they are with the lost page. The title is sliver off a piece of slate we pinched out of a skip in Wells.(Wish I'd had a bigger bag with me!)

If you like fabric books Ruth Rae fabric book has a beauty and decribes how she put it together.

And Beate works a little bit of magic with some scraps on Beate's Fabric Art

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tis the season 2.....

As you will have noticed my last couple of TAST sample seemed to be determined to be seasonal, it seems to have caught Sharon as well because lo and behold this weeks stitch (Week 50 my goodness) was Berry Stitch a double detatched chain. Ho,ho,ho thought I!!!! So I decided to make a simple Holly spray with beautiful red berries and look what happened..............

Tis the season.......

when all kinds of exciting things happen. Who would think that I my time of life I would become a Calendar's true. Those who know me personally can relax there will be not revealing pictures....I am honoured to have been invited to join a group of very talented people to take part in a swap for next year based on pictures in a calendar. You can follow what happens on the new blog, Calendar Girls 2008, I have put in a link. It should have a pretty picture something like this but my blogger wouldn't play.

Friday, December 07, 2007

fun and games....and a few snowflakes

It's a bit late in the day for this Christmas but I am certainly going to keep some of these techniques for next year. Demonstrations of Christmas Tags by Tim Holtz. Thanks to Dapple Designs for the link.

and this was sent to me by a friend who warned me not to have a drink in my hand when I watched it!!!

And this weeks TAST,pistil atitch. Is it my imagination or are the stitches at the moment lending themselves to all things Christmassy? Stars or snowflakes, take your pick.

Lynda thank you for your help with adding videos and yes as far as I know this is Babara Cook at 80,I think it was in Melbourne this year.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

An amazing lady....

No copyright breach intended

Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to go and see Barbara Cook in a concert to celebrate her eightieth birthday. For many years she has been one of my favourite singers, her distinctive voice and wonderfully clear diction make her a joy to listen to. Last night was no exception. The closing number when she sang without a microphone was a memory to treasure. You can see her here singing one of my favourites.

And now for something completely different...

Ever wondered what to do with your old buttons? Craft magazine has a suggestion.Marvellous!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

But it's my best toy.......

When we were little a bit before Christmas we were made to sort out our toys and put aside the ones we didn't want anymore. It was amazing how precious something you hadn't looked at for months became as soon as parting with it became an issue.

About a 2 years ago I was sent a plant in a box and my youngest cat Electra(17)immediately took the box as her own, she has played with it for cat hours on end, a bit like when a child prefers the box to the present.

This afternoon, looking at the living room with a virew to getting ready for Christmas, I said to DH do you think we could get rid of that box? So while she had her afternoon nap we removed it, we put it in the hall. When she woke up one of the first things she did was go and sit where the box was. The expression on her face seemed to say "What have you done with my box" eventually she found it in the hall and immediately took possesion we could hear her playing with it as though to say "You see I play with it all the time" Needless to say it is back, I think I will have to wrap it in Christmas paper.

This is MY box!!!

If you feel like an extra bit of silliness I came across this piece on "Stashbusting" .Thanks to Vicki Welsh for the link

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cable chain knot....

Oh I like this one, I liked the cable chain and this is just chunkier, it follows a curve so easily. Lovely texture. The photograph doesn't do it justice but it the stitch shows off this metallic thread beautifully.

Continuing the festive theme my good wishes to you all in your preparations.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fairy feet....and new challenge

In this months issue of Stitch there is an article on making fairy shoes by Annette Emms. A couple of years ago she wrote a tutorial on Workshop on the Web at the time two friends of mine were performing in a musical play about the two little girls who claimed to have actually taken photographs of fairies, you can see the pictures and the story of the Cottingley Fairies here
This is one of the pairs I made.

Sharon Boggon is devising a new challlenge for 2008. I have so enjoyed the Take a Stitch Tuesday (apart from Oyster stitich and chain braid!!!!) and the new one sounds as though it will fit in with the things I have been promising myself for next year. She has called it Take it Further and you can find the details here
Take it Further
It will be just once a month so should be easier to keep pace.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I want it...

Often, very often because there is so much talent out there,you come across a post showing something you would like to touch, or own or you wish you had made. I have just found this something which fits all those criteria, made by Susan of Art in Stitches. If you like altered books go take a look.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How could I forget............Cranford......

No copyright breach intended.
What a joy, we sat there hanging on every word and drinking in the wonderful period detail. No simulated sex, no violence and no bad language just one hour of riveting acting and an already gently enthralling story and, as someone pointed out today, issues that are still relevant today. For those of you beyond these shores I hope it will come to a small screen near you soon.
As you know I frequently have my disappointments with the BBC and am not backward in coming forward but when it comes to adaptations of the classics they are unbeatable.The BBC website has some interesting background information as does this site which tells of the filming in Lacock, the village we visited in October.What joy for the next few Sunday evenings.
I add two extracts from the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine which I was luck y enought to borrow from a friend some time ago.

(If you double clock they should come up large)
A different world indeed!!

Busy, busy

I do apologise for the lack of content around here at the moment. I am still working on my project and my Christmas cards but I did find time to complete this weeks TAST. What a gogeous textural stitch this could be, taking Sharons' comment that it was a great stitch for representing trees I give you this little seasonal offering.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's the time of year.....

As I flip round through my bloglines the same phrases keep appearing, "can't show you what I'm doing because it is a secret" and I'm in the same boat myself, I am working so hard on my project that I still don't know will work, all I can tell you is that it has involved a whole lot of machine stitching, oh all right then, just a peek as I am fairly sure the person it is intended for rarely looks here.

Also in spite of my often voiced "I don't even think about Christmas until after my brothers birthday" (four weeks to the day) I have to confess that I have started making my cards.
TAST this week stitch is Thorn stitch and I will play later in the week but Sharon is also looking to start a new challenge for next year and is asking opinions in a Design challenge and a Getting Things Stitched, full details are on
In A Minute Ago. It will be interesting to see what is chosen.

And finally for all you cat lovers out there, you may have seen this but it I have just come across it and I loved it, didn't dare play it too loud though in case my two joined in.
Talking Cat
If someone can tell me how to get the actual video into my blog I would be grateful.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Anniversary.........

On Tuesday the Queen and Prince Phillip will celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary. I remember listening to the wedding on the radio (no television for us until the Coronation in 1953). On the oficial site there is a look behind the scenes, did you know that the then Princess had to save up her clothing coupons for the material and that the fruit for the cake was a gift from Girl Guides in Austalia. It is worth a look for a world that is no more. The most moving part of the site for me is the letter from King George VI to his daughter the day after the wedding. Not King to future Queen just a father to his beloved daughter.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yes dear......

Overheard in Mark and Spencer Food department yesterday.

SHE "Shall we have eclairs?"
HE "Do you wanrt an eclair?"
SHE "...or Custard Tarts?"
HE "Do you want a Custard Tart"

last seen looking for the scones........

I love overheard snippets of conversation,

Speaking of Marks and Spencer, (that store where they play dreadful music....)
have you seen the Christmas advertisment (my pop up blocker won't allow so here is a still borrowed from the site)

Well that's my Christmas list done then!!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chain braid

No wonder the alternative name for this stitch is Gordian Knot stitch for, like the famous knot when this stitch goes wrong the only way to solve it is with a pair of scissors!!
This, for me, was the most difficult stitch of the TAST challenge since Oyster stitch way back in April..
My first mistake was choosing a design with corners, you will see I had to cheat on those....then I don't really like working with a hoop and then or course there is my inability to be neat and this is a stitch that needs neatness. I can see in the hands of a skilled embroideress it would be a wonderful tool and I am very glad I have attempted it but in future I think I will probably buy the ready made variety.
So here it is, warts and knots and all.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pearls before.....

When I shared a joke with Susan of Art in Stitches her reply rang little memory bells. I remember my mother saying that pearls should be worn or they would lose their lustre. Google found me this entertaining discussion which shows my mother was not the only one. In the very unlikely place of the Department of Computer Science I found me these wonderful pictures of some very formidable ladies wearing pearls.
This is Dame Nellie Melba the opera singer.

And of course Queen Elizabeth the first always seemed to have a rope or two about her person.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Thanks to Jacqueline for the link to Dianas Zeug - Design Blog, unfortunately I do not read German but this is what I call eye candy!!!

One of the joys of blogging is when you come across someone whose life is completely different to your own. The Pioneer Woman certainly fits that bill. A different sort of eye candy!! Another world. Marvellous. Incidentally if it's comfort food you want checkout her recipe for mashed potato!

Andrea of Up to Late as Usual posted this video of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra making a beer commercial. The conductor liked it.

My weekend wasn't entirely mis-spent I have added another page for my fabric book.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

We will remember them............

I watched the Ceremony of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London. One of the most moving parts was as the veterans marched some had an expression on their face which suggested that they were marching not down Whitehall but in another time with other companions.

How sad, that inspite of all these sacrifices, we have not learned to live and let live.

Yesterday I found these very moving Christmas cards by Barbara on her blog Rainbow. A message for Christmas, today and always.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pekinese stitch or .......

more excitingly, Forbidden stitch. Well that is apparently another name for this weeks TAST stitch. This immediately brought to mind the Forbidden city, so I called up Wikipedia what an amzing place it is. This Ming Dynasty painting was just what I need for inspiration for my TAST example(I was dertermined not to fall behind again).

and here is my own little palace.

Can you tell I'm am quite proud of myself. Incidentally this is the first time I have used counted thread material in the TAST challenge but decided it was they only way I was going to get the stitch even, as you can see I didn't quite succeed. Should have worked it on a frame as well. Heigh ho, one of these days I'll learn.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

TAST double......

I have been very naughty and missed a week on my TAST samples. This is why I have tried all along to complete them each week because I realised that it would be all to easy to create a backlog. (sings ...I know me so well)
This is my Drizzle stitch week 43, I am not quite sure it is right as I think I may have reverted to Cast On stitch (week 31) but I like the texture.

And this is rejoices in the title Zig Zag Knotted stitch, it took me a while to work it out but then I liked it so much I made a little piece of silk tops paper especially for it.

Something to do with a close friend......

Sparing no effort to find you something to do , I found that Marianne of Heegeldab has this link to making a dress form. Can you imagine the giggles.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

That's what I call a good day out.........

which started with a visit to the London Graphic Centre for some(non)essential supplies, with just a short stop at the Bead Shop for some more(non) essentials I met my friend, who is also god mother to my daughter, for lunch. Lots of lovely catching up chat over lunch and then a quick trip to see the Mellon collection at the Royal Academy . The exhibition was just the right size and had many pieces which I liked, I wanted to stroke the Zebra by George Stubbs.

(Image from the RA website no breach of copyright intended.)
Also on display were books of prints and artists sketch books.
Outside the RA there is this amazing Three Legged Buddha by a Chinese Artist Zhang Huan, I only had time to take a couple of snaps as it was beginning to get dark but would like to go back and take more, as you can see there is a lot of detail and the copper colours are just yummy.

We then zapped across the road to Fortnum and Mason's, just because it's there, unfortuately the windows were being dressed for Christmas so there wasn't anything to drool over but I was told that they will be spectacular. We had tea, at a more modest establishment and then went to see Mary Poppins which is a truly delightful musical.
Lovely day!!