Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sea, surf and sun

And drizzly rain!

It is an overcast morning here in the UK so I took my newly finished ornaments outside to photograph them. I set everything up and was only then aware that there was just enough drizzle in the air to curl my newly straightened hair.

The things we do for our art is unbelievable.

I just re-read that. 'Set everything up'. Sounds a bit studio and arty, but I just took a board outside and plonked everything on it. It took me - well - a minute? 

So this is what I have to offer after my long absence from my blog.

Lots of new seasidey themed ornaments for my Summer tree display. They are a bit different from my usual projects. These are stitched with bright primary colours on a white 28 count linen over one thread. I hardly ever do that. Use white linen and primary colours I mean, not stitching over one.

I needed something bright and cheery to get me back into my stitching mood which was lost for a little while.

Shall we look a little closer?

I call these two 'Swim' and 'Sun'.

After much soul searching, I called these two 'Sail' and 'Shell'. I actually think 'Shell' is my favourite as it leans a bit more towards my usual style. The shell is stitched in a Kaalund silk thread. I have a few of these threads which are beautiful soft muted variegated colours.

The seabirds are not by the same designer, but 'Blue Beach Hut' and 'Sailing Ship 5' are. 

I know what you're thinking  - "How does she come up with these titles?' 

It's not that easy, believe me.

Last two.

'Sea' and 'Yellow Beach Hut with Life Belt'. 

They're very summery aren't they? I will display them with some big shells I have and maybe hang a few small shells on the branches too.

One last piece to show you.

I went to a meeting of our local Embroiderer's Guild and the speaker there, Lynne Hardy, was demonstrating traditional Assisi work. So bearing in mind my Seaside theme, I completed these Seahorses. How far-thinking was that? Sadly I was not far-thinking enough to make them into an ornament when I did the others and only remembered them after I had put fabric, stiffening, cord, and the iron away!

I will complete it soon though.

Well, that's it folks, sorry I am so very tardy with my postings.

By the way, did you know that if you press the exclamation / comma key on your iPad keyboard for a little longer than normal you get an apostrophe? Cool eh?

Thank you for staying with me and I hope you enjoyed my peek into those lazy hazy days to come.


Love Irene xxx

PS. The book these designs came from is 'Sand, Sea and Cross stitch' by Anna Field. Forgot to mention that!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Do you see what I see?

BYou concentrate, you focus, you stitch. 

You press, you hem, you join, you bead.

And ONLY when it is completely finished and hanging on its appointed twiggy branch, do you see it.

Then you fret, you worry, you blame. You disbelieve.

How could I have done all that and NOT NOTICE?


Do you see what I see?

Look at the little purple flower-thing.        It's all wrong!            Oh my!

I am considering taking it apart to re-stitch the flower, because when I look at this little Spring piece, ALL I SEE IS A MISTAKE. 

Hey ho.

I decided to make a few smalls to hang on my newly-purchased afore-mentioned twiggy tree.

Sadly I don't know who designed them, they were odd charts I found in my growing pile of odd charts.

I impulsively stitched the next one on black 28 count linen. Not a usual choice for Spring but I love the jewel like result. It is edged in purple cord which also made the hanger. All of these ornaments are very small, stitched over one with one strand.

Heartsease? Violas? Pretty though, eh?

Final one for today, although I have four (4!) more stitched and ready to make up.

I know!! 

How good am I?

How dusty is my house?

So this a little blue bird. Like you couldn't see that! I think it may be a freebie but again I don't know by whom.

And to finish..........


Puppy sleeping.

Oh alright, I know she has food stuck to the bottom of ears, but you try washing the face of a hyperactive six-month old Irish Setter.

It's just not going to happen!

I have taken this moment ( for that's all it will be ) whilst both Bronte and Cassie rest and recuperate after their walk this morning, to catch up with my blog. 

Hope you have enjoyed reading it.

Thank you for your comments - always, always appreciated.

Have a lovely Easter

Irene xxx

Edited - one problem solved, the Blue Bird design is from The Little Stitcher.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Serbian Proverb

I just loved stitching this adaptation of Plum Street Sampler's 'Serbian Proverb'.

I was pondering for a long time about possibly stitching a welcome baby sampler for the girl who helps by walking my two dogs a couple of times a week. I wanted something longer lasting than the usual storks and alphabets but couldn't find anything that seemed just right.

Then I remembered this lovely sampler and thought it was just perfect. I needed to adapt it to fit my needs but that was easy and I hope I didn't spoil the simple spirit of Paulette's design.

I showed the design to my friend and told her with some confidence that it was a 'Surburban Proverb' for my baby walker! 

I tell you, old age and senility are rushing towards me at an alarming speed.

Do you want another example??

My sister bought me two 'Tiny Container Bead Storage Trays' ( I am befuddled remember, so feel free to rearrange those words if need be).

They look like this anyway, you will have seen them around.

I must say, I have had a lovely time and whiled away many happy hours filling the little ( tiny) containers up with my beads. I am not quite finished which is why these are not arranged in colour columns. 


I wouldn't dream of leaving it in this higgledy-piggeldy fashion.


I was filling up some of the containers whilst my friend Anne looked on. I carefully clipped down the lid and then placed them in their column, making sure to put it the opposite way to how I had taken it out. I wanted the lid on top and the clear plastic underneath.

I carried on for some time, with Anne watching. Eventually I remarked " I don't understand why they have put the containers in this way. They need to be the other way up. It doesn't make any sense"

Anne looked at me, and then without saying a word, leaned over and carefully turned the whole tray round.

I looked at her and we laughed so hard. It was ages before we could compose ourselves.

Before she left she helpfully gave my son the names of a couple of Homes for the Bewildered that he might want to check out.

"Soon" she said "You need to do it soon"

Well that's it for today. 

We had Spring here in England this morning with blue skies, sunshine and snowdrops and Winter this afternoon with real snow drops. Brrrrrr.

Lots of love
Irene xxx

Monday, 16 February 2015

Strawberry Sampler Book

I love this.

It was difficult to stitch because, and apologies to Jane Greenhow, the instructions and charts were terrible. The reproduction of the charts was really poor too and at times it was impossible, even on this original chart, to distinguish one symbol from another.

It was a kit, by the way.

So - moaning  over - this is The Strawberry Sampler Book. 

It is stitched on double pages which are hemmed and then the double pages are stitched together to hide the 'workings'.

It really is a sampler book, with various embroidery techniques, making it interesting and challenging to stitch. It has pattern darning, hardanger, pulled stitches, blackwork and has ribbons and beads as embellishments. I bought separately the tiny scrimshaw strawberry to use as a bookmark.

I think the pages speak for themselves.

So here there are, chattering away.

So, stating the obvious, the book closed, tied with a ribbon bow.

The index page. 
Bullion stitches!! 
Two colours of linen were used in the book, as you can see here. 

The first 'easy pages', cross stitch.


I know, you can't hear what the pages are saying for the noise I'm making!

More darning.
And hardanger.
With red silk behind so that the finely wrought stitches show.
Oh, alright, not finely wrought, but they're not bad. They've got those birds eye fillings and everything.

More hardanger.
Pulled stitches. These were new to me and enjoyable.
Beaded strawberry flower.

More of the afore-mentioned things and some Smyrna stitches.

Are these pulled stitches too?
I think they might be. With beads and ribbons - to embellish!
And to finish - blackwork.

The front and back of the book.

So that's it.

It's nice isn't it?

My friend Anne stitched this at the same time, and to be honest, she was the pioneer. She worked it all out, page by page, in spite of the appalling instructions, and I just copied. If she hadn't, it would be languishing in the UFO drawer.

But hey, now it sits on my dresser and I take the praise.

Thanks for ploughing through, (plowing through?). If you can think of something to say, please do and I'll make sure these darn pages shut up long enough for me to hear it.

Lots of love,
Irene xxx

OK. So I've published the blog and the photos are not showing the full two pages which is, to put it mildly, a bother. I've had a fiddle and now the last picture is tiny and you still can't see the two pages. My life is fraught. 
EDIT.   My super friend Anne has pointed out two things in her comment. On the picture which says 'Strawberry Fields' they are drawn thread, not pulled stitches. You cut the thread and weave it back through at the side to hide it. We did panic!
Also, if you CLICK on the pictures you can see the whole thing. 
Thank you. Xxx

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Stressing about distressing?

A lot of people stress about how to make their carefully worked project look old - look distressed - as if it had been around for at least a hundred years.

Is that you?


Well, allow me to help you out.


These first couple of pictures show how easily linen can be made to have that old, found in the bottom of a dresser look.

This is a 32 count Tin Roof linen, note the tiny holes and pulled threads? These are all at one edge of the linen, suggestive of many years of storage and perhaps moth nibbling? It happens!

Not so noticeable here, so if you need a more subtle look, this might be for you.


Many stitchers choose to age their threads after stitching, but may I suggest this?

Now here, as you can see, the threads have been pre-aged. This is a very quick process which, if not monitored, can quickly make your threads unusable, but rescued at just the right time results in a stiff darker hued thread, often separated into its component strands, supremely convenient for stitching, especially as the single strands are of different lengths, allowing you to choose the right length for the project in hand. The freeing of the threads from their labels enables a more random, casual colour scheme.

Now, here is something I think you may not have considered in your quest for authentic ageing.

This embroidery hoop has, as you can just make out, a rough uneven surface. This can, without any effort on your part, catch on your linen, allowing threads to break, and to snag and drag, resulting in tiny holes similar to, but different from, those illustrated earlier. You may also find, for that final touch of authenticity, that it can result in minute specks of blood being scattered on your project, which quickly darken to brown stains which are almost impossible to remove. A wonderful, antique, much sought-after look.

All I need to do now is to reveal how you can achieve this look, add more prims to your dough bowls, suspend more ornaments from your feather trees.

There are many makes available on the market, some of which you may be familiar with, but throughout the many years I have been stitching, I have found the most effective to be this,

The Irish Setter puppy.

This little creature will, without even being asked, turn it's attention to almost any craft.

Here, a rare picture of her at work as she stretches a piece of crochet to a more convenient size.

And here she unwinds a ball of wool, ready for use.

So there you have it. 

If you prefer your work vintage, buy a puppy.

Better still, buy this one.

Final thought, you can have her. 


Irene xxx

Monday, 12 January 2015

Poppies and musings.

So, I didn't want this new-found enthusiasm for posting to fade and decided to do a shortish posting showing a very pretty poppy ornament.

I always start off with the intention of a short posting but then my fingers run away with me and I don't know where to stop, but this time ......

I'm not sure how I found this designer - I think maybe seeing some of her biscornu on Pinterest but she is so clever.

Her name is Faby Reilly and she is French, although her web site is also available in perfect English.

It's odd - I said in a previous posting how much I loved Stacy Nash designs, and I do, but these are entirely different and I love them too.

I wonder what it is that defines our taste? Why some things appeal and others don't, why things at almost the opposite ends of the spectrum can have the same attraction? 

These philosophical debates are for another time, methinks. ( remember 'short' posting?) but it's interesting isn't it?

I read somewhere once that we could be attracted to our romantic partners looks because someone of similar colouring, eyes, face shape once peered into our pram when we were babies. Scary thought eh? 

Faby Reilly designs beautiful biscornu, where the stitching creeps across the join lines, but also other projects too, like needle cases, humbugs, purses, hanging ornaments, all following a theme - poppies, wild roses, a Christmas collection. Lovely. I bought tons. Of which I have actually stitched? 


But a nice one.

These photos seem a bit dark, but I hope you get the idea. I finished the ornament with a black bead edging and hanger and added little tassels with red bead accents. There are also little beads used in the design. Those red circles are not buttons. Oh no sirree. They are woven-spider-web-stitchy-things. I am not just an expert on the sewing machine and an expert technician, I am an accomplished embroiderer too. Why the Royal School of Needlework haven't picked me up is a mystery.
See how the poppy buds come around onto the back? 

So there you have it.  Hopefully a new designer to you. Go have a look at her site. I could add a link here but I don't want to blind you with science.

We are experiencing gale force winds in the UK. The shipping forecast for ships at sea around the UK predicted severe Gale Force 10 winds overnight. Let's hope everyone stays safe. And that the enormous DEAD pear tree in the garden next door does not squash my house. 

What would I grab first? Presuming all living things were safe. Tell you next time!

Thank you again for your comments, and just for reading this, even if you don't comment. It is always appreciated.

Have a lovely, safe day,

Love Irene xxx

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Garden Maiden Sewing Roll.

Well, look at this, I'm back again.

Obviously this can't go on, two postings in one week, but when the muse strikes......

This project was an exclusive kit from Nashville Market last year, designed by Lori Markovic from La-D-Da. It contained everything needed to complete the sewing roll.

The threads are a mixture of GAST and WDW and the linen a lovely 30 count from Weeks called Confederate Gray ( or if you're English 'grey')

I must admit that I have quite a decent stash of threads and linen now, thanks in particular to my blogging best friend Carmen Sutton of Cardman Antiques who has sent me lots of lovely things, especially linens. But even so, there is a pleasing comfort in having a kit with everything there. You can settle down to stitch with such a shiver of anticipation. Carmen was responsible for getting hold of this kit for me too. Thank you so much.

Also, here in the UK unless you are very lucky, you never get a chance to handle ( well, fondle really) linen and to see some of the different shades. This Confederate Gray was lovely to use, as was the  Dolphin used for the Emilia Poole piece. I don't think I would ever have chosen the Dolphin to order online - too risky - but it was beautiful.

This is the roll rolled. It looks quite wobbly here, but it isn't. ( Say this with certainty and it will be believed)

This is the roll unrolled. Really nice isn't it? 

The inside of the roll. Just in case you couldn't work that out.

Now - I put off stitching this because it really needed some machine stitching. Quite precise machine stitching really. And I am soooo bad with a sewing machine.

But ..... look!

I did it. And it looks fine. I even managed to stitch the ribbon in without being able to see it. 

I could probably make a wedding dress now, if anyone needs an expert seamstress?

I will finish with a picture of the two dogs. I think this one just captures the look of resigned despair on Bronte's face. Cassie is sitting on her back and before and after this photo was chewing on her ears.

Don't worry, I don't let this nibbling go on for too long. I take my turn too!!! My ears are equally chewed.

Thank you so much for your comments on my last post. It is so gratifying to know you are there, my loyal blogging friends.

Irene xxx
PS. Just checked the blog online and only part of the pics are showing. Need to work on that!! Try to imagine the missing parts! 
PPS. Had a fiddle and the pictures are better. I could probably work for Microsoft now if anyone needs a expert technician? 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

A return. Emilia Poole and puppy news.

I know. 

Just ages. 

People always say 'Life got in the way' and it does. But not Life with a capital 'L' - no - just life. An ordinary, mundane, shopping, cleaning, eating, sleeping, stitching sort of life. 

But a good life for all that.

So I decided, again, to reinstate my blog on January 1st - a new year, a new beginning. Check out the date today. January 3rd. Failed again!

I have quite a bit of stitching to share, but I will do it gradually over several postings, if you can bear to stay with me for a little while.

If you have kept me on your list of blogs. Thank you. I hardly deserve it, but thank you.

So, today, Day 1, I will show you Emilia Poole by Stacy Nash. I love her designs more and more, she just seems to hit the spot with me.

This is the front of the oval box. Nothing like stating the obvious! 

The front of the needle case book. 

Now - this should be the back cover, but I was so absorbed with getting the woollen binding stitched properly, that it became the inside instead. Well, I won't tell anybody if you don't. The initials are those of Anne and Carmen as we did this as a stitch-a-long.

I added a little strawberry scissor fob using the lining fabric which is not very clear here, and the woollen pin cushion.

This was my first attempt at lining and completing a box finish and I really love it. The scissors are an old pair I picked up at an antique market for a few pennies. 

I have just one more thing to share before this shorter than usual post. 

This is Cassie. She is just 12 weeks old and is another Irish Setter puppy. We lost our gentle Meg a short time ago and she left such a big hole in our lives. Cassie is soooooo sweet and sooooo naughty. 
She is fast becoming friends with Bronte who is now 3 years old.

 They play together a lot and Bronte has the patience of Job with this needle-toothed baby! 

I was contently sorting beads - as you do - at the dining room table and could hear the two dogs 'playing' in the drawing room. I was engrossed sorting the very pale pink from the pale pink and chose to ignore the rumpus happening in the next room. My son eventually asked me to go have a look and I discovered they had brought down 2 rolls of toilet paper and were having a grand game. The room was fast disappearing under this soft comfort tissue!!!  

Well, no doubt there will be more to tell and to show next time. 

If you chose to read this, thank you, if you choose to comment, it would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Happy New Year!

Love Irene xxx

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Winter themed......

I have tried a million times - yes, I counted - a million times, to post on Blogpress this morning but as soon as I get more than a dozen well-chosen (!) words written, it just crashes.

So I'll show you, Blogpress - ha ha - I will use Blogger and serves you right!

So, as I was saying, my unofficial resolve to post more often has gone by the board. But here I am, finally, with a bit of stitching to show.

If I can remind you ( I think I mentioned it on my previous post, but I daren't leave this page to check!) I was going to make some Winter themed ornament smalls which would replace the Christmas themed ornaments on display.

Well I did a few, which I will share with you.

You can't wait can you?

Bet you recognise this one? It's from this year's JCS ornament special and it is SnowBirds by CCN stitched over one on 30 ct Tin Roof. I gave it a beaded edge and hanger. I wrote all this down on a little card. It's called 'keeping a record' and although I have tried it in the past, I usually lose the card.

I love this one, again stitched over one on 32 count, using DMC not-quite-white and ecru. It is 'Winter Tyme' by Not forgotten Farm.

These are snowdrops.

Oh alright. So I lost the card! 

I do know it's stitched over one and I added teeny tiny iridescent sequin things which had a greeny hue which matched the snowdrops. 

This amazing co-ordination of theme and colour doesn't happen by accident you know.

Well actually this did. The little box full of thousands of sequins fell off the shelf so I used them. I could have done more stitching, but it took hours to pick the rest up off the floor!

Another snowdrop.

Fooled you!! 

I have the card - this is stitched over one again and it's a freebie by The Little Stitcher.

I have a few more to show you, but I'll keep those for next time.

To finish here I wanted to share a sweet pin pillow given to me by my friend Anne. 

I'll tell you the little story behind it, but you are a stitcher anyway so you will understand.

Anne and I stitch together every Thursday evening and we will often look up across the table to see one or the other of us threading and re-threading a needle with a minute end of floss trying to stitch the final couple of cross stitches in that colour. We care not a jot that we have yards of the stuff in front of us, we are determined not to start a new thread. You do it too, right? 

Well, Anne found herself at home doing the same thing but finally gave up saying 'This is a stitch too far'. And those very words inspired the pin pillow.

If you look carefully you can see a tiny thread coming from the unfinished motif and another in the little stitched needle. Clever eh?

Sorry it is such a poor photo. I am lazy and use my iPad camera instead of firing up my 'proper' camera and doing all the transferring of images thing.

It's lovely to be back. Thank you if you waited for my return and read the drivel thus far. 
I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Now, onto Spring themed ornaments. Slow down world, I need to catch up.

Lots of love
Irene xxx

Monday, 20 January 2014

What we do for our art!

Alternatively titled 'Acorns on a Dead Rose Bush'

So . . . .

I was browsing my way through the many and varied items on the internet and saw something that I liked. 'I can do that' was my first thought, as indeed it is the first thought of many such idlers. But on this occasion - I actually could do it!

I rang my country-dwelling sister and ordered her to 'Gather me acorns aplenty' so of course she did. I am older than her and pulled her hair when she was little. The fear lingers on.

I gathered together the necessary supplies. This unfortunately involved throwing away the acorn nuts which my sister had painstakingly gathered and keeping only the caps (maybe I should have told her that?) I used the caps, a head pin and a variety of beads and set to work.

Anyway, after an hour I produced these.

Oh alright, after several hours on several days.

Today I fiddled about, checking Pinterest boards, reading blogs and generally squandering my time as if it was a unending resource. Eventually I decided it was a good day to take some photos and write my blog.

Back to the title.

I had hoped to show you these acorns in sunshiny glory, but after the aforesaid time-wasting the sun was only visible in one small corner of the garden - you know - that corner over there, where the dead nettles are?

I threaded up a selection of the acorns on beading cords and began to hang them artistically on the ivy. Sadly, the knots on the shiny cord kept slipping open, sending the acorns plummeting downward. By the time I had re-threaded, re-hung and replaced them and applied soothing balm to my nettle-stung fingers, the sun had moved relentlessly on, heeding not my artistic endeavours.

I stood on tippy toes, up to my knees in nettles and took this photo.

You can just see the sun disappearing in the corner.

So... Acorns on a Dead Rose Bush.

Taken by me with nettle-stung, thorn-pricked, cold fingers.
But so worth it, n'est pas?

I have some stitching to show you too. I have decided to go for a Winter theme to replace the Christmas one, but need to stitch a few more to have anything like a display. I have also resolved to keep a note of the name, designer and linen used. I have given up on my goldfish memory.

This is, she said with some confidence, LHN's Saltbox Christmas, stitched with recommended colours over two on 32ct Tin Roof. ( oh, for goodness sake, I forgot to write down the colours and linen and count, so I just guessed. I'm not perfect)

This is the Snowman Quaker freebie stitched over one on something count something. I hung little shiny crystals from the bottom. To look like ice?
( my new recording system is having teething problems )

And this is a wooden Red Cardinal which I've had for ages from those clever people who make the little sledges, stitched on perforated paper.

Well, I have tons more to show you, but this is enough for today.

Fell free to make acorns.

If you need any caps, let me know. I'm sure my sis would be happy to go a-gathering, she's hardly busy at all.

Thank you for your comments. Always read and very much appreciated.

Love, Irene xxx