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

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The return!

Bet you thought I'd given up this blog-writing business eh?

Nope, just sort of lost the urge for a while. I have really enjoyed reading other blogs but was just too - well - lazy I suppose, to pick up the metaphorical pen and paper.

Pen and paper - who can remember that??

Anyway I have resolved, not in the big New Year Resolution way at all, but in a personal 'let's make a bit of an effort here' way to write up my blog a little more often.

I will try not to be so wordy, try not to wait until I have a finished piece to show, and try to be worthy of the many friends who started to follow me and who have, no doubt, given up in disgust.

So, to begin again, Happy New Year. Let's hope we all have one free from major health issues spent with the people we care about.

And if we could all win a lot of money, well, that would be nice too.

I have been stitching steadily all year, but didn't photograph everything. I just forget.

So here is Diligence, the Scarlet Letter sampler I finished from the challenge. I finished it quite quickly but didn't even trouble to post it on the main blog. Don't know why.

I can't find the full image of the finished piece but I am going to press on and not wait another seven months. This proves I finished it as it's the bottom. And those are my initials (IH). And I started at the top.

I did quite a few Halloween and Autumn themed ornaments. I'll just show the pics, it's weeks since Halloween, but if anyone wants details 'spect I can find them.

Just so as you don't have to tell me, I know this Halloween is a bit wobbly.
A witch made me do it wrong.

I love this little Cherie Wheeler rabbit.
I know its not Autumn but it's nice.

I stitched loads more.


I just can't remember what they were.

But this time next year I will know because I will have kept a record here on my blog of every single stitch and then I too can do clever little montages of my year's work. Interspersed with flying pigs.

I crashed my car on Boxing Day!
First accident in almost fifty years of driving. Nobody hurt but a sad little car sitting outside my house for a week. It's gone off to hospital now. The garage provided me with a courtesy car. I will be lucky to get my right foot in it. I may well need a second car for my left foot.

Well, there we go.

The first post of 2014.

The first post of many.

Those of you who have been holding your breath for my return can now exhale - in fact I think you should. Nice and easy now, it's been a while.

Love Irene xxx
Oh and don't even get me started on Pinterest. That......that.....thief of time!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Fish are jumpin' .........

I found myself in the garden today warbling 'Summertime' in a voice not unlike the famed Kiri te Kanawa. Well OK, not that much like her, but the sun was shining, my step was light, the neighbours were out and the fish were jumping! No high-growing cotton - this the the north of England, after all.

I decided about 5 years ago that although I loved the idea of myself as a gardener, you know - worn old straw hat, tanned healthy features, sensible shoes, in fact I hated gardening, so I invested a small sum of money and had my little corner of England landscaped into an accessible, peaceful, stress free zone.
Here it is.....

See - the fish were actually jumpin'!

I have quite a bit of  'show and tell'  for you. Mostly stitch related, a bit of dog, some stained glass and some amazing maths. I know!!! What can that be?

                  (Not sure what Blogger is doing this morning. This post might be problematic!)

Anyway, I am very enamoured of Stacy Nash designs at the moment and this is her Butternut Tavern.
I used the recommended GAST but linen from stock which was a little paler so needed to change Lexington Green which didn't show at all to Endive - which did.

My lovely friend Carmen Sutton made me a gift of My Name is Lidya, Stacy's latest book and if you haven't seen it, it is delicious and I am sorely tempted to begin something from it. I have always fancied  a drum pincushion....... 

Carmen also sent two of her unused projects by Lauren Sauer in the hope that my friend Anne and I might actually make them. Let me tell you Carmen, Secret Garden is on its way.

Then we have 

                                        H is for Honey by Prairie Schooler.  

My sister Karen's friend lives in a cottage called Beehive and Karen asked me to make a door hanger for her so I chose this and adapted it for the purpose. I stitched it over one using DMC on a darkish 30 (I think) linen. It is quite small as you can see, only 7 cms ( just under 3 inches wide).

Had you forgotten about the amazing maths?

Well, here we go. 

The little bee on the back measures 1 1/2 cms x 2 cms. 

 Stitch count 17 x 22. Therefore there are 374 cross stitches in it. 

Each cross stitch requires 4 passes with the needle, making 1,496 stabs. 

What do you think the recipient will say?
" Aw look. There's a bee on the back"

Oh, little do they know!

I have just discovered why Blogger is so different today. I normally use Blogpress, not Blogger. 
Is that the men in white coats I hear marching purposefully up the path?

So, to press quickly on.

This is a very crumpled 'Diligence' by Scarlet letter. The border is finished as is all the lettering and I have just started the house. Then an urn with flowers and initials et finis!
Mmm better not celebrate just yet.

You haven't seen much of my dogs lately, but here here they are now.

                                 I am calling this 'A Settee Full of Setters.'

Shush, quiet, or we will get nothing done!

Almost there now.    A relief to a lot of you, I know. 

After it took so very long to make the stained glass panel for my shower room, I decided to make some smaller items, like this dragonfly.
I gave this one to Anne for her birthday. I used to give her stitched things, but her stitching is so much better than mine now. Hey ho!

I am making butterflies to hang from the trees in my garden. They are simple and quick to make and I have about 5 foiled and ready to solder. Stained glass can be leaded or foiled. For smaller items, foiling is easier and is just as weatherproof as leading. You just wrap thin copper tape around each piece of glass and solder them together.

One last picture. In the garden of the house next door to me is a cherry tree. It is far too near to my house. The roots are probably snaking through the foundations as we speak, but for a few short days, my son opens his bedroom curtains to this.

The blossoms are there, in fingertip reach. Absolutely glorious. We'll worry about the foundations another time.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

I hope yours is beautiful.

Irene xxx



Monday, 8 April 2013

Stained glass finish


I know this is a stitching blog, but if you had worked on something for as long as this has taken me, you would want to have a teeny tiny 'Ta Da' moment and maybe even a discreet unhurried two-step around the kitchen too.

This is my stained glass panel. I based it on a patchwork quilt pattern.
Maybe 'Flying Geese', may not be!

I am sure passing quilters would know, I knew once, but this (insert swear word) thing has taken so long that I am not sure I have a working brain cell left now.

A closer look.

I did actually crop this to eliminate that white bit at the top which is a piece of frosted glass with light shining through it, but my iPad refused to accept any alterations.

So.....what did I learn from this very long encounter with glass, copper foil, lead and solder?

Cut carefully!!!

That's it really.

Cut carefully.

Then all the little shapes will fit together and you will not have to un-peel all the copper foil you laboriously stuck around each little triangle and you will not have spend hours on a grinder cutting millimetres of glass away.

I did discover that although a millimetre, in itself, is not very big, when you have an extra millimetre on two sides of 160 pieces of glass - that adds up to quite a bit.

Well - enough to make the panel too big to fit the hole for which it was designated.

It fits now.

Because of the afore-mentioned hours spent on the grinder, chewing up my nails, removing small but painful lumps of skin, being splattered by glass-dust laden spray.

Oh yes it fits now.

It is in the shower room.

Where it can be seen at it's very best by male visitors to the loo.

So worth it then.

Bitter and twisted - moi?

Irene xxx

Male visitors - just ignore the panel and concentrate on your aim - that's all I'm saying.