Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Final frantic Christmas stitching. Phew!! ...and some house pics.

I have been frantically sewing a Mirabilia freebie as an extra Christmas surprise and have just taken it to my framers to be finished. I must say that I don't normally choose Mirabilia designs to stitch myself, although I can see how pretty and appealing they are, but I am delighted with this one and may well do others in the series - perhaps not at such breakneck speed!

I chose the Holiday Cherub 2000 ( and used DMC cottons on a silver grey linen from my stash. There are tiny iridescent beads stitched on which you may just be able to see on my not-very-good-photo. I used the same background colour cotton to stitch on the beads, which, because the beads were clear with an iridescent coating, gave them a hint of the background colour too. I was pleased with the result.
I was lucky enough to be included on Carol R's 2009 Christmas Ornament Challenge - the challenge being to complete and post a photo of a new Christmas ornament each month for the year on a designated web site I had already decided to try to complete ornaments throughout the year and this challenge is the perfect incentive for me. If you haven't already visited Carol's lovely website it is

Wish me luck!!!

This week I have been decorating the house and had forgotten how time-consuming and tiring it all is. Fun though! I live in a Victorian house, built in 1885, so I have very high ceilings with coving and ceiling roses, tall skirting boards and fireplaces.

I have taken a few pics, but I must join a class or something to learn a little more about this photography thing!! I tried to take them in the dark so that the lights would show and it would be more atmospheric, but the flash just illuminated everything to a stark white light -without the flash - a shadowy gloom in which nothing was recognisable!

This is the front hall.

The statue is an original of a girl called Lauren and she is very beautiful. When all living things are safe, it I wouldis her I would probably grab in a fire. I saved to buy her after pressing my nose up against an art shop window to stare at her for months and months.

This is the lounge, which we tend to use a lot, especially in the winter months.

This is the fireplace in the sitting room which we sadly don't seem to use very often now.

This is the staircase which was painted a dirty white when I bought the house, so I stripped the spindles and the floor which I think looks better. We have a central runner now on the stairs and rugs on the hall, landing and corridor.

This is the final picture for today. This is the cast iron range at the end of the dining room, which must have been the original kitchen and scullery - we have a modern kitchen now of course.
The fire, hidden behind hydrangea flowers, does light and the oven works too, although we only use it for keeping food warm - not for cooking - far too unpredictable!! We only light it on family occasions when we all eat together, so the next time will be Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my home.

Thank you for stopping by,


Saturday, 6 December 2008

Snow.. and some sewing!

I must say that when I log in to blogs that I follow, I have a totally irrational disappointment when the writer has not updated their blog for me to enjoy. I decided that when I started mine, I would update at least every other day - so here I am 22 days after my last posting! Maybe I should not be quite so condemning of others!

We have had our first real taste of winter here in the north east, but for my little corner of the world, maybe not quite as bad as had been forecast. We had snow which hung around for a while, but then freezing temperatures in the early evening turned the melting snow to ice. I took Meg down to the beach yesterday to find that there were still drifts of snow on the dunes and even on the beach itself. I have stopped worrying about the fact that my many layers of clothing make me look like Michelin Man and makes bending down a major feat, and my Aztec bobble hat might really be more suitable for the Andes - I am just grateful for the warmth they provide. My friend Trish made and gave me the hat as an early Christmas present, she felt my need for it was too great to wait. Thanks Trish!

I have done some sewing, snuggled up in front of a real roaring fire. I have another Christmas ornament to show and two scissor fobs. I gave away a third fob to a friend who is recovering from a major operation and for whom sewing is occupying otherwise boring weeks of recovery.

This is the front of 'Woodland Snowfall' by Little House Needleworks from the 2004 JCS Christmas Ornaments special.And this is the back! I used Vikki Clayton silks, which I love, and a really dark linen from my stash, although it looks surprisingly light grey in the photo.Again, I used Vikki Clayton's variegated threads for these scissor fobs. The picture shows a front and a back. The chart is a Debbie Draper freebie. I edged in matching beads and finished with co-ordinating ribbons. I really like the idea of using two ribbons caught together with three or four beads to stop them becoming separated in use.

Off now to finish my Christmas shopping - almost there!

Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, 14 November 2008

So... how smart am I??

As you know, I have been busily stitching Christmas ornaments, and also some one-over-one scissor fobs, but to make a change from the rectangular Prairie School Father Christmas which I have shared with you, I decided to have a go at Snowbird by La-D-Da designs in the 2004 JCS Christmas Ornaments magazine. I have seen this made up in other blogs and have long admired it.

Knowing that I like the double-sided look, rather than a fabric backing, I decided to stitch 2 and make them up as one bird. So I chose to use my last Weeks Dye Works 'Soot' thread and the chart was easy and fun to do. I was concerned that I might not quite have enough thread and so towards the end, stitched on in trepidation. But I did it - with only 1 thread of 4 strands to spare.
In some excitement (it doesn't take much!) I laid them on the work table ready to stitch them together, I tried.....

back to back,
front to front,
back to front,
front to back
upside down
inside out..........on and on...... in growing disbelief !!!!!

You've guessed it, I had stitched two identical copies, instead of one in reverse. What an idiot!!!

I had no more thread - unless I sent away for some - to make another, so finally found some backing fabric and had a go at using that. But my heart wasn't in it and it's a mess! The stitching is poor, I was too afraid to cut close to the seam so it's all gathered, I frayed back the linen as I put in the stuffing and couldn't stitch the final bit very well. Oh man.

So here they are, two little dicky-birds facing the wrong way!

(By the way, ignore the date on the photo, my camera insists I re-set it every day, but then refuses to accept it.)
I think I'll keep this little snowbird and hide it in the branches of the tree. And that's a shame 'cos it's a lovely chart. So, if you want to try it, have a go - just be a little smarter than me!

Thanks for stopping by and don't give up on me just yet.


Thursday, 30 October 2008

Some Christmas ornament finishes, and sea coal!

I thought I would begin today by sharing some finished Christmas ornaments and the Forest Canopy shoulder shawl.

Here are the fronts - Prairie Schooler 'Old World Santas II'.

You can see the ink blue shawl underneath. I used Sirdar ' Blur' with kid mohair, 50 gram balls. I knitted this one on the needle size recommended by Sirdar (5.5mm) and it blocked out to the exact size, but the next one I have started on 4mm needles which will make it a little bigger and lacier. The pattern calls for 100 grams of wool, which will be easily achievable from the 2 balls of Blur.

And now....the reverse of the ornaments.

I chose to back the first one with fabric, but then preferred a cross stitch backing. So much for 'making them simple and keeping them quick'. The cross stitching is fast, but I find the finishing more time-consuming, but - definitely worth it. I just sit down and resign myself to the detail.

The beaded edge and back of one ornament.

This not-very-good photo shows the edge and mixed stitch snowflakes on the back of the candy-cane Santa.

So what were yesterday's photos all about???

Well, here on the North East coast of England we still have teams of men who go down to the beach every day to collect sea-coal.

There are different theories about where the name 'sea-coal' comes from - some say it is the discarded fragments left over from the many coal mines in this part of the world, especially the Durham fields, all now sadly closed, others say it is coal washed into the sea from exposed seams along the coast, some say it is because this coal was an easy harvest from the beach, some that it was because coal was carried to the whole of England and beyond, by sea. It was gathered by the Romans and the Anglo Saxons, so there is a long and noble history.

It is not lumps of coal, but more a gritty dust which is washed in by the tide. The men who gather it walk along the beach with a rake, making circles in the sand as they go to gauge how deep the coal is, and then when deep enough, they rake and shovel it into the heaps shown on the photo.

Years ago, in harder times, men from the villages would bag it up in sacks and balancing it on the cross-bar of their pedal bikes, they would walk it home for domestic burning. I can just remember my Dad doing this.

Now small, very old, wagons follow the men and the coal is shovelled up onto them and taken, dripping, for burning to Power Stations. The price per tonne is tiny, it hardly seems worth all the mind-bending effort on freezing cold Winter mornings.

But men do it.

We are hardy people, we North-Easterners!

Thanks for visiting

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

What is happening here??

I have decided today to show you a couple of photographs that I took on the beach just last week.

You can see that I have posed a question for you too. No prizes for the answer, as I know for sure that people living along the North East coast of England will know immediately what is happening here.

Here are the photos.

I will reveal all tomorrow.

I finished the Forest Canopy shawl. It was really quick and fun to knit up so I decided to start a second one in a variegated silver grey shade.

I intend to finish another Christmas ornament today so with luck and a following wind I will show pics of completed items later.

Meghan is desperate to go out, she is standing with her feet on the chair and her warm (and sweet) breath on my neck as I write. OK Meg, I can take a hint - let's button up our overcoats and brave the weather.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

I do what I do.....

I am not a great cook!

I do what I can do - often.

This is mostly basic English cooking, roast dinners, Shepherd's Pie, spaghetti bolognese (English??). That kind of thing.

But my 'signature' dish is ...... pasties. Cornish Pasties.

And because I think I am so good at them I make a lot and share them out with family and friends. It may be that they say 'Oh no, she's made pasties again' but I don't care.

So on Friday I made pasties.

How many?

Forty-two. Yes - 42!

I had too much pastry, so made more filling - then had too much filling, so made more pastry.
So then I had 42.


For those of you who will count (gotcha!) there are only 30 something here - the rest are cooling.But they look pretty good don't they?

I have done some stitching too, I am continuing to work on the Christmas ornaments. The firstone is completed, and I have another stitched but not finished, and one in the process of being stitched.

But oh how easily I have been diverted into knitting.

I follow the Cote Passion blog ( and saw there the lovely Forest Canopy shawl. So I paid for and downloaded the pattern ( and bought the wool from my LNS - In2Stitches - and rushed home to put away my Christmas ornaments in order to brandish much bigger needles. The instructions are excellent and the pattern - after one false start - is easy and quick to knit. I will show a picture when I have completed a little more.


Sunday, 12 October 2008

Baa Baa Black sheep

OK. So I have taken my camera out with me every day since last Wednesday, but no cryptic writing to be seen. However, I did take a few pics of Meghan on the beach.

I am going to call this a 3D photo

Meghan is:-

Disgruntled - I stopped her crazy careering to take this photo.

Determined - not to give up the ball.

Disgusting - she is covered in sand, sea water and (sorry) saliva!

Now, I have finished Black Sheep Sampler. I would usually be pleased with a finish, but I really enjoyed this one and I will look out for other similar ones I think.

And.......I have begun my Christmas ornaments - and not before time some might say!

This one is from the Prairie Schooler 'Old World Santas II' chart. I used the recommended DMC colours for the smaller areas, the sack, beard and parcels, but Vikki Clayton's Gandy Tango (red) and Willow Withies 3227 (green) for the larger areas. The fabrics are possible choices for the backing fabric and ribbon for finishing. I think I will go with the green which has tiny holly sprigs and berries.

And an apology - I have only just begun blogging and my photos are not too good yet. If you look closely at the sewing ones you can see my shadow as I took the photo. David Bailey I am not!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The finding of a poignant text.

I always intend to take my camera out with me, especially when I walk on the beach, but this morning, as usual, I forgot.

Therefore, I was, maybe, the only person, other than the author, to read the amazing text written in the sand.

To say it was scratched in the sand belies its beauty - it was as intricately carved as a medieval stonemason's finest work, I feel I cannot do it justice here.

It looked like a manuscript, with such an elaborate variety of font style, with sometimes a word written sideways too. There were individual words such as Helios, Alpha, Ocean, Delta, along with some sentences, all in incredible calligraphy, with letters sitting inside others or in the space left between two complex letters.

There were drawings too – the head and shoulders of an angel, four or five metres wide, a half face, three meters high.

All drawn with a seemingly certainty of stroke, there were no mistakes, no re-writing.
It was fabulous, in the truest sense of that word.

But as I carried on along the beach, it was not the beauty of the written words which bothered me, but the significance of them.

Part of one message read –

‘Help me. My mind, body and soul bleeds yet I lack nothing’

There were some names there too.

When I returned, the incoming tide had washed most of the text away, but I fear that the troubles of this haunted soul will not be so easily erased.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Thread stash addition and work in progress update

Vikki Clayton's hand-dyed silks
- my delightful double delivery!

This is an update of Black Sheep Sampler showing the house completed with another (sadly legless at the moment) sheep added.

Black Sheep Sampler

I have finished the house and another sheep on my Black Sheep Sampler by Chessie & Me. I must say I am really enjoying this project.

I used Sampler Threads 'Soot' in long-armed cross stitch for the roof which in the chart is felted wool. I am considering using this colour for the black sheep too.

I have a monthly delivery of Vikki Clayton's beautiful silks ( but sadly last month's colours went astray somewhere in the postal system. I asked Vikki about possibly tracing them she kindly added them to this month's delivery.
Lucky me!! Double Delight.

When I first started to receive these silks I thought they were almost too pretty to use but took great delight in sorting and arranging them. They are still as pretty - but I do actually use them now. I especially love the variagated colours which make lovely fobs and ornaments.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Seasons of the Trees and Black Sheep Sampler

I have attempted to take some pics of the finished 'Seasons of the Trees' and also of some smalls which I completed recently. Friends tend to like the scissor fobs so I gave some of those away without taking any photos.

I am continuing with Black Sheep sampler and late late yesterday (it was a just-got-to-house-clean day), finished the first group of trees and began the Shaker threads Gold Leaf house. The door is Elongated Smyrna cross which was fun to do.

I have walked Meghan on the beach and so the rest of the day I am devoting to cross stitch! After all, I deserve it!!

Monday, 29 September 2008

This morning I walked the dog very early and it was a glorious start to the day. The sand was so smooth and still wet, reflecting the sun's glow. Cold though!

This afternoon I will go to my Cross Stitch get-together. A lovely group of ladies sit and stitch and share. It is organised by my local cross stitch and knitting shop. Our hostess, Linda, will provide tea and biscuits and we will no doubt spend a happy couple of hours there.

I did very little stitching over the weekend, so I am looking forward to picking it up again। My son bought his first totally new car which arrived on Saturday afternoon, it is a Coupe Cabriolet, so obviously we had to do bit of cruisin'whilst the sun shone! However he has taken it to work now so its back to the real world for me.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Can it be this easy??

I have been keeping a written diary of my stitching efforts for some time, always intending to begin a blog eventually।

Today in a bored moment I began the process of creating one, and even now am not sure if I have succeeded.

However - I will press on regardless - just in case!

I have been stitching for many years and now that I have retired from teaching (can it really be two years?) I find I can actually begin a project AND FINISH IT!!!

After always stitching larger projects, I am caught up in the 'smalls' world and although my finishing is not so hot yet, I really enjoy these small challenges.

I have just finished 'Seasons of Trees' which will be a Christmas gift , although it is not framed yet and am working on 'Black Sheep Sampler' by Chessie & Me using the recommended threads but stitching the areas meant for appliqued wool - I didn't have the the felted wool and was desperate to start! This project is proving very quick as it uses an assortment of stitches which pushes you on to the next area.

So it begins - now I only have to add some pics and hope someone reads it!

Fingers crossed xxx