Thursday, 18 October 2012

First box finish....and a Daisy

Hello again,

My promise to blog more often was hardly worth the screen it was written on!

However, I have been busy.

I look at many blogs (ah ha - that's where my time goes!) and have always wanted to try a box finish. But there were difficulties.

For example, where do I get a box from?
What do I use to paint it with.
How will I attach my design, assuming that it will fit the space?

(Can I just say that I know that since I retired from teaching, my grammar has deteriorated. The first sentence in my list should say ' from where do I get a box' and the second 'with what should I paint it'. I know this and still I write like what I have wrote!)

Anyway, I found a box (at a Garden Centre, would you believe!) my blogging friend Carmen suggested acrylic paint, my stitching friend Anne worked out dimensions and stitch counts and I stitched it and stuck it in!!

This is the outside, the box is painted dark brown. I didn't attempt to distress this one, but I think I will next time.

This is the inside, with a wool felt needle page, a green check background and a little pocket for holding scissors. I was going to line the sides of the base with fabric, but choose instead to just paint it green. I am quite pleased with it - for a first try.

Also....another first try.

I am, she said modestly, now a jeweller.

I know!!!

My friend found a really good offer on one of those discount coupon sites for a day making jewellery, so we bought tickets and sorted out our beads. was so much more than bead threading. In fact there was no bead threading. We worked with copper and silver and hammers and punches and saws and stuff. And the best thing was, after only four hours, we actually had something decent to show.

We began with copper and I designed (for truly I am also designer of fine jewellery) this little tree pendant. It is a bit rough and ready I know, but it was only a practice piece.

Then we were allowed the real stuff........ ooooh silver!!!

This is my attempt. My favourite flower, a daisy.

I couldn't find a plain chain, so popped it onto this amethyst bead one and I love it.

This is a craft I could get into. (into which I could get!)

.........If it wasn't for the stitching, and the stained glass, and the spending of hours reading about other people's lives.

Hey Ho.

I think I should have retired when I was 21, then I could have tried all these things.

I am attending a class by Betsy Morgan at the beginning of November. She will be in the beautiful Cotswolds visiting our Sampler Guild and I am really looking forward to it. I will be stitching the Casket Etui and the Tall Square Year Box ( those are all the right words but not necessarily in the right order!). I am just about finished the pre-stitching.

About time you say? I know already!

My lovely setter Meg has has so much trouble recently. She is in hospital as we speak. She quickly developed diabetic cataracts which made her blind but luckily our pet insurance covered her to have them removed, which happened last Tuesday. Then she got an infection behind her eyes which gave her a lot of pain and could have blinded her permanently. We rushed her back to see the specialist veterinary eye surgeon and he was able to operate again and save her sight. She needs another 24 hours observation and then we can bring her home. She is such an amazing, patient, lovely dog. I really believe she knows that whatever we do we are trying our best for her. Can't wait to bring her home.

Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post. I really appreciate you calling by. Be assured that I read all your blogs too, even if I don't always comment.

Lots of love Irene xxx

I am sitting at my little desk in the bow window as I write and have just noticed that Bronte has eaten the tassel holding back the curtain. B.......y dog!!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Quaker ball- finally bouncing.

Here she is - my Quaker ball finished.

In fact the whole finish was very easy, much easier than I had anticipated, but it took quite a long time.

This artistic (!) photo makes the ball look as though it is floating in a sort of ephemeral way, but it's not, it's sitting on top of the glass funnel of a candle stick-thing.

I roughly counted how many sides I had to stitch together, and it's about 54.


That's about 13 small ornament finishes.

And you thought I was just sitting here!

I showed it my son who thought it was a lovely ball - for the dogs to play with.

I wonder where he is now, that boy of mine.

I have to tell you a perfectly true story.

I was sitting quietly stitching together the two halves of the ball and as I was nearing the end, with only a few sides left open for stuffing, I began to realise that it would actual take quite a bit of filling to get that firm finish I was wanting.

I worried that I might not have enough filling to finish the job and thought I had better check.

I walked through the house to the room where I store my sewing stuff.

And saw this.

Honestly - this is what I found -

While I had been in my far-away-happy-stitching place, Bronte had chewed up a cushion.

So.......problem solved then.

I finish today with this little photo; taken in bright sunshine, but so pretty I thought I would share it.

I found, in an antiques fair, this old test tube stand, and I use it to display small flowers and greenery throughout the year. I think these little flowers are some kind of anemone. They grow almost wild in my garden, but I never planted a single seed.
Nature is wonderful isn't it?

We are having a lovely September here in England, hope you are too.

Thank you for your most welcome comments.

Love Irene xxx

PS. Lucy, I tried to email you but it just kept returning. Can only think 28 or 30 count linen for the Spring Rabbits. xxx

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, 27 August 2012

Quaker Ball

I know!

Here I am again.

A feast or a famine - that's me.

Anyway, whilst I have been away from you, I have been stitching, so I have a bit to show.

I thought I would start here with Amaryllis Artworks Quaker Ball.

There was a lot of debate about how big the finished article might be, with arguments about whether the given measurement was the circumference or the diameter. It clearly states Circumference, but this did not satisfy everyone!

I chose to stitch the middle size, fearing that the smaller one might be a bit tricky to manipulate for finishing.

And I liked the colours!

It was charted for 32 count linen, but I had a nice piece of 34 (or 35?) so I used that. I began by using two strands of the recommended WDW but didn't much like the effect so stitched over two with one strand.

Also, it had a border of chain stitch and I began this stitching with a confident toss of the head - after all I could chain stitch when I was five years old.

Mmm - I pulled it out because it was so wobbly it was untrue, even following the running stitch guide and resorted to my usual back stitch.

I am halfway through joining now. The finishing is easy, just a bit tedious. The instructions and diagrams ate excellent.

The ball overall will be bigger than expected ( see above ) but the joining squares are less than an inch when the edges are turned in.


Let's see.

These are the pieces of the second half of the ball, just starting to join them.

And this is the first half completely joined, still with some tacking stitches showing.

Interesting eh?

Love Irene xxx

PS. I am still experimenting with BlogPress and have changed the picture size. The results can't be seen until the post is published. If they are far too big, or just silly, I apologise in advance.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A test posting using Blogpress

After having so much trouble combining text and pictures using Blogger, I am trying out Blogpress.

I use my iPad for just about everything now; it is so much quicker than my laptop or netbook.

Let me see if I can add a picture - any picture will do!

Well.......that seems to have worked.

This, by the way, is a photo I took in a very wet Ireland a couple of years ago.
Ireland is green and beautiful.....and very wet!!!

Now I need to publish and see what happens.

If you are reading this, sorry it's so boring, but if it works, I will definitely blog more often and it will hopefully be about stitching too!

(I found a video online which demonstrated how to use Blogpress. Sophie, whose video it was, sounded about eight years old - Heyho!)

Love Irene xxx

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chaos. Oh - and a bit of stitching.

In the olden days, those golden days I now refer to as the BB Days, my life was easy.

I would flutter a duster around, walk my obedient and obliging setter, Meghan, in the morning, then after partaking of a little light lunch, she would sleep and I would stitch with her by my side in companionable silence.

In those balmy, hazy, long-forgotten BB Days.

But now I have Bronte.

Here she is at 6 months.

In a rare moment, when she is actually still.


And here we are after she has brought in a plant pot full of soil and scattered it over a white(!!!) rug.

Note the now-perfected innocent 'Wasn't me' look.

I was going to show the toy this stuffing once belonged in, but really - it was just too awful.

Note the small log retrieved from the garden. 

The white cafe-style lace curtain from the kitchen door.

This looks bad, but if you could see the brass rod it hung from............


And now the really serious stuff.

A barely recognisable chart, not even stitched.

Oh - and the little red scrap??

Wall paper.

So, in the midst of all this chaos, I did manage a little stitching.

I needed something which was repetitive, easy and achievable and these
Prairie Schooler Christmas Strawberries were the perfect choice.

I could pick one up, stitch a little and then put it by without too much trouble.

I found a finishing site which gave excellent instructions and I will add it later.

The valves on this computer took an age to warm up this morning and I daren't leave this page even for a moment to check the website address.

I made a little collage of the individual strawberries
the side you can see in each one is the seam.

I know!

I'm getting the hang of this sewing thing.

There is some old saying I think, which suggests that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade?

 I cut out some of the lace motifs from the ruined curtain and may well use them
as backing on some small ornaments.

I am not going to be beaten by a six month old dog!!!!

Thank you for calling back after my long absence.

I have to sat that Bronte is not the only reason for me being missing for so long.
My mum was in hospital for 3 weeks and is making only a very slow recovery and Meghan, my sweet and lovely dog, has been diagnosed with diabetes and although she is doing well, she has a couple of major operations to face yet.

Lots of love  Irene xxx
PS. I have been away for such a long time that Bronte is now nine months old. I have had such problems with Blogger that I tried to publish this post three months ago but could never, after hours and days of trying, achieve text and pictures together.
So I gave up.
To spite Blogger!!
Ha ha. That showed you, didn't it Blogger?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Thistlewood - finally finished!

In 2010 I attended a class organised by The Sampler Guild here in the UK and taught by Jackie Du Plessis.
There were three projects to complete, Briar Rose (tick) Treasure of Comforts (tick) and this third project, Thistlewood.

Now Thistlewood has been languishing in my 'to do' drawer ever since.

I almost completed the Thimble / Pin keep during the class - but then discovered that the grosgrain binding was joining at the top rather than the bottom - so disheartened, I dismantled it and put it away.

Recently I was asked about it and so I retrieved  it from its resting place, blew off the cobwebs
( yes, really -  cobwebs)
and decided just to finish it.

Not to mess about with it, not to play with it, not to worry about it,
just to finish it.

So here it is.

Ta da!!!

The first picture above is the roll wrapped, with its matching thread waxer and thistle scissor fob.

This is the grosgrain tie at the back ( and the thread waxer in case you missed it first time) 

Here we have the roll opened out and looking a bit crinkled.
The stitching here was the pre-stitching for the class.
Jackie mostly talked us through the various finishing techniques.

The inside showing the detachable thimble / pin keep and some of the pockets and needle pages.

I realise it is quite difficult to see because of the rich purple and green silk, but I hope you can see that the inside fittings were quite complex - and not a little off putting! 

Here are the two sides of the thimble keep with the little thistle scrims.

Oh I know its a bit wobbly - but hey - it is finished!

Now to see some of the pockets.

Above a little two opening 'free standing' pocket tied with a silk ribbon.

The thimble keep in place ready for rolling up and the wool needle pages with the little fluff remover gadget with a crystal thistle end.
The final two pockets.
The purple one with its little pleated thistle shaped extra pocket, gathered in with the silk ribbon again
and lastly
the green one with a different method of gathering with ribbon.
So what do you think then?
Not perfect, but on display and no longer the home of choice for holidaying spiders.

Before I finish, can you say
'thistle scissor fob'
'little thistle scrims'
20 times without stumbling
Not easy!

Welcome to my new followers and thank you everyone for all your lovely comments last time.

Love Irene xxx
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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Bird in Hand. Pup in Trouble.

I have only just got the hang of a mattress finish and really like it, so when I was pondering what to make as a thank you gift for Patti the technological genius and keeper of the 'Tapestry of Dreams' and 'PS I want to quilt too' blogs I remembered a promise made long ago to stitch her
La D Dah's Bird in Hand.

So here it is, now received by Patti who loved it.
This just shows the mattress finish.
It wasn't designed thus, so I added a middle row of crosses for interest.
It is backed with a subtle cream check cotton fabric.

I made two of these.

One I gave away and forgot to photograph and this one.
It is - I think - another La D Dah.
I really like their designs.

I will count this as my first Christmas ornament of 2012.

When you are not involved in a boyfriend/partner/husband relationship with anyone
(pause here for sobs into handkerchief)

it is easy to let Valentine's Day pass you by
(draw deep breath and carry on through bleary eyes)

and I almost did, so this was a quick stitch for my nephew Toby to give to his girlfriend
on Valentine's day.

It is 'Be Mine' by the Sisterhood.
Aw - come on - you knew Bronte had to be here somewhere didn't you???
This is her waking up.
Is she allowed to sleep on the sofa?
Can we get her off the sofa?

Looking out to sea.

This dog, may I tell you, is just fascinated by water.
 So ..... every time we put down a bowl of drinking water she either puts her paw on the edge and drags the bowl backwards, causing a tidal wave until it is empty, or alternately she stands in the bowl on one foot and paddles the water out with the other.

In spite of being politely told that it was too soon to stay here, my mother arrived last week and spent the whole of her time sitting on a sofa barricaded in by the fire guard!
She chose to leave three days early.
(Mmmmm so not all bad then)

But...Bronte also stands on my feet leaning on my leg when she is worried, is inordinately happy to see me every morning, wags her tail in joy all day long, and backs up to the cat wiggling her
little bottom.
The cat is not as impressed by this cuteness as we are.

My clothes are tatty, the cushions are chewed, the garden is empty, the carpet is frayed and the kitchen is flooded - again.
But ...we have decided to keep her.
Thank you so much for calling by
Love Irene xxx
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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Not totally puppy - honestly

I am aware that this blog could easily become dedicated to the exploits of my two dogs, especially this little one.

So I am going to try hard not to let that happen, but to just show the occasional picture as she grows, and the odd sentence about her development.

So... she had her visit to the vet today and her first vaccination and she behaved very well except for wriggling to be down on the floor and crying pathetically when I wouldn't let her.

Nicola asked how Meghan had accepted her?
Well sadly - not very well at all.
I thought that she would be fine, but she is very jealous and tired of being attacked by Bronte's needle-like teeth.
She climbs onto the chair and tucks herself in, but nothing saves her as Bronte runs across the floor and launches herself at her.

We are trying to give Meg some peace by leaving Bronte in another room for a while, and by taking her out alone for a walk, and just to be in the car with us when we go shopping.

We are really hoping that the situation will improve and it may have done a little yesterday when Meghan seemed slightly more tolerant of the ninja pup.

Now briefly to things more creative.

This is a stained glass pear I finished just before Christmas at my class.
It was difficult to photograph, and it is a bit wobbly-edged, but not too bad.
I made this as a Christmas gift for my friend Anne.

It was my first mattress finish, but will hopefully not be my last as I really enjoyed the finishing.

It is 'A Quaker Pincushion' by Carriage House Samplings.
I used Hand-dyed-fibres rather than the recommended Au Ver a Soie and stitched it over two (text over one) on 36 ct Pearled Barley by Lakeside Linens.

Anne gave me this in return.
It is a 3 sided quaker ornament with different quaker motives on each of its three sides.and beautifully finished.

Not beautifully photographed - but beautifully finished.
Thank you so much Anne.

I tried and failed once before to show pictures of Helmsley, a little market town in North Yorkshire which we visit often.

I got the pics then from their web site and they didn't show up on my blog, so master photographer that I am (as illustrated by Anne's ornament above) I took these myself.

This little stream runs along the back on the market square.

This shows a typical stone-built building and the bridge over the stream,
and below another view from that bridge.
It is a pretty little town and very popular with visitors.
There we go then - not totally puppy.
Thank you all so much for your lovely comments about Bronte. It was so nice to read them.
She is lovely and sloppy puppy kisses are the best. And I am trying not to mind that she has just pulled the braid off the chair.
I have new followers too, so welcome to you especially and I hope I can produce something of interest for you when you visit.
Love Irene xxx

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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Bronte arrives

Is this the most glorious creature you have ever seen?

This is Bronte, our new Irish Setter puppy and she is wonderful
( and eating the cushion as I type!)
The light was not good for pictures so I sat her on the desk where I have the computer and she promptly fell asleep.
She is a little butter barrel with enormous paws.

And very NAUGHTY!
Yes - looking innocent here, but notice the shoe behind her?


But who could not love such a face?

She seeks company all the time and yesterday fell asleep with her head snuggled under my chin
snuffling and mewling softly and dreaming.

And maybe missing her mum and dad and 11 brothers and sisters?
We'll try to take their place in her life.

I'll try to post more pictures soon, but now there are little widdlies to be dealt with.

I doubt I will ever sew again.

Wish me luck.
Irene xxx

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