Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tulips and more!

Hello, Dear Readers,

I took the opportunity to do some sewing at my handicraft group this week and hope to have my Spring Purse finished by the weekend - and if the weather is bright enough there will be pictures!

However, I would just like to show you the pretty display of tulips we have at the moment.  And some plants which flowered earlier, specifically with the bees and butterflies in mind, for the time when there are not many flowers about.

We have opted for the natural, wildlife look, this is to encourage newts, slow worms and frogs and maybe hedgehogs too, if we are lucky. Strimmers are definitely banned!

Tulips and narcisus


Flowers for bees!
The bees love this plant - it's a shame we can't remember what
it is called, as it is now at least 10 years old 
Pond flowers
Marsh marigolds thriving in our garden pond

Forget-me-nots and my cat!


Flowers for the bees
Another favourite for the bees!
Rhubarb patch
Our amazing rhubarb patch!  It seems better than usual this year,
I think we must be having just the right combination of sun and rain
Flowers for bees!
More early plants for the bees on the right.
Tulips, forget-me-nots and Erysimum
Erysimum, forget-me-knots and tulips

I hope everyone is enjoying the Spring flowers (not just our flowers here, I mean out and about!).

We will be going in search of bluebells this weekend and hopefully some more cowslips.

Keep well, "see" you soon.

Barbara xx

Friday, April 24, 2015

A stroll in the Sunshine

Hello, Dear Readers,

One day last week we walked, on a bright and sunny morning, to search out a rare geological feature.

We passed these healthy, happy, free ranging little ladies.


These two were not too interested in me once they realised that I wasn't going to
feed them!
Spooky tree, I'm afraid the wee pixie just dived out of sight
 before I could take his picture!
Hovings Hole
An area known as Hovings Hole
(Unable to track down why though!)
Nore Hill
A little bit of  hazy April sunshine, adjacent to Hovings Hole.
Nore Hill Chalk Pinnacle
This sign describes what we were searching for.

Nore Hill Chalk Pinnacle
Nore Hill Chalk Pinnacle.
When we first saw this pinnacle approximately 30 years ago it was much more impressive, taller and more defined, and not covered in grass/scrub.     
Chalk Pinnacle

We felt quite awe inspired to look down at this only remaining pinnacle where once, many, many years ago there would have been scores of them in the surrounding area.

Having achieved our objective we then retired to a nearby pub for refreshment and recouperation before walking wearily home.

"See" you soon!  Hope you are doing something nice this weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bobbin lace and a bag

Recently I was going to publish a post asking if there were any bobbin lace makers in the "bloggesphere" when I found the pictures of Deanna7trees of eclectic-meanderings' lace and the lovely bag that she made to carry her lace bobbin pillow.

The following, and the picture bottom left on this blog, are from a kit I bought a couple of years ago.  I thought if I managed to make these items I might take some lessons.  However one of the kind ladies at the handicraft group I attend is quite an expert and she kindly puts me right when I find I am a little stuck on how to do it!  I know there are classes locally but I can't find the time to attend them at the moment.

This is my wip. It wasn't easy to photograph!

Close up

Bobbins on pillow

Carrying bag
Bag for lace pillow
Bobbin lace and a bag

Its coming along slowly....

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Embroidered Phone Case Tutorial - of a kind!

Hello, Dear Readers,

Front view

I love embroidery and Suffolk Puffs, therefore I just had to stitch another "little make" using both.

1st and 2nd pages of instructions

3rd page of instructions

I used a mixture of imperial and metric measurements as I am trying to change over to metric.  Seam allowances not included, but generally I have used 1cm.

Layers of main fabric, wadding and backing fabric

My method for making Suffolk Puffs (also known as Yoyo's) can be seen above.  There are also lots of instructions on the web showing how to make them.  Mollie Johansen of  Wild Olive wrote a great tutorial with some very pretty photos.  I couldn't link directly to this, but if you search for "How to make fabric yo yos" on Mollie's blog, you will be able to find it yourself.  The article is dated 7 January 2015. An equally good but more technical tutorial can be found on Pinwheel Ponders - Yo yo Pomander (Ball Ornament). 

A couple of other bloggers who are featuring Suffolk Puffs on their blogs at the moment are:  
  • The contemporary stitcher - Karen Ruane - who has some gorgeous "puffs" on her lovely pockets,
  • Deanna7trees - on an amazing hand dyed dupion silk pocket.

But back to my phonecase....

Embroidery finished, frame removed
I use a frame to stitch my embroidery.
Template to help work out the finished size
Using a template to centre embroidery when putting the
 pieces together.

FRONT:  The flap and wrist strap were attached before adding the lining:

  • The flap is 5.5 x 4cm and I drew around a cotton reel to make curved corners. I placed the wadding with the main fabric RS up, then inserted a pony tail elastic (ensuring the larger part was within the body of the tab) and lining RS down, stitched a seam around it, leaving the top edge unstitched to turn through.
  • The wrist strap was 2.5 x 26cm.  The long edges folded to the centre and folded in half and top stitched by machine to finish.  

Front - inside out
Attaching the lining

I left a 4cm gap on the bottom seam for turning.  I clipped the corners, being sure not to cut the stitches and turned the fabric through the gap, pushing very gently to make the edges curved.


  • I made and attached an elasticated pocket for my earphones, approx 7cm deep x 10cm, and tacked this to the back which is 2.5cm shorter than the front. I added the lining and  stitched the back piece together as the front.

My phonecase was finished by stabstitching the back and front together using Perle thread (topstitch).


  • The toggle is home made - a branch from our cherry tree, varnished and glued in place. 
  • The strip holding the toggle was 11 x 4cm and was handstitched on after completion.
  • I added another Suffolk Puff, button and beads to the flap.
And voila, its done...

Back - view of earpiece pocket, toggle, flap and wrist strap

I hope you have had a super weekend, and that you have managed to make time to do some crafting.

Barbara xx

PS  I'd love to know if this inspires you to make your own phonecase and I would especially like to see any pictures of your makes.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Spring Purse - part 2

Hello again, Dear Readers,

I was working on the base for this purse and thought I'd take a few pictures.

I have used quite a number of layers of material and decided to stitch binding on too, making it quite bulky.
Walking foot
I removed the walking foot and used a standard foot to commence stitching.  Once started I was able to replace the standard foot with the walking foot to prevent the fabric from bunching up.
Breaking the sewing rules!
I think there was a little bit of rule breaking here, as I stitched over quite a few pins!  This made me think of Karen of "Did You Make That" and her recent post.
This still needs considerable tweaking, I have ripped it back where the stitches slipped on the left of this picture and, when I can get it under the needle, will machine it again.

By Googling "how to join the binding on a quilt" I found a great video. I couldn't link to it but if you search for it you will know you have found the right video when you see their blog name:  I tried to find their blog but they seem to be changing hosts.  I am not sure if their method will work on my project, as it is a lot smaller than working on a quilt, but I aim to try.

I must show you my lace bobbin pillow soon, when I have time and the light to take some decent photos.

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend, and getting some crafting time in too!

Barbara xx

Friday, April 10, 2015

An April walk in the English Countryside

Hello Dear Readers,

I previously showed you a couple of pictures from a local countryside walk.  Mary Anne, this is the view through that gate!  Later in the year there are cattle, sheep and goats in these fields, hence the need for gates. 

Looking through and to the right. 
Through the gate and straight on!
Through the next gate
On beyond!
Returning home and that gate again!
Through the gate, view to Whyteleafe and what they call "The Dobbin" beyond it.
I hope the weather is being kind to you today, it has been lovely here.  Another sunny day, but not too hot!

"See you soon", Barbara xx

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Knitted Tunic - Lune in Brushed Fleece by Rowan - update

Hello Dear Readers,

Knitting so far!

Oh! How can I get more knitting done?

Last Sunday I knitted about four rows while I watched Poldark - I guess I couldn't take my eyes off the screen long enough and it was hard to concentrate on my knitting!   Now I have to undo those rows as there was a mistake the row before I started knitting that evening.

Why didn't I see that before I started?  I know, I should have counted my stitches when I finished the pattern row - well I will in future.

This is quite an easy pattern (yfwd, sl 2, K1, p2so, yfwd, K3) with one pattern row followed by two knit rows, a purl row and then when I started to knit the next pattern row there weren't enough stitches, and I now have to rip it back yet again!  The wool is dark and quite thick so it is hard to see the stitches on the needle properly - well that is my excuse.

Unfortunately, I don't think this will be finished till Autumn!

I am on Ravelry and have just added my blog address there.  So I thought I would show an update on my current knitting. There will be more knitting to come too, if I can finish this tunic.

I wrote the above during the week, intending to post but never did and now it's almost time for Poldark again!

I'm ready to knit again tonight, having undone rows, knitted again, and undone again!  But I will get more done tonight!  Nothing can go wrong this time!


Dare I ask?  What are you knitting?

Barbara xx
My Pattern
This is the tunic I am knitting

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

A Spring Purse - part 1

Hello Dear Readers,

It's a lovely spring day here in England. Very warm for the time of year and I am now thinking what can I carry my sunglasses plus other bits and pieces around in as I will no longer be wearing a winter coat with deep pockets!

So today I picked up the purse I started making last year.

I'm making it up as I go along.

On the front some simple embroidery, Suffolk Puffs and a few hexagons.


And on the back more obligatory embroidery, shisha mirrors, and 1" patchwork squares.

The Back

There is an elasticated pocket for mirror or notes and a pen pocket inside (sorry no picture). 

Initially I was going to finish it in the same way as the tiny purse (ie stab-stitch round 3 sides) but now I have decided to add an oval base - just testing here to see how it will fit.

The back

I hope to finish this project soon, but there is still work to do and a zip to add to the top.

Have you had time to make anything over Easter?

Bye for now, Barbara xx

Friday, April 03, 2015

A walk in the English Countryside (Can anyone help me with Blogger Margins please?)

Hello, Happy Easter everyone.

I'm afraid I'm asking for help again!  Although I've recently worked out how to change my margins now my pictures and my gadget column are a bit too close, would anyone be able to tell me what amount they need to be set at to be neater?  I currently have 1000 for the main column and 260 for the gadget column.    Any ideas would be gratefully received.

I thought I'd just share a couple of views from yesterday, when, although it was very chilly, it was a nice bright day, so d.h. and I took a quick walk in the countryside.

On the common

On our walk we passed this lovely Dew pond, overlooked by some old houses which look a little ecclesiastical. Possibly old alms houses?

Dew Pond

About a year ago local residents formed a working party and restored this lovely Dew Pond.   It's looking really healthy now and if you enlarge the picture there are lots of daffodils. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Locket Key Purse

Hello Dear Readers,

We went walking yesterday and spotted these wild cowslips growing nearby on the chalk downland. They are the first we have noticed this year, but with some warm weather they will be out in all their full glory soon. The wild flowers are due to the City of London Commons management system, whereby they don't cut the grass but allow sheep and cattle to graze on the Common which in turn allows a spectacular display of wild flowers to flourish, including orchids, primroses and violets, during the spring and summer months.

That will be a picture worth seeing!  Watch this space.......

Now, have I mentioned that I like to make small things, and love to add embroidery?  The tiny purse I showed recently is one of a group. And I guess you could call this one a locket. I made it to carry my keys during the summer, as many of my summer clothes have no pockets.

Front - Sussex Puff, Shisha mirror with beads and Woven Picot stitch

The flowers are, from left to right: Sussex Puff with button and beads, embroidered shisha mirror again with beads and woven stitch with french knots in the centre, stitched on Osnaburg (which is described as a utility" fabric, used for tea-towels for example - well, it's cheaper than linen and I like the look and feel of it!).

Back - showing stitches: feather, running, long stitch and French knots

The back of the purse is patchwork, made up from scraps of patterned cotton fabric, and embroidered with Perlè cottons.  The stitches are: feather, running, long stitch and french knots;  and the front and back are joined with stab stitches to appear to be running stitches.  All these stitches and more can be seen in Sharon Boggon's Stitch Dictionary "In a Minute Ago".

Sharon is on a break at the moment but has been blogging on Pin Tangle for 11 years (mainly about Crazy Quilting and Crazy Quilting stitches) and is also responsible for the brilliant "Take a Stitch Tuesday", which has held the attention of many of us over the last few years.  I, myself, have found her a great inspiration which indeed led me to starting this blog.  (Thank you very much Sharon).  I was hoping to join in with the Take a Stitch Tuesday "event" but unfortunately I was too late as Sharon started her break at Christmas and I started my blog just after that!   If Sharon's lovely blog is new to you, let me assure you you will find lots of wonderful stitching interest there!

I hope you all have a lovely Easter.


(I have no affiliation to Sharon and the views expressed above are my own!)