Sunday, 8 March 2015

Quercus Robur

From tiny acorns do mighty oak trees grow.  Quercus Robur is the English Oak, there is actually a huge number of varieties.  It is incredible when you see some and think just how old they are, the centuries they have seen and changes in the world.  I love the thick trunks, patterns in the bark, and gnarled old branches.  

Searching for acorns on the ground and the tiny cups they fall out of, just the right size for fairies in my imagination.  The feel of the smoothness inside the cup and the lovely bobbly pattern outside.  

The Oak is one of the easiest to identify and as a child I can remember gathering leaves, drawing around them and also putting them under paper and rubbing over the top with wax crayons.

The Oak takes a mighty long time to grow and so too did one of my sewing projects that was totally inspired by it. Once upon a time, well sixteen years ago to be precise, one of my sons was a  Beaver Scout and took part in a special activity day in the County arranged as the Chief Scout was visiting.  One of the activities was planting an acorn and he brought it home to grow.  As it grew he kept re-potting it, and it is now taller than him.  Actually I think the growth has been stunted as it is still in a pot, albeit rather a large one.

Perhaps this inspired my son, certainly he has always loved trees, he was constantly climbing the giant eucalyptus tree we had in the garden, and he even went on to learn aboriculture at college.  Anyway, I decided to make him a quilt using 'Shaded Oaks' flannel fabrics by Moda.  There, even the name of these fabrics links to the Oak and it was the colours and more masculine designs of these fabrics that appealed to me as well as well as the brushed flannel itself.

Always keen to play, I used textile paints on real leaves from my son's oak and printed them on to some of the squares.  I then embroidered around the edges and on some added veins.

Some of the leaves were smaller and disintegrated a little but I think that adds to the charm.  Some leaves I just drew round and then embroidered, stem stitch, back stitch and chain stitch.  

I found some gorgeous variegated threads from 21st Century Yarns.  The shading worked really well.

My mother appliqued an oak leaf using fabric that came from my grandmother's stash, a satin stitch edging embellishing the edge.

My daughter stitched round an oak leaf too.  Generations creating a quilt, stitched with love, and hopefully will last for generations to come, seeing history just like the oak trees.

Last year, for the first time, our oak produced it's own acorns, something to celebrate in the quilt.  I used a detached button hole stitch to make the acorn cup and it seemed to work quite well. 

Slowly the pieces went together and into strips.

Eventually all pieced and ready for a border.  Another Moda brushed flannel was ideal, with trees, saws and boots, lumberjack inspired.

The whole top was then hand quilted so it did take a long time and I managed to keep it hidden until the centre was complete, but I am very happy with the result, and far more importantly, so is my son.

Looking at the photos now and seeing the cat hairs reminds me that I had another two 'helpers' in making the quilt.  Two little puss cats enjoyed sitting on the quilt whilst I was stitching and rolling around on top of it every time it was laid out on the floor!

Double trouble!  Although cat hair is quite appropriate as although my son seems to have a magnetism for the cats, he is definitely Miss Mischief's favourite person.


Friday, 23 May 2014

More knitting!

I do like to have a knitting project on the go, preferably something straight forward that I don't need to concentrate on too much.  After the last, rather large project, it was great to do a small one, although on smaller needles so it did take quite a while to do!  This little baby blanket was fun to do as you see what pattern you get as it knits up!  True to it's name the Sirdar Snuggly Crofter Baby Fair Isle Effect wool did indeed give a fair isle effect without the need to change colours.  This mix of pinks, greens, blues, whites and lilac was ideal for a pram blanket especially not knowing what sex the baby would be.

Little Anna Rosa arrived very promptly, before the knitting was finished, but this did ensure I sat and got on with finishing it very quickly! The border was knitted on smaller needles so the sides were worked after the main piece and it seemed to take forever to stitch them up.

What is my next knitting project?  Well, having enjoyed knitting this I have started another one for a baby due at the end of July.  Have to say though that a large sewing project has been taking up most of my time at the moment though - photos to follow!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Busy Days...

Where do all the days go to I wonder, each week seems to rush by and before you know it you are into a different season.  Having got around to downloading images from my camera though I realise just how many things have been happening.  Looking back through them it's rather like a photo diary and although I know not everything has been captured I am glad that there is a record of most.

Back in April we spent a few days at the Norfolk coast, the weather was nowhere near as glorious as it is now but still nice and sunny and we made the most of it.

 So many shells on the beach it was hard to avoid stepping on them in places.

 Lots of birds to watch whilst out on our walks.

 And this mother duck did extremely well looking after her brood of 14 in the middle of Hunstanton.  We saw them every day and she did not lose a single duckling whilst we were there.

I love these chimneys with their fantastic patterns and I am sure they would translate into an interesting embroidery if I ever have time!

 I have been doing lots of crafting activities as well and next time I will show you some of my projects.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

I have been having fun with a pattern from Cathie Shuttleworth recently.  This owl pattern was intended to make bunting and as there do seem to be a lot of owls around at the moment it is rather on trend.  Anyway, I haven't made that many yet and the owls have been making some jolly birthday cards.

I think putting the owls on at an angle makes them look as though they are flying off the card.  The first one has a button beak and for the next one I cut a section from a paper flower.  Usefully the wings fold in for posting so they fit in a standard envelope.

Standing this card on the mantlepiece for photographing made me think of the 'Owl and the Pussycat' by Edward Lear.  When I inked the background of the card, intending to make it look like the sky, I actually thought it was rather like waves.  Thinking of the rhyme now and the 'beautiful pea green boat' the wallpaper is rather appropriate! These two little cats are from Japan though, a gift from a special friend who is working out there. 

Do take a look at Cathie's work, she has some fun ideas and her illustrations are wonderful.  Anyone who has been to the Hobbycrafts show at the N.E.C. this week may well have seen some more of her clever ideas, and I know several people who will like the owl cupcake holder! 

Friday, 21 March 2014

A finished Project!

Well so much for all good resolutions to blog more frequently!  Never mind, each new day brings a new canvas to fill, but the trouble is there always seems to be more than can be fitted in and so many things that I want to do.  I always seem to have a lot of projects on the go, some large and some small, and rather a large number of 'works in progress', otherwise known as the UFOs (unfinished objects)! 

 However, some projects do get finished and this one gave me a huge sense of satisfaction when I stitched in the last loose thread.  It took 18 months to complete but it was a project that wasn't worked on all the time.  I love having some knitting for long journeys in the car, as I mentioned in another post.  This blanket was knitted in strips, rather like a scarf, and some strips are all one stitch and in others I changed the pattern two or three times at random.  There was no pattern, I just knitted whatever took my fancy.  

Miss Mischief never misses an opportunity to snuggle on a blanket, even when you are trying to knit, so as soon as I spread this one out up she jumped, quickly followed by Master Trouble!

I think they knew to make the most of it as it would not be in the house for long.  My daughter had been hoping to take it to University last Autumn and then once she went she kept telling me how much she needed a new cosy blanket, none of the other ones would do!

It looks smaller on a double bed but is actually plenty big enough to wrap around her.

One happy daughter and one happy Mum!  And now there is another knitting project started.  Well I do need something for the car, although actually I have been doing a fair bit of the new one whilst watching television.  Hopefully I will remember to take some photos soon!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Birthday cards

Slightly behind but thought you would like to see two special birthday cards I made in November.  This one was for my mother.

A Coffee and Walnut cake with one candle for each whole decade...

And here is the birthday girl herself with her eldest grandson.

And this card was for my father.

I made the marbled paper a long time ago and it reminded me of the sea so I added real sand, tiny shells and seaweed.  I really love tiny shells and can happily spend hours on the beach searching for them.  The 'Happy Birthday' was a peel off sticker as I thought it could easily be removed if the card was going to stay out longer than usual and I had a feeling it might well do.  Sure enough a month later it is still on the windowsill, minus the sticker.


December Joys

The start of December in our house means the Christmas mugs come out along with Christmas music and carols.  Then begins the start of the mince pie baking.  I make so many each year that it gets to be a bit of a joke and we keep count.  This was the first dozen out of the oven and as I transferred them to the cooling rack I realised that these two tins of mine have baked every mince pie I have made since I got married 31 years ago.  Actually I still have quite a lot of my original tins which is quite amazing considering the amount of use they get.

Anyway this first tray was quickly joined by some more and the blackboard recorded that 30 were made.  However as I went to photograph them...

 there was no longer 30 there!

This week they were followed up by another batch taking the score to 60.  

Then I made a batch of Frangipan mince pies yesterday, I really like the almond topping, it goes so well with the richness of the mincemeat, and with eggs and almonds in it sounds almost healthy!  Well that's probably a good excuse to eat one or two (for me) and considerably more than that by my husband and eldest son!  Good job I photographed them yesterday as there are none of these ones left now.

The mince pie tally is now 74!  It will go up even quicker once the Universities break up and my two youngest return home for the holidays.