Thanks for calling by. I hope you enjoy what you see, feel free to leave a comment and call again to catch up on my news.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Furniture in the retreat

This week I've been busy making up for lost time and working on the retreat. The first thing I've made is a dresser for the kitchen area. While I was thinking about the kitchen I sanded down a little footstool and a kitchen chair - just enough to take away that really shiny finish that bought furniture often has. I'll be painting the chair and stool in due course.

You can see that I hung a lace-edged blind at the window too.

The dresser is made from mat board painted with three coats of a medium green emulsion, then one coat of a much paler green. I then sanded all that down a little before giving it a quick wash of water-based wood stain in oak. I left that on for only a few seconds then wiped it off again with a piece of kitchen paper, just leaving a very faint and patchy wash behind. Then I sanded it again (very fine sandpaper) and finally buffed it with a piece of scrunched up brown paper to give it a natural looking sheen. This was all done before I started to cut out the pieces to make the dresser.

I also have a little more stitching to show you ...

Do you remember the sycamore seeds? Here they are on the completed box. I have to say that I'm quite pleased with the result.

At our last embroiderer's guild meeting we learned how to do book-binding and I made this little notebook. I padded the cover and covered it with a piece of blue linen then made this needlelace heart to adorn the front cover. The lace was a bit of an experiment as I used some quite different and much thicker threads than usual but, again, I'm quite happy with the way it turned out.

While I was in Anglesey last weekend my sister-in-law took me to a little embroidery shop close to where she lives and I bought - and stitched - these two little cross stitch designs. Cute aren't they? And they were being sold to raise funds for Cancer Research - so all in a good cause too.

And finally ...

My garden is tiny. I may have mentioned this fact before. Six years ago, when my husband died, I bought a memorial tree - a bonsai crab apple - to commemmorate his life and his love of nature. The tree was already about 25 years old when I bought it and each year in April it puts on this wonderful display of blossom. In the autumn it even produces tiny crab apples.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Holiday snaps

I've been away for a few days and when I return I find that blogger has changed completely in my absence! I didn't realise that there was anything wrong with it before ... but what do I know? I guess that they have to keep busy - changing things for change's sake - whether they need it or not. Aah well - enough moaning already.

I stayed on Anglesey, a small island just off the north coast of Wales, with my sister-in-law and her husband and thought I'd share some of the photos I took with you all. The weather wasn't great so we didn't do an awful lot but it was good to get some sea air into my lungs.

This is a pair of statues which commemmorate a particularly daring rescue by the lifeboat crew just along the coast from where I stayed.

and this is the lifeboat station. You can see that the sun came out for a little while on this particular day so it was quite pleasant walking along the coastal path.

This is Beaumaris Castle ...

And Menai Bridge, which is how you access the island.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this tiny wild flower which has colonised a gap in this old wall.

Then yesterday I went on a coach trip to Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire with my Embroiderers Guild group to see their collection of Tudor embroidery. I'm not allowed to show you photographs of the embroideries themselves, in fact we weren't allowed to take photographs at all of many of them. But this is the Hall itself, largely built around 1600.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A short update

My brother has been staying with me for the past week so not much has been happening in my workshop. The weather hasn't been great and he's not been too well so we've not really been anywhere very far either. However ... tomorrow I'm going to stay for a few days with my sister-in-law and her husband in Anglesey (north Wales) so I'm hoping that the weather improves at least a little so I can take some photographs to share with you.

In the meantime, there is a little progress on the retreat, apart from all that painting of narrow strips of wood and moulding which seems to take up so much time before one can get on with the fun part of a new build.

I finished laying the board floor in the living area and then decided to put in some wall panelling too. I couldn't resist trying the armchair I made in there too - just to see how it will look with furniture.

 I finished the panelling along the back wall and added a fake door and a 'window' which looks out over the woodland beyond the cabin. The sink unit will fit into this corner beside the window. Both flights of stairs are now in place. It's difficult to tell in these photos but the walls are actually a very pale shell pink and everything else is painted ivory. The panelling and the flooring still need to be aged.

 Upstairs around two thirds of the floorboards are laid and the beams are in place. As you can see, lots more still to do but it is starting to come together.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Happe Easter everyone!

I thought I would share some photos of my small but beautifully formed collection of auricula primulas from my garden.

And finally - just to prove that I've been working on my minis too this week - here's a photo of the retreat - all painted and mostly fixed together. The stairs aren't actually glued in yet but I couldn't resist putting them in position just to see how they will look.

I was a little concerned when I bought this kit about just how much space there would be as it's only one room upstairs and one down. But there'll be plenty of room for a little kitchen corner and a small dining nook as well as the living/crafting space and I might even squeeze in a small en-suite shower room upstairs. We'll see. The front of the building is almost all glass and there's a large deck along the front - so lot's of space to fill.

 Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A carpet for the retreat

I finished the rug that I was stitching the other week and I've decided that it will go into my new build - the retreat. There is more progress on the building too as now everything has a coat of sealer and a coat of primer and the walls also have a top coat of Laura Ashley ivory.

The retreat is going to be a shabby chic cabin for a stitcher - yes, in my dreams I would have this little cabin in my garden - well, in the garden of the house that I inhabit in my dreams too. There's no space for a cabin of any kind in my real life garden, sadly. But isn't that just the biggest joy of miniatures? We can have the properties of our dreams.

The walls are all going to be cream and the furniture and fabrics will pick up on the colours in this rug - pastel blues, greens and pinks.

I also finished the four lace sycamore seeds I've been working on. I used Venetian Gros Point techniques to decorate the leaves/wings, and some of them have beads added too.

And here they are, laid on top of the silk they'll be stitched onto. I went for the green silk, though you really couldn't tell that from this photo for some reason.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A trip to London and more

What a busy week this has been! I went down to London to spend time with my daughter and my son and we had a great time in the gloriously warm spring weather! It was unseasonably warm and, of course, I had gone equipped with clothing to suit the cooler temperatures of the previous week so there was the perfect excuse to buy new t-shirts. We made the most of the sunshine though with a visit to Kew gardens ...
This is the palm house, which survives from the Victorian period, and houses specimens from across the world.

The gardens cover 300 acres on the south side of the Thames river and development of the gardens began in the 17th century. In 2003 it was named as a World Heritage site and today the staff work hard to conserve plant life in all its forms.

The magnolias were in full bloom when we visited

I love this huge old tree too. As you can see, no leaves yet!

We also went for a picnic at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent - not really a castle at all, but the gardens here were designed by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson in the 1930s.

This is the entrance to the gardens, where Vita had her office, from which she would have had a wonderful overview of the garden.

The spring bulbs looked glorious!

This is the moat which runs along two sides of the garden

More spring bulbs.

Then yesterday a friend and I went up to Harrogate to the 'Lace Event'. The majority of the exhibitors were selling items related to bobbin lace, which is not what I do, but there were also stands for knitting yarns, crochet threads and patterns and a couple for needle lace. I did buy new threads!

I also bought a beginners guide to tatting, which is something I've never tried before so watch this space for news of how I get on with that.

In between the trips I have also made some thread catchers for Liz's Sewing Room Sew Along. The large patchwork one now sits by my sewing machine to catch all those odds and ends of thread and fabric, one of the two small ones will live inside my project bag, which I made last month, and the other one is a gift for my lace-making friend. 

At last month's miniatures group meeting we made a wickerwork chair - the first one I've ever attempted and, while it's not perfect, I'm pretty pleased with it.

The chair is destined to go in my retreat ... and yes, I've started building.

The walls are up. I really wasn't intending to start this yet but I just couldn't resist. I've had the kit for almost a year and promised myself that I wouldn't begin until everything else was finished. Well, I almost made it. The only thing outstanding is that 48th scale cottage and I'll continue with that in and amongst when I fancy a change of scale.