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, 23 March 2013

I'm so excited!

Winter here in Yorkshire, England is just going on and on and here we are, officially three days into Spring and we have more snow than we've had for years. It started during the night on Thursday and hasn't stopped since. So, to keep my mind off the weather and the fact that it's actually stopping me from going out and doing what I ought to be doing in the garden, I'm concentrating on other things.

Each year our Embroiderer's Guild Region holds a summer school, held in July, where we meet up with folks from other towns in the Yorkshire and Humberside region to spend three lovely days learning a new skill (or revisiting an old favourite) and stitching in beautiful surroundings, meeting old friends and making new ones. There are usually four or five tutors and for the past two years I've spent the weekend learning needlelace with Pat Gibson. This year, however, I'm fortunate to have a place in Owen Davies' class making an embroidered 17th century box garden. This is why I'm excited!

If you're not aware of Owen's work, this is the book he published on the gardens he's made.

 Isn't this amazing?

All embroidered with canvas work and needle lace stitches.

Look at the amazing detail on this brick wall.

Our class is apparently going to be based on the walled garden at Bishop Burton, where we spend the weekend.

Last week I took a trip out to a nearby village to visit my favourite needlework shop and bought this little treasure. The owner goes on regular buying trips to India and that is where this little pocket has come from. It's perfect for holding threads for a project.

Later this year a friend and I are running a workshop on Casalguidi embroidery (not really my decision to do this one) so I thought I'd better practise a bit and this week worked this curvy raised stem bar and some long woven picots. There is more work to be done on this yet, obviously, but I thought I'd show you what I'm currently working on.

There's more activity for the flat above the tea rooms too as I made this comfy armchair and set of pretty fabric covered suitcases.

The armchair still needs to be trimmed with braid but with some pretty cushions I think my tea room owner will be very comfortable.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Yes, there is embroidery

I know that I've not shown you any of my embroidery and, as I'm currently working on a couple of quite large projects, I thought perhaps it was time I showed you the work in progress, rather than waiting for the completed articles. I've been making some very special pieces for someone who I know reads this blog so I can't show you those yet as I don't want to spoil the surprise. However ...

I made another couple of biscornu and I'm calling a halt to this particular project for now. Some of these will probably eventually be put into my Etsy shop but I need to hold onto them until our Embroiderers Guild biennial exhibition in September as they're intended in the short term at least to be table fillers for that event.

I'm  really pleased with how they all look piled into this black ceramic dish.

One of the large projects is a hexagonal casket, which will be covered with fabric (probably silk) with lace motifs stitched onto each section. Here are the motifs ...

Each triangular section of the lid will contain a flower and each of the six side panels will hold a butterfly. There are another three butterflies still to complete. I've made boxes in the past, you've seen some of them pictured on here over the past couple of years, but never a hexagonal one. We have a workshop on box making at the Guild later this month so I'm waiting to see if there is a different/better way to do it before I start putting this together.

When I feel like a change from doing such fine work I've been 'playing' with some experiments in colour using silk fabric (inevitably), beads, stitches and wrapped cords.

 These three are just about finished ...

This one is still in progress ...

and this one is only just begun.
There will be twelve pages in all, I think, and each of those coloured squares will eventually be cut out and mounted onto a larger piece of silk, then made into the pages of a book.

I've also been making some silk paper, which I plan to use as a background fabric for stitching.

This last photograph is a little blurred I'm afraid. I've made some more today in shades of gold and red.

And finally ... some flowers from my garden. We're still in the throes of winter here in Yorkshire and, apart from primroses and snowdrops, this is all that is out there at the moment.

Beautiful hellebores.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Spring makeover and handbags galore

Time to give you an update on progress with the spring makeover in the tea rooms. Well to be honest there hasn't been much progress this week at all as I've spent most of the week making handbags. However ... this is where we're at at the moment.

This was the furniture following its paint job, all sanded to look a little worn and given its final coat of varnish.

The four chairs are heading for the tea room itself.

The rocking chair will look more inviting with cushions and a blanket draped over the back.

I'm particularly pleased with the side table - I even managed to get what looks like a water-mark from a vase of flowers onto the top.

Although now it's dressed it's not so easy to see the water mark.

The book case looks much better with the cupboard doors added to the base and new books filling the shelves.

So here's the room at the moment, with everything back in place - oh, apart from the rocking chair which I left out just so you could see the little shelf unit with its new ornaments in place.

All these handbags are now in my Etsy shop.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Sometimes you just wish you'd never started!

I woke up the other day to sunshine and thoughts of spring cleaning - not my real life house you understand. No! My attention was drawn to the Tea Rooms. For those of you who don't know, the Tea Room was my first build. I made it into an Edwardian period property filled with walnut and mahogany furniture and as time has passed I feel it now looks a little dark. So ... time for a change.

I've removed most of the furniture from the living room, which is where I decided to begin my makeover.

It looks really rather sad now doesn't it? Like a real life removal day.
Some things will remain. The embroidery frame, of course, which is the latest addition to the property. The fireplace is timeless and the wallpaper, which is a neutral cream and brown pattern and which I still quite like.

I'm still happy with the curtains too.

And the little writing corner with its desk, chair and rose painting. 

The blotter and some of the other pieces are actually glued onto the desk so I'm not changing a thing with this. The chair will also remain in its natural wood finish, though I shall probably recover the seat cushion.

The rest of the furniture though, that's all being painted. Several coats of green and cream paint later and this is where we're at. This is where I started wishing that I'd never started! I know that once it's all sanded down and topped off with a coat of matt varnish it will all look fine. I've also put a couple of false doors onto the base of that bookcase, which has always looked a little odd.

Those four chairs are from the tea room itself so now I'm committed to changing at least that room too. At the moment the only room I'm still quite happy with is the attic, but I'll save all of that for another day.

See the pile of books that I've been making to add to the few plain ones that were originally on the bookshelf. If you look closely you can see a bowl of fruit and other ornaments in there too. I think that the little shelf unit may keep its natural wood finish, but I'll have to see what it looks like when the newly painted pieces are in place.

I've been knitting for the tea rooms too - well, actually for the flat upstairs. About an inch into that cream blanket I wished I'd never started that too and it was thrown to one side. The pink blanket is fine - 1 ply wool and slightly thicker needles, which grew quite quickly. Eventually, unwilling to be beaten, I decided to go back to the cream one (Venne Colcoton - which is like sewing cotton - and 1mm needles) and several weeks later I decided that it was finally long enough to throw across the end of the bed. The hot water bottle cover and tea cosy took no time at all to complete. And I couldn't resist making the pair of dainty little slippers.

I've also fallen in love with biscornu. These are clever little items, simply made from two squares of embroidery, stitched together corner to side centre, which are actually intended as pincushions, but I like them thrown in this black bowl as ornaments.

As a footnote ... today is St David's Day - the day on which the Welsh nation celebrates their patron saint. One of my close friends is Welsh and every year I accompany her to the local Welsh Society's St David's Day Dinner. So tonight I too shall be lifting a glass to toast St David and be singing along (albeit in English) to some traditional tunes.

A happy St David's Day to you all!