Thursday 30 September 2010

Apple Time

It's time to make things with apples here - the scent of apples from the kitchen kept reminding me whenever I left the studio this week.

 My little sampler, made a few years ago to welcome autumn, is standing on the dresser in the dining room and I remembered it too has little apples on it in the form of shiny red beads.

We've got eating apples and cooking apples, though I often cook with eating apples too - especially when they are not in perfect condition and have to be cut up carefully - much better to peel and chop them and put them in chutney!

The big green cooking apples are perfect in the crumbles I love to make (and eat) and I've put some in the freezer to have as weekend treats later in the season.

And there are still some to eat just as they are - an apple (or two) a day.

I hope you have had a good week. And a big welcome to all the lovely new visitors to my blog this week! x

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Buying Bulbs

Last weekend I decided I wanted to plant some tulip bulbs ready for next spring. I usually forget to do this as it's so far in advance! I have got some lovely tulips in the garden, but most were already here when we moved in and the others were a present from my elder daughter when she went to Amsterdam a few years ago!

I was amazed at the vast quantities of bulbs available - so many I hardly knew what to choose - or how many to buy, but I remembered planting a sackful of daffodil bulbs once so knew not to get too many at once or I'd be spending hours putting them in place later on.

In the end I bought 10 Heart's Delight, 7 Candy Prince, 10 Antoinette and 7 Christmas Dream - such pretty names and pretty colours. I decided to plant them in pots and have them near the house. It was a lovely sunny day so a bit of gardening was perfect.

I planted the bulbs in terracotta pots, one variety at a time, and put little labels on so I can see which do best for the future. A quick watering and that's it...

...If I can just keep the sneaky squirrels away we should have some pretty tulip pots to enjoy in the spring time. Hope you're having a great week. x

Monday 27 September 2010

Autumn Knitting

Here are some details of my cosy autumn knitting - which have already been useful as there is a distinct nip in the air around here.

The long cardigan on the left is the Frankie boyfriend cardigan from the book Breeze by Kim Hargreaves. I love her patterns - they are stylish, easy to follow and I love the way the button bands are incorporated into the knitting of the fronts -so neat and time saving. I used Rowan Felted Tweed in Carbon from here.

The second knit (on the right) I call the Soft Grey cardigan because of its colour, Grey Mist - again Rowan Felted Tweed (can you tell it's my current favourite?) The pattern is actually a mix of two patterns, both by Sirdar - lovely clear easy patterns, I used the yoke body pattern from 9013 and the three quarter sleeves from 9018 to get the style I wanted and I'm happy with it.

Now I'm knitting the Blackberry Cardigan I mentioned a couple of weeks ago and I want to knit a baby jumper and some wrist warmers.... and there is a new Kim Hargreaves book out which I ordered today...I do love autumn knitting....I wonder what you're making?

Saturday 25 September 2010

A Crafty Heart

My little shabby chic heart returned yesterday from its recent photoshoot for Sew Magazine which I design projects for sometimes.

This heart was a treat to make because I could play around with some favourite fabrics, patchwork, applique, a bit of cross stitch, embroidery, ribbons and buttons - all things I love to create with.

I decided to hang it on the bed post in the refurbished and newly painted spare bedroom. So now our home has another heart.

Also yesterday a fabric and buttons order arrived from the wonderful Sew and So and I just had to take a picture of these buttons from Just Another Button Company - birdhouses and hearts....Lovely.

P.S. To those who kindly enquired about my knitting in the last post - I will be showing pictures of my two latest knits and giving pattern information very soon. Have a happy weekend! x

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Warm September Brings The Fruit

When I was at my local greengrocer's the other day I found these lovely little bellis daisy mixed plants, which was a nice surprise as I thought they only grew in spring. I remember planting up a big flower pot with bellis daisies and violas one spring and really liking the combination. So here is the latest autumn planting in my special blackboard plant box. (It takes a bit of extra effort because you have to think of something to write on it!) Next to it are some conkers slowly opening and some pears ripening and glowing on the sunny window sill too.
And here is a little peek at my two new autumn cardigans which I've recently finished knitting - I mentioned them in some earlier posts - the Soft Grey cardigan and the Frankie boyfriend cardigan. Both are cosy and great for layering and I like wearing them. I decided to show them with my much loved Persephone book collection - especially good for cosy autumn reads beside the fire.

There was one daisy plant too many to fit into my blackboard box, so I put it in here...

I hope you're having a happy and mellow autumn week. x

Sunday 19 September 2010

Stitching Pink & Weekend Treats

A few days ago I decided it was time to stitch a sampler for Daisy, so first I had to choose some nice shades of pink stranded cotton and find a piece of crisp white linen to sew on.
I've stitched this baby sampler chart before, for Sarah and Rosie, my daughters, and for my little grandson Charlie - all slightly different, with different colourways, but from the main chart that was featured in my very first book the New Cross Stitch Sampler Book. I love to hear from people who say they've stitched this chart themselves, with their own embellishments and how they have personalised it.

One of my treats this weekend were these bright pink asters, so I had these lovely flowers nearby to enjoy as I sewed - it was a very pink and stitchy time at my house.

Another treat came through the post this weekend - these beautiful cards and postcards from Pipany. Her new range is available here - and I was spoilt for choice. Now I'm going to write cards to some friends who I don't see often enough and I know they'll just love these pictures.

A few stitches here and a few stitches there and gradually the sampler begins to grow....I worked out the names and date to fit into the spaces provided (if you design a sampler chart for others to use you have to make sure you leave enough room for those who choose a looooong name!)

Cross stitch is a very peaceful and absorbing way to spend your time, I've always found...
I hope that you had a happy and peaceful weekend too. x

Thursday 16 September 2010

Flag Flying

Today's post is all about flags. The Union Jack design to be exact which has been appearing on textiles in one form or another for quite a while now. I had a go at designing my own and made this cross stitch pin cushion as a project for Crafts Beautiful magazine, accompanied by a little matching needlebook.
I rather liked replacing the usual vivid red, white and blue with pastel shades of the colours, and I used some of my favourite pink and white candy striped cotton to back the pincushion. The needle book uses fab dotty pink felt from Hobbycraft stores.

The vintage effect flag bunting has been hanging in my kitchen window for a few weeks now and will probably stay there a bit longer, until the next decorating craze takes me over - maybe Halloween or Christmas.

The flag cushion is one I bought - I've seen lots of them about, some of them in beautiful fabrics. I like this one with it's cheerful and pretty mix of dotty and floral prints. The tiny flag heart is currently hanging on the dining room door - I'm not sure where it will end up - I haven't found the perfect place for it yet...but I will!

Now I'm off to do a bit more cross stitch - beginning a new little sampler which I hope to show you next time. x

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Nursery Rhymes and Picture Books

I love vintage children's books and here are two I found in the bookshops of Hay-on-Wye last week. The first one is charming - I especially like the little girl's dress with its pale blue flower print fabric and puffball style. I absolutely love the handwritten text in this old book and the mixture of full colour prints and one colour line drawings (done for economy reasons, yet I think it adds variety and richness to the book design).
The second book caught my eye for it's nostalgic cover but then it interested me for another reason too. This copy had been used by a long ago editor to revise and update the edition.

Pictures which were considered too old fashioned were crossed out and annotated with the word 'replace'. Even children's names were being updated too (though if it was to be updated again now they would be putting a lot of the old names back!)

I love this little piece of bookish history, quite a find for me, and I'll treasure it because of its torn cover and crossings out!

The photo below is of a Picture Book quilt, made for the grandbabies to snuggle under when they have a nap at our house - with lots of nursery print fabrics to soothe them as they drift off into the Land of Nod.

Hope your week is a happy one! x

Sunday 12 September 2010

Autumn All Around

Everywhere there are signs of autumn - the colours, the fruits, the grasses, the berries, the changing leaves whirling around, the golden September light. I love it very much!

This weekend I'm busy tidying the garden, seeing the family, washing and ironing the laundry from our trip away, sewing a new quilt and knitting my blackberry cardigan. And baking a crumble or two. Just really enjoying autumn things - hope you are too. x

Friday 10 September 2010

The Town of Books

Hello! It's nice to be back. These pictures are of Hay-on-Wye - the town of books - where we went for a few days this week. Such a pretty place, and it really is chock full of bookshops! We spent part of each day browsing among the books and found just a few we had to bring home with us.
Some of the time we spent visiting little cafes and shops, buying apples from a local orchard and walking by the beautiful River Wye. It was perfect weather so sunny wanderings through the valley beneath blue skies and watching the sparkling water flowing fast between the flowery river banks was especially lovely. (The famous nature diarist Francis Kilvert lived nearby and wrote his beautiful observations of the countryside about the Wye Valley scenery.)

And did I find time to do something crafty too? Of course! I began knitting my Autumn Blackberry Cardigan, shown here against the Hydrangea Quilt which came with us on this trip. The holiday home had a deck overlooking the river, so a bit of knitting went on there while Mr P read the paper...and I did a bit more knitting in the evenings too.

I'm really looking forward to catching up with your blogs now. I hope you have a lovely weekend! x

Monday 6 September 2010

Away Days

A quick message today to say that I'll be away on a little trip for just a few days. I hope you have a happy week. I'll be back soon. x x x

Friday 3 September 2010

Simple Sewn Gifts

Simple Sewn Gifts, my new book, has just been published and this is an exciting time for me. I love books, always have, and still find it amazing that I actually write them too - such a big wish come true! The bunny picture above was one I snapped when working on this book. The doll's bed was from Ikea and I gave it several coats of white paint and then added a little red painted folk heart.
The book has 25 gift projects that are fast and easy to sew, so that you can then spend time being creative, playing with embellishments and personalising your gifts. I've included cross stitch, embroidery, applique, patchwork, paper crafts, buttons and all kinds of yummy little decorative extras which I love to embellish with.
The book has step illustrations for each project which I drew as I created the designs. I loved doing these, it was great to sharpen a pencil and get drawing again, then dig out my lovely rotring pen and mix up some washy watercolour - I sometimes forget how much I love working on illustrations as well as sewing.

The tote bag shown here uses simple patchwork and I made buttons from linen with a cross stitch motif to echo the strip of cross stitch on the bag. The buttons are so easy to do, and you could use the idea in lots of ways by varying the motif and colours.

I had to include some seaside images , of course! There are some beach huts in this book, and there is some seaside bunting as you can see...

Thank you for looking at these glimpses of my new book, I hope you've enjoyed it! If you'd like to buy it, it's in all good bookshops now, on Amazon, or you can click on the book on my sidebar and get it direct from rucrafts.
Now I'm going to make a cup of tea, and start sewing something else! Have a happy weekend!