Belgium and Holland

Had a lovely break recently in Belgium and Holland, taking in the International Quilt show in Maastricht. We took in Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp, before heading to Maastricht for a few days. The weather was kind, which meant that we could do all of the sightseeing and walking that we had planned. We travelled by train, which was an excellent service, our only problem was that we missed one of our connections (our fault) – I would recommend this method of travel to anyone thinking of taking a European tour. The evenings in Ghent and Antwerp were cold, still and beautiful, as you can see below.

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Of course the quilt show in Maastricht was also one of the highlights of the trip. It was nice to catch up (if briefly) with some of the other members of the Fifteen group who were also there. As an international group it isn’t often that our members are in the same place at the same time. I’ll show you a small selection of some of my favourite quilts from the show, though of course there isn’t room to show many here.

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I always come away from quilt shows feeling that I’m raring to go, full of enthusiasm and ideas, and ready to start on a big project. However, once I arrive back home and I’m faced with a blank ‘page’ I always feel daunted. If only that “show” feeling lasted a little longer!! Well, anyway, I’m now plodding along with a couple of small projects, and trying to finish my big hexie-quilt as a Christmas gift, so at least I’m doing something. Perhaps I’ll start a ‘serious’ piece in the New Year. We’ll see!




Here comes autumn

I’ve noticed that autumn has started to sneak in ‘under the wire’ just lately. There are a few leaves starting to gain their party colours, but not in any numbers yet, but the countryside is starting to look mellow, and the afternoon light has taken on a golden tinge. The colours always inspire me, and start me thinking about warm fires and hand stitching We have enjoyed a few walks around the Peak District (our local patch), and I’ve tried to take a few picture – see what you think. Perhaps some of these will turn up in new designs (watch this space!)

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I would like to tell you that I’ve been really busy with my sewing projects … but I would be lying! My major achievement since I last wrote was to finish my latest Fifteen x Fifteen quilt. It was  on the theme of ‘Botancials’ this time, and I chose to base the deign on the seed heads of Teasel and Sweet Cicely (see below and in the ‘Fifteen’ tab under my Gallery pages).


It’s not what I started out to make, but then my pieces seldom are!

I was at a loose end after this one, and slightly hindered by a back problem so I didn’t want  to start anything big at the moment. I decided I would try and work on one of my (many) unfinished pieces. Whether it was the thought of the moors, or the coming of autumn in my mind, I’m not sure, but I picked up this bit of hand-stitching that I got disillusioned with a few weeks ago. It doesn’t seem so bad now that it’s been hiding in the bottom of the sewing basket for a while, so I’m going give it a second chance (I’ve given it a stern talking to and told it that it needs to behave this time!). Let’s see what happens next.


Once the back is better, I have a couple of big projects that I want to get started on, but those are still in the planning stage, and you know what happens to the plans of mouse and men. However one of them will be a Christmas gift (sorry to be the one to bring up that word), so I can’t get sidetracked too much – hopefully I’ll let you know how that goes.


Janet Bolton Workshop

In an earlier post I said I would say more about Janet’s workshop that a friend and I attended in Lampeter, Mid Wales in July.

We both thoroughly enjoyed the slow pace of the day, enjoying the hand stitching of patchwork pictures.  Janet is a lovely, gentle lady with quite a sense of humour, which I think her work portrays.  In preparation for this workshop I had done a piece of work, which was a little ‘workshop’ featured in Janet’s latest book,  ‘Fabric Pictures, A Workshop with Janet Bolton’, see  below.


Whilst I really like it, I am conscious of the fact that it is not really ‘my’ work, so I tried to do something more ‘me’ in the workshop, see below

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This piece I do not like, it seems too contrived and hasn’t got that naive quality I associate with Janet’s work.

I have done a few more, trying to find my own style, but I don’t feel happy with them.

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This is from a drawing I made some while ago and it is all turned applique, a slow stitching method but because of its’ sometimes outlines, I think it is more in keeping. I’ve added the sketchbook page ..

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I had to do another sketch which simplified the shapes for the turned applique..

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So, not all our work turns out as we would like, but it is always worthwhile having a go.

Until next time, happy stitching,


Scrap-bag work

Thought I’d better add my latest update, after Marg’s excellent contributions. I’d like to say that I’ve been really busy stitching away, but in truth the sunshine has tempted me outdoors too much lately.  One of the things I love to do is play around with scraps of fabric and ‘stuff’ that I save in my copious scrap-bag. This is something I tend to gravitate to when I’m stuck on something, need new inspiration, or just don’t know what to do next! So of course, when I’d been distracted by hiking and outdoors, this is where I turned to re-motivate myself – and it’s no surprise that what I came up with were two landscapes. Here they are:

scrap-bag 1     scrap-bag 1 close

scrap-bag 2    scrap-bag 2 close

Most of the rest of the time when I’ve sat down with my needle has been spent completing my latest challenge for the FifteenxFifteen group. This month the challenge was Architecture, and my piece is called ‘The architect’s sketchbook’ and I’ll add it to my gallery of 15×15 images (in the tab above).

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Our hiking has been mainly in our usual haunts around the nearby Peak District and we’ve also been away to the Lake District for a lovely family holiday.  So, just to show where I’ve been whilst playing truant from stitching, here are a few of my favourite distractions!

Peak district – wonderful weather:-

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Lake district (not such good weather, but lovely anyway) :-

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Now – what next!!



Jenny Wren

A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that our little wren, which had been flirting about all over the garden for a couple of weeks, had not returned to her baby chicks .  By now, it was about 7pm and we were getting a bit concerned.  Help from the internet told us that sometimes the nest is left for a  while by the parents in the hope that the chicks will leave the nest and also that towards twilight the chicks would stop chirping and go asleep. We checked about 9.30pm and sure enough, all was quiet.  Sigh of relief.

The next morning, about 7.00am the chicks were madly chirping and there was no sign of our wren.  We phoned Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, who said they would get someone to call and check the nest and if necessary take the chicks away for care at their centre.  In the meantime, it would be beneficial to try and feed the chicks with small caterpillars, spiders and the like!!  Whilst my husband rushed off to the pet shop to buy some mealy worms, I scouted round for caterpillars, but found only one, as they had to be very small ones.

During his absence, one of the little chicks fell from the nest.  I managed to put it in a shoe box, but sadly this one did not survive.

Peter was quite successful in locating the nest entrance, finding two baby wrens and feeding them mealy worms, no small feat.

The man from Staffordshire Wildlife Trust collected the nest about 11.30am and took it away to their centre, saying that we had done a good job in keeping the survivors alive, adding that we could check on their progress tomorrow, which we did and they had both survived the night and were doing well.

I wrote this little poem in remembrance:-

We really thought it wouldn’t be long
Before we’d hear your cheery song
But we waited and waited to no avail
And your dear little chicks began to wail
We sought some help from The Wildlife Trust
Swift action and care was surely a must
To save the lives of your chicks so sweet
With their bright yellow beaks and enormous feet
So wherever you are, be it close or afar
Know that we’ll keep our doors always ajar
In the vain hope of hearing your shrill little songs
And seeing your nest just where it belongs

and here is a photo, albeit not a good one, of the chicks

Jenny Wren

Be back soon.




New Ideas

I love flowers in the house all the year round and ususally buy some when doing the grocery shopping, but this year I decided that from 1 June, I would buy no flowers, but instead only use the flowers grown in our garden.

My husband, who loves to garden, made two cut flower areas for me and between us (mainly him) we planted those plants recommended for being good for cut flowers.

My mum-in-law also likes flowers and when we visit I take a vase for her.  My efforts this week are shown below

FLOWERSPerennial sweet peas, yarrow, echinacea, I’ve forgotten the name of the little white bauble flower, but it doesn’t mind being cut and keeps on flowering.  The red leaf is physocarpus, a new foliage plant this year and the colour seems to go well with any cut flower.  Mum in law was chuffed to bits, saying how much she loved the vase as well, which was a gift from my sister in law.

I enjoy thinking up new ways to display flowers and when I was tidying my shed, which I have to do on too frequent an occasion, I found these little glass jars, which I think I intended to put liquid dyes in, but I have not been able to find the right sized cork, so I thought………..

New idea

I think it looks really good, again I’ve used the perennial sweet peas and in between put rosemary and mint herbs.  As the display is quite narrow, it fits quite nicely on a narrow windowsill.

Moving on from flower arranging, earlier in the year I bought a new blouse for summer.  The first time of wearing it I must have dropped something down the front, hadn’t noticed and so the stain, whatever it was, dried and would not come out once washed.  I was determined not to relegate the blouse to my already huge pile of things I use for messy jobs in the shed, so read on.

One of my favourite stitchers is Janet Bolton and early last month, a friend and I attended one of Janet’s workshops, which I thoroughly enjoyed – more about the workshop in another post.  Janet wore a grey twinset and on the front of the jumper were two small round appliqued patches.  I was intrigued to know why they were there, but was too shy to ask, hoping someone else would, which they did.  Janet told us that someone had made her laugh when she was drinking a glass of red wine and she had spilt two drops on what was her favourite jumper, hence the patches.  So this set me thinking, I hope you like the result of my efforts.

Repaired Blouse

I prefer it now than before, loving the uniqueness of it.  I had to add a few embroidery stitches down the front edge as well just for effect.  I think this will become addictive and am on a quest looking for older blouses which could benefit from a few hexagons.

Hope you are enjoying the summer and I’ll be back soon.




More from Ruthin Craft Centre

Ruthin Craft Centre
A few more photos, some of Pauline’s large quilts and some lovely ceramic animal ornaments which were in the next gallery. Hope you enjoy the photos.
Ruthin Craft Centre,
Park Road,
LL15 1BB
Open daily 10am – 5pm admission free with ample parking
A large cafe is open daily too.
Have a look at Pauline’s website for many more photos of her beautiful work.


Wonderful Quilts

No, unfortunately they are not mine, but have been designed and made by Pauline Burbidge.

We went to Ruthin Craft Centre in Wales to view this wonderful exhibition.  Pauline was very generous, having created a video of her process and provided files showing samples of the raw materials she uses and processes.  It was well displayed, and the gallery is very large enabling visitors to stand back and admire.

Just a few photos follow:-

I will show a few more in another post.



It’s been a while since my last post, and my excuse this time is that I haven’t really had anything finished since the last time I made an update.   The exception to this is that I have finished another piece for the Fifteen x Fifteen group – this one was on the theme of ‘circles’, and you can see it in my gallery tab (above).

IMG_2585Now I need to confess why nothing else is finished, and this will show you exactly how my ‘butterfly mind’ works! As you know I was working on my hexagons, and I was loving doing these, and now I have the basis of the quilt top, but I need to cut and stitch some more hexies, as a border, then back it and quilt it. I don’t know about you, but making the top is the bit I enjoy most, and the quilting is the less exciting part – so of course, I’m making excuses to myself, that I need to do other things.


Well, happily Margaret suggested that we adopt a theme, and create some pieces based on that. That meant that me attention was of course taken up with the new theme, and the quilt put aside again. We chose “Connected” as our theme, and my starting point was nuts and bolts (which I did have some pictures of), and things which physically connect things together. I studiously started off using a sketchbook to map out some ideas, and of course, in my case, that soon went by the wayside a bit, as I started getting bits of fabric and threads laid out in front of me!

I started with this little piece :

IMG_2587 IMG_2586  – which you may not think has anything to do with nuts and bolts, but it did look like some of my pictures!! I liked this and started laying out more bits of fabric and things that I liked, and these became my next sidetrack –

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As you ca see, they involve some needle-felted fabric that I’d done some time ago, cut into the squares that I needed. the only trouble was that one of the squares was the wrong colour, so I decided to work on it a bit, and needle-felted some more bits onto it. This made me remember how much I enjoyed doing this, and when I was fishing about for fibres I found a half-finished piece that I decicded to fiddle with : –

IMG_2582 – not sure that I liked this so much, or what I’m going to do with it, but I do like doing this, so I continued, and found some wonderful wool, that I think will make a good landscape.


So now – I have a selection of unfinished pieces!! So what do you think my next move was ? – I went hiking!! – well you need to make the most of the sunshine, don’t you?!





This and That

Today we met up with our long time friend Chris, who is very kindly delivering our quilts to the Uttoxeter Quilt Show, which opens Friday, 22 April to Sunday, 24 April.  Chris is entering one of her exquisite embroideries in the show, so if you are in that part of the country next weekend, it is well worth a visit.

Joan has already shown her quilt entry, so I thought I’d show you mine


This work in titled ‘Endeavour’, as in all the work I do I always endeavour to do better


Close up of the top section


Close up of bottom

This ‘quilt’ is mounted onto heavyweight vylene, which is covered on the right side with painted papers.  It took me ages to fathom how to keep the neck section upright, but I think it’ll be OK.

Glad it’s ‘done and dusted’ as now I can get to my next ‘project’.

Joan and I have many and varied conversations about how much ‘stuff’ we have and talk at length about finding ways of reducing it.  Today I made a start and quite a bit was consigned to the bin and a lot more packed in bags ready to take to the charity shop.  Phew, I feel a lot better now.

As artists/makers or whatever we choose to call ourselves, it is amazing and also quite frightening just how much we accumulate and it becomes quite a storage problem. My next course of action will be to sort out some pieces to donate to the charity shop.  Our house just isn’t big enough to accommodate it all.

It’s been a horribly wet afternoon today here in Staffordshire, but luckily I took these photos earlier this morning, so I’ll end with a few shots of some of my favourite garden flowers.  Have a nice weekend.