Tuesday 31 January 2017

The Art of Boutis ....

Boutis - Is a type of embroidery that became extremely popular in the 17th Century in Marseilles in France and is also known as Marseilles Work and Trapunto.  This embroidery is typically done on white cotton.  When your pattern is drawn and you have two piece of cotton, front
and back and it is secured in a hoop you use a running stitch with cotton thread and embroidering each piece of the pattern separately before stuffing each piece to make a 3D effect.

One of the earliest surviving examples of Trapunto/Boutis quilting is the 1360-1400 Tristan Quilt , a Sicilian  quilted linen textile surviving as two fragments, representing scenes from the story of Tristan and Isolde ; one part of which is housed in the Victoria & Albert Museum  and the other in the Bargello in Florence. A picture found on google to the right.

Boutis quilts, as they are known today evolved from the earlier Provençal quilting techniques. They represent a simplification of the Marseille technique where the motifs in the quilting are larger and the stuffing bulkier. The boutis quilt may feature various images and symbols in its design, such as religious symbols, oak leaves, flowers, fruits and berries, animals, and cornucopia; it might also include naive motifs drawn from the maker's personal life. The term "boutis" is now widely used as a general term for all forms of Provençal stuffed quilting, with La Maison du Boutis (The Boutis House) in Calvisson  acting as a museum dedicated to traditional Provençal embroidery & quilting techniques. The special boxwood needle used for stuffing the motifs is also known as a boutis.

Well It has captured my imagination and the art of stuffing the little bits of stitching with a needle and thick yarn.  You see the true test to see if it is true Boutis is that if you hold up the work to a
window it is completely see through apart from the stuffed  elemants of the pattern.  You can not cheat and use batten in the middle of two pieces of cotton and stitch on a pattern and call it Boutis!

Look at these examples that I found on the internet they are stunning and make me want to have a little go ...

So basically you trace or draw a design onto white plain cotton and then you have another of piece of cotton the same size for the back.  You use running stitch to stitch around each bit of the pattern you have chosen.  It is a must to put your work in a embroidery hoop I think to keep it neat.  Then to stuff your design you thread your tapestry needle with thick cotton yarn and it can be done I have read!  You basically have to get thread into your design bit by bit cutting the thread close to the fabric and stuff strand by strand....

There a some tutorials on You Tube in French but you basically get to see the process for yourself, however I think I may try and get a book on the subject to teach myself this technique properly just so I can do the odd little pretty piece.  I would think it is fairly time consuming to do but what a skill to learn!  I think it would be lovely to incorporate some of this beautiful embroidery into a sampler piece so I am going to give a little design a go and will let you know and show you the results .. good or bad!

I would love to hear if any of you have indeed tried this before and any tips would always be welcome. See you back here on Thursday as you know tomorrow is design day for me.. Thursday will be the 2nd of February ... slow down year you are going very fast!!!

I hope you have enjoyed this little peek into the art of Boutis and that you all have a wonderful day.  Happy Stitching! XX

Monday 30 January 2017

With needle & thread .....

Sew ... a needle pulling thread!

A fresh, although cold and wet, start of the week and I start as I mean to go on.  I did get into my sewing room to sort some fabrics out over the weekend and some new work baskets as well so I am
even more keen to get on with my 2017 projects .... I am nearly done with catch up January, which is good as it is nearly February already!!

I am actually enjoying my cold weather by the fireside
sew-a-thon!  It certainly get things done when you do not actually go out in the work day.  I have been setting myself times when that is all I do .. stitch and to be very honest with you in this very cold weather I am glad and happy to be doing that.

Sorting through pretty buttons and threads for my project baskets that I am making up to begin my new 2017 designs has been such fun.  As you know I love going through my antique fabrics, buttons and hand dyed threads along with all the vintage goodies I have been collecting of late, if you love sewing you will understand what I am saying about just loving looking and touching all the beauty and history contained within each item.
 To be able to bring new leases of life into pre-loved items is wonderful and with the gorgeous way that fabric gently fades over the decades and becomes softer and more beautiful.

Ribbons on reels lined up like little soldiers on a shelf in my stitchery room, waiting patiently for their turn to be used and once again admired ... I could while away hours going through my huge stash of goodies, and I often do!

I found a few vintage carved mother of pearl buttons that I had not yet washed and dried so I had a
mini break and did that as well so they were ready for use at some point.  I have a steadily growing collection and could easily spend a day going through them all .... sigh.

One of the things I love doing when searching about for items to put into a project basket is grouping fabrics together so that I can see how they blend and look, faded floral's, ticking and paisley's I really can not choose between them.

It is difficult to choose sometimes and as I have often said to you all let your work speak for its self so put a few bits together on a table and look at it, go back later and add or take away and keep doing it until you are truly happy with your choices.  Then you can look at your design notes and make sure you are pleased with your planning.  I often know what colour theme I would like by what I have designed but with the so many choices at had it is hard sometimes to choose .. or indeed what you thought would look great maybe will not look like you had hoped or
imagined so it is great to have a little play and get it right for you.

I always stitch on the buttons last when everything else is done because it has been known that I thought that a button would look good just there and it does not... so my very last thing to finish is the button sewing and then I know I am done.

Well that is it for this Monday and I hope that you all have a great day whatever you are up to.  Keep warm and dry and as always Happy Stitching! XX

Friday 27 January 2017

Book Review .... Mark- Making in Textile Art by Helen Parrott.

Layers of fabrics
with threads and slow 
stitching! the art of mark making.....

This is a really lovely book it somehow lets you know that fabric art does not have to be a picture but indeed you are encouraged to stitch with free expression and design.  I sat one evening reading this book and turning each page with such pleasure.  Sitting by the fire and reading and looking, when my husband said to me 'you are enjoying that book aren't you'? I looked up and said 'Yes I really am' and he said 'I know because you are smiling whilst reading' .... and there we are that sums it up really it is such an enjoyable read and with art and stitchery on each page ...

As you open the book there is a little introduction and this is a little part of it...

At the very essence, textile art is about mark- making.  As an artist would use a pencil, an embroider or quilter can use stitch to make marks on fabric - a fundamental creative act.  The making of marks often starts and underpins the entire design process, and a textile artwork is usually made up of repeated
stitched marks.

The contents of this book  has about marks, such as working with repeated marks, considering marks working with marks and words.  There is a section with collecting marks and recording them to use in your fabric and stitchery art forms.

It walks you through sketches and threads and fabrics along with equipment and suppliers.

There is also a chapter on making stitch marks and talking hand and machine work.

Choosing your needles and threads and Helen Parrott is passionate about her subject you can tell as you turn each beautiful page.

One of the things that I read that did make me beam a big grin was the section on Threads and Fabrics and being told that is is very useful to have a good stock of fabrics and threads - in a way it was saying to me my 'stash' was a good thing and that choices of these products helped us create when looking through.... well I was thrilled that someone just gave me the green light that my carefully protected hoard was OK and a good thing to have...   Possibly that is when my husband looked up from his book he was reading and saw such a smile on my face ... Helen Parrott had just given us all permission!! AND I LOVED IT!!

I particularly enjoyed the section on working with the same colour thread as the fabric in a
harmonious way and layered stitch marks too.  You can let your imagination or draw what you see in the form of pattern onto fabric and stitch away.  For example marks on fences, walls, tree trunks or even the repeat of part of a flower or plant ... I have had a go at some designs on paper and had a great time designing patterns with words as well ( you know how much I adore words!)

There is a section on inspiration and that the author sketches and paints landscapes or things to keep as a reminder ( lady after my own heart, as you know I love to snap photos and sketch things I see)

Look at what you can create with a running stitch going around in circles .... It is fabulous.

Well I hope you have enjoyed this taster and I do not want to give it all away.  This book is a big hit with me and I am so pleased with my bale of books that I had as one of my Christmas presents from my lovely hubby.... I thoroughly recommend this book for you to put on your wish list or indeed buy as a gift for a stitchery friend.

I can not believe it is already Friday, where has this week disappeared to, well have a wonderful weekend.  Keep warm and dry and I will be back here on Monday with my stitchery ramblings..

Happy Stitching! XX

Thursday 26 January 2017

Hand stitchery and design ......

Cold frosty mornings
Cosy chair and throw
Open fire blazing and
Stitching away happily ...

The above has been my last week or so and to add to the cosiness of it all we have had thick thick fog as well and I have not been venturing out it it so just creating in the warmth and the the quiet.  There has been less cars going along and it has been a snow like silence all around.  

Its been productive and I have only two more projects to finish completely and then I can open my
design journal and start a glorious new project that I have been designing!!  There are lots of little french knots to be done over the next week and I am leaving them to last to be able to enjoy myself thoroughly.  My Mum has been staying with my sister so I have had no distractions what so ever ..

I have lots of ideas jumping around my head right now about future designs and I am going to get down and really have a good design day.  I have a friend coming to stay for a few days next week again but the joy is he likes to read so we can sit by the fire and quietly do our own thing and have coffee breaks and chats so I get about four hours stitching basically but having gone great guns to catch up I am really getting on top of it all.

In my first of my latest designs which an old song that has inspired me to design and stitch this piece, I am wanting to incorporate some of this gorgeous grey fine lace that has been hand embroidered and so I am still thinking about what to do with it.  You may remember that I actually bought it back in the Summer last year off of Caroline Zoob at a Love Lane Vintage fair..... It has been patiently waiting for its turn to be used in a picture .....   It is so fine to the touch and so beautiful, really not sure if the photo does it justice at all and I have quite a big length of it.

In addition I want to use some cross stitch in another new design I have been sketching and playing with but I am happily finishing off all other projects first, it is like clearing cob webs from your mind and starting a fresh .... Highly recommended ....

We had some sun yesterday and it was easier to stitch some light colour details but it looks like the fog has lifted and the it is now very cold rain .... Miss Muddy beak will be pleased as she can scratch around for worms again.  I have been feeding the birds and squirrel and also remembering to break thick ice on the bird bath for then to drink.  They love the rain.  It is still in single figures here by day and still cold but lighting the fire and candles and stitching I am happy, content and cosy ...

I am going to sort out my stitching room over the weekend as I would like to get more organised on
colours ... fabrics really and make sure I can find my inspiration packs as well.  Then I am going to make up two new design baskets ready for the off, it is always exciting and does not seem like work at all to me ....
Trying to get blues, reds, creams and greens all in their own little compartments to make it easier when making up work baskets.

The other day I sorted all my needles out and my vintage cottons as well so it is easy to get the correct ones for my new designs ... A little bit of tiding and it is easier to find what I am looking for ...

Anyway I hope you all have a wonderful day and as always Happy Stitching! XX

Tuesday 24 January 2017

How To Sew Reverse Applique... its like stained glass!

This is like stained glass 
out of fabrics, and can you
imagine all the gorgeous things
that can be stitched with antique
fabric snippets! ....

Having had lots of requests about Reverse Appliqué I found this little tutorial for you all to watch!
It is really good and shows you how to very simply.  It is a little over six minutes long so why not get a warm drink and enjoy!

This could be used  if you were doing a wall hanging and it could be seen both sides and how
beautiful that would be for a Christmas project, almost like stained glass really.  Maybe a gingerbread house for a child to hang at their bedroom window with the  winter sunlight coming it it would look gorgeous.
I know I know its a long way off Christmas but its worth a think about making for a child's gift most little girls I know would love it .... I might make one for here!

The picture I found on google for you to show what other things can be achieved with it THIS IS NOT MY WORK ... and I could not find in my search who stitched this but it is really lovely ....

Enjoy this midweek tutorial and I let me know what you think.  I am getting on with finishing my Christmas/Winter sampler today and then I will be able to show you, yes I have chosen some words eventually!! tomorrow is design day and so I will see you back here on Thursday and another book review as well will be coming up for those of you like me who adore reading books and love stitchery!

Have a great day and of course Happy Stitching! XX

Monday 23 January 2017

Needle and Threads & the slow stitch! ..

Something about hand stitching and
cuddled up in the warmth with
a fire blazing and a cinnamon tea!

Hand stitching is such a wonderful thing to do I call it the slow stitch but I mean it with much love and passion.  I enjoy it so much and what you can achieve with needle and thread is outstanding and working with vintage fabrics for me is a real bonus and brings beauty and history to any piece that I stitch.

It started out that is was for necessity for clothes and shelter and then it became a an embellishment as
well ... I went on Wiki to see what it said about sewing and the following is from there and not my words ... It is so interesting to read and I wanted to share it with you sewing lovers ....

Sewing has an ancient history estimated to begin during the Paleolithic Age . Sewing was used to stitch together animal hides for clothing and for shelter. The Inuit , for example, used sinew from  caribou for thread and needles made of bone; the indigenous peoples of the American Plains and Canadian Prairies used sophisticated sewing methods to assemble   tipi shelters.Sewing was combined with the weaving of plant leaves in Africa to create baskets, such as those made by Zulu weavers, who used thin strips of palm leaf as "thread" to stitch wider strips of palm leaf that had been woven into a coil. The weaving of cloth from natural fibers originated in the Middle East around 4000 BCE, and perhaps earlier during the Neolithic Age, and the sewing of cloth accompanied this development.

During the Middle Ages, Europeans who could afford it employed seamstresses and tailors . Sewing for the most part was a woman's occupation, and most sewing before the 19th century was practical. Clothing was an expensive investment for most people, and women had an important role in extending the longevity of items of clothing. Sewing was used for mending. Clothing that was faded would be turned inside-out so that it could continue to be worn, and sometimes had to be taken apart and reassembled in order to suit this purpose. Once clothing became worn or torn, it would be taken apart and the reusable cloth sewn together into new items of clothing, made into quilts, or otherwise put to practical use. The many steps involved in making clothing from scratch (weaving, pattern making, cutting, alterations, and so forth) meant that women often bartered their expertise in a particular skill with one another. Decorative needlework such as embroidery was a valued skill, and young women with the time and means would practise to build their skill in this area. From the Middle Ages to the 17th century, sewing tools such as needles, pins and pincushions were included in the  trousseaus of many European brides.

Decorative embroidery was valued in many cultures worldwide. Although most embroidery stitches in the Western repertoire are traditionally British, Irish or Western European in origin, stitches originating in different cultures are known throughout the world today. Some examples are the Cretan Open Filling stitch, Romanian Couching or Oriental Couching, and the Japanese stitch. The stitches associated with embroidery spread by way of the trade routes that were active during the Middle Ages. The Silk Road brought Chinese embroidery techniques to Western Asia and Eastern Europe, while techniques originating in the Middle East spread to Southern and Western Europe through Morocco and Spain. European imperial settlements also spread embroidery and sewing techniques worldwide. However, there are instances of sewing techniques indigenous to cultures in distant locations from one another, where cross-cultural communication would have been historically unlikely. For example, a method of  reverse appliqué known to areas of South America is also known to Southeast Asia.

I enjoyed reading this and hope that you did as well it really shows that because of ships and
explorers we are able to be blessed with trade and to get our hands on fabulous fabrics and techniques from around the globe that we all use today.  In turn with the internet they are able to buy antique linens that were woven by hand in mills over a hundred years ago and today are as beautiful but with a time worn beauty that they now have as well.

The invention of the sewing machine has been a wonder and I do still use mine for strength in my work and of course if I were a dress maker I would use it more but think about pre 1920's when still fashion houses still had ladies stitching garments by hand and the embellishments of the 1920 beaded dresses that have hundreds of tiny glass beads all stitched by hand is really quiet amazing!

I love it when I am doing lots of french knots and I know it would not be everyone's idea of a good time but for me it is so relaxing and rewarding!

Well I hope you have enjoyed today's ramble and for me it was so much fun looking it all up and I learnt some things as well, especially about reverse appliqué.... I think a tutorial in that some time might interest some of you.

Have a wonderful day and as always Happy Stitching! XX

Friday 20 January 2017

The Art of Gentle Sewing ....

Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of
 high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never
 more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied. 

 ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859

Maybe a little old fashioned ( being 1859 it would be) but the sentiment is there for me, really the part that says  more at home in my own heart when occupied in creativity and stitching! well that is my take on the above anyway, not wanting to offend any woman who thinks it is sexiest it just speaks to me! and you all know by now I love words!
I am feeling really at peace with my stitching and the finishing off of projects is clearing a shelf in my mind that was bothering me some what.

Days when I can be at home all day and not have to do any errands is a great day for me, I love to do an hour house work and then light the fire and sit stitching, I can do this and think of new ideas and always have a notebook at the ready to jot down my thoughts as and when .....

Well apart from busy stitching away with my month of finishing projects that just did not get done by the end of last year, what with Christmas which is madness for weeks it seems ( although I am a huge lover of it believe me) and of course my Mum being so poorly that it has over spilt to this year and I decided not to start anything else until the items that I have been working on are finished! but sitting
in my cosy armchair and stitching and having a warm drink break here and there to catch up on here to answer anyone or indeed on Instagram or Facebook pages and then you see it happens ... temptation! so this week I might have bought a quilt and a sampler... yes it happens!

Firstly let me show you the sampler by an Emma Blythe Allington stitched in 1871 and I just loved it with all the faded colours and it was so reasonable as well.  Its in a very old frame and its dark wood but I am going to paint it with some chalk paint and distress it over the weekend ... It was such a temptation and you can see why?!
Its so beautiful and I will put masking tape around the glass and chalk paint it to make it a little brighter but with distressed darker bits of the original frame .....

Then it was a quilt now you know I collect them and they are all used at different times of the year as
I love to dress all the beds at home but I was being good and not buying anymore until our hopefully we move to our forever house BUT ... this beauty came up and it is stunning it is also reversible and it has paisley fabric so I was undone, totally mesmerised and in love.  It is unusual and rare and it is a washed out baby blue/grey with the rose bud paisley pattern ...

You can see that on one side the diamond is in the paisley fabric and is edged with paisley all the way round and a light blue ribbon and the main part is the blue/grey then turn it over and the diamond is in the blue/grey as is the edging and the main part is in the paisley .... its unique and I could not pass it up at the really reasonable price that I paid for it ..... I showed my husband and he said go for it because we have never seen anything like this before so I pressed the buy button!

So you see although I have not been to a vintage fair I have been vintage goody shopping anyway!  oops!  What do you think Nicki? isn't it a stunner? ( Nicki is of Quilterdown fame) and she always leaves a comment on my Homespun Facebook page ... yes there are comments everywhere for this blog and I like to reply to all so I have to go on the hunt daily around the social media sites!

Well I am looking into some of your suggestions about the Christmas Sampler words and must decide what will fit and what to actually stitch and get it done.  I really need to finish all my works by the end of this month and believe me its creeping up to the end isn't it .. where does time go! its going way way to fast.

So it is away to my stitching and it is the weekend so I will be back here on Monday, I hope you all have a great few days and keep warm in this very frosty weather that the South is experiencing at least ... The garden is very pretty because it is white with frost but it does mean cracking ice daily on the bird bath for their drinks and feeding them lots as they can not dig in the earth at all.

Enjoy your weekend and as always Happy Stitching! XX

Thursday 19 January 2017

*** Cosy Winter Sampler***

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
 for the touch of a friendly hand and for
 a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
Edith Sitwell.

This is a Hygge mantra if ever I saw one! and it really is true.  I love our cosy evenings by the fire and embrace this cold Winter.  My Nonna used to say that if it was a very cold Winter it would kill off all the bugs and I believe her to be correct with her Italian wisdom.  It gives a fresh start to Spring, although because up until last week we were having a mild Winter the garden got confused! spring bulbs popping up and most unbelievable was that buds and flowers on my rose bushes were out!  To say they are suffering a little at the moment is a bit of an understatement.  I even have sweet peas still but they are dying now ....
I am loving the cosiness of the fires and stitching and when I have to go out, it feels like I am coming out of a little hibernation and I do not want to, loving my cosy days!

So on Wednesday I did some designing and I was happily positioned in our dinning room facing out into our garden watching Miss Muddy Beak eating the meal worms and crushed peanuts that I  put out for the garden birds, she was joined by two robins, two crows, a pair of magpies that we call the chuckle brothers and a Jay!  Squirrel Bond ( named after 007) was busy trying to bury nuts and using the garden shed and bushes like a jungle gym!  and I was happily sketching my ideas .... and playing with some watercolours as well.....

I have been trying to finish my Christmas/Winter sampler and basically I have except for the words to stitch on.  Its not the stitching that is holding me up but indeed which words to use.  Because as you can see I have based my design on the School House Patchwork design there are gaps running
through and I love that I can stitch words through there but its limited space other wise if it over laps it will look odd.  The gap that I will be stitching the words in is the one that runs right the way along under the roof.  There is a design already stitched on the piece of antique linen which when seen up close is gorgeous.  I have used couching stitch for the door and love the heart stained glass window above it.  Each chimney breast is white and red and has little cross stitches on them.  There is a Christmas tree in one window and the other is a red and white blind with embroidery detail. I have to zip around on my sewing machine to secure further then a little embroidery detail on the side and of course the all important words!

I thought about 'Come in & sit a while and have with me gingerbread cookies and Cinnamon tea' or a smaller option is 'Cosy Christmas and Winter Days'  and then there are the words by Susan Branch but it will not fit me thinks ..'Not only at Christmas but all the long year through, the joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you'  and yes dear readers I adore the one that will not fit!!!

I am at an cross roads and do not know quiet what is to be done sooooooo any ideas on the words for my sampler?

Anyway I must away and sorry I am late but was having a hugely long conversation with my Mum and it does befuddle me for a while my head spins because she is not always very with the here and now and talks what I call fruit loop speech bless her.  But I love my talk if I am not seeing her and the best time for her is early morning as the day goes on it gets worse...

Anyway have a wonderful day and please if you can think of some words for this sampler I would be appreciative or if you think one of the shorter words I have thought of is the best one please help a struggling needle woman finish this sampler and get on to pastures new.

Have a wonderful day and as always Happy Stitching! XX

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Book Review... Natural Processes in Textile Art. By Alice Fox

I love Books
I like the moment you open one
and sink into it.
You can escape from the world.

I believe this statement whole heartily and this is the case either with a good reading or stitchery book,
with my fabulous Christmas gift of a book bale I have had some great cookery, reading and stitching books.  I reported on one last week and this is this weeks book review for you.

It is Natural Processes in Textile Art by Alice Fox and it is fabulous.  On the front cover is says from rust dyeing to found objects and is such a fabulous read as well as a source of great techniques to use on fabrics if you wish to.

In the words of the Author Alice Fox says: Work creatively with your surroundings to capture the unpredictability of nature and sense of place in your textile work.  
This innovative guide is packed with inspiring ideas, from natural dyeing techniques with plants and leaves to weaving with found or foraged items, and from rust printing and mark making to building up texture with stitch.

Alice talks about Botanical collecting, responsible collecting and guidelines for picking - As you all know I have been doing this for years now, dyeing my vintage linens with hand dyed and natural dyes and I enjoy it but Alice will put a leaf in fabric and let the
natural dye come out as a shape onto fabrics as well.

There is a chapter on rust marking, foraged fibres and combining techniques and page after page there is something wonderful to read and look at as well.

Keeping records/journal about what your foraged and what results is encouraged and well as you know I am a great advocate for that process and agree totally with it.

Layering in stitchery work is beautiful and adds dimension and interest there are no rules anymore and stitchery in art form has become so free that its only imagination that could hold you back from creating beautiful and unique work.  I know there is still a big place for precise stitching, patchwork and quilting for one and of course dress making, but as far as needle work pictures and embellishments for fabrics is concerned - anything goes.

Layering with different fabrics and textures and adding stitches, old papers and applique with some hand embroidery stitched in for good measure can make beautiful pieces for yourself of for a gift.

As I use only very old fabrics in my work I would not leave a piece of fabric outside to rust with a key in it say because I would worry all night about that little piece of fabric and would probably end up getting up at 3am and worrying everyone with a torch in the garden whilst saving my treasures! but with newer fabrics, and to age them , then it would be fabulous try it out on.  I do however like the idea of the leaf idea and it can be done inside and without too much upset for me or my precious fabrics.

I adore learning new ideas and techniques to be able to put my own mark on with designs and ideas and I am enjoying reading this book thoroughly. The picture on the right, taken from the book reminds me of a slice of bruised apple .. its wonderful.  At school when I was taking my exams my theme for my course work and exam in Art was apples and peppers and all pieces had to be completed in pencil, painting, clay and on the exam day applique and I did pass I am glad to say ... I think that is why this piece jumped out to me....

It is a wonderful read and opens your mind to all the possibilities in fabrics and stitchery so I can give this book the thumbs up for you.

Today is a sad day for me as it was 18 years ago this day that my gorgeous Dad died and I am going to his grave to tidy it and put some fresh flowers for him .... cold or not I am taking time out to go visit for a little chat.

Hoping you have enjoyed a little look and read about this book.  Have a wonderful day and as always Happy Stitching! XX

Monday 16 January 2017

Antique quilt pieces ... with a my own touch.

***Quilts hold love 
in every stitch!***

Well finally I have had some time to do some serious stitchery over the last week.  It has been wonderful sat all cosy in a chair with a fire crackling and me stitching waiting for the snow that never really arrived for us. but that said sewing and waiting has been fun. Hot chocolate ready to make after going out for a walk in the snow, that didn't happen ( had some anyway! as made the Jamie Oliver recipe and its scrummy with a little cinnamon sprinkled in!) Its a dry mixture you make and when you add it to milk in a pan on the stove it goes thick and shiny and tastes divine, not fattening at all!!!

I showed you some of the American antique quilt squares that I bought last year and I have now made my mark on them and  they are ready for the framer! ish!

I have done three and I am really pleased with the outcome.  I have chosen stunning carved antique mother of pearl buttons that sort of go with the sayings as well,
here with the word love in it I have used a heart button.

Then I did the stars one and yes I know 'without' is one word but I made a space because otherwise it did not look right with a gap at the end of the line so I spaced it out! ... I have changed the dictionary!!!

I have four of these star buttons and have used two and am still not sure if I need to make the one on the right even higher than it is because stars are not in neat rows...

Then the final one of this trio is this one has a gorgeous bird antique carved mother of pearl button and it is a dove so with the word comfort in the quilt saying I felt this one was the most appropriate of the buttons that I have in my collection right now.

I feel now not only have the quilt pieces been given a new lease of life and will be on show but the buttons will be as well and not in a drawer never seeing day light and being admired ...  I will be going to my framer on Wednesday and discuss the frame requirements .. I am thinking I would like it distressed...

In addition I  am thinking of adding a few other stitches to them as well but want to look at them again today and see.  If I do then of course you will see after they have been framed but it is looking likely that there will be a little add to them all.  I hate unpicking so I decided to stop here and just have a breather and and take a fresh look at them tomorrow.

Next on my list to finish my Christmas sampler I had started and not finished because of other work commitments for magazine and commission work.... The hand embroidery is finished but I can not decide on the words just yet so actually there is some more hand stitching to do but  I want to be sure on the words I use as they will go across the house in way.  My design is based on the old school house quilt pattern and so there are gaps if you see what I mean, so it has to be correct.  That is my work to do first today ..... decide what to write and then stitch it!
I like a saying but it may be too long and so that has to planned correctly ... decisions decisions!

I have had another idea as well and am keen to start some new designs but January is about finishing all that has been started month!

Having had some ideas that I really am pleased with, my design journal is getting more pages filled and as you know Wednesday is my design day ( at least for a while) and then its blissful stitching time in front of the fire with fairy lights and candles everywhere on these cold darker days of January.

I am making a beef bourguignon for tonight's meal in a bowl by the fire.  A glass of red wine with it will more than likely be in order as well, then my husband and I can chat about our day .....

I have to show you  my calendar for 2017 full of gorgeous sayings and water colour paintings by Susan Branch, I am a huge fan of hers and I am loving this daily dose of inspiration and beauty, it makes me smile.  There are recipes too and it is so me....

Well that is it for today I hope you have a good day and keep warm in this really bitterly cold weather and of course Happy Stitching! XX

Friday 13 January 2017

Sorting gorgeous antique patchwork pieces ....

*** Quilts are like friends
a great source of comfort.
Antique quilt pieces with
history stitched into each 
piece of fabric.***

Quilt pieces, especially the antique ones that I have bought recently from America have started all sorts of imagination going around in my head.  Not only design work but thoughts of each piece of tiny fabric that has gone into the making, about the history contained in each square and thoughts of who stitched it and when exactly, plus was it a wedding gift for a new bride in her trousseau  out of fabrics from cloth that was cut from things to worn to wear or use.  Was it stitched by one person or, as used to happen a gathering of ladies who would stitch and chat as a gathering weekly to complete
big projects ...

When the lady who I buy from in America gets these quilts they are not, anymore, fit for purpose and she cuts out the squares that can be re purposed and sells them on for others to create with and then the stitching and the love that is contained in these quilts somehow lives on and becomes, once again something loved and cherished.  I love having imagination it comes from always reading as a child I believe.  That without leaving the security and comfort that is home to you as a young child you can sail the seven seas, become a pirate, be part of the famous five and discover and solve mysteries and drink ginger beer and eat ham and eggs at a farmhouse you pass along the way!

I am always on the look out for beautiful and unusual pieces of patchwork quilts and this lady is my first port of call when buying from the Internet.  It is even worth it when paying import duty as well.

Some of them are at the framers at this moment just being framed as is but others I am working on adding stitchery and words to.  I actually can not bear for these delicious patchwork panels to be cut any further so wanted to make sure they will adorn walls behind glass to be a thing of beauty to look at.  As they are being framed they can have vintage  Ephemera incorporated as well in the stitching so I am having some fun planning this.

I thoroughly enjoyed designing on Wednesday and lots of ideas were jotted down for next weeks  design day.  Opening and planning your new design journal and seeing all the fresh new pages blank and ready is something special to me.  Getting my pencils and putty rubber out with some water colour pencils in front of me makes me happy .... it is not like work at all.

Someone once said to me 'Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life'! - never a truer word has been spoken and I count myself so lucky to do what I love and love what I do and that I have the support of my gorgeous husband who works very hard indeed.

My first week back at work has gone so very quickly and I can not believe it.  I have done some stitching and designing and sorting but next week it will be serious needlework for me. The weather next week is set to be very cold here with some sunny spells so another burrow down week of stitching by the fire.  Would you believe though, even though we have had some very hard frost here that I still have two of my rose bushes budding in the garden!? No I am amazed by it.  My little pink one in the back and the coral coloured in the front ... You have to admire their tenacity, you really do!

Well that is it for today and I will see you back here on Monday, for a while I will not be doing a blog on a Saturday as with my work and my Mum it is very busy so for the Start, at least, of 2017 my blogs will be Mon, Tue, Thur and Friday.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and as always Happy Stitching!XX

Thursday 12 January 2017

Book review ... Embroidered Landscapes by Judy Wilford

***We loose ourselves in books
we find ourselves there too ***

This was one of my precious presents this Christmas and I had a lovely few books in my bundle I can tell you.  It shows stitches and ideas for landscapes and how to build them up.  I was so impressed with this book and how it shows you to literally paint a picture with threads... 

This is a book that if you love embroidery and reading that you can loose yourself in the pages ...

It encourages you to look around you and to perhaps take an idea from a landscape and recreate part of something adding in your imagination as well.  There are some beautiful photos of this ladies work and it really is a joy to sit and loose yourself in for a while ... I have spent some wonderful hours with my head in this book in my break over Christmas and been absorbed in the embroidery stitches as well.

I have written notes for myself with my own ideas based on this book and come up with some wonderful ideas that Judy Wilford has encouraged and coaxed out of me within the pages of this wonderful embroidery book.  The picture on the right conjures up Hawaii or tropical in some way with the rolling hills behind with the flowers at the forefront and trees and bushes behind ... its stunning!

Places that are special to me that I want to go and photograph and design from and what I might add to the thread picture to make it even more unique ...

To be encouraged and nurtured into having your own ideas and thoughts and not to copy someones work is what being an artist is all about, that a book can inspire you and make you think for yourself is wonderful as a designer and stitcher but equally if you do not do it as a job there are things you can copy and stitch for yourself in there as they are not being sold, plagiarism it is said is a form of flattery but it is lack of imagination and lots of my stitchery
friends who are in business have had their work blatantly copied and floated out as that persons own work.  We have often all laughed at the fact that we have thought of the same thing to stitch, that said although it is the same thing the designs are so different and unique to our own way we work.  One example of this is I made some Santa keys before Christmas and so did Suzi of Hearts 'n' Kisses and we laughed about it, along with Christmas trees from the same materials, its what happens but you can see they are different designs and makings ...  Indeed there is one thing in this book that I have done with French knot stitches in the same sort of picture but not by any way shape or form the same.

The photo on the left is one of my favourite pieces of stitching in this book - Winters Morning and it captures the beauty perfectly for me.

With simple stitches and some imagination you can paint a picture with threads and a needle and it can look outstanding.  I have fallen in love with this book and on Christmas day when I opened it, I just wanted to stop and read it immediately which you can not do when you are hosting the big day, but I did get half and hour sat in bed with it before lights out just to flick through its inspiring pages.

Take a look at these grasses with seed heads they are so effective and look wonderful ... I love to French knot seed heads but may mix it up a bit now.....

This is such a beautiful book and I know you can buy on Amazon but you can order it from your local book shop to support them too.

Just a peek to get your interest and I hope you have enjoyed it, believe me if you are starting a book list this year and enjoy sewing then this is one for your first page of wishes. Its a great book to spoil yourself with or to drop hints about for a Birthday present.

Just a quick note to say that before Christmas I did a journal for someone as a commission for their Great Niece .. Daisy's Memory Book and I was sent a beautiful picture and email about how much the Mum of Daisy was over the moon with it.  Mum is going to start of the memories for little Daisy and then Daisy can take over in a few years.  It was so wonderful to get feedback and I am so thrilled that I said yes to this after I had closed my order book.  I enjoyed stitching it and it meant a lot to me that it was so well received and is treasured.

The poem that I wrote inside brought a few wet eyes as well I was told and they were very happy.  A family heirloom of the future for Daisy to show her own Children and Grandchildren  one day.  I have since got some more orders for these ....

Well that is it for today as some serious sewing has to be done, not forgetting my love of candles and general Hygge warmth and cosy life style that has banished our Winter blues in this house.

Have a great day and as always Happy Stitching! XX

Tuesday 10 January 2017

The art of Hygge was made for stitching!

Hygge - pronounced ( Hoo - gah)

January and February can be very bleak and very cold, not as cold as a Scandinavian country but never the less after the twinkling lights of Christmas come down it can be a colourless and bleak time.  So the Danish along with other Scandinavian countries have learnt the art of HYGGE and I am all for it and with them.   

To me they have the right idea.  Hygge is translated as snug and coziness .  They light their fires and
candles, have throws and quilts around.  Sharing warm food with friends and family and creating a warming and cosy atmosphere within their homes to get them through Mid Winter months (they have snow and it is very cold but we have cold and ice too)

I have lots of candles around with throws and quilts and we light our open fires and choose to sit cuddled up with either a good book, watching the odd film or in my case hand sewing.

We toast our toes in front of the fires and I make hearty and warming meals ( we call these meal in a bowl!)  We will eat our meal by the fire sometimes or we do sit at the table with candles and talk
about our day.  Then we snuggle down to a dvd together or indeed both reading or my husband reading and me hand embroidering or knitting ..... (I am trying out something with wool .. I am not a great knitter but I am giving something a go)

On these very dark days I light the candles  through out the house, the stairs in our home have always got fairy lights wrapped around them as do our fire surrounds .. they are a permanent feature and a way of lighting up the house with a warming glow!

I think instead of getting miserable about the Winter it is better to embrace it and make it cosy and inviting and a time to relax and re charge.  I adore our open fires, one is a log burner and the other is a Victorian black enamel  and when they are lit it brings such light and warmth into the rooms and will cheer most people instantly.  I curl in a chair and stitch, sometimes with a little back ground music or just the crackling of the fire .... I make a cinnamon tea and embrace this cosy season!

For us in our home it is a life style choice to embrace every season and make the most of what it has to offer.  It does not mean we do not move!  There is nothing better than going for a walk in the frosty weather and coming home and lighting the fire and having a warm drink and cosy down with candles and relaxing ..

Tonight I am going to make a Cassoulet for supper and there are so many different recipes to choose from.  There is a reason that in that word soul is mentioned because it truly is soul food and a one pot supper that is warming especially if you have a little bread with it to dip in.  The recipe I am using tonight is the Hairy Bikers and is from their love food and diet book so you see you do not have to think it is really fattening either .... it is a chicken and ham one with sausage, tomatoes, butter and cannellini beans with chilli flakes too & lovely vegetables ... warming, hearty and not lots of calories per portion!

Well yesterday I had a little sort out of the stitchery room and got some stitching ready to get going on.  I seem to fall in love all over again with beautiful fabrics, patchwork pieces, buttons, lace and threads when I go through them.

I got my new design journal ready too so that I can do some design work tomorrow.  I had some wonderful calligraphy bits for Christmas and I sorted those out because I would like to use a little bit of this in my stitching work this year ...... Words are important to me and I love to incorporate them into my work, be it part of poem or saying or indeed just a word - such as Dreams.  A word can conjure up lots of thoughts in my head and for me they are a very important part of my life and design work.

I sorted my 2017 work and personal diary out yesterday too and then managed a few stitches as well.  Today though it is all about the needle and thread and getting on with finishing a few bits and starting new projects for magazines and commissions as well.  One of my New Years resolutions was do complete some personal projects as I just have not had the time lately,  so I have decided that maybe I start earlier in the day and finish earlier so that I can have a couple of hours daily with my own design and stitch work for us...

This is the year we really want to move as well so will be looking out eagerly by the end of Feb for any new properties being floated on the market .. then I can start to take some workshops as well.

Well I  have the candles all lit and about to light the fire .. my basket of stitching is ready and the kettle is now on.  So it is time to settle down to some serious work ( which I love) and get on with some things to be able to share with you all.

I will be back here on Thursday so please come and join me for my stitchery ramble.  Have a great day and keep warm, as always Happy Stitching! and enjoy some Hygge of your own. XX

Monday 9 January 2017

January & the start of a new stitchery and design year.

For my love of Vintage,
Stitchery & embroidery.

Welcome all to the start of Homespun Stitchworks year of stitchery talk!  I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and New Years Eve and you are all ready to get on with creating and looking forward to my ramblings about my love of vintage and stitchery.

Well firstly I would love to share with you today one of my gorgeous Christmas Gifts and starting with the red stitching sampler picture that my husband bought for me ..  it is stunning isn't it.
It is already hung with care and I keep walking past it and staring at its beauty, I am a very lucky girl indeed.  I am glad I waited to decide where to hang it because it is in a totally different place than I had been heading for when I was intercepted by a horror struck husband .....

This particular School stitchery sampler is in reds and whites and when my husband bought it for me before Christmas, as you know, I was with him.  It is Circa 1870 and stitched by a C Jones.  It names the school as Yates School, which is around the Bristol area.  I am going to see if I can find a C Jones around that time in old school records ... This task would have been so much easier if the young lady in question had one, stitched her full first name and two if her surname was not Jones and a more unique surname, however I have got a lot of interest in this so I am going to give it a go!

Another thing I learnt from the lady my husband bought it from is that usually if a school sampler of
stitching techniques was done on red fabric it meant it was stitched in a workhouse or orphanage! I did not know this.  In this case however she said it was not the case as she named the school.

Did any of you get any gorgeous stitchery or stitching books for Christmas you would like to share with us all, if so please do I would love to hear about it. Any books that you would like to recommend?  I had some so I will start a few book reviews over the next few weeks, if you do not have any of the ones that I am going to show you then you can start a list of them, because there is always Birthdays or treat yourself days ..... I had a bale of books as another Christmas present from my hubby and I always look forward to these.  Included in this bale were some lovely cook books, as some of you may know this is my other passion, cooking!  I had one on pumpkins, mac and cheese recipes ( one of our favourite suppers) another on just chicken dishes and a great baking book.  Then I had several calligraphy books which are fabulous and then came the stitching books!!  I had some beauties so I will be sharing them with you.

Literally I have not picked up a needle more than 3 times over this Christmas break but last week I was able to snuggle down in the chair in front of the fire with some hand embroidery.  I have, however, been pleased that I have had lots of ideas for 2017 so I will be having a design day a week for a while again to get the ideas on paper and I am excited to get started and back in a normal routine as well.

We had Christmas here at home and our great friend from Devon joined us from the Wednesday before until 27th of December with family and friends joining in on different days it was really lots of
fun.  Silly hats ( got pictures to prove it!!) and fun and games.  Then we packed up and went back to Devon until the 2 January, it was my turn to rest a little and get cooked for because our friend is a chef ..... It was wonderful.

Whilst in Devon I managed a trip into Honiton and to my favourite little antique shop.  It was open between Christmas and New Years Eve so I was able to amble around at my leisure and yes I found a few goodies to share with you.

As you can see I bought a few bits, two very old
wooden coat hangers, a gorgeous 1930's perfume bottle ( that picture does not do it justice but I will show you a close up) some linen covered buttons, tiny mother of pearl buttons, and several gorgeous pieces of hand embroidered cotton lace trimmings and the patterns are stunning - thrilled is not the word for it.

The close up of this gorgeous little perfume bottle.  For its size it is heavy and has the detail of cut glass and square shape of the era.

I have a tiny collection of antique perfume bottles and this fits straight in with them.

Over this festive season we were lucky enough to meet up with some great friends at their home, Liz and Jack of The Washerwoman fame and had lunch with them.  We chatted and caught up and it was not long before we were all talking vintage, fabrics and fairs!  It will not be long because this year there are some fairs starting in February I believe but I need to find out some facts.  The one thing I am sure of is that the Vintage Bazaar is back on Saturday 4th March 2017 at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Devizes SN10 1HS.  How do I know? well I had lunch with two of the organisers of the VB ... Liz and Jack! ...

So there is one for your diaries already, if you have not ever been then its highly recommended and to kick you off for the season ahead there can be no better .... I will be there so if any of you are going and spy me, come and say hello. If there is a pile of beautiful fabrics, buttons or lace .. I will be the one head first into that!

Well that is it for today as I really need to kick start this year and get organised and find my basket of stitchery.

I have missed writing my blog and I hope you all enjoy another year of my ramblings.

See you tomorrow and as always Happy Stitching! XX