Tuesday 20 April 2021

Stitching outside and dreaming of Summer evenings .. in the garden.


Oh the Summer night, has a smile of light,

 and she sits on a sapphire throne.

Bath was beautiful, the sun was out, people were laughing, the sun twinkled onto the river. There were not hoards of people out and the only queue was for Primark, thankfully not somewhere I wished to be.

We had lunch out which was a wonderful treat.  The only thing that disappointed me was there was no truffling in antique places, not all were open anyway. So no treasure to share with you all I am afraid.  I will be making a visit to one of my favourite antique places called The Dairy House soon and I know there is another antique centre just basically next door.  Both over several floors so plenty of goodies to look at.

The weather is glorious right now and it brings on Summer thoughts.  Summer evenings sat in the garden with friends sharing some wine and nibbles, with chatter and laughter has to be one of life's simple pleasures that we took for granted once, never again though. 

I again have lots of things I would like to achieve right now and a list (again has been written) the thing is I am so very very tired and I do not know why at all.  Everything seems like such an effort at the

moment. Lack of vitamin D maybe, which I suffered from last year, even in the hot Summer we had.  I am taking supplements but have to admit I am a little hit and miss with tablets.

Well the news here with the very tame lady blackbird is her name is now Bossy Beryl .. if another bird comes near her and disturbs her worm hunt or picking up what I leave out for her to help her busy mothering, then boy oh boy she lets them know. Its a shrill tut like tweet and she means business...  I said to her the other day, oh you are a Bossy Beryl aren't you? and it has stuck.  I am not sure she is that happy with it, but there it is.  Miss Muddy Beak was such a calm lady and just didn't bother with other things around her.  I still miss her and wonder if she is ok.  I am sure that she is and just shrugged off that I was there one day and not the next !

My office/sewing room at the top of the house has suddenly become a slight bomb sight so things have to be put away.  With taking my own photos I gather bits and pieces together and take photos, changing things around, thinking that maybe something else is needed and it tends to get left like it ... I must be more strict with myself and put it away everytime and not think I will do that later.  It  turns into such a job when I do not tidy as I go.

With this beautiful weather and the chance of freedom out in the world right now I am a little restless to be out in it.  In the sunshine it is beautifully warm, although later in the day you know its not Summer just yet.

Vintage truffling is high on my list to want to do, you do not even have to purchase anything .. it is just
so nice to be surrounded by gorgeous wares and see what is out there.  During the week before the school holidays will be the best time so I am going to pencil in a few days to go and do that.

Able to sit outside a cafe and have a drink and watch the world go by is such a treat these days too.

Watering the garden with all the new plants and herbs each day is great too, I talk to Bossy Beryl as I go and if I pick up weeds she is right beside me waiting to go worm hunting in the disturbed beds and pots.  She pulled a huge worm out the other day and I did ask politely if she might leave me some to help with garden soil.. just looked as if to say  NOPE!

I have my basket of slow stitching sorted for today, its just a matter of where it might get done.  My garden furniture is not out yet so its a little more difficult, also the sun is very bright if not under the umbrella and I can not see the tiny stitching very well.  Shade is very needed for that.

Playing around with different French linens ( textures that is) and pretty floral fabrics and adding different thread colours, some very old cotton reel thread and the hand dyed shaker threads has been fun

along with sketching forms of flowers too.

I love doing french knots and a lot of people hate doing it, I find it soothing and mixes different shades of the same colour to shade and make it jump out off the fabric is so much fun.  They are perfect little stitches to use when stitching a flower border I always think.  I am working on my PHD too ( Projects Half Done !) trying to finish things... got you all there eh!

Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland, I seem to loose time in these things and at the moment I am easily distracted by wild life too.  Not seen a white rabbit in a overcoat with a pocket watch yet though, thank goodness, I would have to take to my bed for a lie down I think !!

Anyway that is enough of my imaginative ramblings for today I really must pick up a needle and pick up and put away some bits in my office .. no little mice are going to appear and do it for me, that is for sure ! So until the next time HAPPY STITCHING and as always do take care.

Sarah X


Friday 16 April 2021

Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first - Jane Austen.


I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading ! How much sooner one tires of anything than a book.

Jane  Austen.

I agree whole heartily with Miss Austen, after slow stitching that is and then to read a good book or indeed about stitchery I am well and truly in my element.

History is my favourite thing, be it facts, fiction or artifact and there is something about weathered and worn fabrics with a whole lot of history contained in its weave.  I have missed truffling but indeed this this weekend I am going to Bath to truffle and wander.  Mask will be firmly on and the sun  should be shining, I am the happiest girl ...

The freedom of it was literally breath taking and to have been locked down for 4 months this time, I will never take for granted the freedoms of bumbling in good company.

You see us vintage lot can never really have too much of it.  I have a beautiful stash of fabrics and vintage curio's but what is too much?  I use all of my bits and eventually all the fabrics.  When the courses start then that will use even more.  So I am always on the look out for wonderful old history pieces, be it stitchery or literature and of course writing.

I wonder at things, if they could speak what tales they could tell.  Who used to own them?

 I have an imagination that is for sure. Often when I read it is by candle light and in my head I can hear my darling Mum saying " you will end up in glasses young lady, if you strain your eye sight like this!"  Well she was probably correct in her assumption but as yet I do not need glasses .. and now I can not tease her about it, which is a bother!!

If adventures to not be fall a young lady in her own village she must seek them abroad.

Jane Austen.

Anyway as I was saying, I am going to Bath ( not quite abroad but it feel like it!) and I bought a few things and thought I would share them with you. this week in our local charity shops.

Firstly I bought this little jug which is for butter warming in, its great for just melting a little to baste with and it was only £1.20 and really has not much of an age to it, however it was love at first sight and it sits happily on my dresser for use.  I popped it through the dishwasher for safety covid reasons.

Then I bought two wonderful Jane Austen novels one from 1933 and one is 1939. Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice and the photos for these are at the introduction of this blog.  Gorgeously faded in the right places with some stunning sketch illustrations. 

These books are just right and of course Jane Austen had a connection with Bath.

The sun is shinning today and it is set to do so tomorrow for my day out and to tell you I am really looking forward to it is a understatement to be sure.

This morning I will make a small journey down to the River Stour and have a little walk to see if the Otters are about and to blow away any cobwebs, it is far to nice to sit in all day and I find a good wander helps the rest of my day be very productive indeed.

My stitching is set out for me and I will be doing some beloved slow stitching as well as a little housework... It has to be done!

Other news is there is a very tame lady blackbird and she really does not bother about me in the garden at all.  She reminds me of Miss Muddy Beak not only in looks, she is a lot fatter though and she has a muddy beak too, digging for worms etc.  I am trying to name her at the moment and feel a name will come to me eventually.  This weekend I am going to get some bird food for her.  She has taken some bits of vintage fabric so clearly she is nesting around here somewhere.  I see her every day whilst watering the plants....

Well that is it for today as I must get on.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and as always ...

HAPPY STITCHING! and Keep safe.

Sarah X

Tuesday 13 April 2021

Slow stitches and sewing seedlings!


Stitching by the river watching the Kingfishers

What a delight and a sure treat.


 I am pleased to say that the garden is coming along and I am impatient for things to grow.  The climbing rose is going to slowly for my liking .. I long to see it cover the arch over the gate and hang with large white scented roses.  I have oodles of patience in stitchery but it seems not so much when I am waiting for plants to establish. Still nature will do her thing, in her own time .. and so I wait!

Being by the River Stour is a blessing, really only a five minute walk to the River bank and on a warmer day it is a delight truly.  I pack a little basket with some slow stitching, journal and often a warm drink and sit there sewing and watching the world go by.  People watching and always an eager eye open for the odd otter or two.  Its peaceful and it is soothing for the soul. It reminded me of this poem:

If I could patch a coverlet
From pieces of the Spring,
What dreams a happy child would have
Beneath so fair a thing!
A centre of the dear blue sky,
A bordering of green,
With patches of the yellow sun
All chequered in between.
Bright ribbons of the silky grass
Laced prettily across,
With satin of new little leaves,
And velvet of the moss.
In every corner, violets,
Half-hidden from the view,
With many-flowered squares betwixt,
Of pinky tints and blue..
Embroideries of little vines,
And spider-webs of lace...
With gold-thread I would sew the seams,
And needles of the pine;
Oh, never child in all the world
Would have a quilt like mine!

~Abbie Farwell Brown, "Spring Patchwork," 1901

I love that little poem and the blue of the sky and the sun shinning all be it a little chilly it came to mind

whilst sitting on the seat by the river. This is the joy of slow stitching, you can take it anywhere with you, it good to go in a basket.  As the days get longer and much warmer, lots more of this will happen I can assure you.  Sat in the shade of huge trees I will be taking my lunch there on some days.

The shops are now open, antique shops as well and this weekend coming I am planning a day of truffling! I may not even see anything that I would like or need to bring home, but the joy of hours spent looking is what I am personally looking forward to I can tell you.

You can now go get a coffee and sit on seating outside and so life is starting to get a little bit normal with some freedom and I am so happy.

My little office come work room upstairs at Thimble has gone from quite tidy to Woah! when did the bomb go off ... so today I am going to be tackling some tidy up.

I seem to want to do so much, go through this or that.  Write a letter to a friend, find a piece of fabric that I know I have .. somewhere!  I try and fit so much in to my day.  I do like to finish around 4pm to

do some other things... water garden, do a little house work and to sit and watch antique like programs.. so I have let my little office/workroom go wild.  Time to sort it me thinks.

The thing is I have to be a little ruthless and if there is no place for something it will have to go.

I still have plenty of room in my fabric drawers, she sighs with relief.. If I keep them tidy then there is more room you see.

It is a full week this week and so I should achieve a little more. I am going to visit my Mum with my Sister tomorrow.  We are not to sure as to what we can and can't do.  I think we are required to take a Covid test.  Dress is scrubs with a mask and then we can go into her room.  We want to go through her clothes and see what we can get rid of to buy her some new things for the Summer and also take her in a huge bunch of flowers for her room.  We do not need to go into the box.  Hoping we do not look too much like nurses, which will bewilder her though, both of us want to hold her so much.  Anything now has to be better than it has been for over a year.

I have some serious stitching days planned too, so as you can see I am never once bored.. well maybe when I have to iron!  however not if its paisley or eiderdown fabrics..

I hope you all have a wonderful week and I will be back on Friday with another ramble.  It will be excited because of the weekend of truffling, I warn you.

As always HAPPY STITCHING! and still take great care out there, Covid is a long way off from going away.

Sarah X


Friday 9 April 2021

Vintage fabric hexagons ...


Much like patchwork quilts, inspiration that stirs and motivates me is made of many things.

Robert Reynolds.

In a basket by my cosy chair, lives these and more little word hexagons.  Each on covered in gorgeous vintage fabrics, mainly paisley and eiderdown fabric.  Every day at some point I stitch a few more and I would like to make a small quilt and have it framed but with the word side showing. 

You can clearly see the fabric of each one and I am going to do a little list of each fabric by cutting a small piece out and putting it on a card so they can be seen and archived for ever.

It needs to be behind non reflective glass as it is totally un washable but I believe so gorgeous to look at and preserve.

It is not really going to be huge and it can take a few weeks as I just literally do a few a day.  They will be stitched together to make a rectangle picture.  I have some tiny printed out triangles to square it off
but it may look too busy so probably it will just have a hex edge as it were.

I find sometimes it is hard to get through the paper and the fabric so I use a beeswax for the needle and find that it glides through and does not tear the paper at all or hurt the delicate vintage fabrics used.

Great little pot of help in my work box I can tell you and highly recommend too.

I cannot count a day complete, 'till needle, thread and fabric meet.

In addition I always cut a few hearts from any fabric I use for the jar of hearts. Some of you may remember I started a jar to put hearts in cut from fabrics.  Its a antique kilner jar and I had a ceramic label made for it with ' jar of hearts' on it, which hangs around its neck.

There they all nestle quite happily together so that if I need a fabric heart or three on a piece of stitchery I simply go to the jar and choose them.  All different vintage fabrics and all different sizes depending on the scrap of fabric I have ( never throw any away I just

couldn't) I just draw a heart on the back of the fabric and cut it out.  Long thin like ones, fat ones it does not matter. Then the birdies get the bits for their nests!

No beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart.

The weather on and off is getting warmer but there is a chance of snow forecast .. eeek. Now I love snow, as you all know by now, however having spent good money on lots of herbs and plants that are yet to establish themselves properly ( a little frost is ok ) I do not want them to die by being crushed under an inch or two or indeed get soggy and die so I am watching with care to put jam jars over them!  It keeps changing its mind about snow and I hope, this time, it by passes us.  Its insane as last week the temperature here was 22 degrees for three days in a row!

Not sure where the weeks are going at this moment in time, I now blog twice a week and the week soon goes. Especially after a four day break, plus I  had Thursday off this week

as its a Birthday day off ( not my Birthday) and so it will be a three day week officially for me .. 

Walking by the River Stour here I am watching all the trees blooming with gorgeous blossom and kingfishers flitting about. 

Last Summer I actually walked in the river and wandered along as it was shallow and clear, had flip flops on and it was refreshing and really enjoyable.  My sister and I walk her nutty dog along there and he likes to wade in and lay down ... even in the winter months with snow on the ground.  His name is Peanut but we affectionately call him The Nutling! 

With lockdown here in England easing it will be lovely to meet up with some friends for a coffee or take a drink down on a bench by the river and sit and catch up with each other face to face, I am so excited.  Never again will I take for granted that simple pleasure.  I will be having my second Covid Jab in May so I will be as protected as possible.

I am not travelling abroad this year but will be taking a holiday in Britain somewhere, there is talk of Cornwall, Scotland or Cotswolds for a few days if it is permitted.  Somewhere different to get inspiration and blow the cobwebs away in my mind.

Pack a little journal and I will be away, take photos and walk... 

I am excited that from the 12th of this month things will be open again, looking forward to getting a coffee out and going out for something to eat as well.  In Wimborne there is a little fabric shop and I am looking forward to just going in and looking at threads etc.  I do not buy any 'new' fabrics but its a pleasure to look about.  Also there is a little farm shop there too and a butcher so it will be a nice thing to mooch for a while.

In addition we can go into see our Mum and not in a box with perplex glass we can actually give her a cuddle and oh I am looking forward to that, so is she because she try's to now and can not understand the barrier between us.  We can take her a big bunch of flowers too.  Everything we get her now has to be quarantined for 72 hours so it was no good getting flowers before and she will adore that.  We can sit and chat .... excited!

Well it is time for me to go and pick up my needle and thread and get on with my stitching day.  I have some things to do and some journal entries to write as well.  I love sitting in my studio on beautiful days with the stable door half open.  On colder days I shut myself in with candles going and little lamps on with the heater and its cosy and inspirational with the dresser all set out and the glass fronted cabinet stacked with antique quilts neatly folded. 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and of course, as always, HAPPY STITCHING & do take care out there still.  Stay well.

Sarah X

Tuesday 6 April 2021

Design Days and needles threaded and history of a piece of eiderdown.


To design is to know you have achieved perfection not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing to take away .............

Antioine de Saint-Exupery.

Birds are singing, flowers are appearing from their Winters rest, rain is falling softly and you kind of know that Spring has firmly sprung and the weather is warming up.  It brings the promise of new starts and Summer days to come.  The days are growing longer and the promise of having your dinner in the garden and watching the sun set beautifully over the Dorset countryside.

The little snippets of beautiful vintage fabrics are being eagerly collected by the tiny birds for nest completion is happening here, even fought over the other day by two blackbirds, so nest building and little young ones are on their way soon.

The longer weekend was delightful although not always great weather was just what I needed.  It is lovely to clear your head and have some days doing other things.  Not that we are out of lockdown just yet but its on the horizon.  A little food shopping is exciting right now as you are out.  Days off mean I could go to little artisan shops in stead with no

clock watching and to hopefully keep them in business in these trying times.

This week is a shorter one again and I have written a little list of things I would  like to achieve, it does not pressure me, quiet the opposite it makes me happy when I can cross a few things off and makes me feel happy that somethings have been completed.

I did manage to go to a few garden centres and buy some pots and also some flowers and more herbs for the building of my tiny cottage garden.  I would like to sit out there in the summer with the glorious scents of herbs and scented flowers, another place to stitch on warm days and watch the birds and bumble bees go about their busy day.
Herbs in the border now are as follows Rosemary, Green Basil. Red Basil, Mint, Parsley, Coriander, Chives, Sage, Thyme Oregano, Tarragon and Chamomile.  Then edible flower throughout which include tiny Cornflowers, Nasturtuims (variety Ladybird Rose - stunning)
and Hibiscus along with a mix.... Should make for some interesting recipes along with herbal teas fresh in a pot.  I hope you all had a lovely Easter too.  I was in the garden doing some serious weeding and planting and out and about.  Not a needle was picked up and I did have some little easter eggs to munch on... well you only live once!!

I am still enjoying my baking days with tea breads and muffins.  I am going to make a peach cobbler this week at some point and have found a lovely American recipe online.

As the weather continues to get better I have planned a few walks ending up at a local
pub or cafe to sit and have a drink before heading back to my dear Thimble Cottage.

Well stitchery talk now and I was truffling about trying to find a gorgeous piece of vintage fabric to back and border a wall hanging I am stitching and I came across the most beautiful piece from an old Eiderdown and suddenly spied the label.

So getting slightly distracted from the object of said truffling, I spied a lovely label and decided to look it up and this is what I found.

Here is an extract from Gateshead Places - Pelaw, the Cooperative Wholesale Society Pelaw Works by Joan Hewitt at www.gatesheadlibraries/gateshead-local-history-/gateshead-places

"The vast group of factories which occupied the ground between Shields Road and the railway was established by the Lancashire cooperative movement, to spread the commercial principle of cooperative trading into the North-East at the turn of the century.

At first the cooperative movement was entirely made up of retail stores sited in heavily populated industrial areas, particularly in the North of England. In the 1870s a change to manufacturing began, again in Lancashire, round Manchester. The Coop saw the advantage of producing its own goods. Soon it required to expand its manufacturing base, and Tyneside was seen as a splendid place to put up new works.

Before the first factory could function, a workforce had to be found and trained, and skilled men came from Lancashire to start this process. There are still families in and around Pelaw today, whose grandfathers came and settled down to work for the rest of their lives in the C.W.S. works.

In the clothing factory, women workers at their sewing machines turned out not only shirts, nightwear, underwear, coats and suits, but also industrial clothing - overalls, boiler-suits, and pit clothes. A memo on this last read "In the North-east, so strong is the tradition, that men’s pit-drawers of flannel kersey are still in use and must be supplied."

Pelaw’s famous Down Quilts were first made in 1914, in the Quilt factory. Again the workers were women. They were clever quilters, probably because here in County Durham there was an ancient tradition of quilting, and the skills thus acquired were drawn on for the Pelaw workforce. But the Durham quilts though popular, were later eclipsed by the Eiderdowns, filled with the soft, warm and light down feathers of the eider duck. The covers were in satins and silks of deep, lustrous colours and strong patterns.

The Pelaw Quilt factory had its own buyers, who travelled the world to find the finest materials. Its first year’s output realised £396, and in 1933, so great was the demand, the factory was enlarged and the staff increased. In 1938, its total sales were over £90,000. Not only were eiderdowns made, but there was a thriving service in the recovering of old eiderdowns originally made there. Some people still have them! In the Second World War the quilting works made uniforms and flying suits.

The tailoring factory grew like the others, and was extended twice, in 1933 and 1937. The women who worked there were all expert machinists and tailoresses. All the female workers were paid less than the male staff, as was the general rule. There were wage disputes at times even in this benevolent regime.

One would suppose that this vast and busy works would continue to progress and expand after the War when demand for goods returned, and prosperity was much improved. It proved not to be the case. As the 1960s passed, the Coop fell behind its competitors in both retailing and manufacturing. It was slow to see the potential of supermarkets, and did not modernise its production methods soon enough, losing a large share of the market.

Some say that its employees were busy looking after themselves rather than customers. Others assert that the management was too old-fashioned and the goods likewise. Retail Cooperative societies began to amalgamate or disappear, and membership fell. A general decline began which in the 1970s greatly accelerated and by 1980 most of the factories were closed, a sad blow to the district which had for so long taken it for granted. The printing works gave up in 1993, but still stands forlorn and battered by vandals. In 1998 only the Shirt Factory is alive. The other buildings have been demolished and in part replaced with private houses and an Aldi supermarket.


I thought is so very interesting that I wanted to share this with you to read. My dear little piece of gorgeous eiderdown fabric was made here in the 1940/50's and here it is now been cut up ( likely too worn to use as an eiderdown anymore with holes producing brown feathers everywhere) and in my stash so worn, weathered, softened and very much loved.

So although I adore this piece of fabric it may now be used to make a little cushion with the label on it, such a piece of history should not be cut up anymore than it has been in my humble opinion.  It is double sided and just needs some stitching unpicked to do so.  What are your thoughts?

Well that is it for me today, some serious stitchery needs to take place so I think I will turn on the radio and listen to something or other and happily immerse myself in vintage goodies..

I will be back on Friday so until then HAPPY STITCHING and take care.