Friday, 6 May 2016

Bloom Quilt & Blooming Garden Friday Smiles

I haven't managed to join in with Friday Smile for a couple of weeks, over at Annie's astitchintime blog, as I have been galavanting and having a super time with my dear friend Dolores in Kent. We went out and about to some lovely places, had some lunches out and some lovely meals in (thanks to Dolores) and managed a bit of crafty time too.
Before we drove down South I finished this quilt, inspired by Lori Holt's Bloom Quilt. I made it to try out the applique  technique of lining the applied flowers with Pellon or fine Vilene before blanket stitching  them onto the background (by machine). Full details over at Bee in my Bonnet blog. It was made from scraps of fabric I had saved from other projects, except for the backing which only cost me a bargain £4 a metre.
I also finished making this table centre which will be a prize at our exhibition next week. This is so easy to make as the component parts are just 6 inch squares and they are joined to make this circle. It can be used just as a centrepiece or cutlery and napkins, sweets or gifts can be popped in to each segment.  
I made them last Christmas in seasonal fabrics and they were a great success.
This morning the sun was shining and I ventured out into the garden in my PJs to see what had popped out whilst we were away, so here is my smile for this week, a tour of my own little bit of England that I am so lucky to have.
It was so warm and the garden was bursting forth with blossom and buds.
The central flower bed is a good mix of colour and the rust coloured,  slow growing Acer was planted over 20 years ago and was a gift from our two daughter's for DH's 50th birthday. He'll be 73 soon!
We have so many sentimental shrubs around, some which our grandchildren have planted. 
The ones planted by the Brighton Belles are only in bud but this one, planted a few years ago by our little Fraulein, has really bloomed early and there is a close up of its lovely white flowers.
Planting it in 2012 
Planting it in 2012
Look at the shrub today and that cute little girl is now 6 and as high as my shoulder!





















Looking down the length of the garden I noticed this branch which had grown into a crazy curve, totally different than the rest of the tree.
We really are lazy gardeners and just potter about in fine weather when we have time and a whim and these pictures are taken before any tidying has been done this year. 
It's ages since I had a veg plot but I still love to grow and use a variety of herbs.
This bay tree, which I have to keep chopping back to keep it short, was another purchase from Woolworths for £1.99, in a tiny pot, just like the Camellia tree in the background. I once cut the Bay tree down to the ground as it blocked my view from the kitchen window and it still came back.















The Forget Me Nots seeded from the garden of a lovely neighbour, Mrs Heaney, who lived over the road when we first moved here 40 years ago.  They are in the gardens of all the other neighbours and they create a blue haze at this time of year. I always remark that Mrs Heaney is here!!!
The bluebells below arrived as a gift of Nature but I think they are the Spanish ones that are pushing out the natural English variety.
This is the apple tree that was so rotten last year so we had to cut it back. I left part of the trunk so I could grow a clematis to twine around it but I am so happy to see that there is life in the old tree yet.
Catkins have arrived on the miniature weeping tree that was a gift from my SIL after his first visit almost 20 years ago. 
We joke about it as a gift and call it "the stinky tree" as it really smells so dreadful in the Summer.
It is, however, home to our family of wrens each year and we love to watch them dart in and out of their nest in there.
This is a piece of  1960s ceramic sculpture that my late neighbour was going to throw away some years ago! It has weathered many Winters and reminds of the lovely man who made it.
Thanks for calling in, hope it gave you a smile or two and now I'm off to join in some more smiles at Annie's place.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Sweeps Festival Rochester


We chanced upon this fantastic day of English eccentricity when we visited Rochester, in Kent, on Saturday. We were staying with our good friends not too far away and none of us knew in advance that this event was happening. 
 It is one of the oldest traditional annual festivals in this country and is held around the city centre. There were lots of events and live music plus an artisan fair. 



















 Besides the many sweeps, there were more than 60 Morris sides from all over the country and the atmosphere was so vibrant and happy. It was wonderful to see our traditions come to life this way.
So sorry I cannot name the Morris sides except for this one with the Phoenix on their backs.

The young people in this side were so agile
The joy shines out!
There were pirates galore

Steampunk characters



Even a "wind up" fairy


The Jolly tar was being applauded for his rendition of a rousing tavern song.
Drummers young and old
Creatures great and small



Perhaps the oldest "baby" I've ever seen....



A rainbow of colours


I would love to go next year to see the Sweeps Parade and hear more of the music on the stages and in the pubs. It was such a good day out especially as we only went to Rochester to shop.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Liberty Lawn Leaf Scarves & Friday Smile

I have been messing about with an idea I've had in my mind for a long time and here's the result of my crafty endeavours. 
I was reminded of my idea when I spotted someone on the internet wearing just a string of larger leaves which is a bit more "artsy".
I made several light scarves from Liberty Tana Lawn fabric to wear as a form of necklace.
The leaf shapes were sewn together from double fabric, then turned out to the right sides and pressed. A rolled hem foot was used to machine a fine edge on the scarf then I hand stitched the leaves around the edge, adding small beads so they would dangle nicely and weight the scarf slightly so it would drape.  
After several experiments I am quite happy with this one below.
I varied the fabric patterns on the next one but I prefer them to be all the same, as in the pink scarf above.
Below is my first attempt but I think that the leaves are too big as well as being a mix of patterns and colours.

Friday has come around so quickly once again so
I'm adding a string of funnies to join in with Annie's Friday Smile over at  astichintime blog. Pop over to see more!
They were sent to me by my friend Jean in Australia and they really made me smile, so I hope you do too.



Monday, 11 April 2016

Friendship Quilt & Where to get a Bargain

Yesterday I sandwiched and quilted the top that I sewed together last week from the super blocks that Diane the Cheshire Quilter had sent me in our swap.
I really never expected to end up with such a substantial quilt from just six blocks and I am really pleased with it. 
Thanks again to Diane.
I found the perfect backing at a bargain price (see below) on a little jaunt to town on Saturday. 
Quite a few of you will know of Abakhan, the huge fabric, craft, yarn, store in Liverpool as they have branches around the North West and North Wales and that is where I was heading to get my fabric..... we..ee..e ll let me tell you a little secret.... opposite their Liverpool shop in Stafford Street there is yet another fabric shop selling mainly curtain fabric at the remarkable price of £3 a metre!! Even better .... they sell a small range of quality quilt fabrics for only £3.99 metre... woo hoo! I therefore managed to find the perfect backing for this little quilt for a song. I even spotted fabrics  that I had previously bought in other shops and paid over £15 for.
As an added bonus I also bought 3 large reels of Coats thread for just £2 and a mix of zips for 10p each.
It's worth popping in if you go to Liverpool but check the location L3 8LX as it is not right in the centre but is walkable.

My favourite block is the one where the triangle are little pockets, don't know the name of this block but I must find out so I can try it out.
( Thanky you  to Wanda for letting me know that it is called "Dutchman's Puzzle")