After the rain ….

by Helen on April 3, 2014

Well I wish it was AFTER the rain!  Today we have had one of those very special English West Country days.  We have had light rain, heavy rain, drizzle, mizzle and mist!  So perhaps it’s a good sort of day to show you my first project for the May issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine ……

Although as I carefully brushed off the newfie hair before photographing my project I was tempted to rework it with the caption “there will always be dog hair on my embroidery!”  I don’t know how it happens but there is always a sprinkling of black fluff on all my work, though I’m very careful to keep Ben & Daisy away from my sewing and they’re never allowed in my workroom.  Does anyone else have this problem?  And if so, what do you find to be the most effective method of hair removal?  I’d love to hear from other similarly afflicted pet-loving stitchers!  

But never mind … it might be grey and rainy outside, but there’s a lovely sunshine-y feeling indoors as the wedding napkin project is progressing well ….

I’m so loving my overlocker (serger)!  And in a burst of ambition I’ve added confetti bags to my list of wedding creations – lots of overlocking going on here too.  This batch of little bags (measuring just 4″ across) are waiting for their drawstrings …..

Less than three months to go now until I am officially grown up – becoming a mother-in-law.  Eeek!  




Looking ahead … little Cupid Bear

by Helen on January 5, 2014

Today is the end of the Christmas holidays for our local schools, and it’s also the night before the Feast of Epiphany, the day that the Nativity story tells us the Three Kings, or Wise Men, visited the Baby Jesus bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Tomorrow is the day that we take our Christmas decorations down (sob!) regarding it as our Twelfth Night.  But there is some confusion about Twelfth Night and I only recently discovered that it’s because in centuries past, Christmas was deemed to start at sunset on December 24th and so the 12th night following it was January 5th.  Today we tend to count from Christmas Day itself, so assume that Twelfth Night falls on the 6th.

But whenever Twelfth Night actually is, today is definitely the ultimate, final day of the Christmas period for us here at Coombe Leigh.  This afternoon has been wet and windy (again!) so it was a great opportunity to pack all my decorations away for another year, just a little early, saying a sad farewell to the Angel Pigs, Baby Reindeer and Carol Singing Mice, as well as all the Christmas tree baubles collected over the years – carefully packed in tissue paper to protect against breakages.   Now that Christmas is over, the countdown to Rosie and Dan’s wedding is properly underway and inspired by the air of romance I’ve just finished my first design for the February 2014 issue of the Bustle & Sew e-Magazine ….

A little Cupid Bear – who’s not terribly confident that his buttoned-on wings will support his rather tubby body so is relying on his large balloon to keep him airborne!

The quote I’ve chosen (though it would be very easy to print and stitch your own text or message) is from Lord Byron, the 19th century poet famously described as “mad, bad and dangerous to know!” (a bit like Daisy in one of her mischievous moods!).  But I have a soft spot for Byron – he was a great animal lover and devoted to his Newfoundland dog, Boatswain.  When Boatswain died Byron composed and had engraved on his tomb the following epitaph….

Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferosity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead Nov. 18, 1808

Someone who loved his dog so much surely can’t have been all bad?  And so I chose Byron’s quote for my little Cupid Bear ….

Hope you like him!


Ben’s near-death experience!

by Helen on December 22, 2013

While I was away in Dubai having a wonderful time, Ben and Daisy went off to stay in their favourite kennels, where as usual, they ran straight inside waving their tails with pleasure, hardly even stopping to say farewell.  And it’s true that I hardly gave them a thought while I was away, knowing that they were safe and happy with their “Auntie Gillian.”  I went up the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building), drove through the Arabian desert in a fleet of 4 x 4′s and even had a henna tattoo (strictly temporary!)  I had a wonderful time ….

Dubai Dec 2013But the day after I returned when I went to collect my two furry friends, I was greeted by a very sober Gillian who told me Ben had been so very ill she ‘d had to call the emergency vet because she was worried she might lose him.  

He wouldn’t move, not even the slightest wag of his tail, and hardly reacted to anything at all.  So blood tests were taken, medication administered and much love given.  She didn’t call me as there would have been absolutely nothing I could have done from so very far away.  Luckily with all the care and attention he received he’s now pretty much made a full recovery.  The feeling is that he must have picked up and eaten something very bad indeed – as Daisy was absolutely fine.  Poor Ben –  after his experience with the stones you’d think he would have learned not to eat stuff – but then although he’s much loved, and (in his opinion at least!) very strong and brave – he really isn’t the cleverest of dogs!

Summer's Day LoveheartI’ve been keeping a very close eye on him for the last few days, whilst finishing off my final project for the January 2014 Magazine….

Summer's Day Loveheart A crewel love heart – beautiful spring and summer blossoms encircled by a very famous quotation from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”   Summer seems a long way off for us, but it is after all summer in the southern hemisphere – and I did have a little taste of summer in Dubai!  But I won’t be heading off on holiday again and leaving Ben behind for a while – I don’t know how Daisy and I would manage without him.  I know that one day he won’t be here any more …. but not for a long time yet I hope.  Just DON’T EAT ANYTHING when you’re out and about Master Benjamin!!


Wish upon a star … Mr Fox

by Helen on November 3, 2013

It’s always a relief when I’ve uploaded and successfully sent out each month’s magazine to my lovely subscribers.  I don’t altogether trust computers, and my internet connection, as I’m so far out in the countryside, is not the fastest, though it’s never let me down completely.  (yet!) Then, once the magazine’s safely dispatched,  I list the patterns I want to offer individually – that’s never all of them as I like to keep some just for magazine readers – so there’s lots to do.  

But once all the computer stuff is finished, I can look forward to all the excitement of starting a whole new group of designs for the following month’s issue.  This month I’m starting with one of my favourite techniques – some lovely hand embroidery – based on a line drawing by my friend Jacqui (Flapdoodledesigns).  Here I am, snuggled in my comfy chair,about to begin …

foxembroidery 002

It’s always such an exciting moment – though of course as I’m sure you know – a lot of work has to happen before you ever reach this point!  Cleaning and resizing the image, transferring it to fabric, selecting flosses and deciding in what order to work the design and what stitches to use – as well as hooping up, removing the Newfies from where I want to put my feet and making sure there’s a nice hot cup of tea to hand.  But at last I could begin – and over the last few days have made very good progress ….

Wish Upon a Star .. Fox wip

These two pictures illustrate perfectly why you shouldn’t trust your computer I think!!  I promise that it’s the same piece of work but something very strange has happened to the colours – one was taken in artificial light – though I did have my daylight lamp on, and the second by daylight earlier on this morning while the sun was out.  The real colour of my background fabric is actually somewhere between the two – probably rather closer to the second photo.  I think that I need to add a little outline around the fox’s white tail tip as it’s getting a bit lost amongst the toadstool’s spots, but I’m pleased with the fur shading so far.  I haven’t quite decided what colours the stripes on his scarf will be yet – blue and green perhaps?  I also like that he feels quite festive – but is not full-on Christmas – so I’ll be able to display him through the festive season and beyond.  

As well as Mr Fox, Jacqui gave me a second line drawing – this time a little hedgehog also wishing on a star – here’s her watercolour version ….

Wish Upon a Star .. Hedgehog

Isn’t he adorable?  And she was quite happy for me to share her hedgehog drawing with you if you’d like to stitch your own hedgehog wishing on a star.  Just CLICK HERE to download the free transfer – there aren’t any stitching instructions included – just the transfer.

When Mr Fox is finished however, he’ll be in the December Bustle & Sew Magazine with full instructions and lots of photographs to help you stitch and shade his fur. I’ll be sure to post more pictures when he’s done!