Life In Devon

Another peek behind the scenes …

by Helen on September 14, 2014

Thank you so much everyone for all your kind comments on the making of Miss Matilda Catkin – who I’m delighted to report is now finished, though I haven’t taken her official photographs yet.  But a lot of people told me they liked to see what went on behind the scenes, before I present my finished projects, so I thought you might like a peep into this afternoon’s activities.

Of course before you start work it’s very important to make sure your “helpers” are all quiet and content – especially our little visitor who, I have to say, is more trouble than both the Newfies put together.  However, even lively energetic puppies have to stop and rest sometimes ….

She looks as though she’s finally managed to find her inner newfie – though I don’t think for a moment she’ll stay this way for long!  But anyway, while they were all resting, having enjoyed fun and games in the garden, a long walk, and a delicious tea, I sat down and switched on my laptop.  It’s been cloudy and a little chilly here this afternoon, so I’m back indoors ….

Though there’s no need to light the log burner just yet!  Here’s the view from my laptop – I am stacking up projects that need their patterns writing for this month’s Bustle & Sew Magazine.  There’s my Toadstools Patchwork bag and Miss Matilda Catkin – looking very pretty in her vintage feedsack dress with little lace trim.  She also has a lovely necklace decorated with a flower-shaped button, but I’m not sure if you can make it out very well in this picture.  My Cath Kidston mug was a gift from Rosie a few years ago now.  Sadly it has a hairline crack in the side so I can’t use it for coffee any more, but it looks very pretty holding an assortment of pens, pencils and brushes. At the back is a blue box that contained my new camera – very exciting!  I’m still learning how to use it, but already I think I’m taking much better pictures than before.  Then on the other side of my laptop (I’m a very messy worker I’m afraid) ….

Is what I think will be the final set of three images for my Christmas Woodland Friends hoops.  There’s a bear, fox and (disappearing from view on the right) a rabbit wearing his Christmas stockings on his ears!  I draw my designs out quite a few times, tweaking and changing, before I reach this final version that I hope will be good enough to scan and print ready to work with.  You can see the dotted lines marking the bottom of the hoops and at the top is a rejected bear  – I think there was a problem with his scarf.

Then over the coming evenings I’ll be stitching them ready to photograph for the magazine.  But my canine friends are on the move and I think I’d better go and see what’s happening – what mischief Tilly has led Daisy and Ben into now, I wonder!?

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Lovely mellow Sunday ….

by Helen on September 7, 2014

Early September is one of my most favourite times, and this year it’s been especially lovely down here in south Devon with misty mornings, heavy dews and beautiful golden days … so welcome after the horrible grey days towards the end of last month.  The Newfies love this time of year too.  Now the weather’s a little cooler they can go out and about more, and as there are fewer visitors I can relax and let them run free again.  It’s not that they’re unfriendly – no – the problem is quite the reverse, in that they can both (but especially Daisy) be rather too friendly which can be a little alarming if you’re not used to, or don’t particularly like, dogs.

Today we went up to the woods at Woodleigh, about 20 minutes from home.  This collection of four woods is very extensive, and we haven’t by any means explored them all yet.  I’m hoping to find the path down to the river now I’m able to walk longer distances again (with the help of my trusty walking pole).  That’s the River Avon, the same river that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

This is the path down through the fields into the woods, which stretch right down to the river along the valley floor.  And if I were to turn round and cross the lane, then I could walk another two or three miles the other way too.  The woods at Woodleigh were the first to be acquired by the Woodland Trust and are grouped on the outer edge of the tiny village of Woodleigh with its twisty lanes and picture-perfect English cottages …

And on the way home there’s the chance to stop at the garden centre, which like so many has diversified and so, after browsing bulbs, bushes and other gardening goodies, it’s fun to pop into the little deli and choose from a lovely array of local  ……

and some not-so-local produce …

Before heading home for a gentle snooze (the Newfies) and some seasonal sewing (me).

Here’s the first two completed projects for the October issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine and I do hope you like them.

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New visitor .. new dress

by Helen on September 3, 2014

For the last few days we have been a twelve-paw household!  Eight large black sturdy paws, belonging to two slightly goofy newfies – and four slender golden curly paws belonging to Tilly, Rosie and Dan’s little goldendoodle puppy.

Here is the naughty Miss Tilly making herself very comfortable in a TOTALLY forbidden place, deep in blissful dreams and happily waving those four small paws in the air ….

Like all puppies, her bouts of frantic energy, chasing, scampering, nibbling, stealing things she shouldn’t and generally being a bit of a pest, are punctuated by periods of deep sleep, from which she can only occasionally be persuaded to wake for her photo …

(It’s so much easier to photograph a dog that isn’t all black!).  Tilly shows no fear of the newfies at all, even though Ben and Daisy are probably about 10 times her size, and doesn’t hesitate to use them for a pillow when the need for sleep overtakes her (yes, that’s Ben’s bum her head is resting on above – see the full pose below!)

We loved having her – though she has totally worn us all out.  It’s nice to have a peaceful few days to recover our energy levels until she returns for a longer period while Rosie and Dan are away on their honeymoon.  They are heading off to a much warmer, sunnier place, a very long way south and so, along with my Christmas projects for the October Magazine

I’ve been doing some totally tropical(!) dressmaking for Rosie.  We were both delighted with how the Camber dress pattern from Merchant and Mills turned out – it was a dream to make and fitted Rosie’s body shape really well with only minimal adjustments needed.  Rosie chose a much brighter fabric than I’m used to working with – but I think it looks very nice – extremely suitable holiday wear ….

Just the hem to take up now and it’s finished, then onto the next one – only a few days left to finish it before they’re off.  Luckily it’s a really user-friendly pattern. The pieces fit together well there are no zips or other fastenings, and now I’ve worked out the yoke construction I don’t think it takes more than 3 or 4 hours in total.  Better not tell Rosie that though, or she’ll be wanting one for every day of the week!

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Sunday Baking

by Helen on August 30, 2014

I love this time of year as the summer begins to slip gently away, the days grow shorter and it will soon be time to light the log burner in the evenings.  In the garden there are apples ….

And the postman left a most interesting and eagerly-anticipated parcel for me in the log store ….

Some yarn and new needles for an autumn knitting project!  Rosie thinks I’ll look very funny in my hood – but I think it will be perfect to keep my ears warm when I’m out walking with the Newfies this winter …

And it’s cool enough now to get up close to the Aga and enjoy baking again.  Rosie and I both love to bake and so we’ve decided to include a new baking feature in the Bustle & Sew Magazine starting with this month’s issue.  I was so pleased when Rachel of Sunday Baking let us include her delicious recipe for Cinnamon and Nutella Muffins this month.

We had to try them first of course and I can guarantee they are ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!  Rachel’s blog is called Sunday Baking and I would definitely recommend a visit as she has some amazing recipes that I can hardly wait to try.  Rachel told me that ….

“The aim of Sunday Baking is to prove to everyone that anyone can bake. Nothing on my blog is too complicated and I try to break it down as simply as I can so anyone can follow the recipe. I want to share my passion with everyone!”

I think my next recipe to try from Sunday Baking will be this one ….

Apple & Cinammon Cake with a Crumb Topping 

Perfect for all those apples in my garden.  And wonderful served warm with a little cream when my friends come for tea.   Thanks so much Rachel, I’ll definitely be back for another look through your lovely Sunday Baking blog.

 

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