Softies

Every Monday afternoon …

by Helen on July 15, 2014

Every Monday afternoon I say farewell to my two furry friends and head off into Kingsbridge for an afternoon session as a volunteer at the Oxfam Bookshop.  I really enjoy these sessions as I meet lots of interesting people – many visitors to the area drop in to pick up new holiday reading as well as locals who almost treat the shop as a library – returning a bag of books for resale before choosing more.  I also enjoy browsing through the books myself and usually come home with two or three (at least!).

This week I thought I’d share one of my finds with you – it’s a Country Living Book entitled “Country Colour Combinations.”  My edition is a bit faded along the spine and dates to 2003.  As the cover makes the rather ambitious claim “classic colour schemes that never fail” I was very interested to see what was inside as most interior books become very dated …

The photography is stunning – as you’d expect from Country Living, and the colour schemes still look attractive, though there were one or two pictures that did look a little dated.  I loved the way the schemes were named – after all, who wouldn’t enjoy “chestnut and copper beech”, “rosehip and crab apple” or “rockpool and driftwood?”  And what’s not to like about “raspberries and cream,” “strawberry, apple & mint,” or “lilac & primrose?”  All the schemes were grouped into palettes, and my very favouritest one was of course “sun, sea, and sky …”

… including “sky & sunshine,” “shell, sky & sunset” and “storm cloud and sea spray”.  This book is still available to purchase from Amazon, though I was surprised to discover that although the cover and title are identical, the author name has been changed from Caroline Atkins on my 2003 copy to Kate Butcher on the current edition.  How odd – I wonder why?

But I haven’t just been lazing around in the summer house idly flicking through my “new” books.  Oh no, a major relocation exercise has taken place here at Coombe Leigh.  Rosie’s wedding arch was getting a little blown about at the front of the house – it’s quite exposed facing the prevalent south-westerlies, so it’s now been moved to the back ….

And made quite a lot taller with the addition of its legs!  The silk roses still look nice around the top and the sweet peas smell wonderful as we brush past them.  In typical country fashion I use the back door much more than the front so I’m really enjoying having the arch where I’ll see it every day.

And I’ve also been busy with new projects for the August Bustle & Sew Magazine….

These little bunnies are waiting for some clothes.  The girl has cute little red shoes and will wear the same dress as Mabel Fox, whilst I’m planning some dungarees for her brother.  The embroidered heart is also for the magazine and is waiting to be added to a project.  Rosie’s wedding may be over, but there’s still no shortage of activities to keep me busy, including a bit of painting – ably assisted by that mischievous Miss Daisy ….

What can I say?!

And to finish, I’m delighted to report Ben is recovering well now.  He’s back at the vet on Friday to have his stitches out, whilst his tooth extraction doesn’t seem to have affected his ability to hoover up his food at teatime -it’s nice to see him back to his old self again!

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At last the sunshine has returned, and though I don’t think you could call it hot, certainly there’s a pleasant warmth in the air and so I’ve been able to take my work out to the summer house today.  I’ve been finishing off another project for the July issue of the magazine – another trophy head – a Hare in a Hat!

Inspired by the lovely brown hares I see running and gambolling across the fields when I take Ben and Daisy to their favourite kennels.  And of course the furry pair were outside with me this afternoon, “helping” in their own special way.  Here’s a view of the summer house with my hare on the wall ready to have her picture taken ….

And it’s easy to spot Ben, snoozing gently on the warm slate paving.  But where, I wondered, as I took this photo, is Daisy?  Not far away was the answer – all tucked up in my favourite clematis and far too sleepy on this warm and drowsy afternoon to open her eyes, even just a little bit …

Naughty girl - she knows she’s not supposed to be in the flower beds!  Perhaps she thought if she didn’t open her eyes I wouldn’t be able to see her?

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Has spring arrived?

by Helen on March 8, 2014

At last .. the sun is shining brightly in a clear blue sky and I have hung my washing on the line at the end of the garden for the first time this year.  The air is warm and the breeze is gentle and, with lots of squabbling and squawking,  the jackdaw family have returned to the nesting holes at the back of my house.  Could spring possibly have arrived I wonder? But, whether the warmer weather is here to stay, or (most probably) not, we’re making the most of this lovely sunny weather while it lasts.  

We enjoyed a lovely walk up the bridleway toward Stokenham this morning.  Look – no mud!!  And also look – isn’t Daisy grown up?  It’s hard to remember what a tiny fuzzy little creature she used to be ….

Not so very long ago!  I’ve been enjoying some spring stitching too with projects for the April magazine.  I’m in the middle of sewing the binding onto my Woodland Alphabet Quilt – and hope to be able to show you the finished quilt very soon.  But I took a little break from binding to complete ny Running Hare softie ….

I sometimes see brown hares in the fields above France Farm when I take Ben and Daisy to their favourite kennels, and I’ve been planning to make a hare softie for some time now.  I’ve mounted him on the base of a carved bird (the actual bird was damaged so I removed the base and painted it white) and decorated it with ribbon and ric-rac braid.  

Four wooden buttons secure his powerful legs (great for running and leaping) and a tiny dark brown button completes his nose.  He’s found a home on the table next to my laptop with one of the last of my beautiful camellia flowers – the bright pink is nearly over now – but the smaller, deeper pink camellia is just coming into bloom, so I shall have flowers for my vases for a while yet.  

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A new Humphrey for you

by Helen on February 15, 2014

Phew …. it’s been a busy few days what with one thing and another!  I’ve been working hard on a couple of commissioned designs as well as the March magazine, so haven’t been around much online recently.  But here I am now with a new updated Humphrey pattern.  

Humphrey was one of  my original free patterns – based on a vintage design from my own childhood.  I’ve updated that old pattern and included some a few tips on how to stop fabrics fraying when hand stitching your softies.  If a softie’s quite plain I sometimes feel felt can be a bit (whisper it) boring so it’s nice to use a patterned fabric, though you do have to deal with the fraying issue. I thought Humphrey needed this patterned treatment  which in his case has acted a bit like a face-lift!  He now looks a lot younger than his age recreated in a lovely vibrant pink check …..

If you’d like to make your own Humphrey, please just CLICK HERE to download your updated free pattern.

I’ve had to keep Humphrey – and his friend, the famous super-model(!) Sidney well out of Daisy’s reach while taking their pictures.  I think she is becoming rather jealous that they take all my attention while I’m sewing them …….

Wonder what she’s thinking!  

She enjoyed her walk today though – the first time for ages that we’ve enjoyed a bright sunny morning – perfect for a longer excursion.  But the bridlepath was blocked by a fallen tree – a casualty of the recent gales.  

We approached the problem in various – but very typical – ways.  I stood back – assessed the situation, measured by eye and decided I could clamber over the tree through a gap in the branches.  Ben used his enormous strength to force a hole then shoulder his way through the lower branches, whilst Daisy – oh dear – couldn’t wait to follow her brother through the hole he’d made but  twirled round and round in mad excitement, then made a flying leap, became stuck in the tangle of ivy festooning the trunk and had to be rescued.  Silly puppy!  Then home for a little stitching on another project for the March magazine….

A vintage illustration from “The Rosie Posie Book” by Anne Anderson. I’m really enjoying stitching this – it makes me think of summer days to come and I hope subscribers will love it too.

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