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!?



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.


Out in the Summer House

by Helen on May 2, 2013

As the warm and sunny weather continues, this morning we set off early for our walk in the woods before it became too hot for Ben who hasn’t yet shed his extra heavy winter coat.  I stopped on the way at our little village hall which has been turned into a polling station for the day for our County Council elections.  Maybe it’s because I’m older – and possibly more cynical – but it seemed to me that there wasn’t much to choose between the candidates – and none of them really seemed to be concerned about the issues that affect small rural communities like ours.  But nonetheless, remembering the Suffragettes and “Votes for Women”, I marked my “X” in one of the squares and posted my vote in the large black ballot box.  

I’m hoping this wonderful weather will continue over the weekend, so am sprucing up the summerhouse in readiness …..

gbpicphotos 015

 … repainting the furniture, which has been with me for – oh – well over 20 years!!  It actually dates back to the early 1970s and was a gift from my mum when Rosie was very very tiny.  It is still good and solid and although it was originally a very dark teak, over the years it’s been all sorts of colours – this year I’ve opted for pastel shades (very on-trend!) with pale pink, blue and white.  And in the back corner you can see my latest completed project – it was outside for its photo shoot.  Finished just in time for this lovely weather – my Great British Picnic Blanket – with its own bag for storage and transportation.

Great British Picnic

 The Great British Picnic Blanket (and bag) will be in the June issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine (published 30 May).  I’m still working on another project for the magazine – my Blackwork Butterfly – which is going well – the fluffy body makes a most effective contrast to the lacy wings as I hoped it would …..

Blackwork Butterfly wip

 The summerhouse makes a lovely warm weather office, so as the paint had dried on my furniture, I took my laptop outside this afternoon and settled down to do some work … 

summerhouse and tea 001

Ably assisted by my two furry friends …. both large ….

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And under the table, next to my feet, in the spot Ben used to love when he was a puppy, the small one (though growing larger every day!)

summerhouse and tea 006

 Hopefully they’ll both stay fast asleep for a while so I can get some work done! 


Terrific Tulip Messenger Bag

by Helen on April 4, 2013

I went out into my garden to take some photographs of my first completed project for the May issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.  I’m trying to get a bit ahead of myself rather than always working up to the last minute, so have been stitching madly in the evenings, while Daisy practises her “knitting” rolling around on the rug with a ball of wool.  She loves to unravel wool so I keep a couple of ends of balls for her to play with – but she’s only allowed them during the evening whilst I am supervising her activities to avoid any danger of her choking or becoming entangled in the yarn.  Anyway …. between re-winding her ball so she can unravel it once more and removing my slippers from her soggy grasp … I have managed to complete my Terrific Tulip bag ….. 

Terrific Tulip Mini-Messenger Bag

 It’s a retro, 1970’s style embroidery featuring stylised tulips, daisies and sunflowers (with no regard for the seasons!) stitched onto vintage linen.  It’s quite a small messenger, measuring just 12″ across, but is surprisingly roomy inside.  I photographed it, as always, in my summerhouse and, although it is still bitterly cold, was surprised to see how many plants were in flower.  I snapped just a couple of them to show you … the Hellebores are still doing well ….


 And the flowers are opening on my early Camelia – hope they don’t get scorched by the frost…


While these days there is almost always a Daisy to be found in my garden!  She’s five months old now and not so little any more – here she is with her long-suffering big brother!

Daisy and Ben

 He loves her to pieces – though he tells me that she can be rather a pest sometimes!  Sorry they look so scruffy – but they had just been rolling around on my poor bare lawn.  Hurry up spring and make the grass grow again!