As summer slips slowly into autumn, life here at Coombe Leigh is becoming very busy indeed. Regular activities, postponed for the summer, begin again and new ones commence. I have a new assistant here at Bustle & Sew – my friend Lisa’s daughter Emily has asked me to teach her to stitch ……
… a very serious undertaking indeed! Or so you might think from how hard she is concentrating on her hoop and needle in this picture. But actually we’re having a lot of fun – she’s so enthusiastic and full of giggles! At seven she’s old enough to start with a “real” grown up needle and floss, and here she’s beginning to stitch her first design, having carefully drawn and then traced her own rabbit and flower drawing she’s outlining the rabbit with back stitch. We then plan to add felt leaves and button flowers to the background to make a picture she can hang on her bedroom wall. I’ll be sure to show you when it’s done.
I’ve been busy with my Winter’s Comfort quilt too….
As I’ve used an old well shrunken woollen blanket for the filling, I can be very flexible with the quilting – there’s no danger at all of the filling breaking up. The snowflake panels are quite large at 12″ square, but they won’t be quilted at all, I’ve simply stitched in the ditch around them. I’ve also stitched around the patchwork panels, but have decided to fill them with free motion quilting – choosing circles and a cream thread so they’ll remind me of frosty cobblestones on a winter’s morning. Still can’t quite decide how to quilt – or indeed if to quilt the navy blue sashing – if anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them.
And as well as all the sewing going on, I’m busy in the kitchen too with chutneys and preserves ….
My lovely next door neighbour Julie invited me to take plums from her tree, and I made some Spicy Plum Chutney that smells delicious – a recipe for the October magazine I think. Daisy and I have been blackberrying, though we didn’t get very many – I think we are a bit early, perhaps we’ll go again in a week or so. Meanwhile though, we have enough for a lovely blackberry and apple crumble. And finally – figs from the large and rather thuggish tree at the end of my garden. I have discovered a recipe for Fig Chutney that will use quite a few – it incorporates balsamic vinegar and red onions so sounds rather nice. I’ll let you know!
Phew … the September magazine is now all safely sent out – always an anxious time. Although I’m still in the middle of listing the individual patterns and generally updating the website, I thought it would be nice to take time out to show you my new quilt project -still a wip – that will be included in the October issue (how can I possibly be thinking about October already?!) I’ve called it “Winter’s Comfort” for two – well no – three reasons really I guess …
I’ve completely reworked seven vintage snowflake drawings, originally from Ruby McKim, a wonderful US quilter from the early 20th century. I have changed the stitches, layout and suggested colours completely – she originally suggested a grid of 12 white snowflakes embroidered on light blue fabric – possibly gingham, I’m not quite sure – with white thread and completely different stitches. I chose my favourite vintage linen, and dark blue floss, then added tiny mother of pearl buttons so the snowflakes would sparkle, just a little, as though they were frosty.
Hopefully this should be quite effective as I’m planning to use my quilt to snuggle under on the sofa – mostly by artificial light as the evenings draw in – the first reason for the name “Winter’s Comfort”. The second reason is quite straight-forward – I had a single charm pack of Winter’s Lane fabric left from my patchwork door curtain and the colours worked perfectly with my snowflakes. The sashing is actually an old cotton tablecloth I discovered in a local charity shop.
And the final reason for the name? A quote from Edith Sitwell – an early 20th century poet – which I love …..
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
But I can’t finish this post without showing you why I’m actually not very comfortable right now as I type! This is because my two canine “helpers” are determined to be as close as possible to me ….
Which means there is no room whatsoever for my feet and legs under the table, so I’m having to sit with them tucked beneath me as I type. Not the best – and I’m getting pins and needles! Still, I’m sure if I mention the word “T-E-A” then they’ll move pretty quickly!
At this time of year, especially when the weather’s warm, the Newfies and I like to walk early in the morning and then again in the evening when it’s cool. Today dawned bright and sunny so I decided that we’d go on one of our favourite – and slightly longer walks around Coleridge Farm and back through Stokenham. We headed up through the woods at the back of the village, where the foxgloves are blooming in profusion – 2013 seems to be a really good year for them, I don’t remember seeing as many as this before ….
Then out of the cool shady woods and along the footpath down towards the sea ….
before turning for home past the hay meadow. …
Even though we left early, it was very warm by the time we returned so I decided to work in the summer house. You might think there’s nobody keeping me company ….
But that’s not so – look a little closer ……
One large black furry shape – that’s Ben. And all the clutter on the table – evidence of my grasshopper tendencies – unable to concentrate on any single task for too long I tend to jump from activity to activity. But where’s the second, slightly smaller black shape? If I lift up the tablecloth you’ll see ….
a most uncharacteristically dozy-looking Daisy! I think she’s hoping I’ll go away so she can concentrate on her snoozing! Amongst all the mess on my table did you spot my new softie – a little stripey dog called Sidney? He’s not quite ready for his photoshoot yet, I’m still stitching on patches and claws – but he’d love to say “Hello!”
He’ll be in the August issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine, and I’m hoping to create a video tutorial for magazine subscribers – Sidney’s legs have some simple wiring, and I thought you might find a tutorial useful? But back to saying “Hello”…. If you have a moment to spare, please pop over to my friend Jacqui’s Facebook page
Where she’s having a brilliant like and share giveaway ….. one of her original water colour illustrations personalised with the initial and name of your choice – a great gift for a specially lucky small person perhaps?
This week has been a sitting-down-and-stitching sort of week as I have been temporarily incapacitated. That is to say my left knee has been temporarily incapacitated, due to Daisy’s inexpert charging around. Coming at me from behind, and travelling at full speed, instead of swerving to the left to avoid me, she instead swerved to the right – straight into the back of my left knee. 5 1/2 stone (about 77 lbs) of dog going at full speed into your knee hurts – and she has partially torn a tendon. (Mine, not hers!) Ouch! But, as my mum used to say, “every cloud has a silver lining” and for me the silver lining has been the opportunity to sit around resting my knee and indulge in some totally guilt-free stitching.
Putting my blackwork butterfly to one side again for a while, I have been working on a vintage-inspired embroidered mirror frame for the June issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine. In the course of the last week it has gone from this ….
To finished! I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to assemble the mirror, but in fact, with some PVA glue and a nice sharp pair of scissors it proved to be remarkably easy ….
I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The stitching is easy too as it’s just satin stitch, with a little back stitch for the stems that twine between the candy-coloured roses. And, mentioning roses – you may remember from a recent post that Rosie has already reserved this little looking glass (I love this old-fashioned term for mirror) – though it has turned out to be so pretty I am very tempted to keep it for myself!
And finally … you may have noticed a new tab at the top of this page “Instagram” – we now have a Bustle & Sew Instagram feed on the site. New photos of dogs, Devon and sewing are added nearly every day, so if you are a “pictures” sort of person and would like to keep even more up-to-date with happenings here at Bustle & Sew, then please do bookmark our Instagram page – or follow us on Instagram – our handle is bustleandsew.