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!



Christmas Tree-O(!) and disappointment

by Helen on October 3, 2013

I settled down last night with my sewing and a mug of cocoa to watch the final episode in the BBC’s series “Fabric of Britain” called “The Wonder of Embroidery.”  I was expecting great things,  but sadly was left feeling a bit disappointed.  The whole 1 hour programme was devoted to looking at Opus Angelicanum (medieval English embroidery).  

Whilst it was wonderful to see the breath-taking workmanship in the surviving pieces (we lost over 95% of this work in the Reformation) I felt too much time was devoted to watching the presenter dressing in eccelesiastical robes and telling us how he felt wearing them, as well as clambering in and out of display cases and wandering around Italian cities.  I would have much preferred to take the story of English embroidery forward through time – and hope there might be more programming at a later date – come on BBC!!

But I did wonder what those stitchers from a thousand years ago might have made of the project I was working on yesterday evening!  It’s an easy, colourful design – not technically challenging at all – but lots of fun to stitch – and will make a great talking point at Christmas I think.  Here’s part one ….

Christmas is coming ...

 You can’t tell from the photo, but this is a massive (for me anyway) 12″ hoop that forms the bottom of the tree-O (groan!).  I had great fun raiding my grandma’s old button box for the tree decorations – and even the bear’s nose.  I’m working on the second hoop now and hope to be able to show you the finished project by the end of the weekend.  The Christmas Tree-O will be in the November issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine which will be published on Thursday 31 October, together with Robert the Red Nose Reindeer

Robert the red nose reindeer!

 and the second part of my Nativity set – so it’s shaping up to be a very festive issue!   


If you go down to the woods today ….

by Helen on March 12, 2013

You might meet a little black baby bear!!  At least that’s what everyone has been calling that naughty Miss Daisy.  Ben is feeling much better now, and the simple expedient of removing his collar has stopped her pulling and twisting his neck.  I don’t think he’s very likely to run away while we’re out, and if we did become separated (1) everybody round here knows who he is and where he lives; and (2) he is micro-chipped.  

Meanwhile, as well as black baby bears, here at Coombe Leigh we have other colours too ….. 

Teddy Bear Softie Pattern

 A new pattern for the April Bustle & Sew Magazine.  I’ve never created a bear softie before as there are so many wonderful bear-makers and designs out there – but these little creatures are, I think, some of the easiest to make you’ll find.  Once I’d worked out the pattern pieces and sewn the trial version, each bear took me about 2 1/2 hours – and they’d be wonderful little gifts for special people.  They’re not jointed so their limbs don’t move, but for me simplicity was everything – as well as cute appeal of course!  There’s a bit of a bear theme developing for the April issue … I’ve also finished a new and very simple stitchery also featuring bears ….

Follow your Dreams

 This little couple have launched their sky lantern (balloon) for a lifetime’s luck and hope that their happiness will last forever.  This is a really simple design and would be great for a beginner – or just a couple of hours stitching for the more experienced.  I do hope you like them both.