Sewchet

Sewing, crochet, crafts, accessories, baking, tutorials,


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#stitchingsanta Deadline – Secret Santa for Sewers And Yarn Lovers!

Just a reminder that the deadline for joining in with the Stitching Santa is midnight tomorrow (GMT), 31st October – if you haven’t yet signed up – DO IT NOW!

Feel free to share on your own blog – here’s the link: – #stitchingsanta

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A Glimpse Into Sewing Classes For Kids

Being a (very) new venture, my sewing school has started with a definite ‘bang’. Classes officially start next Thursday but I have already been teaching private 1:1 sessions on a weekly basis and, whilst not full, the half-term sewing camps have been popular too. I though you might be interested to see what we get up to in these lessons so, with permission, I took some photos throughout the day of the students at work.

Today I had the pleasure to teach two friends (kids prefer to come with a friend) aged 9 and 10, both of whom own their own sewing machines and dabble at home quite happily.

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This little girl brought her machine along as she felt comfortable using it and it soon became apparent that she was familiar with machine sewing, already able to thread it (almost) correctly and wind the bobbin.

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My job was to teach the finer points, good practice and safety, so we went back to basics and practiced running and zigzag stitching in a straight line, circles (harder than they thought), corners and the concept of back-stitching to prevent unravelling. Appropriate stitch lengths and seam allowances were discussed as well – all the kind of things you don’t bother with when you’re a 9 year old desperate to just get on and make something!

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Within half an hour both girls were ready to start a project.

They each chose some fabric from my stash and decided, from the options given, that they would like to make a simple, elasticated skirt.

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Using the lines marked on the machine bed, they learned how to keep a consistent seam allowance.

They also learned the best way to put a pin in – all simple things that needed to be taught that they wouldn’t otherwise know.

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The importance of pressing at every stage was also new to them, the bonus being that there’s no excuse not to do their own ironing at home now that they know how to use it safely!

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The girls finished their skirts right on the virtual bell denoting lunchtime. A good morning’s work by anyone’s standard.

Here they are modelling said skirts, customised at the last minute by their request to add a coordinating pocket in which to keep their toy mice.

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After a 35 minute break for lunch both girls were keen to begin another project, this time a messenger-style bag that is worn across the body.

Concentration was back on track again after a break – 3 hours is a long time to expect full attention from the younger students.

Can you see the student wearing her newly made skirt that she begged me to allow her to keep on for the rest of the day?

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One look at those beaming faces is enough to tell you how much fun they are having!

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Tadah! Messenger bags completed with 20 minutes to spare.

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With two projects completed I let the girls rummage through my stash and allowed them to make anything they wanted in the time left. They decided to each make a small drawstring bag.

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Both girls are desperate to attend the regular weekly classes that start after half term and signed up immediately – that’s the sign of a job well done I think, don’t you?

I thoroughly enjoy spreading the sewing love and it’s wonderful to see another generation being bitten by the sewing bug, a skill that will serve them well in the future and give them endless hours of pleasure no doubt.

What are you doing to encourage kids to make things for themselves?


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Sunday Sevens #59

A day late with my #sundaysevens this week due to a full-to-bursting weekend that ended at 11pm last night!

Hop over to Nat at Threads & Bobbins to find out how you can join in with seven photos of your own providing a little glimpse into the person behind the blog – a great way to keep blogging even when you haven’t got enough to make a full blog post.

1. I made a jar of lemon curd and some shortbread to take to an aunt who had invited us for supper, as well as a couple of bottles of wine, of course.

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2. Although we haven’t switched on the central heating yet, the fire has been blazing away this week since the weather changed. Who doesn’t love an open fire?

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3. A two and a half hour sewing camp with two little girls went extremely well considering this was their first time using a sewing machine.

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4. After practicing on paper first, they soon moved onto fabric.

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5. Two very happy girls, both rightly proud of the beautiful cushion covers they completed!

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6. This is the pattern that I’ve chosen for the work’s ‘do’ that Mr H-L’s company puts on every Christmas. Turquoise taffeta maybe….

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7. My first cuddle with baby Lilah, our first grandchild!

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….and a couple of extra photos just because she’s so gorgeous!

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10. Sunday night oysters and prosecco with good friends was the perfect end to a lovely week. Oops, forgot to take a photo before we ate them all…..

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Don’t forget – the deadline to sign up to our Christmas Gift Swap is this Saturday, 31st October. Check out the #stitchingsanta blog post to find out more.


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Crochet Dolls – TADAH!

This reveal has to be one of the most fun projects I have EVER undertaken, certainly the most enjoyable crochet project I have ever had the pleasure to immerse myself in – even more than a blanket!

Anyone who crochets will know how deeply satisfying the process of blanket-making is, especially during the Winter months.  Long, dark nights curled up on the sofa watching TV, all the while plodding steadfastly through the labour of love that is a crocheted blanket. Whilst always ecstatic to finally finish such an epic task, there’s invariably a sense of “What do I do now?”.

Summer is different. Less time spent indoors, more holidays, car journeys, time in the garden, means a large, cumbersome WIP is out of the question. A small, portable piece is what’s needed, something you can pop in your handbag and get on with anytime, anywhere.

When I came across the book “Crochet Your Own Dolls And Accessories” published by Annie’s Attic, I let out a silent squeal of delight. Here was such a project and, not only that, it could double up as being both my Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post for October and the perfect Christmas present for a little girl!

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I don’t know about you, but my idea of crochet dolls has always been, well….

aargh!

Link omitted so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings:)

With images like this deeply ingrained in my subconscious, I was surprised and thrilled to find a thoroughly modern version which any twenty-first century youngster would find hard to resist falling in love with.

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This huge sack of double knitting yarn arrived from Minerva Crafts way back in July with a tight, three-month deadline of October in mind.

Oh, I forget to tell you – my plan was to make every single thing in the entire book!

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With such a lot to do, I got cracking immediately, starting on page one with “Bella Ann”.

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The bodies of all four dolls are constructed the same way – in one piece from the feet up to the head, then attaching the separately crocheted arms at the end.

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The hair is created using a darning needle and 135 strands of yarn, each one individually knotted onto a single stitch on the head!

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The facial features are basic – two French knots for the eyes and a dab of blusher for the cheeks.

Simple, but effective, just enough to resemble a face.

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“Bella Ann” is an outdoorsy type who loves to get dressed up in a macintosh with matching hat.

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She even has wellies and her own umbrella!

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So here’s my “Bella Ann” – TADAH!

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Next up was “Ginger Blue”, a college girl wearing trendy tights and a denim mini-skirt.

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Remember I said you could chuck them in your handbag and crochet almost anywhere? This is Ginger’s skirt in process whilst sat in the car in a field for five hours while The Boys played in a football tournament on the way to Cornwall…..

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My favourite part of the whole process was definitely making the hair. Each doll had a different method which were all very imaginative and extremely effective.

Ginger’s seemed to be based on an Afro and was worked in five curly layers plus a crown.

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The finished layers were sewn horizontally upwards from the base of the head.

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The whole was topped off with a cute little flower headband.

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The cardigan pattern called for tiny buttons to be used for the flower heads, but I embroidered a series of chain stitches instead to form a Lazy Daisy.

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Two tiny blue shirt buttons reclaimed from the Child’s Play Tent are a brightly coloured addition.

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Being a college girl, the obligatory accompanying rucksack even has tiny crocheted textbooks that fit inside!

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Mary-Jane shoes are adorned with more reclaimed shirt buttons, this time in Cherry Red.

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And now for the “Ginger Blue” – TADAH!

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And so, on to “Dani Rae”, a sun-worshipper who loves nothing more than a day at the seaside and whose outfit of choice is a one-piece swimsuit.

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Dani Rae’s hair was the most fun to make and was crocheted in wig format before being stitched on to the head in its entirety.  I love the way the hair curls out at the ends – such great design detail.

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Just look at those flip-flops and flippers!

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Of course, every girl needs a sun hat to prevent sun stroke and, if it has a flower on it, so much the better.

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A ‘rubber’ ring is the essential remaining accessory for fun in the waves.

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Here is “Dani Rae” in all her finery ready for her “TADAH!” moment.

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Finally, we move on to “Nurse Deb”, a midwife of the highest distinction, dressed in theatre scrubs.

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She wears the typical clogs/’Crocs’ that appear to be the footwear favoured by so many hospital staff nowadays.

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Nurse Deb’s hair was made in the same way as Bella Ann – each of 135 strands knotted on individually to single stitches on the head in rows…..

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……and then trimmed into a neat graduated bob shape to ring the changes.

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A stethoscope was made from thin wire and seed beads, adding pearls for the eartips and a button for the chestpiece.  Quite fiddly to put together, but it looks ace!

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She cradles a newborn baby in her arms…..

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…..and a medical chart in her other hand.

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The instructions were to sew both of these permanently in place but, as half the fun is undressing the doll and putting baby in a crib, this would have been impossible, so I used hook and loop fastener instead to make them removable.

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This is “Nurse Deb” posing for her “TADAH”!

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Would you like to see them all together?

T A D A H ! ! !

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Well, that’s it, all done and dusted and I have to admit that I’m a little bit sad.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the process and seeing all the elements emerge successfully from the unfamiliar-to-me instructions. I can only imagine the fun that this little girl is going to have when she opens these on Christmas morning, and all the adventures the dolls are going to be involved in coming from the imagination of a child.

If you know a little girl who would love these dolls, or you just want the fun of making them yourself, head on over to Minerva Crafts where you can buy the book and all the yarn needed to make all four dolls.


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Sunday Sevens #58

Another Sunday, another #sundaysevens – seven photos of your week giving followers an insight to your life in the real world as organised by Nat at Threads & Bobbins. Visit her site to find out more and how you can join in yourself.

  1. No.1 Son has now largely recovered from a fractured skull – this photo was taken last week before his fall, in a hotel restaurant nearby. Mr H-L is admiring the grounds in the background.

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2. Couldn’t resist ordering the book I mentioned last week and it arrived a few days ago.

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3. This project needs to be finished before I start on the above book. I’m on the home straight though, just the hair to finish off and then I can begin the mammoth task of photographing everything to show you.

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4. A very rare supper-on-the-sofa moment made special by the romantic surprise gesture of my own personal candlestick. Mr H-L cooks a mean Chicken Gumbo.

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5. I pass the church each time I walk the dogs and it struck me that any day now the leaves will change to a glorious shade of russet before falling to the ground.

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6. Teaching pattern drafting to a student; I taught her how to draft a skirt sloper and then make a pattern from it. I really must get some small weights as the homemade jars of jam are a little too big!

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7. A sweet photo of a tired No.2 Son curled up on the sofa with Fifi.

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8. I had to squeeze in an extra photo this week to show you a very special picture – our first grandchild! Here is baby Lilah having her first cuddle with a very proud Mr H-L. After a traumatic start to life, she is now home and doing well.

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Hope you all had a good weekend!


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#stitchingsanta Blog Christmas Gift Swap!

ButtonLast year I participated in what turned out to be an amazing experience, a Secret Santa with a difference aimed at all the like-minded crafty folk here on the internet – YOU!

Whether you’re one of the lucky few whose family know and understand you so well that you receive endless perfect gifts based on your love of sewing/crochet/knitting or, like me, your wish list is met with a “What do you want one of those for….what is it anyway?” – #stitchingsanta is for you.

Can you imagine unwrapping a gorgeous skein of wool, a perfect metre of fabric, some vintage buttons or some embroidery silks? Perhaps a little handmade gift has been popped in the parcel too? All lovingly thought out with your interests in mind and guaranteed to be under your tree on Christmas morning. What a treat!

There are TWO categories to choose from – you can enter both or just one but PLEASE state your preference in your email. Choose from “Sewing” or “Crochet/Knitting”.

The idea is simple: if you would like to take part, comment below by the deadline of 31st October and I’ll send you the details of your lucky recipient.

You may already know this person as a follower of their blog but, if not, have a good look around their blog and try to put together some gifts that they would really appreciate. See my experience of last year’s #sewingsanta for what to expect: –

Gifted to my Secret Santa recipient

Received from my Secret Santa

Blogging about Secret Santa

I will update this page with details of the blogs that are taking part so why not follow along and make some new blogging buddies!

How To Enter: –

  1. You can enter from anywhere in the world but I will try to match countries in order to keep postage costs down.
  2. State which swap(s) you would like to enter and send your email address, blog site and postal address to me at info@sewchet.com by midnight on 31st October 2015.
  3. I’ll email you the details of your recipient by 7th November.
  4. Spend a maximum of £10 (€13, $15US, $20AUS) excluding postage.
  5. Blog about your #stitchingsanta (linking back to this post) and share using the hash tag.
  6. Post your parcel in time for Christmas – check last posting dates well in advance!! International dates are much earlier in December.

UK Inland: –

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I hope lots of you join in – don’t forget to share, share, SHARE with your own followers, the more the merrier, HOW exciting!

Here’s who has signed up so far: –

sewchet (that’s me!)

Grab A Button For Your Site!

(Just copy image and add as a widget in your sidebar linking back to this post)

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New Hens And A Look At Needlework

We lost a hen recently, one of my favourites, a Bovan Nera named ‘Marley’ – her sister, ‘Bob’ died a few weeks ago as well. Such a lovely, sweet nature, she was the only hen that stood by Amber while she was recovering from a broken leg and didn’t pick on her. When broody, she would hop up onto the sofa and settle down on The Boys’ laps waiting to be stroked.

I miss her calming presence and gentle ‘clucking’ as she wandered in and out of the house.

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As you may have noticed, The Girls play a big part in our lives so I thought you might like to know a bit more about them.

If not, just scroll down the page to the sewing and crochet:)

There are only two hens remaining from the original flock of six, ‘Ginger’, a Columbian Blacktail, and the characterful ‘Amber’, an Amber Star, whose image has graced many a blog post and who is now fully recovered and integrated back into the flock.

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We raised Cock, Buzz and Woody from eggs that our hens hatched, but we lost Buzz to the fox after she ventured into his domain. Generally we don’t have a problem with foxes because, although they are just yards away in the fields most days, they are happy to feast on the never ending supply of rabbits rather than risk getting shot by trying to steal one of The Girls!

Spot, Bluebell, Bob and Marley were all found dead in the nest box at different times with no obvious signs of injury. However, Cock is twice the size of The Girls and he has these lethal weapons.

Three inch long spurs.

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Being an amorous youngster, he is not very delicate with his ladies and we suspect that it was one of these daggers that broke Amber’s leg back in the Summer. He may also have accidentally crushed the others in the nest box overnight too, which would account for the sudden nature of their demise.

Having said all that, he keeps the flock from squabbling most of the time and is a brilliant guard ‘dog’, crowing at any poor unsuspecting delivery person who dares to open the five bar gate at the end of the driveway.

Being a country girl born and bred, his thunderous “Cock-a-doodle-do!” at five am every morning is reassuring rather than annoying. I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when Cock let out his his first strangled half-crow at six months old as he was feeding them corn, the first time we were certain he was a cockerel and not a hen. The tell-tale huge wattle and comb take up to a year to develop fully and at that point he looked just like the others.

There’s no mistaking him for a hen now though!

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Here’s ‘Woody’, hatched with Cock and Buzz.

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A quiet hen who loves blackberries and will jump quite high to reach the juiciest ones!

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Anyway, with a reduced flock of just four we decided it was the right time to replenish the numbers. After a failed attempt to hatch three eggs under a broody hen (they kept getting broken) we returned to the farm where we purchased the original six and bought four more point-of-lay hens.

You need to introduce new girls to the flock with care and in at least pairs as they will automatically get hen-pecked by the senior birds in a bid to teach them the pecking order. And yes, that’s where those phrases come from!

Do you want to meet them?

No, we haven’t got any less obvious with our name choices!

Here’s ‘Star’, a Sussex Star, looking a little grubbier than usual.

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‘Bluebell’, a, erm, Blue Belle.

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‘Chestnut’, a Chalk Hill, Chestnut Ranger.

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Finally, meet ‘Snow White’, a White Leghorn.

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The newbies are still settling in and they haven’t quite got the hang of roosting in the coop at night yet. We usually find them on top of the run at dusk but, several times, have found Blue Belle asleep on top of the rotary washing line!  Luckily, when they’re dozy they’re really easy just to scoop up and safely relocate on the perch with the older hens.

We still find the odd egg laid randomly around the garden and under the trampoline, but most days they’re in the nest box now.

Chestnut lays dark brown eggs – don’t they look pretty with all the others in the bucket?

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It’s nice to see a decent sized flock free ranging again!  Even the newbies regularly come into the house for a ‘chat’ and a few crumbs of whatever I can find to give them. We have four sets of French windows downstairs most of which are permanently open from April to September so The Girls are used to popping in and out at leisure. Now the air has chilled somewhat, the doors are closed and they don’t come in as often, but opportunist Amber will squeeze through the tiniest gap in a door left ajar and plonk herself down firmly with the dogs in front of a roaring fire!

Hens – if you haven’t got any yet, GET SOME!

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Talking of a roaring fire, you may remember that a while ago I found this lovely old fire screen in a charity shop for a few pounds and it has been prettily screening the empty grate all Summer. I shall miss seeing it over the Winter, but logs crackling are a fair substitute!

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An English cottage garden scene hand embroidered onto linen – isn’t it beautiful?

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I used to do a lot of embroidery and cross stitch and still dabble now and again. Years ago, circa 1987-88, I spent weeks labouring over these two ladies as a Christmas gift to my mother.  She has since downsized and they were packed away for over fifteen years before she offered them back to me.

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Each lady is about ten inches in height so they’re pretty sizeable. I just need to repair the back of the frames and then I think I might hang them in our bedroom. What do you think? The colours are still as vibrant as the day they were finished nearly thirty years ago – testament to being kept behind glass out of direct sunlight, I suppose.

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I’m almost three quarters of the way through my Minerva Crafts project for October – good job I started back in July, but I knew I’d need three months to complete the WHOLE book!

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I’ve already got my sights set on another glorious book to work through cover to cover – “Let’s Go Camping” by Kate Bruning.

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You have to check out the caravan – it’s even got crocheted bunk beds!

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In fact, I may have to go right to Amazon now and order myself a copy because my heart is fluttering just looking at it again.

What’s on your needles right now?