Monday, 19 October 2015

Garden Inspired Needlecases

My garden provides me with lots of inspiration, from colour combinations, to flowers to stitch. As it was dull and drizzly today I decided to cheer myself up by looking through this summers garden photos. The garden has provided a lot of inspiration for needlecases this year.

It is only a few weeks since these photos of pink anemones against the beautiful blue sky was taken. It feels warmer already! The anemones always bring a splash of colour to the garden at the end of the season and never fail to make me smile.
The delicate pink and burst of yellow in the centre makes them stand out against the sky.
The Cath Kidston fabric on these needlecases is similar in tone, with the pink against the blue. I added touches of yellow in the embroidered flowers to add some contrast.
 Daisies of any shape and colour are a personal favourite and these bright yellow daisies with the limey green foliage just shout sunshine. The butterfly loves them too. This photo would have been better if the daisies had been dead-headed first but I was too keen to catch the butterfly. Apparently, it is a female gatekeeper butterfly, which I have just had to look up as I had no idea what is was.
 Countryfile on the BBC offered free packs of Go Wild seeds in the Spring to encourage people to grow wild, native plants in their gardens to attract and support wildlife. As I try to grow as many native plants as possible to help bees and butterflies I immediately sent off for a pack. After following the instructions, this was the result.
It has attracted lots of lovely insects, particularly bees and I shall be definitely buying packs of wild flower mix seeds next year.

The combination of the red and yellow of the poppies and daisies influenced the colours I chose on these two needlecases. My real wheelbarrow is too rusty to be used, so it sits in the front garden and makes a great planter. The blue jug on the second needlecase was inspired by an old jug that sits on the kitchen table with garden flowers in it, for as much of the year as I can find plants to gather.
 The blues, purples and pinks used on these needlecases are similar to the flowers in the old blue jug.

My garden is rather wild and plants often seed themselves around the place, so there are no subtle colour combinations, which I admire in other people's gardens. It is more like an explosion in a paint factory effect, but I have learned to love the way nature throws things together. The riot of colours bring me joy in their exuberance.
I try to be a bit more subtle when putting colours together to stitch. Daisies feature again in this wheelbarrow with a few forget-me-nots underneath. There are so many wonderful designs in welly-boots now and I would love a spotty pair, but will have to be content with stitching them for now. They make an ideal container for red tulips.
Bees enjoy the aqualegia flowers and alliums early in the season and its great to hear them humming as they busily collect nectar and pollen. It would be good to keep bees and chickens, which feature on these two needlecases, but as I react badly to bee stings, it is probably not a good idea.
I bought a bee box recently, so at least they will find shelter in the garden this winter. 
Well, the summer is over and the pots of flowers have faded but the photos will still provide lots of inspiration. This pot of petunias would make a good needlecase cover, but I think I shall just use the pinks and mauves and forget the orange geranium that crept in by mistake!



Monday, 28 September 2015

Cacti Pin Cushions

There seem to be a lot of lovely cacti designs around at the moment. I have several cacti that live in the conservatory. These ones used to belong to my mother and have been around for a long time. I love the old fashioned dish they are in, although they would probably benefit from being re-potted.
These are not quite as old but arrived as little starter plants.
Stephanie at Ric-Rac has been creating these gorgeous designs.
Copyright Stephanie Thannhauser
You can see more at her posts Cacti and Cacti collage experiments. I am hoping they may turn into some of Stephanie's wonderful fabric designs. 
It set me thinking about making some cacti. Surely cacti were made for pins. Out came the felt and I began experimenting with shapes.
I machine stitched them first to give some strength and then blanket stitched by hand around the edges with stranded thread.
They needed stuffing really firmly if they were to take pins. The bottom of each cacti was left open so that it could be attached to the fabric "compost".
Felt flowers came next to add some decoration.
Finally, came the task of attaching the cacti to the fabric "compost" cushion.  This was the tricky bit. Trying to get the cacti to sit on the cushion without wobbling and making the cushion the right size to sit in the little terracotta pots. After a few stabbed fingers and stuffing adjustments it all came together.
Ribbon and ric-rac were added to the pots and they were all ready for pins........
.........or posing in the garden pretending to be real!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Cushions (Lucky Finds)

Cushions have always been a favourite thing to make. They are useful, decorative, provide comfort and can update a room quickly. This cushion was made by a good friend of mine and lives in one of the bedrooms.
I love the way the strong texture of the tweed has been combined with the delicate silk, net and voiles in the flower.
The centre of the flower is a felt ball studded with beads. It is sooooo pretty.
This cushion provided the inspiration and colour link for new cushions after redecorating.

The room is decorated in Laura Ashley Duck Egg blue and I wanted a touch of fushia pink to give it some warmth. There was enough fabric left over from the curtains to make two basic Oxford cushions, but they needed something pretty. Luckily, after hunting in the fabric drawers I found a Tilda charm pack, which had been a birthday present that were just the right colours.
How amazing was that, the duck egg blue with splashes of fushia pink and some green to give it an extra zing.
                     
I used the 'stack and whack' method of patchwork and added some hand embroidery and pieces of old lace to decorate the surface.
The hand embroidery has been worked with stranded thread and the lace flowers were cut out from an old piece of lace that was also at the bottom of the drawer. One of the benefits of hoarding things, you just never know when they may be useful! Delicate shell buttons from the button box were also added.
The two cushions are different, which pleases me as it makes them unique.

The room was almost complete with the fushia tweed cushion sitting in the chair but it looked a little lost all on its own. It needed a friend but I was fast running out of the right coloured fabric. My next piece of luck was to find a pretty crochet pattern in Granny Squares All Shapes and Sizes by Barbara Wilder and Beatrice Simon.
It had been created in similar colours, which was fortunate as I probably would not have considered it otherwise.
The front and the back panels are stitched together separately and then joined like a jigsaw puzzle. It was a bit tricky fitting the cushion pad in and stitching the last section but..............
                        ............Voila! It all came together.
The two cushions fit neatly in the chair
                            and I'm very happy with the results of all the lucky finds!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Unexpected Gifts


Last year I inherited a large box of wool, tapestry kits and many skeins of tapestry wool from a family friend. J had been a very creative person making a range of cushions, beautifully knitted garments and handcrafted gifts.

Initially, I sorted through the kits and decided it may be possible to sell some of them on ebay. They went surprisingly well and made a tidy sum for J's favourite charity. Friends had a good morning rummaging and choosing what they could use. The pile was getting smaller but what to do with all those odd skeins of wool that were left?

I loved the bright cheery colours and really wanted to DO something with them. It was about this time that I discovered Attic 24 and Lucy's wonderful, colourful, crochet world and inspiration struck.
Would the tapestry wool crochet? It had been ages since I picked up a crochet hook, so time for some experimentation. A 5.00mm crochet hook worked well as the tapestry wool was similar to DK wool. I had spotted  a granny square pattern in Cute and Easy Crochet with Flowers by Nicki Trench, which looked like it may work well with the range of colours I had.

It was possible to make 6 squares using 8 skeins of wool, 3 for the centre flower, 2 for the middle round and 3 for the outside. This was not a project I sat at, but did as and when mood and time allowed. It was quite handy to transport around as 8 skeins and a hook fitted easily into a small bag.
The pile of squares grew steadily. Now how was I going to join all these crazy colours together? At the bottom of J's box was a pack of blue DK wool. Some of it had been used to make Little S a bolero cardigan.
There was lots left so hopefully it would be enough go round all the colourful squares.
I worked a simple double crochet edge to each of the squares and it was amazing what a difference the blue border made.
Phew, there was enough wool to do all the squares, crochet them together and
Ta Dahhhh..........
....................even enough left over for a border.

The colours are a bit random but they make me smile with their bright cheerfulness.
Thank you Lucy getting me crocheting again and thank you J for the unexpected gift. Your memory will live on in this blanket and the many other beautiful gifts you made in your lifetime.

I have now caught the crochet bug and currently have an Attic 24 ripple blanket and a granny square cushion on the go. More about those another time.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Hello

Hello, my name is Anne and I love to sew, embroider, knit, crochet, craft and generally make things. I really enjoy reading other people's blogs and decided to begin my own. I hope to share the things that inspire me, make me happy and my own creativity through this blog.
My garden is a great inspiration to me. It is only quite small but I love to potter about amongst the plants and flowers. It is a good place to escape the stresses of daily life and there is nothing like getting your hands dirty to bring you back down to earth. It also influences a lot of my stitching as whatever I make, a flower or leaf seems to creep in somewhere.
Daisies have always been important as they bring back lots of happy memories of childhood. Sitting on the grass making daisy chains with friends. Now, teaching younger members of the family to thread the stems carefully through each other. It's just another form of stitching! Daisies always look so sunny and cheerful too, even on a dull day. These Marguerites were grown from seed.
The daisies on the front panel of this small 4 inch notebook were embroidered in lazy daisy stitch (naturally) in space dyed stranded thread. They are on a needle felted and machine embroidered background.
These hardy osteospermum daisies are originally from South Africa and look more exotic than our native ones but are just as bright and joyful. A good friend and neighbour gave me these from her garden and they love the dry arid conditions by the wall. 
This picture was taken last month in July and as you can see my garden is pretty jam packed with plants and flowers. Most of them have been acquired like the daisies above from cuttings from friends and family. This makes them special because when I potter around the garden the plants remind me of the people, so the garden is full of friends as well as flowers.

A selection of gift tags, which were all garden inspired. I had not really realised until now how entwined my stitching and garden are.
Thank you for reading this and I hope you will join me again on this journey into the blogging world.