Oh My Buttons!

My new craft group sometimes runs workshops, usually taught by one of the members, and I immediately signed up to make my own knickers because why wouldn’t you?  That class is planned for October and, as I’ve tried before and failed, I’ll be interested to see if I can make a decent pair of apple catchers under instruction.

As we now live in Dorset and are lucky to have an expert in smocking and Dorset Button making it seemed a no-brainer to sign up for Rosalind’s class for beginners.  (Ros made the buttons for the most recent Poldark series so she knows what she’s about although, sadly, she didn’t get to personally attach them to Aiden Turner).

This was the tempting display of some of the different buttons that can be made employing this heritage craft.

The choice of colours was a dilemma for me but, as usual, I was drawn towards the blues.

First you do ‘the casting’ which means wrapping the ring (brass in this case) with the thread using a blanket stitch.

We made a Cartwheel Button so ‘the laying’ involves making the spokes and ‘the rounding’ involves weaving round those spokes until you’ve filled the gaps.

I found the hardest bit was ensuring you got the ‘hub’ of the wheel in the centre as you can tell in the photo below.  The pink one was my second practice piece and was even more off centre than the first one.  Still, if I knew what I was doing I wouldn’t have needed to do a workshop would I?

There were six of us in the class and we all managed a couple of buttons which wasn’t bad in the couple of hours we had.

While we were working and weaving, Ros told us about the history of the Dorset Button and, if you want to know more, you can read about it on her website here.  I was interested to hear that – reputedly – King Charles I went to the chopping block wearing jackets adorned with these buttons.  He wore the jackets to stop him shivering in the cold in case onlookers thought he was quaking with fear – as I most certainly would have been.

Anyway, Ros sells the supplies to make more buttons and, although I don’t really need another craft in my life, this one needs very little in the way of equipment and it isn’t expensive and it is also very portable andthere were kits! 

So, of course, I had to buy one.

Luckily, I have a drawer full of different colours of cotton perle thread – I don’t remember why – so, the next day, I made another button to fix the method in my mind and, this time, I got the centre almost right.  Maybe it’s because I remembered to put my glasses on which, for some reason, I hadn’t done at the workshop.

😎

Today it is gloriously sunny and beautiful so I am going to sit in the garden with a book and, just maybe, a brass ring or two and some needle and thread.

Have a lovely weekend wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

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The Dog Days of Summer

Apparently, in the northern hemisphere, the days between the 3rd of July and 11th of August are known as the dog days which are considered to be the hottest days of summer..  In my lovely corner of England, nobody appears to have told the sun. I don’t mind because, in the end,  I didn’t like it in Southern France when it got too hot to go out in comfortably.   I have discovered that the temperate climate of England suits me and, when we get good weather, it’s such a treat that everybody makes the most of it and never takes it for granted.

Still, last weekend my very good friend Sarah, drove the three hours from London to see me in our new house.  She arrived Thursday afternoon and we did a tour of the immediate surroundings so she could see the resting race horses, the rams and the Ladies in Waiting – the cows who are in the field opposite full-time at the moment waiting to calve.  I was especially  hoping for good weather on Friday so we could get out and about a little further afield.  Luckily, Friday was a lovely day so we went to another beach  just to ‘mill about’ and then we walked into the local market town of Bridport. 17,000 steps if you’re at all interested.  She, being a triathlete, has a Fitbit thingy on her wrist so I know it to be true.

The beach we visited is West Bay – more stunning cliffs along the Jurassic Coast.  This was the setting for ‘Broadchurch’ and also the place where Gabriel Oak’s errant sheepdog drove his entire flock of sheep to their deaths in the 2015 film version of ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ (very good by the way but no substitute for the book).

There are always some brave souls ready to make the most of the sunshine.

Close up, the texture and colour of the cliff face looks as if somebody has built a giant sandcastle.

Anyway, back to dogs – sort of.  Do you remember this stitch and flip dog’s face I made yonks ago which, like the paper pieced gnome I showed you recently, I didn’t quite know what to do with afterwards?  Well, I thought I’d use it as the central motif for another quilt for Project Linus UK but, this time, a slightly larger version measuring 36×42 inches which is the size requested for young children.

The block is rectangular – but in the wrong way for a quilt – so I searched my stash and made up the measurements as I went along, in order to utilise the fabric I had and get it to the right size.

I put a large spotted border around the outside and then remembered a dog print fabric I’d bought ages ago for face masks (Miss T. the Elder has one)  so started to make a further border with that using a greater width top and bottom in order to get the rectangular shape going.

One of the lessons I learnt early on in patchwork was to measure through the middle of the piece and cut your border to that size rather than to the size of the sides.  I forgot and ended up with a very wavy quilt top which became apparent when I put the first of the batik borders on.  OOPS!.  So, I had to take all the borders back off (apart from the spotted one) and was amazed at how much shorter I’d cut the doggy print fabric – what was I thinking?  I got creative and made up the shortfall by inserting a small piece of batik on each side.  I think it looks intentional 😉

Anyway, it turned out alright in the end.  The red batik is actually all the same shade but the light wasn’t good in my workroom for the photo so it looks as if it’s lighter at the bottom but it’s not.

Just need to sandwich it together with the wadding and backing, then bind it and quilt it as simply as possible.   I didn’t have enough of any suitable backing fabric in my stash and I had in mind some  dog paw print fabric so I broke my ‘no more fabric until I’m 110‘ rule and ordered a bargain piece online.

I’ll show you it when it’s finished.

I just hope there’s a small child in need of a quilt out there who also loves dogs!!

 

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The Visitation

Although I went out for a lovely meal with Mr. Tialys, his sister and her OH on my actual birthday, it was on a Tuesday so the Misses Tialys couldn’t make it until the weekend.  So, we went out for another one on Saturday night when they both arrived and slept over so they could be with us for Fathers’ Day on the Sunday.

For my birthday, Mr. T. planted this lovely rose against the front of the house and, hopefully it will climb up the white wall (once he puts a trellis up) and eventually it will really look like a cottage with roses round the door.

A few seasons to go yet before the ‘Dancing Queen’, as the rose is called, dances far enough to make getting through the door difficult but fingers crossed.

Miss T. the Younger bought me this lovely, rusty plant stake.  It’s just stuck into the weeds cottage gardenish bank at the moment but we’ll decide where its eventual home will be in due course.

So, Fathers Day dawned all grey and rainy but we were determined to finally get to see the sea and decided to drive down there anyway as it’s only a 15 or 20 minute run in the car.

As we are British, we can’t allow the rain to put us off otherwise we’d never do anything so when we arrived there were quite a few people and quite a few more clouds.  We set off up the cliff path anyway and took in this view looking back

I fear for those cows.

This is part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site and so called because of the best known of the geological periods found within it, but also includes rocks from the Triassic and Cretaceous periods.

It’s a bit precarious (possibly an understatement) – this rock face was sending down pieces of itself in a steady trickle as we walked along the shingle below.

As the morning progressed there were more dog walkers, fishermen, beachcombers, hardy swimmers, paddle boarders etc. and also, the sun came out for long enough to make an ice cream cone seem like a good idea.

We did some beachcombing, half-heartedly searching for fossils and driftwood.  Mr. Tialys and Miss Tialys the Elder – having the longest legs – left me and Miss T. the Younger behind so they only have themselves to blame for the rear view.

Hopefully those pieces of bleached driftwood will turn into something decorative in the fullness of time.

So, having paid for my second birthday dinner the night before, been the first to get up in the morning, driven us to the coast and bought us all ice creams, he drove us back home again and made us a lovely Sunday Roast.

Happy Fathers’ Day. 🤣

(well, they did buy him a nice card and a case of craft beer).

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A New Home For A Gnome

Around 18 months ago I showed you this gnome that I had made using the foundation paper piecing method……just because.

It’s a twelve inch finished block that ended up in my Parts Department as I didn’t really know what to do with it after I made it.  Ever get that feeling?

Anyway, the crafting group I joined a few weeks ago is committed to supporting Project Linus UK** and, although I can’t face piecing and quilting anything large at the moment, a small baby quilt measuring around 30 x 30 inches is eminently doable and will fit nicely under my machine for some rudimentary quilting (which is the only quilting I do).

So, the first step was to cut off those little black beads I’d used for his eyes, promptly lose them down the cracks in my floorboards,  and replace them with my even more rudimentary embroidery.

Then, using my stash and scraps, I did a spotted border to reflect those spots on his top and red cornerstones to pick up the hat.

Also in my Parts Department, I had the remains of a batik charm pack and then cut the cornerstones from fabric left over from a quilt I made for my niece’s baby a couple of years ago.

I used a cream fabric with a slightly embossed design for the border and the same fabric I used for the cornerstones as a backing.

Then I marked the quilt top with a simple, diagonal cross hatch design ready for machine quilting.

I had a fat quarter of Provencal fabric in my stash which, with a few joins and a bit of luck, was just enough to make the binding.

To give credit where credit’s due, Miss Tialys the Younger joined a lot of the ¼ inch seams for me while I did the measuring and cutting and, because she’s learning, she probably took much more care than I do.

I hope the baby and his/her parents like this little quilt and it brightens up their days which might have had a traumatic start of one sort or another.

Next, I have a paper pieced dog’s face in the Parts Department which I might treat in a similar way to this but make it rectangular for a bassinet.

While Miss T. the Younger was in the swing of things we made some tote bags together so now she has her own hand made ‘bags for life’ to go shopping with and I have another two to add to my collection,  We made them with box corners rather than the more simple shape as I find them much more useful for grocery shopping,

Again, I did all the measuring and cutting out but, hopefully, she’ll show an interest in doing that too eventually 🙄  Still, even if she doesn’t, it’s nice to spend time together doing something creative when she visits.  Plus, yet more stash fabric gets used up in a useful way.  Those first two fabrics are from Ikea I don’t know how many moons ago.

 

** from the Project Linus website:

“Project Linus UK is a volunteer organisation. We aim to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers through the provision of new home made patchwork quilts and knitted blankets, and give volunteers across the UK the opportunity to contribute to their local community.”

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Scraphappy Day June 2021

Nothing better to do on my birthday so I’ve made my daughter some hair scrunchies from scraps – she actually helped make them as part of her pledge to get more confident on the sewing machine.

So many scraps and bits and pieces of elastic left over from masks – the compulsory use of which has now been extended for at least another four weeks in England, due to fears about another variant, despite the vast majority of the more vulnerable being double vaccinated.  I don’t like the sound of that ‘at least’.  Oh well.

Only joking about nothing better to do for my birthday – we made them yesterday and Mr, Tialys and I are going out for a slap up meal tonight with favourite sister-in-law and her other half.  A great excuse to wear a ‘frock’.

Talking of Mr. T., he has made a rustic divider/wind break structure for one of the flower beds using yet more pieces of wood found scattered around the garden.

It’s rather stylish so I suppose I’d better include it too otherwise he’ll be a bit miffed.

Plus, let’s be honest, it’s much more impressive than a few hair scrunchies.

 

 

Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate or Gun (first names on the list) if you want to join in.

 

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Pond Life And Other Goings On In The Garden.

I promise you that I have actually created some quite nice things from fabric recently and will definitely be posting about them but – I have had a bad back. Ouch!  I don’t know why but I know it’s been hurting for about a week now with a particularly nasty few days where I actually ‘took to my bed’ as a friend of mine with a dramatic turn of phrase might say.

So – I can’t spend too much time in front of my laptop at the moment – or in any one position to be honest – so, for now, I will show you some photos that I took whilst taking a gentle walk around the garden today as a counterpoint to laying flat on my back and, if feeling adventurous, doing reverse curls.  It will be quicker than typing words – although there will be a few.

There’s never a dull moment in the garden and a lot of them centre around the pond – more of that when I can sit and type long enough to tell you the stories.

Let’s get the pond porn out of the way first, then we can move on.

These, I believe, are some sort of damselflies laying their eggs on the surface of my pond weed.

After they’d indulged in a bit of this.

Ooer Missus.

I tried, in vain to photograph a rather fat looking dragonfly-type creature but this is as good as it got.

I believe it’s a Broad Bodied Chaser – a type of dragonfly.  I think that’s correct as he was trying to get jiggy with it – mid-air mind you – with a similar but golden brown creature who I believe is the female of this species.

Drawing a discreet veil over the pond performances and turning to the flora in and around the pond I give you this lovely water lily.

Cotton Grass – looking exactly as if somebody’s thrown some cotton wool to the ground

Another marginal – not sure what it’s called though.

It looks as if we’ve fitted a white rug beneath this wire bench but it’s actually Snow in- Summer.

An overview of where it all goes on.

Away from the pond, there are some other favourites.

This huge poppy is an early starter but look at all those others waiting to emerge.

We’ve inherited many and variously coloured Aquilegia but this one is my favourite.

A close up of a sea pink.

A carpet of yellow stars – a type of Sedum.

Which together make for a colourful rockery in a quiet corner.

Now we’re back in England I can have Foxgloves again.

The vegetable growing hasn’t been neglected.  This row of assorted Kale is a forewarning that Mr. T. will be making me greeny brown smoothies again that I (reluctantly) drink as if they are medicine.

Spotted a few stems of Quaking Grass in a post by Sandra (Wild Daffoldil) the other day and was fascinated by the many names it goes by.  My favourite is ‘Wag Wanton’. It shimmers beautifully in a breeze and the little pods look like mini scarabs.

A bit blurry but, true to their name(s), they were quaking, wantonly.

Talking of funny names – this beautiful viola would also be called a ‘Johhny Jump- Up’ or at least in Maine, U.S.A. where Laurie of Notes from the Hinterland blogs.

Some blooms just have to be taken inside to enjoy.

Well, not such a short post after all but it took me about 3 days to complete so, back to my ‘day bed’ for a bit of flattening out, followed by a few knee hugs and a couple of sets of reverse curls.

I have a chiropractor’s appointment on Monday.

(They are apparently busier than usual due to the depressing and daunting task of getting a doctor’s appointment these days.)

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When The Cows Come Home

The cows are back in the field alongside our garden again.

Some are trying to help us keep the grass in check.

Some just find us fascinating.

This one was a bit shy at first

Although she did pose nicely for me between rubbing her head on our willow tree.

I love them but Stan’s not quite so sure.

Very distracting from our home office when this is the view…..

………and not only for us

But I can think of worse ones.

 

 

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Yesterday Was A Good Day

I found a crafting group!

As most of you know, we moved back to England from France in November and, after quarantining for two weeks there was a brief period of relative freedom before going into quite hard lockdown again.  I saw a few of my new neighbours whilst out dog walking but haven’t been out and about apart from ‘necessary’ shopping.

We have an artisan centre in the next village which has now opened again and, in one corner of the Makers’ Gallery they have a pop-up display from a local artist which is changed every two weeks.  I saw some beautiful knitted pieces and very large crocheted mandala in copper hoops there and, by chance, I found the artist on Facebook and noticed she runs a crafting group that meets every Thursday and it is up and running again.  Be still my heart.

It’s a half hour’s drive away through winding country lanes but where there’s a will there’s a way and there was definitely a will.

The group meets in a village hall and as the sun was finally shining, and the view was lovely (see above), we sat outside next to the little river and I started to get to know some of the people.

There are knitters, crocheters, weavers and spinners, needlepointers (?), quilters, dressmakers and all kinds of everything.  One of the members raises funds for the Linus Trust and they are making quilts for premature babies, full term ones, children and teens.  As I like nothing more than an excuse to make small quilts, I’ll be rooting through my fabric stash and making two or three of those. I took some simple knitting to do but it wasn’t simple enough apparently as, when I got home, I realised I’d made a few mistakes because I’d been enthusiastically chatting – so had to undo what I’d done, which luckily wasn’t much.

The club organises workshops and I do love a good workshop.  On offer yesterday to sign up for were:

Beginner’s Embroidery  – (need but don’t want)

Spinning and Weaving –  (don’t need but might secretly want)

Knicker Making – (yes! Signed up)

Dorset Buttons – (signed up,wondered why, was thinking of crossing out my name,  then was told the lady who teaches it is the Dorset Button lady and so, added to the fact that I now live in Dorset, why wouldn’t I give it a try?

Watch this space for knickers and fancy buttons.

The lady next to me yesterday was weaving a Jacob fleece into a rug – I can’t wait to see it but, being a newbie, I didn’t feel I could take photos of the goings on quite yet so, until I have ingratiated myself into the group a bit more, here are some pics from my dog walk  instead because I took them and therefore must inflict them on you.   The theme is white and wild, apart from the little viola.

Hawthorn

Ramsons – Wild Garlic

Queen Anne’s Lace plus Stan (who peed on it afterwards)

Haven’t a Scooby

Again, some sort of white wildflower – the head gardener isn’t here today to advise.

Edit: Stitchwort, thank you Wild Daffodil & now returned Head Gardener.

Just to make the day perfect, an independent boutique has opened up in the next village and it has lovely, unusual(ish) clothes at decent prices.  I felt as if I had to show my support. I was gratified to see that they wrapped my purchases in tissue and put them in a brown paper carrier bag.  I know plastic bags are awful but there’s nothing that takes the joy out of buying clothes (or underwear as has happened to me) when they are just rolled up and handed to you to stuff in your handbag.

Then I booked a table for four for my birthday dinner in a couple of weeks’ time for me, Mr. T., my favourite sister-in-law and her OH in a lovely country pub.

What will today bring?

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #33

Another brief visit for a Tuesday.

Remember my struggles with the Fisherman’s Rib stitch?

Every mistake shows and is difficult to put right.

Well, I persevered and finished it and as every cloud – and there have been quite a lot of them – has a silver lining, it’s still cold enough to wear it in the middle of May.

Farewell Fisherman’s Rib – I’d like to say it’s been fun but it hasn’t so I won’t be troubling you again.

Do you have something in the artsy fartsy/crafting line you’ve tried once and decided once was enough?

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #32

Last week I had a long awaited appointment with the dental hygienist.

Due to using a device that sprays lots of water around the hygienist and her assistant had to get togged up in an outfit similar to this but black instead of green……….

……….and a head covering which looked like an oversized biker’s helmet.

There was also a huge extractor machine by the window which had to be switched on for ten minutes  after I’d left the room before the next patient could come in.  Apparently, at the start of the restrictions, it had to be left on for an hour.

I felt like E.T. but I didn’t phone home because there were no hygienists in France so I really needed that appointment.

 

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