Friday, 22 September 2017

A walk in the park!

Several months ago the Embroiderers Guild sent out a request for contributions to a forthcoming exhibition to be based around books. The exhibition would be called Page 17, although the solicited exhibits could be based upon anything to do with a book not just the 17th page. The exhibits would be on display at the Knitting and Stitching shows in Harrogate and London and, it was hoped, would also travel to other venues later in the year.

Existing works that might suit the theme were to be submitted by the end of April for consideration and a deadline of the end of August was set for exhibits created specifically for the exhibition. At the time I think this distinction created some confusion as I saw several comments on how little time there was to submit a piece. Undaunted I sent off an email to say that I was interested in submitting a new piece and then started thinking ... and thinking ... and thinking :)

You will not, I am sure, be surprised to know that I finally finished my piece for the exhibition the day before the submission deadline!



When our boys were little one of their favourite books was Lynley Dodd's Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, and now it is a favourite of our gorgeous grandson too. So, I decided to have some fun with the characters in the book for my embroidery. I knew that my drawing skills were not up to reproducing the characters exactly so decided to show bits of them as if they were being seen through holes in the fence.

Each of the dogs in the book has an accompanying description, so Muffin McLay is like a bundle of hay.

My Muffin McLay is a bit curly for hay but I think he is still recognisable! I used a New to Me stitch for Muffin, drizzle stitch, which is apparently Brazilian in origin. It was great fun to stitch and is definitely a great addition to my stitching repertoire.

I stitched all of the dogs, apart from Hairy Maclary, on to a cotton backing fabric then joined the sky and fence fabric together to place over the top before adding Hairy Maclary and the fence and tree detail.

I spent a while trying to work out how best to deal with the cut-outs for the embroidery and finally used another New to Me technique.


Spray starch sprayed into the aerosol lid

then painted on to the seam allowance of the circle cut-outs and ironed in place before being placed in front of the embroidered cotton. To my surprise it worked!

I wanted Hairy Maclary to stand proud of the rest of the embroidery so used wool on canvas and another New to Me stitch, Turkey Stitch, to create his fluffy self. (Apologies for the somewhat blurred photo I was running out of time when I took it!)

I was very pleased with how it all turned out and when the piece has finished travelling it will be another addition to the gallery on the gorgeous grandson's wall!

If you haven't read the books the characters are from the left;

  • Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum
  • Muffin McLay like a bundle of hay
  • Bitzer Maloney all skinny and bony
  • Bottomley Potts covered in spots
  • Hercules Morse as big as a horse
and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy :)

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Friday, 25 August 2017

Firsts and Seconds

It is the 25th of the month already, how did that happen? You know what that means, time to open up this month's New to Me link party.




If you haven't come across the New to Me link party before, it is where we celebrate the trials and tribulations of giving something a go for the first time. So, join me as I share what I have been up to this month and join the link party if you have had any new experiences this month too. The link party will stay open until the August 31st so there is still time to have a go at something new and join the party :)

My New to Me's are definitely a mix of highs and lows.

The high?



My first ever entry in to the Hobbies and Crafts section at the local horticultural show and it came second!! I entered my Still Waters piece from the Embroiderer's Guild Capability Brown exhibition into the Tapestry item class. I wasn't 100% convinced that this counted as a tapestry but I was told that the organisers were not too strict on their definitions, and there was no other class that it could have come in so I went ahead and entered. I was very glad that I did when I went to collect it at the end of the show.
Next year I might even enter something in the Quilted Item class :)

My next New to Me has been a definite mix of highs and lows.



We treated ourselves to a new AGA range cooker in preparation for our new kitchen. If you haven't come across a range cooker before it is a very different way of cooking, and one that we are still trying to get our heads around. Instead of setting the temperature for a dish there are three ovens, all of differing heats, and the mantra is to "find the appropriate heat". We haven't starved since the oven has been put in, but there have been some occasions when the local fish and chip shop has seemed like a very attractive option!



My final New to Me is a mix of old and new, old - cross stitch and new - on paper. I picked up the paper cross stitch bunting kit on our last trip to France, and have been stitching away now and then ever since. When finished it will be another gift for the gorgeous grandson who, can you believe it, is about to turn one in a couple of weeks! Now that time really has flown :)

So, that's my New to Me's now it is your turn to link up. As always the link up will remain open until August 31st. Visit your fellow linkers and leave a comment or two as we all know a little encouragement when we are learning new skills is always welcome.



Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A Day out in the Sunshine

We have had a rather wet and miserable summer here in Scotland, so opportunities to explore more of the region have been thin on the ground. The rain held off long enough recently for us to visit Culzean Castle and it was definitely worth dodging raindrops for!


The site has been the home of the chiefs of Clan Kennedy since the 14th Century, although the building you see in the photo above is the converted Castle designed by the celebrated architect Robert Adam for the 10th Earl of Cassilis. The Castle has been owned by the National Trust for Scotland since the Kennedy's gifted it in lieu of death duties in 1945. One stipulation of the gift was that the top floor of the castle be retained as an apartment for use by General D. Eisenhower, who did visit four times during his lifetime. Nowadays you can walk in the General's steps as the apartment is available for rent

Culzean Castle sits in nearly 600 acres of grounds, so as well as exploring the house with it's magnificent Oval Staircase there are some wonderful gardens to discover.

The Fountain Court garden in front of the Castle was closed to the public the day we were there, as they were setting up marquees for a wedding that weekend. A marquee wedding is a very brave thing to book in Scotland, even in August!

The Walled Garden, which was split in to a kitchen garden and pleasure garden was entered through these imposing gates.

As well as pleasant avenues,


the Walled Garden contained an apple orchard and a meadow garden.


Between the Walled Garden and the Castle sits the magnificent Camellia House. The 10th Earl certainly knew how to splash the cash around, didn't he?

We decided not to see everything in one day so have left the Swan Pond, Ice houses and Pagoda for another visit.

Instead, we indulged in coffee and cake in the Stable Coffee House and enjoyed the view (and the rare glimpse of sunshine!).


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