About Me

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Catton, Northumberland, United Kingdom
I love all kinds of stitching and enjoy learning, experimenting with and sharing new techniques. Married with 3 children, 2 daughters and a son, a dog and four cats, I also get involved with my daughters 3 horses.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Baby, its cold outside............

Winter has come early to Northumberland!  We have around 12 inches of snow and when the sun shines it is a winter wonderland.  It is probably hard to believe but these two photos were taken this morning within 10 minutes of each other.  It is now snowing again heavily and I don't think we will be going anywhere for a day or two.

On the plus side we can sit by this

and get lots of stitching done.  Since the snow started I have finished Holly, the Christmas Elf

and am now working on Ivy.  It has been good to find time to blog again too.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Teaser Tuesdays


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here is mine:-

"What would have happened if Henry hadn't vanished?  Perhaps, Meredith wouldn't have  grown ever more unpleasant, as she did"
From The Legacy by Katherine Webb.  This is an intriguing novel about two sisters and family secrets spanning three generations and set in both England and America.  A contempory and a historical novel rolled into one.

Friday, 17 September 2010

A Quilt for Sue

Sue is a very ill lady and her friend is collecting blocks to make a quilt for her.  If you would like to support a fellow stitcher please click here for more information and how to help

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

New Arrival

Meet Jack the newest addition to our menagerie.  He is a Border Terrier puppy and officially my elder daughters 21st birthday present but he had taken everyone under his spell.  Our other dog is getting used to him but as you can see below there is quite a size difference!  I hope they are going to be good friends.

The cats are not so sure about him though.  Holly has taken up residence on my printer
which is less than helpful when I want to use it!

Jack is into everything - wastepaper baskets are being emptied all over the house and nothing is safe from his needle sharp teeth -  but has very quickly made himself at home despite turning it upside down.  He is growing really quickly and has already grown into his collar which was slightly too big for him when he arrived a fortnight ago.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

New Book

I had a surprise in the post today, a copy of Cloth Doll Artistry by Barbara Willis which I won in a draw at ukclothdollmakers.  It is a lovely book, a mix of clear instructions and sheer inspiration so thank you Jules who organised the draw.  Here is the link for it at Amazon
I am not usually lucky in draws but this week I also won a fat quarter of fabric at a Quilters Guild event.  It was a pie & pea supper at which American Quilter Faye Labanaris was talking about a series of quilts she has made entitled America's Stately Wreaths each one featuring the apropriate state flower.  The fabric is two William Morris panels - I'm not sure how I will use them yet but no doubt inspiration will strike sometime.  Any suggestions anyone?  Last Sunday Faye ran a workshop to create an applique block of British wild flowers using a variety of ribbons, fabric markers and ultrasuede.  This last was new to me but very nice to work with.  It was really enjoyable to spend a day hand stitching in good company.  I completed about a third of the block on the day and will post a pic when it is finished.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Back at Last

It has been an age since I last posted but at long last I have the internet connection (it took 6 weeks after our move to get connected) and the time to start posting again.  The last few weeks have been really busy trying to get the house straight (still failing on that one) and generally getting to grips with things.  There have been delays and hiccuphs - such as problems with our water supply which was so useless I couldn't use the washing machine and had to filter all our drinking water - but although we are still waiting for our shower to be plumbed things are slowly moving forward now and the water is now good and plentiful.  As you've probably guessed it is from a spring so no chlorine or chemicals which is wonderful.
I have managed some stitching time and have a split nine patch quilt on the go. The pic shows the blocks laid out but I want to make 3 more to make it larger.  All of the fabric has come out of my stash - I had to use some before I went to the Great Northern Quilt Show and added anymore! - and I have used some of the fat quarters which I couldn't resist when I bought them but then couldn't use.  It has taken less than a day to stitch the blocks so it seems like a good pattern when you need something ready in a hurry.  I came across it at http://www.justhands-on.tv/

I finally finished the above quilt which I call Goose Chase.  Well I had to because I entered it for the Great Northern Quilt Show.  It is the first time I have entered a competitive show and it nearly didn't get there!  As it had been so long in the making I decided it should be washed before it went on view and one of the colours in the central ring bled.  I managed to sort it but nearly had heart failure at the thought of all that work potentially ruined.  I don't usually wash fabrics before piecing as I like to work with the crisp fabric but this might make me make think twice. 
This quilt had also been on its travels.  I was delighted when it was accepted for the Quilters Guild Summer in the Park  Exhibition at Rufford Craft Centre in Nottinghamshire.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to see it having just moved etc.

I will hopefully be posting more regularly now and still have lots of things to share so until then...........

Thursday, 1 July 2010


 We have finally moved in to our new house and everything is chaos even though I thought I was really organised.  Now I know what stress is!!!   We managed to move ourselves, three horses, 1 dog, 4 cats, 1 chincilla and the fish without losing anyone and even kept our sanity and tempers.  I have been so busy decorating that I have not posted for a while and have just discovered today that we will have no telephone or internet until 23rd July (apparently BT has a back log!).  So lots of sewing time once we are straight but no blog posts.  Hopefully, will have something to share when I am back on line once more.  Just as well we have decent mobile phone reception.
I will have lots to catch up with when back on line - it will probably take a week to get through all the e-mails!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

I took the process pledge

When I can grab a few minutes at the computer and escape from stripping wallpaper, cleaning etc at the new house (pic shows youngest daughter hard at work!) I have been working my way down the list of quilts at Amys Quilt Festival (if you have not yet found your way there, there is a link on the right) and at Marit's Blog I came across the Process Pledge.  The idea is that those of us who blog about our quilts (and other crafts) should make a pledge to share more about our thoughts and the process of designing and making our quilts.  I decided to join in as I always love to read about other stitchers creation processes and it will hopefully prove motivating for me as well perhaps being interesting/useful for any other crafters out there.

I am just about to start a new quilt which is to be for my son and his partner.  I have found a pattern called 'In the Pink' which is being offered as a block of the month by Esther Aliu and which features both piecing and applique.  I have been given a free reign to create this quilt as regards pattern but they would like it to feature 'peacock' colours so I will have to change the colours in the pattern.  I would also like to try and use fabrics from my stash rather than buying new ones (that will be a first if it happens!).  At the moment I am trying to decide on the colours and the applique method but I probably won't actually start sewing until after we move.  I'm itching to get started though ............perhaps I will find time to at least select the fabrics.................

Sunday, 30 May 2010

New Home

At long last we have completed the purchae of our dream home and hopefully my last move ever!  It has taken nearly three years to find a actually purchase and the dream we have been chasing is actually starting.  This is the view from the front door over our fields (all 80 odd acres of them) and beyond and still beautiful even in the rain.  Plans include a livery business, a proper studio with room for me to teach as well as some hens and a proper veggie plot but Rome wasn't built in a day and first we have to get the house habitable ready to move in before the end of June.  I think stitching (and blogging) may get a bit neglected for a while!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Amys Quilt Festival

Discovered this event via Mogs Blog and thought it sounded interesting.  Amy is hosting an online quilt festival and if you visit Amys Blog you can not only see (at the present count) 252 quilts but you can also share a picture of one your quilts and its story. 

Here's mine.

I'm not cheating - it is only one quilt but I made it double sided.  I made it for my daughter and started it around 4 years ago when she was 13.  She chose the animals she wanted from A Quilters Ark by Margaret Rolfe and I set to work piecing them using freezer paper templates.  When the animals were finished I then took a while to work out how to place them and also in finding a fabric that would blend with them all.  By now she is 17 and, although she says she still likes it, I am worried that it is too childish.  In addition we had been collecting fabric for this quilt at all the quilt shows we have visited together and I hadn't used half of it - it must be the most expensive quilt in history!  I decided to use some of the stash to create the backing, keeping the animal theme but in a more (I hope) sophisticated way.  I was pleased with the second quilt but it did give me a headache when I came to quilt.  In the end I free machine quilted leaves on the top using a varigated thread but put invisible thread on the bobbin so the quilting did not detract from the pattern on the back.  I know patchwork and quilting is traditionally about using what you have and improvising but I would have made life easier if I had followed a pattern or at least created my own plan when I started.  It was fun though and she still uses the animals on top - at least for now.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here is mine:-

"the most dazzling treasure recovered, the Tiffany diamond necklace of its day, the ne plus ultra for the dazzingly rich girl about town, was the fabulous gold scarab, the only one ever found in Asia Minor or the Aegean bearing the cartouche of Nefertiti, the famously beautiful wife of the eighteenth-dynasty, heretically monotheistic  Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten."

page 44 -  The Way of Herodotus - Travels with the Man who Invented History by Justin Marozzi
Find more teasers  here
This is a change from my usual reading choice and was inspired by reading a review my son had written about it - here and the fact that I visited some of the countries the author visits last year.  I read the review (being a supportive parent!!) thought it sounded interesting and am now enjoying it.  I think it will appeal to anyone who has an interest in history and its interpretation through the ages.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Dandelion Days

I've not posted for a while because I have had a really busy couple of weeks.  The week before last we were in London visiting music colleges with my youngest daughter who is hoping to apply soon but I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Quilt Exhibition at the V & A.  It was well worth a visit, especially if you like to see antique quilts.  The quilts on display date from 1700 to 2010 and range from large bed quilts and bed hangings to small sewing accessories; domestic and commercially made quilts and some specially commissioned quilts from current quilt artists.  More details of the exhibition here http://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/future_exhibs/Quilts/index.html  Linked to the exhibition is the Quilt of Quilts website where the general public are invitied to post pictures of their quilts and all the images together form a virtual quilt.  409 have been up-loaded so far so there is the potential for many happy hours browsing! http://www.vam.ac.uk/microsites/quilts/gallery/patterns
Whilst on the subject of exhibitions, I have been asked to mention an exhibition by Foggy Furze Quilters.  This will take place at Foggy Furze Library, Stockton Road, Hartlepool on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th June.  Entry is free and there is to be a raffle (first prize a quilt) in aid of the RNLI.  If any readers are in the area on those days I am sure it will be well worth a visit.
Finally, to the dandelions.  I had a friend staying with me last week and spent lots of time out and about visiting local attractions and, thanks to the mainly good weather, country walks.  Is it my imagination or are there more dandelions than usual this year?  Some roads were lined with them - very sunny and cheerful - and I wondered if our cold winter and late spring has perhaps provided good conditons for them.  The down side is that they also seem to have taken over our lawn! 

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Inspiration strikes in Sunderland!

My husband was working in Sunderland this morning and as I have been wanting to see the exhibition of local textile group Fusion, which is at Sunderland Minster until 14th May, I cadged a lift and spend a most enjoyable morning there.  I visited the Minster first and as I was early I had the church and the exhibition to myself and was really able to spend time appreciating both the beauty and peace of the building and the work displayed.  Here are 3 of my personal favourites.  From left to right -Bede by Melitta Butterall, which is an exquisitely worked goldwork piece, Save our Soles by  Donna Cheshire, and St Mark by Victoria McLeod whose robes are worked very effectively in chain stitch.  After a visit to the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, I finished with a stroll in Mowbray Gardens where inspiration struck!  I'm not a fan of the regimental planting that is so often seen in parks but the colours combinations here were amazing and I think could translate into some stunning quilts.  Here are the pics.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Star Cross Patchwork

I started this at a workshop with Celia Eddy in March and have just finished it this afternoon - part of my blitz on UFO's!  I didn't like it much before I quilted it - I think I should have reversed the fabrics which would have made the stars more prominent - but it has improved with the quilting and I am going to make it into a cushion.  It was constructed from two templates which needed to be very accurately cut.  I haven't been quite accurate enough and some of my stars are a bit wobbly.  I think I prefer rotary cutting and strip piecing.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

I came across Teaser Tuesdays on Mogs Blog (link on the right)  and thought it was such a good idea I would feature it here and join in.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here is mine:-
"Marcus folded up beside him and watched, vividly remembering another war-spear whose collar had been the blue grey feathers of a heron.  Esca stood leaning one shoulder against the rowan wood doorpost, watching also."
Page 133 The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe
This is a book I have had since I was a teenager. I suddenly got the urge to read it again and I am enjoying it even more 30+ years later. 
Find more teasers here


I posted some photos of Fiona's quilt last year when it was a WIP.  I actually got it finished a while ago now but didn't get round to photographing it until today so here it is together with the cat that spends a lot of time on it.  Today she is surveying the world from the shed roof but I digress!   The quilt is  two sided which made me think long and hard about how to quilt it particularly as many of my quilting friends thought I should make two separate quilts (but I couldn't face that as I desperately wanted it finished).  In the end I used a varigated thread to machine quilt freestyle leaves on one side but used an invisible thread in the bobbin so the quilting pattern did not interfere with the crazy log cabin on the reverse.  I prefer the reverse (log cabin) but Fiona still likes the animals so we are both happy!  I found the strippy border in a brilliant book called "Sensational Sets & Borders" Rodale's Successful Quilting Library which has lots of excellent ideas for borders.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Stitching Weekend

I've managed to spend most of this weekend doing what I enjoy best - designing and stitching!  Here is the result - no problems with finding a title for this one.  It could have been "How much further?" or "Are we there yet?" but I finally settled on "Wait for me, Mum?"  All familiar refrains to most mum's I'm sure!  I have used  free machine embroidery for mum's shell, facial details and for the ground and needle lace for mum's legs and the babies shell.  Hope they make you smile!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Just spent the last couple of hours lacing my most recent pieces.  Well, actually lacing two - I got so fed up that I used double sided tape for the last one which is an example for a workshop rather than a 'proper' piece.  It is such a boring job but they always look better for stretching properly.  Here is a photo of the latest offering.  I have used ribbonwork to embellish a photograph that I have transfered to fabric.  For this one, I scanned an old copyright free postcard and enlarged it before printing it onto photo transfer paper.  It was then ironed to transfer the image to calico.  It did stiffen the fabric and transfered a bit patchily but I quite like the aged effect for this piece.  Generally though I prefer to treat my own fabrics with Bubble Jet Set which I find does not alter the handle of the fabric.  This was an experiment but I think I might now dig out some old family photos for this treatment.  Can't think of a title though - any ideas anyone?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Spring at Last?

Today has been beautiful here so perhaps spring has come at last.  I saw 8 swallows yesterday so maybe summer will not be too far behind.  Thinking of summer, I have just finished this ribbon embroidery inspired by summer fields so thought I would add it here.  It is worked mainly in silk ribbons on painted calico and now just needs mounting.  I think an oval mount will set it off nicely.

Regular visitors may notice that I have added a page to this blog.  Please take a look

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Chinese Embroidery

I've spent today at the Oriental Museum here in Durham amongst some wonderful stitching.  A small group of us from the Durham Branch of the Embroiderers' Guild volunteer at the museum each month and are privilged to see and help to conserve some amazing needlework. This butterfly is from a silk jacket and you can see more pics like this in my picassa album here http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/patashtonsmith/ChineseEmbroidery#
The jacket is currently on display at the museum along with many other treasures.  http://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/  The museum celebrates its jubilee on May 28th with a special exhibition which will include a fabulous Dragon Robe (right) there are some more photos of this at the link above but it needs to be seen up close to really appreciate the incredible stitching.  Some of the Pekin Knot work is so fine you need a magnifying glass to see the individual knots!  If you are in this part of the world do pay the exhibition a visit just to see this.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A Belated Happy New Year

I can't believe it is February already and how long it is since I have last posted - where do the days go. Four weeks of snow didn't help. When it first came it was too tempting to take Oscar for long walks as everything was so beautiful and as all was frozen he couldn't get muddy but then it froze and driving and walking was such hard work. I did get some stitching done though and finished Fiona's quilt and a textile figure inspired by the weather. I have called her Frost and really enjoyed stitching her. I used tyvek layered with chiffon and machine stitched and beaded the fabric before using the heat gun and iron to shrink the tyvek and I used angelina fibres to make the sleeves. I hand stitched while watching old musicals like South Pacific and the King and I which I haven't watched for years. I also stitched an A4 size mini quilt which I haven't photographhed yet so will write about later. Actually writing this makes me realise that perhaps I haven't been quite as idle as I thought although I have spent too much time playing Wii games with the girls. Now I have lots of work to do to prepare for workshops in the coming months and need to get motivated again. I have so many ideas and things I want to make - just need to get stuck in.