My Etsy Shop

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Hopton Hall Snowdrops

On Wednesday morning, I took a bit of time off to enjoy the snowdrop walk at Hopton Hall, near Carsington Water in Derbyshire. A cock pheasant stood proudly on the wall above the entrance sign but unfortunately I wasn't able to get a picture. Every February, the gardens at Hopton are open to the public and there are stunning displays of snowdrops within the grounds. They bloom alongside aconites in large numbers amongst the trees. For me, the blossoming of snowdrops signifies the ending of winter rather than the beginning of spring. I know that frogspawn has already been appearing in some places in the south of England but here in Derbyshire it will be a few more weeks before it starts to feel like spring.
Snowdrops at Hopton Hall
There are several different varieties of snowdrop growing at Hopton. Some of them have double petals like the one pictured below but I think the prettiest and most elegant is the most common variety that you might see in any wood.
I have stated before on this blog that I really enjoy being in woodland and yesterday the sounds of blue tits, great tits and blackbirds came out of every tree, or so it seemed. There was also a treecreeper climbing a large trunk.
Fungus growing on a tree stump
As you follow the walk around the trees, you eventually come to a small pet cemetery. Here lie several animals kept by the Gell family in the early twentieth century. They include Boris, a Russian wolfhound "who met death beneath a motor car" in 1916.
Hopton Hall's pet cemetery
Before continuing the walk into the formal gardens, we popped into the tea room. I had a piece of homemade chocolate cake which was simply scrumptious. The tea room is in the hall's kitchen and pantry area. There are numerous hooks in the ceiling and along the beams where meat, game and poultry would be hung in times past. In my mind's eye I could see the kitchen staff busily preparing meals for the family and numerous guests.
After some refreshment, we off to the formal gardens. This is where you can see beautiful roses in the summer but there is still plenty of interest in February. The wall at the top of the garden is what is known as a "crinkle-crankle". This south-facing, curved wall is designed to maximise the light and heat needed to grow fruit trees.
There is also a large wildlife pond. A tawny owl hooted in the trees just behind it but didn't show itself. A solitary swan glided over the water and there was the odd coot and moorhen.
The duck house and pond
It's always fascinating to visit old houses and their gardens as there is so much history to these places. I definitely recommend Hopton Hall but there are only a few days left if you want to see the snowdrops this year. The walk will close on the 1st March (Sunday) but the gardens will be open again in June. You can find more information here. In the meantime, I will get back to my stitching. I am currently working on a flower but it couldn't look more different from a snowdrop. When it is ready you will see it on this blog.

All photos (c) Karen Eley 2015

Thursday, 19 February 2015

New Bullfinches Pattern and a Payhip Shop Sale

The days are getting longer and lighter, the snowdrops are opening and that means the birds are starting to think about nesting.
I've been fascinated by birds since I was a young child and I love all birds but most of all I love the birds of woodland habitat and those that come into my garden. My favourite bird of all is the bullfinch and I remember the first time I saw one in my garden. It perched briefly on top of the brick archway over the gate before flying away. On another occasion, during a snowy day one winter, a male landed on the fence and his pink breast looked like a rose that had suddenly blossomed in the white landscape.
Bullfinches are believed to pair for life as males and females are often seen together in winter. I have been lucky enough to see a pair in my garden a couple of times feeding on the berries of a Himalayan honeysuckle plant (also known as pheasant berry). This being so, you really shouldn't stitch one without the other, even if you choose to frame them separately.
This brand new pattern is one six that I have included in a 20% sale on my Payhip shop. The sale includes the following patterns:
To get 20% off these patterns simply enter the code SNOWDROP at the checkout.

Monday, 9 February 2015

New Patterns: Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice

How quickly January seemed to pass this year! It's now early February and the snowdrops are coming out all over the Amber Valley. The days are also growing noticeably longer. The cycle of the seasons and the changes in nature throughout the year are an endless source of inspiration to me and I look for these natural signposts whenever I am out and about.
This connection to nature was also very important to the ancient people who lived in these islands over a thousand years ago. In fact the sun has been observed and worshipped by cultures throughout the world for millennia. Different points in the sun's yearly cycle were marked with various festivals and the two most important times were the Summer and Winter Solstices.
For a long time I have been wanting to create designs which celebrate these two events. I came across illustrations of a highly decorated mirror that was found at Trelan Bahow in Cornwall. It dates back to the first century and is housed in the British Museum. The beautiful circles etched into the metal perfectly lend themselves to a design celebrating the sun.
Summer Solstice is worked in hot fiery shades of yellow and orange while Winter Solstice is worked in cool icy shades of pale blue.
They both fit perfectly into 8-inch hoops and would also look great on cushions. You can buy each design individually or together at a discount. They are available as instant downloads in my Etsy shop as well as my Payhip shop so be sure to take a look.
You can find more information about the Trelan Bahow mirror here.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Etsy Shop back to Instant Downloads

This is just a very quick post to let you know that the designs in my Etsy shop are once again available as instant downloads. This is because Etsy have now admitted that they are liable for EU VAT and have relieved us of the burden. Hurrah!
I'm currently stitching the second of two designs which will be launched later this month. They are inspired by two things: an ancient bronze shield and sun worship in ancient cultures. I'm very pleased with how they're turning out and I'm very excited about sharing them with you.
Time to get back to the needle and thread!