My Etsy Shop

Friday, 24 April 2015

Spring Cleaning

This beautiful weather that we've been enjoying of late has inspired me to have a bit of a spring clean in my shop. I've decide that some of the designs need a makeover and so I'll be making a few changes to the listings in the coming months.
Dale Abbey Alphabet Tile is now available in a fresh modern palette that gives an interesting contrast to the ancient style of the Lombardic lettering.

I'm also going to introduce a smaller version of my Durrow Knots pattern with a different colour scheme. Of course you can stitch any of these designs in other colours if you wish by using my original pattern as a guide.

My current WIP is inspired by Alice In Wonderland via Jefferson Airplane. Here's a sneak peak at the Bargello-inspired background. I'll show you the whole thing when it's ready.

I do love to stitch by the window at this time of year. At the moment there is a pair of blackbirds collecting food for their growing chicks, which are at least 8 days old as I write. The nest is in a neighbour's garden. A cheeky jackdaw has been eyeing up the fat pudding on our bird table and a buzzard has just soared overhead.

Spring has really gone to my head this year and I love April even more than I did at the start of the month. It's so easy to be distracted by the wonders of nature but I really must get back to the stitching!

Just one more note to leave you with - I am now on Instagram and you can find me here.

Happy stitching!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Joys of April

"Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there..."
April is my favourite month of the year and I love walking in the countryside to see how green everything is becoming. The birds are really busy at the moment building nests and the summer migrants are starting to return. I saw my first swallow on Friday as I was walking down Ogston New Road, alongside the reservoir. On the opposite side of the road to the reservoir, there is a colony of herons and for the first time I got the chance to see some of the chicks in their nests. This was a real thrill and the colony seems to be thriving. Chiffchaffs were singing from all directions. If you look on Google Earth, you can see this road in its summer glory.
Having come home in a really good mood, I was greeted by the sight of a large parcel waiting for me. If like me you used to buy New Stitches magazine, produced by Mary Hickmott's company, you will know that late last year the publication came to a sudden and premature end due to unforeseen circumstances. Subscribers were given two options: either have the subscription transferred to a different magazine or have a 'lucky dip' of fabric and threads. I chose the lucky dip and so when I saw the parcel, I knew it must be full of stitching goodies!
I wasn't expecting to receive as much as I did and so I was really excited to discover what was in the parcel. There were five pieces of various fabrics, six skeins of DMC stranded cotton, a kit of a classic Mary Hickmott floral design, a booklet about Lagartera embroidery, a John James pebble containing an assortment of needles and a reel of gold thread (which I forgot to include in the picture).
This was such a treat and I have already sent a thank you message to Mary and her team. You may be interested to know that Mary now has her own blog which you can find here. I am so glad that she will still be sharing her knowledge and beautiful designs with us. I have learned so much from her over the years, particularly from her Masterclass articles, and I can honestly say she has been a huge inspiration to me.
As if all of that excitement wasn't enough, a male reed bunting landed on one of our feeders and had quite a good feed. Reed buntings look very handsome in their spring plumage and it was such a delight to see one through the kitchen window.
I can assure you that in spite all of this, I am still working! Two of my current designs are having a spring makeover. The new version of Dale Abbey Alphabet Tile will be available very soon and the second pattern will be available in time for summer. This is on top of several new patterns which I have already scheduled for this year so keep checking my shops for updates.
Reed bunting photo (c)Roy Eley 2015

Friday, 3 April 2015

Spring is here - and so are the bumblebees!

As I write this, it is Good Friday. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day but today is quite cold and damp but at least we seem to have left the strong winds and heavy rain showers behind - so much for March going out like a lamb! Nevertheless, it is officially spring and we are now on British Summertime - more hours of daylight for us stitchers!
As you know, I love nature and the natural world is one of the biggest influences in my designs and spring is my favourite time of the year. It's so exciting to see the countryside and the garden coming back to life. There's frog spawn in the pond, the birds are all pairing up and preparing their nests and the first bumblebees are out and about. You know that spring is truly here when the bees venture out of their winter burrows and begin their search for pollen.
This sampler depicts three queens of the most common species of bumblebees found in the UK. I am lucky that my garden is full of life throughout the seasons and there are numerous types of bees buzzing here and there in the summer. You can recognise queen bumblebees because they are quite a big bigger than the workers.
On the top left we have the white-tailed bumblebee. Along with white-tailed bumblebees, these are the first to emerge from their winter slumbers.
On the top right is the red-tailed bumblebee. The workers have the same markings but are much smaller. This is my personal favourite bumblebee and it's always a delight to find them in the garden.
At the bottom is the tree bumblebee. This is a continental species that was first recorded in Britain in 2001. Since then it has made a steady progression northwards. Twice they have nested in my garden, once in a wall cavity and once in an old bird box. Unusually for bumblebees they can become aggressive if you get too close to the nest so it's best to be cautious when observing them but they are fascinating to watch. They particularly liked our plume thistles.
When worked on 16/32 count fabric, the design fits perfectly into a 5-inch hoop. You could also stitch and frame them separately in three 3-inch hoops. They are also perfect for other small projects such as greetings cards, coasters, pin cushions and much more.
If you would like to buy the pattern, you can either click on the Etsy mini listing at the top of the page or click here to go to my Payhip shop. Happy Easter and happy stitching!