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Thirsk Yarnbombing

I have had an inspiring experience this week when I visited the town of Thirsk to see the work of their yarn bombers. I had seen them on youtube  and knew I just needed to pay a visit if I possibly could. The ladies in the tourist information office were very helpful in advising me how to get to the 2 churches which had been decorated with thousands of knitted poppies. Walking toward the church I spotted this shop which seems to be housing some of the previous yarn bombings.

There were poppies everywhere.

The way that the church had been decorated was stunningly dramatic.

This was all very impressive and there was more to come. A short walk back into town and out again to Sowerby showed that many business and individuals had got involved with this amazing project.

So then I reached another church beautifully decorated with so many knitted and crocheted poppies.

The number of poppies that have been created is so impressive and the impact of the way they have been displayed was glorious, especially in the November sunshine. When you got up close the poppies were glistening with water droplets and you could see so much individuality had been put into the work with different stitches, types of yarns and poppies of all sizes.


All coming together to create such a marvellous display. There were lots of people walking about admiring this work, I got chatting to a couple of ladies and we wondered what is going to happen to it all when the remembrance period ends and the display is removed? We hoped it was going to be re-used!! They say it will be on display for a couple of weeks so you may have time to see this fabulous work if you’re quick!!

Finally here are a few more displays that I spotted on my way back to the car.




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Fantastic Fairy Lights

This week I have been back to the lovely little farm shop and campsite at Colton near York, which was where I attended the Indigo workshop recently. This time the workshop took place over a couple of evenings and was run by designer maker Joanna Coupland who showed us how to make some pretty fairy light decorations. The first evening was about constructing some wire shapes and covering them with tissue paper using wallpaper paste. Joanna brought some of her beautiful creations along to show us, click on the link above to see her website.

The second evening was all about decorating our lights. We used acrylic inks and paints and then went wild with glitter and embellishments. As you can see from the pictures below we all let our imaginations run away with us. The finished items were attached to a string of standard fairy lights which definitely did not look ‘standard’ when we’d finished with them!!!

Both of these evenings were massively good fun with a great teacher and once again a very friendly group of ladies. These are some of our finished items.

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Finding Treasures

This week I have been trying to get on with a job which I keep putting off but really is necessary. I very much need to sort out our loft so that we can finally get on with a much needed extension but the job can be a bit daunting. I’ve already cleared out alot of things that were no longer needed so the next job is trying to get what’s left a little better organised.

Basically I am left with a pile of Christmas decorations, a pile of ski equipment, a pile of knitting and sewing supplies and a pile containing various other items I cannot part with. I decided to go through all my stitchery goodies first. This has uncovered all kinds of forgotten treasures, the most interesting of which were…

This kit to make a necklace with all kinds of different beads.


Maybe one day I’ll sit down and make it but I don’t even remember buying it so it was a total surprise find!!

Then I came across my shoes from my long ago wedding day, along with the silk flowers from my bouquet and some fabric from my wedding dress.

With my new found love of machine embroidery, these were not only treasure but totally full of inspiration and potential projects for certain will be coming from this direction.

Two unfinished projects very much caught my attention.

So there we go I now have at least 4 more projects, some forgotten and others new, whizzing round in my head with all the others.


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Photography Lessons

For a while I’ve been wishing I could get more use out of our camera, instead of just relying on my mobile to take photographs. A few weeks ago I asked the very lovely Andrea of Andrea Thornton Photography to help me out with a bit of tuition. There are 2 main reasons that I felt it was important to do this. Firstly so that I can take better photographs of my work and secondly so that I can take better photos for use as inspiration for my work.

After spending a little time with Andrea I feel more confident and have made a start on creating some better quality images.

Cable knit cushion in West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob Aran yarn with gorgeous chunky buttons.

I have lots of knitted cushions to play about with!!

This is a scarf I design recently using Sublime Alpaca DK


Looking for inspiration I went into the garden on a sunny September day.

And there was more than enough on a sunny day in Barcelona last week!!!

Now that I’m back from Barcelona it’s time to photograph the rest of my cushions and hopefully do some work on the website so that some of my knitting kits should be available to buy online very soon 🙂

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Free Motion Embroidery Class

Having really loved the last class I attended at York School of Sewing where I learnt the basics of patchwork and quilting, I decided it would surely be a good idea to try out the Free Motion Embroidery day that was on offer last Friday.

Free motion embroidery is basically making pictures using your sewing machine, and you can create your own works of art. My Pinterest is filling up with ideas and inspiration for this craft.

All I can say about the day is I loved it!

Heather was a brilliant tutor and we all got to try out the techniques needed to get started. We tried out different methods, to see what suited us best and generally had a play around.



This is one of my practice pieces.


We were all to make a cushion using shapes cut from different coloured fabrics provided, from which we could make up our own flower shapes. We started by all stitching the same big flower using some lovely variegated embroidery thread and then built our own designs up from there.


Here are some works in progress!


I am thrilled to have learned how to do this and am already planning all the projects that I’m going to tackle. Ideas are flying around in my head like mad.I’ve already started sketching out some ideas but first of all I need to buy the correct foot for my sewing machine and gather all my fabrics together,  then there’ll be no stopping me!!

Here are the finished projects. Although we were all provided with the same resources, they are far from identical.

Don’t they all look so lovely?






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Loving Indigo

I have to say I had a great day out on Monday at Tricia Hutchinson’s Indigo workshop, a description of which you can read on her blog. The workshop was fantastic fun, the group of ladies were all really friendly, the setting was gorgeous and Tricia was extremely knowledgeable.

We’d had some information beforehand about how to prepare the fabrics if we wanted to do some of the traditional Shibori stitching techniques as these are a bit time consuming. We all brought along our own pieces of cloth to die and, after some explanation from Tricia were able to play about with folding the cloth, attaching pegs or wrapping with string or thread and tying in marbles, corks, screws, pebbles and anything else we could find!!!

Then it was time to be dipping the cloth into the big vat of indigo dye and leaving it draped along the fences of the farm we were at before dipping again if we wanted to make a darker colour.  All the time Tricia was on hand to help and advise.

I think the effects produced are fantastic.

I had pre-stitched this piece using a technique called ‘Mokume’ in Japanese, which is supposed to give a woodgrain effect. I didn’t undo the stitching until the following day when it had had chance to dry a little – forgot to take a ‘before’ photograph but you get the idea!


The piece of cloth I used for this was from a once white, square table cloth in quite a heavy-weight cotton, which I think was given to me by my mother-in-law (and possibly given to her by hers!). The last time I used it was on a stand I had at a wool show and it got a bit grubby and passed it’s best. I washed it, cut it into 4 and now it looks like this…


I’ve always been a bit of an up-cycler so am thrilled that my table cloth now has the potential to be something new and useful. Think I’ll play about with a bit of embroidery on these pieces first though!!

I also have a few pieces of calico which I dyed so plenty to keep me busy for several months to come. Happy Days 🙂

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Patchwork Play

One thing I’ve been dying to try for ages (since I was about 10 years old actually!!) is patchwork and quilting. When I saw that York School of Sewing were running a beginners class I couldn’t wait to sign up. A whole 2 days of sewing and learning new techniques. In this class you learn the basics of both patchwork and quilting and make your work into a lovely squishy cushion.

We were asked to provide our own fat quarters, and I had a piece of fabric which I’d bought 6 years ago with the intention of making a blind for my son for his bedroom. He was then and is now a very keen golfer and this fabric is bright green with black ‘golfing’ figures on it and I thought it would look great in his room. However, the blind never got made, and the son is grown up now! The plan is that he will be moving out of his current bedroom in 2017 (just as soon as we get our loft converted and a new bedroom for us!!) so he won’t be needing that blind after-all. I decided I would use the fabric to make a cushion for him to celebrate his move when it finally happens.

York School of Sewing has a fantastic range of fabrics to choose from so I was able to choose some co-ordinating fabrics suitable for a young mans bedroom. We started off by experimenting with combining our fabrics to decide what balance we liked best, and then got down to cutting out all the pieces we needed for our patchwork.

We were a small group of only 5 ladies so it was sociable enough but it also meant that lovely Nadine was able to give us all plenty of attention too.

Once we had cut out the front of the cushion we started stitching it all together. It was good to have Nadine to tell us what was the right technique and equipment (such as the proper foot on the sewing machine) to use, and I think that is why my patch-working turned out to be far more accurate than it would have been had I tried to learn at home by myself.

We were going to be using the quilt as you go technique to make the back, and the layout was slightly different to the front with lots of very small squares to cut out for the centre.

On day 2 we learnt the quilt as you go technique for the back of the cushion, and then we were shown how to put the wadding and backing together with the front panel. We practiced different quilting techniques, before finishing off the panel for the front of the cushion. Once again having expert advice and the correct equipment were invaluable.



I loved being able to try free-motion quilting and was extremely proud of myself  for putting my sons’ name on his cushion!!

I was very pleased too when I showed it to him and heard the words

“cool…thank you”

He certainly looks happy with it 🙂

Nadine said it would be ok if I shared some of her photos from the workshop to show the variety of designs produced.

Take a look at the website to see the range of classes on offer at York School of Sewing. They also have regular days when you can go along and buy from the vast range of fabrics and accessories available.

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My New Dress

In my last blog I showed you a dress I had recently made for myself as part of my quest to explore and learn more about textiles. This was a big achievement for me, not having done any dressmaking for many years and I had been a little worried that it wouldn’t turn out very well! It was also the end (or maybe the beginning of the end!) of a long journey for the piece of fabric that I used as it had certainly been around for quite a while waiting for something to happen to it. It had been with me for a good 13 years and, having moved house with us 10 years ago, spent quite some time languishing in our loft. Before I acquired it, it was in the possession of my lovely friend Becky, who passed it on to me because she was emigrating to Australia. Here are the 2 of us when she came to visit me in Tadcaster a few years ago…


She has kindly written a little description of how it came to be with her.

I believe it was given to my mum in the 1980’s by an Australian girl who was travelling & stayed with Mum. She had been to Saudi Arabia working as a nurse & had bought the material in a bizarre. She left it for Mum as a gift, she passed it on to me, I passed it to you & more than 25 yrs later it has been transformed into a summer dress. I guess it may have been used for some kind of sari in the Middle East.’



A couple of years ago I decided it was time to give it a new lease of life and I dug it out of my loft, made a trip to The Remnant House in Harrogate (where I used to spend many lunchtimes routing through the bargain bins in my former working life) to buy a pattern and some contrasting fabric, but then never got any further with it.


This poor little piece of fabric had waited around so long, and was special to me because of the link to my friend, so I wanted to make at least a half decent job of it! I took very few photos of the work as it progressed, mainly because I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing!!

I’m pleased with the result. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely wearable and I’ve successfully done elements I’d never tried before such as binding the armholes and inserting darts. As I am supposed to be learning, developing and acquiring new skills, I also now know  that I really need some lessons in fitting zips!!

Next I’m going to be talking about my first experience of patchwork & quilting  – something I’ve never done before and have really wanted to try since I was about 10 years old!! Also look out soon for some of this which I’m going to try next week and am very excited about….

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A Clutch of Completed Creations

I’ve had a little flurry of finished projects over the last couple of weeks.

First, and most importantly, I completed my latest design. The yarn I’ve used is the most gorgeous yarn, Sublime Alpaca DK. I loved working with this gorgeously soft yarn and the colour choices were influenced by my inspiration, but it also comes in a wider range of delicious colours.
It still needs to be assessed by my City and Guilds tutor before I can publish the pattern.

The design was inspired by the little shell which I found on a walk form Warkworth towards Amble in Northumberland earlier this year, it is shown here with some of the yarn!

Now I was on a bit of a roll I dug out a vest/tank top which I had knitted but not sewn up and spent an evening sewing seams and stitching in all the ends, then it need a jolly good steam and, voila…another project sewn up!! (literally…sorry)

The yarn I used was Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply and I knitted if from a magazine we had hanging around in the shop. I really like playing with this yarn which has very nice stitch definition and is 100% merino so feels really special.

I think it was the last couple of days that the shop was open and I’d got to the point where there wasn’t really anything much to do…no shelves to fill, no cleaning to do, no newsletters to write, no orders to send. Surrounded by unsold wool I picked up this unsold magazine from spring/summer 2012. Flicking through it I spotted a pattern I liked and looked at the Rialto 4ply on the shelves behind me, then I played a game of stacking up the different coloured balls of wool to see which colour combination I liked the best! This is a game I can play all day long and not make a final decision but I forced myself to choose a colour scheme, found the right sized needles and spent the rest of the day knitting!!!

At the moment I am on a mission to learn and explore the world of textiles, and my latest challenge to myself has been to sew a dress, which I finished off at the weekend. I want to write more about this project later but, as my first dress making project in over 20 years I have mildly impressed myself!!!

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Salts Mill

I am being kept occupied this summer driving my golf-mad son around to different courses where he has matches and competitions. This is how I found myself in Saltaire at 9am on a Monday in August!

I could have headed home but I haven’t visited Salts Mill for a few years and it’s always worth popping in to have a browse around the shops and look at the paintings and artworks by David Hockney and others. The mill doesn’t open until 10am so I found myself a lovely coffee shop and spent some time wandering around. It was a lovely morning and very quiet.

The Mill opened in 1853, built by Sir Titus Salt alongside the adjoining model village which was to house his workers. Production of cloth at Salts has not taken place since  1986 but, the following year, the mill was purchased by the late Jonathan Silver, who re-imagined it as a place where culture and commerce could thrive together.

In 2001, Saltaire became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO noted: “Saltaire is an outstanding and well preserved example of a mid 19th century industrial town… The layout and architecture of Saltaire admirably reflect mid 19th century philanthropic paternalism, as well as the important role played by the textile industry in economic and social development.”

If you are visiting for the first time, don’t use the side entrance as I did, make sure you go in through the new (since my last visit) main door where you will find information on what there is to see and where to find it as I did not find the signage around the place very clear. After I pleasant wander round the various shops I watched a film about the history of the building which I found very interesting even though I have been on 2 excellent guided tours of the village in the past (school trips with my boys when at Primary school).

Finally, I visited the 3rd floor. First of all I spotted some wool in the gallery called People and Process: a History of Salts. People and Process tells the story of the Mill through objects great and small: machinery, clothing, art – even a precious plate from the lavish opening banquet of 1853, to which Sir Titus Salt invited 2,440 workers and 1,310 guests.

There was also an exhibition called ‘The Arrival of Spring’ by David Hockney. This set of 49 original works were drawn by David on his iPad in 2011, and printed at an incredible scale. This was so inspiring,  I really like the idea of a study like this which gives the opportunity to really look and be amazed at the little things you might have otherwise missed. Well worth a visit!