Monday, 31 August 2009

Make Jewellery

I was Shop of the Month in the August edition of Make Jewellery! It's a really good magazine with lots of jewellery making projects, prize draws and features. September's issue should be in the shops today!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Patchwork and Quilting

I'm seriously into this sewing thing at the moment. It's addictive! So far I have made a selection of bags and am about to embark on a patchwork quilt for my Mum. She needs one to throw over the back of her sofa and she asked for one of mine. But they are looking rather faded with washing so I am starting from scratch.

I have several quilts in my house - my favourite is this one that hangs in the bedroom. It is inspired by Japanese kimonos when they are spread out and I bought up lots of kimono fabric from quiting shows. I designed the quilt myself and pieced it with indigo cotton fabric. I then hand-quilted it with sashiko thread. It took hours to make!

So, back to my Mum's quilt. Her favourite colours are blues and greens so I have pulled out an assortment of these from my stash. This is my design, it looks like a mosaic tile
and should be fairly simple to make into blocks (I hope)! Once I had laid out the chosen fabric I decided that blues and greens would look too dull so I have added an ivory-white triangle and a red triangle (I love that shade of red). Here's the first block - only 14 more to go....

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Sew and Sew

My Mum taught me to sew on an old Singer hand machine that was her Grandmother's (which makes it over 100 years old) and I still have the machine too! She taught me how to lay out a pattern so that it was economical with the fabric - much to annoyance of my needlecraft teacher, who made me unpin it all and follow the instructions. At school I spent a year making an apron but at home I made patchwork cushions, tea cosies and needle cases.

When my children were small I started making patchwork quilts in earnest and, tutored by my American neighbour Eileen, learned to piece on the sewng machine and hand quilt. We made a lot of quilts and we even had an exhibition of quilts old and new at the Dales Countryside Museum. It was so much fun - we travelled around North Yorkshire borrowing old quilts from local farms and houses to show alongside our "modern" quilts. There was one quilt that still had the backing papers inside, cut from old milk bills and a beautiful example of an applique chintz quilt. It was an exciting exhibition with Eileen, Jane and myself sitting there publicly quilting.
So I have the sewing bug again and have dusted off my old Frister Rossman electric sewing machine and dragged the basket of fabric pieces out of the attic cupboard. I'm making bags and have created prototypes for three designs - a tote/shopping bag, an evening bag and a messenger bag. I have so much scrap material that I had forgotten I had including chintz, brocade, cotton and silk. Enough to go into bag production!
Prototype evening bag showing chocolate silk lining.
Too unstructured, more like a bag for a bridesmaid.
Prototype Evening bags #2
They need a gusset to make them more 3 dimensional and a magnetic clasp. They have a small pocket inside.
Protoype Messenger bag.
The binding is too thick and bulky.
Prototype Messenger bag #2.
Has a wooden toggle and an inside pocket.
Prototype tote bag.
Fully lined. Needs an inside pocket.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Tea Time!

My Sister Gill's favourite drink is Redbush (roobois) tea. she drinks it with milk, I drink it without. So this picture's for you, Sis!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Keighley - Airedale Town

During March 2009 comedian Mark Steel visited Skipton for his radio 4 show - Mark Steel's in Town. It was hilarious - so funny that my partner had to stop whilst driving in case he crashed!
One of the butts of Mark Steel's jokes was Keighley, where I work, which made it even funnier. But then I got thinking - I spend a good deal of my working life out and about in Keighley. What makes it a better town than Skipton?

Skipton has a castle but we have Cliffe Castle, the Victorian home of Henry Butterfield. It has extensive grounds and is packed full of treasures, history and art. Parking is ample and, even better, it is FREE!

Like Skipton, we have a steam railway but you don't have to drive out of town to travel on it. The Worth Valley Railway journeys from Keighley train station to Oxenhope, stopping at Ingrow, Damems, Oakworth, Haworth and Oxenhope. The Railway Children was filmed on the railway.

Keighley has many fine examples of Victorian architecture as it was once a wealthy town built on the wool trade. Cavendish Street, with its shops and glass canopy, links the train station with the commercial centre... and that glass canopy certainly keeps us dry on wet days!

Keighley Library is another architectural gem. Recently restored and modernised, it still retains it's original features. It's worth visiting the lending library upstairs to look at the murals.

Both our town centre shops and our market are undercover. Very sensible when you think how unpredictable the Yorkshire weather can be. You can wait for a bus under cover and park undercover too. There's plenty of parking on Hanover Street and Scott street and it's cheaper than Skipton.

On sunny days it's so pleasant to eat outside in the Town Square, surrounded by trees. Or visit Church Green, at the end of North Street, another peaceful spot.

Keighley is a place of cultural diversity and there are plenty of places to worship - the most stunning is the Emily Street Mosque. Just got the minaret to finish...

... and if it's culture you are looking for then visit the Arts Factory, Keighley's only contemporary gallery. Admission is free.

More culture? A few yards from the Arts Factory is The Picture House on North Street. Parking is in Scott Street, across the road.

Keighley is vibrant with colour thanks to the Keighley In Bloom committee and its local sponsors. The roundabout at the end of Showfield looks fantastic at the moment (particularly if you like orange).

A short bus/train ride away from the town centre are: wonderful East Riddlesden Hall, a National Trust property with a very large duck pond and historical Haworth, home of the Brontes. For more about Keighley and why it is worth a visit go to

Sunday, 16 August 2009

August Garden

Around mid-August my garden seems to have a bit of a "swan song" when everything blooms and then dies off suddenly. Every year I promise myself that I'm going to plant something up for autumn interest and every year I forget! If you have any suggestions of plants that will extend the flowering season (but not too tender) then please comment below.

Alchemilla Mollis just before the heads turn brown. Next to it is an Apricot Sage - a bit of an impulse buy as it won't survive outside in the winter, but it smells fabulous.

My Mum and Dad bought me this deep red Geum last year from Parcevall Hall and it has really flourished.

Lilium Longiflorum in a pot to protect it from the b*ggers, the slugs! Pots are great for filling in bare spaces.

Bright orange Day Lily which is spreading quite rapidly. The colour zings against the green.

Crocosmia Lucifer. I always wanted one of these and the first one I ever planted came up orange (!) Obviously it was mislabelled. But placing red, pink and orange together looks like Guatemalan woven textiles.

I'm digging up my strawberry patch soon as I am replacing it all with lavender. The neighbour's hideous laurel has made the soil so poor and shady that I think only rosemary and lavender will
give the patch some colour. I quite fancy wild strawberries in a pot next year.

There are still some plants in my garden that are flowering - I have a very nice apricot coloured Dianthus and a purple Liatris and an assortment of wild poppies too. Unfortunately, I haven't had ANY success with my three iris as they never recovered from the chomping they got from the snails earlier in the year. But I'm considering replacing them with alliums and also getting a few varieties of Delphinium. Almost time to get the gardening books out....