embroidering and finding lost treasures…….

inside case of pink sewing set


More “slow sewing” this week…. most of the sewing I do is done by hand (for no other reason than that it’s just the way I prefer to sew) every so often I lug out one of the sewing machines, but more often than not they are left alone and allowed to get dusty, and instead I get to spread out a selection of threads and needles, scraps of cottons and floral prints, out all over my work table, and get to make a proper old mess.

I’ve had some paper piecing that I’ve been trying to finish off, which has allowed me to listen to the rest of the Our Story series on radio Scotland….if you haven’t caught it yet then it’s still available and is a proper treat.  (it doesn’t matter where you live you should be able to hear it)


embroidery on table


Along with paper piecing I’ve also been embroidering over some of the patchwork, (these pictures are from some pin cushions and needle cases that I made back in December for craft fairs and my folksy shop)

I never begrudge the time spent hand sewing or embroidering, I’m happy to listen to the radio while I’m working, or I can be quiet and can let my mind wander and am free to think about new projects and different projects that still need work.

I think because I’m used to taking my time when I’m sewing or quilting,  I don’t really then expect my crochet to be particularly fast….if something takes a few months (or in the blanket’s case a couple of years) then so be…..though it’s a bit different if I’m selling what I’m sewing, but when it’s something for myself or my beloved one then the hours shouldn’t be counted……time spent, however long, is so precious, but it’s part of what hand making is about…it takes time.  The time spent making is time you are learning and improving your skill, or craft…. rarely are you good at something first time round.  Learning a new skill is a bit like an apprenticeship….hopefully each time you make something by hand you are learning new skills or are improving old ones.


stitch samples


This week, as well as embroidering with vintage silks and threads, I’ve also been embroidering using beautiful soft shades of vintage tapestry and crewel wool…… I had a bit of a play around trying out how different stitches work in the different weight wools.  I love how delicate stitches become when worked in crewel wool, especially variations on the fern and feather stitch.

I don’t like throwing things out, so all the little bits of wool that get left over from when I’m using tapestry wool in my crochet are bundled up and saved, then I use them up when I’m making stitch samplers, or am trying out a new stitch.  The short lengths of wool are soon used up and I get that nice feeling of nothing wasted.  (anything too tiny is chopped up and used for stuffing…perfect for fat little pin cushion but I also use them to make cushion inserts, when I’m making batches of hot water bottles and tea cosies there are lots of small wool fabric scraps which get saved for stuffing.)

While I was finding the bag where I’d ferreted away the tiny bundles of scrap wool, I came across some tins in the cupboard that I’d tidied away and found up a few pieces I’d sewn some while ago…..


embroidered bunny


One of the earliest things I used to make to sell were catnip filled bunnies, the bunnies had little embroidered faces and appliqued felt hearts on their tummies, then I’d blanket stitch by hand all the way round them, and stuff them really full with a mixture of fabric scrap stuffing and catnip from the garden.  They were always a good seller however each bunny took at least 2 hours from start to finish and you know, at the end of the day, they were toys for cats so you can never charge that much so finally I stopped making them…… (though it was nice when people sent me pictures of their cats going doo lally with them, and I even got sent a couple of short videos of normally well behaved kitties going totally crazy)…….

I also made some lavender bunny ones with embroidered lavender on the bunnies tummies (these were filled with lavender) and then I made some rose and cardamom pod ones (this is just the nicest smell, gently crush some red rose petals and a sprinkle of cardamom pods together….it’s just eye closingly lovely) and embroidered little floral motifs on them. This is one from about 4 years ago and it still smells nice.


embroidery stitches


I really liked the simple floral motif (it’s made up of lazy daisy stitches and a back stitch for the stem, with a french knot in the centre of the flower) and thought to reproduce it on some new pieces for the shop……it’s half based on the wild forget me nots that grow in abundance around the edges of the raised beds in our garden (at times there seem to be more wild flowers than vegetables which keep the bees happy…..am resolving to be more green fingered this year and to do my fair share of the weeding)


embroidery samples

…..and while I was pottering about in cupboards and opening tins to see what was inside, I found up this embroidery I made of some cowslips that were growing in the garden…. (I got so sun burnt when I did this, the older I get the quicker I burn)….. I can’t believe I’d forgotten about it, anyway, it’s something I hope to work on a bit more. Seeing the bright yellow was like a find of lost treasure, half hidden and buried away.

I’ve been asked by my friend Ruth about teaching some workshops this year, she has a little shop in Holt called Glory Days, and last November I had a stall at the craft fair she organised there, anyway, in March she is moving to a new shop (just round the corner in Hoppers Yard) and there will be teaching space upstairs so now I need to have a really good think about what I can teach and what people would want to know how to make….so any suggestions would be much appreciated.




10 thoughts on “embroidering and finding lost treasures…….

  1. Beautiful embroidery. I particularly like doing stitches on wool material (with wool). Love the rabbit – just superb.

    1. Thank you, yes embroidering wool on wool fabric is lovely and comforting, the only problem I have is that my embroidery hoop always seems to be on the verge of popping off, I’ve been trying to source a deep one like a quilting hoop but only say 6 to 8 inches across. No joy on that front yet though. Bernard also has a bunny, he has a lavender one as to be contrary he’s not too fussed with catnip!

      1. I haven’t found a hoop that seems to work with wool fabrics… By the way, we watched the Green Knowe film you recommended on the weekend – loved it.

      2. Oh I’m so pleased you liked the film, that patchwork Maggie Smith was sewing in the film, I’ve actually touched it!! (I got very excited when it appeared on screen, deep sigh and lots of head shaking from the beloved) it made me cry a lot at the end but I still really liked it. The little boy was in Cranford (one of my favourite costume dramas…it still makes me laugh when I think about the lace collar and the cat…..if you haven’t seen it then do because it’s brilliant, no Dame Maggie but Dame Judy instead, and Michael Gambon who is just so wonderful and sweet in it)
        I’ve got a couple of older hoops that open up a slightly bit more and really wedge the top down over the wool blanket,and as long as I keep an eye on it it’s not too bad…..if I ever find my dream hoop I’ll be sure to mention it (when ever I’ve asked in shops I get given such a look like I’m asking for something quite ridiculous)

      3. I did wonder about the quilt that Maggie was working on … my first thought was was she actually making it. Will book out Cranford at library here in Tassie if it has it. Re the dream hoop would love to hear if you find one. Re Bernard and the rabbit, our two …. Jas & Lily don’t think much of catnip, in fact none of our cats have liked it. So much for cats loving catnip!

      4. Diana Boston (who lives at Green Knowe) said no, Dame Maggie was just “sew acting”. Hope you like Cranford, it’s so great. Bernard likes fresh catnip and has done himself proper mischiefs in trying to get to it when we’ve fenced it off…..not all catnip plants have the chemical in them that makes cats doo lally, however it’s surprising the amount of cats that don’t like pet shop catnip but like it when it is grown at home. At my old house I had 3 cat nip plants on my patio in big pots, and there would regularly be neighbour hood cats all laying around looking completely zonked out.

  2. Your embroideries are beautiful. I especially love the rabbit. And I enjoyed hearing about the Shetland knitters – and the whalers and the draper’s van…thank you very much for the link. I hope you have a lovely week with all your wools 🙂

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