full flight

I was never so glad to be at the end of a piece of embroidery than yesterday after watching a fascinating BBC programme about owls. If I’d been at the start of this owly mousey piece I might have stopped stitching before it got very far because I now realise that my stitchy version of what is an owl falls far short of the real thing. In my defence, how could it be otherwise? Anyway, every time I look at my owl I think I could have done it better or differently or, or, or, so I’m calling it quits now before I lose my sanity completely.

I added some wax crayon colour to suggest a hint of blue sky and to help ‘ground’ the wheat field. I should have done this before any stitching but I didn’t think it needed any until recently. I think that worked, unlike my borders which have gone off the straight and not so narrow but I really can’t be bothered to unpick anything else. I said in my last post that I wouldn’t unpick the wings but I did. After two attempts at adding the grey stripes on the upper wing I realised that the feathers were going in the wrong direction so out they came.

This embroidery is undoubtedly grubby, no matter what my eyes think so I’m inclined to wash it before having it framed. I’ve never washed any of my embroideries so that will be a challenge. Thank you Mary Corbet for a very detailed ‘how-to’. Lots of deep breaths and a skipped heartbeat or two ahead I think.


August 6

owl wings

The stitch suggestion in Lala Ward’s book for the main feathers of the wings just didn’t do it for me. After various alternative stitch tests, I finally settled on simple buttonhole stitch and a different colour combo. However, when the buttonhole stitching was done I felt that the front edges of the wings were now too heavy so they were next to be ripped out and restitched with just two strands of DMC instead of the original three. I’m happy now and I’ve told myself that no part of the wings will be ripped back again! The only part of this owl that hasn’t been ripped out and re-done is the padding under the body so it’s perhaps no wonder that I’ve lost count of the number of hours it’s taken to get this far. I’m not chuffed with the shaping of the tail feathers so I’m sure I’ll be ripping those out this afternoon – again!  After that there are markings to add to the wings and then the multiple borders to stitch and I really think the whiskers on the mouse will also need re-doing …

August 5

behold, a tissue folder is born

I have made and gifted many tissue holders which are the correct size for ‘travel’ tissue packs which I never use myself, preferring ‘mansize’ tissues which have a greater number of uses. Unfortunately, these larger tissues do not fit a standard tissue holder and I can never fold them in such a way that they properly fit this favourite little tissue holder.

When I was cramming yet another supply of tissues into the holder it struck me that instead of constantly bemoaning the fact that the tissues don’t fit, I could custom-make a holder that they would fit and after one or two false starts whilst watching a re-run of The China Syndrome, the tissue folder was born. I’ve never seen a tissue folder before so have I actually invented something? Do I now need to visit my nearest patent office and/or speak to legal eagles about copyright etc? Ha! If so, I should probably have done it before posting about my invention here!

The closure is a magnetic necklace clasp which is strong enough to remain closed but easy to pull apart when a tissue is needed. The tissues need only be folded once from top to bottom and then from side to side before slipping the ends into the pockets which are attached only along one long side and at the opposite corners with decorative machine stitches.

new tissue folder

another phone cover or three

Two weeks ago I went shopping for a new phone. When the shop assistant opened my soon-to-be-replaced phone she told me that the battery had swollen and might have exploded in my face at any time without warning. I wonder if that explains why attempting to use the camera over the previous month had resulted in no photo and the phone switching itself off? As the replacement phone is slightly bigger than the old one the original cover didn’t fit. This is new cover version number three, because I wasn’t satisfied with versions one or two. This version holds the phone quite securely even if turned upside down because of the snap-lock style of closure. (The Gourmet Quilter has an excellent video on the how-to if you’re interested.)

I had to include a pocket for the stylus I bought for the drawing app as well as one for little shopping lists or business cards I’ve collected when out for the day. The card you can see in the photo is for Tisanes, my son’s tea and coffee business in the Cotswold village of Broadway. If I’d had a card for it, I’d also have shown one for Leaf and Bean, a coffee lounge owned by my other son and his partner in the same village. OK, shameless family plug over.

new phone cover

the owl

Hmmm. Yesterday I quite liked the detached buttonhole work on the owl’s body but today I didn’t like it at all even though it had taken several hours of stitching, so it just had to be ripped out, ready to stitch again more neatly. Just as well there’s no deadline for this!

August 4

slowly, slowly

The August embroidery is taking aaaaaages but as I only sew it in the evenings until the light fades it’s not surprising. Padding has been added and the first facial stitches begun. More wheat was added earlier in the week and the little mouse was finished too but I might re-jig his back foot a little.August

wheatfield and wild flowers

Hadn’t realised that it’s been nine days since my last post here but I’m busy with several stitchy things this week as well as getting to grips with a new mobile phone plus making a new cover for it, downloading some drawing apps, Instagram, Dropbox, and realising how far my techno skills have slipped over the last four or five years. I don’t believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I just think it takes longer. A lot longer.

The least interesting thing I’m busy with this week is taking up trouser hems so I’ll say no more on that subject.

On my embroidery hoop is a slight variation of ‘August’ from Lala Ward’s 1989 Countryside Embroidery Book. I made several attempts at stitching the wheat like Lala’s version of small satin stitches over ‘bump’, which according to the book is the technical name for the soft cotton thread used for padding. I didn’t much like the look of the finished wheat in the book and even after trying the suggested method on a few stalks of wheat I liked it even less so gave up on the ‘bump’ altogether and interpreted the wheat my own way. What with all the stitch trials and drawing my own mouse to suit the reduction in the wheat size, it’s taken more than ten hours to get this far, so goodness knows when it’ll get finished.



The last thing I’ve been playing around with is a mixed media piece – a calico ground fabric with scraps of fabric, ribbons, braid, string, crochet cotton, and threads added by hand and machine stitching. The thicker threads and yarn were also used as bobbin threads and machined with the reverse side of the fabric uppermost. Diluted acrylic gesso was scraped all over the surface and when dry, acrylic paints were applied to suggest plant life and sky. I think there’s room to add a few more plants etc but I’ll let it swill around in my brain for another day or two.

wild flowers



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