Monday 20 December 2010


Britain is still gripped in this icy blast and unusually for us here in Taunton we have a lot of snow. We have lived here 21 years and this is the most we have seen. Everything grinds to a halt. Planes are grounded, food and supplies cannot get through and we are not done yet. It is so cold too with temperatures not getting above freezing. Outside there is at least 8-10 inches of snow and many roads are impassable. Lucky that Santa doesn't need to rely on the roads to get through. Olly's parents are due back at Heathrow today from Australia!!!!!

You would be forgiven for thinking this was a very poor attempt at icing the Christmas cake but no... underneath all that snow is my car. Going nowhere. Shanks's Pony is the transport of the day.

The frosty smoke tree from last week is covered in snow and my neighbours bird house looks very festive peeping out of the hedge.

Just to show that I have been doing something sewing wise I thought I would give you a glimpse of a cross stitch sampler that I am stitching. I used to be very passionate about cross stitching but when I discovered patchwork it took a back seat. This one has me wanting to stitch again though. It is from the Historical Sampler Company.

All hexagons prepared and ready for off. I am toying with the background colour and have tried a few colourways. I think I know what it will be. I also now know what I am doing with the diamonds and the total now stands at 48.

What will we do now that Strictly Come Dancing has finished and the Fantastic Kara and of course her dance partner Artem are no longer on our screen? It has been sheer pleasure to watch this series of Strictly and common sense prevailed and the right couple won. Apart from the dancing it has been touching to see this young couple fall in love over the weeks and I have to say I shed a tear or two. My daughter when she reads this will say " Oh Mother". I can't help being sentimental. It is who I am am.

Wherever you are, stay safe and warm.

Love Shirley.

Thursday 9 December 2010


I am both sorry and glad to report that I am still gripped with making hexagons. I have titled it Hexamania because that is somehow what it feels like. Why is it that at 7.30pm you feel so tired that you feel as though you want to nod off in the chair and at bedtime the light bulb has switched on and you are wide awake? There is nothing for it but to carry on making these darn things. I now have plans though.

This is what a whole jelly roll of hexagons looks like. I am beginning to wonder if I am a little OCD ish. I am naturally a messy person but like order in my sewing. As you can see I have made a good start on the centres. The rosettes are going to be pieced randomly and as of yet I haven't decided on the background. The jelly roll makes 120 flowers and I think I may need 121 so will have to add a few extras.

I have been playing with settings and found this web site that offers free downloads for graph paper -

It prints a page full of tiny hexagons - 5 to the inch and is a great way to play with designing. I love to colour in with watercolour pencils. I have given you a tiny glimpse of what is going to be a big project for hexagons and one which will be for Christmas in the future. I am busy gathering reds. I cannot decide which setting to use for the present project but I am leaning more to the design in the bottom left corner. Maybe finding the background fabric will be the decider.

Hexagon Diamonds - total 42.

A few weeks ago I found this beautiful bedding whilst out shopping with Sarah. I couldn't get it out of my head so went and ordered it online. It is destined for the spare room and a new colour scheme of this pinky red. Very French looking. It is a project slightly on hold until the girls decide what they are doing with their funiture etc. but is something to plan for after Christmas.

The Big Freeze continues although it is mildly warmer - freezing instead of below freezing. This is the smoke tree in my garden. On the way to sewing Tuesday afternoon the landscape had been transformed into a winter wonderland and guess who had left her camera at home? In some areas of the Country the pavemants are so icy that you are unable to stand up on them. My Brother In Law had to drive the kids down to the school bus stop 300 yards away. Shame!!! Nice try kids.

Will try and post something other than hexagons next time just incase you are a little fed up of them.

Happy Stitching

Love Shirley.x

Thursday 2 December 2010

The White Stuff

Parts of the UK are knee deep in snow but here in Taunton this was what it threw at us overnight. Just a scattering. Looks like someone has sprinkled icing sugar but boy is it cold out there. More is forecast and set to stay cold and we have only just begun winter. Looks like it could be a long one.

I am still busy with those hexagons. The diamond/lozenge stack has now grown to 42 and I love making them. I came up with a very interesting setting for these diamonds but I am keeping it to myself for a while as I have another idea to make the most of it. I could be prepping hexagons for eternity.

Almost at the end of prepping the hexagons cut from a jelly roll. I make that 720 hexagons. I have decided to make each rosette/flower using different fabrics. With the addition of the pretty green fabric purchased at Dotty Dolly's the other day I think it works a treat. They remind me of those little daisylike flowers that grow in abundance in the walls of the Cornish countryside. I am sure someone will tell me what they are called.

This little bird sleeping on my chair flew in from my friend Kate and was made by her daughter Charlie who has a shop on Etsy called Pipkyn. Isn't it lovely? It looks so at home. Thank you Kate, I love it.

Yesterday we had our Wednedsay meeting at the garden centre and had a christmas lunch and exchanged our gifts to each other. Fortified by a glass of wine and lots of food we didn't want to move from our seats. As you can see there are some lovely gifts there and I love them all. I love my friends too, they are a great group of ladies and such good fun.

The little blue suede purse came from Kate and she called it a hexagon purse. Inside it was a travel kit of paper hexagons, fabric, thread, needles and a pair of scissors. What a great idea. All ready to go. Just need somewhere to go!!(preferably somewhere that is warm and not full of snow).

Kate has her website up and running now for her new business venture
Should you wish to come and have a sewing holiday then Kate will make you very welcome and you will have a great time. I might even come and say hello too.

I hope that wherever you are reading this you are keeping warm/cool/dry. Our silly celebrities are doing revolting things deep in the Australian Rainforest and the hosts of the show Ant and Dec came out with this wise crack - Australia have had so much rain recently that they were renaming the country - Britain!!! I can't begin to think why they need to put themselves through such horrible things just to save a flagging career. Take up quilting Guys. It is much more fun and no one will make you eat various body parts of kangaroo.

Happy Stitching.

Love Shirley.x

Monday 15 November 2010

Plodding On

Hello out there. I am still around and have been checking in on you all but just haven't had the will to do anything more. Still on with my hexagon therapy. There are now 32 diamonds. They are keeping me sane - just.

There are lots more prepped in my box of tricks. Hmmmm, looking pink again.

In my grief and hexagon mania I realised that I could get 18 hexies out of a jelly roll strip and before I knew it I had cut out the whole roll - yep, enough to make 120 rosettes. I bought the jelly roll at a show some time ago and didn't know what to do with it. I am thinking of green centres and possibly a reddish background. I am not sure yet whether to make up the rosettes mixed or be conventional. We shall see. I prep these in the small hours until I drop off sleep. You know how it is sometimes?!!!

I received a lovely package through the post last week from Frances Leate at The Quilting Owl Blog. In it was a lovely selection of pink fabrics and a little pack of papers to make the lovely pincushion. I decided to make it in christmas fabrics and did a spot of fussy cutting. It turned out quite well. Thank you Frances and Peter, it was really kind of you to do that for me and I love your e-mails.

On one of my walks in to town down by the river all these swans were just swimming majestically with the ducks. There were more but I couldn't fit them all in.

This cheeky chappy posed for me. I think he was hoping for a bit of food as I was sat at a picnic table trying to photograph him and in the end he took pity on me and came right by my feet. I know the grey squirrels are supposed to be a pest destroying our native red squirrels but I like them.

Finally, this morning, on the frozen lawn was a lovely green woodpecker. He just turned his head slightly as I snapped and so you can't see his red crown.

Once again, I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone for all your kind wishes, thoughts and poems. You are all just great.

Love Shirley.xx

p.s. Dotty Dolly's had a customer in their shop the other week from New Zealand and when asking her how she new about them she said that she had seen it on my blog!!!! How Amazing. Do let me know who you are.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Tea, Fabric and Elyte

Hello everyone. I would like to say a very big thank you to all you lovely people for your kind words of comfort this past week. It has been a terrible week in all ways. On top of the shock a viral illness hit me with the force of a sledgehammer.

One really lovely thing to happen this week was the opportunity to meet with a fellow blogger. Elyte and I realised that we had so many things in common that when she said she was coming to the UK for a holiday I hoped that she would fit us in her itinerary. A very big thank you to Keith for doing this for us. We had a lovely few hours together and chatted away like we had known each other for ever. The Internet is truly an amazing concept.

We exchanged a few goodies. The tin contains yummy biscuits and the design is from Emma Ball who is one of my favourite artists. How clever of Elyte to guess this. Plus some lovely fabrics to play with.

I have been sewing hexagons again this week. It is the only thing I can concentrate on. Hexagons are the sewing version of comfort food and in times of severe stress they should be the order of the day. The total lozenges now stands at 16 with another 6 ready prepped. I don't have a plan for how many I need, I shall just keep going until I declare it enough.

Sarah just happened to look out of the window the other day and said that there was a pheasant on next doors roof. I tell you we get some odd things appearing in our garden from time to time. We are less than a mile from the town centre and a short drive away from open fields and I guess these creatures just get lost on route. He certainly shouldn't have been in our garden.

Once again, a very big thank you to you all for your kindness and support. You are the best.

Happy Stitching

Love Shirley.xx

Tuesday 19 October 2010


As you will know from a previous post that my Mum was recently diagnosed with Alzheimers and had also been having some tests at the hospital which were all good and positive. It is with such great sadness that I have to tell you that today my mum passed away. It is a great shock to us all and we will miss her so much. The only comfort at present is that she and her family have been spared the onslaught of this terrible illness.

The above photo is Mum's quilt which she loved and the other was taken at mum's 70th birthday party and is of my mum and my sister and brothers and myself.


Sunday 17 October 2010

Sarah Morell

This week I took the plunge and started the Sarah Morell quilt. I have been gathering a few fabrics and watching and learning, waiting for the right moment to start my own masterpiece. This quilt isn't for the faint hearted but nothing ventured, nothing gained and I am not one to shy away from a challenge. This is the centre of the medallion block and as far as I have got. There is still quite a bit of work before this block will be finished. Only another 60 - yes 60, blocks to go.

Having finished the little sweater for Rachel I have now started something a little warmer for her. She may get it in the summer!! The yarn and pattern are from Bergere de France. Whilst I was knitting I was suddenly aware of the pattern in the ball of yarn and thought it interesting. Inspiration is everywhere that you care to look. In this I see a log cabin set on point.

I am still in love with hexagons. I am re-using the papers from the kaleidoscope quilt and using fabrics only from my stash. It will be just very simple and lovely I think. Sometimes they are the best. I can cut out and sew and stitch whenever the urge takes me.

Yesterday we went for a drive down to Dartmouth. It is a beautiful place on the River Dart in South Devon. This photo is at the River mouth looking towards Dartmouth Castle. It is also where The Mayflower and The Speedwell docked before sailing of to America. They started off together from Southampton but the ailing Speedwell needed repairs and didn't make the journey. This is what they would have set sail to. Dartmouth is also home to the Naval College.

On the opposite side of the River is Kingsbridge. It is steep and pretty and you cross via the ferry. It was also home to Agatha Christie, famous for her crime writing.

This lone swan was majestically swimming in the harbour, just waiting for some attention and no doubt a bit of food.

There are some fabulous buildings to look at and again the inspiration is there if you care to look.

How about the Mayflower as the centre medallion and all those applique blocks?

How about some English Paper Piecing?

Happy stitching.

Love Shirley.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Lone Pie

This week I managed to make the sum total of one pie. That makes the total 11. Yesterday I found this little cookery book at the garden centre and thought it very appropriate. Amazing what you can find when you get a theme going.

All the hexagons are now finished on the kaleidoscope quilt and this is where I have come up against a brick wall.

Plan A - could not get anymore fabric. I had the idea that I could fussy cut more shapes to make a border. This would have worked brilliantly and I still have it in my head that this is what it needs.

Plan B - did not have enough of the left overs to do something creative for the borders. Again it would work but still did not have enough fabric.

Plan C - still thinking about Plan C. Maybe Plan C is to carry on searching for some more fabric and then I can carry out Plan A and even add Plan B. We will see.

Sunday morning we woke up to quite a breezy day. I heard something fall and when I looked out of the window there was the giant sunflower - gone. As you can see it was uprooted like a tree. It had been quite magnificent.

Saturday's post bought a lovely package from Elyte in Australia. Elyte's quilting group are the Bluegum Quilters and they were focused in the Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine. In November they are holding their exhibition and Elyte sent me the magazine and a few little goodies. Notice the lovely pink fabric and some pretty wooden heart buttons. The fabric is from a range called Under the Australian Sun and Elyte tells me they are gum blossoms. Also there came with the magazine a dvd on perfecting bindings and borders. The quilt on the cover of that is to die for and on my ever growing wish list of quits to make. Thank you Elyte. I am so excited because I am going to meet this lady sometime soon when she comes to England. Counting down the number of sleeps now Elyte.

I also enjoyed reading about Frances Leate(Quilting Owl blog) and her amazing studio. Frances is responsible for me joining in with Pies and Tarts. Well, I am of course responsible for my own actions but Frances makes the most yummy of pies and I just couldn't resist. No will power, I am afraid.

Last week I also finished a piece of knitting that I was quite pleased with. I cannot show you the results as no sooner had I finished it, Rachel whipped it away and wore it. Several of her friends have put in requests. Fat chance girls. You may be waiting a long while in the queue for finished items. Let me just say that it was a pink and pretty little sweater. She is after all her mother's daughter!!!

Happy stitching.

Love Shirley.

Friday 24 September 2010

Pie Supper

There has been a bit of activity in the Pie Department this week and 4 more have been added making a total of 10. I have lots cut out ready for prepping for when I get that urge to stitch a few more. They were a nice, easy way to relax this week as I sat with my mum. I know there are quite a few who have indulged in Pies and Tarts and Gisele from Art Escapes and myself are about to launch a new club so keep a lookout for an announcement and anyone wishing to join us can show their produce.

On my return home yesterday there was a package waiting for me. Inside was this lovely pack of pink fabrics from Gisele. They are her leftovers from another project and very kindly donated to yours truly. They are just so pretty. Gisele also made for me the beautiful pink pincushion and can you see that it is a little pie? The accompanying card is a snapshot of a sunset in Jersey. Now, what shall I make with those gorgeous fabrics?!!!! Thank you Gisele for your kindness and generosity. It is much appreciated.

Also waiting for me courtesy of Manor House Publications was the latest edition of Homespun Magazine. Guess what this issue is all about. Yes, it is called The Pink Issue. It must have known that Gisele had sent that parcel as they arrived at the same time. Is there a conspiracy? Lots of lovely projects in this issue to get me thinking. Mind you, thinking gets me into trouble as I plan yet another project. I love the quilt on the left.

As I just mentioned I have been looking after my mum this week as she had to go to the hospital for some tests and to pass the time we played a game of I Spy. Now, we were scraping the barrel a bit as this room was devoid of anything interesting to look at and so we were having clues like screws, nails and even a hook on the back of the bed!!! desparate I know. Well, try playing I spy with someone who has Alzheimers. We were crying with laughing as mum kept forgetting what clues we had already had, although most of the time she did very well with it. It is a wonder they didn't come and tell us to be quiet. Luckily Mum's test was all clear and one less thing to worry about.

Happy Stitching.

Love Shirley.

Friday 17 September 2010

Counting My Blessings

Today I received my prize from Rae Ann at Cutie Pinwheel. You may remember I won it as a prize giveaway. The pattern is by Lori Holt and is called Count Your Blessings. It is lovely, I know I shall enjoy stitching it. Hopefully I will be able to do both Rae Ann and Lori proud. Rae Ann also sent me a beautiful pattern that I had admired on her blog. The real prize of course and the real reason for feeling so blessed is making the acquaintance of Rae Ann. I do hope we get to meet one day.

I also had a phone call this week telling me that I had won a bag in a raffle at a quilt show. Last weekend My husband took me to Weston Super Mare to see Weston Quilter's Exhibition. Now this is a great show and well worth a visit, once you have negotiated the traffic along the sea front and followed the diversion which brings you out at exactly the same spot you started!!!! There is a lot of regeneration going on along the sea front which hopefully will be a good thing. It needs smartening up. The raffle was a good idea. Buy a ticket for £1 and put the ticket in the bag that you want to win. Ta da! It is made of wool felt, has a lovely novelty lining of sewing items and is beautifully made. A fabulous prize I think you will agree. Can a girl ever have too many bags? Guess who forgot her camera?

Union flags are everywhere at the minute and this is my version of a pattern downloaded from JustHands on TV. The pattern is by Anne Baxter. I have adapted it slightly as Anne has made her cushion square and I want mine oblong. It is for my niece Meg. The brief was to use her colours for her new bedroom. Now I haven't seen the new bedroom yet but I have got a wallpaper sample. Hope you will like it Meg. I am informed that you can only call our flag the Union Jack if it is hoisted on a ship, otherwise it is the Union Flag. Didn't know that before till after. I found a few threads from my stash that will do for some big stitch quilting.

Now, please feel free to have a good laugh. I did. I have permission to show you this. Wednesday was my youngest daughter's birthday, she was 25. Olly, her beloved decided that he would make her a cake. I offered to buy one!!! Time was really short and off we went to the supermarket to get the ingredients as he was also cooking tea for 6 of us. Sarah was picking me up on her way from work and Olly phoned to say could I delay her for 20 minutes. When we arrived at their house. Rachel and Olly were in hysterics. He made the cake but forgot that it needed time to cool down and hastily slapped all this lemon icing on that promptly melted. If you click on it you will see that he also put cocktail sticks in it to stop the layers from sliding off. It was funny. The icing actually was quite nice. Tea was delicious and we had a great time. Thanks Ol. I also bought balloons which were put up. I did take photo's but I think Blogger may take me off air if I show them as they looked a little rude. They are in actual fact animals but in the semi darkness - well, what can I say. Take my word for it.

Roses most definitely are my favourite and these were cheap and cheerful from Tesco. They really brightened up the room this week and cheered me no end. I even hope to have a quilting design drawn up from them.

Happy stitching

Love Shirley.x

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Dotty Dolly

Dotty Dolly is a newly opened patchwork shop in the next town of Wellington in Somerset. It is owned by Debbie and Joan who both have great stitching credentials and both being trained teachers. Local stitchers will know them for their lovely hand dyed threads and fabrics which they used to sell at local shows and craft fairs.

When we went to Cowslip a few weeks back Debbie came with us and I jokingly said that If I could come and cut the ribbon I would give them some free publicity. Word came back to me that there was some ribbon waiting to be cut. Today I fulfilled that obligation and let me tell you that I could get used to this celebrity lifestyle and I am available for other such functions. Sorry to have missed you today Joan if you are reading this.

The shop is painted plain white and is light, bright and airy. Lots of pretty fabrics to entice you with more coming in soon. I was pleased to see Mettler threads on display as they are my favourites for quilting with Gutermann coming in shortly. It has only been opened less than a week and so is just getting off the ground. One thing is guaranteed, Debbie and Joan have great flair and have great plans for both beginners and the more experienced stitchers. I am excited about this venture and can see that I shall be a frequent stalker, sorry, visitor!! If you are in the vicinity then you will get a lovely warm welcome. Parking is good and if you are coming this way for a holiday then come off the M5 at junction 26 and follow the signs to Wellington. There are some lovely little shops to have a browse at and also a new Waitrose.

Telephone 01823 660879/ for more information.

Of course I couldn't leave without a few purchases.

On Saturday we went to St Ives in Cornwall. It is my favourite place. It always makes me feel just so relaxed. The light here is special and a haven for the artists that flock here to paint. It started off dreary and damp but then the sun came out and we sat on the beach later. This is looking at the harbour area.

This is Porthminster beach and is a beautiful place. We stayed once out of season and I was the only one on the beach leaving just one set of footprints on the soft white sand.

There are lots of little back streets to wander around with lots of art galleries and cafe's to savour and the views are to die for. This street sign made me smile. There was another small sign on a wall that said that the area was a alcohol free zone. I wonder if you have to sneak alcohol in through the door in a brown bag!!!?

Just in case you have got this far and wondered if there is any actual sewing progress then this is 10 blocks of the Farmer's Wife Project. It hasn't made much of a dent yet in the box of fabrics and charm pack. I was putting off making the Bird's In The Air block as the pieces were tiny and pressing them proved a bit of a tricky one. I think pressing is so important as it can make or break a piece of work.

Frankie loves to look out of the window and watch the birds in the garden. Just look how he climbs onto the frame. He looks like a feathered version of Kilroy was here.

Happy Stitching

Love Shirley.