The snowflake decoration tutorial

I promised to put up this little tutorial some time ago but with all the drama going on here I forgot.


You could use this method for any type of round decoration.

For my decorations I used a 32 count linen which is a a bit stiff and a cotton,( with a high thread count) printed fabric for the back.  Other fabrics could by used, some might even gather better than these ones did.  I also used a heavier card  (1 for the embroidery, 1 for the backing)  for the shapes, not the very heavy but an in-between weight.  It has to have enough stiffness in it that it will not buckle.

 I wanted a finished size of 3"  so I used a template to trace the shape onto the card.  I then found the centre and marked the quarters on the card with a pencil.  This is important because there is nothing worse than a piece that has an off centre design.

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I then took a round bowl that was larger than the desired finished sized and marked a cutting line.  Again making sure that the embroidery was in the centre with an equal distance to the edge on all sides.  The back didn't really matter if it wasn't centred so I just marked the circles.

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On both the front and the back I stitched a line of running stitch about 1/4" from the edge.  (I tried doing this with the sewing machine but the result wasn't as good.)

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I put a long pin through the centre of the card and then through the centre of the design and pulled up the gathering thread, it sat just right. 

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I used the extra thread left over from the gathering to lace the fabric in place.  This was repeated on the backing shape.

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I then attached the hanging cord so it could be enclosed between the two sections.

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The back and front were whip stitched together using a cotton quilting thread, which is just a bit heavier than normal sewing thread.  To start the stitching I ran my needle  behind the fabric for a short distance before my beginning stitch and did the same when I finished the thread.

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To stitch Van Dyke stitch I ran the thread in the same way as before using a perle 8 thread.

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This was stitch over the two edges of the decoration.

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Van Dyke stitch is worked between two imaginary lines.  In this case the edges of the front and back shapes become the lines.

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Because I used an even weave linen inserting the needle at a 2 thread interval kept the stitch even.  It was also easy to work around that hanging thread.

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When you use this stitch in this way it raises it up and makes a good edge to attach beads to but can be also used as it is.  In fact using this stitch on an edge defines the edge and gives an attractive finish.  I have used it on needle cases and even pages of fabric books. This method of construction does take some time but gives a good finish to your piece.

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Tea break

With all the stresses of the past couple of weeks I find that I can't sit and stitch.  I have tried but kept making mistakes, so I have put it aside until I feel I can handle it.  I also had visitors arrive in the midst of all the confusion.  I made cake and coffee for morning tea getting out an old dinner set that I haven't used for some time along with proper serviettes, not just paper ones.  I bought the set in Norway back in the 1970's.  (I keep seeing pieces of it in antique shops so it must have been on sale here as well. ) 

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I was struck by how much I enjoyed drinking my coffee from a cup rather than a mug.  There wasn't as much coffee or milk or sugar as I would usually have and it got me thinking about how my mother and grandmother would have served tea.  (Coffee was hard to come by back then and everyone drank tea or used chickory.)  I went looking for the tea and coffee pots but they seem to have disappeared in the move.    (Now the hunt is on in the op shops for some replacements.) The driving 4 to 5 hours every day, the strained back and the stress have been playing havoc with my gall stones.  I have to have something done there but in the mean time I am going to limit coffee and stick to a low fat diet.

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Image: C. H.H. Burleigh (1869 - 1956) The Geffrye, Museum of Home

what you are doing. Just look at the Japanese tea ceremony.

I think there is a lot to be said in favour of being 'mindful' about the things that we do.  The Japanese Tea Ceremony is a good example of this.


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So putting all this together I have decided to have cups of tea rather than my usual mug.  I bought myself a new tea pot, milk jug and a set of tea cups, so that if I have guests I can offer cups that are of a size somewhere between a traditional teacup and a mug and I will stop to have tea rather than drinking whilst I work.

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 That tea really does taste different,  I think I will have to make a tea cosie for that new pot and I'm even considering going back to tea leaves after reading about the environment impact of tea bags. 

(Some tea bags have plastic in them !)










The local quilt show

There was a local quilt show at the Redland's Council Hall a few weeks ago.  The small space was crammed full of quilts on display.  They were packed in so tightly that it was difficult to take photos.  Most quilts were beautifully stitched but copies of other quilts or from purchased kits.  But in amongst these were a couple of original quilts.   These were stand outs.  They were only for display not part of the competition and were made by a local resident.  She had used the birds and flowers in her own garden as inspiration.

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Because space was so tight I couldn't get a photo of the full quilt but I did manage some of the panels in the quilt.

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The central panel was quite lovely,

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and when you looked into it the hand quilting complemented the design.

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Each of the surrounding panels would have made lovely small quilts in their own right.

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I bet there are lots of other pieces in peoples homes that are just as beautiful but are never shared outside their families.



A day at home

I had my day at home to recuperate and clear up Emails and the like and I am feeling much refreshed.

  It is beautiful weather here and the noise of birds singing and talking to one another is quite loud.  It isn't the harsh conversation of the parrots but the piping song of smaller birds. The sun makes lovely patterns as it shines through the trees onto the road.

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And the water is blue and clear.

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We have a number of people who live on the anchored boats and I sat on top of the bank and watched one as he took his old dog lady for a paddle.

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The sun is shining brightly and families are visiting the island.  Amazing what enjoyment can be got from a bit of driftwood and some old rope.

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This weather not only has the birds out in force but all the plants and trees are flowering a good couple of mounts in advance of when they should. 

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I just hope we don't have a cold snap which will put them all back.  I didn't plant any bulbs this year because the weather has been so warm so they will have to wait until next I suppose.





I have been working on my sprained back by resting, not lift anything heavy and not bending over too much.  It's working.  Now only going over speed bumps, coughing  and sneezing cause a lot of pain.  All the other pain is being controlled by pain killers!

Charlie has the idea of how not to do too much.

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I did finish the peace embroidery for August.  I don't really like it much.  I should have used an even coloured thread.   I think I will put this one down to experience.

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And because I have tried to keep still I have started some more knitting.  This is another shawl and I am trialing some wool that I bought a couple of months ago from 'Kaalund Yarns.'  (As you can see I am doing some 'reverse' knitting as well.)

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This is a really nice wool.  The spinning of the yarn is even and has given it a nice twist.  Very satisfying to knit with this wool.  Just wish I didn't make so many mistakes in the pattern.

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On the home front my husband has been raising my stress levels by knocking on the doors of heaven but so far St. Peter is keeping him out.  Not too good for my blood pressure and that 4 hour round trip to the hospital isn't too good for my back either.  Now that he seems to be out of danger I am going to sit at home today and sew.



I came across a Spanish website called totnens that had an article on recycling plastic toys.  There are just so cute that I am now on the look out for old plastic toys in the op shops.  Just look at this crockery.

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And this would make a great gift for any of the young (or old) kids in the family.

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But best of all (for me) are these Xmas decorations.  I can see them now decorating the dinner table.

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There are other great ideas for kids on this website, great time waster

Note to self

Please note Carolyne, that although it seems like a great idea to reorganise the house, when you husband is in hospital having another hip replacement,  it is not a good idea to try and move the keyboard on your own.  You might have got by on the flat, but those stairs.

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You will put your back out and then the keyboard will be stuck half way.  Neither up nor down.  The pain will be terrible.

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You will then have to find a neighbour to move it the rest of the way and give him a 6 pack (of your husbands beer) to thank him. 

Note: Remember to buy some more beer before he gets home.  He will be in re-hab for 14 days so you have time. 



The Wessex Stitchery progresses slowly.  (Count 3 up, 3 over, 3 down.)

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The knitted shawl is finished but I don't think I will use this yarn again.  The colours were wonderful but the spinning of the yarn is uneven and for the price I paid not good value.  The feel of silk and wool is nice against the skin and I know I will use it.

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The children's quilt is all finished along with the pillows and stacked ready to pack for postage.

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I made a storage bag for the quilt.  I like to have a bag I can store my quilts in for the summer.

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I am quite happy with this finished quilt.  It is a good size and the cushions are an added extra.  It will brighten up a child's room.

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This was originally for my grand daughter who said "it isn't pink" when I showed it to her.  So the name has stuck.

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Looking at the bundle of quilt tops I have in the cupboard I think I will just keep quilting till I get the back log under control.



Some 'Silly Stitching'

My definition of 'Silly Stitching'  is something that can be done on a hand frame, isn't too mentally challenging and I can talk to friends whilst I stitch.  I don't seem to have anything that matches that description at the moment.  So when an add for a 'learn to stitch' sampler turned up in my inbox I paid attention.  I also paid attention because the shop sending the add was "Purl Solo" in New York.  One of my favourite shops in the whole world, well in the top 5!

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The Sampler is simple and stunning.  Precision of stitching will be of the essence because of the simplicity of the design.  I will have to be careful what letter I work on whilst I'm chatting to friends.

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The letters and style are very similar to those found in Elsie Svennas' book "A handbook of Lettering for Stitchers".  You can still buy this book on Amazon.

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But you can also obtain it as a free PDF down load here.  I saw some linen fabric like this last week and I'm sure I have that thread.  Looks like I have found my next silly stitching piece.  I could just buy the kit and save myself the trouble of making patterns and sourcing materials. The kit has weeks dye works linen which is really nice to stitch on. 



The after effects of the eye operation

I was warned, but I didn't believe them.  I can see dust and dead ants and spiders webs and other things I have been missing. (Like just how many wrinkles I have on my face.)  I never knew that I had blue rings around my brown iris',  I thought my eyes were  just plain brown.

I finished a friendship block for one of my quilting friends.  Before the operation it looked good.  After the operation it looked terrible.  I have now re-stitched it and I can see an improvement.  The brief was to use blue fabrics on the base cloth provided and she wanted a basket of flowers.  I like the idea of a handbag.

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But I just had to add a little colour.  I used a deep red for the stitching around the handbag and added French knots to the centre of each of the flowers on the bag.

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I was tempted to use a bright yellow in the centre of the flowers but restrained myself and used a bright blue for the seed stitching.

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It is always a good feeling when you can tick something off the 'to do' list.