Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Size matters

We have had our extension for 7 years. We have not achieved the right size and shape of table during this time. When we bought our tiny terraced 2 bed house it didn't have a kitchen as such. It had a kitchen area as part of the dining/living room. So we built an full width extension to make a kitchen/diner and free up the space in the living room.

But our existing table was too big for the extension so we sort of squeezed around for a year. The MIL was getting rid of her dining table and chairs and we joyfully accepted as it was smaller than our table, and our old table went to Emmaus.

Bad move!! The new to us table is circular and 42" in diameter so the wrong shape and size for sewing or any other craft work. More years of frustration followed.

Today we went to Ikea and bought a rectangular pine table exactly the right size for our extension and exactly big enough for my sewing machine and cutting mat or whatever for dressmaking and quilting purposes. I can do my pyrography without slipping off the curved edge. And putting the felt on the swift feet is much easier as I can do a long strip in one go now.

I am a happy bunny : )

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Son and Grandson

Here is DS on his first day in the 6th Form. They have to wear a suit and tie every day. Doesnt he look grown up?

And here is my new Grandson. Announcing the birth of Alexander. He is 9lbs 1oz and is DD2's first baby. So very, very beautiful.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Website

We have a new website!!! This one has all the new products on it : Mini-niddy noddys, longer swift pegs etc as well as the swifts, spindles and nostepinnes. Plus a new gallery of the available spindle and nostepinne woods on the Nostepinne page.

We can be found here:


Best wishes, Richard & Claire

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Fruits of my Labour

Back from quilting and i have 2 quilts to show you. The first is Friendship Braid from the Jelly Rolls book. It is 53" x 64" and involves cutting 320 trapesoids out and sewing them together. Once I got the hang of it, it went together surprisingly easily, but took a long time. It will b a lap quilt for me during the Winter.

The second quilt is the last of the Dinosaur quilts I have been making. It is 43" x 52" and I made up the pattern with the bits I had left from the first 2 dino quilts. This is the front:

And this is the back:

It, and its companion will stay at my house for sleepy grandchildren to cuddle into when they come here. The other one and the Caterpillar quilt will be at their homes for snuggling there.

I hve pinned together the front, wadding, and back and will hopefully quilt and bind it this weekend.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Going Quilting

Its that time of the year again. I'm off quilting for 5 days with my friends from Chaos Quilters. I go on Weds 27th July and am back on Tues 2nd August. 5 whole days of sewing and giggling, sleeping in dorms on bunk beds, sharing communal bathrooms and having lots of fun. These ladies know so much about quilting - its like a masterclass everytime I go.

Have fun, see you soon : )

Friday, July 15, 2011

Last of the Summer Yarn

As some of you know, I sold one of my spinning wheels recently. I have put the money I raised into replenishing my yarn stocks. These are what I bought from the last of the money.

This is called Magnolia and I bought 2 skeins of it.

This is called By The Sea and I bought 2 skeins of this too.

They are both by Skein Queen and each skein is 4ply, 100% merino 100g/400m. She exclusively dyed these colours for www.theyarncafe which is where I bought them.

So thats that for at least until after Christmas

(hark - do I hear the sound of disbelieving laughter???)

PS Did I mention the 10kg of undyed yarn and fibre which also arrived, from www.bluefaced.com ?????

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More Yarn

I fell off the yarn diet yesterday by buying these:

They are from http://www.theyarncafe.com/, a new online yarn shop in Coventry. They have lots of really beautiful yarns and accessories, including several yarns dyed by Skein Queen in exclusive colourways. This one is called Snow White's Apple and is a 4ply 100% superwash merino. Each skein is 100g and 400 metres. I feel a shawl coming on : )

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Finished the Shirt

Here it is, finished!! I am not a very small person, DH is so tall that his shirts go to my knees. I had to add 3" to the pattern to get the right length.
I learned a new way of hemming. First I overlocked the edges of the button bands, then I turned up the hem and slip stitched it invisibly. It has made a lovely finish with no bulkyness where the seams meet.

It was my first attempt at a collar. The instructions were clear and, provided I followed them to the letter, all went well. I slip stitched the collar by hand for extra neatness and comfort.

I practiced a lot before doing the buttonholes. I used my Janome 6600P and it was straightforward once I had got the hang of the buttonhole foot. I found a video on Youtube showing this technique - I love Google : ) The machine automatically makes the buttonholes the right size, so that part was easy.

I stitched the buttons on by hand, and hemmed the sleeves by hand too. I think hemming by hand gives a neater finish. I really enjoyed this project once I got my confidence going.

DH has now bought some striped fabric and given it to me to make the next one Gulp!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Dr Who Encounter at 5am

This weekend I was at Manchester. DH and I were hiring a chamber organ at the new BBC studios and ended up singing with the BBC Philharmonic orchestra - thrilling!!!

While we were there on the Saturday afternoon for rehersals, one of the lovely men mentioned that parts of Dr Who were filmed there and would I like to have a nosey? Of course, I jumped at the chance. We had to wait until the Sunday morning at 5am, just before the final rehearsals, so I look a bit bleary eyed in the pictures.

We werent allowed on the sets, but I found this outside a studio. Now, I think knitting outside the TARDIS rates as quite a good location for knitting in public - dont you?
A bit further down we met a Dalek. It was a bit subdued, so I thought I would teach it to knit while it waited for The Doctor to show up..............

It picked up the basics surprisingly well, and gave the poor staff a good laugh while we waited to start.

Monday, May 30, 2011


I have completed most of the shirt now. Thank heavens for an overlocker!!. I just have the dreaded button holes and final hemming to do - photos soon : )

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Learning Curve.

DH is 6'7" tall and broad shouldered, but slim. This means that all his shirts are too short for him.

Solution? A clever wife with a good sewing machine and a DH with endless optimism and faith in his wife's capabilities.

So I have somehow ended up volunteering to make him some shirts. I am starting relatively simply with a McCalls shirt pattern, number 2149. (blogger wont let me link today) It has short sleeves and he wants the round collar. So I only have to think about stuff like button holes, interfacing and adapting the pattern - gulp!!!

So far I have successfully lengthened the body and sleeves by 2 1/2" each. I remembered to do the same for the interfacing. I have cut out the fabric. Mercifully he has chosen a non-directional batik for the first shirt, but he also bought 4 yards of striped shirting material for my next one...............

Now I have to work out which side of the iron-on interfacing is the sticky side.

Oh my, what have I let myself in for..................

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Knitting and Sewing

This is the completed back of Fred's cardigan. Fred is my soon-to-be born grandson and this should fit him just perfectly when he is 3 months old. It is a plain stocking stitch cardigan pattern using sock yarn to make the jazzy effect.
I have also been using my over-locker to make this bag. You know the sample books of curtain fabrics? A shop was throwing one out so I snaffled it and cut rectangles out of the fabric. Then I flat-locked it on my overlocker, using shiny thick embroidery thread. The lining is calico and it is wadded in between for extra squidgy-ness (is that a word?)

I am now back to knitting my Volcano Cardigan for me : )

Friday, May 20, 2011

Another Dinosaur Cot Quilt

I think I am on a Dinosaur kick with these fabrics. This time I used 10" squares printed in panels. I cut the panels up and put sashing between them. This made a square so I added strips of smaller dinosaurs Then I put a blue 2 1/2" border all around and bound it in orange. I used a border fabric for the backing so it would be reversable.

I mitred the binding and hand sewed the binding on the back. I only lightly quilted it around the squares and sashing using my walking foot. Next time I will have hopefully got the hang of Free Motion sewing and be a bit more adventurous.

It is 42" by 48" and I still have some dinosaurs fabric left............................

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Good Year for Azaleas

Ta Da...........................

This has been flowering on our decking for several weeks now - isnt it a beauty!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quilting and Embroidery

I have not been idle whilst I have been ill. I thought I would try my hand at Surface Embroidery. I alredy have lots of threads from my cross-stitch and smocking endeavours, so I got a piece of pink poly-cotton out of the loft, and bought a copy of The A-Z of Embroidery Stitches, and off I went. The result is 6" square and has become the front of a pincushion (which I havent used yet as I cant bear to stick pins in it)

Next up is a cot quilt for my soon-to-be-born grandson. I quilted round the trees and dinosurs as well as straight round the panel. It is 42" x 53"

Finally, a Cot quilt for my very wriggly and crawling Grand-daughter. I quilted round the caterpillar, butterfly and leaf as well as the borders etc. I also managed to master Mitering the binding, which is much neater, I think. It measures 42" x 52"

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Here is our sunhouse, built the traditional allotment way with odds and ends from other sheds, and old window frames from an ex-greenhouse. Note the chair in front of it with the orange knitting on. This is my Volcano cardigan in progress whilst I am supervising the workers : )
We have had to take to watering the allotment every 2 days over the last few weeks. Eight weeks with no more than a drip or two of rain - incredible!!!

The cross hatched branches on the bottom right of this phot are DH's hedgelaying skills coming to the fore. Another year and it will look sensational.

We have lots of seedlings waiting for the right conditions to plant out. There are also some hanging baskets maturing in safety, ready to decorate the back of our house.

The fruit bushes seem OK. The tree stump you can see in the middle is the result of the old pear tree shedding a couple of branches and becoming unsafe. The man in the next plot pollared it a bit hard. At least we no longer have it shading our runner beans and attracting the wasps.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Open for Business

We are all well again and back to work. We are taking orders and have some swifts in stock already. More details of our swifts and nostepinnes can be found at:


and our custom-made spindles and niddy-noddys at:


I hope you are all enjoying the lovely weather. I will hopefully post photos of our allotment on here tomorrow.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Not Going

I am not going to Wonderwool Wales after all as I am still ill. Its day 13 of this cough and cold and I am getting fed up of it. On the plus side, I am gradually getting better, and didnt need antibiotics this time, so my immune system must be picking up. I think some retail therapy is required........................

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spinning and Socks

I've been feeling a bit ill for the past week or so, I turned to my trusty no-fail knitting and made a pair of socks for myself. The yarn is Opal Petticoat I bought years ago, and the pattern is Simple Socks by Sue Morgan. I also managed to ply my first 100g of BFL, custom dyed for me by Freyalyn. It is around sockweight and is 450 yards long. It is a bit underspun but I have had lots of good advice from my fellow spinners on ravelry, and know what to do to make it a firmer twist for the second 100g of this. I think it will be a shawl : )

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Introducing - Delilah

This is my new spinning wheel - Delilah. I have called her Delilah because I found it so hard to get the hang of using her that I found myself saying 'Why, why, WHY did I buy this wheel.I hadnt realised how hard it would be to get used to a completely different way of treadling. My other wheel is an Ashford Elizabeth 2, which has bearings and the wheel is on the right, not in the middle. I just flick the wheel, and off it goes. With Delilah the wheel is in the middle, as is the treadle, and I cant flick the wheel. It took several hours of patient, and not so patient practise before I could get the wheel to go consistently in the direction I wanted it to.
The sliding hook flyer took some practice too. All in all, it was like being a beginner again. I persevered and now love Delilah as much as Elizabeth, but I've got a bit more practice to do before I am as competent and confident on her.

My spinning corner looks just right now. The radiator is switched of permanently until Winter, when I shall move my wheels to another corner. Having a travelling wheel has certainly expanded my horizons and I hope to take Delilah to Wonderwool Wales if I have stopped using naughty words when spinning on her.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Its alive..Its ALIVE!!!!!

Mr Sunflower's Clanger is now finished and gracing our windowsill, much to the amusement of the secondary school children who walk past our house on their way to school and back.
The Clanger has leather clothing, turned inside out to show the suede side. It is embroidered with bronze-coloured metallic thread. We think he is a Gladiator clanger, but haven't come up with a suitable name yet. Suggestions are welcome : )

Friday, March 18, 2011

Snake Surprise!!!

My DS is 16 years old. He is doing his GCSE in Art and has a rather 'interesting' teacher. Last Friday she decided to set him some Art homework involving photographing and then doing an oil painting of a snake. A live, real snake...................

Now, in Coventry, live snakes are a bit thin on the ground for an ordinary customer, especially on Friday tea-time. With the help of Google we found a shop which was open and they kindly let us photograph their Python. They even got her out of the tank and let us handle her while DS took action shots, which I thought was very kind of them.
The python was very large, heavy and quick so much giggling ensued when DS got wrapped up in a tangle with this big snake.

At one point, I put the camera down to help him and got the snake round my neck and almost in my ear!!! The staff were great. I totally recommend Godiva reptiles if you ever what anything like that.

It was a surprising end to a school week. I hadnt expected to pick DS up and then be snake-wrangling all in the space of an hour. DS and I both like snakes and enjoyed the experience very much. I'm not sure how the snake felt as we dont speak parseltonge!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Can You Tell What It Is Yet?

Its beginning to come together now and look like a Clanger : )

Monday, March 7, 2011

Finished my Hexagons

I went to my Spring Quilting retreat this weekend. 30 ladies of a 'certain age' get together at Quorn Hall and spend 2 days bissfully quilting. Much laughing and chatting goes on, plenty oef eating of cake, and very little sleeping.

I set up my table with the hexagon quilt and all my odds and ends, plus a not-very-helpful pneguin who refused to do any sewing.

Success. At 1.59pm on Sunday afternoon, just before we had to stop sewing, I sewed in my last hexagon. I am very happy, as you can see. I just have to sew on the borders, quilt it and do the binding............................ but it has gone back in its box for a few days until I catch up with my housework : )

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Of Clangers, Onions and Quilts......

Mr Sunflower is busy knitting his Clanger. He has nearly finished the body, head and legs which is all knitted in one piece.

It looks a bit scary, but I am told that the holes are for the arms to be attached.
Meanwhile, I am making preparations for my Quilting weekend which starts on Friday : )

And in the kitchen, our onion have started to grow. Now I know that Spring is in the air!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Knitting Clangers and stuff

At last I am back, with lots of knitting to show. First up is my Blue Cardigan. I have done the back and both fronts. I have set it aside for a couple of weeks now as I have a quilt to finish before my Quilting Retreat in 10 days.

Mr Sunflower is re-discovering his knitting skills by knitting this bright pink Clanger. The pattern is here

It involves lots of increasing and short-row shaping which he has taken to like a duck to water. It may not look much like a Clanger yet, but it will - trust me.
Below is my finished Forest Canopy Shawl which came out at a whopping 80" x 36" after blocking.

I have also done a bit more spinning, but nothing significant to show yet. Its great to have some time now to do crafting again.