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October 2010
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December 2010

Finishing is good

Goldfinch Stitched

I had an enormous amount of fun stitching this guy. Often times while I should have been doing other things, like running baths or folding laundry. The pattern created for him will be included as one of four stitching motifs added to the new bag pattern available now!

Cover pattern
Forager Bag Pattern e-booklet

I'm very excited about this pattern because I feel it's easy enough for sewists at beginner level to achieve a professional finish, I know that because I'm no professional. It's also easy enough to still knock-out a few in time for Christmas. I have two on the go at the moment for gifts - one for a child, the other for a grown-up.

You can read more about it on the very neglected Stitch Village blog, or go right to the shop here.

Embroidery page I had intended it to be part of another collection but a full e-book will have to wait until later in the year; this is in the form of an eight page pattern e-booklet instead.

I think most of our goldfinches are wintering in Spain, but the blue tits are so active it almost looks like spring outside my window, they fly in flocks this time of year. Also on the bird front, two mornings in a row I got to see a red kite swoop down low over one of my favourite walking paths and from my window I can see dozens of thrushes plucking holly berries from the trees.

Our cold weather has nearly kept me indoors this week, but instead it simply shortened my walks due to numb toes and a numb nose. I spotted the fellow below watching me, do you see him? 

Old Man of the forest

I must go now and prepare a belated Thanksgiving dinner. I'm giving thanks for healthy, happy family and friends and the wonderful people I've met right here. I'm also thankful for finishing, and for my parents instilling in me the desire to complete things even if it's hard (not that I'm interested in being an Everest climber or anything). I hope in the coming year I'll be dipping my toe into a pool of new activities and also doing more completing.

Happy Sunday to you! 

Beautiful stitches and flying friends


High Texture Embroidery of the Moon, by Rachel, Average Jane Crafter
Grey Wolf, by K, Fog and Swell
Slow Felt, by Pat, zencrafting 
Bird brooch, by Geninne, Geninne's Art Blog
Stitched Tit, by Margie, Resurrection Fern 
Goldfinch WIP, gift for my MIL

The past two wet and windy weeks have been less than inspiring for photo taking but I've seen a lot of inspiring stitches in the little blog reading time that I've had. Above are a few of my favourite projects and this post was inspired by the first image, found on Rachel's site. If you haven't already read the many posts about this project that have spread round the web, do so now. The beauty in this moon piece is a perfect example of how the best art stems from passion. She LOVES everything space related and every stitch tells that story.


Update: This moonscape piece of Rachel's was entered in the Etsy, NASA craft contest. Though Rachel was originally told her embroidery didn't make it through the last round of voting, turns out errors were made and she has made it through. The voting is now open again. If you're an Etsy user and want to help Rachel along, vote for her here.


The second image is of K's Grey wolf, I adore her creatures, the materials and textures she uses.

Next, Pat's Slow felt stitches. The colours and the textures here are so inspiring too. Though I'm still using lots of linen for stitching, autumn is the perfect time to bring out the wool. Pat's gorgeous piece and its colours remind me of that.

Geninne's Bird brooch. These tiny stitches and the sweet little face just make me smile, like all the other art Geninne makes.

Margie's Blue Tit. I love the birds Margie has ben stitching on hankies; her sparrow is amazing! But I was reminded of her Blue Tit because lots of these little friends have active in our garden this week, wanting me to fill up the feeders, so I have. Not only that but I came home the day before yesterday to find one in our bedroom. Actually, I thought it was one but soon discovered it was a pair of them. Luckily I ushered them safely back outside, but they did leave reminders of themselves throughout our bedroom.

Lastly, that goldfinch pattern I've been testing (from the series of our garden birds) I'm happy with. This one will become a Christmas present for my MIL, lucky she doesn't read NM much :) I've been using a very loose rice stitch here because I'm running out of time for gift making and thought it would be quick, turns out it hasn't been all that quick. We have decided to head to California for Christmas this year, that means less time for festive preparations.

For some reason, this goldfinch stitchery has been making me feel like breaking out the oil paints. My mind does wander, it's no wonder why I will always have piles of WIPs, but I'm okay with that.


The wet, windy, wild weather we've had the last couple of weeks hasn't kept me indoors too many days. The leaves are gone but there's till amazing colour to be found. Many trees are wearing socks of moss helped on by lots of rain.

So much busyness around here at the moment which I'm sure is the same with most of you this time of year. Work being done on the house we live in, project deadlines, school shows to attend, and finishing patterns. It really will be done this week (I know I said that last week, this time I mean it... I think ;)

Hope you're enjoying Sunday and your week ahead has only good surprises in store. What have you been enjoying this weekend?


P.S. I just saw this beautiful bit of stitching on Margie's Flickr, made by Sonia - more inspiration.

On being creative

Is it spring yet?

Lately being creative for me has been more about surmounting daily challenges than designing or making things. Like photographing lots of children in a variety of accessories for an article during a week of grey skies and constant rain... did I mention it's a spring issue? Just ignore those falling leaves in the background won't you.

Some day it will be a goldfinch

Or finding time to try out new patterns that have been ready for months. A series of my favourite birds that visit our garden; sadly they keep taking a back seat to everything. I thought today is the day, an hours train journey to and from London and more hours at an embassy renewing child no. 1's passport - ample time to maybe get little goldfinch here completely finished. Then my stitching supplies were confiscated at the security gate, oh well. 

Thinks she's a little lap dog - next she'll want a silly little outfit trimmed in rhinestones

And maybe most challenging of all, forgetting we have a puppy dog who wouldn't be happy about being home all day alone while we're spending hours in an embassy in London. Yes, I realized this last night, very, very late. Luckily we have a neighbour, just one neighbour, but he's the best neighbour in the world. He took our pup for two long walks and while he was at it picked up all the apples that our weekend storms brought down. Told you he's the best.

Organizational skills are an area I'm working at being very creative with. Sonia and Pat asked about Twitter and Facebook. Yes, I have the Twitter account for Pinterest, but not Facebook. I don't think I can justify more online time when I have stacks of unfinished this-and-thats surrounding me so I probably won't be using that Twitter account... but maybe sometime.

(I should have an image of stacks of things here, maybe tomorrow I'll take one, the stacks will still be here. Instead, a pleasant picture of immaculate front steps on a swanky London road.)

Perfect pots

Speaking of Sonia, she has some downloadable list making art helpful for holiday planning, if you're the planning sort (she's very good at it). And speaking of Pat, I just received the prettiest little calendar in the post full of her beautiful images - take a look, they're here.

As you see at the top We've been playing a lot with jersey, a little kick Deb got us into a while back. Headbands and bibs are littering my space now. T & G have even made their own T-shirts, no help from me whatsoever.

Must sleep now. Bag pattern later this week, little goldfinch is one of the four small embroidery patterns that are included, probably untested ;)

Happy Tuesday tomorrow. If you have a chance, tell me how you're being creative these days. If it's in a more tangible way than me, you could always add it to Lisa's fun Flickr group here.


Pinning things I pine for


I loved seeing Geninne's pins on her Pinterest board. Which led me to start my own board. I don't normally use the social sites and had to sign up to Twitter or Facebook to use Pinterest. I chose Twitter, though I probably won't use it. But I love the format of Pinterest, so here's my first board of things I love. I think our very rainy, stormy week has left me seeking colour.

It was fun to look at favourite images from friends and new friends and put them up in one place. My creative space is mainly glass so I have no wall space to hang images, the Pinterest boards sort of make up for that; now I can see wonderful things and people all in one place.


Here are a few leaves of the week, shot for a GP article for next Autumn. The latest issue is out now and it's the special craft issue, should be on the newsstands this week.

Other things I've enjoyed this week:

Mark Twain's autobiography on Radio Four. Twain requested it be published 100 years after his death and what a treat it's been. 

Walking through deep puddles

Listening to T & G make music

Lots of hot cups of tea

Making plans for going home

Next week, a finished pattern will be made available and another giveaway.

Have a lovely weekend. Jx

Collecting and things

Autumn collection

Can't before we're already in the home autumn stretch. My new bag is filled will these finds like those above these days. The chestnuts, cobb nuts and acorns are hard to find now due to the industriousness of squirrels bedding down for winter but I've still found a few. And I love the shape and texture of the beech pods, like woolly hats for the fairies and gnomes. The moss covers the ground beneath some birches on one of my walks and the birch branch beneath comes from a large branch I dragged home with me, it lost this small piece along the way.

Our weekend was filled with Bonfire Night celebrations. My photos from them aren't worth seeing or keeping but the town of Lewes, not too far from us, has a wonderful Flickr group that gives a great view of the festivities like this fantastic bonfire image by, Anna Richardson. I've written about Bonfire Night in the past, a sort of celebration of the notorious, Guy Fawkes, who endeavoured to blow up Parliament.

Forager bag at the beach

We also had to stock up on new clothes for the children. Tris has grown six inches this year and his ankles have been showing beneath his trousers for way too long. After that job done, we stopped off at the beach and he snapped a few photos of another sample forager bag for me, all blurry, but a very good effort for a chilly afternoon at the beach. The pattern is done, just wanting some decent images of it, I may need to forego them.

Yummy roasting

And today we've woken to the windiest, wettest storm of the season. We nearly needed a boat to get to school and I put off my walk. It's sounding quieter out there now so I think Pippi and I will hit the road soon.

Butternut squash soup will be on the menu for tonight and I'll be using the roasted squash for this empanada recipe of Pat's soon too. Some more seasoned logs were just delivered so we'll have a nice fire in the wood burner tonight too, one of the best comforts of the season.

A happy week to you all, I hope you're finding lots of comfort in this season too.

Seasonal eats, roasted pumpkin seeds and more

Roasted pumpkin seeds

When we carve pumpkins each year we always save the seeds and roast them. After years of trial and error we've come up with a simple process for the perfect crunchy seeds. The key, I've discovered is in the drying.

Here's our very simple process:

After collecting the seeds spread them out on trays or greaseproof paper and let them dry for two days. When dry, toss them in a bowl with a few drops of olive oil. You want the seeds to have a very, very light coating of oil. If you need more than a few drops of oil add more a little bit at a time.

Preheat the oven to around 200C (around 400F). Spread the seeds on a tray and sprinkle with sea salt (try not to overlap seeds too much).  Roast in the oven for between 5 and 10 minutes keeping an eye on them. You'll here popping sounds as some of them crack open. Remove from the oven when they're golden brown. 

Butternut squash seeds are also great roasted this way but they take less time to dry because they're smaller.

The bowl was a birthday gift from my friend Cara. It's by Kent potter, Kevin Warren, I love his birds.

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We eat a lot of salads, year round. As the weather gets colder and I crave heartier foods I tend to make a lot of salads with steamed vegetables and roasted root veggies. We serve these slightly warm or room temperature. This is my very favourite dressing to use this time of year:

Tahini Dressing


  • 1/2 cup tahini 
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 

Blend all the ingredients until smooth.

This recipe dresses two or three large family-sized salads. The tahini solidifies a little in the fridge, just stir it up and add a little more of the liquid ingredients if it's too thick.

Other ingredients we add to these salads to turn them into main courses are crunchy lettuces or rocket (arugula), various pulses (cannellini beans, black beans, lentils, barlotti beans, etc.), nuts and seeds.

Do you have favourite autumn foods and drinks?


Walking through the season

Beeches in a favourite spot

Though I've been enjoying the autumn views nearly everyday I haven't captured them with the camera yet. The high winds we had last night reminded me to catch the colours before it's too late.

Nearly camouflaged

The carpet of leaves throughout the park is getting deeper.

Golden hill

The view up this path will soon be changed.

Mushrooms with windows

And these guys will be harder to find.

Ladybird cuddle

And these gals will need to cuddle closer.

I hope you're getting outside too and if not, cuddling up cozy inside.


The winner is...

Buttons like candy

I took this picture a little while back, I liked the early morning sun and the way it made this button dish look a lot like sweets.

I've been meaning to post images of this little hand-stitched zine by Jill. It's so sweet, I love her take on autumn. Many of you already know Jill, but if you don't, enjoy a look at her site. 


And this is my favourite page, I want these socks.


Gracie wants to add a page of her own saying, "Without autumn... there wouldn't be Halloween or my birthday." 

Speaking of G's birthday, she would like to thank everyone ever so much for the kind greetings and wishes, she has loved them all!


The contest winner is Celine from British Columbia, another Canadian friend.

Lucky she enjoys crochet. Thanks to all who entered, another giveaway coming soon.


P.S. I've mentioned Pam many times before and have followed her blog beginnings. Diane, her daughter wrote a wonderful post about her mom and her online journey, it's a treat to read.