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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Sally Page

When I finished writing may last blog about the Pythouse Walled Gardens, I was browsing their website and I came across their own blog A Year in the Life of Pythouse Walled Garden. The blog is being written for them by Sally Page. As soon as I saw the name, I went to our bookshelves and pulled out 3 books, all written by Sally.

When I saw the first book "The Flower Shop" - A Year in the Life of an English Country Flower Shop, in the National Trust Shop a few years ago, I knew I had to have it.

Sally has a passion for flowers and flower shops, which is very obvious from her book.
A quote from the sleeve of the book: "If you have two pennies, spend one on bread and the other on a flower, says a Chinese proverb. The bread will sustain life and the flower will give a reason to live."

Trained as a florist, she had a flower shop in London, before moving to the West Country, where she worked as a florist for Ted Martin Flowers in Tisbury in Wiltshire - "The Flower Shop". Sally and her camera recorded the life in the shop month by month. The book is not only about flowers, but also about stories around the shop, its customers, about Tisbury; beautifully photographed and including some florist's tips.

So when I saw Sally's next book, I did not hesitate.
"The Flower Shop Christmas" - Christmas in an English Country flower Shop.

The book is a record of the magical 12 Days of Christmas in the flower shop.
Again, beautifully written and with stunning photographs. It is the book to pick up in the run up to Christmas, to get inspired and to get into the mood. I love this book, I always find some new idea for Christmas decorations.

I don't have (yet) the next book Sally published. It is called ""Flower Shops & Friends" - A Year's Journey around English Flower Shops, in which Sally and her camera travelled around beautiful parts of the country, again it is record of flower shops and the communities around them.

The third book is  a small book "Flower Shop Secrets".

In this book Sally shares tips and hints of a florist, some from her previous books, some new, from what type of containers to use to how to stop tulips from getting droopy.

All profits the publisher makes from the sale of this book go to MSAADA, to help women and orphans of Rwanda.

Which brings me to a note on the publisher.
When Sally finished her first book, she could not find anyone who would publish it (!!??)
So her and her partner formed their own publishing company Fanahan Books, which is now publishing all Sally's books.

But Sally is not only florist, writer and photographer. She is also a painter, something I discovered when visiting her website and suddenly I was looking at beautiful paintings.
This is one very gifted lady.

You can read more about Sally on her own website and her blog.

One more quote from her book:

"A flower gives more then a reason to live - it gives us  a means to adequately express the full range of our human emotions."

These books are beautiful to give and to receive, to get inspired or to just browse.
A copy of Sally's first book travelled to Scandinavia with me, a present for my Swedish friend,
who loves flowers, but she also liked the "Englishness" of the book.


Now you could say that this post has noting to do with my stitching. Perhaps.
But inspirations for our creativity is influenced from many directions and by many people.

Whenever I see something beautiful, I want to go and make something. I might not have the time or opportunity (or enough talent), but it does inspire me, and this is what enriches our lives. I am sure you will agree.

I will leave you with a couple of pictures I took at Barrington Court yesterday.

There is another story of inspiration I would like to share with you, next time....

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

summer produce

Shhhh, lets not say it too loudly, but I think that the summer has arrived in our part of the world at last!
Just in time for school holidays, which for most children started last weekend.
Yesterday was a beautiful day and I went with DD and the children to the Pythouse Kitchen Garden, which is near Semley in Wiltshire. It is a very old walled garden, where they grow lots of different vegetables and fruit for the their shop and the kitchen.

There is a very pleasant cafe where you can indulge in a morning coffee and a cake, or stay for lunch...
We arrived quite early and so had the garden to ourselves. DD and I set outside with our coffee and lovely cakes from the Pythouse kitchen, while the children were playing and exploring the garden.

Most of the last week has been taken up with a produce from our own garden - more plums!

I made povidle - a central European plum preserve

summer jam - mixture of plums, strawberries, raspberries and apricots

plum flans, one for now and one for the freezer

not forgetting plum dumplings and plum pastries

 and there is more plums to come!

This is the best plum harvest ever! Needless to say that we have been supplying all the family, friends and neighbours.

I have even found time to make some Scottish baps ( soft bread rolls), just to have some change from the plums!

No time to stitch this week!


Saturday, 23 July 2011


Our thoughts are with all the families which suffered a terrible loss in Norway yesterday.
We are in a state of shock and disbelieve, Scandinavia is the last place in the world we would expect to hear this kind of news from.
We send our love to all our Norwegian friends.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

summer, summer where have you gone?

It is Sunday, it is wet, it is windy and it is not very warm! Now and then we get a day with a promise of summer weather and we even manage to spend some time outside, but now it is back to - spring? It feels like it! The wind is howling through the trees in the garden.
Still, not all is lost, it was our daughter's birthday on Friday and so today we all got together at our house for a family lunch. Even the sun came out for a minute or two:-)
Last weekend it was our granddaughter's 6th birthday. The weather was on our side then and the lunch was in DD's garden!

It is nearly time to "do things" with plums. We picked the first bowl full yesterday. All three plum trees are laden with fruit, but luckily they all are different varieties, so they are not all ready at the same time. Although I don't know how many will end up on the ground after the winds we have been having.

I haven't had much time for stitching this week, but after everyone left this afternoon, I did manage to finish the second block of the Scandinavian Christmas quilt. These are blocks no1 and no2 stitched together.

I wish you all a very good week!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

new books

There are some new additions to my bookshelves I would like to share with you.

Firstly, this lovely book, just published,
"Folk Quilt Applique" by Clare Kingslake.

Back in June I read about this new book, which was due to be published shortly, on Cupcake Cottons blog and I new that I had to have it. The book arrived this morning and I just could not wait to open the package. As I did not know the author before, will I be disappointed? Would it be full of projects I will not have any interest in making, as it often happens when you buy a book you haven't had a chance to browse through?
I was pleasantly surprised. The title is self explanatory. The 20 projects included in the book are all very nice, I would like to make all of them, if only the time would allow! I like all the designs and especially, I love the colours and fabrics Clare Kingslake is using.

"Embroidered Textiles" by Sheila Paine, another recent addition to my home. I say home, because it is the kind of book you want around, to browse through when you are in the mood, so it is living on our coffee table for now.
Quote from the back page: "For lovers of embroidery, collectors of stitch, and even artists working in the medium, this study of pattern will provide rich pickings."
240 pages, 508 illustrations, 362 in colour - it covers embroideries from East to West, their applications, symbolism, meanings of various designs and colours. Have you noticed how much there is of the colour red in embroideries around the world?
"Red is the most powerful, the most vibrant, the most exhilarating of colours: it is the blood of life and of death." "Red threads and fabrics are associated with spirit worship and demons, with youth and marriage, with talismanic charms and secret powers. It is predominant colour in all tribal and peasant embroidery, but is used in two entirely different ways - to protect and to mark."
I have looked through this book number of times now, but there is still so much to see and read. It is a beautiful book for any embroiderer or anyone interested in embroideries.

"Embroidery Techniques from East and West" by Minni Srivastava:

I found this book when I was looking for inspirations after I attended a workshop "Indian Stitchery", about which I told you before.
The book explores Indian embroidery techniques and its uses in the western embroidery, including quilting and beading. This is a very good "follow on" book to my workshop, which I will find very useful.

"Textiles of Central and South America" by Angela Thompson:

"A fascinating exploration of the textiles of Central and South America", design and production, fibres and threads, embroidery, beadwork and various other thread crafts.
Another beautifully produced book for anyone interested in textiles from that part of the world.
I bought this book to help me in a research for a project, about which I will tell you you later, but I will enjoy this book for a long time to come.

Monday, 11 July 2011

fruity Saturday

It is that time of year when summer fruits are in abundance and you just have to do something with them, so I dedicated last Saturday to FRUIT.
The start to the day was very pleasant, with morning walk in the woods and picking (and eating) wild strawberries. We also found our first forest mushrooms of the year. Not a great find, but it is a start.

After the breakfast my kitchen became a production line. I must tell you that my kitchen is very, very small.

Firstly some jam. A friend of mine gave me lots of blackcurrants from her garden,
which I turned into 8 jars of lovely jam.

Apricots and cherries were used in a cake.

A punnet of ripe strawberries became ice cream.

And after all that I decided to make a beetroot salad, just to take a break from the fruit!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

another Jacobean

I enjoyed my last project so much, that I went back to another embroidery started some time ago, "Floral Delight" in the Jacobean style. This time I am working with space-dyed threads on silk.

"The terms Jacobean and Crewel embroidery can be often confusing. Crewel embroidery refers to any embroidery done using crewel wool - a two-ply worsted wool used for surface stitching.
The term Jacobean embroidery refers more to a style of embroidery.
During the 1600s England imported vast quantities of painted cottons from India, via the East India Company. These cottons featured designs like the Tree of Life, exotic flowers, birds and animals. These designs became very popular and were copied and used in the embroidery of the time. This style of embroidery flourished under the reign of King James 1, from whose full Latin name, Jacobus Brittaniae Rex, the term Jacobean was derived. Beautiful pieces of embroidery were stitched in the Jacobean style using crewel wool."

The above quote is from a book "Embroidery Techniques Using Space-Dyed Threads" by Via Laurie.
As this is the third project I am making from this book, it certainly was a good investment!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Jacobean embroidery

At last I finished a project, started in March workshop with lovely Beppy Berlin, called "Jacobean with a Difference".
Although Jacobean embroidery is traditionally stitched in wool threads, Beppy introduced us to a different interpretation, using a mixture of metallic threads and organza, next to cotton and silk threads, with a touch of goldwork with some kid leather.
Beppy always brings a lot of her own beautiful work to show and inspire us. For most of us it was the first time we used a kid leather and organza in our embroidery, so it was this part we all stitched first, while under Beppy's supervision. The concentration! And yes, this was all I went home with!

But I did enjoy this type of embroidery very much and I was determined to finish it eventually and not just put it in a draw....

Finished "Jacobean with a Difference"

It was also the first time I used lovely Pearsall's silk threads, so lovely to stitch with.

Threads: Pearsall's threads - shades 157, 159, 347, 076
               Anchor stranded cotton - shade 261
                                                       + pale green shade which no longer has a label
               Gutermann metallic - silver
Kid leather from Golden Hinde

Sunday, 3 July 2011


I have been playing a hostess, we had a friend of DH staying for a long weekend, so no time to stitch. Fortunately it has been nice enough to have BBQs and eat outside.
The "boys" had been doing some sightseeing, so there were not under my feet all the time. I even managed to take some pictures of the roses. They are loving the dry and sunny weather we have been having and at last they are showing their full beauty.

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