Tweedle dee

Tweed made a huge impact on Autumn interiors, (it is a recurring theme) our leather sofa needed something warm, nothing is nicer than tweed and wool. 
I decided to make a set of cushions working loosely with deer, so created this little friendly chap. The blue is an dissolvable pen which disappears once the embroidery was done, in a little water. 
Hand embroidery is a pleasurable delight, while slower than a sewing machine, I love the connection with creating each stitch – there are times when hand made is nicer to do than machine stitching,  I love the irregularity outlining the deer in blanket stitch and using stem stitch to follow the curves of the antlers. 

Then it is a case of trimming the tweed to a square and edge strips to frame it. 

 I love the way the deer’s body is a diagonal while the strips are fairly straight, it creates a lovely contrast.

The back was made easily; lay a zip under the folded bottom edge, stitch in place. Fold the top piece with a deep fold, (enough to cover the zip). It is simply a case of following the bottom stitched edge for about 2 inches, then going vertically up until you reach the other zip edge. Stitch along until you are 2 inches away from the side, stitch vertically down over the zip again and then stitch along to the edge. It creates a lovely concealed zip effect on the back keeping the cushion nice and soft with no hard zipper.

I always push stuffing into the corners of the cushion, it creates a nice neat edge then add the cushion. 

I made another three cushions with the tweed, creating a trio. The left hand deer is a machine embroidery pattern, the patchwork squares were angled again to give a more interesting effect.  The blanket is a beautiful blue welsh wool we bought at the Country Living Christmas Fair. 
Now the sofa is a cosy warm place to watch the crackle of the log fire hearing the wind and rain pelting against the window, a perfect winter’s evening. 

When the red red robin goes bob bob bobbin along!

It was while out on one of my dog walks recently that I noticed just how charming ivy is: the leaf shapes are so elegant, the deep rich green with its darker veins are so pretty creating a lovely patch of  green while all around me the trees are becoming bare. I love the way it flows and softens the lines of the fence where I was walking – the way the leaves grow smaller along the vine. I also spotted some gorgeous variegated ivy in my own garden! 
Nature always has beauty, no matter what the season – frosted ivy was a wonder to behold. It has been there all year, but my focus has always gone to the scented lavender or the bright geraniums, but at this time of the year I begin to see the structure and beauty of those plants who remain the supporting cast in the garden. 

I was inspired by my walk to create a winter wreath, and decided to give ivy the star treatment! 
I really enjoy using needle felting as it allows me to create more realistic natural patterns, I combined them with the multitudes of tapestry wool -I purchase in vintage shops – often a whole abandoned kit can be bought for as little as a few pounds – I keep it in a small suitcase that resembles a box full of colour! 
Christmas Roses or hellebores, are so lovely too – but overshadowed most of the time by the more colourful varieties. However, they flower when winter has its grip and june roses are a distant memory or promises of summer to come while the branches of the roses look stark like winter skeletons of summer plants. 

The robin adds a splash of colour to the wreath, alongside some small red berries. He is created with a combination of felt, wool and merino floss.

It is easy to use the wool to create the wings on the robin, laying them across the body, using the felting needle to fix it. The beaded eye gives a brightness to the robin and gives him a little sparkle.

The felting gives a fluffiness that gives the robin his plumage, and softens his shape a little.

As you can see some of the ivy leaves are simply cut – with the variegation created with simple use of a felt tip pen!

I also laid several different colours of wool to make up the vines of the ivy, fixing all the elements with a hot glue gun. The leaves lay across the wreath, using a pen to push the centre of the ivy leaf to give it a natural shape.

If you want to have a go yourself you can purchase the wreath here, they are from Gisella Graham who I really love. Heidi feathers does a great beginner felting pack here which includes everything you need to start creating your own wreath. If you would like pattens for the ivy leaves and robin just drop me a line or you can sign up for the course I am running at Clothkits on Saturday 30th November.  

January snowfall

It was a lovely surprise to wake up to snow this morning – we don’t often have it in this part of the country. The weather forecast was for rain this afternoon so I took an early morning stroll with the dog and my camera. 

There is a wonderful peacefulness that seems to come with a snowfall, sounds are muffled and for a moment it feels as if I have stepped into a christmas card. I love that first step onto a pristine white path – the sound as the snow compresses under my feet –  the footprint patterns and the dog bounding around enjoying the new scents. 
The gold fish pond is frozen over, the brown skeleton weeping willows stand like silent sentinels waiting for the thaw of spring. I feel as if I am the only one awake in this silent world,  a lovely way to start the day. 

Leek and potato soup

Some things are simply better home made, and no matter how much you pay for soup it really can’t compete with the satisfying flavour and wholesomeness of home made soup. 
While you can eat this soup cold as a summer soup, (it is know as vichyssoise) I prefer it warm with bread rolls crisp from the oven. 
Simply take two leeks, wash and trim, then slice finely, then add small cubes of potato, (around two large baking potatoes) allow to cook very slowly in butter, with the saucepan lid on. You can add a generous helping of cracked black pepper. It is this process that is key to making really good soup and if you can allow the leeks to gently cook for around half an hour with just the occasional stir. 
When you feel that the leeks and potato are all soft and mushy, add 1/2 pint of hot vegetable or chicken stock. Turn up the heat slightly and allow the mixture to bubble for around 10 minutes or so with the lid off the saucepan. 
Finally add half a pot of creme fraiche and stir in, waiting for the soup to return to the boil. You can leave it thick and chunky or blend with a hand blender to make it smooth. 
It really is a joy to eat, not just warming and satisfying but good for you too.