Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Serious Addiction...

I do have to confess to a serious addiction.  Let me say, it doesn't do any harm, (apart from to my credit card) and it doesn't make me a bad person!  I am addicted to fabric! It is quite true to say that I can sniff out a fabric shop at 50 paces.

In fact, a couple of years back, husband took me out for the day on our Wedding Anniversary, which is in May.  It was a lousy day for the time of year, so instead of a lovely day browsing antique shops in Arundel, we came back via Tangmere,  where quelle surprise there happens to be a Military Air Museum!  Well, I have to confess to enjoying that particular jaunt more than I thought I would - or was it the bacon butty with a mug of tea in The Mess?  On leaving the museum, we drove into Chichester, which is a town that I don't know very well, and I spotted this shop on the side of the road.

Now this shop was pretty unremarkable, its name is The Eternal Maker, which does imply some sort of craft activity but the window was just full of brown boxes...instinct kicked in..."stop the car, that's fabric shop" I shouted to a very bemused husband who had a "yeah right" look on his face.  Sure enough, inside was a veritable cornucopia of lovely craft items, beads, braid, buttons and a huge room at the back stuffed to the gunnels with fabric!  One happy lady!

Last Friday, we had a little impromptu trip to Bath.  No visit to Bath is complete without a stop at my favourite shop Country Threads where I bought these beauties...Fabulous French print patchwork fabric and of course, I am a girl..... if in doubt get it in all colourways!

I will make it into Lavender sachets and Lavender boots to go in to The Little Blue Barn,  a small shop that I have a retail interest in.
Edwardian Lavender Boots made by Tabbycat Interiors

Tabbycat Interiors at The Little Blue Barn

Christmas at The Little Blue Barn

I love french fabrics, and furniture, and food, and well, France.  Paris is our favourite city (along with New York) and we don't waste an opportunity to visit when we can.  From one of my Facebook links I found this article about a Paris Apartment.  Check out the link.  A Paris apartment left undisturbed for 70 years, after the owner fled at the start of WWII and didn't return...there is the makings of a good story here for anyone with the talent to write it. I  have to say, I am itching to have a good rummage around this!   

Finally, staying on the Paris theme, I want to share a photo with you all.  My favourite photo.  

Our Padlock on the Pont l'Archeveche

 It may look like an old padlock to you, but to me it represents how romantic my husband is.  A few years ago we crossed the Pont l'Archeveche, which is just behind the Notre Dame,  (on our way to a patchwork shop funnily enough).  It is known as the Bridge of Love because it is full of padlocks that couples have attached and then thrown the key into to Seine.   I am sure there are many similar bridges around the world.

The following wedding anniversary, guess what I got?  We duly planned our trip to Paris and joined the hundreds of other couples who are now attached "forever" to a narrow road bridge in France!

Everytime we go back, we have to visit our padlock and this was taken on our last visit in October of this year.

Much love to all.  Michele xx

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Time spent blogging is not time wasted...

I have to confess to spending more time than I should have today, surfing various blogs and marvelling at the beautiful work out there.  As if I haven't got enough on my plate with the beautiful samplers that seem to somehow have been ordered from The Scarlet Letter,  I found a couple of others that I just simply fell in love with.

One is these beautiful cottages, which are available singly but of course, in my usual way I will do them as one big sampler.  Don't know what happened but I just pressed the "checkout button" and hey presto, they are on their way!   I think I will do one a month, along side my other projects.

Edgar's Cottages
County Cottages as stitched by Edgar
This beautiful work was done by Edgar at  (If you read this Edgar, hope you don't mind me publishing your work).  Edgar gives lots of tips on his blog site, as well as lots of recipes and movie information.  Well worth a visit.

The Other is this amazing Alphabet, which unfortunately seems to be discontinued, but I am sure that the patterns will appear on Ebay at some stage, so I will keep my fingers crossed.  Maybe, it's God's way of telling me - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Alphabet Sampler as stitched by I don't know who

Much love to all, and happy stitching (and surfing) 

Michele xxxx

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

I must do this one.

Searching through the Scarlet Letter website, I came across this little beauty and thought how appropriate!

Russian Rooster
Russian Rooster

So one of my challenges in Nicola's Scarlet Letter year, is my lovely little Scarlet Russian Rooster.

Much love from a very "below zero" Dorset  


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Victorian Sampler Alphabet, The Halfway Stage...

I began The Victoria Sampler Alphabet series in August after finishing The Blue Ribbon Sampler.  It is 24 small alphabet panels, which can be stitched onto one large piece of linen to make a huge wall hanging.   I was with the picture framer the other day, sorting out the framing of The Blue Ribbon Sampler, and I don't think she quite believed me when I said that the next project she would get was nearly as tall as me!  (I am 5')

I fell in love with this piece  when it was featured (briefly) on "Kirstie's Handmade Britain", last year.  Kirstie  visited the Royal Welsh Show, (where I have to say, there seem to be the MOST AMAZING craft tents), and a lady called Dilys Morgan had won best in show with this very wall hanging   I freeze framed the TV, committed as much to memory as possible and went and "googled" it.

I love the unusual and the quirky, and the sheer size of this really appealed.

Well it seems to have been a long time in getting there, but I finally finished letter "L" of my Victoria Sampler.  I am now officially halfway.  I am loving the challenge of it and as each row is quite small, with some serious sewing time,  it is possible to achieve a fair amount.  I guess though, it is like all things, some days seem to be easier than others.

I have never used charms or beads before and I love how, just a sprinkle here and there adds a new dimension to the piece

The range of stitches is quite amazing and such a good education in technique, which I am sure will stand me in good stead for the future.  Each letter panel has items depicted, that begin with that letter, and each stitch used also begins with that letter (with a bit of artistic license I am sure).  It has all been so carefully designed and for anyone who doesn't want to attempt something so large, easy to just pick certain special letters.

 I am definitely a "big project" girl and this ticks all the boxes!   Onward to Letter M......

Saturday, 8 December 2012

A Girl Named Inky

Introducing "Inky" my 1964/1971 Morris Minor Van.

She is my friend and my workhorse, and I have was totally lost without her earlier this year, as she was off the road having some serious TLC.  Like all us old girls, the rust sets in, and Inky went to a "beautician" named Steve, and had some serious respraying and welding.  During that process she lost the telephone number part of her sign and so signwriter Terry came over and in the freezing cold (bless him) he replaced the telephone number and now Inky is complete again.

Inky at the Sopley Garden Fete
Every year, we host the Sopley Garden Fete, which raises money for the village church.  The summer was so wet that this year it was moved to September, which fortunately was a glorious day weatherwise.  It was Inky's first outing after her re-fit, albeit, telephone number free!

A new committee has breathed new live into this annual event and this year it was a three day marathon, with hog roast and band and beer!  I took the opportunity, with my friend Sue,who has a fantastic shop in Christchurch, Thomas and Lucia (check her out at to have a stand.

Tabbycat Interiors and Thomas and Lucia

Fabrics and Cushions
Inky "helping" out

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my gorgeous Joe that morning.  Just  a few days short of his 16th birthday.  The last of my boys.  The greatest gift we can give our pets, is to do for them what we are not able to do for ourselves.  

My darling Joecat
It was really hard, but the right thing to do and he was Gentleman Joe to the very end.   I miss you Joe.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A Scarlet Letter Year....

I am so delighted and excited to be taking part in Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year, and also delighted to share a Scarlet Letter Year with her.

Clicking on Scarlet Letter on the left hand side of this blog and (it should) take you through to her blog where you can find all the details and the rules.

                                                                   ***WARNING  ***

This is like going through the Looking Glass, you will be tempted beyond all belief by the goodies that are on offer!  I DID go through the Looking Glass and have to confess to having a rather full basket of goodies ready to stretch my credit card to its max.

As I am already part of the SDW SAL, my first entry will be Scarlet Letter's SDW, which we are already in to week 5 of.  

Week 5 of SDW, SAL
I am so looking forward to seeing how everyone progresses, and what projects people chose, and memories and sharing and new friends.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Where does the time go?

So we are now  four weeks into our SAL of the Scarlet Letter's SDW.  Six of us from around the world, each posting our progress at the end of each week.  I can't believe just how excited I am by this.   From stumbling over Nicola's site a couple of months ago, I now have new friends to stitch with, and a whole community of like minded peeps to share and learn from.

So fours weeks in and almost at the end of the first "row".  I can't believe how much I can get done by just devoting one day/evening a week to this project.  

The colours are so lovely and subtle and I am so glad that I used AVS instead of the DMC alternative.  The threads shimmer in the light.  For the first time I am on 35ct linen and it is easier that I imagined.  There is a slight "mental" adjustment needed, when swapping over from Victoria Alphabet, which I am doing on 28ct but nothing too major.

I have a cupboard that I need to paint today and I have set myself the task of finishing Letter K of the Alphabet Sampler by tonight.  A tall order, but if I knuckle down, I should just about do it.   When I have completed Letter L,  I will post some halfway pictures.

Through my new friends, all of you have such exciting sites, and have such a huge body of work, I feel so humbled.  You have all done so much beautiful work.  I love looking at the wide range of projects.  I have already been on to Scarlet Letter to order more patterns, and have wish lists with other suppliers!   I also wonder, just how many hours some of you have in your days...?

Well,  the weatherman said that it would become colder by the end of the week and he was so right.  There was a definite frost on the ground this morning when I went to let the girls out.   Dorset is now looking lovely, with all the Autumn colours.  I think the beech trees just "dumped" their leaves overnight.  The sun was out earlier, a beautiful blue sky and a lovely bite to the air but it has now turned damp and I think the night is going to be an early one today.

I can't believe that we are now at the end of November almost.  Every year we host a big dinner party for our closest friends from the Musical Society that we belong to, and last weekend was that time.  Two days spent cooking and baking, and I was totally whacked by the end of it all but it does give me the opportunity to try out some of the amazing recipes that we see on the TV.

La Tourtiere, a French Apple pie made with Filo Pastry.  I first saw this on Rick Stein's "A French Odessey" where the lady made her own Filo pastry.  I have to confess that mine was catered, by courtesy of Waitrose!  

Hazelnet Vacherin, taken from the Hairy Bikers "Book of Baking" and finally The Frasier Cake, as demonstrated by Mary Berry, on the most recent series of "The Great British Bake Off".

I did actually have a recipe for this years ago, one by the French baker Eric Lanyard, but I put it somewhere safe.....need I say more.  I would love to have decorated it more on the top, but my piping skills are not great - chocolate blobs is about my level!

Right, time for tea and the end of Letter K.  Much love to all from a very chilly and damp New Forest.

Michele xxxx

Thursday, 25 October 2012

You Have To Let Them Fly The Nest!

A momentous day today.  Velma and her chicks have finally been let out of their run, into the the BIG WIDE world that is THE ORCHARD!

There was a little bit of fisty cuffs from a couple of the others.  Poor things, they have such sort memories, that they can't remember, that before her maternity leave, Velma was one of them.  It all seems to have settled down now Velma is teaching her young ones how to scratch in the leaves.

Jack Sparrow the proud father....
has been over to check all is well, but, being a man I have a sneaky feeling that he really has one thing on this mind!

I am like an old mother hen myself, and keep running out to check that they are all ok.   Not much work is going to get done here today, so am tempted to take a cup of tea, and some sewing and go and sit in the Orchard, but that would just be toooooo sad.

Let go Michele, you have to let them go!

Much love from a very overcast Dorset   xx

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Well Here Goes

Well Here Goes.....

....and it has been a bit like that.  I never thought about setting up a blog of my own, until some prompting by my new stitching friend, Nicola, from  Then, what to call myself?  Well, the three things in my life, outside husband and family, are my stitching, my cats and my chickens.  I like the play on words, which conjurers up visions of the hens sitting on the roost, their needles flying....and the stitching part covers most of my life.

During the day, I run my own soft-furnishing business,  which involves A LOT of sewing by hand and then I also enjoy patchwork and embroidery.  The latter I think I inherit from my maternal grandmother, as she was a big embroiderer, the patchwork, is completely down to me.  I just LOVE fabric and was totally inspired, when on our honeymoon, we went to Intercourse in Lancaster County and I saw the beautiful Amish quilts.

So I flit between the two.  At the moment I am on a big sampler crusade.

I have just finished the Blue Ribbon Sampler, by Olwyn Horwood.  A giant sampler, which finishes at about 1m square.  Mainly, cross stitch with some double running and two amazing drawn thread panels.  A perfect way to become familiar with drawn threadwork.

This is not the best of pictures, but I have yet to get over to the framers.

At the moment I am working on the Victoria Sampler Alphabet series,  24 small samplers stitched as one giant wall hanging.  It is a fantastic project for trying out loads of different stitches.  I have just started letter "I" so nearly half-way there.

Watch this space for some pictures.

I do tend to do big projects.  Not really a small project kind of a girl.  So was delighted to be asked by
 Nicola, ( to join her on a SAL.  We now have in total a possible five participants.  So exciting.  The the sampler we are going to stitch is SDW from The Scarlett Letter. This is an early beautiful German band sampler, quirky and big enough to appeal.   Just kitted out and ready to go.

I try, as a rule, not to have more than one project on the go but this was too good an offer to miss.  I have decided to stitch in Au Ver a Soie, which is such lovely silk.  I figure that if you are going to give your time to something, then you should buy the best materials possible.  Can't wait to start.

Oh and the cat part....well I named my business after my two tabby cats  sadly now departed and catching mice in a better place, but they were such an important part of my life, that I include them whenever I can.