I've been dropping hints all over the place for the last couple of weeks about an exciting project I have been working on. Today, all can be revealed! Back in the summer, when I was laying about in the hammock, I got an email from Celia wondering if I'd like to make some things with a fabric collection she was putting together. My reply was immediate - I would LOVE to. How could I possibly turn down such an offer?! I have been a huge fan of Celia's designs and have cheekily framed a few of her cards to turn them into wall art in both my bedroom and kitchen.
A few weeks later, I received a very tempting parcel that was ripped open in a very exciting manner.
The fabric that it revealed set my heart aflutter. I literally couldn't wait to get stuck in.
Celia said I could do whatever I wanted with them and so I decided that I'd add some other fabrics to show them off. I've been wanting to use some Liberty tana lawn for a while and thought that the small flowery designs would compliment Celia's fabrics well. I also added some stronger greys to frame some of the blocks. With rotary cutter in hand, I was soon on my way to chopping up and recreating my own twist on things. I emailed Celia just to say that I hoped she wouldn't be too horrified that I was having a whale of a time cutting her gorgeous fabric up!
First up (naturally!) was a cushion. The heart design was crying out for a log cabin block! And my knitting chair in the conservatory was crying out for a replacement for the rather dog-eared wooly number that has adorned it for the last five years.
I love the bold splash of red it has given that corner and so got cracking on making something for my kitchen too. Next up was a table runner. It's really tricky to photograph things on my kitchen table as the maple wood always makes everything very yellow-y. The runner is also quite long so it was hard to get a good picture.
I've decided to leave it until next month to use it on the table as it has quite a *whispers* festive feel to it.
I have used all my scraps up by finally making a couple of little coaster sets too. One for me, and one can be found in my Etsy shop.
You can find Celia's Spoonflower shop here. I am very tempted by the Sea Hearts!
And now for the good part!
With the remaining fabric I made a further two cushions; one is on its way to Celia to say thank you for letting me play with your fabrics, and the second is up for grabs as a giveaway.
Only the cushion cover is included, and it measures 45cm x 45cm. As with all my cushions, it is machine-pieced and -quilted and hand-finished.
All you have to do is leave me a comment here to be in with a chance to win. For a second entry, tweet me - I'm @ttcdowling
The giveaway will close next Friday 11 October and I will draw a winner on Saturday 12 October.
*edited to add: please try to leave an email address for me to contact you to enter the giveaway (noreplyblogger isn't very helpful!)
My poor neglected blog! It's been sitting here in the background all summer patiently waiting for me to come and pay it some attention.
So where was I? Ah, yes, flowers. Plenty of them. The glorious summer that was 2013 gave me the cutting garden that I've always dreamed of.
I have had literally vaseful after vaseful of them for the last six months. I give them away by the bucketload and I can make an impromptu gift at the snip of my scissors.
I have done barely any crafting; no quilting or sewing at all, a little crochet in an attempt to get through the stash and last week as I felt the season had changed for sure, I cast on a pair of socks. All my time has been spent outdoors, and I have loved every minute of it.
Back in July, my allotment looked relatively tidy and was just starting to give me fruit and vegetables on a regular basis.
Then it went slightly mad. This is how it looked last week:
I could be working down there and be completely hidden from view. This weekend saw the start of the big tidy up, but let's talk about that another time.
When I wasn't outside in my own patch, I managed to grab a couple of weekends away camping and a trip to the Moreton Show, where I came away dreaming of livestock and wonderful different breeds of poultry. Ok, so maybe not this splendid chap!
Other days have been spent with friends and just generally catching up.
Now the nights are drawing in and I find myself craving the cosy side of crafting again. And that is a very good thing as I have been thrilled to work on an exciting project that will be revealed at the end of the week.
A surprise message popped up on my Twitter page on Monday - with congratulations, I had won 2 tickets to the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show from Sophie Conran! There may or may not have been an excited squeal. Then I went into panic mode because my reply kept failing so I had to anxiously wait for 24 hours to see if it was actually true. Time felt as though it was ticking away as the only day I was going to be able to honour the tickets was yesterday as my week was all accounted for. In a flurry of emails on Tuesday evening, it all fell into place. Rather aptly, considering my backyard companions (scroll down through the post!), Sophie is one of a team of designers who have created a henhouse, all of which are being auctioned, with the proceeds going to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.
After a journey that comprised of a car drive to my Mum's (who was my companion for the day), a bus, a tube, a train and finally a boat down the short stretch of the Thames from Hampton Court Station to the entrance of the show, we finally arrived to a gloriously sunny day. Perhaps it was the soaring temperatures that drew me to the cooler coloured plantings. This Willow Pattern garden reminded me of Alice.
This garden won Best in Show and I loved the planting and the idea behind it. I'm thinking of adding something watery to my garden in the autumn. The agapanthus were absolutely enormous - I must read up on how to increase the flower size on mine, which has been in decline over the years.
I think this was actually my favourite stand in the show. I love everything about it. It was by Wild Thyme Nursery in the Floral Marquee.
I made notes and took photos of many plants I would like to add to my garden, including this dahlia from The National Dahlia Collection.
This rose, that I will be on the look out for in the autumn to plant as a bare-root plant. So pretty.
I think finding a spot for this climbing rose is a high priority, with its namesake patrolling the garden on an hourly basis!
I loved the Franchi Seed stand in the Growing for Taste marquee. We arrived just after they'd had a royal visitor apparently!
If the mood took you, there was copious amounts of opportunity to spend, spend, spend. I could only dream ... about the greenhouse of my dreams ... maybe one day ...
I did concede to one purchase other than a packet of seeds! I bought the 2 clematis shown here to use with the willow support I made last year. They are fabulously healthy plants and full of buds and promise. Cool spectrum colours again, and a reminder of a wonderful day out.
It was always on the cards that there would be a cushion to sit atop my new quilt. It is the best way to use up the scraps from a bigger project and I wanted to eek out the Flea Market Fancy love as much as possible.
I decided on making the back-to-front version of the quilt block by using the plain white as the flower.
It gave me lots of scope to keep playing with my perle threads for the hand-quilting. There is something extraordinarily satisfying about a simple running stitch, both in terms of actually doing it and the finished result.
So my bed now has a summer look, and one that I am extremely happy with. Although with this wonderful warm spell, the quilt is being thrown off with abandon!
The colour in my garden goes through cyclical changes as it progresses through the seasons. Spring starts with the welcome splash of sunny yellow with the narcissi and daffodils. It then gives way to the riot of colour that is the tulips. These are followed by the swathe of purple of the alliums, drawing my eye to the bottom border away from the by now rather messy tulip foliage. My acorn-shaped alliums are in full bud still and yet to flower, as are my few remaining allium cristophii, ready to explode firework-like at any minute.
At the moment it is a calming blue, with these autumn-sown cornflowers flowering like mad and I can barely keep up with cutting them and bringing them indoors.
They are wild, straggly and I love them!
I also sowed nigella in the autumn and although not quite as tall as their neighbour, they are flowering prolifically too. They are also providing me with endless photo opportunities as I find their flowers fascinating.
They are great for cutting and when they go over, the seed heads are almost too good for throwing away.
I'm a little over-excited that soon I'll be cutting delphiniums too. I've said before that it feels such a luxury to be able to cut from my own garden and these were top of my list to have on the cutting patch.
Soon, the colour palette will change again, with hot pinks and acid brights emerging. I have the first roses out which have already added some zing to the border. What's flowering in your garden?
Things have been pretty quiet around here in this space but I can prove that I have been far from idle. Last year I made the decision to take back my allotment space that is nestled beyond my back fence. I wrote a post here and talked about my first tentative steps in reclaiming this bit of land again.
It's funny how your memory plays tricks on you, and I can hardly believe that it once looked like the photo above. With a bit of help, I soon had my blank canvas to start playing with again.
Having been generously spread with rather pongy manure and then covered up in tarpaulins overwinter, this spring I started to make my 2-D plans that had been scribbled and sketched in my notebook come to life.
My Dad and I made some triangular beds out of some old used decking that we scavenged from our local nursery and I began to divide the area up in to workable areas. The triangle beds are for my vegetables and in the photo above from a couple of months ago, there are garlic and broad beans that I had planted in pots in January.
The middle section is for my cutting patch and the section at the bottom, beyond the sweetpea wigwams, is for fruit.
The raspberries that I planted in November have started to show some green and the thought of harvesting some later in the year is about the only thing that is exciting No2 about my latest venture.
The strawberry patch is looking much healthier and promising since this photo too, with flowers abound which can only mean one thing: fruit. I'll be watching like a hawk to see that they don't get eaten before I get to pick them and I have netting at the ready.
Meanwhile in the greenhouse, it has been very full over the last three months and I have just about planted everything out now. I adore growing things from seed. The anticipation and nurturing are all good for the soul. Followed by the sight of germination and the forming of the first true leaves, it is the most satisfying thing I can think of.
There has been much carting about of compost and grit in an effort to try and improve the heavy soil and my wheelbarrow and I are firm friends and almost inseparable!
I even wore out my wellies!
And now it is starting to actually produce things. Radishes are the easiest and quickest of seeds to grow and it's a good thing, because I love them! At the weekend I sowed another half row of beautifully coloured Milano ones.
I'm pretty certain most things are dreadfully late this year, as is the case in my garden (I've never had tulips still flowering in June), but I'm looking forward to broad beans as promised by the gorgeous flowers on my plants.
It has been the perfect project to take me through what feels like an eternal winter and the most miserable of springs. The hours I have spent over there have kept me fit and happy and I can see that it is just going to keep on giving.