Friday 29 June 2018

Summer at Kew: the Rose Garden

The main problem with visiting somewhere like Kew Gardens is that you come home with a frankly ridiculous quantity of photos filling up your camera roll.

There are just so many lovely things to photograph, particularly if you're wandering round on your own instead of chatting with friends. I find if I'm visiting places with friends I see something lovely and say "ooh, look at that, isn't it lovely" but if I'm on my own I express that same "ooh" by taking a photo!

As you may have already gathered, that's what happened when I explored the rose garden at Kew one summer.

It was a beautiful day and the roses were looking (and smelling) fabulous. I spent ages walking from bush to bush, admiring individual flowers and then standing back to soak in the flower-filled vistas.

Just like when I visited during magnolia season, I was far from the only person wandering around gazing at the flowers in a bit of a daze!

I ended up chatting to quite a few of my fellow rose-admirers, some of whom had come from the other side of the world and others who lived just down the road and came to Kew every week or so for a quiet walk.

Kew's rose garden is located behind the Palm House, so you also get to enjoy the curved lines of the glasshouse as you roam around peering at petals. The formal borders of the rose garden are quite a contrast to the lush greenery inside the Palm House - exploring one and then the other would be a very enjoyable combination.

Ah, there's just so much floral loveliness! I would apologise for filling this blog post with quite so many rose pictures but I'm not actually sorry at all.

Want to read more about my visits to Kew Gardens? Click here!

If you're a fan of roses, you may enjoy this post about Queen Mary's Gardens in Regent's Park. For more brilliant blooms, check out the Camellia Festival at Chiswick House.

Click here to browse my entire archive of travel posts.

Tuesday 26 June 2018

April & May in Pictures

With 2018 rolling rapidly onwards, it's time for a quick look back at what I was blogging and Instagramming in April and May.

In April...

... I finished my patchwork mini squares blanket and blogged about the six and a half year process of making it...

... shared a snap of my scrappy cross stitch project (which is now almost as colourful as that blanket!)...

... started a new Instagram account to showcase my collection of Post Office posters (I haven't had much time to devote to this yet, but I hope to be updating it frequently this summer)...

... stitched a cross stitch pattern to celebrate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle...

... bought some new books (which were both quite delightful!)...

... and had a Book Week here on my blog, reviewing Mandalas to Embroider, Craft a Life You Love, and Creative Marker Art and Beyond.

... I also started my 100 Day Project (which I need to write about properly sometime soon!) and took part in Art vs Artist on Instagram, which prompted a really interesting discussion in my social media feeds about what being an artist means to each of us and who "counts" as an artist (I personally don't think of myself as an artist, though I occasionally make things I would describe as textile art).

In April I also blogged about my visit to Oxford's Exeter College, Kew's Palm House and magnificent magnolias ,and the joys of Kew in the spring, wrote an update on my flat renovation project, and shared a felt cake tutorial with my newsletter subscribers.

I also set up an archive page for my travel blog posts and took a time-travelling trip back through eleven years of craft blogging. This was meant to be the start of a monthly series but turned out to be quite a time-consuming post to put together so I'll be making this an occasional series instead, taking a trip through my blog's archive whenever I have a time to do so.

In May...

... I shared a tutorial for making layered felt flowers with my newsletter subscribers (I'll be sharing the link to this pattern in July's newsletter so there's still time to subscribe and get this free project!)...

... blogged about three ideas ideas for using felt flower brooch tutorials...

... watched the Royal Wedding while working on GDPR paperwork (so fun!) and making preparations to move my newsletter to a shiny new service...

... wrote about the evolution of my rainbow blanket...

... started (and finished!) binding my Christmas quilt, and blogged about the long process of making it (part one, part two).

I also shared some of my favourite photos from my local walks, and developed a new level of respect for fashion bloggers after having to take pictures of myself for a post about 5 ways to customise a denim jacket!

This spring I also had a lot of FEELINGS about using social media (as a designer/maker sharing my work but also just as a person existing in the world) and ended up deciding to take a break from Twitter for the summer.

Social media is one of those things that affects different people in different ways, and the noise and stress of Twitter was definitely starting to outweigh the chatty social fun side for me. Maybe I'll be pining for it again come September? We shall see!

Want regular updates without visiting my blog to check for new posts? You can find me on Instagram and Facebook or subscribe to my weekly(ish) newsletter.  

Friday 22 June 2018

My Flat in Progress, Summer 2017: Carpet!

After a hectic few months of DIY projects, we pressed pause on my flat renovation in early May last year.

My parents were busy house hunting, then getting ready for a cross-country move... and then they had their own DIY projects to worry about as they settled into their new place and got things fixed up and redecorated to suit them.

They'd spent months helping me work on my flat, and now it was my turn to help them out so I spent a large chunk of the summer living in their spare room and working out of a suitcase. It was a little chaotic, but I'd been living out of boxes for a while anyway and it was kinda nice to take a break from all the dust and DIY.

We did get one important job ticked off my flat To Do List last summer, though: getting some new carpet! (Yay!).

My dad and I took a trip back to my flat one very sunny weekend, with a carload full of boxes and furniture that I'd not yet moved out of my parents' spare bedroom. I ordered carpet and underlay and got the carpet fitter booked in, then it was time to take up the old laminate flooring in my spare room and living room.

We worked as a team, my dad taking the flooring up and me carrying it down the stairs and across the street to load it into the boot of the car ready for a trip to the tip.

Do I recommend this as a fun activity to do on one of the hottest days of the year? I do not.

It was great to get rid of the laminate, though, and have everything prepped for the carpet fitter.

The bright, white, empty spaces of the spare room and living room were quite a contrast to the mess that the other rooms in my flat were in at this point. Very little furniture + lots of bags and boxes full of stuff = chaos!

Carpet fitting day rolled round (exactly a year ago today, in fact!)... and I developed a bit of a crush on the colours in the underlay. So pretty.

The underlay got fitted...

... followed by the carpet, which is nothing fancy but looks super swish next to the old thin carpet in my hallway!

It turns out that getting new carpet is VERY EXCITING. Even if the actual carpet you've bought is not exciting at all, it's just so... new! And carpet-y!

Of course, when you get new carpet you've gotta lie on the floor and take a bunch of "Yay! New carpet!" selfies. Them's the rules. 

More flat updates sometime soon...

Monday 18 June 2018

Scrappy Patchwork Cross Stitch: Another Colourful Work-in-Progress.

As well as having an actual patchwork quilt in progress, one of my other UFOs (UnFinished Objects) is a cross stitch homage to patchwork quilts: a colourful patchwork of blocks stitched from Xs of thread instead of fabric.

I started this cross stitch back in 2014, as a way to make use of those scrappy bits of leftover embroidery thread which aren't big enough to be worth keeping but still have a few stitches left in them.
By March 2015 I'd stitched 23 little blocks of colour...

... and by June that year it had grown to 40-something blocks and looked like this:

I've been working on this in stops and starts over the years. I save up thread scraps when I have them, then sit down to add a little batch of blocks when I've got a decent amount of thread saved up.

I guess I could add a block at a time, each time I have a piece of leftover thread, but I quite like spending a few relaxing hours working on this from time to time. Plus, adding a bunch of colours at once helps me make the randomness of this project more of a controlled randomness - I can spread out the colours more easily, and get a more pleasing mix of tones and shapes than I think I would end up with if I added a block each time I had a scrap of thread to use up.

I like the randomness of this project and how the colour palette (and the speed at which it's growing) is entirely dictated by what other projects I'm working on, and the luck of what size thread scraps I'm left with... but I also want it to be something I love the look of when it's finished!   

By October 2015 it looked like this...

... and it grew a little in July and August 2016.

I didn't photograph it for a while, just quietly collected leftover threads...

... and added blocks in little batches, until it December last year when it looked like this:

That photo ended up being really popular on Instagram after it got featured by A Beautiful Mess (very exciting!) and quite a few people asked me for the pattern. I don't think this is something I could really do a proper pattern for, though, as I'd have to find matching colours for soooo many random bits of thread.

I am thinking about drawing a chart of the blocks when it's finished (in case anyone wants to copy the exact pattern of shapes I've chosen) but really the best way to replicate this project would be to use your own leftover threads from your stitching projects and make your own unique patchwork piece. I find it a really relaxing project to work on, and it's hugely satisfying creating something so colourful from scraps that would otherwise have just been thrown away.

At the moment it looks like this:

As you can see, I've decided to make this piece a square one instead of filling the whole of the fabric. This is because a) I think it looks great as a square (and it'll look fabulous when its framed) and b) I wanted to reign it in a little so I don't end up cross stitching little coloured blocks forever.

Now there's a limited number of spaces left to fill up, the end is in sight... but who know how long it will take me to actually have the scraps (and the time) to fill them and get this piece finished!