Tuesday morning Pitch and Stitch - 10.00am to 1.00pm

Tuesday morning Pitch and Stitch - 10.00am to 1.00pm
This hanging from Annie Downs' Hatched and Patched book should be in every caravan as a cushion or decoration!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Knitting and stained glass!

Firstly, very pleased to get this photo from Jane who came on our knitting course - she has since made this hat and scarf (embellished with flowers as taught by Amanda) for her niece so she should be very pleased with herself!

Looks like it could have come from Monsoon!

The second nice thing that has happened is that Mark Brock, a stained glass window craftsman in East Garston, has nearly finished our window.
There were a couple of old windows rescued from my mother-in-law's father's shop - Pratt's Butcher's in Hungerford - when they moved out.  The windows sat in the barn for years and then Jeffrey put one in a wall in his garden.  They are ornate stained glass and I always thought it looked perfect in that garden wall.  The second pane was in a much worse state of repair so it continued to sit in the (open) barn for nearly 20 more years.  Driving through East Garston one day I noticed Mark was having his leaded windows repaired so I called him to ask who was doing it.  Well - following early retirement he had been on a course and had set himself up as http://www.brocksdown.co.uk/ so, we asked if he wanted a challenge!!!!
Very luckily for us he did, and he has so far renovated the two main panes:

No easy task - he and Ruth had to number each piece of glass (nearly 200 in each pane)  before taking them out of the old leading and then putting it back together again, replacing all the broken glass with new pieces.  So much work, and really painstaking but it's going to look fantastic when it's installed in our porch and nice to know there will always be a bit of Pratt at Lorne Hill Farm.

Monday, 21 November 2011

A short history of dressmaking

About 37 years ago, on the first day back at school in september, I looked excitedly at my new timetable and was thrilled to see an hour a week of sewing.  Now I was a second year - no longer a kid, and armed with a length of purple corduroy, thread and zip, I could barely contain my excitement - I was going to make a 'straight skirt'!  It was going to be beautiful, and I was going to look very grown up in it, and I was sure it was the start of a lifetime of dressmaking.
By the end of the year, after hours wrestling with taylor's chalk, unpicking seam after seam of tacking (too big according to the teacher) with a 'quick unpick' which wasn't and and finally trying to figure out how to thread the machine, which didn't look anything like my mother's, I went home with some tattered pieces of fabric and the zip still in it's packet.
Eight years ago, I wondered just how difficult it could be to 'run up' a sun dress (people who sew always talk about 'running things up') and, armed with some pale blue fabric and matching thread, enthusiastically went for it.  The dress was so awful that it went straight in the bin - both my mother and daughter said it looked like a mishapen nurse's shift.
Four days ago, I thought, I really have to crack this.
I have FINALLY made a simple, purple corduroy skirt with a zip!  It took a bit more than the two hours the pattern promised - but I've done it!!
If at first you don't succeed.......

Meanwhile, I heard from Cath who has finished the 'Trip around the World' quilt she started at our workshop earlier this Autumn - the person she made it for wanted lots of pink!_
Beautiful -well done Cath!
She's also made an appliqued quilt for her granddaughter

How lovely is that?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Old Bag

Very successful workshop today.  Sandra, the lady in the title, taught us how to make two bags.  We started with the first, and slightly more difficult (-the workshop was aimed at beginner's so they were actually both very easy, it's just that this one is lined) - which was described as 'tweedy'.  Last summer a really friendly couple from Australia, visiting family in England, stayed on the CL, and the Sheila joined us at Pitch and Stitch.  She called in another time (for the life of me I can't remember her name which isn't very nice but she was great fun) with a pile of Harris Tweed samples she had been given but couldn't take back to Australia and gave them to Sandra and me.  I decided to sew a few of them together to make my bag:

I am really pleased with it.  Anne and Sandra also made a 'shopper' but I was determined to end the day with a completely finished article, so I kept on with this.  I am going to make a shopper too - not out of tweed - now I know how, but not today!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Caravanner's news

I received a very nice letter from Linda in Bristol, enclosing a photo of her version of the Anni Downs' Caravan picture from her book 'The World as it Should Be'.  Linda made it for her friends to hang in their caravan and now she's going to make one for herself.

Below is a picture of the quilt Sheila made - also from an Annie Downs' book, but very much adapted to portray her family.  She added pictures of her church, family tree, a lighthouse and changed the faces of the characters and added figures so the Christmas dinner shows members of her family.  Sheila started it when she stayed on our CL and came up for the Hatched and Patched day.  While she sat sewing with us, her husband painted a lovely picture of our house, as seen from the CL, which is now hanging in our sitting room!

All the people who stay on our CL are always so friendly and lead such interesting lives, we miss them when we are closed but look forward to opening again in March.

I finished my poppy but it wasn't quite the success I'd hoped it would be - in fact, the response when I showed it at P and S was gales of laughter (not very kind).  I'm not sure I can wear it with pride:

Lastly, Sandra brought over the bags she's made for the Bag-making for beginner's course on wednesday.  We'll make the shopper in the morning (dead easy), then the lined, tweedy handbag in the afternoon.  The shopper can be made out of any material you like, and would be a great stocking-filler:

There are still places if anyone wants to book!!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Janet's quilt

Just got back from doing a talk on Quilts, with Sandra, to the Kennet Weaving and Spinner's Guild.  They were very welcoming and I think Sandra and I were both surprised at quite how many quilts we had to show - amazing how they mount up over time!!
Anyway, one of the ladies there said she had a bag full of hexagons and it would be nice if we could sew them up - Sandra said it would be nicer if she came out to the workshop and we could watch her sew it up, and we talked about Janet, who has been making a hexagon quilt on our Tuesday morning Pitch and Stitch sessions.  Would you believe it, I came to check on my e mails and look what Janet sent me:

All finished!!!  Isn't it lovely - and so much work, all hand stitched.  Janet sent this email at 3.06, and our talk started at about 2.30. 
Janet hasn't been to P and S recently, and we'd assumed it was because she'd had her hip done - but she hasn't, she's just in too much pain to drive.  So best wishes to Janet and we hope she gets the op sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Useful chat!

Last week the owner of Sewmaster sewing machine shop in Reading (http://www.sewmaster.co.uk/) came to give a talk on 'looking after our sewing machines' at the Market Square Quilters and show us some of the sewing machines they sell.  Well, as everyone knows who comes up to the farm, I use a £100 Toyota I bought off Price Drop TV (- we'd just got a digi box and I'd never seen shopping channels before so, when a sewing machine came up.........) and, frankly, after 4 years it's driving me mad: jamming, stalling, snapping the thread etc.  So, I decided the £529 Pfaff was the machine for me.  I came home and told Jonathan I wanted it, adding that I have never asked him to buy me anything expensive before.  He answered that just last month he'd bought me a new washing machine and dishwasher.  Lucky girl, me.
Anyway, a few days later I went out to the workshop and thought about what Mr Sewmaster had said - clean your sewing machines abut once a month.  Alien concept but since I can't sew with either of my washing machines, I thought I'd give it a go.  What a surprise!  It would seem that 4 years of lint piling up under the feed dogs can make your machine jam, stall and snap!  My Toyota is running like a dream so the hope of a Pfaff has gone up in (a puff) of smoke!!!

Meanwhile, Delia from Craven Arms joined us at Pitch and Stitch this week and brought her lovely, personalised Hatched and Patched quilts to show us:
Rotten picture I've taken but here's a detail:

Delia made the valid point that since we all buy so much fabric now, it's lovely to be able to make personalised quilts by taking the inspiring patterns in the Anni Downs' Hatched and Patched books or the Art to Heart books, and substitute some (or all) of the stitcheries with more personal pictures.  The above quilt is for Delia's sister and the one below for her son's girlfriend:
 Meanwhile, for the 'Mini Masterpieces workshop on Wednesday, I made an applique hanging of a picture Victoria drew for me when she was about 8 of Jonathan driving through the 'contry':
Which turned out like this -

and if you're wondering where Jonathan is - she only had room for his hat!!

Saturday, 29 October 2011


Forgot to post this great picture of Katrina with her very successful square!

And these are the delicious quiches I warmed up as part of our lunch:

Shame I've only just remembered to take them out!!!  They looked soooo nice before....

Crochet Day

A great start to the day as I looked out and saw all the lovely Autumn colours
Looking out over the front lawn along the valley to East Garston and Goodings hill opposite

Now that a lot of the leaves have fallen, we can just see our last caravan down on the site.  The CL season has come to an end, and we will be re-opening next march.  Hopefully we'll get a lot more crafty folk next year!

One caravan hidden among the trees

The Crochet day was great fun.  Amanda brought a selection of wool for everyone to use
and then we all got stuck in!

By lunchtime most of us had little sample pieces which looked like worms or flower pots, but by tea time there was some pretty serious crochet happening, and a lot of talk of chains, doubles, triples and squares going on!

And some of us had even got a rhythmn going!

Thank you Amanda - a great class.  Only bad thing about it is that I've got out the blanket I started crocheting three years ago, and have decided to finish that instead of finishing knitting my poppy, my knitting sampler, quilting my trip around the world, stitching my Clare Kingslake sampler, piecing my jelly roll quilt.........

Monday, 24 October 2011

Bo and Mattie

Clean (and very nearly naked!)

Jelly Roll Day

What a great day we had on saturday!  Six of us all armed with jelly rolls - some more 'handled' than others - Tricia's and mine were a disgrace, Jan and Yvonne had followed teacher Helene's instructions not to undo them before the class and hadn't even taken them out of the packaging!!
We all worked very hard, the only unpicking was when Jan lost the plot just before tea time and, convinced the teacher was wrong (there's always one) unpicked hers (surrepticiously, under the table) five times before realising that teacher was, in fact right, and there was no need to unpick!
By the end of the day we had made a very good start on our jelly roll quilts, and are all determined to finish them (hopefully I'll get forwarded some pics as proof!)

And it was really nice to welcome Anne and Barbara all the way from Maidstone:

Meanwhile - look what came through to the kitchen the other day - is it any wonder my knitting always looks a little the worse for wear?
Got my revenge this morning though - both Mr Bojangles (above) and Matilda are, as I write, being given a much-needed make-over by Sara, the best dog groomer in Berkshire!

If they look as beautiful as I hope they will, I may post a picture!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Knitters let loose!

Well, the Monday evening 6 week knitting course has come to an end, and thanks to Amanda there are more ladies in the world who can knit, pearl, increase, decrease and cable!  On the final evening they learnt how to knit flowers, and are now ready to knit their poppies after making a donation to the poppy appeal through www.knitonthenet.com/poppy and getting their pattern.  I'm sure Sandra made one last year and I plan to this year.  The course was such a success that we plan to run another one next year, starting around April, when it's not too warm to be playing with wool but the evenings are lighter so the trek out to the farm is less daunting!

Amanda will be back a week on saturday to unravel the mysteries of crochet - having just bought the Crochet Bible I see that anything that can be knitted, can be crocheted - with the advantage of having to deal with just one needle!  There are still a couple of places if anyone is interested in signing up.

This Saturday is Jelly Roll day - I finally get to use up the jelly roll I bought about two years ago!  Again, it's not too late to join us if you want.  Below is the Ring of Love quilt I made for my cousin's wedding present:

More reasons to start quilting:  The Sunday Times Style magazine this week described patchwork quilts as the hottest news in bed linen - 'crafty, cosy and creative'.  It went on to say that the craft a lot of people are talking about is quilting, and the article opened with:  'You have left work late again.  It's already dark once your dinner is in the oven and you've begun staring at the tv in much the same way you've been looking at your computer all day.  It sounds bleak and unfulfilling...' and so it does!!   I have to confess that on evenings in I sit in front of the television, but in the 13 years or so that I've been quilting it's very rare for me not to be sewing a quilt at the same time, and annoying everyone by saying "what happened then?" whenever there's a break in the dialogue!!!

Finally, some good news for us - after a week of Jake, our old Collie Cross, being very poorly with Vestibular Neuritus, he is feeling a lot better.  He's able to get himself up now and stagger around the garden, so hopefully he will be with us a bit longer - at 14 he's no pup anymore!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Just found another photo of the beginner's quilts - and a better one of Sue's, I think
 and here's a couple of knitters concentrating on their cables!

Dunno how this guy got here

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Beginner's machine quilting

- Or perhaps I should say, beginner's no more!  Sue, Amanda, Jo, Di and Helen have just completed the last day of their Beginner's course and I think they should all feel pretty pleased with themselves!
Sue, Amanda, Jo and Helen with their quilts
As per usual, my picture really does not do their quilts justice (even with art direction from Amanda!) and you can hardly see Sue's at the end which is a great pity because the colours are beautiful.  Jo is going to send me a picture of hers - the one in the picture is a small quilt she was free-motion quilting today with help from Ann.  Di has also finished the course but missed this last day because she had a wedding to go to - hopefully she will send me a picture of hers too.  Helen's quilt is HUGE and Amanda's is particularly poignant - she has made it as a memory quilt for a friend.
As ever, the group really bonded and there have been a lot of laughs.  And it's so nice that on their final day they have gone away with a picture in their head of teacher Anne Ray telling the chap who was servicing her Aga to whip off his trousers.......
They are all very keen to carry on quilting, and will be signing up for Anne's more advanced classes - the pictorial class in Novermber and more in the spring.  Other people who have attended the beginner's groups in the past may also be interested.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A busy week!

What a busy week - and it's been so hot!!
The garden, which I'd deserted in the belief that Autumn was just around the corner, looks a blaze of colour (from a distance anyway, - close up you see the millions of dead heads among the flowers) and our grey goose is still busy laying eggs.

The knitting workshop monday evening is coming along nicely - I've started making a patchwork blanket of knitting stitches.  I'm currently on the first square which so far is 2"x3" - but we all started somewhere!
Pitch and Stitch was good fun and it was lovely to have Sheila from Nottingham with us for another visit
Wednesday the workshop was bursting at the seams with everyone working on their Medallion Quilts with Lynne Johnson.  Jonathan was dagging sheep outside and he asked what all the laughing had been about.  We had no idea, we were all taking our sewing very seriously indeed!
Finally, yesterday, Clare Kingslake was here to teach us how to make her lovely redwork hanging:
Fay working hard and Anna doing what she did all day - laughing! Clare hid!
Jackie Breadmore called in to buy the pattern (She couldn't come to the workshop) and brought her beautiful 'Drying in the Breeze' quilt to show Clare:
A beautiful piece and Jackie's quilting is perfect.

And Helene brought her Jelly Roll quilt which she is doing a class on later this month:

I can't wait to finally make this with my jelly roll - it's started to fray because I keep handling it but not making anything from it!

I can't be at Pitch and Stitch on Tuesday because I'm working (Sandra's in charge!) - but I'm looking forward to the Trip Around the World workshop on Wednesday  - a brilliant way for beginner's to get their heads round rotary cutting and quick-piecing.

And Finally - best wishes to Sandra's son James, and Lucy, the new Mrs Kidwell, who got married yesterday!!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The monday evening Knitting class is clicking away happily - people can still join if they want - because the class is so small Amanda can keep her eye on what everyone's doing and bring late starters up to speed.  I love knitting but am still not able to talk and knit at the same, which is obviously quite a hardship for me!

Pitch and Stitch yesterday was very busy.  We had a celebratory cake because Beverley has had her first book (nothing to do with crafts) accepted by a publisher which is very exciting!  There was quite a variety of activities going on - knitting, sewing, felting and, of course, a lot of chat.  Pauline wanted tips on hanging quilts and Sandra gave her detailed instructions on how to attach a hanging sleeve.  Even though Pauline hadn't asked me I recommended my favourite method of pinning them to the wall with drawing pins....
I am working on the Trip Around the World quilt we are doing a workshop on soon.  Sandra recoiled in horror at the colours I've selected - bright, bold and brash - but I thought they showed the method clearly.  Sandra said it would be a good quilt to take with you if you were running away to join the circus!

Meanwhile things are pretty quiet on the farm - not least because Victoria is away at college and George has started weekly boarding at Sparsholt Agricultural College.  When I picked him up on Friday he apologised for smelling like a pig - literally - they'd spent the afternoon weighing them.  Jonathan said those pigs could probably do it themselves with their eyes shut - every time a tutor runs out of things to do he probably says "go and weigh the pigs"!

Our grey goose is busy laying eggs - a bit of a surprise because she usually lays in spring.  If we get goslings we'll be faced with the usual problem of what to do with them. We had a bit of a scare on Sunday because Pepper the pig didn't want dinner but she's ok now - either a caravanner had already fed her or maybe she got an apple stuck in her throat.

Right, better sign off now and get some sewing done!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


The monday evening knitting class started with great enthusiasm and Amanda was so impressed with Jane, Helene and Sheri that rather than simply work on sample pieces, they are going to work on a pattern and learn as they go along!
Pitch and Stitch was quieter than usual because Sandra is away in her camper!

Love the pink pjs!!!  When I spoke to her this morning she was busy making campervan porridge!
I am working on making a quilt of a picture Victoria drew when she was eight - it's for the children's drawings workshop we are doing later this term.
 Both children are away at college now - but back this weekend for the Agricultural Show which is one of the highlights of the year for us.
I am STILL a harvest widow and am chained to the house awaiting delivery of a new dishwasher..... better do some housework!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Autumn Schedule

Here are the dates/workshops on our new schedule: more information will be put up on the website in the very near future:
Monday 12th September, and every following Monday till Monday 17th October:
Beginner's Knitting course.  6.30-8.00pm.  Learn how to cast on, knit and cast off garter stitch.
Then stocking stitch - the one most used in patterns and ribbing, knit and purl stitch used to begin most garments.  Then shaping - increasing and decreasing and finally stripes - introducing some colour! 
Wednesday 14th September, Wednesday 12th October and Wednesday 9th November: My First Sampler Quilt.
Wednesday 21st September - Hatched and Patched and Art to Heart Group
Wednesday 28th September - Medallion Quilt
Saturday 1st October - Clare Kingslake Redwork
Wednesday 5th October - Trip Around the World quilt
Saturday 15th October - Smocking with Sandra Robbs
Wednesday 19th October - Hatched and Patched group
Saturday 22nd October - Jelly Roll Quilt day with Helene Burgess
Wednesday 26th October - Medallion Quilt
Saturday 29th October - Beginner's crochet with Amanda Bond
Wednesday 2nd November - Little masterpieces
Wednesday 16th November - Bags of Fun day with Sandra
Saturday 19th November - Pictorial Applique
Wednesday 23rd November - Hatched and Patched group
Wednesday 30th November - Medallion Quilt
Wednesday 7th December - Vintage Christmas Angel
Saturday 10th December - morning or afternoon - Christmas evergreen wreath
Wednesday 14th December - Christmas Pitch and Stitch
Lots to choose from!!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Autumn workshop schedule

Sandra and I have finally come up with the Autumn Schedule of workshops - lots of good stuff including quilting, knitting, crochet, smocking Christmas wreath making.  If you haven't got a copy, let me know and I'll send you one through!

Monday, 29 August 2011

A nice note!

Received the following e mail and I'm sure Gill won't mind me sharing it:

First we would like to thank you for a wonderful peaceful and restful week on your CL site last week, you made us so welcome. we really enjoyed just watching the cows and especially the red kites.
Also thank you for making me so welcome to your Tuesday morning quilt session, it was really interesting to meet new people and see other peoples ideas and quilts.  Already planning when I can get back, visit must include a Tuesday. I have attached a photo of the little cathedral window piece I was working on.  I think I might turn it into a cushion.
 Here's the picture she sent:

Isn't that lovely?

Last week Clare Kingslake gave a wonderful, inspiring talk at the Market Square Quilter's club.  She talked us through each chapter of book, Folk Art Applique, showing us the actual quilts and explaining the process of publishing a book - so much work, to such tight deadlines, I don't know how she did it.

Saturday night I went to a party in Devon which involved me spending a night in a tent.  The party was great fun, the night under canvas confirmed my belief that it's time to put camping behind me.  I have never been so cold in my life - and just when I'd adjusted to it I realised I really HAD to go to the loo.  It's bad enough going to the bathroon at home when you're snug in bed, but having to put on clothes and wellies and trudge across a field to a portable loo was really not the nicest thing in the world!  Sitting in front of the tent in the morning, with a cup of tea in hand and looking at the beautiful view almost made up for it though!

Meanwhile, back on the farm, harvest has started up again.  It's been so difficult this year and later than I've ever known.  However, I shouldn't moan too much, in my father-in-law's day they would be desperate to finish it in time for the Agricultural Show - three weeks' away.

Here are some pictures George took from the corn trailer:

How can there be so much dust after so much rain?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Christine's quilt

Christine brought her lovely quilt to Pitch and Stitch this morning.  Her mother had made it for her when she went away to college and sent it to her in the post.  As with all the lovely old quilts, Christine could point to patches and remember what dress or skirt it had been taken from.  These sort of quilts, which evoke so many memories, have got to be the best.

Thanks to Sheri for the photos - she's back at work next week so we'll miss her at Pitch and Stitch - make sure you keep knitting though Sheri!

All kinds of sewing and knitting was going on - and an awful lot of chat!
Sandra and I have been drawing up the Autumn schedule - lots of interesting and fun classes.  We are also running a six week beginner's knitting on Monday evenings which will be great - I'll be using it to fill in the gaps in my rather sketchy knowledge of the craft!
We are also very excited about the Clare Kingslake workshop in October -we'll be making the hanging she has designed especially for Lorne Hill Farm (wow) and you can see it on her blog - http://www.clarespatterns.wordpress.com/

Friday, 19 August 2011


Well - thanks to the rainy day I've managed to finish the Naive Flowers hangning!

Also, I've noticed a new development in my quilting - I've started unpicking.  I don't know what's come over me - I used to be proud of being slapdash and would happily point out mistakes in a finished quilt.  These days when things go wrong they get on my nerves and I unpick and start again.  I blame Lynne Johnson - she took one look at the disastrous centre of my Medallion Quilt and said, in the nicest possible way, "I think I'd have to unpick it".  So I unpicked it.......5 times.  And then it looked right.

Meanwhile, back on the farm....
Jonathan and George brought in the rams

and then George just mucked around on the bike!