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Sadly this week our lovely weather has finally disappeared and it is definitely autumn. It has been fantastic to be able to enjoy the beach in warm sunshine for so long. Today is very windy and a little wet. We had a busy summer, especially with our daughter’s wedding in the very picturesque Lake District. Everything came together beautifully for her vintage and handmade style wedding in the gorgeous Cragwood Country House hotel on the side of Lake Windermere. (Highly recommended for anyone wanting a wedding venue up there!) A photo later. Now it is back to my daily sewing and beside the sea life.

The Embroidery Crazy website has been updated with six new designs this month plus two designs free to download as usual. We have three designs especially for dog lovers, a new snowman design, a cute little fox and a cupcake design for those making kitchen items.

Walkies PugLove Labrador WinterSnowman Cupcake LittleFoxI said I would post a photograph of the wedding venue, so here it is.

 

Cragwood House

The stunning wedding venue

The next photo is one of my beautiful daughter in her vintage style lace wedding dress, accompanied down to the outdoor pagoda for the ceremony by my two very cute grandsons. The eldest one, who is only five, was very proud to walk his mum along. Two year old Ben was not so sure and started to cry!

The beautiful bride.

The beautiful bride.

 

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At last our weather seems to be picking up, after what seems like months of rain. We are in a luckier part of the country too, with not nearly as much rain as the west coast of Britain has had. We have however had some really bad windy spells and our local beach front is in a terrible mess, so much damage to beach huts and the promenade. Hopefully gradually it will get sorted over the next few months. There are lots of signs that spring is coming, daffodils galore in my front garden, lots of early flowers – in fact the roses haven’t stopped flowering all winter as, although very wet and windy, it has not been really cold. Lots of trees in our town are coming into blossom, which is really early. Today the sun is shining and it looks very inviting outside. A walk on the beach later!

The website has been updated with three new designs this month. With thoughts of spring there is this cute seasonal design. SpringI also added a design made for anyone who sews. LovetoSewThere is also a pretty butterfly design.

FloatLikeaButterfly

Our free machine embroidery designs to download for March are an Easter design and a ballerina silhouette.

My Singer 15K

I painted my sewing room lilac to brighten it up and I am pleased with it. I also had a good clear out in the process and reorganised everything. I even managed to fit another sewing table into the room after moving it round without cluttering it up more! I found a bargain in a local charity shop, which was a vintage Singer in lovely condition. After an oil it sews beautifully. It was too pretty to leave!

My Singer 15K

My Singer 15K

I found a couple of  lilac flowered single sheets in a charity shop and recycled them into a patchwork double duvet cover and pillowcases for the guest bed in my sewing room. It worked really well, I’m pleased with how pretty they look.

new duvet cover

Finally I can’t post without spring photographs, so here are a couple of my spring flowers.

daffodils

My front garden daffodils.

spring flowers

Pulmonaria is flowering on the shady side of my garden.

Our elderly cat, Cyrus, was also enjoying the sunshine this morning. This photo of him made me smile as I caught him with his tongue out!

Cyrus

16 year old Cyrus

It’s a beautiful sunny day on the North Essex coast today. Perfect  May Day weather. It is also a special day in our family as it is my eldest daughter’s birthday. She is a supermum who juggles three (and some times four) small children and 7 miles of school run walking every weekday. I don’t know how she does it!

I have updated my machine embroidery design website for May with new free downloads and four new designs. This month I have added this colourful sailing design.SailAway   There is a fun, retro, liquorice allsorts design, which those with a sweet tooth, or of course children would like.

SweetieThis new floral design is pretty for home accessories or clothing. DaisyDaisyFinally there is this rainbow added to the weather designs.

RainbowSeagulls are everywhere in our small coastal town . They are obvious subjects for photography but can be difficult to photograph while flying. However I had some success recently when coming across a huge flock on the seafront. Gull CloudThey had been feeding, so did not fly off like they normally would. I really like this shot I managed to take of one in the air. flying gullI also got a dog walker framed nicely in this photo! Gull framedIt made me smile!

Have a lovely May Day whatever you are doing today. I am off for lunch with friends.

I can’t believe it is April already. It is still so cold in the UK that it seems like summer will never arrive. Here we are a week in to April and we are still going out wrapped in scarves, hats and gloves. Last weekend we went on an Easter egg hunt with the grandchildren in the gardens of  beautiful  Chippenham Park, near Newmarket. It was dry but really cold. The grounds of this stately home are lovely and it was great fun trying to find hidden wooden rabbits, which are then swopped for a  chocolate egg. I even managed to find a golden rabbit, which gave my granddaughter a star prize of a large Lindt Golden Bunny. She was thrilled. Chippenham Park  I love these bronze boxing hare sculptures by the side of the lake.

Boxing hare sculptures

The Embroidery Crazy website has been updated with new machine embroidery designs for April and the  downloadable free designs for April are available. There is this spring flower trug design, perfect for home decor items. FlowerTrug

There is a new butterfly design which would look pretty on both clothing and home makes.

BlueLilacButterfly

There is also a castle in the fantasy section and some fish. The free designs are this pretty campanula flower design.

CampanulaFlowers

I love the blue bell shaped flowers. There is also a cute little duckling.

As it is still so cold of course I was busy sewing yesterday. I made this backpack for my pirate loving grandson, who will be four on Friday.

Jo's backpackAlthough I make lots of bags, it was quite challenging as I have never sewn piping round a bag before and I also had to make the piping first. I am quite pleased with the end result though, as I like the red against the blue of the pirate fabric.

At least while it is freezing outside I have lots of time to sew!!

I am now extremely busy getting ready for our big two day craft fair at the end of November. So many things I still want to make and the time seems to be running away with me! Okay I’ve still got 6 weeks, but it will fly past. My lovely other half, Alec at Photo Crazy, is also doing the fair so he is creating wonderful photo art to sell. I have spent a week making I-pad and Kindle covers so next week I am back to making more embroidered bags as they take the longest time.

I have also updated the website for October, with some new designs and new free downloads. We have a bat and a pumpkin free for Halloween projects. There is this cute skiing snowman. As crafters are already making Christmas things I have also added a Santa Elf.

Santa Elf

I have of course been using my new camera with the super zoom a lot in the past few weeks. I had to laugh when I looked out my kitchen window and saw this photo opportunity though!

My cat and ‘dinner’.

Our cat Cyrus must have thought it was his birthday when he spotted an enormous pheasant planning to land in the garden.

The pheasant on our back gate.

He was quite a beautiful bird, as you can see from this closer photo of him on our back gate.

Mentioning birds, I took this photo of a young seagull sitting on the sea wall this week. I love the markings on it. It seems a shame they disappear later.

Young seagull

I always love the view from our bedroom, we are so lucky to see sights like this orange sunset.

Sunset on Walton-On-The-Naze backwaters.

I can zoom in on the boats in the Marina with my new camera too.

Marina boats.

But my favourite photo taken this week was the other morning when I was up at sunrise and looked out my kitchen window. There are some tall trees nearby and sitting in one  silhouetted was this fully grown heron! I grabbed my camera quickly and managed to get some shots of it.

Resting heron at sunrise.

It was quite far away so I wouldn’t have got it without the decent zoom lens.

Today I thought I’d share some tips to help those of you who are not so confident using their embroidery machines or perhaps new to this addictive hobby. These are things I have found useful to know or have discovered through time and experience.

  1. Your machine needles are your most important piece of your machine embroidery equipment. You need to change your needle regularly! If it is blunt it won’t give you a decent result and machine embroidering blunts your needles fast. I change my needle after about 10 hours of sewing or if I am having problems with thread breaking, stitches not looking right etc. Buy the best quality needles for your embroidery machine. Schmetz are excellent and are my recommended choice.
  2. Stabiliser can be tricky to get right but as a basic rule of thumb the lighter your fabric the more you need to stabilise it, so for lighter fabrics like cottons use cutaway stabiliser as it is thicker than tearaway. If you are sewing on a heavy fabric such as denim or canvas you can use tearaway or may not even need stabiliser, but light fabrics always need stabilising. There are of course many other kinds of stabiliser for particular projects but I am just giving a basic rule here.
  3. Sewing with metallic thread can be tricky if you are not used to it. Always use a special metallic needle as it has a bigger eye for the thread to go through, and turn your tension right down. I have mine on 1 when I sew with metallic thread. Also slow your machine down and sew on the slowest speed.
  4. The tools I find the most useful are a pair of embroidery scissors with  very small, fine blades and also tweezers. These are used for trimming jump threads and any other bits of thread that are left poking out. By holding the end with tweezers you can cut very close. Decent lighting is also a must! If your eyesight is not great I would also invest in a large magnifier to hang round your neck too.
  5. Cheap thread is NOT an economy. It will break easily and give you lots of problems. Buy a good quality machine embroidery thread such as Madeira, Janome, Guterman Sulky, or Robison Anton, to name a few reliable brands you could use.
  6. Bobbin thread can be an issue as embroidery machines are temperamental and may not like every brand! For example my Janome 350e will not tolerate Madeira bobbin thread, although this is a perfectly reliable make!! It happily uses Janome or Brother bobbin thread. Although I now use so much of it I buy a very large cone of fine bobbin thread from an online supplier, which works out much cheaper.

I hope you find these tips useful. Most of all have fun with your machine exploring all the possibilities. It can quickly become an addictive hobby once you get to know your machine and how it works.

Finally, because I don’t like to post without adding a photograph, here is the sunset I took the other night. Isn’t it beautiful!

Our summer is nearly over here in East Anglia but we are having a late burst of sunshine, which is great news after the rather dismal summer we have had. I am pleased as I have a lovely new camera to try out. Unfortunately I was the victim of theft a few weeks ago when my family were down to stay with the grandchildren. I had my bag stolen on the beach, along with my everyday camera. I have a large Canon DSLR but it is too heavy to carry all the time, so as any photography addict does, I keep a smaller camera in my bag so that I don’t miss those unforeseen moments.

I chose the Canon SX40HS as my new portable camera because, living where we do, a superzoom camera is ideal. I take lots of nature shots, plus boats and beach shots, where a long lens helps get close to what I want to photograph. It is not a pocket camera, but it’s light enough and will fit in the large bags I tend to favour. I have been trying it out this week and I am very happy with the image quality, which I knew choosing Canon, would be good. The lens is great and I still get nice clear images even using the full 35x zoom. I think I have made a good choice.

I took this shot of a heron on the backwaters the other afternoon.

Heron on Walton-On-The-Naze backwaters.

It was quite far off so I used the zoom right out. I thought it worked well.

The backwaters is a boating haven.

Boats on Walton backwaters

There is a lovely old ruin of a boatshed on the Mere.

Boatshed ruin.

I quite like that it has been left as it adds character to the area.

I went on the pier to photograph the sunset last night and the sky was really quite unusual. There was what seemed to be a small piece of rrainbow in the sky, although it had been a very sunny sunny day with no rain at all. The clouds were also all kinds of shapes so it looked really pretty. This is one of my photos. The little piece of rainbow is on the left.

Unusual sunset

The seagulls were resting on the side of the pier and I liked this photo as the seagull is lit by the sunset so that he stands out from the background.

Seagull at sunset.

This morning I was up at sunrise. This is my favourite photograph from then.

Sunrise lighting breakwater

I have been busy updating my website too. http://www.embroiderycrazy.co.uk/shop/ This month we have an autumn leaf and a fox machine embroidery design free to download. I have also added several home designs, including this one which would be good for stitching on the back of a patchwork quilt. I added a blackberry and a falling leaves design for autumn and this pretty heart which would make a perfect addition to a Christmas make for a loved one. I will be very busy sewing for the next few months as, along with many craft addicts at this time of year, my husband and I have booked tables at a large Christmas craft fair. He will be selling his fabulous Photo Art and I am selling bags and other fabric gifts, many of them machine embroidered of course!

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