I have finally updated my machine embroidery design shop after several weeks. Due to family problems I have not been at home very much. My poor eldest daughter slipped a disc in her back a few weeks ago. She has 3 small children, the youngest is only 16 months old. As her partner has an important medical science job he had to still go to work and she desperately needed help. She lives 75 miles away so I have been staying with her to help with the children and do the three times daily, two mile walk to take my older two grandchildren to school/ pre-school and back. Now she is beginning to mend and not in so much pain I am back at home.

While there I took her a no longer used Brother Innovis sewing machine I had. She has never used a sewing machine before so I gave her a few lessons and now she is off on a new addiction! She has discovered a new creative streak and in a couple of weeks has become sewing obsessed.

I am amazed at what she is now making without help. It has helped take her mind off her back problem too!

I have now added a new set of embroidery designs to my shop which I created especially with  bedroom decor in mind. They would look great on cushions to decorate a bed. There is this pretty cuddling lovebirds design, SnuggleUpa baby bird sleeping, PeaceAtLasta cute sleepy owl, Relax

and this decorative moons and stars design. FeelingSleepyThey are available as a set. As it’s February my free machine embroidery downloads this month are both romantic designs. This Love Hearts design is a new one. LoveHeartsOur weather in England has been very cold and we have had a fair amount of snow for the Eastern part of England. It looks like there is more to come this week. While I was staying with my daughter I took some photos around her pretty village. I love this little cottage by the river. It looked really cosy in the snow.snowy cottage

Opposite the school is a lovely old church. I liked how the churchyard looked covered with snow. snowy churchyard

There is an old antiques shop on the main road. Sadly no longer in business but the building is beautiful. Phoenix antiques

My little grandson enjoyed his first snowy experiences. This photo made me laugh! Mum I can't seeBless him! His new coat is a little on the big side! This is him – he has big blue eyes and long blonde curls.Ben in snowI think he’s gorgeous, but I’m biased of course!!

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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!

Yesterday morning when I was watering my garden I was surprised by a small frog jumping out from under the plant I was watering. We used to live in a house with a large garden and a wildlife pond, so frogs were ten- a- penny, but our current home has a small garden with no room for a pond.

It is also a very secure garden with high fences all round, and no gaps anywhere. So I was very surprised to find we had acquired a frog. We live next door to a care home with a large garden, so my guess is the frog came as a very small froglet through one of the tiny gaps in the fencing and has been living unknown in our garden since then.

Seeing the frog immediately took me back to my teaching days when ‘growth’ was a very popular classroom topic with my little ones and I taught them the life-cycle of a frog, bringing in tadpoles and watching them grow, before taking them back to the same pond to release the froglets.

So here is my photo of our frog, a worthy contributor to the ‘growth’ photo challenge. frogAs I feel it’s likely to be a long term resident in our secure garden our little frog needs a name. Suggestions welcome!

 

It’s May already so I have been busy with the website. We have a new collection of football inspired designs. They include a Union Jack, though could be stitched without.We also have this pretty birdcage design. It would look lovely on a cushion or any home decor item. There is a cute snail design too. Our free designs this month are a football and an apple tree. I am now busy working on some larger designs with a sunset background. I also plan to add more items with a seaside theme as nautical seems popular at the moment!

We had a lovely weekend with our eldest daughter and grandchildren. While feeding the ducks with them I took a photo of a duck on the riverbank, which was actually someone’s back garden. She had 13 ducklings! They were a long way off but the photo came out quite well.

The river is just below the slope. I was very envious of the garden as they had a very pretty bridge over the river across to an orchard!

Isn’t that beautiful? What a lovely place to live!

We have had so much rain here there are lots of flood warnings on our local radio and the 2 main roads to our little town are closed because they are impassible! I had to drive through a very deep stretch of flooded road the other day to go to the supermarket. It was not a nice experience so I am now staying put for a few days and hoping it improves.

We have been very busy creating lots of new machine embroidery designs for the website and these are now available. There is a range of things including some more ‘crazy’ animals, some sports designs and a couple of decorative designs. I love this gorgeous wolf . He would look great stitched on a jacket. This sporty design is ideal on a gift for any sport mad person. Check out the website for what else is new.

We have had a very stressful few days due to our lovely cat Cajun being seriously ill. It all started with him needing a dental extraction on Monday, for which cats have to be anaesthetised. That went fine. On Tuesday morning at home he seemed much brighter and was eating a bit. We had no inkling of the drama to come!

Mid afternoon we suddenly noticed he was struggling to breathe. Very quickly it became apparent that he was seriously ill so we rushed him to our vets – a 20 minute drive away. By the time we got there he was so distressed they had to put him in an oxygen tent. Our lovely vet then stayed 2 hours past her working time fighting to get him stabilised as he had pneumonia. Mid evening we had a call to say he needed to be transferred to the veterinary hospital for overnight care and could we take him. We were warned he could die on the way! That was a very stressful journey but we made it safely. After a night there he was somewhat better by morning, thankfully, so we took him back to our vet for day care.

Yesterday evening as he was much better and stable we were allowed to bring him home. They don’t know why he suddenly got so ill, he had been peacefully sleeping on our bed most of the day. He is an elderly cat so it could be due to the anaesthetic. An x-ray would possibly help find a cause but we don’t want to put him under again!! He is on antibiotics and diuretics which will hopefully get him back to health.

He is such a part of our family it was awful to think we were losing him so suddenly. He is very happy to be home again. We are a lot poorer but he is worth every penny.

After that sad story here is a photo of what we can see from our bedroom window at the moment – very calming.

Oh dear, It’s that very busy time of year when things start to snowball and I realise I haven’t been posting as regularly on my blog!

I have been very busy sewing things to sell at a W.I. christmas craft fair which I am having a stall at next month. I have also managed to do some new machine embroidery designs for the website, which should be going on very soon. There are 3 lovely dragonfly designs, inspired by the real dragonflies I saw on one of my Naze walks recently. Then I have also made a very sweet polar bear design and a pretty snowflake.

Last week I had an argument with a local store manager over the phone and needed to go out to calm down! I took my camera off to the beach and spent an hour watching the Turnstones  searching for food among the rocks where the tide had gone out. This is one of the photographs I took. They are very cute little birds that live on our beach in the winter then fly to Canada for the summer. They tend to stay in large groups so there were lots of them among the rocks. They lift the stones with their beaks, hence their name! I felt much more relaxed after spending time just watching them. Nature is  wonderful therapy!

Where is this year going? I can’t believe it’s July already! Three more weeks and the schools break up. Our sleepy town will be busy again for a few weeks.

Our new free machine embroidery designs for July are now available on our website http://www.embroiderycrazy.co.uk/shop/specials/ .

There is a pretty spray of flowers and this 

home decor design. They are available for instant download in a range of formats so if you know anyone with an embroidery machine send them our way.

We have a classic car show in our town on Sunday which is always well attended so I shall be there with my camera to hopefully get some decent photographs. Watch this space!