August flowers

I sometimes expect August to be hot and sunny just because it is school summer holidays. But the reality is often a bit different! We have had some very grey, wet days here recently and the evenings are already getting noticeably darker earlier.  However we having been picking peaches to ripen on the windowsill, and the sweet juicy blackberries on the brambles on the allotment are being enjoyed by wasps. The colours in the garden seem to be ripening into reds and golds with crocosmia, dahlia, and pots of pelargoniums.


Although they are a bit past their best now, I decided to chose the pelargoniums (sometimes called geraniums) for my August flower. I love their multiple florets and intense colour, and the beautifully patterned leaves are a bonus. I cut motifs from a Kaffe Fassett fabric, appliquéd and embroidered them to create this journal piece


Picking the beans

1-IMG_3265This is the time of year when we are constantly picking and freezing produce from the garden. It is my husband who sows the seeds and tends the growing plants, and I am grateful for his green fingers and hard work. Today we have been picking beans – French, runners and dwarf beans.

This week has also seen a “harvest” from seeds of a different kind. Sometimes writing posts for this blog and my other family history blog “Among the Branches” feels like sowing seeds. I cast them out into the air not knowing quite where they will land, and whether there will be any return. Often they land on receptive ground and I get comments from my readers. At other times the only reaction is stony silence.

But a few days ago I was excited to receive comments on two blog posts from July and November last year. One from a distant relative on my father’s side of the family, and another from a distant relative on my mother’s side. Both connected to me through great, great, great, great grandparents – one set from Ireland, the other set from Cornwall. I am intrigued that pictures and information I posted so many months ago, about ancestors from 200 years ago,  should generate responses now, in the same week. Coincidence? Or something more? I don’t know…







For me it is an illustration of the power of the written word, shared with others by blog or other means. We never know who our stories might reach, and where they will resonate. I am grateful to so many whose books, blogs, stories and poems have inspired and encouraged me. It may not even be within our lifetime, but words can produce a longer lasting harvest than beans.

Keep sowing the seeds, keep writing, and who knows what bean stalks might grow…

Sweet pea profusion

A gentle stroll around the garden and I return with a full bunch of frilly scented sweet peas. They have been flowering for over a month now, and the more you pick the more you get. Yesterday’s heavy rain seems to have given them  fresh impetus, and I have two vases full on the window sill, wafting their scent towards me as I write this.

Sweet peas are definitely flower of the month, and here is my Weavers Flower Journal stitched piece for July. I think my  embroidered attempt is far too sparse – the reality is so much more abundant ( and fragrant!)


Threads from the past

On another day during our recent visit to the North West we braved a very narrow road onto a remote fell north of Sedbergh. There, un-signposted, watched over by a couple of old yew trees and some ancient gravestones, was a blue plaque set onto a rock. This is known as George Fox’s pulpit, where the founder of Quakerism preached outdoors in 1652 to many “seekers” drawn from the area.

I have already  described and written about previous generations of my family in Ireland who were part of the Quaker movement, so it was fascinating to discover that some of my Westmoreland ancestors, the Rouths, were also early followers of George Fox’s ideas.  I will write more on my Family History Blog “Among the Branches” in due course!

Back in Kendal we then visited the Quaker Tapestry Museum, which brought together my interest in Quaker history and my love of stitch. Copyright rules mean I won’t reproduce the images here in full, but they can be viewed on the website. Do have a look! They are a wonderful tribute to the power of the needle in creative hands, to record the past and inspire future generations.


Here are photos of some bookmarks I bought showing some small parts of the tapestry panels. The feet are those of George Fox, preaching on Firbank Fell.  The one about co-operation is a reference to Quaker activities in the Peace movement worldwide, and comes from an Aesop’s fable. I used to have a version of this on my wall when I was a teenager. The other bookmark is a reference to prominent prison reformer and Quaker, Elizabeth Fry, who organised the provision of a bag of sewing items and fabrics to every woman in convict ships bound for Australia.

Wensleydale weavers, cheese, beer and ancestors

Over the last couple of days we have been exploring eastern Cumbria and on into the western Yorkshire Dales. Sedbergh nestles below beautiful Howgill Fell, and has a some lovely quirky shops, including a craft workshop run by a local co-operative of crafters. I treated myself to an interesting circular weaving kit from The Threshing Barn and had a wander around the nearby restored mill at Farfield with its collection of artists’ studios, textile exhibitions and weaving looms.



Then we drove on through lovely scenery to Hawes in the heart of Wensleydale. It was market day and tourists and bikers out in force. We did a quick trip round the cheese factory, great selection and plenty of free tasting! But the nearby Gayle had a different kind of attraction for me. Along a narrow lane I found a tiny burial ground and the graves of several generations of my Allen ancestors, including my 4x, 5x, and 6x great grandparents. They were all part of an obscure group of dissenters called Sandemanians in the 18th and 19th century, and so were buried together next to their meeting house. I will write more on my family history blog when I’ve sorted out who they all are! The bridge and river at Gayle feel timeless, and there are some very old cottages nearby, which would have been around when my ancestors lived here.




Back in Hawes we bought some of the local beer from an interestingly named shop. The Allen family is still very much in evidence it seems!


Gentle Lakeland day

After a long drive from the south coast, the twilight on the distant fells yesterday evening was a lovely reward as we ate dinner.

Then this morning we took it easy with a gentle wander around beautiful Sizergh Castle.



Followed by a stroll along Lake Windemere in the sunshine.


June roses

The June garden is full of roses. The photos don’t do justice to the colours, and certainly don’t capture the fragrance! The pink rose on the trellis is a neon pink, called “Morning Jewel”. It  is flowering profusely this year since we moved it into a sunnier position. 129___064

I just had to choose a rose for my stitched flower journal this month. But roses are a challenge to stitch. I decided to try a reverse applique technique I learned on a Susan Brittingham workshop several years ago. Working from a black and white photo, I reduced the rose to three tones of pink, and built the picture piece by piece like a jigsaw, stitching from the back. Then I added surface embroidery, before quilting it onto a piece of hand printed fabric I found lurking in my stash! With hindsight I wish I had chosen a more silky fabric for the rose, with more of a sheen. Perhaps next time…