“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” Anne Of Green Gables
And isn’t October a fine month indeed? I whole heartedly agree with Anne, but then November rolled in and I’m overwhelmed with it’s beauty this year.
I’m very lucky to live in the pretty county of Northamptonshire in England. I live all the way down in the bottom left corner, right next to Oxfordshire, in fact both my children attend school in Oxfordshire as it is so close. Every day the school run takes me through the quiet Northamptonshire lanes, past grand stately homes such as Canon’s Ashby and tiny iron-stone cottages, such as my own, with warm light radiating out of the ancient windows. There are rows of neatly clipped box hedge in every shape imaginable, there are old oak forests and rolling hills ploughed ready for the Spring’s crops or covered in swathes of winter barley. I regularly have to stop the car to allow a family of pheasant or quails cross the road and the skies are filled with red kites, buzzards, crows and the odd kestrel.
Never has a place inspired me so greatly, nor a home that I’ve lived in given me so much pleasure.
This year has had its challenges, mostly finding the time to work with both children at home for the vast majority of the year. I have managed to make a new collection of kits, however which are available now in my www.folksy.com/shops/Wilderstitch
They are inspired by winter, by the smokey blue grey of the sky and streaks of lilac, ivory and silver that come as the sun dips down.
There are many plans afoot for next year and I’m plodding on regardless of what the news and nay-sayers might say! There will be a chateau event at La Salle once again and I would like to launch many more kits throughout the year.
I’m also very excited to be working on a subscription for a very special Heirloom Doll KIT. At the moment it will come as a box of delights every other month, so six parcels delivered straight to your door. The first box will contain the pattern for the doll herself and perhaps some pretty sleep wear. The following five packages will contain everything needed for a dress, a coat, a hat and scarf with mittens, maybe a little friend in the form of a deer or a boar to keep her company. There will be capes, bloomers…everything she will need. I intend to make these kits extremely special so they will include some antique elements for you to use including antique lace, buttons, ribbons and trim. I’m hoping to launch these in late December, once the rush of Christmas is over and we can take a breath and plan for the year ahead.
So until I write again, I’ll leave you with some images of the kits that are available now to purchase.
I’m so happy to be able to eventually share this sweet tutorial with you! It’s been a while in the planning and I’ve had so much fun coming up with all the recipes and table layout ideas, (although I do need to redecorate the kitchen now, royal icing seems to get everywhere!) I’m hoping to post one free tutorial a month to compliment the kits that are in the shop along with ideas on how to share your crafting with friends or family, or both!
This month’s kit, below, is in the shop so if you fancy another project to treat yourself with, head on over!
And below is the mouse we will be making in this tutorial and it is free for your own personal use 🙂 Let’s get started!
You will need –
Some chunky wool in your chosen mouse colour
3mm Black Beads
Pink Embroidery Floss or Thick Thread
Pipe Cleaner (I tea stained mine by dipping in hot tea, no milk!)
An page from an old book or tea stain some new paper
A Long Needle
A Normal Needle
Pom-Pom Maker, (I made my own from card board)
Round tip pliers
Begin by making two pom-poms
Next, begin to trim your pom-poms so they become more dense
Attach the two pom-poms together using your long needle and some thread.
Trim away around your mouse’s neck area to add a bit of definition.
Now you need to attach the legs. Cut your pipe cleaner as shown then using a needle and thread, attach the legs to your mouse’s body. They need to be quite firmly attached so your mouse can stand up, you can go all the way through the torso and back down again to achieve this.
Fold over the ends of your mouse’s toes so there are no sharp ends. Your mouse should now be able to stand of her own accord. You may feel the need for some cake at this point.
To make the ears, cut out two arch shaped pieces of felt then stitch the two bottom corners together. Sew onto your mouse’s head. If you prefer you can use a glue gun for this bit.
When sewing on the eyes, you don’t want to be able to see any threads, so to keep things neat, here’s the trick!
Go in at the base of the back of the mouse’s head and bring your needle out where you want your first eye to go. Add the bead then go through to the other side of the face where you want the second eye to go and bring your needle out, add the bead. Now go back under that eye and out the back of the head again and secure the two pieces of thread together. Be gentle here, if you pull too tight your mouse’s eyes will disappear into her head!
Carefully trim around your mouse’s eyes, this will help her expression and make her look less furrowed in the brow and angry! We don’t want angry mice.
Repeat the eye process with the nose, coming in from the back, forming a little V-shaped nose then back out the back.
Tie on the ribbon and powder her ears and cheeks.
Take your wire and form a big circular base and fiddle about until the wire stands up on its own. You may need a bit more cake here…
In your fanciest hand writing, add your sentiment. It could be Happy Valentine’s Day, I Love You, Marry Me! Attach to the wire by poking the wire through he paper.
Glue on your mouse’s arms and tail and then using the pliers, fold her little mousey paw around the wire.
This is such a fun project to do on your own of an evening but it’s even more fun with friends! So I have devised a ‘Sweetheart Mouse Crafternoon Tea Party’.
Cream Cheese and ham sandwiches
Sweetheart Sugar Cookies
Heart Sponge Sandwiches
Chocolate Covered Strawberrries
For the cream cheese and ham sandwiches.
Simply make a sandwich using cream cheese and ham then using a round cutter, cut out circular sandwiches.
To make the rose on top, take a french breakfast radish, (the long ones) and using a potato peeler, shave off the pink skin. Using the slithers, fold around to form a rose shape and press down into the sandwich. You can use chives, basil or any other herb to make the leaves.
For the Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Melt a bar of white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water on the hob. Dip your strawberries into the chocolate and set on a rack to set. Add a splash of pink food colouring to the remainder of the chocolate and cover more strawberries in the pink chocolate. (I noticed that my chocolate went a bit funny after I added the colouring so you need to move fast here, you might need to use a teaspoon to pick the chocolate up and drip it over the strawberries.) Leave to set. Decorate with more melted chocolate.
For the heart sponge sandwich.
225 g Self Raising Flour
225g Caster Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
225g Butter at room temperature
Preheat oven to 180º
Grease and line a large rectangular baking tray
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until you have a mixture that falls off the spoon easily.
Bake for around 20 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and coming away from the edge of the tray.
Leave to cool on a rack.
Using a heart cutter, cut out hearts then sandwich together with jam. You can add butter icing too if you like. Dust with icing sugar.
Sweetheart Sugar Cookies
500g plain flour
250g softened butter
250 g caster sugar
Mix the butter up in a bowl using electric whisk, then add the sugar, the lemon zest and mix.
Add the eggs and mix again
Add half the flour and mix
Add the other half of the flour and mix
Gently knead into a dough, wrap in cling film and chill for two hours
Roll out the dough to roughly 5mm the cut out heart shapes using a heart cutter.
Bake at 180º for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
Now, to decorate…I tried to make my own Royal Icing, it was pretty tricky so I would suggest buying some ready to go icing here! If however you are an icing pro then go for it!!
So I hope you’ve enjoyed this little post and that you have fun this month!
Below is a little place card for you to put at your crafting guests table place!
I’m so excited to announce the first workshop of 2020. It will be held once again at the magical Domaine De La Salle in South West France.
Due to the amount of fun we had in three days at the last workshop, we are going to be spending an entire week in this special chateau.
Gathering around the attic sewing table, we will be stitching a beautiful wildflower doll, her dress, cape and accessories all reflecting the lush green and soft pink hues of France in the spring time.
I’m thrilled to bits that Nicki Franklin of The Stitchery will be guest tutor along side me on this unique sewing retreat, sharing her embroidery skills and turning every item of clothing you make for your doll even more special. There will be a large selection of antique and vintage fabrics for you to choose from, as well as lush green velveteen, silk ribbons, antique buttons and endless other beautiful trims and laces.
The chateau, which has been featured on Channel 4’s ‘Escape To The Chateau DIY’ belongs to the fabulous Mariam and Jono who will delight you with breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and perhaps even a flambé pancake or two!
There will be one or two trips out to local towns to comb the flea markets and markets for wonderful treasures such as linens, china, antique laces and everything else old and wonderful that you can imagine.
The attic space is where we will be creating our sewing magic with everything you need all in one place.
Here are the rooms available –
Cafe au Lait and Liaisons Dangereuses
Two double bedrooms sharing a luxury bathroom.
These two rooms would be suitable for two friends as the bathroom is shared.
Cafe au Lait – £2100
Liaisons Dangereuses – £1800 – BOOKED
Orientale – BOOKED
A double bedroom as seen above with lounge and own bathroom.
Les Temps Perdu – BOOKED
A twin Bedroom on the attic floor with views over the turret, (and the owl at night)
£1250 per person if sharing the room or £1650 for single occupancy.
Madame Bovary – BOOKED
A double bedroom
The above two rooms have access to a separate bathroom that they will share.
Le Petit Prince – ONE BED BOOKED (One still available)
A large bedroom above the kitchen in the heart of the chateau. This room has a double bed and a single bed and its own bathroom.
For single occupancy of they room the price is £2000, for two sharing the price will be £1450 each.
Le Petit Souris
Never fear, there will not be a mouse in sight in this pretty room with its own bathroom decorated in a 1930’s style.
The gîte has two double bedrooms, its own bathroom, a downstairs WC and a lounge/diner. Again suitable for friends as the bathroom is shared.
£1950 per room in the gîte.
All these prices include accommodation for the duration of the retreat, meals, (with the exception of two lunches out treasure hunting), beverages, tuition from myself and Nicki who will be on hand at all times, all materials, patterns and tools.
The price does not include travel costs.
Getting to La Salle
La Salle, 17620, Champagne, France
La Rochelle 40 mins, (collection from La Rochelle airport to the chateau and back can be arranged).
Poitiers 1.5 hrs
To book your place on ‘The Wildflowers In The Attic’ sewing retreat, please contact me here
To discourage frivolous booking I ask for a 50% non-refundable deposit. I do however completely understand that things happen, so this deposit will be transferred to another workshop of your choice should you be unable to attend.
I was absolutely thrilled to bits to have one of my Chateau Ballet Mice chosen to appear in the latest Folksy animation. In case you don’t know, Folksy is a wonderful online market place selling beautiful hand made items from makers all over the British Isles.
This fabulous animation was created by Leanne Warren and the beautiful little bird is by Mish Mash Mosh. Jane Crick designed the stunning wrapping paper that covers the magic box and the music is performed by Steven Warren. Yas Bowley made the logo that you see at the very end of the film.
I hope you enjoy! You can purchase your very own Chateau Mouse here although I can’t promise she’ll dance for you!
June is nearly upon us and I’m eagerly watching my roses, waiting for them to burst into bloom.
Of course June also sees the ‘Antique Rose’ themed Heirloom Doll Sewing workshop at Domaine De La Salle in southwest France with myself and Nicki of Nicki Franklin Needlework. There are still a few spaces available and all the prices, menus and other details can be found below…itinerary to follow.
To book, please contact the chateau owner direct: here
There is a magical place near the sunny south west coast of France called Domaine De La Salle. It’s not a showy, shiny chateau with golden chandeliers and shiny wallpaper, it’s so much better than that, it is authentic and that is something that is becoming harder and harder to find nowadays.
It has one, perfectly perfect turret with steely blue tiles, I never did pluck up the courage to peek inside. Maybe there are owls in there, maybe doves…maybe a long forgotten forlorn princess. The walls are bleached white from centuries of sun and salty air blowing in from the west. Surrounded by woods and acres of countryside, it is quiet and tranquil, the kind of place where normal life seems one hundred years away and owls really do land on your bedroom window sill.
It is owned by the most charming and enthusiastic couple, Mariam and Jono who bought the mini-chateau in 2016 and using local craftsmen and artisans, have slowly brought the ‘sleeping beauty’ back to life.
The chateau has recently been featured on the popular TV show ‘Escape to the Chateau DIY’ and you can watch the three episodes that include Domaine de la Salle on Channel 4’s catchup website, look out for Episodes 14, 15 and 16. I even make a sneaky appearance as the very mysterious ‘seamstress’!
These short snapshots of Mariam and Jono’s story only scratch the surface of the hard work that has been put into the building. The authenticity, the eye for detail, the hand painted mural that Mariam has restored in the main entrance and the kitchen tiles that Angel made at Chateau de la Motte Husson from Mariam’s designs.
The details are still being discussed but in late Spring/early Summer Mariam and Jono are once again letting me loose in the attic sewing room. Over three days and two nights the chateau will be filled with stitching and laughter, tea and cake, a trip to purchase antique linen and laces, buttons and petticoats at the nearby brocante, candlelit dinners and fresh local produce based lunches. I am lucky enough to have the wonderful Nicki Franklin of The Stitchery accompanying me, you will see from her website how her use of faded colours is a perfect match with all things chateau.
The weekend’s goal is to sew an heirloom chateau doll, a precious thing to hand down through the generations. We will be using tea stained linen, (time permitting we will do this at the chateau), antique fabrics and laces, old French buttons and all natural wool for the hair and stuffing. We will make a visit to the nearby brocante where you will be able to spend a complimentary voucher on whatever treasures you find for your doll. Nicki will help you embroider a motif or initial onto the doll’s dress all whilst you enjoy the tranquil surroundings, bird song and warm sun as it pours in through the attic sewing room windows, (unless it pours, in which case you can enjoy the gentle patter of summer rain!)
Your accommodation will be in the chateau itself along with a two bedroom gite in the grounds. The rooms are mostly doubles apart from one room that is a twin room. There is also a suite room with living room and also two courtyard rooms.
All meals and drinks will be included so all you have to do is get yourself to the chateau as flights and transfers are not included in the price.
Prices and dates will be released very soon so keep a beady eye on this blog and all my other social media. If you would like to be notified prior to the release or have any questions or queries then please do email me Wilderstitch
The weekend will be limited to eight people, (not including non-stitching partners) to keep the atmosphere magical and intimate.