stitching for martinmas

don't want it to end

Ah the best laid plans and all, huh!  I am in the throes of writing a tutorial on pinwheels and squares within squares.  It was to be all done and dusted by the end of the weekend and posted here for my mum, for any of you dear readers who are interested, and for me to check back on when the need arises.

But those best laid plans are sometimes so easily lost .  There I was on Saturday, beautiful weather, all my sewing things set up on the table outside – even my machine and iron, under the umbrella, sun, gentle breeze – such good spring jolliness – stitching and writing and photo-taking – having a blast!  And then I got stung by a bee.  I’m a little bit allergic to bees (my father is SUPER allergic to bees) and so we do take bee stings a little bit seriously – 25 mg of Phenergan and constant supervision from a reliable adult seriously.  So my outdoor sewing fun came to an abrupt stop.  I took my tablet, and spent the rest of the afternoon traipsing around after Julian (he had things to do and I needed to stay close just in case I began to puff up) and dozing on the banana lounge.  Hmm.  So much for the patchwork tutorial.

Sunday – dreadful weather so no more outside sewing.  Besides, I had the worst Phenergan hangover and spent the day in a bit of a fog.  The patchwork tutorial – nope.  Monday – lovely stay at home day for everyone (funny old Melbourne with its extra long weekend for a HORSE RACE).  Abby visited friends, we did some shoppings.  The plan was to finish the tutorial …. but …. see, I bought a lovely red velvet cushion cover at Ikea and I had this idea …

A special felt appliqued cushion for Martinmas!  It had been fluttering around my imagination for a while, and you know, with those best laid plans scattered from one end of the house to another, it just seemed this was the perfect time to settle down to a good bit of stitching.  I know I’ve said this before … I love making pictures with felt and embroidery.  Love, love, love.  I’ve discovered I’m especially fond of saints – maybe I was an iconographer in a former life?

So, I settled down at the kitchen table with my tracing paper, suitcase of felt, and google for some pointers on just what St. Martin looked like and off I went.  Such.  Bliss.  Did I say I WANT to be an iconographer?  One who works with felt and embroidery.  Yes please.  Sign me up now.

Today … why more of the same loveliness.  And thankfully, the beautiful weather was back, we all headed outside and there were no more bee stings.  Phew!  Instead there was sooo much stitching, game playing, breakfast, lunch and cocktails, reading, drawing, angle grinding … the rabbits cut the grass, the chickens dug dirt holes and sunbathed in them, the dog danced on her back legs trying to catch flies … perfection.

As for St. Martin – so close to being finished.  I just have to add the other cross to his lapel thingy.  And finish his book.  And then stitch him onto the red velvet and bob’s your uncle.  And it’s not even Martinmas until next Tuesday!

drawing smile felt suitcase putting the pieces together setting up outside favourite inspiration a tangle of thread part of the story dappled light game

If I had to choose one thing I love best about my St. Martin, it would have to be his wrinkles.  I was a bit unsure about stitching them in, but he just looked too smooth and young as he was so I took a deep breath and began stitching.  I think they really worked out well!  Will certainly be using wrinkles in future works.

And all the colour.  I love colour.  I love reading about how churches and statues in medieval and renaissance times were chock full of colour – every little thing brilliantly illuminated in glorious colour.  Why not, I say.  Wouldn’t it an absolute wonder to restore all that colour to the ancient churches of England and Europe.  Woot!  That’s why my St. Martin is a richly coloured dear.

ageing him the back

I’m always a bit partial to the back of my work.  It’s like a puzzle – sometimes you can almost see it, other times you can’t.

finally the book inside

Now – thinking ahead – I’ve already done St. Lucia.  Definitely need to do St. Nicholas.  Perhaps the Three Wise Kings?  Mary?  Absolutely!  And Wencelas?  Definitely need to do Wencelas!  Thank goodness I had a Catholic schooling – it’s given me so many to choose from!

a cosy easter table

from the window

husband and wife bunnies

the bunnies


chicks in eggs

easter tree

with curtain behind

blue pompom

above the lamp

close up bunnies

bunnies on plate

fancy rabbitegg marshmallow

fresh buns

glowing candles

Such a lovely Easter Sunday breakfast.  The sky was still leaden and dark with the occasional misty sprinkle of rain.  But in our kitchen, all was golden and warm and fragrant.

I just LOVE setting the Easter table.  I wake up early, turn on the lamps, make a pot of tea, heat the coffee machine, and set to work.  First, I spread out the 1940s yellow damask tablecloth.  On top, I add Nanny Dougall’s square linen cloth – it has dear little blue and pink flowers embroidered across it and a delicate crocheted lace edging.  I should add here – I NEVER iron the tableclothes :-)  I smooth them out and know that by the time the rest of the table is set, no one will notice a single crease!  I know, lazy huh!  Then I set out the Easter plates I painted years and years ago at a little “paint-your-own-china-shop” in Brisbane.  The Easter bowls and mugs are next.

Then comes the really fun bit ….   I arrange the wee china rabbits, colourful expresso cups with tea lights, prettily coloured beads, little paper thin, painted eggs that Aunty Anne gave me, a pair of sweet felt chicks in their eggs, and of course, the Easter Tree with its cloth pompoms.

I do so love these pompoms – I started making them a week before Easter on Mum’s back porch in Brisbane when we lived with her.  All week I made pompoms – in the car whilst waiting to collect Abby from school and cello, in bed at night before going to sleep, at the breakfast table with a cup of tea each morning, and eventually, on Good Friday with Carolann and Peter at Rainbow Bay.  It was a terribly dreary, wet day – not that the children noticed –  and Carolann and I sat on the sofa looking out at the magnificent Pacific Ocean whilst the children decorated paper dolls.    Each year when I take them out, I think of all these moments and the people that shared them with me and truly, it warms my heart.

This year, the Easter Tree itself is a different one.  The white painted mangrove branch that we brought home after it washed up on the beach at Wellington Point broke – completely snapped off from its plastered home in the galvanised bucket.  It sort of got left in the garden after that.  Hmmm …  So this year – thanks to some fierce north easterlies – I used a branch from our back garden oak.  And it was good.

A new addition this year – the felted eggs and a pair of wooden bunnies that Julian and I had a marvellous time making in the shed on Easter Saturday.  I drew them and cut them out of pine.  Julian dremelled their edges and added some engraved details.  I stained them and added the wee felt eggs in their baskets.  The only detail we didn’t get to was adding the felted carrots that were supposed to hang from their paws – next year.

Finally, bowls and mugs are filled with bunnies and chocolate eggs are scattered across the table.  Whilst all of this is happening, the hot cross bun dough is magically rising in the corner.  By the time the table is finished, the dough is ready to pull apart and shape into buns.  I let them rise 15 minutes longer, then whilst they bake in the oven, I sip my umpteenth cup of tea and the family begin to rise and sleepily wander out.

It’s my favourite part of our Easter weekend.


felted easter eggs

rooster legs

Friday morning dawned grey and quiet.  Just as it should be.  Family consensus … a day spent together, crafting, listening, watching, sharing.

Me?  I made Easter Eggs.  The non-edible variety.  Inspired by the terribly sweet, cheerfully coloured and decorated candy eggs that were popular when I was little.  The ones that broke your teeth.  And rotted your surviving teeth as you ate it.  Oh they were good :-)

finishing the sheep

I started with a mandala/Ukranian decorative design.  But then, spying “Petook: An Easter Story” which I’d taken down from the shelf to re-read, I decided the rest of my felt eggs would tell a more traditional tale.

I needle felted the trees of Calvary, a wee lamb of God, a radiant sunrise, and a Rooster … joyfully singing at the miracle that is the arrival of each new day, and the beauty and wonder of life that comes with it.


The last step of each egg … adding the crocheted trim (like the piped iced edges of the candy eggs) was by far the trickiest and most time consuming.  But all were finished and ready for the Easter table.

And in a week’s time, they will be carefully packed into the Easter box, awaiting their turn to shine again next year.  That’s one of the things I love about the handmade loveliness we create and keep for our special festivals.  Each year, we pull them out and there they are, filled up with the love and effort of previous years.  Reminding us of the richness and comfort of family life as it journeys with the sun, round and round and round.

all together

ukrainian style




rooster and chick

on the easter table

If Easter is a feast you keep, in whatever form, I hope it was filled with family, love and happiness :-)

~ loveliness found ~ 13/52

 if you would like to share your ~loveliness found~ moments from this week
… & I would so love it if you did …
please leave them in the comments or share a link to your place!

getting there

with patchwork

~ and still I stitch, one little red figure after another,
first band finished, second started, feeling rather impatient,
but oh, they look such jolly folk ~

making monkey bread

monkey bread

~ monkey bread … an easter treat
for the little girls …
they were amazed they had lived ten years without it ~


frozen dinner

~ after sleepless nights and endless writing,
I stole an hour between classes and babysitting for reading on the bed,
& made the most of those frozen dinners ~

calculator and christmas pudding

~ panicked hunting for the dinky calculator,
essential for the next day’s drugs calc exam,
led me to both calculator & a forgotten darrell lea christmas pudding!
perfect for soothing pre-exam nerves & a sure sign that I would pass ~

rediscovering favourite books

~ this is why I will never throw away a single picture book,
no matter how old we grow ~

the  back

~ sometimes the back is just as enchanting as the front, don’t you find ~

hot cross buns


~ four days of hot cross buns – oh yum ~