A beautiful book by Yumiko Higuchi

IMG_6180When I first began Lilipopo it was zakka sewing that interested and encouraged me.  I love the way very simple designs can be beautiful with a little care.  So over the Easter weekend I had a little time to do some personal stitching and pulled out my zakka embroidery book by Yumiko Higuchi.  I have had this book  for quite a while now.  I did stitch one design when I first received it, loved it and then put the book in my bookcase and left it.  This week my train pass wallet fell to pieces in my hands so I decided that, rather than get another ugly plastic one from Great Western Rail, I would stitch my own pretty one and I remembered this book

IMG_6181 (1)There is a card wallet pattern in the book but I wanted a different design on it so I used the wallet pattern but spent some time working out where to put elements of the botanical design onto the wallet pattern.  I think most of the designs can be put onto most of the projects.  I love this design!  Flowers and insects are fabulous for stitching.  


this little bee is stitched with stem or outline stitch in the book.  I got ahead of myself and misread the pattern and stitched it using backstitch.  But he still looks great.  I had to use double my normal number of strands but I love the way it stands out from the fabric but it still has the details.

IMG_6184I really wanted to stitch this flower!  I was a little wary of all the chain stitch and at first I did have to do some undoing until I had a chain that seemed a good size but, once I got stitching, it was a dream to stitch.  I love love love the effect of the chain stalk and the running stitch petals.  I'm not too sure why I put the bird where I did other than that I wanted to stitch the bird!  I think he could be elsewhere but I still love the simple design.  The final wallet is perfect for my train pass and library card.


and I am so addicted to these designs that I have started another tile pattern.  This is a little lavender or pin cushion, I haven't decided yet... I just wanted to stitch it.  Lots more chain stitch practice.  I think chain could be my new addiction, which surprises me because it's not a stitch I would normally use very much.

I absolutely recommend this book, it's perfect for making small projects that you can carry around anywhere with you.  The focus is on one or two colours so you don't even need lots of threads to take about with you.  The projects would make beautiful gifts too. 

I would love to hear about your favourite embroidery books, after all you can never have too many!

Now I'll hide this stitching away for the weekend and get on with my work!



blog hop Modern folk embroidery

Cover picture 2

A few weeks ago I received an email asking if I might be interested in reviewing the new Nancy Nicholson book 'Modern Folk Embroidery'.  I am a big fan of Nancy Nicholson's colourful embroidery kits and already have her beautiful cat sampler waiting to be stitched up so I jumped at the chance.

I was sent a copy of the ebook.  I have never had a craft book as an ebook before but I really enjoyed using it.  It printed well and easily and I could just print out what I needed.

the book is really beautiful, she has a fabulous way with colour and I immediately wanted to stitch at least five of the projects but I didn't have any felt so I had to wait!

The projects are relatively simple in terms of stitching together.  They range from pin cushions to full size cushions, hanging decorations to tote bags and even a table runner and a little folk doll.  There are quite a few embroidered pictures for framing and some useful hints and tips.

I particularly loved the  stitch library which groups the stitches into 'families' such as running and herringbone.  She begins with the basic stitch and then gives you lots of ways to embellish the stitch.  The diagrams are nice and clear but I would recommend practicing  any unfamiliar stitches before stitching them onto your final project.

There is also a practical guide to tools and materials.  Nancy favours an air removable pen which may be wise for felt but I have a water removable pen so that's what I used.  The pilot frixion pen that I use for the fine lines of my patterns on linen/cotton wouldn't really work.


There are lots of beautiful projects in the book.  It was so difficult to choose just one to stitch.  I am absolutely going to have those beautiful hanging decorations all over the house!

I already had a whistle fish square white frame so I decided to stitch the bird on the cover because it fits the frame beautifully and because  I LOVE it!

Bird cut pieces

Once my local buttons and bows had opened up the next morning I stocked up on gorgeous felts in beautiful colours.  Once home I settled in with a coffee and Cerys on 6 playing on the i player radio to read through the instructions and start cutting pattern pieces and stitching.

-folk embroidery bird 3

The stitch instructions were easy to follow and I enjoyed feeling as though I was making it my own by choosing my felt and thread colours.  

Nancy suggests tacking the pieces in place first and then removing the tacking afterwards which I did with the smaller pieces.

I normally stitch with a hoop (because I normally stitch on linen) but for this I decided to do without and it which was fine because the felt I used was quite stiff enough.  I would recommend the good quality wool felt that she suggests (the white in my project isn't wool felt and was a little see through)

I drew lines and circles where I wanted my stitches using a water removable pen as I have a tendency to 'wander' when I am stitching

Bird stitching

I loved the feather stitching on the tail.  I did draw lines to follow so I didn't stray too far.  

Eskimo laced

and, just like Wild Olive I loved the Eskimo laced feather stitch.  The variations on running stitch are my favourite as they are so simple and yet so effective.

-folk embroidery bird full close up

The eagle eyed among you may notice that the flower stalk is missing from the picture!   I measured the bird and got so excited that it fit perfectly in my frame that I forgot about the flower!  But I still love it, even without the flower. 

I followed the stitching diagram quite closely but there are the most beautiful stitch pattern illustrations all the way through the book showing lots of combinations of stitches so you could use all kinds of other stitch combinations to create other birds.

There are diagrams for putting the projects together along with written instructions.  I found it easiest to use both together.

I have already started on a second project from the book and have a list of Christmas presents and decorations to make from it too


This is the start of the cuff bracelet...

I love the fact that this book opens embroidery up, especially for the beginner.  Once you've made all the beautiful projects that are in the book I think it will be difficult not to go on embellishing every textile surface in your home.  Which is probably what I'm going to do 

I'm hoping that if you click on this widget you will be able to look through the book but just in case my techy skills have failed me here is the link that should take you there.  The book is available for pre order on both Sew and so and Amazon (where you can have a look inside).

I bought all my threads from Sew and So and my felt locally.  There are a few suppliers of felt listed in the back of the book that I will be trying.

And now take a look at the other fab stops in the blog hop to see more pics from the book and what my fellow stitchers chose to make

Monday 17th October - Sew and So
Wednesday 19th October - Wild Olive
Thursday 20th October - Kate and Rose
Friday 21st October - Right here at LiliPopo
Monday 24th October - Anna Scott Embroidery
Wednesday 26th October - Carina Crafts


on my work table

Today 001

Today is just one of those muddly days when I can't really settle to anything.  I spent the morning photographing my embroidery stuff for a series of blog posts for beginners starting next Friday.  Then I started sketching from my long long list of ideas for patterns but then I got restless and switched to reading

Today 2

so I drifted off looking at flower paintings.  I am loving reading about the crazy tulipmania in the Netherlands in the 17th century, breaking into people's greenhouses and stealing their bulbs, not to mention bulbs worth 17 years of a carpenter's wage!!  

But mostly I just love Flemish Art.  

The British book has some nice botanical paintings too but the stories aren't quite so dramatic!

Finally, towards the end of the day I found my ink and pens as I was tidying

Today 3

and started doodling... but then the children came back from their sea swimming and the house filled up with noise and wet clothes and towels and hunger... 

And now it's quiet for a short while, children fed and most of the wet stuff drying.  So a little time to procrastinate on the internet.




it was a lot like this at the weekend, I don't know where the sun has gone!  Surfing didn't happen due to coughs and snuffles but middle son did join the local cycling club on Sunday for a 36 mile bike ride.  Apparently there were an awful lot of hills and definitely quite a bit of rain

Jason pics 012

I don't know where these children of mine get their hardiness, I can only assume they got all my mum's northern blood and I must have my dad's macedonian blood because all I want is a nice mediterranean climate with warm sea!!

Knitting 005

which gives a good clue as to what I was doing at the weekend (indoors and cosy).  I finished J's hat and he's so pleased with it that he has gone to work wearing it, which means I haven't photographed it.  This is the beginning of my own hat in a blue heathery cascade yarn.  I have to say I love this pattern.  It is my most successful piece of knitting in that I have had requests from children for the same hats.  It is also lovely to knit, just interesting enough to keep me from getting bored but not so complicated that I can't watch David Attenborough's Africa while I'm knitting. The pattern is called dustland hat and is by west knits here.

I downloaded some Trollope onto the kindle (for free!!) for some cosy reading. I love 19th century literature, I think it's all the rules, good manners, conversation and letter writing.

Laure Berthaud_crop_resize

and I was desperately keen to watch the new series of spiral but we didn't have time so I am waiting patiently to catch up on the first two episodes.  In all honesty it's usually so complicated I could probably watch them secretly now and still watch them again with J later without giving anything away.

I hope you all had lovely cosy or (if you prefer) cold wet outdoorsy times this weekend.  Perhaps a little bit of both

what I made last night


I was looking through this lovely book by Amanda Blake Soule (Soulemama) to find a pattern for a bag that I could pop into my bag when I'm in town as I find all too often I underestimate the amount of shopping I can fit in my bag and come home with a co-op plastic bag


this broadturn bag was perfect, but as tends to happen when I look at soulemama I got distracted by her lovely writing and drifted through the book until I came across a pot holder


and thought of my beloved but slightly dangerous (according to other members of the household) kettle, with a handle that does seem to get hotter by the minute!  But then I got further sidetracked by this quote


so I grabbed the linen and thread that I took out to the beach earlier (and clearly didn't use at the beach!) and stitched it up.

The quote is from Roosevelt but it made me think of the kind of advice your grandma might give you (perhaps Roosevelt's grandma gave this advice to him).  I thought of all those old pieces of wisdom that no longer have a name attached to them (if they ever did).  I love this quote, I think we're all guilty of believing that if we just had this or lived there (France in the sunshine, eating outside, swimming in the sea...) then life would be perfect.  I am not entirely sure how I'm going to finish this, I like the idea of something a bit rough and patchy like this hanging where I can be reminded every day to just get on with it!

I do still need to make the bag and the pot holder so perhaps I should go look at what I have and get on with it!


Birthday 1

it was my birthday last week and, probably because birthdays can get a little worrying in your forties!! I was most very spoilt!  Meals cooked for me, lazing around the house and not a stitch was sewn that day

Birthday d

I was also treated by my lovely daughter (although I had to email for it!) to an absolutely gorgeous pencil case from the lovely fiona T.  It is most fabulous and fits all of my pens with room for some more!!

Birthday a

and then there were the books!

Birthday c

I am something of a book a holic

Birthday b

and a craft a holic so I will blog about these books as we use them

Birthday 4

but this was my most favourite book of all.  Emily Dickinson's poetry.  She is not a poet I had paid much attention to, I knew a couple of her more famous poems but that was all.  I was sauntering around the library looking for something to read when I found a biography about her 'lives like loaded guns'.  The biography was fascinating and I found i just loved her poetry so J thoughtfully bought me this copy of her complete works.


and then summer came and everything stopped for a day of kayaking, swimming, relaxing and forgetting quite how hot the sun is in July and getting burnt


so now I'm back indoors planning

Stitching forever

and sewing up a storm for the big craft fair over here


and a little bit of lovely fairy sewing for a commission

I will be away from this lovely space for a couple of weeks while my sister is here and we all behave as though we're on holiday beaching and eating ice creams.  I hope you all enjoy the heat wave (if you're in England) or whatever season you are in at the moment