When I decided to have a go at writing a blog, I did my research to see what was out there already. Lots and lots of fabulously interesting stuff! There seemed to be a great many about taking photos of walks in the woods and countryside, trees, the sky, flowers, plants, children’s wellie boots in puddles, all very sweet and lovely to read, but decided to leave this to those who do it so well…

HOWEVER….. today I really couldn’t help myself, when out in the garden putting the washing on the line, seeing these little chaps bobbing about in the breeze…. Oh Golly, here I go, back into the kitchen to get my camera!



I do love my flowers, ALWAYS have fresh flowers on my window sill in the kitchen (at the moment a pot of tiny daffs…. see my blog on EASTER PAPER LOLLY’S) I L-O-V-E all flowers but do have some special favourite ones.
Fritillaria are one of them but I would never have these as cut flowers as I like them better in the garden.
I adore anemone’s and ranunculus and have a little wimper at roses too! Love the class of BIG smelly lilies, and think that mid summer, there is nothing better than own grown sweet peas.

Back to little checky Fritillaria’s… I have a few things dotted around the house…

This print I bought years ago at the COUNTRY LIVING FAIR in London.


This greetings card that was a MOTHERS DAY card from my daughter a few years ago that I still have propped up.


This little fairy that hangs from the dresser in the kitchen…. just look at her cheeky little dangly legs and funny little shoes…



…. and lastly, one more snaps taken in my garden today….


Oh flowers!

Best wishes to all, Jay x

My little extra snippet for you by Soo … A survey says “More people use a blue tooth brush than a red one”


You know when you are cooking and the recipe says “add seasoning” which we all know as salt and pepper, well what about having a special home made seasoning especially made by you in your kitchen!

On the kitchen counter top right next to the cooker I have my collection of every day cooking ingredients. I must admit that I normally don’t like having “things” cluttering up my counter top…. unless the “things” are attractive!


So what I do is decant all my every day ingredients into attractive bottles, dishes and jars…
As they are unpacked from my shopping bag.


I make up my special seasoning, which I put in a pretty little snap shut, air tight jar.

The large glass bottles I bought from Ikea at just a few pounds. Other little jars you can pick up really cheaply from cook shops.

The old fashioned pickle jar I use for my sugar I bought from the junk shop (ooooOOoo should I say second hand shop?) for next to nothing.

Bog standard table salt in a cute little glass dish with lid, and I found a teeny little wooden scoop… perfect!


I mixed up own ground salt crystal, and normal table salt, black and white pepper corns ground, and a pinch of vegetarian stock powder. This, I use all the time for seasoning. It is especially tasty to sprinkle on roast potatoes after a little drizzle of olive oil… try it and see!

On my little shiny tin tray I have:-

Bottle of pure olive oil for salad dressings, drizzle and to add flavour
Bottle of “lite” olive oil which I like to use for quick stir fry’s
Bottle of normal corn oil for roasting and greasing cake tins and baking trays
Jar of my special seasoning
Dish of salt for adding to water of some vegetable cooking (not many as most I use the steamer)
Pepper grinder for salads and sandwiches
Jar of little paper sachet of sugar that I have saved when having a coffee out (I don’t take sugar) I find these very useful if you need just a little sprinkle over strawberries or in a salad dressing.


My posh pepper and salt grinders, salt with pink salt crystals! Not sure if they do taste any different, but it is very pretty!

I know that some may think it is a waste of time and a bit compulsive, to do all this, but I quite like ‘my’ tray of every day cooking items looking attractive and close at hand…

And all the empty bottles and jars go into the recycling bin too!

Okay… you think I’m nuts… right? :o)
Season food with love, best wishes, Jay x

My little extra snippet for you by Soo “Prior to the 1930′s, diamonds were rarely given as the stone in engagement rings… other precious stones were”


Well, what a dear little chap! Let me tell you how I came by this delightful pattern…
A dear friend of mine took the challenge and decided to make LOLLA BEAR for her daughter. She was telling me about this marvellous talented crochet designer HEIDI BEAR, who I had not come across before. I was totally overcome by the designs, they are absolutely wonderful! The method of crochet is based on AFRICAN crochet shapes.

Oh, please have a look at HIEDI’S website to see all her creations, and her lovely story… You can buy and down load HEIDI’S pattern for a very reasonable cost, the patterns are sooOOooo detailed and beautifully photographed so looking at them will makes you really want to make one of her lovely creatures!

Have a look at Heidi’s blog where you can reach her pattern down loads

So, off my friend went to the craft shop to buy her yarn (she bought two lots, one for practice and another for “proper”)

In the mean time I found this lovely magazine with the little birds on the front cover… I bought two copies one for me and another as a little treat for my friend. I thought the BLUEBIRD of HAPPINESS would be a good practice for both of us to make and get our AFRICAN pentagon, hexagon, triangle and square perfected before starting on our animals.


I loved the colour combination of red and blue with a hint of lime green so those are the yarn colours I decided on.
The red and green are ROWAN pure wool 4 ply, and the blue ROWAN wool cotton 4 ply, and they work just fine together… I was a little concerned about using two different yarns, but I went with my gut feel as the colours were more important to me than keeping yarn type the same… I need not have worried!

I made all my pentagons first (11 multi-coloured and 2 self coloured)


Then the two squares, and last shapes was the triangle…

And very lastly I made the little three feather tail (which was a little tricky!) Sorry, forgot to take a photo of the tail before stitching onto the bird. To curl the feathers a little I wrapped them around a pencil, pinned them and sprayed with a little water and left to dry.


This is the little heap of “tail-ends” that I snipped away while I tidied the finished crochet shapes.


Then I made up the bird according to Heidi’s very comprehensive instructions and photographs in the magazine (very, very detailed I TOTALLY RECOMMEND you buy a copy!) adding the tail feather, beak and eyes…
I am thrilled to bits with the results… what do you think?

Be happy, crochet one of HEIDI’S creations.

Best wished, Jay x

My little extra snippet for you… fact by Soo “The name WENDY was made up for the original book PETER PAN, there was never a recorded Wendy before”


I have been invited to an OMG meeting at the Oxfam shop in Skipton this week, by Mary the manager.  Sounds like she has a nice little collection of Easter goodies to display in the shop, ready to sell to those who want to celebrate Easter and most importantly to support the charity. It will be great to find out how OMG is going as well.

Have a look at their site… it explains it all!

I’ve had my “thinking cap” on again trying to conjure up some more ideas that might be of interest and may raise a little bit on funds to keep OMG going and support such a super idea…. This is what I have come up with…

Paper lolly pop’s!


You could stick them in pot plants to make a quick and “super” easy display for Easter (different colours and styles for other seasons… what do you think?)



Make some lolly’s shapes  to stick onto cards to make  “any occasions cards”   (very useful to have in stock in case you need to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY,  THANK YOU, or a simple little  GET WELL SOON message)

This is how they are made if you want to have a go, or if you want to buy these you will need to pop into Oxfam Skipton as that is where they will be soon!

You will need to hunt around in your craft cupboard for  few things or see if your crafty friends might have bits and bobs to give or loan you, or pop into your local craft shop…. you need an excuse to visit…? Oh no you don’t!!

I used these card/paper punches, normal stationery hole punch and a glue stick.


Then I collected coloured card, sticky spots, coloured wire and little fine sticks from the florists… (or even BBQ bamboo kebab sticks)


If you can only find plain white sticky spots (like price labels you can buy from the stationers) don’t worry, get out your coloured felt tip pens or SHARPIES, and colour them in…. easy!


Then off you go, punching, sticking, glueing…


Choose  colour schemes, or use up all sorts of little bits and bobs of card in your craft stash…

Make other things, why not make a little hole in one side, thread a length of  cotton or fine ribbon,  and make parcel tags…


Stick then onto  little boxes (have a look at my previous blog on HAPPINESS BOXES to see how they are made)  make them into decorations…


Get carried away and use the punched out circles (make a little punch hole either side) to make colourful garland buntings of all sorts of cards, use garden twine, thread, ribbon, yarn  to string them together.


… any colours…


… any cards… look around in your paper/recycling bin and see what you can use,  some thing for the guys, have a close look!


… good Eh!…

Thanks once again for your visit, keep busy with ideas…

Bye, Jay X

My little extra snippet for you, fact by Soo    “The Mona Lisa has no eye brows”


Hello you!
I promised a little while ago to share with you my take on how to choose thread for your sewing projects. I am no expert in “thread” technology, but what I do know is what I have found out with trial and error in my projects over years (and years…) of sewing.

So here goes!


There are some lovely colour ranges of 100% cotton threads out there, my personal favourites are COATS, GUTERMANN, METTLER, and YLI. The normal “sew-all” threads are super for all dress making (if you are using cotton fabric) and especially lovely to use for piecing a quilt and quilting too! I would always use cotton thread over polyester given a choice, however saying this, polyester has a place too!
If you are dress making and using a fine 100% wool, I would tend to use cotton thread.
The companies I have mentioned all have a good colour range. METTLER have several different types of cotton thread.




Super for when you are quilting but I wouldn’t use for piecing, the range of colours are limited, but perfectly adequate for nearly all fabric colours ranges. You can buy METTLER (plain solid colours) and YLI (good range of beautiful variegated and solid plains) quilting threads.
Quilting thread often has a conditioner coating, normally some thing like potato starch. This glides the thread through the layers, pieced/wadding/backing.

I have also found this an excellent thread to use for hand quilting as, like I have already mentioned it glides through the layers, is nicely balanced and tends not to twiddle and knot. I don’t like it when quilting with normal thread when a tiny fibre of wadding catches on the thread and pulls through to the top… especially annoying when using dark fabrics as most wadding tends to be either natural or white. (There are a few black waddings around but I have found them often difficult to get hold of) Conditioned threads helps with this problem I find.

However, if you use normal cotton thread for hand quilting I find conditioning the thread with light bees wax or THREAD HEAVEN (very lite wax) makes it so much easier to sew through the layers, (top pieced, wadding/batting and backing).  Using a conditioner helps balance the thread better and avoids knotting.  TIP don’t try and use long lengths of thread,  use a comfortable length so the thread won’t twiddle and knot.



In quilting it is much better to stick to cotton thread, most quilting fabric is 100% cotton so it makes scence to use cotton thread. If you do use polyester thread with cotton fabric, you may find over time (thinking… quilts are often heirlooms) thats if you have used polyester thread it may wear the cotton fabric as it is a much stronger/sharper thread, which tears the fabric.




If you are using any synthetic fabric, then polyester is a good choice. For example COATS have a really fantastic colour range of “DUET” thread. If you have polyester thread in your work box and the colour matches perfectly with your fabric, thats if you are making a quilt that is not some thing you would consider an heirloom, then yes… use it! Often you can get some HUGE reels of polyester thread really very inexpensively for about £1. I do have a stash of these in my work box that I use when I “chenille” (Oh… another blog is coming on here… yes, I must tell you about this craft… I will blog in the future about this, I promise!) Also having a reel or two of bargain polyester thread is great for “tacking” purposes too.




There are several different threads I would use for machine embroidery. If you want a nice “shiny” finish then I would suggest GUTERMANN RAYON(Sulky). If you prefer a “matte” finish then go for METTLER fine embroidery (which is cotton) this thread gives a subtle matte finish. When ever you are using the sewing machine for embroidery, especially when using rayon, I would have a little play around on some test fabric first to make sure your machine tension is correct… you may have to reduce the tension by “ever-such-a-little-bit” You will know how your machine behaves and may find the tension is absolutely fine.


Now, not a particular favourite of mine! You will really have to know your way around your sewing machine to get the best results when using metallic thread. It tends to split, so reduce your tension and use a special “bobbin” thread for the underneath thread. If you are hand sewing with metallic then use little short lengths and change often. You will have to give yourself a little talking to if you are any thing like me… be patient and don’t try an hurry your project.



If you are using silk fabric, or delicate fabric such as organza, dupion, chiffon, velvet… a 100% silk or silk finish thread is an idea choice. I enjoy using silk thread for invisible hand appliqué, the fabric just absorbs the fineness of the silk thread beautifully and I love the result. I do use silk thread for tacking too! Now this is an extreme indulgence and I only use silk for tacking if it is a terrible colour which I will NEVER use in a quality project. The reason I like using silk to tack, is it has a very low breakage point, so it pulls out of fabric so easily… naughty but nice! The 100% silk threads I like are GUTTERMANN and COATS, both have a super colour range, for special projects!



Another very versatile thread you should have in your thread stash. Obviously great for button holes and top stitch but also great if you need extra strength in a project. I use this thread if I need to pull something up really tightly rather than double thread.



HAND STITCHING. These threads are mostly used in counted cross stitch or hand embroidery, however I do quite like to use them for MATTE decrative designs too! For example, if you wanted to do some pretty stitches on a linen cushion front then ANCHOR or DMC are super. They come six stranded so for a chunky look use the whole lot, or for a finer look, split the threads. These threads come in hanks rather than reels. There are lots and lots of very pretty hand sewing threads on the market, some that come to mind other than ANCHOR and DMC are OLIVER TWIST and MADEIRA… Great for any free style stitching, couching and mixed in to felted projects too!


There are other threads I favour and have a place in my collection.  Invisible in clear and smoke (very useful if you want invisible on  a dark fabric)  are useful if you want to have an “embossed” look to your work but no colour, they can be temperamental, so knowing how your sewing machine responds is always a bonus.  Remember to practice first of odd scraps, adjust your tension (ever-such-a-little-bit-at-a-time!) and use a bobbin thread in the bobbin spool.

Fusible is a useful little number too!  Great if you want to do a bit of appliqué, but do follow the instructions, the same goes for wash-away threads… always remember to mark the reel WASH-AWAY or you will be most disappointed if you use this one by mistake thinking it is just a normal thread… wash your project and find it falls apart… not a good feeling!



100% cotton, Polyester, Machine embroidery Rayon (Sulky), variegated,  Metallic, 100% pure silk, button hole/top stitch, bobbin (to carry fancy top threads)

Sew All 100% cotton, DUET polyester, Seta Reale(silk and corded), 100% silk, invisible, metallic, linen, Bating.

100% cotton Quilting, fine embroidery, silk finish, various variegated, metallic, Polysheen (similar to Rayon).

Quilting (solid and varigated), Invisible, Leingerie, Wash-away.


DMC (Hand)

Stranded cotton (six strands), Metallic, Light effect, Cotton Pearle, Pearle Metallic.


ANCHOR (hand)

Stranded cotton (six strands), Marlit, Lame’, Pearle Cotton (no’s 5 and 8) Soft Cotton, Coton a’ Broder.


I am certain that the above companies have other threads to those I have mentioned, but these are the ones I am familiar with.  There are lots of other manufactures of threads that I haven’t given a mention I am sure!  If you delve into ‘THREADS”  I bet you would find a whole host of others that you could add to my list.


Hope the information I have touched on may help you with a thread choice for your project.  I would be delighted to help out if I can with any questions you might have…


Cheerio for now, Jay XX


Extra snippet for you from Soo  “No two spiders webs are the same….”


Have you heard that OXFAM  in SKIPTON have a concept for crafters to donate and make…?  It has been named OMG!  (Oxfam Makers Group) go into the site and have a look  to see all about it.  They explain it much better than I ever could!)   Well,  I met  the ladies from OXFAM at YARNDALE    who were holding a YARN AMNISTY!  what a terrific idea!
If you want any information, help, advice or just a chat to see what you can do, ask for Mary (the Branch Manager) she is the brain child behind it all! She’s brilliant…

After Yarndale in September “13, I got stuck into my stash of “crafty things” made a few bits and bobs before Christmas for them to sell.  Now we are approaching Easter so my thinking cap is on again!

This is one of the things I have come up with:-


They are really easy to make if you fancy having a go to either add to your Easter display in your home, or to make to give this Easter!

There are many different versions in good crochet books, or you can search on PINTEREST, or just google or look at utube tutorials… This is my absolute favourite go to Heidi Bears blog and look at crochet Easter Eggs. Her tutorial is just FANTASTIC, helps you every single step of the way, lots of excellent photos and the end result is a perfect egg! You will be blown away with Heidi’s other tutorials and her patterns… I need to talk to you about all of this in a later blog…

So, first of all you need to make your eggs…


Then start adding the little ribbons so you can loop them on to a twiggy decoration.


I love my little tweezer grippy gadgets which work brilliantly for this project. (Sorry… I know, I have mentioned these before!)


Grip the ribbon and push gently through a few stitches at the “top” of your egg.


Pull the ribbon through a nice little length, enough to make a loop, make a knot and tie a little bow. Gently pull the loop down so the knot is near the crocheting, wiggle it a bit and help the knot to sit in-between the crochet stitches, use your little grippers to do this or use a knitting needle… be gentle…


So, this is what they look like. Either match ribbon to colour of egg, or mix and match.



I got a bit carried away one weekend and made this whole bowl full…. don’t they look great!


So before I take them into OMG in Skipton for them to display and sell, I thought I would have a little play at arranging them and this is what I came up with, you will find other ideas to display them differently I am sure!


Nice fresh EASTER colours!


Hope you have a very HAPPY EASTER with lots of eggs, most being BIG CHOCOLATE ONES!!

Bye for now,

Jay x

Extra snippet by Soo…
Cola would be green if colouring wasn’t added…. true!


There are so many projects about to save this and that, various charities asking for help and donations, and of course recycling programmes. ALL of them are fantastic and normally have one, or a team of enthusiastic people behind them. ALL of these ideas need help, but lets be truthful about this, there are only so many you can support. In our family we have each chosen one charity that we would go out of our way to help. We all decided on a different one which is great as we some times “employ” each other for help within the family for our chosen charity!

Another time, another blog I will tell you who we support.

There are also a few things we are passionate about as a family, one being recycling. We have all the bins “parked” beside the house for paper, plastic, tins and glass as we are most particular about our rubbish!

Another “little” thing we do (and you can do this too… if you enjoy tea and coffee from Taylor’s) is to save the little tokens from TAYLOR’S product, to simply HELP SAVE THE RAINFOREST! It’s really easy and costs one sheet of paper and a postage stamp, what’s that, nothing these days! You can find the coupons on the bottom of YORKSHIRE TEABAG cartons, and on the side of TAYLOR’S FRESH GROUND COFFEE packets.




Have a look at the website they have specially done for this project, visit

Just collect the tokens, down load a collecting sheet from the website. I have asked extended family and friends to save their tokens too! Now I have such a nice little wad of filled in sheets that I am ready to pop in the post to TAYLOR’S. This is what they say:-


“Help us save THE RAIN FOREST… By collecting these tokens you can help save the RAINFOREST. For every four you save 50p goes to the YORKSHIRE RAINFOREST PROJECT. Send your completed token sheets to Yorkshire Tea, Admail 819, Harrogate, HG1 1AZ” For more information contact or phone 0500 418898 or Betty’s and Taylor’s of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG2 7LD.

As well as this super idea that TAYLOR’S have organised, we all benefit from a GREAT cup of coffee and a SMASHING cup of tea!

Thanks for bobbing in to see what I am going on about…… Jay x

Extra little snippet for you from snoo:-
“A geep is the resulting offspring of a sheep and a goat… true!”


Okay… carrots might not be the first thing you think of when you think EASTER… by why not? Bunny rabbits eat them and we think of these fluffy little critters at EASTER, along with Easter eggs, and daffodils…

Why not get planning NOW for how you want to “DO” Easter and Spring in your home… Some of the days just recently have felt very Spring like, little bit of warmth in the sunshine, little bit of colour in the gardens…

Me being me, I decided to make a SPRING display for my kitchen window sill and the main feature being carrots!

I got my pencil and pad out and did a few sketches, made a pattern (well several actually) made a few fabric carrots up (well, quite a few actually) nothing like a batch of prototypes and came up with these!


I will show you how I made them, but if you want to have a go at making some too, maybe you would buy one of my kits I have for sale for £6.99 from my Etsy shop (go to TheSewingWren) After all, I supply in my kits*, a super selection of lovely orange and green fabric, enough to make six carrots, without the expense of having to buy lots of fabric. I thank you, in advance for your honesty!

*My unique kit includes:- instructions and diagram, pattern template for a quirky carrot and carrot tops shape, six different orange fabric’s and six different green fabric. You will need to supply polyester toy stuffing, reels of thread, and beads which are a matter of choice.

Each carrot is made up from two carrot shapes (orange) and five carrot tops shapes (green). Each carrot is made in exactly the same way, except for the special plain orange fabric one… I stitched tiny little green seed beads randomly all over (which too ages!)


It is important to choose good quality thread, with a close colour match. You will need naturally one orange and green reel for this project. I have, what I consider, some valuable tips and advice on thread choice which I will share with you in a future blog.


For best results for this project use a sewing machine, not and ideal project for hand sewing. You will also need some polyester soft toy stuffing, which is readily available from craft shop, and is inexpensive for a big bag full!


The little green “sprigs” are a bit fiddly, but I have found a great little tool that makes turning small projects inside-out very easily!

I am normally not a big fan of “gadgets” but theses little chaps I would not be without in my sewing basket… I love them! I do have a few spare pairs, if you are interested…



Thank you very much for visiting me again, if you have any questions about “my carrots” please feel free to send me a message, or better still, I hope to see your order on my etsy shop…. thesewingwren “…a little thread goes a long way…”

Best wishes,
Jay X

Little extra snippet by Soo…

Canada has the longest coast line in the whole world…


I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever been excited about a box of tissues in my life…  However these  really made me smile so had to buy a few boxes!  One for my kitchen, another for my work room, and another two, one each for my crafty friends… I know it doesn’t sound much of a pressie, but I would be delighted if I was given a box!



I bought them from ALDI of all places,  I spied them on the shelf with all the other typical packaged brands.  It was the button side I saw first… I  Zooommmmmed over to them, practically tripping over in my excitement, before I knew it,   four jumped into my trolley!  Off I went to the till to pay for my groceries with these little beauties balanced on the top of my food shopping, made this trip to the supermarket very cheery!


Jay X

Extra snippet for you from soo!

The average person walks approx 4 miles per year making their bed (well… teenagers are not your average person!… what about men?   different species?)


I hope you had a little chuckle about our NUTELLA FAMILY!

So,  NUTELLA the story continues…

Grace  came home from school on Thursday saying that is was her turn to make a cake!  On a Friday in this particular subject,  the teacher lets the youngsters bring in a cake to eat at the end of the lesson.  It has become a bit of a competition-tradition, they take it in turns to take in a cake.  There are some “rules”… that have to be observed!  It has to be home made, must be made by the participant, must be squidgy, full of calories, and either unusual or a total epic traditional recipe.  I get the feeling that they want to out do each other!

As we have rather a LARGE supply of NUTELLA in the pantry, I suggested we use some of  it for the “FRIDAY CAKE”

Well, as promised this is the cake Grace  made using NUTELLA… It was a HUGE success, all scoffed without the trace of a crumb!

After much mother/daughter discussion this is what we decided on, and it worked a treat!  Based on a Victoria Sandwich recipe.  As it was for the whole class we made it a bit bigger, and changed a few things.

6oz Self raising flour (sifted  high above the mixing bowl to add air)

1 level teaspoon of baking powder

6oz of soften butter, or margarine (at room temperature)

6oz caster sugar

3 large eggs (at room temperature



Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325 Fo, 170 oC.

Line a cake tin (approx 7″ to 8″) with baking parchment

In a large roomy mixing bowl (see my future blog about my mixing bowls!!!) sift the flour, add all the other ingredients, and for best results whisk with an electric hand whisk/blender.


Once the mixture goes all thick and creamy, and almost changes colour to light cream, you know it’s ready to put in the tin!

Spoon in approx half the mixture, spreading it to cover the bottom of the tin.  Put the jar of NUTELLA in the micro wave on de-frost, or hardly any heat at all, and let  it have approx 30 seconds to “warm” only.  Drizzle as much as you want (!) over the mixture (we used a good 3-4 table spoons full) Then carefully spoon the remaining cake mixture over to cover the NUTELLA.


Bake for approx 30 mins… we like our cake a little moist, (rare… can you have rare cake?) so only just let if cook.  Do the skewer test, but look for a little residue clinging onto  the skewer if you like a moist cake, if you like a dryer texture, leave it in the oven till the skewer is clean.

Leave to cool, then smother the top with lashings of NUTELLA!


Best wishes  love Jay and  Grace  XX

Extra snippet for you…. from Soo… Donald Duck comic’s were banned in Finland because he doesn’t wear pants!