Tag Archives: Beloved Bernina

Gosh! It’s Been A While.

Setting The Scene,Rocking Dog

Setting The Scene

Gosh! It REALLY has been a while since Rocking Dog blogged. We have been fortunate in having the opportunity to spend an extended break in Umbria. The beauty of having super quick wifi is that work things can be dealt with across the miles.

We started our trip with visiting more cemeteries for The Remember Me Project. By the end of our break a total of 38 poppies had been laid in near enough the same amount of cemeteries across France and Belgium. This figure includes the cemeteries visited in October last year. A dedicated post regarding my latest poppy laying trip will pop up on the Rocking Dog site in the next few days.

Eventually we left the Somme and headed close to the Swiss border for an overnight stop. The spectacular trip through Switzerland followed and finally after a bit of white knuckle driving through northern Italy we reached Umbria. The sun doesn’t always shine in Italy. We had rain, we had wind, there was the cold and the odd luxurious sunny day. Most nights we were grateful for the newly installed wood burning stove. With temperatures hitting in excess of 40 degrees in the summer affecting grape and olive harvests the Umbrian folk have now had to endure an uncharacteristically cold winter. Thick snow and temperatures dropping well into the minus’s, they have needed their famous down filled puffa jackets!

In November we had grass seed sown but unfortunately it has shown no desire to germinate and grow. The sowing will be repeated next week and hopefully with the warmth of an Italian spring we will soon have verdant green pasture. Fingers crossed! It is too early to tell whether there will be a good harvest of olives late October, but we are ever hopeful. We love the whole process of producing olive oil from our trees. There were weather weary shrubs to replace and new herbs to dig in, there were 15 barrow loads of pruning to put on the bonfire and jolly geraniums to pot up. Constructive time spent outside.

I was sad to have lost a very lovely friend somewhat unexpectedly and did lots of contemplative walking and lots of contemplative sewing. It’s taken so much of my life to realise that sewing really does soothe my sad soul. Beloved Bernina really is truly therapeutic. Can I ask what soothes your soul?

Flying back to Bristol for my friends Celebration of Life service, Andy was left to host ancestors of the farmhouse we now own a tiny part of. From New York, they were apparently lovely and really enthusiastic about the area and their kinfolks former home. We hope they’ll return and stop for longer next time. I’m sure they are going to be pretty busy as they have sold their home and are converting an old yellow school bus for a unique mobile home.

As ever there was gorgeous food to eat, starry skies to be amazed by and the odd Aperol Spritz to partake in by the lake. It is often the most simple things that give the most pleasure. I love the ancient olive tree just outside one of our bedroom windows. As dawn arrives, the tree fills with chirpy and busy little birds. They enjoy the olives which escaped the rakes of the late autumn harvesting. Such a perfect view and I absolutely know that we are truly lucky.

Back in UK there are sewing projects to finish, ongoing research for The Remember Me Project and a job to apply for. The garden of the damp woodland variety needs to be tackled and the dusty, crumbly house needs to be dealt with. Friends need to be loved and cared for, and the nest got ready for another little grandchild. Volunteering for Young Carer’s will restart and yes, there are really lovely things to come home for … just not the dusting!

Hope you have a good week. Love Rocking Dog x

PS Many thanks to Cliff at the British Legion, Frampton Cotterell for the box of poppy crosses. The box is sadly empty- each cross represented one young local soldier who fell or who died of wounds during the Great War.

Roman Rugby,Rocking Dog

Roman Rugby

Letting In The Sun,Rocking Dog

Letting In The Sun

Contemplative Walking,Rocking Dog

Contemplative Walking

Choppy Lake,Rocking Dog

Choppy Lake

Calm Lake,Rocking Dog

Calm Lake

Social Lake,Rocking Dog

Social Lake

Cake,Rocking Dog

Cake

Pasta....,Rocking Dog

Pasta….

& Projects,Rocking Dog

& Projects

 

December Comes In With A Flurry

Celebrating The 2017 Oil, Rocking Dog

Celebrating The 2017 Oil

With the advent of frosty mornings it’s hard to think that we were harvesting the olives in sub-tropical (well almost) temperatures a month ago. November saw us making the trip home with our precious olive oil cargo. Snow had fallen on some of the Swiss mountain peaks and there was a misty late autumnal stillness hanging heavily over the slate grey lakes. Travelling through Switzerland always makes me feel as if I am part of some spectacular railway set. Truly beautiful.

November has been busy. There have been some good things and some pretty rotten things. I’m always thinking of friends and family who have had very difficult situations to withstand. Some corners have been turned, whilst for others, corners still need turning. I hope the roads straighten out very soon for all those travelling somewhat perilous journeys. X

The good bits in November were a lovely trip to London to see Future Islands at the Brixton Academy. LOVED! I also managed to squeeze in lots of Biddy (as in old) cuddles with little Douglas, because put simply grandchildren are for cuddling! Sorrel, Doug’ and I also managed to squeeze a visit to the V&A. I wanted to see the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition. The prize was brought about to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in collaboration with the V&A and The Craft Council. I was particularly keen to see the winning exhibit by Phoebe Cummings who had made a botanical fountain from raw clay. As the exhibit has not been glazed or fired the water will gradually dissolve the clay, the fountain will therefore be ever-changing. Anyone expecting the water spout at Chatsworth or the fountains at Versailles may be slightly disappointed. On this visit I was fortunate enough to witness the once daily 2 minute water feature. Hmmmmm! it’s a watery dribble, however the clay work is truly exquisite.

There were 1,500 applicants for the £10,000 prize, and the exhibition showcases the twelve finalists. I particularly loved Celia Pym’s darning exhibit. Over the last ten years she has darned other peoples clothing and feels a real compulsion to try a jumper on that has been placed on the back of a chair! On January 6th you can go to the V&A for a free workshop with Celia to discuss how to tackle a hole in a favourite garment.

Romilly Saumarez Smiths work also caught my attention. I loved the cabinet of her treasures. The artist is fascinated by stories contained within found objects. Suffering from a neurological disease, she is unable to use her own hands and works alongside a trio of jewellers to translate her ideas. Smith uses precious metals and other materials to sensitively work in with items such as Roman pins, medieval thimbles and coral. Her exhibit was like being in a rather good sweet shop and being unable to choose one piece, you wanted the lot!

November saw Rocking Dog sew a batch of 2017 “Cabin in the Wood” advent calendars and stockings utilising vintage hand embroidered festive table linen. Beloved Bernina has been busy with other sewing projects and has been joined on the workbench by a snazzy overlocker. I will sit down and embrace its neat and clever functions.

There was a sale at Court House Farm, Portishead. What a beautiful event but just why oh why do I get so anxious selling?  On the buying front I desperately tried to resist buying more vintage baubles but alas my decoration addiction got the better of me!

There has been a Rocking Dog huddle, lots of chat, a little crochet and the first batch of Rocking Dog mince pies. Thank you to all those who came and dropped money into the jolly tea pot for Fine Cell Work.

The last day of November saw us sharing a special deal lunch at The Pig at Bath with friends. The food was lovely and I was particularly intrigued by some pickled Chinese artichokes. They looked alarmingly like caterpillar chrysalis’s, but were delicious. A walk around the walled kitchen garden with the sun fading was quiet and inspirational.

So December has indeed come in with a flurry, and SO the festive madness begins!

Hoping you all have a wonderful weekend. Wrap up warmly and stay cosy! Love Rocking Dog x

PS Alright Michael it is time!

Umbrian November,Rocking Dog

Umbrian November

Umbrian Moon..,Rocking Dog

Umbrian Moon..

Hambrook Moon,Rocking Dog

Hambrook Moon

Making Calendars,Rocking Dog

Making Calendars

& Stockings,Rocking Dog

& Stockings

Court House Farm,Rocking Dog

Court House Farm

Delightful Darn,Rocking Dog

Delightful Darn

Dissolving Clay,Rocking Dog

Dissolving Clay

Little Boxes,Rocking Dog

Little Boxes

The V&A Cafe,Rocking Dog

The V&A Cafe

Biddy's Boy!,Rocking Dog

Biddy’s Boy!

Go Girl!,Rocking Dog

Go Girl!

Pigging Out,Rocking Dog

Pigging Out

Legendary Mince Pie, Rocking Dog

Legendary Mince Pie

Let The Madness Begin!,Rocking Dog

Let The Madness Begin!

Strawberry Season- A Rocking Dog Salad

Strawberries For Supper,Rocking Dog

Strawberries For Supper

Rocking Dog was inspired to make a quick summer salad using some punnets of local strawberries. I love to use fruit for savoury salads, a favourite is sliced fresh peaches with buffalo mozzarella, basil and toasted pine nuts. Butternut squash, broad beans, feta and raspberries together with roasted pumpkin seeds and a zesty dressing is another delicious summery bowl. In late summer figs and goats cheese make a wonderful base for a salad.

Last nights salad utilised the following ingredients:- Edamame beans (I used frozen), strawberries, baby spinach, whole toasted blanched almonds, finely grated lemon zest, juice of one lemon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh mint, creamy feta crumbled, seasoning.

Drop edamame beans into boiling water and cook until tender. Drain and refresh the beans in cold water to help retain their colour. Toast the almonds by dry frying them in a small pan ( I use this method as I am less likely to forget them rather than toasting nuts under a grill!) Make dressing with zest, lemon juice, and a good glug of olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Grind in some black pepper and salt. Assemble salad by tossing together all the salad components and the dressing. Serve with some good bread.

I loved the baubles I bought recently in the clearance section of Ikea. I knew when I saw them that they’d make good strawberries! I made strawberry leaves from tiny pieces of fabric found on Material Mountain. I used an air erasable pen to draw my leaves. After cutting the pieces out I used Beloved Bernina to sew lines of stitching to emulate leaf veins. I finally cut a small hole in the centre of the fabric to thread through the bauble wire. Voila! summer baubles to decorate gifts or hang for summer parties.

Whatever the weekend holds for you I hope it’s happy and summery

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Rocking Dog Huddle Wednesday 26th July 7-9pm. I would love to see you here at the kennel for chat, cake and creativity. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work encouraging and supporting prison inmates to sew & embroider.

Strawberry Deliciousness!,Rocking Dog

Strawberry Deliciousness!

Chelsea Strawberries,Rocking Dog

Chelsea Strawberries

Rocking Dog Tart,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Tart

Summer Baubles,Rocking Dog

Summer Baubles

Stylish Wrapping,Rocking Dog

Stylish Wrapping

Summery Rocking Dog Gift Tags,Rocking Dog

Summery Rocking Dog Gift Tags

Tonight! The First Rocking Dog Huddle

Are You Ready To Sew?,Rocking Dog

Are You Ready To Sew?

Last call for the first Rocking Dog Huddle! 7-9pm tonight (sorry about that very cheesy link, for a staunch Rubettes fan I truly was!) at the Rocking Dog Kennel. Come to sew, knit, chat and eat cake. Feel free to have a moan too!

This is no “Great British Sewing Bee” so you won’t be expected to make a pair of Theresa May style leather trousers or a boned bustier! Come with trousers that need hemming, knitting that has been lingering on its needles or another long forgotten project. Shamefully I have an unfinished Kaffe Fassett needlepoint that has been on its frame for the best part of 20 years! Don’t despair if you do come empty handed Rocking Dog has organised some mini projects. Beloved Berlina will be on hand, please treat her kindly!

Of course it’s not all about the sewing. Lovely warming drinks and delicious Rocking Dog cake (this month, Peanut-Butter Squares, thanks Nigella!) will be offered.

A teapot for donations to cover cost of refreshments etc..will be in situ. A proportion of donations will be given to Fine Cell Work, a charity that teaches embroidery and needlework to prison inmates. Their amazing work is sold on the website.

It would be great to see anyone who wants to join the huddle this evening. It will be very informal, friendly and fun. Please contact me by e.mail lizferg@btinternet.com if you need any further information.

Love Rocking Dog x

P.S. Wouldn’t it just be SO lovely if “Great British Sewing Bee’s” Patrick was to turn up!

Pretty Patching,Rocking Dog

Pretty Patching

Inspiration,Rocking Dog

Inspiration

Fragrant Stuffing,Rocking Dog

Fragrant Stuffing

Needle Pulling Thread,Rocking Dog

Needle Pulling Thread

Cuppa.....,Rocking Dog

Cuppa…..

& Cake!,Rocking Dog

& Cake!

Cheery Projects To Cast Off Winter Gloom

Winter Mood Board,Rocking Dog

Winter Mood Board

Rocking Dog has been doing cheery projects to cast off winter gloom. No frosts, no snow, no cold but lots of grey, damp and mud!

In between all the usual domestic dross I have been striving to complete some more constructive and pleasurable tasks. Yesterday morning I made Christmas cakes, “Oh no you didn’t, Oh yes I did!” An 80’s Christmas themed charity Burn’s Night is on the cards next month. I am going to hone my spiky snow scene icing and have plastic robin , snowman and cake frill at the ready! Incidentally there’ll be turkey and all the trimmings together with Christmas pud’s and retro’ cocktails. I’m nursing our Christmas tree carefully in the hope I can put it back up. Sad but true!

Christmas cakes baked, I moved to Beloved Berlina to creatively sew. Sewing makes me happy, especially with two or three omnibus editions of “The Archers” in the bag!

Despite the mud and greyness Real Live Rocking Dog is always up for a walk. No matter the weather it always feels great to be out. The change of seasons brings a myriad of different foliage, wildlife, noise and smells. Mossy twigs and ferns placed in a large majolica jug beautifully brings the outside in.

Very cheerily Seville oranges have started to trickle into the shops. I feel a therapeutic marmalade making session coming on!

Winter Walk,Rocking Dog

Winter Walk

Winter Vase,Rocking Dog

Winter Vase

Winter Fuel,Rocking Dog

Winter Fuel

Sugar & Spice,Rocking Dog

Sugar & Spice

Eggs To Crack,Rocking Dog

Eggs To Crack

Happy Bake,Rocking Dog

Happy Bake

Comfort Food,Rocking Dog

Comfort Food

Time To Sew,Rocking Dog

Time To Sew

The Sevilles' Are In Town!,Rocking Dog

The Sevilles’ Are In Town!

The Rocking Dog Huddle, Wed 25th January

Sew On A Button, Rocking Dog

Sew On A Button

I have felt slightly overwhelmed by January greyness and sadness, so the time has come to plot some positive things onto the new calendar. I have had a good response for starting an informal sew/knit/etc.. group and therefore will be hosting the first get together on Wednesday 25th January 7-9pm at the kennel. I still haven’t come up with a name for the gathering, so for the time being it’s the Rocking Dog Huddle. I intend to host the huddle on a monthly basis, the last Wednesday of the month.

Anyone contemplating coming please do not feel shy or intimidated, you will be made to feel very welcome. You may have a garment that needs a button sewing on, or hems that need altered. It may be a piece of needlepoint or quilting that needs finishing or indeed knitting that needs to finally leave the needles! Don’t worry if you arrive empty handed I have a shelf full of books and templates, small fabric remnants and cottons etc.. to inspire and utilise. We will have fun.

My hope is that in time we can learn new skills from each other. If there is somebody who can rid me of my zip insertion phobia that would be simply perfect!

Of course the chat, the homemade cake and warming drinks will be just as important, and I hope we’ll laugh a lot! A donations teapot will be in situ to cover cost of refreshments, materials and to help support Fine Cell Work, an amazing social enterprise that teaches needlework to prison inmates and sells their products.

If anyone would like any further information or needs directions (I am based in Hambrook, Bristol) please get in touch with me lizferg@btinternet.com.

I really hope you can come! Love Rocking Dog x

Coffee....,Rocking Dog

Coffee….

& Cake,Rocking Dog

& Cake

Share Beloved Bernina,Rocking Dog

Share Beloved Bernina

My Stash,Rocking Dog

My Stash

Haberdashery Stash,Rocking Dog

Haberdashery Stash

Choose A Project,Rocking Dog

Choose A Project

Ribbons....,Rocking Dog

Ribbons….

& Lace,Rocking Dog

& Lace

Make New Friends,Rocking Dog

Make New Friends

Gift Wrapping The Rocking Dog Way!

All Sewn Up, Rocking Dog

All Sewn Up

Another batch of gifts needed to be wrapped at the Rocking Dog Kennel. Alas no sticky tape was to be found… but no worries I dealt with the parcels in a jiffy!

Beloved Bernina, twine and glue gun sufficed in the midst of my no tape crisis. A bundle of delicious ribbons were wrapped for a very creative friend. I used a paper table mat snaffled from an alfresco eatery in Perugia. Testone serves the most delicious Torta outside the famous court room ( the Italian’s were not happy with the Amanda Knox verdict).  The eating place very obviously is a favourite hangout for students.  Torta are Umbrian flatbreads and they encase a variety of fillings, take your pick from Porchetta, Mozzarella, Prosciutto and a whole host of other Italian produce. Two generous slices of torta and two small beers whist sitting in glorious sunshine cost under £10. Apart from the food and the sun  I loved the tobacco coloured table mats, and now they are wrapping! Coarse twine, some woollen bobbles and an up-cycled label completed the package.

Beloved Bernina was bought into use to sew a parcel. I used some beautiful retro pages from a charity shop book and used zig zag stitch to create a bag. The gift item was neatly stashed and the final edge was sewn to create a giant ravioli . A label was then made and threaded with some jolly ribbon. I hope Beloved Bernina hasn’t felt too unhappy about sewing paper and card.

Lastly some rather bulky packages of spring bulbs were given the sack treatment. I chose some fabric from Material Mountain and whizzed up a bag with plant pot panel. Tied and labelled with an appropriate quote it was ready to give.

Who needs sticky tape?!

Retro Wrapping, Rocking Dog

Retro Wrapping

Lovely Label, Rocking Dog

Lovely Label

Heroic Beloved Bernina,Rocking Dog

Heroic Beloved Bernina

Bulbs To Stash, Rocking Dog

Bulbs To Stash

Gift Bag Info', Rocking Dog

Gift Bag Info’

Ready To Give, Rocking Dog

Ready To Give

For A Creative, Rocking Dog

For A Creative

Creatively Wrapped, Rocking Dog

Creatively Wrapped

Cupboard For Wrappers!, Rocking Dog

Cupboard For Wrappers!

Sewing Into The Wee Hours

Sewing With My Little Helpers, Rocking Dog

Sewing With My Little Helpers

Sewing into the wee hours, Rocking Dog is making full length bay window curtains for Sorrel (and Pete). Ticking, lined with blackout material they will keep out street light, winter chills (!) and prying eyes. The four finished drapes will be hung from a copper pipe pole and will look great set against the Inchyra Blue walls. A minimalist house my girls’ house is not, there are lots of boho treasures to delight guests.

So it’s just me, Beloved Bernina and my little deep south helpers sewing into the night. These lovely gingham frocked girls probably date from the 30’s and are modelled over sand filled American lemonade bottles. They are obviously not very PC, but I love their loving handmade-ness and honesty. With buttons for eyes and brass curtain rings for hoop earrings they are so “Gone With The Wind”.

Whilst I sew I am enjoying music from the movies, including themes from “Gladiator”,
“Dances With Wolves” and “Out Of Africa”. Maybe i’ll even put on “Gone With The Wind” for the girls.

Sleep Well. Love a sew happy Rocking Dog x

Monochrome Ticking, Rocking Dog

Monochrome Ticking

Planet Wedding In Full Swing!

Blue Sky Ordered. If It Were Only That Simple!, Rocking Dog

Blue Sky Ordered. If It Were Only That Simple!

With THE wedding little more than a week away I have been trying hard to stay calm and to carry on! Yesterday was a day of organisation, and my brain thankfully now feels less cluttered. Beloved Bernina was still busy, making some party bags out of tea towels and a pretty tablecloth found in a bargain bin in Ikea. Now to fill the bags with edible and non edible treats.

The coat is finished and for my first attempt at dressmaking since the 1980’s, i’m quite pleased with myself. Thankfully I managed to stop myself from using 1980’s style shoulder pads. I’m sure suave Patrick from The Great British Sewing Bee may have a few things to say about my garment … but heh ho!

Beloved Bernina has a childrens’ tent to customise today and then she will be put away until the matrimonial frivolities are over. Spoons and whisks will be the tool of choice when the new week begins. 120 free range eggs have arrived from a farm in Long Ashton and they will be joined by copious quantities of butter, cream and chocolate. So much devilish naughtiness.

Olive oil from olives we picked in November has been bottled, and pickles labelled. Dry cleaning has been collected and lanterns await removals.

Lists cover my desk, shopping lists, schedules, staffing, to do, to buy etc… etc.. I so love being able to tick something off. Must be the school teacher in me that likes red pens and ticks!

The weekend beckons, and I hope you have a lovely relaxing time. Myself, I think I may be rather busy. I need to get in touch with Lionel to make sure he’s still ok to do a Gary Barlow style pop up. Here’s hoping. If it clinches it for you Lionel, we do have a mirror ball and smoke machine!

Love to all, and special thoughts for special friends for very special reasons. You are all TRULY AMAZING. x

Removals Required, Rocking Dog

Removals Required

Coat Complete, Rocking Dog

Coat Complete

Pretty Confetti, Rocking Dog

Pretty Confetti

Ready For Action, Rocking Dog

Ready For Action

120 Free Range!, Rocking Dog

120 Free Range!

Hardware Assembled, Rocking Dog

Hardware Assembled

Olive Oil Bottled, Rocking Dog

Olive Oil Bottled

Cherries On The Menu, Rocking Dog

Cherries On The Menu

Tea Towel Party Bags, Rocking Dog

Tea Towel Party Bags

Rocking Dog’s Lots Of This & That!

Morning Pick Me Up Bags, Rocking Dog

Morning Pick Me Up Bags

Life has been busy with lots of this and that for Rocking Dog. With less than three weeks to go now before The Boy’s Big Day the sewing machine has been whirring away frantically. Soon Beloved Bernina will lie silent when needle and thread is swapped for the heat of the kitchen. Please tell me why I agreed to cook for 120 guests at my own sons wedding! Not one of my better job offers, and i’m not even on the minimum wage! I have been busy telling friends with adult children to encourage their offspring to simply elope!

One of yesterdays projects was to sew some covers for plump feather cushions. Thankfully not 120, just a generous pile for little ones. I made the covers out of Ikea tea towels and added a Petersham ribbon bow. Less than £1.40 to make they’ll hopefully be used as cushions for outside chairs when the wedding is all but a memory. Other wedding projects have included picking out pretty logs from the wood pile… don’t ask!

It was also time to make the first and largest tier of the wedding cake. The house is thus smelling very Christmassy…no Michael you really can’t come out yet! Nigella’s Easy Action Christmas Cake was chosen, lots of fruit, chestnut puree, spices and huge lugs of dark rum. It was stirred well and lots of wishes made before being poured into a lined tin and encased in brown paper. As my Mum taught me, it was also sat in the oven on a wad of newspaper. How I love the smell of cake and baked news print. Also in the kitchen I finally pickled that 2kg bag of shallots whilst watching a documentary on escapes from Alcatraz. Bathed in balsamic vinegar and a myriad of whole spices the onions will accompany cheese. They won’t be for the faint hearted or any guest looking for lurve!

My life is a series of lists and at times it has been good to escape into the garden. It is an absolute picture of flowering weeds. I keep telling the garden I will give it some attention in less than a month, until then i’ll enjoy its natural wildness. Real Live Rocking Dog loves the garden, but boy is he tired after a trip to London at the weekend. Tubes, trains, dodging crowds he’s pleased to get back to the boring old Rocking Dog kennel and the flowering weeds.

In between all of this and that there have been gifts to make and deliver, and lovely friends to love and support. They really are in my thoughts so very much of the time.

Granola To Bake, Rocking Dog

Granola To Bake

It's In The Bag!, Rocking Dog

It’s In The Bag!

Friendship, Rocking Dog

Friendship

Cake To Bake, Rocking Dog

Cake To Bake

Wishes Stirred In !, Rocking Dog

Wishes Stirred In !

Tea Towel Cushions, Rocking Dog

Tea Towel Cushions

Wonderful Weeds!, Rocking Dog

Wonderful Weeds!

Pretty Logs, Rocking Dog

Pretty Logs

Dog Tired!, Rocking Dog

Dog Tired!