Book Review: Embroidered Kitchen Garden by Kazuko Aoki

Embroidery artist and avid gardener Kazuko Aoki shares her newest collection of exquisite designs inspired by her very own kitchen garden. This bountiful assortment of embroidery motifs includes everyone’s favorite garden treats. From humble tomatoes and radishes to show-stopping figs and Brussels sprouts, this collection features over 30 edible plant designs. Stitch up a sampler to decorate your kitchen, create a one-of-a-kind farmers market tote, or just pore over the pages forendless inspiration. Each design features artfully illustrative details yet are made with just a handful of simple embroidery stitches. Embroidery enthusiasts will delight in this cornucopia of lush and sweet designs to stitch and savor. Instructions and templates for all designs are included, along with personal embroidery tips and expert advice from the author.


I got a copy of the ebook version of this from Netgalley, and quite honestly, even the ebook version is delicious.  The first half of the book has both images and text about certain food stuffs.

The second half has descriptions of how to stitch the images from the first half.  To be fair, this is the point where I would want the physical book in front of me. Not only to be able to switch easily between the instructions and the image, but the instructions do rely on you having a  certain level of stitching knowledge (this is not for the beginner!).

I will be on the lookout for the physical version of this book, to add to my collection!


Sewing events this year

So, I’ve made a decision. The Festival of Quilts is happening in early August as usual and I’ve decided to not go this year.   I really should be making a dent in the fabric I already have (I keep meaning to take some photos). Plus the fact that for several years I’ve found that several shows are not making best use of the space – the space between stands is very tight, whilst there is a load of dead space on the outside. I end up feeling very panicked, and I get frustrated at the “I’m going to randomly stop at this stall with no warning and no consideration for anyone behind me” attitude of a lot of people at these shows.  I did consider going to one of their social events but once again it’s at the Metropole beside the NEC, a hotel with shocking prices over their drinks – I’ve previously been charged £8 for a glass of average wine!

Charlotte over at EnglishGirlAtHome is having her 5th SewBrum late October and her sign up sheet has just gone up. I’ve decided to go to that instead. I did this last year, and I feel slightly more in control of my buying when I’m in a group.  I am forced to slow down to the pace of the group. We will be in the centre of Birmingham rather than at the NEC, and I found several sellers last year that I would have never even looked at, simply because other people stopped and looked.

It also allows for some semi-undercover stock photos to be taken – always a challenge to find suitable photos online, so always simpler to take your own!  Here are some of the fabrics that I picked up last year



And here are some of the images i took

Crafty works in progress

Despite the lack of reading, I have been doing other stuff, believe it or not.

Back in the early 1990s, Laura Ashley issued some of their fabrics in precut squares, and I picked up a whole load of these packets, but never got laura-ashley-quilt-topsaround to doing anything with them. 20 something years later and I’m overflowing with fabric, so I decided I had better do something about the situation.   I’ve therefore been doing some paper piecing, and have got to the point of making some headway into a quilt/patchwork top. I have *no* idea what I’m going to do with it, or what happens next after I’ve completed the top – I’ve never got as far as backing and binding, but that’ll happen sooner or later!

Large Cross Stitch SamplerThe large sampler has been sitting out and about for over a year now, and I should get around to finishing it off. A couple of more weeks should do it once I get my act together – of course the nights are now getting darker earlier, so it means that I’ll have to get the clip on light to put on the frame – I once brought a specialty clip on light, only to realise I already had a book light that I never used and that would do just the job!



Having done The Festival Of Quilts a few weeks ago, and despite saying I’d not add to the stash, of course I did. That did prompt a tidy up of the stash – here’s an indication of what the stash looks like (excluding the crates worth of fabric!). I dare not look at the fabrics or the amount of wool that’s hiding around the place – there’s only so much a girl can take in one go!

So there’s plenty to be getting on with – I now just have to do some of it!



Friday Salon: Craft Room wishlist versus reality



Any copyright belongs to infarrantycreative

Especially when I see how other people do it (normally the Americans, it has to be said), there are times that I would really like a separate room that I could label my “craft room”. Somewhere where I could have all my stash out, available to see and access quickly. Somewhere where my sewing machine and ironing board could be out at all times. A room with enough space and light for me to stitch or sew, draw or paint to my heart’s content. Somewhere to place my computer with access to the internet to allow me to get inspiration where I needed it, and post my thoughts to the world, perhaps designing my own corner of the world. A couple of shelves on which to store my crafting books and magazines.

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Friday Salon: Top 8 Must have “Crafting” supplies

Excluding Photography for some reason, here are the tools that I believe are essential in the crafting world!

1) SCISSORS! At least one pair, if not two. One pair for paper, one not. All the crafting stuff I do involves the cutting of “stuff” and you simply can’t do it with a Stanley knife.

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Sunday Salon: Reading on Sunny days and Rainy Days

The Sunday Salon badge
I have a certain level of guilt about being inside. I grew up in 1970s England to Irish parents. As soon as the weather was “decent” (i.e. “not dark, not raining”) it was certainly a case of “get outside and play”. There was certainly no problem with reading – in fact, I was able to read and write before I went to school and I can never remember not being able to read – but being outside was certainly encouraged, for the rarity in decent weather if nothing else.

Therefore as an adult, choosing to be inside when the sun is shining is certainly a great source of Catholic Guilt. If it’s sunny, you’re outside, it’s that simple. You may go outside to read, that’s ok. It might be sunny and bloody freezing when you stop for more than 2 seconds but that’s not the point

If it’s a rainy day, I generally stay inside and do stuff – most but not all of it reading. I might be doing the dreaded housework, or the ironing etc. Again the guilt factor will prevent me from spending ALL of the day reading (or sewing or watching TV…). I can hear the internal voice going “how can you sit there and read when you know the place needs a dust?!”. Most of the time I can ignore the voice, but sometimes I can’t!


So what about you, constant reader? Do you read more on a rainy day or abandon everything else on a gorgeous day so you can be outside?

Friday Salon: Abandon hope all who….

Do you have any projects that you have scrapped and started over? What made you start over from scratch?

I’ve restarted a couple over the years, but couldn’t name them off the top of the head. Generally it’s when I’ve found a mistake and there’s too much work in frogging it, meaning it’s quicker to start over.

The most memorable one I started again was the Lavender and Lace “The Wedding”, which I originally started on Linen for my older brother’s wedding. I decided part way through that I hate working on Linen, in this case because I had so much trouble working “over 2” that the result would never work.


I ditched that attempt for several years, until my younger brother announced his engagement. I then attempted the same image, this time on Aida. The finished result is above.

I have also attempted a number of other Lavender and Lace pictures – including the Celtic Christmas Angel, but because they were scrapped, I don’t have photos!

How many wips have you started and never finished?


Friday Salon: Hoop or no Hoop?

Cant remember what kicked off this post, but just a quick question – do you use a hoop when sewing? Frames? or do you sew with just the fabric?

Most of the time I use a hoop. This is to keep the fabric stretched so that I can get the same tension in my stitches, so there is no bunching etc. I have quite a few hoops, and which one I use depends on not only the size of the fabric, but whether I want to have both hands free to stitch – some of the hoops I have have extensions to them, which means I get to attach them to a table, or slop the extension under my arm.

I dont use hoops for hand quilting – yet. I’m not at that stage of my quilting to need tension in doing the acthoops embrioderyual quilting.  When I have done some hand sewing of fabric, I have liked the fact that I can get a rhythmn going with the little stitches which can be quite soothing in a way. I have yet to do basting of multiple layers but suspect that I will need to use a frame then, if only to keep the multiple pieces of fabric together.

I used to have a floor based frame, but rarely used it, and dont use it now – it was slipped under the bed a few years ago, and I dont even know if it has all the parts yet. They do take up an awful lot of space and I’m not sewing enough to have one permenantly rigged up in my living space.

So what about yourselves? When, if ever, do you use one?

Friday Salon: Complicated much?

What is the most complicated piece you’ve ever completed?


I’ve done quite a few pieces that I would consider complicated.


The one I did, and swore that I would never attempt again was Mary Hickmott’s “Horus”, that took me about 6 months to do. It was done in multiple colours over linen (which I decided I HATE!), as well as using Krenick metallic thread – which kept breaking and smelt awful! I swore I would never attempt it again, but needless to say, I saw another kit of this at a show I was at a few years later, and for some reason brought it. One day, perhaps!

HorusThis one is a Lavender and Lace item – code LL019 – which i started for one brother’s wedding, but didnt complete – again it was on linen, this time with multiple shades of white (PLUS beading!).  My other brother got married a few years later and I did complete it this time – on 16 ct Aida!




Friday Salon: How do you rate your sewing techinque?

Like so many sewists, I have a perennial inferiority complex about my sewing. Part of this is based in well-founded fact. When I first returned to sewing a dozen years ago, I was very rusty in my skills and it took a while working with my hands to awaken the memory of lost techniques. But there wasn’t a whole lot to awaken. I had developed only the basics of sewing knowledge in my early years, and most of my work was driven by the passion to make.

Above is a quote from the Sew Daily article How Do You Rate Your Sewing Technique?

If I am honest, my sewing technique is very rusty mainly because I simply don’t make use of the skills I have or learn new ones. I was taught several stitches whilst at school, along with knitting etc (my mother will admit that her sewing skills are not top of the list of things she taught my sister and me, though she will insist that it was she, and not “the nuns” that taught me knitting).sewing with needle

The only sewing stitch that I’ve brought with me into adult life is the cross stitch. Two tiny little stitches made into a cross to make up a pattern.

The other stitch I seem to be reasonable with is backstitch. This is used to a reasonable extent within cross stitch in order to outline various figures. I have recently been doing some hand stitching to play around with some quilt strips and have realised that I can get quite a nice rhythm up and the stitches can be quite small. In effect, it’s only making use of the backstitch, but without the use of the aida forcing the size of the stitch. I can’t stitch in a straight line and always need a guiding line on the wrong side to help keep me in line!

So I’m good at the few stitches that I know and enjoy, but am poor at all the others. I will never win awards with my sewing.

What about you and your stitching?