In many of my designs you'll find little pops of applique.
Applique was one of the first things I taught myself to stitch in that tiny 1-bedroom cabin up in the freezing cold Highlands that our family shared for many months back in 2005.
My husband had accepted a 6-month teaching post in Armidale, NSW, as there were no other positions available elsewhere in his subject at that time and the only accommodation we could find for such a short term was the local caravan park.
We had sold most of our belongings in a garage sale before moving there but were able to store a few boxes of necessities, plus our fridge, washer and beds in a friend's shed. After the Armidale posting we were hopeful of Mr E acquiring a permanent teaching job elsewhere and could send for our belongings then.
(the following year he was blessed with a full time teaching post in Alice Springs)
I had been homeschooling the children for many years and continued to do so but now relied on the town's library and occasional loans from local homeschool families to help with curriculum as we had limited space for storing books in the cabin, and no internet access.
Mr E would read to us from the Bible each morning after breakfast, pray with us, and then with lunch box under his arm and lesson plans in his bag he'd drive off to school and leave us to begin our studies.
Morning tea was very simple as I only had two hotplates to cook on, but pikelets and cinnamon toast served with pots of tea or hot chocolate were favourites. Once a week, though, I'd take the children into town and after a trip to the library but before I shopped for groceries, we'd treat ourselves to fancy cakes, milkshakes and cappuccinos at a local cafe.
Some afternoons we'd explore the countryside if the weather was warm enough, but if it was too cold or windy my son would paint his tiny Lord of the Rings models and young Blossom and I would practice embroidery, applique and patchwork with the few supplies purchased on weekend trips to the Spotlight store 100 klm away in Tamworth.
Huddled side by side, my little girl and I honed our craft, never imagining we'd both be published designers with projects featured inside the craft magazines we were at that time using as our sewing and stitching 'textbooks' ... but that's exactly what happened.
Blossom had three designs published in her teens and I was more proud of her than I have ever been about my own.
Unlike me who eats, sleeps and breathes embroidery, Blossom now finds her delight in making children's clothes and my word, she makes them beautifully.
When she was a little girl we dreamed of opening a vintage book shop, the walls lined with shelves brimming of old embossed copies of the classics, squishy bean bags and overstuffed ancient couches placed around thick rugs for customers to settle into as they read, large pots of tea, cocoa or coffee and a variety of homemade cakes and slices off to the side in a small cafe setting for those who'd like to purchase a sweet refreshment while they visited.
After we learned to sew we decided it would be nice to have a corner set up for those who'd like to bring their hand stitching, crochet or knitting along, and we'd play gentle music to soothe the many weary souls we imagined coming there to rest from the hustle and bustle of the life outside.
For the longest time we lost hope in that dream as our lives went in their different directions - me with designing, she with travel overseas and then a young family - but lately we've talked about it again and decided it's still a lovely dream, in fact it's still our dream, our hope, and we're going to pray over it for no-one knows the future but God and if this dream was placed in our hearts from Him then we desire to pursue it...but all in His perfect timing.
I wonder if you've had a dream that once filled your heart with hope but has since been forgotten and lain aside?
Perhaps, just perhaps, the timing wasn't right?
Ask God about it. He hears your prayers, He hears mine.
In our family we pray that if it our requests are not in God's best interest for our lives that He removes the desire, and He is faithful to do just that. But unless we ask, unless we put our desires before Him, we will never know if that dream is one we should pursue.
"And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that,
if we ask any thing according to His will,
He heareth us."
1 John 5:14
May the Lord bless you and keep you, fill you with hope and grace, and answer your prayers in His most perfect and holy timing with the kindness and direction that only He can give.
The photos above are my new designs for the February issue of The Stitchery Club.