Sunday, 28 November 2010

Knitting & Stitching

Well, despite all the threats of the weathermen I did make it to Harrogate for the Knitting & Stitching show on Friday.  We were lucky because our snow didn't arrive until yesterday and we saw very little of it all the way to Harrogate.  My dear DH stayed home to look after mum for me, what a trooper!  

I decided before I went that I would take the day very steadily and not do my usual trick of running round like a demented chicken trying to see everything and as a result I had a lovely relaxed day.  I did think though that there were less stands than other years.  Not all exhibitors allowed photographs but I did manage a few.

This cheerful Santa greeted everyone as we came in and, in the manner of these displays, everything was knitted, including the grandfather clock.  

The first main exhibit was Clyde Olliver's 'Transitions', which included a variety of materials and forms.  I had seen the piece below when it was on display at the Hub near me but it was good to have another look.  I am always intrigued by the combination of stitch and slate together with rusty pieces. 

 There were a couple of pieces like the one below made from shaped slate in what looked like its natural state with stitch incorporated into it.  I love slate and I think this piece would be quite relaxing to live with. 

I didn't manage to find Maggie Grey's stand although I believe she was there but I did find this piece below of hers on the stand of Wessex Textile Artists.
The piece is entitled 'The Long Diary' and includes digital images of the many places Maggie has travelled to in the course of her work.

As well as the main halls displays are set up in the refreshment area in the basement (as I call it) and many of the colleges offering textile course had stands there and were offering inspiration packs (more of that shortly).

Needless to say this area is a hive of activity at lunchtime.

Suitably refreshed I made it back up to the main halls for a little retail therapy, trying very hard to stick to my short list and budget.   

I have been thinking about getting Jane Dunnewold's book for sometime and having had a look through it at K&S decided it was for me.  It is packed with information and hopefully I will get plenty of time to read it while sitting with mum.

I couldn't resist these fabric sample packs from Textile Techniques who specialise in hand-made textiles from around the world.  I love shibori fabrics but doing it myself is so painful for my hands that I couldn't resist the ones above.  There should actually be 6 pieces but one is hiding!  Similarly the green themed fabrics were irresistible for their colour!  what can I say?  I'm a weak woman ;-)

These inspiration packs were put together by students on textile courses and were very cheap!

I did buy one or two other basic supplies but my biggest sin was a lightweight computerised Janome for taking to classes and sewing days.  I got £50 off plus a free darning foot and it will free up my poor little basic Janome for playing with paper, metal and rusted fabric which I have always been too scared to sew on the machine in case it damaged it.  No excuse now for not playing, except that while Mum's here I haven't got anywhere to set it up.  My new machine is the Janome BCC30 which is being sold to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness so I have done a little bit for charity too.

I was really looking forward to seeing the Julia Caprara retrospective and I was not disappointed.  I never met Julia when she was alive but I so admire her beautiful colourful work and her powerful, energetic sketchbooks.  

Excuse the reflections from the glass case in the photograph above.

This wonderful detail is from a larger piece and when I saw some of Julia's work several years ago at Festival of Quilts it encouraged me to start this journey that I have been on with stitch and fabric.  I particularly like the way she put colours together and used different textures of thread and stitch to build her work.

What else caught my eye?  BOLT:Echoes was a fascinating stand and Jean Littlejohn's sea paintings which incorporated stitch and beads  were  mesmerising.  I'm sure she had used Zwarowski crystals as they sparkled beautifully (and didn't look as tacky as you may be thinking they sound).  I did take photographs but was asked not to put them on the blog.  If you follow the link to Bolt you can also explore work by Jessica Abraham and Linda Westerman who also had their exhibition 'Exposed and Eroded' at Harrogate. Speaking of echoes, Gizella K Warburton's work, which was close by Clyde Olliver's stand, echoed the colours of his slate works (just by coincidence). Gizella's works were in very muted colours and had wonderful frayed edges.  Again, no photos, sorry.

Yesterday morning we awoke to a little of the white stuff

nothing by Northumberland's standards but enough to make me glad my trip to Harrogate was on Friday.  My studio has ice on the inside of the windows and I had a happy few minutes taking photographs that I hope will be very useful for textures in Photoshop.

My DH is being a star in helping with Mum and looked after her while I went to the Show.  He even offered to help her with her shower, a quick hose down in the yard!!! :-)  He needs something to distract him - his computer has been infected and needs a complete clean out.  Whatever will he do while it's away?!  Heaven help us! ;-)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Kim Klassen's Skinny Mini Course

While Mum has been sleeping and I have been feeling lousy with the cold of the year (!) I have been working through Kim's excellent Photoshop course.  If you have missed out on this round you have another chance to do the course as Kim is running it again at the beginning of December so just click on Kim's button at the top of my right hand sidebar.  It is a video based course and Kim keeps the videos short so they don't take forever to do and I have to say it's becoming more and more addictive.

To be fair to Kim I can't detail the steps I took but here are the results of my labours

 Above is the original photograph and below the altered copy (click on the altered one to see the details).  The aim was to change the image to black and white and then add adjustment layers to get the desired effect.

This photograph of the Magnolia Yellowbird was taken at Alnwick Gradens in Northumberland and the aim of this lesson was to reduce the strength of colour and add a texture to make a bit of a dreamy atmosphere.  I decided to add some text too and changed the colour of the text.

This was the original photograph of St Ives rooftops on which I altered the saturation and added adjustment layers. I then added a photograph of nets to which I applied more adjustment layers.  I think I would have liked the net lines to be dark where they're light and vice versa so I need to have another play with this.

I have paid a very nominal $5 to have continuing access to the instructional videos and still have 3 more to work with including how to make brushes which I glimpsed today and which I have done a little of previously.  There is still a mountain of stuff to learn but in terms of finding my way around Photoshop this course has been wonderful.  I'm going to play some more!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

MIA, a little digital and a new website

This could turn into a bit of a long post so you may want to make a cuppa before you start!  You may have noticed that I have been conspicuous by my absence over the last few weeks.  Despite the fact that my foot is still causing me problems, that wasn't the reason for being away.  At the end of October my Mum went on a longed-for cruise to America for three weeks and 2 days before the end of the cruise she woke up with a numb arm.  To cut a long story short she had had a stroke so DH and I headed down to Essex to be there for when she got home.  After a 5 day stay in hospital and some recovery time at home Mum is now staying with us until we can see what sort of recovery she is going to make.  Fortunately it is just Mum's right hand and arm that are affected and she does have movement in it but no feeling so fine movement is tricky.  She says she will bounce back and as she is a fighter I'm sure she will.

We have had some laughs in all this because Mum's speech was slightly affected in as much as she kept mixing up her words.  DH is now referred to as her 'un-in-slaw'!  She was talking to my brother today about 'ruvuccas' (verrucas) so the sounds are all there, just a bit mixed up. :)

Just before our dash to Essex I had signed up to Kim Klassen's Skinny Mini Photoshop workshop and couldn't start it until we got back home.  Kim is offering this class again in December and from what I have seen so far it is an excellent class to learn the fundamentals of Photoshop Elements, especially with the use of layers.  I have already learned a lot and had fun making the changes to these images. 

 This daisy image is one of Kim's and I think all I did was add the text and change the colour of it.

 Using the daisy image again this had a solid colour layer added and an adjustment layer.

This dandelion that I had photographed  has been cropped and text added.  The colour of the text was altered by colour picking from the stone in the background.

This image above is one of my favourite images from Barbara Hepworth's garden in St Ives and I used and adjustment layer (hard mix), added text, changed its colour and then warped the text.

This final image is one of Kim's and includes a texture layer and some judicial use of brushes.  

The best thing so far is that Kim is teaching some very useful habits to get into and I now appreciate why you should save photo files as PSDs once you have manipulated them.  With a PSD you get to save all the layers you have made so you can come back and work into it more later if you wish.  Magic!  

I'm at least a week behind on the course so I hope to get a few more lessons done over the next few days while Mum is resting.  Anyone who is a veteran at Photoshop will realise these are only baby steps in manipulation but that's what I need, a good grounding to demystify the process.

Some of you may know that I am a member of the Quilters Guild of Great Britain and within the Guild I am a member of the Contemporary Quilt Group.  This group has been invaluable to me since I joined and has been a constant source of friendship, inspiration and knowledge.  My main point of contact and chat has been the CQ Yahoo group but now we have our very own website!  

The site includes information about the group, images of members work and contact details for anyone who is interested in becoming a member.  The site is in its infancy but it already looks exciting and will be added to over time.  If I can manage it I will put a button on my sidebar.

Needless to say, crafting is taking a bit of a back seat at the moment.  Journal Quilts are waiting to be finished (3 still to do for this year), Stay Home Round Robin coming up in December, An A4 quilt for Another Little Quilt Swap.  Although my sewing table is now vaguely accessible in our bedroom I don't feel very inclined to get to grips with anything too complicated so I am handsewing some laminated fabric I was experimenting and may well end up handsewing my remaining projects this year.  Watch this space!  (My little Fantasy Bird has progressed but I keep forgetting to photograph it).

I can't go without showing you our gorgeous great nephew who is now almost 9 months old and who has just been to Australia and back to his uncle's wedding (in company with Mum and Dad and grandparents).

This little man charmed all the stewards on the flights to and from Australia and all the guests at the wedding.  He's learned to blow bubbles too and I can't wait to have another cuddle!

Friday, 19 November 2010

If you're having a bad day

you have to go and read this, it will have you crying with laughter (but maybe only if you like dogs and have tried moving house with them!).

I'm sorry I've been MIA.  Life!  I'll be back in a day or two.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Stay Home Round Robin 5

Not a lot happening in the Mixed Media household this week while my foot is still bruised but I have managed a little gentle sewing today courtesy of my left foot.  Kate's instruction for November for the Stay Home Round Robin was to attach 2 blocks of differing lengths to the top edge.  

These are the two blocks I made.  The lower block includes a snowball block, the first time I have made one of these.  I have a feeling the triangles shouldn't be quite so big but I'm happy with it.  The topmost block is made with free cut curved piecing again and I have tried to echo other colours and shapes in the rest of the piece.

This is how it looks now with the two blocks added.  I am so enjoying this monthly project! :)

I am probably teaching my grandmothers to suck eggs but I learned something at Sheena Norquay's workshop that may save my thread box from descending into a tangled mess.

We are all familiar with this type of cotton reel (above), but did you know they did this?

No, neither did I!  The end pops back in to hold the thread secure until you need to use it again.  Who'd a thunk?!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Fantasy Bird

No, not me, the workshop with Sheena Norquay.  :)  I have done very little today to rest my foot which is colouring up nicely, but I have photographed the piece I worked on yesterday.  We spent the morning making a quick sketch of our birds, either directly from Sheena's sheet of suggested bird parts or from our own imaginations.  Sheena gave us some good tips for placing the bird properly in the available space and after drawing the basic shape we transferred it to the fabric.

The rest of the morning was spent printing with various utensils like cotton buds, the rubber ends off pencils, screw ends, credit cards, sticks, anything to make the required marks really.

This is my cheerful little chap.  His beak reminds me of a Muppet character!  I forgot to take a pic before I started the stitching so you are seeing him with his embroidery (after layering with wadding).  

After adding the embroidery we cut back the wadding to the stitching line.  I am not sure yet whether I am going to cut out the space between the feet and under the tail.  The next step is to make the quilt sandwich and stitch round the bird and then quilt the piece.   I may well add a border too.  My brain wouldn't compute the border on Sunday but the light dawned today!

I didn't manage to stay until the end of the workshop because of my foot and fatigue but I feel confident that I can complete this piece and I'm looking forward to getting on with it.  

Sheena was very generous with the information she gave us and while I didn't learn the secrets of her design methods I did learn things that will help me with my future work.  She did talk about her inspirations and her talk on Saturday was very entertaining.  And I enjoyed the day, despite the foot.

On another subject, I've recently come across Kim Klassen's blog and am going to be doing a course with her on the basics of Photoshop.  The course starts on November 8 and is completely FREE!  You can read about it here.  I am reliably informed that Kim is a good teacher and she does have an impressive blog so I think I am going to learn a lot, especially as so far I can only do stuff with somebody holding my hand!  If you want to know about digitally altering your photos for your textile art why don't you join me?  It might help me keep on course :) 

Many thanks for all your good wishes about my foot.  It is growing some very attractive colours and I am being pampered by DH so there are some compensations!

Oops! I almost forgot!  Kate North is running her 'Another Little Quilt Swap' which is great fun.  This time you only need to make something A4 size so if you feel like playing along just click the link at the top of the right sidebar to get the details.  You can sign up now without any worry about dropping out as you are only committed  when you post a photo of your finished quilt. 

Monday, 1 November 2010

Colours of Autumn

There has been quite a bit of talk around the web about the beautiful colours of Autumn this year and while I was on my way to my brother's yesterday afternoon I just had to stop and photograph this beautiful avenue of trees in Woodhall Spa.  I had already driven down a similar avenue of glorious colour with yellow leaves fluttering down like a light shower as I drove into the town/village.  I don't often get up into this part of Lincolnshire and I was surprised by the beauty of the countryside up there.  If only I'd had more time to stop and take it all in!  I can see DH and I going back for a photographic shoot before too long.

Well, my weekend and workshop went off well, considering.  Considering what? Considering I fell out of the house as I was leaving Saturday morning, folded my ankle right over and ended up in a big heap with a badly bruised foot!  How did that happen?!  It could have been worse, at least I didn't break it!  I did a very creditable version of Hop-a-long Cassidy all weekend and did manage to make the workshop although I left early as my energy was waning and the foot was hurting.   Today I have been confined to my recliner on foot rest!

Sheena Norquay (pronounced Norkwye) was a very good teacher and I learned a lot of basics that I hadn't considered before as well as the techniques I had gone to the workshop for.  Unfortunately we were so busy I didn't get chance to take any photos but I will take some of the work in progress tomorrow and get it posted.  Sheena didn't allow any photography of her work so I can only direct you to her website for images.

You may remember a week or three ago I mentioned a giveaway that Cameron was having on her blog.  Well, I won! If you scroll down a couple of posts on Cameron's blog you will see the photo of her sister wearing the dress.

The lace is really pretty, especially the slightly heavier lace around the handkerchief edge.  The dress is a very delicate peach colour.  Thank you Cameron for a very lovely gift.  I will live with it for a while before I decide what to do with it.  It seems too lovely to cut up but I am a bit too old to wear the style so reincarnation may be its destiny!

While we were down at my Mum's the other week we had some help clearing out her shed:

This little fellow kept my DH company for quite a while and hopped about from place to place.  There was certainly a good supply of woodlice for him and even the odd worm!

We did find time for a little walk on the beach on a beautifully bright afternoon culminating in Apple Pie and Custard in the beach cafe. Yum!

You can see how different the beach is in the Thames Estuary compared with the beach in St Ives (below).