Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year

Here we are again!  Another year passed and a new one just a few hours away.  I suppose we have had quite a tricky year with the ill health of dear people close to us and it looks like 2011 will continue in the same vein for a while.  Balanced with that is the wonderful arrival of our very beautiful nephew Max whose smile gives us all a lift.

Like everyone I am spending time looking back over the year and looking forward to what the new year might hold, particularly in terms of creativity but I think I'll save that for another post.

If you are a friend on facebook you may have noticed some comments made by me on a page called 10k Everyday.  The page relates to a young man in my home town who, on 1 January 2010 committed to running 10 kilometres/6 miles everday for a year to raise awareness and funds for Cancer Research.  This morning he achieved his aim and completed run number 365 despite being full of the rotten cold that is plaguing everyone just now.

Being someone who barely walks to the shop less than half a mile away and who has no discipline at all I can only applaud Tim for turning out in all weathers, including the recent deluge of snow and ice, and sticking to his task through thick and thin.  You can read the local paper's report from this morning here and if cancer has touched your lives as it has ours, make a donation if you would like to Cancer Research UK through Justgiving here.  (Tim does not know that I am blogging this by the way).  At a time when I am struggling to stay positive I find Tim's dedication so inspiring and I  intend to keep his effort in mind as we enter 2011.  He is an inspiration!  I think that may well be my word for 2011!  Well done Tim! (Tim and I have never met).

It remains for me to wish everybody who looks in here, lurks, comments, doesn't comment, welcomes me to their blogs, shares their inspirations and recipes, shares their expertise and supports me in all ways a very happy, healthy, peaceful, strong, creative and inspired 2011.  I wish all my friends everything you would wish yourselves and then some. 

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Digital Fun and Christmas Presents

It's a bit like London buses.  Nothing for a while and then two (posts) come along in one day!  We have had a very quiet Christmas but it has been a chance to take things slowly.  My Mum is still staying with us and will be for a few more weeks yet.  She finds it very hard to concentrate for more than a few minutes so we haven't got far with occupational therapy.  She is managing a little knitting, just 11 stitches to a row but she will only work one row or maybe 2 and has then had enough.  One big improvement though is that she no longer needs the zimmer frame to walk round the house and is managing with a stick.  I find it doubtful, though, that Mum will be able to live on her own in the future so some difficult decisions may well have to be made soon.
While Mum has been snoozing I have found time to play some more with Photoshop Elements and am continuing with my lessons with Kim Klassen.

This first image has been constructed using a texture of distressed flooring that Kim supplied.  The finished image has been made into a brush which I can now use to add texture to other images.  I shall have to play with that and show you how it works.

I am very excited by this image above which has been made with a brush that I made myself out of a few lines of text.  I got the idea from Judi Hurwitt's blog where she has been playing with stacked text in preparation for the Sketchbook Challenge that will start on 1 January.  ( I would very much like to do this new challenge but I don't want to give myself too many commitments next year, especially as I am sure to have a lot of sorting out to do for mum.)  I am going to work some more with this stacked text and making brushes in Photoshop as I can see great potential for it in fabric design.  Hopefully I will get more adept and imaginative in making my designs.  I can't thank Kim Klassen enough for the knowledge I am gaining by doing her courses.   

Christmas was a bit of a non event with us, although we did have a pleasant day, but I did have several very thoughtful presents. 

I was both surprised and delighted to receive this lovely book which is a sourcebook of fabric designs from my stepson.  Who would think that a young man would put so much thought into a gift?  This book will keep me happy for hours!  You can tell by the colours of the scrim and thread on the right that a special friend knows me very well!  The wool that came with this present is already being used in a knitting project.  Mum is knitting me a scarf............eventually! ;-)

Just a couple of pages from the Swatches book.

My other stepson surprised us by bringing us gingerbread figures and bourbon truffles that he had made himself!  We didn't know he could cook!  Clever young man.  He is a member of two Indie bands and is beginning to get airplay on the radio.

Red Shoe Diaries - Indietracks 2010 Teaser from Red Shoe Diaries on Vimeo.

He's the one with the beard on bass guitar!  (The band lineup has changed slightly since the recording was made)

I had another very thoughtful gift from a very special blogging friend who, despite her own considerable problems caring for her own mum at the moment, found the time to think of me and send me a beautiful gift.

Somebody else who knows me well!  This is a fantastic book with so much inspiration inside and is a joy to read even if you never made anything from it, which is hardly likely! 

Helena's beautiful inscription really touched me and I will treasure this book all the more for that.  Thank you Helena for your very generous gift.  I am unworthy.  Helena also sent me a very pretty little babouschka doll which I forgot to photograph because she's sitting in our little Christmas tree but she is delightful and will be pinned to a jacket or bag after Christmas.  Helena blogs as herself and for her alter egos Bob T Bear Esq and Dilly .  Dilly and Bob are typical brother and sister and their adventures always make me smile and cheer me up when I am feeling low. 

Journal Quilt December

I didn't think I'd manage it but I have finished my final Journal Quilt for 2010 and there are still 3 days before the deadline!!  Yee har!  I wasn't sure what the final quilt was going to be but, after watching a video at Laura and Linda Kemshall's Design Matters TV site I decided to have a go at paper piecing.  I had a look through my photos for some fairly simple shapes and settled on an image I took in the harbour at St Ives.

This is the page from my sketchbook with the finished JQ next to my inspiration.  The shapes were so simple I could have just used curved piecing but I thought I would carry on and use paper piecing as I had never done it before.  In fact I think the shapes would have been easier to stitch in curved piecing but I got there in the end.

I used my own hand dyed fabrics and apart from stitching in the ditch to hold the quilt sandwich together and the horizontal quilting lines, all the rest was hand stitched including the binding.  While I have Mum staying here hand sewing seems to be more convenient. 

So, that's it on the Journal Quilt front for 2010.   The new quilt size will be announced in January and I shall then have to decide whether to join in again.  There is no doubt that this project does give you a focus and an opportunity to try things out on a small scale but I don't know what the new year is going to bring in terms of Mum's care so I will reserve judgement for the moment.  Meanwhile I've grouped the 12 quilts from this year as you can see below.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Digital Playing

Earlier this week my blogging friend Ju-north put a beautiful snow photo on her blog which she then played with in Paint Shop.  With my new found skills from working with Kim Klassen's wonderful digital manipulation classes I thought 'Ooh!  I think I can do that!'  Well I had to have a go and this is my version above. It's different from Julia's, as it should be, but I am so pleased that I actually understood what she had done and was able to follow the steps through myself. 

This is what the photo looked like to start with.

This soft focus image of tulips is another manipulation from Kim's class making full use of layer adjustments.  You probably need to click on it to see the effect.  

This image is all my own work!  Ir started as an image from an icy puddle with a texture of mouldy wood layered over and a swirl applied.  Then I used a stamp on a further adjustment layer and tweaked all the opacities.  Oh, I forgot, I also turned the image to black &white.  I am thinking that I may be able to use this as a texture in a future piece.

Finally, apologies if I've shown this before but this is another image from Kim's class which had an overlaid texture and lots of labels.  I think this digital thing could be very addictive.

Did I say finally?  I lied!  Finally:

I'm sure everyone is getting very busy with last minute preparations and travel (even I am going to do some baking as Mum is diabetic and I need to reduce her sugar!) so may I wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Peaceful New Year.  We are having a quiet Christmas at home so I'll be popping up online from time to time.  Thank you too to all my followers for your interest over the past year and beyond.  I hope I haven't bored you too much! ;-)

Merry Christmas and
A Happy New Year

Monday, 20 December 2010

Catching Up

I was going to be clever and set up some pages for my Sketchbook Project so that you didn't have to be bored by them all but I can't find out how to do it (so far) so if you're not interested just scroll past the upcoming pictures.  I was beginning to think that I would never finish the Sketchbook Project before the deadline of 15 January but I'm pleased to say that I am just about there.  I blogged about the first few pages here.  The remaining pages are here for your delectation!

This page was an oil pastel sketch with watercolour wash, with painted bark and a collage of fabrics and papers applied. 

The right hand page was a collage of beach finds over a napkin made when we were in St Ives in October and the left is a doodle.  I seem to have inadvertently  drawn a feminine form without intending to.

Scraped paint on the left and printing on the right with a wavy edge cut into the page.

What was I thinking!  This is a weaving of the laminated polyester that I used in my Journal Quilt  together with painted newsprint over a painted background.  If I had time I would work on top of this but I don't think that is going to happen.

I had fun with this page.  It is another vertical collage of napkins, painted papers of various content, painted doily and the backing paper from painted Bondaweb.

The right hand page was scribbled over with a white oil pastel which was supposed to resist the watercolour wash. Hmmm!  I threw salt on the paint while it was wet.

This is more oil pastel scribble with a watercolour wash.  It's not finished as I intend to add more scribbles in different materials on top (felt tip, coloured pencil, watercolour crayon).

This page above was great fun too.  I cheated and drew round a fish shaped clothes label that I found in St Ives.  I then used various texture mediums for the top 3 fish and collaged a piece of pre-painted yupo for the bottom fish. (NO affiliation to the SAA).  I used all sorts of  yarns and fabrics for the tails and may come back to this for a future quilt. 

The Theme of my Sketchbook is 'This is not a Sketchbook' so I thought I would finish with' This is not the End' ;-) Again, this page could do with some more work and I may try and add some printing if I possibly can.

I did have great plans for this sketchbook when I started out but they didn't quite turn out as I expected.  I removed a lot of the pages and stuck many of the remaining ones together as the paper was very flimsy.  At least I have managed to fill it and in the spirit of a working sketchbook some of the pages could be worked into.  Maybe someone who borrows it will decide to add their own contribution?

So, what else has been happening in freezing cold Lincolnshire?  You don't need me to tell you it's been freezing for far too long.  Fortunately we haven't had the latest dumping of snow but frost has been making everywhere look very pretty.

When I went to the postbox this afternoon the moon was already up:

My DH tells me that tomorrow is a very special winter solstice as there will be an eclipse of the moon.   Many thanks to my DH for the link!  It is the first time in 372 years that a lunar eclipse has fallen on the winter solstice.  It's quite probable that we won't see it here as fog is forecast.  Typical!

Finally, for the moment, something actually textile related.  I've finally managed to photograph the cot quilt I made for our friend's daughter's baby with the fabric my other friend's daughter designed (Farm Corner from Makower).

My DH kindly held the quilt up and you can see how big it's turned out.  I pretty much designed the quilt from scratch around the centre panel although I did use a pattern in one of the quilting magazines for a guide to the dimensions.  (Sorry, can't track down which one).

Life chez moi is pretty full of caring for Mum with not much time for creativity although I am trying to fit some hand sewing in.  Mum is making very slow progress, probably because I'm too soft with her and wait on her too much.  She is still walking with a frame so she can't carry anything but I've just had a brainwave!  The Red Cross hire out equipment so I think I'll see if I can hire one of those walkers with the trays on then maybe it will be easier for her to come and fetch things from the kitchen.  I really feel I need to get her to move about a bit more and that would be a start.

I hope you're all getting through the mad rush up to the big day on Saturday and that everyone gets safely home or to their holiday destination.  I'll be back in a day or two to say a proper Happy Christmas. :-)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Journal Quilts October and November

Two for the price of one this month!  Because of mum's illness I thought I might have to drop out of the Contemporary Quilt Group Journal Quilt project but I've used a quilt that I felt wasn't very good as a filler for October and I have managed to make one for November using hand sewing as that seems easier at the moment.  

This is the October quilt which I have named, unsurprisingly, Crinkled!  You may have seen this quilt, or a larger version of it, on here back in February.  I used the technique devised by Nellie Durand which you can read about here.  The base fabric I used here had been painted with inks (for some bizarre reason) and had been festering in my stash for sometime.  I sprayed the fabric with spray starch and scrunched it up and left it in a cup (not one I was going to drink out of) until it was almost dry and then smoothed it out and layered it with wadding and a rust dyed backing fabric.  I then used all colours and weights of embroidery thread and ran running stitches across the fabric building up a network.  It made me think of an aerial view of trackways although that wasn't my intention.  The piece was originally much bigger as I was going to use it as a Journal quilt last year but didn't think it was good enough.  Being as I am in a panic to get the JQs made this year I decided 'needs must' and cut it to size for this year's JQs.

This is my JQ for November and I am happy with the stitch and the colour.  It started out as an attempt at Paper Lamination which went wrong because I didn't fully understand the process.  Not least of all I forgot to heat set the paper once the medium was dry.   You can find a great tutorial by Claire Benn on Youtube.

As I hadn't collaged my paper before applying the medium, I cut the resulting fabric up afterwards and collaged it onto a hand dyed base fabric, wadding and backing.  I then basted/tacked everything in place and started to hand stitch in various weights according to how the piece spoke to me.  I deliberately left some areas without stitch and I'm pleased with the result.  I think I will have another go at laminating as it gives a lovely layered effect.

I've started my JQ for December and am actually paper piecing!  I've never done it before and thought I would have a go after seeing it on Design Matters, Linda and Laura Kemshall's site.  I've made it tricky for myself by choosing curved shapes but it is coming together.  Watch this space!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Snow - still!

The snow that fell on Saturday last has been joined by a lot more over the last week and consequently yours truly hasn't been very far.  It's amazing how many basic food supplies you can order off the milkman to have delivered to your door and how little you can spend when you don't go to the supermarket!  It's also amazing how the milkman can brave freezing temperatures in the middle of the night to get the milk to your doorstep while the postman finds it impossible to walk up your street to deliver the post!  We've had no post all week and I'm waiting for stuff!  

Anyway, enough ranting!  When the skies send you snow, break out the dyes!  I have to confess that my quick foray into snow dyeing this week didn't turn out quite as I intended.  I was aiming for browns, oranges and blues from the dyes I chose only to find I'd grabbed golden yellow instead of an orange so yet again I've got greens! Duh!

I made a few deliberate errors, as ever,  and some areas of the cloth ended up sitting in the thawed out snow/dye which gave a solid colour but these areas are the best.  I used Golden Yellow, Turquoise and Aquamarine.  Not that I want any more snow but if we get some later in the winter I shall have another go with orange and indigo and see what that gives me. 

There has been a lot of discussion on the Contemporary Quilt Group Yahoo site on the subject of snow dyeing.  I did mine by soda soaking my fabric for about half an hour.  I then wrung the excess out and put it crumpled up on top of upturned foil dishes in a large bowl.  I heaped snow on top and then poured on the three dye solutions (one tsp dye powder mixed with 100mls tepid water) using a teaspoon to distribute the colour/sprinkle the dye on.  The bowl was left outside for a few hours but as it was still freezing out there I brought the bowl into the conservatory until bedtime when I judged that enough dye had percolated down, removed the snow and put the fabric into a plastic bag and put the whole thing into a warmish room overnight.  Having then decided that the kitchen wasn't really that warm I put the bowl up against the radiator for a few more hours and then rinsed like a loony and did a final quick wash in the machine.  The beauty of the fabric was revealed when I ironed it.  My method is definitely of the hit and miss variety and not the scientific variety.  I'm amazed it works!  The main thing is not to let the fabric sit in puddles of dye or you'll get solid colour.

You can find more posts on snow dyeing if you click the label at the end of this post.

It's snowing again as I type and guess whose DH is going to be walking home from a 'boys night out' later on?  It takes all sorts............. :-)  Just hope he doesn't fall over!  Keep warm and safe if you have snow and ice.