Saturday, 28 January 2012

In an English Country Garden and a quilt for my Mum

Well, I've finished it!  The hands are complaining but I've managed to finish the piece I started at Peterborough and if I can just get it in the post early enough on Monday I may be in time to have it considered for the Celebrating Diversity Quilt which will be displayed at the Quilt Museum in York.

I am really pleased with this little piece.  It is 20cms square (not 8" which is slightly bigger than 20cms, ask me how I know!) and is made entirely from recycled fabrics.  I decided to continue the decorative stitching around the yellow rose even though it is part of the base cloth and therefore didn't need securing but I felt it balanced everything to have it stitched.  I finished the edge in a very close hand stitched whipped or satin stitch which took several hours to complete and then 'quilted' the open areas and the crinoline lady by invisibly stitching tiny stitches throughout to hold the top layer firmly to the wadding.  

I've also finished the bed topper I was making for my Mum. (Ooh! I don't think I told you about that before).

Stylishly modelled by the invisible man (otherwise known as DH) the quilt is 120cms by 150cms and has been backed with a fleece that I bought in Sainsbury's.  I designed the quilt around the centre panel that I had bought a year or more ago at The Stitchery in Ruskington, a village near me.  The two panels started out life side by side so I cut them apart and put them one above the other. They are a design from Clothworks called Garden Path, quite appropriately.   The strips were cut at 3.5" as that fitted in better than a 2.5" strip and was less sewing!  I've turned the edge under and stitched it down so that the fleece shows at the front and embroidered Mum's name so she can feel safe that it won't get lost in the home.

Excuse the ropey machined hearts around the edge.  I had a hard time controlling the flow of the fabrics under the needle and got some very wonky shapes in the hearts! 

After all that creativity I am in need of a lie down in a darkened room but there's not much likelihood of that this week as I have lots to do including an exciting day out planned for Tuesday, more of which after the event ;-)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Catching up with friends and an English Country Garden

For longer than I care to remember I have been promising to go and see the lovely ladies at Art and Stitch in Peterborough but never seem to have managed it with everything that was going on last year.  Happily today, on a beautiful sunny winter's day, I gathered my sewing things and hopped on a train for the short journey to Peterborough. 

Since I last went Angela and Pam who run Art and Stitch had moved premises in a bid to confuse me but their efforts were in vain and I tracked them down.  I was greeted with a very warm welcome and a cup of tea!  What more could you want?

The main shop includes the workshop area and as you can see is a wonderful space to work in.  (The blinds were closed against the brightness of the sun during the morning as it was blinding the ladies).

This is the view from the other end of the room.  Thursday is social sewing day and it certainly was a very sociable experience.  The ladies made me very welcome and I am going to try and go on a bit more regular basis if I can - at least more regularly than once a year!  

I took some hand sewing with me and made really good progress.  I am going to add some kantha style stitching to the background and will probably finish the edge with satin stitch.

This piece is 8" square and is on a theme of the English Country Garden.  As you can probably tell it is made with some beautiful embroideries from cushion covers and doillies that I found in Grace's house.  It seemed sacrilege to cut them up but then again they will only sit in a drawer otherwise and I don't think Grace would object too much if she was alive.  She always encouraged me in all my arting and probably knew her textiles would take on new identities once I got near them lol.  I have to admit to this being inspired by the work of Susan Lenz whose blog I have followed for a number of years and who I have met when she came to Nottingham.  Susan does a lot of work with re-purposed textiles and has made some beautiful pieces with textiles like these including 'Anonymous'. 

If I can get this piece finished and in the post over the weekend it may become part of a larger exhibition piece with the Contemporary Quilt Group at the Quilt Museum in York later this year.  Nothing like leaving things to the last minute!

If you live anywhere within reach of Peterborough I can heartily recommend Art and Stitch for shopping, classes in all sorts of stitch related topics, friendly people to chat to and a warm welcome, not to mention some raucous laughter!

All topped off by a sunny train ride home.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bugs and quilts

It's been a bit of a busy old week and pretty eventful, not least because my very dear friend of over 20 years has moved across the Pennines to the very lovely county of Cheshire.  She has moved into what is known as the Textile Triangle so we are both very excited by the prospect of lots of expeditions and lots of inspiration in the coming months and hopefully years.  I'm looking forward to visiting her new home which has far reaching views across the hills around Macclesfield and a beautiful woodland garden.

A week or two ago, before her move, my friend had a surprise package from her daughter who I have mentioned on the blog before.  This time the package contained the latest designs that her daughter had made for Makower fabrics.

Isn't it lovely?  There are lots more designs on the Makower site here. Not surprisingly it is called 'Bugs'.  I made a baby quilt with M's original Farm Corner design for our grand-nephew and I think I will make a quilt for the new baby due in April with this fabric.  It's so bright and colourful and agian has so much detail in it.  There is a free quilt pattern on the Makower site and I was delighted to discover it is designed by Hilary Gooding (the quilt as opposed to the fabric) who is a very lovely lady who I know from the Contemporary Quilt Group

Yesterday I spent a very busy day making a quilt to go on my Mum's bed at her care home.  I bought a fleece at Sainsbury's a couple of weeks ago with the thought that I could use it as a backing and do away with the wadding.  I had a sudden flash of memory that I had bought a panel a year or two ago and put it away for when inspiration dawned and yesterday was the day.  After a bit of measuring and improvisation I have pieced the top and only have to attachit to the fleece.  Sadly I have not photographed it yet but I am keen to get it finished this week so I'll share it soon.

Meanwhile, something I can show you.  As part of the Journal Quilt challenge for 2011 I started a close toned piece a few months ago with the thought of stitching it as a slow cloth in the manner of Jude Hill

I tore strips of various fabrics including fabrics I had printed at Summer School, my hand dyes, silk dupion, vintage broderie anglaise, embroidered curtain fabric, vintage cotton and ribbon and also a piece of laminated fabric ( fabric made by adhering pieces of newsprint).  The fabrics were woven together and then I added various hand stitches.  You will notice that I couldn't resist using some of Jude's feather designs and for some of them I have used the rayon threads that I won from Dale. The rayon has a lovely sheen but is a bit tricky to stitch with.  I added the yarn at the bottom (for some unknown reason) and then added buttons as this was going to be my January JQ but I've since used the Barcelona one instead.  I plan to trim the wadding on this and back it onto a piece of black felt.

Tomorrow will be another busy day.  DH put some shelves up in my studio and I am going to be knee deep in sorting out the chaos in there so that I can move out some of the chaos from the house that should be in the studio.  Wish me luck!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Playing With Red

I had been thinking about not doing the Journal Quilts with the Contemporary Quilt Group this year as I found it hard going last year to keep up with this challenge.  In fact I have cheated a bit with the final one and used the Barcelona one I made some time ago.

As all the Journal Quilts for the last 4 months of the 2011 challenge had to include buttons in one incarnation or another I have added a decorative button that came from my friend Grace's button collection and which reminded me of the elaborate ceiling bosses at the Parc Guell designed by Antonio Gaudi.  I have blogged about this JQ previously and as you can see the lettering was made from crazy piecing.

As I was saying, I had almost made up my mind not to make any Journal Quilts this year but then I received the CQ Newsletter and read that the requirement this year will be based on colour.  The first four each have to be 75% red with only 25% made up of other colour/s.   It was while I was looking at the Strathmore Online Workshop that I had the idea to work on fabric instead of paper and I had a great time printing onto a length of cotton.

Now I know this doesn't look very red yet but it is redder in real life than the photo shows.   I used fabric paints in Maroon, Orange, White and Black and printed and stamped using plastic food packaging, sponges, stamps made from heat treated foam pressed onto buttons and teaspoons and spraying Brusho Shimmer Spray over metal doillies which were then turned over and printed with. (I used artistic licence in using maroon and orange as they are already shades and not true reds and it was all I had!)

I have cut 4 x A4 pieces from this cloth and will work on each piece in a different way to fulfil the challenge.  So far I have thought of overdyeing with red and then working into the piece again, painting and doodling to create layers as you would on paper, cutting up the base fabric and adding in other shades of red in a 'cut and come again' way to make an A4 quilt, embellishing with stitch and beads in shades of red, and possibly overlaying pices of fabrics and sheers again to create layers in a clooagey way.  I don't feel I'm much good at doodling but I am excited at the way this challenge has started out and the printing is great fun so I think I am going to enjoy myself.  Of course, I may have to think of other techniques to use when it comes to the remaining 8 months of the year and their colours which I think are yellow and then blue.  I can see yellow being a bit tricky!

I forgot to say, the dots on the fabric were made by printing with the dried ends of asparagus stems tied together with elastic bands and dipped in paint!  Lots of fun.

Of course what I should be doing is making my piece for the International Challenge Group that is due to be completed by late February.  The theme is 'Archi-texture' and I have some ideas but no real plan.  I may be MIA for a while getting it done!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

St Ives again and Erosion Bundles

You don't need to panic, I'm not going to post yet more pictures to turn you green with Cornish envy ;-)  At the last minute before Christmas I decided that I should make my good friend a St Ives based wall hanging, partly because she is a very special friend and partly because she is about to move away from just around the corner to the other side of the Pennines.  Why is it we always have these good ideas at the very last minute when we have had weeks or months to think of it?  Must be the creative mind (that's my excuse anyway).

Despite the pressures of working at full tilt and fighting with my machine I managed to complete my self imposed challenge.

You have probably seen a smaller version of this before in a workshop I did with Gina Ferrari down at Art & Stitch some time ago but this piece is about A3 size.  I used many of the processes we used with Gina to make the various textures in this piece and I'm happy to say my friend was delighted with it.  She has it hanging above her bed.  You can read more about the process from the original workshop here.

While we were down in St Ives we met up with the very lovely and talented Carolyn Saxby for a lunch of toasted cheese crumpets (my DH's speciality when in St Ives) and cream cakes supplied very naughtily by Carolyn.  Carolyn and I always like to have a beach ramble when we get together but this time our ramble was cut very short by a great deal of liquid sunshine, otherwise known as pouring rain.  As a result we decided to meet up another day and have a look round some galleries and try for another beachcomb.  In the event it was too cold for a beachcomb and the light was fading by the time we left the Millenium Gallery (sadly their website seems to be down at the moment) but we did agree to start a joint project with the items we had collected previously.

A couple of years ago we both took part in the Erosion Bundle project run by Seth Apter and Carolyn made another Erosion Bundle last year which she opened when we were in St Ives in April.  This year as there is no longer an official Erosion Bundle Project (last year's was run from this blog) Carolyn and I are making our own bundles and opening them on 1 April.  I prepared part of the bundle while I was in St Ives using seaweed and various papers and since I've been home I'veadded to it and made 3 more.

I've used an assortment of papers including failed computer printouts,

fabrics of all types and paper marked with watersoluble wax crayons,

photographs, rusty nails, cutoffs including hand made papers from old projects and various painted papers and fabrics.

All 4 bundles are now sitting in various positions in the garden with great hopes for their disintegration over the coming months but hopefully not for too many creepy crawlies!  Since I've made the bundles I've thought of lots more things I could have put in them so there could well be another one going out there soon.  At least they won't need weeding!  Or maybe they will!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Journal Quilts and New Year

Nearly a month ago now I said I would be back by the end of the week with an update on my Journal Quilts inspired by Cesar Manrique.  Where did the time go?  Where it always goes, it flew away!  Anyway the quilts are finished so without further ado.......

This is 'Herself'.  See any resemblence?  I took one of our holiday pics and printed it out on A4 paper and then traced the main shapes and used the drawing as a guide to the main fabric pieces.  I used my own hand dyes for the background and face and the shirt is an oil stick rubbing over the sole of my new sandals which then had a loose wash of lumiere fabric paint.  My dear friend Carolyn Saxby who we recently caught up with in St Ives (more of that later) suggested that I bead the background and I'm pleased she did.  The free machine embroidery is very very rough but I think it suits the style of the whole piece so I didn't worry how badly I was doing it!

Well, if you've got 'Herself' you should probably have 'Himself', so here  he is.....

Scary or what?!  I followed the same procedure as before and used my hand dyes for the face  and backgrounds.  DH likes to wear his silk tie waistcoats so I made up some fabric to resemble them.  Boy, was that hard!  I bonded the fabrics onto a base but it wasn't easy combining the shapes.  What do you think to the beard and moustache?  I butchered a crocheted doily to get the effect.  As the JQ had to include buttons I used them to describe DH's spotty bow tie.  For both quilts Kaffe Fassett's fabric came in very useful for the eyes.  

I had great fun making both of these and I'd really like to have a go at something similar on a larger scale.  

As you no doubt guessed we disappeared to St Ives for New Year and despite the best efforts of the weather to blow us away we had a lovely relaxed week with some beachy walks and full enjoyment of the beautiful views from the flat we rented.

This was the view in one direction towards the harbour and the Island.

And this is the view the other way across The Malakoff towards Godrevy Lighthouse and the coast beyond Hayle.

You would not expect to see such a  glorious sky at this time of year would you?

We had a real mixture of weather while we were away, from glorious sunshine to howling gales and lashing rain.

I've got lots of lovely photographs to play with and add textures to.

St Ives is the third most popular place to spend New Year's Eve and the place was jumping!  Sadly it threw it down with rain for the celebraitons but it did ease off in time for the fireworks.  We wimped out and watched the whole proceedings from our flat (apartment).

You should be able to see the crowds on this rather blurry photo.  

The fireworks were stupendous and very noisy!!  I don't think cannons going off would have been any louder! YouTube have several videos of the spectacle but I think we had the best view as we were high up and could see all levels of the display.  Sadly YouTube will not give me the code to embed the video here.  

As I said earlier I met up with Carolyn while we were in St Ives and I'll bring you more about that next time.

Meanwhile, thank you all for your lovely Happy New Year messages, I cherish them all.  We are already a week into the New Year and it will no doubt have all the high spots and low spots that every year brings but I do hope for all of us that there are more high spots than low.  Happy Creativity!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

The dawning of a New Year!  I hope that 2012 is a happy, healthy, creative and rewarding year for everyone doing things that you love with the people you love.

I'll be back soon.  Gone beachcombing!