Wednesday, 25 April 2012


I have quite a bit of catching up to do but I am going to jump in and show you my latest response to the International Quilt Challenge blog which I have posted over there today. 

The theme for the latest challenge is 'Time' and when I started to think about 'Time' my brainstorming produced a long list of possibilities.  The words of a Simon & Garfunkel song came to mind, 'Time, time, time  See what's become of me.......' and a hymn, I think , ' Time like an ever rolling stream bears all our fears away.  They die, forgotten, as a dream dies at the break of day'.

I thought of passing time, time past, holiday time, a stitch in time, old time, part time, daytime, night time, dreamtime, time travel, lost in time...... The list went on and on.  Then, on a visit to Greenwich Royal Observatory I was reminded that there are much larger measurements of time than seconds, minutes and hours.  I was particularly struck by an audio visual installation that stated that the light from the Andromeda Galaxy takes so much time to reach the Earth that's it's journey is measured in light years.  The view that we see of the Andromeda Galaxy is brought to us by light that left it approximately 2.6 million light years ago. It is the most distant body that can be seen with the naked eye and lies just below Orion's Belt in the constellation of Orion.  Seen through a telescope it is truly beautiful and I feel a personal connection to it through my late husband who was passionate about astronomy. (Not my present DH in case you were worried).

So, with this thought in mind I chose to make my piece about the Andromeda Galaxy.

I have been wanting to explore the colour wash method of construction for sometime and so played with this a little by using a range of my hand dyed fabrics of various textures (cottons, velvets, bamboo and something unidentifiable that had been tossed in the dye bath) together with a couple of commercial fabrics.  The piece was put together with curved piecing as a reference to the spiral nature of the galaxy but I think I could have been even more adventurous with the curvatures.  I layered the top onto polyester wadding and then hand stitched/quilted in a spiral from the centre outwards.  I felt the spiral stitching would reflect the spiral nature that I think is attached to time and I used hand stitching because it would take physical time to complete.

I used a Madeira Rayon for the quilting and then used a gorgeous metal thread from the Illuminations range at the Thread Studio to make reference to a beautiful infra-red image of the Galaxy that I found here.  Finally, I added some small beads to suggest some of the stars that contribute to the galaxy. 

The finished size of 'Andromeda' is just over A3 and I am thinking of facing it instead of binding it and will probably give it a curved edge rather than square.  As with the previous challenges I am left with pages of ideas to take forward from this theme and may develop it further for my Festival of Quilts entry, but maybe I won't use quite so much hand stitching!

DH and I have just got back from a week in Lancashire and I have a lot to update you on so I'll be back soon. :D

Saturday, 14 April 2012

London Greenwich

Will I ever get caught up?  This is the second half of our London visit.  I've been back and updated the previous post to include a link to the official London2012 site as I missed that off before.

On the other day of our weekend we paid a visit to Greenwich which I had not been to since I was at school in the 60's (look out girl, showing your age!).  Sadly it was a bit of a gloomy, not to mention chilly, day but we still enjoyed the day.  

First port of call was the site of the Cutty Sark, the last surviving tea clipper.  Actually, very little of the original ship survived a fire after its last restoration but now the ship has been restored in all its glory and is opening to the public again later this month.  As part of the restoration it has been raised up so that it is more clearly visible to the passing public.

Don't fancy his job up there!

Looking across the river you can see the business area of Canary Wharf.  It was a bit cold on the riverfront so we wandered off to Greenwich Market which has a long history and which is soon to be moved from its present site much to the consternation of the traders.

The market was a great vibrant place and we enjoyed a quick lunch in a small cafe before venturing back out into the chilly wind.  

I couldn't resist snapping this shelf of aromatherapy oils on the way out. Definite design potential there!

Looking back across Greenwich Park the Royal Naval College flanks a view of Canary Wharf. 

Interesting views across the London skyline.  The building with the four chimneys is an old power station but the front looks more like a church.  

We toiled up the hill to the site of the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the photo above needs no explanation (please do click on it to enlarge it).  ;-)

This fascinating building is the Peter Harrison Planetarium and is now London's only Planetarium.  It is made of over 200 bronze panels which have been 'brushed' or coated to give a textured appearance (sorry, I can't remember the details).  

This wonderful onion dome building contains the 28" reflecting telescope which is the largest of its kind in the UK and the 7th largest in the world.  The telescope is in regular use and the public can come to regular viewing nights in the winter months.  I am sure there is much design potential in the shapes here and even in the shadow marks around the base of the onion which I think are probably the effects of the weather. 

This was the closest we could get to the meridian or any mention of it as you had to pay to see it at teh Observatory and we didn't have enough time to make it worthwhile going in as we had to rendezvous with our coach.

On the way back down through Greenwich Park we came to a memorial garden to the victims of the Titanic disaster.

The garden was not at its best after the winter but I thought this memorial poignant in view of the 100th anniversary of the sinking which took place at 2.20am on 15 April 1912.  It is 'thanks' to this terrible tragedy that many of today's safety measures at sea came into being.  Many ships have been lost at sea but the tragedy of the Titanic lives on in people's psyche.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

London Olympics 2012

No, we're not in them but we did have a coach trip to visit some of the locations the weekend before Easter.    Our visit was split between two days and we had a guided tour of the perimetre of the Olympic site (security precautions prevent direct access to the site at the moment), a visit to Royal Greenwich and a visit to the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich which will be the venue for the Shooting events. 

The main arena above has been made in part from recycled drainage pipes and can be altered to suit its new purpose after the Olympic Games.  Because the Olympic site was due to be built on industrial ground tonnes of toxic soil had to be removed, hence all public access will be at the level of the walkway with the purple buildings.  A surprising fact is that the site is bordered by the Victorian Sewage system devised by Joseph Bazalgette which forms a huge bank now called the Greenway from which we had our view of the site.

This wonderful tower is Anish Kapoor's ' Orbit', a sculpture specially designed for the Olympic location.  From our viewpoint we could see workmen hanging from the piped structure.  I think they were painting, a bit like the Forth Road Bridge.

'Visitors will be able to take a trip up the statuesque structure in a huge lift and will have the option of walking down the spiralling staircase.'  As the sculpture is higher than the Statue of Liberty the view should be tremendous.  If you follow the link for Anish Kapoor you will find further links and more information about this unique artwork.

Had we felt energetic we could all have had the experience of crossing the finishing line through this wonderful (drift)wood sculpture on the Greenway.  The organisers are keen to include the Arts in this special event and I was delighted to see an exhibition of mosaics by members of the BAMM

 Above - work by Ann Bowles

 Tom Green Flower Trail

 Norma Vondee Singing Bird

Jan Waddington Flower Basket - Moody Blues

I liked the sculpture above but sadly didn't gather any information about it.

From this location we were taken to the Royal Arsenal by way of the Woolwich Ferry. 

This is one of the temporary buildings that will be home to the shooting events.

The trip across on the ferry was interesting!  I'm glad our coach had good brakes!

An unexpected bonus of visiting the Royal Arsenal was this sculpture at the end of an open plaza.

The sculptor is Peter Burke and it was very eerie walking among the figures.

Is it solid? Is it shadow?

I think I've exhausted Blogger and you so I'll end with this great slogan I saw in the bar at the Royal Arsenal.  The two heads at the bottom of the photo are playing Monopoly using a digital card machine as the bank.  Who would have thought?

To be continued.....

11 April Post amended to add links to London 2012 site.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Fenland Textile Studio

Yesterday Wendy and I travelled to Spalding to visit Angela at her newly opened studio at Unique Cottage Studios.  Angela has been teaching for a long time and is responsible for getting me into dyeing and even quilting itself as hers were the first classes I attended when I started on this journey that I'm on.  Although Angela is based at Unique she is offering her own classes and groups and has some exciting plans coming up.

Wendy and I arrived about 11 o'clock to find the place buzzing with lots of chat and plenty to look at.  My photos were taken at the end of the day when things had calmed down and we were sitting round having a chat and Angela was finally able to eat something!

 Trudi, who blogs as Quilting Prolifically was there all day giving demonstrations of her mid-arm quilter and Tina, who is masked in this photo, had brought along samples of her hand quilting which is always beautiful.  Angela is seated on the right concentrating on Wendy talking out of shot.

Looking the other way you can see tea and cakes (yummy too) and the area showing work from Carol who is sharing the studio with Angela. 

If you go to Angela's blog you can see more photos of the studio here.  You can also click on a link to register for Angela's newsletter and keep up with the classes on offer.  Angela is a very calm and generous teacher and I owe her a lot.  I am looking forward to doing a 'Stitching for Texture' workshop with her later in the year.  I saw the sample book the workshop produces yesterday and it will be a great reference tool.

Last weekend DH and I went on a coach trip to see Olympic London which he has already blogged about so I will tell you about it and bring you my photos next time.

It's a bit late but I hope you have all had a relaxed and Happy Easter weekend with families or chilling out or doing whatever warms your heart.  We have spent the day with Mum who was on good form and enjoyed watching 'The King and I' on TV.  Weren't the costumes fabulous in that film?  See you soon!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Catching Up Again continued

Sewing For Pleasure show continued

This piece by Christine Hudson was part of the Madeira Embroidery competition stand on a theme of Best of Blighty.  Christine's notes explain her inspiration.  I'm only sad I didn't read them properly as she invited you to explore the pieces and I would have loved to have turned the pieces over and handled them. 

I was pleased to see some of the costumes from Downton Abbey at the Sewing for Pleasure Show.

I think the costume nearest to you was worn by the character Lady Sybil.  

Isn't the detail beautiful? I love the swirls on the sleeve.

These postcards are part of a much larger display of work by West Country Embroiderers.  Hopefully if you click on the image you will be able to see more detail.

After the enjoyment of the Shows at the NEC I had a lovely day out in Lincoln with two blogging friends.  It was a gloriously sunny day last Tuesday and we were sure to make the most of it.  My DH travelled on the bus with me but went off to do his own thing and use the opportunity to gather photographs for his collection.

You may recognise Maggi and Linda from their blogs (image courtesy of DH).  Both these ladies are wonderful company and we had a lot of fun.  Our first port of call was Harding House Gallery on Steep Hill which is run by a cooperative of artists who sell their works and also man the gallery and often work there too.   There is so much beautiful work in the gallery from textiles to pottery, to jewellery, to paintings and upstairs is an exhibition space which this visit housed an exhibiton by Doreen Hallett, an accomplished quilter.  If you click the link you will be able to view her work rather than having to rely on my probably blurry images.  

From the gallery we wandered slowly up Steep Hill, well you have to wander slowly, it's very steep and there are chocolate shops to distract you along the way :-) (of course we succumbed! Well, you have to don't you?)  

So much beautiful colour in the blossom part way up the hill. 

After a relaxed lunch in a pub garden enjoying the sunshine we took a walk to Lincoln's wonderful cathedral and were all inspired by the stunning stonework on the outside of the building which have been cleaned and repaired.

While we were inside the Cathedral visiting the shop the sun set up a beautiful colour show on the columns cast by the stained glass.  A beautiful way to bring our time together to a close.  Sadly I can't show  you the gorgeous chocolate that we bought at the chocolaterie as I've eaten it! lol 

Thank you Linda and Maggi for a great day out.  I really enjoyed myself and I loved the  threads you gave me Maggi.  I will enjoy dyeing them.  My DH had a good day too and is only now uploading his photos as he has been without a computer for two weeks.  He has gone over to the 'other side' and bought a Mac to replace his PC but the learning curve is very steep (a bit like Steep Hill) and we are having many pauses as we toil up it.  DH's son came round last night and gave him a crash course in iPhoto and we are slowly finding our way round that but progress is slow.