Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Our newly opened local quilting and stitching centre is starting a social stitching day from next Wednesday and I'm really looking forward to going and spending time with fellow stitchers.  Textile crafts and creative activities in general tend to be solitary activities so it is going to be lovely to have somewhere to go regularly to stitch in company or just to chat.  If you live within reach come along and join the fun!

We have been following the progress of Hurricane Sandy on the TV and online and DH and I both hope that our friends in the affected area are safe and dry.  We are thinking of you all.

Saturday, 27 October 2012


I thought you might like to see a few of the photos I took today on a very cold but enjoyable walk round the parkland at Belton House.   I think it must be the amount of rain we had earlier in the year that is giving us such a glorious Autumn this year.  With the sun shining beautifully today the colours were stunning!

It's coming to something when you have to apologise for nature!

Experimenting with angles.

Not a clue what these pretty toadstools are but I don't think I'd eat them.

You'd think from that rucksack he was stalking someone but, no, it's just a photo opportunity.

I'm not sure whether this is a handkerchief or a tulip tree but it looked stunning today.

Thanks to some advice from Mark Highton-Ridley I have been experimenting with taking photos on 'Aperture Priority' and I'm liking the results.  Thank you Mark!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Dawn Cameron-Dick

Earlier this week I did a workshop at Stitchcraft, our new sewing centre, with Dawn Cameron-Dick.  You may remember she was the guest speaker at the opening of Stitchcraft but I missed her talk as I was displaying my own work.   This was the first workshop I had done here and I was impressed with the friendly welcome accompanied by 'help-yourself' tea and coffee all day and an included lunch.  

The workshop took place in a very roomy room with plenty of space for all of us.  The subject was 'Invisible Machine Appliqué' and Dawn proved a very entertaining and informative teacher.  (Sadly I forgot to take my camera!  What am I like?)  Dawn spent the morning showing us examples of uses for invisible machine appliqué and talking to us about needles and threads.  I think this is the first time I have actually got to grips with what all the numbers mean on different threads.  I made copious notes (as Dawn remarked) but also bought Dawn's Pocket Tutor for future reference.

 As I am unlikely to hold all the info about needle and thread sizes in my head I'm sure the Pocket Tutor will get some use.

Before we were allowed to go for lunch we had to get our machines set up with clear thread, the correct needle and the correct bobbin tension, having stitched some sample rows.  I had kittens when Dawn merrily took a screwdriver to my bobbin and 'righty tighty' off went my tension!   Gasp!  I have always lived by the law that you keep a separate bobbin for tension twiddling but, no, it is perfectly acceptable, indeed  desirable to alter the tension in the bobbin according to the thread on the bobbin spool.  A thin thread will need a tighter tension than a thicker thread (seems obvious now).   At the moment my machine is still set up for IMA.  I'll let you know if I have trouble getting it to sew straight again ;-)

I can't show you any process photos but I can show you the  pieces I produced.

 The three pieces above don't look much but they took a while to work and I am delighted to have worked them.  I never thought I would ever attempt any part of a dresden plate but done this way it was very straightforward.  The dresden plate section just needs the backing calico clipping away.  The three pieces above allowed us to work with three different ways of using IMA.  .  Freezer paper and fusible vilene played their part.

Although my circle is just a little wonky I am pleased to have achieved this panel and am looking for ways to play with this technique.  When I get round to making something myself with the technique I will take some process photos in case you are not familiar with Invisible Machine Appliqué.  I can see some great uses for it maybe in landscape quilts and it takes all the pain out of insetting circles.

I have been very busy all week on a little project that I can't share with you just yet and it's going to take me another day or two to finish it then I shall have to take stock and see where I am going next.  Apart from some UFO's or not-quite-finished projects I don't have a clear plan for the next few weeks.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Catching Up Again

I can't seem to keep this blog up to date lately.   The Knitting & Stitching Show is rapidly fading into the past and I havn't mananged to blog it yet so here goes.

I went to the K&S Show at Alexandra Palace on the way to my stepdaughter's Hen Weekend and was pleased that I made the effort although it was a very tiring visit with lots of people crowding the exhibition hall.  I should say the most impressive part for me was the Nancy Crow curated Colour Improvisations.  Nancy invited 26 contemporary quilt artists from around the world to make quilts improvising on the topic of colour.  The result is a vibrant and diverse exhibition of large quilts, many very different in style and many by people I have only known through the internet.  Now that I've tickled your fancy I have to own up to not having any photos as these were not allowed but I can direct you to the work of Kathleen Loomis, whose 'fine lines' have to be seen to be believed, Terry Jarrard-Dimond, Cathy Shanahan , and Jane Willoughby Scott.   The majority of the quilts were huge and thereby real statements of colour and texture.  I think I may have to obtain one of the catalogues as the notes I took in front of the works are insufficient reminders.

So, what can I show you?  

In the entrance hall to the exhibition you are greeted by The Unfinishable Project.  This whole tent is covered inside and out by people's unfinished projects and the stories connected to them along with the names of some of the artists.

I could see echoes of some of my unfinished projects here, particularly in the vintage linens.

Ann Barbara Smith was exhibiting as part of 4X4 group and I was particularly drawn to this piece with its many layers.  I cannot find a website for 4x4 so include an image of their notice at the Show.

Cas Holmes's beautiful work was again on display as it had been at Festival of Quilts.  I was pleased to have another opportunity to look at it.  While I was browsing I was delighted to hear Cas take particular time and care to advise a young textile student who had come to ask whether she could make a study of her work. 

I keep trying not to buy any more books but I think I will be buying Cas's book when I go to the Knitting & Stitching Show again(!) at Harrogate in November.  I love her combination of vintage linens with layers and surface stitching.

This stand was launching the new book by Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating.

The book above is by Jane McKeating and titled 'Transitions'.

A detail from the exhibition title.

Not sure who this is by but it's titled 'Three hundred years of French Architecture'.

Talking of France I have to show you the wonderful carpets, yes, carpets, of John Allen.

These are carpets for the wall and are woven in Nepal having been designed by John Allen in London.  Their colours are vibrant yet calming.  I believe they will be travelling to each of the K&S venues so there is chance to see them in Dublin and Harrogate.

I think that's enough for now ;-)  I'm really pleased that I will be going to Harrogate next month as there was a lot to absorb in the short time I was at Ally Pally and it will be good to have another look.  Sadly I don't think the Nancy Crow exhibition will be going there but you can, I think,  see it in Dublin.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

International Quilt Challenge

We have just been sharing on the International Quilt Challenge blog our interpretations of my theme 'Memory'.

This is the not-quite finished memory piece which I have titled 'Bumpsteads'.  I do not normally make pictorial quilts but I have had this piece in my head for a long time so it was good to get it out of there and explore the process.  The fabrics are a combination of commercial fabrics and my sun printed fabric and all the pieces have been bonded.  So far I have only added some hand stitching to describe the grassy edges of the garden and field and I am prevaricating about adding quilting but I will probably have to add some stitching to stop it all falling off.

From the age of 9 to about 17/18 I spent as many of my holidays as I could manage staying with a family friend on their pig farm.  In the garden was a huge pear tree with a tree swing in it and a rather rusty metal seat encircling it.  I spent many happy hours swinging, climbing trees, feeding the pigs, playing with the farm cats and helping to look after and play with the children of the family as they came along.  I have a very strong visual memory of making a picnic in the garden with the daughters of the family to be shared with their dolls and teddies, with the sound and smell of pigs happily grubbing about in the field across the road.  The scene in my mind is flooded with sunlight and my 'Aunt' heavy with her next child.  The children, as with all children, had lost interest in the tea party and gone in search of other entertainment, or maybe for a snooze.

My piece comes from a naive style painting that I made of the remembered scene several years ago when I was painting.

My interpretation has been very literal and I am quite happy with it, although I think I should probably give myself some hair!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Hen Party

I have just had a very exhausting but fabulous weekend with my stepdaughter and her family and friends celebrating her Hen Weekend.  The venue was Goodwood Racecourse in the south of England.  

Before we get to the Races I'll show you the brooches/pins I made for all the racegoers.  (Well, not all the racegoers, just our party!)

Butterflies have a particular significance for Laura and I thought she might like that we all could wear this special symbol.  The brooches are made in a shabby chic style with 3 layers of fabric, a central bead and antennae made from wired beads.  I did start to make them from reverse applique (there's one in the bottom left corner) but I hadn't thought it through and that particular design needs a rethink, although the one I finished I was pleased with and Laura liked it :-)  I think it just needs the cut through shapes to be a little larger so the lower layers can be seen better.

Sunday, race day, dawned beautifully sunny but with a chilly breeze.  

From the viewpoint of the Racecourse you can see out to the coast just a few miles away.

The stands were packed but not as busy as in the Summer I understand.

The excitement of studying the form as the horses parade around the ring.

My beautiful stepdaughter (centre), her about-to-be mother -in-law and a friend enjoying a win.

The 'Tic-Tac' men and their 'Odds'.

An interesting sculpture in front of the Grandstand, sadly I don't know the sculptor.  

I don't suppose I shall ever go to a Racecourse again so this was an enjoyable and interesting experience.  There were some very stylish people around and not a little champagne and Pimms flowing.  Despite being a Hen Party we were very self controlled!  It was lovely to spend time with Laura at such an important time in her life and I can't wait for the wedding in a fortnight!

On the way to Chichester for the festivities I stopped off at the Knitting and Stitching Exhibition in Alexandra Palace.  It was probably a mistake as it added to the weekend's exhaustion but I'll tell you about it next time.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Embroidery Exhibition

You wait for weeks for a blog post and then 2 come along together!  Today I've been down to Art & Stitch in Peterborough to see an exhibition by Peterborough Embroiderers Guild celebrating their 25th birthday.  The exhibition contained a wide variety of work, all of it to a very high standard and very inspiring.  I only had my point and shoot camera with me so my photos area bit fuzzy but I hope they give you an idea of the exhibition.

Er Zullen Altijd Wel Soldaten Zijn (There Will Always be Soldiers) Elaine Harburn.  This moving piece features transferred photos of a family of World War One soldiers embellished with found objects.  I liked the added layer of sheer fabric strips.

Memory Box by Kate Isaacs.  This beautiful box is made of old lace, doillies and fabrics from a scarp box, enhanced wit stitch, all with memories of the past.

This beautiful altered book and the one below is by Lin Oxley.  Fabulous work!

A Warm Glow by Pamela McDonald above started life as a vessel but soon became a lamp.  The following three pieces are also by Pamela and combine to form 'Time Passes'.  You can read about it in more detail on her blog where she also has more images of the exhibition.  Scroll down through a few recent posts so you don't miss anything.  You won't be disappointed.

Above is 'Sylvia's Workbox' also by Pamela McDonald.  I was mesmerised by this beautiful subtly coloured piece.  It is a tribute to a multi-talented friend whose workbox Pamela inherited.  There is so much detail in it you could look at it for hours and not see it all.  It is in a canvas and I think is about 24" square.  What a wonderful way to honour the life of a creative soul.

I think this beautiful altered book above is another by Lin Oxley.  The book is by Catherine Cookson in case you wondered.  All that central detail is pages rolled over on themselves.  The colour is a bit off but hopefully you get the idea.  

Paula Mason made this piece above to celebrate a very busy Summer 2012. 

These 24 pieces arose from a Toltec challenge whereby the same pattern could be interpreted in any materials.  There are some lovely interpretations.

If you live in the Peterborough area there is still time to visit the exhibition which finishes on Sunday 14 October.  There is much more to see than the few glimpses I have shown here and there is the added bonus of shopping in Art & Stitch!