Tuesday, 25 June 2013

.........Will You Still Feed me.........When I'm Sixty-----Five!

Slight paraphrase there of The Beatles.  My DH reached the grand young age of 65 at the weekend and we had a big shindig to celebrate.  Stewart organised most of it himself as he enjoys doing it and we had a great night along with about 80 family and friends.  Entertainment was provided by Steve Carlisle, who was originally a member of Mike Pender's Searchers and by Seabirds, the group DH's son belongs to. 

Instead of accepting presents we requested donations to Alzheimer's Society and we also ran a raffle to raise funds.  In total, together with JustGiving donations online, we have raised £811.39!  I feel very proud of my hubby for all the energy he put into setting up this special evening.

Making some shapes on the dance floor. (Photo courtesy of an internet friend Tom Wigley).

A good crowd and buffet time.

I managed to keep the cake secret from my hubby until he saw it at the party.  No, I didn't become Jane Asher overnight, I had this cake made.  The photo of St Ives is one of DH's and Sharon made the figure from one of my pics of him in action.  

It was lovely to see some internet friends who we had never met in real life until now.  Tom, who lives near Manchester, had been promising to make DH a little knitted something for the last 3 years and we finally met 'Little Stewart' on Saturday night.  Isn't he fabulous?  Needless to say Little Stewart took pride of place all evening.

Funnily enough, when Mum came to spend the day with us today I had left the doll on her chair and when I came in the room Little Stewart had a new admirer!

(Pardon the state of mum's handbag, she is very attached to it and won't let me replace it).

The highlight of the evening for me, apart from seeing my lovely husband enjoying himself, was to have my stepdaughter and her husband come all the way from West Sussex for the party.  

It was wonderful to see them again and to see them both so happy together.  I was doubly delighted that they had come because they had to get up early on Sunday to go straight back home as my stepdaughter's husband had to prepare for an important exam.

My two handsome stepsons completed a great evening and it was lovely to see them both.  If you'd like to see more photos of the evening you can click here to see J's Flickr album.  

We have another birthday coming up at the weekend, Mum will be 88, but I don't think it will be quite such a hectic affair.  Phew!  I'm still recovering!

Monday, 17 June 2013


I am still battling with my two projects but had a good afternoon on Friday with the Horizons piece and have got about a third of it stitched together.  The hardest part, filling in some of the gaps, is still to come.  I had hoped to have a day at Stichcraft tomorrow but they are fully booked so I am going to have to work from home and use the bed as a design wall as I don't have anywhere else with enough drop to work on it.

Yesterday we had Mum here, which was lovely and, as she chooses to sit on a dining chair at the care home, I thought it was high time I made her a cushion for her back.  Of course, the home have given her a cushion but everytime I go to see her, said cushion has walked to someone else's chair.  I thought it would be best if I could make a cushion with ties on so that there is less chance of it being whipped off.

Isn't this fabric gorgeous?  I just love it!  I've got just enough left to make myself a bag :-)  The bows are the ties that I hope will deter any cushion-lifters!

And just to be sure I've appliqued Mum's name on the reverse so there won't be any doubt whose cushion it is.  Here's hoping it will work.

If you look closely you will see that the lovely flowery fabric makes several appearances in my quilt for Festival of Quilts, masquerading as the sea.  I've spent some time today joining some of the blocks together and after many changes I am on the way to finalising the design.

Every time I see the quilt in a photo and think I have finished rearranging I notice something else that jars slightly.  Naturally it changes each time I sew block or a row together and adding quilting will change it yet again but I am happy :-)  In fact, I want to make it bigger!  

Wish me luck for the rest of the week.  Deadlines are rapidly approaching!  (Not to mention a big birthday for someone at the end of the week - not me I hasten to add). 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Ones That (nearly) Got Away!

I've managed to catch up with the two ladies who hadn't resolved their curved piecing samples last week and can now show you how they did.  But first of all Lindsey has finished hers off and added some embroidery.

The stitching has really set it off.

Carol is the least experienced of the group in terms of machine stitching but has made a wonderful effort with her piece inspired by a Yorkshire garden.  She has added a satin stitch border and some hand stitching too and may add a little more.  She is now raring to start working on her interpretation of a favourite view in the Yorkshire Dales.  

I'm hoping I've put this piece the right way up.  Jane is primarily an embroiderer and her piece is very much a work in progress.  She has used some wonderful textured fabrics to describe the light on the water in her garden pond and I know this will be beautifully finished with embroidery and beads.  I can't wait to see how it progresses.

At the weekend DH and I took ourselves off to Patchings Art Festival which was celebrating its 20th anniversary.  I can remember going to the very first event which was exciting in itself but on a much smaller scale.  These days it's a big affair with around 200 crafts and art producers taking part.   Temptation was on all sides but I did manage to resist buying any art materials.  However, I was unable to resist buying this handsome chap.

I have been wanting a Green Man for the garden for a long time but have never found one that I really liked.  This gentleman really appealled to me and the oak leaves up his nose reminded me of my late husband and a trick he had with dandelions (don't ask!).  It made me smile so I had to bring him home.   Looking at the photo he looks a bit stary eyed but I don't get that feeling in reality.  We bought him from Caroline Lee Ceramics and I was quite tempted by their Green Ladies too.  My DH has fixed him on the front of my studio so he can look after it for me while I'm out.  

We also bought a bird for the garden from Gavin Darby who makes new work from recycled metal.  

Birdie stands about a foot tall and I can't wait to wrap some silk round all that rustiness!  I'm going to look out some metal pieces that I've got in my studio to pass on to Gavin as they have been languishing in there for a couple of years and aren't suitable to use for rust dyeing.  *Note to self - get out there and find the stuff!!!

I've been busy with my Horizons piece this week and have managed to start stitching some of the blocks together.

This is it laid out at Stitchcraft on Wednesday and I still need to fill in some of the gaps.  I am planning to have a day at Stitchcraft again next week when I hope to get the bulk of it stitched together.  I still have to make  20cm square sample (yes, I should have made that first but I made some mistakes so parts of the sample are now in the main piece), write an artist's statement, add a hanging sleeve and label and get it sent off to arrive by the deadline.  No pressure then!

My quilt for the main Festival of Quilts competition is coming along and is currently resting on my improvised design wall waiting to be stitched together.  Fingers crossed I will get there.  It has gone through several incarnations but I think I am nearly there. 

I just need to piece it all together, layer and quilt, add a binding, add the sleeve and a label, parcel it all up and send it off to arrive by 26 July.  That wouldn't be so bad if we weren't going on holiday before then.  Eeek!

Friday, 7 June 2013

First Time for Everything!

I have been a bit on edge this week as I watched Friday slowly, or should I say, rapidly, approaching.  The reason for my angst was that the lovely ladies who run Stitchcraft Studio had encouraged me to teach (!) a 'Fun Friday' session.  Gulp! 

The subject of the session was 'Topstitched Curved Piecing' which you'll know I have used regularly in my seascaped themed pieces.  I spent a lot of time preparing and making both samples and finished pieces and I'm pleased to say my little group understood my instructions and made some great little samples.  Sadly I only managed to get photos of 4 of the completed pieces but I will be seeing the other girls soon so I'll photograph their work next time I see them.

This beautiful muted sample is Annette's work.  She has made lovely use of the fabrics she had chosen and used both the right and reverse sides of the fabrics to give her a wider range of tones.   Annette's planning to make some table runners now she has learned the technique.

Christine, one of the owners of Stitchcraft Studio, worked with the beautiful batiks above and took a leaf out of Lindsay's book (below, the last piece) and inserted part curves.

Isn't Kathryn's impression of Mallorca above fabulous?  She wants to make a larger piece to remind herself of all the beautiful colours in the landscape and the sea of her favourite holiday destination.
Lindsay inspired her too to make part curves and they add interest to the piece.  Kathryn is the other owner of Stitchcraft.

Last, but not least, Lindsay completed the piece above with its lovely calm colour scheme.  As you can see Lindsay was keen to include a partial curve to suggest a distant hill. 

Despite being nervous about doing the class I had a lovely time and enjoyed the feedback from everyone which thankfully was positive.  Phew!  I've even volunteered to do 'Curved Piecing Part Deux'!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Beautiful Cumbria

The days seem to be whizzing by, not least because I have now committed myself to making two quilts for Festival of Quilts.  I am obviously bonkers and need my bumps felt but, hey ho, a challenge is a challenge, right?

My original piece for the Horizon 'challenge' is simmering.  I made a start on a sampler piece last week at Sit & Stitch and made some mistakes so that was useful.  I think it's going to be a bit of a slow job deciding where all the pieces should fit so fingers are still crossed for completion by the end of the month.  In the meantime I  signed up online for the actual competition part of Festival of Quilts even though I hadn't at that point decided on a design, title, method or materials (all of which have to be put on the entry form).  Anyway, realising that the Horizon quilt is an option and the Festival quilt is now a requirement I've diverted into making a start on that.

When I posted this photo on Facebook this afternoon a friend said it looked very organised but it feels more like chaos to me.  Surprisingly, though, I do have a clearish idea of where I am going with this and unsurprisingly it will be about the sea.  I have had Rayna Gillman's book, "Create Your Own Free Form Quilts" for some time and have been wanting to have a go so I have spent yesterday and part of today making strippy blocks.  

I've made myself a makeshift design wall by covering two canvases with low-loft wadding and when DH finds some clamps he's put somewhere safe I will be able to make them a bit more robust.  So far I've been making up blocks of dark, midrange and light value but this evening I started the exciting part of cutting things up and inserting some contrasting colours.  I havn't a clue how this will turn out but so far I'm haing fun and i's even possible I might get it done in time.

So, why did I title this post 'Beautiful Cumbria'?  Over the Bank Holiday weekend DH and I had a little trip (another one?!) up to Cumbria to attend Ireby Festival again.  We were blessed with better weather than last year and had managed to get a Bed & Breakfast in the village so we were able to go back and have a rest when we wanted (being terrible light weights) and actually managed to see all of the Saturday evening performances.  

Ireby is in a beautiful part of the country and we had a lovely walk on the Sunday to the neighbouring village to listen to Luke Jackson do an acoustic set at Mae's Tearoom.

 This young man is only 18 years old and has been performing since the age of 14.  He writes all his own words and music and his music is individual and powerful.

Backtracking to the actual festival, we saw a great variety of acts throughout the weekend  and our favourites were The Paperboys, a Canadian group who stormed through a lively set on Friday night,

The young lady playing the violin in the clip had been replaced by another in the Ireby set.

Another favourite of the weekend was a young duo Gregg Russell & Ciaran Algar who played two sets, one in support of the headline act on Saturday, Seth Lakeman!

Did I say Seth Lakeman?  Oh yes, he was top of the bill on Saturday.  Ace photographer, DH, cornered the poor man at the coffee van and asked if he would mind him taking his photograph.  

As you can see he obliged.  If you havn't heard of Seth Lakeman you might recognise his piece 'Kitty Jay' that was on the tv quite a lot when it came out.

Seth is a Cornishman so we're almost related! ;-)  His set was loud and very lively and by the end he had everyone on their feet, including us and I was leaping about with the best of them.  Thank goodness though it was only for the last 3 or 4 numbers or I might not have been here to tell the tale!

 Not Seth Lakeman but a group called Ahab.

We were treated to a full moon while we were away and my failed shot through the bedroom window has actually given me a lovely texture image for future work. 

This beautiful church stands about a mile outside Ireby and has the most beautiful victorian gravestones. 

How beautiful is this?  The mountain in the background is Skiddaw.  Before you ask, no, we didn't climb it ;-) A three mile walk to Uldale and back on Sunday was more than enough for us!