'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Friday 27 June 2008

My challenge quilt is finished - maybe ...

Here is the whole thing. It isn't really uneven, but my temporary quilt hangers are.

A Markal paintstick rubbing with a little stitch

Sheers, and Angelina, impressed with a stamp. The shells were not part of the challenge but seemed to fit in. I used the same colour of Angelina throughout although it doesn’t look like it.

FME on silk paper. This paper is more matt than silk paper usually is because I used silk noils [from a Texere pack, for those who know what that means] and matt gel medium. I also pressed it so it was pretty flat before I added my dodgy FME. This was not done with my new machine!

More sheers and a few sequins. The butterfly fell out a sample packet from Simply Sequins and insisted on joining in. Sorry about the reflection from the flash - this bit is pretty flashy.

Silk paper with added Angelina, fibres and buttons. The buttons were not part of the challenge but I inherited 3 women’s stashes of buttons in addition to my own. Got to use them somewhere.

You can just see the discharging on this section – the wavy lines bottom left. I could tell you that I worked for days producing the complex cloth for the background – but I’d be lying. When I dye I spread some calico [muslin in American] over the table to catch the inevitable drips and spills. I use the same piece until it has plenty of character and then stick it in a bucket with some soda solution and any dyes left over at the end of the session. If it looks too awful it goes back on the table for another circuit. This piece looks as if I practiced printing leaves on it too …

The silk paper was made with cocoon strippings and Angelina. The glue in the cocoon strippings meant I was able to add a little foil without adding any extra glue. And some more buttons. In layers.

None of this section was part of the challenge – apart from the Markal rubbing I didn’t like which is hidden underneath. I think this needs more stitch - possibly beads and French knots, in blue to add more colour.

I really enjoyed doing this hanging, and I have already started the next one, which at the moment is telling me it needs to be crazy quiltish – but who knows how it will end up …

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Tuesday trips - resumed

We got back to our routine yesterday with a visit to ‘Art in the Garden’ at the Hillier Gardens near Romsey. We had been to a small indoor art exhibition there before which had been – how can I put this? – a bit flowery for my taste. But it was a lovely day, so we decided to go. And thoroughly enjoyed it. The art was mostly stunning and mostly beautifully sited.

There were a lot of flowers of course, not all real. This is by ‘Iron Vein' [?].

The gardens are lovely, even if you are not interested in the art, but a bit pricey to get in. There is a good tea shop, which you can get to without going into the gardens.

I took a hundred photos, although we only managed to get half way round before our elderly joints suggested we came home. However the event is on until the autumn, so we will go back at least once to see the rest.

I won’t show you all the photos, but here are some highlights.

As there are occasional references to textiles in this blog, I have to include this one by Susan Bowman, Yes, it is a crochet skirt, set with plaster/polymer.

And a cast glass hat and mittens by Miyuki Kasahara.

These, by Robinson and Wainwright, were perfectly complemented by the wonderful tree they were hanging in.

But my favourites were these by ‘Loco Glass’

and this and her companion by Patricia Volk. I love her contemplative expression.

We couldn't quite afford to buy anything because we had spent up on Sunday, at the Sandown Quilt Show, when Wensleydale bought me my belated birthday present. [You may remember I had a big birthday this year.] The prezzy arrived yesterday.

I used to have a Bernina but the motherboard died and wasn't replaceable. My little Elna is great but I missed the additional bells and whistles of the old Bernie. Well – this one has even more bells and whistles, including the stitch regulator, and I think it is going to take some getting used to. All I managed to d last night was to put the tools away in the tool box, which was a more complex procedure than you might expect as the tool box is like a miniature wardrobe with a place for everything.

I had forgotten how heavy Berninas are – almost as heavy as my third machine – which I don’t think I have shown you before.

This one has no bells or whistles at all – it doesn’t even sew in reverse – but after 100 years + it is still working … which is unlikely to be true of either the Elna or the Bernina!

Sunday 22 June 2008

1.33 FO's

First – the latest baby cardigan. At the moment these are fulfilling my need for more-or-less instant gratification. Yes – I could sew baby clothes – and before Babybel was born I fully intended to – but the local charity shops have beautiful children’s clothes for a lot less than it would cost to make them. [Baby sized Levi’s jacket for £1.99? Hand smocked dress, originally from M&S for £2.99?]

However they don’t seem to have cardigans and as Babybel’s mum finds them useful – cardies will be knitted until I get bored or someone tells me to stop. And the great thing about knitting for babies is that provided you don’t make them too small, they’ll fit sooner or later. I am making them a bit longer than usual though because she’s a looong baby.

The third of an FO [perhaps] is this bit of the hanging. This piece has 6 of the 9 techniques / materials we need to include:

A sheer, foil [which is actually multicoloured] and fibres.


Metal. This is one bit which may not be finished – I think it needs more stitch but I’m not sure what. Any suggestions gratefully received! [The beads are not really that dark.]


And a silk rod which wasn’t one of the requirements but it wanted to join the party.

Saturday 21 June 2008

I have just spent a very enjoyable day

taking a Royal School of Needlework class with Owen Davies, who wrote ‘Embroidered Knot Gardens’ with Gill Holdsworth. Gill was also there as she organises the classes though ‘Embroidery Now’. Of course I forgot to take my copy of the book so I could get it signed.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to go up to Hampton Court to take the class – it was run locally. We were making [surprise, surprise] an embroidered knot garden – and I would be well on the way to finishing it if I hadn’t decided that I don’t like it. No reflection on Owen who is a great teacher and very entertaining. I chose the wrong colours - I am not going to show you what I did, because I dislike the colours so much. Sometimes moving out of your comfort zone is a BAD idea. Other students who used the colours I like produced much nicer pieces. It also confirmed my feeling that, despite the evidence of my box, I prefer more stylised work. Being me I wanted to paint the canvas, and add some beads, and use non-naturalistic colours.

I had been thinking about some embroidery to take with me when we go away next month, so I think I will assemble a kit to reproduce this piece in colours that are more to my taste. I also need to decide what knitting and books I am going to take. Does anyone else spend more time planning the craft supplies to take on holiday than clothes? Fortunately we’re going in the car – it would be much more difficult if we were flying!

Friday 20 June 2008

Am I bored yet?

Wil asked me this when she heard I’d finished C&G – but I have been so busy responding to a challenge she set I haven’t had time to be bored!

Last year I signed up for the challenge, on an internet group which Wil moderates, to make a quilt using a variety of embellishment techniques and materials. Of course after that I did nothing – I had other things on my mind!

Last week I started thinking about it, vaguely. My first idea was to make a series of panels of trees and leaves, using a different tecnique on each panel – as I’ve been into trees and leaves recently.

However when I went to look for green fabric in my stash, I didn’t really have enough toning pieces for what I was planning. Plenty of green you understand – just not the sort of green I wanted. [I know leaves don’t have to be green but I was feeling literal.]

Then, while browsing back issues of ‘Quilting Arts’ in bed, I came across an article by Mary Hettmansperger on her ‘collaged fabric panels’, and was inspired. All the elements I like – a wall hanging, strong verticals, repeated units, abstract design, lots of opportunities to add the necessary embellishments. As a bonus, her technique was reminiscent of Gwen Marston’s ‘Liberated Quilting’ – perhaps the quilting book I turn to most often.

So I accumulated some fabric, discharged some of it [the first of the challenge techniques] and liberated it – this is the finished piece. The glitzy bits are Angelina, another of the techniques.

Then I cut the piece into three. I hope the challenge to make ‘a’ quilt will encompass three quilts!

And then I began to play with the tecniques. This is how it looked this morning [nothing is sewn on yet]. It has been modified a bit because when I sewed the first strip to its backing this afternoon I had to make some adjustments because I had forgotten to allow for the seams …

This isn’t ‘designed’ in a C&G sense – no preliminary design work, no full scale mock up – and probably more enjoyable for that! It has also prompted me to use all sorts of things I had bought and never used – a chunk of metal and some patinating fluid for example.

As Friday is one of the few nights there is anything to watch on the telly I shall spend a relaxing evening hand sewing and listening to Alexei Sayle talking about Liverpool – where I am going for part of my summer holiday. Anyone care to guess why we chose Liverpool this year? There is a bit of a clue in my C&G work, although if you don’t live in the UK you can be forgiven for not knowing.

Tuesday 17 June 2008

I've found it!

You may remember that when I finished the box I said I couldn’t find the second leaf spray I had made to put inside it. This afternoon, when I was looking for something else – I found it. Sewing it into a completed box was harder than sewing it to the base alone would have been – but it is done.

Of course I didn’t find the silk paper I was really looking for …

I have been silent for a few days because on Saturday my computer died. Cheese Major [the techie] came round to leave us his keys for a bit of reverse cat sitting. He printed off the details of his next car [!] and went home to pack, because he and Mrs Cheese Major were going on holiday.

After he left the computer froze, and when I turned it off and turned it on again, as recommended by all the best techies – it wouldn’t boot up.

But the person who usually mends my computer [and who had broken it this time!] was on holiday. So – it turned out - was his substitute, his old mate Baz.

I suppose I could have waited till one or other of them came home but I was beginning to get withdrawal symptoms. So I had to pay someone to repair it. A corrupted something apparently. It seems to be OK now.

So what did I do while I was cut off from the world? Made some books of course, inspired by a couple of articles in an old issue of ‘Fibre and Stitch’. The blue one is made of Evolon, which is one of the many things I had bought and then couldn’t remember what I had bought it for. It is coloured with disperse dye. I tried using a feather as a mask for the front but didn’t like the contrast of the stark white against the blue. However the dye had discharged less where the feather had been than in the background so when I transferred it again I got a darker feather shape against a paler background.

The spine is made of sequin waste. The pages are held together with hinges of Indian paper but I think this would make a very good cover for a book on a concertina hinge.

The green one has a multilayer cover – brown paper, Markal paintsticks and glitter paint, painted Bondaweb, skeleton leaves, snippets of fabric and thread and a final layer of organza. I made it bigger than the instructions suggested as I couldn’t bear to cut the covers smaller.

But by then I had made the pages for a smaller book so the little one is a quick version made with more Indian paper.

And finally – a quick make for Babybel’s nursery. I spotted this panel in Hobbycraft and had to have it. Babybel already has a quilt and a cushion made with this range of fabrics, but as her co-grandparents have a Border collie [Skye, a.k.a. Ronaldo] I thought her mum needed another cushion to rest her back against.

It is nothing fancy, although in the spirit of C&G I did put some decoration on the back. Made it difficult to know where to put the buttons though!

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a panel with a cocker spaniel on it, so Babybel’s own dog may sulk …

Friday 13 June 2008

it's official!

I have completed C&G!

I took the box and the book of the box in on Thursday night and everything was signed off.

To prove it here is the box:

And here is the book of the box. This time the book was going to be very simple – just a pamphlet – but you may be surprised to see that it got a bit more complex than that. I decided that a stick binding was appropriate for work inspired [a long time ago] by a forest

My sewing machine seems to like putting things in plastic pockets!

Just the exhibition at the start of next month and it will all be over.

I feel rather odd – not really celebratory. it’s the first time in four years I have not had a deadline hanging over me. To some extent I feel relieved – but I know I will miss the companionship and the discipline of the classes.

I suppose that now I can tackle all the things I have been postponing because I had college work to do – if I can only remember what they are!

I have done my usual post-piece completion tidy up so the floor of my work room is visible again, apart from the pile of magazines and books with pages marked. And I have an idea for a canvas work piece based on a carved wooden chest I photographed while we were away. And I am half way through another baby cardigan.

So I don’t think I will be sitting idly in the sunshine any time soon.

Wednesday 11 June 2008

This week's Tuesday trip

was postponed until Wednesday, as Wensleydale had a meeting on Tuesday and our friends and co-grandparents R & S had suggested a trip to the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth today.

The Spinnaker Tower is one of those places which we had said we ought to visit but probably would never have got round to. When Wensleydale worked in Portsmouth he could see it from his office window and watch its progress as it was being built.

We enjoyed the trip – it was a lovely day and the '350 degree' views are as spectacular as we expected. Why did they leave out the remaining 10 degrees? I have my suspicions and if you know Portsmouth you may be able to guess which bits you can't see...

The brave ones amongst us walked over the ‘largest glass floor in Europe’ – and Wensleydale and I didn’t … This is the view down through the glass floor. Of course the few small children who were there walked over it quite happily!

The lift whisks you up to the first floor very quickly so you get no real idea of how high up you are Рtill you notice the seagulls flying below you and the ferries which, to coin a clich̩, look like toys. These are the Fastcats to the Isle of Wight from 100m up:

And this is one at sea level.

The tower is probably of most interest to locals who know what they are looking at – but you do get views of HMS Victory, which is rather more famous than Wensleydale’s former place of employment - the curved building in the centre.

Saturday 7 June 2008

It's not really finished.

This is just a cleverly posed photograph, like those ones in dodgy travel brochures that don’t show you the bits of the hotel that aren’t built yet.

However the box has been approved -good job really as I definitely don’t have time to start again!

The teacher made one suggestion, the addition of a machine cord [like the stems of the leaf spray] round the base of the box. You can just about see it here.

I had been thinking that the sides looked a bit unfinished, and the cord solves that problem. It also hides the dodgy sewing joining the sides and the base. Even using a curved needle didn't help much.

It dawned on me part way round that if I had used the same thread I had used to wrap the machine cord to sew it on with – the join would have been invisible. [I had deliberately chosen a different thread, as I wanted it to show.]

The unfinished bit that you can’t see is the lining. I’ve started on it today, but got a bit frustrated because I cut the lining base card about 1/8th of an inch too small, thinking the felt padding would fill the gap. And it didn’t. So I shall have to take the lining fabric off and stretch it over a bigger piece of card.

[Apologies to at least one of my readers who doesn't do imperial measurements. that's about 0.5 cm - but I was using my imperial quilting rulers.]

The other irritating thing is that I made a second leaf spray to go inside the box, and I can’t find it. We even pulled out my desk from the wall to see if it had dropped down behind – something which should only be done with an archaeologist and a paramedic in attendance. But it wasn’t there. It has probably gone to join the bonding powder I lost part way through the metre piece.

It will be even more infuriating when it turns up a week after the college exhibition…

Finally, for her fan club - a picture of Babybel demonstrating how to sit up and take notice, courtesy of her dad.

Tuesday 3 June 2008

I've been playing

with my embellisher. As I have finished the outer part of the box, I have taken time off to catch up on an on-line course I signed up for – this one:


It has been very enjoyable just to work through a series of samples with no time pressure and no need to design anything!

I decided to use colours I don’t much like for my samples [orange and yellow] – but ended up with some pieces I really like – including this one. [Sorry about the reflection.]

That got me going on landscapes. This one is Colinette ‘Point Five’ needled together [an idea from Myfanwy Hart’s book on the embellisher]. It is interesting from the other side as well. It needs some stitch but I am not sure which side I like best, so I am waiting while I think about it.

Coincidentally there is an article by Carol Benson in the current ‘Workshop on the Web’ about monochrome abstract landscapes, so I had a go at one of those too, but using the embellisher rather than silk paper. There was a stage when I hated this but adding more wool tops improved it. I didn’t have any black tops, only a very dark green, but I think that works. The splodgy bits are silk noil from a Texere back. They shrivel up under the embellisher and contrast well with the tops. That blob in the centre is not meant to be there and will be corrected!

When I first started I didn’t like the way the embellisher distorts the base fabric, but on these pieces I like the wavy edges – after all hand made wool felt has wavy edges. [These are all done on cheapo synthetic felt from Hobbycraft.]

There is another one but that is going to be a postcard for a swap so I will not reveal it until its recipient has seen it!

I also did some monoprints. These are an idea from a very old copy of ‘Classic Stitches’ magazine. [Does anyone else like to browse through old magazines in bed?] The magazine suggested using stitches like French knots, seeding or detached chain on these but I think I may play around with FME, or quilt them. I suspect they may become notebooks covers …

No Tuesday trip this week - except to Hobbycraft - as we have had typical June weather- i.e. a cold monsoon!