Thursday, August 30, 2007

Design wall

With all my travels I forgot to show you the design wall that was the final part of my dining room-to-studio- project. It was another collaboration with Dad - I specified, he re-designed, he built, he drove it down on his trailer on a special trip after we discovered it was too big for either of our cars (and we don't drive Fiat Puntos!) and I paid for it!

This is the back view of it in his garage. I will photo it in situ soon.

It is foam board in a pine frame, made in two panels each 6 feet by 2.5 feet. The panels bolt togther to give a larger work space but unbolt for easier carrying out to the garage where it will live in storage when not in use. ( In theory - so far it hasn't left the house!) It is covered with needlepunch wadding stapled to the frame.
It has a tiny little red spot on it which I assumed was a bug that met its end in a kamikazi dive into the board. Turned out Dad got a bit close to the staple gun.....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blog alteration

Quick note - I have altered this bog so that you don't need a google account to comment. I returned home to find a new reader had found the blog, was reading it all the way through and had bothered to send me email comments on it all because she couldn't do it on the blog, not having a google account for her own. (Julie, you are wonderful!) I hadn't realised that I had excluded anyone that way. So, if you have previously been excluded from commenting (a) I am sorry and (b) come on in, all (non - spammers) are welcome!

Back from Tunisia

Ok, call me stupid but I have just returned from Tunisia and, when I booked, I actually believed the average weather charts which said it would be around 34 degrees. It was in fact around 44 - 45 degrees which for me is way too hot to do anything than lie in the shade or dip in the pool. In fact by mid afternoon it was too hot even for that. Fortunately it turned out that in the air-conditioned lounge there was a quilting demonstration each day........
.... so you have no design wall - why not trail threads over someone else's sofa back?! There was one woman from Stafford who kept sidling past having a good look and who is now on her way to her local craft shop because she now knows what to do with the FQ's she kept looking at ('such lovely colours'). The waiters are still trying to figure out what I was doing with a towel and a travel iron on their glass coffee table. And of course, once I got on a roll, I couldn't stop.. here I am at Monsatir airport...

... and again at baggage reclaim in Manchester on a Christmas quilt by now because the flying geese top (sans borders which still need to be bought) got finished on the plane!Because we had booked leg room seats, I had to put my box up in the overhead compartment for landing, but kept some squares and my needle and thread down. For those who constantly ask me how I manage to get so much done I can tell you that one can handsew five and a half seven inch fourpatches in the time between the seat belt signs going on and the plane arriving on stand!

This is a picture of a picture on the landing of our hotel ....( really I told you we did nothing sensible you could take pictures off! Ok we went to the Marina a few times to eat but it was too dark then for piccies!)... because even Dennis said it would make a good quilt. ( I think he is getting the quilting equivalent of Stockholm syndrome).

One final tale - we were in the swimming pool and we over heard some rather small but loud south ('sarth') Londonders trying to work out what 4 feet nine was in meters, presumably in relation to the pool depth markings. Dennis and I just looked at each other becuase (a) he is Mr Calculator Head and is known for blurting out impossible calculations at will without even realising he has done it and (b) because I am a mental arthimatic dunce.

"No, come on," he said, "Even you can do that now. That's a quilting calcualtion. Go on, try."

Now bear in mind that in order to do anything in my head I have to do Carol Vordeman like contortions and break it down into easy stages (Countdown - its a TV programme you don't mind missing if you are not British and don't get that reference!)

So I go, "OK. there's thirty nine inches in a meter. Twelve inches are a foot, so three feet is a meter plus cutting space. So six feet is two meters and that's loads more than four feet nine so the answer is two meters, that's plenty."

I think Dennis finally understands how every time I make a quilt my stash actually grows a bit!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Kaffe Fassett class

When I got the programme for the Festival of Quilts it seemed a natural choice to do a colour workshop with Kaffe Fasset given that I love to work with a whole range of colours.... as long as they are copper, gold, ochre, beige, sand, rust....! Ok. Brown. There is nothing wrong with brown. But I confess to looking at Kaffe's fabrics and hating them but loving his quilts. So, wanting to understand how to get from one to t'other, and be brave enought to have a go, I signed up.

It was a day class based on his Frothy Quilt which was in one of his older books and reappears in his new book Quilts in the Sun. We were told to collect 25 fabrics in 1/4 0r 1/2 meter pieces in two complementary colourways in differing intensities and that we could cut into the required half square triangles before hand to save some time.

So, I was a bit bemused as to how it could take a day to teach us how to assemble tringales. Esecially as we were not even sewing them, just pinning then to a portable design wall ( flannel sheet) to take home. But all became clear.

Firstly it does actually take a long time to pin all those bits to a sheet! However, the class is not about patchwork technique ( although Rowan pattern writer Pauline Smith was on hand for those who needed help with technicalities). It was about colour.

Once we had got some fabric up - as in the picture above- in any order but following the light and dark pattern placement, Kaffe started to prowl and give advice. I found him contemplative, gentle and respectiful in his advice but definate at the same time. When my first pieces were up I stepped back to look at it and he joined me and asked what I saw and what I liked. His advice was that I needed to deepen the colours from my pinks and cobalts - the prints were different but the tones all a bit samey. He suggested taking the blues to purples and the pinks more to the orange of which I already had a flash and had said I liked. When he suggested more vibrant pink I laughed and said that compared to brown I thought my pink was exceedingly bright and he said 'Oh no, I'm talking Barbara Cartland's dresses pink." You can see two sample pieces from Pauline's scrap stash pinned up to the photo above as we experimented a bit with his ideas.

At that stage I got to go shopping with Kaffe down at the Cotton Patch stall in the festival hall proper and I began to add in the five new fabrics I picked. ( I did really pick them - he approved them!) I think you can see from this photo the difference it makes.

After lunch we worked some more and then Kaffe went around the class giving a 'crit' about each quilt - his response to the colours ... here he is saying that mine is ' rich and passionate'!....He was very positive about each quilt and I began to wonder if he could genuinely like every quilt and find only good in it. But then he came to one which was in oranges and greens. He said that this was an example of one that didn't work and that he had been arguing with the maker about it all day but she liked it as it was which was fine. However, he said that he would add in more colours and tones as, although hers was orange and green, it was flat and reading as if it might as well have been black and white. He held just one triangle of pink up against it and the whole class ( except the maker) ooohed and ahhed!

The class cost £65 which I think was expensive but I certainly don't berudge it. I did not get a whole ream of notes as I once did in a Dawn Cameron Dick class - the lessons learned were much more subtle and mostly by doing and being nudged rather than being lectured to. The main lesson I learned was to take my colours a little further round and deeper into the colour wheel than I am used to. It was also interesting to see how the same pattern came out in other people's fabrics - you can see some works in progress above and below..

My lesson was in adding colour - for other people it was taking it out and being willing to cut a little, stick it up on the board fast ( Kaffe's exact words were ' just run it up the bloody flag pole' )so you can see how it works and if necessary scrap it and go to something else.

I have been assembling the blocks today but am now so tired I have starte dto rotate the bocks as I sew which is my warning sign to stop. When eth borders are on I'll show you finished product. But, however it tuirns out I have proof that it has been touched by the master...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Festival of quilts part 1

I am back home after a fantastic four days in a steel hangar in Birmingham. It is too late to blog in detail - tomorrow if you come back I will tell you all about what it was like to do a class with Kaffe Fassett. For now let me just show you what a few books, a CD, several notions and 62.5 folded meters of fabric looks like. (In my defence just before I went to Festival I got my very first commssion. The lady who bought my Leaf Peeper quilt wants the same quilt pattern but in different colours so the very muted tones at the back are for her not my stash!) ......Granted there is a lot of fabrics for my stash, some of which will probably justify their own pictures in due course. But I mean, there is a full three weeks until the next quilt show and I am away for one of those in Tunisia.....wouldn't it be dreadful if I ran out in the meantine ? :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Festival of quilts

Just to let you know that blog silence is due to the fact that I am at Festival of Quilts for 4 days. I can only blog becuase my friend Lesley and I were discontent with our solid days of quilty stuff and so sprung for the wifi fee so that we could watch The Quilt show online in your room this evening! I have been shopping from Britain (some would say shopping with the GDP of Britain) and photos will follow on my return home.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Paris - part 2

You know your husband loves you when you go to Paris and....

1. He doesn't mind going to the Musee D'Orsay all by hisself becuase you are more interested in seeing the potential quilting designs - I mean, African, Aboriginal and Oceanic art, at the Quay Branly. No photos are allowed in there but this is a picture of the reflection of the museum's panels in the windows of a nearby apartment block.

2. When he finds he can't get into the Musee D'Orsay because there is a two hour queue and it is now two hours before closing he goes instead to Brentano's American bookshop on Avenue L'Opera near the hotel. When he spies a handwritten sign saying that they have a new patchwork room he not only follows the sign but tells you about it on your later return to the hotel. Then, he comes with you to sit while you browse for an hour or so. (They have a very good collection of English specialist books together with some Japanese and a handful of French and German. Also knitting and crochet.)

3. He agrees to translate from French the five back copies of Quiltmania magazine you find on sale there. (I shall be subscribing as I was impressed with the quality of the magazine - it is also available in English, much to his relief.)

4. When, at eleven thirty on the last night you are reading the ads in the said magazine and squeal 'I've found another one' he asks what and doesn't visibly flinch when you say "Quilt shop of course!". He allows you to rearrange your last day's plans, comes with you, leaves you to browse and goes for an espresso at the bar around the corner and arrives back at the precise time you have chosen fabric and need translation. When you say 'Fabric is expensive here' whilst clutching two fat quarters, he tells you to buy a whole meter of each because you will only regret it when you go home without it.

(La Boutique du patchwork is just a few metro stops away from the tourist center of Paris (Rue Saint-Maur, not far from the cemeterty in which Jim Morrison is buried) and is a very good shop with a wide selection of all kinds of fabric including African which of course delighted me. However, fabric is much more expensive in France than here. Turns out they also sell on line.)

5. He is prepared to accept that 'Lets go to Monmartre today' really means lets get off the Metro at Barbes Rochechouart and wander around the African area in the tipping rain and only once says, "Aren't all these wax fabrics the same ones we looked at in Brixton?". (They were plus many more, but more expensive.)

Lest you think that he had a miserable time let me just say that the little boy inside him was very excited to ride the Noddy train through Montmatre ('toot,toot'). That's him leaning out waving!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Paris - part 1

You know you have OQD (Obsessive Quilting Disorder) when you go to Paris and:

1. The first photo you take is of the ceiling in Manchester Airport terminal 2 because it looks like it could inspire an interesting foundation pieced design.

2. You go and look at the quilt shop near Notre Dame on a day when you know it is not open just to make sure it really is there and your addiction will be fulfilled if you just wait until Tuesday.

3. Even when it is still open you hang about the area for another hour and a half ( well how hard is that when the place is full of patisseries?) because the shop opposite that specialises in Native American books and magazines doesn't open until 2pm but has molas in the window. (And inside as it turns out but I decided I'd rather make one than buy one.)

4. You look at the famous window in Notre Dame cathedral and think: Well that's just a very fancy Dresden plate.

5. You sit in the one cafe at the foot of Sacre Cour that has direct views up to the building and take photos not of the iconic church but of the (closed) arts centre off to the right becuase these banners remind you of the molas you now want to make.

6. You scour all the kiosks by every metro station for a French patchwork magazine (partly because your husband made a jesting, throwaway comment along the lines of, 'I bet they don't have quilting magazines in French' and you wanted to prove him wrong and partly because you haven't seen an English one for four days and you really, really want to see some quilty pictures). Only, when you finally find one you have to put it back because it is a translation of a German magazine you already have.
7. Your husband takes you out for a beautiful Sunday lunch at a swish Montparnasse restaurant and you take photos of the floor.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Fabric mystery solved

Regular readers will remenre the Jinny Beyer fabric saga - the fabric I bought that said English Garden on the selvedge but was actually the Pataognia collection. I have just got this email from the people at the Jinny Beyer shop who have been making enquiries on my behalf:

Dear Helen:
We've found an answer to why the selvage name of the fabric does not reflect all later named collections of the fabric. The selvage on fabrics usually reflects the first name given it by the fabric-making company and is on the printing roll. The expense to re-tool the printing roll for additional colorways, even if in a collection later named by the company is cost prohibitive.We're glad your quilt turned out lovely and was appreciated by the recipients.

Be warned!!

There will now be another blog break as we head to Paris tomorrow for five days. I have the patchwork shop by Notre Dame on the agenda!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Penrith trip

In my blogging absence I have been up in Penrith for three days quilting and a day at Potfest a festival at Hutton in the field. ( as in pot makers not pot smokers!) I will post on the quilting tomorrow when I have more time, but for today, you MUST visit this site to see AMAZING quilty ceramics! My Mum bought the piece that you click on to get into the site. I made the mistake of taking photos of this piece back to Dennis who was languishing on a sick bed, working on the basis that its going on his wall too. When I went back for it with his agreement, it had gone. Grrr. Next time I just buy. However, I am getting a replica specially made. It was a lovely sunny day for once this wet summer and the show was held in opensided marquees in this beautiful setting: