Monday, December 31, 2007

5 things acquired and 5 things made

I may have been lazy on the blogging front since Boxing Day but things have been a bit more active on the quiting front with things being acquired and things being made ... and look! I photographed most of them for your delectation and delight:

Things acquired:

Firstly, there were a few Christmas presents I forgot ( inexcusably - sorry, Dennis!) to tell you about.
1. Membership to the American Quilting Society. Sounds daft when I am in the UK but at the current exchange rate its worth it for the magazine alone.
2. My entry fees paid to all the UK quilt shows I go to in 2008. ( Den's logic being that I can then afford more fabric when I get in there!)
3. This mug from my sister who is very cheeky, but accurate in her assessment of me.
4. This bag which I mentioned last post but forgot to insert the photo ( and you were all either too polite or too bored to mention it.)
then not a Christmas present but still good...
5. A whole load ( I mean a whole load!!) of thread ordered on line today becuase I am stuck on several projects without it. Don't you just love shopping when the shop is actually shut?!
Things made
1. I had my first attempt at handdyeing two days ago which was fun as I had to do it in the garage. The water source however was an outside tap between that and the kitchen which in turn was the source for the room temperature water. And of course it was chucking it down so I got as wet as the fabric running in and out. I have been denying my father's admonishments that we need a new garage door, but it won't stay up in high winds and I was in danger of being locked in there until I wedged it half open with the wheelie bin leaving me to double up to carry buckets and trays out in the gales. Did you ever wonder why artists in Victorian novels were always dying of consumption.......?
I did a rainbow of 12 FQ's using instructions from this blog which has very clear and full instructions. Then I did a gradation of greens. Then I made soups out of the left over dyes at random and just dunked FQ's in to get surprise colours.
I was aiming for mottled but got a bit more mottled than I intended on some but still, I like the effects.
One problem I had was that I knew from communicating in advance with the owner of this site was that the dyes need a certain temperature to react which believe me was not going to happen in my garage at this time of the year. Eventually I wrapped the FQ's in plastic bags in a plastic box in a plastic sack and carried them upstairs , put the on a towel in the study and shut them up in there with a blow heater for hours. But as the process was going on I carted the beer cups of dyes/ FQ's on a tray into the kitchen put them on the ( turned off) gas ring and left the oven on with the oven door open. I am thinking that this is not a very environmentally friendly process, but it seems to have had some success although my colours are still not as vibrant as those handyes I have bought.
2. I have done some work on the Water quilt - this panel is complete and half of its identical twin is done. Plus the background for the panel that separates them is done - this will soon have african ladies carrying water on their heads appliqued onto it.

3. This as yet untitled quilt top. As I was making the blocks they seemed to me to be reminiscent of animals hiding behind trees. Over the day it was definately telling me that it needed a lush, appliqued jungle border so a full size pattern has been drafted and templates will be done tomorrow - applique however requires the threads ( well some of them!) referred to above. The border on the left is wider to accommodate a giraffe!4 This little bit of silliness created just to have somthing to sample threads ( yeah, the rest of the order!) on partly for my learning process and partly for my City and Guilds5. Much designing and auditioning fabrics for my next twelveby12 project - the design is now ready to be cut and stitched tommorrow......but I'm sorry, that's embargoed!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Christmas In Photos

My parents came down - slept at my sisters but came round to us for Chritsmas Day and Boxing Day as Jen was on nights so needed a quiet house to sleep in. As you can see, Dad decided to go out in support of her just after Christmas Lunch.
I must have been a good girl this year as Santa came and brought lot of goodies including a MP4 with massive storage and on the quilting side, bubblejet equipment so I can do more photo quilts, 61/2 metres of fabric including these from Magie Relphand these storage boxes from my quilting buddy Lesley.And this bag which is not exactly quiting related ( except it is big enough for me to smuggle a quilt book to work in!) but has to be shown anyway. It was a free with Elizabeth Arden gift but it was the bag I coveted so Mum bought me loads of products to get it for me.... much more expensive cosmetics than I would normally spring for!

Home made meringues and cream horns ( with jam inside) are a family Christmas tradition

Today ( Boxing Day) we decided to blow away the cobwebs and use the National Trust membership I gave Dennis to visit the red squirrel reserve at Formby. Trouble is, there were no squirrels to be seen. Lots of trees...
but no squirrels until at the last minute .. look what skipped out of the forest.
It is hard to take a day off from quilting - don't these tyre tracks in the sand nearby make good quiting lines?

We then had an inspired idea - let's go down the coast a bit to see Anthony Gormley's Another Place - his 100 life size sculptures set on the beach. The trouble is they get submerged at hight tide and guess what... yup.. VERY high tide!

Oh well, we just had to go home to finish the meringues and cream horns and carrot cake and sticky toffee pudding and mince pies and brandy snaps and Lebenkuchen and.... OINK!

Hope you are having a good time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How I get so many quilts done

Jennifer ( who has the best ever titled blog by the way) left a comment on my last post saying she was impressed by my abilty to get quilts done quickly. Several other people have said the same to me recently so let me dis-abuse you. This is how it is done:

I do not....

1. Clean my house iron my clothes or wash up dishes.
No, my house is not a midden ( well the sewing area can get a little middenish I suppose) - I have a fantastic cleaner Pam, who cleans, admires quilts, and finds lost things. Dennis will not let me wash up dishes because I do it so badly... that one worked then :)

2. Have children to look after
I do have a nephew who is now 10 who lives in N Ireland. I saw him last Saturday evening. I had a deep and meaningful conversation with him about his new step-family and how he was getting on in his education. After that five minutes I lay on the floor with him to play Playstation ( I am rubbish, but then he won't tell me the rules) and then had a pillow fight. I won because he is only 10 and so he (a) didn't work out that if he took the little 15" cushion and I had the actual sofa seat cushion he had no chance and (b) when he turned out to be quite nifty with that little cushion I just hit harder and then sat on him. This is why I am not allowed kids. I think it is called child abuse.

3. Watch soap operas, Pop idol, X-factor, Big Brother or the like.

4. Bother too much about perfection.
Its the overall effect that counts. After all, if you found out that George Clooney had an appendectomy scar would it make any diference at all? Apart from you needing to strip him to find out if it was true, I mean.

5. Mark quilts to quilt or hand quilt.
Bung it under the machine and scribble all over it ( call it free motion if you will) . Quick quick quick! Or tie them. Ten inches apart.

I do...

1. Make the most of every moment. I was laughed at at my quiting group in Penrith last month for being at the cutting table with my coat still on ten minutes before class actually started. In my defence (a) It was snowing outside and it was only a little coat (b) I knew that once class started Mrs X would need the table for her Baltimore

2. Have an attenion span of a gnat
Mrs X has been working on her Baltimore for the whole 2 years I have been in the class. It is exquisite but it is all she works on and frankly I am bored to death just watching her work on it. I make quilts quickly because I make quick quilts!

3. Watch property programmes.
We call them hotel TV in our house - stuff that I like to watch in a hotel to stop be being lonley even if its not the most stunning TV. Only I got addicted. I like the propery renovation- to-sell ones in particular. When the participants lose tons of cash I can sit on my sofa feeling very clever that I was so risk averse I would never do that. And when they make £100,000 on one house I can be glad for them knowing I'd rather be safe and lazy on my sofa than take such a risk!

4. Do two things at once.
I can piece and travel. I tie quilts and sit on my sofa feeing smug at others' misfortunes. I can I can design in my head and do pretty much anything. Except watch George Clooney. That deserves ultimate concentration. I frequently pull out a basket of fabric and place it on the floor next to me to admire as I sit to dry my hair. By the time my hair is dried I can have it spread all out around me with new combinations inspiring me. ( I am not so good at picking it up again.)We even now have a new recordable DVD so I can record said property programmes and watch through my laptop while I sew. Dennis is happy! May be I should get voice activation software so I can blog and sew at the same time....


Monday, December 17, 2007

Showing off

It is the time of year for completing things. Excuse the wonkiness - it is my photgraphy not the quilts. I have no where in the house that I can get really good flat shots.

My first commssioned quilt 'Green Gables' went off to its customer, Ann today. (Half green log cabins.... Ann....get it?!)
The front:

The back:

The label (showing the quilt this customer bought from me at a show):

and some details of the quilting done by Chris Marriage at Father's Heart Quilting.

These colurs are so not me - Ann's choice - but I have left overs so I shall have to challenge myself to use them up! (Maybe I could dye them brown?!)

Some days ago I also finished the Christmas quilt:

(stashbusters note - all from stash save the outer fabric and the rick rack!)

It is quilted through fleece, with free motion stars as you can see on this one.
Then, almost finished - just needs binding and label, is this one for my sister. She is in fact 34 but really wanted a Paddington quilt so why not? Her love of bears continues on the back. Its her Christmas present ( along with some bits and bobs including a kitchen bulldog clip with a picture of a an elephant on it that makes elephant sounds when you press it. Kitch in the extreme but she loves elephants as much as bears so it should at least get a laugh!)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Advent present - kuba cloth

I don't actually own any kuba cloth but I will at some point, I think have to treat myself, to a piece. I'd like to frame one and hang it over my sofa. I love the complexity of the geometric patterns and the simplicity of the monochromatic colour scheme combined. So, whilst I am choosing my favourite I'll let you pick one too as your present for today. there are several sites selling the raffia woven cloths from central africa but I have chosen this site for you to shop in as I discovered them this weekend after they emailed me - possibly in reponse to my fairtrade post recently. Let me know which number cloth is your favourite.... Dennis says, "Well I don't hate them but they don't do anything for me so if you like them then yes, get one." That's all the endorsement I need so I shall be checking the size then buying me a little present, I think, whilst the dollar rate is still so good. (For me I mean - stop yelling at me all you US people who want to come to Europe!)

I am also quite taken with these Rwandan peace baskets.

PS Thank you to the Liverpool reader who left a comment telling me where the Christmas market was - I was close ( by the Met Quarter on my way back to Vernon Street) but never actually went to the right square! Oh well.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yesterday I found that I had some unexpected spare time mid-afternoon as my court list had 'collapsed' so I trotted off into a freezing cold Liverpool city center to see the Christmas markets I had seen signposted on the way in. Turned out there weren't any - or at least not where I though they were, so I ended up in a warm WH Smiths looking at Quilt magazines, a fairly pointless activity as I have all the ones I like on subscription.

However, I fell into conversation with another browser who turned out to be Margaret Nolan of Southport quilters and she alterted me to the fact that they now have their own website. The site has lots of photos from the 2006 show they put on ( it is a bi-annual show) and as this was the first time I had actually seen any quilts in real lfe - although by then I had been quilting for about 5 months - I was delighted to see them all again.

I was also pleased to hear that Margaret was looking for the latest edition of British patchwork and quilting as my article on designing with shape is in this edition.

( I am sure that was not the reason she was looking for it!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Here is the promised photo of the quilt I made over the weekend, modelled by Dennis who has been banished to the bedroom to watch football and is now snuggled under it.

I think he likes the back more than the front!

But my story is about another quilt....

I am not normally prone to publicising details of my own embarassment on line but I will make an exception today in the hopes that some other beginning quilter will learn fom my lessons. I have just sent a quilt top to a long arm quilter. On that top I applied two tips both given to me by established quilters ( one a teacher). First, use Soft Touch for construction thread because its lightweight and so makes your seams lie nice and flat. Second, don't pay extra for foundation piecing paper - ordinary typing paper works just as well if you follow the usual rule of shortening your stitch length to enable easier ripping.

Both tips are true. However, in combination it turns out there may be a problem! Chris, the quilter rang me today - when she put the top taut on the machine and started to plan her quliting she found one seam was a little open. Then she found another...eventually she found fifteen gaps! Now they were not obvious when I checked for loose threads and ironed it. However, it does seem that the combination of light thread and tugging thick paper out has caused some individual stitches to rip. A longarm machine does not stretch the top but it does pull it tauter than ironing does and so unravelling started and she was unable to quilt it.

Panic. This quilt has to come back for me for embellishment and then go out in the post for Christmas. And Chris finishes work on Thursday. Solution? Husband from Heaven volunteered to drive to Yorkshire to get it in my car using the sat nav he is unfamilar with, as he had no idea where he was going. Fortunately I was working from home so, on his return, was able to down tools and mend it and by the skin of our teeth we got it in the post for next day by 9am delivery so Dennis didn't have to go back with it as he remarkably offered to do. Phew.

I should say that Chris would normally have offered to do it for me but was just so pushed for Christmas work that she simply didn't have time - and after all, why should she?. She was very kind about it telling me it happens 'all the time' - but even so, to send a quilt out with holes in it? Mortified. Next time I shell out for foundation paper and use Gutterman cotton!

Oh, and Dennis arrived with the top and said, 'I trust that woman now, I quite like her.'

I was rather confused and asked why he didn't trust Chris before, given he had never met her, and he said, 'No, not Chris, the lady in the car.' Apparently he was talking to the sat nav voice as he drove. Bless him, I think I may actually have literally driven him mad!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Advent present - video clip

A cheap stocking filler this time. Call me slow but it is only tonight that I have first been to U-Tube. I got there by accident looking for an audio clip to go with a Quiltland piece and of course felt constrained to stick 'quilting' in the search box and ... well lots of quilters got there before me!

This is the one I picked to watch. Amateur filming but great innovative quilts!
There is a related website with gallery here.

Citizenship of Quiltland

87% of readers who responded to my poll on the Quiltland blog wanted citizenship via a Ringsurf group. All it does it signify that you read the blog and will leave comments from time to time ( Oh yeah, huge ego trip going on here!) but more seriously allows you to show off your blog in a quiting group that is for all quilters not just those who are artful, crazy or who (ahem) stashbust.

So by all means click on the button to the right to join.

As for stash busting, well I made a quilt this weekend. Yup, start to finish - 9.30 am Saturday to 10.30 pm Sunday and I still had time to get my hair cut, go out for a meal with my parents, drive home from Penrith, prepare a brief and set up a TV and DVD and finally - sleep under the thing! Three cheers for 12 inch blocks, strip piecing and tied quilts! Photo later for you as I have to dash to work now.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

There are no flies on my man

Regular readers will know my predliction for what I call 'Magie' fabrics - gorgeous genuine West African fabrics sold by Magie Relph at the African Fabric shop. Readers of The Quilter, the magainze of the British Quilters Guild will also have seen eth article about her fabric this edition.

I casually flopped on the sofa. "There's an article here about Magie fabric," I say nonchalantly. "It's all about why you have to buy it."

Dennis looks over his glasses. He is wary of Magie. He saw her bewitching sales techiniques for himself at Quilts UK when I went to her stall and told her than I needed a quarter of purple fabric. She smiled sweetly and showed me all her half meters of green and browns and reds, all of which I bought. He thinks she can put me in a trance simply by flapping batik in my face the same way Crocodile Dundee could tame a wild animal with that hand signal of his. (On that he is right.) He gives me a Paddington stare. "You said you didn't want to buy any more fabrics until the Nantwich sale in January."

"I know. I'm not saying I am buying now, I 'm just saying that its a good thing to buy Magie Fabric generally. The article says so."


"Because its sustainable trade and contributes to world development without the trap of charity."

He looks genuinely interested. "Really?"

"Yeah. People will starve if people like me don't buy. People called Musa and Esther specifically. Its their only way to make a living. Its a moral thing to do. It says so. In the guild magazine."

He is a sensitive man. He doesn't like for people to be starving. He looks convinced. Then his eyes narrow. "Who wrote the article?"

"Ummm.... Magie?"

I don't care. I knew about Magie's fairtrade policy already and it is a jolly good reason to buy in my view (although to be honest the fabric is so great I'd have to struggle really hard not to buy it even if I knew it had been woven by two year olds working 26 hour days.) and anyway, its my money.....

Friday, December 07, 2007


Too much work. Too much travel. Off now to Blackburn to work ( and park husband at coffee shop for the duration) then from there to Penrith for quilting session.

See a longer blog entry on quilt shows that I've just done at

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Consumer praise

Today has been a long day - our annual 1hr and 50 mins drive to the Meadowhall complex in Sheffield to Christmas shop from 9 until we get kicked out at 7. Only this year, due to the fact that I seredipitously got a large tax rebate yesterday we got a bit distracted into buying stuff for ourselves.

Save for a copy of Quiltmania Meadowhall is bereft of quilt stuff ( oh except I bought some very expensive pillowcases and contemplated buying an extra set to cut up so I knew I could match the colour in an end of bed quilt throw!), so we focused on electrical goods instead, in particular new TV and DVD recorder.

Not knowing anything about DVDs I asked various 'salesmen' various questions in various shops. All answers were useless. A Sample: Q: I want to be able to pause live TV. Which players do that? A: That's a good question.

Then we stumbled on the Sony Center Shop. All questions were answered in simple detail. There was no hard sell. There was a 10% sale on everything and the TV was already reduced anyway. We checked that we got 10% off everything we wanted, including the TV, then went away to think over a cup of tea. We decide we will never find a better deal and return to buy it. We find Justin, the same cheery little Yorkshire guy who helped frst time round and say, "Right, so do you want to sell us this package of DVD, TV and stand then?"
His response?
"Of course. So you want me to get you a better deal? Just hang on I'll see what I can do."
Well, be my guest!!

His manager allowed him to knock £25 of the DVD and £25 off the stand. We checked that we still got the 10% off the resulting price. Yes we did. Bargain! We agree to buy and he suggests that as the stock is split between a store room and an offsite warehouse,we go and do more shopping and he will ring when it is all on site.

He rings soon after. We return. He apologises and says that he brought the wrong stand over from the warehouse but as he was intending to carry all our stuff through the mall to our car anyway he suggests we just drive with him to the nearby warehouse and get the stand on our way home. Fine. Justin puts the order in the till with the manager instructing him how to do the discount. By this time it is gone six and I am dead on my feet. I have been handing the credit card out all day and knowing we have done the deal already I am slow to react when he tells us the sum due and just stick my PIN in. Then, with receipt in my purse, my brain starts to go.... hey, hang on that can't be right, can it? But Justin looks happy. Dennis - who can count in his head - looks OK with it, so we leave.

Just as we get to the door there is a little conflab between Justin and the manager and then he bounces out, all smiles, to meet us. He waits until we get out of earshot of the shop and then says, "You got a good deal there you know. We did the discount wrong and gave you too much." I still can't get my head around it but we establish that he is not going to lose his job and that the shop policy is - we made the mistake, customer wins out! How far is that from my Carcraft experience?!

So three very loud cheers for Sony Centre customer service ethic..... especially as we later realised that they had not given us £25 off the DVD and the stand. They had sold us them for £25! The extra discount over and above what we expected was £364!

(And for any salespeople out there, yes Justin was on commission, yes he did lose out and yes we did slip him cash to make it up to him!)