Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dodgy hands

Today I was given a suspected diagnosis of osteoarthritis. The good news is that blood tests show that the aching in my joints is not rheumatoid which apparently attacks your organs as well as joints. The bad news is that I suffer particularly in my thumb joints which of course does not bode well for quilting. And it goes without saying that at 36 I am way too young for this ... although as there is a family history on both sides not terribly surprised.

I have a fantastic GP who has provided the inevitable herbal remedy glucosamine on prescription to save me some cash. (The thought that I am actually getting somthing back for my tax pounds for once is a little bit of pain relief itself). I am also about to order some wheatgerm packs but nothing I do is ever simple and they all seem to be made for necks or backs. My worst joints are my elbows and the base of my thumbs so I'm going to have to tie these packs on with ribbon or somthing. Oh well at least there is haberdashery shopping involved!

If I can locate a source of buckwheat hulls I can even make my own with patchwork covers to match my outfits!

I did wonder though if any readers suffer similarly and have any helpful tips for quilting. I have already found that shear scissors rather than the normal dressmaking scissors help a great deal.

The GP (a very knowlegable Indian man who is also a surgeon) also told me about yoga. As a lapsed yogini ( for fear that I might be making my also dodgy knees worse) I was not suprised to hear that lapsing had not been a good idea and that I should get back on my mat and stretch those joints. However, I was really surprised when he told me that just the yogic breathing (pranayama) can cure arthritis. Now that really is amazing. I never really focused on the breathing before but I've checked out the western medical research in the online medical journals and it stacks up. The eastern wisdom is that certain methdos of breathing heat the body. Like internal wheat bags I suppose.

So I am off to stand on one leg and fire breath through one nostril in the hope that I can make a bag later withit having to hold the ruler down with my fist rather than my fingers!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Vicarious shopping

I finished this bag today. A bit more country than my usual taste but I was using up scraps to learn the construction technique.

You remember how I was on a self imposed fabric shopping ban policed (at my request) by my husband? Well, he liked this bag so much he asked if he could commission a bag for his Mum and one for his aunt. She he picked a couple of styles from Patchwork with Pizzazz. (Which incidently is the best book I have seen for bags because she gives you various construction methods and various ways of making handles then all the examples. Its really easy to make your own designs - much easier than some of the other books I have which give very specific and not easily adaptable patterns. About half of the book is bags, the rest simple quilts and wall hangings.)

Having agreed to make his choices I pointed out that bags, of course, require fabrics. So I went on line, narrowed down choices and he sat with and picked out the fabrics he liked (Actually choosing the ones I woudl have picked) and paid for them! So technically I did not buy fabric. I did add on a few reels of thread and a couple of packets of bobbins, seeing as he was already paying the postage charge... but there never was a ban on thread!

Much though I hate to say so, some of the fabrics have been ordered from the shop that let me down over the kit, simply because they do a Thimbleberries charm pack .... lets see how they perform this time!

I should say also that this conversation made me realise that I promised to make a back pack for a great friend about two months ago then promptly forgot all about it and she has been too good mannered to say anything. I know she reads this so : Sharon, I'm really sorry. I have actually bought the clasps for it but nothing else! I will cost it out soon if you still want it!!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Stichin' Saturday

Have had all afternoon today to sew. This is what I got done ( doesn't seem much!!)

A bag with my fabric swap from Lazylol. This is going to my wonderful cleaner as I have been promising her I'd do one for ages and my husband said she saw this fabric and admired it.

And there is some of this gorgeous stuff left for me as Lazylol was very generous!

A block using a template from the book Quilt Africa for the centre image. The colours in this are much stronger - beautiful earthy reds and ochres in among darker browns and golds. My friend Lesley and I are planning a collaborative quilt using freedom log cabin blocks, applique and and African themes. The plan is that we do one block each then take it and our stash to the class in Penrith in February and see where we get to. Even if she hates mine I can't wait to make a whole quilt using these fabrics and theme!

The front for one of the bags I am knocking up out of scraps/stash to hold other projects in.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Suitcase contents

I have just returned from a night in the Dunkenhalgh hotel, paid for by the company I was lecturing for today. Given that I was only in my room for 2 and a half hours before going to sleep in which time I wanted a bath and to watch a TV drama and had to call home, when I came to unpack my suitcase I realised that the proportion of the contents in my suitcase were quite amusing:

1 change underwear
1 clean shirt
1 wash bag
1 crime novel
1 copy Australian Patchwork and Quilting Magazine
1 copy British Patchwork and Quilting Magazine
1 quilting journal ( in which I intended to write out patterns I liked from ....
1 (borrowed) copy of the book Passion for Patchwork.
1 unfinished tote bag requiring hand sewing stages to be completed
1 pin cushion
1 pair thread scissors
1 needlecase
1 lamp (lighting in hotel room is always too dingy for handsewing)
1 papercut block requiring tacking cutting and needleturning
2 reels of thread
1 new diary given to me in a fabric swap which I intended to use to keep a record of all my swaps in and to transcribe them from notes currently written in
1 filofax
1 folder containing 5 chapters of my novel which required editing
1 paperchase book for graph paper for designing a new quilt

Why is it that I am brilliant at assessing just how long a court case needs to be listed for or how long it will take me to do an advice, but am hoplessly optimistic in how much hobby stuff can be done in the time available?

(I got the bath, the thriller on TV, the phone call two binding strips on the bag and the transcribing of one set of instructions done. I resisted sewing in the bath but did read some of the crime novel in there!)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I have a storage problem. Not so much that I have nowhere to put quilting things - I have a big cupboard. Its more that nothing stays very organised in there. I've sorted the stash ( see recent post) but sill have a problem with ongoing projects. It doesn't help that I keep taking things out to classes all of which require a common set of items but then different projects or equipment as well. Plus I am an untidy beggar and can't resist working on several projects at once.

So I decided the solution was to keep each project together in a bag. But I hated the plastic bags so I decided to make a big tote bag for each project and one for equipment and then I could just grab a project bag as required or put a combination in my small suitcaes that doubles as work case. There are of course two problems with this.

The first is that I have to get in the habit of putting stuff back in the bags which will not come naturally. Seconlly I have to make the bags .... which creates more projects......

I started with this (as yet unfinished) one using swap fabrics. I showed it to Dennis and proudly said - "see its all scraps and just a bit of left over stash fabric." (Hoping to impress on him how thrifty I was and why you need a stash.) . To which he responded. "How come you spend hunderds on fabric but only ever have scraps?" Good question.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I have a new addiction. I casually mentioned www.swap-bot.com in an earlier post but having just got my first ever swap parcels via Flibbertygibbets swap I am feeling both guilty and delighted.

Guilty because being a newbie I didn't really get the full delight of swapping and just sent my partners the required three strips of fabric each with a nice letter in an envelope. Delighted because from my 2 partners I got parcels wrapped in handstamped tissue paper and handmade paper containing nine strips of delightful fabric, two cards of buttons, a small packet of beads with a charm in for good measure, a small bar of Green and Blacks chocolate, a diary with beautiful pictures and a yummy chocolate fondant mouse. I am going to have to send a supplementary package with the by-no-means-obligatory-but-kind-of the best- bit-of the swap-goodies. In my defence I did buy Kaffee Fasset fabrics, especially and didn't send out my unwanted strips! But still, no mousey treats... what a bad girl I am.

Dennis doesn't really get it but I love both getting mail and knowing that (when I get the mouse treat thing right) I will have made a stranger's day happy. Swapbot has some really cheap swaps on - one I signed up for today just requires you to write a poem on a postcard so I'm looking forward to reading some new stuff soon. Ther are lots of ATC and craft related swaps. The first one I joined requires the swap of teabags/ coffee sachets etc and a magazine article. My partner who is sending to me emailed to say she'd read my profile and she was a quilter too and would send a fat quarter. I love the co-incidences, love the getting to know a bit about people all over the world. And I love that I have an excuse to go to that forbidden place called Thorntons chocolate shop and buy a mouse or two ( or three .. no one says you have to swap everything you buy).

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nantwich sale - or stash reorganisation - Part 3

(This is my third post today so you might want to start with the two below if you have not already read them).

How do you organise your stash?

For a while I have had mine in four baskets by size of the cut and within the basket by colour but it had all got a bit messy and even thought I knew in my head that I had several 'collections'of fabrics going on I thought after the sale today I'd better sort and see how close I was to having enough to do each quilt in my head.

So I tipped the lot over the floor

and bundled them up in bales either by particular projects wheer I knew what I was going to do with them or by colour theme - this is my Japanese bale.

Then I put the bales in the baskets. ( Wadding and scraps are in different - large- leather boxes)

Of course as they were full before I now have a bale of 'won't fit in the basket big pieces'. It is also interesting to note that I have two full baskets of African Fabrics! If I didn't know better I'd say it was an obsession. As I do know better I am saying that it is a 'series in planning.'
Also this does not deal with all the quilts actually started and the piled up dressmaking fabric downstairs. I have decided that a good plan would be to use some of the stash to make bags to keep all my ongoing projects in.
Sadly as I did all this I forgot to photo what I bought today except for this panel which of course goes in the Japanese bundle for a Kitty Pippen inspired quilt with sashiko..... some day!

Nantwich Sale - or how to shop a show (part 2)

I thought, as I am becoming somewhat of an expert shopper you might like my 10 commandments for sucessfully navigating the perils of the traders section of a quilt show:

1. Go with a plan. Examine your stash before leaving home and determine what fabrics you need. Write that down and plan to buy only those.

2. Visit the cash point on the way and take your exact budget in cash.

3. Be aware that when you get there you will be tempted to break your plan. So have a 'comfort zone'. I.e. if you know you only need brights have that as your plan but know in the back of your mind that if you are tempted to go on a frenzy its Ok to buy a few african fabrics too. That way you limit your shopping frenzy.

3. Take a little extra out of the cash machine for this contingency and fold it up at the back of your purse so that you can enjoy the feeling of a blow out without actually getting out of control.

4. Be flexible. Be open to ammending your plan as circumstances demand.

5. Also take your visa card.

6. Think like a city finance expert. When saving for a pension the earliest contributions count the most because of the effect of compound interest. Cheap fabric bought now and invested in a stash will be cheaper in two/ ten/ twenty years time when you come to actually sew it because of the effect of compound inflation.

7. Take a Mastercard as well.

8. Think like a statesman. Bobby Kennedy is well known for this quote which as you will see with a bit of adaptation applies well to quilting:

"There are those [men/ non quilters] who look at things [fabrics] the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things [quilts] that never were, and ask why not?

9. Take a friend/ neighbour/ abducted stranger who also has cash and cards in his /her wallet.

10. Think like the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The more you buy the more likely it is that the quilting shop will stay open and the less likely it is that the shopowners will be unemployed. That means less welfare benefits have to be paid out which reduces the tax burden on society as a whole and on you in particular which means that the fabrics you bought are effectively free as the cash you handed over is equal to the tax you now do not have to pay as a result of having bought the said fabric.

Nantwich sale - (or why I love my husband) Part 1

(I've divided todays post into 3 to make it easier to read / post the photos) Today was the Quilters exhibition and sale in Nantwich about 1 hour from me. Being an idiot I thought 'Sale' referred to the fact that people would be selling fabric and quilting things. I did not twig until I got there that 'sale' meant people would be selling things at massive discount it being January and all.

How excited does this photo make you?!

Dennis drove me there and when we arrived declined my offer that we should do the only bit he is vaguely interested in - look at the display of quilts - saying, 'No, thats not going anywhere but the fabric might. Go and shop first."

So I did and he sat quite happily reading his book. Or at least he wasn't weeping when I got back so I'll take it he was quite happy. I arived with the first three bags full and said, "You might want to control me." He looked up from his Ruth Rendell and said "Control yourself." Ha. Like that works. So I went and bought a few more bags. With almost all fabric at £4 per meter or less this was backing heaven so they were quite heavy bags. I returned, he took all the bags out to the car for me, we looked at the quilts - two of my favourites are posted below both by Dot Sherlock if I recall correctly - and then he came with me for another round of the stalls.

"Should I buy this?" I say fingering yet more fabric. "And I like this one and this would look great with that fabric you bought me for christmas. Shall I get them all?"

Shrug. "Yeah."

You've got to love this man!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Quilting chat

We have gales in the UK at the moment with trains and planes off and many roads littered with overturned lorries. My garden fence has blown down. So it seemed a good idea not to drive to the gym ( like I need much of an excuse) but to stay in and play on the chat room at The Quilt Show site which went live today.

And aren't quilters nice people? When we got to talking stashes I confessed to the purchase or '43.5 metres of fabric I don't need yet' and asked ' Do I need therapy?' Immediately two replies bounced back from the States:

"Of course you NEED it."
"What do you mean? Buying fabric IS therapy."
I like being understood and colluded with!

Which is why - so long as the gales have subsided enough to allow us to drive safely over the fells at Shap I am going up for a sneaked extra day at Morceau in Penrith tomorrow. I was going to the Saturday class anyway so I will have a gluttonous 2 whole days, then on Sunday there is a show and sale at Nantwich in Cheshire which is an hour from my house in the oposite direction from Penrith! So no blog probably for a few days as I'll be at my parents who have an interminably slow dial up connection still

My mother commented today that she thought I had rejigged ny schedule so that there was less travel in it. Which I have done workwise but seem to have replaced it all with quilting travel. I suppose I could stay at home and quilt alone - I am capable of teaching myself from books, but the company is too good to miss. And the class is above a shop.......

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kuba cloth

Today I started surfing the web for shape inspirations for my next City and Guilds portfolio and as I just love african art decided to begin a sketchbook of african use of shapes. In surfing I stumbled on the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC which I really recommend. Their site has on line images of amazing african textiles, masks etc.
I particularly liked this Nigerian funerary cloth made with patchwork and applique

These kuba cloths aslo really caught my attention. (These are from another site and for sale but there are similar ones in the museum) Now wouldn't they be a terrific challenge to convert to patchwork? I think I may have found somthing to work on here:

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bits and unconnected bobs

1. Kits - I was at a class today in which another student was making a bag from a kit. The instructions were badly wrong and Yvonne our teacher said she was not at all surprised as in her experience kits are notorious for being wrong. (All irate suppliers of kits may coment and defend themselves.)

2. Working from home. All those interested in what Brenda said recently on her blog about being at home may want to check out the BBC site and listen online to a programme called Working fron Home - five daily 15 minute segments on the experience available on their Listen Back Facility. But be quick because it's only kept available for seven days and the first one was on 8th January.

3. Talking of working from home the great advantage of being self employed is that I can do just that or not as the case may be ... which means I actually 'worked' from a dressmaking class today. I guess my psychologist friend is right when she says I have an addictive personality. In my first class in December I rather doubtfully started making a skirt and was delighted to finish it. In my second lesson today we cut out all the pieces for , and started pinning, a matching dress, jacket and skirt in black wool ( boring but essential for work and jazzed up with a funky cerise paisley lining for the jacket and a seriously cool button) and bought enough stash fabric to make a trouser suit with matching skirt and dress in a blue pinstripe. In my defence ( there's always a defence!) there was a sale on ( of course) and the pinstripe cost me £18 (Convert that here and be amazed).

4. I have via Erica's site found out about a fabric swap and through one of my swap partners I have been led to www.swap-bot.com which currently has a pincushion swap and one for beads and buttons swap on if anyone is interested. Once I have participated in a swap I can host my own so if anyone has any good ideas let me know ( or host them yourself!!)

5. How do you peel a butternut squash wthout making your wrist ache? Does anyone know? ( I told you these were unconnected thoughts today!)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Happy shopper

As I finished court at lunchtime today in Chester I hared home for Dennis and went immediately out, still in suit, to catch the first day of the sale at Craftsandquilts.net in Southport. I came home with 43.5 metres of fabric!. Much was on the 'need right now' list for various projects but there were some great stash materials that said 'buy me, buy me' - like these ones from Senegal....

and these cotton based 'quilters lame' which has a wonderful sheen. I am told they can be slippy though so was recommended to use 'steam a seam' or similar to stablise the seams before sewing.

The colours all togther just make my head go zingy!! ( they, as ever, are much brighter than the photo)

Becuase I was on a lunch hour rush purchasing mission the last time I tried this shop I hadn't realised how reasonable the fabrics in this shop are - many selling for as little as £4.99 and £5.99 per metre including the same brand of plains I mass bought in Copenhagen for those who remember that post... i could have saved wrist strain trying to make my overpacked handluggage look swingable!!
On top of already great prices there was 10% off if you spent more than £10 on any fabrics and 20% of if you spent over £20. So here is the survey for today - have you ever come out of a quilt shop having spent less than £20 ( thats about USD £40 or Australian $50)?

I worked out that compared with average prices in the shop I often use ( and will continue to use) I saved £163!! Yipeee! And that's not counting the 3m of wadding thrown in for free so I am a happy shopper.

The wadding is a black ployester needlepunch which I would normally have avoided save (a) its to use on the the African quilts I showed recently a few posts ago so I have no qualms about it showing through and (b) a customer had made a sample for the shop with cream counry fabrics half with white and half with black batting and it was amazing how much better the light looked with black behind them. I would have said it would 'show through' but actually it is more like they were back lit. The top fabric colours kind of had more glow. So I am keen to do some samples with the off cuts of the wadding I will have left over. Also unlike the only other polyester I have tried it is not really 'bouncy'.

Despite buying so much I couldn't find single fabric I liked to back one quilt which is awaiting quilting .... so I do have an excuse for some more shopping this week at Just Sew.

I persuaded Dennis to come with me and he was wonderful -he sat on a chair with his arms outstretched as we piled cut fabric up onto him and never once objected to the amounts even when I found the African and lame fabrics and said 'I think I'll buy ths shelf!" Of course this may be that having just had a throat operation he can barely speak!

On the way home we went to a Lebanese restauant recommended to us by friends and it was only half way through the meal thatI realised that I had odd shoes on! I don't think I had been like that all day - I keep a pair in the car for driving in so I don't scuff my work shoes and I was so upbeat about the fabric I only changed one when I got out of the car!!
PS I know lame should have an accent on the e but I can't find it on my keyboard!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Quilting consumer - the tale continues /Kits

... I am glad to see that my commenters agree with me about my incomplete kit. Brenda asks if there is anything that the shop could do to make it better - well, answering the phone when I tried to give them another chance would have been a good thing. Or even an apology - I got lots of explanation but no 'sorry'. Or perhaps a discount on, or even let me have free, the bit of fabric that' missing ( its not much - a 3/4 yard I think but a vital component). I did say to them that if I was in their city or if I saw them at shows I would shop with them in person.

However, the more positive consumer report for today is that in the end I sourced the fabric from Glorious Colour which stocks all Kaffe's fabrics and is run by the woman who works with him on his books, Lisa Prior. They also do kits for some of the quilts in his books and say on the site that they can custom make kits on request.

I just love the colours in this quilt on the front of Kaffe Fassett's book Kaleidoscope Quilts but there was no kit so I emailed to ask if they could custommake it. Their response by prompt email was this:
"Right now we cant make Deep Ohio kits because we are waiting for a missing fabric to be delivered to us. We think we should be able to make them again in the middle of February.
If you wish, we can send a partial kit. I believe we are missing only the Cloisonne in black. Let us know if you want to do that, and I will tell you how to place the order."
See - sensible polcies and good consumer care do exist!
But all this dealing with kits has made me ask myself why I am suddenly so covetous of a kit anyway. I started off right from the beginning picking my own fabrics and for me that is a lot of the delight of quilting- the collating of colours and prints and the excitement of finding the one'zinger fabric' that really brings the quilt to life. I have acquired loads of quilting books but apart from maybe three times have never copied the pattern exactly. I either make one up or take elements from several to make a new one. To me kits seemed to take most of the creativity out of quilting leaving just the sewing mechanics.

But when I was in Bath I popped in several times to Country Threads and kept looking at those bright, bright Fassett fabrics and vowing that I was going to but them before I left and make a quilt to take me out of out of my insinctive colour pallet. These are the fabrics I actually bought!So I put Kaffe Fassett fabrics on the Christmas wish list my husband asked for 'in case you want to challenge me'
Of course if I am scared of them how much more is he? But being the brilliant man he is - he bought me the Cool Diamonds kit... and that's where we came in yesterday. So, what I am circuitously saying is that for me the concept of a kit here is less about taking away the creativity than working indirectly with a master designer to learn creative techniques. I am particularly fascinated with how what on the shelf are to me quite hideous fabrics turn out - in the book at least!- into gorgeous creations. I hope that using the kits I'll learn that. And if I don't, well, I get gorgeous quilts!
What do you folks out there think about using kits? Let me know.


A (quilting) consumer gripe

I am afraid this consumer story relates to a quilt shop. Strangely whilst I am quite happy to name and shame MP3 stores I shy away from doing so to a fellow quilter but I would be grateful to know if you agree that this is really bad service.

The background is that I have made three mail orders with this one UK shop all of which have taken a long time to arrive. On one day I bought charm packs from them and from a shop in Texas one immediately after the other and the UK order arrived 4 days after the ones from the States! Not impressed.

The current beef is that my husband splashed out on a rather expensive (to him - we quilters would easily justify it!) kit for a king sized Kaffee Fassett quilt from this shop. When I opened it and eagerly started to make it just after we returned from our Christmas travels I realised one piece of fabric was missing and of course it wasn't the binding but one right from the middle of the quilt. Dennis was really disappointed as was I.

He contacted them only to be told that they didn't have the fabric and hadn't at the time they sent the kit and that the best they can say is that it should be on a boat which docks sometime towards the end of Januray but they can't guarantee a date. I then emailed and pointed out (with lawyer hat on) that the website says that the kit 'contains all you need to make this quilt' and that they should not have sold it if it was incomplete or at the best rung to ask if it was Ok or if he wanted to choose a complete one - especially as it was being sold around christmas time. ( I refrained from actually using the term' breach of express term of the contact' but that was the gist!) I pointed out that many other shops - like the one in Texas have a feature on their webiste asking you what to do if the order is not available straight away.

Their reply was, and I quote,
"In September the manufacturer, Rowan, for economic reasons switched deliveries so that fabrics now come by ship from the States. Fabric that we anticipated receiving at the end of October finally arrived in mid December. Some fabrics that were not on that shipment have now been out of stock for over three months and we hope(!) will be on an end of January delivery. Therefore the best answer I give for you (although unsatisfactory) is that your fabric is on backorder and that a ship should dock sometime before the end of the month. If we had known at the outset that this would be the case we would have removed affected fabrics from the website. Unfortunately we are in a situation where Rowan has adopted a wholly inadequate stock policy for the Kaffe Fassett fabrics, one of our most popular fabric lines. We have already made representations to Rowan and we are currently looking at how we can reflect the stock situation as accurately as possible on the website. "

Peronally I don't think that answers the question as they clearly knew when they sent the kit that the material was not there yet did not phone us, or even put an explanation or expected delivery date in the package.

After a day or two steaming and having told them that I was not renewing my membership in their discount club which expires on 19 Jan, and that I would stick with other UK mail order services I had found more reliable, ( I can recommend The Tabbycat for example) I realised that I needed to order backing for the quilt which is not in the kit and we decided to stick with the original and get the recommended Kaffee Fassett fabric. Guess which was the only UK shop I could find who stocked the right one..... yup!

I swallowed my pride, hoped they wouldn't remember my name from the email and rang to check that the fabric showing on the website was actually in the shop. Three times. They never answered the phone.

I bought it from the States.

I am all for supporting local shops (and I spent a fortune everytime I go to Just Sew in Penrith or Country Threads and Midsomer Quilting when we are down in Bath) but I do expect a certain level of service back. Do you agree or I am just a grumpy old woman?

Monday, January 08, 2007


I just loved the fabrics on my african snowball quilt so I have been using them up.

A long thin (70 x 20) quilt top, just the right size to throw over my high backed study chair and have it hanging over the back and right down over the seat. (And just the right side to practice some fancy machine quilting on when I get some backing. I know it sounds daft but I am seriously thinking of putting presstuds on the back when it is finished soI can curl the end up into a kind of envolope. Then, rather than have it over the chair back I can have it on my knees and my feet in the pouch! I hate wearing shoes in the house so I often get cold feet while I am working. I need a name for this invention - a marsupial quilt? It is straighter than it looks on this photo by the way.

And still there were scraps so I made a pincushion.
I have to be frugal and use scraps at least for a day or two because I had a blow out on Amazon last night and ordered 15 quilting books and a two year subscription to Quilting Arts!!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

City and Guilds - Texture 2

I didn't post yesterday because I became completely engrossed with a project I started for my City and Guilds texture portfolio. I fell down the well you might say!
The brief was to come up with a design ( you are not allowed to use stitching) on the theme of texture and either the sky or the seashore. Another task for each portfolio is to research a particular artists who is a good example of the topic. I had done a bit about Tina Blatter who is blind and makes art to be touched, which, via a chain of thought with which I will not burden you, led me to the idea of making an altered book with different textures in and labelled in braille. Well labelled with yellow split peas actually but I am hoping they approximate braille! Here are photos of the pages.

One thing I said at the begining of this year is that my resolution was not to do anything new (the opposite of most years) and to concentrate on the hobbies I already had. Only the thing is..... I really enjoyed having a go at this. I did it at the kitchen worktop ( the only room I dare play around with paint in) and started at 7pm and didn't surface until gone half-past midnight. Trouble is I was standing on stone tiles in stockinged feet all that time and didn't realise how much my feet and calves hurt until I got up this moring and could barely walk!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

TV excitement

Ooooh, ooooh, oooh. I am so excited.
I am at home writing lecture notes on the interplay between immigration law and family law and you can bet that is not what I am so excited about.

I flicked on to Alex Andersons site for a 5 min tea break to look at some of the pictures that go with her podcast to find that she is launching a new TV show with Ricky Timms and unlike her previous rather famous TV shows, it is not just in the US, it is online. All you need is the (free) Flash player and broadband

Ooooh, oooh, oooh!!

You can subscribe now to the 13 shows of the first series that start in April 2007 and that allows you to watch them whenever you like until December 2008. There will be a second series in 2008. There is also going to be a daily blog by them ( already up and running) and a forum and chat room. Plus you can post pictures of your quilts to your gallery.

If you subscribe before it starts its just $16.95 which with the dollar rate the way it is is really cheap in sterling.

Ooooh, Oooh etc.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My quilting disability.. or is it?

Down Under Quilts magazine arrived today and I was amused to read Erica's 'confession' as to her directional weakness. I can understand this as my husband has absolutely no sense of direction. There is one road junction we travel on which is signed both Bristol and Birmingham... which happen to be in totally opposite directions. Every time we approach it and no matter how many times I explain that you take that road which later splits into two, one for each city, I can still feel the palpable fear radiating from him as we approach it at 70mph and he has to make a quick decision. We have solved that by ensuring that I am always at the wheel at that point. ( The confusion remains palpable though.)

A less easily solved problem is that whilst I have a fantastic sense of direction, navigating around strange cities on a sort of instinctive compass andthe abilty to retain a city map in my head, I do mix up my left and my right. I also reverse numbers if I have to read a sequence out. Like my credit card number over the phone, for example. Or if someone reads numbers to me I might well write them down in a different order. (When I sit as a Judge I drive advocates mad I am sure by asking them to repeat figures just to be sure!)
So whilst I will turn the correct way if I am driving, it is highly probably that if directing another driver I will have 'left' in my mind but actually say 'right'. (My Dad does the same thing but I know by some kind of ESP when he has done it and when he hasn't so I always go the way he intends me to go whether he actually said it or not! Very weird.)

The problem is that this 'disabilty' ( I am told it is related to dislexia although I have no problems with words save that I type 'eth' for 'the' and 'juts' for 'just' all the time) is that it sometimes translates to quilting.

Today I finished the top for this snowball quilt:

I didn't buy the fabric especially for it so having done the center ( pieced by hand on my travels and machine assembled) I measured to see if I had enough left for borders. Yes. Eight strips cut down the length was fine. Trouble is I then mixed up my directions and cut it the otherway. Not the first time. Which left me with seven strip for borders not eight. Grr.
The solution turned out to be utilising tag ends to extend te seventh strip and to create the corner posts ( or 'jewel boxes') as they seem to me. They absolutely make the quilt top. Such a simple thing yet such a difference. As one of the things I wanted to work on this years was more interesting borders this was a good start.
Plus while I was chain piecing them I realised that I could mess about with the blocks half done to create another scrap quilt. Like this:
or perhaps like this:
I do have some tiny bits of the african fabrics left so I might do that at some point when I spot some good backround fabric.
So perhaps less of a disabilty and more of a creative opportunity? At the very least I know that another of the many many things I love about quilting is the problem solving!
PS For those interested the african fabrics are recycled ones from Ragbags and the black fabric is by Timelss Treasures.
PPS I've just noticed - this is my 100th post!

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year Review

On New Years Day I like to take some time out with a mug of Whittards Dreamtime tea and my journal. I look over last year's New Years entry to see what my hopes and plans for the year were and how much I achieved or how much I was surprised by what transpired despite my plans, then I write about the year ahead.

This year it was really funny. The first mention of quilting ever in my life was on 4th January when suddenly there is a page and a half list of all the notions and tools I would need to quilt taken from Katherine Guerrier's Encyclopaedia of Quilting. That I borrowed from the library so given that quilting was not in my 1st Jan plans at all I have clearly gone down there pretty quickly becuase I remember that it was on 2nd Jan that I was sewing a button on for my husband and began to ponder on a sudden image of Amish women peacefully sewing that popped into my head from nowhere.

That's not so funny, I know, but the fact that the list had prices with it tells me I went straight on line and shopped around several shops. Which is so typcial of my full on have-to know- right- now-in-all-the-greatest-possible- detail-research methods. Then on 5th January I record baldly "Yesterday I decided to take up quilting." Again typical of my decision making process - no point in dithering over these things is there?!

I did have the foresight as I was starting a brand new hobby to start a special journal for it and recorded all my projects, web research etc and unfortunately all my spending ( which I am not confessing on line!). This year I am going to make it more of a journal and record more of my creative processes and thoughts about quilting in this new notebook ( bought at Jenner's in Edinburgh)

Looking over the old notebook my quilting activites over 2006 turned out to be:


5 bags

1 sewing machine cover ( for the machine I sent back - see below - so now unused)

1 log cabin lap quilt (Given to my mother in law)

1 handquilted lap quilt in country beiges ( used mainly for keeping my feet warm at my desk)

1 liberated log cabin quilt in African fabrics ( my favourite I think - I love African themes)

1 lap quilt and 1 bed quilt from Nickel Quilts made with 5 inch charm packs ( both used to snuggle under in front of the TV and for extra warmth over my duvet)

2 36x 36 children's quilts for Project Linus - one for a girl and one for a boy

1 larger girl's quilt for Project Linus (handstitched on aeroplanes mostly)

1 pink tied quilt for the garden bench

Unfinished and ditched

1 railfence quilt chewed up by a defective sewing machine ( first ever attempt - very discouraging)

1 string based wallhanging ruined by bad machine stitching

Tops finished and waiting for quilting:

King sized batik top in blues for our bed

In progress

Snowballs quilt in african fabrics

I also
# acquired 54 books on quilting either purchased or as gifts
# started blogging about quilting and found other's blogs
# wrote my first magazine quilting article
# started classes at Morceau in the Lakes (and branched out in to dressmaking there too)
# began my City and Guilds
#started to listen regularly to three quilting podcasts
#vistited in person 6 quilting shops
# subscribed to five quilting magazines
# went to an Indigo dying workshop
# caught 3 quilt shows (Trentham Gardens, Southport and Harrogate).
So I guess that makes me a quilter!

Oh - I also wrote a first draft of a novel.....