Saturday, January 31, 2009

Big and bold

If you go here you will find the home page for Morceau - the quilt class I go to once a month is featuring a Big and Bold quilt. Further into the site is a Big and Bold class teaching ( I assume fairly new people to patchwork) how to use big scale prints. I know that the teacher is making her class sample from fabrics available in the shop below but that it is not done yet (or wasn't on Jan 17th at least I assume which is when she uploaded the photo of my quilt)

The trouble is that the one on the site, linked to the class title is mine! It has no acknowlegdment although I have willingly let her hang it in the class room for some time now. (You can see it in the background here) . But evenry other page which has a student quilt on says whose it is. I know - because she told me so - that my quilt inspired her new class. I have no problem with her using my quilt as an example - indeed, I am flattered. It is not my design - in fact it is one I started in a Kaffe Fasset class at Festival of Quilts and is just half square triangles. Nothing special - it was a class on colour.
So am I being petty to be irked that she has not acknowledged the photo on the site as my quilt? Am I being irrational to feel irked that whilst she is not using anything that is my copyrighted design she is using my work, without asking me, to bring in business for herself? ( Which I'd like her to have by the way!) Would it be really bad of me to reclaim the quilt when I go up in a fortnight?! Tell me the truth - I am open to being led towards being a more generous less irked person!

Band sampler 2

My band sampler is becoming a place where I work though the stitches in my stitch book and also where I just make things up as I go along in response to Sharon Boggon's Stitch Challenge. As you can see it is not a place of perfection but of learning.

Here we have some Pekingese stitch, a motif which was me messing around with derivatives of chicken scratch stitch. The block of stitching on the right was a thought I had about recreating the gingham on which Chicken scratch is traditionally worked. Didn't work but, hey, who cares?! Then some chain stitch. I have tried this before and I still can't get those little loops even. Hate it.
I think I shall be getting a fair bit of sampling done in it in the future as it is good for in front of the TV. And there is to be quite a lot of TV in our near future as Dennis, after dithering for months has finally bought the complete DVD set of West Wing. That's 154 episodes. At a cost of 30 pence each episode, which is pretty good really. But that's 112 hours worth........ Maybe I could hand piece a quilt and quilt the thing in that time!

Here were have more Pekingese stitch, which made me want to go back to trying loops on chicken scratch derivatives, then some bog standard chevron stitch from the book.

Finally some little flower motifs, again deriving from chicken scratch... can't leave it alone now! I may have made them up, I may, in my ignorance have stumbled on a stitch others have known about for years. Who knows?

Play day

Apologies to anyone who got a truncated version of an earlier draft of this post which I accidentally published. Here is the final version!

Despite the fact that it is still cold here (yes, antipodean readers, I know you are melting!) I decided today was to be spent in the garage playing with the heatgun and paints I got for Christmas. The morning was sucessful. I heated up bubble wrap ( now that is fun!) and painted it with combinations of paint - Luminaire Super Copper, various Byzantia paints and, for the second one down, acrylics although they didn't work as well.

I then took some inside and stitched with various weight threads : Oliver Twists machine embroidery thread

a King Tut

and ( my favourite) A Superior Masterpieces thread.

Later in the day I went back to the bubble wrap and went a bit mad. This is bubble wrap heat distressed and painted with Luninere Super Copper dried with the gun. Then a layer of Bondaweb, then a layer of snippets of various colours of sheers ( blue yellow and russet red) which were then distressed a little then painted agian in parts wth a Byzantia paint and sprinkled with gold embossing powder and distressed again with the heat gun.

I like these samples. I can see how they would make a good base for part or all of a very ornate embroidery piece.

The other techniques I tried were less successful. First nappy liners. Ironed on they are supposed to carry colour and give a distressed look ' like an old wall'. This sample was a liner rubbed with Markal Paintsiks over the blow heater vents. ( Nearest thing I could find and yes, I did turn it off first!) and then ironed onto fabric which was then overpainted with Dynaflow Golden Yellow and Brass paint. Blah! If you look very close it is a slight furry effect but nothing worth the effort of me driving out to buy the recommended brand of liners ('from a well known chain of Chemists'. Thats Boots, right? Not Lloyds?)

This one is a little more effective - I painted two layers of liner with Byzantia paints before ironing it on. The paints are nowhere near as vibrant as they are normally.

Then I painted and heat distressed Lutrador. I like destroying things with heat. I think there is a pyromaniac inside me. The result is pretty but I don't really know what use it is.

The final sample I will show you is dark brown batik fabric rubbed over those heater vents with sparkle Markal Paintstik, sprinked with embossing powder, heated and then rerubbed with the same Stiks

I don't know if this was a day well spent or not - I am not very good at these arty techniques. I see the beautful thing in books and want to learn but somehow my stuff just ends up mediocre. Of course, these are only backgrounds to be used in the making of those beautiful things so maybe if I go on to read a bit more I might eventually get there!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Spay baste warning.

I love 501 spray. I am of the personal opinion that anyone who spends hours hand basting a quilt deserves to be locked up in a mental health facility. (I shall of course allow the walls to be padded in Warm and Natural wadding. )And anyone who pin bastes obviously has a little more sense but needs to go on a compulsory re-education programme. And for those who have objections on the grounds of anti-chemical arguments, well, that at least is a reasoned choice so I shall merely place you on a watch for other signs of lunacy. Anyone unable to use it for allergy reasons has my sympathies and is excepted from my prejudiced comments.

For the uninitiated, 501 is a low tack spray baste. The method of basting a quilt is so simple and quick. Secure the backing taut as you would anyway. ( I use straight pins to anchor it to the carpet. Or with a medium size quilt on my design board so I can baste vertically. ) Spray it with the spray which falls like artificial snow so you can see where it is going. Lay the wadding (batting) over it. If it is a big quilt it helps to have a friend hold two corners, you hold two. Kind of billow it out and let it fall down as you would a picnic blanket on a nice grassy spot. The spray is a temporary adhesive, so if wrinkles appear, you can simply lift and replace or smooth out. Spray again and lay the top down. Done. It holds a king size quilt no problem. It does not need to be quilted immediately. It does not hinder quilting. No pins need to be removed as you quilt. No threads get caught in your foot. It is quite simply the best quilting invention ever.

So why the warning? Well, I use rolls of wadding and so usually cut the wadding to about 4 inches or so bigger than the quilt before I start this process. This quilt at 96 x 96 was too big for my 90 inch wadding roll so I bought yardage of extra wide Warm and Natural and 108 inch backing fabric. My floor space at home is too small to baste a quilt this size so I took it to work after hours ( much to the bemusement of the security guards and the cleaners!).

Once there I realised that, whilst I had iron, board, pins, spray and quilt, I did not have scissors. Those in the clerks room had been used for centuries to cut the traditional pink twill ribbon which goes around our briefs and would not even attempt to cut the wadding or fabric to size. So, I just left a longer overlap to trim at home. No problem. Except, I did not measure where the quilt top would go before I sprayed the wadding - didn't need to check there was enough space - there was loads.

Too much in fact. Because I ended up with a large area of un-topped wadding with spray on it. So? So I crawled over it to smooth down the centre of the quilt a little. And this is what happened to my black trousers....

Warm and Natural might not beard but stray fibres can certainly be spray basted to clothing. Now this may be a discovery of some use to innovative textile artists but I really did not want to have to walk past the security guards again looking like this. I can tell you that the bulk of such stray fibres can be 'waxed' off your legs using brown packing tape from the post room. But the trousers will certainly need dry cleaning. You are warned!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gekkos with glitz

Isn't it funny how you can get to an idea without consciously thinking your way there?

I have not blogged for a few days because Dennis (at my encouragement) rationed my laptop access to about twenty minutes a day after I gave my self a stinking headache that lingered for days. This I did by working on it for a while in the morning then sitting on the sofa with it on my knee for no less than 7 hours and 20 mins obsessively exploring hotels trains, car hire in several countries all at once. The eye strain was worth it as the wonderful finds included this room for our Sydney stay but I shall be giving myself breaks in future!

The finding of that room (and its price) led us to have a conversation about the value of travel, particularly in terms of memories that last and how the best memories are often not the ones you plan but the surprises and small details. We began to challenge one another: First three things that come into your head from X place? For Thailand we both recalled a hotel in Hua Hin. We booked it at an agency in Bangkok and when we arrived it turned out it had opened for business that very day. It was large, brand spanking new, freshly landscaped with a glistening pool, right on the white beach... and empty save for us. We had dinner on the terrace and we were like King and Queen of the hacienda. Our only company was a family of lizards who scurried up and down the walls and amused us all night. (As did the newly employed kitchen staff who brought us our delicious food in any which order they thought appropriate.)

Then last night I wanted to read in bed but as my eyes were still sore I opted for a picture book. I opened Masters Art Quilts and re-saw a quilt I have loved for ages by Jenny Hearn which includes African symbols and set me thinking about appliqueing something to use up the African scraps I have. (These are they..... see why I need to start using them?!)

So today, eyes and head rested, I go back to work and to the computer. I sneaked a look at a couple of blogs on my reader including Nellie's Needles. She is still at it with her birds. All the same pattern all different decoration. My goodness I think - how many birds can one woman make? Not long afterwards my eyes began to feel strained again so a little break seemed in order. I wandered down to the machine and... well this little critter seemed to just come to life in my hands. He was going to be a plain gecko - just one of many African symbols - to go in a wonky log cabin for a snuggle quilt. But he kind of insisted on Liberace style glitz and so now he will be more suited to a wall.

But lizards on walls don't seem to be alone...... so I had to make another.

And here is a naked one waiting to be decorated....... I can see now how Nellie can get addicted to variations of the same!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day at home

This post is all out of order because, for some reason, Blogger, having let me drag all the other photos in this post around will not let me drag these two. So, let me start here!
Three of my birthday block swaps arrived this week:
This from Julie This from Margaret
Now, what I meant to start with was ..........This week, financially, has been ruinous. For some reason the court diary is very quiet and I have had work on Wednesday morning only. It does give me change to catch up on admin - reading up on new law, booking train tickets and hotels and writing notes for future lectures. But after two and a half days of that I decided a day finishing up lingering quilt projects might be equally productive.

So, the binding was put on the quilt for over my chairs.
The final touches ( label, beads and some securing stitching on the sleeves) was put to Salka's Quilt, my C&G wallhanging.

The quilting sleeve and binding was done on my NYB quit. I love this little quilt - it is I think my favourite out of all the ones I have made so far. The colours just make me want to stand and look at it. It is much warmer and richer in real life than it appears on screen even though the colours are true. I have fabric left so I think I might do another. Not NYB of course, but the same colours, but bigger, to snuggle under. I used an all over quilting pattern I may use on my large City and Guilds quilt - its a kind of broken coffee bean shape.

and finally, my third birthday block was from Kate
Shortly we are going into Chambers. Not because there is any work waiting for me but because I can't think of anywhere but our reception area floor to baste a 96 x 96 inch quilt! At least I should give our out of hours security guards something to gossip about when I arrive with my ironing board under my arm!

Monday, January 19, 2009

2 fingers up to the Quilt Police

Not so long ago I got pulled up and ticketed by the Quilt Police on a charge of 'puckering in a public quilt block swap'. It was a fair cop. Despite sweating blood and tears trying to make a New York Beauty block my end result was not perfect. In fact, had I not been out of my head on all the chocolate I ate to try and counteract the tears, I would never have sent it. I had no defence. And my mitigation - Oh come on its a swap, its for fun, accept best I have to give with grace and anyway I was on a sugar high - was rubbish as well. So I accepted my sentence with good grace. Fortunately the Quilt swap Judge/ hostess was merciful, despite the fact I put her in a horrible position and only gave me community service. (She did the block for me because she is competent and ever so nice, and I will do a block she trusts me on for her in the future.)

So, it was with one ear out for sirens that I took the lid of my own NYB UFO box tonight. Let me just say that at least the block I got picked up on had straight sides. Not these puppies. Their edges had curves approaching the degree of the center ones. And it appears that I am a recidivist puckerer. But you know what - if you put the blocks together and sew a straight line the seam line is straight even if the seam allowance bits are not. What is that you say? It doesn't lie flat? It does now I applied level 6 steam to it. And so the outside edges were not straight? Trim, iron, measure trim some more. And I wasn't stupid. I am aware of the three strikes sends you to the prison Sun Bonnet Sue Factory for life policy. I resisted the temptation to border it by just sewing the centre to a strip of fabric. I measured through the middle and cut to size like a good girl. Now the flimsy is a perfect 25 5/8 inch square.

And you know what, the Quilt Police are going to look at it and they are going to sit around their squad room eating doughnuts just knowing I did something heinous. But they are never going to prove it because it looks just fine!
Today was a good day for quilting whatever the quality of it...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nantiwich Fabric sale

It appears the socks come in a multi pack. The wearer brazenly presented them for viewing this morning stating, "No virtual people are going to tell me what real socks I can't wear." I can't complain, as the fluorescent feet were subsequently used to drive me to Nantwich for the fabric sale. I can actually drive myself, its just that all my energy needs conserving for shopping on these occasions. (And would you leave a man who chose those socks in a house by himself?)
In fact I was relatively well restrained and came in £2.63 under budget (Had I worked that out before we were back in the car, I would have bought another half meter!). I scored 3 meters of a 108 inch dark blue Batik backing for my City and Guilds quilt for just £30 (The quilt is 96 x 96 so I was grateful not to have to piece a backing.) Also a new cutting board to replace the one I warped taking it to Bath and a half meter of blue Kaffe Fasset fabric for binding on the quilt over my 'studio/ dining room' chairs.
Done with the things I needed I could move on to things I just wanted. As you can see my batik collection just grew.
And grew.
And grew like Topsy.All these half meters were just £2 each at the sale ( previously selling for £5) .
And this week these FQs arrived from Hannah's Room Beautiful Batiks Club.
Now if only I didn't ache from head to toe and feel so exhausted I might actually have made something today. Instead I gave in and lolled on the sofa for the rest of the day in yoga clothes and dressing gown reading The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly and eating fudge. Life is not so bad.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Band sampler 2

Now I have a functioning camera I can show you the progress on my Band sampler from this week. Under the pre-existing running stitch is some stem stitch in various scales as I work through my book.

Then I added my participation in Sharon Boggon's Stitch Explorer. This month we are working on varying chicken scratch stitch. ( I am having a hard time not calling it chicken s**t stitch - which might well describe more accurately the accuracy of mine! Still, this is a working and learning sampler, not a hanging on the wall sampler.) All this was done whilst watching TV on Thursday.

I am amazed with myself how many variations I could do in a short time.

Some of them reminded me of snowflakes so I extrapolated to this motif.

I think there is more in me yet. And maybe practice will make me more accurate.

New camera

I have a new toy! My old camera was not playing nicely. First it started to play up when on the telephoto lens. Then it got really naughty and would not even photograph stuff that was right in front of it.

So yesterday I got a new one - a Panasonic Luminix DMC-FZ28 for those who care. Paid for substantially by the cash back acquired in 2008 on my credit card, it is as near to a DSLR as I can get - I toyed with a DSLR but ruled them out on price and the distinct lack of likelihood that I would cart several lenses around with me. That said, although this has both a 27 mm wide lens and an 18 optical telephoto lens built in I can get even wider/ longer lenses and filters to add on it I get that far.

I never got around to blogging my New Year aims but one was to get into the technical side of photography more before we go on our trip, so I now have plenty of time to play. Today we went to a travel show in Manchester,which was so dire we were inside just 6 minutes and I insisted on my cash back! We spent the cash on a late breakfast and I got to use the special mode on the camera for taking close ups of food !

Then we frittered the day browsing books and drinking coffee in Waterstones and also playing with the camera in John Ryland's Library. I chose that location because I knew the lighting was difficult and it gave me chance to play with changing the exposure and so forth.

In the cafe I set the camera on the tabletop tripod and played with the burst photo setting and shutter speed trying to see how to take crisp pictures of a moving object. Of course not a lot moves in a cafe so Dennis patiently sat and waggled his hand as fast as he could for a while... there are 178 more like this.....! (No, I don't know why he hasn't left me before now either!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Band Sampler

Regular readers will know that I am a quilter ( never! I hear you chorus) and not an embroiderer... but I might well be going over to the other side. Not leaving quilting of course (never, no never...) but I have been wanting to broaden my skills base in stitching for some time. I am due to meet with StitchBusiness in Durham in February with a view to starting the City and Guilds certificate in Embroidery with them. But, with my usual inability to wait, I have been tempted to start a band sampler by the amazing sampler that Sharon Boggon has been chronicling on her blog.

I am going to work through all the stitches in a book I bought called The Embroiderers Stitch Bible and Sharon's own Stitch bible which is on her site for free. The band above is the first two sets of stitches in the book - running stitch and Holbein stitch which is (um, double running stitch.) Look, I have to start somewhere! I did this band up at Mum's last night and having done it presented it for general viewing saying ( only half in jest) "Look, its neat and has no knots. Praise me." (It's the photo that makes it look wonky, honest!) Mum sighed and said, " I think you were doing that in junior school." Well, that's as maybe but I surely was not doing it with with variegated hand-dyed silk.

I do have a dilemma though. I know that the majority of readers are quilters. Will it bore you if I start showing what progress I might make on this. I'd like to blog it but can start a separate blog for it for those who would read it if a lot of you prefer not to have regular posts on it. Opinions pur-lease. ( Take it as given I shall attempt better photos! I think I need a new camera).


Question: What's the capital of Iceland?

Answer: About £3.50

Monday, January 12, 2009


Here I am sprawled on the sofa, checking blogs before I depart for Cumbria for work tommorrow and wondering if I had anything to say myself before I packed. Enter Dennis through the door behind me,
"Look! I glow in the dark!"

I was going to look, honest, but after I had finshed looking at Sharon's amazing band sampler. So he shuffles around into my sight line and demands that I look.

"Look! I can't lose these ones. " Then less certainly "Can I?"

How girly are those?!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend progress

By last night the pieces of the quilt you saw on the design board were into a top. But that's only the first stage. The plan is to add some indigo strips, so there was some auditioning going on.

I think I prefer these cut out strips showing the fabric underneath rather than adding yet more to the already busy top.

Tonight I did some other bit and bobs and about sixish came into the lounge and looked at the walls. On one side of the fireplace hangs this quilt.
On the other is an identical rail with nothing on it. Well, actually at the moment there is a Christmas quilt on it but for the rest of the last two years there has been nothing because I still have not finished the twin quilt from the same fabrics. So tonight I sat down and thought, "Oh I am blowed if I am taking that down and having a blank wall again". So, did I go and finish the half done quilt? No of course not. I started a new one.
This is the completed top base with a cut out cartoon of the African woman under an umbrella I plan to applique on top.

As of right now I hate it! Oh well, the wallpaper is quite nice!