Friday, July 31, 2009

Playcation starts today!

Hip Hip Hooorah! My playcation has started!

Given that we are going on a little, tiny trip in November (ahem) we decided not to have a traditional summer holiday this year. So instead I am having this next week at home and then working a week then having a week off for Festival of Quilts. This week has been dedicated as my playcation.

If I were in Tunisia for a week I would be lying around reading and relaxing until I got bored. then I'd be trying to find some activities to do or an airconditioned place to handpiece, and in the evening I'd be going out to eat. So I am going to replicate that without the sand and sunburn. So I intend to catch up on reading - starting with this coffee table book ( the first chapters of which have me itching to go and piece!)

then I shall play with some new equipment and techniques, including cracking open this new kit.

a few local restaurants will get some custom out of us and I hope to be having fun.

Oh and don't forget that on the 1st August (Californian time) will be the grand reveal of the Twelve By Twelve Passion quilts. Here is a sneak preview of mine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Felt samples

Ok, you asked for them - you get them. Here are all my samples from Wingham Work.. oh and my new stash of wool tops. This CD rack which slots on my Ikea bookshelves -come-cupboards was sitting empty due to my pathetically small CD collection. But look how pretty and useful now :)
I took luggage lables with me to record what the samples were ( Lesley said it was the City and Guilds showing through!) Only I forgot the sellotape so I nipped to the village shop. The only sticky stuff they had were plasters - but they do the job!In no order whatsoever here are the samples. All bar one are on on dissolvable fabric so they can be wet felted later.

Rainbow merino wools laid down horizontally then in swirls on top.
Herdwick wool - course and hairy!

Two samples made with carded bats and in the case of the top one a bit of rainbow blend merino.

A background of merino wools with a little white and turquoise silk throwsters waste on top.

Merino wool and silk rainbow blend base with more merino rainbow on top in a grid. This was actually my first attempt.

Merino blend.

Silk throwsters waste. Its all about texture! This would not wet felt all by itself but its fine needlepunched and could be used with merino wool.

Same applies to bamboo. Its hard to see from the photos but there is a sutble difference in texture between these neutral fabrics and of course they can be dyed.

This one is soy fibre. All these three white ones are beautifully soft. I am going to try a cushion based on patchwork pices of various neutrals.

Blue Faced Leicester Oatmeal english wool with a bit of bamboo incorporated. The real colour is a bit nore grey-brown.

Shetland humbug wool with merino rainbow blend circles. The humbug wool is a mix of whites to browns like the sweets

More blue fasced leicester oatmeal with merino wool spots

Some Manx sheep ( I forgot to note the names - the wool is a much warmer brown than the oatmeal) with strips of merino wool. This was probably my favourite english wool and I tried to buy a 200g bag of it but when I got home- no bag. I think I must have dropped it in one of the sheds when I was weighing other stuff and had several in my arms. Rats! Now I have to pay postage to get more.

Herwick with silk nepps ( didn't like using those they are like bacon bits crumbled up - get everywhere!)

Now are you fed up? that will teach you to ask for sample photos!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


As you all know I am a devotee of the African Fabric Shop. So I was delighted when proprietor Magie asked me to consider working with her on a commssion to design patterns for her to make kits with. This wallhanging Kinshasa is to be the first one. Magie still needs to make her own version up and get the kits together so I am not sure when it wil be available to buy but you can be sure I'll let you know. I was able to visit her on the way home from Wingham Wool Works on Sunday and collect fabric for the next pattern. I am not going to get rich from these kits but I am delighted with the recognition. (And being able to quilt with her fabric for free is not bad either!)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wingham Wool Work

Yesterday I and Best Quilting Buddy went for a Try Before You Buy day at Wingham Wool Work which is just off the M1 near Barnsley/Rotherham in Yorkshire - about 90 mins drive from home for me. As you will see from their website they sell all kinds of fibers and wool and we were thinking in terms of wet felting and needlepunching with embellisher machines to create backgrounds for stitch. You can also spin if that is your thing. The deal is that you can go and try - without any obligation to buy, the only condition being that you have to try lots of fibres and make samples and not sit there all day using one wool to make an entire wallhanging for free. Fine by me as I was frankly baffled by the choice on their website. Although I did buy variety packs for plain merino wool tops from them mailorder as soon as I got the Babylock.

I knew that they had this kind of three sided greenhouse thing with power supply and kettle for us to work in and this great decking area to have lunch on or indeed to bring the machines out onto had the weather been better. I anticipated that we would be given a selection of little sample bags ( they mostly retail for just 50p) to play with so, when I was first shown into this work area - which had a few bags of scraps lying around - I was a little disappointed to be told, "As for fibres - anything you can find you can use." But I did not understand.......

First I was taken to this shed - the Rainbow blends shed- and told to take what we wanted to use. Really? Anything? Let me at that gorgeous blend of peppermint and chocolate wool with white silk then. Then we went to this shed - normally out of bounds to customers - which houses silk throwsters waste and fibers like bamboo, soy, tencel etc and told to rummage and see what we wanted to try.

Next door was the English wools shed of which these bins were only a sample. We were quite taken with the Blue Faced Leicester Oatmeal and the Shetland Humbug for backgrounds

And finally the dyed merino wool shed. Again, help ourselves! Amazing.

We were only there from 11.30 to 5 so didn't actually bankrupt them but the ability to work with the fibres and see how they felt and what they looked like together was very illuminating and clever marketing as I shall now buy all my stock for felting from them and I am of course recommending that you do the same!
Although we didn't have to buy anything from the shop we all knew I was never going to manage that. I indulged in some pick and mix blends from the shed, ( you fill your own bags and it gets weighed at the till) some English wools and then some sample packs of luscious mullberry silk tops. The shop as you can see is packed with stuff to choose from including Olive Oil soap which I had not seen anywhere else.

My only criticism was going to be that the woman in the shop was extremely rude, until I realised that she was not rude so much as she was probably from Barnsley. Barnsely being in Yorkshire and Yorkshire being a place where a spade is a spade and closing time is in twenty minutes and by God are we going to make that clear to all people still shopping! Yorkshire forthrightness is an endearing trait when you get used to it but, being from the 'wrong' side of the Pennines it can still surprise at times! Yorkshire people also have a reputation for being stingy but such an attribute cannot be placed on Ruth and Alan Gough who let us roam free for the day and didn't even charge us for broken embellisher needles! Thank you, if you are reading.
Would you all like to see photos of my samples?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How long?

How can it be the 15th July when I last posted?
And still this is not a proper post. Just to say I am still alive, although for the last few days I was too dog tired to tell you that and yesterday I had a headache which I thought might be a brain aneurysm (spelling?!) and would finish me off. (Ok, after a few hours, I took 2 paracetamol and had a sleep and I was fine but it really, really did hurt at first!)
Still, I have been doing things and buying things and tomorrow - when it is no longer way past my bedtime I shall schedule several posts to tell you about it all.
So don't go away just because I did, will you?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New blogger

I 'met' a new blogger today, Pat, on that Internet circle of life. She is a Masterclass student with the people I do my Embroidery course with, Stitchbusiness and she stumbled on my blog and commented with a noreply address so I got her email from Stitchbusiness and now we have had a little email chat and ..... oh, I do love the Internet!

She has a brand new blog - can you go and say hello to her for me?


On Sunday I went to take down the exhibition we had to do of our City and Guilds Certificate in Patchwork and Quilting pieces. The external verifier had seen them and that marked the completion of the course.
And what a damp squib it was. My tutor was in the room but never even acknowledged me as I went in and out. Dennis was with me,because we were on our way to Cedar Farm and read the letter left on the table which basically said - you've passed now give us £22.50 for a certificate saying you have passed - but he never commented on the ending of the course.

At Cedar Farm I sat there with my blueberry cheescake muffin saying rather pointedly 'Congratulations to me I passed my course' and got a smile and a 'Yes' and not much more. Oh well, it was only a little certificate.
Later that day Dennis said, "So when do you get your results?"
Huh? " I got them.You read the letter - I passed!"
He looked confused. (How many times have I written that line in this blog?!)
"Yes but when do you get your marks or the examiner comments or something?"
"I don't. That's it"
Pause. Confusion turns to shock. "They could have made a bit of a thing about it then. I would have done but I thought there was something else to come."

Quite. I mean I don't need a party but a handshake or a verbal congratulations, or even a 'goodbye and thanks for paying us for three years', would have been nice.
It is also symptomatic of the quality of the provider I was with that when I went to pay for the certificate I was told that I was not in their records! ( The records being a file with scrappy bits of paper in. I was told that to record the fact I had paid for the certificate I should write my name on the sign up sheet for the diploma.). As you know I have moved elsewhere to do my embroidery certificate and am much happier with them.
Anyway - as you can see the Courthouse steps quilt is done. I took your advice to use blue thread and it worked a treat. It is called 'Evidence of things not yet seen', from the quote from Hebrews Ch 11 and for reasons I will tell you if and when the things not yet seen ever become seen! It is hanging over our stairs at present.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shock yourself thin

I may have stumbled on a new diet technique. Do you remember how my inner spoiled princess was planning to stay in the apartment at Ariki Lodge is Rotorua New Zealand, in November. mostly because their website said you could get a Floatplane to collect you from the beach at the bottom of the garden?
It is now time to book activities and so we reserved this tour and were asked to comply with the legal requirement for small planes to inform them of our combined weight. So I did, using the stones we in the UK use for people's weight.

Well, I was sprawled on the sofa last night, watching TV, blog browsing and contemplating eating a small piece of Millionaires shortbread I got free on the train. You know how much better free food tastes. I knew I wasn't hungry but that stuff - its all sweet and sticky and crunchy....A diplomatic email arrived from Volcanic Air. They have a per seat limit of 136 kilo. If either of us was approaching that could we please tell them.
What? I might already be too fat to fly in a floatplane? That is disgusting. I need never to eat again. Never mind shortbread. Water and water for me for a week or nine. I sit up straight and use an online converter to translate kilo's to stones. the limit is over 21 stone. I could carry on board a small factory's output of Millionaires Shortbread and I would not weigh that. Why does she think I might?
I check my original email. I told her our combined weight was 38.5 stones. It is in fact 26. (And no I am not telling you the apportionment between us. I had to email back and confess that my brain was so starved of the essential minerals that come with soft toffee that I could not add two figures together. Her reply email laughed all the way across the nations back to me. Aparatently we are well belwo average weights.
But I still did not eat the shortbread. Just in case.
PS Did I tell you I am getting collected on a floatplane from the bottom of my garden.....? (Canadian readers for whom this is like getting a bus please do not comment - Inner Princess can get nasty when her excitement is dinted).

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bonus blog

I thought that I had missed my opportunity to post before I left for a three night trip to London. But look! Free wifi on the train. I need not go cold turkey from the Internet after all.

Of course I have no camera with me so I cannot show you the disgracefully large pile of empty packets of sour cream and onion pretzls sitting on our table. Well, they are free and delicious but Dennis has confiscated the rest before I make myself sick. As this train is one of those fast swaying ones it is likley that I shall make myself sick any way by using a laptop but look! Free wifi. Oh such a happy bunny I am. For I can send you a link for the pretzels. Surely it is for the dissemination of important information like this that the interweb ( as one of my recent clients called it) was invented.

Dennis has a fun few days planned. He is going to the Royal Opera House tonight to see Barber of Seville. I am going to stay in the hotel room and watch TV. He is going to watch cricket at the Oval, go to St.James Park and feed the squirrels, shop and the British Museum. I am going to teach for three days.

But stop! Before you begin to paint your placards in protest at my unfair situation I do get a half day off on Thursday. I shall be going to see Aboriginal art here, African Art here, having a cup of tea and cake here and buying some pretty Amercian magazines from this shop just next door. Later that evening we shall eat together here.

Meanwhile I am on a train in the middle of summer, with sheet rain running down the windows, and lightening all around. I can see about three feet into the fields at the side the weather is that bad ( its 4.30 pm) and the train is now going very, very, very slowly indeed. Nope. Has come to a standstill. I fear floods. But look! The wifi still works! And there is no reason to think reading blogs is going to make me sick at this speed. I might need some little snacky pretzels if we are going to be here a while though....

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Colours of Africa Challenge

Regular readers will know about my passion for South Africa and my love of the children there. You may be interested in participating in this challenge to assist in raising funds to build a nursery in South Africa, based on the theme of Rainbow. All it requires is a A4 textile piece made December 09 so it is not too onerous. (A4 is roughly equivalent to US letter size).
Although South Africa can provide a luxury holiday destination many of its children still live in poverty. We spent some time staying in the townships outside of Cape Town and met this little boy whose name we never discovered. We call him Joe Slovo boy after the name of the township in which he lived. He was fascinated with the camera and we let him take this photo of his local shop.

This challenge will benefit another area in the Cape and will help to raise funds to move the Chris Hani Creche from a shack like this to a solid building. Please do participate of you can do so. further details are at the link above.

If you make a piece please email me a picture and I will put together a gallery post.

Sketchbook Sundays

Recently we have initiated a little habit called Sketchbook Sunday. It starts with me piling a basket high with art stuff and inspiring books and then we drive 14 miles to Cedar Farm which is out in the country in a village called Mawdsley, arriving about 11.30am. Most Sundays we simply spend two or three hours in the coffee house at this art and petting farm complex, sprawled on squishy sofas playing in my sketchbook and having coffee and cake, or in my case one of their many teas and cake. Dennis brings a book.Because we hit it at Sunday lunch time it is quiet and I can take up as much room as I like. And I like to have a whole sofa with my feet up and they let me.

The complex has lots of inspiring and amusing little things to see. (Spot the Indian inspired crazy patchwork cushions they have all over.)

I particularly like these bad hair day chickens.

Some Sundays we splash out and move over to the courtyard cafe for lunch. If it's nice you can sit outside, but nice in the UK can be a temporary we like this little table set under a cover just in case. If you look carefully you will see the window belongs to the of the art shop and so you can eat and look at Trimmit beads at the same time! And the food... well, judge for yourself!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rain blessed rain ( and other good things)

Finally the hot, muggy, sticky weather has broken and we have rain. The last few days I have been so sweaty and uncomfortable that doing anything has been a huge effort. Dennis was, however, a little uncharacteristically unsympathetic when I was moaning about being hot yesterday. He pointed out that if I had not been lying on the couch for hours watching Andy Murray crash out of Wimbledon ( NOT a surprise!), whilst at the same time balancing my heat producing laptop on my stomach and playing with Squarespace, I might be cooler. He needs to reminded that husbands who are right should be seen but not heard!

Anyway - the postman was not too hot to bring me the gorgeous mini quilt above from the Spring Fling swap. I did the gekko centre and he has been travelling around the world to Canada and back. Today I hand quilted the one I need to send off. It took 5 hours and you can't really see what I did. This is why I machine quilt. I can't show it until the recipient has it so I will instead show you this little mini quilt which was made during the week as a a sample. It is meant to be the bottom panel of a larger pieceAnd then the last good thing for today. My Mum just rang. She stumbled across an advert in a magazine. Did I know the Soweto Gospel Choir were coming to Liverpool in September? NO!! I love that choir. You may know them as the African Choir at the Nelson Mandela Birthday concert in Hyde Park. I now have a front row centre ticket. Just one. Dennis declined to come and will voluntarily miss a fantastic show. See - he is not always right!

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Here is the short version. I stuck a pair of dry clean only beige trousers in the wash. Now they are two inches shorter. I was working in Southport, my list 'went short' ( lawyer speak for 'the Claimant in my day trial had diddlysquat evidence to back up his claim and the day lasted 35 minutes'), so I thought I'd pop to Wallis to see if they still stocked the trousers.

They did. Other shops also stocked a grey suit, two pairs of trousers , a jacket, a jumper on sale and three pairs of shoes. Advice: It is vital that you read those washing instructions
But it's the shoes. I was in the shop for ages. Its the kind of shop were they have a huge stock of good quality stuff and they will bring you as much as you like to try on for as long as you like. So I tried a lot and bought two pairs of court shoes for work for which I was desperate and one pair of more casual shoes which I hope will be comfortable for Round-The Worlding in. One pair of the court shoes were slightly too big and so I bought some half sole insoles which made them fit perfectly. I had each pair on for a good ten minutes each. This on a baking hot day when I had already been walking around for three hours. That is to say, my tired abused, no doubt swollen feet liked them and they fit with and without popsocks on.
So how come three hours later after shower and Indian takeaway I show then to Dennis and I can't get my feet into them?Literally. Even without the insoles And how come this morning I can get my feet into them but only with popsocks on and not bare footed? And how come this only applies to the court shoes and not the casual pair? Does an intake of turmeric affect your foot size? I so do not want to have to drive 40 min each way to take them back.