Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Following on from the fridge....

Girl turkey carving knife..

Man turkey carving knife...


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas fridge

Please understand, I am in no way complaining that, while I was at the gym, my husband braved the traffic to go and collect the Tesco click and collect order. I appreciated that. What I am saying is, on my return:

Man fridge unpacking: " There's a problem. There's no room for the Turkey and wine."

Girl fridge re-packing

All in. But yeah, I might have bought a turkey that is a smidgen too big for six people....


Monday, December 17, 2012

Filofax Frenzy

My friend Linda on her blog recently dubbed me Filofax Queen. I am happy to have that title but I think I might deserve to be an Empress after today. In my family it is a standing joke thay my sister gets bargain after bargain and everything I want to buy goes up in price the day before I go shopping. Well not today.

Little Sis, read and weep.

First, Personal Malden Filofax now unavailable save through Filofax France for €99, on ebay, grand total of £20.

And it comes with a filofax pen and sticky note insert.

Then, later, late night shopping in Liverpool, I stumbled on a TK Maxx and remembered that the Philofaxy community mention it as a place for bargains. So we enter with me saying, "Of course, there won't be any now I am in here." Wrong.
Long unavailable A5 red Amazonia, RRP £125. Mine for £39.99. Its a beautiful deep yet still slightlu orangy red. Like an african sunset.

And better, this piece of gorgeousness not made by Filofax themselves but with compatible rings and tshe softest of softest leather for £14.99. I put the ruler in to check the ring spacing. Is this not the happiest filofax ever seen?

There will be a video about this on Philofaxy's next webfinds in a hope more information about its provenance can be found. (ie.... Are there more?!)

Oh happy, happy day!


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

What I use the Filofax tower for...

To answer the questions left in commentS in my previous posts, this is what I currently use my filofaxes for, although of course the delight of them is their flexibility so who knows when this might change. Working up from the bottom of the big pile of A5 models first we have...

1. Chocolate Classic. Usually lives at work and houses notes on new law and procedural rules.

2. Pink Classic. Still being set up in its new use as a wet studio Filo containing dyeing and printing instructions and swatches of fabrics I dyed with notes of how I did it. I am taking my time setting this up as the true wet studio ( as opposed to the ramshackle temporary arrangements of buckets of water in the dry studio) is not going to be built until next month!

3. Saddle brown Cuban. Ah, actually after I took this photo I had a swap around, which is why I had all these together in the first place. It was holding sketchbook pages. It is now empty but about to go to work to hold case notes.

4. Chilli red Cuban. Currently holding a test set up for work which, as it is working, will be rolled out soon across three filos. This has a diary, case notes, protocol checklists, telephone lists, meeting minutes and the like. Now I know my system works it will expand as extra items in those categories are added. So the two Cubans will probably contain case notes in two categories ( excuse me being vague but I cannot discuss the detail of my work online) project notes such as material relating to a new book contract I am about to sign, and the other items will go into the wine Holborn. My colleague at work calls me a Filofax nerd. He is right so I take no offence!

5. Ochre Malden. My studio planner for my textile art life. Time recording, project planning, calls for entry, expenditure, inspirational cuttings, article ideas etc.

6. Grey Malden. My blog and website planner and journal.

7. Purple Malden. This also had a swap around. I had set it up to contain art materials and sketchbook pages but it wasnt pleasing me so I took the art stuff out and combined the pages with the sketchbook pages that had been in the thinner Cuban.

8. Mustard Finchley. Contains notes and website references, clippings, gallery leaftlets etc on contemporary african art which is an interest of mine. It may well expand to non african artists in due course.

9. Caramel Finchley. Currently my upgraded health filo. This was in the small and cheap lineburst but as I put myself on a serious training and weight watching programme I gave myself the reward of more space and more leather! It has a training diary, notes on exercise routines and general health research, yoga, psychology of health, a goals and reward section and a food section for listing health benefits of certain foods, their weightwatcher points and health characteristics.

10. Jade Finchley. Home Filo. Lives in the kitchen. Contains shopping lists, lists of recipes I want to try from my book collection, a bread making journal, and sections with to do lists, shopping research, plans and designs etc for the areas of the house still awaiting rennovation. I maintain this needs a list of all 79 different lightbulb models we seem to require in this house and which one fits which light fitting and how many spares we have on hand/ need buying. My husband says this is a step too far and we can just take the blown bulb to the shop. This is why I am going up and down the studio step using a torch at the moment.

11. Wine Holborn. Awaiting 2013 to come into fruition when it will go to work. Currently already full with a page on a day cream diary hacked from a bound Letts version.

12. Plum Osterley. This is where it kind of gets funny. Or super organised, depending on your view point. This is basically now my 'transit filo'. With so many filos if I have a few spare moments to say update my blog ideas list or to read about african art I often don' t have the right filo with me if I am not at home but I like to use them in cafes between home and work say or in the odd lunch time moment. So, this week I altered the set up of this slightly as it was underused with a commonplace journal, reading and Love Film lists and a bound journal tucked in the back pocket for general web browsing and magazine reading notes. Things I want to follow up on. It also now has a 'capture section' which is basically blank paper for mind dump notes and a transit section which is a space for me to insert pages taken from any number of other filos if I want to work on them but not carry the whole filo. I then have a section with five sheets of every type of paper I use in all my filos ( and an index list to remind me what I use for each section) and copies of all my homemade inserts. So yes, this is my filofax to organise my filofaxes! I also added a financial section this week and now its pretty full. I drive to the backdoor of my office so there is no problem carting an A5 with me. ( the driving to the backdoor explains the need fr a setious training and weightwatching programme!)

Turning now to the small pile, again bottom up.

13. London Line burst. This was so cheap online I bought it for the inserts and it was my health filo. Now storeing spare personal papers and likely to be used to archive this years diary.

14. Mushroom aston. This is my planner with monthly weekly and daily pages, to do lists and notes. It did have finances but I moved those to the Osterley in anticipation of a 2012 downsize to the Regency for daily use. It will probably get used to hold used 2013 pages as I go through the year.

15. Orchid Aston. Had a brief spell as a gratitude journal by my bed but that never really worked. Now housing most of the 2012 day on two pages I got from France. You cannot fit a whole year of these in a personal so some are loose inside and not on the rings and some are already in the ...

16 Compact Regency. All set up and ready to go as my 2013 planner. I can't wait for New Year to get to this new set up.

17 Pocket Chameleon. Used as my purse with extra credit / loyalty card holders, finance pages for noting spending and plain paper for shopping lists and general mind dump notes.

So, as I say, all used and justified ( if a little weakly in the case of the personals!) When I meet the first of my health goals my reward will be a grey Osterley. I have a little time to work out what to use that for...

Any more questions?!


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Filofax confession

So far, I have hidden my out of control obsession passion for using filofaxes by keeping all my blogging about it as guest posts on the Philofaxy blog. But maybe, it is time to come clean.....The great thing about the Philofaxy blog is that it makes having an out of control desire requirement for owning multiple leather binders normal. The good folks over there are very social and like from time to time to meet up to discuss their Addiction organisational skills. The tradition is that the attendees on such a meet up bring a filofax or two and a pile is made...

Like this
Except there was no meet up. They are all mine. Ooops. (And the A4 was still at work!)

Two are set up for pending 2013 use which means that two current ones will be retired as storeage binders, otherwise they are all in full use and so perfectly justifiable :)

I would name all the models except the only people who would care are the Philofaxy people who can do it themselves!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Joe Slovo Township

My latest map quilt is finished. It is called Joe Slovo Township. it is 39 x 50 inches.

Some time ago I visited this informal settlement which is on the edge of Llanga Township in Cape Town. There we met a small boy , about three years old, in a sunny yellow T shirt who kept grabbing at my camera. Unlike all the other children who loved to have their photos taken in comical poses and then look at the result on the digital camera screen, this child wanted to be behind the lens. I showed him how to do it and he happily took photos of all his neighbours' houses. Good ones at that!  I always remember the child we know only as Joe Slovo Boy.

So when I was thinking of what the next quilt in my maps series would be, Joe Slovo came to mind. I began to read up on the history of it both before and after our visit. These shacks lie along side the Settler's Way, the main road in from the city to the airport and in the run up to the FIFA Word Cup attempts were made to improve housing for the residents. Cynics would say to make the road less unattractive for passing tourists.
Of course, to build better housing on a densely populated area of shacks means people have to be moved out so building can begin.  The plan was to remove the residents to transitory accommodation in Delft some 30km away. This was strenuously opposed as there was no transport or jobs in Delft and a High Court case ensued. When some building work was completed there was controversy about who was being allocated the housing. I often wonder what, in all of this, happened to Joe Slovo Boy.

The details of this story are  written on the city blocks part of the quilt which was then darkened with Neocolour Crayon and stitched over with freemotion quiting in the shapes of shacks. The writing is therefore a little more obscured than in my previous map quilts but still readable close up. The background is stamped and scraped with screen inks, the road painted with textile paint. Most of the fabrics for the shacks are either my monoprints of fabrics from the African Fabric Shop. The fence is paint and abacca tissue. The rail road and river is couched embroidery thread.

Of course, now it is finished, all I can see in it is its faults...!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

Sometime ago I decided I needed a challenge. Having had some very nice comments on my guest post on the Philofaxy blog, I decided it was time I went beyond the fall-off-a-log type of blogging that Blogger enables and work out how to self host a site on Wordpress with all the associated anayltical and tracking bells and whistles one can add on. I had great fun researching and applying and figuring out how best to run my new project into the future and some days ago scheduled the resultant blog Plan•Create•Succeed to launch today. Today Philofaxy is hosting a post on the process I went through setting it up.

With Plan•Create•Succeed I hope to introduce my art quilting friends and readers to the people who share my love of filofaxes because although you have different passions I think you all have a lot in common. On Plan•Create•Succeed I will be writing regularly, to a fixed schedule ( I said I wanted to challenge myself, remember!) about some of the things I love; art,creativity, goal setting, confidence building, personal development, creating food, journalling, planning and organisation, design and generally living life to the best.

As I say, I always planned for the first post to go live today. I did not plan for yesterday to be the day of the funeral of my beloved Granny. She died at the age of 91, strong in her faith and content to go to the arms of her Maker. Endings are always sad but it can be comforting to think not of a cessation so much as a handing on of a baton. It amused me and heartened me to learn that Gran had planned her own funeral in detail, having had several consulations with my cousin's husband who was the minister she asked to lead the service. Apparently, she went through several drafts of her order of service, right down to specifying the version of the Bible I was to read from. She will never see Plan•Create•Succeed but I think she would approve of the planning and organisational elements of it!

( Certainly when I went back just now to get the link to my guest post, I see there is a certain irony to my opening line!)

Of course, planning is a good thing, but so is spontaneity and being open to new things. Given that Gran's claim to fame was that as a child in Edinburgh she knew Sean Connery when he was still known as Tommy, I think she would been happy that we creatively embellished her plans with a bagpiper at the end!

I hope you will pop over and subscribe to Plan•Create•Succeed. I very much want it to be a community site so if you have opinions on what you would like on the site let me know. After all, it seems there is a family history of revising plans until they are perfect!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Broad Changes - Camila B

A little while ago I was invited to submit a quilt for the next collection from Fibre Artists for Hope. As I would be their first international member I was honoured to be asked. The title is a play on words, with 'Broad' referring to the US vernacular for woman as well as the theme which was women who were or are active in social justice.

I have chosen a portrait of charity worker and media pundit Camila Batmangheldigh who is the founder of the charity Kids Company, whih was a bit scary as this is the first portrait I have ever done. The quilt falls with in my new series using maps and handwriting as background and shows Camila, who is of Persian origin, in her trademark colourful flowing robes against a map of South London where her various facilities are located. The handwriting tells the story of Camila herself, of her chairty and what it does and gives information about child poverty in London. The quilt is 35 x 45 inches.

You can read more ( much more!) about how I came to this series over on the Tea and Talk For Two blog.
Fibre Artists for Hope currently have a collection about racisim which is touring South Africa and a show touring the US called American Spring which responds to the shooting of Traynor Martin. I am honoured to be asked to participate in this show.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Do not sew like an Egyptian

 I do not mean, do not aim to have the skills of the Tentmakers of Cairo

I mean, do not machine quilt whilst
(a) pressing down hard on a heavy quilt because you cannot be bothered to walk downstairs to the laundry room and get your Mashingers and
 (b) moving your neck in imitation of the tortoise necked dance that went with the Bangle's song Walk Like An Egyptian.

If you do this you will shear the C5 and C6 vertebrae in your cervical spine.

 This will trap the median nerve. This will cause neck and shoulder aching, stiffness down the outside of your arm ( not unlike when the muscles go stuff after a travel inoculation) and tingling in your ring and middle fingers and thumb. You may also get a bit of tingling in the pads of your palm as the ulnar nerve has compensatory damage.

You will then be forced to give some of your quilting money to a nice physiotherapist who will stick acupuncture needles in your arm to desensitise the nerve (you will not feel a thing but do not try it with your machine needles at home) and she will then manipulate your neck very gently and give you some exercises to do.

You will just be thinking what a nice lady she is when she will tell you not to go near your sewing machine for three weeks. Yes. Three.

Ask me how I know all this.
Actually, I knew it before but I did it anyway.

Looking on the bright side of life, at least we are going away for a while anyway and this is now an opportune time to get the machine serviced!

Friday, September 07, 2012

I am working on: A Happy mess

I cannot show you the quilt I am machine quilting at the moment because it is to be a suprise for a freind who reads this. Albeit she is not going to see it until April, but I want it off my To Do List.
I can show you that I have ben doing why my Husband calls Making a Mess.
I will let him off as he refers to the process not the end result.
I have been scraping and stamping with screen inks again to make a background for naother map quilt.
Mess  it might be, but it is a happy mess.
I cannot wait to start work on my wet studio though.. current wash up facilties are less than ideal.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Musical tribute to Thomas Woodcock

Sadly my Father in law Tommy Woodcock passed away peascefully on 22nd August at the age of 87. he was from Ballymena in N. Ireland and was a great musician. He taught many children and was a conductor and trombonist with teh Curragh Silver band for 62 years. I encouraged my husband to arrange for members of the band to play around the graveside which they agreed to do. they played Tommy's own arrangement of near to the Cross and faded out leaving only the Trombone playing.
Poignant to say the least.
The weekend after his death was Black Saturday, the traditional marching day of the Royal Black Instrituion a senior Lodge to the Orange Lodge. The lodge near to my parents- in law would normally do a short local march before heading off to the main event but this year they chose, entirely off their own bat not to play in the locality but to march only with a single drum tap as a mark of respect.
I appreciated that but Tommy's life was about music  not silence. So I asked the Pride of the Maine flute band to come and play directly outside the door as a tribute. The result is in the video below. I apologise for the breath sounds... the arranging involved some running up and down the hill to ensure my MIL and husband were at the door to see it!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Go Team GB!!!!

Fandabulous night!

Now, if you have a dream, go and work to make it come true!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Happy birthday to me!

I have been a very lucky girl. I already had a special gift of a Finchley A5 filofax that came all the way from California a little early, but now, in addition to an afternoon tea, some glass sundae dishes cheques and vouchers for my favourite beautician, I have a couple of books...

And thats not counting the Kindle vouchers! If I don't blog for a while you know what I will be doing!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

New ceramics

Last weekend I returned to Potfest which is not relating, as I first thought, to illegal substances, but to ceramics. Set in the grounds of Hutton-in-the-Forest just outside of Penrith, this is a collection of open sided marquees housing artists working in a wide range of styles.

We picked up a couple of pieces.


The large plate is by Francoi├že Dufayard and the bowl is another piece by Tony Laverick to match the one I bought last year.

I love the way his bowls look totally different if you turn them around.



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Verticle basting

When I started to quilt it was the basting step that nearly finished me off. I could never get how to put big basting stitches in without the backing shifting. And I could never understand why, if you were supposed to put big stitches in without it shifting, you could not just put the little stitches in right off.

Then I tried saftey pins. I spent a whole afternoon in the basement of a quilt shop putting the darn things into a king size quilt on their large table (and making several runs back up to the shop for yet more pins). Then I spent even more time taking them out everytime the machine foot was about to hit one. It did not make for free and flowing machine quilting. I was told that long armers would machine baste your quilt but that cost money for something you would rip out.

Then I discovered you could pin the backing to a carpet and spray baste with 501 spray. Much better. Apart from the fact my knees are much older than I am and disliked the kneeling. And it always required my husband to help float the top over the sprayed wadding and that inevitabley involved a mini argument about who was going the wrong way. And then we moved house, put the same carpet all through the house and got fussy about anything that might mark it.

But fear not. I now have the perfect solution. I am very sure I am not the only one to do this but I don't recall reading about it anywhere. So for newbie quilters googling basting a quilt, here is my method.

1. Pin the backing wrong side up to a design wall putting the pins in the very edge of the backing which needs only be a little bigger than the top.

2. Spray with 501 spray.

3. Hold two corners of the wadding andmatch them to the top corners of the wadding much as if you were going to hang it on a washing line. The wadding sticks from the top as if you had pegged it on a line and you can just smooth it down over the whole backing.

4. Spray with 501 spray.

5. Repeat step 3 with the top

6. Remove the pins from the edges of the wadding and voila! Perfectly basted wrinkle free quilt in five mins flat.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reveal day

The Twelve by Twelve Mythology quilts have been revealed today. You can read more about my Urban Myth quilt here.

Apart from participating in the group challenges I have also challenged myself with the 20/12 series to make my own quilts fit into a series by themselves and I am very pleased how it is going so far. When I was doing Lisa Call's Working in a Series course I began to realise that setting parameters is as limiting as I thought it would be, but that in fact limitation can be freeing. It takes some of the decision making away so that you can concentrate energy on the core of the piece. Yet it simultaneously heightens the challenge to have to fit the new work into the series. I don't know yet what the final two 20/12 subject matters will be but I don't think anyone will be suprised to hear me say I have a good inkling what the colour scheme will be....

And yet even with set parameters, you can break the rules and still stay in the spirit of the rules. I had set out to make wholecloth quilts but Urban Myth has a seam in it. Ok, only one but I still broke the rule! Who knows what I might rebel and do with the next quilt? What I do know is that I can't wait to find out the challenge word and get going with it!


Monday, July 09, 2012

The land that time forgot

Dennis keeps our back garden looking good. But, beyond the obvious garden is a hidden piece of land on which the original owners had a shed, greenhouse vegetable plot, compost bin and several fruit cages. It was functional but it was also clear that the sellers, who were 'senior' had, in recent years been unable to put the time and money into that plot that they had earlier. We had originally intended to build a studio on that area so it didn't matter to us. But then we build the studio in a loft conversion instead and Dennis planted potatoes one year. But apart from that, the land has remained out of sight and out of mind. And while we were not looking..... Monster triffids began to grow!

So on Saturday I decided to wage war. I have No Clue when it comes to gardening so I worked on the Total Destruction approach. It didn't matter if I didnt know what they were because they were coming out anyway. I did recognise the potatoes when I pulled them up and the pain was a good clue to the nettles. I made a conscious decision to leave the four foot high thistle where it was because it didn't seem right to dig it up the day before The Dour Scot (aka Andy Murray) played his Wimbledon final. Plus it was a big spiky, slightly hairy, brute of a thing and frankly I was a bit scared of it.

But, after an hour and a half with my bare ( Ok, bare except for gardening gloves) and the bluntest pair of shears in Christendom I think I was, overall, winning.


I quite enjoyed myself but then I have motivation. I am aiming for something a little more like this. It will be a while yet I fear but one day,a hammock I shall have!


Sunday, July 08, 2012

It made me smile...

The sinks in the ladies' toilets at Dobbie's Garden Centre near Liverpool Airport. Isn't it nice when someone makes an effort to be fun and different?