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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Having A Highland Moment.

I was 'talking' to Ferret on Facebook this morning, about various different parts of the country.  As we talked, I found myself looking at images in a folder named 'Inverness Source'.  And for the last half hour or so, I've been looking at some of these images, tweaking them a bit, and generally having fun.  I'd forgotten how much I enjoy doing that.  I use Paint Shop Pro, rather than Photoshop; someone recommended it to me, years ago, and I've stuck with it.  Cheaper than PS, and similar in functionality, at least at the level I use it at...

I started with a view, untweaked; my friend Alison used to live here...

Funnily enough, in the same folder, I found an image of my own view, the one I live with, here in Norfolk: they are not dissimilar in some ways...



I've probably said before, that Norfolk and the Highlands are very similar; it's just that in Norfolk, the scenery is horizontal, while in the Highlands, it's vertical.  You can see how flat our view is, compared to the incline in the Highland hills in the image before it.  I love both landscapes, but find the Norfolk one easier to live in, somehow... its openness seems to encourage me to be open, too.

But I digress... no surprises there, huh?

Then, I started playing with images...





Fun.  One or two of these, I suspect, will eventually be printed out on Bertha.  But not right now... I need to get on with my soon to be born grand daughter's quilt, and the Christmas presents I'm working on.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Progressing...



with the waistcoats... this is my mother in law's .  It is made from an African fabric I bought from Maggie Relph at the African Fabric Shop, more years ago than I care to remember.  Yes, fabric hoarding... but I am using it now.  I bought two fabrics from her at that point, and the second is being turned into bags...but more of that another time.

I wondered about how to quilt the fabric.  Quilting each individual leaf would have been overkill, I thought... so in the end I picked up the edges of the blocks, where there were irregular, curving lines running the length and breadth of the fabric, in quite an irregular way.  Right up my street, really...  I'm debating adding a bit more, though I like the irregularity of the quilting.

Finding a fabric for the lining was quite challenging; in the end, I settled for a purple commercial fabric.  As you can see, it works quite nicely.  I had hoped to avoid making my own bias binding, partly to save time, and partly because I'm not entirely sure where my bias binding maker gizmo is... but had no luck in finding anything that was suitable locally, and a trip into Norwich is not on the cards.  Fortunately, there's enough of that purple to make bias binding, as well as lining for a matching bag.  Busy?  Me?  Just a bit...

PS If, like me, you've forgotten how to make continuous bias binding... check out the video and tutorial here; sadly, I can't help you find your missing bias binding maker...I'll have enough bother finding my own!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Making Mayhem.

As you probably know, I run bespoke workshops in The Little Green Shed; read more about them here, and see a picture of A Tidy Workspace...  Sadly, it's never like that for long, as the above picture proves.  This lot is out there in preparation for a cutting session.  I want to make my MIL's Christmas present, a quilted waistcoat, and, while I'm at it, cut one for my soon to be born granddaughter.  Hence, the pile of Stuff, brought out from the house.  I can cut small things in my upstairs studios, but prefer to use the big table for dressmaking and/or cutting lots of stuff at the same time.

I really thought I had been supersmart, and brought everything with me that I needed.  No trips back to the house in the freezing cold for me...and this picture proves just how cold it was... lamb's ears (or lugs, for the Scots among us, I was chastised publicly for using the English word on Facebook this morning...sigh...).
Pins, I thought.  I don't use pins very often, but I do use them for the hats, so I knew that I had some out in the shed... I needed them for pinning the patterns together.  Wrong.  Wrong thought.  Wrong pins...when I looked, here's what I found...
...great for using with hat blocks, not so great for pinning a pattern to fabric...  That's okay, I thought, there's some on the window ledge in the kitchen (also hat related)... err...no there aren't.  Then there's some next to the sewing machine... nope (who knows where they went...sigh).  I ended up using what there was in the only pincushion I could find...
...and the dust on it proves that it hasn't been touched in Rather A While.  This tidying up lark is much over rated, you know...

So... I cut, and cut, and cut.  And ended up with this lot...

... of which more, another time.  And if that wasn't enough, I also chopped up some felt, so that we can make little bags at the Hub on Thursday, which I think we'll fill with artificial holly, or poinsettias, or something... just to make it a little different...


Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Things We Forget...



in this case, I forgot that I had printed and stitched this...until I was drifting through the photographs on my hard drive, and came across this one.  I know it's much bigger than I usually print out, and I know I printed it on canvas.  What I don't know...is where I put it.  So tomorrow, I'm going hunting in the places I have stored my work in, and see if I can find it... I wonder what else I'll find...


Friday, November 22, 2013

Lino Cuts...

are such versatile things... especially if you make them on Evolon.  I made a cutting of a fern frond; this is it with stitch;
The fabric was, of course, white; the print was made with fabric printing ink, and the purple in the background is made entirely of stitch.  But I wanted to ring the changes... so I made this one;

Dark Fern has a layer of Lutradur 30 on top of it, immediately changing the colour of the entire background.  Stitch is a variegated metallic stitch, simply outlining the fern frond.

Finally, there is this one;

This is Autumn Fern.  The piece has been transfer dyed in layers, and then hand stitched.


Just for a change, I used stem stitch for the central vein of the leaf.  It's interesting to see what a strong contrast it makes with the long stitches delineating the edges of the leaf, and the small stitches creating the background.  On reflection, I think a back stitch might have been better for the delineation task...but it's fine as it is, I think.

All three pieces have been stitched on cotton wadding.  I think, myself, they're closer to embroideries than to quilts, but technically, I suppose they qualify...what do you think?


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

There's something very comforting...



...about strip piecing.  It's almost mindless.  I've been making covers for all sorts of small appliances (see the Etsy shop for more images, if you're interested); this one is for a Kindle.  I like the front, but the back's even better...

I do love working with bright, cheerful fabrics, but they can take over in a small piece if you're not careful...so just as well to find fabrics that all sing, so that they can harmonize together!

PS Straight lines...?  Hmm... sort of...


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I shouldn't be allowed...



...to write blog posts when I'm feeling sorry for myself, my apologies for getting a bit maudlin yesterday, and my thanks to the kind people who responded.  Since I have so much work floating about, and not enough room to keep it all, I'm listing some of it on Etsy at what I think are good prices; I want them to Move On Out There, and keep other people happy.  And, of course, letting me buy more wool, to make more felt... it's a virtuous cycle.  (Well, okay, that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

This is the first of them; Dreaming The Butterfly.  I love making felt, and hope to spend more time doing it in the near future.  This piece is made from hand dyed wool tops, hand stitched with hand dyed perle threads, and then mounted on transfer dyed Lutradur XL.  I'm pleased with it.  It's a small piece, about 8" by 6.75" all told.

I also want to make more work associated with butterflies.  Butterfly is one of my totem animals; it represents change and joy (read more about it here if you're interested).  Butterflies seem to have been following me around this year.  For some reason, I spent most of the summer encouraging them to get out of the conservatory, even though there are no flowers or tempting things for them in there, or anywhere near it.  And the garden has been full of them.  Next year, I'm going to plant flowers for them; I've already added a buddleia to the border at the bottom of the garden.

In this particular piece, though, the butterfly is still in its cocoon (the only bit of wet felting in the piece), and is dreaming, under a hot red sun, of what its life will be like as a butterfly.  We can all dream happy dreams about the future now and again...I hope this piece will remind someone of how important positive thoughts are...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Basket Case?

Baskets are on my mind at present...mainly because I'm having a Domestic Goddess moment...or two... I'm tired of being so disorganised.  So, instead of a clutter beside my chair in the living room, I now have two large baskets.  One of them is full of wool tops, yarn and threads, all of which have been untangled (so there!); the other has all sorts of bits and pieces, including the things I'm finishing off at the moment, mainly phone cases and felt things like little brooches.  And an increasing amount of hand work.  Propped up beside them are a couple of large lino blocks, which I intend to carve over the next day or so, to make hand printed Christmas cards, and perhaps little books, too.  So, I'm tidied; just need the discipline to make myself tidy up every night before bed.  I'm thoroughly looking forward to being able to find things.  Well, okay...some things, sometimes...


As we get towards the end of the year, I find myself wondering what's next.  After a lot of careful thought, I've decided not to teach at Festival of Quilts next year, though I have signed up to do a couple of shows with Grosvenor (Spalding and Harrogate, if you were wondering).  Basically, I just can't afford to subsidise my attendance there.   I'm seriously thinking about giving up art for public consumption.  It's great being considered inspirational, and all that, but it doesn't pay for paint.  People tell me they love my workshops, take the information away and ... nothing happens...  I've given this my best shot, and perhaps now, it's time to recognise that I've failed.