Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Christmas Crafts

What a smashing day Country Roads Quilters had with Debbie Mitchell yesterday when we created various Christmas craft items as well as enjoying beautiful, home-cooked food and great companionship.  It couldn't be called a workshop, more a funshop.

My favourite item of all we made was this frosted candle holder with stencilled stars and a tree silhouette painted in acrylic paint.

I was concentrating so hard on book folding that I didn't even notice that Debbie took a picture of Trish, Fenella and me (and our rather messy table).  Those are some of Debbie's paintings on the wall.
Using felt we made three dimensional tree, bell or bauble-shaped decorations.































All that concentration and book folding resulted in this candle ornament.  I have a tea light in it for the photograph but that will be replaced with a battery-operated light for Christmas, I don't want all that work to go up in smoke!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A Busy Day Now the Rain Has Stopped

This morning was still a little murky so I hit the sewing straight after breakfast.  The quilt in the foreground was already finished and this morning I finished the other two with the exception of hand stitching the binding on the reverse and adding the labels.  These are all for Project Linus.  They will be collected at Country Roads Quilters in January along with the many, many others members have been generous enough to make.
While I was having lunch there was a knock at the door and a guy standing there with a big box, exciting eh?  It was the roses I ordered from Peter Beales in September.  Fortunately, the day has brightened up considerably and it is perfect planting weather.  All that digging has left me ready for a nice cup of tea and a slice of courgette and lime cake!  Tomorrow, assuming it continues to be dry and bright, I shall plant tulip bulbs around the roses and then sit back and wait for Spring.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Stitching Weather

Although the recent weather has not been as bad here as in other areas of the country it has still been staying in and sewing weather.  
I caught up with some of my purchases from Festival of Quilts, firstly making this gorgeous Yuki bag from Japan Crafts.  You might notice it contains a few chocolates, ready for Christmas!
I then worked with the Donegal tweed fabric I bought from Fabric Affair.  My original plan had been to make a double sided throw but instead I decided to simply bind the length of tweed and use the squares for a different project.  It's so soft and warm so if the weather gets worse I know where I'll be!
Next, some secret piecing and stitching, I'll share more of this in January.
And finally, I started another Project Linus quilt.  It's currently a pile of pieces waiting to be pressed and joined, hopefully I'll share a picture in a few days.
Here's hoping the weather is not too bad where you are and that you have avoided storms, flooding, snow, earthquakes, tsunamis, wild winds and torrential rain and managed to keep safe, warm and dry.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Mummy's Stitches

Just three pictures today. 

I have now removed all the "papers" from Mummy's quilt, except those on the very edge.  I have been struck with how much Mummy's stitches have varied.  I know my own stitching varies, the stitches usually getting larger as the day goes on.  

Mummy could be described as a perfectionist in many things, and was a beautiful watercolourist, yet her stitches could be quite erratic.  

A friend at Country Roads Quilts this week summed it up by saying she was "just getting the material sewn together".  The quilt is typical of the origins of quilting, made up of what was available and stitched together to provide covering and warmth, quickly.  I remember Mummy saying she didn't intend the quilt to cost her a penny.  Some hexagons are tacked with up to three pieces of cotton so I think she must have been recycling thread as well as fabric.  

I can imagine some of the stitches done at leisure, some in poor light, some maybe in anger for some reason.  My sestra wondered whether we should remove the papers in order in case there was a message in them.  No message, as such, but those stitches seem full of life and meaning.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

We had a wonderful holiday in Mexico to celebrate 25 years of unwedded bliss, Al and I would both go as far as to say it was a perfect holiday.  We completely relaxed, enjoyed good food and the glorious setting of our hotel on the Caribbean Sea.  Now we are home and it is definitely Winter and I have been sewing enthusiastically.  

I have finished the koi wall hanging that I've been working on for a while.

My sister came for a visit and she has recently started patchwork.  Her first major project is a wedding sampler quilt for her daughter.  The wedding is in August 2017 so Jane's going to be busy.  While she was here we had a good look at Mummy's quilt.  You might remember this is an English paper-pieced "Grandmother's Flower Garden" quilt.  Mummy was determined that it was to be all recycled fabrics, in the traditional way.  I had thought I might do something dramatic with it but when we laid it out on the guest bed it looked just right so I am simply going to finish it.

My first job is to remove a lot of the papers to reduce the weight and make the quilt easier to work with.  I say "papers" but they are actually more of "cards" being cut from Christmas and birthday cards and art and education supplies catalogues.  The fabrics are a real mixture, a lot of furnishing weight and the plain is all curtain lining.  Fortunately I also inherited a box full of extra hexagons and fabric.  Alan and I have been sitting in companionable silence, with our thoughts, unpicking Mummy's tacking stitches.

Some news resulting from my sister's recent visit is that she has decided to join me when I visit Japan next year.  Golly, it's been a few years since we've shared a bedroom!!  We're both really excited about it, or rather, Jane was excited, until I explained about onsen etiquette!!  Still, she'll rock the karaoke experience while I'm hiding in the corner.  And, speaking of holidays, here's a quick reminder that only a few weeks ago we were enjoying temperatures of 30+° C rather than today's 2°C.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Travel Update

Decision made.  I am making a return visit to Japan!

I had a long chat with Jill Clay of Festival of Japan when I was at Festival of Quilts in August, and since then I have studied the website, asked a lot of questions, considered my finances and tried to persuade dearly beloved that he would enjoy a textile-based trip to Japan!  Al decided against the trip, I think he would rather make another visit to New Zealand, but I really want to go, and Jill's itinerary sounds fantastic, plus she only has small groups, so I've reserved my place on the Autumn Maples and Textiles visit in 2017.

I'll have thirteen nights based in Kyoto with a host of activities and visits that I'm sure I don't have the connections or the language skills to arrange for myself.

It's a long way off and I don't have exact dates yet but when I do I will decide whether to extend my trip and visit friends in Tokyo.  I've also sent the details to my sister, now she is no longer teaching she has time to travel and I think she might be up for the trip.  Golly, could we share a bedroom again, it's been about 50 years!!?

Before then, however, Al and I have had 25 years together and it's time to celebrate.  We're soon taking off for a lazy holiday in Akumal Bay, Mexico.


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Gentle Stitching

Today I have begun work on a printed panel I bought in Japan in 2009.  Just gentle hand stitching, very relaxing.  I am in the process of deciding to make another trip to Japan, hopefully next year, so the contemplative sewing is perfect.  Hoping the weekend has been good for you all. It's back to school for children (and teachers) this week.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Journal Quilts and Omiyage

I had a lovely gift from my good friend and co-conspirator in Country Roads Quilters, Fenella, the other day, a delicious "omiyage", a gift.  The little bag, the design of which is daffodil or trillium, is made in "our colours" - Fenella's green and my blue, and it contained a blue and white crystal, sodalite, which is perfect for me at the moment as it is believed to promote creative expression and also diminish sleeplessness.  Thank you Fenella. I think, made in Christmas fabrics, these little bags would be lovely on the table instead of crackers, I wonder whether I'll get round to it for 2016?
It is fast approaching the end of the month and the end of the middle phase of the Journal Quilt challenge, quilts for May, June, July and August have to be published by the end of August.  So today I've done the final binding and taken the photographs.  Here are all four "green" JQs together:


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Festival of Quilts 2016 - Confessions of a Needle Buyer

Okay, I guess it's time to own up, especially as several of you dear readers don't seem to believe there were only needles and a thimble in my FoQ bag!

At The New Threads Quilt Shop stand you could mix and match Aurifil threads to your own requirements.  Although Aurifil do their own sets there is always one colour or two that I don't really want so I jumped at this opportunity.  How strange, I ended up with a box of blue and white thread!!  I have the 12wt lana (red reel), 50 wt (the orange reel ends) which I use for almost everything and I bought two reels of 28 wt (the grey ends) for hand work.
Next to Japan Crafts and the lovely Katie who was doing a roaring trade with bolts, FQs and kits.  I bought these two fabrics to make a reversible skirt
and this very cute bag kit (and admired my self restraint).
Next, an unusual purchase for me these days, a quilt kit.  I'd seen this Blue Barn fabric from Moda on The Bramble Patch's Facebook page and fallen in love with it.  
The next purchase was more of an impulse buy after I'd seen a friend's beautiful bag pattern and fabric from Fabric Affair who sell Donegal tweed.  I bought a length of tweed and a set of nine squares to make a double-sided and very warm and cosy throw.
Finally, I visited Caroline Hill and bought these wonderful eco-dyed fabrics and threads as well as a beautiful scarf.  I know I could do things like this myself but I don't seem to get round to it and her pieces were so gorgeous I just couldn't resist.
Oh, and I bought some needles too, but no thimbles, I've decided to attempt to make one out of leather using my Japanese one as a pattern.





Manipulating Fabric

On Saturday I was fortunate enough to do a workshop with Cynthia McNair at Angela Daymond's studio near Spalding. As well as creating some wonderful textile art, Cynthia is the powerhouse behind the Ailsa Craig Quilt event in Ontario, Canada.
The workshop was on manipulating fabric to create trees and although I didn't get very far I did have a lot of fun.
Here is Cynthia helping me with the background to my piece, based loosely on Fjordland, NZ.

Others made more progress, here are pieces by Jackie and Dorothy so you can see where I'm heading.

I think it's going to be fun to work on this piece and I'll post an update or two. Now, as we approach the end of August, I must get my four "green" journal quilts finished, photographed and posted on the Contemporary Group's Yahoo site.  Did I tell you I visited the Group's stand at FoQ? It was lovely to meet other members and to see some of their JQs. It was interesting too to see different interpretations of the "rules" for this year's challenge!