Monday, December 31, 2007

It must be new year again

So here I am standing by a bonfire blogging. It must be New Years Eve. Just like last year we were quite late due to last minute quilting. This time it was a sample for next terms class, and hopefully a book. It's become urgent because in two days I am off to Prague for nearly a week flying back the day before my next talk. I then need to start teaching this class a couple of days later. Not much time for preparation really. I just hope I don't forget everything while I am on holiday.

So to prepare for the holiday I am trying to post a photograph from my phone. If it works I will be able to use it on holiday, if not I know not to waste my money transfering that much data internationally.

As well as working on the class sample and my other not nude I've been trying to get two quilts to America. Well technically they have made it there geographically but not legally as they are stuck in customs. Sound familiar? They have been stuck in customs since the 23rd and that is with a seemingly competent courier. Hopefully in the next couple of days they will start moving again. It does help having the show (Road 2 California) working with me and the courier to try and rescue them in time. If the quilts do make it they will be the first ones to be appraised. I have no idea what to expect but I am sure it will be interesting.

Well I guess I ahould try sending this before the text frenzy starts. Hope you are all having fun in whatever way you wish. Best wishes for the New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's that time of year again


Why is it that this is the time of year I have to make a new nude. For some reason it just has to come out now and can't wait any longer. This time I have two that are nagging me so this is just the first I hope. This piece has been building slowly for a while. I had the image I wanted to use, I love the shapes in this, but I couldn't quite see how to get the focus where I wanted it. I've played with a lot of different crops and light effects, and this is what I have ended up with.

The colour of this one also caused me some problems, I knew what it felt like to me but somehow none of the colours was conveying that. This group came about when I was looking for something else, but had the life and zing I wanted so finally I was able to get this one into fabric. The quilting will probably have to wait a few days so I can have a go at the other design I have ready to go. I don't want to wait too long though as I have changed how I have assembled this one, and it is only held with temporary products. Once I have quilted it it won't need anything and I am hoping that this method will give me a softer finish. Alternatively it will all fall apart before I get is finished and be a complete nightmare.

My final dilemma is the title of this piece. I thought it was going to be called Dance, but I think that might be a bit flat. Flamenco has been suggested as an alternative, which seems pretty good, but the quilt is refusing to tell me which it prefers. There is a poll to the right if you would like to tell me what it says to you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Not one but two time wasters.

Well technically neither of them will waste your time. They are both educational and one helps others, but they have both distracted me so much I had to blog to tear myself away.

The first is an excellent blog with a tutorial on making shawls. I asked her some time ago about her shawl and she has very kindly posted full instructions on making your ow. Having made scarves in a similar manner it was interesting to see what changes she had made to get her shawl which looks a lot more like fabric where mine look like loose knitting. The secrets seem to be the stitching and lots of silk. What a shame I will have to put silk in my shawl. I can't wait to have a go. Have a read of 'All Things Quilty' by Jeanne McBrayer.

So you're back you have escaped that little distraction then. I hope you found it interesting and inspiring, I know I did. OK next is a word game. I have been looking at a game for the Nintendo DS that is supposed to teach you new words, but I knew all the words on the box and that worried me. So when I found a link to this site on a blog I had to have a go. Free rice is a game you can play with a fairly clean conscience as you are earning rice to be donated to poor communities as you play, and the words are a lot more interesting than the ones on the game I was looking at. I have found a few where their definition seems a little odd, but it is usually pretty clear which one they intend you to pick. Have fun and earn some rice. The rice is paid for by the advertisers to the site. The adverts are delivered in a nice way, they are below the main game area so you see them but they don't disturb the flow of the game.

Now I have rescued myself from these distractions I can get back to the nude I was working on yesterday. I am hoping to have the top finished today, if I do I will try and get a picture up later.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another Christmas Past

Well I might not be a huge fan of Christmas, but I would have to admit today has been pretty good. I think it helps seeing family a secton at a time. It gives you a chance to really talk and catch up with a lot less risk of disagreement. Also having less people makes the meal a lot easier to organise and you can reach most of the dishes.

I was especially thrilled with one of my gifts. I have inherited a fountain pen. That is pretty amazing in it's own right but Having known it's owner it is very special, amd it is ver similar to the one I had been planning to save up for. How cool is that. I cant wait to get home amd give it a go.

If you are into playing family games at Christmas I can heartily recommend 'The Big Taboo'. It is basically a posh version of charades, but it is a lot of fun and the things you have to describe are quite well balanced for different spheres of knowledge. if you are in the UK Toys 'R' Us are sellimg it for 6.99 which I thing is very good value for money.

The acid test

So geek that I am, I have a new gadget. I blog on the move enough that we felt I could finally justify my Nokia Communicator. It's a phone, but not as you know it. Now does it blog?

Merry Christmas to those who do. I hope everyone has a safe, warm, and fun day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Some successes

Well my quilts have headed off to the show. I won't know until the 27th if they are there safely but I am trying not to worry about it. It was a good collection the driver actually seemed to know about the paperwork. He checked everything for us and found an error, which was great as it will hopefully save US customs from getting upset and stopping my package. I am also pretty certain he won't have marked it as a permanent export so just maybe it will make it. On the other hand it wasn't cheap. It cost 140 GBP to ship 2 quilts to America on a 3 day service. The problem is the show only fives you two weeks for them to arrive and there are a lot of holidays in the delivery window. I think they are only actually accepting quilts for 9 days and most shipping options aren't that precise. Still at least it will be a lot cheaper coming back.

Yesterday I had a very interesting chat with the author of "The Morello Letters", Duncan McNair. He was signing books in Borders bookshop at Brent Cross and I was trying to find a member of staff to help me. I guess he had been there rather a long while but it worked, he sold me a copy of his book, which is actually pretty funny. Anyway, it was interesting to talk to him about publishing options, he said very much the same things as the quilters I have talked to. I find it interesting that the interaction with publishers is much the same for very different styles of books. I had assumed that the illustrated instruction books would be harder to work through than a novel, but apparently not. I am sure there was a time when I would have been a little intimidated by a published author, but having spoken to everyone I've come across this year seems to have made them more human. They have all been very down to earth and very friendly people. I hope Duncan does really well with his book, and will write many more.

I've also found time to play with my new thread. the metallic did indeed just work. I haven't even changed the needle. I then tried the holographic film thread, which I think is called Glitter. I wouldn't normally even try this sort of thread, I know it is trouble even with a metallic needle. Being lazy and prone to tempting fate I though I would just try it on the longarm with the standard needle. Would you believe it, it worked. It amazingly well behaved, it would be happier with a thread net and I had to rig a way to hold the spool horizontally but other than that it's great. I am so thrilled. Now I just have to plan a quilt to use it on.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hmmmm

I only had three goals today,
  • Be home to receive a package of threads
  • Join the Library
  • Post two quilts
Now that doesn't sound too bad does it. Even better I had called the company shipping my quilts earlier in the week so they are expecting them and would have all the right paperwork. Well they might have if the helpful staff member had been there. Selling me a cardboard box was beyond those who were covering the shop today. The concept of a 'temporary export' and 'special paperwork' really was quite out of the question. So I left with quilts in hand to try and find someone else to ship them. I do have an account with DHL but I am not too keen on using them again. So after much research I will be setting up a Fedex account tomorrow and hopefully they will go then. Of course that is quite a long way from ideal, I had other plans for tomorrow, but I have to get these quilts to Road 2 California.

While we were messing around with trying to find a courier and arrange all the paperwork (there seems to be more each time I do this) I entirely missed my chance to join the library. I am starting to think it just isn't supposed to happen. I keep planning on joining but I've only once made it to the door and then found them to be shut. Well I guess they appeared to be shut as I assumed it was Wednesday, the day they are closed all day but just as I arrived home I realised it was actually Tuesday so they should have been open. Maybe it will be better for having to wait for it. I am so pleased to have found a close library with a good selection of audio books, I am sure I will keep trying until I do manage to join.

There were bright spots to the day though. I did manage to be in for the postman, and I got a huge box of very pretty threads. Having declared I would never use metallic threads again, Deloa let me try some on my machine. They worked like a dream, so as soon as I could I ordered some. I have a wonderful blue and a purple, I can't wait to play with them. I also ordered some holographic threads. They were sample prices and it says they will work on a longarm. Now, I know Superior don't usually lie, but I would be very cautious about using this on a domestic machine. Still I have it and the suggested needles so we shall see. I am hoping I will have time to play on Saturday, but I don't promise anything.

I was also very impressed with the customer service lady at Quilters Newsletter Magazine. I ordered my subscription online three years ago, and I am fairly sure I typed my address correctly. Somehow it and my name have been wrong all through my subscription. Every so often it has annoyed me enough to try and get it corrected, but no luck. That and the fact that the renewal notices don't apply to overseas (relative the the USA) subscriptions had convinced me to let the subscription lapse. However I gave it one more try, and I am reassured that this time either it will be corrected or someone will be looking into it. They were also able to offer me a good renewal price so they kept my business. I guess that shows the power of good customer care, even when something has gone wrong.

So with things looking up and plenty to look forward to playing with I think it is time for bed. Take care of yourselves, eat well and keep warm over these long dark nights. Those in the southern hemisphere enjoy the sun and make sure you send it back to us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Woo Hoo, I have ticked my box for success

OK, you all know I am nuts right? Well when I started my own business I decided that for me success meant being able to buy a festive goose. Odd perhaps but it makes sense to me. Well today I have done it, I didn't feel being able to was enough I had to actually manage it and this year it was proving tricky, but I have my goose. An odd but at least tasty trophy that won't need looking after for long.

Of course I have to ask, what defines for success for other people? I know I am not the only person with strange ideas, as Duncan Bannatyne knew he had made it when he could buy his family ice cream, but I would love to hear about other peoples strange goals.

Busy but boring

Sorry I am rather quiet but I've been doing lots of very boring things recently. Holiday apparently means time to catch up on paperwork, and the business side of the business. Not the most thrilling things to blog about. I don't think a photo of the piles of paper would really improve it either. Still it had to be done and I am glad I've been getting things sorted. It is amazing how much I seem to spend on printing in this supposed paperless world. I also find it amazing how few printers will give me a quote. I've asked seven I think and got none. Do they want work? My local printer will do everything I want but I know they are quite expensive and I don't really have money to throw away, but if they are the only ones who will give me a price I guess I have to go with them. You know it is bad when you start thinking of having an American company print posters and leaflets for you as they will quote. I think the shipping will wipe out the savings so for now I will stick with the UK.

I do have several quilt projects to work on over the holiday (well what is left of it) I have two exciting nearly nudes I want to do, maybe I will start drawing the pattern today. Only problem is one won't tell me what colour it should be so I can't actually start cutting fabric. maybe by the time I finish the first the second will be more chatty.

So rest assured as soon as I do something less boring I will share it but until then good luck preparing for the festive season.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Party


Before I rave on about the party tomorrow I had to show you a bit of this quilt. I took this quilt on as my emergency quilt. I had filled all my before Christmas bookings when I got a request to do this one extra, for a deserving lady. Well When people ask nicely and tell me it is a well deserved favour what can I do? Even better the customer was quite prepared for me to finish if on the 24th and she would have sat up all night to bind it. Even better she told me to d whatever I fancied and I was sure she meant it. I loved working on it, the plaid is so soft it feels great to work on. The real treat was handing it back. She was so pleased to have it back so soon and she did like what I did. Her reaction is why I do this job, and believe me after Christmas I will be thrilled to show you the whole quilt. I was very pleased to get the squares, it let me try out continuous curve. I found it was easier than I remembered it and I think I will have to try and find more to practice on, as I might really like this technique.

So the Christmas Party. It will be at Patchwork Corner 10am to 4pm tomorrow. There will be sale fabrics, demonstrations and lots of goodies to eat. If you have ever been to a shop hop there you will know the drill, if you haven't and you are in the area come and say hello. I will be demonstrating a quick shopping bag, with ridiculously over engineered straps. they are made from the webbing I use for car restraints. I have a lot of it so you too could have a very strong bag for your shopping.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Two person quick quilt.

Last Thursday Robin decided to come up to the shop with me. He then was foolish enough to show an interest in a new range that had just arrived and before I knew what was happening he was making a sample up.

The quilt was done in a very leisurely six hours. with many distractions, well it did coincide with my Thursday night class. Most of the quilt is made from cheater fabric, which is why it is quick. It would be even faster if you weren't fiddling to try and get a perfect number of half square triangles on each side. The pattern that comes with the fabric is for a 3x3 center section, but we decided that was too big for a sample, so had to recalculate everything for the 2x2 size.

The only real patchwork in the quilt are the corner stones in the wide border, and if you are making up this pattern and you want the narrow green stripes in the border make sure you cut the squares half an inch bigger than the pattern say to. We added the outermost red border to help preserve the the green strips as well, we needed some where to attach the binding. The binding is really clever, it is made up of the half square triangle fabric you have left over. When you cut the strips for the inner border you can only use alternate rows as you need to leave a seam allowance, but the scrap is the perfect size to turn into binding. It looks really good too.

Friday I quilted it. I didn't enjoy the meander much, I never do but we like to use it on things like this as a lot of people can do it easily and it shows what it will look like the way they are most likely to choose. Personally I would rather have done tight 'Decadent swirls' but that is just me. In the half square triangles I got to try out a continuous curve pattern. It went pretty well for a first attempt, and inspired me to try a small cross hatching in the middle of the faux applique. It's a good effect and I suspect I will now use it again. Having a grid stencil does make it a lot easier.

The corner stones did stump me for a while but eventually I settled on continuing the border design with quilting. To do this I traced the leaves from the border fabric onto Golden Thread paper and added extra motifs as required. I then pinned the paper into position and stitched through it on the line I had drawn. It's a nice way of doing a fancy quilting patter with a fabric like this as there is no artistry required just trace things to fill the space. Each corner has a different design and I suspect if you don't know how it was done it would look pretty clever. The best part was that the design was simple enough to do as a continuous line on three of the corners.

If you would like to see it in person this quilt will be on display this Saturday at the Patchwork Corner Christmas Party.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nearly holiday time

It's nearly time for me to have some fun and work on my own projects, and boy am I looking forward to it. My last customer quilt before Christmas is on the frame and will be finished hopefully tomorrow. I have a shop sample I want to get done this week as well, but then I am free until the new year.

I have two designs drawn up and ready to work on which I am really keen to get started on. I want them both to be in my solo show next year so I need to get them done. I also want to make another whole cloth or three. OK so I probably won't get all of those done but I would like to do at least one, and I like to have a project on the frame and one in the sewing room so I can swap between them. I have to have some sewing I can do whilst watching the Christmas Lectures don't I. I might even find other things on worth watching while I work on the off frame pieces. I can't wait, but somehow I don't mind that I have work to finish either. I guess that is the bonus of enjoying what you do right?

A quilt I sold last year is here, it was funny to see it again on a blog. It's rather nice though. Something like an old friend calling you out of the blue. It's good to know it is being enjoyed.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Leafy quilting

Here is another quilt I worked on recently. It was a fun diversion and allowed me to check that my problems with the shirt backing weren't just to do with having a pieced backing. Isn't it good when a customer is also a friend and you can say things like that. I really like the idea that the maker will be doing the artistic quilting while I just put in the background to hold it together. It is an interesting way of making use of a longarm quilter and I enjoyed it more than basting the quilt. I am sure I shouldn't say this given my line of work but I do enjoy enabling people to do their own quilting. I hope I get to do more pieces like this.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Back in the blogging world


Well I have finally finished the quilt that has been talking up all my time for he last week. It was a great learning experience, but I didn't entirely appreciate it's timing. My tip is not to use recycled shirt fabrics for both the front and the back of the quilt. Using it for one seems top be fine, but both is 'interesting' to quilt. If you really must then I suggest a large needle and a very fine thread. Still the owner seemed very pleased with it and I think it looks great. Hopefully after Christmas I will be able to show you it.

Other quilts I have been working on are these three for Project Linus. I'm afraid I can't tell you who made any of the tops, I don't know, but if they are yours do get in touch and I will happily credit you.

I take tops and backings and supply the wadding and the quilting. I like doing Linus quilts as I feel more able to play on them. I know that the most important thing is to get them finished although I have to admit I have had these a long time.
The first is a t-shirt quilt and I didn't feel it wanted much from my quilting. I did use a bright variegated thread to add some life to the quilting, but I kept the design simple, 'decadent swirls'. I used this pattern on the nine patch quilt as well, as my quilting wasn't going to show.

The blue and green quilt I really had fun with, this is the sort of top I love to find in my Linus package, what a fun piece to quilt. I tried out some new (to me at least) border patterns, and found some a lot easier than I expected. I was especially pleased with the one in the dark blue outer border, of course that doesn't show up too well. This design is one I developed from a design taught by Deloa. In the plaid border there is a similar but I think less well executed design. I was less sure of it so I put it somewhere it wouldn't show so much. I don't think the small half squares show up too well either, and I was very pleased with them too. They have a different style of flower petals on each fabric but share the same center. I hope the new owners will get a lot of of them.

If you would like to help with making quilts for Project Linus you might like to join the Quilt-a-thon at Patchwork Corner next year. We will be quilting for 24hrs to make as many quilts as we can. I will be at the shop with my longarm to get tops finished, and we will be using every quick technique we can think of to turn scraps into quilts. All help will be welcome, even non sewers can be put to work ironing or making tea. If you have scraps you could donate those would be appreciate too. It will be held on the weekend of the 6th July, more details will be posted as we get closer to the date.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Saachi Online Gallery

Oh my, I can't believe it's been a week. I've been very busy, if only I could get these 48hour days that people keep talking about. Still I think it will calm down a bit by the end of the week, so hopefully then I will have time to put some pictures up here.

I was called today by a friend who applied the toe of her boot to my rear. I now have a gallery page on the Saachi web site. I've been meaning to do it for a while but it seemed a very big step so I had been putting it off. Apparently a toddler has just had their work accepted into a gallery after their mum put it on the site, if they can do it so can I. I've not put anything into the showdown yet, but I will and I guess I should make use of their sales system too. Still step one complete.

Monday, November 26, 2007

You know you have too many quilts when....

You come down to find you have post. You correctly identify that the long package is a rolled quilt and that as it is from an exhibition it is probably yours, but you have no idea which one. 'Tropical punch has just returned home after a trip to many shows. On it's own I think it is a great quilt, unfortunately for me it was in competition with a lot of absolutely amazing work and looked rather plan and boring with them. I guess you live and learn. Rather annoyingly the silver quilting on it is perfect tension. Now how the heck did I manage that when I can't seem to do it anymore.

Thanks to everyone who has sent in congratulations for me getting into Road 2 California. Has anyone else had their envelopes? Who's work will be playing with mine this time?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Two fatties

Bounce bounce bounce, two fat envelopes arrived on my doormat today. 'Nude with Rope' and 'Guide Me' will both be off to California.

Excited, me, well maybe just a bit.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

So far so good

Well so far no more skinny envelopes. It's getting scary every time I hear the post. On the other hand I did get a copy of Quilting Arts today. December/January, so I guess I need to chase up my October November one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Skinny Envelopes

Well it looks like I am the lucky recipient of the first of the skinny envelopes from Road 2 California. I think the post has been super efficient as I wasn't expecting to hear anything until the end of next week. This first letter was for Decadence, who will not be going to California now. Still I can at least hope the others might have got in, and the rejections were sent out first. Realistically it is probably that the others are just taking their time in getting here.

I do like the way Road 2 California reject entries. They seem to send out the international rejections first so if the post is being bad you should still know about the same time as the US entrants. It reduces the risk of false hope which I really like. Also the letter itself is nicely worded. I know it will be a form letter, but it is a nice form letter. I can't put my finger on it but somehow it makes me feel good about having tried to get in and I am looking forward to trying again next year. Actually I think I do know what it is, it doesn't even imply my work wasn't good enough. It is more a case of it didn't add to the range of quilts they would be able to show the public in their very limited show. They seem to take the blame for it not getting in, and I think that is lovely. This might be one of those moments when I don't feel a need for truth. I am sure they don't have time to write a long review of each piece so this might just be the best way to do it.

Now I will keep my fingers crossed for a fat envelope next week.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New member of the family

You may remember some I told you of the demise of KDU, my Ford Capri. I've been looking for a replacement ever since. We quickly discovered that they are now a lot more rare and expensive than the last time we bought one. On the other hand the good ones are better than any I have seen before, but somehow they weren't quite right for me. Last Sunday we went and saw another one. It was nice, very tidy, a few little niggles but very plain. It didn't grab me. So much so I didn't test drive it, I just listened to the back end, which is fine. Then we had a very long discussion about whether we should buy it. I knew it made sense, it's a great car for the money, but I wasn't enthusiastic, I wanted to go and see another one. Oddly Tet decided to make an offer and after a little haggling they reached and agreement. OK so I had a new car, but still it wasn't lighting my fire, still I drove it to pick up the deposit. Wow! What a difference a test drive makes, she is a doll of a car. Having picked her up on Wednesday I have already done about 250 miles and I love her. She is a 2.8 V6, silver blue and very shiny. I walk up to her in car parks and am surprised that such a shiny car might be mine. The only thing is I have no idea what her name is. I hope she tells me soon. Pictures will follow soon, but I will need to give her a wash first.

Deloa Jones

So where to start, lets break with tradition and start at the end. Tomorrow I will finish my longarm training for now and say bye for now to two ladies who have inspired me and encouraged me massively over the last few days. I can't believe how much I have got out of these lessons and I am so grateful to Jax for arranging it. I am really going to miss being around other longarmers and drawing up new (to me at least) designs. I will be looking forward to the next time we can do it.

OK so some background perhaps. Some time ago (really quite a long time) some woman sent out an email about getting some teacher over from America. I knew there was a lot I had to learn about longarming so I signed up for a couple of classes, it was pricey enough that I wasn't going to do them all but cheap enough to take a gamble. At that point I had no idea who either of them was (I really am terrible at names) but it sounded interesting enough to take a chance on. I choose two classes on borders and sashing as I find those especially uninspiring, and thought I might add the feathers class if it had spaces nearer the time.

Over the intervening months I got to talk to Jax a few times and started to put some details on what was happening. As I have one of the smaller frames I arranged to lend my machine for the classes to use. I got some idea of all the juggling required to pull off an event like this and I came to appreciate that Jax is a very organized and reliable kind of person, just as well given I had said I would lend my machine. I still had no real idea where it was happening or who this teacher was. I should add this is entirely down to me failing to take in the information, I know it was a t a longarmers studio, what more did I need to know, and if the teachers name hadn't leaped out at me the first time it wasn't likely to afterwards.

Monday this week I delivered my machine. That was scary, until I got there, it really has had a holiday. A custom built well heated studio with lots of space and a dog to guard it. If anything it is probably better off than here, I hope it will still work for me when I bring it home, we all know that post holiday feeling. The real surprise came on Friday when I went for my first class. Longarm quilters are amazingly friendly and welcoming. I was very nervous of quilting in a classroom setting, I am not keen on being watched, but somehow with these people it was OK. Everyone was learning and supporting everyone else, how much would children learn if we could have this environment for them?

Deloa is a wonderful teacher too. On Friday she really had her work cut out. There was a big group and we kept getting distracted or getting ahead of her. Each time she would gently pull us back into line and get us under control. She was amazingly patient when I had a complete blank on how to do one design. I was getting very frustrated, and I am quite sure I was not being a good pupil, but she persevered and eventually I got it again. Deloa is one of those teachers who will keep rephrasing something until she hits the right way for you. She is also a dancer so can speak the rhythm for you which I found very helpful. I also found that when I got a design right it felt much like getting dance steps right. It flows and has a wonderful feel to it. I could use this as a way to judge if I has got it right.

It was fascinating to watch all the different variations people came up with of the designs, be they intentional variations of not. By the end of the day you could start to see patterns in how people changed the design, thinking about it, they put their own rhythms onto the dance of quilting. Having finished one lesson I really regretted not taking the rest of them I didn't feel I needed more all over and block designs, but having seen how many border and sashing designs we learned I wish I had.

Friday night I stayed in Newbury (yup that is where Jax is, I knew I would figure it out eventually) and to make sure I didn't get lost I was escorted to my hotel and then taken to a bookshop with Deloa. What a treat, browsing books with two people with similar interests, what could be better. I have to admit that a trip to the bookshop is my favourite Friday night out anyway, but this one was special, and of course there were different books in this one as well. Jax really does go above and beyond the call of duty, she invited me back for dinner as I was on my own in an unfamiliar town. I am sure n her position I would have been desperate to get some time on my own after having so many guests for so many days, but not Jax. The best I could offer in return was some free graphics software and a quick lesson on scaling images. It was a fun and enlightening evening.

Saturday was part two of borders and sashings, and had lots of new people for me to meet. Equally charming and helpful. I think Saturdays class was better behaved but less keen to stick to the designs we were being shown. Each design was modified to by each of us to suit us, sometimes deliberately and sometimes just by being drawn by another hand. Sorry Deloa, but I think I learned almost as much from watching everyone else as from the teaching itself. Something I did notice on both days is that Deloa is the sort of teacher who answers questions even when the answer is in one of her other classes. I like that in any teacher but I think it is especially important when the teacher has come a long way and there is no way for the student to take the other class. Personally I find it a lot easier to spend money with people who are generous so things like this are very important to me.

So after two days very successful training I headed home for a break before Mondays course on Thread Play, where I found a shipment of books had arrived. I skimmed through them then noticed one was by a Deloa. Odd I would have thought that was quite an unusual name, but maybe not, then I turned it over, and who do you suppose was looking back at me from the cover? Yup it's the same Deloa Jones. How strange is that? I really had no idea this was one and the same person, but I will probably remember now. I guess I should take it with me tomorrow and see if I can persuade her to sign it for me.

I am really hoping that Jax and Deloa will team up again to bring more training to the UK. I would understand entirely why they might decide not to, it must be a lot of work, but It's been great and I would love to think it would happen again. They have done wonders for my confidence and understanding of quilting, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Why?

Why is it that tidying up always makes more mess? I know it does but it never fails to surprise me how much mess. I guess not having the longarm to play with has made me more aware of the mess in my other studio (sounds better than sewing room doesn't it). I haven't been bothered by it while I have been quilting, but now, forced to work on other projects I need to make space. I do love having a clear work table but it never lasts. When a deadline looms tidying up tends to become a pretty low on my to do list. It is quite amazing how much paper I seem to accumulate. Some of it is kinda interesting and I am glad to have rediscovered it, but really most of it can go. I didn't think I got this much post, but I suppose when it comes in a sheet or two at a time you don't really notice do you.

One thing I really enjoy about clearing my desk is being reminded of possible projects. Each time I clear I try to rearrange the things that inspire me so I see them in a different way. I often take this opportunity to re-asses which are the most urgent.

I haven't managed to finish the tidy up, I had to do some quilting. I have most of my flower done fro the fractured quilt challenge, but I can't show you it until after they are posted by the coordinator. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Patchwork Corner

So there I am standing in the workshop waiting for my class with my camera in my hand and I realised that I have never shown you the shop. I talk about it enough so I guess it is about time.

Please bear in mind I was taking these pictures after dark, not really the best time to see a shop like this, but still it was when I had my camera to hand so I made the most of it.

The first picture shows the workshop. This is a separate building behind the main shop. It was fitted out to be a quilting workshop so it is very well equipped with power points and lights. As you can see it also provides a great space for hanging quilts. Although you didn't know it you've seen it before, usually hiding behind something I have just quilted. The workshop accommodates 10 students and is a joy to teach in. There is space to move around and assist everyone easily. In the far corner you can just see the permanent pressing station, there are other ironing boards and irons that can be set up around the room when needed.

The next picture is the back room of the shop, when you go from the workshop in to the main shop this is where you come in. I had one of my favourite sections behind me when I took this picture. The black, white and greys and the oriental sections are here. In the picture you can see some of the more antique looking fabrics, and in the middle of the room is the secondary cutting table. In this room you can find most of the bundles of fat quarters, rolls of strips and kits. Along the wall to the right as you look at this picture there are several bays of fabrics, mostly the softer more floral fabrics. Isn't it funny, I've never really thought about all the different fabrics in the shop but actually there are quite a range.

As we walk towards the front of the shop we find lots of interesting bits and bobs. Clover gadgets, buttons, bag handles, beads and charms all live around here. Just to the right hand side you can see some of the batik fabrics, which I also love. Isn't it odd I have mostly missed photographing my favourite sections. Still they are there I promise. You can also see the biggest thread rack in the picture. I think it is inspiring, I like seeing all the colours in rows maybe that is why I missed the batiks. There is another thread rack behind me, strangely it contains the threads I like most, but it isn't as pretty as the Coats one.

Finally we get to the front of the shop, where you would normally enter. What do you expect from me though, other than a back to front tour. As you can see most of the fabrics in the front of the shop are sorted into colour families, with a few basics grouped by range. The scarf on the wadding is one I made to try out quilted scarves. I really enjoyed doing it but I don't wear them much so it sits there to inspire others to have a go. I've been very good and only made a few more, I do enjoy doing them so much. In case you were wondering, there are more rolls of batting, they hand up in the window bays so were behind me in both pictures.

So there you have it. This is the shop I keep talking about.

My baby has gone on holiday

It's a very odd feeling packing up your business in the car and taking it on holiday. Still I think my machine was getting on well with the baby sitter so all should be well. It's also an odd thought that my machine will have done things I haven't seen. It is doing classes I am not. Odd. On the other hand I will get to take the classes I am doing on my own machine which I think is a great bonus. I just hope the other people who get to play with her get along OK.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nude with rope





The professional photographs arrived on Saturday. I am thrilled with them and I highly recommend getting your quilts professionally photographed. As promised I can now show you some better pictures of 'Nude with rope'. Please do click on the pictures to see the full size image, I have scaled them down a little, but there are still a good size.

It was interesting watching the photographer set up the quilt for photographing. It makes a huge difference as you make quite small changes to the lighting. The proof is in the images though. They are so much better than any I managed of this quilt. He has even managed to pick up the background quilting.

Hopefully with these pictures you can see it isn't painted, but is made up of several shades of blue fabric. They are lightly fused into place then quilted to secure. I find that bodies normally show me how to quilt them. The only exception to this is faces. I find them very hard to see quilted, and in general I prefer them before I quilt them. This one was a pleasant surprise. Something about the way the light is hitting her face made it clear to me how I needed to quilt it, and when done I still liked it. For me that was a very big deal.

Now I have these very good pictures I can start looking into getting large prints made of some of my work. I love postcards but I would like to be able to offer something with a higher level of detail. I would love to have posters of some quilts, but I guess I would be in the minority so instead I will look at getting high quality art prints produced. Of course, I am always interested in hearing what you guys think of the idea. Would you rather have a poster or a print?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The quilt that sang




I guess it proves that being nice can get you the information you need. I was getting very worried that this quilt wouldn't tell me what it wanted, and the only guidance the piecer had was quilt the not blocks. Hmmm OK. I could see what she meant but I could not see how to achieve it. Part of my problem was I wanted to do something slightly different on the two styles of 'sashing'. The solution to that was the key to me working out what I needed to do.

I have feathers on the brain at the moment, and I have been wanting to do some sort of interwoven feathers. I knew I wanted to leave the diagonal lines of white squares unquilted so I had to find an alternative to the spined feather. I went for what I think of as inside out feathers, they are really just two half feathers without a spine, but they do hold the coloured section down leaving the white squares to leap up.

To make the secondary blocks clearer I wanted to join them very solidly, so the sun or flower was ideal for the job, I felt that the dense center helped hold the four corners together. I was really pleased when the owner said it is a pattern she uses when she quilts, see the quilt did know what I should be doing.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I've not forgotten you

I've just been mad busy. Next week I am off getting some training to improve my longarm skills and I have a lot of customer work to get done before I go. I will be taking my machine with me so even when I am not being taught I will not be working on the longarm. Not a problem I have plenty of other things to keep my busy, and I might even get more time to post.

The next quilt I need to work on is one of those tight lipped quilts that won't tell me what it wants to be. I really hope it starts talking as I am working on it today! I did suggest to the owner that I could try poking it with pins to make it talk but she wasn't keen. I guess I will just have to try kinder techniques of looking at it and stroking it until it talks.

On the bright side I should have a couple more quilts to share with you once I have talked to their owners. Now off to pet a quilt.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Thinking and hard tasks

Well it has been a while, but rest assured I have been busy. Friday I went to a concert which made me think. I like that. Wasp are a band I have liked for years and they always put on a good show but this one was different. They played one album straight through with videos on big screens. I knew the album, and therefore the story but I didn't appreciate how well observed the character is until I saw the video as well. It shows a child with very strict parents, strict to the point of abusive, which was the first thing that struck me as well done. Where does concerned and strict cross the line in to abuse, is there a line really? The most interesting part for me though was watching the story as the boy grows up and becomes a star, but still the thing he wants is his parents approval. He is shown calling home and each time his mother says "I have no son". What bothers me is from the people I have known in the same situation this seems to be common. Logic tells me it is silly, he is never likely to change their opinion of him, and it scares me that this need for parents is so hard wired in so many people. The mental hoops people will jump through to make a bad family fit the image of what a family should be. Sometimes the answer is, they don't fit, but very few people can accept that answer. I hope that one day I can capture this in a quilt, but right now I can't see how. I guess I will just have to be grateful that there are people already creating work that does.

Saturday I manned Patchwork Corner again. It was less scary this time but busy. I did get the impression that some of the students were quite enjoying the spectacle. I don't know how some people do that day in day out, and order stock, do paperwork, ship orders...... I was shattered after one day, I guess shop keeping is not for me. If I could just do the bits I liked I think I would rather enjoy it though. I love helping people choose fabrics and calculate how much they need. I was thrilled every time someone came in with a bag big enough to hold a quilt, show and tell is fun, but the rest of it, too much work for me. So next time you visit your local patchwork shop give them a pat on the back, they are doing a fantastic job to keep us supplied. Thank you to all the customers who helped me move heavy bolts about, I did make it through the day without damaging my hand anymore.

Sunday was one of those days when things don't go according to plan. The thread I am using on the longarm at the moment is giving me a lot of trouble, I can get the stitch to OK but not great, and then I keep breaking the top thread. When I couldn't find disc 11 of 13 of the audio book I was listening to I accepted it as an omen. I needed to go and take some of my car apart. You may remember a while ago I told you that my darling car had been declared dead, as we have several Ford Capris and I will be buying another, we want to keep everything that might be useful. This means spending a good amount of time taking the car apart before the shell is taken away. Over the summer, which would have been the ideal time to do the work there was a quilting or racing event every weekend so it has had to wait until now. Perfect we get cold as well as battered, cut and dirty. We did do quite well, the gearbox is out, the engine is ready to remove with all the auxiliaries removed, and I discovered that undoing exhaust bolts is indeed the cure for quilting frustrations. I guess it isn't a common option, but honestly it does work rather well. I suspect lifting the engine out will be just as beneficial.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Busy Busy


Well my hand has got better, at least somewhat, so I am back quilting. I am being very careful when I roll the quilt on though. Rather foolishly I forgot to photograph that last quilt I did, but as I know the owner pretty well I hope to get a picture when it has been bound. Still I have now had time to upload the quilt you saw a couple of days ago.

Well I assumed I would now be able to show you the pictures, but blogger isn't sure about that. I will keep trying and when I get them up I will add to this post. Sorry about that. The spell checker isn't working either, so please ignore any funny spellings.

OK, I now have the full image up. I took this picture early in the morning in the workshop at Patchwork Corner. Believe it or not that blinds were down, but the sun was still streaming in. I love these crisp sunny mornings. It also does a great job of showing up my quilting. I had intended to get a picture later in the day to show it lit more evenly but of course I forgot. The quilt is a kit that Jenny produces and I think she said it had over 40 fabrics in it. It certainly has a lot, and it is a lovely scrappy quilt. It was fun spotting all the subtle variations as I worked.
Yay, and finally I have the detail picture up as well. This is a close up of the handily high lit area. It gives you an idea of the quilting pattern. I chose all over feathers for this quilt as it seemed to be the most traditional of my designs, and I couldn't see contemporary designs suiting these fabrics. I am glad that Jenny only told me afterwards that she couldn't see what I had in mind, and that she liked how it came out. Eeek! That could have gone very wrong. Still all's well that ends well, and I now have two more quilts that want similar designs so I guess it can't be bad.

On the other hand I have another quilt waiting that hasn't told me or it's owner what it wants quilted on it, and I want to get it done for early next week. Hope it gets chatty soon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dangerous Occupations.

I guess most quilters have realised their hobby isn't as safe as people might think, but last night I managed a new, to me at least, accident. I turned one of the rollers wit wind on a quilt and something in my hand made an odd noise. Something in the gripping and turning has done something interesting inside my hand, I don't know what but I know it hurts.

I was sensible and stopped quilting to rest my hand. I've tried to keep it warm and not do anything to stressful but it still doesn't like me. Who would have thought that rolling an quilt could be so dangerous? I guess I will have to add that to my list of things not to do. The worst part is having to explain to people how I have injured myself, why couldn't it have been something that sounded more exciting?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Playing with light

The last couple of bulbs that have blown in the light fitting our my longarm have taken out the fuse as well. The extra step or replacing the fuse means I don't replace the bulb so fast, yes I really am that lazy about some things. It did mean though that I got to see a quilt illuminated by the machine light alone, and it looked good. The quilting was so clear I couldn't believe it. So I waited for it to get dark last night and had a play with my camera. It's tricky fitting the tripod in, and I really needed it for some of the exposures I tried. I found that that inbuilt white balance was having a hard time compensating for the bulb on the machine, I guess there is something odd about the colour spectrum of it. It's probably the same thing that makes it so good for seeing what I am doing when I a quilting.

Anyway here are the results. The quilt on the frame belongs to Jenny Stafford of Patchwork Corner and is a sample for one of her kits. She is planning on taking it to the Malvern show next week to illustrate the kit, so it will be delivered early next week and I will show you the full quilt then. It is an all over pattern of swirling feathers. I've really come to enjoy this design after being quite scared of it for a while. The tape you can see is marked in inches which will give you some idea of the scale. The squares are quite small and I will have to ask her how it is done, as the pattern is quite intricate when you really look at it. I know Jenny though, there is bound to be a clever way of doing it.

Now as promised the picture of the sample I was working on at the shop on Thursday. This will be one of a set of three panels that form a wall hanging when I have trimmed it and bound it. I am not sure yet if I will quilt it. I have a couple of ideas for designs to put on it but I rather like it as is and in a wall hanging it should be OK without the wadding. I will probably leave my final decision until I have all the parts made an then see what they have to say about it. I prefer to listen to the quilt before deciding how to quilt it if I can.

Just in case it isn't clear this isn't just a piece of fabric. It is woven from strips of three different fabrics in the Glorious Geisha range.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Patchwork Corner is still standing

Yup after a day of shop siting the shop is none the worse for wear, as far as I know. I discovered that I don't know where every bolt lives, and customers have a real talent for finding the thing I don't know about. I've discovered that shops are empty or full. There is never just one customer, and as soon as someone walks in the phone will ring and a delivery will arrive. Why are so many shop staff female? Could it be related to the need to do three things at once? The till only got upset with me once, and I only panicked once, so I think it went pretty well. I was so pleased every time a customer asked about fabric colours or calculating requirements, that I am confident I can deal with.

On the bright side I did get to meet a lot of quilters. It was great to see their projects and talk about their plans. Just being able to chat to like minded people is great, especially as my work is generally quite solitary. I loved being able to work on class samples in the shop, it seemed easier to get down to work when I was in the right setting, even with the frequent paused to server customers I think the sample went quicker than it would have done at home. I will try and get a picture of it later.

I will be looking after the shop again on Saturday 3rd November. I think I am looking forward to it. I am certain that running a shop isn't something I could do full time, but once in a while it's quite fun. I really enjoy having the chance to get insight into what is involved in other peoples jobs, I not only understand them better but it makes more appreciate my work more. I could not deal with that amount of juggling every day, credit to those who can.

Now on a lighter note, blogger suggested this site to me today when I logged in. I don't normally follow the links but this one intrigued me, The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks should appeal to those language pedants among us, although I am sure it will frustrate as well as amuse. People do abuse punctuation terribly (yes even worse than I do).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Come visit, please

Well I am off for my first day of shop sitting. It's kinda scary but I think I know what needs doing now. If you are out and about in Hemel today please pop into Patchwork Corner and say hi. Friendly faces will be very welcome.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A great way to spend a day.

Well what a wonderful experience. I loved having my quilts photographed. It is quite amazing how much better they look when they are hung well. There were a couple that I really didn't rate when I have seen them hung at shows, but when properly supported they look so much better.

It was odd to find I didn't know some of my quilts as well as I thought. 'Where is the North Star' turned out to be a lot bigger and more red than I remembered it. Rather embarrassing as I asked if we could do it when we had finished as an extra, I said it was smaller than 'Guide Me', well I thought it was. For some reason I was sure it was a large single, rather than the nearly King size that is actually is. Oh and if you want to think about photographing your quilts, you might want to minimise the amount of red purple you use, it seems to be a very tricky colour to photograph accurately.

I know I won't have the finished product for a while, but if today was anything to judge by this is going to be very good value for money. It is amazing how useful it is to have an experienced photographer who is used to looking at quilts. He could see great closeups that just didn't occur to me. His knowledge of lighting quilts and tricks for getting the best from there is not something I could learn in a hurry, or indeed reproduce if I wanted to. I don't know if you can tell but I am very excited about having these pictures. Rest assured, I will share some small versions of them once I get them. I am looking forward to being able to put better pictures in my online portfolio. I also have a new project to work on, one of the closeup shots will make a great small project.

Organization.

I do wonder how people manage to get things done when I see how stunningly organization fails, and how often. Things that seem fairly simple to me seem to cause an awful lot of trouble. Maybe I am just hopelessly naive.

The latest thing to bring this to my attention is the hospital catering. The patients are given a form to choose their meals each morning. They have four main dishes and two deserts each for lunch and dinner. Two days in a row my friend has been told at lunch time that she can't have her choice of dinner because they don't have enough. OK supply problems hit anyone but the same person not getting their choice two days in a row seemed a little unfair. After some digging we found out that the meal choice in question had run out the day before, so when they were handed the selection forms there was none of that item to be had. So why offer it? Although I am still not quite sure why they keep low enough stocks to run out, especially when the staff know this happens fairly often, I really don't understand not crossing it off the list. It seems to me they just made themselves more work having to go and ask for another choice from everyone who had asked for the out of stock dinner. Besides when the whole range seems to be about eight items and they are all frozen and then microwaved, why not keep more stock of the popular items?

Anyway, tomorrow I am taking a day off from dealing with the hospital. I am off to Bristol to have some quilts photographed. I met Christine Porter at the Festival of Quilts, and she mentioned that her husband does quilt photography. As I have a couple that are very tricky to photograph well, I thought it might be time to call in a professional. It was surprisingly difficult to choose a selection to take. There were four no brainers, but if all goes well I could get eight done, so I need to take them with me. That is where it gets harder. Do I take those I think will make the best postcards, or the ones I am most likely to make patterns of? Or maybe I should try and work out which ones are most likely to end up in shows? I guess whatever I do I will find one I shouldn't have left out and one I never use, so long as I got the others right I think I can live with that. Two I would have chosen are off on their travels, so I guess when they come home I will have to book another session for them and then I can catch any I miss this time around. So wish me luck with the traffic and hope the quilts all hang as well as they can.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Quilt Art Everywhere

Well, where to start. I was very pleased to discover, rather late last night, that one of our local hospitals hangs art quilts in it's halls. There was a really striking piece about the RAF (I think). I will go back and try and see if it has a makers name on it. If it is yours and it has some other meaning I haven't come to terms with I am really sorry. I had been there for many hours with a friend, and I spotted it as she was being taken to her ward.

Fortunately my friend is also a quilter and an artist, so understands when I get distracted by things like that. About 3am we had come up with several ideas for quilt inspired by hospital visits. Oddly some still seem like a good idea.

Having had far too little sleep and spent too much time at the hospital I am off to bed. I will get in touch with everyone as soon as I can but my friend it likely to be in for a while and doesn't have many people who will visit. The best way to contact me at the moment is by email.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New York Beauty





Finally, I can show you the quilt I have been enjoying so much for the last week. The pattern is one by Karen Stone, as as with many of her patterns, is wonderfully spiky. This particular quilt top was made by another Karen and is a birthday present to herself. Her husband bought her the pattern and the fabrics last year, and if all goes well it will be finished in time for her birthday next week. I am so pleased it is going to a great home where it will be loved. I think it has twelve colours of thread in it. I didn't really keep careful count as I just chose the thread as I found places that needed a new colour. I didn't want my quilting to shout. This pattern can carry the glory all on it's own.

As I worked on this quilt I enjoyed the different textures of fabric in the top. Apparently my method of moving my machine if very unusual, but it works for me and I like having contact with the top. My hands tell me things my eyes don't. The plain dark green fabric is wonderfully soft, although it doesn't look out of the ordinary. Apparently it is a silk blend, so it isn't surprising it feels good.

As soon as I saw the quilt I felt I needed to enhance the spikes, so as I worked I tried to make those pointing outwards in the blocks stand out. To achieve this I quilted the spaces between them and allowed them to rise up. This had the side effect of giving each type of spike a very different feel. There are plump soft spikes and very sharp hard ones. I hope that at some time in the future someone will 'view' the quilt with their finger tips and appreciate the patterns from this perspective.

I will have to make myself one of these quilts, or at least something similar. I rather like tie idea of designing something unique, I love Karen Stones patterns, but I like to be different. If nothing else I want to scale it up to a good king size quilt so I would have to draw my own borders. I've got to come up with something, I really miss this one. Strangely even more than ones I have made and sold. I wonder why some quilts grab me so much more than others. I wish I could work that out as it would probably be a good way to create popular patterns, but until then I will have to carry on with trial and error.

Hmmmm, it seems blogger is having some problems so I will have to add the pictures tomorrow. Sorry guys, but they do say they are working on it, so hopefully it won't be long.

After several attempts it has allowed me to put up one image. This is a picture of the quilt on the frame when I was working on the first border. I had intended to take more pictures as I went along, but I got so absorbed by the quilt I entirely forgot to take the pictures. Still maybe it will serve as an appetizer until blogger starts working properly again.

Yay, finally I have the pictures up. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ideas

People often ask me where I get my ideas, I answer everywhere, it's pretty much the truth. They all tell me how wonderful that is, but it does have it's moments. Last night I came up with three new ways to do machine applique. Any of which, if they work might make what I do look more like traditional needle turn, which would be great. The problem is I really don't have time to play with them right now, but they will distract me until I do. Pah! I guess I will write them up and hope they will leave me along while I get some quilting done. Ideas, they really are a double edged sword.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Strange feeling.

I've just finished my quilting for the day, and turned off the light in the room with the longarm. I will finish the quilt on the frame tomorrow, and I am sad. I have really enjoyed this quilt, so much so I have taken longer over it than I really needed. I have savoured it, and in doing so planned my own version of it. For the first time I will be sorry to hand back a quilt. It's very strange, in so ways I am more attached to it than to some of my own. On the bright side, I know the owner loves it at least as much as I do and I am pretty certain she will like the quilting I have done. In fact it is also the quilt I have been most confident about. I wonder if that is because it speaks so clearly about how it should be finished, and I have been able to accommodate it's wishes. Well once I have handed it back on Wednesday, I can show you and maybe you will see why I have enjoyed it so much.

The reason I was finishing so late is I managed to open a new bank account today. I've been putting it off for a while, even though my bank had been providing less and less service. I tried a while ago to move my personal account and none of the banks were in the least bit helpful. When I opened my business account they were ever worse, actively misleading me about the facilities I would receive to persuade me to open their accounts. So banks are not my favourite people to deal with. However I would have to admit the people I met today were pretty decent. Of course I haven't actually tested the account yet, so they may have told me a lot of rubbish, but I have a good feeling about this one. It did take 3 hours though with I could have done without. Still, if it does work I will be a lot better off, and able to write cheques again, and I don't think it would be possible to be more hopeless than the account I have been trying to use. I am also looking forward to being able to write to my ex-bank and shut my other accounts, explaining exactly why I won't be doing business with them again. I suspect they won't be surprised, today they were surveying customers leaving the branch, and had put on extra staff who were behaving very differently to usual. I know I wasn't the only one who was getting a bad deal, but waiting until I get desperate enough to move my money is no way to run a business.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What a week

I've loved the last week. I've been rushed off my feet nearly every day and it's bee a thrill. I've been able to return lots of work to customers, which is always good, if scary. I've taught and talked to so many people I feel on top of the world. I hope the world it going to be soft and warm though, I feel I need to sleep for a week.

I've learned that I really do like to be going flat out when I am doing things. I like almost too much to do, I hate being bored. Then when everything is done and put away, I like to sleep. Right now I feel I would like about a week off, but I bet tomorrow I will be off and at it again, after and early night and a late morning. Yes for me this is still looking like and early night.

Thanks to everyone I've met this week, you've all given me ideas and inspiration, now I will go and ponder them lying down. No one told me that even when you love it teaching in particular is really tiring.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My aches have aches

Yes I know, I am too young to be complaining of aches but this morning I feel like I was run over by something big and lumpy. Next person to tell me quilting isn't a physical sport will get such an earful. I had a busy and very interesting day yesterday. Tuting (that must be what a tutor does right?) at Patchwork Corner, then collecting and delivering quilting. That in itself was a pretty good work out hauling lots of stuff about, but I rounded it off with a talk to Connecting Threads quilt group.

Their venue is lovely, it is the library of a large school. Unfortunately the car park if some way from where you speak and I take quite a lot of quilts. I feel guilty getting others to carry the really big bundles I take so I like to take the biggest of them. So I am paying for it this morning. They were a lovely group though and several of them helped carry everything back to the car. Just as well I don't think I could have done it having held them up during the talk.

It's funny to meet a group who are based so close to me but that I had no idea existed. I wonder if there are more nearby? It is very hard to find out what is going on when you aren't already involved. Still they kindly invited me to go back as a guest next month when they have their Christmas party, and I think I will. It would be good to get to know some really local quilters. They also reassured me that venues near me are indeed expensive. I thought I had looked pretty well, but it was possible I has missed something good. Sadly no, I would love to run a group or some workshops in Harrow, I know there are a few quilters about, but who wants to pay hundreds of pounds to rent a room for a few hours. It just isn't practical. I will give the Arts center another try though, given it has new management. Maybe they will have something reasonable to offer.

This morning I have had the chance to break out a thread I never expected to use. A while ago I decided to buy the whole range of Masterpiece threads. I use them a lot and I guessed I would use most colours eventually. One that didn't seem likely is SubLime, you can probably guess what colour that is. It is a real lime green, but on this quilt it is perfect. It doesn't look loud or bright at all, I am so pleased I had it in the drawer. In fact I suspect this quilt will use a lot of unusual threads, and I can;t wait to get back to it. So off to it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Planning a Show

I recently asked for advice on what I should or shouldn't do when planning a show. I got a lot of answers, which seem to agree where they overlap, which is great. As a few people said they would like the advice
too I have summarised it here.
  • The first thing after booking a venue is to get a press release written and out there. I was surprised that it needs to be done ASAP given my show is only five months away. Apparently this is very short notice in the press world. This one piece of advice was worth asking for. It scares me that I would have happily waited a couple of months before worrying about this.
  • Advertising, this needs doing now too. I need to be thinking about brochures and posters. I need to prepare my mailing list and start thinking about who needs to be invited to the private viewing.
  • Select work carefully, less is more. This was phrased in many ways by different people. I think the general message is only show my best work and try and make it one coherent voice. If it has different tones, then split the venue into regions and hang like with like.
  • An interesting rule of thumb for selecting the amount of work needed was to aim for half the linear wall space to be covered. Great and specific advice, as I scientist I love something this precise to work from.
  • Be prepared to take advice, again this was voiced in many ways, but the two that stood out to me were listen to the gallery director and ask them for advice. Also get a trusted friend to double check the show and be prepared to change it at the last minute if needed.
  • Insurance, for some reason that had never occurred to me but it is rather important to make sure the work in covered when on display.
  • Have a guest book. Again a fantastic idea, not only can I use it to collect details of the people who are there but it might be a good memento of the event, and I doubt I would have thought of it.
  • Get help, not for being nuts enough to do this, but to help man the show, hang work and generally assist in making things go well.
  • Not entirely show related, I was given advice on how to handle complements. I don't know about anyone else but I find that very difficult. However I can manage to say thank you and the tell them something interesting about the work. Thank you for that one.
  • Finally, feeling like a fraud is exactly right for this situation. Good to know I've got something right. I just have to carry on and ignore it.
I am sure there are going to be a lot more things I find as I go along, but this advice should help me avoid a few of the mistakes I was about to make and hopefully make this work. I am feeling a little more calm about it but boy it is one heck of a learning curve. I hope these hints will help other too. If you think of things I have missed please let me know and I will add them to the list.

Who am I?

Before I start the post proper, let me apologise for the gap in posts. My ISP has been playing up and I have been mostly without Internet access for a few days. It is scary how cut off this can make you feel when you work from home on your own. I have got so fed up I am now writing the post offline in the hopes that I will be able to cut and paste it if I do get a short burst of access.

Anyway, I have been very busy quilting for others recently and that means lots of time to listen to books. I have finally finished going through the whole Harry Potter series and have started work on Robert Heinlein.

I've known for a while I largely brought myself up and Heinlein had contributed greatly to my outlook on life, but re-reading (and listening) to the books has really brought home how much he influenced
me. It has also become clear to me how little of his work is really science fiction. It seems to be far more concerned with human interaction, morals, rights and responsibilities. It is fascinating how
much this has influenced me, without me really being aware of it.

In a similar vein, there has been a list discussing music as inspiration recently. Yes lyrics (and actually poetry it's very close relative) does inspire me a lot. It is one of the reasons I prefer to have the
television on or listen to a book when I am working. I find music very distracting, as I see all sorts of designs from it. There are two albums by one band which I would like to produce a whole series of quilts from. I haven't started it yet as I feel I should ask the musicians before I do it, given I would be making so much work from it that I think the source would be obvious. I just hope I have enough time to make all these designs I am coming up with.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wednesday, when did that happen?

I can't believe it is Wednesday already, and that I haven't been able to blog got two days. On one hand it is great news, I am madly busy, which is good. On the other hand I miss being able to post and have pictures to go with it. I have been making things but rather foolishly I have left them all at Patchwork Corner and I forgot to take photographs.

On the 20th October I will be teaching a Christmas class. We will be making quilted cards, ornaments and wreaths. They are a lot of fun and there should be enough time to finish them before the holiday. I made the card and baubles this week and I will try and get pictures tomorrow night when I go to teach.

I've also put the next two borders on my birthday quilt. I am very pleased with how it is growing. I just need to find time to draft the outer border which I will foundation piece. I can't see me having time to do that for a while so I have left that there to show an alternative use for the Graceful Geisha panel. I think it has so much potential when you look at it as a nice bundle of fabrics, but it is mostly shown as a way to create the Geisha portraits. I hope it will prompt others to make quilts that use it as many fabrics.

I've started some more woven panels, but I will have to wait until Sunday to have time to work on them again. This Saturday is the Autumn regional day of the Quilters Guild (region 7). It is at Leverstock Green Village Hall, and will have Margaret Johnson and Carolyn Gibbs speaking. I am looking after the raffle there and presenting what I learned from my bursary. I feel I need to prepare some words to put with my display there. I also need to make the raffle prizes look pretty. That and the customer work I have on will pretty much fill the rest of the week. It also looks like I have a few small issues to fix on my web site, but it is nice to know it is on our own servers so we have some control over whether it is up and available or not. Thanks to everyone who has helped me by testing it. It is very much appreciated.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Next!


Today I am actually taking some time to work on a quilt for me, my birthday quilt. It hasn't told me it's name yet, but it is coming together quite well. This is the center of the quilt.Which I guess is about 60" square. There will be three boarders added to it now. The first two should be quite quick and will use the rest of the panel the red blocks came from. The last border will take a bit longer as I want a spiky curvy boarder so I will be foundation piecing it. Still it will be fun and I will have a new huge quilt for the bed. I would love to know what the characters mean in the sashing, and indeed if I have them the right way up. It is worrying working with unfamiliar alphabets, you never know what you might be saying.

Yesterday I went to the Natural History Museum. This was a little disappointing as I had hoped to see lots of displays of fossils and animals. There were very few fossils there now. I get the impression that the things I find interesting have been declared too boring or difficult to be on display, both at the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. I think it is a great shame how dumbed down they have both got. I remember there being a lot of things in the museums I didn't understand but I liked that, it gave me things I could go and look up and learn about.

Still the building is just as amazing as ever, they aren't allowed to change that as it is a listed building. I wished I had taken my camera as now it is clean it is just one big design source. I will have to go back and take a lot of pictures, hopefully soon. I suppose I might be able to combine that with a trip to see the terracotta army which is currently at the British Museum. I am going to have so many ideas I really won't know where to start, but I suppose that is better than the alternative.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another quilt revealed


This quilt has spent a lot of time on the frame recently. It was pieced and appliqued by Barbara Wharton, from a design by Karen Kay Buckley called Midnight Floral Fantasy. Isn't it a stunning quilt. I was thrilled to be given the chance to quilt it. It has been a learning experience, I would never have guessed how long it takes to work such a simple pattern around all the applique. It's just as well I liked looking at it I guess.

It's strange spending that much time to try and not attract attention. In this quilt I really didn't want the quilting to say much. It has a job to do but it is very much a supporting role, not the star. Hopefully you can tell from the pictures the quilting doesn't stand out. We decided to make it a little more obvious in the pieced area, really it would have been hard not to with the mixture of black and colours here. We chose a thread that blends quite well with the colours and helps pull the back together with them. I am really pleased with the effect.

The quilting pattern is the same in all the areas, just the scale and the thread changes depending on what I was trying to achieve. Very close to the applique the quilting is very small curls getting bigger further from it up to the medium size swirls in the coloured area.

This quilt is about 97 inches square, so even in the quilt shop I couldn't quite get a picture of the whole thing. Had the weather been better I could have taken the photographs outside, but wouldn't you know it, it rained. Still I think the pictures do give you an idea of how striking this quilt is. From my point of view, the most important thing is that my customer is happy with the quilting, and she was. I hope she finds the quilt a good home.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Scary day

Well I've done it now, the gallery is booked. I will be showing some of my work at the Dissenters Gallery from 7th March 2008 to 7th April 2008. It seems a lot more scary now I have confirmed it. I have plans for all the work that will be on display, I just have to decide the title. I am excited too, but sooo nervous. I guess my next step is to take some time to try and work out the bulk of what has to be done before the opening. I've a feeling it will be a long list.

I can finally talk freely about a project I completed back in February. Unfortunately I don't seem to have a picture of it finished but here is 'By the Hearth' in progress. It is a wall hanging of a life sized fireplace. Today I got my copy of Popular Patchwork, who are printing it as a three part project, and I love the photograph they have taken of it. I will have to ask someone to pat the model for me.

It could be used just as a decorative piece, or by adding Velcro to the back of all the decorative items it works as an advent calendar too. The stockings button on and would be great to hold a few small presents. The fireplace and it's quilting is very closely based on the fireplace in my sewing room. The cat would have to be Heimdal who is my ginger tom and love the fire.

I also have designs for decorations to hang on your real fireplace (if you are lucky enough to have one) which I will be teaching at Patchwork Corner on the 20th October. We will also look at making Christmas stockings and quilted cards.

Looking forward to work

I've think I rather like having regular classes. I found myself looking forward to going to work today, last night, and the class lived up to my expectations. In fact they have inspired me, along with Jenny who runs Patchwork Corner.
One of my students started a sampler quilt today, and started with tumbling blocks, which had me thinking about hexagons. Jenny suggested I should make a quilt with the fabric range I really liked and talked her into, and another student was telling me I would think of a clever way of joining quilt as you go sections. So I am thinking about these fabrics, sashing and hexagons, which lead me to my birthday quilt. For my birthday I was bought the fabrics to make me a new quilt for the bed. It is the Graceful Geishas range from Loni Rossi, and I wanted a plan to use the multi fabric panels she has done.

I bought eight panels, the largest part of each will become a block in it's own right. I will set nine blocks to make the main body of the quilt, so I have to create a center block. When we were in Sweden I saw some woven panels with come from a Japanese book and make hexagons (among other things). So above you can see the start I have made on the center piece. It will end up about 15" square and each bias strip is 18mm. Yes I know I shouldn't mix units, but the bias maker and it's strip cutter are metric and I make quilts in imperial. It will all work in the end, as the width of the strips really doesn't matter. Of course there will be sashing between the blocks and I will be able to use the little medallions off the panel in the intersections. I think it is going to be a fun project. It also means I have something new to show my class tomorrow night. So thanks guys, it wouldn't have happened without you.

Oh and I think I have a solution for machine sewing quilt as you go without the zigzag.