Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blue Moon

I am feeling very pleased with myself. I have missed two Fast Friday Fabric Challenges, and I was determined not to make it three. This time I had the time and the inspiration and off I went. The requirements for this one were monochromatic and based on a song title with a colour in it. OK so it is a bit cheesy, and probably predictable, but I wanted to do a moon. I've been planning realistic lunar quilts for a while, and I will be doing more. I really enjoyed this and I am really pleased with the result.

There are four shades of fabric in the Moon, they are the same as those used in my Nude with Rope. The background is a very dark blue, again from the Nude with Rope, it was the background there too. The quilting is done in three shades. I used the same thread on the lightest two fabrics. It seemed to brighten them up a little. I did consider silver to add more luminosity, but I think the effect would have been too cartoon like. Not the look I was after. I want to be able have a moon in the house. I think once it gets dark it will look great on my blue bedroom wall.

The quilting is a simple stipple. This was the hardest decision in the piece. I wanted to add texture and secure the pieces without really adding much design with the thread. The stipple seems to do the job. It does give the Moon a suitably rocky feel. The binding is nominally my ascent colour, it is black. I tried a few options but really it needed to blend in and not call attention to itself. Black fits the bill. Looking at the pictures I think I need to look at blocking this quilt before I put the hanging sleeve on. It was square when I put the binding on. Honest

I am still trying to find someone who could take pictures of In Full Bloom for me at the IQA Celebrate Spring show. If you do know anyone going please could you ask them for me?

It's all about the fish

I remembered that I had another quilt you guys haven't seen. This is my entry to the shop hop challenge. We were told the fabrics we had to use and the minimum size. The fabrics have an oriental theme and we had to make a table runner. I would only use a table runner for a very special occasion, I am too messy to have a cloth on the table normally. So I wanted something special, and oriental. It had to be sushi.

As you may have noticed I love my sushi.The idea of a table loaded with sushi beautifully set on a table runner. Perfect.Initially I wanted to cut the words in to the runner. Unfortunately I couldn't find fish that I likes that had characters that would work. I settled on salmon, tuna, mackerel. I hope they read OK. I had a very small phrasebook to work from and it wasn't easy to see which way the strokes went. I know enough to know it is important but I don't know enough to be sure if I got it right. If anyone does know please let me know either way. If I have it wrong I would like to know for future reference. Also is it legible?

I think that for those who don;t read Japanese it is nice to have a reversible runner (see previous comment about how messy I am). So I used the other colourway to make the back. It didn't come out quite the way I planned, but I like the result anyway. You may have noticed that I have been rather busy, and that was true when I was doing this, so I did a machine binding. Not my usual option but I was quite pleased with it. I don;t really like the look, but I think the technique was well done and for the sake of speed I can live with it. I have actually decided to do it on another project I have in the pipeline!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Archway Update

So it may not have made it to the show, but I might as well show you guys. It will be getting more quilting and some door handle before next year, as well as some kind of finish to the edge. I haven't quite decided how to do that yet, but I will. Having a year to think about it makes it seem a lot easier. I just hope they do have the show again next year. It will also give me time to think about the title. I have a couple of ideas and I know what I want to convey, I just need to get it right. It feels almost like this quilt wasn't quite ready for the world.

This doorway is life size, OK as an old door it isn't as tall as modern doors but it is still pretty big. I struggled to find space to hang it to take the pictures, so please forgive the odd angle. The door handles are ready to go on, I wish I had put them on before taking the pictures as I can't wait to see them in place. I think they will help a surprising amount. It is that sort of detail that gives the realism. Like the hinges I am planning on attaching them using the longarm. I have done so much without a domestic machine recently it seems wrong not to. Given I have to remount the quilt to add more quilting, why not put the handles on at the same time.

I look forward to it being hung in shows, I am hoping they will be able to hang it so the bottom is very close to the floor and it will feel like you could walk through it. It would be so fun to walk round a corner and see a door, to who knows where. That is very much the point. I seem to have a talent for finding this style of door in odd places, and always somewhere where I can't find out what is behind it. It drives me nuts. They look so interesting, they must go somewhere good. I am already thinking about a door you can open, but then what can I put behind it that is as exciting as your imagination?

Of course I will also be planning other architectural quilts. I have three already I want to make but all would be very costly to ship to the USA. I need to find cheap ways of moving large objects. I wonder how long a boat does take to make the crossing

Clear Desk Day

I work in chaos, I like it that way. Most of the time. Today was one of those days when I just HAD to clean my desk. I now have lots of space and I feel much better for it. I can now get on with my new log cabin design and write some intructions for classes. It isn't the most thrilling work, but I feel like doing it today and it needs to be done. I do rather like having all this space, but I am quite calm about the fact it won't last

Best laid plans

Maybe my mistake is declaring my plans here. It seems that every time I do things conspire to make me wrong. In this case I found lots of other things to do this weekend. I should say I've had fun, but I haven';t got done the things I wanted to do. I have done a lot of work on my challenge quilt and I am quite pleased with it. I helped a friend find things to photograph for her university project and I went to another friends birthday party. All great fun and probably very valuable rest and recuperation.

In Full Bloom is off to America. If anyone is going to the IQA Celebrate Spring show could you take pictures of it for me please? I would really like to see it hanging in the show but I have no way to get there.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lessons Learned

The last few days I have had to relearn a lesson I thought I knew. An oversight on your part does not make for an emergency on mine, and not all paying work is worth taking. I took on a rush job, partly because it looked interesting and partly because I needed the money. It meant leaving myself very short of time to make my Tactile Architecture entry, something that was very important to me. I haven't managed to finish it and I am very miserable about it. I can't actually see any way to finish the edges of the quilt so I am stuck for a while. But the last straw is the rush job landing back here in need of more work. I really didn't need it today. I stuffed up my chance at this show, for a rush job that wasn't used and is now back with me for more work. Stupid. I know I couldn't foresee it not being used, but I do feel I shouldn't have done it and I should have done the thing I really care about.

If anyone knows if the Tactile Architecture show is an annual event I would love to hear. I would feel much better if I knew I had a year to finish this quilt (and maybe another) and then enter them in this show. It may seem odd but I love architecture and engineering, and this was really important to me.

Now I am going to try and get myself back on track with the Friday challenge quilt, which quite bizarrely requires me to work with one of my other loves. Odd how these things happen isn't it. I think I will try and finish it today and then tomorrow I can play with the swap quilts.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What have I been up to?

I know it has been a while since I posted, but things are still mad here. I think I might have a free day sometime next week, but I am not certain :) I hope I will I have my pieces planned for the swaps and the art meme, and I would love to get them made.

I have spent the last few days in a quilting frenzy. I know that dense quilting is a commitment, and every time I start it I think I should be committed. This time it is a Gothic doorway, with lots of carving. Of course there is also a pressing deadline. I have to have my forms postmarked tomorrow. Just as well I like a challenge, although even I think this is one I am going to miss. I have finished the quilting on one of the columns, and the fineal on it, I've got most of the marking out done, and the 'carving' in the insets at the top of the doorway. On the other hand I still need to make the hinges, banding and handles for the doors, and I need to quilt the other column. Still here is the picture of it now, on the frame. It is a pig to roll onto the rollers. It is too lumpy to tension up evenly.

Wish me luck, I think I will need it. Oh I suppose I should mention, it is a life size door. Only a small one, but still pretty large.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Trade Fairs

Well they are interesting aren't they? The most interesting factor was how many people I already knew. I didn't realise how much I had been getting about recently. It was lovely to catch up with you all. I also got to meet new people, which was great. There are a lot of people trying to do a lot of interesting things in craft right now. I hope they are all successful.

I nearly had a significant purchasing accident. There was a stand there for the sock wool I really like. I want more of most of the ranges, and they had a special deal if you bought 50 balls. Yes I really do like it that much. I decided that honesty was the best policy though and asked them about more sensible ways to buy wool. They were very helpful and quite happy to try and win even a little customer. It was really heart warming, and guess what, I will go out of my way to keep buying their product.

There were a lot of traders who assumed you weren't a real business customer. This is a sure way to lose my business. I want to be in a position to sell things like wadding and wide backings to my customers, I am happy to meet their minimum order requirements so I would say I am a valid customer. If they don;t want my money I will take it elsewhere. I was also disappointed by the wholesale cost of some fabrics. Our wholesale prices before VAT are more than the retail prices from the USA. It is cheaper for me to buy from retailers in America, pay shipping and taxes. Sadly that will be how I do it. I can't afford to subsidise the whole UK fabric trade. I will obviously continue to support my local quilt shops though, what would I do if I couldn't get my emergency fabric fixes. So next time you go shopping here and are upset about the cost, please be assured it isn't the shops making a huge profit. In fact I would say their prices are remarkable reasonable given what they are working with.

I also came away with a lot of new ideas. There are materials I want to play with, and new designs to refine. It has been a very valuable day and will be trying to get to this event again.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Patterns are hard to handle

I seem to have spent half the day wrestling with a quilt pattern. It is my entry for Tactile Architecture and I need a full size pattern to work from. It is tricky to deal with. It looks good but is a little short. That is the hazard of the printing method I use. I can easily fix that but I might wait till tomorrow. The fix is simple but very unwieldy. This thing is lots of sheets of A4 stuck together to made one sheet 80"x45". I am really looking forward to getting started on the quilting on this. It will be a lot of fun. Much faux trapunto.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Relaxed and refreshed

I seem to have found the cure for the common cold. Relaxing. Well it has worked for me. I've spent the day sorting out paperwork. Putting pictures of the quilts into my show quilt file. Upadeted where my quilts are going when, and almost finished last years scrap book. All stuff that needed doing, but didn't need much thought. It's been fun.

I also relearned crochet. I haven't done it in years and I have a friend who wants me to teach her. I feel I can now. In playing I have made the start of a blanket in truly nasty wool. I don't know if the stitch I have been doing has a name, but I like it and it seems to be working.

I've finished the evening with home made brownies. I love them but I don't often find time to make them. However my main motivation was to save money compared to Gu brownies. I did save a little maybe but it isn't as much as I thought. I will feel better about buying them next time.

So the house smells of chocolate, I feel refreshed I think I will have an early (for me) night and get started on my Tactile Architecture entry tomorrow.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Secret two

OK this one was less secret, but I still couldn't show you until the owners had seen it. I have quilted this for Amwell quilters who will be raffling it. The funds it raises will go to two charities, Womens Aid Broxbourne and FutureHope. FutureHope is a bus that provides activities for youths in Hertfordshire. They are both very good causes, who I suspect find it hard to compete with all the big national charities.

The quilt is a single size, 68"x86" and is a scrappy bow tie design. It has some fantastic fabrics in it, that change in different lights. It's a really fun quilt. I tried to keep the quilting simple and in keeping with the quilt. Sorry the pictures aren't great I left the room lights on and they give a very yellow tint to the pictures.
The raffle will be draw at their Patchwork and Quilting Exhibition in May. It is being held at The Drill Hall , Amwell End, Ware, Saturday 12th and Sunday 14th of May. If you would like to buy raffle tickets phone, (01992) 892590. If you are outside of the UK but would like tickets let me know and I will organize it for you. I have a paypal account and can thus buy tickets on your behalf. I should mention that the quilt will be bound and finished before it is raffled, hopefully I will be able to get a picture of it finished to show you all.

Secrets revealed.

Finally I can start revealing things I have been working on. Firstly I decided to make my own valentines cards this year. Well postcards at least. I like to try and avoid spending money on a commercial holiday, but I like the idea of expressing your feeling so these are made mostly from scraps. Frugal greetings. Just perfect.

As you can see I didn't finish all of them. I didn't need that many but I wanted to make several to give me a chance to play. I started by cutting a lot of hearts from the red scraps. I even cut one from a pieced scrap, the bottom one in the line of three. It looks really cool in the flesh. I could then play with different layouts. I really want to do some sort of exploding thing, and one where they erupt and make a heart. I kinda got that feel on some of them.

Next year I am planning a bed quilt with a valentines theme, so one of these may get to grow up into a big quilt. I like the black and red much better than the more pastel designs, so I think I will try and get a magazine interested in some valentines projects. I've got a few ideas to reuse this kind of design, from these which are very quick, all the way to very involved bed quilts. What do you think? Are hearts a good motif for a project? I have to admit that it wasn't something I would have expected to like, but I can see a lot of potential now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Woot, good post.

I got my letter from IQA Celebrate Spring today. OK that might not sound very thrilling but it had my finalists ribbon in it. and to me that is very exciting. I love the idea of giving every quilt in the show a token to celebrate it. I am trying to encourage UK shows to do the same. I am sure it doesn't cost that much and it does make me feel valued. The idea behind the Finalist ribbon is that you can attach it to your name badge at the show, so everyone knows you have a quilt in the show. Again, I think this is a lovely idea. Just think you would know if the person criticizing the quilts has actually made the effort them selves :) On a more positive note you can spot the artists and talk to them, but I have to say I would love to know how many of the people who are harshest about quilts make and display their own.

I thought this was a good time to get out the labels I got back from Road to California and photograph them. Again a lovely idea. They are cloth labels to add to the quilt. Yes I will be putting them on. I can imagine collecting a whole set of these on a well traveled quilt. It would be fantastic to have a permanent record of where the quilt has been. It is even nicer for anyone who buys the quilt, they have the proof of what the quilt did before it came to live with them.

By the way if anyone has lost a cold I seem to have found it. I am quite happy to return it to it's rightful owner. I don't think I really need it right now.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sushi Picture

I realised there was a picture I wanted to show you and that I am allowed to. The amazing sushi roll we had at wanKara. By the way if anyone knows what wanKara means I would love to know. This was a little something the chef made for us. He says it doesn't have a name yet. I wish I had taken a picture from above so you could see the rainbow effect better. It is eel and sesame seeds in an inside out roll. The outside of the roll is wrapped in squid, tuna, salmon, avocado, prawn and cuttlefish. So the colours are fantastic. The outer layer was at an angle so you got multiple flavours on each slice. It was very tasty. Even the ends were artistic with tufts of rocket. I really hope this sushi place does well. I love the food there and they really seem to care about what they do.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I am doing a lot of new work at the moment, but I can't show you any of it :( I can't even describe some of it. POUT. This is so frustrating. I can tell you I have spent a lot of today working on a Christmas quilt for Makower. It is really fun, and can double up as an advent calendar. Other than that I will have to wait until at least the weekend before showing you it :( It may be longer depending on Popular Patchwork, they want to use it as well and may ask me not to post it before they publish it. The other projects are top secret, so you will just have to believe me that I have been working hard.

I did find that laundrettes are pretty cool. It was a lot easier and more fun than I expected. I didn't have enough coins to start with (I came home and grabbed more) but the other people there helped me out. Everyone was surprisingly friendly. I think it would be a great way to meet new people. A lot of them were fascinated by the fact I was knitting socks. I guess it isn't very common now, and I hope that it might get someone else into crafts. You guys were quite right about the machines being quick. I think the wash only took 30 minutes. If I had managed to get one of the big washers I think I could have got two quilts in one wash, but even using two washers and then drying the quilts completely it cost less than getting a cleaner to do it for me. Also doing it this way I know that they have been washed rather than tumbled with chemicals. I had a bad experience with a cleaner handing me back quilts as dirty as when I dropped it off, so this is a big bonus. It has made me a lot more positive about making some really big quilts. I know I can clean them and it is quite fun. So how big can I go...

Hmm, it is actually the early hours of Tuesday morning, not sure why blogger thinks it is Sunday.

Published Author

I've done it, I am really published., OK it's only a magazine, and it isn't a terribly long pattern but I am excited. I am a subscriber so I got my copy yesterday but it will be on sale in the shops about Wednesday. For those of you I have promised copies to that is when I will get them and send them out. Given I had been told it had been changed I am surprised by how close to my original it is. In fact I would have to get the original out and compare it to be sure what had changed. So if you get Popular Patchwork Issue 2 2007 keep an eye open for Under the Rainbow.

I tried to wash Ginko Typography this morning. It is a big quilt with 2 waddings in, but I thought it might fit my machine. Remember that in the UK most machines are front loaders and don't have massive capacity. Well I was nearly right. It is about two square feet bigger than my machine. I guess I will be finding a laundrette. I've never used one so it will be a new experience for me. Hopefully not too scary. I have no idea how long it will take or how much it will cost, but I can't see an alternative. wish me luck.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hi, I am still here

I thought this was going to be a quiet week, how wrong can you be. The bridal hand off went well Monday, and I took a little time off before preparing for my class the next day. Just as I was arriving for the class (only just on time due to bad traffic) I got a phone call. The job I had planned to do Wednesday - Friday had just become urgent and could I please get there today (Tuesday). I refused to cancel the class but said I would head over as soon as I had finished teaching. The job was prop making and ran until Thursday. We didn't quite get as much out as we wanted for the Wednesday, but we finished on time for the Thursday collection. It did involve some late nights to do it, and as you can imaging, after the double shift and then not a lot of sleep I have been too tired to blog.

Today I had a chance to work on the next magazine quilt. I've finished the base layer of the top. Tomorrow I will quilt it and add the details. It is supposed to have removable pieces, but I realised (after buying the velcro) that it might be better to stitch them in place on the quilt that will be going to trade shows. Oh well, I am sure I will use the velcro sometime.

In the midst of all this I did manage to go out for dinner on Thursday at my favourite sushi place. The food was good and it was nice to see them open again after moving. We ate until we were ready to burst and then the chef produced us 'desert'. It was an inside out roll with eel in the center. The outside was wrapped with assorted fish and avocado. It was beautiful. Fortunately I had my camera with me (I had been taking pictures of the snow on the way t work) so I managed to get a picture of it. Apparently it doesn't have a name yet, but I hope it gets one soon. Something that pretty really should have a name. It tasted amazing too, and despite having all claimed to be full we managed to eat it all. It's a great place. It is called Wankara, and is in Oriental City in Collindale..

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More from the vault

So, here is another batch from the photo shoot. The first in this batch is 'Bubbles'. I made it in a class with Pat Deacon. I almost finished it during the weekend of the class. The fabrics in it are all my own hand dyes, and I am very pleased with how well they work together. I keep thinking I should dye some more of these two colour fabrics, but I have so many projects on the go I haven't had time. I must get around to it soon.

Next is my most unsuccessful quilt. 'Bicameral Pierrot'. It has been in a few shows, and it has to be said the judges really don't like it. I love it. I find it really lively and comfortable. Until it finds a new home I am quite happy to look at it.

The tulips were also made in a class, but one I was teaching. They aren't entirely how I had planned to do it. One of the students made a mistake on her tulips and they looked so much better I copied them. I guess they prove there are chances to learn everywhere. I've put up the back as well as it shows the quilting better. This was one of my earlier longarm projects and I think it came out rather well. Unfortunately it is very tricky to photograph, and both sides need treating in different ways. Something we did discover is that different quilts need very different lighting. I had read that quilts like to be lit from the side with a defuse light. Having played around for an afternoon that seems to be true of flatter paler quilts. For the more textured quilts a more direct light seems to work far better. I guess it is just one of these things you have to try.

Lastly, there is 'Union Jack'. I keep trying to get good pictures of this quilt, and I haven't had much luck. I now understand why. It has a lot of contrast, it has very different luminosities in different areas. It really is a test of photographers skill. Fortunately I had some who knew what she was doing, and we got a pretty good picture. In closeup you can read the quilting now.

Quilts from the Vault

I've finally had time to look through the images from the photo shoot. I handed over the bridal outfit tonight, so I have time to post here.

These are three of the quilts we use on the bed. Although I am thinking about retiring two of them. The first one is called 'Flame On'. I made it before I had seen any bargello quilts, so I am pretty pleased with coming up with the same idea. It was strip pieced and then the strips shuffled. I didn't think of offsetting the seams thought. It would have been easier and I think more flamey. Still we live and learn. I also didn't know how to bind a quilt, so this one was done with satin ribbon, put on with a binding foot. It has done fine so it wasn't a big deal. It is quilted in invisible thread as I wasn't sure about quilting.

The second one was made as a black quilt no colour. It meets the spec, just. I made it on the overlocker because I thought it would be quicker (it was) but when you strip piece then cut the strips apart it weakens the overlocking considerably. This can be seen by the holes in the quilt. Again I hadn't worked out the quilting, so it is very minimal, and the binding is cotton tape. These are the two quilts that I think need to retire. To do that I need to replace them. I have plans for a new 'Flame On' but I haven't decided on a replacement for 'Monochrome'.

I knew 'Star Of Scotland' is a big quilt. It fits a king size bed, but not quilt frames at shows. However having seen the huge studio we were going to work in I had thought the quilt would fit. If it just touches the floor it just misses the ceiling lights. Still it is by far the best picture I've managed to get of it. All the fabrics in this quilt came from a trip to Edinburgh. I had gone there for a Linux conference and decided to see if I could buy any fabric. Bear in mind that I hadn't found my local quilt shop yet. I found three good shops and made full use of them. I knew I wanted to make a quilt with a rainbow on it, but I hated green. So I came up with this rainbow without green. I love it, but if I was going to do it again I would use all the colours.

This quilt is quilted in metallic silver thread, and I had a great idea for the design. I wanted to accentuate the spiral effect, so I thought I would quilt a spiral. It wasn't easy to draft an appropriate spiral, but quilting it was a real pain. I didn't think I could free motion it (I still don't think I could) so I had to rotate the whole of the quilt several times to quilt the spiral. I did get the effect I was looking for in the end. The edge is finished with prairie points. I would have put more on, but having run out of fabric I was kinda stuck with what I had. It has been much loved and seems to be dealing well with it.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

scarves and rust

I am sitting here on hold, so I thought I migh as well show you guys what I have been up to. I've just realised I should have taken a picture of the Road 2 Ca labels, but I didn't. Maybe later.

Still here is the second longarm scarf. This one is mine, it is very thick and warm. It is made from just 2 hanks of yarn, but each one is made up of many different types of yarn. It is very cool. I think it would be a nightmare to knit with so it is just as well I have another way to make it into a scarf. As you can see the tassles on the end are quite uneaven. I haven't decided yet whether to leave them like this or trim them. I figure there is no hurry to decide. I can cut them anytime.

You may remember that I broke the esxhast manifold a while ago. Well it didn't go to waste, I wrapped it in fabric and stuck it outside. I have been keeping an eye on it and today it struck me as done. So I brought it in and gave it a rinse. I think it looks really good. I seem to ahve an explosion, and some faces. There are parts that look like somke and some that remind me of aged paper. I think I might be able to use some of it for a map project I have been thinking about. I have re-wrapped the bits of manifold and added some other items, so in about a month I will hopefully have some rust dyed fabric available for sale. I'll be sure to post pictures here first.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Wanders Return

Wait and Miss Baltimore are back from The Road To California. They were well packed and arrived home in good condition. I was so thrilled to find cloth labels to add to the quilts saying they were displayed there. That is so cool. I wish our shows would do something like that. They also included a show guide. They got my name right and everything. I also have my judging sheets. I am surprised how brief they are but they do confirm my thoughts on the problems with the quilts. For Wait they mention the bearding and with Miss Baltimore that query the fabric choices. I think they are thinking of the show through I have on some of them. It was really good to have confirmation about my quilts problems, as that tells me I am thinking the right way.

I spent yesterday in a photographic studio with a very nice young lady and a lot of quilts. I now have some good pictures of some of my quilts. I will get them uploaded and post some here. It is scary to see how big some of them are. the studio looked huge, as did the backdrop, then I put up a bed quilt. Everything vanished! It is nice to have a picture of Start of Scotland though, it is a much loved quilt.