Friday, March 30, 2007
The quilt on the frame is my first wholecloth. It is proving to be a bit of a stretch both for me and the machine. I have cleverly chosen a totally unforgiving combinations of fabric (black cotton sateen) threads (thin bright cottons and metallic silver) and designs. I even skipped the busy back. Now repeat after me, always use a busy back, always use a busy back.... but plain black would look so much nicer, if I could keep the tension perfect, yes it would. Bit of a tall order on a large bed quilt. Oh yes and having carefully tested the Hobbs 80/20 to be sure it wouldn't beard on black fabric (three times in fact) it is bearding. Doh!. Yes I have finally learned my lesson, there is a bolt of black wadding on it's way to me right now.
So I have a quilt which from maybe six feet away looks great on the front, close up it is OK, the back is just a train wreck. It was intended for the MQS show and for the Festival of Quilts. About lunchtime I was wondering if I should forget about entering it. I mean it does have more issues than Rolling Stone Magazine. Having thought about it some more I am going to send it. I think it is a good design (I would it's all mine). I've put a lot of effort in and I want to show it off. It is interesting, as you might expect from me doing something traditional. I don't really have an alternative I want to make for the FoQ. Most importantly shows are full of perfect or near perfect quilts. I know I don't learn much from the bits that are right, I know what I am aiming for. I learn more from the errors, from things that would have worked better a different way, and from seeing where I have already mastered something that is evidently not easy. So I am putting quilt into shows for this reason. Hopefully people will learn from my mistakes and feel inspired and encouraged (believe me a lot will be able to look at this and think they can do better tension wise). I think that is worthy in it's own right. It has also changed the quilts name, it was Guide me Home, it is now simply Guide Me. I have learned a lot from it, and it has indeed guided me.
The other concern I have heard a lot is about letting out a substandard piece of work. Will people still want me to quilt their quilts or will they think my tension is always this bad. My first though when I considered this was thank goodness this wasn't a customer quilt. I can choose to accept this mess on mine but I would never leave it on a customers. I would have had to take out all the problem quilting and keep trying until I got it perfect. It is a relief that it is only a show quilt. Daft maybe but that's how I see it. However prospective customers won't know that will they. They will just see the quilt on it's own. I can write this sort of information in my statement, but will they read it? I do see this is a concern, but I don't think it is a huge risk. If they are a customer I was really likely to get they will have seen my other work, and know that this is not normal. If they are a customer I enjoy working for they will have already know that this quilt breaks a lot of my guidelines and has done everything I warn them about, so in fact it proves I am telling the truth. The few who do look at it and think me a terrible quilter, would probably never have been my customers anyway, and I suspect I would not be the right quilter for them. I discovers a long time ago that my name is great for preselecting jobs. Those companies that don't like it and don't want to see me are the same companies I don't want to work for , we just don't gel. The customers who judge that quickly are not the customers I am going to gel with either, we would both be happier with someone else. As such i am going to take my chances. It could be that it is striking enough from the front to get picked up by magazines, and in a photo it will look just fine.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I also noticed that a lot of quilters read their email at the same time. Well judging from the string of phone calls :) So next time you are feeling lonely (and it is quite a lonely profession) rest assured there is someone else doing the same thing far closer than you would imagine.
I have also been making progress on the current project, though not as much as I would have liked. I have just started putting colour on it. I decided it was time to stop when I noticed the time and then broke my bobbin thread twice by bad cornering. I think I need to get to bed. I feel so supported and taken care of, thank you all so much.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Now I am really looking forward to a nice long hot bath. I ache in all sorts of odd places from tracing designs and using the ruler so much. I feel like I have earned it.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I am working very hard trying to get my entries for MQS ready, and it hasn't all gone according to plan so far. You may remember that I am waiting for more thread to let me finish My Fat Quarter Of Paradise. Well last night I though I was going to have two unfinished quilts. The almost full cone of thread I had started with was looking pretty skinny and I was only half way through the quilting. There is no way I could have got another spool of this in time. It had to work, and just last. As you can see from the picture, it did, just. How close was that? The picture shows what is left of a 3000m cone of thread. There isn't even any left on the machine to putt through a new thread, that's the lot. I am feeling very lucky. More amusing was the thread on the bobbin was the same length, that I could have rewound, but it is nice to have an empty bobbin instead of an annoy little bit left.
As you can see I decided to quilt this Turning Twenty Again with my Decadence Scrolls. It is a lovely fill to work and is very quick for the density of quilting. I see me using this quite a lot. It is very similar to the quilting I did on Miss Baltimore who won me an award for the quilting, so hopefully I am not the only one who thinks it looks good.
Is this picture good enough as a close up of quilting? It is hard for me to tell as I know what it looks like. Also I think it is effected by the type and resolution of monitor. So let me know if I have cracked it or if I need to put up larger images.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
I am still on hold, apparently my call is important and they are experiencing a high number of calls. Well yes if the web site isn't booking collections I would think they are. Still I also suspect that a competent bug report will be appreciated so I will stay on hold a little longer.
To try and overcome the boredom I have taken a photo of the face I painted this afternoon. I am not entirely happy with it, the lips are far too dark. I wonder if I would have been better off just working in a sepia tone through out as his lips are pretty much the same colour as his skin. Still it is a lot better than I would have expected to be able to do and didn't take that long either so I am quite happy. It also gave me the chance to go through all the steps again so hopefully I will remember them now. I find I have to do things at least twice before they start to sink in.
I do plan on doing a few more to try and really get this into my brain, but I am struggling to find willing victims. I guess I will have to stick to famous people for now.
Hmm, so having finally got through, it was a glitch. No they aren't going to look into it afterall I have organized another collection, and it hasn't happened to anyone else. If I book by phone it won't happen again. Well Duh! Got to love help desks.
It is really quite hard to take pictures of quilting when it matches the background but I have had a go. If you look closely you can see that is it quilted with flames all over. They are quite large and worked up very quickly. I am really pleased with the front of the quilt, and if I do have to take it out I know it will be quick to put back in. Hopefully it wouldn't take that long to unpick either. The picture of the back show the quilting a bit better and gives an idea of the tension problems.
I got the Nude Triptych packed up and ready to go to Trentham. The Makower project packed up and ready to go, my passport application ready to send except for the photos and left the house with 3 hours to post all of these before I needed to be at the dentist. Sounds pretty doable doesn't it. So why are the nudes still standing by my desk?
I have asked the post office before about this package and they say it is too big for them, so off to Parcel Force I go. I know there is no problem there as the package is a roll 1.8m long and 0.5m in girth less than their maximum of 3m. No problems, and they do 48hr shipping with is perfect. See I had this all planned. So I get there and try to hand it over. The chap on the desk points at the wall next to me, where there is a new poster. Any package longer than this will not be accepted. Well guess what, mine is longer. I would guess the line is about 1.5m (I suggest you check if this is important to you). However to his credit he says he can't see why the shouldn't take it and goes off to ask a manager. The manager says no. They just can't handle something that big. Bear in mind I am carrying it around, I am moving it in a car. How hard can it be with a burly lad and a large van. Besides why state one set of regulations online then surprise you with extra restrictions when you arrive.
So I need another idea. Fortunately I know people who ship daft size packages and I am recommended to try City Link. I called another friend for directions and off I go, fortunately they are pretty close to Parcel Force, unfortunately I get lost. I do however find interlink, I know they are OK so I try there. You can't actually pay on site you have to phone their booking line, but still not a big deal. Except they won't accept the package. The quilt is designed to hang on the wall, so it is art and they don't ship art. OK, back to hunting City Link. City Link think they might ship the package (hooray) but not without an account. An account takes 4 days to set up and then they will look it up for me. I need the quilt to arrive on Monday. I give up, my only option is to use DHL, but at least I can book a collection for tomorrow from home. Moral of this story, art quilts are really hard to ship if you need the carrier to insure them. If you don't you can just call them fabric and they will take them. Oh yes, Parcel Force don't accept art either.
By this time I was running very late, so the slightly washed out passport photos had better be good enough, because I didn't have time to take another set and I really want to get my forms in before they change the regulations again.
The dentist was pretty good though and gave me time to write a new pattern, I will be trying to get the sample made up this week, so watch this space.
Monday, March 19, 2007
This is the third and final Turning Twenty Again. It hasn't told me it's name yet, but then I haven't been working on it long. I should point out that both these tops were started yesterday afternoon and we have both been out all day. I guess it will tell me as I quilt it. I wanted to see what effect 1/3 black would have on it, and I like it. If I do make another I think I will try 2/3 black. It should give very sparse blocks of colour which I think will be really interesting and a great canvas for quilting on. I like the idea of random disjointed areas of colour. I also think it would be a good pattern to modify to get a very Mondrian look. I can see a lot of that style in this one and I would like to take that further.
I have had a copy of Bonnie's book Portrait Quilts - Painted Faces You Can Do. I read through it. I decided I couldn't and put the book on the shelf. This should not be seen as a reflection of the book, it has far more to do with my fears of art and drawing. I now know this is the case. You see now I have done the course I know the book says, do what you do with fabric but in paint. It is pretty much exactly the technique I use for all my nudes, yet when I first read the book I missed that entirely. I put that down to panic, and the voices in my head telling me I can't do it. I still don't quite believe I did, and I keep thinking I must have cheated or got lucky, so I plan on doing another as soon as possible. In fact I plan on buying some more fabric from her tomorrow so I can get to it right away. Maybe once I have done a few I will start to believe I can. It's worked with the nudes, I am now sure I can do anything I can think of.
The face is designed to be cut out and applied to a background, it also needs hair and clothes, but I think you can get the idea. Bear in mind I am really not a painter, and I am terrified of anything this artistic. In fact it was quite a stressful day, even though I enjoyed it enormously. Every time I picked up the brush to paint my hand was shaking, not helpful for drawing fine lines. Then to round of the day I got videoed again. Eeek, that is even more scary, but very worthwhile, I love Bonnie's pod casts and I would love to make it onto another, especially as it was with Decadence. I guess I will learn to get comfortable with cameras too. It helps as well that I have seen how good Bonnie is at editing, if anyone can make me look like I have a clue it is her. She is a very good teacher, and I've learned a lot today, not just about painting faces. Thanks for all the advice and encouragement Bonnie.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Ta da! Another nude, I bet no one is surprised. I am hoping this one will be seen as a bit more sensual and less sinister than the last one (which I will finish and post detail pictures of). The title of this one probably gives the game away as to what I am hoping people will see. Soft warm opulent, sensual. I don;t think any of my nudes are really intended to be sexy, it's not the point. People, and women in particular are so curvy and full of wonderful shapes, I just have to make them as quilts. I guess it is a common thing with artists, they look to nature for inspiration and this is what I found. Part of the attraction is the satisfaction I get from seeing the shape come together with just one colour and the challenge from trying to quilt it. Women are so smooth that putting quilting lines in that don't detract from their shapes is really tricky, but I love doing it.
The colour is most true in the first image. None of them are perfect, but that is the problem with taking pictures indoors late at night. Even with all the white balance settings I have i still can't get it quite right. Even though I took lots of pictures of this as I worked on it to try and get an idea of a distance view, I have just spotted something I don't like, but it is there now and I have to live with it. I guess that is always the way. Every time I finish I find something I don't like and will do differently next time. I suppose that is good as it means I am learning from each piece, but it is annoying too.
The quilting in the background is quite hard to photograph. It is in dark red thread on the black marbled background. I wanted to soften both the colour and the texture of the background and I am very happy with how that came out. The quilting pattern also felt good to do which fitted the piece perfectly.
I would like feed back on this. Is this one less disturbing? Does it have the feel of decadence I was looking for? Clicking on the pictures will bring up a larger version.
The quilt is about (not trimmed and bound yet) 45" x 35".
Friday, March 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I've just taken this quilt off the frame, sadly not because I've finished quilting. I ran out of thread. I never expected a quilt to take more than a whole cone, but apparently they do. Still I thought you might like to see how it is going. I love it and I am finding the quilting pattern very soothing to work. It is also getting faster and faster as I practice. This quilt is more than 100" square and I think it will take about 7 hours to quilt. That is longer than I hoped but still pretty good for a quilt that size. The idea of these bread and butter quilts is that they should be quick and easy to quilt and I think this fits the bill. It is hard to judge though as I don't know what the 'standard' time for quilting this size of quilt is.
I have also realised that having an electric fabric advance would save me a lot of time on this kind of design. I am going to start looking at putting something on my frame to achieve this. I don't use the APQS frame that goes with my machine because it won't fit in the house, so I can't just buy the system from them.
Hopefully my thread will arrive soon and I will be able to put this back on the frame, until then I have plenty of other projects to work on. The piece which is caling loudest is my new nude, but I can't get to that until I have cleared some more paying work. Wish me luck to get it all done quickly. I have to admit that I will be quite enjoying a lot of the paying work anyway :)
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Well as this quilt has now gone back to it's owner and she is happy I will show you the quilt that was causing me all the stress with feathers.
The bit that was giving me the problems was the setting triangles, the more traditional feathers. They don't look too scary now they are done but boy did I struggle with them. Oddly I had moments when I could just do it and all was well, then suddenly they were hard again. It was a very odd experience.
On a more positive note the feathers in the kaleidoscopes were great fun to do. I love the way they flow. I've started putting them onto my quilt this evening. Of course the machine detected my desire to do this quickly and has been having a bit of a strop. Still it is going well and I love the way it looks, so I will persevere. I am a little concerned I may run out of thread. I have a 3000m cone but I am using it front and back. I can't remember how big it was before I started, but I think I will weigh a similar one and compare it to this one. If I am short I guess I will have to order another. Rather annoying given it will have to come from the USA. Still I have a little time to get things together.
I have lots of things I want to get on with now. I have a nude to quilt, a pattern to finish writing up and not one but two quilts to make for the local quilt shop. The best bit is these are all actually exciting and I want to be getting on with them. Sadly no amount of excitement adds hours to the day. It really should you know. So much to do so little time.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
This is my not terribly good illustration of different types of feathers. A is what I woudl call a traditional feather, the sort made up of half hearts. These are teh ones I find really tricky. B is the peacock feather. I love these and I think mine look OK. These are what I have in mind for the batik quilt. I find the half a heart shape really tricky to do for some reason.
I did manage to figure out a way to make a ribbon stencil into a continuous line last night. I hadn't been worrying about it as I had seen an article in Unlimited Possibilities about it recently, but when I looked I didn't like their solution. So I had to start thinking, always a painful process, but I managed it. I was really pleased with the result, and it has given me renewed confidence to tackle the evil feathers. I think I will write to them and offer my alternative solution, as I guess it is a common problem to want to make stencils nto continuous lines.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I have just taken my next batch of fabric off it's rust. I am really pleased with it. I know it isn't everyones thing but the delicate patterns are amazing and i don't think anything other than these very long dye times will get the same effect. I wonder if there are other natural dyes that will take very slowly. I think I will be playing with different dyes over the summer. I do especially like the fact that the rust dying can sit outside. It gives me a little more space in this raher full house.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Being my first event as a committee member I felt I had to do something useful, so I volunteered to be hostess for Gwenfai Rees-Griffiths, sounds pretty safe doesn't it. A couple of days before I realised I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Well, nothing our esteemed leader couldn't deal with, I got a a crib sheet of instructions almost instantly. Where would I be without her to rely on? All I had to do was meet Gwenfai, and help her with any setting up, bring drinks that sort of thing. Of course on the way there I did realise I had a small technical problem. I had no idea what Gwenfai looked like. I have a terrible memory for people, and names at the best of times. In the midst of a cold there was just no chance. I figured it would work out somehow and I wasn't going to worry about it.
I did very quickly realise why you want a drag racer on the crew for a quilt event. we expected 140 people and had parking for about 20 cars. My job was to fit all the cars into the spaces available, without blocking the road to the doctors surgery. OK, so this is just like finding the perfect fabric for a project the realising it is 2" too short, and spending the rest of the day working out how to make it fit right. I do that all the time. I am also fairly used to putting cars into too small spaces, and I was so thrilled when I did get everyone in. Even better they all seemed to get out again without a huge problem. I am sure I shouldn't have found it that satisfying, but I did.
The traders were Fourshires books, and Sunflower Fabrics. I actually got a chance to chat to them both and they are really nice people. I was especially pleased to be able to talk about astrophysics with the man from Fourshires, sorry I didn't get his name. It isn't often I get to talk about the more techie things I've done. Sadly I missed a lot of the first talk with was Shirley Bloomfield, "Baltimore with an English Twist", every time I went back into the hall I started sneezing and had to run away. that is why I got to get to know the traders more, but I would rather have heard the talk. It wasn't a talk that really grabbed me from the title, but having seen how modern and English her quilts are I was much more interested. So much so that I think I could see me doing a Baltimore style quilt at some time now. Yes hand sewing and all! If you haven't seen her work I recommend you do, she has added a great twist to a very traditional quilt style.
At some point Gwenfai snuck in and I had to be rounded up to do my hostess duty. I am not convinced it counts as a duty, it was a lot of fun. I got to 'keep her company' also known as have a chat with the guest all on my own, what a treat. Even bringing in the quilts wasn't onerous. Gwenfai has made her own bags they each hold several quilts and have nice long handles. They are quite similar to the blanket bags I bought but much better made and more robust. I think I will have to get around to making my own. Once the stage was set and show and tell done Gwenfai got down to the serious business of talking. Well maybe serious is the wrong word to use to describe her talk, it was very entertaining, I will always think of quilters as a breed and her as the best of breed, you'll have to go and see the talk to finds out why won't you. I am grinning just thinking about it. Of course with the talk came my other terrible task, I had to handle all of her quilts. See terrible, a dreadful imposition. OK so I am not fooling any of you am I, it was great, even though my arms ached at the end of it. Holding up the quilts means you get to see the quilting really up close. It was very inspiring. I love her piped bindings. At least that is what I think I would call them, I may be about to be corrected. At some point I think I will have to try them for myself. What I liked about them was how firm they make the edge of the quilt. I suspect they will help it to hang well on the wall. I have just remembered I was going to ask her a question, I think she mentioned doing something to the bottom of the quilt to make it hang well and I was going to ask for details. I guess I will be having to go to another of her talks too.
For those of you on quiltart you may remember a while ago a discussion about speakers having to sit through show and tell and whether they would object. I too the opportunity to ask a more experienced speaker what she thought. She agrees with me, it is great to see what other people are making. Whatever stage they are at in quiltmaking it is always interesting. Beginner means not encumbered by rules and conventions, thus more likely to do something new and exciting. Being dumb enough to stand on the stage and speak doesn't mean too dumb to be interested in what is going on in the world of quilting :)
I know I have missed out a lot in this write up, it was a fun and busy day. It would be great to have even worse parking headaches at the next event, if that means I get to see more of you. The next Regional day will be 6th October in Leverstock Green, feel free to get in touch if you want more information.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Not only have I got the top finished but I also have a name for it. Not bad really. I am not sure if I like this pattern, it does work but I think I like something more planned. It may partly be a problem with my fabric choice, I think I would like the pattern better in maybe oriental fabrics, or perhaps mostly solid black with a few really vibrant colours. Hmmm I might have to try that, it would be really interesting to quilt on.
I used the 30 fat quarter version and it is almost big enough for our bed already so once I put on the plain black borders it will be perfect. I think it will be interesting to have the quilting just flow onto the borders as thought they were a continuation of the top. The point of this is to be quick ans simple quilting that would be good to put on quick low cost customer quilts.
As you can see my moon is hanging over the bed. On my very high tech quilt hanging system. Well stick on lampshades is fairly hight tech isn't it? It works quite well having the moon against the blue wall.
Monday, March 05, 2007
It has also inspired me to think about designing quilts using fat quarters. I had already been planning quilts using strips but this gives of a whole new line to follow. I have even more incentive too. If i can make a good enough pattern it might become one of the allowed bread and butter quilts. How cool would that be?
Sunday, March 04, 2007
OK, so you are on the way home from the cinema, you see some people setting up a camera, you have a stinking cold and you just want to go to bed. What do you do next? You remember the total lunar eclipse grab a camera and tripod and head out to the most exposed spot you can find. I suggest picking up a warm coat at the same time, it would make things a lot less cold. In London exposed places aren't easy to find but we found a good spot and I did take some pictures. I can't say they are perfect, it was too windy for my tripod so all the pictures are a bit shaky, still I thought I would share them anyway.
The first picture was taken during totality. The moon was really very orange, it looks very odd, yet quite wonderful too. It was a long exposure, I think in the region of 30 seconds, so the wind was a major factor. I like the fact that you can see the dark areas even on such a blurred picture. I should mention I this is just a large lens, I don't have a telescope. I think I will be putting one on my wish list I do love taking pictures of the sky.
The second picture was just coming out of totality. It allowed a shorter exposure so less blur. It was hard to be sure when you first saw the eclipse end but this photo definitely has a bright crescent on it.
In the last picture the moon was getting very bright where it was coming out of the eclipse. It was giving the camera a hard time and had this wonderful glow around it. I did take some more with shorter exposures afterwards but I rather like this image. It gives a feel of how bright that crescent really is.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
I have done half a shawl today, I have a stinking cold (again) and I haven't felt up to quilting. They think you can make the whole thing in 6-9 hours. I think they are right, mine will be about 30" by 50" and should easily be done in 7 hours. The hardest part has been getting the yarn off the balls (some have been rewound a bit in the shop). You knit with several strands of wool (I am using 6, the magazine pattern suggests 12) on very large needles. With so many strands you enf up with a very dense fabric rather then the holey one you would normally get with these huge needles. I have 32 stitches accross my shawl. It's great, and grows so fast.