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 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.