Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last update

Well this is as far as I will get this year. I finished the background fill in the middle and all the line work is done. Have a good new year.

Darn the photo looked in focus on my phone, sorry. I will try better tomorrow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Back to quilting

I took a couple of days off over the Christmas period, but I still managed to do some crafty things. Notably I knitted a scarf. Not impressed? What if I tell you I knitted it in the car between London and Winchester services? A student gave me a ball of wool that was a scarf in a ball and I thought it wuld be a fun distraction in the car. It took me a while to get the hang of knitting with it. I knit with a tight tension and this wool spaces you to quite loose tension (it's a pom pom wool) I think this and the speed it grows would make it a great beginners project. Once I got into the swing of it it went really well and it's a very snuggly scarf.

That was Christmas eve and for the next couple of days I played board games and only thought about quilts. I was getting bored and would have started piecing but I am very low on black fabric so none of my designs was viable. By yesterday I was desperate to be quilting. Holidays are all very well but it means there is a lot of work to do before and after and I need to finish my quilt on the frame before I can do customers quilts. I made what looks like good headway with that quilt. I did a lot of outline work, in fact I think that is nearly finished. Of course the filler is what takes the time so it's not as much progress as I would like but every little helps. I doubt I will get to work on it today, but I should tomorrow.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Finally, we've got a white midwinter. We had considered going abroad to find one, but anywhere with guaranteed snow was out of our price range. Just as well, as we'd have been really miffed to have spent the money and found out we could have stayed at home. I've been getting excited for a few days now, as The Met Office have been forecasting heavy snow for today, but yesterday they downgraded the forecast to sleet. At least when I woke up this morning, there was still snow on the ground.

After a traditional festive breakfast of scrambled eggs and gravadlax and Coke Zero (I forgot to buy any orange juice), we thought it would be a good idea to visit one of our favourite shops, Leisure Games in Finchley. As we left, it was just starting to rain. We discussed whether, as the temperature dropped, the rain might turn to snow, but even if it did, with so much water on the ground, there was no real chance of it settling. As we arrived in Finchley, we were proved right. The rain had indeed turned to snow, but wasn't settling.

Games shopping is much like fabric shopping. You have to inspect every item in the shop, make a selection, realise it's entirely wrong and start again, but eventually, we left with a moderate armful of games. It was still snowing, as we left the shop and surprisingly, it had started to settle. By the time we reached the car, it was definitly settled, which was unfortunate, given the tight turns and steep ramps of the car park, and the prospect of a route home with several significant hills. It's been very beautiful and festive, but 3 hours and less than 10 miles later, I'm still driving (no, I'm not typing, Tet is).

I would quite like to get home now. We had food and drink in the car, but its bathroom facilities are sorely lacking. Should I have stayed at home? Nah! It's been great, despite (or perhaps because of) some hairy sideways moments, and one extremely slippery roundabout. Hopefully it will only be another half hour or so before I'm reunited with modern plumbing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Slowly very slowly

So here is todays update. I unwound it so I could get a better look at it, and of course that made it too big to photograph. Oh well. I have tried not to over do it today so I haven't got as much further as I would like. I have worked on another project a little though. I want a new coat and I have had half a plan for something quite flamboyant for a while. Now I would say it is about 80% of a plan. I've ordered the extra fabrics I need (I have quite a dressmaking stash) and when I need another break I may start work on the pattern adjustments. Lots to do, so little time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still progressing

As you can see I am making slow but steady progress on this quilt. It really isn't something you can rush (and I have tried believe me) it will be done when it is good and ready, not before. I think I might be half way now, but I'm not certain. I guess I won't know for sure where I am until I've done :) As you can see it has got to the point where the area I want to work on in one lump is bigger than I can see at one time. It's more frustrating when I am working on something free form, I can only see it in my head with no guides at all to compare to. It's taking more faith than most of my work, and I usually have some sort of map to work to, but hopefully it's simple enough to come out OK when it's done.

I got my copies of Down Under Quilting in the post. It's a good feeling magazine and I am really thrilled with the article in it. It is also available as a very well thought out online magazine, if you feel like saving some trees and postage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Doesn't look like much but...

Progress is very slow on this one, but it is progressing. This is where I got to before lunch. I would guess another days work would get me to the half way point, so the bigger version will probably take over a month of solid work. I think it might be time to buy zippers for my leaders. I can't take a whole month off customer quilts and to be honest it's sufficiently hard work that I don't really want to work on it for that long without a break.

Skinning a quilt

This is the video I was talking about that will teach you how to skin a quilt. If I have two layers of wadding I will work between the layers to try and reduce the risk to my quilt top and back.

I don't have her funky little tool, I use a very sharp knife. I works very well especially on the tight little stitches you can't get at any other way. I have a feeling those used to skinning other things will have an advantage with this technique, let me know. Please do be careful with sharp blades. I am amazed how many quilters are very casual with them. To be good for cutting fabric or threads (and especially this techniques) the blade does have to be very sharp. The sort of sharp where you probably won't feel it cut you, you'll just see the blood. None of us like getting blood on our quilts so make sure you pay attention to where you are putting your blade.

Backside and progress

Two pictures for you tonight (this morning?) This first one is the back of the quilt that has spent the day occupying our bedroom. It is Phoenix Rising, now happily rolled up and almost ready to ship to Road to California. I love the back of this quilt because not only can you see the quilting but you can see that is was put together feather by feather, and where the feathers overlap so does the quilting. Of course when the quilt is at shows very few get to appreciate it, especially as the best of the quilting is high up. If I get a chance I will try and photograph the whole of the back, but it won't be for a while.

Here we have the quilt I am currently playing on on the frame. As you can see the feathers are growing and the background filling. It's slow work and I am now on my third needle. I haven't been breaking them just wearing them out. I also realised today that there is as much thread in this small pieces as I usually use on a double bed quilt. Given I have only quilted a piece about 12"x80" that's a lot of thread. It's also very hard work, lots of very small movements with a big machine is good exercise. I'm glad I will be seeing my osteopath next week. I can certainly tell I am learning a lot with this one, which is good as the next is already planned and I think I have the fabric to make it too. I will have a break between this one and that though as I will need a rest after this. I have several customer quilts that will be a nice change, and even pretty detailed work is going to seem quick for a while.

Monday, December 14, 2009

We do the impossible

and before breakfast too! I can't block large quilts, we just don't have the space. Our biggest rooms are about the same size as my quilts and strangely they are full of furniture, who would have thought it. There isn't room for us to take the furniture out of one room and move it to another. So how do you block a large quilt? Well you buy a lot of thick polystyrene boards and lay them out on the bed and overhanging all the way around. Of course this does mean that once you are on the opposite side of the room to the door the only way back is to wriggle on your belly around the end of the bed under the boards. Half way through the escape I did wonder why the army train for blocking quilts. You really don't need a fit of giggles when trying to wriggle through a tight space with lots of turns. We also discovered that there is a limit to how far you can reach and accurately place a pin. The limit being about 3" less than you need, typical. Still it's done and it looks great. Hopefully it will dry during the day and we will be able to go to bed tonight, if not the sofa will have to be dug out from the pile of quilts waiting to be quilted, or I could just sleep under the longarm.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Speak or stay silent

I belong to several mail list, mostly quilt related. When I first joined I listened, I tried to soak up the feel of the lists. When I felt I had I understood the lists I started posting to join in with the community. Now I write two or three posts per list per day when I have time at my computer. However I send maybe one per month. Why? Well I can't figure out the rules for most of the lists any more. Actually I can figure out a lot of rules. So many that I can't see what you can safely post to some of these lists.

One rule I think I understand is no commercial posts. Many lists are funded by advertising so it makes sense that if you want to advertise you should pay. Should you also remove the link to your website from you signature? What about the link to your blog, or talking about your blog, or providing a link to a piece of your work which is on your business site? Well that depends, on who is reading on what day and how they feel. Should those who make money from their quilting even join these lists? Is it OK if they only read and don't post?

What about going off topic? Personally if the group allows it and it's marked in the subject line, I don't mind but in some places it causes a lot of problems. Should the group set rules to prohibit anything off topic (then how close do we have to stay to the topic to be safe?) or should the members understand that some others don't like them and just stop out of concern for the rest. Then again should the objectors tolerate it for the benefit of those who do want to discuss issues further afield.

What if a quilt (or indeed a customer interaction) could be seen as racial, political or religious by another group member does this then become taboo on an otherwise quilt focused list?

Maybe you can start to see why I don't post much. This has been a very bad couple of weeks for 'rules' appearing. I say it like that as none of the lists seem to have these 'rules' and yet they should be obeyed. Tricky if you don't know what they are. Your best guess from yesterday may be utterly out of date by tomorrow when your message is read, so it's a lot easier to keep quiet. Saying nothing offends no one. Of course it helps no one either. I wonder how many have given up, losing one voice on a list doesn't matter. Losing 2 or 3 isn't really a big deal either, but I'm pretty good at speaking my mind, and I've shut up. that suggests to me a heck of a lot of quieter and more timid people have too. People who probably have a lot to share. In my experience quiet people listen and learn, so are a font of information, if only others will give them a safe place to share. Of course that then puts me in the same place all the other list subscribers who make new 'rules'. Just like them I want the list to deliver what I want and like them I think it will be for the good of many if not all.

This brings me to the point of the post. Just because I am a member of a group doesn't mean I get any say in how it behaves, I have no more rights than the next person, and if it doesn't fit me it's time to move and find something that is a better fit. I don't know if groups just bicker more this time of year, but it seems to be one of my close of the year traditions, a cull of mail lists and groups. This year it looks like there are plenty that I can do without, although I will miss some of them and wish for a more live and let live attitude, I think I will be happier without the stresses. On the other hand this year I have discovered a couple of really good groups too. Mostly by members visiting this blog and leading me to them. To the friendly and accepting groups, thank you, and I hope you keep your wonderful atmosphere.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Current insanity

This may be one of those seemed like a good idea at the time type projects. In fact the time it seemed like a good idea might have only been the bit before I started but who knows, it may get better. There are some good points to this project, the main one being it is smaller than the one I really wanted to make. With the amount of work involved that could be claimed as a sure sign of good sense except the only reason it isn't bigger is that I couldn't find a bigger piece of fabric that would work with the idea. This is also the second take, I've already had to unpick once. Boy am I glad I found the video on skinning a quilt. It was a lot easier than any other method I've found.

I am also very pleased to be trying this idea. It is hard work and I am having to learn new skills, but it is so much better than just sitting thinking about it. It will be interesting to see how much I improve over the course of the project. I am hoping when I need to quilt the focal points I will have improved enough to make a good job of them. I have at least learned one thing I don't like so won't repeat somewhere more prominent. Now I guess I should go and do a bit more quilting on it. Tomorrow I won't get much quilting done as I will be teaching 10 others to do it down in Putney. I am sure we will have a lot of fun, and I will get to rest my shoulders.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Pretty goodies

Here are the goodies I was talking about. Calendars, notebooks and mugs. The calendars have a different quilt for each month. I tried to get in lots of my new quilts and kept a few old favourites. The mug has nude with rope on it, going most of the way around the mug. If you want to orde any of these items please ues the contact me link to the right.

My article in Down Under Quilts has come out, and seemed to have been well received. It is available not only as a traditional magazine but also as a digital subscription. I haven't been a fan of digital magazines, but they have managed to get the feel of looking a magazine. You can flip pages and look closer easily. It's a fun magazine well worth a look. I am out and about at the moment so can't supply a link but if you search for the title, Down Under Quilts, you will find it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Banks, and goodies.

Hmm, I feel I have to post about banks given the amount of time and energy they suck from me, but I'm not sure if I should be praising or cursing mine at the moment. My bank account has been a catalog of errors, culminating in me being totally locked out of my account on the 1st December. That's pretty bad right. I was given a few possible solutions, none of which were likely to work, but today I went into the bank to try and sort it out. The first person I spoke to remembered me from my last visit (trying to fix a different and still unresolved set of problems) and correctly identified this had gone beyond anything she could fix and need to be handed over to a manager. Which she did as quickly as she could. He was helpful and fixed most of my problems, some we decided to leave as fixing them would cause more issues, some he can't fix, as the bank doesn't allow him to. Overall I now have a working bank account again, some services that have never worked now will, and I can get at my money. On the other hand, it has taken up a lot of time to get back to just mostly working. Hence my dilemma, good or bad?

On the other hand I was very late getting to the bank as every time I tried to leave the house I got another book order in. From that point of view it has been an amazing day. Other than it being a far better use of my time to post lots of books at once (at the great self service machine) it's lovely to know so many people want to buy my book. I am definitely making a dent in the book mountain. Thank you all for the orders and please do send me pictures of your finished quilts I would love to see what you do with the ideas.

I will also be trying to add some new merchandise to my web site this weekend. I have mugs with 'Nude with Rope' on them for eight pounds each, wall calendars, and desk calendars eight and five pounds respectively with a picture of a different quilt every month and A5 notebooks with my blue nude on them. They have been selling to quickly for me to get pictures of them, but more arrived this morning so I should manage to get some pictures before they all head off again. Finally, for those who like my pencils, I will be adding those for sale too, at 10p each. If you are ordering anything else, put a note on that you would like a pencil or two and I will put them in for free.

Now I think it is time to do some quilting. Starting your day at 5.30pm is a bit sad really isn't it.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Quilt on the frame

This is what is currently on the frame. It is a sample for a pattern I have written, which should be available early next year. I've had the top waiting to quilting for a while and as I needed a breather from demanding quilts I thought I would get it done. After all I need it finished to put on the pattern. I have already quilted one sample of the pattern with feathers in the spots so I wanted something different for this one. I've put a different filler in each colour of spot on the quilt and in the black areas I am making different borders with the quilting. I got about two thirds of the way though yesterday, which was pretty good, but I would like to have if finished for tomorrow lunch time. It's not likely, but I have found someone to do binding or me and it would have been nice to hand it over to her. I guess after the months it has already waited another week isn't going to matter.

The wadding in the quilt is wool, Dream Wool to be precise, which is the wool it the holiday quilt as well. Sorry that took a while to find out. The label was in a safe place and took some extracting.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Road 2 California

I finally gave in and called them. They are usually very prompt with notifications and I was getting really worried that my entries might not have got through even to the jury process (I had some issues getting them submitted). However the entries did make it, and were considered. Two of my three quilts have been accepted for the show. Phoenix Rising and Mother will be going to the show, so I had better sort them out with labels and get them packed up. Bad Rain unfortunately didn't make it. It's a shame I thought it would fit in well there, but they have said that this year they had to reject quilts they would have liked to have had due to time and space restrictions, so I don't think I can feel too hard done by. At least now I can stop worrying about it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Much quilting

It's been another one of those quilt the world weekends. Two monster quilts are now ready to return home. A third has just resisted me though. The backing isn't big enough. I am glad I checked. It was a quilt I took in during a class and I trust the maker so I didn't check the measurements. The quilt is a king size, so was going to be a tight fit on the backing whatever the case, sadly when the backing was prewashed it shrank enough that it will no longer fit the top at all. Yes it can be fixed, yes I should have checked it. Still right now I feel thwarted by the quilt. I am glad I decided to check the measurements before I started, if not when I took the quilt in.

Now I think I will tackle some of the smaller quilts I have waiting for a change. There seems to have been a run of huge quilts the last few months. Maybe quilters are doing their bit to save energy and reduce global warming. It is much better to have an extra quilt on the bed rather than turning up the heating. Speaking of which, I think it might be time to find the hot water bottle.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Brain itch

Last night my brain started itching, it does that. Something wanted out and I couldn't quite see what. It was a jumble, with the holiday quilt playing a part and star and shading and well stuff. So I tried looking through the books I had been looking at just before and after the Festival of Quilts as all the other stuff seemed to fit that time scale too. There were some ideas, but none wanted to be a quilt yet and none were the problem.

It finally came to me just as I was falling asleep. Oh my it's going to be fun, and mammoth. Tet has spent a lot of today getting it down on paper for me, as it would have been a nightmare to draft by hand and less trouble by machine. Now I am excited, I think it will be a good quilt. I have enough fabric to start it (although the fabric to finish it is only just on it's way) and I can't wait to start. Sadly I still have a couple of customer quilts that need to be quilted before Christmas so I should do them first, but at least I have a plan now. I don't know how long it will take, but I don't think it will be quick. I will be largely keeping this one as a surprise, but it will be a bed quilt, fairly traditional and very me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


So my web site is run on our own server in a very good data centre. The staff of said data centre are currently earning their fee trying to find out why some of the racks (including the one with my website in) are not talking to the outside world. Hopefully they will have it fixed pretty promptly. However if they don't we will fail over to the other machine in the other data centre. It's slower but it works. Please bear with us while we give the guys a chance to work. At least I have a back up plan and we can switch over if there is a serious outage. Excessive for a quilting business? Probably but I like my web site to be up :)

Yay, the guys did their job, and quickly. I'm back up and running.

Holiday quilt, off the frame

Here's the monster finally quilted. It's too big to get a good picture of without moving the furniture, and as my class will be here any minute that isn't going to happen. I am really pleased with how it has come out, but I think Tet is perhaps too pleased. Rather than going straight on the bed this will be doing some shows first. Oh well can't win them all. I guess this will be an on going problem, either I do poor quilting on my quilts or I will have to wait to use them. I guess I can live with waiting.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holiday quilt - quilting

I am feeling well enough to make some progress on quilting my holiday quilt. This is the best picture I managed to get of it. I will try again tomorrow with natural light it might help.

I am using my Aurifil thread for the first time and I am loving it. I have their 50 weight in the bobbin and the 40 in the top. I am testing with a view to using it on art quilts so I wanted to know that the fine threads would work. I had a few glitches to start with but the tension didn't need a lot of adjustment to run really well. I am running it almost flat out a lot of the time with no issues. There is a different colour in each area to make the texture talk louder than the actual stitching, so it is quite hard to see the thread on most of the fabrics.

The wadding in this quilt is actually two waddings. Closer to the backing I have Warm and Natural, a nice dense cotton wadding. It has enough structure to encourage the puff of the top wadding to the front of the quilt and make it look fuller. The wadding closer to the top of the quilt is a wool wadding. I love wool, for it's temperature control and loft, but I don't often put it in quilts for me to use. This is a real treat, and a very useful sample. I've been able to play on this without worrying too much about it. If nothing else it gave me something safe to work on while I have been ill. It's not been the quickest project with so many starts, stops and colour changes, but it's fun.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I have made it through my last talk of the year, yay! I've been determined not to get ill and have to cancel any so that worked. However, as soon as I said 'Yay that's it for the year' I got ill. So I have been doing not very much. I loaded my holiday quilt and have played on that (and unpicked then tried again) I know I can't quilt for customers when I am under the weather. I can't be trusted with anything that needs a brain. You should have seen my trying to sort out next terms workshops this afternoon. I couldn't remember the last thing I had said let alone what date we were talking about. However I will hopefully be more on the ball tomorrow and we will get things arranged, then there will be a mass updating of my web site. Having been ill since Saturday night I have high hopes I am on the mend and will be back on form for Saturday.

I have so much I want to blog about but somehow I can't quite get my thoughts together.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


So what have I been up to? Mostly driving. Monday night I went to Icknield Quilters with a side trip to Crafty Quilter. I wasn't honestly expecting much, sorry. The photos I had seen looked small, and I like everything BIG. What the pictures don't show you is context. The shop is in a wonderful old mill at Barton-le- Clay. It is one of a whole street of period shops. It's like stepping back in time, just lovely. The shop is small, but the space is very well used and the fabrics well worth the trip. You will find ranges there that no one else has. They also stock Glitter by Superior threads. It you have taken a machine quilting class with me you will have seen it. It is a smooth filiment and runs surprisingly well on a whole range of machines. I haven't checked to see if it is on her web site, but I am sure if you phone (or better yet visit) they will be happy to supply it to you.

Tuesday was a trip in the opposite direction, Gosport. Having lived in Portsmouth for a while and grown up by the sea I was rather looking forward to this one. Hmmm, well. An accident on the M27 at 3pm shouldn't stop me getting to a talk at 7pm should it? No, but it did. I had left over 4 hour to do a 2 hour journey but it took over 5! I can't say it was the best or most organised talk (I am glad I take care to repack in order) but it seemed to go down well. The class the next day was great. A really fun group who were keen to support each other, and an ideal place to observe the 2 minute silence.

Today I am back with my regular trouble makers, the ladies who put together the requirements for the book quilt. I've photographed all the quilts I am returning tonight except for the two that have already gone. I know those will get photographed at some point. Having almost extracted my gaming table, I've taken in more quilts to fill it. Oh well, it's good to have work to do, although I would like to play games too.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Still Alive

Thank you for the concern folks, yes I'm still here. I've just been rushed off my feet. I had a couple of weeks where I was starting to wonder if I still had a house. I do and it still has a longarm in too. On one hand it is good to be so busy on the other I have been missing home cooked food and the chance to do my laundry. When I see an M&S on the way to a talk and think great, clean clothes, something has gone wrong. Still I've had a productive weekend and I am feeling much better.

The washing has been done, food has been cooked and eaten and I even got to do some quilting. It's great seeing the pending pile shrink and the return pile grow. Unsurprisingly, given the time of year several quilts have had a Christmas theme. They tend to need a bit more thought and take a little longer, but they always look so interesting when they are done. I rather like them. At the moment I have one with angels on the frame. The angels have trapunto wings and I am making them more trapuntoed. They are really coming to life and hopefully I will be able to do the last two before I head off for tonights talk. However before then I aslo have to repack the car and go to the storage unit, so I may not get there.

I am almost caught up on email too. I think I am down to 6 left that need replies. I haven't forgotten you I am fitting in repluing whenever I take a break. I think I have replied to more than 20 already since Friday and I will keep at it to clear the rest. I will try and get pictures of some of these quilts before they go back too.

Oh and Popular Patchwork December issue has a pattern of mine in, for journal quilts. It also has a very nice review of my book. My book and several other things are available from my online shop at Ferret Fabrications.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just a quick one

I am working down the list of things I have to do before I head off to Heather Quilters for tonight's talk but I just had to quickly catch up with everyone here. Newark were great, as expected. Speakers, you really want to go to these groups, they are friendly helpful and well organized, well worth a visit. Just plan to stay a couple of days if you can as there is plenty to see and do in the area.

Thank you very much to my team of helpers, you did a stirling job last night and meant I got home a lot quicker than I had expected, I was back before 1.30 am ! I also avoided doing any more damage to my back a shoulders with is very much appreciated. I didn't manage to try one of the famous black bananas though, so I will have to make a return visit. I did however explain 'shaking the lettuce' and remind a cat how to play, so I feel it was a good value trip. I just wish I had taken some in progress pictures of the leaf quilt. Oh well maybe they will email me some later.

My main reason for posting is I have just found out there are a couple of places left on my class tomorrow. It is the Autumn Leaves class that I was just teaching in Newark and is based on my award winning quilt, 'Golden Storm'. It is being run at the Wandering Line in Purley. This is a new shop that opened about a month ago but it sounds like it is attracting a lot of new people into quilting, which has to be good news for all of us. If you are at a loose end tomorrow and would like to join the class, give them a call on 020 8660 8600.

Now I had better get back to my task list for tonight. Loonking forward to finally meeting Heather Quilters.

Best wishes Lucy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Run run run

I don't feel like I am getting chance to catch breath at the moment, and mostly it's pretty cool. Over the weekend I was at the MCM expo. It is a movies, comics and manga show, and if you've never been you really cant imagine it. 40,000 people over two days in a hall that really isn't big enough to house them. I could call it organised chaos but to be honest I'm not sure how organized the chaos is. I was there with my Bad Rain quilt which was very well received. I was surprised by who was most interested in it. It wasn't the older ladies, it was the young Indian males. They were very positive and fascinated by how it was put together. It was lovely to be able to bring quilting to a new and enthusiastic group.

I was less than impressed with the Excel center itself and it's staff. There were times when it felt they were trying to make things as difficult as possible fro everyone involved with the event, including the organizers. As one of the traders I had to go back and forth to the car during the day and it is very frustrating when routes suddenly get closed off without warning, or indeed discussion with the organizers. I am very glad there wasn't a need to evacuate the venue, as I think it would have been hard to do. There would have been too many people trying to get out of exits that had been there at one point but were now closed off. I hope the venue will listen to the organizers and sort out these issues before the next MCM.

Today I am trying to get some quilting done while I wait for my car to have it's gearbox oil changed. It's a job that sounds trivial but is actually quite a pain unless you have the right suction tools. So I decided I would get on with what I do best and let someone else deal with the oil. As soon as the car is back I will be heading north to Newark. This is fairly close to a talk a did a little over a month ago and I am looking forward to going back. The people were so friendly there and it's a lovely place. This however will be a pretty quick trip. I will drive up tonight then teach a workshop tomorrow. After the workshop we will change venue and I will do a talk then head home. It will be mad, but fun. I may also get to try a black but barley ripe banana.

Wednesday is another talk, hopefully after some more quilting. This time I will be at Heather Quilters in Camberley, Surrey. I'm looking forward to this talk as well. It was one that should have happened a year ago, but due to a booking error I never got there. Hopefully I can make it worth the wait. Anyway, quilting calls so TTFN.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Do you design in the shower?

I design a lot in the bath, and I know I was recently talking to a lady who designs in the shower. I suggested that children's bath crayons might be useful for taking notes, but I've found a better solution, so if you are that lady (or indeed anyone else who does this and is interested) get in touch and I will pass on the information I have. There is a little something I would like to send to the shower lady so if you know who I am talking about please do let her know I am trying to get in touch.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Levenham - region 8

This was Saturdays talk venue. It's not often that I get the space to hang this many quilts or the chance to take photos, so I made the most of show and tell. It was another scary talk with not only celebrities in the audience, but one of the two best speakers I heard. Intimidating and rather off putting. However it was also great opportunity to talk to lots of new people. I also came home with a couple of new patterns, one for cats and one for elephants. I am even more sure that I won't be making a baltimore quilt. I really like them done by hand and not by machine. I can't see having the time to do it, or find a way that doesn't hurt my shoulder.

I've mostly been working on customer quilts, but I have also been shipping patterns today. The rest of the Turning Twenty patterns have now arrived so I believe that all orders have now shipped. I can't promise when they will arrive, given there is a postal strike due. I hope they will arrive before the strike, but who knows.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Holiday quilt

Does anyone remember this quilt? I bet those that do thought I had forgotten to post the picture of the finished top and possibly the finished quilt but no. I just haven't had a lot of time to work on it. In fact the only time I have had is the odd few minutes waiting for classes, so that's when I've been working on it.

The top is from a kit by Starr designs. It was intended to make a twin size quilt. I don't have a use for a quilt that small so I had to figure out a way to make it bigger. In the kit there was a red fabric for the areas I made black. I knew I couldn't match it and that it was the obvious fabric to use to extend the quilt so I changed it for one I had a lot of. The black is a batik not a true solid which I thought would be more sympathetic to the dand dyes. The internal strips are wider than the original and the outer borders are much bigger. I was able to get the narrow rainbow border out of the offcuts from the blocks, which broke up the outer border nicely. Had I not been able to do that I would have used the supplies red fabric to do the same job, as a border big enough to get the quilt the size I needed would have been out of proportion to the rest of the quilt.

I suspect I won't have time to quilt it until Christmas, I've got too much customer work to do. When I do get to work on it I have lots of Aurifil thread to play with on it. I thought it would be good to have a really nicely quilted quilt for my bed for a change. When it's done I might bind it with the red fabric, or use the red for piping. I'll just have to wait and see what feels right.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Patterns, patterns everywhere.

The first batch of Turning Twenty patterns have arrived, and all the orders for book 2 have been shipped today. The other books haven't arrived yet so won't go out until next week. Unless they arrive tomorrow they will go out after the postal strike, so hopefully they won't get caught up in the backlog. Assuming of course the strike is still planned, I can't find anything about it. I also now have a few copies of the new Turning Twenty pattern. It is called Slapplique, and will be on the site as soon as we can get it on. If you want to order it before then just drop me an email.

I've also just finished writing up not one but two journal quilts. I had a lot of fun with them and I may well make a series of them based on these two. Of course that does rely on me getting a few more hours in a day. Finally if you are near Lavenham in Suffolk this weekend you might like to come along to the Quilters Guild region 8 event. It is being held at Lavenham village hall, and if you need more information about it, get in touch with me and I will either be able to answer your questions or give you contact details fro someone who can.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Finally time to share my pictures from the weekend. Frodsham is near Chester which is where the pictures are from. I have to admit it wasn't a place I was familiar with, but now I am I want to go back and have a better poke around. It is a Roman walled city, with am amazing amount of wall left. It also has these fantastic shopping streets, with two shopping levels. I had a chance to see some of the under crofts below the shops, but as they are now businesses in their own rights I couldn't get pictures of them. We also had time to walk about a quarter of the city wall and see the remains of the amphitheater. The amphitheater must have been very impressive, to say nothing of imposing. You can only see a section of it, but the angle of the curve makes it very clear how huge it was.

I'd like to go back to the area to go up the hill between the two places. Apparently (and I can well believe it) there is a great view from the top. Sadly this trip I had to head back straight after the workshop, but now I know how lovely the area is I know to try and extend the next trip.

I felt the workshop went very well on the Sunday. We were working on 'Fur, feather and scale' and everyone left with three good samples and seemed pretty confident they could continue with the techniques in other projects. I hope they will share what they come up with as some sounded really interesting. However I think the big success of the day for me was getting another person hooked on free motion quilting, it might not have been the main point of the class but it's always good when someone else finds they can do something they didn't think they could. Thank you all for making it a great weekend. See you at the AGM in March.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sara Impey, who would have thunk it?

Today's talk was for region 13 in Cheshire. It's far enough that I didn't think it was sensible to go there and back in a day which is unusual for me, so we drove up last night. I say we, as Tet came along to help, he had said it might be a big talk. Understatement, they are very keen around here. It was an amazing show and tell and a very scary audience. I had no idea they had so many well known names here. Probably just as well or I would have been worrying about it before the talk. At least I had a professional chicken stacker to look after me and to make sure I was in the right place at the right time. It seems herding Ferrets requires the same skills so I was very well looked after. Fortunately my talk went down well, as with a crowd of that size you really don't want to upset them.

Many hands made quick work of packing my quilts and ensured I got lunch before the afternoon session started. Thank you very much to the lovely lady who gave Tet a lift to the station ns saved me getting lost or missing the afternoon talk. I have to admit I wasn't sure how I was going to get along with the afternoon speaker, but I do like to hear as many talks as I can so I was pleased to be able to stay.

If you aren't familiar with Sara Impeys work I guess you either aren't a quilter ror have the same problem with names I do, her work appears all the best places, and I think she said she will have a piece in the V&A quilt show next year. Her work generally includes words and circles. She described herself as "a one trick pony" and when she said it I agreed. I loved her work the first time I saw it, and had thouigh all the others were too similar. Boy how wrong was I? I just hadn't got it at all. To really appreciate her work I think you need to see more than one piece at the same time. The year long gaps I have had doesn't do them justice at all. About half way through the talk it struck me, she is a writer who carves her words in textiles. The words are very important. Her quilting, while beautiful and exceptionally well executed, isn't as significant. The thought and feeling that goes into the letters surprised me. I think what really amazed me was that I hadn't worked it out for myself. After all if someone puts that much care and attention into each letter, might not the words they form be important? I hope at some point one of the shows will give her the space to display a lot of her work at once, and that she will write the background stories down to go with them. It would make a stunning show. Sara, a one trick pony? No more so than a writer who only writes in one language. A very entertaining and informative speaker. I believe she doesn't do many talks but if you get the chance to see her take it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


I thought today was going to be a fairly restful day. I had a few things I needed to do, but not too much. One job, that doesn't sound bad on paper is post a book. Just within the UK nothing complex. However the post office has had massive queues that last few times I have been there and I didn't have a spare hour to queue. I thought I would take another look at online services. Oh dear. That was my first mistake, calling Royal Mail to try and fix it was my second. Their phone line is an adventure game, but lacking any plot, none the options seem to fit what I needed at all, but it kept suggesting the online help. OK while I try and struggle through to a human I will ask the online person. Sarah, isn't actually a person, it's a pretty poor piece of software that tries to guess the question you were asking. Sarah felt that what I wanted was to get a job with them. Nope, not even close and no there isn't even any way to tell the software it missed.

I did eventually get a very nice lady in customer services, who absolutely understood my problems, and did try to help. She assured me that Royal Mail does want to help small businesses and that I can't be too small to be worth their help. She gave me a phone number she thought was a direct line to business accounts. It wasn't it was online postage sales, who couldn't help but could pass me on. To online business accounts, who can only talk to you if you have an account but can pass you on to sales. After all this run around, I'm too small. I need to go to the post office. So including time, parking, postage and petrol I can spend about 35 pounds to post this book. Or I can call a courier and spend about 10 pounds, or I could just hand deliver it as I happen to be doing a talk in the area and it looks like it will only be a few miles out of my way. Isn't it great to know you can get a package anywhere in the country, just by taking it there yourself. We are heading backwards at truly amazing speed. I think the next time I queue at the post office I need to buy a heck of a lot of stamps then I can just stick the postage on and put it in a post box. They do still sell stamps don't they?

The Guilty Party

Well most of the guilty party at least. I think we have to share the blame with Melanie Cook the colourist as well. From Left to right, we have Stephen Downey, the artist, me, and Cy Dethan the writer of Cancertown. It was odd seeing my quilt hanging in a comics show, but very cool. Somewhat scary having 'real' artist looking at it, but I guess I will get used to that. I was pleased that the visitors to the show appreciated the quilt. I was a little concerned that it might be too far from their chosen media, but apparently not. They are a generally friendly bunch ready to accept the weird especially when it's from a story they have enjoyed.

I also got to pick up a copy of Bryan Talbots latest, Grandville. Oh wow, does he know how to produce a book. It's a proper old feeling hardback with a fabric texture cover. Apparently the issues in other countries are even nicer!? I think my copy is pretty wonderful, and yes the fact that he signed it and put in a sketch doesn't hurt at all. I can't wait to have a chance to read it. I will take it with me this weekend in case I get an early night.

I also came across Stephanie Bryant. Well actually I mostly directed people to her, as they saw the quilt and assumed I would know of her. They mentioned knitting and I had noticed that much about her stand so I was able to direct them. Sunday afternoon Nic asked if I had seen them, yes....what did I think of the concept? Um? Turns out Stephanie has produced a comic for knitters. Each part of the story comes with a pattern, how cool is that. The patterns are good too. She also had a few stand alone patterns, which may yet follow me home. If you would like to see her wares in the flesh (yarn?) she will be at the Knitting and Stitching show that starts tomorrow and runs until Sunday. It is at Alexandra Palace, London. If you're there on Friday I might see you around. If you can't make it, do take a look at Handknit Heros, it's great.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

BICS event

I was going to post about the comics event this weekend. I didn't have time yesterday and now I have been well a truly beaten to it. I may share the photo later anyway, when it returns home, but for now take a look at Cy's blog and vist the show with him.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Machine Quilting 2

There are a couple of places left on my Machine Quilting 2 class at Patchwork Corner this coming Tuesday. In this class we will spend the whole day on free motion quilting. Starting with some warm up exercises I will show you lots of different patterns during the morning. Fillers, borders and anything else that seems to suit the specific students. In the afternoon once everyone is limbered up and the machines should have got the idea of what we are doing we will go on to feathers. Lots of different variations so hopefully everyone will find at least one that works for them.

It's usually a fun class, and it will count as your exercise for the day. If you would like to join the class contact Patchwork Corner. You can even sign up on line.


I've mentioned socks a few times and I finally remembered to photograph them. To the left is my first sock knitted on two circular needles instead of on 4 double ended ones. I love the techniqe. It's a lot quicker and I find it easier on my hands too. It's just waiting for it's toe graft, then it's done.

it's partner is being knitted with the first sock of another pair. Two socks at the same time on a pair of circular needles. I'm not sure how it compares speed wise with knitting one at a time, but it is very satisfying. It also encourages you to keep making more if you've already done one sock of the next pair. Of course you could knit matching socks together, but that means splitting a ball of wool and increases the chance of mixing them up and knittinmg with the wrong one. I think I will stick to doing odd socks.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quilting the world, for customers

Sorry I've been a bit quiet. I've finally had a chance to make serious in roads in to the pile of customer quilting that has been growing since before the Festival of quilts. I had imagined I would come back from the show, take a few days off and quilt up a storm. It didn't quite work out like that. I drastically underestimated the amount of interest a show like that can generate. Thank you all so much for your support it is appreciated, although I am still fighting a loosing battle with my email backlog. I see the end in sight, take a short break and I'm losing again. Oh well. The picture is of one of these customer quilts with a border I am especially fond of.

If you haven't entered the Road 2 California quilt show there is still time as they now allow online entries. It's a pretty good system and easy to use. It even checks the resolution of your images for you. I like it a lot, as just preparing and posting the entry was time consuming and expensive. I hope that if it works well for this show others with a lot of international entries might try it too.

For those of you who quilt too much, or overuse your muscles in other ways you might like to search the internet for 'Gelli bath'. I'd love to be able to say I saw it and immediately thought of it's theraputic possiblities, but well, that would be a lie. I first saw it in Toys R Us on a quilt related mission (pool noodles). It was aimed at kids and consequently hit me. It looked fun, but when I read the package it was only designed for a very shallow bath. I sulked and bought pool noodles. I later discoved a grown up version, which has lots of very proper words about home spa treatment and all it's benificial effects. All very nice but how much water will it turn to jelly? Half a bathfull, fine, sold. I was initially disapointed the kid in me wanted a really thick bath. The quilter however is thrilled. It has delivered much happer muscles. My shoulders and legs have taken a pounding the last two days and are now happy again. They are right the gel holds heat amazingly and delivers it better too. I don't understand it, but I will be using it again. My very fussy skin even likes it.

If you are in Birmingham, 'Bad Rain' will be on display this weekend at the science museum there with BICS. BICS is a comics event and my quilt will be on the stand of Insomnia publications, who published Cancertown the graphic novel it comes from. The creators of Cancertown will also be there along with many other writers and artists. If you've never been to a comics show this is a nice one to start with. It's an interesting venue and a good size event for a first experience. Say hi if you see me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rush hour?

It seems that around London rush hour now runs from about 3.30pm to at least 9pm. It's not getting silly, it's got silly. I am currently sitting a a Polish war memorial with a hot car and a road masquerading as a car par between me and my house. On the bright side I have a dvd player in the car and a new quilting dvd to watch. It is (P)fun - (P)feiling - (P)feathers by Claudia Pfeil. It is designed for longarm quilting machines, but as with most longarm information it can be used on domestic machines too. So far it is all about using formal feathers (aka bump bump feathers), she is showing some great ways to fill space with them. I was initially very disapointed. I've tried this type of feather and I really don't get on with them. The more I've seen of the dvd the more certain I am that the fact they are this type of feather is what I really like about them. So I've come to the conclusion it's time to try again. These feathers do have a different look, I like the look and it has to be more than a year since I last tried. It's not that long ago that I thought I couldn't do any curved feathers so why not these? As soon as I clear some customer quilts I will give it a go.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Not too proud to beg

Please, pretty please, if you book me to come to your group can I have the address of the venue. I waste hours trying to workout addresses. It's really hard to get to the right place without an address because although I don't use satnav I do use maps. They work by giving you road names, so if I don't have the road name your venue is in, I struggle.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Won quilt

Sorry it's been a while, I wasn't expecting so much life to be waiting for me. My last post was supposed have an illustration. The house where I was staying had an amazing view over fields. For some reason blogger didn't accept it, so I've tried again here. I've also got a picture here of the quilt that I won in the raffle. I'm sorry the colour hasn't come out at all right. In reality it is much more of a soft old gold, but the design is wonderful. Of course being stupid I forgot to write down the makers name, doh!.

I guess I should explain the title of the last post. I was distracted by dinner hence the last post being cut short. My talk was a lot more eventful than normal. Generaly ,y talk starts, I talk, there are some questions from the audience, I stop. Sounds fair? This time otheres had plans, about a third of the way through we heard a lady call 'Hello'. Odd, it was pretty obvious that we were in the middle of a presentation, so perhaps there was a better way to approach us? No, calling loudly, 'can my scouts use the toilet' is the way to go. I refrained from the obvious answer, 'I don't know do they have their toilet use badge?' and the organiser dealt with them. A few minutes later we had another interuption. This time it was a bus company who wanted some cars moved. On the surface a fair request, however we were all in the car park and in no way responsible for cars parked down the road. They weren't interested so we had to stop the talk and read out all the number plates. Very strange. Still it makes life interesting. The banana you will just have to find out about for yourself :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Scouts, buses and bananas

I am currently in Nottinghamshire teaching and speaking. Yesterday I was teaching 'Art quilts by numbers'for a lovely group of ladies, and today at show and tell I got to see some of the quilts almost finished. I love it when I get to see work from my classes. I will be teaching the same thing again tomorrow, to some ladies I met today. From those I talked to it should be a very lively class.

Today I was speaking at region 10's area day. It was an unusual set up. In the morning everyone sat, socialised and stitched. It seemed to be a great way to get to know people and share techniques. That was followed by an excellent faith lunch. There seemed to be almost a perfect amount and blend of food. Then I got to speak. Despite the group being very quiet they were amazingly positive after the talk. However the best bit for me was the raffle. I often buy tickets but usually I'm not really that interested in winning. Today I desperately wanted one of the prizes, but with a large group and 18 prizes to be drawn, there wasn't a great chance. Tet drew the raffle and I promise I didn't influemce it, I won the litte quilt I wanted! I will show you it tomorrow when I will be teaching the lady who made it. She has said she will sign it for me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Partial seams

You may remember I bought a kit at the NEC that I was making up. It's frustratingly close to being completed but other things have got in the way. The pattern calls for a partial seam on every block, and being lazy I wanted to chain piece them. I had thought I couldn't, then it came to me. I got Tet to take some video so you can see how it's done. It really did make the process a lot quicker.

Now I have to get some sleep. I was teaching machine quilting again today, to a very nice group of ladies. It was an early start though and I am not a morning person. Tomorrow, two classes up at Patchwork Corner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Planes, trains, automobiles and socks

So can you guess what I have been doing today? I will give you a clue, it isn't quilting, well not directly anyway. Quilts have come from it and I hope that I have the source material for a few more.

I guess I should also admit that the title isn't entirely accurate, I haven't seen a train today. I am hoping you will let me substitute a helicopter. It's sort of like a train, isn't it? No, oh well, how about a bike? Sorry they are my best offers.

The planes are from the Battle of Britain Memorial flight. The first two to come over were the Spitfire and the Hurricane. I didn't manage to get any really close up shots I'm afraid. When they come over low it is very obvious how fast they are and I just couldn't follow them and adjust the camera quickly enough.

They were followed by this helicopter. Sorry helicopters aren't really my thing so I will have to leave identifying it to the reader. I am pretty pleased with some of the pictures of it though and I think I might be able to get a pattern out of them.

I think any minute now you are going to work out where I am. I have spent the day watching the racing at Santa Pod. It's been a lot of fun, and I can't remember when I last watched so much racing. I know I would get bored if I did it every day of every race weekend, but just once in a while it's great. We even had good grandstand seats, which made getting the photographs a lot easier.

While this probably sounds like a holiday, and it feels like one, there is actually a serious side to this. I've taken about 700 photographs today to try and get a few more for my car series. I am also looking for a good image to include in the new art quilt book. I am hopeful that I may have got one today, but I will still try and take lots tomorrow as well. Due to a couple of quite nasty accidents (sore cars, the drivers are fine) the racing ran very late today so I missed out on getting pictures of the Street Eliminator cars. I have a real soft spot for these cars, because they are all street legal. I will be trying very hard to get some good pictures of them tomorrow.

I did also mention socks, remember? I was ordering more supplies recently and I came across a DVD on knitting two socks at the same time. It was discounted and sounded strange so I bought it. It is by NenahGalati and it's weird yet wonderful. I liked it enough that I ordered her other DVD's and some needles. I haven't knitted socks on circular needles before so I decided to try one first. Wow! I love the technique. I've managed to knit down to the heel in the gaps in racing today. Normally I wouldn't get past the ribbing in that timescale. I will be doing more socks like this, it's fun. I had planned on showing you my progress on the blog today but we happen to be staying in a hotel with free Internet. If you don't live in the UK you may not appreciate how strange that is. Trust me, it just doesn't happen. Now we know about this hotel we will be staying here again. So as I could show you some of my proper pictures, my sock will have to wait. Sorry.

Oh, I've just realized I haven't told you about the cars and bike. They are, Ian Turbeville on his top fuel supertwin bike, Dan Larsen and Danny Belio in their top methanol funny cars.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Teaching and writing and stuff

I always find the first week of term a bit of a shock, and this one has been no exception. New people, new classes and this year new venues.

The new people have been great. I feel it's quite tricky adding a few new students to existing classes. Will they jell with the class, will the class suit them, or will they change the dynamic of the class for the worse. So far this year is looking good. I've got very lucky and have some fun people who have joined my classes. I think Wednesday will go from strength to strength. Some old students have returned too, which is lovely. Familiar faces, and names I can almost remember are nice, as is seeing how they have progressed while they have been away.

The new classes are coming along. I've almost written the three introduction type chapters for my art quilts book. I am feeling a lot better about teaching that tonight. Of course I can't find half the tools I wanted to photograph, but I don't think that will be a significant problem. I still haven't really got things straightened out after the mad rush for the festival of quilts, and it's all the small things that are hiding. Oh well.

My first new venue I don't get to see until next week. Tuesday I will be at 'The Nimble Thimble' in Buckingham. It's a new shop just trying to find it's feet in these difficult times, so if you are in the area, you might like to give it a look. For those of you who find Patchwork Corner too far south this might be your chance to come and join me for a class. This Tuesday I will be teaching machine quilting 1. A whole day of playing with different quilting options on your machine. I believe there are still a couple of places left so if you want to join in, call the shop on, 01280 822236.

I'd better get on and take the photographs I can for the class tonight. They won't be happy if I haven't got any pictures in my hand outs. I suppose I aught to dig out some samples too, where do you suppose I packed the swan after the show...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Flying for quilters

What do flying and quilting have to do with each other? Well that depends on your outlook. Other than the fact that my pilot is a quilter, just look at all the inspiration we found.

I met Peter at Patchwork Corner, when he came in with a proto quilt. A stack of blocks made from ties. It looked like it was going to be a lot of fun to quilt and I was thrilled when he handed it over and told me to do whatever I wanted with it. I did and among other things it got a Vulcan quilted on it. I had ascertained during our conversation that he was an aircraft enthusiast so it seemed appropriate.

Well it turned out I had underestimated this interest somewhat, he has a plane, and he offered to take me out in it. Of course I said yes, but then work got in the way. It feels like it took forever to get a free day to fly, and then it looked like the weather was going to be against us. At the last minute I got lucky, very lucky. We have fantastic visibility and a cloud layer we could get above. I will admit, that doesn't have as much quilt potential as being able to see the ground, but it's a wonderful place to be. I loved it.

For quilt potential though the Norfolk coast provided in bucket loads. I couldn't believe some of the colours we were seeing, and apparently I was seeing it past it's prime. I like the way the light coming through the clouds makes patterns on the ground. It's very much like the effect of quilting on patchwork and I am sure at some point this will get incorporated into a quilt.

We stopped for lunch at a pub in Binham. Yup that sounds strange, but it's true. On the way in to land I got a great view of Binham Priory. It's a magnificent building now, but when you go inside it has an artists impression of what the building would have looked like. It was huge. It must have been somewhat intimidating to live near.

From here we hopped over to Muckleburgh to a tank museum. I'm going to have to make it back there at some point. It looks quite small from outside, but inside it is a tardis. Tanks, trucks, guns, uniforms and well stuff. Lots of inspiration there. I have many pictures of tank tracks, the patterns in them are wonderful. There was also a Ferret, so here you go, a two ferret photo.

I had a lot of fun, and I really can't wait to do it again. So much so that lunchtime today I had great difficulty keeping track of conversation as light aircraft teased me at the quilt shop. In fairness the first class of term was a lot of fun, if a lot of work. The workshop is looking great, and the students were a really fun bunch. I do enjoy seeing how a class progresses with machine quilting. There are always some students who find free motion quilting stressful yet often they are the ones who the other students feel are the most proficient by the end of the day. I also get to see a lot of variations on patterns. Whenever people copy things they change them slightly, and sometimes those changes give you a whole new pattern. Today I got two more, though I have yet to see if they work for me. I think one of them might.

Tomorrow I have two classes, with several new students it should be interesting. I have no idea what skill level they are or what they might want to make. I like a challenge. I suppose I aught to try and get some sleep, I suspect I won't be very successful, it's far too hot for me again.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Happy Birthday Ford Capri

Today we had to take the family to a 40th birthday party. We missed most of them due to quilting commitments but this one was too local not to attends. It's a nice day for it, and Trogdor, the race car was even persuaded to start. I hope he will be as keen on leaving. It is so cool to see a car park full of Capris, and I've been window shopping. I know Joker would love a new shiny (and more effective) radiator. The one I really liked even had a URL on it, so later I can scare myself with the cost. To complete the day the Ace Cafe have added free wifi so I can blog while I wait for my food.

Friday, September 04, 2009

FOQ - Twisted Thread Video

I am very impressed with the camera man who managed to get this footage. Did I mention how much I dislike cameras?

There are more festival of quilts videos on their web site.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Back to work

Wow, work is sort of worky isn't it. I have a stack of customer quilts to work through, which is quite nice, but also a pile of paperwork. Unfortunately every time I try to look at it the phone rings or an urgent email comes in. I am sure I will get through it all but it's going to take longer than I thought.

As work is taking up more time than I had anticipated I haven't quite finished putting my holiday quilt together. It is very close though so when I clear the customer quilts I will pop the last borders on and get it on the frame, I am desperate to play with my new threads on it.

I also realised today that I have to get writing rather urgently. Term starts next week and it now looks like three of my students will be wanting to use my new book. That's going to be tricky if it is still in my head. The good news for all of those who have been asking for it, is that this will be an art quilt book. It will cover several of the techniques I use to produce my art quilts and at least three specific projects. It might even get published before the other book I have written and ready to go, given how many people seem to really want this book. I suppose rather than writing here I should be starting on it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

FOQ - Gallery - The Longarm

The last thing I want to show you in my gallery is my longarm quilting machine. From talking to people who were at the show a lot of quilters haven't ever seen one in action. I would think that goes double for the non-quilters amongst my readers. Fortunately Tet managed to video me demonstrating while I wasn't looking. I don't like cameras much and video cameras are even worse.

It's not a very long video, but rest assured more are planned. I am hoping we might manage to video some of the quilting of the holiday quilt, given I am having to get used to being filmed I might as well make use of it. Hopefully Twisted Thread will soon be putting up some footage of me quilting that I will be able to share. It was taken by their professional photographer who was very good at putting me at ease.

Anyway enough about video, back to the longarm. I work on an APQS Discovery, mounted on a Hinterburg quilt frame. I would love to have the correct frame for the machine but my house isn't wide enough to fit one in. I used cotton threads on it for nearly all my quilts. I do sometimes branch out into metallic threads, but not often. My quilting is done free hand, which means I don't have a pattern I am following, I just draw with the machine. On a pieced quilt I can used the patterns within the top to help guide my placement, but with the wholecloth quilts that are quilted to look pieced I do mark the piecing lines before I quilt.

I do not have a computer on my machine, I can't just program it to do something. Really all the machine does is move the needle up and down. I can control the speed the needle moves, but everything else is down to how I move the machine, including the stitch length. Yes a lot of longarm quilters do have computers and stitch regulators, I choose not to. I like being able to shift a pattern slightly to make it work to best effect. Sometimes this means blending it into the piecing, other times I may make sure the fancy part of a design is somewhere it shows more, it depends on what the quilt needs.

On the test piece I was making (which is likely to actually get used) I was trying to create a crazy patchwork look. I thought this would give me a chance to make an interesting piece of quilting but allow me to change designs regularly and even take requests from visitors. I felt it worked really well as people did pop back from time to time to see what new patterns I had added.

I designed two new patterns while I was at the show. Both came about because I had people who asked me to quilt and I just didn't know what I was going to do, so I started and then had to make it work. One of them I think I will use on the holiday quilt now I've remembered it. It should work really well in the wide sashings I've added. Several viewers commented on how soothing it is to watch someone quilt. Maybe I should produce a video of just quilting happening for relaxation purposes :)

If you are interested in me quilting your quilts for you please get in touch. I will take quilts in my post and I am quite happy to discuss possible designs by email. You can also get a quote based on the size of your quilt directly from my web site, here.

Next to the longarm we had the merchandise table. I was going to say sales table but I think the free pencils and flying saucers were at least as popular as anything for sale. I'm sorry I can't supply flying saucers to you all over the Internet. I do send out pencils with any order where it doesn't add to the postage though. Apparently my pencils are very good for doing the crossword. I don't do them myself so I don't know what makes a pencil particularly good for that but I've been told it enough to believe it is true. As you can see in the photograph the book got a lot of attention, even though most of the time I was so busy with the machine I didn't notice it. I now have the postcard packs, books and patterns for sale on my site too. So you don't have to miss out on the souvenirs, they can be found here, along with the book behind the quilt 'Bad Rain'.

I hope you have enjoyed your tour. I've really appreciated hearing from so many of you. I would love to take these quilts to more shows, so if you know of one that might be interested please do get in touch. I have plans to try and get some of them into quilt competitions around the world and I am sure you will be able to follow their success or failure here.

We are still working on the rest of the videos so check back soon and hopefully I will be able to give you a more dynamic look at my quilts.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

FOQ - Gallery - The best for last?

Today we should make it around the last few quilts. It's been a long tour, and I am not really surprised to have heard from several people who were there that they are getting a better look at the quilts now. Seeing them in the flesh is great, but so is having time to really absorb what you are seeing without feeling you need to move on. Standing in front of 'Dragon' we can turn around to see into the second 'hidden' area of the gallery. When I was told about the gallery it was suggested that I play with the space and provide hidden areas. I really liked that idea and really played with it a lot. On the light side of the gallery (with 'Phoenix Rising') it just gave people a gentle tour, on the dark side where we are now it had a lot more effect. Many people were startled by one quilt only to back away from it and turn to find another startling piece. It worked far better than I could have hoped, and with the multitude of routes through the gallery I couldn't predict which area people would encounter first. The downside was that a significant number of viewers didn't realise all the work was by one person (well except for two of the book quilts). Should I have made a more obvious single space....nah! I would rather have the quilts play with the viewer then have it obviously one gallery. It was fun and I think the visitors enjoyed it too.

Now back to these quilts. I think we have to start tonight with 'Bad Rain'. The making of this quilt can be found on this blog. The quilt is a double page spread from a graphic novel called Cancertown. The cover describes the story as,
Vince Morley is a man with big problems and a brain tumour like a baby's fist, living with one foot in a monstrous alternate world he calls Cancertown. When the lost and dispossessed of London start tripping over the same cracks in reality he spends his life avoiding, Morley realises he must confront the residents of Cancertown - and risk finding his place among them.
The whole quilt was assembled directly on the longarm and quilted as it was put together. Fortunately the style of the original artwork made it quite simple to work on small areas that still made sense when seen out of context. Unfortunately the colouring has an amazing luminosity which is hard to achieve in fabric. Ombre to the rescue. Without a good selection of shaded fabrics there is no way I could have achieved this effect. I was especially pleased with the largest lamppost while I was making the quilt. As it is higher up on the quilt (I work from the top down on the frame) it was the first on I had to try and may look lit. I was surprised by how well it went. When I saw the pictures after the show I realised how much the whole quilt glows and shines in different areas. When you are up close you really can't see it, but in photographs it is very clear.

If you step right back against the leather quilts you can just see the small blue quilt in the fourth entrance to the gallery. This piece 'A Brief Moment of Clarity' is the author of Cancertown, Cy Dethan. Having known him rather a long time he gets roped into all kinds of dumb plans (other than helping man a stand at the Festival of Quilts). This picture came from one of those ideas. I talked him into modeling for a quilt which meant he had to have his photo taken. He like this about as much as I do and we decided to kill two birds with one stone. After I had got the pictures I wanted we took some for him to use for publicity photos. When I had a look at the pictures I had taken this one just demanded to be made into a quilt. I'm glad he agreed to it, as I think it is a really striking portrait, and it was great to be able to hang it with 'Bad Rain'. Annoyingly I forgot to get a picture of him with the tattoo showing on the other side of 'Bad Rain' to complete the set.

Moving into the alcove there are a set of three car quilts. The top one I started a couple of years ago and has been waiting patiently to be finished. I hadn't intended to ever show this one, it was just for me. K.I.T.T was my teenage pinup, well him and the Millennium Falcon. I still have the theme tune as my ring tone, and one day I will be able to justify owning a Pontiac Transam. Still for the moment this is the closest I am going to get to having my very own K.I.T.T.

The next two quilts were inspired by too much singing. Yes that is what I said. I got hooked on playing a game called Singstar, it's karaoke essentially. On one of them it the track, Go with the flow, by Queens of the stone age. The video for that track gave me the inspiration for these (and hopefully more) drag racing quilts. I loved how little detail they used to convey the story, and I was sure I could use the same idea with race cars. My goal was to present as little information as possible but still have the cars be instantly recognisable by race fans.

The middle quilt shows Andy Robinson's Studebaker Commander. I think this car is very distinctive and there weren't too many details I had to have to be sure people would recognise it. Cutting the flames was a horrible job, one which I know will come up again as it is a very popular paint job on drag cars. I am very grateful to Richard Stirling for allowing me to use his image for this quilt.

The bottom quilt I was less convinced people would be able to identify. It's much harder to tell rails (the name given to all these long skinny cars) apart than door cars. Still I was up for giving it a go and I had a good photograph I had taken a few years ago, just waiting for me to do something with it. These quilts are not processed by computer except to enlarge the original image. I think that picking out the key details requires a human to make the selections, which means there is a lot more of me in these than most of my quilts. When Tet came home and saw the pattern for the quilt it didn't take him long to identify not only the car but roughly when the picture was taken! Good enough. This is Dave 'Grumpy' Wilson in his blown top methanol dragster. When I get a chance there will be several more cars in this series.

Next to the cars is the last quilt in the show, 'Perttu'. This is a portrait of a Finnish cello player. He used to play with the Helsinki Philharmomic orchestra but gave that up when the band he plays with now, a heavy metal cello quartet, Apocalyptica took off. I would love to get a chance to do a nude of him with his cello, he has a fantastic body and the cello would be perfect to protect his modesty. I can't see it happening, but well, a girl can dream right?

I don't know if I will get a chance to post tomorrow, but if not on Monday I will finally get to the longarm. Who knows we might have worked out video editing by then too. I would love to be able to show you the longarm in action, and I know we have some quite nice footage of the quilts as well. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

The next part of the tour is the longarm.

Holiday quilt progress

As you can see the holiday quilt is progressing. Not quite as quickly as I would have liked, but still. I have 12 more blocks to make and put on then just the outer borders. I am really hoping I can finish the top and start quilting it on Monday. I like the idea of rounding off the FOQ with a new bed quilt and the way the temperature has been dropping here we will need it soon. I am really pleased with the black in the quilt. I was concerned it would change it to much and I wouldn't like it as much as the original but I didn't need to worry. Of course I like black :) The inner borders/sashing is slightly wider than the pattern called for. I am trying to make this into a king size quilt from a large twin, so I am adding where ever I can. I also fancy having a bit more space to play with the quilting. I haven't quite decided what the outer borders will look like, but I have a couple of ideas. So long as I can get the size I don't really mind.