Thursday, August 30, 2007

When show quilts retire...

Lying in bed last night I thought I should show you some pictures of my retired show quilts. I am often asked what I do with such big quilts, well the answer is I use them. Once they finished the tour of duty some of them go into service on our bed. Some obviously are only designed to be on the wall and others are waiting to be sold, but the rest get to work. As soon as 'Burning Chrome' Came back from the NEC it went on the bed. I can assure you it is a very good bed quilt, works a treat. It had been the quilt I was going to show you but the cats had other ideas. It is in the washing machine after someone failed to keep hold of their breakfast this morning, but that is really my point. The quilts are pampered and fussed over for a period of time, them they come back to Earth and are really loved and used. This is why I am quite happy for people to touch my quilts when I do talks, these are working quilts they take far worse on a daily basis.Here you can see 'Ginko Typography' undergoing some serious sleep testing. It is looking promising though as three experienced testers find they can sleep quite well on it.

As 'Burning Chrome' is indisposed (well actually in di spin right now) 'Ginko Typography has stepped into the fray. You might have seen this quilt at Sandown 2006, it was the only show it went to because it is so heavy I couldn't afford to ship it anywhere. Sandown I can deliver by hand. As you can see it is on the bed and being appreciated by my cats. Looking at it I think I actually prefer the lived in look. I think the quilting looks a lot more interesting after the quilt has been washed and dried a few times. This is because I don't pre-wash my waddings and this quilt has two layers in it so have very clear quilting now. Maybe we should have a show category for most successful bed quilt that can only be entered by well used and loved quilts. I think it would be great fun to see what is really out there working for a living. In fact if you put up a picture somewhere and let me know I will post a list of real working quilts here. I am sure I am not the only one who wonders what is on peoples beds and sofas.
Professional quilt judges at work

Here you can see my most critical judge taking a closer look at the quilt. Of course the fact that he is even on it shows this one has potential. For some reason my cats are pretty good at identifying my successful projects very early in the process. If the cats don't go near it then it has problems. It's odd and I don't claim to understand it but I take more notice of it that I used to. I do wonder if it is something about how I am interacting with the piece that attracts or deters the cats.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My quilts at the NEC

I've been trying to sort out my pictures from the NEC, and I have decided I really need to make quilts that are easier to photograph. Still here is what I managed to get, so far.

First is a close up of 'Guide me'. This is a wholecloth, all the colour and pattern is quilting, unfortunately none of the pictures of the whole quilt came out. Maybe with a lot of work on the computer we might be able to get one, but don't hold your breath. This is a perfect example of a difficult quilt. I guess this is one I need to get photographed professionally.

The nude ius also tricky. It always seems to come out a bit dark, but when I try to lighten it it never looks quite right. If the camera screens were accurate, a couple of people did manage to get great pictures, but I wasn't one of them. Oh well. Hopefully one of the people with a good picture will send me one and I will share that.

'Winter Star' has nearly the same problem as 'Guide Me', fortunately the slightly higher contrast does improve the chance of getting a reasonable picture. It doesn't help when I don't manage to hold the camera straight on. This is the best picture I will have of this one for a year unless someone spots it in a show and sends me that instead. Ho hum. I did take several with different setting but this was by far the best for colour which I find the hardest thing to correct.

Finally we have 'Lily'. This one looks far better in the photo than in real life so I guess I can't complain. I do wish it had been on a white background so that the holes showed up, but realistically that wasn't likely. For some reason I didn't think of that when I was making it. Given it has hanging issues I may add a white background behind the holes during the rebuild process. Given this is my best piece from the show I think it is probably worth the effort to fix the problems.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Onwards and upwards.

My bank has finally sent me a new bank card only 2 months late and I have been making good use of it today. The most positive feedback I got from the Festival of Quilts was for my 'Winter Star' so I am going to make something else in that line. So I've been buying up black fabric like it is going out of style. Hopefully it will arrive about the same time as the bulk order of black thread and I can start playing.

I looked at entering 'Nude with Rope' and 'Decadence' into the Pacific International Quilt festival, but I realised at the last minute there is a theme, "All the World's a quilt". I can't see that they fit that so I guess they will have to wait for Road 2 California. I would love to have another wholecloth done in time for that too, but it will depend on when my orders arrive.

My other show decision for today was how to ship my next round of quilts to Grosvenor Exhibitions. I have one I need to finish before it goes but the others are ready now. Should I post the ones that are ready or wait and send them all together. It's tricky. I would like them out of the house but I think I will have to courier all of them, at which point it will probably be a lot cheaper to ship them all together. I never thought I would be desperate to get quilts off to shows, but I would really like some space back. Funny how things change isn't it.


I got strange post this morning. I seemed to have a delivery of patterns from America, which isn't unusual, but I was sure I hadn't ordered any. On tearing my way into the package I found something far more exciting (to me at least). My copies of Unlimited Possibilities magazine. Yes copies, when you are featured they send you some extras! It's very odd two pages full of me and my work. I still love my globe, I will have to make more of them.

The front cover is amazing it shows the viewers choice from MQS, Turnabout by Claudia Pfeil. It is a beautiful quilt, and she is also featured in the magazine. This issues focus is European quilters. There is some amazing work being done in Europe, and I think I will have to ask these ladies where they are showing their work. I would love to see it in person.

I couldn't have hoped for a better start to the working week. This has really got me in the mood to get on and do things. So a big thank you to Unlimited Possibilities.

Monday, August 27, 2007

So Where now?

I've waited a week before posting to give myself time to think, but I feel I should comment on how I got on at the Festival of Quilts. I've just spent some time looking at my judging sheets from this year, last year, and where I can the US judging sheets for the same quilts.

No matter how I cut it, my quality has gone down, substantially from last year. Results I was very disappointed with last year now look positively glowing. Also it appears that the judging at the Festival is a lot stricter than the US judging, that was a big surprise. I assumed it would be the other way around, but we all know what assuming does for you.

So what do I do now? I thought that the quilts I entered this year were a much higher standard than last year. I thought I had got better at techniques and I thought I was a lot more picky about finish. The judges disagree, so do I try and go back to how I was doing things? I've been a lot more careful about squaring up, and burying thread tails, but that has made things worse. I've put a lot more time into design and planning but that has gone down too. I'm stumped I just don't know how I can improve.

The real shock for me was finding out which quilt the judges thought was the best. It wouldn't have been the one I would have expected, and from talking to friends neither did they. Lily was by far the highest scoring quilt. I can see a lot of faults with this quilt, far more than I can find with the others, so is it just that I don't understand how quilts are judged? Do I not understand what is good and what it bad? I would love to take the judging course and find out how it all works, but I can't afford to. I have read every book I can find on the subject, but it looks like there is a lot I've just plain not understood.

So does anyone have any idea how I can learn what is expected, what is good and what is bad?

Thursday, August 23, 2007


On the surface I haven't been terribly productive today. I've been in and out like a yo yo all day but I think I am finally making progress and I feel ready to get back to sewing. I've been trying to tidy my sewing room which is where I blog, piece, cut, press and design. It was originally the front room of our terraced house and my desk is in the bay window. Well in fact it fills the bay using the window sill as part of it's support system. As I do a lot of different things in here and basically live out of this room it tends to get a little out of control. In particular I had developed an interesting mound next to my desk that was starting to look dangerous.

The mound has been excavated and produced some interesting archeology. It has been replaced with a cutting table with storage below. Sadly the drawers are primary colours and very bright but at least they are under a board so it isn't too bad. Given I didn't have a lot of choice in my budget I guess I can't complain. To reflect light onto the cutting table I have propped my white board behind it. I think I will help once I change the blown light bulb. I am sure the bulbs can detect where I am working as they always seem to blow just when I start doing something in their area.

I have a bit more I need to do before I get down to serious sewing. I have a whole load of quilts I need to put back into storage, and I want to find a way to hang my nude again, I don't think she will like being rolled long term, and then I can get on with some sewing. From past experience I work better if I wait a little after I decide I am ready to get back to it, and of course the tidying really does need doing.

The world still feels a little off center

It's really taking me a long time to recover from the Festival of Quilts. I have a stack of work I really should be getting on with, but I just can't focus. I have at least managed to put in some thread orders. Barnyarns have really impressed me, I ordered thread yesterday and it arrived today. Yes I have taken the advice, and yes the thread does look as good as promised. I don't know if I mentioned it but I was alarmed to notice I was almost out of black thread just before the festival, so I am now waiting on a large box of just black thread to arrive from America. Each time I order I get a larger quantity but I seem to be using it at an even faster increasing rate.

I suppose the other reason for not getting much done is following up on all the conversations I had and the show, and those I failed to have. I can't believe I talked to so many people and yet missed a lot I specifically wanted to see. It's scary how many people I now sort of know.

I've also been thinking about some new quilt designs. I was disappointed to not come back full of inspiration this year, but after a rest ideas have started to flow. I saw a lady with an amazing knotted necklace and I still fancy doing one of the beads in quilting. If I can get my head around it I think it would be really fun. I want to do something a bit different but photographic, I have one pretty much planned and a couple more ideas that need some more kicking. I am trying to work out how to get action shots of people and cats. Some of the poses I want to do with humans would be a lot easier with the aid of wires, but I don't have that kind of set up, or indeed the space for one so I will have to find another way. Yes I know one option would be to try and draw it from my imagination, but I can't do that to my satisfaction. I am also considering the life drawing classes again, but they are very scary, I don't really want to go anywhere with an art teacher, but I really want art lessons. Tricky.

I've also discovered that there is a shortage of cheap plastic drawer units. I've needed some for my sewing room for a while and this seemed as good a time as any to have a tidy up. Now everyone is out of stock. Does the world not what me to be tidy (well tidier at least).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thank you

I'd just like to take a chance to thank all the people who support me in ways big and small. From those who I keep up half the night fretting or finishing work, to the very kind man who offered me a hand with my packages in the post office today. I am sure there are times when your efforts seem to be falling on deaf ears, but believe me they aren't. You are all making a huge difference to me, so thank you.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

people people everywhere.

It has been a great day for meeting peeple today. I do love catching up with the far flung people i only see at shows. It's also great to see the people behind the web hits. I look forward to seeing you all again at the next event.
I have mostly packed now and it feels odd that this time tomorrow it will be all over. I have found my routine now. I am quite dreading the drive back tomorrow might as I am sure as soon as I leave the show I will be ready to sleep. If you are visiting tomorrow and would like to meet up I will be manning the SAQA stand about 2pm and collecting my quilts at 5pm.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Oh my

So it has been a very hectic couple of days here at the NEC. Sorry I didn't get to blog yesterday but I didn't pause between getting up and going to bed.
The show is as amazing as usual although I didn't really appreciate it yesterday. I was especially pleased to see the Russian display back on investigation it was even better than I could have hoped, the main part of the show is entirely from my favourite artist from last year. Www.Nversio.Com I hope will take you to her site. I haven't found out how to spell her name yet but I will. Last year she had a theater on a quilt, this year I love her shop quilt.
The layout of the galleries is amazingly good. If you stand in the Russian gallery which is mostly cool colours you can see into the Faces of Arabia gallery which is the got colours. It is a wonderful display and really shows the diversity of the exhibits beautifully.
Oh yes I suppose I should mention. Nude with rope got a judges choice. I hope I will get to keep the little board with that on that is by it. Tomorrow I will at least try and get a picture of it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hmm must be the festival of quilts.

I am soaked. Yes really everything i an wearing is soggy. I thought I was going over the top with my packing last night, but maybe not. I think I went for eight complete changes of clothes as this happened last year and I ran out of dry clothes. I also decided to bring four pairs of shoes for the same reason and it looks like I will need them too. So come prepared for rain.

Winter Star made it on time just. I bumped into the trolly load of quilts leaving as I arrived. At least this way I can be certain it is in the right place with the right people.

Now back to the serious business of checking out tonights dinner venue. I don't want to suggest somewhere that isn't good. The Little Owl was very nice last year so hopefully it will still be good.

See you at the NEC

So I should really be in bed but here I am posting the last pictures before I go. I have my longarm gallery quilt, Winter Star, packed and ready to go tomorrow morning. These are the pictures I took of it before I trimmed and bound it. The finish size was specified and I decided that I would rather have a gap to the sides of the geese than run the risk of them being clipped by the binding depending on how it shrank as I quilted. As it turned out I could have used a slightly wider binding, but I think it was the right way to go for me. I like to make my quilts oversize them trim them to where I want them. I like the quilting to appear to continue beyond the quilt and the feel of the binding when there is quilting in it. I even do this with borders, making them a couple of inches bigger than I want before quilting. There are four shades of grey thread in this quilt and a lot of black. The binding ended up with a thin piping of shaded purple as my one colour.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pictures out and about.

I promised you pictures of Sweden, but having been rather busy I haven't got that far yet. However, Tet who was out there with me has. Here is his page of my pictures. I think he has made a pretty good job of selecting the pictures. If you have a look you will see a picture of 'Iron wool' some rather unusual sheep. This was outside the company with the oldest spinning jenny in Sweden still working. They are a very friendly bunch and produce fantastic yarns, Their web site is if you like knitting or other yarn crafts do give them a look. It will help if you can read Swedish, but I think you can probably get the idea even if you don't. A lot of words are quite similar to English.

I also found a photograph of one of my commissions online today. It is quilted but not a quilt. It is Andy Carters engine cover. It is designed to keep the engine warm and clean (and in light rain dry). It was actually about the size of a kingsize quilt before it was shaped to fit the engine. Here you can see it in action as the car is being loaded into the trailer. I don't think this is the engine I made it to fit, hence it looks a bit baggy, but it will still do the same job.

Oh yes, I will be trying to blog from the NEC again this year, but as last time the intnet access at the hotel is very expensive so I will have to use my phone again. This means I may not be able to read comments until I get home. I will see if I can work out a way around that though.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Busy Busy

This time last year things were a lot calmer. I keep finding I have misplaced several days, and I haven't blogged or read my email. This is very unlike me. I just have so much to do. The good news is I am loving it. I can work very long days and enjoy it, which is well worth the lack of time.

Today I have been finishing the quilting on the black wholecloth I mentioned in my last post. I had thought it was quite small at 70" x 90", but when I put it on the bed tonight it doesn't look too bad. It is now trimmed and ready for it's binding. Just as well as it needs to be in a quilt show Wednesday. I quite fancy doing some more quilts in this style but it will have to wait until I have ordered more thread. I seem to have got through an awful lot of black thread recently. So much so I am almost out.

For this quilt I used masterpiece in the bobbin and signature on top. I thought the slightly heavier thread would help as I wanted the shades of grey to show up. I am fairly pleased with the result, but boy did it make a lot of lint. I had to thoroughly clean and oil my machine twice during this quilt. Normally I only need to do it once a quilt. It is surprising how different similar looking threads can be. I was also surprised to find I had to adjust the top tension for each different colour. I suppose the different amounts of dye is enough to change the diameter of the thread when it is a thicker one to start with. Certainly I haven't noticed the same effect with finer threads.

I have taken some pictures of the (nearly) finished quilt but my computer isn't playing ball. For some reason it seems to be having trouble seeing the card from the camera. I have asked someone else to upload it for me and hopefully I will be able to put the pictures up before I go.

This evening it has just started to sink in that the Festival Of Quilts is this week and I need to think about packing for it. Somehow it hasn't seemed urgent until now. I haven't even had time to think about an outfit for the gala dinner. I am sure something will work out. I am also trying to decide if I should take some quilting with me. Last year I did have time in the evenings when I was just sitting in my room, but I think I am less likely to do that this year. Maybe the time off would be good.

Please do stop me and say hello if you see me at the show, I do love meeting people, even though I am very bad at remembering names later. I do remember the people and what they make honest.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Where to begin?

I've just spent an amazing day out in London. Out of the blue a week or so back Esterita Austin (yes the Misty Fuse and Stone Portals Esterita) got in touch with me. We talked last year but not much since so it was a bit of a surprise. She was going to be in London so we planned a day out. Her only requirement was afternoon tea, and as one of the first places I found with an opening at short notice was opposite Buckingham Palace it made sense to go there too. As you may be aware the state rooms are open for a short time each year, which just so happens to b now. How lucky were we? If you get the chance I strongly recommend taking a look around them. Architecturally they are stunning, I have coma away with so much inspiration for quilts it is just silly. It is also wonderful to hear the tales of what has happened where and to see the rooms that appear so often on television. It was fun to watch old news real later in the day and be able to say we stood there.

One of the interesting facts I didn't know was about the roads around the palace. I had noticed they are red but I never really thought about it. Well apparently all royal roads are red and are and extension of the red carpet. Cool, I've driven on red carpet then.

It was a lot of fun spending the day with another quilter. It is always interesting to meet new people with the same interests, and I love how often quilters do just get along. I got to learn some more about art, which was wonderful and I got to share things about our country. What more could you ask for. Well maybe the chance to meet up again? Sorted, next week at the NEC. It doesn't get better than that.

Anyway back to what I have been working on recently.

I've been promising a picture of the completed chair, and here it is. Sorry about the cluttered background I only remembered to take the picture just as I was about to walk out the door to deliver it to the collection center. I am thrilled with how solid it has ended up. It gives me a lot of hope for making a larger version. This one is about child sized, and would probably support a cat or a small child. Not bad given it is all textiles and held together entirely with stitches. One of the things I saw in the palace today was a chair which was supported by sphinxes. The way it was built would have worked very well in fabric and as it was very chunky in the structural areas it gives me a lot of scope to add strength. It is something I may have pt have a play with.

On the longarm I have another wholecloth. This is my entry for the Longarm Gallery at the Festival of Quilts. The theme is black white and a colour, shades of grey are also allowed. It is hard to see but there are several shades of grey thread being used here. I am quite happy with how it is coming along and I am really enjoying doing it. This photo was taken yesterday morning so I could see how the shading was coming. I still can't see things when I look at them directly. I need a photograph to reduce them and let me see them from a distance.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Exciting Post

It's been a good post day today. Firstly I have my instructions for the Fractured Quilt Challenge. This is where a several quilters around the world are given a copy of the same image to make a quilt of. The image is cut into four parts before making the quilt so the top is in four parts. These parts are sent back tot he organizer who shuffles them and send each person four parts to be finished as they like. It makes for some very interesting quilts. I did try to join the last one but I was too slow, so I am extra excited about making it this time.

I also got the September issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine this morning. This is always a good thing but I was especially pleased with the "bits and pieces" column. It has a short piece about the the Quilters Guild of the British Isles. It talks about our new home where the collection will actually be on display in a purpose built museum. It should be a very interesting project once it is up and running. Hopefully it will lead to some of the UK holiday companies putting it on the agenda for trips to York.

Now back to my latest wholecloth, which is for the Longarm Gallery at the NEC. At least I can deliver it by hand so I don't have to worry about posting it. I am really looking forward to seeing what the other longarm quilters in the UK can come up with. The theme this year is black and white with one colour. Shades of grey are also allowed. It sounds like I might get to see a whole room full of quilts in a colour scheme I love.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Whups where did the week go?

Wow it's been a whole week. I can't quite believe it. I got back from Sweden safely then got straight down to work. I didn't really surface again until Friday evening when the NEC quilts were safely sitting at the collection depot. I still haven't uploaded my photos, so I haven't got the finished chair picture yet, but believe me as soon as I have it it will be on here. Now I must get back to the very boring, but urgent paperwork mountain.