Sunday, September 30, 2007


Today I am actually taking some time to work on a quilt for me, my birthday quilt. It hasn't told me it's name yet, but it is coming together quite well. This is the center of the quilt.Which I guess is about 60" square. There will be three boarders added to it now. The first two should be quite quick and will use the rest of the panel the red blocks came from. The last border will take a bit longer as I want a spiky curvy boarder so I will be foundation piecing it. Still it will be fun and I will have a new huge quilt for the bed. I would love to know what the characters mean in the sashing, and indeed if I have them the right way up. It is worrying working with unfamiliar alphabets, you never know what you might be saying.

Yesterday I went to the Natural History Museum. This was a little disappointing as I had hoped to see lots of displays of fossils and animals. There were very few fossils there now. I get the impression that the things I find interesting have been declared too boring or difficult to be on display, both at the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. I think it is a great shame how dumbed down they have both got. I remember there being a lot of things in the museums I didn't understand but I liked that, it gave me things I could go and look up and learn about.

Still the building is just as amazing as ever, they aren't allowed to change that as it is a listed building. I wished I had taken my camera as now it is clean it is just one big design source. I will have to go back and take a lot of pictures, hopefully soon. I suppose I might be able to combine that with a trip to see the terracotta army which is currently at the British Museum. I am going to have so many ideas I really won't know where to start, but I suppose that is better than the alternative.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another quilt revealed

This quilt has spent a lot of time on the frame recently. It was pieced and appliqued by Barbara Wharton, from a design by Karen Kay Buckley called Midnight Floral Fantasy. Isn't it a stunning quilt. I was thrilled to be given the chance to quilt it. It has been a learning experience, I would never have guessed how long it takes to work such a simple pattern around all the applique. It's just as well I liked looking at it I guess.

It's strange spending that much time to try and not attract attention. In this quilt I really didn't want the quilting to say much. It has a job to do but it is very much a supporting role, not the star. Hopefully you can tell from the pictures the quilting doesn't stand out. We decided to make it a little more obvious in the pieced area, really it would have been hard not to with the mixture of black and colours here. We chose a thread that blends quite well with the colours and helps pull the back together with them. I am really pleased with the effect.

The quilting pattern is the same in all the areas, just the scale and the thread changes depending on what I was trying to achieve. Very close to the applique the quilting is very small curls getting bigger further from it up to the medium size swirls in the coloured area.

This quilt is about 97 inches square, so even in the quilt shop I couldn't quite get a picture of the whole thing. Had the weather been better I could have taken the photographs outside, but wouldn't you know it, it rained. Still I think the pictures do give you an idea of how striking this quilt is. From my point of view, the most important thing is that my customer is happy with the quilting, and she was. I hope she finds the quilt a good home.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Scary day

Well I've done it now, the gallery is booked. I will be showing some of my work at the Dissenters Gallery from 7th March 2008 to 7th April 2008. It seems a lot more scary now I have confirmed it. I have plans for all the work that will be on display, I just have to decide the title. I am excited too, but sooo nervous. I guess my next step is to take some time to try and work out the bulk of what has to be done before the opening. I've a feeling it will be a long list.

I can finally talk freely about a project I completed back in February. Unfortunately I don't seem to have a picture of it finished but here is 'By the Hearth' in progress. It is a wall hanging of a life sized fireplace. Today I got my copy of Popular Patchwork, who are printing it as a three part project, and I love the photograph they have taken of it. I will have to ask someone to pat the model for me.

It could be used just as a decorative piece, or by adding Velcro to the back of all the decorative items it works as an advent calendar too. The stockings button on and would be great to hold a few small presents. The fireplace and it's quilting is very closely based on the fireplace in my sewing room. The cat would have to be Heimdal who is my ginger tom and love the fire.

I also have designs for decorations to hang on your real fireplace (if you are lucky enough to have one) which I will be teaching at Patchwork Corner on the 20th October. We will also look at making Christmas stockings and quilted cards.

Looking forward to work

I've think I rather like having regular classes. I found myself looking forward to going to work today, last night, and the class lived up to my expectations. In fact they have inspired me, along with Jenny who runs Patchwork Corner.
One of my students started a sampler quilt today, and started with tumbling blocks, which had me thinking about hexagons. Jenny suggested I should make a quilt with the fabric range I really liked and talked her into, and another student was telling me I would think of a clever way of joining quilt as you go sections. So I am thinking about these fabrics, sashing and hexagons, which lead me to my birthday quilt. For my birthday I was bought the fabrics to make me a new quilt for the bed. It is the Graceful Geishas range from Loni Rossi, and I wanted a plan to use the multi fabric panels she has done.

I bought eight panels, the largest part of each will become a block in it's own right. I will set nine blocks to make the main body of the quilt, so I have to create a center block. When we were in Sweden I saw some woven panels with come from a Japanese book and make hexagons (among other things). So above you can see the start I have made on the center piece. It will end up about 15" square and each bias strip is 18mm. Yes I know I shouldn't mix units, but the bias maker and it's strip cutter are metric and I make quilts in imperial. It will all work in the end, as the width of the strips really doesn't matter. Of course there will be sashing between the blocks and I will be able to use the little medallions off the panel in the intersections. I think it is going to be a fun project. It also means I have something new to show my class tomorrow night. So thanks guys, it wouldn't have happened without you.

Oh and I think I have a solution for machine sewing quilt as you go without the zigzag.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Guide Me

I finally managed to get a reasonable photograph of 'Guide Me'. The trick was getting it into really good natural light. Fortunately I know someone with a large conservatory. Of course I would have rather not had the creases but you can't always get what you want. I did leave it to hang and although they reduced somewhat they didn't vanish, so I have no idea what it is going to look like in Edinburgh. I can't post it rolled because it is too long and the carriers all refuse to take it so I have to fold it. I did try folding it on the bias when I packed it off to the show, so if anyone manages to get some pictures of it we can see if that helped at all.

Still in this picture you can see how colourful it is. The fabric is black cotton sateen, and the coloured threads are Masterpiece by Superior. These are very fine threads, that are fairly low lint and very glossy looking. I love the glow they have on the sateen. Once I clear the current customer quilts I have in I will be making something else like this, I am really looking forward to doing another wholecloth.

If you are going to the Scottish Quilt Championships I have four quilts there. 'Guide Me' is joined by 'Wait', 'Golden Storm' and 'In Full Bloom'. I think they are in bed quilt, art, theme and small wall hanging, but I am not certain. Fortunately the other quilts are quite small so I was able to roll them and they should therefore hang OK. It is one of the things I like about seeing photographs of my quilts out and about, I can assess how well they are hanging and what I need to improve in my packing technique.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Henry Moore at Kew

As you may remember I have been trying to educate myself about art. Living in London has really helped with this, as I have access to several galleries with very different collections. Just occasionally though something really special comes up. I had no idea whether or not I would like Moore's sculptures but I knew enough to know that seeing 28 of them out in Kew gardens was something not to miss.

Fortunately I have a friend who is a fan of Moore and quite happy to join me in a walk around the gardens. Even more luckily we chose to go yesterday, which seems to have been the last day of summer, today we have had some significant storms but yesterday was a wonderful warm late summer day. Blogger being blogger has chosen it's own order for the pictures and I think I will just work with it rather than trying to shuffle them all around. It actually fits how it felt when we were walking around. We kept getting the feeling we weren't looking at things in the order the guide expected, which was rather nice. We would come to our own conclusions about the work we were looking at, only to have our thoughts confirmed by the write up on the next sculpture. I guess ti show how successful Moore is with what he does.

This first piece here is 'Knife Edge Two Piece', it was made in the 1960's. Like many of the pieces it has many different looks depending on the angle you view it from. I think this was my favourite, although we stopped for a break in the afternoon and the bench we chose was in a group of trees and I could see this sculpture through the trees, what was beautiful too. This was a very solid feeling piece and I loved the sharpness of the edge. It was interesting to be able to touch the sculpture. Touch is such and important sense and when viewing art we normally don't get to use it. Given that most of the works are cast in bronze, it is surprising how different they all feel.

The second picture is of possibly the busiest of the sculptures. 'Two Large Forms' was absolutely swarmed over by children. Although there were a lot of signs warning people not to climb on the sculpture most of them had soft bark chippings around them so I guess they expected a certain amount of climbing. I was torn between feeling people should have obeyed the signs and thinking it was great that children were getting so much out of the art. Maybe if they find art fun at an early age it will be easier for them to enjoy it later in life. This picture was taken standing inside the sculpture.

Next we have one of Henry Moores many reclining figures. This one is 'Reclining Figure' from 1982. I had expected to like the reclining women a lot, but actually I struggle with the distorted proportions they have. I love the hair, which looks like a bun to me and nearly all the ladies have it, but the faces with two holes as eyes and the nipple holes are almost disturbing. I guess it has to be said they are effective, I know what he is showing, but I don't think it is for me.

'Oval with Points' had a great position within the gardens, it was positioned in the middle of one of the long vistas. I think this was the piece that really made it clear to me what appeals about Henry Moore I like looking at landscaped through his sculptures. They work almost like frames, and in doing so they seem to change the landscape you are looking at. I think I could have spent hours looking at all the new shapes they make. This was possibly the best for revealing itself slowly, something they were intended to do. As we approached the sculpture looks fairly flat. It looks like it will be shaped like a washer with the hole through it, but as you walk around it you find the other side bulges and looking at it edge on there are even more shapes and patterns. I just wish I could have been there without all the people. I would have loved a photograph of the empty landscape through the hole. The guide book only have the view looking the other way back towards the palm house.

After finding I liked the landscapes framed by bits of sculpture I started taking a lot of pictures using the sculptures rather than just of the sculptures. This is one I particularly liked. It is the 'Double Oval' framing the Orangery restaurant. There are several places to eat at Kew in some lovely buildings. I would love to see an orangery in use, but they refreshments were good and they weren't even too busy, so I guess I can't complain.

This was one of the pieces where we commented on it similarity to bones, right before reading a piece about how Moore was inspired by bones. Yay, he conveyed his inspiration and we understood it. OK that may not seem like a big deal, but coming from an entirely science background I have found art to be something of a mystery so seeing what I am supposed to s a sign of progress (and a good artists work). This one is called 'Reclining Connected Forms' which doesn't say much to me, but then I see bones and joints and think far more literally when looking at names. I like the idea of castings, because there are multiple copies of each piece. I had thought this would devalue art in some way, but I'm not so sure now. Isn't it a good thing to have a few copies so more people can enjoy them?

This seemed to be the biggest of the sculptures at Kew, and I was wondering how they brought it in. The guide book for the exhibition has some great pictures of it being craned into place all wrapped up, I wish I could have seen it being done. It must be very difficult installing multi part sculptures as you want to get the pieces exactly as the artist saw them. I suppose there must be some sort of assembly instructions that map out where thing hit the ground relative to each other, can you imaging how annoying it would be to have your work assembled incorrectly when it is this big? 'Large Reclining Figure' is resting by the lake in front of the palm house. It fits in well with all the people sitting by the lake and having their picnic with the swans and geese. Unlike most of the sculptures this one is fiberglass and feels a lot more temporary and fragile, something like egg shell.

Walking around the lake (I think it is a lake anyway, when does a pond become a lake?) you get this wonderful view of the palm house and the fountain. I can't believe how grey my pictures look, because it was really very sunny with the light reflecting off the water. For some reason that just hasn't come out. You can still see the wonderful shape of the palm house. Unfortunately we ran out of time so only managed a very quick look around but we have decided that when we go back you need to do it with a larger group of people. That way you can strip down to minimal clothes before going in and leave your friends outside looking after your belongings. It is very hot and humid in there (I know clue is in the name) and jeans and t-shirt was really too much clothing.

This is 'Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped' yes really. I've struggled to find out which one it was because they all show it from a very different angle, and it looks like and entirely different piece. I liked the draped effect from this position and I think the torso looks more elegant too. Just be warned that if you try to look it up in the guide book you do need to expect the other side. It's odd as most of the time I have taken very similar pictures to the official photographers, but here I seem to be very much in the minority.

Carrying on one of Henry Moore's favourite themes, we have 'Reclining Figure: Angles'. I liked the face on this one, I am more comfortable when there are more features, or perhaps when there is a definite nose. I'm not entirely sure which. I still find the distorted body shapes rather off putting though.

This is the Temperate House, given how much I like the building and how many pictures I took of it you my be surprised to hear that we didn't have time to visit it. Hopefully we will get to go back later in the year though and then spending time in the hot house will, I am sure, look very appealing. I would especially like to see the sculptures in the snow, I think they would look totally different in that setting. It might even be worth seeing them just with the winter trees, although there are a lot of conifers around so it won't be totally bleak. The guide book (for Kew itself) seems to say it contains a lake and plants from New Zealand and Australia. It certainly sounds good from the book. The interior architecture also looks stunning from the photographs. I can't wait to go back and have a good look around.

The Pagoda is another spectacular building within the gardens, apparently one of 25 special buildings designed for the gardens. Originally it was painted very brightly, with green and white roofs and the banisters in a mix of red, blue and green. It sounds a bit garish to me but I guess it was in style in the 18th century. It is not a 'proper' pagoda as really it should have an odd number of floors but it is so pretty I think I will let it off. I was really surprised by how solid it looks. I think of pagodas as being rather delicate things but this is a very solid brick structure with iron plates for the roofs.

I often buy guidebooks when I visit places but for some reason they always appeal more when I get home. I don't seem to want to read them when I am actually at the place. This is the first time I have felt the guide book would add to the visit. I bet I forget to take it with me when I go back. I've found out there are several follies I missed and a waterlily house. As I have plans to make a waterlily quilt I guess I have to go for research purposes. If I happen to see other things while I am there I can't really help it. I've been looking for inspiration for architectural quilts too, and the Temperate house may well be able to help with that.

Speaking of follies, we did find King William's Temple. Inside there are iron plaques commemorating British military victories from Minden to Waterloo. It was originally designed to complement the Temple of Victory, which is no longer standing. Something that did strike me at Kew was the number of columns. I wish people built more with columns now. I love them and there are so many different styles. I guess it is a matter of cost, but still they are great, someone must think they are worth the price.

When they were planning the Henry Moore exhibition at Kew they obviously put a lot of thought into where the pieces were going to fit best. There are many that frame wonderful views, there are ladies reclining in front of lovely buildings looking over gardens, and then there is the 'Goslar Warrior'. Where else would you put a soldier, but outside the Temple of Victory. When I look at this I see a soldier resting he is ready but at rest, the guide book however tells me that he is a falling warrior. It talks about him having a twisted thin body, which again is not at all what I see. I see an athletic body, I see the potential for power. It's interesting that this is the only piece where I am utterly at odds with the official description. It makes me want to see the other male forms, especially the warriors, as I feel I would like more data on how Moore represents these.

The last picture I am going to share here is of 'Large Upright Internal/External Form'. This was another piece placed in the middle of a wonderful long vista. It was particularly striking seeing it with the pagoda in the background but the path was so busy I couldn't get a good picture of it. As with many of the pieces it seems to require you to look at it from a lot of different angles, and I wish I could have got to see it as those setting it up did. There is a picture in the guide book of someone in a cherry picker inside it. That's not a view many people will get but I am sure it felt amazing. This has the potential to be one of the most enclosing of the pieces at Kew but being tall and thin (relatively) you can't really get into it.

If you are interested in the sculptures but can't get to Kew the guide book is full of good pictures and interesting text. Also they have a web site with a lot of information on about both this exhibition and Kew in general. If you are close enough to visit you really do need at least two days to see everything at Kew. We arrived fairly early and weren't quite thrown out, but I think we only saw slightly over half of what there was to see, and that involved a lot of rushing about in the late afternoon. Of course if you do fancy meeting up with me when you go do let me know I really want to go back sooner rather than later. Oh yes the exhibition is on until the 30th March 2008, I couldn't find that on their site.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dreams can come true

As you do when you are preparing to do something new and somewhat unknown, I was dreaming about teaching at Patchwork Corner yesterday morning. OK perhaps a little sad but it was quite cool too. If we could just get rid of the roads and expand the shop to the one in my dream... but that isn't the bit that came true. I dreamed about thread (yes yes, really sad I know) and lo and behold one of my students asked exactly the right question for the answer I had rehearsed in my dream. Although I think I did it better in my dream. Of all the things to come true I don't think this would have been my highest priority, heck the huge shop with a whole room dedicated to threads would have been more exciting, but still quite fun. I guess the brain does know what it is doing with rehearsing things in your sleep.

I think the class went well. Th reason it was concerning me is that I had no idea what I would end up teaching. I had prepared several things but I had to go and ask what the class wanted. As it turned out they had all brought things along with them. That made things a lot easier even if it did mean teaching different things to each person. They seem like a nice bunch and I am very much looking forward to seeing them regularly. One bonus of a regular group is getting to see people actually finish things, and I benefited from this in the very first session. One of the ladies in this calls took my speed quilt workshop and brought that along to show me finished. It looked really good and people found it hard to believe how quickly she had made it. She thinks it took about 12 hours including all the cutting. Not bad.

We also concluded I should get shares in June Taylor for showing people the Shapecut tool. I love mine and wouldn't be without it so I am always surprised how many people have never tried it. It is a special 'ruler' for cutting strips. It's hard to explain without showing you but trust me if you do a lot of strip cutting for piecing, you want one.

I thought it was time to show you my challenge fabrics, well the camera was to hand and I needed a break from quilting.
The terms of the challenge are that I have to use all of these and the threads to make a quilt. I can add more to it but I have to use all of these. I was wondering if I can do some kind graduated change from brown to purple, but I think that is going to need to be a very big quilt given that a lot of these are quite similar shades. I also considered something pictorial, but there isn't enough variation in value for the ideas that came to mind. Still I have a year so I don't need to rush into it. It's going to be an interesting problem to solve.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh my!

Well I've really gone and done it now, I've finally got in touch with a gallery. I've been thinking for a while that I aught/want to have an exhibition of my work. The want comes and goes depending on confidence, but as I think it is generally a good idea I am going to go for it. Some time ago Margaret Cooter suggested I look at the Dissenters Gallery. I did but at the time I didn't feel I had anywhere near enough work to mount a show. Earlier this week Cherie kindly applied a boot to my rear and feeling too ill to stand and quilt I got on the phone. Well if all galleries are as easy to deal with, I think I can do this. I suspect they aren't and that the very nice people looking after the Dissenters Chapel are something unusual, and rather wonderful.

Given this is really a long way from the field I am trained in it was nice to be talking to people who are keen to make this work and have experience of putting on this kind of event. I had been very worried about my lack of knowledge, but have been and met the team today I am sure I can do it. The only tricky part will be choosing work to display, as it will need to fit the venue, both in size and content. I was unsurprised that they weren't keen on the idea of me displaying nudes, given the gallery is attached to the chapel, especially as it is regularly used for funerals, but I took along my triptych anyway as it is a good size to take as a sample of my work. Well after they saw those they were actually keen for me to display them, thrilled doesn't cover it.

Having had a chance to think and try to plan, I think I need to make three or four new pieces to fit the space. It's a lovely venue and it has a few spots which demand using and have quite strong ideas what shape pieces they want. There is one spot which needs something tall and thin, which I think I would like to make something from the cemetery itself. For a while I have been thinking about dong a piece based on a sculpture and the cemetery has some wonderful work in it. I think it would be really good to have something to link me to the venue and I don't have anything that will fit the bill at the moment.

This is so scary, but thrilling at the same time. It feels rather like public speaking in fact, which I suppose isn't terribly surprising. If anyone has any tips I'd be very pleased to learn from others experiences, and I really do mean it, this isn't a field I trained for.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hever Castle Quilt Show

If you haven't been to the Hever show you are really missing out on a
treat. It isn't the biggest show in the country but it has to be one of
the friendliest. This year there were over 100 competition quilts and
six exhibitions of quilts. There is a good range of styles so most
people should find something that interests them.

Being in the grounds of an historic building there are a lot of people
around who wouldn't travel to a quilt show. I think this provides a
great opportunity to show what we do to a wider audience. Certainly some
of those who wandered in 'by accident' seemed very impressed and
surprised by what was on display. Having both the challenge quilts and
the bed quilts visible from the door is a great plan. I feel it
reassures people who are not familiar some of the new directions
quilting has gone that they are indeed looking at quilts, but at the
same time illustrates that quilt aren't just something to put on the

The challenge section is open to guild members from all regions, and seems to
attract a good number of entries each year. The theme this year was
'Oriental Expressions'. Unfortunately I didn't manage to catch the
winner of the category so I can't show you her quilt, but here are the
other award winners in this category. The top three quilts receive a
money award, a rosette and a certificate. The winner is also awarded the
Hever Challenge Cup.

The winner was Anne Moncrieff with a piece called Masks, machine pieced,
hand quilted. Inspired by Japanese and Chinese Opera, clothing and

Second place, and my favourite, Heather Downie, Haiku. A spring haiku, a
painting by Jakuchu and a pack of Japanese fabrics from California
inspired the design. Machine pieced and quilted.

Third place went to Bento, by Laura Cochran. Bento Lunchboxes are
delightful examples to the artistic approach to daily life in Japan.
This crazy Bento showcases both types of Japanese fabrics; bright silks
and subdued cottons.

Three quilts in the category receive Judges Choice, one chosen by each
judge. The award is a bundle of fabrics and threads, a rosette and a

Three Little Maids by Cherie Lumsden, I fell in love with the fabrics
but only had limited amounts, so it was an exercise in use of fabrics.

Lynne Pretty received the award for The Silk Route. Inspired by
merchants unrolling lengths of silk, it tells the story of the silk moth
to fabric and its journey from East to West. Commercial, hand painted

Finally Mariko, by Ferret. There are so many iconic oriental masks and
faces. To my eyes the geisha is the most beautiful. Thanks Mary, without
you this wouldn't be here.

You may be able to see in the photographs of us receiving our awards
that we were each given a different colour bundle of fabrics.
Unfortunately Cherie and I both liked the same bundle and I was lucky
enough to get it. We narrowly avoided a fight, well at least we made it
a civilised fight. Cherie has challenged me to make a quilt using all of
the fabrics and thread that are in the bundle, I can add to it but I
can't take anything away. It's going to be tricky as the fabrics are
blues, purples, greens and sort of yellow brown. Still I like a
challenge and will see what I can come up with. You will be able to see
the result of this challenge at the Hever show next year. They have
kindly agreed to display the finished quilts, so that will make sure we
get it done.

This is Robin's entry for the challenge, Shikami. Inspired by a kyogen
theatre mask. This demonic spirit represents the expression of masculine rage. This is a small quilt, about A4, so the mask is approximately life sized.

Something else I really like about this show, is that the overall winner is chosen by the visitors. Even better this year two quilts I wanted to get awards did. The Sentinels by Irene Dunlop is a very striking collection of beach landscapes. It is wonderful how much detail and realism she has managed to achieve with very few fabrics. I would love to own this, or better yet have the eye for making it that she obviously has. Her statement reads, there they stand, protecting our shores from the encroaching sea.

The winner, taking home a large glass rose bowl, is Jean Wilkinson, with
An African Safari. Images of Africa, made for my niece who lives outside
Durban. Some of the pictures taken from Pat Parker and Jenny
Williamson's book. It's a wonderful quilt, and I am afraid my photographs
don't come close to doing it justice, and I love the fact that Jean
takes a lot of care to credit where the designs come from, only
crediting herself after she has covered the others. Though just between
you and me, now I know which she drew herself I am quite sure she could
have done them all if she had chosen to. She really is very talented at
capturing the 'essence of thing' which is essential for this style of

Please do consider entering the theme category next year, it is a lovely
show and a good day out. The water maze is fun and doesn't require you
to get wet, I didn't get to try the yew maze, it is very narrow and the
people ahead of us were trying to get a pushchair in so we gave it a
miss. If you are in the area, they are on the look out for stewards and
helpers for putting the show up. It is work, but it is a lot of fun. You
even get free tea at the morning break. So do consider offering your
help to keep this great show alive and growing.

Finally, thank you very much to all the quilters who have kindly allowed me to use these images of them and their quilts. Without them there wouldn't have been a show at all, and without their permission I could not have illustrated this posting. I am very grateful that quilters are so generous.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Power of Positive Thought

It's odd but the world does seem to know what you have a positive outlook, and no I don't just think it is that you see the same events differently.

For some reason this morning I woke up ready to take on the world. This is pretty odd given I have a cold and still feel pretty rough. There was a quilting magazine in my post, so I got to lie in a bath and read it. I spotted an advertisement for Green Mountain quilts, they are my next closest quilt shop. I've been meaning to go there for a while and today seemed the time. They have a map on their web site which I printed out and off I went. On the way I had thought up with a new pattern which is proving to be a lot of fun, but more about that later. The traffic turned out to be much better than the warnings suggested and the map was great. I found the shop without any problems.

So far so good, and believe me the world was already looking a better place. Then I got to meet the owner of Green Mountain Quilts, Paula Doyle, what a great lady. She was able to tell me so much about Houston, and all manner of other interesting things. I love getting to talk to different quilters. She has an good range of fabrics too, lots of tone on tone which are ideal for my nudes. I think I misplaced about two hours happily chatting. I should point out I did also buy things while I was there. I didn't just take up her time. It was funny to find out I knew at least one of her quilts, yet had never met her, and embarrassingly I seem to remember people once I have seen their work. Now if I can just get everyone to walk around with the quilt I've seen I would be sorted.

When I got home I found a card telling me my fabric order will be here on Monday, which will be perfect timing, and save it cluttering up the house before I need it. There was also a call I had been hoping for. See what I mean things start coming together. The rest of the afternoon was spent drawing up new designs, including a new pattern for the 2 1/2 strips. I've been promising Robin a pattern for a couple of months now so I got straight down to making up the prototype. It's going pretty well so far and I am really enjoying doing something simple that grows quickly.

As you may remember I helped hang quilts at Hever yesterday, I was disappointed that 'Mariko' didn't hang as well as I had hoped, so I wasn't at all surprised that I didn't get a call yesterday. I was very surprised tonight, I got a call. Mariko got a judges choice, which I think is amazing. I am so thrilled. Of all the shows I have been to this is by far the nicest (yes I know I haven't been to them all yet). I liked the way they treated everyone who had entered last year. I like that you get a certificate and a ribbon and that the return process for quilts was friendly and easy. Having helped hang the quilts I think this is due to some clever planning, and the ability of the organizers to at least seem relaxed. So I am now looking forward to going back on Sunday to collect a prize as well as my quilt. It doesn't get better than that. Well that isn't entirely true, I am rather hoping to play with the mazes too, I didn't have time last year.

Now all I have to do is keep thinking positively right. Not convinced I will manage it but I will enjoy it while it lasts. Of course this could all be the delusions of an ill person, but I am a happy ill person so I don't care.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hever Castle Quilt Show

Well the quilts are up and the moles are mostly down. I think we only scared one today. Imaging emerging into a marquee full of women, poor beast. Here is a picture I took last year of the castle. You can see one of the mazes here as well. It really is an amazing place to visit.

I wish I had taken my camera with me today. I went down quite early so the morning mist was still covering the countryside. I saw so many amazing landscapes on the way. I was told that the mist on the lake is well worth seeing as well so I might try and get there fairly early on Sunday when I go to collect our quilts.

Unfortunately Mariko didn't behave well when hung. I am going to have to figure out more ways to quilt faces without them looking aged. Although I am not sure that more quilting would have helped much in this case.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Busy and feeling crummy

Well I suppose I can't complain, I didn't get a cold while I was finishing off for the NEC so as timing goes it could have been worse. Still it isn't what I wanted, I will be off to Hever early tomorrow to help hang the quilts and deliver a couple at the same time, so I am really hoping I will feel better by then.

As you can imagine the cold has slowed me up a bit, but I have still been making good use of my time. I have been worried about keeping 'Nude with Rope' rolled up. She is too long for me to roll her from the top down and I am sure rolling side to side is doing no good at all. While I was quilting yesterday I realised the, I missed her being on the wall where I could see her when I worked (she lived there until she was quilted) and that I had a set of stick on brackets I wasn't using. I had tried to stick the brackets to the bedroom walls but they aren't flat enough. A couple of minutes work and she is back in place, and probably a lot better off for it.

I don't think I can claim it is the most elegant hanging system, but the rod to the left is usually hidden behind my blocking board so it isn't too bad. The really nice thing is the brackets are easy to take down again as they are just stuck to the wall with special strips. They aren't cheap but it beats filling the wall with holes. Hmm filling with holes doesn't sound quite right does it but I guess you will know what I mean.

Carrying on the decorative theme I also hung up 'Guide Me'. It is hiding the quilt pile for me. Always an improvement. Although it won't be there long, I have to send it to the Edinburgh show before the end of the week and I guess I will have to find another quilt to take it's place. Still I did take this picture of it which is the best I have managed so far. I guess the lighting in here is good for it, so before it goes I may try and get one of the whole thing. It won't be easy it goes floor to ceiling and I can't get more than four feet back to take the picture, but I have to try.

Lastly here is a picture of the quilt I am currently working on. This picture was taken a day or two ago so things have moved on a bit since then, but given the show is this weekend I think you can wait to see the finished version. The Hever show is a lovely one to take the family to, there are two mazes at the castle and lots of gardens. I haven't looked around the castle itself so I can't comment on that, but I know there was more than enough in the grounds to keep us busy for the day. If you take a camera there are lots of potential quilt inspirations. I have a pattern for a quilt I drew up after last years show but I haven't had time to make it yet. Maybe I should think about it for next year.

When I am working on pictorial quilts I take a lot of photographs of them. I find I can't see the picture after a while and taking a picture makes it clear to me again. This one was taken just after I put her nose in. It didn't look anything like a nose when I first stepped back but I was quite happy with it when I saw it in the photograph. As you can also see I don't work on finishing one are before going to the next. I find I get bored when I try to do that so I often jump around a bit. The only rule I do have is to work from the back forward. I can only do an area if everything behind it is done. Even so there is a lot you can get away with. As you can see the parasol handle is in but I haven't finished her clothes, which are behind it. This piece is called 'Mariko' it is loosely named after the very kind lady who emailed me the entry form so I could actually enter this show.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Not think about quilting - is that possible.

I did try at the weekend to do less quilt designing honest. I even left my camera in the car which normally helps. Still I kept finding wonderful design inspirations, so much so I was told off several times by those around me. One of the best was the disk breaks on a bicycle. They were so pretty with a spiral pattern and lots of circles. I am sure that will come up again in something. I was also reminded that I really want to look for more scientific images, there are so many interesting things we have images of now I would love to use them in art.

Looking at the parts of the cars, the engines, the clutches and even the tools is just so inspiring there is so much potential. The drag strip itself is in a great location and often has very pretty cloud formations. As Tet went out first round I got to be a spectator on Sunday so I had a look at the photographs the other people had been taking. Spectacular skys are common and popular in the prints for sale. I think that is something else I would like to try in a future project.

Still today is a work day and I am back at it so all is well, now I can think about it as much as I like.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Harrogate Show

If anyone is going to the show this weekend and could take pictures of any of my quilts hanging there I would really appreciate it. I love having pictures of them out and about. I have three in the show, 'Red and Blue Tulips', 'Blue Moon' and 'My Fat Quarter of Paradise'. Thanks

Go hug a writer

I can't believe how hard it is writing a show report. I have a new found respect for those writers who fill our magazines on a regular basis. I don't know how they do it. I certainly didn't expect it to take so much thought but with a show the size of the Festival of Quilts there is so much to try and say in a small space. My truly lousy memory isn't helping either. I have written stacks of notes and I am still having to constantly look things up in the show guides. If anyone from Twisted Threads is reading please please consider putting back the index. It would have made my job so much easier to be able to look up an artists work from their name rather than hunting though the sections listings. Fortunately I am better at remembering where a quilt was than the names of the quilt and quilters. I also feel very sorry for the editor. I think she will be needing to make good use of her delete key when dealing with my piece. I am sure it is far too long, but I figure she has a better idea than I do of what should be covered so giving her too much is better than too little right?

I hope this is something I will get to do again, as it has been fun and interesting, but I am glad I don't need to do it every month, it is hard work. Thank you to all those who have the stamina to do this on a regular basis, I will be reading your work with a lot more appreciation after this experience.

Poop, my spell checker isn't working, so please laugh quietly at my errors.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Exciting Qualifying.

So the latest update, Tet managed to run over Robin, or Robin managed to throw himself under the wheel of the car, depending on how you look at it. It was while the car was being backed up after the burn out, so low speed and no damage done to human or car. typical driver, Tet reported it felt odd and one wheel felt a bit high. Yes stuffing your crew under the wheel will do that. The run was a good one though at 8.91, and the medical center after telling Robin off agreed he was fine.

Next run they took things a bit slower and avoided a repeat, unfortunately they also avoided getting a time as Tet went before the tree ran. They are just heading down for the sixth round of qualifying today.

On a quilty note, I am working on an applique quilt which needs a lot of dense quilting to make it pop. I've done about between an eighth and a quarter in a bit over 4 hours. It's a big job this one, but it does seem to be starting so sing. Hopefully I can get it finished before I go to the track on Saturday.

News from the track.

I've just heard that the 'Ugly Stick' has run a 8.906 on a 8.900 dial in. That's really good and means that Tet should qualify well. There isn't much room on that for people to do better. It is the European Finals at Santa pod this weekend and as soon and my dragon of a boss lets me I will be off to join them there. I admit it I am a real slave driver when it comes to customer work. Now if the car can just hold together and the weather stay good....

What do quilters want?

As some of you will know I give out pencils with my contact details on. I think they are a lot more useful than a business card and I like them. From the feedback I get so do quilters. Today I got the catalogue from the company that made them for me and I've been trying to think of a different idea for next year. So far I can't think of anything better than a pencil I guess I should add I still have a reasonable number of pencils so I won't stop handing those out anytime soon, the debate is do I get more of them made or something new and hopefully exciting.

Out of the hundreds of options I have come to the following, pens, bags, post-it notes, sweets or torches. Now the problem is, I can think of good reasons against all of those too. The pens (to me at least) don't look as good as the pencils and I bet they will run out faster too, oh and they are made of plastic so less environmentally sound. Yup even though I love my cars I do consider environmental impact important. The bags are all, almost big enough to be useful for carrying quilting supplies, each one just needs a small change and it would be great, as is they aren't. The post-it notes would be a great seam guide, which is why they appeal to me, but do other quilters do that? Sweets are actually not the draw of the sweets :) They come in a little tin, which just looks too handy, they are tins that shut really well so I have used them for pins in the past. Of course I know a lot of quilters who can't eat sweets so maybe that isn't such a good idea. Mini torches are great for peering into your sewing machine. How people live without one (or indeed several) is beyond me, but will they be 'borrowed' by the men in a quilters life and never seen again?

So there you have my dilemma, and here is your chance to influence the decision. Of those which would most appeal to you? Which would you be most likely to hang onto and so have my contact details on hand? Should I just stick with pencils, or is there something else I haven't considered?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Insomnia strikes

I can't sleep so I have been working on some new designs. I don't like sewing at this time of night I figure I have too great a chance of messing up, so I use the time to work with photographs or drawings. Then I realised I haven't shared this quilt with you yet. This is a customers top with my quilting on it. I delivered it today (yesterday?) so I can now show you. It was a really fun quilt to work on, I love doing all the patterns used in the body of it. I have to admit I am not such a big fan of the border design, it's tricky to do and I find it a bit stressful, still a challenge is a good once in a while. One of this things I like most about working on other peoples quilts is the great variety of colours and designs I get to work on. I get to experience so many more designs options than I could possibly come up with on my own, which in turn inspires my quilts.

Oh yes, my portfolio is now working again (as far as we can see) it was indeed and issue related to my ISP moving my site to a new server. I am really looking forward to being able to take my web site hosting in house, it will mean we have total control over any upgrades and changes. It will also mean I can move my blog onto our servers, which will make me feel a lot happier. I like to know things aren't going to vanish or change without warning.

Oh dear it must be late, my cats are now trying to get me to go to bed. Guess I should try to humor them.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Portfolio Updated

I've finally got my portfolio on my web site updated, which is great, except we have a nagging suspicion I have forgotten some quilts. It's worrying that I could forget a quilt, but I guess when they are coming thick and fast it is a risk. So if you can think of one I have missed out please let me know.

Also is anyone going to the Harrogate show next weekend? If so would you be able to send me a picture of my quilts there. I have three pieces in the show, 'Blue Moon', 'Red and Blue Tulips' and 'my Fat Quarter of Paradise'. I just hope the last one is going to behave, it is rather large and I suspect it won't fit the frame very well. I wonder if the judges make an allowance for the frame being too small for the quilt.

Quilts are getting ahead of themselves

I am finding it very hard to concentrate at the moment. I have two quilts that are trying to get attention out of order. I have to plan when I am going to work on which piece to have them ready for the shows I think they best fit, so I always have a few stacked up in my head, but two of them are rebelling. They want to be done now and I really don't have the time. It's vary hard to concentrate on anything else though. I have tried all my usual tricks to deal with these disobedient ideas. I've drawn up the designs and in one case printed up test patterns but still they won't leave me alone. I may go mad before the end of the month.

To further help I spend a very inspiring couple of hours with some friends children yesterday. I now have a new and exciting design idea I want to work on. Unfortunately this one seems to go against a lot of advice I've been given, that I tend to trust, so it will need some thought before I start on it. It is so cool though I have to find a way to make it work.

Now about that quilt for the Hever show....