Remember - Its not the length of your life that's important - it's the depth.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Early Morning Wander

5 am this morning and as I was awake I decided to get up, it's been so hot and with all the downstairs closed up overnight the house felt stuffy, I opened all the doors and windows including the Patio doors and wandered out into the garden, it was soo cool! the plants and flowers were looking good so, I though I would record it here.This is the view that greets me each day from the conservatory

Wandering around there are a few winter pansies still giving it their all in the tubs

This lovely Iris in the pond is quite few years old now but still going strong, it's full of buds and has managed to open up one flower to greet the dawn

Blue Lobelia is everywhere but I love this clump on the rockery by the waterfall which with all the sunshine is looking a bit green, but the birds love bathing here!

Further up the in the borders Hellebore is flourishing

Across the lawn behind the larger rockery the Orange blossom smells so sweet.

Turning to walk back to the house on rear of the rockery is this grass, we don't know how it got here or what its called but its rather spectacular at around 4feet high

and all around the garden in colours many and glorious are the Aquilegia Vulgaris

Image result for aquilegia vulgaris pink

By now it's time for breakfast and some knitting, I'm currently working on some gloves, a special request from Barbara who lives next door (who bought the yarn then asked me to do it!) This is the first one, now don't get me wrong I like knitting gloves but it's driving me crazy, I do not like the yarn, I've used it before but the quality seems to have changed. In the ball its nice and soft but when I'm using it, it's like knitting with thin string! Plus I've had to run it back to the cuff twice already as I a) dropped a stitch and didn't notice then b) I did the thumb increases on every 4th row instead of the 3rd. I am now only knitting it in the mornings when there are no distractions and as you can see I'm up to the fingers. Yay!

Well I'm going to go now before this turns into a gardening blog with a grumpy knitter writing it! But I'll be back soon with some sewing show 'n' tell.


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Didn't We Have a Lovely Time...

...the day we went to Quilts UK at Malvern. 
Yes we did! especially as this year I was 'taxied' there and back by Lisa. We set off early in order to have a cup of coffee accompanied by a bacon roll at our usual 'watering hole'. On arrival we worked to our usual pattern, she shopped and I 'oggled' quilts with a little shopping thrown in. This year I was not disappointed, I took so many pictures it's taken me several hours to get them out of my phone, labeled up and in a folder. I thought I would share a few of them with you here.
As I took so many shots I'll show you a few and label them with the title and the name of the maker.
First up is the Best in Show, not really my cup of tea, but it was very clever.

Latin For Quilters by Moira Neal. Cambridgeshire
Hand painted, Applique, Hand made lace, Recycled, rusted & printed fabric and embellishments.
The next 3 quilts absolutely blew me away, with superbly accurate intricate piecing and stitching.
All Things Bright and Beautiful by Evelyn Walton. Gloucestershire. 
Machine pieced, Hand appliqued Baltimore style. 

Enchanted Stars, Happy Days by Andrea Ashwell. Wiltshire
Batiks, free motioned quilted with some ruler work.

Mauerblumchen - (Wallflower) by Claudia Scheja. Germany
Machine Pieced Carpenters Star and Machine applique flowers. 

This one made me smile. To give you an idea of the humour I have added a close up of one block
A Quilters Tail by Shakesmeer. 
Made to commemorate Shakespeare's 400th anniversary 

The last one is my '15 minutes of fame', after 30 years of patchwork & quilting finally I have 'a piece' hung at Quilts UK.

Westbury Park Quilters Banner. Made by many hands and inspired by the wonderful city of Bristol 
Begun when I was a member of this group, we were given a list of famous landmarks or things relevant to the city and left to use our own techniques to achieve our chosen block. This is what I chose.

I used an image from the Bristol Blue website which I printed off and traced to get the shape of the jug, ditto for the lettering. Jug and central lettering applied using bond-a-web then machine appliqued in place before hand quilting the outline, the rest of the lettering was hand embroidered.
I did a little shopping, buying a couple of small Boutis/Trapunto kits from Sylvia Critcher along with some quilting Wool and 1/4" masking tape, a couple of Redwork kits from designed by Sadie Yeomans  plus a small bundle of fabrics from Farne Designs a fabric supplier who dye all their own fabrics which come in the most amazing range of colours. There were a few bits and pieces too small to list here. To round off the day we finished with tea and cake - why?-  because you have too! 
We arrived home tired and not a little sad with the knowledge that this will be our last show together as Lisa returns to the USA 10 weeks from tomorrow :-((


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Textile Books - the next steps

Hello Again All,
As promised I am back to tell you more of my textile book project. This is what I have done so far, I'll show you the pictures and then tell you my thoughts about each step.
I started by cutting out some calico pages and tacked a 1/4" hem around the raw edges, the design area inside the stitched lines is 6" x 4". I keep these in a zip lock bag in the box so that as I finish a page I have more ready to use. They are 'double pages' and I am working a different technique on each half. However once they are added to the book they will not end up next to each other. 

One of my favorite stitches is Chain Stitch and is the first stitch I learned as a child while being taught embroidery by my Granddad. 
I thought I would simply 'go for it' and stitch randomly but, discovered I can't stitch a straight line without some sort of 'guidelines' and didn't like what I had done. I thought it looked a bit messy however, I decided to leave it in, learn from the experiment and be more organised on future pages. I used 6 strand in various thickness's some variegated silk thread and some cotton perle No 8 from the 'spaghetti box'.

On the next page I traced some designs and worked Back Stitch and variations. I am much happier with this way of working, You can see Back Stitch (top Left, bottom right corners and centre.) Whipped back st, (forming the frame) and Pekinese st in the other 2 corners using various thickness's of 6 strand thread plus 6 strand and some Perle for the Pekinese stitch. I have lots of blank areas which I may decide to fill in later or not as the mood takes.

I am working randomly so next I decided on some Kantha after finding a nice little design of the Peace Dove and here it is, for this I have used another piece of calico on the back and one lenght of 6 strand throughout, the branch is worked in backstitch.

The other side of this page is 'Crazy' Patchwork, worked separately and appliqued on. I used assorted cottons, ribbon and in the bottom left corner is a little piece of sequined sparkly fabric (from a child's 'disco dress found in a charity shop) all hand embroidered with 6 strand cottons and various types of stitches. Looking at the picture here I spotted that I have not sewn in the technique so I will go back to it and add that in on one of the plain areas.

I am now working on my 3rd set of pages, this time I planned to put in a small Hexagon design but then realized once added I would have problems using my embroidery hoop so I drew the area where it would be added later (See Below) and decided on some Counted Cross Stitch which so far looks like this. I have tacked on a piece of waste canvas to make it easier to sew and as a reminder of my good friend Lisa I started with a Jo Verso design of Uncle Sam. Sadly Jo was killed in a tragic accident but I still have all her books from the time when I was doing cross-stitch commissions. 
Again I used 6 strand cotton from the 'spaghetti' box. The darker line in the centre is a piece of variegated silky ribbon which I have couched across the top with cross stitch, down the right side I used some Krenik sparkly thread in half cross stitch, I am still deciding what to do next - probably I'll look in my main embroidery books to find some cross stitch variations or use some different threads to fill the spaces. 

The last page I'll show you is the one prepared for the Hexagons, which will be appliqued on. The design area is drawn on with a Frixion pen so it will disappear when I press the fabric. I may decide to 'fill' the plain areas with some stitching after. .

As each page is finished I keep them in a zip lock bag to keep them safe and ready for the next part of the process. So that's it so far I hope I have explained it in a way you can understand. I must say that I am really enjoying the process so far. The small piece of Aida you can see in the bottom left corner is a piece of stitching done by Big Granddaughter when she was learning to sew, I may add it in on a later page, possibly with a piece of Small Granddaughters work (if she ever sits still long enough to do some :-)

Time to go Folks!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Boxes and Textile books

As I mentioned yesterday I have some boxes bought from a local store during a BOGOF offer (by one, get one free). They were so pretty I couldn't resist and bought 3 sets for storage in the sewing studio. They are stored on a small bookcase, and I have tried to co-ordinate the contents to the style of the box, so from the top they hold.. Embroidery, pre cut 1.5" strips (Log Cabin project), Sewing Threads, Hexagon projects, pre-cut scraps and Fabric Postcard projects. The other plastic boxes contain threads of one sort or another.

The topmost box is my embroidery box and at the moment it contains my Textile Book project. I first got the idea of making one from Pinterest, following a link to a blog called A Million Little Stitches, what I saw fired the old imagination so I just had to give it a try. I may have to write a couple of posts as my photography session earlier today has resulted in lots more pictures than I envisioned... This is the box

and the contents fit nicely so that everything is ready when I need a hand sewing project.

There are all the essential 'tools'.. a hoop, embroidery scissors and pin cushion

a Ruler, a bit bag, a pencil and Frixion pen

Fabric scissors, pins, thimble, a stitch reference book (an old one picked up for a few pence with nice clear diagrams)

These interesting little 'gismos' are some brass (I think) old embroidery templates, when I got them they were in a rather tattered paper bag on which was printed 'Kay's Practical Embroiderer' obtained from S Kaufman and an address in Manchester price 3/6d I looked it up on the web and THIS is what I found. I am going to try to use them at some point, here they are closed

and here they are open with 2 other shapes

There are of course some needles and threads

plus this little box, a screwdriver (for tightening the hoop) and my badge for when I attend the Craft Group) 

Being keen on using every thread scrap the plastic box contains lots of thread left from previous projects and kits etc. I like to refer to it as my thread 'spaghetti' :-)

Last but not least the little black book you can see in the 3rd picture is my 'inspiration/notebook', it has colouring pages which have led to lots of ideas, hence all the 'tagged' pages. In here I jot down ideas as they occur or while I am working, and use it to write down ideas for the textile book pages.

This Hare could be next!!!

Next time I will show you the completed fabric pages, with some of my thoughts about what I have done or plan to do, plus the ones that I am currently working on.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Another Day Dawns

Another lovely day with The Girls at Clock Tower Quilters, I was up early enjoying a cuppa and my bowl of porridge while trying to think about what I needed to take along to work on. 
With the workshop coming up it really should be the Boutis / Trapunto project I showed you yesterday (just realized that this is my 3rd post in 2 days - even I'm impressed!:-) but I reealy wanted to do some more to my textile book idea (See Post on June 28th 2016)  
While I have Sylvia Critcher's  book on loan I want to make a rather lovely needle-case featured in it, and plan to use it as a working sample for the workshop. I have some rather nice clover pink silk and some cheesecloth, so decision made I rounded up the fabrics and my work-bag (adding the embroidery box for good luck!) and off I went. After setting up the room and getting 'Ernie' on ready for hot drinks, I cut the fabrics and sorted through my embroidery threads and after a few 'false starts' found a rather nice rich purple for the stitching. 
During this time I developed a really bad headache which slowed me down somewhat. So I decided to put it all away, scrounged some painkillers and made a cup of tea - don't you agree tea makes everything better? 
A while later feeling brighter, out came the embroidery box (this is a sort of self contained 'kit' in a pretty box) and made some progress with a page of my textile book, I have not as yet taken any pictures of said textile book but in the morning when the light is better (it's 10.30 pm here!) I will rectify that for my next post.
Meanwhile here are some shots of some of our happy band.
Here is Carol working on her Mystery Quilt, this was a project I found in the Quilter's Guild Magazine some years ago and some of the girls made quilts from it during a group project over several months. Carol enjoyed it so much this is her 2nd one, which she admitted to starting some time ago and came across it recently 'hidden' in her stash so decided to do a bit more to it, completing the top today

Here are Lisa and Heather discussing the finer points, of I don't know what. Sadly both of these ladies will be leaving us this year, Lisa will be returning to the USA after 4 years living here and Heather is off to Australia for a year to establish if she will move there permanently to be near to her Son and his family, she has 2 lovely Grandchildren in Oz so understandable I guess.

These are the wonderful blocks in colourful Kaffe Fasset fabrics (her favourite) with Moda 'Grunge' borders. Heather is making this for herself,  Its a lot brighter than it looks here!

And last but not least is Julie with her lovely Christmas Wall-hanging completed today, all the Applique is hand stitched and the lace motifs in the corners are Belgian lace

On the way back from Quilters, 3 of us headed off to take down the SVQ exhibit in the town hall as the Art Showcase ended today, that done I went to visit some friends where there was a 7th birthday party for the one of the children. There followed a lovely Chinese takeaway meal followed by home made Sticky Toffee Pudding and cream (or ice cream) and 2 sorts of Cake! With 11 children in the family ranging in age from almost 18 down to a 1 year old and with invited adult friends it was a lovely if hectic end to another day.

Well I'll be back as soon as I can so...

Friday, 12 May 2017

Arts Trail and other stuff

Hello Again
Here I am back with the next lot of pictures to keep you entertained (hopefully :-))
Last Thursday saw 3 of us at the Town Hall to set up SVQ's exhibit for the Arts Festival Showcase. This is held in the Council Chamber, a beautiful room in a Georgian building which was formerly our Police Station and Courthouse (the Council Chamber was the court room) We are invited to take part every year and we are allowed the largest area for our work.
After much difficulty (and laughter) getting our stands to 'stand up' we finally had everything set up to our satisfaction. Here are the pictures, and our members have done us proud again!
This is our Banner, a group project made several years ago, involving 'colour wash 'techniques with white applique lettering and using tiny 1" fabric samples that used to be sent out by Fabric companies. It is made in 3 strips so that we can hang it however we want according to the space we have, either separately or to look like one piece as here.

Next a general view, showing the diversity of talent among our members.

2 beauties in Art Deco style, made by Amanda in her bright 'signature' colours, sadly my picture does not do justice to the vivid citrus greens and oranges.

Next a cheeky Christmas Robin with long dangly legs sitting atop a lovely quilt made by Sheila and long arm quilted by Laura of The Quilt Sanctuary and resting against 2 cushions, (from a design by Lynne Edwards) made by Heather (left) and Yours Truly during a recent in house workshop

Somewhere among the display is my 'Amish Homestead' Rework piece which I finished recently.

I have been knitting (as usual) and have almost finished a sweater for my soon to be Godchild Oscar. I need to sew it up having done the neck band today, so I'll show you next time. 
I finished another preemie blanket, same pattern as the lilac one from my post on May 1st with a little variation (on Row 6 I worked a purl row instead of a knit row) 

So what has been happening stitching wise? Well I find myself teaching a workshop at the next meeting. This is to be a Boutis/ Trapunto workshop and should have been led by 2 of the committee but due to a mix up in dates they are both going to be away so with a months notice I'm in the hot seat.
Here are some pictures to wet your appetite. This is Moira's piece begun at a workshop with Sylvia Critcher and finished at home using Sylvia's book

So for the last month I have been reading the book, making notes and working on my own sample so that at least one of us knows what they are doing, I have done some Boutis and Traounto before to make samples for my talk 'A  Trip around The World'. But I've never used them together, plus I am self taught and this was a different way of achieving the results. Here is my attempt so far which I have to say has been a lot easier (and I am just a little bit hooked with plans for some pink silk I have in the stash!) 
This is the front.

and the back.

and today I started the stuffing and cording.

I'm going to leave it at this point, so that they can see 'the workings'. I'll let you know how it goes in due course.

That's all for now I'm off to bed with some hot Chocolate and a good book. BLISS!!