Saturday, 31 December 2011

Just in time

I set myself the target of completing all twelve of my journal quilts for 2011 by the end of the year and I finished the last one today. I am feeling quite smug as the deadline is the end of January so for once I am ahead of the game! Maybe this is a good omen for 2012?
I have enjoyed the challenge of working with two shirts and incorporating buttons into each of the pieces.
For this quilt I utilised dissembled sections of collars which I appliquéd to the background which is quilted with the words blue collar worker and white collar worker.
I turned next to the cuffs of the shirts and appliquéd them to a background which was this time quilted with the words on the cuff and off the cuff.
The final quilt is made from pieces of fabric cut from different parts of the shirts. Some I have buttoned together and others have been appliquéd. I have also included labels to complete the effect.
I'm afraid the photographs were taken in poor light, another typical December day.
With only a few hours left of 2011 (and only half an hour to get into my party clothes for our neighbourhood New Year's Eve party!), I am sitting at my computer wondering what the new year will bring. Like many I am reluctant to make resolutions as I am fairly sure they will be broken but there are exciting  exhibitions to plan for and new ventures to pursue so I know that I will have plenty to share with you in 2012. Making time each day for my own creativity would be a very positive aim so with that in mind I would like to wish you all a happy, healthy and creative 2012 and thank you for reading.
Speak to you soon

Thursday, 22 December 2011

All ready for Santa

I'm sure my two grandsons will be pleased that Santa has some larger stockings to fill with presents this year.
Needless to say they won't be hung from the bay tree on Christmas Eve but it was such a lovely morning that I decided to photograph them outside.
On a bright day the light is wonderful at this time of the year. I took this next photograph last week just as the sun was setting and the sunlight was colouring the tops of the trees.
And how about this for a rainbow?
Behind us the sky was bright blue but as we drove out of Worcester it started to rain - I'm afraid we didn't find the crock of gold!
The result of the mysterious knitting is now revealed....
It's funny, but no one wants to go out for a walk with me if I'm wearing my beautifully warm hat - I can't imagine why!
Please note the link to the recently created Six and Friends blog where you can follow the progress of some of the work that is being made for our first exhibition in Redditch next September.
Now all that is left for me to do is wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and creative 2012. Thank you for following my musings over the last year and I look forward to sharing more work in progress with you soon.
All for now

Monday, 12 December 2011

Making progress

It may be slow progress but at least it's progress! I have actually completed October's journal quilt which if you remember is constructed from two cut up shirts.
I simply buttoned two sections together and quilted each in a different direction. I decided to use a lot of button related phrases to quilt the backgrounds so button up, press the button, media button, button box, chocolate button, on the button were just a few that I used to create a nicely textured background.
So I'm only a month and a half behind! Now I'm deconstructing shirt collars for November's quilt. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to use them yet but I expect I will have another of those 3 o'clock in the morning moments when an idea will come to me and hopefully won't be forgotten in the morning.
The mystery knitting project is complete but as I've only finished it tonight I don't have an image to show you but this was how it looked before completion.
All will be revealed soon!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

End of term

Yesterday was the last day of term for the students on my Textile Inspirations course and it has become a very enjoyable tradition that we have a shared lunch.
As you can see, a good time was had by all. On the menu was butternut squash soup, lots of cheese, homemade bread, veg and dips plus yummy puddings.
Everyone was very quiet after lunch but continued to work on the day's challenge.
The challenge was to take the same motif that had inspired some Kantha stitching, which had been ongoing, and use decorative machine stitches to produce a new piece of work. I suggested either black thread on white fabric or vice versa. As you can see there are the beginnings of some lovely work.

I look forward to seeing how these all progress over the Christmas holidays - probably very slowly!
Speak to you soon

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Knitting again

A few weeks ago I talked about my trip to an alpaca farm where I made a couple of little felted boots in a workshop. Well I haven't managed to make any more boots but I have started to knit with the beautiful alpaca wool that I bought in the shop. Now the question is - what do you think I am making?
Answers on a postcard!!!
Speak to you soon

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Exciting news!

As many of you may know a group of us are working towards an exhibition inspired by the Orient that will first be displayed in September 2012 at The Needle Museum in Redditch, Worcestershire. The artists making up the group 'Six and Friends' are Hilary Beattie, Ineke Berlyn, Laura Kemshall, Linda Kemshall, Catherine Nicholls, Annabel Rainbow, Stephanie Redfern, Marie Roper and myself and today we launched a new blog so that all of our followers can keep up to date with the progress we are making.
If you would like to take a look then follow the link
I have had a few thoughts about how I might develop this theme and last week I made an indigo vat and dyed some gorgeous cotton organdie and some linen.
This is the piece of organdie straight out of the vat and resting on the lawn.
The cotton organdie has taken the dye beautifully and I love the crisp feel of the fabric to stitch.
I have actually started stitching, experimenting with the Korean technique of bojagi or pojagi.
A pojagi is a Korean wrapping cloth that is usually hand pieced from scraps of fabric. Having searched the internet for information I discovered many pieces that were made from sheer fabrics so that the seams played an important part in the design. I rather like this idea so here is my first attempt.
The pieces are joined together with a run and fell seam which took me straight back to my needlework lessons at school. There is probably a seam like this in my cookery apron that took a year to make, I must look and see!
Those of you who visited Festival of Quilts in Birmingham a few years ago may remember a beautiful exhibition of work made in this way.
I have also started to think about the last four journal quilts that I need to design and make. They each have to have at least one button on them so keeping with my stripy theme I am going to use these two stripy shirts that I have been given.

Now if I remember correctly quilts made from sections of clothing are called Waggas in Australia. I'm looking forward to the challenge.
All for now

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Printing with screens

Yesterday I taught a screen printing workshop to a group of students from Staffordshire Embroiderers' Guild. It was such fun as everyone experimented with the simple techniques I demonstrated and they produced some exciting fabrics. They mainly used freezer paper stencils which were ironed on to silk screens or simple newspaper masks although there were some great results with grassy seed heads.

Here you can see the seed head on the screen and the resulting print. The seed head was placed on the fabric and the blank screen was placed over the top of it before thickened Procion dye was pulled through the screen. As you can see Jo produced some good prints.
Wendy used simple stencils to add these staggered trees to her blank screen printed background.
This was Debbie's first sample using a masked off shape on her silk screen. She gradually changed the colour of the dye to produce this lovely background.
Eleanor was inspired by a trip to India and made a stencil from freezer paper of this wonderful design. She produced several fabrics of different colour ways which she intends to embroider.
Hope you have had a productive weekend.
Speak to you soon

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Two socks complete!

It may have taken me four years to knit one sock but now I'm in the zone the second sock took less than two weeks!
Of course today is warm and sunny, who would believe it's mid-November, so I don't really need to wear them but I couldn't resist trying them on. They are so soft and warm, I think I could be making more quite soon.
On Friday my friend Sue and I took part in a workshop at Toft Alpacas

We were making felted reindeer boots for an advent calendar using alpaca fleece, some of which came from the 220 alpaca herd that is kept at the farm.

Our day started with a walk around the farm to see the various groups of alpaca. Linda looks after the herd and was a wealth of information. She knew each one's name, which was a combination of their father and mother's name and they obviously knew her very well as they all came running to see her.
They each seemed to have an extreme hair style which gave them character. I loved this one.
It was a chilly misty morning and all of us were glad to be back in the warm and eager to get on with our felted boots. Most of us managed two boots so I think it is unlikely I shall be making another 22 before the 1st December so maybe I will embellish each of these with a J for James and a T for Ted so that my grandsons can have one each for the Christmas tree.
Aren't they cute?
There was lots of tempting alpaca related goodies for sale in the shop as the fleece from the alpacas is spun locally into wool so not only was there wool for sale but also clothing, bags, hats and scarves all in natural colours. Gorgeous! Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area (Dunchurch, Warwickshire) and you are looking for a present with a difference.

I was tempted, of course, and bought some wool to make a hat to keep my ears warm on winter walks. I wonder if you can guess which one it will be!
Enjoy the rest of the weekend,

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Top finished!

I seem to have been very slow of late to finish anything so I was determined to complete the top of my latest Cut and Come Again quilt. This is my Spring version of the technique, just Autumn to make now (which I will probably complete in the Spring!)
This time I have pieced four blocks together and sashed them together. I'm not convinced that I want the border to be this wide but decided that I could always cut it down later. I still think I might hand quilt this as I quite fancy having a winter project for the long dark evenings.
Apologies for the poor photograph but it is another miserable November morning and the light is awful.
Fortunately when we took a trip to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire at the weekend the sun was shining and the Autumn colours were gorgeous.
I couldn't resist these ferns as they are so typical of the colours in the countryside at this time of the year.
This is the result of the dripping medlar mush that I spoke of in my last blog.
Two jars of delicious medlar jelly! Apparently this can be eaten with lamb or venison or stirred into yogurt or just eaten with bread. Who would have thought that something so brown and mushy could turn into a sparkling jelly.
Speak to you soon,

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Jelly, socks and more!

Back in the summer I posted about a tree with interesting fruit growing on it . It was in fact a medlar and this week one of my students brought me a bag of these fruit that she had picked plus a recipe to make medlar jelly.
These are the ripe fruit ready to have their husks trimmed off and then quartered before cooking with apples to make a rather unappetising mush. This mush is now dripping into a bowl and will be left overnight. Tomorrow I will add sugar and eventually I have a tasty jelly, so I am led to believe! I will keep you posted.
I rather misleadingly said 'socks' in this blog title. Really it should have read 'sock' as after about 4 years I have completed one knitted sock!
The challenge now is to complete another one to match! I am knitting the leg section which is the easy part but next comes the turned heel. I'm sure there are easier methods but I managed it for sock one so sock two should be simple but there again, it was a few years ago!
You may wonder why I am knitting socks - there are two reasons, firstly they are lovely to wear and secondly, I just love sock yarns.
Look at the gorgeous variety of colours in this close up of the sock above. Hopefully I will complete the second sock and have the joy of wearing them before this winter is out!
As well as knitting I have found a little time to work on my latest Cut and Come Again quilt. I have pieced the blocks together as a four patch and I am now stitching a narrow sashing in-between each four patch. I tried to keep with pale colours but couldn't resist this deep aubergine for the sashing as I felt it complemented the soft colours so well.
Now I must go and check on my dripping medlars.
Speak to you soon

Friday, 28 October 2011

Party, party, party!

Well it was my 60th birthday last week so it has been a good excuse to make the celebrations last ten days! I think life is gradually returning to normal so hopefully I will get back to working on journal quilts and planning for an exciting exhibition of new work for next September. I have some ideas brewing but nothing definite yet - some of my indigo fabric collection may be involved though.
This week has been all about food. Yesterday I was looking after my grandsons and as it rained all day  we stayed home and made some spider biscuits with Halloween in mind.
Earlier in the week a group of us visited 78 Derngate in Northampton.
We had an extremely good guide who brought the house to life with her informative description of how the Bassett-Lowke family would have lived at the beginning of the last century in this extraordinary building.
The black and white house is the back of 78 Derngate and Charles Rennie Mackintosh's distinctive style of design can be seen in the balcony and windows. Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside the house where bold designs and colour schemes prevailed. I couldn't resist a photograph of one of the leaves that were scattered over a wall in the shop foyer.
The leaf was proud of the wall with the reflection of it behind.
And just in case you had forgotten I was celebrating a birthday, here is another birthday cake !
Have a great weekend

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Catching up

I'm sorry it has been such a long time since I blogged but I have had a lot of teaching commitments over the last couple of weeks. Just to prove that I have been out and about, here are a few photos of me in action!
Here I am at Llanidloes talking about my Memories Quilt which was inspired by photographs I took on my first trip to Vancouver and Seattle.
I always encourage everyone to come and take a closer look at my quilts and ask questions after the talk.
This next photograph was taken at a Pleat, Tuck and Fray workshop in Abingdon, a town I know well as I lived there for quite a number of years.
Here are some of the results of the workshop.
There was lots of slashing and blooming and experimenting with different fabrics and colour combinations.
Abbey Quilters had made this gorgeous quilt to raffle at an exhibition on 21 and 22 April 2012. 
If you would like an opportunity to win this quilt you can buy tickets for the raffle from Judy Harris at
Yesterday my Textile Inspirations group were having fun drawing outside using all kinds of implements including brushes and sponges attached to sticks.  
It will be interesting to see what happens to these drawings next - I will keep you posted!
This was my attempt, inspired by a special vase. I made the marks using a sponge cloth wrapped and tied around the end of a stick. Great fun!
Speak to you soon - I promise!