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