Monday, 30 December 2013

Time to quilt

I quite like these few days between Christmas and the New Year when I can spend time at my sewing machine without feeling I should be preparing yet another massive feast. Actually a broken oven put paid to that any way! It is also good to have the opportunity to blow away the cobwebs and walk off some of the Christmas pudding which is what we did yesterday. It was a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky and we visited Clent Hills.

This is a favourite place of mine as I visited it often as a child. It is totally unspoilt and the views from the top of the hills are wonderful. Birmingham is only a few miles away which is difficult to believe when you are surrounded by such lovely countryside.

Today we woke to more heavy rain and strong winds which is not going to help the flooding situation in nearby Worcester. Once more the River Severn has broken it's banks creating more havoc for local businesses.

I have been busy quilting one of my pieces for Identity, the first exhibition of Art Textiles: Made in Britain which will can be seen at Festival of Quilts 2014.

This is a whole cloth quilt using one of my breakdown printed cloths using the numbers that relate to the houses I have lived in during my life. As you can see, there are few threads to sew in tonight but I'm sure there is something to watch on TV while I do this!
I have also finished piecing together my winter Four Seasons quilt using some rust and indigo dyed and printed fabrics. I'm looking forward to stitching this piece with a combination of machine and hand quilting.

So I have lots to keep me busy over the next few days although we will be finding time to celebrate the arrival of 2014 with our lovely neighbours.
I wish you all a happy, healthy and creative 2014 and thank you for taking time to read my ramblings!


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Dyeing results

It may be nearly Christmas but I have had a week at home so have indulged in a few things that I have not found time for during the last few weeks.
First of all I rinsed my printed fabric inspired by my visit to Matera in Southern Italy.

Having masked out the top section of the cloth using a profile of the hilltop town, I scraped a pale thickened dye over this lower section of the cloth. When it was dry I ironed the lower section of the freezer paper mask on to this dyed section and applied another slightly brighter dye to the top section. I wanted some colour on the background but only enough to take away the stark background.
Now it is rinsed I am ready to assemble it with wadding and backing so that I can add stitch to highlight this profile which is not as obvious as in the image above!

I am very mean with mixed dye so these fabrics are the result of mixing different combinations of the dyes described in my last post.

I really like the marks on the fabric achieved with rather over enthusiastic scraping of dye on to the cloth. The central and right hand cloth have a look of Log Cabin about them.

How about these lovely fabrics to brighten a dull December day? These are the result of a demonstration at a recent dyeing workshop I taught. Here I used turquoise, golden yellow and red brown dyes to create a rainbow effect. The red brown dye was not as potent as I had expected it to be but I love the subtle colours it produced.
As it's Christmas I have also enjoyed some time in the kitchen making ice cream, chocolate salame as demonstrated by Nigella Lawson in a recent TV programme and I was very pleased with this loaf of bread using a Paul Hollywood recipe.

I must admit it tasted as good as it looked!
We have also celebrated an early Christmas with the grandchildren as we won't all be together this year on Christmas day so the opening of a few presents was allowed!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a little time to do things you enjoy too!

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Where does the time go?

Since last we spoke I have spent a fabulous 10 days in Italy at Masseria della Zingara working on new ideas and developing older cloths. It is such a luxury to spend all day being creative without having to worry about the normal everyday routines.
The highlight of my time in Puglia was a trip to the hillside town of Matera. The town is known for its sassi, stone houses which have been carved out of the hillside. The old town is gradually being restored but is still a photographer's dream with every few steps revealing yet another unexpected vista.

Matera made such an impression on me that the following day I printed a cloth inspired by my visit.  I responded to my photographs by producing this silk screen using torn strips of masking tape.

I then printed my fabric using this palette of thickened Procion dyes,

with a 'squirt' of acid yellow dye added to each of the nine mixed dyes.

When the yellow dye was well mixed in I set about printing, beginning with the palest colours

until I had used all nine colours.

Since returning home I have dyed the background but have not yet rinsed the fabric. Once I have done that I will post the result - which I hope has worked!
There is lots more 'work in progress' happening here so I will post again soon.

Thanks for visiting,


Sunday, 27 October 2013

Autumn, rust and indigo

I have spent two creative days with  Ineke on her Four Seasons course over the last two months. As would be expected we have worked with autumn colours, our own interpretation of course, and leaves.
I had already dyed a lovely range of fabrics as a demonstration during one of my own dyeing workshops so was very happy to start playing with simple patchwork techniques and these scummy fabrics.

Actually the fabrics are more subdued than in the photo!
Next I will be printing over the top using some lovely leaf screens I have had made from prints using leaves.
Last month we experimented with vinegar soaked cloth with added steel wool and tea (the best thing to do with tea - I'm a coffee drinker and loathe tea!). We also used some iron powder thickened with manutex paste to print leaves. These turned out really well even before dunking in an indigo vat this month.


I also clamped circles onto another rust dyed fabric before adding it to the indigo dye.

Love this!

We also dipped leaves into the indigo dye and carefully printed them onto fabric.

So delicate.

Now to some stitching

We have very strong winds forecast later today so it will be a good time to relax indoors with a little hand stitching. I am working on a ' slow cloth' inspired by Jude Hill's Spirit Cloth.

I am using a well washed linen napkin as a base with a variety of other fabrics appliquéd to the surface. The marks I am making are my response to a challenge I set at the last meeting of the Midlands Stitch in the Middle CQ group. Everyone made their mark on a large piece of paper that I then tore up and gave a section to every member present with the challenge of responding to it in what ever way they wanted. We meet again tomorrow so it will be interesting to see what everyone has produced.
This is my section of the paper.

Thank you for reading and speak again soon.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A few days in the sun

A friend and I were lucky enough to spend a few days in southern Spain last week visiting another old friend we taught with in the 70's. It was great to catch up as it was 12 years since we last all met up. She has a beautiful second floor apartment in Estepona with fabulous views from her roof terrace across to the mountains in the north

and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

Estepona is a pretty white walled Spanish town with long stretches of beautiful sandy beaches, a busy marina and a working fishing port which provides a wide variety of fish for the many restaurants and tapas bars in the area.

The narrow streets of the old town are filled with colourful flowers and each street has different coloured flower pots attached to the walls. This is red flower pot street!

In other areas of the town artists have painted amazing tromp d'oeil such as this on to otherwise plain buildings. The colours of this particular one were so vibrant.
We also visited Marbella, another fascinating town filled with beautiful white walled buildings in the old town and a collection of Salvador Dali sculptures leading down to the sea.

Of course a little eating and drinking took place over the course of our stay and this fine fellow tasted delicious once it was cooked in a salt wrap.

There was also time to sit and relax by the sea and soak up a few October rays.

Back home now and catching up with a few gardening chores which include planting daffodil bulbs which will hopefully provide a splash of colour next spring.
Thanks for visiting, speak to you soon.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Ready to start again

Perhaps it's the weather, which has turned decidedly chilly over the last few days, that has inspired me to get going again after a few weeks when all I managed creatively was a few rows of knitting. Not that I have anything against knitting, I love it!

The yarn I am using is Shibui 100% linen. The top is knitted from the centre front to the centre back and as it is only the two front sections that have the lacy pattern, in reality it shouldn't take too long to knit. I'll keep you posted!
I spent a couple of days last week working on a new theme which involves numbers. In fact the numbers refer to the house numbers where I have lived.
I decided to do some breakdown printing which is a great way of producing some large pieces of printed cloth. I made three separate screens using large plastic number shapes on one and piped thickened dye on the other two. The larger piped numbers worked well and the numbers were still identifiable but on the other screen I tried piping smaller numbers and they didn't hold their shape but produced some interesting hieroglyphics when printed on to cloth.

This is the cloth using the plastic numbers. Here it is still wet and on the print bench.

I introduced some colour into my second cloth and used both of the piped thickened dye screens. I decided upon the turquoise dye for the more distinctive screen and black for the other screen. I like the way the black dye from the numbers dirties the bright blue.

There was a little dye remaining on the one screen so I continued to work with it and more turquoise dye to produce the ghostly marks on the fabric at the back of the photo. The fabric in the foreground is the result of printing with a Thermofax screen I made using a printed page from my sketchbook. I started printing with a pale turquoise and gradually darkened it with the addition of tiny amounts of black dye.
So what's next? I'm now at the mulling over stage but I know that each of these fabrics need developing so I will pin them up on my design wall and stare at them for a while.
I have also worked on a sample for a new workshop that I will be teaching at The Bramble Patch and Coles Sewing Centre in November. The workshop is Wholecloth Machine Quilted Nine Patch and I have taken a traditional nine patch design, in this case Churn Dash, and used it to provide the basic structure of the design. The lines are not meant to be straight just in case you think I can't stitch in straight lines!

So if you feel you would like to develop your machine quilting skills do get in touch with the shops to book a place.
That's all for now so thank you for visiting and I'll be back soon.


Thursday, 8 August 2013

See you at Festival?

It's been all stitching and teaching but no blogging for the last few weeks but at least I have met those deadlines. The latest deadline being Festival of Quilts which opens today at the NEC in Birmingham.
Yesterday I was helping to set up the Mettler thread stand, E40, where Catherine and I will be demonstrating and teaching machine quilting workshops over the next four days so do come by and see  what we are up to.
We each have our own gallery this year, courtesy of Mettler and I managed to take a few quick photos of my quilts at the end of the day even though the lighting was not at its best!

From what I saw of the show yesterday ( mainly on a few loo trips!) there is some exciting work on show so I'm sure those who are visiting will be inspired.

Hope to see you soon.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Hundreds of miles...

Well that is what it feels like this week! After a trip to Llanidloes to deliver the quilts for the Summer Exhibition at Minerva, two days teaching at The Bramble Patch and a day stewarding at Weavers Gallery in Ledbury I feel ready to put my feet up but I'm off on an adventure at the weekend so watch this space to see where I'm going!

I always intend to blog frequently but I run out of time so this is a bit of a catch up blog to show what I have been up to over the last few weeks.

Back in mid June we had a family wedding. Chris's daughter Elspeth married Doug. We all had a great day and the sun managed to shine at the appropriate time.

The following weekend was my students exhibition and here are a few images to show some of the exciting work that was exhibited. We had lots of visitors who obviously enjoyed the show, if their comments were anything to go by! I am very lucky to have such enthusiastic students who always come up trumps.

This week The Beauty of Books exhibition opened at the Weavers Gallery in Ledbury to coincide with the annual Poetry Festival. A diverse collection of work is on show until 14th July which includes wallhangings, books, cushions, framed textiles, bags and scarves.

This is my black and white book inspired by the 'Create' list of inspirational words. It went through several changes of direction before it was eventually assembled as four double-sided zig-zag pages.

I even managed to have a day out with the family at the Cotswold Wild Life Park...

...a fun time was had by all.

Thanks for reading and speak to you soon.