Thursday, August 30, 2007

Loadsa faces

This morning, the guys took the littles to a soft-play place, and Cathi and I and my girls made faces (many jokes were already made about my girls making faces at one another...). And here are the results! Mine are the columns on the right, Sarah's are the two lines down the centre, Olivia's are top left and Cathi's are bottom left. I then made a couple of cards using a few of the faces. I definitely am going to order some different moulds, too. In fact, I'm going to do it right after I finish blogging!

After lunch, the big girls and the daddies went golfing (pitch & putt) and the littles stayed here with us to do dressing up and stuff like that. Cathi and I split up the lovely purple Civil War Repro fabric and pulled bits out of her CW repro collection that might work as well. We have decided to swap Dear Jane blocks in a 6" size - this is great for me, as I really like some of the DJ blocks, but have no real desire to do a whole quilt of them and Cathi is a big DJ fan already (check out her DJ quilt here - fab, isn't it?). With 6 inch blocks, I imagine I'll be able to satisfy my urge to make a good quantity of DJ blocks without a) making the ones I really don't want to and b) ending up with a huge huge quilt. I think I may end up with a lap quilt or something like that. Anyway, it will be fun - we are stealing the idea of a private swap from Karol Ann, with whom I am swapping African blocks - and basically going to do the same thing - swap more or less once a month, depending on schedules, with no pressure and no deadlines. We'll each make 2 identical blocks, keep one for ourselves and send the other. Fun.

A few historic quilty bits

Today's cultural activity was a trip to Bunratty Folk Park & Castle - I took lots of photos, but there were a few nice examples of textiles and sewing related things, so I thought I'd share them here.

This coverlet was heavily embroidered, maybe some stumpwork - I couldn't get very close to it, so it was hard to tell just how it was done. But it was pretty.

This little sewing and spinning room was in the castle - just a little alcove with a window, tucked away in a corner.

And this machine was in a bedroom in one of the houses or cottages. There was also a machine in one of the main rooms in the big Georgian house there - I didn't take a photo, as it was way across the room, but I did notice it was there...

And finally, this was on the bed in the bedroom in a Byre Cottage - that's the kind where the cows live inside, in part of the main room (really). Luckily, they can't easily cross the little ditch and get into the bedroom and eat the quilt...

And there you are - a few quilt & sewing related snaps for you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tuesday night quilt group, even here!

Well, some photos of things I have been doing. Worked on the beaded doll watching telly last night and a few other times when I haven't actually blogged it - finished the front, and decided I would also do the back (I hadn't been sure before), so now I will begin showing photos of the back, when I get some more beads on it.

And I quilted the little retro quilt. Tonight Cathi and I went to her quilt group meeting - nice coincidence to have it the week I am here, don't you think? Anyway, met a bunch of nice ladies, doing interesting and varied work, and managed to quilt this - echo quilting in the blocks and free motion in the centre and borders. Detail below. Not perfect, but it works. Border to come, but not sure in what fabric.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mine, all mine!

Here's my newest acquisition - this totally cool felted basket with a moebious handle, which Cathi made a while back. I kept admiring it, and she decided to give it to me [note to self: try this technique in, say, the Tate, in front of the big Monet waterlily painting, LOL]

To be fair, she had already promised to make me another one, so I did know I'd get a felted bowl at some point (and I was looking forward to it), but in the end, she decided that as this is already my favourite colour, and it was here and I was here, I could have this one. How cool is that? answer: very cool, of course.

Anyway. I love it. You can see it on Cathi's blog here - and watch for future felted things, too. I'd have loved to have some funky felted slippers, but unfortunately, I can't wear wool, so that's a no go. But I am very very happy with my bowl (and now I will definitely have to leave my funky retro miniquilt with Cathi - perhaps that was her intention all along!)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happy Blogversary to me...and you

Well, I know I said I was going to post the results of the draw tonight, but we couldn't wait. The kiddies helped us draw the names, and here are the results. I will also try to email you personally if your name was drawn, but in a few cases I don't have your email, so I do hope you will check back in. Please send me your snail mail address if I don't have access to it, or if you
aren't sure. I will probably post off most of the cards from Ireland while we are here, so they shouldn't be too long coming to you.

So, without further ado, the winners are (in the order drawn):

  1. Ann
  2. Teresa
  3. Vicki W
  4. Wil
  5. Anne B
  6. Jane
  7. Shelina
  8. Lynda
  9. Myra
  10. TottyJo
  11. Dawn
  12. Helen
  13. Caroline
  14. LisaJo
  15. Jan J

So sorry to those of you we didn't draw - but thanks for commenting anyway, and I hope you'll keep coming back - and look out for my new weekly contests starting in September...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Retro miniquilt

So, here's where those retro rectangles wanted to go. Funky, eh? The whole thing is about 24x26 inches or something like that - not real big. And you can't tell this in the photo, but the tiny blue border is actually a little flange, not a border. We only had a tiny bit of the blue or I might have used more. When I say "we" in this instance, I of course mean Cathi, as I am raiding her stash for this work. I feel less guilty about this than I might a)because she said I could, b)because I am leaving a bunch of my purple Civil War Repro fabric with her and c)because I might give her this mini quilt anyway.

Not sure how it will be quilted yet - perhaps just echoes of the curves in the small blocks and something funky in the border. That's a job for another day. But not tomorrow as we will probably spend the entire day out with the kids &DHs somewhere doing touristy things.

Tomorrow, however, is the blogversary draw! So unless we get back really really late, I'll post the winners tomorrow night. Yeehah. I might even mail the postcards from Ireland - I did cleverly remember to bring them with me. :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Retro rectangles

Well, even when away from home, I can't keep from doing stuff - especially when I am visiting a quilty friend who understands my needs :)

Today I went through a couple of Cathi's stash boxes and pulled out some bits I liked the look of - and just started cutting sort of randomly. These are little pieces - the rectangles are about 3.5x4.5 now. Not sure what I am going to do with them next, some sort of sashing perhaps? The aim eventually will be a small quilt, possibly with faces, possibly not. Anyway, that will be a decision for tomorrow or another day. And what will I do with it? Well, that's not really important, is it...

Mum's faces

Hey, another post! But I forgot that I had this photo in my email - these are some faces that my mother made - she was in Joann's (my mum lives in the US) and saw some Fimo and moulds, and decided to have a go. As she's a potter, she intends to try the mould with firing clay too, to see what happens, but I have no reports as to whether that will work or not yet. Anyway, these are fairly cool, although (and she agrees) these faces are a little more realistic than is ideal for me.

Made it!

Well, here I am in Ireland at Cathi's house. Nothing really quilty yet to report, except I see that Cathi has posted the photo from the Festival of Quilts that I mentioned the other day... The photo shows Barbara, Olivia and Sarah (with me behind) and Sherry. More to report later, I'm sure!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sunset, sunset

Just two things to show today - the start of another little piece which will have faces on it in some manner - like the blue sunprint, only different. I am trying to quilt this piece to look a little like flames - easier said than done!

And on the right, a dual purpose card - this card is the prototype for a series of sunset cards for BQLPC coming up in a few weeks, but also, it's for the August Challenge (Slash and Burn) on Arts in the Mail - I used burned Angelina film on the card - hard to see in the photo, but it's there, with lovely crinkles and holes in it. I tried to burn/melt lutradur, but although I can cut through it with my soldering iron, the regular iron isn't hot enough to melt it - I think you really need a heat tool. Oh well. It's still fun, even if I can't melt it.

Just a reminder to everyone - I will be on holiday in Ireland from tomorrow (actually, tomorrow will be mostly driving and sailing), but I will be checking in regularly (if not daily) and will do the blogversary draw on the 26th, with Cathi to help. The only thing I won't be able to do is report on post received, so if you are in a swap with me and don't see that I've received your card, don't worry, I'll acknowledge them all after I get back (2nd Sept).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Other things accomplished today...

I is for...Igloo - you saw these in an earlier stage - today I just put the backs on, edged them, and added some snowflakes. I might post them tomorrow, otherwise, not until I get back from Ireland, but they aren't due out until mid-Sept anyway. They were fun - and good machine quilting practice.

And I worked on some complex cloth pieces - these are the before pictures - I have soaked the pieces in soda ash solution, and left them slightly damp as my intention was to screenprint with thickened ProcionMX dyes, and as dyes have more of a tendency to spread than screen print inks, I thought that keeping the fabric damp might help to minimise that.

Here's the photo of the pieces after I've done the screenprinting, before they have been batched, rinsed or dried - I included these because I always find that there's a moment of eek! when you think you have really overwhelmed the fabric, but of course, it's always lighter than this in the finished product - vis a vis:

see, not overpowering at all - just right, in fact. Whew! Both designs were screenprinted with thickened dye, using sticky-back plastic (contact paper) on the screen - the left one is just small squares, strips, rectangles, etc; the one on the right had a couple of motifs cut out from the plastic and then repeated across the fabric. I am pleased with both of them, and will be glad to send them on in the morning to the next person to work on them.

Creative process

I promise not to do this to you very often, but for once, I actually remembered to take photos of a project as I went along, in lots of stages - I think it's interesting to see hoe we think about things, and choose what direction to take, and today, as I was working on something with no advance plan, I thought it would be a good opportunity to document it.

Above is the sort of finished top - as you will see below, there will be some embellishments added once it's been quilted, but here's where I'm stopped for the moment. But, how did I get to this point? Well... A friend of ours is getting married in October, so Geoff and I thought - wallhanging. I started thinking about what I might have already hanging around which could be a starting point, and remembered the shoebox full of black and batik blocks in 18" and 9" sizes. Surely something in there might be a nice jumping off point?

And sure enough, I found this block. Resisting the temptation to take it apart to fix the seams that don't quite meet (which would defeat in part the purpose of using I block I already had), I scrounged around for batik fabric which coordinated with the block - as I didn't make the block in the first place (it was from a swap) I didn't have precisely the same batiks, but close enough.

Next order of business was to put a black border around the starting block. Again, resisting my normal temptation to arrange things symmetrically, I put different widths around the different sides. Then, a simple row of squares, batik and black down the right hand side. What next? Some more black, don't you think?

Yes, more black. Except, with the really wide border at the bottom it now looks a bit odd. It needs something in that space. I didn't photograph some of my failed attemps - first thought it might want circles (luckily, it didn't), then did some squares on their sides, but not aligned - didn't like that look either, looked unbalanced to me. So I decided that there is a time and place for symmetry, and this row at the bottom wanted to be symmetrical. And - stroke of inspiration! - added one of the squares/diamonds to the centre of the main block - and wow! what a difference that made.

So then, as I was standing there thinking about it, it suddenly occurred to me that what the piece wanted was some embellishments on top of the squares and diamonds. And what's my current favourite embellishment? You guessed it -
Faces. Of course, I didn't have the right sort of faces in stock, so them ones on the left are just there to see if it would work (it does) - so I appliqued the squares down (invisible thread using blind hem stitch) and later this afternoon, made some more faces in the right sort of colours. Which will be duly added to the top once it's been quilted.
How to quilt it? I don't know, that's the next thing to think about. Some sort of meander in the black, I think, but not really sure what I will do in the squares and stars - perhaps just simple outline quilting in the major pieces - it's got large enough pieces for that. Anyway, that's a project for another day.
So, there you have it - a glimpse into how my mind works (or not) - I did lots more stuff today as the kids were having one of those lovely days where the didn't argue and just played with each other all day without needing my input - so I will blog the postcards which I finished (I is for...) and the dyeing I did, a bit later.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sunprint idea - realised!

Well, I did it. Decided to take my idea of using the sunprint piece as a background for something small but interesting, and went with it (I am trying to be a bit braver and just go for it when I have an idea, instead of analysing it to death and/or putting it aside for when I "am better at X"). First I heavily quilted the sunprint using a pale blue thread, then I added the centre - a black rectangle with a blue rectangle and a face, with some yarn as hair (technically, I planned the centre before I did the quilting of the background, but in terms of actually putting it together...) And there it is! A detail of the quilting is below. I won't say it's perfect, but it works fairly well. Only the binding left, which I'll do later, either black or navy, most likely. I'm very happy with it - now I just have to find a place to hang it (well, I have to add a sleeve, too, so finding a hanging place is not a matter of huge urgency...)

Another thing I did with my little faces today was to take the little inchies I made the other day and frame them on a fabric background - this is just a little cheap Ikea frame and I've wrapped the fabric around the glass, then added the faces on top - I couldn't have used the glass at the front anyway, as they aren't flat. I think it works well; as I'm sending it to a friend, hopefully she will think so, too.

Didn't appear to get any actual post today, but I did have a trip to the sorting office to collect two things they couldn't deliver while I was away at my MIL's - one was this calendar I ordered (I need my next year's calendar by about September - too many things to keep track of, even that far in advance!) - if you want to see the photos of the pieces on the calendar, check out the Quilting Arts website. The other parcel was from Annie, who swapped me for all my spare batik HST units. I'll tell you who got the better of this deal (!) - look at all the lovely lovely things she sent me - funky yarn, lutradur, some flip flops and printed twill tape, an amazing piece of I'm not sure what, printed with bright hearts and other shapes and a huge baggie of different colours of eyelash yarn (I had mentioned I on a list we are both on that I don't buy a lot of colours because it seems extravagent for just postcard edging - she apparently has a huge collection :) and said one of her local shops has some on sale at just $1 per skein - at that price, I'd have a huge collection, too. Even at £1 per skein, frankly! Anyway. Have I gone on and on recently about how much I like bloggers and how generous people are? I'll spare you that whole speil, as I'm sure you've read it before, but can I just say, see what I mean?

For once, I actually planned things well, because I was going to finish off these contrast postcards this morning, using black and white satin stitching, but decided to wait and do them this afternoon after I did my errands (including collecting my parcels). I'm glad I did, as there was this multi-coloured eyelash in Ann's parcel, which was perfect as a card edging. I'm still not completely convinced about these cards, but they are in the post now, and will have to do...

And finally, the other thing I did today was to make a few blocks for the August Block Lotto on - I didn't make anything for July, as I was just way too busy (and it wasn't my favourite kind of quick block, though I would have done some anyway, if it hadn't been July). Anyway, these are Oriental Attic Windows - an oriental print in the centre, with a selftone to one side and black at the bottom. I think they are quite pretty, and whoever wins them will have a very nice quilt....

Blogversary draw update and note to Peggy in Quebec

As promised, a quick blogversary draw update - three new commentors while I was away - Teresa, Jan J and Karen in Denmark, who sent an email rather than commented, but as it was about my blog, it counts anyway. That brings the total so far up to 36.

And a note to Peggy in Quebec, who leaves great comments on my blog, but whose email address doesn't show, unfortunately, so I either have to leave a comment on her blog or answer her here (Peggy, if you send me an email at katelnorth at yahoo dot com, I will be able to answer/respond to your comments directly!). Anyway. Peggy recommended this interesting site for those interested in spirit dolls - do go check it out if you like that sort of thing... And also, yes, the little faces are from the plastic mould I bought recently - several folks have suggested cooking spray; I did try that when they started sticking (great minds!) but not sure it helped much. Next time, I'll try cornstarch or baby powder, which I understand are also recommended.

More later on what I've been up to (lots to show today) but I've got to go out to the post office before it shuts.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Festival of Quilts...

Well, as usual, I forgot to take lots of phots at a quilt show - I took a few, but you may know how it is - you get distracted by other things - too many people by a quilt, where the kids have got to now, going closer to get a better view, trying to work out who the quilt is by (FoQ labels them with a number and where the artist is from, you have to have the catalogue to figure out who made the quilt - I understand why they do this, so that people evaluate the quilt on its own merits rather than looking for famous names; I also know I am not alone in finding it completely ****ing annoying - when I see a quilt I like, I want to know who made it, and if I'm carrying a number of bags of shopping, and my camera, and possibly holding on to a child, the last thing I need is to have to have the show catalogue out to flip to the number to work out who made it. Grrr. But I digress. As usual.)

This photo is of a quilt that I had forgotten was going to the FoQ, and only happened across by chance - I stopped to talk to a friend who I ran into, and as I glanced up from where I was standing, there it was. This quilt was made by my friend Lana (the Longarmer - I'm sure I've mentioned her before) and I personally dyed all the fabric in it (except possibly the back - can't remember what's on the back). So that was fun and fortuitous. Otherwise, there are only a handful of photos from the show, so I'm going to skip them.

I did have lots of fun - ran into many people that I know (I do know quite a few, I admit) including my friend Cathi in Ireland, who I am off to visit later this week, who was there with Barbara and another friend (whose name I forget, sorry!) who is an American living in Ireland (as Barbara is Dutch, but lives in Sweden and Cathi another Yank in Ireland and I of course am a Yank in the UK, we made a nice little ex-pat group). Cathi took a photo of me, Barbara, what's-her-name and my kids, which I'm sure she'll blog - I'll be sure to link to it when she does (maybe she has already, I should check - ok, not yet). Also ran into some longarmer friends including Ferret, some people I know from a private internet group I belong to, and who I'll be on a retreat with in September, and Sarah and Vanessa from my little local quilt group. As well as a good handful of people I know from elsewhere.

Oh, and we spent a while talking to Jennie Lewis and looking at her quilts in her gallery - she was asked to have a gallery at FoQ this year, and not before time - Jennie's a lovely person and a fabulous quilter and I've been lucky to be in virtual quilt group with her for a number of years.

We had fun, the girls and I, browsing the quilts a bit at a time (too much at once and your brain shuts down, I find), watching some action in the virtual studio (for once, neither Sarah nor Sally was working while I was there, though I did see Sal doing some block arrangements on the design wall), including a long stretch watching Claire Benn do some screen printing - I was particularly interested in this as I finally bought a screen myself to try this process out. Someday I am going to do a course with Claire and Leslie (aka Committed to Cloth). When my kids are older and more self-sufficient... I know several people who have done them and there's nothing but good stuff to be said. We also spent a while watching Jane Callender do a little indigo dyeing on her stand and of course ended up buying some materials to try it ourselves. And of course, we shopped. The girls didn't want a lot - Sarah in particular was very restrained - but I bought quite a bit. Very little fabric, admittedly, but lots of other goodies...

Lots of threads & yarns. You may notice that most of them are pale blue - this is because I need pale blue for the sky of the fibre landscape I am making for a birthday present for my friend Sophie C - her birthday is in October, so I do need to press on with it! Anyway, I also got some yellow because Olivia loved and (and she was right, it was gorgeous), some mixed brown & gold threads, and some variegated cotton threads for genereal stitching. The variegated threads are from the Cotton Patch - looks like their own line of threads. The yarns are all from either Oliver Twists, Steff Francis or (a new one to me) 21st Century Yarns. Lovely!

One the right, some odd "fabrics" I bought - jute scrim from Oliver Twists, plus some mulberry papers and metal meshes, foil netting. Oh, and a large stack of magic paper from European Art Quilt Foundation - this is the very very thin leave-in paper I like to use for foundation piecing when I do it by hand. And you can't see this, as it's falling off the side of the photo, but there is also some water-soluable fabric, so I can play with that. Lots of fun stuff!

Left above is the indigo dye kit I mentioned before and also a template for doing stitched shibori - I have yet to try the stitched kind (lack of patience) and I may not use it much, but if I decide I don't like it, it will make an excellent gift along the line, so I don't mind buying it. I'll have fun with the indigo dye, though - I always thought this was something you had to do in big batches, but having a little kit is fabulous. That's a project for after the kids go back to school, though. Want to be able to do it without any "help"...

The right hand photo is the bits and bobs photo - all the pieces I bought which don't really group logically with anything else. Angelina (got one free, hoorah), copper scrim, transfoil, an interesting stamp pad - for stamping on dark fabric, translucent and shimmery, should be fun; some stamps, some copper wire.

Got lots of painty stuff this year - a screen for screen printing, some Stewart Gill MetalMica paints, some Dynaflows, a couple of Markal paint sticks in colours I don't have, some treasure gold (not brilliant for fabric, but Dy uses it on her polymer clay faces, which I thought was a good idea, and of course it's fine on paper, wood, etc). The art supplies all came from either Ario or ArtVanGo, two of my favourite stands - great range of supplies, and, what is really important at shows, especially to those of us who are trying lots of new things, really really helpful people on the stands.

And beads. Lots of beads. Trying to expand my colour range a bit, and also, fairly sure I found the exact colour I need to match the gap in my doll (which I took with, and which was duly admired by two ladies who were also buying beads). As I will definitely finish this doll, and plan on at least one more (and perhaps a beaded cat for my mom, someday) I feel justified in buying beads - before I just bought them because I like them :) The beads mostly came from either The London Bead Company or The Spellbound Bead Company, with a few from Steff Francis.

And finally, the only fabric I did buy - at left, some lovely hand-dyed and stamped linen from Germany, a company called Werkstatt fur Textilgestaltung - and a great picture frame mount using the linen with gold script on it, which I have since used for one of my b/w photos of Alex, and have it in my bedroom.

Underneath this linen is some cheesecloth for me to dye myself. Keep meaning to do that, and keep forgetting to buy the fabric. At right, my extravagence - a piece of hand-dyed fabric by Heidi Stoll-Weber. (Also German. Wonder what that means about me or my taste in fabric... LOL) I have an idea what I'm going to do with it, but will have to test for viability - it will have to wait until later in the autumn, though. I couldn't think of a good way to show the fabric in it's entirety (it's a metre, 60" wide) so I have just flumped it down on the dresser and photoed it - but trust me, it's gorgeous.

I did buy quite a lot. But I didn't buy an embellisher (though I was tempted) so that was pretty good of me, I thought! Sarah loved trying the embellisher, and would have happily helped me take one home, but I resisted. Maybe next year.

Thanks to those who commented while I was away - will catch up with the blogversary draw tomorrow. That's enough posting for tonight! (And anyway, I still have to update the family blog...)