Tuesday, May 31, 2005


I was so inspired by the pictures I took yesterday that I had to start playing around with fabric and thread. And also because in the general rummaging around in my room I found this yucky fabric which cried out to be used. When I'd dyed it I hadn't been impressed as it was too sombre and harsh but now looking at it I could see that the colours were ideal for the rust and weed that I had in mind to create. So I cut it up with wiggly lines and re-wove it which immediately turned it into something useful and made a very good background. Then I found some chunky bits of boucle wool in the right colours and randomly couched these onto the background to represent the weed. I looked at my photos again and saw that the pebbles and stones made little pools of light amidst the mud so I made a start on some circular machine embroidery with an iridescent thread. I've had three goes at spelling that so if it isn't right too bad! Next I think I'll go mad with the beads and maybe some applique to add more texture. I tend to let myself be guided by the way a piece is going. And once I've slaked the first need to get going it could be weeks before I go back to a piece. I just let the ideas percolate. I'm very tempted to do a machine lace crab to bury in there somewhere! And I want to make the rusty chain more prominent in some way. Now is the time to get the drawing pad out and play around with some ideas. See what might work and what won't. I like cutting up paper and stuff and collaging with it to get ideas for ongoing projects. This will be a wall hanging when finished. It isn't very big. Only about 18" square, perhaps a bit more.

I have made myself a summer time-table so that I can space out my things to do list. Usually I start off with a parcel of ideas and then find I'm in a rush at the end of August trying to get everything done for the start of the teaching year. This year I am going to be very organised. And I'm going to try and clear all my UFO's! I've had to CQ armchair tidies on the go since the year dot. They are going to be finished! I've had a great idea to combine my machine embroidery with silk ribbon work so the bags I'm making will get this treatment. And then I want to use my Artista to do some cut work. So much to do and so little time! It doesn't help that I have a great lazy streak running through me that makes me sit down and read a book every now and then! And on top of this there is the regular weekly dyeing session. Gosh I feel tired already! One of the reasons for starting a blog was the thought that if I felt that what I wrote was being noted I might make more effort to stay on track. And I must thank those kind people who wrote nice things. It is very encouraging!

Rust & Seaweed Posted by Hello

close up of Rust & Seaweed Posted by Hello

Monday, May 30, 2005


It turned into a lovely sunny afternoon so Martin and I went down to the Fal river to look at his mooring for his prospective boat. While he looked I took my camera and had fun taking pictures of the shoreline. Some lovely rusted chain that will provide future inspiration for a wall hanging and shells and seaweed; all of which will start me off on various collages. I even took a picture of a dead crab as you never know when it might come in useful to have a picture of a dead crab. It had a lovely green shell. The rusted anchor chain was the thing which gave me the most ideas though. Lovely twists and that gorgeous orange colour. I am very into orange because it is a colour I never wear but when it comes to quilts and things I use it abundantly especially with blue and green. When I was at Art School, many many years ago, I wove a large rug which I still use today; and that was in orange and green with a touch of blue. I was inspired by the paintings of Rothko at the time and the rug got me an A+ mark!

seaweed Posted by Hello

fascinating old shell on the shore Posted by Hello

rusted anchor chain in the estuary Posted by Hello

new look workroom Posted by Hello

All Change

While putting packs together I needed to find some bits and pieces and by the time I'd turfed everything out I had virtually denuded my workroom. So I decided in my infinite wisdom to re-arrange it! Did I really need the extra work? No but it was worth it. The room is so small that moving anything around is a nightmare especially the table which takes up most of the room. That said everything went into place nicely and I was well pleased with the results. It gives me so much more room. I could have both sewing machines up at the same time if I really needed to but it isn't really convenient to have more than one up constantly. And that of course has to be my Artista! But this new arrangements means I can swivel between machine and ironing board. And their is more floor space so I can get to everything without having to stand on the table! See new picture for seemingly bigger workroom.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


I don't know why but I am shattered! I've spent the day sorting fabric to put into packs for orders. The trouble with sorting fabric is that I get sidetracked when I come across an interesting piece and start thinking of things I could do with it and before I know it an hour has gone by. Found some lovely Chinese brocades that I had forgotten I'd got. Some of them are really lovely with butterflies all over them. For some unknown reason I seem to have a dearth of yellow fabric. I must remember this when I'm next stocking up. In fact this gives me a good excuse to go out and buy more fabric! Or I could even dye some of the silk dupion that I have tucked away. Everytime I go through my tubs of fabric I say to myself that I must get them organised and still it hasn't been done. Which is why I am always finding treasures. The latest find is a plastic bag full of signed patches from the Crazy Quilt Convention at Omaha in 2000 when I was teaching there. I had every intention of making these into a signature quilt but now I am going to go one better and make a photo memory quilt as I have loads of pictures to go with the signatures. Some I know and others I can't remember the names of so I shall have to put them up on the blog and ask people to identify themselves. Well I hope that they will or someone will. Then I'll transfer the photos to fabric and hey presto we're in business. Five years late but better late than never. I could do the same with the pictures I took in Nashua. At this rate I could end up with a giant King size quilt! Think I'll go and look out some pictures and start the ball rolling!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Now the day is over!

Well I've dyed the threads, done some weeding in the garden and put in some extra strawberry plants plus skeining up some extra threads ready for the morning. All in all a successful day considering I spent the morning in town. I'm well pleased with the colours of the threads. A lovely jade shade especially delights me. I shan't want to part with it! I took some photos while gardening of daisies and little violas. They will work as inspiration for another piece of work; either applique or silk ribbon embroidery. Or even both! I love this time of year as everything looks so fresh and colourful. The leaves are still a clean green and so many different greens at that from the grey/blue of the Eucalyptus to the strong green of the hawthorne. And the hawthorne blossom is a picture especially against the rhodedendrons. I seem to be cultivating a giant triffid! In actuality I think it is a sport from the creeping comfrey I had. It has obviously reverted to its original format. It is massive! On the one hand I am a great admirer of comfrey for its herbal properties but on the other hand do I want this gigantic green plant taking over my garden? Perhaps I can dig it up and move it so it isn't so prominent. Thought for tomorrow!

violas Posted by Hello

daisies Posted by Hello

The sun is shining and I'm indoors dyeing!

After a miserable start the sun is now shining and it is a gorgeous afternoon. But where am I? Indoors dyeing! Lovely colours which are reflected in the sunshine outdoors but as I stir the dye pots I yearn to be in the garden which badly needs my attention. Perhaps I will play hooky for a wee while and continue to dye tonight when its dark. I bought some lovely yarns while I was in town. Super boucle types and fringy and bobbly. All sorts for different textures. A lovely greeny brown that will make wonderful seaweed on something and a fringy pinky turquoise which could be a fan dancers fan!

I want to try out a technique for sewing curves that I saw demonstrated on QNN. It was sew simple! However I have found that lots of things look sew simple until I try to do them and then its all down hill!

The picture is a piece of cotton that I painted and then didn't know what to do with it as it was on the small side. So in the end I stipple quilted it varying the stippling from small to medium to give a varied effect. What to do with it now I don't know. Perhaps a bolster cushion? I shall have to ponder. The stipple quilting made the flowers stand up in a very 3D way which isn't so obvious from the picture. And I sewed beads in the centres. I had some lovely yellowy brown glass beads which were just ideal for this. One flower like this could be used as a motif in a crazy patchwork piece. Hmm.....brain racing away again with loads of ideas coming to mind. Its no wonder I don't get anything done! I'm always off at a tangent with new ideas. I need a gnome or two to do the work!

quilted hand-painted fabric with beads. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 27, 2005

felt with string and gold foil Posted by Hello

Not working!

Having a hard time uploading pictures! Don't know why as the program worked well yesterday. I managed to get a few pictures up and then it wouldn't work. Perhaps I've exceeded my amount for today! These are pieces of experimental work that I have been doing using felt. In the mixed media piece I also used hand-made paper (see instructions on my site: http://www.farnedesigns.co.uk ) and teased out fleece with gauze and woollen speciality threads. I had great fun doing this. I then moved on to felt as a background with machine embroidery using gold foil and garden twine. The felt is very easy to make and the gold foil is from tomato puree tubes opened up and cleaned. The machine needle goes through it very easily. This is the piece I can't get to display as a picture! Ratz! I'm now working on layered felt and cut open machined squares so that the layers could be seen. I think I'll add in some beads and some hidden treasures. And the hydrangea piece was an experiment a la Richard Box. Was fun to do; very effective; and quick! Tomorrow I'll have another go at loading up so more pieces. Now I must go and get on with the dreaded skeining!

beginnings of a felt sample piece Posted by Hello

mixed media experimental piece Posted by Hello

hydrangeas on hessian..machine embroidery Posted by Hello

Busy Day

Had to dye up skeins of threads for orders in hand. I find that skeining threads is very tedious and I always leave it to the last minute to do which is probably why I'm always in a panic for various colours of threads. Need to do some teals and lavenders and a whole range of browns from darkest almost black/brown to pale taupes and beiges. I love mixing up browns as it is so exciting waiting to see exactly what one is going to get with the different fibres. I have a lovely thread that is a mixture of cotton and acrylic and it dyes with a wonderful candy striped effect. I shall be sorry when it is all gone as I don't know where I can get any more. This was a relic from my Mum's knitting machine days in the 70's. I've got a good video to watch so will try and get some more skeining done tonight. Not quite so mindless then.

I've dye/pained a half metre of fabric and it came out so well that I think I will quilt it and turn it into a wall hanging. I might add applique to it to follow the flower theme. Once I get going I will be inspired and that will lead me where I'm to go. I often find that my fabric pieces almost dictate what I am to do with them. I'm going to put up a picture of a similar but smaller piece I've done.....if I can find it!

Wow! It worked!

Well I made it with the pictures. It actually worked. This bag is one that I made to carry loads of stuff when going to classes as it holds an amazing amount hence its name as it is bigger than it looks. Because I'm so chuffed with the picture thingy I'm going to upload a picture of my workroom. It is 7ft square. Well possibly 7 x 6.6 foot. That missing half a foot makes a lot of difference! But again its amazing as to what I can actually get in there!

Now the day is ending!

Well I want to put up pictures of my works in progress but haven't yet sussed out how to actually upload pictures! Not as easy as working in Dreamweaver! But I'll get there eventually. Has been that kind of day. Made the block from hell this morning. Don't know why I wanted to make a medallion block for my last patchwork lesson this term. Must have been mad! To begin with couldn't find the carbon paper so thought I'd mark the lines with transfer crayons. Bad move. Lines were much to thick! But I plodded on. Fudging it all the way until I ended up with two very creditable half blocks. So far so good. Then disaster struck. There was no way these two blocks were going to go together and look as if they were the same block. So I gave up! But I will know all the pitfalls when I'm demonstrating this in class. My students will all hate me I'm sure as it will really tax their brains. I'll know in the autumn as to whether or not they come back for more!

The next project is going to be much more fun. A crazy pieced background with applique black silhouette cats all over it. I'm motivated all ready and will start as soon as I clear the work load and can give my time to it. Next week if I'm lucky! I mustn't complain as I'm thrilled to bits to be getting orders off my site using the PayPal facility I set up. This is the bread and butter that enables me to have the cream as well. Must dye some more threads so will probably spend tonight skeining up ready for the dye bowl in the morning. And must suss the picture thingy!

Off to work at something. Even if its only going into my workroom and looking at threads!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

better picture of workroom Posted by Hello

Tardis bag with Applique flowers in bowl.  Posted by Hello