Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Last day

This will be the last entry in my blog for a week as I'm off to London tomorrow evening. Hopefully it won't be as hot as it has been. It is a year since I last went so I'm looking forward to it. My husband has bought me a new mobile phone and I have spent the whole of today learning how to use it. This may sound funny but when it comes to mobile phones I am so inept! I can just about send and receive and I used to be able to send text messages on my old phone. But this one has all the bell's and whistles including a camera. I just can't see me using half of this stuff. The reason he's done this is because he's fedup with ringing me and finding that I'm not available because my battery has run out. I'm so bad at charging up batteries and the old phone only used to go for a couple of days. This one though goes for over a week so I'll be able to get into the habit of charging it up at the weekends. Its got a good organiser so I could set up a reminder! There was no instruction manual with it as although new to me its not new as such. So I downloaded one off the internet and its huge! I'm a bit of an instruction manual junkie and read them from cover to cover. Its the only way to learn quickly! So I'll probably lug this up to London with me and try and learn my way around.

This is a Crazy Cutz quilt that I have to quilt. It is another of my six hour tops and really quick to do. Again all hand-dyes. I think I'm going to outline quilt leaves all over it as it is very Autumnal in its colour. This will be a job for when I get back.

This is what I call my Tardis bag as it holds an enormous amount of stuff. Its very easy to make and quick. I'm into bags! The flower is appliqued on and then beads added for the stamens. I think I have made this bag in every colour and type of fabric under the sun. Each time it gets improved upon so it now almost perfect!

Monday, June 27, 2005


Well suddenly found the upload picture button! This will be so much quicker to use and can be inserted at a relevant point in whatever I'm writing. This is just a test sample. The sample picture is of a Crazy Patchwork armchair tidy. I did this as a kit some years ago and it went really well. It was easy to do and very effective. The pale blue quilted background is hand-dyed silk dupion and I used a pale blue hand-dyed linen on the back (not shown) so that it wouldn't slip on the arm of a chair. The binding is a grosgrain ribbon folded in half. It makes a nice edging. I might even resurrect this kit and see how it goes.

I'm pleased I've found this facility. I wonder if there is anything else that might be useful. Will have to trawl around!

Tired and exhausted!

Thunder all night and then hot and humid during the day! Didn't get anything done but my kind man at the fabric depot sent me samples of just the fabric I use and so I was able to order a roll of it. And it was a good price! Better and better. Was one of those days. The council were re-surfacing our road which is an estate with one only entry to the main road. In their infinite wisdom they put up a notice saying: 'Resurfacing...long delays. Please find an alternative route!' Hm...like fly? So I left early for work to take into account the long delays only to find that they hadn't started and were standing around drinking tea! Typical! As if I wanted to be at work early! Then this evening I had to cut up a 100 metre roll of stabiliser for my students. It was like fighting with an octopus and unlike fabric there was no drape so it was stiff and unweildy. Actually as stabilisers go it is very soft and pliable but not when trying to unwind half of it and re-fold! So now I am all hot and bothered and I've done next to nothing creative all day! I haven't even got a good book to read! Oh yes, there was one highlight in the day. The postman brought me a package from one of my American friends and it was the A4 paper cutter for cutting prepared fabric and freezer paper for putting through the printer when printing pictures onto fabric. Boy this sure is bright! Its luminescent yellow! Certainly won't get lost in a hurry. But I'm so glad that it has finally come as I have been wanting to print some pictures and things and now I can. Well I could before but having a tool to do something with will give me the incentive to actually do it! I want to make a memory quilt for my Mum. Just one more thing to add to the long list of things to do. Time, give me time!

A piece of fabric from my play days. Plastic burnt into cotton poplin in the microwave. The texture is amazing. Has to be seen to be believed!  Posted by Hello

Some years ago we did a Movie Theme round robin. This was my addition to a Secret Garden block. I had great fun doing it but the hands were a pain to do!  Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Lazy Sunday

Had a lovely lazy Sunday and did very little. Played with some dyeing of threads and lace and made a very simple block for the sampler quilt. Well simple as in it only has two colours but was a curved pattern and I wanted to try out my new Curve Master foot. Which was OK but not spectacular! However now that I've got one block done I'll get on now with the rest. Need to think what backing I want and dye the fabric as I'm going to do quilt as you go so will need the backing pdq! I don't dye threads and stuff that often so was fun doing this. I loved the way the different types of fibre took the dye differently especially the threads with multi fibres in them. Then after lunch we went to P C World and I bought a roller ball mouse. This will be much better for my arm which is still giving me gyp! We had icecreams on the way back and it was just like a holiday even though we only went to Truro which is less than 12 miles away. But it was an outing! I really should get on with the applique piece and stick some more fabric to freezer paper. This seems to be quite an intensive technique so it could be that I'll go back to my old method of stitching round everything with either satin stitch or blanket stitch. I don't have any problems with using Bondaweb so this might be the way I go in future. I don't have time for too many refinements in the sewing process. Its amazing how quickly the weekends go. The time flies by and then before you know it Monday has come round again! But I'm going up to London on Wednesday night on the sleeper so it will be a short week. I'm going to spend five days with my daughter and have a break. Will be able to go to her local market and buy superb silks and sari materials from an Indian lady who has a stall there. And lovely laces, braids and motifs. And my daughter tells me there is a very large car boot on Sundays up there so who knows what treasures I'll find. Hope the days go quickly until Wednesday but bet they don't!

dyed Nottingham lace 2 Posted by Hello

dyed Nottingham lace Posted by Hello

threads before dyeing Posted by Hello

dyed threads  Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Lilac Posted by Hello

Magic Square Quilt  Posted by Hello


Had a really good show today. Was up at the crack of dawn and arrived early to set up table. Had remembered everything except string! Duh! But was able to improvise with four stranded embroidery cotton though string would have been better. Thought it was going to be a washout at the beginning but then it got really busy and business was brisk. Sold out of my Crazy Patchwork packs which was totally amazing and two thirds of the fabric went. So will need to a mammoth dyeing session soon; especially as lots of people took my card intending to call later. Well if only a couple do that it will be good but will need supplies so back to the dyeing. I think I saw more of my students, both current and from the past, in one spot than I have ever done before. One student reminded me that it had been thirteen years since she took one of my classes. Where has the time gone! The show was really well advertised and hats off to the organiser for this and for the hard work she put in on getting it up and running. All in all a most enjoyable experience which I really wasn't expecting though I did set forth this morning intending to have fun!

I was determined not to buy anything! After all the whole point was to make money! But succumbed in the end and bought a book. I'm a sucker for books. Bought Ricky Tims 'Convergence Quilts'. Not a new idea but a nicely written book and will be a useful addition to my collection. I arrived home to find that the adaptor for my Bernina had arrived so now I am able to use the Curve Master foot I bought. Although not the most well crafted of feet ...well not compared to the Bernina feet....this foot makes light work of sewing curves and I like using curves so hopefully we are going to have a good partnership from now on! The other foot I bought was the closed applique foot. It occurred to me that this would probably be very useful when sewing thicker threads and wools onto free form pieces as they wouldn't get caught in the prongs as they do on a normal foot. In the past I've been merrily sewing away only to find that the wool has snarled round the foot without me noticing and I have to resort to cutting it away.

The pictures are a) A Magic Square quilt made from my hand-dyed fabric and which my daughter has aquired! and b) a hand embroidery of lilac which I did on a RR block. I really enjoyed doing this as I don't often do hand work and when I do its a therapeutic change. The Magic Squares quilt is part of my repetoire of six hour quilt tops which I do with my students. It is so quick to do and looks marvellous when done. I tied this one using four strand crepe cotton. I am better these days but I used to hate the quilting part! Now I often do quilt as you go quilts and it makes life easier. I do like stipple quilting.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Finished - 1 UFO!

Feeling very pleased with myself as not only did I get a whole pile of freezer paper applique flowers onto fabric but I also finished a UFO! I started this more years ago than I care to remember. I read an article in Threads magazine about weaving with beads and thread and thought I'd have a go. So at long last I have finished it. It just needs some kind of cord to hang round the neck. The picture doesn't do it justice! It is a beautiful emerald green wool with a deep azure blue mohair wool. The beads are mainly turquoise with some gold metal fillers. I have been so pleased with this that I have started another one. I work them on polystyrene board using pins to hold the warp and then use a crochet hook to put the beads on and a raffia needle to weave in between. Its great fun to do! Woven textiles was my second major in college. I still have a 30" four shaft table loom on top of my wardrobe! I did have two big treadle four shaft looms but ran out of space so they had to be sold. What I really wanted was an upright Rya frame. Probably just as well I haven't got one or else nothing would get done. I'm now thinking how I could make beads out of some of my heat shrunk and dessicated plastic and then use those in a woven piece. Could be very interesting.

Tomorrow I have a show in a local village community centre. Don't know how well I'll do but it will be fun. All is ready and I have made lists galore so that I don't forget anything. I usually do! As long as its not my fabric it won't really matter. Have been using Serif Page Plus 10 to make my labels etc and it really is a very useful desktop publishing program. Very easy to use and the results are good. Now to put them in a bag so they don't get forgotten. At least the weather is cooler so hopefully people won't be on the beach and will be excited at the thought of going to a show! Just as long as it doesn't rain! We had thunder storms last night and whereas we didn't suffer too much up country it was dire with flooding and lost electricity. I know people in the Truro area who had direct hits and suffered the consequences. But it is much cooler so I don't think we are at risk of more thunder.

Woven bead amulet Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Today I got sidetracked! Yesterday some fabric I'd ordered for my dyeing arrived and although it purported to be exactly the same as the stuff I'd had before ...it wasn't! I dyed a sample metre and it isn't bad but it isn't the same! So this morning I got involved in sorting out exactly what it was I wanted in a fabric with my suppliers. I'm now keeping my fingers crossed! So the morning just frittered away without me doing anything terribly creative. I seemed to spend a great chunk of it on the phone. So no playing! And when I thought I'd use up a half hour and stitch some applique motifs together I found that the roll of freezer paper I'd used wasn't actually freezer paper. It stuck to the iron and after reassuring myself that I'd not got it the wrong way round I realised that it had wax on both sides and neither side stuck very well...not even to the iron! So all that has to be redone. I then got all wound up with monofilament thread which wouldn't play nice. So all in all to date a good time wasn't had by me! Off to enjoy a bbq! I'm so optimistic!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Well I've put up some pictures of a few of the fabrics and plastics I treated with a heat gun. The plastics reminded me of seaweed so I did a quick fishy scene. I think I might develop this further as well as perhaps doing an abstract....depends how much time I can get tomorrow. This might be a very on-going 'play'! I did enjoy finding things to burn and heating them up. Tomorrow I will have a go with a candle as the heat isn't so intense plus I can burn in a few holes whereas I'm more likely to have a fire if I go for holes with the heat gun. Will try some edges too plus sandwiches of fabric with plastic in the middle. Just need time!!!!

heat treated plastics and burnt fabric fish on vinyl Posted by Hello

more fabrics heated with a heat gun Posted by Hello

some fabrics and a piece of tyvek heated with a heat gun Posted by Hello
What happened to my lovely free day? I was going to do so much and all I've ended up with are strips of twisted plastic and fabric! Trouble is my husband was home today so there were the coffee breaks and the 'lets just get this done' moments which all ate away at my time. Never mind at least I'm started and I'll try and do some more tomorrow. Hope spring eternal!

Early Morning Dew

Lovely early morning dew on the roses. Had breakfast on the patio as it was such a lovely morning. Sky was a clear blue, the birds were singing and it was, apart from the birds, quiet! Wonderful! Getting ready to play! I have finally been able to work out how to put links up which has made life easier for me. No more trawling back and forth! Will continue with this each day adding in interesting sites. But now must get back to my play time. Will post pictures tonight of what I managed to achieve. The enthusiasm for this is running high and I have to make the most of my limited time. So onwards and upwards as they say!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Getting ready to play

I have been collecting things ready for my play day tomorrow. I'm going to work mainly in plastic I think as I haven't used plastic for years. Having been a City & Guilds tutor in textiles of various kinds there isn't a lot I haven't done in my years of teaching but it will be exciting to go back to different raw materials of a non fabric kind. Was rummaging in the waste bins at work looking for different wrapping materials. I've already got a lovely bit of green which was round a toner cartridge. Actually plastic is one commodity it isn't hard to get hold of. I'm going to cut up some plastic water bottles and make 'icicles' in the oven. And retrieve one of the sacks I'm carrying around in the boot of my car for want of anywhere better to keep them. These are lovely brown hessian sacks with quite tight weaving - will be fun to distress them. Ooh I'm getting quite excited! Might even have to start tonight. Now where did I put my heat gun!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Lace Butterfly Posted by Hello

Purple Haze Posted by Hello

Rose Garden Posted by Hello

Under Water Posted by Hello

at the end of the day....

After a most disastrous day everything is coming out OK. I've got the blog sorted with sidebars and logo's in place after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and ended up with a pink blog! Well I like pink and it's my favourite colour so I'm not complaining. My dyed pieces from yesterday are still scrumptious in my eyes and I have winkled out three that I feel I might not part with. Its a pity that the pictures arn't nearly as good as the real thing. They are all 100% cotton poplin evn though a couple of the pictures are a bit grainy. Tonight I did some lace on my sewing machine. Primarily butterflies. I wanted to test that I could take a design (one I'd digitised myself) and match it up so that I could do endless repeats. I have in mind to use a design of ivy leaves as a scrolling quilting pattern round a border of a quilt. The butterfly is free standing and can be attached just in the middle so that it hovers over applique flowers. I used Madeira FS/2 metallic in black and silver which is lovely to work with as it doesn't often break and is slightly thicker. I could see this on lingerie as well as quilts and things.

I managed to find a piece of lovely green plastic paper at work today. It will be ideal for whatever I'm going to do for Lisa's play day/week. I can't wait to get started but first I have to get tomorrow's class over and then grab a bit of time before I have to collect everything together for Saturday's show. I'm looking forward to doing something creative that doesn't have £ signs written all over it! Too much of what I do has commercial overtones! Needs must when the devil drives as I have no doubt said before but it is fun to play occasionally.

And today I ate the first strawberry from the garden. They are so late but the day was sunny and there was a strawberry, red and juicy. Delicious! The poor garden has had to do a lot of looking after itself this year but its doing OK and I am well pleased with it. Lots of lovely colour and not many weeds. The comfrey is definitely related to the Triffids! It is now 7ft tall! It says in the book a height of 4ft. Well this one can't read or it would have stopped growing! Its cottage name is Knit Bone and I have to say that a poultice of mashed up comfrey leaves is very soothing on torn muscles etc. And then that poultice makes a good garden compost! So even if it grows to 10ft I shall feel I have to keep it! It has the most fascinating thick square stem. I might use it as inspiration for my play day piece as the textures and shapes are extremely interesting.

ok second need for help

I changed the colour and the sidebar came back but albeit at the very bottom so now I need help on how to get it up to the top! I've got to go to work now...don't you just hate the day job! Actually its not a bad little job and I'm grateful to have it but at times like these I don't want to have to break off to do something else. Same thing when I'm sewing etc. Ah well, needs must when the devil drives.


I don't know what I've done wrong, if anything, but I've lost all my sidebar things! I've been into templates and the html code is still there and I've refreshed it and still nothing! If anyone can help or spread light on this I would be eternally grateful. Here's hoping!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

First B-b-q of the year!

Had a barbie outside ...typical British barbie. Cold, sun gone in and all the wrong stuff. Reminded me of my childhood and picnics at our hut on the beach. Smoky little fire or primus stove, soggy sandwiches, stewed tea out of a thermos flask because the fire was never hot enough to heat the water, and yet at the time I thought I was having a great time! Oh the joys of youth. I can remember that my grandmother who actually was the one renting the hut used to make bags out of American oil cloth to carry the milk bottle and the flask and they were the oddest bags out. My sister and I had to carry one each on the way back to the house and we hated it! We felt so stupid carrying these black monstrosities that looked like gas mask cases. In fact I wouldn't be surprised it that wasn't where my grandmother got her inspiration from! But at least my memories of summers then was that they were warm, nay even hot, and the sun shone virtually all day! I am still huddling up in a warm cardigan! How summery is that!

The dyeing was a whizz. I was so pleased with some of the pieces that I'm going to have a hard job parting with them. One of them in particular I can see edging its way towards my own stash! These were a darker lot than last week and I used some warm brown and charcoal and got some amazing effects. I'm too tired to take pictures now but I'll try and put some up tomorrow. After I've done this show I must make over my web site and put up some of the fabric for sale. I haven't done so yet as it seemed silly to get it up there and then sell it at the show. That's the trouble with one of a kind pieces they arn't repeatable so when they've gone, they've gone.

Tried looking up spiders to see if I could find out what type was climbing in my rose flower. Loads of pictures of spiders but couldn't find mine. Well a couple that could have been but would need to make an in depth study to be sure. But some fascinating sites and loads of inspiration for embroidery or collage work. Have bookmarked them for future reference.

Wow! Its an alien!  Posted by Hello

first glimpse of spider Posted by Hello

another day, another doughnut!

Got up early this morning so that I could overdye the fabric I dyed yesterday. I love overdyeing as the results are so wonderful and exciting because I'm never quite sure of what I'm going to get. Had some quite interesting pieces from yesterday as I made a boo boo. Had to answer the doorbell in the middle and in the resulting confusion forgot to add soda ash to the mix for one batch and so when it dawned on me that I hadn't done this I hurriedly added it late. Well I often do this purposefully and thought nothing of it. However I must have been in a rush and not so careful as usual as the result showed that the soda ash hadn't penetrated to all parts and so there were some most interesting shapes and colours. I bet I won't be able to repeat this if I try to do it again! Isn't that always the way! I remember once being in a hurry and microwaving a piece...again something I often do....and being anxious that there should be enough liquid dripping some more dye on top of the crumpled fabric. The result was amazing. Just like an earthquake with fissures of colour fanning out all over. Can I get that effect again. Similar but NOT the same! I just love the accidentals!

The garden is always so lovely first thing in the morning. Dew on the roses and a feeling of freshness. Its going to be a cloudy muggy day but that early morning feeling will keep me going. Love to have my coffee and watch the birds on the bird feeder. We had a tiny wren build a nest in the ivy one year and it was fascinating to watch the progress from nest building to leaving home! She is still around and her old nest is still intact...a real work of art...but I don't know where she is building now. Saw an amazing spider on one of the roses. Never seen a spider like this before. Thought it was quite small and ordinary until it decided to take a walk! See the pictures above. Had to share this but I might be alone in finding it fascinating.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

to dye or not to dye.....

Today is dyeing day and like the laws of the Medes and Persians cannot be changed! So bad arm or not to dye we go! Firstly though a trip into Falmouth with my friend Sue. This is a regular weekly happening which we both enjoy as it allows us to unwind after a busy week, have coffee, chat and rummage in the charity shops. I was, for me, very restrained and bought nothing. No I tell a lie. I bought a cup stand for 50p because I could see that it would be extremely useful in my workroom for hanging scissors and tools on. I am always losing my small scissors and this will I hope make this a thing of the past. Being wood it should be quite stable. Now I am waiting for my fabric, the lovely Egyptian cotton, to scour in the washing machine. I should have done this last night but forgot. I shall no doubt be working at midnight...but hey, what's new! While waiting for Sue I threw together 36 nine patch blocks and was impressed at the speed with which they went together. I could become hooked on nine patch quilts! Tomorrow morning I will put them together to make a 36" throw. I might put one way sashing in, or plain squares to make it a rectangle rather than a square. This is my biggest problem. I can't just do something! I have to see several ways of doing it and then often end up doing none of them and voila another UFO. Better go and mix the dyes. Some navy and yellow and then from that some lovely deep sagey greens. I'm beginning to drool at the mouth. I really do love colour ....almost as good as cream cakes. Better in fact as it doesn't add any pounds!

Friday, June 17, 2005

detail of flower from Baltimore block....see below Tuesday Posted by Hello

straight stitch sampler Posted by Hello

A cushion I made for my friend Sue. It is silk painted silk noile. Then couched hand-dyed threads and beads...loads of beads!  Posted by Hello

Lazy, hazy days of summer

Except that it isn't down here in Falmouth. Humid and damp with a dark thundery looking sky. Where oh where is our summer. I spoke with my daughter today in London and they are having glorious hot weather. Here it is, almost the longest day and so far no summer to speak of!

Due to my arm being still extremely sore I have achieved little. I have been able to sort my photograph collection which I suppose is something. I would have liked to have sorted out some of my fabric stash but have been forbidden to lift anything remotely heavy and so had to abandon that idea as it is all stored in plastic tubs stacked a mile high. Have had lots of ideas which I have been feverishly writing down in a notebook for future reference. Very frustrating having ideas and not being able to act upon them immediately. Tomorrow is dyeing day and I intend to dye come hell and high water so I hope my arm is feeling better by then! I have run out of navy for the sampler quilt and the following weekend I have a table at a show at a local craft fair so will need to add to my stock for that. I am not sure that it is the ideal venue for my wares but it will be a good place to network and promote my classes. I shall have to be strong and not buy more than I sell!

I am not sure whether I write this weblog for myself or for the interest of others. I do know that it focuses the mind really well and works as an aide memoire and a poke in the ribs! Also I suppose I am sufficiently vain that I'd like to share what I'm doing with a wider audience than just me. So on the sharing basis I'll look out a picture or two! But then again it could be that my ramblings are of no account to anyone but myself. Very hard to tell but I shall continue anyway as I enjoy doing so!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Look and find everything but....

I tried to find some pictures of the old engine houses that are so typical of tin mining countryside but no I obviously haven't taken any! However I did find a view looking down so that the settling pits can be seen in relation to the surrounding countryside. And I found this photo of one of my students pieces for her final year presentation. She was inspired by the debris and detritus that is washed up on our beaches. Most of it was done by machine with found objects off the beach and fishing net as a background. She had great fun doing it. All of the pieces were done individually and then attached afterwards. I live a five minutes walk from the beach and it is a great source of inspiration. From rough seas to fascinating rock pools. Caves to explore and treasure to find including sea glass and cowrie shells. I used to spend all day on the beach when I was a child. We were never bored and learnt to swim at an early age. Now I'm taking my 2 and 1/2 year old grand-daughter to the beach and hoping she will enjoy it just as much. She already has an enquiring mind and likes to look under rocks and stones to see what she can find and brings home stones and shells in her bucket.

looking down on the settling pits Posted by Hello

Being inspired

The photograph is of old settling pits at St Day which is a village not far away from us here in Falmouth. St Day is a typical mining village and there are lots of remains from the tin mining industry of yesteryear but which sadly is no longer in existence today. In this part of Cornwall old engine houses are a very common sight. I took this photo as the orange colouring was so striking and was inspired by it to do a quick embroidery. I silk painted the background and stitched randomly over it, and then machine couched hand-dyed threads to get the effect of the layers of silt. Then I hand stitched using french knots and buttonhole stitch to get the effect of fissures in the ground. The final touch was the thread trees on the skyline. In this area the wind is quite strong and continuous and all the trees grow with a decided slant and are often more skeletons than solid trees. I had great fun doing this and liked the results so much that I had the piece framed so I could hang it on the wall and enjoy it daily.

Today I had steroid injections in my arm and it has felt like lead ever since! It has been a good opportunity to sit and read and not feel guilty that I'm not catching up with the ubiquitous UFO's. I'm enjoying K is for Killer by Sue Grafton. I like a good murder mystery! I was also able to watch some of QNN and see Eleanor Burns demonstrate a really quick way to put a binding on. This might revolutionise my bindings in future because in the past I've always sewn them on in the final step by hand. No more of the H word! Almost as good as my quick mitre method for double binding that gets machine stitched at one fell swoop! Trouble is my method needs good accurate measuring in the first place and its hard to fudge if its wrong!

hand and machine embroidery interpretation of Old Settling Pits at St Day. Posted by Hello

Old settling pits at St Day Posted by Hello