Sunday, July 31, 2005

Lazy Sunday!

Today has been restful. My arm has been troubling me again and I can't think why as I have been very careful not to carry heavy things or pull with it without wearing the support. However it has necessitated me wearing the armband all day which is a pain. Tennis elbow is a real trial and whenever I read any articles on it they all say that it can take years to get better.

I spent the morning reading a book. This is a vintage classic that I read as a teenager and thought I'd like to read again as an adult. It is called 'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith of 101 Dalmations fame. The book is very good and very descriptive of a bygone age. I am only a third of the way through it as I felt compelled to go and iron some more ribbons and put together some orders ready for posting tomorrow. It is amazing how long it takes to iron silk ribbon. I still haven't taken any photos or updated my website.

And I also felt the need to do another couple of postcards. However I wasn't very happy with either of these. I really should have left it until my arm was feeling better as it hampered my efforts. The first one was OK until I overdid it. I should have left it and not messed about with extra spirals. The second one I tried out the method of using a larger shape and satin stitching to the size and then trimming. I also used some wadding with this one too to accentuate the quilting. However it is just boring and I don't like the quilting. And I don't like this method so will revert to my earlier method of finishing off. It is easier to go off line this way and not so neat.
However I have loads of ideas and will devote time to this during the week. I don't have any classes this week which will make it easier. I am going to send myself one of the one's I don't like to test it going through the post. Can one just put a stamp on it and drop it into the box or does one have to go to the post office I wonder?

We went to Trago this afternoon. This is a local cash and carry that is cheap and among other things has a good art/craft department. So what was the first thing I saw? Stamps! Loads and loads of stamps. They had some acrylic shapes for sticking the stamps to and these were ideal as templates for cutting pieces as one was postcard size. There was an offer on the stamp sheets of two for the price of one so I had to have several! I got some letters and some leaves among other things. These seem very strange as they are self adhesive and stick to the acrylic and then peel off again for cleaning and then can be re-stuck on again. This means that different designs can be made. I shall have to play with them later on. Probably on my way to bed as it is nearly 11pm now. I also bought a smaller set of acrylic shapes that were intended as templates but which will also act as carriers for the stamps.....I think/hope!

I also bought a new frying pan as our old one was horrendously horrible and I couldn't stand it any longer. And marvel of marvels when I got it home I found that the old glass lid which was still perfectly sound fitted the new frying pan perfectly. Which is just as well as Martin had told me to measure the old one so that we could buy a new one the same size and I had forgotten to do it so I was saved! I managed to avoid going into the 'bowels of the earth' with Martin. This is what I call the car accessories department as it is in the basement and windowless, airless and crowded. I hate it but Martin gravitates there like a homing pigeon. So when I was finished shopping I sat on a wall outside and watched the world go by while I waited for him. Trago's is situated in a warehouse on the dockside at the far end of Falmouth high street. It is just off Custom's House quay where there is a quaint chimney dating from the 1700's where the customs officials used to burn contraband tobacco. Falmouth is'nt a particularly old town as before 1700 Penryn which is at the head of the River Fal used to be the main town. Pendennis Castle which is at the head of the estuary was built in the 1500's by Henry VIII to repel the Spanish and there were a couple of large estates but the main dwellings were further up the river. It is also famous for the packet ships which carried the mail to America. Gosh I don't know how we got onto a geography lesson when I was talking about shopping! I shall go and play with my new stamps for a wee while before going to bed.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I did it! I did it!

Well I sewed all the tumbling blocks together and now they just need to be blind hem stitched to the background. I tidied up the Russian vine and stopped its attempt at a take over. I had a great lunch. I rinsed out the dyes and the ribbons are all dried. I haven't taken any photos yet or done the website as they need to be ironed. So that's tomorrow's job. And finally I did it! Yes I made not one, but two post cards!

I cut out some pelmet Vilene for the inner support. I then adhered Bondaweb to this on both sides and then removed the paper. I had great fun sorting out a heap of 'interesting' fabrics. Some of my old hand-dyed bits are going to be ideal for this. Then I had a whale of a time stamping. In fact I got quite carried away by this and so enjoyed it that I ended up doing a couple of fat quarters plus some smaller pieces. I've got some lovely small wooden hand carved stamps that were made in India and they are ideal for this. Plus I've got some stamps I made myself with self adhesive rubber. In fact I had forgotten how much I like stamping. This could be the beginnings of a whole new ball game. No, no. I don't have the time to do anything else! Resist, resist you fool! LOL Well I had been side tracked for quite some time when I looked at the clock and realised that if a post card was to be done I had to get on with it. So I then chose some fabric and adhered that to one side of the Vilene. I then cut out a fish for fusing. But before I fused it I stitched some weed onto one side of the card. Then I fused the fish on. More weed sewn on the other side of the fish and some stitching on the fish itself. Looked a bit naked so I drew some smaller fishies with water colour pencils. The back ground fabric was a piece of silk shibori that hadn't been up to scratch but was ideal for water. Then I fused the back piece on. I used shot tafetta for this in a dull green. Satin stitched the edges. I think in future I won't cut to size but will satin stitch to the size I want and then trim and then candle flame the edges to get rid of fray bits. Still felt it needed something so I added some 3D paint in gold to the weeds. And that is it!
So then I thought I'd do another one but not so complicated. Keep it simple stupid! Same format as before only this time I chose as background a piece that I'd used a stamp on already with disperse dyes. This was a spiral shape I'd made myself. It was quite dark. I then cut out a spiral from a lighter fabric and fused it to the middle of the card. Then I randomly stitched round and round and round. You get the picture! Finished the edges as before as at that time I hadn't had my blaze of light about the edging. And then because I was now quite enamoured with the 3D paint I followed the spiral line with it roughly. This one was being done in a hurry so it wasn't being done with any respect for accuracy of line but I like it! It's a bit on the wide side but I don't think that matters. It's 4.5 instead of 4.
These are each completely different approaches and designs. But I now have lots of ideas as to what I can do and what is possible. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to paint, draw and stamp. Usually I only remember that I can do these things when I'm making cards for Christmas. The trouble is I'm a jack of all trades ....... And no time to do half of them.
Well off to read a book now. Glass of wine and a book. Now that's a good way to end off a perfect day!
I'd appreciate some comments so that I'm not living in a fool's paradise thinking these are OK when they arn't up to scratch. TIA

So early!

Its so early on a Saturday morning and I'm sitting at the computer eating my porage and reading my emails. I'm glad that my 'to me' dull life isn't dull to others. And Pam and Francis don't think I'm depressed because of my comments. Just because life is dull doesn't change the exuberancy of my persona. You can't keep a good Gemini down. I just put on another hat as my daughter says. Its the lack of time to do the things I really want to do and to be able to potter that is coralling (is this a word?)the exciting things in my life. I do feel a great sense of achievement that I am getting the necessary things done and being so disciplined. Today is going to be a lazy for me day. I'm not dyeing - the world will stop!! LOL I'm not going into town with Sue because she is in Minorca. She was going to Turkey but decided discretion was the better part of valour. So I have all day to please myself. I'm going to make a postcard .....or two or three. I'm starting off with postcards rather than ATC's as they are slightly bigger. I'll work down. Frances I'll post when done and you can see what you think. You may change your mind about doing a swap. Wry grin!

So today's list is:
1. Sit quietly and stitch my Tumbling Blocks and reflect on ideas for PC's
2. Enjoy lunch with Martin and my Mum
3. Make a PC or two or three or maybe even four. (I don't know how long these babies will take to make!)
4. Read a book...something simple!
5. Final rinse for my dyed threads and ribbons, and then dry.
6. Take photos.
7. Up date website.

Well some of that may run into Sunday but hey, that's a free day too! Well we will see how much I can get done. The sun is shining. I have to go and tame the Russian Vine so it doesn't encroach into my neighbours garden. It has already covered most of the dead hawthorne tree it is rambling over. It is so invasive but so lovely when in flower. Should have put that on my list to do first. What with eating the porage and mulling over the various comments and reading the post I have taken over an hour to get to this point! This is why not a lot gets done because time slips away.

Friday, July 29, 2005

House block from my Baltimore Album quilt.  Posted by Picasa

Even less exciting!

I use too many exclamation marks! See! I can't help myself. No doubt its due to my rather dull existence and therefore things have to be expressed in a surprised, raised eyebrows kind of way. Today was a dull day only relieved by knowing that it is Friday and tomorrow is Saturday. This is such a relief as the week was turning out to be too long. Looking back over it I seem to have achieved a fair amount but none of it was mind bogglingly exciting. Next week I am going to have a blitz on my wardrobe and get rid of most of it. It has extended into two suitcases and a box so obviously I am not wearing everything I've got. Also I have to lose some weight as there might be garments in there that I would wear if I could. Whatever this could be quite exciting. Watch this space!

Today I cut out the last three blocks for the sampler quilt so the Storm at Sea block is all ready to go Pam. It looks very fiddly so may not finished in the blink of an eyelid. At the moment I am working on the Tumbling Blocks one because it is a hand one being done over papers in the English tradition. Not paper piecing a la Americana where it means what we call Foundation pieceing. This is not a technique I'm crazy for but lots of people like doing it so I include it every other year when I've forgotten how much I don't like it. I refuse to do hexagons! I have to say that I am pleased and amazed that I just got all 15 blocks out of the material I had dyed. At 16" block size that was a lot of pieces and I hadn't really done any scientific measuring but it all worked out and I have a few scraps left. I have to dye some yellow for the sashing and some navy for the border. Now it is starting to come together it is beginning to look quite eyecatching.

I am pieceing a crazy patchwork table runner which I will also use as a work piece in my Autumn classes. These are beginning to fill up quite well and I am hopeful of full classes. I need a table runner and it is easy to turn it into a wall hanging if table runners aren't quite your thing. The other work I will offer will be an applique quilt. This will cover all sorts and give a fair amount of choice.

I am going to watch What's New Pussycat which is a film I love and takes me back to my youth. It has come out on DVD and so I am able at last to see it as we neither have television or a video player. One goes with the other and as I have no time for TV it means I don't get video either. But DVD's are brilliant anyway and there are more and more of them around. I haven't had a TV now for over 15 years and I have to say that I haven't missed it! Nor has Martin in case you think I'm depriving him!

I have no pictures so you will have to go without unless I turn something up in the archives. I'll try and have an exciting weekend so I'll have more to write about. I'm hoping Lisa of Procrastinator fame is going to run a bloggers postcard swap. Just thinking about it is making me happy. I'm so easily pleased! It will force me to make some! I want to make some. I really, really do but so far I just haven't energised myself to do so.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Not very exciting!

My life isn't very exciting! Each day is much the same as the one before and the one after will be on the same lines too! I get up; I try to spend the morning being creative and then I go to work for the whole of the afternoon. Then when I come home I'm tired and don't feel like doing an awful lot. So I get dinner and then read my email and write up the blog and then its time for bed! Well actually in there is a glass of wine and reading of a book also. You notice there is no mention of the H word! Well that's because it doesn't exist here. Occasionally I'll sneak up on it and do a bit and at the weekend's I'll blitz the kitchen and bathroom but otherwise its a non starter. I mean what's the point. Do it once and it'll only need doing again within a month or so! I just keep it down and under control without qualifying for the pest officer to check me out!

Today I dyed silk ribbon and threads. I needed some colours urgently so decided to do a whole new set! They are sitting rinsing out now. They are fairly basic colours as I didn't have time, it being a weekday, to play with variegations etc. Some of the threads look really yummy though! It was so quick and simple. I just mixed the dyes using 1/8 tsp dye per colour. I use primaries and mix all the other colours. Add about 4fl oz water. Just enough to cover the threads and ribbons. About 50+ metres in each pot altogether. I put the soda ash into each pot and then dunked the wet threads etc into the pot and left for an hour. Then I rinsed and filled each pot with clean cold water and put the threads etc back. I'll keep doing this for a while until I've either got some time or they need to be done. Then I'll wash in hot soapy water. And rinse and put into hot water in pots. And I'll replace the hot with cold and keep on replacing until it runs clear. Takes until tomorrow! One last wash out in hot soapy water, rinse in cold, roll in towel to get moisture out and then dry on rack. And all of this done at my kitchen sink! The worst part of all this is skeining the threads and ribbons in the first place. I don't dye masses of thread/ribbon. Not nearly as much as I do fabric. I have more fun dyeing fabric!
And thank you to Linda who sorted out my clock problem. This was so simple that I feel quite stupid for not working it out! But then some things challenge me big time!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Looking for inspiration!

Having got my wall hanging out of my system I am looking for inspiration for another work in similar vein. I've been searching my photos to see what I've taken that might inspire me and I came across these wonderful pictures of Martin having a bonfire at night. Well it started off in late afternoon. I was fascinated by the shapes I got from the fire but they were even more amazing at night. Like something primitive. Isn't it strange how men love having bonfires! And bbq's! Must be something about fire that gets to them. I've only got to suggest having a burning and Martin is out there. I have to say he is very good at having fires!
I'm sure I can get something from these images and the colours are so me. Those deep oranges and golds with blacks and browns. Such lovely shapes! The picture taken in the dark really inspires me!
I want to do some more fusing as this technique really impresses me. I've done fused applique in the past but then used satin stitch to anchor it down and lovely as that is it doesn't have the free form effect. This time I want to keep the piece very clean and sharp. So no net or fancy threads. Just fantastic fabric and lots of stitching. I shall do some preliminary sketches and work on it.
We've just had dinner as Martin was under the car until it got dark. I was very brave and made an avocado salad. I like avocado but the last time I ate it I was violently ill. So I am hoping that it wasn't the avocado that made me sick or else I could be in for a rough night! Time will tell!
And yes! The clock is dead on time! So what's gone wrong?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bag with free machined motif!  Posted by Picasa

Late, too late!

Well its nearly time to go to bed and I feel exhausted. My arm hurts, my foot hurts and I just want to sleep for eternity! This is what shopping at night in Asda does to one. Its the descent into mindless self inflicted torture. Oh, how I hate shopping! And its not just the trekking round the aisles trying to concentrate on the list and find exactly what is wanted -half of which Asda in its infinite wisdom doesn't stock. In fact if I find a product I like you can bet your bottom dollar they will stop stocking it. Its the kiss of death to like something! And then the marathon race at the checkout! Though I've given up caring whether I hold up one or twenty one people behind me. I can go no faster and I won't be stressed. At least I pay with cash and not have to write a cheque. Mind you paying with cash can mean that £5o or so is all in 50p's which have to be religiously counted! Should be grateful I don't bring the bags of 20p's! And then having managed to escape there is the awful vision of putting it all away once home is reached. Trying to make space in the freezer and fridge. When I was first married I went to the grocers in our small town. Sat on a chair and handed over my list. They ran around fetching things and making suggestions as to things they had in stock and just chatting. And at the end of it all the bill was never more than £3! And they delivered if wanted. Oh where have those days gone! And I'm not that ancient! (photo of me when first married)

Oh well having had a good moan I'm off to bed! Another day tomorrow!

The time is out by only 7 minutes!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Another wardrobe tidy. Also in silk with silk ribbon embroidery. I did loads of these one year as presents.  Posted by Picasa

A wardrobe tidy with silk ribbon embroidery.  Posted by Picasa

Dyeing class in Omaha. Note the carpet and the chandaleers.  Posted by Picasa

Falmouth Bay. I live about a mile from here going up the hill on the far left! Posted by Picasa

Monday, monday!

This was a good Monday morning as I got the block from yesterday finished and cut out all the wadding and backing and zapped it all together with my Quilt-tak gun ready for quilting. So I now just have 3 blocks to do. One is tumbling blocks, another storm at sea and the last a vase of flowers using insets and diamonds. None of them are my particular favourites but at least working in 16" size I'm not dealing with fiddly little pieces.

Today the brochure for the Adult Education classes arrived. It is a disappointment this year as there is no blurb about the content of the classes just the day and time. I was pleased to see that my telephone number had been included under my name. At least prospective students will be able to phone me to discuss the class and I can sell it to them over the phone. This is one reason I want to get this quilt done ahead of time as I'm hoping one of our local habidashery stores will display for a week with some info about the classes. Well this is our ONLY haberdashery shop and she needs my students as much as I do! So I'm beavering away at the quilt even though it isn't highly exciting. Well the quilt is exciting and I love the way its going to look but the actual working on it isn't what I want to be doing at the moment.

Tomorrow is my last private class for the summer. The schools have broken up and no one has a lot of time now. I am going to be really busy for this month. For starters I have 10 people coming to lunch on the 14th. This may not sound a lot if you have a reasonable sized house but in my rabbit hutch this is going to be a LOT! The picture at left shows my dining table! But it will be fun. Six adults and four teenagers! I'm just hoping the weather will be kind and I can do a buffet type lunch and we will eat in the garden. I shall do buffet food anyway but if it rains there might be those who have to sit on the floor! This is my French friend and her children and husband plus my friend Sue and her daughter and husband. They have all known me for years and I feel comfortable with them and they with me so I'm not going to go into a decline over it and wonder what on earth possessed me to do this. Well actually I probably am as the time gets nearer! No my Gemini spirit will come to the fore and it will be a great day. Lots of food and drink and after a while no one will notice that there arn't enough chairs or a big enough table!

Went into the attic earlier today to see if I could find some things and came across my missing photo albums. So I shall put some photos up in a minute! Be warned!

And we are running 14 minutes slow which isn't as bad as yesterday!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Power of Lists!

I did it! Well almost but in some cases better. Numbers 1 & 2 on my list have been achieved and what is more not only did I cut out the second block but I also sewed it up and cut another one out and started that one. So I now only have 3 blocks left to cut out- and they are the complicated ones. I've dyed the backing piece so when I've finished the half done one I'll start assembling the blocks for quilting. There is going to be sashing so I am going to allow plenty of the wadding round the block and then trim it away when I attach the sashings. I do like this quilt as you go method as it is so much easier to do fancy quilting than when struggling with a 6ft roll of quilt. I am not a traditionalist but having to make a traditional sampler quilt once a year is very good for me as it under pins the fundamentals and makes me think. I have to admit that I am of the, quote from Martha Green, 'roadside Carnie' school of quilting and like to do things fast and bright. My friend Martha does some wonderful stuff and I have to admit that I was first drawn to her work when I first saw it in Omaha at the Crazy Patchwork Convention in 2000 because it was so bright and colourful. I have since taught at several venues since then where Martha has been teaching also and her work never fails to amaze me with its inventiveness and sheer joy of execution that is so evident in it. I am lucky enough to own a couple of things that Martha has made for me.

I am used to teaching dyeing workshops here in England in basements and old tenement buildings where the surroundings are basic but there is lots of space, deep sinks, occasionally hot water but always a kettle and/or urn, big tables and it doesn't matter a hoot if things get spilled. And we have a lot of fun. However when I arrived in Omaha in 2000 to find that I was to give dyeing workshops in a four star hotel with new carpets on the floor and not a tap or sink in sight I was flabberghasted. In fact I don't think that quite explains how I felt. The hotel rose to the occasion and laid down plastic tarps and brought in a bowser of water and gave us 'old' tables! Their old though wasn't my old so we used as much newspaper as we could- everywhere. This would have been on the verge of OK if it wasn't that my classes had been scheduled for a different room each day of the week! So each morning we upped sticks and moved everything down the hotel corridors much to the bemusement of the other guests. I co-opted a helpful bell boy who did most of the heavy stuff and helped to keep my sanity. The students were wonderful. They made light of all difficulties and we had a ball even though they constantly made fun of my British accent! We dispersed among the hotel to rinse out in the bathrooms and to plug hair dryers into any available socket to dry sample pieces. This last was too much for the hotel's electrics and we shorted the place! And this isn't even telling you about the fire in the middle of a tornado on the top floor because we were doing microwave dyeing and a student forgot to put any water in and cooked her silk to death. My poor steamer still bears the scars. Ever since then I tape messages all over the microwaves as telling students isn't enough! Oh that was a wonderful week even if I gained a reputation for causing havoc! Not my fault m'lud! And what an introduction to America!

This is one of the pieces that Martha made for me. It is a door hanger and on one side it says Keep Out by Order of the Queen and on the other side there is a wonderful picture of Queen Victoria in all her glory surrounded by superb crazy patchwork pieces and embellishments. This is so necessary to hang on my workroom door! I have spawned a family of thieves! Borrowing to them means keeping! I wouldn't mind if they asked! I have to admit it is much better since both children left home but even Martin isn't above a quick rummage!
And now I have a grandchildren I can see it will be even more necessary! My grand-daughter Fenella was having her afternoon nap when they were visiting at Easter and I went to see if she was awake only to find that she had been into my 'art' draw and found some wax crayons with which she'd decorated a goodly part of her books. A moment longer and the walls would have been next. When asked what she thought she was doing her answer was, 'Panda did it!' Panda is her favourite and never to be without soft cuddly toy which I bought her at a car boot sale! So what can you do when a just 2 year old has an immediate answer like that! She is a rascal! And any day now she will have a baby brother or sister!
Thank you to those who made kind comments about my fabrics. This is always good to hear and I'm glad I stuck them up on the website even though the photography wasn't perfect! I saw the discussion on the QA list about buying fabric on line and how the colours were n't what one expected; well all I can say is that my colours are better in the real! But I did hang my head in shame that they weren't better pictures!
The time is now an hour slow!

New day! New beginning!

It rained all night and its raining still! But its not dark and gloomy but fresh and cheerful rain. So a good day to start a detox diet. Ten days to a new me - clean inside and out! Well the motivation is there and the fridge has all the right stuff in it so let me at it!

These are my plans for the morning. I'm not going to be so rash as to say for the day as once Martin is up and about that will be a whole new ball game. But I got up early and having finished my very good for me porage and read my emails and looked at Bloglines - I have to give a very big thank you to all who recommended this as it is great - I am now ready to start work. But if I give myself this list there is every hope that I might do something rather than wander around aimlessly picking up this and putting down that in the hopes that inspiration will strike. I might even make a postcard. I must be the only person in creation who hasn't made either a postcard or an ATC ever/at all! But first the list:

1. Make block that is cut out and by machine waiting.
2. Cut out fabric for another block. (paper templates are done)
3. Do some work on landscape picture that is started.

I think that is enough as I only have three or four hours to myself. So, ready, steady, START!

And just to say that the time is now exact! I'm bemused!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The lost piece!  Posted by Picasa

Wet, cold and miserable!

Its raining! And its cold! If I had a gas fire I would have lit it! I need to curl up in a big armchair and read a book in front of a fire. Well I can do two out of those three things and I will later. It has been one of those days where nothing grabs the attention. I went into town this morning as I do most Saturdays and had a good time with my friend Sue. I found a really bright pink pair of trousers which I will wear at home but may not have the courage to wear outside where I might be seen. I love them! Pink is my most favourite colour, especially this hot fuchsia pink. We were didn't rain on us but when I got home it poured. I can't think of anything I want to do! Poor pitiful me. I am feeling so sorry for myself!

I dyed fabric last night and I think I'm having withdrawal symptoms by not dyeing today. I usually dye on a Saturday afternoon and I think this is the problem. I am really pleased with the pieces I dyed. They have turned out to be sugar almonds colours. Not too pale but that sugary soft look of sugared almonds. Certainly not as wishy washy as I expected them to be. In fact I like them even though they are not the brights I usually dye. These are half metre lengths and there is a lot of tonal changes down the length of the fabric. Some are stripey and some not so stripey but all have interesting changes in the colours. I shall do this again but try and find a longer board to work on. My acrylic piece is only 5ft and I need something 6ft or even 7ft long.

This one on the left is reminiscent of sea on a summer's day or of a Monet pond. The one on the right is like a sunset with very faint tones of aqua in amongst the pink and the yellow. They need to be looked at sideways on!
These photos just don't show the colours as I would like. I think it is because being such a grey day I had to take them indoors with a flash. And also to get the whole piece in I was some way from the fabric. Whatever it wasn't the best photo session. Another reason to feel low!
I didn't make a list today as I knew I wouldn't do any of the things on it. Later I might go and muse in the workroom and that hopefully will cheer me up. Especially if I look into boxes and pull things out from underneath the cupboards. Who knows I might find treasures! I had three photos on the page but one has disappeared. If it turns up it is of the last piece where I used up all the oddments of dye. A real mixture but again in sugared almond colours.
And the time is now half an hour off!

Friday, July 22, 2005

End of the day!

So how much of the list got done? Not a lot! I did go to the bank and was fortunatel enough to find a parking space immediately and not too far away. In fact I was early and the bank wasn't yet open so I bought some groceries and Danish pastries and then did the banking. I was home before 9.30! Had a quick visit with my Mum who lives down the road and was home by 10.00 All ready to start on the rest of the list when my daughter rang. A problem! So by the time I had finished helping her it was 11.00. Already my morning has been eroded! So I didn't get the blocks cut out, let alone sewn. I did sort the fabric for the bag and I embroidered two pieces. This took until 12.30 as I hadn't realised that one of the digitised designs I'd chosen was going to take over 30 minutes to stitch out. I didn't have time to try hanging the 'Cherries' wall hanging so you can come out from under your desk Emily as I'm still safe and sound! In fact in the interests of safety I think I'll wait until there is someone else here as well! So then I had my lunch, changed my clothes and by 1.10 after faffing about with bits and pieces of things to do I was ready to go to work! Which is no doubt why the lists of yore also rarely got done. Erosion, that's what I suffer from, erosion! How I ever get any orders out I don't know!

This evening though I have achieved a lot. Being on my own as Martin works Friday nights, I decided to get an early start on the dyeing, particularly as I wanted to lay out lengths of fabric on the dining room table to dye/paint. To put your minds at rest gentle reader as they would say in Victorian books of days gone by, I first put a plastic sheet over the table and then on top of this a sheet of acrylic which used to be a fridge/freezer door cover. Waste not, want not being my motto and it comes in very handy now for all sorts of things. I am really pleased with this session though I think I might have been a bit mean with the dye and have a lighter in places look than was intended. Have to wait until it comes out of the washing machine. I've gone for stripes; well that was the objective but what I will get could be something different. So this evening has been good and productive!

Found another UFO that I must think about bringing into the light of day. This one is a crazy

patchwork landscape that I started a few years back. It is already for the embellishment but for some reason I never started it. I put layers of net over the sky and parts of the land to soften it. The small strip of sea is a satin which has a gleam to it as if light is shining on it. I rather think I intended this to be a night scene with moonlight and shadows, and fancied using silver threads to be reflections and highlights. It is really quite nice as it is and if framed would look interesting. I might just machine stitch it over a batting to give a quilted look and turn it into a picture. The more I look at it the more I like it. It is time for it to hang on the wall and become important!

And interestingly the clock is now nearly an hour out! So has the world been turning extra quickly and I haven't noticed? Help, stop the world I want to get off!

Dear Diary!

I find I am treating this more and more like a diary. Making sure that I record my progress work wise and keep up to the mark with the creative flow. All this and I was never a diary person. And now I find I am seeing it as an aide memoire to the things I want to do in the day. So while eating my porage I'm thinking of what I'd like to accomplish today. Whether I do or not will have to wait until tonight to take a count! I have noticed other bloggers give themselves to do lists. It is a good thing to get into the habit of doing. I've been doing it for years in notebooks and to my shame I came across one such notebook from last year and saw that a lot of the to do items hadn't ever been done. Well so they couldn't have been very important is what my other self says! As a Gemini I find that the two of me's have different goals! (grin)

1. Finally get to the Bank!
2. Cut out next block.
3. Sew next block.
4. Cut out fabric for 'Perfect Bag' (gift for friend)
5. Sew 'Perfect Bag'
6. Put in nail above stairs (trying hard not to commit hari kari) and hang Cherries wall hanging.

So if I'm never heard from again its because I fell into the stair well while trying to hammer in nail while leaning precariously over while standing on the linen chest on the landing. There must be an easier way! But it isn't asking Martin who would immediately have three reasons as to why this isn't the place to hang it!

Just to note that the clock is accurate again this morning! C'est curieux!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Read it!

Well I finally got the book printed out - with printing on both sides was 188 pages and took forever. I continued when I got back from work at 5.30 and it wasn't finished until nearly 9.oo! But it was a good book and once into it I found it exciting enough that it held my attention. It was much on the same lines as books by Phyllis Whitney and Isabelle Holland. So not deep! It wasn't quite the same as reading a real book and I felt a bit freaky reading this big print but hey, it did make it easy for someone who needs reading glasses! But I don't think I'll be doing any more of this e book thing as I like the feel of a book in my hand. And I like to read books over and over again ...with a few years in between of course. I have nearly all the Erle Stanley Gardner collection and even when re-reading I don't remember the plot. Martin says this is because I haven't read it thoroughly the first time. He might have a point there as I do tend to speed read! I can't imagine a world without books. I like to escape into another place and leave this life of mine behind for a while. I learnt to read when I was 3 and I've been reading ever since. I must have about 2000 books fiction and non-fiction. And I keep getting rid of them in a clearing frenzy for fear the weight of them will bring the ceilings down! And still they multiply! I could probably start a library! Have just read the Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and wanted to re-read the Moonstone only to remember that my daughter borrowed it and then had the bag it was in stolen! Things like this are irritating!

I have to make a comment about the time. When I looked this morning it was spot on. Earlier this evening it was five minutes slow and now it is half an hour slow. Why? Tomorrow morning it will be spot on again. What happens to it in the afternoon? Does the world speed up and leave it behind? Only to slow down when I'm in bed and not watching it? Who knows!

Well its back to the UFO's. Having been happily free machining away I might actually continue with this one as I'm in the mood for this kind of stitching. The base painting wasn't marvellous but I hoped I could transform it with stitchery. Perhaps I can!

Oh the Annoyance of it!

Have just discovered that the book I bought from Amazon was an 'e' book! So now I have to print out 376 pages and I've found that they will only print Landscape way on or else I get a small amount of writing in the middle of each page! It is meant for A5 paper but I don't have enough and at that size the print is so small I'd need a magnifying glass! Wish I hadn't bothered now! And will it print out before I have to leave for work? Or will I only have half a book done! So far I'm only on Chapter 3 and there are 23 altogether! Oh what a pain! And I was so looking forward to having something to read. Anyone seeing the size of the typeface will think I have a real problem with my eyesight! If its printed 50 pages in 20 minutes how long will it take to print 376? Hmm. Maths was never my strong point.............but I know it is going to take longer than I have. Oh rats!

Cherries....Finished! The bottom IS straight-it must have caught on the curtain!  Posted by Picasa


Well having done nothing but think about this wall hanging for the last three days I can now start to lead a normal life again. I added some net and tulle. Some of the net I cut out as leaf shapes and put partly over some of the leaf shapes and then over it all I put a ragged diagonal of tulle. Just tulle, no embroidery on it. Then I stitched and stitched to give shape and form, and to hold bits down. So its finished! Well its as finished as it will ever be. It has taken approximately five hours of actual physical sewing and most of my life in the last few days in thought and introspection. I have even been dreaming about it! And yes I think I like it. Though from the paucity of comments it would appear that no one else is terribly impressed with it! My husband liked it before I did anything to it! So be it! I needed to do it. I did it and now having given birth to it I can go back to my everyday basic existence. However it has fired me with enthusiasm for fusing and the next piece I do will have more pre-planning and thought and probably take longer than five hours to execute. This was very much a spur of the moment thing to satiate a need to experiment.

Now I shall go and make coffee, have lunch and go to work. I am very disappointed that the book I ordered from Amazon hasn't arrived. On the QA list someone had at the bottom of their post Read my Book! Its called Hold Back Time and is supposed to be a mystery. As it was less than £5 I decided to buy it but it hasn't arrived yet even though Amazon said they posted it Monday! Wail!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My tiny workroom!  Posted by Picasa

Driven to Create!

Well I didn't go to the bank today! The money that should have been transferred to pay the tax wasn't there and if it isn't there tomorrow I shall be having a hissy fit. Fortunately I have time! Not a lot but some! So I stayed at home and got stuck into the Piece with a capitol p. This is now going under the name Cherries. I firstly added the gold mesh and liked the look of it so free machined it with gold embroidery thread. I have to say three cheers for Gutermann gold thread on a large 5000m cop because not once did it break and I did a lot and fast. In fact I filled three bobbins for the gold alone. Then I added the circles of distressed rayon. One factor I hadn't taken into account and this is where sampling is a good thing as I tell my students, was that some of the lovely bubbles were flattened by the stitching. When I stood back to look at it they so looked like cherries that I added stalks and hence the new name! Added some lovely floaty yarn in pink and pale mauve on the pinky leaf shapes for the centre vein and ditto with a bubbly green/blue yarn which I had hand-dyed some time ago, on the green leaves. It is so good to be able to find just what one needs when one needs it. Then I wasn't sure in which direction to go. So I put Markal paintstick rubbings across the seam lines to break up the solid colours. This I was pleased with but felt it needed more. But what? I had to go to work this afternoon as I do every afternoon and left it hanging on the wall. Well I have three options now:
1. Stitch over it as it is using a straight stitch in a sideways movement.
2. Overlay with tulle which has had leaves machine stitched onto it with the embroidery module. 3. Use a pattern stitch and make a broken grid across the straight lines.

This shows a mock up of a piece of the tulle layered over the piece on one side. If I use the tulle I'll only do a diagonal piece so that one side is covered and the other isn't. It is interesting to see how the tulle mutes the colours and the contrast with the un-tulled pieces. If I use the tulle I would then over stitch. The biggest problem here is the small space I'm working in. It is very hard to get far enough back to really see how things are looking. But I'm having fun and really enjoying how this is going. I have to say that writing and reading blogs have fired up my enthusiasm no end. Suddenly I feel motivated to create again! And unlike my usual pieces this one has been most spontaneous. Just off the top of my head doing what came to me. This is such a liberating way of working.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Couldn't stay away!

Went shopping at Asda tonight. Since they started opening 24 hours we do this every Tuesday evening as it saves ruining a day shopping. As soon as I got back and put everything away I was upstairs in my workroom rummaging for bits for the leaf project. Found some lovely gold mesh and some crinkly gold organza in two shades of gold. Plus some sheets of gold metal from tomato puree tubes. These will be a real asset as they sew well and add another dimension. I might even bake them in the oven first to give them a luminescent look. And I dragged out one of the pieces of rayon I heat treated during my play day that Lisa originated. It is just right for what I want.
These are some of the bits I've got out to audition for the piece tomorrow. I've already stuck a few pieces of gold mesh onto it and the difference is amazing. I shall start on some stitching tomorrow and let it speak to me and then I'll know what else to add. I've decided that the left side needs chopping off. It's unbalanced at the moment. Of course it could always have a wavy edge...................mmm, have to think about that. Well off to drink a glass of wine and cogitate!

Fusing all the way!

Was desperate to do some fusing this morning so when I'd completed three blocks for the quilt in record time I allowed myself to fuse something! I had two pieces of fabric which I really liked which already had Bondaweb on the backs because I had been going to weave them together. Instead I cut each piece into four and neatened the edges. Then I took each four and cut a leaf shape out of the middle. I have to admit that this was done quite roughly. Then I took a piece of cotton fabric and fused the outsides to it in an irregular arrangement. Remember I am doing this all off the top of my head with no pre-conceived ideas. Then I put the leaf shape in the opposite colour into the outline. My workroom is so small that it was difficult to get far enough back to actually take a photograph. I think I am going to trim it on the left hand side. Having done this I had to go to work. But while there I was thinking about what I could do with this beginning. So I sketched out some ideas and made some notes.

The top two sketches on the left are just to remind me of the shapes. I roughly drew out the overall concept and then played with ideas for over embellishing it. I think I'm going to go with cut out gold mesh following the shape of the leaves and rounds cut out of a textured fabric. Some of the lines need softening. I did wonder whether I'd use a digitised design of leaves that I've done over it in a grid pattern. Or even use the design on tulle and then lay that over the design and distress it after its stitched on so that the underneath shows through in places. Whatever this is a very liberating way of working. I would never in a million Sundays have considered piecing a design like this. Too much hassle!
This is a picture of the machine digitised leaves on tulle which I laid over a piece of dyed cotton poly that has stamped leaf shapes in disperse dye on it. It could have been ironed but I was in rush. I needed something so that the leaves would show up and this seemed ideal picking up on the leaf theme. This piece was done using metallic FS2/2 machine embroidery thread by Madeira which is a bit thicker than normal and sews like a dream. This colour might work very well with the colours in the base piece.
I have to go to the bank tomorrow morning but if I hurry I might be able to grab a couple of hours to do some work on this piece. It is screaming to be let out so I must get on with it while the muse is hot. Its probably afraid that it might end up in the UFO pile! No doubt those UFO's sitting on the worktop have been talking to it! (Grin!) But I can see this as a wall hanging and know where it will go too! I shan't put any UFO's up tonight as it might be an omen! A bad one!

Monday, July 18, 2005

At last the rain!

Now why should I be pleased its raining when that's what it's done all year! Trouble with we Brits is we are never satisfied! But the garden was grateful. And it meant I could be inside in my workroom without any guilty asides that I ought to be outside making the most of the sun.

So what did I do in my workroom? Not a lot! I digitised a ribbon design and put it onto a T-shirt for my grand-daughter Fenella. The large version looks good but the scaled down version for the sleeve ends isn't quite so wonderful. But to do the sleeve ends I needed to use the free arm attachment and that only works with the small hoop and the small hoop needs small designs and so.............. Fenella won't care but her mother will no doubt make comments!

I have this urge to a) do some fusing and b) make some postcards. So I shall probably combine the two things and play tomorrow. I have to see my Mum but after that I'll have some time for me. I have some pelmet Vilene which will be ideal for the inside of the postcard. I have a whole roll of it and have been wondering what I'd use it for. Originally I bought it for Christmas decorations and hand made journals but a whole roll was a little too much. It is stiff without being rock hard and needles well.

In the meantime I must bring another UFO into the light of day. This is a piece of calico stamped with fabric stamps. It was intended for a wall hanging after being suitably machined over. I visualised weeds and sequins on the fish for scales for starters. I made the stamps because I'd found some lovely self stick rubber at our local Scrap Store and I cut this into shape and stuck it to wooden blocks. I still have them. Scrap Stores are marvellous things. They work on the principle that businesses will donate unwanted or damaged stuff and then schools, anyone in education, playgroups etc will pay a small fee and then can help themselves to as much stuff as they want. It is a great source for card, paper, containers, as well as unusual things such as casings for various electrical objects and this lovely rubber which is used as cushioning in said electrical objects. One time I was able to get a whole load of tea bag paper which is wonderful for dyeing, sewing over and using as stabiliser. It is no wonder that my workroom and the overflow room look like the lost property office at Charing Cross Station! I even picked up a few soles of shoes from a shoe factories cast offs because the patterns were wonderful and I could see them being useful as stamps. I have boxes of washers and tubes which I know sometime I will discover a desperate need for. And I can't get rid of anything just in case it will be useful in the future when its no more to be found! I've had that happen to me!

Sunday, July 17, 2005


I've just done a Blue Pyramid quiz. This is the Take The Country quiz -sounds just like me. And I can't remember which blog I found it on so I can't at the moment give credit where credit is due. Sorry! Off to do another quiz! I love them!

You're Fiji!

As calm, relaxed, and removed from life as they come, you're just so
chilled out, it hurts people to see you. Everyone aspires to be where you are, but
most of them just can't put their stress away. Little do they know that even you
sometimes have inner turmoil and struggles! For the most part, though, it's sun and
fun for you, and that's the way you like it. It's just sort of hard to get things
done with all that partying.

the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

A Very Good Day!

Today has been good! The weather is cooler with a nice refreshing breeze and I've spent most of the day so far updating my website. Of the yucky boring fabrics I got from my dyeing session yesterday there were a few exciting pieces. One of these was just like the vaulting in a cathedral. The picture doesn't show it at its best. Do they ever? I really like this piece and it will be hard to part with it. There were also some lovely squared pieces in longer lengths with interesting bubble marks and lines. And a piece that looked just as if chains had been laid over it. The picture below doesn't show this in enough detail unfortunately. Anyway the day wasn't totally wasted. The more boring and mudane of the pieces I'll over paint with fabric paints or discharge and re-dye. To be honest I don't think my mind was really on what I was doing. The colours were on the whole dark. But they will be useful additions to the collection.

I then made a page with a collection of quilts done by one of my students. These are mainly cot quilts and in delicate colours. She doesn't have a website and I said I'd put them up for her. So nice to be making a new page rather than adding to or generally rearranging an old page. And so much quicker. I ought to really start from scratch and get rid of all the old formating so that it is simpler to do.

Today's UFO to be allowed to see the light is this:-

A 20" square of dupion which has been silk painted using a flour and water paste resist. It is in the same scheme of things as the Indian cushions I put up a few days ago. However this one didn't get started on the embellishment for whatever reason. As well as the silk paint in turquoise and purple there is also gold paint on it as well and I though I might use gold metallic thread to free machine all over it and then couch thicker threads in deeper purples and teals with lots of added beads. It could be interesting to fill the circles with beads. Then it would have to be a cushion for interest and not for sitting against as it would be too uncomfortable! At this rate I am never going to be short of something to do!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

To dye badly!

I was not happy with today's dyeing! I haven't rinsed it out yet but I have that feeling that the pieces are going to be mundane and ordinary if not downright boring! I could be pleasantly surprised but more often than not when I feel like this I'm right. I think my choice of colours was the problem. I used Cerise, Raspberry and Intense Red which gave me a good range of Red/Pinks and then Navy, Electric Blue and Royal. Should have had some turquoise in there as the purples and mauves were on the muddy aubergine shades and not clear! There were a few 'pretty' colours but I don't want pretty colours. I like brights and intense! However we shall see. I've not had a piece yet that I haven't been able to save by overdyeing and often some of the muddier colours become my favourites as they provide such foils for the brights I love. Trouble is its too hot! And I think my brain is becoming affected by the heat. Today I put on a pair of prescription sunglasses and immediately thought 'oh my God, my eyesight is disintegrating at the rate of knots!' Everything was streaked with light and these were sunglasses. Took them off and found out that one of the lenses had dropped out! See, I'm not all there!
Had a suggestion for one of yesterdays UFO's which was to leave it as it was! Thank you Sharon B for that as it is a suggestion right up my street. So that's one sorted! Love it! Today's offering is a piece that I started in a workshop to demonstrate using nappy liners with mixed media. You may not be able to see in the close up but I used wisps of dyed fleece as well as paper and fabric scraps. The stitching is done in a metallic thread. I really must continue with this piece as it has such possibilities.

I love these two colours, violet and yellow together. I used wax crayons to do some rubbings on the nappy liner and then melted it into the base fabric with an iron on hot and using a silicone sheet. The stitching so far is just an ordinary zigzag stitch using turquoise metallic thread. I shall finish across the piece in a similar vein but after that I'm not sure which direction I'll go in. I fancy some beads in there, especially some rolled flower petal beads. (See an earlier post for details) Writing about these UFO's is proving to be very liberating and inspiring me all over again. For the Topsy Turvey Forest piece I'm going to stitch eyes all over it. Eyes of wild animals looking out of the undergrowth. I got the idea for this while I was sitting in the garden last night drinking a glass of wine and meditating. There was a cat under a bush and all I could see were the eyes looking at me and suddenly the idea came to me. I didn't leap into the air crying Eureka but almost! Tried to say YES out loud with a mouthful of wine! Wasn't a good idea and a waste of good wine! Off to read A Taste for Death by P D James while I wait for the dyes to wash out. Well first I'm going to rinse them and put in washing machine and THEN read book! Have just got to an exciting part!