Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I love, love, love, my hand embellisher!

First sample using cotton on cotton and glittery yarn.

Stockings waiting to be made up; embellished with felt and glittery yarn.

The edging round the embellished star is faux chain stitch done on the sewing machine. It makes a great finishing touch to appliqued things.

I bought a small hand embellisher at the Mylor Quilt exhibition because I'd always wanted one! And then I bought the base unit for it when I was shopping with a friend at a local quilt shop. Isn't it amazing - she suggested we go and I was the one who spent a fortune! Big grin! But I love everything I bought which is the main thing. And then of course having the tools to embellish I started to play and oh boy isn't it so easy and so addictive and just so wonderful. The first thing I did was embellish onto the felt stockings I was making and not having read the instructions thoroughly I actually embellished cotton fabric onto the felt and it worked. However when I read the instructions in depth it recommended wool on wool so I had another go with the piece of felted knitting above. This was a piece my Mum knitted for me with boucle wool on her knitting machine and then boil washed it to felt it. The texture is great. For the sample (above) I used hand dyed fleece which I teased out and just embellished it on. When I find my carders I'll try a more formal approach though I was pleased with the transparency and randomness of the teased out fleece. The random result was reminiscent of a flower bed although the second red flower in from the right is the spitting image of a cockerel's head and now I've seen that in it I can't get it out of my mind! But it is only a play piece. I shall do more...lots more and try different and various fabrics and threads. The felt the tools are sitting on is a piece I made and incorporated some pink strands of wool. I have added a little more with the embellisher but I can see this as a rainbow piece and will work on it later. Both pieces would make lovely little purses with silk linings! And the tools are so small I could carry them around and do this anywhere! Wonderful! I am truly hooked!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Outing

The exhibition that the Mylor Quilting Group put on was very good, especially considering what a small group it is. From the top the first two pictures are of quilts made by a couple of my ex-students. I was impressed with both of them and a lot of work had gone into their making. The third picture is of my friend Yvonne with whom I went to the exhibition. The first picture in the middle row was done by the group to represent the village. I have put a couple of close ups. Mylor is a small village at the head of one of the creeks off the River Fal. Being a tidal creek it gets cut off at low tide and beware the novice mariner as the mud isn't far beneath the surface of the water. But very attractive and has a lovely very old church of which I've posted photos in the past. This was a most interesting piece of work and the more I looked the more I saw. The first close up is of Pandora's Inn which is an old hostelry going way back with old beams and thick uneven walls. A great place for a drink on a summer's evening. Being so near to Christmas there were lots of Christmassy items around which made it all very jolly. Yvonne and I had the obligatory coffee and cake. It is a given that going to a quilt exhibition means coffee and cake, especially as the cake is always home made. Delicious!
And the last two pictures, one of which has lost it's top, are of the bottle bags I've been making. Nothing fantastic just very useful and taking no more than 20 minutes to make from start to finish. The first one is made using strips of Christmassy fabric and the other one is just one fabric. Both have gussetted bottoms made by sewing across the seams and tie with a ribbon in a casing at the neck. Simple but useful.
Of course I had to spend money at the sales table at the exhibition and bought myself a hand embellisher. I have been wanting one of these for some time just so that I could have a little play and see whether it was something I'd use more than once. I don't have the base unit but reckon it could be done over a deep nail brush or similar. Perhaps a hair brush would be better. I find it strange when things are sold without the complete kit but perhaps they didn't realise there was a second part to it. I have been leaning to the traditional lately and this really isn't me so it will be good to get back to a more free form, arty approach to productivity. I'm going to see if I can apply holly leaves to felt using this method. Worth a try!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Keeping Busy!

This is this year's table runner. It has a musical theme and if I'd had enough of the blue centre fabric I would have used this instead of the sky blue triangles on the edge. I over stamped the sky blue with gold but it wasn't a success. But by using a gold thread and quilting over it the end result isn't too bad. This was very easy to do. I've put a close up underneath to show the basic pattern. It was fun to do but this year I am not going to make masses of them. That was last year's project. This year I am hoping to use some photo printed fabric and make wall hanging pockets. I have the design drawn out so it's just a question of finding the time to get started. The weekend stretches ahead of me so perhaps by Monday I'll have done something, even if it's only getting the photos printed onto the fabric.
It is very cold here and we will probably get a frost tonight which makes me wonder if we are going to have a cold and frosty Christmas. In many ways I hope not as my son Andrew will be driving down from Scotland and icy roads won't be fun at all. As a child living in Kent we often had snowy Christmases and it was great fun but then children don't have the responsibilities that adults have. Since becoming an adult (like last week!) I've never felt the same about snow as it causes such problems. It is easy to forget how much one enjoyed as a child that now doesn't have the same glamour as it once did. Skinny dipping at midnight is another young pursuit that springs to mind!
Tomorrow I am going to a quilt show with a friend which will be fun. As well as the joy of seeing quilts etc I am looking forward to browsing around the sales tables looking for stocking fillers. It never fails to amaze me that beautifully made items are sold off at rock bottom prices. Prices that don't in many cases cover the cost of the materials. Last year I bought a gigantic stocking with lovely applique all over it for £1! The fabric must have cost more than that! It was ideal for Martin as I could stuff it full of oddly shaped packages. I like to give him a few out of the ordinary gifts that he wouldn't think of buying for himself. Small and inexpensive but conducive of some ribald laughter. It gets harder each year to find these one off pressies! If I remember I will take my camera. The last few exhibitions I've been to I've forgotten it! Too much on my mind!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lacking a little something!

I have noticed that I have been losing subscribers to my blog. Obviously it is no longer as vibrant and interesting as it has been in the past. I'm sorry! Unfortunately there is so much going on of a mundane nature that I don't always or not very often, have anything of great note to write about. I was reading Sharon B's blog: In a Minute Ago and I was fascinated by the reason's people give for not leaving comments on blogs they have read. Which made me think about what it is that makes some blogs so much more readable than others. I have to admit that I have about a hundred blogs in my subscribe list and yet I only read about a half a dozen regularly and they are the ones that are interesting or funny or show good pictures and talk about new techniques. And yet that isn't really it but I can't put my finger on it. There has to be something that gives a blog a certain amount of pull but what is it. Any suggestions? I'd love to know your comments on this. It might give me ideas for saving my own blog from mediocrity!
I spent the morning in the attic clearing one half of it preparatory to boarding in the floor. Basically I moved everything over to the other half and then when one side is done I will move everything back so that the last side can be boarded. I wasn't as lazy as I sound. I did go through lots of boxes and junked masses of stuff. I have so much for the dustman that he will probably turn tail and ignore me! Also I got rid of all those boxes that we all keep which came with our printers, computers, sewing machines, etc. Why do we keep them? They are never used! In future I'm only going to keep them for the period of the guarantee. If the item doesn't go wrong in that time and need sending back then I will jettison the box. After all if they go wrong after the guarantee is ended ten to one it is cheaper to buy a new one. The only exception I will make to this is the box my sewing machine came in. That I will need when I send it back to be serviced. By getting rid of these boxes, and some such as those the monitors came in are gigantic, I have opened up loads of space all ready to take more of the overflow from my previous clear outs. The things I'm not quite ready to move on. Of the boxes I went through today 90% of the stuff was tossed! What does that say about the need to keep stuff! But then if I'd tossed it all at the time I cleared out rooms I'd have lost the 10% I'm still keeping.
I have bought some sheets of foam that when placed on top of the fabric in my embroidery hoop when doing machine embroidered letters will give me a 3-dimensional effect. I can't wait to try it as it will be just what I need for some of my Christmas things. Perhaps I could put giant 3-D letters on the stockings I'm making. If I have time I'll try it tomorrow. Something to look forward to.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Flower fabric

Christmas is rapidly approaching and I have been busy making samples for my Christmas workshop. The garden is still so full of flowers that I made some flower fabric (see top picture). This is so easy to do. Place some silk or a fine fabric on a flat surface. Then take some Bondaweb and place sticky side down onto the silk and iron in place. When cool remove the paper backing. The fabric surface will now feel sticky. Arrange the flowers onto the sticky surface. Cover with a piece of net or tulle. Place another piece of Bondaweb over the net and press. Again when cool remove the paper backing and voila one piece of flower fabric which can be used for all sorts of things. I'm going to use it to make small gift bags. This piece was made last week and I used nasturtiums and they still look fresh. I have a piece that I made several years ago and the flowers still to this day retain their colour. There are some pictures on my website.
Also I am getting quite a collection of Christmas goodies. They have been fun to do although they have taken a while as I'm not yet completely recovered. The standing Christmas tree table decoration I have to admit I made a couple of years ago, and I had started the crazy patchwork stocking earlier so it just needed finishing off. I have had fun making the woven stars. I find that weaving the pattern is so therapeutic. The little bag with the hanging bell charm was so easy to do that I will make loads more to hang on the tree with little chocolates in them. This is a good way to use yo-yo's as tree hangings especially by adding beads to them and I love the pelmet vilene cut out shapes with beads and glitter glue. Again so easy to make and quick. I like quick! Now I have to make felt applique stockings and Christmas bottle gift bags. And I'm hoping to get some photo printing done on fabric and make some hanging letter holders. And its so cold here that if I find time I'd like to use some gorgeous shaggy fur fabric to make a long jerkin.'s always the problem. Finding enough time to fit everything in. I must become more organised!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Almost back to normal!

What is normal? That is the question! Well for me it means not being so tired that half way through doing something I feel as if I'm lifting a ton weight. I never realised that glandular fever could be so debilitating. But I am well on the road to a complete recovery I am happy to say. Thank you to everyone for their good wishes!
I have been reading Gabrielle's blog and was especially struck by her post on what being an artist means to her. I think it was yesterday's post. It made me think about what my creativity means to me. I won't call myself an artist as I am a jack of all trades and if any label were to be applied it would be designer. I like thinking of ways and means of doing things; working out new colour arrangements (I love colour-it is almost my raison d'etre); thinking of new things to make and new ways to get the end result. But I am not compulsive about it all. I suppose one could say that I lack that dedicated driving force that takes the great 'artist' to the top. There is no great burning ambition in my life. As long as I can have my workroom, my tools, fabric and a decent sewing machine then I am happy. In fact I get a lot of satisfaction from just going into my room and looking at things or sitting in the middle of it all and letting my eyes take it all in. This can often galvanise me into starting a new project! There are a lot of things I have in common with Gabrielle's approach especially the bit about self-direction but I am not I'm sorry to say at all focussed. I can be distracted and let my 'art' slip into second or even third place. Books; the garden; the landscape around me (sea and coastline) can all distract me and even though they all represent creativity for me they often take over from the focal point which is what I'm actually making. I can do a lot of thinking but not always a lot of doing. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak as my Granny used to say. I call it Lazy with a capital L! What pulls it all together for me is the teaching. I love to encourage and motivate others to give of their best and achieve work of a greater height than they have before. In fact I'm happy as a sand-boy if my students do well as this is when I know I am putting out my most prolific creative efforts. And at the end of the day there is great satisfaction in knowing that with possibly the help of a book of instructions I can do anything I turn my mind to. Do read Gabrielle's post as it is very thought provoking. How do you feel about your creativity?
I have been starting on small gift ideas for Christmas. The first one to be finished is a scissor holder. I am always losing my scissors or burying them under piles of fabric so I thought this could make a useful gift for my quilting friends. It is so easy to make and a wonderful way of using up odd blocks that don't have a home in a quilt. I used a 6.5 inch Nine Patch block that was left over from another project. I put wadding behind it, chose a toning backing and bagged it out putting in a hanger at the same time. I then quilted it and folded it to shape. So simple and so effective. The first of many! Blogger isn't letting me add a picture and I have to get dinner so I'll try and add it later.

Here it is!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I have just had a nasty bout of glandular fever. At one stage when my glands under my jaw were swollen up I had a quite close resemblance to a hamster! It wasn't a pretty sight. The result of all this is that I now feel quite tired all the time. It took me an age to walk up Falmouth High Street this morning and I did wonder whether I'd make it back to the car. What I need is rest, rest and more rest so I am doing my best to comply by going to bed early and not doing anything strenuous. This is why there has been no progress on the leaves. Sorry! And I am decidedly lacking in enthusiasm for anything. Also this is why I haven't been blogging as often Shirley but I will try and make more of an effort. And sorry Sue but I just don't feel inclined to be tagged. The effort involved is just more than I want at the moment. If all you wanted were seven unknown things about me then I might manage that but to find other people and follow up...well just thinking about it has made me tired! I'm sorry to be a kill joy!
On Monday I went with a group of my students to visit the studios of Atlantic FM which is one of our local radio stations. The setting was idyllic. Right on the headland at Wheal Kitty, St Agnes. Just a short visit but interesting. They were kind enough to do a short spot for me about my new venture into teaching my own classes as opposed to Adult Education classes. So when we were invited to visit I felt it would be rude not to take up the invitation. It was well worth it even though I got lost on the way there and had to reverse several times! They have the original Gus Honeybuns who will mean nothing to the majority of you but for anyone who is Cornish or lived here in the eighties he was a puppet that had a large following of under fives on Westward Television (now defunct!). I managed to get a photo! Also some photos of old mine houses and the bay at Trevaunance Cove. This is very much a tin mining area.

View from the studio over the bay. There is a chimney stack from an old mine in the foreground. The whole of this area would be a mass of tunnels underground.

View of an old mine house, now a ruin. Notice the chimney stack behind the engine house.

Trevaunance Cove

This is Jamie the son of one of my students holding Gus Honeybuns! He is a news reader at the station and gave us the guided tour! Jamie that is, not the rabbit!