Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I have not been able to do anything at all creative since Friday. I spent the weekend moving furniture out of the living room into the garage and what wouldn't fit in the garage has gone into the dining area. See middle row of pictures. It is like living in a caravan! No it's worse than living in a caravan! There is no room to move. And that is Martin's computer set up. Fortunately mine is upstairs and I can still get at it...just! On Sunday we ripped up the carpet and rolled it up in strips and put it into dustbin bags. The wonderful dustmen took it away today! Underneath the grotty carpet was an even grottier tiled floor. The colour was sick beige! Then on Monday the wallpaper came off and under that was pale duck-egg blue paint. Actually the hanging strips of wallpaper as seen in picture 1 were quite inspiring and I have some good ideas for a something! Watch this space but don't hold your breath. We have a long way to go yet. Then last night there was the tidying up and sanding down and I went to bed exhausted. Today the first coat of paint went on the walls and the covings were done. Martin is putting on the second coat of paint on the walls as we speak....well as I write to be more accurate! As you can see it is a definite improvement. Tomorrow we start to lay the floor. We have solid light oak wood and it should look good. Then the gloss gets painted. After that all the furniture has to come back and the furniture from the dining area has to also be fitted in while we lay floor in there and then in the hall. Just writing about it makes me feel very very tired! And I haven't mentioned the cupboard that we are building in the alcove nearest the dining area and the shelves above! So I don't think a lot of anything else will get done this week. I'm just glad I got the TIF challenge finished in time!

Friday, January 25, 2008


I have finished the TIF challenge! It is perhaps not as detailed as I might have made it had I not had so much else going on at the same time but it has ended up as I visualised it which is a good thing I suppose! I wanted to keep it simple as I have good intentions of working further with this concept and perhaps doing another piece or pieces. I think it has great possibilities so I will continue to work designs around this idea in my sketchbook and hope for some free time to actually get down to sewing them out. The picture isn't brilliant and I don't know how much detail can be seen. If I could do one part again I would do the satin stitching on the leaves differently and I would make the twisting stem of cord and not stitch it as doing the twists was a pain. Hopefully by December I will have perfected the actual putting together of my designs. Did I enjoy doing it? Yes, very much so and it made me look at colour and shapes in a completely different way for me. I saw the purple and mauve as shadows which complemented the beige of the columns and the background colour being the colour of a murky sky viewed through a haze of leafy shapes. I'm now looking forward to February's challenge. But first I've got to get through the trauma of laying the floor, decorating, clearing up and preparing for the enslaught of the family! Oh what fun!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Faux Chenille

I have just spent the last two hours in the attic so no time to take pictures of the cushions. But here is one of the bags which I made last year. The fabric was layered five deep and then the flowers laid on top. I used several colours to get the petal effect. Then I stitched across the whole thing diagonally. I used a Clover channel slicer which did the job in next to no time and then after a go in the washing machine, voila a piece of faux chenille.
When Martin and his friend Kieran layed the floor in the attic they did a side at a time and just moved the boxes etc from one side to the other. I am now going through a tightly packed heap of stuff and trying to make an organised plan. What I'm finding is though that their tightly packed heap is turning into a large sprawling mess. And this even though I'm chucking stuff as I go! Eventually it will all be neat and tidy! I hope!

Rush,rush, rush!

I'm feeling pressurised! Today we bought wooden flooring to lay across most of the downstairs of our house. On Monday a guy we know who is good at these things is coming to help lay it and also to strip wallpaper and decorate the livingroom. So knowing that the house is going to be turned upside down I have been trying to get as much stuff done as possible. This has meant that the TIF challenge has been put to one side for the time being. It is a proper piece now, being backed with neat edges. I bagged it out as I decided not to put binding on and it is looking good. Now I need to applique the leaves on and do whatever quilting I decide on. There is the rub...how am I going to quilt it?
Added to my general feeling of stress is the fact that the week after next Caroline comes down with the two grands. Much as I am looking forward to seeing her I am also dreading not being finished in time. Perhaps I could carcerate all three of them in the attic! Just joking!
This week on Friday we are going to do some faux chenille so to that end I have made two faux chenille cushions using a couple of my whirlpool FQ's. As I am writing this at work I have no pictures but they look good and I am pleased with them. They will fit in the newly decorated living room. I have several tote bags where I have used faux chenille as panels and I have to say that I do like the effect. If I have time tonight I'll post some pictures.
I have changed my email as my provider at the moment has been taken over and I have decided to move. It is valeri.b@farnedesigns.co.uk and is linked to my website so should be OK. I say that because for the last few days my website has been down and my email wasn't working. When I queried this it was because they had suspended the site due to non-payment of registration fee. As I paid this in October for two years I was a tad upset! They re-instated the site but there was not a word of apology for causing me such grief. Yet when I had a problem several years ago they couldn't have been more helpful or more concerned. How things have changed!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Yet more quizzes!

You're Not Exactly a Hippie...

While you're not a hippie, you've got the spirit of one.
Like most hippies, you have deep beliefs and unusual interests.

You may not buy into hippie fashions, music, or heavy drug use.
But at heart, you are a free spirit and suspicious of the status quo.
Are You a Hippie?

Well no I'm not really a hippie. When I was an art student I was more of a bohemian. The last line says it all! Again I have Gabrielle to thank for this. I'm a sucker for these quizzes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On being organised!

I felt that now was a good time to re-read the above book. Of all the self motivation books there are out there I like this one best. It is easy to read and is such sound common sense. Working on the premise that lists are good I have been making lists for all eventualities. A list of what I hope to achieve by this time next year and then that broken down into what I hope to achieve this month and then this week and lastly day by day. According to the book those who plan ahead get on better and with more to show for their activities. I haven't only looked at long term goals but also at things that need to be done soon or in the not too distant future. And I've broken everything down into importance categories. In fact I feel really pleased with myself.
One of my long term goals is to teach myself Spanish and breaking this down into sizable mouthfuls means I learn 4 words a day! This is good! This is about what I can manage! The first words I have learnt are the Spanish for 'where', 'what', 'how' and 'when'. I didn't realise at the time but these are good words in relation to my quilting-sewing work. Where am I going with this design? What am I going to use for fabric, thread, etc? How am I going to put it all together and when am I going to do it? I must remember this when starting a new piece and I will be starting new pieces because one of my other long term goals is to achieve a new piece of work each month and end up with at least 12 items by this time next year. Along with the weight loss and the tidy and decorated house etc etc. I just love making these lists; isn't it a pity that I'm not so good on following through. Perhaps now I've told it to the world I'll feel shamed into getting it all done!
But the TIF challenge is coming on. I have found it a challenge as it has made me question my decisions so that I move away from safe and simple and try something different. At the moment I'm not sure how to stitch on my piece. Do I machine stitch or hand stitch? Something free and curvy or straight and restrained? I am working with two ideas in my head. The elegance and solid vision of Greek ruins and the wildly spiraling and curving ivy and vines that find their way onto these uptight stones. Perhaps a bit of both? I shall sleep on it. As Scarlet O'Hara said 'tomorrow is another day'.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A bit of fun!

You Are 96% Creative

You are an incredibly creative person. For you, there are no bounds or limits to your creativity.
Your next creation could be something very great... Or at least very cool!
How Creative Are You?

Saw this on Gabrielle's blog and had to have a go! Of course it's all true!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More TIF Challenge!

I was able to work more on the TIF challenge today even though it was a day fraught with problems. The first one was that the paper recycling people came at the crack of dawn or even before that it was so dark. I noticed the flashing yellow light on their cart and looked out to be horrified as I had nothing by the side of the road but a large, no an enormous pile of cardboard blocking my hallway. So in the howling gale and spitting rain and in my dressing gown I hauled all the stuff out just in time! My neighbour wasn't so lucky as the wind caught one of her bags and tins and plastic bottles blew everywhere. And then second trauma of the day, Martin's car wouldn't start so I had to give him a tow. I was dressed by this time but he had to have two goes as the first time he turned the engine off again to see if it would re-start. It didn't! Eventually I was able to have breakfast and get under way.
After all this I found it relaxing working on the piece and very therapeutic. So far I like what I've done though I haven't done any stitching yet and the leaves and thread are only placed over the fused pieces. Tomorrow is a teaching day but perhaps tomorrow evening I'll be able to do a bit more. I'm thinking of a border in the deeper purple. Only a small one but I think it will set it off.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Under Way!

I have started! That is half the battle; actually cutting into the fabric and laying it out. I fused all the fabric and then cut the pieces out and layed them in place. In the photo the pieces have curled up because they still have the paper in place. Tomorrow I will fuse them and then the piece will begin to come alive. I'm finding this really quite exciting and enjoying working on it. Suddenly I find that I am motivated and full of ideas regarding this piece. Shall I use the yarns I found as embellishment? Could the green thread be used to link the leaves together? What if I put a border on and let the leaves fall outside the piece onto the border or even be free-form and dangle from the bottom. There are so many what-ifs! But it is beginning to be real to me and I am just thankful that we have a whole month to work on it as I think I'll need that time to come to a successful conclusion. I do like what I've done so far and that is always a bonus!
Not a lot else is being done! Is that surprising! I am trying to organise my wardrobe. I bought a lot of clothes in the sales. I'm amazed that Marks and Spencers had such a poor time in the sales as I would have thought that the amount I bought would have kept their shares in the black for a long time! Now I have to find clothing that I can get rid of to make room for the new. I have been looking on the web for 'wardrobe planners' where one can list all the clothes in one's wardrobe but to no avail. I shall have to design something myself so that at a glance I can see what I have, what colour it is and what pieces work well together. This would save so much time and cut the agonising over what to wear.
In a previous post's comments Wanda said of putting boxes in the attic that that was fine as long as one marked the boxes. Cleverly I marked the boxes but now I can't think what the descriptions belong to. How clever is that! Words such as 'files', photos (when one has several boxes marked thus),stuff!?!, old stuff and paper have so many meanings. I obviously thought I knew what I was doing at the time! Ah well..my head will never save my body!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Looking back; looking forward!

I am having to work on my laptop as I don't want to go upstairs and work in the cold. And the lovely log fire is too nice to leave! So I have no pictures available of current stuff. However I found this picture I took last summer and thought what a good composition it would make for a landscape piece of work. Especially one done in an abstract manner. The blocks at the forefront of the picture are so strong and have such fantastic shapes. The hint of white foam on the waves and the contrast of the various blues all are inspirational in their own way. So I'm glad I was hunting through files as this will be something I work on soon. And also there is the promise of another summer to come. Something to look forward to.
I have enlarged the drawing for the TIF challenge and will work at about 14 x 9. This is a good size as it is large enough to convey what I want to say but small enough that I won't get bored! Depending on how this piece ends up it is also a good size for a table mat! I could end up with 12 different 'arty' table mats! Could be worse! I have a free morning tomorrow so will try and get the pieces cut out and fused. How did we manage before bondaweb? I know I was a great fan of Pritt Stick but it still meant lots of outline sewing to keep the pieces from shifting.
I have noticed that as I lose weight so I am becoming unbearably energetic and enthusiastic! But I am not becoming a weight loss fanatic (over a stone so far!)as I'm off now to eat a piece of fudge! Yummy! And I can't really say I'm doing a lot of exercise....a bit of Salsa dancing now and then!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

More doodling!

I had found the photograph of part of a ruined Greek temple while clearing out and had stuck it in the corner of the mirror in the room where my computer now lives. This was one of a series of photos that my father took in the 1930's. The mirror is even older! I was struck by the idea of temples and blocks for the Challenge - Take it Further, so I did some rough sketches playing with ideas this brought forth. They were lightly done and I have shown pictures of the later ones. I think this one is the one I am going to run with. I like the idea of vines trailing across the piece. Every ruin I have seen has had vines or ivy running riot over all or parts of it and I will be able to bring in the green fabric. The purple and lilac fabrics will represent shadows. The roof recess and the floor inside. The eu-de-nil shade will be the sky except that the fabric I have is more akin to a light turquoise. The next stage will be to work out how big I want to work. Certainly not larger than A4 landscaped, but I did wonder whether it might work as postcard art. In fact I'm sure it would but is that what I want? I am concerned that the process is rapidly overtaking the action! This page below is from an earlier sketch book that I did using other photos from this collection as inspiration.

Today we went to Trago's, our local buy it while you see it store. And while Martin perused the basement for motor bits I went to the art section and found a box with 110 felt tips for £1.79. (About $4 perhaps a bit less) Imagine my dismay when I got home to find that the top layer which was visible was all I was going to get colourwise as the underneath layers were all repeats! What a swizz! There I was imagining all kinds of nuances of colour with the usefulness of being able to shade from one colour to another. Made in China of course! Not that there is anything wrong with them, I just feel let down! I was restrained. They were the sum total of my arty buying. Oh well. I can feel virtuous about that!

Saturday, January 05, 2008


This was really weird as it was so accurate. Well almost so accurate. I wouldn't say that I was that hyper but the end is definitely more me than the beginning.
If you want to see what your name says about you have a look at Deb's blog for the link.

What Valeri Means

You are very hyper. You never slow down, even when it's killing you.
You're the type of person who can be a workaholic during the day... and still have the energy to party all night.
Your energy is definitely a magnet for those around you. People are addicted to your vibe.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.
You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

Friday, January 04, 2008


The first week back at work went very quickly. Well it would because I only did the last two days in the week! Next week is going to seem soooooo long! The first class of this term went well this morning and everyone is up to scratch with their sampler quilts. It amazes me that this quilt
could look so different so many times. Each student worked out their own colour scheme and they range from seaside bright to Mexican adobe art in themes. When they are finished I will take pictures. This is the one I've been working along with them as a demonstration model. It too looks completely different. Some of the students have chosen to do the large quilt and others are only doing the centre part as a throw. This one is only the centre and is all pinned ready for quilting. Not the best of pictures as I had no where to really lay it out.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cold and without!

It has been bitterly cold today though we are lucky not to have had the snow that they have had in other parts of the country. However it was very windy and wet as well so not a good day to be without my car. I kept telling myself, as I walked to work, that the walk was doing me so much good and that it would be perfectly possible for me to have a mince pie with my coffee which I wouldn't have done if I'd driven. Well it worked for me! And thankfully I was able to collect my car this evening as I will need it for the class tomorrow morning. The amount of stuff I take is legion!
There is a lovely roaring fire downstairs and I really didn't want to come up into the cold spare bedroom to check my emails but I made myself do it. And then I had a little play with the colours in the challenge in one of my paint packages. This was fun but I was too cold to do much. It is hard to keep to the exact colours and I wasn't working in Photoshop where I could have used the colour numbers or the dropper tool to get the right colours. However they are close. I quite like the idea of ragged edges and shapes. I wonder if this would work with layering and then free machine quilting round the shapes. I also spent some time looking at pictures of water and oil pollution and got some ideas there as well, in case I want to do a more factual piece. One thing I will say for this challenge is that it is making me think! However the cold has defeated me tonight and I must away to the fire and my knitting! The rocking chair beckons!

NB The strip at the top is the colour control panel!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

This and that!

I spent some time today looking through my stash for fabrics which matched the 'challenge' colours. Some I was able to get spot on but the eau de nil colour second in from the left was difficult and the piece I've got is more turquoise. It was the best I could do so I won't use a lot of this. I have made a rule that I am only going to use what is to hand so if I can't be exact then the nearest match will have to do. Also I found some interesting yarn and beads that might work in well. So far so good! Now to think of the 'what'. I might pull some photos out of my album for inspiration. I'm still thinking water. It doesn't help that the printer has not caught the colours exactly as they appear on the screen. But I feel a start has been made.

I have given up on the socks. I think this wool was too ambitious for a sock knitting beginner. So it is now being knitted into a strip. I'm not calling it a scarf as it might end up as a luxurious hot water bottle cover. If it makes it to scarfdom then it will be very soft and cosy. It is easy to knit with and I am using big wooden needles so it should grow apace. I hope so!
I have continued with the clearances and now have a wonderfully tidy sock-stocking drawer, scarf drawer and lingerie drawer; and my makeup is all tidy and findable. We went into Truro this afternoon and I was again beguiled by the sales and bought some more tops which had been reduced even further and some small 'really useful' plastic boxes in several sizes. I will be so organised soon that I just won't know myself. Long may it continue. Back to work tomorrow and I have to walk as my car is at the garage being fitted up for its annual M.O.T. But we won't talk about that as it is a fraught subject.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Years Day

This is the batch of dyeing I did yesterday. They were mostly overdyes except for the control colours. Among them I got what I call Victorian Wallpaper pieces. I've marked a couple with a black cross. I actually like these pieces as they can be just what is needed in a quilt or an appliqué and they are marvellous for leaves.
The selection below are some colours that were piled up in the ironing pile together and I thought what a great collection. So I have put them by to work with. I think they will be ideal for my series on Lemons! The trouble with fabric is that one has to really be able to see and touch it to really appreciate it. Pictures just don't cut it!

This is the 1st January and the first of the the Take it Further challenge set by Sharon B. When I read it my brain died! Too much, too soon. But then on reading it again I decided that it would have to be the colour. There are too many people who's work I admire and choosing one would be hard. So colour it is. These are colours that I don't often put together but do like. They are not as bright as I would normally use so this will be a new experience. At the moment I am thinking water, oil and feathers. But I have decided to make whatever I do abstract; keep it fairly small (no bigger than A3); and work in a sketch book. This last may be my intention now but could fall by the wayside as I am an intuitive 'artist' and tend to work directly onto the surface being fabric or paper. Lots of 'on the way' photos! When I look back next January what will I feel/think? What will I have learnt? Who knows!