Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quilting Samplers

The cot quilt has had to take a back seat as I needed to do some samplers for the quilting class tomorrow. We are going to do freehand feathers which I love doing.

And also I've made some squared samplers of different types of stitching so that one doesn't have to always use stipple quilting or meandering.Not that those stitches arn't useful at times and can be very effective.

I shall finish off the quilt this weekend. I hope it all goes according to plan.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A New Addition to our Family!

Our great niece Camilla Evangeline with her doting Dad! Babies are so cute. I'm always surprised by how tiny they are! And we've also learnt today that my daughter is expecting another child next January. A brother or sister for Fenella and Fred.
No pictures of the quilt yet as it is all in pieces but I shall make a great effort to get on with it! I want to embroider a name and date label too on my machine. I'm going to be busy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cot Quilt

I've been busy today sorting fabrics and cutting them out to make a cot quilt for my new great-niece. I'll post some pictures tomorrow but at the moment it is just in pieces. It is amazing how long it can take to sort fabrics, choose colours and then cut out the pieces. I'm doing a 9-patch with a mix of colours, especially moss green, yellow and oatmeal. These are the colours I've been told are wanted! I have cheated a bit and added in a smidgin of pink! Well she is a girl! But I have to say how much easier it is to work in my new room now I have more space and everything is to hand. So far I have found everything at the first go! This has to be a first. Usually after a clear out I'm lost as to the new places I've put things. I'm just loving it all!

Monday, May 25, 2009


We drove down to the Lizard today; a round trip of about fifty miles. It was raining when we left home but the weather was infinitely better when we arrived with even some sun. I was able to take loads of photos. I was impressed with how many flowers were blooming on the cliffs and the colour of the flowers contrasting with the rocks was fantastic. The rocks here are serpentine which is a blacky grey stone which polishes up beautifully. There are lots of shops there selling hand crafted things made from serpentine.

I loved these grasses on top of a stone wall and thought they would be good inspiration for a textile piece in the future. As will the picture below. I wanted to get a photo of the lovely golden brown and yellow butterflies which were flitting about but they were too quick for me. Instead I got several pictures of the stone wall and the wild mustard.This one in particular I thought might come in useful some time as inspiration.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dyeing Results

This was how the piece I photographed yesterday turned out. It will make a good background for a piece involving tree trunks and foliage.

I called this piece Crazy Frogs because it looked just like frogs leaping about when it was still wet. I has dried lighter but still has the leaping effect.

I love this piece. It was a using up the dyes that were left piece. Probably it will look better when enlarged but the colours are subtle and morning misty. The photos below are of some of the stripey batch. I love the way the stripes bleed outwards into the second colour. Now I have to go and make a cot quilt as I've just become a great-aunt. My niece-in-law has just produced a little girl - Camilla Evangeline!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Having a Dyeing Day

I'm very low on fabric so I am having a dyeing day. These are dyes mixed up in pots and some of the fabric rolled and folded in the pots on the back row. At this stage I was half way through. The rest of the fabric was being batched in trays. I did about 33 fat quarters altogether. Not a lot but it is surprising how long it takes when each piece is individually folded and dyed. Especially those where several colours are used. Also fat quarters sell like hot cakes. Funnily enough it isn't the same when I dye yardage and then cut it into FQ's. It is always exciting when it comes to rinse out time to see what I've got. Now I'm just waiting for them to wash out in the washing machine. I do a quick rinse under the tap in tepid water and then a long wash at 60 degrees with extra rinses in the washing machine. I've never had a fabric bleed on me yet...... They get ironed damp on a white cloth so I can test for colour fastness.The one below will be a layered piece with mottled blue for sky, stripey mottled green for grass and mottled brown for earth. I like these layered fabrics as they can be used for a multitude of techniques including appliqué. It will be interesting to see it washed out. All my dyeing is done at the sink in the kitchen. I have been working like this for nearly 40 years. It would be lovely to have a specific dyeing room. I live in hope!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bag Two!

Bag 2 is finished! I really like it and won't need to make another bag for at least 6 months! I wasn't happy with the first one and realise now that using Pelmet Vilene to stiffen the sides was a big mistake as it made the bag unwieldy. And I don't like flaps. They may be good for security reasons but for actual shopping where one is getting one's purse in and out of the bag several times it is just inconvenient. This one with a zip is much better. And I've put in extra pockets!

As well as pockets on both sides of the lining I've also added pockets on both gussets. And there are pockets on both the front and back outside plus pockets on the outside of the gussets. Two of the inside pockets are zipped for security. And this time I got the measurements of the outside pockets right and they take A4 size documents! All in all I am well pleased though the rings for the handle are a bit heavy but I had great difficulty finding them and it was only when Martin went to the chandlers that we had any success. The ones on the last bag I cannibalised from the bag that broke. I don't think I could make bags for a living! I enjoyed doing the bobbin work in heavy thread for some of the front pocket decorations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just had a birthday for my blog!

Just over four years ago I started this blog. I have lost the first ten days as I changed my template not realising that I would lose all the content. It was interesting to go back to the first posts this time four years ago. I was into experimental work on felt. The felt in the picture below is some I made myself. I still like making felt and I'm also into embellishing with hand needles. I haven't yet been able to convince myself that I need an embellisher!

I was also into making bags. This crazy patchwork scrip bag has been around the world with me and now been honourably retired so that the embroidery doesn't get hurt! I had great fun making it. I particularly loved using broken shells in my embroideries. Inserted in this one is a small embroidered fish.

And I was also moving my workroom around! Doesn't it look better now! I obviously didn't have as much stuff in those days as it looks quite bare. I actually managed to have both my sewing machines set up at the same time. But then again I had no cutting area. So where did I cut out?

So all in all there is nothing new under the sun it just gets better. And yes Sue I am delighted that my sewing room is now functional and a joy to use. I am making another bag.This time with a zip fastening! Well why not!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thoughts on Blogging

Apropros to my comments about a lack of comments it was interesting to see that my subscribers on the Blog Roll went overnight from 26 to 8! I then decided to look through the many blogs I subscribe to -- 126 -- and found that out of that number over half were defunct! What has happened to Handmaiden and Suckers Anonymous to name but two? Of the rest some of them were no longer of interest and I have ended up with 46 which will be much more manageable and I will probably be able to keep up with reading them all and I shall make a new resolution to comment where I can. People like comments. It makes them feel that a) they have something to say that is of interest to someone else and b) that they aren't alone in the world! I shall continue with the blog for my own edification in the future when not only do I want to find lost photos but also I want to know when and possibly how I made things and why I made them. It has been interesting while looking for my lost photos to see how my dyeing style has subtly changed over the years. I think it is much better now but that is as maybe! Anyway I shall persevere and continue to put my thoughts down. I was going to say on paper but it isn't paper so what is it?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Festival of Quilts

Thank you Goosey and Jeannie for your messages of support and interest. It is good to know you are out there!
This year I thought I'd go with friends to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. Most years I go to the Allie Pallie (Alexandra Palace) in London for the show there but I thought it would be good to have a change. Now this show isn't until the end of August but when I tried booking rooms at the hotels recommended on the F of Q site I found that they were all fully booked. So is this show popular or what! I was able eventually to book rooms at a hotel on site that wasn't going to cost us an arm and a leg. I want to be spending my money on more things for my stash not on room and board! I am really looking forward to it and it will be a mini holiday. We are going to travel up on the Thursday and go to the show on Friday returning home on Saturday. I'm relieved that we've got rooms and that we didn't leave it any later or we might not have been able to go! That would have been a disaster. Now I just have to book the train tickets!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Reason Why!

I had been wondering why I kept a blog as it seemed to be of interest only to me. At least that is the impression that one gets with no comments to say otherwise! But now I really do know why I keep a blog. It is to save me from myself. For sometime I had been meaning to organise all my photos and put them onto one 16gb memory stick. But when I came to do this I found that several folders of photographs were missing and not to be found anywhere. I searched all my back-up CD's and both my computer, my laptop and my external hard-drive but to no avail. Then I remembered that sometime in late '06 or early '07 Martin formatted my computer for me and although I had thought I'd backed up everything obviously I hadn't. And to make matters worse one of the hard-drives decided not to work again and so although clever Martin was able to rescue the stuff on it there was every possibility that some things slipped through the net. I was gutted to say the least as some of the pictures were important to me. I now call this drive Phoenix as it rose from the ashes!Then I had a brain wave! I would look on my blog going back into the archives and see if any of the photos were ones that I'd put on the blog. And yes they were! Lots of them! I was able to save them into a folder and then put them onto the memory disk so that I could find them in the future. So that is why I write a blog so that I can go back in time occasionally and find that which is lost! Pictures like the tree below (taken at Lanhydrock)which will provide loads of inspiration for some bobbin work.

Friday, May 15, 2009


'Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty of casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.'
I don't know where I found this piece of wisdom as I've had a copy of it for a long time. I'd like to give credit where credit is due. I was thinking about this in relation to my new bag and my indecision as to whether I liked it or not. Thinking about these words of wisdom I realised that it didn't matter if I liked it what was important was that I'd had fun making it and learnt several very useful lessons along the way. Sometimes we lose track of where we are going and get sidetracked and forget the point in the fog of uncertainty. The point in making my bag was to see if the design worked - and it did - so the exercise was successful even if the outcome wasn't exactly as I had visualised it.But if I had achieved the image I had in mind then I wouldn't have learnt the lessons I did and I wouldn't have added ideas to my repertoire. Process is more important than outcome as then we grow and we know that we are growing by the extent of the work we produce. If we only ever allow the outcome to be the driving force then we will only ever go where we have been before.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The bag front which I put together using samples that I'd done on my embroidery machine. I thought this would be a good use for them. If I'd taken more thought I'd have worked out the sashing more exactly so that I didn't have to start and stop. But hey, it's a learning curve. I meant to have green on the right side edge and not pink. The pink should have gone at the top. More haste, less speed.

This picture shows the bag handle and pocket on the side where I've put my umbrella. Very useful! The handle has an inner growgrain ribbon for extra strength. And the picture below shows the inside full of my clutter. Absolutely essential for life! There are three pockets on the back and a zipped pocket on the inside front. Also on the back outside is a large pocket which I had hoped would be A4 size but actually it is a tad smaller which is a bummer. More care needed in the planning stages. You can just see papers sticking up out of it in the top picture. Definitely had my amateur head on! The lining is one of my hand-dyed poplins.It was fun to do and I learnt a lot which is always good!

Good or Excellent!

'We are what we think we are.' Amazing words that I found on Melody Johnson's blog Fibermania. I was so impressed with what she had to say about Professional as opposed to Amateur creative heads and the results that one would get depending on which head was on at the time. Go read it for yourself - Wednesday 13th's post. What she says is so true and I know this for a fact. When I make things for myself I am never as on the ball as when I make things for class samples or for sale or commission. Then everything is just perfect but for me I can be a tad lazy being more concerned with finishing than with the finish. None so true a word as to the bag I've just made for me. It's very nice (isn't nice an awful word?) but I'm not sure I like it. It's very big! I suppose this is because it was a prototype and I was trying out ideas and therefore not as fussy as I could have been. It's not sloppily made but just a tad off. I needed a list! Actually I had a list and it would have been better if I'd followed it! I found I forgot several stages that then had to be rectified and added in and I went for a stiffened bag which on reflection needed more thought that it got. And do I really like stiffened bags? Probably not! What this bag has got going for it is loads of pockets. I love lots of pockets in a bag. This one has inside pockets and outside pockets and even one for my umbrella! I will post pictures tonight as I'm at work now so no pictures to hand.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Working in the new room!

To celebrate having my room finished I decided to make myself a new handbag. This was partly influenced by the fact that the bag I was using decided to break at the weekend. The strap, which I had already mended once, broke again beyond repair. So I have designed myself a really useful bag with lots of pockets and space for all the hundred and one things I can't live without! It is no wonder that the strap broke as my bag weighs a ton! So far I have cut out the bag and lining pieces and attached the pockets; one with a zip fastening. I have also decided on the design for the bag flap and have started to put that together. Then I had to leave it all to go and have lunch and go to work!
It was a joy working in the 'new' room as everything was to hand and there was so much space. I shall post pictures later.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Ta Da!

At last my workroom is finished and I can back to doing some creative work. It has been an experience! I have found things that I'd forgotten I had; things I thought I'd lost; things that I'd searched high and low for; and things that I no longer have any need for! I have to admit that towards the end when I was sorting fabric I just threw it all in the drawers without any sorting so that will be a job for the future. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much fabric one of those drawers would hold. Of course this isn't all of my fabric just a selection. I also have a cabinet in the spare room with more fabric, several tubs of fabric and I am dyeing more fabric more or less each weekend so I won't go short. The goody bags I made up went like hot cakes. I think I only have three left and one of those is spoken for. The pictures above show the room from all angles. (Go back to April 29th to see how it was before).It is so small that it is hard to get good views so there are duplications but the general idea is there. I'm thrilled to bits with the units and if I had anywhere to put them I'd get more! For anyone thinking of doing a similar exercise I can't stress to much the importance of drawing out a plan first with accurate measurements. This saved me so much grief and anguish of things not fitting or being in the wrong place. The ideal thing would be to plan a completely empty room and not have to work round things already in situ such as shelves but then in an ideal world lots of things would be easier! I'm now off to enjoy it!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Worse before it gets better!

Well the units are in, complete with drawers but oh, what a mess! I have far too much stuff! Already the drawers are full and labelled. I have tidied up the shelves above and made more room there by amalgamating half full boxes. Everything is being labelled so that I know where things are, as what usually happens is that I remember where something used to live but not where it is now! The units are wonderful and I have space between them to put large cutting boards and rotary squares etc. There is also a gap behind them where I can put frames and flat things that I don't use that often but like to have handy. But what to do with the excess stuff? Some of it will go in the attic. And some of it I have divided up into baggies which I will sell. I have a coffee morning tomorrow so I might offer them up then and see if I have any takers. I have put a book in each bag along with fabric, both silk and cotton, plus threads, beads, ribbons and oddments. Good value for £8 I think!
It was annoying that the units were damaged slightly when they arrived. I have put the damaged bit at the back but the crack in one of the box fronts shows! I have complained but I didn't want to send it all back. So I've sent photos and I should get compensation. I hope! Not the same as getting perfect items!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

At Last!

My Ikea stuff came today! Hurrah! Unfortunately I wasn't feeling too good and although Martin put them together for me and placed them in the workroom I just didn't feel up to doing anything with them. Such a disappointment. But never mind, I'm sure tomorrow will be a better day and I'll have fun sorting everything out! They do look lovely!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Just waiting!

The room looks so bare now that most of the stuff from above and below the workbench is scattered round the rest of the upstairs rooms. Especially the spare bedroom which is almost impossible to move in! I had a mammoth clean up and Martin mended the bottom of the small cabinet and put an extension bank of plugs on the wall for me. For a long time I have felt that it would be useful to have the plugs at work table height rather than on the floor. I shan't be able to do anything tomorrow as in the morning I am helping a friend with a piece of machine embroidery and in the evening I shall be struggling round the supermarket shopping! I did a practice run on my embroidery machine as it hasn't been used since before Christmas. Fortunately I remembered where I had put everything in the big move! Roll on Wednesday!

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Well there isn't a lot I can do now until the units arrive on Wednesday, so I have been drawing out plans as to where everything will go. I love making lists and plans as they are so very satisfying! The room is actually a little bigger than I thought it was but not a lot! It is still pretty cramped. The scale on the plan above is 1" to 1'.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

What a Mess!

I got Martin to help me take the tallboy down to my mother's garage where it will stay until we get rid of it. The immediate improvement was gratifying. Then I dismantled the work top and moved the small two drawer chest next to my sewing machine table. This has given me more space when I am sewing and I don't feel so hemmed in.

I will keep the small cabinet which held up the other end of the workbench as it is a very nice Victorian bedside cabinet and goes with my Victorian wardrobe and dressing table. The rack of drawers (white) which was under the workbench has fitted quite nicely onto the small chest of drawers. It can just be seen behind the rack that holds my rotary cutting rulers and squares.

Everywhere is a mess with things piled high on the floor and on the landing. I won't be able to do very much more now until the units arrive. Mainly because I need to pile everything that is left onto the bed to give me some floor space to put the units together and if I do this now I won't be able to go to bed until Wednesday!

The workbench is leaning up against the bookcase and makes going in and out a bit of a struggle! But this is nothing compared to what is already piled up elsewhere!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Hidden treasures!

One of the things that I find when I am having a major tidy up and clear out in my workroom is that I discover things I had forgotten I had! I am hoping that with my new storage system that I will be able to see things more clearly and also have a better idea of what I've got and where it is. The downside of these new discoveries is that they haven't been allotted a space in the new plan. Where are they to go without throwing all the carefully calculated plans adrift! For example in amongst the laces which I sorted today, and I'm pleased to say there was less than I thought, I found lots of Angelina and special water soluble such as the thicker versions for making sculptures. Why they should be with the laces I don't know! And I'm ashamed to say that I bought this thicker water soluble at a show a couple of years ago and haven't even used it! How bad is that!
I am very glad I decided to go with one set of double drawers because things like templates don't need depth. Also they run the risk of being damaged if in a deep drawer.
Another thing is that I'm running out of space to put things so that I can remove the tallboy from the workroom. I have to remember that I'm going to need to go to bed at night! But a lot has to come out before it can go back in! I expect this weekend I will be able to organise it all a bit more efficiently so that come Wednesday and the delivery of the unit I shall be all ready to go! Roll on Wednesday!