Sunday, 28 February 2010

Working Hard

Adopting a working pattern has had an advantage.  Starting 20 blocks and working the same stage on all 20 before moving onto the next stage was a bit of a revelation (probably common sense to some) and meant I completed all 20 today (9 hours work).  It's a working method I would follow in other textile/embroidery disciplines so can't think why it wasn't obvious in the first place!  For the first time in a long time I am keeping a record of the hours worked so will probably blog about it more than usual.  I apologise in advance for repetition of similar posts.

It started out as an exercise to try and cut down on the amount of time the iron was on ............ ironing each stage on all 20 blocks then switching it off rather than leave it on all day.  My iron is 2000w .......... am wondering about getting a 1200w one for £2.99 at Argos if it means saving on electric.  Would this be a significant saving or false economy?

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Slow Progress

I have managed to work out (well kind of) how to do the patchwork mentioned in the last post and estimate that I'm going to need about 200 squares of varying sizes for a blind ............

I knew it wasn't going to be a 5 minute project but with 20 squares completed in 2 whole days it's going to take longer than I thought,  Does one get quicker with practise I wonder?  I've found that some of the squares haven't worked particularly well but am hoping they'll somehow get "lost" in the finished item and I do like the recycled M&S stripey boxer shorts!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Shellness (on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, UK for those unfamiliar with this area) is one of those magical places.  Much like Dungeness ............ remote, desolate and sometimes eerie but oh the shells.  Fragments embedded into the sandy bank separating the road from the beach .....................

In places the beach is entirely covered with shells (this one's from flicker as it's clearer than any of mine)

If you decide to visit, you might want to be mindful that it is a nature reserve ........... not only a nature reserve but THAT kind of nature reserve as well so, like us, visit out of season or during non-sunbathing weather!  The beginnings of some shells on my "Rainbow" piece .........

I am really struggling with my eyes and this stitching so progress is going to be very slow but I hope to be able to show at least a little bit more each week.  I have lots of ideas for other stuff I could do in the meantime but there are more pressing things too ............ some blinds for home.  I want to do something like this ..................

There is only one copy in the county library system and it's out on loan until sometime next month.  Then it could take up to a week to get to our branch library but I want to start NOW .............. if only I could tell them I only need a quick 5 minute look to get an idea of the block sizes and see how they are paper pieced!

On a more positive note, I knew what the postman would be holding when he knocked the door this morning ........... my prize from Fibrefrolics - aren't they just "my" colours!  Some merino tops, silk fibres, ribbons, fabrics, Angelina ................ lots to play with!

Penny had also previously awarded me a "Sunshine Blogger" award which was exciting too.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Meagre Offerings

Slow progress ............

Looking a bit flat hence the need to do a bit of experimenting with other things.  Felting over a balloon.  It was fun.  The shape wasn't  bad but, as expected, not as precise as I would have liked and the added curly fleece didn't work so well either so not sure it's a method I would use again.  Last resort = washing machine so even more scruffy now ...............


Sunday, 14 February 2010

Snow, Felting & Giveaway Winner

With some snow on Wednesday & more forecast, I had decided to set Thursday aside for some felting but was distracted ................. the hills from our back garden ..............

Along the top of these hills runs a lane ................... Four 4x4 vehicles & eight young men got stuck there late Wednesday night when they met an abandoned vehicle and, after several hours attempting to free themselves huddled together in two vehicles for the night.  From being able to see the road when they came to a halt, daylight came .......................

Thankfully, one of our sons and his 7 mates managed to get out of this and another vehicle and get home safely.

I have finally got round to doing some felting today.  I have used resists and felted over objects before but this is my first attempt at using a balloon ............... not sure that it's quite the sea urchin shape I was aspiring to but it's a vessel nonetheless.  My special Valentines gift was being allowed to play all day so this is for my husband ............ when it's finished ............

Thankyou for all the comments on my giveaway post ........... I really was surprised to see so many.  Each comment was assigned a number (by myself) in order of posting, written on a piece of paper, folded and placed in a bowl.  Independantly witnessed by aforementioned no. 2 son, my husband picked out no. 2 .................. Sue from "The Magic Armchair Traveller in Stitches" whom I will be contacting shortly.  I must mention that said son was really quite perplexed that people had actually said that they would like one of the bowls and wonders why on earth somebody would want one ................... same reason as I would I suppose.  There's nothing like family to give you an inferiority complex eh?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Pink on Pink

Paper template to mark position of foundation stitches

Foundation stitches = chain stitch in coton a broder

Starting at centre, whipped needleweaving in coton a broder over ground stitches incorporating one more stitch at the end of each row taking care not to pierce fabric

Each chain stitch has now been used

Continuing to fill shape

Pulling the threads of the chain stitches together to make a "frilly" edge

Monday, 8 February 2010

100th Blog Post Giveaway

The draw for the giveaway has now closed ............. the winner to be drawn shortly

To mark the occasion of this, my 100 blog post, and as a special thanks to everybody who reads my blog, I am giving something away.  Remember the small bowls that I made last year .................... if you would like a chance to win one (either the darker blue or the purple as I use the other one) then just leave a comment at the end of this post.

Names will be put into the hat next Sunday, Valentines Day .............. be sure to let me know who you are and a way of contacting you if you aren't linked to a blog.

Sunday, 7 February 2010


Needleweaving changed my life .............. well kind of.  A needlewoven carnation (I'd never even heard of needleweaving) was on the agenda at the first ever adult embroidery class I ever attended.  Then came the woven picot leaves and raised chain band stems.  Here is that very sample from those first few weeks all those years ago.

Over the following weeks, I learnt various other raised embroidery & stumpwork techniques.  They were just perfect to frame a photo of our daughter as a bridesmaid.  I call this my first real creative embroidery project (sorry that the photos aren't so clear)

So there it is ................. the day that changed my life.  There will be some of this on the "Journey" quilt.  I think that's enough of the past for now ................. I have some serious tidying up to do then to sort out some threads to start embroidery.

Thankyou for all your comments ladies, they are very much appreciated and I will make some time to respond to them all personally this week ............... it's hard work trying be creative, blog & read all the blogs that I'd like to read - I like to read them all properly!!!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Strips all pieced

I was aiming for a random look (organised would have been easier for me) so not quite sure why it took me 9 hours to piece the other seven strips today.  There are a few wallflower patches but I hope to tie them together with stitch, applique etc. (I did lay a second fabric beneath some of them) and, if all else fails, there are always colouring mediums! .  Apart from the Broderie Anglaise, what trims I had were either too fussy or coloured up too garishly.  Similary the plan to embellish patches of a particular fabric before piecing together didn't materialise due to their final positioning (they were too close together for my liking).  I can't wait to start stitching!

This week hasn't been without incident.  Amongst other things, I accidentally knocked the water pot over but didn't realise until the following morning that my soluble crayon tin was full of water!  Cleaning them up will be fun!

I'm really honoured to be listed in Sharonb's list of interesting blogs and thankyou for all your lovely and encouraging comments ladies ............

Friday, 5 February 2010

Laying the Foundation

I don't have a designated workspace, in fact we don't have much space at all.  Sometimes you just have to stand back and and view whatever it is you are working on so this is my solution ............... a radiator airer hung over a door with the background fabric pegged on .........

Soon the door is covered ................ I quite like it

Piecing together ................

I'm not sure .................... think I will do the red again ............

Update ............. I am happier with this

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Fabric Decisions

I have decided to combine both commercially printed and my own hand dyed fabric in each colour block..  Yesterday was spent adjusting some of them and introducing some new ones using silk and fabric paints to achieve a pleasing palette (it was quicker than overdyeing and I had more control over the result!),  Each colour block will have some home dyed stuff.  Am a bit concerned about the "jade" ............. might leave the piecing of that block until last to see how it fits in.  There is more of a contrast between the blue and turquoise than showing in the photo ............... overall I am quite pleased so far.

Am itching to stitch but need to spend some time working on fabric arrangement - there needs to be more than one layer for reverse applique in places and I might even embellish some of the fabrics before I piece them.  Also need to make and/or colour any trims that I might use in seams.  Included will be a bit of Broderie Anglaise trim as I used for our bridesmaids outfits 30 years ago ...............

Textiles from secondary school included leaves & an apple so they will be there somewhere too.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Dilemma Time

After much deliberation I have settled (I think) on a block with width = 3.5 x depth thus 4" x 14" .......... it looked more pleasing to me than other ratios and, being realistic, going any larger might result in a UFO.

On to fabric selection ................. starting with red being that it's sometimes a bit of nightmare where it bleeds so much after dyeing.  The bottom fabrics are "mine" whereas those top right are commercial ones.  Do I overdye or paint some of mine so that they are all my fabrics in the quilt or do I incorporate some commercial ones too ................. I could include a piece of the lovely red silk that mum brought back from India for me?  Then there's the printed fabric with the orange ............ it might be nice to use this as the red block will be next to the orange one?  Maybe I shouldn't be putting restrictions upon myself?

The love affair with textiles started almost as long ago as I can remember (I honestly think I was born to stitch) and being as this is for me, I am going to incorporate some key points.  Without boring anybody with everything, just some of the things I plan to incorporate:

Mum asked me just a couple of years ago if I remembered cutting the flowers out of my frock (yes, the one I was wearing) at infant school?  I didn't recall but the more I think about it there is some vague recollection.  I said that I must have been cutting something up on my lap rather than the table for that to have happened.  She gave me one of them looks and said they were all NEATLY cut out!  There will be some cut back appliqued flowers somewhere in this quilt!

In the first junior class we had a student or supply teacher for a while with whom we made a textile seascape each ............. it was beautiful sea colours and incorporated tulle & felt as I recall.  Somehow this remained at nan's house.  Many times during my married life she asked if I wanted to take it home but I always declined saying it was safe where it was.  When she died nobody found it (I did ask) but there again it may not have been realised that it was anything more than a scrap of something or nothing.  There will be something of this.

There was the small grey felt elephant that I stitched together so there may be an elephant albeit not grey.

At 10 years of age, I cut various crimpelene circles of about 4" diameter and randomly stitched them (very neatly with buttonhole/blanket stitch) on to a short sleeved jumper that I sometimes wore to school (we didn't have to wear uniform then).  The teacher asked if I had done it to cover up holes .................. how dare she suggest that my jumper had holes!   Of course there will be circles of some form.

And, lastly for now, I love the dress (below) mum is wearing at my sister's christening in 1964.  I don't actually remember the dress but I may include a flower something like it.

This project is supposed to be "Me"!  Already mum has cropped up three times but then I wouldn't be who I am if it weren't for her, dad and their ancestors.

More of my journey later ...............

Monday, 1 February 2010

A Journey Revisited

Returning to my rainbow of dyed fabric and how I could use a good number of them in a textile as mentioned in the post before last has confirmed in my mind that I would like to make a wall hanging.

I love colour, I have always loved colour.  Colour is one of my strengths ............ more so than composition.  As a child I was fascinated by rainbows - what child isn;t?  A rainbow piece it is then albeit with artistic license as I will probably have 9 colours.

My passion for textiles goes back to childhood and there have been lots of significant points along the way.  If I made a crazy quilt wall hanging it would give me scope to portray many of these in some form ................. I think this piece will be "My Crazy Journey".


I think the colours are sorted so need to play around with size & proportion.  Meanwhile, something that I've been meaning to do for ages .............. dyeing some buttons

I have some lovely yellow buttons.  It's unfortunate that the pearlised coating on the large floral one is chipped now it's a wonderful golden colour - unfortunately the underlying materidal didn't take the dye.  This was an experiment - not without incident so not a method I will be recommending and I will do it differently next time.