Monday, 26 September 2011

Autumn Afternoon

I just had to share the wonderful afternoon I had with DH, DD and DGS.  The photos tell the story, exploring the ruins of the local castle and then gathering conkers, all in the lovely warm, autumn sunshine.

In answer to your question Saz, the castle dates from c.1220, more information here.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

A Quilty Day Out

I have had a lovely day today joining over 60 quilting ladies at a Quilters' Guild Area Day held in Nottinghamshire.
After a good journey in early autumn sunshine we arrived at Epperstone and were greeted with a cup of tea, a name label and an invitation to hand over the quilts we'd brought with us for the show and tell.  It had been decided to display the quilts in exhibition-style and to celebrate the creative skills of local quilters.  The range of quilts was amazing and I would have happily given any one of them house room.  They made the hall look splendid and were a reminder of all the possibilities in this art-form of ours.
There was a lot to keep us occupied once the day got underway.  Jenni Dobson gave a demonstration on how to produce a perfect binding, with perfect mitres.  There was a table where we could try our hand at mono-printing -
and there was a trader, the Guild stall (with lots of exciting new products available) and a sales tables with secondhand books, magazines and bargain bundles of fabric.
Two speakers had been invited for the meeting.  Before a "faith" buffet lunch Greta Fitchett made us very peckish with her talk, "Don't Count the Calories".  Firstly she showed us some journal quilts depicting foods of various kinds and then showed how this developed into the creation of a whole series of realistic looking, larger than life, cakes and chocolates.

In a complete contrast to those fabric confections Gillian Clarke was welcomed to speak to us after lunch.  She had brought a wonderful collection of her hand pieced, hand appliqued and hand quilted wallhangings and quilts based on illustrations in medieval manuscripts including the local  Luttrell Psalter.  There were quilts representing the months of the year, the story of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage to Compostela de Santiago 
and Gillian explained how she created her designs by taking elements from various sources, by adding floral borders and by using the curlicues of the calligraphy as quilting designs.

Gillian also showed us a wholecloth quilt.  White with dragons, interwined lovers' knots, flowers, with a binding and backing in a glorious bright red.  The quilt looked wonderful from both sides.  However, in the top right hand corner of the white side was a red, pink and orange dye bleed.  The quilt had been exhibited and suffered from a leak in the ceiling above.  Surely someone as experienced as Gillian would have pre-washed her fabrics when combining red and white?  Indeed she had.  The stain was from the thread she had used for the quilting!  I don't think I would have been quite as calm as she was but maybe she's got used to it now and it's a good story - we can't really consider pre-washing our thread, can we?
To top off a well organised and stimulating day I had to quickly silence my mobile during Greta's talk (how shameful but fortunately few people heard it).  Checking at lunch time I found it had been my DS phoning and we have now arranged to get together with him and his fiancee for lunch tomorrow, I'm very excited.

Mother:  (answering phone), Hello?
Son:  Hello Mother dear, how are you?
Mother:  Not so well darling, I feel quite weak, I haven't eaten for 38 days.
Son:  My goodness Mother, why not, what on earth is wrong?
Mother:  Well, I didn't want to risk having my mouth full when you phoned.

Boom boom!!

Finally, here's a couple of photos of one of the most praised quilts on show today, this crazy quilt that was a celebration of love and associated memories:

Friday, 23 September 2011

Japanese Beach Huts?

Here are my beach huts, all finished and ready to hang on the wall of my bach in Norfolk.  Carin - can you spot any of the kimono silk pieces you gave me?  Although the workshop was in Norfolk and beach huts are traditional there I couldn't quite get away from my leanings towards all things Japanese and so my beach huts are all made in Japanese fabrics (and there are pieces of kimono in the sea too).  If they have beach huts in Japan maybe this is how they'd look!
A quick Google led me to these....

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Seaweed Dyeing Revealed

I finally unwrapped my attempt at dyeing cloth with seaweed on Tuesday evening after it had been brewing for a month.  The smell was less than aromatic!  Here is the result:

Rather erratic dyeing but a good brown in places.  No sign of the original pink of the seaweed though (which you can see here).

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Country Roads Quilters

I've had a lovely day today at the first meeting of Country Roads Quilters as we are now called.  One day we might make something with the Country Roads block (which you can see on Marcia Hohn's "Quilters' Cache" site here) but today we mainly chatted.  We seem to be a lovely mix of experience, style and quilting preferences so I think it's going to be a lively and stimulating group, challenging to old hands and supporting to new quilters.
Today we all stitched by hand but at our next meeting we're going to get the machines going and start on a Fat Quarter Frenzy quilt designed by Sharyn Simpson of Blenheim, New Zealand.  Tina, who welcomed us to her lovely home for our meeting, has made this pattern before and is going to lead us.  Our visiting trader did good business today with people buying FQs in preparation, and other goodies too.
It was lovely to meet two fellow bloggers, Tina who blogs as Sweetypie50 and Angela who I've been trying to get together with all summer, she blogs at Fenland Textile Studio.  Do pop over to their blogs, they both do very exciting things.
It was also lovely that people willingly agreed to do little jobs so that Country Roads Quilters can be a group of friends sewing rather than a top heavy, committee-led group. 
We talked about all sorts of possibilities, projects to do together, workshops we'd like to hold, QGBI events including meetings in our area and the 2010 AGM which will take place in Dundee, Scotland, our hopes for the group and a few practicalities like insurance and whether to put the kettle on again!  I'm so excited about this new group, it's going to be fun.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Beach Huts Workshop

Here I am with my friend Ros at the end of a great day at a workshop with Melanie Plummer yesterday.  The workshop was a lot of fun, I don't think I've ever heard so much laughter during a quilting day, and we all learned new techniques, produced something we were happy with and nearly finished it too.
Melanie was a relaxed tutor and brought loads of examples of her work with her as well as lots of lovely organza and fabrics that she allowed us to buy from her if we needed them (and didn't charge much either).  Here are two of her "beach hut" pieces, I'm going to use her notebook idea to make a visitor book for my bach.

Once we got started with our sky, sand and water fabrics 505ed onto wadding and backing fabric it was time to audition all the organzas, nets and threads that would build up the texture of the piece.  This was fun and it was interesting to see that from the same starting point we all created our own designs, just as it should be.

I think the wall hangings have a lovely naivety.  This is not a good photograph (I would have needed to hang from the ceiling...) but it reminds me of children's paintings laid out to try at the end of an art lesson, such bold colours and effective designs.
They all became individual.  One lady added stilts to her beach huts as that is the design of the ones she is familiar with, a gentleman added deckchairs and seagulls and I made my beach huts from Japanese fabrics, including some wonderful kimono silk pieces that I was given by my friend Cara when she visited UK in August.
It's always good to pick up new skills as well as have fun on a workshop and I was pleased to learn to create marram grass and beach plantlife using FMQ but the greatest combination of fun and learning came with the discovery of angelina.  Who knew something that looks like glittery candyfloss could be such a delight?  I'll certainly be using it again.
Tomorrow is the first meeting of the new quilting group I'm starting with my friend Tina.  We're hoping to have a good turnout and already know of several lovely blogging friends who will be there.  I'm taking my beach huts piece to work on - it's time to embellish with relish!  We're having a trader, a raffle and show and tell as well as a chat about what people want from the group.  I'm very excited about it - please check back here to see how it goes, and what the group is to be called!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

FNSI Report

This is my progress on my bag.  The top picture is of the flowers for the front of the bag, I have got to make eight of these and managed two during FNSI, they are very fiddly.  The other picture is of what I'd done already, the back of the bag and the flap.  It looks a strange shape as I need to avoid the flap gatting caught up when I do the sides of the bag.
I hope you all had a great FNSI and got lots done.  I spend a couple of hours in the afternoon with Ros, my sewing friend in Norfolk, and we had great fun going through her stash getting together all the things she wants for the "Beach Huts" wall hanging workshop we're doing together tomorrow at Wroxham Barns.  I think we selected enough stuff to make a full size beach hut!  Well, you just never know quite what you're going to need for a workshop.
Today is dry and I've done a little tidying up in the small garden here at our bach in Norfolk and then DH and I went and picked blackberries and now have purple-stained fingers.  That reminds me, when I get home I'll unwrap my seaweed dyeing and see what (if anything) has happened to the cloth.  Have a great weekend, whatever you're doing.

Friday, 16 September 2011


Tonight is Friday Night Sew In and I'm going to be working on my Southern Belle bag again. I'm doing it all by hand which is taking a while but I think that, because the pieces are small and the piecing a bit tricky, I'm probably better off doing it this way than fiddling about in and out of the machine. Also, I want to use this bag when I go to Japan and so wanted to make it in a more traditional way. The Japanese do most of their sewing by hand, from choice and also from space restrictions. Most of us have a sewing area, or even a room or purpose built atelier if we're really fortunate. In Japan homes tend to be smaller and a sewing room is reduced to a specific chair, with a box of fabric and notions along side. Julie, who now lives in Tokyo, posted a great picture of her sewing chair here. Back to the bag. I am now piecing the front of the bag, eight small "flower" blocks. I'll post a photo in the morning, in the meantime, have a great FNSI and thank you Heidi and Bobbi for hosting again.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Fuji San

I am looking forward to seeing Mount Fuji when I visit Japan next year, in the meantime I'm studying this video :)

Monday, 12 September 2011

Catching Up

I seem to be forever "catching up" at the moment but I do have the excuse of a Crohn's flare up for my absence from Blogger (and life in general) recently.  I'm feeling much better now and am going to have a few days relaxation (and sewing) in Norfolk, I'll be joining Heidi and co in FNSI and ending up with a workshop called "Beach Huts" with Melanie Plummer on Sunday.  I've been very frugal and assembled everything for the workshop from my stash - trying to save as much as possible for my trip to Japan next year.  On that subject, I've decided to go a few days early and spend some time in Tokyo.  I've booked into the ryokan (inn) where we stayed on our first visit to Japan and I'm really looking forward to returning to Ryokan Sawanoya in Yanaka, a lovely old part of the city.
Today I caught up with my DD and DGS.  Sam started at a new school (pre-school) today and according to Saz was very brave (she was very brave too, I remember it being heart wrenching).  They came over after school for lunch and although he was very tired he was extremely well behaved until he did the unthinkable and was my mouth.   Yuck, yuck, yuck, this never happened to me before and it's lucky it was Sam as he's so gorgeous I've forgiven him.  DD said I shouldn't have held him upside down when he was full of jacket potato, chilli beef and ice cream!  Yuck though!
I'm very excited to have received the requirements list for a workshop I'm doing with Susan Briscoe next month.  It's called Japanese Circles and Squares and I'm looking forward to using some of the wonderful Japanese fabrics I have in my stash.  I'm thinking of an indigo/terracotta combination but will have to get my fabrics out for a little stroke and see what most appeals.
Okay, weary now, will sign off and try to catch up with some blog reading.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Sewing All Day

This morning "Crafty Time Out" met at my house (good excuse for posher biscuits) and although there were only a few of us we had a lovely time, sitting stitching, chatting and having a nice cup of tea (and biscuits).
This afternoon I headed to Sibsey to meet with my friend Tina.  We are starting a quilting group in the village and needed to discuss our plans for the day.  It's very exciting, I hope lots of people come along and can be involved right from the beginning with the way the group is going to run.  The first meeting is on 20th September and we're having a trader (oooh, fabric buying), a raffle and a gentle show and tell.  We'll also be chatting, sewing, planning and we'll need to decide on a name for our group.  If you're local and want more details, send me an email please.
Tina was telling me about "Wonderfil" thread which is now sold by the Quilters' Guild.  It has received some very good reports and favourable comparisons with my beloved Aurifil apparently.  I'm going to give some a try and I'll get back to you - mainly as it will be easier to get hold of than Aurifil and buying it will benefit the QGBI.  Have any of you lovely people used this thread yet?  What do you think?
Apart from all that lovely sewing-related stuff it's been a dull and miserable day, weather-wise, here in Lincolnshire so it's time for winter food.  I've got a slow cooker full of savoury mince and I'm making Yorkshire pudding to have with it, plus French beans from the garden which are still going strong.  Sounds warming eh?  When we've eaten I'll be back with a needle in my hand working on the little blocks for the bag I'm making - Southern Belle from Monkey Buttons.  Life's pretty good really and tomorrow I'm having a day with DD :) so that's be a good day too, we're going to have a browse in John Lewis among other things.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Romance in the Autumn Air

Patchwork and Quilting Magazine giveaway results, drum roll please...
The two comments I chose made me smile, for different reasons, Wendy is kindly leaving some fabric for me to buy when I visit Japan and Judith is thinking of her friend.  Ladies, let me have your snail mail addresses and I'll get the magazines off to you while it's still September.  Well done and thank you to everyone who entered and thank you to British Patchwork and Quilting.
What have I been up to since my last post?  It seems a long time ago. 
Well it seems romance is in the air as I had wonderful news from my DS, while he and his GF were on holiday in Florida in August they got engaged to be married.  They had a great time wearing their "Just Engaged" badges at Disney's Magic Kingdom.  Congratulations you two lovely people, what colours shall I start buying for your Double Wedding Ring quilt? 
And more romance, DH and I went to a wedding on Thursday, the first wedding we've been to for years.  Our lovely friend Clair married Jon in Norfolk and she looked really beautiful and so happy. 
I haven't been doing much sewing but my sister brought me some pretty blue and white fabrics back from her trip to USA and my lovely friend Sal sent me some gorgeous Aboriginal fabrics for my birthday so I have no excuse.  It's getting very autumnal here, misty mornings, John Keats' poem, To Autumn, sums it up beautifully:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
and so I should soon have lots of time indoors happily stitching away.  I've made a little to do pile, including an Advent wall hanging so I must start soon.  What are you working on at the moment?  Whatever it is, have a great weekend.
Wendy said...
Oh wow, you're going to Japan! I'm so jealous. I'm going on a business trip to China soon and I was originally going to Japan too, but that got cancelled. I'd love to visit that fascinating country, and buy up all the fabric, so at least with me not going, there'll be some left for you!
Judith said...
Hi Lis, my friend is going into hospital & I'm collecting up some mags for her to take with her. She quilts too so she would love these. Thanks for the giveaway. Jxo