Monday, 29 April 2013

Practically Free Flowers

These are the tulips I bought in the garden centre sale earlier this year!  They were marked down to 50p as it was much too late for planting but I thought they had more chance in my garden than in their packet and at that price it was worth giving them that chance.  How beautifully they have rewarded me.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Folded Bow Tie Coaster

One of the demonstrations at Threads and Patches last week was of Folded Bow Tie Block.  We were given a little kit to make two blocks.
It was suggested that we could make a pin cushion with the two finished blocks but I have quite a few pin cushions!
I part-filled mine with rice and then put in some spice seeds.  It's softly filled so that my coffee cup will nestle safely on it, the heat from the drink will release the spicy aroma.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Soyetsu Yanagi and Bernard Leach

When I was in Japan last year I became very aware of the importance of pottery in Japanese culture.  We visited the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo and saw wonderful examples of the potter's art.  Mummy loaned me this book when I got back from Japan, it includes an introduction by Soyetsu Yanagi.  He coined the term "mingei", declared the Folk Art Movement in 1926, and established the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum in 1936.
I was interested to read Yanagi's opinion of Bernard Leach and his work in relation to Japanese culture and so I have reproduced it here.
I have never been attracted to making pots although I have always admired craft pottery.  Both Mummy and DH studied pottery at college when they trained as teachers, maybe it's in my blood somewhere.  I like the Buddhist quatrain that Soyetsu Yanagi chooses to end his introduction, excellent for travellers.

A Potter's Book by Bernard Leach was published in 1940 by 
Faber and Faber Ltd  ISBN 0 571 09672 7

Thursday, 18 April 2013

A Quilting Jolly

I've had a great day out today with the local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild.  They had organised a jolly to Threads and Patches near Milton Keynes and I was able to join them.
It was an early start but we were greeted with homemade cake (chocolate cake for me please) and coffee and then settled down for some really useful demonstrations.  Time for a tasty buffet lunch and then shopping!  Here are some of the ladies queuing to pay for their goodies.
I stocked up on 505, was tempted by a pattern and fell for a Dresden Plate ruler that was demonstrated during one of the morning sessions.  Rulers seem incredibly expensive (I'm embarrassed to tell you how much this one was) but for something like Dresden Plate, that needs to be so accurate, they are worth buying, and it is a block I like to make.
The plastic things at the bottom of the photo are Bob-Eez.  These were demonstrated for use in making kumihimo, they hold the threads clean and tidy and also weight them slightly.  I only bought eight but if they work well I will need to buy a further eight.
"What about fabric?" I hear you cry.  Well my haul was of mixed pink FQs and a couple of metres of cream on cream.  Wasn't I restrained?  The pinks are for the next Global Piecers' swap which will be of hearts blocks as a reflection of the love and support us quilters have for one another.
I was impressed with the selection of fabrics available at Threads and Patches (they also have other craft materials, wool and a longarm quilter who works on site).  It's definitely worth a stop if you're in the area.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Boro Update

My new boro cloth is now pieced.  I made really good progress while at Country Roads Quilters on Tuesday and then added the borders today.  I shall layer it with wadding and backing and then put it on my "to do after my op" pile when I shall enjoy stitching into it with sashiko threads.
Tomorrow I am going on a jolly with the local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild.  We are off to Threads and Patches in Milton Keynes for demonstrations, lunch and shopping.  Report to follow of course.

Monday, 15 April 2013

New Boro

Today I started making my own boro cloth.  Not by repairing something I already have but by combining sample pieces of indigo dyeing done by my Indigo Sisters and me, pieces collected when I was in Japan this time last year.  
Judi brought pieces she had dyed in various shibori designs at home, Nat dyed indigo moons, Carin gave me a sashiko piece to stitch in my spare time (ha ha), Blandina gave me silk threads, we all cut our own katazome stencil and dyed sample pieces.  It seems appropriate to join all these together, with hand stitching, to make a souvenir cloth in the style of Japanese boro.  All the small pieces that could get lost somewhere in my sewing room will become a whole.
You might remember that I wrote about visiting the Amuse museum with Carin where we enjoyed a magnificent collection of Chuzaburo Tanaka's boro and of visiting Amy Katoh's exhibition of boro with Julie.

"More Textiles, Uniquely Japanese
Boro Futon Covers
Boro is a Japanese word meaning “tattered rags” and it’s the term frequently used to describe lovingly patched and repaired cotton bedding and clothing, used much longer than the normal expected life cycle. Like early North American patchwork quilts, boro textiles revealed much about the Japanese family'sJapanese Boro Futon Cover living standards and the nature of the economy of their time.
The penny-wise Japanese rural wife repaired the family’s sleeping futon covers again and again by “boro” patching fabric scraps over thin areas and holes in the fabric. Adding sashiko sewing to the repair gave greater strength to the material. Today international collectors regard boro textiles as uniquely Japanese and striking examples of a bygone and lost folk craft.

The same sewing technique that was used to repair boro futon covers was also put into practice when repairing noragi (farm clothing). This was done in order to increase the lifespan of the clothing and add extra layers of fabric thickness for warmth.

At the time when Japan was struggling to recover from the devastation of the Second World War, the Japanese regarded boro textiles with great shame in that these utilitarian textiles served as an open reminder of Japan's impoverished past. Currrently, these same textiles are cherished and collected for the stories they tell and the windows they open into Japanese folk culture and history."

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Back to Textiles

Today sees a return to textiles, the more usual theme of this blog.
This time last year I was in Japan on the Japanese Textile Study Tour.  It seems so recent and yet so long ago.  I have just spent a wonderful few hours sorting through the box of things I brought home from Japan, fabrics I bought or was given, things I made, gifts from the Indigo Sisters... and have three small projects lined up to begin now that the Wedding Quilt has left my hands.  In a few weeks I am to have an operation on my foot, two weeks of sitting with my foot raised will provide lots of lovely time for hand stitching.
While I was away last week I visited the Roman site Vindolanda with Saz and Sam.  This is an amazing fort and settlement, archaeological digging continues and there is a museum showing some of the wonderful things that have already been found.  I homed in on the textiles.  My photos were taken through the display cases so are not of the best quality but I thought you would still like to see them.  I have taken all the information from the display boards in the museum.
This child's sock is made from two old pieces of cloth (boro!) and is the only complete garment found at Vindolanda so far.
The textiles are all woven from wool with a range of weaving techniques from coarse to very fine.
The patterns shown here are:
Plain 1/1 Tabby
Basket and Half-Basket
Plain, Chevron and Diamond Twills
Decorative Woven Bands
This is a Roman "housewife" (a needle-case) containing a selection of graded fine-iron needles. Soldiers carried something like this in their kitbags to make repairs to their clothing while on the frontier.  Surgeons and medics would use similar needle cases in case of emergencies on the frontline.
These are a selection of needles recovered from Vindolanda, including a large copper alloy example. The bone and tiny iron needles would have been used for all types of sewing.  The fine metal examples would also be used for medical purposes.

The Romans used a variety of different dyes and chemical treatments to colour their textiles.  The root of the madder plant was used to produce a red dye, and a piece of checked cloth found shows traces of a lichen-based purple.  Yellow was reasonably easy to achieve by using a variety of local barks, lichens and heather, and adding a rusty nail to the dyeing process could produce a pleasant greenish hue.  Urine was used to soak the dyestuffs before they were boiled, which would also alter the colour of the wool.  All of the dyes were set using the mineral alum.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

D&J Wedding - Post 2

I'm away with Saz and Sam at the moment, enjoying Hadrian's Wall Country and staying on a farm.  I've got a brief internet connection so here are a few more wedding photos, thank you for all your lovely comments on my last post.
Inside the wonderful Peterhouse Chapel waiting for the bride.
Jessica and her gorgeous bridesmaids (and their stunning shoes).
Isn't my daughter-in-law beautiful?
Me and my guy, all dressed up!
Managing that fabulous dress.
How do you cut a croquembouche?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Most Perfect Wedding Ever - Post 1

A quick post-wedding of the year post.  
I am very, very tired but elated.  
David and Jessica were really pleased with their quilt.
Their wedding day was a perfect day, everything went beautifully and they looked gorgeous.
And this was the view across to Peterhouse College from my hotel bedroom.