Monday, 22 June 2015

Flowers and Happiness

Well so much for posting a regular blog. There are always so many things to and family to support which have to take priority.

I have been pottering in the garden for the last few weeks. My gardening style is haphazard to say the least. I pop things in where there is a space so I get a very jumbled look but nature doesn't plant in neat rows and breaks the rules so I do too.

I love this heuchera tucked at the back of the border.
The willow tree trunk is very beautiful.
The ceanothus positively humming with bees.
Self seeded aquilegia pop up all over the place. I just love these flowers swaying gently in the breeze.

The ultimate show offs!

Even the slugs are happy!
An extra bonus of planting green beans last year and not bothering to pick them left me with these wonderful dried pods which have set my creative brain into gear.

This is a leaf of the cucumber plant which was also left in its pot all winter. It has a lovely texture and colour to it.

Not a very interesting blog but I shall persevere.


Friday, 17 April 2015

Quilt, bags and cpper!

Well here we are in April so I think I had better record what I have been up to before I forget!

I spent a weekend pulling all patchwork fabrics out of various boxes, cupboards and drawers and sorting it into piles. I then auditioned each pile to decide what should stay and what should be passed on. I was VERY good and parted with nearly a whole carrier bag full!!! It has now all been put away in bags and takes up less space as it is tidy. I shall have to live to at least 150 to be able to use it all.

Here is the pink and white quilt I am making for a young lady who is now 7 months old. I am stuck for the backing hence the sorting out of all fabrics exercise to see if I had anything. I  may have to wait for the Malvern Quilt show in May to get the right fabric.

I found some very random fabrics including some with courgettes, spinach, asparagus and sprouts on. I have made these into shopping bags so will never need a plastic carrier again.

This is a small piece of my procion dyed silks hand stitched together. I am trying to get a worn, washed out effect and will be adding more stitch, snippets of threads etc

These are copper sheets which have had pieces waterjet cut from them. I am now trying to decide how to use them. I think I will get the top one bent so the uncut piece becomes a base. I may bend the middle one down the centre and use it to display stitched pieces by hanging them over the horizontal bars a bit like an old fashioned clothes airer. I like the idea of the pieces overhanging one another with all sorts of torn and frayed edges mixing together. It would also be changeable and I can add to it over time. I think the lower piece needs to be curled around into a sort of wave shape after weaving it with 'things'.
and finally:

Here is the cake I helped my son to make last night. It is a Hulk coloured Minion with a Captain America hood, a hologram H a la Rimmer from Red Dwarf and will have a Captain America shield made from gingerbread! 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Textile happenings

I have been busy since the last post stitching like mad to get my work ready for the Experimental Textiles stand at the Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch exhibition at the NEC last week. The show was brilliant with so much inspiring textile work on display.

Here are all the sketchbooks on display with a selection of our work on the walls.

The other stand had all the black and white painted journeys from the beginning of the course.

Here is my colourful fabric version of my journey with the black and white one underneath. This took me two months of stitching to get it this far and there are many more hours of work to go before it is finished. I will post sections of it at a later date and give details of the techniques used. As we didn't need to man this stand I have no idea what other people thought of my work which is probably a good thing as I won't be influenced to change it in any way.

I am now working on a pink and white baby quilt for a very special young lady. The top is nearly finished so I will just have to layer it up and quilt it. Pictures to follow.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Good heavens it's 2015!!

I cannot believe it is 2015 already. it doesn't seem like 15 years since everyone was gearing up for the year 2000 and my children were not adults!
Since my last post I have made two pirate outfits for Tori and her friend consisting of trousers, blouses and waistcoats plus a frock coat for Tori which were accessorised with cutlasses, blunderbusses, tricorn hats, a jolly roger flag and a parrot called Claude! Judging by the photos of the Christmas party the costumes were much admired and Claude had way too much fun!

On a company day out to London with Rowan to spend a 'lovely' afternoon on top of a seven storey building inside an air handling unit (very dirty and freezing cold) I saw this wall outside the back entrance of Claridges. It was just concrete but the shapes gave it a wonderful texture. This was the highlight of my day.

This would make an amazing quilt. I am thinking of felt or silk shapes on a thick cotton curtain interlining background.

The Experimental Textiles weekend in November was spent dyeing natural fabrics in plastic bags. A very simple process with minimal mess and good results.

This piece of stitchery is about 12 inches square and has been made using a selection of dyed silks, cotton and lace which have been stitched together using a tiny running stitch.

This is the back of the piece which is equally pleasing. I will go back and put more stitches in. Sometimes it is better to leave a piece which you have been working on for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes at a later date.

This is about 6 inches across, again main with scraps of dyed fabrics making used of frayed edges to give it texture and interest. I intend to stitch a couple more pieces in these colours and then join them together somehow.

This little piece is only 2 inches across and is made with all the dyed scraps which end up at the bottom of the pile. I find doing these tiny pieces very satisfying as they are relatively quick to do and I can play about with stitches. I have made quite a few of these and intend to keep them as a source of inspiration.

We also spent some time using transfer dyes. The dye is painted onto plain white paper and left to dry. The colours of the wet dye are quite dull and boring but when they have dried and been ironed or heat pressed onto synthetic fabrics the colours are very bright. For this piece I applied the dye to the paper with a piece of old sponge.

For this piece I splodged the dye onto the paper and then patted it randomly with my fingers. It reminds me of an underwater coral reef and I keep expecting a couple of fish to swim past!

This piece was made by ironing the dyed paper onto one fabric and then another. Each time the paper is ironed the colours fade. The brighter fabric was ironed onto Bondaweb and then shapes were cut out using a soldering iron, the paper backing removed from the Bondaweb and then ironed onto the paler fabric to give a very interesting effect. I want to stitch into this but need to be sure of my stitching because the fabric is shiny and will not be forgiving if any stitches have to be undone as the marks will show.

The January weekend of Experimental Textiles saw us spending a day playing with metal - foils, mesh, wire, washers, nuts and bolts etc. We then spend a day playing with painted Bondaweb and Tyvek. These pieces were made using Tyvek which had been cut and then heated with an iron so it bubbles and shrinks.

Happy New Year to everyone who may read this blog of mine.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Wet and Squishy felt making

Octobers weekend of Experimental Textiles saw us weaving, knitting and felt making.
This was a piece of loose knitting using a very knobbly wool threaded through with white merino wool tops and hand felted with soap and hot water. The result was not very good as the knitting wool and the wool tops did not combine totally so I ended up with a very floppy result.

I placed three layers of black wool tops over the top of the piece and stitched it between two pieces of fine net. Then I put in into the washing machine with an old towel on a hot wash.
After unpicking the net parcel the end result was interesting! A very stiff lump was the result. I now have to decide what to do with it. At least it proves you can felt in the machine giving a much thicker, stiffer felt than by hand.
I also found a bag of small bouncy balls and wrapped them with wool tops using hot soapy water to help the layers stick.
The wrapped balls ready to be wrapped in some old tights to hold everything in.

My stitched paper piece was a disaster so I decided to make a piece of felt in the same colours and maybe combine the two somehow!

I also decided to make a bowl. I layered up some wool tops and placed some small circles of Teflon as resists before the final layer. I then wet felted it until it started to come together and removed the Teflon exposing circles of a lighter colour underneath. I then used an old bowl and squished and squashed the felt onto it. I alternated working the felt either placed inside the bowl or outside the bowl.
This is the point at which I stopped as I like the shape and the edges of the bowl. It is now sitting in the airing cupboard to dry out. All I need now is time to progress these projects to an end result.
I have also started Maddie's quilt - more information to follow.
I think I will have to give up sleep in order to fit everything in.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Still life painting

The fourth weekend of Experimental Textiles in Redditch was painting and drawing a still life arrangement. This was made up of a very random selection of things including a recycled aluminium hubcap fish, stuffed hares. a lobster pot, a bead curtain, cushions and a plastic tortoise!

This is my painting. The blurry photo makes it look a little better. The whole thing was colour washed with Procion dye as the white background didn't go with the colours. I chose a pale blue as the colours reminded me of a tropical forest and I wanted bits of sky to show through.

The beauty of this is I tore my painting into rough strips and tried out arrangements which I could stitch into.

This is the final design. I have begun stitching using perle threads and wool in colours which match the colours in the piece. Stitching paper is hard because it tears easily and if you make a hole by mistake it shows.

I went with a simple running stitch to start then added a running stitch in and out of the first line of stitches which I then threaded wool in and out of. There are still a lot of stitches to do. I can't decide whether to add other types of stitch or to keep it simple.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Boston Holiday

My daughter treated me to a ten day holiday to Boston, Massachusetts. I had never been to the USA before so it was quite an adventure. I was worried about the flights as I am not very good at sitting still but we each packed a sewing project of cathedral window squares to be hand stitched together which kept us occupied in between watching the children's movie Rio and sleeping. We had a wonderful time visiting Salem..........
We spent an enjoyable day in Lowell visiting the Textile museum and the Quilt museum which had wonderful quilts on display. How on earth those pioneer women managed to stitch quilts with such  tiny stitches without electric light let alone find the time is beyond my imagination. I have electricity,  a washing machine, a  tumble dryer, a microwave,  a cooker, central heating and a sewing machine and still struggle to find enough time to sew!!!
This quilt was started in 1775 and hexagons were still being added by family members up to 1940. The papers on the back helped date it. It has never been finished. This means my descendants may still be finishing my quilts off in 2179!
This quilt has 6764 three quarter inch squares in it. All pieced and quilted by hand. Amazing work. It was made in 1880.
Here we are in the sand dunes of Cape Cod enjoying the sunshine. We had a fantastic time.