Saturday, 24 November 2012

A busy week

I've had a busy week and consequently my workshop with Ruth Issett last week seems ages ago. On Monday I managed to pull my back untangling a thread from the vacuum cleaner brush and then I had to take the car to have a new clutch fitted.   I had a bit of a walk into town to catch the bus home which helped ease my back and a routine visit to my chiropractor on Tuesday sorted it out and it is fine now.

I started the straight machine quilting on my quilt last weekend and began some of the hand stitching.  It has been so dull that I have needed to work under my daylight bulb.  I set my ironing board under the lamp and I could adjust it to just the right height for sitting upright while sewing.

Marvin likes to sleep in my workroom and keep me company, his favourite spot is on the chair just in front of the radiator.

Last Friday I order a secondhand copy of Ruth Issett's Colour on Paper and Fabric and it arrived on Tuesday which gave me something to read while waiting for the call to fetch the car.  While resting my back too!

I had also ordered four Karisma Colour pencils which are no longer made, however this company specialises in end of range pencils -  1buy1pencils so I ordered four of the colours I would use. Sadly I have worn out my yellows and would love to get hold of some.  I saw a new box of 48 pencils on sale on ebay for £150!!! But I'm not that desperate.

On Wednesday it was time to visit the hairdresser.  Consulting my calendar pages I realised it was two months since I have been, no wonder I couldn't see where I was going.

Wednesday afternoon I managed to finish the free motion quilting so I can put the sewing machine away for a while and get on with hand stitching.

My vermicelli stitching isn't too bad, but I'm inclined to move the fabric quickly on the corners so the stitches get longer.

Today a friend and I went to Childwickbury near St Albans to a Christmas Fair held at the home of Christiane and the late Stanley Kubrick.  Christiane is an artist and many of her paintings were on sale and she was there painting a beautiful still life, what a treat! I have long admired her colour filled paintings but did not realise until very recently that she had opened her home to the arts, holding two fairs a year.  The work on sale was of a very high standard with several textile artists, printmakers and painters showing their work. What a shame it was pouring with rain.
She also holds an Art School in the stables and runs many courses over the year - guess who is going to keep an eye open for next year's dates?

Well that it from me for now! I seem to have another busy week coming up so I'd better get on with some stitching.  You must be getting fed up with photographs of this quilt! However I think it is going to be with me for some time yet before it is finished.
Fingers crossed for a bit of sun in the coming week, I hope things are bright with you.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Two Colourful Days at Art Van Go

This week I had two wonderful days with Ruth Issett at Art Van Go in Knebworth.
The workshop was called Pushing the Boundaries of Colour and we certainly did that.

At the end of day one we all had a big pile of papers covered in colour.

My work station is in the front here - I had two spaces to myself and still managed to overflow the area.
Ruth first asked us to choose colours.

We covered paper with paint and dye.

Finally Ruth asked us to cut up the strips and assemble them into new strips or concertina books.

I bought myself a nice new sketchbook to fill with my cut strips.
However once at home I was filled with doubt about my colour choices.

Here are some examples I have made so far.
It was astonishing how many colours could be produced using just three.
I had selected magenta and lemon yellow to start with and then chose turquoise. Seeing other people's choices emphasised the difference just choosing a different blue or red could make.

Ruth opened up her little pot of paste she uses to stick layers of coloured tissue on her strips.  Those of us of a certain age were immediately transported back to our childhoods by its smell - that of almonds.  We all had to buy a pot, it was a good job A.V.G. had a supply in. What a delightful retro tin it is, complete with a little well in the centre which holds a little brush.  It smells nice enough to spread on your macaroons!
I used to use it to stick pictures in my scrap book with it when I was quite small. Mum would cut the nice bits out of birthday cards and I would do the sticking.

Finally this is the strip I created under Ruth's guidance.

This has made a great break from quilting and I have a stash of papers to play with when I want to push my colour sense some more. 
However it is going to be back to the quilting for me over the next few days.

I do hope you have a colourful weekend,

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Thanks for sticking with me in my quilt making.  I have finished piecing the quilt top and I am now ready to layer it with wadding and backing and start the actual quilting.

Quilt top

I ended up adding some extra paint to the motifs as I felt the new print block I had made (below) looked a bit too much like a Christmas decoration.  It was a bit laborious but worth it, as the little antler shapes were bugging me.  After all the effort I had put into the design I knew if would really annoy me if I did not tweak them. The difference is slight but is more like my original idea.

I have been exploring the photographs I took at the Luton Hoo walled garden when I had an artist's pass.  The scheme is still going, but I do have a lot of photographs so haven't renewed my subscription. There are a selection on my Flickr site if you're interested. There is so much of interest there and I hope to be able to use the inspiration for some future textile work.

These are studies of old finial posts that had been saved, but what really fascinates me is the fig trees that are trained up against the wall in the old glasshouses.

I've been playing with the levels on some of  pictures.

Winter figs

Spring figs

And just to finish, another page from my sketchbook.

I'm looking forward to a couple of days workshop with Ruth Issett, so I'm not sure I'll get much quilting done!
Hope you have a good week.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Words fail me...

I'm so upset about the impending doom to our Ash trees that I had to stop myself trying to spot them as I drove across the countryside last week.  Stopping at some traffic lights on a steep hill in town a few years ago was always a moment of pleasure as a mature Ash and a Scots pine met over the road and gave a beautiful patterned silhouette which I have tried to capture from memory.  I always thought I should try to photograph them, but it was a busy junction and before I could get it together they were both felled as part of building work. The two leaf patterns have definite decorative possibilities. I have to turn down the radio and skip past articles in the newspaper if I see the disaster mentioned - ignorance is bliss and I want to be able to enjoy these beautiful graceful trees as long as possible. Don't you just want to weep and tear your hair knowing that there is seemingly nothing to be done to stop them dying? 

Meanwhile the theme for The Sketchbook Challenge this month is the Spice of Life, thinking about what spices your day especially at this time of year.  My thought turned to favourite woollens and so I had a go at sketching the stitches very carefully in pencil adding some Inktense pencil colour to make sense of the rows.

Once sussed, had another go using  pen and lovely spicy colours.

Another thrill this time of year are the berries everywhere - never tire of their vibrant colours.

Meanwhile back in the sewing room...

I have printed all the 'square in a square' blocks and stitched the straight cut blue strippy blocks, adding some prairie points, (all pinned up here on my design 'wall').  Next I am going to have a go at some free cut strips for the top and then add a few printed motifs.  I had to cut a new, smaller block for the printing and the shapes are a little more delineated. I hope they don't appear too Christmassy as that is not the look I'm going for. The brighter orange paper shapes at the top are the original motif.  I could paint over them - cannot decide.  Besides that I am pleased with how much my patchwork resembles my design - I know that was the idea, but I haven't managed to pull it off before!

In between time I have stitched up my bag and lined it - just deciding how to finish it off, whether to add a magnetic clasp which is practical, but a bit clunky, may just make do with a button and a cord. Hopefully tomorrow I'm having some new shelves put up in my sewing room, so I have got to do some clearing out sometime today,
Have a good week