Going forward; looking back


My beautiful pictureAs I said yesterday, it’s all change here.

I have to look at all as an opportunity, even if it is not something I would choose if I had different options.  Anyway the summer has been filled with custom creations, and the blanket from hell in particular gave me the option to watch lots of quilting videos and think about the direction I would like to travel in next.

For my birthday my son gave me some money and I bought some Kaffe Fasset shot solids for a wall hanging for myself which I’m working on at the moment.  It will be my own, modern interpretation of a garden quilt.

I spent quite a lot of time watching Eleanor Burns.  I love her zeal, and her back story, and the back stories to all those quilt.  I was able to pick up a 1929 copy of Ruth E Finley’s Old Patchwork Quilts and The Women Who Made Them, look on Abebooks if you are in the UK, as they wanted £65 on Amazon.  I got a couple of Eleanor’s books too and Christmas may well involve Bears in The Woods wall hangings.  I also bought Marsha Radtke’s A Baltimore Album.

Thinking about tradition made me look to our own quilting heritage here in the UK.  Did we have one? was it all borrowed?  I bought another book Quilts of the British Isles by Janet Rae.  It was an eye opener and I have been inspired by a number of the quilts, particularly the military quilts and am hoping to contact a local military tailor to see if I can have off cuts to make into a quilt perhaps for the Royal British Legion to auction.

At the back of the book is the a quilt, after the Glasgow School which I intend to use as the basis for a silk cot quilt.  I want to hand applique and hand quilt it  although I don’t intend to do needle turn applique – I thought a using the technique where you sew the pieces onto fuseable interfacing but using a silk gauze instead.  I ultimately would like to enter it into some competitions but when all this will ever happen, who’s to say?

Oh, and by the way, if you like the paintings on the last two posts they can be found over here.

Strange times


My beautiful pictureOn a whim, just before the summer holidays, I contacted a very wise former colleague and asked about getting back into governance.

I used to work for a number of different schools as what we call here the Clerk to the Governors.  When I finished at my last job, days seemed incredibly dark for a variety of reasons I won’t go in to here but as a result my confidence was at an all time low.

Over the last few years I have tried to learn to cope better with John’s illness and the stresses and strains that life has thrown our way, not always successfully.  I am learning to be kinder to myself and my quilting and handmade things have given me a new confidence.  Going to craft fairs and talking to people about what I do has helped me to understand the value of my abilities in a kinds of different parts of my life.

This week has done that too: an unexpected opportunity from an unlikely (I thought) source has made me see that I do have value to others beyond my front door.  I will try to remember this when stress rears its ugly head again.

I will continue to run Love Quilts and to make the things I love,; I haven’t stopped being a carer, the work I do can largely be done from home. I’m sure non of this will increase the frequency with which I update my blog!

Good Fortune – Summer Dreaming, the story of a quilt


Way back in May, at a craft fair, I attend most months, I was approached, thanks in no small part to a runty  border collie puppy, by a lovely couple who spotted my Good Fortune bed runner.

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They loved the warmth of the colours and the busy look of the juxtaposed strips but they wanted it bigger, with more piecing.  Of course, I said I could do it, not knowing if I could even get the fabric.  As it turned out, I couldn’t actually find the fabric I needed in the UK and found it on Etsy – as luck would have – the three jelly rolls that I had worked out that I needed to make the super king size quilt they wanted.  We agreed on a 8ft x 10ft (96″ x 120″) quilt as they wanted not too much over hang but I wanted to give them enough for a pillow tuck.  Anyway the rolls were ordered and I was able to use a local ebay based fabric shop for the border and backing fabrics.

 

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It took a little while for the fabrics to make the journey over from the States and it arrived in mid June.  To give me the size I wanted, I went with 5 strip blocks (not sure if this counts as Rail Fence, perhaps someone can let me know). I knew they wanted “the more pieces, the better” so was not worried about it being too busy for the, I was a bit concerned about the green fabric, not because it isn’t beautiful, but people react to green in very disporate ways, a bit like marmite.  It’s my favourite colour but would it suit my couple?

Any way the strip set piecing began; I’ll accept a small slapped wrist for not trimming my selvedges before I started but I had a method and it worked for me.

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So strips were sewn together and pressed so that all most of the seams went in the same direction! Then pressed flat.  Then the strips were cut into 4 10 1/2 inch blocks.

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Sets were sewn and blocks were cut until I had 80 blocks and then the assembly began; strips of 8 blocks sewn together and then, the ten 8 block strips sewn together to make the main quilt top.  It seemed enormous.  It’s the biggest quilt I have made, the previous being a quilt for my king size bed (6’6″ square). But as I finished the main piecing the weather changed from sunny-but-cool to hot, hot, hot!

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The weather helped me though: I was able to spread the quilt top out on our lawn to measure for the borders.  It had a grey narrow border, a pieced, scrappy border and a wide grey border.

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Luckily the weather lasted, I don’t think I could have easily made it last year with the continuous monsoons we had as I have nowhere in the house big enough to spread it out.  Once the border were on I spread it out again to measure for the backing.  Sadly I didn’t remember to take a picture of the backing which in the end I pieced with a rectangle of the grey, to break up the green, my nerves were still present, obviously. It looked lovely though.

Anyway the finished quilt top looked like this:

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It was pinned flat but was a bit blowy and very, very hot..  Scrabbling round the garden pinning it to the turf was no mean feat, and the next day, making the quilt sandwich in the same way, my new neighbours must think I’m a bit bonkers.  I pinned it securely in position and then basted it properly the next day.

I still hadn’t decided how to quilt it, I favoured an all over largish  stipple to counteract the geometric lines but my clients were a bit dubious, or unsure.  In the end I decided to use a geometric design, but chevrons at 2 inch spacing.   I must admit to almost taking it all out at one stage because it was so hot, and the quilt was so big and heavy and I knew that the free motions stipple would have been quicker!  I had hoped to have it finished in three to four weeks but I phoned my lovely customers and apologised for the slow progress but I was finding I could only quilt for about 15 minutes at a time.  They were very understanding and as soon as the weather cooled a little I was able to complete it.



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The scrappy border was added and then the quilt was washed, I speed hand sewed the border to the back as the forecast was promising rain and I wanted to dry it outside in the fresh air.

I am delighted with the finished quilt, in love with all Kate Spain’s designs, and am happy to report that my lovely clients have added this beautiful thing to the other lovely things they have in their beautiful home.

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Merry, merry month of May


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In the dim and distant past (or ancient history as my ten year old would have it) otherwise known as my childhood, I grew up in the large village of Mullion on the very specially gorgeous Lizard Peninsula.  The specially gorgeousness of this place is a state secret so I may now have to kill you all but I digress…

… The cold mornings we have been having with the wonderful sunny weather have brought to mind an early morning jaunt we took to the nearest town.  I think I must have been about five and we must have got up very early for we went into to town on the bus while the morning was still cold and dewy.  The nearest town was a place called Helston and at the  beginning of May every year it holds a festival called Flora Day (see picture above and google to see more images and videos).  The people of the town dance through streets and houses and businesses in a series of different dances all day.  They all sport a sprig of Lily of the Valley on the lapels or shirts and I was entranced by the magic of this and it is tangled in my mind with fairy tales and images from the Pied Piper of Hamlyn.  When I was my little it was one of my greatest wishes to dance at Flora Day but as I was neither born there, nor went to school there, or married to anyone from there it is never likely to happen.

Whether it is Flora Day or not, Helston is a beautiful little town and is having a hard time at the moment, so I urge you to go there and spend some money in their independent shops – we are off down again at the end of May for a few days.

In other news, I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by a lovely Canadian blogger Life on a Dirt Road and I will be responding to her challenge in my next post.

While I’m in the mood to urge, the Painter is just about to have a new studio delivered, so (more) normal service should shortly be resumed.

This one is called We Dream of Cornwall and can be found with lots of friends in his online gallery, here

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Another quilt is finished, pictures next time!

Busy, Busy, Busy


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So after all the gardening of last week we have had a week of Siberian winds to keep us all safely tucked in doors.  Over on the Quiltsy Team discussion thread there was some talk about the way we all work.  I have to admit to being a bit of a flitter.  Perhaps I have ADHD; I do and have always become easily distracted.

This week I have finished (well almost) a quilt that has been on the go since last summer (it’s the one above).  It has changed quite a lot during that time.  It was originally intended for my MIL who wanted something with mexican type colours so I found some hand dyed charm squares that fit the bill and thought they would work well with white.  She wanted it as a wall hanging that could double as a bed quilt.  Anyway when she saw the part pieced quilt she didn’t like it and now I have free reign to go and do something else for her.  She’s a bit of a fuss pot so I’ll probably do my own thing instead of trying to work out what I think she’ll like.

Anyway, it is, like I said, almost finished.  It is called Prairie Charm and has a red woven gingham backing with a printed white daisy on it and a chambray border.  It’s quite simply quilted.  I love the colours and would be inclined to keep it for myself but my quilts have to work for their living.

I also pieced a little blue and white one with charms called Spa by Deb Strain; it is the baby brother to the star bed runner.  I’m waiting on a delivery to finish it.  I was going to quilt it with celtic motifs but might change my mind about this, hoping to get it done tomorrow or Friday.

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Anyway, being at a loose end I decided to start the special quilt for Arty Daughter and her beau.  Not sure what I’m doing wrong but perhaps someone will pop along and let me know.

I am using layer cake squares to make 2.5″ strips to make 4 patch blocks and then cutting other layer cake squares into 4 5 inch squares to make HSTs with.  My HSTs are bigger than my 4 patch blocks: is this right?

I sewed them together and got this:

ImageAnd most of you will recognise it as one block of a Jacob’s Ladder quilt – if I am doing it wrong or the HSTs should be smaller, please let me know as the Maths of it all slightly frightens me.

Anyway, I’m off to post this on the Quiltsy Team blog in their Work In Progress Wednesday bit; it’s my first time – I hope it’s okay to ask stupid questions.

 

 

Spring must be sprunging …


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Spring must be here or hereabouts as my hay fever has started. We went out yesterday to get herbs from our local garden centre, it was bitter and they had lots of mother’s day style things but nothing in the way of herbs not even the hardier shrubbier ones so we went further out of town to a large garden centre which is part of a national chain and we did find some.

On the way there I noticed what my mum always call the green smoke, that whispy hardly perceivable bud burst, was starting on the hawthorns which make up quite a large part of our hedgerows and field boundaries.  Even if we get a cold snap now it will only stall the impending season; we have turned the corner, spring is within touching distance.

So i’m very pleased to say that the next lot of compost is on its way.  Maybe not quite enough to fill both beds but certainly enough to fill the first and partially fill the second. My potatoes are going in the far end of the second bed and they haven’t even arrived yet so no panic there.  I will be growing a variety called Red Duke of York which I’ve grown before.  I don’t see the purpose in growing all purpose potatoes in my limited space so I’m going for a nice red skinned first early which we will use as a salad potato.  It’s land cress, lettuce and rocket next and red onions, which again have not yet arrived.  A red theme is emerging, n’est-ce pas?  Not anything to do with me being a red head I can assure you but, I believe them to be a bit more slug and snail resistant.  Don’t say that too loudly because I haven’t actually seen any in the new garden, shhhh!  It may be an old wives tale; it’s certainly this old wife’s tale.

On that happy spring filled note I will wish you all a happy Saint David’s Day and be on my way.