I was shocked
by your Auschwitz mouth.
It stuck in my mind;
wouldn’t fade the way
the chocolate of your voice
I could only conjure up
a thin brown imitation.
Your open mouth:
my surprise and yours;
a word left unsaid,
a breath left untaken.
Mistral stirs up the wavering wheat field
A frenzy of crows are buffeted there
A storm is approaching; a cauldron of weather.
A murder of black birds are moved by the air.
The canvas is caught by the sighs of the planet.
It billows and fills as the paint is applied.
The heat of the meadow will all be forgotten
when thunder clouds break and the storm has arrived.
Into the distance my path winds to its finish,
short of the three score and ten you had planned.
Your harbingers call me away to my future
to put down my paintbrush and dance with the damned.
So, I have been gone for a long time.
At the point of my last post I was in the process of going back to work. It became clear early on that posting would not be compatible with that particular environment. It was a difficult time but it gave me the confidence to realise that I would not be defined by others opinions of me. I have been in my new job for 6 months and it has been a very rejuvenating experience.
I am conscious that at points in my life I have made the decision to follow the advise of 1 Corinthians 13 and put away childish things. At the end of my degree, I stopped writing and reading entirely. When John was ill I gave up my dream to return to Scotland to live. His illness has hobbled many hopes and dreams but I have realised that they are only slowed; if we wish to pursue them we can, we just have to reframe them.
At Christmas I got an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. Since I started my new job in September, I read on the bus going to and from the little market town I now work in. I had a kindle app for my phone but it was not a very comfortable read and so I organised my Christmas present. On Boxing Day I discovered the Outlander tv series. Drawn in by the use of Gaelic, I was entranced from the first episode. Perhaps it was the bounty of the season, perhaps it is my addictive personality but I binge watched seasons one and two. I was and am completely enchanted by it and soon discovered it was adapted from a series of books by Diana Gabaldon.
I meant only to read the first two, so that I was up-to-date with the series. I was going to do a read along type of thing but at the end of book 2 I was not able to resist. I am now re-reading the series.
The books, the turn of the year, the anniversary of my own darling deceased Scot, started me on a journey of thought. I can learn Gaelic, I can move back to Scotland, we can be a nation again… and I will be there when we are. Maybe not in this moment, but one day. These are not childish things and I will not put them aside again.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
So with a new house comes a new garden. When we got the keys it looked something like the Somme only wetter. Months of rain had made it fit only for hippopotomi; God only knows how they managed to build the houses.
But before we actually moved in they had laid exquisite, Wimbledon quality turf all we needed was an umpires chair and strawberries and cream and we would have been away.
In the last couple of weeks we have taken delivery of some dwarf fruit trees (plum, pear, apple and cherry) and the wood to make some large raised beds.
Stupidly, impatiently, I filled the pots for the fruit trees with some magic expanding compost which was light to carry. It didn’t look like it was expanding so I used a bag per pot – needless to say they now look something akin to the magic porridge pot.
Then our timber arrived for our raised beds. We have made two large raised beds (2’6″ x 13′) and it’s been much better value than even the best value kit form raised beds. (£40 for both).
I have planted Coriander (cilantro), broad (fava) beans and spring onions (scallions) so far. I am, as you can see, waiting for some more compost to be delivered.
Passionflowers and sweet peas are on the kitchen windowsill. Herbs have been purchased today (thyme, rosemary, sage, dill, chives and oregano). I have seeds ready to go and the compost will be here tomorrow.
Can you tell I’m excited. My mum sent me some money for these roses. Chickens next year 🙂
We have a wonderful history of traditional quilting in the United Kingdom wonderful Welsh quilts, wholecloth quilts and paper pieced quilts. Great information about these local traditions is held by the Guild of Quilters of the British Isles. When I have some spare money, I will be joining.
If, like me, the idea of of all those little bits of paper and fabric and those hand turned seams is a bit intimidating you might take a look at American style quilting instead.
I must admit to trying to do the little hexagons when I was a child, and it may be that I do have a lot more patience at this ripe old age but somehow I doubt it.
I started using precuts (mostly by Moda as these are the most affordable here) as I was not confident with scissors and cutting out, the fact that all that was done for me was a real boon.
The Moda Bakeshop gives some great inspiration and projects are graded on difficulty and I have been very inspired by the tutorials I have watched by the Missouri Star Quilt Company and their video tutorials. Jenny Doan has a wonderful way of making it seem simple and achievable. It’s a great starting point.
I have made things I would never have imagined I could achieve and Free Motion Quilting has become something of a favourite after intially terrifying me.
I now belong to a wonderful group of quilters on Etsy, mostly from North America, all different and inspirational. Please visit the team shop, not necessarily to buy but to be inspired by their talent and creativity
Well after almost a year, here I am again.
The move and its on and offness got a bit much and I decided to stay quietish for a bit. We are now quite settled, John’s gone to look at studio space this morning and I’m working on a commission for a customer.
He’s recently been accepted as an exhibiting artist at Flameworks, so barring any neurological surprise we are now making progress.
I have been busy while I’ve been quiet and below is a selection of the lovely things I’ve managed to create:
Lots of things of wended their way off around the globe, including an enormous crochet blanket. All my stuff is available for sale over in my Etsy shop. So if you know me, stop by and say hello.