Saturday, 30 June 2007

What's on the machine

This is the little wholecloth so far. It's about 14" X 10". I need to decide what to do as a filler which will be scaled down small enough and still look good. I hadn't realized how difficult it would be to do such tiny feathers. Some of the little lobes of the feathers are a quarter the size of my little fingernail.

And I've finished the background on this one. Today I'll wash it to remove my black quilting guidelines and block it before it's ready to have it's binding on. The thread in the background is a variegated Madeira Polyneon and the couched thread is something a friend got in Hong Kong.
As I write, I've just realized that I don't know if the colour in the thread runs or not (gulp), watch this space........

Friday, 29 June 2007

Victorian quilt fabrics

Just thought I'd share some lovely Victorian prints with you from one of my antique quilts. Here's a quilt where she wasn't concerned about points. Some people think this adds to their charm. I love the stripe with navy, red, cream and blue and the pink is gorgeous.

Last year there was a fabulous reproduction range of turkey red out there. There are still one or two bits around. I so wish I'd ordered the minimum quantity of each but at the time I thought I didn't really want as much as a ½ yard of all of them. Now I think I don't want to pay the postage for the odd one or two left out there on the shelves.

I think I can see myself working mainly on whole cloths and medallion (framed) quilts for a while with a few smaller contemporary pieces in between. We'll see. I hate to commit to too much because then it feels more like a burden of things to be done rather than a pleasure.

I started that little miniature yesterday. See When you can't do much of Anything . Why did I think a miniature would be quick? The lobes on those little feathers are less than ¼" wide and I'm going up and down just outside each line instead of backtracking along them. I'm wondering what backgrounds to use which would be proportionate to it's tiny size. Oh well, it keeps me off the streets (grin).

Thursday, 28 June 2007

All of over the world and June Barnes' work

Yesterday I had been blogging for 4 weeks. I put a site meter up on the 5th of June and this morning found I had over 1,000 visits already. This is lovely, it means I'm not talking to myself (I'm sure all you long term bloggers know this feeling).

I've had visits from the expected quilting countries, the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ. I've been delighted to find visitors from such diverse countries as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iceland (I'm particularly delighted with this as Iceland is such a small country), Japan, Kuwait, Dubai, Iran (yes Iran!), Italy, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain, France, Greece (yasou!) and Russia.

June Barnes is the best machine quilter here in the UK. I remember first seeing her work at Quilt 199? (don't remember which year) at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. The quilting blew me away. The quilt, if memory serves me well, was irregular spiked yellow and oranges on a white background. The background quilting was a marvelous 'doodle' of little suns and stars, some with little smiling faces. She'd had so much fun. Then I saw more of her work at various National Patchwork Championships, Baroquen Dreams and If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it (I hope I have these names right). June now works in a totally different style, working with getting different textures by shrinking the work deliberately after quilting and in distortions. On her blog she has put forward a case for not having competition in Quilt Shows. I'm not sure I agree but it is very well thought out.
You can see her work here and if my linking skills haven't worked copy and paste this url open each gallery and click on the thumbnails to see the whole works and some have details. (June if you read this, I would love to see more detailed close ups).

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Quilting designs are everywhere

This is on one of the inherited bits of furniture. Wouldn't it look great repeated round a border? Feel free to use this.
And this one is from the same dresser.

Sorry about the dust, photos are cruel, it really doesn't look this bad in reality.

All this sort of stuff is considered 'brown furniture' by the trade and is definitely not in fashion. If I had a barn I would buy it all up and store it until this current phase of regurgitated 50's and 60's stuff is over.
Sadly as a child, I can remember a huge bonfire in the garden where we burnt all this sort of stuff in my family before we went to live in Australia. I remember it so well because one of the items was my doll's house (I was about 9 at the time). It hurts every time I see a similar one on the Antiques Road Show.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Keys have been found!

Funny how the St Anthony thing works?!?
They were on the grass near where I had been cleaning out the down pipe.

Respect your work

In an online group I belong to the question 'Do you make quilts for show?' came up.
A lot of people felt their work wasn't good enough. I know that feeling and for a very long time my quilts weren't good enough. I was ashamed of my mistakes, my quilting, my points not meeting etc etc. What was I doing producing stuff that I was ashamed to have scrutinized?

Two things changed my attitude to my work.

I did a course with Barbara Barber, , she suggested you should tidy the edges of your quilt by zig zagging before you started quilting. This was showing respect to your work, keeping it clean and tidy. If you didn't respect your work, who would? (BTW I did this for a while but now I prefer to have a bit of extra backing to 'hang' onto when quilting the edges).

That word respect stuck. I hadn't even considered respecting my work before this.

Later I did a course with June Barnes, . Her work is wonderful. She was talking about what to do with thread ends. She said she used to clip them off. Then she imagined her mother talking to her in the way she had when she was small and her mother said 'Are you happy with that?' Then she started burying her threads.

At this point I started to have a different attitude to what I produce. My unpicker became my friend. It gave me a chance to put things right. I made a space on my wall so I could look at the work in progress and see if I was satisfied.

Unpicking seams which don't come up to scratch, makes you sew and cut more carefully. When appliquéing, it takes a little longer to put in smaller stitches but it is less painful than having to redo it. We're not in a race (unless it's a quilt for an event like a wedding or a birth). The more you correct your mistakes as you go, the less mistakes you make and the more you are happy to have other quilters not just look at you work from a few feet away, but also to get up really close and personal with it.

You wouldn't serve your family lumpy gravy, so why would you give them a quilt with mistakes in it? It doesn't matter if you design the work yourself or use a bought pattern, go for quality over quantity.

Respect your work, respect yourself and you will find you produce work which not only are you not ashamed by but you can be proud of.

BTW when I mentioned this to June Barnes a few years later, she had no memory of it at all, but it has stuck with me for all these years.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Mondays at Toad Hall

Almost every Monday I make chicken stock.
I take off all the meat off the carcass, add it to some water, the left over gravy, vegetables and stuffing, add an onion or two (leaving the skins on for colour), celery if I have it and any other vegetables which look like they should be used (not tomatoes or parsnips, wrong flavours), a bouquet garni (I used to make my own but Waitrose sell very good ones, Tesco ones are revolting, I bought one packet when I had my mammogram, ugh!), and if you can get the chef version of Schartz mixed herbs this is good as well). A Knorr chicken stock cube, I know it's saltier than the others but you cannot beat the flavour. This will simmer happily for 2-4 hours. Then I strain it, retaining any whole onions and carrots.
Come the evening, I will either use the stock to cook rice and towards the end of cooking I add the chicken meat diced, some red and green peppers, and some sweet corn. Or after straining, I will add the chicken, thicken it a little and add some herby dumplings, new potatoes and whatever suitable vegetables I have.
The house smells of delicious home cooking and I feel virtuous (grin).

My purchases at the show

I really shouldn't be allowed out with my plastic
33 spools of YLI Soft Touch, 9 of Bottomline and 1 of Robinson Anton, 5 lovely wooden buttons (1 out of shot is a kangaroo) and some big clips. (I'm going to try and pin baste on my drawing table)

This pretty blue print turned out to be something 'I had to have' . Nice to see it is English.

As is this one, the colour is more crimson and less vermilion this photo (glad there are no toes in this shot)
The coveted Prussian Blue. I still can't find it in a reproduction line although one company calls one of their lines Prussian Blue, it's not as bright as the originals.

I also bought a bolt of really nice black and what was left on a bolt of white cotton lawn.

As I said, I should not be allowed out (grin)

A Day at the Show

Receiving the Machine Quilting award (photo taken by Cherie Lumsden's DH, thank you) I now have another Machine Quilting little salver. I don't quite know what to do with them. I'd hang them up on the wall in the loo if it wouldn't be quite such a problem keeping them clean. I do admit to being proud of winning them so don't want to hide them away.

And still haven't found my keys, I have the key from XXXXX's ring and the spare set of house keys.

This must have been the wettest June on record. Yesterday was different, not the torrential downpours we've been having (think monsoons) but steady heavy rain.

I left a bit late as I knew I'd have to stay after the show to collect my quilt (so much nicer when the show is less than an hour away). When you enter some of the shows over here, you are given a one day ticket which makes entering the show a good deal. Except if you forget your ticket (grin)? I think my brain is becoming fried in the hot flashes through the night. Luckily they know me now and let me in.

This was the cup I won last year. This is a perpetual trophy which you hand back. So it sat on my sideboard and I always felt a little embarrassed as it didn't have my name on it. Your name goes on when you send it back, so I had to get this photo to prove to myself it had been mine once (grin).

I can't show you photos of the quilts as there are signs everywhere saying you can only take photos for personal use and you should not publish them. My own quilt hung better at this show than at the Festival of Quilts, but still not perfectly. They don't put it in a bag before hanging, if you ask them nicely.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Where are the car keys?

XXXXX is fretting, he thinks replacement car keys alone will cost over £100, he could be right but they must be in the house somewhere as how else would I have got in the front door?

A few weeks ago I lost my mobile phone. I wasn't worried, I knew it would be around somewhere. I had a bad back so couldn't do a lot of searching. After a couple of weeks I checked all the shops I'd been in by the till receipts in my bag. I also checked with the supplier to see if anyone had used it, no. XXXXX pointed out that these days people lift phones for the intrinsic value of the phone not for the calls. Eventually I bought a new sim card and put it in my old phone.

So yesterday, I found my phone but lost my keys. I'd rather have the keys (grin)
Now isn't this sad, I got the phone to go with a Cath Kidston quilt I've made. I can't show you the quilt until it's done it's stint in a show but the photo shows it on Fliss's duvet cover.

And has anyone seen the charger for the new phone? Nokia in their wisdom have changed the connections on their chargers.

XXXXX has just come back from town. Must be the day of the car keys, she'd locked hers inside the car, so Dad had to go in and rescue her. They went into the Carphonewarehouse and she was up for a new phone. She used to go out with one of the lads in the shop before he went off on his gap year so they know us in there. Anyway the upshot is she has a new phone with twice as many minutes and texts plus they gave her an Ipod Nano. As the only family member without an Ipod, it's mine! (wish I knew how to add a smiley face).

Friday, 22 June 2007

On a roll of good news.


of course the new kitchen radio turning itself on full blast at midnight. I suffer from insomnia anyway so it wasn't a big deal for me.

Getting on to the good news, my quilt has been accepted into the World Quilt Show. This is excellent as far as I'm concerned as after reading Ferret's Post and her problems not getting her quilts over the pond, I'm pleased all I have to do is send the quilt up to Bristol and they take care of the rest. Scary to see all the other names going, real quilters (gulp).

The bad news is there is a postal strike planned for next week and the quilt has to be there before the 7th July. So I sewed on a label as proscribed (in future I shall make all my labels have every possible piece of information so I don't end up making one for each show). And I got it packed, folded on the diagonals and put bubble plastic in the folds. This wasn't too easy as I don't actually have a bit of floor this big anymore. But I did it. And I played with word to make a nice big label. And I collared Fliss to come with me. And it's all ready to go but..........................

I can't find my car keys!! We've even got to the point where we've checked the freezer.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Whoo Hooo!

I've just had a phone call to let me know Peace#1 has won the Machine Quilting Award at the Nation Patchwork Championship at Sandown.
I'm very pleased this is always the award I want to win if I can.
BTW this photo is how it hung at the Festival of Quilts last year. The creases show as does the wobble at the bottom.

Practice samples

When I quilt I always have a small piece with the same fabric, batting and backing as the quilt I'm working on. I use it to get my tension right in the first instance, then as a warm up piece to get my hands and eye in when I've been away from the machine overnight or for a day or two and I also use it for a little while each time I oil the machine. I need to know that if I have over oiled the quilt won't pick it up but I am willing to sacrifice my sample.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Quilt has gone to Sandown

Peace#1 has gone to Sandown, National Patchwork Championships. With Colin's help I hung it before I left to check it hangs perfectly. It does, well it did this morning, I'll see when I get there if it does still. It would be lovely if it wins something, but I'll be seriously happy if it just doesn't get criticized for not hanging well. After the Festival of Quilts I found out it had been folded into a paper bag overnight before being hung. Not a good look for a very heavily quilted piece.
It hung perfectly on the rail but to make extra certain I put a couple of pieces of tape at either end for their rail to thread through. It is a problem with showing quilts their display methods vary from what you would do in a permanent setting. At home it would have a 2nd sleeve at the bottom with a cut off length of wood to weigh it down. This wouldn't be necessary on most of my quilts but this one has curved corners so the sleeve doesn't go to the edge.
I'll know on Sunday...

Monday, 18 June 2007


Just to show not all my quilts are something to be proud of. This is the back which looked quite good until I washed it. The yellow then turned a murky greenish greyish colour of yellow. The stippling wasn't fine enough to really put a red veil over the quilt and quite frankly the quilting wasn't too hot either. I knew the tension wasn't right and just kept ploughing on. Some how I felt it 'would sort itself out'. Where that thought came from I have no idea (grin)

The front is a piece of Ricky Tims hand dye. I wasn't happy about how the colour ran and wrote to them. Their reply suggested that it doesn't run with their hardness of water etc..
It went to a quilter's new grand daughter who has no expectation of my work. I'm happy to think it will be sicked over, pee'ed and pooed on (very very big grin)

Sunday, 17 June 2007

How very cool is this?

This is a photomosaic done of close up of one of my quilts. Click on it to see how clever this is. I've wasted so much time today playing with this, be warned.....
Here is the photo before treatment,

New little quilt

This is a sneak preview as this is to be entered in a competition. The photo is of about 6" of the little quilt. The whole thing is only 24" square. The echo type background quilting was the first time I've played with this. I love it and will use it again. Perhaps it would be good to give the impression of one of those linen 18th century quilts.
If you click on the photo it will show it up about 4 times life sized.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Yeah! Poo!

The camera has arrived but it runs on different memory cards than the ones I own so hopefully tomorrow I can play with it.

Waiting in for camera delivery

I've included this photo of my helper, Sinclair who last year decided that my Nostalgia quilt was just the one he wanted to get involved with. You can see the temptation, that little silver thing going up and down. And why is it he only wants to sleep on my best works, never the ones I just run up to go on the sofa?

Thursday, 14 June 2007

New Camera Ordered

For my sins, I've just ordered an Olympus SP510. I can only hope I've done the right thing. It works in low light conditions, it has 10 X optical zoom weighs only 300gms (without battery and card) and takes AA batteries. The guy I was speaking to thought it absurd to have AA batteries as part of my criteria, but I got caught out before with running out of battery charge and having no way to re-charge or buy a new battery. With AA batteries I can buy them almost anywhere on the planet, even on a Sunday. His answer was to buy more of the specialist batteries at £30-40 a time. I don't think so.
I nearly bought the Fuji at a similar price but it was nearly twice as heavy and I couldn't find any reference to low light conditions.
So I have a camera which cost £100 less than my last one with over three times the optical zoom.
You may get photos tomorrow if it arrives as stated.........

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Bad blogger

My apologies. There's not a lot worse than checking blogs only to find there is no new post. I promise to try harder in future.

My little quilt is coming along nicely now I've decided to use YLI Soft Touch. Many thanks to The Tabby Cat who got the thread to me in less than 24 hours. NAYY. Bad news is that I've heard YLI are discontinuing doing the 1,000 yard mini cones except in the basic colours so the search for the perfect thread for my quilting shall go on.
I'm thinking of biting the bullet and buying YLI 100 weight silk for my next big quilt. Though as I use up 13,000 yards on my big quilts, we are talking serious money here. Probably by the time I pay duty and postage, it will be well over £150 for one quilt. This I could live with if I didn't have the worry about the longevity of silk. Silk rots with exposure to air and light. It might have amazing strength but it's lifetime is limited.

Can't give you any photos as I still haven't stopped procrastinating about which camera to buy. Once I've made up my mind on that, I'll be better placed to decide on the thread. I have to save some cash for the show at Sandown next week (grin).

Sunday, 10 June 2007

A little something amusing

When my daughter was about 4, I was driving round a particularly nasty round about when she asked,
"Did you buy me Mummy?".

Did I buy you what darling?

"Did you buy ME?"

Buy you what darling?

"Did you buy me?"

It clicked.
No darling, I made you.

"Oh goody, I like all the things you make"

A conversation I shall treasure forever.


I've twenty or so of these blocks done about 5 or more years ago. I don't know what to do with them. I tried taking photos of each block individually and then the plan was to print them out and play with various ideas. The camera kept compensating for balance and the colours went so far off what they really are that this didn't work at all. (BTW is there a way I can get blogger to spell check in English English rather than USA English, I hate it telling me I don't know how to spell colour (grin)).
This was one idea. By the way I have no more of the background fabric and can't get any more.
And another idea, think this one is totally yuk!!

This is marginally better.
Any thoughts anyone? Should I just donate them to Project Linus?
This quilt was made as a solution to the problem, it was going to be the centre (Apparently I can't spell centre either!) with one row of blocks around it. Needless to say this didn't work either.

Friday, 8 June 2007

When you can't do much of anything

Today I woke up after having 8 hours of delicious sleep. I felt great, I'd shaken the cold off and then just three hours later I was back to square one (grrrrr).
XXXXXX my XXXXXXX always says I send myself backward by doing too much as soon as I feel a little better. I'd barely done anything so bang goes his theory but to keep peace and harmony I promised to do nothing today. Well almost nothing.
I designed this little miniature wholecloth. It don't know what the definition of miniature is so maybe this doesn't qualify but it gave me something to do whilst just sitting at the kitchen table. The brown marks look terrible, I starched it and didn't wait for it to soak in. It looks worse in the photo than in real life.
It will wash out along with the markings. I find it quite hard to look at in the photo. The extra lines round the outside of the feathers confuse the eye, but when it's white thread on white fabric and texture rather than colour, it calms down. I also find it quite difficult to draw these organic feathers, my hand keeps wanting to make them even and more formal looking. There's also the thing about keeping it vaguely evenly uneven (grin).
I'm not even sure I shall ever get round to quilting it but it could be worth doing as something to play with. Perhaps over dyeing? Perhaps painting?

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Given up and unstitched

It took all yesterday evening and most of this morning but it's done.

On a more cheerful note, even my garden shed looks good on a cloudy day in June. This is the year of the foxglove. Last year I left one spire after the flowers had died and waved it all over the garden, they've come up in all the beds but the best are in a shade bed. Unfortunately today is the day my camera has decided to die so I haven't a photo to show you of these. It started to go through batteries at a rate of knots but now it has used up four new batteries in five minutes so I guess it's time for it to hit the great camera graveyard in the sky. It's served me well and even survived a short dip in the garden pond a year or so ago. And it will cost about a third of it's original price to replace. I don't need anything more than 4 X megapixals though more optical zoom would be lovely.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Tension problems and Bottom Line Thread

I ended up with the top thread tension at very nearly zero and the bobbin quite tight. (It wasn't going to drop easily like it normally does when you test it).

This worked, lovely even stitches with perfect tension top and bottom. Played for a while on my test sample piece then moved over to the quilt. And it worked, then it didn't. I stopped reloaded, did a bit on the sample, went back over to the quilt still it worked, then it didn't. This is very very frustrating. I found the thread every so often was winding itself round the bit of the thread guide which goes up and down (I'm sure this has a technical name but I haven't a clue what it is).

I've found out that this thread is just too springy to go in the top of my machine. As I don't have an alternative thread in the same colour. It's all going to have to all come out and because it's very very fine, the stitches are very very small. What fun......

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Bad quilting day

Some days things just don't go well. I don't know if it's because I've a cold or because I've been drawing with a pencil rather than with a needle for a few weeks, or because it's humid or it's just a bad hair day (grin). I tried with Bottom Line in the the top and bottom, then I tried changing the top thread to 50 Madeira, the to YLI Softtouch. Nothing was playing nicely.
Then I tried Bottomline again but this time a cone of it. This was the best I got out of the machine today, so I'm going to stop.
Tomorrow is another day..............

Bottomline Thread

I'm trying to use Bottomline Thread in both the bobbin and as a top thread for freemotion quilting. I'm sure I've used it before but this time I've been fiddling with the top and bottom tensions for about an hour, does anyone have a magic formula?

Monday, 4 June 2007

More on the 'Perfect Quilt' (see previous posts)

I rang the company selling them and they put me on to the company they buy from. All they knew is that they import them from China but not how they are made.
So a dead end has been reached.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Freemotion couching

As far as I know this foot is only available for Berninas and then not every model.
It's so much fun to play with though finding suitable things which will fit through the hole can be difficult and then one which don't unravel make it even harder.
You can tell I'm new at this blogging business, the photos are in the reverse order I wished and not within the text. I might get better (or not).
The top photo was my very first play with the foot. The next one is a work in progress which I'm feeling in two minds about. The 3rd shows the foot and the 4th is a lovely soft knitting yarn.
It doesn't seem to matter too much what thread you use as it gets buried in the yarn.

Perfect Machine Quilting Photos

The ruler is a 6" square

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Perfect Machine Quilting

A friend is an interior designer. Ages ago she told me of some commercially available wholecloth quilts, she said they were good. I thought I know she likes machine quilting but she cannot have her 'eye' in properly. This week she told me they were reduced to £39 (about $80) for a kingsize. She has so far used seven of them in various houses she has decorated. I like her taste, so I thought I'd get one for our bed and wouldn't worry about the cat leaving hair or foot prints on it.

It arrived yesterday. It is an ivory, off white colour and machine quilted perfectly. I mean seriously perfectly. Not only is the backtracking exactly on the line but most of the time the needle has gone in the exact same place. Only Diane Gaudynski quilts to this level. The stitches are a little big but I hey, I would be proud to have quilted it. It even has grids about ¼" apart and parallel lines even closer together. It must have been made on a computer driven machine but even so the registration it must have to keep 'on the line' is very impressive. I suspect if it were entered in a quilt competition it would win the machine quilting award.

It has left me wondering 'why strive for perfection'? (I'm a long way off). Perhaps I should concentrate on design and just get these guys to make the quilt up?

I'll post some photos up later today.

Friday, 1 June 2007

It was 40 years ago today....

Sgt Pepper taught the band to play...

I remember it so well, and how wonderful and new. From the cover to the music. Energy.

My 18 year old daughter loves it too.