Sunday, 9 November 2014

New dress, bread and chilli overload

We've been spoilt by the lovely weather this autumn but yesterday was not a good day for the great outdoors. It was dark, wet and dismal but just perfect for spending time in the studio. Don't you love being inside, warm and cosy while the rain beats against the windows? I have several projects all needing my attention but most of them are quite major, requiring the brain to be engaged. I wanted something mindless that I could finish in a couple of hours. I've had this dress pattern for quite a while without getting round to making it up.

It turns out it's the quickest thing I've ever made - took about an hour to put together as there are only 3 pattern pieces and one of those is just a tiny back neck facing!

The pattern is cut very cleverly with no side seams - the front piece wraps round to be joined at the back. The upper back bodice is sewn on at the waist and shoulders and apart from turning hems it's done! Wish I could say it was a total success but sadly it doesn't fit!! Either drastic surgery is required or it will be a surprise present for my youngest daughter. That'll teach me to ignore the small print about this design only being suitable for two way stretch. In my wisdom I'd thought this firm jersey would be less clinging - important lesson learnt!

Onwards and upwards I say. At least the bread turned out OK. I've made two big bloomers ( if you'll pardon the expression bearing in mind the dress wouldn't go round my rear end!) using Bertinet's fantastic olive dough recipe and two 8 grain boules - that'll keep us going for the week even if it doesn't do much for the diet!

Now to tackle the chilli mountain. I've dried them, frozen them, pickled them in brine - we're having them in every meal except breakfast!

He who gardens has no idea about moderation!

Hope you all had a good weekend - talk again soon,
Love Linda

Thursday, 6 November 2014

New issue of the mag!

I know I promised to show how the latest crow quilt is progressing. Well, as it happens, not particularly well......

It's not that I've fallen out of love with it - just other things have had to take precedence.

Here's the main culprit. DMTV viewers will recognise the quilt I've been designing and making over the last three weeks. I must admit I've loved working with such a gorgeous colour palette and the PowerQuilter has made the quilting a delight.

I'm quilting with Madeira Aerofil threads to contour the printed, metallic text and 'draw' detail out of the border and into the main body of the quilt. I'll show the finished piece very soon. If you're interested in seeing more of my recent work, I've also added a few of my pincushions to the 'Small Works for Sale' page. They might be just the gift you need for a special friend!

Life has been really hectic chez Kemshall lately. What's new I hear you ask! Well it hasn't all been about recording videos for DMTV, the big news is the latest issue of Through Our Hands - the Magazine is out and you can read it here now!

The magazine has occupied most of Laura and Annabel's time for weeks leaving me free to entertain the precious one. Don't you wish you had so few inhibitions? Who wouldn't want to dive into an enormous heap of autumn leaves like that?

She is in there somewhere I promise! Probably not a great idea to be wearing a white jacket!

I hope you'll take time to have a look at the magazine and pass the link onto all of your creative friends. If you'd like to keep a copy on your computer or be able to print it out you can buy a pdf download for only £3.

Thanks for dropping by. It's often lonely in blogland so I appreciate your company and your comments!
Love Linda

Obsessive - who me?

I don't do things by halves. When I do anything I do it with conviction. Take bread making for instance. I've made bread several times already this week and it's only Wednesday! I usually keep to the recipes I've found work for me but I do like to experiment with different flours and also to compare fresh yeast with dried.

The picture above shows the olive bread I made a couple of days ago from Richard Bertinet's book 'Dough'. It's simple to make, has a beautiful soft crumb and is quite delicious. I make enough of this to keep us in lunchtime sandwiches all week - it freezes well and tastes just as good out of the freezer as on the day it's made.

Last night I tried another of his recipes. The floury looking loaves above have a good open texture and a dusting of cornmeal gives a really crunchy crust. This bread contains nothing more than flour, yeast, salt and water. The process is like alchemy isn't it? So few ingredients transformed into something fantastic and wholesome.

Maybe it's the onset of cooler weather or the darkening days but I find the lure of a warm kitchen hard to resist at this time of year. Tonight, instead of settling down in front of the TV I made another batch of the olive dough and after the first rest period shaped it into a rosemary and sea salt focaccia. We'll enjoy that tomorrow with spicy pumpkin soup - can't wait!

Bye for now - Linda x

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Escalation on the gnome front

You may remember I mentioned that a gnome appeared quite mysteriously in our garden a while ago. The plot thickened when a second gnome arrived a week later. We suspected a neighbour of ours was the guilty party because he already had a few gnomes in his own garden. Without saying a word we added to his collection one dark night. My mother thought the whole thing was hilarious and so she added a bright pink, plastic pig one day. Where all the others are coming from who knows? None of us mention any of these happenings when we meet in the street and pass a few comments about the weather or whatever. It's getting to be quite out of control!

This is part of the neighbour's garden at the moment. There are more figures arriving almost every day! At night some of them light up and a cheeky gnome at the  roadside wolf whistles anyone who passes by!

The most recent arrival is rather macabre but hopefully only a temporary resident for Halloween.

I think I must have been spotted sneaking a photo because we woke to this hanging in one of our trees next morning! Where will it all end?

On a much more serious note, Laura and I love to see the pieces our subscribers and students make inspired by DMTV videos and our courses. This week we've received a photograph of Liz's lovely sampler,

Yvonne's beautiful leaf quilt,

And Catherine's gorgeous Starling cushion.

Thank you all for letting us see what you've created but I can't let you have all the limelight - I'll be back again soon with some of my own work! Love Linda x

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

excited about new work

If you only know me from my blog you may be forgiven for thinking that I fritter my days away visiting stately homes and gardens or maybe stay all day in the kitchen baking for hours on end. Of course what you read here is a heavily edited version of real life - no one would want to know that I'd spent most of the day tapping out emails would they? I suppose I work the same hours as most people, it's just that because of the internet I can be flexible to a certain extent. Instead of sitting at my desk from 9-5 I can choose to go out and enjoy the weather on a sunny day as long as I play catch up when I get home. That's often when the creative stuff happens too.

It's rare these days that I get a whole day in the studio but I love it when it happens. Luckily I have deadlines for DMTV and I find that's a marvellous incentive to make the most of my free time. This week I'm designing and making a small quilt with 'Art' as inspiration - here's a quick preview of the early stages on my design wall. I'm loving the rich colours!

The gold print was great fun too. The rest of the detail will rely on the quilting. I can't say too much about it now because it will be a step by step project over the next 3 weeks. If you're a subscriber and you like the idea of kick starting some new work by working along with me remember to watch this week's video.

Nature has a habit of beating any colour combination a quilter can come up with though doesn't she? Our dogwood is almost glows in the dark right now.

 And the red dragon outside my studio door is gorgeous. Wish I could rival that!

Nature has also inspired one of our subscribers. Margaret was kind enough to show us the Attic Window quilt she's made with a single fat quarter of Laura's tree print fabric - many thanks for sharing Margaret. You've done a great job!

Of course despite the piecing, printing and quilting I still have to deal with the garden produce don't I? The mild autumn has kept the tomatoes going strong. Quite frankly we're pretty much tomatoed out now! Funny how delectable the first red tomato of the summer is and then how the appeal begins to fade when you've had them every day for weeks on end.

He who gardens mentioned there might be a few tomatillos left to pick - this is what he came back with. Good job they freeze to feed us another day!

Thanks for reading. I'll show you how the crow quilt is coming along next time.
Love Linda x

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Celebrating harvest (again)

This morning was typically autumnal and foggy - perfect conditions to bejewel the cobwebs on this rusty garden art.

Laura and I probably looked rather odd clambering on the base of the sculpture to get the best camera angle. We'd gone to National Trust property, Dudmaston Hall for Orchard Day and as the Morris Men began to dance the sun broke through the mist. They were singing about a beautiful day so maybe the words of the song had a magical effect.

If you're not English this lot probably look rather eccentric but teams of Morris dancers are part and parcel of country life around here. Whenever I hear them I start jiggling about much to the embarrassment of my children. I overheard Laura whisper to Amelie that she'd better get used to the sound because she was likely to hear a lot of it if she spent much time with grandma and granddad!

I think this particular team came from Shrewsbury but lots of villages and towns around here have their own teams of dancers and musicians who travel to entertain at country festivals and events. It always looks as though they are having a whale of a time and is surely a more fun way of keeping fit than going to the gym. I am very tempted to sign up myself but I'd have to do something about those outfits!

This chap is explaining what the dance is all about before the men behind him start bashing those fiercesome looking staves against each other and the ground. All very dramatic. In the orchard, the stallholders had set up their wares and there were lots of tempting goodies to try and to buy. Most things were apple based of course. The freshly pressed juice from desert apples grown at Dudmaston was pure and delicious. We even had a turn at working the press.

There were wonderful baked goods from Swifts, the award winning artisan bakery from Ludlow. I bake my own bread but it's always good to taste varieties I've never attempted. The walnut and Stilton was particularly good. Note to self, must be more adventurous and stop repeating the same old recipe all the time. It shows a total lack of imagination!

Most of the apples had already been harvested for juicing but the medlars are still ripening on the tree.

The enormous Actinidias gleamed like glorious beacons in the sunshine. They flourish against the heat retaining brick walls that surround that area of the garden.

And here's evidence that someone else couldn't resist the beauty of leaves at this time of year either. I'd like to thank Marjolijn for generously allowing me to share her beautiful work. She was inspired after watching a recent DMTV video on watercolour techniques. Marjolijn tells me she painted this on holiday in Tuscany whilst enjoying a lovely glass of Chianti. I'm trying not to be too envious!

Thanks for dropping by - Love Linda

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Getting back to work

I've been enjoying getting my workroom back into commission although it's starting to look smaller and smaller as more stuff finds its way back in! I had felt quite bereft for the couple of days I couldn't find my art materials or use my machines! Now most things are in place I'm heeding Laura's advice about keeping it uncluttered. It's definitely easier to be productive when you have clear table tops and an empty design wall!  To help my minimalist intentions I've started to put some more artworks for sale. You can find the info on the blog menu under 'Small works for Sale'  if you'd like to know more.

There is a limit to how much heavy furniture you can move when you're not as fit as you once were so we took a break from the hard work to make the most of the weekend weather.

Hanbury Hall is a National Trust property and along with many Trust properties they celebrate the apple harvest every year. The gardens were looking as immaculate as ever.

The clipped hedges are impressive and the bedding plants were still really colourful considering it's October.

They keep bees in the orchard and we were able to buy a block of beeswax. I don't expect I'll use it as polish but it's my favourite thing for waxing papers!

I love old pieces like this bellow operated smoke gun. We saw it in use later in the day when the beekeeper was opening one of the hives.

But of course the main focus of the day was the harvest produce - these are just a few of the varieties they grow on the estate. We tasted juice fresh from the press and then enjoyed apples in many guises in the courtyard restaurant. Lovely relaxing day after all the upheaval of the last few days!

Thanks for reading - Love Linda