Sunday 29 April 2012

Days in the life.....

I don't know where the week went - it's even more of a blur than normal. I was expecting to finish this quilt days ago but here it is with the paint on the thorns still wet from today's session. My day didn't start well. I had a long list of things to do but awoke to a powercut. Few of the things I was planning could be done without electricity but painting was one of them!

It's quite a low key colour palette but easy to live with. I probably shouldn't say it but I do quite like the way it's turned out!

7 of the 9 members of Six and Friends got together for our very first meeting on Thursday. Laura put a few photos on the group blog but here are a couple more. Edwina is the one going for brownie points - that's her stitching away on the right. The rest of us are all admiring some of Hilary's gorgeous kimono silks and wondering what she's going to do with them.

It was the first chance to see some of the work being made for our 'Orientation' exhibition in the flesh. It's scary showing your work to the others but everyone seemed genuinely impressed with the quilts! Annabel's are getting the close scrutiny here.

Once the power was eventually restored I escaped to my workroom again today and went a little bit crazy this afternoon! These are mostly hand dyed silks and some are embroidered sari fabrics which I've overdyed in sunset colours. They are sitting on a layer of batting and backing and just waiting for the stitching now.

I'm planning to make two very similar versions of the Crazy block. One will be hand embroidered so that every seam is embellished with traditional stitches like herringbone and fly stitch. I may get totally carried away and use lots of beads too. The other will feature all the decorative machine stitches my clever machine can do but hardly ever get used. I'm so excited to be making something lovely out of scraps that have been sitting in a plastic crate for a long time. Is it pathetic to enjoy such small pleasures?

It's been a week of visits - my youngest daughter called by for a few hours and was immediately roped in to model some of Laura's scarves. This is one of my favourites. The vintage keys look so good on the paint splattered background.

As long as the picture is sharp the realism of printed photographic images is fantastic. This is a lovely shrub from our garden - I'm thinking it would make a gorgeous fabric. If you're reading this Laura can I have half a metre please?

Hope you're enjoying your own small creative pleasures this wet and windy Sunday! Bye for now - Linda

Sunday 22 April 2012

More stuff nearly finished

I haven't had much free time to make progress with work this weekend but I did steal a couple of hours in my workroom today. I wanted to finish the quilt that was on the longarm so that Laura could put one of her pieces on next week. That's the trouble when you share a machine - neither of us use it for ages then, with exhibition deadlines looming, we suddenly have to form a queue!

I filled in the some of the area around the tree branches with closely spaced vermicelli.

There are more trees at the lower edge of the quilt. These were printed from a lino block I carved a while ago. I've extended the lines of printed twigs across the patchwork seam with pale coloured quilting.

The vast empty foreground needed something of interest so I quilted thorny branches and have started to paint them with copper metallic fabric paint. I'll photograph the finished quilt and let you see the whole thing on my quilts page as soon as I've added the binding.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend! Thanks for reading this - Linda

Thursday 19 April 2012

Play Day

I remember when my sister and I were little we sometimes stayed for weekends in my Aunt's caravan. It was always an adventure. Not as scary as being under canvas but just as exciting for us townies. For some reason my strongest memory is of the sound of rain beating down on the metal roof. I'm sure it didn't rain all the time but that's how I remember it. I had flashbacks to those days today! This afternoon was really wet and dismal but it's great fun to be in my workroom in horrible weather - half the roof is glass and the hammering rain sounds just as dramatic as those caravan holidays long ago. Laura and I were having a fun time playing with deColorant discharge paste. Here's an example I made by painting the paste over a freezer paper stencil onto hand dyed cotton fabric. The pale areas show the effect of the basic paste and I used deColorant Plus to remove and replace the colours in the squares at the bottom.

Because Laura's digital printer uses fibre reactive dyes we were curious to know if the deColorant would work on her printed cotton fabrics too. The only way to find out was to try it and we were very excited to see that it does!

I think there's great potential with this - the paste has removed most of the printed colour from the fern fabric but left enough of the image visible to be interesting.

I love the effects of transparency in the branch and leaf shapes and especially in the moon. We've had so many questions about how we use discharge techniques since we added the deColorant to our online shop so these samples will be developed and included in a future DMTV video soon.

While I was waiting for the discharge paste to dry I carried on quilting my latest quilt. It should be finished in a day or two so I'll let you see it then. In the meantime I thought I'd sign off with a pretty picture! After all the months of dry weather the apple blossom is enjoying some much needed rain. With luck there will be fruit!

Thank you for reading this. I'll be back again soon - Linda

Sunday 15 April 2012


The moth quilt is finished! Well to be truthful I shall leave it on the wall until I decide if it might need a little few final details added. All I'm considering is to draw in the moth antennae with a fine pen.

These aren't brilliant pictures but it's too late in the day to set up the quilt frame and do it properly. Anyway, if somebody doesn't get out in the kitchen soon there'll be no Sunday dinner!

Now that 'Stray Thoughts' is finished I need another quilt on the same theme. I know exactly what I want to do and I've spent this afternoon drawing from a book with illustrations of Roman statues.

This young girl looks strangely Pre Raphaelite but was in fact chiselled from stone 2000 years ago. I wanted something a bit edgier than this tame pencil sketch so I took a plastic eraser to the drawing and scrubbed out a few gestural lines.

I think the marks are livelier now. I enjoy drawing faces but mouths are always hard to draw aren't they? I find it's best to avoid hard edges and only suggest an outline by concentrating on the shadows.

Not sure if anything will come of this but at least it's got me drawing again. I'll look at her tomorrow and see if I think she's worth taking further! The hope is that once I've added numerous moths Laura will print her as big as she'll go!

Hope you had a fun weekend - talk to you soon. Linda

Thursday 12 April 2012

It's a long list

I'm continuing to work through all the unfinished piles of stuff that have been cluttering the workroom for far too long. You may remember seeing this quilt before!! I started doing quite a bit of hand quilting and seed stitching on it ages ago but it was looking like it might never get finished so today I pinned it on the longarm and set to work.

My challenge is to 'draw' the tree shapes across the middle of the quilt with my quilting so that they break through the solid vertical band.

I'll let you see how it turns out soon. Just outside my workroom door is this lovely distraction! It's an Amalanchier and at its absolute best this week despite the turbulent April weather.

I see it every time I go in and out of the workroom and love the delicate blossom against the bronze of the new leaves.

While I had my camera in hand I thought I'd try and show you how all the frogspawn in the garden pond was faring. If that heaving mass of tadpoles become frogs we'll be knee deep by the summer!

Finally, a question! Does anyone know what this is? He was on the outside of the window last night and quite reluctant to leave so I had plenty of time to take his picture this morning.

Here he is from another angle. Aren't his markings beautiful?

I'd love to hear from anyone who can shed light on his name!

Thanks for reading today - please come back again soon! Linda

Sunday 8 April 2012

Happy Easter

It may be a holiday but we still have to eat! Today's bread turned out well even though it's been a cool, cloudy day.

I spent part of the morning answering email. Holidays can be busy for us because online students find they have lots of extra time to get on with coursework. I could leave it until after the weekend but I don't want to hold anyone up when they're keen to make progress. I know just how that feels - this afternoon I've been able to make progress myself! Using the boat print as my starting point I've sorted out lots of scraps that are at least wide enough to cut into inch and a half strips.

I've pieced, sliced and diced the strips to make Rail Fence blocks. I think they're working quite nicely with the colours of the peeling paint and I like the idea of the formal square shapes contrasting with the gentle curves of the boat timbers. It's very satisfying to use up bits and pieces in some proper patchwork - I don't know why I don't do this more often!

I also trimmed and pieced the lino block prints and rubbings into a long band. I'm hoping it might be just the right thing to make an interesting border.

I pieced different rubbings to introduce some pale colour and to make the strip long enough.

I shall make lots more Rail Fence blocks tomorrow so I can play with the arrangement of colours. It won't matter if I make too many. None will be wasted - they'll just come in for the next quilt! I know I've got some lovely rusted fabrics hidden away somewhere. They could be perfect in this piece so finding them will also be my mission in the morning.

Hope you're having a lovely long weekend. Bye for now, Linda

Saturday 7 April 2012

Easily pleased

In the week that large tracts of the country have been officially deemed to be in drought, and hosepipe bans have been enforced, we are of course washed out today. What else should we expect - it is a holiday weekend and we have a long tradition of wet bank holidays! In some ways it's a good thing. If we still had the balmy temperatures of a little while ago I'd be lolling in a deckchair, sipping a cold drink and doing nothing more strenuous than reading a magazine. Since the garden has no appeal today I can stay indoors and get on with something productive.

I know I sound as though I'm easily pleased but I can't deny how much pleasure I get from choosing fabrics for a new quilt. Do you remember the digital prints Laura made for me from photos I took on holiday? Well, now that the Moth quilt is almost finished I can turn my thoughts to old boats and peeling paint! I find the best way to audition the fabrics I might use with the prints is to lay them out together. I'm sure this hand dye on the right will be perfect for what I have in mind and the soft blue/grey fabric will provide a quiet contrast area.

I save every fabric scrap I ever dye, paint or print - I just know one day they'll all have their moment of glory. These lino block prints and rubbings of Plimsoll line symbols were made ages ago but since they were inspired by the same nautical theme they should be OK for this new work.

I wonder if the theme justifies including these monoprinted fish I did with no particular end in mind?

I do quite like this one with the vacant but benign expression.

It's funny, I think I'm quite good with colour but I had never registered just how pinky/lilac this boat print was until I started matching other fabrics to it. It's rather a pretty combination and I am very excited to get started. The quilts will be quite abstract - I'm planning to include bands of strip pieced fabrics at the sides of the boat prints. I've got 3 different prints that I hope will hang together really well. If it rains all weekend I should get a fair bit done so if there's no work to see next week you'll know that the sun came out!

Thanks for dropping by. Talk to you soon, Linda

Monday 2 April 2012

Where does the time go?

I always try to blog on a Sunday but this week I don't know where the time went. I was in domestic goddess mode and although the sun was shining brightly I spent most of the day in the kitchen. This was the view from my window at 7 in the morning. Promise of another perfect day.

We love Indian food and I enjoy making it myself. It does involve long lists of ingredients, spices mainly, but once you've stocked the store cupboard you can transform quite basic foods. I've dug out a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook I bought in the 80s and have been experimenting with some old favourites. Of course it helps to have the right tools for the job - these beautiful rolling pins have been decorating my kitchen for years but they were put to a more practical use at last.

The flat breads turned out really well despite the fact they are only flour, salt, water and oil! Pretty much the same recipe I use to make a starch resist paste or paper glue!

Luckily they tasted better than glue and were perfect with Madhur's version of Tandoori Chicken and a side dish of aubergine in the pickling style!
You'd be forgiven for thinking I spent all day cooking and eating but no - a little sewing was achieved in between all the marinading and baking! I've been working on a journal sized piece for DMTV. As usual the idea started with a drawing.

DMTV members seeing this will recognise the still life we set up a while ago. I know not everyone likes drawing or even thinks it has much to do with quilting and embroidery. For me, a drawing can be an end in itself or lead on to other things. This time I'd enjoyed the subject so much I wanted to capture the painterly colour of the watersoluble pencil washes in an applique using sheer fabrics.

It's not finished yet but since the video is due to be recorded tomorrow it soon will be. Don't you just love a deadline? I've just wandered around the garden with my camera and am already planning the next piece - how do you think the technique would suit pansies? I think I've got the perfect chiffon!

Thanks for reading this! Talk to you again soon - Linda