Saturday, 29 December 2007

New Year Challenges

I'm taking the easy way out this year and resolving to do things I enjoy doing, rather than something I need to do. I'm taking SharonB's "Take it further" challenge and "ChoosedayChallenge" groups and I am really looking forward to doing this. I hope to put some of the 'thinking and skills' I learned when I did my city & guilds work into these challenges. One other thing I wanted to do for a while is make a monthly journal page then create a book of these pages at the end of the year.

For the past few years I've made fabric postcards and other mixed media articles but have wanted to take art quilting just a bit further along with mixed media art. I really feel these challenges are jsut what I need to stimulate the old creative brain cells, at least I hope so.

The other resolution for 2008 is one I really have to make (and keep) that's to really control my blood sugar. Being diabetic on insulin with all it's complications is beginning to hit home, especially as I something I could do with my eyes closed (walk several miles without any problems) is now a real issue for me. For the past few years I've walked with a group of friends on Tuesday up to 10miles. Now I can do a couple of miles, slowly, by which time claudication sets in. I can no longer keep up with my friends, some of whom are in their 80's!! My consultant says it's a common problem with diabetics so I will control my BM better and continue to walk to make sure it doesn't get any worse.

Dh and I intended going out today but torrential rain set in and we both fell asleep in front of the telly. Good job it's not yet 2008!! Completely lost track of the days at the moment we seem to have had two weeks this week.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Journal Pages

We decided to go out for a walk this morning, first one for a long time. We went to Pinchinthorpe near Guisborough and walked along the dismantled railway line. It was warm 12deg C but damp. There were a lot of cyclists, walkers and joggers out and we all wished each other a Happy Christmas etc. I took this photo of the Winter Trees with the North York Moors behind them. Just out of shot is Roseberry Topping a peak of approx 1000 ft just off to the left.
I've had more time to play than I anticipated and have done two 6" journal pages this week. One is pinks, purples and blue based on the painting "The Pink Room" by Emma Williams. The JP is for a swap on Surface Design and is based on the colours of your favourite artist. To be honest I don't actually have a favourite artist I like lots of them but this painting speaks to me. I seem to be coming up with more pink things these days, usually its autumnal colours. Not sure whether it means anything!!
The second journal page is violet and gold although the photo looks more dark blue. It's for an "Opposites" challenge and I chose a colour wheel opposite. The colour scheme is a bit outside my comfort zone which is why I did it.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas Joy

Christmas is over and all the hussle and bussle that goes with it. Now I can show photos of what I've been doing. They were all presents and didn't put them up beforehand otherwise some would have peeped and known what they were going to get.

The photos aren't too good and have a colourcast to them that I've found difficult to get rid of. The little shopping bag was for Julie my younger son's girlfriend. It's actually pink and purple being her favourite colours and I thought it would be cute to put her lunch in to take to work.
This dolly bag one with handembroidery is for my mil who is now happily settled in her new nursing home. We left her old handbag at her last home as it was dirty and greasy. She seems to have forgotten about it so I'm hoping she likes this one. If she continues as she has done she'll fill it with birthday, Christmas cards, photos and odds and sods she picks up. This bag though will be able to go through the wash just hope she likes it.
Mum's bag has a lime green lining so she can see the contents easier than the usual black lining. I've made the handle longer so she can wear it across the chest thus leaving her hands free to hold onto her walking sticks. It's one of Susa Glenn's patterns.
Finally I've finished the lap quilt I made for the coffee table. It has a blue overcast the colours are black/white prints with cream on cream prints. My dh bought me a beautiful black/white Christmas table decoration that looks really good on it.

At the moment my machine is stored away in it's Horn cabinet awaiting the removal of the Christmas tree. It came back from being serviced a few days before Christmas and I must say it sews much better than when I first bought it. They found a few problems with it and it's had the Bernina firmware update so I'm hoping to love it at last.

Yesterday (Christmas Day) 14 of our family had dinner at our local tavern. It was lovely to see everyone again and we had a great meal and even greater time together. Today I'm wacked, going to see mil this afternoon and take her presents then come home and put my feet up and slob out in front of the tv with my knitting.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Still running in circles

Well yesterday I thought I'd got everything organised. Mil is ready to be kicked out of hospital but now requires EMI nursing care rather than just EMI residential care. There are only two homes that have nursing qualification for the elderly mentally ill (Alzheimers) and we took a thorough look at both. The first one was the fatherest away from our home but was lovely, clean, plenty of room, the patients looked happy and well cared for and we heard laughter from both staff and patients. True the floor needed hoovering but that was carried out when we were there. They were also able to take care of mil's nursing needs.

The second smelled of cabbage, the decor was grubby but the Manager explained he'd only been in post 6 weeks and had plans to redecorate in a more tactile manner (themed areas, kitchen, garden, sports etc with articles stuck on the wall that they could touch as they walked up and down the corridor). I liked the idea and continued on the inspection. There was only two bathrooms for 41 patients and a shower room. In one bathroom boxes with what looked like old clothes were stored there and in the second one more boxes and two wheelchairs. The shower room floor was muddy, looked like someone had had a shower with their boots on!!

Both homes had two places and we choose the first one even though the cost was astronomical!Today we heard from the hospital mil is in that they are unable to take her now due to reshuffling. So now we have no choice but to put mil into a home I really don't want her in. I've contacted social services to see if anything else is available somewhere much further away and am awaiting their response.

Good news though my padfolio arrived safe and sound and with some beautiful threads from Myfanwy - thank you Myfanwy. I've been busy making free standing lace bells for friends and relatives - these will be my Christmas cards this year. Haven't a photo of them yet as the need sewing together but will do that later tomorrow.

Going out for Christmas lunch tomorrow, really need the company at present. Monday we're off to Valkenburg for a few days also really looking forward to the break.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Running round in circles

I've sadly neglected my blog over the last few days and thought I'd better put something down or I was in danger for letting it lie dormant. Been one of those weeks where I seem to have done nothing but run backwards and forwards to the hospital, cook meals, wash and iron and generally be at everyone's beck and call. Mil is still in hospital but recovering from her stroke but it will be a slow process. Her other problems are beginning to take dominance healthwise, in particular the prolapse. She's in quite a lot of pain and for the last year I seem to have been doing battle with the medics over getting her some treatment. Trouble is it's not 'down' all the time and therefore surgery is not an option, wouldn't be an option anyway with her mental health and other problems. Now she's in hospital though the medics are beginning to take notice of the pain she experiences so I'm hopeful something can be done for her. Being senile is not a reason for non-treatment and I feel very strongly about that so I shout for her.

One bright spot last week was the Knitting and Stitching show - ho how I love to spend money at that show..... came back empty pocketed (is that a word?) but happy. I bought quite a lot of art materials with the intension of making an art quilt and several books including the last two Jan and Jean books in the Double Trouble series. Still haven't read any of them yet but I'm hopeful. I bought a Susa Glenn bag pattern that I'm making for my Mum - and that's another story. I also bought a Monkey Pockets bag pattern to make for my son's girlfriend. I'll post pictures later as I don't want her peeking at this blog and seeing what she's getting.

Mum's bag is a simple over the shoulder bag with a zipper pocket on the back. For the last couple of days I've not been too well so I thought I'd make a start on it last night to take my mind off things. Got the back and front cut out - no got two fronts. Not a problem I just cut the back out of the spare front. Got the zipper put in and the secret pocket put in - no I put it on the front piece not the back and to make matters worse I sewed upside down!!!!! Gave up and watched telly.

Also had a bad day with equipment, been breaking all sorts of things the final straw though was the spring loaded holder for lancets so I can take blood to check my blood levels for my diabetes broke. The little knob on the top you push to release the lancet into your finger came off. Actually it came off a few days back but I just kept putting it back on again. Yesterday however I lost it somewhere in the dust on the floor and I think I vaccumed it up. Ah well I thought I'll have to buy another but wondered whether my diabetic nurse could give me another - no harm in asking. She wasn't in and they said she'd ring me back, well she didn't so today I bought a new one. Guess what - I now have a message on the answer machine saying she's left one for me to pick up at the surgery so now I have two.

Off to see Beowulf tonight not sure whether it's the 3D version or not as my son is taking us all as a treat.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Dash to get jobs finished

I've been trying to catch up and overtake my swap commitments this week and it's a good job I did as last night my mil had a stroke so my time for the next few days will be all taken up. She's stable but we don't yet know the extent of any brain damage. It's keep our fingers crossed and pray it's not too bad and she'll get her speech back and be able to use her hands again.

I've done a few Journal Pages and am now caught up, just one left to do but that's not due until January. The two below I've called 'Not quite crazy JP's' and are based on contrasting colours but I got this bronze one wrong. Well not wrong really I just liked the colours and was compelled to do something with them.

The purple and green was is the one to go to Elizabeth as part of the Surface Design group swap. I had made the flowers ages ago and tonight when I was putting the embellishment on they fell out and landed on the page so I took it as an omen they needed to be there. I hope Elizabeth thinks the same.
I also received two Journal Pages this week, the green one is from Emmy in the Netherlands and represents monocolour. The landscape is from Ann in France and depicts peace, tranquility and the qualities of Mother Earth. I feel it does give you a sense of peacefulness.

I also received two wonderful needlefelt book covers as part of the four seasons swap on the UKEmbellisher group. Lynne's beautifully felted Autumn cover has leaves cut from the felt fabric and sewn onto the cover. Ann's book cover was a first attempt and I think the snowdrop is really well done. I shall really enjoy using these books.

I sent out four swaps today and I can't believe I didn't photograph or scan any of them!!! but I didn't. I made christmas trees out of inchies for the Integrated Inchie swap and made some more for a christmas swap but in different colours. They looked really good when I had finished and I think I might make some more for family and this time remember to record them. I also finished the 'Something beginning with L' by making white lace leaves and sewing them onto red velvet. I had to put a lace edging on the velvet as it kept popping through the thread when I tried using a satin stitch on it. The last swap I posted today was "Coffee, Tea what will it be" for the Fun Friendly Fabricpostcard group. This is my first swap with this group so I hope they like it.
Having said all that I won't be making any more cards this year as I really need to get some sewing done for Christmas. I bought a bag pattern that I want to make for my mum, a table runner for the coffee table and this year I really would like to make a small wall hanging for the door. I say that every year but never get it done.
My 730 keeps telling me it's time for a service and to contact my dealer so I've done that and it will go up to David Drummond's in Edinburgh for its annual (first one) service. I'm sending up the embroidery unit too as I get an error message whenever I use it. But it does mean that in three weeks time I will be sewing machineless, oh how am I going to cope..... Then on the 10th December I'm off to Valkenburg for a short break.
Finally good news on the padfolio front I've heard from Myfanwy and with a bit of luck she'll return it to me shortly. I've a good home in mind for it as a Christmas present - so keeping my fingers crossed I'll see it again soon.
Will let you know when (if) I get

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Felting Fest

It's surprising how much you can get done when you have a few hours undisturbed by male company. Actually got round to lifting out my embellisher and had a felting fest. I finished off most of my UKEmbellisher swaps in one go. Admit to having given them some thought before I started doing any work and had made backgrounds already for one or two pieces. My usual working practise is to plunge right in and see what developes. This is the notebook cover I made for Liz. I got the idea of using a colouring book as a design source then decided to try embroidering out a redwork design using my embroidery machine and colouring it in with the embellisher. I'm quite pleased with the result and will definitely try out this technique again. Should have said that only two flowers were on the actual design and when I'd finished it was too large for the front of the notebook and too small for the whole jacket. So I traced the larger flower onto paper and used it as a template. I sewed the outline of the third flower onto the background and coloured it in with the embellisher. This works just as well, if not better than using the embroidery unit.
This is the book front, I decided to add some ribbon tails to act as page guides. The cover is loose so it can be reused.

Next came the Four Season's swap using background fabric's I made earlier (sounds like Blue Peter) using wool tops and yarns. I tried to indicate the seasons by the colour combination but somehow they just looked wrong. I also wasn't sure what to do with them once I'd finished. I thought of atc but Amanda had already done that, then thought book cover but I'd already done that and so had Ati. Needle cases came to mind. I embellished the backgrounds onto felt and sewed in the needle/pin pages but they looked unfinished. I decided to embellish them further with beads. I was enjoying this so much that I was in great danger of overdoing it, sometimes I find it difficult to know when to stop.

The photos are actually in the wrong order but I doubt it matters, below then is Winter, Autumn, Spring and Summer needle cases.
By then I was in full swing and finished the 3 brooches for the Brooch Swap. Like the needle cases I'd made the background fabric some time before but had no clear idea of what I was going to do with them. After rummaging through some of my stock of bits and pieces for inspiration I found a face I'd printed onto fabric and a lace butterfly I'd made sometime last year. These odds and ends really do come in handy. Behold Butterfly Goddess was born. The others two just developed as I went along. Not sure who is going to get which pin as I will just close my eyes and pop them into the envelope. Hope you will like them ladies.
Keith's MRI scan has been brought forward to Monday, not his appointment to see the consultant but at least he'll get the test out of the way and perhaps he'll feel a bit better about things. He started back to work this week full-time but is finding it difficult. I just hope they can do something for him once they have the results of the scan available.

There is a big bonefire party in the local park tonight put on by the council. It's usually very good and well organised but I think this is one year we won't be attending as it's too far for Keith to walk. Guess we'll watch from the bedroom window. Hope everyone has a good, safe Guy Fawkes night.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Photos (or lack of them!!!)

I've been having difficulty uploading photos onto my blog but managed to get these two okay.
The little purse is from Lynne on the UKembellisher group and it's beautiful. I'm really pleased with it. As a bonus she also sent me some goodies to play with. The larger photo is a Journal Page I've just completed for Ann in France as part of the Surface Design groups "colour" trades. It represents blue, the emotions attached to it and in particular the song Blue Moon that always leaves me feeling a bit lonely. Many years ago in my mid twenties I travelled overland to Khathamdhu and en-route we went through two deserts in Iran, the Great Sand and the Great Salt deserts. Not sure which one we were in but one night I was laid in my sleeping bag watching shooting stars. The sky was immense and a really rich velvety navy blue when somewhere in the dark one of our party started playing Blue Moon on his clarinet. It was really haunting and full of emotion. It was the first and only time I felt homesick for my family and friends back home and I wasn't the only one in our group to feel that way. Since then Blue Moon always conjures up memories of that night in the desert.
I have a confession to make, this is the 'lack of photos' bit, not sure what I did but I went to upload my photos from my camera onto my pc. I was looking at them on the pc whilst the photos were still on my sim card. But I hit the wrong button and instead of copying the whole lot into a file on the pc I lost the lot!!!!!! Tried all ways to get them back, my son look at hidden files etc but as I hadn't actually transferred the photos I had managed to cut the out of the sim card on the camera and moved them into the ether.
Good bit of news though is my elder son is now an BEng he's worked really hard for this degree and as he's severely dyslexic we're very proud of all his hard work. Well done Marc and if there is anyone else out there who is dyslexic, don't give up you CAN succeed and don't let anyone say you can't. It's his birthday next month so think he deserves something special.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Another quiet day

Not done much today as I had a bad night not slept much because my neck was uncomfortable and I developed a headache. The old arthritic neck syndrome I'm afraid. I think I've probably sat too long in front of the machine. Got my veggie card into the post at last.
Got Betsy's Notan swap in the post this morning the background is tremendous and she must be very good at cutting out look at all those little circles. But again it's made from paper, guess I went wrong somewhere it never occurred to me to do it in anything but fabric, ah well must read instructions more carefully.
Headache was still bad at lunchtime so dh decided I needed some fresh air and took me to Richmond (N Yorks) for a bacon butty and cuppa down by the River Swale. The autumn colours are beginning to merge into dull green and brown. There are still a few bright leaves but they are mostly on the ground. I think the trees are turning brown quicker this year but I could be wrong. I'll post a few photos of Richmond tomorrow, I'm not sure where I put my card reader and this old pc doesn't have a card slot.
Been thinking about the Journal Page for Ann in France, part of the Surface Design trades. This one is attaching meaning to colour(s) my mind is going round in circles. I have several colours I would like to depict each relating to a different colour but haven't decided on final one just yet. I enjoy making journal pages more than cards these days. Think I like the slightly larger format. I decided this year I would make a Journal Page a month and so far I've made two for myself. I really need the motivation of making them for 'something', perhaps next year I'll make them for myself.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Quiet Day In

These are the two Notan technique swaps I was talking about last time. The blue and black one is from Candy Grisham (I think I called her Cindy sorry Candy) its blue paper on a black paper background and shows the technique very well. Mine is the other one made from fabric and machine quilted.

Had a very lazy day today managed to finish my Monochromatic Journal Page for Surface Design group. This one is going to Emmy Schoonbeek in the Netherlands. It's great when you can swap with lots of different countries. Pity this type of small artwork isn't that popular amongst my friends. They like the pieces I make but wouldn't want to do one themselves. I should be able to get this in the post on Monday.

Keith had his flu jab the other day and is feeling a couple of degrees under par today. My son is house-sitting and the elderly parents quite comfortable at home with no inclination to go out. The day has been very quiet but I've really enjoyed the peace and quiet and been able to get down to some sewing without the usual hullabaloo for food and drink. In fact we had frozen pizza for lunch and a pan of home made soup with large chunks of fresh bread for dinner. Wouldn't have been able to get away with that if we'd all been in for meals.

Managed to make the paper cast 'veggies' for another swap today. Had real fun with these as I used to make them years ago but when it came down to it I'd forgotten the process and had to go and read up about them. Thank you Maggie Grey your books came to my rescue again. I dried them out on the radiators and painted them. I am absolutely useless at painting but the dies cast now no going back. I think they'll be okay when I finish them, hopefully tomorrow.

Off to watch telly, it's been so quiet here I keep thinking it's Sunday!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Notan Technique

I was going to post a photo of my Notan technique quiltlet but apparently theres a problem with blogspot and I can't upload them so I'll do it late.

I've had a really hard time with this Surface Design swap wondering how I was going to do it in fabric then I had a thought. Spraystarch. The Notan technique is an exercise in positive and negative design using paper mostly. It's a bit like cutting out those doilies you made at Xmas as a child. You know, fold a circle of paper and cut on the folds but leave some to hold the pattern together. With Notan you cut the design from a square and by folding out part of the design you leave a negative image behind. Anyway it gave me a headache until I thought of spraystarching the fabric so it would fold like paper and I could then cut the design out. I cut out a template from card and scanned it into the PC and manipulated it to create an all over design showing positive and negative patterning. I then printed it out onto cotton using different coloured backgrouns. I was quite pleased with the effort and finally raw edge appliqued the original sized design on top and quilted the whole thing.

I received a Notan swap from Cindy which shows the negative and positive design in paper very well indeed. I'll post that later too.

Finally caught up with my mountain of ironing today thank goodness. Ironing and washing windows are my pet hate but unlike the windows where I can just put the lights on earlier if they get too grubby, there is a limit to the amount of unironed clothing I can bear lying around.

Feeling really tired today, think it's a result of all that driving around we did at the weekend. I really am not used to moving too far. Talk of travelling we booked a few days in Valkenburg but got to know this morning that it's been cancelled due to lack of interest. Darn I was really looking forward to seeing the Christmas Caves. There's another one we can book going just before Xmas and if Keith can get the time off work (holiday) we'll go then. Might even be a better time to go.

Monday, 15 October 2007

From West to East

We decided to take off for a few days and were really sure where we wanted to go so we ended up at one of my favourite places - Oswaldthwistle Mills. I bought some new polyester threads, stalizer and fusible wadding. We called in at Embsay Mills on the way to Ossie Mills and I managed to get hold of some silk cocoons and other bits and bobs to play with on my embellisher. Left Ossie Mills and headed for Blackpool to see the lights but got caught in the rain on the M6 and missed the turn off. Ended up at Heysham where we thought we might catch a ferry to the Isle of Man - everything was shut. Next stop Morcambe and somewhere to stay for the night. Found a lovely B&B and headed out for food and a lively night on the town - No chance. Couldn't find food anywhere, everything had closed for the night and this was 5:30pm!! thought at least something would be open. At last we managed to find something to eat in a restaurant above one of those slot machine places. They were very polite and waited patiently to close up while we ate. No wonder I had indigestion later on. We wandered into a very noisy pub alive with children and rubgy fans, we decided to go back to our B&B and change and go out for a quiet drink. We found one other pub open and it was a bit too quiet for us, one other man sitting morosely in a corner, we went back to the first pub to find the children all disappeared and the France/England match in the final half hour. We ended up shouting with all the rest and and a really good time. However the next day the weather was drizzly and we decided to go back to the east coast.

Burton Agnes Hall was on our route to the East coast and we decided to have a look. It's a wonderful Elizabethan manor house with absolutely beautiful gardens. Keith was fascinated by the wood carvings in the hall. Its a house well worth a visit I think we'll definitely come back to see the gardens when they are in full bloom, October isn't the best time to view them. I liked the pattern the brickwork and doorways of the old Norman house made.
View throught the walled garden gate into the more formal gardens of the hall. The big 'daisies' below also caught my eye.
Stopped overnight at Bagdale Hall in Whitby another Tudor House but we were bedded down in the Georgian extension. Great four-poster bed big enough for a family!!!!

Came back over the North York Moors and stopped at the top of Clay Bank with a great view out towards Teesside.
Enjoyed the few days away but glad to be back. I managed to get a couple of swaps finished before I went away but haven't posted them yet better get that done tomorrow.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Sunshine and Showers

My little mermaid that I made to sit inside the seahorse bowl took first prize in my EG 'RoseBowl' challenge. I was very surprised but delighted and I know just where the £10 book voucher will be spent on.

Great day all round on Saturday not only did I get a first (first time I've won anything) but my sister called unexpected to see me. We sat in the garden in the sun chatting, it was lovely to see her.

Today we took mum to the lake district as she loves to go there in the autumn to see the beautiful colours on the trees. We set out in the sunshine and stopped in Keswick by the lake and had lunch. After lunch we went up Whinlatter Pass for the views over Bassenthwaite. We noticed the clouds seemed to be dropping and decided we'd go back and drive round the lake.
The heavens opened and we could hardly see a thing. Such a change from yesterday. We thought we'd go back towards Penrith and come back over Alston Moor and through Teesdale. I'm sure the views at Hartside are wonderous but we couldn't see them had a hard time seeing the road as we drove through a cloud. When we finalled dropped down low enough to go underneath the cloud it was raining hard. Still mum enjoyed the trip out.

On the way to Keswick we stopped to watch the farmer and his dogs bringing the sheep down from the fells. He had a quadbike on the other side of the road behind me taking the photo. He said he had thousands of acres of moorland with sheep all over and the dogs feet got sore with all the miles they have to travel so he makes room for them on his quadbike. I didn't get a photo of them (I forgot to take my camera!!!) but he managed to get all four dogs on it.

Monday, 1 October 2007

More Seahorses

Well it worked, you can embellish on soluble stabiliser if it's underneath. If you put it on top it won't felt down but that has the advantage of stopping all the little bits getting into the holes of your presser foot and allowing you to add to the Surface Design group challenge. I thought I'd put the finishing embroidery and beading on and just get it into the folder on time but I reckoned without the heating being off. I put it on the radiator to dry slowly overnight but it was such a cold night the bowl was still wet when I got up. My son's girlfriend had the idea of putting it on the lid of the slow cooker (I was doing some braising steak for dinner) and it worked, it dried in no time at all.
I got the embroidery and beading done but not in time for the challenge. Never mind it will be in time to enter in the local EG competition themed 'The elements', it can go as water. Doubt it'll come anywhere as the majority of our members are elderly and prefer the traditional.
I'm tired today as I didn't sleep too well last night, dh started his nightshift at 11:00pm and as he's still only working four hours a day returned home just after 3:00am. Naturally once I was woken and bless him he did try not to wake me, I stayed awake. So I'm having a lazy day today trying to get on with a jacket I started knitting last year. I found the UFO sitting in a box under my son's bed (used to be my sewing room) and thought it about time it got finished. Trouble is I've put weight on since I started it and am sure it will be too small. Ah well, where's the chocs....

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Seahorses, plastic dress and oriental postcards

I've been experimenting with by Babylock Embellisher by felting wool tops onto soluble fabric. When my mil was in hospital earlier this year they sent her soiled clothes home in a soluble washing bag. I persuaded them to let me have a spare one to see if it was strong enough to embroider on. You need at least two layers but it works fine. It's this soluble bag that I placed the tops on. I placed an extra piece of soluble over the tops to stop all the hairy bits from clogging up my felting presser foot. Not sure how other manage but I can guarantee to have at least one stop to untangle the tops from the presser foot. It worked fine and when I'd finished it felt sturdy enough to embroider on so I gave it a go. At the moment the piece is drying out over a bowl to shape it. If it comes out okay I'll embellish it with handstitching and beads and enter it for our local EG's 'The Elements' competition next week, it'' go as water. I'll post a photo if when I get it completed.

Now for the post cards, the knitted dress is one for a challenge on ArtsntheMail and is made from a Marks & Spencer carrier bag with a bit of a red and black from one that was hanging around the house. Some plastic carrier bags snap easier than others, a bit of stretch is good but too much and you end up with something that looks like pulled chewing gum. I also used the yarn to knit mini jumpers/jerseys for another swap.

Got these great cards from ladies in the ArtweMail group they are part of the Taste of the Orient swap. They look much better in the flesh than here though.

Been making a lap/table top quilt from black and cream fabrics this week. I was using up the fabrics I bought for the black and white swap and got carried away. Started with a 9 patch block in the middle (6" squares) and cut up sashes of different colours for the border in differing widths. Got the sandwich made and decided to try embroidering some sashiko designs into the 9 patch blocks using my embrodiery machine. I used a cream thread because I didnt want it to show on the front but as the back is black the patterns showed up well. I thought I'd enhance the back with lines of stitch-in-the-ditch round the borders using triple stitch, the same as the embroidery designs. All went well until I turned it over and yep it had gathered on the back. It took me all day to unpick the darned stitching. Obviously I hadn't got the sandwich basted enough. Ah well more haste less speed as they say. I want to try and get it finished this weekend but not sure I'm going to have time.

DH has now had two weeks back at work and all seems well. His back hurts by the time he gets home and he needs to rest but I think he's coping okay. No 2 son is staying with his girlfriend this week, they are house sitting and boy is it quiet here and the washing, where's all the washing gone!!!!

Monday, 24 September 2007

Fractal art and quilting

I first became interested in using fractals when I saw Rose Rushbrooke's quilts. Fractals have always fascinated me, not the mathmatics behind them but natural fractals such as ferns, cauliflowers and trees. The three fractal mini quilts (wall art) above are based on the same fractal and quilted and beaded in the same manner. The only difference is the colour of the voile overlay and sashing. One has a pink overlay with lilac sashing. The second one has a green overlay with lime green sashing but the sashing is pulled backwards to give the impression of piping and the last one has a bronze/green overlay with purple edging. Not sure which recipient will get which mini quilt which are about 8" x 8" each I'll just write their name on an envelope and push one inside. I have may favourite but I'm not saying which and I can't keep it.
Rose Rushbrooke has a very good explanation of what a fractal is if you are interested, just google fractal art + quilts and it should be top of the list. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
DH went to work early this morning so I managed to do the housewifely thing and dug out the dustbunnies and washed floors. Now I can relax and sew without feeling too guilty for the rest of the week. Got a couple of journal pages based on colour I want to start on. Also whilst doing the black and white swap postcards I got an idea for a lap quilt using the leftovers plus beige colours.
I'm in a Notan technique swap that appeared in Quilting Arts magazine in the June/July issue. It involves dividing a square into four equal triangles and then cutting a design in these triangles. The pattern you cut has to be folded over so that you get an identical shape inside and outside the triangle. The idea is to study the positive and negative spaces the design creates. I'm still getting my head round this one and will post photos when I've come up with something.
Been to the hospital this afternoon with my mil who has alzheimers for her to see the dental surgeon. Not a pleasant experience for her as she was very uncomfortable and really had no idea why she's so uncomfortable so it frightens her. She was in pain, not because of any dental problem but because she has a prolapse and it decided to drop whilst she was at the hospital. Unfortunately nothing can be done to help her as it's not bad enough for surgery and even if it was the risks for her are very great. Alzheimers is such a nasty disease it takes all dignity from people thank goodness they are complete oblivious of their actions and most of the time quite happy in their own little world.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Overworked sewing machine

Oh the bliss of having some time to sew without company around, it's surprising just how much work you can get done. As you will have guessed dh is back at work but only for 4 hours a day at present. I think he's enjoyed being back amongst men again(and women) it certainly seems to have lifted his spirits a bit. However by the time he gets home his back and legs are very painful and he's in need of a rest.

In the meantime I've been busy making more fabric postcards. The Black & White ones are for a private 5 person swap. The oriental cards are for the ArtweMail group 'Tase of the Orient'. I did think illustrating sushi or pot noodles but in the end decided to use some Kimono Peel-offs I had in my stock of bits and pieces. I stuck the peel-offs onto fabric then cut round them and sewed them down. I was surpised how well they stuck onto the fabric I expected the edges to lift a bit but no they were fine. Might try that again sometime. The last photo is of decorated doodles for the Surface Design group. I was a great doodler while at work and the edges and corners of my notes were always covered in doodles, the longer the meeting the more doodles. This was a swap I suggested and I've really enjoyed doing them. I just doodled on the fabric and covered the lines with embroidery. Great stuff to sit and do whilst watching tele and stopped dh from sitting alone all night.
I really must read swap instructions a bit more carefully, the fractal study that I took to be a 1 to 1 swap turns out to be a 3 person swap so I have another two to do!!!!
Been trying to pursued my mum that the offer of a flat with 24/7 care on site and the provision of a midday meal as part of the rent (non-refundable if you don't want it) doesn't mean she is going into care. Its a new scheme where the elderly are provided with these extras in an attempt to keep them more independant and out of care homes. She would have her own flat, her own furniture, her own front door and be able to come and go just as she does now. However for some reason the provision of a midday meal and 24/7 on site care has freaked her. Ah well, maybe a good night sleep will help her see reason, I will just have to wait until tomorrow when she has calmed down.

Monday, 17 September 2007

I spent a day quilting with Sylvia Critchley on Tuesday, we did the stuffed and corded white piece above. I'm not really very good at quilting my stitches are far too big but with the technique shown by Sylvia it didn't really matter. I enjoyed the day, not just because I got to play away for a whole day without making a meal but because I met up with old friends and made new ones. It was one of the few workshops I've been to that the sample actually didn't end up as a UFO.
The other photo is my WIP fractal study piece for a one to one Surface Design swap, my partner is Lyn Drage in Australia. I'm not sure what it'll be like when it's finished as I am very much a "start sewing and see what happens" sort of person. I found the copyfree fractal on the web, printed it out onto calico. The calico still had iron stabilizer from an machine embroidery project I'd finished and I found it went through the printer without any problems. I overlaid it with voile and hand quilted round the fractal lines and added beads to others. I wanted to convey the feeling of swirling movement. Not sure how I'll finish it but it will come to me as I go along and when it does I'll post a photo.
Well I have a few hours a day dh free now as he's gone back to work for four hours a day to see how things pan out for him. His company offered to pay for his MRI scan privately to see if they could get the treatment for his back any sooner. It was possible but it wasn't possible to get to see the consultant any quicker so he'll wait for the NHS scan. He returned home tonight uncomfortable but a happy man. I think men need company of other men just as much as we women enjoy the company of other women. However we need to see how he'll get on with several days of working under his belt. In the meantime I mean to make the most of it and sew while he's out.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Quilts and things

Last night I picked up the latest copy of Patchwork & Quilting and in the small adds noticed that the National Quilt show was on in Harrogate. So guess where I went today? The photos at the top were for me the most memorable out of a host of wonderful quilts. Memorable, well mainly because my father, my husband and my husband's father, grandfather and greatgrandfather all have worked in the steel industry. My dh's male relatives all worked in the environment depicted in this quilt. I was just enthusing about it to my mother when a voice behind me asked if I really liked it and introduced himself as the quilter. I turned to see an elderly man leaning on a stick. He told me he'd worked for years in the steel mills and had enjoyed making this quilt.

The quilt is in two layers, the first reflects the hot flames and bright sparks of the hot steel being poured from the overhead crane on the gantry. The second is the layered and appliqued crane on a sheer fabric. It's wonderfully executed and for me personally the star of the show.

I came back armed with lots of fabric goodies not to mention half a dozen books. We took my mum with us (dh) and the staff were really helpful and found us a wheelchair for her. I'm so glad I picked up the P&Q magazine yesterday.

Not done much sewing over the last few days Keith saw the neurosurgeon who naturally wants tests and more tests done before making any decision. It looks like it's going to be at least two months before he gets an MRI scan and hopefully after that there may be a decision as to what can be done to help relieve the pain Keith's in.

I also managed to get on a day course with the Quilters Guild yesterday (good day all round) so on Tuesday I'm off to Cord and Stuff with Sylvia Crutchley. I met her today at the show and saw examples of corded and stuffed quilting so I'm really looking forward to Tuesday.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

EG Summer School

I I went to Wooler last week on an Embroiderers' Guild Summer School. The course I did was called Limited Editions and Val Stoddart was the tutor. It was a bit of a leap of faith for me as I had no idea what sort of work Val did but it included machine embroidery and the embellisher and for me that was great. I tried to find some of Val's work on the web but could have saved my energies as Val is doesn't have a computer and is very anti-www. We tried but we couldn't get her to change her mind.

The whole course as based on making a sketch book with holes in it to peep through. Val had seen the Picture House exhibition at Belsay and was intrigued with 'holes' that showed limited views. We had to make a 3D structure made from mount board, shown above, and we were not allowed to glue anything. I had to make holes in the card with an awl so I could sew the background onto the structure using beads. My fingers were sore but I liked the effect so thought it well worth the effort.

We also had to make books with holes in to view the embellished backgrounds through, I made two one a two-fold book and the second (below) with three pages of holes. Not so sure about these as I cannot cut a straight line to save my life. Both books had the same embellished background but the smaller two-fold one had some beads added. By the time I got home I was well behind with some of my swaps but also well into using my embellisher so I completed a cutwork swap making two small coin purses. I used felt as the background then needlepunched a blue fibrous paper onto it. It was a bit hard and I'm not sure I would do it again as I broke two needles doing it. The edges had a wool ribbon felted on, the last of the bits I got from Val. I started felting the edges together but for some reason my Babylock embellisher does not like me felting edges, the needles wobble and I was afraid I was going to break more needles so I used buttonhole stitch and some beads.

I was quite pleased with the finished result and think a slightly smaller version could be made as a card wallet.

Tomorrow I'm going with my dh when he see the neurosurgeon about the lump on his spine that's trapping his sciatic nerve. I do hope something can be done for him as he's a great workstop and it'll take me forever to catch up with all the jobs I still haven't done.