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.