Saturday, 31 May 2008

TIF Challenge done

The TIF Challenge for May was for me quite a difficult one - How do we see ourselves. I am, like many others, many things some of more importance than others depending upon what's happening. From a sewing perspective I've always thought of myself as an embroiderer who quilts but that's not really true. Embroidery will always be my first love but I find I'm doing more and more mixed media pieces these days so for my TIF I 've used a couple of the colour pallet for May to represent myself. I see myself as stretching towards something but I have not yet got there, still got lots to learn and look forward to stetching my horizons. These days I rarely use a pattern but create from within myself so I'm also beginning to see myself as a textile artist rather than an embroiderer who quilts. Others, of course may disagree strongly and I'm happy with that. This piece is paper fabric, beading, sequins, paint and stitch.

The postman has called again and left me with two very different but exciting pieces. Jan Lewis made this arch for me as part of the Textile Challenge Arch swap. Jan has used twin needle stitching and has painted fabric and paper and used them together with co-ordinating thread wrapped cords tomake beads of different sizes. There is a little pocket in the arch together with a small scroll wrapped in threads. Jan also made a tag to go with the arch. I'

Alis Parkinson made be these two atc's as part of the Surface Design shape lottery, her shape for me was oval. Alis is also doing Terri Stegmiller's Paper Quilting Exploration course and has used what she's learned there to create these miniature art works.
Had a fairly quiet day today trying to catch up with work in the garden, washing etc. I've enjoyed it, its been a change from the frantic tooing and froing I've been doing recently. Keith and Sy managed to get my Chilean Potato Tree up against the wall again. Quite a lot of damage had been done to it when it fell but all is not lost, it'll live to flower another year. The snails and slugs have had a go at my hostas and the birds have pulled up my bedding plants. Keith cut the grass and generally tidied the garden up and its now beginning to look more cared for.

Mil has now got a rash which is being treated with antihistamines but apart from that she's well. Wonder how long the calm will last this time.

I started to make some more tea cosies for the Air Ambulance exhibition but then re-read the application form and they don't need them until September so I've put them to one side. I've got two finished and one half finished I'll take photos before I send them.

Just a quick word

Not had a lot of time but thought I'd give an update on Mum. We went to James Cook yesterday and saw the radiotherapist and the news is good. The type of tumour Mum has responds very well to radiotherapist and there is a good chance that it could fade away to nothing. She's to have 15 sessions (3 x 5 days) and they are allowing her to be an inpatient for the treatment days going home on the weekends. She seems to have had a great weight lifted off her shoulders and is looking forward to the start of treatment which may be the week after next. It depends on the diary, finding enough spaces for her to begin. Its a big relief all round and today I was so washed-out I've done absolutely nothing but the essentials.

As she's going to stay in the hospital I won't need to stay with her and should have time to get some sewing in. Believe me I need some 'me' time as dealing with the "terrible 92's" has been very frustrating at times. I've got some tea cosies to make for the air ambulance and this month's TIF which I hope to do tomorrow. Bed now.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Storm damage to blackbirds home

I have or rather had a Chilean Potato Tree outside my kitchen window, yesterday the wind caught it once too often and down it tumbled. It's weight together with the wind had pulled itself away from the tressel holding it to the wall.

Now it lays in a pile outside the kitchen door completely blocking my way to the washing line. Unfortunately Mr and Mrs Blackbird had made this their home, having been rudely thrown out of the bush in the car park at the side of the house - the council men chopped it down to almost nothing. Rehoused in my splendid tree they created a little family, two blue speckled eggs were lain, sadly they got smashed when the tree fell. Poor Mr & Mrs Blackbird were devastated and have moved to safer territory.

Keith had to chop a lot off the tree to disentangle it from the tressel and wiring and now most of it has gone to the green recycle skips at the recycling centre. I'll have to wait before what's left of it can be put back on the wall as the weather has turned very wet as well as windy.

Good news is that Ihad a wonderful post delivery this morning. This lovely mini quilt arrived from Lil in Luxemberg. I love the the quirky strips in the blocks. Thank you Lil I'll treasure your quilt.

This is a close up of one of the blocks from Lil's quilt.

Besides the quilt my Quilting Art and Stitch magazines arrive and I finally picked up the parcel the post office had been trying to deliver. It proved to be two of Lisa Boyer's books which I just had to buy as I think they were written especially for me.

I also got Jennifer Chiaverini's book "Circle of Quilters" and "Homecoming" but I think I'm going to leave these to take with me on holiday in July.

I thought I'd have time to play today but just as I was about to get down and dirty the phone rang, Mum had fallen, not hard she just sort of slid down the kitchen units but she's shaken. She believes its the medication making her dizzy and it could be so tomorrow its another call out for the doctor to review her meds again. Good news is the nursing services are continuing to check her four times a day and make sure she washes, dresses, eats and takes her meds so I'm not running backwards and forwards across the town so much.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Swap catch up

Not had a great deal of time recently to sew Mum's been quite ill and I've spent most of my time with her but she's on the mend now. I'd made the base of these embellisher felt landscapes before Mum took ill and while I was sitting with her I managed to get some hand sewing done on one of them. When I got home I created machine embroidered borders on them. Just a few stitches on this first one and they can go to their new owners. One is for the Pamela Gilfoyle but haven't decided yet which one will go - I'll probably just turn them over and pop one into an envelope. Embellisher felt landscapes.
One complete with handembroidery.

The arch is for Francie of Textile Challenge fame its paperfabric background with velvet triangles and fme scribble. It's finished with a beaded tassle and it took me ages to get the strands to lay still until I remembered you needed to damp them then comb them.

My work in progress to be completed within the next 3 days is:

TIF challenge - how would I describe myself, I've thought about this and I normally think of myself as an embroiderer who quilts but really I'm not a quilter. I like traditional quilts but don't want to make one, I can make my points fit but I prefer squiggly lines and whenever I finish a quilt top I want to embellish it. My trad quilter friend thinks I spoil them so perhaps I'm not a quilter. So how do I describe myself - still not certain, textile artist perhaps so maybe I should just do the colour pallet part of the challenge until I make up my mind.

A 'Mountain' challenge from the Machine-Felting and Machine Embroidery group.

A 'Month and Year' Journal Page and a take up the hems on my husbands trousers he's in danger of tripping over them.

Received two more Art Deco flower cards the first is from Christine which I love, its very artistic with hand painted carnations. The background is paperfabric and a photoprint of a 1920's floral wall.
This second card is from Jennifer and in some ways is similar in style to the one I sent, great minds etc.
Its way past midnight, Keith's left for work, Sy is staying at a friends house so I have the place to myself. But I'm getting tired so will retire with a hot drink and a hot drink.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Where's Wally

I feel like Wally, here there and everywhere. Nothing to show as I've not done much since last I blogged. Mum's been ill and has taken up a lot of my time and looks to be doing so in the immediate future. Things are beginning to look up though and we'll be pleased when Thursday is over and she's seen the radiotherapist. In the meantime - Where's wally now.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Miniature quilt swap 2

After mixing up the name of the group for my last miniature quilt swap I need to be absolutely certain I get it right this time. This is the quilt I made for my Minaturebooty Quilt Swap the other one was for the ALQS and for Loulee in the Isle of Man. I can mention Loulee's name now that she's received it. I got a lovely card this morning from Loulee thanking me for the quilt I was so cheered by it.

Having got the right partner but the wrong group and deadline date for my last quilt I needed to do this one fairly quickly to meet the deadline. I got up early yesterday and set to to make this one. It took me all day but I did it - hurray!!! It's much better in real life than in the photo so I do hope my partner likes it, she said she liked bright colours.

Booked our New Year holiday today, we're going to Calella on the Costa Maresme in Spain. We went a couple of years ago and enjoyed the peaceful village life and the winter sun. You can get the train into Barcelona from there so will probably do that. As Keith is walking better than he has done for a while perhaps we might even get some walking in while we're there.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Meldon Park again

Just a couple more photos. This rhododendrum had absolutely huge blossoms.
White Rhododendrum.
Camelia, they were a bit rain splattered I'm afraid.
Walled garden the lettuce were just beginning to grow, I liked the coloured lines.

Daisy who had hurt her leg and was resting.

Meldon Park

Went to Meldon Park in Northumberland today with the U3A this is the view from the front of the house. Meldon Park has been lived in by the same family for almost the whole of its life. Build by Dobson in the mid 19th Century on Grecian lines its a lovely comfortable family home. I just wish I had one of those rooms to be my sewing room! We had a lovely buffet lunch complete with wine on the second best china and silver there was loads to eat. But I was really glad to get outside again cos the house was really cold, central heating is only in some rooms.

Meldon Park from the front the estate stretches as far as the eye can see and look at that streak of yellow with green dots. If you drew a landscape like that someone would say it didn't look real.
Meldon Park is an equestrian centre but these are the family horses, the one in the middle is Jack and he's brought two of his friends to see who the strangers are.
This is mine-host James Cookson (no relation to the author) he, his wife, three daughters and his mother all live in the house.
Steps to some of the stables covered in aubretia.
Everywhere you went there were bluebells in all shades from white through blue to pink. Both the Spanish and English bluebells had naturalised themselves in the grounds.

The walled garden was just beginning to show life, they've found the season late this year.

Friday, 16 May 2008

More UFO's completed

I found this UFO needlecase in the bottom of a box and sat and finished it this morning. I thought it would be a good project for the Young embroiderers as it has some fairly easy stitches and is stitched on felt. I'll take it with me when I go next month.

Look what the postman brought me this morning. Another little gem from Brigitte Colleu its her swap card for the Art Deco Flowers swap.

And this is mine - art deco lilies, very popular in the 20's and 30's quite often in black and white.


I've had a teacosy as a UFO for some time now, no real urge to finish it until I heard that they were being made to sell for the Air Ambulance Service. Seeing that my friend Judy had reason to thank their service (she fell trekking across the Pennines breaking her shoulder and had to be air lifted to hospital) I thought I'd make some for this worthwhile cause. So I got out my ufo and finished it.

The teacosy is foundation pieced, four identical sections sewn together at the base, lined and bound with a binding fabric and fastened with velcro on each point.
The teapot is stood in the middle of the cosy and the sides wrap over it with the handle and spout poking . Now I have a problem, the cosy is small just fits a 2 cup pot but the instructions say sew all the velcro on the same . They fasten together across the pot to create a point. I found this created two points and was difficult to fasten with the points crossing each other. I'll unpick two pieces of velcro and sew then on the top that way they'll all lay flat and should fasten easily.
Went to James Cook hospital yesterday with Keith to see the neurosurgeon. He's quite pleased at the response Keith has had to the steroid injection into his spinal column. Keith also is finding it easier each day to walk just that little bit further. He goes back in a couple of months to see if the pain relief injection is still working.
Mum's doing okay, still having the odd nosebleed but not as severe as they were and she's coping well. Mil though is on the decline, she's loosing weight quite rapidly and has broken two fingers in a fall. She quite lethargic and withdrawn at the moment, though still enjoyed having her hair done. Her doctor feels these symptoms may just be part of the Alzheimer's disease as it's know that it can affect the absorption of vitamins. In the meantime they are trying to get her to drink vitamine drinks. But the new clothes I bought for her a month ago are now hanging on her - I really do hate this disease.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Miniature quilt swap

At last I've finished my first mini quilt, this one is for the Quilting Pirate 'Toni' Miniaturebooty swap. I'm not a particularly good quilter so I normally just do stitch-in-the-ditch but I bought Patsy Thompson's quilting dvd's and thought I'd give 'proper' quilting a go. So this one has wandering lines and leaves all over it. After I'd finished it I hung it up and somehow it looked too bland. Think it was the co-ordinating shades of the Moda fabrics I'd used. I decided to bond some flower shapes onto the top echoing the flower theme in the fabrics. This really lifted the quilt and after I'd put centres in and quilted round them I was happy with it. Though I must admit I'm not sure what the recipient will think of it.

Close-up of the fabrics and appliqued flowers.

We took my Mum to the coast on Sunday. my sister and son Simon and his girlfriend Julie came with us. The weather had really cooled down from the day before. We stopped at Sandsend just outside of Whitby and walked along the front. There were people on the beach flying kites as it was just right conditions to do that. My son told his girlfriend how as children he and his brother had a big kite their grandmother bought them and they loved to fly it. I said I really missed that kite we'd had lots of fun with it. Five minutes later Keith produced a kite he'd bought for me. Unfortunately we didn't have time to fly it because just as we got it unwrapped the fog came in from the sea and we thought it best to get Mum out of the cold air.

We stopped at Whitby for Mum to play on the slot machines she's a real demon on them and boy did we have problems getting her out of there!!! The sun was out by this time and after we'd all had fish and chips and watched the sea for a bit we thought we'd return home over the moors. We stopped on the way back and had a picnic at Helmsley with view of the castle behind us. Mum really enjoyed her day as did we all.

Keith, Simon and Me.
Mum, Julie and my Sister Lesley

Friday, 9 May 2008

I've finally managed to get lesson one of Terri's wonderful paper quilting exploration course. I gave the first piece I made away, that's the lime green one with the tulips. Happy Birthday Ann and I hope you liked it and that your legs are soon better than every.

The blue one I made just for me. I could really get carried away with this paper quilting lark and am seriously thinking of doing one of my QC journal pages in it. Not got round to doing Lesson two yet and doubt I'll be able to before next week.

Tomorrow I'm off to the NE Regional Day (EG) taking my monoprinted pieces with me. The blue flower one I wanted to mount on an artist stretcher but couldn't find one the correct size. In the end Keith made me a frame. I stiffened some calico with watered down pva, sewed the piece in the middle and Keith stapled it onto the frame for me.
Also got well on with my miniature booty quilt piece can't show you this one until my recipient received it. Can tell you the colours are way out of my comfort zone but its coming together well. I've used some jelly roll pieces for this quilt and found them more restricting than I had imagined!!! I've been practising quilting with my BSR foot so I could do something other than sid. It took me ages to get the hang of this foot it kept stopping and starting but now I must admit I'm beginning to like it. Its great for fme and free motion quilting but not so hot on stitch-in-the-ditch type quilting or regular sewing but I don't think it was designed for that anyway. I've only got the border to put on the quiltie and add a bit of something but I'm quite pleased with its coming together, only hope the person who's getting it will be happy with it.

I went to the U3A monthly meeting this morning and was looking forward to our after-meeting get together. Unfortunately Mum needed me yesterday while I was there the carriers tried to deliver some stuff I'd ordered on-line. I rearranged delivery for today forgetting momentarily about the meeting. Luckily Keith wasn't too tired this morning so agreed to stay up for a while. I said I'd phone him when we broke up for coffee and come home if it hadn't arrived. Naturally it hadn't so I said goodbye to my friends and left early and yes you've guessed - it arrived 10 minutes after I'd left the meeting. Still it gave me more time to sew.

Thursday, 8 May 2008


I received this beautiful whole mini quilt from Colene Russel who is my partner in the ALQS. I've forgotten to turn it 90 degrees but the pattern is a bowl of flowers. At the moment its pinned to my display board so I can keep looking at it. I think she's very brave to even attempt wholecloth quilting and its very well done.

I've not blogged for a few days, mainly because I was getting on with some of the wip's but also due to Mum's health, which isn't too good at the moment.

Its the Northern Region EG's Regional Day on Saturday and those of us who attended the courses at Ushaw College were asked to take along the work we'd done to show and tell. So I've been busy trying to get some finishe instead of putting them to one side.

This piece I didn't like much, in fact I wasn't too keen on any of my pieces, I laid the paint on too thick. However once I'd started to stitch into it it grew on me. This started out as dark blue and silver but now with added beading and machine embroidery it looks more purple and airforce blue.

I turned a few pieces into cards, these were mainly small bits I'd been experimenting with. Again I got the monoprint thicker than it should have been. I expect its just inexperience but the leaf shapes stamped out quite well. These were the foam stamps you buy in diy and craft stores. A bit of stitching and a few beads later and hey presto a card for someone.
Monoprinting is easy, fun and cheap. You need acrylic paint (the cheaper the better) a flat surface that is easily cleaned eg glass from a photo frame with the edges covered to prevent cuts or a piece of plastic sheeting. If you are using plastic sheeting its probably best if you pad it out with some newspaper underneath. If you do use newspaper make sure there are no creases underneath the painted area of it'll transfer to the fabric when you print. You'll need a roller to spread the paint, a bottle will do and something to make a mark or pattern in the paint once its been spread out. Use your roller to spread out the paint on your sheeting and draw a pattern/make marks etc. Once you are satisfied with your artwork place your fabric down on top of the paint and smooth it out. You can use your hands or a clean roller, press hard to transfer the paint to your fabric. Wallah you've just monoprinted!!

As for stencilling patterns tape your fabric down onto the plastic sheet, place the stencil over the top, tape that down too. Using a brush, sponge or sponge brush dab the paint onto the stencil. Try not to get it under the stencil or you'll end up with blurged edges. This is what I've done to this last piece of fabric.

I used two stencils here, one grasses and one leaves. I used the edge of a sponge - think I used cheap make-up sponges the type you buy in big packets - to create veins.

I enjoyed doing the printing but ended up with green nails that took quite a lot of time to come clean so beware - use gloves.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Good Day at Leyburn

Despite all the rain we had a good day at the Food and Drink Festival in Leyburn. We took Mum's wheelchair as we'd been told that the site was wheelchair friendly and so it proved to be.

There were so many people we managed to get separated from the others but luckily I had my mobile with me. It's always been a bit of a joke that although I have a mobile I usually forget it or the battery is low or its at the bottom of my bag and I never hear it ringing. Today though I had it handy, the battery was full and I heard it ringing. We met up with the others for tea, fruit cake and Wensleydale cheese. There were so many 'samples' at stalls that when it came to lunchtime I just wasn't hungry.

This is me pushing my mum, she's thoroughly enjoying some pie 'n' peas. It's not something she usually has but she saw someone eating some and fancied one herself. she managed to eat it all.

By two o'clock I thought Mum was looking a bit tired and the rain had got heavier so we headed home with her. She'd had a really good day and was feeling very happy.

The early start home has given me some unexpected sewing time. I want to make a start on my paper quilt for Terri's course my Muse is calling me.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Play Day

Yesterday the sun shone and it brought me out into the garden to play. I wanted to make some fabric paper for Terri Stegmiller's Paper Quilt course. I have very little room indoors so it was an ideal opportunity. These are some of the papers I made and I look forward to following Terri's instructions to make a paper quilt. Apart from making the fabric paper I did absolutely nothing yesterday and I feel much better for it. I can really recommend a playday to iron out the doldrums.

Today I gave a talk to our local EG on fabric postcards. I took along my collection of well over 500 and rising. It went down very well ,much to my relief , I wasa a bit worried as there were only about 30-40 people there due to the bank holiday. I'd prepared overhead projector sheets of some my favourite cards but it was positioned so far away from where I had to stand that I abandoned the idea and just talked. I handed round the cards while I talked about them which went down well. There were lots of o0hing and ahhing, some smiles but lots of praise for the makers of the cards.

Out of this talk came a request for me to do a fpc workshop with the members and a seperate one with the commitee who can't wait to make one. One lady asked me if I would consider allowing Bowes Museum put on an exhibition of the cards from around the world as they were always looking for something different. I'll wait and see whether anything comes of that one.

We're taking Mum to Leyburn Food and Craft Market tomorrow. Its a big 4 day event a bit like a giant Farmers' Market. It started out with just me and Keith taking Mum, now there are eleven of us going, we'll look like a convoy!! Mum's really looking forward to having a day out with so many of her family, just hope the weather keeps smiling.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Good news Bad news

Went with Mum to see the Haematologist this morning and there's good news and bad news. The good news is that her tumour is the only one. Her xrays didn't show any other tumours in her body and her blood results showed no anaemia or kidney damage. So that was a relief. The bad news though is that the tumour mum has at the back of her nose is cancerous and has spread to her eye socket. She's been complaining of pressure and pain behind the eye, her eyes are streaming as though she has a heavy cold and she has double vision in one eye. Apparently its all down to the plasmacytoma spreading to the soft tissue within the eye socket. More bad news is that its down under her eye and right at the back of the eye socket near the brain. Its inoperable, at least for someone of my mum's age and frailty.

The consultant did not recommend chemo for her as he felt her body would not cope well with it but he adviced radiotherapy. It will help reduce the size and the swelling in her eye and relieve the pain. The tumour is very large, much larger than expected, too large for surgery. She was told they could not cure it just reduce it and that it would come back, however, it could be as long as 2 or 3 years before it gave any problems again. He kept saying he didn't want to be ageist but in that time a lot could happen. Guess all they can do really is palliative treatment. Mum's quite philosophical about it and quite relieved she won't be having surgery.

After I got back home it was time to meet Keith for our dental check-ups, okay there. So as you'll guess I didn't get any sewing done at all today and tonight I just feel washed out. Think I'll have an early night and start afresh tomorrow.