Thursday, 31 January 2008


January has brought quite a few challenges for me both healthwise and textilewise. Mum's on the mend now and doesn't need one of us to be there three times a day for her. We are all quite willing to do this but boy it does take it out of you, especially when you aren't feeling up to scratch yourself. Finally beginning to feel human again. I was challenged to buy a wheelchair, new fridgefreezer and find a cleaner for Mum. Not sure what the problem was with the fridge but boy did it smell. Mum had become used to it and didn't smell it any more. All the food was in date and nothing was mouldy, everything was spotlessly clean but the smell was horrid. Finally asked mum how long she'd had it and it transpired it was getting on for twenty years. End result was buy her a new one. That comes tomorrow so challenge one out of the way. Wheelchairs - anyone tried to buy a wheelchair for a very small old lady? Mum's about 4'9" and weighs just over 7st. It's becoming increasingly difficult for her to walk to the car and on trips out she has to wait in the car while we all enjoy the countryside. Finally tracked one down that she could sit in comfortably without half a dozen cushions and didn't cost the earth, challenge two out of the way. Still got challenge three to do, never had to find someone to do the housework (wish I could afford it!!) so that's for next week.

Textile challenges though, completed BQL bag challenge, TIF Challenge, Fibre&Stitch Scrap Challenge but not posted picture yet (can't find where I've stored it!!) and now the Recipe Challenge has been finished. The last one is for Fibre&Stitch. It's a recipe for "Lavender Heart Cookies" I first saw a recipe for Lavender Biscuits when I was shopping for lavender bushes in Lavender World just outside of Pickering, North Yorks. Think they may have changed their name now. The flavour is wonderful, well I think so dh isn't so keen but then he doesn't like lavender.

I tried something new to me for this challenge. I'd transfer paint some papers earlier in the month and when I was in town came across a large paper punch with a swirl pattern. I thought I would cut swirls out of the painted papers and use them on fabric, then I would also have a negative image to use some other time. It worked very well. I made lavender hearts out of paper clay and coloured it with Brusho and added lavender, they smelled wonderful. I made a tassel from them. Lavender flowers were made by tying floss round a frame and using dark violet thread and buttonhole stitch for the flower heads. The whole thing was painted with pva and water mixed. Once they were dry I cut the flowers up and using some of the darker thread tied them into a bunch.

Lavender Heart Cookie - Fibre&Stitch Recipe Challenge Journal Page.

This journal page is from Charmion Stephens and is her swap to me for the Surface Design Colour Composition - Favourite Artist colour analysis swap. It's based on Kandinsky and I just love the bright vibrant primary colours in it. I was very pleased to get it. Charmion also sent me some beautiful threads in tea rose colours I have great plans for them.

Well February tomorrow and my youngest son Simon's birthday on Saturday. He's going with his girlfriend and another couple for a long weekend at Oasis near Penrith. The barometer is dropping, the wind is rising and I don't envy him his weekend in the forest I am going to curl up with some sewing.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Started to sew some lavender log cabin blocks I'd made a while ago from left over fabric last night and appliqued some large purple daisies on the blocks. Not sure what I'll do with them but that's the sum total of my sewing for the last 24 hours. Only had enough fabric to do two daisies but bought some more fabric this morning, not a match but the same shade so might put one on the other two blocks later. I'll have to take a photo when I find where I've put my camera.

Mum came out hospital today and still isn't too well, think she's in a circle. Doesn't feel well because she hasn't eaten for several days, too dizzy and faint to eat etc. Left her with my sister and will call round in the morning to see if she's okay if not I'm going to get her doctor to call on her and check her out.

Got a couple of journal pages to do and a quilt for the quiltswap, maybe the purple daisies will end up being okay for this one. Also got a string of birds to make they are to have a small hook on the top but not sure where I'll get one of these.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Well this is my scrap challenge book cover. I don't actually keep many scraps I'm more a thrower outer but I do keep loose threadsends and bits of sheer fabrics. So I layered these onto some unappealing cotton, covered them with a grey chiffon scarf and scribbled all over them in fme in two colours. I finally added some butterflies and stem stitch. The silver strip is some silver bits I bought from Crafty Notions along with the adhesive that is a bit like double sided tape. I made a tag with the off cuts.
Bag from the inside.
Ah well now to the Mask challenge. I couldn't think of anything other than text so using the letters MASK in Jokerman font I created a few designs and made a sampler with a letter fringe.

Just wish I hadn't used the variegated thread, ah well another learning curve.

Sunday bloody Sunday

What happened to the weekend, I spent some of it in hospital with my Mum. She's prone to nose bleeds but on Sunday she had one that just would not stop. I kept telling her to sit with her head forward but you know what it's like sometimes getting old ideas out of old heads. She believed you had to sit with your head back. Naturally she ended up in an awful mess, very sick and it was nasty and all over the place. Took her to A&E where she was finally sent to an ENT ward to be seen by the consultant. Three tries later they had plugged her nose but it was still leaking backwards. Poor love by this time is the early ours of this morning and she was absolutely exhausted. I left her in the kind hands of the nurses there and am about to go and visit her.

In between I did manage to get some sewing done. I had two challenges this month, one on the theme of "Mask" and the other a scrap challenge with Fibre&Stitch.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Fairy Cats

Got the Fairy cards finished for the private swap and should be able to get to the post office tomorrow. Not a great lover of fairies, I've nothing against them but think its because being brought up with boys and living in a houseful of men fairies didn't feature much in my life. Remember my Mum or one of my aunts had a book called Flower Fairies that I liked the pictures in. On the whole though I was a child that prefered a screwdriver and a set of mechano.

Feeling tired and a bit jaded think I really should have gone out for a quick walk but the weather has been so bad, cold, wet and windy. Got some bondaweb painted for some playtime tomorrow and I want to do some lutradur at the same time. Just remembered I've sent for the QA DVD so something to look forward to. It's taken me all night to catch up on blog reading and now I'm ready for bed but probably won't sleep thinking of all the great things people have been doing out there.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Don't know what happened but this got left behind when I published my last post.

Quiet day

Had the house to myself today and apart from terrifying the dust bunnies I've not done a lot. Caught up with a couple of swaps and posted them. Unfortunately I forgot to scan or photograph them but luckily this one escaped. It's my flower foot swap for the Surface Design group (link's in the side panel). My flower foot is getting a bit old now and obstinately refuses to work properly with the zigzag stitch. I used the gathering stitch to create the flowers. I like the stitch it makes a two layer flower. Only the central panel has 'flowers' the background is handdyed cotton with angelina fibres and hand painted bondaweb bonded onto it and as you can see when I tried to use the zigzag stitch it 'wandered'

My January Contemporary Quilt issue arrived this morning and saw they are doing a Journal Quilt Challenge for 2008. You must commit to one quilt a month and send details every four months of your work. I'd love to and do this challenge but I'm not convinced my work would be good enough. So do I commit or do I continue to lurk? I really need the incentive of a swap or a challenge to push me into doing things. This year I really want to do an art quilt so maybe this challenge is where "I put my needle where my mouth is " - I just can't make up my mind.

Keith's not feeling too good today, his back is really painful again. He looked a bit grey when he arrived home from work. The MRI scan showed the problem was different from what it was thought to be. We'd been told it was disc deterioration trapping his sciatic nerve but it appears that's not the case. The problem is narrowing of the space within his spinal cord. The scan showed that although the space was restricted there was still enough space to allow the nerves to pass through. However his neurosurgeon was unsure about operating as it was a big job and he could end up with his spine collapsing. He believed that inflammation within the spinal cord is the main problem and an epidural may be the answer. Monday he goes to see the anaesthetist for advice on pain contro. Up until today though Keith thought the pain was getting better - spoke too soon. We'll have to wait and see what happens on Monday.

Mil is over her sickness and diarrhoea bug; the home closed their doors to visitors and it seems to have contained virus. She was quite happy when I saw her earlier in the week but was too busy with a piece of toast and marmalade to talk to me much. I've finished knitting her cardigan and will probably take it up at the weekend along with another pair of slippers and more knickers. They must have a knicker nabber in the home she never seems to have any in her drawers (no pun intended).

Tomorrow I want to try printing using Bondaweb, as explained on Maggie Grey's blog. I also want to finish off my 'Fairy' fabric postcards for the private swap. I'm not a lover of fairies so I'm doing fairycats using a couple of designs from Amazing Design's "Happy Fairies". Just straight forward machine embroidery I'm afraid, I'm being lazy but I think the swappers will like them.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Breathe of Fresh Air

Went for a short walk out on Sunday for a breathe of fresh air. We had intended to go down to Whitby but the sky became so dark we stopped at Staithes. Staithes is one of our favourite spots anyway so it wasn't a hardship.

We decided to walk around the small alleyways behind the main street. It's often a surprise what you find there. I was amused by this line of wellies drying on the garden fence.

When we got down to the harbour we saw the lifeboat men working near the breakwater doing something odd. The dingy was going in circles and we couldn't make out at first what they were trying to do. There looked to be something sunk in front of them - "were they taking people off a sunk boat?" No the 'boat' turned out to be the lifeboat special tractor. It had a sort of cage on the front and the dingy was trying to get onto it. They finally managed and the tractor pulled the dingy back up onto dry land.

I liked the look of these lobster pots might use this in some future work.

Large boulder on the rocky foreshore just underneath a towering cliff. The day was getting darker by the minute so we set off for home but felt better for our breathe of fresh air.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Jane Austen Quiz

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

I've seen this quiz on a few blogs and decided to try it myself. Apparently I'm Elenor Blackwood type, think thats okay with me. Have a go yourself.

And I thought I was going to a textile exhibition

My friend asked if I wanted to see the exhibition with her and naturally I said yes. I thought we were going to a textile exhibition of some kind. Wrong!! We went to the exhibition of contemporary images of people and places in Mongolia.

The photos were technically beautifully created and printed but as for content, well that was another dimension all together. If anyone wants to see photos of scrub and rocks with the occasional camel and 'ger' (yurtlike tents); photos and statues of Lenin with the odd young monk entering monasteries. Well this is the exhibition for you. To be fair it probably would be much more interesting if you had heard the talks before you went. Then the seemingly monotonous content might be more understandable. Must stress that this is only me and my friend's opinion.

Luckily the Oriental Museum has the most wonderful collection of Chinese and Islamic artifacts and well worth a visit. Everytime we come to the Oriental we always check it out. The morning certainly wasn't wasted thought as we rounded it off with a lovely lunch and whilst we caught up with all the gossip.

Got this wonderful card from Angela of the ArtsintheMail group. I first saw these cards on her blog and admired them. I had forgotten she owed me a swap from the Something beginning with I swap. I was asbolutely delighted to get this one.

Not really done a great deal today, been to the first meeting this year of the U3A and sorted out the paperwork for the renewal of our passports.

I realised that I had got most of the swaps from the others on the Flower Foot swap, run by the Surface Design Group and thought I'd better get a move on with mine. I've had my Flower Foot for a number of years now, ever since Val Campbell-Harding wrote about them . They are great fun but mine is on its way out now. I think the spring is going as it doesn't always go in circles. Sometimes it gets most of the way round then veres off on its own so circles have a tail to them. I hope it lasts out until I've done this swap. As I said I've had it a while now and rarely use it so once it gives up the ghost forever I won't be replacing it.

I decided to spray-paint some pelmet vilene in an effort to see whether the more stable surface would encourage the foot to go in circles. I used some of the Moonglow spritz and some of the Craft Notion sprays. They sank into the vilene, the colours look slightly darker in the photo than real life. I also used the same sprays to colour Bondaweb, not sure whether I'll use it for this swap but you never know. I heat bonded some Angelina and laid it on plain cotton and set off to create flower circles. Some worked, some didn't. I found that the stitch used to sew on elastic worked best for me, the zigzag stitch was a total waste of time as the end result was anything but circular.

I've decided to cut the piece up into smaller pieces and use them as patches. I rarely know what my stuff will turn out like, I'm very much a "see how it ends up" person. If all else fails I can always create eyelets.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Bags and Swaps

These two fabric postcards arrived on my doorstep this morning and very welcome they were too. The multi-coloured card is from Aynsley McKay and she created it for the integrated inchies swap on Surface Design. The monochrome card is from Tracy Border and made as her response to the Flower Foot swap. I must admit I've been very remiss and haven't even started my Flower Foot cards yet. I think I'll have to start them next.

Not done as many swaps over the last few weeks as I really want to make an art quilt. I have a few journal pages in the pipeline but no quilt.

I made this carrier bag from the pattern on the BQL group. This year there is to be a Bag Challenge and this is January's. I made it from some glitzy denim and lined it with plain cotton. The bag folds up into its own pocket - a bit like a quillow. Unfortunately although the bag does go into the pocket the denim is really a bit too heavy for it to go in easily. Also the glitzy bits fall off. I was making it to give to my friend who is off to New Zealand for a month. Thought a bag that folds could come in useful to bring my present back. Only kidding Judy really don't want one.

I'll have to make another one to give to her. We're off to Durham tomorrow to see an exhibition. Can't for the life of me remember where, think it's the Oriental Museum, nor can I remember what we're going to see. I'm sure we'll enjoy the day out whatever it is.

My Mum is entralled in her "Betty's" book its bringing a lot of memories back. I'll have to take her to Betty's in Northallerton, which is only a 40 minute drive away from us but will keep that in mind for when she is having a 'down' day.

Bag when folded up into the pocket.

TIF Challenge Piece

It took me some time to decided how I would tackle the Take it Further challenge. Who I admired and was inspired by wasn't a challenge it was my Gran (mother's mother). She died many years ago when I was in my early twenties but she is often in my thoughts. Gran was a skilled needlewoman, like many of her generation. She had a large family and her work almost always had a utilitarian purpose. I doubt she would have had the inclination to 'play' as we do but feel sure she would approve of my 'work' today. She taught me to always do the best I could, no slapdash work for her. If it wasn't perfect but the best you could do then that was fine. Her favourite colours were the pink/green/maroonblues range. She loved flowers and cherished her family. Her crochet lacework was just wonderful. I hope I can live up to her standards.

Close-up of some of the stitches used which were mainly stem and chain stitch, some of the first she taught me.

The January challenge piece has a background of painted pelmet vilene. I had been given some sheer fabric of unknown fibre and I gave it the heat treatment with my heat gun. It didn't go into holes but crinkled up lovely.

This was bonded onto the vilene and I fme scribbled with gold thread to give it greater texture and further bond it to the vilene. I created a collage in Paintshop Pro using a photoframe, tag and my Gran's photo. This one was taken shortly before her death so is precious to me and shows her lovely smile. I attached this to the background using gold thread. I used a brad to attach the tag and then added hand embroidery, beads and paper lace.

The back is a PSP collage

Been to see my mum this morning and took her the "Betty's" book. She used to work in Betty's in Harrogate before she met my father and is always talking about it. She loved her time there but the war came and she was sent to work on the railways as a signalwoman. The book gives the history of Betty's tea shops and confirms much of the tales she used to tell. It's full of pictures both early ones of the 'family' and the latest ventures. I'm sure she'll love it, at least I hope so.

Mil is poorly again, this time she's got the lurgy, the dreaded sickness and diarrhoea. We aren't allowed to visit at the moment as they have used their 'closed door' policy to try and contain the spread. It must be rife in the UK as the radio and tv are constantly telling us that if we get it not to go to our gp but to stay at home, keep warm and drink plenty of fluids. Guess that's what they are doing with Jan. Well here's to keeping the bugs at bay.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Guild Challenge

First meeting of the year for our local Embroiderers Guild today and the speaker, Ed Norton, failed to turn up!!! Not sure what the problem was but we were all sat there waiting, the business side of the meeting lengthened to fill in time. In the end to distract us all, our stalwart leader gave us a challenge. Someone had given the guild several cones of 1 ply cotton yarn in shades of pink and green. Our task was to get together in groups and create something from the yarn. We were given 15 minutes to complete this task.

There were 3 in my group and the photo shows our efforts. We were concerned as to what might have happened to Ed. We thought perhaps he found it just too cold up here in the North East and had gone off to sunnier climes. So here you see Ed sitting under a palm tree pretending to be a rasta.

The other groups made spiders web and landscapes. The one shown is a garden in winter. Pink flowers amid green leaves and the white is their paper depiction of snow.

Ed was to talk about the best way to exhibit your work and to this end the members had brought along something to display. We thought we have a go so displayed our work as we thought best. Then a general discussion took place with lots of moving around of articles and much laughter.

The white cushion belongs to my friend Judy Hargroves. She started the whitework cushion at the Summer School we both attended back in August of last year. Unlike me she actually finished the piece she started - no ufo here. Judy's very good at finishing her projects.

Judy's whitework cushion and close up of the work.

Despite not having a speaker we managed to entertain ourselves and we actually talked to each other. A thoroughly enjoyable meeting and a format that could well be repeated in the future.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Finished the quilt cover at last. The fabric was quite difficult to work with, very slippy but pretty. It came as a suit bundle from BombayStores one length of patterned (photo) and one length of matching plain.

I used one length of patterned as a panel on the front with borders of plain. I also used the plain as a back. Doubt it'll stay on the bed but is what they wanted.

Selection of Christmas goodies, Ipod docking station so I can listen to my audiobooks while I work and when I've finished I have something to read.

My main present this year was my camera I got a Panasonic Lumix DMC FX33. Playing with it at the moment, trying out the different light settings and the macro. Blue flowers are a close up of a small cushion I have. Took the flower pots in the garden tonight with the security lighting on but although the camera has a picture stabiliser as automatic it took quite a time for the shutter to shut, hencwe the blurriness.

Tried the macro on the stitching of my shoe and it came out better than I expected, not quite got the lighting setting right. Guess I have a steep learning curve with this camera but I'll get there.

Got the utility sewing out of the way so time to play again. Been thinking about the two challenges, TakeitFurther challenge is to do something with the theme of someone who inspired me and my first thought was my grandmother. She's been dead now for quite some time but is still in myh heart and mind. She was the person who taught me needle skills partly due to the Quaker mentality of "the devil finds work for idle hands" but I enjoyed it. The second challenge on is 'Mask' now all I have to do is decide whether I want to go along the noun or verb route. I'll give them both some thought.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year

Not sure what happens in your house but here in the North East or at least its tradition in our family, that you never take a dust bunny, washing, ironing or diry windows into the New Year. You home must shine like a new star but this year I rebelled and Keith and I went to Hardwick Park in Sedgefield for a walk. Hardwick Park was once the landscaped gardens belonging to Hardwick Hall that was built in the 17th Century. The park fell into disrepair but is now undergoing a face lift thanks to lottery money. There are a number of ponds, lakes and woodland walks. We set off yesterday morning for a walk round the lake. The first thing you see in the Park is the ruined Gatehouse, I believe it was built as a romantic ruin (folly) the archway though gives a great view of the park beyond.

The woods in winter I thought looked like a line of giant feathers and think they will feature in future works so watch this space.

Down in the deep dark woods walked

Red Riding Hood.

Can you see the wolf watching for her?

We called in to see Jan on the way home. She seems to have settled very well into her new home, in fact I doubt she realises she's not in the same place. She's clean, appears happy enough and is thank goodness pain free. However she had a fall this morning and I'm not surprised. Her new slippers have been lost so we had to go out and buy her another pair. She was wearing some blue knitted flip flops in a size 7. She takes a size 3 so I'm not at all surprised she fell and told the attendants what I thought. Also her drawers and cupboards were empty of clothes? Apparently everything she owns in "in the wash". I must keep an eye on this, as I said we went straight out and bought her new slippers and a few extra clothes. Going back tomorrow to see whether they are still there and what she has on her feet. I understand the problem of clothing amongst inmates (feels like a prison) especially when labels come off or are unclear. Jan's are school labels so can't see the problem. Will give up now as this is becoming a bit of a hobbyhorse.

Got home and felt guilty as my house was less than sparkling. Started to clean up the dust bunnies and finished all the washing then company decended. It was good to see them but by the time they left I was too tired and it was too late to do more than collect up the coffee cups and make dinner. So we entered the New Year with unironed clothes and unwashed windows. Lets see if it makes any difference.

Happy New Year