Sunday, 29 November 2009

Zentangle Swap

I lost track of this swap and had to create the zentangle ornament in a hurry, I had missed the deadline date. I bonded some white cotton to a piece of pelmet vilene then took my micron pen for a walk, filling in the gaps with pattern. Next I used Derwent Inktense pencils to colour the design in and finally ran a damp brush over the whole piece to brighten the ink up.
I drew round a cookie cutter for the bell shape, cut them out, sewed two pieces back to back to make a double sided zentangle ornament and made a look to hang them.
Then I blundered, I should have left them as they were but no I had to try and gild the lily. I thought I'd put a glaze on them by coating them in acrylic wax. Bad move, they soaked up the acrylic wax like nobody's business and left the bells looking a little dull. Next I thought I might bring back some of the sparkle they'd had by painting a very thin coat of interference paint. Another bad mood, some worked okay others it was too thick and almost obliterated the pattern. As I was running late I had to send them out (I send two to each person in the hopes they might forgive my blunder) but I may yet redo this swap and send out ones I'm happy with.
These are the zentangle ornaments I received back.
A lovely tree from Chris.

And a great bird and wood ornament from Jan and Joni.

My fabric postcard group theme this month is "Wish you were here" and for it I used a photo taken on holiday in Tuscany. DH and I both love Italy, its not just the sun and the people but the art, landscape and sense of 'coming home' we both feel. I've used Photoshop and digital scrapbooking techniques to create my memories of Tuscany - don't you 'wish you were here'.

Our new participant in the group Doreen has created a digitised version of one of her holiday photos taken in Egypt. Chris on the other hand attended a Bingata dyeing course whilst on holiday in Okinawa and has used a piece of Bingata dyed fabric.
Now for the continuing saga of my Bernina 830 - having broken down hours before we went to Bruges its been back to Bernina and returned from them repairs. After using the embroidery module for just under 3 hours it broke down again and so is now back with Bernina for them to try and get to the bottom of the problem. All I can say is thank goodness they were able to reproduce the problem using my embroidery module on their machine otherwise there is a tendancy to put it down to 'user error'. I am though begining to lose confidence in the machine and if it is returned and breaks down again you will be able to hear me throwing my dummy out of the pram across the pond.
It has poured with rain all day but despite needing webbed feet we are off tonight to see "Christmas Carol" in 3D. Just hope we don't have to row back.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Beer, Chocolates and Lace

I can't believe its over a week since we got back from Bruges, time really does tempest fugit. We were lucky with the weather which was for the most part dry and sunny. We spent the first day wandering around the old part of Bruges, along the canals and testing all the things that Bruges is famous for - beer, chocolate and lace. Well we didn't actually eat the lace but it was so luscious we could have. We stopped for lunch in this canalside pub (left hand side) and ate waffles covered in chocolate and drank beer. The tower in the background is the Belfort tower.

The pub had a wall dedicated to all the local made beers, some 720 different types. If you drank one a day it would take you two years to sample them all. Keith wanted to stayand see if he could get through them all. The photos shows just some of them I couldn't get the full wall in the frame.

There were lots of lovely lace in the shops.

This shop with the lacemaker mannikins in the upper storey windows made lace to commissions. I doubt I could look at the prices nevermind order any but Idrooled.

I seemed to drool all the time, this is my mid morning snack of waffles, strawberries, cream, ice cream and hot chocolate sauce........ to hell with my diabetes for one day.

I did buy one or two samples of lace, well I couldn't come away without any could I. The top picture shows lace trims, the bottom one a small piece of lace curtain, the type that you put a pole through the holes.

We really enjoyed the few days away, it was very relaxing. Which was just what I needed as my my brand new Bernina 830 broke down a few hours before we left!!! This is the second time in the six weeks I've had it that the embroidery unit has given problems. Despite Bernina exchanging the first, after using the unit for around 8 hours (not all at one) the "Fatal Error" warning was displayed. This was the same error message I got with the original embroidery unit. I emailed David Drummond with all the details, even sent the log file and photos of the displayed errors. I did this on the Sunday night just before we left for Bruges. I did not expect an immediately response but I did expect that he would have at least opened the email before we got back from Bruges. Having said that it didn't take long for Bernina to pick up the machine and take it to Cardiff for repair. It's been gone a week now and though I've not heard back from them I hope to very shortly. To be fair I think I've been very unlucky they normally are very good machines but I'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

All packed up waiting to go

We can't make up our mind whether to stay up or go to bed for a few hours. We leave for Bruge at 04:15 hours which means we'll need to be up by 03:00. Guess I'll have a cuppa and think about it. This is the trip the boys bought for us as a surprise when they thought we needed cheering up. The postman has cheered me up though he brought the latest two 'Flower Pages'. The green felt one is from Wendy Kirk who has felted the flowers onto the background and written 'flower words'
Julie Mackinder's Flower Page is very different. I love the way Julie has created a background with white spots and filled in the spaces with flowers, both machined and hand embroidered.

Jennifer McCormack sent me this lovely atmospheric picture its the first I've received with the November theme of "Wish you were here". Not sure about the bike, don't think my old knees would cope with all the peddling but apart from that I'd love to be there.
The Surface Design group are holding a "Zentangle Ornament" swap. Now if you (like me) had never heard of a Zentangle have a look at those on the Zentangle site but be warned they are addictive. I've been practising...... these are from my sketch book.

They are very easy to do,its like doodling with pattern. Start by making four dots, then join them up, no you don't need a ruler if they aren't straight it makes a more interesting outine. Then take your pencil/pen/brush for a walk and fill in the spaces with patterns. Have a go its very calming.
I mentioned in my last post that I'dbought a Supreme Slider and I was asked how I got on with it and where I bought it. I tried to buy one in the UK and Franklins do have them but the the US price of $29.99 retailed here at £29.99 plus p&p so I bought mine in the States for almost £10 less (including p&p). There are a few sites in the States where they are sold just Google it and you'll get a list of them.
As for how I got on with it, well apart from leaving it on the machine when I tried to sew normally, great. I set off like a duck landing on ice!!! eventually I managed better control. On the whole though I like it and am pleased I got it. I had great intensions of doing all the 365 quilting patterns that Leah Day is videoing but must confess to beginning to feel a little bored with them now, although I do still watch the videos.
My good friend Jenny gave me a fright yesterday when her husband rang me to say she'd had a slight stroke. Oh no I thought, not another friend but it was very mild and she is recovering well. I just hope she takes things easy - Jenny if you are reading this - put your feet up and rest.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Can't wait for Advent to start!!!

My parcel has arrived from Iris Joy in Australia, my partner in the Advent Swap (she received mine yesterday). Just look at all those goodies, I can't wait to unwrap them but I will. Thank you so much Iris Joy by the way they smell delicious.

On wednesday our U3A Craft group met, we've been making Christmas Tree Ornaments for the Charity stall at the general meeting next week. Last time we made beaded ornaments and beaded baubles not to mention dotee angles. Wednesday we continued making tree ornaments but this time we made the felt and sequin waste christmas trees from the Stitch magazine.

They were simple enough for everyone to make and a great deal of laughter and gossiping was going on as well as sewing.

Keith also was doing 'Christmassy' things. Members brought photos they wanted turning into christmas cards and Keith took his laptop and printer along to oblige. Some people are going to get really special cards this year.

The last of the Goldwork swap cards arrived this week, Lorna has created hers from layered gold fabric background, metal leaves and free machine embroidery. She's really good at fme whenever I try to 'write' I always run out of space before I've finished the last word.

Cindy has used silks and gold thread embroidery this looks much richer in life than in the photo.

My contribution, again the photo doesn't show them in a good light but there is quite a bit of shine coming off them. The background is gold brocade topped with layered gold fabrics, fme. I cut this up and appliqued them to the middle of the brocade. Brass washers and gold leaves were couched onto the background and beaded. I've not used washers before but I thought they were quite effective.
My friend Carol Wilson from the Embroiderers' Guild sent me this postcard made from a photograph of the fairy shoes we made for the last exhibition. I love the 'woodland' setting she's placed them in. Carol is a very talented lady and full of ideas.

I've been following Leah Day's 365 days of quilting and even managed to do some of the samples. I made sandwiches from calico and happily stitched away. I was more pleased with some of my results than others and turned them into coasters and tissue boxes (five make a box). I showed them to some friends and now all I have left are these two. Don't ask me what days they are I've forgotten.

Most of my time this week has been spent doing mundane household sewing, taking up hems etc but I did manage a bit of recycling.
This is what's left of a pair of my old black jeans. I wanted a small bag to leave in the car for emergency shopping.
Is anyone doing the QA Mother Earth doll challenge? I think I might, that's if I find enough time. We're off to Bruge on Monday for a few days, this is the trip our sons bought to cheer us up so I'm looking forward to it.
I should mentioned one other purchase I've made recently, a Supreme Slider for quilting. As anyone with any sense knows it sits on your machine and allows you to move the fabric without drag. I proudly put mine on the machine and it fit great. I got out some fabric and started to sew but I couldn't get the machine to sew properly. Nerd that I am I'd tried to do normal sewing and the slider is for free motion sewing, with the feet down. Duh I now have a lovely imprint of the bottom of my quarter inch foot on the slider........

Monday, 2 November 2009

Wet Sunday drive

Sunday had arranged to meet Marc and Alix in Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District to see where they were getting married. We set off in torrential rain but the road was good until we decided to go via Ullswater. Big mistake the majority of the lakeside road was flooded with the heavy rain escaping from the fellsides in torrents. Some went via culverts under the road but most just cascaded across the road to meet the lake.
The lake came up to the road and in some places it was very scary. The water came about mid-wheel height and made driving equal to going through a car wash. The road was too narrow to turn round and go back also because speed had to be slow the traffic both ways was backing up.

When eventually we found a layby dry enough to stop in, to give Keith a break from driving and Buster a relief stop, Buster ran straight into the lake to fish. Thank goodness I'd packed his towels.

By the time we got to Lake Windermere the rain had stopped and the sun came out but we went a different way home. I had nightmares about roads that were submerged into the lake and the fact we couldn't manouver the car because we didn't have any paddles.
Today we are drying everything out.