Monday, 30 March 2009

Work in Progress

Following the embellisher play day we had at the beginning of the month with Serendipity I finally found the time to put some stitches into a couple of pieces. The challenge was to use no more than three colours but these could be monochromatic colours. I chose blue, yellow and purple with the yellow fading from pale lemon to lime green. I know, I know a bit of a cheat.

This was the piece I liked the best and have, I think, almost finished it. I'm leaving it lying around to see if anything strikes me as needing adding. The tree is 3D, I layed a large mound of fibres and overlaid them with more in the same colour to form a ball shape. When I got it home I twisted threads to form a trunk and branches and sewed them down taking stitches into the ball to shape the tree. Later I embroidered more branches and leaves in greens. I've used cretan, fly, scroll, buttonhole, stem, chain stitches plus french knots and bullions on the piece together with beading.
The second piece is one I've started to embroider for the StitchedTextileDesign group. Its final size will be 12cm x 12cm and fit into a CD box. At the moment its much larger than that but I can't decide which bit I like the most so some of it might become atc's.
On Friday its the annual Embroiderers' Guild (North East Region) Spring School at Ushaw College. Ushaw College is a firm favourite and one I look forward to each year. This year I'm doing a course with Toni Handley called "Indian Inspirations". On the requirements list it said threads in 'spicy' colours. Naturally I didn't have many so I persuaded Keith to take me to Embsay Mills (taken over by Samuel Taylors now) to buy some. This is my hoard and I don't feel one bit guilty over spending so much. I keep drooling over them and can't wait to use them this weekend. Roll-on Ushaw. All I have to do now if collect all the rest of the requirements list.

Monday, 23 March 2009

First lot of atc's for a while

I made these atc's for the 'Blue' swap on Mixedmedia_UK group the first I've made for a while. For once they will be on time and not scrabbling there last minute. I covered pelmet vilene in gesso, sprayed it with black Quink ink, which is supposed to give subtle blue/pink edges but mine just went blue. Still that's what I wanted but they weren't blue enough so I sprayed them with Adirondack colour spray inks. Once they were dried I brushed them with blue irridescent powder. I liked them but they didn't look 'finished'. I found some broad velvet ribbon and sewed that and four very small sequines. It still didn't look finished. I decided it needed a tassel and made one out of Maderia FS2/2 blue metallic thread and fastened them on with a large sequin and glass bead. I thought I'd better stop there before I went really overboard.
It's my friend Wendy's birthday today and as usually I hadn't got a card. I always mix her birthday up with St George's day, which as everyone knows is a month later. In desperation I remembered she liked fabric postcards. I dragged out my embellisher and felted a piece of lace curtain onto pelmet vilene. Stalks were made from twisted yarn and the flowers sewn into place with beads and sequins. I just hope she likes it as its too late now to go out a buy one.
Keith has been busy this week making me a new cupboard with drawer in the top to hold the embroidery unit for my Bernina. Its an awkward shape to have lying around and its been living under the table near the radiator, which I'm sure can't have been doing it much good. At long last it has its own home now. My sewing machine keeps telling me its time for a service so I need to sort that out next week.
My consultant wasn't too happy with my diabetic control, although he did think I was doing my best. It's been suggested I change the way I calculate my insulin. Instead of going on my blood monitoring result I now have to count carbohydrate values. Apparently 10g of carbs = 1 unit of insulin (or in my case 2 units of insulin). Good thing is they are not worried about how much sugar I consume, they said they didn't care if I ate 3 Mars bar a day just so long as I watch the carbs. Needless to say when we went out yesterday for Mother's Day lunch I had a pud!!!
The boys took me to Walworth Castle for lunch yesterday, okay dh and Mum came too but it was lovely to be pampered. The meal was fabulous, we ate so much that I promptly fell asleep when we got home.
Going to Jan's review (mil) tomorrow wonder what will come up there.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Down to some work at last

It's taken me some time but finally I managed to find time to actually do some sewing. I finished my January journal page which has eluded me for some time. I wasn't actually sure whether I wanted to do the 2009 challenge nor indeed whether I would have the time with Mum being ill. However things are looking better these days (cross fingers) so I've decided to plod on while I can.I still couldn't get away from music though and January's theme is "Fly me to the Moon". I finished February's early which was my response to the Australian bush fires. All I have to do now is think what I want to do for March's journal page.
I've joined the Book Page swap on the Mixed Media ATC-UK group which has a theme of 'flowers'. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do so I hope they are okay. The background is made from some fabric paper I made last Summer. I painted a section of a lace doily for the flower with Derwent Aquatone pencils. I've had these pencils for some time and am only just beginning to use them. I dropped a piece of lace for the edges into the teapot to stain it. I forgot to take it out and dh was a bit surprised to say the least when he went to make a cuppa.

The private swap theme this month was "What if you were a famous woman" Jennifer decided she'd like to be Queen Boudicca, a formidable lady. Jennifer has used a photograph for the card centre and framed it with a co-ordinating fabric.
I found this theme quite difficult as there wer quite a lot of famous woman I liked but would I want to be one of them. I decided no, I wanted to be the infamous Lady X. Lady X has more money, more men, more fun and everyone knows a Lady X. My ds made a metal template of this lady when he was learning CAD at college, I knew it would come in handy someday.

Six times a year my friend Jenny runs a Beading workshop and Monday was one of those days. The plan was that we would all make a crystal pendant, a fairly simple procedure you would have thought but poor Jenny was run off her feet unravelling our tortured threads and unpicking our work when we went in the wrong direction. She has infinite patience and we all had fun...

Linda and Margaret deep in concentration.
This was my effort, a red crystal pendant on a silver chain. Think it might be a Mother's Day present for Mum.
When I got home I made another one in greens just to prove to myself that I could remember how to do it. I'm going to keep this one for myself. The photo here shows the design better than the red one.
I read this week's title for 'Today's Title Is... ', which was 'soft folds', just after I'd added my eggs whisked to 'soft folds' to the orange sauce pudding I was making for dinner. Darn, too late to photograph but today while stopping at the Rheged Centre for a coffee break

look what I found.... Meringues, soft folds baked!!!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Got some sewing done at last

Despite having several appointments this week I've actually managed to get down and do some work, not a lot but some. TextileChallenge group 'House' challenge for Deborah O'Hare is finished. Don't know why it took so long to get an idea of what I would do for this swap, the theme of which was "Home is where the Heart is". On the surface it seemed too easy, until I sat down to do it. I found some fabric with hearts on in my stash which I'd forgotten about until I came upon it by accident. I thought it would make a good gable end and damp proof course.
Having quilted the background fabric it looked a bit bland so stamped the hearts all over it. I knew I wanted to put some dangly hearts on it and thought I'd use the Hearty airdrying clay in red. Wouldn't you just know it the craft shop has closed, credit crunch perhaps? I rummaged around in my old C&G art stock and came upon some air drying clay, it was a bit on the dry side but it rolled out okay. Naturally as soon as I went to get my small heart cutter it had disappeared so I had to make a template to cut the hearts out. Once I had painted them with acrylic paint and they had dried they looked okay. I sewed out a free standing lace heart and attached it to the back and added my label.
Surface Design swap was a slightly larger A4 mini quilt on the theme of "Wifes of Henry VIII".
You had to choose one of his wives as your theme for the quilt. I chose Anne of Cleaves as I considered her to be the only one who really got what she wanted (a woman after my own heart).
The quilt was designed to be the centre of a Tudor knot garden. From research it is thought that the Tudor knot garden is based on the embroidery on one of Henry's waistcoats fronts.
Blackwork was also very popular in Tudor times and I've represented this by the blackwork Tutor Roses in the quilt corners. The centre is quilted with silver thread and Anne's portrait is printout of her photo onto fabric. Anne is stitched down using a blackwork stitch on my machine, again in silver. Silver gilt lace was expensive and as a Queen could be expected to have worn such lace.
I've finally made a start on my January journal page for this year's Contemporary Quilters challenge (I did February on time). I thought I'd finished it but its been on my desk for most of this week as I feel it lacks something, not sure yet what it is. As soon as it comes to me I'll post a photo of it. Surfice it to say its black and white and red all over.
One sad event Keith and I went to this week was the funeral of a very old friend Myles. He was 82 and suffered from a very aggressive pancreatic cancer. Keith and I met Myles and his wife Rita through the scouting movement and Myles was also Churchwarden of our church. He was an extremely happy person, always helpful, laughed at himself and was well loved. The church was packed with standing room only at the back. We'll miss him but he left us with lots of lovely happy memories.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Birthday Girl

Well here she is the 'Birthday Girl' she really enjoyed lunch out on Sunday with the family for her 93rd birthday. She's a tough old bird with still lots of life left in her so here's to next year Mum. The Title is - Indian Summer you are supposed to depict the first thoughts that came into your head when you heard the title. Mine was 1967 the year I went on the hippy trail overland from the UK to Khatmandu in Nepal. We left in September when the weather was hot and warm, an Indian Summer. It truly was an Indian summer for me, visions of the Taj Malhal, The Red Fort, burning bodies on the ghats beside the Gangies, sleeping on the verandahs of Dak bungalows in the foothils. Wonderful warm weather, good company, the trip of a lifetime and all on £76 which was all the cash we were allowed to take out of the country!!
This card I made when I was learning to digitize, its not very good but it reminds me of my Indian Summer.

BQL March challenge calendar was to include a photo print fabric into a checkerboard quilt back. I wanted something to represent the bright colours of the tulips in Holland but the photo I had were mainly blues and I didn't have enough blue fabrics. My photo is of one of my first fabric postcards.

For this month's U3A craft class project we made these small patchwork coin purses. There were more of them but several went home with their designers. They had great fun making them. They are simply a strip of patchwork, layered, quilted, folded into three. You stitch up two of the sides to create the 'purse' the third forms the flap. I took along some left over jelly roll strips from which the ladies chose several strips to make their purses. The black triangle purse is only black on the flat, the rest of the purse is red.

I've been looking around for some more easy projects the ladies could do and came across Helen Birmingham's book "beaded flet jewellery". I thought I'd make some up first to see how easy they actually were to make.

They proved very easy and addictive. I even got my Mum making some of the felt bases for me.

Beading them takes longer than making the bases but still addictive.
This one is finished just got another 14 to make before I can turn them into a bracelet.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Fog on the Tyne is all mine, all mine

Except on Saturday when we finally left for the Flower Festival in Holland there was bright sun on the Tyne. The fog came when we got to Holland.Leaving North Shields with sunshine on the far shore.The theme for the flower festival was music but apart from one or two exhibits the entries were quite rigid, I'd expected more movement with this theme.
The blooms were in top form, really beautiful but all standing rigid in blocks as though they were on parade. Which I suppose they were seeing this festival was for the growers to show off their bulbs.There was just about every type of tulip you could think of and so many different colours. Having said all that we found it a bit disappointing, the cruise across the North Sea was excellent but it was a long way to go just to see two sheds. One admittedly full of flowers the other one a traders shed selling amongst other things, garage porches, double glazing, campsite places, houses and cars. It took us just over an hour to see everything there and have a coffee break. We were there for four hours..............

However we did get to see some windmills, there were four along this stretch of canal bank. We left Holland again in fog and arrived back in the UK to bright sunshine.