Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Half Square Triangle Hell

It was the first meeting of the year for Country Roads Quilters yesterday and we started the actual stitching (there's been a lot of planning and preparation to reach this point) of our quilt that we are intending to enter at the Festival of Quilts this year.  This is the block I made, apart from the business meeting and lunch, it took me all day!  I so rarely do this sort of patchwork these days that I found it exhausting, but I am pleased with my block and even more pleased that other members produced lovely blocks too.  I think the quilt is going to be a success, we are currently deciding on quilting designs, more planning and decisions!  We are very fortunate that one member, Liz, took on the role of both designer and co-ordinator of the project, she has done an excellent job and continues to do so.
Here are some of us at work, you can see the concentration!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Journal Quilts 2016

Decision made!  I have signed up to take part in the Journal Quilt Challenge 2016 with the QGBI Contemporary Group.  So, here are the challenge rules:

1.  One JQ for each month.
2.  8" x 10" portrait format.
3.  Include an area not less than ½" square of a set colour, this must be included as a whole, not cut up and used in several areas.
January - April a little bit of purple
May - August a little bit of green
September - December a little bit of orange

I have to say it was the colour rule that made me hesitate about signing up, I'm fine with green but don't usually work with either purple or orange.  So it's a case of the "outside my comfort zone" thing.

My own guidelines will include working with textured fabrics and silks, including hand stitching and some new techniques (new to me that is) and I would like to have an outline design for the year in mind so that the journal quilts sit together as a whole eventually.  So it's a case of finding some purple fabric and watching this space......could indigo be described as purple?!!!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Sew Early for Christmas

Yesterday and today I've had a bit of a production line going.  I have decided that I would like to do more work using silk fabrics and to use fabrics of differing textures to add another dimension to my work.  Inspired by the work of my quilt guru, Teresa, I thought I'd start with a Christmas tree in folded patchwork.  So I made a pile of these.

Then I tweaked them a little to get the points as sharp as I could, pressed them and added some beads.

With the addition of more beads and a ribbon to hang the decoration up, ta dah! Now all I have to do is remember where I put it when Christmas comes around.


I'm sure you know how to make these little folded decorations but here's a quick tutorial for anyone who doesn't.  Using cotton patchwork fabric will give you a neater, more accurate finish, I was using a variety of silk fabrics with differing weights and textures.
1.  Sew two contrasting equilateral triangles
of fabric together right sides together, leaving a
small gap, turn to right side, slip stitch the opening.

2.  Fold each point to the centre and stitch in place.
3.  Turn work over and stitch the centre point
of each open side to the mid point.
4.  Stitching finished, tweak the fabric
into place - 
5.  and press.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A New Year, A New Toy

Lynda Monk was having a clear out, as we all do at this time of the year.  I am now the excited owner of one of these
although it will be a very long time before I have that many bobbins on my kumihimo maradui.  Here's a short video to show you the basic idea:
I did a little kumihimo weaving when I was in Japan, I've found the posts and then spent quite a while looking back through photographs and feeling very nostalgic for my Indigo Sisters, Bryan, the other lovely people I met in Japan, and the whole experience of the Japanese Textile Study Tour in 2012.

So, one of the things I do this year will be to weave some braids.  Lynda sent me three books of instruction and inspiration too and I shall look forward to my first opportunity to go shopping for threads!  I remember enjoying the rhythmic "click, clack" of the bobbins when I was in Japan, so soothing although a lot of concentration is required.

I am currently trying to decide whether to commit to the Contemporary Group's Journal Quilt challenge again this year.  The quilts are to be larger, 8"x10" portrait, and there are rules concerning colours.  I am pondering.  Other exciting happenings include the quilt we are making at Country Roads Quilters which will be entered in FoQ this year and the current techniques swap we are having at Global Piecers, foundation piecing this month.  There's a lot to look forward to, plus a forecast of snow later this week, finally it might be Winter!

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Goodbye 2015

Goodbye 2015. 
I think it's fair to describe the past year as a roller coaster period in my life and the lives of many family members and friends.  I'm looking forward to the new year. 
I'm not making a list of resolutions, not even promising to finish all those UFOs, but I have some ideas and plans up my sleeve and I'm hoping it's going to be a better year for us all. I'm certainly feeling positive.
I am pleased that I completed the Contemporary Quilt Group journal quilt challenge this year. It was touch and go some months but I have twelve quiltlets that, I think, reflect the year. Here they are all together.
I don't know whether I will take the challenge again this year, I'll see what the rules are when they are published.  
I saw this on Facebook and thought it is a good wish for a new year so I wish it for all my lovely followers:
Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Journal Quilt Challenge - Done

My last stitching of the year is done, the challenge journal quilt for December.  The text is from Longfellow's poem, The Rainy Day, and reads, "into a life some rain must fall".  I'm hoping for less rain and more sunshine next year.
I included fabric from November's quiltlet and also fabric from January's quiltlet, to give a full cycle of pieces.  I shall try and take a picture of all twelve journal quilts together in the next couple of days.
Now though, it is time to put the needles and scissors away and celebrate Christmas.  I have already had a lovely lunch out with my family and tomorrow I shall be cooking a Christmas lunch for big grandson and his parents.  It's going to be a quiet season.  DS and DiL will be with Jessica's parents and DD is in Germany.  The awesome Sam is with his father this Christmas so we will have a celebration with him when he returns home.  Of course there are people missing this year and I know I am not alone in expecting some poignant moments.  I send my love to everyone who has lost a special person during this year.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Band Samplers

Today I visited the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge where there are many things to marvel at. I don't think I have seen another collection where so many of the artists are household names.  Wow, it's by Monet, look a Rodin sculpture, and another, a Picasso.... Or where so many artefacts are so old yet intact and exquisite.  I also saw these band samplers, a style I've not seen before although I have seen plenty of "traditional" rectangular Victorian examples.  These are English and stitched in silks in the mid 1600s.  Photography was difficult in the low light conditions and with the work protected behind glass but I took a shot of both examples and a close up of a section of each. Enjoy.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Writing by Machine

I'm still struggling to get my machine writing to be as nice as my handwriting!  I think I need a lot more practice but here is this month's journal quilt for the Contemporary Group challenge.  The text is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, 
"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air,"
Note: In Emerson's poem, Merlin's Song, the line ends, "drink the wild air's salubrity".

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Boro Runner Finished

Today I have finished the boro style table runner that I have been working on for a while.
Here's the kantha stitched koi (which needs a press!)
and here's the finished runner on our dining table:
Now it is time to get on with swaps and Christmas stitching.  My Christmas cake is in the oven, filling the house with spicy alcoholic aromas and I'm going to sit by the fire and work on a festive prayer flag for a good friend. I feel like I'm living in the little house on the prairie!! 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Journal Quilt - October

My CQBI journal quilt for October reflects the ups and downs of life while keeping to my self imposed rules.  It's late but it's done!