Sunday, 20 July 2014

Thinking Too Much?

Sometimes my blog post are simple journal entries sharing what I've been doing in my life with my family, my everyday life, my textile life or my globetrotting life. Sometimes they respond to something another blogger has posted. Just once in a while they get all philosophical, this is one of those occasions.

My last post showed photographs of my progress on the embroidery piece I started in a workshop last week. Local Julie, Julie in Japan, Blandina and Queenie all commented on the post which contrasted that embroidery with the stitching on the prayer flags I have been making. Their comments, in praise of one style of stitching or the other set me thinking. I was working on the intricate embroidery this morning, hoping to get this flower finished before it got too warm and muggy to sew and wondering why I wasn't enjoying it, even though it was going well….

My friends and family would describe me, in degrees ranging from affection to exasperation, as “a leader”, “OCD”, “a control freak”, “rigid”, “controlling”, “an organiser”, “bossy”; you get the idea!!

This view of me seems to contrast completely with the projects I am currently enjoying in textiles, the eco-dyeing, the prayer flags, the boro-style pieces, and would rather seem to suit the accurate, precise embroidery project.

But I love the prayer flags and am not enjoying the embroidery.

If the embroidery was going badly I can imagine that I would dismiss it as “not for me”. By declaring it not my thing I would avoid having to admit that I wasn't very good at it, that, heaven forbid, I had “failed”.

If I could conjure precise colours and designs from the eco-dyeing cauldron (oh, how I wish I had a cauldron, but the preserving pan is doing the job) and if I made the prayer flags and boro pieces geometrically accurate then I think they would suit my controlling character trait.

I don't want predictable colours, if I did I could use chemical Procion dyes.

I don't want mini “Round the World” or “9 Patch” design prayer flags and quilts in indigo, all accurate squares and nice, neat seams all meeting at the right place.

I don't want embroidery stitches that look as if they could have been done on a machine (okay, so I'm not THAT good).

So, the conclusion I reached, while doing those tiny chain stitches, is that textiles are probably my safety valve.  I can be led by the fabric and the stitches rather than controlling them, I am surprised by the results from the natural dyes and can't regulate them and my pieces are fluid and relaxed, not rigid. The me who works with textiles is my

alter ego |ˌaltər ˈɛgəʊ, ˌɒlt-, ˈiːg-|
noun ( pl. alter egos )
a person's secondary or alternative personality.
• an intimate and trusted friend.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: Latin, ‘other self’.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Reveal 1

Onion skins and Eucalyptus leaves on vintage kimono silk.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Where Did That Week Go?

I've noticed that more than one blog I follow has a post called something like, "Where did the week go?" so maybe it's not just me.

The weather has been erratic and we've had to make the most of the dry times to be in the garden and the wet times to do things indoors.  When it's been dry it's been hot and humid, not ideal for any work.

I have been stitching, however, and I have been dyeing.  Tuesday was an embroidery workshop at Country Roads Quilters and I was pleased with my progress.  I blogged about the preparation for this workshop here and now I can share some actual stitching.  It was useful to learn a few tips to keep stitches regular and even but it wasn't the sort of stitching I usually do.

This is more like my usual stitching:
I've just completed this prayer flag for my DS, David, who will be 30 next week. (I know, where did those years go?)

A parcel from George Weil arrived so I mordanted a lot of fabric in preparation for when the urge to dye strikes me, or when I find some wonderful potential dye material.  Exactly that happened earlier in the week when DD, Sara, gave me some eucalyptus prunings.  The mordanted cloth wasn't ready so I made silk bundles and steamed them, this is at the beginning, here's hoping…
I've also been on the computer for many hours this week but not reading blogs, nor writing posts, not even on Facebook or reading emails very much.  I'm trying to co-ordinate a "summit" for some of the members of my Global Piecers swap group.  It seems as if six of us, and our other halves, will be able to get together next Summer so, hopefully, there will be more on that later, we're hoping for a fest of sewing, eating, laughing, talking, exploring and shopping!

Whatever you do this weekend, I wish you a good one, and I hope next week goes a little more slowly!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

A Rainbow and a Beautiful Find

Today has been a beautiful day so I wandered around the garden and tried to make a rainbow:

This morning DH and I went for a mooch around our local town of Horncastle.  We haven't been there for a while and were delighted to find it seemed to be thriving, full of people, some new and interesting shops and today, being Saturday, there was also a market plus some craft stalls.  Horncastle is known for the many antique shops there and so we had a look in a few, not for anything in particular but just to see if anything caught our eye.  In a junk rather than antique shop my eye was caught by an unused preserving pan, ideal for dyeing as the aluminium will add a bit to the mordant and I won't mix my dyeing pans up with the cooking pans!  I also found a linen shirt/jacket that fitted nicely and was crying out to come home with me.  Al bought two cut glass whisky tumblers, made by Royal Doulton and a snip at £5.  Those times would have made it a successful mooch, plus the delicious lunch we had in the local Italian restaurant, but I also found this:

Sorry for the poor photograph, I was trying to avoid a reflection of me (and didn't succeed completely). 

It's a watercolour and dated '38, 1938 I assume, and was labelled as "Oriental Village Scene".  The bamboo forest in the background is so reminiscent of the land surrounding the farm in Fujino where I stayed with my Indigo Sisters on the Japanese Textile Study Tour and the detail in the painting is delightful.  I don't know where in the "Orient" the village is, neither did the seller obviously, nor do I mind.  It was a case of having to take it home (and it wasn't very expensive). The frame is rather lovely too, a bit of damage and it's rather grubby but that all adds to the charm in my opinion.  The painting is currently hanging in my sewing room, awaiting a more perfect spot but at least I can admire it where it is.
A little stitching now while DH cooks dinner (aren't I lucky?), I am making another prayer flag for another special birthday coming up.  I hope you're all having a lovely weekend too.

Friday, 11 July 2014

So True

This image was posted by Aurifil on Facebook today, I thought you might appreciate it for the weekend.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Dyed and Untied

My bundle unwrapped, rinsed out but not ironed and my gorgeous rainbow thread. 
Today I'm trying with these flowers, field and Californian poppies...

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Two Workshops

I wrote in my last post about the needle felting workshop I had enjoyed, here is the result of my homework. 
I felted the base using wool onto hessian during the workshop, with the aim of creating a "seascape" feel to my piece, and then got carried away with embellishment once I was home. 
As you can see I have added beads and buttons and done quite a lot of stitching. I backed the work with a piece of calico to give it a little more body but mainly to give it a smooth feel as I intended the piece to be a cuff. 
Here it is on, with the large buttons making the fastening with ribbon loops on the opposite end. I'm pleased with it and it is comfortable to wear although a little but of me thinks cuffs should come in pairs!

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of joining friends old and new at Fenland Textile Studios and doing a workshop with Angela about natural dyeing. I did a little "Eco Dyeing" in Japan with Nat and have had various attempts myself, some successful, like my rose petal dye, others less successful, it was time to get things right. 
The studio was more like a witches' coven meeting than a textile workshop, in fact more than one lady expressed the desire for a cauldron!  We brewed up a variety of natural materials: barks, leaves, flowers, gathered locally, and a few obtained from commercial suppliers.
We dyed with and without mordanting our cloth and thread and our washing line became a veritable rainbow, with labels!
Of course we had time for a tasty lunch, in the sunshine. 
During the afternoon we made further spells, which Angela referred to as bundles. Dyestuffs were wrapped around a large pebble
which was then tied up securely and the whole bundle was boiled up, with the water being changed each time it became difficult to see the bundles. The buttons are purely for identification!
My bundle is now sitting in a glass jar on the kitchen windowsill while I try very hard to resist opening it up for at least a few more days. All in all a great day, loads learned, super reference collection of samples (to be made into a book? quilt/wall hanging?), lots of tips and loads of laughs. Thanks everyone. 

Finally, today's photo of the local wildlife - these baby swallows in their nest. There are five squeezed in there!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Photos of Workshops and a BIG Birthday

Wow, what a busy time I've had recently.  No time to blog, no time to breathe but a great time had by all.  This catch-up post is photo-heavy (and you may have seen some of these if you are on Facebook with me) and, for some strange reason, features lots of pictures of Sam!!  Enjoy.

The poppies are blooming in all the fields around here, 
they are a glorious sight as well as a poignant reminder.
 Trudi Wood visited us at Country Roads Quilters last week to teach a workshop on Free Motion Quilting.  It was great fun and everybody learned something.  People who had done some FMQ before learned some complex-looking designs and people who were new to FMQ made excellent progress under Trudi's gentle and fun tuition.  Below is a sample piece of what we were working towards.  You can see Trudi's amazing quilting on her well named blog:  Quilting Prolifically
I had time to visit Sam who had just been surprised with a pirate ship for the garden.  Here we are aboard and I am, apparently a tour guide, Captain Sam is instructing me in my duties!
This weekend my beloved celebrated a big birthday (whisper it, 70).  Cue lots of food, family and friends and we were blessed with sunshine.
 Sam had his first taste of Prosecco!
Sam and I did some gardening while Al relaxed and chatted with guests, and then...
 Sam sang "Happy Birthday" to his Grandad!
 There was chocolate birthday cake,
 lots of presents and cards,
 and I made Al his own prayer flag in his favourite colour.
 Yesterday I joined friends for a workshop on needle felting at the Beach Hut Studio in Freiston.  We had a wonderful day, again in the sunshine, with good tuition from Debbie Mitchell (in the purple), wonderful food and fun and laughter all the way.
I got back yesterday afternoon to find my glorious "Niobe" clematis was flowering, a perfect end to a great few days.  Time to sleep now I think.  I'll share what I achieved in the workshop later.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Perfect Day

What a fabulous day I had yesterday.  With quilting friends I travelled to York, primarily for an evening with author, Tracy Chevalier, but there were many other highlights.  Being with friends was wonderful, the sun was shining, the car roof was open.  We drove over the Humber Bridge and the river and riversides looked beautiful.  If you don't know the region, this is saying something as the water is often muddy and brown, the area is often draped in grey cloud.  Yesterday it was bright, green, sparkling blue, amazing.  We had a relaxed journey to York, chatting, stopping for coffee, for lunch… and the arrived in York and our first stop was at the Quilt Museum.  Three current exhibitions were all interesting and all different.  Details can be found here:  no photography is permitted in the museum.  Then a little shopping in the museum shop (rude not to) and a sit and chat in the beautiful garden in front of St Anthony's Hall.

We then went in search of something to eat and a tapas bar nearby was recommended.  What a great meal and great service.  It turned out we were all "tapas virgins" but we are now "tapas addicts".  The waitress and then the chef even managed to cope with my dietary needs and still produce delicious food.  After our relaxed meal, and a lot more chatting, we took the short walk to Merchant Taylors' Hall and enjoyed canapés and sparkling wine in the sunshine, perfect.

The interior of the hall was also splendid and we looked at the quilts on display and settled into good seats for the lecture.

Tracy Chevalier, spoke to us about her life as an author and as a quilter.  Her recent book, The Last Runaway, lead to her involvement with the quilting world and she has curated an exhibition of quilts, Things We Do In Bed, which is currently on show in Danson House.  She was an interesting and enthusiastic speaker and we learned the similarities between the quilting and writing processes as well as enjoying a slide presentation of various historic quilts, comparing English Paper Piecing style, with Gees Bend and American red and white (and sometimes green) appliqué quilts.

After the lecture we decided a coffee would be a good idea before heading home and went into the Royal Oak, a 17th century inn nearby.  More chat, the coffee was good and then live music started.  A small group, Irish, or at least Irish-style, played in the adjoining bar, lulling us into staying for nearly an hour before deciding we really had to get home!

The final delight of the day, a full, bright moon guided us home.  As we crossed back over the Humber again the moon was reflected in the water, rippling out across the river.  Who would have thought the Humber could look romantic?

Thank you to my lovely friends, to the Quilters' Guild for organising a wonderful evening and to the sunshine.