Monday, 28 December 2009

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Secret Santa's Delights

These are the lovelt Secret Santa gifts I got from my pals on BQL. We could sign up to make something, to buy something or both!  I did both!  The scissor spot is amazingly strong, it will hold a large pair of scissors in place on the machine.  The gifts were wrapped in the tartan fabric which I've put in my Christmas box ready for next year's festive projects!  I sent some Australian design fabrics as my bought gift and as my made gift a sashiko pincushion.

The made gift that I received (and I do hope to find out who from so that I can thank them properly) was this gorgeous notebook and needlecase, plus a beautiful handmade Christmas card.  The front of the notebook cover has a hearts design

and the back has a cat design

and there is a gorgeous beaded bookmark inside

I shall be using this notebook when I attend workshops and exhibitions and I will (eventually) try to have a go at the technique Secret Santa used on the cover - is it called "faux chenille"? I love it - I  remember seeing a gorgeous bag made with the same technique.  Thank you to my Secret Santas, I hope you had a lovely Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The First Christmas

I have just got home from a delightful Christmas lunch with my SiL and his family and found the postman had left a parcel from South Dakota containing the final three of the Global Piecers' Christmas swap blocks and some other festive goodies.  Aren't they gorgeous?  Tomorrow will be spent making a Christmas wallhanging (probably).

We are still enjoying freezing temperatures, no more snow today but a great frost and freezing fog too.  My grandson, Wills, is keeping this icicle in the freezer so that he can see it in the summer.  He enjoyed his presents, particularly a book of dinosaurs which was a great hit.  He did extremely well with his present giving too -
I got this book and a massive box of Thorntons' chocolates, boy am I a happy Nanny!!  I also had another great piece of post, this time from New Zealand.  It was notification from the Timaru mini-symposium that I have got my first choice of workshop there in April, yeah baby, I'll be doing a miniature foundation-pieced Storm at Sea quilt with Meryl Caudwell. Finally for today, here's a shot of me with my first bowlful of Christmas pudding, complete with brandy butter and a sparkler, excellent.
Oh and a friend had left a brace of pheasant hanging on the front door handle - no photo in case some of my dear readers are vegetarian or of nervous disposition but that will be another little task for tomorrow!
Have a very Happy Christmas.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Ice Inside

This is my "arty shot" of the ice on the inside of our bathroom window this morning - I really must persuade my beloved Scrooge to put another log on the fire!  Minus 7 C here in the Fens but the sun is shining so everything looks gorgeous.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Let It Snow

This was the view from the main road as we tried to make our way into town this morning.  Hearing on the radio that a lorry had overturned, blocking the bridge, we decided to turn around and spend the day at home in front of the fire!

Back in our garden I took this photo for my blogging/quilting friends in New Zealand - it can't be that often that you see a flax plant festooned in snow.

Silk Samples

This is the lovely little kimono silk sample card I received from Kimono Flea Market:

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A Christmas Party and an Exciting Parcel

These are my lovely friends (and Father Christmas) at our Crafty Time Out Christmas party this morning.  We stitched until about 11.00 a.m. (and I finished my "Life's Journey" holdall pictured below) and then we put the needles away and hit the chocolate cake.  Crafts and cake are such a lovely combination.

This is the holdall I finished which will hopefully be my carry-on bag for our forthcoming trip to Australasia.  It's pieced with a bargain selection of fabrics all with a retro-travel theme and is the first bag I've made.  The pattern was from Blue Willow Cottage based in Australia, which seems appropriate.

Returning home I found the lovely postman waiting with a parcel for me to sign for, all the way from Japan.  Please pop over to my sashiko blog to see what was inside and while you're surfing around please go and see the lovely work in Natalia's Show n' Tell.

Exciting Delivery from Japan

This is what arrived for me this morning, it looks exciting doesn't it?  I placed an order with Ichiro and Yuka Wada at Kimono Flea Market in Osaka, Japan a little while ago and my goodies arrived today.  Ichiro and Yuka deal in used and vintage Japanese clothing.  Just looking at their website is a fascinating experience, they add new items to their lists daily and these include kimono, obi (belts), haori (jackets), michiyuki (coats) and even jyuban (undies).  There are also wonderful bolts of kimono fabrics and samples for sale.  Prices vary from about $20 (US) to thousands of dollars for museum quality items.  Every item is photographed in detail and all areas of staining or wear are clearly highlighted.

I was very pleased with the service I received - the day after completing my order I saw another item I fancied and put an order in for it.  I immediately received an email from Yuka asking whether I wanted to combine the two orders, thereby saving on postage costs.  The items arrived well packed in tissue, and included a little sampler pack of the various fabrics used for kimono.  I will certainly be using Kimono Flea Market again.  My original thought was that if the items were disappointing  at least I'd have an amount of silk that I could cut up and use in quilting projects.  In fact they are even better than they appeared on the website and I will be wearing the haori and expecting a lot of appreciative comments.

So, this is what I bought.  Firstly, length of silk dyed in the traditional shibori method, listed as

Exotic Shibori Seigaiha Pattern Vintage Kimono Fabric


This is a fabric of a kimono from pre WWII. It has exotic 'seigaiha'(wave) pattern, which is dyed with shibori technique.
Textile is rinzu silk and has soft touch.
There are some flaws as in the photos. 

The fabric measures 35cm x 125cm and here's a close up of the design:

I also bought two haori - jackets.  This is the first which is silk and very soft, it was $18 and its condition described as "very good".

Here's a close up of the lovely fabric and you can see the colours more clearly:

and here's a close up of the front and the fastening and you can see the interesting lining:

The second haori, is in gorgeous autumnal colours and was listed as:

Contemporary Haori Charming Dyed Pattern
Item No
quite new

This is a contemporary haori and has charming dyed pattern. Textile is exquisite silk, and has very soft touch.
It is in excellent condition.

Here's a close up of the fabric:

And as an extra bonus the thank you slip in with the parcel had been personalised, so here's my name in Japanese:

Friday, 11 December 2009

Would you like a handmade surprise?

This sounds like fun!! I'm playing along with Catherine at the Sewing Attic Won't you come and Pay It Forward with me?

1. I will make a little something for the first three people who comment on this post. It will be a surprise and it will arrive on your doorstep when you least expect it!
2. I will have 365 days to do it in.
What's the catch? To get a handmade prezzie from me, you have to play too.
1. You must have a blog.
2. BEFORE you comment here, you must post about your Pay It Forward on your blog to keep the fun going, and display the Pay It Forward button.
3.  THEN come back here to let me know you've posted and to give me the link to your blog.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Jellyroll Christmas Quilt

I have finished my Christmas Quilt today, although with the rotten cold I have there is a sniff rather than the more usual love in each stitch!  It was a straightforward pattern from a Fabric Freedom "Spirit of Christmas" jellyroll that I bought at Harrogate in September.  There was a good range of fabrics in the jellyroll, I omitted the ones that had too much blue in and also left out a couple of black with silver strips that I didn't think went with my design.

Each block was made up of three full length strips stitched together, trimmed to size and then topped or bottomed with a strip in gold and creams fabrics.

I arranged the blocks so I was happy with them, added a narrow gold border, a pieced 2" border made with the remaining strips and finally a wider gold border.  The binding is made with the leftover bits from the original piecing of three long strips.  No waste!

I handquilted the central area with a holly leaf design which doesn't show up very well on the patterned fabrics - you can actually see it more clearly on the back (but I have a few tucks so I'm not showing you that!)  I used one of my machine stitches, a pretty star to quilt the narrow gold border.  I've joined in with  SewCalGirl  who is having a virtual Christmas quilt show so do go over there and have a look at some great Christmas projects.  I hope you like it and "Happy Christmas" to all my readers and fellow quilting bloggers.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Travels Down Under and Around the UK with Vikki Pignatelli

There is a great article by Vikki Pignatelli on Subversive Stitchers today - click on the link to read about Vikki's trip to wonderful New Zealand (and some other adventures) and some of the inspiring things she saw. It's really excited me for our forthcoming trip in 2010 and, spookily, the class photographed is in Pukekohe which is where Al's brother lives and where we'll be based! Maybe I'll meet some of those ladies in the LQS, The Old Sew and Sew, King Street, Pukekohe.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Christmas is Coming

This is my Christmas Wreath which I finished this afternoon and have just hung on my front door.  It's the first day of Advent tomorrow so we will start burning the Advent candle, a little every evening until Christmas Eve.  I received my first Christmas card this morning, along with a lovely festive block from Katrina in NZ.

The wreath was quite straightforward:  English paper-piecing, six diamonds to make a star, backed with another star and stuffed.  Then my beloved made a wire frame for me to sew the stars on, with vintage buttons in the centres, little swags of beads, I added a bow and the Father Christmas figure and that's it, done.  I hope you like it.  I notice a lot of bloggers are posting pictures of their decorations and Christmas trees.  I haven't got as far as putting the tree up yet, maybe next weekend.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Eye Candy and More

A lovely new book arrived with the postman this morning and so my day is sorted out - do the chores and then settle in front of the fire to enjoy Kitty Pippen's "Quilting with Japanese Fabrics".  The book has lots of photos of Kitty's wonderful work, plenty of background, patterns and templates and is going to be such an inspiration.  Her work is what I am hoping to achieve - a combination of traditional fabrics, techniques and stitchery, with a modern, and possibly more Western, overall design.  I want to use sashiko stitching with oriental fabrics, indigo and taupe with scarlet....

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Christmas Decoration Tutorial

I often pop one of these Christmas decorations in with cards to people I know will like them and they're quick and easy to make for craft sales too.  Several friends have asked me how to make them so here goes with my second tutorial (the first one was on wavy seams).

You need to make an equilateral triangle template first - that's the one with equal sides and equal angles if I can just take you back to school maths lessons!  I make the sides 6" this includes a 1/4" seam allowance.

Cut out two triangles in different Christmas fabrics and stitch them right sides together, leaving a short gap.

Turn the right sides to the outside, slip stitch the gap closed and then press the whole piece.

Now the fun bit:

Take the three points of the triangle to the middle (or thereabouts, so it looks even) and put a few stitches in to hold the points in place.

Now turn the decoration over and take the centre of each edge of the triangle to the middle (or thereabouts) and stitch them in place.

Press so that the folded points are open and even.

Add a bead or sequin to the middle on each side of the decoration and sew a ribbon loop to one point.

Hang your decoration on your tree, cupboard knobs, cabinet key.... and admire.

Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Who's a lucky girl?

When I got home this afternoon I found a parcel behind the green bin (thank you postman for not making me fetch it from the sorting office). What a lovely surprise when I opened it and found this Amy Butler pattern and all this lovely material. I won the prize, sponsored by Doughty's, in the October Giveaways in British Patchwork & Quilting magazine, aren't I a lucky girl?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Christmas Block Swap

I've finished my foundation-pieced blocks for the Christmas Block Swap that developed from my pairing with Sal in the Great Global Christmas Swap.  There are now six of us, three in USA, one in New Zealand, Sal in Australia and me in England.  We're trying to think up a name for ourselves... Never having done a block swap before I'm worrying about the quality of my work and I managed to misunderstand the measurements and had to add a sashing strip, hope there are no Quiltzillas around!  It was great fun and that's the main thing.  When the blocks arrive here I'll decide how I'm going to join then and what I'll make and post a picture.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Last Cuddle Quilt

This is this month's challenge with British Quilt List.  I decided to handquilt it and give it to Norfolk Quilters for their Last Cuddle Quilt project and every stitch contains a prayer.  When I read about this project I cried but if anything I can do can help parents in that awful situation to feel a bit better later on then I want to do it.  I made the challenge in blue for a boy with the project in mind, thinking that more people might choose traditionally girlie colours.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Shopping Guide

An online guide to shopping in Tokyo has been written by "Asking for Trouble" and is one I am going to print out and read at leisure and probably take with me :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Hari-kuyo and Respect for Selvedges

I have found out some wonderful cultural traditions related to sewing in Japan.
The first relates to making kimono and is known as  "respect for the selvedges".  No material is cut away when making garments, the lengths of fabric are therefore kept intact and the item can more easily be remade for another person.
If any tacking is needed when making a garment it will be left in place in the finished item - if it is needed to make the garment it must be a valuable part of the garment. 
When kimono are laundered they are taken apart.  When clean they are remade, using the same thread through the same holes. 
Finally, I have just read about Hari-kuyo.  This is a festival which takes place in at shrines in Japan on
8th February annually and translates as the "festival of broken needles".  Women would take a break from their daily work to show their gratitude and respect to old, broken and rusty needles, usually by putting them to rest in a bed of tofu.  Ladies are also able to "bury" their secrets with their needles.  Some photographs and more details can be found here and here.

Japan Folk Crafts Museum

Some of the examples of sashiko we saw in York last week were from the Japan Mingekan -  Folk Craft Museum in Tokyo so that is going on my list of places to visit.  The website (where this photograph and the following details are taken from) has some fantastic textiles in its gallery photographs.  The museum is at
  • 4-3-33 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 153-0041
  • TEL: 03-3467-4527
    Take the Inokashira Line from Shibuya Station (make sure not to get on an express) and get off at the second stop, Komaba-Todaimae Station. Walk out of the station and under the tracks and turn left. Follow that road until it curves to the right, about a seven-minute walk. The Mingeikan will be on your right.

    Inside the main Museum is the Museum Shop, where visitors can purchase a wide variety of mingei products.

Monday, 2 November 2009

A Quilty Gift

This sashiko kit was in my post this morning, sent to me by lovely Roslyn Atwood who read about my interest in sashiko in this blog and had this little kit which she said she would not now make and would I like it?  Aren't quilters the loveliest people?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Quilty Day Out in York

I have posted a short post about the wonderful sashiko exhibition I visited in York on my new blog: lisisturningjapanese

I also took the opportunity of a day in York to visit the Quilt Museum which is on Aldwark in the stunning  medieval guildhall of St Anthony and now enjoys the benefit of a lovely deli opposite and a beautifully developed courtyard garden.  Admission to the museum for Quilters' Guild members is £3.

The current exhibition (until 23 December 2009) is on Turkey Red Dye and there is also a smaller exhibition of contemporary work from Edge - Textile Artists of Scotland.  The development of the red dye, from madder, made it possible to create quilts in red and white - as the red dye was colourfast and the whole lot wasn't at risk of ending up pink!  The dye was big business in Scotland with the Dalmonach factory running 28 print machines in 1898, producing 25 million yards of fabric in addition to one million tons of dyed yarn per year.  Designs included paisleys, florals and peacocks and were often gold and dark green on red.  The Turkey red dye was most often used for everyday items - tablecloths and household linens, underwear and swimming costumes, shawls, coverlets, bandanas and kerchiefs and also for workers' clothing on the plantations of the West Indies.  There were two quilted petticoats on display, which were warm and also supported the skirts of the day with their dome shape.

A great day out, completed with a little retail therapy at The Viking Loom on High Petergate which caters for many crafts, including a great selection for beaders.

Japanese Sashiko Textiles at York Art Gallery

There is a fantastic exhibition, curated by Michele Walker, of Japanese Sashiko at the Art Gallery in York until January 2010 and I visited last week and cannot commend it to you enough.  Al came with me and he too was fascinated by the textiles and the sashiko process and particularly that the garments were "real" - fishermen's jackets, fireman's clothes, coats made at home, worn, repaired and valued.  Photography was not allowed but a pdf copy of  the detailed information on display with the items can be downloaded  here and the exhibits seen online here .  There is also an article, "Function and Beauty of Kogin" by the curator of the International Christian University Hachiro Yuasa Memorial Museum, Reiko Hara.  At  you can find details of where the exhibition will move to after it leaves York in January. Admission to the York Art Gallery is free and there is a lovely cafe in the foyer where we enjoyed pumpkin soup!

Jacquie Harvey Workshop

I attended a workshop at Dayspring Quilters on Friday with tutor Jacquie Harvey who has done some wonderful work and won lots of prizes.  It was a bit of a coup to get her as she isn't tutoring anymore (she's writing a book with an Australian publisher) but as she lives in Norfolk she was more than happy to come to us and she was a very generous tutor - the kind who gives out her phone number and says "contact me if you need help once you are doing this on your own".  She does wholecloth, handquilting, in colour and brought lots of examples with her including some amazing miniature quilts and a gorgeous quiltlet that she gave to the Norfolk Quilters' "Last Cuddle" quilt project (for stillborn babies).  She uses an embroidery needle rather than a quilting needle, does tiny running and backstitches and uses stranded embroidery threads, King Tut variegated thread and Mettler polysheen.  She uses wax crayons to add colour - ordinary ones, not the special fabric ones - she colours the fabric, covers it with greaseproof paper and irons it with a burst of steam!!  I didn't get my sample piece finished (so no photo) but did pick up some great tips for handquilting.  As Jacquie said, her workshop ought to come at the end of every other workshop, it's the bit usually covered in three little words, "quilt as desired".

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Bearing Gifts

And this is what the lovely postman brought me today (while I was having a great time in York at the Sashiko Exhibition and then at the Quilt Museum, more of that later)......  It's my prize from Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival which I received from Natalia Bonner at Piece N Quilt in Utah.  Isn't it gorgeous?  It's Moda's new "Birdie" range.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Quilty Gifts

This is what the postman brought me this morning (and no tax to pay!) - a wonderful parcel of quilting goodies from my Great Global Christmas Swap partner, Sal, who lives in Australia and has just been on a quilting trip to South Dakota (to meet up with her swap partner from last year).  The red batiks are wonderful and truly scary - I have challenged myself to use red - and the magazines are full of lots of exciting projects so I've set aside this evening for a good read.  What lovely people quilters are, I am so pleased Fiona Marie teamed me up with Sal.
More excitement is on the cards for tomorrow - a trip to York to visit the Quilt Museum and also the Art Gallery where there is an exhibition of sashiko textiles.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Sick Quilt

I finished William's (age 5) farmyard quilt today (fastest ever start to finish project) and backed it with fleece so it's lovely and cosy for when he's using it.  I suggested he might like it when he's tired and watching television or when he comes in from riding his bike and is chilly and he said it would be great when he's poorly so from now it's known as the "sick quilt" - I'm not offended!!  I'm not sure if the wavy seams would make him feel worse rather than better though!

Cotton Cocktails Giveaway

 You could win one of these!

Quilthaze is having this lovely giveaway to celebrate just over 3 months since she started blogging regularly.  Get over to Cotton Cocktails for a chance to win one of these lovely gift bags.