Thursday, 30 September 2010

Hyper Japan

From the Transport for London newsletter today...

If you like sushi, manga or sake you’ll love Hyper Japan, the pop culture event that’s taking over the Old Truman Brewery this weekend. It celebrates the best contemporary food, drink and culture to come out of the Land of the Rising Sun, with plenty of chances to sample culinary delights and get involved in the planned activities. Watch the street fashion shows, take part in a manga drawing seminar or get yourself snapped wearing a kimono, or why not browse the many pop-up shops or food stalls. Entry is £5–8. Check the website for details and opening times. Enjoy!

Nearest tube station:  Liverpool Street

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Strange Day

It's a very strange day today.  The weather is awful and I can't seem to get going properly although I have done a little sewing.
Earlier, between downpours, I went for a walk in the garden and found this:
It's a Pasque Flower.  Since when has Easter been at the end of September?  Things are pretty confused, it's not just me!
This is the finished quilt top from Jane Bottamley's class using Snowball and Framed Square blocks.  I'm not sure why it looks as if it has a vertical seam down the middle, it hasn't, maybe it needs a better press.  Isn't it strange how you sometimes can't see things until you look at them in a photograph?
As well as finishing assembling these blocks I've done some Cloth to Cloth today.  I wove a base cloth:
and as the technique we're learning is called "Double Weave" each warp and weft strip was two layers of fabric.  The idea is that we can use delicate fabrics, which wouldn't be strong enough for simple weaving, within the cloth and then expose them.  You can see some chiffon and lace peeking out.  So the next step was to start cutting.
I still can't resist being in control - I've created a Snowball block within my cloth!  It was interesting to anchor weave into the weaving, I enjoyed that although it was fiddly.  I will need to decide how to fix it all down, at the moment I've just machined a grid but it doesn't look right.
I'm going to make a nice cup of tea and start reading "The Patchwork Quilt" by Rose Boucheron which I found on the mobile library yesterday and maybe the day will become more ordinary.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Woven Pomegranates

This is my latest piece of cloth weaving, very fiddly but I'm quite pleased with the concept and the way it's turned out for a first attempt.
I've been intending to explore pomegranates as a theme for some fabric work after being fascinated by the role they play in the traditions,culture and craft I experienced when I visited Jerusalem last year.  This seemed a good time to get started!  Watch out for more of these jewels of a fruit.

Second Sashiko Tutorial

Susan Fletcher's new sashiko project, Dragonfly in Blowing Grasses, starts today, hopefully you have received your instructions by email newsletter and have all your supplies ready.  If you just want the pattern you can buy it as a downloadable PDF from the website. 
I'm off to transfer the design to the interfacing.  I'm hoping to find something just the right size for drawing all those semi-circles rather than tracing them freehand.  Then I'll share what I've done.  Have fun.

Monday, 27 September 2010

My Furoshiki Bag

I don't know why it's taken me so long but I finally got around to making my furoshiki bag today. 
I worked from this video
and it took me only a few moments to create this lovely bag from a metre of fabric.

Pairing Up Workshop and More Cloth to Cloth

I recently enjoyed a workshop at Sew Creative (Wroxham Barns, Norfolk), called "Pairing Up" and tutored by Jane Bottamley. 
The idea was to create secondary patterns by using two patchwork blocks combined and paying attention to the colours and values used.  Jane brought some samples along, plus handouts for all the combinations she shared with us.
This was the design I had expected to do, Sawtooth Star and Churn Dash blocks.  I decided against it as it was the one with the smallest blocks and most pieces and I wasn't exactly running on full power!
I liked the simplicity of this combination of  Hourglass and Framed Four Patch.
The design I settled on was this pairing of Snowball and Framed Square.  I think I may well have been influenced by the colour combination Jane had used and the oriental look of the trellis-style secondary pattern.  I can certainly see myself doing this design using some of my Japanese fabrics.
As well as the handouts Jane had prepared samples to show how each block was constructed (and shared some good tips with us too).  She also gave us "blank" designs which we coloured in to develop our patterns.  Don't you just love it when a tutor is good?

Snowball block - without bias seams :)
Framed Square - without set in seams :)
Here's a close up of Jane's sample so you can see the details of the two blocks.
I worked much more slowly than usual as the workshop was my first "outing" after my stay in hospital but I managed to complete two rows of five blocks.  I've done some more at home and I'll share the finished project as soon as possible. 
I'm also working on Jude's Cloth to Cloth online workshop.  Today I've done some shaped weaving which has been interesting.  All samples, nothing finished but here's one piece (only pinned and tacked), I'm not sure where it's leading yet.
And this checkerboard style piece is destined to become a fabric postcard.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

English Sericulture

Shibori Girl has been discussing the beginning of sericulture and I was reminded of a childhood visit to the Roman villa at Lullingstone in Kent and that there was some link with our own silk industry in England.  Thank goodness for Google!

Lullingstone Silk Farm was established by Lady Zoe Hart Dyke, Tom Hart Dyke's paternal grandmother, in the early 1930s and was the country's first such farm. She began the enterprise at Lullingstone Castle, later moving to Ayot St. Lawrence in Hertfordshire in 1956, and was credited with reviving the 'art of sericulture' in the UK. The silk produced at Lullingstone Silk Farm was used in Queen Elizabeth's (the late Queen Mother) coronation robes in 1937, for the current Queen's wedding dress in 1947 and for the robes in her susbequent coronation in 1953.

Another Yummy Giveaway

There are lots of giveaways in Blogland but this one, which Debbie shared, is extra special.  Sarah Fielke was one half of the Material Obsession girls in Sydney, Australia, until recently, if you've seen her books and designs you'll be over to her blog already...  Sarah's having a lovely giveaway (until 30 September) of very yummy From Little Things fabric.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Giveaway Alert

Georgie (my quilting friend and neighbour) is having a clear out and a series of giveaways on her blog, All Things Crafty.  Please go over and support her (she's a newish blogger), see what exciting projects she's got on the go at the moment and you might be lucky too.  The first giveaway is a lovely book about spinning:

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Starting the Cloth to Cloth Workshop

I want to share what I've been doing in the Cloth to Cloth workshop with Jude Hill which started this week.  We have a private blog for the class but you can get an idea of the exciting and innovative work Jude does by looking at her Spirit Cloth blog.
I read through all the class notes and the first lesson in bed last night and watched the videos again.  Then I tried to sleep.  Even though I was feeling shattered my brain was full of ideas and plans for cloth weaving.  I suppose it would have been a good idea to get up, get wrapped in a cosy dressing gown and do a little bit of cloth-making (I could have included it in my Friday Night Sew-In) but as it was dark and cold I really thought trying to sleep was my best option!
Anyway, this morning I made a start.  I have to say this is way, way, way out of my comfort zone.  Jude is encouraging us to recycle fabrics, to tear and rip, to leave gaps, to mix fabric types, weights and styles.  It's almost too much for my controlling brain.
I rummaged in my scraps basket and decided to start with some pieces leftover from a jellyroll.  These are all cotton, colour-coordinated and therefore not too challenging and a good way to get to grips with the cloth weaving technique.  This is what I did:
The weaving is pinned on a base of muslin and I'm now thinking about stitching and embellishing and particularly using all those little frames the weaving has created.
I then decided I was up to a bit of ripping!  I would make a very small cloth, with some real scraps.  The first piece I ripped stretched and twisted.  What did I do?  I ironed it!  Oh for goodness sake Lis!  I have a few frayed edges in this little piece and after pinning it I enjoyed stitching in in a fairly random way.  Again I want to add to those little frames.  I'm not sure about the places where I have longer frames with the same fabric in the warp and weft, they'll be an extra element to the finished cloth.
In the spirit of recycling DH has sorted me out some of his old shirts.  I had asked for them because Jude suggested they are good for backing fabric, being used and soft.  I'm thinking I will use them to weave.  I have a mixture of fabrics, including cotton and silk but a limited colour palette (the colours Al likes of course) and I'm imagining a treasure box of a collection from the beach in all those greys, blues and turquoises.  Shells, seaweed, feathers and foam, waves and wind blowing though the woven cloth.  Oh, I feel all poetic! I'll see what occurs after I've had a lie down in a darkened room, this can't be happening to me.

Eye Candy

There are some absolutely fabulous textiles on this site which Glennis posted about on Facebook:


UROBORO (also spelled OUROBOROS,etc…) represents a serpent or a dragon biting its own tail and forming a circle. It appeared in almost all ancient cultures and had been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations, and was used to symbolise concepts such as completion, totality and perfection. It can be also seen as a circular never ending process where end meets start. This cyclic motion is typically encountered when collecting antiques. It is a coming and going of objects from the past, situations re-presented, vibrations of déjà vu. Every time such objects changes proprietary, the cycle starts again.
Sit back and enjoy them.  Fortunately all the ones I really love are already sold, phew!!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Friday Night Sew-In Report, September

Well, I've had a Friday Afternoon Sew-In or I suppose I've had a Friday Night Sew-In with anybody who's in Russia, China or Asia.  Please leave me a comment if you are, it would be lovely to know who I was sewing with. 
I wasn't sure I'd make this one and so am feeling very pleased with what I've achieved.  It was good that I had prepared a lot of this project before I got taken ill.
I got very comfortable, in bed, propped with lots of pillows, my bed covered by all my sewing things and some yummy food and drink on the bedside cabinet and then I got going with some fabric postcards.  These are for the current BQLPC swap.
The sashiko stitching was very therapeutic to do, as ever, (although my stitches are not as neat as usual) and cutting out the maple leaves from gorgeously textured and dyed vintage kimono fabric was a delight.  I had to drag myself to the iron to assemble the cards and then, after a nap, it was back to the hand stitching to add the beads and embroidered leaf veins.  I managed to sit at my machine to do the edges and am now feeling very shattered and waiting for my beloved to return from the shop with fish and chips for dinner before I sink into a deep slumber.
Anyone in the BQLPC group will notice that in my enthusiasm to be sewing again I even managed to make too many postcards!  Maybe I'll have to have a little giveaway soon, watch this space.
Thanks for hosting Heidi and here's hoping that while I'm sleeping everybody else will be having a great FNSI - I look forward to reading your reports tomorrow.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Bonnet News

There was an interview with Christina Henri, who is currently in Ireland, and a feature about her "Roses from the Heart" bonnet project on Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4 this morning.  You can listen to it by going to the BBC i-player site, the interview starts about 24 minutes through the programme.

Thank you for all your wonderful messages, I feel so cared for.  I have done a little sashiko on a set of postcards for BQLPC's next swap today and read Jude Hill's introductory post - the Cloth to Cloth 2 workshop I have joined starts tomorrow.  Time to rest again now while my beloved cooks up a healthy meal (why isn't hospital food healthy?)

"A wise man climbs Fuji-san once in his life; only a fool climbs it twice"

The Telegraph newspaper had an interesting article about Climbing Mount Fuji in the Travel section this weekend. 
Over at their website there are also lots of links to related articles that I enjoyed reading and thought you might too, here are a few of my favourites: 
The Gardens of Japan-earthly paradise
Mount Fuji hotsprings - An Englishman naked in Japan
Kyoto - Zen and the art of Japanese gardens
Tokyo - My kind of town
I'm having to get lots of rest in bed after my recent episode in hospital and it's giving me plenty of time to plan and dream about my next trip to Japan!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Hugs Please

I don't usually mention my health (or lack of it) in this blog, preferring to be positive and focus on what I can do but I've just had a few days in hospital and could do with a bit of sympathy please as I'm feeling sorry for myself.
I have Crohn's disease (and also ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia) and in the early hours of last Wednesday had a sudden flare up which resulted in a massive bleed, a collapse on the bathroom floor, mega panic for my beloved when he couldn't find my pulse or wake me up and then a trip in the ambulance with the blues and twos going and a long time in resus - it would have been very exciting if I'd felt up to it!  After the surgeons deciding not to remove my colon I finally got home last night full of extra blood (thank you that donor) and lots of steroids and am taking things very easy. 
Annoyingly that means I'm not even sewing.  I had my storm at sea miniature quilt in hospital, thinking of all that time I'd have to work on it between obs and jabs, but couldn't apply myself to a single stitch.  I did have a notebook with me and have managed a few ideas in that but nothing more. 
Today I have spent a little while trying to catch up with emails and blogs while resting for most of the time but please accept my apologies if I don't get back to you as quickly as usual.

Dragonfly In Blowing Grasses - Sashiko Tutorial 2

Sue at Alderspring Design  is about ready for the second sashiko online workshop (or to repeat the first one if you are one of the people who had to wait a long time for your supplies).  She is also offering a sashiko embellished felt bag workshop which looks lovely.  You will need to make sure you are getting the newsletters and then you can sew along and create another lovely dragonfly:

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Roses from the Heart

Many people were moved by Christina Henri's Roses from the Heart project when they saw approximately 10 000 bonnets exhibited at Festival of Quilts and appreciated that each one represented a female convict transported to Van Diemen's Land.  Those with black ribbons were for the women and children who didn't survive the journey.
Christina has taken on a massive piece of conceptual art and will eventually have 25 566 bonnets permanently installed in Tasmania.  This transportation of convict women was a massive story in our history and by being part of this project we can be an important part of the memorial to them.  There's plenty more information on Christina's website and here she is with some of the bonnets at FoQ.
I have been allocated a convict to make a bonnet, she was Catherine Shields and I've been getting to know her this week as I've stitched her bonnet.  I've been away from internet access in deepest Norfolk for a week or so and it's been an opportunity to stitch and reflect which I've appreciated enormously.

Catherine Shields was born in Liverpool, England.  Her mother's name was also Catherine and she had a sister, Marianne.
Catherine was a 23 year old housemaid when she was tried in Liverpool Quarter Session on the 22 July 1850 and sentenced to 10 years for stealing £2. 0s. 10d  from a person unknown
She was 5 ft and 3/4 inches tall. 
She was a Roman Catholic who could both read and write. 
Catherine Shields was transported on the ship "Anna Maria", sailing from Gravesend, London on 7 October 1851. It was the second voyage for this ship carrying convict women . 
Catherine went to Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) arriving in Hobart on the 26 January 1852.

Catherine was single when she was transported and later married John Allen in Van Diemens Land.
Here is her bonnet.  
On one side is her name, on the other the date and the name of the ship in which she was transported.

I've been hoping while I sew that Catherine had a good life with John Allen and received this email from Robyn Murray from near Perth in Australia who I met at Festival of Quilts on the Roses from the Heart stand.

Further to your email and you wondering about Catherine. I am thinking maybe she had a better life. I see they allowed her to marry the same year the ship came out , so I suggest she must have been a model convict and done all the right things , so to speak. They had to apply to the Governor to marry and sometimes that was rejected. The Colony at the time thought marriage was good and saw it as a better form of rehabilitation than keeping the girls in the Female Factory. Also remember transportation for female convicts ceased in 1853, so Catherine was there at the finish. Male transportation didn't finish till 1863 I think.
If you go to the site of the Female Factory at you can find more information. Also google her ship and the year 1852 and you will find out what conditions were like on her ship.

I found the ship surgeon's report on the internet, wonderfully insightful to read.  I was surprised (and pleased) that "only" four girls died on that voyage in the Anna Maria. 
I've been trying to find Catherine on the UK censuses before she was transported (1841 and 1851) but am going to have to look deeper - she's not obviously in Liverpool with her mother but there is a possibility that she's away at school...will research more.  
Since finishing Catherine's bonnet I have had an email from Christina who has allocated me another convict lass, the wonderfully appropriately-named Ann Elizabeth Harwood, I wonder if she is a relative of mine?  She was transported from London on the 22 May 1820 aboard the ship the Morley, arriving in Van Diemen's Land 29 August 1820.  I'll be trying to find out more and starting her bonnet later this week.
You can keep up with Christina Henri and this project on her blog.  She is currently in Ireland, returning the Irish lasses to their homeland.

Of course I couldn't resist trying Catherine's bonnet on:
There was a detailed article about the Roses from the Heart project in British Patchwork and Quilting magazine which can be downloaded here:  Patchwork & Quilting Magazine article (pdf file)