Saturday, 31 May 2014

Pieced Tulips

Today I have finished another block for my reading quilt.  This one is Pieced Tulips and was the perfect choice for the book read last May, "Alice's Tulips" by Sandra Dallas.  
All the posts in Susan's blog for the Quilters' book club can be read here:

and there is a commentary by the author and further information here:

Tomorrow is a new month and a new book, why not click over to Starwood Quilter and join the fun?

Lovely Day Out

Yesterday I went to a local quilt show with friends but I can't show you any of the quilts!  There were notices posted around stating that photographs could only be taken for personal use and must not be published on any website……without prior permission of the show organisers.  How strange.  I can understand that the quilt artists' permission must be sought, but the show organisers?  They don't own the quilts, or the designs or anything.  Anyway, no photographs of quilts, and no free advertising on this blog for the quilt show organiser either, so there!  Instead, I will show you what I bought and tell you about the people I met, and about the quilts I admired.

Our first stop was at Images of Egypt (who can be contacted by email at and I bought these lovely batiks and a couple of bargain scrap-packs.  One contains a selection of hand dyed cottons and the other is full of glitzy bits.  I'm not sure what I shall do with them yet but am thinking that Christmas Prayer Flags might be fun things to create...

I am doing a workshop with Liz Hands at Country Roads Quilters in July and bought some fabric and threads for the project we'll be working on.  The Finca Number 12 Perle and bobbin fill was from lovely Laura at Little L's, the linen from Sunflower Fabrics (who stock a wonderful range of Liberty fabrics) and the other FQs were from Pippins Patchwork and Crafts who are quite local to me so I think it would be good to invite them to trade at one of our quilt group meetings.

Lunch was a great disappointment, with poor quality food, appalling coffee and service at the speed of a snail.  We agreed that next year a picnic might be in order, or a drive out to Unique Cottage Studios might be an even better plan.  To console ourselves, more shopping was in order!
House of Embroidery threads from the Out of Africa stand, it took ages to select these, I really wanted the whole range of colours!  Finally, more batiks, this time from Kaleidoscope.  I was a little niggled here as, like several other traders, fabrics were only offered in half metres rather than the traditional FQ.  The batiks were so gorgeous, however, that I wasn't about to cut my nose off to spite my face!

There seemed to be fewer quilts on display than when I visited this show last year, and I was less impressed with the range of styles, techniques and designs but I suppose the show organisers can only exhibit what we, the quilters, enter.  I was taken, however, with the work of Pauline Barnes.  I urge you to go to her website here: and look at her stunning work.  Some of the Mayan series were on display yesterday and they are worked in various threads and techniques on plain fabric.  She writes:
"Thread is a major element in my work with thread and stitch alone often providing the colour on plain fabric.  All my stitching is done by machine and I enjoy 'playing' to see how different fabrics, threads and stitches react."

We had a great time chatting to Marion Barnett.  Marion writes a blog here:
and has a studio in Norfolk called the Little Green Shed where I hope to go for a day of playing with textiles and techniques.

Returning home (after a detour to Unique Cottage Studios for a chocolate brownie and excellent coffee) I found the postman had delivered a parcel.  Sarah's Quilt is the book for June in the Quilters' Online Book Club and I ordered the sequel at the same time.  A lovely ending to a good day out.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

I've Got Mail

An exciting package arrived from Ichiroya in Japan. Proper photos of these three haori will follow. 
Keep warm and dry - where did the sunshine go?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Lover's Knot

When I joined Susan's Quilter's Online Book Club I was having a bit of a daft moment and forgot it is 2014!  I inadvertently bought the books for May, June and July 2013!!

No worries.  Having finished "These is my words", the book for May 2014 and made my block, "Cactus Star", (see yesterday's post), I decided I could read the books from this time last year.  

"The Lover's Knot", by Clare O'Donohue, is a quick read, what is known as a "cosy mystery", and this afternoon I have made the Lover's Knot block to go with the book.  Not quite a star block but it would have been silly to make a different block for a book of this title and subject!

Here are all the posts from Susan related to "The Lover's Knot", including a discussion with the author.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Cactus Star in Winter?

At the May meeting of Country Roads Quilters yesterday I made this block using the foundation piecing method to get those nice sharp points.
This is my first block as a member of the Quilters' Online Book Club run by Starwood Quilter.  
Each month we read the book selected for that month, discuss aspects of it online and then make a quilt block associated with the book.  All of which is optional!  

I think I started in an especially good month as the book we read was Nancy E. Turner's, "These Is My Words:  The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine".  The story is historical fiction but it is based on the life of the author's great-grandmother.  I was quite sad to have finished this book, I shall miss Sarah Prine and her family. The story of her life in late 19th century pioneer country gave me many insights into the reality of living in that time and place and an admiration for those who did. I desperately wanted to shake her at times but I never envied her the shoes she walked, ran and rode in. I laughed and cried with her.  I think a lot of readers must be feeling the same way as the sequel, "Sarah's  Quilt" has been selected for June's book.

My block is called Cactus Star.  It is a reminder of the Arizona desert and the sunsets and wild plants.  I have decided that each of my blocks for the book club will be done using batik fabrics (I have quite a few and it is never a hardship to buy more), and each will be a star of some sort, linked to the story read that month.

This morning I finished this lovely bag.  I bought a kit from Japan Crafts at Japan Day last Saturday and it was a quick and easy design for a spacious bag that will go over my shoulder or safely across my chest.  The pattern is called Fuyu (Winter) and it used four fat quarters of Japanese cotton.  I think I will be making a few more bags using the same pattern.

P.S.  I don't know why the font I use to write my posts is not always the one that appears when the post is published, or why, sometimes the post is in several different fonts.  If anyone can enlighten me I would appreciate it.  Thank you, Lis x

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Japan Day ~ Kimono World

Yesterday I had a wonderful day out in Northallerton!

Northallerton, and I had never been before, is a gem of a market town in Yorkshire.  The sun was shining as DH and I made an early start and headed up the A1.  Approximately 140 miles later and we arrived in Northallerton.  The purpose of our visit was to join Katie Chaplin for "Japan Day".  We had arrived in plenty of time so wandered into the town and found a wonderful deli/tea shop, called Lewis & Cooper, where we had coffee and some sustenance after our long journey.  Then back to The Forum for Japan Day.

Japan Day was a collaboration between Katie, of Japan Crafts, and Emiko Kajino, of Kimono World. The Forum was filled with a combination of like-minded Japanophiles and kimono-clad Japanese ladies.  There were a wonderful range of activities and displays of Japanese martial arts.
There was even Japanese food for lunch and sake available at the bar.  Alan and I both had a wonderful day and met some lovely, and interesting, people.

The members of Kimono World would be performing at the Forum in the evening and during Japan Day were involved in sharing their culture and skills.  We enjoyed a brief tea ceremony with two Tea School Grand Professors, learned about Japanese embroidery and beadwork with Jane Smith and about silk painting, calligraphy and temari balls.
With a lot of help and masses of concentration we folded our own paper cranes on the origami table,
and were shown how our names might be written in Hiragana, the basic Japanese phonetic script, and Katakana, a script mainly used for words imported from non-Japanese languages.
With help from the poet-in-residence, Judith Lesley Marshall, we were invited to write a contribution to the collection of Spring Haiku.  Inspired by the wonderful journey through the Yorkshire countryside that we had enjoyed I came up with this:

Haze of bright, soft green
unfurling, springing open,
clothing the hedgerows.

I was tempted into buy some fabric and a bag pattern from Katie's dad who was manning the Japan Crafts stall and I bought a secondhand copy of Clarence Hornung's "Traditional Japanese Stencil Designs" which is inspiring.
I was delighted by the opportunity to be dressed in kimono by lovely Eme Shiratsuchi who has been studying kimono dressing for six years.  I felt so elegant and the obi certainly made me stand up straight,  I added a pair of geta and then couldn't move.  Maybe with a lot more practice I will move elegantly too. 
Thank you to Katie, Emiko and everyone involved in making Japan Day such a great event.  I don't suppose you're reading this though, I imagine you're asleep or at least relaxing in the sunshine!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Blooming Marvellous

Yesterday morning these were tight buds, just showing a little colour and promise.  After a day of sunshine and temperatures reaching 21C here, look what greeted me this morning.
Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Flying the Flags

I am very excited as I have finished the prayer flags for the Global Piecers' swap.  The sun came out this afternoon and I was able to hang them in the garden before packaging them up and sending them flying off around the world.  I've used one of the photos as my new header!  I know I promised to share my progress with these pieces but I have been so inspired by them (and the weather has been so wet) that I have been sewing almost continuously since I started.

I'm obviously not going to say which flag is going to which lovely lady but they can have fun guessing.   Written on each flag are words summarising my prayers for each person.  Here's a close-up of one of the flags:
The prayer flags are all similar in style and make up.  In in my previous post  I explained that I wanted to use global fabrics for the Global Piecers.  In this flag you can see persimmon-dyed linen from my sensei in Japan, eco-dyed silk that I dyed in Japan (using materials collected at the foot of Fuji san), batik fabric from Africa and the zebra button was made in South Africa, there are small pieces of vintage kimono silk, some of the streamers are recycled sari silk from India and the lace is from Malta.  The flags are all hand stitched, except for one line of machine stitching to attach the streamers.

Slow stitching!  As I said above I have been stitching by hand,  hour after hour, day after day. These flags hold my prayers, in some cases my tears but I hope I avoided adding my blood.  My fingers are severely punctured.  I wish I could get on with a thimble but I can't and some of the fabrics, especially the batiks and the kimono silk felt as if I was sewing through concrete.  At one point the fat end of a sashiko needle, complete with perle thread, was embedded in my middle finger!  I got through seven needles.  I don't mind a bit.

I hope the ladies like their prayer flags, I have loved making them and I must add a big thank you to Angela Daymond.  It was during her slow stitch workshop a couple of weeks ago that I realised what we were doing with her was perfect for making the prayer flags, thanks Angela.  I'm now looking forward to receiving my prayer flags from around the world and hanging them in my garden, more photos will follow, and have just heard that one lady is planning to string her flags under her avocado tree!!  Wow, I'd love an avocado tree!  I do recall growing a stone, supported over water by cocktail sticks, many years ago.  It did shoot, grew about three inches and then died.  Maybe it's time to try again.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Prayer Flag Swap

What a lovely afternoon I have had after the rain eventually saved me from having to do anymore work in the garden.  The veggies are all in and have been getting a lovely soak while I've been playing in my sewing room.

The current Global Piecers swap is of prayer flags.  One of our members suggested the idea and a quick search on the internet provided loads of inspiration, including The Prayer Flag Project.  We were all enthused and keen to start being creative.  As well as our swaps we regularly exchange messages on our Yahoo group, several of us are on Facebook and some of us even see some members in real life!  We support and care for each other as well as stitch for one another and send chocolate.  The Prayer Flag swap seems especially appropriate.

I started by pulling out a pile of fabrics and possible embellishments.  I had a few criteria in mind:

a.  as many natural materials and natural dyes as possible, I feel these will be more in tune with the flags blowing outside and gently disintegrating.  I have cotton, linen, silk, dyed with indigo, woad, persimmon, daffodils, weld…

b.  fabrics from around the world, as the Global Piecers are around the world, I have textiles from the UK, Japan, Africa, Malta, India…

c.  the flags to be along the lines of boro cloth, lots of pieces joined together to make a new piece. 

My next step was to sort the fabrics into colour piles:
Then to cut a piece of backing cloth.  I'm using cotton muslin (from Dunelm, £3.49/m 137cm wide, thanks to Angela for this tip).  The agreed size for the flags is 9"x7" and there is a 1.5" hem at the top for threading the flags together.
Next I decided which colours suited which Global Piecer.  I wonder who is orange?
And who is blue with a flash of yellow and gold?
Do you think you might be receiving a purple prayer flag?
Lots of tearing and placing and pinning later and I have six prayer flags laid out.  I shall leave them overnight and see how they feel tomorrow.
Then I shall make any adjustments necessary and tack down all the pieces.  Then the fun really begins as, after a quick line of machining to attach the streamers to the bottom of each flag, I shall be slow stitching each flag which will give me plenty of time to think about the recipients.  Running stitches, couched threads, a few simple embroidery stitches, then the addition of some special words.  I will share as I progress but, of course, I can't reveal to whom each flag will belong!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Japanese Uchikake

visited Smallburgh St Peter where there is a display of wedding dresses and accessories over the May Day weekend.  I was initially attracted by the promise of seeing this wedding kimono but enjoyed the other items on display too. The pews have been removed from this church which leaves an open, inviting and useful space. 
I finished my slow stitch project from Angela's workshop. You will see I removed some of the pastel pieces of natural dye and added some darker woad, persimmon and also a piece of African fabric from Magie Relph.  I think this selection of colours is more "me". I have made a book cover for the visitors' book at the Bach and am very pleased with it. 
Enjoy the rest if the weekend and May the Fourth be with you :-)

Friday, 2 May 2014

Norfolk Open Studios Preview

This morning I visited The Atrium in North Walsham where there is a taster exhibition in advance of Norfolk Open Studios which take place 24th May - 8th June. There was a wide variety of work on display, there is a lot of arts and crafts talent in the area. Here are a few pieces that grabbed my attention. 

Two acrylic seascapes by Kevin Turton, both of Holkham beach. The texture was wonderful as I hope you can see in the two photos of detail below. 
A delicate jacket by Jill Hill with a beaded hem. 

A super drapey handwoven silk scarf by Jenny Rose.