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!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Remember Me?

Oh dear, I have not written a blog post for absolutely ages.  Thank you my dear followers who have enquired after me in my absence from blog world, I appreciate your concern and care.  Nothing too dramatic has been happening, compared with earlier this year anyway, normal life has just got in the way.  

I am behind with my journal quilts, October's is designed but not made, November's is forming slowly in my brain.  I also have two swaps to make for Global Piecer friends before the end of the month. I have, however, achieved some finishes.

The boro table runner is nearly complete, I have added a koi in kantha that just needs some detail and then I'll share it with you.  Last week was a mega stitching fest with the Christmas meeting of Country Roads Quilters where, between us, we made fifty Bags for Beads of Courage, followed by a two day workshop with Helen Howes working on trees and tigers.  I have just finished off my wall hanging from the workshop and called it "Indigo Winter Woods".
You can see Helen's work on her website, but here's a taster.
And, while I'm uploading photographs, here are all those bags we made at Country Roads Quilters.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Indigo Heaven

Over the past few days I have had plenty of time to stitch and I have been working on a boro style table runner.
I gathered a selection of indigo and woad dyed pieces of fabric, including new and vintage, dyed by me and by others and the lovely kantha designs on woad dyed fabric from Angela Daymond.
I also bought this lovely book to enjoy when my fingers got sore from stitching.  Some of those fabrics are pretty tough.
The backing of the runner is a lightweight yukata fabric bought in Japan and the "wadding" is simple cotton.
This is half of the runner.  I am stitching as the mood takes me or the fabric directs me, using an Italian 100% cotton perlĂ© thread that I found in a charity shop.  Often I find I have stitched in a similar way to the shibori stitching that would have been used to create the dye resist patterns.
And on the blue and white theme, I found this beautiful feather from a Jay in the garden.
I'm feeling blue, in a good way.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Ashes to Ashes

My Journal Quilt for September is finished and it commemorates the combining and scattering of my parents' ashes.
The scattering took place on Saturday, today would have been their 59th Wedding Anniversary.  We held a traditional family picnic in a place that was very special to Mummy and Daddy and then, basically, made sand castles.  They would have had a quiet evening to themselves before the tide came in.
M&D would have appreciated the Champagne libation!

My JQ keeps all the rules I set at the beginning of the year but, for the final four quiltlets the text is free machine "written".  The words on September's quilt are from John Masefield's "Sea Fever", written in 1900:

"I must go down to the seas again,
... and quiet sleep and a sweet dream... "

I have captured sea glass and treasures collected by Mummy and Daddy under the layer of gold organza on the quilt and held them loosely in place with gold thread.
I wonder whether I would have signed up for the JQ challenge if I'd known what an emotional year 2015 was going to be? It's certainly been an interesting one to record and it's not over yet!

September JQ - Machine Writing

The final four journal quilts of 2015 and going to have their text machined stitched.
This is my first real use of the technique which I learned in a great workshop with Angela Daymond.  Basically, you set the machine up for free motion quilting and then "handwrite" by moving the fabric rather than the pen/machine.  Hmm, if only it was that easy.  I'm not unhappy with my attempts but practising a lot would obviously lead to better results, as with all these things.
Having "written", today I am back to slow stitching by hand and much more relaxed!!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

A Brace of Quilts

Today I have finally finished this sampler quilt (from Lynne Edwards' books) and named it Second of a Brace, "The Pear Tree Without the Partridge".
This quilt has had a long gestation period.  I started it to learn how to quilt, to try lots of techniques and find out what I liked and what I didn't.  The plan was that the nine block quilt would drape over one of my sofas.  I finished the quilt top in August 2009: Sampler quilt top finished

One of the first projects we did when Country Roads Quilters started was a Fat Quarter Frenzy
and I made a quilt of that design in 2012 which I gave to Daddy, it was One of a Brace  (scroll down to the end of the frosty post). I then decided that I would finish the green sampler quilt for Mummy, it would be the Second of a Brace.  Mummy died before the quilt was finished and I put it away, wondering whether I would ever finish it.

In May 2015, after Daddy died, I decided to finish the sampler quilt in memory of my parents and complete the brace.  Daddy's quilt was machine quilted, the Pear Tree quilt is all hand quilted, it has been slow-stitched and very good therapy during a difficult year.
And today, it is finished.  Next weekend, just a few days before what would have been my parents' 59th wedding anniversary, I shall take both quilts to a family picnic in a special place where we will be scattering Mummy and Daddy's ashes.  I think they would like that.

Friday, 4 September 2015


certainly wouldn't have had the strength for Harrogate today but I have managed a little stitching.  I've done some hand quilting on the green sampler quilt (from some date BC) and have raided Mummy's button box to add both interest, texture and memories. And, for a change, those buttons are not there to hide imperfect points!!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

JQ August - Deadline Met

Only just!  This is my Challenge JQ for August, the text if from the poem, "Appeal" by Anne Bronte. The last four months' quiltlets had to be posted to the Contemporary Quilt Group Yahoo page by the end of August, this one got there with no time to spare (although May, June and July were posted during their respective months).

Very little quilting has been going on, in fact, very little of anything has been going on recently.  I have been in hospital for a week following a Crohn's flare in the early hours of Saturday 22 August.  I'm now home, taking some hefty meds that stop me seeing well or doing a lot.  A little reading, a little time on the computer, a little sewing, or a little television viewing and then my eyes cloud and I have to rest.  My appetite is massive but as I am hardly moving I am having to be very careful about what I actually eat.

I am feeling a lot better than I was, I was well looked after in hospital and now am being well cared for by Al and getting lots of love from friends and family in messages, cards, flowers and phone calls.  I have to listen to my body and rest for a while.  I should be setting off for Harrogate tomorrow for a weekend including the Quilt Show, the Quilt Museum in York, Harlow Carr RHS Garden.....but that will have to happen another year now.  I'm looking forward to hearing all about it from friends and on blogs, lots of photos please.

While my body is resting, my mind doesn't seem to.  I am hatching plans and quilts and I'm delighted that Global Piecers have started some new swaps - more to think about.

A nice cup of tea and sleep now.....

Monday, 3 August 2015

July Journal Quilt

I'm running a little late but at least I'm running!  I have a whole day to myself, home alone, and I'm going to stitch my journal quilt for July.  The concept is that we are in steady waters, although they are tumultuous below the surface.  As always I am sticking to my self-imposed rules.  I'll (hopefully) post the finished quiltlet later today.  Happy stitching everyone.

Later the same day...

I've just finished the challenge piece for July:

Monday, 13 July 2015

Not Much Stitching, Lots of Planes

Isn't it strange how we often fail to visit places of interest on our doorsteps?  We had friends to amuse today and took them to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby, just a few miles from home and we had never been before!
Planes are not my thing as machines, engineering feats or for their wartime exploits but they interest me in an emotive way, they are nostalgic and the stories of individual crew members make me feel humble.
The BBMF had been in London on Saturday for the fly past at Buckingham Palace in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and, as the weather was poor yesterday, we weren't sure if they would be back.  We joined a hangar tour and while we were learning about the Dakota plane a Hurricane and a Spitfire were returned to the hangar and tucked up quickly out of the rain.

After oohing and aahing we moved on to learn about other Spitfires from our amazingly knowledgeable guide who gave us over two hours of his time and enthusiasm.

One special thing we learned brings us to the little bit of stitching referred to in the title of this post. Here is a close up picture of a Spitfire wing.
Can you see? These plucky little planes were covered with Irish linen and the fabric was cut with pinking shears.

The finale of the tour was the Lancaster, one of only two still flying. She had an engine fire recently, hence all the scaffolding and work going on, but still looked amazing.

All in all a great day out, we must visit other local attractions.