Wednesday, 28 September 2011

the wonder of Blogland and the madness of kittens

I've been busy this week. Busy showing a friend and her husband around some lovely touristy things. A Friend I didn't meet until she arrived at my house all the way from Oregon. I had chatted with her online for about two years and this month she came over to see me, and other online friends in the UK, for the first time. We all had fun, it was amazing to finally meet up and laugh together.
Blogland is a wondrous place: one can find all manner of things to inspire, teach and encourage. When I'm working on my own on something and get stuck or lose my way it is great to take time off and visit other people's creations. It is like being back at Art College- able to see other people's work, completely different from one's own and gain a real kick of creativity/up the backside just by knowing someone else is making things/painting things too, things that often are really different from what you are working on, things that make you see what you do differently.
So what am I working on? Well, in between visitors and playing with the ( completely bonkers) kitten, I've been working on designs for some quilting projects

more about those when they are ready- and sketches for paintings.

I would love to get stuck into some sewing, but at the moment an encounter between kitten and sewing machine is just too horrendous to contemplate! So back to the drawing board for me- but in the meantime here are some of the fabrics I plan to use...some bought at the Open Day at Lady Sew and Sew's new fabric wharehouse in Henley- well worth a visit, not least for the fantastic selection of waddings they have on sale there.

Yes, I know my stash cupboard was finally slightly less stuffed with fabric and I wanted it to stay that way. But how could I resist these chickens?

And this Christmas gorgeousness?

Just in case you thought I had managed to take photos,no.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Second Bridport Hat Festival

The Hat Festival was even better this year: festival patron Hank Wangford and his Lost Cowboys played a hugely entertaining set on the Friday evening at the Arts Centre, including the World Premiere of "Hats Off to Roger" a song celebrating the Festival and the Mighty Snook, Bridport Hatter Extraordinaire, the inspiration and guiding spirit of the festival. It is wonderful festival, the whole town is involved and people come from all over the country to be there. Everyone is hatted. Many make hats specially and the town is thronging with locals and visitors all weekend. As last year I was sharing a stall with my friend Gee and we realised that next year we need a table each as we were a little squashed!

One of the great delights of being a stall holder in the Hat Market ( St Mary's Hall and the Arts Centre) is that you get to talk to other Hat Stall holders and what a splendidly lovely lot they are.

Most are working on their own and make everything on their stall: Burlesque hats from the delightful Fern Berreen of Ferniche Millinery ,

pretty and unusual fascinators from Lucy Fosh at Gypsy Rose Upstyling,

and absolutely exquisitely crafted period reproduction hats for stage, screen and every day from Kee Wilkinson ( sadly, my photo of her stall was pants, but the hats...oh the HATS-magic). Something for everyone- felt hats made from the wool of your own sheep, vintage hats, wedding hats, gents hats, hats for seriously bad weather, hats to be frivolous in name it, you can find it. There was also the fun of the Hat Swishing Workshop-here is a 'before and after' Swished hat-

I was rather too busy to take many photos, let alone decent ones, but there are plenty to be seen here, including one of the lovely Hen, who was at the festival and came to say hello, looking very stylish indeed in a glorious vintage outfit. So nice to meet someone from blogland in the real world. Planning next year's stall already- I have the urge to make some bonnets, an idea in its infancy, but I'm thinking of the old field bonnets- perfect for gardening and keeping the sun off, but made with really modern fabrics- Amy Butler, perhaps

...mmm, best get the sketchbook out!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Team Tabby

Battersea Boy Fred has been a real sweetie with Rita. Under 48 hours since her arrival and they eat from the same bowl, greet each other with much nose touching and chirruping when Fred comes back in from outside, they sleep together and play together. Rita chases Fred's tail while he chases toys. I thought Fred would like a chum, but didn't think he would be so very happy about it.When Fred arrived a few months ago he was in a bad way- only 3kg of him, bald patches, cracked paw pads and muscles too weak to jump far;right from the start he has been a really sweet natured animal - except when another cat comes into his garden. He is now a whopper, lovely thick shiny fur, soft feet and a solid wall of mouse-hunting muscle. He is probably about 10 and after a mad game on the stairs, totters a bit and needs a good snooze, but he adores playing. I have never known an adult cat chase his own tail as much as Fred does or be so keen to play with a bit of string- I walk around the house with a length of string tied to my waistband. I thought a kitten to play with might just be perfect...though I worried he might object as he is very territorial and also worried that he might think a kitten to be just a giant mouse....but no, silly me to underestimate the wondrous Fred, a lady kitten isn't a threat to his kingdom and isn't to be confused with a mouse. Bravo Fred!

Monday, 19 September 2011

A bit distracted

I will get round to the wonders of the Hat Festival, but for the moment, I am bit distracted by the new member of the family who came back with me from Bridport. Meet Rita. Fred seems, thus far, as besotted as I am.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Hat Festival Time!

That's it, time up, Bridport Hat Festival Weekend starts tomorrow.

Still got a kitchen table full of making and a studio desk likewise.

Quite how I shall fit my pile of hats, hat pins, material for my Hat Swishing Workshop and other goodies and myself and daughter into my small car I'm not sure- the photo shows less than half of it!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Autumn Light

Last week the light changed and the seasons in my sitting room, moved on.

I like to mark the changing seasons and light by changing things. The ornaments change, the cushion covers and throws change- it makes a big difference to the feel of the room - and is a nice excuse for making things.

So out come the wooden toadstools and fruits and various other Autumnal silliness...

...and out comes the fabric I've been meaning to make an Autumn knee quilt with for several years...light tones,

mid tones,

and dark tones,

and a pattern based on using three tones of fabrics and some accent bright spots, the colours of which all work together, to make a pattern using only simple square/rectangles,to be hand quilted with curves and leaves...

...will I manage it before Autumn is over? We'll see.
A few more little hat decorations/brooches for my Hat Festival stall,

like a little flock of butterflies.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The UFO has landed....

This UFO started off as sketch about three years ago, all eagerness, I sorted out the fabrics I thought would work for the idea and made the paper pattern.

Then I found a better combination of it went on.

A year later, when the weather got chilly I re-sorted the fabrics, adding some really yummy buttons and ribbons, from my favourite button and haberdashery supplier Textile Garden, to the mix.

Eventually I bit the bullet and cut the fabric, edgings and bias binding strips and very fine cotton wadding out. No turning back. That was about as far as it got.
This past couple of weeks I have really got my teeth into finishing this in time for me to enjoy wearing it this Autumn/Winter. A mix of machine and hand sewing, embroidery and quilting and plenty of rich Autumnal colours and strong pattern- I have to say I'm very pleased with it and am wearing it today to ward of the rather strong wind. Remarkably, I did not swear once when working on it, not even when making and affixing the bias binding, a task I thought I would hate, but there is something absurdly satisfying about using your own, matching bias binding!Hand sewing all the striped edging strips along the front and bottom and strips of the lining fabric to the inside to cover the seams ( dull work but well worth the trouble ) was less tedious than I thought it would be . I must be getting more patient with age. That, or more easily entertained!

The grey figured chintz fabric comes from a wonderful quilting shop in Amsterdam De Haan & Wagenmakers, if you are a keen sewer/quilter and you are in Amsterdam, go and see their shop: beautiful reproduction traditional chintzes and weaves,Japanese silks,threads- all top quality and only available from them. I am now very glad I stocked my stash up when I first visited the shop some ten years ago when I was living over there, as their fabric-aren't they all- is rather a scary price these days!
Next project? -well, I have some lovely Autumn fabrics that really need making up into a knee quilt- a project that has been hanging around for three years at least-each Autumn I get the fabrics out and stroke them and somehow get no further-but I have a design worked out that I think will be rather fun...more on that another day... and how about a shirt to go with the waistcoat, in between all the last minute Hat Festival preparations of course!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

And then there were four.

Remember this?

Number four in a series, which has been sitting around awaiting attention for too long.

Finished. Phew! I foolishly decided there would be three related sets of four paintings.

Only 8 more to go. Why do I set myself these these foolish targets?

Friday, 2 September 2011

Ufo update

In between other things, some ufo action:I have put the backing on the pieces of the gilet and started the final lot of quilting.The awareness of chilly evenings and knowing my ufo shame is now public have spurred me on.

Using shashiko threads, I'm adding more quilting to the panels of patterned fabric with space dyed thread and then quilting the top panel with black.

Nice easy, restful sewing for a sunny chair before the sweary bit starts - edgings, button holes and fitting it all together...