Thursday, 30 August 2012

The year gets older.

I was driving home today with the radio on and caught a wonderful programme about Hokusai . He felt that the older he got the better his work was: once he reached 70 he felt that things had begun to get interesting and that if he could live to 110 perhaps he might just manage to master drawing. It is interesting how perception changes with age, the older one gets, the less, one realises, one knows and the awareness that each day really could be the last one starts to seep into one's conciousness. Somehow this slightly melancholic thought fitted the sea change in the seasons that has been happening this past week, which has accelerated over the last couple of days. The year has turned from growth to retreat...the vibrant green the trees kept nearly all Summer, thanks to the rain, is browning, leaves are beginning to drop, nights are cooling and mornings bring heavy, misty dews. I find the change to Autumn as exciting as the change to Spring and even though it hasn't really been a Summer worth the name this year, I'm still ready for Autumn.
 The House Martins have been gathering, flying high over the garden, chirruping to eachother as they fill up with insects for the journey home. Martins only fly high over us, briefly, when they first arrive in the Spring and spend more time in the area when they are preparing to go in late Summer. In between the Swifts are in residence, arriving, always, the first week in May and swooping and calling through to -at the latest- mid August. But the sky has been very quiet this month, the Swifts packed up and left very early this year and I suspect the Martins are on their way early too. They have had a rotten Summer. 

 Another visitor passed through on the way to warmer climes last week, a Willow Warbler. I felt very honoured to see it- drew back the bedroom curtain early one morning and there it was picking around for insects on a shrub right beside the window. It hung around the back garden for a couple of days, then moved on- I shall look out for it again in the Spring and next Autumn; for a few years running a Spotted Flycatcher would stop off in the front garden in Spring,  busily eating midges and aphids for a few days before going off on the next stage of its journey. I didn't see it this year, but as it would only be there for a day or so I might just have missed spotting it on the right day.

 You never know what might stop by the garden in Autumn and now I am older I have almost learned to take the time to look, but haven't yet mastered drawing- but then, I'm only just over the half-way point to that.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Festival of Quilts

or, I was a Quilt Show Virgin.
I am still trying to work through all the things I saw at the Quilt Show. I didn't take my rather large, ancient, memory-capacity-of-a-goldfish camera. I knew there would be loads of quilts I would want to take pictures of and that I would find my camera running out of battery/memory really, really annoying, so I opted for just looking. As it was my first visit I guessed it might be a bit overwhelming and I was right.          So many many styles of quilt...where to start?

Things that stand out-

  •  seeing a Dear Jane quilt in the flesh- I have no wish to make one, but rather wanted to see one so I could check out the lovely triangular edging blocks, which as as snazzy as I thought they would be. 
  •  the Pauline  Burbridge retrospective. I first came across her quilts in the late 70s and still have the copy of Crafts Magazine that featured her 'egyptian' quilts as I liked them so much. Wonderful to see the progression of her work, all of it absolutely stunning.
  •  meeting Jane Sassaman and Tula Pink- two ladies whose textiles and quilts I have long admired-never thought I would meet them and see their fabulous quilts for real. I have become a fan-girl in my dotage.
  •  how brilliant is it to have a Quilt Show that ANYONE who makes a quilt they feel particularly proud of can enter?
  • fabrics, so MANY fabrics... I was under orders from Sir to find some really nifty Halloween fabrics to make a hanging and there really were none to be found, which was a surprise. Nor were there ANY brushed cottons- homespun, yes, flannel, yes, brushed cotton, no. Sigh. Looks like my stashette of brushed cotton have to last for the forseeable future. Still found some to bring home with me though, despite constantly reminding myself that "I do not need fabric, I do not need fabric", but how irresistible was the Oakshott discontinued so not to be found again fabric? And I feel a Winter sludgetastic serious piecing event coming on with red and pale sludge beauties.
  • threads, so many threads...gimp, cotton, Pearsall's silk ( may not be available for much longer, so get it while you can), Valdani space-dyed perle.Yum,yum.
  • lovely ladies from everywhere where ladies quilt, all chatty and charming and feisty- especially the two ladies from Lymington we had a drink with on Friday evening. If I am half as fabulous as they are at c.80, I shall be well pleased and let us not forget meeting Blog chums in the real world, to drink tea and talk sewing machines.
  • how startlingly easy it is to bump into the one other person you know to be there that day within half an hour of entering the show despite the show being absolutely huge and full of thousands of ladies?
  • how even more startlingly easy it is for another lady you know to sit right behind you on the one and only very full shuttle bus you take?
I did feel rather shell-shocked after two days of solid Quilty Goodness, shell-shocked, but happy.  Loads to think about, lots of threads to use, fabrics to contemplate, some very luscious trimmings from the fabulous Aarti Ji's and some quilt hangers. This last purchase makes me feel there is now no hope for me, I am a fully paid-up quilt maker. Somehow, for me, quilt hangers are an admission of seriously addictive quiltedness. No turning back.

The icing on the cake? A workshop taught by Tula Pink at my local fabric shop, Lady Sew and Sew on the Wednesday after the Quilt Show- more of that when the project we started is finished- currently languishing awaiting my finishing ten pill-box hat and epaulette sets for the rather marvellous Bridport Palace Cinema...must get back to my needle.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Quilt Show

Still recovering...normal service will be resumed when I get a moment as it is hell on wheels here this week!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Dowdy jackets? No thanks!

A year or so ago I realised that I no longer suited all the black/grey/brown clothes in my wardrobe. My skin and hair have lightened with age and I just look like a bowl of porridge in my beloved neutral  clothes. Fortunately, my niece, who has luxuriant deep auburn hair and peachy cheeks, looks fabulous in all my rejects. I have been steadily replacing neutrals with bright colours. It really has cheered me up opening a wardrobe full of colour every morning and deciding which colour to go for today- turquoise or magenta? Lime or purple? I have hung on to two linen jackets as they are just so comfy and useful in Summer, but they needed perking up with some colour. 
Today, at long last, I got round to having a bit of fun with them and livening them up. When I first had this black jacket I put white stitching around the neckline, now it is joined by colour and stripy edging- also on the turned back cuffs- and some button detailing. The original, nice but dull, coconut button is replaced with violet mother of pearl.

The grey jacket has grown some embroidered detail around the neckline, the boring dull metal buttons are now patterned mother of pearl and down the front is a lovely piece of Laura Foster Nicholson ribbon.
Ms Nicholson is a weaver and also designs ribbons, she has a lovely website full of her delicious ribbons- which you can order by the yard and they will ship to the UK- I have a few of her designs in my sewing box awaiting use to jazz up various garments old and new. I am planning getting a few more- I think that some extra ribbon detail would be good on some of my quilt projects...they really are some of the nicest ribbons I've come across anywhere.

All the buttons are from Textile Garden- the best selection I've come across, buttons to make you drool. It is an online button/haberdashery shop- though sometimes the lady who runs it ( with the help of her family) has a stand at sewing/knitting shows, they were besieged by eager ladies at Stitch and Knit at Alexandra Palace last year and will be there again this Autumn. She also has a very mouthwatering selection of ribbons and tapes.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Tula Pink hits the UK

The Olympics have rather passed me by, not a sport fan, I am finding quilty excitement this Summer instead. My chicken cushions will be at the NEC and the week after I shall be going to a workshop taught by the refreshingly inventive fabric designer and quilt maker Ms Tula Pink.

I've posted before about her lovely fabrics : sharp and subtle colours, shape-shifting surfaces, rich tones: there's elegance and a real individuality to her witty designs. She's over for the NEC Festival of Quilts and is teaching a workshop- just the one- while she is in the UK. She has a book of quilt designs out too- Quilts from the House of Tula Pink- and they are as inventive as her fabrics.

 If you can get to the workshop for August 22nd, move heaven and earth to do so, from radio interviews she sounds delightful- here's the link for the class, at Lady Sew and Sew in Henley-upon-Thames, Oxfordshire. See you there!

It is quite a Summer for new fabrics coming to the UK, another of my great quilting inspirations, Jane Sassaman, will be at the Quilt Show and her fabrics are to be on sale in this country for what is, I think, the first time. Her bold colours and patterns can make fabulous kaleidoscope effects and are also great for clothes/household sewing. I came across a couple of fat quarters of her fabric years ago in Holland- the two on the far left of this photo- I've not used them yet, I've been saving them for something really special. At last I shall be able to buy some new Sassaman fabrics to work with them, the only stockist in the UK  does mail order, so hurry while stocks last- the fabrics will be on display at the Quilt Show for the first time in the UK and Jane will be doing book signings and giving a talk on the Saturday- sadly, for me, on a day when I won't be there. But, I think I have enough excitement already.

Friday, 10 August 2012

And off they fly.


 Next Chicken Stop: Birmingham for the Quilt Show at the NEC. Form an orderly queue please!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The flock is growing.

First there was one...

Then there were two more.

Now there are four.

Tomorrow, all being well, there will be six.

Once the whole flock is gathered they will be winging their way to the NEC for the Quilt Show next week, three will be on the Lady Sew and Sew stand and three will be with Popular Patchwork- in which magazine you will find instructions to make your own flock of Chicken Cushions.
How excited am I that my birds will be 'on show'? VERY! Can't wait to see them there.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Thursday, 2 August 2012

mmm... what are we making today?

 You will just have to wait and see...

A false start

 A few of weeks back I got very excited about the prospect of some of my designs being published in the Christmas Issue of a Quilting Magazine- I even wrote a post about it, though within minutes I deleted the post after a bit of online digging unearthed rather more about the magazine than its very stylish and on-trend contents give away. The magazine that wanted to publish my designs is Modern Quilting. I saw issue 2 of the magazine and really liked it- interviews with interesting designers, nice did cross my mind that it was very American for a UK magazine, but then, lots of interesting quilts and fabrics are being created in America that get not much exposure in magazines over here. So I wrote a post about it for the blog then visited the magazine's website with a view to a link - mmm, seems like the magazine has just been put into liquidation and a new publisher has taken it over... the website is, well, not what you would expect of a functioning magazine...alarm bells started to ring and I erased my blog post hastily.
 I've continued to dig around online for information about the magazine and the more I read the less I like it. I read quite a bit before I went off on my hols and since returning I've read more. Up to date details of what seems to be happening with the magazine are emerging on various sewing blogs. I shan't be sending them my Christmas designs to publish, I shan't be enthusing about their publication- I suspect the reason so many American designers are featuring in their pages is that so far word hasn't got across the water that the magazine would seem to be, from what I have read in many places over the last weeks, well, somewhere between flaky and downright crooked. Amongst its victims are designers, subscribers and suppliers. It is a real shame that a potentially interesting and fresh magazine covering an area of quilting interest that others don't currently cover seems to be just a sham - be warned and read all about it, there are many links you can follow from Ravelry and many sewing blogs- just google Modern Quilting Magazine or Sew Hip and you will be turning over stones and seeing what crawls out from underneath them and very educational it is too. My heart bleeds for the ladies who have sent their quilts to the magazine for photographing with, it seems, no hope of ever getting them back or being paid for their hours of work writing up the 'how to' instructions. 
A lesson learned for me, a hard one too.