Friday 31 December 2010

Quilt Review 2010

 I've grouped my Journal Quilts for the year by theme rather than month. I did start off with a painted sample for my honesty quilt but  decided not to include it but  to have something that united all the pieces: indigo and/or a blue and black Japanese fabric which I also used as binding.
Only one JQ (February snow in Llangollen) uses acrylics:with exception of  'Rich as Honesty'  this year has featured a return to improvisational piecing and wonderful fabrics

But what an exception! 'Rich as Honesty' was unfinished business, making the quilt that I wanted 'Lunaria '  to be. I think it's my best yet and was recognized as such by receiving 'Highly Commended' award at Festival of Quilts.
Making 'Tunisian Door' for 'Under African Skies' exhibition at the Quilt Museum was the trigger to reconnecting with African and indigo  fabrics  and exploring their use in new ways.

Of all  my quilts this year this JQ from March 'Indigo seas' is my favourite - it's simplicity , showcasing some wonderful fabrics in a painterly way expresses the most the direction I want to take.
I'm currently setting up a website for my artwork - another new direction for the new year.

Thanks for all your comments, I wish  you all a wonderful 2011. 

Monday 27 December 2010

Scrap Journal Quilts

By the skin of my teeth (what a strange expression!) I managed to finish my 2010 Journal Quilts before the deadline! I'd made 2 scrap quilts from tiny 'crumbs' of fabric leftover from various projects (mainly the Tunisian Door) and quilted one by machine and one by hand with quite different effects. I like the density of the machine quilted one - it really adds texture and enjoyed the process of hand quilting even if it did take much longer.  While in theory can fit hand stitching in an odd half hour, it doesn't work out like that but had a good session today watching the Incredibles and Upstairs Downstairs ( I'm sure the Marsala helped - left over from the Tiramisu)
Wonder what next years Journal Quilt Challenge will be - been making them since 2003, sometimes 2 sets per year so next year will be my 11th set for 2011!!

Sunday 26 December 2010

Boxing Day Walk

 Today (Boxing day), we wrapped up warmly and made our traditional walk along the canal to the Fox Stop (a CAMRA  pub in Hanwell).
 Still a lot of frozen slippy snow on the tow path but the worse part was crossing this steep bridge which was like an ice rink and involved holding on with 2 hands and shuffling sideways along the edge. Hope it's not so bad for our New Year excursion!
 Worth it for the interesting views - I loved the difference in the reflections in the ice and water.  We felt we deserved our pints of beer and the warm friendly atmosphere - even met up with someone I hadn't seen in years.
Tho' part of the point of the walk was to work off some of the excesses of the day before - this piece of ham  was ginormous but we've been making some  inroads into it. Ian has never cooked such a large hunk of meat before.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Christmas Greetings

 Still in jim-jams at 12.30 - one of the joys of the Christmas. Ian and I did stockings for each other this year: mine contained books, choccies, a couple of Bailey's miniatures and numerous art and sewing supplies. Ian's contained books, left-handed scissors, seeds, choccies, wind-up caterpillar and a Wallace and Gromit Wensleydale.  Kept it in work fridge until yesterday to keep secret, I thought it might be kidnapped. I also made him printed bunting for his bookshelves -more photos when it's in place
We had the first of our seasonal bizarre breakfasts: bucks fizz and coffee (love the combine effect!), crumpets with brandy bitter and 'devils on horseback' (dates wrapped in bacon). Tomorrow it will be leftovers from todays lunch - glazed ham and tiramisu!! What odd traditions do you have?
Whatever you're doing, hope you're having  a wonderful time.

Monday 20 December 2010

New Toy for Christmas

It was worth taking a days leave today - I've just unpacked my new Pfaff GrandQuilter which arrived a  few minutes ago from Sewing Machine World. I got a  good trade-in  for my Bernina Virtuosa 160 and as the remainder of the price is just about paid for by bonus of selling a quilt, using Helen's 'Girl Maths' it's free!!
I've still got my Bernina Activa 125 which has as many fancy stitches as I need and is a good size for workshops so not too many regrets at handing over the 160 which had a lot of functions I barely used. It also occurred to me that this was free too as I bought it about 12 year ago with Norwich Union.  'windfall shares'.

Now off for some lunch and to read the manual. Looking forward to putting  it through its paces over the Christmas period (I'm off  24th Dec to 3 January, 3 days of which I'll be on my own as Ian will be working)

A Pair of Gloves

When we out at the Farmers Market on Saturday, I managed to lose one of my red gloves (only had them a couple of weeks). Ian said he'd treat me to a new pair from BHS which was nearby  and as they didn't have any red ones left, chose a nice purple pair. Only to find when  I put them on later on that the 'pair' consisted of 2 left hand ones!! Still looking on the bright side , I could have ended up with 3 right hands. I often used to wear odd earrings so wearing odd gloves won't be too much of a departure and at least they're the same style. The bonus is I'll be able to distinguish left from right, something I've very bad at. Blame being near ambidextrous -they said so on R4 so must be true!

Saturday 18 December 2010

Sudden Snow

Only just made it to the Farmers Market in time to collect our Xmas goodies order (ham, venison, etc) -the guys from Food Fore Thought were packing up! Blame the sudden snow that started at 10 and didn't let up, we had to get off the bus halfway there and walk the rest. After completing our shopping , refueling at Costas, look what was waiting for us at the end of our road - this huge snowman!! So distracted Ian nearly got knocked down by a reversing van.
 As our road is blocked off at the end, there's a great community feel to it ( had a street party for Children in Need that raised over £600) and loads of people were already out clearing the road, sledging and building a series of smaller snowmen along the pavement.
Just time to put the mulled wine on before Sue and Peter ventured round.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Productive Procrastination

 I sat down at the computer to write our annual Xmas letter but then  decided I really should put the binding on Novembers Journal Quilt while there was still reasonable light to take a photo. I'm hand stitching the other piece I made from leftover scraps but this one I machine stitched to within  an inch of its  life: using decorative stitches and metallic threads then over-stitched in close lines to unite the different elements.
 Then having signed up for the Sketchbook Project knowing I'd have to change the paper in the Moleskine Cahier  as it was so flimsy, with deadline looming decided if I was going to use different papers, might as well go all out for colourful Khadi . Just have to draw/paint in it now but at least with thicker papers there are less pages!!
I've been writing Xmas letters for 14 years - they are eagerly anticipated and it was what got me into blogging, wanting to share what I was up to, particularly on the textile front. In a way it's easier now as I can cut and paste from old blog posts but perhaps because of that repetition it's not such a pleasure.
Interesting post by Kathy about different spectrums of working  - what wasn't explicitly  covered was the  attitude to deadlines and role of procrastination. I definitely need impending deadlines to get the creative juices going, always have done and  recognise myself in 'student syndrome'. One of the reasons I don't (on the whole ) make lists is that I know for me  it's a form of procrastination, I don't need lessons in the art.
However a new discovery today  is that with 2 projects/ deadlines partially met it makes it easier to progress with a 3rd so back to the letter I go!

Friday 10 December 2010

More Syrian Scarves

 I also bought a scarf in Aleppo in the Souk  the first time I went to Syria in 2000, this time a heavy silk brocade with gold threads. It's over a metre square and caused a stir when I wore it for New Year, the group divided between the frankly covetous and those who said "you paid HOW MUCH for  a scarf?"

 I thought my $100 was very well spent - I love the wrapped fringing and tassels too and it's as good if not better than the examples illustrated in the 'Art and Crafts of Syria'
 I didn't manage to find such a good one on my second visit - this purple and silver thread scarf was practically thown in with my other purchases as it was worn to shreds in the centre and had lost its fringes.  I rather like that someone has worn it to bits and makes me feel better about at some point refashioning it.
They both probably originate from Homs ( although the Lions might be a workshop signature from Aleppo)  produced exclusively as traditional headcovers for surrounding villages and nomads, the area being known for its sericulture. On my first trip I saw one example of silver and black being worn by a proud old woman with a tattoo in one of the nomad villages we visited.

Feeling rather sorry for myself with a bad cold, thanks to  Ian who insisted on  kisses even tho' he was 'diseased'

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Syrian Scarf

 Freezing temperatures have given me the opportunity to wear my favourite scarf : an antique  silk twill bathsheet/large scarf I bought in a Aleppo (Syria), Christmas 2004 . I impressed Ian with my bargaining skills while he sipped a glass of tea.
While not as large as my earring hoard , I have a large collection of silk scarves started when I was very small when I had a red silk kerchief with black spots to relieve the itching of a green mohair coat.
But there's something about the three  different strips of woven silk sewn together by hand and the front and back differing in pattern that make it extraordinary and always lifts my spirits. And its' so warm.

A Feast Of Fringing

Arrived home late last night to find on the doorstep a thank you card from neighbours Nick and Nat for dinner on Saturday ( we had  a great time, they stayed way  past pumpkin time !) and a bag containing this wonderful  fringing. It's got 3 layers of fringe most of it uncut and is a sample of something probably fantastically expensive. What to use it for?  Perhaps some kind of sea creature vessel?
Getting unexpected gifts like this reminds me of the trouser legs and half shirts  of charity shop hauls  Sue used to post through the letterbox  when we lived nearer.

Monday Night in Town

Over the Christmas period we normally fit in a concert ( Haydn's Creation last year) but with clashing dates or no seats available this hasn't proved feasible. So our seasonal outing this year was to hear one of Ian's work colleagues  play at 'Proud' in Camden. Not quite our thing but love to hear music live and  it's good to support people when they're starting out , even if we were the oldest there by about 20 years! The venue is amazing, set in the old horse hospital ( we were seated in a stable! how appropriate for Xmas) and wandering through the market  with its closed up stalls all the bronze sculptures of horses were surreal. After  a few videos of the floor I've finally managed to work out how to use my phone camera  taking photos of the remnants of poster  and passing tube trains while waiting for train to Ealing Broadway.

Thanks for all the sympathetic comments about the loss of my ring - unfortunately still not been found. On a more cheerful note - just noticed this is my 300th post!!

Thursday 2 December 2010

Lost Ring

 It took months to find the right engagement ring - when I saw it I rushed home and grabbed Ian out of the shower so he could buy it for me. It was an antique solitaire in a platinum and gold  art deco setting.Unique.  Note the past tense - I've lost it. When we were first engaged I almost  lost it while gardening but found it again at the bottom of a bag of compost. After that scare I've always taken great care to take it off while gardening, painting etc so when it dropped off my finger at work (my fingers shrinking in the cold) I resolved to leave it at home. Not that that helped - I took my rings off to do the washing up and put them back on again afterwards but when I went to bed I only had my wedding ring on. During those few hours I'd unpacked the Ocado delivery - so far I  haven't heard back from them ( I thought it might have dropped into a crate while I was helping unload) I've spent the afternoon on my hands and knees looking round the house but no sign. 

Look how happy I was then !