Sunday 29 March 2020

A Changed World...

 It's difficult to believe  that  just 5 weeks  ago , Ian and I were having Sunday  lunch at the Carriage Restuarant   in between talks at Faversham Literary Festival  before I headed off   to the Lake District  for my annual  sewing retreat.  So much has changed.
  At the Carriage, Nicky and Tania  are doing   a fantastic job cooking meals for those who need them ,   and we're luckier than most. Ian was already  working 3 days  a week  from home  but now full time, not having to go into London which was our biggest worry  tho' he's working longer hours  answering peoples concerns. 
 I was lucky enough to squeeze in a haircut just before lockdown which should  last  me a while. Faversham   has a real community spirit  and open spaces to exercise in.  There's several local food suppliers besides the  supermarkets,  and  we've got a full small chest freezer ( batch cooking  is something we've always done)
 Like many creative people,  in theory I have lots of time  at home now to  stitch and draw , and lots of projects  I could be working on   but as   many people are finding,  concentration and motivation are limited.   This week I've spent a lot of time in phone calls  with my MIL , finalising an online food order for them to  delivered on Monday ( she's used to shopping almost daily ) .

 Thank goodness for the internet and  social media, I'm  probably more in daily contact with people than I've ever been .  Since  January I've been  posting daily black and white photographs( ' Small Reflections')    with a group of around 150  people locally.  

   I used to meet once a month with sketching friends at the 'Hot Tin'. We all did the #30daysketchingchallenge   and  now we can't meet up  physically, we're  taking it in turns to  set prompts  which has been  challenging and hugely entertaining. I'm already thinking of what ones I'll set. 
' HotTinGirls' 
' Luxury' ( Reading in the bath , with apologies to Bonnard) 

'Temptation' ( looking at reference material when I should be doing something else) 

Likewise the 'Drawing Tuesday'  group, with museums closed  and not able  to meet up  has gone virtual. Last week we were all drawing tablecloths.

  On the Oast Quilters  Facebook  page we've been keeping in contact , posting photos of our studios,  first quilts and   having a drink together at 6.30 on a Friday !  ( the small circular depression on my SewEzi table is just the right size for a wine glass!)   What do you call #trainstitching  when you no longer travel?...
The 'Edgy Stitchers'  group I belong to had met up  at a members house at the beginning of March  - most of what we discussed then like visiting exhibitions is irrelevant now.  It was lovely to  have a Zoom meeting  with some of them  , see their studios and  sharing what we'd been up to, as well as  our frustrations, I look forward to  more of these  virtual gatherings.

 Being in contact with friends and family is so important ,  sharing  helps to  diminish the  worries   a  little  ( as does shared laughter)
 Keep well, keep safe. 

Friday 13 March 2020

Daily Drawing: February 2020

 After problems  in my last post  of photos not appearing ,  I hope that these are better behaved.  it basically says that blogger is not secure but I'm unclear how to make it safe.    
After #30daysketchbookchallenge , I've continued with 'dailydrawing'   in it's loosest sense , with  drawings, collages, photos of drawings, Photoshop manipulations , stitched samples etc.  And sometimes I might  catch up with up to 3 days in one go. But the important thing is to keep going  and enjoy the process  and it's a quirky record of what I've been up to 

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Surface, Structure, Stitch at City Lit Week 8 (and February Journal Quilt )

   CQ JQ  Feb20   Mussel Holes 

   Week 8  of Surface, Structure, Stitch  and  the start of our 5 weeks working on our own project .  Each person shared their ideas and I showed  my 'homework'  from Glenthorne

 When I was talking to  Louise ,  we looked  in particular  at the multiples I'd produced  ( the stack of colour catcher shapes disintegrated   as she handled it as I hadn't  secured it sufficiently, beads everywhere! )  suggesting overlapping strings of them, perhaps using  an acrylic box from  Muji  to display them. I went at  lunchtime to have a look , what an array of  possibilities.  

 I put together more ' sandwiches'  of  indigo fabrics with bondaweb between  but then  started playing with the 'holes '  leftover  from  cutting them out , putting together  9 inch journal Quilts  using denim from jeans in the scrap basket.   

 The  stack of colour catchers with holes in was particularly  exciting  and Louise had some ideas about  stitching them  together. Many people weren't familiar with the potential of  used colour catchers ( or what they were )  but I've been using them for years including  the start of daily drawing practice in 2013 ( tho it didn't get too far )  

  I've even used the holes before  in this  Journal Quilt  from  2009 

 I was also reminded  how much I like the shapes  and limited colour palette  in Paul Feilers work 

  Back at home,  I followed Louise's  suggestion of  quilting from the back with  a heavier thread in the bobbin

 Now I just need to  sort out what I'm doing in tomorrow's class....

Monday 2 March 2020

Grasmere Retreat 2020 ( and Surface, Structure,Stitch homework )

 Last  week I was in the Lake District, staying at Glenthorne  Guest House  in Grasmere on my 9th NWCQ  retreat . Unlike  previous years , I didn't do very much  sketching  this year ( even falling behind  a bit on my daily drawing )  but a fair bit of  stitching.  Given the poor weather conditions I'm glad I did my  'Grasmere Cloths' last year, it would have been  very challenging this year! 

 The trains to Oxenholme  had been delayed/cancelled in the storms of the previous week due to flooding  so I was relieved that it was only 15 minutes late.   Karen picked me up and the driving  conditions in snow and flooded roads  were difficult ( these photos  near Windermere were taken out the window waiting our turn to go up on the pavement, the  water being so deep) 

Glad to arrive at Glenthorne, this was the view from my bedroom window  ( and below , on a better day , the view towards the guest house )

The studio  building among the trees  and the table space divided equally with masking tape between the 13 of us ( with the usual jokes about ' encroachment' when materials creep over the line) ) 

 The main project I'd brought to work on  were the different sections  of  #trainstitching work in progress  " #wrapmeintheshore" as I'm getting to the stage  of working out how to hang it/ display it.  I don't want to replicate exactly what I did for #windmeinthesea  so was seeking  advice  from the others  and I'm glad to say have come away with lots of  suggestions.   It looked lovely with the wintery light shining through it, shame it would be difficult to replicate  under gallery/exhibition conditions.

 As it was the 10th year of these retreats , we had several    shared activities to   mark it. We know each other so well now, it feels like we pick up where we left off , always lots of laughter  but also understanding  of each others  circumstances .
Besides 2 entertaining and informative  quizzes in the evening from Jean and Ruth and  a fun drawing  session  with Millie)   we'd each brought a piece of denim  which was sewn together by Judy to form a bookcover/ bag  for the photo album/ scrapbooks  that Millie puts together documenting our  activities. We took it in turns to add some stitching by hand and machine  

  The ' extension'  activity for those who wished to do so ( all of us  in the end!)  was to each bring  a piece of fabric/thread/ beads in indigo or red and make something with them ( we did a similar exercise led by Linda B. when we used paper  ) The rules evolved into  being allowed to incorporate 2 other  materials of our own and  leave out one of the  original if we wished.
 The resulting  works  were extremely varied, from a beaded tree; bookwraps;  mini collages; bookmarks; journal quilts   to my ' barnacle' . 
 I used a patched piece of the Japanese kasuri  from my  trainstitching   with  pieces of the fabrics with a mussel  shape cut out. My other addition was red thread   which I used to sew  13 lines  in kantha style stitching   

 I then gathered it up  into a shell shape ( using the indigo beads  to fasten it) ,  weighted with a wrapped cord made of  red and blue flowery  fabric  

  In between sewing sessions  went for  short walks in the ever changing weather conditions, going shopping for  Grasmere Gingerbread and  warm winter 'trews'  ( the trousers I'd brought  with me, even with thermals , weren't up to it ) .  
 We were  very well fed at the Guesthouse  with  cooked breakfast and 3 course evening meal   but still managed to fit in lunches of  delicious soups and cakes  at Mathildes  after browsing the  Heaton Cooper  art shop painting supplies ( buying more Pitt artist Calligraphy Pens in different colours) 

 Fortified by coffee and cake  I returned to work on my 'homework' for  ' Surface, Structure, Stitch' at City Lit ,  taking one shape and playing with it in multiples

 I took a mussel as my source shape, in 2 different sizes,  using  colourcatchers ( above) with  a spacer  bead between each shape  and   some indigo  and cream fabrics sandwiched with bondaweb  ( below) , with a few stitches to  hold them in position. Lots of potential. 

  We left at Friday lunchtime   under ominous skies with very wet snow. I was travelling with Judy , the spray on the motorway was dreadful , so glad  that thanks to her hospitality  I could make a more leisurely train journey back home on Saturday

 The view from the train between Crewe and Stafford  in particular was of a landscape of flooded fields

 Safely back home in Faversham , after an early dinner at ASK, appropriately enough  we had tickets  for ' Waterways ' in St Mary of Charity's Church.  The Sunday before we'd gone to 2 talks ( Mudlarking and  the way to the sea  at Faversham Literary Festival  with lunch  at the Carriage  Restaurant in between  so it's been a watery week !