Thursday, 31 January 2008


After such a long spell of not achieving a great deal, its such a relief to be able to blog about lots of progress on various fronts.

My sampler quilt is coming together - I've now made all nine blocks, some of them are quilted, and I am nearly ready to start joining them together. Here they are, laid out on the table at my class, in their final position I think.

I've also finished the first of two stitched pieces for the "Computing into Stitched textiles" C&G. The original design was created using Paint Shop Pro. The embroidery is a series of layers. I took three layers of Fibretex, painted them and then stitched a grid with strips of organza.

Then I zapped it with the heat gun.

Then I made a patchwork of the nine squares of colour and mounted the fibretex on top. Forgot to take a picture at that stage. Then I gradually built it up using bits of organza, chiffon, silk.

AND... best of all, after months of inactivity, I'm making real progress with my C&G. I've been working on the designs for my hanging. Half of it is stuck up on the wall in my hall, and I'm working on the other half. It is such a relief, having been stuck for so long, having been on the point of giving up, that finally things appear to be coming together. See next post for details!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Catching up

After seemingless endless pictures of France - some stitching at last!
These were some of the few things done last year, when I wasn't well and wasn't blogging.
They were done for a competition at my local Embroiderers Guild branch. The challenge was to embroider a 6" square, and there was quite a range of techniques. The branch used the squares to make a branch banner.

For this one, I layered up some dyed cotton and organza, machine stitched and then hand stitched into it. It was based on a photograph of grasses.

This second one is stitched on calico, so is a slightly more free piece of blackwork than if it had been stitched on evenweave. I'm really fascinated by geometric patterns, and really enjoyed doing this. I do like the less regimented quality of doing blackwork this way. The black bugle beads in the centre don't show very well in this photo, and of course they are both now in the banner.

Neither piece won - c'est la vie!!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Well, I'm really chuffed. A big thank you to Lesley for nominating my blog for a Make my Day award.
The rules say that I have to "give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."
So, I suppose eventually, everyone is going to get it, and most of the people I would want to give it to have already had it at least once - Magstitch, Digital Gran, Purple Missus, Creatilfun - all of them amazing creative women who share their work, ideas and techniques so willingly.
and Lesley herself.
Fiona - Neverending Lists
Susan D -
Celia -

I've remembered!!

That lovely brickwork in the Bergerac area that I couldn't remember the name of - I think it's called "colombage" - don't know if that's the correct spelling, but here are some more pictures.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Moving to France 1

This is an exciting day for us. We have taken the first step in our long held plan to move to France. We have been to a French property exhibition in London, and registered with several Immobiliers (French estate agents).

We are hoping to move to the Bergerac area. Bergerac is a beautiful town on the River Dordogne, and the area is lovely - not quite far enough south to be dry and Mediterranean, but with rolling hills, fields of sunflowers and lots of vineyards (and exceedingly cheap wine). There is an airport at Bergerac so we can get back quickly and the kids can get out to us easily.

We need to get a move on as the eldest son and his wife (expecting their first child at the end of June) have announced that they expect to spend their September holiday with us in France - no pressure then.

So while we wait for a selection of properties to view, we need to get the cat, Gus, sorted with a chip, rabies injections and a pet passport.

I shall report progress as it happens, but just to whet your appetite, here are some pictures I took when we were down there last September. Firstly a sunflower field just before it was harvested, followed by two pictures of old buildings, and the wonderful brickwork in the area - it has a lovely name, which I cannot remember!

Sorry I forgot to rotate this picture before I imported it and I can't find a way to do it now!

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Sampler quilt

A patchwork class started at my local village hall - too good an oportunity to miss - so I have started going with my friend J who has been doing patchwork for several years. We are doing a nine block sampler quilt, hand pieced and hand quilted, using the 'quilt-as-you-go' method. Here are the first four blocks, sashed and partly quilted.

From top to bottom - Shoo Fly, Dresden Plate, Dutchman's Puzzle and Ohio Star.

Apart from the odd bit of machine patchwork, I have never done patchwork seriously, and I am really enjoying it. I understand why people get completely hooked. I know this is all very basic stuff, but I have to start somewhere!

Monday, 7 January 2008

A bit of dyeing

I've been meaning to try dyeing in a plastic bag for ages, but just never got round to it.
I've been going to a patchwork class for a few months, it's a quilt-as-you-go sampler quilt, which I haven't blogged about yet. I was really reluctant to spend lots of money on the fabric for the backing, so I thought I'd have a go at dyeing in a plastic bag. There's a really good tutorial for graduated dyeing on the Fibre and Stitch website, but I decided not to try graduated dyeing and just used one colour. The one fabric I have in abundance is cotton curtain lining left from when I was a curtain maker, so I had a go, and apart from only using one dye, I did what the tutorial says. It worked really well , except when I washed the pieces in the washing machine after I dyed them, they lost a lot of their texture. But I am pleased with the colour and am using them to back my quilt.
Then I booked to go to a class "Accidental landscapes" at Puddleducks, my local patchwork shop. Because I'm a very new quilter, I don't have a stash (yet) and thought this was the perfect opportunity for a bit of graduated dyeing. Once again it's curtain lining, and this time I didn't wash the pieces in the washing machine after they had been dyed
The first set of bags were blue through to yellow, and here is the result.

Then I did a set black through to orange, but I forgot to take a picture of these. Once they had been rinsed, I tore them in half and then put one half of each into what was left in the blue/yellow bags, and below is the result.

For a first attempt, I was really pleased with these. The class was fun, and although it isn't finished, this is what I did.

I'm not very pleased with the design - I find it very difficult to make a 'real' landscape out of my head, but really enjoyed the technique. I shall carry on with it. The one thing I am pleased with is how well the colours go together.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Welcome to 2008

I'm really glad to see the back of 2007. It was not a good year for me healthwise, but I'm nearly there now and looking forward to 2008. Also not a good year creatively, but I've been going to a few classes in the last few months, and it's given me the kick start I needed to get going again.
Two bright spots in 2007 - a wonderful holiday in New Zealand to mark DH's early retirement, and I've lost nearly 4 stone (just need to loose another 4 now).

2008 has got off to a great start - my middle son and his wife have just had their first child - a girl - our second grandchild. Mother and baby are doing well, father is beside himself with excitement, and we are absolutely delighted.

We took my mother home to Suffolk today and we visited the winter walk at Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust property between Cambridge and Newmarket. Despite the weather - dull, dark, trying to snow - it was absolutely beautiful, especially the birch grove, which was quite magical.

The trunks are white, but where the bark has peeled off, its the most beautiful apricot colour which contrasts with the soft green verdigris.

These are just a few of the photos I took. Can't recommend this place too highly.