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Friday, 21 September 2018

Knitting and Stitching show 2018…

Hello, dear, neglected blog. A tiny post just to show I still care.

Once again, I'll be teaching how to make Dorset buttons, and do needle weaving at the K&S show this year. If you have a moment, look at this super-cute animation the promoters have come up with to advertise the event.

Doesn't Sewphia have a fine set of pins!


Monday, 11 June 2018


of the quilting kind!

Last January, I started work on my blue and white quilt. The design was inspired by the Modernist style of house we had moved to, and I wanted the quilt to be something to keep and cherish for ever. It's a rare thing that I'm totally happy with something I've made, so excuse me if I sound big headed, but I loved, loved, loved this quilt when it was finished, just over a month ago. It was the sort of thing I would have coveted had I seen it in someone else's home. My quilt combined all of my favourite things, simple but considered design with a lovely texture created by painstaking hand stitching. It included much treasured fabrics, some of which I'd dyed myself, others that were vintage finds, as well as those that were just right for this quilt. The only thing the quilt needed was a wash…

So I washed it. And the ••!!%%ºº** colours ran! Horribly so. Not just a bit. My almost perfect quilt was a mucky mess of red and blue splodges. Like someone had chucked a pot of paint at it. Was this some kind of karmic rebuke for being too pleased with my efforts?

Any way all I could think about when I pulled it from the washing machine were the wasted hours (hundreds of them!) spent hand quilting. I was beyond disappointed. So much so, that I didn't rant and rave, I just dropped the thing on the floor and walked off. I couldn't bear to look at it. And I certainly didn't want to blog about it.

 A few glasses of wine later, I went back and took another look, it was just as bad as I'd remembered. However, I decided to see if I could salvage the quilt. Eventually, after six sachets of Dr Beckmann's Colour Run Remover, this is the result. There are still splodges but they are not as heartbreakingly bad as before. 

So the quilt is now on the bed, and I'm training our new cat, Calypso (sadly Willow died) to lie on the worst splodges. For a cat, she's amazingly co-operative and very good at covering up the most offensive stains. She also loves having her photo taken, and will roll onto her back at any given opportunity to have her tummy rubbed! She's not fussed who does it, just as long as someone does.

I'm getting used to the quilt now but could kick myself for not thoroughly pre-washing all the fabrics. I pre-washed most of them, but not the vintage kimono silks, which bled terribly, as did the hand-dyed red fabric (although I thought I'd pre-washed it sufficiently).

Clearly not, talk about learning a lesson the hard way!


Thursday, 29 March 2018

Lace for cheats…

I'm not one for anti-macassars, or lavender sachets, but do love a bit of lace. Or more specifically lace patterns and the shadows they cast. I like the mind-bending way it seems you have to think when making lace. You have to consider the holes, or what you're not stitching as much as the stitches themselves, which appeals to my love of negative space!

For ages, I've wanted to delve into the world of lace but have been put off by what is often done with it. I really didn't fancy spending hours/days/weeks… making a crude imitation of something that might look decent on a handkerchief, if done properly, but realistically would end up filed under 'poor first attempt' in my sample book. Besides, who wants to make something for someone to blow their nose on? I'm not ashamed to say, sometimes, I need more instant gratification than traditional lace making methods can provide. I'd also like to produce something a bit unexpected.

So I've been playing around with the idea of lace by combining it with other media such as, papier maché, clay and copper wire in an effort to produce something bolder and more three-dimentional than usually associated with lace. Pressing lace into clay might seem like cheating, as might using ready made paper lace doilies, but doing so gives me a head start. I can then add stitching to what I make, be it fagotting stitch to clay strips, rough needle lace to wire figures, or the holes burnt into a papier maché bowl with a soldering iron. That last one was particularly good fun, nothing beats a bit of controlled destruction!

Next up? Another attempt at a wire figure, this time with a more considered outfit.


Friday, 23 March 2018

Buttons and lace…

Has it really been two months since I last posted? I may not have posted but thread has been running through my fingers, whether it's because I'm hand quilting the blue and white quilt, or working on new things.

Simple but effective: a whole stitch ground.

I've been teaching myself bobbin lace. Perhaps if I get decent at it, I'll invest in some actual bobbins, but for now clothes pegs will do. Although I'd love to have the skill to create intricate flowers, etc, the lace I most like the look of is simple and geometric in design, which is a good thing as that's where you start!

The plan with the lace making is to combine it with a pojagi panel. I want to sandwich lace between layers of organza, so some pieces of the patchwork are less transparent than others. When the pojagi is complete*  the combination of plain and embellished patches should cast interesting shadows, as the window where it will hang catches beautifully the late afternoon light.

I would also like to add the odd bit of stitching, something akin to the image below, but at the moment it's a mess of snippets in my head that haven't yet come together as a proper design.

Like this, but simpler, and in a single colour.

I've also been making Dorset buttons again. I get a little obsessed with these, and once I start, don't usually stop until I've got a jam jar's worth. I don't do anything with them, just fill up jam jars. Making for making's sake: no deadlines, or purpose in mind, just the therapeutic joy of making!


* If the length of time the blue and white quilt is taking to sew is anything to go by, completion will probably be the next millenia!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Coming along…

There's still a long way to go with the hand quilting, but at last, I can see progress. It's definitely
coming along, and, is more than half done. This is just the incentive I need to push on and do more.

I'm not sure the abstract acorn motif is particularly evident, but that doesn't matter. I like the ripple effect caused by the hoops within hoops of stitches. I'm not so keen on how grubby the quilt has become, all the rolling up, spreading out, and general handling has made for one very dirty item. I'm too scared to wash it before I finally add the binding though in case the batting felts or shrinks. I'll just have to live with dirty hands and a mucky quilt for now…unless anyone can suggest ways of cleaning a quilt before it is finished that won't affect the batting?

A trick of the light:
the quilt isn't quite as dirty as the deep shadows suggest.