My work has appeared in…

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Making under the radar…

Although I haven't posted much lately, there has been a lot of making going on around here. Much of it has been for magazines, so I can't put that up on the blog, but there has been some personal making too.

Whenever I'm in the midst of embroidery projects, which is what I've mainly been doing for the magazines, I like to counterbalance this with more robust, or monotonous makes that don't require too much thinking and fiddliness. Knitting socks, and hand quilting my blue and white quilt tick both boxes on that front. I'm losing count of the number of pairs of socks I've knitted recently. I have one pair currently on needles, three pairs ready to be worn or wrapped up as Christmas presents, and at least another two pairs that are being worn – there may be more. I'm in danger of turning into a sock factory.

When it comes to mindless sewing, nothing compares to the blue and white quilt, you can just about see it's reverse in the background, behind the socks. I absolutely love the slow rhythmic action of hand quilting but progress is slow, especially when stitches are small. I've spent many evenings sewing into the small hours yet barely a quarter of the quilt is quilted. Sometimes I wonder if the quilt isn't bewitched, and actually grows when I'm not working on it, or perhaps elves come in at night to unpick my stitches!

So this scarf was a gratifying make. It's made entirely from stash, tweed leftover from a quilt I made a couple of years ago, with a blue velvet backing salvaged from a ripped dress. It took all of four hours to make and much of that was pressing – result!

Tweed is one of my favourite fabrics (I much prefer woven to printed fabrics) but it can be itchy and is definitely costly so I saved these scraps until I knew what to do with them. A velvet backed scarf was just the thing.


Friday, 20 October 2017

Pretty Patches…

I'm in the November issue!
Just like buses, no posts for ages, then two come along at once, albeit a short (blink and you'll miss it) one. Here's one of my makes in Pretty Patches magazine, if I get it back in time, I know just who to give this to for Christmas. If not, I have a new bag!


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Sewing World Magazine…

I've been too quiet here recently, but I've been busy elsewhere. The lovely people at Sewing World magazine asked me to write a series of articles for them, the first of which appeared in their September issue, with 5 more to follow.

September issue

The series is all about encouraging slow, creative sewing and covers subjects ranging from using recycled fabrics, telling stories with stitch, to learning about composition and colour to making the most of simple stitches. The articles have enabled me to have fun with trapunto, mola, pojagi and boro style sewing but I'm saving my current favourite technique of needle lace for last.

October issue

I was flattered to be asked to contribute as I genuinely rate the magazine highly. There are the usual crafty makes and practical tips of course, but what really sets Sewing World apart from other magazines is that it is so far-reaching. It looks at sewing and textiles in general, both from a trend-led point of view and the history of the subject, and every month includes a full-size pattern for a garment – this alone makes it fabulous value for money!


PS: With one article left to submit, the Knit & Stitch show over, and work generally calming down, I should soon be able to get back to my own slow stitching and blogging about it too.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Knitting and Stitching show 2017

I'll be teaching a few workshops at the K&S show this year. It's the third or fourth time I've done it and the nerves are still as bad as ever. Most of my workshops are booked up but do say hello if you're passing. In the meantime, here's a little animation to whet your appetites for what's in store.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Two things I've learnt about thread…

There has been progress on my blue and white quilt, I've put the sandwich together and have started hand quilting. This will take forever, as it's the sort of task that only gets done when a) there's no other sewing to do, and b) when it's cool enough for me to sit under a mound of padded fabric without melting. So far, I've managed 11/2 square foot of quilting, which is about a tenth of what still needs to be done. I'm aiming to get it finished by Christmas but I'm not saying which one.

For my motif, I've chosen an abstract acorn pattern as the house is not only surrounded by oak trees, but the estate is named after them. Shortly after we moved here, all the acorns fell to the ground (not in protest at our arrival) which made walking treacherous and had a huge effect on my choice of footwear, clogs off, sturdy boots on. I wanted to suggest a similar look to a floor covered with acorns, and, rather conveniently, my quilting hoop proved to be the perfect template for an oversized acorn pattern—how's that for luck*.

When I first took up patchwork, I had a go at free motion quilting but didn't get on with it, I like the look of it but not the doing it. Likewise, it would be churlish of me to pretend that I don't admire exquisite machine quilting (the sort that reminds me of patterns on custard cream biscuits) because I do.  Again, I just can't do it. I would have to spend so much time practicing to reach any kind of level of competency that I'd be happy with this would leave no time for anything else. So a hand quilter I shall remain!

Which brings me to the title of this post. I have sewn for a very long time and yet I know diddly squat about needles and thread. I am not a tech head and couldn't care less about the type of steel my needles are made from or the carding process for thread.** I fail on so many technical levels and am driven mainly by aesthetics, sometimes they coincide but usually it's by accident rather than design.

So, when I realised that thread can be loosened from a reel of cotton (like the one in the photo) simply by twisting its head, it was as if I had discovered penicillin—this is technical stuff don't you know! The second thing I learnt is what a huge difference quilting cotton makes. Out of habit I use it, but I've never really questioned why, I just blindly use it because I was told to. Yet the other day I sewed with what I thought was quilting cotton but the end result wasn't the one I was used to—no lovely puckers where the sandwich is pulled together. When I turned the spool round to read the label I realised this was ordinary sewing thread, not quilting cotton. The realisation that there really was an actual difference astounded my Whinnie the Pooh like brain.

What can I say, I'm a slow learner. What some quilters learn on day one of quilting has taken me many years to absorb. But it has made me think: maybe I should try experimenting with different needles for a comparison of their technical attributes instead of just choosing the one I can shove the thread through. Maybe there is a corner of me that is hungry for technical knowledge after all. Maybe?


* I swear it was this way round: idea first, followed by a stroke of luck that the hoop was the ideal tool to realise it, and not, what can I do with the hoop as I'm too lazy to work out another pattern!

** However, I did see this great video on youtube.