A week ago today, our wonderful son passed away, after a 2year battle with bladder cancer. He was always so optimistic and faced everything that was thrown at him bravely. He had a wicked sense of humour and thought it great fun to creep into my studio and stand quietly behind me until I realised he was there, making me jump on many occasion.
It was shortly after he had launched his chocolate business that he was diagnosed. He kept going as long as he could producing some of the most delicious chocolates and truffles I have ever tasted. He was always thinking of the next recipe.
I never thought that he was interested in having a quilt until out of the blue, shortly before going to London as a chef, he asked when was I going to make one for him. Each block of the scrappy log cabin quilt made for him, was stitched with love to keep him warm whilst he was away from home.
He was the best son I could have had. A gentle giant with a huge heart. I will hold him in my heart forever.
I will be taking a break from my teaching for a little while, but will still be available for questions and advice by email.
Earlier in the year, I was asked by ClassBento , if I would design some patchwork projects for beginners. I am always up for a new challenge, and I love helping beginners, so this project was irresistible. After a bit of thought and head scratching the first of the kits and video series is now live.
I am so pleased to be able to show everyone the Everyday Tote Bag as it seems to have been under wraps for a little while.
It is a contemporary looking Tote in bold stripes. All the fabric in the kit is precut and comes with fully illustrated instructions which compliment the video series.
You can find out more about the kits on the website – Kits. I am looking forward to sharing the next project and will update the blog when it is ready.
Looking round my studio there are many pieces which I have created over the years.
One of my favourites is a textured 3D silk panel of a heron, The Dawn Fisherman
The panel was inspired by all the herons we see on our walks in the park behind our house. Pin tucks, smocking, shirring, pleats and quilting have all been used to create the picture.
The rock pool panel, shown above, uses many of these techniques along with prairie point Limpets. Starfish and shells complete the rock pool. It was great fun creating and teaching this workshop. Looking back through the textiles I have made over, I was going to say the last 30 to 40 years, but then realised that it is over my lifetime, has made me realise how my work has changed. From designing knitting, cross stitch and blackwork patterns, Stitched paintings to teaching hand and machine embroidery and patchwork & quilting. I feel that my love of textiles has only become stronger over the years.
Yesterday I had a moment when my sewing machine stopped working, mid seam. Slight panic ensued as I went round the house trying to find out which fuse had blown – Nothing. Back to the machine, still not working. Was it time to get the replacement I had been thinking about for a year? Unfortunately – No. When setting up the studio for teaching on Thursday, I had moved the machine slightly and the power cable had become loose. Such a simple fix and I was back in action. I wish all fixes were so simple.
As we have not been able to meet in person this year, I have been teaching via zoom. It has been a whole new world of technology to get to grips with. It has been an eye opener to how we can all remain connected even when distance and a pandemic keep us apart. I have been working on a new version of the Ambleside Quilt alongside my students, demonstrating sections using screen mirroring. This lets me zoom in on sections and show close up sections of quilting and piecing. However, I upgraded my equipment and am now experiencing lag between them. I have spent quite a long time at the computer trying to find a solution but the explanations seem to be written in a foreign language. I am sure though with a bit more research I will find an answer.
Sometimes we need to let a problem percolate in our minds to come up with a solution, and this has been the case with the blocks for the Ambleside quilt. It is a large quilt and so I have decided to divide it into sections and quilt as I go. I debated, with myself, whether to have a coloured backing so that the quilting would not be obvious on the back of the quilt, but finally decided that I would embrace the quilting patterns that appear. I could have used a white thread on the spool and the coloured thread on the bobbin, but this may have given pin pricks of either colour on each side.
These are some of the blocks I have been quilting this week. Usually when I have finished piecing a quilt my mind moves on to the next project, almost forgetting that there is as much work to be done to quilt it. Quilting as I go, completes the quilt in sections and my mind won’t wander onto the next project – I hope.
Now to join the sections together and add the borders. Much more fun than trying to sort out computing problems.
How the year has flown by. It will soon be our granddaughter, Robyn’s first birthday. I have been on a mission to complete another cloth book for her. Last year iImade the Animal Friends book by Kids Quilts for her. She enjoyed playing with it so much that I chose another of Kids Quilts patterns – Farmer Joe’s Quiet book, for her Birthday present. Yesterday it was still all in pieces but with a concerted effort it has been completed in time for the weekend.
The front cover has a big red barn, and when you open the doors cheeky farm animals are revealed.
The counting and shape page, each with detachable animals and shapes. I have added crinkle paper to each of the detachable items for more sensory fun.
The flower page has a button hole and the bee hive will have a popper. Along with the zip pocket on the back cover and laces holding the book together there is lots to explore.
I am going to start with an apology to all those who have subscribed to my blog for the radio silence of the last couple of weeks. It probably appeared that nothing was happening the studio but this is far from the truth. I was asked to produce some kits and classes to introduce patchwork to compete novices. Introducing new students to patchwork & quilting is a passion of mine, I love seeing them fall in love with the craft and watching their skills grow. However this meant that normal work in the studio had to take a side line. Things will get back to normal in a couple of weeks when the kits go live. I will be able to post more about this project then.
I did manage to add some more to the sketchbook I am making following Laura Kemshall’s sketchbook challenge course. The second lesson was to add colour to the pages. I started with acrylic but think that I have added too much. It is going to be interesting to see how these pages change as more layers of colour are added.
This is not the only sketchbook I will need to work on over the next month. The date for the Festival of Quilts is getting closer and I will need to start work on a quilt soon if I want to enter this year.
I will have to try not to take on any more new projects.
Having had a busy couple of weeks, writing patterns, recording videos and preparing new projects it was lovely to spend time in the garden and on my allotment. The daffodils are providing a lovely splash of colour and it took all my will power not to cut a few for the house. This is their first year and I want to let them become really established before I take any.
However, a couple of week ago in my modern quilt group zoom meeting, one of our members showed us how to make fabric tulips. If I am not going to pick my daffodils this year, I can make some fabric flowers.
I used batik fabric for the flower heads and plain craft cotton for the leaves and stems. The stems are a piece of wooden dowel covered with fabric. Found turning the fabric tube the most fiddly part of making the tulips and will be researching easier methods before making more.
I am very pleased with how the tulips turned out and I have placed the vase so that I see them every time I look up from my computer. It certainly has brought a small piece of Spring into my studio.
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The zoom classes for the Ambleside quilt have been going well and it is now time to think about the quilting. Some quilts have to be quilted when all the piecing has been done and the quilt top is complete. Others, like this one, can be divided into smaller, more manageable pieces for a domestic sewing machine. This is called quilt as you go.
Each of the blocks are quilted and then the quilt assembled into the finished pattern.
As I am not a great fan of lots of loose ends to tie in, I like point to point, continuous line quilting. The picture below shows the start and end point for the quilting. I only have the four threads to tie in and I managed to start and end at the same point.
I have chosen to quilt in the same colour thread, (King Tut by Superior Threads, Red Sea – 926) on both the front and the back of the quilt. This is to prevent any small pin points of colour showing on either side. It also shows the pattern on the block and adds interest to the back of the quilt.
Perhaps this needs to be renamed this quirky quilting. What do you think?
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The last couple of weeks have gone by in a flash, The weather was quite mild for a while, so I took the opportunity of spending some time at my allotment. I am still harvesting carrots and parsnips and am starting to plan this years crops. I was very surprised to see my small peach tree in flower. We are still getting early morning frost, so it will need protecting for a few more weeks. There are signs of Spring everywhere. I planted daffodils around the fruit trees which are starting to show. They are a favourite flower at this time of the year bringing a welcome splash of colour on dull days. It is important to spend time outdoors but there are times that I wish there were more hours in the day.
When I have been in my studio it has been for zoom classes. I have enjoyed keeping in touch with everyone via the wonders of the internet, but am looking forward to getting back to teaching in person as well. It has been lovely to meet people from all around the country and to share my patterns and techniques. The Newlands table runner day was great fun and the runners looked fabulous at the end of the session.
Lynn shared her finished runner which compliments the colours in the room perfectly. I love her quilting patterns and the purple accent borders.
After the disappearing four patch block zoom lesson, Janet made these striking pillows. One of the most pleasurable parts of teaching is to see what is done with the techniques and patterns from the classes. The pillows are just beautiful, and look very welcoming.
This week saw the third lesson in the Ambleside quilt course, and the quilts are starting to take shape. It was lovely to receive an email today with a photo of Sally’s blocks. It is going to be a stunning quilt.
The backing fabric for the block swap quilt has now arrived. So this week I plan to get it layered up and to make start on the quilting. I also have a few ideas for some new patterns which need fleshing out. I can see that if the weather keeps improving I am going to be torn between spending time in the garden and allotment and in my studio.