My Soul is fed with needle and thread
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October 2012
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Thought Stalking

October 29, 2012   

Have you ever been stalked by a thought, or an image, or a half formed plan? Some months ago I saw a block of a yacht and had a half-cocked idea for a quilt but the block itself didn’t really do it for me, it had no sense of movement and wasn’t very yacht-like, so the idea didn’t progress further than that initial “hmmmm” moment.

However since then I have been stalked by images of yacht’s, not just the real thing at sea or on lakes but wherever I go, in stained glass, in shop windows, in magazines or on fabric, toy pond yachts on window sills in houses I pass (not one but several in a single week), postcards, even in a bag of Haribo sweets, and a shower curtain.

Am I being stalked or are Yacht’s simply ‘on trend’ at the moment, either way I think I need to work out my thoughts in fabric. What is a Yacht without billowing sails, a floating gin palace; a glorified floating caravan? My Yachts must have wind in their sails, and movement in the block, I don’t want the quilt to represent a flat calm, but I’d rather have a brisk breezy day than stormy weather.

Goth, Emo, Mosher?

October 22, 2012   

Young people object to labels, as applied to themselves, they will tell you they are independent free thinkers, unique and not following anyone else in their choice of clothes, music etc and yet to the aged observer there are types and styles which are identifiable to those young people more easily than to the uninitiated. They seem within their friendship groups to be wearing uniform. Do you know the difference between a Goth, Emo and a Mosher? No, neither do I, but they all wear gloomy clothes and dye their hair black, choose black over any other colour, and don’t laugh much (well that’s just a personal observation, it’s like a season ticket to depression).
My Dear Nephew, that sweet boy with the gappy teeth, is now a grown man, he lives in a bedroom painted black and grasshopper green, and yes it really is bright green. The lovely Appliqué star quilt I made him when he was 6 no longer meets his colour preferences, so my mother made him a new quilt a couple of years ago inspired initially by Amish quilts,but also by the neon bright colours and black that he was wearing then and the chequered patterns which were popular.

Out of the fabric that was left when this one was completed my mother managed to make a similar smaller one for my Stepdaughter who was going through her ‘dark’ period too, thankfully she has left her inner Emo behind.
As for my Nephew I hope he will shortly leave behind his black period and escape both his bedroom and his computer games, and seek the daylight.

In only half an hour

October 21, 2012   

My Dearest often complains about stray threads on the carpet, and I have to admit that when sewing I tend to put threads in a little heap on the nearest surface meaning to sweep them into the bin later. My threads and fabric trimmings have a tendency to creep and float, catch a lift on clothes and end up anywhere but where I put them. I’ve been meaning to find a suitable bin to put wherever I sit to sew and recently came up with a solution.

This is something I think a saw in a magazine years ago, long before Pinterest , maybe even before I had a PC, I have no idea who to credit with the original idea.





I recently emptied this container for in-wash stain remover, but it could just as easily have contained mini flapjack or millionaire’s shortbread. I rubbed the surface over with a wire scouring pad to roughen the surface, and spread the surface with PVA glue, using a finger.

Then I used fabric scraps cut with pinking shears which have been sitting in a drawer for years since mail order fabric buying relied on receiving actual samples through the post to choose from rather than choosing from virtual reality fabric in on line shops. I stuck each scrap on, slightly overlapping the one before, dabbing a little glue on the dry edge of the previous scrap to make sure the overlap stuck.
I now have a mini bin to sit on the corner of my work bench, in which to drop all those snips and threads, and it only took half an hour to complete start to finish, though probably years in the incubation of the thought.

On the subject of Yellow

October 21, 2012   

What a beautiful day we have had today, the sun shining in a clear blue sky and the forecast for 12 degrees was well exceeded; it must have been nearer 20 degrees in Bowness. We drove up the A6 from Lancaster and through the Lyth Valley to Bowness, and then walked along the Lake edge path to the marina, and the Windermere ferry. We had hoped for Autumn colour and were not disappointed, but more than that it was a perfect day, mild climate, sun shining and not a breath of wind.

I took the opportunity to take more pictures as inspiration for the autumn leaves quilt I may one day get round to making.

I also enjoy taking pictures which I think of as ‘studies in colour and texture’, others which I mentally categorize as Quilting designs, and others which might one day become studies for pieces of work made for a City and Guilds qualification in needlecraft.

I’m not sure I will ever have the time or inclination to enrol on such a course of study but at the moment thinking about it and taking pictures of images which I find inspiring is enough for me.

Silk purse from a Pig’s Ear

October 20, 2012   

At the end of the summer term the 12 year old brought home his textiles project to be “finished”; not that he had any intention of finishing it himself; if I hadn’t emptied out his school bag it would have been slid surreptitiously into the bin when no-one was looking. What a pig’s ear, supposedly a peg bag, if I had been his teacher I would have been ashamed to let that out of the class room. Two pieces of fabric right sides together and stitched round a letterbox opening then turned out without snipping the corners, so there’s no way it would ever lie flat to be top-stitched. Consequently the top-stitching was a mess.
Then he’d corrected some stitching after putting the back on, stitching through all three layers, goodness knows how one would get the pegs in, or out again. It had lain in a sorry heap on the kitchen counter since I found it, not wanting to throw it out and yet despairing of ever getting him to complete the task.
On Saturday he had a friend over; in half an hour of ‘idle moment’ while waiting for his friend’s mum to arrive to collect him, and before dashing out to buy shoes, I unpicked this sorry excuse, restitched the letterbox opening, unpicked his wobbly stitches, snipped the corners, turned it out, and top stitched round the opening with a decorative stitch.

On returning home with shoes, (success, managed to get a 12 year old boy to town, shoes tried on and said shoes bought, admittedly identical to the last pair just a size larger, without recourse to begging or promising fast food as an inducement), I added another decorative border and stitched the back on. The hanger needs to be wrapped with ribbon to make it look nice but, it might make a suitable gift from a small boy to an aged relative, and Christmas is coming.
I suggested he take it to show his teacher, that idea did not go down well, maybe I’ll just e-mail her the link to my site, or maybe not.

Fibonacci and the Quilt Police

October 19, 2012   

Inspired by the wonderful work of Ricky Tims, based on the Mathematical theorem of Fibonacci, I was inspired to have a stab at one of Ricky’s quilts; the first attempt was for a gift, a cot quilt for a friend who was expecting her first child. I was so pleased with it when it was finished it, that I could hardly bear to part with it, but still, it was made for Eric, and so to Eric it was given. Eric now prefers aeroplanes, so it lives in his parent’s room, hanging on the wall. Can’t argue with that!

This is my second attempt, in Fossil Fern fabrics. I have to say with this particular design, accuracy is all. Many people will tell you they are not members of the Quilt Police and it’s OK if your points don’t meet. I am a paid up member of the Quilt Police, points have to come to a point, seams need to meet where they are supposed to meet, and I will unpick and try again, once, even twice, but after that I will embrace imperfection and move on; life is too short, and only God is perfect. I can be relaxed about points and joins in some Quilt patterns but if you are working to a pattern, inspired by a 13th Century mathematician, then surely to goodness, accuracy is absolutely the point. (Fibonacci’s 1202 book Liber Abaci introduced the Fibonacci sequence to Western European mathematics).

Look closely at my joins, I did my absolute best to make sure every point and join met as neatly as I could, mostly that was achieved by careful planning and pressing of seams to make sure every seam butted neatly with the next.
It looks very complex to achieve but actually, provided you give it your full and undivided attention, it’s very simple to make, take 4 equal size squares of fabric, stitch two together,then the other two and laying them side by side you simply cut each strip incrementally larger from the centre to the edge and then interleave the narrowest strip from one pair with the widest from the opposite edge of the other pair, and so on till the centre strips are of equal width, stitch together, press, turn by 90 degrees and do it again.

I do mean full and undivided attention, don’t have the TV on in the background, don’t be talking to a friend, don’t be singing along to the radio, and for goodness sake don’t be stewing about a row you’ve had, or some other cause for irritation, that way disaster lies. You need to be in a Zen like state of calm concentration when cutting each strip, as any mistake is very difficult to retrieve.
If you want better instructions, it’s a Ricky Tims’ quilt design, I recommend you check out his website (see below) and consider buying one of his books on the subject, where he gives excellent guidance and many more interesting projects.

click for Ricky Tims site.

There’s Plenty More

October 14, 2012   

My Favourite Quilt

My Favourite quilt, the one I’m most proud of, the one which hasn’t yet been washed, and the one no-one is allowed to sit on, is called “There’s plenty more”.  I collected together scraps of almost every fabric in my stash and my mother’s, it even has a contribution from a friend, who began a dress and never finished it, back in the 1980’s.

I cut a simple triangle out of them, and then sorted them from lightest to darkest; in order to shade the quilt from dark in the centre to light at the edge, what represented “light” in the centre would be a “dark” at the edge. I made 4 columns of the cut triangles, from darkest in the 1st column to lightest in the 4th, then broadly speaking working from the centre of the Quilt to the edge I began matching the fabric in the first column to the fabric in the 3rd.  By the time I reached the edges the fabric in column 3 which had been used as ”light” now  represented “dark” .

so many happy memories

In the quilt is fabric from that favourite dress I wore when I was eight, (see “ There’s nothing new about recycling”), there are also fabrics from the 60’s , 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, just looking at the centre, I can see the remnants of clothing  worn by myself, my sister, my mother and my niece, there are Liberty fabrics, a blouse here, a pair of Capri pants there, Laura Ashley dresses, patchwork packs once sold in the shops, when Laura Ashley was still alive and encouraging hand -made crafts. My Niece’s little baby dresses, shorts I made for her to match my own. Each time I look at this quilt I see another fabric memory, not just of the individual garments they came from, but where we were and what we were doing when we wore them.

Does that mean I need to go scuba diving?

October 13, 2012   

Having been woken for a cuddle by the 12 year old, who had subsequently departed to play shoot ‘em up video games on his PC, I was lying awake this morning listening to my Dearest snore when suddenly he spoke. I always know when he is dreaming about work because he speaks in a loud authoritative voice which I think of as his Boardroom Voice, “Cherry, does that mean I need to go scuba diving to collect it?” it’s not often one enjoys a good belly laugh in bed but I roared with laughter, imagining my beloved in a wet suit was enough to make me laugh out loud.
I nudged him awake with a sharp elbow to the ribs, saying “you don’t need to go scuba diving Love…… And who’s Cherry?” He rolled over and smiled, I got a cuddle but no answer, “Who’s Cherry?” not that I’m jealous at all, just curious. “Gerry” he replied finally, “I was talking to my Boss Gerry, I was driving up the motorway in the Volvo” (we don’t have a Volvo, sadly) ” when I hit a shopping trolley and crashed the car, a lorry came to collect the wreck, but a man was throwing bits of the Volvo into the River Ribble” explain that if you can!


We used to have a Volvo, I loved that car


Plaid Star Quilt

October 12, 2012   

This quilt is a group effort in that it was a “block of the month” challenge of my local quilt group. Each month a block pattern is given to group members with palette and fabric type instructions. At the following month’s meeting members contribute one or more blocks each with their name pinned to it. The names are put in a hat and a name drawn out, the winner gets the blocks. It is a good way of keeping your hand in and trying a block pattern without being obliged to make an entire quilt. If you don’t fancy winning the blocks, don’t put in a block, or don’t put your name on it. If you do want to win contribute more blocks to increase your odds.

still looking good

I won this set of blocks 13 years ago, and made it up for my nephew; he was 6 then and as you can see very pleased with his quilt.

It’s a well loved quilt, by which I mean it is soft and cuddly from washing and use, a little tatty and ragged in places, and I have done a couple of repairs while I had it back from him to photograph . Nevertheless it’s still looking good. It’s a good choice for a quilt for a man, and could incorporate old shirts to personalise it.

I loved that skirt

I incorporated left over fabric from a favourite seersucker madras skirt I made for myself which I wore till it became too faded and tatty.

Had Dad finished with that shirt mum?

Another fabric my mother used may be an old shirt of my dad’s. I suspect most fabrics were new scraps leftover from other projects. The only fabric I bought was the backing and the border. The border fabric looks good but the weave was rather loose, and may not wear as well as I would like but is wonderfully soft, and the colour works well with the disparate fabrics of the donated blocks.
The quilt is now in honourable retirement, my nephew is 18, his current taste requires bright primary colour blocks and lots of black, but that’s another quilt and deserves its own post.


October 10, 2012   

I don’t do yellow, not in clothes or shoes, home ware, cars, I cannot get on with it at all and would not welcome it in any form, you won’t even find much of it in my garden….. and yet I love Autumn, when the leaves begin to turn I just want to be out in the fresh air, kicking up fallen leaves and enjoying God’s Creation.

I have a good collection of hidden yellow fabrics in my stash, because I have long nursed a plan to make an Autumn leaves quilt using every colour of Autumn:- sulphur yellow , cherry red, crimson, flame, burgundy, bright-bright Orange (another colour to which I won’t give houseroom ) and various shades of brown from chestnut to mouse. All made with a hazy blue background as if seen from beneath the tree on a cloudless blue sky. I think I need Maple leaf blocks of varying sizes to replicate Acers in Fall, they come in so many shapes and colours that I think it will work. In the mean time it feels as if I have a guilty secret, that part of my stash which never see’s the light of day, and if I do come across it by accident while looking for “Just the right fabric” , those pieces are slung aside with disdain like an unloved child.

I don’t do yellow.

But thank goodness Mother Nature does.