Saturday, 28 September 2013

In the ditch (quilting)

is there anything that gets on your nerves purely as a matter of semantics?

I dislike referring to quilting along the seams as 'stitching in the ditch' I prefer 'sewing in the furrow' if euphemism is a must.  Now why am I so inclined, after all if you check for a definition of a ditch it gives furrow as an alternate.

I have been thinking it over, well there is the expression lying drunk in a ditch, the inference that a ditch is found at the side of a road and is full of dirty water.  So for me ditch is something that denotes a less than desirable thing.  A Furrow on the other hand makes me think of neat straight lines ploughed ready for new growth.  It is suggestive of progress and precision. 

Now that might sound a reasonable position from which to form my dislike of the term however more thought and a measure of honesty have brought me to the conclusion that there is a little more to it than that.

At a visit to a local museum some years ago there was a quilt display.  The quilts on display were a combination of patchwork and whole cloth.  Two women were quilting (on those newer z style standing frames) and were answering questions about the craft.  They were both whole cloth quilting and in the Durham quilting style.  The were obviously in both their tone and phrasing, disdainful of quilting 'in the ditch' and I think that the sneer in the way they said that phrase has stayed with me.

Now mostly I do use the seam line as a guide when quilting, occasionally in sympathy with the pattern I do something different.  Those ladies opinion did not change how I do my quilting, it just makes me dislike one of the ways commonly used to describe it.  Odd how our mind works.   

I have recently joined some quilting groups on Facebook and this term is used on a regular basis with no derision attached, yet each time I read it I think no, not ditch, furrow!  I wonder if repeated exposure to non-derogatory usage will fade away my dislike of the term, like fabric left in the sun or is the dye of that one disdainful encounter permanent?

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


I have a book on blackwork, by Lesley Barnett (title is Blackwork).  It has some amazing designs in it.  But none of the simpler patterns suitable for a beginner appealed to me.  Then I struck lucky and found the pattern for this blackwork stitcher, in a charity shop for £2.  At that price and this design how could I resist.  Now in general I am not a fan of back stitch and often contemplate if a design really needs it after I finish the cross stitches.  Invariably it does however, I find them a bit of a chore, necessary but not enjoyable.
So I expected that this would be slow going on the same basis as after all blackwork is lots and lots of back stitching. Quite the opposite, to my surprise it was quick, interesting and relaxing.  The only niggly bit was adding the goldwork to the dress and then just carrying the thread over at the back (oh Lesley Barnet does a book on that as well titled, yip you guessed it Goldwork).

So now I am on the look out for another blackwork pattern with an appealing subject.

Oh, I almost forgot, this design is Blackwork Stitcher by  X-Calibre Designs.  They do a Lacemaker as well so perhaps....

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sepia windmill (cross stitch)

This small design introduced me to a new concept of the half stitch. In previous patterns that meant taking the needle from the corner to the middle of the square for the first part of the stitch and then corner to corner for the second, making a triangle.

but for this pattern a half stitch is a full cross which takes up half of the square, either horizontally or vertically.

It helps smooth out angles and give sharper detail to the silhouette which is the signature of the series this windmill belongs to (Heritage Crafts).

I took this kit on holiday with me and got quite muddled with the half stitches down the side of the windmill. Sorted it in the end and although I like the result it is still waiting to be framed.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Two for a pound ? (cross stitch)

Have you ever seen the cross stitch patterns in pound shops and wondered if they are any good?

Well at two for a pound I could not resist.  I figured even if the pattern was not great I could use the  14 count for something. The chart was in colour, no symbols and although not many thread shades sorting out what was what was a little tricky as the illustration shades by no means matched the thread provided.

But at that price for a full kit, yeah needle as well it was surprisingly sewable and easy to stick in my bag for those little stitching opportunities. The other pattern? A country cottage is unlikely to get done any time soon.  Tried this so I would know however, many a project in line to be done before I go back to the 50p kit.

Lighthouse for 50p, bargain ?

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Postage stamp quilt.

This quilt was made from a bag of scraps from a clothing factory.  The fabric was from making blouses.  Blue, pink and white, each with a fairly large flower pattern.  The scraps were a combination of the pattern off cuts (the outer boarder) and thin short pieces, I presume edge off cuts, and some sleeves.  The bigger pieces had been cut into hexagons for a flower quilt (not feeling very chronological so will feature that quilt later) leaving little bits. 

I , as previously mentioned am a hoarder and to add to that I abhor waste so small or not fabric = quilt.

I find postage stamp rather relaxing as I do not worry about either matching up the colours or even the points on the blocks.  I like the random aspect.  Although admittedly working with more than one shade of the same pattern fabric does help bring it together.

This quilt was given as a gift to a family friend in appreciation of many years of support and friendship. Indeed the recipient attended my school play (infants) when my mother could not be there so I would have someone I knew to wave at.

Anne with the quilt I made for her.

Now she is a member of the little quilting group I facilitate, and currently she is working on a postage stamp quilt of her own.  Her quilt is destined for her granddaughter.  In keeping with the no waste philosophy (if not motto) of the group the scraps from that form the top for a dolly quilt to go with it.

Anne with the quilt she made

Baby size postage stamp quilt

I love the sense of continuity and community quilting imparts, dual function gifts, warmth for the body and warmth for the heart.  

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Last finished..

This is the latest kit I have finished.  I normally have at least two x-stitch projects on the go at the same time.  One of which is a kit so I can take advantage of the portability of a kit, everything you need in one place.  I like the piecemeal affordability of buying pattern, material and thread separately but hauling my thread storage bag about is not convenient for stitching on the move.  

Girl with Cosmos by Janlynn
This one was pleasant to stitch, although the pale colours in the dress did need a nice bright light to work with. 

I do have another kit to be going on with but I need to sort the colours out from the hanks provided in the kit.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Congratulations Karen !

My friend, a student nurse recently graduated.  I made this to celebrate and commemorate the occasion.

Nurse bear cross stitch

I spotted the toy bear just days before she graduated and thought it made the perfect companion piece to the cross stitch.

A crafted item does not have to be large to mark a memory.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

That lace making pinacle

You may be getting an inkling of my obsession with dragons.  For my mother it is owls and butterflies that fly most often delight her eye.

I make a things for my mother with that in mind.

This lace butterfly is for me the hardest and best piece of lace I have ever made.  It is quite small and required the smallest crochet hook I have ever seen to join some of the sections as it progressed.  

Made with very fine thread the danger of it snapping was a constant threat (which sadly happened more than once, requiring taking out hours of work to join in a new thread) and each picio (that is the loop bits on the edge required one of the working pair of bobbins to be unwound, hooked through, and rewound . 

There were times I though I would never finish and should never have started. 

And when I presented it to my mother, the ultimate compliment, she thought one of the experienced ladies at the lace class had made it! I was so pleased it did not look amateur, it took me months.