Saturday, 30 August 2014

local show 2014

Today is the local craft show, it is not a grand big show but still it is judged and that is always interesting.  There was a lot of changes to the classifications for entries this year.  A new quilting class, when before quilts were grouped into best sewn item, a class that has vanished.

I entered Roses for Helen and the quilt made from the yellow flowers and the bits left over from my uncles quilt, Little yellow flowers.

Roses for Helen
Little yellow flowers

A new class of , crafted animal in any medium was part of the reason Mr Giles Gentlemouse came into being and he also made the trip to the show ground yesterday.

Profile of Mr Giles Gentlemouse
It is always an odd moment handing in entries. My BBF and I have started a tradition, we go together to hand in our entries (this year that was a quilted bag and a small blue/grey camouflage quilt with FMQ) then we head off for a meal out after sneaking a glance at the other entries.

Over dinner we talk about the competition and what we might choose were we to judge, all the time knowing there will be other entries arriving after ours.  We try not to think of the safety of all that work and time as it spends the night under canvas even when we make delivery in the rain or like last night high winds.

Then the following morning (this morning) off to the showground into the tent, eyes peeled to see the results as soon as within distance...and there are cards, what colour means what this year, which item is it on?  All braced to act gracefully in defeat or victory (and make Rudyard Kipling proud IF he was watching).  Last year for me was all the former as nothing placed.

Mr Giles Gentlemouse winner and proud of it

This year, Mr Giles Gentlemouse did me proud and won his class.  Here he is with his winning notice tucked under his arm, looking rather pleased with himself.  Sorry it is a bit blurry I took it from a distance.

No snazzy trophy this year (cut backs) still a certificate from the Mayor and £10 prize money to follow in the post.

As for the quilted item, I could see from a distance that my friends bag and one of my quilts had cards , sadly neither were red.

Green for the bag, and yellow for the quilt.  A closer look and yellow is second and green third this year.

Quilted bag
Yellow trumps pink

So much, once again for my take on my quilts, I would have picked the pink over the yellow. The judges had a different opinion.

The winning quilt, I can almost hear you wondering, so here it is.  The purple one on the left.  I did better with second guessing the judges on this one.  This quilt was already there when we dropped of our entries and it caught my eye then.

Winning quilt

I had no cross stitch finish this year which was suitable to enter.  Perhaps next year .In an interesting twist there was a stall in the "selling" part of the craft tent with four different colour felt bears, three of which had sold by the time the competition prizes were given out.

Take a peek as my post Bear Evolution to see what they looked like and why it was amusing to see them today.

Monday, 25 August 2014

pyrography dragon two

The items I have previously completed and posted were created using my tool which has a variety of nibs but the only way to control the temperature is on and off and watching the time.

Wood burning Iron

Currently I have a long term loan of something a bit more sophisticated, with a temperature control.  So once I have it at the temperature I want it, it stays there till I change it.

Pyrography tool
So with something a little more consistent, time to try a slightly more complicated design, unsurprisingly for me that happens to be a dragon. I have had the wooden backed brush for awhile and have always intended the dragon to  be its embellishment.  The original design is from a council produced booklet to encourage tourism of the local area, it makes reference to a local legend (I will tell more of that another time as it features heavily in another project which is still a work in progress). Anyway the original design needed a tweak or two to fit the brush, I extended the tail and straightened out the curvature of it a bit.  

Dragon design taped to brush
Dragon design transferred to brush

I did the design out on greaseproof paper, put carbon paper underneath it and taped the two onto the brush.  There is probably a proper way to do this, but this is what I have.

Set to with the pyrography tool, not restricted to lines and not lines but able to add a bit of shading I am rather pleased with the end result. 

Design and finished dragon
Dragon brush finished

Snoozing dragon close up

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Wedding bag

My best friend got married in 2002 .(link to the wedding sampler)  We had a lot of fun with the plans for the year before.

One of the things we did to add the personal touch was make dolly bags for bride, bridesmaids and flower girls.  The bags were lined and made out of ivory satin to complement the brides gown.

Wedding bag
Dolly bag

Each bag had the initial of the recipient embroidered on it with a few beads (to reflect the beading on the brides stole).  The embroidery and beading had to be completed before the bags were made up and the placement had to be as precise as possible.

The thread used is Anchor Marlitt, I was familiar with it from one of my Christmas themed stitches.  It is slippery to work with but the results are worth it.  The letters were modified from a cross stitch alphabet

The drawstring were different colours of satin cord to co-ordinate with the participants gowns, green and lilac.

The bag pictured above is mine, and as such I did not do the embroidery on this one, my friend insisted on doing mine.  I did work on the other five, every one was pleased and they did the job on the day.
The bag below is the brides.  Amazing the difference to the colour the light the pictures were in makes to the ivory satin.  The same material was used to make the table cloth for the wedding cake table and a quilted handle for the bridal bouquet (which I, as the bridesmaid holding it for part of the service appreciated too).


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

My first ever kit (cross stitch)

This was a gift from my brother's then girlfriend .  She is a knitter not a cross stitcher and bought the kit because she knew I liked dragons.  The year before she bought me a pattern book with dragon, prince, castle, unicorn/ pegasus  ext, but the black red and blue symbols made my eyes spin and I did nothing with it.

Perhaps she thought with a kit I might be more inclined to get started on it.  She was right, however a Teresa Wenzler design noted as being for the experienced stitcher may not have been the ideal starting point for the reasonably novice stitcher I was then.

I set to and met the delights of fractional stitches, blended threads and confetti placement that is the hallmark of a T.W design.  I plodded away at it, got fed up with it bundled it away, started other projects, finished other projects and intermittently came back to it.

I used the wrong colour on a section, stared hard at that and decided it made it unique and left it be.  I think frogging would have been such a backward step it might have taken even longer than it did.

I got lost in the mountains below the castle, working from the left to the right.  Although I knew I had gone off by a couple of stitches I could not figure out where.  Another pause and another design variation decision, working from the right side I kept following the pattern till it bumped into the incorrect bit and stuck in a bit more green to fudge in the off pattern section.

At last only the backstitching left to do, ha! T.W does not let you rest there either, the instructions for that were huge with many a shade here and there.  I read it all carefully and then did what I liked with the backstitching as I just could not be bothered at that point. I am sure I have mentioned I do not delight in backstitching although I can appreciate the difference it makes.

From start to finish it took seven years.  You will have gathered by now that it is not unusual for things for me to take that long but still it was a long time in the making.

So to the framing, I had a very fixed idea in my head, I wanted the frame to be green in a shade that picked up the dragon and I wanted it to have a corrugated effect.  I looked and I looked and there was nothing.  Then a new addition to the congregation at church mentioned his occupation, a picture framer, joy.  He kindly brought me his trade catalogues to look at and there it was the edging from my mind made manifest.  He ordered the edging and made up the frame cut the mounts and everything . Actually he insisted, more than insisted,  on doing it all.  He asked for the finished item to be sure the measurements for the frame and mount would be correct and kidnapped it and returned it finished (and not for a Kings ransom either, he ever so kindly did it for cost). Previously I had bought a frame and perhaps a mount but then framed the item myself.  At the same time he did the T.Whe also did framing on a wedding sampler I had completed (that is a post for another day) and re-pinned an item I had framed myself (Nantucket Rose) both of which were started after the T.W and finished before.  Later I had him do the Disney cross stitch already mentioned on "be careful what you wish for" my posts are not particularly chronological as you may have noticed.

And there it was finished at last.  And here it is, I am sure you will have seen many versions of T.W's The Castle, this is mine, unique bits and all.

You will see later that it has been inspiring.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Out of pink comes yellow (quilting)

If you have seen the blog about the quilt made for my cousin you will recall I fussy/fancy cut the roses to maximise the pink and reduce the yellow.

Top pieced
Well that left bits with yellow flowers that, after some thought were the subject of their own fussy cutting.  There were not a lot of pieces nor were they big, but mixed with yellow left over from my uncles quilt there was enough to make a small lap quilt.

Something small enough to have another go at free motion quilting.  It had its moments, when I would forget my hands and not my foot controlled the speed and got some very small stitches.  Or trying to get the quilts bulk (small thought it is) through the throat of my machine.

All quilted
I am quite pleased with the result, possibly even pleased enough to brave it again.  I did better with the flowers on the boarder than in the middle of the quilt.  I expect because I had a little more practice by then and no seams to sew over.

Close up of free motion quilting


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Roses for Helen, a quilt.

I wanted a quilt which would go with my cousins new room. White and pink with a touch of green.

I found some material, white with pink flowers, I had intended to go to my comfort zone and make a logcabin.  However, once I took a better look at the material I decided there was rather too much yellow in it, as the pink flowers were accompanied by yellow ones. 

So still liking the pink flowers I decided to fussy/fancy cut them out and work out my quilt from there. They did not turn out to be friendly sizes with one bunch at 8 by 8" and the other 8 by 9.5"

As is my wont I made hard work of figuring it out, scribbling away on bits of paper till the light bulb went on. 

Laid it out and I was a patch short ( I forgot to count the middle) and realised I had inadvertently created a design review moment. I had intended to lay all the pink on pink squares with the stripes running top to bottom.  If I had made enough two piece squares that may still have been the plan.

Now I played around and wanted a solid square in the middle. I came up with two options

Lay out 1 dark pink to the edge

Lay out 2 light pink to the edge

I was a bit indecisive and asked opinions of friends, at work and on Facebook quilting groups, of course I ended up with an even split between the two options (and one suggestion I go with the colour of the carpet!) and had to make the choice myself after all. As you can see I went for the pink middle option.

Finished the middle section, added a thin edge (ironically it does look a bit like the carpet) then to add the corner flowers and a wider boarder. So to deciding what to use for the wide boarder and the backing, again it was either the dark pink or the light.

I spread them out laid the top down, snapped with the trusty digital and then made my choice.
 Looks better to me on the dark.

Dark pink

Light pink

mini quilt
                                                                                                                              I took a small break from the big quilt at this point and made a mini quilt with some of the scraps. It has gone to a friend at work (the recipient of all my other doll house size quilts so far) to share between her daughter and her niece.

It just felt good to get something finished at this juncture even if it was not the whole main quilt.

So enthusiasm refreshed back to the big quilt and got the dark pink boarders with flower corners attached.

Pink with boarders

I decided to quilt leaves onto the quilt, I made cardboard templates in two sizes and drew the design on using a washable felt tip pen.

Using white thread on the main part of the quilt and a thread matching the very darkest pink for the first dark strip and the leaves on the wide dark pink boarder. 

Quilt on the hoop

The upper leaf has been sewn, the one at the bottom is marked out waiting to be sewn.  used my 21" hoop for this!

As the wadding (batting in the US) is modern synthetic stuff I can get away with this fairly minimal quilting.  It makes quite a soft flexible quilt.

Hand quilting finished and a machine sewn line around the outer edge (of the dark thin border) on to the binding.  Back to the pale pink for that and a new method for me, use double the width of fabric, fold it in half, stitch the two cut edges to the front of the quilt fold over and hand sew the "fold" on the reverse.
My friend introduced me to it and this looked like a good time to start.

I was surprised just how much I enjoyed hand sewing the binding, I found it rather soothing.  Popped on a label (I have just started doing that, and retrospectively adding them to the quilts still in my possession) tossed it in the washing machine to remove the pen and it is finished.

Pink Quilt

Displayed on a double bed
Roses for Helen

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A taster craft

I did promise a patchwork of crafts and have been rather heavy on the fabric and needle side of things for a while now.  So a small patch of something different is called for.

For an activity in Relief Society, the Church's organisation for women, we were asked to bring a glass to "decorate".  A trip to the charity shop for something to use and two large glass containers with cork stoppers caught my eye, one for me and one for my mother they were just the thing.

Arriving on the night it was to discover we were learning glass painting.  A quick demonstration then it was time to design and paint.

The meetings last two and a half hours, that sounds like lots of time.  However, just trying to decide what to do eats into that.

My mother chose musical notes and I bet you will not be surprised to hear I did a dragon.

Castle on glass
Decorated glass containers
Whilst I rather enjoyed the experience and if we had another glass painting night I would attend with anticipation and plans for gift making,  it did not draw me into another craft.

Dragon on glass

Well not just yet anyway?

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Summer Post Card Hop

Hooray, I got my post card.  I don't know about anyone else but I love getting post, hard copy or via the internet.  I call them "love U's", even the ones that are just after my money. I like sending them too and one friend and I have been exchanging letters for many years.

So when Jo,  set away her summer post card hop and the chance to send and receive postcards I was delighted to join in.  Off went my postcard, picture and message and like a child awaiting Christmas I have excitedly looked forward to the day. (if the link here to Jo does not work, I don't do tech well there is a link to the left of the blog page that does work fine)

Today is the day, it is here, I have my wonderful post card which comes from  Nadine,  and to add to my delight its international.

So here is the postcard I received, breath in deep the scents of this garden, let the warmth and love  it exudes relax you and get sending Love U's of your own to brighten up peoples day the way Nadine just brightened mine.

Could write a book  ... but not in English.... on my garden !
So, just some lines :
Birds and Breakfast with fresh raspberry in a yoghurt ; all day long work and finish to accept wild flowers instead of my failed seedling.
Wheelbarrow race for our 2 years old grandson ; such good things like lavender, thyme, rhubarb for home jam (and chamallow brochette on the barbecue)
kids laughs and crickets songs ; kids mouth and hands covered with blackberries ; plants changing in jungle for playmobil ; four seasons of work and fun and
always something new to discover !

I had a same experience with the heron, more than 80 goldfishes eaten a year and came back for the two big adults it missed the following year !"Here are pictures of a DMC stitching I made a few years ago and of the garden.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Big yellow quilt

After my Aunt sadly passed away my Uncle and cousin downsized. My Uncle gave me a large yellow commercially produced "quilt".  I am sure you will have seen the kind I mean, only one layer of material which acts as the top with a wadding of sorts as the back and some quilting through the two.  It was very, very large.  My Aunt and Uncle had picked it for its cheerful sunny colour.

As it was now going to be to big for its original use he hoped I would be able to use in in my quilting. Perhaps just as a substitute for wadding.

It joined many another item in the loft while I mulled things over.  It would need to be a dark or heavy material for it not to show through.  Or perhaps yellow so it was enhanced.

That line of thought lead to OK make a yellow quilt, the next step was somewhat obvious make a yellow quilt for my uncle in a size he could use.

My original intent was to make it a quick pattern, big squares to sew up fast. Two shades of yellow in solids and one large floral pattern which includes shades of yellow.

It did not work out quite like that, I sort of complicated my basic nine patch plan with different sizes of squares.  The trouble with squares is well corners and straight edges, Have I mentioned having issues with corners and edges?  Well I do find them a challenge.   

Part way through the process I began to think perhaps the quilt would be a bit heavy with the yellow as the filling.  So I wondered, could I use it as both the middle and the backing with a binding?  Yes that would work, the original quilting was a double lines square pattern.  I made a cardboard template (cereal boxes are so useful) to add the flowers.

The yellow thread I used had an odd almost magical quality on the top of the quilt, it reflected the colour of each different patch.  It was from a bag of thread gifted to me, it came without labels so I have no idea what it was other than exactly right for this project and all used up by the end.  At some stage a mad idea began to make itself felt. To not use a binding but bring the backing to the front.  A lot of people don'e like self binding even when it is the normal thin backing material.  This was rather more cumbersome.  However I liked the idea of the "sunny" fabric with its memories being visible on the top.

So over it went,  and it expanded the size quite a bit.  The extra volume did make it trickier than normal.  I like it's subtle sunshinyness and have entitled it Sewn Sunshine Memory.

World cross stitch day 2014

A double WIP update for exactly the wrong day to mysteriously twist my wrist and get not a stitch done!

Just as well I managed a little something on both my ongoing projects earlier in the week.

For the floral offering I am still working the stem and lazy daisy stitch, with a little backstitching as light relief.  Considering backstitching is not one of the joys of cross stitch for me, that says a lot about stem stitch and LD.

As for the evenweave project, the most recent addition is not easy to see as it is ecru on well ecru!  Not sure if there has been some increase in the blue since last I shared this it progresses slowly but at least it moves on a little.

Ecru at the far right

Close up