Thursday, 29 October 2015

October's Mini Mania

I have just completed my 'Mini Mania for October and I feel rejuvenated!!  Whether it is being creative for this challenge or whether it is my new Studio but I suddenly realised that I had got into a rut .

I started Patchwork and Quilting when I was living in Chepstow, back in the late 1980s (goodness 30 years ago) in the days when you could go to an evening class, for a nominal amount of money, and providing there were enough people learnt a great deal from inspired teachers.  Nowadays you have to pay a lot of money if you wish to take a course, even if you can find one within reach!

Our teacher Maureen, taught us the basics, and I mean the basics.  We started off making American blocks, using huge sheets of graph paper, drawing lines, measuring angles and then cutting out and gluing to card.
All cut to the right size
We also had a lovely little fabric shop down by the river where I became a regular shopper buying fabric for my blocks and starting my still extensive stash.  All the blocks were hand sewn and I now I know that I made one big mistake - see if you can spot it!!

Apart from the fact that some of them are different sizes because the pieces don't fit there is absolutely  no colour co-ordination!!  I discovered this when we finished all our blocks (only a small sample here!) and had to make this:-

3' square and the centre of the quilt
to try and bring all the colours together.  It didn't work and I discovered this squashed in a cupboard when I was setting up the Studio!!  Definitely a UFO and never likely to be finished.

We had to provide a portfolio of work at the end of each year in order to get further funding and here are some of the techniques that I learnt -
The colour circle and shades and tones of blue
Chromatic changes
Printing with leaves
The Christmas trees were cut from potatoes!!
We tried Markal which I still love because you can get so many different effects and shades on fabric.

I made up my own designs using different appliqué methods,

Very childish but I love it!!
I learnt free machine quilting using my own design (and doesn't it show!!)
Sewn from the back and using Madeira in the bobbin
The front - simply awful!!!
I must have been dragging it around because all the threads are pulled, there are knots and I prefer the back!!

Finally we did Silk Fabric Painting that I took to like a duck to water.  I cannot draw so had to draw my pictures onto the silk.
My first attempt and a very difficult design
A scarf using colour and salt thrown onto it, dried and then the design is drawn on
My own design but note the 'bleed' from the let hand leaf
All my nearest and dearest got scarves for Christmas that year!!!

Oh those were happy days, but like all good things came to an end when Maureen retired, the Local Council put there costs up and we no longer learnt but just did our own projects.  When I moved to my present house I did find an evening class to join, but after a few weeks I realised that I knew more than the teacher and left; I wasn't stretched at all.  However I did find Higham Piecemakers and have been a member ever since and I think I have found my niche.

Oh,  and I cannot show you my finished Mini Mania - it isn't the end of October so wait and see!  However I now have an idea for another 'Mini' if the group want it.

Friday, 23 October 2015

A Wedding .....

Just a short blog today because I have a very busy weekend but I just wanted to show off this group quilt.

As you know I belong to Higham Piecemakers and I have always gone to group on a Wednesday evening as I used to work. Since I retired I still go on Wednesdays because I have friends there and enjoy their company but we also have people who go to work and therefore they are younger which we welcome for their new ideas and the fact that our skills are being passed down to a new generation.

Hayley is the daughter of one of our Monday ladies, but when we heard she was getting married Jackie suggested that we make her a quilt for a wedding present. But what could we all make and what about the colour scheme and more importantly how could we make it in secret so that Hayley didn't find out. In the end we decided on a Log Cabin design made in cream and mauve with a centre square of orange, the latter to be provided to hold the whole design together.

We beavered away during the summer and Jackie put the whole quilt together and on Wednesday evening Hayley came in to group and we presented the quilt.
The photo is not quite mauve enough but you get the gist!
This morning I popped into St Marys Church in Higham Ferrers with some other members of the group and watched the marriage of Hayley and Andrew. A lovely wedding (though a little chilly standing about in the churchyard) with flowers in mauve, cream and orange.
The bride's bouquet
How did we know what colours her flowers would be? Well we have insider knowledge - one of our members is responsible for the church flowers every week, so brides discuss what they need with her!!

By the way, Hayley was thrilled with her quilt and had absolutely no idea that we were making it!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

At last ...

I hate living in a mess and my regular readers will know that I have been making some major changes in my house and as I lay in bed this morning, I thought "Why didn't I do this earlier" because already I have noticed some significant savings in my time and energy!!

I have been in the process of changing my small third bedroom from the general tip that it was -
Loads of 'stuff' under the bed
Lots of 'stuff' in the cabinet
and I have removed everything from it to start from scratch.  A huge amount of clearing out and a great deal of shredding of personal paper no longer required and I still have plenty to shred but I can do this at my leisure.  I have got rid of the bed, broken down all the old furniture, which was already falling apart anyway and put the old desktop computer into storage.  I have brought the printer downstairs and this was the most sensible thing I have ever done, because most of my computer work is done downstairs and I had to run upstairs every time to get anything printed!!  A no-brainer really.

Decorating took a few days, especially when I discovered I had forgotten to buy ceiling paint and had to rush out and get some!  After that it was just arranging for different people to do different jobs.  My wonderful next door neighbour who carried the heavy stuff up and downstairs, another friend who was providing me with some carpet underlay, the fitter who came on the right day to fit the carpet, and finally Mr T without whom none of the drilling would have been done and was quite brilliant, patient and helpful.

So here is the tah dah moment.........

Wait for it  ........

So a small 9' x 8' (2.75m x 2.44m) room has been transformed and all my craft stuff is now stored in one place and with some very simple alterations can be turned back into a bedroom when the grandchildren come to stay and will take two beds if necessary.

Everything came from Ikea - the wall storage units are Kallax, the tables are Vaddo and finally Erik 

who caused me more problems than everything else put together!  However I put all of these items together myself using my trusty cordless screwdriver and I am really pleased with the final effect and best of all, upstairs is now tidy and easy to walk around.

Now to get going with some sewing, the first item being Mini Mania for October, which must be applique and must have some orange in it.  I have an idea, the fabric and best of all the right colour sewing thread so lets get going.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Knitting and Stitching

Thank goodness for the Show.
As Higham Piecemakers were not making their annual trip I decided to go on my own. Very selfish not go with a friend but I wanted to go very early and return when I wanted so early Wednesday morning I set off in the car for the first day. Well the journey was slow because it was rush hour but I arrived just after opening time and what a difference that made. No crowds and I was able to walk around at my leisure and buy items which may not have been there a day or two later.

I needed to buy a special Christmas present so cannot show it to you, but I did buy a jelly roll for a workshop later in the week, another two balls of wool for another Road Trip Scarf for myself and had to prevent myself from buying items for my new studio (still not finished). However I left just after midday and got home far quicker than going to London.

Then to the carpet warehouse to buy an offcut for 'The Studio' and I phoned the carpet fitter to come and lay it later this week. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one as I feel that he may be the equivalent of 'falling off the back of a lorry'. His price was ridiculously cheap so maybe there is a lesson - well we shall see.

I was booked into a workshop at Poppy Patch for a workshop with Jan Hassard entitled 'Undulations'. However when I arrived I did not have enough strips and colours to make the Undulations quilt, so instead I started on Dazzling Diamonds.
Strips pinned to a board
I could not understand what I was supposed to be doing until suddenly I had that light bulb moment and will definitely have a go at the Undulations quilt because I loved the effect.

This morning has been spent putting my 2 Ikea flat pack storage units together and managed to complete this in about 3 hours. There was also time to start putting the small two drawer filing cabinet together and when I opened the box discovered that it had three drawers, which is NOT what I want so tomorrow I will return and exchange it. What a nuisance but not insurmountable!! Needless to say my language was ripe with myself for not noticing this!!!!

I have another busy week ahead, but am hopeful of good news by the weekend.  I will let you know.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Pedal power

If you recognise this you will know where I was at the weekend.  Yes, it is the Olympic Velodrome where my sons, G and M, with friend O had been given gift vouchers for an hours ride.  So with wives, children and me in tow we all met there for this exciting experience.
My three grand-daughters were very excited to look down on the course but we were even more excited when we were told we could go in the centre.  This is what it looked like for the 2012 Olympics (sorry - photo of a photo!)

 So down the stairs, under the track and then into the centre and the boys were having their first briefing -
G, O and M waiting to start
If you have followed me regularly you will know that M's favoured sport is Marathon running and cycling is only undertaken when doing a triathlon.  G rides regularly and loves his cycling (hence at the front) and I am sure that O will forgive me when I say he is completely laid back and only does sport to keep up with the other two!!

Anyway, not only was I taking my own pictures but M could not take his Go-Pro camera on his helmet on the track, so gave it to my grandson B to take movies!   I had charge of the laptop to see what he was filming - mostly his fingers or the roof but we eventually decided to fix it to the railings which seems to have worked and certainly freed me up a bit.
G leading O
Anyway G was beasting everyone on the track and at great speed, with O and M taking their own time, but it was great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

After a picnic where we saw cyclists having a race on the outside track, we went and watched youngsters on the BMX track warming up for some racing later on.  The little ones were going quite slowly but the older ones were already leaving the ground. 

We found a wonderful park that the children really enjoyed -

Don't children love water!!
and I went for a short walk trying to remember what it was like when I was there for the Paralympics.
The plants had certainly grown
The stadium in the background

Me taking a photo of myself reflected in a silver sphere
Watching the children I heard a raucous noise in the air and saw all these rooks circling a crane - is it their rookery in the centre of the city?

Finally we headed here -

where the children seemed to spend hours spending their pocket money in the Lego store and a shop I have never heard of before Smiggle.

The day was rounded off with a meal at Giraffe and so home.

Update on the work on my 'studio' - not my workroom I have been told.  I have spent the last two days decorating it, have bought storage units from Ikea, washed the old curtains and have arranged to borrow Mr T to come and help put up shelves etc.  It might be ready in three weeks - exciting!!

My 'Mini Mania' Log Cabin is finished -

It measures 10" all round
and I have been told what to do for October but may not be able to use my studio to make it.  Anyway ideas are circulating in my small pea size brain!!