Monday 22 December 2008

Merry Christmas

It's been quite a busy time here getting cards and presents done but finally I can relax and do some stitching without deadlines looming. I decided to get my cousin's daughter a subscription to National Geographic for Christmas but as it takes a while to come through I couldn't go over with nothing on Christmas Day so made her a quilted padfolio inside which I will put a note about the real present.

Also for her brother and his partner are the obligatory Thorntons chocolates and fudge in a box.

I really like these boxes, they are quick and easy to make and can be made with almost anything.

The other thing that has kept me busy has been a mammoth dyeing session. I managed to get a good variety of fabric done although unfortunately the velvet was a complete disaster which was a shame as it was the last of my roll.  Ah well, not everything works out as planned. After the New Year I will be doing the Pass it Forward blog for anyone who would like some hand dyed fabric so keep viewing. I am on nights on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day so it won't be until January 2nd probably. I must admit that I am not looking forward to New Year's Eve as it is the busiest night of the year for us, the phones ring incessantly, on the up side though it does tend to pass more quickly than the usual shifts.  Here is a little preview of some of the fabric that did dye well.

I have taken up the Black and White challenge this year which is to make a quilt in black and white and one colour. I paid a visit to my local quilt shop last week and got myself some lovely fabric as my stash is sadly lacking in black and white. I have been thinking of doing a series of 'daisy quilts' using Photoshop to manipulate the images. That is my other main challenge this year, to become really proficient with Photoshop.

As this is likely to be the last post before Christmas I wish all my blogging friends a very happy Christmas and a peaceful 2009.

Maggi     xx

Sunday 14 December 2008

Something to share

I have had some lovely arrivals lately that I would like to share with you. Firstly I ordered two of Virginia Spiegel's 'Peace' series works which arrived very promptly and are lovely. I keep finding different things in them. She has a special offer on these until December 31st so do check them out as well as her other work.

I also received some hand painted fabric from Donna as part of a Pay It Forward 'swap. These are lovely and I already have some ideas whizzing around about how to use them.

I will be inviting readers to partake in this at the beginning of the new year when I will be offering some hand dyed silk and velvet once I have had a dyeing session. The following pics are samples of some that I did quite some time ago, just to give you an idea.

I have just noticed that the velvet does not show up too well in the photo so have scanned it as well.

I have also had the result of my OU course, some of you may remember that my stress levels rose at the beginning of October in anticipation of the exam. The stress was worth it as I passed, no Distinction this year but I was not expecting one as I had to miss out on one of the assignments due to illness. Now just have to make the most of the next 9 months until I start the next course in October - Greek Literature in Translation. This course involves learning Ancient Greek!!

I almost forgot to mention, do check out the Charms for Charity Contest link on the right. It does not require anything creative, just a little time cutting up six 5" fabric squares and mailing them to Canada, with the added incentive that you may win some squares back. I sent some off last week and it hasn't even made a dent in my stash!

That's all for now as I have to go and start making Christmas presents so that I can hopefully get them finished before Christmas Eve this year. Will try and post again before Christmas but if not I hope that you all have a happy and stress-free time.


Wednesday 10 December 2008

An epiphany?

I was working on a challenge quilt for TQS when I realised just how much I enjoy working with fabrics. I have been doing so much lately with mixed media which, when used on fabrics, really changes the feel of the fabric and quite frankly does not make them enjoyable to stitch. I also began to feel that my individuality is suppressed when working on some of the techniques in earlier blogs and what I end up creating begins to look so much like everyone else's work. I have decided that from now on I will concentrate upon creating pieces that are primarily fabric. The other techniques that I have acquired will not be wasted as many of them lend themselves to gift making.

The quilt that I have just finished is in memory of my two beautiful cats, Heathcliffe the larger one and Fawzi the little one. They were such good pals and both died in December months. The background is strip pieced and heavily quilted with the window frames and the cats appliqued afterwards. If you look carefully in the bottom right corner you can just see a robin behind Fawzi - he never was a very good hunter, always waited for Cliff to bring things in for him to play with. Cliff was a prolific hunter but never never killed anything except once when he caught a rat - was I grateful that he didn't bring that one in alive!

These are my two boys in real life. Cliff having taken over the old Landrover and Fawzi as a baby.

Having bought some Moonshadow Mists and Ranger Paintsprays for my mixed media work I decided to try them out on fabric to see what sort of effect they would create. They have worked out quite well and apart from making the fabric only slightly stiffer I think it is a good option to use when I don't want to have a dyeing session. The effect of the Moonshadow MIst does not show well on the photos but it gives them a subtle shimmer. I tried it out on both Pima cotton and Kona cotton and was surprised at the difference in intensity. I don't know whether they would wash but as most of my works do not get washed it does not really matter.

Pima cotton

For some reason the server is not responding to the Kona cotton image so I will try to edit that one in later. In the meantime I now have to go to work. Only today and two night shifts and then no more until December 28th so lots of time to play.

Got home from work and blogger has decided to co-operate so can now post the image of the Kona cotton

Kona cotton

Monday 1 December 2008

Boxes finished

The boxes for the presents for this week are at last finished. One is for a very dear friend of 51 years and will contain the brooch that is so her. I did not make the brooch, it was bough at Chatsworth Country Fair back in August and I am afraid to say that I lost the maker's card. She is from derbyshire and makes the most beautiful felted jackets.

The other one is for a 50 year old male who I have known since he was 14 - now I do feel old. I am going to fill it with Thorntons chocolates, not very imaginative I know but what do you get men as presents. He is having a 'beer and skittles' party on Saturday at a local pub which is great as I really don't like parties very much. I used pre cut Grungeboard letters and shapes for the tops and the sides and quite like the effect. Next time I would use some stitching but I was pushed for time with these.

My priority for now is getting my Christmas cards made. I normally end up posting at the last minute but am determined to be more organised this year. Thank you to those of you who commented on the quilts in the previous blog. I am going to live with them for a month and then make a decision.

Friday 28 November 2008

I seem to have had little time for blogging lately although I have had time to catch up on what everyone else has been doing. I received an award from Micki for which I am very grateful and have decided to put it on the side bar of this blog. Thanks Micki, do go and visit her site, she does some lovely felting and quilting.

I have to pass this on so I am going to include, Donna who has just started blogging again but does some beautiful work. Carol-Anne who does the most exquisite embroidery. Geta whose shadow quilting has to be seen to be believed and she also has the cutest new kitten. Kathryn She does food which is mouthwatering. And finally Pippa who is so good at sharing the outcomes of her classes, inspiring others to take part. There is also another site that I have found thanks to Cheryl which may be of interest to quilters, it is called Quilter Blogs.I have not had time to really check it out but what I have seen looks real quality.

So what have I been doing of late apart from working? I have managed to have some disasters and some results that I am quite pleased with. I'll leave the disasters until last. I have managed to finish the little wigwam book from Maggie Grey's lessons and liked the result so much that I am in the process of making a couple of boxes with it. Hopefully they will get finished today. They will be housing presents that I have to deliver next Thursday and Saturday, weather permitting so I'll post them later.

The other interesting piece came as a result of an accident. I have enrolled for Textured Surface, an online class from Fibre in-Form and as the class was almost finished simply read through the notes - which, incidentally, are excellent. Right at the end came a paragraph on using MM metal effect paint and rust/patina activator. I had completely forgotten that I had a set of these lurking in the garage so decided to try them out on some quilting samples that I had done a while ago. I painted the samples with white emulsion first and then applied the paint and activator. It reacted far more than I remembered it doing previously but a wash of black ink and some Treasure Gold integrated it more. I now have two sample pieces which show some interesting texture and a piece that I have made into a book - I want to do a series of work on my garden so I might use it for that.

A word of warning - I had to stitch around the book by hand. I tried it on my machine and it just shredded the thread. So if you want to machine stitch - do it first!

I have started to add texture to the Hawk design that I am embroidering for my Sumptuous Surfaces course. It took me a long time to get going but in the end I decided to use one stitch and build up the layers in threads of varying weights. I have a long way to go yet but at least its on the way.

And finally to the disaster. Any of you who have been following this blog may remember that I did a couple of journal quilts a while back and was waiting to decide on the quilting before I finished them. Well I guess that I should not have bothered. I am reasonably happy with the first one but the second has far too much going on for my taste and is heading for the scrap bag. I remember Ricky Tims once saying that the quilting design should be planned as you go along and not left until the quilt is finished. I should have listened to him I think.

Monday 17 November 2008

ATC swap book

I have finally finished the little book that I am using to house all the ATCs received in the swap from Dale's class. It is only approx.  6" x 6" so is very easy to handle. Each card has its own page and I have added the name of the maker and where they are from. The photo was taken before I had added the information. I love it and it is a great reminder of a really friendly group of people. I have made a cord to fasten it with but have not attached it yet - too busy looking at it.

I also had a lovely post card from Miriam in Dublin on Friday for our Fabricard swap.

Back at work now for the next six days hopefully things will be quiet (that is tempting fate) and I can do some sewing when i get home or before I go depending on the shift.

Friday 14 November 2008

Medecins Sans Frontieres

Nothing from me today, just from Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Condition: Critical

Hundreds of thousands of people are on the run, fleeing a war that rages in eastern Congo, in the provinces of North and South Kivu. They are frightened. Many are sick or wounded. Others have been harassed or raped, or have had everything they own stolen. The people of the Kivus are in a critical condition. The destiny of everyone in this region is shaped by the war. The story of their struggle to survive needs to be told.

Starting November 20, 2008, MSF will help the people of the Kivus speak out through this web site.

Follow the link to the website  if you want to watch a very short video. 

Thursday 13 November 2008

Work in progress

Finally have managed to get time to do some more work on the book cover from Maggie Grey's online FREE lessons. The photographs have not turned out too well as it is grey and miserable here and even with the lights on the flash insists on coming out to play. At least they give an idea of progress so far. I still have the inside of the cover to paint and the pages to do but all that involves going out to the garage - no way that is going to happen today.

They are not quite as textured as they should be as the gesso I used was Windsor and Newton which is apparently not as thick as Daler Rowney - ah well it is worth giving everything a try as all have their own little quirks. At least it is a reference point for any further items.

I also decided that all the ATCs that I received from members of the Embellish, Stitch and Enrich group are going to be kept in a book as I don't have the space to keep them out on display otherwise. Another experiment from Textile Translations is going to be turned into the cover. This is the basic cover which still needs to have some stitching on it and then be assembled. Again problems with the flash.

I'm not sure where the time has gone this week. I do not seem to have stopped and yet can't see what I have achieved - there must be something there.

I had to go into work on Tuesday night to cover Derby's cup game against Leeds, fortunately no trouble at the match but then we were all kept on for an extra couple of hours on standby as a fifteen year old boy had just been fatally shot. This is not the centre of a big city, it is an area of Derby and, although there have been some gun issues lately, this is the first time that this has happened. Somehow, with the gang culture as it is, it was bound to happen eventually, just hope that there is not a backlash against it. What a waste of a young life though. I was listening to the radio this morning and various agencies were saying that there is just not enough for young people to do these days. What has happened where, as a society, our young people always have to have 'entertainment' provided for them and cannot develop an interest in things for themselves?

Right enough, I shall get off my soapbox now and go do some sewing that does not involve going out in the rain.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Paper cast stamps

I finally tore myself away from the new sewing machine yesterday and went into the garage which is set up for all my 'wet' work - no car allowed in here. I have joined in the free lessons that come with Maggie Greys new book, Textile Translations and although I have yet to start the first lesson proper I have been playing with the techniques. One is to make paper cast stamps and advises using water soluble paper. I had not got any to hand but did have the two layers of paper napkin left over from embellishing the top patterned layer for ATCs so decided to us them. They worked really well so now I don't have to worry about how to recycle the left-over layers.

I also had a session creating painted backgrounds for Sharon's Studio Journals course which involved a watercolour wash and cling film. 

We also had to do one with salt to create additional texture. I have used salt before when dyeing silk and cotton but I must admit I was dissapointed with the effects on paper.

Finally I have also enrolled on Sharon's Sumptuous Surfaces  course which is designing for hand stitching. As we cannot post images on the Forum for that course because of a glitch I will add a couple of ideas that I had. I wanted to keep the image simple so that the embroidered surface would be the focus so decided on an outline drawing of a hawk in flight that I had done many years ago. Here are some of the images that I created in a Paint program. One thing I do like is the movement they suggest.

I have an idea for the actual design but have not started stitching it yet. I did do some experimental stitching on scrim whilst watching last night's election but although there are some useful patterns that may be used in another project, they are not for this one.

Now to go and see if the gesso is dry. The only disadvantage of working in the garage is that I am paranoid about leaving electrical equipment on if I am not there, so the heater only goes on when I am in there working which means at this time of the year things don't dry as quickly as I would like.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Unexpected award

I got this award from Robin. I was thrilled as blogging is a fairly new experience for me. I have linked it back to her so do check out her site as she does some beautiful work. I now I have to link it to four followers of my blog and one from overseas. Hope I can manage to do that without too many headaches.

I find the work done on all these blogs so interesting and varied. It is great to be able to share our passion with people from all over the world, one really positive aspect of the internet I guess.

Having been given the award by Robin it has made me realise that it is a while since I put pen to paper so to speak. I have been so busy doing the things that I enjoy that I don't seem to have spent too much time at the computer. I'm still 'running in' the new machine so decided to make a quick quilted wall hanging inspired by a project from Kathleen Guerrier in Quilt WOW which is the sister online magazine to WOW, both excellent value for money online magazine. I had several pieces of Japanese fabric that I wanted to do something with, other than stroke, and also some Laurel Burch cat fabric so I thought 'what if ...?' - as we do. This is not really my sort of thing but it was fun and enabled me to get to grips with the machine. I find it quite cheerful so am now looking for somewhere to hang it.

The group who were doing Dales embellishing class have been doing an ATC exchange since the class finished. I have received some beautiful cards so far and what continues to amaze me is how a group of people who are taking the same class can come up with ideas that are so different. I am old enough to remember the days when a class was supposed to replicate what the teacher had prepared - how things have moved on and for the better. Couldn't resist putting them all together just to give you a taste of the variety.

Working small seems to have been the order of the day for me lately. I have also become involved in ATC trades in a group called Fabric ATCs One to One. I turned some old C & G samples into ATCs for the Recycle challenge, the images have not turned out well as they were a bit too fat to scan well and also the camera did not seem to do them justice.

The next one trade is for something felted so I decided to revisit a lesson from the embellisher course. It involved embellishing paper napkins onto foiled felt and I wasn't happy with it at the time but I then found some gorgeous napkins - how gorgeous are these!

They worked really well when embellished and the colours have turned out to be nicely muted, with a bit of embellishment, acrylic wax, to stop them from falling apart and a touch of Treasure Gold, I am really pleased with them.

I am really trying to make the most of my time off now that I am doing a job share so I have also enrolled in two online classes at Joggles with Sharon Boggon both are design based which is something I feel that I need more guidance with. I have also enrolled in the FREE online lessons with Maggie Grey which are directly linked to her new book Textile Translations: mixed media. The book is awesome, and having printed off the first lesson, I can't wait to get started.

Finally, before finishing today's ramblings I have eventually got my copy of Photoshop CS3 installed - yes I decided to splash out get the full version. I had been struggling with 'layers' on my copy of Photoshop Elements but the other day finally got to grips with it. Just in time to do something for a postcard swap with the theme of Antarctica. I have real concerns about the effect that climate change is having in this region and I just love Emperor penguins so I was delighted with the way the fading images of the penguin worked.

So much for blogging for today, I now have to go and get myself and the cat settled for what is the final Grand Prix of the season. Today's will decide the championship and if I say that I am (and always have been) 'tifosi' then you will know that I am not rooting for Lewis.

Go the Prancing Horse!

Sunday 19 October 2008

Surprise swap

I recently made a postcard for a fellow TQS member who then said she would swap with me. I was expecting a postcard but in the mail on Saturday morning came a beautiful surprise.

Have been making postcards of late mainly as a way of learning what my new sewing machine can do. Here is the one that I sent to Diane, the fellow TQS member.