Monday, 26 May 2008

Bank Holiday day trip out

The weather forecast for the Bank Holiday weekend was not brilliant and we luckily chose the Saturday for our day out. We had lovely weather and enjoyed our visit to Shugborough Hall, a few photo's below reflect our lovely day out! (yes, I did manage to find "crafty" bits and pieces too which brought inevitable sighs and much rolling of eyes!)

We had a very expensive cake and pot of tea while there, taking with us a small picnic and when we returned home we ate out at the local pub before rushing home (joke) to sit through 3 hours of Eurovision Song Contest! (apparently we've got a full weeks worth of solid viewing of Britain's Got Talent to look forward to too!). We like to sit through and share with our children any particular programmes they enjoy and I'd promised our younger son I'd watch the semi finals with him, I hadn't realised it would take a whole WEEK to watch them!! Still, its a good opportunity to get my pins out and start cracking on with my knitting which has been very neglected of late.

Sunday was disappointingly pouring with rain which rather ruined plans that the local tennis club had for a charity "do" involving an afternoon of tennis tournaments followed by an evening's entertainment by a band; we didn't go in the end and have no idea if it proceeded or not.

I doubt we'll do much today, Bank Holiday Monday, other than a celebratory birthday drink with Graham, step father no.2, later this evening.

Friday, 23 May 2008

My 10hour piece for end of Level I

For the end of the year we have to produce a piece of work and accompanying sketchbook detailing its process to the tune of some 10hours. (good job we didn't count the 3months work of humming and haa'ing over it!). Below is a photo of my finished piece:

I chose a kantha stitch inspired project because hand embroidery is a new technique to me and I so enjoyed doing this earlier in the year and it was on the back of my mind that unless anything else jumped out at me I'd like to work on this technique for one of my projects.

I chose to make it a small size to hang and here you can see I've backed it with a piece of green silk dupion and added a small hanger I've had for ages! The reason I chose to back it was mostly because the three layers of lightweight muslin made it slightly see-through and also a little flimsy.

This is the original cutting that I took a while ago from a magazine and liked enough to set aside and when I found it again while pasting stuff into my colour book, I decided it would be perfect for the project!

Enlarging the small copy and tracing the main elements I did a few samples before deciding that I'd "add" the element of transferring acrylic paint via bondaweb to the top layer of fabric (after first checking with the tutor that I could mix these and wouldn't have to necessarily stick strictly to a Kantha piece!) I wish I hadn't! in a way! or at least I wish I'd not got carried away and added the final layer of pink chiffon!!
One of the reasons I particularly enjoyed this stitchwork was the lovely quilty effect the stitching produced at the end and I didn't get this, quite, with the final layers and combinations!! My main reason for adding the chiffon was to be able to transfer the traced copy onto my layers for stitching and even then I managed to go all wobbly and miss the lines completely on account of stitching it at night (yes! even WITH the wretched daylight lamp which I wish I'd not bothered with and am glad I only paid half price for!!).

I'm pleased with it for what it is and how its turned out, but disappointed as its not how I imagined it would be but I like the idea and may rework it again in the future.

All our work has to be completed for handing in in a couple of weeks time and my aim was to complete this project before the start of half term to give me chance to check my main sketch book. I have some pieces still working on but they are additional to whats in and I may shelve all but one of them in favour of the forth coming *summer holiday* and inevitable rush of wrap skirt sewing up!!

Tomorrow we're out for the day and may be eating out with step father no.2 as he celebrates his birthday this weekend, work on Sunday and nothing planned for the bank hol Monday as yet!
My brother, David, informs me of good news for his Dad (step father no.1 removed due to divorce to me!) in that they have finally decided to "replace his shoulder". (sounds a little bit strange to me, but I'm assured that IS correct all the weirder given I thought he went in for a scan on progress of his stomach cancer! apparently not. thats another appointment!). David is off for the weekend for a biking trip with HIS brother (also, confusingly, called John!).

Creative Textiles, interesting conversations

We've had a short half term as no class last Monday nor this coming bank holiday Monday.
Instead I've used the time to work on my final piece for the end of this year's lovely course which has been a most interesting time not to mention liberating, creatively speaking!

By chance I struck up a conversation in the shop with another lady who attends a C+G creative textile type class run by Maggie Swain and was very enthusiastic about it; I particularly enjoyed the conversation as she, like me, came in from a more "tailored" background of dressmaking and garment construction type of sewing and it was nice to hear another's experience of seeing textiles and machines in a more creative way and to discover that it does take time to adapt to new ways of working with such materials and methods!

Similarly, this lady also enjoyed the transfer of acrylic paints via bondaweb and layering and cutting of fabrics so you can imagine we had a good long chat!! At the end of it, I discovered she is in fact the cousin of one of my own colleagues!! small world!! full of spooky coincidences!

As I near the end of my own course I have to think about what I have achieved and gained so far and where I will be this time next year! My new *friend* has found the challenges of the C+G very demanding and she too has a health concern and, it appears, a close relative with a cancer, it seems that finding an outlet such as a creative course with time spent with likeminded new friends goes a long way to keeping everything into perspective and emotions into check! We decided that some of the nicest and closest of friends are a "crafty bunch"!

Happy Birthday wishes

A colleague celebrates her birthday this bank holiday, I made her a card using a piece of sewing themed fabric square on layers of mirrored card, foam and papers and matched to the envelope too which made it rather a pretty "make".
For her main card as colleagues, I asked another lady to make it as she does them SEW much more professionally! I wish I could share a photo of it as she really made a nice card but you'll have to take my word for it!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Sketchbook Cover

FINALLY my sketchbook cover project is complete!

Until it was complete, I didn't know if I liked it or not! The more I look at it the more I like it (even the pink ric-rac isn't DEFINITELY going to come off as of today!! even though I still feel this is the one part I like least)

The photo above shows it in its entirety, unfortunately I had to lose a bit of it to the turned under edges and typically the nicer parts are inside the cover!

These two photos, above and below, are close ups of various parts where you can see how in fact the lace layer I added and then hacked away at in attempt to remove, actually works rather well and I've ended up being PLEASED with it! (ignore the pink ric-rac, trust me it looks better in real and from a distance, but I know you are itching to get the seam ripper out and remove!)

The photo's above and below are of the completed cover on the book which has all the work within from the Creative Textiles course I've been attending this year - yummy SCRUMMY!

Layer of muslin followed by layer of wadding, then a piece of green silk dupion for the background start the project, added to this are pieces or layers of various fabrics mostly netting and organza's followed by a large piece of white overall lace (which I would omit another time) and a layer of pink organza completes the "sandwich".
My mistake was in using the 505 spray to hold it all together! it did hold it all together! rather too well and as well as discovering that it stains the dupion silk, it made it tricky to cut away at the layers when stitching into the piece! Next time I will tack it like the book said!!

I machined freely over the top before cutting into the layers and trimming to the machining to reveal the various fabrics adding more and more machining and cutting away at more layers. Hand stitches were added which gave me further opportunity to have a go at a few more examples from my book! Beads and a bit of ribbon and button and two flower heads finished it off!

The netting is the best bit! I was able to weave some of the lovely boucle thread I purchased from the Sewing for Pleasure show here and outlined a lace motif nearby. Some beads were "trapped" inside the "net".

I could have carried on stitching and flinging beads at it but decided to stop at this point!

Friday, 16 May 2008

More on "colour"

Sharon lists some very useful websites on her blog and this one caught my eye as "colour" is something I find hard to get to grips with: color wizard.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Pair of crocheted corsages!

Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! Pair of quick to crochet corsages! We learned the techniques and stitches for this on the recent beginners learn to crochet workshop, and here are two I've made up since!

The observant of you will spot that I've not yet stitched them down or added the brooch back, but that aside they are done!

This project was good for the fact that I can now do a dc, htr and a tr and double yarn round the hook drag it twice thingie stitch without having to look it up in the book!! oh! and a sl st which took me best part of both corsages before I "got" this useful stitch!! (what I was actually doing was in fact a "dc" but I felt if I closed my eyes and did it quickly it could qualify AS a sl st! but I resolved to learning it properly!).

The challenging question NOW is where to FIRST stick my hook when completed the required turning chains! a colleague and I puzzled over this for a good 10mins ..

A new community site for textiles

Sharon has posted on her blog a new venture which looks like it might be of interest to textile folk in general, Stitchin' Fingers is open to everyone and is free to join!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

yummy KNITTY card toppers!! (new)

Aren't these gorgeous!

New in today! yummy card toppers, knitty style! couldn't resist buying a pack now to NOT find anyone to use them for!!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Cheapie quilting book and dvd

I didn't have high expectations when I came across this little book and dvd set in local The Works cut price books and stationery shop, but as it was reduced to just a couple of pounds decided to buy it!
I watched most of the dvd and read the book and picked up a couple of pointers and while I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, for the price it was okay for what it was and the quilts are lovely with yummy fabrics, at least!

I'm starting to think about a next quilty project and itching to get started with something but FIRST I must get back to dressmaking! I've neglected this area practically the whole year now, and my wardrobe reflects this, as soon as I have my project underway I plan to sort through my patterns and fabric stash.

Creative Textiles

Today was a quiet session mostly for the benefit of us "level I's" to talk with the tutor individually about our end of year project and sketch books.

I took along a piece of crochet to work on and read through a couple of Quilting Arts magazines inbetween turns and we generally chatted amongst ourselves and shared some of our recent explorations with the bondaweb etc.

My project is not yet started but I have a reasonable idea of what I'm doing and how to go about it and plenty of time to finish it - gulp!! Some of the pieces are already finished and are to a very high standard indeed, such I think is the commitment of the ladies who have attended this course!

We're nearing the end now! and thoughts turn to next year and what to do about returning for a second year.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Crochet! yayy! I can OFFICIALLY do it!!

AND I have the project to prove it!!

On Friday I attended one of Sarah Hazell's beginners crochet workshops along with 12 other newbies, 4 of us coming along from the creative textiles course which was nice!

Of course my hook case is rather more suited to storing a classroom's worth of pencils, rulers and the like with room for an apple and a bottle of water!! but never mind, it IS finished, being JOINED at the sides by some rather desperate hacking at wodges of yarn with both hands and a good bit of heaving on my part!!

It all looked SEW easy on the demonstration!! I'm almost certain I've invented a new way to create faux-buttons but, again, I don't mind as they are at least the right SHAPE (sort of!).

The course was good because I discovered I was wrapping the yarn the wrong way, in fact! and at least I discovered that before habits set in! I was surprised we made a project! and I think the tutor was similarly surprised we achieved as much of it as we did too!
Of course, pal, Kim, was off on one of her mad woman's adventure to see WHAT she could with a hook and some yarn and I'm fully expecting to find she's free form crocheted something spectacular before felting it by tomorrow's class!!

We had a super lunch and then it was back to it - we learned the beginnings of making other projects such as grannies squares and spirally scarves and yummy corsages!
Armed with the basics AND my book! I shall look forward to more fun ahead!!

A bit of layer, stitch and slash!

Whilst waiting for the bondaweb to dry, I got sidetracked into trying a few ideas based on a library book on machine embroidery techniques and this seemed like a nice one to try:

Layers of muslin, then wadding, a piece of background fabric with several layers or partial layers of assorted sheer fabrics topped with a piece of lace finally a large piece of sheer organza and hand basted together to hold secure.

Sew (dropping feed dogs) over the layers of fabric, stopping from time to time to cut away at layers to reveal patches of the underneath sheers which include netting types before adding more stitching.

The lace piece was a mistake!
I realised it just after I'd started and decided to attempt to cut away at as much of it as I could, initially I thought the project doomed! but after leaving it a couple of days I picked it up and stitched some more.
Its not quite finished but almost at the point at which I'll start to embellish it.
Provided it looks halfway decent I plan to use it to cover my rather dull looking main sketch book for the creative textiles course!

I would do this technique again with a bit more thought and understanding.

Bondaweb beginnings

I based my design on the same image picked up from my little cheapie arty book and blast it! I forgot it transferred back to front didn't I!! never mind ..
(its meant to be a flower, btw, in case are wondering what the blobs ARE ..)

Here is the first, bondaweb painted with aforementioned acrylics and bonded onto some green silk dupion which is the least successful in my opinion which is a pity as I'd hoped the lovely fabric would complement it nicely. I've not embellished it yet.

Here is the 2nd, bonded onto a layer of muslin and hooped with another two layers under for added body you can see I've started to stitch this one with some rather odd looking embroidery stitches picked out of my new embroidery stitch book. It looks (slightly) better in reality and am hopeful that after flinging pile of beads at it will at least look glitzy!! I've done a bit more since taking this photo but it doesn't apparently look any the better than this shot and at least you can see more of the bondaweb!

This was the most successful transfer! onto pelmet vilene which I bought a small piece of at the recent sewing for pleasure show and the insert says it IS particularly suited for both machine stitching and bondaweb transfer! It looks a bit stark at the moment, not sure quite what to do with it other than look at it mind!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

More bondaweb experiments

Lets just say I've seen better efforts from my lads when they were pre-schoolers at play group.
However, I have to say I did have a couple of hours of fun this morning messing about with pots of acrylic paints and dabbing about on bondaweb in preparation for my planned project which I'm a/ not sharing yet and b/ not telling yet either!
(the samples are drying on the sunny windowledge, and IF successful, I will be back to screech enthusiastically about how marvellous it all is, if NOT, then we'll just leave it at the photo's below and quietly ignore it ...)

Bertie being his usual helpful self, helps HIMSELF to a drink of my paint-y water and gets his whiskers turned pink!
Interestingly most of my paint eventually turned dark blue, its a good thing I don't have desires to become a dyeing expert, unless, of course, I specialised IN dark blue ..

Lilly, meanwhile, was too busy seeing off an intruder to the garden, I mean to HER garden. Here you can see the two cats carefully positioned so as to not quite see each other and I watched for about 10mins as they studiously ignored each other while managing to make it perfectly clear that the intruder was NOT welome but that said intruder was NOT going to budge either!

In the end I felt sorry for the pair of them and fearing one of them would eventually tire of this standoff and start getting claws out, I opened the door and effected to go and hang out the washing which meant, of course, that the intruder FLED .. followed at a safe distance by Lilly who managed to fluff up her tail to quite impressive proportions and if she'd only manage to do same to her tiny skinny frame she'd have looked quite good. As it was she just looked like a weird sort of crossed with a squirrel cat.

She's now sat IN the patch of grass looking all watchful.
Bertie, in case are wondering, (big-girls-blouse!) was sat curling his massive muscular bulk into small as he could wrapped in the folds of the curtains INSIDE the house. (Great big cat like him, you'd think he'd be out there seeing off the intruders or at least helping his tiny skinny bit of a sister!).

Most of my samples are now dry! I'm going to attempt to do something creative with them now.

(The weather, btw, is GORGEOUS and I've got two lots of washing outside on the line and plan to eat my lunch outside - provided it holds for another hour).

Monday, 5 May 2008

Finished: the blue lap quilt

Finished my pretty blue lap quilt, I used mostly from stash having to buy some 90cm of plain blue for the backing and binding only which makes it a nice project to have made use of some of my stashed fabrics.

I did minimal quilting - just a bit of stitch in the ditch to hold it all down in place as I don't expect this to be used much beyond the cat lying on it!!

As you can see, this is typical of the response I get when presenting someone in the family with a handmade gift! My son is doing his very best here to look as though he's not actually NOTICED me flinging and then artfully arranging said quilt and taking a photo! Mind, he HAS opted to keep it on the foot of his bed "for Bertie" who sleeps there most nights and I must admit I got a much more satisfying response from the cat who stuck his claws in and rolled around for ages before settling down for some fur shedding and a good wash!

We made these little pin cushions for the charity event at work and charged .20p for them, I selected a nice bright red tartan silk and teamed it with a bright yellow felt and stuffed it at home using my good filler! They were very popular and the 13 we made sold very well.

A very quiet bank holiday for us, I didn't sleep terribly well last night and as the weather looked grim and the family mumbled about wanting to watch the NUFC vs. Chelsea game this afternoon, all plans to "go out" were abandoned and I spent the afternoon in my sewing room!

Back to normal tomorrow, work and school for them, day off for me - hurrah! and of course I've got the crochet workshop to attend on Friday!!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Finished my mini blue quilt

well NEARLY finished! what I mean is I've finished bar the actual finishing ie the binding!
Its turned out really quite nice and due to its minature size I plan for this to be a sort of throw it on the end of the bed for the cats to lie on type of quilt!
When I've done the binding, I'll upload a photo of it.
It made good use of my FQ's and was a nice peaceful sewing project and terribly quick and EASY! best of all has released space in my quilty cupboard for MORE fabric!!

Yesterday our no.1.son went out with some of his pals for the day and had a sleepover to enjoy this new game that they are all apparently mad on, we got a telephone call at 9.15am this morning to pick him up which we thought was a bit early! normally they don't surface until the afternoon! turns out he and one other lad had stopped up ALL NIGHT! (the other two fell asleep about 5am!). We let him go to bed and sleep until about 3pm but dh was left with instructions to NOT let him sleep all day and consequently I've come home from work to find one VERY tired and grumpy teenager thudding about the house and lolling all over the place with his lanky legs all over the place!!
(still. I suppose there's worse to come when they disover alcohol and girls!)

Friday, 2 May 2008

Vintage Patterns and memories

I promised a colleague I'd look out some of my old childrens' shirts and waistcoat patterns as she has a youngster to make a birthday gift for and do you THINK I could find them! any of them! I'm certain I'd not have thrown them away as I'm quite sentimental about that sort of thing, the only thing I can think of is that in one of my tidyups I perhaps put them in with the garments in question in a bag for the loft!
Anyway, in the tidying up I came across a few files of treasures! Some of the old patterns that were my Late Mother/Late Grandmothers! Some of them certainly brought back memories for me as I can remember either wearing the school jumpers OR playing with my dolls that were dressed in the knitted garments!

Super afternoon looking through my box of magazines and old patterns, these are just a small selection!

Crafty bits and pieces

After getting some great ideas for the bondaweb idea from the course this week I decided to buy a set of acrylics, below, a box for £5.99 - might have a go at it today - quilt permitting, of course! Matt thinks he'd like to slosh a bit of paint about too this weekend, and being a bank holiday its bound to be a dreary wet weekend sew why not!

At work yesterday our department took part in a month long charity raising endeavour and I supported it by buying the following:

A lovely beaded bookmark! my colleague had actually made me one a couple of years ago for Christmas but Bertie had finally got his claws and teeth into it and broke it! For £2 it was a super buy, the beads are lovely far nicer than the photo suggests!

Another colleague dries his own lavender and brought in a large tub which another colleague used to make this super lavender bags:

I paid £1 for this one but she'd made little "sacks" tied atop with ribbon which were sprinkled in clusters with beads that were very pretty and suitable for popping in a drawer!

The same colleague is also an avid card maker! I paid £1.50 each for these (I bought another which I wrote out and left at work for another colleagues birthday tomorrow which was a nice "pink" card). Its quite hard to find decent cards for men and these are just super!!

Another of my colleagues had made some SUPER Japanese themed cards and she has kindly made me a lovely card for the occasion of another colleagues forthcoming 60th birthday - I shall take a photo of that as its really NICE!!

Finally a shot of the blue quilt:

You can see I've added now all the possible variations of squares from my 4 x FQ's to this panel it took ages to sew! (all of a couple of hours!! lol!! amazingly QUICK and super easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!!)

Our cats are super MAD today!
They are racing about like MAD things, like KITTENS!
Mostly because a customer happened to mention she'd discovered that HER cat loved valerian and promised to bring me a couple of calico filled squares of it. Three times she's been in with them and didn't want to leave with any of my colleagues due to the rather unfortunate "smell" which really IS rather disgustingly like manky old socks!! She flung them at me yesterday! and I managed to keep a seat home on the bus all to myself!! ha-ha!!

I didn't really think the cats would go for anything as whiffy! but I was wrong! I tentatively flung one in Bertie's direction and he promptly went mad rubbing his face and licking at it before doing a "silly" and having a cat-mad-moment! I felt sure that Lilly would be far more ladylike and refuse HERS, but she promptly set about Bertie and started FIGHTING! I managed to make her realise there were TWO of the smelly things and we spent most of yesterday wrinkling our noses and twisting our faces!!

Andrew is eagerly waiting his birthday copy of GTA IV for the PS3 which his uncle has ordered for him and is due for delivery very soon (we hope!) and in time for the bank holiday weekend.

Very finally, and sadly, our half-brother shared the news that his Dad (the step father I grew up with) who has been ill for a while now has been told he has stomach cancer. We don't know too much at this stage, only that they won't be operating.