Sunday, 20 September 2020

BLOG 514


Blog 514           


Oh Joy! We have had a trip to Yorkshire this week and it is must be the first time we have been away from home for over a year. I cannot tell you how good it felt to be on the open road again and to be staying in someone else’s home! We were in Easingwold, N of York, staying with our daughter and her husband. We visited Castle Howard of ‘Brideshead Revisited’ fame, and walked in the grounds of Duncombe Park. We also walked along Sutton Bank and enjoyed the spectacular views along the ridge. If you are watching the Yorkshire Vet on TV, you will see an image of a horse carved into the hillside; Sutton Bank is along the top of that ridge. Although I was born and bred in Lancashire, I can confirm that Yorkshire is a lovely county (albeit on the wrong side of the Pennines!)

Sutton Bank


I have managed to continue to work on the ‘still life with daffodils’ wall hanging this week. It is another play piece, one which helps me to hone my skills and allows me the freedom to play. The time spent doing such pieces is never wasted. The play process helps me to decide what I enjoy creatively, which techniques are helpful and which are not worth the effort for the results they yield. Here is the sequence in pictures.

Starting point

Temporary adhesive



Final arrangement


Jug detail

Stitch in progress

Detail on reverse

Finished piece

Sunday, 13 September 2020

BLOG 513


Blog 513


I got distracted this week with another sample picture that has been on my design wall for many months. This is what it used to look like and I decided to have a play with it to see how I could develop it.



At some stage in the past I had added extra lines of definition with black ink (round the eyes and along the muzzle!) but the process hadn’t given the effect that I had hoped for. I was aiming for a pen and wash effect but the ink just seeped into the fabric and gave a line which was too solid and clumsy. So this sample was going nowhere and it gave me the excuse to play! The first thing I did was to add a layer of painted fusible, followed by a layer of sheers and then I added more stitch.

Bear with fusible

Bear with sheers


Stitch detail

Completed sample


And the outcome …? This sample is still going nowhere but it has provided me with the means for exploration. By adding the extra layers, I think there is more colour and depth to the piece (although it is still spoiled by those ink lines!!) The overall effect is one of warmth and I think there are many possibilities here for me to extend this process into my present creative endeavours!




Sunday, 6 September 2020

BLOG 512


Blog 512


I didn’t quite make the promised progress on the ’still life with daffodils’ this week. We have had MEN in, doing the guttering, facia boards and drainpipes for the last 3 weeks and it is amazing how disruptive I have found this. Tools and supplies and scaffolding were delivered and they all had to be stacked and stored. There was sawing and grinding and rasping and banging and hammering going on all day, not to mention the endless cups of tea and home-baked snacks that had to be provided!! The job has been well worth it though. It means no more maintenance for us in the future and it has added a pleasing line of definition all around the roof of our property.

Here’s the progress I managed to make. I sewed the base strip to the background and placed it onto wadding to quilt it first before adding any detail.

Quilted background


Although the background gives enough of a painterly effect, this is why I chose it after all, I felt I wanted to add more depth and this I did by trying out some sheer fabrics. At this stage it is just a whim and I may change my mind somewhere along the line!



Sheers and daffodils


I decided I didn’t have sufficient daffodils so I cut out some more on my lap tray in front of the TV (it’s the log fire that makes me want to sit down in front of it and enjoy it!)  I used the reverse of the tray so that shapes didn’t slip about.  

More daffodils


And here is the log burner; isn’t it cosy.  Chivers (24) and Willow (16) know exactly where to sit, although in this instance Chivers has pinched Willow’s bed and he cares not a jot!!

That’s my bed!

Sunday, 30 August 2020

BLOG 511


Blog 511

 I am back in playing mode this week and enjoying the spontaneity of creative endeavour. This project takes me straight back to my teaching days, many moons ago, when I used to show my method of creating a flower vase/jug as part of a still life wall hanging. I recently came across a folder with some ready-constructed vases/jugs and I made a mental note to use them in the near future. That near future arrived this week and I think this sequence of pictures speaks for itself.




With sheers


With background


With base


Daffodil sketch


Daffodil fabric (free-cut)




Another flower


Several flowers


I intend to continue working on this over the next few days as we slowly and inevitably slide into autumn and then winter; the daffodils will remind me that spring will surely come again. The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are dropping gradually, wood has been delivered for our log burner and the radiators have started to click on when necessary. The garden has done its cyclic thing and shrubs are begging to be cut back as they shed their leaves and sink into dormancy. September is my month to saw and cut and slash and lop and do all sort of savage things to my plants. They thrive on it and I get a certain amount of perverted pleasure from the destructive process!



Sunday, 23 August 2020

BLOG 510


Blog 510


This week has been devoted to the systematic and painstaking construction of the Contemporary Sampler, from beginning to end (the wet weather helped to keep me motivated!) After some experimentation, I decided to use a black machine zigzag stitch for the construction of this quilt, in keeping with the notion of ‘Contemporary’. I used a narrow strip of a multi-coloured shear fabric to over-lay the butted edges for a softer look. I joined the pieces row by row so it was either a square-lattice-square row or lattice-block-lattice row. There were only 6 blocks that were directional, namely the four fan corners, the Maple Leaf and the Clipper Ship.


Lattice and corners


Lattice and blocks


After a false start, when I tried to join blocks that varied by as much as ¼” (I never thought to check them as they had all gone through the same process!!), I trimmed them all fastidiously and the pieces all fitted together like a dream. I decided there and then that I really enjoyed working intricately in smaller sections especially on a firm background (felt in this case) and I will pursue this process in future large quilts.

Completed row





Joining blocks/lattices


 Joining lattices/corners




Finished quilt


And finally, I was doing my daily walk today and I came across this lovely quote beside a wooden seat over-looking the surrounding Welsh countryside. My mother, who has been dead for several years, would have loved this! She was fiercely proud of her Welsh heritage and, although she lived out of Wales for about 75 years, she still spoke the language and visited as often as she could.



Sunday, 16 August 2020

BLOG 509


Blog 509

 And I did knuckle down and make progress this week! It was slow and steady and mainly done to the sounds and rhythms of Radio 4. I am desperate to get this project behind me so that I can do something creative again. But don’t get me wrong! This IS a creative project but, as I said in an earlier blog, once the major decisions have been made, it is all about application and slog! It gets boring to be continually repetitive and I long for the freedom to play again, to try and to fail and to try again, and to search for pastures which are challenging and new. I know I could never make things commercially, and I am in the fortunate positon of not having to, but all that repetition would be the death of me I’m sure!

This reminds me of the time when we came back from living on a remote and tiny Pacific island in the seventies. We settled in a B&B in mid Wales whilst ‘he who cares’ settled into his new job in Llandrindod Wells and until we had found a house to buy. In typical B&B fashion, we had to vacate our room by 9am so I was left on my own for the day to potter around the town of Kington (a small market town, a handful of shops and a population less than 4000).This dismal state of affairs soon propelled me towards a local trouser factory where I instantly became employed to sew waist bands and fly linings! After a short training course, I was let loose on a treadle machine and batches of 50 trouser sections were dropped by my side for me to do my part in the construction process. As you can imagine, after a tentative and careful start, I got quicker and quicker and after a couple of weeks I worked my way up to piece time rates. All the girls around me were already doing just that and they were slumped at their machines day after day, largely uncommunicative and fiercely intent on completing batch after batch. I was just getting into my rhythm when I was moved onto another section. This slowed me down considerably and I was indignant at not being allowed to work at piece time rates. I left at the end of the third week and thank goodness I did. It was scary to reflect on how easily I settled into this repetitive boring work, how obsessed I became by numbers and targets and how unaware I became of the people around me. It was a valuable lesson for me and here is my preferred repetition these days!






Soldering (claustrophobic)


Mask (not a pretty sight!)


Corners before


Corners after


 Lattice before


Lattice after


Completed (centre section)


Close up


The same repetitive process went into the outer border and corner stones, so the body of the quilt is complete and all I need to do now is decide whether I am going to lace all the pieces together or sew them on my machine. I know which will be the quickest!!


Outer border




Machine stitch