Monday, August 28, 2006

More from Birmingham

I promised more pictures from The Quilt Festival. The first post consisted of random pictures. Here are some that I kept returning to.

I loved these skinny houses by Janine Jones. The title is "Memories..." In her description in the catalogue it says: "I was fascinated with the simple geometric shapes of the windows, doorways and stonework of Gwydir Castle, Llanrwst. Shapes which became simplified during the design process. Colour was very important. After examining the colours of the Welsh Stone I concentrated on the more vibrant colours I could find and like."

These strips are "Cauldron" by a group who call themselves Cortex Fabricata. They have used dyeing, linoprinting, rubbings, painting, hand and machine applique, quilting, couching and beading to create texture like bark on trees. My photos don't show the details very well, but there were so many interesting things going on on the surface of this piece that it had me itching to go home to play with my craft stuff, and that's what a good show should do, isn't it?

And here is "Allium" by Frances Caple. The blocks are inkjet prints of a colour manipulated image. I liked the repetitiveness (is that really a word...?) with the single reversed block to jar the symmetry a bit.
I was going to add some more, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Blogger is not cooperating and I don't feel like trying again for the umpteenth time...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The entire spectrum?

Well, I did say I was getting back on track, didn't I? I jumped into the Project Spectrum thing with both feet first when Lolly launched the idea in January and started my red and pink project right away. Plans were afoot to continue right on with the yellow, but that was about a month late, I skipped blue altogether (unless you count the turquoise) and the green was also a tad late, but here I am in August right back on track with the neutrals. I bought these just before I went on holiday, to knit some of the lovely "Beach Bunnies" from Simply Knitting, so that's what I'm going to start working on now. Yes, I know, there's the Clapotis and some other things, but a girl needs to have a bit of variety, you know? I bought the yarn at my local quilt and yarn shop at a stitch-n-bitch evening and told everyone what I was going to make. We are having a new gathering next Thursday so I thought it would be fun to have actually made them, and as the colours fit right in with this month's Project Spectrum, what better time than the present? Anyway, that's the excuse I'm using, LOL!

Now I know that the intention of the PS was to have a bit of fun, and it is not as if I'm feeling guilty about not keeping up, or anything ;-). In fact it has made me focus more on colour and where you find it. The Project Spectrum pool is a great inspiration, although I never made it as a member there - I was new toFlickr, and didn't find out how to join before we were a month into the project and then I worried it was too late, duh! If the project continues I promise I'll join the group ;-)

Friday, August 25, 2006

-and back on track

Since I have been out and about a bit over the last couple of weeks I have lost track of my craft projects for a while. There has been no quilting or stitching of any kind since I finished the kite quilt. On a sudden impulse I stuffed some skeins of yarn into my suitcase before I left, and good thing that I did :-) It was nice to have something to do in the evenings while chatting to friends and I'm well into my second Clapotis by now. Now the challenge is to keep at it after returning home. I'm not the quickest of knitters - it's a case of too much time being spent admiring what I have knitted so far and not enough time actually working the needles... Still, I am getting there, and I must say I like this version a lot more than the first one I made (long before I even started this blog). I used the only kind of variegated yarn I could find in the local yarn shop at the time, and the result is a skimpy scarf, not the lucious wrap it should be. This one is made with the "original yarn" used in the pattern: Lorna Laces "Lion & Lamb" and I just love the colours and the feel of it, so I can't wait for it to be finished. I think this will go really well with my denim jacket, and also with my grey winter coat. I'm posting it as my WIP today as a further incentive to finishing it soon.

The only danger is getting sidetracked by a new quilting project. I have a few smaller ones in mind, one of which is something for the abstract challenge in the latest issue of Quilting Arts. I'll have a go at that tomorrow and see if the idea I have in mind works the way I think it will when translated to fabric.

I have decided that I am going to spend more time experimenting and having fun with quilting now that I have finished all those kiddie quilts and I must say I am proud of myself for being firm today: I had a phone call from a lady who had heard from a friend of a friend that I was a quilter, and she wanted me to make a quilted tablecloth for her daughter's dining table in Christmas fabrics. She would supply all the fabrics and she was very specific about what pattern she wanted, and as she explained what she had in mind I had a sinking feeling - "no, this is not what I want to do at this stage at all, I want to have fun!" Her closing argument was what convinced me that I did not want to help her out: "I will pay for it", she said! Well, of course she would!! Did she actually think I was going to do something like that for free?? I have taken on a few projects in the past, but I've come to realize that I hate it. When someone is dictating what I am to do and have preconcieved ideas about what it is going to look like there's just no fun in it for me - I like to play with fabric and thread and see where it takes me. If somebody wants to buy something I have made, and is willing to pay the going rate, fine, I'll consider it, but churning out some boring thing just because somebody promises money, forget it! I told her firmly, but politely that I didn't do that sort of thing. The strange thing was that she got all huffy about it - didn't I want her money?, etc... but I kept refusing as politely as I could, and eventually she gave up, but I had the feeling she was offended. However, that's her problem, not mine. I said no, and I'm glad I did!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Back from Birmingham

I'm just returning to earth after a visit to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. It was my second time, and it was great! There was so much to see that there was no way one could see it all in the time we had. The range of work is very big - everything from waving amateur quilts to professional works that knocked you off your feet. And that's what I find so fascinating about this festival, that beginners' works are accepted and hung right next to the experts' - it makes me think that I might actually venture to enter one of my quilts next time...

This tulip quilt was really fascinating. And Janet Bolton had her own exhibition with lots of different pieces. I knew they were small, but hadn't realized how small. Some of them were tiiiny! This one was the biggest of the lot. And it was lovely to meet Janet and chat with her as well.
In the Russian exhibition this great "night at the Opera" (I don't know if that was what it was called) was full of excuisite detail. You could read different stories from what was going on in each box - a wedding party, a mafia boss with his young mistress, a young woman with a vampire...

There were beautiful landscapes - this one used gauze to great effect for the foam of the waves.
Michael James had his own exhibition of recent works. He held a great lecture about his work, and found it really interesting to hear about his career and how he works. This one shows images based on photos of different works from the archives of a gallery (I forget which one), and the background yellow and purple bits are actuallly photos of the interior of the building.
Floral quilts were everywhere. This one has ribbon roses,
while this one is machine appliqued.
Swedish artist Ulva Ugerup had made a hot and cold quilt with teamugs that could be hung either way and was heavily embroidered.
A New York Beauty in great colours! I have been meaning to try my hand at this block, but have shied away from it so far, maybe this one will give the inspiration I need to get started.

It is really unfair to show just a few quilts, because there were so many that deserved to be mentioned, but I'll share some more over the next couple of days.

Kaffe Fassett had a great exhibition, showing quilts from his latest book "Kaleidoscope of Quilts". They are really stunning, but silly me, I didn't take any pictures, thinking "I have bought the book", so I don't have any to show you. But take my word for it, they were great. If you like his work, the book is really worth buying. The quilts have been photographed on different locations in Malta and the pictures are stunning. Kaffe's (look, on first name terms now...) lecture was really great as well - he is such a charming man and presents his work so well. After book signing in the shop (yess! I got a signed copy!) that sold his fabric he gave a tour of his exhibition and we got to chat about his choice of fabric and pattern - that was really the highlight of my visit to the Festival!

I also had a lovely chat with Dorothy Stapleton who is retiring from quilting - at least teaching and lecturing. Lovely lady with a great sense of humor!

I must admit I did a little bit of shopping as well... Not so much fabric - some of Kaffe's and a bit of batik, and some Fossil Fern. I got lots of other interesting bits and pieces though: hand dyed embroidery thread of different weights and colours in silk, cotton and linen, some silk and chiffon fabric for embroidery, shisha mirrors and silk cocoons and some issues of Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors - I think I might as well get subscriptions - I have been buying so many back issues lately...

That's enough gushing from me today. I'm trying to get back to normal here after being away on holiday for a couple of weeks. It's back to work again on Monday, so I'd better get some more mundane projects out of the way - washing, ironing and some boring paint jobs I have been putting off for too long. And then I might get back to my sewing machine again...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


And here it is! My kite quilt is finished. Or my nephews kite quilt, I should say. It's his birthday tomorrow, so I've been cutting it close - but I did it, and it feels great :-D This also concludes a series of quilts I've been planning and working on for some years now. A self imposed task and a labour of love, but still something I knew I had to keep at, once I'd given away the first one. I have five nephews and one niece and I wanted to give them all one special gift to remember me by - a bed sized quilt.

The first one I made for my eldest nephew for his fifteenth birthday, three years ago (wow - I actually made them all over a period of three years!) His brother, two years his junior got his quilt two months later. Their sister, who was eight at the time, got hers for Christmas that same year - and then I had a break... Last year my two nine-year old nephews got their quilts for their birthdays two months apart, and finally the youngest one gets his quilt tomorrow.

With the three first ones I used the nine-patch as a unifying element. They were all planned at the same time, and I thought it was fun to explore different ways of using such a simple block ending with three so different quilts. With my niece's quilt I had fun using all the pastel colours little girls love, and was rewarded with tears of joy when she received it - no need to ask, she loved it! With the two teens I was thanked with a gruffly mumbled: "cool" and awkward hugs. Not too open with their emotions at that age, are they? However I was moved to tears when sis told me a while later that they had actually started making their beds without being told, because they "couldn't let those cool quilts lie on the floor, now, could they?"

After working with traditional blocks and abstract themes, I had fun making "real kids' quilts" for the three youngest ones. First one where I used bright and cheerful prints of cats, bats and bugs. I had almost finished the top when his mother bought him a new, extra wide bed, so I had to improvise. The cat's paw prints along the border were what I ended up with.
The space ships and kites came from patterns in Quiltmaker years ago. I changed the dimensions, placement and number of blocks and the background, so my versions are far away from the originals, but doing your own thing is half the fun of making quilts though, isn't it?

As I said, this has been a labour of love and I have enjoyed making each and every one, but it still feels as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I have lots of ideas about quilts I want to make, but I have kept telling myself to finish these quilts first, and that has served to curb my enthusiasm a bit. But now there are no excuses, I can do whatever I like! (As if I couldn't before, duh!) So watch out - here I go...

On an entirely different subject. Thank you so much for all the nice mails I've recieved lately, and thanks to Diane E for information about where to find the pattern of the lovely Frost Fire and Leaves Shawl. Tempting. I might be lured back into the knitting realm by this... I have put the book on my wish list, anyway ;-)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Another bag?

Yesterday was my older sister's birthday. I'm sure it came as no surprise to her that she would get some kind of bag, as the two others both got Madison bags for their birthdays. I decided early on that the Madison was not her kind of thing - too girly-girly and not very practical. She has been admiring my Chelsea Tote ever since I made it, so I decided to make one for her. She also loves my leafy green quilt, so I decided to use a lot of greens, florals and fruits, and she was really happy with it. The great thing about this type of bag is that it has a strap with a zipper in it, so you can choose to wear it as a shoulder bag or as a backpack. Lots of pockets inside makes it a very practical bag.

I took the pictures with my black sofa as a background, as I so often do, because I think that makes the object stand out more, but I've come to realize that this may make the pictures in my blog a bit boring - no glimpses of my home, like you find in other blogs, and we do enjoy that sort of thing, don't we? I know I do, so I've decided to start taking pictures in different settings to make it more interesting. I will have more time to do that now as well, as I'm about to start my holidays this weekend. I'm counting days and hours now, I can tell you! I'm sooo fed up with holding the fort at work while everybody else is away, but now it's my turn! Mind you, I'm not complaining, as I have chosen this myself! I have planned my holidays around the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. Five days there, a week visiting family and friends plus some precious days at home quilting and painting (cupboards, not pictures!) I can't wait! The best part right now seems to be not having to get up early in the morning. One should think that sort of thing got easier in summer, but not for this girl - I can hardly lift my head from the pillow when the alarm goes off. It might have something to do with not going to bed at a reasonable hour, I suppose - but who wants to go to bed when the evenings are warm and sitting on the balcony with my sewing is so pleasant, not me for sure!