Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Inspiration Tuesday

Off to Houston. See you in about a week. Here is more inspiration for you.

t-shirt for white jeans skirt

Just a quick post before going to Houston. I decided the options I had for shirts to go with the white jeans skirt weren't just right. So, I took some bias strips I had cut but didn't use on the skirt, overlocked the edges and made a ruffle which I sewed into the neckline of this white t-shirt. I found these cute little star buttins at Sew Devine in the Market the other day, and they were just right scattered round the neckline! Just finished it before bed last night.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Hairpin Crochet

A few years ago in a needlework book, I read about Hairpin crochet. It sounded like something I could do. I can do most things, but I can't knit, and don't think I could be patient enough for lace making. However, I can crochet.

So, that began my search for more information, including how to obtain the hairpins for the crochet! For about 5 years now, every time I go to the Knitting and Stitching show in London, put on by Twisted Threads, I go to the Lace guild asking about it. At first I thought I was looking for hairpin lace. Well, it is sometimes called that. I found plenty of ladies who said they had done a sample for their City and Guilds: Lacemaking courses in the year dot or whatever. But, finally last year someone told me to ask the Crochet guild (I didn't know there was a Crochet guild!!) So, I did. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to another lace stall, ...I finally found a lady who told me a bit about it. She was going to send me a spare one she had in a drawer at home. But I never heard. So I haunted them again this year.

I went straight to the crochet guild stand and stood at in a queue waiting, and looked over to the lace stand, and LO and BEHOLD....the lady was doing it!!! So, I said "You're doing it!" (As you do to complete strangers.) and here it was, the lady from the previous year who had lost my bit of paper with contact details. I think she knew I would show up, but she was actually doing a project with it. SO, she showed me how to do it, then pulled out a little bag with her pins in and gave me one for £1. Thank you very much, lady! (who I think is a chairman or something , but I was so excited, I forgot to remember her name. oops.)

She also told me there was a lady who sells vintage sewing books. So, I trotted over there, and found one on Hairpin crochet! how cool! Several ladies told me I could make one of the pins from bending a coat hanger. I am sure I could, but I go by the "wing it" method so often anyway, I thought I better at least start properly! I already have ideas of how I could use this in garments and also ways to make it more radical. So, watch this space.

Actually, I am very tempted to take this to Houston to do on the plane. However, I am sure due to the unusual shape someone running the airport scanner might take issue with it. After the long quest, I do not want to lose it. But I am showing you a photo anyway. And now I will be sensible and leave it home.
By the way, there was also a stand in the vendor hall selling some pins, but they were much wider. They said they can't find the narrow ones. If you know where I can get a narrow pin like the one on the book, please let me know.

Saturday, 25 October 2008


Since I went to town today and was unsuccessful in getting a few things I thought I would need in Houston, I won't bore you with that story.But I will show you what I did on Monday.
A few weeks ago, my husband picked all the apples and pears and then pruned the trees. Well, that was when I was rather busy with a micro-teach in my teaching training course. We quite like pears when they are still crisp, so they went fast. But, the bag of apples just sat there. Monday, I decided I better pick them over and cut some up before the fruit flies took over the house. I put the ones I thought would keep in the fridge and the ones that had spots, etc. I cut up and used the good parts for stewed apples. (I just put a bit of salt to bring out the flavour, like you would veg and that's how we like them. No sugar.)

Then, I decided to make a chicken stew in the slow cooker. I knew it would be too much for the two of us, but we have some friends who had moved house a few days earlier. Their house needs a lot of fixing up, so I thought it might save them from making a meal or two. So I took most of it to them.

Anyway, while I was cutting up stuff for the stew, the apples turned rather into mush. So, we have applesauce instead. I have been saving pickle jars...in theory so I can put dye in them, but so far that day has not come! So, while the apples were hot, I put most of it into 2 pickle jars. I thought, if they seal, good, we can have it later in the winter. If not, we can have it now. And lo and behold a while later I heard the satisfying click of one and then the other jar lid sealing! Cool. I had 2 labels left from ages ago when I used to do this sort of thing more often. I think I might get some fruit like plums from the market when I get back from Houston and cook up a few more stewed fruit jars. I can make fruit crumble for a pudding now and then in the winter.

Tonight the clocks go back. As it is less than 2 weeks til Bonfire Night (5th November), they are now selling fireworks. And of course, people are already letting them off. So, my not-so-little friend is in here hiding under the ironing board. I told her that wasn't very safe, but she didn't believe me. Here Pepper is in less worrying times.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Posh Wrap

So, this week I have been sorting out what events I will be attending in Houston and what clothes I should bring or wear for each event. I realised that although Houston has better weather than we do at present, they also like to crank up the air conditioning! So, when I wear my posh skirt at the Bernina Show and reception, I know I will be nervous and I may feel chilly if the air conditioning is on freeze. I don't have time for some posh jacket, and besides I don't want to swealter. I could wear a cardigan, but suddenly, it wouldn't be posh any more. So, I decided to take scraps from the skirt and make a wrap. (I mean these are really scraps. Especially for the tafffeta. I had already used that fabric for the lining of last year's Bernina ensemble skirt, so the posh skirt for me was made from the leftovers.)

Posh Wrap using the "Chop, Chop, Sew, Sew" method. Basically I just took a length of the white synthetic organza, and a length of the taffeta. I chopped the taffeta in half lengthwise and gathered it a bit with a long stitch on the sewing machine. Then I overlocked it onto the white with my overlocker (US term=serger). I just stuck it on, not fussing...they didn't even have properly straight edges!

The first strip didn't keep the gathering as much, so I just carried the extra round to the end. Then the other side actually worked. So, I needed a bit for the other end. I discovered I had a shaped piece that was cut on the bias so I just thought I would put it on there and then trim it. But I decided to leave it the way it was! Okay I was pretending to be a designer...Oh yeah, I am. (Smile!) So then I overlocked all round the outside edge. Then I made beaded tassle bits like I did for the skirt which makes it all work with the handbag.
Tassle Detail
Voila! One posh wrap.
I like the idea of having one side more ruffled than the other, as I will wear that side against my neck and the frill won't get annoying. Did I say I don't normally do the scarf/shawl/ wrap thing. I will see how I get on with this. If I like it, I may change my ways.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Rainforest Dragon

"The leaves moved slightly to reveal a splash of red. At first, she thought it was a red poison dart frog...but suddenly she knew she was looking into the eyes of the rarest dragon of all...the Rainforest Dragon."

You have to be careful with rainforest dragons. Instead of breathing fire, they have some sort of poison because they eat the little poison dart frogs. Awww. Well they have to eat something! If you look at the colour of his tongue, you can tell what kind he ate last. If he has too many, he has indigestion and has to eat quite a few bananas to feel better again. I think they must eat malaria mosquitos, too. He doesn't like piranha very much. They are a bit sharp going down. All of that kind of food makes them a bit dangerous if they are caught off guard.

However, this dragon is friendly. The girl who discovers him goes on to become good friends and he helps her to get rid of the bad men who are chopping the forest to make a plantation. He is actually very friendly to the Indians who live in that area of the Amazon.
With people he doesn't like...chopping down swathes of the forest types...he can get very steamy, and that is where the poison thing comes in. Can you imagine being in a sort of steam bath with poison in it? Talk about Asthma or whatever!
Here is a detail of the eye.
If you can't tell where the dragon is...well, he is camoflauged! However, he is laying down with his chin flat on the floor like my dog does sometimes. You can only see the front part of his head. Are the leaves sticking up ears? I don't know, what do you think?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


This is my latest textile art piece titled "Rainforest Dragon".
I belong to a group called Fast Friday Fabric Challenge. The original idea was inspired by the Project Runway/ Project Catwalk type shows where they only have a short time to create a garment.
The plan in this group is to make a textile art piece in a week. (or as near to a week as you can!) The learning art part of it is that when the challenge is set, there are parameters you have to adhere to. They are usually connected to artistic techniques or concepts, colour schemes, or themes.

This year we are going to explore the idea of doing work in a series as well as look at colour and composition. The first month - we start in September - was about Complementary color scheme with a Vertical, Horizontal or Diagonal layout. We were encouraged to think about following on with ideas from work we had done before, so as to develop a series. You don't have to carry a series on for the whole year if you think you have worked it enough.

So, I have all these dragons in my head that are wanting to get out! When I did the design element for my City and Guilds: Fashion Diploma, I did a book full of design ideas using dragons for inspiration. Here is one of the first ones, to come to life. It is in the inside lining of the coat for my 2007 Bernina Ensemble. The ensemble is called "The Epic Quest of the Last Dragoness".
I often have a story which goes with my work and the dragons are a good example of that. Here is the story of the dragon which inspired the Bernina Ensemble.

The dragoness is actually a Lightning Dragon. Did you know that inter-cloud lightning produces a very special sort of diamond? Well, the lovely dragoness travels stormy skies collecting lightning diamonds for her hoard. She also transforms into the shape of a beautiful lady. In this form, she attends glorious balls and special occasions frequented by the rich and noble in order to take note of any lightning diamonds which have been made into jewels for the ladies there. She collects other gems, too. If you follow the link for the gown just above the photo, you can see that her bodice is encrusted from the time she spends resting on her pile of gems.
What else do you think she does? Can you add to the story?

The Rainforest Dragon has a story, too. I started telling it on the Fast Friday Blog. I have sort of run out of time today, since I had computer problems earlier, but I will tell you the Rainforest Dragon story tomorrow. By the way, he is camouflaged. Can you see him? The red bit is his eye.

Oh, yeah, these challenges always start on 4th Friday of each month and you should post the result the following week on the Saturday. Our next one is this coming week. I am not sure I will have time to do much before going to Houston, so I will probably take an extention and post my work late this time. Wonder what the artistic challenges will be? Wonder which dragon will come out to play?

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Inspiration Tuesday

Today I'm typing up assignments for my course tonight. It is called Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector. (PTLLS). After Christmas I will go on to do the Certificate to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector. (CTLLS) I will be teaching at New Directions which used to be Reading Adult Community College.

A few weeks ago, I had to do the first micro-teach of something from my chosen subject. So, I taught them how to make the boxes I mentioned the other day that I will be teaching at the library. I am glad that is out of the way.
I have been trying to get assignments done a bit ahead. Next week will be half-term, and they have set 2 assignments to be due the following week. Of course, I won't be doing assignments while I am in Houston, so I want to try to get them in this week.

So, here is an inspiration for you. What would it inspire you to make?

If you are interested in inspiration from everyday objects look at a blog by Virginia Spiegel.
It is called The
Garbage Day Project. Makes you think about what we throw away!

Monday, 20 October 2008

White Jeans Skirt

Here is my latest project. It looks a bit summery for the weather we are having here...but it will be great for Houston. I made it using a large pair of white jeans I got at a charity shop ages ago.

I meant to use the top part with all the usual jeans accoutrements. However, after I chopped it at level of the top of the inner seam, I got it pinned and shaped to M'Lady, and then it sat there.

I meant to add some sort of fabric to the bottom in a somewhat similar way as this one. The problem was, though, that length is the wrong proportion for me to start adding to. I learned this on the "No Rules" skirt, although being all one colour, it's not so bad and I wear that skirt all the time. Only the other day I thought of a plan to resolve that issue with the top of the jeans. So, you may see it in days to come. BUT, in the meantime, I got out my skirt toile and realised there was enough fabric in the thighs to cut front and back using the inner seam for the CF and CB. The length, then, would be as you see here, not too much shorter, but enough to make difference.
The bits I added to the bottom are blue plaids from a HUGE pile of quilting cottons my friend Gabrielle gave me. (I gave most to Helen who helped me set up the blog, as she sews cot quilts for a hospital.) Even though it was several fat quarters I thought they went well together. So, I just started playing. I am on a godet thing at the minute, so it got godets. However, it started looking like a ra-ra skirt...which I am NOT the age or shape to wear. Then I found another bit that had got buried under stuff I was doing for my teaching training course. It was just big enough to cut strips which I sewed together to go round the hem. With the cream background, it worked well to bring the look of the creamy blue one in the pockets, etc down to the bottom part, and so it tied the look together, and made it less of a ra-ra skirt. I topstitched all the seams down with blue thread (free from Sulky, left over from the Bernina Ensemble).
I hope I don't look too cheerleaderish, but I think I will wear it to the class I am taking about "Denim RE: Vamped!" taught by Tracy Bautista. At least the class will appreciate it if no one else does!

Sunday, 19 October 2008


Okay, so here's where we start to talk about Houston. Why? Well, in 2007 I had the privilege of being a Bernina Fashion Designer. Then, I was privileged to be invited back for 2008! So, on the 28th Oct. I am going to the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX so I can be there for the Bernina Fashion Show on the 3oth Oct., where the ensemble will premier to the public. I am not allowed to show photos of it, but the theme is Rendevous. What comes to your mind for that? My idea seemed to be the only idea there could be, so I hope no one elses is too similar. I am thinking I will wear this to the reception after the show. I found the fancy handbag in a charity shop last year, but didn't have time to make the skirt for last year. Here is a detail.Last year, I went to Houston when "The Epic Quest of the Last Dragoness" showed. I went at the end of International Quilt Market, where the garments are shown to the trade. It was Scary! I wore this last year, and will probably wear it for the "Meet the Designer" talk I will do Friday 12:00 - 12:30. Okay, the photo is rubbish.This year it is still a bit scary, but at least I know what happens. I was there from Sat to Sun last year, but this year I am only going on the Tuesday to the Sunday. It makes a big difference in the hotel rates, even though there are special rates for the quilt show.

Last year, all my sisters came to meet me there! That was fun. We had never been all together w/out the parents in all our mumpty-mumpt years. (There are 4 of us. 2 in Maine and 1 in Alaska, and me in England.) My friend Gabrielle went as well, so she became a sister for the week. The youngest sister stayed in the hotel room with us, which was fun, since we hadn't done the girly things together growing up (I'm the oldest. 2 boys are in between us as well.) And since she is in Alaska, we have rarely been visiting our family in Maine at the same time. So we often talked late into the night! Anyway, she is coming again, but the other girls can't do it this year, nor can Gabrielle. Our mom wanted to come, but she couldn't. So, Lin and I are looking forward to more girly time.

Both of us decided to sign up for several classes, and were surprised to be able to get all the ones we asked about. Lin didn't do sewing when she was little, like us older girls, so is taking some beginning quilting type classes. She has a creative brain, too, so she is already making costumes for her kids using her ingenuity. She had just made an Alice in Wonderland costume for her teenage daughter before she came last year. She lives on Kodiak, so doesn't have much chance for classes or even a wide range of supplies. And of course, this quilt show is the biggest, so if you have to leave the island, why not go there.

Me, of course, leaving this Island 2 times in 2 years is beginning to be 2 much! I prefer to be here, thank you very much.

One of the classes I will take is Hollis Chatelaine's Painting Images with Dyes. (very top prize quilter for IQF 2007) I feel sure I could use the techniques learned there to enhance my own work. Well I won't do it as well as she can! But there are some ideas in my head which could actually come out if I knew how to do some of these things.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Journal Quilt Returns!!

So, last night our son showed up from uni for the weekend. He wants to collect his bike and skateboards. Apparently he is doing skateboarding with a new friend, and has a collection of scars on knees and elbows. How many years ago has it been since he was doing that?

Also, my journal quilt from last year arrived from Quilts, Inc in Houston. I could put a label on saying "This quilt survived Hurricane Ike!" They were about to send the quilts out when the warnings for the hurricane came. Instead of sending them out with the possibility of them ending up in a washed out post office somewhere, everything was moved from their upper story business to the ground floor or basement. When the hurricane came, the building did suffer damage and windows were blown out of their floor. However, all has been sorted and the quilts sent out a week or so ago. I was so glad to get it!
I had wondered how the bits of grapefruit peel would stand up to all the travel. Besides Houston, it has also been in Chicago and Long Beach, and perhaps a few more places. A few tips of the peel have broken off, but the composition of the piece has not been compromised. I have a few more dried grapefruit peel peices I could replace them with, but I think it will be alright.

Actually,I nearly missed it, since the parcel man left a note in the letter box that he had left it at the local PO! I was in all day, but never heard the bell if he rang it. I am sure I would have, since the dog barks furiously! (That's why we have a seperate letter box mounted outside. Otherwise the post ends up with teethmarks punched into it.)

Along with the journal from last year, was the one which Karey Bresenhan kindly included on page 40 in her book Creative Quilting: The Journal Quilt Project. Now that it is back I can take all my Tudor Journals (2004 and 2006) and make a book with them. I think I might add about 3 more, as I always meant to do Henry's brother and sisters. and I want to make an interesting cover as well. Which life will I find time to do that in I wonder?

Friday, 17 October 2008

Audio books

A good time to start a blog is when your computer has stopped speaking to your camera! So we start off with photos that are already in the files.
I like reading, but when I am trying to get sewing projects done, I have to avoid books. However, I have discovered that I can order audio books from my library. They are very good at helping me concentrate and get jobs done. If I am engrossed in a story, I don't have such a tendancy to go off to the kitchen for something to munch on, or wander round the house trying to find things to start a wash. (Funny I am never tempted to clean the oven, but I do attack the hob once in a while!) Another help is that when I have got to a stuck place on a project and have allowed it to become a hurdle, I've found I can put on a book and then just let the hands and instincts take over, and before long ...Voila! I can get onto the next thing.

So, anyway, because of this audio book dependancy, I have developed a really special relationship with the librarians at the Birch Hill Library. (Mainly Simon and Lisa) I also take my BIG projects down to show them...well, after all they have sort of had a hand in it. Last year, before Pat retired, I showed them some of my journal quilts, and they let me put a selection of them in the display case in the front entry. This year, Simon, who is now in charge, asked if I'd like to do another display. So, I have had more work up for a few months.

I finished off the Solar Optics pieces I had started, put them with the rest, and also the Migraine pieces. Apparently there is alot of interest. Below is a photo...but the display glass makes it hard to photograph.

Here is the Blurb:

Sun in My Eyes

In these pieces, local Textile Artist, Sandy Snowden,
explores the effect of the sun on vision.

Close your eyes.
What do you see when you’ve been in the bright sun?

The bright pieces of art are from a series called Solar Optics;
Sandy considers those bright spots you can still see
when your eyes are shut.
In the darker pieces, she investigates migraines,
brought on by the sun.

And NOW...they said, "Do you want to do a little workshop?" Usually we rely on people from the "big" library to come do things. But, we could do our Own thing... SO, on the 26th Nov. I will be doing a workshop about making Christmas boxes!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

First Post

My friend Helen has helped me finally set up a blog. So here we are!

I am very busy creating most of the time, so should have plenty to show. But I'm also taking a course about teaching adults at present, so there may be some gaps here. But it should be fun to share!