Friday, 30 January 2009

Guardian Dragon

Here is the dragon I have been working on. As I worked, it seemed to develop with the oriental dragon look. I "saw" him in the anomalies of the hand-dyed fabric. However, trying to draw him free hand with the machine resulted in a rather odd shape. It is difficult to look at because it ISn't like what is in my head. (I mean, what is it with the turkey thigh legs that I couldn't fix? And what is it with the head that looks like he has been watching too much bad television? ) So a goal this year is to work out how to draw dragons better. However, in a way it fits with some of the naive shapes of the dragon/lion sorts of monsters that are seen in oriental art.

I have been doing dragons for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenges. Challenge #29 for January 2009- Working in a series (if desired) with concepts of Analogous colors and Rhythm/Movement or Tension/Energy

As you can see the analogous colours are centred on green - yellow green - and even blue-green threads. The tension is created with the baby in the basket in front of the dragon. Will the baby be harmed? Or is the baby under the protection of the "monster"?

I used examples of stitching on "dragon coats" for the quilting patterns .

I had thought I would give the Journal quilts a miss this year. They aren't doing them through the Quilt Art list in the same way any more. But, the Contemporary Quilt Group are doing them again. The first year they followed the A4 size, like the original Quilt Art ones, but last year they did 12x12. I showed you the ones I did. This year, the size is 6x 12 either landscape or portrait orientation. I like the idea of the smaller size. I also like the idea of challenging myself to work within a different shape. It is still rectangular like the first ones, but much narrower.

What I decided was that if I was going to do the Fast Friday challenges and try to keep them small so I could actually get them done. I thought I would keep to the idea of samples. Well, that is also the focus of the journal idea, so why not combine the two? So, I guess I am signing up for the Contemporary journals again this year...just combined with the other.

I missed challenge 28, due to the upheaval over Christmas, but I have an idea. So, I will see how I get on with it.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Library workshop dates

Liz on the Complexcloth list asked about rust and indigo dyed cloth. I tried that this past summer. I already had rusted the fabric and when my friend had an indigo vat going, I picked up a few of the scraps to see "What would happen if?" (The eternal question that keeps an artist going.) So I took a photo of the results to show how it ended up. Well, they need pressed, but I like them. Wish I had done more than two scraps.

I made another little scented sachet. The first one had lavender and this one has rose essential oil in it. I may make one of these more suited for a man. I don't know if a man would want one in the drawer with his smalls or not! I have some cedarwood oil, but it is a bit over powering compared to the driving your nose into the floor of the woodshed. I may go look for something else.

Simon thought the ideas for workshops for the months ahead were great. His boss was quite excited about the idea of the workshops at these libraries as none of the other libraries are doing Adult Crafts. So, now to crack on with sampes for the other workshops.

The little "Thinking of You" tags workshops I mentioned the other day will be the 10th Feb. from 2-4pm at Birch Hill and the 11th from 2-4pm at Great Hollands. The Sachets Workshops will be in March. 18th March from 2-4pm at Great Hollands and 19th March from 10-12am at Birch Hill.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

workshop sample

Tomorrow I am seeing Simon at the library about more workshops. Here is another workshop idea...probably for the month of March, since Mothering Sunday falls in March this year. I really want to do sewing with the students, but as I have said before, there is a limit to room and there are Health and Safety issues to consider. So, here is a simple quick-to-hand-sew project. Just two scraps of fabric, embroidery thread, a bit of toy stuffing, and a thicker small scrap of fabric to put a few drops of lavender or rose or something on.

Today I went to a training session about digital cameras. Although I can work mine pretty well, I thought I might discover a few things. However, it was mainly about using the college cameras and how to get the photos from it onto your memory stick using the computers at college. So it was useful. I know what to do if I forget my own camera sometime and want to record student work.

I find mine easier to use. But I also had the opportunity to have a go with Adobe Photoshop. I have Paint Shop Pro. I know I don't do all I could with it. the version of Adobe Photoshop they have at least seems quite user friendly. The drop down menus have visuals on the buttons, etc. So, it is useful to know a little about the programme. You need to "embed" ICT into lessons nowadays, so I can have a little session with learners about manipulating photos. I hope to show them how to print on photo sheets, so if we have a little session with the computer, I will at least be able to get them to the explore part of getting into Photoshop.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

This morning the radio said that since the weather has been much colder this year, the snowdrops are later than they have been for some time. If you have snowdrops in your garden in Berkshire, you are some of the first. Well, I have snowdrops in my front garden. I noticed them Sunday. The daffs and crocuses are poking up the tips of their stems in the back garden, but that is in a sun trap where we have had hyacinths way before April. The snowdrops are just growing in the edge of the grass under the Mock Orange Blossom bush.

I like snowdrops. They don't grow where I come from. I like the fact that the name is similar to our surname. I love a flower that you have to nearly stand on your head to discover the interesting bits! Who is meant to enjoy them? Insects and other crawly things are all hiding away from the cold.

But I also like the fact that there are flowers brave enough to start in January! I have a late flowering fuchsia nearby that only just died off a few weeks ago and now we have snowdrops. I begin to think I can cope with the rest of winter when the snowdrops tell me Spring is coming.

I love Spring in England. It lasts forever.

Monday, 26 January 2009

more dragons

I have been working on another dragon today. But, since it isn't at the point where I want to show it yet, I will show you some dragon parts I did some time ago. These are done with machine patterns over net on water soluble fabric. I used the wing pattern for "The Epic Quest of the Last Dragoness".

I made them as part of one of my Preparing Working Designs (PWD) for City and Guilds. At the times the PWDs were topics rather than design principles...(although the design principles were meant to be part of what you learned). This particular topic was Folklore. Which I was sooo excited to turn into a study on dragons. I shall have to take a photo of the book for you sometime.

I recently dug these pieces out of the book so I can use them for samples for the Exploring Decorative Techniques course.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Region 6 Contemporary Quilt Meet-Up

Here we all are diving in for the "Ugly Fabric Swap" What fun!

And then we had a go at transforming the fabric with stamping, mono prints or rubbings. I got too busy for that one to take photos. I am hoping Margaret can post some of the other photos she got.

We had a great afternoon. The ladies all expressed interest in meeting together a different times throughout the year. We had ladies from other areas, too. Some who are just over the border from Berkshire and Oxfordshire and some who were in the area visiting relatives. I was surprised to learn that few CQ groups are doing this in their areas. We hope they get the bug when they hear what we've been up to!

It was great to have a closer look at some of the journal quilts and other things people have been experimenting with. And loads of ideas were put forward for suggestions of activities, outings and topics we would like to learn about. Some have already put their name forward to help with things like secretarial tasks. That will be a big help.

One thing I was pleased about was that the talent within the group was recognised and that instead of getting speakers in, the group would like to learn from one another. And another thing was that they all want to meet for a longer period of time! So, back to the booking form!

The next meeting will be the 16th May. I am looking forward to it already.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Meeting up

One of the things about living in the part of the UK that I do is the lack of sewing supplies. Or rather that you really have to make an effort to obtain them. We do have a haberdashery and a fabric stall on our market. But that is held on Friday and Saturday.There have been people who have tried to make a go of a regular shop, but the shops where you can afford the rent are in the area where people are happy with low cost ready to wear.

What if you need a certain colour thread or what have you on Tuesday?

You have to go some distance for 2 shops, one where you used to be able to get a wide selection of all sorts, and fabric at astronomical prices and which has been cutting back its fabric department slowly but surely.... and the other which has an interesting selection at cut rate prices (which cause some to wonder at the quality), but which is very hard to get to for parking. Generally, then, I wait til I go to the sewing or quilting shows and stock up. So, essentially, I shop from my stash. (But we will save the conversation about whether or not to have a large stash for another day.)

So, anyway, along with no dedicated sewing shops, you have to really look hard to find other people who sew. well, you'd normally meet them in fabric shops, wouldn't you? Most of the people I know in this area who sew (not just fashion or quilts, but anything!) I met through online groups. Even my friends I have mentioned before - Gabrielle and Helen.

And having worked at making textile art in this vacuum for sometime, I finally decided that if I was going to be able to find like minded people for this part of my life, I had to facilitate it!My first calls for getting together last year was helpful in getting our small group with Jane and Merete, now called EquilARTeral. This has been great, but I thought there must be others wanting a more active larger group.

So, to make a long story short. Tomorrow is the first meeting of the Region 6 Contemporary Quilt Group at the Birch Hill Community Centre in Bracknell. Region 6 is Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Everything started falling into place. Judy Fairless the British Contemporary Quilt Group Co-ordinator has relatives in this area, so she is coming to say a bit, as is my friend Margaret Cooter, who lives in London (and does a great blog I would encourage you to investigate.) and who does the membership and publicity for British Contemporary Quilt Group. And besides that, we have had around 18 people interested. One or two can't make it this time, but want to come in the future! So, that is cool.

So, today I am getting stuff ready for my bit tomorrow. Besides people bringing journal quilts to show, Jane is doing the registering. Merete is running the "Ugly Fabric Swap". I am running off at the, I mean, I am the one who will be up front doing the blathering and hoping to keep things on time.... also trying to get some ideas for the group to go forward.... and as well, we are having people bring their favourite stamping object, which they can use to stamp on their newly aquired ugly fabric or plain stuff if they like. Which reminds me, I need to get some out of the cupboard. Oh, and find my ugly fabric!

By the way, I have done similar events before....Including a few Sit 'n' Sew days at the community centre and an event with Ann van der Kley from Australia in 2007 at South Hill Park near here. But for some reason, this one seems more intimidating.

Photo of the day with Anne.

Speaking of quilting groups... check out this link

I wonder if our day will end up anything like this?

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Craft Workshop samples

Today I worked on some samples for another workshop for the library. I thought these would be good for February. I am calling the workshop "Thinking of You". Although there is the option to make Valentine related bits, Valentines isn't such a big deal here as it is in America. So, these could also say Happy Birthday, Thinking of You, Get Well Soon, etc.

I painted little wooden shapes, stuck them together, made little "stitch" marks with a fine sharpie and wrote the various words...also with a sharpie. These have ribbons on to use as gift tags, but there will also be the option of putting a magnet on the back.

I stuck these together with a glue gun, but since we have to watch cords and hot things at the library, I will actually use tacky glue or something instead for the workshop. This is one of the reasons the workshops have followed more of a craft theme than a sewing one for now. Perhaps once we start having regular workshops we can hold something seperate where the space and Health and Safety aren't such an issue.

Once again I let the hands do the work while I listened to an audio book. This one is a Dorothy Sayers Mystery.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Mystery solved

Yesterday I posted some photos asking if you could work out what the tabs with symbols were. And here is the answer!Still don't know? Well, this is my husband's accordion. I think the decoration is rather wonderfully over the top compared to ones he has had in the past. The symbols are on tabs and stand for the different tones. The low tone is oboe, the mid tone is clarinet, and the high tone is piccolo. Somehow you use the tabs to mix the tones.

Here is a close up of some of the fancy work. It was when I was photographing the decoration, I realised how special the symbols were. It's all rather inspirational isn't it?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

Here is something to make you think. Have a guess and leave a message! Tomorrow I will post what they are. I think the symbols would be awesome for stamps, stencils, silk screens, etc. I can also see them as beaded motifs! What would you do with them?


I have been writing up a Research Rationale this week. Tonight is college. It took me a couple weeks to get my head round what one was so I could work out how to do it! Come to find out, in the terminology of the ordinary person (me) it is a research PLAN. Only you have to write why you decided to chose to research certain of the topics connected to teaching/learning. I guess it is more than just, "I chose to research these because I have to for the course."! After they explained things last week, it made more sense. There are a few topics you get the impression you should NOT leave out. But the rest are topics you decide on 1 - because you want to know more or 2 - because it will help you with teaching in your subject area.

The Ofsted inspectors are there this week. One good reason not to regret my courses for the Autumn term didn't run! They, in their wisdom, have chosen to inspect our Visual and Performing Arts department, although it had good comments last time. So, my boss has tons of work. However, she is confident the department is great, so is not worried. They have invited the inspectors to come to our teaching training class, though. Why? Because a large percentage of the class are new teachers in our department! It will be weird if they come, but I hope they do come to see that the department is forward looking and trying to make available the type of courses the public wants.

What is interesting is that all the teachers (we have 3 this time) are teachers with backgrounds in theory type subjects rather than activity/skills based subjects. They have noted that, but it will be interesting to see how they manage to "adapt their teaching style to that of the learner" as we are often told to do. No wonder with so many Kinaesthetic and Visual Learners, we sit there with glazed looks when they are waxing eloquent about the theory side of things.

Monday, 19 January 2009

2008 Journal Quilts

Here are the rest of the journal quilts then, from the beginning. So, later in the archives, you will see them in order...unless they eventually find a way to present blogs chronologically from top to bottom. (or maybe they do and I haven't discovered it yet.)

2008 Journal Quilts – British Contemporary Quilt Group
January – A few years ago, we had our holiday on Kintyre in Scotland. By the middle of the week I was going spare with not having any sorts of fabric shops or anything touristy. Finally, I went into The charity shop and found 3 old cream wool blankets. Every now and again, I hack a bit off and dye it with Kool-Aid. I had tons of the Kool-aid sent to me. the kids here don't like to drink it,but it works well on wool and silk.

Before this year, I made much smaller pieces somewhat like this, but hand stitched the bits on top of each other and embellished with buttons (also here and here) or beads. This time I worked with colours I don’t usually use, and instead of hand stitches, used the machine. Because the top is so thick, I used firm interfacing for wadding When you do the stitching, it helps the wool from getting caught in the feed dog area. It is thick enough to do this even when the feed dogs are down.

The actual composition was developed upside down to this, and it felt like a playground. But when it got stitched, I found it wanted to be this way. Looks a bit like buildings. I have done themes in past journals, but haven’t decided yet. Most likely will use the wool, as it is already there in several “flavours”!

February – more of the Kool-Aid dyed wool. This time I went with brighter colours. I felt very cheerful while I was doing it. I am a bit concerned that if I carry on with these sorts of shapes it will be same-o, same-o, but there are a few triangles in there. Perhaps I need to explore a different application method. Quilting boxes was easier this time. I do like the variegated threads from Thread Studio. I can generally find one to go with my work in some way.

March – Okay, I am starting to see that this is about colour and shape. In this one, we get much more of the triangle thing going on. It has a real zing to it. I don’t normally use yellow, but I love the brightness here. I have also turned the buttonhole stitch so it faces out. The blue is wonderful. I think I will have to use that for a background next. I have quilted triangles this time.
Much later - I can not recall which Kool-aid made the bright yellow. I could only make pale yellow later on in the year when I wanted more.
As I noted previously, doing this series did help me gain confidence in Free Motion Quilting. However, time will tell if I end up working in brighter colours more. And Shapes? Well, for now I think I am rather done with that rabbit trail.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Still more journal quilts

April Journal Quilt - I really wanted to go for the blue background this time. I also thought I would try circles. I generally choose the colours first, so it was interesting to discover that, as circles, they looked like citrus fruit. And with the blue, it really was hard to see as a “background” because it was so much like the sky. When laid out, the whole thing looked like juggling fruit. As I discovered before, when I stitched things down, it took on a new look and has the feel of planets and orbits. One of the other things I tried was a cropped composition. I really liked how this worked, so will consider cropped compositions in the future.
May Journal Quilt– The process of putting the very thick pieces on the background, discovering a good composition, and then sewing them is actually quite unpredictable, because the sewing flattens things and it looks totally different. This time I decided on a different stitch, and then decided to try it for the quilting as well. It really changed the background – much less flat. With the variegated thread, and the swirling unusual pattern, once again it looks a bit like planets. When I am composing the circles, they still look like fruit to start with!

I was showing the completed journals to someone the other day, and couldn't remember which way up I had decided they would be! I am glad I have this visual record. I need to work on getting some labels made before Contemporary Quilt Group begins organising them to show somewhere!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

more journal quilts

Okay, so these Journal quilt photos are coming onto the blog backwards, but I guess they will make sense in the future when you click on the link and scroll down. This is the journal quilt for June. I decided to go for ovals. I had been playing about with overlapping ovals in some of my sketching/doodling. I was content with it til I was doing them in a meeting and my friend said they looked like mushrooms! Anyway, here they are ovals or mushrooms whatever you like. The previous six journals were all about basic shapes, but I kind of lost interest in this shape thing. I think perhaps the circle/oval shapes are too difficult to place in interesting compositions. Perhaps they need other shapes with them. This piece has sort of lost its focus. But it will work as part of the series.
Here is the July journal. A bit more interest...the shapes, colour and stitching seem to create tension. I couldn’t bring myself to do specific planned shapes anymore. So, I tried various technique ideas for the rest of the year. I had been challenged to try doing something like reverse appliqué. However, since I move things around a lot before I am happy with the look, I didn’t see my way to cutting holes and then finding it was in the wrong place. So, instead, I did a sort of slash and spread technique. This created a consistent shape of its own. I am really pleased with the way it turned out. I decided to echo the shape with stitching. And then use the contrasting colour strips for interest.

Again, as I think I said before, the fabric is a cream wool blanket chopped up and dyed with Kool-aid in the microwave.

Friday, 16 January 2009


This past year I have been meeting with 2 other ladies from the Contemporary Quilt Group in the Berkshire area. We all have different styles and come from different backgrounds, but enjoy working with fabrics artistically. We recently decided to call ourselves. "EquilARTeral" which we feel reflects our differences and interests.

We set ourselves a challenge, which we have slowly been working on. (Well, I have been a bit slower than normal because of my course at college, and then plans to catch up at Christmas fell by the way.) It is called ZOOM because the challenge involves looking at a topic from different distances in a similar manner to zooming in on an online map. So, for instance, you could take Forest, trees, and leaves. Or Person, group, crowd. We are doing 3 pieces, and have settled on A5, A3, A1 for the sizes. The layout can be either landscape or portrait. Also, it is up to you to decide which part of the topic should go with the size you choose.

So, Merete likes working with colour, dyes and paint. She has her C+G Diploma in Patchwork and quilting. Her topic is sunflowers. Jane likes felting and embellishing with an embellisher. She is a graphic designer. Her topic is a concept...using the word "significant" and breaking it into parts. I, (well, how do you describe yourself? Dabbler in everything?) anyway, my topic is words. So, I am doing Letter, Words, and Language. And being contrary ! My small piece is the middle part of the topic. The Zoomed in part will be the large piece and the Zoomed out piece is the middle size.

So, anyway, I had the A5 piece done for sometime, but couldn't decide on the edge treatment. I used rust dyed fabrics, a fabric with words printed, mark making with the soldering iron, and stitch. Today, I decided if I was going to get on with the rest, I needed to complete this. So, I did a blanket stitch. Then I realised that although I liked the look, I also needed quilting, if only to hold the layers together. By the way, the "face" was actually an anomoly in the rusted fabric!

And thus, we have "Words".

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Stitched Book Cover

Here is the book cover I made with the stitched sample. In the end, I decided it really is a book cover. Partially because I wanted to use the whole of the stitching, which turned out larger than the diary. I used a piece of the velvet from the stitching the other day for the catch.
Here is the back. There are strips of fabric inside each of the back covers, which holds the cover onto the book. I could have enhanced it more with beads, etc. But I wanted to leave it simple as a Free Motion Embroidery sample.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Stitch Enhancement

I am working on samples for one of my courses again. For this sample, I am enhancing a printed fabric with Free Motion Embroidery (FME). The fabric is actually one I would normally consider too outrageous. However, somehow, by filling in the shapes with patterns, it makes it a bit more elegant. I started it sometime ago, and have grown to love it.

Here is a bit more detail, with the flash. I think I will probably do a bit more on it still. I left off working on it before, when my other machine died. After having done the last few journals quilts, I realised I am now better at the FME, so it would be fun to do again. Besides, it was a tutor meeting this morning and by the time I was home it was another one of those days where I couldn't really get into something else.

I have more of the fabric, and of course I am "saving" it, now that I realise how special it is, and I may not be able to find more.

However, with the piece I already started, I am going to make a cover for my diary.
Not that my diary needs a cover. I like it small and silvery as it is. But, it is my college diary and can serve as a badge of "What I Can Do". Since I never seem to have clothing for me to represent that, a diary cover will do.

And ever the prosaic type, it will help me trial an idea for a diary/journal cover pattern which I may teach elsewhere, like the library. The library ones will not be so posh, as I can't take sewing machines, etc. But if the pattern works, then we can make them from something that doesn't require cords trailing across the library floor or irons for littlies to burn themselves on. I think I may market the library version as a book cover to protect your book when you go on holiday.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

I don't normally peel sweet potatoes before boiling; I slip the skins off after. However, I did peel them the other day. I was quite impressed with the colour. Okay, I knew the colours before, but the slivers of dark mauve next to the peachy orange just struck me. I wouldn't have thought of putting them together naturally.
Perhaps I will keep this in mind as inspiration for a future day. What do you think?

Monday, 12 January 2009

Just Stitch

Sometimes you have one of those weekends with one too many things that cut to the quick. And then, sometimes it is followed by one of those days where you never seem to get anything done. Things like a quick trip to the doctor at the way too early appointment time about what needs ticked on your regular blood test form before booking the blood test, (so you don't have to have another one when you see him next because he thinks of something else to test.)

And then the booking turns into "Do you want the blood test today?" No, but yes. So you go home, eat your cold oatmeal. Go back down and then you sit there an extra hour. (I have regular blood tests because I had thyroid surgery about 21 years ago, and now am on synthetic thyroxin. They also keep testing other things that apparently aren't just right, but they aren't "not right" enough to do anything about.) I have got to the place where I dread the blood tests. They never seem to be able to find any, and too many of them take it for gardening practice or something. Well it feels like it. or they get in fine, collect their allotted amount and then don't seem to be able to tell it to stop inside. Well, it's not bleeding on the outside. Yeah, but the bruise covering the lower arm lasts for 3 weeks. By the time you get done, you try to recover the lost day, and finally give up and have a nap. (Oh, but I had Sister Sheila today, and she Knows How To Do It. but the whole saga takes alot out of you.)

So, anyway, about 4:00pm you despair of getting anything done. So, I decided forget the plans in the diary - college homework and work on the new project. Just stitch.
I decided since I enjoyed stitching on the wool, I would try it on velvet. What to stitch? Finally I just started on doing a face. I don't draw faces well. Even the ones drawn with a pencil usually turn out like this anyway. She is a bit too much "Everything in life is going fine...through the pasted on smile, over the gritted teeth." Perhaps this is autobiographical?

The velvet puckers a bit too much. I need to use a sturdier stabiliser. Here is the back.However, I can see that I could like this Just Stitch thing rather than doing all those diversionary tasks like checking email for the mumpty mumpth time. I am tempted to say I will do a regular Just Stitch.
But, Whoa and hold the horses. That is somewhat why I am feeling so disgruntled. I already have too many things on my "to do" list. So, I give myself permission to only do Just Stitch when I need to get Stitch out of my system so I can do what I need to do.
Off to do the tea now.
I did print off a few things from college, okay?

Sunday, 11 January 2009

more journal quilts

While I am getting another project to the place where I can photograph it...
I thought I may as well show you some more of the 2008 Journal quilts. Above is August.
This composition just developed. So many little scraps of the wool which didn’t want to be thrown away! Some I used to experiment with on my friends embellisher and the experiment became the pot. However, the sewing of it became a bit hurdle. The whole idea with these journals was to make something that wouldn’t take ages. I finally settled on Free Motion Embroidery which served to tack the small bits on. This is the September Journal Quilt. The simple plan this time was to cut holes along parts of the blanket lines and weave stripes of the wool through. The quilting of the background is more selective this time. I choose lines to echo the blanket lines, but left some places plain.

Here is another photo from Maine. I stayed one night with my niece Jess, her husband Charlie, and their little boy, Owen. Here is a stained glass window in a random small bedroom tacked onto the back of the house behind the kitchen! I think it had been rescued from another part of the house, but why it wasn't in a more prominent place, who knows. There weren't any other features like this in the house, as far as I could tell.
Pretty stunning if you ask me.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

More stitching and a bit of winter

This is October's journal quilt...which I also finished the stitching on this week. It is made of similar techniques to the others, but I used fruit netting, too. Usually when I have finished these quilts made from a felted wool blanket, I steam them back into shape when finished. That was not so great for this one. Even though I covered it so the netting wouldn't stick to the iron, I hadn't considered the netting would shrink. So, the one side got quite a bit pulled in. It is fine for experience, but I am not sure it is something to leave as is or not.

Back to photos from my journeying: In Maine there was a tremendous amount of snow compared to what we get here. On the first morning, I looked out and saw 3 wild turkeys in Kathy's backgarden!
This photo gives an idea of the snow. When I came here, I thought I would miss that look. However, one can do without it if it means you can actually go through the winter somewhat comfortably. One wonders if it is possible to have a stylish chic way of dressing when you have to spend long periods in the cold?
When I got to Mom and Dad's, there were about 20 Wild Turkeys happily munching on the bits under the bird feeder!
They seem to walk and behave in a similar way to peacocks. Here is a close up. I don't remember wild turkeys when I lived there...deer, bear, porcupine, beaver, the odd moose, yes. My dad said they have re-introduced them in the past 5 or so years and they have done quite well. From what I can tell, they almost seem a nuisance.
And while we are doing snowy Maine bird photos, I had to try for one of the chickadees. They are my favourite bird (and about the only thing I miss about not living in Maine.) I love their call.
A bit too fast for my camera and for trying to stay in the porch without scaring the turkeys off.

I guess I brought the cold with me when I returned. It has been decidedly fridgid round here lately. I was hoping for signs of Spring....Well, some years the daffs do start poking the tops of their stems up around Christmas.

Friday, 9 January 2009


Here is the " I meant to post this yesterday" blog post. (Maybe one day I will get my head back on straight! )

This is a picture of all the Wolford sisters, from 2007 when they came to Houston to meet me. It was the first time I had a garment in the Bernina Fashion Show...The Epic Quest of the Last Dragoness.

Front left - Me, the oldest. Front right - Kathy, sister no 2. Back right - Debbie, sister no. 3. Back left - Linda, sister no.4. There were also 2 boys between Deb and Lin. Tom, who lives with my parents, and Dan, who died tragically 10 years ago. Lin came to Houston this year when Midnight Dance by Moonlight was there.

I want to thank Kathy for stepping in to be with Deb (And, too, for all those long nights in hospital ) and for helping the family work out what needed doing when Deb became ill. And now to Lin who came all the way from Alaska and is carrying on to help Deb's husband who was already poorly with his heart and isn't doing so great at present.

Sometimes it is good to live in another country and sometimes it isn't.

And for another couple random photos from my time in America!

1.Why is Sponge Bob in the freezer?

2.Why is one of 2 cups left in the cupboard a taxidermy advert?

First night I was there I stayed in Kathy's house on my own. It is interesting to discover things in other peoples houses and then find out why, later. 1. Sponge Bob has a freezer bit inside of him and can be used to keep bumps and bruises from swelling. 2. All the dishes had been used by a student lodger who left them all on the side when he left at end of term and Kathy was already in Portland looking after Deb. The taxidermy cup was past find by one of Kathy's boys. It was on the very top shelf because she doesn't like using it either!!

And yes, I did up all the dishes before Kathy came the next day. The least she needed was to face that!

Thursday, 8 January 2009


Here is another of the 12x12 pieces I did for the journal quilt challenge for Contemporary Quilt group. This is for November. However, what with one thing and another, I just finished the quilting today. Most of quilts in this series used shapes, although I got a bit tired of that after the 6th one! I also used Koolaid dyed wool from an old blanket, so I was working with colour a bit. A lot brighter than I usually work with and because of the limited Koolaid colours I had, that too got a bit same-o same-o. However, after the 6th one, I set myself to do a technique, too. So, here I tried to do holes. However, satin stitching the edges made the floaty bits slightly wonky, so I put a piece of the backing fabric right-side up behind the hole and re-did the satin stitch. The shapes here are Free Machine Quilted to make it say Shape. One of the things which I attempted improve over the year was the Free Machine Quilting. I thought the wool would be quite forgiving. I am quite pleased at the progress! In fact, it has given me confidence to jump right in for other fabrics, too. remember the dragon foot?

By the way, I like to use varigated threads. I wait til Thread Studio from Australia are at one of the shows, and buy the various types they have. I like the blends of colours. If you choose a blend with a colour that matches your background closely, it makes an even more interesting pattern.
Okay, most people are done with Christmas photos, but as I had such a strange Christmas, even though it is well into the New Year, I have a few odd things to show you. When I was in Maine, the prices for lobsters was VERY low. I think around $3 or $4 a pound! Well, chicken is more than that! (At least here!) So, my dad thought we would have lobster for Christmas. However, so did everyone else in Maine! So, we finally got some to have on the Saturday following Christmas. M-m-m. Haven't had lobster for years. And it will probably be several more years before that happens again!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


This was my sister Debbie at the end of October 2008, just following her 46th birthday. Around the 10th of December, she learned she had stomach or pancreatic cancer. She passed away on the 30th December. What a shock. I am glad I got to go back to Maine to see her.

Debbie wanted the word spread that everyone should reconsider the amount of soft drink/pop/soda/coke they drink. Drink water instead if you can. It may make a difference in your health down the line.

Debbie also liked to sew and do crafty things. Here is an example of a bit of her wit. It was a post it on another sister's fridge, so I took a photo. Maybe i will do it in textiles just for the memory.
And now to catch up on all the things I meant to do over the Christmas holiday I never had.

These are the lovely flowers my husband bought to welcome me home.