Wednesday, 31 October 2012

BlacknWhite Cows running amok

Isn't amok a funny word? you should look up the meaning sometime and the background to it.

Anyway, Here are the two Black and White pieces I posted yesterday with the story about the cows I had as a teen.

I added some lollypop trees to fill in the space.

Then I quilted the background, taking inspiration from one of Leah Day's patterns called Landscape. But rather than quilt curves in every 'hill', I quilted 'plow lines' in different directions in selected 'fields'. You can see what I mean by looking at the back of one of the pieces. If you get close enough to see the quilting in the first place, it helps to move your eye around the piece.

This is the first time I have done much stitching on the screen printed black with white screen ink fabric. This was an experiment some time ago. The black, I learned, took forever to dry and then I had to use another fabric to 'blot' it when I heat set it. (The blotting fabric is what the pale print fabric turned out to be that I have been using.) The white on black didn't seem to be a the time. But since trying to stitch it for these last few days, I find it crumbles a bit and goes powdery in the areas where you stitch. and because the black fabric is a tighter weave, the areas with thicker white paint can sometimes cause the machine to balk at stitching through. I think I am going to find a way to use it up without alot of stitching, and then screen some replacement fabric with textile paints.

Anyway, here are both completed.

I think one will be Cows in My Field - which referrs to phone calls from the neighbours when the cows escaped.

and Cows in the Woods - which is what they did when they were supposed to go sedately down to the creek to drink.

So, now to fill out the forms and (SHOCK) sendthem off early!

I think I will do the last blue fruit - I have started it - for the Contemporary Quilt journals, and then November sewing will be focussed on something else.

Edit: I have linked this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

BlacknWhite - Cows

As I am on a roll here... I thought of another Black and White Memory to depict. You may not know that I grew up on a farm where we had no electricity or running water. No one at my school lived this way. Some memories are not anything I look back on with joy.(an understatement)It was hard work!

However, that aside, it was my job to look after the cows. Which also involved milking 2 of them every morning and evening and either leading (being dragged)them to the creek for water or lugging 2 5gallon buckets of water up from the creek to them - repeatedly till they had drunk their fill. So, having escaped the farm to the ease of surburbian England, I became a collector of cow things in my kitchen. Eventually there were way too many and I don't dust very often. Put it this way, when I do dust, I have to use the hoover!

So, I have now rather limited the cows to one or two I quite like and any that are a bit fun. I have been looking for a way to depict my own abstracted cows for a while. So, when I was thinking what else I could do for this black and white theme, I happened to notice the cloth serviettes we are using tonight. The cows torso is like a black and white checkerboard. Funky.

I thought, okay I could use some of the black and white printed fabric and see what I can come up with. almost straight away I came up with shapes I liked, but it took a while to find fabrics that suited for background. I was going to use the pale print I used on the Ivy piece, but I wasn't very happy with the look. I probably would have ended up adding 'grass' and would have had another Not BlacknWhite piece on my hands.

So, here was the selection and placement idea when I went to bed last night.

Tell me what you think. Fun?

Today I am working on it further, but I will post the steps tomorrow.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Old Streets, Snickleways and Half-timbered Houses

or BlacknWhite York piece.

Today I had a play with stitching a different design into each section on the BlacknWhite piece that I did last week which I said reminded me of York.

I got some of the ideas from Dijanne Cevaal's book 72 Ways Not to Stipple or Meander. She also has another book 72 More Ways Not to Stipple or Meander. You can purchase them from her by following the links in the sidebar of her blog.
Another place where you can get ideas for quilting patterns is from Leah Day's blog. She developed 365 different designs and has a weekly programme for working out ways to use them.

Anyway, I used this as a chance to play really, and try out ideas. Small chances, but there we are! The point was not for them to really be seen, so I used white thread on the centres of the sections.

There were already loads of lumps and bumps due to the seaming in the piece, so I used a few scraps of wadding for this one. What's one or two more bumps to sew?

The back shows the stitching a bit better even though it is white on white.

and here is the completed A4 piece. For now, it will be the companion piece to the Pepper piece for the Grosvenor show journal quilt challenge due end November.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

everyday creativity

clocks went back last night. What are you doing with your extra hour?
Some people start the day with a creative exercise - like a collage using bits of junk mail - like Karen Stiehl Osborn.

I discovered a blog this week where the lady is making a little mock up dress everyday of the year. She posted about it on the Creative Machine sewing list.
Jeannie has continued through the year even though she moved from America to France during the year!
Check out the blog. 365 Dresses you may have noticed I have added it to the blog list in the side panel.

I like the idea of having the inspiration, but I am not sure how good I would be at getting anything else besides the challenge done. On the other hand, the past few weeks I have actually been managing to work at making every day. (or at least every weekday that I have been here.)Not, I might add, starting first thing in the morning, but getting started eventually.

Maybe I could at least cut out one letter a day from my book that I started last year sometime! It was a project I was doing with the EquilARTeral group. But we are all so busy with other things that our together creativity seems to go into running the Thames Valley Contemporary Textile group.

I have been taking it with me when I have gone to York with my husband. He needs me to do something quiet as the house is very small, so I sit in Mum's chair and cut out letters. I have got to H.

Tell me what you think of the 365 dresses blog if you visit there. What do you think of setting yourself a quick creative exercise for each day?

Edit: Linda M commented that she does a daily stitching project. I like the way she limited the colour and choice of materials. The whole piece works together very well. you can see it here.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Something on Saturday

I really was taken with this mark made by an upturned arashi shibori pole. I think it would make a great screenprinting image.
This was from the Janice Gunner Indigo of the other student's newspaper work surface protection.

Friday, 26 October 2012

BlacknWhite - Pepper finished

I finished the quilting and then the edge stitching on the piece about Pepper today. If you are visiting via Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, the link you followed should show the posts I have been doing this week in the lead up to this piece. If you want to read each of them in order, just scroll down to the bottom and work your way up to this post.

This was the original sketch I was working from...a small bit of post it note one day when she was in here being my friend. I am glad I did it, I have several photos of her doing things, but not many just being my friend.

I showed the thread sketching previously. I used regular black sewing thread which is much more like Pepper's fur than a rayon would have been. Photos don't really show, but I went over certain parts with black rayon to be highlights.

Here is the quilting finished.

and then hanging on the 'design wall'*.

A look at the back. I was getting too much of the black bobbin thread coming to the surface. Not too bad for the part I designated 'floor'. But I changed to grey bobbin for the top section which I designated 'wall'.

I think I will finish off the piece that reminds me of York, to submit with this one for the Grosvenor Show Journal challenge. I may get around to working up another Pepper one, but the idea for it has been in my head for ages. Trouble is, she was so black that it is hard to discern where the limbs stop and start in photos.

*Currently a black linen skirt I intend to refashion in some way! LOL

Thursday, 25 October 2012

BlacknWhite - dog

So, I got Pepper 'coloured in'.

I have started the background quilting. It needs to be tight and close to take care of the puckering. However, the fabric the image was printed on is very sturdy, and with it layered on the quilted piece, the puckering is not as bad as it could have been.
Will finish it off tomorrow.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

BlacknWhite - this one!

Okay, I realised this print (from my pile of screen print fabrics) is the one which works as a background for the 'something black and white' that I want to put against it.
Which is...Pepper! A sketch I did of her in March 2009.

I really miss my little friend hanging out with me in here. So I thought that would be a great idea for Memories in Black and White.

In the above photo I was working out placement. Now I have started thread sketching over the image. The actual sketch was done on pink post it note! So, I took it into Paint Shop Pro, used the colour changer tool to convert the pink background to white. Then printed it out onto cotton printer fabric. Because the sketch was done in pencil, the graphite was read as grey with a cyan hue. I was just going to stitch over the image to give definition, but because the image looks grey, the black definition stood out too much.

So, I have started colouring her in!

unfortunately, I had decided to leave the 'shadow' on the image when I fused it to the background. So I will have to colour it in as well so it doesn't look like it is a lighter area. She did have white on her chin, but only in front. and white on her chest, which doesn't show in the sketch, and her toes, which does show.

Will work on it more tomorrow when I have a bit more brain.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

'Not' Blacknwhite

It started out to be blacknwhite, but rather got coloured in.

Even him upstairs - (A Certain Young Man who Has Opinions) - says it's Not black and white. Even if you use it for a background for a black and white something. And wouldn't the black and white something get lost in the background?

I guess you are right.

Nice fence with ivy though, don't you think? I enjoyed the drawing with the machine and the colouring in with coloured pencils. Smiley

The blacknwhite thing was going to go in the general area of the vacant spot in the ground, so no point in scribbling grass in there. But instead I turned it into a worn patch. I think someone plays ball in the garden here.

Okay. Try again.

This, by the way is fully 'drawn' with thread through 3 layers. But I won't finish the edge yet. It might want to be part of something else some day, who knows.

The original fabric before the thread drawing and colouring in.
you can just see the print areas in the piece - adds a bit of depth. and in the worn patch, I drew over the cracks to make the ground.

Monday, 22 October 2012


This week I am trying a few things with these black and white screen printed fabrics I did some time ago. I have an aim in mind, but I am not sure what sort of background I want to use.

Today's background is made using Kathy Loomis' method of piecing. It is far too graphic for what I had in mind -it would overwhelm the image I want to put in front. But I absolutely love it! It is up on the wall to see where I will take it from here. This is just the top - A4 size. At the moment it looks like it might just be a stand alone piece. It is kind of saying something about York to me.
old street maps, snickelways and half timbered buildings come to mind.

I want to enter the Memories in Black and White Journal Quilt challenge put on by the Grosvenor shows. If I get my original idea done, I will tell you when it works. Not ready for advice at this point. But it will be okay to do more than the 2 you need to send. You can send multiples of 2.
So, now, rather than doing 2, I am looking at doing 4. See how things mount up? Well at least I am way ahead of my normal self. The entry is due the end of November.

Is this a plus side of not teaching...that you can do work for things and actually be ahead? Or is it a minus in that you opt to do things you would not have done before? Am I doing more work now or less? Interesting questions.

Sunday, 21 October 2012


3 pounds of pears from the tree in the backgarden
add quite alot of muscle and time cutting up and grinding pear chunks because you don't actually want to peel the pears
and 1.5 hours oven time (150 degrees C or 300 degrees F)

yield - 2 and a bit jars of pear butter.

Do I feel virtuous? yes.
Will I do this again.

...not sure. The house smells good.

I think next time I will partially grind in the food processor, and then just use the little grinder for getting the peel out.

It might help to have an adult size food mill rather than a baby one.

PS I did this on Friday night when my husband was up in York visiting his mum.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Something On Saturday

This tapestry was hanging in the dark hallway at Great Missenden when I was there a few weeks ago.

I have always been fascinated with the millefleurs tapestries. (French for “a thousand flowers”.) There are some interesting facts at this webpage. For instance, the tapestry above seems to be a copy of the piece about Touch.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Blackberries Blue saga

I decided to use the woven background that I made on the way to creating the one for the Tumbling Blocks. If you want to read about that process earlier this week, you can find them under woven background.

I came across work by Hilary Beattie and thought I might try her concept of silhouettes on a patterned background. However like most of what I do, I never seem to get instructions first or if I have them, I digress right from the beginning. So, I guess you can say that this piece was 'inspired by' Hilary's technique!

Anyway, this was to be a blue journal quilt for Contemporary Quilt's 2013 Journal Quilt challenge. According to my own restrictions, it was also to have a fruit. Blue fruit is a bit limited in scope, so I chose blackberries and the intent was to depict them in deep blue...thinking silhouette.

The rest of the post shows how my intent developed. As Nina-Marie commented on Snowy Night, these are little art studies. You learn by doing, but have a result in the end as well. Sort of sketching with the real thing.

I started with a free photo of a handful of blackberries. Then I cut out all the highlights to make a stencil. At this point I had a foggy idea of giving more definition to a berry silhouette by stenciling highlights.

Sometimes intent gets diverted in the early stages. I started looking for a deep navy fabric that had slight patterning. I had used most of it last week on Snowy Night. I didn't want to cut into my indigo fabric yet. I found a small bit of Val Bennett's hand-dye that I had saved because I really love it. But, as you can see, it barely resembles deep navy at all!
So, I traced round the template and used a silver coloured pencil through the stencil to mark the highlights. Okay, now I realised this is no where near like a get it darker I'd have to do something.

I tested the idea of colouring on the back with a permenant pen which might create a deeper shade without obscuring the patterning in the fabric or obliterating the highlights. It seemed to look like it would work. It was looking interesting with black when I thought I would add just a smidge of colour with purple.
Turn over...


Okay, rinse rinse rinse in the sink. some colour comes out. coloured pencil comes out. blodges stay in.

In pressing the colour bleed out onto paper towel, I realise the back is quite nearly the holy grail of blackberry fabric altogether! HA.

So, I turn it over, give it a bit more overall colour including blue. and re-do the highlights on this side!
(That was yesterday's teaser photo.) I also added a bit of definition and did mental high-fives and showed A Certain Young Man who can appreciate these things if you get him in the right mood.
High Five!

So, now how about leaves? So, there was a bit of green in the mottled blue fabric. I went through the same process for these...including thinking the colour on the back would work for the front. (Slow learner!)
and settling for the back as the front.

In my defense, I will say, I think the 'colour on the back' process might actually work if I am not wanting a dark image. It produced interesting mottled marks. However, the markers do stink! and especially when you press it (between parchment) in hopes the colour is set.

So, from there, I put black Misty Fuse fusible web on the back, checked the positioning on the background, and decided to give the illusion of a still life by quilting the lower portion of the background horizontally. And the upper portion alternating vertical and horizontally giving the suggestion of tiles.

When the quilting was done, I fused the blackberries on, and then stitched into them to adhere further and to give a bit of definition.

A bit of close zig-zag edge on the piece which had been trimmed to A4 size and it is complete!

And I am ahead of the game for Journal Quilts!

and have a mouthwatering desire for Blackberry Cobbler.

I am linking to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday. Check the others out!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

What is it?

My computer is being slow and it is late, so here is a teaser of what I have been up to today.

What do you think this might be?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Chasing Backgrounds - Woven Tumbling blocks

Et Voila!

Here is the finished Journal Quilt. My favourite colour turquoise blue. I think for this one it is enough, I won't try to take it further. It was about the experiment. I think it might make too much of a statement to work as a background unless your foreground image was a silhouette.

I quilted along the tops and bottoms of the 'sides' of the blocks. Then looked to see what else to do. However, that made the lighter tops of the blocks float nicely which really helps with the optical illusion concept. So, I have left the lighter fabrics as is. Because they were cut on the bias, they won't fray, so can cope with being left unquilted.

Next month I may try the silhouette idea with the first woven piece I did when I started this. There are 2 more blue pieces to do. With the plan I am working to, they should be fruits. We will see!

I might try to get ahead so I don't have to fret over how to fit it in during December.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Chasing Backgrounds - Woven Tumbling Blocks

Well, What I was attempting to weave took a few more adjustments. I was trying to weave a tumbing block pattern.
Last night when I showed where I had got to, I had the weave right, but not the angle.

I called in the Resident Mathamatician who helped me work out that it needed to be a 45 degree angle.

By this time the 3rd strip was frayed to beyond endurance, so I searched through my newly organised fabric and found this piece which had been a clamp resist dye sample at a tie dye workshop I did sometime back.

This time I cut it into bias strips, thinking to reduce fraying.
Okay it does, but it also stretches and narrows the strip so that you don't get precise angles. It works for this trial version. If I were mad enough to do it again, I would draw angles on the interfacing first. I think if I did it again, I would use turned fabric tubes, so as to avoid stretching and fraying.

However, the plus about using this fabric is that when it is cut, the dye patterning creates a mottled effect which creates a more natural look of the light bouncing off the blocks! Cool.

Somehow it was easier for me to do the weave spaced out. If you squint, you can see the blocks in there.

Now that I knew the pattern, I was able to easily weave the inbetween strips to complete the whole piece.

The interfacing under it all was cut about 1 inch larger on all sides than A4. I am glad, the edges get rather confusing and floppy. Because of the weave, the strips don't touch the interfacing in as many places as a weave which is plainer, so it is more likely to shift about. So, after I had pressed it to fuse the strips down, I centred and pinned an A4 piece of paper down and then used the edge of it for a guide to stitch and hold it together.

I trimmed it 1/2 in outside of the stitching line. I will trim again when it is quilted. The quilting might cause it to shrink a bit.
You can see that the blocks aren't precise. Using tubes might resolve that. It was very hard to snug the strips up to the last set when on the diagonal. However for my purposes...a journal quilt... it was about learning how to do what I wanted to do so I could determine whether I wanted to do it again.

And so after all that. I Googled ideas for how to quilt this. Being woven it is very loose. Something to keep in mind should I choose something like this as a background. Google kept thinking I wanted a pattern for actually making the blocks. One of the links that came up was an e-how tutorial about how to do a woven tumbling block.


and sure enough, get the second strips woven on the diagonal at 45 degrees.

Ah well. I learned this all on my own - with a Certain Young Man's help.

The photo that accompanies the e-how tutorial does not resemble a tumbling block quilt though, so it might be hard to get your head round.

The quilting will happen tomorrow. The throat isn't so bad as yesterday, but the voice is coming and going. So to bed.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Chasing Backgrounds - woven

I am Chasing Backgrounds again. I thought I would see about weaving the background. I will show a few steps another day.
Here is a variation on a plain weave.
I have fused this and could choose to use it in some way...perhaps with one of the fruit on it?

But what I want to do is get a weave that gives the look of the cubes or tumbling blocks. I saw one somewhere. I have had a few versions
plain weave diagonal

attempt to change it to what I want, but end up with a diagonal version of the first photo.

and at last I think I am getting there.
There is room to weave the 3rd strip through diagonally the other direction.

It is not helped by the fact that one of my fabrics was just the right colour, but being from a bit chopped off a dress I altered for someone, it is shredding all over the place. I am going to have to choose another option for the cube affect.

But that will be tomorrow. I have had a sore throat all day, so off to bed. Probably from going up to London on my son says 'It's really bad to travel by tube.' Well, not always. But I guess when you have already gone past overdoing it, it is easier to catch something.