Sunday, 25 April 2010

April Journal Quilt

I have got there by the 30 April deadline and finished all four journal quilts in rapid concentrated time.  My April one is all hand stitched as I wanted something I could do on two six hour train journeys.  The inspiration is another photo of canal reflections I took in Venice.

The sun had disappeared and we had some free time so I went for a walk off the tourist trail.  I got lost in true Venetian style as I ultimately found myself back where I had started but I really like the soft colours in this photo.  I may well do something larger than a journal quilt if I can sort out some fabric.

I kept to my resolution to recycle/use only things I already have by making this one in silks from my 'bridal box'.  Ten years ago someone in the village where we lived retired from her business making wedding dresses and gave me one of those removal men's packing cases full of fabric off-cuts.  The fabric included loads of polyester satin, silk dupion, velvet, wedding veil netting and various odd bits of printed silk.  I have gradually used up most of the coloured silks which are an interesting statement of the colours that were fashionable for weddings in the 1990s.  I have given some away and I could go into business making small bags.  A couple of months ago I decided the supplies had shrunk enough for me to remove them from the box which had to live in my bedroom and they are now in something a little smaller in the studio.

This quilt is simply raw edged pieces layered direct onto the wadding.  The raw edges become part of the design.  Apart from the colours, the main thing that hit me about the photo was all the vertical lines so I stitched it closely in Kanta style.  I used Stef Francis variegated threads that I already had.  Some of them contained both dull pinks and turquoise which I thought might be a problem but actually worked really well.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Wedding present quilts

I spent last weekend in London.  I went in order to go to the Contemporary Quilt Group AGM and the quilt exhibition at the V and A.  It was lovely to see people at the AGM including a number whom I only knew as names on our Yahoo site.  The guest speaker, Ann Smith, was truly inspirational.  To find out what she told us go to who has posted all the details.  I also wanted to go the Quilt exhibition at the V and A and did that on Monday morning before I came back.  That was a very good idea as it was not at all crowded.  Being more of a lover of modern quilts, especially quilt art, I particularly enjoyed the contemporary work although I thought that by mixing the contemporary pieces in with the heritage quilts, it was a bit difficult for non-quilters to see how we got from one to the other.  I made this trip with one of my sisters and she was very pleased to find our Hoadley name embroidered on an amazing quilt made by a tailor in Edinburgh.  The 'e' was missing but two hundred years ago this was often the case.  It was probably not one of our ancestors but nice to find your name when it is fairly uncommon.

The rest of the weekend we spent catching up with some of our family.  Our eldest nephew has just announced his engagement and we took him and his fiancee out for dinner. The big question was whether I should offer to make them a quilt as a wedding present or would they feel obliged to accept the offer politely while thinking it was the last thing they wanted!  I made a quilt for his brother Alastair about four years ago

 but the second brother got a set of saucepans.  I decided then that quilts for wedding presents should ideally fill certain requirements.  The first is not to ask the recipients exactly what they want or you may be waiting for decades as they probably have little idea of the possibilities.  The second is that I do not design them myself and the third is that I do not make quilts that are big enough for five foot wide beds plus sides.  After doing one for myself at the beginning of the century I swore never to do a double one again!  So the design for Alastair and Isabelle's  that you see above was taken from Cut Loose Quilts by Jan Mullen and was basically a lap quilt or topper.  The colours were chosen after my sister had a conversation with Isabelle's mother and, without saying why she wanted to know, came back with 'fuschia colours'.  When I arrived at the wedding it was apparent I had got it right as all the women in Isabelle's family and the bridesmaids were dressed in the colours I had used.

I have now added another rule: in future these quilts for presents will be long-arm quilted.  I know it is very expensive but I don't think I have the time or energy to do the whole thing.  And there is only one more nephew who is seriously in the frame for a wedding present.  Anyway I made the offer and it was accepted with enthusiasm.  I have told them to think about colours and I will go back to Jan Mullen for another design that is reasonably quick to do.  The wedding is in the autumn so I have warned them they may not get it in time.  This is partly because whatever colour scheme they choose I will then have to buy most/all of the fabric and I have found this is quite a time-consuming task, especially when I am more or less dependent on on-line shopping.  However, I frequently make a cushion as a sample so I am sure I could finish that in time.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Spring flowers in the far West of Cornwall

I think that the awful winter has made us all much more conscious of the arrival of spring this year.  Or maybe it is just the wonderful weather we have had this week.  I looked at my garden, which is quite small, and realised that there were gaps where things had not survived so I have been visiting garden centres and nurseries in search of perennials.  I have to say that most places had very little stock but the places I went to had added attractions in the form of gardens full of magnolias and camelias which are wonderful this year.

First stop was Burncoose Nursery  This is a specialist tree and shrub nursery between Redruth and Falmouth.  It belongs to the Williams family who also own Caerhays Castle in mid-Cornwall.  They are the family responsible for all the camellias with 'Williamsae' in the name.  I have never been to Caerhays but Burncoose has a wonderful woodland garden.  The magnolias were magnificent.  The tree above was the first one I saw.  The blooms were huge, if rather difficult to photograph against the light.

The camellias and rhodendrons were not really out which surprised me but I suppose that Burncoose is ten miles further inland than we are.  There was a second wonderful magnolia in similar shades of pink:

There was also a tree with flowers in the most wonderful shades of cream with pink stamens.  It reminded me of wedding dresses from my childhood.  Unfortunately a lot of the blooms had 'gone over' but I did manage to get some close-ups of stamens.

The stamens were really pink even though the petals were not.

The next day I went to Trewidden Garden   It belongs to the Bolitho family who also own Trengwainton but because Trewidden is not National Trust it gets far fewer visitors. I found there was also a connection with Caerhays as one of the Bolitho women married a Williams and this led to the garden acquiring a unique magnolia.  There have been a lot of improvements to this garden since I last visited a couple of years ago and the camelias were magnificent.  

As you can see I had my fill of pink!  I finished the week by popping into Germoe where I remembered that this time last year the churchyard had the most wonderful display of primroses.  I think they have naturalised over many years.  

The daffodils are also very good.  Germoe is a tiny place near Praa Sands, more of a hamlet than a village and as it is off the main road I don't think many people know about it.  The church is a typical Cornish granite building dating from the middle ages.  Well worth a visit if you are passing.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Catching up - March Journal Quilt

I am not someone who generally likes doing things at the last moment so making three journal quilts in as many weeks is proving an interesting experience.  I am one of those people who spends hours thinking about the design even if not much gets from my head to paper, collage or whatever.  Somehow it all has to gel in my head and the actual construction can often be done quite quickly.  I think it is something to do with learning style as I always had to leave the final draft of my essays to mature for a few days before I wrote out the copy to hand in. (long before the days of word-processing of course).  So it is with these journal quilts.

My Venetian theme continues.  This one began with a photo of reflections taken on a relatively sunny afternoon.

I was particularly interested in the reflections so I cropped and enlarged the lower portion of the photo in Elements.  Then I stared at it, realised that there were interesting coloured margins to the blobs and that there were far more colours in it than I had at first thought.  Next I tried various ideas for techniques in paper collage.  Some of these have potential but not for a piece that is seven inches by ten.  So I went back to my January decision to use only fabrics left over from other projects and sought out some that were in the main colours of yellow and brickish pink.  I was in luck as I had another monoprinted piece of cotton in yellow and some brick coloured hand dyed fabric that I had stamped, using a stamp I made from a pencil eraser.  I seem to remember that I was originally trying to represent markings on old boats with this piece.  Given the quilt size is less than A4 I photocopied the fabrics and then made a full-size paper collage .  The original design had some added bits to be appliqued on the bottom piece but once I had pieced it I decided it was too much.  I am trying to follow the KISS (keep it simple stupid rule) this year as I am rather too fond of embellishments.  

As you can see the final thing is quite simple and did not take long to make.  My big achievement has been doing a very narrow binding, thanks to Mai-Britt Axelsen who shared how she does it with the Contemporary Quilt Yahoo group.  My 1/8th inch binding is so good that I think I should go back and redo the binding on my January quilt as the 1/4 inch one on that now looks very clumpy.  And yes, the photo is slightly squiffy.  I have realised that taking these photos with my compact camera means that parrallax stops the photo being square.  I will go back to using the SLR next time but the battery was flat!

I am determined to do the April Journal Quilt by next Thursday so that I can take it to London for the Show and Tell at the Contemporary Quilt AGM.  It will be more reflections.  I have some more Venice photos taken in very different light and I have pulled out various fabric scraps that will probably work at this size.  I just have to resist the temptation to do the gardening now that spring has finally arrived..

Monday, 5 April 2010

Easter and a Journal Quilt at last

When you live in a tourist destination public holidays and weekends become times when you hide in your garden and leave the 'innits' to get on with it.  This weekend has been no different.  The weather has been freezing so going out has not been an attractive idea.  I managed to mow the lawn for the first time this year in between showers and I have begun to think about what I am going to put in all the bare spots where things have died.  But that's about all.  Yesterday I decided it was really time I went for a walk so I put on my walking boots in case of very wet paths (which was the case) and went for a short stroll up the nearest valley.  There were plenty of daffodils and primroses in the hedgerows.  This little piece of wood will soon have bluebells.

The gorse this year is particularly brilliant.  There are two kinds of gorse in Cornwall: one flowers at Easter and the other in high summer so we have yellow much of the time.

This is the view from the top of the hill where I climb out of the first valley.  This stretch is good for blackberries in September but there is a spring just behind where I took this photo and as I had anticipated it was very wet indeed.

This morning I was determined to finish my second journal quilt.  Here it is:

It is called 'Pilone' and represents one of the wooden piles that mark the navigable channels in the Venetian lagoon.

You may remember from an earlier posting that the background is a piece of cotton painted with acrylics left over from an earlier project.  I have several of these in different colours and another one or two may well appear in the next journal quilts.  I laid net over parts of the piece and then heavily machine quilted them.  The pilone is Lutradur which I painted, roughly bonded to the background and then machine quilted to represent the grain in the wood.  The metal bands in the photo are some leather I found among my embellishments.  I spent a chunk of this afternoon trying out different ideas for the next two journal quilts based on the photos of Venetian reflections but I haven't got very far yet.