Tuesday, 26 June 2012


This non-summer drags on with day after day of rain and absolutely nothing in the garden coming into bloom.  Our apples are still the size of walnuts, the peonie which normally flowers in early June, is still in bud and the day lilies are only showing tints of orange behind their closed petals.  So when the sun came out on Sunday we took the opportunity to go and 'look at the sea' at Porthleven.

Porthleven is a small fishing village near Helston.  We hadn't been there for some time and I noticed that it is gentrifying somewhat.  There is at least one up-market restaurant and there was a Sunday craft fair in full swing.

Porthleven is on a very exposed piece of coastline.  When there is a really good storm, the waves are unbelievable and photos of them regularly make it into the newspapers.  There is a long pier sticking out into the bay which is closed when the wind gets too high.

Here is the red ball that is raised.

The harbour is a 'double harbour' which is essential to protect the fishing boats and the village from the worst of the winds. You can just see the entrance to the inner harbour at the left of the photo above and here it is from closer in.

There are plenty of small boats at anchor and we assumed that it is mainly a crabbing port. The most famous building is the 'institution' situated at the start of the pier.

According to Wikipaedia there have been many shipwrecks on this part of the coast as it is easy for ships to be blown in the direction of Loe Bar, a few miles away.  There is a lovely walk from Helston down to the sea at Loe Bar which we have done in the past.

As you can see the bar extends almost across the shoreline and, to the left in this photo, there is a long lake.
Porthleven itself has a sandy beach but also a very rocky area which is popular with surfers.

These days Porthleven is also a popular holiday destination with many cottages to rent and lots of tourists.  However, I think this group were locals, judging from their accents.

As always I was on the lookout for images that might be useful for my journal quilts.  This week I have been reading up on Terry Frost and Patrick Heron, both St Ives modernists.  I was not going to include them among possible artists for inspiration but then realised that they were both great exponents of colour.  The book I found in the library on Terry Frost which was small enough to carry home, included a page on how he travelled from St Ives almost to Lands End looking for yellows.  So when I saw this lichen on the harbour wall I had to take its photo.

I was also taken with this piece of iron on the wall of the building behind the group above.

And finally, as we made our way back towards the car I saw the Porthleven gig.  Pilot gigs are traditional open six oar rowing boats which were originally used as general workboats and for taking pilots out to boats coming in from the Atlantic.  The gigs would race to get their pilot on first and collect the payment for bringing the ship in safely.  In the twenty-first century pilot gig racing has become a popular sport and most towns and villages in this area have at least one Pilot gig club.  Both men and women crew them and the racing season culminates in the World Pilot Gig racing championships which are held on the isles of Scilly at the beginning of May.

And as you can see, the boat is yellow. Now I need to get on and make these quilts!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

May Journal Quilt

Yes, I know we are now well into June but I have now finished my May journal quilt.  The Jubilee weekend provided plenty of opportunity for hand stitching while keeping half an eye on the television coverage.  I have managed to stick with my personal challenge of making these quilts 'in the style of'' various twentieth century artists although it is not always easy to think of artists whose styles adapt to the medium.  I also wanted to try doing some more pojagi so began by dyeing a lot of fabric yellow.

These are pieces of silk organza.  I learnt from this exercise that organza soaks up the dye.  I put organza and ramie into the same plastic bag based dye and the organza mostly came out quite dark while the ramie in the photo below was much more pastel.

I also did a range of other fabrics that I am sure will be used in some of the other yellow quilts. The next  photo includes linen and cheesecloth along with cotton sateen.  I love yellow and am very happy to use it in quilts but I had used up almost all I had in the wedding present quilt I made my nephew last year.

I settled on Mondrian as the artist for this month.  His work is actually quite easy to mimic because it contains so many squares and oblongs.  I was thinking of the fields of oilseed rape that surrounded our village in Northamptonshire and the bulb fields down here although I was surprised at how few photos I had, particularly digital ones.  I chose to use ramie for the first side of the quilt but I used much smaller pieces than I had in the January Rothko quilt.

As it is not normal to quilt pojagi I decided to make it a 'reversible' quilt and do a second one from organza.

This photo is not brilliant but I forgot to photograph it before I attached it to the ramie side!  And the bottom is straight - it is just the camera that lets me down.  I included two red patches to represent the narcissi that have red centres.  We have lots of commercial bulb fields in this area and they are mostly planted in blocks of different varieties so that the overall impression is of bands of colour.  Again the photos I thought I had are just images in my mind.

I put the two quilts together with two rows of hand-stitching in variegated yellow thread.  Then in order to 'quilt' it (a condition of the journal quilts challenge) I used variegated thread in yellow and orange to stitch some stars in randon squares.  I worked from the ramie side but with such a thin item the embroidery is also visible on the reverse, albeit not in a planned fashion.

I think my June quilt may be inspired by one of the St Ives modernists although when I began this project I thought I would try and avoid them as being a little too close to home.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Jubilee weekend what's that?

We have realised that once you are retired, bank holiday weekends rather pass you by.  Down here they generally mean an inundation of tourists but, possibly because it has been so wet, we have not noticed many people about.  Although the local newspaper was full of information about events, especially Big Lunches and the lighting of bonfires, we have not seen much in our immediate area.

I can see this flag from my bedroom and I found one other cottage across the road that has bunting

but that is about it.  There have not been any street parties in this immediate area but I think that is partly because it is quite 'elderly'.  Probably just as well given how wet it has been.

Yesterday the weather actually cleared for a couple of hours and we were able to go for a short walk along the path that leads from Penzance to Marazion.  We began from Long Rock which is a very popular place for the locals to take their dogs to walk on the beach.

The path goes all the way from Penzance railway station to Marazion bounded on the right by the beach and on the left by the main railway line.  You have to be a bit careful as it is a shared path for pedestrians and cyclists and if you are walking you don't hear the cyclists because of the noise of the waves.  Mounts Bay and the Mount were looking glorious:

What really struck my was the great variety of flowers, not all of which were wild.  Here are some of the things I noticed.

Broom growing along the fence between the path and the railway line,

Sea thrift on the rocks.  This is more what I expect to see at this time of year.

Oilseed rape and umbelliferous plants.  There is an incredible amount of windblown rape this year although it is very late coming out.  There is more of it in the first photo.

I rather liked this evidence of rabbits living cheek by jowl with the trains.  Then there were some escaped garden plants.  I don't know what this is!

I think this is a member of the hollyhock family.  It certainly isn't originally a wildflower.

I am always on the lookout for more unusual photos when on this kind of walk and I rather liked this sign

which was on a very 'dead' hut.  There certainly hasn't been a lifeguard on this section of the beach for as long as I have known it.

The rest of the weekend I have managed to make some progress on my May journal quilt.  I began this as a second piece of hand stitched bojagi  using ramie.  I took it to Copenhagen but I didn't get very far.  On Sunday I sat and 'watched' the river pageant in the best stitcher's way i.e. with one eye on the TV and the other on the needle.  This side of the quilt is now finished but not quite the right size and I fear that when I come to trim it to size I am going to hit some seams.

While watching the St Pauls service this morning (not planned, I went to mark the Grayson Perry programme to record) I have started on the reverse side which is pojagi made of organza.

And my excuse for not getting this quilt finished sooner?  Well, at the beginning of this week I took delivery of my new iPad.  Having left my Kindle on the plane to Copenhagen I decided to upgrade.  I have bought a painting programme, got all my Kindle books on to it and made good use of iPlayer but it is going to be a steep learning curve, particularly as we are a PC family and I have been told to expect no help!