Monday, 16 December 2013

2013 and all that

I knew this blog had fallen down a hole but I did not realise how deep it was until I looked at the postings just now!  I see I have not even commented on the success of my second photobook and I remembered this morning that I also have one half made of Venice so I shall have to do a posting about those.

I have had a rather peculiar autumn because my muscular condition (Inclusion Body Myositis - potentially rather nasty) has played me up and prevented me from getting on with things.  Now I feel I must pick up life again and get back to some art textiles.  Getting out to take photos is more difficult, though, as I have to be so careful about walking on my own.  So here is an update on what I have made (or not).

The two new bed quilts that I sent off to be long-arm quilted are now finished and on our beds.  My husband's was made entirely from scraps as a winter project in winter 2011-2012.  It began as a square lap quilt and I had to extend it when he said he wanted it on his bed, hence the wide borders at top and bottom.

It is interesting how an activity like this shows you the colours you usually work in as I had no trouble putting together lots of leftovers.  It is just a simple nine patch.  As my husband is extremely fond of cats I chose a quilting pattern of cats which I think is very effective.

My quilt was made from pre-cut fabric as we are too far from places to choose fabric in shops.  I used Hoffman batiks and bought jelly rolls and large squares.  It is a big five foot wide bed so I had to buy two packets of each and have quite a few leftovers.  I suspect I could make another quilt if I combined the leftovers with cream of some kind.

It has taken me a while to get used to the colours in this one as I do not usually do pinks or purples but they have worked well.  The quilting pattern is floral to reflect the flowers of various kinds in the fabric and the binding is pieced from the leftover strips.

The main problem I have with this quilt is that it is too big to fit in a domestic washing machine.  Our older cat suffers from IBS and has 'accidents' which is one of the main reasons for replacing the old one.  Now I find I have to whip the new one off and put the old one on if I think he is going to have an 'episode'.  I am not terribly happy about sending the new quilt to the cleaner at the supermarket although I know I shall have to at some point.

And here is my December calendar photo so that you can see what Penzance is like at this time of the year.

This was actually a storm a couple of years ago when the waves were so high that I got completely drenched when I ended up in the middle of one as I was trying to take photos.  We have had plenty of days like this this year but I have not been down to the Prom to look at them.

I will try and post about the photobooks but in the meantime Happy Christmas and I hope to be a better blogger in 2014!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Second Photobook

I received my Photobook of Lake Como last week.  I am so pleased with it that I have been doing one of the South Island of New Zealand which I finished at lunchtime and sent off.  It was thanks to a reader of this blog that I learnt about Jessops photobooks  You download the software, work on it at your own pace (which means you can save it and come back to it) and then upload the finished product.  Here are some of the pages:

I feel these books are particularly good for photos of art works.  I seemed to have a lot of them on this occasion and it certainly makes it easier to study them rather then just having them on the computer.  The fourth photo is of friezes on a monastery wall and I was able to take the photo of the whole wall and then put the details on the same page.  Brilliant.

I am very pleased with the quality of the photographs and the endless possibilities for different layouts.  I have to admit that I have had a couple of problems with the South Island, though.  I did the Trans-Alpine train journey and took lots of photos through the windows.  For some reason the template did not like most of them even one which another on-line company had accepted for a calendar.  So I have just not used them. I particularly enjoyed working on this second one because I stayed in Hokitika which is the setting for 'The Luminaries', the book by Eleanor Catton that has been short-listed for the Man Booker prize and tipped to win by a number of reviewers.  The setting feels much more real because I have been there.

I also have a 'work in progress' on Venice.  At some point I plan to do one of the North Island of New Zealand but I have many more photos than I had of the South Island so I may end up doing a separate book of Wellington.  As these books are not cheap, I am not doing them of every trip though.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Late summer at Ding Dong

Today I think autumn has arrived!  It suddenly feels much colder and time to put away the high summer clothes. But only a week ago it was still summer so we went up to Ding Dong mine, about a mile from here.

Ding Dong is an old tin mine that stands on one of the highest points on the Penwith moors and is visible from a great distance.  The surrounding area is covered in bracken and heather although the summer flowering heather is just about over.   There is also brilliant orange mombretia (crocosmia to gardeners) which grows wild everywhere here.  It used to be a constant battle to keep it under control in our holiday cottage garden so now I refuse to plant any of it in any colour.

At the far (northern) side of the moors is Carn Galver.  Well worth climbing up for the views it provides of the north coast and the narrow coastal plain.  You can just see the peak in this photo.

The field system here is reputed to be oldest in Britain and to date back to the Iron Age.  Very small fields were created by clearing the stones and piling them up to form walls.

In the middle distance in the photo above is the village of Zennor which is famous because D.H.Lawrence and Katherine Mansefield both rented cottages there during the First World War.  People thought that the lights they showed (no electricity of course) were signals to the Germans because D.H.Lawrence's wife was German!

The field system appears emore clearly in this shot of one of the farms.

Back at Ding Done the umbelliferae (parsley family) are now drying out, leaving interesting combinations of colours.  These photos said ' weaving' to me as I could imagine lines of colour blending and intersecting.

Many of the artists in this area are inspired by the lines of the vegetation.  As I did not have any drawing things with me, I took photos that I now need to manipulate in Elements or print out and draw from.

Ding Dong is also a great area for wildlife, especially birds.  At certain times of the year flights of migrating birds swoop overhead as they leave the UK for warmer climes.  On this occasion we saw a lot of different butterflies as it has been a good year for them: tortoiseshells in different forms, some blues and even a bright yellow one.  But photographing them is another matter!  And my husband saw a weasel which came out of the undergrrowth onto the path, took one look at him and disappeared again.

Sunday, 1 September 2013


From time to time I think I should make one or two photo books of my best holiday photos, using an on-line company.  After all, you never look at photos that are just stuck on the computer. Photobox, who do my Christmas calendars, is one possibility.  The calendars are brilliant.  My sister uses Snapfish so that is an alternative.  This week I decided I really should get my act together so I spent hours and hours sorting through my photos of the specialist art tour I took to Lake Como in 2011 and making a folder that I could upload easily. There was an interesting mixture of photos: the usual 'snapshots' of the landscape

a few shots of people as 'local colour'

lots of the various art works we studied such as this fresco

and sculptures on churches

and finally, things I saw that said 'Design' to me.

This is fruit on an ornamental palm tree.

I am afraid that I have not got much further with this project, however, because the website drove me mad!  I like to be 'arty' and arrange the photos one by one so that they make sense by subject matter and theme.  I have not done a photo book before and it told me I had to put all the photos in order before I dragged them into the boxes.  You are given possible arrangements by date or title in alphabetical order.  This is not what I want!  So at six pm on Friday I gave up.  I guess I will have to phone them and try and find out how I can do it.  I was prepared to be annoyed by the automatic cropping but not having total control of the layout is hopeless.  

I had already made a folder for Venice and I have the beginnings of ones for New Zealand but the finished products are expensive so it has taken me literally years to decided I can afford it.  I could always simply order prints and put them in an album but I do not think it is the same.

September Calendar

1 September today and time to turn the calendar over.  Here is the photo that we will be looking at this month.

I took it on my 2008 trip to New Zealand.  I spent a few days in the South Island with a friend.  We went by train to the West Coast which neither of us had ever been to. We stayed in Hokitika and one morning I got up early and managed to get some really good photos of the river and even Mt Aorangi (Cook) which was well over a hundred miles away.  This was a sculpture on the beach.  I have no idea if it is supposed to represent anything but it was very striking.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Farm animals wall hanging

I have been quite busy over the last couple of weeks making a present for our next door neighbours' new baby who was born last Thursday.  I decided that I would not make a quilt but something a bit different.  I applied my usual rule for presents of making as much as possible of it from fabric that was already in my stash.  I did very well because I also found I had wadding and backing fabric so no shopping required.  Here it is:

The design is by Margaret Rolfe from her book 'A Quilter's Ark'.  This book was published in 1997 and I made one or two things from it then.  I was surprised to see that it is still available but I can see why people might want to make the designs as they are rather fun.  The blocks are foundation pieced.

I found it quite fiddly as it was a long time since I had worked this way and the blocks are quite small.  They are finished with hand embroidery.

In the past I have enlarged the pattern to make larger blocks that can be used on their own. The book includes a wonderful Noah's Ark which would be great for a really special child but after doing this hanging, I realise it would also be quite a large piece of work as each animal appears twice.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Bookwrap Gems

Like lots of other people, I am making a rather belated attempt to produce bookwrap gems for the Festival of Quilts.  These will form the basis of the tombola and raise funds for the quilt museum in York.  Some of us see it as an opportunity to recycle UFOS, leftovers and even journal quilts.  Margaret Cooter is aiming to make thirty and has put instructions on her blog (see 'This weekends bookwraps') The 2010 journal quilts are just the right size for an A6 bookwrap and you can find a quick way of converting them into bookwraps here at A Fabric Adiction:   However, when I got mine out I found that some of the compositions do not work when turned 90 degrees. I also remembered that 2010 was the year I learnt to do extremely narrow (1/8 ins) bindings which meant that I had to remove the bindings completely and sew on new ones.

Actually I began making bookwrap gems in the winter.  I made two by hand from scraps of fabric that I then overlaid with net and heavily hand-stitched.  This one is fine.

I put a binding on the second one and then found it was not big enough to hold the book so it has gone into the cupboard and will have to be rethought.

Now I have started again.  I have made several A6 sized ones from fabric that I had variously dyed, painted, treated with Thermofax stencils etc. and I have gone through a folder of old embellishments and found one or to things that can be reused.  Here are some of this week's efforts.

This one was fabric I dyed years ago and then later thermofaxed with circles blanked out.

And this one is two very small leftover pieces of dyed fabric plus a contrasting 'spine'.

More dyed and thermofaxed fabric.  These are all A6 size because I have been trying to use up small leftovers but I am also determined to some A5 sized ones.  So far I have one finished

The triangles on this one were part of an experiment in making paper quilts.

Yesterday I began converting my 2010 journal quilts.  I am still struggling with fastenings for them so they will appear later.  You may be asking why I am making journal quilts in a glorious (to me) heatwave.  Well,, it is actually too hot to be outside for much of the day and I have discovered that my studio is the coolest room in the house.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


At the beginning of this month I went on a cruise down the Danube with my sister and her husband.  We were lucky to miss the floods - apparently at one point we were the only boat that the company (Viking River Cruises) still had moving.  There were something like seventeen boats 'stuck' at various points further upstream but we began in Budapest and went downstream to Bucharest so we ran ahead of the flood water.

We began with two days in Budapest.  It is a lovely city and would make a good place for a short city break.  Unfortunately it is also full of tourists and we did rather feel we were part of the mass tourist industry.

I cannot bear my photos being full of people's heads so I tended to concentrate on taking shots of details.  The Matthias church on top of the hill in Buda has been totally rebuilt following war damage and now contains some really good painted walls and wall paintings.

The pillars also had very interesting painted decoration:

I was quite proud of taking these photos with no flash, just by increasing the ISO, taking a deep breath and leaning against something if possible.

The outside of the church is highly decorated and has some interesting tile patterns on the roof.

We had a half day coach tour of the main tourist spots but we were free for the rest of the two days.  Unfortunately I am now finding steps and staircases a bit problematic so I was not able to go to some places that I fancied such as the Ethnographic Museum.  This is situated in an old house so there are lots of steps up to the entrance and I have to be very careful about falling down steps.  So I walked around the area where the hotel was situated and if you look hard, you can find all sorts of interesting architectural features.

These sails were the roof of a paved area in the park across the road.  They have distinctive gratings in the pavement which tell you what services are below.  This one is electricity

and this one is the postal service.

In the park opposite the hotel I found a 'sculpture' of padlocks.  I am not sure what it was but the padlocks have wonderful potential for design.

It has taken me ages to edit my photos so Day 2 of Budapest will be in the next posting.

Monday, 27 May 2013


This month our calendar picture is of a house on the island of Torcello in the Venetian lagoon.  Note the chimneys.  They are built like this in Venice so that the sparks from them do not immediately fall on the roofs and set the houses on fire.  This house stands on a canal that runs across the island and takes you to the famous Venetian-Byzantine cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.  The best thing about this church are the mosaics but I am afraid I was not skilled enough to try photographing them.

I suddenly see that this blog has almost died.  a quick catch up is in order.  I spent a lot of April working on the quilt top for my bed and I am pleased to say that it is now almost finished.  The top is done

and I then spent some time finding suitable fabric for the border. Unfortunately it appears that people who stock pre-cut Bali fabrics do not also have the same ones by the metre but in the end I found a Hoffman fabric that tones well.

At that point the gardening took over and I have still not made the border.  I have a mattress which is ten inches deep.  It is extremely comfortable but it does mean the quilt is even larger than a normal king-size.  I have decided I shall have to piece it on the straight as otherwise there will be too much wastage.

I now reckon I have enough fabric for a second top if I add cream batiks to the leftover from this one and alos add a charm pack that I bought in order to check the colour for the border fabric.  Something to think of next winter perhaps although I am running out of people to make quilts for, don't like doing full-size ones and really want to get back to art quilting.