Category Archives: Projects

Video Bites with The Quilt Quine

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I made it my mission this week to figure out how to use the GoPro camera and to be able to make short video clips on my phone. I ended up making a daily Brigton Farm newsflash just so I could practise doing some off-the-cuff pieces to camera, building up to making longer quilting demos in the future. One of my children has told me to stop spamming Instagram with my clips and another says I should spend some time editing my videos and adding music. I think it is actually quite an achievement just to figure out how to start and stop the camera – faffing around doing editing can come later;)

I don’t know whether the newsflash spot was a spur for activity but I seemed to get quite a lot done this week. As well as supervising a DIY quilter and completing a customer quilt, I finished the other Tifafai thistle piece that I started in Germany. I worked out a really good combination of metallic threads and stitch size on my overlocker to finish off the edges without adding a binding.

  

While my DIY customer was engrossed with her quilting I reorganised my 2 IKEA trolleys so that each longarm machine could have a essentials kit ready to be wheeled up close. I was thrilled to discover how well the magnetic pin bowls stuck to the side of the trolleys.

  

My Postie delivered an assortment of parcels ranging from Kilner jars to be used for yogurt making to a budget version of a German folding shopping basket. I had intended to decorate it with something like free-motion stitched broderie-perse but it would have been tricky to avoid the pockets for the struts and the zipped side pocket. In the time that I could probably have done all that I decided to make quite a lot of pompoms to dangle from it instead.

I am coming up close to the deadlines for entering quilt shows so I dug out the long abandoned BzB anti-wholecloth project. I stared at it for a long time, jotting down a few notes on how it might be tackled. Its biggest problem seemed to be the vast amount of negative space which is traditionally filled with ½” diagonal lines. I hummed and hawed for ages, made some extra templates and decided to fill up that space since a) I am not making a modern quilt and b) I am not making a traditional quilt and c) because I felt like it!

Amazingly, my 15 year old, battered Landrover passed its MOT test, apart from needing a new tyre, which means I can once again look forward to trundling off to Quilt Shows, delivering kids to Guide Camps, Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions, Music Festivals, and eating Fish and Chips in the car:)

I am really enjoying working on a lino-print “Traveller’s Blanket” panel from Dijanne Cevaal using 30wt thread. It is challenging working on such a small scale with a large longarm machine – it is really embroidery rather than quilting. I am more fired up working on this small project than anything else I have done in a while and I will be looking for more heavy weight threads. Dijanne and I are hatching a plan to work collaboratively on “something” and I am very excited to see what we might come up with…

More Stitching in Germany

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After our lazy day of sight-seeing and soaking up the sun, Dijanne Cevaal launched the students into intensive stitching projects. It was an absolute treat to quilt for fun all day long. I was slightly freaked out when she suggested that we draw a central vignette or motif so I cheated and found a woodcut drawing of a fish on Google that I developed. Dianne prefers to work with 30 weight cotton thread. I was impressed how the Bernina Q24s ran it without complaining and how the stitching really stood out. I decided to stick with the same blue thread for the whole piece so it was monochromatic. Dijanne declared that what we were doing was “Drawing with Longarms”.

It was very interesting to discuss methods of networking with an established travelling quilt tutor. I was encouraged to try using the social media platform, Instagram regularly, learning about hashtags and tagging people who might be interested. I now have followers who are into wood-carving and making sexy bread.

I started a threadwork piece using one of Dijanne’s lino-cut prints. It is not quite as easy to work that small using a longarm but I am having a good go at it. The thick thread looks amazing and I can add hand-stitching or beads later. The main challenge of the second day was to design and stitch a Tahitian style Tifaifai appliqué. I sketched out part of a spiky thistle using paper folded into a triangle. This was traced onto Bondaweb, ironed onto fabric then cut out with tiny scissors. The tricky thing was to free-motion quilt around the raw edge appliqué several times, building up a solid edge. One of the students had greater success using a longarm appliqué guide but I discovered that I could use manual mode fairly smoothly. I don’t think this is a technique that I would have chosen to do myself but I am really glad of the opportunity to try it as I really enjoyed the project. I was determined to complete the black background quilting all in the same day. I have the negative thistle still to complete which it will take most of a day to do.

I had a terrific time teaching and learning in Coburg. Regina and Dijanne were great to work with and I was very well looked after. I was actually rather sad to pack up to go home, even though I had extra goodies including thread, sweeties and projects to fit in. I am hoping to go back and teach workshops for Regina in the future and I intend to meet up with Dijanne again as we got along very well:) When I got home I went straight to the supermarket to buy food for a German style picnic tea!

I went home with a German cold so I did not feel like sorting my stuff out until the weekend. Feeling guilty about my apathy, I made myself do boring admin first so I can do some more on my unfinished German projects later in the week. I did not exactly laze around – I managed to get a small customer quilt done, delivered Easter eggs to Freya in St Andrews on Good Friday and rustled up some basic cable-tidies that look nicer than strips of black velcro.

The Easter holidays end on Tuesday so Fergus needs to get into serious revision mode and tackle the maths questions that I downloaded – luckily for me I also downloaded the answers! I have quilt competition entry deadlines looming and I need to work out whether is feasible to make something new in time for FOQ… If only I could get up at 4am and not waste time on the internet:P

Eine Kleine Quilten

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I have come to the conclusion that it would be simpler to write down all of the tasks that I do not have a hope of finishing, see how the week pans out then fill in my diary retrospectively. I was beginning to panic that I would not get my class samples ready in time for my German trip next week – then I started to worry that the projects were too big and the students would not finish them either. Of course, they do not need to be as intensively stitched as I did them!

The pink pleather piece did not “need” additional embroidery around each circle and the Spotty Sampler Quilt did not “need” more stitching or couching either;) It was actually quite hard to come up with 16 completely different ways of quilting a circle. It was not until afterwards that I remembered I had a file full of photos of examples of stitched circles that I did for the Bernina Q-Matic system.

  

I was relieved when both projects were completed. I have had months to prepare for these classes but School Stuff and Life just kept getting in the way. I have now written instructions for both of those projects in case there is some finishing off that students need to do after the classes. I actually wrote 888 words on how to make a simple tote bag with an internal zipped pocket because I take the view that every step should be crystal clear, making no assumptions that the maker already knows what he or she is doing. I can even let the maker know that they can fit at least 8 bottles of gin into it!

 

Fenella is off to Guide Camp this week and obviously, I could not manage to send her off with 2 cheap supermarket tea-towels… I had to dig around in my stash and make 2 fancy new ones from vintage linen with hanging loops and name tapes! No wonder I have not found time to practise my German conversation on the Duolingo app. I must do some cramming before I go because I cannot imagine I will have to ask for much “brot und wasser” from “der junge” – however, I expect I will use “Entschuldigen, mein Deutsch ist schrecklich!” (Sorry, my German is dreadful!)

A Much Appreciated Temporary P.A.

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It was an absolute boon to have Freya at home at a bit of a loose end for her Spring Break from Uni. Most of her friends were either away travelling or had different holidays. It was so helpful to be able to text her with instructions to switch the oven on or rustle up a batch of chocolate brownies. She even did the catering for a class of ladies who were here for a day of improv curved piecing.

I enjoyed her company for dog-walks and morning coffee, and she proved to be a very good chicken whisperer. Within 24 hours of asking if anyone had hens for sale on Facebook, we had 4 new layers, 2 of whom immediately tested the defences and worked out that they could easily escape using a vertical take-off method. We rounded them up and gave their wing feathers a trim, returning them to the chicken run so we don’t lose their eggs in hidden nests amongst the nettles.

  

I marked a piece of Bosal interfacing with a Frixion pen and quilted circles onto a piece of fuchsia fake leather. I used a small curved ruler to quilt inside the circles then “organically” freehanded the background. It is far too long since I did this type of quilting just for fun and I really enjoyed it, despite having to slow down after bending a needle that was too fine for the job. I should have used leather needles but I did not have any left so I used a metallic needle instead. It was tricky when using the acrylic ruler base because it kept sticking to the fake leather underneath – next time I will just use the Frixion pen on the “pleather” side, not the reverse. This piece will have some accent embroidery stitching around the circles then will be made into a simple leather tote. It is a sample for one of the classes that I will be teaching in Germany in a couple of weeks.

The other project will be a sampler quilt of machine quilting. I have decided to quilt the background first on this occasion then add fancy circles afterwards. I don’t know how I came to order cotton sateen fabric with added spandex but I managed not to get any weird puckers in the automated curved line quilting.

I had a very cultured weekend starting with taking Nella to “Blood Brothers” at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen. The show was fantastic with amazing performances, clever scenery and it ended with a much deserved standing ovation. Freya and I went to see Nell in her choir concert on Saturday morning then we went off to see the new Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast”, starring Emma Watson at the cinema. We enjoyed it as a spectacle far more than “La La Land” and now want to dress like French peasant girls in long pantaloons, Provencal layered skirts and espadrilles;)

Budgies Don’t Fly Upside Down

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It was midweek by the time I had written yet more lists, helped a DIY quilter, did a cute customer quilt, tried to help Fergus tackle last minute revision for his Music Prelim, and managed not to sort out the kitchen cupboard that is full of spilled sugar. After all of this industry and to stop myself from getting sucked into reading an epic trilogy non-stop, I decided to have a go at Sara Lawson’s “Aeroplane Bag that I had purchased as a PDF.

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customer quilt – Candyland computer pantograph

I already had fabric and some interfacing but by the time I had been to the craft shop to get a chunky zip, more specialist bag-making interfacing and some more pompom wool, I reckoned it would have been cheaper to have bought a bag in Cath Kidston’s very jolly shop.

It took me some time to prepare all of the pieces and because the pattern did not actually say to check that my fabric should be the right way up, despite the many photos, I managed to cut out my budgies upside down! The only solution was to add a panel of co-ordinating fabric and pretend that I was doing patchwork. The instructions were very good and I managed not to get lost. The only hiccup I had was getting the ends of the chunky zip to line up exactly despite being very careful with that step. I need to give myself a zip masterclass to figure out how to improve that.

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There is an iffy bumfle inside the lining that only I need to know about but overall it looks quite professional. I decided to make a false bottom to make it sit up even more like a carpet bag. If I could get my hands on a piece of sewable carpet I would love to make a Mary Poppins bag for under £400, although the metal clasp could prove even more unco-operative than a zip!

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I need an extra week in January!

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Freya and I arrived back in Scotland late on Monday night form our amazing trip to St Petersburg then I had a DIY quilt customer here on Tuesday so that left me just one day to catch up and unpack before my 2 days in school. I keep having the guilty feeling that I have not achieved anything in January 2017, apart from a superficial tidy-up in the workshop and a terrific 3-day trip to Russia;)

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I rashly decided to clear out a couple of boxes of quilt magazines that have not been opened in several years. If I can be bothered I will try Ebay, otherwise will have to give them away or just recycle them to make space as I can’t keep putting stuff into my workshop without taking some other stuff out!

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I got a bee in my bonnet about making a bag for the vintage Elna Lotus sewing machine as I was worried that it could get rust spots on its metal case from the cold air on days when my workshop is not heated. I quilted a linen fabric with Bosal interfacing which is spongy and helps bags stand upright. I did not have enough quilted fabric to make shoulder straps but decided that I only needed small handles anyway. There were no pockets but I came a bit unstuck when I had to put in the zip panel as it meant that the opening was not wide enough for the sewing machine. I had to take the zip panel apart and use a longer zip that overhangs at each end to overcome that issue.

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I have made lots of notes thinking that I could probably come up with either a generic sewing machine bag or a handy shopper tote pattern. There are already many of these online but many seem to have vague instructions. There is probably no point in writing a whole book on alternative pockets/zips because this has already been done but I would like to come up with a bag that could be made as a gift that has a neat finish and is practical.

My new desk planner now has dates and I have written up a wall calendar so there should be no excuse for forgetting appointments or not tackling admin tasks in a timely fashion in the coming months…;)

где находится стеганый магазин?

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Freya has been valiantly studying Russian as one of her minor courses at Uni. It has been an intense language course, taught in fast Russian by Russian natives with fancy cyrillic handwriting. She has been wondering whether to continue with it because she has to spend so much time learning tricky grammar and vocabulary that she is worried that her other subjects might not get so much attention. Rather on a whim, I suggested that we set off on a brief expedition to St Petersburg during her Christmas holiday. Growing up in the Cold War, I never thought that a trip to Russia would ever have been possible. I only know a handful of words including “perestroika”, “vodka” and “Dostoyevsky” but I have read all sorts of wonderful Russian novels in my time and Mo has lent me a fur hat. As you can see in this week’s blog title, I have used Google Translate to ask how to find the Quilt Shop.

It would have been fun to have kept the trip as a surprise but I had to tell her as we both had to complete a lengthy online visa application and will have to attend the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh to have our fingerprints taken. We had to declare every foreign visit for the past 10 years. My passport had been date stamped for the USA but EU countries have not done that in years so I used my blog to approximate my other travel dates. Fingers crossed that we actually get the visas because I had to book flights and accommodation first in order to say where and when the trip would be!

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I am in between major quilt projects so I had two DIY quilt ladies here this week. One of them had been given inaccurate advice on measuring fabric for her quilt back so it was too small. It was not possible to attach side clamps so there may be the odd tiny bumfle. We used a computerised pattern called “Candyland” and I trimmed both ends of the quilt afterwards so nobody will be able to tell it was not quite the right size.

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I have now made a dozen mini purses as stocking fillers but I still have around 20 short zips left so maybe I will make some more for Fenella to sell in aid of her Girl Guides trip to Norway;)

This week I hope to get some of a customer’s “Silent Movie Star” quilt done, meet Freya in Edinburgh for our assignation and think about buying myself some thermals!

Wavering

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For months I had planned to quilt the Civil War tumbler quilt with close wavy lines but at the last minute I wavered and chose a pantograph pattern called “Turkish Tiles”. I worried that I should have chosen the version where the tiles change direction and got frustrated when Quilt Path randomly crashed twice. I had to restart the quilting and there was some unintended crossing over of lines BUT it is finished and it is for me so it does the job perfectly well. It is a pretty large quilt with over 1100 tumblers but I used a wool wadding so it is as light as a feather.

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I had a bee in my bonnet about perfecting the measurements and method for making lined tartan zip-up purses. The reason for this project is that I seem to have a large quantity of annoyingly short zips and before I can justify ordering some more longer ones I “need” to use those up! After faffing around with zips that are positioned part of the way down one side, I decided that going back to Plan A of a top opening zip was the most practical as it does not matter which side the zip head is inserted. I have made copious notes that suggest cutting the lining bigger so there is plenty of room to turn the zip opening then everything gets trimmed to match later;) I have sent Freya the prototypes to give to her Foreign Friends as stocking fillers. The wool tartan is really nice but I might rustle up a few more purses from brightly coloured African fabrics.

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I did use the wavy line quilting on a customer quilt that will raffled in aid of polio research. The customer requested something different in the borders to the body of the quilt but I did not trust QP to be accurate enough so the wavy lines went all of the way across then I added some freehand small spirals in the outer borders for interest.

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The rest of my week was taken up with teaching and trawling the internet for quirky Christmas presents and how to apply for a Russian visa – just in case;)

Bloody Quilt!

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Monday morning was bitterly cold and I wished I had fingerless gloves because my hands were so cold I could not feel them. After a hot, strong cup of coffee, I plucked up the courage to stitch words written in Viking runes onto Shield Maiden. Runes are just an alphabet system, not an actual language, so I just had to write out the words that I wanted on the quilt into their runic form. They are quite hidden and you really have to look for them!

The next adventure was to use a test piece of linen to see if the “blood” spattered effect would work. I used watered down fabric paint in a spray bottle, toothbrush and pastry brush to apply my Jackson Pollock style artistry. Because it was raining heavily outside, I had to fling the paint onto the quilt while it was on my workshop table. Afterwards it looked like I had been butchering something – there was red-brown paint on my sewing machine, carpet and table which took some time to scrub off. It just shows how difficult it must be to get away with murder;)

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I co-opted Tania into helping me block the probably finished quilt then hang it outside for photos. I had a choice of full sun or very dark shade because I don’t have any blank walls where I can take uncluttered photos inside. I have been warned by my friends to step away from the quilt now and not be tempted to add any further embellishment, not even pieces of antler…

As usual, after an intense project, I was a bit lost so I decided to finish piecing my tumbler quilt which I may give to myself for Christmas.

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I did not do any significant Black Friday shopping apart from a vintage wool tartan dressing gown from Ebay. I have visions of me wearing it to quilt with my wellies and thick socks in the depths of winter!

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Dealing with a Flawed Plan

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I had the luxury of 2 whole days without any commitments in my studio so I managed to reverse applique the raw linen onto the woad wool shawl by using lots of pins, going very slowly, turning the piece gradually at the curves and using the walking foot. I am relieved now that all of the easily frayed linen is tucked under with no lumps. My “only” problem now will be how I should proceed with the quilting.

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The Tuesday night quilters were visited by Mel’s friend, Lesley, who showed us how she creates bowls and baskets from cotton clothes line. It is incredible how much rope gets used up in one small bowl but they are so pleasing to look at and hold. I made one straight away the next morning then dyed it blue so it could act as a bread basket in my kitchen. It was quite an addictive process so I can see myself aimlessly sewing round in circles more often.

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On Saturday Nell and I took the train to Edinburgh. She got off at the station in Leuchars to spend the day with Freya in St Andrews. They had a fun day wandering around meeting Freya’s new friends and having beans on toast in her student flat.

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I met up with a fellow SAQA member, textile artist Michele Lasker. Michele had already spent a few days exploring Glasgow and London before group a tour of weavers on an Outlander inspired tour of Scotland. We had a lovely lunch at Brown’s Brasserie, discussing what we got up to in our studios then went for a wee mooch around the city. Michele creates multi-layered pieces from freeform knitting, felting and stitch – her website is vibrant and fascinating…

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While I was in Edinburgh I dashed into John Lewis to buy yet another piece of black fabric to finish off the Drunkard’s Path quilt that begged to be finished off because it was so easy and pleasing to put together. It was not until I laid the blocks out to make the “snake-in-the-grass” border arrangement that I had planned that I realised there was a large FLAW in my plan. When I cut out another 64 units I continued to use half pink and half black blocks just like all of the others except that I should have made sure that all of the Pacman shapes should have been pink and all of the bite shaped pieces should have been black – oops! I wondered whether to have a pink snake down 2 sides and a black snake around the other 2 but eventually decided on quarter circles. I had to be really careful when I picked up the pieces to take them to the sewing machine in case I accidentally got them muddled up. The finished quilt top looks pretty cool and Fenella will be its recipient. I will probably just do utility quilting on this one but I wonder whether I will manage to make do with backing fabric in my stash or will I “need” to buy something that matches better?

I used a random number generator to choose which blog commenter would win a copy of John Kubiniec’s “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path” book. I have emailed the winner so when she replies I can announce who that was;)

Book Review – A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path by John Kubiniec

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I have always loved the look of Drunkard’s Path quilt blocks and their infinitely varied layouts but over the years some of my attempts at making them have been frustrating. I have cheated and used interfacing or bondaweb appliqué blocks covered with embroidery stitches and thrown away many blocks where the two pieces just would not meet, even using a special designed-for-curved-piecing foot.

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Long, long ago…

Thanks to lots of practice and a certain amount of time watching YouTube demos, I have now conquered most of my demons about curved piecing but freely admit that there are times when a certain amount of fudging goes on!

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Slinky – yurt panel (pieced by Corey Starkey, quilted by Linzi Upton)

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Sam’s Quilt – pieced and quilted by Linzi Upton

 

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When fellow Bernina longarm ambassador, John Kubiniec asked me to review his book, A NEW SPIN ON DRUNKARD’S PATH I was intrigued to see what his method would be to crack the devilishly difficult Drunkard’s Path blocks. The layout and explanations in the book are very clear and as an Instruction-Phobe like me that is high praise;) Most importantly, the templates are a SENSIBLE size. This means that the curve is not too sharp or short so you stand a far better chance of easing in that curve! John writes, “ If you detest curved piecing, I hope these patterns will entice you to give it a try and that my techniques will help you conquer your fears. If you already love curved piecing, the variations and patterns will help you explore new design possibilities.”

John very sensibly recommends using at least 3 pins but I chose to ignore that sage advice and still managed to make well behaved DP units.

I was only going to make one or two units to test the instructions but I very quickly found myself making 16 units to make a giant DP block and because my mental arithmetic failed me, I accidentally cut out enough for 2 giant blocks so I found myself making a trip to the fabric shop for more black in order to make an entire, impromptu quilt.

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Giant DP block made in less than one hour!

If I had had enough black at home I reckon I could easily have run up a quilt top in a day. I seem to have become slightly addicted to making John’s quick and easy DP units as I have now have plans to add a “snake in the grass” style border!

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A NEW SPIN ON DRUNKARD’S PATH by John Kubiniec is available from

www.ctpub.com

www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.amazon.com

www.bigrigquilting.com

Enter the Giveaway
Win a free copy of John Kubiniec’s new book, “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path” – just leave a comment and check back on October 9th for the randomly-drawn winner (UK blog readers will receive an Ebook)

 The blog tour 
September 26, 2016 Jenifer Dick www.42quilts.com

C&T Publishing http://www.ctpub.com/blog/
September 27, 2016 Sara Lawson www.sewsweetness.com/blog

Heather Kojan http://www.heatherkojan.com
September 28, 2016 Bill Volckening http://willywonkyquilts.blogspot.com

McCall’s Quilting http://www.mccallsquilting.com/blogs/

 

September 29, 2016 Teri Lucas https://terificreations.com

Bonnie Hunter http://quiltville.blogspot.com
September 30, 2016 made by ChrissieD http://madebychrissied.blogspot.com

LoveBug Studios https://lovebugstudios.com/blog/
October 1, 2016
Kathy Patterson http://hillstreetquilts.blogspot.com

Teresa Coates http://www.crinkledreams.com
October 2, 2016 Carl Hentsch http://3dogdesignco.blogspot.com
October 3, 2016 Generation Q Magazine http://generationqmagazine.com

Lisa Calle https://lisacalle.wordpress.com
October 4, 2016 Linzi Upton https://thequiltquine.wordpress.com

Nicole Daksiewicz www.modernhandcraft.com/blog
October 5, 2016 Marti Michell http://frommartimichell.blogspot.com

Debby Brown http://higheredhands.blogspot.com
October 6, 2016 Melody Crust http://melodycrust.blogspot.com/

Kim Niedzwiecki http://www.gogokim.com
October 7, 2016 Patrick Lose http://www.patricklose.com
John Kubiniec https://bigrigquilting.com/blog/

Little by Little

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It is not often that a customer gets muddled and does not turn up for a quilting session but when they do I am secretly delighted as it is like having an unexpected day off. I caught up with my paperwork then decided to make a giant Drunkard’s Path sample block that I would use for John Kubiniec’s Blog Hop to publicise his new book, “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path”. My blog-hop post will appear on Tuesday 4th October www.bigrigquilting.com My sample block appears to have led to an entirely new, unanticipated quilt for which I have had to purchase additional fabric to make the groovy “snake in the grass” borders!

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This quilt will have to wait in a queue as I also worked on my Civil War tumblers quilt in between DIY customer bobbin changes then found myself ordering a batch of Scandi-Style Christmas fabrics in case I have time to run up a festive quilt for Freya at Uni!

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I attached the freezer-paper template for Shield Maiden and sewed a heavy duty straight stitch all the way around. The linen looks like a crumpled mess when it is not actually on the ironing board and as you can see in the photos, there is not much to look at so far. The next challenge on a day without interruptions is to cut out the openings and hope it is actually possible to iron the raw edge of the stiff linen under to form a reverse appliqué edge.

I ran up some cute bags for the computer mice at school to stop them all getting tangled up together then decided to do the same in tartan for the iPad chargers. I have also reduced the size of the hanging pod pattern that I decided would look better as a small gourd than a melon but I have not made it as a prototype yet, reasoning that I had other more urgent things to do. However, I am looking forward to attending a mini workshop on washing-line baskets which I can imagine might become quite addictive…

RandR with TT and Friends

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After yet another hectic week working on customer quilts and being at school it was great to stay with Ellen overnight then meet Kay for brunch in IKEA near Edinburgh before visiting the Scottish Quilt Championships. Kay had several customer quilts in the show as well as a super new kaleidoscope quilt, “Brewster’s Reflections”. For some daft reason my camera battery was dead so I have posted Facebook photos of the quilts but I’m sure Kay will have some good ones on her blog www.borderlinequilter.blogspot

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Tartan Tattoo came 2nd in large wall quilts and was awarded a judge’s choice certificate by Susan Briscoe! It seemed to be a popular quilt with the visitors which is hardy surprising at a Scottish show;)

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I finally found a day in which to iron Vilene onto my piece of linen and the woad dyed shawl. Drawing out the shield maiden motif onto freezer paper and cutting it out neatly was tricky but it is now ready to attempt the reverse appliqué which I hope to do in a few spare hours before my first classroom observation in 20+ years. I am telling myself not to get in a pickle over the latest teacherish jargon and just carry on regardless. If it all goes pear-shaped I will just have to carve out a career as a quilt artist:P

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Washing Away the Blues

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I am finding teaching part-time in school regularly for 2 days a week challenging. I am now beholden to write lengthy plans and learn the latest, pointless jargon, both of which sap my time and enthusiasm. I guess I just not quite plucked up the courage to declare myself a bona-fide textile artist who can actually earn a living. Currently in my over-crowded week, I can have 2-3 days of DIY quilters, 2 days in school, some customer quilts and very little time to experiment.

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However, I was determined to dye the wool for “Shield Maiden” this weekend. I had a buff coloured Indian wool shawl and a couple of old wool blankets. Dyeing with woad was fascinating but long-winded. The process is similar to dealing with indigo dye but was further complicated with preparing the wool for dyeing. It took a whole day of dipping and exposing the woad dye to the air to get a deep enough hue. I wish my Chemistry A Level had been half as exciting as the mixing and measuring I had to do with all of my powders and potions. I even had to test the pH of my solution with litmus paper! The wool blanket was just wishy-washy in the woad dye bath so I decided to run it through the machine with Hungarian dyes. Even though it had been mordanted, the colour all washed away until I remembered that I had some acid dye for wool stashed away and finally achieved the royal blue that I had been looking for. I am not sure whether the now felted blue wool is too thick so I also have the fine wool shawl as an alternative.

woadbucket woolgrunge washmachgunk

Mind you, what was meant to be a fun afternoon became very stressful as the washing machine broke down before I had done any of the weekend’s laundry. It had to be taken apart to cough up some trash (ahem – wool gunge amongst other random objects) that had  clogged up the pump. While dealing with a non-draining machine, dip-dyeing with woad and doing a customer quilt, Fergus got me to act as his roadie to change the strings on his guitar after he had taken off the old set and forgotten how to wind on the new ones – in about 10 minutes before he was due to debut with his school’s Soul Band!

exp2 exp1

I have tried to make samples to decide which method of appliqué to use on “Shield Maiden”. I like the edges folded under but can’t get super-sharp points with the coarse linen so I may have to add curves to my original design so the linen can bend where it has to change direction. I have already ruled out piecing as the materials are too thick. I had a go at rune-like designs using satin-stitch but it is not “right” so I will have another think about that element.

pwhottie

I made a prototype hot water bottle cover to work out whether to add binding on the outside or not and learned that my overlocker could not deal with the tight curves of the hottie’s shoulders. Freya was delighted to receive a “hottie” to match her quilt in a parcel from home. I expect she will tell me to stop sending her stuff after a while. This week I had a go at making a prototype pair of PJ shorts which may get posted off to Uni. Funny how quite a few projects don’t ever make it past the prototype phase;)