Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Day 22 - where I remember the one star hotel in Paris...

Ah, Paris.  I finally got there in 2010 when I did my Single, Solitary, Overseas Trip.  I went to the Louvre, where I was more interested in the marble floors (great patchwork designs!) than many of the artworks - though I DID see the Mona Lisa (a tiny little thing behind a perspex screen, roped off to keep people away) and the Venus de Milo (somewhat more accessible).

 I ate the best cheese of my life in Paris (Roquefort).  Here is the selection of goat cheeses that I found in a fromagerie in Montmartre, where I was staying.....
 ...which brings me to the one star hotel.  French hotels and motels are not like those in New Zealand.  A one star establishment is a room with perhaps a wash basin, or a shower if it's a double room.  There are no other facilities. The toilet is along the hall and shared with others on that floor.  I was on the 4th floor, accessible only by a spiral staircase.
After a night in a room with panoramic views of the back alley, I asked to be moved so I could see the street - this became my view for the next few nights.
I was able to open the big windows and pretend I was on a balcony.  It was summer, so I spent the evenings sitting there knitting and watching life in street below.  This is the Clapotis scarf/shawl that I was knitting out of merino/silk bought in Essex.  I remember Paris whenever I wear it.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Day 17 - where I take on Amy Butler and cure a bad case of Wavy Borders

For those who are not quilters, Amy Butler is a well-known American fabric designer.  Several years ago, I bought some Rowan fabrics from the local quilt shop, and as I normally do, I dyed some fabric to go with them.  Usually I dye in single colours, but these were multis.  Here they are together:

Now, what to do with them?  Looking for some fast inspiration, I decided to use someone else's ideas.  I've always loved circles inside squares, and I came across this free Amy Butler pattern called "Belle", designed around her fabric range of the same name.  
Oh dear, Amy, you may be famous but you're not Kaffe Fassett.  I really don't think these fabrics work well together. Aha, I hear you saying, do you think you can do better?  Well, yes, I do.  I won't even comment on the pattern's corner blocks which were simply rectangles that you "cut down to size".  They created the worst case of Wavy Borders that I've seen for a long time.  I had to unpick both my original borders, measure, nip and tuck and redo the whole outside.  The new border still looks somewhat wavy but will be ok when quilted.  

You'll see that I've added in some acid yellow fabric as well.  I think this is much better than the original, but feel free to disagree.  If you love Amy's version, leave me a comment with what you like about it. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Day 16 - in which I remember Provence

I didn't get to do my big OE (overseas experience) until 2010, when I was 55.   I love looking back at the photos I posted on my blog at the time because, sadly, I lost all the photos in a hard drive crash several years later so these are all that remains.

I stayed with a sculptor and her family in a little hilltop village in Provence, where I went to help put earth plaster on their straw bale studio in the neighbouring village.  I should explain that I was travelling with Help Exchange, which is like WWOOFing - working on mostly rural properties in exchange for board and lodgings.
The town, Regusse, had some 12th century stone windmills.

 All the houses had to be similar colours, including the new ones.  I loved these bright blue shutters.
 There were sausages of all kinds at the market in Aups.  I declined to buy donkey sausage.
I was allowed to photograph this wonderful display of spices if I gave the vendor a kiss - which, of course, I did.

I'm not sure that I'll ever get back to France, so I treasure the memories I have.  More of these in future posts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Day 15 - when life throws you scraps, make a quilt

Yes, there have been times in my life when things have been tough.  I try to not dwell on the bad times, but I'm convinced that they make us stronger, though it's hard to see any positive at the time.

I've usually found that it helps to throw myself into something creative to take my mind off my problems.  At the end of 2010, I was in such a position.  Here's a couple of quilt tops I made then (and I'm embarrassed to admit that they have never been completed):

For some reason, I adore teapots.  As usual, these are my own design and not taken from a pattern.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Day 14, in which I muse about children growing up quickly

Today, I was looking back over my blog in early 2010 and found these photos of the quilts I made for my friend Jill's children -
 A pink quilt with ballerina fabric for Ivy;
 a pink and purple quilt with fairy fabric for Melody;
and a blue quilt with frogs and lizards for Cruz.  As usual, I did not use a pattern, and drew the appliqued shapes myself.

Now they are almost 6 years older and living overseas.  The passing of time is so noticeable with children, but not the same with adults.  We just get a few more grey hairs, a few more wrinkles, maybe a few more kilos. Children, on the other hand, grow tall and mature and stop being children.  Maybe some day, I will have grandchildren.  I hope so.  And I also hope I will be able to live close to them so that the passing of the years is not so evident because I will see them often.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Day 13 - in which I show off a bit

In 2006, I was approached by Patchwork & Stitching magazine, an Australian publication, to show some examples of my work that they wanted to feature in their magazine.  They chose a quilt that I called "Home is Where the Hearts are", and I duly mailed the quilt to Australia.

It was photographed, and published in Volume 6, No. 6 (July 2006) along with the instructions that I had supplied.

It wasn't the quilt that I would have chosen as representative of my work.  It's a raw edged, quilt-as-you-go quilt, made entirely from cotton - but not from flannel, as most of these quilts are.  There's a small quantity of a commercial Batik print in it, but the rest of the quilt top and backing is made entirely from my hand dyed fabrics.

The quilt is sandwiched with cotton batting so is 100% cotton.

One thing I remember about making this quilt is getting very sore hands from all the snipping that has to be done to produce the fluffy raw edges.

It's always been a teeny bit of a sore point with me that one of my quilts has been to Australia, but I haven't.

This time round in Oamaru, I'm not living in a stone cottage, but the quilt is still with me, and is used as extra bedding or as a large rug when it's cold.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Day 12 - where I show some work that has sold

These are some 2 colour pieces of fabric that I made in 2009 by wicking  - half of the fabric length (they are 1 metre pieces)was placed in a tray of the first colour, and the the other half in an adjoining tray of the contrast colour.  The fabric was soaked in soda ash to start with, so that the dye travelled into the spaces between the trays and ensured that there were no white gaps left between the colours.

I plan to so some fabric dyeing over the holiday period, so maybe I'll make some smaller versions of these.  

This is "Comfortably Numb", an art piece mounted on a canvas.  This sold at TOTE's Art Exhibition earlier this year.  I also made this in 2009.  

One thing to come out of this 31 day Blog Writing Challenge is not just how productive I have been in the past; nor just how much I've forgotten about what I've done, but also how long it can be between starting something and finishing/selling it.  It's embarrassing to realise that some quilts I started 6 or 7 years ago are still unfinished.  However, I DO have plans to turn some quilt tops into duvet covers over the summer, so watch this space.  Sure, they won't be quilts, as they won't have 3 layers, but at least they'll get used.