Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Appreciating my blog and internet friends

Today, I thought I'd talk about my blog and internet friends instead of about me.  These are people who made my overseas trip last year memorable and possible.  Since the new Blogger actually uploads photos in the right order now, these are in reverse order.  Do visit their blogs and/or websites where there are links shown.
 Marion Barnett aka Artmixter took me under her wing after the disatrous housesitter affair.  She and husband Robin cossetted me and showed me the lovely countryside around Norfolk.  Above is one of the striking stone houses that the region is famous for. Marion is a Scottish artist and works with dyes, paints, Lutradur, Evolon and other interesting fabrics.
 I spent a few days in the south of France, staying with Dijanne Cevaal, the Textile Itinerant.
Dijanne is a well-known dyer, stitcher, author and tutor who travels between Australia and France, when she is not visiting places like Syria.  One day, we travelled to the Mediterranean coast to Sete to visit an art exhibition.  Opposite the gallery was this magnificently-sited cemetery. What a view.
 Before that, I stayed with former Kiwi Margo Bimler, of Teinture Textile.  Margo lives in Haute Savoie, home to these dramatic rocky outcrops, and is a dyer like me, as well as being a qualified seamstress and quilter.  She also cossetted me at a time when I wanted to come home early but couldn't get a flight, and was a lovely companion on our trip to the four day quilt show in Morzine, up in the French Alps.
Blog friend Veronique Marouze, of Au Fil du Jardin,  is a talented quilter and sewer.  She collected me from the wee hilltop village in Provence where I was staying and took me to her home near Aix-en-Provence.  We stopped at a little cafe in  a small town on the way home and had  a delighful lunch under the grape vines.  We did a day trip to Marseille around the old port, where this photo was taken in the square. 
 Lorna Lafferty doesn't have a blog, but we had met when she attended my class at the National Quilting Symposium a couple of years ago.  Lorna is a quilter, and is so well-travelled - she has been all over the world.  She and her family live in Dun Laoghaire, a lovely area south of Dublin.  This photo was taken when we went for an evening drive down the coast.  
 Loulee Heron aka Manxgirl  lives on Ramsay on the Isle of Man with her Kiwi husband. I have a Manx cat so have long wanted to go there.  Loulee spent several days taking me around the island - this photo is in Douglas, the largest town, which has horse-drawn trams in summer for the tourists.  They looked after me so well, and it was a great place to visit.
 Liz Plummer of Dreaming Spirals is a textile artist living in this 3 storey house in south Wales.  It has a magnificent wisteria growing over the front.  Although Liz and her husband are English, their sons have wonderful lilting Welsh accents as they have grown up there.  Liz does a lot of interesting techniques using Gocco and other printing methods. 
 Last but not least, my lovely former sister-in-law Jo Goodwin, who is currently living in London.  I re-connected with Jo on Facebook after about 20 years- along with her daughter and 2 sons who are also in London.  Jo met me at Heathrow, and also saw me off when I left.  It was SO good to arrive after a long flight and see someone I knew.  Jo's flat in Putney is also home to 3 flatmates, and we had some good meals and good conversations.

Love you all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sorting the heart blocks

 As the heart blocks arrived, I sorted them into bags depending on the colours (red, blue, green, purple, yellow/orange/brown and multi) and also into bages labelled 'boys' or 'girls' if they were made from children's fabric.  Assuming that there would be some older boys as recipients, I sorted some that had no teddy bears or similar.  Above is one of these, compiled and quilted by local quilter Joy Hurley, and including some nine-patch blocks I was given.
A number of the hearts were really pretty, with embroidery, lace, paper piecing and so on, and I collected some of these into another bag for Joy.  Hasn't she made a great job?

Friday, January 21, 2011

8000 hearts and counting

Yes, I have now received 8000 heart blocks.  I know there are more on the way, so that's not the final tally.
Today, this completed quilt arrived that had been compiled and quilted by Ailsa Brough and Cathy Baal of Auckland.  It was quilted on the Auckland Patchwork Guild's Can-quilter frame.  Wonderful work, ladies.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some more for the pile

 This quilt was compiled by Marie Brunton from green heart blocks I forwarded to her.  I like the staggered arrangement she has chosen.
And this one was donated by Marilyn Giles, all made in lovely orange and brown tones.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Post #750 - who would have thought?

These are a couple of quilt tops put together by local quilter Sheryl.  I like the way she has used sashing to make them more interesting.  They look good, don't they?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hearts and more hearts

 Today, I received 6 quilts from Robyn Herbert and the Waitara Tuesday Nighters and Thursday Patchwork Group.

 The last one was compiled from heart blocks and quilted by Betty, a local quilter whom I met at Pilates class. To make hers a bit different, Betty has hand stitched around each heart and put sashing inbetween the blocks.
Thanks, everyone!

Pike River quilts on TV

Quilters stunned by Pike River contributions (1:47)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Heart blocks coming home

Here's one of the completed quilts made from heart blocks, put together and quilted by Jan Main.  Jan has used a fancy stitch inbetween the blocks in a complemetary colour which highlights the block colours - doesn't it look great? 

Friday, January 07, 2011

Latest quilts

These 2 children's quilts were sent by Diana Hess from Queensland, Australia, from her friends Dawn and Cynthia.

There are quite a few quilts and tops being quietly assembled in the background.  I'll keep photographing them as they are completed.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Doing nothing

Normally, this is the time of year when I get really bored.  I've had the excitement of Christmas, with family staying for a few days.  Then they go away, my friends are either away or occupied with their families, and I'm at home.

Fortunately, after a couple of days of feeling grumpy and despondent, I settle in to Doing Nothing.  Usually I have serious To Do lists, but at this time, I just ignore these.  In New Zealand, there are 4 days of statutory holidays at Christmas and another 4 at New Year, when most shops are closed and there's no mail deliveries.

Interestingly, Doing Nothing can be very productive for me.  11 years ago, I started Kiwiquilters, an email list for quilters that now has over 500 members, because I was bored. This was one of my better ideas.  This year, I've started my new blog, Creative Women of a Certain Age, which is designed to be an interactive blog. Interactive in the sense that I will comment each week on an issue that is relevant to women over 45, and I encourage my blog readers to share their opinions on this topic.  Don't think anyone is interested in your opinion?  I am.  Feel that you husband and/or children don't listen to you?  I will.  Concerned about how your life has changed?  Feel free to say so.  You don't need to agree with what I say - you might have a completely different viewpoint, so why not express it?  This week's topic is Doing Something New. 

And while I say I'm doing nothing, I'm not exactly sitting in a vacuum.  When I started to knit with the long repeat wool I dyed yesterday, I realised that I couldn't possibly colour pool with it as the repeats were just too long.  But that's me - act first, think afterwards.  Or as I prefer to put it, you don't know how anything will work out until you try it.  But no matter!  With my short attention span, I just adore knitting hand painted wool.  This will be a light, airy rainbow-coloured scarf that can double as a shawl.  I'm going to play with different lace stitches - above you can see the first band.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Colour pooling

When I first started to hand paint wool, my skeins were quite short, so the colour repeats were also short.  This was great fun to do, but didn't knit up well.  I wanted to do some colour pooling which would require me to make my skeins very long.
Yes, this long.  Around 6.5 metres (22 feet) in fact.  This is very fine merino laceweight yarn - around 25 grams in weight (1 oz) and around 400 metres long.
Here's the yarn laid out on plastic wrap, having been first wetted in warm water with a dash of detergent. I wanted to make a multicoloured yarn that I can make a lace scarf with.

Here's the skein after it's been fixed in the microwave.  Unfortunately, I totally failed to think about how long it was going to take me to rewind this skein into a ball for knitting.  Hours.  Around 4 of them, as the yarn is so fine and the skein so long.  Just as well it's a holiday today and I had nothing else planned.
The finished ball!  Now I'm going to play with knitting it with some crazy lace patterns.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Accomplished? Well, partly.

Welcome to 2011!

Blog readers may be forgiven for thinking my entire creative life revolves around the hearts quilts, seeing as this has been my main activity for the past month. Not so. My knitting is continuing quietly in the background. Here's what I'm currently working on (I say "currently", as there are another 4 or 5 PHDs tucked away - that's Projects Half Done - that I will return to).

Above is my version of this wraparound vest. My local yarn shop has been selling packs of 10 balls of various yarns for $20, a great bargain - but it's not always easy to make something out of only 10 balls. I've been lucky enough to grab 2 packs (at different times) of black merino, so that will be another winter project. In the meantime, this one is nearing completion.
Because I became bored (short attention span) with the vest, I decided to make the Boneyard Shawl. I chose this navy and white cotton that I picked up at an op shop in case my son would wear it, but I'm not sure if he'll think it too unmasculine. No matter. It'll be won by someone.
And if I don't feel like knitting either of those, I change to this lovely little neckwarmer that I'm knitting for my daughter. It's in silk and merino, as she's allergic to ordinary wool. I'm just making up this pattern from a photo I've seen on Ravelry. It'll have buttonholes at the other end and buttons at this end, and can be worn fastened or partly opened. This is the same silk/merino blend that I recently used for a scarf for myself. As Sophie doesn't like multicoloured things, I re-dyed the wool to even out the colour.
I've seriously curtailed my book-buying habits, which has probably caused Amazon's turnover to drop substantially. However, I did treat myself to this book for Christmas - you can read more about it here. Yes, it was disgustingly expensive, but it's not a pattern book. Rather, it's a design book that you use as a reference. I am a fairly new lace knitter, so I decided that I need all the help I can get.