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.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Day 11 - where I revisit some lino cuts from the south of France

In 2010, I did my Big OE.  This was my only overseas trip, unless you count some to Raratonga and Western Samoa when  I was a baby and which I don't remember.

I spent a month in France (amongst other places) and during that time, I stayed with Dijanne Cevaal at Le Triadou in the south of France.  It's a wee hamlet about an hour's drive from the Mediterranean.  Dijanne was running a lino cutting class while I was there which I joined in with.  Lucky me as I had access to Dijanne's lovely linocuts as well as making my own.

The first photo is one of Dijanne's that I played with.  Rather than using a roller to apply paint, I used a paintbrush to apply the colour so that I could have different colours for the background and foreground.

The second photo has a painted background, and then has African painting applied to it - I used Dijanne's pomegranate stamp as inspiration for the design.   I really enjoy lino cutting but it's not always easy to get good soft lino at a reasonable price.  I have all the cutters, so I must remember to play around with this over the holidays (when I am having some play time).

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day 10 - featuring the colour Burgundy (but not the wine)

This is a sampler of shibori designs, all dyed with the same burgundy dye.  I really like this colour, as it's a blend so you get some splitting of the colour, which I think enhances the results.

To make this, I used 12 fat quarters, tying or clamping each in a different way and recording what I did - for example, some of the designs were ironed; some dyed with the fabric dry; some pieces were wrapped around objects and so on.  I don't usually do this, but I wanted a sampler of designs that I could come back to and refer to.

I plan to do some more shibori over the holiday period, so all I need to do now is locate the book with all the information in it..

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Day 9 - in which I heave a sigh of relief

Today, my homestay went home.  I have had homestays, mostly Chinese, on and off for the past 4 years as a means of bringing in extra money.  Many were teenagers; some were older.  Some were a pain, and some were delightful.  I have decided that there will be no more of them, so now I have the house to myself again, which I enjoy.  However, it's time to tighten the belt.

When there's not much money, you have to take your pleasure where you can find it, and that is in small things.  A beautiful morning, a lovely garden, dyeing wool while the dogs sleep peacefully.

Here's a photo of the sun over Cape Wanbrow - at this time of year, it's rising in a very easterly position.  This photo was taken in 2006, so the Cape is covered in large pine trees which have now been milled.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Day 8

I didn't post yesterday as it was my day to work at the Textile Emporium store.  However, the photo is one I took yesterday morning while walking Tilly in the public gardens.  The cabbage trees (Cordyline australis, for the horticulturally inclined) have magnificent blooms this year, as you can see from this photo of a couple of mature specimens.

What I enjoy about walking early in the morning is that you can smell the scent of the flowers as it wafts on the breeze, while later on, it gets lost in the heat of the day.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Day 6 - in which I discover something I made that I'd forgotten about

This is a cot quilt I made in 2008, but I have no idea who I made it for.  I had no pattern - I designed and drew the chickens myself.

I hope the baby I made it for enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Day 5 - yarn porn

Here's some delicious skeins of pure New Zealand wool that I dyed the other day - colours inspired by the NZ summer.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Phooey to you, Pantone..

"Pale pink and blue are my favourite colours" said no-one ever.  Not even if you call them by fancy names.

Here are MY colour choices for 2016:

Turquoise and teal.   I have a big tin of turquoise paint, and I'll be using it.  Watch this space.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Day 3 - some little-known facts

Looking back at my blog in 2007, when I wrote a record 168 posts, I discovered this post when I was tagged in a meme to tell 7 little known facts about myself.   Here they are:

1. I spent about a year living in the Cook Islands and Western Samoa as a baby (don't remember any of it) but haven't been anywhere overseas since then.

2. I vividly remember the very first time I ever put my head under water. Funnily enough it was here in Christchurch at a place called Coe's Ford (not many swimming pools around back then).

3. I have chewed my nails on and off ever since I started school.

4. I started work at the tender age of 16 years and 2 months.

5. I didn't learn to drive until I was 32.

6. I have additional blind spots at the back of my right eye due to having measles as a child.

7. I used to be a commercial orchid grower when I was married (plants, not flowers). I still grow some orchids.

Since then, #1 has changed as I went overseas in 2010. Also #3.

Here's a few more:

8. I love the fact that my grandmother used to live on a lighthouse.

9. I can speed read.

10. I can't swim.
There! Too much information?  Then here's a gratuitous photo of my beautiful cornflowers - I've grown blue and pink ones before, but the seed mix this year has these lovely purple flowers.  Bees love them.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Day 2, 31 Day challenge

Firstly, thanks to my blog friends who have started reading my blog again!

Looking back over my blog is fun - you forget a lot of the little stuff.  Here's some yarn porn from 2006 -
I didn't even remember that I was hand painting yarn back then.  According to my blog, this was around the time I went to a Creative Fibre (spinners & weavers) retreat in Queenstown.  Some of the Textile Emporium members were also there, although I didn't know them then.  I was asked to go to the retreat to demonstrate dyeing in the microwave.  I remember that some of the women were quite sceptical when I whipped the hot wool out and stuck it straight under a cold tap.  They were sure that it would felt but of course, it doesn't - to felt, wool needs both heat and agitation.

Here's my more recent skeins.  These are all single colours, with light, medium and dark variations.  I currently have 1 kilo of wool that needs dyeing, and I hope to get that done today while it's fine and sunny.  

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Day 1 - 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge

Let's go right back to the beginning, which is 10 years ago.  When I first heard of blogs (short for web logs), I thought they were pretentious and narcissistic.  Until I started one, of course.  Then I found out what fun they were!  I joined the Artful Quilters webring (a group of blogs based on the same theme - in this case, art quilts), and started reading and commenting on blogs and bloggers I found interesting.  The other bloggers did the same, and we linked to each other via our blogroll (a list of said blogs in our sidebar).

When I went overseas in 2010, I was lucky enough to stay with some of these lovely women, who kindly invited me to visit them - there was Liz Plummer in Wales, Marion Barnett in UK, Lou Heron of the Isle of Man (now in Timaru), Lorna Lafferty in Ireland (not a blogger but she had taken a dye class of mine when in NZ), Veronique in France, and Margo  in France.  There were others whom I didn't get to meet.  They were unfailingly generous and kind to me and I will always appreciate their hospitality.

At the time I started my blog, I had recently moved to Oamaru for the first time.  This was me in Victorian costume:

More on my adventures tomorrow.