Farmer’s wife 9-block cushion and visit to the Edinburgh Knitting and Stitching Show

This week I’m visiting my family in sunny Northumberland (it actually is at the moment, too). Left hubby at home because he’s allergic to the large hairy mutt, and as a side issue is also at work.

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Large hairy mutt contemplating mischief

I got the train and Mum and Dad picked me up from the station late on Thursday night, then had Friday to wind down, and on Saturday Mum and I got the train to Edinburgh. I actually spent all of Friday until about 6 p.m. working hard on quilting the Farmer’s Wife cushion cover I sewed for my brother (who was out at work on Friday). By dint of staying up late in the week leading up to coming home, and taking the project to work so I could do some at lunch times, I’d done the quilting along the sashes and then around the shapes on four of the five blocks, and sewed the top and bottom edges of the back onto the front before I set off for my parents’. The last bit was because I have the sewing machine set up in my flat and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to use Mum’s machine and didn’t fancy sewing the whole thing together by hand. Friday evening we first tried to get Mum’s old sewing machine to work, then we gave up and after dinner I stayed up til midnight sewing the back of the cushion on by hand. There is a theme here akin to the Christmas cushion cover and my aunt’s quilt – I need to organise my time better!

Here is the end result (complete with squint central square!). I don’t the off-white is so bright in real life, the flash / sun makes it look over-exposed. I’m glad I spent time doing the extra detailing on the back.

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The photo below was taken late on Friday night, when the dim lighting showed up how quilting round the shapes gives them more depth in certain lights. On the other hand, I would like to do free motion quilting in a fancy design all over it, but alas I don’t yet have those skills!

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Saturday was fun! We got there early (the trains were only at 8.33 or 10.20 and then we had to get from the train station to the bus station and get the shuttle bus out to where it was being held, which was a half-hour ride, so definitely worth getting the early train). We had a good look at all the stands, and the displays of knitting and quilting. Also some textile art for sale to people who can afford original artwork, but the detail in some of them was incredible so an art collector would be spending their money well. It wasn’t as busy as the one I’ve been to in London, which was a good thing, but still busy enough that there were some stalls where you had to negotiate your way to try and see what was for sale. There weren’t as many fabric stalls as I’d have liked, but then I’d already decided not to buy much as I’ve got a substantial stash at home and I now know that these shows aren’t really the place for bargains, more to see what’s out there (and even then, many online stores have more extensive ranges). Japanese fabric seems to be on the up, and there was a stall selling good quality Japanese fabric. Felting also seems to be popular and there were some fantastic creations on show.

I bought a kit to make a box from Japanese folded patchwork, which I’ve started because I didn’t have time to cut pieces for an autumn quilt block to bring with me, so it’s good to have a project to do here (though I do have knitting which I brought with me). The company’s called Euro Japan Links Ltd. It’s a 5-inch box with no lid, made from 5 squares. As well as the instructions, they give you the dark red fabric which is the backing to each square in this kit, wadding, and 7 squares from which you choose 5, which is good, and I bought two more fat quarters from their stall that I thought I might use in the box, or if not will use another time because they’re navy and cream so useful colours. Whether I’ll make the box successfully is another matter!

IMGP0652I also got a lovely little embroidery kit, which will be a new endeavour for me because I don’t do embroidery, just cross stitch, which I don’t think counts, but the autumn picture’s gorgeous so I hope to do it well. I got a few fat quarters, from a stall selling 4 for £10, mainly because I liked the dark blue but then spent a ridiculous amount of time deciding on another three to blend. In the end I found two to blend and got a random third that I think will match with a red and white check I have back in the flat.

Oh, and Mum kindly bought me a new pair of sharp little scissors because my current ones are quite blunt (and weren’t even fabric scissors to start with)!

Not loads but that’s good because I have to carry them back on the train, and have plenty projects to be getting on with and don’t really need anything else. But it was a good day out. Mum got a kit for knitting a teddy bear made from knitted patches which she’s started already, so I’m looking forward to seeing the end result of that one day! So long as the dog doesn’t get his paws on it, of course…

Washington

Safe to say that trying to put the plane journey to good use by crocheting snowflakes was not a success (and this was the best of them!)snowflakeI found the thin crochet thread hard to work with, and it was really difficult to see what I was doing. I’m going to try again with knitting wool and a thicker hook, but probably not for a while as I’ve lots of other projects ongoing.

But while in  Washington, although I decided against going to the Textiles Museum because I was told it’s mainly photos and not so good since it moved location, I did come across nice examples of textiles work both historic and modern.

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19th-century quilt in the National Museum of American History

IMGP0181Amazing beadwork on a vest made by a member (or members?) of the Cree peoples in Canada, c. 1920 (National Museum of the American Indian). Just one example of many.

Carpets designed by Erbil Tezcan and hand-made in Afghanistan using traditional techniques and natural dyes: close-up of  one and a distance shot + 3 close-ups of another. He is one of the artists helped by the British NGO, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, founded at the request of the Prince of Wales and the President of Afghanistan (http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/current/turquoisemountain/default.asp) and whose work is on display at the Sackler Gallery. I loved the colours and detail, and that they are made by hand by craftspeople. http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/current/turquoisemountain/bio-tezcan.asp

Patchwork colours inspiration at Dumbarton Oaks!

New favourite (block 7)

Bird 2This is my new favourite block (after the first one I did for this quilt), I’m pleased with the colours and having the bird, pine cones, berries and acorns, so feel it fits in well with my autumn theme (it took me ages to come up with putting in the red patches, but I think they really make it). I don’t think it fits well with the other blocks I’ve done, and only one of the colours I’ve used here has been used on any of the previous blocks, but I’ll make more and hope they somehow fit together in the end.  I think now I could have made the whole quilt in these colours, but too late now! And the key elements weren’t for sale when I first started looking for fabrics. I’m struggling to put together colours for the other blocks now, maybe I’ve given myself too many to choose from!

New fabrics

New fabric bought at the quilting show – most for autumn quilt, but a few for a spring quilt that’s on my radar as a ‘to do one day’ project and for which I’m collecting pretty fabrics in pinks and greens when I see them (trouble is my enthusiasm for fabrics will have me collecting too many different patterns again); also a Christmassy one of course! I love Christmas fabrics but don’t actually have any plans for them. For the current quilt, I wasn’t sure about the birds when I bought them (it was on a 5 fat quarters for £10 stand) but I’m using a square as the centrepiece of the latest block and now love it. Cutting it carefully so as not to have a headless bird though! I saw that some of the fabrics are heritage ones, recreations of old fabrics from the US, one labelled as a 19th-century one (I think the darkest green one you can see here). They’re lovely and I wonder if the bird one is one of them. I can’t really identify it, and wonder if it’s an American species? The pinecones are a bit whacky (you can’t really see, but there’s a gold thread in it) and a brighter green than anything else I’ve got so will be hard to match up, but I’ll get it in there somewhere!

Block 6

I wanted to use the fabric with the slightly crazy chillies, sunflowers, apples &c, and ended up deciding the others I had that went best with it were the yellow leaves and the plain burgundy – result, really pretty bright! I took a photo of all 6 together, though that’s not necessarily how I’ll place them once I’ve made more blocks, and they’re looking way too busy… one to make your eyes cross! I’m going to discipline myself to make some plainer ones now. Though the latest I’ve started, with lovely new shades of green bought from the show on Saturday, starts off quite subdued (i.e. tasteful) then gets a bit too eccentric again the more pieces I add. So the next one will be more subdued…. honest!

Block 2 (bit too orange?!)

Block number 2 finished… quite pleased with it, though don’t like it as much as the first one. Definitely won’t be placing the two blocks alongside each other in the finished quilt though, as can be seen from picture 2, they definitely clash! Next block is going to be a bit more subdued, to tone it down a bit. This time, will start by choosing the colours of the outside pieces first, rather than working from the inner square out as have done with the first two. I’ve also ordered a bundle of fat quarters in plain autumnal shades, I think that might work well for some of the inside ‘stars’ when placed alongside some of the more heavily patterned fabrics. (A fat quarter is the name for a piece of fabric 45 x 55 cms, a standard  size for quilting fabrics to be sold in).

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