Saturday 25 November 2017

A Treasured Time

This time last year I took the plunge and started an embroidery design I had been admiring for quite some time.  It's a special Christmas scene called "A Treasured Time" by Dimensions Gold Collection.

Although I've stitched many cross stitch designs in the past, this is different because it's mainly stitched in half cross stitches and it's on Aida, whereas I'm more used to stitching on linen and evenweave.

I've seen many Russian ladies stitching designs like this on Instagram, and I though it would lovely to have my own piece hanging on the wall at Christmas time.

The stitching is very dense, and there are frequent colour changes, so it's taken me longer than I expected to finish this piece, but it's going to be beautiful when it's framed.

The lovely shading comes about by the frequent blending on threads.  Often three strands are used at once, two of one colour, and one of a completely different colour, but it all works out in the end.

I decided that if I was going to have this piece finished for Christmas 2017 I would need to work on one quarter of the design each quarter of the year.   That worked well for me, but I left all the backstitching and French knots to the end, and that has taken me longer than I expected.  In my mind I thought the backstitching might take a week, but it's actually taken three weeks.  My elbow hurt at times from pushing the needle through the very dense stitching.

But as you can see from this photo, the backstitching really brings out the design.  Compare the windows on the right to those on the left - a huge difference.

I'm hoping to get it finished this weekend, and off to the framers early next week.  I don't know if they can do it time for Christmas or not, but I will be happy to have achieved my goal of finishing it by Christmas 2017.

Saturday 18 November 2017

Peacock at Sunset cushion

My Peacock at Sunset cushion (pillow) is finished! It was a wool tapestry kit from Ehrman. They make many beautiful kits which are often stocked by local embroidery shops.

I know some of you think I whip things up overnight, but here's the facts:
December 2014 - I received this tapestry for Christmas (self selected gifts are always the best).
2015 - I didn't touch it at all
March 2016 - I started it on a work weekend away in Rotorua
Feb 2017 - I had about half of it done
August 2017 - I finished the stitching
November 2017 - it's finished!!

The kit includes a pre-printed canvas and all the wool you need.  There's also a diagram provided, but it's better to just follow the design on the canvas if possible. Every single space gets covered and the texture is nice and thick.

I started off with it on a frame, but then decided it would be easier without a frame.  It did get a bit warped, but it was stretched and corrected during the finished process.

the back with a hidden zip

I have made some cushions myself, but the people at Nancy's Stitch Studio do such a beautiful job so I send my very best pieces to them.  See how they applied the cord perfectly? And matched the stripes on the Kaffe Fassett fabric I provided? I would rather pay them to do it than fiddle about myself at home.  There's a zip so I can remove the insert if necessary.

Finished size - 14" x 13"

I'm tempted to make another cushion like this one day.  I thought that tapestry would be easy and quick compared to embroidery, but I was wrong.  It took quite a few months of quietly plugging away, but I'm very pleased with the outcome.  I'm still browse the beautiful designs on the Ehrman site, but I have so many other things I want to make too.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Patchwork Doodle with Sherri Lynn Wood

Yes, another class!!

A few weeks ago I attended a class with Sherri Lynn Wood.  You might have heard of her - she's written a book called:
The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters (shown on the flyer on my cutting mat below).

Sherri was in New Zealand for Symposium, but had agreed to stay on and teach a few classes for one of the local guilds.

The class I attended was called Patchwork Doodle.  Sherri explained lots of techniques for using up scraps, and then left us to each work out what we could do with the fabrics we had bought along.  The big challenge for me was that there were no rulers allowed!!

All the cutting was done freehand, which was a bit scary at first, but I soon got into it.

Sherri was clearly more used to working in solids, and was probably horrified at us putting pattern with pattern, but hey, if we're going to go improv we may as well go all out.

I tested my piece against some different fabrics when I got home, but I don't see this getting finished anytime soon.  I've tried, but I don't really think freehand improv is my thing.

There are just so many other things that I enjoy doing more at the moment.

I chose to attend this class because it was close to my house, and Sherri may never come back to New Zealand to teach again.  My motto is - seize the opportunity while you can.  You don't know what you might learn until you take part.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Auckland Festival of Quilts - Aotearoa Quilters Orange Challenge

Like previous years, the Aotearoa Quilters 12 x 12 colour challenge quilts were on display at the Auckland Festival of Quilts.  This year the colour was orange.

I didn't enter a quilt because I had entered three mini quilts in our Capital Quilters guild 12 x 12 challenge this year.  You can see my entries in that challenge by clicking here.

I did have an orange 12 x 12 quilt in the Capital Quilters challenge, but I couldn't enter it into Aotearoa Quilters challenge because I'd already published photos of it on my blog and Instagram. That policy is currently under review and if you're a member of Aotearoa Quilters I'd encourage you to answer the survey they sent out at the weekend. and let your views be known.

My favourite this year was "3 Baobab Trees" by Theresa Vaughan.

The overall winner was "Is Orange really the New Black" by Liz McKenzie.

You can read about and see photos on my blog from the previous Aotearoa Quilters challenges here:
Green challenge - 2015
Yellow challenge - 2016

Next year it's PINK.  What can I possibly do for that?  Suggestions welcome.

Sunday 5 November 2017

Auckland Festival of Quilts - 2017

On Friday I went to the Auckland Festival of Quilts with my mum, Joy, and my friend from Wellington, Anne.  We had a good time and were very impressed with all the beautiful quilts on display.

Here are some of my favourites:

Firstly my mum, standing next to her la passacaglia.  It was entered as "Exhibition Only" because it was finished in 2016, so not eligible for prizes.  Mum couldn't enter it last year because it was away in Houston as part of the Quiltmania la passacaglia exhibition. Lots of people said it looked lovely, so that was very nice for mum. It's all English paper pieced and hand quilted.

Next was mum's other quilt in the show, her Summer Garden, made from Karen Tripp's Mischief pattern.  Again, it's all English paper pieced and hand quilted.

Some other quilts that I liked:

These dragonflies were my favourite quilt in the show.  They just shimmered in the light.

I met plenty of quitly friends while I was at the show.  Some of them have blogged about the show too so you can see photos of the quilts they liked here:
Sue Flego - Susanna Quilts and a second post here
Julie - Julie Lou

Friday 3 November 2017

Lectures at Symposium

As though five days of classes from 9am until 4.30pm wasn't enough to fill in your days, Symposium also offered lectures during lunch times and in the evenings.  I attended three lectures and they were all great.

First up was Luke Haynes from USA. He explained how he's made 50 black, white and red log cabin quilts from recycled textiles / clothing! Each one is different, and they form part of a study he's put together. Luke loves using recycled textiles for his quilts.

This is Luke's quilt in the Tutors' Exhibition.

Although Luke didn't bring his Bernie Sanders quilt along, it is probably my favourite quilt of his.  I love the blue background and how it moves before my eyes.  It's interesting to now know that the background is made from recycled fabrics. (I've started saving my husband's old shirts for future quilts.)

Luke's technique of putting images of people on quilts is very clever.  Sometimes he plays with vanishing points and the images of people seem to rise up as you walk in front of the quilt.

I also went to hear my lovely friend Michele Hill speak about how she came to design quilts and write a book about Beatrix Potter. Michele is so humble, and so grateful for all the good things that have come her way in life.  It's such a pity she has to give up teaching for health reasons.

Finally I went to Jacquie Gering's lecture.  I was quite surprised to hear that Jacquie has only been quilting for 10 years.  Although she's been a "maker" all her life, she only started quilting relatively recently.

These photos aren't very good, but they give you an idea of the types of quilts that Jacquie makes.  I did note that she uses black alot - like me!

Jacquie is best know as a modern quilter, and chair of the Modern Quilt Guild.  She has recently written a great book called "Walk - Master machine quilting with your walking foot".

 After seeing the samples my friends made in Jacquie's classes at symposium, and listening to her lecture, I came home and got out Jacquie's book again for another read.  It means so much more once you've met the author and heard them talk about their quilting.

So, three great lectures from inspirational quilters. 

Wednesday 1 November 2017

My Haunted House

Last night was Halloween.  I only have three Halloween decorations at my house, but I got all of them out a few weeks ago.  

First up is my Haunted House that I made from a pattern by Victoria Sampler.  You can read all about it in this blog post, and more about the other buildings in my Gingerbread Village on the tab at the top of the page.  

 I loved stitching this 3D building.  The ornaments that came with the accessory pack are just so cute!

 My second Halloween decoration is this small table mat I made for the Haunted House to sit on.

And the third decoration is a table runner I English Paper Pieced with Cotton + Steel Halloween fabrics.  I used some of the patterns from The New Hexagon book by Katja Marek.

I hope you've enjoyed Halloween if it's something you celebrate.  It's becoming more popular in New Zealand, but my kids are too old for it now.