Well, yes. It’s been nearly a year, hasn’t it? In my slight defence, I’ve moved house and been preoccupied with other forms of creative expression – there’s been a lot of decorating, some mural painting (below left), a little bit of curtain-type bodging, a new sewing area created – indoors! (below, right), some gardening and a lot of silliness involving – sometimes – making stuff. But not really sewing.

And there’s been some other stuff – the end of Mr P, and a return to singledom.  Lots of work wrinkles. And some life stuff – a child’s wedding; a parent’s fairly significant health issues; a funeral; a difficult and dangerous teenager.  All of which have produced a new tattoo and a fresh piercing – it’s like a grownup way of dealing with my issues.  All of which has meant that I haven’t really had time to do much in the way of creating things.  All of which has meant I need, desperately, to regain some of the inner calm and peace that creating things typically brings me.
And now, it’s Easter.  The house is largely decorated – apart from the very small places that I haven’t been bothered to do because it’s hardly worth taking the time to move the coats out of the porch and living with the clutter, because painting it will take *no time* (yes, there is some logic in there somewhere.  No, I’m buggered if I can find it either).  And the very significant places that I can’t afford to do because bathroom suites and tiles and all that crap so I need to save up.
At Easter, I take time off work and I sew.  It’s what I do. I typically knock up a quilt.  This easter, though, I have lost my mojo.  I really just want to sit on my sofa and drool a while.  But then I have this lush new sewing area.  Indoors! It would be silly to have spent the time making it, and then not use it.  Wouldn’t it?  Why yes, it would.
So I am tackling the wedding present quilt.  I say tackling the wedding present quilt.  So far, I am 2/3 of the way through making a (very simple) back for it.  Then I will baste it.  Then I know exactly how I want to quilt it. Problem is, I’m not sure I can actually sew, any more.  Not sure at all.  So mostly my tackling it involves a series of displacement activities, including this, and middle distancing while contemplating the cure for singledom.
Oh well.  Here goes nothing.  And hello, by the way.  It’s (kind of) nice to be back…

Little Hooky Hearts

I’m ignoring January. It’s really the only sensible approach, what with financial crises and gloom and doom and now you can’t even say worse things happen at sea…. So in the spirit of ignoring January, I’ve been becoming quietly obsessed with hearts. Not sure why: as an official singleton, valentine’s day is likely to be something of a non-event, but it’s sweet, isn’t it? And somehow, making hearts does feel as though I’m filling my home with love. It’s ok, I’ll hang on here, while you go away and vomit…!

The first heart was somewhat unintentional. My lovely new kitchen cabinet has generated a considerable reshuffle of furniture around the house. No matter where I move things to, there is a big hole, somewhere. In an attempt to reduce the size of the hole, I bought a beaded, fairy-lit wire heart from Next of all places. But it’s white, and looked a little stark sitting on its own on a white wall.  So I slung up some ‘vintage’ grey paint (as in, it’s a vintage colour, rather than it’s been lying around for a while) in a rough and ready, brushtroked kind of way, and hung the heart over that.  It looks quite good – although it really *doesn’t* fill the hole.  My lovely friend suggested that the paint makes it an ‘installation’ which made me feel a bit better about buying ready made, populist tat (from Next!  Of all places!)

 Then I got my hooks out.  My new issue of Mollie Makes arrived the other day, and they are feeling the hooky, hearty love in a big way.  Well, there’s a little window in my lovely new cabinet, which was just calling for something, and so I sat down in front of the television with some scraps of yarn and hooked up these little hearts. 

The Mollie Makes issue does have a pattern for hearts, but I didn’t like the straight-row nature of theirs.  I like my crochet hearts a little bit swirly, so I used the heart pattern from 201 Crochet Blocks by Melody Griffiths.  I made 6, though really there’s only space for 5, because I like the combination of pastelly ice cream colours.  Also because, if I’m honest, I’m rather desperate to finish this yarn, which has been hanging around for quite a long time.  There’s not enough of any colour left to do anything substantial with, and because it’s acrylic and I prefer to work with wool, I don’t want to buy any more!

Anyway, I then stitched the hearts with a single, golden cross stitch (or a kiss…) to the printed cotton ribbon which came free with the magazine.

So.  Twee.  Irredeemably twee.  Next stop, menopause, I suspect!  But they’re rather pretty, too.

My next project won’t be twee.  I’ll crochet up a full set of genitals, or a lion ripping the guts out of a springbok (deer, not rugby player…), or a full set of  matching dishcloths.  In the meantime, do feel free to carry on being a bit sick until this phase passes!

Other stuff (odds and sods)

This is a kind of specious post.  I’ve uploaded pages about quilting, and knitting, and crochet.  Along the way, I found a handful of photos of other things, and since I’ve found them I want to put them up.  But these are things I made experimentally, just to see if I could, so I’m not going to give them a page of their own…

Back in 2003 (or somewhere around then), I did one year of a two year City & Guilds course in patchwork and quilting.  I didn’t finish the course for two reasons, both of which took equal weight (in my mind, if nowhere else..)  First, I went back to working full time and didn’t have time to spend Thursdays at college.  Secondly, the first year assessment package required me to design and make a box.  Out of fabric.  A box!  It’s not that I couldn’t, if I didn’t want to.  It’s just that I couldn’t imagine *why* in the name of all things sacred, I would *want* to.  I didn’t want to.  I designed and made just about everything else the assessment required – a wall hanging, an accessory, a quilt, a book of patchwork samples, another book of quilting samples, a cushion – oh, the list goes on.  But really!  A Box???  Anyway.  These three pictures I totally haven’t talked about at all are the City & Guilds wall hanging I made.  It’s based on a picture of a wave at Sennen Cove, and is made using the bargello method.  This is a brilliant, if slightly technical and complex way, of making waves in fabric, and I loved doing it.  In order to break the wave up and give a breaking water effect, I left the seams exposed.  I then couched some unspun merino top, woven through with silk waste, over the circle to give the crest effect of the wave, and adding some murano glass beads for the sparkle of the water.  So far, so good.  I then rather spoilt the whole thing by quilting it really crudely.  One day, I have it in mind to unpick the quilting and do something a bit more sophisticated.  But it’s been 8 years so far, so nobody should hold their breath…

 This is the accessory I made for the City & Guilds.  It’s a handbag based on a picture I found of a Moroccan mosque.  The fabrics are all hand dyed.  The blue edging is an upholstery weight linen, dyed using Dyrect dye from Omega Dyes.  The front and back are made from layers of cotton dimity, fine linen, silk, and silk velvet.  All were dyed in the same batch of Dyrect, but each fabric took the dye with a different intensity.  The fabric was stitched onto a linen backing, quilted into grids, and then slashed in different directions.  Each fabric, at a slightly different colour, breaks through the slashing, giving a depth and movement to the colour.  The velvet and silk also give a slightly chenille effect.  If I had slashed on the bias rather than along or straight across the grain, this chenille effect would have been enhanced by the way the raw edge would have frayed.

The edge, flap and handle are made from leather I got in a bag of scraps from Croft Mill, who used to do a marvellously eccentric catalogue selling roll ends and odd bits of stuff, which they now seem to do online: result!  You should totally read it – it’s full of treasures you’ll not find the like of elsewhere.  I never use this bag – it’s really not my thing at all, but every once in a while I stumble across it in a corner of a wardrobe, and I have a happy moment, simply stroking it.  It does feel utterly lush!

If my sister ever stumbles upon this blog, I am a dead woman.  In which case, it’s been lovely meeting you all – albeit briefly.  I’ll explain: this block is a New York beauty.  It’s a traditional American patchwork block, reputedly based on the Statue of Liberty’s crown.  The central and corner fabrics are Japanese geishas, and the zig zags are – um – something else I can’t quite see.  I must have made this block – and a few others like it – in 2004, when my sister got married.  Only it’s fiendishly technical (involving both curves and the points of triangles) and I moved jobs and houses and counties, and somehow that quilt never got finished, and Sissy never got a wedding present.  I am a *bad* sister!  But look!  Isn’t it lovely!  Wouldn’t it have been beautiful?? I’m sure I’ll finish it one day… maybe sometime soon after I unpick the wall-hanging…

This is a cushion I made for a very lovely friend.  We saw one a bit similar in a shop window, and he admired it.  So I made him one to celebrate a new job.  It involved applique, piping, machine embroidery with the feed dogs and free machine embroidery based on my own drawing – combining some of my favourite things with some of my least favourite things.  But that’s what friends are for, right?

And the next two pictures are… well… pictures.  Painted pictures.  These are recent – made within the last month.  I’ve never really done painting before, but after a stressful meeting, I found myself at home, drawing on the hall wall in precisely the manner which would have earned any of my children a resounding, heartfelt scolding!  I was making a mural.  When you’ve never done anything before, tackling it for the first time without thinking about it, in a place where it’s immediately visible to anyone who walks through the front door, isn’t necessarily the best plan… but once I’d started, I rather had to carry on until I’d finished.  And I have to admit, I like this tree.  A couple of people have commented that the colours are very Orla Kiely, and I guess I see that – but it wasn’t intentional at the time.  I don’t think it’s startlingly original, but actually I quite like the finished piece.

This painting is a canvas.  Which I bought, and left lying around in the hall until I was so irritated with it I had no choice but to throw it away, or bloomin’ well paint it.  So I painted.  Using a mixture of textured acrylic gesso, dulux matt emulsion, Windsor & Newton acrylics, embossing powder, silk paint and…um… no, I think that might be it.  Mixed media, then, I guess.  Again, this isn’t necessarily something I’d buy in a shop – it’s a bit twee – and about a fortnight after I finished it, I noticed that the gilded cage is wonky.  I’m going to pretend  that’s deliberate.  It’s a metaphor, you see, for the assymetrical injustice of entrapment.  Or something.  Anyway, what do I like about this?  The effect of light on the hanging heart.  The gold of the cage.  The sparkle on the wings of the flying heart.  Some of the density of movement and light on the background.  I’m not sure, yet, whether I like the whole thing, but it fills a gap on the spare bedroom wall…

And that’s it.  My forgotten photographic discoveries.

And now I’m going to make some felty things based on some half remembered pictures I saw while browsing for links to  put on some of the other pages.  There will be pictures…