Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Sunday School at Trysull

It was a real family affair at the Village Hall on Sunday. Laura welcomed 12 ladies to a workshop involving lots of painting, rubbings, prints and collage. At the other end of the room Jamie was on hand to explain to visitors what the printing process on the wide format printer is all about and Adrian manned the sales table for everyone who came to the pop-up shop.  Behind the scenes in the kitchen my mom and I kept everyone fed and watered with home made cakes and cookies and a salad lunch with lots of our own garden produce. We all took turns to keep Amelie entertained but I think she'd much rather have been let loose with the print blocks and the paints! Must confess I would have loved that too!

The aim of the day was for everyone to produce original artwork that Laura would scan and Jamie would print onto cotton fabric. There were some very exciting results and I really hope we get to see how the fabrics will be used!

I've borrowed these 2 images from Laura's blog but you can see lots more of the work if you head over there.

During our heatwave I've virtually lived in my cotton jersey T shirt dresses. As I've had so many people ask me what pattern I used I've put it here. It's Vogue number V1261 Trouble is I rarely follow a pattern exactly so you'll need a little imagination to understand how I arrived at this blue number from the line drawing of version 'A' below.

It was easy really - just shorten the sleeve length, taper the side seams, lose the pointy hem, increase the length and there you have it. I think the only bit that's true to the pattern is the raglan sleeve! The construction is a cinch, especially if you have an overlocker to make quick work of it. The sleeve pieces are joined to the front and back pieces first and then a single seam is stitched from wrist (or elbow depending on sleeve length) to hem. I bound the neck with a strip of the same fabric but didn't bother with turning hems - just left them overlocked. I'm almost out of jersey fabric right now but as soon as stocks are replenished I'll be making more of these. No fastenings involved, no ironing required and feels as comfortable as wearing a nightie!!

I know, I know, there always seems to be food mentioned in my posts but I don't apologise for showing you the raspberries fresh from the garden. I'm picking a couple of pounds of these every evening and there is a limit to what even I can eat. There will be enough jam for the rest of the year but if anyone has favourite recipes to ring the changes I'd love to hear about them.

The cherries have been just as plentiful but I can only reach the lower branches of our ancient trees so the birds and the squirrels have won that battle.

 What I did pick were eaten fresh or ended up in Clafoutis.

So many of you have written to say you've enjoyed the latest garden inspired videos we've made for DMTV. Thank you so much for all the generous comments about my sketchbook. It means a lot to me to hear that you've been inspired to have a go at drawing and painting after seeing my efforts. I believe we are very lucky people - we can get pleasure and satisfaction from the simple things in life. We don't have to take expensive trips abroad or acquire lavish possessions - we can just sit quietly with a little sketchbook and a pencil and lose ourselves for an hour or two. I don't suppose I'm on my own when I say it brings on a sense of well being. I haven't painted this gloriously velvety sunflower yet but it's on my list!

Thank you for dropping by - talk again soon - Linda

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Exhibition, heatwave, what's next?

If I don't blog for a week it usually means I'm really busy rather than I have nothing to talk about. This last week has been hectic and made worse by the exceptional temperatures we've had. Normally I can take the heat, enjoy it even, but if quilts need to be quilted and videos recorded, when the workroom is a hothouse despite the efforts of the electric fan, it's not so easy.

I choose to quilt this cushion fabric by hand so I could sit in a shady spot in the garden to get it ready for DMTV and then onto our stand at Festival. It's a good excuse to sit and enjoy the garden without feeling guilty.

The latest crow quilt needed its text added now all the quilting is finished. In the cool of the evening or first thing in the morning was the best time for a little stereo stitching! This involves setting the embroidery machine up to do its thing while I keep an eye open for when the thread colour needs changing or the hoop moved. Magic! While it's whizzing away I sit alongside at another machine frantically free motion quilting.

I can't tell you how I love to hear two machines working at the same time!! I've contoured the spoon and fork on the right with turquoise and in-filled between the spoons on the left with angular patterns in orange. This is one of a pair of cushions I'm making for Laura's Fingerprint pop up shop next Sunday.

Our SiX and Friends exhibition opened earlier this month and it was lovely to travel to Llanidloes at the weekend for the Meet The Artists' event. As you can see from the picture above, The Rivals did get finished in time! This is the only photograph of it I have as the three pieces are far too big for my walls at home! The organisers looked after us really well and we were all grateful for the delicious lunch after a long hot drive. There's new work from every artist so even though the exhibit has travelled to previous venues there are new pieces to see. The exhibition runs all through the summer so I do hope lots of people will make time to visit this beautiful gallery in a lovely part of the world.

Annabel's quilts looked stunning. They have a calm monumentalism about them which is hard to describe until you see them 'in the flesh'. No pun intended! I can't wait to see more of her quilts in the Through Our Hands gallery at Festival of Quilts in a couple of weeks.

Hilary did a great job demonstrating some of her favourite techniques.

While the rest of us just did what we do best - talk! Laura has put a few photos on the SiX and Friends blog so head over there if you'd like to see more of the exhibition and links to all the group members' own websites and blogs.

Thanks for visiting today - I'll be back with more soon. Bye for now - Linda

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Smug Alert!!

I have to warn you that I'm feeling very self satisfied and pleased with myself! I know that's not an admirable trait but I can't help it! Firstly, I've had a birthday this week and was treated to a lovely day out. I was taken to Ludlow for a little retail therapy - more of that later. The farmers' market was on and we were able to watch butter being churned as well as taste many delicious local products. The bread was irresistible even though I'm hard to please because I make all my own bread.

We bought the red onion, rosemary and rock salt loaf - fabulous with the Welsh goats cheese we also couldn't resist! Ludlow is well known as a foodie destination and we could easily have eaten everything  on offer. Thank goodness I don't live there or I'd soon be as big as a house.

There was great music to enjoy in the square in front of the castle walls.

As well as traditional circle dancing. The music was compelling and I was desperate to join in but I suppose it helps if you know the steps!

There was also basket making.

After Ludlow we went on to Stockton Bury Gardens.

Where everything was looking lovely despite the heat.

I can never resist a doorway or an arch and this garden has lots of both.

We had lunch in the sunshine at the Granary restaurant surrounded by shady apple orchards with grazing sheep.

The lovely old farm buildings provide the perfect setting for all the planting.

And even the bird house is thatched with a twiddly lead finial on top!

I'd be hard pressed to choose but I think the dovecote is in one of the loveliest parts of the garden.

The main reason for the trip to Ludlow was that one of my favourite dress shops is there. The plan was to have a birthday treat. Amazingly there was nothing in Oska that appealed to me on the day even though the summer sale was on!!  The only top I liked was too small and would have necessitated surgery so I came home determined to make a couple of things myself. So today I started with the stripy number above.

Then a long T shirt dress just needing its pockets to be finished.

And finally a spotty dress to wear with leggings - the third garment of the day! Oh I do love my overlocker for making everything so quick and easy!! Before you ask, it's a Huskylock s21.

So, three new outfits in the space of a day for a fraction of what I'd have spent at Oska - can't be bad. Now you know why I'm feeling smug!!

Thanks for dropping by - I'll write again soon. Love Linda

Monday, 8 July 2013

It's Tour time again

Sadly we couldn't be in France for this year's Tour but we've been following it every day on TV. It's a big deal in our house and even Amelie wasn't allowed to escape the excitement. Here she is trying out a few of the freebies from our last visit.

I'm very envious of my sister Maureen this month - she's at her house in the Ariege and braved the heat and the crowds to watch a stage on Saturday. If you're keen on cycling you can see some of her photos here. Just to be a spectator sounds easy but if you've never experienced the circus that is the Tour de France you wouldn't believe how difficult it can be to get to a vantage point before the race passes through and then out again after it's over. The roads are all closed hours before the start or even the day before and the sheer number of vehicles and spectators along the route is incredible to see. Maureen left her car in a nearby village and walked into Ax so they could make their getaway without too much hassle.

Whenever I think of our trips to France I, for some reason, think of food. Down in Maureen's part of the world a typical restaurant menu would always include duck. I cooked Magret de Canard at the weekend to recapture the mood and followed it with Cherry Clafoutis. It's not the same as being there but it's a close second. The weather cooperated too - we've got scorching temperatures at the moment and it was a pleasure to eat in the garden with a glass or several of chilled fizz.

Now just before you start picturing me lolling around in a hammock with a glass in hand, I am still working! This quilt is called Ragged and Black and will be in the Through our Hands exhibit at Festival of Quilts next month. It's almost finished - even the bindings on, and now I'm just adding some final painted details and digital embroidery.

 Of course, once I've squirted metallic paint into my palette I'm too mean to throw any leftovers away. Once the leaves on the quilt were done I grabbed a current sketchbook and decided this page was a perfect candidate for a touch of gold.

I accept that I am an obsessive when it comes to my quilts and my paintings but even I can't compete with the attention to detail of 'He Who Gardens'.

Notice the newly trimmed box hedges? yes dear readers, a spirit level and a plank were involved!!

Thanks for dropping by - I'll be in touch again soon, Linda