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The garden views

I decided that a post about my garden this month wouldn't go amiss.  I love the garden and the way it has developed over the years.  Last year was the biggest project I have ever undertaken and this is the first year I am able to enjoy what the new planting is bringing.

Certain plants have a poignancy for me - the peonies which Dick loved, the clematis we planted when we first arrived 18 years ago, the rowan tree which we put up to give us some privacy. All of these are thriving. Here are some views from the garden today.

This was taken this morning and now, at 4.45pm the red peonie is out and the sun is shining. The clematis is looking the best I have ever seen it.  It's a bit like snow!

The aliums are out and looking great too.

I am still trying to work out what the plant in the front is called, the one with the large leaves.  If you have any idea please leave a comment - and no, it isn't rhubarb!!


I think we are waiting for another burst of colour.  The tulips were stunning and now that the wind has done its work, no trace of them remains. The irises are in full bud and will be out shortly.  The peonies will come into full bloom in the next couple of days and finally the dahlias and cannas will be planted, giving me all the feel of colour and sun that maes me feel summer has come.  The reality is that as I write this though, the rain is pouring and the flowers are doing their best despite it all.

I wonder what June will bring?


Colour, colour and more colour

Those of you who know me or read this blog will know that I have been a devotee of Kaffe Fasset for many years. So it was a true delight to see his exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey.  My other colleagues from my quilting group, Stitch Connections, met with me and we all went up to see it.  We enjoyed the walk along the Embankment from Waterloo to Bermondsey very much - so interesting with the National Theatre, Tate Modern with its Wibbly Wobbly Bridge and then the Golden Hinde as well as the old Wharfs with their interesting history.

When we arrived at the exhibition we were completely overtaken by the riot of colour which assaulted us.  Nearly all of Kaffe's important works were there and the simple, often graphic shapes together with the bold and daring use of colour were brilliant.

The easiest way for me to show you these is to say less and just put the pictures on the blog.

This is the wonderful Shirt Box Quilt which is made from old shirts. I am gradually "de-boning" Dick's old Shirts with the intention of creating my own version of this.  It will be a lots more pink and blue and yellow.

Everywhere you look, there are beautiful objects.

Isn't this glorious?  It is a wall hanging made of tapestry. the shapes are so organic and similar but the use of colour is sensational.

I am willing to bet that your sitting room doesn't look like this!! Isn't it a wow - and I am told that his own home does really resemble this.  Might not be good for inducing a calm atmosphere!  

 The whole exhibition was a riot of colour, paintings, knitting, tapestry and of course quilts. I defy anyone to look at this exhibition and not feel uplifted!

We walked back along the Embankment, enjoying the wonderful views of London.  It is such a vibrant city.


Quilt Shows and bag ladies

On Friday I went up to the Quilt Show at Malvern.  It is a friendly show, much less intimidating than the Festival of Quilts and easy to get around in the time we spent there.

There were some lovely quilts exhibited.  One  of my quilting heroines, Jan Hassard had a lovely new quilt on display.

I love this.  It is called Twisting Triads. I have a wall hanging in my studio which is the outcome of a quilting workshop with Jan.

I also saw this beautiful wall hanging by Sheila Norquay.  The most interesting thing is that I think the colour was added to the quilt after it was quilted.  It is very much a painted quilt.

 The quilt is called Blue Birds' Spring Song. As you can see it won the "Celebrations" theme class.  It really is a lovely piece of work.

Finally, I am including a photo of a Framer's Wife Quilt.  There were a couple there and I have always been intrigued by the lovely range of blocks which they include.  I have plans for making something similar myself over the coming years - as something to come back to  now and again.


There is a strong possibility that this may not be the right way up.  I apologise if it is not.  Difficult to tell without outside references!! It was pieced by Margaret Benting.

I was relatively restrained about my purchases.  However I bought three great books from Barbara Chainey with patterns for quilting both blocks and borders, including feathers - my favourites for traditional quilts.

My mum came up with me for the day.  Unfortunately she was not feeling great but she did buy me some fabric and pattern to make a lovely bag with and today I have been able to find time to sew it all together and make something I really like.  Very simple but very useful.

I feel rather pleased with this.


Finally my monthly class of quilters met on Saturday.  It is a busy morning with 7 of us in the studio and kitchen but some lovely work is being produced and I feel really pleased with how it is all going.  This week we did 9 patch blocks and really focused on using lights, mediums and darks.  I have a sense that some lovely quilts could come out of this!


Silk Screen Diva!

Another great day at Committed to Cloth has left me with sore feet, tired legs but a huge sense of achievement and elation! Yesterday was a day focusing on silk screen printing and we tried various techniques, including positive and negative image printing, breakdown printing and working on different hues and tonal values.

I always seem to have to take so much stuff with me!  Monty comes along for the day and often just chills and relaxes on his bed for the day but yesterday was bright and sunny and he spent a lot of times on the patio sunning himself. The boot of the car is always full of fabric, buckets, sketchbooks dog bowls and dog bed! It needs sorting the night before i leave and takes me about half an hour to sort when I get home.  I am a bit like a fabric-dyeing, dog-owning bag lady!

We set off bright and early before 7 am but the traffic was dreadful and it took 2 1/4 hours to get to the studio.  Coffee on arrival is the only solution!  The only consolation is that three other ladies were later than I was but they do come from Colchester so there is a good reason.

So what did we create? We several large pieces of cloth using different techniques to print shapes and imagery.  I was in my element.  I like the rhythm and the development of design, I love the mess and the feeling that you are creating designs in a more controlled manner than techniques such as tray-dyeing, which are lovely but more random in their outcome.

This is a piece of cloth I created through using a breakdown technique.  This isn't referring to my breakdown, incidentally but rather to the fact that you create a screen by putting thickened dye onto a silk screen, embedding texturised items into the dye and then allowing the screen to dry completely. You then remove the items, leaving their imprint and you then force dye through the screen until the print breaks down as the dye is used up.  Not sure about this fabric.  You are looking at the cloth before it is washed and dried and that tends to produce a much gentler colour on the cloth.  I will post photos tomorrow when that has been done and you will be able to compare.  I love the colours though.  I was trying to create an indigo colour and think I almost got there.


The nex pieces were created using positive imagery on a silk screen.  The first piece was created using torn masking tape on a screen.  I tried to develop the colour with the paler hues in the background and the brighter colours in the foreground so that a sense of depth is created.


Again this will be more subdued after batching and rinsing. Watch this space.

Finally, this is the piece which I really am pleased with.  I created the screen using sticky backed plastic onto the screen.  I think it gives quite a graphic feel.  Someone described it as looking like curtains - not sure if that was a compliment!!


Lots of lovely pieces where created yesterday so here is a selection of the things which came out of Potters Barn Studio yesterday.


Aren't they all lovely?