Athens time

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Season Wishes

To all of you friends, readers and good people everywhere

Merry Christmas!!!

May you have the happiest of festive days!

(no, it's not here! photo courtesy of Gander on Flickr, thank you!)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Kaffe Fassett - a lecture on colour

Dearest Friends and Readers,

It's been a while. A quite turbulent while for me too. Dare I just say and mention elderly mother, stroke, nursing home, letting go of all belongings (for her, not me..)and continuing emotional trauma? I am sure many of you can fill in the blanks. In fact, it's been since summer I wrote and you know how it goes, you get out of the habit and put it off... however....

Back with a BANG !! om my gosh... you will never believe this, but I actually and finally (after admiring their designs and life work for SO many years) heard Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably speak and met them. It was a glorious evening! And so really interesting and insightfull that I wanted to share it with you all. I won't be able to tell you all, but I will do my best to give you a flavour and some highlights.

Brandon gave us wonderful introduction to Kaffe, his work and the collective. He had us all chanting out his name in the right way. Its 'Kaef' as in "wave" and 'Fassett' as in "asset". So what is our most valuable asset?  Yes, that's correct...  Kaffe Fassett !!

Kaffe then eloquently enticed us into the world of colour, design and pattern. He mentioned that pattern is the way to organise colour in a juicy sexy way. He organises all his yarn in beautiful old chests of drawers by colour, not by weight. He showed us numerous slides of breathtaking landscapes and colours and gave us several examples on where the inspiration had come from for several of his knitwear patterns and quilts. He loves primitive repetitive forms that are done with such humanity, it cannot fail to move you.

He then went on to talk a bit about patterns and colours and where he finds them (all around him, is the answer to that one). The pattern on Kaffe's socks in the picture above, was inspired by a display of circles of eyeshadow in a supermarket whislt he was hanging around waiting for the shopping to be done.

A similar picture to the one below he took of lovely lupins at the Chelsea Flower Show, brought him to the idea of gradation of colour in his knitwear.  He coupled the idea to the colours of a beautiful photograph he took himself (and I therefore cannot show you) of a landscape with trees and stone walls in the early morning mist. Some of the trees were a breathtaking silvery/old rose colour and coupled with the mist it was amazing. I have searched online for an image of the knitwear but haven't been able to find it. He then mixed the colours of the photograph, with the gradation idea of the lupins, and the result was a beautiful knitwear pattern with waves and undulating colour patterns inbetween.

Curiously enough, when Kaffe started out designing, he was into beiges, cremes and greys and taupes in a big way.  He just wouldn't use colour. Think seaside, think shells, soft sand,

and it was only much later he started using colours in the way he does now although he still loves the softer colours as well.

A few interesting questions from the public came up.

Is creating something you can learn?

Kaffe answered that creativity and design is something we have all inside us.  He said 'have you ever seen a child's picture that is boring?  They are full of colour and imagination and creativity.  It is only later when we grow up that we set ourselves restrictions and tell ourselves that now we are all grown up, we cannot do this and that and the other.  NO!  release that inner child, let your creativity flow and rediscover this inate ability to create we all have, do not be afraid to do it 'wrong'.  There is no wrong, just let yourself go and do it!

How does Kaffe design?

Kaffe told us that designing and the creative process is something that needs concentration.  How can you be creative if every five minutes the phone rings or the doorbell or someone comes in who wants you to make a cup of tea...  When Kaffe designs, he just does that, no interruptions (he is lucky he can employ people to take the phone, answer the door and make the tea, I am just wishing :-).  He says he is very disciplined and it is hard work. He starts at 8am and then he works through, without interruptions and works all day.  He showed us a photo of a paisley design whilst it was a work in progress.  When finished, it looked a bit like this one;

To start with Kaffe surrounds himself with books and photographs and other images for inspiration.  Then he takes elements from everywhere a little detail. In this particular design, he draws the bare paisly form in pencil first.  Then looks for suitable forms to fill in the voids. E.g. the flowers inside the paisley and the outline, come from real flowers. The waterlily pads came into his mind because he went to an exhibition and an artist had made a large figure of a naked man, and had painted these waterlily leaves all over. Once the design is pencil drawn, the long process of handpainting the colours in begins.

The initial pencil design is kept and copied again and in exactly the same way the various colourways are created.  I think you may all know about the Kaffe Collective, where Kaffe, Brandon and Philip Jacobs (another amazing designer) collaborate. I found it very interesting that Kaffe mentioned that they collaborate in the true sense of the word. Like one day Philip comes in with a drawing of Cabbages and Kaffe colours them in a vibrant blue colourway.  I have always thought that each design was entirely done by the designer themselves but it's wonderful that they can all complement and inspire each other.

The results are certainly breathtaking! But to come back to the short answer on how Kaffe designs.  He works hard at it !!

Kaffe also said that he finds the creations of his students inspiring. Often they will do things in a different way, which, in turn, will inspire Kaffe to a new beautiful creation of his own!

He reminded us that the world is full of pattern and colour, especially the Middle East, it is just up to us to notice and not rush by with a blind eye.

Thank you very much Kaffe and Brandon for talking to me afterwards, having a look at photos of my quilts and giving me some advice. Also for the obligatory picture... you are both stars !

(ps... just LOVED Brandon's velvet jacket.. I felt very underdressed... but it was cold and pouring with rain..I chose comfy and warm. Now I want a velvet jacket... sigh...

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Well hello again ! (and pudding in the fridge..)

Thank you everyone who pondered and responded to my previous blogpost. We are all being very good and rather than always having pudding first, are conscientious and doing at least some of the bad stuff first before letting ourselves have fun! Personally, I am quite strict with myself (lol, who would have thought it, finally your parents no longer tell you to eat your greens first, and now you are doing it yourself, and to yourself, ironic really :-) and consequently there hasn't been pudding for a long time. Which translates in no sewing (as I wouldn't let myself till all was done).

However I have seen the error of my ways and I have got some pudding waiting in the fridge!(so to speak :-) so watch this space!

The (FQ) powers that be have very thoughtfully provided a linky party for those of us who are hopefully going to meet up soon and so I thought it would be a good opportunity to say "Hi" to old friends and to introduce myself to new ones!

My name is Marguerite, aka Rafael's mum. Rafael is the dog and not a son! Although I have two of those as well.

 I live in Ramsgate by the sea,

 which is in Kent (UK) and about half an hours drive north of Dover which is the place where the English Channel is at its narrowest (connecting by ferry with Calais in France).

This is a photo taken last year with my friend Dee, who cannot come, but as she is on my blog, she is sort of part of it anyway. Hi Dee ! (It's me on the right with the glasses and Dee on the left.. she is from all over yonder the pond, Virginia, USA so I suppose she cannot come every year - what a shame!)

I have been quilting since 2009 and then also found the online community, but since then I have had a lot of pockets of great absences as my elderly mother (who is not in England) required more and more care and hence more and more of my time. It is clear that my "return" to blogging and sewing is also going to be patchy (mother is bound to need more time the older she gets as well as some other factors that demand my time) but I promise I will do my utmost best to keep in touch with dear old friends a little more and am looking forward to making lots of new ones!

I love snapping away with my camera and no doubt will bring it along and have it happily snapping away!  Don't worry, I always take millions of photos and the good thing about that is that you can happily discard the ones where someone is just yawning or scratching his/her head or the like :-)  If you feel strongly you don't want your photo on the blog or the FQ site (and as such in the public domain) please let me know and I will be happy to make sure I won't publish yours.

(This was last summer...what happened to this summer?  It must be postponed....)

Mmmmm, what else can I tell you...On the patchwork and quilting side I like to make big quilts (why I am always so attracted to those enormous ones? they take ages!! but then again they ARE lovely when they are done!).

 I also make little things, like play balls for babies. They are fantastic and parents who have bought them have said to me that that ball was the first thing their baby played with!

Are any of you interested in a pattern or a kit for these?

They do take a bit of time to put together but in principle it's an easy construction and quite satisfying when you finish one. Some people also use them as pincushions.

Lately I have been interested in FMQ (Free Motion Quilting) and am really excited to be able to learn the basics from Trudy (quilting prolifically) who knows all about that!

Still, I think my heart will always be with the big quilts...

Come and say hello when you see me and remind me of your name (my brain is like a sieve, honestly, I tell you now ! so don't take it personally when I look at you with that "omg, I know her, I know her, who is she again..." look in my eyes and please, just help me out of the dream!! :-)

Looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones !

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Pudding First or Pudding After? (Or do you leave the best for last?)

Lately, as you have all noticed, I have not been blogging much.  This has several causes, family problems, health and last but not least the 'what should be done first'.

Do you all know this?  First your greens, then the pudding?  First the dreary stuff, then the lovely things as a reward.  This is how I have been raised.  And this is how I have continued in life.  You do the things you 'must' first to be then rewarded with the nice stuff.

However... I am noticing more and more that by the time you get to 'the nice stuff', there are more 'must do' things on the list.  As a friend I had not talked to for a while asked, I stopped and realized that I had effectively not sewn for years.  Even though it is what I want to do, even though it makes me happy.

(wouldn't you like to go surfing in the old VW bus?... I would! but that would be classified as 'pudding':-)

So when I saw this article this morning on Kim Werker's blog titled " How To Be Prolific: Guidelines For Getting It Done From Joss Whedon", my interest was peaked!  She refers to Joss (writer-producer-director)Whedon's interview HERE, in which he explains how he gets so much done.

And guess what?  He eats the pudding first!! (so to speak).  When he is really enthousiastic about something, he does it straight away.  Whilst the idea is still current, still exciting and he is still able to use that enthousiasm and drive to create the best work.  THEN he does the rest and knows that once he has dragged his way through the drudge, the end is near.

This is a revolutionary idea (well, to me anyhow).  As translating this to my quilting, it means that I have had lots of ideas I have been totally enthousiastic about. I can see how they could work... if only I had the time... and I don't have the time, as I spend all my time dragging my way through the drudge... and I won't sew till it's all done... Well guess what dear readers, it's dawning on me it will never get done... And however much I need the time to find work, clear up in the house, look after everyone etc, surely some time can be found to do something I love? (without having to feel quilty about it) And what's more, act on it when I get that spark of an idea and it is still fresh and exciting!

What's more... when I DO sew, it's for swaps and bees I have committed myself to (be it willingly :-). (btw, the charity blocks for the Siblings Together Quilt are rolling in, I will show you soon!) rather than the things I feel that instant spark for.  I STILL have the pattern and fabric for a couple of quilts I did not get to and was really enthousiastic about.  My son's quilt I promised him a year ago is still not done. I have so many ideas...

Maybe... just maybe I should do some more blogging?  reconnect with friends? sew on some of the ideas I have that I am wildly enthousiastic about but had to be shelved ? (whilst I see many of my friends actually carrying out these ideas, often ones I have had myself independently and am thinking... that could have been me...)

What do you all think.  Pudding first or Pudding after?

I am curious to what your opinions are!! Please comment!
I'll be waiting for you input whilst I am busy with the main meal :-)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Wonky Star tutorial - Siblings Together Charity Quilt

Hi Guys,

WARNING: Veeery long post :-)

Have you heard about the charity Siblings Together? It's such a worthwhile cause. Sometimes, when children go into care, families are split up, as one foster family cannot take all the children. Sadly then, it happens that these children hardly ever see their siblings. The Charity Siblings together (THIS is their website)provides for summer camps, where the children can have a lovely holiday together with their siblings.

Some time ago, Lynne (of Lily's Quilts) got involved as she thought it would be so lovely to provide each child with a quilt they can use during the holiday and then take home as a permanent reminder. She wrote this post (HERE)with a call for quilts to be sent and many people sent a quilt (or two :-) This is my post about the quilts I sent.

However more holidays, more quilts are needed and so we (on the Sibling Together Flickr group) have formed several 'Sibling' quilting bees. The bee mama of the month provides a tutorial to a block and all the other bee members will send a block to her. The mama of the month will assemble the top, provide the back, sandwich, quilt and bind the quilt ready to go off to Siblings together. So we all have our block to make each month and one of the months a quilt to finish. This should leave us with 12 quilts total in the bee to present to Siblings Together in a year.

I have the honour to be the first bee mama for June of our bee. In London last year,at the show and tell this beautiful quilt was produced. It was lovely and I believe also the result of a quilting bee. I do not remember whose it was so if anybody knows please let me know and I will give them credit!

Edit: The quilt was indeed a bee quilt for the Sew and Bee Happy Bee and made by Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting(she has a blog and a shop). The pattern came from the Modern Quilt Blocks book (Here at Amazon) and the block is called Stargazing (page 178). The block Cindy used consisted of 3 sizes of wonky star in a block, I will order the book and have a look. Thanks Nicky for putting the name of the maker to this wonderful quilt!

I would really love to make something similar for the June Siblings Quilt and I am therefore asking for a few wonky stars from each of our bee members. The big and the small stars are all put together in the same way, so I will start with the tutorial for the Wonky Star;

Wonky Star Block:

The Wonky Star block is in fact a simple nine-patch block. For those of you who would like to read up on that or have a reminder, there is a good tutorial on this on the Connecting Threads Site. With the difference of course (as you will see in a minute)that we will be using 8 white or cream patches so the 'press to the dark side' becomes impossible and we will have to press to the white sometimes. But don't worry about that for now.

You start with 9 squares (the size of which determines the size of the star, more on sizes later). For this tutorial I have used 9 squares of 4 1/2" sq.

I then cut some triangles (mine were a 4 1/2" sq cut diagonally in half as it was easy to cut several layers in one go, speeds things up!) but you can use any sized scraps you like as long as the line where the base of the triangle is sown onto the white square, is straight. The rest gets trimmed off later. Here I have 'auditioned' the fabrics to see whether I liked the colour arrangement. On most I have overlaid two 1/2 squares per white square but on the bottom I have not quite finished (one 1/2 square to go) so you can see more easily what I have done.

We are now going to sew one of the four blocks that represent the wonky star bits. I have isolated one of them, the other three are done in the same way.

You deal first with the first star point;

I will now go to another colour. I would say that is so you can see it better, but honestly, I forgot this step first time round so had to shoot some more photos afterwards, lol. Nobody is perfect ;-)
The light blue triangle (which is now purple..) is flipped over so right sides are together and sewn across the base line. You can make this as wonky as you like and the more the angle at which this is placed differs, the more wonky the star. Do be careful and flip it over and back again before sewing to see if the colour is covering all of the white square underneath because if it is not, you will have to unpick it later.

Cut off the little corner if you remember, as it will make the quilt too bulky if you have a lot of places with 2 layers.

After which it looks like this;

Ok, back to the blue colour (but still the same actions). You have now sewn your triangle to the white square. Fold it back over the right way and press.

Now you are ready to overlay the other triangle and audition the angle (be sure to fold back and see if it's ok before you sew, can't say it often enough! you guess who has had to unpick a few of those in her time...)

Sew it on;

Then trim the corner off (as before) fold back and iron. (yeah yeah, I didn't before taking the tell you the truth, I am sewing on the first floor and the iron is downstairs in the kitchen so I cheated.. but really ironing every step gets you better results)

Trim the block to size;

Do this on all 3 sides that overlap so you end up with the original white square and some neat points of the star.

Lay out the blocks into the original nine patch and separate into 3 rows;

Sew the top three, middle three and bottom three blocks into rows and iron. (Here the ironing is very important, as the top row has to be ironed in a different direction than the middle row, then the bottom row same as the top. e.g. top row all to the left, middle row all tot the right, bottom row all to the left again). The correct ironing should mean that you are able to connect up the three rows beautifully because the seams ironed to the right 'butt up' to the seams ironed to the left so you get perfect junctions. (the tutorial mentioned above from the Connecting Threads website, explains this much better than I can).

Once the three rows have been sewn together, your block is finished and you have a star!

How many do I make?

You may ask. Well... Lynne was talking about any size, square or other, up to about 80"sq. I have roughly drawn out the 80" one in squares of 10" and it so happens that if we all do about 20" Sq, we would end up with a quilt of rougly 50"x80"

That would be a good size, or if somebody would like to make a few more, we might make it square. You can never have too many as any overflow could be used on the back.

Using squares of 4 1/2" will make a star of 12 1/2"
Using squares of 3 1/2" will make a star of 9 1/2"
Using squares of 2 1/2" will make a star of 6 1/2"

Edit: I have now bought the book "Modern Blocks" that Cindy used and the stars in there have 3 sizes, 1 1/2, 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 square for each square of the nine patch. Those are then put together in a 3 star block ending up at 20". However, still happy to receive any size and I will make them fit! For copyright reasons I cannot post part of the book here (you will have to buy it :-) but it anyone is stuck (or wants to do Cindy's block), email me and I will talk you through any problems.

I would like you to make stars of different sizes (you don't have to keep yourself to the three above, they are just the most usual sizes, you can go smaller...), so that when put together in a block later, the surfaces of the stars together would approximately total 20"square. It doesn't matter which sizes you make, some would maybe like to make the bigger ones, others fancy more smaller ones, as long as we don't all only make big ones :-)

You may sew them into a block, but I am also happy for you to send the stars by themselves and I will arrange them in a nice arrangement, that might have the advantage that if some are more red and some more blue etc, I can spread the colours a bit but I am easy, what ever you like.

So when you have the hang of doing these, you will find that they come together quickly and easily and they are a great scrapbuster.

I first came across them when Tia (Campfollower Bags) was heading the effort for the Bushfire quilts (Flickr group here) in summer 2009. I did a combination quilt then with hearts and stars which Tia kindly sandwiched and quilted over in Austraia. You will find that one, and a LOT more star quilts all on the Flickr site, although these were mainly done in one size star. I did however think that the quilt in London with the different sizes came out really lovely so if possible, I would like to try something like that.

You all still with me? Phew....

Best of luck and I am looking forward to getting all the blocks! Thanks Teresa for letting me be the first bee mama. Can't wait to see what I get back! (There is also a post in the offing about another star quilt... she said mysteriously, -although my regular readers might remember what that is all about- but that is a story for another time!!)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

WOW.... this is so lovely !

Look what has landed in my postbox;

I never expected to win this lovely giveaway when I posted about it in just the previous post! So thank you so much Jo,and thank you Jacquie Small at Aurum Publishing group too (and Mr Random - love the guy, he finally came good :-)

The book (straight from the publisher) arrived first and it is an absolute gem! On the one hand, it is a comprehensive reference book, whichever embroidery stitch or whichever technique you want to know about, you can look it up, and the ins and outs are explained and illustrated into detail. On the other hand, it is full to the brim with absolutely beautiful pictures, so it's a 'go to' book and inspirational book too. All this and finished to the highest quality.
It is an asset to my craft book shelf and I will have a lot of pleasure using it for decades to come!

Equally lovely is Jo's own pattern of Boris and his chicken. You might have seen Boris on Jo's blog (Bearpaw and Bearpaw) or on her shop site (Avery Homestores) where she sell the most delish fabric as well as beautiful wool and yarn and really everything you would need. I love Jo's style and the design choices she makes, and if you do too, you will find what you need in both her real life and online shop.

Jo sent me not only the pattern, but also the fabric and Anchor embroidery thread so I can get started right away! An ideal little project to take with you for odd times, like waiting in the car at the schoolgates, or taking travelling, or indeed, just at home stitching away of an evening. Boris is adorable and I can't wait to start stitching and see his cheeky little face appear! Watch out for him on the blog in future!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Giveaway at Bearpaw and Bearpaw's !

Look what's up for grabs at Jo Avery's blog! A beautiful book on embroidery, in which she herself features several times as well. Yay for our talented Jo, and YAY for the chance to win this beautiful book.

And that is not all! She has also added her own beautiful embroidery pattern (as featured in the book) complete with floss, so you can start on it straight away if you win this!!

Click on the linke HERE, and you are rushing to the right spot.

Trust Jo to drag my blog out of semi retirement :-)

Way to go Jo ! xxx

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year !

(photo courtesy of Avon UK)

Just a short post to wish all my readers (if I have any left that is ;-) a very happy 2013.

I have been somewhat absent. From the blog, the blog world, hey, even from my own private life. Reason being problems and illness in the wider family that have taken up all my time and energy.

So here's to 2013. To health and happiness. To a return to 'normality'and hopefully reconnecting with friends.

Some people are in favour of resolutions, some are against. Truth is that New Year's day is one of those days where people take stock. What did we do last year? and the year before? How is it better now? or worse? and why? I suppose that New Year is as good a time as any. Look at the negatives (illness, no time for anyone) and try to improve where you can. And look at the positives.

On my positive side this year, I have been surprised and brought to tears by real friends who have supported me, listened where my story must surely have been boring them to tears, and who have kept in touch, even though they did not hear from me all year, sent mails, sent parcels and generally been absolute stars.

Talking about stars, even people who did not know me before have been so kind and thoughtful to send me stars for my starquilt, something which Cat, one of the brightest stars of all, has organised for me. I am grateful and humbled to find so many kind people are praying and sending positive thoughts to me and my family from all over the world.

We are not there yet, but we keep going, and as soon as I manage to come up for breath, I know I have people to write, stars to sew, and blogposts to compose, but in the meantime I want to say to everyone who reads this blog and knows me.

HAPPY NEW YEAR !!! and I hope 2013 will bring all you hoped for xxxxx