Wednesday 30 September 2015


I'm still working on the denim, which after all the comments about my red circles looking like the moon earlier in the week, is going to be called Eclipse, I think.  I've been stitching on the extra bits, which has taken ages, as I've resorted to doing it mostly by hand now, rather than with the machine.

I took this photo first.  Usually I wouldn't keep anything with so many shadows but it is the last day of September and the sun is shining, so I kept it.

I'm not intending to make it any bigger, but at the moment think I might keep the uneven edges (though maybe I'll take a bit off the top left hand piece).  It will make it harder to back and bind - not sure how I'll do any of that anyway - but I like how it looks.

So now back to stitching - I've got some patches to add, holes to mend, and a pocket to sew on somewhere.  

Tuesday 29 September 2015

AHIQ - share your improv

My attention is being drawn in lots of competing directions again - I'm not sure how I keep ending up with so many (for me) different projects on the go at once.  In some ways it keeps things interesting but it also makes me feel sometimes that I am not making progress on anything.  This week it has been my piece with the little squares that has been short of attention.  I have sewn on the grey borders but haven't decided what, if anything, happens next. Maybe it stops here.  It could be my first mini (but I'd have to assign it a use - maybe giant hankie?) or my first UFO,  but I have a kind of notion to keep going and see where it leads.

Monday 28 September 2015

Distracted by the denim

Today I had planned to start work on my next quilt, but I've been sidetracked.  I went looking for something over the weekend and had to shift the bag with all my denim in.  It looked like this:

So I have been sorting it out, and getting a bit more work done on the denim piece at the same time.  I've just been laying it out on the floor, not sewing (didn't want to distract myself from the job in hand). 

I liked it a lot at this point - and nearly stopped there, but the same old need for it to be functional kicked in so I kept going.

I've ended up with this, which is nearly big enough (it's be about 55" square).

and this - a lovely tidy bag, and considerably less full than when I started.  A good morning all round.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Keeping the rhythm

More pictures of the denim - sorry if it starts to look a bit same-y, week after week.  I have added bits of stitching here and there around the edges.  Previously I have worked more methodically, completing a whole section at a time  but this week my mind seems to have jumped all over the place, so my stitching has been more random too.  I think that it's because I am feeling my way a bit more now, trying to work out where I want to leave empty space, where I want to add patches, concentrating on keeping the rhythm right.

Friday 25 September 2015

Shining a light on the quiet colours

I'm going to try and make a start with my group of fairly neutral fabrics, or at least I am heading slowly in that direction.  I have in my head that I would like to use this photo as a starting point.

Of course it's unlikely that what I end up with will bear much relation to these, but I liked it when I took it and it's been hovering around the edges of my mind for a while now, so let's see where this takes me.  

Tuesday 22 September 2015

AHIQ - square play

Since I have challenged other people to have a play, I thought I would try it too, so here's a quick gallop through what I've been up to.  I wanted to stick with squares, since they've been a bit of a theme for me in the last couple of projects, but decided to go small, mostly because there were lots of little bits sitting on the table anyway. Sometimes it pays to be a messy worker!

I started off cutting some squares, about 1.5 inches in size (you can always take it as read with me that they were squarish rather than precise and that the measurement was taken retrospectively) and sewing them into strips.  After a bit I got twitchy doing the same thing over and over, so the squares got a bit bigger and every so often I added a tiny insert.  

After a bit I had a load of little strings, like these:

I tried out various backgrounds

but ended up stitching them together into bigger pieces

then looking at some other possibilities.

I liked the pink, but went with the grey, but rotated so that the pattern ran horizontally.

Then I just threw caution to the wind (that's the beauty of play) and did some slicing and dicing:

And now it's sitting on the grey again, which I like.

This may go no further, but it's good clean fun and keeps me off the streets. 

Don't forget, this time next week is the first AHIQ linky party - you can post any thing improv; it doesn't have to be linked to the 'why don't you try this?' posts. I'm really excited to see what people have been up to.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Balancing things out a bit

I haven't made much progress on the denim in the last few days, but like the rhythm that posting on Slow Sunday Stitching provides, so here's my little bit.  

Looking at the last photo I took I realised that all the extra denim patches were congregating in the middle of the piece, but that I had pretty much stopped adding them: recently it's all been little cotton scraps and circles, so to balance it out a bit I have added two patches: one a pocket and the other just a scrap of dark denim. I have also deliberately looked for contrast in the shades of denim, just because it pleases my eye.

This pocket patch in particular really pleases me.

More embroidery next, I think.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Saturday photos #40

40 photo posts - how did that happen?  I'm thinking of changing this a bit some time soon, before the ideas run dry, but in the meantime here's today's.  When we were young my mum used to quote poetry all the time and this week Keat's Ode to Autumn has been popping into my head: "seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness", so that's what I've gone with here, though not so much of the mist.

On a related note, about a year ago I was considering buying a camera but decided I would push my current one (relatively simple point and shoot, small, easy to carry and a beautiful shade of bright blue) to its limits first, to be sure any purchase made sense.  As the light changes I am revisiting this idea, as the little camera really can't deal with low light, or the light you get low in the sky at this time of year.  I'd be interested to know if anyone has any recommendations.

Friday 18 September 2015

Considering my options

I've been playing around with fabric, trying to decide what I want to do next. At the moment I've pinned up two completely different sets to see if anything sparks my interest.  The first lot is based on two or three half yards of different yellows.  I'm not sure why but I have a niggling idea that I might like to make a yellow quilt.

My selection started like this:

Then I added in some other bits.

 I like all these fabrics and I like the idea of a yellow quilt, but it's not happening for me here.  Back to the drawing board on this one I guess.

In the meantime what about this lot?

The two fabrics on the top left (the stripe and the white and grey floral) appeared next to each other as I scrolled through the black and white section of an online fabric store.  Something about the juxtapostion of the very modern graphic lines and the old-fashioned print appealed to me, so I bought them both.  Maybe it's their turn now.  Or maybe I'll mull it over and do something completely different.  The jury is out at the moment but option 2 is definitely calling my name more than option 1.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Winter is coming

While I figure out what I am going to do next I'm doing boring stuff like quilt backs, thinking about binding (not actually making any, mind you), tidying up.  Today I thought I'd make my denim piece a bit bigger, since I've decided I want to be able to snuggle up under it.  They're predicting a long, cold winter so I want to be ready.  Wait, who I am trying to kid?  I am never ready for long, cold winter, but at least I might be able to hide under a big pile of quilts in the evening and pretend it's not happening outside my window.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

AHIQ - Inspiration

I was asked to include some sources of inspiration along the other improv posts, so this is the first of what may be a series of posts.

I've included quilts (some I guess you may have seen before, others hopefully not) that might give ideas for working with a single shape and also some photos that I think might provide starting points.  I'm happy to receive feedback on the balance or any other ideas on what might make this sort of post useful.  I have recently used pinterest to keep inspiration photos, and you can find my boards here, but I haven't used anything from them as I know the issue of copyright can be a thorny one.

Without further ado then...
Kristin Shields The Power of Three

Debbie Schulze, Midnight Run,

Melody Johnson Dancing Diamonds II,

Sarah Nishiura Untitled #4, 

Odette Tolksdorf Strange Days no. 1,

Sarah Nishiura Untitled #6 

Thank you to all the quilters who generously agreed to let me share their work. If you click on the quilt images, this should get you to the right place on the maker's website, but I have included home page addresses underneath too - if you don't know their work already (or even if you do) go and check out some wonderful quilts and be inspired!

Monday 14 September 2015

Finished for now

I'm done, for now at least.  Walls is joining my quilting pile.  

So now a couple of days, at least, trying to make headway with my current handquilting project.  I don't know what I'm going to do next with my piecing. I might carry on with wall-based stuff: there were several points when this could have gone different directions and maybe there's something interesting there. Alternatively I might do something completely different.  Not sure yet; right now I'm just happy this one is done.

Linking up as usual with Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday.

Sunday 13 September 2015

New needle, new thread

Until very recently I had been limited in my choice of threads for the denim by the size of my needle's eye: I was just using the largest embroidery needle I had in my box.  Then I sort out a bigger needle with a much bigger eye - which is to say I looked in a packet that was sitting on top of the bookshelf. Now I can use all sorts of new stuff: lovely shiny rayon threads, great big lumpy ones (that's a technical term for those of you not up on these things), and that in turn has slightly expanded my colour range.  Just when I thought this couldn't be any more fun that it already was...

So I am still stitching, but am also starting to think about the two large dark sides - do I want to do this on the other sides too?  Will I keep stitching pretty much as I am already or will I change it?  I know there is a hole that needs sorting but apart from that nothing is decided yet.

The thing I have decided is that I will make this big enough to use.  I am really enjoying sitting under it as I sew and it is already quite heavy and warm.  I'm not sure it would need wadding, but maybe something nice and soft on the back.

Saturday 12 September 2015

Saturday photos #39

No special theme this week, I just went for a wander and snapped some bits that caught my eye.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Fitting things together

I am slowly but steadily heading for the finishing stages of this now.  I always find the last bit harder than the first stages; maybe that's because I start by happily making lots of separate bits but now I have to fit them together.  I have a few blocks and will make a few more, but this time with a bit of an eye to size instead of just doing what I feel like.   Right now I'm working on the bottom right hand corner, then I just need a slim piece to run down that side and I'll have got to my 60" square.  

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Why don't you try this?

Welcome to the first of the AHIQ 'why don't you try this' posts.  The aim of these posts is to offer anyone new to improv the chance to explore different ways of starting and hopefully also to provide some new challenges and ideas to people already happily working improvisationally. (There are definitely going to be some areas that I will be tackling for the first time too.)

My challenge to you this month is to take a shape, any simple shape, and see where it leads you.  

I thought to kick off I'd use the piece I've been working on recently as an example of the sort of choices you might make. This started in my head with two ideas: firstly it had to be based on squares and secondly I had an idea to work with a traditional 9 patch arrangement. Maybe something like this:

One square - then what else?  Use two fabrics and you get this.

You can see I was laying them out in as 9 patches. Then I rotated some by 90 degrees...

then decided to make some bigger and some smaller...

I still like how it looks at this stage, and have it in my head that I may revisit this, but ended up adding a border to each square - including the little strip in most.
Still the 9 patch format and you can see that to start with I using the borders to bring every piece out at the same size.  But it felt a bit static, so I started mixing up the sizes, which let me to using little strips to fill in the gaps.  

This was one solution, but as always there would have been others (like using filler strips or being more deliberate in the sizes I made things so that they would fit into rows or columns, or using an additional fabric - one that stood out more...)

The stage I am at now is interesting as shortage of fabric has led me to piece the outer borders out of even the tiniest scraps, but this has unexpected benefits, the principal one for me being that it allows me to break down the clear lines between individual units like this...

What I'm trying to illustrate is that at every stage of a project you can say 'this is fine, I'll stick with this' but that sometimes more interesting things happen if you think 'what can I change, what can I try now?'  If you try something and don't like it, go back to where you were, if you feel it's working, keep going forwards.   

(For a completely different take on a quilt based on squares, hop over to Ann's blog and take a look at her latest work.)

So go and play, pick a shape, start cutting, see where it gets you. Start with one colour, or two, or more, make them from crumbs, from strips, slice into them or leave them whole, border them, float them in space, arrange them in orderly lines, offset them, mix them up randomly.  Ask yourself  'what if', follow your instincts and have fun.  

I'll post again next Tuesday, this time sharing some playing along these lines that I have been doing specifically for AHIQ.

Monday 7 September 2015

Wall's growing again

Now that I've got my extra fabric I am keen to get moving on the wall again, so have been working hard, both on making some extra stones and on getting the next chunk pieced.  I lost a bit of time when I was winding bobbins and my spool pin suddenly flew off the machine and disappeared.  It took me half the afternoon of sorting through the mess on my table to find it and then it wasn't in the fabric piles at all but on the floor, neatly wedged against the table leg and almost invisible.

Right now it's looking like this. It's still in 3 big chunks so when I finally sew them together I anticipate both the gold strips and the horizontal strips in the middle ending up thinner than they are at the moment.

Linking up again with Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday.

Sunday 6 September 2015

Patches, circles, stitches

First of all I thought I'd give you an update on my knee patched jeans, which I repaired in June.  You can see the original repair here if you missed it.  This is what they look like now.

This is my favourite pair of jeans and it has not been a great summer so I've been wearing them more than I would like.  They have survived a week scrambling around rocks in Cornwall and a lot of gardening, not to mention the usual day-to-day crawling around on the floor.  I am very happy with how this is looking.  Normally I would have expected the hole to tear so that it went right across the knee but it is still tiny and the stitches are not really showing any signs of wear and tear.  I will definitely be doing this again!

On to the current denim piece.  Now that I've decided this is just for play I've been having some fun.  This week I've done some more running stitch/cross stitch sections, added some more patches and have just started playing around with other types of stitching.

And happy mail from Lara arrived and look what she sent:

All I needed was the dark blue grunge but she filled the whole envelope with goodies.  I had such fun opening this parcel.  Thank you, Lara: here's to blogging friendships.