28 September 2014

Stonefields - The more you look, the more you see...

I mentioned in my previous post that I was lucky enough to see, and have Susan's permission to take lots of photos of the original Stonefields quilt.

The photos don't do it justice, the quilt is stunning in real life! on first glance it has a lovely muted pink and blue feel, I recognised quite a few French General fabrics, the background is a very pale cream the colour of milk; but once you look closer you can see that the reason this quilt sparkles and glows, is that amongst the muted palette there are exciting touches of pea green, pale yellow, dark brown, grey and black, and even a tiny bit of orange.

The other thing that you notice on close inspection, is that not every circle is perfectly round and not every point perfect! Susan does not unpick and correct anything, she asked us the question "Why do you quilt?" It made me stop and consider my answer,  if you are entering shows and hoping to win first prize at Houston then things are a bit different, but I don't enter shows or competitions. I quilt because I love buying fabrics! I find the stitching relaxing, my quilts are given away, used and loved. I think one of the reasons I have been in a quilting slump lately, is that I have forgotten the basic fact, I quilt because it's fun!
Susan has used lots and lots of different fabrics, 200-300 at a guess and this is what makes her quilts so beautiful.

I came home energised and inspired, I raided my stash and pulled some fabrics that I would like to mix in with the BOM selections, I also like the idea of using a few different backgrounds.

I will also rummage in my overflowing scrap basket for tiny bits
I did zero sewing on Friday! I had a fantastic day, met some lovely people, and came back with a new enthusiasm for quilts and quilting. Thank you Susan for being such an inspiration!
I will leave you with a couple more photos of Stonefields because I can!

EDITED: Sorry! I forgot to mention, the event on Friday and the fabulous lunch! was organised by Karen and her husband of The Running Chicken' they are also running the Stonefields BOM, you can find all the details on their website HERE

26 September 2014

What a wonderful day!

Today I was part of a fabulous group of ladies attending a masterclass with Susan Smith in a wonderful converted barn
Susan had brought along three of her wonderful quilts for us to look at, I was lucky enough to see and take lots of photos of the original 'Stonefields' quilt (which deserves it's own post!) as well as the 'Prince' quilt we were to work on today.
One of the most striking things about Susan's quilts is her fabric choices and colour sense. I spent a large part of today studying the quilts and talking to Susan. I love the way she layers fabrics and fussy cuts cute details

I knew the fabrics I had originally pulled for this quilt were going to be different, which I was fine about, but I also knew they were not as exciting as Susan's
Susan came round each of us individually to offer advice and I quickly realised that the reason I don't think these are right, is that while each fabric is lovely on it's own, together they are BORING (my word not her's!!) I had made the classic mistake of starting with a matching fabric range (Fat 1/8th bundle and then adding others in the same colours) Susan suggested picking out just the colours I really liked from the stack...
and then adding some blues but also a few more lights, I thought that as my background was pale I didn't need light fabrics, but look what a difference it makes!
I am really happy with these colours and looking forward to making 'Prince' with them, I will wait a while as I wish to work on 'Stonefields' first, after seeing the original quilt I have a whole new idea about how I want to stitch my version...

25 September 2014

The Mellerstain Firescreen

When we first saw our current cottage 3 1/2 years ago, I was thrilled that it had a real fire in the living room. I had seen photos of the Mellerstain Firescreen in various magazines and knew that I wanted to stitch it for our cottage. I ordered the kit and when it arrived I panicked at the size and scale of the embroidery! I only knew how to stitch a few basic stitches at that point.
Fast forward 3 years, one 2 day RSN course, and several terms of the wonderful embroidery course taught by Sophie and I feel ready to tackle this monster! I was really pleased with my Robin crewelwork piece and feel confident that I can stitch this one!

Sophie has assured me that I am more than ready, and kindly said that my silk shading was neater than the sample piece :) There is nothing like a confidence boost from a respected teacher to get you motivated, so yesterday I took the plunge
These are the oak leaves in the top left corner, a mixture of padded satin stitch, french knots and silk shading; as you can see I have a long way to go!

 No time for stitching today as I am busy getting ready for the masterclass with Susan Smith tomorrow, I have way too much fabric etc packed as I don't really know what we will need. I am really looking forward to it.

19 September 2014

This week I have been stalking the Postie!

I have been waiting (not very patiently!) for the postman to arrive each day this week as I was expecting a couple of lovely packages :)

I am enjoying knitting my scarf with the luscious pashmina yarn; progress is slow as I only knit when my hands are too sore to appliqué! I see knitting more as an exercise class than a hobby!
Anxious not to run out of projects (!) I ordered this fun kit from Kate Davies Designs it is a really lovely design to knit a fair isle sweater for a mini hot water bottle! The kit includes the bottle, pattern and the yarn, Kate also includes a lovely canvas project bag too - you can find the kit HERE
 I was also anxiously waiting the first instalment of the Stonefields BOM from The Running Chicken
It arrived beautifully packaged in a box with Karen's wonderful instructions, fabrics, templates etc
I love the fabrics Karen has chosen, but as usual I want to do my own thing a little, I hate having a quilt that looks exactly like everyone else's!! so I have swapped out a couple of the fabrics. I have stitched eight blocks - they still need pressing and trimming.
I have also prepped a few more, it was fun fussy cutting some of the posy flowers and leaves.
No chance of being bored!

13 September 2014

I can't get enough of Sunflowers or Susan Smith!

The Sunflowers are still looking wonderful, we walked across the river this afternoon, so we could see the view of our cottage from the other side.
The sunflowers still make me smile every time I look at them...
I am also enjoying appliquéing them on my version of Susan' Smith's quilt Queen Daisy.

I decided to try and find some more yellows to use in the rest of the quilt, and so I logged onto one of my favourite online shops 'the running chicken' well I didn't make it to the fabric section! because you will never guess what I found on the home page!! Not only is Karen offering Susan's wonderful Stonefields quilt as a BOM (yes I did sign up for it!)
Even better - Susan is offering a one day Masterclass on her new pattern 'Prince' which is a wonderful lap quilt filled with hexagons and circles. The class is about a 50 min drive for me so I signed up straight away, I can't wait!
Have a look at the pictures Karen has posted here (I didn't want to share without permission)

The class is in two weeks but I have my fabrics pressed and good to go :)

08 September 2014

Sunflowers make me Smile!

I adore Sunflowers, they are such cheerful happy flowers. My husband has grown some at the bottom of our garden for the first time this year. These are 'Russian Giant' and some are 3 meters (9 feet) tall!
They must really like the fertile soil left from the floods; this one is the size of a dinner plate!

I had the urge to start an appliqué quilt, so I dug out this pattern I had pulled from an old issue of Quilters Companion. It is 'Queen Daisy' by Susan Smith
Susan was inspired by this photograph of an antique British coverlet
I changed the pattern a little so that my flowers look more like sunflowers than daisies
I can't decide on the fabric for the basket, but think I prefer this one, looking at the photos, I also think that the pale pomegranate is a little too wishy washy, I might have to change it too!
The pieces are basted on ready to stitch, I will embroider all the stems and some other details once I have finished the appliqué.
I think it is about time I worked on my hand pieced Russian Sunflowers project too, it has been hibernating since Nov 2012.
You can never have too many sunflowers right?

05 September 2014

More Knitting!

I have finished knitting the Dove Cowl and I am really happy with how it turned out.
The Madelinetosh yarn was wonderful to work with, so much so, that I splurged and bought two skeins of their Pashmina yarn - a luxurious blend of merino, silk and cashmere. I plan to knit a scarf to go with my new winter coat. The colour is 'Sugar Plum' it is difficult to photograph but is a lovely antique mauve.

01 September 2014

Dove Cowl

When I was a child my grandmother taught me to knit, in fact I don't remember learning it's just something we all did. My mum and aunt knitted and so did both my grandmothers, my maternal grandmother in particular knitted the most beautiful aran sweaters, whilst chatting or watching TV and seemingly never looking at her work; she was also brilliant at fixing my mistakes, ripping back and knitting back up again for me. I knitted through my childhood and teens, but stopped at some point in the early nineties. I have dabbled a little since then, but seeing all the wonderful yarns that are now available I really want to start again! I have arthritis in my fingers and I was told that knitting  with wooden needles was really good exercise for them. This has proved to be true and working with natural wool leaves your skin beautifully soft!

The problem was - what to knit? Then I saw the Inky Cowl knitted by Karen over at Cornflower HERE
The pattern is free and available on Ravelry it uses Madelinetosh yarn. I bought a skein of Tosh Sock in colour 'Mourning Dove' it is a beautiful hand dyed steely blue/grey merino wool.

I think you can see the colour better here
It came on a hank so I had to wind it into a ball - a very therapeutic exercise!
Once I got the hang of circular needles it was no problem, the pattern is a simple four row repeat
and produces a lovely waffle like honeycomb pattern
I am more than halfway so I am busy planning what to make next!