Sunday, 19 August 2012

Goodbyes and potential hellos - and lots of crafting

I went public at work  last Monday with my imminent departure so it's really going to happen now.  This coming week will be my last week. The news has brought me some really nice 'thank you's from people - some whom I knew were friends, others were a surprise. Nice to be told I will be missed. Although so many people are leaving now that I think there is a certain amount of 'leaving fatigue'.

And I had an interview for a new job which went very well and I am optimistic that they will offer it to me.  Very similar to what I have been doing, and similar salary, but much closer to my home so it should cut my commuting time by up to two hours.  More crafting time!  I mentioned that when they asked why I was prepared to make a sideways move, which resulted in two slightly baffled looks until I translated it into 'work speak' by saying it meant a better work/life balance for me.  Then they nodded in understanding.

To reward myself after the interview, I walked over to Hobbycraft (a job within walking distance of Hobbycraft!!) and had a mini-rampage.  They had this Sirdar Persia, a wool/acrylic boucle, on sale for £1.79 a ball and I loved the rich red.  Grabbed five balls thinking I will make a scarf or a cowl.  Got some new washable markers to try out as quilt markers, some wedding decorations which are meant to be tiny roses but are pretty much 1/12th scale miniature tulips for dollshousing, and a copy of Machine Knitting Monthly which I don't like but it's the only MK magazine still available in the UK.

Having scared myself a little last week when I got out all my knitting UFOs for the picture, I have been trying to finish some of them.

I finished my cabled beanie made from the hand-dyed Aran wool I bought on holiday in Orkney.  It fits quite well and I'm pleased with it, and the lovely colours of blues and greys remind me of our holiday.  I knit the large size with an extra repeat first, but that was too big so pulled back a few inches and reknit the crown.  Washing made the wool bloom but it still isn't very soft, but I don't mind that in a hat.  Wouldn't want it next to my neck but fine on my head.

I finished the front of my Eyelet jumper.  I was trying to knit on this while watching the Rhythmic Gymnastics during the Olympics, but it's one of those 'pat your head and rub your tummy' patterns where you have to follow a lace chart, decrease for the neck AND follow a stripe pattern.  So there was a certain amount of frogging until I achieved two matching shoulders. I've started the first of the 3/4 length sleeves now.

I'm almost finished my Garter Stitch shawl - I'm just doing a decorative crochet bind off (for which I hope I have enough yarn) and will likely finish it at Knitting Group this afternoon.

I finished my True North mittens in Berroco Blackstone Tweed - this is an unblocked picture but they are now blocked and currently drying in the living room.  I really like these and will enjoy wearing them next winter.  They've got cute little reindeer on each thumb to match the big reindeer on the body.

I've also been doing some sewing.

I made another drawstring bag using the online tutorial I've blogged before.  I made the contrast fabric deeper on this one, and used two sewing theme FQs.  These bags are like candy, so quick and satisfying to make.

I've made a start on a Texas Lone Star quilt in reproduction fabrics, using a kit I bought several years ago in America.  Having 'been there, done that' on the whole volcano centre bulge for a lone star, I am trying to be very accurate in my cutting, and started by starching the heck out of my fabrics to minimise stretching.

I finally stopped procrastinating and got all the pieces of my previous Freestyle quilting frame out of their storage places and photographed it and listed it for sale on Ebay.  It's been bought by another quilter and will be going to a new home later this morning.  I will need to set up my New Generation frame soon and start making a dent in my pile of quilt tops.

I finally sewed the binding onto my Flowering Vines quilt that I quilted on the New Generation frame a year ago, so it is now done apart from a label.  I will be keeping this one, it took me years to make and I really like it.  It's a Piece o' Cake applique pattern and I used a fabric kit I ordered from America apart from the pink squares which were my modification. So bright and cheerful.

I carry a knapsack instead of a handbag to save my back, and I now have a new red bag.  After years of looking for the perfect knapsack that had all the right kind of pockets, I belatedly realised about three knapsacks ago that I had a sewing machine and could make my own pockets - duh.  So now I always sew customised linings in pretty fabric that have zippered pockets where I need them and key chain holders etc.  For this red bag I made a spotty lining.

Yesterday I cashed in one of my Christmas vouchers from DH ("I promised to take Sharon on a trip out of her choice") and asked him to drive me up to the Festival of Quilts at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, which is about a two-hour easy drive for us.  This is our largest UK quilt show and possibly the largest in Europe now.  I hadn't been for several years because when it first launched I didn't like it at all, it was about 75% textile art and there were some organisational issues and I heard of problems with quilts being treated badly etc.  I decided to give it another chance and was blown away by how huge it now is.  It was across Halls 7,8 and 9 of the NEC and must now be comparable to some of the American state shows. It was actually too big to see everything in one day, and I was shattered by the end from trying.

The aisles were generally spacious, the signage was good, there were information booths outside the show, generally all very professional now.  There was a much better balance of traditional and modern quilts vs. textile art, and all sorts of products that I didn't realise had come to the UK such as Juki sewing machines (big stand) and Horn Sewing Cabinets (big stand).  There were even several long arm companies which used to be quite rare here in the UK with our small houses:  APQS, Innova and even a new UK-made long arm machine (which looked a bit clunky) - so someone must be buying them.  It made me realise how out of touch I am now with the UK quilting scene, because for the last few years I have really been a knitter and not a quilter. The quilts still aren't getting treated as well as they deserve - when I walked in, I turned to the left to start going through the Traditional Quilts.  Ahead of me a younger woman probably in her 30s was picking up every quilt in her bare hands to look at the back and no-one was stopping her.  Several other people were tapping quilts as they pointed at them, or brushing past the quilts lining the main corridor which had no barriers or protection.  I was about to say something to the young woman when I realised that I could not see any signs anywhere to tell people not to touch the quilts.  Also didn't see any white-gloved stewards until I had been there about 20 minutes and done several aisles.  Some aisles did have a small 'don't touch' sign but as it was in the form of a small quilt, it almost looked like an exhibit and wasn't very high profile.  In the whole four hours I was looking around the show, I think I only saw about five white-glove stewards.  Some exhibits that were being run by other organisations, such as the Olympics gift quilt display, were much better done with 'Don't touch' signs every few quilts and someone looking after them. I know that people should know better about touching, but they obviously don't.  Also saw an absolutely gorgeous three-dimensional travelogue quilt (see below) where the maker had carefully inserted rolls of torn paper underneath some of the 3-D elements to keep them from getting crushed in packing - and the organisers had left all the paper just sticking out!!  One more moan and then I will stop ranting:  they tried to force you to buy the programme by not indicating any information on the quilts apart from the name of the quilt - not even the name of the maker.

Anyway, when I wasn't being irritated by some of the above issues, I did enjoy seeing so much on offer and some very nice quilts.  As usual with a non-juried show, there was quite a mix of quality, and interspersed with the 'public' quilts were the self-contained exhibitions from various quilt artists or groups, some of which were really to my taste.  Here are a few photos from the show, and apologies that I can't attribute them to the makers due to the organisers not providing that information with the quilts.
Kaleidoscope quilt - I think this may be a Kaffe Fassett design.
A visual record of a trip around the Middle East, with exquisite inked detail in the style of a Victorian journal, and 3-D embellishments such as scarabs and little mummies in calico coffins (note the torn paper packing material just left there by the organisers!)

A group quilt from Colmar in France, each section done in a different style such as tapestry and even knitting.
A lovely tablecloth of scraps of different eyelet fabrics really sets off this tea party scene.
Adorable miniature quilt with real seashells sewn to the border.

There was a programme of workshops, make and takes and lectures.  I booked two of the lectures:  Marti Michell on curved seaming, which was her usual extended sales pitch for her ruler and template sets but I like her and enjoyed seeing some of her quilts - I've been to things with her before. In the afternoon I went to a presentation by Jonathan Gregory who is an Assistant Curator at the International Quilt Study Centre and Museum in Nebraska.  He told us about the incredible facility they have there and talked about some of the quilts they have collected.

I didn't actually buy that much, although it grew heavy by the end of the day:  sewing machine needles, a new seam ripper (broke the old one), fusible interfacing, 60" wide calico backing in cream and in white, two Sally Holman booklets of seaside scene patterns, two cotton scarves to wear to work, and four rolls of Polydown wadding.  There were several knitting stands in the shopping area, and while I fondled I didn't buy.

Nice to have a day out - I shall probably go again.  Perhaps I need those blinkers like horses used to wear in the old days, so I can only see straight ahead and won't become enraged by people to the sides of me who are touching quilts or blocking aisles with ridiculously huge trundles on wheels (don't get me started...)


Daisy said...

It sounds like a cool day out.

Linda W said...

I wish you the best and hope you get the position that is closer to home. Also, I absolutely love your Flowering Vines quilt--it's gorgeous!

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