Sunday, 1 November 2015

Malvern quilt show

Last weekend I joined a coach trip to the Malvern Autumn Quilt Festival with a  quilt group from the local area (I'm too far away to be a member) . I hadn't been to a bigger quilt show for quite a long time, and it felt a bit like visiting a country I used to know well in long ago days.

It was smaller than the last time I went some years ago, but I think partly that was because it was the Autumn show so they didn't have the marquee extension that I remember from the spring show. It was also very crowded together, with narrow aisles. But there was a good assortment of vendors and several exhibitions of quilts (no competition at this show) to look at. I enjoyed wandering around and looking at the latest trends in fabric - I was pleased to see a lot more traditional and repro fabric, and less of the 'modern quilt movement' 70s revival trend. I had a go on the Janome stand on the Horizon MC8900QCP, which apparently is the modern successor to my old Janome 6500P.  It seemed fairly similar, with the main difference being an 11" throat compared to 9" on my old one, and more decorative stitches which I rarely use anyway, a free arm, and the ability to stitch 9mm wide stitches (a lot wider than mine).  I'm not sure any of those new features are worth £1,199 to me (the show price, reduced from £1,499).  My machine still seems to be working fine especially since its service, and in any case we don't have the money.

I picked up a few more reels of piecing thread, some Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 wadding, some FQs of Civil War repros to make a cushion cover for our window seat, and a cute pattern for a tea cosy. The latter from a stand that had several patterns for appliqued houses embellished with free motion drawn-on architectural elements which I quite liked.

All in all it was a pleasant trip. I was a bit worried that I wouldn't enjoy it after being out of the quilting world for so long, but in fact it was inspiring and made me want to do more sewing.

I sat down the next night and designed a cushion cover using EQ6 which I am going to try to piece. It's 18.5" square and the blocks are 5.5" square. These are only representations of my fabric, not the actual fabrics - the actual fabrics have less contrast and are more subdued (shame because I like this drawing!)

Also on the quilting front this week, I dug out the Christmas table runner I made last winter and quilted it with stitch in the ditch, and free motion around the bows and ribbons. I used a decorative stitch around the inside border. I felt quite rusty as I haven't quilted anything for a long time, but it was fun.

I also did a bit more stitching on my current hand applique block.


On the knitting front, I did a bit more on my Latvian Mitten and I've finally started the Now in a Minute Shawl that I wound off the stash sock yarn gradients several weeks ago for. I found the shawl directions somewhat confusing and as a result mine doesn't look like the picture at the start of it.  I decided not to rip out and just call it a design feature.  I also tried on the Rowan Summer Tweed cardigan by pinning the shoulders together on the body - it looks like it should fit fine, perhaps a bit snug but then I knit the smaller size because I know Summer Tweed grows a fair bit in wear.  I still need to knit the sleeves.

We went to Oxford this weekend to see DS and I visited the excellent Oxford Yarn Store which is full of lovely yarn. I averted my eyes and just bought what I had come for, which is the Regia self-patterning sock yarn by Arne & Carlos. I've been seeing it in magazines and always like it, so I bought the pink colourway and also fell for a pumpkin orange medley.  We were going on a pub crawl that evening and I realised I needed some knitting, so I bought some dpns and started a vanilla sock as we went around Oxford's pubs.

I was wearing my knitted Halloween witch's hat from pub to pub, it kept my head warm as I knit it from wool. We had a good time although DH's ambitious target to make the rounds of 15 chosen hostelries was not achieved, we petered out after pub number eleven.  But we saw lots of students dressed up in cool costumes (sometimes literally as girls wearing very little walked shivering down the street in the cold evening temperatures).  DS joined us for pubs five and six and it was nice to see him.

We stayed in St Hugh's college as they let rooms to tourists, which includes a full English breakfast in the dining hall the next morning. So it felt like a very collegiate weekend.  The next morning dawned very foggy, and we went for an atmospheric walk all around the University Parks, and then as usual in Oxford stumbled across a hidden treasure. This time it was the Holywell cemetary, which was so beautiful as the sun started to burn off the mist.  Kenneth Grahame who wrote 'Wind in the Willows' is buried here - his grave is the long low one at left in the foreground.

On the way back to the car, we stopped in for elevenses to the new Weston Library, finally open after being hidden behind hoardings for all the years we've been coming to Oxford. It has a great cafe run by Benugo, with delicious cake, and an interesting exhibit case on Ada Lovelace, and an exhibition on some Armenian manuscript treasures.


This week, as well as repairing some snapped off gingerbread trim from my miniature conservatory, I had fun tarting up a £2.50 laser-cut Christmas ornament from Homebase.  This is what it looked like to start with.

The first thing I did was to cut out the back, by drilling holes in the corners and using a saw blade in my X-acto handle.

Then I gave it a base coat of acrylic paints. When dried, I sprayed it with matt sealer.

Before I sprayed the sealer on, I added 'snow' created by mixing glitter glue with some white paint.  I did visit the railway shop to look at snow effects, but the smallest container they had was enormous and cost £13, so that's why I used paint.  I also found a little snowman in my stash Christmas collection of bits and pieces.

On the inside, I added a Christmassy paper rug, and hot-glued in some bits I had in my stash: a resin tree, some wrapped gifts, a little wreath charm, and a cute little china chair.

It was quite fun to do, and now it's all ready to hang on the Christmas tree in another month or so.

It was a lot easier to work on this project because I spent a few hours first emptying out my craft cupboard, which had become a dumping ground the past year as we renovated our house.  I did a big clear out, organised all the tools and materials, and put it all back neatly in labelled containers.  This clever cupboard is an old kitchen larder cupboard that I bought at an antiques fair about 12 years ago - at the old house it was in a bedroom closet and held a lot of sewing stuff as well.

Other stuff

My Netflix infatuation continues, and consequently I have almost reached the halfway point on my cross stitch.  From a distance it is really cute! Close up I have a lot of malformed crosses but at least the counting is much more accurate with the new gridding thread applied.

On the way back from Oxford, I spotted a sign for a new antiques store and we popped in (well, I popped in while DH slumped exhausted in the car after his night of Oxford revelry).  I've been wanting a more interesting mirror for the ensuite and I found this at a good price.  It's rather caked in paint but I'm hoping I might be able to remove that.  I'm not sure yet whether it is wood underneath the paint or gesso/papier mache.

As I mentioned in last week's post, this week I paid a visit to the Luton Museum. It'sin an old Victorian mansion in the middle of  handsome Wardown Park, which I assume used to be the grounds for the house. The lace on display is in the Costume and Textile gallery which is the first room as you enter the museum.  There were a lot of displays explaining lacemaking to the layperson, examples of lace in use, and pull out drawers of bobbins and some lace. There was also a learning corner with lots of lace books and magazines, and some videos to watch.  I enjoyed the visit but it didn't take very long. I also bought some prickings in the gift shop and a copy of The Lace Dealer's Pattern Book, a wonderful archive of hundreds of old Beds and Bucks bobbin laces, a real treasure trove.  It doesn't include patterns but some modern authors have used the laces as source material and give prickings in their own books. The variety is amazing, as is the fineness of many of the older laces, very inspirational.

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