I have kind of over committed myself to do on line courses.  I signed up a few months ago and now they have all come at once.  So what am I doing?

  • Duolingo - Italian  This one is going to keep going for years I fear.  I am so slow at remembering, but I can now pick out words in conversation.  I have committed to about 30 minutes each day, although I do more than that.  I see that they are also introducing bots. Only in French at the moment, hope they hurry up with the Italian one.
  • The other courses are all at Future Learn.
  • Italian No 1 & 2.  I am using these to support the Duolingo course.  They just give me that extra practice.
  • Radical Spirituality - This is about the beginnings of the Quaker movement and it is the last week, but I will continue looking at the life of Margaret Fell.  I enjoyed this course.  It was history based and having been a History teacher it appealed to me.
  • The Power of Colour - Great for understanding colour and it's uses.  I hope it leads to lots of practical applications.  As of yet there is nothing new but I'm hoping it will give me more understanding.
  • Designing the Future -  This is some professional development to improve my design process.  It is rather academic in it's approach but so different that it could be good.
  • Digital Marketing -  I have been considering developing a business around the embroidery kits I design but need to research how this can be done.  This is the start of that research.  I have a feeling that this one is going to be very good.

When I look at that list it isn't too bad.  It comes down to 5 units of a University course and I don't have to sit in on lectures.  Any library research will be because I am really interested and best of all, no exams or assignments.  But, if I'm doing this I'm not sewing.

Just sitting

I managed to get all the way through winter and now that spring is here I have caught a flu virus.  I spent weeks looking after the grandchildren and my husband with this wog.     I had a protective injection earlier in the year and thought I was very clever not to catch it, then at the Children's Classes, it got me.

Added to this, the weather changed and those beautiful summery days were replaced by strong winds.  Firstly from the North and that blew all the sand-flys and mosquitoes out of the mangroves and I think most of them bit me.  They make me quite ill. 

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Then the wind changed to the south west and this time it was cold.  Walking to and from the ferry or traveling on the barge had me out it that weather and that really got the virus going.  It also blew in drifts of jelly fish.  They washed up on the beach and were a dense carpet in the shallow water.  They were bight blue on the sand but it the water they were iridescent.  Poor things.

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A tale of 3 little fabric bowls

My friends have given me little fabric bowls as gifts over the years.  Two in particular I find just doesn't work but they were given to me by a friend that has passed on and I like to look at them and think of her.  But that still doesn't make them work! 

The problem is that I use these to put the ends of threads in and the opening is too small.

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I keep looking at them on my desk and try to think how I can fix them.  The sides have been machine stitched, so I have tried undoing this  a bit, but that opening is still too small.  So today I completely undid the sides of one, folded down the flaps further and re stitched the sides by hand.

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It works a lot better.  But is still not as good as the one that I made as gifts for my friends a few years ago.

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Luckily I put up the pattern in April 2009 as a free download,  so I was able to get it down and make another one using some scraps I had left over.  I tried to dress it up a bit by beading the edges.  I was just going to do the corners but got carried away.  Then I thought it could use some buttons, so I made some.

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The pattern for this can be found on Mary Hickmott's blog.  It is a fair way back and is titled "Yorkshire Buttons".  She has included templates is several sizes, from small, like mine, to large.  She said you shouldn't start with the small size, but I don't listen very well.  I also made mine out of 3 strands of DMC cotton, which is a bit challenging, but I'm please with the result.  I have now put those other thread bowls on tables I don't use as much. Then I looked at them again and have had a better idea, wool bowls!

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Now I originally made my thread bowls back in 2009, 7 years ago as Easter presents and filled them with chocolates.  I think I will make some more this year as Xmas presents.  I have lots of scraps and I can get some more practice on those buttons.








Week 11 - Placemats for Charity.

Disaster has struck!

My sewing machine just stopped working.  The fly wheel is stuck solid.  No machine, no sewing.  I rushed it into the repair man, Martin, who is the best repair man in the business, but still no news.  I have a back up machine that does straight and zig zag stitches but I am unable to quilt.  And I had started on the free motion quilting.  After all that time winding myself up to start that and now no machine.

Place mat No 21

This is the first of the free motion exercises.  Just flowing lines between the top and bottom with the aim of getting that stitch even.  I couldn't straighten that fabric, the bend just got worse when quilted.

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Place mat No 22

I saw a similar pattern on Leah Day's web site and adapted it to suit the mat.

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Leah's patterns are all fillers and fit into a smaller space, still there is great inspiration here.

And after finishing this mat the machine broke.  I thought that I wasn't getting anywhere with maintaining a regular stitch length but it was the machine telling me it was sick.  Now things are stalled until I get my machine repaired.


Some of the quilts at the show

There were so many great quilts at the show, but I have selected some that I really liked because they appealed to me.

I liked this appliqued quilt not only because it won a 2nd prize but because it was made by my friend Jean Green.  I have known Jean for a long time and she keeps making lovely quilts.

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The next quilt was made from re-purposed tea bags.  I'm not quite sure how she managed to get those great colours.

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This was the artists statement.

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And the full piece.

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There were some modern applique pieces that caught my fancy as well.

Mandy Murray's "Wild Spirit" (prince of the woods)

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And Kaye Sauer's, Davie- Evolution of the Starman.  The shadow quilting of the subject in the back ground was very effective.

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There were a number of special exhibitions one of which was titled "Inner Journeys". Julie Haddricks pieces were thoughtful and beautifully stitched.  She will be taking this exhibition to Houston (USA) for the Quilt Show  and giving demonstration of her methods of working.  Julie also teaches in Japan.

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I came away inspired and awed at some of the technical skill on display.





This week I have achieved a big fat zero and I have a cold virus.  I just can't even think about stitching at the moment.  So I thought I would post the work of two of the ladies from my 'Advanced Kogin' class.  I like their colour choices better than my own.

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This month

I can feel that "too much to do" feeling coming over me again.  I look at my diary and see that I have at least 3 days a week off the island each week from now until Xmas.  I have to be careful about doing to much or my blood pressure gets out of control and then I am confined to bed and get nothing done.

Last week was the Stitches and Craft show.  Wish I didn't know so many people because I got stopped and asked to do things for them.  I have trouble saying no.  I know I should but I want to help so I can't, then I feel guilty that I didn't, then the anxiety steps in. Result, up goes the blood pressure.  Still I loved seeing all those people and talking and getting enthused about things and spending money.  I've being doing a lot of that lately, spending money.  So quite a few of this weeks post will be about what happened at the show.

Firsly spending my money.  I think I was rather restrained.  I bought wool to knit clothes for my little rabbit and mouse that I was fortunate to buy (some time ago) from Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits. (You have to win in the draw to be able to buy.)  Her little mouse here is the same as mine and I have bought all the patterns from her Ravelry shop a while ago, just needed the wool to knit them.

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(image from Little Cotton Rabbits)

But I have been hesitant as I didn't want to buy big quantities of wool to knit small things.  Then at the show, on Prudence Mapstone's stall I found just the thing.  (If you like knitting or crochet you will love Prudence's books, web page and all the other social media bits.  Inspiration, inspiration , inspiration!)

And I found wool and needles just the right size, I think, because I haven't knitted them up yet.  But just looking at them makes my heart turn over.  The wool have 10g in each ball and is from a company called "Countrywide" in New Zealand. They are all in a miniature size,  I am going to have to make a special basket just for my doll knitting.

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I also bought this "very expensive" wool called Haiku which is made by Alchemy yarns.

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It is a fine silk/mohair mixture and the image from their website is better than I can get on my camera. The yarn is so fine  that I think it will make a great light weight piece that I can wear on a cool evening and I should be able to knit it up over summer.  That is as far as the spending went but I made this big list of things I saw that I would like.  I'll tell you about them later.



At the show

I spent a session at the Stitches and Craft  Show helping man the Embroiderers' Guilds stall.  I always like doing this because I get to catch up with friends from town and country.  It isn't a large space but the convenor always puts up a nice display of work from current members and from the Guild Collection.

One of the pieces was a cutwork version of a cat by Mabel Mc Alister, who was one of the founders of our guild.  She did different versions of this cat in a variety of stitching techniques.  This is the first time I had got a good look at the cutwork cat up close.  (Mabel got her inspiration for her cats from an image on some Spanish chocolate wrappers.)

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He is just delicious.  When you look into the piece there are a  number of clever design features, like the use of different tones of beige threads that give depth and texture.

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And the eveness of the button hole stitch leaves me green with envy.  Just look at those thin connecting bars.

But it is his face that holds so much expression and that little extra colour on the bow tie draws your eye to the face as well.

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The use of eyelets in the nose is inspired.

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Cut work does not rank high on the list of embroidery techniques that I like to stitch but this cat is so adorable that I would consider trying the stitch again.  What am I saying?  No I wouldn't!!!