Today I turned 49. I have just 365 days left before I can wear a red hat! Do I feel my age - NO! ..well I did this morning when little man woke me at 4am to wipe his snotty nose and get him a glass of water .. but asides from minor inconveniences like this I feel good. I need to loose more than a few llbs of course and I would love to loose the jowls if I was game-enough for a face-lift but I am, for the most part, quite happy with my aging process. I am happy, have my health and thankfully an enquiring mind! The day I stop wanting to learn or try something new will be the day I hang my boots up.
Todays learning experience was how to shoot photos in manual mode! My husband who is a keen armchair photographer asked "why ? " when I had a perfectly good Auto mode on my camera? Well auto just doesn't hack it for some shots I am told and anyway I have never used the manual mode on my D90 before. Actually, I have never shot a photo in manual on any camera. Before digital I used an instamatic - which definitely proves I am of a certain age! Thankfully, DH who knew better than to interfere with my 'mission' was keen to extract and pass on a plethora of useful knowledge from his vast data banks. He set about explaining the ins and outs of F stops, depth of fields and aperture settings and yep you guessed right - it meant absolutely nothing to me at all! All of his carefully worded explanations went right over my head!
I am a hands on person it seems and there is only one way for me to learn, and that's to get on and have a go! Well, the beauty of a digital camera shooting in manual mode is of course that you can ditch the crappy photos straight away and try again! Good job too but after more than a few failed attempts it didn't take very long for me to grasp a rudimentary understanding of aperture and f-stops OR how much light you allow to reach your cameras senses and how big a hole you allow the light to pass through!
My choice of subject matter was probably not for the beginner though but no one told me that until after my workshop! A fresh bouquet of flowers for said DH and a self-portrait!
What did I learn ? 1. I had fun! 2. You don't need to use flash 3.You can isolate certain parts of your subject from the background 4. you can create different moods by allowing more or less light in 5. I had fun!
You really should give it a go! One final word - if you haven't already ....READ YOUR MANUAL!
a change from the normal soft fabric quilts I usually make!
There is a saying that a change is as good as a rest! I agree. Today prompted by my homework from the online course I am doing with Laura Bray at Katydid-designs I have updated my blog. I have been wanting to make it into a three column blog for a while and then spurred by a comment from Alesha on the course forums I found this link for a Three Column Blogger. I followed the steps in the tutorial and hey presto I found my way around the HTML and have updated the blog somewhat. I was quite proud of myself too because I changed the width of the page to make the whole thing less cramped. This is of course a bit of a risk because not everyone has wide monitors yet. 660px is the standard I think to cover all eventualities but I increased mine to 900px. I know you can go bigger but I this is ok at the moment to space the three columns out nicely. Oh - just to make sure those with smaller monitors can see all the relevant stuff, I placed all the info and widgets I really want people to see is in the first 2 columns - that way if the 3rd column does get cut off my readers should still be able to see my posts and links to my website etc.
So ... what do you think?
Did you notice I have also added a link for facebook networked blogs? This seems to be an up and coming way to read blogs. So, if you have facebook feel free and add me to your friends list!
We had a birthday this weekend ... our little man turned 6 and asked if he could have a birthday party ... well of course he could. He hasn't had a party before(other than a family tea) so we arranged a Halloween theme party in our garden.
little man in undersized transformer costume!
We filled the garden with pumkins and gourds (the greengrocer almost dropped off her high till stool when I asked for 20 of them! along with a dozen butternut squash), DH turned the garage into a spiders den and we borrowed straw bales from the local farm. I decorated the fence with my party bunting, the trees with paper pumpkin bunting, dangly witches, scarecrows and placed witches brooms here and there. We had lots of outside games including vegetable skittles and a parsnip shy (like a coconut shy but with parship targets and potatoe missiles!), made a huge bath of gooey jelly bath with creepy crawlers inside (plastic), apple bobbing, did pumpkin carving and biscuit decorating. 20 kids, a carry bag with hotdogs and chips, a treasure hunt to find a bunch of brooms that would break the wicked spell cast by a naughty witch to hide the birthday boys cake and 2 hours of mayhem and madness BUT we all went home tired but very happy! and to complete the picture homemade quilted party bags of course ! Witch and cauldron, spider and cat and bat are patterns are by Candace West from Ellen Munnich quiltrecipes site, ghost, pumpkin and flying witch are ones I digitised myself.
filled party bags
Last week I also got a complimentary copy of Fons and Porters Love of Quilting Dec issue. They contacted me back in the summer to include a picture of the Mini Job I quilted last year (a quilted version of an original artwork by artist Tony Smith). I was very happy with the article although they do have me down as a computerised quilting system designer --- wish I were that clever .... no, I just design a few patterns for them very now and again!
Its Autumn ... I know it is because I have had to put the heating on the last couple of evenings. I like Autumn though. Its my favorite season. I love the colder mornings and the mist that floats off the hills with it and seeing a wardrobe of wooly jumpers hit the streets before they get covered up with winter coats. This morning was bright and sunny and I sat, coffee in hand, watching a rather fat wood pigeon gorge itself on the seeds of a spent sunflower and I was inspired to share with you a quilt I finished for my cousin Emma over at quiltfish. Its called Fields of Gold. I should probably show a quilt that is made entirely by me for Amy's Autumn Quilt Festival but I love this quilt and I think its appropriate for the season.
Emma is an excellent piecer and has a eye for design and colour but flounders (in the nicest sense of the word) when it comes to quilting as so many people do. The phrase Quilt as Desired can give even the most accomplished piecer a dose of the 'hibby-jibbies'. What does it mean, Quilt as Desired ... I dont have a clue... help.. Thats when she and many others have handed their quilts over to me.
As a longarm quilter I've quilted lots of quilts for other people and with it comes an expectation that because you quilt all the time you will instantly know how to quilt it. Well I hate to dispel that myth but we need time to think too! Sometimes a quilt will speak to you straight away and it shouts how to be quilted. Other times it clams up and says nothing for the longest time. Fields of Gold spoke to me quite quickly - it said Sunflowers almost immediately but I also saw barns and a vision of a scene from Witness in my mind. Something I probably could have quilted but not a scene that Emma, the owner of the quilt, wanted. As a 'for hire' quilter, even when you have a working partnership that allows you to quilt whatever you want, you have to be mindful that this quilt will never belong to you. It will be on loan to you for a while as you work on it and you may be lucky to share a place in its provenance if it travels a show circuit. But it will never hang on your wall or rest on your bed, so the relationship you have with the quilt will always be different to the one the owner has. You need to be respectful of the owners tastes and quilt vision (if she has one) but occasionally it is possible to take a risk and quilt a design that you really feel would suit the quilt, even if it means 'pushing' the owner slightly outside of their comfort zone. Not always an easy decision for the contracted quilter. Anyway in the case of Fields of Gold I was fairly sure what Emma would and would not go for and I think the 'dropped jaw' and teary eyes said it all when she saw it fully quilted and I can tell you, for me, there is no better reward than this reaction.
Fields went on to enter the UK Festival of Quilts 2008 and took a 3rd place in the two-person category and also a 3rd in the longarm quilting section. This year Emma tried for a juried place at Houston but sadly it didn't make it. I do think she should try for another show though - what do you think?
The quilting designs btw are mainly my own and available here
I thought it was soon but when I checked this morning I discovered I had missed an anniversary ... one of my own in fact. My first full year of blogging was a couple of days ago. It hardly seems that long.
Now I could ramble on and tell you facts and figures about who visited, from where and all that jazz but its "Hakuna Matata!" .... or in English .... "its in the past!" .... In truth, I don't do nostalgia very well at all I'm afraid ... unless I've had a glass of something ... which isn't often because as much as I like a drink, it doesn't like me... my feet swell up - how strange is that? No, I prefer to look forward and really like the idea of starting new things. I'm one of those people that enjoys the process of doing or making something more than the finished product. My garden is a good example ... I like the clearing of the land, the digging and the constructing much much more than the maintenance of planted beds. I suppose its rather zen-like in so much I enjoy the journey more than the destination. Anyway this was on my mind yesterday as I considered if perhaps the blog had now come to its natural end ... after-all I had started it, nurtured it a little, learnt about widgets, html,layouts and links and to all intents and purposes all I now have to do is to post a blog here and there and maintain it.
This was my thinking until I read this article by Jerry Fresia discussing 5 ways to grow as an artist.
Now I'll be honest, much of the article went over my head but a comment by Picasso on 'finishing' hit a cord with me.
".........As soon as the freshness evaporates (we are bored or lost or acquire interest in something else), stop. Do not think in terms of finishing. Picasso lectures eloquently on this. Finish is the death of our work because it means we are painting an expectation or “to be like” and that puts the brakes on painting to see and feel more deeply. Every beginning is a new prompt, a new point of departure. Begin everything. Finish nothing. "
So you see .. I think this gives me the permission I need to start as many projects as I want to and to have the many WIP's that may follow BUT more importantly it also gives me permission to have them without guilt or a need to complete them, making the UFO a sanctified being!
So where am I now .... looking forward to starting more projects and what better place to remind myself of what I have started (but not necessarily finished) than my chubby mummy blog!