Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Colour References

Yes , yes , yes they are done and ready to go ... and hopefully not back onto my shelves!   Its taken what seems like an age but in reality its not that long because I've been organising these blessed charms in between running back and forewards to school, shopping trips and cooking. Please note  'cleaning'  was not on this list but I do most definetly need to do some now. My dining room is a mass of loose threads and I noticed there are some nice little 'dust bunnies' collecting around the edges of most of the rooms that all seem to include some fabric offcut. ( Pesky little bunnies - they should learn to clean up after themselves!). 

What do you think to the names I called them?  Oh my .. the brain was not engaged today and I struggled to think what to call them or if indeed I should have called them anything at all.  I did think for a while about giving them some obscure title like " the green door "  or "99 red ballons" or "yellow submarine" (except I didn't have much yellow!) or "purple rain" or any other song related title but I couldn't think of any others ...  I'm sure there are loads though. So I plumped for some slightly over imaginative ones like 'prom dress' and 'river bed' and then got stuck and was left with 'mix-it-up 1 and 2' . Yes really imaginative  .. uhm ... not!  Colours are soo difficult to name though. What I think as lavander might be your idea of purple, or my idea of chestnut brown might be your idea of burnt orange.  Its all very subjective and depends on our eyes and brain to interpret what we see and define it against a reference colour we know all ready. If we all had an inbuilt spectroscope we would all call them the same thing - like  400nm or 720 nm but we dont so its down to our ability to inspired by a  reference word or phrase that our brains might possible interpret with some reasonable assurance of being in the right ballpark.  So what does a colour reference like  'prom dress' or 'joy' suggest to you?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Cupids Arrow

Finally after a day of chopping and a day of 'colour bundling' I am now on the homeward stretch and the charms are almost ready to go. I do have to make labels for them but hopefully that wont take too long and will be less tiring on my back. Standing up to cut over 150 different perfectly good yards (or more) of fabric  into small 5" pieces takes a toll on you physically but oh does it feel good inside to know that your stash is at the beginning of a major vanishing act!  My stash has been weighing me down 'creatively' for a long time now as my tastes have changed and I am more selective about my fabric purchases. When I first started quilting I was like a kiddy at the local pic n mix sweetie shop. I brought a bit of this and bit of that .. always loving what I had brought and always having some project in mind.... at the time!  A few years on I discovered that my fabric shelves were bulging with the equivalent of the 'Coffee' flavoured sweetie that no one wanted to eat.  So .. cutting up the stash has really made me feel alot better!  

In fact I feel so good today that I want to whip out the old Pfaff and start stitching straight away. Valentines day must be close by too as I'm sure Cupid has restored the balance and I actually like some of my 'coffee' fabrics again. I reckon I have enough squares to sew up at least a 4 or 5 dozen charity quilts but I am hoping some other kind souls will take them off my hands instead. 

Today I have sorted my squares into colour bundles and tomorrow I will give them some wonderful names, load them on my website  and pray for Cupids arrow to wing its way into your fabric pic n mix hearts!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Charmed I'm Sure!

Yesterday was a good day! My little boy (no. 2 son) turned 13! He is now officially a teenager and is allowed to act like one. Not that he hasn't been practising for some while now and the single monotone syllables and slouchy- shoulder dropped - knuckle to floor - neanderthal body language have been perfected. "Merrr" is usually his favorite expression (if we are indeed graced with any vocabulary at all) but he does have an unusually speedy typing score! Mind you... I am not surprised by this as he has used a keyboard in preference to any other traditional writing implement since he was 3. Anyway .. all this said and done he is a delightful boy and I'm very proud of him. To celebrate his birthday I took him to London for a tour of the BBC Television Centre in White City.

What a great
day we had! If you every have the chance you should go. Tickets are not expensive and the tour was excellent. They made such a fuss of my son too because it was his birthday and he did a grand job being the 'volunteer' behind the scenes voice-over and sound effects man on the psuedo quiz show we took part in. I think he may even be interested in Television as a career now .. now that would be something! For those of you in the UK ...we also saw some of the contestants from Britain Needs You ... supping coffee and chowing down in the cafeteria - some with rollers in hair too ... taking a break before last nights show. (I was more excited about this than DS !)

On the quilting front .. I have been really busy having a massive massive clearout of my studio. I have way too much stuff that I have very little chance of doing anything with. I have good intentions and a list of things I want to do but all this stuff is dragging me down and stiffling any creative thought processes I might have at the moment so I have decided to let it all go. Well not all - I still have some things I want to hang on to! I've loaded lots of things on my website in the shopping pages and added a secure shopping cart that takes you through to paypal. I was thrilled that the system is working and I have had several 'orders' now through the website. I will be busy loading more things over the next week but it does take a while to sort, photograph, load the website etc... so please bear with me and keep checking back to see whats new. I'm currently chopping up yards and yards of fabric into 5" charms. Its amazing how a piece of relatively 'ugly' fabric suddenly becomes much more attractive when its a smaller size! The whole process of chopping has been really therapeutic and mildly cathartic too. I have a few more fabrics to go and then I will be ready to collate them into packs of 40. I think I am going to sort them into 4 groups of Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter collections, but I'm not sure yet. But one thing I am sure about and I'm sure you'll be charmed to know  ...  5" squares of fabric take up less space than yardage on the shelf.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Are you a MAC or a PC?

I came over all of a dither this afternoon when I read the latest newsletter from Jessica Schick at Digi-Tech. I am now listed as one of the pattern designers on her site ... and I'm not overly sure what to make of it. I'm excited and bewildered somewhat too - probably because its another step out of anonymity. Its also been a real flurry of activity for me over the last couple of days too as I sent through a number of patterns for her to look at. Technology laid us foul though as we discovered that a .dxf (drawing exchange file) does not exchange so well when you have a MAC talking to a PC. I am a MAC user - I love my MAC - I even loved my MAC when I worked for IBM - oops! They are fantastic machines that just do! No fuss , no nonsense - they just get on with the job and look pretty too. But they dont talk to PC design software - I discovered. Well that may not be true. I have been corresponding with some software developers to see whats what, so maybe - just maybe we might be able to parlez soon.

In the meantime I have hastitly had to download a trail version of Adobe Illustrator and learn how to use it so I can send patterns over to her - configured in a way that the myriad of computerised quilting and embroidery machine software out there can read. In the past I haven't had to do this - so this was novel for me too. I have what I would call the MAC equivalent of a computerised quilting machine - an Intelliquilter which has a different operating system to other brands (so to speak) but guess what - they dont talk to each other either! The IQ software is really quite sophisicated and does a good deal of thinking for you. You dont need to tell it for example, what quilting path to follow (unless you want to of course) - it will work it out for you. Other machines need to be directed. Anyway as you can imagine, I have had to do some fast learning. I've a-ways to go but its fun and I have some ideas in my head for new and better designs - I'm not thrilled with the three that went on line today but I figure its a start and its better to have something rather than nothing. You can see these designs and more from some wonderful designers at Jessicas site - and you dont have to be a digital guru to use them - Jessica converts all the patterns she lists for in a full range of quilting and embroidery machine formats as well as paper patterns and downloadable PDFs.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Crafty Goodness

"You wanna piece of me?" December Journal Quilt - 12" x 12"
A wet and dry felted constructed. layered over wool battting and quilted.

It was a bitterly cold and frosty day here today. Absolutely glorious to look but not one to be out in. So we donned winter woolies, turned the heating up and spent the day pottering roun
d the house. I even played dominos with the kids (yes.. me play .. DH will be surprised!) and managed to take some photos I'd been meaning to take for ages too.

"Payne and Veinity" - November Journal Quilt 12" x 12"
Multiple threads and wool layered over wool and overlaid with organza.
Longarm quilted. Relayered over backing and batting and domestic machine quilted.

(This piece is dedicated to my surgeon "Mr Payne" who removed
my varicose vein in November .. never again!)

Forest Floor - October Journal Quilt 12" x 12"
Multi threads, layered over batting, longarm quilted multiple times.
Organza overlay , relayered, re-quilted and distressed

First up were the Oct - Dec Journal quilts. These are sooo difficult to photograph. I even set up the tripod but I didn't get the best of shots for any of them. I tried with and without flash, auto and program and micro settings but still not brilliant. The way I constructed three of them always meant photography would be difficult anyway but I didn't think they would be quite so hard!

I made these three working directly on my longarm - using batting as the working medium and layering threads and wool directly over the top. I keep all the threads in place with organza , quilt the threads in place - sometimes many times with different threads and designs. When I'm happy with this fantasy fabric I take it off the frame, re-layer with a backing and more batting and quilt again on my domestic. Finally distressing the whole piece to reveal some of the threads. Sound complex? Guess it does ... but its not really. I teach this method in a class called Expanding the Possibilites. Its a great de-stressing class where anything goes. You get to play with lots of "fru-fru" bits and pieces that we all like but have no idea what to do with!

Btw and just in case you are wondering the binding on these small quilts is very different to the way I do a traditional quilt. I'm not sure I like them much so I probably won't do this method again. But hey .. you have to try these things to know! 

I've been teaching myself to crochet too and I was very happy with this photograph of these crochet flowers I made. I made the pattern up and I love the way the flower edges wrinkle up. I think I might add some beads in the centre and make them into brooches.

And the winners are ............

With the help of my trusty daughter and my hubbies felt Fedora the two names drawn out of the hat for the two free downloads of my new booklet " How to make Perfect Binding in 6 Easy Steps" are ......drum roll please .... Pam Scoville and Lyn Blackburn.  Pam and Lyn - your booklets will be on their way later today.  A  big big thank you to everyone else that took part. If you would still like to get your copy you can of course download them from Lulu at the link at the side of the blog. 

I have made a few book sales this week which is lovely and a big thank you to those that have brought them.  I also made a few in-roads on the marketing front but I still have a way to go. My hubby has given me a target figure of sales to hit so come on everyone - pass the word around so I make the grade!  

Btw - do you like my foot wear?  A christmas gift from my daughter - I think they came from Accessorise. You can also catch a glimpse of the PJ's I made a while back. I've had to fight a couple of family members off from claiming them!  


Tuesday, 6 January 2009

How Green is Your Valley?

Have you ever stopped to consider how much we are affected by colour?  We are surrounded by it every day and we choose products based on colour. Colour therapists will be well aware how much we are influenced by it and Marketing departments should be aware of it!  Did you know the colour Red is used in fast food chains to make us eat more quickly and Yellow painted houses sell more quickly than others for example?  I did a silly test today to see what colour I was (try for yourself here) Interestingly I was Green - the colour I have and probably always will choose as my favorite colour!  Now it is debatable if the test reported my colour personality correctly - apparently I am a calm and contemplative character. Uhm ... not sure my hubby and kids would always agree with that!  

Sunday, 4 January 2009

My First Give-Away !

I've been busy the last couple of days ending out press releases to as many people as I think will be interested to hear about my booklet - How to make Perfect Binding in 6 Easy Steps. First of all let me say self-publishing is going to be hard work I think.  Press Release sounds soo grand don't you think but I don't know what else to call it.  Knowing exactly what to put in the PR is another story. I use to work for a company called Xyratex where I was the Brand Manager for a short while before giving it all up to rear a family. While I was there we did several press announcements but we used a PR company to roll everything out for us.  Doing it all myself is going to be hard I know. I've already had one major internal battle telling myself  NOT to be scared to tell people I've written this piece of work. I feel like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz!
I'm not sure if its courage, self-confidence or balls I need -- or are they all the same? 

Anyway I have set some balls in motion thats for sure and I am hoping they can collect a few sales along the way. As a little encourage I have decided to do my first blog give-way. I have 2 downloadable pdfs to give away. If you want to leave a message for me on the blog here I will put your name into the hat for a drawing on Saturday 10th January. Of course if you really cant wait that long you can always download it straight away by clicking on the LULU link on the right hand side of the blog page!