Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A long time coming

I found knitting and needlepoint great companions when I was first ill with the debilitating illness eventually diagnosed as Myalgic Encephelomyelitis (M.E.) or Post Viral Syndrome or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or whatever - it meant that I had very little energy to do anything and slept away for much of the day, every day.  I am still like that quite a lot but there are more better days, twenty-three years on from the beginning.  Anyway, doing a little archeological excavation through the layers of life in our house, I came across a completed panel of stitching, which I recall working on at the beginning of my six year journey through the world of City and Guilds Embroidered Textiles.  This was when I found I was expecting my third child, who has recently had his sixteenth birthday, so that gives some idea of the time it has been sitting around, unfulfilled and purposeless.  I remember thinking that it was probably the last kit project I would ever undertake.  Oh, memories!

I remembered another two panels of stitching I'd worked from a design by Beth Russell for Ehrmann, based upon tile designs by William de Morgan (I've had an almost lifelong love of Arts and Crafts and William Morris and all that), before the passionflower-bedecked piece I had come across, and a little more searching brought them to light, also.

Anyway, hidden away, unpurposed and incomplete they are no longer.  They have been joined by a sample piece of Liberty Hera design (peacock feathers), backed with dark blue velvet and stuffed with cushion inners, to sit resplendent upon my navy-blue sofas.  It is about time!

I think a lot of the delay was caused by being anxious about spoiling them by trying to stitch them onto a backing,  In the event, it was so simple, logical and, once the necessary materials assembled, fast.

So, my time piece is being paid attention to, and I'm determined to complete more projects planned or started, and buried in the domestic chaos that is our home.  The excavation continues!  It feels good to have finally put my stitching to good use.  And, today I mended moth holes in my knitted shawl, so I can wear it once again.  Small targets, but progress is being made,

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

My time is up

Well, it seems a long time ago since the latest International Quilt Challenge theme was announced, and I have been struggling with time, ever since.  "Time" was the theme, and my initial thought was of childhood (also a long time ago) and my fascination with dandelion clocks.  However, my very talented friend, Sue Martin, interpreted this theme so beautifully and independently that I decided I'd best change tack.

I came across this memento of my maternal grandmother, who had a good sense of humour, and it started me on a train of thought about inheritances, objects from the past and good advice.  The round tuit is a procrastination preventative: : now you have one, you no longer have an excuse to put off doing things...

We went to Denmark at Easter, to visit my daughter who is spending a year studying in Copenhagen as part of her degree course.  We visited the National Museum, which had some wonderful displays of artefacts including Roman bronze articles with glorious aged patinas.
These in turn reminded me of some Chinese bronzes I saw a couple of years ago at a museum and art gallery in the Cotswolds (the name of which escapes me at present).  Sadly, photography was not permitted, but I long to return to maybe sketch these beautiful surfaces.

 I decided to have a go at dyeing some fabrics with a verdigris effect but the results, above, were strangley far from successful - pale and washed out, with the exception of the fine silk organza.  That was the clue - my dyes were for protein fibres, not cellulose, and my procion dyes were hiding from me.  I did have some habotai which took the dye reasonably well, but I was concerned that this would not stand up to heavy stitching, so I had to think again.

In one of my local fabric shops (The Spinning Weal) I found this verdigris-like patchwork fabric and also another stone-like one, for a background.

In fact, I had hoped to use a piece of cloth already in my possession for the background, but my house had eaten it and, after a number of days looking for it (more time wasted) once I had got my new cloth home and stitched, the missing length appeared somewhere I had looked several times for it...  Anyway, I used a variegated YLI quilting thread to free machine stitch "I'll do it when I get around to it" or "When I get around to it, I'll do it."

On the green disc, I meander-quilted and then stitched the words: tempus fugit - do it!"
I came to realise that this could reasonably actually be a time piece and had fun and games working out how to do this, which involved finding a clock mechanism and hands (from Maplin) - although the second hand was a discordant red and so I painted it silver.

In Hobbycraft, I found a 12" square box frame to contain my fabric piece and was able to drill a hole in the mid-centre of the backing board through which to pass the clock mechanism spindle, and then made holes through both cream and green quilted sandwiches to pass it through as well.

So my time piece is a time piece - a clock, to remind me to seize the moment and not waste time or opportunities.  During the time I was making it, my son and husband both celebrated significant birthdays and we heard of the sad death of a good friend.  It seems apt to have made this now.  It's a shame it took so much time.  In the end, time was of the essence, in more ways than I thought when I started out.

Now for the next challenge: Landmarks.  Best get my thinking cap on!