Field Thistle continued

Following on from the previous post I continued stitching the field thistle piece. I added more stitching in the petal area to make it more dominant, leaving the base of the flower less defined. I did decide to go ahead with adding some colour but only  in places on the petals, using a darker colour in the lower petals and a lighter shade near the top where the light source was in the original photo. This is a close up of the area


I decided that I wasn’t going to overwork this piece so stopped at this point and faced it. So Field Thistle is finished, except for mounting it onto a box canvas. I’m still undecided whether to paint that black or to try and match the off white of the silk noil background. That decision will have to be made after the weekend I think.


I’m linking this past to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday

Have a creative weekend and if you are in the UK try to avoid getting blown away tonight! Or maybe the high winds are just for the East Midlands. I’m certainly battening down the hatches at the moment.


Trying something different

I am determined that I will be a more regular blogger this year and have been pondering how to achieve this. Suddenly a light bulb moment when I realised that one of the reasons for lengthy periods between posts is that I tend to wait until I have something finished before I show it. So, this year I am going to be trying something different and I am going to post images along the way. Fingers crossed this will work.

In the spirit of trying something different I have been looking at ways that I can incorporate my photos without actually printing them directly to fabric. I also like the idea of doing some pieces that are more simple. As a try out I have used this photo of a field thistle that I took a couple of summers ago.


I converted it to black and white,  inverted it and then increased the size to 12″ x 12″. My original idea was to print it out and then trace the design using Golden Threads Quilting PaperI then realised that I could, of course, print directly onto the quilting paper which is what I did. I then fixed it to a silk noil quilt sandwich.


Having done this, I stitched the basis design directly through the paper. Several hours later, after removing all the paper, I had learned that I shouldn’t have done quite so much stitching before removing the paper and that using a smaller stitch length would have also made it easier to remove. Not to worry, this was something different and it’s all part of the learning process. This is the result after that initial stitching.


I will be adding more stitching to it and am also trying to decide whether to introduce some of the purple into the top part of the flower. I may try that out using a photo of the piece before committing myself.

I mentioned in my previous post that I had been considering an invitation that I had received and, now that it is finalised, I can reveal what that was. Beth, who runs the And Then We Set It on Fire blog has invited me to become a resident artist on the blog for 2015. I have accepted (gratefully and excitedly) and my contribution will be a series of blog posts in July on creating silk screens with soy wax and glue. It’s a good job that I have started to take photos of my process as that is what I will have to show. I think perhaps I’d better find some way to permanently attach my camera to my body so that I remember to take the photos! If you are interested in surface design this is an excellent blog which provides enough ideas and inspiration to keep you going  well into the next decade.

Are you planning on trying something different this year? I would love to hear of anything you have in mind.


Looking forward to 2015

2014 has been a busy one with successes and failures but I have no intention of dwelling on the past. I am looking forward to the coming year and already have a couple of classes starting soon and an invitation that I am seriously considering accepting but you’ll have to wait for news of that. My blogging fizzled out towards the end of the year, mainly because I was desperately trying to get things finished that had deadlines.

The first one was a present for Jan which had to be posted to America and, now that I know it arrived safely and on time, I can show it here. I was sending Jan some of my hand dyed threads and wanted something to put them in so made a box for them using up fabric that I had printed with my gelli plate a long time ago.

This is the outside of the box


And this is the inside


The second deadline was to knit a cardigan and hat for my cousin’s four year old granddaughter which had to be ready by Christmas Day. The cardigan was finished at 10am on Christmas morning which was fortunate as I had to leave to visit them at 10.15! I can’t show you Beau wearing the cardigan as her parents would not want a photo of her on the internet but I can show you the finished cardigan.


The hat wasn’t finished until Boxing Day but has since been posted. It was difficult to photograph as it has an unusual crown so I had to enlist the help of an old teddy bear as a model. I also had to use crochet flowers at the end of the cords as my attempts at making pom poms left a lot to be desired.


If you are a follower of my blog you will know that I joined in with the Contemporary Group’s Journal Quilt challenge this year and, with a few hours to spare, I managed to get the final one for December finished. I used a photo of a snowflake, altered it in Photoshop and then printed it onto cotton and heavy Lutrador. I cut the image out from the Lutrador, added some Treasure silver and silver paint onto the edges then and layered it on top of the cotton, leaving the edges loose (after all, snowflakes do lie on top of each other!). This is the first time that I have managed to finish all 12 and I will wait to see what the parameters are for next year before deciding whether to join in again.


I do hope that you are ready to see the old year out and to welcome in 2015. Whether you reflect on what has gone before, enjoy being in the present, or set your sights firmly  on the future, I wish you a year that is filled with peace and happiness and good health to all.


Christmas Greetings

Wishing all my dear blogging friends a Happy Christmas from me, Casper and Jack.


Journal quilts and oversized poppies

I realised when I wrote my last post that I hadn’t shown the last three journal quilts that I am doing for the Contemporary Group’s challenge. They were all finished on time and posted to the Yahoo site but I’ve missed out on showing them on my blog so I’ll redress that omission.

This is September’s. I had taken a photo of the nigellas which had gone to seed, selected a small part of it which was then enlarged to 8″ x 8″ and printed onto my favourite silk/cotton fabric


In October I took the opportunity to try out some ideas for my larger Food For Thought quilt which I posted about earlier. The background is hand dyed fabric with shapes discharged. I then added the grid and the pink shapes which were cut from silk organza.


November was an experimental month where I collaged together some dyed and printed fabric. I then stamped the line of rectangles with gold Lumiere paint, added some hand stitching and quilted it. It wasn’t particularly successful and I don’t like the quilting on the right hand side as it doesn’t add anything to the overall design. To me that’s what journal quilts are all about though, trying out things to see whether they work or not and learning from the results.


I have also managed to do some stitching on the Poppies piece that I also showed in an earlier post. I’ve only done some outlining so far but one thing that I have discovered is that, when I have the quilt under the machine it is very difficult to see the overall design and where I should be stitching. The part that I have done was easy but the centre of the poppy down at the bottom left is far more difficult to work with. When I have it up on the design wall at the end of the room I can see it really clearly. Perhaps I should try and work out how to do some long distance quilting!

This is a detail shot of the outlining.


And this is the view that I have from the other end of the room. Hopefully I will be able to get some more of it done this weekend. The size of this one is 41″ x 21″


I’m linking up today’s post with Nina-Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday

I hope that you all have a good weekend. I’m off out to lunch with Linda shortly and, hopefully, the rain will hold off.


In print and a suitcase collection.

Tuesday morning saw me taking a very pleasant drive to Gotham for a meeting of the East Midlands Contemporary Textile group. It was an excellent meeting with the majority of the day being spent perusing the 40+ quilts which make up the Contemporary Group’s suitcase collection. All the pieces are A3 size and the theme was All In a Day’s Work. There were many different interpretations of the theme and numerous techniques used by the makers. I enjoyed seeing my own piece in there but, regrettably, did not take a photo of it which was a nuisance as I didn’t take a photo of it before sending it off either. I will just have to wait until it’s done its tour of duty and returns to me. There were three that really took my eye though and which I did manage to photograph.

This is by Cath Stonard. You can check out Cath’s blog here and she also has a website Cath Stonard Textile Art


This piece by Linda Bilsborrow was fascinating and the more you looked the more there was to see. It was beautifully executed and had a really crisp clean feel to it. Linda has a website where you can see more of her work here  and you can also see more of her work on her Quilters Guild profile page.


The third one that I am including was by Sandy Snowden. Sandy wrote a statement about this piece on her blog which you can view here 


If you belong to a group, the collection can be hired for viewing at a cost of £70, which included delivery and collection. Details of how to book the collection can be found here. I can thoroughly recommend it, both for the inspiration that it provides and the discussion that it provokes.

And the ‘In print’ part of the header for this post? My Italian friend Linda has sent me a copy of an Italian magazine ‘My Patchwork’. In the September/ October edition they did a review of the Festival of Quilts and my art quilt entry was one of the featured photos. (Top left)


Linda has organised an exhibition in Monza entitled The Music of My Life – La Musica Della Mia Vita. The exhibition is on until 23rd November if anyone is in the area. If you want to read more about this exhibition, Marlis Egger has a piece in the exhibition and has written about it on her blog.


Have a creative week.


Around the World Blog Post

I have been asked by a couple of people to take part in the Around the World Blog Post but had to decline as I was in the throes of meeting deadlines. It was therefore, third time lucky when my dear friend Judy Carpenter asked me to join in recently and I was free from other commitments so I said yes. I met Judy online quite  some time ago and she is one of the most courageous and inspirational people that I know. I hope that you will skip back to her blog to see the beautiful things that she creates.

I suspect that most people have seen at least one of these posts by now so I will just launch in and hope for the best.

What am I working on now?

I have been working on a series related to the water powered cotton spinning mill in Belper and in particular combining my love of photography with my quilting. Quilts from this series have appeared in many posts over the months but recently I have started to wonder whether I should begin to make smaller pieces. There’s only so much room in a house for larger pieces of textile art!

These are four images that I printed off, one is quilted but the others are waiting for me to get around to them. I think I may mat them and perhaps see if I can actually sell some.


The other thing that I am considering is going back to an early image that I used of a tree in winter. I used this to make a small A4 piece which was well received and it will give me the chance to try different effects with the same image. Below is the original image accompanied by two possibilities. There could be a lot of mileage in this.


How does my work differ from that of others in the same field?

I don’t think that my work is so different as there are a great many people out there who are using Photoshop to manipulate their images but I think that perhaps abstracting a very small area of an image and working with that is not the way that everyone works. I also like to try to incorporate my own hand dyed and printed fabrics into the image wherever possible as an added layer.

Why do I create what I do?

Because I love doing it. I can’t imagine not being able to work with textiles in some way or another. I often have some embroidery to hand when I need to relax after a heavy machine quilting session and I find that I can sit with the cats in the evening, watching some mindless TV and knitting. I am still getting to grips with my spinning wheel but that is more likely to make an appearance during dark winter evenings.

How does my creating process work?

My ideas usually come from my photographs initially. I use Lightroom to catalogue all my images, which date back years, and can bring up all those that I have attached a certain keyword to and browse through them looking for inspiration. I spend a lot of time combining different images in Photoshop and trying out different filters to get effects that I want and then doing various other manipulations. I also use sketchbooks but they are not the works of art produced by some people, simply places where I jot down ideas, make small sketches that mean something to me or even paste in images to remind me of colour combinations that I find appealing. Sometimes, when I am browsing through them, I come upon things that I have no recollection of, which can be quite exciting. Once I have the germ of an idea then I can spend time playing and experimenting. If it comes to nothing there is usually something that I am able to take away from it.

I struggled to get anyone to carry the torch forwards although finally my friend Jan McElroy agreed to do it, out of guilt I think. Jan does some amazing machine quilting, for herself and for others, but not only that, she is generous with her skills, teaching and inspiring and being generally motivational. She is about to embark upon some experiments with art quilts so I hope that you will take a look at her blog. Jan will be posting next Monday, November 17th. You can also pick up your favourite drink and work your way back through the various blog posts of other people by clicking on the links for Jan and Judy.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading.


News and Knitting

I mentioned in my last post that I had some exciting news so, although it is really only exciting to me, I thought I would share it with you anyway. First of all I have taken on the position of co-rep, with Uta Lenk, for SAQA’s Europe and the Middle East region. I took over from Elisabeth  Nacenta de la Croix who finished her stint on October 31st. I suspect that I my be kept busy but am really looking forward to it. My really exciting news is that I have booked to go to the annual SAQA conference in Portland, Oregon at the end of April next year. I haven’t had any time away from home for the last 12 years as I have an older cat, Jack, who is very nervous around other people and so leaving him has not been an option, until I adopted Casper that is. I decided to try boarding them for 3 nights at a local cattery at the beginning of October and Jack was fine. Casper, who had been in rescue for quite a few months, obviously showed him the ropes and gave him confidence. This also means that I will be able to stay over for the Festival of Quilts rather than travelling into Birmingham every day. Being in Portland also means that I am going to be able to pay a visit to my good friend Jan who lives about 60 miles north of there. To say that I am looking forward to it is an understatement.

If you are interested in SAQA then do have a look around their website and also there is an excellent article about the organisation in the November issue of British Patchwork and Quilting.

So that’s my news and now on to the knitting. What seems like a very long time ago I started knitting a Sycamore vest from a pattern by Hannah Fettig. I had some bamboo/cotton mix wool that I had bought from the Threshing Barn a long time ago so decided to use that. I had three different colours but not enough of any one so I just went ahead and used all three. It is the first time that I have ever done a garment that is knitted in one piece and it went together really easily. It’s nice and warm to wear in the days when it’s too warm for a thick sweater but too cold to go without anything. Thanks to my friend Judy Carpenter for pointing me in this direction.


Inspired by this effort I am now knitting a Drops Design pattern. I bought the wool from World of Wool and was very impressed with the service. My order arrived within 24 hours. Only the back and part of one front done so far but it is going well.


Now then Judy, how come that I can manage to follow a complex pattern but can’t get my head around knitting socks???

I have just discovered, as I was adding the links to this post that The Threshing Barn has moved to the Yorkshire Dales. Lucky for those of you who live up in that area but too far for me to go and indulge in the treasures that it used to offer.

My next post is actually going to be tomorrow as I am finally joining in with the Around the World Blog Hop. I hope that you will be able to stop by.

Enjoy what is left of your weekend, after the incessant rain yesterday I’m now out to start getting the garden ready for winter.


Some you win, some you lose

I mentioned in a previous post that I had entered Quilt National this year. Not surprisingly I received the rejection email but at least that means that I can now show the finished quilt. It is one of my Wheels and Windows series. I merged two photos together and then manipulated it in Photoshop, printed it out and quilted it.

Wheels-and-windows #8



My second rejection was from the SAQA’s Food for Thought entry. Again I was not surprised as I felt that I had been unable to do justice to the idea that was in my head. It was an idea based on the RSPB concern for the loss of many of our migratory songbirds who are hunted and trapped as they fly over the islands of Cyprus and Malta to provide illegal delicacies in the restaurants. Although I wasn’t happy with the result I hadn’t got time to change tack so sent it anyway.


On a more positive note I did have some good news when attending the Great Northern Quilt Show at Harrogate at the end of August. I have never entered this show before but decided to send two of my quilts off.

This one was awarded 2nd place in the Small Wall hanging category …


… and this one was awarded a Judges Merit in the same category.


It was impossible to take a good photo of them hanging as you can see from this photo. The lighting was also not good in many areas which was a pity as there were some excellent entries that didn’t show up well.


That’s all for now as I have to go and do my weekly duty as assistant babysitter to my cousin’s granddaughter. Why are 4 year olds so exhausting? I’m so glad that I only have cats!


Blogger’s Quilt Festival


Finally getting back into blogging again with a short post as I’ve decided to enter  the Blogger’s Quilt Festival this year with my latest Wheels and Windows piece. This is #9 and is 12″ square. It’s another layering of the windows of Belper Mill and the cogwheel image, manipulated with a Photoshop filter.

Birchenough_Maggi_Wheels and Windows 9

The piece is printed onto silk/cotton mix fabric and then machine quilted and faced. I think that this is one that I will mount onto a box canvas.

Wheels and Windows #9  is in the Art Quilts section of the Festival.  Beginning tomorrow, Nov. 1, you can vote for your favorite quilt in this category (maybe mine?), as well as each of the other categories. You can vote for the Viewer’s Choice Award quilt at any time, voting for your three favorite quilts in the entire show. There are plenty of other individual categories too so why not grab a cup of coffee and spend a little time browsing. You can get direct to the site by clicking on the logo at the top of this post.

*** I’m also linking this up to Nina-Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday, thanks for inviting me Nina-Marie ***

I have more news that I want to share with you but I’ve decided that shorter, more concise blog posts may be the way for me to go at the moment so I’ll be back very soon.



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