Tuesday 28 June 2011

Brit Quilt Swap - Quilting Harlot's Web

I'm thinking of using a beautiful YL variegated quilting thread for the centre - it's in pink, green, yellow, orange ... just to pull the whole thing together ... but I may end up staying with the neutrals ... who knows ...

General consensus over at the BritQuiltSwap flickr group is to stick with the neutrals, but you know me ... always contrary (read indecisive LOL) ...

Brit Quilt Swap - Quilting Harlot's Web - Vintage Thread

Lovely old Dewhurst cotton - the shade is called silver tinsel

Things I'm loving about  my new machine RoboSew:

  • Needle down as default end point - this is so so useful for turning corners ... I love love love it ...
  • Also loving the stop/start button ... I did half the quilting using this, but then I moved back to the foot pedal for more control ... I know I will deffo use it again on other projects, a lot (I'm thinking chain piecing!) 

It's nice to see it all coming together now.  It's very  much how I imagined it would look, so I'm quite pleased.  I'll be happier when I know if my partner likes it ... :-) 

    Monday 27 June 2011

    Modern Sewing ...

    Damiel - my 1958 Novum

    How strange, following on from the whole Wings of Desire/Peter Falk theme, that this is also the week I officially retired Damiel, replacing him with a brand new machine.  

    My first.

    I didn’t want 70 stitches.  I wanted three - straight, zigzag & blanket.  

    Straight and zigzag are a given, but blanket stitch is not so easy to find on budget machines.  Good easy buttonholes (just in case I'm ever that brave) too.  Anything else, like embroidery,  I'd rather hand sew.

    The needle threader had to be easy and non-fiddly or no bloomin point, same for the bobbin too.  I also wanted a stop/start button and speed control, because I think it might make chain piecing a dream, for me anyway.  I couldn't afford a stitch regulator in any brand so that was off the list.

    I spent hours at my LQS, the Brighton Sewing Centre, trying out machines. I had it down to a couple of Janomes and a Brother.  I’m a bit anti-Brother, I don’t really know why.  They have a reputation for bouncing all over the place, but I didn’t find that.  They all felt like lifting a kitten compared to the tonnage at home!

    I swapped allegiance at the last moment (it was the bobbin and stitch dial that did it in the end) and went for the very basic Brother Innov-is 10!  I only need a basic machine to make some things easier.  I realised in the shop that there is no way I would give up using Damiel completely until I can afford something soopah doopah.  Right now, this will do very nicely.


    I’ve NEVER sewn with anything made after 1975, so I knew it was going to be different, and that it’ll take some getting used to, but I’m yet to fall totally head over heels with ‘modern’ machines. 

    Those things that I find brilliantly convenient about them – lightness, quietness, pre-set control – are the things that actually made sewing with an older machine, like the Novum, a much more tactile experience. 

    Yes, the Brother can do everything that I ask it to, but it’s a little robotic.  All the machines I tried, right up to the £800 ones sounded and felt just a bit reluctant.  They lacked the enthusiasm (read raw vroom vroom motor) that my 50s semi-industrial all metal machine has in spades. 

    Of course, the downside of an amazing belt driven motor is that pedal to the metal like being a teenager in a Lamborghini.  The upside of that is that you learn how to read and coax the machine with the smallest of tweaks as you sew.  You are physically at one with your fabric and machine, man.  It’s give and take.  You learn from your machine.

    It’s like the difference I feel between using a non digital SLR and using a point & shoot digital camera on auto.

    Damiel is stored behind the sofa for easy access! Just in case I feel the need for a bit of mechanical connection and wild, head-out-of-the-window speed. I’m going to use all that learning to keep practising my FMQ on him.  Speed plus slipperiness underfoot and a huge harp is good, but I need to master the basics first.


    RoboSew really replaces my 1975 {Mrs}Singer.  I’m going to freecycle her – she still works really well, but is just a bit too frumpy for me.  She was my first machine and she will make someone very happy and they will love her and make beautiful things with her. Tension issues 'n' all.

    All that grumpiness about 'the new' aside, I love the fact that RoboSew, as the Brother has been named, is going to help me whip through easy sewing  - I do have to admit that it really is about 5 times faster for piecing! - there’s a lot less fiddling about -  and it’s going to give me much more controlled practice of Free Motion Quilting.  

    I'm looking forward to learning to override some of the controls.  ... and yup,  I'm loving the stop/start button thing! 

    Onward & Upward eh?

    When you’ve replaced a beloved machine, did you find it difficult to bond, or did you just fall straight into easy serial monogamy ?

    my creative space (literally)

    --- edited to add 21st July 2011 --- If you've popped over from Pink Chalk Fabrics, 
    please have a good look round - there's plenty to see and read!

    So, things had come to a pretty pass really.  I’m so busy at work and there are so many things out of my control there that I decided last weekend to make my home a bit more welcomingly homely.  Read tidy.  Organised.  Different.  A pleasure to come back from work to.  Not just to hibernate in.

    Cue much furniture moving, dustbunny discovering, asthma attack inducing, back-aching effort to get there … but worth it when you see what a hellish pit it was to start off with! …





    every drawer, cupboard & shelf. 
    cleaned & sorted.




    … and ready for this ... 

    introducing RoboSew:



    Sunday 26 June 2011

    In praise of Peter Falk & Wings of Desire

    So, farewell Peter Falk.  You are a King in this household.

    Let’s face it, nothing much can top the comfort combo that is jimjams, cup of tea, bit of toast + reruns of Columbo. 

    … all those 50s A-List actresses with false eyelashes, kaftans and drink problems, all those hearthrobs … like Ricardo Montalban or Johnny Cash in varying degrees of orange.  It was the 70s … 

    See, you’re smiling already aren’t you?

    But Peter Falk was so much more than Columbo to me.

    He was also in my favourite film of all time - Wings of Desire, 1987, directed by Wim Wenders, and written by Wenders and Peter Handke


    For those of you who’ve been visiting a while, you’ll know that my 1958 Novum is named Damiel, after Bruno Ganz’s angel, who craves the experience of feeling what it is to be human, to exist, and to feel.

    This film is beautiful and calm, philosophical and poignant, bleak and romantic. It’s in German/English, black & white/colour. Here's the breathtaking library scene with all the angels, you don’t need subtitles:

    Peter Falk plays himself. His role is pivotal to the whole story.  He facilitates Damiel’s transformation.   In reality he wasn’t even cast until the film had started shooting … yet it's impossible to imagine the film without him.

    In this scene, Damiel (Ganz) meets Falk (Falk) at the imbiss stand …   How bleak Berlin looks … beautiful and bleak all in one film. Yum.


    If you’ve seen it, you’ll understand.  If you haven’t seen it, then there are no real spoilers there … give it a well-deserved viewing.

    This is  Handke’s poem, which winds itself through the film, and is a fitting farewell to Peter Falk, who charmed my socks off with the open child-like honesty of his acting …

    Song of Childhood (click here for original German)
    When the child was a child
    It walked with its arms swinging,
    wanted the brook to be a river,
    the river to be a torrent,
    and this puddle to be the sea.

    When the child was a child,
    it didn’t know that it was a child,
    everything was soulful,
    and all souls were one.

    When the child was a child,
    it had no opinion about anything,
    had no habits,
    it often sat cross-legged,
    took off running,
    had a cowlick in its hair,
    and made no faces when photographed.

    When the child was a child,
    It was the time for these questions:
    Why am I me, and why not you?
    Why am I here, and why not there?
    When did time begin, and where does space end?
    Is life under the sun not just a dream?
    Is what I see and hear and smell
    not just an illusion of a world before the world?
    Given the facts of evil and people.
    does evil really exist?
    How can it be that I, who I am,
    didn’t exist before I came to be,
    and that, someday, I, who I am,
    will no longer be who I am?

    When the child was a child,
    It choked on spinach, on peas, on rice pudding,
    and on steamed cauliflower,
    and eats all of those now, and not just because it has to.

    When the child was a child,
    it awoke once in a strange bed,
    and now does so again and again.
    Many people, then, seemed beautiful,
    and now only a few do, by sheer luck.
    It had visualized a clear image of Paradise,
    and now can at most guess,
    could not conceive of nothingness,
    and shudders today at the thought.

    When the child was a child,
    It played with enthusiasm,
    and, now, has just as much excitement as then,
    but only when it concerns its work.

    When the child was a child,
    It was enough for it to eat an apple, … bread,
    And so it is even now.

    When the child was a child,
    Berries filled its hand as only berries do,
    and do even now,
    Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw,
    and do even now,
    it had, on every mountaintop,
    the longing for a higher mountain yet,
    and in every city,
    the longing for an even greater city,
    and that is still so,

    It reached for cherries in topmost branches of trees
    with an elation it still has today,
    has a shyness in front of strangers,
    and has that even now.
    It awaited the first snow,
    And waits that way even now.

    When the child was a child,
    It threw a stick like a lance against a tree,
    And it quivers there still today.

    What are you waiting for?  … Go throw your sticks or find your trees, people …

    Monday 20 June 2011

    Ooh! I won!! – and - Ooooh! One of You Won Too!

    How great is this?? – I won a fat quarter bundle of Erin McMorris’ new line ‘Summersault’ from Fat Quarterly.  They ran a fab interview with her here

    I really like some of the prints in this line … I’m planning a little something for my god-daughter, so this could be perfect …

    But you don’t wanna know about that …

    You want to know which one of you is a winner.  And of What …

    Well, here’s the story - the wonderful Wandafish, (aka Angela) who won my little ruby star rising giveaway from The Eternal Maker – emailed me immediately to say

    "In the spirit of pay it forward (I remember you giving away RSR precious scraps before it was released) and as I don't have a blog myself, I wondered about offering half of my prize for a giveaway?"

    Click on this fabtastic hexagon block to go see more at her flickr photostream

    Hexagon block

    Thank you so much for being so generous … Angela ... we love Paying it Forward :)

    So, out comes the old random number generator again … and the surprise winner of 2 FQs or 4 Fat Eighths or whatever you like, of Ruby Star Rising

    is ….


    Yay! Congratulations to …….

    Vicky @ Patchwork Palace
    192 com 

    Such a great comment too! …

    Vicky’s just made this stunner for the BritQuiltSwap on flickr …

    Finished brit quilt - The Bird Feeder

    I’ve flickr mailed you Vicky … Congratulations !!

    Tuesday 14 June 2011

    Cool Flickr Search Thingy - FlickrHiveMind

    Have you discovered FlickrHiveMind yet?  It’s a great little search tool -

    Brit Quilt Swap - Harlot's Web Quilt Top - 2011 -

    I stumbled on it it by accident because yesterday’s blog post picture apparently appeared on Explore on Flickr - it’s one of those ‘interesting picture of the day’ things that I have no idea what the pre-requisites for being chosen are!

    DQS10 - Gee, It's a Bloody Mary Bendy Blockrubystarrising searchAnyway, I was jolly chuffed - and then after a bit of entirely mindless clicking  - I found myself on a list of “The World’s Best Photos of Ruby Star Rising”  - LOL!  Talk about hype -- but anyway, I was super delighted to see that my DQS10 Bloody Mary quilt was on there … I guess this search engine is based on activity/number of hits/comments or summat?

    when I searched my flickr user name - this is what came up …


    It’s lovely - you can search by date or ‘interstingness’ etc. and there are different page views … I liked the thumbnail view …

    The World's Best Photos by Sarah @ PingsAndNeedles - Flickr Hive Mind 2011-06-14 20-13-16

    You can also search any of your tags and it will show all other pics on flickr with that tag … you get the picture?  Hours of endless timewasting opportunities here I think …

    FlickrHiveMind is above all a great image search engine for flickr content.  Give it a go!

    Monday 13 June 2011

    BQS Quilt Top 2011 - Harlot's Web

    So, just a quick update on my Brit Quilt Swap project today ...

    I've called this block (temporarily) Harlot's Web because she's been such a minx so far ... It was all very well just doing one block for a sample!

    How many strips??

    Too many, that's how many!

    I honestly don't know how people have the patience to do this for a whole quilt, but if the blocks were bigger I guess it would be different!

    These come in at 7" each, so they're quite fiddly for me.

    All those seams ... gah! ...

    My beloved machine has been very sick since day one of this little project - so far we have gone through 9 needles!

    Luckily a lot of them were when doing the foundation bits, so I wasn't using my very best, but still ... it was more the time it took to replace and re-thread (!) grrr!

    But this weekend I just sat down and thrashed through it all in one long long session.

    Anyway, now I'm at basting and quilting stage, so am ready to have a lovely peaceful hand quilting session.

    I'm just delighted that I even managed to get this far.

    I do hope you're going to like it, partner! It's a real labour of love.

    Wednesday 8 June 2011

    YOU interview Melody Miller - Yay!

    Ok People - the time has come to reveal the wonderful Qs set by you, my loyal stalkers, and the even more wonderful As from the lovely Melody.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer so brilliantly, Melody :)
    Pictures from Melody’s web album

    Do you find being a fabric designer to be more or less restrictive than being a painter?
    Question from WordyGirl

    Hmmm. I can say I enjoy being a fabric designer more than I enjoyed being a painter. I love the act of painting, but I never found a sense of community as a painter, or a place where I belonged. It was a pretty isolating endeavor.

    Here's a funny story: one day, a good friend took me and a car full of my paintings to a well-known gallery here in Atlanta. He was acquaintances with the curator and hoped that she would give us a little of her time. Well, she was quite busy, so she sent her assistant out to speak with us.

    This young woman (who was probably in her mid-20's, as was I) was SO snooty and condescending that it was almost funny to speak to her. She asked where I lived, and before I could finish telling her, she dismissed my location as irrelevant. She lived in town, she informed us. 

    Once she had thoroughly asserted her superiority, she condescended to walk outside with us and look at my paintings. As we were stepping onto the sidewalk, the pointy heel of her designer shoe got stuck in a crack in the pavement. She tried to pull it out and continue walking, but it wouldn't budge. She ended up having to remove her foot from the shoe and pry it out of the sidewalk with both hands.
    It was a moment I enjoyed very much:)

    Are there any colors you really DON'T like/want to use? Question from Laurel

    I don't think so! I try to keep an open mind about color, because a specific color that I don't prefer might be the perfect compliment to a color I love. Also, color is so emotional and evocative of a time and place, that I like to play with it in groups rather than individually. If a color contributes well to the group, I will love it like my own child. If it is a favorite but doesn't play well with others, I will give it the boot.


    You put such unusual but lovely colours together. Do you use tools like colour wheels and such to get your matches or do you work from intuition?
    Question from Janet

    I mostly play with color in Photoshop, so I just adjust my colors as I work to make them relate together as groups. Once I have a group I like, I'll try to apply it to a variety of designs.

    If I have 4 colors that work beautifully in one design, I'll often find that I can do nothing with them in another design. So, I will find a few new colors that work well and add them to my palette. This goes on and on and on... I tend to feel my way around until I have colors I'm happy with. 

    Often, I'll come back a few days later, feel shocked and alarmed at my ghastly choices, and start the whole business over again:)

    What medium do you use to start your idea for a design? Pencil, paint, computer, etc...? Question from Flo

    My best talent is drawing, which I have always done in the traditional way on paper.

    However, with a Wacom tablet, I can draw in Photoshop the same way that I can draw on paper, but make quicker edits. So that's how I've been working the past several years… 

    I draw directly into Photoshop (or occasionally Illustrator) and save my drawings on my computer.

    My question would be: what do you do with ideas that don't get produced into fabric lines? Do you forget them, shelve them for another time, rework them for future projects? Question from Xerxia

    I am like your thrifty Great Aunt Myrtle in that I don't waste anything I draw or design.

    When I'm doing new work, I look back through my files of older drawings and designs, and will often find a way to repurpose an old drawing. With digital files, it's so easy to change the color or scale of something to make it work beautifully in a new design.

    If I draw a heart once, I save it, and for the rest of my life if I need a heart in my design, that's the one I'll use. If I do new work that I'm not crazy about, I'll save it and salvage parts of it later.

    I loved the little baby dress Melody mentioned on her blog, made out of her fabric... does she ever plan to do any of her prints on different fabrics bases, like voile, or light cotton/linen, etc...? Question from jennifer R

    Kokka really picks the fabrics, not me. I would love to do as many substrates as possible, and that's one great benefit to working with Kokka… their fabrics are amazing. I'm always excited to see what they'll choose next.
    By the way, the Spring collection that will be in stores soon is on a lovely lightweight linen/cotton blend. It's a soft, breezy fabric that is perfect for spring and summer.

    I would like to know where she goes, or what she does to find her peace?
    Question from Erica

    Weirdly, I work to find my peace.
    I LOVE designing and sewing and making things. When I was making my elephants and was a one-woman sweat shop, that wasn't so fun, but experimenting and problem-solving and figuring out how to make things is a very peaceful, engaging process for me. I do get a little stressed and overwhelmed at times, but I just keep switching activities which seems to do the trick.
    I'm an introvert... what can I say?

    What is one crafty thing you would like to learn? For example, I sew and quilt. I would love to learn to crochet. Is there any skill you wished you had? Question from Jennifer

    I wish I was better at creating 3-dimensional things. 

    I've never been a big fan of doing sculpture or pottery and I have a hard time understanding how to make fabric drape around a human body, or how to create a 3-dimensional stuffed object. 

    I'm really good at things that are flat:)

    If you could choose one person to have lunch with, who would it be?
    Question from Eve

    I. have. no. idea.

    The idea of having lunch with someone really cool makes me all sweaty and anxious. 

    I can just see all the lunch faux-pas waiting to happen: 

    The sushi bite that is too big for your mouth.
    The piece of lettuce the size of your head.
    The drippy sandwich,
    The oh-my-god-this-has-so-much-garlic pasta,
    The sizzling plate whose scent you will wear the rest of the day

    .... now I'm all stressed.


    Do you listen to music when you design and if so what are you listening to at the moment?
    Question from Gwenllian Myfanwy

    I got the ‘This American Life’ app on my iphone, and listen to podcasts while I sew. If I get really absorbed in a story from a podcast, I can work without feeling anxious to finish or overwhelmed by a long process. However, If I'm trying to do anything that requires words or linear thinking,
    I just have to have silence.

    I'd love to know what inspired her to fearlessly design fabrics with attitude that may not be popular with all in the quilting world?
    Question from Sheetal

    Oh, what can I say? :)
    I don't worry too much about what is popular, I just try to do work that I'm attracted to, and trust that others will feel similarly. 

    I was shocked to learn that at Spring Quilt Market, many of the shops that bought my line did not buy the bee print. They were a little turned off at the idea of having a large bug on their fabric. Also, some people thought it was a fly. WHATEVER! 

    I think the bee is super-cool, and will make an amazing skirt amongst other things, and have now given myself the challenge of making people COVET THE BEE. 

    Repeat after me: I LOVE THE BIG BEE. [I do love the big bee - Pings]

    Honestly, if I had heard the same of any of the other prints, I would have just shrugged my shoulders and thought, "it's not for everyone". 

    But the bee! The bee is really cool!


    Where does Miss Melody find her inspiration? Outside herself, or does it come more from the inside Melody? Question from Trisha Too

    I am particularly fascinated with vintage things, so that's one major source of inspiration. Mostly, just seeing all the beautiful work out there will inspire me to try and create something of my own. I'm am forever in awe of people who create beautiful and unexpected things.


    Are there any images or image combinations that you can't ever see yourself using in a design? maybe you think it's overdone, or you had a childhood fear of something? everyone has their interesting quirks, I'm curious what Melody's is!
    Question from Amykins

    I don't keep a list or anything, but if I see that lots of people are doing something (like owls, for instance), I'll probably avoid it. I've always been terrified of bees, but alas, they're in my new collection. And deer are now overused, but I still like the designs I did that have deer in them. I'm not sure there's a theme here... I like when an element adds to the interest of the design, but if that element is a little too trendy, I'll try to avoid it.

    After the journey of your career so far, what advice would you give to someone starting out trying to make a business from their creative work? Question from Meagan

    I don't feel qualified to offer advice as much as support. I would say just keep trying.

    Feeling discouraged is as much of the process as anything else, so don't interpret that as a sign to quit. 

    If one thing doesn't work, or sell, or get the attention you would hope, try something else.

    Just keep trying.

    So, that wraps up our little journey into Melody’s brain! How great was that?

    Thank you so much to everyone who contributed questions, and of course to Melody for being such a sport! I really enjoyed this little Melody Miller fest!

    I’ll be having another one just as soon as Ruby Star Spring is released … wait and see what delights I can rustle up for that one!

    Sunday 5 June 2011

    Winner - Eternal Maker Ruby Star Rising Giveaway!

    Apologies for the tardiness in posting a winner, but I’ve been unable to log directly in to Blogger to upload my posts!  I think everything’s fine now, fingers crossed.


    This means that Melody’s Interview will be coming to your screens sometime in the next couple of days too!  Melody had the answers back to me pretty much next day, so, my bad.

    eternal with addressbutton companyWow! What a great response to this giveaway - thank you all! It was great to see how many button fans there are out there -

    My oh My … what lovely choices! … I’m still working through snooping on some of your choices!


    There were 192 comments PLUS I added the 20 bonus entries from the Melody Miller Questions Giveaway.

    rsretmaSo … without further ado … the winner of 4 Ruby Star Rising FQS of your choice from The Eternal Maker
    is …








    number 176











    WandaFish aka Angela !!

     Congratulations Angela! 

    wandafish 176

    Looks like all those chances paid off!  You are a lucky lady! 

    And I’m not jealous, oh no.  Not a bit.   Not at all.   No-No-No.   Nuh Huh. 

    So commiserations to the rest of us eh? 

    Keep your eyes peeled for Melody’s wonderful interview later this week … You guys asked some great questions, and she gave some fantastic answers! 

    And congrats again to AngelaThumbs up  (I’ve emailed you!)


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