Sunday, 26 June 2011

Some lucky finds at Woolfest

Had a pretty good time at the Woolfest this year. What a feast of colour and texture.

I have visions of a future spent spinning by the fire in winter, harvesting plants for hand-dyeing yarns in spring and summer, then knitting/weaving/crocheting wonderful things in autumn...just have to get that tension right and I know I could be a really good knitter....

Anyway, am finding it a little difficult to focus on the Mandala quilt today as I am too excited about my lucky finds at Woolfest:

Slate buttons!!! Totally impractical for regular button holes but really quite fabulous.

I think they are Welsh slate, but could just as easily be Cumbrian.

Also, I think I have stumbled on THE BEST BUTTON SHOP IN THE WORLD: The Textile Garden - this stall was so popular that I had to sharpen my elbows to get to the trestles. Then I wanted just about every button.

I have no project in mind for buttons but that doesn't really matter. I am contemplating becoming a button collector.

Buttons from Textile Garden
Border from Textile Garden
They also have the most beautiful embroidered borders. Just look at these others on sale :

and then there was The Natural Dye Studio
Beautiful crochet and Bluefaced Leicester wool: I spotted a lovely granny square crochet scarf on the series Jericho so was delighted to find a pattern to make my own crocheted scarf, plus the wool which is beautiful and so soft. They also had an amazing crocheted blanket on display- I have bought the pattern but just have to improve my crochet technique before I try that one.
Jericho crochet scarf
Queenies SABINE crochet scarf
Bluefaced Leicester wool for scarf

Bessies CIRCLES blanket
 and finally, vintage knitting:
A Stitch In Time (Vol. 1) Vintage Knitting & Crochet Patterns 1920-1949 : Volume 1
by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford
Published by Arbour House Publishing Ltd
ISBN No: 978-0-9556206-2-1

Knitted bathing suits!! and so many more wonderful patterns. Having inherited some splendid vintage patterns from my great aunt, this book appealed. Watch this space, project 6052...

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Mandala-ing again

Prayer flag border

 So the tricky thing about this quilt has been the circles and curved seams, the straight lines being a relative breeze. Also, I was determined to get the right number of lotus petals so there was a bit of geometry and compass use involved (I am now the proud owner of a protractor for the first time since GCSE maths).

This was all whilst watching the Battlestar Galactica box set. So now every time I gaze at the centre of the mandala I get a slowed down version of 'All along the Watchtower' playing in my head.

The outer ring of 64 lotus petals that 'represent the purified state of mind and the nerves of the heart' was hand-sewn to Buffy the Vampire Slayer with red wine accompaniment.

Once the basic ring was complete the task was to set it in the centre of an even bigger square, because straight lines are much easier and bed shaped. I had bought a couple of Tibetan prayer flags a few years earlier (would you believe from a shopping centre off the M6?) with this quilt in mind. I wanted to incorporate these flags into the quilt and because the material is so flimsy I first had to sew them onto plain white cotton.

In doing this I have most certainly committed a huge faux pas. The idea is that these flags are hung in high places and when the wind blows the air is sanctified and purified by the Mantras, promoting peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. Because the mantras on the flags are sacred, they should be treated with respect and 'not placed on the ground or used in clothing'. Whoops.
The other oversight was that they are supposed to disintegrate as the images fade from exposure to the elements, 'just as life moves on and is replaced by new life'. I have to say I was warned, but I really liked these little fellas (wind horses).

Wind Horse

I started to panic a bit when I kept snagging threads with hangnails and needles - they definitely weren't going to stand the test of time. I did eventually find a solution to this, by sewing coloured organza* over the flags so now I have probably committed an even bigger sin, and I can almost hear these little trapped voices squeaking 'let me out'.

*Emergency organza shopping trip to Just Sew, my favourite friendly fabric shop

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The story of the Mandala Quilt - Part 1

Mandala Quilt in progress: Central piece
I am pretty sure I had never heard of Mandalas until I watched The Last Mimzy a couple of years ago. I immediately thought how perfect for quilting - geometric designs, simple colours and plenty of opportunity for embellishments, embroidery, beads, applique...the sky's the limit.

It took a lot of happy googling to decide on a design. I finally decided on a  Medicine Buddha Mandala. There are some incredible designs out there but some of them are a little too complicated for quilting. This blog here is a fantastic source for Tibetan and Nepalese are images.

So at this point I started collecting fabrics, which was a lot of fun and one of my favourite things to do. With the Amithaba Buddhist Centre picture (left) as a starting point, I tried to find fat quarters depicting special symbols like Dharma wheels, deer, Precious Parasols and Dramyen (tibetan guitars). I wasn't sure what some of the symbols were, like Vajras (I know how to draw these now but keep forgetting what they are). Although there are some lovely oriental fabrics available (such as in Fabric Inspirations), this bit  was tricky and I had to compromise. For example, it is convenient that the Dharma Wheel looks so much like a ship's wheel as there are quite a few nautical fabrics out there, but not many buddhist ones:
I had very little luck sourcing fabrics depicting 'precious parasols' , I think I went cross-eyed trawling my favourite fabric shops. I ended up with several metres of blue umbrella fabric, which was serendipitous because although completely wrong for the quilt, it made a good peg bag:

That is enough for today. Keep posted for the next thrilling installment of the story of the Mandala Quilt.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Dust collector

Caution: May induce Migraine in susceptibles

This funny little project was completed a year or two ago on special request. I spent a long time trying to find fabrics of special significance to this particular typewriter enthusiast. I had almost given up on finding a camera fabric when I found one in Australia would you believe! The final product initially made me a little cross-eyed but it has grown on me and it does the job. Dusting is something that happens rather too infrequently in our house, and I am sure there is scope for further creativity: Toaster dustcover, TV dustcover... 

First Post!!

Finally got round to making a blog page, with a little help from my friend.