Thursday, 28 July 2011

Put a Bird on it

I do like an appliqued bird, and it is a very good way of using up scraps.

The pigeon was my first attempt a few years ago - featured on 'Sheila's backyard' quilt. It all went swimmingly (the sequin eye was a moment of brilliance) until it came to the feet. Not being used to metallic embroidery thread, I rather overdid it and they ended up looking like wiggly worms. Still, Liverpool pigeons often have deformed and mutated feet, so they'll do.

Pigeon toes
Pigeon sequin eye and beads

Monday, 18 July 2011

Spilt Beads and Bent Needles

I'm not too sure about these pesky embellishments, did I make the right decision?

Firstly, despite a number of friendly warnings about bead containers left un-lidded on side tables, I have managed to upset said containers at least 4 times so far. I am not sure if anyone has invented a machine for picking up tiny tiny beads from finely ridged mats (other than a hoover), but I have had to resort to licking my finger to create enough 'stick' to get each bead up. I reckon a couple more spillages and I might just hoover up the lot and be done with them. Also beading needles are so fine that if I sneeze they bend.

Secondly, I am just not quite sure about the result....take Vajras for instance (remember them from first post?) - well this is a Vajra:
and this is my beaded version:

Circle of Vajras
Now squint and look from a distance...

One nice thing is that in the sunlight it now sparkles.
Thirdly there is the embroidery issue. I'm just not that good at it yet. I would like to be really good. Each Mandala gate will have a beaded curtain effect (at least I think that is what they are). My first attempt is ok (again with a squint)...
The North Gate (I think)

Lovely beads
....but then there are the 4 corner bits which I was really excited about, because I got to use some beads I bought on a whim online last month (lovely lovely beads like little sweets). The beads are yummy but the hand embroidery doesn't stand close scrutiny. Maybe a C minus. I thought of redoing it, but have decided to embrace the process of creative learning. However I have now bought a book, so expect to see improvements forthwith.
Not so lovely embroidery

Great Great Grandma's book of samplers
I have some pictures of a book of samples completed by my great great grandmother (born 1856), who was a dressmaker in Manchester - her embroidery seems to have stood the test of time. Maybe in the year 2146 some great great grand niece will be looking at the Mandala family heirloom and wondering about her ham-fisted great great aunt...

Sunday, 10 July 2011

More Crocheted Scarves!

So remember the granny square scarf that caught the eye in the flop series Jericho? (forget the big themes like nuclear Armageddon - pay attention to the fine crocheted details). Well this week when watching a film called Bright Star I was riveted by some incredibly beautiful crocheted pieces.

Crocheted cardigan in Bright Star
Some quick googling revealed the designer to be a woman called Sophie Digard. Her work is a positive inspiration. I was overwhelmed by the harmonising earthy hues of the yarns she uses...and the originality of the patterns.

This search led to a number of blogs where other like-minded enthusiasts were extolling her virtues - and on one of them I discovered this incredible site where you can download the most delightful patterns: Drops design. Looking at some of these designs I can just imagine myself walking along a white beach with the waves lapping at my feet and my crocheted shawl thrown carelessly over my crisp white cotton shift.

I will definitely be revisiting that site....once I get around to finishing the jumper I started knitting 2 years ago....and the crocheted afghan blanket I started last year....summer just seems to be the wrong time of year for handling wool.

Crochet granny squares - a work in progress - my first crochet

Thursday, 7 July 2011

More Tricky Prayer Flags

'Quilts with Style' Tibetan Prayer Flag Quilt 
Next installment in the mandala saga: so, whilst looking for inspiration to make my midget mandala into a bed cover sized piece, I was flicking through my stash of old quilting magazines and serendipitously stumbled on Quilts with Style July/August 2004 (yes I really have kept it for 7 years but it is a good one). Who would believe it but they actually have a Tibetan Prayer Flag quilt (left)!! The quilt in question is rather fine, but I thought I could borrow the idea to make a border. 
It was a little bit more tricky than I had first anticipated and the whole project was almost sabotaged by some overenthusiastic hoovering too close to my design layout of little fabric pieces on the living room floor. Having picked said pieces out of the hoover bag and wiped off the hoover bag juice (what is that anyway??!) I managed to piece the border without too much problem (don’t look too closely - some points got blunted).

Border before finishing off
So again in the end I seem to have made another HUGE quilt, this one being a square, but having tested the size/shape on a bed it should look fine (watch out for sharp edges poking the eyes).
Then a simple matter of hand quilting to the backing (in the sunshine whilst listening to corny romance audio CDs) and now for the fun bit - Embellishments! 

Quilt roughly finished (after hand quilting, before embellishments)