Sunday, 25 July 2010



What a busy week I've had.  I went to to Stuttgart last Thursday - or, to be more precise, Sindelfingen, just outside Stuttgart, along with 6 students from school, aged between 14 and 17.

The aim was to take part in an international drama workshop with students from Germany, France and Poland - and hopefully I can post some photos of what we got up to.......

Now, I've been to Sindelfingen several times, and had always thought of it as a typically bland industrialised medium sized town - nothing of particular note.

But on the very first day we were treated to a tour of the Altstadt (the old town), and, hiddden away, were the glorious old buildings:

During the Middle Ages Sindelfingen was a weaving town, and therefore pretty wealthy.  These houses date back to about 1400 or so.

Although the world's biggest Mercedes-Benz complex is in the city, where aircraft were built during World War 2, somehow the centre of the town escaped the heavy bombing by the RAF unscathed, including parts of the original city wall.

St Martin's Church - originally part of a monastery, whose wealth subsided the creation of Tübingen university, about 35 kilometres away. It's an unusual church as although it's built in the Gothic style, it has a separate tower, in the Italian style - so has ended up as a German/Italian hybrid, in the Black Forest....

If you look closely, you can see how the end of the church joins the building next to it - originally one of the monastery buildings.

The strange cross shape in the centre of the inscription is the mediaeval way of writing '4' - it's half of '8' (the top half).... 

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Getting smaller

This week has been VERY busy workwise - sports day / Alton Towers / German exchange / Y11 prom, so I've focussed on getting some smaller things done.

Like this quilt top:

Now, other people have said that this is fine, but the top left hand corner isn't right, so I need to unpick it and restitch it (if even Mr Z&Z comments that its not good enough - I know it must be quite a glaring error!).

The top is about 8" square - I couldn't find anything sensible to photograph to give a sense of scale - at least, without moving off the chair - so in the interests of idleness, I put a pencil on it to give an idea of scale.

Of course, it still needs to be quilted - I'm hopeful that being so small, it will at least stand a chance of getting completed, as I won't be able to use my usual excuse of not being able to find a space large enough to lay it out flat......

The garden has been very productive - plenty of cherries:

a lot of which have just been bottled up in brandy (I'd hoped this was just a case of pouring it in neat, but no such luckl.  Lots of boiling up sugar syrup and poaching fruit, before putting it away.  And the lovely red colour seems to bleach out of the fruit as well).

This is the first crop that we've had from the tree - usually the birds get there well before us - but this year there was more than enough to go round.  I do wonder if the hard winter has meant a heavier crop, in some sort of way?

Friday, 2 July 2010

Pentrich Patchworkers and Barbara Chainey

And to Pentrich last weekend, to hear Barbara Chainey talk.  The event hadn't been very well publicised, but when I arrived, I remembered why.
Pentrich is a lovely little village, and the village hall is small.  With the chairs set out, there was enough room for 7 chairs side by side, a narrow aisle, and then another 2.  So a maximum of 9 people across the whole room.  I didn't count the rows back, but I'm sure that you can work out just how weeny the room was.

Teas and cake were being served, at the princely sum of 50p for a beverage, and 50p for a cake. 

Yes,  any cake at all from this whole selection.

The slices were enormous (and I'm sure it would have been rude not to have bought some...).

The hall was decorated with quilts - some still works in progress - that the Pentrich patchwork group had been doing as a round robin.  They'd drawn up a basic plan of rectangles and squares, placed their chosen fabric into a bag and then swapped it about, having blind faith that a year later their fabric would be returned to them, but now in a series of blocks to be assembled.

The variety was amazing:

At 2.00, Barbara took the floor, and spoke effortlessly for just over an hour about herself and her quilts, showing examples not just of her own work, but quilts that are in her collections. 

At the end, we were invited to 'rummage' about in her quilts, and there was a stampede to get up close to some of these amazing items.

To be honest, I was so busy having a good look at everything that I forgot to take my camera out.....

This is a small section of a quilt dating back to about 1880, I think, and bought at the Houston quilt show a few years ago.  It's now falling apart as it's so fragile (so perhaps allowing it to be mauled about by curious ladies with sticky hands isn't the best thing for it - just a thought...).
I love the colours.  The blocks aren't particularly difficult, but the stitching is beautiful - and all handpieced and quilted, of course.

I recognised this one at once - it's by Linda Straw, about whom I blogged last week.
The photos here are ones that I took - for others, I suggest that you take a peek at her blog, where she seems to be gradually uploading a lot of delicious images that are full of inspiration.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Linda Straw workshop

Last weekend I was lucky enough to go away for the weekend with 5 friends for a weekend of creativity.  I'd like to say that it was a weekend of quilting - but that was just a small part of it....

It was run by Linda Straw, who was an amazing bundle of energy, and an absolute inspriation (I just hope I have that much get-up-and-go when I get to her age - she left us all breathlesss!!).  She describes herself as a qulter extraordinaire - and when you see work like this, it's no wonder:

Yes - that's all done in silk, and with a sewing machine. 

As is this:

a dress with designs based on Revelations.

As Linda says herself, "Every stitch on the surface is by machine. Initially, the work is drawn on paper and transferred to fine vilene, the latter being incorporated within the work. Sewing from the back, through the design, the wadding, the silk fabric and appliqué silk the work takes shape. Only when all appliqué is in place do I turn over to embellish and embroider on the front. Large pieces are made in sections and then joined".

It would be lovely to report that after two days we were able to create similar works- no such luck!!
Stage 1 was drawing the intial design.  Now, I'm not really artistic at all - every now and then, when the nephews come to visit, we have a drawing competition, and I usually come last, even when no allowance is made for the fact that I'm 30 years older than them.....

Luckily, there were a lot of books to glance through for inspiration - otherwise I would probably still be there, chewing the end of my pencil and looking out of the window for ideas (just like being at school again!).

And this is what I ended up with!!

Not in silk - but in polysilk - a lot cheaper for practising with.  Still unfinished - but I'm hoping to crack on with it during the World  Cup football matches this afternoon.

I enjoyed it so much that I'm hoping to be able to sneak out of the house today to see if I can locate a purveyor of polysilk in Sheffield, to make another one.

And this is what everyone else came up with (please bear in mind that these are all unfinished...):

by Avis

By Janet - based on a stained glass window -

by Tisha

by Karen

by Di

And I now have so much more confidence in my machine sewing skills - I can't believe that all that stitching was machine produced!!!

The weekend included full board - and I mean FULL board - I was absolutely stuffed with excellent food and drink- and home made and home prepared.

This was my bedroom. 



SO - if you fancy doing something similar, I can heartily recommend it - in fact, I'm hoping that we can go back again next year!!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


I was lucky enough to go to the Malvern quilt show a few weeks ago, adn  two posts ago I put up a photo of a quilt that I hope to get started very soon. 

I really like going to the Malvern show - it's a much more manageable size than the NEC, and it always seems so friendly.

The weather was fabulous, and I wish I'd had enough battery power left in my camera to take some photos at lunchtime of the array of people scattered over the benches outside, nibbling at their packed lunches - the frugal and thrify quilters had come prepared - and then there were those who had decided to splurge on an ice-lolly.

I must have taken oodles and oodles of photos - here are some of my favourites:

The winner forth theme section - use of colour.  The attention to detail was fabulous.

I liked the playfulness of this one, done in varying fonts, all appliquéd on...

 The winner for best large wall hanging (I think), but Susan Brisco, done in sashiko.

This one I liked, as I have been lucky enough to visit New Zealand twice - but have never managed to create anything like this as a souvenir. 

Based on a Christmas card of 'The 12 days of Christmas' carol.

This last one won a certificate, along with a judge's comment about lovely choice of colour.  However, this quilt was run as a Block of the Month quilt by Antique Angel - maybe this particular person did it on their own to their own design, as it certainly wasn't listed as being a BoM in the show notes - but at least 1 person with whom I went had the whole set at home - in these colours - waiting to be assembled. Hmm.  There were plenty of other quilts in the show that had been made from kits /Block of the Month / commercial patterns - and they had cited it as such in the programme. 

This one was a group project - I liked the way it all seemed to blend together, yet each section was individual .....


This was the winner in the miniature section, and to show you just how small it was, here it is with the other miniature quilts.  Those aren't giant rosettes - theyr'e normal size - but those are teeny weeny quilts!

Quilted by the amazing Ferret  - on leather......

 A lovely pictoral quilt.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Derbyshire in late spring

I'm not sure whether it's actually summer yet - or whether it's still late spring.  The weather has been dreadful again today, and quite haphazard - one minute it's glorious sunshine, and the next, it's bucketing down.

Two weeks ago we met up with 2 friends for a (very) short walk in Derbyshire, at Over Haddon.  It was one of those days when you feel as if you could carry on rambling for much longer, but there was a pub, so we stopped to have a drink.  And then lunch. And then pudding.  By which point we were too full to walk much more without a little break....

View of Lathkill Dale

After the aforesaid repast, we tootled over to Birchover, for another (very) short walk - again, only about 90 minutes.  This time we went up to the Nine Ladies - a Bronze Age stone circle up on the moorland. I'm ashamed to say that it's one of those places that I have read about, and know that I should have gone to many years ago - but isn't it always the way, that the places right on your doorstep are the last that you visit?

First stop was the Cork Stone - so called because (apparently) it looks like a cork.  Not sure myself.

And then on to the Nine Ladies.  Now, at this point, I was very glad that I was in a small group, because, despite all the notices about 'no camping' and 'no fires', there were about 2 dozen or so people with campfires a-blazing, and with tents a-pitched.  They were lying and lolling about in the middle of the stone circle, and it almost felt as though we were the intruders - I felt as though I was trespassing - which is ridiculous, as this is open access ground -but there you are. 

Mr Z&Z told me not to be so silly, as I scuttled through - but I'd prefer to go back another day when I can have time to wander about a bit more and not feel as though I must rush through*.

It's quite unusual for a stone circle in that it's the middle of woodland, and is very quiet and contemplative.

According to legend, the nine ladies were turned to stone as a punishment for dancing on the sabbath, with the King Stone (set a little distance from the circle) being the unlucky fiddler who had been providing the music.

And at the end of the walk (well, not really - just before a slog up hill through woodland), here were these beauties:

Lovely Alpacas.

*After writing this, I googled Nine Ladies to check that I'd got the legend right - and apparently these are eco-protesters, who are campaigning against the expansionof the nearby quarry which would result in the destruction of the the area.