Saturday, 30 January 2010

Oxfam shop find

I bought this lamp base at Christmas in the local Oxfam shop, It's in some sort of spelter which looks like brass. I thought it was a bit expensive at £19. Is it me or are they getting fancy with their prices nowadays? I can remember the times when they were glad if you spent £2 on a visit...Anyway, I liked the look of it and knew with DH's help that it could be good.

So it needed some wood adding to the inside base at it was rough metal and then after he glued that in place I cut up an old mousemat with a super non-slip base (thanks Dell) and glued that on the bottom. It had all been electrically tested by the way so I knew it was safe (perhaps that's why it cost so much).

What I did realise was it would be hard to find a suitable shade in Keswick, so I decided to make one. Not a job I have ever found difficult as I have done it before, but where can you buy lamp shade frames? I thought it would be easy on the internet but no, it was not......So I turned to my magician once again and hey presto..

A man who makes scratch built 'O' gauge railway engines can do anything and has all the tools to boot. So he cut out the ring for the frame and ordered the wire from his suppliers and when it came, soldered it all together as neatly as could be.

Back to me then.. so I had to match his efforts and decided to make my own silk paper shade. Now if you don't have an old one to model the new one on its not easy; you need some maths, because you need to know how to make 'a frustum cone'. "The formula is the same as making a cone for a boiler" he said, "I have it somewhere." Well he did and before long I had some shapes he made me in various sizes all cut out of old wallpaper.

Well this was becoming a family project and I really must NOT let the side down now. So this is my effort at the silk paper bit.
It is quite large and now I need to spray it all with fire retardant so that it is safe to use. This next photo is a close up of the paper I made with Mulberry silk and some Madeira thread with little tiny snippets of gold lamé.

That is as far as I have progressed but I intend to tackle the making up this weekend.

Meanwhile the quilt is progressing fairly well too and I did some more at the Cumbria Patchworkers meeting last Wednesday in Penrith. However, one of our members talked me into buying the boiled wool fabric below, after I admired the wonderful jacket she was wearing.  Well they just happened to have the fabric on sale downstairs she said "it's a bargain  not to be missed"......... I hope I am up to the challenge as I have not made a jacket for quite a few years. I think the last one was about 12 years ago when I made a pink Linton Tweed suit after another friend challenged me to make it.  Similar story she said you must buy the fabric its going cheap........Once I reached home I had this sudden thought, are shoulder pads in or out???? Oh yes she is also lending me her pattern so when it arrives maybe I will find out.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

I made a start

Well as you can see, I finally picked up the log cabin blocks I had started way before Christmas and managed to finish enough for the centre of a quilt.  I am not sure how it will progress from here, but the idea is not to do the whole thing in log cabin but to branch out now and play.... So wish me luck!

I also am using a new little lightweight sewing machine I bought for taking to Cumbria Patchworkers in Penrith and it is proving to be very useful as I bought with it a ¼ inch foot. I can highly recommend this Brother as it is just right for taking to class and even though I have a Bernina I find that this little beauty (hate to say this) does sew some seams better than my Bernina 1260....Also it does a better job of sewing on buttons and buttonholes and only cost me about £200 with an extra foot thrown in for free and a free quilting extension table too. I saw it on one website lately at only £175 so it is a bargain if you can get one. I showed it to a couple of our quilters at Penrith and they both went out and bought its big brothers....and report back that they are well pleased. I would say that sewing machines have improved so much over the last few years that you really don't need to spend a small fortune on the top of the range machines unless you want to specialise. However, when it comes to free machine embroidery, the CB shuttle on my Bernina is so wonderful (it oscillates) that it practically never jams even when I do the most complex stuff. So I will never stop using it, as I love it too much.

I have been busy making loads of silk paper examples for showing to the Keswick Embroiderers' Guild next month when I am showing them how to make it and also giving them some ideas for embellishment. I have a few projects up my sleeve including an exciting one which has involved my DH who has risen to the challenge magnificently and put down his 'O' gauge 'Wee Ben' for an hour or two to help me. For those of you who have spouses who are into railway engines, this is his blog on the subject.
petes workshop  And you thought making quilts was difficult.... bye for now.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

When it snows take comfort in food

Quiche is so easy to make that I wonder if it needs a recipe, but I made one yesterday and it was pounced upon almost immediately so maybe it is worth sharing it with you.

Shortcrust pastry (you decide how much you need)
4 free range eggs
4 rashers lean bacon
1 onion
4 -5 oz cheddar cheese
1 small pot double cream
some milk to make up to approx 16 fluid oz
freshly ground pepper black usually but white is ok

I make the usual shortcrust pastry but I always use unsalted butter because I don't like salty food and I never add salt to any recipe for pastry etc. I always bake the pastry blind using baking beads on some greaseproof paper to ensure the base is crisp. So I line the tin with pastry and prick the base and bake for approx 15 mins.  Meanwhile I fry 4 rashers of good lean bacon with an onion but not so it goes brown; just gently. I mix 4 free range eggs in a jug with a small pot of double cream (I am not too fussy about the cream quantity and usually add a bit of milk to it) The idea is to have about 16 fluid oz of eggs and cream so not quite a pint. Add pepper to taste.

Then I take the cooked base out of the oven and add half the grated cheddar cheese and then layer on the onion and bacon and add half the cream and egg mixture then add the last of the cheese and finally finish with the rest of the egg.  Voila, bake at 180 for 20 mins and then I lower the temp a bit to 170 and give it another 20 -25 mins. This all depends on your oven as you know they are all quirky....Mine has to have the quiche turned half way through otherwise it cooks one side quicker than the other. The tin is a 10 inch one. Oh by the way the photo shows I used up the left over pastry round the edge, I was not bothered about this because it was for us so know one would care and I don't like to waste pastry.

I made this every other day when we had the Derwentwater Restaurant and  I sometimes varied it by using different cheeses and adding other things like smoked salmon, courgettes, brocolli etc. I am glad that I do not run a restaurant anymore though, it was hard work. Anyway, the rest of the quiche is for lunch which won't be long now, and this posting has made me hungry, bon appetite.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Is it Twelfth Night?

I have been trying to make sense of the info about when it actually is 12th night. Some say it was last night and some say it is tonight.  Does anyone know??? Too late to ask Shakespeare but I do love his play and have seen it performed in Kendal when I worked at the Brewery Arts Centre

On Skype the other night talking to my DD who lives in Palm Springs where she says it has been cold lately I couldn't help wondering how she would feel here as it is minus 4 tonight in Cumbria. I should imagine she would not like it at all. Anyway, she told me to look at this blog I think these little cat purses are so cute, don't you, and very clever.

Meanwhile, I found a photo of another embroidery which I forgot to add to last night's posting so here it is. I think it goes with the British weather at the moment, white and frosty looking. This was made on a lilac canvas background with silk paper made from Mulberry Silk Tops which gives it a lovely sheen. Then I added a few dried flowers to the silk paper before finishing it off with a third layer of silk. You can just see the dried seed heads. They were given the frosty treatment with shiny silver metallics from Madeira threads. The gold heart in the centre is based on a design made by my DD when she was at art college in Newcastle. This embroidery hangs above my bureau in my study and catches the light from a lamp on the left so that it shimmers.

Well it's getting late but I am still baking some bread because tomorrow we need fresh sandwiches as we are going on an expedition in the frozen wastes of Cumbria at the back of Thirlmere. These are places where the bogs are deep enough to come up to your waist if you happen to fall into them. So you do not venture there unless they are frozen and they are. Incidentally, so is Derwentwater: completely frozen right across and covered in snow. But this is straying into the realms of my other blog so go there if you want to see what I get up to when I am not sewing...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

I just wanted to say thanks

It occured to me that I have not put much of my own embroidery onto this blog for a while and I wanted to thank you dear readers for sticking with me whilst I was decorating and broadcasting etc.  So I thought I would show you some of the embroidery I enjoy doing. I know some of you probably can't do this type of embroidery yourselves and so maybe mine will be an inspiration to you this year of 2010!

First up is a little piece I made which is a particular favourite of mine because it seemed to work out so well.

I took some artist's weight canvas and painted it with the blue silk paint you see for a background. then I took some silk paper I had made in shades of green with added pieces of white silk and cut a rectangle out of it. This gave me a framework with a shaggy outside and a good size rectangle for the inside. Onto this I appliquéd some pieces of fabric and some sheer pink organza and lastly I added 3 flowers I had made on my Janome embroidery only machine. I then added some pink fluffy Linton Tweed fibres taken from some material I had left over from them.  This was only the start. Next I placed all of this under my Bernina and started to embroider and it was stiff enough to not have to use any hoops, (the trick is to use strong artist's canvas for the background).  I usually do certain meander type doodles which seem to be my signature if you like and often add a large starburst, which you can see in the top right and bottom left corner in shiny pink. One more in the centre of the 3 flowers seemed to make the piece come together and that was that.

This next piece is much more complex but overall the idea was the same except I made 3 little fish on the Janome machine and cut one of them in two so that I could use the tail and the head to make it look as though more fish were swimming through the weeds.

I simply kept the silk paper loser and tucked the fish inside it here and there to give the illusion of depth. I also made some rather longer weeds down the left hand side by using some appliquéd threads and bits of ribbon.

Here you can see the idea I had about cutting one fish into two, it does mean I could get away with making less fish. I used the same type of machine embroidery techniques I described for the first piece but more densely.

This is the bottom of the piece and you can see I made a starfish and I worked more little scraps of fuzzy Linton Tweed fibres into the silk and teased it open here and there to push pieces inside so it gave the right impression.

Lastly, this is a more contemporary piece but still uses the artist's canvas only painted pale green, and onto it I dribbled some gutta percha in a sort of gold and let this set hard. Then I added sharp looking blocks of embroidered taffeta which I had cut into the shapes I needed after embroidering them. I attached these to the piece using machine embroidery and added a large swathe of  gold see through fabric across the front, as I wanted it to be bold. I embroidered it using my favourite glitzy threads from Madeira. This photo is just a detail of the centre area.

Well I do have more of this type of thing but I think you get the idea. I would add that I sometimes pad out the embroidery from the back before I frame it using quilters wadding and I never frame them  with glass over the top. I know they are more difficult to keep clean, but they do look better and if you just flick a duster carefully over them they seem to tolerate it very well. I love doing machine embroidery and I hope this has given you the confidence to have a go, it really is easier than it looks. You do not need to be an expert, just relax and play and let the needle do the drawing. Start by using appliquéd shapes or something if you feel your stitching does not stand up to close inspection and just couch them down around the edges with little swirls or lots of little circles joined with lines of stitching. Just keep trying and surprise yourself.