Monday, 20 May 2013

Aligning Stars

This last weekend the stars were in alignment and I actually made it down to Cowslip Workshops in Cornwall. There have been many classes that I have wanted to join in with but for a variety of reasons it just hasn't happened but I so wanted to do this one. A whole weekend with Petra Prins from Holland and a workshop on Mariner's Compass all in the delightful setting that is at Cowslip. I urge anyone coming to the UK for a trip to put it on the agenda and go and see it for yourself. It is such a peaceful place, it calms your soul but nurtures the creative energies at the same time. You will get the friendliest greeting from Jo and her staff. The shop is well stocked and the food is great.

First task was to choose fabrics and as you may guess mine had to have some pink. Then came the cutting out. This was to be a hand piecing project and all the pieces were speedily cut out using a rotary cutter and the specialist plastic templates that were non slip. They were easy to see through too for fussy cutting. The templates had little holes for marking the seam lines and matching up points crucial to making a piece of patchwork that would lie flat.  Petra did say that it could be machine pieced too but not for us this weekend. ( Guess who got to sit at the pink cutting board?).

Stitching all the components wasn't difficult so long as you got things in the right order. We were all eager to see how it was  going to look and every single one looked great. You can see more on Petra's blog.

The weather was glorious and so Marie my travelling companion and I set off to the coast at Bude for a fish and chip supper which we ate overlooking the sea. Back at our delightful B&B we opened a bottle of wine and carried on stitching. My main task was to get all my pieces in order and pinned to my pressing mat so that the following day I could chain piece. This lovely little quilt was on the wall in my room.

On the Sunday we carried on stitching and by the end of the afternoon the circle was complete. Choosing fabrics I find is the hardest part of the process. Petra was very helpful and I came away with lots of ideas and more fabric. I stuck with my original choice for the background. It is a tricky one but I think it will be worth it. I would love more of the pink stripe that I have used in the narrow border, if only I could remember where I had it from. The setting in of the inner and outer circles were done at home. The little stripe is not yet sewn down. I am taking time now to live with it before I decide the next move.

This is Petra signing her new book. It is a must have book called Promenade dans un jardin Hollandais, co written with An Moonen. It is a Quiltmania book with text and instructions in French and English.

Hanging up in the workshop were some of the quilts from the new book and I can tell you they are even better up close and personal. I just love the centre of this quilt and it has now gone onto the list of quilts to make.

No blog post of mine would ever be complete without a hexagon sneaking in and I would happily have taken this one home. It is beautiful and with some surprising fussy cutting of fabrics that you would not expect.

This was a little quilt but exquisite and I think we all adored this one.

We were well looked after, plenty of tea/ coffee and cake in the afternoon. This was called Hummingbird cake and topped with crystallised flowers, pansies in this case. It looked far too pretty but in the end it got eaten.

In the shop there are quilts everywhere and this one high up in the rafters looked pretty good.

I wish I took better photographs as these two quilts were very pretty.

All too soon the day came to an end and time to go home. I had the most wonderful two days, good food, great company and I hope I can repeat it again and soon. Looking forward to Petra coming back again.

Happy stitching.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Stokie Girl

I was born in Stoke on Trent, home of the finest tableware ever produced and occasionally I get the urge to go back to my roots. We did the Staffordshire Moorlands bit for my husband and so it was my turn to do my heritage trail.

First stop was Wedgwoods. Coincidentally, there was a programme on TV whilst we were staying there all about master potter Josiah Wedgwood, the most famous potter and he certainly gave his all to producing the fine china for which he gave his name to. He practiced and practiced over and over until he had the perfect product, carefully documenting each process.

This is he stood outside the entrance to the shop and museum. Apologies for the darkness of these pics but hopefully you will be able to click and enlarge and see them a bit better.

There is much to see in the museum from beautiful crockery to jewellery with lots of video links. Wedgwood is probably most noted for it's Jasper Ware that has little white images in relief on a coloured background. In the museum is a handy computer generated gadget that can take a photo and portray your image as it would look on a piece of Jasper Ware.

This is me.

This bruiser is my husband.

We found a snatched hour to meet up for a cuppa in the cafe with Barbara Chainey. Another fellow Stokie.

At the end of the week we had a visit to the Burleigh Pottery. Currently it is my favourite everyday tableware and the factory shop is a must place to visit. Click on the link to read about this wonderful piece of our heritage and also follow the link to see Prince Charles on You Tube. Ha! Love that Stokie accent.

The entrance to the pottery works looking above at the beautiful tiles, notice all those clamshells.

This is called a bottle oven and at one time they dominated the area belting out smoke as they fired and cooked the pottery inside. The area was known as Smoke on Trent. Now there are only a few and this is the only one left standing at Burleigh. Burleigh and the area surrounding is being regenerated by a grant from Prince Charles and his Trust. In my opinion they are doing a great job and a good deal of the terraced housing is being revamped into smart looking homes. Anything which helps to save this wonderful heritage of ours has to be a good thing. This is one of a few Pot Banks left that makes everything from start to finish.

This week, on the sewing front the perfect fabric presented itself to me for the scalloped border for the centre of Hertfordshire. Already in my stash. It needed a bit of re jigging and drawing to get the scallops in the right place and hopefully you can see how I did it. I made a little template out of tracing paper and drew the outline of the flower motif so that it could be centred over each one along the line. I marked it with a General white charcoal pencil.

It was placed on the background, pinned in place and tacked down ready for appliqué. Nearly there with it and I am pleased.

Not sure where I go from here with this. Will just sit and stare at it for a while I think.

Happy Stitching.