Tuesday
Sep212010

Do you want to come to Syria and Egypt with me?

We have set dates and costed the Syria and Egypt tour for next year. It will start on the 18th February next year. This time we have given the 'on the ground' costing and you have to book separately to get there and back - but Nick and the lovely team at Impulse can organise that for you.

It does not include a Nile Cruise but people usually go on and add this option in - it is a lovely thing to do but there is not enough that is textile-related to justify me joining you on that (which would mean that you would be paying for me). Those who go are accompanied by a lovely Egyptian Guide.

I love this trip. I lived for three and a half years in Syria and four and a half years in Egypt. You would not find many expert guides who know and love both countries so well.

The big advantage of a textile tour is not so much that you see textiles - but that you move off the standard tourist routes. Of course we see the Krak de Chevaliers

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and Palmyra

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and the old city of Damascus in Syria,

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and the Pyramids (Saqqara as well as Giza)

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and the Egyptian Museum in Egypt - but we also move off into areas where locals live and work and we get to know the country better with the insight this gives us.

You know that the group will all have something in common - most are not young and wanting to go to nightclubs in the evenings. Partners who come usually find that they love it - we have better opportunities for really wonderful photography than most tours offer.

We might walk in mud on some days - but always stay in good hotels, so there is a relief in walking into something comfortable and familiar.

I love to take people in to the best textile sites in the beautiful Old City of Damascus in Syria,

Damascus silk brocade

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and to the Tentmakers' Street

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tentmakers

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and the Dyers' Khan in old Cairo,

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and to Wissa Wassef - a truly stunning and joyful tapestry school - the best of all Egypt's long term projects.

Wissa Wassef

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If enough are interested we could add a few informal days earlier in the north of Syria to see Aleppo, the Dead Cities,

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the beehive houses,

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and Heike Webber's embroidery project - Anat

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- but that will depend on interest. It would simply be with me and a hired car and driver and not part of the formal tour.

Please contact Nick at Impulse - address right at the very top of this post. I wish I could remember how to put that link into Impulse tours!

Saturday
Sep182010

So many layouts....

I am dithering over another sample for Houston. For quite a while I have added to these blocks from time to time. I always demonstrate the technique in these hot colours, and the blocks have built up.

The class is called Shimmering Triangles, and you make very quick triangle sets, turn them into one of a dozen possible blocks that shimmer, and then place the blocks in the colour order you choose.

Any block that emulates, even vaguely, a half square triangle, can be placed in any of the log cabin layouts. for days I have been turning and changing blocks downstairs and trying to work out how I might sew this piece together. I will not quilt it as tops are lighter to carry - but I would like to stitch it before I go.

So here are the choices.

The simple, all pointing the same way, option.

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I was turning alternate rows and while it is not my favourite, I thought the hooks looked quite interesting.

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This is the log cabin layout usually called Barn Raising.

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Zigzags - I am leaning this way at the moment.

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Alternating light/dark squares on point. I have another sample in this setting, with a different block so do not think I will use it - but I do like this look.

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Another possibility - Zigzags with an occasional square.

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There is one other option. I have not tried it yet but I will try the zigzags with some huge flower blocks tucked in here and there - they are also oranges and reds. You will have to wait for this one as I am off to teach a class!

Please tell me if you have a favourite.

Friday
Sep032010

Houston Class

I have a class that I will teach at Houston called Free Motion Quilting with a Starter Scrap". It is a bit of a mouthful but it means what it says.

I supply the 'scraps' in the class as a kit, and people bring cut pieces to go around it. They make a little quilt.

We have a practice session with patterns that I demonstrate on small spare quilt sandwiches. Then - they work on their pieces, going around the main shapes in their centres, and finishing flowers (or other things) where they have been cut off.

We extend the images by making more in other areas, and I teach simple ways to think through that, then pack in filler patterns (taught in the morning session) around them.

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I am posting images of the sort of piece this makes, and a few details. I have been greatly honoured to have been invited to be Bernina's artist of the year in Australia. That means that I demonstrate whatever I choose to do at shows all over Australia. I chose free motion quilting on the idea of a 'starter scrap' as many traditional quilters say that they cannot think where to start with free motion quilting - and most traditional quilts have little pieces of prints which have been cut.

These are little ones that I have done as demonstrations in the shows, and Bernina has no problems with the idea of me selling them. I bring them to Houston for sale. I have no idea what I might charge for these as they are so far away from my usual work - but I have flights and accommodation to pay for so I am keen to sell them. I have about fifteen pieces, plus some small quilts in the same style. Any suggestions? Please?

I have discovered that my very favourite thread is back - Mettler's Silk Finish (which is pure cotton) and there are so many stunning colours - so look at the little jewels I can make with these. It is lovely thread, soft and supple and it forms very firm stitches - and it does not coil off the reel like some cotton threads.

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This is one of the three little quilts - simple pieces of Kaffe Fasset fabrics with a frame, and then put together as strippy quilts. These are what I think of as Lucky Dip quilts - I plan only to finish where images are cut off - and the rest is up to what people in the shows ask me to demonstrate for them. I like the fact that the quilts can look good with minimal planning. I show only four or five main patterns, all easy to teach and people can make them without drawing in advance.

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It is faced not bound - and I am starting to realise that I love the look of a facing - it is so clean and modern.

Sorry about the horrible photographs. I have a good design wall but cannot get far enough away from it for good photographs without moving a very large table - so they look distorted. All are nicely square - I promise.

Friday
Sep032010

My Moo Cards

One little bit of extravagance that is a regular indulgence is a regular purchase of Moo cards. I love these business cards. They are delicious to handle - firm card with a matt plastic coating to give a soft satiny sheen. It looks very professional to have your own images of work on your cards and my quilts are often strongly coloured. I offer a fan of cards and suggest anyone who has asked for a card choose one. That offers just a bit of insight into the person who asked.

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At different times I have used different types of images. For promoting my textile tours I have had cards printed with photographs from Egypt, Syria and India, and if I am doing a talk on textiles in Egypt - those are the cards I take to show off that tour.

I sprawled a few on my Syrian table cloth. They could be better photographs - but you will get the idea!

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Sunday
Jun062010

Playing with waste scraps

I have not blogged for so long that I am really embarrassed. The worst of it is that I have had a spectacular year with some truly amazing trips but have been so busy I have not blogged any of it. However - I have just had a bit of fun with fabric and thought it might be a good one to lead me back to blogging.

The challenge for my local quilt show this year is Go Green.

I know - they will probably get fifty green small quilts. Each has to be 50 cm x 70 cm. I know there are options on thinking about how to reduce waste, use of power - any environmental issue in fact.

I had a day up my sleeve, and I felt like a bit of mindless playing.

I decided to make use of a small bag of fabric pieces from dyed scraps - actually scraps from scraps. I have no idea why I did not throw these out years ago but they have been drifting around and now and again I consider chucking them - and do not quite do it. There were mostly very small pieces but a few positive/negative images left over from contemporary techniques class I used to run.

I always set a few personal rules on any project. I decided that I had to pick up a piece from the scrap box and sew it to something green.

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Then I had to join those pieces together and keep doing so until I could cut a few little blocks from the piece.

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Some of the scraps had already been sewed together but I treated these as one. I used a range of different green hand dyed fabrics as my filler fabrics. I opted for straight line piecing and just cut the bits of green off with scissors at the machine.

Because the first piece I took from the ironing board to the cutting mat divided neatly into four pieces that were 3 1/2 x 4" I decided that would do as my size. If I ever repeated this exercise I would cut the pieces square as then I could turn them around.

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If a piece was missing a corner I just sewed a bit on. If a bit was left over I sewed it to something green. If a colour was too strong and dominant I cut the block in half through that section and joined them to other bits.

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I found a couple of pieces that were like little trees, in pink and greens, and set them in too.

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I have now finished and quilted it and here it is.

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It was enjoyable, no fuss, easy and very light hearted as an exercise - and you could use any colour as your fillers.

Have fun.

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