Worldwide Friends: next stage complete…

I’ve got the back panel finished.

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A windy, overcast day. Great for drying laundry, not so clever for photography…

I don’t LOVE it, but I do like it and find it fun, which is all I demand of a back! I’m OK about hanging it this way round from time to time, to remind myself of the haiku, the contributions everyone made, and some of the reds that didn’t appear on the front. There’s just a tiny bit of hand stitching to do on this bit, to attach the small red accent hexies between the large floral panels. I could machine stitch them on, but I prefer hand appliqué.

Finally I still have the facing border to do. This panel is 60″ x 72″, so it needs to be about 5″ wider and taller. I think we’re talking partial hexie flowers rather than full ones, but I need to get it laid out flat, the back offered up to the front and the difference clearly seen and measured before I can be sure. I also need to make some allowance for how the front and back panels will contract slightly when the hand quilting is done. Somewhere in there I have to work out the hidden internal rod pocket, and how the quilting will hold that in place.

Two months to go. In that time, I have to make the facing and do the quilting. I’m going to need a bit of luck and a following wind, I think…

Worldwide Friends: The back’s going forward

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 11.03.35 pmJust because I’ve been hacking at the under-growth it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy with my needle once the sun’s gone down. I’ve got a Show to enter!








You’ve seen the two right hand panels already. I’ve added two more columns, including the haiku section. And clearly, I’ve been unable to resist making more hexies, even if they are giant ones. I had a lot of fun with them, and got them stitched onto the background last night. The borders on the hexie panel are still ‘drafts’ which is why they’re wonky – in case you were wondering if I’d gone a little slapdash here. The haiku panel is stitched together but still needs to be sewn on to the section on the right. Some of you should also recognised fabric contributions, too! I’m actually enjoying the wonkiness and lack of things lining up properly here. The back is a series of columns that don’t match, align or relate to each other in any way, in a truly scrappy back. Given the strict discipline of the front of the quilt, I thought it was time to play a little…

Visualise the whole back surrounded by red hexies. I don’t know yet whether it’ll be a single row, or a row of flowers; it’s going to depend on fabric supplies, time and whether my hands hold up..

Short post this morning, I’ve got a jungle to sort out.

Worldwide Friends: FFF!

Or, Finished the Flowers for the Front!

That’s 294 hexies made and assembled into flowers, plus another 42 for fillers, since 7th March. With 10 days off in the middle for motorbikery (although, as we know, I did manage to make a few in the in-between times I wasn’t actually on the bike), and a day out to make the Dowager’s birthday gift (for which I now have two more orders, as predicted…).

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 11.56.23 am Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 11.57.09 amYou can see from the second picture where the new strip starts – everything above the red arrow is new. Now they all need stitching together. Give me a few days… I need to let my fingers heal a bit. They’ve got holes worn in them from the needle. Did I mention before that I loathe wearing a thimble except when I absolutely have to, for hand quilting?

Now that the front is in the home straight, I can start thinking about the back. I’d better go and press all the fabrics I’ve assembled so I can audition them. Once the front is stitched together I can measure it and then take it down while I lay out the back on the design wall.

I still have to do the calligraphy for the haiku before I can piece that section – imagine stitching the panels in and then making a mistake in the lettering! And I need to inscribe the names of all the contributors on the front in small gold lettering, scattered here and there. I think it’s going to look rather pretty. It seems there’s a day or two with gold resist ink and a small paintbrush in my future!

There’s only one thing bothering me right now.  The front is landscape in format, wider than it’s tall. The back of my mind (the part that demands symmetry, order and regularity at all costs)  is telling me it needs another row or two at the bottom to square it up a bit.  The front of my mind is screaming “nooooooo!”. I’ve had enough of little blue hexies for a little while…

It’s not even remotely square, but then it’s not going on a bed, so does that matter? Does every single one of my quilts have to be square or should I get over that particular obsession? What are your thoughts on the subject, please? I don’t promise to act on them, but I would like to know what you all think!

Worldwide Friends: full steam ahead

I’m getting there, and a little faster than I expected/feared.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 6.40.39 pmI have the bottom strip hexies complete and assembled. It’s amazing how a bit of slightly panicky focus can result in a massively increased output! Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll have the front finished.

All this industry has been greatly assisted by care packages of more fabrics – I had enough in yardage terms, but the range was getting very limited and I was very reluctant to spoil the effect from lack of choice. Thanks to the contributions from Nanette and Cath (which I’ve written about in earlier posts), that’s not going to be a problem.

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Spot the moon. Time for some gold paint, I think!

I’ve also decided that the crescent moon on the rabbit fabric has to be gold too. It’s a bit, well, discreet at the moment, and after my success with the lettering, it seems an obvious progression.

Before I assemble all the front sections into one giant piece, I’ll tackle that job, otherwise it’ll be a huge, cumbersome thing to manage. The haiku will make a bit more sense if the moon is shining!

rabbit dances on
the moon’s straight and shining path
along lake’s bright ripples

On a completely different subject, I’ve had some rather trying news. It appears that I’m now lactose intolerant as well as coeliac. I’m used to managing my diet, so it’s nothing new. The real disaster, of course, is that the very few mainstream brands of chocolate which were gluten free are also now out of reach… 😦  There’s only one left: Whittaker’s. Their Dark Ghana 72% and Dark Almond 62% have the ‘may contain traces…’ disclaimer, but I reckon lactose levels would be minute and I refuse to take that into consideration. I mean, seriously, how am I supposed to get through life without chocolate?

I wonder if it’s possible to make your own Nutella…. any ideas?

Worldwide Friends: Making my mark

I have been anticipating with some dread the need to do a lot of rather tidy embroidery on Worldwide Friends.

Not just the kanji symbols that make up its name on the front, but also the names of each lovely fabric participant and the haiku for the back. That’s a lot of immaculate satin stitch, never my best work.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 3.20.35 pmInspiration struck when the Wedding Quilt for my niece Claire was making its usual nocturnal promenade through my brain, nagging me to make a start. Not yet, not yet…

But I had come up with a lovely idea for it, involving gold calligraphy winding a thread of poetry† around and around the border of the quilt. My calligraphy is rusty, but hopefully adequate, and I think I’ll be content with the results.

I had bought for this purpose gold resist ink and a broad calligraphy nib. You write, wait for it to sink into the fabric, and then heat set it with either an iron or in the tumble drier. Voilà, permanent, dry-cleanable and washable gold. You can also flush colour up to it and it will prevent migration into the next section. Multi-talented, multi-tasking ink. I wanted it in gold for reasons which are obvious if you read the poem, and luckily, I found some.

The WWF inspiration was the dawning realisation that the kanji and donor names would look beautiful if also done this way. The haiku done in black ink on white or beige fabric panels on the back would be the work of hours instead of days or even weeks. I’ll need to do a fair bit of practice to bring my lettering skills back up to speed and will have to sketch out lettering layouts/templates to ensure it all flows and looks nice, but I have great hopes.

It will be a Final Fabulous Flourish, with curlicues, finials and a cherry on the top. 


He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, by WB Yeats.
In my opinion, surely one of the most beautiful love poems of all time, and peculiarly appropriate for use on a quilt which is also a wedding present to a dear niece. Love/Cloth/Night = Wedding Quilt!


Dancing rabbits

I’ve been doing some research around Japanese legends and imagery.

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It was all sparked off by the furoshiki I’m using as a centrepiece for Worldwide Friends. It features hares or rabbits bounding across waves under a crescent moon. I’ve seen many examples of Japanese textiles which show rabbits below a moon, in conjunction with flowers, grasses or waves, and I wanted to know why… It’s an unusual juxtaposition to a European eye.

There’s a lovely legend about a rabbit which offers a supreme act of kindness and self sacrifice to a stranger, and is rewarded by being taken up to the moon when the stranger turns out to be a deity. The Japanese consider that the shape seen in the moon is a rabbit and not, as Western eyes see it, a man. Historically, moon gazing festivals were held in Japan to behold the beauty of the full moon in the eighth calendar month of the year, and there was a great deal of rabbit symbolism associated with this, including ceramics of moon-gazing rabbits, and rabbit shaped sweet treats.

I find the idea of the simple, generous rabbit lovely, and his frolics across my quilt centrepiece made me want to add something else, in text rather than fabric. What else could it be but a haiku? The rules for haiku are simple: 17 syllables long, in three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables each, expressed in the present tense and about a natural subject…

Here we go:

rabbit dances on

the moon’s straight and shining path

along lake’s bright ripples

Meanwhile, the stitching continues.  A corner of the centrepiece frame has come together.

Maybe I’ll put the haiku on the label. It’s not much good, but I enjoyed composing it!