Hazel & Terry
This week was the second session of our ever popular Introduction to free motion quilting course. As well as teaching many different patterns we also share lots of tips and advice and one of the ones this week was how to finish the thread ends.
It's always a good idea to do this at either the beginning or end of every session or even as you go along. There's nothing worse than finishing a quilt top only to realise you have countless ends of thread to deal with!
One of the easiest way to do this is the lasso method using a large eyed embroidery needle and a double length of thread.
Take the two lengths of thread (ie: the top and bottom threads) and tie using an over-hand knot, running it down the needle to the end of the stitching. This knot will anchor itself in the wadding when pulled through.
Push the threaded lasso needle into the work, at the end of the line of stitching. Go through the top layer, into the wadding but not through to the back. Travel the needle about an inch and pop it out: do not pull through!
With your other hand grab the stitching threads and pull them through the lasso, then pull the needle, allowing the lasso to pull the thread right through. The thread tail can then be carefully snipped.
We made a little video to show you here:
Click on the image below to see the video Subhashini made when I taught it in class!
Until next week,
Hazel & Terry
Does this happen to you? You finally admit it’s now autumn, cold enough to warrant a proper coat being worn, and on putting a hand in the pocket you find your fingers caressing one of last year’s conkers. You then also realise it’s time to start lashing on the hand-cream and wearing gloves - looking at my dry hand I realise I should have started that regime a while ago!
This week Debbie Lyddon has been teaching her Exploring Place workshop in the studio and one of the things students have been doing is collecting and recording things found on their local morning walk.
Outside the studio there are huge oak trees so there are plenty of acorns,
down the lane pheasant feathers were found
and, of course, conkers were everywhere!
But what to do with all these things we collect?
Debbie has made a series of vessels
While the grasses were twisted and woven into a series of small balls.
Terry walks and collects too, usually by the sea.
Usually, Terry records what she finds, such as the lovely sea glass above.
But, sometimes Terry isn't able to actually 'collect' the items she finds, like the beautiful ammonite pavement on Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis. That's where carrying a camera and a small sketchbook comes in handy and back in the studio she was able to do a series of studies on paper, from which a thermofax screen was made. The quilt, above right, shows where this screen was used to discharge a piece of hand dyed fabric.
The line of oyster shells were 'drawn-without-looking' and eventually became a free motion quilting design which Terry has used several times, above is Walking on the beach and below they feature on one of the long Narrative: walking strips.
Look carefully and you will find other images of collected items!
More of Terry's work can be found on her website.
Are you a collector of random 'stuff'? If you are do tell us what you collect and how you use it in your creative practice.
Hazel & Terry
Feeling blue, blue Monday, dolly blue, blue suede shoes, Mediterranean blue, once upon a blue moon, Rhapsody in blue, Blue Valentine, blue yonder, listening to the blues, blue cheese, blue blood, sporting blue, Bluetooth, Picassos' blue period, blue light, blue airmail, blue beard, Blue Planet ...
Blue is the colour of the oceans,
and many a swimming pool.
An essential colour of nature, blue is probably the world's favourite colour. Cooling and calming, who doesn't feel that little more relaxed at the sight of a clear blue sky and a view of the sea?
But it's not been an easy history for the colour blue - often undervalued and passed over for greatness, the ancient Greeks and Romans preferring black, white and red and often associated with barbarism - think of the early Celts smearing their faces and body with woad before going into battle. Only the Egyptians seemed to value the colour blue, where it was thought to dispel evil and bring prosperity.
In the 12th Century, due to the influence of the church, many colours, including blue became to be seen as divine. It was around this time that the Virgin Mary was first depicted wearing blue robes and the colour began to be seen as a symbol of beauty, purity and wisdom and seen as a very feminine colour.
The Chinese used to depend on Persia for the blue for their Ming porcelain and I always regard it a lucky day when I dig up a blue and white china fragment on my allotment!
Blue is an easy colour to wear, the work-a-day blue jeans developed by Levi for the manual labourer are today's default 'off-duty' wear. All shades of blue are often used for uniforms from schools to the military, not forgetting 'the boys in blue'. It was synthesising indigo dye in 1860s that helped German chemist, Adolf von Baeyer win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1905. A direct consequence of this was the catastrophic effect on the Indian economy and a decline in the demand for natural indigo, whilst the German chemical dye industry expanded and the profits undoubtedly help fund the German war effort.
There's a lot of blue out there in the world and
when you tilt your head and look at the night sky it's ever deepening shades of blue that you see
but I'm left wondering, could this actually be sky blue pink, shot with a carrot?
Hazel & Terry
Yesterday we had a day out in London, first to catch the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A and then we headed over to the Tate Modern to hear the curators talk about the newly opened Anni Albers exhibition. It wasn't raining, so we decided to walk from Blackfriars Station, across the Millennium Bridge, to the Tate.
And quite a nice walk it was too. I always like crossing the Thames on that bridge, it gives you a marvellous opportunity to stop and look at London - with out being mown down by traffic.
But how many of you ever look down and see where you are actually walking? I don't usually, but today I did and I'm glad, because I found something really quite amazing, and puzzling.
I've been over the bridge many times before, but never spotted them; have you? They're all over the entire span.
So there we both were, staring at the floor and wondering what they were, and more to the point, who had put them there. Was it some subversive form of advertising, a promotion for a Tate event or a new form of lovers declaration (remember the locks on bridges?)?
Then I spotted this chap, so I asked him - 'is it you who does these?' And do you know what? - it was! How about that? Apparently he works all over the world making street art, so what were the chances that we'd see him today? Pretty slim I'd say!
Chewing-Gum Man is actually Ben Wilson, an outsider artist. He creates tiny, and often intricate works of art by painting chewing gum that's stuck to the pavement, or in this case, a bridge. Ben creates work out of other's discarded rubbish all over the world, from London to Helsinki via the USA and Serbia.
His art hasn't always made him very popular with the authorities, but he's not breaking any law because he's not defacing private property but merely painting rubbish! There's lots about him on t'internet if you Google him, I'm quite late to the party it seems!
And the Anni Albers exhibition?
We never saw it, by the time we finally reach the Tate Modern the gallery had shut. So that treat will have to wait for another day!
Hazel & Terry
Yesterday it was 24 degrees in my garden and as I sat in the beautiful autumnal sunshine eating a salad lunch, after a morning spent gardening, it felt like summer could go on forever.
How deluded was I.
Today has been cold, damp and quite frankly miserable. True, Saturday looks a bit perkier, but there’s no denying, autumn is definitely on its way. Not before long some may say, but I have so loved these long warm summer days. Now it’s time to move back indoors and start thinking about some serious stitching projects.
After the flurry (and I have to note, some success) of the three quilts I made earlier this year (if you missed them you can read all about then here, here and here!) I've been a bit lax on the sewing front it has to be said: too many cycling adventures, a lot of gardening, getting ready, setting up and taking InStitches to shows, and the knitting of socks (yes...really, doesn't everyone?!)
Also taxing my brain was a certain tell-tale line slowly rising up my study wall. It certainly has put a dampener (#allpunsintended) on creative thought - take a look...
How can such a 'tiny' leak create so much havoc?
The whole of my study has spent weeks in the garage,
Harry and Betty have been, quite rightly, flummoxed at times.
But the plasterers finished today. Now there's 'just' a new floor, woodwork and full decorating to go and finally I shall have my study back. THEN I can begin creative work - surely??
True, I could have, of course, gone up to my workroom. But as you can see, the state of affairs in there isn't much better. In fact it's worse - only I can sort that mess out (actually, that's what happening, we all know you have to be messy in order to tidy up - don't we?)
I know I also have a whole studio to play in...but quite frankly over the summer it hasn't looked that great in there either...if we'd been burgled I think they would have felt duty bound to tidy up for us!
The new studio is progressing slowly, despite all the edible brides and encouragement. But all good things come to those who wait... (note: this picture was taken a few weeks ago and there's been a lot of activity - you'll just have to trust me on that one!)
So there's nothing for it, I can't procrastinate anymore; no more excuses, I'm going to have to do what I'm always telling our students to do: get the sketchbook/workbook out, set an intention, make some notes and start exploring! I just need to begin... Carpe diem!
Hazel & Terry
Dutch orange, saffron, amber, ginger, minium and nude. Coral, terracotta, peach, apricot and tangerine. Call it what you will, orange was described by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) as 'warm red, intensified by a suitable yellow'.
But I've had a love-hate relationship with the colour orange most of my life - is it because I'm a child of the 70's I wonder? Just like with blue cheese, red wine and olives though, as I've grown older I'm finding myself, however, willing to dabble with the odd flash of orange every now and then.
It's autumn here in the UK, and at this time of year there's a lot of orange about, as Terry found when she visited Forde Abbey in Somerset to see the pumpkin and squash harvest ripening in the sunshine.
Here in Hampshire the garden still has plenty of colour, with orange coloured flowers, leaves and berries galore.
The colour orange is named after the fruit, which was probably first cultivated in China before spreading west across the world. In Sanskrit it is narangah, naranja in Spanish, orenge in French and of course orange in English; but it wasn't until sometime during the sixteenth century that orange was used as a name for the colour, up until then English speakers referred to yellow-red (geoluhread).
Orange is a secondary colour, sitting between red and yellow and above brown in the colour wheel and seems forever in danger of sliding one way or another and often down below. Until relatively recently, no doubt due to the advent of digital mixing, it was difficult for the colour to appear 'pure' and in its own right.
When paired with blue, its complimentary colour from across the colour wheel, the colour scheme is zingy and never dull - although I don't think the Buddhist monks were concerned at all about that when they hung their freshly washed robes out to dry in the court yard underneath the blue shutters!
Just look at the stunning colour scheme of this traditional wooden house on the island of Suomalinna, just a short ferry trip from Helshinki, Finland
and again here on a canal side tin shack of a shop in Kerela, India.
Orange cloth, often associated with Hinduism and which would have originally been dyed with saffron, has been worn in parts of India for over 2000 years. The Hindu festival of Holi to celebrate the coming of spring sees children and young people throwing coloured paints everywhere. Originally the colour orange would have come from natural plant-based sources such as turmeric but nowadays it is increasingly a water-based commercial pigment; and hopefully washable!
From the cheerful orange marigolds piled high on rugs laid out on the roadside, rows of bright orange plastic jugs strung across a market stall to the huge namaste hand gesture of greeting on the terminal wall in Delhi airport - the colour orange is everywhere across India.
It's in many other far eastern countries too as I found out last year, as I cycled around Myanmar- it is also the traditional colour of Buddhist monks' robes.
Festive, fun, happy and joyful. Optimistic, balanced, ambitious and energetic. Always flamboyant, warm enthusiastic and generous, vibrant, expansive and organic: orange is a versatile colour.
It's the national colour of The Netherlands and their royal family is the house of Orange-Nassu; in Thailand it is the symbol of Thursday.
And it's the colour of a perfect sunset.
So let's raise a glass, perhaps a Seville Gin garnished with a slice of fresh orange?, and toast the colour orange - have a happy weekend!
Hazel & Terry
If you went to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC or The South West Quilt and Textile Show in Bristol you may have joined us on one of our ‘take two stitches’ workshops, where we explored the potential of just two stitches - the straight stitch and a French knot.
This lady enjoyed the class in 2017 and had brought her sampler with her this year to show me and to buy some more of our thread so she could finish it. When I asked her what it was she had enjoyed so much she said it was having the encouragement to start and the inspiration to continue; she enjoyed the slow rhythm and peace that hand stitching brings.
Terry also enjoys hand stitching and often combines it with machine stitch and this year two of my quilts featured dense hand stitching.
My Contemporary Quilt ‘InPrint’ entry ‘Pink Floyd, this way’ and
my entry for The Fine Art Quilt Master, ‘the space between the moments’ both featured a lot of freestyle cross stitch to build up layers of texture to suggest a decaying old wall (Pink Floyd) and pine trees and snow ( Moments). Like the lady who came to show me her sampler, I too find this type of hand stitching very contemplative and soothing: I have to slow my mind and develop a different rhythm.
Through the winter evenings I can sometimes even be found knitting woolly socks on 4 bamboo needles - got to have something pretty to keep those toes warm! Knitting is rhymical and soothing too - and given their size I have a good chance of finishing them as well!
I always like to keep some hand stitching on the go as well, this little blue study was done on a piece of vintage table linen. Can you spot the exquisite darn in the middle? It was that which inspired me to join in with #1yearofstitches2017 over on Instagram.
I kept the daily hand stitching up for a good few months, even as I cycled round the Mekong Delta and Myanmar. Obviously not while I was actually cycling, but when I was having my restorative G&T in the evening! I always mean to keep an art journal when I go off on my adventures but some how it never happens, but last year the stitching did. Secretly in my room at first (I didn’t know what my fellow travellers would think) but then down in the bar and at the dinner table whilst we were waiting. I needn’t have worried - everyone was fascinated and as the days went by the whole group were keen to ensure not one event went unrecorded in stitch! By the time I came home I had a whole stitched account of my 3 week adventure on two wheels.
This autumn the socks are coming along at a pace so I’m thinking that I’ll need another hand stitch project. I don't have a quilt on the go at the moment, but like a pianist I need to keep up with my daily practice, so I’ve looked out some stitch books for inspiration,
collected my hand sewing equipment,
and started to select my threads. I thinking a piece of vintage table cloth or maybe some old linen for the fabric, I’ll need to have a rummage through my stash in the morning.
Or I might continue stitching on this. I put this together a couple of years ago from an off cut of wool wadding and some of our cotton fabric from the studio. It’s a couple of metres long already, so I could piece on another section and carry on! I intended it as a stitch sampler, a place to try out new combinations and threads, but sometimes I struggle to come up with something different.
Which is why I’m really excited to be welcoming Richard McVetis into the InStitches Studio this autumn. Richard is a British artist known for his meticulously embroidered drawings and sculptures and his artistic practice centres on his training as an embroiderer through the use of traditional hand stitch techniques and mark making.
If you feel inspired to pick up needle, thread and fabric why not come and join us on the 12th and 13th November? If you want to know more about the two days then take a look at the workshop Richard has planned for us. All you need to bring is your hand sewing kit - all the other materials are provided as well as homemade biscuits with morning coffee, a delicious light seasonal lunch and a pot of tea and a slice of homemade cake before you head off home after a day of creative stitching. What are you waiting for? Come and join us, I for one can't wait!
Hazel & Terry
The little Victoria plum tree at the bottom of the garden has given me a bumper crop of fruit this year.
Planted about 10 years ago, to provide fruit to make my husband's favourite jam, it has had a mixed track record and quite frankly I was beginning to think its days were numbered!
But as you can see, Mother Nature came out trumps this year!
When you grow your own fruit and vegetables it's lovely to be able to share; although I think my neighbours still haven't recovered from the glut-to-end-all-gluts of courgettes a couple of years back... So I've given lots of the plums away and frozen, poached, baked and crumbled many more, but there are still some left.
This weekend we are taking part in the Wokingham Arts Trail.
In the InStitches Studio we are hosting artists David Cotton and Nina O'Connell and jeweller Machi De Waard as well as showcasing our own work and the InStitches courses and workshops.
We will also be offering tea, coffee and (of course!) homemade cakes, with donations going to Macmillan: an excellent opportunity to convert the excess plums into baked goods!
In the end I made 4 huge sticky plum Bakewell tarts using a 2013 recipe from Waitrose, with the addition of a generous layer of homemade plum jam on the bottom of the pastry case before I topped it with the almond sponge and dropped in the stoned plum halves. To save you Googling to find it, here's my adapted recipe:
Sticky plum Bakewell tart
250g shortcrust pastry
150g butter, at room temperature
150g golden caster sugar
75g ground almonds
75g Self-Raising Flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp (homemade) plum jam (optional)
400g Ripe plums, stoned and quartered
2 tbsp flaked almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. Roll out the pastry thinly on a floured surface and use to line a 23cm deep, loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 5 minutes. If using, spread the base with the plum jam.
2. Meanwhile, place the butter, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, flour, baking powder and vanilla extract in a large bowl and whisk until well blended.
3.Spoon the filling into the tart case then press the plums evenly into the mixture (they will sink into the centre as the tart bakes). Scatter over the flaked almonds and bake for 40 –45 minutes until risen and golden brown.
4. Leave to cool. Cut into slices and serve.
I think I was a bit generous with filling the pastry cases so a couple of mine overflowed slightly, but that just provided a cook's treat for me to nibble with a cup of coffee - happy days!
The weather forecast doesn't look too brilliant for this weekend, but if you are free and fancy a day out why not pop in and see us at Venue 10? All the venues on the trail are open 10.30 - 5.30 each day, and if you do manage to visit all 11 over the weekend be sure to have your trail card stamped each time to be in with a chance of winning one of 5 bundles of prizes donated by WAT artists.
Hope to see some of you this weekend,
Hazel & Terry
It may seem a bit odd to start a new mini series called tools of the trade with a non-sewing item, but when you find a simple tool that does what it’s intended for (and does it so well!) then it’s an item worth telling folk about!
We both like making books, from new paper or from found or ‘scrap’ papers, to use as sketchbooks, notebooks, recipe books or just to have and to own. I think I can safely say that each of us have as many unused handmade books as those we have in use...we just like making books!
Having the correct tools does make a job easier and our favourite book binding tool is a bone paper folder - that’s the tool with a faint ‘HR’ on the end in the photograph below.
Made from genuine cattle bone, a bone folder is often the only type of folding tool acceptable to bookbinders and conservators; this essential tool is used for making strong sharp creases in paper and other materials. It is also brilliant for burnishing, smoothing adhesives and tapes: it is a must for book binding and repairs.
I find that mine is so satisfying to hold, nicely weighted and
the slight curve means that it fits my hand perfectly. Over time it has become beautifully polished and very smooth.
But what about if you are a vegetarian or vegan or just don’t like the idea of using a genuine bone? There are plastic versions available but quite frankly they won’t last the course, however Terry has found a great alternative.
Teflon bone folders are an ethical alternative to the traditional bone folders. They are non-stick PTFE which makes them ideal for conservation, separating papers, burnishing, creasing and all the steps in involved in book binding!
These and the traditional version, as well as other book binding supplies can be found here https://www.preservationequipment.com/Catalogue or from many other suppliers.
So, what’s your favourite tool?
Hazel & Terry
With quilts selected and rolled, everything made, packed and priced, it's time to load up the car
which seems to include everything but the kitchen sink. And before you ask, no we didn't take the vacuum cleaner!
Loading the car ready is like a game of Jenga in reverse and Terry has become quite the expert. I just carry and hold, I know better than to make 'helpful' suggestions...
Over the years our essential kit has become quite impressive and this year we splashed out on our own cordless drill. We're women who clearly know how to have fun!
See the festival trolley? It comes into its own at times such as these and I did notice that a lot more smaller stand holders have realised the benefit too. We tend to dump everything down in a heap and then get started. We do have a plan, even thought to the uninitiated it probably doesn't look as though we do.
Build up is a long day with little time for tea and cakes, but I'd like to think over the years we've developed a good system. Being the taller one Terry gets to wield the power tools, spirit level and hang the quilts. I'm a dab hand at dressing the tables, sorting stock and handing up the correct length screw when required. I also take the photographs - well, one of us has to step up to the plate!
It all takes time, but we do like everything to be 'just so' and judging by the comments I over hear visitors making I think we get it right most of the time.
Our stand is colourful, bright and definitely well stocked. As our signs say 'Everything on the stand was white until we dyed it'!
Once we've straightened and tweaked, fiddled and poked the stock into order it's time to cover it all up and go to check into our hotel
and , of course, we definitely deserve one of these at the end of build up day!
The next morning all is revealed: thread...a festival of stitch! at Farnham Maltings
or in the Quilting in action area of The Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham
and just this last few days, at The West Country Quilt and Textile Show, UWE Bristol.
Don't you just love our shelves? We were very please with ourselves...thanks IKEA! In fact, where would be without IKEA for equipping both our studio and stand?!
At shows we love catching up with old friends and students and making new ones too. Helping customers select just the right colour fabric or thread,
demonstrating and sharing our passion for fabric printing with all manner of junk, as well as
teaching a variety of workshops and sharing the delight of learning a new skill. In fact 14 year old Millie even ran a poll on her Instagram feed afterwards so her friends could vote on who had made the best brooch - her or her mum. Millie won!
This year I was thrilled at the Festival of Quilts when one of last year's workshop attendees brought back her sample to show me - and buy more of our thread so she could finish it. We had such a lovely chat and catch up - she said that the workshop had awakened a love of hand stitching and now she was hooked. A teacher can't ask for a better endorsement than that!
Of course, we need help manning our stand at shows so we can go and teach workshops and have a sneaky look at the show ourselves! So here's a big thank you to Neel and Gill for helping out at this year's Festival of Quilts and of course the fantastic Christine who also came down and helped in Bristol as well- she also keeps us fed and watered with sandwiches and the occasional gin-in-a-tin(after the show, of course !) We couldn't manage without you. And of course not forgetting my Mum, who for the last 10 years or so, has come along every Saturday of the Festival of Quilts and brought us lunch - thanks mum x
But we can't please everyone all of the time, Morgan-the-Pirate has clearly had more than enough of accompanying his mum and gran around the quilt show and now has other things on his mind. Still at least InStitches could provide him with a chair!
We have just one more show to go before we resume our teaching schedule and that is when we open the doors of our studio and invite you all to come and visit us as part of the Wokingham Arts Trail on the weekend of 23rd/24th September. Pencil it in your diary so you don't forget - we'd love to see you and...sssh! there may be a HUGE surprise, no clues....you'll just have to come and find out for yourself!
Hazel & Terry
Both children in this blog appear with the permission of their parents.
Welcome to our blog! Here you'll find out what's been going on, plus plenty of ideas and inspiration and the odd cake recipe!
Check back often to see what we're up to - it's great to have you along
Hazel & Terry