Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A cornucopia of blocks

Did you miss me? I know I've been quiet but it is because I've been busy helping my Mom (Anne H) with her latest African quilt, working on my quilt The Meadery, making class samples for my workshops and working on assorted other projects.

I thought I would start by sharing a few more blocks in my Mom's current Africa quilt. These are original designs and she is beyond thrilled with how her quilt is coming along. I can't get the background fabric to photograph accurately. It is in fact a deep gold colour. Hopefully I can get a few pictures outdoors and the colours will be better.

Notice the dress on the little girl. Mom has difficulty appliqueing dresses so she actually makes little dresses off the quilt and then sews them to the child. You can see that the skirt is actually gathered!

Mom loves making blocks with Masai and she told me that this is one of her favourites.

Mom often has a grandma with her grandchildren in her blocks and this is an example.

How cute is this little boy trying to climb a tree to get at the redwing blackbird? There is an abundance of them here in Canada but I'm not sure that there are any in Africa. We love the redwing blackbird song. To us it sounds like they are saying "sweet marieeeeeee"!

I've completed two more Road 66 blocks. The Road 66 quilt is featured in Di Ford's book Primarily Quilts. This first block reminds me of an antique sandwich plate. I bought the lavender print many years ago. I liked it because it was a serpentine print and then can be hard to find. I think that this type of print adds so much visual interest to a block.

I really like this block. The circle fabric in the middle adds a little pizzazz and the striped fabric in the outer round seems to glow.

I've made two samples for my workshops this Autumn and this is the first one. They have been sent to the Guild that is hosting the workshop. I hope the Guild members like what they see and are inspired to sign up for my course. I think what makes this piece work is the fabrics I've used. I'll have to write a post soon about how I selected the fabrics for this project and also how I buy fabrics to build my stash.

I've recently discovered that there are books available on making pieced hexagons but I've been making them since the late 1990s. I had planned on making a fussy cut hexagon quilt (Stars in the Loft) but couldn't find fabrics that I needed nor could I afford to buy the quantities I would need for fussy cutting so I developed my methods to "make" the fabric and designs needed for my quilt. Once I got started the design ideas flowed!  My techniques and methods are constantly evolving, changing, streamlining and simplifying. My friends used to tell me I should write a book and I suppose I should have but that train has long since left the station. The reason I tell you all of this is because I don't want anyone to think that I am copying or profiting from another person's work. My pieced hexagons are my own idea and I've been developing and refining my techniques for more than 15 years.

We've had falcons and hawks nesting in the neighbourhood. The young are very noisy begging their parents to feed them. Yesterday there was constant whistle so I went out to see what it was and it was a young red tail hawk! He was a big fellow and he sat atop the trees for a very long time.

Time for me to get my day started so until I post again, happy sewing.

Karen H

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A finished pilchard wheel and the next block

So here it is....my interpretation of a pilchard wheel. It will look much better on a light background as is my plan.

Not quite the same as the real thing but it is close enough!

So now I'm thinking about my next block for my Cornish quilt The Meadery. Another important aspect of the Cornish economy was tin. The landscape is dotted with engine houses where the mines are located. Cornish tin mines are thought to be the oldest mines in western England and they date back to prehistoric times. My plan is to create the Greenburrow Shaft engine house at Ding Dong Mine. It was built in 1865 at at its peak employed 230 men and boys. By 1879 the mine was shut. You can see the engine house in the distance underneath Lanyon Quoit.

Until I post again happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The pilchards have colour

I've added a little more colour to my pilchards. They are a oily fish and I wanted to give them some of that iridescent look that that type of fish often has. I added some ocher and violet to create the effect and am very pleased with how it turned out! I love how the print of the fabric shows through and creates the illusion of fish scales! In case you are new to my blog these pilchards will be a block in my Cornish quilt which I am calling The Meadery.

The pieces that will connect the fish were constructed and sewn to the fish.

All that's left is to decide what fabric I will use in the middle and then make a brown ring for the barrel.

I've also managed to stitch another block for my Road 66 quilt. These blocks are so much fun to make and they are big. The hexagons are 1 1/4" whereas my hexagons for The Meadery are 3/4"!

That's it for today. Time for a cuppa and a little sewing! Until I post again, happy sewing.
Karen H

Sunday, September 27, 2015

There's something fishy here

Today I want to talk about a small fish, the pilchard. They were rebranded more recently as Cornish sardines. Pilchards are a small schooling fish that was for hundreds of years very important to the economy of Western Cornwall. Two of the main fisheries were in Mount's Bay. The fish were then processed in Newlyn and Mousehole both of which are within walking distance of Penzance. Pilchards are a schooling fish and fishermen used seine nets to catch them. For over 450 years, tonnes were caught and processed for export each year.

Fishing Pilchards with Seine Net by Stanhope Forbes

The pilchards were salted, arranged like the spokes of a wheel in barrels and then pressed.  The fishery like many has been in steady decline due to changing tastes and over-fishing. Nonetheless it was an important part of my father's early life.

Pilchard wheel

So what have pilchards got to do with quilting? Plenty! My plan is to make a quilt block for my Cornish hexagon quilt, The Meadery, that represents the Cornish pilchard fishery in Newlyn and Mousehole. Pilchards and mackerels were often use to make starry gazey pie, a dish that my father ate as a boy. The fish are baked in a pie crust with their heads poking out of the pastry crust so that they appeared to be gazing heavenward! I've already made a quilt which I call Starry Gazey Pie. I used a fabric with fish to make the six pointed stars. I fussy cut them so that their heads and tails were used to create interesting effects. I should take a better picture of this quilt and some of the blocks (it is officially on my to-do list).

But I digress. I've designed my block that will represent the pilchard wheel. To begin I pieced six pilchards from hexagons. There will be connecting pieces to join them and to add shading. There will also be an outer ring to represent the barrel. So here are my pilchards. I used three fabrics and made one pair of fish from each. I liked the silvery grey colours I chose because they reminded me of fish, salt and fish scales.

Before I put it all together there is one more step and it will be magic! These little strips of hexagons don't look much like pilchards but with a little help from a dark blue Sakura Pigma pen they are transformed!

They need a little more work before they are ready to be sew together. The spots on their lateral lines should be solid and I may use a black Pigma pen to add a little more depth to my fishies! I have a few other pens that aren't intended for fabric but what the heck; I may just use them to add a little more shading to the fish. If you want to try drawing on your fabric practice on paper first. Once you are happy with your design use a non permanent marking tool (I used a Frixion pen) to draw the outline of the image. When you are happy with it you can take your permanent marking pens to the fabric.

Before I go I wanted to thank ES for the comment she left about Men-An-Tol. I wanted to send you a little note but sadly you are a no-reply blogger. I reply to every comment so if you don't hear back from me it means there is no email address attached to your profile so I have no way to contact you unless you provide me with an email address OR you send me an email.

That's it for today! Time for me to sew these pilchards together and then get cracking on the next block for my quilt. So until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

First day of fall and a progress report

Red Maples and Berries by Karen H 2012

It is the first day of Fall and it feels like it. The sky is grey and there is a haze. It would be a good day for sewing if I didn't feel so rotten. I'm not sure if it is hay fever/seasonal allergies or a cold but I just want to curl up on the couch with two cats and watch TV. Before I do that I thought I would share my progress on my hexagon quilt The Meadery and also Road 66.

The latest shape I have created for my hexagon quilt The Meadery is intended to represent Lanyon Quoit in Cornwall, England. It is a dolmen (a megalithic tomb) dating from the Neolithic period (3500-2500 BC). The original was knocked down in a storm and was subsequently re-erected at right-angles to its original position around 1815. Originally there were four upright stones but one was too badly damaged to be used. I have visited this site and it is a little unnerving to walk under the monument.

Lanyon Quoit

So here is my interpretation of Lanyon Quoit. The rosette/flower in the centre represents the cap stone and the three spokes radiating outward represent the uprights that support it. I used an old fabric from my stash to make the quoit; it looks like lichen covered stone so it was perfect for this block. The yellow and green rings represents gorse which grows in the area. This block will be appliqued to the background fabric which is a very pale grey so the colours swill really shine.

The second piece I want to share is a block for my Road 66 quilt. The original quilt is in a book Primarily Quilts by Di Ford. These blocks are so much fun to make. The hexagons measure 1 1/4" which I find to be a little large. The 1" and 3/4" fit more comfortably in my hands.

It is a short post today. The cats are beckoning me to come cuddle so I'm off to do just that. Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Where does the time go?

I have been so busy that time just got away from me and I forgot to post pictures of my progress on my Cornish quilt, The Meadery.

I have completed the third diamond that will rest on its side. It represent the Men-An-Tol stone that is on the ground (hence the final round of green). The large diamonds that represent the upright stones are finished and they are a little larger than this one.

I had some help when I was taking the pictures. My lovely green-eyed Gump was there every step of the way!

I've also pieced a bee skep. I fussy cut a piece of fabric (lower centre) so that the bees could get in and out! I will applique some bees around the skep when I am putting the quilt together.

I may round the outside edges to soften it and make it look more like the skep in the middle of the Men-An-Tol stone in the picture below.

I've also made one more rosette for the Road 66 quilt. Fussy cutting is so much fun and you can create such pretty blocks,

I'm selecting and cutting fabric for the next element in my Meadery quilt and hope to have it finished for my next post so do come back for a visit!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hexagons.....a disease

I've been working on so many hexagon projects and want to start even more. It is a disease - I can't help myself! In addition to working on projects I'm dreaming up ideas for the next ones and already have a good idea of what I am going to do! So now that I know I am itching to get started but really need to focus on two or three works that are already in progress!

First off I've added another round to the third diamond for my hexagon quilt The Meadery. There will be three diamonds, two of which will be upright and will flank the centre medallion and a third diamond will be on its side below the medallion. These component will represent a Cornish ruin, Men-An-Tol. What you can't see in this picture is that there are two large stones on either side of the donut and there is a third stone which was once upright but is now laying flat in the ground.

I've almost finished the diamonds that will flank the medallion and I've just added a round to the diamond that will represent the stone on the ground. There is one more round to go and I'm considering a pea soup green to represent the grass.

Once I've finished the Men-An-Tol units I'll be on to the next Cornish landmark, Lanyon Quoit at near Madron! Originally there were four upright stones on which was placed a huge cap stone. The uprights are about 1.5 meters tall. In the early 1800s the quoit was damaged in a storm and it was subsequently re-erected with only three of the upright stones because the fourth was damaged. So my plan is to represent this megalith with hexagons and I already know how I am going to do it! In the distance you can see the engine house of a tin mine. I hope to incorporate this element in the quilt. Will have to ponder it a little more.

So the second project I've also been working on a class sample for my English Paper Piecing Workshops. I will be teaching all of the techniques, tricks and tips I used to make this medallion. I am also going to use these same techniques to border this block which can be used as a wall hanging or as the centre of a quilt.

The third project I've been working on are blocks for a Road 66 hexagon quilt. I had already shared this block back in January. The rosettes are made with 1 1/4" hexagons.

When I see a fabric I like I will cut either 6 hexagons for the first round or 12 for the second round. I put them together in a little bag and when I have a few minutes I'll baste a few or sew a few. So those few minutes here and there have added up and here is another block.

Time to get cracking. Until I post again I hope you can find the time to take a stitch or two. Happy sewing!
Karen H