Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Next Reveal, and The Endeavourers Welcome a New Member

The last couple of months have been very strange and difficult for many, but that was another fantastic reveal of wonderful, creative and imaginative quilts!

We're now onto the next quilt and this is the quarter where we work on something suggested by an inspiration piece our partner has sent us.  Under the current circumstances we agreed that sending something by email was also appropriate, so if your piece is stuck in transit on its way to your partner you may like to resort to this alternative. 

With the start of the quarter we have a new member, Barbara, who blogs at catpatches.blogspot.com  I've added Barbara's bio to our Who Are We? page, and I'm sure you will all join in welcoming her to the group!


Next Reveal Date: 1 August
A quilt prompted by an inspiration piece sent by a fellow member

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Like Water For Chocolate

Hello friends. I hope you are doing well in your corner of the world. The current situation is certainly upsetting and worrisome for all of us. I have continued to work despite the shelter in place orders as my job was declared essential. And on top of the increased working I’ve been making masks for all the employees in my company. So every free time I get at home has been spent sewing masks. I apologize for the late post. Here is a little collage of the quilt that wasn’t. 

I chose Like Water for Chocolate a novel by Laura Esquivel. It is a poignant love story of a young woman that is not allowed to marry the man she loves because of traditions. The story takes place in the 1900’s in the northern part of Mexico during the Mexican Revolution (a civil war). The food plays a very important role in this novel. And one of the most beautiful scenes is when the main character Tita receives a bouquet of roses from the man she loves but she is not allowed to keep them and her mother asks nee orders her to throw them away. Instead she makes Cornish hens in rose petals.
I love this novel because it reminds me of my mother.

Please stay safe



Friday, 1 May 2020

Corona Crow on May 1st

“When three crows harried a hawk across the sky, Ruby expressed her great respect for the normally reviled crow, finding much worthy of emulation in their outlook on life.  She noted with disapproval that many a bird would rather die than eat any but food it relishes. Crows will relish what presents itself.  She admired their keenness of wit, lack of pridefulness, love of practical jokes, slyness in a fight. All of these she saw as making up the genius of a crow, which was a kind of willed mastery over what she assumed was a natural inclination toward bile and melancholy, as evidenced by its  drear plumage.” Charles Frazier. Cold Mountain, p 137.

My first choice for this quarter’s Endeavourers challenge, “A Scene from a Book,” was not this. It was a wonderfully vivid scene from Bill Barich’s book, Carson Valley, about a man delighting in devouring a slice of cherry pie à la mode. But, as I tried to get it to come together, it simply would not, and the joy in creating drained away. These pandemic days are already difficult enough without having to contend with recalcitrant fabric cherries. Especially when my quilting modus operandi is squares.

I found I wanted something to match my more somber mood. The book itself, set in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War, has a somber undercurrent. Tan, black, and white called. Solids. Maybe make something with a primitive feel where mistakes would only add to the charm. If I messed up writing on the blocks, I would just cross the damn thing out and keep going. Luckily, that wasn’t necessary. 
In these trying times, the kind of willed mastery over a tendency toward melancholy that Ruby so admired in the crow certainly comes in handy. Thus, I present Corona Crow on May 1st.

#10, A Scene from a Book: 'My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun'

I feel especially grateful to be a member of this group just now.  While we are all locked down it's reassuring to feel part of something that involves such positive human contact.    Whenever I get the chance to communicate with anyone I'm talking far too much, so be prepared for a long post. 

At the beginning of lockdown I didn't feel in any way creative, and was concentrating on doing practical things to prepare for all eventualities.  However I did spend a lot of time thinking about the theme. I initially struggled to think of a scene from a book because I've already turned some of my favourites into quilts, but finally decided on Shakespeare's sonnet No 130 which I love.   (Not really a scene from a book, but a scene from a poem in a book...)

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

I love the way Shakespeare is poking fun at other contemporary poets and their flowery and somewhat ridiculous use of metaphor to describe the objects of their desire.   But while he is doing that he also manages to builds up a picture of his mistress - a real woman who doesn't float about but treads on the ground - who he loves to hear speak and thinks as rare as anyone described with false comparisons.  With social media placing so much emphasis on conforming to a particular, idealised and often artificial idea of beauty this poem has quite a contemporary relevance.

Incidentally, out of curiosity I looked out images of woman of Shakespeare's time.  Being wealthy and important enough to have their portraits painted, decked out in their finest, and on their best behaviour, they often look rather bland and lifeless. The poets Shakespeare teases, with their unrealistic, idealised view don't seem to properly see the real woman, and I didn't get much feeling of the person underneath in these pictures.   

However I came upon some paintings by Artemesia Gentileschi and it is worth looking them up. (I was just now adding the link to the Wikipedia article and realised that there was actually going to be an exhibition of her paintings at the National Gallery this year but it has been cancelled because of Coronavirus.)  She used herself as the model for several paintings and her intelligent face is beautiful and full of character, though somewhat sad as she had a rather terrible life which is reflected in some of her grimmer pictures.  I like the way she confronts the viewer.

Anyway, that was a digression.  I began by thinking about what I could make with a rather ragtag collection of bits and bobs I had at home.   It was an interesting challenge to use up some of it in my quilt, just as I'm getting creative at making dinners out of what's left in the fridge because of course you can't just casually pop out to the shops.  My plan was to throw these odd scraps into the pot and make a mosaic quilt using them to build up a picture of the woman in the poem.  That seemed to fit the times and to fit the poem which also builds up a picture with each line.   I thought I would make something quite colourful and down to earth.  

However, when I started laying out fabric, another quilt started to take shape by itself.  It moved totally away from the original colourful mosaic idea.   I like this about making pictorial quilts - it's a fairly leisurely process and you're not committed until you sew.  Things sometimes take on a life of their own.

My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun
My black-haired woman was cut from one small piece of black Oakshott cotton, which was fused to another piece of cream Oakshott, then the whole thing was machine appliqued to a pieced and quilted panel I had made for another project and not used (the section in the middle of this quilt).

I found a bag of scraps of batting in a drawer under my bed (yay!) and 'frankenbatted' them together to extend the size of the panel by sewing them round the edge.  I had cut some calico from the back of a mini quilt, which I had planned to use as a substrate for scraps in the mosaic quilt plan, and that turned into the border.   I had a tiny piece of gold silk, only just enough for the sun.

My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun
I took the above photo in the sun outdoors so that the shadows would show up the quilting. She's not the colourful earthy woman I intended to make, but there you go!  I wanted to make an image of a woman who asserted her personality into the picture, so she is framed by the border around her but is not constrained by it. She has a direct gaze and I tried to make her to look as if there's more to her than what you initially see.   

My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun


Crafting during Coronavirus. The dining room is now also for sewing, online pilates class, and growing sweet pea seedlings in toilet roll tubes.

Rivulets and gems

Since I read a lot (over 80 books so far this year), I did not know what to do with this project. So I decided to use an excerpt from the book I have been writing and editing for several years. The title of  "The Ring of Time"and it is a fantasy. Maybe sometime in the next year or so, I will publish it on Kindle. Here is the quote:
When she emerged from the portal on the Marconalia side, she was in a very large cavern. Twenty feet in front of her was a rough rock wall covered with small rivulets of cascading waterfalls that disappeared into a riot of gems that reminded her of a garden. Light coming from the portal illuminated the walls. Walking ahead, she marveled at the beauty of the colors and shapes of sparkling gems. The light began to fade and she turned back to the portal in time to see the aperture shimmer before the light diminished again.
When I first decided on this passage, I thought about how to do the background. I wanted to make it craggy so I scrunched up the fabric, tied it and left it for several days.
 Then I unfolded it and pressed it onto some fusible interfacing.

When that was something like what I wanted, I sewed the creases so it looked like water streams falling down. Finally I sewed lots of beads in a haphazard arrangement.
Here it is: "Rivulets and Gems"

Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep

I hope this reveal day finds everyone safe and well. I can't wait to see everyone's quilts and find out which books have been chosen to make scenes from. I found it very hard to decide but eventually I made this quilt based on a scene from a wonderful children's book by Eleanor Farjeon called "Elsie Piddock Skips In Her Sleep". In this scene, little Elsie Piddock, who is a 'natural born skipper' is having a lesson from Andy Spandy, the fairies' skipping master. I have described the making of this quilt and some more of the story on Rainbow Hare.

Joyful - the colour chapter

There are very few books I have read and re-read (Pride & Prejudice, Earthsea Quartet, Hobbit and LOTR) so I was sure I would chose a scene from one of those.  The one that popped into my head was Mr. Darcy proposing to Lizzie telling her how "ardently I admire and love you" while insulting her family and social position at the same time.  That scene always gets to me.

In the end though, I went with a non-fiction book called "Joyful: The surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness" by  Ingrid Fettell Lee.  In the chapter on colour the writer talks about an organisation called Publicolor who change the feel of public schools with a colour palette of vibrant happy colours and the effect has been increased attendance at the schools by both students and teachers and an environment that felt safer for all using the school.

As a quilter I am colour obsessed and my colour palette tends towards saturated, bright and vibrant so this was the perfect thing for me to try and capture in quilt form.  I found an image from a google search of publicolor where they had even painted the schoolyard and used that as a basis for a design. 

I created a template for foundation paper piecing and was a bit nervous of all those tiny lines converging but well sometimes you have to be brave and just give it a go! I made it in two parts and hoped the lines would match up- they do mostly and the piece wasn't too bulky when quilting it.  The quilting was bricks and pebbles in the background fabric and the final touch was to put it in a frame.

Glowing in the afternoon sun!

I made the piece A3 but had a smaller frame so cropped the piece and am sorry I did now as I liked the white at either sides of the blue in the original design.  For the frame I imagined a skinny black frame but didn't have one so this natural wood effect was all I had to use and framed this way the colours remind me of trees!

By Her Own Hands

Unlike many of the themes posed for the Endeavourers Challenges, for this one - "A scene from a book" I knew from the outset what my inspiration would be.

This BeRo baking book was tucked away amongst my Mum's recipe books when I cleared my parent's flat last year. As you can see it has been well-used since it was published in the 1950's. The front and back cover is missing, but apart from that all of the pages are intact, if rather dog-eared.

These pages were the inspiration for my scene

After some deliberation I chose to represent my scene in the form of an oven glove to reflect the source of my inspiration.

An old teatowel was tea-dyed to give me the appropriately stained and shabby background fabric.

Then I took inspiration from this book for the appliqued motifs. I used the freezer paper applique method from the book, but if I was doing something similar again, I would go back to the Crafted Applique method I used for my raindrop as some of the tiny pieces frayed quite badly, as you can see below.

I added some embroidered baking terms too.

The back of the oven glove was quilted with machine-embroidered phrases from the foreword to the book.

Finally, I used the first recipe in the book to bake some rich scones to be taken with a cup of tea and some jam and cream this afternoon :)

Head on over to Celtic Thistle Stitches to read more on the inspiration for this project.

Once again I had a lovely time getting all of the elements of this project together and to be able to finish it off with an afternoon cream tea is an added bonus!

I am looking forward to seeing what my fellow Endeavourers have come up with for this challenge, I am sure that I will, as always, be amazed. Thanks again Catherine and Janine for organising another great challenge.

Miss Havisham's Banquet

Charles Dickens' famous scene of a decaying wedding feast was the first thing that popped into my mind when I read our challenge.  I normally would choose a more positive subject, but Miss Havisham would not be denied.  :)

The basic wedding cake.

I enjoyed using tons of lace scraps from my stash, along with Jacquard Lumiere textile paint to unite the laces and trims.

Laces, netting, ribbons, and buttons.

The cobwebbed cake with its spidery residents.

This has got to be the most monochromatic piece I have ever done.   And all that white doesn't photograph well either, at least not indoors.  But what would Miss Havisham say to my taking her cake outside to photograph it in sunlight!

I wrote a lot about my research and a little about my technique here on my textile blog, Deep in the Heart of Textiles, and I hope you check that out. (The link is where it says "here," -- I don't see that the link is a different color than the normal font in these posts.)

I am not that thrilled with the piece itself, but I had so much fun working on it, and these days, a happy process is reward enough!

A Scene From A Book

This is how far I got on the May 1 theme before I had to get serious about packing for the move.  Can you tell it's the scene from Gone With The Wind where Scarlet gets the idea to use the drapes to make a new dress.  When I think about it, my mind sees the scene from the movie with Scarlet wearing the dress and hat. Missing here is Scarlet herself.  She is packed away in the project box waiting to be completed.

Gone With The Wind has always been one of my favorite books as the movie is too. I didn't read the sequel book because I just didn't think a different author  could capture the spirit of GWTW.

Being of the Baby Boomer generation, I grew up watching old movies.  I loved all the old actors especially the dashing Clark Gable.  I read ALL THE TIME.  One of the things I loved best about the book was exploring each character's personality.  What influenced the women to be the way they were.  I couldn't identify with any one of them.  There wasn't much about Scarlet for me to like.  My favorite line from the movie anyway was Prissy  saying "I Don't Know Nothing About Birthing Babies".  It's been my reply to many questions I have been asked.

I don't have much more to say about this piece.  My first start on this Challenge was Stephen King's IT.  I don't recall why I switched gears to GWTW. I didn't get stalled on it, but like a lot of people around the world right now, we had a lot of illness at home these past 3 months.  Terry's illness looked a lot like C19 virus. He really did think he was going to die.  I was then sick for about a week, but nothing as bad as Terry.  We both would have been tested if there was a test to be had here at the time.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Scene From A Book

When I first saw the theme Scene from a Book, I thought it would be a snap. I read almost as much as I sew. Well, actually sewing wins out, but I do love to read. I read the theme incorrectly at first, thinking it was a phrase from a book. My idea for the theme popped into my head, and then I realized it was supposed to be a scene from a book. Hmm.

I pondered much longer than I should have. I knew I wanted to make something from a scene in one of Louise Penny's books. She writes wonderful mysteries that take place in a tiny hamlet in Quebec, a place called Three Pines. The characters from Three Pines that the reader gets to know are an eclectic mix of individuals and personalities. They all get along, even when they disagree with one another. Three Pines is an idyllic place; one that I dream about in these COVID days.

In one particular scene in her first book, Still Life, the author spends one scene describing a floral arrangement. It is so odd, I couldn't resist. I had to create my version of this. To be honest, I'm not satisfied with my interpretation, but it will have to do. Maybe someday I'll make a second version.

In the scene, the usual gang of Three Pines is gathering for a communal meal. Myrna, the librarian, has just arrived at the home of Clara and Peter (two resident artists in the town). Clara is watching her friend coming through the door. Myrna is not a small woman, according to Clara, and as she comes through the door, she "drags in" a flower arrangement. The arrangement is described as having oak leaves, maple leaves, bullrushes, a McIntosh apple branch (with an apple still attached). As if that weren't odd enough, the arrangement also contains a kielbasa and The Collected Works of W. H. Auden. 

I chose to make my quilt in raw-edge applique, because I envision this flower arrangement to be rather rustic and messy. My quilt is quite rustic and simple. I waited too long to get started, so I wasn't able to make it as elaborate as I would've liked.

I managed to get the apple branch in, with one apple.

Then I added in Auden. Had I put more plants around it, I would've hidden the book. As it was, I just tried to make it look a bit camouflaged.

And of course I snuck in the kielbasa - it was why I wanted to make this arrangement in the first place!

I even padded the kielbasa a bit, although you can't see it in the photo. All that's missing are the copious amounts of various herbs.

I stitched some veins in the leaves and then a quick stipple in the background and declared it finished.

It certainly wasn't what I had thought I'd make for this theme, but it was a fun challenge.

Looking forward to the next!


Monday, 2 March 2020


The Endeavourers are very sad to have lost Paula, who died earlier this year.  Her friendly enthusiasm and kind and encouraging words made her a much valued member of our group.  We will all miss her and our thoughts are with her family.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

A Bit of Admin :-)

While we're all beginning to mull (possibly) over our 1 May quilt, "A Scene from a Book", it's time also to think what you might want to send your partner as inspiration for our August "Round Robin" quilt!

Everyone was happy to send internationally so I've drawn partners at random out of the proverbial hat - you will be sending to the person who follows you clockwise, ie: Martha to Wendy.
 (I'm sending lots of good thoughts and wishes to Paula who has been unwell and hope that she will be able to rejoin us.)

[Quick update, just for the avoidance of confusion and ease of reference:-)  Posting is as follows:
Martha to Wendy
Wendy to Gwen
Gwen to Fiona
Fiona to Maureen
Maureen to Debbi
Debbi to Carol
Carol to Ruth
Ruth to Janine
Janine to Catherine
Catherine to Martha ]

If you could get in touch with the person who'll be sending you your inspiration piece and let them know your postal address that will kick us off!  There's plenty of time to decide what to send but please remember to post it off in time for it to be received by 1 May.

This should be fun!
Catherine :-)

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

New Theme Announcement

Another set of fantastic and inspiring pieces!  I hope everybody enjoyed the reveal - I love the similarities and differences in our various ways of thinking about the theme and converting those thoughts into quilts.

Time to start thinking about the next quilt!  From the remaining themes...
  1. The Sea
  2. Memories
  3. A quilt inspired by a newspaper headline
  4. Emotions feelings
  5. Opposites attract
  6. Colour theory
  7. A scene from a book
... Mr Random Generator has chosen

So our next theme, due 1 May is "A Scene from a Book".

Now, another thing to think about!  When initially considering suggestions for themes we included the possibility of occasionally throwing something slightly different into the mix!  Ruth had a suggestion for one of our challenges.  Her idea is that we could each send one other member an item - like, but not restricted to, an inspirational photo or card, magazine cutting, or piece of fabric - to be used in, or as inspiration for, a quilt.  How you use the item, and the theme of the quilt you make, would be up to you. We thought this would be a fun and interesting challenge for our August quilts.

The item would need to be received by 1 May in order to give the usual quarter to think about and work on the quilt, so we have plenty of time to get the ball rolling.  To kick off, if you could let us know in the comments below if you would be happy to send overseas, or would prefer to send more 'locally' we'll fix everyone up with a suitable recipient.

If you haven't already read about it, you might be interested in the World Wide Whispers quilt project - there is a great article about it here

Catherine :-)

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Wishes: Calm

This theme was quite challenging. I had to look up the definition a couple of times. Then on a busy, crazy day at work I though; I want to tackle this life moments with a Zen attitude. I thought I wish that in the mist of hectic schedules, loud noises, distractions I could always have the that feeling of calm. Like that feeling you get when you are in the middle of the forest (or even a quiet garden) and you see a quiet stream of water running, undisturbed.
So for this piece I used very vibrant colors, loud in a sense. And I quilted it in a very organic wavy pattern to resemble the water running through.

And in a way that is my wish for the new year: calm in the mist of chaos.


'Wishes': Say it with Flowers

For some reason I found this theme a very difficult one.  I couldn't think how to express it.  I had lots of thoughts about what 'wishes' might be about but none of them would settle into a quilt.  Eventually I set on what I would wish for someone else - happiness.

We often express our hopes and wishes to other people in the form of flowers  - either as a bunch of flowers or as a symbolic bunch of flowers on a card - so this became my plan.   I wanted to make a really jolly, happy and exuberant quilt as my quilts are usually more restrained, and maybe subconsciously I was wishing for a bit of colour at the end of a long grey January!

I was going to add a little banner at the top of the quilt, saying "Be Happy", but when I tried it out I didn't like it and although it would have made the quilt more obviously relevant to the theme artistic vanity won over.

The vase and table cloth are pieced, and the flowers are raw-edge applique, with quilting to make parts of the flowers stand out.  I thought a couple of the flowers needed a bit of extra pop so added buttons to the centres - the largest amount of time was spent in fussing with the composition.   Finally I bound the quilt round a canvas and stapled it in place.  I had a lot of fun making it!

If Wishes Were Horses...

'If wishes were horses, beggars would ride'. When this theme was chosen that was the only thought that came into my head and I rejected it as being a bit negative! But I never could get it out so here it is. I will post more about this quilt on my blog later. You can read more about this quilt on my blog, Rainbow Hare. In the meantime I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone has made :)

Dandelion Wishes

When I pondered the theme of "wishes" it reminded me of those days at the end of summer, when the heat was high, the grass was getting dry and crispy, and the sky was cloudless and blue. My friends and I would lay in the sun, pick dandelions that had lost their bloom, and blow on them to release the seeds.

I decided to try to make a quilt using that idea. Not having experimented much with mixed media and three dimensional items in a quilt, I thought I'd play a bit. My husband is the tea drinker in the family, so I decided to recycle some used tea bags. I let them dry out, then opened them and tossed the tea.

Once the tea papers were fully dry, I fan-folded them and tied them with string, making two large and two tiny pom-poms. Remember how we used to do that? It was easy to do, thanks to Wonder clips that held the fan-folded paper for me while I tied the string. I forgot to take pictures though!

Next up, was to make that clear blue sky and green grass. I did some improv work with some green scraps for the grass.

Then I attached a bright blue Moda Grunge to the green improv for the sky and added some wavy quilting to create some gentle breezes. Next up, a new thing for me - a little bit of thread painting. For someone who doesn't really free motion, I was a bit nervous, but I just had fun with it. What's to lose, right? I added two stems and two smaller ones.

Now it was time to add the dandelions. I did this by leaving long thread tails to the blossoms, then pulling each thread through to the back of the finished quilt and tying it off.

My dandelions look a bit like peonies, do they not? I even tried snipping them to create a more stringy look to the blossom, but couldn't quite get the effect. The little puffs above are the seeds that have been blown off one of the blossoms.

All in all, it was a fun experiment.

This little quilt measures approximately 15" x 18" and was made using scraps from my stash.

There are a few things I wish I would have done differently, but isn't that a bit what wishes are made of?

Thanks for the fun challenge!