Sunday, 16 March 2014

"And how long did it take you to make?"

Dawn Chorus, 250x202cm £299

... Oh, about 22 years.
It's a rather silly question, though often asked, because how on earth do you measure time spent on a creative project? Do you record all the hours actually spent working to come up with a total? And if so, do you include time spent thinking in the shower, doodling while on the phone, travelling to a fabric shop, browsing online stores, and tidying up before dinner after a day spent sewing at the kitchen table? Or do you just count the days or weeks or months from the first stitch to the last, regardless of how many of those weeks in between were spent in the office, on holiday or otherwise engaged?
But I made an exception and calculated (using the second method) how long it had taken me to make the quilt above. Because - ta dah! - it is finally finished. I started it in about 1992, coming up with the block design* at a residential workshop in Cornwall with Susan Denton and made the top probably the following year. In about 1999 I sent it away to be long-arm quilted (long before I had The Beast). I bought some fabric for the binding about five years ago. And I put the binding on last week, just in time to take it to the Country Living Spring Fair. It's called, rather fancifully, Dawn Chorus, because it is full of little birds.

Dawn Chorus, detail

I've also made a new "Jungle" quilt in the Garden City range. And since you ask ... oh, about a week.

Jungle 2, 190x248cm £212.50

Jungle 2, detail

* P.S. I made three quilts using the same basic block, each of them very different. My favourite was based around an old tablecloth, which included a map of Australia, that I found while clearing my aunt's house, and it became a pointer to my later style. "Look!" I said to my Australian husband when I had finished it. "The colours gets hotter towards the south." I was mortified when he pointed out that Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere... 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Spring clean sale at Country Living Spring Fair

What better excuse for a spring clean sale than a spring fair - the Country Living event at the Business Design Centre, Islington, March 19-23. Those who have been to a Country Living Christmas Fair or Spring Fair before will know it is buzzing with hundreds of stands, featuring what it delightfully calls "British designers, crafters and artisan makers", selling everything from garden furniture to cupcakes plus workshops and demonstrations. Almost too much to take in at one bite, but don't let that put you off.

I shall be on stand M65, in the same space as before, but this time I have decided to have a clear-out of some of my older stock, with discounts of up to 50 per cent on the website prices of adult-size quilts.

Tresco: Green Show price £199 - was £345
Tresco: Red Show price £199 - was £370

Fraggle Rock Show price £199 - was £345

St Mary's Show price £199 - was £395

To tempt you into attending, here is my Spring Fair "catalogue" - with new additions to my collections not illustrated on my website. Plus I will have baby quilts, cushions and wall panels. If you can't make it, just email me instead:

Grey Poppy Show price £287.50 - was £575

Purple Lotus Show price £312.50 - was £625

Peony Show price £412.50 - was £825

Hibiscus Show price £412.50 - was £825

Rose Show price £300 - was £495 (reduced second: normal price £825)

Jungle Show price £412.50 - was £825

Please stop and say hello. Hope to see you there

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Spring in the air, frogs in the hall

Klimt: Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907

Cyril Connolly's infamous assertion that the enemy of creativity (I paraphrase) is the pram in the hall may or may not be true - having no children, who am I to say? But there are numerous other obstacles lurking in the hall, not to mention those that land on the mat through the letterbox, that can trip one up on the way to the sewing machine just as effectively: a stunned frog brought in by the cat; the cat himself, demanding food and needing his claws clipped; a letter containing six forms to be filled in; a dentist's appointment; a ringing telephone; a card saying the parcel of fabrics that you need has gone back to the depot; the recycling box that should have been put out last night; a bag of clothes for the charity shop; muddy Wellington boots. And that's before you've even got as far as the kitchen...

Some obstacles are harder to clamber over than others, and so it has been for the past few months. Which is why when I went to my studio last week, full of excitement, it was for the first time since before Christmas.

I tiptoed in to the studio, so as not to frighten the Beast or wake him up too quickly, then took off his sleeping rug, patted him on the nose and gave him some hay. I hope he was as pleased to see me as I was him. His prolonged winter snooze has done him no harm, and he was soon cantering across the surface of a bed quilt I want to finish before I set up stall again at the Country Living Spring Fair from March 19 to 23. I will be offering big discounts on my website prices to shift some old stock, so look out for a blog before then giving more details and an update of the quilts I currently have for sale.

(My blog posts have been somewhat sparse of late. Coming soon: Cloth of gold part 2; Is there a national fabric?; St Cuthbert's beads; and lots of exhibitions and events - Knitting and Stitching Show, Vikings, Artist's Textiles - that I hope to catch up with now that there's a spring in my step and spring is in the air.)

In the meantime, I have been quietly drawing inspiration from the beautiful portraits of women by Gustav Klimt, some of which I saw recently at the National Gallery. Decked in jewels and sumptuously patterned fabrics, surrounded by flowers, gold and more patterns, their hair or hats suggesting halos, they have been a surprising inspiration for the depiction of saints in one of my ongoing projects. Colour, pattern: I can't get enough of either.