Tuesday 27 July 2010

Designs are everywhere

William Morris started his career as an apprentice to the architect G E Street; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Edmund_Street
Street's Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand London (Photo courtesy of wikipedia)

I recall reading somewhere that one of the first assignments that Street asked the young Morris to do was to go out and copy (in his sketchpad), the woodwork patterns of the Canterbury cathedral. Many years later Morris wrote this letter to The Times in 1877, voicing his concerns for the restoration of that very same cathedral; http://www.marxists.org/archive/morris/works/1877/cant2.htm

So over time in true Morris style I find myself seeing designs in the oddest of places. The camera may not be handy but the mobile phone can still take shots!!
A tile in a country loo

A window advertisement

Another window display

And a pattern on a window

And finally some beautiful roses from a friend's garden (and displayed in a friend's kitchen). I need to tell you all that I will not be coming to the International Quilt Festival in Houston this November. Those of you who have emailed me to say you were coming to say hello........I am so sorry but the trip has been cancelled. This trip was to coincide with the launch of my second book and was part of the enticement my publisher offered for doing a second book (so soon after the first). In these trying times of publishing, especially with the spread of "ebooks", I know this trip would have been a great expense. I am sure I will get there one day but as an observer with my beloved husband. It will be something to share with him as it will be my very first trip - not only to the USA but also to the quilt show!

Sunday 18 July 2010

Travel plans

It is now less than 4 weeks before we leave for our big trip overseas. We start in Birmingham and then travel to Wales, head up north to Liverpool then across to York. While we are there I am hoping to visit the new headquarters of the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles museum and gallery. This link takes you to their wonderful collection of both antique and contemporary quilts; http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/ These two quilts appeal to me:

Circles 1850-1900
Ladies Work Society Coverlet 1875-1899
After a few nights in York we travel to Scotland for a relaxing week staying in a B&B in Edinburgh

I feel a close affiliation to Edinburgh. The first time I stepped in the main street at dusk. As I looked up to the castle the moon was rising - a lump in the throat and a feeling of belonging – I can’t really explain that. Kingsway House is only one mile from the Royal mile so we will be right in the centre of Edinburgh.
Before we leave for a 2 week Russian tour we are going back down to Oxford for a whole week. The highlight will be Kelmscott Manor and to finally visit Morris’ grave, and a visit to see the Oxford quilters as well.  Look at some of the delights in the gift shop at Kelmscott!!

Having never taught so far from home my biggest worry has been transporting quilts. I remember way back seeing tutors take just quilt tops – so here is the first one that I will take for a class in Birmingham. http://www.twistedthread.com/
It was very relaxing to be back behind the machine – and here is another new little quilt top as well.
And while I was clearing up some documents on the computer I came across these photos from a design class a couple of years ago from a group north of Adelaide. Those of you who think you can’t draw you can have a go at the design class in Birmingham as I see there are still vacancies. Don't be scared - check this out.....

All these girls said they couldn’t design their own appliqué – sure thing....look at these spectacular results!! You too can do it- if I can anyone can!

Saturday 17 July 2010

A young quilter's experience

Some months ago our local quilting group had an exhibition. During the weekend a young high school student visited the show having seen an advertisement for it in the local newspaper. While walking around she eyed off the quilts that took her fancy – one of them being mine. So a member took her to meet me and so the conversation evolved. Lauren is a Year 10 student doing a “Middle Years Program” and as a part of that program students have to undertake a ‘personal project’ which is based on research and reflection. Lauren decided to make a quilt. She was not sure why as no family member quilts but she thought it would be a journey which would eventuate in her donating the quilt to a childhood cancer group. The aim of the school program is to also teach students to serve others so this seemed like a great idea.

So Lauren set to work with no knowledge – she did not know of rotary cutters, she bought poly-cotton fabrics and thick polyester wadding. All the fabrics were cut out with scissors and when it came to quilting without a walking foot she was ready to give up! So you can imagine her despair at the result! Lauren was certainly discouraged and I think intuitively came to the exhibition to seek further advice. As she was telling the story to a group of us I secretly hoped someone would put up their hand to help her. But no-one made a move! My life this year has been quite overwhelming with the 2nd book almost complete, the fabric range projects in progress and more quilts to design – and teaching in between.....how could I find the time?!!

So it was that I took Lauren under my wing a week or so later. On that day my offers of help led to her crying, her mother crying and me crying as well – tears of hope of course! And I have to say it was wonderful to encourage this delightful young lady to the world of quilting with cottons, correct battings and a book full of advice!

So here is the result. Lauren designed it all herself and she plans to give it to a child with cancer. Lauren hopes to enter the International Baccalaureate Diploma next year at school and I am sure she will achieve that. http://www.ibo.org/

I also hope that one day she will continue her quilting – it was an honour to be a small part of it.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Show and Tell and award winners

Thankyou for all your emails - a newsletter will be coming in the next week or so. My head has been down getting the new Block of the Month program organised and I've been doing the final proof of the book which is looking stunning. It is only just over 4 weeks before we leave for Birmingham - how time flies but before then I will have a final give-away - stay tuned!
For now I thought I would share with you some more quilt photos sent to me and most are award winners - CONGRATULATIONS to everyone - it is such a thrill for me to see your interpretations but even more of a thrill knowing that the designs have been so rewarding for you too!
Michele's William" by Carol Timmins
Carol gained a prize at the Sydney Quilt Show in June! Such clever use of several quilt designs. Just beautiful - thanks for the picture Carol

And I got this lovely email..................


"We thought you would like to see a picture of our raffle quilt for this year.
We bought a copy of your book for our library. About twenty people worked to produce the top from your pattern and we had it professionally quilted by Kay Brown. The applique is done with a small zigzag stitch, we did spend one of our meetings getting members machine set up to stitch the same so that the applique would be consisted. We are all very happy with the end result and the first comments we have had as we start selling our raffle tickets have been very positive with people loving the design.
Many thanks for a very enjoyable book"
Sheila Hewett
for Arcadian Quilters
What a quilt to win - sensational!!!!

Andrea from Calgery, Alberta, Canada sent me this picture of a challenge she entered. I think she has used Friends blocks and a motif from Coffee with WM

Pat won a prize at the Victorian Quilters exhibition for this stunner..............
Pat Leviston's William Morris Sampler
This was my first ever Morris Sampler design and it is still my favourite - congratulations Pat! I love the dark background.

And finally Carolyn.........
She says in her email........"It is all hand stitched and hand quilted and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. It is called "Sapphire Peacock". A dear friend of mine said it needed something special for an eye and she gave me a sapphire to use. I had a neighbour, who works in silver and gold, make an eye "socket" (with lashes) in silver that retained the sapphire and enabled me to (blind) stitch it in place"

Have a good week

Thursday 8 July 2010

William Morris Exhibition

While having a break from proofing the book I often find myself surfing the net looking for interesting news of Morris. I came across this fascinating article about an exhibition "William Morris a Sense of Place" being held from June 26th - October 17th at Bowness in the Lakes District.
"Morris's sense of place is the unifying thread which runs through this comprehensive exhibition at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House. Covering Morris's domestic life, design work and writings, his feelings about the wider environment of countryside and city and conservation work the exhibition investigates Morris's instinctive’ feel for place which became an underlying factor in his wellbeing, creativity and ideas on a fairer society.

Designs, textiles, books, samples and personal objects have been collected by Curator, Dr Kathy Haslam from public and private collections to illustrate the life and work of the Father of the Arts & Crafts, displaying them in the beautiful surroundings of one of the finest surviving Arts & Crafts houses in Britain."
Read more of this at this site;


The exhibition is being held at Blackwell House and can be found at Bowness in the Lakes District. We have visited this area twice on our visits to the UK and in 2003 spent a delightful week in Windermere at one of the many beautiful B&B's. Wish I had known of this Arts & Crafts house then! Check out their website; http://www.blackwell.org.uk/
And another amazing exhibition which is showing concurrently in the house grounds from Steve Messam, 'an environmental artist'. This is called lawnpaper - very clever!

The grass will be trimmed and shaded to reflect a William Morris wallpaper and is expected to grow out in 4-5 weeks. So then I had to visit his website; http://www.stevemessam.co.uk/

Enjoy and have a great week