And none are more equal than others.
The QuiltFest exhibition was amazing. Thanks to everyone who brought in their wonderful work. I loved seeing the variety of design and colour made by both new and experienced quilters. So many people were inspired and maybe some will begin or return to patchwork themselves. Thank you also to all our visitors, we hope you picked up a bargain during our sale and enjoyed the quilts.
Since the last blog we have a new gorgeous granddaughter called Freya. She is a little treasure, she just eats and sleeps and we are mad about her. Mother and daughter are doing great. Caitriona is a natural mother. But we miss her in the shop. It means Sinead and I are having to get our heads around the finances - not our thing - but it's a learning curve, and supposedly good for us. We miss Trina's quilt making too as she really took to it quickly and is very good at it. She loves it as much as Sinead and I do.
I am looking forward to 2 days away with three friends I haven't met for some time. We were nursing students together in the dark ages and we now live in different countries. It will be great fun to catch up with the 'girls' again even though we are all grannies now.
Speaking of nursing, I was a nurse for many years but did not know just how serious Osteoporosis is, it's even life threatening in some cases. I discovered this at the recent AGM of the Irish Osteoporosis Society. I learnt a lot about the disease, which I discovered I have after breaking several bones. I heard that 1 in 2 women over 50 and 1 in 4 men have it. Children can get it too. They suggested people get more information on their website. You can read their info and make your own decisions if you need treatment or dietary changes. Health warning over, back to the news...
We have had many new visitors to the shop from around the country and two coaches of quilters from the US and Canada. We had fun discussing blocks, borders and explaining the difference between long and fat quarters. Quilters are lovely!
Things have calmed down a little and we are trying to get designs ready for Christmas In July. It's strange thinking of that in the middle of summer but time flies. It is no time at all since last Christmas!
There are two designs in my head waiting to get out before I forget them. Do you ever get great ideas during the night and then in the morning realise they are rubbish? I get a 'great' idea and start to make it, then find it doesn't work at all and I don' t like it - all part of learning but very frustrating!
The good thing about things not working is you tend to get a lot of scraps. I love to use up as many scraps as possible. I hate to throw them out! I often do scrappy quilts with all mad colours. I love to do quilt as you go too as this can use up lots of odd shaped pieces in an easy way. We are always telling people not to throw out their scraps and we are thinking of doing a workshop, maybe in August, where we will show people how to use their scraps, possibly using the quilt as you go method.
So until next time, sayonara, and save your scraps! Marie xx
While in school I went to a dressmaking evening class and learnt how to make a dress and a kilt and continued to make clothes for myself and later for the children. This was very enjoyable and economical. Funnily enough recently my husband brought two boxes of baby clothes down from the attic to sort for Caitriona's baby and inside we found several little dresses I had made for her and some dungarees for Sinead's son Sean when he was small.
I haven't made clothes for many years as my fabric love has gone in different directions.
I like to try new crafts and sometimes to mix them together. I was once told not to mix crafts and that made me want to do it. It's great fun and can produce unexpected results.
I have embroidered on batik , mixed embroidery with patchwork and joined non matching pieces of printed fabric into a wall hanging. The sky is the limit for the fun with fabric.
Sometimes my contrariness comes out in design. I love traditional quilts and need to make them to keep focused.
There are so many colour combinations to vary the most basic designs and now and again I like to challenge myself to make something outside my comfort zone.
I really love "wonky" wall hangings, pieces that are off centre, colours that don't usually go together, flowers with falling petals etc.
I know this drives some people mad ( some quite close to me) but it's great fun. It doesn't always work-----like the chopped up panel ----I killed it!! but it was worth a try and I might go back to it sometime.
A lovely lady brought in an Indian quilt to show us and will lend it for the exhibition this June. She bought it very cheaply on the roadside in India. It is all hand patchwork and applique in tiny stitches and is hard to imagine how long it must have taken to design and sew. The backing looks like pieces of hessian joined together with a large stamp on the underside which suggests that it had been maybe a sack for grain or beans.
This reminded me of my Aunt in Galway who was amazing at all arts and crafts. She bought flour in large sacks for her lovely bread, and then washed the bags for all kinds of use as it was lovely and soft and very strong.
We have had a lot of new deliveries in the shop lately and I haven't had time to try the new patterns yet as we've been busy with orders but will get to them.
I found a photo of my grandson and a friend as children standing on a lovely tile pattern lino so am now working on a quilt of that pattern. Its great to take 'photo's of floor or wall tiles as they can be a good base for patchwork. Here is the floor that inspired me and a block based on the floor using a shibori fabric charm pack which will be in the shop in September. I'm going to do a different sashing to the one on the floor pattern but I haven't decided what I will do yet.
We are all looking forward to this years exhibition, called Newtownmountkennedy QuiltFest. It is a joint effort between us and the Wicklow Patchwork Group, of which we are members. The last joint one two years ago (we have the shop one each year) was amazing with quilts from experienced and very new quilters and I love them all. It is encouraging to see what can be done and to those who tell us they love it but can't sew ----come and try and you will find you can and will love it more.
Tip --- are you having difficulty threading a machine or hand sewing needle? Try cutting the thread at a slant, sounds mad but it works.
First of all a very big "thank you" to all who attended the patchwork retreat in Glendalough. It was great fun and I really enjoyed it. It was great meeting new and old friends, you were all so lovely and got on very well together. Some people made the same quilt but they all had their own personalities. We would love to see the finished quilts.
While I was away the cat could play..............in my sewing room!
That reminds me that last year we had family home for Christmas ( I love to see them) so in the preparation my sewing room was filled with junk. So when they left a major clearout was needed. The (tiny) room was first emptied and painted white and my new SewEzi table installed to hold my good friend the Bernina. The machine is about 16 years old and I love it. Every time I sit to sew I hope it will last forever.
I found lots of left over fabrics and cut them into 8" squares, sewed them together and made curtains. They really brighten the room and I have lots of reminders of previous quilts. My sewing machine was also given a present of a new cover. I can now go in there, put on a favourite CD and sew for hours. I usually like to sew to 60's music, it would be interesting to know what others like to sew by?
On a different note, this week I attended a Special Olympics ladies basketball match between Lakers and Killester. The players all played very well and win or lose they enjoyed it, supported each other and kept smiling.
It is always wonderful to watch the ABILITIES of such amazing people.
Tonight we are going to the Mermaid theatre in Bray to watch Laker's annual concert. We have been going for many years and if you want to be uplifted and have great fun then that is the place to be. The talent is brilliant and gets better each time. All the coaches and helpers need a huge 'thank you'.
I'm hopping again.... we have a plaque in the shop that says "There are no Mistakes". I love this as what we do is all a learning curve and "mistakes" can always be turned into something else if we really cannot stand them.
Nothing needs to be perfect - others usually don't notice and we are our own biggest critics.
The Amish people say "Only God is Perfect,"
I am sure many of you know this but we were told it and like to pass it on.... when joining strips of fabric together lengthwise sew the first two together left to right and add the next strip from right to left. Continue in this alternate way to end up with a straight piece of fabric.
If all the strips are sewn from the same end they will fan out. It doesn't make sense to me but I have seen it happen.
Why is it that half square triangles end up at different sizes even though great care is taken to keep them the same? I start mine off bigger than needed and cut them down so that they are all the same size.
I am trying to design a new pattern, will see if it works! I am about to chop up a panel I don't like much and insert other bits. It will either kill or cure it....will let you know.
Happy sewing everyone!!
As far back as I can remember I have sewn. As children my friend and myself used to rummage in a remnant box in a local junk shop for fabric scraps to make doll's clothes. I had a love of fabric then - the feel of it, the colour, and what it could become. I have no idea what else was in that shop because all I could focus on was the fabric.
My earliest memory of hand sewing was in school aged about 7 or 8. We had to embroider a tray cloth. There were lazy daisies on one side which I loved sewing but then we were told to do straight stitches around the edge! Horrors! It seemed to go on for ever and my stitches got bigger and bigger as I tried to finish it......The teacher made me take the stitches out and start again. That put me off embroidery for a long time and probably was responsible for the strange stitching that emerges now.
My mother bought me an old treadle machine at a jumble sale and later a table top one. I developed a love/hate relationship with them and learnt to use them by trial and a lot of error ( and bad language ). Recently, a kind lady came into our shop to give us an old machine with a bullet shaped bobbin which brought back memories.
I remember as a child my father saying 'blue and green should never be seen'. I wonder if that was the start of my contrariness as I love blue and green together.
I have met ladies in the shop who either love or hate green. Colour seems to have different memories for us. For a long time I have really disliked purple and orange and yet I now have made a quilt with a large amount of both of those colours and it seems to work.
Colour is very much personal choice and for me it's value that makes a piece interesting. Value is how light or dark a colour is.
Thinking of colour reminds me of my garden. It's not very big but I can spend ages pulling weeds and admiring plants (very relaxing). All seasons are special but Spring is magic as I plant bulbs in Autumn and forget where and what they are so there are many surprises in Spring. I love to see what has appeared each day and listen to the birds as they go about their days.
Then there are the ones I never planted!! Two years ago I found a lovely little plant with white flowers. I have now discovered it is wild garlic and is taking over the garden. There can be too much of a good thing!
Some years ago a sunflower appeared in Sinead's garden and grew to about 12 ft -- big surprise, especially as we initially thought it was a potato!!
To me gardening and patchwork are alike in that we can use wonderful colours and if we don't like the position of something it can be moved. Ours is an equal opportunity garden, the cat drinks from the bird bath and the hedgehog eats the cat food. I approach patchwork in a similar way, nothing is sacred, everything can be moved or rearranged and that makes it more fun. Except for when I have to keep using the stitch ripper.
Welcome to my first blog post. Here is where I will attempt to tell you how I experience creativity. As I'm writing and also making things, a lot of memories come up. So I'd like to share some of them with you and also some ideas about what's coming next in terms of my creative endeavours, as they are happening.
As the name of the blog suggests, I tend to meander as I create and I have a feeling that will happen with writing these posts too. Memories, ideas, flashes of inspiration, silly mistakes, they all happen not in isolation but overlapping and sometimes all at once so it is hard to see the start of one and the end of another. Much like life. This is how I experience and enjoy creativity and I hope to share some of that with you through this blog.
I was asked to write a blog - a few times! First of all, what is a blog? Of course I have heard the term but was never interested in what it meant. Is it initials for something? I looked it up and it seems it is just a made up word for writing a kind of diary on the internet (Blog27 is a Polish music group). Blogging started in the late 1990's!! So it's high time I found out about it.
I have never written a diary so this is a bit alien to me and I am also technically challenged (bit of a problem). I really admire people who can easily find their way around a computer - apart from the basics I am lost, I feel my head is scrambled.
This reminds me of when one of my sons was small, he called scrambled eggs - 'jangled begs' - that's what computers do to me.
I once did an Art and Ceramics course that included computers, that was the only part that terrified me. I had never sat in front of one and a mouse was something the cat chased. Anyway we had a wonderful very patient teacher and I learnt to manage 'Word', to email and to do simple graphics. That's it!
I also learnt to welcome a challenge and try something new. I love to try different crafts and even mix them up at times so maybe it's time to try a blog and see how the two mix. Luckily Sinead and Caitriona (my daughters and co-workers) are very good at the technical side of the business as well as the rest of it so they will help*
Sinead suggested a name for the blog - 'Marie's Musings' - I am not really a musing person - sounds a bit formal. I couldn't think of a word for Jangly Scrambles so we put it to the vote and asked our newsletter subscribers and facebook followers to help. Our favourite suggestion was 'Marie Meanders', suggested by Anne Synnott. I like this name because that's what my brain tends to do.
It's like I have a little bird in my brain, hopping around from one thing to another. It settles for a while on one idea but quickly gets distracted and hops off to another. Sometimes I have to try to persuade the bird to stay in one spot until I have finished what it has inspired me to start, sometimes I don't bother. Following the bird is too much fun sometimes!
Life is not always plain sailing and I've found having an interest in a craft settles the mind which in turn puts a problem in perspective or gives me temporary reprieve from it. The colours, the textures, the designs are therapeutic and uplifting to me. Being creative is part of my life, it's something I have to do. It is not an escape, it's a joy. It's like the ultimate friend, it provides comfort when I need it and also launches me into a feeling of uplifting fun, it's like a journey. Pick a colour you like, put it with another and see where it takes you. Keep adding to it and see where it goes, especially using up scraps as then you cannot overthink it, you use whats there. One side of the brain stops overthinking, the other takes over and the magic happens. There is a example below of one of these projects.
Sewing is something that can be done in isolation or with other people. I enjoy both and it's been lovely to meet so many amazing people through quilting and crafts. I find them so generous with their time and time, inspiration and skills.
An elderly lady once said that we have a duty to pass on our knowledge of crafts otherwise they will die out, we try to do that in the shop by sharing what we have learnt and continue to learn with others.
*but only if I'm not making too big a mess in the shop during a creative episode!
Here is an example of playing with scraps. I used a background of calico, gathered some leftovers from a project and cut and positioned them piece by piece using bondaweb on the back. I played around until I had them in a way I liked. I stuck them down with the iron, sewed around them with various stitches, added embroidery and a few beads and backed and bound it. It is not actually quilted as it is a small piece and I didn't want to add any further stitching to the top. It is fun to do small pieces inbetween big quilts, it takes the pressure off your back and rests the brain and allows you to play.