Happy New Year!

Bonne Année!
明けましておめでとうございます。

Pink

I've been obsessed with the colour pink, more precisely the colour of sakura. One of the ways to say pink in Japanese is to use "sakura colour" 桜色 (sakura iro).
I can see a sakura quilt in my near future. I still have lots of pink fabric, but I needed to dye some blue for the sky. I did a few small pieces, and two larger ones. That should be sufficient for the quilt I have in mind.
The colours are brighter in reality, but today is a pretty dull day and I can't get the colours right.

I also did a few monotypes, on paper. Pictures will be for another post.

More monotyping

The weather is still pretty mild for the season. We've had no strong frost yet. Which means some of the summer flowers are still blooming.
I did more monoprinting experiments. On fabric, and with acrylic paint. I added fabric medium to the paint this time. (New fabric paints are on my Christmas shopping list.)
I finished the fringe of my woven scarf. Better late than never...
And I sewed this little rosebud scrap quilt.
I now have 6 little scrap quilt tops ready for quilting. Nice little projects for the holiday season.
In January, I'd like to start working on larger quilts again.

This week

Here's the little mosaic of the week...
Still trying to use up my Twelve by Twelve Colorplay fabric scraps, I decided to make a small quilt with some rosebud prints left over from this pink 12x12 piece.
First, I had to overdye some of them in a nice turquoise colour. Then, I tried a few colour schemes on my design board. I settled for a turquoise, red, yellow and dark purple one. This will be the quilt project of next week.
I did a tiny bit of weaving too, as I still had a short warp on the loom. (Don't like to waste all that yarn...)
Next weaving project will be a white one I think.
I did some drawing and painting also.
Btw, do you know that Alisa Burke is offering a free online class these days, here? How nice of her!
Yesterday and today, I played with acrylic paints and monotype. On fabric and paper.
I like this one. It was made with fluid acrylics on an old piece of linen. I will do more of this next week too.
Now I still have to do a short writing exercise in Japanese, and the week will be wrapped up.

A New Addition to the Kitchen

I have a new addition to my kitchen, a Kitchenaid mixer:

do I need one, probably not, but I just couldn't resist it.  Too many colours to choose from but this one matches my tagine.  I am busy collecting new recipes to try out.  Perpermint Chocolate Cupcakes sounds a good place to start.  I am always a little apprehensive when I have a new toy so I shall be a little cautious.  (It took me months to pluck up the courage to use my food processor, silly me).

December...

Already? Really?... Am I losing the blogging habit?
I'm afraid I am...
I still take pictures of my work though. I even had this little mosaic ready at the end of October, showing a little peek at my sketchbooks and some beautiful paintings of my GD...
I don't know where November went... I didn't get much studio time, but I managed to do two small quilt tops, one mixed media painting, and lots of sketching.
I also finished my colourful piece of weaving and started another one, although I try to be careful with this as my back pain might  be coming from there.
On the Japanese studies front, I finished the first unit of "Japanese for Busy People II", I know about 140 kanji (still a long way to go!), and I discovered the NHK News Web Easy, which is wonderful. :-)

And now, let's see if December can be a blogging month... Once a week maybe? What do you think?

The Last Clinic by Darla by Gary Guisick






The book starts right away with a murder.   Rev Aldridge is shot whilst protesting outside an abortion/health centre.  The centre provides health care for women not just abortions and Aldridge and his fellow protestors are keen to close it down.  
Darla Cavannah, a detective, moved to Jackson with her pro footballer husband who was tragically killed in a vehicle accident.  Still grieving Cavannah was assigned to the case to solve the murder.

I am keen to see how the romance between Darla and Stephen progresses if indeed it does.  Perhaps we will find out in future releases.

I was drawn into the story from the beginning and found it difficult to put down, a sign of a good read. 
 
I received a review copy from Netgalley.

Canton Elegy

Stephen Ah Nom was born in China and aged 6 was sent, by his grandfather, to  the US to get a  good education.  On completion of his degree he was unable to gain employment because he was Chinese and so returned to China.   Stephen wanted his children and grandchildren to know about him and so he wrote what was in effect a really long letter to them.  He kept it hidden and it only came to light after his death.   This is one of the most heart warming memoirs I have ever read.  Canton Elegy was a wonderful read.  Stephen and his wife’s courage  is truly amazing.  

Stitching

I did a lot of stitching lately. I wanted to overdye a few fabric pieces.
I chose another blue, cobalt blue, for the second bath. I believe the first one was cerulean blue. (I did the first layer a long time ago.) I'm using cold reactive dyes.
I am still trying to use the green/blue fabric in a quilt. But really, it isn't working! Here's a little peek at my design wall.
Maybe it needs to be overdyed too. I think I'm going to try a very dark blue.

My blog post in Japanese last week was just a little test. I intended to explain it earlier, but in the meantime, I got an awful back pain and didn't feel like sitting at the computer... Anyway, the idea was to see how Japanese script looked on my blog. No, I don't intend to blog in Japanese. Not yet ;-)
I simply wanted to add a page to my blog with some kanji I'm trying to memorize in order to be able to "read" my Japanese magazines more quickly. I call it my "Japanese glossary". Of course it is a work in progress and it is still very short at the moment.
And just in case you wonder, the title of the post means "kanji", and the phrase means "it's raining today" as you might have guessed from the picture.
Today, it is sunny. Here's a little pic I took this afternoon in my garden...

Forget Me Knot

I have just finished reading Forget me Knot by Mary Marks.  It is a wonderful mystery.  I love how quilting was interspersed with the murder mystery. I enjoyed all the little quips like the reference to Poirot.  I also liked the detail of quilting like how Martha used an 11 needle to stitch.  Something I use myself.  It was full of intrigue with many twists and turns.  It started when Martha Rose, the main character, and two of her quilting budies went to the home of a fellow quilter, Claire Terry,  and found her dead.  Although the police were involved in the search for the murderer Martha just couldn't help getting involved.   I loved the idea of the quilts telling the story of Claire's life. At risk of her own life being taken Martha continued her search for the person who killed Claire. Very clever using the French knots to guide Martha to the killer.   It certainly kept me on the edge of my seat.  I look forward to reading more from Mary Marks.  If you love a mystery and enjoy quilting this is a book for you.

Experimental Flowers in Watercolour

I loved this book.  Ann Blockley explores experimental techniques and explains the texture of various flowers and vegetation.   The accompanying photographs in the book are clear and made me want to get out the watercolours and brushes.  A beautifully presented book.  I loved the use of gesso and cling film in some of Ann's work.  This certainly was something a little different.  A must for any artists's bookshelf.  

漢字


今日は雨です。


This is just a little test!

The Vicar's Wife

I have just finished reading The Vicar's Wife by Katharine Swartz.  A new auhor to me so I wasn't sure what to expect.   I was completely taken in by the stories of the two main characters Alice and Jane.  Alice was a young bride when she moved to the small Cumbrian village with her husband a vicar.

Jane was an American living in New York with her British husband and 3 children.  Jane led a hectic life running a charity and jugling family life.  After 16 years living in New York Jane's husband wanted to relocate to a small Cumbrian village and so they bought the vicarage where Alice once lived.

I was completely enthralled reading the two narratives, Jane in the present and Alice in the 1930s and the early war years. 

When decorating Jane came across a shopping list which intrigued her and made her want to know more about the person who wrote it and who had lived in the vicarage before Jane and her family bought it.

I loved reading about the family's trials and tribulations as they tried to make a new life in their new home and also the life that Alice had lived.  

A great read that really captured my imagination.

Do ahead Dinners

I have just read through James Ramsden's Do ahead Dinners.   This is the time of the year for comfort food and at a time when we are all so very busy do ahead dinners seemed like a great idea.  If you are entertaining then it is always good to have as much as possible prepared in advance so that you can spend time with your family. 

Some things can be done days ahead and hours ahead even frozen part way through although I am not a fan of the freezer.  Although the recipes are geared for 6-8 people they can easily be altered for fewer people.  It is a book giving practical ideas for staged cooking and is not gimmicky.  The fennel soup sounds gorgeous and one I am certainly going to try is scotch quails eggs.  I am never sure what to do with quails eggs.  I have only ever boiled or poached them.  A very nice book and one I will add to my already large cookbook library.



Quilting with a Modern Twist

I have just finished reading this most interesting book.   Quuilting with a Modern Slant by Rachel May.  It introduces 70 modern quilters.  Some are household names and others are less well known and some are known through their blogs.  Altogether a very interesting selection.   Although the projects are basic the quilters introduce their stories, techniques and projects which will have you diving into your fabric stash.

I think this wiould be a great book for the City and Guild student.  I wish it was around when I did my City & Guilds in Patchwork and Quilting.   It would be a great resource for all levels of C&G students.

As a quilt judge I was intrested in reading about modern quilkts and what they are.  Quilting with a modern Twist is certainly going to take a place in my book library.  It was provided to me by Netgalley for review. 

Indian Summer

We are enjoying very mild temperatures for this time of year.
Summer plants are blooming again. We even discovered a few tiny fraises des bois in the garden.
The other day, I had a little student. I'm not sure GD's way of holding her tapestry needle is very academic, but it is incredibly efficient...
She also made herself a beautiful necklace.
No need for a needle here, we used very stiff cotton yarn.

Next is a little peek at some of my sketchbooks...
I've been trying to draw everyday for several months now. Some days, it's only a five minute sketch, or just a little colour experiment.
I made some of the above sketches while taking Alisa Burke's "Summer Sketch" online workshop. Two or three drawings are from my travel sketchbooks. And the last one must have been inspired by Carla Sonheim's "Imaginary Creatures" workshop I took last year.

Two prints

Here are two of the ugly prints I did the other day. (I don't find them that ugly anymore!)

While sorting my pictures today, I stumbled upon this one...
I wanted to make a blue/green scrap quilt, inspired by the pictures I took in Fontaine de Vaucluse in July. Eventually, it turned into a yellow/orange quilt. Now I think I need to use this blue/green background to make another piece in the series.
And here is, at last, a photo of one of the baby quilts I made for GD2, plus the baby on top of the quilt!  (The picture was taken about two months ago.)

Summer is over




Here's the third quilt of the Colorplay scraps series...
Today, I spent a couple of hours printing fabric with dye paste. Most of the results are just an ugly mess... Well, I had no real plan in mind, and I started with ugly fabric in the first place. But I did have fun and I got some new ideas for the next printing session. And a few prints, like this one, might even be usable.

Back from Alsace

We spent a lovely week in Alsace.  The wuilt show was lovely and we did a bit of sighseeing.  The weather was good which was a bonus.

I bought a lovely souffle dish and just need to find time to  make something with it.


I also found a lovely mould to make a traditional bread/cake. 

Nice additional to my cookery collection.  

Asian Pickles Japan

This little book had some lovely recipes both traditional and Karen Solomon's own recipes.  I liked the fact that there were no poreservatives or artificial colourings or flavourings in the recipes which so many shop bought pickes have in them.

Karen explains how to make and serve the pickes.  I now have a  better understanding of the techniques used to pickle and the various marinades.  I look forward to reading the others in the series.

The Trial of Dr Kate

I started reading this book immediately after reading Little Joe.  I was glad I did because there were characters in this book that appeared in Little Joe as well.

Shenandoah Coleman, a newspaper reporter, who used to like in Round Rock as a child returns to cover the trial of a childhood friend Dr Kate Marlow. Dr Kate was charged with the murder of Lillian Johnson who was found slumped in her wheelchair with a syringe lying close by.

Although Kate and Shenandoah come from different backgrounds they became firm friends.  It is a murder mystery and an intriguing one at that.  The story whilst covering the murder also follows Shenandoeh's love story as she becomes involved with Glassock, a widow with a young son.   I wasn't prepared for the outcome of the trial  and subsequent reveal which was surprising.  A good read which kept me interested in the characters it introduced.


Little Joe

I just finished reading Little Joe.  It is a story of a little boy who survived a fatal car crash where both his parents were killed.   He was taken to live with his grandparents on their farm in Round Rock.  It was a difficult transition for little Joe as life on a farm was new to him.  It was a harsh life set in the 1940s.  The harsh realities of racism and bullying are things Joe is learning to understand.

It was a good story and one I enjoyed reading.

A new series?

I made another quilt with my Colorplay Twelve by Twelve scraps, using the same free piecing techniques as for this one.
Then I chose the colours for the next one, inspired by the pictures of water in my previous blog post. Here they are...
And here's the WIP...
My design wall looks like this today...
I'm not so sure there will be more than three quilts in this series. Or at least, I'm going to take a break from it, and start printing and painting my fabric scraps. I've had some new design ideas for  thermal screens and I need to try them out.
On the weaving front, I've got nothing new to show. Weaving is a very slow process, even compared with quilting.
And when I'm not in the studio, I'm spending a lot of time studying Japanese again.
In other news, summer is definitely over. The sky is grey and we lost more than 10°C in a few days. Never mind. I like autumn.





The Double Wedding Ring is the 5th of the Someday Quilt series.   I have to say it is my first time reading Clare O’Donohue.   

 Nell moved to a small town and met and fell in love with a local police chief called Jesse who has a young daughter.  Nell, an artist, works in her grandmother’s quilt shop.  Everything seems to be going fine for Nell until one evening a former colleague of Jesse is found shot dead in his car outside Jesse’s house.   And so the turns and twists of this murder mystery starts to take shape.  I never expected the ending, what a turn of events.   A good read and makes me want to read the rest in the series.  The mystery intertwined with the happenings at the quilt shop was very interesting for me as a quilter myself.

Visit to the Allotment

Just went up to the allotment to check how things were doing and ended up staying there all day.  The weather was good although a little windy.

Picked some potatoes.  Red Rooster, Shetland Black and Winston which are huge.

I also picked some mixed beans.  Love the colours of these.  There are some Asparagus Peas in there too.





Norman's cabbages are growing well.  I love making coleslaw with them at this time of the year although they are also lovely steamed with other veg.

I am in need of a rest now.  Plenty exercise and fresh air. 




I also picked the remainder of the raspberries.  Just enough to make a raspberry roulade.  That should go down well.  It is lovely a sunny and I am thinking I might get the BBQ on the go. I will see if I have enough energy left.