Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy, Happy, Happy

I feel its somehow not quite proper to say this... but I'm feeling very pleased with myself. After so many weeks of gnawing anxiety the quiting went like an absolute dream. No puckers, no wrinkles, no need to restretch or repin. Couldn't have possibly hoped for a better result.

The lessons I have taken from this quilt (because there are always lessons to learn - even after 20 years) is that pinning to within an inch of quilt's life works, that stitching through the joins of large pieces works and (probably most importantly) using loosely woven wools on the backing may create more work than it is worth, even if they look and feel divine.

I'm left with an awful lot of ends to stitch into the quilt - but that happens when you really want to quilt lines in only one direction in one part of a quilt.

And after all, there are so many worse things to be doing in winter than sitting in front of a fire stitching threads into quilts.... At this rate I will be able to gift it several month's in advance of the recipient's next birthday - always good to keep the gifts within the calender year in question! All makes me feel happy, happy, happy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My heart is in my mouth

I think on of the reasons that the kimono quilt I am currently working on has taken me soooo long is because I've been dreading getting to the quilting. Last time I tacked something similar it was a shambles as it kept moving - here's a wonderful reminder of just how awful it was.... A living nightmare I can't face again.I think I had to restretch and repin this three times in the course of quilting and it still wasn't marvellous. Fortunately the recipients weren't that familiar with quilts - either that or they were just far too polite to comment.

Anyway I've been dreading having to go through it all again and was determined that this time it should be different. So I've started by putting more pins in this quilt than I ever have before... I have used practically every safety pin I own - and that's a fairly considerable number.

My second strategy has been to quilt in the ditch through every seam line in the quilt in the hope this will hold it a bit more stable. So far I have only put in 10 lines of vertical quilting, so the jury is still out - in the meantime I have my heart in my mouth.

If this doesn't work I'll be swearing off quilting big pieces with stretchy wool kimono fabrics for life! Famous last words.....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Voice from the Past

I've had this sampler for a little while but this week was the first time I'd really started researching the background to it. As you can probably see it was made by Florence Shilling in 1895. It was made at Donaldson's Hospital - I've always wondered what this was but discovered this week that it was / is a school in Edinburgh. Founded in 1851 the school focused on the education of poor children in the city and specialised in education for deaf and mute children. Since 1938 the school, now called Donaldson's College, has been exclusively for deaf students. The building the school was originally in was just amazing, although ultimately unsuited to educating children. During WWII the school was used as a prisoner of war camp which housed German and Italian prisoners. The building was recently sold and in 2008 the school moved to a new purpose built facility.

The original building is now being developed into apartments - and to think my little sampler has found its way from this extraordinary place to the other side of the world, to a house where there is another principal of a special school (my husband) who has just been able to open a new facility for his students. Clearly serendipity at work here.

And by way of warning - see if you can spot the image of part of the sampler in the photo below. It's the cardboard that the sampler has been sitting on for an unknown number of years. If you look closely you can see how the acid in the board has leached colour out of the sampler leaving an image on it.

Needless to say now that I know more of its history and condition I'm on the case so it can be framed in an acid-free environment. Hopefully it will then last another 116 years and Florence's creative voice will continue to be seen and heard.