Thursday, 28 June 2012

Darn it! (my cake is back)

Oh imagine my delight in seeing my patchwork cake back in the window of  Darn it and Stitch (the divine little Oxford Haberdashery)!
Hexagon Patchwork Cake (what I made) in Darn it & Stitch now
I got strong-armed, okay, sweet-talked by the delightful and charming craft-pusher (shop-keeper) Jo into making her a cake for her celebration/ competition for the shop's 1st birthday last year. It was my first finished patchwork thing and seeing it again and reflecting on it now I'm even more proud! 
But I missed out on the 2nd anniversary celebrations, a yarn bombing of Oxford, as I was off with another of my hats on doing my Sciencebook stuff on a Windfarm (losing my heels into the mud). Plus I had to go to a bloody (lovely) wedding in that wet Wales so I missed out on the cakey party bit and Mr X Stitch's workshop too! 
Yeah that's right - patchwork candleGutted though I was to have missed all of the birthday celebrations I'm in the photos of the Darn it and Stitch item on page 11 of this month's Mollie Makes twice, plus my make and note are on the shop's window display - so I still feel as though I was involved!  
I love Darn it and Stitch. The lovely things, space and people - obviously! Dropping by to chat to Jo and buy stuff I don't need, but couldn't live without... But I also love the impact on the Oxford craft, designer/maker community it has clearly had - and feeling a part of it.  I'm thrilled with the skills I have learned and the places it's taking me creatively and personally. It's great to hear Jo's big plans for the Darn it & Stitch Universe and I can never wait to see the new (Pin Works) workshops to see where might fancy taking myself next!

I'm so proud that I made that cake. I'm flattered that it's out again for this year's celebration and I have to blush that my thank you note is in a frame on the window sill too! Roll on no. 3! 
Photo by Lady Butterworth's
Last year's Darn it and Stitch Birthday window - when it was 1.


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Hexagon patchwork necklaces (worth waiting for)

I knew this patchwork hexagon business was spiralling out of control early on, with a full quilt a faint, fuzzy dot on the horizon so I thought I'd make a couple of little things to give myself the warm joy of completing a thing or two. So I started to make some hexagon patchwork necklaces...
2 years later and I'm finishing the third one!

Hexagon patchwork necklace by nearlybutnotquite
They are hand pieced hexies, sewn onto a felt back ground and with a ribbon on. Sounds so easy, but it involved a bit of thinking and a lot of fiddly stitches... but here they are in my Etsy shop. I'm bloody proud of them. The first one has certainly been much admired. If only I could make them faster - but of course they still have to be perfect. Still, I can give it a shot!

Hexagon patchwork necklace by nearlybutnotquite
I like to think they'd look brilliant on a Chloe Sevingy, a Rita Ora or someone else brave with fashion.
Hey, a girl can dream right? 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

FQ All

'I'm going on a sewing retreat' conjures a picture which doesn't make sense to the people who know me and when I said it I got laughed at full in my face - every time!  A 'retreat' which suggest hippies at worst and certainly a weekend of contemplation and reflection was not really what the Fat Quarterly event was supposed to be, but rather a big stitchy jolly. Implausibly, it really did have that level of impact on me. I honestly learned an important lession in every session and lunch break.

Katy (a.k.a. Imagingermonkey) was teaching how to make clippy bags on Saturday morning
I had assumed that it would be a precision thing, and as I sat at an unfamiliar sewing machine (the kind and lovely Mandy set up her machine for me) I was terrified I might not be able to keep up, so I let my usual obsessive perfectionism go, ploughing on but scared that my mistakes would show up enormously... and I wasn't the only one. I went to lunch not my big bad self, but a mousey version. Partly down to the way hangovers work when you are over 30 sure... but still... peculiar for me.

The kind Fat Quarterly organisers though had spotted my anxiety and invited me to join them at lunch.  Brioni (Flossy Blossy) had the next set of revelations. It turns out that you can be a perfectionist who is undetered by fear! Better to have a go, fudge it and find your own way of doing things. Noone really knows what they're doing every step of the way. Ahhhh... *revelation no. 1*

After lunch back to Katy's bag group and we got to the glueing and finishing. Most of the questions asked by equally nervy quiltists 'just shove it in'.  But, um... 'what do Iii do?' 'just shove it in'. Ohhhh...! Brute force and persistence? Ahhhh... *revelation no. 2* 

Aneela Hoey (Comfort Stitching) had a huge and eager group to learn embroidery. She taught us how to do several kinds of stitches too. And it turns out the most important thing in successful embroidery isn't necessarily practice. It's 'patience'. With that word repeating in my head my French knot stitches worked and so did the others! Ahhh... *revelation no. 3*

So eager was I to practice my embroidery I accidentally got carried away and missed the evening event! Sewing and watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King in the hotel also makes for a cracking nerd night for me though. (End result here)

Kerry (a.k.a. Very Berry Kerry) was teaching freezer paper piecing on the Sunday morning and John (a.k.a. Quilt Dad) was teaching wonky log cabins in the afternoon. Kerry was teaching a precise, fiddly and tidy technique and Quilt Dad a much more relaxed 'eyeball it' thing. Both of them explained their technique saying 'this is the way that I do it - but do what works for you'... and then I realised that EVERYONE had said that. Every session AND lunch!  Ahhh... Right so when I struggle and feel like I'm bodging a thing and doing it wrong, actually I'm just doing it my own way and that's fine too? *revelation  city*!

Arriving at the Fat Quarterly Retreat I was a bit scared,  I hadn't joined in on the swaps, I didn't have blog friends to hug, and even in a more mixed crowd than the usual old lady stitchery I still didn't exactly blend in. But I still left having learned a great deal, with new skills, having met some really lovely people, made some yummy things, with lots of free stuff and having learned some big life lessons too! I'm already putting it into practice.
Watch this space for completed-stuff-erama!

The Fat Quarterly Retreat 2012 made me braver! Roll on FQR2013.