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Painting rocks

Who would have thought that painting rocks could be such fun and so addictive?

It all started on a very small scale back in early September. I read about the national craze sweeping the country for painting, hiding and hunting for painted rocks and thought what a lovely idea it is. I never thought to join in with this activity until our village Scarecrow festival. With the influx of thousands of visitors it would be fun to paint some stones featuring scarecrows for people to find as they walked around.

 

As well as hiding painted stones it is fascinating to see who finds them and (hopefully) track the stones on their travels.

To facilitate this, there are many rock hunting groups set up on Facebook and/or Instagram where people can photograph their painted stones, give clues as to where they are hidden and post triumphant pictures of the finders when the stones are spotted. So far to my knowledge, the furthest that one of my painted stones has travelled is from Leicestershire in the UK where I had hidden it in the local park to Majorca where the “Finder” was on holiday.

I belong to four rock painting/hunting groups, the two main ones being #Market Harborough Rocks our local group and #Islastones a group created for a little girl with DIPG cancer who sadly died in July this year.

Of course, when hiding a rock you need to provide details of the group to which you belong so that the finder can post a picture online showing that the rock has been found and where it was found. Not everyone wants to “play the game” and may leave the stone in situ, pick it up and keep it or, in some cases, throw it into the bin or hedgerow. I like to think that most people will join in by following the instructions given on the back of each rock and “photo, post on Facebook then re-hide or keep.” Personally, I always give the finder the option of keeping the stone on the basis that it is because they like it and makes them happy but always secretly hope that a picture of the stone will appear at some stage.

There is a lot more I can tell you about my new hobby and I will do in future posts. Meanwhile here are a few of my stones painted, hidden and in some cases, found over the past couple of months.

 

Guilt-free quilting

Going through difficult times and wanting to stay at home rather than venture further afield makes it very easy for me to feel guilty that I’m not doing anything. Of course that is nonsensical as it is impossible for me to do nothing except when at my lowest nadir confined to bed and sleeping all day.

So when I look back at the last week or so, although I haven’t been out and about as much as the previous week, I have still achieved a lot and should take pride in that instead of beating myself up. We could all learn that lesson and be kinder to oneself more often.

I finished my mini-quilt swap for my swap partner in the US. I will now be able to put it in the post and wait for her reaction. I just hope she likes it. Likewise, I will be waiting for mine to drop through the letterbox and I am sure I will love mine! Just the thought that someone has spent their precious time and energy on a project for me is warming and I love this idea of quilt swapping.

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Mini-quilt swap Spring 2017[/caption

My quilt-swap partner lives in Texas and I therefore settled on a pattern which has one star at the centre as I understand that Texas is known as the “Lone Star State.” I also hand-quilted it with stars. I love how you can personalise even the smallest quilt either by pattern or colour, or both and all quilts are made with love. They are almost living things and each one gifted goes with a piece of me.

I have also started to hand-quilt one for me. It is divided into 4 large squares which I will sash together when quilted. I find it very relaxing to sit and stitch in the evenings whilst watching TV. Good chill-out time and, as I am being creative and making something tangible, it’s all guilt-free.

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I am also learning a lot about the history of quilting both in the UK and the US. I have to say that the US wins the “most interesting” award and I am now fascinated with the quilting stories, history and myths which abound. All this in addition to the Civil War quilts and fabrics mentioned previously.

[caption id="attachment_14798" width="2560"]IMG_5075 Easy 4-square mini-quilt

I may not be racing around like an ant, but I am still being productive and creative. This should not be underestimated!

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Week 2- “productive”

After last week’s hectic schedule, this week just gone was a lot more relaxed and productive.

One of my favourite 2016 projects was revived for 2017 and I spent a couple of days putting together a “fidget” or “dementia activity” quilt following a request from a friend of my Aunt who had seen previous examples of mine on Facebook.

This project is more personal in that I have some information about the person I am making it for; I understand that he is a retired priest, a poet, loves Christmas and has an allotment. My task therefore is to tailor-make an activity quilt designed to be interactive, stimulate memories and discussion and to keep a sometimes troubled mind occupied.

I’m pleased with the result.

I also included a card printed with one of my favourite poems by Gerard Manley-Hopkins;

Pied Beauty.

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced –
fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

I hope he likes it.

 

Chalk it up to experience

One of my favourite pastimes which I discovered a couple of years ago is painting furniture. It’s amazing what a difference a coat or two of chalk paint can make to a tired table, chair, or set of wooden drawers.

These have been in my garage for a few years just waiting for my inspiration to flash and some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to come calling. I already had some stencils in my stash which added to the olde-worlde Parisienne look I was looking for.

Here’s the result.

Old-White coupled with a lovely muted Duck-Egg Blue and I have a pretty new piece of furniture to use.

These will hold lots of my fabric fat quarters, colour coordinated of course, and I am now on the look out for my next project.

 

114 Days of freedom-Days 5 and 6

Quilting took over my life yesterday to the extent that as soon as I had finished sewing, machine smoking, I went straight to bed. Hence, no “Day 5” of my 114 days of freedom. Instead, I have combined days 5 and 6.

I’ve always thought that patchwork quilting was more appreciated by the “older” generation, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the interest shown by Will’s housemates at University, his girlfriend and, especially by some of his mates (lads). Having said that, I am aware that at least one of his friends from school would like a quilt but doesn’t “dare” ask! I’ll leave it until I have finished my current commissions then contact him direct.Boys!

I currently have three quilts on the go, all at different stages; one is ready for quilting (disappearing 9-patch), one I am hand-quilting and I have just started the third this evening. A “disappearing 16 square” pattern which I have never tried before.

Quilters quilt for many different reasons. I was originally put off quilting because I wasn’t interested in the intricate putting together of small pieces of fabric, following difficult patterns and matching every seam to perfection.

I started to patchwork quilt as a child, hand-sewing hexagons together to make bedspreads and large floor cushion covers. I loved doing that. As as adult, my primary driver for quilting is colour. I love colour. I didn’t think about this until I started scrapbooking in earnest and many people commented on my use of colour. To me it is natural to put certain colours together which quite clearly to some, would be counter-intuitive. When I think back, when I wanted to decorate my front room in brown and blue I went to the specialist paint shop to get the colours I wanted mixed specially. I knew exactly which colours I wanted and it took a while for the guy to come up with the right mix. When he handed me the two tins of paint I always remember him saying, “Brave choice but it will look fantastic.” To me, it was quite run-of-the-mill and just different from swathes of safe Magnolia.

My quilts are therefore based on very simple, easy to do but interesting patterns focussing primarily on the use of colour. I believe that if I am using strong, co-ordinating  colours and quality fabrics, the pattern needs to be simple so that the quilt shows off the colours to their full extent. Quilts which combine amazing fabric patterns with intricate quilting patterns look messy to me and neither are shown to their full beauty. Of course this is my personal opinion, but I will stick to simple patterns and amazing fabrics for my quilts. It seems to work 🙂

Other reasons that I quilt;

  • I love making something useful. Ok, so I have piles of quilts that I have made which are stored in bed-drawers, but they are all called into use at different times. This year, I will be taking a couple over to our house in Iran.
  • I love making quilts as presents. Many of my friends are crafty/creative and my lastest acquisition are two crocheted beanie hats to match my pink and navy dog-walking wellies. In return, I will make a quilt. I love giving presents.
  • It is relaxing. To absorb mayself in colours, numbers, patterns and piecing together is to forget everything else and focus on the present. I am hopeless at Mindfulness as explained by the experts; To me, quilt-making is my Mindfulness.

I have boxes of gorgeous fabric just waiting to be made into quilts. But which colours scheme will be next?