Branding, branding everywhere

As part of my Professional Practice module I have been designing logos for use on my work and business stationery. For me this is some of the most fun bits of the end of college - the finishing touches, the details and the stationery! I have written before about the origin of Rats as Big as Cats, and now I am taking my tweaked logo and going crazy with it. 

I had a bunch of vinyl decals made at college to go on packaging in the future, but at the moment they are just appearing everywhere....


The Crafts Cluster: Final Countdown

Just a quick post to tell you about a series of posts called 'The Final Countdown' I am doing over at The Crafts Cluster blog about the last few weeks at college. If you want to find out about all the work that goes into putting on a show, bop on over and check it out.


Remember Me

 On Thursday I had my first gig as a community artist. I was one of three artists who were running the live drawing event at The Courtyard as part of their Remember Me event, a day designed to not only to raise awareness about dementia, but to allow those with dementia, their carers, family and friends to come together for a fun day out at The Courtyard. It was a huge success and we were busy all day. 

Our part of the activities was encouraging people to help us complete the huge wall hanging. There was painting, drawing, stamping, collaging and a whole lot more. It was a wonderful event and the resulting piece looked very impressive from the second floor balcony. 

For my part I was making free motion embroidery pictures of the people who were drawing which were then stitched onto the bigger piece. I loved how much the drawings and paintings surrounding my pieces bring them to life!

I was very pleased with how my contributions turned out and I had a steady stream of people watching me as I was stitching up these pictures. There is something about the immediacy and unexpectedness of drawing with a sewing machine that fascinated people - though I failed in getting anyone else to have a go on the machine. 

Working with older people was not something I planned on doing but my work with The Courtyard on this project and on the Red Suitcase Project has had a profound effect on me, my work and my plans for graduate life. It has been unexpected and brilliant. Helping older people reclaim part of their lives they thought they'd lost to dementia has been a privilege. I am looking forward to working in this area more as a I graduate... which is terrifyingly close now!


My First Jumper

I recently posted about knitting in the pub. My aim to knit a jumper post graduation went a bit wrong. Wrong because I've only gone and finished it! This flew together so quickly. I have always been put off the idea of knitting clothes for myself because I thought it would take too long and I would get bored. The opposite was true. By using big needles and chunky wool this jumper took took shape over the course of a about ten days, and I am thrilled. Yes it is a bit short, a bit wonky and my tension is...variable shall we say, but it is an actual jumper. One that I have been wearing to stay cosy while battling my final collection. Trouble with a big fluffy jumper and a white quilt is that the defluffing of the finished pieces has become epic!

I've already cast on my next project and it is already growing nicely courtesy of an unexpected hangover yesterday. I don't think I need to worry too much about being bored when I graduate I've already got orders from BorderlineStraggler for a hand knit jumper of his own...



Things are coming to an end around here, one of the more annoying things being my diary. I have either worked in, or been in, education for the last 9 years meaning that my new year always starts in September and diaries are bought in August. Now I am about to leave education I am finding myself a little short in the diary department. The last date in my current diary is July and I'm already getting booked up for events past then.

I know that one solution should be an electronic diary but as I am not office based at the moment I find a paper diary easier to use. And of course I love any excuse for pretty stationery. Or normally I do, turns out trying to buy a new diary in May is nigh on impossible. Like fabric I don't really buy much stationery online, I like to feel the weight of the paper, and the incidental purchases that come with entering a real life stationery shop. But this time I had to. I got myself a cheap 2013 diary online and set about customising it.

You can just about see in the picture above that the diary is double layered. I have rebound the diary pages in a binding called do-si-do. What you get is a diary on one side and a notebook on the other. I made a whole stack of these kind of diaries a couple of years ago for a pop-up shop and they were a huge success, but because I use an academic diary I never got round to keeping one for myself!

The notebook side is made up of a whole selection of different paper stocks. I really love having a mix of different pages to write on and since I learnt to bookbind two years ago all my notebooks have had a mishmash of different stock.

The diary/notebook is covered with some of my precious Melody Miller Ruby Star Shining fabric with the selvedge edge left deliberately raw. I love how this project means I have been able to eek out every scrap of this fabric. I'm really excited to start filling this diary with post graduation plans, both grand and mundane!


A quilt for Esther

All my friends seem to be having Big Birthday's this year. Lots of zero's appearing and people moving from one age box to the next. One such person is Esther and to commemorate her reaching the big 2-1 I made her a quilt. I wanted it to be special and something that she would love so I commissioned some fabric from a very talented print maker on our course Clare Shepherd. She has just started blogging about her work here, I'm particularly enjoying her Inspiration Station posts. Esther and I have both been in love with Clare's work for several years and it seemed the perfect way to add a little something special to quilt. 

I gave Clare free rein when it came to the colours of the prints and then built my palette around it. I  am thrilled with the great job she did - so much so that it took me a while to build up the courage to start cutting into it.

I wanted to show off the fabric to its best and eventually decided to have one fussy cut block to show off the tower print, contrasted with bigger blocks of the print to show the repeat.

It backed with a Joel Dewberry print I'd been hoarding for a while and bound with a contrasting fuchsia pink cotton. I kept the quilting very minimal and went for 3 inch wide diagonal lines that remind me of candy cane stripes. It is lap quilt sized, just perfect to snuggle up under on the sofa when you don't want to share. 

It is almost impossible to make a super secret project for your housemate and this quilt has mostly been made while Esther's been out at work. This has made me work quickly and decisively, which has been no bad thing. Research for this quilt has helped me realise that my quilts come together most easily when I don't think about them too much. I pick a stack of fabric and then just improvise the sections as I go along. There was a lot of browsing through Ashley's blog Film in the Fridge for improv inspiration and I am itching to get started on my next non college quilt!


Stitching and the Pub

There is a pub in Hereford that everyone goes to. I don't just mean all the people I know, I mean all the people. All of them. It isn't even a very nice pub. My hatred of it is well known amongst my friends and the idea of me going there never fails to bring a "you - in the barrels?? Seriously?" comment. I have a whole list of issues with the place but the main one is how busy it gets. There is a huge outside area filled with picnic benches complete with umbrella's and those heater things which you can feel burning away the earth's resources with every blazing bright orange second which gets full - full like bars on the strip in some awful brits abroad resort full. I suffer from PTSD and big crowds of drunk people in a confined space are big triggers for me. This makes the barrels at the weekend my own little piece of hell but on occasion I have to go there (usually to support friends in need) and this weekend I have had to go twice.

One of the most effective coping strategies I have is craft. The physical act of knitting engages enough of my brain to keep me calm in these stressful situations. I have got to the point with knitting that I can happily stitch without having to look at what I am doing, leaving me with plenty of mental space to carry on chatting with my friends easily. The main requirement for this sort of knitting is that it should be very simple and repetitive, no heel turning here or complicated cabling. With two barrels trip looming this weekend, I decided to get a head start on one of my 'When I Graduate' goals and give knitting a jumper a go. This jumper to be exact, in a midnight blue yarn. Yes it is far too chunky to enjoy now but will be brilliant come autumn time.

I've never made any full size person clothes before. I get easily bored so the idea of slogging through a huge garment has put me off, but I decided to try the big needles/big wool school of thought and give it a go. I made so much progress.

This was me casting on the jumper at 3pm, I did about 2 hours of knitting with nbnq while catching up and then three hours in the pub and I have almost got the back of a jumper!! I am very excited by the speed of this and am practically looking for excuses to go to the pub just to crack on with this project.

So, if you see me in the pub and I've got my knitting out, don't be offended, I'm not ignoring you. I'm keeping the crazy in check. If you're lucky I'll be making a big blanket with room to snuggle under while I'm stitching, come have a cwtch.


Inspired by a hip hop side project

I'm currently running a community arts project. It is my first time running a project like this and it has been a very steep learning curve. I am working with a really enthusiastic team of HCA students but I felt a bit disconnected from the project. We had a month break over the Easter period and I found getting back into the swing of things was challenging.

The blogsphere is a wonderful thing and as I was trying to figure out what my problem was this post from Kim of Finest Imaginary popped up in my reader and hit me over the head. What I needed to do was face up to the fact I might not have been doing the best job of managing this project and do something about it! A flurry of pro-active ness overtook me, setting up catch up meetings with my student participants, review meetings with the Courtyard, visiting the homes we were working with and generally getting on top of things. As is always the way with these things it is the little changes that make all the difference. A mid project review lunch gave everyone the chance to discuss their experiences, make suggestions and get us all feeling like a project team again. We are going to have weekly show-and-tell sessions with the work each group is doing and as an opportunity to share our experiences. The guys I am working with are great, they have been consistently enthusiastic and engaged in the project, and forgiving of my learning curve mistakes, and helped me rediscover my mojo. I'm looking forward to sharing my design for my own Red Suitcase quilt.

Thank you guys.

You can check out the Red Suitcase Project blog here and see how we are getting on. The quilts are really starting to grow so expect lots of pictures in the next few weeks!


When enough is enough

I am happy to report that the first piece in my final collection is at the 'stabby' stage which is the last stage in being completed! I spent several hours today contemplating this quilt trying to figure out when it was finished. My quilts are generally made through a simple drawings and samples before I work on a full size piece. The grid patterns and voids which make up my designs are tinkered with while I am making responding to the rhythm of the piece. As there is no drawing or completed design I'm working to, trying to decide when a piece is finished is a delicate task. Too much stitching and the subtlety of the work is lost, to little and it is just a white grid sewn onto a quilt. This stage usually involves a lot of head tilting, umming and ahhing.

My final collection is based around architecture of my youth and translating the details of these buildings into quilts using very regimented dense stitching and contrasting voided areas. This first piece has seen me expand from using only grids to including some other structural stitch. I'm particularly taken with this section of zig-zag stitch.

After a lot of head titling I took the plunge and at lunchtime I called this quilt finished and starting tidying it up.

I enjoy the finishing stage of my quilts. The joy at squaring off an edge, seeing it transform from pieces of fabric and thread into a proper finished thing. There is an evening's worth of handsewing left to do to finish of the binding but I can't for the life of me find my thimble at the moment so this is on hold till later - the last thing this quilt needs is pinpricks of blood on the edge!

I'm looking forward to sharing more little peeks at my collection and the inspiration behind it in these last few weeks leading up to the big reveal in my degree show.


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