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Walking’s Where It’s At

Oh boy, I had no idea it’s been so long since I posted! Quilting is still going on in these parts, but it’s taken a bit of a back seat for a while because I’ve decided to do some training in something a bit different…

Walking

Zennor Head on the South West Coast Path, Cornwall, June 2017. © Stephanie Boon, 2017, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Sweeping coastal views on the north coast of Cornwall

Walking and exploring my local landscape has always been a source of enjoyment and inspiration, and has a clear benefit to my mental health. The health benefits of walking are always touted by medical professionals and health and fitness bloggers and it’s become a bit of a hackneyed cure-all.

I’ve had decades of trying to stave off chronic depression with varying success, but I can attest to the need to get outside and run or walk, whether it’s 2 miles or 22 miles, and gradually the positive benefits  affect my mood. When you’re in the depths of ill-health it can be really hard, like walking through treacle, but I’ve learnt I just have to push through it.

I had a bit of a blip a few months back and pushed myself through to the point, where today, I’m feeling better than I have for years!

A5 study of willow tree-tops in oil pastels. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Tree-tops. Willows.

I’ve been feeling creative again. And looking to the future. I’ve signed up to train as a walking group leader. It’s a nationally recognised award that qualifies you to safely take groups on guided walks in lowland Britain.  I’m full of ideas of how to put the training to use! Walking/drawing workshops for artists and textile artists, hiking and walking around glorious Cornwall, workshops in map reading and navigation (I’m not too bad, haha!) – you get the idea I’m sure.

View from Trencrom Hill, St Michael's Way, West Cornwall. Pastel drawing by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

View from Trencrom Hill, St Michael’s Way, West Cornwall.

But training requires walking. Lots of walking. So, I’ve been out and about a lot and quilting has been confined to a few snatched hours here and there, progress has been slow and I felt I had nothing to show. And then there’s still the issue with the comments not working on this blog…

Quilting

Prosperity – hand quilting still in progress

This quilt, a wall quilt, is still in the hoop, although the centre section is now finished and I’m working on the border. A few more concentrated hours and it’ll be finished up.

Prosperity is a small hand quilted wall quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Hand quilting underway

Prosperity is a small hand quilted wall quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Close up of the hand quilting on Prosperity

I decided to work Prosperity with as small stitches as I could muster and I’m pretty pleased with my efforts, even if they are a bit uneven here and there. I’m looking forward to getting this one finished up because I’ve got all the things I need to be getting on with my sister’s quilt Fete now.

Fete – my sister’s 40th birthday patchwork top all finished up

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Patchwork quilt top in progress

Fete – trying it out for size

The top’s all finished up and I squared it up just last week. I’ve begun the back, but still need to make a strip for the side because it’s not quite wide enough. Shouldn’t take long, just need a bit of inspiration! I made an appliqué title block last year, but it doesn’t work with the deep blue Kaffe Fassett backing fabric, and it’s probably a bit too big (have you seen the new Kaffe website, it’s so much more inspiring than it used to be). I’ll probably add the appliqué to a cushion or something…what would you do with it?

Patchwork fabrics.

Almost ready for a sandwich! – The bright Kaffe backing is in the centre

 

'Fete' applique in colourful fabrics for a patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Fete – feeling summery!

Exmoor Stars – slowly growing English paper piecing

English paper pieced patchwork stars. © Stephanie Boon, 2017 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Making stars

Exmoor Stars is my English paper pieced ‘background quilting project’. I do a little bit here and there, usually once a week when I’m out with my knitty friend for lunch.  It’s slowly growing, but I need to cut and baste more fabric before I can do anymore. At the moment I think I might give this one to my brother for his birthday in 2019 – so plenty of time to work on it. Well, I’ve got a quilt on the go for both my sisters, so it would seem fair to make him one too, haha!

My other sister’s 50th birthday quilt

I haven’t actually started this one yet, even though I’d intended to by now… her birthday’s next May and I want to get the top finished by October time really, to give myself enough time to quilt it. Better get on with it then! I’ve started a good collection of fabric though, which is getting me a bit excited.

I’m going with prints with a nature theme for this one – there are some really good ones around at the moment, and I’ve been lucky with a donation of the butterfly fabric by a friend who was having a clear out. As I’ve mentioned before I think, my sister suggested pastels for her quilt because she said she had ‘no idea what colour my walls will be by then’… since when do quilts have to go with walls?!?! Pastels shmastels, there are going to be a few brights in there, otherwise it won’t be a quilt made by me, ha!

Fabrics for patchwork

Pastels…ish!

That’s about it for me at the moment. My apologies to you all for not being around much lately, but I hope you’ll forgive me and welcome me back into the fold soon. I’ve still got a lot of walking to do, so will be out and about a lot, especially in this wonderful summer weather we’re having here in the UK.

Why not come and join me on Instagram, where I try and post more regularly (daily when I can)? I’ve opened 2 accounts now,  stephieb.dawnchorusstudio for quilting and a bit of home life and TenMileHike where I share photos just of my walks – hopefully you’ll enjoy at least one of them! And it would be a great place to chat, since I just haven’t had the time to sort out the comment form here…

Hope to see you there, and I’ll pop back to the blog sooner rather than later! I might even have a finished quilt to show before the end of July!

Love and best wishes

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

 

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A Jumper That Didn’t Cost The Earth

There are few things in this world that stop me stitching or making art, but every once in a while I decide to knit something. I haven’t made anything for a few years now because I have more hats, gloves and scarves than I need and knitting your own jumper is an expensive business. Knit anything in a decent natural yarn, especially with more than one colour, and you can easily spend £70.00.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think it’s worth it, it’s just that I can’t afford to do it on a regular basis. Having said that, I can count the jumpers I own on one hand and I made 4 of them. I still wear them all because hand-made takes a long time, and lasts a long time.

Make It Don’t Chuck It

No-one wants to chuck something away when they’ve invested hours of work in it, from quilting to knitting or growing your own. That glut of courgettes you had this year: landfill, compost or chutney? That jumper you made a couple of years ago, it’s getting a bit thin on the elbows: landfill, darn it or reuse the yarn? The quilt you spent years making, the binding’s a bit worn: landfill, or make a new binding?

When we invest our own time in something (rather than exploiting some poor, faceless person on the other side of the world) we take care of it. Obvious innit?

Make Someone’s Day

And if we have stuff we don’t know what to do with we can give it to charity. Like, if you had a load of yarn but you don’t know how to knit…landfill ? Or charity and make someone’s day?! Yeah, you know where this is going:

A hand-knit stripy jumper. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Bargain knit

Someone Made My Day

I picked up some luscious Rowan Tweed yarn for a steal in a charity shop sometime before Christmas. As soon as I was out the door I shared photos on Instagram (which disappeared with all the others when my account was hacked), because I couldn’t believe my luck.

A hand-knit stripy jumper. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Colour and texture… simple things make me happy (mostly!).

I had enough to make a short jumper and settled on a Marie Wallin pattern in a Rowan book I already had (another way to save money).

Self portrait in a hand-knit stripy jumper. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

It’s cosy!

Self portrait in a hand-knit stripy jumper. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

It’s short, sweet and probably outdated, but it’ll do. And I don’t know what I’m looking at either!

There were 5 different colours of yarn in different quantities of 100g skeins: it was obviously going to be a stripy affair. I settled on random stripes, but knit up all the rib first and then divided what was left between each pattern piece.

This simple shape knit up pretty quickly in the big chunky yarn, so I decided to concentrate on knitting to the exclusion of everything else. I was pretty determined to get some wear out of it this winter. Didn’t think about how dated a 2008 pattern might look. (Does it? I don’t know/who cares.) Or what I’d wear it with… might have to make a skirt now. Or maybe a dress. Or Something.

Nuts and Bolts

  • 800g Rowan Pure Wool Chunky Tweed @ £15.00 the lot
  • Pattern ‘Kettlewell’, Marie Wallin in The British Sheep Breeds Collection (Rowan, 2008)
  • Pattern requires 600g (s). Used 650g (made sleeves 1″ or so longer, + extra for stripes)
  • Over: 150g-ish in pale pinky colour… damn, could have made it longer
  • Final cost £12.50 (I already had the pattern book and needles required).

And I’m happy. Which is good, considering. Anyone got any ideas for using up the rest of it?

What? You Came Here For Quilting?!

Ok, a short catch up. Plain Sewing, my ongoing daily patchwork ritual, is still on track. Pretty much. My Instagram friends have seen a few finished blocks that have a bit of hand sewing detail. Since then I’ve made some very simple blocks like the one below. The patchwork background on this one includes scraps from some old linen trousers and a cotton shirt. I love the texture and the soft drape it makes.

Plain Sewing. A patchwork quilt in progress, showing an appliqué circle on a patchwork background in muted neutral and blue. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Plain Sewing. Right and wrong side of the appliqué fabric.

I used the back of the floral fabric as another way to reveal something we usually take great pains to hide. Another way to reveal the ‘truth’ if you like, which is the drive for making this piece (more thoughts on that here).

What’s Wrong With The Back?

Why do we so blithely ignore the wrong side of printed fabric? It deserves more consideration I think. You never know what you might find, but some things to look out for include:

  • an interesting texture caused by the dye
  • a lighter colour
  • a softer pattern
  • a plain fabric
  • a change in the surface of the weave.

And it’s a good way to vary the stash without acquiring more fabric – great for the wallet and easy on the storage space. The only other quilter I know that does this as a matter of course is Maureen at Mystic Quilter. How about you, do you ever use the wrong side? Let us know below!

I’m linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social today. See you there.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

 

 

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Festive Robins and Rag Wreaths

Soon after we moved into our new home I began putting out food for the birds. After a couple of weeks they tentatively began to come to the bird table and recently they seem to have permanently moved in. We have regular outsize visitors including a wood-pigeon, at least 3 jackdaws and a crow, plus 2 magpies. They vie for space on the table, shoving each other off with their wings: it’s an entertaining sight. I’m beginning to know their behaviour well enough to give each of them names. When they’ve had their fill and fly back to the roof tops, the song birds come in.

Robin tea lights on a hand quilted red and white table runner

I love bringing out my hand quilted Christmas table runner at this time of year. I think the robins like it too!

There’s a blackbird, a robin and a wren and dozens of sparrows too. The robin sits on the handle of a garden lantern nearby, watching me watching him, making sure I’ll do him no harm before his breakfast. He sits for minutes at a time, picture perfect. If I had a snowy garden he’d be perfectly posed for a Christmas card.

Festive Decorations

But we don’t have any snow, sadly. So I’ve been enjoying the robins on my festive decorations instead. They’re slowly beginning to appear, from a string of fairy lights around the window to the sweet robin tea lights my friend gave me as a house-warming gift. I’ve put Kim’s red and white quilt on my chair and my hand quilted Christmas table runner on an old tool chest I use for storage (in the photo above).

More decorations will come out of the cupboard this week to be dusted off and put around the house. We’ll buy a tree too and bring it inside to decorate on Christmas eve. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can finish On The Edge (Floating Squares) this week to put on the wall above the dining table. Progress has been slow but I’ve managed another peaceful hour or so today. And next time I show it to you it’ll be on the wall!

Drum Roll Please!

The run up to Christmas is busy for most of us and I’ve spent the last week or so making gifts for friends and family.  A little over a week ago I showed you a rag wreath I’d made. Several of you said you’d like a tutorial, so after a week of intense writing and photographing, here it is!

How to make a rag wreath. Purpler rag wreath hanging on the wall. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.co,

Learn how to make a rag wreath like this one – follow the link to the tutorial below

A New Rag Wreath Tutorial

I’d be honoured if you take a look and tell me what you think. Is the text clear enough, the layout ok, the photographs good enough?! I’ve been fretting about it and so focussed on it I can’t see the wood for the trees anymore. Most of all, I hope it inspires you to try your hand at one too – go on, there’s a whole week before Christmas and you know you want to!!! (Let’s be honest, there’s not much else to do now is there, haha!)

The tutorial is here, and over the next day or two I’ll add it to the ‘how to‘ page and link it up elsewhere so that it’s easy enough to find.

Now it’s finish, along with the gift making, I’ll be back again in the week to share a couple of other things I’ve been up to. I look forward to catching up with you too, I feel like I’ve been awol for too long!

I’m linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching and look forward to seeing what you’ve been up to too.

Happy stitching

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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Rag Wreaths, A Festive Way To Use Your Scraps

My Band New Rag Wreath Tutorial Is Here!

Rag Wreath Tutorial

 

A festive handmade wreath made from torn and knotted fabric scraps, decorated with bow and bells. In a range of teal and blue colours. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

A scrappy festive wreath

One day in summer my friend Sally from Coast and Country Crafts came round with two bin bags full of fabric scraps. Sally travels the county meeting quilters and selling her lovely range of fabrics (as well as running the shop) and quilters donate scraps for swapping with others. The bags she gave me were full of left-overs. I had a quick rummage through and discovered there were plenty of strips that would be ideal to put towards a string quilt. Then we had to move home and the scraps were buried in boxes for a few months.

Waste Not Want Not

I got them out the other day and began to have a proper sort through, bagging them up by colour – there are some real gems in there! Most of the useful pieces are small squares and narrow strips, but there are quite a lot of strips that were too narrow for piecing. It was tempting to throw them out, but they must be useful for something.

Waste not want not I thought to myself and put them to one side. Then, when I was scrabbling around for ideas for Christmas presents, rag wreaths popped into my head. It seemed like the perfect way to use up the scraps and help reduce the world’s fabric mountain at the same time (granted it won’t make much of a dent, but every little helps!). I got excited and got to work on the first one.

Detail of a handmade rag wreath in teal colours. Showing a detail of some added decoration. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Jingle bells, jingle bells (yes they really do jingle)! Mixed blue, green and teal scraps.

Choosing Colours

I bought some 12″ wire wreath forms from a local florist and picked out lots of blue and green prints from the scraps. I wanted the overall colour to be Teal – a favourite of the recipient. Its not a colour I associate with Christmas but I had to put aside my doubts: the person I’m making it for loves it.  I needed a way to ‘lift’ it though and realised that something sparkly would do the trick. Enter 20cm of a forest green lurex fabric that sparkles when the light catches it (as I’ve mentioned before, it really isn’t good having a fabric shop 5 minutes down the road!) and a couple of shiny jingling bells. About as festive as it gets.

It’s a miracle I managed to get a second one finished too. Making the first one was tedious enough! I spent hours tying knots and shoving them hard against each other to get a full and fluffy effect. Obviously the final effect was worth it and I got to work on number two.

White and Frosty

This colour scheme was down to me. I love frosty mornings when the mist hangs low in the air, or temperature inversions where it seems to hover above the ground and I wanted to capture that. I went with whites and white on white prints, some naturals, soft pinks and blues and a touch of grey. Half way through I discovered I didn’t have enough – these things take a lot of scraps! Back to the fabric shop for some sparkly white. Still nowhere near enough, so I raided my stash of linen.

I’ve been given lots of linen clothes over the years and have a collection almost big enough to make a quilt. Not any more, out came the whites.  The beauty of linen is that it tears wonderfully for rag wreaths. You get that gorgeous frayed edge that adds enormously to the texture. I even found a couple of bits of embroidery Anglaise ribbon that I tied in.

 

Detail of a handmade rag wreath in teal colours. Showing a detail of some added decoration. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Version number two was meant to have a frosty feel in white, silver and grey. Brrr!

I worked this one a little differently from the first. Instead of tying in a continuous circle, I added the touches of colour all around the ring first and then went back and filled in the whites. I wanted little pockets of colour to add depth and interest. Some of the linens seemed to tie up very closely and it seemed a lot longer to make.

A festive handmade wreath made from torn and knotted fabric scraps, decorated with a linen bow. In a range of white and silver colours. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

A linen bow and a string of silver snowflakes hang from the bottom.

I was so pleased to finish it! I finished it off with a few strands of sparkly ribbon and a really sweet length of snowflakes. It still didn’t look quite right so I added the linen bow. Perfect, even if I do say so myself!

A festive handmade wreath made from torn and knotted fabric scraps, decorated with linen bow. In a range of white and silver colours. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

A range of soft greys, pinks and blues added to the mix of whites and naturals. Look at the edges of those linens!

I had a couple of people on Instagram ask me how I made it and I wondered if you’d be interested in a tutorial? It really is a fab way to use up your quilting scraps and I know some of you have been collecting selvedges, which would look amazing! I kind of wish I had some now… Oh well, onto wreath number three: creams and golds this time. Watch this space.

My Instagram Account Has Been Hacked…Again

Instagram has been the bane of my life recently. My account just keeps being hacked. All my personal info is changed, my login details, my password… I change them back only to find that they’ve changed again next time I try to log in. This time all my photos seem to have disappeared too. I could cry I really could.

I’ve had my fill of it these last couple of days so decided to take a break until I have the patience and headspace to tackle it.  I’m really sorry, I miss my IG friends – it’s such a friendly place and so much more fun than Facebook.  I’ll try and get it sorted over the next couple of days, so bear with me. It does mean that there are some gaps in some of the posts here though where I’ve embedded my IG photos. I hope I can get them back…

Tutorial or No Tutorial?

My Band New Rag Wreath Tutorial Is Here!

Rag Wreath Tutorial

Don’t forget to let me know what you think about the idea for a tutorial on using up scraps to make a wreath. And if you have any other ideas for ‘scrap management’ let us know in the comments! Someone uses them for compost (great idea) and of course there are rag rugs and garlands – what else can we come up with to help stop textile waste going to landfill? I bet you’ve got some fantastic ideas.

Back with some quilting next time – it’s been a bit slow around here lately!

Linking up with Kelly for NTT this week, where I’ve just had the shock of my life and seen my quilt top Fete as one of her featured quilts! Also happy to be sharing these finishes over at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday, woohoo! See you there!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

 

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Finding A New Sewing Space

Stitching has Resumed!

I managed a few hours hand quilting during the evenings this week, which has been bliss. And I’ve found the perfect place to sit and sew in our new home.

We have a larger kitchen/dining room than we previously had. There’s more wall space for sure and much more storage. There are alcoves fitted with shelves either side of what was once a fireplace. It’s not taken me long to fill them up with quilting books and baskets of fabric!

Moving into a new home. The dining area is covered in boxes still to be sorted. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

So much sorting out to do in the kitchen/dining room/sewing room! It’s still a complete mess.

Best of all is the space I have for a large farmhouse table to sit and quilt at – it was languishing in the shed for years back at the old place. I had to make do with a much smaller one, which was always covered in detritus for lack of storage. And now, oddly enough, I can’t get the smaller one into the house! The large table has detachable legs, the small one doesn’t and the front door is very narrow (it’s a Victorian terraced house). The door opens onto a long hallway and there’s no turning space. There’s no rear entrance either so the small table’s gone to a new home: Kim’s dad’s shed! It’s the big old table for me. Serendipity.

Good Company

I found my quilt On The Edge (Floating Squares) shoved into a carrier bag the other day, along with some reels of thread and a needle or two. I cleared the table of boxes and sat down to take a few stitches. It was dark outside and I felt so at home, cosy, warm, content. Then something surprising happened: Kim pulled up a chair and kept me company for the entire evening. I have no idea when this last happened. He usually holes himself up in his room and I only see him when he comes out to raid the fridge. It really was special; the kind of thing everyone hopes for with their children, time to sit and chat, time to sit in peace and quiet, just be. Together. And I got lots of stitching done.

Quantity not Quality

I’m a bit concerned I’ve got this the wrong way round on this quilt. I know I said I was going to forgive myself, but I caught sight of the big stitch quilting on my Norfolk Bricks lap quilt, when I was finding a new home for it, and couldn’t help compare the two. The stitching on Norfolk bricks looks pretty even and regular (I was impressed!), On The Edge doesn’t. At all! But it’s getting done and I think I have the perfect place to hang it: above the farmhouse table.

Moving into a new home. Trying out a red and blue patchwork wall hanging on the wall above the farmhouse table. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Trying out On The Edge on the wall. (And wondering when I’ll have the time to refinish the table, fit more shelves in the alcove, change the paintwork from an insipid pale pink to white, glue another chair back together that Kim broke some time ago, and oh I don’t know…find homes for the rest of the stuff lying about!)

Knife Edge

The blue border won’t feature on the finished quilt, it’s there for a knife edge binding. This quilt was designed as a wall hanging and I want it to have the borderless quality of a painting. It’s the first time I’ve made a knife edge binding on a quilt this size so it’ll be a good learning experience. It’s also the first time I’ve made a quilt this size exclusively for hanging, so I’ve got to consider the best way to do this too. I was thinking about a tube for a rod at the top and possibly one at the bottom to give it some weight. Before I decide on anything though, I thought I’d ask which method you’d use and which methods you’ve tried and had the most success with. Let me know in the comments, I’d love your advice.

I’m getting ahead of myself though: first off I’ve got to finish the quilting! It’s on the agenda for today’s Slow Sunday Stitching with Kathy over at Kathy’s Quilts. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in, and I’m hopeful for some more company along the way.

Enjoy your slow stitching today.

I’m looking forward to popping over to your place to say hello and see what you’ve been up to, but there’s still no broadband here so my online time will be a bit ad hoc for another week or so. Will definitely see you soon!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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We’re in!

Time to Stitch Myself a New Home

Last night was the first night we slept in our new home! And this morning was the first time in 13 years I woke up to gas fired central heating warming the bathroom – in the bathroom people, omg that stuff is awesome! No more seeing your breath and freezing to death, oh the luxury!

Who’s the Fittest?

Moving home over two days took 3 Luton van journeys and a lot of hard work (exhausted isn’t a tired enough word). That furniture I feel so sentimental about…it weighs a ton. It’s also been 13 years since I ran a handmade furniture and kitchen business, when I was used to loading the stuff onto vans and manhandling it up and down stairs every day. Perhaps it’s time to admit I’m no spring chicken anymore. Er no, I think not: my 18 year old son made me realise just how fit I am, and how desperately unfit he (and his father) are. The pair of them were shattered after just a couple of hours shifting, his dad falling over everything, Kim looking like a ghost. I’m exhausted because I was running around like a loony to make up for the time they were losing, ha!  Needless to say, it’s almost midday and Kim’s still under his duvet dead to the world. I expect his dad will sleep for the next month.

Resting in an old pub near Truro. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Taking a mid-move break at a local pub with a large enough car park for the van!

 

Now the Fun Begins

Well, that’s if you consider fighting your way through a jungle of cardboard boxes fun. Which I really don’t. I’ve been looking at piles of them for months and can’t wait to see the back of them. Deciding where everything will go is just as much a headache as moving it all in the first place. Priority will, of course, be finding my quilting and art materials. And somewhere to sit – our sofa wouldn’t go through the front door so that may be more of an issue than you’d think!

On the Edge (Floating Squares) patchwork quilt being hand quilted. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Little quilt, little quilt, where are you?! This small quilt needs finishing up asap – it has a wall space waiting for it. First off I need to find it!

Today’s Slow Sunday Stitching will consist of slowly trying to find my sewing stuff! There probably won’t be much actual sewing going on for a few days or so, but I wanted to let all my lovely Slow Sunday Stitching friends know that things are finally coming right and to thank you all so much for your support and encouragement over the last few difficult months. You lot, you’re the best! x

PS Apologies for the late replies to your lovely comments, still no broadband at home yet!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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Looking For Peace With Every Stitch

This Quilting Life

My quilting life has almost come to a standstill over the last couple of months. There’s no floor space to work on my piecing and my sewing machine is buried under mountains of stuff to be sorted. But over the last few weeks I’ve managed to carve out a little space for hand quilting, something to calm me between all the packing and panicking. I sit at a small white bureau, laptop in front of me playing a film or some random tv program, thread and scissors to the side. I try and stitch away my worries and low mood.

Moving home and quilting : cardboard boxes piled high against the wall, bookcases and desks stacked out of use and a small bureau used as a place to quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

I’m getting a bit sick of this view now! But I’ve almost finished painting all the furniture you see white (with the exception of the grandad chair which is staying as it is!)

on-the-edge-detail-sept-16

I haven’t got a lot done, but I’ve promised myself to try and quilt at least one square a day on this quilt On The Edge (inspired by Sherri Lynn Wood’s score Floating Squares), even if it’s just a 1.5″ square. It’s quite a small quilt, intended as a wall hanging, so even a tiny amount of hand quilting makes a visible difference. The squares I’m quilting don’t follow the squares and rectangles of the patchwork, but are overlaid on top. They criss-cross each other, linking one square to the next, creating another layer of floating squares. I reckon I’ve quilted just over half the area of the top so far.

You get a better idea of how the quilting design works by looking at the back:

The back of a hand quilted quilt, showing the stitch design of overplayed squares on a plain blue background. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Floating squares on the back – and some wobbly lines.

My stitches are all over the place. A consistent size one day, a different size the next. I’m forgiving myself: I’m mentally and physically exhausted. This has become therapy. I think all us hand quilters find the process therapeutic, but I’m switching off and not striving for anything other than peace. It works, even for a few minutes a day.

Handmade quilt hanging over the back of a chair at a writing bureau. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusSTudio.com

A calm space to quilt amongst the chaos

I’m on tenterhooks waiting for news of a possible place to call home. References have to be got, money has to be found for fees, deposit and rent. And we’re meant to be out of this house by Sunday 9th October. That’s this weekend. It’s not going to happen and all the uncertainty is unbearable. I’m grateful that every small stitch I make is a move forward, helping to build a new picture. It’s a picture I look forward to hanging on a wall. Pride of place. A reminder that quilting can carry us through even the roughest of times.

I’d love to hear how quilting has helped you through a difficult time, share your story in the comments below.

I’m linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social today – and look forward to being social!

Keep on stitching

 

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

Addendum!

I’m really pleased to say we’ve finally secured a new home…at the 11th hour! We found out yesterday, the 5th, and are meant to be out of our current home on the 9th – a close call indeed. I’m not sure exactly when we’ll be moving (we can’t pick up the keys to the new home until the 10th), but I’d really like to thank everyone for all the best wishes you’ve sent and for reading about my concerns, doubts and anxieties over the last couple of months. Friends indeed – and it could just be all your finger crossing that helped! Thank you once again, I really don’t think I could have got through this period without the support of you all. Love Stephie x

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As Luck Would Have It

Hello Slow Sunday Stitchers! I’m so excited Kathy’s brought us together again this weekend, because I’ve got something wonderful to show you. This week’s post is a little different from usual and starts earlier in the week with a wander into town on a very rainy day…

I Am A Queen

I wouldn’t call myself a ‘thrift store queen’ or ‘king of the charity shops’, far from it. These days charity shops don’t seem to sell anything that wasn’t once on the high street and generally speaking they’re not much different in price. This week though, I was most definitely Queen Bee! And I still can’t believe my luck.

I walked into a new store run by Cornwall Hospice Care that had opened that day. I was with Kim and the first thing we noticed were two quilts laid out on a couple of beds. A hand pieced, hand quilted Grandma’s Flower Garden was priced at £9.95 and the other one had no label. Kim really liked ‘the other one’ so we enquired about it. One of the store managers said it was also £9.95. I told him it was too cheap. He said “Why, it’s only a blanket.”

Absolute sacrilege! (And it showed on my face!)

Handmade patchwork quilt in blue and white. Hand quilted with feather wreaths. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 http://www.DawnChorusStudio.com

This is it!

I pointed out the hand quilting, the amazing feather design and how long it must have taken the quilter to make – it really was beautifully stitched. Hours, weeks, months, maybe even years worth of stitching.

Hand quilting - detail of a feather design on white fabric. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 http://www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Look at those tiny, beautiful stitches – I’m rather envious!

“£40 then, and you can come and work for us!” he joked. So I paid him the £10, put it in a big bag and told Kim to carry it – he’d declared it was going on his bed “until you finish my ocean waves one.” Ouch! (I can tell you now Kim, it won’t be as gloriously quilted as this one so make the most of it!)

Hand quilted patchwork quilt, detail. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 http://www.DawnChorusStudio.com

A showcase for some beautiful hand quilting and simple blocks (some fading on the blue print)

Sadly, we had to leave the Grandma’s Flower Garden behind: I just didn’t have any more money to spend. And I already felt incredibly guilty at paying the equivalent of four cups of coffee for such a wonderful piece of craftsmanship.

The One We Left Behind

Kim sees his dad everyday and he popped in on his way home from work as usual. The first thing he did was show off his new quilt, enthralling him with details of how it was made and how wonderful it looked on his bed (not as good as it would look on mine, haha!). Then he told him about the one we left behind:

Vintage Grandma's Flower Garden quilt on a bed in a shop display. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Wonderful symmetry

“Why didn’t you phone me?!” he declared. “I’d love it.” His girlfriend would be thrilled too, he said. He gave me £10 to see if I could pick up the next day. I’ll see if it’s still there… and not been re-priced at £40, I said to myself!

Grandma's Flower Garden vintage handmade quilt. Detail. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail

As luck would have it, it was still laid out on the bed and still priced at the paltry sum of £9.95. I took it to the counter. “You’ve still got that sheepish look on your face, haven’t you?!”, said the same manager. Yes, other charity shop queens look like cats that got the cream. Me, I just look sheepish. And I still feel guilty. After all, someone spent hours making something really beautiful that ended up ‘just a blanket’ in a charity shop. And then I breezed in and picked it up for a song.

Vintage 'Grandma's Flower Garden' handmade quilt over the back of a chair. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

It would look just as good as a throw

I hope our appreciation would make the quilter happy they’ve come to us. Neither quilt has a label, so we’ll probably never know who she is.

When I’m sat at my desk quilting a few more squares on On The Edge this evening I’ll be thinking about this incredibly talented quilter and just how I can improve on my own humungous stitches!

afdadas

Finding a spot among the mountains of cardboard packing boxes to take a few stitches (and a bureau I can’t bear to part with, now painted white – those bookcases are next for a fresh coat of paint!)

Slow Sunday Stitching is a great time to think about slowing down and planning a new hand quilting or hand piecing project. If you’re wondering what to do next and feel inspired by these quilts, have a look at my updated tutorial for making a hexie quilt, like the grandma’s flower garden one above. There’s a free pillow pattern there too.

Have a lovely Sunday everyone and enjoy some peaceful stitching.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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The Lost Quilter

Craving Simplicity

There’s no denying life’s been hard of late. I just want to rest. Rest everything, from my mind to what I see, to what I do and what I feel. I want everything to be white.

Quilty365 - circle patchwork, circle 81 © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Quilty 365, March 2016

It’s funny, a few months ago I was engaged in psychotherapy and I recalled a dream I’d had. I don’t usually remember them at all. But this one comes back to me now. I described going into a shed, a brick outhouse like the one attached to this house. I opened the door and was so angry because someone had filled it from floor to ceiling with stuff. I couldn’t get in and I couldn’t find anything. There was no order just a kind of chaos of broken furniture pieces haphazardly piled on top of each other. But everything was white. I took it all out so that the space was empty and the walls and floor were clear and white again. Light. I put a few things back, my things, slowly and deliberately. It was a small space. Very small, but with a window. I may have locked the door and stayed on the inside.

White Space

I couldn’t make head nor tail of the dream at the time. The therapist asked me what white spaces came to mind. Hospitals. Empty galleries. Prison cells. Institutions. Curious, he thought. He perhaps expected me to describe a calm, minimalist space. Peaceful. Now though, I wonder if the spaces I described are somewhere to retreat to. Empty. No distractions. Not places to think and contemplate in, but places to let go of everything. To be empty. To be cared for. To start again.

I’m starting again. Precariously. Moving home to somewhere I’ve not yet seen, somewhere considerably smaller with no garden: I’ve always had a garden. Two up, two down. Each of the last 4 homes I’ve had have been progressively smaller and this next one feels like a shoebox. I feel squeezed. Squeezed out. Where will my sewing machine go?

Fitting A Quart Into A Pint Pot

The homes have become smaller, but the amount of stuff has stayed the same. I’m deeply worried none of it will fit in. It’s furniture I’m sentimentally attached to. A bookcase Kim’s dad made for my birthday one year. A full height armoire we designed and made for a home we had. A writing bureau, a dresser, dining tables, more bookcases and bedside cabinets…another chair he gave me. All things we designed and made together when we ran a handmade furniture company, and lived in a reasonably large Georgian home. 14 years of our lives. If I got rid of it I couldn’t possibly afford anything else of the same quality.

So I get rid of the inconsequential. The wine glasses I never use, the umpteen mugs I seem to have accumulated, old picture frames, pieces of fabric. Things that don’t take up the space. And now I’m painting everything white. White furniture to meld into white walls.

It seems ridiculous to have such attachments. But being attached to something you’ve invested time and love in is something I’m sure any quilter will understand. They’re not things, they’re tangible stories. The story of my life. A life I feel I’m losing any grip on at all. A life eroded.

Plain Sewing patchwork quilt in progress. A circle a day wuith the Quilty365 sew-along. © Stephanie Bon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Plain Sewing in progress (currently 16″ x 22.5″ / 40cm x 57cm)

Plain Sewing‘, keeps rising in my thoughts. I want to work on it, but it’s packed away in a cardboard box somewhere. It feels lost.

I feel lost.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

Linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.