Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Last weekend at the Scottish Quilt Championships

My demo stand at the Scottish Quilt Championships turned out to be next to a window this time, so I left the curtains open to get some daylight onto the stand.  It made stitching sashiko much easier to see.  The table cover quilt is the same one we used at Festival of Quilts and is a late twentieth century Japanese made piece - I don't know who made it, but I like the fabric combination.  I thought my 'Fish and Chips' cat with the sashiko tiles in the background hadn't been out much lately, so I featured that.  'Time and Again' will be in Japan until January, along with 'Maru', so I chose different quilts this time.  I'm sorry I couldn't get hold of any copies of 'Japanese Taupe Quilt Blocks' for this show, but visitors enjoyed seeing the taupe sampler.  As the stand was a bit wider than usual, I could set it up so people could get quite close to the quilt behind me.

Sometimes the sunshine was a bit strong through the window!

I was judging at this show and chose Gretchen Danckwardt's theme category entry as my Judge's Choice.  It was a very nicely arranged piece with lots of vintage fabric and buttons - paper pieced hexagons too - with subtle shading but without relying on overly coordinated fabrics. Click on the photo and use the + to zoom in for more detail.  The overall colour effect really twinkles, appropriately as the theme was 'Quilted Jewels'.  There were only five entries though.  I hope we get more for next year, when the theme is 'Jelly Roll Fun'.

Glyn photographed a few of the quilts that he liked on Sunday afternoon and luckily we have similar tastes, as I didn't get a chance to get round with the camera at all. 'Untitled' by Lesley Davies was a strong image inspired by WWI.  The poppies are raw edge applique.

'Callanish Stones' by Jean Boath used machine stitching to build up the texture of the stones, over a photographic image.

Stephanie Parker's 'Cosmos' would have been my Judge's Choice if it had been in the competition.  It shows the high standard of design and needlecraft in the invited exhibitions.  The planets were amazing - they are all embellished/felted.

I loved this piece but didn't find out who made it. Can anyone tell me please?

Emma Galbraith's 'Off the Map' was stunning - a real statement piece.


This is a favourite view - Lindisfarne Castle.  Unfortunately I forgot to note the maker's name.

Kay Bell won Best in Show with '1514 aka The Horse'.  Sorry I don't have a better photo - I borrowed this one.  I think she also got the longarm quilting award for another piece?  Although I was part of the judging team, I can't remember which quilt got every award - judging is done on a points system with no conferring, so we don't know which quilts have won until the rosettes go up.  You can see more of Kay's work on her website here. She also has a longarm quilting service - I must ask her to do a quilt for me sometime.

Surprisingly, there were only forty six quilts in the competitive categories this year, which was very low.  We need more entries please! You can download entry forms from the Grosvenor Shows website here.

Loch Lomond Sashiko course running again

The Shonai and Yuza Sashiko course we ran at The Studio, Loch Lomond, starts again tomorrow - 5th October.  This will be the same course I ran last year and earlier this year, i.e. for beginners.  Some of the samplers made by students on the course are shown above, at Yuza Sashiko Guild's exhibition at the Sanno Club, Sakata city, Japan, and below at the Loch Lomond Quilt Show in May.

Here's Rhona's quilt in progress -


These are just some of the sashiko patterns you can learn on the course.

Interested? We have space for a few more stitchers.  Please contact The Studio - click here for info.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Scottish Quilt Championships - this weekend

I'll be at the Scottish Quilt Championships at Edinburgh from next Friday to Sunday, where I'll be demoing sashiko and teaching a one hour workshop every morning - click links for more details.

I won't have all the fabrics above with me, as I'm there as a demonstrator rather than a trader, but I wll be bringing some of the striped tsumugi cottons, blue and white yukata cottons, Japanese fabric fat quarters and lots of lovely new sashiko threads I bought in Japan, plus sashiko needles, marking pens etc.  I will also have these - ready made Japanese noren door curtains, in cotton that is ideal for sashiko.  I spotted them for sale at Yamadera a few weeks ago, in deep blue, chartreuse/straw yellow and terracotta, at such a good price they will retail at just £20 each (that's a lot of sashiko fabric for your money).  They have a slight shading effect, getting a little lighter towards the top.  I have several of each and plan to use one of the yellow ones for a stitching demo at the show.  If you want me to keep a particular colour for you, let me know.

I should also have some copies of 'The 1718 Coverlet', 'The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook', 'Japanese Quilt Inspirations' and 'Quilt Essentials: Japanese Style', but as these are arriving at the showground on Friday, I may not have them until after lunchtime!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Shonai Sashiko in Perth and a summerhouse update

On Saturday, I taught my 'Introduction to Shonai Sashiko' at the Peacock and the Tortoise in Perth.  Lots of lovely sashiko samples were made by the students.   The shop has a well-lit, comfortable workroom that's just right for sashiko.  I'll be teaching there again on December 5th, when our workshop will be 'Sashiko Furoshiki' - see link for some of my previous workshops.

Apart from his trip to Dyffryn Clwyd Quilters' 10th anniversary trading day the previous weekend, Glyn has been getting on with more summerhouse jobs while I was in Japan.  The biggest job has been installing the gothic window into the back wall.  He trimmed it with aluminium strip, to shed rainwater away from the window, and sealed around it with bitumen paint (a bitumen seal will be added too).  The roof overhang on the back of the summerhouse is only 6in, as any deeper would mean we couldn't easily get onto the roof, and it is very sheltered from the weather by the high fence.  A narrow harwood sill will go at the bottom.

The bottom of the walls has been designed to push outwards slightly, to help shed water away from the concrete base slab.  It also gives the walls an elegant shape but we have to allow for it when making things like the door frame and adding the corner capping. We got this shape by having one row of shingles under the Tyvek wrap and having a double row on top of that - this is the first top row.  The next one will overhang this by about 10mm at the bottom, so water can't run back under the shingles.  The cut out notch is for the main power cable and will be covered with the next row of shingles.

Glyn cut back the slate tile bearers at the front while I was away and added bitumen strip to the front step yesterday.  The finished front step will be aluminium checker plate, so it will wear OK.

Cutting the door frame to size.

That Japanese dōzuki saw has been used so much!  Luckily I got two extra blades when I bought it in Yamagata city.  Unlike the more traditional saws, this one has replaceable blades.

This week, we'll add more shingles in the evening, but at the weekend it is the Scottish Quilt Championships so I'll be busy with that.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Kappabashi-dori and the Keisuke Serizawa exhibition

We had a walk to Kappabashi-dori this morning, so Emily could see if there were any suitable knives for her taxidermy.  The knives there are very good quality - we bought Damascus steel steak knives last time we were here (not for us!) - and some of the professional chefs' knives are very expensive.  There are also all the different sharpening stones... So we were just looking.  Here's Emily posing with the Kappa statue (Kappabashi means Kappa bridge).

I picked up some more of the higher priced 'rainbow stripe' tsumugi I got in May, although I couldn't get exactly the same one, and a couple of tenugui towels (stencilled cotton, not fluffy) for myself - I'll use those in a quilt.

This afternoon Emily was really tired (I think jet lag is catching up again), so I went on my own to Takashimaya, one of Tokyo's grandest and oldest department stores.  I knew about the Serizawa exhibition, but not that they were also having a special mingei (traditional Japanese crafts) promotion event to tie in with it.  Approaching from the Ginza subway line, the pillars were decorated with advertising banners for both events.

Needless to say, this was just my kind of event! There were high quality products from all over Japan - some very expensive but others very good value for money.  I bought some lovely items of Hakone Yosegi parquetry, including my very first 'secret' puzzle box, which opens with seven moves.  I'll post photos of these when I get home, as I don't want to spoil the pretty wrapping yet.  

The Serizawa exhibition was wonderful!  I felt it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Unfortunately, no photography was allowed, but if you google his full name, you will be able to see some images of his work.  He worked primarily in stencil techniques, combining traditional katazome with influences from Okinawan bingata, but all infused with his personal unique style. His work was shown alongside some of his inspirations, including a beautiful sandy coloured sashiko jacket (I sketched the design), African carvings and Asian textiles.

This department store is full of big name designer brands, not the kind of thing I shop for here at all, but the window displays were full of the coming season with a very autumnal feeling.  It was my first visit to Takashimaya and I was impressed with the attention to quality and detail in the store - and I noticed how people on the Ginza line were looking at my three Takashimaya shopping bags on the way back!

UPDATE - when I opened my shopping bags this morning, there were some free exhibition tickets inside, so we went again!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

A few photos from Tokyo

We arrived in Tokyo early yesterday afternoon and I got most of the fabric buying out of the way before we headed off to Asakusa and the Ryokan Shigestsu where we are staying for the remainder of our trip.  The Kaminarimon (above) is one of the places you just have to get a photo if you come to Asakusa.

Today we went to the Japan Folk Crafts Museum via Shibuya station - Shibuya crossing is above.  Although the museum website gives information about how to get there, it didn't mention that the Keio Inokashira metro line runs express ('rapid'?) and local trains, so we managed to board an express that overshot the station where we were supposed to get off.  But once we got the right train, it was easy enough to find.

No photos allowed inside the museum unfortunately.  There was an exhibition of Kantha and Sashiko/Kogin pieces, so it was a shame there wasn't a catalogue, although I picked up a small booklet featuring some pieces (in black and white) and I already have many illustrated in other books.

The museum was much smaller than I expected.  The building was beautiful - Japanese tradition meets the Arts and Crafts movement.  The collection was founded by Soetsu Yanagi in the early C20th.  The displays were very much of the objects in glass cases with small (Japanese only) labels and I imagine this is how pieces have always been shown here.  I would have to say that the Amuse Museum in Asakusa has a more interesting and informative display of koginzashi.  Certainly, the mingeikan has some very old pieces of Kogin, Nanbu Hishizashi and Sashiko, but the general feeling in the exhibition was that it was rather staid and lifeless.  I think we have been spoiled on our trip by seeing Koginzashi and sashiko as living and evolving traditions, as well as some excellent private collections of work.  The same can be said for the ceramics and lacquerware collections.  The Serizawa exhibition mentioned on the museum's facebook page is actually at Takashimaya department store in Nihonbashi, but as that is only 16 minutes by underground from here, I think we should go to see that too.

In the afternoon, we went to Harajuku.  Yoyogi Park has been closed due to the first dengue fever outbreak in Japan in seventy years, so we kept away from the park side and headed for the shops. There were a few people out in their finest weekend fashions, but mostly it was full of high school girls shopping.

Looking at cute stuff - seifuku (old style school uniform) outfit.

Tonight we just had a stroll around the Sensoji temple at Asakusa before dinner.

More exploring tomorrow, and hopefully going to the Serizawa exhibition.  The Amuse Museum is closed Mondays, so that is the plan for Tuesday, among other things.