Friday, 17 July 2020

Back to the blog!

As it has been for everyone, life has been quite frantic and strange for the last few months. Now I have a bit more time to sort out the photos properly, it is time for me to revive my blog. You can still follow my artist page on Facebook and my photos on Instagram of course, but it is always easier to find things retrospectively on my blog - which I will explain later on.  We were at Nagoya castle back in January when we first heard about the 'new illness' in Wuhan, so traveled back to the UK wearing masks... and having no idea of how things would change so suddenly.

At the beginning of March, Yuza Sashiko Guild, along with Reiko sensei's sister and brother in law, came to Scotland for a trip that included teaching and exhibiting at the Scottish Quilting Show at SEC Glasgow and again at Dornoch Fibre Fest, near Inverness. We managed to pack in visits to Edinburgh Castle, the Kelvingrove Museum at Glasgow, Charles Rennie Mackintosh's House for an Art Lover, Stonehaven and Dunottar Castle (just the outside), Tomatin Distillery and Urqhart castle as well. Quite a trip!

Reiko sensei taking photos of my antique boro display at SEC, where we shared the exhibition space.

Yuza Sashiko also launched their first book in English in the UK during the tour (I have copies for sale online).

After we waved them off at Edinburgh airport on 16th March, things started to change here very quickly and the UK went into lockdown on 23rd March. Things are still not back to normal and they are not likely to be for a long time.

As a result of the precautions we are all having to take now due to COVID-19, all my face-to-face teaching and all our shows have been cancelled - all the quilt shows, and all the World Textile Days. This has changed life for me a great deal, as I was used to traveling a lot! Fortunately I set up my online store last summer, so getting geared up to sell 100% online hasn't been as hard as it might have been. At the start of lockdown, I made sure I got plenty of threads and materials in stock. At that time, I was concerned about shipping from Japan. I mostly use FedEx, but some of the places I buy from use Japan Post, which has suspended all the economy shipping services. The 370m fine sashiko threads are shipped by Japan Post, which took quite a lot longer, even for the express post, so I made sure I ordered the complete range this time!

I have started an online newsletter (you can sign up here) and have been coming up with new products and new combinations of products (like these kogin thread sets, themed after seasonal colours).

I've also got the stencil and pattern booklet pack I designed for Today's Quilter in stock, along with many other new things, including my latest preprinted sashiko panels for Olympus Thread Mfg. Co. (Japan), some fabulous new designer hanafukin sashiko panels and lots of new hitomezashi kits and panels too.

I have been busiest during lockdown stitching boro...

My next book, The Book of Boro, will be published by David and Charles on 10th November 2020.

It has 20 projects, large and small, inspired by items from my personal boro collection (I've been collecting for nearly 30 years now, which I find hard to believe!), plus all the techniques you need and, of course, a history section about where boro comes from, how it was made, the boro revival and more.  I will be taking advance orders towards the end of the summer.

Now that the first and second pages edit are done and I only have the proof to check (when it arrives), I've returned to sashiko. I am just starting on a sashiko sampler stitch along, and will be posting instructions and photos here, as well as on Facebook and Instagram, very soon. It will be free and there is no need to sign up to anything - just get your sashiko supplies together and join in, at your own pace. The idea for the sampler is to use my preprinted sashiko panels, but if you have The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook and Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match, you could mark up your own panels instead. Hopefully I'll get one of the sampler quilt tops completely finished before starting the stitch along. It will be free to join in and you will be able to follow it here or on Facebook, where you can join my sashiko group, The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook (named after my book), to share photos and chat with other stitchers. I also want to do some short video tutorials, which will be on YouTube. Keep checking here for stitch along posts!

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