Moves in May

May has been a busy month for Amanda Jane Textiles. Two of my quilts ‘Australian Animals’ and ‘Blue Mountains’ (both made from fabrics purchased in Oz), were on display in Belsay Hall  as part of a quilt show organised by the Northern Region of the Quilters’ Guild. I took my turn to do some stewarding at the show, too. Here are the two quilts, which are meant to be seen side by side:

'Australian animals' quilt

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An ‘Introduction to hand-stitched patchwork’ day took place on 9 May in Sunderland, during which we experimented with English piecing over papers and crazy patchwork. Choosing and combining colours are two of the great pleasures of patchwork and stitching by hand makes it into a restful and relaxing pastime. Here are some of the participants in action with their crazy patchwork pieces:

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Hand-stitched patchwork

And here are two of the pretty hexagon rosettes that were stitched:

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The following Saturday, in Darlington, there was a ‘Craft Saturdays’ session on lino-cut printing. We explored basic block-printing techniques, investigated sources of inspiration and cut a smaller and a larger block using cutting tools. Here are some of these participants in action:

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And here are some of the results:

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It is encouraging – and useful – to get feedback from workshop participants. Helpful suggestions are always incorporated into the next round of planning, and positive comments helped to confirm that the stated aims of the days were being met.

Sometimes, there are surprises. One recent workshop attendee turned out to be an embroiderer whose work I had admired last year, when I went to see an embroidery exhibition at Sunderland Art Gallery.

There is one more ‘Craft Saturdays’ event left in the current schedule. It is an Introduction to Machine-Stitched Patchwork and it is suitable for complete beginners, even if you haven’t used a sewing machine before or haven’t used one for some time. It takes place on Saturday 13 June, from 10.00-4.30 at The Sanctuary, 21 Westbrook, Darlington, DL3 6TD.  The cost is £45 which includes, tea and coffee, a delicious lunch, and all the materials and equipment you need for the day. Please phone 01325 484212 to book a place.

The Bishop Auckland Art Gallery continues to open its doors every day and I have twice this month been on duty in the Gallery to welcome people in. There is a range of Amanda Jane Textiles craft items currently for sale in the gallery and I am beginning to explore ideas for more.

Part of my plan, on becoming self-employed last year, was to design and print fabric. Investigation and research into printing is ongoing, but I have been busy with designing, building up a portfolio by completing a design a week for the American website Spoonflower (www.spoonflower.com, where I design under the name Amanda Jane Textiles. This week’s design theme (set by Spoonflower) is ‘Sandcastles’ and here is a sneak preview of my design, based on a painting in watercolour, with fond recollections of days spent on the sand in Cornwall with buckets and spades, wind-breaks and beach-towels:

Cornish Sandcastles

In other developments, I have become the proprietor of an Air BnB property (www.airbnb.co.uk). The suggestion came from a family member and the concept of a completely online holiday accommodation service is a good one. Lots of work has gone into making our house (which is listed on the website under the title ‘Comfy 3BD house, Durham’) into a really nice place to stay overnight, or to holiday in for several days. We have already welcomed our first guests.  A professional photographer has been to take photographs, so it will shortly be seen in the best possible light. Is it full of quilts? Well yes, of course!

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