Tuesday, 30 June 2009


I'm home, I'm extraordinarily happy to be here...

...other than the discovery that I left the UK a Size 12 and returned nine months later a whopping Size 18. I am about 2.5 stones heavier - who knew that the body could expand at such a rate? (Back on the Diet Dust.)

As a result (I look like a sack of potatoes in everything that Monsoon, Coast and Phase 8 have to offer), I will be standing in front of 120 or so people in four days time in the white plastic dress of nastiness.

As soon as the blessing is over, I will whip off my very own sea of white polyster and slip into a dress that has been cast off by my younger sister as she's worn it to about 3 other weddings in the past year. It even has a cigarette burn on the skirt that I need to put a stitch in. Classy to the end, eh?!

As soon as I am not drowning in place cards, playlists and all sorts of other admin, I will surface with pictures.

In the meantime - wish us both luck?!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Sewing Mojo - 1; Knitting Mojo - 0

Instead of packing this morning, I found myself on a bus headed towards W10th Avenue.

Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that I was headed to Urban Yarns. Y'know, a last minute run for something I need for one of my travel or summer holiday projects. Well...

...it was a last minute run but I was headed to The Cloth Shop (almost next door to Urban Yarns) as I needed some last minute sewing supplies for my Flying Birds quilt project:


Now I know where I stand with knitting needles on aeroplanes but where on earth do I stand on a few fine sewing needles, thread and one of those Clover pendant style thread cutters, which I was thinking of attaching to my keyring? Does anyone know? Or should I forget the thread cutter and use my teeth?!

By the end of my quilt class last night, I realised that if there is any chance of having my applique done by the time we have our next class in mid September (when we will learn how to baste and machine quilt), then I need to take my fabrics and freezer paper on holiday with me - I need to baste 85 pieces of fabric, ready to sew onto my quilt top when I get back.

I discovered during our class that the iron-on, freezer paper method does not work as well as traditional basting. It also became obvious that the neatest result is hand applique, rather than machine applique.

Now, that is all very well but the thing is - I am awful at hand sewing. Oh and did I mention very slow at it?! The idea of hand stitching a 1/4" vine stem around the edge of my quilt and adorning it with 85 fabric flower pieces is extremely daunting - I do not mind giving it a go but I am worried that I am biting off more than I can chew!

If it is apparent that my hand stitching quality and speed is not up to it, I will have to switch over to machine applique. Mind you, machine applique looked like it takes some skill to get right too.

Now, if you are wondering why the fabric in the image above bears no resemblance to the fabric that I showed you for my applique a little while ago...

...well, when I got to W10th, I found that The Cloth Shop was having its annual Longest Days of the Year sale. I decided to ignore discounts being offered on regular fabric as I already have two big projects on the go. Instead, I opted to rummage through two tables of fabric scraps that were being sold by weight. The above is 2lbs of fabric scraps in co-ordinating warm creams and browns that I got for CAD$10. The scraps are all different shapes and sizes.

I am hoping that there is enough here for some kind of small holiday foundation or paper piecing project that I was thinking I might pack to take with me. Just in order to practice some hand sewing while I am away. Just in preparation for the huge hand sewing applique task that awaits me when I get back.

Yeah, I know:

Knitting Mojo - 0; Sewing Mojo - 1!

Right, off to pack!

P.S. I might pack a couple of knitting projects as a back up. Just in case I get to the UK and find that I am swallowed alive with the urge to knit as soon as I place a toe back on British soil.

P.P.S. I have been so homesick it is untrue. I am very grateful to all the lovely people I have met in Vancouver who have extended me their friendship and been keeping me sane over the past nine months. I hope that they do not think me ungrateful as I will miss them over the summer but I am just very excited about the idea of going home for a bit to see my family and friends in the UK.

P.P.P.S. I plan to have a cup of tea, eat a proper bacon sandwich and go for a brain-balancing stroll around a familiar supermarket before I go see my diet dust counsellor in order to get my weight back under control. So if you catch up with me in London, the chances are that it will be for a coffee or a fizzy water!

P.P.P.P.S. I plan to collect all my sports kit together and start practising for the GB Open. I have not been able to do any training in Canada at all so I am very conscious how far behind I must be. My peers have been competing in earnest since February/March and many of them travelled abroad to a Championship in South Africa at Easter. In fact, I had to step out of my home nation's Commonwealth Games Trials earlier this year as I am not in the UK to participate in them. That hurt a lot.

P.P.P.P.P.S. I plan to talk to people without hestitating in case I say something that might be considered a faux pas or in case it sparks a reaction (not a reaction to what I have said, a reaction to the way in which I have expressed myself) i.e. used a British colloqualism, pronounced a word differently or just because my accent is odd (to them).

Please don't mind me when I write this - I am just homesick. In general, I am glad that people are interested enough plus feel comfortable enough with me to highlight and discuss language, pronounciation and accent differences.

It is just that I have had nine months of being the odd person out. The novelty does wear off. I just want to get on a plane, go home and be exactly the same as everyone else around me.

In particular, I want to be able to hear a London or a British accent in a shop without having to quell a serious urge to hunt the speaker down - just so that I can speak to them. Just because they have the same accent as me. Ridiculous but true!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Intermediate Photography Slideshows

I have been flat out over the past 2-3 weeks, trying to get assignments in for both my Intermediate Photography course and my Introduction to Photoshop course.

It's been a period of time where my enjoyment of photography has been stretched very thinly and the Fella winces every time I point my camera lens in his direction - poor thing.

This course was far more technical than my first course and as a result, my output is a whole load drier. While we did have two field trips, we spent the majority of the time being shown different lighting techniques in the studio.

Now, if you are having an extremely slow day at work or you just wish to really punish yourself for something, please click here as I have just the slideshow for you:

Intermediate Photography - Full Slideshow - this slideshow contains selected output from all of my class assignments - still life, quality of light exercises etc. If you click this, please note that I accept no responsibility for any damage that may occur when your brain decides to lose the will to live and your body makes sudden, unexpected contact with any kind of object!

If you are shorter on time or you wish to remain conscious, then you might prefer one or both of these slideshows:

People Slideshow - this contains a selection of studio portraits from my class assignments. The people in the pictures are all models provided by the school. I think that it is easy to see from my images which models I gelled with most easily. So, if this is something that I would like to do more of in the future, then that is something that I will need to overcome. That said, I learned such a lot on this course and I do think that my images show progression.

Field Trips Slideshow - this contains my top picks from our two field trips. The first one was a walk around Chinatown and the Strathcona neighbourhood in Vancouver. The second was a walk around the Granville Island area at night.

In addition, I did a final term project. I took portraits of three volunteers in a studio and outside, in natural light. However, I do not want to post any images from this piece of work until I have shared it with my models first. I need to check that they would be alright with me letting other people see their images. This might not be until I am back from the UK later this summer.

Lantern Lighting Invitations

Last night, we started to send out invitations to the friends that we are inviting to our blessing and a lantern lighting, later in the evening. They are not all out yet but I do feel a bit happier today (I was starting to feel a bit panicky).

What is this all about? Well, in order to help resolve the problem of who to invite to our wedding blessing celebration, we decided to split our event into three discrete sections:
  • blessing
  • meal
  • lantern lighting.

As our venue is quite small and can only seat 70 for a meal, despite having lots of outdoors space, we decided to draw a circle around family and the friends who fall into an exception category for one reason or another. We have invited these people to the full event. The invitations (with one goof on my part that I have uncovered so far and addressed with a friend who got placed into the wrong pile) went out a little while ago.

We introduced the lantern lighting to give us a focal point for later in the evening. We are thinking of using the sort of lanterns available from this website (although we might not order them from there).

The idea is that we hold the blessing with all of our guests. Then we have dinner with the guests who are coming to the meal and once this is cleared away, we break up the tables in readiness for the remainder of our guests to arrive. We are breaking up the tables in the hope that it will be easier for everyone to mingle and our new arrivals will not be greeted by people sat amongst their dinner debris.

When all of our guests have arrived, we plan to have a quick toast, light some lanterns and socialise with everyone!

The friends that we are inviting to the blessing and the lantern lighting are those we know through our sport. We have so many sporting friends that it would be impossible to invite them all to our meal. (In fact, we still cannot invite everyone otherwise we will overload our venue.)

We are relying on the fact that our sporting friends, who know the place that we are having our blessing, will understand our capacity predicament, are very capable of looking after themselves and will be happy to socialise with us afterwards when they arrive for the lantern lighting.

It is not a perfect solution but we are doing our best to include as many people as we can without it becoming a complete circus. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Knitting, Spinning & Flying Birds Quilt Update 3

Blogging is a bit sporadic at the moment as I am doing admin for our Wedding celebration event, I am in countdown mode for our trip to the UK and I am coming to the end of two of courses: Intermediate Photography and Introduction to Photoshop. I have assignments and projects due very shortly and no, I am not ready to hand them all in!

That said, I am trying to make a little time, now and then, for other things. For example, on my needles is some of my Autumn in Spring handspun twinned with some Cascade Superwash:


This is destined to become a little tank top for a little boy who will be in the 9 - 12 months bracket this autumn. Mind you, at the rate that I am knitting (albeit that this yarn is aran weight) it might take me that long to knit this up as I am still only on the swatch!


Also, on my wheel is some merino fibre from the Yarn Sprout:


The merino is much more tricksy to spin than the fibre I was working with before. It is very soft, it has a much shorter staple, seems to need quite a bit of twist and it doesn't seem to 'grab' as much. So when it breaks, it is not all that easy to join new fibre back in. I have made more progress since this shot was taken and I think that I am about halfway through now?

Being fed through my sewing machine is my Flying Birds quilt:


I think that it is going to be there for some time yet! We started to put borders onto our quilts last Thursday but we did not get any further. (Actually, it took me another whole afternoon to finish putting my borders on!) As a result, our class homework is to create all of the appliqué shapes that we need in time for our next class. Here is a close up of the fabrics:


Okay - onwards, upwards and all that. No time to rest. As...

...just because it seems that the last thing I need right now is any other sort of task, project, WIP or UFO, I have found myself signed up for a two day quilt workshop.

Apparently, I will cut, piece, baste, quilt and finish an entire quilt in two days (Friday and Saturday). If I were to point out to you that it took me an entire day to iron all of the fabrics for this project (some 32 or so fat quarters worth of fabric), how likely do you think it is that I will actually manage this feat?!

Nope, me either.