Monday, 15 October 2012

Quitches Be Crazy about Autumn (QBC 5)

Quitches Be Crazy
Quitches Be Crazy 

This week we Quitches Be Crazy about Autumn! Season of new shoes and knitwear to me it's also one for new starts and life planning. RatsAsBigAsCats is starting her final year of her art course and for me it's the start of a new Communications job. We will both also be getting some Christmas craft on meaning more of our WiPs being secret! So, having learned about what it means to be committed to a weekly blog Quitches Be Crazy is now taking a deep breath and moving to a monthly feature. 

So to this week's Autumn/ new term themed Quitches Be Crazy questions... 

Q1) Text - Autumn is firmly here. What do you do to get into the spirit of the season?      
Autumn means knitting and wearing knitwear, boots, tights, hot wine, but also buying new stationery sitting down with a notebook and making lists and goals for the coming year.
e.g. for example on my list is getting my CBT again, (which I'd allowed to expire) so that I can have the freedom of a motorbike eventually...

I love to walk along a leafy road, wrapped up warm, music on with a head full of plans and plots. Now I also have a shiny new day job to get stuck into which helps too! Autumn just feels like the start of the year in a way that New Year doesn't. 

Q2) Photo What sums up the back to school season for you?
Well short of a picture of new stationery, knitwear and new shoes... since I'm in in Oxford it has to be something like...

Q3) Linky/ Photo/ Text - What's inspiring you this week?
OOoh... the tentacle window by Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton that I saw in Florence really captured my imagination. It's so extraordinary and quite a thing to sell a handbag (just in view). 

Q4) WiP(s)? 
a) Skull in glow in the dark thread french knots - perfectly acceptable long-term WiP since glow-in-the-dark floss is a bitch and french knots require a lot of patience.
b) Flowers of hexagons stacking them up mindlessly. 
c) Case for my bamboo tablet for which I have outer and inner mostly finished... 
d) Knitting something navy blue - lovely mindless knitting to keep hands busy when brain is still in use. 
e) Finally learned how to do moss stitch... so practicing that with ugly yarn.
f) Geek boy quilt top all done and ready for basting I think... 
And there are more but there's simply not time today to list them all + it'd depress me.

Quitches Be Crazy moving to a monthly feature might even mean that I get some other blogging done now you never know! Certainly I have a new respect for proper bloggers. 
More quitching in November then... Should you want to Quitch-along with us see my instructions hereRatsAsBigAsCats' posts will have lovely, proper photos and all sorts too so do click to her post. 

In the meantime I may have time to actually DO some of those projects on the list, some Christmas makes as well as the other stuff in the calendar, gigs, movies and perhaps even some gymming.  I shall also try to get more photos on my much neglected flickr and tumblr... maybe even the old etsy


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Quitches Be Crazy about holidays (QBC 4)

Quitches Be Crazy

Quitches Be Crazy 

This week we Quitches Be Crazy about holidays! I am famous for failing to take leave from the day job, let alone taking proper holidays but I did and now I see what the fuss is about! I came back with my notebook of ideas and not all of them were for Italian salads, pizzas and pasta dishes. RatsAsBigAsCats does do such things and encouraged me to too. She's been off in Devon and I went to Florence. So to this week's holiday themed quitches questions... 

Q1) Photo - What was the favourite architectural detail or thing you saw on a building during your holiday then?      

In amongst all of the classical statues, renaissance art, shutters and arches this little detail with a space monkey stuck up inside really made me smile. The tear marks where someone obviously tried to remove it and failed I especially enjoy. 

Q2) Photo What did you see on your holidays and think of me?
This bike:
The Magic is Might-esque turtles under a pillar:

Q4) WiP?
Oh there are several WiPs kicking around but I have not sewn, stitched or crafted in a week! Sketches and photos, lists and inspiration only. A fallow week - deliberately. Me? Imagine!  

Should you want to Quitch-along with us see my instructions hereRatsAsBigAsCats' posts will have lovely photos and all sorts too so do click to her post. 


Monday, 1 October 2012

Quitches Be Crazy about feminism (QBC 3)

Quitches Be Crazy

Quitches Be Crazy 

This week we Quitches Be Crazy about feminism! Actually we always are. But RatsAsBigAsCats and I were talking about a journal article she was reading when (not) prepping her dissertation which went into stashing building as a feminist issue. Set us thinking. So to this week's quitches questions... 

Q1) Photo Stash shame is a feminist issue, let's tackle it with a stash shot (one or more discipline).      

Fabric stash here, this is from the drawer that unlike the others isn't sorted by colour.
I also have a bead and fixings stash, embroidery floss too... shoes don't count as stash items right? 

Q2) Text - Do you read one book at a time or have a stash on the go? What's in the to read file?
Oh I stash! 
Gym book - The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
Bedside books & others here:
Holiday book - I remember nothing by Nora Ephron 

Q3) LinkyWhat can you show me to fill me with what they used to call 'girl power'? 
Campaign for no more page 3 - by Hollie McNish

I also think everyone should read 'How to be a Woman' by Caitlin Moran.

Q4) WiP?
The geek boy quilt top is still unfinished because hand appliqueing straight strips is hideous.  

So that's me QBC week 3! 
To Quitch-along with us see my instructions hereRatsAsBigAsCats' side is bound to be better than mine too so take a look. 


Monday, 24 September 2012

Quitches Be Crazy - 2

Quitches Be Crazy

Quitches Be Crazy 

We Quitches still Be Crazy! To Quitch-along with us see my instructions here.

Q1) Photo Let's have a sneaky peek in your ideas/ sketchbook?    

Thinking of what to do with my new embroidery habit!
Q2) Linky When the urge to comfort shop overwhelms you where do you go online/ foot/ both?    

Haberdashery is my comfort drug of choice, since I cannot be trusted in shoe shops.  

Online comfort shopping - 
The Village Haberdashery is so pretty and lovely, full of such nice things and you know when it arrives it comes is a cute dotty bag. *sold*  

Or Amazon - sometimes before I even realise I'm doing it. 

On foot comfort shopping - 
Darn it & Stitch of course! It's the haberdashery version of a sweet shop from Willy Wonka! The colours of the place are gorgeous, it's full of wool, ribbon, fabric and buttons... but it's not just that. Jo and her staff are so friendly and funny that it doesn't just make me smile to go there but actually laugh. 

Q3) Text What do you most love/ hate in about blogs?    

Love - The thing I most love in a blog is someone who is real, funny and inclusive.  Ideally I like them to be slightly sweary (I see that as a quality) and be teaching me something too. So Lu Summers is great as is Lynne of Lily's Quilts especially accompanied by their twitter selves. 

It doesn't necessarilily have to be a maker blog though. e.g. Loving Ms Marmite's new blog 

Hate - Call me Cruella but I hate the over-share. I never want to know about grim details about illness, maternity or other. Not that I want the polished pretence of perfection, just not the gross stuff please. 

Q4) WiP?
Can't claim my knitting or necklaces as a work in progress any more as I was finishing stuff at the weekend. Yeah get me! Finishing stuff - Christmas stuff! 
I bought a whole bunch of mini hoops though which are in Christmas progress... 

So that's me QBC week 2! Do take a look at RatsAsBigAsCats' side of this quitchery too won't you? She's much better at photos than me AND has been *tarting up her blog too. Though I've been able to advise Ratty and others about their web presence and felt very useful and clever, I have been awfully distracted by life changes of late myself but do plan to get better at all this. 

* must stop using the phrase 'tarting up'

Monday, 17 September 2012

Quitches Be Crazy - 1

Quitches Be Crazy

Quitches Be Crazy 

If you're thinking 'What are you on about?' 'Are you making up words now?' or 'Can I play?' click on: What's a Quitch? for my introduction. 

Rats as Big as Cats and me we're not like the other Quitches.

On with a gentle start to our first Quitches Be Crazy questions then:

Q1) Photo What item that you could hold with one hand is your most precious?    

Without my specs I couldn't function. Forget sewing, reading or greeting friends in the street you'd all just be a fuzzy blur to me. 

When choosing my first pair of glasses I said to the Optician I wanted frames 'just like my daddy's' - obviously a bad idea. Carlos the Jackal style aviators hardly go with a gingham dress and plaits! I crunched many pairs under foot and floordrobe etc.. too. I ended up on very good terms with the Design Technology teacher at school who'd keep on fixing them in new and interesting ways. Now I have these sturdy Dior ones and I love them. 

Luckily they make me look both cooler and cleverer too.  Presumably that's what the whole 'Can I try your glasses on?' bit is all about. But I could do without the 'OOh you're really blind aren't you?' that follows. Ha, had me pegged as a hipster? Nah - I need these. 


Q2) Audio - What's the best album/ playlist to craft to? (Name the craft, name & link to the music).

A Contrary Mary I change my mind a lot on this but on this day in history... 

Embroidery and hand quilting - Upbeat poppiness with a sad edge ideally like: Tellison, Trophy WifeLittle Comets that sort of thing.

For knittingLazerhawk allows me to think my own thoughts, tap my feet and bob my head. 

Machine sewing - I do love a proper album to sing along (shamefully badly) to - give me some 
Twin Atlantic - Free, 
Idlewild (any album up to 2007), 
Faith no more - This is it: the best of (it reminds me of the come-back gig at Brixton which was AMAZING), 
Throwing Muses - University, 
or maybe a bit of PJ Harvey.  

If I'm offering one of my playlists then it'll be splendid  

John Martyn and Suede are my great loves so they go with everything! 


Q3) Text - What's your favourite motto(s) or quotes to keep you buoyed and/ or making?

“When it's difficult like this, the taste (of winning) is better.”
-      Valentino Rossi

"My life will only be what I make it. If I accept defeat, I deserve defeat"
Azealia Banks


Q4) Regular Q What's your current Work in Progress?

HA ha! Most everything I've ever started quilt-wise, plus a scarf, some jewellery that got too fiddly for the evening light... a card... but getting the most attention is the fabric from the ugly swap at the Fat Quarterly Retreat that I'm embroidering in several colours to see how that changes it... 


Phew! So the nearlybutnotquite end of Quitches be Crazy week 1 is done! My first go at such a thing. Next week may be entirely different! 

nbnq x

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Quitches be Crazy - What's a Quitch anyway?
Quitches Be Crazy 

Quitches (noun): 
Meaning: Hardcore ladies who quilt 
Rhymes with: Witches and Bitches
Example sentance: I went to pick up my quilt from the show but the Quitches elbowed me in the ribs, pushed in front of me and sneered at it because of the modern use of colour. 

Quitches Be Crazy is a new feature which I am sharing with my dear friend Rats as Big as CatsWe're not like the other Quitches and are enjoying some learning about and inspiring each other whilst living far apart nowadays. We are in fact having a frenaissance, (yes it's a Friends' reference), where we get to know each other better again, after big changes in each of our lives. We are also encouraging one-another to blog-up too. Since we are thoroughly modern ladies we are going multimedia with this thing a mix of photos, words, links, and sounds to answer questions each week. 

If you want to play too we've got a button. We will pick our 3 questions by Wednesday and post on a Monday. To go full linky do post in the comments here won't you? It's a first for us and we're keen to learn from it. So feedback to me is very welcome. 

You can email me (nearlybutnotquite [at] rocketmail [dot] com, comment here or find me on twitter (as nbnqnbnq). 

We start this coming Monday... 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

FoQing disappointment

Now I KNOW the British Quilting scene has modern exciting work being done - I've seen it online - but that is not what I saw in Birmingham at the weekend. I saw (and I'm not going to mince my words here so brace yourself...) a lot of ugly shit. Boring, trad, ugly, sludgy, poorly constructed... it was all there in various combinations. There were some traditional things done well but that doesn't set my heart on fire.

There were a couple of lovely modern quilts, Lu Summers did her bit with some yummy, modern colourful pieces (thank God for her!) and RatsasBigasCats big white on white piece, but nothing really made my jaw drop. No giant eye of hexagons, no deconstructed cleverness, no funny modern twists or anything of the like such as I saw last year.  It just felt like murky trad hobby hell had almost filled the hall and the good bits had been squeezed inbetween.

Some that won prizes were dreadful, at least one was already in a book available to purchase at the event showing it was made in 2010 and one quilt featured text in Comic Sans. COMIC SANS for goodness sake! That should make for an immediate disqualification from prize-winning (if not society as a whole) in my book.  Maybe I'm being a terrible quilt snob I thought... but then my twitter feed showed some similar thoughts elsewhere. So here I am saying it out loud.

Don't get me wrong it wasn't a day wasted, seeing Ratty with her quilt in the show was touching (as I talked her into submitting it) and the shopping was brilliant! Playing on the machines, asking advice of embroiderers, quilters, trying new products, bumping into quilt chums and the like was smashing and all too... but the quilts are the thing. There were some nice quilts on the stalls promoting the products but not IN the show. I wondered if why? If it's because that means allowing total access to folk to photograph it, to potentially touch it with un-gloved hands, or to send it somewhere uncurated? I don't know. 

It's not the friend-maker thing to say I know and I'm sure there were some very clever things that took a very long time, that I'm failing to appreciate - but this is my honest opinion. Maybe it's an off year, maybe it's my 'quirky' taste being hard to please... but still... We went there to get inspired, hoped to leave with the itch to get sewing and left disappointed.

The answer if you don't like it is, of course, bloody do something about it right? After all I don't blame the Twisted Thread people or the organisation, I blame us for not submitting them.

Modern quilt folk! Please, if you make something exciting, if it creates a stir online, please send it to the Festival of Quilts so that we can see it in person.  It's not about showing off but rather sharing the joy and giving folk the chance to see what's happening now! You should know that I'm going to be relentless about this, so you might as well just accept it now.

I left on Sunday even vowing to submit a quilt myself next year. So there you go, next year - I'm putting my efforts up to be sniped about judged by the trads and griped about by pissy bloggers... for my sins... and maybe they'll hate it. But I'll have tried.  

Motivation comes in strange places huh?  

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Let's get quilt blind & shop at the FoQ

Last year I went to the Festival of Quilts at the suggestion of my dear friend Rats as Big as Cats having only really made a few hexagons myself, but nevertheless firmly hooked. I bought my first cutting mat and rotary cutter and a few pieces of fabric there.  Quilt-blindness kicked in several times and we had to have a pint of beer break or two. Yeah yeah I know but honestly I was dazed and confused by the assault of colours, patterns and techniques of patchwork. In fact I was dizzy before I'd taken more than a couple of steps inside - and that was just from the women who had turned up wearing it. Wearing it! Wearing patchwork jackets, patchwork bags, dresses... like camouflage. It is not okay to wear the band's t-shirt to the gig and it's not okay to wear patchwork to the FoQ. The leopard print dress, laser-cut necklace and black studded shoes I wore was, I got the impression, received much the same way by those ladies, so what do I know.

So entranced was I by the monochrome eye quilt I kept just drifting back over and over again to gaze into it, it was awesome, like the untempered schism. Who knows what that did to me!

RasBaC has submitted a quilt this year and I am super excited to see it on display. I will also be trying to over-hear what the quilterati think of it!  If you think "OOoh that's big and white and looks like it'd drive you crackers" that's hers! It's so thrilling to think people will be looking at it now! Not for Ratty mind, she'll be elsewhere trying NOT to hear.

My Google Reader now reveals a loOOoong list of creative makers including people I've actually met, in the real world and interacted with online. The quilt life has become such an enormous part of my life and I'm SO excited to go get back there with a real appreciation for the work, the chance to talk to people and of course the shop-rtunity.

Maybe next year I'll enter something myself, you never know. For now - roll on Sunday!


Friday, 3 August 2012

What do you DO with embroidery?

Doodling with stitches? I love it. It seems that embroidery requires the ability to slow down, sit still and appreciate something that requires patience and time, much like whiskey. So now I have reached the age where all of those things are for me.

I got the embroidery bug off Aneela Hoey at the Fat Quarterly Jubilee Weekend Retreat and recently we've had weather too hot to have big quilty sewing or any woolly knitting on one's lap, let alone to have an iron on! So embroidery has been my drug craft of choice.

Some of the bits and bobs that I've stitched are:

1. Stitchy scruffalo close, 2. Embroidertree - full side DSCF6879, 3. Embroidered Ghostery, 4. Embroiderising the ugly - close

I love the handsewing, it is the control enthusiast's choice, and I'm hooked.

The thing is though... what do folk that don't want (or aren't allowed) hoops going dusty on walls DO with embroidery?  Seriously. This is the big puzzle for me at the mo.

Suggestions welcome!


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Why nearlybutnotquite?

An odd mix of control enthusiast (not freak), organiser, social butterfly, massive geek, advisor and 'quirky' creative I am a strange beast I know. Girly sewing and frock wearing, sits strangely to some with my love of motor racing and somewhat laddy- rather than ladylike socialising. Folk are often confused about how the pieces of me fit and work together and as there seems to be a spate of honest open door, un-photoshopped sort of blogging at the moment (e.g. Ladybird Likes)  I thought I'd be brave and 'splain myself here. Perfectionism and making by hand are an odd mix I know. Handmaking has soul and love and sometimes wobbles - because it's human. So, unless you are a machine the best you can hope for is nearly perfect. Even Mary Poppins was only 'practically perfect' I keep reminding myself of that. So here goes.

People label me as 'quirky' from the way I dress as well as the things that I make and all I can say is to just fling on a fleece and jeans everyday (or ever) would make me sad.  My clothes and accoutrements make me happy. I like big shoes and rings, bright stuff and black stuff and that's just that. Sometimes getting dressed is the best bit of the day, sometimes I look ordinary and sometimes I look in the mirror mid-morning and think I look like a crazy person, but often my shoes make me smile and my necklace gives me comfort. So - yes there is a 'kooky' creative mode which comes up with ideas, and makes interesting choices... playing with colours, day dreaming and scribbling pictures. But there are also the lists... Ah I love lists, (who doesn't?). My lists are usually full of pictures and quite often mind maps/webs as there is so much I want to do!

As my maker self I am nearlybutnotquite. I make lovely 'quirky', often one-of-a-kind I hope, things. There I have full ownership of every step of the design/ making/ selling process, because it's just me. That allows for me to control every stage, which not only means no arguments (yay!) but also lets me learn about what works or doesn't work without letting anyone else down or having to answer to anybody.  I had some infuriating times with a fomer employer providing advice, explanation and guidance about use of social media, management of brand etc. only to see it ignored (or not fully followed).  This way I learn properly. 

Project mode has me fully focused, totally applied to the task, eye to the details and of course aiming for perfection and order. Do as you would be done by and all that. Cracking on and re-doing until my internal quality assurance testing is happy is a delight for that bit of my brain. It baffles me when others don't. 

Once the 'thing' is made I record it in photographs, put it to sell sometimes and then review it to learn from. Sometimes that's a proud tweet/ blog/ flickr/ tumblr share and sometimes not so much... but I am trying to be brave and open with  it. What's the worst that could happen right? I gulp, breathe, sit up straight and hit publish! Then I keep an eye on the analytics, retweets etc. and learn from them. The responses, when I get them, are exclusively kind. Though the flaky creative bit of me struggles with the criticism I so want to keep learning and improving that it is worth it.  I have of course learned that I am my own harshest critic. At home I was grumbling about a mistake (stitch out of place) and got the verbal slap of 'if you want a material that you can be accurate to within 2 mm you want metal not fabric'. Ah yes, fair point.  

Since learning from my nearlybutnotquite & nbnqnbnq experiences I have found more and more I am asked to give advice and be a sounding board... and now I feel pretty capable and competent at doing so. My maker self is still in it's infancy, but I love it and I'm really growing personally, socially and professionally. 

More and more I find myself giving advice about social media, marketing, fundraising, websites and all that gubbins as a communications consultant. From what I gather the reason I am so often asked for my opinion is because I am honest. If I say nice things it's because I mean them. If I don't (and am sober - drunk rules may differ slightly) I won't. I sincerely believe in contructive criticism. That is to say feedback with encouragement and advice, not abuse dressed in help's clothing. Taking full ownership of my own project means that I can speak from experience when I give communications advice. I can be kind and understand the process but also get the emotional aspect of sharing your work with the world. It's a real joy to see someone I've advised converted and evangelising to someone else with my words.  Imagine if I used my powers for evil... anyway... 

Over the last few years I have become gradually more involved with Sciencebook too. A scrappy little start-up project spun out of Oxford schools projects to enthuse young people about Science, Technology Engineering and Maths wouldn't be something you'd immediately link me to, being a non-academic, non-parent and all with but you know what? I love it and I'm bloody good at it. I believe in clear, kind, honest, non-jargony communication and that works. Sciencebook's Project Director, Pauline has asked me to be more and more involved over the last 4/5 years from originally asking me to check one piece of content, then to be on the Advisory Board, and now I am responsible for communications for Sciencebook. Pedant and control-enthusiast me gets an outing, along with creative thinking and converting people to my way of thinking? Love it. It's also a great project. Science at school for me was pretty dry, and the exciting innovations were not used to bring us in. If there's one thing I learned from working with a former Chief Scientific Advisor it is that the realities of climate change and feeding the world as they are now require Science as well as Policy to really make a difference, and the problem is going to take the generations after us to deal with it. More of a boots than sandals gal I do still care about the world and being able to use my skills to help enthuse young people about Science with that focus is brilliant.

Then I go back to my stitching... darkness and light, science and art, bunnies and skulls I am a contrary fairy.

There's also a day job but that is just for paying the bills.

If all of that sounds a bit over-achievingy bear in mind that sometimes I am frozen by the fear of imprefection, I almost never do the washing up, dust bunnies eddy around the flat with only the spiders to keep them in line, I've tonnes of incomplete projects and I never visit my mother... but then again I never said I was perfect.