Friday, 1 July 2016

The Frustrations of Being Creative

It's hard being a creative person. You get inspired by things around you all the time. Sometimes the urge to make something is so strong, you can't think about anything else. 

But being creative takes time. You need to factor in the creative design process for all these ideas popping into your head. It can be really frustrating as sometimes all you want to do is SEW!

And that's my current predicament. I've got a couple of small projects I want to make; both mini challenges for fun. The first involves using this fabric from The City Quilter in NYC to make a quilt on the theme 'Window on New York'.

It's not an easy fabric to use and I have an idea of what I want to make, but not sure how I can incorporate the fabric into the design. 

The second mini challenge is between my mum, sister and myself to use this fabric which we bought in a shop in Switzerland to make something as a momento for my mum's 80th birthday. 

Again I have an idea of what I want to do but need to sit down and design it.

But right now all I want to do is some relatively mindless sewing which doesn't involve too much thinking.

It's a hard life being creative 


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

I have a problem....

I'm addicted to my allotment!

There! I said it! Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery isn't it?

Except I don't want to recover. 

I love spending time on my plot. Yes it's hard work and a constant battle with Mother Nature and her plans. Yes I get all grubby and hot and sweaty, but it's just so calm and peaceful when you are there; somewhere to escape to when the endless demands and deadlines of working on a magazine get you down. Well that's how it is for me anyway. 

But it's more than that too. When I'm not on my plot, I have this need; an urge that I need to go and visit it. I feel guilty if I haven't been able to pop over for a day or two. I feel guilty if I sneak over to it during the working day which is silly as I'm freelance, I can work when I want to. It calls to me. 

Perhaps it's the fact that something always needs doing? A bed to clear; something to plant out; the endless weeding. There can't be any plot holder out there that doesn't get a bit of satisfaction when pulling a bindweed root gently out....and not hearing it snap! Maybe it's the creating something out of virtually nothing; from seed to plot to plate. 

Whatever it is, I can't get enough of it. 


Thursday, 2 June 2016

My Blogging Mojo

The trouble with blogging, well for me anyway, is that I struggle to find the time to write a post. Weeks go by and all of a sudden I have loads to write about which puts me off writing something...

And then I wonder should I even bother as I doubt many people read my posts anyway and maybe I should just stick to micro-blogging on Twitter and Instagram?

But then I think, maybe I'll give it another go...a monthly update on my creative life and another on my allotment life?



Saturday, 26 March 2016

Spring Cleaning Allotment Style

A beautiful spring day with warm sunshine plus advance notice that our allotment association are going to get a skip for the site sometime in the next six weeks to clear rubbish off the site, was enough to persuade me it was time to tackle the collapsing shed on our plot. 

One of the reasons we took on this extra half plot last year, was because it had a shed on it, albeit one in a dire state of repair. 

There were several reasons why I hadn't tackled it previously, mainly because I wasn't sure I could! I was worried that the upright posts of the lean-to would be really hard to dig out and then there was that huge mound of earth piled against one side of it. Who knows what horrors lay beneath it!

I needn't have worried of course. It did take a bit of effort but once I'd managed to jemmy the roof sections off, the posts came out quite quickly as they were old and rotting. 

That side section of corrugated iron took a bit longer to remove as I needed to dig away some of the earth piled up against it and then jemmy it off from the side of the shed, but the pile of earth itself is a lovely bit of soil! Unfortunately there was some horseradish growing it in, but I'm pleased with our efforts at the end of the day. 

And our reward when we got into the shed for the first time?

An old rotary mower!

It seems to work ok, just needs a bit of tlc

So the shed as it is now will do temporarily, but at least we have the room to put a new one up. And all the rubbish on the plot is now collected together ready for when the skip arrives

Definitely a Good Friday!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Ello - a new app to play with

I've used Instagram for quite a few years now and I love it. You post a nice photo, say what you want about it and people say nice things in return. It has a few annoying things like not being able to post links so you have to add [LINK IN BIO] at the end of a post if you want people to read a blog post or visit your website. 

But in the main, I love it. 

Or I did, until I was one of the 'lucky' few who Instagram decided would like to try out their new algorithmic method of deciding which posts might be important to me and instead of my feed being in chronological order, my posts were all over the place. I hated it. Here was Facebook all over again deciding what I wanted to see and in what order. 

I took part in the 24 hour boycott. I've left feedback with the company in the hope they might change their mind about this. 

But now I've just discovered a new app called Ello and I'm warming to it already. It seems to combine the best of all the other social media apps. You can post just text and interestingly you can add bold or italics and you can also add a link to some text so each post is like a mini blog post in effect

You can add a photo and then continue typing, again like a blog post 

Each post has stats at the bottom telling you how many times it's been seen, comments, loved, you can repost and pull up the interactive menu for sharing

When you post a photo 

You can tap on the photo and it fills your screen 

And better still, you can zoom in on the image which is one thing that's always frustrated me on Instagram if I'm trying to spot some detail in an image 

You can choose to have a traditional layout for your feed 

Or you can choose a Pinterest style of feed 

You can also 'star' people you follow and their posts will then appear in a second feed so you can make sure you don't miss posts of certain people, or friends/family. 

That's what I've discovered so far in less than 24 hours! And I'm liking it. It may be goodbye Instagram. Ello is branding itself as 'the creators' network' so it might be that I can't move my business Instagram over, but at the moment that is still in chronological order anyway

Let's see how it goes. You can find me on Ello @joannakent where I'll be showing my quilting and quilt inspiration 


Saturday, 19 March 2016

The Splendid Sampler - week 5

Wow 10% of the quilt is made already! This sampler quiltalong is whizzing by....

Block 9 was designed by Jane Davidson and is called Local Quilt Shop. I personalised my taupe version 

And my Tula version is a Tula quilt shop of course! Which reminds me I need to embroider that 

Block 10 is called Iowa and was designed by Sherri McConnell, a nice quick and easy one to do

And here are each set so far 

Block 7 still isn't sitting well with me in either version so I might replace it with the bonus block 


Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Splendid Sampler - week 4

It was bound to happen. The chances of liking all 100 blocks was not high. I've reckoned on not liking 10% of them. 

And so we came to block 7, Snug as a Bug. I knew there was going to be some embroidery in the quilt and wasn't that averse to it. But.....

Well this is the original block
It's just way to cutesy for me. 

I had a think about what I could do that would vaguely stay true to the block and came up with this for my taupe quilt. 

While making it I remembered why I'm a quilter not an embroiderer. 

I tweaked the design a little for the Tula quilt and may redo the taupe block at a later date. 

Back to the normality of piecing for block 8, Friends Around the Square

I fussy cut the outer triangles so I could cut across the stripe in the Tula block 

Amazingly I am still up to date although I will fall behind in a few weeks when I am away from my machine 


Saturday, 5 March 2016

The Splendid Sampler - week 3

Playing catch up and rounding off week 3 before today's block is released! 

Block 5, Simple Simon, was designed by Celine Perkins. This was quite a quick simple block to do, although it would have been easy for the seams to not match up if a little care wasn't taken 

The taupe block

And the Tula version 

Block 6 was designed by Natalia Bonner and is called Focal Point. Intricate piecing again but I've found not trimming all the excess on units like those mini Flying Geese and pressing seams open, is helping with my accuracy. 

The taupe version 

And my Tula block 

I'm really loving the yellow print again here. Adds so much movement

Block 7 is due for release later today. I can't wait!


The Splendid Sampler - week 2

I'm a little late with my week 2 blocks as my mum has been keeping them all together at her place for inspiration. She has a design board in her bedroom and likes to see them when she wakes each morning....

She is very kindly releasing them back to me four at a time! 

So here are blocks 3 and 4 from week 2. 

Block 3 was called Lots of Love and was designed by Melissa Corry. This was a tricky block to piece; some of the squares were 1" square. Still, I think my blocks came out quite well 

Don't forget the blocks are 6" square when finished so there's a lot of pieces in this block!

Block 4 was a bit more appliqué. Happy Hsppy was designed by Jen Kingwell and boy were those little circles fiddly to make! 

I used a card template to make Suffolk Puffs and then pressed them before removing the card and appliquéing to the background. 

I alternate between loving the taupe or Tula version of each block more. I think it was the taupe version for block 4. I love the vase fabric. 

And here are the first four blocks of each colourway together 


Saturday, 20 February 2016

The Splendid Sampler - week 1

I'm becoming a bit of a sucker for sampler quilts with 100 or so blocks. First there was Dear Jane, although admittedly I haven't got very far with this one. 

Then there was Sylvia's Bridal Sampler which I'm making in pink, purple and peach batiks. I've done around 35 blocks on this quilt which is a bit of a family affair as my mum, sister and son are all making versions too. 

Next it was Tula Pink's City Sampler which I'm making with bright solids and a stripe from Robert Kaufman in each block. Again I've made around 35 blocks for this quilt. 

These three long term projects are very long term as I'm making them at my own pace. 

And then the other month, along came The Splendid Sampler. This is a mystery sampler quilt. I don't know what the blocks or the finished quilt looks like but I do know there are 100 blocks altogether designed by 80 odd different quilters using a variety of techniques. It is an online quiltalong with a Facebook group. I debated with myself (very briefly) about whether to sign up for it, but hey it was free so there was nothing to lose!

The first block was released on Valentine's Day and of course it was a heart block! Hearts Aflutter was designed by Pat Sloan, one of the ladies who has organised this quiltalong. At the moment I'm making the blocks in two colourways. My first choice fabrics were taupes I've been collecting 

But when it came to appliquéing the heart, I didn't have the right colour thread. So I made a second version in Tula Pink fabrics 

Block 2 was released during the week (they are released on Sunday and Thursday each week)

Wings was designed by Jane Davidson,  the second organiser of the quilt. 

My taupes version

And my Tula version

The more I look at this Tula version, the more I love it!

Week 2 starts tomorrow with block 3. I can't wait!


Saturday, 13 February 2016


This weekend my allotment association is holding it's potato weekend. The association don't bring in many varieties but the prices are very good so I don't mind. One day I'd like to go to a bigger potato day or something like Seedy Sunday in Brighton where I can maybe try some different types. 

This year I have stuck with what I know. First early - Rocket
Second early - Charlotte 
And two main crops Desiree and Cara

I'm trying Cara for the first time as a neighbouring plot holder has said it always does well in our soil. I usually grow Picasso which is similar but last year's crop wasn't the best; lots of scabs 

He has also given me four Swift tubers to try as he was really pleased with his last year

I also bought some Sturon onion sets and Pink Pikant shallots

Not bad for about £7!

It's always a bit chaotic in the allotment shed shop. It's a dark lock up garage but it's packed to the rafters and the prices are ridiculously low compared to shop prices.

We are lucky to have it 

I put the tubers in egg boxes straight away so they could start chitting. Didn't take long for one of the cats to guard them for me....