350 Knitting Tips & Techniques by Betty Barnden

350 Knitting Tips & Techniques & Trade Secrets by Betty Barnden, soft back published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215998, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Discover knitting know-how in a handy reference guide. Find out about equipment, materials, patterns, charts, design, techniques and assembly. I love the section on yarn and schematics. The techniques sections are accompanied by photos and the instructions are easy to follow. I did not learn anything from it, but then I have 50 years’ experience in knitting and knitwear design. I think this book is very suited to the beginner, especially the one who wants to knit, but does not quite get it. I was like that aged 10 when school and my mother had tried to teach me and failed. Then I just picked up the knitting needles and wool and taught myself. I don’t think I have ever put those needles down. I would have loved a book like this back then.

The Encyclopaedia of Watercolour Techniques by Hazel Harrison

The Encyclopaedia of Watercolour Techniques by Hazel Harrison, soft back published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216049, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A new edition of this watercolour painting classic. This reference book is so handy for tips, techniques and seeing wonderful finished work too. The examples of work are very well selected. Enhance or develop your own skills with practical advice. The step-by-step demonstrations allow you to use this medium to the full. This visual directory guides you through all you need to know about watercolour painting. It covers tools and techniques, picture making and themes – animals. buildings, people, flowers, landscape and still life. Highly recommended if you do not already have it.

Best Craft Books of The Year 2017

Of all the books I have reviewed this year, here is a mention of the ones I would truly recommend, want to be given or would give. In no particular order, but I will state categorically that Ann Small’s book really stood out and if I had to choose just one, that would be it. There were several in second place, including the bag book, bonded surfaces, intuitive colour, stitched shibori and the fabulous whitework book. If you did not buy them, ask Santa now – make that list.

The Bag Boutique

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/11/25/the-bag-boutique-by-debbie-von-grabler-crozier/

Beautiful Bonded Surfaces

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/08/12/beautiful-bonded-surfaces-by-lynda-monk/

Pioneer Quilts

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/08/10/pioneer-quilts-by-ll-and-k-triplett/

Heirloom Teddy Bears

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/07/31/heirloom-teddy-bears-by-sue-quinn/

Layered Cloth

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/07/18/layered-cloth-by-ann-small/

Intuitive Colour & Design

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/06/29/intuitive-color-design-2nd-ed-by-jean-wells/

Stitched Shibori

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/06/13/stitched-shibori-by-jane-callender/

Learn to Paint in Watercolour

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/05/05/learn-to-paint-in-watercolour-by-william-newton/

Atmospheric Landscapes in Acrylics

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/03/12/atmospheric-landscapes-in-acrylics-by-fraser-scarfe/

Stitch, Fabric & Thread

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/03/03/stitch-fabric-thread-by-elizabeth-healey/

Modern Triangle Quilts

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/02/04/modern-triangle-quilts-by-rebecca-bryan/

Whitework

http://www.yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/2017/01/05/whitework-by-trish-burr/

Enjoy

Interpreting Themes In Textile Art by Els van Baarle and C. Martin

Interpreting Themes In Textile Art by Els van Baarle and C. Martin, hardback published by Batsford. ISBN 9781849944366, price 22.95 available from www.pavilionbooks.com

Wonderful soft fabric texture to the intriguing cover of this book. Just 6 themes inside interpreted by two different artists working with cloth. This book amply shows how any two artists can begin at the same starting point, but take an entirely different journey to create a piece of textile art. The book covers The Creative Process- phases and choices, then the following themes: Graven Images, Walls, Pompeii, Yesterday Is History, Book As Object and Articles in Everyday Use. Both artists have their own signature styles, this book traces their approach and encourages the reader along their own path of artistic discovery.

I found the limit of 6 themes rather disappointing although there are a few more suggestions at the back of the book. Some of the ideas are inspirational but I would suggest that you familiarise yourself with the artists and their work before buying the book. What I enjoyed most was Els’ interpretation of Pompeii and Cherilyn’s interpretation of Books.

30 Gifts in 30 Days by Bendy Carter

30 Gifts in 30 Days by Bendy Carter, published by Annie’s. ISBN 9781590128503, price 8.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

This book gets straight into the 30 projects without any pre-amble. The projects are graded for ability. You can clearly see the materials needed and the instructions are short for most of these quick makes. They are all crochet projects and my favourite one is the Dainty Lace Magnet Buttons. There is a crochet stitch guide at the back of the book.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 week 17a

Finally on Friday I got around to making half hexagons and working on that first quilt for the Festival of Quilts, NEC 2018. In fact all my birthdays came at once as I had not one but 4 great ideas for new quilts. Busy making now.

Still I found time to knit more hats. There is one more finished last night. I have almost run out of leftover bits of wool for the moment. I have a feeling the run up to Christmas will be quilt fever.

Enjoy your creative week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

 

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 16a

Lots to finish off this week – the first quilt for the NEC Festival of Quilts 2018 is top of my list as well as the first Textile Inspirations eBook. A week of computer problems set me back with work. I took advantage of that to take a few more photos of skies, like 585 in the book were not enough! I just love the sky. I am not madly trying to catch up because I still have problems with my arm, wrist and hand. I did not help that by knitting hats!

Yes, it’s where did you get that hat week. Whilst the computer was out of action for various reasons, I knitted 5 hats. I have photographed four of them. These were fun to make and have used up some of my stash. I always keep the left over bits of yarn. They are knitted spontaneously, I just went with the flow, using up what I had and designing the hat as I went along. I love the orange one best, but last night’s one was zingy pink with bits of orange, I love that too. Really taxing on the arm though. The knitting pattern will be loaded shortly and it’s a new style of pattern where it teaches you how to alter and make something your own. Trying to make my brain not things of socks, gloves or mittens. I did scarves two years ago, ended up with over 20 of them!

I trundled along to the Etsy local market on Sunday, not expecting to be thrilled, but I was – such a good market and so many lovely things to see and buy. As I have re-opened my Etsy shop, I hope to be there next year, if I get selected. Filling the Etsy shop is a bit of a bind, so many photos to take.

I shall now take myself into the sewing room and create gorgeous things. Enjoy your creative week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 15a

I finished knitting my mohair shrug and started a stole. When I started designing the pattern, I realised I might actually need to undo the shrug to make the stole long enough. When joining in the second lot of yarn, I realised that I actually had two shades of yarn. Funnily enough, I had managed to knit the shrug in one and the stole in the other even though they were from different small hanks, thank heavens for not mixing them up! Looks like the stole will be about 75cm (30″) long. I would have been happy to have it longer. It is looking good though.

I am still dithering on the first guilt for the NEC FOQ 2018 stand. My problem is leaves – there are so many things I could do with them, that I keep thinking yes that one, no that one, oh I know this, no that would be better.

Fortunately my room is now kitted out with a new sewing table and I feel a new momentum coming on. Leaves you have been warned. The hexagons, which are the third stage of this quilt are finished, but again, the corners and half hexagons still need doing. Depending on what I do with the leaves, I might need more hexagons. So it’s all stations go next week on the leaves. It has seemed like slow progress.

To help with my quilting and textile designs, I have decided to create a design wall. It’s all usually done in my head, but I have always wanted a design wall, so I shall be making one next week. Best idea so far is cork tiles. I would love a white board too.

More about the new textiles inspiration ebooks on Friday, which should see the first one – Skies being issued. Rust will follow shortly and is looking great with 250 images of rust so far. Here is a snippet of some of the work I have created with my rust images. These books are all about inspiring you as an artist.

Have a wonderful creative week. Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

The Bag Boutique by Debbie von Grabler-Crozier

The Bag Boutique by Debbie von Grabler-Crozier, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214304, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com

This has just become my number one all-time favourite bag book. I would hate to call Debbie a bag lady – but she sure knows how to put a great collection of bags together. Why has this gone to my number 1 spot?

20 excellent designs

pull-out, full size pattern sheet

superbly clear instructions

fabulous photos

excellent for beginner sewers up

I am tempted to say this is the only bag book you will ever need, but hey, there is always room for one more book, one more bag. There are no clasp bags included, all handbag (strap, tote or holdall type designs. Highly recommended. Superb to give to all your sewing friends, trust me they will love it. It’s an absolute winner.

Mandalas to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris

Mandalas to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215448, price 9.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Mandalas, meditative embroideries in circles, created with different sized hoops. 24 designs are included, but you can use this as pure inspiration for your own designs. Simple stitch diagrams and keys plus a transfer sheet provide everything you need to sew the designs. The designs are also adaptable to clothing and accessories. Information is given on working with hoops and there is a stitch directory too. Simple yet satisfying.

Needle Lace Techniques by Hazel Blomkamp

Needle Lace Techniques by Hazel Blomkamp, hardback, spiral bound, published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215189, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

For hand embroiderers, this book provides 40 needle lace embroidery techniques with line drawing diagrams on square blocks as shown on the cover. The book is inspired by and uses Dillmont’s stitches  published in the late 19th century. Guidelines on how to use the patterns and instructions are given. What this book lacks is samples of the finished lace techniques. The book lies flat for ease of use.

Complete Guide to Dressmaking by Jules Fallon

Complete Guide to Dressmaking by Jules Fallon, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215721, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A fantastic resource for all dressmakers, especially suitable for those new to dressmaking. Learn all the skills and techniques you need with step-by-step guidance throughout the book. Take your garment-making skills to another level. From choosing fabric and thread to couture sewing skills, it’s all here in an easy-to-use format with clear photos and instructions. Please note that this book was also published as a hardback by another publisher. Includes all aspects of sewing including adapting patterns, cutting, pinning, seams, pockets, openings and closures, buttonholes, zips, sleeves, cuffs, collars, waistbands, cords, lace, frills, topstitching, working with stretch fabrics, hemming, linings and estimating fabric requirements. Great tips throughout the book too. An excellent resource.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 14a

I have been so busy I forgot it was time to blog! Midweek I put aside my new knitwear design, as I really need to concentrate knitting 4 different patterns across one row, and was feeling rather tired. Instead I picked up the mohair I discovered in a charity shop in the summer. I had started knitting another shawl on the way home in the coach, but decided that was not what I wanted. So now it has turned into a short cardigan or shrug. It is almost finished already.

My fingers are rather sore from quilting hexagons. I have one more lot to do and then this will be attached to the rest of my new quilt. This is the first design for FOQ 2018 at the NEC, so I don’t want to reveal too much about it. It is coming along, but hexagons take a long time to hand stitch. Enjoying the process so much.

The rest of my week was spent writing the skies book. All the 585 photographs are in there already. Might make it 600 photos. Now I am painting skies and writing tutorials and tips to finish the book. There will be at least one felted sky and a textile too. I am hoping for a 1st December launch for this. Very pleased with it so far. I could not resist a peek at my photographs for the next one I have planned RUST – won’t be as many photos I thought to myself, so I had a look and there are well over 500 images I have taken. I love experimenting with rust, so expect some good tutorials and samples of work too.

I have been clearing out and tidying the spare room. After three years, I have decided that yes, I shall work in there, much better than always having a load of work on the kitchen table and quilting takes up so much room. Jiggling everything however and making space is not fun.

Enjoy your creative week. Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 13b

More hexagons for quilting, more hand knitting, slowly.

My week has been dedicated to one of those on the spur, follow the feeling moments. That was to create a new set of Inspiration books for artists – be it painters, ceramicists or textiles. I started with skies, seemed appropriate as I have so many photos of them. I am up to 370 in the book so far. It will be a downloadable pdf, and unlike most of my work, you will be allowed to use the photos to create paintings, felts, textiles and so on, but you are not allowed to share or distribute the actual photos or ebook themselves. In addition to the photos, in the ebook I have given my thoughts on paintings and textiles and how one can replicate the photos in a creative way with examples and techniques. I hope people find inspiration in it all. I have certainly loved photographing the sky and making the book. It should be ready by the beginning of December at the latest.

This is part of an ongoing series to complement my work and help those that get stuck with ideas, or how to translate ideas into creative work. Next up will be Rust. So looking forward to that. I have at least half a dozen books planned.

I finally bought a light pad, and although my example of the leaf looks a bit iffy, I thought I would share it. I am rather pleased with the light pad. The blurry pic is the leaf under the paper. The left hand leaf is the one done on the light pad, the drawing on the right on the card is drawn around the leaf. I spent a few minutes testing out the results in colour.

Remember I shall be changing the website shortly so stay tuned please. Lots of preparation in the background. Have a wonderful creative weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Sew Layer Cake Quilts And Gifts by Carolyn Forster

Sew Layer Cake Quilts And Gifts by Carolyn Forster, published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782213772, price 12.99, available from www.searchpress.com

Layer cakes are pre-cut squares and can be used to make quilts with minimum cutting. You already have a 10 inch (25cm perfect square) in co-ordinated fabrics. In this book you will find 9 quilt designs to use these, employing a variety of essential patchwork and quilting techniques. There are also 9 fun gifts, easy to make and using scraps if you wish. Clear photography and instructions are included. All the basics are here from cutting to laundering. Recommended.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 13a

The hexagons expanded a little, the knitting grew a little. Overall progress was not the word of the week, exhaustion was.

I collected a few leaves (ones with good veins), gathered a lot of ideas (some of which I have already forgotten). I found inspiration in local scenery. I worked on a new digital image. It has not quite come together, but there are aspects of it I love, the tree in the bottom left.

I tried shopify, but don’t think I shall use that to make the new website.

When I did have some energy, I devoted it to changing the workroom around. This is work in progress. Reorganising everything takes time. Finding space for everything is the difficult part. New beginnings are forming slowly but surely.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 12b

I find myself making hexagons. I have a love/hate relationship with them. They have their advantages and disadvantages. There are plenty of free downloadable templates on the internet. I love that you can pick them up and put them down, that they are truly portable. Yet I find them time-consuming and even at (7cm) 3 inches across rather fiddly. In my sewing rhythm yesterday evening, I just got carried away and almost sewed all six sides together on two. I got to the third side and thought hey, what am I doing???

I started a sketchbook and a digital sketchbook on leaves and autumn in particular. As I said in the last post, this is a yearly theme for me, but since it is done yearly, it is all on separate sheets, so time to bring all the ideas together in one place, or rather two – traditional drawing and digital. Part of my new website will be building online resources for design in quilting and textiles.

I am making progress with the new knitting pattern, more about that next time.

Have a super creative weekend everyone, and I’ll see you on Monday.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 12a

When you think something is finished and then realise it just will not do. Sewing the binding and border onto the red Cathedral Windows quilt, I cheated and sewed without pinning or anything. Thought I could do it. The quilt had other ideas and the gremlins made sure that the binding was not the same width. It had middle-aged spread! It’s ok I said, continuing and it just got worse. I had sewn all sides, in good faith. I mean, why stop when you know it’s wrong?  The next morning it was unpicking time. Boy that took a long time. My little clips arrived. So here I am clipping it, worked fine. Looks so much better and I have one side hand stitched in place for the border on the back. Happier about that. Always better the second time around. We live and learn.

It was unpicking time with the cardigan too. Never knit or sew when you are too tired. Tired seems to have been the theme of the week as I woke in the early hours every day and even earlier this morning. I am at the point of joining my second pattern in and things get more complicated but more interesting with this knitting pattern I am writing now. Concentration is a must.

Just a snippet of quilting today from my new project for the Festival of Quilts 2018 at the NEC next August. Some great ideas brimming. Some experimentation with leaves – needs working on, but I can see it in my mind’s eye now. Great idea for some mini quilts at the show too.

Watching the sky – still one of the most inspiring things most mornings and some evenings. Nature is such a source of inspiration. Being happily creative is a source of endless joy. Have a wonderful creative week.

Words, images and work copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 11b

A week of endings and new beginnings.

Endings (finished projects) I finished the quilted bed headboard cover. Still slight problems with making it as stiff as it needs to be. The second lot of Vilene arrived but was still not stiff enough. Anyway it is in place now, and some time in the future, I might try for a third time to get the right weight Vilene. Annoying that no-one stocks it locally and there are too many weights with confusing names.

I also finished the border and binding on the Cathedral Windows quilt. This is on stand by for FOQ 2018 as I might need it on the stand. So pleased with this.

Yes, I finished the shawl I started a few weeks ago with a border. Hated this yarn bought at a mill. Fell in love with the colours, but you only had to breathe on the yarn and it broke. It was also spun unevenly but I think unintentionally – like a beginner trying to spin an even yarn. So I found myself winding off large chunks to keep the yarn and even thickness.

New beginnings (new projects) I am starting my first full-size quilt (maybe, working as I go) for FOQ 2108. Very exciting as I try to bring something new to quilting. So much has already been done, that this is almost daunting, but I am up to the challenge. I have decided not to release this work until nearer the show. That way when it is released to the Press and seen at the show it will be fresh and new.

I also started a new cardigan design. Again I am going for something totally new here. Tking a new angle on pattern design.

Also new is the website coming shortly. I have finally decided (almost) to change karenplatt.co.uk to the website for my textile and quilting work with a dash of art. Courses, work for sale, books will all be on this site. I say almost because part of me still want sot create a quilting only website. Looking forward to all this.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Make 1-Hour Gifts

Make 1-Hour Gifts, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617453687, price 10.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

We don’t always have 9 to 5 to sew, so if time is short you will love this collection of 16 fun projects to sew in no time at all. The designs have been chosen from different designers for their ‘giftability’. Quick makes use up your stash or even scraps to make beautiful gifts. The photography is superb, the instructions are clear. You’ll see at a glance the project, materials and cutting, followed by the foolproof step-by-step instructions. See how to insert a zip, make a drawstring bag, sew patchwork, applique and more. Includes gifts for babies, women and home and a unisex bow-tie. Bags, baskets, bibs, scarf and headband are some of the projects. Colourful, fun yet practical and easy for beginners. I love the apron and the coasters. Projects have appeared in other books, so make sure you do not already have these first.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 11a

I did a little stitching, quilting and knitting and a lot of hurting, so progress was slow and I’ll show what I achieved in Friday’s blog.

Today I want to talk about my visit to Bradford yesterday. The first stop was Cartwright Hall in Lister Park, with its gorgeous Mughal gardens, boating lake and trees. The hall is an imposing building that now houses the Art Gallery and from this year features a David Hockney gallery. We admitted that we are not really Hockney fans, but as we left we both said we enjoyed the gallery. There is a screen showing how he paints on the iPad. Fascinating stuff. The art gallery also has a print room where all the famous names in that media are hung – Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg and Riley to mention a few. There are also two painting galleries. Upstairs there were some fine examples of Indian saris and textiles.

We stopped by the boating lake and sat in the warm sunshine to have lunch. Nice paninis. The cakes looked good, but we both decided we were too full.

On to the next stop – Bradford Industrial Museum. I can get very excited about cogs, looms and spools. There were also 3 showcase period houses and much more. There were printing presses too. I loved it. We were just about to leave when some of the machines were set in motion. Whilst I know these places were no picnic to work in, they are a joy to look at. Inside there was an added bonus of a textile exhibition by a group of local artists called Flax.

Both museums are free to visit, see Bradford Museums. I had hoped to make it to Bolling Hall as well but had to call it a day.

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 10b

Hampered by health again this week but I was quilting again this morning, I am relieved to say. I made this Cathedral Windows quilt some time ago. However when I decided to add my red bird border (I had bought the fabric for a blouse and extra with the intention of adding borders to this quilt), part of my blouse pattern intervened and took a little chunk out of either side of my border. Ever since the quilt has been thrown over the back of the settee. One because it looks good there and two, in the hope that I might find a way around those missing chunks. The problem was that I did not want to reduce the width of the border, because that would chop off the birds’ heads. I tried to buy more fabric to no avail. Then I tried to buy a piece that matched one of the fabrics in the quilt. However the shop wrote to say they could not find it and re-imbursed me. Stumped. The fabric on the border was beginning to fray.

Back to square one, and then it occurred to me, cut out a square on either side where the notch of fabric was missing, and use the same fabric to create the binding. Hurrah. It is always good to use a fabric from the quilt for the border. No sooner said than done. Here it is being bound and I am taking the fabric round the back of the large border. I shall be using my Binding Buddy to get perfect mitred corners. As you will no doubt know, Cathedral Windows quilting does not require any wadding nor backing, but as I have added a border I am backing that and I am doing it in one piece.

I also finished my alpaca cardigan – feel ready for whatever winter throws at me now, with this cardigan and jumper twinset. All my knitting patterns are going up on Ravelry.

I dabbled with paint again too. This was a fun one with thicker paint, not my usual style. Time to start new projects, join me on Monday and see what I got up to over the weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

The Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery by Di van Niekerk

The Art of Felting & Silk Ribbon Embroidery by Di van Niekerk, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214427, price 17.99 available from www.searchpress.com

The combination of felting and silk ribbon embroidery is magical. Make felted backgrounds and enhance them with silk ribbon embroidery. Step-by-step instructions are included for felting and for making silk embroidered flowers and creatures. See how to wet felt with wool and silk embellishments; silk paper, needle felting or nuno felting. Learn the art of silk ribbon embroidery. There are 15 projects that also have step-by-step instructions, so this book is ideal from beginners upwards. Make a beautiful felted scarf with a silk ribbon embroidered detail; a throw with an embroidered border; a tablet or hot-water bottle cover, purse, handbag, sampler, spectacle case, wall art, bag, hold-all, bracelet or needle case. I like the projects, they have a contemporary feel. The sparrow on the purse is very special. For each project you see at a glance the materials you need with colour charts, needles, stitches and techniques, process, embroidery and finishing off. An illustrated gallery of stitches used in the projects is given too, clearly showing stitches such as French knot and how to make a rose, for example, with excellent large detailed line drawings in colour. The patterns are at the back of the book.  The book is beautifully illustrated throughout. Di van Niekerk is a well-known silk embroiderer and has joined forces with felter Toody Cassidy and used some designs from Chic Fusion in the book. The book was originally published in South Africa. This book is part of the Textile Artist series. Absolutely superb and highly recommended.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 10a

Back to twice a week blogging. I attached the binding to the neutrals quilts, after making bias joins to ensure I had enough binding to go all the way around the quilt. You can do the math, but I also advise testing it physically to see if you have enough. It does not need pinning, just line up with the edge of the quilt and sew. The full instructions will be in the beginners’ quilting ecourse shortly. This one needs an insert of stiff Vilene, so it is not quite finished yet. The neutrals quilt is destined to be a bedhead cover and needs a stiffener to keep it upright, since the bedhead is shaped. I opted for a pull out liner of Vilene, but it is on order.

I also did the same binding on the Morris quilt, but this one is finished now. Sorry about the pic, a bit of handshake I think.

I have one more quilt to finish from a while ago. One of my Cathedral windows ones. Fabric is on order for that too.

I have had the urge to paint ever since I got back from Corfu and on Saturday I finally made a start. Very pleased with this work, but Sunday was a different day and although I finished 3 paintings, I am not sure I like any of them. I am using different materials for effect for a tutorial. I wrote up part of the tutorial and got some quilt design tutorials written up too.

I am now working on the fascinating innovative quilt creations for Festival of Quilts (FOQ) 2018. Very excited about this work. Can’t show you much of it, it is all hush hush for the show.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2018

Drawing The Male Nude by Giovanni Civardi

Drawing The Male Nude by Giovanni Civardi, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214618, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

An introduction to the drawing of the male nude. You’ll find numerous poses illustrating all the aspects of drawing nudes. A resource book and collection of drawings. This book includes structure of the human figure and the different methods of representation. It looks at using with different materials and the effect this has upon the look of the finished drawing. It looks at proportion and the difficulties encountered by beginners. The studies are all fairly simplistic line drawings, with a little spontaneity at the end of the book. Similar books have been written by the author, if you do not already have one, this makes a good introduction to drawing the nude.

 

One Day Doilies

One Day Doilies, softback published by Annie’s. ISBN 9781590127858, price 7.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

8 doilies to crochet that take no time at all. Stunning designs, mostly lacy and openwork except for a more solid star and closely crocheted design. Different shapes and motifs mean you could be happy crocheting all 8. Instructions from beginner upwards. Clear photographs, clear written instructions, all using the same crochet cotton. Short stitch guide with drawings and a conversion chart. Excellent value.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 9

I quilted the neutral quilt top, then made a start going in the opposite direction to make large X’s. Would have liked to do large diamonds across two rows, but with five rows, there would have been one half diamond and I did not fancy that. Of course, this made small diamonds across the row anyway.

Got quite a bit of hand stitching done on the embroidery and I am well on my way up the first front of the cardigan. Just to remind everyone – this is the cable cardigan in angora to match the sweater already made.

It has been quite a while since I created some digital work. I had a go at abstracting a drawing with interesting results.

Saturday saw me make a decision for 2018 to be my European year. I want to see as much as Europe as I can. I do not even have a shoestring to travel on, so it will be fun to bring any of the plans to fruition. I also have some commitments here, so it cannot be quite what is in my mind or dreams. That would consist of a gap year, where I up sticks and live in Europe for a year. Unfortunately not possible at present. I have a few ideas to follow and see if anything works out for me.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Beginner’s Guide to Botanical Flower Painting

Beginner’s Guide to Botanical Flower Painting, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782213109, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Michael presents a 6-stage process to painting any flower you like in detail. It’s a mix of traditional techniques and contemporary style to produce detailed flower portraits. There are sections on colour (including greens), drawing (simplifying the process into shapes), tone, composition and dissection. 12 excellent step-by-step projects are included with full-size tracings provided. Find out how to select, prepare and draw flowers and how to mix colours. Michael has chosen to depict favourite flowers with wide appeal – rose, calla lily, iris, magnolia and pansy amongst others. Throughout you will find Michael’s inspirational flower paintings. Achieve good results even as a beginner. This book is based on two previously published books.

Complete Guide to Acrylics by Lorena Kloosterboer

Complete Guide to Acrylics by Lorena Kloosterboer, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215745, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Techniques, tools of the trade, materials, expert tips, sep-by-step photos and examples of work make this comprehensive resource a must for all painters interested in using acrylics. 65 techniques are included. This book was previously published in 2015. Please note that included in the techniques are methods like ‘applying gesso’, ‘making a wet palette’ so they are not all actual painting techniques. Some of the techniques are step-by-step. They are useful for beginners and also include some advanced techniques such as pouring, grisaille, glazing, decalcomania and airbrush. In Form and Surface, she covers still life and capturing the surface of objects such as wood, fabric, flowers, skin, glass, animal hair, painting landscapes and water and so on. There is a superb step-by-step of painting a portrait and another of plaited hair. For advanced artists there is a chapter called ‘Be a Pro’. Unfortunately instead of taking the artist into the next level to explore skills and push the boundaries, this is a rather mundane chapter on giving your art a title, signing it, framing it and photographing it. The book is filled with colour reproductions of Lorena’s art and that of others. I was disappointed that in the ‘Keeping Acrylics Workable’ section there was no mention of Atelier Interactive, which are my acrylics of choice because you don’t need retarders or wet palettes. In other respects this book is comprehensive no matter what your budget, the author presents options in materials, in fact there are 45 pages given to this section alone. This book is great for building skills, no matter whether you are a beginner or more confident painter.

Creative Textiles Blog Year 2 Week 8

Sorry I have been missing for a week or so. I went away to Corfu, more about that in a minute. First, let me show you what I made whilst I was in Corfu. I knitted a purple shawl to my own design. I also started hand stitching one of my portraits. As always I totally fell in love with doing this again. I have not done one for a while, thanks to hand/arm and eyesight problems. So it was great to get a little done. I have changed my way of working slightly, introducing more fabrics.

I would also like to show you my purchases. I was very frugal – I had to be. I could not even afford to eat out. I grabbed a spinach pie every day for around 2 Eu and bought fresh bread and cheese. I could not resist this red braid in an ecclesiastical supplies shop and wanted to go back on my last day, but alas could not find the shop. The gift wrap was nice too. I also bought some olive wood buttons. Many of the shops are filled with rubbish aimed at tourists.

Corfu – land of blue and green. Blue waters sparkle silver, misty mountains changing colours, rows of boats upon the silvered sea. Coloured walls of Venetian buildings, warm against the sunshine. Byzantine churches with gold and silver icons, candle flames for prayers and hopes. Fortresses, art and gardens. So much to see, I enjoyed my week very much. I found so much inspiration.

I stayed at the Saint Nicholas Aparthotel and had a large bedroom and a separate sitting room with a sink, fridge and hob. A balcony ran the length of both rooms. In the grounds were a pool and bar. The hotel reception areas are well-designed and there are cameos of vintage artefacts and furniture. The staff were brilliant and I would recommend this hotel to anyone. It is in Gouvia, where Corfu marina and the Venetian shipyards are – not a tourist area as such. It is 8km from Corfu Town, 3 km from Dassia/Ipsos. All are easily reached by bus at the bottom of the hill, very easy to use and frequent even in October. You can also easily reach Mouse Island, Mon Repos (where Prince Philip was born) and other areas of interest on the blue bus. Green buses will take you to the tourist areas and further afield. I went into Corfu town three times, very interesting. It is easy to get lost even with a map! Local Greeks, especially in the shops will point you in the right direction. Sad that the Archeological Museum was still closed for renovations, but there was much to see.

I was pleased with everything I saw – Corfu Town with its busy but pedestrianised streets, the churches, monasteries, domes and galleries, the big beautiful blue sea, green gardens and mountain sides with their olive groves, historical remains and the relaxing atmosphere. Everyone was complaining about mosquitoes and I had huge bites. The only other thing I did not like was that on the main roads and around the city centre, there is quite a lot of pollution from motorbikes and old cars. However the traffic is nowhere near as mad as Athens.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Vibrant Oils by Haidee-Jo Summers

Vibrant Oils by Haidee-Jo Summers, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782212539, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Inject freshness and vibrancy into oil paintings with Haidee-Jo’s style that demystifies the media to create contemporary work. Subjects include portraits, landscapes, still life and more. The book is aimed at any level from beginners to those looking for new techniques. Find everything you need to know including alla prima, colour and painting figures. 4 very good step-by-step projects are included – cafe scene, a female portrait, the boats seen on the front cover and a garden. The contents are divided into introduction, materials, inspiration, oils, drawing, alla prima, composition, values, colour, plein air, sketching, figures plus the projects and greys, lost and found (edges), your voice and the index. The book is highly instructional with excellent text – every word counts. Much of the painting is like cameos and the book is full of examples of her painting. I love the snow scene of the allotment, it is so fresh with excellent light. However, I personally find her work rather sketch-like and prefer my oils a bit more traditional. An interesting book none the less that I believe will deservedly have wide appeal. Of all the oil paintings books I have read, I think this is very useful.

Stitch People by Jo Dixey

Stitch People by Jo Dixey, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215622, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

20 projects guide you through embroidering people. The projects are aimed at all levels from beginner to experienced embroiderers and are classified in 3 sections: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each project brings new stitches to enhance and expand your ‘stitch vocabulary’. There is a short introduction, then straight into the projects themselves. I like the shopping bag with its outline people and their own brightly coloured fabric bags. The cushion with its curled figure is my favourite. This image is repeated for a wall hanging, with a different treatment in stitch. The bus queue stitch sampler is also very good (front cover). Templates are provided to photocopy, you will need to enlarge them. A gallery shows all the stitches, the images needed to be brightened up a little. Once you have mastered the stitches and techniques, you can go on to develop your own work.

Creative Textiles Blog Year 2 Week 7a

What an incredibly inspiring weekend. My Art Fund card ends next week, so I was looking for somewhere to go. I hit on Bramhall Hall, near Stockport and was pleased to see that I could get there by train and bus. Then I found Staircase House is in the centre of Stockport. I had seen it once on Flog It! and thought it looked very interesting. A Tudor/Jacobean theme would suit me. Added to that a small museum (actually in the same visitor centre for Staircase House) and a lovely parish church, a hat museum and I was set up for an interesting day.

I started with the museum, which had some textile-related exhibits as well as exhibits through time. Then into Staircase House, which was fascinating. I loved the stumpwork mirror frame. I just had time to nip into the church, grab a sandwich and get lost before I found the bus station.

Off on the bus to Bramhall Hall, which was probably my highlight of the day for its incredible Solar and the Elizabethan ceiling in one room, lovely chapel too. I took tons of photos. Back into Stockport and I had time to visit the Hat Factory, lots of exhibits and machinery with mini films about the hat industry. I also popped into the Art Gallery opposite the immense Stockport Town Hall. There were tow interesting exhibitions plus World War 1 war memorabilia upstairs. Such a great and varied day.

I had to massage my legs and take a pain killer. So I did not expect to get up and go out again. But that is what I did. For once in my life I actually read a fb ad and decided I could not miss the fashion exhibit at Chatsworth, ‘House Style’ especially as it was Sotheby’s sculpture in the garden annual show too. Not only that, but with the Art Fund card, I would get 50% reduction in entry to the house and garden. There was a river festival where I live with live music, so I did not need any further persuasion to escape.

Wow is all I can say. Don’t miss it, the fashion exhibition in the house is fantastic. Lots of famous designer dresses. A few I would have liked to bring home. The book that accompanies it is sadly lacking in good photos of the costumes. Since the lighting is low to preserve the costumes, it would have been wonderful to have a book that showed them. I just loved it, in fact I would go again tomorrow if I could afford it. It was fabulous to see the sketchbooks of Georgiana and some of the past Dukes, the jewellery and accessories. It runs until 22 October. There are also 3 short videos on chatsworth.org about the exhibition. Can’t say the same for the sculpture this year, several people were commenting that they did not like any of them. I liked three, but certainly not the best year. I particularly liked the connecting squares sculpture as it changed shape. Bring back Chihuly!

I have seen such wondrous things, taken 800 photos and will obviously need a week to recover, but it was really worth it. Back to quilting and writing now, but working on new, exciting ideas too.

Enjoy your creative week.

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textiles Blog Year 2 Week 6b

I am so pleased with my perfect quilting seams. Big smiles. That quilt top is finished. I had to re-do a section because my machine was not sewing correctly. First machine blip in seven years. It is ok now. I have to do the binding for this quilt now.

However, I cut more squares – not quite as accurate as a pre-cut. I should have used a template but did not think of it until I had nearly finished. To say they are cut by hand with scissors, ruler and pencil to mark, I did well. I could not find my rotary cutter, it has legs. This set is now stitched together except for one row. That’s my first task tomorrow to do the patchwork on the final row, then sewing the 5 rows together. These two projects are for the new beginners’ quilting ecourse, launching shortly.

Looks like this weekend will be all about binding. My next quilting project is one for my quilting ecourse. Looking forward to that. My ladies are working so hard on the course. Perhaps one I shall show at FOQ 2018, Stand C5. Today I actually prepared my countdown to the show, I know it is 11 months to go, but there is a lot to do. All the quilts to design and stitch, the advertising, quilt kits to arrange. Very exciting stuff.

The back of the alpaca jumper is done, so I am knitting a sleeve now. Have a wonderful creative weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Gradient Knits by Tanis Gray

Gradient Knits by Tanis Gray, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215691, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

10 core lessons take you through the steps of knitting. Each lesson is accompanied by a project to make to learn core skills. All so good so far. Do you really need a book to teach knitting with gradient yarns at this level? Lesson one is a simple basic knitting lesson of knit and purl, nothing more. The hat is a good project (although I have never heard of a blocket hat???). Most would not usually do this as a basic lesson project as it involves decreasing and this pattern uses charts too. The second lesson teaches slip stitch and introduces an intermediate cowl. The third lesson goes back to colourwork stripes knit diagonally and so forth. There is little rhyme or reason to the lessons, they are not progressive. They also teach little about using gradient yarns. I am not sure why anyone would want to make thrummed mittens, your fingers would catch inside. Better to use a thick/thin slub yarn without loops, of which there are plenty. The cowl is not a true gradient pattern but use of contrasting colours as is the lace shawl and the modular scarf. Same with the mittens, and the intarsia legwarmers. Incidentally the mittens are also intarsia and not fair-isle as stated. Out of the 10 projects, it seems that only 3 use gradient yarns! Basic knitting instructions are given at the back of the book. As a beginner’s knitting book it is ok, as a book on gradient knits, it does not fit the title description for me, but it does mention stranded knitting etc, just confusing. There are better patterns and use of ombre yarn out there.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 6a

Already into week 6. What a buzz, things are taking off all at once. On Thursday last week I went to Royal Leamington Spa for the first time. I hope it isn’t the last. What a wonderful place. I found much inspiration. The town is on the River Leam.

Online I found a walk of the Old Town, so I did that first. I took lots of photos of the decorative railings. The house with the scaffolding was where John Ruskin once lived, if I had followed the directions correctly. No plaque on the wall.

Popped into the church, one of the largest parish churches in England, which has amazing windows, as well as embroideries. The stained glass window reflections on the curtain caught my eye.

Jephson Gardens has wonderful plantings. It was fantastic and I fell in love with the greenhouse and plantings, not to mention the structure itself. I ate at the Aviary, which is a wonderful venue and is not only reasonably priced (unlike many of the tea rooms here) but the food was great. Slice of sweet potato and feta thingy and berry Bakewell. After a natter with the people sitting next to me, the only shower of the day had passed and I strolled into the Pump Rooms where the Art Gallery and Museum is. Some very interesting exhibits including a piece of smocking.

Then I wandered up the High Street, past the Town Hall, up and down every side street, my legs protesting madly. Some good independent shops with lots of inspiration and wonderful window shopping. It is becoming a habit to come across an old Singer sewing machine. Was I tempted? Yes, but I have committed to Festival Quilts, so all my money is going into Stand C5, make sure you save that number because I shall be showing something new and unique to quilting.

Meanwhile, I have decided upon my Morris project, part of the new beginner’s quilting ecourse I am writing at the moment. Have a great creative week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2 Week 5b

It has been an amazing week. Two ladies joined my quilting and patchwork design ecourse, and another is joining after xmas. Thank you to all. They have started on a journey of exploration. You too can now join any time.

I made the decision to exhibit at the Festival of Quilts and have signed the contract. Deep breaths! It’s a big (and expensive) step forward. Having signed the contract, I looked for a hotel at the NEC, the price was a hard pill to swallow. Gulp. The last time I exhibited at the NEC was for my gardening books. The Crowne Plaza was 60 something a night, now it is 300 a night!!! I chose a different hotel. How do they get away with this? Put the stand number in your diary please and come and visit me for inspiration and unique quilting ideas on C5. I am bringing something new to quilting, that is under wraps for the moment. So very exciting.

I am quilting the blue quilt having smoothed out and pinned, which seemed to take forever and left me with backache. Manipulating the massive quilt through the tiny space in the domestic sewing machine. It seems more like one foot in the grave than stitch in the ditch! I have tried the 80/20 wadding now, and although I like that it is slightly thicker, I find the pure cotton easier to work with. Everyone seems to think otherwise!

The next quilt is in preparation and is the William Morris fabrics from Moda. I have to be stitch perfect for this. I really do like the idea of making a wall hanging for above my bed. Whatever I make, I am keeping it, I love the fabrics too much. This too will be a design for the beginners quilting ecourse I am writing.

I have finished the alpaca cardigan, and there are 7 balls left, enough for a jumper maybe. So that is the next project. Keeping me out of mischief. Enjoy your weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Watercolour Flowers by Julie King

Take Three Colours Watercolour Flowers by Julie King, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215288, price 8.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Use just three colours, three brushes, paper and water to create flower paintings. Nine easy exercises build your skills to paint well-known flowers such as roses and tulips. Step-by-step instructions are easy to follow. Advice is given on techniques including transferring the designs. The finished paintings are shown full-size. So often working with watercolours is frustrating and artists are turned off the medium. Gain confidence by keeping it simple. Ideal for beginners.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 5a

On Friday, to make the backing fit the width of the blue quilt, I stitched together some of the pieces from the front, interspersed with some of the fabric used in the bigger border to make a central feature down the middle. It was stitched together yesterday so the backing is now finished. I just need to make a label.

This morning I shall make my quilt sandwich and get down to quilting. That means I have to decide on a design! I think I am going to go zigzag. It is perfect for stitch in the ditch, but I used that in the neutrals quilt. Since these quilts are being created for a new beginners course, I need to teach something different every time. The neutrals quilt has now found a home on the bed and looks much nicer than the stone coloured machined quilt top I paid over a 100 pounds for in a sale, which bobbles! Mine does need a good press though!

My new Morris fabrics arrived to go with the Moda charm pack I have. I have stroked them twice, I would love to just stash them and take them out occasionally to look at! They go together better than I thought on the computer screen when ordering. I had decided against triangles and thought of something else, but for the minute I cannot remember what. I must finish the blue quilt first though, so time to think about it. Not good for photography today – dull and raining, so I shall show these in Friday’s blog.

On Saturday I travelled to Barnard Castle and Bowes Museum and had a wonderful time. The textiles room at Bowes is interesting. It was almost impossible to get a good photo. I loved the town with its independent shops, cafes and galleries. I was thrilled to find the work of two fabulous artists Chris and Val Mouncey, such fine work. I saw another of those old Singer machines too.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 4b

Things have gone well this week. I started by attaching the binding onto the neutrals quilt. This is the third method I have used for binding, and I find it the best so far. I attached the binding by machine to the quilt then hand stitched it in place on the back. It takes time and sore fingers but gives a professional finish. I have one more side to do today.

In between hand stitching the neutrals quilt, I also worked on the blue quilt. I chose a fairly narrow border using the palest blue. I wanted mitred corners, so I used my new Binding Buddy from June Taylor. It did the trick, although I did not believe it until I had put all four pieces of the border on and stitched the mitred corners, it did work. I could have used it to join pieces, but instead I inserted one of the darker fabrics into each piece and made straight joins. These quilts are aimed at beginners after all.

Today I took a darker blue in a wider width for the second border. Just one more piece to do. Next I shall piece the backing.

So with these two projects almost finished, I am thinking of the next project. I got the Morris fabrics out and played around with them. I was happy with the arrangement after trying half a dozen ways, but then decided it was not big enough for what I wanted to make, so I ordered more fabric.

I am on the last piece of the angora cardigan too. So three projects almost finished this week. I have been designing some new quilts, but more about that when the new website is finished.

Elsewhere I am making great progress putting the Indian tour together, with the itinerary almost finished. Hotels are slow coming back with prices, but I’ll know soon. Meantime, I am learning Hindi – no-one can say that I don’t go the extra mile! Namaste.

Words, images and work copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 4a

I have been quilting, but nothing much to show. I have now finished quilting and so it’s the binding today. This quilt could still take more quilting. Part of me wants to quilt in the white with fancy free-motion but I struggle a bit with doing a full-size quilt on my domestic sewing machine and need a rest. So I shall bind and maybe even hand quilt through winter.

Therefore I thought I would take you on a little tour around Warwick. I visited on Friday and I was thrilled. It’s quite a small place but it packs a punch for interesting things to see and do.

My first stop was the medieval Lord Leycester Hospital with its interesting history, chapel, Great Hall and more. Kings ate here at the long table. I soaked up the history, visited the garden and had tea and cake here. It was and still is hospitality for soldiers and not a hospital as we know the meaning nowadays.

Next it was off to the well-known Warwick castle. Such an imposing building with a long history. The interior rooms are wonderful. The exterior, apart from the famous peacock garden, is aimed at children with archery, stocks and more. A trebuchet was in full action. It was the State rooms I came to see. What I loved most were the faded and threadbare curtains, the pieces of embroidered cotton and the stained glass. Superb. Entry is half price if you are an English Heritage member, otherwise you have to find a rather steep 29 pounds per adult. In addition, no further discount, if you want to visit the dungeons, it is a further 9 pounds! The shops are again mainly aimed at children and some of it is very theme park-like but worth seeing the State rooms, I loved those.

Walk round behind the castle to Mill Street, at the end a private garden is often open to visitors with views of the castle. Don’t miss the Smith Street shops, through the arched gate. Here you’ll find much of interest including The Quilter’s Den (very amicable owner, we found much in common as regards our views on quilting) with a lovely range of quilting fabrics, The Textile Anarchist (she was closed but the window was interesting), places to eat too. Just further along is St John Museum with its Elizabethan facade. The Church is interesting too and there is a pleasant Market Place. Lots of inspiration. Warwick, I hope to be back.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Make Softies

Make Softies, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617453861, price 10.99, available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

Sew a cuddle! Adorable soft toys not just for kids but for anyone who is young at heart. 11 projects from various designers show delightful ideas for using socks, felt or fabric scraps. Make your own aliens (my favourite project in the book), little houses, soft rabbits, a kind of gnome, checkerboard and more. There are two owl projects. All templates are included and instructions are clear and easy to follow. Be a softie, go on, you’ll fall in love.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 3b

Not exactly the week I had planned. Everything I ate seemed to upset me and I could not sleep. So the days passed in exhaustion. It gave me time to think about what to do with the next few years.

I have been shaping a new website, some things will be going, new things will be coming on board. Fabrics will be based around particular designs for quilts or textiles that people can buy as kits. Threads will just be the undyed ones. More courses will be introduced, I will be attending at least one quilt show, maybe more and I am bringing my tours back into play, but this time to areas of architectural, craft and design interest for quilters and artists to beautiful places around the world.

I am planning the first to India in Feb 2018, so let me know if you are interested.  I know I might need to change the date as it is relatively short notice but I have chosen February as the coolest month to travel to India. This tour is to Delhi/Agra/Jaipur and may be Gujarat. I am looking for up to 20 people to join me and I can guarantee it will be the best value around. Apart from fabric shopping, sightseeing and local workshops to learn block printing, embroidery and museums to visit, I shall be providing in-depth ways to use what we have seen to design your own work and letting you in on trade secrets and ways to de-stress. I look forward to travelling with you.

The best way to keep up with details and news is on my fb page, that is a good way to contact me too. Please note that when the new website is ready, the contact may change, but I will give advance notice of that on fb and write to anyone who has booked. They will have special contacts anyway that I do not give out to anyone else.

Keep tuned in and have a wonderful creative weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting by Sharon Boggon

The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting by Sharon Boggon, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617453618, price 24.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

A step-by-step photographic guide to crazy quilting. See every detail at a glance. 35 stitches help you adorn your quilt. Discover the techniques, how-to design, piece, stitch and embellish a stunning crazy quilt. These Victorian era quilts are given the contemporary touch and brought up-to-date. Ideal for using small fabrics and trims or lace. Fabulous photographic guide to techniques and stitches with many tips and advice along the way.

The Quilting Manual

The Quilting Manual, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 9781617455360, price 15.99, available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

Want to move beyond the basics when quilting? You’ll find over 100 continuous and stand-alone designs for blocks, borders and more. 16 professional quilters share tips, techniques and motifs to inspire and inform. The designs are suitable for hand-quilting or domestic machine quilting with feed-dogs up or down. Discover 16 know-hows from basics of machine quilting to troubleshooting. The points I found most useful as a quilter were the stopping and starting – a professional method preferred by show judges and quilting negative space. The hand quilting section only mentions sashiko. The useful quilting designs are shown as line drawings, some with directional arrows. This book has a nice soft feel, is well-designed with easy to use instructions.

Creative Textile Blog, Year 2 Week 3a

I went to Whitby yesterday and found lots of inspiration not only in Whitby Abbey, which I have visited many times, but also in the Art Gallery and Museum and the Captain Cook Museum. Of course, the harbour was also a source of inspiration.

I saw samplers, embroidery, beaded purses, exhibits from overseas, fabulous art and seaside rust, boats and water. I had never gone into the Captain Cook exhibition thinking that although I found him a fascinating man with his many adventures, that the museum might not interest me much. I am glad I visited this time. Whitby was heaving with people and it was relatively quiet in here. The Art Gallery and Museum are well worth a visit too. The Gallery has an exhibition on at the moment – ‘Curated Spaces’ and the museum has many interesting exhibits including one on St Hilda upstairs.

I climbed the 199 steps for probably the last time. I had to stop and sit twice, but I made it to the top. Such wonderful views of the lighthouses and cliffs beyond. St Mary’s Church is different to any other church I know, with such high pews, almost like cattle pens. They dominate the whole floor space. It is very pretty from the outside and has some interesting grave stones.

The woman sitting next to me on the coach spent the whole 5 hours in a pub! Public transport, you can’t beat it!

I have spent this morning having a little fun with some of my images creating new art prints, but nothing pleases me yet, it’s not quite there. I think I like the red and blue one best. I am now going to quilt. Have a lovely creative week, and I’ll see you all on Friday.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 2b

It was a week of good intentions with little done owing to ill health again. I managed to continue knitting most days, but even then just a few rows sometimes. I have finished the back and one front of this wonderfully soft alpaca cable knit.

I just could not even make an attempt to cut borders and bindings for the quilts as that takes an extremely clear head and I did not want to get it wrong. Instead I tried a few ideas on paper for quilting the top. Templates cut from card cost nothing and save the expense of buying a pricey plastic template that is sometimes only used once.

Elsewhere, I have concentrated on deleting photos from my enormous photo library. I have also been deleting products from the website in readiness for the changeover to a new website. Of course, much thought has been given to my next projects and one night I was up and down writing notes and even putting materials together for a textiles project. Hopefully I shall get my quilts finished and show you the new projects next week.

Have a creative weekend

Words, images and work copyright Karen Platt 2017

Stitched – Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey

Stitched – Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey, softback published by C & T Publishing in the USA. ISBN 9781617455100, price 22.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com

Apart from sewing basics and the easy layout and easy-to use instructions with excellent photos I have come to expect from C & T Books, the first thing that strikes me about this book is that the designs are just that bit different. We get used to look-alike bags but Aneela has designed an array of 15 practical projects that you’ll love to make and use. From pincushions to pouches and bags, these super ‘containers’ will tidy craft supplies and organise your space. Neat solutions for every maker with great techniques. It makes sense to get organised because if you are like me, you can spend ages trying to remember where you have put things. The projects are divided into Small Things, Cases and Folios, Pouches, Boxes and Totes. Templates are provided on a pull-out sheet at the back. I love all the projects, the big pouch and the sliding box are favourites. Highly recommended.

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 2a

The first of this week’s blog posts tells you what I have been up to this weekend, creatively and travel-wise.

Saturday saw me visiting no less than three West Yorkshire towns. The first stop was Keighley with the aim of re-visiting the lovely Cliffe Castle and seeing the new gardens. However the coach driver had different ideas and we had such a short stay that there was no time. Instead I wangled a look around the church – it has gorgeous stained glass and is open for the Heritage days in September, so worth a visit. The weather was not kind, more like April than August and I took refuge in the market – some good fabrics and haberdashery here. I found some mohair yarn in Oxfam and bought a pair of knitting needles so that I could start knitting on the the coach.

The next stop was Haworth. Such a long time since I had been here and it had changed quite a lot. It’s gone all vintage. There was uproar on the coach when the driver announced the short visit. Some of us almost ran to the parsonage. I do so love the Brontes. It was all change there too (last time I visited was getting on for forty years ago). At the moment it was all about the BBC production. Interesting but not as I remembered it. New shop too. Still a wonderful place to visit, even better if you have time to get out on the Moors.

Last stop was Hebden Bridge. I re-visited here earlier this year after about forty years again. Not sure what took me so long to go back. It is full of reasonably priced individual, independent shops with a river, surrounded by lush green hills. I sought out the quilt shop for me, the cheese shop for the cheese addict in the family and bought a handmade vegetarian pie. A lovely day. Perfect finish to the day when I found lots of rusty objects to photograph.

So Sunday morning saw me catching up with work and sewing the quilt top pieces together. I caught up on some knitting too – wonderful cables, always so satisfying to knit. My binding buddy ruler arrived. I opened it up and thought of a ‘free’ way of making one! I am sure this will be used a lot though. On the dressmaking front, the jacket is in limbo for a moment as I did not like the way it is looking. I tried two ideas but did not like them. I think I have decided what to do with it, just need the time to stitch it. Rather a happy if tired bunny. Have a wonderful creative week. I have lots of plans.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 1b

It has been a productive four days. The quilt is still in limbo, as I geared myself up to cut the binding after measuring yet another 3 times (6 in all), then remembered that I had ordered a super duper June Taylor Binding Buddy. I think I’ll wait for it to arrive and I shall have perfect mitred corners (for once).

Therefore I went to retrieve my William Morris fabric, but remembered that I had quite a stash of blue fabrics. Some are from a strip roll. I had already used a small amount to make a journal cover and a small bag a long time ago. For some reason there were a few strips of purple bungled in that did not go with the rest. So I was a few strips short. At the same time I had bought three blue/green fabrics and since the strip roll had also got a touch of green in it, I started cutting some strips from these. It was looking good, but needed extra oomph, so I caved in and ordered some fabric. I am supposed to be de-stashing but needs must. Since I was ordering, I ordered some colours for a new project. More about that later. I am now waiting on the fabrics to arrive. This blue one is a quick and easy quilt for beginners, part of a new course for quilters. You can see all the courses here including my fabulous patchwork and quilting ecourse.

What next I thought? What about that pile of fabric I had assembled for a possible patchwork-style jacket? Now dressmaking can still set my teeth on edge. I make mistakes. I hummed and ahhed for half an hour, then my angel said ‘Do it’. So I set about measuring and designing my pattern. I drew it up on tracing paper, good quality stuff that I can use again. I cut the fabric, pinned and tried it on. Fab. No adjustments needed. I sewed it on the machine with no problem. What a relief. I am now looking at the pieces for the actual jacket. The lining is pure cotton, such a lovely pattern. The outer will be cotton, silk, lace, maybe something else. It’s not going to be too patchy, a bit shabby chic.

I have also knitted, designed some new posters and cards, designed some new quilts, written up some tutorials and more, but I’ll leave that until next time, as this is enough to digest. Have a great creative weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017