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

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 1a

Sticking with the Creative Textile Blog, with some changes in the style of the blog itself. A very busy weekend. On Saturday I had a trip to Durham to see St. Cuthbert’s treasures, the new exhibition in the Cathedral. You are not allowed to take photos, so I cannot share anything. It is a small exhibition but wow. Glad I had seen the Cathedral before because when I came out of the exhibition, intending to walk round, they had cordoned it off for a service. I love Durham, such a great little city.

Sunday saw me crawling all over the floor trying to fit in the full-size quilt and finishing quilting the top. Hard to fit in the space and took lots of smoothing. The batting I was sold was really thin, she had showed it to me doubled up.  The finished look is not as quilted as I would have liked. I have stuck with stitch in the ditch because this large project is tough going on a domestic sewing machine. I arranged my strips  in groups of four and changed the arrangement each time. My ‘new’ addition was to insert a totally different material to split up the block strips. The block strips go from dark to light. I think it works fine. Just the binding to do now. Creative quilt ideas can be found in my new course online

I also gathered some materials for a patchwork jacket. I love the birds fabric for the lining. I seem to be all about neutrals at the moment. So this will be under way today. This week I shall be looking at starting my William Morris quilt. Making buttons for a few hand knitted cardigans. I’ll also be showing you what I got up to with my hot iron and textile experimental pieces. I am working on a new series of digital prints too, that I shall be sharing with you.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017


Beautiful Bonded Surfaces by Lynda Monk

Beautiful Bonded Surfaces by Lynda Monk, softback published by D4daisy. ISBN 9780957441347, price 14gbp available from www.d4daisy.com

Create dramatic surface effects with Tyvek by using a simple technique that leads to infinite variations. Lynda reveals the secrets of heat treatment techniques for textile artists using easily obtainable materials that are layered. The resulting pieces can be developed into stunning containers, bags, brooches or garments. Just one look at the jackets Lynda has created and I want to try the techniques for myself. Play and experiment are the two words that excite textile artists and there is a lot of both in this book. Create exciting surfaces with just three basic materials, add optional extras for a bit more fun and variation. Explore different ways of adding colour with spectacular results. Excellent instructions and wonderful photos throughout. These are techniques that you will use time and time again. This book includes ideas for using die-cutting, digital cutting machines and thermofax screens but nothing fancy is needed for the basic techniques, so the book can be used by any textile artist. Purchase the book and you are treated to the bonus of extra classes from the publishers’ website. A book full of wonderful things to look at, and to make with techniques that you can easily replicate.

Creative Textile Blog Week 52 Part 2

When I wrote part one on Monday, I thought of doing a retrospective of the year, as this is the last post in a year long creative textile blog. However, yesterday I managed to launch not one but two new ecourses. So I think that is celebration enough.

The courses are quilt design

and quilt block design

both courses run for an academic year and if you are quick, there is a discount on the full quilt design course until 1st September. It has taken a huge chunk of my year to write the ecourses and they are a wonderful addition to the other creative design distance learning ecourses I have already set up. I am looking forward to greeting everyone who signs up.

Apart from that I have continued knitting two sweaters. One in fine yarn, one in chunky, I am preferring the latter at the moment. Did I have time for anything else? Of course! I have started quilting the full-size quilt and I am very pleased with it. I have also started thinking about a patchwork jacket or two, maybe three if someone twists my arm.

So on Monday I plan to start a new blog, once or twice weekly again, and I guess it deserves a different name, not sure, might stick with this. Enjoy your creative weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017


Pioneer Quilts by LL and K Triplett

Pioneer Quilts by Lori Lee and Kay Triplett, softback published by C & T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454653, price 22.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

The authors are the proud owners of a large quilt collection from their pioneer grandmother. They are documenting their historic collection for all to see and enjoy. In this book, you will find 30 quilts from the famous Poos collection. These are photographed in detail. 5 projects give instruction for you to make a quilt from an antique design. The book begins with an introduction based on historical research and diaries from the 1800s about life on the Plains and migration west. There are superb reproductions of the quilts, each with a description. The 5 patterns have been re-created for the modern quilter and are suitable for the intermediate skill level. The large Delectable Mountains quilt is c. 1850, Wild Goose Chase from c. 1875, Cake Stand from c.1890, Red and white Nine Patch from c. 1870 and Double Four-Patch Crib Quilt from c. 1880. You’ll find everything you need to know to make these 5 wonderful quilts. They are not my favourites from the book however, but each of these quilts is a piece of history.

Guide to Cross Stitch by Jamie Chalmers

The Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch by Jamie Chalmers, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214243, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Cross stitch is extremely popular and it is great to see a book that takes it one step beyond twee craft. I think ‘cutting edge’ is a step too far in describing this book though. What we have here are some good designs using basic cross stitching techniques, not something pushing the boundaries. There are 20 projects and interviews with various designers. There are easy to follow charts for each project. Some projects use glow-in-the-dark thread, others plastic, which has all been done before. It’s a book striving to be modern, even mindfulness is thrown in. This book has a good introduction to basic materials and techniques with step by step guides. He says he used two types of thread, but I could not locate which type of thread the numbers referred to on the colour charts. I found the text a bit annoying. There are things that detract from the cross stitch, not least Mr X’s enormous ego. At the back of the book you are even treated to three pages of pics of Mr X. The projects come with a difficulty rating, fabric count, width, height, number of colours used and number of stitches. In the colour section is a flower based on a colour wheel, all you get is a chart. Next is a nice piece of typography in bargello-style cross-stitch. Different colours would make this beautiful project stand out more. The chart is slightly confusing with the colour code on every stitch on the graph, when it is worked in colour blocks, so this was unnecessary. The next project is obviously a gap filler, pot boiler. These ‘text’ projects are spattered throughout the book. Is there anyone who cannot cross stitch an alphabet and make their own text? Yet there are 5 out of 20 projects like this. There are 4 font alphabets given at the back of the book. Anyone with a computer has access to hundreds. Sqrl or even Squirrel is one of the best projects on the book in my opinion. There’s a step by step three quarter stitch demo. I was not sure why this was designated as a hard project, it is a simple enough design. One of the most appealing designs in the book is the Glow in the dark Empire State, although I would not personally choose to have it glow. The Vodkatonic pic is different to the colours on the chart, the latter seem to work better. The Middle Eastern design has been downloaded from the internet for a charity. There’s a Mona Lisa for those who like to copy famous artists. A section on computer design follows using computer software, a pineapple design is shown. This in various formats including an attempt at pop art that does not work, takes up one tenth of the book. Next up is Whitby Abbey at Sunset, which would be a more successful design as just a sunset as the black Abbey really does not cut it. There is a final chapter on stitching on plastic with a bracelet and a few other designs that would appeal to kids, rockets and so forth. For me this is a book with half a dozen or so good projects. It has been spun out into a book. It needed much stronger editorial guidance. The design team have done a fair job, but it is still not substantial nor original enough for me to recommend it as must-buy nor the be all and end all of cross stitch.

Decoupage Your Home by Fransie Snyman

Decoupage Your Home by Fransie Snyman, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215769, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

If you are used to thinking of decoupage as roses on a tray, think again. Decoupage goes modern and contemporary in this new book. No less than 50 projects with easy to follow, step-by-step photographs showing all the techniques. Change the look of an item completely and transform the everyday objects in your home. You can work on small or large projects. The book is ideal for the beginner, taking you from materials and tools to preparation, a combination of traditional and modern techniques, to finished project. Now I know what to do with my impulse buy of Mod Podge! Stunning projects include a suitcase ‘table’, furnishings, lamps, tins and so much more. This book was first published in South Africa. I loved it.

Creative Textile Blog Week 52 Part 1

There’s a little celebration going on as it is one year since I changed the blog to a twice weekly, Monday and Friday affair. It does not seem that long, but I shall have a retrospective on Friday.

Since I last posted last Friday, an unfinished quilt was aired. Saturday saw me squaring up the strips I had sewn – simple blocks interspersed with white cotton strips. Once squared up, I attached the fabric that makes this quilt that bit different. I had hummed and hawed over this for several years. At least it was not decades. In the end, I have decided it does work. There are many faults in this work, faults I would not make now I am more experienced. For a few seconds I thought of undoing it all and starting again, but I could not face that. So I am ploughing ahead, saying a prayer to the quilt god as I go.

Saturday also saw me undoing the whole back of an alpaca jumper I started some years ago and got disillusioned when I finished it and realised it was too small. (Why should I follow my own advice to do a tension square?) I started it all over again, the crinkled yarn will look ok once pressed.

Then I ventured into town and saw some yarn I could not resist – Sirdar Kiko at almost a quarter of the retail price. I could not resist the colour. Super Chunky, in contrast to my alpaca superfine 4 ply, this is knitting up in no time. What’s on the needles took 45 mins. All part of my new hand knitting course that I am finalising. Now I just need two pairs of hands to finish them both!

Sunday was spent on the coast and I was fortunate enough to enjoy sunny weather. Oh I do love to be beside the seaside. Have a wonderful creative week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Soutache by Donatella Ciotti

Soutache by Donatella Ciotti, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214809, price 9.99 available from www.searchpress.com

The sumptuous cover will inspire any craft lover and lure you to buy this book. However the cover piece is not included in the book. You will find a brilliant introduction to this exciting craft and much inspiration in the gallery too. There are step-by-step projects included in the book and when you have mastered them, I feel you should be able to create more complex pieces like the one on the front cover. This book was first printed and published in Italian. The book teaches everything you need to know about making and using cords, so it is highly suitable for anyone from beginner upwards. You can combine the cords with beads and all the techniques are included to make necklaces, bracelets, rings, headbands, hair combs and earrings. There is even a project for decorating a lampshade, and one for decorating hats. In the gallery you’ll see shoes, sandals and bags using these beautiful creations.  You’ll find much inspiration for this craft in the book.

Adventures in Hexagons by Emily Breclaw

Adventures in Hexagons by Emily Breclaw, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617452826, price 21.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

Read all about hexagons and the power of this 6-sided shape in quilt-making. You can use templates, precut papers or print shapes onto fabric. This book provides inspiration for using hexagons. Find out all about hexie block making, cutting, sewing, piecing and quilt making. Create tumbling blocks or stretch and skew that hexie to make beautiful quilts. My favourite is the baby heart quilt. Clear instructions with superb photos and colour line drawings. There is a short design primer at the back of the book and templates.

Creative Textile Blog Week 51 Part 1

I have been updating the website with new products, including the goddess dolls. I am hoping to reduce the number of items on there and the categories. I have also been expanding the range of finished art on my SAA page. Original art starts at just 10 pounds. I could do with a few views and likes of my paintings if anyone has a spare moment. I only realised yesterday that I can add digital art to that page.

As one project ends, another one starts. The question is what? I have so much writing to do with textile projects at the moment and have been concentrating on this – writing up new courses.

I did finish two knitting projects too. The shawl was knitted almost entirely in one day. I think I shall add a lace fringe as it is not quite as wide as I would like it to be, but no more stitches would fit on the needles and I dislike circular needles. The art deco style jumper I don’t actually like, oh well, it only took 65 hours at least!

I am still deleting photos and categorising all the photos into themes for future reference and work. Some new possibilities have occurred to me.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Quilted Holiday Tables

Quilted Holiday Tables, softback published by Annie’s Quilting. ISBN 9781590128466, price 10.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Discover 11 different ways to lay your table. Create a unique festive table for your guests. Festive fun includes ideas for runners, toppers and table mats. Change the fabrics and change the look. Inspiration for Christmas, fall and thanksgiving are included. Designs are included for all skill levels. You’ll see a full-sized colour photo, a colour line drawing and clear instructions to complete all projects. Tutorials are included on paper piecing, foundation piecing and raw-edge fusible applique. You’ll also find quilting basics at the back of the book. Full size templates are included on a pull out sheet on good quality paper. My favourite design is the partridge in a pear tree place mats on the front cover.

Heirloom Teddy Bears by Sue Quinn

How To Make Heirloom Teddy Bears by Sue Quinn, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782211433, price 16.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Who does not love a teddy? This is a comprehensive guide to making your own heirloom bears. Discover the tools and materials, know-how and techniques to get make your own bears. Full-sized templates are included for the step-by-step projects. See how to create features and clothing to give teddy some character. This book is full of inspiration. Care and repair are also included. Superb book for any bear fanatic.

Creative Textile Blog Week 50 Part 2

Yes, I did it. My cave painting themed work is coming to a close, culminating in the one day festival on 29th July 2017 at Creswell Crags. This week I have printed and quilted one of my digital prints taken from one of my large textiles.

I have also finished the goddess dolls and although I can see all their mistakes, I kind of love them though. I started making them a long long time ago, at least two years ago and I had problems cutting (as I did in those days), with the Sharpie pens bleeding, odd sized shoulders, hips that don;t match up, Bondaweb not gluing the fabrics well enough and more. No wonder they got shelved for months. I have learned so much. I still have more cut, but after this, I shall adjust the template I made and go on from there. I reckon these could be one of the lines I keep on making. I fancy doing different hairstyles.

All the quilt kits are ready including instructions. So I am all set to go. Now I fancy making something else for the festival, but it is time to stop. Looking forward to bringing all the work together in a new inspirational course, with work that has not been seen, that shows how-to techniques and sources of inspiration.

I have also nearly finished the new sweater – back, front and sleeves are done.

Also looking forward to starting a new project.

Have a lovely weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt

Creative Textile Blog Week 50 Part 1

Rather a wet weekend had me busy in the ‘studio’. My main occupation was painting as that will take the longest to dry for transporting to the Mother Grundy Festival.

So I set about finishing the long piece. It is still curling a little. I have fabric stiffener but I am not sure how it will react and also if I stiffen it, how to transport it. I have to think carefully how I am going to display this piece because there are no walls, I shall be in a Marquee for the event. It might be raining too, so protection must be provided whilst transporting from the loading area to the tent. I had imagined this piece at the back of one of the display tables. It needs some kind of stand. I had to photograph it in two sections. It would actually divide into 3 as a sort of triptych.

Then I went on to smaller projects, the cards, which were easy enough to paint, but I am having to weigh each one down with weights to get it to stick to the actual card. Next up I painted 6 wooden deer heads. The joys of being creative!

A little rest was in order, but I sat down to stitch in place the things that Wunder Under or Bondaweb had not done on the goddess dolls.

Then I had the idea to paint yet another large painting of the four horses. All painting now dry, charcoal fixed and ready to go. So what next? I dug out all my rust fabrics and I have an idea, if I can get stitching and no-one nor nothing gets in my way.

Here are a few of the print outs too, looking good. They are exact mirror images, it’s just the angle they were at for the photo. The squares one is a photo of my large textile, and I have printed it onto cotton to stitch. The images do not do them justice.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Week 49 Part 1

It has been a busy week. I thought I had finished my ‘cave painting’ work for the Mother Grundy Festival at Creswell Crags, but then I remembered the wooden blocks I was going to paint. Also on Monday I found some wooden beads in a shop in Bolsover. So I painted both and then did my charcoal ‘cave paintings’. Charcoal is a fickle medium to use over paint, it can slip or fail to make a mark. My animals are slightly quirky.

As the festival is on the 29th July, my final piece is a large-scale piece on canvas. Hoping to finish that this weekend. I am also working on a new digital design that I would love to find time to machine embellish (needle felting). The dolls also need finishing, I guess it will take the final week to pull it all together. I have just remembered the cards too. Then it is labels, logos and price tags. I shall take pics of the day. I have so enjoyed making all this work. The book will be finished soon too with new textile work, paintings, mixed media and more.

Otherwise, on the first sleeve of the Art Deco design cardigan. I had to join in another colour but I am pleased with my knitting.

I reviewed Ann Small’s ‘Layered Cloth’. I hope you have all bought it, it is a superb textile book. Full of wonderful colour and amazing work.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Paper Quilling by Elizabeth Moad

Paper Quilling by Elizabeth Moad, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214250, price 9.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Elizabeth’s second book on quilling and just as good as the first, for me these are some of the best books on quilling. Step-by-step techniques for 20 beautiful projects that you really will want to make. I like them all, but I love the Christmas trees and hearts, just superb. Motifs include flowers, balloons, hearts, owls and more to take this traditional craft into contemporary modern projects. You can make cards, decorated gift boxes, tags or wall art. Minimal equipment is needed and the projects are suitable for any level. Easy to follow instructions for great projects. Recommended.

Layered Cloth by Ann Small

Layered Cloth, The Art of Fabric Manipulation by Ann Small, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782213345, price 17.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Astounded by this book. Not sure where to start. From cover to finish it is simply marvellous. I find everything about it sheer joy. It defied my expectations completely. The level of work is amazing and not one page deviates from the high level Ann achieves. The work is rich, sumptuous and unusual. As a colourist, Ann is simply magnificent and like me, you will probably flick through this book just for the colours. The contents page does not conjure up what is in store: Inspiration and Design, Pushing The Boundaries, Three-Dimensional Applique, but the actual work will leave you gasping for breath. It is stunning. Layer, cut, fold back, stitch, insertions, edging, bindings, working with grids and so much more. You’ll see the methods, sources of inspiration, how to finish work. There are step-by-step projects so that you can familiarise yourself with the process. The trapunto section is wonderful and the book stacks and puffs work is equally engaging. I cannot recommend this book enough, it gives so much. I wish it were a hardback and I am certain that the publisher will be re-printing this within 6 months because everyone must have it. The Textile Artist series is a good series of books, this is the strongest title yet, it deserves a fanfare, it really is in a class all of its own. For textile and colour lovers everywhere. Recommendation? Absolutely, I’m telling you this is a MUST-HAVE.

Learn To Paint in Acrylics by MD Nelson

Learn To Paint in Acrylics With 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson. ISBN 9781782215684, price12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A unique course in acrylic painting. Anyone stuck with what to paint, how to paint or struggling with techniques, will find this book useful. Develop your skills and create on paper, board or canvas. Simple exercises help you grasp everything from colour mixing to subjects. Never be daunted by a blank canvas again. The book claims you can improve existing skills or start from scratch. I am not sure about that, this book contains very basic projects. Mostly flat areas of colour are applied, but the book also looks at contour. The only project I really like is Rooster but if it gets you painting, it is worthwhile, and with 50 choices, you will probably find projects you like. This book was previously published by Quarry.

Creative Textile Blog Week 48 Part 1

I had a lovely trip out on Saturday all by public transport, it can take a long time to go 12 miles 🙂 I visited Conisborough Castle near Doncaster, I have been several times over 30 years ago, but not since English Heritage built the small visitor centre. Trundled all the way to the top for fantastic views over the surrounding countryside. The inhabitants must have had stronger legs than mine. I am also usually terrified at the top of castles, but this one is not that open and seems very solid, nevertheless, I was not up there long. I decided to walk back into the village to see the church – what a surprise to see the wonderful stained glass in this very ancient church, thought to date from Ad 680.

Then I had to go back into Rotherham and take the bus to Maltby to get to my second location, Roche Abbey, a favourite of my father. Like me, he admired the peace and quiet of this lovely place. The bus ride seemed to take a lifetime and there is a 3 mile round trip walk from the bus stop and back.

So all day I was thinking of times past. Would I have wanted to live in medieval castle or be a monk in a Cistercian monastery? Probably not, although the ladies of the castle seemed to have lived like queens and the monks had their peaceful setting.

My work, however is much linked to the past, and although I am taking a long time with it, I am making progress with the textile books that reflect my historical interests. There are wonderful artefacts from this period.

Knitting is coming along, the first piece is done. I have been quilting too, but a bit annoyed that my brain and the sewing machine were not in tandem. I took the unfinished goddess dolls out of the drawer too, time to finish them.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Pattern Making Templates for Skirts & Dresses by A. Prier & L. Prier Tisdall

Pattern Making Templates for Skirts & Dresses by A. Prier & L. Prier Tisdall, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214366, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

A fabulous resource for a wide variety of designs. Clear, practical instructions guide the reader through everything they need to know to create patterns. I like most of the patterns and with this book it is easy to learn how to alter a pattern to create something new. The book covers dress and skirt styles with broad appeal. Clear instructions with line drawings and pattern pieces shown on a graph. There are 12 patterns and you can create over 40 garments with them. Fantastic for how to create and make a block and checking fit. I would make the pencil, godet semi-and full-circle, box pleat skirts, the pin-tuck, A-line, wrap, empire, maxi and gown dresses, probably with adaptations. I found some of the blocks a bit old-fashioned. I like the additions such as ruffles, pockets very good. However, the patterns are available in block templates that you download and print. You can print in A4 size, so imagine for a dress that is a lot of sheets that you then have to trace onto pattern making sheets or pattern graph paper or tile and cut your print-outs. This is a big turn-off for me. Why did the publisher not get all 12 patterns onto a pull out sheet? It’s a great pity because it ruins an otherwise excellent book.

Street Scenes in Watercolour by Grahame Booth

Street Scenes in Watercolour by Grahame Booth, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214151, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Part of a new Ready To Paint in 30 minutes series, this book gives a good guide to painting street scenes in watercolour. Quick and easy exercises teach you all there is to know about painting street scenes. Practice techniques and learn how to paint the different elements that make up a complete painting. The step-by-step projects are all worked at postcard size. There are also 3 larger paintings demonstrating all the techniques in larger paintings. The demonstrations and larger paintings are given as tracings. Excellent for beginners since you will gain experience and confidence with every step. Beautifully illustrated throughout.

Make Wall Quilts

Make Wall Quilts, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454011, price 10.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

A great compilation of designs previously published in different publications and now presented together in a new format. 11 takes on the wall quilt, designed by well-known quilt designers. These small mini quilts are quick to make. The 11 designs are varied with something to appeal to all. A variety of techniques are used such as different ways to applique, and block assembly. Some of them would translate very easily into larger designs. The finished quilts are of different sizes. Suitable for using scraps. Easy to follow and clear instructions illustrated in full colour throughout with line drawn templates included.

Creative Textile Blog Week 47 Part 1

I expected to be showing you quite different work today, but the day trip really did take its toll. I have had to postpone another trip until later in the year. So I have had to adjust to what I can do and not what I wanted to do.

I have been writing, but nothing finished yet, maybe Monday.

I have got quite a bit of knitting done but I shall wait until Monday to show you that, because it is mainly stocking stitch at this stage, in fact I have just got into the pattern, but not much to see. It will make more sense when it is finished and stitched together.

I wanted to paint, but I am waiting to order some more paints and fibre paste. So instead of that, I made sure everything was looking good for the Mother Grundy festival on 29 July at Creswell Crags, not long to go now.

I have decided to finish my fabric goddess dolls for the festival (started years ago), and I have a few bags to make and two more quilt ideas. If I don’t get that jewellery started, it won’t be finished in time. I concentrated on ammonites this week. Quite pleased with the results.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Knitted Cats & Dogs by Sue Stratford

Knitted Cats & Dogs by Sue Stratford, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215240, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com

For all knitters who love cats and dogs. A fun book with instructions for over 30 ‘pets’. From a ‘furry’ pooch to a ginger puss, I know many who will love this book. Well illustrated and easy to follow instructions. Contains kittens and pups, dogs and cats in all their glory. You can also dress your new friends. Also contains a techniques section.