I have been working on four new paintings, and I think they have come out well. I love the horse one best – that’s going to be hard to part with because it looks fantastic in my living room. I might go over the others with the carbon stick as the conte crayon blends in a little too well. I love making these, so it has been lots of fun. Thinking of making small ones too.
I also started something new, creating a textile painting from scraps of fabric. I have never done this before. I have already started painting it.
This weekend returned to the Cathedral Windows quilting and made two squares with a stag’s head. This might be a small purse or a larger project. Just pondering that one. You can learn this quilting technique with me in person or online wherever you are with my Cathedral Windows Quilting Course.
All this work has been created as part of my stall at the Creswell Crags Mother Grundy Festival on July 29th. Lots of my original art, textiles and jewellery will be on sale. Have a creative week everyone.
Wise Craft Quilts by Blair Stocker, hardback published by Roost Books. ISBN 9781611803488, price 25.00 available in the UK from www.roostbooks.com
Everything has a meaning. a reason and rhyme. This book is a treasure trove of sewing stories, quilting memories. It also provides practical information on quilt making. The patterns give the finished size, techniques, fabrics and materials, colour and design notes, preparation, cutting, layout, construction and finishing. The instructions are accompanied by photographs. I would have liked a few more photos or line drawings of the blocks or perhaps just larger photos in some instances. An appealing range of contemporary quilts that will help build skills.
RSN Raised Embroidery by Kelley Aldridge, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782211891, price 17.99 available from www.searchpress.com
This book, part of a RSN series on stitching provides a contemporary twist to traditional techniques. It offers technical expertise to all abilities beginning with basic techniques. Clear photographs and step-by-step instructions easily guide you through processes. A stitch guide is also included. Three projects highlight advanced techniques including wire shapes. Discover different techniques such as ways of creating a raised surface, couching, shisha and stitches such as knots. Create interesting projects like the felt bead necklace, brooch, needle case, phone case or an amazing biscornu piece and see a gallery of inspiring finished pieces. A fascinating book that will appeal to a broad range of embroiderers. Once you have mastered the techniques, your own limit is your own imagination.
Artful Log Cabin Quilts by Katie Pasquini Masopust, softback published by C & T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454509, price 19.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com
Katie is one of my favourite quilt authors. She has the most wonderful ideas. If you are thinking traditional log cabin quilts, think again. This book takes you from inspiration to a modern interpretation of log cabin quilts. Make free-form blocks from any image. Contents include history, inspiration, grids, fabrics, cutting, construction, quilting and finishing plus a gallery. There are lots of ideas for composition. The book has easy to follow instructions and is illustrated throughout with fabulous images of work. A simple design idea that works and will transform your quilting. It doesn’t, however make me think of log cabin quilts, but very very artful, yes. Great designs, great use of colour, fabric and stitch.
Simple Chic Crochet by Susan Ritchie & Karen Miller, softback published by Cico Books. ISBN 9781782494256, price 12.99 available from www.rylandpeters.com
A modern collection of simple to make crochet designs. 35 patterns for accessories, wearables and the home too. Easy projects in thick yarns to make in no time. Suitable for beginners. Textured stitches look complicated but are easy to achieve. Make cushions, throws or blankets for a cosy home or stylish clothes and scarves. I love the chunky sweater and the stylish shrug. Photographic how-to techniques are given at the back of the book. Practical and fun.
Seasons of Wool Applique Folk Art by Rebekah L Smith, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454806, price 24.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
Lovely designs, lovely stitching, good projects from cushions, notebook cover, pegbag, scissor holder to table runner, nothing too imaginative but all done to a good standard with pleasant motifs. One thing to remember is that wool comes in many colours and you can dye your own because the first thing that strikes me about this book is that it is brown. Rebekah has chosen a limited, muted palette. On the back cover two cushions are shown, one dull green with a brown squirrel, the other orange with a brown bird. Just think what a happier guy that squirrel would have been if he were rusty orange. All the projects can be seen at the beginning of the book, and there’s that overall brown-ness. As we are going through the seasons, you might imagine a palette of colour to match the seasons but that only seems to be evoked by a touch of orange in autumn. I like the pegbag, my mother used to have one, and if you adjust the pattern slightly, it could be any sort of bag you want. Some of the photos are a tad on the dark side. Each of the 12 projects is shown with details, introduced with a paragraph or two, and contain instructions to make the projects. There is a short guide to preparing wool and embroidery stitches at the back of the book. Included are 2 pages of pattern templates, these are double sided. I love the birds.
I have to confess that I have not been up to working. This morning I played with some photos and I thought you might like to see the results. They will form part of a theme I am working on, using photos, stitch and paint. I will be painting on canvas, printing on fabric and paper, quilting and stitching by hand and machine, using my drawings and photographs to inspire a range of new work. I used Photoshop. You can join one of my online Photoshop courses or take a course in person in Sheffield. I will show you how to create fabulous art and textiles from your own photos. Tap into your creativity.
Stash Busting Quilts published by Annie’s Quilting. ISBN 9781590128121, price 9.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
Use your stash and scraps in 9 styles that look anything but scrappy quilts. Make the most of small pieces of fabric to create a design that works for you. Made with scraps, designed with love. Designs range from beginner to intermediate. All the quilt designs use the block method of construction. Most of the designs are for full-size quilts, but could easily be adapted to smaller sizes and there are two table runners. Quilting basics are given at the back of the book. Very good projects.
Stitched Shibori by Jane Callender, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782211419, price 19.99 available from www.searchpress.com
A comprehensive resource for shibori. The book is divided into three sections: Techniques, Pattern and Dyeing with how-to instructions and photographs. To my knowledge this is the most comprehensive book on shibori. Develop motifs for unique textiles. Indigo recipes and ones for other dyes too, ensure a range a colours. Suitable for the beginner with challenges for every level. Illustrated throughout with some of the most remarkable examples of shibori outside Japan. Learn about shibori tradition, preparation, process, pattern, folds and more. Mogume is my favourite technique. I found June’s work years ago, and my jaw still drops at her amazing achievements. I just want to work through this book from beginning to end and over and over again. Absolutely essential for anyone interested in dyeing, stitching and shibori. Simply wonderful, demonstrating the true art of shibori.
David Bellamy’s Arctic Light, hardback published by Search Press. ISBN 978-1782214236, price 25.00, available from www.searchpress.com
I have always liked David Bellamy’s paintings, so when this came I was so excited. It exceeds my expectations, this is a book I love. Subtitled ‘An artist’s journey in a frozen wilderness’, the book is just that. David’s palette suits this subject perfectly. He makes full use of all his incredible skills to portray the glaciers, people and animals of the region. The text is David’s reactions to the landscape, the eeriness, the natural dangers – you almost feel as if you are standing beside him. It is an artist’s journal of a remarkable journey, with insight into this incredible world and its natural landscape with nesting villages or vast glaciers. Sketches, paintings, observations and travels all rolled into one. This book captures the essence of the Arctic perfectly. Illustrated throughout with fabulous watercolour paintings. Beautifully put together in a book that captivates the eye and and entertains the mind. Highly recommended.
I am finishing off quilted work for my stall at Creswell Crags end of July. So I have stitched my first Ice piece made with my own photos, printed onto cotton and stitched. Still finding free motion quilting scary, but hey if I can do it, so can anyone.
Then it was back to the quilted panels that were waiting for backing and binding. I had cut my strips. First of all I made a hand written label. Attached it and started attaching my binding. I think I would hang these on little hidden rings. These will be my first quilting kits. There are four altogether.
Almost at the armholes on the back of that new knitted jumper too.
Now for the rest of the week, I have lots of paintings to finish for the stall. I also have a roll of canvas for painting – some long pieces coming up and perhaps some 3-D pieces too. Very excited with the ideas buzzing around my head.
Getting somewhere after a week of no stitching. I laid out the tea-dyed fabric to cut it and then realised I had not bought any binding. Put it all away, then realised I was cutting my own binding from the tea-dyed fabric!
A few days later, I have it all cut out. All ready to be stitched now. I also stitched my first ice quilt. Choosing colours and with the first stitches in place, it’s looking good. Quilt kits will be available.
My lace cardigan is finished and I have started a new jumper.
Not bad to say I have felt under par again healthwise.
How To Paint Flowers & Plants in Watercolour by Janet Whittle. ISBN 9781782214182, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com
If you love painting flowers, you’ll love this book full of vibrant watercolours. Clear step-by-step instructions show Janet’s love of flowers and her ability to capture their very essence. Find exercises and projects to help you paint some of the best-loved flowers such as clematis and poppies and build your flower-painting skills at the same time. Find Janet’s palette, tips and many examples of fantastic finished paintings throughout the book. Learn all you need to know about flower painting. This book was previously published as Painting Flowers and Plants.
Vintage Cake Decorations Made Easy by Christina Ludlam. ISBN9781782213789, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com
Make vintage style cake decorations – using moulds and mats you can make buttons, bows and more to give your cakes vintage style. The effects look elaborate but are easy to achieve. Step-by-step photos guide you through the instructions. 9 designs are included plus cake recipes, fillings and icings. Cupcakes, birthday cakes, christmas cake, couture dress and the piece de resistance wedding cake. Photography is slightly dull – there is no excuse for this – images needed to be brightened. A very sweet sugarcraft book with good designs.
Mittens From Norway by Nina Granlund Saether, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215400, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com
If you love traditional patterns you will love this book. Who does not like mittens? They are also a relatively quick knit for gifts. The 40 patterns have been inspired by 400 years of Scandinavian knitting. Many recognisable patterns such as typical snowflakes are included but there are more unusual patterns too. This makes a treasury of patterns for the modern knitter from traditional sources. You’ll find knitting tips at the front of the book. Each pattern has an introduction placing it in an historical context. There are several photos for each mitten, including an historical one and at least one large photo of the mitten you will knit. The charts are of good size and easy to use. The patterns are given for women and men, the charts remain the same, you adjust the size by changing the gauge – some knitters will have problems with this. Some patterns are for children. Needle sizes are given in US not UK. The mittens are knitted using 5 double pointed needles. The yarns are Scandinavian, some are available in the UK, or substitute and check your gauge. I love the snowflake, rose and heart designs and the cabled Vestfold mittens with their large cuff are gorgeous and the Selbu patterns are a favourite. You’ll also find plain, one colour patterned and ribbed mittens. There is almost a pattern a week if you knit them all.
Knit Yourself Calm by Lynne Rowe & Betsan Corkhill, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214939, price 9.99 available from www.searchpress.com
This book was borne out of a survey into the benefits of knitting undertaken in 2013 and reported in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy. It is said that knitting is relaxing and helps reduce or manage stress. I would agree with that as a lifelong knitter, apart from the times when I make a mistake and hate knitting with a vengeance. A rare occurrence as it happens. This book includes 16 projects designed by Lynne Rowe and wellbeing expert Betsan Corkhill. Simple and quick projects help you to familiarise yourself with the joys of knitting. There are group projects, portable ones and larger projects. The projects don’t just go for basic garter stitch, they introduce pattern too. There are the standard hats and scarves but also washcloths, socks, a huggable teddy, blankets, bunting, shawl, bag, purse, mitts, hot water bottle cover, a teacosy and mug warmers. Please note the socks use 5 needles and the hat is knitted on circular needles – this for me is the most stressful kind of knitting. Socks can be knitted on two needles. Basic knitting instructions are given at the back of the book with step-by-step clear photos. The book takes you from basic knitting – garter, rib, two-row patterns up to chevrons, cables and intarsia. A good balance of projects and a great starter knitting book. Just knit and feel the benefits – there is no real information on the therapy side.
Saturday was a recovery day from the trip to Cleethorpes, but I had some good ideas, mainly for the Mother Grundy festival, Cresswell Crags, where I have a stall on 29th July 2017 and I will be showing themed work inspired by cave paintings.
Many years ago I created a textile wall, but I never felt it was finished and was unsure what to do with it. I had the idea to add some deer as if it were one of the cave paintings. I like it now. I have taken images to turn into cards too, so there will be something in all price ranges.
Talking about those cave paintings, I put the first layer of paint on the new large canvas. It is looking good. The first coat is finished. I love the way the paint settles into the creases.
Lots more coming to fruition. I had a good search through my work and found lots to take to the festival. Got some more deer stuff on the go too. Not much more to do to it now.
I am just finishing the bands on my new lace cardigan. My day in Cleethorpes was so inspiring, the colours in the sand were tremendous. I feel some paintings coming on. I have also been looking at birds and wildlife on the River Don. Lots of inspiration for future projects.
Girl With a Sewing Machine by Jenniffer Taylor, softback, published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214564, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com
Created for the upsurge in the interest in sewing, Jenniffer appeared on the Great British Sewing Bee. She is into upcycling, creating new outfits from things you no longer wear and also embellishing existing clothes. Contents include Getting Started, Customising Clothes and Making Clothes From Scratch. There are some good tips and clear how-to photograph sections. You might even like some of the projects – to be honest I only liked two and I doubt I would make those. There are some huge sewing mistakes in this book – the most glaring is the darts in the wrong place and seams not aligned properly so part of a colour shows on one side and not on the other, zip not aligned properly on the skirt. I too am self-taught but I would not make these mistakes, especially not for a book. I am not too sure either on the method of measurement, a better bet is to measure all round and add extra for ease of movement depending on the fit you want. This book uses other methods. I would have liked to have seen more photos of the details of the clothes, some photos are repeated, which is unnecessary. This book needed a firmer editorial hand to eliminate the errors and make it more useful. It could appeal to absolute beginners but there are plenty of other books that will teach you without the mistakes. Very basic patterning skills with little style.
I plunged in (after 24 hours deliberation) to the applique panels and I am so happy with them. I made them quite simple but I think they are effective. Not perfect stitching, but I think that adds to the handmade look. I like the autumn one best.
The weather has been wonderful and I have enjoyed watching the sky and the changes in light. My panels represent four seasons. The kits will be available in the shop from this weekend and these panels are going to Mother Grundy’s Festival at Cresswell Crags, where I shall be having a trade stand. If you want these fabrics hurry – because I only have 3 kits of each. Also available as a step-by-step tutorial without any fabrics, when I write it up – it will be a busy weekend.
I have been working on other things for the festival such as paintings, cards and prints, so it has been a very interesting week. Here’s one of the cave painting cards. The large painting I am working on has several layers to create a rock face. New projects coming…what shall I do?
More Traditional Dutch Ganseys by Stella Ruhe, hardback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215080, price 19.99 available from www.searchpress.com
A second book with more old photos and 65 classic gansey sweater designs from 55 fishing villages where Dutch fishermen originally wore these sweaters with their typical patterning. These contemporary recreations keep the historically important patterns alive. Each pattern includes diagrams, sketches and photographs plus guidance on sizing. This book is not only suitable for knitters but also includes information on the nautical culture and heritage of the Netherlands, totalling over 40 pages. There is also interesting information on wool, needles and tools, motif and pattern – there’s enough to start you off designing your own sweaters if you wish. We then travel around the coast of Holland, from fishing village to fishing village and from each we have the gansey patterns. You see an old photo of the typical gansey and Ruhe’s interpretation , plus a clear line drawing and a knitting chart. The chart is small, the photo of the new sweater is often not big enough or light enough to show any detail, however some designs have a full-sized image. The measurements are very good – with 9 body measurements given. You may not be able to obtain the yarn, but the gauge is given. Some brands are online, but I could not find the names of some of the yarns given. The designs use circular needles as in the traditional method for gansey knitting. The patterns follow a general design, the instructions being given at the beginning of the pattern section. So the charts just show the repeat design and not the whole sweater design. Although traditionally worn by fishermen, these sweaters are unisex, and you will find some designed for women in the book. I would have liked to have seen clearer photos of the new ganseys with larger charts. However, this is a book I am sure all knitters will enjoy if they have the slightest interest in ganseys and I know I will treasure it, so I have kept this as a 5 star review because of its importance for the history of knitwear and the wonderful designs. Recommended. It’s time there was a real gansey revival. This book was first published in Dutch in 2015.
The rest of Friday I spent stitching. Then needing to rest my hand a little, I decided to hand dye some fabric. This is for the top panels of the quilted wall hangings to make each one individual. I lugged out the big bucket and started making tea with cheap teabags I keep for the purpose. I had forgotten what it was like to manipulate wet fabric. I was dyeing a batch, enough to bind and back my four wall hangings and enough for 9 kits. It is so sad that I find it so hard to dye because it is something I really love. The larger piece, not photographed is much better in colour. I like the delicacy of the smaller piece (photo below) but it looks nothing like the pic!
Searching for fabrics before I settled on tea-dyed, I found a few things that were missing. My Olfa rotary cutter was hiding in the box of orange threads, cocooned in colour. I also found my procion dyes and I might hand dye some small pieces. I did not, however find my tree stencil, but I have decided to applique all four panels because it makes it easier for the kits.
During the rest of the weekend I finished off all the quilted wallhangings, so next week is applique week. Did I mention I have never appliqued anything in my life? I am however, familiar with several ways of doing it. I think I shall do fusible, but with 4 panels to make, it would not surprise me if I try out 4 techniques.
There was a bit of knitting and of course, some digital play too. All in all a very wonderful creative weekend. Looking forward to this week.
Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017.
Oaxaca Stories in Cloth by E S Mindling, softback published by Thrums in USA. ISBN 9780983886082, price 26.99, available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com
A wonderful story documenting the textile traditions of the people of Oaxaca. A story of Mexican artisans whose weavings carry forth their traditions. A symbol of times past in the present. Fantastic photos. I don’t know what the editorial team were thinking when they chose the front cover, it does not show the beautiful images in this book. It is repeated inside and has more of a glow. Mindling has mapped the villages of Oaxaca and their wonderful traditions for all to see. Looms, tradition, symbol and pattern are part of these people – a heritage we should all treasure. Personally I would have liked to see more of the weavings, dyeing process and natural materials than the photographic portraits, but I did enjoy this book.
The week has whizzed by in a flurry of stitching and digital art. My work has a dual purpose, or even triple. It is a project I started in 2014, yes 3 years ago. I started the first of my inspiration series for textiles and art on a theme. So I am finishing this and it will be available online shortly, but there has been a lot of work to produce for it. I am also willing to teach classes on the themes too and it has led to the creation of the online themed prompts with tuition and guidance that will start in September (still got to upload this, said it would go up Monday, just forgot – a job for the weekend). Thirdly, the work will be exhibited at a local festival as it fits in with their theme if I get selected.
I hand quilted all 9 strips of one of the quilted wall hangings, and now just have to do the top panel. I know what I want to do, I am going to applique, I just need to find fabrics first. I must also find backing material, I might use my tea-dyed – it is difficult when there are so many colours in these quilted hangings.
I am slowly knitting up the second sleeve on the lace cardigan – not knitting as much seems to have helped my arm.
Also for my themed work and hopefully for the festival, I am creating several prints of my digital art. I have also stitched two pieces printed from my computer. So it is all coming together. I have also started a large painting, using an old canvas I did not like. Very happy with work at the moment.
Don;t forget to visit the website for all my work on sale, supplies and more.
Hardly know where to begin today, I have created so much work this weekend. So, I’ll start at the beginning.
Most of the work has been quilting related. I finished a binding on a small quilted wall hanging. Then I created and designed 4 new quilted wall hangings. One is cut and the strips joined and I have started the free motion quilting. Can’t wait to get them all finished. I am planning something different for each one. These will be available as limited edition kits. Limited because I bought the fabric ages ago and it is no longer available. When these are sold, I shall make the kits with my own fabrics.
I am painting too, nothing to show yet, but underway. Drawing as well. The fimo has also come out and I shall be making brand new pieces – not sure if they will be jewellery yet or something else. I also printed out two digital quilts I designed, so excited about these, they look great – these two were designed in 2014 and have sat there waiting for me to decide I can afford to print them out. I also designed several new ones – probably a dozen or more. I am deciding which ones to keep and which to perhaps discard. It is so wonderful when everything comes together. The whole house is like a studio!
I am up to the armhole on the first sleeve on that new lace cardigan too, although this has seemed slow-going this week.
My mind is buzzing with so many ideas. I think I had enough ideas this weekend to last the rest of the year. I am also re-visiting an old theme of mine. Two projects I was a bit unhappy with, I now know what to do with them too. So it was a very creative and productive weekend. I am looking very forward to the next few weeks.
Sew Small by Jennifer Heynen, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 9781617454332, price 19.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com
19 little bags to organize your life. From make-up to money, brushes and charge holders and more. Being organized need not be boring – take a look at the fun wallets, bags and purses. What could be cuter than the whale coin purse or the birdcage bag. Or the fab drawstring birdhouse bag. For UK readers, the earbud bag is not for cotton earbuds but for earphones. These tiny treasures are ideal to carry your essentials. You can use small scraps to create useful gifts. Book contents include fabrics, threads and trims, embellishments plus 19 great projects. Instructions include a full-size colour photo of the finished item, materials, cutting and written instructions with colour line drawings. Measurements for cutting fabrics are given and there is a pull out template section included. I enjoyed this book. Includes patterns I have not seen elsewhere.
This has been a very interesting week work-wise. On Monday I told you all about the new courses I had planned and the monthly inspiration ecourse is already open to sign up, the ecourse actually starts in September.
I have written the description for the digital quilt block design course and this is almost ready to upload, that will go live on Monday.
The creative design course should also be live by next Friday, so that is all looking so good.
I have had a wonderful time creating two more wall hangings and this is another course waiting to be uploaded, I just have to add more images to the gallery and I’m there.
I have one more course to upload, and I guess I still ought to offer the beginner knitting classes too and I think that will see me kept busy for a while.
As if that is not enough, I had a walk round a part of Sheffield I did not know and discovered some wonderful things. Is there anything in your city that you don’t know about? There is always so much to discover. New buildings, old buildings, stone, a steel bridge over the river, yes I walked on it! Of course, a crane, there is always a crane or three. If you are thinking I could not make anything creative with those pics, I didn’t do too bad creating two layered images. Watch out for a series of inspiration books coming shortly for textiles and art.
I was just getting going when a spasm in my neck and shoulders intervened, hence not much work finished, but I have done what I can.
So today, instead of the usual blog, I want to share with you my idea for a creative group. There will be a charge as this is my livelihood, but it will be well worth your while. I aim to launch shortly, to give people the chance to join and we shall all start in September. It started life as one idea, but as is my wont, ended up with 3.
creative themed posts monthly with resources and guidance, tutor input to help creative people develop their work
a block of the month for quilters – but something entirely different
a creative course, styled on the sort of art course in higher education but with the awful bits (essay writing) taken out and of course not with educational establishment fees of 3,000 a year.
What’s it all about? It’s about finding your voice. Pushing the boundaries. Taking your creativity to the next level. Inspiration. Never face another creative block – release that inner artist.
For all groups, the posts will take place monthly, but there will be different creative tasks for you to tackle weekly if you want. There will be a fb group page where you can share ideas and post your work. The work will be structured in such a way that you can dip in and out. We’ll cover drawings, paintings, and digital options and you can choose the bits you want to do. I’ll share how I work. I’ll be giving unique tips to encourage and bring out your artistic potential and showing how to lift your work out of the ordinary. Rather than just offering a starting point, the group will work towards developing work and creating finished pieces.
I hope you will join me on this creative journey. I am planning to launch sign ups on Friday.
Learn to Paint in Watercolour Step by Step by William Newton, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215233, price 12.99 available from www.searchpress.com
Develop your watercolour painting skills. William paints traditional watercolours, carefully composed and realistic. There are 6 step-by-step projects and numerous examples of finished paintings to inspire you. Projects include architecture, landscapes, still life and portraiture. Sections include materials, colour, techniques, perspective and more. The colour reproduction looks a bit down, not as bright as it perhaps should be, but not enough to detract from using the book. This book was previously published as a Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting as recently as 2013. If you don’t have that, it makes a superb guide to mastering watercolour with a variety of subjects to paint.
How did we get to Friday? I really don’t know where that week went. I am at the armhole of the second front of my new lace cardigan, so that is coming along – dreaded sleeves next. I am a third to half way on the second quilted wallhanging, so again some work was done here too but not as much as I imagined, I thought it would be finished.
I have found this quilt more difficult, just me trying to do things I am not ready for. The shuttle ran out and I had had enough for one day. A little more quilting to do on the paisley piece and I am not really happy with my free-motion stitching on the peacock feathers – it takes so much concentration and the edges of the pattern are not very defined, making it hard to see where I am going. I think a transparent foot might have helped as I was often unable to see where I was stitching. More to add to it yet.
I had overdone it with a very long walk this week and then ended up with back and neck problems.
So Thursday afternoon, I succumbed to some digital work on the photo my quilt, which I am pleased with and made me feel like I can accomplish things! Some great ideas for quilting in a series. This is all coming up in a tutorial shortly. I created a couple of digital pieces from a Star Wars image of mine too since it was Star Wars Day. I also did some work on faces, I will show in the next blog.
Enjoyed my quilted wall hanging so much that I started another. Finding free-motion still a challenge, but getting easier. On my sewing machine there is no need to drop feed dogs or have a special foot or hoop. It took a bit of getting used to. I have to be super-relaxed and wide awake! Zooming up the first front of the lace cardigan on No 10 needles! This I can do in my sleep.
Joy this weekend was visiting the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley to see the Picasso lithographs. The exhibition has finished now, I visited on the last day. Sweet little gallery. Coming in the back entrance, the first thing that greeted me was one of Velazquez’s painting. You see having a degree in Spanish does come in useful at times. Picasso’s lithographs were on loan from the British Museum, and there was a short video of how he worked. Unlike most lithographers, Picasso used one lino plate, making further carvings to introduce more colour. He made them when in his 80s, so maybe I still have 20-odd years of artistic work in me! Spanish music playing in the gallery too.
Words copyright Karen Platt 2017 obviously the work is copyright Picasso.
Visual Guide To Free-Motion Quilting by Natalia Bonner, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 9781617455063, price 19.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com
Natalia Bonner knows a thing or two about free-motion quilting, already having two best-sellers behind her. In this book she provides clear step-by-step instructions for feather free-motion quilting for both domestic and longarm quilters. Today’s contemporary quilts are often finished with modern free-motion techniques instead of traditional techniques. This book provides 68 block and border designs. Starting with single feather techniques, the book moves on to more complicated designs. Clear line drawings show how to stitch three types of feather. Then each of the 68 designs are shown with line drawings on top of a quilt and directional arrows. Superb book – I can’t fault it and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to master feathers.
Yes, finished a quilted wallhanging, and I am happy with it. Now, of course, I am going to make an even better one! I am also almost finished writing up the tutorial, so that’s something else coming to fruition. And that is what this year is about. I also had a little digital play with my quilt.
It’s not the only sewing project finished either, the latest Cathedral window project is finished too. A small one next and then my largest project ever.
I have already nearly finished the back of the new lace cardigan even though it is on tiny needles, so again looking good.
Still did not get much painting done, but I am only one woman, not ten!
Sadly the publishers who kept my plant book ‘Black Magic’ for ten months saying they were going to publish a new version have now sent it back saying that sales are gardening books are down. A bit gutted, but I’ll try to find another publisher.
Another tough week health-wise and I did not get things completed. So hoping for catching up time.
I did start another new cardigan, after 3 attempts I settled into a new lace pattern. At first I did not want to use the 4ply wool singly, it is more like 3 ply. So I was knitting two together, and although I liked it, it was not going to suit the lace pattern. Then I started a lace pattern but the instructions did not work, so it was third time lucky.
I am trying out a new shape with the Cathedral windows too. Don’t forget there is a face to face and also an online course for this. Come and learn a new skill.
I have definitely devised something that I have not seen anyone else do digitally, so that is all very exciting, just wondering how best to make it work for me.
Getting through another grotty week health-wise, weather-wise and politically. Happily this morning things came together work-wise and I do feel I am on the edge of a creative breakthrough. Wonderful things are happening.
I am creating a new lace cardigan. It’s in 4ply which feels more like 3ply, and on No 10s so will take some time, but I am enjoying it immensely. It’s a very satisfying pattern I have created that produces a wonderful lace effect without too much thought. A simple one row pattern that repeats and shifts.
The Cathedral Windows has taken a new slant too, and the work is progressing nicely.
The real breakthrough is coming with designing my quilts and I hope to share the technique in an online tutorial, face to face workshops shortly. Very happy with how this is turning out. Think it might be time to find somewhere to exhibit too.
Charm School by Vanessa Goertzen, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 9781617452710, price 18.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com
Using 5 x 5 inch squares known as charm packs, this book brings you 18 fab designs to quilt. Each design is beginner friendly. You can buy pre-cuts or cut your own squares. You can alter squares too. Fantastic blocks bridge the gap between traditional piecing and modern designs. Contents include fabric selection, tools, supplies and before you begin plus finishing at the end of the book. The designs include blocks made with squares, rectangles, easy corner triangles, half-square triangles, quarter square triangles and wonky designs. For each design you’ll see materials, cutting, construction with diagrams and good photos. An excellent way to begin quilting or to use charm packs.
What a bumper creative weekend I have had. It has been a design out of the box weekend with digital work for print and fabric, a new idea developing for the Cathedral Windows. The cardigan is finished, just someone please tell me where I have put my darning needle that I use for sewing up. So annoying. Another new knitting design begun.
The challenge next week is to get it all published and on the website.
I have found it difficult with health issues to do much for long and I felt at a loss yesterday afternoon. I got my red journal out – a work in progress, where I had gathered all the red papers. I found a lovely heart paper for the cover and I am going to stitch the inners and cover together. However I thought it needed a few more papers (as you do when reducing your paper mountain). I had a look for red photos and that set me off on digital design. 23 new designs later, I took a break 🙂 These can be printed on paper or fabric and will be on offer in the online shop
It isn’t the only digital design I did this weekend either. I am also well on my way to something new in the quilt world. More about that later. Here are some interesting paint-like effects I achieved.
However, all in all after feeling I had not achieved much for a few days, I finished with a fireworks display of work in a breakthrough moment on several levels. Have a lovely week, see you on Friday.
Wen Redmond’s Digital Fiber Art, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617452697, price 21.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com
Use mixed-media and fabrics to print your images. Inkjet print on a variety of fabrics. This interesting book is mainly concerned with how to print on different fabrics and all that entails. Pre-coats and applying finishes after printing. It’s essentially about paint techniques applied to digital images and printed on several substrates. There is a little about manipulating photos but not a lot, you will see examples but essentially this book is for those who have already got to grips with creating digital imagery and want to print it. There is a basic section on editing photos using software and Apps and some basic ideas for backgrounds. You are shown what has been done, not how to do it, even when labelled Process, the instructions are not comprehensive. This is fine for experienced users of Photoshop but for anyone else you might still be left guessing. The pre-coats, substrates, after effects sections are very good and form the largest part of the book and in my opinion, this is the only reason for buying this book. If you are interested in trying pastes, gels, and so in, this book will be for you. It’s very good for experimentation. However, if you are the experimenting kind, you might have tried most of this already. Personally I find my work and printer print as I want without expensive aids, it depends what you are printing on and what printer you are using as well as the ultimate effect and use of your print. There is no doubt that Wen’s work is wonderful and that she creates incredible art. As an experienced digital artist and teacher, I found the instructions lacking. It does not give enough information for the beginner, and as an experienced artist I struggled to find the new approaches promised. Many would not want to subject a new printer to different substrates that can jam, so if you do wish to experiment, use an old printer. Nicely laid out and well-illustrated.
Rainbow Quilts For Scrap Lovers by Judy Gauthier, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454615, price 19.99, available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com
Bright and cheerful ways to use up your scraps to make beautiful quilts. 12 projects from easy squares make sensational quilts. Contents include using scraps; organize your scraps, fabrics, half-square triangles, notes and lovable projects. Sometimes scrap quilts can look like fabrics are fighting one another, but with Judy’s eye for colour and good design sense, her quilts are harmonious. Find colourful ways to use up all your scraps, no matter what odd shape. May your scrap bag be forever empty. Recommended.
Improv Paper Piecing by Amy Friend, softback published by Lucky Spool Media. ISBN 9781940655239, price 24.99, available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com
How do you create impact in a simple way? Paper piecing is a traditional quilting method whilst improvisational paper piecing takes that idea and turns it modern. You can now simply create one of a kind blocks to design your own quilts with stunning effects. This book shows exercises to explore scale, symmetry and grids to create contemporary quilts. An approach to design that will work for most producing repeatable patterns by thinking of the secondary shapes created by block design. It’s a bit like drawing negative space instead of the object itself. The exercises are very good and Amy walks you through the whole process. An excellent book for those who love to play with design. Fabric selection, design ideas and templates are all included.
Health has been a struggle this week, but I have not given in. Several things on the go as usual, though I am much slower and limited on how much I can do at once. Rest evades me.
On Monday, I talked of making art journals. All the papers are sorted into colour, however on Tuesday I realised I could not stand all the papers on the table for weeks, so they got moved back to where they came from out of sight. I started making the red journal but I need to get it out and finish it as well as take photos.
I am on the button band of the new cardigan, so that is nearing completion. Knitting seems to be a bit challenging at the moment, especially large projects that are heavy on the needles. I just do not seem to have the strength in my right arm.
I started a new Cathedral Windows project – I am trying to make something different with it.
I had a little play in Photoshop too, deconstructing images. I wonder if anyone can guess what the two photos were?
And if you missed them, 3 new online courses for quilting went into the shop
What a weekend. I had plans to stitch, knit and write and then I thought of art journals and all the paper I had saved, some old envelopes but much of it bought to ‘use one day’ just because I liked it.
I started gathering, as you can see there is a lot of it. It’s not all shown on the photos, I found more, including ‘Inspire Me’ papers I had once reviewed. So far I have put together coloured papers, a total of 17 journals so far. There may be more. I have not even looked at the spare envelopes and odd bits yet. Nor at the rolls of gift wrap type paper that I sometimes cannot resist.
I thought it was only wool and threads I collected. I am quite astonished at the amount of paper. Some of it dates back to the 1990s, and the stickers are from Seattle in 2000/1. It might be paper, but it’s still all about colour and pattern. I seem to have every colour. However, I shall now enjoy using it all for art journals. Some ideas spring instantly to mind, like the Paris gift wrap for a French journal, but others I shall have to ponder on. Some will be for sketching. I have a whole pack of Japanese art paper given to me by someone who no longer wanted it. Plenty of thicker card for covers too and I shall be making use of the papers I have created from brown paper bags and crayons, ink and markal sticks as well as bought handmade papers. Binding will be fun. I might find some paper to make concertina books ad more.
I did do some stitching and knitting (although yesterday’s knitting was partly undone not once but three times – increasing on a diagonal lace pattern), and I did finish the new ecourse, which will launch tomorrow – finding the file at one point took 2 hours, a case of ecourse lost and found!
Beautiful Blankets, Afghans and Throws by Leonie Morgan, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215431, price 10.99 available from www.searchpress.com
Featuring stitch patterns and blocks, this book contains ideas to thrill any crochet lover. 40 afghan designs have clear instructions, both written and as charts with skill level guidance and good photos. 12 edgings mean you can mix and match. The colourful designs are given in three sizes with the amounts of yarn needed. A technique section brushes up your crochet skills and there’s advice on colour combinations too. A superb crochet book for all crocheters and newcomers to the world of crochet will find a reason, or 40 or so to begin with. Enough inspiration to get you hooked.
Arne & Carlos Field Guide to Knitted Birds, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215394, price 14.99, available from www.searchpress.com
A book to make anyone smile, knitter or not. These imaginative little birds are fun to look at and knit. Inspired by real-life birds, but these birds are not replicas of the real thing and are not attempting to be, they are flights of imagination and fantasy. The birds are embellished, some with Norwegian and Mexican motifs, some are embroidered, others are decorated with ‘feathers’ and sequins. They have even invented a stand with legs, twig branches or a curiosity cabinet to show your birds off. I defy anyone to choose just one favourite, they are all so adorable, you will want to knit them again and again and again. Introduce new yarns, colours and keep on knitting. You’ll feel chirpy in no time. Clear instructions, diagrams and great photography from the duo with so much creative imagination.
Wonderful One-Patch Quilts by Sara Nephew & Marci Baker, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617454677, price 21.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com
New angles on classic quilt designs. Simple patterns and sewing that beginners can do. Strip-piece or strip-cut. Full-size templates and great colour make eye-catching quilts. It all looks so complicated, the kind of complex quilts beginners yearn to make. This book makes it all so achievable. It includes the example of tradition with a new process, classic design, fabrics, tools, basics. There are then 20 projects using triangles, half-hexagons, diamonds and more. Great instructions, diagrams and photos are included plus lots of tips on cutting and templates are at the back of the book. I love the Thousand Pyramids, Fantasy and Reflections designs.
Bird Art by Alan Woollett, published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782212966, price 17.99 available from www.searchpress.com
In Bird Art Alan Woollett shows us how to create stunning bird portraits using graphite and coloured pencils. From conception to finished painting, Alan explains how to use sketchbooks and camera to produce reference material, how to use materials and techniques to create those all-important textures of feather and beak, and how to set the subject within an appropriate context. Step-by-step demonstrations are included to get you started and Alan’s remarkable drawings provide all the inspiration you’ll need to continue on your way. A tour de force with 250 illustrations.
Normally this would be part 2 of the week, but I missed a couple of blogs through ill health. Thankfully it improved enough for me to carry on and finish the art quilt ecourse, which will be published online this weekend and the in person courses are still taking place in Sheffield. All courses are on the website courses page, regularly updated.
I got back into my rhythm of hand sewing and hand knitting too, so although the week did not start very well, I am pleased with what I have achieved.
Big plans for next week too. I reckon I can get some more courses online.
I visited the British Craft Trade Fair on Tuesday in Harrogate with the idea of exhibiting. The standard of the work and the show in general are superb. However, I found it rather biased towards jewellery and ceramics, so I decided it is perhaps not the show for me. I think I am also better selling to the public.
Nothing planned for the weekend, but you can bet your life on it that I will spend most of my time working 🙂
Rose Star Quilt Pattern by Marci Baker, published by CT Publishing. ISBN 9781617453489, price 10.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com
Described as a one-patch quilt, this design allows you to play with colour. The possibilities for quilting are numerous too. The hexagonal design allows for stunning effects. You can use several different cutting tools and the design can be used with pre-cuts. It’s a booklet with a complete how-to including template, cutting, finishing. Optional layouts and yardage for alternative sizes is also given. It all comes in a handy ‘pocket’ that makes this quilt pattern an ideal gift too.
The Skirt Emporium by Madame Zsazsa, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214106, price 12.99, available from www.searchpress.com
A well-priced book including skirt patterns. 25 patterns include skirts for women and girls. Different patterns include A-line, bell, circle, straight, gathered, wrap-around and elasticated. Styles are simple, I think a beginner could make most of these. There is nothing out of the ordinary, just good basic patterns. Also includes how to make underskirts and ideas for maternity wear. Madame Zsazsa has it all covered including customizing patterns. The photography is good and instructions are clear.
Vibrant Watercolours by Hazel Lale, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782212942, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com
Hazel has a definite style that will most likely appeal to any lover of colour. Instead of the quiet watercolours of country scenes, she goes for bold, vibrant colour. This exciting painting book includes an introduction, visual language, materials, ideas, sketching and the main chapters Colour, Bringing Your Paintings to Life, Painting for Impact and Abstraction – all divided into bit-sized pieces and including a step-by-step project. Hazel looks at 5 aspects of visual language used to build a picture or painting. Ideas for sketchbooks is a good section. Throughout the book is full of tips and techniques and useful insights, accompanied by brilliant examples of Hazel’s work. The 5 step-by-step projects are very good; my favourite is the portrait of an African woman. An art book to read, offering a course-style learning process for progress with paint and water. This is a superb book that makes you think about every stroke of your painting. Highly recommended.
Stitching With Beatrix Potter by Michele Hill, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617456107, price 16.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com
10 projects to make inspired by the work of Beatrix Potter using applique with her characters such as Peter Rabbit but not using Potter’s original drawings and illustrations. There is a short introduction on Beatrix Potter by Helen Bertram, followed by materials, applique techniques, hand embroidery stitches and then the projects. These include a cover for an iron, a nursery quilt and bunting, wool felt ball, hexies, floral wallhanging, cushion, Hill Top wool felt storage box, wedding quilt and another quilt shown unfinished. There are templates at the back of the book. Overall I think this is a good book yet although it is inspired by Beatrix Potter, anyone who really loves her illustrations might be disappointed in these ‘replicas’. This book was previously published in Australia.