Creative Textile Blog Week 37 Part 1

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.

More on Friday, have a lovely creative week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Week 36 Part 2

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.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017


Charm School by Vanessa Goertzen

Charm School by Vanessa Goertzen, softback published by Stash Books (C&T Publishing). ISBN 9781617452710, price 18.99 in the U.K. available from

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.

Creative Textile Blog Week 36 Part 1

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.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Wen Redmond’s Digital Fiber Art

Wen Redmond’s Digital Fiber Art, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617452697, price 21.99 in the U.K. available from

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 by Judy Gauthier

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

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

Improv Paper Piecing by Amy Friend, softback published by Lucky Spool Media. ISBN 9781940655239, price 24.99, available in the U.K. from

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.

Creative Textile Blog Week 35 Part 2

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

Words, images and work copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Week 35 Part 1

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!

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Beautiful Blankets, Afghans and Throws by Leonie Morgan

Beautiful Blankets, Afghans and Throws by Leonie Morgan, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215431, price 10.99 available from

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

Arne & Carlos Field Guide to Knitted Birds, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215394, price 14.99, available from

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 S. Nephew & M. Baker

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

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

Bird Art by Alan Woollett, published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782212966, price 17.99 available from

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.

Creative Textile Blog – Week 34 Part One

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 🙂

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Rose Star Quilt Pattern by Marci Baker

Rose Star Quilt Pattern by Marci Baker, published by CT Publishing. ISBN 9781617453489, price 10.99 available in the U.K. from

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

The Skirt Emporium by Madame Zsazsa, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214106, price 12.99, available from

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

Vibrant Watercolours by Hazel Lale, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782212942, price 14.99 available from

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

Stitching With Beatrix Potter by Michele Hill, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617456107, price 16.99 available in the U.K. from

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.

Colour Confident Stitching by Karen Barbe

Colour Confident Stitching by Karen Barbe, softback published by Pimpernel Press. ISBN 9781910258651, price 16.99 available in the U.K. from

Subtitled ‘How to create beautiful colour palettes’ this book does what it says. The contents are Introduction, Understanding Colour, Feeling Colour, Stitching Colour. Even if you are not born with an eye for colour, Karen asserts that you can develop it by learning all about the subject. Part One is all about colour theory and part two is all about colour sensitivity. It’s basically colour awareness. The two parts of the book are reinforced with a series of projects in Part three; learning through practice. Colour communicates emotions. You will learn how to build palettes using colour theory or sensitivity to guide you. Learn the standards of colour theory – value, saturation, hue, the colour wheel, families, colour cards and schemes, palettes, tonal range. 5 projects show how to stitch with colour. I thought the projects cold have been much more exciting. This is a very good book for anyone interested in colour who knows very little about it. If you already know colour theory, you might not find anything new here. Although I admire the patience taken to create all the colour palettes, when it comes to the digital section, it is sadly lacking in information.

Creative Textile Blog – Week 33 Part 1

The blog today is about two very different things – the quilting that was done on the course I taught, and a Mother’s Day trip to Dunham Massey.

I was teaching Cathedral Window Quilting and Japanese Folded Patchwork last week and here are the results of that session. The ‘stag’ and stripes fabrics are mine and the other two samples were made by the attendee. I have added more course dates for the two courses here and in the next few days I expect to launch these as online courses too.

I had a wonderful day at Dunham Massey. The gardens are very good and the house has some very interesting features. I loved the bells and the Flemish stained glass. The journey also inspired some new work but more about that later. How can I fit in more new work? I need 8 or even 9 days a week! The countryside between Sheffield towards Manchester is some of the best in the country.

Lots planned for this week, next post will be Friday

Words, work and images except where noted copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Week 32 Part 2

In preparation for my teaching today, this week I prepared two booklets for attendees and course notes.

Yesterday I spent the early evening preparing the room for teaching. It’s all looking good and I am feeling very positive. The sun is shining and we are going to have a lovely day hand quilting. Today I am teaching Cathedral Windows quilting and Japanese Folded Patchwork, both techniques that I have practised for some time and am injecting new ideas into. There will be advanced courses on offer shortly.

Take a look at the face-to-face courses and online ecourses on the website for the full range of hand quilting, hand knitting or Photoshop courses. If you love creating and making, there is a course for you to take in Sheffield in person or to do in the comfort of your own home.

Have a great weekend, see you on Monday

A-Z of Sewing for Smockers

A-Z of Sewing for Smockers, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782211754, price 12.99 available from

The A-Z series presents time and tested crafts that are beloved by many. This is a new edition. Turn your smocking into an heirloom. It’s for people who already know how to smock, but want to know how to put a garment together. The book is aimed at the construction process of creating traditional garments, using clear step-by-step instructions with photographs. It contains techniques for piping, pleating, attaching lace, sashes and more but is not a how to smock book. There is a materials section, techniques and construction. The photographs are good and the instructions are professional. The book would be even better if it laid flat, for it is difficult to hold it open and follow the instructions for a project.

Creative Textile Blog Week 32 Part 1

Very little to report as I have been away for a special celebration. However, I did manage a quick visit to Exeter Cathedral. It was rather bizarre as after we had been in there 10 minutes, people were piling in for a service and we could therefore not enter the main part of the cathedral with all the beautiful painted wood and the best stained glass window. We could only walk down the aisles and into the chapels. It was bizarre because the service was a funeral service.

It is a wonderful small cathedral with amazing bosses and two towers from the 11th century. I thought you might enjoy some of the embroidered work I saw there.

I had never been to Exeter before, been driven past it many a time on my way to Cornwall (my ultimate destination) but it was the first time I had stopped there. On the way out of the car park, I spotted a couple of medieval buildings we had missed!

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017


Creative Textile Blog Week 31 Part 2

This time last week I was having my lumbar puncture and it has taken the best part of the week to recover. In fact, I went for my first long walk yesterday and had to rest for the remainder of the day. So I have hardly got any work done and nothing to show you. So I thought I would have a little reminiscing.

Here are the pots I made in 2009. The walk around the botanic garden in 2010 with the crocus under the still bare beech tree and the wonderful stone. I used the garden as a journey theme for an art project. 2011 found me walking around Chatsworth. Whilst in 2012 I was on one of my many visits to the British Museum, a great source of inspiration for me. I was also there in March 2013, and had been making the first of my bracelets. In March 2014, I was in Kairouan, Tunisia researching for my carpets book. In 2015, my digital explorations began in earnest and I have created so much digital work in two years. Last year I was getting ready for a painting exhibition and this year I am getting ready to teach.

It’s a varied creative life and love every aspect of it.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Find out more about my work on my website

Freeform Crochet With Confidence by Carol Meldrum

Freeform Crochet With Confidence by Carol Meldrum, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782212676, price 10.99 available from

Explore creative crochet with this book through 30 easy projects. Take a look at what you can do with shapes and stitches to create practical projects. Most people attempt freeform when they have mastered all the basic stitches. There are step-by-step instructions for the basic stitches at the front of the book and you will need to be confident with these first. This book concentrates on simple freeform ideas to build your confidence. Like changing colour or adding a stitch or motif ad hoc. These projects are fine to learn the basics. The chapters on Organic Patterns and Lace are what I really think of as freeform crochet. I love the cream scarf and the lace scarf. The mix and match cardi looks interesting and I like the flower shawl too. The basic ideas can be used to form your own patterns. Unfortunately the book only mentions yarns by brand name and is using a well-known but rather expensive brand. It does, however give tension and if you refer to the front of the book, you should be able to work out what other kinds of yarns to use. This is important, because the joy of freeform is that you can use up scraps of yarn. Spiral-bound would have been an advantage.

Creative Textile Blog Week 31 Part 1

I am making a good recovery from the lumbar puncture, but it has taken its toll. I have got a tiny bit of stitching done and I have started writing another online textile course, but more about that later. Today I am going to take you to the Treasurer’s House in York.

I started my day out at the railway station, and walked towards Bootham, towards the Minster area, over the Ouse which was looking gorgeous. I do love the almost white stone of the riverside buildings. Along my way I passed on the left hand side, York Museum and its gardens. It was years before I discovered that here are the remains of an Abbey and now I always make a detour. The Abbey was looking wonderful in the sunshine. Arches are such a wonderful inspiration in my textile work. The gardens were filled with spring bulbs but I have saved these pics for my garden blog.

I popped into the Museum, which has had a facelift, but the entrance fee is now 7.50 and I passed it by. There is an exhibition coming up later in the year and I might go back. Next I passed by the Art Gallery where the statue of the Yorkshire artist, Etty looks over to the Minster. I had never noticed before the charming building to the left with its coat of arms. I popped into the Gallery, always a delight because in the past it has always been free. I once saw an excellent exhibition of Japanese quilting here, mainly fishermen’s jackets. Now it too has had a re-design, lost its funding and is 7.50 to enter. Someone in the government needs to recognise that Arts Funding is important. I decided to continue with my day as planned. These things should be accessible to all, not just those who can afford them.

I headed for the Minster, walked round the back until I came to the Treasurer’s House, tucked away with marvellous views of the rear of the Minster. It is a tiny house, with a tiny garden, a NT property. I did enjoy it but was not in there for long because it is so tiny. I spent the rest of my day looking at other churches and photographing the oldest houses in York, on Goodramgate. Just look at those blue skies.

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Atmospheric Landscapes in Acrylics by Fraser Scarfe

Atmospheric Landscapes in Acrylics by Fraser Scarfe, hardback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782212836, price 19.99 available from

Painting through the seasons, using acrylics to depict the natural landscape. This book includes an introduction about acrylics, four sections relating to each season and a final chapter ‘Reflections on The Year’. Throughout you will find exciting examples of Fraser’s work. You’ll discover journal entries, thoughts on painting, a close look at projects in a typical year, offering insights into the practicalities and challenges of painting. He discusses materials, drawing, sketching, sketchbooks, media, photography and using photos in work, brushes, light, composition, depth, skies, trees and colour. There are exercises to follow. The book is instructional without really being step-by-step, it is open to your interpretation. The book deals primarily with landscapes. Fraser shows paintings from all over the country, the east coast, Lincoln, Baslow Edge, Dumfries, the Lake District and London and many more places as subjects. This is a superb book, Fraser has a wonderful approach, easily understood, unstuffy. Recommended.

Creative Textile Blog Week 30 Part 2

I promised to show you pics from Cliffe Castle, Keighley, so without further ado, here we go. It is quite a long post, so make a cup of tea and sit back and enjoy.

I had never heard of this place before, but I thought it sounded interesting. I took a bus from the centre of town and got off near the lower entrance. As I walked up the hill, I was greeted with a mass of spring crocus, breathtakingly beautiful amongst the mature trees. The gardens are being renovated and work is due to be finished in July.

Just outside the Castle is a blossom tree, looking like heaven against the blue sky. The pink was so vivid and the warmth of spring was evident.

The house is imposing from the outside, castle-like with its turret. However the interior is just sheer elegance and delight. Filled with amazing furniture. Three rooms are preserved. Cliffe Castle was originally the home of Victorian millionaire and textile manufacturer, Henry Isaac Butterfield. Completed in the 1880s the building was funded by the Butterfield family’s industrial empire which included wool textile mills and a shipping business. He had impeccable taste. It is full of interesting and inspiring objects.

In the remaining rooms open to the public is the museum with its collections of teapots and ceramics, tools and local industry, animal bones such as mammoth tooth, rocks, fossils, minerals and gems, an incredible long piece of fibre art made by a local artist Naomi Parker on the Evolution of Life, a paper cut from over a hundred years ago, Indian textiles, fabulous paintings, taxidermy (not fond of it but it struck me that if you really want to draw, it is easier with dead animals than ones that move:)), amazing stained glass and fashion through the ages.

Until 23 April 2017, you can also see the incredible art of Kate Lycett and her beautiful paintings of lost South Pennines houses.

I found it all thoroughly absorbing, and have only shown you a fraction of what I photographed. Cliffe Castle is a good 15 minute walk from the centre, or a short bus ride. It is free. It makes a great day out with East Riddlesdon Hall that I wrote about in Part 1 of the blog this week. The green hills will beckon too.

See you after the weekend, have an enjoyable one

Words, images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Make It With Air-Dry Clay by Fay De Winter

Make It With Air-Dry Clay by Fay De Winter, published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215165, price 9.99 available from

These easy-to-make projects are ideal for beginners. Create ‘ceramic’ makes that do not need to be fired with air-dry clay. It is often thought of as not as versatile as clay that needs to be fired in a kiln. The advantages are that this clay is easy to use with children. This book takes you through all the basics, making projects along the way and building your skills as you go along. There are step-by-step photos and instructions to make sure you don’t fail. Mostly this book avoids the amateur, lumpy look of air-dry clay, although there are a few projects I would not have included. There are 20 projects in all. The best is shown on the front cover – the bubble shallow dish. In Chapter One you will find Tools, Techniques including basic pinching, coiling and slabs. Chapter Two is the projects including, feather tags, miniature mirror frames, tealight holders and marbled pinch pots. A good introduction to air-dry clay.

Allie Aller’s Stained Glass Quilts Reimagined

Allie Aller’s Stained Glass Quilts Reimagined, published by C & T Publishing. ISBN 9781617452864, price 21.99 in the U.K. available from

Creating a stained glass effect in quilting is fascinating. There are only 6 projects in this book from quilts to wall decor. There are also 3 ways to create the ‘leading’ without bias tape. The front cover shows a beautiful peacock and typical stained glass colours in the border of the cover that belong to another quilt called ‘Mondrian’s Window’. The back cover shows a beautiful ‘vine’ in gorgeous greens. These form the best three projects in the book in my opinion. Chapter One deals with design sources and strategies; the sources might surprise you, Chapter Two with Glass and Leading supplies and approaches – any experienced quilter will probably already have tried these methods, especially if they do applique. In the close-up of Frank’s Window you can see how far out the leading is (and again twice in the instructions) and Chapter Three with Techniques and Exercises including a Gallery with some superb samples and Chapter Four with Work Flow plus Projects. The instructions for making the projects are clear. Whilst I like the projects and samples, I am not convinced that the ‘leading’ ideas work that well. Personally I am not fond of glue applique. Cutting fiddly strips is as bad as if not worse than using bias tape and we have surely all done couching and sewn applique so I was at a loss to figure out what exactly were the fresh techniques.

Creative Textile Blog Week 30 Part 1

I am a little late today. There was no space on the computer to download photos. Sorted now, but it has taken the best part of the day.

I am not sharing my work today, but some of the wonderful things I saw at East Riddlesden Hall in Keighley. It is a very small NT property, but extremely interesting. The view across the pond to the house is worth coming for on its own. I cannot speak for other times of the year, but on my visit on 4th March the garden was not worth coming to see. The house is on two floors and was at times shared by several families. You cannot visit the attic. On the first floor there is a very interesting large wool hanging. Some of the bed and settee covers are original and very interesting too. There are good examples of crewel work and blackwork, as well as stumpwork in the upstairs rooms. All the blackwork was done by a retired policeman, it’s the best I have ever seen. You’ll also find rag rugs, some quilting and tapestries. Children are encouraged to have a go at embroidery. The plaster ceilings are very good too in some rooms, mainly downstairs. The house is reputedly haunted. I’m glad I didn’t see any ghosts. My visit only took about an hour and that was with a stroll around the garden and talking to the volunteers. On a summer’s day you could sit in the garden. I had come for the embroidery and I was not disappointed. Part 2 of the blog on Friday, will be about my afternoon visit in Keighley.

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Pot Holders For All Seasons by Chris Malone

Pot Holders For All Seasons by Chris Malone, softback published by Annie’s Quilting. ISBN 9781590126707, price 10.99 available in the U.K. from

Jazz up your pot holders and bring life to the kitchen with these fun designs. Practical yet charming to look at. These quilted pot holders are in a variety of designs, quick to make and perfect for gifts. Chris has created pot holders for occasions and more. There are traditional square pot holders but with adorable animals, round ones and there are also pear-shaped, apple-shaped or leaf-shaped, fish-shaped, heart-shaped pot holders and many are decorated with animals. The camper van and house are superb. There is even a microwave bowl cosy. Great for fetes and bazaars, these quilted pot holders will use up your scraps too. There are 20 in all to choose from, and you might wish to make them all. Some are based on traditional quilt block patterns, some are pieced and some appliqued. You’ll find general instructions and also raw-edge fusible applique, padded applique, mitered corner binding, bias strip cutting instructions too. Each project comes with clear photos and step-by-step instructions. Pattens are graded for skill level. The templates are given full size. Recommended.

Stitch, Fabric & Thread by Elizabeth Healey

Stitch, Fabric & Thread by Elizabeth Healey, softback published by Search Press. ISBN9781782212850, price 14.99 available from

I bet that gorgeous cover grabbed your attention. It gives you some idea of the inspiration this book provides through practical exercises. The many techniques explored in this book are quilting, shisha embroidery, printing, mola, dyeing, couching, Japanese bookbinding and needlelace. You’ll discover stitch galleries and features on sewing movements such as Boro textiles.

Subtitled ‘An Inspirational Guide For Creative Stitchers’ this book includes : Before The Stitches – all about research and preparation; Running Stitches explores straight stitches; Chain and Blanket Stitches is another exploration of stitches and includes creating penny mats, one of my favourite projects in the book as well as stitched memories; Raised Stitches has some nice experimental ideas including Dorset buttons and More Than Stitches including Shibori techniques and mola and gathered circles and stitches at the very back of the book.

The book is a basic introduction to stitch with projects that you can follow. Since it covers a lot of things, it should have broad appeal. With over 40 exercises there is bound to be many things you will love. I felt that even if you encountered nothing new, you would still find value in the projects and expression in this creative book. So much to love for stitchers here.

Creative Textile Blog Week 29 Part 2

This week seems to have gone by in a flash. I have almost finished another cathedral windows quilting project. Come and join the classes in Sheffield. I have been busy developing borders. Still no knitting, it is looking neglected.

I promised myself I would not purchase anything else until all my stash is used up, but was tempted by some bright fat quarters for another project. Whilst there I was shown some cotton wadding and caved in and went back this week to buy it and some backing fabric to finish my first full-sized quilt. I have to finish it now, no excuses. It was started in October 2012, so it might get finished for it’s 5th birthday! I stopped because I was introducing something new into the quilt mix and was not sure, full steam ahead now. I also picked up these gorgeous tapestry wools at just 50p each.

I jotted down on Monday night another 10 workshops I could offer. I need to arrange my calendar. I shall also be uploading new digital fabrics shortly and perhaps deleting some of those online.

On Wednesday I went to Kedleston Hall near Derby and I have had to rest a lot since that time. I tried to embroider on the train but could not get the needle to go where I wanted it to, so after four stitches, I had to stop. It does look like a very wet weekend, so I am hoping to get through lots of work and have more to show you on Monday.

Have a great weekend, see you then

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

How To Paint Skies by Geoff Kersey

How To Paint Skies by Geoff Kersey, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214205, price 12.99 available from

A flick through this book reveals some wonderful examples of watercolour not just skies. Skies are often difficult to capture, to make them look real and if you get it wrong, the whole painting can be spoiled. Geoff offers solutions in this book and ways to paint skies. At the front of the book, you’ll find techniques that will help you paint not just skies, but that can also be applied other features of a painting too. You’ll find all the information on materials too. You’ll discover how to depict some popular ‘themes’ regarding skies – stormy, low cloud, a glow, sunset and summer skies. Geoff’s paintings shown throughout the book provide plenty of inspiration. The 6 step-by-step projects ensure that you can have a go and improve your techniques. This updated and revised edition includes previously published work, so if you have any of Geoff’s other books be aware of that. Recommended.

Creative Textile Blog Week 29 Part 1

That was one very exhausting weekend. I achieved so much but I am shattered and will have to take it easier.

Last week I painted 5 doors, one a day. Thank heavens it is done, because I could not do another.

I created some more courses – this time ecourses so that you can do them wherever you are – learn a new skill for fun or business. The ones I uploaded at the weekend are Kaleidoscopes in Photoshop – a technique that can be used to create fun kaleidoscopes. You can print them on paper or fabric for art, quilting and more. Each one is unique to you.

The other is for creating patterns that can be used for fabrics or art. Create Fabrics with Photoshop

I know many of you have asked me over the years how I created my fabrics and art posters – well now is your chance to find out. Each online course has step-by-step instructions. Work at your own pace in your own home from your own photos, or come to one of my face-to-face workshops in Sheffield.

I have also started another new Cathedral windows project but not taken pics yet and no knitting for the last 3 days. I do need a rest, I’ll go and lie down (actually going to exercise and start my day). See you on Friday with more news and updates.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Just Charm Quilts

Just Charm Quilts, softback published by Annie’s. ISBN 9781590127483, price 10.99 available in the U.K. from

This book uses charm packs, the 5″ pre-cut squares. It delvers 11 creative ways to use them including quilts, table runners, mug mats and hot pads. There are 4 patterns for beginners and the rest are for confident beginners. You’ll see at a glance the skill level, finished size, materials needed, project notes, cutting, construction and assembly, all accompanied by excellent photography and easy-to-folow instruction. The projects include making blocks, prairie points, sewing long strips, stars and pinwheels, half triangles, stash busters and free-motion quilting. There is also a full raw-edge fusible applique tutorial and another on paper piecing. You’ll find a quilting basics section at the back of the book too. Appealing designs using a variety of techniques, you’ll never get bored.

Creative Textile Blog Week 28 Part 2

A whirlwind of a week. I think I might have forgotten half of what I did, there was so much.

Since Monday I have not got any further with the Cathedral Windows quilt, because I need to cut some material to size and I have had so much to do. Ditto with the blouse, I need to find my interfacing. I do live with gremlins who take my hand sewing needles too, they have run off with the interfacing. But I have done some more Cathedral window ‘squares’ for another project and half of another is also done. So progress is being made. The knitting is also coming along and I shall finish the second front and get on to the sleeves this weekend.

I have had a couple of orders to go out, some scrim ribbon, and also some interest in the quilting courses. So it is looking good. This weekend and next week I shall be concentrating on getting all the courses up online as ecourses, so that you can do them wherever you are. New courses launched this week face-to-face in Sheffield are Japanese Folded Patchwork a hand-quilting technique, and create a Kaleidoscope pattern, great for a quilt panel, to create a repeat fabric pattern or for artists, they can be printed on canvas or paper.

I think this is my fourth week of sugar free (with 3 lapses! but not one this week) and I have lost 2 kilos, gained energy and much better sleep whilst losing most of the pain. My average sleep in now 6 hours, instead of 3-4, it is making a big difference. I shall get round to launching the sugar free plan hopefully next week.

Meantime, I am feeling as sunny as the weather and it is glorious if colder this morning.

Enjoy your weekend, and I’ll see you on Monday.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Quick & Easy Quilts For Kids by Connie Ewbank

Quick & Easy Quilts For Kids by Connie Ewbank, softback published by Annie’s. ISBN 9781592173754, price 7.48 available in the U.K. from

Make quilts for kids from a gift for a newborn to toddlers. These designs can be made in a day. The sampler quilt is a beginner’s project using many of the blocks in the book in one design. You could just as easily keep repeating certain blocks or add more blocks that you know to vary the design. Baby Blocks is an even simpler beginner’s quilt, Bugs is similar and Baby Bricks is simple enough and very effective. Here’s My Heart is classed as beginner’s but with its two-blocks plus borders, I thought that this on was moving up to an intermediate skill level. Both this, Nine-Patch and Critters use triangles. Chevron is another I thought would be better classed as intermediate. It is probably my favourite quilt in the book, but also seems aimed at a much older teenager, if not adult. Check This,  and Let’s Go are two more beginner’s quilts. Call of the Wild is based on strip blocks alternating with squares. Around The Block is also an effective way of using up strips. The instructions are clear, with great photos of the finished quilts and step-by-step line drawings of construction. Great ideas, adaptable designs and lots of fun.

Creative Textile Blog Week 28 Part 1

All blogs hit lulls and last week was one of mine. It was not that I was not working but that I was working at a much slower pace and still on the same projects that you have already seen. The Cathedral Windows Quilt now has the first part of its border – the red bird material that I have used for the blouse (still not stitched, slapped wrist). I have to go in search of some plain beige material for another narrower border and then I shall decide if it needs finishing off in red or not. I have a couple of ideas to try.

The other project that is progressing is the front of the cardigan, I am almost there. With things coming to fruition, there should be more photos next time.

Sunday saw me take a trip to a country park and I almost had a whole day without creating.

My non-working time was taken up with more ideas for courses and classes and on re-doing or at least tidying the ‘workroom’ to make better use of the existing space. The first of the knitting courses was launched, you can find it here Searching for photos for it, I was reminded that I have many knitting patterns still to put up on the website. Tomorrow will see the launch of the hand quilting course. So it is full steam ahead and I wish you all a very creative and happy week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Hygge Knits by Nikki Trench

Hygge Knits by Nikki Trench, softback published by Cico Books. ISBN 9781782494782, price 12.99 available from

Hygge is all the craze, so here is a reprint of Trench’s book Fair-Isle & Nordic Knits published in 2014. Coziness with a Danish/Scandinavian style. There are 25 Scandinavian-style patterns. Full-colour charts and instructions for makes for adults and children as well as accessories for the home. The designs have tension pulled on colourwork and some very ugly stitching up and basic mistakes such as the too tight band on the child’s cardigan, too loose neckbands on at least two designs. I love the Nordic Blue Sweater. The colours on some of the designs leave a lot to be desired. A lot of the book is taken up with accessories such as bunting, cushions and hats. Given that you can opt for different colourways of your own choosing, and that you can substitute yarns by checking tension, this is a book of not new designs, no ground-breaking here but interesting take on hygge. It is very reasonably priced.

Creative Textile Blog week 27 Part 2

Yes, I have finished my large hand-stitched Cathedral Windows Quilt – all 36 squares. This is something I have done every day for weeks. At the moment I am thinking wall hanging, I have just the perfect place for it. Also makes a good settee back cover and looks great as a lap quilt – and I could do the border with the leftover material from the blouse. I am feeling so pleased.

Part of the back of the new cardigan is finished. I say part, because it is one of my designs with a peplum. Seems to be my favourite lately. I have started a front.

I have almost finished the weight loss plan and recipe book. Lots of achievements this week again. I concocted a new biscuit recipe, new pancakes and a new healthy bar – this is my favourite one so far.

There has been a lot of writing this week, about health, gardening and sewing plus recipe making and pattern writing.

I did not launch the knitting nor quilting courses. Been feeling a bit tired and weak. So I hope to get those done today. Neither did I get the blouse sewn – so it is full steam ahead this weekend, with quite a bit to do.

Tune in on Monday to see what I get up to at the weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

The Quiltmaker’s Butterfly Forest by Felicia T Brenoe

The Quiltmaker’s Butterfly Forest by Felicia T Brenoe, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617453588, price 16.99 in the U.K. available from

Love butterflies? Find 12 full-size patterns and 6 wreath patterns that incorporate beautiful butterflies. Raw edge applique and a block a month for the Tiputini sampler, plus 8 projects from quilts to cushions and place mats. There is a dramatic black and white quilt and I love the place mats. All the instructions are included, techniques tips and template patterns. A wonderful book for any lover of butterflies. They can also be transformed by changing the fabric.

Learn To Paint in Watercolour With 50 Small Paintings by Wil Freeborn

Learn To Paint in Watercolour With 50 Small Paintings by Wil Freeborn, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214397, price 12.99 available from

The cover has ‘glossy’ paintings, it has a nice feel. This is a watercolour course in a book. It will teach beginners to look at different subjects, learn the techniques and acquire the skills to paint them. Contents include Getting Started; Simple Still Life; Landscapes; Cityscapes; Animals and People. The first chapter includes materials and how to use them in washes, colour, light and sketchbooks. Then the remaining chapters deal with examples defined by subject matter. With each sample painting, Wil gives a lesson, including techniques, and a step-by-step demonstration. These techniques and demonstrations, once learned, can be applied to what you personally want to paint. I like the flowers on page 44, 46 and also the breakfast painting on page 48. I find Stormy Seascape very effective. The whippet on page 110 is excellent too. Wil has managed to effectively combine teaching through samples that you can copy and learn, then apply to your own paintings. It is a masterclass for beginners. No-one need be afraid of watercolour any more.

A-Z of Wool Embroidery

A-Z of Wool Embroidery, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782211808, price 12.99 available from

The A-Z Series is being reprinted as classics and form a veritable library of easy-to-use comprehensive guides that have stood the test of time. This one is all about the stitches used in wool embroidery and how you can incorporate them into stitch designs. Instructions are clear with numerous stitches shown in photos plus tips and more. 60 stitches are shown with step-by-step instructions. The book is further enhanced with traditional project designs that you can follow. The designs are mainly of flowers or animals and use a variety of stitches. I like the Crewel Sampler by Jean Harry and the Pansy by Carolyn Pearce. The patterns for all 29 designs are given at the back of the book. My only criticism is that it is not spiral bound.

Creative Textile Blog Week 27 Part 1

I am working on projects I cannot show as they are for books I hope to have published. So meantime, I thought I would talk about my new upcoming course and share some of my past work.

Since the 1990s I have been a knitwear designer. I recently put most of my knitting patterns online. I have actually knitted since the 60s, so I had well over 20 years experience before I started to design my own knitwear. Some say that you have to have a mathematical brain to be a knitwear designer, but maths was always one of my weakest subjects, so that is simply not true. The course will teach you all the processes you need to know to design your own knitwear. I shall be launching the course tomorrow, for those who want to learn how it is all done. I have a bias towards texture, mainly cable, using interesting patterns and colour work.

Take a look at the patterns.

Words, images and work copyright Karen Platt 2017


The Complete Guide to Anatomy by Gottfried Bammes

412g8sGBf3L._SX354_BO1,204,203,200_The Complete Guide to Anatomy for Artists and Illustrators by Gottfried Bammes, hardback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782213581, price 50.00 from

Originally published in Germany in 1964, this has become a definitive guide to drawing the human figure. This is the first English translation of the complete work. The tome contains over 12,000 drawings, diagrams and photographs covering all aspects of the human form. Structure, function and anatomical processes are all described in detail. It is a systematic approach to learning anatomy offering steps and exercises to reveal practical development for the artist. It provides an in-depth look at the subject. The book includes Anatomy For Artists Past and Present; The Proportions of The Human Body; Bearing and Movement; Building Blocks; Lower Extremities; Skeleton; Muscles; Upper Extremities; Neck; Head including facial features and Artistic Freedom. It talks about measuring processes, developmental stage and proportion3-dimension and space, poses and all factors that have to be taken into account when drawing. The developmental sequences, for example, of knee construction are fascinating. The highly detailed instruction is probably beyond the Sunday painter, but for any serious painter of the human form, this is the best book I have seen. Illustrated with fine examples of well-known artists such as Michelangelo, Matisse and Durer. Brilliant.

Creative Textile Blog Week 26 Part 2

When I start something new, I am reminded of unfinished projects. Then I go ahead and start something new anyway.

I had purchased some gorgeous fabrics a while ago as a 5″ charm pack. At the time I loved them so much that I bought some matching fabrics in some of the designs with the intention of making a full-sized quilt. The sort of fabrics you take out every once in a while and then cannot bring yourself to cut into them because they are simply too gorgeous.

Then I started my Cathedral Windows quilt project, but I had already cut the material before I realised that most of what I loved about the fabric would be hidden by the folding and placement of the ‘window’. I also realised that the fabric I loved best, I had neglected to buy more of. I did a search and managed to get the last 2 and a half metres. That would form the basis of a quilt and the 5″ squares would be highlights. When it arrived though, I thought what a lovely blouse it would make. So that is what it has become. There is enough left over for some quilting. Maybe a border for my Cathedral Windows.

I searched through 21 Burda mags for a pattern. Found one to adapt. This one is from 1993, and I was struck by the thought that in those days, the patterns were not as complicated – not as many patterns on one sheet as there are in today’s Burda. Still had trouble finding those lines. I trace my pattern onto dressmaking quality tracing paper, so if I need to use it again, I can. Wish it came in a wider width though.

Placing the pattern pieces was tricky, because my fabric was not as wide as that stipulated, so lucky that I had extra length to play with. All the pieces were cut. I pinned it and tried it on the next morning. This is going to be good.

Finally photographed the last sweater. I must press my ‘fair-isle’ bits. I also finished a painting on paper again, although I am still tempted to fiddle.

Just one new course launched this week. Come and learn fabric design in Sheffield. If you have problems adding the course to the basket, let me know.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Boho Embroidery by Nichole Vogelsinger

61QWNrKv4qL._SX473_BO1,204,203,200_Boho Embroidery by Nichole Vogelsinger, softback published by Lucky Spool Media. ISBN 978-1-940655-20-8, price 24.95 USD, or 17.11 in the UK available from

Boho-chic hit the heights in 2005, but it lives on in embroidery. It is very loosely interpreted and what one thinks of as Bohemian, is open to interpretation. The Boho look of the 60s owed much to the hippie style. It is associated with ‘folk’ style. Like many other styles, it floats in and out of fashion. There is nothing particularly Boho about this book. In fact, most of the book is ‘let’s talk about stitches’, ‘let’s talk about needles’. I know someone who creates fabulous  Boho textiles. This book is about a few rather ordinary stitches, that most will already have in their repertoire, about using hoops to frame your work (like there is any mystery to that), about looking around you and using nature, going to thrift shops and finding buts and pieces you can use, selecting fabric. It is almost pure waffle. Sorry but that is my opinion. There are templates at the book and a few stitches given, very little else, now actual how-to, not even a clear definition of boho. It’s pretty and full of colour, but a bit like sugar, there is no substance that I can see. perhaps it has appeal to the very young, who are just discovering embroidery but there are far better books out there.

Knit Me, Dress Me, Love Me by Sue Stratford

514dOozOlzL._AC_US218_Knit Me, Dress Me, Love Me by Sue Stratford, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782213796, price 12.99 available from

Love paper dressing dolls? Here’s the equivalent in knit. Seven characters to knit, each with a mini version, clothes and accessories. They are all the same size so the outfits can be worn by any of the little creatures. Great for using scraps of yarn and lots of fun to knit and to play with. Bunny, mouse, kitten, puppy, monkey panda or teddy will give hours of joy. Create accessories for school, beach, picnic, snow and bedtime. Find sections on materials, step-by-step techniques with photos, instructions for knitting the cute animals in two sizes plus all their ‘play’ accessories, including a pink pussyhat (I kid you not, Sue must have great foresight). Simply charming for kids of all ages. Highly recommended.