Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 2a

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

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

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 1b

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

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Year 2, Week 1a

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

 

Beautiful Bonded Surfaces by Lynda Monk

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

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

Creative Textile Blog Week 52 Part 2

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

The courses are quilt design

and quilt block design

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

 

Pioneer Quilts by LL and K Triplett

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

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

Guide to Cross Stitch by Jamie Chalmers

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

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

Decoupage Your Home by Fransie Snyman

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

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

Creative Textile Blog Week 52 Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Soutache by Donatella Ciotti

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

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

Adventures in Hexagons by Emily Breclaw

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

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

Creative Textile Blog Week 51 Part 1

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

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Quilted Holiday Tables

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

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

Heirloom Teddy Bears by Sue Quinn

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

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

Creative Textile Blog Week 50 Part 2

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

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

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

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

Also looking forward to starting a new project.

Have a lovely weekend.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt

Creative Textile Blog Week 50 Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Week 49 Part 1

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

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Paper Quilling by Elizabeth Moad

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

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

Layered Cloth by Ann Small

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

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

Learn To Paint in Acrylics by MD Nelson

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

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

Creative Textile Blog Week 48 Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

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

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

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

Street Scenes in Watercolour by Grahame Booth

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

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

Make Wall Quilts

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

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

Creative Textile Blog Week 47 Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Knitted Cats & Dogs by Sue Stratford

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

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

Thread Painting by Jenny McWhinney

Thread Painting Bunnies In My Garden by Jenny McWhinney, softback published by Milner. ISBN 9781863514989, price 18.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

These charming and engaging bunnies will steal the heart of everyone who sees them. A cute book with 12 fabulous stitch projects suitable for every embroiderer from beginner upwards. There is surely a nod to Beatrix Potter here, but Jenny has injected her own style. She describes her thread painting as relaxed. The book is illustrated with her pencil and watercolour drawings as well as finished images of her work. Full sized line drawings are included for you to trace the patterns and detailed stitch instructions are included. There is also a stitch guide and a detailed, illustrated guide to thread painting. This book is a work of art whether you stitch anything or not. My guess is you will want to stitch all 12 delightful projects. For embroidery enthusiasts and lovers of bunnies. Recommended. This is a reprint of the 2003 book.

Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton

Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton, softback published by Roost Books. ISBN 9781611803365, price 20.00gbp available from www.roostbooks.com

Subtitled ‘A Fresh Strategy For One-Dish Vegetarian Meals’ this book scores on so many points. Fabulous dishes, easy one-dish, fresh ingredients, an excellent way to get your 10-a-day. Eating fresh veg will boost your vitamin and minerals as well as your fibre and give you more get up and go. Using seasonal veg combined with carbs and protein provides all the nutrients you need for healthy living. 125 recipes bring veg to the fore. Tips on preparing, cooking, planning add to the ultimate game-plan for your plant-based diet. Putting the flavour back in food with nourishing simple dishes you can easily cook. Includes Noodles, Grains, Beans, Leaves, Toast, Tortillas, Eggs and Broth. It’s about matching foods that are already in your larder, re-stocking your larder or planning ahead – a versatile strategy for everyone. I’m not into noodles, but in this section you’ll also find a good tomato sauce, pesto oil and greens basket. There’s a fair sprinkling of Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, curry, salads, a slight Italian touch with focaccia and pasta, in all something for everyone. The broths are hearty with chunky veg. My favourite dish is Quickfest Mini Frittata. Not every recipes is photographed. Quantities are given in American measurements in cups.

Half Yard Vintage by Debbie Shore

Half Yard Vintage by Debbie Shore, softback published by SearchPress. ISBN 9781782214588, price 9.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Vintage has maintained its status as a theme that everyone loves. Debbie takes vintage style and makes 23 projects for the home and for gifts. Accessories include pillow covers, bags, dressing table covers, tea coy, tray covers and cake frills and Christmas-themed projects too. You’ll find all the sewing techniques you need to know at the front of the book, including mitred corners. My favourite projects are the pillow, floral wreath, bucket bag, posy, journal cover, Xmas stocking and cottages. Lots of lace and neutral fabrics. Small projects are quick to make and add a homely touch. This book will be a big hit with its desirable projects and easy to follow instructions.

Painting Perspective in Watercolour by Geoff Kersey

Painting Perspective, Depth & Distance in Watercolour by Geoff Kersey. Softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782213116, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com

Discover the techniques of the trade to create depth and distance in your watercolours. Create the impression of mist over the mountains. Find out how to paint objects in perspective allowing them to recede naturally. There are 7 step-by-step projects to hone your skills. Techniques are shown for linear and aerial perspective. Make your watercolour landscapes look more realistic with expert guidance.

The book begins with materials and tools and goes on to give excellent tips on drawing and sketching, then brief notes on colour. The bulk of the book gives examples of perspective and includes painting skies too. I know so many artists that find perspective difficult to grasp. The seven projects include a Snow Scene, Glencoe, Boats at Bosham, Cromford Canal, Farm Buildings, Grange in Borrowdale and Baslow Edge. From each and also from the numerous, fabulous illustrations of finished work you will learn so much. This book was originally published in 2004 as Perspective, Depth & Distance.  If you do not have it, this is very much worthwhile buying. Highly recommended.

Sew Advent Calendars by Debbie Shore

Sew Advent Calendars by Debbie Shore, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782214885, price 9.99 available from www.searchpress.com

It’s countdown to Xmas with another fab book from Debbie Shore. Who does not love an advent calendar, that countdown that comes with little gifts? Debbie has created 20 designs, so you can make many people happy this Xmas. Includes sewing essentials and know-how – this is Debbies’ rundown on what you need to know to make the projects; suggestions for adding treats, counting down – different numbers to buy and templates. Debbie has been inventive with her designs, using for example triangle pockets, quilted cones, cottage pockets, felt pyramids, pleats, chalk board, cubes, bunting, a train, tree, mittens and even a sausage dog. Discover many ways to deliver a countdown to Xmas with photographs and clear instructions. Never has Xmas been so much fun.

Sew Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Mary Hertel

Sew Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Mary Hertel, softback published by C&T Publishing. ISBN 9781617455285, price 14.99 available in the U.K. from www.searchpress.com

Fabulous fun design for Christmas. With a little ingenuity, these designs could be adapted to year round, in fact some of them are seasonal more than Christmas – gingerbread men and polar bears, lending this book great appeal. Work from scraps using paper piecing and cut as you sew. This book provides a variety of whimsical projects such as place mats, Christmas stockings, table runners and more that are suitable to create for your own home, or to solve the gift-giving at Christmas. 16 paper-pieced blocks are mix and match providing much scope for a personal touch. There are 8 holiday projects. Simple fun designs with clear instructions, including photographs.

Creative Textile Blog Week 46 Part 2

Not a bad week at all for getting things finished. 6 new paintings are now complete. More ready for the Creswell Crags Mother Grundy Festival on 29 July. I am also just stitching up my new jumper. So I am quite pleased with what I have achieved.

Not everything goes to plan and I am not too happy about my little goddess. I love working with clay but have nowhere to store clay or to fire it. I used air drying clay about 30 to 40 years ago and found it disappointing. I thought it might have improved but still find it hard to work with and the way it dries is always disappointing. Not sure I got the right shape either, I found it so hard to manipulate. I added some water twice. My plan was to coil some pots, but I won’t be coiling with this.

Apart from that I went through 30,000 photos in the last two weeks, all the plant ones are labelled now. I threw 2,500 out. I have to go back through them now and label all the ones I shall be using in the up coming courses I am offering. I have been writing new courses all week. One on quilt design and one tutorial course for painting. That’s the thing to do on a wet and dismal week in June!

Sort of ran out of steam on Thursday and feeling even worse today but it was a successful week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

 

Intuitive Color & Design 2nd Ed by Jean Wells

Intuitive Color & Design 2nd Ed by Jean Wells, softback published by C & T Publishing. ISBN 9781617455247, price 24.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com

Creative quilting brought to you by one of the best quilt designers. This book gives you exercises to follow to design your own quilts by thinking outside the block. Taking quilting in a new direction, this book frees up your creativity. Find plenty of inspiration, guidance and ideas for the adventurous quilter. Full of examples and colour photos that will make you want to quilt and quilt again. This book covers design, piecing and finishing. If you already have the first edition though, I am not sure it is worth buying the second, it is mainly the photos that have been moved around more than new content. If you do not have the first edition, then you can do no better than buy this book. It is simply superb for the contemporary quilter and those who want to learn more about the design process.

Creative Textile Blog Week 46 Part 1

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.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Wise Craft Quilts by Blair Stocker

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

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

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 S. Ritchie & K. Miller

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

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.

Creative Textile Blog Week 45 Part 1

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.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Stash Busting Quilts

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

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

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.

Creative Textile Blog Week 44 Part 1

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.

Have a wonderful week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

Creative Textile Blog Week 43 Part 1

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.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

How To Paint Flowers & Plants in Watercolour by Janet Whittle

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 by Christina Ludlam

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

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 L.Rowe & B.Corkhill

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.