Wedding Quilt – progress

 So, just before I went back to work after Christmas, I finished all the wedding quilt blocks.  I had made some amendments to the design, while I was sewing – I always do this.  Sometimes the design only exists in my head, so I don’t have to admit to having changed it.  This one, however, had actually been drawn out.  And I did actually change it on the drawing – by simply over-drawing in a different colour, rather than any more formal, complex, or complete method.  But still…

So the central row of blocks in this picture are the new design, where every corner is made up of four large half square triangle blocks.  At this point, I wasn’t sure if they would be arranged in a diamond, or in a pinwheel to echo the smaller, triangle blocks.  But they were done.

The white half of the corner blocks, if you look carefully, is made of a print of cream roses on a white background.  This quilt is a wedding present for my sister.  I know my sister pretty well, and I can confidently predict that, should she ever get married, she will theme her wedding around cream roses.  I bet they’ll feature on the invitations, the room decoration, her bouquet, the table favours*.  A cream rose wedding would be just her style.  So when I found a fabric featuring cream roses, it seemed ideal to use in a quilt which will, one day, be her wedding gift.  The centre of the quilt is made up of solid squares of the cream rose fabric.

Today, I laid the blocks out, and stitched them into rows.  There’s a number of ways of treating triangle blocks.  If you put them together, edge to edge, you create interesting repetitions, and new shapes in the negatives.  In my design (which is actually drawn out, remember, so I kind of have to stick to it.  Or overdraw it again – which would just look scribbly), I had decided to put a 3″ sash between each block.  Which creates more space, and makes the quilt more of a white quilt – or a shades of cream and white quilt.  In my head, anyway.

Having laid the blocks out, I’ve joined the rows of blocks.  I’ve inserted the vertical 3″ sash between the individual, triangle blocks.


Next, I need to make the horizontal sashing rows.  Each triangle block will have a 3″ sash above and below it.  Where the sashing meets, there will be a 3″ square, in as close to Everton blue as I’ve been able to find.  I predict that, should my sister ever get married, she’ll marry an Everton supporter – so that’d be a good colour to use…**

Once the sashing rows are assembled, they can be inserted between the block rows.  The Everton blue squares will act like a hearth square in a log cabin block.  I like this idea of domesticity in the busyness of the triangles.

If there’s enough of the cream fabric I’m using for sashing left, then I’ll also put a 3″ border all the way round, with a blue hearth square at each corner.

Then I need to make the back.  There is a lot of the sashing fabric, but because I bought it 9 years ago, I can’t remember *how* much there is.  I hope there might be enough of it to make the back.  The centre of the back will have a New York Beauty, which I happen to have made when I first thought of making my sister a wedding quilt.  Because I imagine she’ll probably get engaged in New York.  And so that’d be a kind of cool thing to work into the quilt somewhere, wouldn’t it??  But this is kind of bright and funky, and doesn’t tie in with the front of the quilt, particularly, so the back seems a good place to put it.

I have kind of a cool idea for the quilting, too, but it’s nice to keep a surprise element to a gift, isn’t it? So I’m not going to write about that, in advance.  I’ll show you what it is when I’ve given the quilt to Sissy.  If she ever gets married, that is…

*I’m kind of right.  She got married nine years ago.  She did have the cream roses.  The gift is a little overdue.  We don’t mention it.

** Guess what team my lovely brother in law supports??

Also… knitting.

You know how you do nothing for *months* and then all of a sudden you have a couple of weeks’ holiday and find yourself catching up on lost opportunities?  Well, that.

I went to meet a friend, last week, in Warwick.  I haven’t seen her for a while, and she’s an avid knitter and knew I needed a good local yarn shop.  There’s nothing in the town I live in, but Warwick’s where my daughter lives and there’s a rather fabulous yarn shop, Warwick Wools, which she thought I might like…

I did.  She is wise!

I wasn’t going to buy any yarn, as I’d just spent a small fortune in The Quilter’s Den (you just have to forgive the tag line).  But I am powerless to resist the urge to plunge my hands into piles of yarn.  It’s so smooth, and soft, and warm, and tactile… I could just fill boxes with it, and never make anything and be perfectly happy opening the boxes and stroking the yarn… Just me?

Anyway, I bought some lovely chunky orange yarn, which will – any moment now, in fact – knit up another cable cushion cover.  Probably to go into my office, where I’m attempting some orange integration…  It’s ok.  I know what I mean! And as I went to the till to pay for it, my eye lit upon a pattern for welly toppers, printed on a postcard at the till. 

The pattern was free if you purchased the yarn, which turned out to be from a British designer (all the clues are there, really) called Erika Knight.  So I dutifully trotted back to the racks, and chose a skein of fur yarn in mulberry and a skein of chunky maxi yarn in artisan.

And that evening, I sat in bed with my needles clickety clacking, and made these (right). 

I have to confess, I wasn’t entirely sure what welly toppers are *for*, functionally speaking.  I thought they were just a frippery.  But I wore them, today, when out walking the dogs, and they were wonderfully, wonderfully warm.  They took just a couple of hours each to make up, and if I’d read the instructions correctly, there would’ve been enough yarn for two pairs.  But I didn’t, so there isn’t (the total length of the green ribby bit should’ve been 12cm, but I made the length of each topper 12″).  But there’s enough purple furry yarn for something else.  So I’ll have to think of something to do with it…
 

Wedding Quilt – dimension distress

It took two days of fettling with calculations to get the triangles right.  Two long, dispiriting days.  My own fault: I know I have my own instructions for measuring and cutting triangles, up in the attic somewhere.  But I couldn’t be arsed to rummage around for them, so I tried to work it out.

First I used a triangle ruler (pictured right), overlaid over the template I drew, to work out what size to cut my triangles to.  At the bottom of the green and white sketch, you can just about make out my original calculations.

I have never found a use for that triangle ruler.  Largely because most of my quilts are based on strips, not triangles.  And when I do use geometric shapes, I free cut them to make assymetrical, rough and ready finished pieces, like the Granny Quilt, where none of the finished triangles are *quite* the same as each other, or the Eye Spy Starz quilt.  I haven’t done a mathematically precise quilt since…. Oh, the Irish Chain, I think! Back in 2003! And that was squares…

Well, I’ve used the triangle ruler now. And probably never will again.  I’m not sure what it’s *for*, but accurate cutting and measurement of triangles doesn’t seem to be it.  Overlaying that on the template, and cutting to the requisite shape provided entirely the wrong sized, mismatched block (see left).  My finished block needs to be 9 1/2″ square.  The triangle template gave me a 10 1/2″ square.  Trimming that down would have meant losing roughly quarter of my beautiful, sharp points…

 After much experimentation, I can confirm that the way to measure right angle triangles is to treat them like half square triangles (which they are) and measure the length of the side either side of the right angle.  Then add 7/8″ for seam allowance, which gives you the central, diagonal seam allowance, and your 1/4″ all round standard quilting seam allowance.  So on that basis, all the small triangles are 3 1/8″ squares.  The big triangles are 5 3/8″ squares.  And the uncut squares are 2 3/4″.

Each patterned block (24 of) is made of 22 pieces of fabric.  Then there are 12 blocks made of two pieces each.  Then 8 plain blocks.  Then 72 sashing pieces, 44 hearth squares, and 4 borders.  That’s 680 pieces of carefully measured, cut, stitched and fitted together fabric to make one layer of a quilt.  Phew! I’ve been making blocks in groups of four, and machining them on a production line basis.  This works for me, as it breaks up the measuring and cutting time (which I don’t particularly enjoy) with the sewing time (which I do, as the logistics of the production line approach are quite complex and need me to concentrate, but the rewards are far greater!)

I’ve made the majority of the blocks, now.  Here’s a selection of entirely correct ones (four in each colour way).   I have 8 more of these to make, and 4 half square triangle blocks.  That’s a mere smear 96 pieces of fabric to measure, cut, and reorder.  Easy.  That should take no more than three hours of tomorrow, then.  And then I simply have to cut my hearth squares, and put the top together.  So there *should* be a photo of the completed quilt top by the end of the week, all other things being equal!

I’m enjoying my accuracy on this project (she says, taking a huge red flag and waving it defiantly in the face of the bull of fate…).  So far, my triangles all have points, which float correctly (there’s one in the top left corner of the left-most blue block pictured which is *slightly* blunted, but that’s the only one).  My pinwheel points match correctly.  The bad news for my sister is that, if this persists, I may feel the need to enter the finished article into the Festival of Quilts, this year.  It’s not as non-traditional a piece as I might have liked to enter (but I may also put in the Japanese Geek Quilt) but it’s a modern setting of a traditional block… or combination of blocks.  I don’t know.  Will consult with my friends at Rats as Big as Cats and nbnq to see what they think.   But if I do submit it, it will mean poor Sissy has to wait an extra month or two for her wedding present.  Still, I’m on track to deliver it within the first 10 years, so I can’t see she has *much* to complain about!!

Home Alone

The children have gone to their father’s for Christmas, and I am seizing the opportunity, greedily, for some ‘me’ time.  I got a rather fabulous new job this year, which has meant a lot more commuting than I did previously, and that in turn has meant that I don’t have a huge amount of time for sewing, knitting, crochet, relaxing.  So my creative synapses are beginning to feel a little furred up.  Underused.  The chance to spend a week by myself, relaxing and crafting seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

So far, I’ve added the border I mentioned to the Japanese Geek Quilt I made in August.  No pictures, yet.  I’ll wait until I’ve basted and quilted, for that.

But the main thing I want to do is a wedding quilt.  My lovely sister got married in 2004, and I promised to make her a wedding quilt.  I intended to do a combination of the classic double wedding ring and New York beauty patterns, but with the benefit of hindsight, that was a bit beyond my technical ability (or ability to concentrate!) back then.  So the quilt was started, but never finished.  I did some more work on it the following year, but by then I’d gone back to work and didn’t have the necessary time to give it.  So – long story short – I’ve never finished my sister’s wedding present quilt.  I intend to put that right.  I have, finally, abandoned the idea of an ambitious quilt, and intend to do something much simpler.  But until last night, I didn’t really know what.  I could knock up a variation on a strippy quilt in the blink of an eye, but I’ve done lots of strippies, recently, and wanted to do something rather different.  The thing I’ve most enjoyed making, recently, was the granny quilt, and so doing something with triangles rather appealed.  Technical enough to be interesting, but quick to put together.


I’ve been watching Homeland, this last few weeks.  Last night was the season two series finale, much of which was set in a cabin in the woods.  Hanging on the living room wall was a quilt.  A flying geese quilt.  And I thought, hmmm…. I could do something like that.  I quite like the idea of flying geese.  But they’re a bit busy, organised the way they are in the link.  Sissy and her husband are more, um, subdued and restful than that.  So I got to thinking.  And then I did a bit of drawing.  And I reckon something built around a 9″ square block like this one might be interesting.  But with lots of plain white.  Or at least, lots of white on white.  Different whites, I think – not all one, plain and calm fabric.

And then I wondered how they might be arranged… because technically this is more like half square triangles than flying geese.  And I wanted to avoid the busy-ness thing.  And, you know, it’s good to have a plan before you start.  So I did some doodling.  I think the squares will be arranged in blocks of 4, separated by a 3″ sashing, at each corner of which will be a (probably single colour across the face of the quilt) 3″ square.  The blocks of 4 triangle squares will be in different fabrics, but follow a muted green/blue/purple colour scheme, and the little squares which, in my head, are anchors, will be bright.  This (on the left) is my design sketch for this.  The shaded big white squares are my triangular blocks, the plain ones are my white on white blocks, and the red squares are my anchors.  Which may or may not be red.  I don’t know.

Anyway, it’s a lot of thinking and quite a bit of calculation.  And inevitably, there will be an error in it, somewhere, which will mean the design has to be adapted on the hoof.  But I’ve measured and made templates for my triangles, reminded myself how to make quick and easy flying geese, and will try a test square in the morning.

Tomorrow, I’m planning to take the dogs up to the peak district, whether permitting.  But this should, hopefully, be well under way by the time the kids get home.

I’ll keep you posted!

Welcome back!

So, it’s been positively Miss Havisham-like round here since February, hasn’t it??  In my (very slight) defence, I’ve started a new job since last time I posted here, and so crafty stuff has gone on the back burner, rather.

However, I’ve cheated.  This evening, I’ve written up 3 posts which have been bubbling for the last month or so.  I’ve back dated them, so it looks as though they were posted contemporaneously.

So, dust off a chair, make yourself comfortable.  You’ve some catching up to do!!

Japanese geek work

So.  There’s been some stuff in the news and all over Twitter that I wanted to get away from.  And I’m on holiday, and the kids sleep all day on account of being adolescents and overrun with unmanageable hormones.  And the obvious solution to all this is to spend some time in my shed.  Mental health sewing.

There are a number of quilts bumbling around in my head.  I’ve started re-working my sister’s quilt, which has been on the back burner for a number of years.  I originally started it as a wedding gift and for one reason or another – largely due to the technical complexity of the original design idea and the fact I went back to work and didn’t have time to execute it – it’s been languishing.  But I finally have a way of simplifying it, which means unpicking quite a bit of what’s been done, and starting again from scratch.  Which I have now done.  The unpicking part, anyway.  The starting again is for next week!

In the meantime, I’ve been wanting to do something with the Japanese designers.  I love the fabrics produced by Kokka, Echino, Melody Miller.  They are things of utter beauty, and for a long time I’ve wanted to make a quilt wholly out of some of their more graphic pieces.

At the Festival of Quilts, last weekend, I decided to sate this particular ambition.  I told myself that I would spend *all* my FoQ show money on Japanese fabrics.  I would visit the Eternal Maker, and fill my boots.  And so I did.  I intended to sit on the fabrics for a while, and see what happened.

But as I say, there’s been all kinds of stuff that I’ve wanted to hide from.  And there’s been an idea brewing in my head about how to honour these beautiful fabrics.  How to ensure that the prints were *seen* on the face of whatever I made, rather than cut up small and pieced in a traditional way.

So I decided to make a strippy quilt.  I thought if I did stripes of uneven width, I could ensure that the fabrics were represented properly, and the art of them could be admired.

Actually, this did pose some difficulties.  The strippy is easy to put together – no cutting fabric into teeny tiny pieces and re-joining them into bigger blocks, to be joined together to make the quilt top.  But despite this, the overall effect risks looking very busy, and reading incoherently.  But aha! I had thought of that.  I got a plain.  A real, actual plain (where usually, if you scroll through my quilts, you’ll see I normally go for fabrics that ‘read as’ plain).  And I decided to put a bit of plain in every row.

Half a dozen rows in, it became clear that a piece of plain in every row wasn’t going to work – perversely, that just made the plain read as though it was another pattern.  I needed some rows of *mostly* plain, in order to create spaces for your eye to rest as you look at the thing.

Anyway, I cut lots of bits.  Uneven widths.  I didn’t even measure – it was all totally guided by the print on the fabrics.  And I put them together.  And I laid them out on my bed to guage the size, and then I went and made some more strips.

It flew together.  Obviously.  Big pieces, see?  I started it yesterday lunchtime, and by this afternoon Freya and I were laying it on the dining room floor, auditioning rows against each other to determine the final layout.  I find it impossible to look directly at a quilt top and decide whether I like it, at this stage.  I have to work from photos, which means that there are inevitably a lot of photos of potential layouts, and then Freya and I shuffle rows about, and try to make sure there aren’t too many similar pieces too close together.  She usually declares herself satisfied a good while before I do, but I’ve bought her some new Vans this week, so she was obliged to humour me, and persevere!  This is the layout we (I) eventually decided on.

Stitched together, trimmed up and on the bed it looks like this (click on the pictures for a bigger, clearer view)

I love the graphic, stylised nature of these fabrics.  Doing this piece has allowed me to gorge not only on Japanese fabrics (which are coarser than their American counterparts – like a lightweight canvas rather than a dress cotton.  Or perhaps more like a coarse shirt linen…) but it’s given me some 50s gloriousness and speaks to my whole Mad Men obsession. 

I still need to put a border on.  I have an olive green fabric for this, with pale pink polka dots – it’s more in keeping than it sounds.  I think there’s going to be a fairly narrow border at the sides, and a deep one at top and bottom.  The back may well be plain (I’ve never done a plain back before), although I do want to pay a geeky homage to the fabric I’ve used, and work the selvedges into the back.  I’m not sure how to quilt it.  Perhaps I can work out a martini glass design, if I can get access to a longarm machine… not sure I would have the strength to manhandle this through the throat of my machine.  But we’ll see.  Stranger things have happened!

Despite the fact it’s being modelled on a bed (for size) I suspect this might become the living room quilt of choice for this winter. 

In any event, once the border is on, this will go back on hold for a bit I think, while I work on Sissy’s overdue wedding quilt.

In the meantime, can I just pause to point out that this is the first time I have shown you work in progress quilt photos without Buto in them?  Poor little kitty cat.  I do miss her quilt inspection talents!

Festival of Quilts

I love the Festival of Quilts.  Usually.  I come home with hundreds of pounds worth of fabric (and sometimes machinery) that I perhaps didn’t totally need.  I have literally thousands of photos taken at festivals over the years which I still regularly draw on for inspiration.  I meet friends there.  We laugh.  We point.  Sometimes we point *and* laugh.  Honestly.  The quilted bags and waistcoats have to be seen to be believed!

This year, I met up with two friends – lovely Penny from rats as big as cats, and nbnq, who has written a far better review than I’m about to.  We had much to talk about, and we were looking forward to seeing some gorgeous stuff.

We *did* see some gorgeous stuff.  Well.  We saw one gorgeous stuff.  It was Penny’s quilt, which was utterly beautiful and incredibly well executed.  Go and look at the final piece series on her blog and you’ll see snippets of it.  It is jaw-droppingly stunning.

And we saw some other gorgeous stuff, in that there was a Pauline Barnes exhibition.  And her work is amazing.  But it was a professional show, and not part of the Festival, as such.

And the festival? Well, we spotted one *really* odd piece which was clearly made a couple of years ago (I thought it was a rule that entries had to be made within the year?) – and what’s more there was a book on sale at one of the stalls detailing its creation…  We spotted one piece which was clearly made to a pattern from a Jane Brocket book although not, from what we could gather from the catalogue, submitted by Jane Brocket herself (I thought it was another rule that entries had to be original?).  We spotted a number of pieces which were just simply ill advised from almost any conceivable design point of view. 

There was, don’t get me wrong, an awful lot of technically accomplished traditional quilt-making on show.  And I’m sure if traditional quilts were my bag I’d have had a ball.  But they’re not.  And so I really didn’t. 

Perhaps it’s my bad.  Or at least, perhaps it’s the bad of people like me.  People who are technically accomplished but not traditional.  I did mean to submit ‘She Knew the Names of Flowers‘, but I got busy and the deadline got away from me, and one thing and another…

But really.  If this is the future of quilt making then I despair.  I know there are other, better and more dedicated modern quilt makers out there.  I know (from experience) that the judges of this festival don’t speak our language and it can be frustrating submitting entries only to have them dismissed, over looked, or critiqued on the basis of no understanding of the concept whatsoever.  But unless we enter, unless we try to make our views and our styles known, we can’t ever expect any different, can we??

I’ve been joking for some years about making a 3-D quilt.  Quite a graphic one.  I might actually do it, this year. 

Asterix

A friend of mine is moving into his own house, for the first time.  It’s – y’know – one of those complicated situations.  It’s a lovely house, but he’s renting for a while and it won’t be his forever home. I don’t think.  Anyway.  I decided to make a housewarming gift.  Some time ago, my friend was helping his mother clear her attic, prior to selling her own house.  Amidst much excitement, he came across his childhood collection of Asterix books.

When I was in Brussels, fairly recently, I went to the Asterix museum.  I have to admit that, up to that point, I had rather forgotten that Asterix was even a thing.  He’s never been my particular hero of choice.  As a youngster, I was more a Tintin person.  These days, I’d take Lucas North over almost any other.  But when I was wondering what to make my friend, Asterix came to mind.

I had a number of bits of jumper left over from Josh’s quilt and I decided to use the same technique.  Only, I’m not an Asterix expert.  Did I mention?  So I wasn’t sure whether there was/is a definitive image of the snotty little upstart. gallic superstar.  I did what any sensible layabout would do.  I asked Twitter.  Well.  You know what they say about opinions, right?  They’re like ***holes – everyone has one.  I got lots of definitive pictures.  This is the one I went with (or my interpretation, anyway), found by Kitty (@TheCatsDaughter).

He’s quite big.  And none of the jumper pieces *were* all that big.  So I had to improvise. There was a grey cashmere sleeve left.   If I cut the seam out of it (carefully) and opened it out, there was just enough room to fit Asterix onto it.  Well, it was that or draw him again, but smaller.  And that wasn’t going to happen.  So careful snipping of sleeve seams it is.

Then I traced Asterix onto some Sulky Solvy, laid that on top of the Cashmere and pinned it carefully in place.  And then I stuck a couple of old nappy liners behind the cashmere, for proper stabilisation.

Some outlining, some infill.

And off we went.  I like this technique.  It’s reasonably technical, but provided you manage to remember to breathe (and that really is the key!) and keep your shoulders from tensing up, once you get into a rhythm it’s relatively straightforward.  You simply drop the feed dogs on your machine, take the presser foot off so you’re working with a bare needle (mind your fingers!); thread up the bobbin *and* spool with embroidery thread, and use the needle like a colouring pencil.  Two things: first, I use machine embroidery thread in the bobbin as well as the top thread – most books will tell you to use a plain thread or a clear monofil in the bobbin.  I don’t recommend either – plain (white) thread will show through unless you have your tension *precisely* right.  Once you’re free machining, it’s almost impossible to get your tension right, because you’re manually moving the fabric under the needle, and keeping an even pace and direction is not only very nearly impossible; but also rather not the point.  The beauty of the finished effect comes from the variation in texture brought about by changing speed and direction.  So inevitably, your bobbin thread will show through.  And if it’s plain white, that’s going to look pretty horrid.  Monofil isn’t a good substitute because it’s hideously stiff, and rather like sewing with barbed wire. Use embroidery thread. Ideally matching the top thread. The second thing is that you are manually moving the fabric under the needle. You are in total control.  You’re using the needle like a colouring pencil, but instead of moving the pencil, you’re moving the paper.  You need to remember to keep moving it, or nothing happens!   Seems obvious now, sitting here reading this, doesn’t it??  Go experiment: you’ll see exactly what I mean!

Density, texture and ‘subtle’ feathers

You’ll see from the picture above that I did some outlining before I began the infill.  This was a mistake, in retrospect.  It led to some pretty hideous bobbling of fabric in the cheek (and tip of nose in picture, right). Luckily, the embroidery was sufficiently stiff to cover this, but it would have been easier without the outlining.  If you don’t outline, work from the centre outwards, to prevent this kind of bobbling.

This is a cartoon, so it relied on block colour rather than subtlety of shading, but there was plenty of opportunity to vary density and texture – and the feathers of his helmet, in particular, gave me an interesting opportunity for subtlety (which I’m not entirely sure I achieved!)

Shading and the impression of movement of fabric across his body was just achieved by increasing the density and length of the stitch.  You can increase length by moving the fabric faster and/or decreasing acceleration on the presser foot.  Combinations of both allow you to achieve some shaping of – in this case – the belly area (left).

There was a *lot* of flesh in this piece, and I have to admit there were a couple of points when I was so bored I thought I might just leave the rest in outline only.  But I’m pleased I persevered.  It looks better for actually being finished, I think!

So, at the end, I tore off the exposed nappy liner and gave the finished piece a good soak to dissolve the Solvy.  And then I had a slightly misshapen sleeve to make my final cushion cover out of.  Did I mention this was going to be a cushion cover?   Then I needed to find something with which to make a back… fortunately there were two bits of another jumper which just about did the job.  So here’s the finished thing.

Of course, that’s not the size of any pre-made cushion pad known to humankind, so I’ve had to order a custom made pad to fill it.  Which I hope might even arrive, some day soon… but in the meantime, here’s a woolly Asterix cushion cover to feast your eyes on and keep a bachelor pad kind of homey.

The Flip Side

Move over, rain…

You are my sun. Today, you are a watery, wintery luminescence. Weak and uncertain, you break briefly through the cloud and fog to bathe the ice encrusted puddles in your yellowy gladness before the dark overwhelms you, and frost reclaims the fields.

But soon, soon my darling you will blaze with Mediterranean glory, scintillating the rippling rhythms of the sea, which lap at your worship. The entire world will circle you, bedazzled. You will inspire acts of wild awe and absolute devotion.

So cast off the winter, belovely. The flip side of darkness is light. Your light.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Another 100 Word challenge. The prompt this week was “the flip side”, and not being a pancake fan, I wanted to steer clear of that allusion!! But so much is changing around my little world at the moment: not only the season, but friends, work, at home…. So I got to thinking about how things are changing, and the flip side of now is next…

She Knew The Names of Flowers

I’ve finished the Granny quilt.  It is in the washing machine as I type.

I’m really pleased with it.  I had intended to shadow quilt across the diagonals but, as I’ve mentioned before, the strips of memory fabric were uneven widths, and so the diagonals didn’t quite line up well enough.  So in the end, I’ve shadow quilted down the columns of lemony sashing.

I worked in phrases which have occurred to me, as I was putting it all together.  I worked them in yellow thread, which shows clearly on some rectangles, and less clearly on others.  My clever friend Faye (@poppypurple) suggested it was rather like I was whispering secrets to Granny, and I like that idea very much.

The quilt is formally called “She knew the names of flowers” which always used to impress me as a small child – she could be relied on to identify a lady’s slipper from a cow parslip at the drop of a hat, which always seemed to me to be a bit akin to witchcraft (well, maybe not those two specifically, but you know…)  Some of the memories are quite general – like watching Val Doonican together (the deal was if I watched Val Doonican with her, then she would let me watch The Professionals *and* the Dukes of Hazzard!).  Some are very specific, like watching her brush her hair (it was long, very long, and blonde) and plait it ready for bed.

There are her addresses, artefacts I remember from her houses (an elephant’s foot stool, some beaded tribal stools, a tiger skin rug).  There are things we used to do: going to church on Saturday to arrange the flowers for Sunday’s services (which we never went to) and then going to the sweet shop on the way home.  Some things we did together  – knitting, crochet, walking her dog, Honey, in a field littered with bomb holes near my mother’s childhood house.  And in the border, at the foot, her name and dates.

The back is made from the lemony sashing fabric, and the green Lotte Jansdottir pictured above. The batting is a really soft bamboo – I’ve not worked with bamboo before and it worked incredibly easily both by hand and in the machine.  I marked up the locations for the memories by scattering safety pins across the surface of the quilt, and pinning them where they lay.  Each pin got a memory.

The memories were free machine stitched.  I had to take the presser foot off the machine in order to be able to watch what I was doing which did, inevitably, result in a stitch through my finger.  Inevitably.  They’re useful things, those presser feet… Unless you need to see what you’re doing!

The children have watched the quilt grow with interest.  Every so often they come and pick over it, and find a phrase, and ask me.  Some of the questions are quite funny: “Mummy, who’s David Soul?”  Funny what they don’t know… (She liked David Soul, but not David Essex!)  Freya’s favourite is the “little yellow mini”.  Josh’s is “Evelyn Nightingale and Tutenkhamen”.

The binding is a blue fabric with white dragonflies scattered across it.  It seemed appropriate.  I’ll take some photos when it comes out of the dryer.  But tonight, I’m going to take my granny quilt to bed.  It’s going to be lovely and snuggly warm!