Monday, 1 August 2016

Four in Art 3: Colour/Purple Passion - "Anemones"

This is the third quarter's Four-in-Art quilt reveal.  Themes for the year and for the particular quarter are suggested by members of the group and the theme for this year is "Colour" and the sub-theme for this quarter is "Purple Passion".

When I first read that this was the quarterly theme I was a bit stumped.  I wondered at first if this was because I didn't like the colour purple - I don't wear it, and I could only find one thing in my house that colour.   But the one thing I have is a little coloured drawing of flowers that my mother did for me. This made me remember that I do actually love purple - in nature, especially in flowers including hardy geraniums, perennial wallflowers and so on. I currently work as a gardener,  so flowers are a big part of my life; you could say, a passion.  With this in mind, I decided to do a flower-inspired quilt, using anemones as my flower.

Another picture highlighting the texture of the quilting and embroidery.

The rationale behind this quilt is that it follows on from my first two for this year's "colour" theme.   My first one was monochrome black and white.  The second quilt progressed to one colour and worked with several variations on that.  With this third quilt I thought I'd expand further on the theme by using purple, the primary colours it is made from (ie blue and red), together with its opposite on the colour wheel (yellow). Anemones were a great flower because the shades they come in made it possible to use several purples containing different amounts of blue and red.

My other FIA quilts have generally been abstract in design and I had been thinking about what an art quilt is, and worrying if I was being artistic enough for the group.  I looked on the Internet (as you do) to see if I could find a definition of "art quilts" which matched the way I think of them and needless to say there was a lot of variation in opinion.

Apart from the fact that it explores the colours in the way that I described this quilt actually has less 'meaning' than the more abstract quilts I have made.  I don't think an art quilt has to be pictorial, but one of the aims of Four in Art is to challenge ourselves and I really just wanted to use fabric and thread in a way that was a bit painterly and impressionistic, for example I tried to piece the background in a way that would be the fabric equivalent of broad, thick brushstrokes - it is made out of lots of scraps of 'low volume' fabrics fused to a backing fabric and quilted into place.  All the scraps have raw edges which I hoped would add to the textured effect.

I outlined stems and leaves with machine embroidery using colour in the same way as I would in a watercolour painting and I used shot cotton for the flowers, because it has a lovely sheen and catches the light beautifully although it is difficult to capture the full glory of it in a photograph.  The different colours in the warp and weft make it far less 'flat' than a standard coloured fabric.

Fused applique
Raw-edge applique
Machine embroidery
Hand embroidery using French knots in Perle 8
Straight line quilting
Background: Quilting cotton
Flowers and jug: Oakshott shot cotton

I enjoyed thinking about and making this quilt so much and am always so happy to be part of this group.  I am looking forward to seeing how the others have treated the theme.

We have a blog, Four-in-Art Quilts, but you can find the other Four-in-Arters here!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Be Happy

It's been a really up and down month.  My cat died and I was really miserable!  I had him for nineteen years which is a very long time and he was my friend through so many life events and kept me company, often lying on my works in progress as cats do.

He was ill for a couple of weeks and all my energy was taken up with worrying about him, so the day after he died I was sniffing away and feverishly trying to finish Six Coffees and a Tea, take photographs of it and blatt it up onto the internet in time to make the deadline for entry to the Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge that evening.  The entries for the challenge were amazing - you can see them on Instagram #umbrellaprintstrimmingschallenge, and on the Umbrella Prints Pinterest board - and you can believe that I was surprised and quite a bit madly happy when my quilt won the quilt section. Hooray!!!!

I am very excited about the prize, which is my choice of products from the Umbrella Prints store.   I enjoyed using the Trimmings pack in my quilt; they are beautiful fabrics and organic as well and I am looking forward to making more Umbrella Prints projects.

In the meantime, I have been making (or trying to make) a card for the latest Very Berry Handmade ATC swap. Like an idiot I managed to burn the first one with my iron!   It burned right through some of the stitches and left big scorch marks. Doh!  I decided to pretend that it looked vintage and finished it off but I couldn't really send it to my partner so here is Mk 2 - the theme this time round is 'Say Something' and I was thinking what more could you wish anyone than this?

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Umbrella Prints Trimmings Contest: Six Coffees and a Tea

I've just checked to make sure that it is still 31 May somewhere in Australia, and so at the last minute I'm posting my entry to the challenge!

I ordered a lovely pack of trimmings from Umbrella Prints with a view to entering the contest.

(Picture credit: Umbrella Prints)

I had been thinking of how to showcase the pieces, and when they arrived I immediately thought of my collection of vintage coffee pots, which are decorated with patterned panels.

Here is my entry:

The pots are set against a background of recycled duvet cover, and the quilt is bound with some gingham I found in a charity shop - this seemed suitable for a vintage-inspired quilt that was all about using up what you have!

 My favourite coffee pot:

Edited to add: I pieced the pots just by cutting, sewing and trimming them as I went along, so they are more or less improvised though I used freezer paper to make templates for a few of the fiddlier sections.  I am irritatingly spacially challenged when it comes to matching angled seams.

The steam is freemotion quilted with Aurifil wool.

Thank you umbrella prints for all the fun!

Friday, 13 May 2016


Now that I know that my partner has got the parcel I sent her, I can tell you about #bigstitchswap2. For this swap you have to make something the size of a mini quilt, cushion cover, pouch or bag and include an element of hand stitching.  There is some amazing creativity from people taking part and beautiful makes which you can check out on Instagram.  

My partner posted this image, rather than a mosaic, as her inspiration pic:

and included Alison Glass in her favourite fabric designers.

This was my first big swap and it's quite scary making something of this scale for someone else, but I stalked her Pinterest account a bit and decided to make her a mini quilt with a back so it could be used as a cushion if she wanted, and to include a rainbow collection of colours, taking into account the fact that she didn't like red as a focal colour.

I used a selection of Alison Glass fabrics to make cathedral windows on a background of Oakshott cotton, sashed with black Essex linen, and the corner pieces are Robert Kaufman solids.

I quilted round the centre panel with black perle cotton and the corner pieces are quilted with matching colours, and I tried to funk it up a bit with a rainbow collection of buttons sewn on using a fancy stitch.  By the time I was done I really wanted to keep it.

I made an envelope back out of very bright fuschia pink and yellow and sent it off with a couple of little extras including the thread she posted so she can make her own project, wrapped round a hedgehog!  

Unfortunately I made the stupid mistake of mis-spelling her name with an H which occurred to me just before I handed the parcel over at the post office so I had to write an apologetic note on the outside of the parcel and hoped she would forgive me!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Show and Tell

Despite the current traditional Scottish weather of four seasons in one day my paid gardening work is picking up again after the winter so I have fallen a bit behind on blogging.  It's a bit easier to keep up with Instagram (where I am @knottedcotton) so apologies if you have seen the following already.

April was quite a productive month as I rashly signed up for two swaps as well as needing to complete my Four-in-Art quilt.  First up was the #veryberryhoopswap on instagram. It was a small swap in more ways than one - small group, and we had to make a mini hoop, maximum size 5cm.  I haven't received my own yet but here's the one I made for my partner.

She liked lots of things, including blues and greens and the sea, which I tried to capture with this rustic embroidery.  I've got used to doing little pictures for Artist Trading Cards, but the tininess of this was a challenge to me and a sign that I should be wearing my specs more often instead of holding things at arms length like an old lady.  You can see how small it is from the pic of it nestling in my sea glass collection.  I made a little loop to hang the hoop from and my partner kindly said she liked it.

I also took part in the second Big Stitch Swap - my parcel is on its way to my partner, and hopefully one is winging its way here, so more about that soon!

Then a very loved friend was doing exams so I made her a good luck card.   It's about six inches on the longest side - the little birds came from an Aviary selvedge, I think, and are really tiny.

Finally, my geek husband's birthday laptop cover which of course I had to wait till Star Wars day (May the fourth be with you) to show you.   We are big Star Wars fans in this house.  It's lined with both batting and fleece so his beloved technology should be well-padded and cosy.   I managed to get the pattern to line up, I was quite pleased!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Four in Art: Colour & Music - Rhapsody in Blue

Welcome to the latest reveal for Four-in-Art.  We are a group of quiltmakers who take turns to choose an annual theme as inspiration for a quarterly quilt.  Our theme for this year's quilts is 'Colour', and we have added a quarterly sub-theme - this time it's 'Music'.

These were great themes to think about.  They make an interesting combination because there is one particular form of synaesthesia where music and colour are linked and particular keys or sounds are experienced in colour.  While I was thinking about this my daughter's piano teacher mentioned in passing that she associates keys with colours - for example C major is red and gold.  The colour/music relationship in synaesthesia would make a lovely theme for a quilt and I'm keeping that in the back of my mind!

However my first Four-in-Art quilt for the 'Colour' theme explored the possibilities of monochrome black and white and for the second quilt I was interested in then moving on to one colour and focussing on that. I thought I would choose a piece of music and try to express the mood of it in a quilt.  The obvious choice was Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin which is one of my favourite pieces.   The choice of colour was already in the title, and so I just had to think about the images it evokes.

Gershwin described it as "a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness".   It's been used as soundtrack music in the films Manhattan and The Great Gatsby but even before I saw them it sounds to me as if it opens on a big city at night - it sounds decadent and seductive and busy.    In the first performance of Rhapsody in Blue Gershwin improvised some of his playing and so I decided to make an improvised quilt with the idea of a night-time cityscape in mind.

Here is Rhapsody in Blue.

I know there is a pictorial quilt in me but at the moment I'm quite interested in making quilts which could be abstract or have a meaning.  In this quilt the flying geese could represent roofs, the gold squares lit windows and the circle could be a moon. The odd shape is a motif from an art deco building contemporary with the music and I liked it because it could also represent a trumpet which plays one of the themes.

I used shot cottons in various colours but where the warp thread is always blue and supplemented it with all that was left of some treasured gold metallic silk for city sparkle.   The quilt is partly pieced with added fused applique.   

 I quilted in the ditch, and around the central panel.  I thought I should stop there but am tempted to go back in again and do some more quilting round the shapes - there is always the fear of making things worse though!

We have a blog, Four-in-Art Quilts, but please do visit the other Four-in-Arters here!
Simone (not taking part this month)

Thursday, 31 March 2016


 So little time, so many quilts - seem to be finding inspiration in all sorts of odd places this week. 


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