Monday 30 November 2015

Wild Geese

So this is my latest quilt which I sweated over solidly for the last week and a half, partly out of a mistaken conviction that Friday was 30th November  (the deadline for Quiltcon entry).  The quilt was made using all but a few scraps of the fabric I received for taking part in the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge (some for the geese and the rest for the scrappy binding), and I'm entering it in that category at Quiltcon.

The quilt is a play on the idea of the flying goose block.  I had in my mind one of the beautiful skeins of geese you see flying south across the winter sky.  The main difficulty, which only a quiltmaker would understand, was how to position the seams.   It looks simple, but the construction was complicated as none of the geese are in alignment with each other.

I emphasised the dual nature of the geese by leaving the blocks unquilted except round the triangles to hold them in place, which meant burying about 140 thread ends.    Because the geese don't line up I had to quilt it in several sections - there are only two places I could  sew right down from top to bottom.

The thing I am most proud of is persevering in the face of an ongoing conviction that it wasn't going to work out, especially when I realised that the back was going to show through to the front and I had to resort to using two layers of batting.  All the things I make go like that - I'm sure I'm not alone! Anyway, I'm currently high on quilt completion euphoria, but I don't want to look too carefully at the other #michaelmillerchallenge quilts on Instagram as they are really wonderful.

It's the first time I have ever entered anything I have made for show.   For anyone who doesn't know, it's juried entry; that is, your quilt is considered and might be rejected at the application stage, so I'm hoping for the best.    I will be a bit disappointed if it is not accepted, but on the other hand I have made a quilt I wanted to make and learned a lot in the process.

PS does anyone know what to do about a crinkly bottom? :-)

Saturday 28 November 2015

I've done quite a lot of relief and intaglio printing over the years but my one experience of screen printing a long time ago was a bit of a disaster. Recently though I've started thinking about transferring ideas to fabric (partly inspired by the work of Elizabeth at Bottle Branch) so I wanted to come back to it and have another go.

This weekend I was lucky to go on a day course learning to screen print on fabric with Karen Lewis, at Jo myBearpaw's shop.

During the day we learned how to make a straightforward screen that would be easy to assemble at home, and had plenty of time to design and print two different patterns.

It was fun to see such a variety of styles among the group - you can see us, and our work, on Karen's blog!

If you can't get to one of her courses, the process is described in her book Screen Printing at Home, which is full of inspiration.

(Amazon affiliate link)

Karen was a lovely and enthusiastic teacher and the whole process was completely addictive.  I came away completely buzzing with ideas and can't wait to do more.  I have a plan for the trees too.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Four in Art 4: Birch

With many apologies again to my Four-in-Art friends for my lateness, I'm dropping in to share my quilt for this quarter, Birch. Our group has been working this year on the theme of Literature, and my fourth quilt is inspired by Anna Karenina by Tolstoy.  It's a really wonderful, atmospheric novel, full of the most human characters (and, bonus, its a whole lot easier to read than War and Peace).

I wanted to make a quilt about the power of a book to evoke a particular image or feeling.  I last read Anna Karenina quite a long time ago - on the Trans-Siberian railway, in midwinter - and the image in my mind has always been of snowy birch forests.  I had a look back at the text of the book when I started my quilt and could only find one reference to birches, so my memory of the book is probably all muddled up with memories of the journey, but never mind!  That's the image I had in my head.

I wanted to make each of my four quilts for this series progressively more abstract.  This quilt has turned out less abstract than I intended, but it's still ambiguous.  It could be a forest of birches,

or it could be the bark on one birch trunk.

It is heavily quilted to suggest more trees, or bark texture.

The 'coloured' strips are the same fabric as the body of the quilt - I cut a large section and ran backwards and forwards with variegated aurifil before cutting and piecing it.

To be honest, I'm not sure this quilt is really finished, but it completes my four on the theme of "Literature" with Four in Art.

The Moors: inspired by the works of the Bronte sisters, about the use of
weather and climate in literature to heighten mood

Haiku: inspired by a poem by Basho, about deceptive simplicity and
whether we have to 'get' all the references to enjoy a work

Mrs Midas: inspired by the poem by Carol Ann Duffy, about vivid imagery

We have a shared blog here, and you can find the other quilters here:

Betty on Flickr:
Elizabeth at Occasional Piece
Nancy at  Patchwork Breeze
Rachel at The Life of Riley
Simone at Quiltalicious
Susan at PatchworknPlay

We are a friendly group, who all have very different styles and approaches, who come up with an overall annual theme to work on, sometimes with quarterly sub-themes for extra inspiration. The group is kept to a size where we are close enough for us to communicate easily with each other, but a spot sometimes opens up so if you're interested in joining let me know in a comment below.

All members have to do is:
  • Desire to expand their creativity. 
  • Have a body of work that members can review, preferably a blog.  
  • Make a year commitment to the group and do their best to make deadlines unless some crazy life occurrence happens. 
  • Be willing to review other Four in Art work and leave a comment within the first week of publishing.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Four in Art

The Knotted household has been living in chaos since a leak through one of our ceilings back in the summer.  We are almost back to normal, but dealing with the fall-out means my contribution to Four-in-Art this quarter is going to be delayed. Thanks to my fellow Four-in-Arters for being so kind and understanding!

Please do visit the other participants at the links below.  This is our last quilt of the year inspired by the theme of 'Literature'.  Each of us has taken this theme and run with it in our own way, and seeing how everyone else has responded to it has been such a lot of fun.

Betty at a Flickr site:
Elizabeth at Occasional Piece
Nancy at  Patchwork Breeze
Rachel at The Life of Riley
Simone at Quiltalicious
Susan at PatchworknPlay

Saturday 1 August 2015

Mrs Midas: A Four in Art Quilt #3

I'm here to share my latest contribution to Four in Art.  I'd like to introduce Mrs Midas:

Mrs Midas
A Four-in-Art Quilt, August 2015
No 3 in the 'Literature' series

This quilt was inspired by the poem by Carol Duffy, which you can read in full here.  The poem comes from a collection called The World's Wife, in which Duffy examines, sometimes very comically, the lives of the women behind a collection of famous men.  Mrs Midas is a poem from the point of view of the wife of a modern Midas, "the woman who married the fool who wished for gold".

It's full of beautiful and vivid imagery, and terrible sadness.  Unable to embrace his wife any longer Midas has to move out to their "caravan in the wilds, in a glade of its own".

"You knew you were getting close.  Golden trout on the grass...And then his footprints glistening next to the river's path."

The colours that the poem evokes are what influenced my quilt - I really wanted to get across the feeling of the gold, beautiful but unexpected in contrast to the greens of the grass and the wooded glade.  It is made using various kona and klona cottons and some gold silk dupion, and quilted simply in the ditch.  I had quite clearly in mind some ideas - the (rather wobbly) flying geese which represent Midas's footprints in the grass, and the stylised applique leaf - and I knew I wanted to make an improv quilt, and for it to be abstract, which fits in with my plan to make each quilt in the series progressively more so.  (My previous two quilts are here.)

I'm not satisfied with the pictures of this quilt and I want to take it outdoors when the weather is more reliable, but I do love it. There are many practical details I would fix but I managed to get out what I had in my head!

Watch out for the reveal of our final quilts on 1 November but meantime please do visit the other participants and check out their quilts for this round of the series.

Elizabeth at OP Quilt  
Betty at a Flickr site:
Jennifer at Secondhand Dinosaur 
Nancy at  Patchwork Breeze
Rachel at The Life of Riley
Simone at Quiltalicious
Susan at PatchworknPlay

Monday 25 May 2015


My tiny studio (yay!!!) is still being partitioned off, and all my fabric is spread all over the house while the great bedroom re-organisation takes place so I don't have a project on the go at the moment. On the other hand, I'm spending a lot of time just thinking and looking and making plans. 

I was out of the city this afternoon for an appointment and it's a beautiful day so I just had to pull over onto the verge and go for a walk.

The rape flowers have a disconcerting scent - it's nice, but it's definitely pollen-y with an undercurrent of wee.

The broom just smells glorious.

Friday 8 May 2015

Quilts for Nepal?

I received this by email and checked with Tikki that it was okay to post it here - just in case anyone has a spare quilt to send:-)   In my travelling days I went to Nepal - a beautiful and welcoming country, and it's just awful what has happened there.

From Tikki Patchwork in Kew Gardens

URGENT APPEAL FOR NEPALThrough my daughter's school we have managed to organise space on board a flight to Nepal next week on Wednesday - this is an amazing opportunity to help, but there is very little time!
The following items are needed:
Warm adult clothing
Blankets and Quilts
Tents and sleeping bags
If you can donate any of these items, please bring or post them to Tikki by Tuesday 12th May by 2pm and I will make sure they get to the collection point that afternoon in time for the aid flight.
Your help will no doubt be much appreciated!
Thank you in advance.
Tiina at Tikki
293 Sandycombe Road, Kew Gardens, West London (Surrey), TW9 3LU, England, UK

Monday 4 May 2015

Big News

I have something to tell you!

As you know I was faced with the tempting thought of turning our junk/guest room into a workroom for me or on the other hand giving it up to Sprog 1 so that she could have a bedroom of her own.

Obviously I did the decent thing:-)   But then an opportunity came up that was so perfect that I had to jump on it, although to be truthful I dithered about it so long that it almost passed me by and then jumped just in time!

I live in what was once quite an industrial part of the city, and not too far from me is a factory which has been empty for a while.  The owners have decided to rent it out as an arts hub, with studio spaces, offices and a cafe/gallery/performance space - and I have rented a studio!

I've looked enviously at other people's workrooms for so long - if you are like me and have to make things at one end of the dining table I'm sure you understand my excitement!  The bit I have rented is a small space - and I mean really small - which I will be able to pay for by carrying on with some of my other work, and initially I'm only committed to it for a very short rental period so I can treat it as an experiment while I see if I can actually make anything that anyone would want to buy.

I haven't moved in yet, because the partitions are still going up, but should be in mid May.  There are girders too!

Friday 1 May 2015

Four in Art 2: Haiku

This year I am so enjoying being part of Four in Art - a group of quilters making small (12x12") quilts inspired by an annual theme.   This year's theme is 'Literature'  and we are revealing our quilts for the second quarter today (you can see my first quarter quilt here).   Each quilter interprets the theme in their own way and in their own style, and it's really interesting to see how they all differ, so please do visit the others:

Betty at her flickr page
Elizabeth at
Jennifer at her flickr page
Nancy at  Patchwork Breeze
Rachel at The Life of Riley
Simone at Quiltalicious
Susan at PatchworknPlay

My quilt is called Haiku.  It is inspired by a poem by one of the most famous haiku poets, Basho:

An old pond
A frog jumps in
The sound of water

I wanted to make a very simple quilt which reflects the deceptively simple form of the haiku and the wealth of meaning in it. Some of this meaning is contained in cultural and literary references which are lost to non-Japanese readers, but we can still understand some of the message and find the poem beautiful.

I think that the best literature can be appreciated on many different levels - it should be possible to take something away even if only that it was a good story.

The little square, in lacquer red, refers to the chop or seal used as a signature in Japan.  I wanted it to look roughly woodcut, and used fused appliqué to make it look as if it was stamped on.  It has no readable meaning - but it is an essential part of the composition.

The quilt is made of silk and the overlapping concentric circles are quilted with Japanese sashiko thread.

12 x 12 inches
Sashiko thread quilting on silk

[updated to change generic links to ones for the relevant posts]

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Very Berry Handmade ATC Swap: Home Sweet Home

Yesterday I posted a pic of the wonderful Artist Trading Card I received from my partner in this round of the swap organised by Ali Very Berry Handmade.  The theme for this round is "Home Sweet Home", and here is the card I made for my own recipient.  It is called "Waiting to be Let In".

I hope my partner likes cats!

Do check out the other cards in the flickr group - they are really amazing.  It is hard to remember that these cards are only 2.5 x 3.5 inches - it's a fun constraint, and it's always fascinating to see how each member of the group takes the current theme and runs with it in their own way.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

I was so grateful for all the helpful (and very tactful) comments about the spare room dilemma #firstworldproblem - of course it did have to become a room for eldest child.  She is ecstatic at the idea and already planning the purchase of many things made of coloured plastic to put in it and I'm currently distracted by moving bits of furniture around, and trying to find a home for the Mountains of Stuff.  

We've also just been on holiday, have lots of photos of stately homes and daffodils to be sorted through, and there are always many other excuses for not managing to do anything remotely creative, but I did get back and find the results of someone else's creativity waiting for me and I'm so happy.

I've been taking part in the Very Berry Handmade ATC swap again, and this is what I received:

Isn't it fantastic?  I really love it as it reminds me of many happy childhood holidays.  Look at the wee sheep! The theme of this swap is Home Sweet Home, and I would happily live in this house on a hillside, waking up to the sound of baa-ing lambs, although my husband would go mad if there wasn't a coffee shop nearby with good internet access.

The ATC arrived along with a card by the same artist, Sue Forey.

Sue has a shop on Etsy  and it is worth checking out for more of her beautiful work.  I feel very lucky to have a little piece of my own!

Now that I've received this the pressure is on, but my own card will be on its way to its recipient shortly.

Friday 20 March 2015

The eclipse...

....was interesting, in a theoretical kind of way, as viewed from the inside of my cardboard box, but outside the box the morning light was beautiful and the clouds were rather pretty!

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Moral dilemma of the day

Turn spare/junk/play/guest room into:

a) room of her own for eldest child, or
b) sewing heaven with incidental guest bed

What would you do?!

Friday 20 February 2015

Sea Glass Waves

I'm linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts with a finish today.

This quilt started as an experiment a couple of years ago.  I fished it out of my basket of other experiments-which-haven't-come-to-anything-and-are-looking-at-me-reproachfully and cut it up with no plan, other than to see what would happen.

I re-ordered the cut up strips a little, and added linen in between and all around - but I wanted the original pieced strips to still look somehow linked so I added more quilting which runs right across. Then I quilted a series of boxes round the central panel using 28 weight Aurifil, a beautiful weight to quilt with if you want some definition to the quilting.

Finally I raided my hoard of beach glass and sewed pieces all around in a gap in the quilting, using an Aurifil embroidery floss, and this really beautiful hand dyed skein of No 5 perle I found at a quilt show.

If I do something like this again I might try piecing in, or appliqueing, little chips of coloured fabric, instead of the glass.

The floss has a lovely sheen.

I really love the texture of this quilt.

I made a hanging rod out of an old  piece of plumber's copper pipe - I hacksawed off a suitable length, polished it up a little with Brasso leaving it just a bit tarnished,  and super-glued a marble in each end.  I sewed tabs for the quilt, but they are only pinned on.

It was difficult to get a picture because it kept blowing away despite my helper's best efforts!

Actually though I think you get a better idea of its nature close up.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

WIP Wednesday

Having such fun working on this mini quilt - more about it here.  I solved the quilting dilemma by quilting round and round the central panel in a series of 'boxes'.  I've also added some more quilting in coloured threads which runs across all the strips, linking them together. 

Nearly done.

Linking up with Lee today for WIP Wednesday.


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