Friday, 31 January 2014


There is one 2013 Journal Quilt I really like.   It needs to go on the wall, it makes me smile.

I need a stretched canvas.   Problem the JQ is not a standard size.  


Find some suitable wood for framing
Ask my man to find his chop saw, dust it down, and do the necessary
Stretch some thickish cotton over frame and give it a liberal coating of gesso

It was very white.   A coat of magenta livened it up

what about a little decoration on the side?

the result

Ahhh! India - mixed media collage

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Kurta Quilt

One year and one month ago, during a quiet spell between Christmas and New Year, I felt the need to make a quilt.    Old kurtas (tunics) worn on my travels in India were chopped up (prepared), and the stash of bits and pieces of block printed fabrics hauled out of various boxes and bags.    Hmmmm, quite a pile!   For the sashing, a beautiful soft calico from Rajasthan.

The block consists of a square on point and four triangles to make a square.    Quite a common block in the West, and also in India (with embellishments).   This quilt has been in my head for years, time to make it a reality!

The idea was to put the blocks together by machine.   Simple machine quilting and, a voila,
it would be finished.    The Indian Stitching fairies had other ideas.

the finished quilt top, wadding and backing
(held together with the wonderful 505 spray)
27 January 2013

I have to admit to attacking the making of this quilt in a rather haphazard way!   No starting in the middle and working my way to the edges, the quilting fairies were having fun, and I was getting excited as the quilt slowly came to life.

The shape of one of the applique flowers did not please me.  Perhaps a little stitching around the edge might help?  It looked fabulous.  Ah, there are one or two of these on the quilt, and what about the squares?

A little stitching in the ditch around a few blocks, then the compulsion to hand stitch.
Back to machine quilting which meant there were a few more blocks to stitch, and so on.

The centre of the blocks quilted in the ditch were now crying out for a little something.
Out with the needle and thread again.

And so the year passed with the quilt never far away.    It kept me warm during the cold winter of 2013, indeed this year too.   It kept me company if I happened to be somewhere with time to spare - stitch, stitch.   Five blocks are dedicated to Annalise my chiropractor.
After my 'sports injury' I spent many a happy hour listening to Radio 4 and, yes, stitching.
It was three weeks before I could walk comfortably, let alone drive.

Ben became interested in my mad obsession.  What was I knitting?   His other Grandma does a lot of this.   We discussed 'sewing'.   He 'helped' me with straightening the border.


detail of Indian applique squares, stitching and border
I used the odds and ends of my hand dyed threads for
quilting and embroidery    any thread left on the
needle was used up in the border

sashing with applique squares and applique flower with tiny shisha

the label

So, it's done.    Already twitchy fingers. This was possibly the longest time I have spent making and finishing a  quilt.

One or two things to catch up with, then I can delve into my boxes of odds and ends again. 
Do you find the volume of scrap/recyclable fabric never seems to diminish?   Does it secretly multiply?!!

Monday, 27 January 2014


A little break  from grey skies, wind and rain.   The sun is shining, which makes taking photos a doddle.

I have been busy stitching on the Kurta quilt.   Binding is now on, it just needs hemming, a job for spare minutes.   Determined to finish it before the end of the month.   I'11 post the finished quilt towards the end of the week.    Nothing like a double deadline.

Meanwhile the thread dyeing fest is on going, on days when I can see what colours I've mixed.   The heater in the conservatory makes a little difference, from freezing to slightly cold.   My dyes and batched threads come into my room, just to keep them warm.

the first batch

I'll be back in the dye pots this week


A few years ago we spent a week in north Goa.   Nearby was Ajanta with it's weekly market.
Lots of Banjara work for sale.  Yummy.

Banjara squares

Banjara man's belt - detail
it measures 80  x 16 cm

During the season Lamani (sub caste of Banjara) travel from Kanartaka to Goa, the boys working in the beach shacks and the women selling textiles, beads, etc to tourists.

Having lunch at our favourite beach shack one of the boys just had to inspect my purchases.  He told me his mother did this kind of stitching, and taught him.   No mention of girls here!   They kept close to their temporary homes

So, next day we took the bus to the nearby town.  In the market fabric was purchased, along with thread and needles.   Not quite so easy as popping into a quilting shop.   Needles were the most difficult.   Several ladies, sitting on cloths, produced tins containing needles, just had to find the right tin with the right size.

Back at our hotel I thought a little practice on the technique might be a good idea.   Taking inspiration from the belt, I marked out the gird with soap, and started stitching.

this is as far as I got
I unearthed this little treasure whilst looking for something else!

On the beach next morning my little piece was greeted with cries of "Kanarta!" so I guess I got something right.   I was joined by eight Lamani boys, ages ranging from eight to 18.   We sat and stitched, talked and laughed.    A fabulous opportunity to watch and learn.    

Friday, 17 January 2014

Here we are more than half way through January.   The grey wet weather seems to have merged the days.    

Last Thursday was the first day of 'term' with my stitching friends at Walford Mill.   It was great to meet up again and catch up whilst stitching away.

the River Allen had spread itself

over fields and the walkway on the Mill side

the courtyard with tables and chairs sitting in water

a view of the bridge  the river is almost up to the arches

Fortunately the inside of the Mill is dry, which was good especially as a new
exhibition 'Tactile Textiles' opened on Saturday.   As the title suggests,
you can touch all the exhibits.

now for some colour

although the garden is sodden, the plants are very confused
this rose was in tight bud before Christmas and now it has
opened giving a lovely splash of colour

for years I have been trying to buy a copy of this book with 
no success.  On a whim, I searched Amazon.  Yes there it was.  
Ralli Quilts from Pakistan and India.   Very interesting.  
It covers the history of the people, ralli quilt making, and 
the historical motifs used.   

 and, finally

a string of elephants for a forthcoming workshop

Monday, 6 January 2014

between the storms

We set out early Sunday morning to the beach at Sandbanks.  No wind, or rain, and Mr. Ben had energy to burn.  The tide was high, white horses on the sea, the beach littered with shells.    


dam building

a very wintry sun, but sun nevertheless

and the little waves kept rolling in

Back in the studio today.    Making a To Do List.
Apart from stitching the Kurta Quilt (the finish is in sight!)
the only creative activity was cooking.

Must sign up for the 2014 Journal Quilts.   Organise the 
Summer Workshop programme.   Get the dye pots out.
Yarns and fabrics to dye.  Which reminds me, there is
another item for the list, and little heater for the 
conservatory.   It is too cold to think out there!

wishing you all a very happy and creative 2014