I wish you all a happy and productive year ahead but most of all a healthy one.
I am sorry I have disappeared for so long. In late November I travelled up to central Scotland to see some friends that I’ve known since I was twelve. I had a wonderful time but started to feel unwell almost immediately I got home. It had been years since I had a cold or any flu symptoms but these were so severe and went on so long that I had a PCR test, afraid it might be Covid. The results came back negative, so I seemed to have some kind of mega cold. Perhaps I had self isolated for so long that I had no defence I against what was waiting for me outdoors. I was not completely over it by Christmas Day, and though much better by New Year’s Day, a persistent cough still kept me up at night.
My kids came up for a visit on the 4th and stayed until the 7th which I had long looked forward to, but it is only now that I am able to put the whirlwind of Christmas and New Year behind me and relax and try to recover some of the energy I had at the beginning of November.
I feel curiously dislocated from everything, as if the world has zoomed on without me and I can’t catch up. The last sewing I did seems so long ago. I felt too unwell to read at first but then suddenly had a huge desire to read and bought a rash of books. I bought a couple of second hand novels (I don’t know how long ago it was that I read a novel!) I am a short story reader usually and my favourite authors are a group of American writers, writing mostly during the eighties and referred to as the ‘Dirty Realists’ (Jayne Anne Phillips, Raymond Carver, Larry Brown, Richard Ford, Richard Yates and lots more!) I have read most of their short stories so I thought I would make a start on some of their novels.
I also bought three books on Abstract Art . The two below both explore shape and colour, line, tone and size, texture, composition, and more, as well as secondary elements like contrast rhythm and balance, which I don’t know enough about. ‘Realistic Abstracts’ (my favourite kind!) goes more into how reality and illusion can be combined
I want to learn more about abstract art but also about design and to see if I can transfer any of what I learn to my quilt making. I bought a third book on Kindle, called ‘Creating Abstract Art’ by Dean Nimmer, which is much more formulaic, with a series of exercises to work through. I bought this one for fun and for practice in loosening up a little, something I have always found difficult.
I bought two textile books ‘Textile Folk Art’ by Anne Kelly and ‘Sketchbook Explorations’ by Shelley Rhodes and these have been hugely inspiring. I am fortunate to have joined each of these artists in online workshops, as part of my textile course.
Another book I bought fairly recently was Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopaedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Older copies had become rare and expensive but this new edition has brought the prices down and made copies readily available. I am fascinated by American blocks and their origins and names and, although I keep saying I want to stop making them and move on to different things, I am constantly drawn back to them. I have a perpetual calendar of these blocks on my window sill.
With regard to EPP I was delighted to receive a commission in November from someone I met recently; to complete two mini patchwork quilts for a wall, that featured sheep. They were supposed to be finished by Christmas but are barely begun, so I shall be getting back to work on those in the next few days.
So, what of my plans for 2022? I want to vary my posts a little with some ‘how-to’s’ and ‘things to try’, (e.g. making some little fabric books) so that the posts are not just about progress with my quilts. I want to include some posts on colouring fabric with paints etc which I had intended to cover last year, I want to do some appliqué work with a Scottish theme, and I really want to try some fabric collage. And while I am working on those I want to learn how to layer fabric in interesting ways and how to do free motion embroidery. That should keep me busy most of the year!
I have 40, part-finished, mini quilts (yes 40!), sitting in a pile, waiting for me to find some backing fabric so that I can quilt them. Then I have more that I planned and bought fabric for, long ago, that I want to get out of the way. However, there is one large quilt I am itching to begin working on. I am going to call it ‘Houses and Dolls’. It is made up of blocks of patched houses and ‘dolls’ of different sizes which are all joined by improvised paths. It is based on a quilt design called ‘The Burbs’ by Sarah Fielke from the book ‘Material Obsession’. I have not seen any quilt top put together in this way before and want to give it a try.
Here is a section of Sarah’s quilt, so it will be something along these lines. I love it! I’ll probably leave off the appliquéd flowers that are dotted around, though. I find that I learn a lot from reproducing someone else’s quilt design now and again (though obviously the chosen fabrics will be different), especially if there is something unusual about them or I am intrigued by the way they are made. It’s the same with recipes for me. I follow the first attempt to the letter and from that I learn not only what is involved in the making but how I would definitely do it differently. And I won’t be selling this one so no need to worry about accusations of it not being an original design!
I also want to re-open my shop on Folksy.com and finally open the one I set up over a year ago on Etsy.com. I have abandoned the idea of selling from this website because I can’t include enough large images to show detail and I can’t easily sell to other countries. It may be pricey to list multiple items on these Folksy and Etsy but there is a lot of support for beginner sellers and invaluable help with postal calculations.
I am surprised to find that this EPP post is mostly about books! In between my reading binges I have been thinking and making lists, trying to hone in on the nitty gritty of what interests me, what matters to me, what brings me joy, what I want to say, whether I want to go on making quilts or move onto making textile pictures. I have a book of lists. Making lists is fun to do and interesting to read back later. It reveals quite a lot about you and is strangely therapeutic. I can recommend it.
So, until next time……stay safe and well.