Poem #11

Centrepiece #2: Friendship Quilt

Not a traditional friendship quilt

where memories and blessings

are stitched into squares

by a circle of quilters,

 

but a tribute to friendship itself

through the gifts of fabric,

rich-hued and stagger-striped,

from a circle of quilters.

Centrepiece 2

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On crochet

Earlier this year I wrote about the remarkable Doortjie Gersbach, South Africa’s travelling quilting teacher, and the inspiring workshop she gave in Grahamstown on how to make star quilt blocks. Well, she also produced from her bag of tricks (travelling shop) a range of beautiful yarns and the pattern for the Sophie’s Garden crochet square.  I pounced on it as I have long wanted to crochet a Sophie’s Garden. It was quite a challenge, but very satisfying to decipher and produce the fairly complicated pattern.  I made two squares and incorporated these into a bag.

This bag came about because of a chain (pun!) of serendipitous happenings: first the Sophie’s garden pattern, then the finding of a book on crochet on the shelves of bookstore in London, and the discovery of the Stylecraft website. Patterns from all three went into the making of the bag. The front and back are the Sophie’s Garden square, the gusset comes from that book I had to buy and the construction method from the Stylecraft website.

The book is by Leonie Morgan and is called Beautiful Blankets, Afghans and Throws (published by Search Press, 2017, and available in America as 40 Colorful Afghans to Crochet.)  It contains a treasure trove of blocks and stitch patterns and has so inspired me that I can’t stop crocheting. Apart from being a clear and useful guide to different crochet patterns, it is also lovely to look at. There is an easy to understand glossary of terms, with clear how-to diagrams. My favourite part may well be the ideas for different and quirky edgings at the end of the book. 72 people have reviewed it on Amazon, with most of them giving it five stars. So, I am not the only one who is enthusing about this book.

beautiful blankets

To make the gusset of the bag, I crocheted onto the existing Sophie’s Garden squares, but without increasing at the corners, using the pattern for bobble rows from one of Leonie Morgan’s squares.  I decided to crochet from both sides towards the middle and hope you can’t spot the row where I joined the two sections.

There was another intervening serendipitous event. The bag is quite big – about 60 x 40 cm – and looked like a big, colourful deflated balloon once the gusset was in place. A cardboard box that was used to pack the week’s supply of fruit and vegetables was the exact size of the bag. I taped it closed, opened up the side of the box, and slipped it into the bag where it fits like a glove.

Finding the (free) pattern for Frida’s Flowers Project Bag on the Stylecraft  website (https://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk) was the last bit of luck that went into the making of the bag. I used Frida’s directions for the top edge and the handles of the bag and will also use the pattern for the lining. The Stylecraft website is a real find. There are other mouthwatering patterns nestling behind the crochet tab at the top of the website’s home screen. The site also has exciting knitting patterns.

Frida's flowers.jpg

He-who-shall-not-be-named was heard to say “What, another bag?” but had the good sense not to add “What are you going to use it for?” But, unlike some of the other fabric bags I have made just for the pleasure of the project’s process, this bag does have a designated use. It will store my stash of wools and yarns (which is not very big). I keep reminding myself that I am actually a quilter.

Now that the Sophie’s Garden Yarn Stash Bag is finished, the leftovers of the balls of yarn are calling to be used. There are also those other lovely patterns in Beautiful Blankets, Afghans and Throws waiting to be tried out. I made this small bag for my cellphone. I plan to make a few more, for the fun of it and for sale at the Christmas Market at Hogsback.

cellphone pouch

There is a Wikipedia site on crochet that is full of interesting information and history on crocheting. But I have gone on for long enough. Perhaps on another day I will write a bit more about the joys of crochet. Meanwhile I remind myself again that I am actually a quilter. Here’s my latest small quilt, finished last weekend when we went away and I only took my sewing bag with me. It’s called Tree on Velvet and is entirely hand stitched.

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Poem #10

A Sonnet to Centrepiece #3

A set of dyed fabrics in peacock hues,

A piece of Chinese cloth shiny and bold,

Loose woven in emerald, purple and gold,

Shot with turquoise and green, to shock the blues,

This is the palette that waits to unfold

Into a quilt of many coloured jewels.

An ordered design calls me to choose

A path that is straight, to do what’s foretold.

I sew to rote, follow the set pattern,

Find no surprise, no serendipity.

Bored by the boredom of rigid rows.

But then, the sown seed glistens, then grows

Through the uniform equanimity

And fans out into a quilt that glows.

Centrepiece 3

 

On birthdays

Last year, to celebrate one of those birthdays with a zero at the end of the number, I hung all my quilts – old and new – up in the garden. It was something I had wanted to do ever since seeing a photograph of how Kaffe Fassett’s textile masterpieces were displayed in a garden. And I am glad I did it. It was a glorious day – the early summer sun was shining and friends came to look, drink tea and champagne, and celebrate with me.

As a continuation of that celebration, here are some of the photographs from that day.

quilts6

 

Birthday exhibition 21

quilts4

Birthday exhibition 11

Poem #9

Centrepiece: Savannah Song

The sweeping grassland

waves from the edges

of eight pieces of fabric.

 

The shades of grass

call to the shrinking herds,

lament the encroaching deserts,

nudge my slumbering reptilian brain

to find that ancient pathway

snaking through the fields of grass

now covered

by cities and civilization.

 

Deep in the folds of this quilt

is a song for the Savannah.

Centrepiece 1.jpg

On Gentle Stitching

Confession. I have borrowed the term “gentle” from Christine Kelly who has a blog called Gentlework and who makes hand stitched items from vintage fabrics and found objects. It is a good word to describe the comforting feeling of stitching with soft, pretty fabrics. Here is a photograph of a small piece of simple squares, that I enjoyed arranging and stitching. It is made from that charm pack I bought in England.

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The squares measure one inch each. I have put it on the table where I sit and stitch of an evening and am enjoying looking at it, even though there is still some quilting to be done around the one edge.

It seems as if these gentle fabrics are finding me. A kind friend has passed on a packet of Liberty fabric “scraps”. Some of the pieces are quite large and they are all lovely. They arrived this week and are now calling to be cut into small squares and pieced into another gentle cloth of many prints. When we were in England I went to the Liberty of London Department Store. It was quite an experience for this small town sojourner. I came away with a set of fat quarters in a distinctive cerise-pink Liberty packet. (Even though the packet is plastic I confess that I did not refuse it.) Now that my collection of Liberty prints has grown, I have another project to add to my list.

liberty
The distinctive Liberty of London packaging and designs. (photograph from the Liberty website.)

I try to follow the rule of not starting another project until one has been finished. This week I completed the stitching of a pair of entwined trees. It was quite a challenge to twist two fabric trees together. The piece was made after I learnt about the Baucis and Philemon story.

 

Entwined Tree

Baucis and her husband Philemon were an old couple that lived in the region of Tyana. The Greek gods Zeus and Hermes, disguised as peasants, arrived there and asked for a place to spend the night, but all the inhabitants of Tyana rejected them. They finally reached the poor cottage of the old couple, who unlike their rich neighbours accepted them graciously and offered them the best hospitality they could with their simple means.

While they were eating, Baucis realised that the two guests were gods. She mentioned it to her husband and the two of them started apologising for not having anything better to serve them. They then decided to kill their pet goose, but when Philemon tried to catch it, the goose ran to Zeus’ lap. The god said that there was no need to slay the goose; instead they should pack up their few belongings and leave their cottage, because they would destroy the whole town for the lack of hospitality of its residents. The couple followed the gods to the nearby mountain, from where they saw that the town had been destroyed by a flood — where their cottage once stood, now lay a glorious temple. The couple asked that they serve as guardians of the temple and Zeus accepted. They also asked that when it was time for one of them to die, that the other would die as well. So, when their time was due, Zeus gave them their wish and transformed them into an intertwining pair of trees, an oak and a linden. (retrieved from https://www.greekmythology.com)

The fabric tree is made from gold lamè and the reverse side of sequined evening dress fabric – both difficult and garish fabrics to stitch. That may explain my current penchant for soft and gentle fabrics.