I think I mentioned before how thrilled and delighted I was when Brandon Mabley made contact with me earlier this year on behalf of the Kaffe Fassett studios. He and Kaffe had been on a photo shoot at Port Eliot when the subject of dovegreyreader arose, and when the subsequent offer of some books came in I am afraid I was hard-pushed to wait a polite twenty seconds or so before dashing off a reply of the effusive affirmative variety.
I can't tell you the infinite pleasures to be had from a stack of books by Kaffe Fasset. I keep one open on the bookstand in the kitchen at all times for a constant stream of colour and inspiration in my eye, the others are always to hand, but I will admit that until now I have baulked at the idea of making a Kaffe quilt. I would stare at the colours and try and figure out a system... get some sort of control of the patterns and the combinations so that they would 'match', but it is only since reading Dreaming in Colour (more of which soon) that I realise why. This may all be down to my British reticence and fear of flamboyance, coupled with unwittingly allowing myself to drop anchor for far too long in the safe harbour of the colour wheel and small-scale prints.
I have engineered one or two plucky escapes from convention... the Emily Dickinson quilt 'The Inundation of Spring' now safely stowed chez Kevin From Canada...
and then the little quiltsuke I made for Port Eliot guests in the dovegreyreader tent this year...
A sort of mini test excursion into Kaffe-land, perhaps a limbering up for the big one.
As each successive rural Devon winter looms large, I always make time to sort out my creativity for the months ahead and get some projects on the go, as well as dragging out all the unfinished ones....and putting those away.
This winter I have established Craft Thursdays.
Bookhound will be out helping the Gamekeeper on his shoot every Thursday between now and the end of January so Nell, Magnus and I will be home alone. There is of course absolutely nothing to stop me being creative when I am not home alone, but somehow it is easier when I am. I have the house to myself and can spread the fabrics and the cutting mat and the iron all around the kitchen, switch the radio on and work away at it all sans interruption whilst the weather invariably lashes down outside. Magnus is the first of our cats in all this time to truly embrace the art of patchwork and always arranges himself for a good snooze amongst the fabrics.
So, a bit behind the times, I have been slowly plucking up the courage to Fassett my inner Kaffe.
I have been slipping a few large-scale fabulously blousy flower fabrics into the stash now and again, going so far beyond my colour comfort zone that I am now not really sure what that is. Then adding some really zany polka dot combinations when I saw them and putting it all in the mythical Kaffe Quilt pile... for one day... eventually.
Anyone out there who understands the principles of the stash will be at one with this purchasing policy.
So wedged in the rut of tradition have I found myself, that I feel sure it is the endless borders and lattices I create, and the huge amount of quilting they require, that has stymied me in the past, leaving me at the moment with that Great Unfinished Millenium Quilt hanging over me like the Quilt of Damocles. Every time I decide to try something new a great cloud of guilt descends and gives me a stiff lecture, telling me I really should finish that first, it is now 2012 after all....some Millenium Quilt that's turning out to be.
Friends have suggested I machine quilt it, or even send it off to be finished by someone else and pay the going rate which both feel like heinous crimes.
One day I'll get it finished...one day.
But succumbing to that guilt can cut off all other avenues of inspiration too, and I for one have settled for the wall-hanging as a sort of finishable allowance in the meantime, yet so much of the fun of full-size quilt-making is in the thinking. Then follows the real planning... choosing the design and the colours before letting them wriggle around in my mind a while before I finally decide, and then the gathering of fabrics from everywhere. It is never cheap when you buy fabric in quantity but with Cowslip Workshops just across the Tamar I head there regularly and have been adding to the stash gradually.
Eventually it seemed I might have enough to fire up the Bernina and progress, just dip in a toe and see, because the next thrill is the cutting...and the piecing... the pressing of the seams...watching the pieces start to come together and the sheer size of the thing, along with the sense of achievement when it is done. Once I really got into just putting one great big dazzly colour next to another big dazzly colour there was no stopping me and I have hit on Kaffe's Diamond Quilt as the one for me.
Of course, by this time my modest stash is running low so I scoured the internet for more fabrics...even wondered about buying from the U.S....coveted the stock in a shop in Kew in London ... until eventually Bookhound and I took a Sunday trip back to Cowslip Workshops. As I walked in the door, to be met by Jo the owner saying 'Have you seen the gorgeous new Kaffe Fassett fabrics??', I knew I was in the right place...on my doorstep for once, and at £3 per fat quarter, the cheapest by far... and good news, they have an online shop now too.