Book thoughts proper will be back in the autumn, but for now I am still enjoying a summer break, indulging my creative thinking to the hilt and reading accordingly.
Though, as I have said, I am not a member now I did spend time perusing the various stands and displays exhibited by The Quilter's Guild at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, and in particular the pieces from the Guild's heritage collection, as well as picking up more issues of the British Quilt Study Group's annual journal. I don't belong to this group either, but I applaud and enjoy their work which embraces and encourages an interest in historical and contemporary aspects of British patchwork, quilting and appliqué through study and research.
This a journal of the researched and referenced papers presented at the BQSG's annual conference, and covering wide areas of interest in the history not only of patchwork and quilting in the UK and abroad, but also of textiles, fabric dyeing, dating quilts, social context, the lives of the makers and much more. The group adds a level of scholarship to a craft industry that, whilst well-recognised as being of significant cultural and social importance in the USA, perhaps struggles to escape its connotations of menial 'women's work' here in the UK. Documentation and provenance are often hard to find, if they even exist, and the research has to be innovative and determined as a result.
Each edition offers a good, readable referenced book (with full colour illustrations) and such books don't often come my way (though I am sure they must be out there), the last was probably Quilts 1700-2010 Hidden Histories, Untold Stories which accompanied the V&A exhibition in 2010, so I am finding these journals fascinating. Papers on subjects as varied as Turkey Red in Quilts and Clothing (Issue 1 - 1999) Quilting in Eighteenth Century London (Issue 2 - 2001), Quilts and Cultural Values : Gender, Race and Social Class (Issue 6 - 2004) The History of Patchwork and Quilting in Norway ( Issue 7 - 2006) might sound a bit dry but not so if you have an interest. And how about Textile References in the Novels of Elizabeth Gaskell or Victorian Piety on Cloth (Issue 9 - 2008)
One paper that sounded interesting in the new batch was Print with Print : The Role of Liberty Fabric in the post-1960s UK Quilt Revival by Elizabeth Betts. Indeed we were all mad for anything Liberty back in the day and I can't have been alone in having a go at a Deirdre Amsden Colourwash piece. I called this Colourwash Summer (20 ins square machine-pieced, hand-quilted) and have always loved it, in fact maybe it's time to make another one.
But as I was reading the paper I nearly fell off my chair...
'...an owner of a quilting supplies shop that opened in 1988 recalled that to stock Liberty Fabrics she had to prove knowledge of the company's products in an interview and that the minimum order quantities were high...'
Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs, what a coincidence because that is exactly what had happened to me too. How amazing.
When I had my little quilt shop, The Quilt Loft (upstairs in Bookhound's interior design showroom) back in the 1980s, I passed my interview with the rep having swotted up on the whereabouts of Lake Tana in the Sudan, and I did win the Liberty account and very proud I was of it too, displaying my Liberty logo and stroking bolts of Tana lawn on a daily basis. I coveted the fabric so much I almost resented having to sell it and I will write more about Liberty soon I think. I have some pictures of the shop somewhere but meanwhile here's the sign board which we have just found at the back of the shed...
Back in those days, when I was having a break from the NHS and teaching up to sixty people a week how to make a quilt, Bookhound also persuaded me to keep one copy of each and every book I stocked. 'For the future,' he said, ' you'll be pleased you did.
I was oddly reluctant but of course he was right.
Maybe it felt like overkill on a hobby that I had turned into a business. Doing so can have its drawbacks and, though I loved teaching classes and enthusing others, I learned a lesson about how easy it can be to stifle your own creativity in the process. I did keep the books and of course my own creativity survived and lived on, and the consequence, for which I am now eternally grateful, is a shelf like this that I can refer to whenever I want. I have culled a lot of books in recent years but never a quilting book...
and of course I have added to it along the way...
Looking at this you would be right in thinking I don't really need another single one ever, except time and process moves on and with it come new inspirations...we can't get left behind can we. The book suppliers at the NEC had a dizzying range of books for sale and I had budgeted for treats accordingly. In the end I succumbed to the powers of three very alluring books by Japanese quilter Yoko Saito.
I am sure Yoko Saito will be known to many of you but she is new to me..
I started with one, 120 Original Embroidery Designs, mainly because this is a combination of skills learned at Caroline Zoob's workshop a while back, and fail-safe trusted quilting methods. But also because a little, 'older' lady with a trolley standing next to me was clutching a copy, had a dreamy faraway look in her eyes and told me that she bought a Yoko Saito book before any other because they were treasures, and I wouldn't regret it. Hers went in her capacious trolley...I had to carry mine, it weighed a ton.
Then about two hours later I went back for Houses, Houses, Houses! because who could resist making those exquisite little 3D versions.
The next day, sitting outside the NEC waiting for the coach I ran back in and bought Strolling Along Paths of Green because I couldn't quite imagine life without it.
It's sad isn't it...but I bet I'm not alone.
The books are beautifully designed and with clear instructions whilst using a subtle colour palette of fabrics very different to anything I have tried before (taupe and muted reigns supreme with Yoko Saito) and in complete contrast to Blue Moon and the Kaffe Fassett diamonds which have kept me firmly in the rich and vibrant corner for too long now. So with masses of projects and detailed instructions, as well as large pattern sheets at the back, I have plenty to keep me busy this winter.
And I am slowly edging my way into the magical world of Japanese fabric too. It is as if I have stepped through the back of a wardrobe. My eyes are embarrassingly wide with wonder and amazement for which I have to thank whoever it was who told me about Miss Matatabi's Etsy store in comments here. Way too easy to lay hands on fabrics so reasonably priced (both fabric and postage) direct from Japan and double gauze my newest discovery...
I have read and perused the books cover to cover and Yoko Saito's style and designs have captured my imagination. The patchwork compartment of that imagination is busy allowing itself to think of Next Piecing Projects now that Blue Moon is almost done....quilting finished and carefully trimmed of all its shaggy excess ready for twenty-seven feet of deep blue binding.
Indigo fabrics are gathering nicely for the next machine-pieced whatever, and the hexagons by hand over papers are chugging along.
But I am hankering over a fusion of something else, from several different sources and in those pastels I have been craving too. At the moment it is more like a confusion, but I'll spread the ideas out before you soon for a verdict.
Meanwhile what news of summer/winter out there?
Time to rest and read...
Any projects in progress...
Inspiration for new projects bubbling away...