Petit Patchwork Projects

The back to Boston reality hit pretty quickly. My second day back was a lovely combination of snow, rain and a full day of classes. Still, it’s hard to be too down when, despite the craziness of the first week of semester, I have found ample time for crafting.

First of all, I added a border to the Birds in the Air quilt. Now, I thought quite a bit about this next step. I even received a wonderful email from my Grandmother full of various traditional border patterns and was particularly drawn to Entwined and Curling Ribbons:


But the more I thought about it, the more I worried that placing these right next to the Birds in the Air might detract from the main motif. So I opted for the simplest possible solution and put the remaining antique fabric to use:


Now I can’t decide if I should put a more elaborate border around this border- or would that be too much? I tend to adhere to the philosophy of the more pattern the better, but as my mother astutely pointed out with my Log Cabin cardigan, this is not always the case. Perhaps I will make some sample borders and see how I feel. Due to my indecision, this project has been put on a brief hiatus during which I’ve engaged in another, somewhat random patchworking project.

It all started with a visit to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA. I mean, what better place to spend a morning before classes pick up and the workload piles on? The museum is currently showing a wonderful exhibition of Seven Swiss Contemorary Quilt Artists (up through April 18): All the artists were inspinring, but one in particular caught my eye- Beatrice Lanter. Here’s a segment of one of her works:

I’m not entirely sure how she composes these quilts, but something about their aesthetic deeply appeals to me. Perhaps it’s the slight asymmetry- perhaps the many colors! Either way, seeing the work of an artist that you admire is always stimulating and fills me with thoughts about my next self-designed quilt.

Another fortunate outcome of the visit was the discovery of these wonderful Japanese fabrics that are sold in convenient 4×4 inch squares. I’d seen them once before but this time I couldn’t resist getting a package. There is something so appealing about them, the many different patterns and slightly different textures- the fact that they come beautifully precut! The museum shope also sold  a pattern for a little bag made of this fabric. Now, I don’t normally use kits or follow directions but for some reason yesterady afternoon (a Friday) felt like a good day for something slightly different but practical and straightforward. So I whipped up a little patchwork pouch (officially called the “Reversible Kinchaku bag” designed by Miho Takeuchi). Here it is:


It’s a bit tricky to photograph, but it’s basically a small (20″ circumfence) drawstring satchel made from these four-inch squares. The design is quite clever; circular patchwork is not easy to pull off. And it reminded of what’s nice about following rules every now and then: it  improves my technique, forces me to be precise and gives me new ideas for my own work. More and more, I find myself believing that this is part of any craftsperson’s responsibility, to master the technique in which they are working. Once these technicalities are nailed, it’s that much easier to set yourself free. In honor of this recent avowel (part of my new 2009 mindset) I’ve even been reading Michael James’ 1978 “The Quiltmaker’s Handbook.”

Anyone familiar with James’ work has to agree that no quilter has greater mastery of the craft! It’s inspiring. And I’ve decided that even while pursuing my more unconventional tednencies, I’m going to nail the details once and for all… which leads me to my lastest knitting endeavor. While the Log Cabin cardigan (actually no longer a cardigan which I will explain later) made considerable progress in Puerto Rico, it has been put on hold for the past couple of days (along with the Seasonal Lollipop Scarf) so I could quickly knit two 6″ squares in a DK weight yarn, a requirement for the knitting class I will be taking tomorrow afternoon:


Of course they don’t look like much of anything (though blue and red does happen to be one of my favorite color combinations). Mainly, I’m looking forward to an afternoon of honing my knitting skills. The class is at Westminster Fibers in Nashua NH and is being taught by designer  Sharon Brant. It’s called “Professional Tips and Techniques” and involves the following:

  • Choosing the best method to cast on
  • The importance of tension and how to correct
  • Working with Colour (Intarsia nd fairisle)- essential for me!
  • Textures (Lace, Cables and bobbles)
  • Finishing Techniques (seams and picking up stitches) and many more tips- I don’t know a single knitter who couldn’t use the chance to work on this.

I’m truly looking forward to  the experienc eand hope to emerge a more proficient knitter. That being said, the class gets out at 5 o’clock on Superbowl Sunday so I will have to hurry home!  I’m not going to lie, the football itself isn’t really the primary reason that I enjoy Superbowl Sunday. It’s more about the fact that it’s a chance to go home, one of the few times that I eat chili and that, while the men drink beer, my mom, sisters and I are planning on champagne and cocktails. And of course, there’s that not-so-insignificant bonus that a few hours of television-watching = the ideal opportunity to knit.



Filed under accessories, history, knitting, quilting

2 responses to “Petit Patchwork Projects

  1. Ooooh Ohhh , I think your becoming a QUILTER. No shame in it. It is ok love feel free to send me your knitting needles 🙂 I too went to my LYS today, there was a knit in. After I spent 21$ on yarn ( i know I have like 80 lbs at my house). I won a gift card. I wish there were classes like that here. Sounds good, send me an email 😉

  2. Erica Mehrtens


    I have been trying to find the pattern for the reversible Kinchaku bag” designed by Miho Takeuchi). Do you know how I can get this pattern? I saw it in the New England Quilt museum in 2007 and ever since I have regretted that I didn’t purchase the bag or the pattern. They do not have this pattern in the on-line shop. Any help you can give me would be wonderful. I live in Australia so it will be quite awhile before I get to Lowell again.
    Please help!! Best regards

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