Posts Tagged ‘patterns’

Lines – Seams Just Waiting to Happen 2

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016


THE  most basic knitting stitch and probably the first one learned by everyone is garter stitch.

knitting garter stitch blog


lines garter st blog

In a recent post,  the first of several on this theme, I showed how the lines in a newspaper ad featuring  part of head and shoulders of a man wearing a heavy knitted sweater inspired one of my wall quilts.  Since I made Waterweave twenty years ago, I’ve had it lurking in the back of my mind that garter stitch is a wonderful pattern  of line and shape to explore,.  I can’t think why its taken so long, but perhaps I needed to make the Bungle Bungles quilts for this notion to move forward again.  So I’m going to take time today to play with this basic linear pattern and see where it might lead.

While posting this garter stitch diagram, I remembered my first art quilt, Ancient Expressions 1   I cropped this segment from what back in 1988 was an excellent quality 35mm slide image, so its a bit grainy.  I’ve always had my work photographed using a good photographer using the best technology available at the time, but the quilt sold from the 1989 exhibition “Expressions in Quilting ” so I’ve never been able to have it re-photographed in digital format.


Ancient Expressions 1 pattern detail blog

On the horizontal bands of AE 1, I used linear quilting patterns from drawings I found in  a book on the ancient Anasazi people of  America’s Southwest.  We lived in Denver for a yew years in the late ’80s, and came to know that region of the USA well, including the wonderful petroglyphic sites, ancient village ruins and some of the history of the now disappeared Anasazi people.  Almost without thinking I used characteristic patterns and imagery from the Southwest in that series of quilts,  just like everyone else did and still does.  Patterns developed in different cultures and regions of the world for are found on rock, ceramic, metal, wood, leather and fabric surfaces.  They have much in common, and we recognise them as man-made marks even if no one around today is absolutely sure of their significance.  But bearing in mind the issue of cultural misappropriation, today I might not make some of that series in quite the same way. Anyway, looking back over a couple of decades, I see that appealing arc shape repeatedly popping up in my work in various ways.

As I’ve said before – a line is a seam waiting to happen.

Lines- Seams Waiting To Happen

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

I’ve previously blogged about my approach to planning  and in that particular post used a collage of diagrams on pages from it:

Collaged sketch book pages

One was a snippet from a diagrammatic sketch of a man wearing heavy outdoor clothing featuring a fisherman’s rib neck on his sweater.  I saw it in some ad in an Aussie newspaper back in about 1995, and clearly remember it but can’t find the actual pic.  It inspired me to sketch the pattern of knitting and the use those lines and shapes in a commissioned quilt for a book “Quiltskills” 1997, published by the Quilters Guild of NSW.  Each chapter featured particular skills useful to contemporary quiltmakers, illustrated by a quilt made especially to go with the article.  Mine was chapter 2, Irregular Shapes.

Anyway this morning I found a very old and poor image of that quilt, Waterweave”,  the colour of which somehow seems stuck at ‘too green’ but anyway I’ve put it alongside that line diagram to show how for me a basic diagram can lead to an actual quilt.  Its typical of my planning that I work things out as I go, and usually know when its time to stop.

Waterweave quilt and sketch blog


As a student and then teacher of geography, illustrating whatever I’m talking about with a simple diagram is what I naturally turn to, so my designs in fabric and thread tend to develop from that kind of mark making, too, and I’ve mentioned before that I see almost any line as a seam waiting to happen.

Interesting Timing

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

As I don’t consult my horoscope daily, I must have missed portents of an interesting congruence that has emerged.

I’m a long term and distant committee member of  Ozquilt Network Inc.  an organisation for makers and followers of art quilts in Australia.  I have been putting together a Power Point Presentation on art quilts for Ozquilt, designed to be shown to groups and individuals in the traditional quiltmaking community to introduce them to art quilts; and we think it may interest a wider number of other fibre artists, too.   Starting with the techniques and processes all quilt makers have in common, it goes on to feature images of some of our members’ works, showing how they have used these plus just some of the potential options of techniques and material combinations available to anyone who would make art quilts.  But these things of course are not what makes the ‘art’, its what you do with them that is important.

I have always seen tradition as a two sided coin, and it’s a very human thing to cling to traditions.  On one hand there are some people who like things to be done they way they always have been since time began, and who go to considerable trouble to maintain traditions – these are the quilters who always make traditional designs, and perhaps others’ more modern patterns but essentially always work from a pattern,  It’s safer that way – you know how its going to turn out, and they are perfectly happy quilting this way.  There are others, though, in being very human in their behaviour, too,  just can’t help changing things a bit, or a lot, whatever!  These people start to make a variation on a traditional or an original design because they can’t find a  pattern for exactly what they want.  They tend to be the experimenters, people who venture beyond the boundaries of traditional quilt patterns.  As they continue in this process they can find themselves learning something about design, ultimately strengthening composition skills and learning the basics at least of colour theory.  In the making of art quilts such skills assume more importance because they are needed to convey the message/artist’s vision, via almost infinite choices of materials and techniques – and in that mission the choices need to be effective.  It’s a less safe zone than the securely traditional, but a quite challenging and and exciting way to make quilts.   This  PPP will be available to Ozquilt members to present to groups of quilters and individuals around them, and naturally we’re hoping some will realise perhaps they already make art quilts and others become motivated to extend their quilt making boundaries.

I made a traditional quilt once, a flying geese design, back in 1988.  Begun in a symposium class conducted by Blanche Young, the doyen of the flying geese pattern in the ’80’s – here it is, with apologies for being so poorly photographed – I will get it out sometime I’m back in Aus and do better!Flying Geese 1988 Flying Geese wallhanging,   approx. 100 cm x 60 cm, 1988.  


Which now brings me to an assignment I’m really looking forward to.  Fellow art quilt maker and highly esteemed colleague, Kathy Loomis,  just asked me to look at and review her recently published new book “Pattern Free Quilts” which she described in her email as a guide for quilters who want to break away from using other people’s patterns.  A topic very dear to my heart indeed, and as soon as I’ve received and had a chance to read it, I’ll post the review – so watch this space.

The Bungle Bungles Series Continued…

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Kimberley Dreaming choices made, layered_edited-1

So the question I was considering in the last post was whether to go with the plain fabric domes or the one colour with the black/gold pinspot  – see the top part of this collaged image.   I decided to go with the one colour with gold pinspot.  There’s a panel of gold pinspot below the shapes, and then more black. I’ve layered and begun quilting, and while I do this bit, I am considering whether the previous one in the series, now bound and fitted with sleeves, needs gold dots or not – because, once started, there will  be no going back … that gold paint is  really permanent!


Bungle Bungles, 3

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015


This afternoon I have been piecing – that is, cutting out different shaped pieces of fabric and sewing them together, which I know puzzles many bystanders around those of us who make ‘patchwork’ things including quilts.   Fabric is just a raw material to some textile artists, and thus no different from a skein of wool, a tube of oil paint,  a block of wood or stone, all to be worked by people with appropriate skills.  I’ve always loved sewing, and love piecing as a technique for surface design, which produces contemporary patchwork that despite appearances does in fact have connection with the traditional geometric patterned designs that most people think of as ‘patchwork’.  Patchwork, traditional and contemporary, is often backed with a layer or two of fabric and quilted by hand or machine to hold it all together in a completed object, usually bedding or clothing for warmth.

piecing #2


This pictured segment continues some piecing I began a couple of weeks ago, before undergoing surgery for a shoulder prosthesis.  My doc did say use the hand as much as possible, and this activity is well within the restrictions – of holding nothing heavier than a cup of tea, and not to try to raise the arm above shoulder level – well just now I can’t get it anywhere near the shoulder so there’s no danger there.  All the newly constructed left arm has to do is some gentle holding of small pieces of fabric as the machine slowly sews, and my other (good) arm whips out the pins, flying back and forth from the pin cushion as the machine gradually sews around the curved edge.  It’s all rather like setting in a sleeve.  Even as I was doing this today, a brainwave came for another piece in this theme, inspired by what I read recently about the structure of the sandstone karst formations in the The Bungle Bungles.   So as soon as I finish putting all these pieces together, I’ll start another to incorporate my new idea.  However, right now its time for a change of activity to include arm swinging and shoulder shrugging followed by a cup of tea.

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