Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oh my

Can it really be so long since my last post! Suffolk seems to have exploded into a blaze of sunshine and colour in the last week or two. The villages are full of ice-cream coloured houses adorned in wisteria, their twisted boughs heavy with blooms, from palest lilac to deepest purple, perfectly complimenting the pale colours of the cottages. Those wide Suffolk skies, clear and blue above a landscape of bright yellow rape, deep green shoots of wheat and sandy ploughed fields. All of it achingly beautiful.

And there are cherries appearing on the local market stalls, cherries forming on my trees. Oh how I love the cherry season.

All this sunshine and fresh growth fills me with energy and a wish to create so Jane's new book, The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making arrived with perfect timing. When I first discovered the Yarnstorm blog I was already visiting a number of knitting and craft related blogs but Jane's was something different. The other blogs I visited were useful resources, filled with tutorials, pattern and yarn reviews and various finished projects. Jane's blog was more of a celebration of beauty, her zest for enjoyment in the details of everyday domestic life was a revelation. She was not a designer or artist but an enthusiast, she was like me. Her posts ranged from literature, painting, sock yarn and fairy cakes with dozens more in between. It made me realise that this was something I could do too. Jane took the complicated bits out of craft blogging and filled me with "can do".

And now she takes the complicated bits out of quilting. This book is a celebration of fabric, a joyous delight of colour and pattern. Jane's enthusiasm gathers you up, she makes it seem simple, she does not over-complicate the issue with secret quilting terms, talk of colour recipes and mysterious sounding blocks. She does not make you feel that you cannot quilt because have not had any lessons, instead she fills you with a desire to just begin. Buy fabrics you love, work with what you've got, trust your instincts and do it.

My very limited quilt experience has stayed clear of florals and patterns, much as I love to browse through my Kaffe Fassett books I always felt too overwhelmed to actually begin. I did not have the confidence to see how to adapt the patterns I saw in those books into the fabrics I liked, the precise instructions and fabric recipes terrified me.

Jane's simple, confident approach is rather different. She talks of just putting together fabrics and playing, no need to plan too far ahead regarding size, just work with what you have and let the quilt lead you, her step by step methods are very refreshing. Fear removed and feeling inspired I finally cut into fabrics that have been teasing me for several years.

I just recklessly cut out some squares and then began to play with layouts. I didn't draw out designs on graph paper and spend hours being bewildered by maths. I just cut and placed, moved and played, it reminded me of the patterns the children and I used to make with coloured blocks. It was fun, really, not scary, just fun. A few evenings of laying out different patterns and gazing at them through the day soon resulted in more definite decision and I knew the direction I wanted to take. I'm not sure I've thought of the border or the backing but the beauty of Jane's methods are that I don't think it matters. Because I don't have to make all the decisions beforehand, I can just start to piece and see how it grows. I can change my mind and move things around.

I think it goes without saying that this book is a visual feast. The quilts within are differ widely, there are riots of colour, luxurious silks and even quite a masculine quilt of tie silk and suiting. All photographed rather fabulously.

My favourites, in case you were wondering, include the Sample Book quilt,

and this gorgeous candy coloured Beach Hut quilt.


Blogger mooncalf said...

Thanks for the book recommendation. I was straight over to Amazon to place an order.

I've wanted to quilt for a while but I've not found a true beginners book that lets you start small and get quilting quickly. I'm really looking forward to my copy arriving.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010 10:45:00 am  
Blogger Tabiboo said...

A beautiful recommendation - Suffolk and book....I too love this season and am on the look out for those first cherries - before the birds get to them that is.

Nina x

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:13:00 am  
Blogger blue hands said...

Ah! how apt. The divine Jane is coming to talk to our WI tonight. I shall be coming home with a signed copy of the book!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:27:00 pm  
Blogger Gina said...

This was such a beautiful post - both your description of Suffolk in May and the book (which I feel the same about) were perfect!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1:42:00 pm  
Blogger opportunityknits said...

Loved reading your post. That coloured beach hut quilt is fab!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:34:00 pm  
Blogger Charity said...

I just received this book yesterday from the library - I can't wait to dig in! :o)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:30:00 pm  
Blogger kristina said...

I'm so in love with Jane's book, too. You described it all so perfectly. I have the fabrics all ready--just need to get over my fear of the rotary cutter!

And you have me longing for Suffolk once again...

K x

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 4:28:00 pm  
Blogger Lucette said...

looking forward to your new quilt.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 4:53:00 pm  
Blogger cathleen said...

Beautiful post, Rebecca. You sound happy and content. Your late spring sounds lovely! And I am, also, totally delighted with Jane's long- awaited quilt book. I absolutely LOVE it. The best part, besides the actual quilts, is the way she tells the story of each of the quilts' beginnings. Happy piecing and quilting to you!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 5:57:00 pm  
Blogger Dragonfly said...

It's a fab book, isn't it?

I'm looking forward to seeing how your quilt comes on - do share!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 9:24:00 pm  
OpenID rosecolouredworld said...

I'm so glad you are having a go - I know you can sew a seam, and your taste is exquisite, so you will make a wonderful quilt. Making books for me is unadulterated pleasure, but ideas for quilts and a pile of new fabric keeps me awake at night with the excitement of the day ahead - I hope you enjoy too!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 10:20:00 pm  
Blogger nicole said...

Oooh, now I'm dying to get my hands on a copy! Like you, I'm intimidated by quilting. This books sounds like just the right antidote to my reticence.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:06:00 am  
Blogger Willow said...

You are convincing me that I, even I, could sew a quilt. I shall check around for Jane's book here in the US.

Looking forward to seeing your finished quilt!

Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:46:00 am  
Blogger Kai said...

I've been wanting to get into quilt making for a while now and everything I've found so far has made me back away in fear. It's good to know that Jane's book takes a different approach and I'm definitely off to buy it now! :D Can't wait to see your quilting results.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:51:00 am  
Blogger Linda said...

I don;t quilt but my Mum does so that means I can buy her the book and get a look at it too!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010 3:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Penny said...

Loved that post, May in Suffolk is nearly as lovely as May in Norfolk! I too am in love with Jane's quilting book, I SO need a new quilt! Penny x

Saturday, May 29, 2010 4:53:00 pm  
Anonymous kim said...

Oh, I can't wait to see what you create. I'm quite sure it will be cozy and wonderful. Heading over to that site now. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010 12:02:00 am  
Blogger sarah said...

Hi Rebecca
I have come out of a fug of uni work for the past year and want to knit my first garment in AGES. I remember you did a Habu kit in silk and stainless steel - I can't find it in your archive of posts. Would you mind telling me where you bought it from?

Thanks a million

Tuesday, June 01, 2010 12:54:00 pm  
Anonymous Carolyn said...

May is such a lovely month isn't it? We have two huge cherry trees in one of our fields and every year it's a race between me and the birds to see who gets the fruit! This year the fruit on the first tree ripened while I was in England, and just those few days away were long enough for the tree to be stripped bare. The fruit on the second tree ripens a bit later so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll beat them to it!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010 3:30:00 pm  
Blogger 慧玲PierreJ_Good9999 said...


Sunday, June 06, 2010 6:33:00 am  
Blogger Jules said...

Thanks for the post, which has as many nice pictures as Jane's book :o)
I just bought this for my mom, who's an older quilter and probably hasn't heard of Jane Brocket. She's a big Kaffe fan, though, and I think the designs will appeal to any age and experience level.

Thursday, June 10, 2010 2:20:00 pm  

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