colourwork

Colour is such a pleasure to work with in any material. I love mixing printing inks or chalk paint, plant-dyeing yarn, planning a garden, tying a bouquet, sewing cushions and clothes, glazing pots, drawing pictures. Lately I’ve been making a lot of drawings on my computer, mostly for design clients, and thoroughly enjoying theme and variation in intense colour and texture. The antidote to the cross-eyed effects of too much technology is to get up and work with tangible objects. Colourful quilting fabrics are just the thing. I find finished quilting works quite modern, yet painterly, like early modern art. Here are some of the pieces I’ve designed for learning good old fashioned quilting skills, and making a little piece for your wall or your table while you’re at it.

golden pindot & checked triangles quilt

The triangles quilt, a new golden pindot variation for springtime.

formal flowers & lime stripe nine-patch quilt

And a new nine-patch in sprouting greens.

floral & blue gingham triangles quilt

The original triangles quilt, which I made in the movie tutorial, “Quilting Triangles“;

liberty floral & blue gingham nine-patch quilt

And the original nine-patch, from “Quilting Squares.”

squares-rounded-apples.s.jpg

A variation in appley patterns and Liberty fabrics. You might recognise the apple fabric from my little pinnies, it’s a favourite.

chartreuse floral triangles quilt

Chartreuse, such a joyful hue. I love the scale of these tiny prints mixing with larger prints. A small quilt is a great place to get wilder with colour than I might in a frock or in a large quilt. All of these homemade project kits are in the appleturnovershop. I’m looking forward to getting into more colourwork and pattern, making some new clothes using very old patterns, working in leather, revisiting my old friend, the silkscreen, and with some luck, getting back to the pottery wheel!

casting-on

When I was a girl, my grandmother taught me to knit. Foolishly, I didn’t practice, and forgot. When I first lived some weeks in England, three sisters, elders in my sweetheart’s family, were my teachers. They cannot remember ever not knowing how to knit, and grew up at a time when, if your hands were empty, your mother handed you some work. I’m quite envious of learning so young, seeing as I waited til adulthood to take up the habit. My children have started early! You may think I knit very peculiarly, if you’ve not seen English knitting. I’m quite fond of it, particularly the speed and economy of movement – but ignore how I knit, and pay attention to how I cast-on.

For a long time I used one particular method for casting-on (creating the stitches to begin to knit a piece), and then I encountered the stretchy method, and never looked back. This, the third part of the “Cabled Handwarmers” set of old school movies in The Knitting Series, shows exactly that. It’s animated, even (it’s 4 minutes, and has a sweet little melody too). Learn it well, for just about any project, especially to knit the cabled handwarmers and mittens in this series.

What do you think? Work along with the other movies in the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, at the old schoolhouse (in the lefthand column). It’s very quick to buy the pattern to make these at the shop, just download and print! Very useful last-minute gift for a friend who wants to knit-in-the-round. Happy casting-on!

short & sweet heather grey handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather grey handwarmer kit

drawstring frock

Following a pattern for dressmaking is an education in itself. I’m very much a new seamstress, and have only recently started working from patterns instead of improvising. I scoured pages of vintage patterns, searching for a dress that might be casual, elegant, and very simple to construct.

1960's drawstring frock

The 1960’s drawstring frock looked perfect to me. I decided to make the sleeveless variation for a cocktail dress, though I’d love to make another version for everyday wear in the autumn.

drawstring frock

The pattern arrived in the post. I do love Etsy.

drawstring dress

Best to wash the fabric first, to prevent shrinking later. For the smocked dress, a glossy, warm smoky grey cotton. For the drawstring, a very light, pale linen, leaning hazily toward the cooler spectrum. Ecru.

1960's drawstring frock

1960's drawstring frock

Careful measuring and altering, pinning, marking, notching and cutting of the pattern. Half a century on, the sizes are all different, of course, so it is worth measuring and adjusting the pattern as needed! My mother, an experienced seamstress, showed me how. Easy!

drawstring frock

A pattern that was considered easy when many people sewed their clothes, now seems quite complex. When things begin to come together it is pure joy! Such a delight to see how clothes were assembled fifty years ago. I loved learning how to construct the facing around the arms and the neckline.

1960's drawstring frock

I did make one change (I can never resist) and that was to substitute a cord for the flat tie, and a round, eyelet buttonhole to match it. I tell you, handstitching the buttonholes took more time than the entire dress! Next time I will be faster.

1960's drawstring frock

I like to wear the linen drawstring frock with my red wedges. It requires a half slip, which is a vintage turn in and of itself. I think I might be ready to try something more difficult next. A jacket?

1960's drawstring frock

quilted mats

Do you remember some patchwork quilted placemats I was making? I used the projects to experiment with patchwork and stitching various quilted patterns. Four of them were just right to fit round our table.

patchwork quilted placemat © elisa rathje 2012

I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. I quilted a diamond shape, a simple angle, overlapping circles, and squares. The patchwork on these quilted mats is quite vivid, often I prefer to turn them linen-side up. I made my own linen bias tape to finish them, amazing how that brings it all together.

patchwork quilted placemat © elisa rathje 2012

Oh, I do miss that bright little room in the old English cottage.

crocheted throw

Keeping us all cosy through autumn and winter in the four-hundred-year-old cottage can be something of a challenge. On waking the house is awfully chilly and we creep down to start a fire, wrapped in layers. We keep the wood stove roaring with the copper kettle set on top, wool socks on our feet, tea on the warmer and hands tucked into handwarmers, on the coldest days. For evenings of watching movies by the fire, I wanted to make us a warm, heavy throw. My beloved grandmother’s yarn is just the thing, thick and rustic. I like to think of her working with it.

octagon crocheted throw

I’m using a pattern for a Circles in Octagons throw, only I’m making it a monochromatic piece. With such heavy yarn I’ve chosen quite a large hook, seven millimetres. I’d still like it to be a little bit lacy and pliant, not worked stiffly. Working a crocheted throw at this scale means the stack of pieces are growing rapidly, and I have high hopes of assembling them together before the icy winter arrives.