It’s official. I am hopelessly in love with kantha stitching. Without much thought, I began stitching a sampler a couple of weeks ago and now I have committed myself to making one for each month of the year.
Yes, I know the first week of the short month of February has already passed and I have only just finished January’s sampler. I have decided not to give myself a size restriction, so I could make a tiny piece for February. And this is a leap year, so I have an extra day (HA!). The joke may well end up being on me. (Last year I boldly wrote that I would make a house every weekend and end 2019 with 50 houses for a village quilt. That didn’t work out, so this year I resolved not to make any quilting resolutions.)
It was the rain that inspired this piece. (I know that I keep harping on the invigorating effect of the good rains that have broken the year-long drought, but it has been an enormous relief.) With the idea of depicting in thread the change from a brown, dusty environment to a green and lush world, it struck me that I could stitch the letters of the month in a gradation to depict this change. It was also a chance to play with my stash of interesting threads. Many of them are hand dyed perle thread from House of Embroidery. The greenest green in my thread box was a DMC skein of embroidery thread.
I had also been idly wondering about using kantha stitching to create letters and this was a good opportunity to try it out. The circles at the bottom of the piece were inspired by a set of painted circles on the inside cover a book I recently read, Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami.
For the letters I used the bricking kantha stitch and ran the lines very close to one another to get a more solid effect. The circles were stitched using the stepping method. (I wrote about learning these variations in a previous post. In both cases I had fun experimenting with my needle and thread. For example, when I found that the negative spaces in the circle were becoming too large, I filled them in with a bridging stitch and continued “stepping” around the circle with double the amount of stitches. (It might be easier to just look at the photograph to see what I mean!)
Last week I wrote about being overwhelmed by having five simultaneous projects on the go. The January kantha sampler was project no. 2 and I must say I am pleased to have reduced the number of projects on-the-go. Before I brag about finishing project no. 3, a quick note and photograph on the start of project no. 4. It is also a kantha project and is destined to be a companion piece to Fragmented Flower, the work in progress which I wrote about last week.
the completion of project no. 3
This quilt has been around for nearly a year and was born at a workshop with my local quilting group when my good friend Karen showed us the birch tree method, which I wrote about previously and I decided to use the hand dyed indigo cloth that had been sitting in my cupboard for a couple of years.
While this is not quite kantha stitching, the influence is there. I quilted it over weekends while watching movies on Netflix. The rows of stitching are about a half inch apart and were stitched freehand, using shadow quilting. I began the quilting by following the lines of the shwe shwe inserts at the centre of the quilt. The quilt is bound with more shwe shwe fabric. (Shwe shwe is a popular South African cloth that was originally printed indigo style in blue and white. It has lately branched out to include vibrant fabric in bright colours.)
I am particularly fond of Indigo Blues for its warm associations. I have already mentioned Karen’s workshop where the quilt was born. Another quilting friend, Augusta, arranged a dyeing party for the QUOGs (Quilters of Grahamstown) to celebrate her birthday and that was where I dyed the cloth — and had much fun. At Karen’s workshop, my friend Cathy, who has a sharp and true eye, helped me arrange the blocks. She said the pattern made her think of jazz music and suggested I call the piece Riff. (“In popular music, jazz, etc., a short repeated phrase, freq. played over changing chords or harmonies or used as a background to a solo improvisation”(OED).) It is a perfect description, but I could not warm to the harsh sounding consonants in the word. It is, afterall, a very soft quilt.
As for Project No. 5, it is still only an idea in my head.