Yesterday was the last day of a watershed year and I thought it would be appropriate to write a last post to bid farewell to the strange year of 2020.
But it did not get written. It somehow seemed flippant to review my year of happy quilt making when the same year has weighed so heavily on so many people. Then today I read Laura Bruno Lilly’s injunction to keep on singing (see Bye, Bye, MMXX). And it made me decide to ‘sing’ about my uninterrupted sewing time during this lockdown year.
The year’s highlights have been the stitching of kantha samplers; my first quilt commission; taking part in the TextileArtist.org community stitching projects; and winning a prize for my quilt Garden of Delights.
As I write this on a misty, cool, wet, green first day of a brand new year I remember how last year started brown and dry from the long drought. When the rains finally came in January and the brown earth magically turned green during the course of the month I was inspired to record this in Kantha style stitch on a sampler. And so began a monthly challenge to make a sampler to mark each month and at the same time to experiment with this ancient and versatile stitch form.
I recall writing at the start of 2019 that I wanted to make a big quilt that year. I did indeed accomplish that during hard lockdown in March when I stitched a queen sized bed quilt. It was a marvellous distraction. It also helped me to bond with my walking foot as I did not want to hand quilt another large quilt. (One uses a walking foot attachment in order to machine quilt on a domestic sewing machine, FYI if you are not a quilter).
(BTW I have hand quilted six large double bed sized quilts over the years and each time, on finishing the quilt, have said I will not tackle another one. Ha ha.)
The quilt is called Hufflepuff and while it is big in size, it is not the big quilt that I want to make. I will continue to dream about and plan for the making of this elusive magnum opus.
To continue to brag, I have stitched 46 pieces this year: 16 small works, 18 quilts, and (nearly) 12 kantha samplers — hence the title of this post. Many times during the year I thought how lucky I was to be able to stitch my way through the days of uncertainty and boredom.
When the South African lockdown was extended for a further 21 days from March into April I marked this with the following kantha sampler, which is my favourite one.
The tutorials offered by various artists through the TextileArtist.org Stitch Club were excellent and stimulating and experimental. I produced many practice pieces and my favourite is this rendition of a succulent called Crassula falcata. It was inspired by Merril Cormeau’s workshop.
A high note was getting third prize in the Brother competition. The theme of the challenge was ‘my favourite things’ and I entered a quilt about gardening. The forked trowel depicted in the quilt was first created at a Stitch Club workshop led by Sue Stone.
It is good to know that the pair of quilts Day Tree and Night Tree give pleasure to the ones who commissioned their making.
The South African group of textile artists, Fibreworks, currently has an exhibition at the Tatham Gallery in Natal. I am proud to say that five of my pieces are hanging there. The exhibition spurred me on to complete a Kantha style piece called Full Lotus.
It is a companion piece to the following work, made earlier in the year and called Half Lotus
My year ended with the sad and terrifying news of the death from COVID of one of my close quilting companions. The statistics are no longer just numbers for me…