Monday, October 13, 2014

Around the world blog hop

It’s been a crazy year as we relocated from Kolkata, in eastern India to Bangalore in South India after having lived in Kolkata for nearly 40 years. I have been living in and out of suitcases this past year and haven’t really been able to sit down to uninterrupted ‘me’ time! So many changes and with that a lot of excitement, but also a fair share of challenges! Especially since  our home is not in the city proper, but a fair distance away!

Anyway Madhu’s idea of participating in this blog hop was just the incentive I needed to get back to looking at my sewing. Madhu ( ) is an amazingly talented person, as not only does she quilt, she paints and writes too. I love her ideas and her use of themes and combination of colours! She is a perfectionist as you can see from her quilts and I think has a liking for really complex designs which require precision and accuracy! I really admire her work. She is a patient and kind teacher and her year long QAL that she is hosting presently, is encouraging and challenging all of us to take our skills, as quilters, to another level!   Thanks Madhu!

I saw the questions asked and see that it doesn’t necessarily restrict me to talk only about quilting, so I am going to share some of the other stuff I do. I can’t sit still, or rather my hands cant, and this has been a huge joke in my family!

1. What am I working on? 
Lots of bits and pieces!

I rediscovered patchwork quilting a few years ago….the kids were grown and I had some time on my hands….So I finally started using all the scraps of fabric I had collected over the years. 
My daughter was delighted with it as some of the bits were from dresses I had sewn for her when she was this was a bonus!

As I have quilted I have realized that I am not really too keen on anything that is too symmetrical or regular, hence crazy patchwork appeals to me best. The concept of creating as you go is a challenge also a situation full of surprises, as the quilt unfolds as you go along.

At the moment I am in the process of completing a quilt for a young friend who has just had his first baby…the theme is owls! No pictures...but will post once its done!
I also have an art quilt which I have planned in my head and am beginning to design it! It will be in the same style of the one I made using the Ruth McDowell technique. I learnt the technique at a workshop in Thailand, from a very talented quilter Karen Sengel. 

I have been doing a lot of crochet as it is easier to carry around crochet thread! I love crochet, it is relaxing and soothes me! Having grandchildren makes it easy for me to crochet stuff for them! Just finished Peppa pig for Sufi and a crazy lion for Nikhil, my 2 grandchildren.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think everyone has their own style. I love our Indian fabrics, the traditional prints and the cottons that vary so much in texture and weight and very often prove to be a very real challenge! But they work for me. I have finally realized that I love to applique, again not in any planned manner, but to create as I go. I find I prefer hand sewing, so have come to a compromise and use both in my quilts. I often do the joining of the blocks with a machine, but most of the quilting by hand!
It’s a nice mixture.

3. Why do I write/create what I do? 
I guess because it fills my soul, gives me joy and a sense of achievement! It also serves as a way of recording something special, an incident or a memory! The colours of a lifetime...a present for my mom for her 80th birthday!

4. How does my writing/creating process work?
I don’t really think there is any system. I like making things, especially for my family, and that is possibly the greatest trigger. For me it is an expression of love, of caring that I have spent energy and time in making something. I get inspired by things I see around me, especially in nature and feel I would like to create it, either in a painting or in a quilt or in a crochet toy!

I am delighted to introduce 2 artists
Chumkie Mukherjee is a very talented quilter who lives in Canada. I love the way she uses traditional blocks and stamps them with her very own individual and unique sense of colour and design.  Having been friends since school, then losing touch and coming together again in this discovery of a shared passion, makes it all so special. 

The second is my daughter Nafisa,   a creative illustrator and also an avid crocheter (is there such a word?!!) I look at her work an am filled with pride and a sense of awe at her creative process and what she produces!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

WIP: crochet owl cushion!

Ever since I started making the toys for Rafael's mobile, I seem to have got into a very serious crochet mode! It made it so much more urgent to pick up the hook when I found this amazing little wool and needlework store called the Twee Shop, very close to where a Naeeda lives off Sukumvit in Bangkok. Masses of acrylic wool, in every conceivable colour.....and most importantly very reasonable, even more so as there was a sale on! So of course I went to town and now will be carrying back loads of it! It's not soft enough for blankets which you want to cuddle into, but great for throws and afghans and of course cushions and bags and toys...... So the immediate future looks as colorful as my wool!
Have started with an owl cushion...I found the pattern on etsy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Amigurumi toys for a mobile

I am  here in Bangkok, waiting for Naeeda to have her baby! We spend lots of time at home, or doing things like sorting the babies clothes, or chatting about how I felt when I was pregnant with her and so on! Such a very special and precious time. She wanted animals for a mobile that she has hanging over her baby's cot. She didn't like the commercially made here are a selection I made. Two in black and white as that's what a baby sees first, and then 2 coloured as she doesn't what her baby to get too stimulated either!!!!!
So hares what I cam up with

And close ups......


Monday, May 12, 2014

Under the Sea

Naeeda and David are having their first baby....a boy, in a couple of weeks time. I wanted to make a quilt which could be used as a play mat, since one will never really use a quilt in Bangkok!  I have been travelling incessantly and  was wondering how I could get it done. My designer daughter Nafisa helped me design it, and actually did the drawing.....So much detail, I groaned, but decided to go ahead and try and make it.
I love applique work, but like doing it by hand best! Since there were only 4 days to get this done, I decided to use the machine to make most of it! Some of the detailing was done by hand of course!
I am really pleased with the result!
The back ground came first, and then the fish and other details!


I used a mix of paper piecing and applique on this quilt. I have quilted around the fish, shells, the ship and mast and made some waves in the sea. I have purposely kept the quilting simple, as I find too much sewing makes the quilt very stiff!

The quilt tells a story.....Palash

A quilt tells a story…….

A picture is worth a thousand words - so the saying goes. In definition, this refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to encompass large amounts of data in one single image. For me, the true beauty of it lies in the fact that a picture can contain a thousand memories. Each element can bring to mind a mirage of memories – one instigating another, pushing the mind to spaces one assumed were long forgotten.

In my family, we take pictures perpetually – of holidays, of time spent together, of food, of festivities, of our home/s. We are spread across the world and this is how we keep in touch, we keep each other in close proximity to our lives, we share, and we miss.

After 40 long years of living in Kolkata, my husband and I have finally retired and have moved to the South. While packing up the contents of our photograph cupboard, I came across a picture of the palash tree. It was an instant travel back in time to the day we took the picture – my husband was playing golf at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club one early morning, and I had decided to walk the course with him. In West Bengal, the palash flower is a symbol of spring. And there it was - all a-bloom in its flaming splendor - a tree with its vibrant red splashed amidst all that green. It was like a loud proclamation of the season’s arrival, proudly standing out amongst the rest of its leafy counterparts. I can still recall the feeling of quiet awe, and complete amazement as we stood there, taking it all in.

Palash – Flame of the Forest – will always symbolize Bengal and home for me. It will always be an instant connect to Kolkata, to the auspicious red, the pujos, the smells, the language, the spirit of home.

When confronted with choosing a subject for the Alps Quilting Competition 2014, the first online quilting competition in India, this seemed like the most apt image to capture. These past few weeks while I’ve sat in my new home in Bangalore, working, piecing together this quilt, I have walked the course at RCGC once again, relived spring in Bengal, and remembered my roots – and a city that will always be home.

I used the piecing technique I had learnt in Chaing Mai under Karen Sengel who was a student of Ruth McDowell. It was the first time I had actually practiced the technique since I had made the original Rooster.
Some pictures of the process

And details of the quilting  I used free motion quilting for the first time and was delighted with the experience!

I made it through the first round, but not the final one. No disappointment though as I had loved every moment of making this quilt.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Quilt for Charity

I am a hand quilter! I really enjoy that....However this was a quilt in a rush, as I am about to miss the deadline to submit for a charity drive. The Desi Quilters are scheduled to make 50 quilts for a charity and hand it over to the charity on Sunday which gave me very little time!

I actually enjoyed the experience. Its fun and quick....and finally used my Bernina to do a little more than just sew straight lines....Fiddled with the machine and got to know her a little better, experimented with some FMQ, which is something I am scared all in all its been a great experience!
Valuable lessons were learnt as well....I find I only want to use Indian hand-loom cotton fabrics or block printed cottons. The challenge here is that most of these fabrics are of different weights, and some quite fine. I find that if the fabric is washed and then starched, ironed and then works, not easy, as it still shifts around, especially while quilting, but  it still works. Much easier to quilt it by hand, as there is much more control....but will continue the experiment!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nikhil's quilt WIP continued

Here it is....the top of Nikhil's quilt is finally ready. I am glad I have chosen the printed fabric for the borders....the green leaves go well with the theme of jungle animals. Since the majority of the work has been hand done, I will do the quilting by hand as well I think. Still not totally comfortable with FMQ on the machine, but hopefully will gain confidence as I practice! I posted the picture on my 2 quilting FB pages asking for suggestions on how to quilt, and have got lots of the next post about Nikhil's quilt should have a picture of it completed!