Unpicking the threads

I’ve been doing a LOT of hand stitching.

My Anemone quilt has been benefiting from the ‘stay at home’ order the government put out at the beginning of the week. This is how it looked before:

And this is how it looks now:

A bit of a difference, eh? It’s the other way up, of course, but you can see it’s a good bit bigger; two rows longer and another row wider. To give credit where it’s due, my friend Chippy stitched two of those big hexie flowers in, while we were on holiday together recently, but I’ve been industriously multiplying the blooms since then. For scale, each of those flowers is 65cm/10½ inches across at the widest point, so it isn’t one of my itty-bitty hexie quilts, and shows off those feature fabrics beautifully. I’m going to see how an extra row on the width looks, and then I may stop. It’ll be a good lap size, and if it’s much larger I’ll be really dreading the hand quilting.

I love English Paper Piecing (EPP). I find it soothing, portable and ridiculously easy. The most boring part is picking out the basting to release the papers. Even the endless work of hand quilting is funner. Basting stitches that go in quickly and easily are reluctant to release from the paper and fabric. Please ask why I stitch the fabric to the paper instead of around the paper. The answer is that I get sharper edges and corners and the assembly is therefore easier. It helps to ensure you always stitch fabric to paper shape the same way, so you know exactly where to find the end and the knot to pull out. You end up with a pile of random, messy bits of thread that get everywhere. It’s my least favourite part of the process.

In the same way, I’ve found it hard to pick apart the vast quantity of coronavirus data that’s being hurled at us. What do those graphs and figures even mean? But today I found a really clear and informative explanation of what we’re looking at, what it means, and how the management strategies of different countries is working for them. Take a look if you’re interested. Or ignore it if you’re over the whole thing :-/

Meanwhile, I’ll carry on pick, pick, picking…

48 thoughts on “Unpicking the threads

  1. My line went down just as I’d entered a reply…let me try again.
    Very pretty, and soothing work for busy hands.
    No dog walking is permitted here, does that apply to you as well? Thinking about Mouse.
    Also no jogging – you can imagine how devastated I am about that, will have to put my raging energy on hold for 3 weeks…..;)

    • katechiconi says:

      Fortunately we’re not yet locked down, so I’ve been able to walk Mr Mouse. Having said that, we don’t meet a soul when we’re out, usually, so who’d know? I’m feeling rather cheerful because my Tai Chi classes are back, but this time they’re live streaming from the teacher’s home and I can do them in my pyjamas in the kitchen. I was joined this morning by Mouse, who attempted to help by lying on my feet…

    • My family and I (UK) do and online PE course each morning from 9 – 9.30am, I have even got my sisters doing it as well, and we have a WhatsApp PE group. Don’t know if that would help. we watch PE with Jo Wicks on YouTube, but there are plenty of others flying around. Good luck.

  2. Glad I had a hand in this quilt 😍
    I’ll always remember it as being the one that started me off 😃
    Now a few weeks later I have a table runner finished and onto a place mat as we speak.
    My work is by no means anywhere near your glorious work but I’m sure in the next 20 or so years I’ll be as good as you 🥰
    Thank you for sharing your magic 💓

  3. Looking very pretty. I made some quilts like that in the 70s, with Laura Ashley prints, very soothing. Wish I had kept some now, but I gave them all away. I still have the metal templates somewhere …….

  4. cedar51 says:

    Like only for the hexie quilt unfolding – really amazing colour combinations that all seem to just seamingly work…

    did click over to graph and then clicked right back. NZ, having gone down into complete lockdown last night @ 12.00 – still getting grips all that…

    Today took a food-head-count including what is in the bin at the far back of my almost bottomless shelves/pantry and found something quite edible in the meal line..couscous! My main helper will try and get me some fresh veg/fruit this week…

    And the cutest person from the place where I’m getting the readymade meals this weekend – email from Amy Strudel with what looked a bread stick emoji attached to the Strudel…

    Now, I seem to be feeling I could do something in “making” line and although I had a false start with that f/b challenge, I flipped it over, removed the stitching – and at some point the reverse dividing stitches will be replaced…knots at the fore.

    • katechiconi says:

      Do you notice how much we’re all getting better and improvising, seeing the potential in the unlikely and working out how to make the best of things? I hope your ‘make’ works out!

      • cedar51 says:

        a heads up on why I say “make” – my art name is “catherine_the_maker” who now specialises in mixed media – I didn’t want to find myself having folk after art school, comment “that’s not what an artist does” meaning you paint at an easel with real canvas etc.

        I have an easel and I have canvases but I’ve been doing other things…

        and yes, I’m starting rewind back into the idea of “making” even though really it’s still fraught with some issues in the regular living arena.

        There are number of things I can do away from home, but not many and all classed as fresh air walks or grocery/essential needs. I don’t need much…So I’m doing what I did in the 1990s (although different house) I couldn’t do much, it was an effort to get to the letterbox…I was a pretty sick chickie 🙂 so now, the current letterbox is double that distance and I can walk smartly there/back to house…I went there today, found a big brochure delivered by the powers to be about what Level 4. Peered up and down and walked back down. I didn’t feel I needed much more fresh air…

      • katechiconi says:

        It’s amazing what preconceptions people bring to the word ‘art’. My degree is in ‘design’, another cover-all word which encompasses art, craft, technology and artisan makers. So I feel for your wish not to be categorised.

  5. knitnkwilt says:

    as I read your comment about gaining time (and neatness) by basting to the paper but hating the extra time of extracting the paper, I thought of my mantra: there are no shortcuts, only transfers of time.

  6. Marty K says:

    Had to get out of the house today, so I went for a drive down by the ocean. It was a particularly gorgeous day and I saw a man playing with his two retired greyhounds. Unfortunately, with social distancing, I wasn’t able to give them pets, but they made me think of Mouse!

  7. nanacathy2 says:

    What a very good article that is. Very clear and interesting. The only way to protect oneself is to assume everyone you meet is infectious and act accordingly. Love the quilting, hand sewing is very soothing. I like the gentle popping noise of the papers coming out, but the threads get everywhere!

    • katechiconi says:

      What I appreciated was that they dissected the information out a bit, so you don’t just look at a scary upwards-heading graph and worry. It is very clear that social distancing and self isolation are so far the only things that really work to prevent spread. People can be so dense about how much it matters… The quilt is not a new project, I started it in 2016, but it has taken a bit of a back seat to other things with a deadline… It’s fun to be back at work on it.

  8. tialys says:

    I nipped over and had a look at the article which was very interesting and more well thought out than most. I do wonder however, how anybody gets accurate figures at all when so few people are actually tested. In the U.K. I don’t think anybody is tested until they are taken to hospital in a bad way – my SIL self-isolated and was very ill for a couple of weeks which ended in a chest infection but she hasn’t been tested although she’s pretty certain she’s had it (she’s a senior nurse). There must be lots of people like that so surely the figures must be skewed.
    Anyway, my brain hurts now so on to the hexies. This is looking gorgeous and you’ve inspired me – as you do every time I see one of your hexie projects – to get on with mine. Perfect timing as I’ve finished all my current crochet projects and need something to do whilst watching re-runs of ‘Life On Mars’. I’ve read that some people glue their hexies down to the card or paper. It would certainly be quicker but wouldn’t it be more difficult to get the templates out afterwards? I can imagine the fabric pulling and stretching and fraying as you unstick it. Have you tried it?

    • katechiconi says:

      I know that we’ve done 5 times as much testing as in the UK, based on the available figures, which is why our figures are as high as they are. Anyone who fulfils the criteria and contacts their GP will get tested. Most are negative, but it does enable us to eliminate the colds and flu and quarantine those with the virus. Money well spent.
      Do crack on with your hexie project, I’m dying to see what you have. I did try the glue method, but found I was leaving shreds of paper on the back of the fabric and ruining a lot of perfect good papers, probably because I didn’t remove the papers immediately. Using the stitching method, I’m still using some papers I cut for my first really big hexie quilt, the queensize one on my bed, which I made in 2011. I also tried the ‘stitching fabric to itself’ method where the thread doesn’t pass through the paper.

  9. I much prefer paper piecing to machine stitching. I never knot the tacking threads – just leave a good tail. It makes it much easier to remove them because you can start at either end. I have hand quilted small pieces but for large ones I use buttons stitched through the layers at intervals or ramdom stitches in embroidery thread which I then knot like an old fashioned matress.

    • katechiconi says:

      I like a knot to catch hold of, so I can pull it through. Same result, different approach! You know, I’ve tried buttoned and tufted quilts, but for me, there’s nothing to beat the lovely texture of hand quilting. The trick is to find the design that will require least effort for maximum effect. I like clamshells, wavy lines or orange peel as an overall pattern, so it doesn’t fight with the colour and piecing.

  10. Alien Resort says:

    Interesting graph. The US has the most vertical line.

  11. Terri says:

    That was a very interesting and understandable article. Thank you for the link. I’m watching the news here in the US and seeing those numbers climb and climb, it makes me crazy to see all the people who are ignoring the stay at home orders. Very scary.

  12. kathyreeves says:

    Those 10 1/2 inch flower hexies must be gorgeous in person when the sheer size can be experienced. I’ll be checking that article when it’s my turn for the real computer. We are still semi normal here, no school and everyone being cautious, senior shopping hours, etc. but that is because we are in that little spot in the US where there are more cows than people, so we have been somewhat isolated forever. I know there are more cases than the 2 reported in the entire west half of the state, but we are extremely fortunate to have been on the front end of distancing, which for us, has actually been preventive. Again, thankful to have so many cows for neighbors!

    • katechiconi says:

      I think you’re probably in one of the safest places, then. And you can probably spot a stranger pretty quickly too, so staying out of his way gets easier.
      The hexie flowers are fun at that size, and it does make assembly go a lot faster, but they’re also a little unwieldy to stitch in… picking out the basting is even more necessary than with the small ones!

  13. kymlucas says:

    Reading a book you might enjoy, though it’s about embroidery. “A Single Thread,” by Tracy Chevalier – your talk of unpicking reminded me of it.

  14. You are nipping along – and the process sounds so complex it makes my head hurt 🙂 When I was staying with my daughter – back before cv19 had changed the world – she brought out a quilt I had made for her over 20 years ago. Nothing like the pieces you quilters make, but still it is very pretty and I was quite impressed with it. I’ve forgotten completely my making process – but once I was a quilter ❤

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s not at all complicated in real life. Take a piece of paper. Wrap fabric around it and baste in place. Join it to another piece by stitching the edges together. Remove the basting and paper. Making a quilt the other way is even easier, as you leave out the paper stage. You are *still* a quilter, just taking a long break ❤

  15. It’s such a delight to see this one coming along so nicely. Thanks for including the measurements. That adds tot he perspective of size. Photos just don’t get that job done. I’m glad you and Mr. Mouse are still out and about on walks. I’ll check out your web link now.

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes, I thought people might think it was a traditionally small one, whereas in fact those blooms are BOLD! Mouse was a big chicken yesterday; it was raining, and after he’d done his business 5 minutes into the walk, he turned us both round and headed straight for home. Such a wuss!

      • I’m laughing here because no dog likes the rain. I even put a raincoat and boots on mine and she just looked at me like I drove a knife through her heart and pride.

      • katechiconi says:

        Oh, poor girl… Mouse doesn’t object to clothing (although I’ve never tried boots) because he always had to wear racing vests in his working life. He likes his cosy winter coat, but I’ve yet to try him in a raincoat, mainly because when it rains here, it’s also still warm!

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