How amazing are these awful Christmas kittens panels?!?! There’s three of them but I do love this kittens-in-a-basket one the best. I mean, what’s more traditionally tacky than kittens in a basket!?
I snapped up these panels from the charity shop a few months ago for the back of my Christmas quilt:
– if you haven’t already caught it on Flickr or Instagram. It’s one single gigantic (60″ square) Swoon block, all made from stash and scraps and just a few purchases to get enough of the right colors.
The top is all sewn now and I’m putting the back together from these ridiculous kittens, some of my low-volume scraps from the front, and that floral vintage sheet above – yes, it really is that bright! I love vintage sheets or fabric so much – and even better if there’s tacky cats involved!
High in my Top 5 Things About Living Near(-ish) London list is being able to visit the Tristan Quilt from time to time. Housed at the Victoria & Albert Museum (pretty much my favorite museum ever – it just feels so lovely in there), the Tristan Quilt is a whole cloth quilt depicting scenes from the story of Tristan and Isolde — made in Italy around 1360 – 1400. This absolutely blows my mind.
The quilt has apparently been re-stitched together in pieces so I guess we can’t know exactly how it was when it was first made. But it really doesn’t matter – these are tiny, tiny stitches made over SIX HUNDRED years ago. Someone’s hands made those stitches – probably lots of someones, you would think. People who are now completely forgotten, who have no names and no faces but left this behind for us to admire. Real-life HANDS worked on this. I can’t even explain why, but it makes me all choked up and teary-eyed just typing this.
This is one of the clues that has led me to believe that my future lies in embroidery and hand-stitching somehow. Who knows in what way exactly – maybe even just as a blogger – but somehow. I love knitting so, so much, it’s one of my most favoritest things to do in the world and I get more comfort from yarn and wool than I can say – but it never moves me to tears. Knowing that real people stitched this quilt so many years ago so that I can admire every stitch today? It gets me every time.
What did they think about while they were stitching? Did a group work on it all at once, like a quilting bee? What did they talk about? Were they worried about loved ones far away? Were they falling in love and full of hope? Did they laugh and gossip and joke about the social goings-on of their time? Will people in the future see things we hand-stitched and wonder the same things?
I’m overwhelmed by these thoughts when I admire old embroideries or quilts – it makes me feel both completely insignificant and part of a huge history all at once. And all of this is why I like to visit the Tristan Quilt. I have been to see it many times (I stop by it nearly every time I’m at the V&A) and I could spend hours just looking at the stitches and thinking about these things.
So how fitting that, after a quick visit with the quilt last-last weekend, I should meet up with my &Stitches pals Nicole and Carina and my now new friend Sami. We chatted and stitched in the V&A courtyard and passed a lovely sunshiney afternoon together. Is it possible that, although hand-stitching seems like a solitary activity, the social aspect is a huge part of its magic? I’m a dork and didn’t get a photo, sadly, but Nicole got a snap of our assorted stitching and posted it on her blog – those are my 1930s hexagons there! What a wonderful day – I hope we can do it again one day, friends!
If you’d like to see or learn more about the Tristan Quilt, the V&A’s catalogue entry is here, including many clear photographs and detailed information about the materials and creation of the quilt.
Woohoo! My New Wave Quilt is finished! Another thing off my finish-it-now to-do list – I’m just knockin’ those suckers back now! – and ready to use for the summer. Because it’s lightly quilted, it’ll be nice and light for summer nights, even if it is only a large lap quilt (a good size when you don’t want lots of blanket, but can’t stand to sleep without one).
I chose to use Kona Charcoal and Kona Pomegranate for the sashing and binding, respectively, because it was just a bit off the obvious color choices the prints I used suggested. The easy option would’ve been a dark brown for the sashing, and some kind of gold for the binding, but a friend of mine has the Kona color card (lucky gal) and I had the luxury of sitting with my pile of prints, holding each one against all the different Kona shades. I felt that the Charcoal really did the prints justice while still standing up for itself and contributing something of its own, and the Pomegranate tied together all those bits of pink and red and kind of girl-ified the masculine colors a bit. I’m so so pleased with my choices!
I used a vintage sheet – well, actually, part of a duvet cover – as the backing, pieced with a strip of a vintage pillowcase. I got both for peanuts at the charity shop I volunteer for – actually, the pillowcase was a big mess and would’ve been tossed, all full of holes and marker stains, weirdly. I managed to chop out just enough good fabric to piece that strip in – here’s to making awesome use of garbage! I love that main print, from the duvet cover, but it really did need to be broken up with something that would brighten it up.
I’ve named this one for The Partridge Family (audio of this, perhaps their most classically corny song, here) because this quilt is all about the gloriously brown-and-gold colors of the 1970s and, let’s face it, when am I ever going to be able to name something for The Partridge Family again?! This is no joke, I really do love them – I’ve got the dvds, the albums, even books about the show. That zany singing family and their absurdly cheesy, terrible songs just make me so very happy!
Working down my list, now that my mini-quilt is done, I’ve turned my attention to my New Wave quilt (pattern by Elizabeth Hartman from Oh, Fransson). Although I’ve been gathering the perfect arrangement of fabrics for well over a year, I put this quilt top together in a massive sewing frenzy over the bank holiday weekend at the end of May. It was like a blur of thread and bits of fabric.
This one’s all for me-me-me, in all it’s gloriously brown-and-gold 70s-ness. Yum! I’m even using a vintage sheet as the backing. These are totally, completely, not like my normal color choices and maybe that’s why I love it so much. Do you ever find yourself drawn to things that seem wildly un-you and love them double-much for it? I think it’s important to sometimes treat ourselves to something that’s completely out of the ordinary, whether it be fabric choices or a day out. It shakes things up.
Anyway, I pieced the back and basted it shortly after that weekend, but it was put aside for other things until now. Now the quilting’s almost done and I’ve got the binding (HOT pink, baby!) all ready to go.
Expect an FO post on this one soon – I’m actually quite in need of a light quilt for these suddenly hot summer nights, so I’m anxious to get it done!