For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Out of Whole Cloth

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Dear Ann,
Please indulge me in a little glory-basking. I finished the Nani Iro Peonies quilt I started back in October.
It started as a simple whole cloth quilt. I had fallen in love with a piece of screenprinted linen, and I wanted to keep it in view all the time. What better way than to make a little wall quilt out of a yard of it?
I wanted to embellish it a little; almost, I suppose, so that I could say I had done something. I started by putting a little embroidered love onto Naomi Ito’s peony motifs. (Valdani perle cotton floss.)
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(Oh look! There are remnants of the basting stitches still there. [Runs off to snip basting threads out.])
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Embroidery, it turns out, is fun. Don’t know why I avoid it so assiduously.
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This bit was particularly fun. I had the feeling that I was chatting with Naomi Ito. We were talking about how scribbles could suggest peonies. (“Right on!” said Naomi.)
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From embroidery, it was not a big jump to applique.
All this handwork does take time. While I was stitching away, I was thinking about peonies. Before long, I had incorporated a couple of Personal Peony Memories.
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Taking coffee cans of peonies to the cemetery with my great aunts Elsie and Carrie…
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…in their mint green Corvair. (Never mind that I didn’t have mint green embroidery thread; that’s a mint-green Corvair.)
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A murky photo circa 1915, inkjet-spritzed onto fabric, depicting my grandpa, Carrie, Elsie and baby Alice on my great-grandfather’s or great-great-uncle Frank’s lap, their mother standing there with her eyes shut, like all mothers in snapshots. Applique being slow also, I had time to think how Joseph has the same blurry intensity when he is playing cards with his sister. (Sisters must be defeated; that hasn’t changed in a hundred years, or a thousand.) I had time to marvel that I knew all four of these children well, fifty-some years later. And what a funny stove they had. And wonder who took the picture.
At this point, or probably before this point, I start to worry that I am wrecking Naomi Ito’s beautiful fabric. I also start to not care.
Much hand quilting ensued, followed by the usual euphoric rush of attaching the binding and sewing it down, by hand, in one sitting, last night. Tha-rill!
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Too embarrassed to lay it down on the John Lennon memorial mosaic in Central Park– where I first saw rose petals on asphalt and thought, “Quilt!“–I did hang it in public, on a nearby pergola, tourists be damned. I live here, people! I need a place to photograph my FOs!
Because I know some quilters will be curious, here are full views of the front and back. I got the fabric at Modern Craft.
I’m very pleased with myself. I guess I’m a reluctant memory quilter.
Love,
Kay

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105 Comments

105 Comments

  1. More than worthy of covering up the Lennon mosaic! It’s absolutely GORGEOUS. Way better than any song ever written by the scouser. And yes, I know that’s controversial, but hey, why not? x x x

  2. What a LOVELY original piece of art. Congratulations! Isn’t the feeling of finishing a quilt incredible?

  3. Lovely! How did you treat the binding? I can’t see on the photos but it looks scalloped.

  4. Just lovely, Kay. Congratulations.

  5. The binding is just an ordinary straight binding with mitered corners. It looks scalloped because the fabric is dotty. An Amy Butler from a recent line, chartreuse dots on taupe-y gray; for some reason the shade is called “linen”, which is confusing since the fabric itself is ordinary quilting cotton.

  6. Kay My heart is so happy to see that quilt as Mama Hull’s pink peonies are about to spring forth for another season on this earth. She would be laughing in glee at the idea of it. What a delight. And what a special Spring unveiling. You have such a Southern soul for a midwestern girl.

  7. It is absolutely beautiful. Made more so by the incorporation of all those memories. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  8. I have pictures of my mother looking like that.
    The quilting is wonderful. I love how I’m learning what the lines do to the quilt. Thank you so much.

  9. Kay, that is just gorgeous. And the photo is totally arresting. I have seen stoves like that in daily use when I traveled in southeastern Turkey in the dead of winter in the 1990s. They’d have it in the living room, close off the rest of the house and live in that room all day, poking fuel into the stove as needed. (A pipe vented smoke up through the ceiling.)I always thought it was a good reason to visit places in the cold, not in summer heat.

  10. Kay…your quilts ALWAYS make me smile!!! There is just SOMETHING about them…something inescapably original, something simple yet complex at once, something calming and cheering…I love them as much as the things that you knit…thank you for sharing your “vision” and your art!

  11. I am not usually a really big quilt fan – other than for their warmth – I look but they don’t turn my crank the way knitting does. They are often beautiful, but I do not have a desire to quilt myself – but you quilt is quite arresting! Very beautiful and truly is art!

  12. Interesting! Modern arty front and then the traditional back…I love it!

  13. You are a needle-workin’ wild-woman. You and Ann are going to be in the history books. You’re our Barbara Walker and Elizabeth Zimmerman. Only more quirky, more kitcshy, more…goofy.

  14. Wow. You did this? This is fabulous! I’m in awe.

  15. Really cool! I love it!

  16. It looks all soft and antique-y and gorgeous, and then the back, BAM! what a surprise! Not sure why, but I sure wasn’t expecting that! Is it pieced, or did you find fabric that looks like strip quilting (not the top two Obvious pieces, but all that pink-y gradated part)? Anyhoo, it’s bee-yoo-teefull!

  17. Really fab. Such devotion. I can always count on you for a good diversion!

  18. Awesome! Just awesome So glad you are letting your inner quilter see some light. I admire your embroidery which shows the hand of the artist. I do love the textural element it ads to this piece.
    Very nice work. Dare I say heirloom? Congrats!

  19. Lovely!

  20. Fantastic.

  21. a thing of beauty. so individual, personal, simple and lovely. xo

  22. the peonies in the can going to the cemetery-I have fond memories of the same thing-it made me smile and remember my great-aunts-Emogene and Mae who were wonderful. I wish I had just one thing my aunt Emogene made, but sadly she died when I was an early teen-too young to appreciate anything-sigh… however do you do that photo thing? you are so clever.

  23. So fricken great – I want to make a queen size – I have much Nani from Pat’s trip to Purl Soho – I am in deep quilt thought now.

  24. What a piece of art you made, with such personal memories. I was thinking ‘I’d never be drawn to a piece of fabric like that’, probably because I live in reserved northern VT where wearing COLORS is enough to get comments. But, I loved reading about your process and personal embellishments. Thanks for opening my eyes to new possibilities!

  25. The quilt is beautiful. We had a stove like that in the house I grew up in, on the screened in porch. Great for fall nights.

  26. Move over Gees Bend… Quilt Artist Kay NYC is now a quilt artist. It is awesome! Love the quilting, too! Love circles!!!

  27. Absolutely lovely! Thank you for sharing. I can see I’m going to have to find my inner embroideress.

  28. Lovely! And can you share more of this Inkjet Sprintzing photo tranferring of which you speak?
    LOVE it!

  29. Lovely! And can you share more of this Inkjet Sprintzing photo tranferring of which you speak?
    LOVE it!

  30. Stunning use of the naniIRO fabric!!! I have been sew, sew, sewing with it lately, too. Her linen fabrics astound me every year. From one artist (you), to another artist (Naomi), I know she would be amazed.

  31. Stunning use of the naniIRO fabric!!! I have been sew, sew, sewing with it lately, too. Her linen fabrics astound me every year. From one artist (you), to another artist (Naomi), I know she would be amazed.

  32. Stunning use of the naniIRO fabric!!! I have been sew, sew, sewing with it lately, too. Her linen fabrics astound me every year. From one artist (you), to another artist (Naomi), I know she would be amazed.

  33. Holy Cow. I’m speechless (I know)! Kay, it’s incredible – truly the work of an artist. Did you always know you would someday end up here? You certainly belong.

  34. Holy Cow. I’m speechless (I know)! Kay, it’s incredible – truly the work of an artist. Did you always know you would someday end up here? You certainly belong.

  35. What an awesome work of art! The back reminds me of one of Jane Brocket’s Allotment quilts (or one of Kaffe’s). You need to hang it in a doorway or from the ceiling in the middle of the room so that both sides show. (Of course you’ll then need either very high ceilings and doorways or very short people in the house!!)

  36. Whoa…it’s kind of gritty and fab. Congrats.

  37. I.Love.This.A.Whole.Lot.

  38. What a wonderful quilt. I too have memories of taking peonies to the cemetery in coffee cans. Our house was on the way to the cemetery — my mom had a bed of beautiful peonies that often bloomed around memorial day. People would sometimes stop to ask if they could buy them. Thanks for sharing your memories and sparking mine!

  39. It does justice to the profound beauty of peonies.

  40. “one of a kind”, kay! such a tremendous amount of hand stitching……brave girl, that you are! it is wonderfully ALIVE!

  41. awesome quilt. i love the small stripe of greyish blu fabric on the back o it … btw what is that qabric?
    And i so think you should put it by the memorial…funny stares be darned!

  42. So cute! I have just started dabbling in the world of quilting–I’ve been pretty traditional and have only done hotpads out of single quilt blocks (small project–actual use!) and I too made the crazy decision to completely hand sew them. While the word “organic” is overused, I’m not sure what else really captures the feeling of doing something like that completelly by hand. There is such a connection with the generations of women who crafted before as well as a oneness with the medium… Perhaps some day I’ll make an artsy quilt like that. Until then, my humble quilt blocks continue to give me lots of learning experiences!

  43. So cute! I have just started dabbling in the world of quilting–I’ve been pretty traditional and have only done hotpads out of single quilt blocks (small project–actual use!) and I too made the crazy decision to completely hand sew them. While the word “organic” is overused, I’m not sure what else really captures the feeling of doing something like that completelly by hand. There is such a connection with the generations of women who crafted before as well as a oneness with the medium… Perhaps some day I’ll make an artsy quilt like that. Until then, my humble quilt blocks continue to give me lots of learning experiences!

  44. To quote Kevin Henkes, “Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow.”
    I am breathless.
    Makes my current quilt look a tad pale, I’d say.
    Wow.

  45. You’ve done her fabric more than proud. That’s wonderful.

  46. Oh, I see! You were really holding out on us with the back there, weren’t you?

  47. My impression is that a lot of strange things might happen in New York that pass as art. Not that they aren’t, but in other places they might bring on, say, a criminal record or something. Your quilt is gorgeous and has as much business on the mosaic as someone’s feet or rose petals or even rain. Get yourself back to Central Park and live life with no regrets. You have a certain example of fearlessness to set for the rest of us. Really. If, no when, I come to NYC, I’ll take a picture of something I made on the mosaic. I’m inspired.

  48. Robin above, used my Kevin Henkes quote..but really..WOW

  49. What a beautiful way to decorate a piece of cloth. I really love it. Must put down my knitting and get back to quilting. cheers

  50. That is AMAZING. Simply stunning!!!

  51. this is lovely, especially the way the light shines through and makes it glow, ghosting the colourful back piecing….I wonder if there is some way to make a quilt so light and airy you could use is as a kind of fabric stained glass….? Probably a silly idea ( there’d be a big fading problem I guess….) Anyway, I love the embroidery, the freedom of the scribbley images….I wish I’d made it (only ever made one, for my first born…now you got me thinking and remembering and full of that odd mystical longing to do ‘something’!…..maybe that’s what quilts are for?! )

  52. WOW! That is fabulous. Really, really beautiful!

  53. This quilt totally takes my breath away. It is so beautiful. You are an artist, Kay!

  54. It is beautiful, and very moving.

  55. Now that…that’s a work of art. Not that I’m the least bit surprised. Beautiful.

  56. Brilliant, Kay. I’m a reluctant quilt admirer but that is inspired art.

  57. Breathtaking! The front. The back. Everything. So full of emotion and movement.

  58. How lovely! I’ve been thinking of peonies lately, and my grandmother — I want to find a peony lace pattern to incorporate into a shawl.

  59. Kayffe.

  60. It’s so beautiful, and spring-y. So evocative. So many tiny stitches! Wow.
    And peonies — every Memorial Day we packed into the back seat of Grandpa’s car and drove to the cemetery clutching Mason jars full of peonies picked from the abundance at my grandparents’ house. I suspect Grandma used to go back the next week and retrieve her jars. A Mason jar was(is) a valuable thing.

  61. Gorgeous. A proper art piece. I aspire to making something that beautiful some day.

  62. As usual, your eye and your craft just knock me off my feet. So beautiful. There is no one like you.

  63. As usual, your eye and your craft just wow me. Did you ever see an exhibit of Picasso drawings? There is no mistake, never an infelicitous line. Your work is like that.

  64. “funny stares be damned” indeed. i, er, thought we (as a knitting community) were over the funny stares; embraced the funny stares.

  65. Oh my stars, that is lovely!

  66. Speechless.
    (Though apparently, that doesn’t leave me Commentless, because I can’t just leave this un-commented on).

  67. Oh,Kay – this is so inspiring! Nice to see how you used some photo-on-fabric, too. Just what I needed to brighten up my morning – thank you!!

  68. That quilt is awesome and lovely. At the same time.

  69. Truly beautiful. So creative and artistic. I am now resisting taking up quilting.
    Beautfully photographed as well.
    (Just so you know, the small, petty part of me is choosing to believe that you took this pic outside because your house was overrun by a squad of dustbunnies, a platoon of dirty dishes, and a phalanx of toys.)

  70. You HAVE to stop showing quilts. I can’t get into quilting. I can barely do knitting right now!

  71. Spectacular. I kept trying to reach through the computer screen to touch it. Really, really great.

  72. The quilt stirrs something inside of me:imagination, light, whimsy, tradition, how it feels to quilt through the 3 layers (so satisfying!)–just kind of hard to put it exactly into words.
    This is one of the craft traditions that calls to me from all of the women who have gone before who had some fabric, and created a dream.
    Thanks so much for this sharing.
    LoveDiane
    P.S.–The back is great, too!

  73. Simply, perfectly fabulous. I love it.

  74. You’ve created a beautiful work of art. Congratulations. I’ll expect to see your gallery showing in the not too distant future. :)

  75. some women kay – you can look at their work after hundreds of years and a breeze of love and caring caresses you. thanks for sharing. maha

  76. Wow it really does look like rose petals on pavement. Good job you.

  77. Really great- I had been thinking along the same lines as far as embellishing my latest quilt top. I really like your ideas here and of course, that you executed it so beautifully (my quilt is still unfinished (!)).
    What really makes it great is the story in it. I have a quilt that my mother-in-law made that I love to show people, because it has a special story too.
    Great job! Some day I am going to NYC just to hang out in Central Park and photograph you photographing your latest FO!! And that will be the special memory I tell my grandkids about!

  78. Really great- I had been thinking along the same lines as far as embellishing my latest quilt top. I really like your ideas here and of course, that you executed it so beautifully (my quilt is still unfinished (!)).
    What really makes it great is the story in it. I have a quilt that my mother-in-law made that I love to show people, because it has a special story too.
    Great job! Some day I am going to NYC just to hang out in Central Park and photograph you photographing your latest FO!! And that will be the special memory I tell my grandkids about!

  79. Really great- I had been thinking along the same lines as far as embellishing my latest quilt top. I really like your ideas here and of course, that you executed it so beautifully (my quilt is still unfinished (!)).
    What really makes it great is the story in it. I have a quilt that my mother-in-law made that I love to show people, because it has a special story too.
    Great job! Some day I am going to NYC just to hang out in Central Park and photograph you photographing your latest FO!! And that will be the special memory I tell my grandkids about!

  80. I love how you’ve incorporated all those crafty, personal, peony ideas! Really wonderful.

  81. absolutely amazing!

  82. http://www.lisahannigan.ie/
    this singer looks great. hey: you put knit stitches & applique some felt on it, chances are i’m gonna be charmed.

  83. oh and her video for ‘lille’ is really, really fun.
    right! off the internet now and onto working… xo

  84. That’s wonderful. Kay, you’re making me want to dust off my sewing machine and start quilting again!

  85. bravo bravo bravo

  86. that is one of the most beautiful quilts i’ve ever seen.

  87. that is one of the most beautiful quilts i’ve ever seen.

  88. *Love* it.

  89. Lovely quilting! Are you still doing rug hooking? I want to tell you that ever since you posted that cat’s paw rug, I set aside my knitting needles and have become an obsessive hooker!

  90. I agree with some of the other commenters that this work is more than “mere”a quilt, it is a piece of art.
    Very impressive!
    Thanks for sharing.

  91. YOU are an artist!

  92. Kate, this makes my heart sing. I love it–the stories, memories and the love all stitched into one. Beautiful.

  93. That just totally took my breath away.

  94. Kay,
    This just made my heart sing lookin’ at it! I love it–the stories, memories and all that love stitched into one beautiful thing. Beautiful.

  95. Thank you for all the detail photos – LOVIN’ all that hand stitching!!
    I’m so glad you discovered the joys of scribbling with thread. Way fun. Ya know, you can scribble with the hand-quilting, too…..

  96. love the quilt..I have some great old family photos so you gave me the kick to make a quilt. Love the combo of painting,embroidery,photos..so freeeeeeeee!

  97. It is really beautiful! You are such an artist! I should take this opportunity to thank/curse you for giving me the quilting bug, also. :^)

  98. I LOVE this quilt!!!!!

  99. absolutely gorgeous. love the scribbles.

  100. Hey Kay, Martha from Princeton here. I was struck by the detail on your Naomi Ito quilt because I also have memories of taking peonies to the cemetary with my grandmother and aunts. It was on Memorial Day, which they called Decoration Day and peonies were known for just that purpose and holiday… coming into flower just in time. Wonderful time in etsy the other night!

  101. Oh my. I’ll gush if I say too much. Stunning. I love echo quilting better than anything. Everyone reminds me I don’t have to quilt the rows so closely together while I remind them that’s what I love to do. You make me happy knowing there is someone else who loves this as well. Love the backing too.

  102. the most fabulous quilt i ever saw! =)

  103. Wow, that is gorgeous!

  104. Your quilt is just lovely. Thank you for the closeups of the detail.
    Peonies are sentimental favorites for me too. There is just nothing like them.

  105. well, that’s awesome. You should be pleased with yourself!