Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

Speaking of Our Patchwork Heritage

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Dear Ann,
I still buy a lot of knitting, sewing and miscellaneous craft books. I tend not to need a book for a specific pattern; I use books as sparks. I choose the ones that make me want to go in the direction the author is going. Once I get that spark, I’m off to the races, and the thing I make usually turns out to be different from the thing that inspired it.
This would explain my collecting Japanese books and magazines, when I can’t even read the instructions. They show possibilities. If I don’t bring them home, I won’t have them handy when I am searching for the right idea and need to sit down with a teetering stack of inspiration. The quilt that inspired Carrie’s quilt (aka My Life’s Work or at least it seemed like it at the time) is a simple concept, easy to describe: a large-scale log cabin with crazy big prints and found fabrics. But I needed to consult that specific picture again and again, to imitate it or even to NOT imitate it.
This all brings me to Alicia Paulson’s book, Stitched in Time: Memory-Keeping Projects to Sew and Share from the Creator of Posie Gets Cozy. (Ann. I do believe Alicia is trying to challenge us in the Long-and-Impossible-to-Remember Subtitle Competition! Upstart!)
Normally the phrase “memory-keeping” would send me screaming from the room. I have an unreasonable horror of scrapbooking as it is generally practiced. All those smiley pictures with happy sentiments expressed on stickers, stencils, etc. — I am afraid that glossing up one’s mementoes, making them chirpy and shiny, obscures the real memories. (A game I play: “Think of a Memory of One of My Babies. Now Think of One That Is Not In a Snapshot.” This is a really hard game. I worry that photography replaces memory. But I keep taking photographs.) To me, the messy memory, the blurry memory, or even the wrong memory is worth more than a packaged, generic image of happiness. Life is complicated! That’s what we like about it!
Ahem. But Alicia’s book is not about this tarted-up kind of memory. So it’s giving me crazy sparks. Look at that apron up top. An old recipe card! That’s a concrete touchstone. It conjures a lot, without saying “GRANDMA ROCKS” in Cartoon Sans. (My grandmothers were wonderful, rich characters whom I think of, wistfully and with awe, every day. However, they did not “rock”.)
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This project, the Farmboy photo frame, is the one that got me going. Simple, beautiful execution of an idea (photo on fabric) that could so easily go cheesy if you’re not careful.
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I warn ya, this book could lead me to stitch up a raft of small photo quilts. Despite my best intentions, they may be sugar sweet. People may be smiling. (It does happen.) First I have to figure out the mysteries of inkjet printing onto fabric. But now I have a direction, and a picture to stare at. Thanks, Alicia!
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Aaaaaaiiiiiiiiieeeeeeee! Run for your lives! Photo quilts are coming!
Love,
Kay

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52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. I have friends who do picture quilting and they come out looking quite nice and surprisingly the ink jet fabric photos hold up well. These same friends also have ink jet t-shirts they have done for the kids and family reunions. Have fun with it. :)

  2. I confess, I am not a big take a million photos and reminisce person, it makes my extended family crazy. But I am already feeling the urge to run get grandma’s recipe file out and start whipping out aprons for my family’s Christmas presents. Please stop sharing these things! I am supposed to have a life outside of crafting, but there’s just not enough time, and you aren’t helping here.

  3. I have a plum pudding recipe in my great grandmother’s hand sent from Ireland to my grandmother. I wondered for years what Sultanas were. I’ve never made it, anything with suet just doesn’t appeal. But aprons? Perhaps a use at last. BTW, the liveblogging was the best inaugural coverage ever. Especially for those of us whose work computers block video…

  4. The photo quilt idea reminds me of the movie Stepmom (though hopefully yours has a happier ending!!!!). One of my grandmothers really did rock, and she was a great cook, maybe I could make a masculine apron with one of her recipes for my husband (since he is a chef, he wears them more than me)

  5. o, to have style editors who could make details of my life & my crafts so charming, so photogenic, so– je ne sais quoi. even the casserole dish has got it! fabu!

  6. Luckily for me, I am not trying to keep up. I think one fabric frame would do me. I am still cutting out fabric pieces for my “Hey, I think I will quilt too, quilt.”

  7. Dear Kay,
    You are a bad influence. I have been fighting an unhealthy urge to run out and buy quilt books. This may just have pushed me over the top. Well, that and the thought of my grandchildren sleeping under a quilt I made, just as I sleep under quilts made by my grandmother, great-aunts, and great-grandmother. (Those Nebraska women – something else, lemme tell ya. Oh wait, you know all about those gals, don’t you?)

  8. Rick-rack…man, I haven’t seen that stuff since people used “man” as a place-holder in conversation. (See “dude” in the current lexicon.) Somehow even rick-rack looks cool here. You are too powerful.

  9. A big, rousing AMEN to your comments about scrap booking! Camping is FUN!!! (sheesh)

  10. Hey, if you happen to come up upon a tutorial of how to ink jet print onto fabric, would you mind posting it? This seems like a good idea for Christmas ornaments and such.

  11. The apron idea is brilliant. What a lovely gift idea it would be for my sisters next Christmas, to use one of our late mother’s recipes cards (she died the day after Christmas, just a few weeks ago).
    Um, and if I get going on it NOW rather than wait until December like I usually do, I’ll be ahead of the game. Yippee.

  12. If you have a Jo-Ann’s fabric outlet near you, they have fantastic ink-jet fabric. It comes in a package that looks like regular ink-jet photo fabric. The directions are very clear and sensible.

  13. Yeah, I am anti-scrapbooking. I don’t get it and have no desire to become a scrap booker.
    I have to admit I am also anti- photo quilt. Just does not do it for me. I make “memory quilts” “portrait quilts” but just don’t want to do photo quilts.
    I have done 2 for other people who wanted photos on them, but they did not do anything for me.
    While the pieced photo frame is adorable, in general, I prefer to keep my memories as mental images.

  14. “Teetering stack of inspiration.”
    I love that! So much better than “the books that you should have cleaned up by now” or the “do you ever expect to actually use those” books.
    I’m going with your version.

  15. This is going to be so much fun!
    We’ve done photo quilts for teachers, and they are sweet. Yes, the kids are smiling in the pix. But only because we took the pix before we knew they would be a photo quilt!
    There are ink-jet fabrics to print on, and also iron-on transfers. I’ve used both. The fabric I had wasn’t great, but this was several years ago. The transfers make the fabric stiff. Experiment!

  16. I have used the inkjet iron on transfer paper – which you print onto and then iron on to fabric. Looks good, comes in packs for light and dark colors, press hard when you iron (on a hard surface!) and these usually stand up well to washing/use/care. Just follow the directions closely (sometimes you have to reverse the image before printing, sometimes not, so pay attention!).
    Also, just recently discovered something called LaserTran. It allows you to put photographs on anything – and I mean ANYTHING (check out lazertran.com and your life will be changed. I promise). I have yet to use the LaserTran but am planning to. Do contact with comments and questions – putting photos on fabric is near and dear to my heart!!
    Good luck!!

  17. So glad that somebody else collects books for the same reason I do…inspiration, kick-starting, and just really pretty pictures. Am I going to make something out of all those books? Heck no! Am I going to look at most of them over and over? Well, there’s 3 piles around my seat on the couch and the dogs and DH are not happy.

  18. To Mary Lou: in case you hadn’t yet found out, sultanas are golden raisins. Have you ever made that recipe, or did the suet put you off?

  19. Isn’t ironic you like to look at pictures in books?

  20. Isn’t it ironic you like to look at pictures in books?

  21. Sorry to see the slams on scrapbooking. I’ve never done traditional but have dabbled in digital scrapbooking. It’s lots of fun and can be as glowing or non-glowing as you choose. It’s like knitting–some knit the jester hat and some the London beanie–your scrapbook pages reflect you and your memories. Also, it creates a lovely (or not) and loving document for your children and grandchildren to learn about their Mom/Grandma’s memories of them.

  22. Ok. I am glad to know I am not the only Mom afllicted with messy/blurry/wrong memory syndrome. I prefer to think that my memories have been pushed aside by Really Good Ideas.

  23. The photo on inkjet thing is really easy–you just need to get the right paper stuff which you can get online. There is something irrestible about this quilting stuff though–goes together fast with a sewing machine and is completely useful. Only problem is that it’s not portable. Very difficult to bring the machine on the subway.

  24. Cute picture – is that you in the glasses?

  25. OMG, I can totally tell which one you are! You still look like yourself! :)
    Thanks for blogging the inauguration, by the way. I’m glad I wasn’t the only verklempt one!

  26. I’ve already got the recipe cards scanned in! Can’t wait for you to update us on printing onto fabric – brand names and techniques! I love the way the orange flowers in the farmer boy photo are continued into the patchwork. I like that kind of framing – continuing the line, blurring the edges.

  27. Am I the only one who thinks the apron would be more practical if the recipe were printed upside down? So you could check your measurements without taking it off?

  28. I made my mom a big photo quilt for her 60th birthday using iron-on transfer paper. I definitely wish I had thought ahead and used printable fabric, since the transfer paper was a little stiff and had a lot of errors. But it still turned out fabulous, and she loves it! (You can see it on my blog, if you want!)

  29. I can’t wait to see what you have in mind! I’m sure it will be perfect, not tacky at all!

  30. The Kayness! In the photo! I’m DYING! Can’t wait to see the photo quilt of that one. I think blue & whites. Though will it get too patriotic?
    Can’t get over the photo.

  31. I agree about the scrapbooking/Stepford Memories thing. But it still does not stop me of taking millions of pictures and having a ton of scrapbooking stuff mocking me…
    This Christmas I took all the clothes from when the kids were babies and cut all the special bits out (like little flowers or little trucks, ruffled hems, pockets) and my mom helped me make a quilt for my husband. We did sort of a random patchwork quilt with pictures of the kids in some of the blocks. It turned out amazing. Even though I had planned it and visited it thru the sewing phase, I still cried when I saw it.

  32. Also, Rowanettes, I am still waiting to hear if you have any opinion of Rowan Damask yarn. I was thinking of it for a shawl for my mother-in-law. Have you ever worked with it? It is very pretty, but also looks as if it might be annoyingly slippery. What do you think? The shawl pattern I have in mind is not a lace one, it is the Fiber Trends Ruffles and Ridges Shawl. Any advice is appreciated!

  33. I tend to think that photos enhance the memories. It’s so easy to forget details, so that flipping through a photo album reminds you of childhood vacations you forgot, or the third cousin you met at 12 and then promptly dropped from your mind. I think, the more pictures, the better! Just so long as it doesn’t actually keep you from LIVING your life, too.
    And, I love that picture of you!

  34. what a cutie pic of you, kay! i think your spec frames are coming back in fashion!

  35. Nancy Zieman just did a series on photograph quilts on PBS. You might check her out….. Nancy’ Notions.

  36. @ Sarah
    I definitely thought the same thing — the recipe should be upside down so that you can actually use the thing to make Grandma’s best cookie recipe instead of it just being decorative.
    Maybe to be more artistic it could have one piece right side up and one piece upside down

  37. You are so nice. Thank you sweet Kay :-)

  38. The writing about quilting in this “knitting” blog has re-aquainted me with my love of the craft. I had put interest in it by the wayside a few years ago, as I wasn’t doing any of it, and buying fabric for absolutely no reason was getting too expensive…
    In looking for a kniting group, I found a group of (mostly) knitters who are working on a quilt. I was welcomed in with open arms to the group–we’re making a quilt to commemorate Henry Hudson (400th anniversary)–given my applique block design idea and fabric the very first meeting I attended.
    Some of the more experienced ladies have designed and appliqued more than one blck. I am so happy with my “just one”.
    We’re now preparing for the next stage, which will be the actual hand quilting–the more experienced ladies teaching us “newbies”.
    It is so nice to see something absolutely, a group effort at that, new coming into being. The whole time, though, I still knit at home. There is a lot of “knitting talk” around the quilting circle, too. (Oh, and we have snacks…) :)
    LoveDiane

  39. And why the heck not?? Love the idea. “People may me smiling” made me smile. :)
    You go, woman.

  40. I did quilted wall hangings a few years ago with photos printed onto fabric. At that time you had to soak the fabric in a solution to set the print, today you can get a package ready to go. There is a choice of thickness of fabric, so it would lend itself to quilting.
    I like the recipe card idea and may go with that next Christmas. I have some old handwritten cards that would do nicely.
    tp

  41. Loved the photo quilt idea. However — sicko that I may be — my first thought was of aprons with recipes for cocktails for my sisters-in-law, complete with rick-rack and ’50’s style fabric. Cheers!

  42. Kay — you’ve given me an idea for Christmas gifts the sisters-in-law will love. Aprons, complete with rickrack and ’50s style fabrics, with cocktail recipes. Thanks for your endless imagination and Cheers!

  43. Wow. that last picture is a classic. WAAAAYYY before my time :-)

  44. Hey, Kay –
    Scrapbooking has changed a lot in the past 5 yrs – not that this was really the point of your post, just had to mention. It’s not all cutesy and stickery like it used to be. Check out http://www.clubscrap.com – really classy kits with instructions just like knitting patterns. I now have a paper stash AND a knitting stash. Eeek!

  45. love this page
    so many ideas just swirl around ones head
    thank you for shareing

  46. BTW, luuuvv the family pic with sibs. Why not take a “modern day” pic, each of you in the same position but looking as you are now?
    You can have the two pics side by side on the quilt, with family pics all around (like with all the first cousins–your kids, their kids, etc). You can make 3–one for each of you. Oh, and a 4th for the grand parents.
    Theeen, there can be a whole other one for hubby’s side of the fambly…
    The possibilities are endless!
    LoveDiane

  47. How about a quilt that was actually a photomosaic? Or pixelate a photo, blow it up and spend the next seven years shopping for just the right shades of fabric for each pixel? Uh-oh, I’m talking myself into this, and I haven’t done any patchwork since I made a doll quilt when I was ten.

  48. If you aren’t the cutest thing ever!

  49. And the fou thing is you’re still that adorable (en Français). Please don’t be surprised if I pinch your cheek at the next phila*craft forum.
    Your sister matching adorable and your brother looks like he’s dying to tell the photographer a knock knock joke he just learned.

  50. It is so refreshing to find someone who can articulate how I feel about things I am never sure others think about!!! I feel the same way about scrapbooking & putting cutesy stuff on memories. I also collect books and magazines for the spark – I have so many post-its stuck on patterns that will never get made, but have given me inspiration for other ideas!!
    Thanks for the affirmation – I need all I can get!!!

  51. It is so refreshing to find someone who can articulate how I feel about things I am never sure others think about!!! I feel the same way about scrapbooking & putting cutesy stuff on memories. I also collect books and magazines for the spark – I have so many post-its stuck on patterns that will never get made, but have given me inspiration for other ideas!!
    Thanks for the affirmation – I need all I can get!!!

  52. Frequently I can’t match up adults with photos of them as kids… but I can *totally* tell which one you are! It’s awesome to think that you’ve always been Kay, if you know what I mean? :)