Monday, June 13, 2011

A Really Good Quilting Book?

So obviously, I'm hardly in a position to start recommending books... after all I still don't have one absolutely "all done" quilt under my belt yet. But I do love to have all sorts of books at hand when preparing for a journey. I have stacks of weaving, spinning and knitting books and magazines. Scouting out book treasures at second hand stores is a favorite pastime - and evey once in a while I find a gem. There are an amazing number of quilting books in secondhand stores! At this point since I know so little about quilting, my skull is like a big empty pit waiting for ingredients to get thrown in, stirred up and start simmering. Like spinning, weaving and knitting, quilting appears to have it's controversies, leaders and ... are there quilting heretics? In knitting circles Anna Zilboorg wrote and excellent book Knitting for Anarchists. It is about freeing oneself from "the tyranny of patterns". I had been knitting for a long time before I read this book. It answered alot of technical questions I had - and I was stunned just "how much sense" it all made. After a lifetime of "English knitting" I  converted to "continental style". I confess that although continental knitting is considered a faster type of knitting - I am not that fast. But I love the "economy of the stitch" and since knitting is yet another "love of process" craft for me - I'm in it for the process - not the end product.  It's also great for fair isle knitting which I enjoy immensely - but I digress...
(Above: Library Quilt by Winnowing Designs).
Back to quilting...
I have been scouring second hand stores for "how to" quilt books. I think I have found a keeper!

The Art of Classic Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave and Sharyn Craig covers alot of ground. It talks about setting up your space, tools of the trade, lighting, and techniques. Because it is coauthored by two quiltmakers who have differing opinions about ways to approach a technique or solve a particular problem, they have "agreed to disagree."  Offering both their experiences and rationale for why they do something a particular way, leaves it to the reader to read, weigh out the pros and cons and decide how they want to proceed - I think this is a good way to build a skill base. Step up! If it doesn't work - step back-review and re-approach. Isn't that what learning is all about? What process is about? It seems somewhat calamitous to embark on a journey without a clue of where you are going, only to arrive "somewhere" "by accident" with no idea how to get there again if it's great... and if it sucks? Wouldn't you like to know where you screwed up?
There is a good deal of information about fabric. To prewash or not. What to wash with. Colour choices, patterns, selecting a palette (ugh! this can be the bane of many a fibre artist - irregardless of their medium).
Building your stash - I admit I really perked up here! No matter what the medium, I am a great builder of stash. Granted every few years I need to thin out my stash, but this is where I think quilting and I will get along splendidly.I think it will be different from my other stash relationships.
For example...
Knitting - Buying miscellaneous balls of yarn (usually a one ball left sale) has resulted in many boxes of stash - with no plan. Never enough to make anything substantial. I can only knit so many scarves - and a good deal of what I've purchased is not scarf appropriate... I have enough to knit about 35 sweater arms - as long as they can be different colours, weights and fibre content. How about a cashmere dishcloth?
Spinning - I am a 50 gram baggie addict. Which has resulted in a few buckets full of wonderful 50 gram skeins of handspun yarn... but again not enough to make something...
Weaving - well what can I say. I wove some really great tea towels. I love them. But I really don't (plug your ears, cover your eyes) like weaving. Sad but true. I wish I did. I like planning weaving. I like wrapping warps... but when it comes down to throwing the shuttle... well not so much.
So anyways - here I am back to the book. There are lots of pictures. Great traditional quilts. I'm surprised how much I am enjoying them. The colours, the pattern within patterns. Looking for nine patch squares inside other squares.(which is all I know at the moment). I never thought of myself as a "traditional kinda gal" but at this point I'm just along for the ride, and open to everything.
Wow! I've written alot this morning. If you managed to actually get to the end - congratulations! You deserve a big fat quarter!

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