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Made by Hand Handmade Textiles Knit and Stitch

Made by hand has been the byword for my work throughout my creative career. Although I sometimes use a sewing machine and at one time I owned a knitting machine, I prefer to work with my hands. Sometimes things made by machine are labelled made by hand and I think it’s important to distinguish the real thing because it takes a lot longer to make.

Handknitting

made by hand
made by hand my own knitting designs

I have been a handknitter for over 50 years. Gone are the days when it was knit one, drop one on my first knitting project at school, the dishcloth. Gone also are waking up at 5am to knit as I did eagerly in my teens. So too the eight hours a day knitting that I was so fond of right into my thirties. Now I am a more sedate knitter of an hour or two a day, dragged there by my hair screaming, for I honestly wish I could still knit eight hours a day. I find it peaceful and my mother always said I had a Mona Lisa smile when knitting. Yet the hands, wrists, elbows and even shoulders will not allow me to do that any more, so I have to be content to pick it up and put it down in short spells. That’s the beauty of knitting.

Since the last blog on Monday, I finished a colourwork cardigan that had sat around for thirty years! That’s the very last of knitting someone else’s pattern. I have been a knitwear designer for over thirty years myself. I designed and knitted up a lovely little shoulder wrap this week. It’s perfect for the cooler evenings.

I managed six rows of the my new design – a fairisle sweater in true Shetland yarn from Jamiesons of Lerwick. I enjoyed choosing the colours and today the first pattern section was reached. So looking forward to this.

You can find my knitting patterns on Ravelry

and my knitting pattern booklet on the website, 10 fabulous patterns for 15.00 gbp

Karen Platt knitting patterns
Karen Platt knitting patterns

Stitching

When I can knit no longer, I sew. Sometimes because of my hands, that has to be on the sewing machine, but I still fit in a fair bit of hand stitching too. The pile of to do for sewing is quite extensive. I remembered I had stalled on the fabulous indigo jacket. This is a sewing machine project, but I am making it reversible therefore all the seams are machine stitched and then stitched in place by hand. I set in the sleeves this week.

indigo jacket
machine sewn indigo jacket with handsewn seams

I also returned to the new coat project, which is all hand stitched after a break of a week. It stitches up quickly, even though it is by hand.

made by hand
made by hand embroidered coat

That’s all for this week. I shall be continuing these handmade projects and maybe more. See you next week.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021

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Designing Textiles From Scratch Textile Designer

Designing textiles from scratch is not always as easy as you might think. Not only do you need a great idea, you need to be able to follow it through to a finished object or even a series.

You need to know how to transfer your ideas from your head or from sketches on paper to something concrete and practical or decorative.

There are many techniques, many fabrics that you can use, so sometimes it is hard to make a start. Often we start and get stuck.

My design ecourses can help you negotiate your way through design, this one is on textiles

Moving Through Mud

Designing textiles from scratch is sometimes like moving through mud. You can get bogged down with indecision, stuck with an idea that will not flow or find it impossible to bring things to fruition.

However if you are like me, I only get stuck when I am faced with a decision on how to proceed, usually based on a lack of technique. So it was with my current jacket project. I had started fine and sat and stitched each evening until I had made 80 hand stitched diamonds. Joined them together in rows.

Then came the crunch: What comes next?

Decisions, decisions

I am not bad at decisions, I usually sort things fairly quickly. However, for every designer there comes a time when they get truly stuck. Was this the right decision? Would that have been better? Will this work? Is my technique bad?

I made a decision to use a type of folded patchwork around the edge, I have not got there yet, and might never. First I started on a central panel for the back to liven things up a bit.

I cut enough pieces for five different patchwork shapes. Then I lost a piece, stitched a piece a bit off centre and lost interest. All along there was a nagging doubt. Was it what I wanted?

Having finished another project, I returned to this design problem yesterday. I laid out the pieces and thought does it look right? Part of me said yes, part said no. No decision there. Then I thought once more, what else can I do? I could stitch some more diamonds but that was not what I wanted. I stared at it for a few minutes and decided it was worth finishing.

Designing textiles from scratch
Designing Textiles from scratch

The pieces are all just about stitched in place now. Of course I need odd shapes to attach in between them at the sides. I draw my own templates. Then I still have to make a decision on what goes around the edge, not to mention quilting it.

It might take a while yet, but I am on the move. Meantime I cut the fabric for jacket number three.

African fabrics
Designing textiles from scratch

Knitting

Designing textiles from scratch
Designing textiles from scratch

I also finished a sleeveless top. I was hoping to have the pattern uploaded to Ravelry today, but it will still take a day or two. It will be my 10th knitting pattern on there.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021

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Stitching and Knitting Through the November Fog

Stitching and knitting my way through the months. It keeps the November fog and mist and the brain fog at bay. Keeping occupied is often the best way to combat the winter blues. Make the best of those infrequent blue skies and get out and walk. When it is dreary, sit indoors and dream with a bit of stitching and knitting.

stitching and knitting
The front of the jacket, ready for stitching

Hand Stitching The Patchwork Jacket

The jacket took a huge leap this week. Not only did I stitch through the pain of sciatica, when I could and finish the back of the jacket, but I got the front cut and sandwiched. It took me two days because of the sciatica, but I am there at last and ready to start my running stitches. This is usually my evening activity whilst watching a film or series. I am pretty sure at this point, that this is going to be sleeveless. In fact, I tried it on today and was rather surprised that it is quite weighty.

patchwork jacket
Cutting the backing of the patchwork jacket

Knitting Hats

With my leftover yarn, I like to knit hats. If you follow me, you will be aware that I notched up over 20 hats a couple of years ago and a fw have been added since. Two days ago, I started knitting up hats with my leftover 4 ply pure Falcon Wool from the late 70s. I made two hats in two days. I cast on the third last night and thought wow, this will use it all up, then this morning I found three more balls. Oh well, I guess it will be four hats in total this time around. See the knitting patterns on Ravelry

stitching and knitting
Fair isle hat designed by Karen Platt
stitching and knitting
ribbed hat designed by Karen Platt

New series of ebooks for launch

Very shortly I shall be launching the first in a new series of ebooks, that provide resources, ideas and inspiration plus projects for all textile artists, based on historical themes. This will be my 50th ebook. You can see the full range here on the website

stitching and knitting
new ebook Textiles

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2020

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New Knits, Quilts and Textiles Creative Design

This month I have created new knits, quilts and textiles. Obviously I am still not into the weekly swing of things as it has been a month since I blogged again. But hey, at least it isn’t waffle about nothing, it’s all about new work, new knits, quilts and textiles.

new knits
new knitwear design by Karen Platt

New Knits

I have two new knits that I designed and knitted this month. Yes my arm feels like it is going to drop off. The new knitting patterns will be in my ravelry store hopefully this week, so make sure you click the link and visit.

new knits
new knitwear design by Karen Platt

New Quilts

Ok I admit, technically that is not true, and I am abusing the word ‘new’ here as the patchwork was done some weeks ago, and I am just quilting the top now. I did not start straight away for two reasons

  1. not enough wadding
  2. no ideas were coming on the actual quilting design – which stitches and method to use

So I am glad to say that I made a start this week. Wow! I now have six quilt blocks quilted, and enough wadding for one more. The quilt design came quite easily, although there are still some obstacles with the more complicated quilt blocks, but I am on my way. In the end I decided qaygo, quilt as you go was the best for this quilt, and so far I have used straight stitch quilt designs that I have created myself. I am a bit out of practice.

quilting
quilting the patchwork top

New Textiles

Stretching the ‘new’ again as these bird textiles were started a few weeks ago too. Now they are all finished and will be on sale on the website. There is only one of each, so as soon as they are uploaded this week, dive in there quickly.

That’s all for now, join me again shortly.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2020

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Cutting, Piecing and Quilting This Week’s Diary

Cutting, Piecing and Quilting, repeat, repeat, repeat. It seems to be almost all I do but this week I did not quite keep up with the 5 projects that I finished last week.

I started off on target but lack of sleep and subsequent fatigue took their toll. I finished two and almost finished two others. So let’s take a look as I walk you through my quilting and work week.

cutting, piecing and quilting
Quilt design Karen Platt

Putting Together A Quilt

At the end of last week as I went live, I had a quilt on the design wall. It’s almost there, I am in the midst of quilting it, and it is looking good. I still have that feeling of wow it’s done and then remember I have to make a back and quilt it. So it was more cutting, piecing and quilting. I had hoped to finish but could not trust myself on the sewing machine for three days. (see image above).

Don’t worry I was still plenty busy. In between times, fabrics were chosen for the next two quilts. One is a scrap quilt and the other is a coat. Yes, I am finally getting round to making a quilted coat.

I did get one Cathedral Window Quilt finished with a border. This one has been around for a while waiting for me to figure out how to put the border on. It is going to hang in my hall way. I am so in love with that red bird fabric.

cutting, piecing and quilting
Cathedral Window Quilt designed by Karen Platt

All my larger hand dyed pieces of fabric in silk, cotton, cotton scrim, linen and muslin were sorted and went into my Etsy shop. I’d appreciate if you would take a look. I have had 122 sales, 43 five star reviews and over 600 people love my shop. I am sending out fabrics now. Good for quilting, textiles, mixed media.

hand dyed fabrics
Hand dyed fabrics by Karen Platt

Knitting

I have been knitting a dream project in alpaca and silk and I am loving it. I feel very luxurious. It’s not a commit to memory pattern I have designed for this one, but it’s worth doing even if you have to keep your eye on it.

Knitwear design
Knitwear design by Karen Platt

Embroidery

I finally picked up not one but three embroidery projects I have designed. I know, it’s like buses, they come in threes. Two were re-discovered in my drawer whilst looking for something else. The third is a brand new one. They are all exciting portraits and all slightly different. More of that next week. I put one of my embroideries into the #artistsupportpledge still looking for a buyer.

Inspiration ebook

Last of all today is Inspiration Travel Tunisia Part Three. Yes, I finished it today and like the others it has unique art inspired by my journeys included. I am thrilled to finish this three part guide book series.

Inspiration Travel Tunisia ebook
Inspiration Travel Tunisia Part Three

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2020

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Knitting Patterns The Peak District Collection

Knitting Patterns a new collection of patterns inspired by the Peak District and available exclusively on the website.

knitting patterns
The cover of my new knitting pattern booklet

Knitting Patterns

This collection of knitting patterns was inspired by the colours and textures of the Peak District. 10 knitting patterns are included in ebook pdf format only from the website, click the link to see all 10 patterns. I have really enjoyed designing and making up my patterns for you to enjoy too. The patterns include shawls, a stole, hats, mitts and scarves plus a cardigan and bolero. They are all patterns for women. I have concentrated on wraps because the weather often suddenly changes in the Peak and it is good to wear layers or have a stole, hat and gloves with you.

knitting patterns
scarf and matching hat
knitting patterns
part of one of the shawl patterns

The range of patterns was inspired by the Peak District from a walk along Stanage Edge one day last year. The yarns used made me think of the Peak in all its glory, no matter what the season.

stole knitting patterns
It’s always good to have a wrap with you in the Peak, this stole is a real winner

A variety of stitches is used in the projects and there is something for beginners and intermediate knitters too.

The second collection of exclusive designer knitwear is already underway, inspired by Cornwall. I have four books planned with all the knitting already done.

Textiles

A number of textile pieces were also finished this week. The hearts were one of the first things I made. I have some felted ones I am thinking of using in a project.

hearts
You’ve gotta have heart, miles and miles …

This green piece is all about texture and is based on lichen. This is part of a series. It was loved on Instagram.

textile art
My textile inspired by lichen

This circles piece is part of my work inspired by The Sahara. Most of the work in this series is already online and shown in the Sahara inspiration ebook.

textile art
Sahara inspired textile

My mother textile piece did not get worked on at all, I am still pondering. I think it is taking on a new direction.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2020

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Seven Days of Design, quilts, knitwear and dry felting

Seven days of design – what Karen did last week. They say seven days is a long time in politics, but you can fit an awful lot of work into seven days.

My seven days of design was varied and interesting, it has been a good week. There is rarely a dull time as a designer and rarely a minute to spare. I divide my week into different media. Usually all in one day. This is mainly because I have to switch activity owing to avoiding painful repetitive syndrome that affects many crafters and textile artists.

For my work, check out the quilts and textiles pages

For my knitting patterns, see Ravelry

Quilt Design

My main area of work for almost three years now has been quilting. With my latest design I have taken another direction. My new quilt is inspired by a digital design that happened one morning out of the blue, unexpected and looking promising. I had to shelf it until I had finished other projects. Seven days of design involved selecting fabrics, size, colour, deciding on surface design, order of stitch and much more. It’s under wraps at the moment until finished (should be next week), but I can give you a sneak view.

seven days of design
Karen Platt Seven Days of Design Quilts

Knitwear Design

For years I designed knitwear and knitted up to eight hours a day. Now I am only able to knit one or two hours maximum. It is a real shame as it is my favourite craft. My designs these days are just using up wool I have. I had quite a lot of grey and cream and decided to put in a few odds and ends to make a fair-isle. Seven days of design involved stitch and pattern selection, colour, size and more. Like all good fair-isle, it is in fine yarn and takes about 100 hours to complete.

Karen Platt knitting
Karen Platt fair-isle

Dry Felting

I was considering selling my embellisher machine, but I still have rather a lot of supplies. So I decided to use them up in new designs. Seven days of design involved inspiration and research, arrangement, selecting fibres and colours amongst other things. I am finding inspiration in the Peak District for my landscapes.

Design inspiration Peak District
Design inspiration Peak District Karen Platt
Karen Platt dry felting embellisher
Karen Platt dry felting

More next week. Images, words and copyright Karen Platt 2019

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Progress and only two weeks into the New Year

Progress is sometimes hard to come by. No matter how hard you try progress can be elusive. This happens in all walks of life and it certainly happens in textiles.

Sometimes it’s that the ideas will not come (never suffer with that one), often it’s not having the right materials and occasionally you are stumped in great need of a technique that you do not know.

Experimenting can help overcome this – trying out different things and thinking outside the box.

This second week of January 2019, I spent launching a brand new, exciting range of snowflake fabrics. There are a total of 16 mix n match fabrics in my new permanent range. I am delighted with these.

I also made great progress with my latest Winter Inspirations quilt at last. I am trying to ignore another idea I have had for a second winter quilt until much later in the year. This one has not followed my initial sketches too closely. I tried out an idea that does not work either, but I have a final design. I am hoping it comes together quickly now and will be added to the website by the end of the month.

I was more than pleased to return to hand quilting this week and a UFO that has been sitting there for a few months. I am hand stitching a patchwork jacket using a running stitch. The wadding is silk and the front is a patchwork of fabrics with a blue lining.

I finished a cardigan and hat and started knitting a cabled waistcoat. I have altered the basic stitch pattern to make it unique to me. I think this really is the last of my Rowan lightweight double knitting wool bought in the 1990s!

Enjoy your creative projects, whatever you are making. See you soon when I will be telling you of my first speaking engagement at a quilt show in April.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2019