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How To Use Sketchbooks For Art and Craft Ideas

How to use sketchbooks – we all know they are for sketching or drawing but do you really make the best use of your sketchbooks? This week in my feed, a fellow artist was pondering whether to throw away her sketchbooks that she felt disillusioned with. I am going to attempt to answer that question.

How to use sketchbooks
Sketchbook page for my ancient history textiles inspirations ebooks

The Purpose of Sketchbooks

First of all – what is a sketchbook for? First and foremost it should be for working out ideas, jotting down ideas, working through a problem such as shape, layers, colour. Many people are too precious about their sketchbooks because they see them as finished work. So if we look at this problem of throwing away from the angle of an ideas book, it makes it all the easier.

As a student I was taught never to erase nor to tear pages out of my sketchbook. As a textiles teacher, I am with that up to a point.

Having just moved my workroom around for better use of space, I went through my sketchbooks this morning. I have 4 A3 sketchbooks. This was the preferred size at the college I went to. It’s a good size, but no good for en plein air work. Two of the sketchbooks are spiral bound, the other two are not. On the whole I prefer spiral bound, but if you are a painter or felter, or even a textile artist like myself, you might prefer it perfect bound so that you can work across the page with ease. Spiral bound is also the best for people who love to make additions and stick fabric samples in etc. I have half a dozen A4 sketchbooks and zillions of smaller sizes. In the past year I seem to prefer to work with A5 or smaller, often with handmade paper in a zig-zag format.

sketchbooks for textiles
My student sketchbook

I like to theme my sketchbooks and return to them to fill them at intervals.

River Don sketchbooks
My River Don sketchbook

So I would further break down the query:

  1. Is your sketchbook separate sheets of paper that you can tear one out without missing it?
  2. How old is the work? We always say ‘keep it’ because you will be able to see how far you have progressed. This is apt up to a certain amount of years or number of sketchbooks. When you have several years of them, you will have progressed so far that your early work might be rendered useless.
  3. Can you re-use it? In collage or working over it? Is anything worth salvaging?
  4. Do you have the physical space to keep them all?
how to use sketchbooks
One of my first ever sketchbook pages that I would happily work over and cover
how to use sketchbooks
Another early one I still like

It’s Personal

It is entirely your decision. You might be that person who needs a clearout to breathe fresh air and feel the creativity filling their lungs. On the other hand, you might be that person that finds infinite ideas within the pages of their numerous sketchbooks.

Partly it depends how brilliant you are from the very first sketchbook. I am not a natural at drawing, so there are some pages in my first sketchbook that I shall cover over. There are others I would never get rid of. There is no rule, it is your work, you do with it as you wish. Best not to make the mistake of throwing it out and wishing you had kept it though.

I would always keep photographic references if they are still applicable to my themes and ideas of work.

photographic page
Photographic references can always be a springboard for new work

I would also keep work that I still like even if I cannot think of a way to use it in my current work

working out colours
Work I like

I would also always keep colour references and ideas

colour page

Photograph it

If you are unsure but want to get rid, photograph it. You can always print it out or use it digitally. I kept this page, but also used it digitally in my work.

how to use sketchbooks
page from my ancient history series of Inspirations textile ebooks

There are lots of ways for how to use sketchbooks and to re-purpose sketchbook pages. So think before you throw away, but don’t be afraid to discard work if you have outgrown it. See more of my work on the website I am currently writing an ecourse on sketchbooks and digital sketchbooks. My favourite sketchbooks are those of Maggie Grey, some of her work can be seen here

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021

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Celebrating my 50th ebook Textile Inspirations Prehistoric

Celebrating my 50th ebook Textile Inspirations Prehistoric. Wow. My ebooks are exactly as I would write a book in print, with full colour illustrations and attention to detail. They are intended to provide inspiration to as wide an audience as possible. As a fully qualified and experienced teacher (of too many years) I put my hands-on knowledge into my ebooks.

Textile Inspirations


Celebrating my 50th ebook Textile Inspirations Prehistoric is quite an achievement. I began this ebook in 2012, and then in 2016 I thought I was ready to launch. I did a craft fair at Creswell Crags, and the ebook went onto the back burner because I lost confidence owing to someone’s comments. Everything happens for a reason they say. When I returned to the ebook this year, I found not only a renewed spirit, but things occurred to me that had not back in 2016 or 2012.

This series is unique in providing step by step projects and is like a mini ecourse.

The ebook can be purchased on the website

One of the six projects

Just the beginning

This is the beginning of history in more ways than one. The prehistoric period is the period before anything was written down. It is a fascinating period of our history.

For me, this is the beginning of what I envisaged in 2012. A new range of ebooks exploring history through textiles. A few weeks ago someone on social media made a joke about no-one would write a book on the Sumerians. My next textile book does indeed take a very close look at the Sumerians. It too was begun in 2012, as I intended it to be the first of the series. Then I started making cave paintings and realised that prehistoric should naturally be the first in the series.

So it is, at the beginning of what we know of our history. Follow me on this journey. These are not history books, they are textiles and art books all about inspiration, ideas and resources for your own creative development.

It’s not every day that someone launches their 50th ebook. All ebooks are exclusive to the website. Please take a look.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2020

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Self Employed Designer Maker – Quilter, Textiles, Art

Self Employed Designer Maker – Quilter, Textiles, Art and the effect of lockdown. The Not So Merry Month of May Or the Not So Merry Year of 2020??? For me lockdown is a continuation of my somewhat solitary self-employed ‘lifestyle’ working as an artist in paint and fabric. I have no desire to break lockdown because I want to stay safe, but I do miss my forays into the real world. Just this morning I was reminiscing about my trip to Marseille in February, thank heavens I fitted that in. Only just over two months ago, it seems like a lifetime! Read the book here


Self Employed Quilter

As a Self Employed Designer Maker – Quilter, Textiles, Art, life has to go on. It is only work that keeps me sane. I finished a quilt that started life some time ago when I made blocks playing with striped fabrics, then put them away because I was not sure what else to do with them. The fabrics are from 2008. This week it came out of the box and is a finished project and a big hit over on Instagram. Maybe I’ll call it ‘Summertime And The Living Is Easy’.

Self Employed Designer Maker
Karen Platt quilt design

So what next? I have a joined together strip to quilt but no thread. I’ll get back to that soon.

Self employed designer maker
Joined up strips

I moved on to another project. Scrap quilts seems to be the overriding theme of 2020. I didn’t want to do blue again just yet and everyone loved the hot colours, that I thought I would still with orange and use up my yellows too. I had two butterfly fat quarters that had been around for a year or more.

scrap quilts
The beginning of a new quilt


My art has taken a nose dive in the last couple of years. It’s mainly a twofold problem, affording more canvases and the space to keep them. I promised myself that I would create several pieces based on my time in Corfu in 2018. So I made a start at last. One finished, and one midway. I think I am capturing the mood at last.

Corfu art
Painting inspired by Corfu


Tunisia Part two is well underway. If you missed Part One, it is on the website with all the other ebooks. If you missed it, take a look at last week’s blog post, which was a retrospective of all work so far this year. I have done quite a lot.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2020

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Quilting and Textiles Blog Fabric Book

In my quilting and textiles blog I like to show you what I have been working on during the week. This has been a week of continuing (slowly) with the scrap quilt and making the fabric book based on the Stay At Home theme of fruit and vegetables. I have been creating fabric pears. You can ask to join the group here. I also managed some knitting and finished two small Cathedral Windows Quilts.

Stay at home and create
fabric book

My quilting and textiles blog is a good way to get to know my work and to support me through my online shop. Bear in mind that during the coronvirus outbreak I am staying in, so you can still buy products online as long as they can be emailed – i.e. ebooks or ecourses. There is lots to keep you going through this crisis.


It is a quick mention for quilting this week as owing to not feeling well, I have been a lot slower and still have 5 more blocks to make. I have been thinking of different ways with stripes. However I did finish two Cathedral Window Quilts with buttons. You can access my Cathedral Windows tutorial here.

Cathedral Windows quilt
Cathedral Windows Quilt
Cathedral Windows Quilt
Cathedral Windows Quilt


For the first time in years I am knitting in lace. I have designed a textured lace knit in cotton. It is knitting up quite quickly.

knitting pattern
knitting pattern


My textiles fabric book is looking great. It is finished, but I might make a cord with beads to finish off the spine. I made each page using different stitches and techniques. The centre page is in last week’s blog. I am really pleased with this work. It was great to use up some of my stash of green fabrics and threads.

quilting and textiles blog
quilting and textiles blog
pears fabric book
fabric textile book
fabric book

Catch up next week when I hope to have some garden themed work to show you; the quilt finished and more besides. Stay occupied, positive and please stay home and safe.

quilting and textiles blog
fabric book

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.


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.

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