Art

Quilts and Colour Exhibition

During our recent trip to Boston I visited the Quilts and Color exhibition currently showing at the Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition was especially useful for me as it ties in very nicely with my current knitting course module which looks at the use of colour.

The exhibition showcases around 60 quilts from the collectors and artists Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy and looks at both the craft of quilting and colour theories used in the design of the pieces.

The collection ranges from early 19th century to the 1940’s, a time when women’s environments were very labour intensive. The collector Gerald Roy quotes: “That first sentence that I use in my collector’s preface—I make my quilts as fast as I can so my children won’t freeze, and as beautiful as I can so my heart won’t break —I think that is the epitome of what quilt making provided for women throughout the history of the nineteenth century. Their worlds were very much labor intensive, and to be able to escape and to produce something by way of producing it for utility, for the family, for warmth, but also having that other very, very special part was extremely important.”

The first quilt we saw was the Carpenters Wheel Quilt by Mrs. Miller made around 1890.

Carpenters Wheel Quilt

I found this combination of colours really interesting – the photo doesn’t really do it justice though as the orange was much brighter, but the complementary colors of dark red and green seemed to reign it in. What you also don’t get from the photo is the detail in the stitching, if you look really closely in the orange squares you can just about see the flower pattern.

This next piece is ‘The Star of Bethlehem’, there aren’t any details to say who it was made by other than it was made in new England in the 1920’s.

Quilt Star of Bethlehem

Here is a close up of the centre, the amount of work that must have gone in to produce something like this is incredible:

Star of Bethlehem Quilt

We spent ages in front of this next quilt ‘A Thousand Pyramids’ (1930), trying to work out of there was any pattern  or logic to the placement of the triangles or whether they had been placed randomly.

Thousand Pyramids quilt

We never reached a conclusion on that one!

Pamela Parmal the exhibition curator states:  Traditionally, most quilt makers used a high contrast, usually white with a dark color, to create their patterns, which could easily be seen. A lot of the quilts in this exhibition do just the opposite; they’ll use similar colors together, or will have no white whatsoever. In fact the majority of the quilts in the show do not have white in them.”

‘Touching Sunbursts’, made in Pennsylvania in 1854 was one of the few quilts on display that used white.

Touching Sunbursts quilt

Again, this was one when viewed close up you could see intricate stitching patterns in the white squares, details which get lost when viewed from afar. This is what made the pieces so interesting as on first glance you are drawn in by the colorful and bold overall pattern,  but when you get closer you can see the patterns on each individual piece of fabric as well as the stitches that piece it all together.

I didn’t make a note of the origins of this one unfortunately but I was totally captivated by it. It’s almost as if the dark pattern has been printed on top of the finished quilt.

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Here is a close up – just look at the number of different individual fabrics that were used to make it!

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Another of my favourites was this one – it reminded me of spinning records.

Quilt

Quilt 2

If you look in the red squares you can see the stitching patterns a bit clearer in this one.

Speaking of the collection Gerald Roy quotes “…can you imagine what these women, if they were alive today, would think about their work appearing on the walls of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston? I mean that would be mind-blowing to those ladies. And what a compliment.”

If only the family of Mrs. Ephraim Scott has known her ‘Sunburst Quilt’ (1856) would one day be on display – it was dubbed by them as the ‘ugly quilt’!

Sunburst quilt

This is one of the best exhibitions I have been to for a long time. Each quilt is so intricate and beautifully made it’s impossible not to stop and appreciate the detail in each one. The amount of thought, work and love that went into each one is truly inspirational.

The Diamond Field Quilt

The Diamond Field (1860) – picture taken from https://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/quilts-and-color

Travel

Boston and Beyond

It’s been a week since we got back from our trip to New York and Boston. While I was able to blog every day in NY  I wasn’t quite so organised on the second leg of our trip and since being back time has just flown, so here is a belated account of what we got up to in Boston.

I was sad to say goodbye to New York – 3 days just wasn’t long enough and while we certainly made the most of our time there thanks to a 3 day city pass there were still things that remained unticked on my list; such as the Guggenheim and the fact that (despite my best plotting-on-a-map efforts) I didn’t happen to stumble upon a NY yarn store. Bah.

On Wednesday morning we picked up our car and headed on a roadtrip to Boston, stopping at a diner for lunch.

After what should have been a 5 hour drive we eventually arrived in Boston late on Weds evening due to complications with the sat nav (not user error at all….honest!)

We had planned to go whale watching on the Thursday morning but when we arrived at the harbour we were told that the the tour was full that day. Instead we took the opportunity to explore the city.

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One of the places we went to visit was the Old South Meeting House, built in 1729, which is famous for being the place where the Boston Tea Party began back in 1773. It was the largest building in colonial Boston and was used for public gatherings, a place of worship and engaging debates.

Some of the comments in the exhibit were quite funny – I would love to know what beef this person has with Queen Latifah?!

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From here we took a stroll around Boston Common and ended up at the Cheers Bar.

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In the afternoon we went to the New England Aquarium which has a magnificent collection of fish, animals and exhibits.

That evening we went to a ‘Quilts and Color’ exhibition at the Museum of Fine Art – some of the pieces on display were absolutely stunning and I am going to do a separate post about these.

On the Friday we drove to Cape Cod where we found the Black Purls Yarn Shop in East Sandwich where I finally got my yarn fix – yay!

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The shop was very well stocked and had some gorgeous yarns to squish and drool over. I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head but I couldn’t resist these 3 skeins (this is not the best picture as the middle one is more of a browny colour and the blue is a lot darker). And I have no idea what I will make from them yet.

Lovely Yarn

 

Happy, happy, happy  🙂

We spent the afternoon at the Plimoth Plantation, a living museum showing how life was in the 17th century. There is a recreation of a small farming town, populated by actors who go about their daily life in full costume and answer any questions you have, all completely in character. It was a fascinating place!

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On Saturday, our last day, we made it onto the Whale Watch. The weather wasn’t great and the water was a bit choppy but once we got out to sea and saw the whales it really was an incredible experience!

We saw about 7 – 8 whales in total, mostly Fin whales and a minky whale.

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That really was the cherry on the top of a brilliant holiday!

Now, what to make with that yarn….

Gardening, knitting

Hello Sunshine!

I’ve been a bit rubbish at blogging lately, but now I am back I would like to share some of the fun stuff I have been up to 🙂

Firstly, I finally finished module 3 of the C&G knitting course – hooray! Big lesson learnt there is to start writing things up as I go along and not leave it to the very end and having to decipher my notes. It took me twice as long to write the module up then it did to knit the samples! Anyway, that is all done and posted off and I am now on to module 4. I am quite excited about this one as it is all about Colour. Having a look through the activity contents this one is more heavily weighted towards design than knitting and the first activity is to gather a selection of inspirational images to reflect the theme of colour.

Whilst I am doing that I am also in the middle of knitting up a hat design inspired by a recent trip to Paris. Here’s a progress shot.

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I hadn’t intended to design another hat at first, the pattern I was working on kind of decided it for me. I was inspired to try a travelling stitch pattern as I had knit a couple of samples for module 3 and one of them was the ‘Tree of Life‘ from the afghan by Nicky Epstein.

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I like the way you can ‘draw’ with a travelling stitch, like Nicky has done with the tree branches so that is what I am exploring in my next design.

And what about Spring Haze? Well, I have resigned myself that my Spring Haze wrap is going to be a very long WIP, I have changed the design for the main part and it needs a lot of attention which I haven’t been able to give it lately. But I am still working on it, even if it is very slowly…

I am super excited about about is the return of summer – which starts officially next weekend when the clocks go forward! This weekend has been typical of the weather in England, woke up yesterday to glorious sunshine so my husband and I hot footed it to the garden centre for supplies for our yearly garden overhaul.

We got some lovely plants including this:

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It’s called a ‘Fritillaria Meleagris’ or ‘Snakes Head Fritillary’. I love the snakeskin pattern on the petals – so pretty!

We also got some of these:

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A ‘Senetti’ plant. The actual colour is more purple than this but my phone camera made it bright blue! This one is definitely going in my colour file 🙂

On the way back we stopped at the shop for BBQ supplies, our reward for a hard days work in the garden. But as you have probably guessed, on our way home the skys clouded over the heavens opened. Typical!

In other news I have been getting out and about over the past month, I had an amazing trip to Paris, visited the new Birmingham Library and caught the Hannah Hoch exhibition at Whitechapel last week, all of which I will write about soon.

I also have a trip planned for New York and Boston coming up too which I am sooo excited about. If anyone has any suggestions as to interesting places to visit please do let me know!