Colourful reads to inspire and the lure of gold sequins…….

uppercase machine


One of the most inspirational magazines I’ve bought of late has been Uppercase issue 22 (I get mine from Housekeeping, they run an excellent mail order service and are very lovely)….although it came out late Summer I’ve only just bought it, and I’m glad I waited…it was just the thing to brighten up some of the overcast gloomy days over the holidays……this issue celebrates colour and is full of articles about people who use a lot of colour in their work or surround themselves in colour in their lives.  I’m currently saving up for issue 24 which is centred around patchwork and quilting…..generally I’m not fussed by quilting and patchwork magazines (prefering to do my own thing, and take inspiration where I find it) but I’m really looking forward so much to see the Uppercase take on patchwork (there have been some proper eye treat pieces to tease on Janine’s blog)


knitsonik book


This book was a post Christmas treat…..I’m not a fancy schmancy knitter (if you keep quiet and don’t talk to me, I can just about concentrate enough to knit a dishcloth or a simple scarf…) though there was a bit of air punching joy in the Summer when I followed one of Maria’s you-tube tutorials and actually managed to do some lacy knitting, it’s very exciting to create holes in your knitting on purpose rather than by accident…..however, actually learning to knit properly is one of my “resolutions” for this year…’s been on my “I want to be able to” list for a while and after reading about this book on some of my favourite blogs (here, here, here and here….) I kind of fell in love with it………even if I wasn’t interested in learning how to knit then this book is just brilliant.  (it’s the sort of book you just want to hold and hug everytime you pick it up)

Felicity’s writing is so nice and friendly, but also stays clear without waffling…and it’s proper jam packed full of the most beautiful pictures highlighting colourful compositions, whether it’s an old factory, some sloes, fruit cake, a biscuit tin….Felicity not only sees inspiration in colour everywhere, but she then shows how to manage and break down those colours into a project.  Her method of working could easily be used in designing a patchwork quilt.  Like I say, I’m not a very good knitter, and very often when I look at knitting books I’m left feeling….”I’ll never be able to do that” however this book isn’t like that at all, it really does make me want to just pick up some needles and get knitting……


bird tapestry 001


Felicity’s book reminded me somewhat of this lovely needlepoint picture my mum bought me for Christmas last year, I love old needlepoint pictures and this one was re-strung and displayed proudly on the wall above the sofa within minutes of it coming home…..we have a little cherry tree in our garden, and although it’s blossoms are a gorgeous deep red, it’s always filled with blue tits so this picture really made me smile when I saw it in an antique shop….those colourful little birds are a very familiar and comforting sight…..


springtime inspired 002


Inspired by the picture and by the blue tits in our garden, I went on to crochet these hexagon flowers for my grannies paperweight blanket….after reading Felicity’s book I’m thinking how nice a couple would have looked if I’d picked out the pale pink of the blossoms rather than concentrate on the colour of the birds and leaves…….


newest selection


I love working with colour, the more colours I can add to a project the happier I seem to be……these are some of my blocks for “dear ethel” and there wasn’t really a point of inspiration or reference when it came to choosing colours or blocks….I pretty much went with which blocks I liked and which I thought wouldn’t be too stressful to sew (each block is 6 1/2 inches wide so they are quite small),and then as this is a quilt for me, I just wanted to use all my favourite fabrics, some of which are only tiny scraps but as the pieces of patchwork are so small then the fabrics can still be used rather than be wasted.


sketchbook and patchwork 006


Some of the blocks were painted up before I began sewing them, partly this was trying out how some colours sat better together than other, and although this works fine for plain colours, it’s not always the best way with prints, I didn’t really take into account how some prints have tiny flecks of colour in them which can compliment or sit unpleasantly with other fabrics….so some blocks were un-picked and re-used with other fabrics.

While reading Felicity’s book I thought a lot about my “dear ethel” patchwork….how I came to some of my colour choices and how my environment and items in my studio quietly played a part in some of those combinations…….




There wasn’t really a lot of careful planning when I made my granny scare scarf…. I just wanted it to be bright bright bright and just used up tapestry wool pretty much willy nilly as it came out of the bag…..I tried to work two rounds with colours that blended or were similar in tone before joining with the third colour….and although there wasn’t a huge amount of un-ravelling, I suppose I was particular about where each square was placed.




When it came to making the grannies paperweight blanket (it’s comfi-ness being demonstrated by the blanket inspector himself) I spent quite a lot of time planning a colour scheme (this in part went out the window) but after making up a few hexagon flowers I began to see which worked and which jarred…..


crochet colourwork 005


Using wool rather than acrylic yarn meant the colours blended into each other really well, especially when they were of similar tone or hue, however painting up a few combinations at the start helped me understand better how certain colours really sat well with others, and where others worked in my head, in reality they didn’t look so good.

Also painting up different combinations meant I learnt to work outside my comfort zone, and where there are more of certain combinations (oooh orange and blue I do love you) I also used colours I’d always thought weren’t so great, but now find myself liking….I’d never thought I really liked purple but find myself wearing today burgundy leggings, a byzantium purple thermal vest (I dyed it using a Dylon machine wash and it came out very well) and an aubergine floral dress…. I also found this with the patchwork for “dear ethel” ….slowly fabrics I’d initially overlooked began to creep in and now I couldn’t imagine them not being used.


scarf with cardigan


Certainly using more colour in my patchwork and crochet has made me want to reflect that in my wardrobe…a few years ago I was a head to toe in black girl but now most of the black has gone to charity shops and instead I open the door to rainbow hues (in proper Richard Of York Gained Battle In Vain order….which probably is a bit special or odd but it works for me)

There’s a wonderful interview with Jessi Arrington in the Uppercase magazine, (this is a link to her Ted talk which will get you wanting to wear something bright and colourful)……one of her universal truths is “gold sequins go with everything”, and as I get older I find myself agreeing…..oh for a pair of gold sequined sneakers.

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