Thursday, 2 February 2017

Lucy Boston

Kaleidoscope Patchwork

When I wrote about the Green Knowe books I mentioned that the author, Lucy Boston, was also a quilter. She created more than twenty beautiful quilts over the years, each of which is a work of art. Lucy sewed all her quilts by hand, using traditional English Paper Piecing where each piece of fabric is sewn over a paper template and then stitched together with small stitches before removing the papers. 

She started making quilts in her forties and continued into her nineties, by which time her sight was so poor that children from the village would come to thread her needles for her. Despite this, she still pieced her quilts with the tiniest of stitches and chose intricate designs. This is her last quilt, sewn in her nineties while her sight was failing.

Islamic Tiles  Patchwork

Each of those tiles is made up of either five or nine pieces (I think that's right anyway), carefully chosen so that the patterns on the fabric create further symmetrical designs. This was a feature of Lucy's work; you can see it in this section from her Patchwork of the Crosses quilt.

This is perhaps the best known of Lucy's quilts today. Many quilters around the world have made it, some using English Paper Piecing as she did and others using the Inklingo method of printing the shapes on to fabric devised by Linda Franz. Issue 18 of Today's Quilter magazine had an interesting article about Lucy and her quilts.

Reading this, I see that Sew and Quilt are running a Block of the Month club this year, making Lucy's Patchwork of the Crosses quilt using English Paper Piecing and Liberty Tana Lawn fabrics. There's still time to sign up for it; I think the quilts will look beautiful in those fabrics.

Many of Lucy's quilts can be seen at her home, The Manor, Hemingford Grey, where you will be shown round by her daughter-in-law, Diana Boston. I really want to do that one day; to see the world of Green Knowe and an amazing collection of quilts in one day - what more could you want? Oh, and, by the way, Lucy also created a beautiful garden, full of old roses ...

In the meantime, I turn to this ...

This is a beautiful book, written by Diana, with illustrations by Peter Boston and photographs by Julia Hedgecoe. Nearly all the pictures in this post are from her photos. The book doesn't tell you how to make the quilts but it's full of inspiring details, extracts from Lucy's letters and much much more.

The Patchworks of Lucy Boston

You can order this book from the Green Knowe Shop. Lucy Boston was a truly inspirational woman in so many ways. Do look at the quilts, admire what she created in her house and garden but, most of all, read her children's books.

I hesitate to mention this after talking about such exquisite work but I did play around to see if it was possible to knit the Patchwork of the Crosses.

It sort of works but I don't think it's quite right. Maybe I'll go back to it one day and try again.

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