Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Kawandi with Sujata

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. 
~Jane Addams

Quilting

Last month Sujata Shah presented a lecture and workshop to our guild. She has a new class on kawandi which are quilts made by the Siddi people - Indians of African descent. Because some arrived as early as the 7th century while others came as slaves during the African Diaspora, regions have differing customs.

Kawandis are uniquely designed from the outside in. Siddis begin with a sari as the backing, baste waste fabric on top for batting, and appliqué scraps on the front... starting with the outside edges. They always know how big their quilt will be. What a refreshing change.

Not so refreshing is that they don't use pins. What? This was difficult for me but I'm trying.

First two rounds on my kawandi

Only when they need to be sewn in place is another piece added. This was another hard lesson for me but I found the results worth tackling my pre-planning/let's-just-test-it-out habit. This way is "in the moment" and actually made turning the corners easier.

Anyway, I marked my calendar to sign up for her class as soon as it became available. And... this turned out to be the perfect project. My scrap bag is overflowing. Improvisational applique seemed the way to spin it down while listening to shows with DH. After several quiet evenings my first placemat was done. Yes, Sujata's size suggestion made perfect sense - a small, useful item.

Kawandi placemat without fula

My mistake was forgetting to add fula with the first round. Those are fabric scraps that represent flowers added to the corners of all kawandi. Sujata's correct. It's harder to add them later. 

Kawandi placemat with fula

A few more of these are basted and ready to start. Hopefully they will be finished before the end of the year. Christmas rushes in so soon after Thanksgiving. Canadians are smarter to have their Thanksgiving a bit earlier. But still, we are thankful for every day and for the family and friends we joined with online to celebrate the holiday.

Reading

This summer I was reading books that have been waiting on my shelves until new publications sidetracked me. Over the holiday I read an old copy of O, Pioneers that was hidden away - so old, I'm not sure where it came from. 

Willa Cather expounds on the relationships between individuals with society and with the prairie. While the land breaks many early settlers, over time they collectively transform the plains. At the same time, society forces weaker people to conform while those with a strong spirit survive. Her brothers complained about Alexandra's innovative planting and reminded me how people are always the same. But other scenes are dated. For example, Alexandra blames the couple who had an affair for their murder by the husband. Still, there were reminders of my grandfather who grew up on such a farm about this same time... and ran away as soon as he was an adult.

Enjoy the day, Ann

32 comments:

  1. You do the most interesting things! Thanks for sharing your latest project.

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  2. The Siddi came out beautifully--Tom and I read "O Pioneers" a while ago and loved her descriptions of the "seas of grasses" and the sounds going cross country...fascinating to think of what it must have been like back then.
    Certainly another time of hardship...stay safe hugs from far away Julierose

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    1. Yes, her descriptions are evocative and I enjoyed it more after linking the era to my grandparents. You stay safe, too.

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  3. Your quilt came out so beautiful! I may have to save some of my special scraps to make one myself.

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    1. Thanks, Patty. I always need another way to use scraps. For some reason a group of "bird" squares was hiding in my scrap bag so I plan to use them on each placemat. Not at all Siddi-style but I'm delighted to have a place to highlight them.

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  4. I've enjoyed seeing several of Sujata's students' WIPs out in the ether. It looks like a fascinating (and satisfying) process. Though resolving the center does seem to stand firmly between "Oh, goody, I'm almost done with this" and "Oh, no, I'm almost done with this"...

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    1. There have been many exciting photos. Having quilt classes online means people can gather from all around the world. What a good result of a terrible year.
      I'm not very good at resolving the center yet but can't wait to start the second.

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  5. how cool is that! Now you've done it traditionally and learned, you could tweak it for your style, designing it then sewing for instance. Still could just barely place the squares and sew in place.
    I guess I say that because that's what I did with silk. I laid all the fabrics on then hand stitched over them leaving lots of raw edges and using different thick threads.

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    1. We frequently think alike, LeeAnna. After this set, I'll probably try to machine quilt them since that's my preferred style. My fingers are aching from this handwork.
      Raw edge silk would look great with heavy machine quilting!

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  6. I enjoyed reading about your experience. Planning enough ahead but not too far ahead was a real challenge and, a real life lesson. Also discovered how differently fabrics were to work with. Double gauze, shot cottons were great. Other equally light fabrics with a tight weave were not so much fun. I did the 30" square and should have started with a placemat size. Think I'd be more inspired to do more by starting with a smaller project. Love seeing everyone's finished projects.

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    1. You highlighted my two biggest points. There's no way to lay everything out; you just have to take it one scrap at a time. Oh, how hard that was for me. And even Sujata and others warned me not to use batiks, I managed to sew one piece. Three stitches in, I couldn't figure out why the work was so difficult. That's when I really looked at the weave. Then I put all my batiks in a different bag for the duration.
      Making a placemat was the best size for me because we need some new ones desperately. Your 30" square could be a large pillow.

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  7. Your placemat is beautiful! I don't know how well I'd do without pins! Wow, sounds very challenging! Interesting to see yours with the Fula and without. I'm not sure which one I like better.:)

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    1. Going pinless is a huge challenge for me. I'm laughing at myself because uneven seam allowances are driving me crazy. Wait. Quilters are already certified.
      Adding fula at the end makes them floppier. They hang more firmly when they are sandwiched between the layers.

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  8. Your Kwandi turned out great. I love the tiny tight stitching/quilting. The colors chosen work really well to make a cohesive whole. I loved some of Willa Cathers books (especially My Antonia) but I couldn't get cozy with O Pioneers. It left me troubled. Historically is is great and gives a window into how sturdy you had to be to live in the midwest. But, I guess that's true for whomever colonizes a new area.

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    1. Choosing each single piece in the moment was similar to my Coin quilts. Seeing how each new piece changes the look of the quilt is contemplative work to me.
      I've read some other Cather novels, too, but never this one. Even though it's fiction, it reflects the attitudes of the time. And how hard it could be as immigrant pioneers.

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  9. What an interesting technique -- and new vocabulary, too. I haven't read WC for a long time.

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    1. The English language is complex but I love the way we incorporate new words. It makes the language so vibrant IMO. French translates every new word to keep their language "pure" but I think that misses an important point.

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  10. Beautiful place mat! I love the way these are made from the outside in, an interesting way to work for a change. I'm assuming all the raw edges are gently turned under and then stitched?

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    1. Working from the outside in intrigued me the most. It's a family joke that all my quilts end up much larger than I needed. This way, you determine the size first and you stick with it.
      Yes, there are no raw edges. Anything that ends on top is turned under.

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  11. That is one pretty little placemat, Ann. I am tempted to try this technique with a mug rug. You know starting really small :-)
    May I call it Kawandi-inspired if I do not want to add the fula?

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    1. Thanks, Preeti. Sujata said that Siddi people think a kawandi is undressed if it doesn't have fula. But she also said they use mostly solids and simple prints like stripes and plaids. Most of my fabric is boldly printed. I used all the "quiet stuff" on this placemat. So long and short, let's call them all kawandi-inspired.

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  12. Great finish Ann! I watched Sujata on The Quilt Show with her kawandi quilts and a demonstration on how to make them, definitely on my list of projects. What is the size of yours?

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    1. I saw her episode, too. What beautiful quilts! She has such an eye for color and design. I measured an old placemat and added an inch in case it shrunk in the wash later (since my batting shrinks) and to leave room for turning the outer edge so I cut it 13x19".

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    2. Thank you for the measurements Ann.

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  13. This Kawandi is so interesting! Did you frame the placemat instead of binding it? Could the fula be origami flowers instead of quarter circles? Do you think Sujata will have another class or offer it as a webinar? I have so many scraps that I'd to try this with.

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    1. Sujata showed that on her Quilt Show episode. The outer edge is turned under and stitched very close to the edge.
      Origami flowers would be fabulous. I made these fula from circles because I'd seen some Sujata made a couple of years ago. She's using a newer and easier technique now. I'll try that next but may return to this style since I think it's pretty. But if you can do origami... What a clever plan!

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  14. Wow, learned something brand new today. Love your process and the product. Thanks for sharing, Ann!

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Jocelyn, and hope you take a class from Sujata sometime soon. She’s an excellent teacher.

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  15. Thank you for sharing the Kawandi quilt -- it looks like a very satisfying project (as I mentally add it to my list!)

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    1. I thought it was. And a good size to try something new.

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  16. Your finished kawandi quilts are fabulous--especially the wonderful mix of colors and prints. Yes--I too struggled with not using pins (and may have snuck in a few since i wasn't on camera!!)

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