A Most Exquisite Boutis Quilt

Don’t you just love those moments when you meet someone unexpectedly only to realise that this meeting would lead to an extraordinary event. Well that is what happened to me not long ago. I received a call from a lovely woman about a quilt that required some conservation work. Both being quilters with a penchant for hand-quilting the conversation lead me to inform my caller that I had just finished my first boutis pieces (see Jan 3/11 post). She told me that she would arrange to have me meet someone who had just recently finished a most exquisite boutis quilt that was six years in the making. I was delighted to say the least.

A Most Exquisite Boutis Quilt
To see such beautiful workmanship! This quilt has never been on display. Sue S. is a very private person and quilts for her own pleasure. I felt privileged to have been invited to view her quilt. She generously offered to teach me the technique of boutis. Since I had already done a couple of pieces, I was now eager to learn a few tricks. I was not disappointed. I am already planning to make a small window covering for a window that does not get direct sunlight. One knows that textiles will fade over time when exposed to light and white fabric will yellow with direct sunlight. Since it is a small window, hence a small piece, I am willing to test the longevity of a white textile before it turns yellow. It is a bit of a conundrum since the designs of a boutis is best seen when exposed to light yet light exposure contributes to the deterioration of a textile. A risk I am willing to take.

Exercise for the Needlewoman

This post is perhaps a little out of the realm of needlework, however anyone who has a passion for needlework knows that a lot of time is spent sitting. The only part of our body that gets any exercise are our fingers and wrist. In fact they get so much exercise that sometimes we actually experience aches and pains. Many of us already spend a good part of the day at a job that requires sitting at a desk. But exercise means taking precious time away from doing needlework. And when you already have little time to devote to one’s passion, exercise usually falls be the wayside. But if we want to remain healthy, it is important to exercise our body as the body was created to move. I personally walk 5 kilometers 2-4 times a week in winter and 4-7 times a week from spring to fall. I also follow a circular strength program that only takes 15-20 minutes to do and some weight resistance exercise using clubbells. The program was developped by Shane Heins certified Circular Strength Training (CST) Instructor, CST Coach, TACFIT Field Instructor, CST Kettlebell Specialist, TACFIT Team Leader and CST Head Coach. He is also the founder of  Dare To Evolve www.daretoevolve.tv

I have tried many different exercise programs from aerobic classes to treadmills at the gym. I have had better success using Shane’s fitness training program than any other program. I can also do it from the comfort of my home and yet take it with me wherever I go. Dare To Evolve!

Below Shane explains what makes his program different from other fitness programs. Read more on his website.

The Fitness industry has been slowly, but steadily, changing it’s tune over the last decade, recognizing not only our need but our desire for more than just a shapely butt, nice legs, chiselled chest or bulging biceps. The transition has seen it become about Health, Wellness and Lifestyle. It speaks to training for the mind, body and soul.

Which is amazing right? Shouldn’t it all be about more than just the surface “features” we develop?

Trouble is, most fitness professionals don’t have a means to translate the benefits of physical training into supporting the growth and development of mind and soul. They know moving the body is key, without a doubt, to the whole package of evolving our entire being. Outside of the scientific reasons that back doing so, most fitness professionals, as “movers” themselves, intuitively understand the space it creates for themselves and those they train to improve their lives.

Yet despite all the lingo being used about “fitness to enhance mind, body and soul”, the approach is still in large to do so by:

  • lose a ton of fat in the next 30 days
  • build the chest and arms of a superhero
  • Tone up to get the shapely legs and butt everybody wants

From this also lies the greatest risk of falling into a common trap. The trap of promoting the transformation of your physique as the source of developing self-confidence and self worth. To say that in achieving the ideal physique (as dictated by the industry itself) will be the source of your value in this world.

Which, while maybe well intentioned, couldn’t be further from the truth.

There needs to be more than just the surface. Without the internal process to match the external, it becomes a vicious cycle of starts and stops, of defeat,  inadequacy and feeling unfulfilled. Sound familiar?

Bridging the Gap.

At Dare To Evolve, we use the platform of physical training (being grounded in what we instantly and tangibly feel as we come up against the tension and resistance generated over years) as the vehicle for developing the innate qualities within us. By consistently and systematically tapping into those qualities, nurtured through a budding intuition, we start interacting with our unique gifts regularly, gradually turning up the dial on the energy building as we harness the essence that lies at the heart of who we are.

Harnessing the gifts that reside at the heart, we melt away from the inside out those chains and anchors that have been tightening their hold.

Physically vibrant, driven by the very heart of motivation, we can now access with greater effectiveness and success all the mind has to offer us as we strive to the heights of our capacity.

Dare To Evolve brings that elusive bridge to connect the path that will see us step into the immensity of our strength and power, unleashing on the world the gems of our utmost potential.


A Boutis/White Corded Quilted Bonnet and Jacket Set

I have always been fond of whitework, in particular boutis/white corded quilting. Inspired by a book by Francine Nicolle called Petits Tresors de Boutis I decided to try my hand at boutis.

Petits trésors de boutis (French Edition)

The process of making a boutis is somewhat different from your traditional quilt where you stitch three layers together consisting of a top, a fill and a backing. When creating a boutis, the top and backing are stitched together by hand following the design marked on the backing. The design usually consists of narrow channels and/or compartments. Cotton yarn is then inserted into the channels producing a bas-relief. The overall appearance of a boutis is quite stunning.

As I was expecting a granddaughter, I thought that it would be a nice small project to begin with before attempting a larger piece. Sixty hours later the bonnet and the jacket were completed. They were both stitched by hand with the exception of the bonnet’s crown piece and the jacket’s side seams.

Certain design elements were from Hubert Valeri’s book Boutis d’aujourd’hui.

Boutis d'aujourd'hui (French Edition)

After all this work, my granddaughter, Ruhiyya only wore it a couple of times before she outgrew it. Fortunately, another granddaughter, Kyrene,  was born and the little bonnet and jacket have been passed on to her. I plan to do another boutis in the near future as I really enjoyed the process. Until next time, Happy Stitching!

Tutorial: Crochet an Inuit Hunter’s Hat

This will be a somewhat feeble attempt to explain how to crochet an Inuit Hunter’s Hat. I am embarking on this project at the request of a few people who were interested to learn how to crochet the hat. Please keep in mind that I am not an expert in crotcheting. This is the only thing I crotchet. The instructions below are for a newborn hat. To make a bigger hat you will need to increase the crown of the hat by adding extra rows.  

Yarn: I use a medium weight acrylic yarn easily found in craft stores. The original Inuit Hunter’s Hat is done in wool but as most of the hats I make are for children, acrylic yarn washes easily and doesn’t shrink.  

Hook: 3.5 or 4  

Stitch: single stitch  

DISCLAIMER: If you decide to attempt this project, you do so at your own risk. I cannot be held responsible for bouts of frustration and uncharacteristic cursing. I will do my best to present the material as accurately as possible. Enjoy the journey!  

The Crown of the Hat  

Begin with 6 chain stitches.

Join the 2 ends together by inserting the hook into the first stitch.

Wrap the yarn once around the hook and pull it through the 2 loops.

How are we doing? You should have a nice little circle of yarn with 1 loop on the hook.

Take your hook and put it in the hole of the circle.

Wrap the yarn around the hook and pull it through the hole.

You should have 2 loops on the hook. Wrap the yarn again around the hook and pull it through the 2 loops.

Repeat the going in the hole stitch 8 more times. You should have 9 stitches around the circle.

Now we get to the tricky part, the part that confuses everyone at first. I know, I know. And here you thought everything was going tickity-boo. Well bare with me and try to follow the next part. Unfortunately my close-ups were too fuzzy to post. So we will be going at this blindly.  

You will begin the next series of stitches with a loop already on the hook. In each of the nine stitches you will put your hook in the middle of the stitch (a mini hole in the stitch), wrap the yarn around the hook and pull it through the 2 loops on the hook to create a single stitch. Place your hook back in the same stitch and repeat.  You are putting 2 completed single stitches (I call this the 2 in 1 stitch) in each of the nine stitches. Once complete you will have 18 stitches in the next row.  

Begin the next row by doing a single stitch in the first stitch and then a 2 in 2 stitch in the next stitch. You should have a total of 27 stitches.  

Begin the next row with 2 single stitiches and one 2 in 1 stitch. Continue to repeat this sequence until you have 36 stitches. By now you must have realized that you are crocheting in a spiral. For this reason it is very important to keep your stitch count accurate.  

After each completed row begin the next row by adding a single stitch to the sequence (3 singles & a 2 in 1 stitch, then 4 singles & a 2 in 1 stitch etc.).  You should always end up with 9 more stitches than the previous row. For a newborn hat stitch 8 rows (row 1 being 18 stitches) with a total of 81 stitches in row 8.  

 For a toddlers hat stitch 10 rows.  This is a hit and miss as it depends on the weight of the yarn. I have taking hats apart a number of times because it was too big or too small.  I now try to use the same wool for all my projects so that my hat sizes are consistent.  

If you feel brave you can add a row of a different colour. Just don't forget to count your stitches.

The Base of the Hat  

When you have completed your 8 rows, begin crocheting single stitches only.  Within a couple of rows you will notice you hat will begin to curve creating the sides of the hat.  

Good Job! Please note the hat is inside out.

When you have your desired length (approx. 3 in./7.75 cm) turn the hat right side out.  

With hat right side out begin a row of single stitches. This part will become the brim.

The Brim of the Hat  

This is the part where you can get creative. Use 2 or more colours to create an interesting design.  Recount your stitches.  You should have 81 stitches but if you discover you only have 79 because 2 stitches disappeared in the process, DO NOT PANIC! This will not overly affect the look of the hat. Using graph paper draw out your design using one square of the graph paper for each stitch. Remember that when you follow your design ALWAYS follow it from the bottom of the paper up or else you will discover that your design is upside down when you put flip your brim up. Trust me. I have done this more than once. For some designs it may not matter but if you decide to put the child’s name on the hat then you will find the name crocheted upside down. When you have completed the brim, knot it off.  

This is what your hat will look like once you have completed the brim.

Flip the brim.

If you would like to add ear flaps, skip this part and go the the Ear Flap part.  

At the seam where the brim and the hat join you will crochet one row of single stitches all around.  This keeps the brim from rolling down. Knot off at the end of the row. Now skip to Tassel part.  

  • If you do not want to add ear flaps, scroll down to the bottom of the tutorial to finish off with a tassel.

Ear Flaps  

You may wish to add ear flaps. I particularly do this for all of my children’s hats. Find the back of the hat.  This will be where the designs are off a little because of the spiral effect. Begin with the left side of the hat. Begin your row of single stitches at 9 stitches from the centre back of the hat. From this point stitch 14 stitches. Once you have completed the first row flip your hat to stitch the next row. Each row will automatically decrease. Continue to flip the hat as you finish stitching each row until you are left with one stitch. Put your yarn through the last stitch. Cut leaving a long enough tie.  

Hat with ear flaps.

To do the right ear flap count 23 stitiches to the right. Begin crocheting the first row if 14 stitches. continue as with the left ear flap flip the hat at the end of each row. Once both ear flaps are completed you will crotchet a row of single stitches all around the hat and ear flaps. You will find that it is not straight forward to stitch around the ear flaps. Do the best you can spacing the stitches evenly.  I find there is a sequence of stitch and a hole/space, stitch and hole/space.  I use each the stitch and the hole to introduce a single stitch as I go around.  I know. This sounds as clear as mud. However it is neccessary to give the hat a nice finished look.  

Adding the final touch to the hat.

You can use an alternating colour to stitch around the hat and ear flaps.

 Hooray you have completed your hat. Now on to the tassel.  


No Inuit Hunter’s Hat is complete without a tassel. Cut four pieces of yarn approximately 14 in/35.5 cm long. Using your crochet hook, thread 2 of the yarns at the top of the crown in one direction and then the other two in the opposite direction so that they are perpendicular to each other.  

Yarns are threaded pependicular to each other. One side will have 3 strands as it will include your starting yarn.

If you have ever made bracelets with gimp at summer camp (I might be dating myself), it is the same principle except that your braid will appear circular rather than square. Using the illustration above you cross strand A & C and then strand B & D and repeat until you have the length you require. You may need to get assistance from another individual to do this. It also helps if strands A/C are one colour and B/D are another colour. Once you have reached the desired length add your tassel.  

To make the tassel, wrap yarn (you can use as many colours as you want) around a piece of cardboard the desired length of the tassel. Cut the yarn at one end of the cardboard.  Join strands A/B together and strands C/D together.  Place the middle of your tassel yarns in such a way as you can tie them with the braid strands. Then using a separate strand of yarn, tie everything together.  

Trim yarn of the tassel to the desired length or to simply clean up the ends.  

Hat complete with tassel.

For the ties you may choose to do a 4 strand braid or you can do a regular 3 strand braid.  

And there you have it, your very own Inuit hunter’s hat. Enjoy the journey! 

Picking up a hook instead of the needle…

Although I did ply my needle this week, working at least 10 hours on my petit point project, I also crocheted 2 infant hats.  There are a number of young mothers-to-be in the community expecting to deliver in the next month so I decided I would make some warm winter hats to help stave off Edmonton’s cold winter.

Baby Size Inuit Hunter's Hat

I was taught to crochet the Inuit Hunter’s Hat (also known as a “Pang Hat” as I believe these hats originated in the small Arctic community of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Canada) in 1990 while my husband, Tim and I and our four children lived in Pond Inlet, a small community north of Pangnirtung on the tip of Baffin Island.  By the way, it is the only thing I crochet. I have made many hats over the years.  More recently I have made them for my grandchildren as well as teaching 4 of my colleagues at work how to make them.

Me with daughter Chelsea-Lyne in April 1990

Chelsea-Lyne is wearing the first hat I ever made. We were both so young then. Chelsea-Lyne recently celebrated her 20th birthday and has her own CD out. Check her out at www.chelsealyne.com. Here’s to the memories.

Woodcut Print or Petit Point?

A woodcut  print is an artistic technique in relief printing. One carves an image into the surface of a block of wood, removing all the non-printing parts. By rolling black ink over the surface of the block, only the surface area will become the print on paper.

Nativity with Midwife

I received a Christmas card this year called  Nativity with Midwife , a woodcut print from Eric Gill’s Book of Engravings published in 1929. It  reminded me of how much I like the look of woodcut prints. In fact I have been working on a petit point project that resembles a woodcut print. I took a photograph taken by my son-in-law Jessie and turned it into a black and white image.  I then turned the black and white image into a needle point chart.

Aria & Olee

The photo is of my grandchildren, Aria and Olee, at the top of Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel overlooking the Baha’i  Gardens. I am using a 28 count Irish linen and black DMC cotton embroidery thread. I began working on this (on and off) since April 2008. and I am almost halfway there. You can see from what I have already completed how the project is taking on the look of a woodcut print. I am looking forward to completing it so I can frame it and put it on my wall. I will be sure to post the final results once I have finished it.

Petitpoint Project

Until next time, happy stitching!

New Beginnings

Today is the first day of the year 2010.  It seems like a good time to join the world of blogging. I am an aspiring fibre artist.  I love to create art using a needle pulling thread. I do petitpoint and embroidery and recently quilting. This blog is meant to document and share my progress as I create my own threadlore.

Stay tune for upcoming projects.