Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Preparing for a talk and a workshop

Samples for a mixed media workshop
I've been busily hand stitching this last weekend. These are samples for a workshop which I shall be leading on Friday. It is a mixed media workshop and will focus on texture.The samples are calico over Texture Magic. I shall be steaming one of these samples to show exactly what happens with this strange medium. It is a steam activated shrinking fabric which makes some really nice textural interest. I haven't done it with handstitching before, so this should be really interesting. It won't be possible to do machine stitching on the day. I'll post photos once I've shrunk this first sample. Then I should be able to post photos of the other samples I am in the middle of making. I really shouldn't have sat down to write this post.

Fabric bought from Ikea
Last week I had the chance to go into Ikea again. I bought this piece of fabric. It should make a really nice jacket. Not expensive either. I'd gone in to get some more black for the back of my African Crosses quilt. I really do need to get on with that one, especially since there are another three quilt tops which also need layering and quilting. I've decided this must be the year when I start delving into that pile of unfinished projects. 
Paper collage
On Tuesday, I went to Alsager Creative Stitchers. They had a talk from Sue Boardman called "Torn apart and Stitched up". She specialises in stitched paper collage. The challenge for the group this year is to make a butterfly each month inspired by the speaker. Hence my paper collage. I'm not keen on stitching through paper using my machine, so I scanned and printed the collage onto printable cotton.

Printed and stitched version of the paper collage
This is the result. I have free machine stitched all over it using a variegated thread. I'm going to applique a butterfly over the top. You will have to wait for the butterfly, it still resides inside my head. My sewing machine is now safely packed away ready for a workshop tomorrow - lead by Ann Spargo, we will be weaving fabric to make a waistcoat. Fun! Photos later.

ACS butterfly - first version
For the January meeting the members stitched a butterfly onto thin calico.  We were to use a straight stitch, so I have used backstitch. I have also added some beads. The outline of the butterfly itself was the only thing supplied, apart from the fabric. Such an enjoyable session.

Oh, preparation for a talk? Well, that happens tomorrow evening. It will be rather a busy day.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Knitting, stitching and going to a workshop

Some patterns I have been given
A few weeks back I was given a small collection of vintage patterns, four of which you can see here. I realised that I had never shown anyone my collection of patterns. I haven't counted recently just how many there are:

Most of my pattern collection

Yes, it is all in sections
The patterns here are the standard sized ones. There are a few large patterns which live in a bigger drawer. They are just too high for this one.

My current project yarn as well as some for the next three projects planned
I've been tidying up my knitting yarns too. This small box lives in the living room alongside the settee where I normally sit. I use it to plan ahead, adding any wools, patterns and other supplies I might need for my current knitting project and also the ones I plan to do next. At the moment, the plan is for these skeins to complete my current jumper, then for a pair of long socks (light brown), and couple of pairs of socks or gloves in the remaining four ply yarns above (all shades of green).

I finished the top, as shown in the last post. Then cast on with this next project from December's "The Knitter" magazine. You can see the design photos from the magazine here. It is knitting up really nicely so far, with only a few rows ripped back. Yes, I always get something wrong somewhere. It is quickly remedied most of the time. In the worst cases, I end up ripping back and starting again.

Design ideas - basic leaves
Last week I went to a full day workshop with Judy Fairless. She is a very talented textile artist, and an excellent teacher. She lead the session, giving a wide range of ideas to experiment with during the day. Our topic was "Drawing for Design". A really interesting time was had by all. I started using some small leaves I had brought along, tracing them and developing a couple of block ideas.

Blocks designed from a small section of the design above
A design idea based on the block patterns

More ideas based on the same blocks
I really enjoyed myself and plan to turn these ideas into actual printing blocks before too much longer.

Using cut out paper 
I also made some cut out paper patterns. Instead of using plain paper, I decided to paint some background paper using watered down acrylic paint.

 The background paper

The remaining cut out pieces
Such a lot of fun. It gave me plenty of ideas for a challenge piece I need to complete for next Wednesday. Yes, I still haven't managed to get out of finishing everything at the last minute.

The elements I had taken to the workshop
I had started out drawing the bits of bark (Silver Birch), beech nuts, and beech nut case shown above. However, I really couldn't see any way of getting these items to work for me. I did get a lot out of the workshop and it has taught me a lot about using any drawings I make.
Towards the end of the session, I made an experimental block from pizza packaging - the polystyrene type. Not sure that it will work, but it is worth a try. This one is sitting on a collection of thin craft foam pieces. I intend to make some more blocks from this.

A block made from packaging
Well. I had better get on with things. I have rather too many ideas running round my head at the moment. Sorting out which one to start first is a little problematic. Perhaps working on the ones which need to be finished first might be the best idea. Wish me luck.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The vintage top design

Detail of the top front, showing the armhole detail and the collar.
Yes, the top is complete. I put it onto Aggie, my tailor's dummy to take some photos. The picture above gives the most accurate representation of the colour. As you can see, the collar opening comes really low. Definitely a garment to be worn over a polo necked top. I fancy making myself a long sleeved white shire with an open revere collar just like the one in the pattern. Perhaps to wear with a tailored skirt or trousers. I look forward to being able to wear this.

Full front showing the structure - there are two pockets down above the double moss stitch hem.
A rather smart design and timeless. I do like the fact that there are pockets, I might not use them, but they are such a nice addition.

The back
Again, a nice clean line to the back. I wish I knew what colour the original design was knitted up in. Mum has now taken the pattern and is going to have a go at knitting it. My sister's version is also nearing completion. Hers, in 3ply, is an even paler jade than mine.
The pattern

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

More knitting

Being away for Christmas and then going on holiday for a fortnight has meant no posts here, sadly. However, I am now back. Plans for this week include ensuring everything is ready for a talk I am giving on the 10th February and also preparing for a workshop on the 12th. I must have been mad to have agreed to it all. Still, I have always worked better when under pressure.
I did manage to complete one stitched piece yesterday. Unfortunately, I can't share it until after the 12th February. Yes, the piece is part of a challenge which finishes on that date. The group is one for whom I shall be giving the workshop. It should be fun.
After finishing the waistcoat I showed in my last post here, I started a completely different project. The knitting pattern is one found by my sister. It dates from the 1920s, and was taken from a magazine called "Woman's Outlook". The date on the cover is 14th January1928.

The sleeveless top
The photo isn't very clear about exactly what it looks like. I have now almost completed it, just needing to complete the sailor style collar which isn't clearly shown above.

The pattern's headline
The pattern uses 3ply, but I have used 4ply since I could achieve the correct tension. The yarn used is Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply in the aqua colourway. Not a cheap wool, this is pure merino, chosen since it should drape well.

Just knitting the collar
The collar, hemline and armholes are all in double moss stitch. I shall take more photos when the light is better.
It was a delightful project to take away on holiday.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Just knitting

Quilt hanging up - borders added
Well, not just knitting. Just before heading off to my daughter's for Christmas, I did manage to complete the borders on my African Crosses quilt. It now looks like this and awaits the wadding and backing.
The wadding is currently drying out. it is a cotton mix and I have washed it before using it. It is one of those waddings which will shrink by around 5% when washed, so I prefer to wash it first, before any quilting starts. At the moment the quilt is 52inches wide and 66inches in length.It will be interesting to measure it again once quilted and bound.
Beanie hat and fingerless mittens for my husband
I took plenty of knitting with me down to the house. The first item to be completed was this hat. A very quick make, I had sufficient yarn left to make the pair of fingerless gloves. These came in very handy when we were out walking over Christmas. It was windy, so I gave the hat and gloves to my husband Ian to keep his ears and fingers warm. He was delighted, which was rather sweet.

Interrupted cables
My main project was the green aran waistcoat which I had been struggling with over the past few weeks. In all the time I had been working on it, I had only completed four inches. For me that is far too slow. I had become rather bored with the project and so I ripped it back and started something else. The working name for this is "Interrupted cables". I have no fixed idea as to what this will become. It will probably be either a waistcoat, or a sleeveless top. There isn't enough yarn for anything else. Started on Christmas Eve, I have almost reached the shoulders............ You will have to be patient since I am making this one up as I go along.

My revamped workroom
Today has been rather busy. We arrived back the day before yesterday with a vintage desk which Ian had bought at auction. A lovely item, it now sits proudly in his office. As a result, his old desk was without a home. I suggested that I got his old desk and we discarded mine. Ian's old desk and my own work table had been computer desks owned by our daughters when they were at home. Mine had been damaged rather badly by the bench fastenings of my two working lamps. They gave very good light to work by, but were breaking up the surface of my old table which just wasn't strong enough to support them. The lamps have been put away for a later date when I may be able to use them again on a different surface.
My work table now looks like this. My quilt top waits patiently for me along with some of the fabric which may be used for the backing. Both my large cutting boards occupy one half ready for action. I have sorted through the contents of my little drawers and relabelled them. These hold my specialist machine feet and extra bobbins, scissors, rotary cutters and machine needles. Yes, I do have separate compartments for all my machine needles - there are eleven different types. ( Universal, Microtex, Embroidery, Quilting, etc, etc.) I like being able to keep track so that I know when I am running low on a particular type.........
My sewing machine is cleaned and ready for action. A new needle is in position.
The lamp shown is usually the one I take along to workshops if it is dull outside and might be rather dark inside the venue. It gives a really good light. It remains to be seen if it is enough. I am rather fussy about light quality.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Presents and cards

Christmas card
It has been a busy time here with presents and cards being made and given to their recipients. The card design came from a requirement by one group I attend, that presents and cards had to have a tree theme. Pinfold has a rather interesting idea in that everyone makes a card and a present and these are handed randomly using raffle tickets. This makes it fun in that no-one knows who has made their card or present until these are opened. This is done all together and then everyone goes round to see each card and present.
The red card of the pyramid box has a design incorporating trees and tree decorations. The design comes from a pad of papers and card which I picked up in Lidl earlier this year. Great fun!

Christmas present packaging
Christmas tree pin cushion
This was the tree-themed present inside the box. The star at the top is made from two star-shaped buttons stuck to the top of a flat headed flower pin. The tree is weighted down so that it won't easily be knocked over. I can't remember where I found the tiny flower pot. I would have liked to make more of these.
Article in Burda magazine
I found this delightful design in Burda's magazine from November this year. Sadly, I could not find the promised pattern on their website, so made my own.

hedgepigs in progress

My sketch
Hilary now has my first hedgepig pin cushion. This is the second which will be handed over to my younger daughter. Such fun to make.

Number two hedgepig
The project I am currently working on is the quilt top mentioned some time back. All the squares have been stitched together and the little motifs are in the process of being bondawebbed in place.

Quilt top in progress

Motifs pinned ready to iron
The next stage will be to add borders around the whole quilt. I haven't decided whether to have a fleece fabric as a cosy backing or whether to use quilting cotton.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Unfortunately there are some things I can't show you yet.

This is going to be one of those posts where I really cannot show you anything I have been working on. For the most part these are presents which will be passed on soon, but not before I post this. Anyone reading this will just have to be patient.
"Pebbles" is an interpretation of a design by Alexandra Waylett which was printed in the current "Stitch" magazine. I got rather excited about having a go and so this was my trial run. It was a lot of fun rooting through my "interesting fabrics" collection to find pieces which might just go together. I'm not yet sure what I shall do with this piece, since it incorporates purchased acrylic felt, chiffon, silk, velvet and various other fabrics. The circles of fabrics are held between layers of gauze and felt, being free machined into place. It was quick and fun to make, so I may well try something similar again.