Monday, March 19, 2018

Knitting, sewing and future plans

The Unicorn Jumper is now completed, I just have a few ends to sew in. When I'd almost finished knitting this jumper, I was told of a technique called Ladder Back Jacquard for colourwork like this design. You will find a video about the technique here. The knitter who suggested it is really talented and I feel I ought to give it a go if I could just knit as neatly as she does. Can this old dog learn a new trick? I really ought to try.

There was a second completed item too. My green cardigan which has languished forgotten for too long is now ready for some buttons. I could do with wearing this cosy cardigan, especially with the chilly wind we have whistling around the house.

As I write this, I have a pair of shorts awaiting completion on my work table. As I mentioned last time, they are a trial run for a pair of trousers I intend cutting out and making. I needed to get the side seams sorted out to get a better fit. They just need finishing off. The brown fabric for the trousers has been languishing in my to do pile for rather too long. My next job will be to get these cut out.

I managed to get myself up to date with the Design Your Wardrobe course from Seamwork. This has now just finished. As a result I bought myself some fabric. Very naughty. It made me realise just what I found I missed from my spring and summer clothes last year. A nice soft skirt. I had had a beautiful silk skirt bought in Hong Kong. It had to be retired a couple of years ago.

These first two pieces - 3m metres each of Nugget and French Navy Viscose which are intended for two skirts I need to make. The pattern I will be using is the Zinnia from Colette patterns. I will make one of each - the first will have buttons down the front like my original skirt, while the second will have the pleated front. They will both have side seam pockets.

The third fabric I bought was this Trailing Leaves stretch Ponte Roma in a dark navy. I intend making a Neenah dress from Seamwork. You can see the design here. All the fabrics shown came from Minerva. This is rather a challenge for me since I have not made a stretch knit dress before. I think a trial run is required if I can just find the time. I still haven't started that quilt I mentioned last week and that deadline is looming ever closer.......

This last sheet is the collection of designs which I put together during the Design Your Wardrobe course. How many of these will eventually get made is quite a different matter. I think I have fabric for all of these in my stash, or most of them. I need a couple of the patterns too. I don't have the patterns for the Style Arc top or the Hot patterns dress and cargo pants. I also need to get on with designing that dungaree dress. Hopefully I will have made a start by the time I next write a post for this Blog. Wish me luck?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trying to fit everything in

Crocus with bee enjoying the sunshine.
There are times when I really don't understand Blogger at all. I clicked on a single photograph and all the photos I had intended to put into this Blog post, but not yet, arrived all at once. Strange......

Ah well, my first photos are of the crocuses and daffodils arriving in my garden. Such a wonderful lift of bright colours whilst we have been having some really chill weather. Apparently more is to come, but the flowers just cheer everything up.

I had intended to be good and not buy any fabric........

Black spotted fabric - just over a metre
I made the mistake of going into the local haberdashery for bias binding...... Fatal...... I came out with the bias binding, but grabbed this piece from the end of roll bin. It is a crisp, cotton/synthetic blend which should make a nice straight skirt.

Thinking of dressmaking, I did finish the waterfall jacket mentioned in my last post. I'm not entirely happy with it and am thinking about whether or not to alter the shoulders. They feel a bit bigger than I'd hoped for. Ah well, it will have to wait until I have finished a couple of other projects.

Rust fabric from Tracy Fox

On Saturday, I went along to the Quilters' Guild Regional day in Frodsham. So nice to meet up with people I rarely see. Such an interesting event too. Barbara Weeks was he speaker in the afternoon. Such an interesting person. She is also a member of the International Feltmakers Association and it was fascinating to chat about the felt tunic she was wearing. We had both attended the same workshop by Vivienne Morpeth, at different venues, so it was really nice to hear a much more experienced feltmaker's opinion. It was interesting to hear that Barbara is going to attend another workshop to be given by Vivienne in the near future. You can see my tunic here.

I was very naughty and walked around the stalls whilst at the Regional Day. Not a very sensible idea when trying not to buy fabric. I spent a lot of money on quilting threads to add to my stock, and couldn't resist some rust fabric which was being sold by Tracy Fox. It was so nice to catch up with her again too. I find her fabric really hard to resist.

There has been knitting. Test knitting. My green cardigan has been left for the moment. It has got to a stage which I really don't enjoy - picking up stitches for a button band and the buttonhole border too. I will get round to finishing it, but these two test knits have taken over.

This is the Adair Hat by Aida Sofie. You will find her designs on Ravelry, also here.

This little hat is in the toddler size, although this design will soon be available in sizes ranging from toddler to adult. I chose Sirdar's Harrap Tweed for this one. It is a really nice yarn to knit with and has interesting slubs of contrasting colours. The colour I bought was shade 0109, a lovely brick red.

The next knitting project is this gorgeous unicorn design, again from Aida Sofie. I really couldn't resist knitting this one. I have photos of my granddaughter playing with a toy unicorn. So this is being knitted in the size 2 -3 years. I've managed to get on quite well with this jumper despite fitting in the Adair hat too.

Ah well, I must get on with some sewing. I have a pair of shorts cut out ready on my work table and plans for another quilt. The shorts are a trial run on a trousers pattern I first made a couple of years ago. Since I have put on weight since the last time I made these, I really need to check out the sizing again. I know I altered them last time, but I don't seem to adapted the pattern itself, which was a bit silly. Ah well, with a bit of luck I should be able to cut out a pair of trousers after finishing this project. I really do need some nice trousers in my wardrobe. Oh, in case you are wondering. I decided against trying out the new trouser pattern. It is nice, but has a pleated front. Not a good look on me.

Speaking of wardrobes, I am also about a week behind on the Design your wardrobe course from Seamwork. I really must try to catch up before that ends on Friday. It is a really interesting course which is making me think rather more about what projects I ought to sew for myself. As a result I have ordered two lengths of viscose from Minerva to make summer skirts. I planned to replace my elderly silk skirt last year but never managed to get round to it. It was a lovely french navy and such a comfortable skirt to wear. I will be using the Zinnia pattern from Colette Patterns which is similar in style. 

Could I have an extra couple of days this week? Please........

Monday, March 05, 2018

Getting back on track

Latest test knit
I'm trying to get myself back into routine. It is ages since I regularly posted on a Monday morning, so I'm hoping to get myself back into doing that from now on.
As you can see the latest test knit is under way. I showed you the yarn colours last time. The design has unicorns running all around the shoulder line. Knitted from the top down, the neckline is a double one which started with a provisional cast on. I'm rather pleased with the way the colours are working together. Hopefully, the colourwork will have been completed by the next time I post a photo.

I have another test knit to complete from this same designer too. This time it is a hat - again for a toddler, so quite a quick project. I should root through my yarn stash to see what I might have. I just hope there is a nice toddler friendly colour in there somewhere. The hat needs DK rather than the four ply of the jumper seen above.

Waterfall jacket

I'm also working on a jacket made out of polar fleece. This should be cosy for when the weather starts to improve later this month. The pattern came as a free gift with the Simply Sewing magazine issue 25. You can see the pattern here, although it does now appear to be out of print.
As you can see from the above photo, I am working on the front at the time of writing this. The jacket features rough edges, which is fine with me. However, since I was rather concerned that the lovely pocket could easily get pulled out of shape, I have chosen to reinforce the edges using tape and my overlocker. I think I will just overlock the main edge of the jacket since the wrong side is shown on the collar. This should be all right. The sleeves have a cuff, so that will reinforce the ends of the sleeves.

Oh yes, in case you were wondering. I do have another quilt forming in my head. Well, make that two. There is also a pair of trousers to be made next. It is a pattern I have used before so I know it fits. The fabric is also waiting in my stash. The only problem is this. Should I use the dry clean only wool in a french navy which would go nicely with this new coat. Or, should I go for the brown fabric bought specifically to make trousers some time ago. This fabric is also lovely, but had been earmarked for a different trouser pattern which would need me to make a toile first...........

Friday, March 02, 2018

Submitting a quilt, more knitting and plenty of sewing

Make and Take materials ready and waiting
It was lovely to see all the quilts at Quiltfest. Such an interesting exhibition. This was my table just before the doors opened on the first of the days when I was helping out by leading one of the "Make and Take" sessions. It is so nice to chat with people as they wander in to see the quilts. 

Sashiko pockets
During the quiet times while I was at Quiltfest, I started the blue Sashiko Pocket, buying the kit from the Quilters' Guild stand at the show. I had started my first one some years ago and had lost the instructions on how it should look and red one shown here. The kit gives full instructions on how to work the sashiko design also giving a couple of options. Seeing the blue version, I just had to buy it. So now I have two completed "pockets". The oversized buttons have now been removed since I felt they were rather too clumsy for my liking. I now plan to add shoulder straps to turn these into little project bags. They are a quick make with delightful hand stitched embroidery, which is good fun to complete. The Guild's shop now seems to have run out of this kits, but have other sashiko items here.

After Quiltfest, I got on with completing my entry for the "In Print" challenge from the Contemporary Quilt Group. This is the special interest group, part of the Quilters' Guild of the British Isles, which I joined some years ago. I was their Coordinator some three years ago too.

"In Print" sample before completion.
I had decided towards the end of last year that I really ought to take part in the next challenge and see if my piece might be accepted after submission. I got my online submission completed a day ahead of the deadline with the sample sent out in the post a couple of days earlier. I have no idea how I shall get on and will just have to wait until May when the jurying process is complete. I know that my form and photo have been received, but haven't yet heard whether the sample made it through the post. I think I shall just hope that, since I haven't been asked for it yet, that it must have arrived. I just haven't got enough fingers available to keep any crossed at the moment.........

"In Print - Maps"

My piece was inspired by all the work on Maps and text done with the NWCQ group in November, also the Black and White quilt I completed as a result of that same workshop. A photo of this particular quilt can be seen in my 22nd January post. "Maps" uses tea, rust and procian dyed fabrics which I have made over the past few years. There are dyecatchers which have been used for line drawings and text derived from the November workshop. Stencils, thermofax screens, lino and block printing has also been used. The lettering is bondawebbed in place. The quilting imitates the contour lines of the maps I had been inspecting.

 Now, I have started knitting a jumper for my grand daughter, another test knit. There will be photos later once the jumper is complete.

I've also done some alterations to some of the clothing I have made in the past. The first was to retrospectively add lining to a pair of linen/cotton blend trousers. I suddenly realised why I really couldn't face wearing these trousers. The inside leg seam was rubbing the skin on my legs and making me really uncomfortable. The trousers fit well, so it was a real nuisance that they really were not pleasant to wear. It will be interesting to see whether this adaptation works.

I have also altered a pinafore dress which I had found really bulky. The top has been cut off, so that I am now left with a skirt. This has now been lined. It will be interesting to see if this alteration works out as well as I hope. I had used a fine needlecord which proved to be a little too heavy for the design I was using.

With a bit of luck I will soon have two "new" and useful additions to my wardrobe.

As I write this, there is a pile of polar fleece sitting on my work table ready to be cut out. This, I hope, will turn into a cosy waterfall style coat. I have been wanting to get on and make this for some time now, but had to get a couple of other projects out of the way first. The pattern on the fleece has a musical theme so I had best get on with this. The recorder group start meeting again before too long and I'd promised myself I would wear it to our first meeting of the year.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

A messy play day with friends.

Title page to "Woolly Thoughts"
A few things have been completed since I last posted a blog here. I went along to a really enjoyable Messy Play Day at Meryl's last Wednesday. Such fun. I'll show you what we did later. I felt I really ought to get my challenge book cover completed before heading off to the dyeing session. I wanted to prepare it ready to hand over so that it could be taken along to the next Pinfold meeting. Sadly, I can't be there since I will be giving a mini workshop at Quiltfest. I added a title page as well as a cover.
Front cover
The cover is made up of dyecatchers which have been drawn on using permanent markers in various colours. This has then been quilted over a thin iron-on wadding.
Full cover
 These are the original pages I completed ready for the challenge. Hand made felt, printed and hand stitched with dyecatchers which had been free machine embroidered.
My pages inside the book
After handing over the book, it was time for playing. For the Messy Day we first dyed threads and cotton fabrics using procian dyes.

Dyed threads awaiting rinsing out
Dyed fabric drying
threads drying on the rack
The fabrics were dyed inside plastic pots whilst the threads were painted with dye. Such a lot of fun.
Dried and ironed fabrics ready to use.
The dyed threads wound onto bobbins ready to use

Dyed bias tape wound round cardboard after ironing. Hopefully this will keep the tape flat
As you can see, we actually completed a lot of dyeing - bias tape, threads and fabric. All of these are going to be so useful in various projects.

The afternoon found us playing with different materials to make decorated papers. We used stencils, Brusho powder, spray inks and Pixie Powder. Spraying the different media using a fine water spray brought out such a variety of different effects. Even the kitchen paper used as masks has been kept since it can also be used in different projects. Thanks Meryl for a really exciting day.

I've put my decorated papers, fabrics and threads away for now while I get on with the quilts I really ought to be sewing. Unfortunately, the quilts really aren't of quite so much interest. However, there are deadlines to meet, so I really ought to get moving with them. Hopefully there will be some progress to report next time.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Quilting and finishing things

I got the latest page of the Pinfold Book Challenge finished in good time for the Fabric Sale in Nantwich yesterday. I will show you some photos of the Pinfold stand at this show a little later in this post. This page was for Rosemary's book "By the Silver Stream". The bulrushes are free machine embroidery over a fine soft tulle. This is then hand stitched in place over a background made from various colours of dye catchers. The frog on the left is a line drawing in permanent marker onto a further piece of dyecatcher. This one had turned a lovely patchy green - a really useful colour.

The NWCQ quilt is now almost finished. I just need to add borders. Sorry about the dull photo, I shall try again in the morning to see if I can get a lighter picture. There are FME trees added, stitched over fine tulle this has been handstitched in place with a few sequins colouring one of the trees. A little train button has been added beside the tunnel, just as a bit of fun.

One item which has been finished is my Scania shawl. As you can see the fringe has yet to be trimmed and the whole thing could do with blocking. It should be really cosy to wear. Aggie is wearing it at the moment.

I did mention the annual Fabric sale in Nantwich. The Pinfold members provided such a variety of items to show on the stand that it proved very popular with visitors who really enjoyed looking at what we had made. You can see more photos of the show here. If you are on Facebook, the show has it's own Facebook page here.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Getting back into the flow

The elements for my Scania Shawl arrived on Saturday. The yarn is Cloudborn Fibers Highland Superwash Sock Twist. I wasn't sure what to expect from the yarn since I had never seen it anywhere before ordering this kit. It is rather nice, 80% Superwash "Fine Highland wool" and 20% Polyamide from Peru (via Craftsy in the USA). It has travelled rather a long way.........

The colours are: Black, Charcoal Heather, Grey Heather, Oatmeal Heather and Ecru. The pattern asks for two colours to be knitted together for each section making a marled appearance. Yes, I haven't knitted much. I started late on Saturday night after a very lengthy time trying to work out what the pattern meant. It is written more like a recipe than a traditional knitting pattern. It certainly challenged my "little grey cells". Yes, I do rather enjoy watching Poirot / Miss Marple or Agatha Christie stories on the TV. So relaxing since I know the stories relatively well and they do not interrupt the thinking behind working out a technical section of pattern.

I've rather given up on the cardigan for now, but can pick this up at any stage to carry on. The back and left front are complete and the ribbing for the right front is well under way.

The NWCQ quilt is coming together. The background has now been quilted and the bits and pieces for the applique are being auditioned ready for the next stage.

At Pinfold this week, I picked up these two silk shawls from the sales table. Not sure what I shall do with these.The one below the floral patterned shawl is actually to printed shawls side by side. They have never been cut apart and hemmed. I need to think about whether to use this for nuno felt or to make these up as gifts. The one on top I shall keep for myself and wear. It is rather a pretty shawl and I can always use it for nuno at some future date. For now it will be washed and then put aside to be worn.

I took my husband out for lunch during the week and we explored Blakemere. After looking round the antiques, we visited Peepultree where I picked up these lovely blocks to add to my collection.