Monday, November 17, 2014

Knitting and a textile book

Another jumper started.
It has been a busy couple of weeks. I have been involved with the Drama group once more. Not, this time, making costumes, but helping out with fast changes. With so much sitting around to do, I had to find a second knitting project since I quickly finished off the jumper shown last time.  I chose to do the same pattern again. So far I have completed the back and knitted the front to the stage between the casting off for the armhole shaping ant the casting off I shall need to do for the neck. My husband really likes the blue jumper, but hasn't worn it yet since it really has been a little too warm for a thick jumper. I hope he doesn't do his usual thing of putting it safely in the cupboard and only bringing it out "for best". This brown version will probably be for me since I could do with another really cosy jumper.

The completed "Music" book
I was also busy during the past week with completing a textile book. This has been going on for such a very long time. The group decided that last Friday was the deadline for completing these. So I got mine finished just in time.
As you can seen from the photo above, it is a concertina book. Each page is just 6 inches wide and 8 inches high. Most of the pages have been produced using an embroidery machine. Not surprising since the group is called the Machine Embroidery Group! I don't have such a machine and so all my pages were made using a mixture of appliqué and free machine embroidery onto my own dyed and printed fabrics.

Brenda's pages

Hilda's pages

Karen's pages

Marion's pages

Judy's pages

A third page from Judy and my explanation of the project.
Judy was very sweet and made three pages for me. This really worked well when putting the book together since I was able to add an explanation about the project onto a single page.

The covers
As you will notice, my front and back pages are free machine embroidered onto a piece of my own dyed fabric. I really wasn't happy with the intensity of the dye on this piece of fabric, but it worked perfectly for this project. It has been hanging around in my collection of fabrics for over dyeing or printing for a couple of years now.

The backing used for the pages showing the hinges.
The back of the book has been covered using my own dyed fabrics. I couldn't bear the thought of cutting these bits up, so having larger pieces like this to show the accidental patterns caused by the dyes was rather a lot of fun. Each of the pages is backed onto a stiff vilene using bondaweb. The hinges are simply dressmakers tape (used for strengthening seams in flimsy fabrics) which I inherited from my late mother-in-law. Each page is zigzagged to catch the tape and bind the edges.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Knitting and printing

The start of my husband's jumper.
The last couple of weeks have seen a lot of knitting - I finished a waistcoat and started a jumper for my husband.

The waistcoat.
The front of my husband's jumper showing the cable detail.

The jumper is Tire Trace by Agata Smektala. The pattern is a free Ravelry download and can be found here
The waistcoat can also be found on Ravelry here. It is by Meghan McFarlane and is an extremely quick knit having no seams at all.


I really enjoyed knitting this cosy waistcoat and am looking forward to wearing it.

We also travelled into Manchester and went on the Big Wheel. 
View of Manchester from one of the Big Wheel capsules.
The Big Wheel can be found in Piccadilly Gardens right in the centre of Manchester. Such an extraordinary experience being up so high and able to see for miles around. 

Fabric printed and stencilled.

There has also been some printing using some of the techniques taught by Gillian Travis during her workshop. Here you can see some photos of the fabrics I played around with. All have been painted with acrylic paints with some spraying and the use of stencils, thermofax screens and block prints.

This last piece may, or may not turn out to be something. I am rather late to submit it to Sky's the Limit for their November challenge - Townscape. The photos come from buildings I photographed whilst they were being demolished in the early 1970s. The brick shapes come from paintings I made around the same time.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A workshop with Gillian Travis

My first piece.
This weekend has been a really special one for me. On Sunday, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with Gillian Travis. I really admire Gillian's work, since she is a prolific quilter and an excellent teacher.The previous day, she had been giving a talk to the Quilters' Guild Region 13 Regional Day held in Frodsham. She gave a really interesting talk and showed us a very wide range of her work, whilst talking about her travels. The afternoon speaker was Val Jackson who showed her amazing work.

On the Sunday, Gillian showed us several techniques to build up a background fabric. She showed us how to make a wash using acrylic paints, and then using stencils and blocks to build up a texture. Then adding a thermofax print. Some people reading this will feel that this all sounds rather familiar. I must say that, although I have often used these techniques before, I learnt a huge amount from Gillian. I had never used acrylic paints before, preferring to use fabric paints. However, I have now changed my mind and will be using acrylics in future.

The second piece
I used some of my own stencils, learning the best way to apply the paint. I was so pleased with the results and will be investing in a couple of stencil brushes and also some little sponge dabbers that we were able to try.
My second and third pieces still need a lot of work, but I had such a lot of fun putting them together. The original fabric was an off-white stiff calico (muslin). 

My last, just started piece
Today has been spent trying to catch up with my emails, so there has not been any time to spare for playing around with textiles in my workroom and I still haven't managed to put all the workshop stuff away. Never mind, there is always tomorrow. I did manage to get a fair bit of planning done taking Ella for a long walk. I always seem to be able to get thing settled down in my head when I am off on a long walk...........

Hendred Hat by Elly Doyle
I did manage to get a cosy hat finished on Sunday evening, just in time for a rather chilly walk with Ella this morning. It really kept my ears cosy, just what I'd wanted. This hat can be found here and is also in the Scrumptious Collection Volume One from Fyberspates.

I still had some of the cosy yarn left over, but didn't want to make the mittens that match the hat since I never wear mittens. So, I decided to make a cowl or a scarf. In the end, I decided to try to design my own very simple scarf. So here it is:

The basic idea from my notebook.
I was going to use a cable design from one of my stitch library books. This one is excellent with lovely colour photos and clear diagrams.

The original photo of the cable design.
It is lovely working with books like this one. I know I haven't got very far yet, as you can see from the photo below this. However, I feel fairly confident that my scarf will turn out all right. Any problems with it will all be of my own making rather than the cable instructions from the book.

 Tomorrow is the day when I get to show my latest textile book to the Embroiderer's Guild meeting in Alsager. I shall have to let you know about how that goes another time.

Monday, October 06, 2014

A felting workshop and completed workroom.

View from workroom window
This morning the sky outside my window was rather threatening. Now that I am finally writing this entry to my blog, the sky has cleared and We have sunshine and blue skies! A crazy day. I managed to take Ella out for her walk this morning between the heavy showers. She wasn't impressed when I had to dry her paws.
Lampshade workshop
On Saturday I went along to a lovely feltmaking workshop. We were making lampshades using British wool. The colours are muted, but so lovely. The workshop was with the delightful Ellie Langley. I had a lot of fun learning how to construct my lampshade and learnt so much about making felt.
My lampshade
My own was made from two shades of Shetland wool. I look forward to being able to find a lampstand so that I can use it.

Japanese instructions
One project I plan to complete in the next few days is this one - a little purse/bag. The instructions are in Japanese, but I also managed to find the instructions for a similar bag in an English magazine. The kit comes from and the magazine article was found in issue 36 of Mollie Makes. I was lucky enough to find this copy in amidst a selection being given away by a friend in one of the textile groups I go to. I couldn't resist the little black cats in the fabric.

Little bag bits and pieces
Over the past few days I have been working on my textile book. This will be ready to be shown at an Embroiderer's Guild meeting in a few days time, so I won't show it just yet. These  are the fabrics I am using for the cover.

Book cover under construction
Her you can see the samples I made when I was trying to work out how to put it all together. The stitched samples are made from pieces of dyecatcher sewn together using button thread.

Sample books and cover
Lastly, one of my shelving units filled with books. My ambition is to get the pile just seen to he right hand side of the unit finished and put away. The pile has some mending, another incomplete textile book and my journal quilts, as well as some unfinished pieces. Hopefully it will not take too long.

New shelving in use
Ah well, back to the book. I hope to get the cover completed and attached today........

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A new workroom and some batik.

Work in progress - door installed, radiator to be moved.

Work in progress, showing my mirror fronted storage.

The window as it was.

An almost tidy workspace.

Yes, I can extend into the garden!
My workroom is now usable again. I just need curtains, but that can wait. You can see one of my storage units in the bottom of this collection of photos. These look like a series of boxes, but act as my bookshelves too. They are also on lockable castors, so can be moved around easily giving me extra worktop space!

Last week I was able to go to a batik workshop and made the following three pieces - all have only one colour this time, but I intend to overprint these at some stage. Two were made using soya wax and the first was using paraffin wax. I just wanted to see what the difference was.

Batik using paraffin wax.

Batik using soya wax.

Batik using soya wax and stretched across a frame.
I must admit that I preferred using the paraffin wax since I found it easier to use in the tjanting. The soya wax seems to be easier to iron out of the fabric. Each piece is waiting to be given a first wash before ironing again to remove more of the wax. I'll report back on how I get on.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Making a book and looking forward to changes.

MCAL in progress.
Over the past month I have been working steadily on my crochet piece. So far it is 30 inches long and almost 20 inches at the widest point. I am just about half way to completion, I think. This will make a useful shawl/wrap for chilly evenings around the house. It should also look quite nice on the back of one of the chairs. It started off as a Mystery Crochet-a-long, hence the "MCAL" in the photo caption. I will never gain any prizes for my crochet technique, but I am quite pleased with this and it is a really enjoyable alternative to knitting and is giving my achy elbow a much-needed rest.

I'm also busy with a textile book at present, but apart from letting you know it is being prepared for a show and tell display to take place in October, I really can't divulge more. Photos of the book will come after that meeting in mid October.

Apart from this, I have to start planning a move in my workroom. In a few days time I will be having a new door fitted and it will mean tidying my room and making space for workmen.................. eeeeeek! No matter, the resulting door will be well worth all the effort of sorting out my muddle of a room. But, if you are reading this, do wish me luck. My main concern for the moment is finding somewhere safe for my sewing machines to keep them away from the dust which is bound to invade my space. I can always wash my fabric collection. Special fabrics are already in boxes with fitted lids. I shall not bore you with more, but photos will be taken of the work in progress and also once it is all finished.

I nearly forgot. There has been a lot of sewing going on too. I managed to get the next four of my journal quilts uploaded in time, so I can now continue the project until the end of the year. Such a relief since I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get the stitching finished in time. The first of these you may have already seen.

May - a journey to Prague was the inspiration here. 

 The purple wristband is my identification tag from the Prague Patchwork Meeting in Prague which took place in April. The background is a print, on silk, of one of the tourist maps form our trip.

June - a continuation of the map sequence.

July - another of the sequence of maps.

August - walking with Ella. 

This piece shows my dog, Ella, wearing her doggie back pack on one of our walks. It holds her water bottles, treats and bowl in one pannier while the other holds a flask of coffee for me. The Blue Bridge carries a dual carriageway over the River Weaver. The paths beneath the bridge are a favourite with the local dogwalkers, joggers and cyclists. The river is busy too with a wealth of wildlife, wildflowers and trees along this length. It is a haunt for the local fishermen and women, canoeists, as well as the boaters who travel through.

The 12 journal quilts - work in progress.

This photograph shows a mockup of how most of the year's journal quilts will look. I need to start work on the September journal quilt, before completing the remaining two map sections. I am undecided about the last JQ. It will probably show some of the local trains. The background to September will show the river and boats. The main issue is, do I start work on September before sorting out my workroom, or do I wait until the dust has literally settled and my room is clean once more. Can anyone advise me?