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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Completed items and work in progress

Completed aran waistcoat
This past week has been quite busy. I finished the waistcoat and have been wearing it around the house. Nice and cosy.I decided to start a second one. This pattern is another one I have had for some time. Since the 1990's, I think.

The next project - a shaped waistcoat
I am knitting this in a deep sage green green. The shaped bottom of the fronts is what attracts me most. The cable pattern is proving to be quite challenging. I have resorted to writing out each line of the pattern so that I don't get muddled.

Completed shirt
I managed to get both of my shirts finished too. Both have been worn and are very comfortable and nicely warm for the wet and windy weather we are currently experiencing. I now have five shirts to this same pattern. One of them is fitted whereas the rest are not. I like both versions of the pattern, but am especially grateful that I remembered to add the extra couple of inches to the length of both the sleeve pattern piece and also that for the body. This makes all the difference.

Another completed shirt
I haven't progressed any further with the quilt this week, working on other projects which I cannot show you at present.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sewing continues.

Completed pin cushion in use.
The past few days have seen my workroom busy with different sewing projects. The first to be completed was this pin cushion which I showed in my last post. This now houses my fine glass headed pins. So useful for my current project - the shirt which I shall show you later. 
Alternative layout 1
There have been a few developments with the quilt. I have been thinking again about the layout since I wasn't happy with the first one. So I played around with the pieces, shown below.

The collection of pieces

Until I tried turning the elements "on point". I think I prefer the second option, but will live with the idea for a few days before starting to cut up the black. I did toy with using the blue shown here as the background, but it all looked rather too bright. Definitely an assault on the eyes.
Alternative layout 2

So this is currently the preferred option. Will I change my mind yet again? Probably.

The completed pinafore dress
There was another completed project. I finished my pinafore dress, adding pockets into the side seams. Rather a comfy, warm dress. I shall try the design again as a long sleeved top using the 
dress shown to the right of the pattern. It should work well as a top. I rather fancy a warm brushed fabric.

The pinafore dress pattern.
I have already mentioned the project I am currently working on. This is the almost completed shirt I had cut out last week. The hem is pinned and ready to be sewn. Then the buttonholes. The fabric is a liberty-style cotton.

The red shirt
On Friday I went to visit some friends. We had been working on a Round Robin during the past few months and we finally got our own pieces back. This is mine. The background is a felted woollen woven fabric. The challenge now is to get our pieces completed for our next meeting in February.

Round Robin
I rather fancy turning this into a vase-like holder for some of my collection of large brushes. I haven't made anything like thatbefore, so it should prove rather interesting.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Is it possible to have too many projects on the go at once?

Freshly printed fabrics - own dyed cottons.
Spent a very pleasant couple of hours or so yesterday printing these fabrics. I started out just getting some ready to add to a quilt I am putting together. As usual, didn't know when to stop. These are mostly commercial thermofax prints. The floral design is a lovely wooden block which I bought from Art Van Go.
Quilt pieces placed before stitching starts
The photo above shows the quilt I am currently working on - most of the fabrics shown above are from Tracy Fox, The plain black, red and cream are from Ikea. The funny little "aliens" are my own dyed fabrics cut out and ready to be bondawebbed in place. The working title for this one is "African Crosses". The shapes come from a workshop I went to back in 2010 with Magie Relph. She had brought some gorgeous Tuareg and Ethiopean crosses for us to sketch. Such a delightful day spent in good company. I intend to use some of the engraved detail as inspiration for the quilting.

Did I say that there were a number of projects on the go at once? I have also cut out three dressmaking projects. The first will be this pinafore dress.

Vintage pattern from 1983

Pinafore dress waiting to be assembled
The other two projects use the same pattern - Hotpatterns HP 1052 Classix Nouveau Great White Shirt. I last made this design here. Sadly, the pattern now seems to be out of print.

Another Hotpatterns shirt - this time using some Liberty-type fabric.

Yet another Hotpatterns shirt - using up some chambray.
I use the three shirts I have already made such a lot. Such a very useful, classic, shape. You can see my first two attempts here and here.

A ribbon weaving sample waiting to be made up into a pin cushion.
This is one of those UFOs which should have been finished ages ago. I need an extra pincushion too! All I need to do is to stitch around where I have already marked and stuff it. So silly not to have finished it already.

My current knitting project - a waistcoat.
Lastly, I have made a start on the cabled waistcoat I mentioned last time. I'm not altogether sure I have enough yarn, so I'm hoping #I have enough. If not, I may have to redo the back without the cables. We shall see. I am enjoying knitting cables for a change.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Back knitting, and planning some sewing

My talk went down well last week. You can read a review of it here. They were all very kind and really enjoyed being able to handle all the quilts I had brought with me. It was good fun, even though I was really nervous to begin with.

Double knitting hat under way
Well, I have started knitting again. My hat will use up much of the yarn left over from my recently completed double knitting jumper.
Aran yarn purchased this morning
Going into Aldi this morning, I was rather tempted by these two aran yarns. I only bought one of each since I wanted to make waistcoats rather than jumpers. The trouble is, I really can't choose which one to start first and which colour to use for each design. Both patterns date from the 1970's and early 1980's. I first made the Wendy pattern around 1980 or so. I gave it away some years ago and have really missed having it around.
An old pattern from my collection
The second pattern was a lucky find in a charity shop. 

It is inside this rather lovely book:

A pattern book dating from 1979
There are some rather nice patterns which I will find myself making over the next couple of years.

I am also planning some dressmaking sessions since I really could do with some more skirts, pinafore dresses and culottes as well as shirts.

Dressmaking projects waiting to be cut out.
My only problem is that I could really do with getting some quilting done too, making books and ...... No, I won't bore you with the list. I really ought to get organised and just start.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Quilting, more quilting and a little knitting.

Newly completed round necked jumper
It is quite a shock to realise that, even though the last couple of weeks have been too busy for me even to attempt a post here, there is little textile-related to show for it.
I have finished the jumper I showed last time and it is every bit as cosy as I could have hoped. Just what I needed in my wardrobe. Unusually for me I haven't immediately started anything else.

Pauline's quilt before binding

Instead, I have been working on this. You may have seen the photo in the last post. As you can see there has been a lot of free machine quilting done since the last photo was taken. I marked the centre block out in a grid before starting the design - a mix of five flowers surrounded by leaves. Each of the triangles of the flying geese border contains a small flower and two leaves. I hasten to add that the marking out was done in soap rather than chalk. I find it washes out rather better than chalk especially on dark fabrics like this.

Completed quilt.
I was rather pleased with the way the binding turned out. For the first time I used a bias binding strip. Unusually, I have quite a lot of black fabric in my stash due to a rash fabric purchase in Ikea some time back. As a result the binding lay beautifully and I got the mitred corners just as I hoped. How rare is that? I also machined the binding in place rather than hand stitching the back. This was mainly due to the fact that this will be owned by a young child. It all work so well. I must try this type of binding again, ensuring I have enough fabric to get it done properly.

Next week, next Tuesday in fact, I am giving a talk at a local textile group. Their blog can been seen here. I'm getting a little nervous.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Knitting and sewing, but no crochet.

Grey wool skirt
It has been rather busy here.  In the past week I have finished two fully lined skirts using two vintage patterns in my collection. Both date from the 1980s.

Tweed pencil skirt
I was in need of some warmer skirts for the cooler weather. I also completed a v-neck jumper which I am wearing as I write this. Nice and cosy.

Simple 4ply v-neck jumper - stocking stitch

Simple double knitting round neck jumper
I then promptly started another jumper. This one is double knitting and so will knit up rather quicker than the previous jumper.

It was a rather strange day on Friday since I was asked to help out in completing a quilt. It had all been pieced and had been layered, but not quilted. I took the layers apart and washed the top and bottom before adding a further strip of black fabric all round the back layer. This had been a little too small for me to successfully quilt the whole thing. As you can see, I have pinned everything back together and am basting the layers before starting to quilt. Since the centre is a rather large area of red patterned fabric, I am toying with the idea of quilting flowers all over it rather than a simple grid. It would be rather more interesting to work on.

The quilt I have been asked to complete.
Pinning this all together made my remember a UFO which has been sitting around for rather a long time. It started out as a mystery quilt challenge from The Quilters' Guild here in the UK. I really can't remember how many years ago that was, but it was some time back. I had pieced a back for it, but couldn't successfully find any way of quilting it. I've since removed the back, and will use that for a cushion cover, with the extra fabric used as binding for this quilt.

I'm now backing it with a dragonfly patterned fleece fabric, so it should be a really cosy lap quilt once completed.

UFO being pinned to the fleece backing
I haven't though about how to quilt this, but will probably just follow the geometric pattern lines since it is really quite fussy.

Did I mention that Friday was a rather strange day? The much loved Peter Rabbit arrived, needing some serious TLC - ears and legs, and an arm needing to be sewn back and strengthened. I had offered to do this some time ago when asked by a neighbour. Since her grand daughter is currently staying and had helped deliver the rabbit to my door, he got mended very quickly and has now been returned.

A mended Peter Rabbit