Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Knitted Fellting

Of course I realise I'm typing my posts back to front again! Never mind, if you really want to read it in order, skip down to the first of today's posts and read backwards!

Yesterday I thought I'd have a go at felting a piece of knitting. I've never done this before (well not with intention! I have in the past "felted" hubby's woolly sweaters but that was accidental!!) and I found in my stash a ball of Rowan "Country" which I duly knitted up in st st - see pic below - before measuring it and flinging it in a 60deg wash this morning.

Well its worked! its certainly shrunk and its changed from being a soft knitted pliable piece to a rather thick and solid piece. Interesting to see how it came out! I've no idea if this IS felted or whether its just "shrunk". I might seek 2nd opinion before I start flinging beads and stitching at it but definitely this is the easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy way of getting a piece of felted material to work from.

My Felting Experiments

To be honest, I think my experiments with felting are rather more at the pre-felt stage than proper finished "felting" however it was a couple of hours of fun working on the set I did yesterday:
This sample has come out quite nicely in that its quite solid and well meshed and is a mixture of wool tops and teased "wool". Possibly its lack of experience and partly lack of commitment on my part with the sheer hard work of rolling that stops me from enjoying this aspect of the course but I plan to explore further machine needle punching/felting and might look at buying a hand needle set too.

This is another piece quite similar to above and unfortunately the photo's of the other pieces have not turned out terribly well due mostly to the way I took the shots (in front of sunny window in my work room!)

The piece I'm most pleased with is this! above is the piece originally which you can't really see from the poor shot but is a nice mix of two colours of roving in a buttermilk and soft yellowy green mixed together.
Below is a terrible shot I know! of the finished piece where I'd folded it in half and rotary cut it to square it before stitching blanket stitch around the outside and adding a heart shaped pearl button (from knitterbabes) and I've run some simple running stitch around the outside shape of the button about three times to echo the shape and you'll have to trust me when I say its simple but NICE!!

Now I did want to DO "a piece" and after agonising for half an hour on quite WHAT to do and HOW to do it, this sort of evolved! I did plan it in that I had vague thoughts of a water/sea based piece but I'm actually quite pleased with it because it IS all original idea and just sort of came together quite the way I had in my head (there was a horrid moment before I added the stitching where I thought WHAT am I doing! and nearly looked in the directory for a course in flower arranging or sugar craft instead!!)

Anyway there are bits of simple stitching and a couple of tiny pearls and piece of ricrac and this will be transferred to my work book in due course.

Creative Textiles - week 12

Sorry I've forgotten, temporarily, what week we're on! I'll edit the title later when I'm thinking straight!

This week we continued the theme of Felt which was unfortunate, as I'd apparently misheard and THOUGHT we were doing free machine stitching on solubles! I wasn't the only one to have misunderstood but I was the only one without my "felting gear"!

Never mind, luckily I'd taken along my knitting and managed to add another few rows to that and of course time is never wasted when talking creative textiles!!
Lots of show'n'tells this week from friends on the course showing off their further samples in felting and we had interesting ones with fibres meshed you wouldn't have thought of!!First prize for madness I mean original thought! has to go to Kim with her "hair of the dog" which was quite literally dog fur from her Mother's Jack Russell!!

The felting technique this week for us to try was grid work.
I'm still not entirely convinced.
But everyone else seemed enthusiastic and certainly some of the effects were rather interesting!
I have got some bits and pieces and have promised to do a grid and further samples of wet felting at home after reassurance that SMALL samples would be perfectly adequate!

Layers of horizontal and then vertical pencil thin strips of roving (or other woollen matter) are laid on the towel, bubble wrap as before, and pieces of interesting matter which might be fabric such as silk or could be fibres such as mohair, silk cocoon etc are inserted into the open areas of the grid before a piece of netting is covered atop and soaked in the soap solution before the felting procedure is applied.

Sketch Book : colour

At College our tutor shared with us her ideas and sketchbook of "colour" and I thought it a good idea to do something similar.
I have started cutting out pieces mostly from my craft magazines and arranged them in colour suites, I've not, however, tried to get every shade and variance of colour, rather I'm flinging together what I "like" or find interesting (actually the red page isn't a terribly good example as actually there isn't much I like I find interesting on this page mostly because it was page ONE!!)
However, you get the drift?

My pinks and purples pages are nice (sorry, forgot to crop the photo!) and I am including textures, patterns and general ideas - eg embroidery so its not just about "colour"and will hopefully be a useful book to ME!

Spookily! and by sheer coincidence! the book happens to be the exact size for my large piece of crazy patch and is now, as you can see, covering it rather beautifully I think!!

Colour is an area I want to explore further as its somewhere I don't "go" very often!!

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Bit of an experiment!

Thought I'd have a go today at free machine stitching over enclosed bits of the wispy wool we felted chopped up leftovers of the pre-felt - sandwiched between two layers of soluble stabiliserI added novelty threads from the balls of yarn that came from the Linton Tweed stall at a sewing show several years ago and which at the time seemed like a good thing to exchange a tenner for a large bag of!!

The light's not terribly good, you can just see that I've managed to stitch randomly over the whole hooped area using a varigated embroidery thread on top and emb. bobbin under.

The colour is rather deeper in this shot however this is the sample piece after a good dunking in hot water and a squeeze dry on a towel! Its quite stable, perhaps a few wispy bits working a little loose in place but overall intact!

Inspired by this, I decided to have another go. Rather less successfully on this sample the yarn kept getting dragged under the plate - I had hoped it was just in parts, but after a few mins I gave up and will rehoop it chopped up like the first one!

Crazy Patch Sampler Update

Finished sample of crazy patch with my newly learned hand embroidery stitches exposed for all to see :-

I tried to use different threads, beads, trims, ric-rac, shisha mirrors and ribbons as this will sit in my work book and look like I've achieved something!
Really thrilled with it, think it looks lovely and feel insired to do something a bit more meaningful with my next project!

Knitting update and more bargains!

The Vneck tunic from Classic am/pm is knitting up nicely, I find I have to be careful though with some stitches splitting - my bamboo needles are a bit flakey on the ends and I'm loathe to file them too much as I'm certain of affecting their overall size! I'm onto the st.st portion now on 4mm's which means I ought to be able to sit and knit and have a half decent conversation with the family or concentrate on the plot if watching a film on tv without having to shriek at everyone to STOP! .. BE QUIET! .. while I retrace my steps and reknit a "pattern" sequence!

We've started going to a nearby shopping high street on a Saturday to get our meat from local butchers and while dh popped into the building society I found myself in one of the many charity shops and came OUT with :

1 small bag of assorted threads for 0.20p

AND .. one Debbie Bliss "Alpaca Silk" knitting book for £2!

I nearly didn't see it but there it was! on the shelf! The assistant clearly hadn't seen it either! I handed it over and see exclaimed a bit about how she HADN'T seen it and muttered about no price (which was inside the front cover as I pointed out to her) and I thrust my £2 at her when she said "can I have a LOOK please?" "of course!" I said "AFTER you take my MONEY!" ;-)

Of course dh was resigned to this, the whole family are used by now to my sudden diving off the pavement hurtling into a shop and coming out with crafty stuff, in fact my sons now try to scan ahead in order to divert my attention but I'm too quick for them!!

I've finished (bar the actual finishing) my sample piece of crazy patchwork for the creative textiles course and it looks rather lovely!

My brother's partner, Pete, has VERY kindly offered me his i-pod no.1. having upgraded and having no further use of it and bought me a new battery for it and I'm now ready to go and explore downloading and listening to knitting podcasts (and music!) while I'm sat at home!

I tried to persuade my youngest son who has a rather posh i-pod to let me borrow it to try it out before actually buying one, however he refused saying he didn't want any "knitting" talking OR my music on HIS ipod - thanks VERY much .. and I was advised to get my own! He has, however, promised to give me a lesson on how to use it and I'm hoping he'll get over his reluctance to scan the web for crafty stuff otherwise I could find myself turning somewhat "emo" with it all ..

Our eldest son, who will be 15yrs shortly, went into the local town with three friends to see a film. I had wondered whether they'd get in as it was certified as "15" and when they returned, it appears they were challenged and had to settle to see Alvin and the Chipmunks instead .. (he said later he'd quite enjoyed it! which makes me pleased he didn't get into see the horror film he'd wanted to watch!!).

Well I've packed a lot into this update post, mostly because my other brother called round on Friday and did something (actually he says he didn't! but he must have, he's just not admitting to it!!)to our pcand we now cannot access all websites, emails and of course I can't get in to my blog! I've been given 15mins on the lads' computer and as they are timing me I have to be grateful I can touch type with some speed!! As my brother is off travelling for 2months next week, we could be in for a lot of pushing and shoving and undignified behaviour - particularly at the weekends - as we all fight to access the last remaining fully operational pc!!

Friday, 25 January 2008

More Notions and Yarn!

Today I had to visit the Town to get some creme for my son's dry skin patches on his elbows which I can only (apparently) get from this particular chemists and as one of my brother's works IN the town I arranged to meet with him for a coffee in local Borders (dangerous as I nearly came out with three books - at LEAST!)

INSTEAD, however, I came away with this lot:-
A paper trimmer
Three packs of floral embellishy bits that I might find useful reduced from 0.75p to 0.30p each.

AND ..
you want me to spell it out?
okay ..
I confess I also came away with a bag of YUMMY Rowan Classic Alpaca Soft in delicious soft shade of 261 .. sigh .. TEN balls of yarn knocked down from £52.50 to just £20.00 - I had to have it?

Tonight my second (youngest) brother, David, is coming round with some pc/gaming bits and pieces and to tell us all about the "round the world" trip he's apparently now booked to go off on with his best pal and HIS gf which is sudden owing to the fact that David has rather suddenly split with HIS gf - Beckie - and I've assured him he'll get a damn good grilling about WHY this has happened too ..
Beckie moved out on Saturday last week and I was able to catch her on the phone just as she prepared to drive off for her new life and wish her well for her future and express how sad we are that she's going.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Threading Fine Needles

Threading the fine beading needles in order to continue work on my crazy patch took me several mins to FIND the thread never mind the eye of the needle and I have to confess to wearing both GLASSES and using MAGIFYER at one point (I'm using the clear monofilament and now know why they call it "invisible thread"!)

In the photo below you can see the even FINER needles that were used by my Late Mother in her jewellery and stringing of pearls that were threaded not with one length of thread, but two. It was her party-piece to carry around with her a pack of said needles, cut a length of thread and invite anyone to thread it either themselves or with any gadget such as needle threaders - and then after they failed (which was inevitable!) she'd THEN thread it doubled - SEW practiced at this she didn't need her glasses even, what is remarkable is that she was half blind with eye cancer at the time!

Below are the final needles still sitting in the pin cushion in a tray that Mum was working with up until she died, still threaded except for 4 and I've often tried to thread just one just once!

HAPPILY my beading needle is rather easier to thread and I spent an hour sewing on some shisha mirrors and accompanying them with embroidery before adding some beads and sequins too!

I'm particularly pleased with the ruched ribbony bit it looks far better than in the photograph, in fact the pictures don't look particularly good on this bright morning and I wonder whether the light has anything to do with it?

Scary moment when Bertie jumped up to my crowded work top to investigate and I just managed to swipe from HIM the upended top containing handful of TINY beads as HE swiped a paw around it sending it flying across the table, to punish me for the shove to the shoulder he then made off with three skeins of embroidery silk across the landing! (I've put him outside in the garden for now and I expect he'll do something awful later to punish me for that like muddy pawprints ..)

Nostalgic Moments!

Some of the accessories from my late Grandmother's old Singer sewing machine which lives tucked away in the loft! Had a tidy up of my "memory & celebration of friendship" shelf and thought I'd share some of the things I keep up there. Interesting some of the feet, the little labels attached are barely readable as the ink has faded but she's written remarks such as "for tucks"!

A lot of things live in a tin I bought a few years ago from Cotton Patch, I quite like it as Singer Machine Co., figured quite a lot in my late Grandmother and Mother's sewing lives (along with lots of other folk!). Its a bit modern, but a nice tin all the same!

Here is the original agreement taken out in 1909 by my great grandad on behalf of his wife, my great grandma, Ada. Inside are the stamps to indicate the amount paid each week which seem to vary, presumably by how much they could afford each week!

Inside each cover you can see above and below some important notes such as :

"you cannot expect to get the best stitching results from your sewing machine if it is fitted with an inferior needle" ! "If you purchase any other than SINGER NEEDLES for your machine you experience constant trouble and annoyance" ! (this last in red and uppercase just to get the message across!).

I love it that they add:
"There are Singer Shops in every town in every country for supplying needles, parts, oil etc. A post card addressed to Singer Sewing Machine Co., Ltd in any town will receive prompt attention" !

"BAD OIL does not last as long as good oil, and therefore is really dearer" !!

Winning Moments

.. winning trophy! THE winning trophy above has come to our house for the last 6months of the year since Les and his tennis mixed doubles partner won the competition last year. Its rather huge and we're not sure where to put it. Les has won it twice and has his name engraved however they made a mistake this time and put the year of winning as 2006 and not 2007! Not bad for 61yrs as he WAS when he won!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

I'm exhausted now after getting down ALL of my large plastic containers with lids and sorting out the general haby to reduce it down to give me spares for the novelty yarns and also my small needleworking project notions such as the yummy SCRUMMY beads I purchased this week and fabulous clearance price!

Here you can see that Bertie has inspected and gives his approval - I caught him up to his shoulders in my knitting bag about to climb IN and after he chewed a bit on my embroidery silks and tried to make off with my mouse pin cushion I shooed him out of the sewing room - he's now sulking somewhere on the upstairs landing trying to pretend like he's been kicked out of his home and all hard done by!

Generally tidied the sewing room but since I've recently reorganised my quilting stash of fabrics and lingerie bits and pieces there isn't really any other way I can improve things without actually USING them up! I'd better hope for an early retirement, I've certainly got enough on the go to see me out ..

Big problem are my magazines! I've managed to grow another enormous stash of assorted mags but they are too recent to throw out like the last lot but take up such a lot of my space in the small box room that is my sewing room - I may have to be brave about it ..

Packed my bags! and Cleared out!

no. wait! I mean I've cleared UP! (thats incase the family should start getting hopeful!)

I finally decided to do something about my WIP's UFO's and sort them all out and get into a proper state of management with those projects I've put down awhile.
Everything is now bagged along with its pattern and needles if I've started it or intend to start it and I plan to sit down for an hour or two and go through each bag and write out at what stage I'm at and look at the pattern with a view to picking the project up again and ENJOYING it as once I presumably did enough to want to START IT!

Above are all my bagged projects.
Below is the lovely bag that my good cyber-sew-pal Carol made for me as a gift when we very nearly thought she and her husband were coming over last year and SEW far its done an excellent job holding all my stash and projects but I decided to use THIS as my main "this is what I'm currently working on bag" as it seemed a shame to leave it as storage not a working bag!

You can see inside the bag it has zillions of handy sized pockets and spaces for needles and patterns and tape measures etc - IN the bag is the lovely V-neck tunic from Classic am/pm in Rowan Alpaca dk and my jitterbug sock.2 which is almost complete sitting inside the handy if cheap looking plastic bag gift with old copy of knitting magazine!

The rest of the bagged projects are divided between larger carry bags that are not as posh as my knitting bag but big enough to hold all the projects that are queued but not started, and those that are WIP's sew-to-speak.
I've put sock yarn all together in one bag, and odd but full balls of yarn in another; left overs that I sort of feel I can't bear to part with and ever hopeful they'll come in useful are in a last smaller bag.

Finally I put all the novelty yarns and balls of stuff that came from Linton Tweed at various sewing shows in containers on top shelf in my sewing room. Left the pic a little wide in order to point out the clock that one of my son's made for me a year or so ago ..

I feel much more organised, now all I need to do is find ROOM to house all my "bags" and then the next task with be to start uploading my books and needles and stash onto Ravelry which I started yesterday and might add to later on.

The V-neck tunic is coming along nicely, I'm about halfway through the back rib and looking forward to getting onto larger pins and st-st! I think part of the reason I got fedup with the sideways jacket and the bolero is that they are BOTH knitted all in one and BOTH in rib! there just wasn't a break or variety.
I am reassured that though my sideways knit stripe jacket appears SMALL in length, Lisa who has knitted it, assures me that a damn good pressing with an iron will stretch it to FIT and duly turned up wearing hers and looking glamourous which has inspired me to revisit the project and I'll try and pick it up and proceed while its still COLD enough to wear!

The bolero I've discovered is missing the entire BACK of this all in one rather complicated (and boring! zzz) pattern and thats been flung aside for now. Ann assures me her daughter did finish hers and that it is possible to work it out if I just stop screeching and heaving into cushions and just GET ON WITH IT .. she's offered to help me out should I find myself unable to stop the screeching and heaving ..

I MUST must MUST do more to the Kiri project, not least because it WAS afterall, my college first term project - I have put this in the lovely knitting bag with the intention of sitting down for an hour in the day while family are out at school/work ..

My no.2.sock in the Jitterbug is so close to being complete I'd be mad to not just grit my teeth and compare it to sock.1 and just get ON WITH IT

EVERYTHING ELSE is set aside and will not be looked at until I'm able to commit to a further project even though I'm tempted to start "Martha" (and the bamboo tape.. )

Monday, 21 January 2008

Creative Textiles Course : week 11

Today was a mix of show'n'tell on our achievements and projects undertaken in felting and a discussion on organising and planning sketch books before we had an opportunity to look at and feel some different fibres for adding to such projects as might be felted.

Interesting to see how many lovely projects and how different they each were from other ladies in the group, I rather fear mine is the least creative! and I think I might have to settle for it being a sketchbook sample!! Seeing the embroidered and beaded work where a mix was combined to create an overall effect made me feel more enthusiastic to explore these and I continue to work on my sampler trying out different stitches and one reason I went mad and bought SEW many beads today was because I do think this will add something to my own work (and I still want to do a proper knitted beading project!)

I think we're close to needing to choose a final project for the year and I'm mindful that I've not finished my mini project - Kiri yet!

Should I do? (Martha OR the bag?)

hmm. Decisions. Should I DO the Rowan felted tweed "bag" from the knitting magazine as blogged earlier with my bargain purchase of 4xballs? OR should I DO "Martha" from Studio 2 and buy the additional two balls which I've got squirrelled away just in case .. ?
I've seen "Martha" and quite like the look of it, however the colour isn't what I'd have chosen, necessarily, for a garment although it lends itself well to the "bag" ..
Meanwhile I've started on the V-neck tunic from Am-Pm classic Rowan using the baby alpaca ..

(my children have picked up on the fact that I've got TWO garments and one pair of socks and ONE shawl still OTN's in my work basket and did some teeth sucking and make pointed remarks and veiled threats to "tell DAD!" .. I let them stop up extra late tonight to watch a HP film and they've promised to keep quiet about the two bags sneaked in AND the newly started kniting project ..)

all THIS and change from £20 too!

In preparation for the new Coates concession, the "old" haby has to go! Some real bargains to be had! I was thrilled with my purchase last week with 70% reduction off the selling price, but this week they added an additional 50% TO the 70% thus making it (almost) FREE!!

I had all of the above haby items including TWELVE balls of Rowan bamboo tape and studio booklet for LESS than £20! Lots of "regulars" were instore stocking up, a lady from quilting club and a "sewing" lady .. we all picked up bargains I won the *prize* for cheapest item - a pack of floral trims for £0.04p!! My burda tissue paper cost just £0.22p! and best of all my 12 rowan bamboo cost me £8.50!!

THAT ought to see me through to retirement! In amongst the useful haby, I also bought several tubes of beads as I plan to get into beading and at that sort of reduction I can't go wrong!! Picked up a pair of bamboo knitting needles and a crochet hook and several packs of assorted elastics, petershams and shoulder strapping too ..

I could set up shop myself with my new stash ..

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Creative Embellishing!

Above are a few pieces of "fabric" I've created some heart shapes from using the Janome Embelliser - I am considering buying one of these but don't really know what to do best to make the most of it creatively wise! I plan to add some free machine stitching atop and some beads and perhaps some other bits and pieces too to embellish further! - this is stage I in the proceedings!

When my good friend Debs suggested I lookat the Bernina blog and see some beading done by machine I just had to have a go! The light is not terribly good and the shot rather poor, but you can just make out the little cluster of beads sewn with monofilament thread top and bobbin thread under and (rather scarily!) NO presser foot! I did this sample with my colleague and only JUST remembered about the tiny needle required as I pressed the NEEDLE DOWN button! we had a bit of a funny moment when it all went upwards and beads flew past our noses at high speed - note to the cautious - WEAR GLASSES or at least keep your eyes out of the way!
Anyway it was fun to do and nice to see how it works but I think I'll stick with sewing on tediously by hand in future as it is at least, less PAINFUL!

Finally! my crazy patch is just about complete in terms of stitching! I'm really quite pleased about how its turned out and its interested me sufficiently to know that I need to explore this method of sewing rather more to get the best from it! I have been helped enormously by reading the blogs and lessons on stitches from Annie's Crazy World and her website in particular!
From there I found the marvellous Sharon B's stitch dictionary which has loads of stitches and combinations and even I managed a few of them!

Happy Birthday!!

It was Les's birthday yesterday! We celebrated with a meal out at our local pub. Above are the cards I made for him - we don't "do" birthday gifts but he has a mind to buying himself a new snooker que!
Last week we went out for a meal at a newly refurbished local pub with my stepfather as we'd not really done much over the Christmas by way of getting together - rather pricey for what we got and service not that great - we did rather better at the "local" yesterday!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Hand Embroidery Stitches - sampler

The photo below shows some of the hand embroidery stitches I've had a go at on a sampler I am creating to try out this *new to me* form of stitchwork.

For these I used as reference the book I loaned from local library The Country Living Needlework Collection : Embroidery by Karen Elder. Its a nice book and has some lovely beginning ideas for use in crazy patch which is my reason for learning these stitches, however its not a book I'd rush out and buy!
Some of the stitches are less than satisfactory, not least because THIS particular book doesn't make it absolutely clear which way to stitch and its been a bit hit and miss as to where I aimed the needle and the angle achieved!!
Still I had fun doing it and it was FUN to see the lovely effects!

I had a go at putting these stitches onto my piece of crazy patch, I'm not sure if you can see all that clearly but when my camera is fully charged and I've done a few more seams I'll takesome further pictures.
I worry, slightly, that the toning threads don't stand out as much as perhaps they ought! but I am mindful that the project isn't complete yet and its always that much better when fully finished!

To complete my sampler I plan to refer next to another book also loaned from the library: Embroidery, Techniques & Patterns by Marie-Noelle Bayard, which, at least, has a better guide for newbies like me as well as a few more variations.

Its not as easy as you might think, but I can see myself becoming interested beyond a loaned book or two and expect I'll have to buy a good book as reference!