Thursday, 28 February 2008

Ravelry Fun Day!

and HOW to persuade the family they want a day trip out to Warwick ..

A Ravelry Fun Day - sounds .. FUN!

We've promised no.1.son a day out for his birthday but I'm not sure a knitty-day out will be popular!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Creative Textiles Course : week 11

Theme continued this week on COLOUR!
We're to have a break from all the writing next week and have a session working on knitted samples

I find colour personally rather hard to grasp, but, interestingly, talking to fellow student, Jackie, it sounds as though my disappointment with the dreaded quilt which has been long since abandoned and shoved into bag and forgotten about MIGHT be rather more down to disappointment with choice of colours and lack of complementaries rather than the pattern itself, or, indeed, the choice OF lilac shaded colour!
I've promised to look at it with fresh eyes to see if a zingy sashing could somehow revive interest in it!

Lots of blank pages I'm afraid in my sketchbooks on this weeks homework which has been a rather mind blowing set of exercises which suggest that one should dip into work basket and come out with a handful of pastels, brights and cools and intermingle them to come up with a fairisle cardigant!

Struggled my way through 2.5days worth of angst about whether this particular shade of purple was in fact belonging to red-violet OR blue before deciding it could jolly well go back into the work basket and perhaps I'd be better playing SAFE with red and green!

Below you can see I''ve managed to follow my colour wheel sufficiently to match up its complementary and splits, either side, but whether I shall be brave enough to try it with another less obvious colour scheme I don't know at this point!

Interesting article on colour in Quilting Arts magazine suggested that disappointment might not be with the COLOUR rather the tone of it, and suggested that one pull out all fabric swatches and make notes on those colours (or should that be hue?) tints, tones and shades and trot off to local quilty shop for further supplies in order to explore colour further .. spent half an hour using up most of notebook and calculated estimated cost of this exercise to be around £350 ..

Decided had less chance of convincing family of this that I would the Embellisher machine and the D.Bliss cashmere scarf put together so decided, instead, to work with what I could FIND!

Surprised myself with a/ finding all that I apparently needed IN my work baskets and b/ found myself ENJOYING myself sorting through and finding colours that I didn't know I had!

Having decided there is a definite theme going on in both my house and the wardrobe after I sat and realised that my entire upstairs (except lads' bedroom which is blue) is actually PURPLE. including the towels and, sadly, even the shower gel and loo cleaning bleach. In fact I've just realised th dining room is also blue. which makes me a mono-chromatic household? (or is that the black. grey, and white? doesn't matter. the WARDROBE is black, grey, white and navy!).

Have managed to do about 3 or 4 of the exercises and feel quite pleased that my book/homework is still up to date and that will have to do, for now!

PS: before I make a complete FOOL of myself, would anyone who knows care to tell me WHERE I'll find BROWN on the colour wheel? I'm blowed if I can find it as a colour and, irritatingly, I've got several shades of brown quilting cotton fabric and about 4 knitting yarns too - slightly concerned its either not an actual "colour" OR I've got a dodgy colourwheel?

NEC Sewing for Pleasure - 2008

NEC Sewing for Pleasure Show.
I'm looking forward to another day out at the show listed above with my very good sewing-pal, Ann, her daughter, Elizabeth, and two good friends June and Jean. We always go and mostly have a great time, staying until the very end and this time I've printed off a list of exhibitors to study in advance.

Hope to bump into other sewing and knitty friends there too!

Organised folder of information!

Spent the last fortnight completely and ruthlessly sorting through my mag stash and have now got it down to manageable size of one box worth (plus a pile scattered on bedroom floor which are next on the list!). To keep the contents tidy and sorted of useful articles and things to do and make and general inspirational yumminess I've sorted into about 5 folders. Takes up far less room than an actual magazine stash and should prove to be brilliant for those moments when I just KNOW I saw a cardi I fancied knitting from an old mag an blowed if I can remember how many balls of yarn I don't really need to buy as it'll never get knitted anyway ..

I'm tempted with the D.Bliss cashmere scarf you can just see atop the pile above, only it takes 5 skeins and even at half price thats £25 and I'm not sure the family will fall for the "bargain" side of it.

What I bought! (more quilty goodies)

Popped into local quilt shop for a colour-wheel for Creative Textiles course, and came out with huge bag that included:

Super magazines! BOGOF offer too, how could I say no? loved the Quilting Arts in particular articles of interest include colour themed ones! had to have it!!

While I make my mind up about whether I can arrange for delivery of new Embellisher machine on a day and time guaranteed to be no one else at home and find space for it without giving away any clues while hoping to disguise the payment details from joint account into somehow "household" expenses, decided to buy a cheapie hand needle kit!
Still not opened it! plan to try it out later this week!
Have NO idea what made me buy these! other than the fact that they were reduced from around a fiver each down to £1 each!
If anyone has used these stabilisers, could they kindly tell me HOW to use them as apparently there are no instructions! grr!!
  • Sulky Stitch Fabric - ideal for sportswear adhesive backed for precise positioning - have NO idea how this works! its a rather bright royal blue too!
  • Two packs of Sulky prisma ideal for applique on outdoor clothing, sweatshirts and craft projects. One appears to be clear the other lilac striped - again NO idea how these work!

Knitting Progress (slow!)

The knitting is progressing very slowly at the moment, I'm far too distracted with bits of fabric but here is the back on the V neck tunic from the Rowan Classic am/pm book nearing the end, thankfully! Its starting to feel quite heavy on my lap, but then again I could be just being a bit FEEBLE?

Its a bit dull. and with all the work we're doing on the Creative Textiles course on "colour" I'm starting to wish I'd gone for a zingy RED (except. I'd never wear it! and besides it wasn't marked down to half price!).

Distractions to the knitting also include the new summer books and yummy yarns - am starting to feel rather fond of the display of the new Rowan PureLife .. (don't ask about the sock! its still OTN's)

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Online knitty resources

Thanks to Make do andMend, I've found some lovely links including this one, The Inside Loop, which looks interesting not least its UK based! you can read more here.

Some crochet links to videos from Sharon B's wonderful In a Minute Ago blog too, which you can find here.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Creative Textiles

First week back after the half term break and a few ladies from our group missing meant it was a smallish session, but it looks like an interesting set of lessons to come this next term:

  • Colour theory - describing colour, hue, value and saturation
  • Colour theory - relationships, colour wheel, warm and cool schemes
  • Design sources for pattern - natural/organic, structural, planned and combination and project update for level I students (thats me!)
  • Designing with pattern - developing patterns within a chosen context and project update for the level II students
  • Texture - sources of inspiration and practice and another project update for level I

This week we looked at a basic introduction to colour "describing colour" (which I find personally difficult being as mostly my wardrobe is black, navy and grey and I go all hysterical at the thought OF colour) BUT we're going to work on samples this week to describe hues of one colour we've picked out and I think we're going to do a lot of squinting through narrowed eyes at black and white pictures of previously coloured pictures!

I'm looking forward to this section and hoping too, that the design elements will also help me in understanding how things go together and with luck it will be in time for our main project piece which is going to be upon us very shortly!!

As we near the end of this lovely course some of us are starting to think about next year and the prospect of whether we'll be able to stay together for another year's tuition and at the moment, at least, its a bit in the air! We think that the level I students are slightly safer however it will then come down to numbers! are there enough to make a class viable! Its such a shame when a cloud of doubt like this hangs over us and I just wish more folk would sign up for these courses to guarantee their continuing but the colleges don't always make them easy to!

With our refreshment facilities cut down to "bring your own" and the lack of parking and a rather cold building (not helped by the mice!) it doesn't present itself as being wildly attractive, I don't suppose!

For next week I've chosen pink (no surprises there, then!) as my colour and I've decided to do some small knitting and mini patchwork samples for our homework!

Out of the kitchen came (cake!)

Our 12yr old son asked could he cook for us during the half term and picked out some dishes he fancied and it fell to me to "assist" him on Sunday! (mostly I did all the washing up and any tricky bits he didn't fancy, but MOSTLY he did it all himself under supervision, of course, including handling the food processor and the hot oven!)

He made coleslaw which was very nice and even his brother decided it was nice! which accompanied an egg salad which we had for lunch. I was surprised he chose a salad dish as he doesn't do well, generally, with salad/veggies but he did a good job of eating enough of it to prevent my eyes narrowing and muttering about making more of an EFFORT PLEASE!

Cake cake CAKE! what can I say? it was glorious! yummy SCRUMMY and definitely went down a treat with the whole family! no surprise then that Matt declared the cake baking the best bit! We're not (aside from me!) great cake eaters in our house and if it were left to me I'd eat the lot myself so when Matt decided to make the rather luxurious version of a victoria sponge, I did rather fear/hope I'd cop for the lot!! He did a super job and it was quite nice to spend some time with him doing something he enjoyed of which we've not really done much since they outgrew the baking of gingerbread men etc when they were younger!)

For our dinner Matt roasted potatoes and prepared a pork chops with apple recipe which again was very popular and I think its inspired him to try cooking a bit more often and has asked could he cook us a meal by himself next time!

Well as everyone keeps pointing out, I'm not much good in the kitchen so if someone else fancies taking over, there'll be no opposition from me (especially if there is CAKE!)

Monday, 11 February 2008

Half Term catch up

Half term this week so no class today! my work books are all complete too so I really do have a week off!
My Rowan tunic is knitting up nicely although I'm finding the yarn isn't as pleasurable to knit with as I thought it might be due to tangling! (I know it doesn't help with the cats' interest but even SO I've had to cut off a huge tangled bit twice now to unpick/reuse later due to losing the will to knit in UNtangling it) I'm going to try taking the next end from outside the ball to see if that makes a difference.
My socks must be picked up this week! I am determined to finish it and start planning my next pair - Wednesday some of us are meeting for a knit'n'chat over a G&T after work, this will be an ideal project!
I'm inspired also, to try another felting project ..

Thursday, 7 February 2008

The Final Finished Felted Bag!

(sorry! I've mixed the order of posts again, you really should read the next one first!)

Using the recommended faux suede for the lining and handles was a bit much given the overall finished size of my bag is much smaller and I'm pleased I thought to use the sleeves to make two tubes turned right way round with my handy turning gadget which was USEFULLY as well as kindly sent to me years ago by my long time cyber stitching pal Butterfly! Though I don't use my turning tools often, when I do, there is something rather satisfying in seeing the tube turn without any effort right way out almost by itself!! I thought I'd struggle with these two materials but no, they turned easily!

Unfortunately possibly due to my getting over enthusastic about finishing for the 2nd time and my unpicking and attempting to insert both the new handles and the omitted button loop, it ended up going in off centre! Having unpicked it once already I wasn't feeling like doing so again and decided that as this is much smaller than I would use practically, I have left it and leave it to you to decide whether you'd have done same or unpicked again!!

The handles look nice and it is long enough for me to be able to hook it over my shoulder as I walk which is my preferred way of carrying bags!

By lucky chance! too! I happened to unpick the side of the bag that had the least amount of patterning detail and thus the "front" of the buttoned bag is more patterned which can be seen from the photo in the next post below where draft one has a less patterned "front" - given I was lucky I decided to forgive myself the error in button loop placement.

Finished sizes:

9" across the bag, a depth of 3" and the length a short 6" with handles measuring 24"

Its a great little project and I'd definitely do this again and I'd definitely add the pocket (omitted) and seek advice on more effective closure for security of contents too!

Recycled knitwear to bag - felted project

Using a pattern and instructions from Sewing World magazine, January 2007 issue, I rushed through the lengthy instructions to finish my recycled knitted jumper-to-bag because I just wanted to see it complete and couldn't imagine that it'd be any "good"!
which is a shame really, as I ended up having to unpick it and remake it altering the handle and adding the button loop and it stretched a little and I'm afraid my bag isn't the best it SHOULD have been had I just taken my time and worked a bit more carefully (and PRESSING!! as I sew!)
Never mind.
On this post is the first make of this bag:
The Pattern

Handles attached (back to front due to misunderstanding the instructions right sides uppermost and thinking they meant right sides together!) and bag and lining sewn together.

Starting to pull through the bag and the handle through an opening in the base of the lining

Scary moment as it all comes out through the opening in the lining but doesn't, at first, seem quite right!

And here it is! the finished bag!

I was quite pleased with it, and to be honest had I not made a glaring error in putting the handles on upside down (matters made worse in that I'd flung them under the machine and thus they weren't the best stitched!) AND made the handles rather too long for the eventual size of this bag which is considerably smaller than was obviously anticipated from the pattern instructions which call for the pattern to be enlarged 130%! (remember I used a ladies UK size 10 jumper) I'd not have bothered to unpick it all, however I'm glad I did as inspiration struck and I decided to replace the handles with felted "sleeves" instead of the strap from the faux suede lining and it makes the whole bag that much nicer and unique!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Shock & Distress! Part 1: the idea and plan!

Well it began last night with MY shock and distress! Having gone up to bed and settled down with HP and the goblet of fire and a cup of tea I heard one of the cats rush about dashing and thudding, squeaking and generally crashing about .. followed by guffaws and squeals of excitement from hubby!
Tried to ignore it as I imagined that dh was chasing the cat for whatever unknown reason and after several mins called down irritatedly to him to stop messing about with the cats and getting them over excited and didn't he REALISE there were people upstairs trying to read/sleep?
Minutes later he crashed into the bedroom (the cat, Bertie, I mean) followed closely by hubby who appeared to be hanging onto something which turned out to be one of my lovely balls of rowan alpaca!

You can see the state of the poor ball of yarn! Bertie had apparently got into my knitting bag, pulled out of the balls and entangled himself in it before panicking and racing about the house, dh was following him chasing after the rapidly unwinding ball as it went, apparently, round and through and over various obstacles before finally he tired and dropped on the landing upstairs STILL entangled in the yarn! hmmm the distress didn't end there! Moments later hubby appeared at the doorway with an armful of the yarn announcing that apparently LILLY was to blame as she'd apparently got INTO my knitting bag and was in the process of retrieving and dragging away ball by ball and WHERE did I want it putting? ..

On to more creative forms of shock and distress! After college yesterday I read in the above magazine "The World of Embroidery" July 1996, vol 47 an article on deconstructing the stitch! Not quite sure what it involved I was interested to read that quite effective results can be achieved from heavily stitching ones fabric before sealing the reverse with fusible interfacing and setting about the embroidery with scissors to slash and generally distort them to create "a worn appearance" whereby "The background fabric re-emerges in the cut areas and the result is similar to the piece of old Indian embroidery .."

The first step is to work several rows of stitches eg chain st closely together changing direction and using threads that blend or contrast before fusing and slashing, trimming and scraping!
They suggest leaving some stitches whole to give a threadbare look, however once started it is rather tempting to continue until all of the stitch is removed which is what happened in one or two areas which you'll see next post!!

Anyway, above is the article that I followed and a close up of the illustrated example - you'll have to try it to make your own mind up! I tried it and I've not fully made up my mind! but then I do have other things ON my mind such as the recycling felted knitted jumper project!!

A nice walk out to the local chemist found me bumping into a couple of neighbours, bit of a chat and gossip after discovering one of the assistants is also a near neighbour before finally the Pharmacist glared pointedly at us and we left before parting company Edna and I called into the next door "Sue Ryder" shop to select a suitable candidate for my proposed project!!

I predict an interesting day today!

Shock & Distress! Part 2 : Deconstructing Emb Stitches

Here is my first small sample to try out the suggested stitches for deconstructing and distressing embroidery to give an aged effect to the fabric. I have used a varity of stitches and colours and worked over a smallish area on some red and white cotton fabric.

The reverse side is fused with interfacing to trap the stitches after they are cut, slashed and hacked at!

And here's what I used! little scissors to start off with before going for the embroidery stitch remover (like a moustache trimmer - a gadget of my late Mother's for her machine embroidery mistakes) a large pair of scissors to use the back of the blade to rough up and generally distress the embroidery yarn and scrape off the excess as trimmed with medium scissors - I kept (sad isnt it?) all the little ball of fluff as I thought it might come in handy! (actually I think I was rather more impressed with that than the actual item!)

And here we see above and below two shots of the finished sample - below is after washing and scrubbing slightly to further distress it but not yet dried and ironed.

I enjoyed this, it took a while to embroider the stitches and seemed strange to then deliberately cut and slash at it however the effects are much nicer in reality than perhaps the photo's convey!

Shock & Distress! Part 3 : recycled felted knitwear

Well the final part of the shock and distress of yarn experiment today came in the form of a purchased from local charity shop ladies jumper in 80% lambswool/20% nylon in shades of cream and grey with hint of pinky lavender (doesn't look as pretty in the photo for some reason!).

I had it in mind to try out as per article in Sewing World magazine a recycled knitted jumper into a new trendy BAG! But first I had to find a suitable jumper! Most of them seemed to mostly acrylic and after nearly giving up my neighbour managed to find one - red while I found another in lovely lime green before deciding upon this multicoloured one! At £3.00 each I had to make my mind up and though I was tempted with the lime green, then the red, I decided to go with this one!
Here is it before I started shocking and distressing it! Vital measurements were recorded - a size 10 underarms around the garment measured 33", centre back length 20.5" and the sleeves 23" (cuffs in ribbing each 3").

It the washing machine at 60deg wash with two of hubby's tennis balls for added agitation (ha! that'll show him!) it went and I waited .. for 2.25hrs ! zzzz

And here it is! out of the washing machine and beginning to felt and shrink up nicely!
Measurements now are 28" across the garment at underarm, sleeves down to 18" in length and sadly I forgot to record the centre back length!

This is the shock and distress bit: I decided to plunge it (having cut off the cuffs which didnt appear to have shrunk OR felted) into a bowl of boiling water before plunging it into ice cold (filled with all the ice cubes that hubby obviously thought we'd need over the Christmas but which we didn't on account of nearly giving up drinking!!) TWICE!! the fabric did seem to shrink before my eyes and after another rinse and spin cycle in the machine I duly recorded my final measurements:

The garment now measures 26" across under the arms, and has a length of 13.5" while the sleeves have now shrunk to 15"! (note to self: a size 10 jumper may not be big enough for a large bag, better be prepared for a small purse!!)

Its now drying over the radiator and I'll prepare my pattern and steps to sew the bag on Thursday now as I'm working tomorrow!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Creative Textiles - week 13

Today we did mostly paperwork (zzzzz) filling in our learner's agreements and various handouts on health and safety and planning for projects, catching up on our sketch books and looking ahead to what we need to think about for our main piece of "work" that will be due around May time.

The centre was freeeezing cold this morning, I don't think they switch the heating on prior to our arrival and it didn't really warm through for the 2hrs we were there!

We looked at our grids and general felting samples undertaken with some lovely examples of this - I especially liked the black felted grid with strings of yarns across and also the green grid with all the lovely fibres in browns and black.

I was pleased that others, too, had experienced problems with getting their felt to "felt" and its generally thought that a bit of needle felting might be in order to complete the process - I'm not sure I'd want to actually wear a felted fibre gridded piece, but it looks rather nice in my sketch book!!

Our tutor, Sarah, brought along a rather nice felted bowl and described how it is made which sounded interesting and she's threatening to make us do one I mean offered to find time if we want to make one! next term!

Picked up some tips about adding boiling water to aid the felting process and also that care should be taken to buy fibres in small amounts and USE THEM - apparently stashing them and then finding they might be "dry" and not felting as well as they might could be disappointing!

We were invited to look through some old magazines and I brought home to read a copy of an embroidery magazine which had a lovely article in for "deconstructing" the embroidery stitch, when I get chance I might have a go at this - basically one would stitch rows of - for example - chain st, fly st or herringbone st, up and down quite close together and densely before sealing the reverse side of the work with fusing a piece of interfacing and then cutting, slashing and trimming closely before tufting the ends of the embroidery stitches in sections to generally "distress" areas. (I think I'd be quite distressed myself at cutting at the stitches but the accompanying photo's looked rather interesting and might be worth a go if only a small sample size!!).

I'm not sure yet what my project will be, I have a couple of ideas in my head however one of them is out due to the time constraint - TEN HOURS (only)!
(it can take me 2hrs to get started!) we have to account for both time and money spent on our finished piece and I'm hoping I can effect an overdraft facility by way of using from stash and loaning any credits to the "time" bank! (I could, given the size of my stash, offer a bribe and get twice as many hours! but then would I really want to to give away my stash?).

Gold star to me this week for being a complete prefect for filling IN my paperwork ahead of time and in lots of detail too!!
(having had a fortnight at home I had lots of time to catch up and it was one of my goals for the time home to get my coursework up to date but never the less, was pleased to have done it all ahead of time as now I can try out a few more "things"!!).

(Slightly worried about the Kiri project. This hasn't got any further beyond going UPSTAIRS to sewing room to be bagged and then coming back DOWNSTAIRS to be worked on. MUST check if this needs to be completed also, by May, if sew I might need to switch to flower arranging double quick!!).

Saturday, 2 February 2008

My felted grids

Here you can see I've laid a grid of wool tops and set inside the grid a variety of fibres including a piece of silk and some ofYoshimi's lovely yarn which I crocheted into a square (actually I think its a little too thick and I've not quite completely felted it however as it will sit in my sketch book looking pretty rather than useful I don't suppose it'll matter (much).

The cats enjoyed this! I caught Bertie trying to swipe it off the table and Lilly showed some interest in the bubbles that flew out as I got Matt to energetically roller it for .. ohhhh ... AGESSS and agesss!! (hubby ruined the atmosphere of creativity by asking what it WAS EXACTLY and I was unable to answer as I'd sort of forgotten!! he then asked for a slice of what ever it was after it had been rolled and hoped it would be well baked ..)

And here it IS, baked! no. I'm still not sure. but never mind it does look rather pretty!!

Kantha sample (finished)

Here it is! the Kantha sample finished - I've washed it to remove the blue pen line as well as to see how the quilted effect worked after a good dunk in basin of hot water and it looks really nice! for a sample, that is! I tried to do a variety of stitch patterns, some more successfully than others but overall I enjoyed this part of the course and am glad I revisited this to update my sketchbook.
I'm now completely up to date, having done the felt grid too and can relax over the half term knowing that I've not got to rush to catch up!

Friday, 1 February 2008

The New Rowan magazine no. 43

HURRAH! the latest Rowan magazine no.43 arrived through my letter box this morning!

I've only glanced at it due to being out today, however first glance is that I LOVE this mag!! I have seen two or three quite viable options for my recent purchase of the dozen Rowan Bamboo Tape which means I can be up to date as well as frugal!!

I've not been on the Rowan members' forum yet to see how well its gone down, but I like what I've seen SEW far!!

My superI-pod!

I love my i-pod!
I've only listened to music so far but plan to listen to knitting pod-casts too!
So far I've had to recharge it twice! (when I say "I've" recharged it, read my SON has recharged it for me!!)
Thanks Pete! I absolutely LOVE my i-pod!!

Another bit of Kantha stitch

Fancied another go at Kantha styled stitching and decided to do a small sampler which you can see from above picture I have drawn a grid on top layer of 3, lightweight muslin layers tacked together before stitching in a variety of patterns.

I enjoyed this as it was strangely relaxing to sew across. turn. sew back. turn. return the sewing. and see the pattern form!
After I finish the final bit of stitching I shall wash out the blue marker pen and see how it looks!

I like the quilted effect of using three layers, its more substantial! and I LOVE the nice hand-dyed embroidery cotton too! lovely to stitch with!! I've nearly used the whole skein but I don't mind, thats what I bought it for, afterall, to USE!