Sunday, 16 March 2008

Sewing for Pleasure - 2008 - NEC

On Friday we had our usual annual girls' day out to the NEC for the Sewing for Pleasure show and the four of us thoroughly enjoyed it and declared it an excellent show! Unfortunately my friend's daughter was unable to make it on the day, so my friend decided she'd go again! with her on the Sunday and certainly we found plenty to keep us busy for the entire day and I'm sure her 2nd trip will be good idea!

I was straight in look at the books but this time decided I couldn't find exactly what I wanted and am pleased that I saved my money as I ended up overspending by MILES!!

First purchase was 20 balls of (advertised as) cashmere for £20 from The Black Sheep, my pal, Ann, bought 10 balls of Jaeger fleece for £29 and a super pattern book too!

I went around the whole show about three times in total, picking up bits and pieces here and there including stabilisers, knitting notions, bead/pendants and chains, hoops, and then rather accidentally found a stall selling a magnetic board with rule and strip of magnetic something or other which I was assured would help me with my lace charts! From these ladies I also bought a beading mat which feels like fleece (sort of) and they demonstrated how it helped in working with tiny beads and at £1 I picked one up!

Mostly I was looking for "creative" bits and pieces and found two or three stalls selling a variety, I bought a lot from Stef Francis which you can see below; I bought some soluble fabric and a mini embellishing variety pack from Arthur Ridley and enjoyed his talk on Embellishing machines in one of the lecture rooms too. I bought some fibres for needle felting from Knitting 4 Fun and had a very interesting chat with the stallholders about felting in general, I was tempted to buy some wool and banana & nettle yarn to knit a felted bag but didn't want to rush into a purchase in the last few minutes - I wish I'd gone back to this stall before 5.30pm when they were closing!

I did wonder whether to renew my subscription to Sewing World again this year, but as per usual I did! Slightly cheaper to renew at show time, plus a goodie bag of mostly nothing much! but this time there was a rather smart hobby bag which is quite useful in size.

We enjoyed, too, the fashion show and it was rather nice to sit down for half an hour too!
A lot of walking, the day was tiring and as we'd not finished in time we weren't able to go into the accompanying hall for the Hobbycrafts which was a first for us! Normally we're done by 4.30pm and spend the last hour in there before finishing with a reviving cup of coffee before setting off for home!

Lastly I bought a couple of clip-on LED lights sold half price, £5 each, for the lads after being assured that the cheaper batteries to be found in some shops work just as well, unfortunately the lads weren't as enthusiastic as I thought they might be, and I rather wish I had bought the banana fibre for myself now!! ho-hum!!

Stitch! explore pattern

Our homework for this week was to explore pattern within stitch (or knitting).

I chose to machine some samples and after my no.2.son.12yrs helped me by producing a sheet of patterns (and muttered about how it OUGHT to be "mum" helping him and not other way round!) following my rather basic contribution of a square of machine quilted lines to represent "tiles" which was my chosen pattern, I got rather carried away and couldn't then STOP!

I've tried to use a variety of fabrics and techniques and am rather pleased with the results.
An opportunity, too, to get out some of my machine feet and I tried using my couching foot for the first time and had some fun making cord with some of the super threads we'd got as freebies from our friend on the course last week (you can see it on the zig zag couched cord on the left).

Getting stuck in ..

At college last week we were treated to a help ourselves to hanks of threads! One of the ladies had a friend who had a surplus amount and wanted rid of it, naturally we all dived in and here you can see my lovely bundle!
I've used some of it already in my stitching to explore pattern but in the meantime it sits in a nice tin on the shelf looking all yummy!

As has been said often, ALL yarns coming INTO the house MUST first be approved. by Bertie. Here you can see him getting his claws out and having a good old rummage before finally allowing me to stash it away.

The weather this week has generally been wet and windy, neither cats have appreciated this and I've caught Bertie mucking about in my sewing on a few occasions, here you can see him rolling about atop my homework! (naughty cat!) (have had to put note of apology on one page, the muddy pawprints are really rather obvious and I'm not able to tear the whole page out and start again as I'm then out of sequence).

Fabric Samples to explore colour

To explore colour further I used an idea suggested in one of my library books on embroidery whereby three fabrics are selected and the smaller is cut into strips and sewn across the middle fabric which is slightly bigger before THIS is then cut into strips across the opposite direction and, as can be seen below, laid out onto the 3rd final piece of fabric.
I did take about 15 photo's of combinations of varying colours for the background but happily for you have decided not to bore you WITH the pics as its a bit like holiday snaps, okay to see the first 24 but then it gets a bit tedious.

I imagine this is what we've got to endure after arrives home mid April after his 8week trip abroad travelling - last email contact from him somewhere in NZ enthusiastically informed us all that he can about 6.5 thousand photos. (or it might have 650. either way it was beginning to sound a bit, well, tedious ..)

Above you can see one combination, below you can see the final pieces.

Yarn samples to explore colour

To explore the theme of colour we were challenged to knit samples and I chose some basic colours and worked mostly stripes but one or two of the patterns come from either the vogue sock book, magazines or the beaded book loaned from library.

Some of the scraps of felting got used too this time with my newest gadget the hand needles for felting I bought a couple of weeks ago!

Rather yummingly addictive, I got into the habit of taking the foam and fibres downstairs and could be found crunching away with my needle while watching tv late into the evening!
I don't actually advise this. I nearly fainted after I crunched into my finger while watching a particularly exciting part of Ashes to Ashes and it was lucky we've got this swish tv digital thingie whereby live tv can be paused and rewound, while I mopped the blood .. the family are not keen either, they say the "noise" (think munchie/crunchie noise and then think pace quickens depending upon the tv action) interferes with the atmosphere.

Here are two further samples worked on with my needle felting kit.


Books I've loaned from the local library, I'm enjoying the Debbie Stoller ones and have used the beaded knits for some aspects of my knitted samples for the course and may well buy this book as there are one or two projects I fancy!

I've wanted an embroidery stitch book for a while now and having had to return the last lot from which I first gained my experience in sampling some of the hand stitches decided to buy this one:

(typically, I've not ACTUALLY used it but it does sit nicely by my chair downstairs looking all knowledgeable or, as dh put it: UNTIDY! grrrr)

Friday, 14 March 2008

Today we're off to the NEC

Today my friends and I are off to the Sewing for Pleasure, show at the NEC!
One friend who went yesterday reported it to be dismal and total waste of time and had come out by 1pm!
Hoping because have now got interest in several aspects of "sewing" there will be something for me to get excited about!
Hoping also for some creative inspiration too!

Excitement over patterns!

been FAR too busy to even try and see if blogger would co-operate with my missing photo's!
been BUSY instead with PATTERN!

Thought would pick something terribly easy : "tiles" and quilted some tile patterns on a sandwich of cottons and wadding and leave it at that! INSTEAD, something stirred and whirred inside the depths of my brain and before I knew I was galloping across fields whizzing off all sorts of creative stitch AND, further more! I even DREW some ideas! My youngest son got caught up in it and within 3.5seconds had drawn several lots MORE than I had, of patterns too! (managed to scrunch his toe hard with my foot as I "thanked" him - grrr! ) Promptly found MORE ideas and inspiration after going for a walk in the evening with dh. (he wondered why I was staring hard at the pavement at the top of one road, breathing heavily, he wondered if the pace was perhaps too quick? no! I managed to shriek! its the PAVEMENT! look!? see? the PATTERN? .. hmmm - maybe I have taken it too seriously, I mean! the PAVEMENT?

Wondering now, how to manage to take photo's OF the pavement without arousing suspicion from the shopkeepers who might fear am taking shots as evidence for, perhaps, some tripping up accident? Wondering, further, how to manage to take shots of the neighbouring streets' garden walls to progress the tile pattern into ironwork without looking like am taking shots to suss the places out before robbing them! gulp .. this course COULD well get me into much trouble!

Monday, 10 March 2008

The seriousness of COLOUR

You know you are taking it TOO far when, when sorting laundry loads, you sort not just into "whites" "60deg" and "synthetics" but rather into families of hue! categories of tints, tones and shades! and definitely too far when no.1.sons underpants get omitted from any planned weekly wash THIS week on account of bright blue just doesn't BLEND! ..

looking on the bright side, all this attention to colour means we've not had (m)any "pink" accidents in the predominantly "whites". (no.2.son has STILL not forgiven me for mixing up BOTH his pairs of white PE socks the day before he had PE and had to wear them "rolled" down to his ankles in a bid to disguise the "pinkness". not easy when you consider they were OVER the KNEE length to start off with!

poor dh has started "wheezing"! the other night could hardly catch his breath at night and after I hissed at him to STOP "breathing!" PLEASE! while I attempted to catch up with Hotel Babylon, he announced that he was allergic! to the CATS! and they must go! Either that. or. he said. its the hoovering! (dh has recently taken over this task as one of his domestic contributions to the household and it was going quite well after we spent best part of £200 on a new one with a fancy cylinder). Coughing. a bit. myself. I wondered IF - instead - its all this dust from the FIBRES! I mean. to say. I've got a nice little collection of red and green lint, leftover particles, shreds and the like from a project that has been growing in size for about the past 3 weeks now and I have to say I've started sneezing occasionally when in my sewing room for any length of time myself.

on the OTHER HAND perhaps it IS the cats! Bertie has made his way into our bedroom in the evenings and the tell tale signs of his shedded fur can be found and he then moves into MY sewing room for the night (signs of fur on my chair prove this although he absolutely DENIES ever having been responsible for the unrolling of three balls of yarn and scattering of pattern pieces).

Not taking any chances! will promote, heavily, the idea OF the cat allergy and attempt to play on the lads devastation should he feel the need to insist on their leaving (and quietly I might just gather up the pretty and co-ordinating lint and fabric particles and sweep them away!)

Thinking. this afternoon. if ONLY I could get this obssessed with other things! like DIETING! or other household matters! sadly (or happily?) it seems to be largely confined to CRAFTYNESS only!

Blogs of interest

While I wait for Blogger to decide to upload my photos, some blogs I've enjoyed reading/looking at lately:

Cyber sewing pal, Viva, found this blog and certainly its super to see some bits of yumminess, especially like the Celtic knot, family portrait project looks interesting too!

I LOVE this post in particular! I can't wait to buy my own Embellisher! Certainly Allie has some confidence to try this! Check out the demin/lace project she embarked using her Embellisher on a shirt!

And I LOVE this blogger! she's captured the feeling exactly! that of the almost inevitable disappointment as you knit your way expensively through a pattern to disover it either looks nothing like the pattern OR doesn't fit OR both!!

Just for sure usefulness and good sewing sense, I love reading The Secret Pocket and hemming trousers article in particular given that I have in the past made a LOT of (boys) trousers and always did find it frustrating to catch a ripple at the inseam - grrr!

OUCH! Poor Val! but how heroic to continue and buy further supplies of yummy fabric!! Hope the trip to dentist wasn't too expensive, I mean painful! The collage of photo's of the quilts are super, do be sure to click to enlarge and enjoy those on the bottom row!!

Cyber sewing pal Butterfly has been busy baking! YUMMINESS in lots of BAGS! and spotted, too, she's cut into those vintage goodies and made her own placemats - they look really SUPER and I bet they sell well!!

Creative Textiles

Unfortunately blogger is still not letting me upload photos! Looks like its not just me as Debs reports similar problems! I'll try again later as I have quite a lot of yumminess to screech about!

In the meantime, heres what we did today at Creative Textiles!

I thought the colour theme was enough to get all screechy about and start diving for cover and heaving into cushions (heavily embroidered and richly patterned, of course!) but PATTERN - our newest theme .. thud thud THUDDD .. say no more!

We've moved on now to Design Style: Design Sources for Pattern

We decided that "pattern" is basically anything that isn't plain.
had we STOPPED there. had we SETTLED for that. had we swiftly moved on. would have been alright! but no. we've to look at the definition of pattern which falls, I'm told, into broadly 4 categories:
  • Natural/Organic
  • Structural
  • Planned
  • and Combination
Luckily Sarah, our tutor, had brought along almost the entire contents of her craft room (had thought maybe had had falling out with the family and had moved out judging from the overflowing boxes and bags spilling over entire back seat of car but didn't like to SAY anything lest it mean the end of the course!) Happily she's not left home, she's brought the kitchen sink into class to demonstrate PATTERN!

Reminded, slightly, of the old scrapbooks we used to fill as children - cut up scraps torn from Mother's magazines and glued - we had books filled with inspiration drawn from colour, texture and pattern compiled in a style that in itself could be described as organic, structured and planned there's certainly something rather determined about this gathering of yumminess!
Books. two. I many hundreds! too. Lots of books - interesting that several of the super knits for house and home, throws blankets etc, had marvellous examples of "pattern" but, of course, rather different when compiling ones OWN selection to demonstrate understanding!

Several ladies got rather excited about design possibilities for inspired work in textiles and had horrid panicky moment as tried to imagine HOW to transform a decaying tumbling brick wall into something worthy of hanging ON my wall! (apparently am not to panic - yet - that will all be revealed in next phase! and feel somewhat reassured!).

Our homework for this week is to record some examples of pattern from each of the areas and discover which appeal to me and why and decide if some are more suited to textiles than others. We are to chooseone example and create a sample to reflect the featuresof that pattern, eg textured knitting/crochet, patchwork, quilting, stitching etc.

I've done half of MINE already!
In one magazine have cut out about 145 Structured and Planned kitchen themed photographs with linear designs and stripes and neat orderliness about them - thus establishing clearly what appeals to me - easy to say : its NEAT and ORDERLY! Oh dear, fear another grey and black wardrobe moment coming on ..

Next to me, Kim, our resident fling it all at ME and I'll show you how to use it ALL on one piece measuring 3" square, heaped, piled, layered, slashed and STILL managing to look like it all means something (unlike my 12" square with a few bits of something neatly coiled and stacked in a row looking rather as though missing half the class) demonstrates wonderfully how diverse we each are! in our approaches and in what we present as our findings/samples! Peggy commented how marvellous is must be to have such freedom and confidence to go for it! and happily (for me) reported similar tendancies to the grey/black wardrobe, all paint pots sitting neatly in a colour co-ordinated line holding hands nicely, syndrome! at least I'm not alone!

Whilst there is no pressure, beyond that we make up ourselves, amongst the group, there is a nagging feeling that somehow the expectation is that the level of work produced is higher rather than lower end, possibly due to half the group being fantastically CLEVER/CREATIVE! I mean having done the first year already! I need to remind myself that for half of us, we're newbies coming in with no prior learning and that the other half have the benefit of that past year. Overall its GOOD to have a mix, as we certainly benefit from seeing the recorded journalling examples and some of the advanced techniques that have been furthered from their original workings (and can't WAIT to be a 2nd year myself next year! except with MY luck all the new newbies will be creative whizzos like Kim anyway! bah!).

Any rumblings of pressure and stress due to the course are quickly put aside by our tutor, however, who is sew laid back is almost horizontal (except can't quite go fully horizontal on account of all the piled boxes and bags surrounding) and we're reminded this course is for our LEISURE and our PLEASURE and no one is to feel unduly STRESSED or PRESSURED!

See? what happens? when blogger refuses to show my photo's? it all comes out verbally instead. Late readers will be able to skim speed-reading manner and skip TO the delightful photo's soon (I hope!).

Sunday, 9 March 2008

No pictures!

Well I've tried for half an hour or sew to upload photo's and apparently there is a problem!
Never mind, I'll try again tomorrow!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Library Books! (and knitting mags)

I was lucky enough to get hold of a copy of 25 beaded knits beautiful designs in stylish colours, Debbie Abrahams last week from my local library and a super book this is too! I think I'll splash out and buy a copy, perhaps at the forthcoming sewing show! I quite fancy the "Bubbly Knitting Bag" on page 15 as this will be an opportunity for me to thoroughly frighten myself with COLOUR!! but I think I'll also do the "Scrooge Wrist-Warmers" on page 92 as I can be less terrified of CABLES while still trying out a few different techniques.

The other book I've got is Stitch'n bitch The Knitters Handbook, Debbie Stoller, and this is a good read too. I've decided that books will be on my shopping list for the show this year, if anyone has any recommendations knitty or otherwise, do please share details!

This months Simply Knitting magazine has a rather nice toe-up sock pattern in it which can be downloaded free too - I've not done a toe up and quite fancy saving this for a future project.

10 Blog Nominations!

Thanks Val for including me in one of your nominations for blogs "which bring you inspiration and make you appreciate the blogosphere ! ".

I thoroughly enjoy the whole atmosphere of bloglife and have learned SEW much and been SEW inspired at the same time with not just creative information but technical and other stuff too - I can't imagine internet life without blogs!!

Since learning about readers and how to subscribe I've been much more efficient and regular in my blog-reading and have quite an extensive list of those I look forward to reading and viewing and following on a regular basis, my ten nominations are:-

Annies Crazy World
Butterflies Giftshop
In a minute ago
The Secret Pocket
My recycled bags
Terry Ross Designs
Make do and mend
Embroidery overlaps
Allies in stitches

I just enjoy reading them for the yumminess within and for the practical help on techniques as well as inspiration!!

Creative Textiles

Bit of relief today from the tedium I mean learning of colour with some KNITTING!
Sarah brought in boxes of colour themed bags of yarn and we all dipped in to select some to knit samples for our section on exploring colour!

I've opted for safety of green, red and purple! but did rather cast an envious eye on neighbouring Kim's yummy SCRUMMY reds, oranges and hot pinks and yellows!! Interestingly she knitted her swatches on HUGE needles and plans to weave colours in between - I expect she'll end up with something glorious and we'll all be jealous!! I'm afraid mine is uniform neat stripes of colour however I'm quite pleased as I've learned a neat way of weaving in a new colour and of losing the tail end of the previous colour which I expect I shall have forgotten about by tomorrow!!

A delicious cushion packed with different knitting techniques for decorative effects provided inspiration for those most in need (me!) and I was interested to find out you can knit pintucks! Having spent the week experimenting with pintucks on the sewing machine and stitching them down in alternate waves for visual interestI was interested in learning how this is affected with yarn and needles! (quite easily, as it happens!).

We have to complete our paperwork and are instructed to do our homework as its likely the Centre Manager will be checking up on our tutor, I mean us! As we don't want to get Sarah into trouble we've promised to do this for next Monday!

In preparation for our main piece of work I casually mentioned a leaning toward a landscape! and one of our class kindly brought in their piece and all the project work and files for it to share! I was amazed at how effective Jackie's piece was and I'm completely overwhelmed now at the thought of all that creativity and rather wish I'd mentioned how I'd always wanted to knit a cabled cushion cover!! (or a tea pot cosy!) gulp! I might have to discover a sudden interest in a tree and stick to that! (at least with brown not being officially ON the colour wheel I could add ANY shade of green!?). (OR I could do a seascape? all BLUE? and call it miles from nowhere?).

HOMEWORK for this week will be to knit some colour samples and complete the paperwork!

Birthday celebrations!

Sadly on Saturday I was unable to convince the family to visit Warwick for the Ravely day - instead we went to the RAF Museum. The lads enjoyed it, no.1.son whose birthday we were celebrating in particular! (I basically spent most of the day hoping it was the end! or at least that we could sit down! I was rather brave about it and managed to effect an air of excitement in most of the right places and all in all I would recommend this as a place to visit - provided, of course, you are a boy!)

something. interesting. (must have been. 4 shots were taken of "it". unless, of course, my son forgot temporarily how to operate my camera! Did I say he filled up both his AND mine with shots?)

For an additional charge you could take part in a flight simulation - here they are after flying with the Red Arrows .. .. (I had 4 mins of sitting down and didn't have to adjust my face into one of complete excitement!)
Here I am managing to effect a look of complete happiness! (I'm joking, of course, I did make a marvellous effort on the day and it was all worth it for our son to thoroughly enjoy the visit).

dh and no.2.son study one of the exhibits, we enjoyed lunch there too at one of their cafes and made a day of it.

His birthday is actually TODAY! Happy Birthday, Andrew! 15yrs today! Tonight we will go for a meal and later when he returns from school he will have his cards/presents! His Dad has baked a cake especially!