Thursday, 24 April 2014

Loveandpeas #3

Funky squirrel!
I haven't completely stopped my Loveandpeas makealong, stuff has got in the way a bit but here are two I have completed.  Number three was this adorable squirrel, for this one the technique to be used was filling stitches and I just had the best fun.  On the leaves I've used variegated 4ply wool in a satin stitch radiating out from the veins and then I've gone over the top of the veins in chain stitch in the same wool, part of the fun was trying to figure out which bits to stitch first.  The squirrel is almost all stitched in long and short stitch, angled to go in the direction of the fur, and is a mixture of embroidery flosses and wools.  The eyes and the lines on the face are backstitched in dark embroidery floss and the tummy is done with single short stitches scattered all over.  There are french knots on the squirrel and the acorn, and on the background flowers and just a bit of stem stitch on the curling acorn leaf stems.  What a lovely design!

Number two was a bit of applique and a deer design.  As with most
Pretty deer
things in fabric design there are a lot of different ways to do something and I followed the instructions and used interfacing to stabilise my bits of fabric before pinning them onto the background and blanket stitching them in place.  However, in future I will use fusible backing, something I've used so many times in the past but didn't think I had any (I did, it was hiding...).  It basically glues the fabric onto the background and you don't even need to stitch, but I would have done the blanket stitch anyway, it does look so good.  This time I did copy the embroidery pattern onto quilting paper, a flimsy substance like tissue paper which is strong enough to draw onto but tears away easily once you've stitch through it.  Then I embroidered all the loveliness of the design in place, wool for the tree, french knots, plenty more practice.  This was all done during the Boat Race and it did a lot to distract me from the rather awful result...

A parrot for a little prince

Funky parrot!
When I asked my friend Judith what I could make for her baby son Rhoan her answer was a little surprising but great fun.  I'd asked her to go look on Ravelry and she picked out a parrot.  It's been a while since I've made toys but I had plenty of spare wool so got to work on Rian Anderson's Toy Parrot.  It was an absolute pleasure to work something that knitted up in such a short time and was so well designed, the pattern is full of clever increases and decreases which give the parrot his lovely fat tummy.  And because tension didn't matter I just knitted in double knit (8ply) weight wool, which meant two strands of the finer stash wools I had in my needle.  This allowed me to play around with colour, the red for the head and tail is two strands of the same wool, but the tummy is one strand of yellow and one of orange held together which gave a lovely variegated effect.  I expected it just to look like two strands but no, they blended and unblended to look just like an ombre wool.  Before I knitted I did cross stitch and you often blend two different coloured strands of embroidery floss in the needle, but this was the first time it had occurred to me to try it in knitting.  I decided to embroider on the eyes as Rhoan is only little and was pleased with how they looked.  Even the beak has clever shaping to get the hook shape.  The wings were knitted with this amazing fuzzy yarn I had along with a strand of Blue Sky Alpaca Silk #139 Peacock which was my maiden purchase from Dundee's newest knitting shop Wool & Co.  I will just say that knitting with the novelty yarn was challenging and leave it at that, worth it for the effect but it was an experience!  A perfect pattern for using up your stash.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Yarncrawl Dundee

Router died on me after changing all my passwords last Thursday to try and keep my computer safe...  So this is a bit delayed, but I wanted to put out a post on our excellent yarncrawl round Dundee.  It really doesn't seem that long since pubcrawl was more part of my vernacular, I vividly remember the pub golf that was part of the initiation into Lip Theatre Company.  But this was pretty exciting too, especially now Dundee has five yes FIVE places you can buy wool and indulge in one of my favourite postapocalyptic life skills.

Baby double knit from the Knitting Pin for Lexi's Jacket
We got the number 73 bus in from Carnoustie, an excellent service that runs from just round the corner from us on Newton Road all the way to Ninewells Hospital, it is a lifeline for the carless and passes a good hour watching the world go by!  We clambered on and up to the top deck and the bus picked up Marta (her account of the yarncrawl can be found here) and her two boys and the kids happily blethered away all the way in to the end of the Arbroath Road.  We all got off there and turned up Albert Street to the Knitting Pin.  
Pompom yarn from the Knitting Pin

What a sight greeted me.  A vast range of every type of commercial yarn all by type, I easily found the double knitting section and was able to take my time picking out four beautiful shades of baby double knit yarn for my next big project, Debbie Bliss' Check & Cross Stitch Jacket for my neice's christening present. Caitlin was enchanted by the pompom yarn and picked out a ball to try  I left knowing I now had a failsafe good yarn store to go to, that here I would find a selection of inexpensive wools and notions that would enable me to make up any project and that I would find service that was friendly and helpful

From there it was a bit of a walk down the town but in the spring sunshine this was a delight, down Albert Street to the Murraygate and along to the Forum Centre to shop number #2, Wool Craft in the Forum Centre.  This is the shop my husband's gran used for wool and although small it has a wide range of commercial yarns, sundries, notions and stuff for other needlecrafts: cross stitch yarns, buttons and needles.  There's not much to say other than this has been my go to Dundee wool shop for years and it's good value.

Big Wool and Big needles!
A short hop then along the High Street to Union Street and down to the youngest member of the yarncrawl: Wool&Co.  This opened up just the end of last month and currently stocks luxury yarns from Rowan, Erica Knight and Blue Sky Alpacas as well as beautiful birchwood knitting needles, tiny rosewood needles for knittting in the round and cones of yarn for machine knitting.  The owner Laura shares my passion for British yarns and this is where I got the beautiful teal coloured Blue Sky alpaca/silk yarn that I am currently using to knit a parrot (!) for baby Rhoan from Rian Anderson's pattern Toy Parrot with Pirate Accessories, a delight to knit up, Anderson uses shaping delightfully.  Caitlin fell in love with a pair of mega chunky mittens, Laura had clevery designed the pattern to be used by beginners at a how-to-knit workshop so they would have something usable to take away with them.  Caitlin bought the turquoise Rowan yarn and 10mm needles to make her own and Laura sent me the pattern, thanks to the wonders of modern technology I was able to check right away that her email had reached me!

Fluph's spring window display, Totoro bottom right!
Then a longer walk up through my personal history across the University Campus to Blackness Road, to Fluph and the warmest welcome from girl (Leona) and dog!  We admired the beautiful window display and Caitlin and I particularly fell in love with Leona's little Totoro and soot ball.  Caitlin sat and knitted Rhoan's parrot while I got a very welcome cup of tea, then we hit the debit card: the last balls of wool for Lexi's jacket, a book for me and more wool for the child!

Drops Big Delight, an Aran weight yarn for Cailtin to learn cables
Fluph is the only shop that stocks Garnstudio Drops yarn and for this alone I would love them.  I discovered Garnstudio when I discovered Ravelry when I was first starting to knit again and could not believe their generosity, they offer a huge range of free knitting patterns and their Misty Vines waistcoat was my first big project.  I was unable to use their yarn as I like to touch yarn before using it, and our nearest at that point was Aberdeenshire.  There is now one in Glasgow too but in total only three stores stocking Drops yarn in Scotland and I'm lucky enough to be close to one!  Garnstudio are Scandinavian and since the 80s they have been producing delicious wearable designs, often scandinavian and nordic in style.

Book, Drops yarn and I had to have a tote bag
So I picked out four balls of Karisma yarn for Lexi's jacket, three white for the background and one dusty pink for the cross stitches.  And then I spotted Little Red In The City by Ysolda Teague and fell head over heels. Thing that I love about this book
1.  Micro cables
2. Hooded lace cardigan, I love hoodies
3. Pages and pages of how to customise a commercial pattern to your personal measurements
4. The friendly style of writing
5. The delicious photographs
6. The Scottish connection
7. And the thing that made me buy it, Teague photographs and speaks about two models, the girl on the cover models the patterns throughout.  She is triumphantly rubenesque and shows how the patterns look on real people!

Fluph runs workshops too, I may be back on Thursday for their regular knit night

Refreshed we wandered along down Annfield Road to the Hawkhill and cut through to the Perth Road.  Our final destination wasn't a knitting shop as such, but a shop I've often wanted to look into when going to or coming back from Ninewells on our bus.  Creative Creatures is a small but perfectly formed craft shop that sells a wide range of, well, stuff, including the thing I spent last week searching for: buckles.  Knitting yarn, felting tops, kits, buttons, embroidery supplies and much much more.

Tired out and satisfied Caitlin and I walked down to the newsagent next to the Queens Hotel and caught the number 73 all the way home from just outside the University's Tower Building.

All of these shops dovetail perfectly, they all offer something the other's don't and I hope they all survive and thrive.  And we met some shop owners who were fired with the same adoration of the squish stuff as ourselves and were helpful and enthusiastic about our little crafty kids.


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Loveandpeas #2

Hooped and on the go!
The second piece of bunting was Blossoms and a butterfly, and this time I transferred my pattern by sticking it to the window and using a fabric marking pencil.  The white fabric I'm using has butterflies on in already, but I used the reverse as it's more subtle.  I would like to say this was a deliberate choice, but actually it was just an accident with a positive outcome!  I've hooped it this time and it's coming on.  For the stems I used some leftover variegated 4ply (from last year's hats) and used stem stitch.  The leaves are and will continue to be backstitch in green embroidery floss, the ones on the stems are worked with three strands in the needle and I will work the falling leaves in the background with just one which will hopefully give a perspective effect, make them go into the background a bit.  The large flower is outlined in chain stitch with two threads of muted lilac embroidery floss in the needle, and the buds the same but either back stitch or single long stitches.  I think the butterfly is going to be gold embroidery floss and the dots and flower centres the golden wool but it may well change...  This is a joy to do, thank you Jenny!

Finished and cut out with 1cm seam
Well, that was Monday 17th March and I made myself sit down tonight and finish it off, I'd done the butterfly in gold 4ply knitting wool, some stem stitched, some couched, and had one flower, the flower centres and the lower falling leaves to do.

So an evening stitching away in front of the tv and it's done, just in time for the next one!  I kept to my scheme and I like the way the gold dots stand out but not too much.  I can never quite manage french knots, no matter how many times I practise!  The little wispy flower stamens were done in five strands of embroidery floss in the needle, two brown, two gold and one white.  Looking at it here I like it.  Now, where is that squirrel.  So many favorite animals, after all this I may even feel brave enough to make up my own corbie design!

And there's a reason why it's on fabric I'm not even using.  This is the wonderful prize I received from Fair Trade Fabric, I could not believe it but I won one of their prizes of fabric bundles and I wanted to give them a big big thankyou.  I will use it for something, I shall just put it on my shelf and stroke it for a while...  It's wonderful to find companies that combine a passion for quilting quality fabric with ethical values

Monday, 17 March 2014

Dominic's squirrels


Front with shawl collar and fun cat and dog themed buttons
My husband's grandparents Margaret and Matthew died last year.  They had long been the heart of his family, we visited at least fortnightly, their house was full of life and children.  I'll always remember Margaret with her hands full of knitting, she knitted for all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as they came along.  When we were clearing the house and her pattern book was looked at there was much laughter and remembering as the jumpers that were knitted for each family member were picked out.  The family goes on, the newest member of the clan will be christened shortly and without Margaret I wanted to take up the role of new baby knitter.  And baby stuff can be a welcome relief after doing larger pieces, quick to knit up and very very cute.

Our latest member is a wee boy, and Ravelry provided me with a sweet pattern called All In A Nutshell, a sturdy cardigan yoked with squirrels.  Due to footballing issues I had to be careful with the colours, but luckily our old faithful Wool Craft in the Forum Centre had soft Jarol Heritage DK in a lime green (#37) and squirrel red (#132) - the best kind of squirrels, obviously!
Details of squirrels on yoke

Cardigan from the back




Inspiraton

Tangerine, and black...
I have been really good, honest.  Just one new book by Flying Fish Quilts author Wendy Williams and a couple of pairs of needles I really did need.  And I had managed to resist all the delicious wool in Dundee's fabulous Fluph wool shop right up until the weekend, then I spotted this Garnstudio wool.  It is destined to be made into socks for my darling boy, and if you know him then you'll know why this is going to be knitted up with black 4ply into one of the stunning designs from Stephanie van der Linden's Op Art Socks which Caitlin and Scott very kindly got me for Christmas.

Fluph is a really friendly little shop, I was lucky enough to squeeze in last week for their Women In Science week event.  It's a sad truth that women in science need to be celebrated, still very much in the minority.   There were patterns for red blood cells and the place was packed with people chatting away about knitting, crochet, crystallography, sickle cell anaemia, malaria, science, tea, cakes, yarnbombing, fibonacci sequences and binary bonsai, often in the same sentence.  Just wonderful!

Loveandpeas: a S-A-L

There are times when you have more than enough on your plate and you spot something and decide you need to MAKE space for it.  I could have done this project myself but I doubt anything but a sew-a-long would have made me do it, just the same as it took a KAL (knit a-long) to motivate me to
Stash fabrics, Anchor embroidery flosses and 4 ply wool
make my first large scale knitted project.

I've loved Jenny Blair's work since spotting it last year up at Peel Farm Shop in Glen Isla as part of Angus Open Studios 2013.  I stalked her work to her exhibition at Kirriemuir's Bank Street Gallery and followed her on Facebook.  Last month she announced a sew-a-long making bunting to her designs and I put all my to-read books back in the library and cleared my decks.  For 6 weeks Jenny promised to print a design each week for us to stitch up.

Week 1 covered fabric selection and a Barn Owl Embroidery design.  Thanks to many years doing cross stitch I have a vast range of  embroidery flosses and was able to dive into my fabric and wool stash to find fabrics and threads that came together in my favourite Scottish palatte: golds, mossy greens, browns and muted lilac.  

I thought I knew what a barn owl looked like but worked with a picture on my phone just to keep me in
Back stitch was used for all the lines except the flowers

touch with the colouring.  Because I made life hard for myself and used a dark green for this first flag I couldn't transfer the pattern with in any of the usual ways so printed it out and stitched through.  Never again, the paper was a nightmare to remove at the end and I discovered I do actually have transfer paper so I would use that next time!

Once finished I pressed it, I hadn't put this one in an embroidery hoop as I forgot to and just cut out the bunting shape, luckily the paper stablised it.  I'm not sure about the colours, but I know from experience to leave it and come back to it if I'm still not happy at the end.