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


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.

Young Embroiderers' Guild book project

This project is one I have taught a couple of times, first as a full day workshop with a group of Young Quilters at the Quilters' Guild Regional Day and then as a two hour workshop with the Young Embroiderers, it was certainly interesting trying to adapt a day long workshop to a two hour one!  

Granny's book of quotes, painting is also by her

Spine detail from Granny's book
I learned how to make books at the wonderful courses I went on at Springfield Creative Arts and used this knowledge to recreate a now rather tatty little book made by my beloved grandmother Peggy James to keep quotes in, one which has guided me since youth is one she wrote down in 1934:
If you have two loaves -
Sell one and buy a lily
The book is constructed from a back piece and a larger front piece which wraps round the back to form the spine.  The back cover is punched with eyelets and treasury tags threaded through to hold the hand cut pages.

The first version I did of this was just in cardboard, but with the project I have taught twice the cardboard is covered with fabric to make neat little books containing A5 sheets of paper and card.  I use one to hold knitting patterns when I'm carrying them out and about, Caitlin has one with card sheets that she uses as a scrapbook for her completed origami creations from one of Klutz's ever fabulous books Origami Fashions

My front and back covers from the Young Embroiderer's workshop. 
The version I did as a mockup for the most recent version was fabric from my mum's stash, I'm fairly sure it dates from the 1970s and was a skirt, great patterns for playing around with.  On the front cover I followed the linear pattern and did a line of beading and a line of pekinese stitch in wool and tapestry cotton.  On the back I followed the mad psychdelic paisley with beads and metallic threads.

So here are my instructions.  For the day long workshop (about 5 hours in total) the Young Quilters were able to embroider their fabrics before putting the book together, but for the shorter workshop I made up the books to the end of stage 5 without decorating and they had to sew through cardboard, which wasn't easy but they made light work of it!  For the Young Embroiderers project as my boards I used thin cardboard thoroughout, but for the Young Quilters' project I used 3mm greyboard for the back cover, this sturdy book board is impossible to stitch through so any embroidery would have to be made up before glueing.

1. Choose 4 fabrics for front cover, back cover, front lining and back lining.

2. Cut the fabrics:
Front cover 18.50cm x 28.00cm
Back cover 18.50cm x 24.00cm
Front lining 15.25cm x 24.75cm 
Back lining 15.25cm x 21cm 

3. Cut the boards
Front cover 15.50cm x 21.50cm  - score two lines parallel to the short end, one 2.50cm in and one 3.50 cm in (these form the folds for the spine
Back board 15.50cm x 21.50cm

4. Decorate - embroider, applique, glue, stick, paint, draw...!
5. Glue front fabric piece to front cover, and back fabric piece to back cover.  Apply the glue to the board rather than the fabric, and work well in.  I use a stencil-style brush with a squared off end to work the glue well in.  I used craft pva for these everyday books, it dries flexible, usually clear and you can stitch through it.

6. Glue the linings in place and finally bend the front cover along the creases of the front cover.  Glue it in into place either inside or outside the back piece, nestling them closely together.  Clip together, either with clothes pegs or the clips you get on the end of trouser hangers, and if possible leave to dry.

7.  Punch holes in the back cover.  I use an eyelet making kit and a hammer though this is hard work and eyelet punches are available

8. Cut paper/cardboard to A5 size and use a hole punch to punch holes in the shorter edges.  With a piece of thread, wool or anything of the sort thread a lace through and tie the pages in place.

I've used various things for my laces, ribbons, even an old pair of earphones with the earpieces cut off.

Front cover beading from a red-themed multipack

Small paisleys embellished with blue metallic thread

A dress for Emily

Emily sitting pretty on our shelves
I find most dolls which have human faces frightening, but the two my daughter Caitlin has inherited are different.  This is Emily, given to her by my mum and she has a sweet face and pretty hair.  For Christmas I decided to knit her a dress from a book that I'd bought for Caitlin full of lovely knitting and crochet patterns to make for her dolls.  Admittedly she hasn't done any herself yet but I'm sure she will.

Dress Up Your Dolls by Lise Nymark is packed full of delightful designs both knitted and crocheted, dungarees, cabled sweaters, day dresses, evening wear, all sorts of clothing that can easily be customised.  The designs are for a standard 18" doll and Emily is bigger but it's fairly easy to add a row here and there, I added quite a lot to make it longer and I think it's still a bit short, but Caitlin loves it and I guess that's all that matters!

Emily's dress is adapted from the Safari Dress pattern.  The purple wool is James Brett's Top Value DK, an acrylic that is nevertheless soft to knit with (#8431 Lilac).  Purple is Caitlins' favourite colour and the wool came from the stash of my grandmother-in-law, the much loved matriarch of the family who died last year.  For the trim I wanted something fluffy and this certainly was that, it's Beregere De France's Plume #2010.  It was very slippery to knit with but was only for a short stretch.