Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Vintage Knits

Vintage Knits is a Rowan title which I knew I wanted to own from the moment I saw a picture of the cover. I have always liked the ‘feel’ of the Rowan publications, the styling is nice, whenever I have pushed the boat out to buy Rowan yarn I have enjoyed working with it. There are 30+ patterns in this book, and as the name suggests they all have a vintage feel. There are some designs for the boys in some ace Kaffe fair isle, some pretty fitted cardigans, longer line jackets, a little scarflet, even some crochet. I think there is probably something for everyone and any age. These are classic garment shapes, I know sometimes Rowan yarn is of an idiosyncratic gauge and it can take some work to find a suitable substitute yarn but I think that if a more contemporary feel is required knitting these in a brighter colour or something a bit sparkly would extend their appeal. The book is very nicely laid out, with lots of gorgeous images, and I think is very good value at £14.99. As it contains designs from eight designers it gives a variety of style which I do think makes for an exciting and appealing selection. Watch this space for how I get on with a teal mohair cardigan- I have never before knitted a garment for myself which I have been prepared to wear in polite company so this is a test indeed!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Thought for the day

"The road to happiness lies in two simple principles: find what it is that interests you and that you can do well, and when you find it, put your whole soul into it - every bit of energy and ambition and natural ability you have." John D. Rockefeller III

Friday, 23 April 2010

Pretty distractions

I still have five serious things to clear from my list. I have booked a table at the school May fair to clear some stock and after that the remainder will be going to a charity shop. Unfortunately I haven't made any progress on the others as I am still burning the midnight oil doing battle with the dress! The party is next weekend though so not for much longer- and then it's back to the grindstone. I am finding my head has been seriously turned by the goings on at the Embroiderers guild residential weekend. There was a lovely lady on the weekend who does a lot of beading at classes but doesn't wear her creations. She really kindly gave me this lovely necklace as a gift and it is really sweet, a pretty colour, a nice length. I have ordered more Delicas to make Mum a necklace for Christmas and yesterday got down my beading file for inspiration- big mistake- I really want to make some more jewellery- it hurts!

There are always two tutors at the residential, one for the 'good girls' the hand sewers- and one for the 'naughty girls' the machiners. This year the naughty girls had the pleasure of Angie Hughes company. They did some amazing things with velvet, bleach, transfoils, sequins, the work just glowed and they had such a fun time. I snook in and did some shopping on the last day buying Angie's book which is full of ideas for mixed media, a real departure for me, but I am determined to try some ideas from the book, she is such a good gentle teacher I feel safe following her guidance. I also bought these fabulous buttons which Angie had made from some of her samples. These have called other fabric to them and are evolving into hair accessories. I have really missed the instant hit of playing colours against each other and rustling up tiny bundles of clash. I need to get those five done so I can really let loose and play again.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Magnificent Mittens

Magnificent Mittens and Socks- you’re not kidding! These are awesome! The mittens, oh how I love mittens, are styled like gauntlets leaving loads of potential for colour, pattern, flamboyance, fun! There are lots of possible combinations to make something really personalised and I love the way Anna Zilboorg the author, challenges that mittens have to match each other-even more potential for quirks. I cannot claim that I have grabbed for my double ended pins, I am not an experienced enough knitter on those- but I did reach immediately for the phone to call Mum and tell her to make sure she packs hers next time she comes to stay because I have to have a ‘pair’ of these beauties. There are very clear instructions at the beginning of the book and I wonder if I could manage it if I had a pot of tea, good light, radio 6 and a quiet house, if there is one thing that would persuade me to give knitting with double pins a serious go, these absolutely fantastic mittens would be it.

I also need to mention that Simon asked if boys could wear them-well yes, of course, but the socks are also pretty special- especially as they are adapted from the mitten patterns, I mean how cool is that? Also the very practical Anna, no really, the flair for design and colour is clearly based on an understanding of the need for cosy paws, is very clear about what materials and tension to use so that the extremities will be kept snug even when wet.

Monday, 19 April 2010

G- that is one swell cardi!

I haven't really been showing you much of my makey activity lately have I? I thought you'd perhaps like to laugh at the cardi-the guaranteed no chance of losing your child patent pending-cardi. I had made this for Anna but my tension was all wrong so it got inflicted on the poor unsuspecting G. My Mum dropped it round for me and apparently when shown the garment G asked to 'put it away'! Later I received a text to say that she had now fallen asleep in it- I put it down to the emotional trauma. She wears it well though and I promise G that my next hand made for you will be a bit more class and a little less clash!
Thanks to my pal Jen for supplying this photo of her dear little girl.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Mr Postman...bring me a dream

Why thank you Mr Postman, what lovelies you have been bringing me! Which is good really because I am getting end of holiday/knackered washing machine/ restricted diet due to allergy testing fatigue. But I can't complain because honestly I've been very, very lucky. Trashy put together a spring swap about and I received a parcel from the U.S- which is super exciting. My parcel came from Clara who sent such sweet springy treasure to brighten up our little home.

Thanks Clara and Trashy, I shall think of you both when I wash up, eat the contents of the sheep and storing treasure in the dear little knitted bag

Do you see the fab buttons? (goodness only knows where all these pictures will end up!) Noodlebubble had the ace notion of doing a button hand on type affair and today I received the first of two packs of 20 buttons headed my way and these were from Fibrespace. I love these and thnk that the lovely baking lady ad the pie button are begging to go on a very cool pinnie. Again thanks ladies.
Last but not least big thanks need to go to my Mum, for more things than I can list here but for today specifically thanks for this parcel of fabric, wool, thread, bead perfection. I mean get that print, who couldn't be cheered by that print?
So apart from being a tad grumpy I have been spending lots of time on 'the dress'- it is an absolute feat of sewy engineering turn this, flip this sew this fold this. It's more origami than frock....but it seems to still have a head hole and arm holes so it might still be wearable. I shall persevere and hopefully overcome, now that I am fortified by treasure, kind acts and dairy/wheat/gluten/egg/nut free cake.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I wish I was left-handed, no really I do. This book; ‘The left handed embroiderer’s companion’ by Yvette Stanton is a BRILLIANT stitch dictionary. The illustrations are crystal clear and interspersed with peeks of contemporary embroidery illustrating the stitches. The nicest bit is that although the book is all laid out for the much neglected left hander the book is inclusive with a note and illustration with each section to tell how a right hander would work the stitch. How magnanimous, no really I am pathetically grateful that I can keep this book in my collection and go bonkers trying out the hundreds of different stitches. I reckon this book is a must for every teacher of stitching and every left handed sewer and ……yes actually anyone who owns a needle and thread and might one day feel like picking them up. If I am ever on Dessert Island disks I am taking this book! At £19.99 it might seem steep for a soft back but believe me, I reckon this is worth its weight in gold.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Been beading

The tutor for my Embroiderers Guild weekend was Heidi Jenkins. Heidi has four main string to her textiles bow but this weekend was all about the beads. Heidi uses mostly geometric shapes to form some really striking jewellery pieces, book covers and box tops. The project for the weekend was the triangle necklace- the original has forty two triangles and a beaded strap and closure at the back. It took me most of Friday to make two interlocking triangles so I realised that a whole necklace would be beyond me in one weekend!
I made five over the course of the three days and made other projects in between to stop me going mad(der). The first after the triangles were what Heidi calls a twigs and leaves pattern which I made in a bunch of five for some earrings. These were really cute and I can see myself using this technique again.
Next were the leaves, the original had much more form to them as Heidi used a larger seed bead on the outside edge and also added veins to the inside. I want try making an interwoven version of these too.
Finally I made the very Deco blue numbers, and by the last day my speed and tension were a bit better. All of these used Delica beads and brick stitch, except the twiggy leafy numbers.It has made me want to search out my beading books, but unfortunately it has also made me want to shop for some more colours in Delica! For now I will limit myself to adding some velvet ribbon to the triangles to make a choker....promise!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Flower power!

Sew Scrumptious organised a really cool flower swap and again, despite all my resolutions to work on my U.F.O's my head was turned and I signed up. No regrets here though, no siree! I was twinned with Beki and she spoiled me with a riot of floral loveliness. The highlight of which had to be the most brilliant cuff. I love wearing red, I am partial to the odd button (!!!) and dig the whole peasant vibe- this cuff really is perfect- thanks Beki.
The other treasure was also a complete treat, the
very cute lavender pad with the sweet ladybird
style print is now residing in my big bag of yummy
wool and the daisy fabric is on the top of my stash ready to make something this
space! I am also really chuffed my my floral; oil burner, scarf, zip bag and seeds. This place is
positively blooming!
I have been very lucky to have spent the weekend on an Embroiderers Guild residential weekend and will share what I have been making next post, I had such a lovely relaxing time with all the focus being on making- making beaded jewellery and making decisions as to what to have from the sweet trolley! -Bliss

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Building blocks

This book is something akin to a patch worker’s dictionary. It is a dense, compact publication. The first forty pages are a brief guide to patchwork which have been written succinctly by someone who really knows their stuff. The remainder of the book is a collection of blocks, split into sections by type. Each page follows the same layout; the history of the block, a difficulty rating, construction order, a breakdown of the shapes in the block, an image of a complete single block and a group to show how they work when pieced together. There is so much information packed into this book but I can’t help feeling that there is something missing. I cannot see how you might photocopy the pattern pieces from the book and this means you would need to draft the blocks yourself to work out what you need to cut. This does mean you could make the blocks any size you like, but the work involved might be too much for a less experienced patch worker. Of course it might be that being a little short n the old grey matter I ma missing something obvious!? I have seen other quilt books where the cutting sizes are given for a 12” block, but can also be adapted if necessary and I have to say that I think that is a more useful format for this type of book.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Heart-felt joy

What a smashing day it's been. I have been recovering from my sicky head for nearly a week and the arrival of Mum and Dad set me well and truly back on the road to well-being. Especially as Mum and I had a surprise up our sleeve for Dad. It came about because Simon has taken Will to see a live musical tribute to Star Wars at the O2 which left Anna, Mum, Dad and I to amuse ourselves. I felt we deserved a treat and when Sam said she was free to have us over for a workshop day I hesitated for all of five seconds!

As I have mentioned before I can't seem to change the order in which photos appear here so just act surprised when I tell you that Dad made THE most fantastic hat, Mum a very classy bag and I made bangles, balls, dreads and an Easter nest.
Anna had a fabulous time too, playing with Sam's gorgeous daughter, husband, guinea pigs and chooks.
The felt we made was wet felt in 'one piece'. We ransacked Sam's stash for fibres that caught our attention and either worked with them as was or carded them on a drum carder to soften them and give us one long 'bat' with which to work. All of us have finishing touches to add, and I'm afraid my woolly gems have really added two more projects to the list but essentially Dad made a hat in four hours- from fluff to head- that can't be bad!
I had such a lovely time, huge thanks to Sam and her lovely family and to my lovely family for a magical day which I will never forget. xx