Monday, July 17, 2017

Sewing, knitting and lists

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing jumper - showing work in progress sewing in ends
Do you use lists? I seem to be pursued by them. I have a weekly list which details the things I really ought to be working on. This test knit was one. I needed to get it finished for the 17th July since the designer needed my report by then. I managed to complete it a few days ago, earlier than planned since there was going to be rather a lot of ends to sew in. You can see some at the top. These alone took three days since I really cannot stand having to complete more than around 30 at a time. 

Completed jumper
The other deadline on the jumper was getting it ready for handing over at a family gathering on Saturday. It has been much admired, but the recipient hasn't yet worn it. It was far too warm a day.

Next Free Machined project
The main reason to have a weekly list is because I really do tend to prevaricate and could easily run over time on some of the deadlines which are coming up. The FME projects I have been stitching lately don't really need to be completed until the middle of November. However, if they don't get started now I really don't see that the stitching will be completed and the resulting pieces made into anything by then. I completed the blue one shown last time, and have now started the yellow/blue one above. For this one I have added a water soluble fabric over the top with a grid drawn over it to keep the overall design to a reasonable size. I got started with this at a sewing group meeting during the week in Chester. I must remember to find a trolley to hold my sewing machine. It is so heavy to carry anywhere.
Making books
 Another deadline was getting these small book covers completed ready for a NWCQ session on Thursday. In the end I added another three complete books and added stitched pages into the five shown above. They were needed as a fundraiser for the Contemporary Quilt stand at Festival of Quilts. It was nice to be able to hand over eight completed books at the end of the meeting. These are all scraps of my printing experiments bondawebbed to corrugated card which had protected some knitting needles I had ordered online. The pages inside were scrap paper - envelopes for the most part. It is nice to be able to use up items which would otherwise become waste.

New test knit project
This new test knit will be a jumper for me. Knitted from the top down it has a lace yoke which you can see more clearly in the photo underneath. Another deadline, but this one doesn't need to be completed until the middle of September. I still can't afford to let it sit since the yarn is 4ply! It is a much bigger project than the children's jumpers I have been knitting so far.

Showing detail of the lace yoke
I managed to get the deadline muddled on the next piece - the Pinfold Challenge. The Crazy Patchwork piece should have been completed for the August meeting. Most people seem to be making larger quilts making more than one block. One was enough for me. The easel is a miniature one since the quilt is only 6.25 inches across (16cm) and 6.5 inches high (16.5cm).

Completed Crazy Patchwork challenge
I managed to complete the Stowe bag which has been hanging around my workroom for what seems like ages. The bias binding edge was some lovely printed bias I bought a long time ago and never got around to using. Such a useful bag it has now been given to my daughter. It is made in a rather nice denim - a mid weight fabric, not too heavy.

Completed bag
Speaking of bags, I came across this printout in my collection of patterns a few days ago. My circular needles had been getting into rather a mess since I had had to put my fixed needles into another folder which was already full. I used the left over pieces of denim for the main body of the bag and found a pretty blue print for the contrast sections and bias binding. I must remember to take a photo of the finished folder. It is already helping me to make my knitting needles somewhat tidier. Hopefully it will make finding the right size easier too.

New holder for my fixed circular needles
During the week I had a small delivery from Thermofax Screens. Two mini screens of a robin and a bee. I used them to decorate these two shopping bags ready to hold gifts for the family gathering on Saturday. I sprayed the bags first using the acrylic sprays I bought from Lidl some months ago. The motifs were printed using black screen printing ink. Yes, I did remember to put plastic sheet inside the bags as I sprayed and printed them.

Present carrier bags
Earlier this week I travelled to Blakemere for lunch and a wander around. I picked up these items - a vintage pattern from 1976 for my collection, and two large wooden printing blocks. Sadly these haven't photographed very well. I must print with them and show their designs that way.

Lucky find - pattern from 1976

Two new-to-me print blocks
Speaking of lists, I have already written the list for this coming week. So far there are just eleven items listed. This does feel rather too short a list since I started with twenty last time. At the NWCQ meeting I ended up chatting about lists to a friend sitting on the same table. She tends to prioritise hers. I hadn't the heart to own up to having most of the elements on my last list as priorities which had to completed during that week. In the end, I managed to complete nine of them - the ones needed for the family gathering and a couple of other items needed by other people. I'm hoping I might complete the ones I need for myself this week. However, there are some repairs to costumes which must be completed first. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Making progress - but slowly

Found this beautifully marked feather in the garden this week. I just had to rescue it. It looks to have come from the partial albino Blackbird which visits the garden from time to time.

Free machine embroidery under way.
Front view
 The free machine quilting has continued this week with the third of my four pieces now under way. This one is bigger than the previous two being 16" wide by 19" long (40.5cm by 48cm). A useful size, I haven't quite decided what to use it for.

At the moment it looks rather distorted since I haven't added all the stitching yet, as you can see in this photo of the reverse side.
Current back view

The knitting is continuing. I have almost finished the body and am now on the ribbing at the bottom edge.

 The colours make more sense when you see Ella's colouring. I chose her as the inspiration for the colours I used.
Crazy patchwork challenge
My crazy patchwork piece now just needs the edges tidying up and a border added. The cat buttons have been in my collection for rather a long time so it was nice to be able them here.

Sketchbook challenge - MEG
 I have also been adding bits and pieces to my Ideas Book. This was started as a challenge for the MEG group. I really need to get back into feltmaking again, so I added a series of sheep cartoons. I have samples of wool from each of these breeds ready to felt. Since I hadn't got much idea what these breeds looked like, I decided to find out and develop cartoons to help me recognise them. There are many more breeds of sheep than are shown here. This is a project where I still have rather a lot to do, even before I get started with the felting.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Getting busy with my sewing machine and other things

My worktable - such a mess!
It was a surprisingly busy week last week despite some really high temperatures. It all ended with my table looking like this. A real mess. I spent some time getting it tidy again before being able to start anything else.
Pinfold crazy patchwork challenge
As you can see there has been some progress with the crazy patchwork, There is still quite a lot to do. I have collected a number of things which could be added - buttons, beads, lace and a broken zip included. Quite how much of this will be included remains to be seen.

What a mistake!
 I've been doing quite a lot of free machine embroidery. This first one was started after the green piece. I had decided to try and do a kind of all over pattern which wasn't related to the pattern made by the fabric pieces. Without thinking too much about it, I got out the stitch and tear and drew a grid pattern which I could use to develop the pattern I wanted to use. I should have torn off the stitch and tear after sewing the grid........ Instead, I got going on the stitching. Big mistake. I only realised just what I had done when I tried to remove the paper around the first few squares. It took a ridiculously long time, a pair of tweezers and very sore fingers. As a result I removed the paper from around the squares I hadn't yet stitched.
The same piece with the paper removed after stitching 
As you can see if you look closely, there is still plenty of bits of paper waiting to be removed. The following photo is of the first piece I had worked on. For this one I just free machined using the large squares and then infilling the rest. Lots of fun using a variegated thread. You might remember seeing these pieces a few weeks ago when I was making fabric from scraps used in making the packs for my talk coming up in November.
The green one will eventually be made up into a cushion cover. The smaller blue one will turn into a zipped project bag. There are two further pieces which need to be stitched. I have plans for what they might turn into, just haven't got started with them yet.
The green free machine embroidered piece
I still haven't finished work on the two tops which I showed last time. Perhaps next time?

Progress with the knitting
I did get some knitting done, but progress has been slow, probably due to the hot weather earlier this week. At least that is my excuse. I really do need to get on with this one since it needs to be finished by the 7th July.....

Monday, June 19, 2017

Being busy - where does the time go?

Back of the Bronze Oxide shawl

Front of the shawl
 Well, it has been another busy week. I finished the first of my current test knits -the shawl. It is really heavy and should be very cosy for the winter.

I also managed to finish putting together the packs for my talk and workshop later in the year. It may be months early, but at least I won't be getting everything put together at the last minute...... unless there are going to be many more than fifty coming along. I did make sixty, so I'm hoping that will be more than enough. You can see my preparations for this workshop and the packs here.

Starting the colourwork
yarn colours for new test knit
This is going to be an interesting knit. Another jumper for my grand daughter. This one has a design of wolves around the neckline. Called "Wolf in sheeps clothing", it is the first time I have worked with more than one colour at a time using the fairisle technique. There are lots of markers in place helping me to keep track of the design repeats. Not enough completed to be able to show you the design yet, I'm just hoping that the colours I have chosen will do this beautiful design justice. It has been designed by the same person who designed Colibri, which you can see here.

Crazy patchwork challenge
At Pinfold last week we were looking at crazy patchwork. I have barely started decorating mine as you can see. I'm hoping to fit a lot more embroidery in before you see this again. Buttons and things too.
Overlocker ready for action
 My overlocker is out again ready to help me finish the tops I am rebuilding. You can see the fabric for the two tops here. The front and back are now stitched together at the shoulders, waiting for me to get on with adding the cap sleeves and sorting out the binding for around the neck. Hopefully it will be ready to wear very soon now. I really could do with some more summery tops before the summer vanishes again......
Front view

Back view

Monday, June 12, 2017

Getting back to the sewing

Discharge printed fabric
Same piece overprinted

After finishing the last post I continued with more block printing. Great fun.
The discharged piece didn't come out very well. I have now disposed of the paste I was using since I think it really must have been too old. I shall try again one day. I overprinted the piece.

My worktable has now been cleared ready for sewing once more. I made the mistake of putting all the projects I intend working on over the top..... Needless to say the worktop is cluttered as you can see in the first photo.

From the left - a bag I need to sew together. It is the Stowe Bag from Grainline Studio. A project bag, this is a trial run for a gift. This will be made out of denim and sits on top of a collection of bits and pieces which need quilting.

The next pile along is a collection of my printed fabrics. I intend making small book covers out of these. There is a wide variety of fabrics in the mix here.

To the right of the printed fabric is a woolen skirt which is just waiting for some elastic to go around the waist. It is far too warm to wear this now, so it will be put away for the cold weather at the end of the year.

The next pile along is a bag pattern which came free with a magazine recently. I intend using this pattern with some of the fabric which I need to quilt first. Does this all begin to make some kind of sense?

The next pile along is the MEG colour challenge which still hasn't been started. I am still toying with one or two ideas, but haven't decided which to go for.

Above the bag pattern is a small pile of jersey fabric which is the first project I intend to complete. These are the two tops I mentioned last time. I just need to get my overlocker threaded with a more appropriate colour. It is currently holding red thread. Definitely not the right colour.

The last pile is this collection - The fabric is for the blouse. There are buttons to match. I really fancy making the waistcoat and trousers too. I haven't yet found the right fabric for the trousers. I've also got ideas on giving the waistcoat some sleeves and turning it into a jacket.

Oh yes, then there are the knitting projects. I won't bore you with those. There are currently just three.

Did I tell you I really would like to get some feltmaking done? I think that will just have to wait until some of these projects have been cleared off my table. Unless there is some more nice weather and I can start working outside.................... 

Perhaps that isn't such a good idea. I might not get any of these projects finished.

Enough prevaricating. I'd better get on with rethreading the overlocker. 

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Printing and knitting

My own blocks

My own blocks

Wooden print blocks

Wooden block prints
 Here are some of the pieces I have been printing over the past couple of days. I have also been experimenting with discharge printing, but photos will have to wait until after I have ironed and washed the pieces since I have no idea whether it will have worked. I did try the discharge paste with a piece of black fabric a few days ago, but nothing happened. Apparently this does happen with some fabrics even when they are cotton. I think it depends on the dye originally used. It probably doesn't help that I have had this paste for some little while...... For this second experiment I have used a piece of my own procian dyed fabric as well as a piece of painted fabric.

I really enjoy messing around with my collection of print blocks. I plan to have a further session this week using my gelliplate and screens. I'd like to have a go at using a resist. A friend showed some work she had done at a workshop using a resist. It has prompted me to have a go myself. I'd like to get some more printing done before I tidy up my workroom ready to get some sewing done.

Printboards ready for more printing.
My printboards are getting to look more interesting with all the work I have done over the past couple of days.

Experimental piece
 As you can see, my experimental piece of knitting is coming along nicely. I think this will probably end up being a cushion cover. Just four more of the small squares to knit and then knit onto the bigger section. I still have to decide what to do about a border.

Test knitting - Bronze Oxide
The shawl is coming along quite well. I am looking forward to seeing what the whole thing will look like. I did finish the little knitted skirt. It looks rather sweet. I added some little wooden flower buttons from my button collection. Yes, I have a large collection of buttons along with the fabric stash and the thread..........

Monday, May 29, 2017

Back again!

Completed Cocoon Coat


side view

collar detail
 Well. as you can see, I finally finished my cocoon coat. Just in time for the hot weather to appear! I shall put this away safely ready for the chill weather to arrive in the Autumn. It will be a really cosy jacket to wear. I was pleased with the way it all went together. The original design has the sleeves ending at the tartan. I like my sleeves to end at my wrist, so I added the extra section.

washed fabric pieces
 Yesterday I found two really interesting fabrics. Some really soft jersey fabric. They were part of garments in a charity shop which were really way too big for me. So I have cut the tops apart and washed them. I shall make these up into summery tops for myself in the next few days.

Button It Up Skirt
These next two knitting projects are test knits I have got myself involved with. The first will end up as a toddler's knitted skirt. The colour is a rather nice sage green. I seem to be using this colour a lot in the things I have been making over the past twelve months or so. The yarn is an acrylic aran.
Bronze Oxide
This second project is, or rather will be, a shawl. The colours are cream, light grey, pink and burgundy. 

Both are really interesting projects and I shall share the details of the designer when the patterns are published later in the year. They are part of a collection which is well worth waiting for.