Books · crafting · embroidery · Knitting

Sunday’s crafts – 6th October

Another nice long Sunday of crafts this weekend, because I’m doubly blessed with a rainy day and engineering works on the trains. I went to the next town along yesterday to watch Judy at the pictures. I’d really like to see it again but its only on for less than a week. I’m telling you that is the best film I’ve seen this year, its so sad but Renee Zellweger is incredible and the ending… my god if you’re not in tears at the end you’re a stone. I’ve also decided I want Judy’s last hair cut. So we’ll see how well taking a picture of Judy Garland into the hairdresser goes…

Anyway, that’s yesterday. I’ve been fairly productive this weekend.

Two large snoods listed in my Etsy shop and another off in the post,

I’ve been neglecting my Etsy shop quite a lot this year because I’m supposed to be concentrating on my City & Guilds in Hand Embroidery but I’ve managed to be behind with that all year too. Another rod to beat myself with.

So here is today’s entertainment. I always start at bottom left and work my way round clockwise. I’ve done one full round of these today already which is pretty good going for me, because I’m typing this at about half two and I’ve been up town to do a bit of boring shopping. I’m wandering off track.

First is the Eren jumper that I’m making for The Mister out of pure local alpaca yarn. It comes from Pennybridge Farm which is about a 15 minute drive away from where I live. The yarn is beautiful, its so soft and has a lovely halo without being at all prickly. I think its going to get even softer with washing. I can honestly say this is one of the nicest yarns I’ve ever knitted with.

I don’t know how well you can see it in this picture but the yarn has very slight tonal variations that don’t show in the garment but you do notice as you knit with it. Its just delightful, there are just once in a while little slightly darker patches in the blend, only for a stitch or two. Beautiful.

Maybe you can see it better here. Its definitely going to benefit from a blocking when it’s done because my tension changes from knitting in rows to where you knit the body in the round.

I’m really enjoying knitting this, this is the first garment I’ve made for him so I really want to make a good job of it.

Next is my current read. It’s been a while since I read F but that doesn’t really matter with these books. To be honest I think it’s better to leave a bit of a gap in between them or they’d get a bit samey. That’s not to say they’re not great books, they are. I’m loving this and I’m rationing myself to my usual 50 pages a day or I’d have this finished in a day or two. Its such an easy read and perfect for commuting or when you’ve only got time to read a few pages. A lot happens and there’s not much quiet time for Kinsey.

Here’s my cross stitch sample for my City & Guilds in hand embroidery, my own design. I’m really not a fan of counted thread embroidery so this is a right pain in the bum for me. I’m just not into all that counting and repeating the same stitch over and over. Oh and yes, I do know I shouldn’t leave my needle like that. I’m a low level rebel.

I am more than a bit worried I’m not going to complete this course in the time given.

Here’s a source of self-inflicted pain. I signed up to the Joji Locatelli sweater KAL because I’ve wanted to make the v-neck boxy forever (feels like) and so here it is. Or isn’t because I’m about to frog this for the second time. I’ve stuffed up the short rows and I want to switch from wraps and turns to German short rows. I’ve seen loads of pictures of people that have finished theirs and I’m starting again from scratch and haven’t made it to the shoulder ribbing yet.

This will be October’s GinPoodle. I haven’t cast it on yet. All I’ve done for this so far today is choose the yarn. I have a lot of donated acrylic to get through, I know it’s plastic and therefore bad but its better to knit what I have than let it go to landfill. I want to stop buying acrylic yarn in the future so one day the GinPoodles will be all natural but I don’t think that will happen for quite some time. In the meantime here is the current line up –

That’s all from me, I’ve got a massive stack of ironing to get though, a full laundry basket to wash and I want to move house this year so I need to clear out my wardrobe and cupboard and tidy up thing like my yarn stash because right now this place looks like it’s full of my stuff and I need to get it all out of sight. Its not a task I enjoy but I’ll feel 10lbs lighter when I’ve done it.

crafting · crochet · embroidery · Etsy · Knitting

Sunday Crafts update

Here is my plan for today. Every Sunday I choose a maximum of six projects to work on for the day and work on them in rotation, either in one-hour blocks or for the length of whatever podcast I’m watching on YouTube, because Sunday is also the day when I binge watch podcasts and Sewing Quarter. I start at the bottom left corner and go round in a clockwise direction. If I finish something I can replace it with another project. I’ll go into each project in more detail below but so far today we have:

The PPS shawl – by Louise Tilbrook
Three snood orders to pack up ready to post
My current book – Lady Audley’s Secret
A black snood
A marker to remind me to do my embroidery coursework
Shell Cottage socks – by Curious Handmade

I actually cast on this shawl when I was on holiday in Crete in June, then I came home and neglected it a bit. I am the sort of person that has a million projects on the go all at once which means slow progress on pretty much everything but there’s no deadline on enjoying yourself is there? Who cares if it takes forever.

I’m using my gorgeous little bird yarn bowl from Little Wren designs – who sells on Etsy and she has these in several colours. The colour has not come out brilliantly well in this picture – this is a really cute sandy yellow in real life.

Here is my progress so far, as you can see I’ve finished the first set of stripes and things are looking pretty good so far. I’ve started the shaping for the main single colour part of the shawl and that’s coming along nicely though I’ve realised I have made my usual mistake of doing slightly too tight yarn overs for the increases but thankfully it hasn’t ruined the shape and a bit of blocking will sort it out if need be.

This is a great pattern and really enjoyable to knit.

Here’s a close up of the yarn – the stripes are a mini set from Manos del Uruguay, they’re the silk blend Fino and I bought mine from Interknit Café at a local monthly artisan market but she also sells online and had several other colours when I bought mine but she was expecting them to sell out fairly quickly

The main colour was a silk blend from Once Upon a Time Skeins who sadly has stopped dying to sell but I believe she still has a few skeins on Etsy of other colours and fibres. Her colours are beautiful, this one is a gorgeous eau de nil lightly flecked with blue, yellow and pink.

I’m using my Knitpro Zings, I mainly like them because of the colours – I find the join between the needle and the cable can be a bit harsh but this metallic lime green goes so well with my colour 2 stripe that I don’t care.

I love this stitch marker, I bought a set of these from Wild & Woolly in London, which is currently my favourite bricks and mortar shop. The owner is such a nice woman, though I’ve only managed to visit a couple of times myself to be honest. These stitch markers were part of a multi coloured set that are all stamped with different stitch abbreviations so that you know what it is you’re supposed to be doing when you get to them. Brilliant.

Not much to say here except that the postage and packing element of an order takes a fair bit of time in itself, but once these are all labelled up and in my bag to take to the post office tomorrow I’ll replace these with another craft project.

These poly bags are plastic so not ideal but they are recycled. I did use brown paper for a while but I was really worried that one day a customer would cut right through the snood when they cut open the package. I want to find an economic degradable version of these poly bags but if I can’t I’ll move back to brown paper and swallow my fear.

Next up is my current read. I’d never heard of this author before buying this book. This is utterly gripping, it’s a Victorian ‘sensation’ novel. It might even be THE Victorian sensation novel, it was hugely popular in it’s day and would make a brilliant tv serial drama. Lady Audley is not all she at first seems to be, there’s not much mystery here in that you pretty much know what she’s up to from quite early on but its the way her secrets are gradually unravelled that makes it so completely gripping. I’d say this is one of the best books I’ve read this year out of the 25 I’ve read so far.

I read 50 pages a day so when I’ve hit that target I can replace the book with a craft project.

A black snood. Always there is a black snood on my hook. This particular hook is my much beloved Lyn Roberts silver hook, bought at Yarnporium 2018. It never leaves the house but it is the only hook I will use to make snoods when I am at home. I LOVE it. I do like making black snoods but I also like a bit of variety in my life so I probably don’t make anywhere near as many of them as I should. Plus I’ve scaled down dramatically the number of snoods I’m making this year so that I can get on with my embroidery coursework.

Speaking of which – this I my placemarker to remind me to actually get on and do some of my embroidery coursework.

I feel like I am quite behind with it but I only have one and a bit modules to complete. I think I’ll be able to finish this current module by the early part of October but I’m still worried that I won’t have time to complete the one after that in time for the end of the course, which I think is November. I need to check that really but I’m scared of the answer.

I’m plotting out a counted stitch chart today which I’ve made harder by having the wrong sort of graph paper.

Last but far from least are my Shell Cottage socks. These were the first pair of socks in this year’s Curious Handmade Sock Society. I haven’t finished a pair yet and I think we’re on the fourth pattern release now. That’s alright.

This project bag is from Flying Tiger when they did their £2 sale earlier this year. Nice isn’t it?

Its a good roomy bag, plenty of room for your socks, pattern, yarn and notions. There are a couple of pockets inside and some of those ring things to feed yarn through which I never use.

See how I’ve artfully draped my yarn across the repeat where I knitted an extra row. Actually I think I did that on another repeat a bit closer to the cuff. See also how little I care.

So here we are, warts and all.

I think I like the Curious Handmade patterns best of all because she literally writes out everything row by row, and you get a percentage in the right margin to let you know how far along you are. Its simply brilliant.

I’m knitting these on my Addi Crasy Trios which are my favourite needles for socks and the yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Signature sock. Good old WYS, you can’t go wrong really can you and they have the best solids.

So that’s it for today. I’m happy to report it’s absolutely piddling down outside so I’m staying in and enjoying myself with a ton of coffee and toast. I hope you’re loving your day too. x

Books · crafting · crochet · Dieting · embroidery · Etsy · Knitting · Shopping · wittering

New Year’s Resolutions

Yeah I know, they’re a bit tragic but I’m doing it anyway.

  1. Read at least 34 books this year.  Easy peasy, I’m on Goodreads so I’ve set myself a reading challenge.  Click here to see how I’m doing.  Right now I’m doing fantastically well, I have read no books yet this year and I’m apparently bang on target.
  2. Lose 20kgs.  Thought I’d chuck in the traditional fat bum challenge.  Though my bum isn’t actually that fat I have spotted a bit of thigh bulge today that has to be got rid of immediately if not sooner.  Then once I’ve lost 20kgs I’ll still want to lose another 10.  Then perhaps another 5.  We’ll see. I work for a law firm and the cakeage is immense and I loathe exercising so this one is a bit challenging. I also hate exercise clothes and seriously object to any heel lower than a kitten heel.  Keep thinking about taking up running but I also very much dislike outdoorsiness. And running.
  3. Do more embroidery.  I very rarely sew. Its the one thing I absolutely love doing and yet I hardly ever do it because I used to hand sew for a living and now I don’t and it may sound pathetic but its quite emotional for me and I’m a bit frightened I’ve lost all my skills. So much as I’ve amassed a huge quantity of yarn and patterns and stuff I’m going to scale back the knitting and crochet (except for snoods and Gin Poodles of course) and get back into embroidery.  I had a small test piece framed a few years ago and the framers asked me if I’d like to make more for them to sell.  So I might not be a complete ham-fisted duffer.
  4. Stop buying mass-produced junk.  You know that ‘make it, don’t buy it’ idea floating around at Christmas? Well I’m going to stop buying things from major chains and only buy handmade wherever possible.  I’ve had my last clothes shopping spree in 2016 so from now on I’m going to make my own clothes, at least they’ll fit properly and I won’t bump into anyone else wearing the same thing. I can try out embroidery on my own cuffs and that too can’t I? I’ve got a sewing machine up in the loft and I expect that is where it will stay because I don’t really like sewing machines.  Hand made clothes last longer because they’re better and every stitch is beautiful. I’m not expecting anyone else to agree or even see the simple beauty of a white cotton tacking stitch or go into ecstasy over a button hole, but your loss and all that.
  5. New Etsy shop. Once I’ve got my fingers back to being able to pick up with a needle a single thread in any fabric without looking I’ll be able to produce work worth selling. These are not going to sit well with super kitsch knitted poodle bottle cosies or even lovely vintage style hair accessories so they’ll need their own space.

Five resolutions are enough.

6. Oh but hang on. Food. Must stop eating things that make me ill, like fried things, fatty things, dairy, and eggs.  A doctor told me years ago that the odd sensation of my throat going all thick and gagging for hours after eating isn’t really normal and should be avoided. Spose he might have a point.

7. Bugger it I’ve thought of another.  I have a half brother somewhere.  Not even sure what his name is but I should find him in case he’s the head of membership of a major ballet company or something and can get me a hefty discount.

 

Beading · crafting · embroidery · sewing

Today I’m Making… Embroidered roses with beads

You might remember the lovely workshop I did a while back where I made the scissor dangle thing? Well, I really liked making the bullion knot roses so when I finished that my head was full of ideas of images I could embroider filling in with hundreds of bullion knot roses and french knots.

Finally I have made something. I had to come up with a birthday present for someone I don’t know brilliantly well but I didn’t want to just buy a scented candle like I usually would, I wanted to make something. Fingers crossed she’ll appreciate it took up most of my weekend making it and I’m not just being cheap.  I found the picture frame in TK Maxx, they always have gorgeous frames in there and the prices are very good.  This one I think is supposed to look like a vintage plate that has been made into a frame.

I had intended to use the gorgeous De Havilland silks I bought at Ally Pally but in the first place I could only find one hank in the wrong colour and then it didn’t work for making the roses, it all just tangled up hideously and I had to cut it out.

In the end I went for ordinary DMC in three colours – red, maroon and hot pink. I think another time I’d go for a variegated thread because it gives a better result than a block colour for flowers, but I did use a variegated coral for the french knots and that worked out really well.

wpid-fb_img_14045965428401398.jpg

I started off by couching a double row of metallic blue thread, then I sewed the line of beads on individually, I did think about stringing them on to a thread and couching those on too but I prefer to sew them on one by one. After that I couched on another double row of metallic blue.  If I were to make another one of these I think I’d do this outside edge last because I was worried I’d catch the blue thread and ruin it as I made the roses.

wpid-img_20140706_093238.jpg

The fabric I was sewing on to is white with a white floral print which was handy to use as a random template to fill with the roses, rose buds and leaves. Making something look random is really hard, I think I have a roughly even colour distribution of roses and buds but I hope it doesn’t look too much like it is.

Here it is, the finished thing all mounted up. The mounting is the part that causes me the most stress but it seems to have worked out OK and I haven’t smashed any of the glass beads under the glass.

wpid-20140706_171646.jpg

I wanted this to have a vintage look, as if it had been upcycled from a 50’s boudoir set. I think that has worked out quite well personally. Though now that I’ve made this I realise my ideas about embroidering shapes filled in with bullion knot roses was a bit ambitious, I don’t think I could bear it, but it has reminded me how much I like doing french knots so I’ll be doing a lot more of those.

 

embroidery

Learning a new skill – broderie anglais

I LOVE a workshop. I booked up as many as I could at this March’s Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia. That is my favourite craft fair all year, its smaller than Ally Pally but not so mad and its in a more visitor friendly location, I think.  What I’m rubbish at is finishing off the projects I start in the workshops, but I really want to get into doing more handsewing so I made an effort to complete this one and here it is!

wpid-20140504_184504.jpg Its gorgeous isn’t it? Its a broiderie anglais lavender bag.  Not really the colours I would have chosen and probably not a design I would have gone for either and I know its a bit wonky but its a first attempt and I love it.

The workshop was run by Bella Lane, who runs embroidery workshops in Battersea, London. Do have a look at her website please, you’ll like it, its full of lovely images.  http://www.bembroidery.co.uk/

Bella herself is lovely, she’s a great teacher, her instructions are very clear and the kits she provided were fantastic.  There was more than enough thread, fabric and lavender to finish it all off. The only thing I added was some red ribbon to use as a hanging thread.

The instructions were really easy to follow – I think I could have made this even if I hadn’t attended the workshop to start me off. Have a look at the picture on the instructions and then have a look at my finished version at the start again to see just how wonky my one is!

wpid-20140502_135343.jpgwpid-20140502_135747.jpg

 

Now all I need to do is come up with a design of my own to stitch, I do have a big project in mind but I am toying with the idea of using this to show a different backing colour fabric for something.  Its just a vague idea at the moment….

Here are the rest of the pictures from where I started it to the finish.

The first two holes, the top one was the first and is a bit ropey, by the second hole I’d got more of a feel for it.

wpid-20140502_135430.jpg

I’ve really got cracking with it by now and let me tell you it is a lovely thing to do, from twisting out the holes to the oversewing its all a delight.

wpid-img_20140502_170139.jpg

Eek! Scary cutting out bit.

wpid-img_20140502_222607.jpg

 All cut out and trimmed off.

 wpid-20140503_115416.jpg

 An unforgiving close-up!

wpid-20140504_184513.jpg

wpid-20140504_184504.jpg

 Happiness