Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Drop Stitch Scarf

Behold, another scarf to add to my growing box full. Just finished this morning, this scarf was started as a holiday project for a recent trip away. I needed something to take for the down time that we would have. I had agonised over what to take. It needed to be small, easy, with not too much thinking, no taking of reference books or patterns, but something creative enough that I would not get bored with it. It also need to be something that I could see easily without magnifiers and extra lighting. Some places the lighting can be so poor.

I decided on a simple drop stitch knitting pattern. It is only plain knitting in garter stitch, with the yarn winds varying between the stitches, thus giving the end result a wavy look. I had used this pattern twice before, once in a variegated cashmere yarn, and once combing a textured variegated yarn with a plain.  It was a pattern that I could  commit to memory.

For this one I gathered together three yarns of different colours that went together. The white and the light blue are  Paytons Embrace, a 2 ply of  90% Merino , 10%  Silk. The darker blue/mauve is a Shepherd Baby Wool Merino, a 100% wool in 4 ply, left over from knitting socks. I wasn't sure how the different plies would react together, but they have worked brilliantly.

I had decided for this one that I would knit it sideways. I have never knitted sideways before, but it is just the same as knitting upwards. All I had to do was cast on more stitches. I had needles and cables long enough from when I knitted this baby shawl, so now was the time to put them to use.

My original intention was to do a normal flat scarf, but halfway through I decided to join the sides together to make it tubular. I had lots of ends hanging from where I changed colour, so these just became the tassel at the ends. As I only changed colour every second row, the hanging threads were only at one end, so to make a tassel at the other end I just cut lengths of yarn and added them in with a crochet hook.

All in all I am very happy with my new scarf. It fitted the initial criteria perfectly, and will help to keep me warm when the colder weather arrives in a few months time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

'Holiday House" - A Challenge

At last I can finally reveal another finish. This one was a challenge for Stitchers Plus, a creative stitching group that I belong to. Our challenge was to stitch a house, any type of house, it was our interpretation. They must all be on the same angle as well. Please note the angle at the base, it is not 90 deg. The idea was that all the houses could be placed in a line to form " Thread Needle Street", and the angle would make the street curve and make an interesting display.

At the time the challenge was handed out, my mind was in a whirl, but went straight to our holiday house on the beautiful Mid North Coast. That afternoon when I came home and Googled 'Houses', I found soooooooooo much inspiration! There were tree houses, beach houses, colonial houses, Australian houses, Victorian houses, gee........... I could go on forever! In the end I went with my original thought.

The finished piece is in reality nothing like our holiday house. There are certain similarities, but not a lot. I played with a photograph of the front of the building, cut it down, eliminated lines, changed angles etc etc. It was meant to be a creative piece, and I was only after inspiration.

I have played with pulled thread stitches in this piece. I have wanted to play with pulled work for quite some time, and this was the first time in colour. It is interesting how the eye sees colour first, so the texture of the stitches used can be a little lost. I think I have managed to keep the texture, using certain stitches in certain directions to give certain effects. The colour changes also adds some light and shade. giving some dimension. I still think the piece needs some more dimension though. I wanted to put some plants in the garden and some window pots, but time got the better of me. I might still add them now, but we will see. It means pulling the piece apart to add them in I think,  and I am not sure I want to do that just yet.

Our group now has another challenge going on for next year,2015, but more about that further down the track. In the meantime I have plenty of other stitching to keep me busy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Colourful Socks

Another pair of socks finished. This is pair number four, and will have to wait for next winter to be worn. At least I will be ready for when those cold days hit in about six months time.

This pair is using the same pattern leaflet from Paytons that I used before, in a Lincraft 4ply Lullaby 100% wool. It is a variegated yarn, and I found it interesting how the colours changed when the decrease to the ankle stared.

What more can I say? They are socks, they will be good to keep my feet & ankles warm next winter, & yes, I made them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Lace Bookmark

Behold, my latest finish! A Bedfordshire Lace bookmark.

This little book mark started as a filler. I really wanted to continue my lessons from Pamella Nottingham's " Bedforshire Lacemaking" book. I am up to lesson 5, and rather than just doing a sample like I had done with the other four, I wanted to make a finished piece. So I decided to continue the edge around in a square, and when finished, I would mount it on some handkerchief linen. So I made my pricking, and  tried in on for size on my lace pillow. Immediately I could foresee problems. Yes, the pricking did fit, but it was flat, and my pillow is dome shaped. I could cut the center out to make it fit better, and as the edge has a scalloped footside as well as a scalloped head side, the finished  lace could be moulded flat when I mounted it to linen. Mmmmm...........  But the edge of the pricking came very close to the edge of my pillow, and I knew this would drive me crazy when working it. So I invested in another pillow, a bigger  square one with 9 blocks that I can swap around as needed. This would take time to arrive, and I wanted to do some more lace now!

So while waiting for my new pillow to arrive, I looked through and found this book mark pattern. Could I do it? I thought I could, it was plaits and tallies, and I knew how to do those, so I went about making my pricking.

Step 1. Make pricking - note to self - to consider the colour of thread to be used up against the colour of the pricking when choosing the colour of the contact. Remember to use a contrasting colour !

Step 2. Wind bobbins - how many do I wind? Oooops - not mentioned on the pattern, I would have to work it out!

Step 3. Work out the working order and how to start so I can calculate how many bobbins to wind Mmmmm........... next question - this wasn't on the pattern either and I had no idea how to start!

Luckily I am a member of a few on-line lace groups, so I put the question out there. One of the ladies on this group very kindly sent me a diagram and some notes to help get me started. My thanks go out the her ( she knows who she is). As a result, I could work my book mark above.

It is far from perfect, but I am proud of it. My tallies are different sizes, but they did get better as I progressed. My picots are all wrong, but hey, they are there. I was having problems with them and could not get the tension right. Then when I showed it to some real lace-makers, some comments I received had me going back to refresh how to do them. It was only then that  I realized that I had done them wrong. No winder they didn't tension right!

Oh well, it is finished and very usable. It has served me well in being a filler while waiting for my new pillow, as well as giving me some good practice and revision lessons. Now this one is finished, and my new pillow has arrived. So my handkerchief edging is happening as I write. Watch this space!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cabled Socks

Yet another pair of socks finished. This makes the third pair this year & I have now started pair number four. This pair, and the pair I am making now, will have to wait until next winter before they can be worn. The weather has warmed up too much for woollen socks.

This pair feature cables, and have been knitted in Lincraft Lullaby, a four ply 100% wool. The cables should make them thicker around the shins so they should be warm when the snow next decided to fall. Hopefully that will be about eight months away. At least I will be ready with a supply  nice warm socks to wear.

I have actually enjoyed knitting socks, they really are not that hard. The next pair are another plain pair with a variegated yarn, but I would really like to make some lace ones, so watch this space!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pretty Socks

Behold, my latest finish. Another pair of socks to add to my winter warmers drawer .

These are my first pretty pair, and  have been knitted with  'Araucania', a 4 ply sock yarn from the UK, though I did buy it in Australia. It is 75% wool and 25% polyamide, and supposed to wear better than 100% wool. I may still  get to wear them this winter, we have had some cold days just earlier this week.

On the note about 100% wool socks not wearing well, my last pair have been worn twice and  as yet no holes, not even an inkling of a hole. So much for the young sales assistants theory, just a sales pitch in my honest opinion. They are very warm and  soft to wear, and  great for those days when the temperature fails to reach 14 deg.

 My next pair will be another pretty pair, this time with cables. Watch this space!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Socks! - Still More Winter Warmers

Behold, some more  warming winter woolies! This time it is socks.

I have knitted socks before, just one pair, and a sample back when I was studying full time . The one pair were made over 30 years ago for my DH, and the sample was part of a Fine Needlework subject of the Fashion Certificate course that I did nearly 40 years ago. The purpose was to learn how to turn a heel & graft the toe.
These socks are for me, made in  Shepherd Baby Wool Merino, a 100% wool 4 ply. I have been told by various sources that socks should be made from a yarn that has a percentage of a man-made fibre to make them stronger & last longer. One very young sales assistant told me that pure wool socks will go into holes after two wears. Interesting. So I asked an acquaintance of mine form one of my stitching groups who is a member of the Knitters Guild, D____ found out that yes socks can be made from 100% wool. Even more interesting.

My theory now is that it must depend upon the yarn quality. After all, I am sure all the socks knitted a century ago would have been in pure wool. Yes, I am sure they went into holes, that's why there are lots of stories about darning of socks. Maybe the sales assistants of today don't know how to darn, or couldn't be bothered. Obviously the yarn manufactures have worked out a better way to make them last longer, and make them prettier. Some of the sock yarns out today are very clever & stunning when knitted up.

I am now knitting another pair, this time in a pretty coloured speciality sock yarn. It will be interesting to note the difference between the two.

I am also hoping to get to wear them at least once this year. We are still in mid winter, but the forecast for this coming week will be more like spring. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lace Fish Finally Finished!

Yeh! He's finally finished! My bobbin lace fish that has been on my lace pillow for such a loooooooong time! I won't say how long, but all my lace friends know exactly how long he has been on there.

He was supposed to go on a lovely trip overseas quite some time ago, but was not finished in time. There was even supposed to be a second one,  mirrored, so that I could join them together to make a 3D fish with padding in the middle. Mmmmm............. yeah right.................

He is made with Guttermann 100% cotton sewing thread, a  Guttermann metallic thread, and a DMC variegated Special Dentelles 80 thread. Consequently lots of joining in, leaving out, sewings, & ends to finish off. His eye is a tally, which is cringe worthy in the lace world, but I am happy with mine. The orange half stitch 'scales' leave a bit to be desired though. I personally think half stitch is cringe worthy, but then again this is the first time I have done half stitch in 15 years. Maybe I just need more practice.

It was such a learning experience, and there are mistakes everywhere, but he is finished & I am proud to say I have made him.

So now that my lace pillow is free, what's next? Hopefully a  beautiful Bedfordshire handkerchief edging. I have thread & fabric ready to go, my pricking is nearly ready, then I have to wind some bobbins & I will be in business!Watch this space.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Some More Winter Warmers

Behold, another pair of gloves.

After knitting the last pair, and finding them so comfortable & warm, I wanted some more, in a different colour & style of course. I had been checking our local Lincraft store for some more of the same yarn, but it took a while to come in. When it did, I grabbed some more colours.

With this pair I didn't want the fancy lace pattern of before, I wanted to de-construct the pattern into a plain stocking stitch one, so then I could change it again to whatever I want. This is the plain stocking stitch version, with a little moss stitch cuff. I wanted to try out different cuff versions as I am not fussed with ribs. Although ribs are functional, I want something different.

My next pair will be different again. I will use this de-constructed pattern, but add in a little more style. So watch this space to see what's next!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Winter Warmers

My new gloves are finally finished! This pair were born after finishing this  scarf . I had originally bought three balls of yarn,  Paytons Embrace, a 2 ply of  90% Merino , 10%  Silk. Beautiful yarn! So soft and warm. The original purchase was for a scarf, which is what I did, but I only used half of the yarn and I still had a ball and a half left. What do do with it? I could make another scarf, but how many green scarves do I need, even if they are different patterns? So then my mind went to matching gloves.

 I had made gloves before, but they were in 4 ply and this was a 2 ply. So the hunt began for a pattern. I found a few old ones on the net, but they were fingerless, and I wanted my fingers warm too. I figured if the crunch came, I could have a go of adding some fingers in. It would mean some experimentation and I thought I could do it if I set my mind. Before I tackled this task though I asked some of the ladies at one of my stitching groups, one of which produced this pattern, which came from a book " A Gathering of Lace" by Meg Swansen.

I would class myself as an experienced knitter, but these gloves would have to be  the hardest thing I have done. Worked on 2mm double pointed needles, with a patterned rib thrown in for good measure, and the beginning half rib, half pattern. The pattern certainly took me for a ride, but they do fit well, look pretty, and best of all keep my hands warm.

They are finally finished, and ready for winter. I also still have just over a ball of yarn left, so what to do with that. I could knit another scarf as a gift for someone, or I could adapt the glove  pattern to make a pair that would match my scarf. Mmmmmm........................... food for thought, which way to turn? Watch this space!

Monday, May 05, 2014

Digitizing Fun

My first dragonfly I have digitized! It's also the first thing I have fully digitized in my new digitizing program, about three weeks worth of playing and learning.

It all started a few weeks back, when unbeknown to me, DH and DS2 decided to upgrade my PC to Windows 8. There was talk in the background about buying stuff, but it was computer stuff, and I wasn't really interested or taking much notice. Then one day just before Easter, DS2 started asking about my digitizing program, what it was and what version it was. Why the sudden interest? Mmmmmm........ it was not going to work on the new Windows 8 that they had ready to install on my PC! I had spent $$$$$ on this program, so it had to work! So I asked in at my local dealer, and of course the girls in there did not know, but they gave me the phone number for Bernina head office. I rang when I got home and got told that I had to talk to a particular person who was currently interstate at a quilt fair. They would pass on my details, and I was assured this person would ring me back. Come the next day, still no answer, so I rang again. I got to talk to another person who also told me that the person currently interstate was the best person to talk to. While I was on the phone to her, there was another call coming through. Guess who!

I had a great chat to this girl, who told me that an upgrade for my program to the latest version had just been released, and yes, she assured me it would work on Windows 8. There was still better news, it was on special for Mothers Day! The price was certainly good, about half the price quoted to me over 12 months previously for an upgrade to the previous version. I certainly was a happy little  vegemite! How did I get this? Ring my local dealer of course.

After many phone calls, and to cut a long story short, this upgrade was purchased, paid for, in my house and  installed on my PC by late that afternoon, without me having to leave the house! I give thanks to the girls at my local dealership (especially Anna), Bernina Australia, and  DS2 who made it all happen.

Now for the program itself. When it opened for the first time, I thought "what is this?". It looked all new. But once I sat down, read the manual, and spent some time playing, everything that I knew from my old program was still there, just in a slightly different format. There is heaps of other stuff that is new as well, stuff that I have yet to play with and learn. After playing for a little while, I thought that the only way to learn where everything was, was to actually digitize something. That's when my dragon fly was born.

Anyone who digitizes knows that the process takes some time. I wanted to get the stitch order right to eliminate too many colour changes, and avoid jump stitches that were too long. As I worked on all of this, I found all my stitch  fills, my "Cut Holes" tool, I created my own pattern fills, found the colour film, and the slow re-draw. All these things were what I was used to using, and  there is so much more!  There are contour fills now,  ( which I used on my dragonfly tail)   ripple fills, wave effects and star effects. I did use the wave effect on my dragon fly to get the ridges in his wings just where I wanted them. There is a stamping tool where I can stamp single patterns into a design just where I want them. I can also create my own stamps. There is a carving stamp ( which is different from a stamp) which I think will create sculptured fills, and yes, I can create my own. There is monogramming, stump work, morphing, and punch work, all things that are new to me. Last but not least there is a hooping canvas, where I can split a large design into numerous hoopings, allowing me to stitch it out so the sections meet back together to make one large design. This to me sounds scary, but something I have to try.

So my dragon fly is finally finished being digitized. The stitching order and colour order is correct to how I want them, and any jump stitches hopefully will be hidden under the body of the dragon fly and caught down. The next test will be to stitch him out, and that will hopefully happen in the next few days.

So what now? Playing with all the new features of course. My first play was with the monogramming tool. This is awesome! Would I put monograms on anything? Maybe, maybe not. My mind is racing to other applications, such as creating blocks for quilts minus the initials of course. Watch this space!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Teneriffe Doiley

Behold! My latest finish! A Teneriffe lace doiley just for me!

This little doily was started because I wanted something to take to a lace meeting one day. I had already done one similar a few years back, but it had been made especially for a friend and had been given away. At the time it was the first time I had joined the circular motifs into a bigger piece, and I promised myself I would do another one for me.

So here it is, finished and complete! Made using DMC Cordonnet Special thread No 80, I have used the same sized wheel & base pattern as the previous one, just changing the weaving pattern within the wheels themselves. I have also worked scallops in detached buttonhole stitch around the edge to finish it off, where the last one I used a crocheted edge.

It has taken me some time, each little wheel takes about a week if I do nothing else. We all know I have been knitting.......... and stitching...........and knitting...........and stitching, so this little doily has taken over 12 months to complete.

Now I want to go bigger, something oval I think, just to be different. Watch this space!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Knitting Up Some Extra Warmth

The knitting bug has had me caught over the last few months, in between the crazy patchwork embellishment, a new piece of tenneriffe lace, my pulled and drawn sampler, and  a project for Stitchers Plus.

First up is my new wrap. This began in October last year when I walked into a little habby shop while on holidays. The buisiness was for sale, and  everything was marked down. I walked out with a lovely hank of "Centolavaggi", a 100%, merino wool,  lace weight yarn from Italy. I had no idea what I would do with it, just a scarf of some kind. Also on the same day, I visited a tiny little, church run, second - hand shop, & walked out with a baby knitting book ( minus the cover) for all of 20c. Inside was a pattern for a circular baby shawl in feather & fan. My theory was that if I used larger needles, I could do 1/2 of the baby shawl, and it would come out large enough to wrap around me. Mmmm......... famous last words. it wasn't working up as I'd hoped, so I un-pulled it and found another pattern.

In the end I used the free "Meandering Vines Shawl" to be found on Ravelry, though I tweaked  it a bit to suit my purpose. It is knitted in two halves, which are then grafted together, something I have only done once before and that was nearly 35 years ago. So consequently there are no close-up pics of my grafting! Still, my wrap is finished for when the cooler weather finally arrives.

My second project is this lovely scarf. It was born purely for the need of something to do while on a flying trip up north. My wrap was finished, all except the grafting, so I needed something else, something that I could see easily without dragging magnifiers around or needing excellent light. I found three balls of Payton's "Embrace", a 2 ply yarn of 90% merino wool - 10% silk, in my stash. So I quickly searched my patterns and found this, the "Flit 'n' Float" scarf, by Birdy Evans, also available for  free on Ravelry. I had used one of the charts of this patten to make this scarf a few years back, now I wanted to do the whole thing.

The pattern began with  a provisional cast on, something I had not done before. This method creates 'live' stitches which are placed on another yarn, then picked up later to knit the remainder of the scarf. The flounce is knitted first, from the base of the scarf to outside edge of the flounce. The stitches are cast off, then picked up again from the provisional casting on and then the  remainder of the scarf is worked. It was interesting doing this and really not that hard.

I am very happy with this scarf, it is warm and light, & long enough to wrap around my neck twice. I also love the beautiful feel of the yarn. Now all I have to do is think about what to do with the remainder, I still have a ball and a half left. I am thinking gloves to match, so watch this space! Think I will be warn enough this winter?

Friday, February 07, 2014

Just a Little More Crazy

I am still going crazy.

There have been more of these crazy patchwork blocks to stitch & it has been an interesting exercise.

Not only is it brushing up on my surface stitching skills, (I prefer counted work)
my brain has had a little wok-out as well.
I know there are no rules to crazy patchwork, but when I  do it I like to work in some kind of order. Usually I put in some plain fabrics combined with the prints, I find it helps give the eye a rest.
Some of these blocks have got no plain fabrics, or in the case of the one above, only one tiny piece.
Then there were the seams, of which in some cases there were lots.
That meant there was lots of stitching needed to blur the seam lines. So instead I chose to use my stitching to cover large spaces quickly, add some focal points, accentuate colour, accentuate prints, create contrast, and somehow blur all those prints together. I think I did OK, and I am sure once they are all joined together the finished quilt will look fabulous.

It has been fun, but now I want to get back to my knitting and my beloved counted thread work.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Going a Little Crazy

I have been going a little crazy lately, crazy patch-working that is.

My local sewing group are having fun with some donated fabric scraps, and one lady has been busy pieceing all the small pieces together into some crazy pieced blocks. There are lots of them, so that means lots of hand stitching to decorate. Many of us are lending a hand, including myself.

Last week I got handed a pile, not sure how many, maybe about ten, so I have been busy stitching.

It's been a bit of fun really, letting the piece talk to me to tell me colour choice & stitch pattern.

It is amazing how some pieces talk to you & some don't, then all of a sudden they shout at me to use a certain colour. Some even get put away until they are ready to talk to me.

I have done four so far, with a little help from M------- in my sewing group( who pieced them all together & started stitching one some), and also my friend Robyn J who did some of the gorgeous stitching in the second piece above.

It has given me a break from my knitting & my huge sampler that I am working on, but they are both starting to call to me too, as is my sewing machine. many choices, so little time!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A New Year - A new Book Cover

Happy New Year! Yes I know, I'm a bit late, but I hope it is a good one for everyone, and a very creative one for all my textile friends.

I also know it has been a while since I have been here. I have still been creating though, lots of things in the "Slow Cloth Category". But more about those later.

For today, I want to show you all my quick little creation of a book cover. It is to cover yet another inspiration book. The book is to inspire my local sewing group friends that inspiration for projects can come from anywhere. Inside the book is just clippings from magazines and mainly shop catelogues, the type that get dropped in the letterbox just about on a daily basis.

The first clipping is one of a doona cover. It has bands of colour across the bottom, tucks placed in one of the bands of colour, then a print all over the remainder of the cover. I have used to the print as my inspiration.

To begin with I searched through some bags of fabric that I just sorted through and pulled out three that would go together. The green was from my stash, but the pink and the check were from scraps. Interfacing on the back, pieced together, then appliqued and machine embroidered.

The machine embroidery was the fun bit, trying to find a stitch on my machine to look like what I wanted. Then playing with the colours to get something that looked good. After experimenting, & remembering that contrast embroidery to the base fabric took time to get it to look good. I settled on two shades darker than the fabric so that the mistakes were not quite as notaceable.

Then I wanted some embroidery on the outside of one flower. Silly me did not test it, and it looked like ****. I tried to unpick and got part-way there, but it was looking messier by the minute. At the back of my mind was this little voice reminding me 'never unpick- just cover it up'. So that's what I did, just covered up the mess with a larger flower. Who can tell?

My little bud needed something, so this is where I had fun playing with one of the features of my machine. I can set a stitch pattern to stitch from 1 - 10 pattern repeats, or to contujnue forever until I stop. I programmed it to stitch just one, hence my little staymens erer born.

All in all I am happy with the end result. I am hoping it will inspire the ladies of my group to try something new.