Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Stitch this?

It's harder for me to find time to write about what I'm making than it is to do the making, but while of course it sucks for those of you hanging on my every word; I like me a lot more when I have lots of creating time as opposed to nothing better to do than blog time.

I'll open on a work in progress that's thanks to a surprise announcement.

It's been on the go for a few weeks, but I have started it over once, since as usual my approach to using a pattern is on the looser side and my initial start wasn't doing the business.

This is going to be a jacket for Will and I's very first nibling; who is due to arrive a week after our wedding. The pattern I'm starting from is this 'scrappy socky stripey cardigan'. I have a vision for this, inspired by the father-to-be (Will's brother), so there are of course many amendments being made. I shan't spoil the surprise of what exactly I'm going for until it's handed over, but I am very encouraged by the fact that everyone I've explained the concept to so far has assured me that I'll be the very coolest auntie if I pull it off.

In the winter break catch up section, let's return to my newest craft and look at some of the embroidered things.
One of the decisions I made about the wedding early on was that I wanted to give people a real incentive to join in. Pinterest and the wedding blogs are crawling with ideas for photo scavenger hunts to pop on your tables, but I got the impression nobody actually did them.
So why not offer prizes for completing those challenges?

A lucky dip seemed like the way to go - a mixture of things we'd made, things we've found, and little treats - and since I was in the throes of a stitching passion, embroidered brooches were just... obvious.

I'm sticking to the woodland theme but having all sorts of fun trying different stitches and techniques, and I don't think I can pick a favourite. Indeed, the more I think about continuing to write about them, the more I think I should pick out a few to go into detail about.
What do you think, readers, which of these would you like to read more about?

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Catch up time then...

Well winter sure did kick my ass... The months since are totally my problem though.

I was having a lot of trouble arranging for photos of my finished things between the full time work and the dark months of winter, and then the light started coming back and I don't have any excuses for that, I've just been doing things that aren't this.

I did get a picture of the hat from the pink hand-spun yarns that I showed you last time I updated. Pattern is made up based on basic principles and a variation of the flower chart from here.

Sadly this is the best picture there is of this hat because since it was taken I left the bloody thing on a number 8 bus. We did ask lost property but they said nothing had been handed in, so I suppose someone out there got a new hat that day. I hope they're taking better care of it than I did.

I kept enough notes that I could make myself another though (possibly not out of hand-spun this time):
I started with 100 stitches in 2x2 rib for 15 rows, then increased every other stitch in stockinette for one row, then every third stitch for another, to give myself a repeat of 20 stitches.
If I do do it again I'll make the ribbing deeper so it stops falling off my ears.

Accompanying the hat in this picture, the project that immediately followed it - a pair of Gansey Wristers in Drops Alpaca. I have not yet left these on a bus, but one of them did spend a day in a puddle in the road when they fell out of my pocket. I was very grateful to find it again on my way home.

I made a pair of these for my brother's girlfriend as a Christmas present a few years ago, and have intended to make myself some ever since. Having started a job where I have hour-long lunch breaks their turn came around at last.

Next time: we'll start a little catch up, and a new project for a new member of the family!

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Wonderful plumage

Having been distracted by all that embroidery, the Pincha shawl has had most of the work on it done while out and about. It joined me on holiday to Sweden last month, has been seen on trains and in pubs many times, and had to have two whole feathers ripped back when I realised the reason the counts weren't working is that I'd dropped three whole stitches.

So it's not gone as quickly as it might if I'd concentrated on it (probably my mum, who is a) a faster knitter than me and b) only works on one thing at a time, would be able to finish one in under a week while I've taken 3 months). It's done at last though. The yarn stretched to 20 feathers and would almost have done 25 but there wouldn't be quite enough for the cast off row.

And Bristol University Botanical Garden was the perfect place to take pictures of the finished product.

I think this is going to be one to wear with only neutrals just because it's a lot of colours to handle, but oh goodness it is soft and warm and two total strangers said they liked it while we were out so I'm marking it down as a success.

Vital stats:
Pattern: Pincha Shawl (20 feathers)
Yarn: Devon Sun Yarns Sprightly Sock (% Merino, % Nylon) from a colour club subscription box
Needles: 3.25mm HiyaHiya bamboo circulars.

And now on to a pink hat in merino handspun.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Posting about posting

I said last month when I last updated (July got out of hand) that there was a project in the works and the ball is rolling.

I organised a little gang of strangers on the internet to exchange handmade journals with each other as a fun pen-pal activity.

I sent out one of these little books to Ohio:

(the Chamomile one, from 2:47 in the video)

The one I got in return is this cutie and I've got underway with filling it in.

Having just got back from a holiday it seemed appropriate to include a little about that. I took my instax camera along, in spite of the danger airport x-ray scanners apparently pose the film (I've got away with it so far but I've heard bad things). In Stockholm's old town I took two pictures of this charming bit of architecture, and managed to not change the lighting settings for one of them, so it got overexposed.

A creative person has ways of making this work as a souvenir of course, I raided the sharpie stash which lives in my year nine pencil case and really? I'm quite pleased with the result.

In other news, we roped in my mother in law to be for help with the wedding invites. Those will be secret til after the event (unless you're invited, of course), but I might share some of the process. The aforementioned parent has quite a knack with watercolours so I'm hoping her help will turn my smudgy, illegible work in progress into something I can happily send out to all my loved ones.

Also in the works, more embroidery, and the pincha shawl should be finished in time for the worst of the summer to wear off!

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Let's talk goals a minute...

It's a shame a bin liner full of raw fleece is so unphotogenic, but goal number one is turning one of those, containing maybe a third of a llanwenog ewe's fleece, into yarn, before I bring home any more fleece.

This has been bumped up the priority list because, as part of participating in Open Farm Sunday with our friends at Court Farm Shop in Bishop's Cleeve, we get to buy fleece from the shearer, and meet people who have sheep and fleeces to spare. Mum has a portland fleece (from a ewe named 'Delight'!) in the attic with my name on it, as soon as I have space for it.

Other goals:
That cat embroidery from my previous post had turned into a patch and been attached to a jacket, but it needs more companions - I have two bi-flag themed patches in progress to join it, in hopes it'll be cool enough to wear a jacket when we go to Pride (It won't be, it's been over 26c here for the last week and a half with no signs of cooling down and I am SUFFERING).
So, those need to be a) finished, b) attached to the jacket in time for the parade on 14th July.

I haven't finished the Pincha shawl yet, but it'll be done by the time it's cool enough to wear a scarf as long as it's my project to take on the move.

Wedding crafts wise, I have one half finished crocheted vine, a couple of dozen paper flowers and a tree stump to work on eventually, but the more urgent thing is sorting out the art for invitations. I've done half of it, but perfectionism is kicking my arse over my amateurish watercolouring and I'm stalled.

There's a bunch of dressmaking and cosplay stuff just abandoned in a corner waiting for me to ease sleeves, shorten torsos and actually make space to cut things out, but who knows when I'll get any motivation for that.

And, being me I've taken on another project on a whim, this time roping in a little gang of other people. I'll pop some more stuff about that up here next time probably, once I'm ready to send things out.

In the meantime, I would love to hear about everyone's craft goals for the summer. Are you super organised and preparing for midwinter gift exchanges already? Are you drowning under dozens of half done projects like I am?

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Don't try to appeal to my impulse control, I haven't got one.

If I were left unattended with a reasonable income and plenty of storage space, I'd probably pick up a new craft or artistic technique about twice a year at least.
 With attentive company, a fairly low income and a bit more than half of one small flat to store my things, it's a little less frequent but I still have slips. And when Hobbycraft send you a birthday voucher, put shiny things by their tills, and have one of the sales assistants give you a nice pitch for a line of kits I think a slip is entirely forgivable.

 Plus, now I've made this lovely thing! (Instead of many hours work on any of the other dozens of projects in progress stashed about my home.)

I sort of wish I'd timed how long it took. I could guess at an average of a couple of hours work on it a day since I started it just over a week ago, but it would be a guess and probably a conservative one.

Of course now the embroidering is done I'm not sure what to do with it.

We have enough throw pillows about, enough art hanging on the walls, and I don't really know how I'd go about turning it into a patch or where I'd put it once I had(if you've any advice on that though, do let me know).

The upside I can insist upon is that I can now make better use of the assorted embroidery threads I bought myself to make friendship bracelets out of many moons ago, and the stash that came in grandma's sewing box (though I wish I knew why she needed at least six shades of pastel pink).

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Pincha scarf progress

The best part of a couple of hours on the train and an afternoon at your nan's house?
Plenty of knitting time.

Pincha shawl in a Devon Sun Yarns colour club exclusive set.

This is slightly less than half the scarf it will be. Variegated yarn has its problems and Pincha exists to make the best of it. Short row shaping forms one feather after another and breaks up a variegated colourway quite attractively.

Well, for a certain value of attractive. After my first couple of feathers I was very excited for how this one going to turn out, after about seven I was fairly sure I hated it? 
Now I'm up to a few repeats of the full colour sequence it's growing on me again,(and mum coos appreciatively every time she sees it) and I'm looking forward to having the finished scarf to show off. Hopefully that won't take too long, as it's conveniently a very good pattern to take on the go (as long as you make good use of stitch markers so you don't have to keep track of rows too closely). It's even been to visit a host of beautiful feathered friends at Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water, like this Superb Starling whose plumage puts mine to shame.

It's a fun pattern to actually knit as well - I might even knit another one or two - maybe giant ones like this from Auduraka on Ravelry.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Crowning it

On Christmas morning my partner of three years proposed to me.

Being a) a person who is always either making things or thinking about making things and b) not wealthy, it was clear that a noticeable part of this celebration would be handmade and DIY. As of writing, I have started three wedding projects.

One of them is even finished - and what I'll be sharing today (Please don't panic if you find wedding stuff dull as ditchwater, there will be non-wedding projects covered here too).

A few weeks before the question was popped, chatting idly, a friend had suggested that a magical woodland theme might be cute. The image this evoked immediately was so clear and so, so me that the decision was made right there and then. I'll get on to the first project I started on later, but for now, here is my second project, and the first to finish.

I'd read about knitting with wire, but hadn't tried it. When I started looking at bridal tiaras and crowns for inspiration I had first thought of a laurel wreath like a Greek Goddess - since the bridal party aesthetic should evoke Titania's court in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Some research suggested that buying a nice one would be beyond my budget, so I had to think about how to make one.

Thus, knitted wire. I'd seen it talked about online; I'm a knitter above all else; and its organic quality of its shape and capacity to have extra decoration added seemed just the thing.

I bought some 36 gauge beading wire and started swatching.
This is in garter stitch on 3.5mm needles. The garter stitch concertinas up - so you have to use more wire to cover your space - and I found the density of the 'fabric' and how it felt to knit with less than ideal.

Switching to 6mm needles and stocking stitch I started to get a fabric I liked much better. You'll find even in something as stiff as wire, stocking stitch still curls up.

I knit on to the end of my reel of wire, added a few beads to see how they would look (lovely) and how practical it would be to add them into the knitted fabric as I went along (not very, for my taste), and started fiddling about with shaping it. Doubling up the bottom by folding the crown makes it sturdier, solves the stocking stitch curl issue, and I found it easy enough to secure the layers together when I went back to add in beads later.
Here is my prototype, modelled by the purplebird -

The fabric was still too diaphanous, but after a little more reading up I decided 24 gauge wire would do nicely and ordered a few reels in copper. While I waited for them to arrive I played with point shapes in some scrap yarn and settled on a broader point style for me and a sharper one for my partner.

Once I'd made my mind up, the knitting of each one took about three days, and beading them a couple more...
 And by gosh they are just what I was hoping they'd be.

Stitch this?

It's harder for me to find time to write about what I'm making than it is to do the making, but while of course it sucks for those o...