Friday, 23 September 2011

Shadows on the Wall

Well, I am a bit pleased with myself.  Not only have I just completed a stitched textile piece of work, I have completed it to deadline as my first entry to the International Quilt Challenge, with ten hours to spare.  I overcame my self-doubt and trepidation and actually did some stitched art.....

The first theme which challenged us was "Light and Shadow," and I was pursuing to separate ideas until I was struck by a beautiful photograph on a blog I follow, which completely fascinated me.  I loved the shapes of the leaves reflected by low sunlight onto a garden wall, but even more was intrigued by the way that the texture of the wall was variably visible through the shadows.  It had to be that one, and my other thoughts fell by the wayside.

I am pleased with the finished work, and enthralled by the incredibly beautiful and interesting variations being posted to the challenge blog as the big reveal happens.  I wonder what the next challenge will be?

I am very good at sabotaging myself and my creativity with self-doubt and paralysing anxiety, but it feels so good to have risen to the challenge and made something in cloth - it's been too long.

I am having hip surgery on Monday week, and the convalescence from that will probably provide ample opportunity for thinking about how to interpret the next subject.  I hope I can make an earlier start next time around and finish with more time to spare!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Heartfelt Creativity

Last year my friend and erstwhile C&G tutor, Jan Connett, curated an exhibition: Heartfelt  in Bristol's Centre Space Gallery.  This year a new Heartfelt will be held at the Bradley Grant Gallery during the month of September, this time in support of  the British Heart Foundation.  

I have submitted two hearts for this exhibition.  The brief was to make hearts which could be seen from both sides, so my first one was worked in traditional rag rugging techniques on hessian.  Above, you can see the hooked side.  Below the proggy side is shown and I like the way it creates a sort of fringe at the edge of the hooked side.

Mt second heart is in foiled stained glass, and I plan to make more of these in due course as it was very enjoyable to create, even if a drop of solder did leap off my soldering iron and onto my hand, so I now have a pair of scarred hands.  The burn is one, and the other is my poor index finger which was gashed a few weeks ago when caught in the car door.  It's still very tender and unfortunately the wound became infected so I needed a course of antibiotics.  It's now virtually healed but will take a while to return to normal.

I am looking forward to seeing what other people have come up with this time around, and really hope a lot of   money is raised for BHF.

Friday, 20 May 2011

More Cosiness

I found another, naked, hot water bottle lurking in the appropriate cupboard, so decided it, too, needed to be more safely cuddlesome and that I must knit a second hot water bottle cover.  This time, I decided to follow the Toasty pattern, which is knit in chunky yarn, but that I would adapt the pattern to be worked in the round rather than from one long strip (avoiding an upside down cable on one of its faces, and the need to sew up afterwards) and to decrease for the neck in a similar way to Hoot, with eyelets and an i-cord to keep it snugly in place rather than a double polo-neck.

I finished knitting it yesterday.  It immediately needed washing, as the Texere Chunky yarn dye was not totally colour fast and knitting had given me turquoise hands, clothes and knitting needles.  Fortunately it washed off my hands and clothing but my wooden knitting needs now have some turquoise graining after washing them: luckily it's my favourite colour, but I prefer to choose where I have it!  It took three separate washes (first in silk and wool detergent, then twice with Colsperse before a final rinse with vinegar) before the bleeding stopped.

The cover has stretched a bit on the washing line too, but not disastrously so.  I'm glad I decided on a necktie for it, and the i-cord certainly makes a very satisfying tie.

I like the cables very much and would certainly work this pattern again, perhaps with a size smaller needle.  It seems silly to be thinking about cosying up next winter already, when we still seem so close to the last one, but poorly tums and achy backs can now be more comfortably and safely soothed as necessary.
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Thursday, 12 May 2011

Knitting in Jade

In March I challenged myself by knitting Annis.  It's a pretty narrow shawl in laceweight yearn, and a free pattern on Knitty.  What was challenging about it was that for the first time in my life, I had to tackle nupps.

I found a gorgeous yarn (silk/cashmere mix 2ply) in a fabulous jade colour, which would go well with some fabric I've bought to make some summer clothes when my sewing mojo returns.

I found knitting nupps made me feel tense cross, so I was relieved when that bit was over - dealing with keeping 7 loops being knit into one stitch tidy and together was not easy for me.  There is another way (at least one) of working them which involves the use of a crochet hook, and when/if I return to the nupp, I will try out that method instead.

Annis completed and blocked is, however, a pretty thing and the colour and feel are gorgeous.  I'd better hurry up and get sewing so I've got the rest of the outfits to go with mine!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

What a hoot!

It's been a long, hard winter and I've been ill a lot with a chain of nasty viral illnesses, curled up in bed, on the sofa or in the magic armchair, unable to do very much at all. The latest bug gave me horrible tummy pains and I spent a lot of time cuddled up to a hot water bottle for comfort, the bottle wrapped in a couple of tea-towels for insulation: the brainwave of my son. This was a very good temporary measure, but I decided the time had come to make something more permanent and less Heath Robinson.

A quick search through Ravelry revealed several possibilities, but then I saw Hoot. I'm a bit of a collector of owls - what is that called? - and have been fascinated by the cabled owl motif I have seen on jumpers and other knitting projects, so this seemed the perfect pattern to follow.

I love the figure-of-eight cast-on, which created this lovely braided effect:-

It took me three days to knit the cosy, and it was very enjoyable to work. The pattern calls for working with two strands of aran thickness wool worked together on 6.5mm needles - I used a circular needle and the magic loop method.

Once the knitting was complete, I crocheted a chain tie with two strands of yarn and a 6mm crochet hook, before working the embroidered eyes.

Rather than using the not-very-cuddly buttons some people had used, or the satin stitch suggested in the pattern, I worked rounds of blanket stitch rather densely with some leftover dark grey aran yarn and I'm pleased with the effect.

Now my poorly tum is better and warmer weather persists, so I have not yet had cause to use my newly swaddled hot water bottle. But when the occasion arises again, it will be ready and waiting!
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